Posted by: MrJoseph45 | December 31, 2010

A Hallowed Beginning

harry_potter_and_the_deathly_hallows_part_i_xlgAs my NYE tradition, I decided to go take myself to the movies.  Today’s movie was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.  The Warner Bros. release stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, and Helena Bonham Carter.  This franchise has been a blockbuster since day one, and I hate the fact that it took me so long to get into them.  When I went into the movie, I expected nothing less than mayhem unleashed, and it didn’t disappoint.

The movie begins on a sad note as Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) was forced to cast a spell on her parents to keep them protected, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) sending his uncle, aunt, and cousin away, and Ronald Weasley (Rupert Grint) looking over the horizon at the coming storm.  The movie then picks up the pace, as they round up the gang to protect Harry from Lord Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters.  This sets up a confrontation over Little Whinging as Dumbledore’s Army and the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix take on the Death Eaters in a thrilling aerial battle.  Lives are lost, and – after a brief reprise for a wedding – the trio set forth to find the Horcruxes and destroy Lord Voldermort once and for all.  Along the way, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is named the head of Hogwarts, and Dolores Umbridge and the rest of the Ministry of Magic set forth to persecute any half-blood wizards or Muggles and perpetuate their belief in only pure blood wizards.

harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallowsTo watch Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint over the years, they display a wealth of chemistry and familiarity with each other.  It’s been wonderful to watch them grow into their characters and grow into themselves.  They are all wonderful actors and it’s fun to see their interplay.  Radcliffe and Watson have a scene that really shines, and they’re almost in the same vein as John Steed and Emma Peel from “The Avengers.”

My favorite of the trio was Rupert Grint; he had a lot to do in this movie, and he didn’t disappoint.  He showed great range in his emotions, and you actually felt the jealousy Ron felt with Harry and Hermione’s closeness.  Of course, it came to play later in the movie, but it was fun to watch it get there.

Ralph Fiennes is given a lot to do with Lord Voldermort, and he really shines in this one.  Voldermort is evil personified, and Fiennes revels in playing the bad guy.  He chews scenery like it’s pizza, and it’s a sight to behold when he really sinks his teeth into the part.  Alan Rickman doesn’t have a lot to do, but he plays Snape with menace and a hint of remorse.

bellatrix-lestrangeWatching Helena Bonham Carter onscreen is scary.  She really acts bedazzled and unstable – much like how Bellatrix Lestrange really is.  She had some moments that really creeped me out, and that doesn’t happen too often.  For that to happen from this movie was a testament to her performance.

David Yates returns to direct this movie – his third in the series – and he shows his experience and familiarity with the cast.  The silent parts of the movie are filled with depth, and he handles the action like a seasoned pro.  The cinematography was done by Eduardo Serra, and the only real problem I had with it was that it was too dark.  That may be the result of the theater I was in, but I couldn’t really tell for sure.  Alexandre Desplat handles the score, joining such composers as John Williams, Patrick Doyle, and Nicholas Hooper.  His score is more muted, but it doesn’t slack on emotion.  The tenseness of the situation at hand was simply breathtaking.

I really got a kick out of this movie.  The thing I enjoyed most about it was how they bucked tradition with the start of the film.  Most of the films start off lighthearted and funny, but this one couldn’t be bothered with that.  This one started sad and really didn’t lighten up.  There was one moment of frivolity, but even that was short-lived, as more despair came into play.  I don’t think this is spoiling anything, but it even ENDED sad.  That was something I had personally been hoping for, and it finally delivered.  It definitely got me in the mood to watch Part 2…just in time for my 34th birthday.  I’ll give this movie four More Epic than Love Jones; not giving it five just yet, because I want to see the finished product.  Until then…

Expecto Patronum!

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Posted by: MrJoseph45 | December 28, 2010

A Change Gon’ Come…

As you all may know, I’m a big fan of movies.  Yeah, I know that’s like saying water is wet, but work with me; I’m going somewhere here.

I’ve done countless reviews since I started blogging, some of them were great movies (Star Trek, Black Swan – yes, I put them in the same category; it’s my blog, damn it!), some of them were okay (The Expendables, Knight and Day), and some of them were just awful (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Prince of Persia).  Through it all, I’ve always had a ranking system saluting my favorite college team, the UAB Blazers.  When I gave out dragon head ratings, this is the one I used:

24272

However, there is a change coming down the pike.  No, I haven’t been sued by UAB, but that’s primarily because I haven’t put up images of the dragon head with my reviews.  In fact, outside of using the images from the various movies, I haven’t really posted any images at all.  Starting with my next review – which will probably be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 if I have my way – I’ll be using the following rating scale instead:

Yes, the “More Epic Than Love Jones” scale.  This is probably gonna piss some people off because they say Love Jones is the greatest black movie of all times, but it’s not.  Sorry to break it to you.  If I had to say there was a great black movie, I’d personally go with Malcolm X.  That’s just my opinion, though.  Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourselves, “Why is he switching to that?”

Well, I’ll tell you.

I’ve been asked by Kriss – the founder of The Insanity Report and host of The Insanity Check – Your Source For Social and Political Comedy to join his new site, where he discusses movie trailers and reviews movies.  The name of the site is Movie Trailer Reviews.

Now, I don’t think he’ll be posting my review for the latest Harry Potter movie – that’s already up there, but every review after that will be shared between here and there.  I look forward to having more readers check out my stuff as well as welcoming more people to come and see what I talk about over here.

And that…is more epic than Love Jones.

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | December 25, 2010

One Disturbing Swan

black_swan_ver7_xlgFirst of all, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  I hope you and yours are enjoying the time with family and friends.  We celebrated Christmas by going to the movies.  Today’s movie is the Fox Searchlight feature Black Swan.  The psychological thriller is directed by Darren Arnofsky stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, and Wynona Rider.  The movie centers around a production of Swan Lake, and the effect that it has on a young woman struggling to keep her sanity while fighting for the lead role.  The movie has picked up all sorts of acclaim, and some of the actors are being talked about for major awards, and after watching it for myself, I can see why.

The movie centers around Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), an incredibly talented –  but high-strung – ballerina for a prestigious ballet company in New York.  As they prepare to say goodbye to a “retiring” prima ballerina named Beth MacIntyre (Wynona Rider), they’re also making plans for the start of the new season by opening with a new rendition of Swan Lake.  The director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) is reluctant to cast Nina, because he feels that she is unable to capture the raw sensuality of the Black Swan; he feels that the innocent Nina is better suited for the role of the White Swan.  Only problem is that the same ballerina plays both parts.  As Nina begins her preparations for the big role, she meets a ballerina named Lily (Mila Kunis), and it is apparent that she is everything Nina is not; whereas Nina is innocent and strives for control in every aspect of her life, Lily is more wild and carefree.  When these two clash, it can only go in one direction.

Black-Swan-Natalie-Portman-1I have always been a fan of Natalie Portman; ever since I first saw her in Léon: The Professional, I knew she was destined for greatness.  She had a few hits and misses along the way (I’m looking at you, George Lucas), but she really shines in this movie.  She plays her character perfectly.  You literally watch Nina as she makes her descent from a mildly disturbed woman to a complete descent into madness, and – much like the White Swan from the play – that descent is hard and painful.

black_swan_reviewMila Kunis is spectacular in her role as Lily.  Her character is supposed to be free and uninhibited, and she does that to perfection.  It is amazing to watch her in her scenes as she plays her character in a way that makes you wonder if she’s really trying to be a friend to Nina, or if she has her sight on the most prestigious role out there: the role of the White Swan.  She displays a sensuality so strong that you wonder if she’s actually working for Vivid Video and not Fox Searchlight.

Vincent Cassel plays the part of Thomas Leroy as a bit of an enigma.  He obviously cares about the production on the stage, and he does nothing to betray those feelings.  However, he also has an unorthodox way of getting the best out of his performers.  Some of the things he does to try to loosen Nina up is pretty close to sexual harassment, though.  It’s rather uncomfortable to watch a lot of it, but it appears to be somewhat effective.

Every time I saw Barbara Hershey on screen, all I could say was “that woman is crazy!”  Know what?  It fit.  Barbara Hershey plays Erica Sayers as a domineering control freak who has an odd way of showing love to her daughter.  She is just incredibly controlling, and it’s rather disturbing to watch her lose that control.  Wynona Rider has a small role, but it is a potent one.  She shows where Nina could end up if she isn’t careful.  Funny thing is, I didn’t even realize it was her until the end of the movie.

IMG_5857.CR2Darren Arnofsky is a fantastic director, and he shows his mettle here.  He shows a firm pacing that is really incredible, and he really lets us get into the heads of these characters – for good or for ill.  The cinematography by Matthew Libatique is beautiful; the way that the camera follows Nina as she goes through her daily routine or when she hits the stage is simply breathtaking.  The score by Clint Mansell is phenomenal, and he took a lot of his cues from Tchaikovsky’s play.  That’s not necessarily a good thing, though; doing that robbed him of the chance of getting an Academy Award nomination.

I really loved this movie.  It was beautiful, haunting, and damning all at once.  It made me feel uncomfortable, but it wasn’t so uncomfortable that I wanted to turn away.  It had a high level of anxiety that I hadn’t seen in a movie since District 9, and it was painfully wonderful to watch.  At the end of the movie, you realize that you’ve gone on that descent with Nina, and it’s a exquisitely painful fall at that.  I give this movie five dragon heads out of five, and it deserves every accolade it gets.

After all, it is painfully……perfect.

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | December 4, 2010

Enter the Red Hood

Batman_Under_the_Red_Hood-While wasting time before going to bed last night, I decided to browse Netflix and see if they had anything on worth watching in the Instant Queue.  Never mind the fact that I have tons of movies in the queue to start with.  I wanted to watch something that wasn’t two hours or more, so I went looking with that in mind.  I ended up finding the Warner Bros. animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood.  I wanted to watch that film anyway, so I was thrilled to stumble across it.  The film features the voices of Bruce Greenwood, Neil Patrick Harris, Jensen Ackles, John DiMaggio, Wade Williams, and Jason Isaacs.  I’ve always been a fan of the Warner Bros. animated movies, and I was looking to really sink my teeth into this one and see how it compares to some of the others that I’ve seen.

It starts off with a bang, as we get to see Jason Todd’s version of Robin (Jensen Ackles) in action.  Unfortunately, he’s in action against the Joker (John DiMaggio), who has the upper hand – and a crowbar.  We come in to see the Joker brutally beating down Robin, almost beating him to death.  Of course, Robin isn’t going down lightly; in fact, he drubs him with multiple one liners to show that he’s not afraid of him.  Overseeing all of this is Ra’s al Ghul (Jason Isaacs) who is wondering if Batman (Bruce Greenwood) will make it in time to save his trusted companion.  If you know the story, he doesn’t.  In fact, he gets blowed up real good.  A grieving Batman is able to retrieve his body and give him a proper funeral.  Back in Gotham City, a new vigilante known as Red Hood appears and starts taking over territory from the drug lord Black Mask (Wade Williams).  Batman and his former teammate Dick Grayson – the first Robin, now fighting crime as Nightwing (Neil Patrick Harris) have to find out who this mysterious Red Hood is and determine whether or not he is on the side of good.

bat_holding_robinAs Batman voices go, it’s usually Kevin Conroy first, and everyone else is a distant second.  However, Bruce Greenwood does a very capable job as the Dark Knight.  He has the same gravelly delivery that Conroy perfected, but he also gave him a bit of a tortured soul, an expression showing how disappointed he is that he didn’t protect those that are important to him.

Jensen Ackles became a favorite of mine from his short stint on Smallville as Jason Teague.  I know he’s done well for himself with Supernatural, but I don’t watch that show, so I don’t have an opinion on it.  I do have an opinion on his voice acting, though; the voices he provide are spot-on.  There comes a certain point in the film where you really feel his pain, and that’s the mark of a great voice actor.

Neil Patrick Harris is a funny guy.  Nightwing was a funny character in the DC lore.  The two fit perfectly here.  NPH is at his wisecracking best as his Nightwing pays the proper respects to Batman, all the while putting his own mark on keeping Gotham City safe.

John DiMaggio is an amazing voice actor, but he had some amazingly large shoes to fill.  Like Bruce Greenwood, he had to step in and do a voice that Mark Hamill made iconic.  DiMaggio’s Joker is menacing and utterly psychotic, and the glee his Joker takes in causing death and destruction is actually very scary. Some of his scenes aren’t for the faint of heart.

batman_under_the_red_hood_still_21Wade Williams’ portrayal of Black Mask is as menacing as DiMaggio’s version of the Joker.  The only difference is, DiMaggio’s Joker has a creepy laugh.  Black Mask doesn’t laugh.  Black Mask is more prone to knock you out than anything.  He plays Black Mask as an utterly evil and vile character, not afraid to lay out his own henchmen with a well-timed punch to the eye.  Ra’s al Ghul isn’t given a whole lot to do, but when he does, Jason Isaacs is able to use the screen time he has effectively.  His exposition scenes are eye-opening.

The film is directed by Brandon Vietti, and he has excellent pacing throughout.  The action scenes don’t seem to overdone, and the scenes without action seem to fit in quite nicely.  The music by Christopher Drake isn’t too overblown, and it sets the mood perfectly every time.  The animation itself is incredibly crisp, and nothing feels out of place.

I got a kick out of this movie.  I like my Batman to be a bit dark and a bit deadly, and this fit the bill.  I’m glad I caught this on Instant Queue, and there’s even a chance that I may just go ahead and pick it up – it was that good.  It wasn’t the longest movie I’ve seen, so that may detract some people.  All in all, it is a good way to kill an hour or so of time.  I give this four dragon heads out of five, and I recommend it for any DC fans.

You’ll get a kick out of it.

batman_under_the_red_hood_2

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | November 30, 2010

Thanks For the Weekend

Okay, so…in case you didn’t know it, last Thursday was Thanksgiving.

Yeah, I know they celebrate Thanksgiving in October in Canada, but I don’t live in Canada.  So, there.  Anyway, as is my normal tradition, I went home to Birmingham for Thanksgiving.  This is my story.

I left work early on Wednesday.  My reasoning for this was two-fold.  Firstly, I did it because I had to take my wife to a doctor’s opponent where we’d hear Megan’s heartbeat.  Secondly, I did it because my supervisor let us off early – or earlier than I would have originally gotten off.  So, we went to the appointment, heard her heartbeat for a few seconds, and left.

*PAUSE*

About that heartbeat…Megan would not sit still long enough for us to actually hear it.  We heard it for about a second and a half before she moved.  She moved around so much that she shorted out the batteries in the Doppler.  She even kicked the microphone in protest.  Bear in mind that this is the same child who – on her second ultrasound – decided she didn’t want to give us a second profile picture; in fact, she started shaking her head no and moving her mouth as if to say “I ain’t doin’ it!”

*RESUME*

I dropped my wife off, and I was on my way to Birmingham.  Normally, the trip takes me about three and a half hours, but I think it took an extra 45 minutes this time due to traffic.  I finally got into town at about 8:30 and had to immediately go to the airport.  Why?  I had to pick up my mom, who was flying in from (deep in the heart of) Texas.  Sorry, I had to do it.  (SIDENOTE: While I was waiting for my mom, I ran into Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs.  He seems like a good guy, and he’s going to be one hell of an officer.)  While I was excited about seeing her again after a long time, I was a little apprehensive as well.  I didn’t quite know how she would react to my new vehicle.

Did I forget to mention that?

Well, I got a new vehicle.  I now drive a 2009 silver Ford Escape.  I like it; it’s roomy, and it’s not gonna threaten to fall apart every time I hit a pebble on the ground.  It’s also pretty safe as well, and that’s important to me now more than ever before.

So, I pick my mom up and we walk to the Escape, and I really thought she was gonna freak.  Instead, she was calm and said she expected me to do it.  She said it drove well, and she understands why I did it.  With my having to drive across the Mobile Bay Bridge every day for work, it only makes sense for me to have a safer car.  We finally get home, I unload the car, and I almost immediately go to sleep.

I wake up the next day and I feel like someone bashed my head with a hammer.  Somehow, between driving up to Birmingham and waking up on Thanksgiving morning, I got sick.  I don’t know if it was a cold or the flu, and I really didn’t give a damn; I DIDN’T LIKE IT.  I just knew that it would impede my enjoyment of the food that I was about to eat.  Thankfully, it didn’t, because that was some delicious food.  I would post pictures, but I was too busy eating it to take pictures of it.  I will say this much; my stepbrother’s girlfriend made some macaroni and cheese that rivals my sister-in-law’s, AND she made a mocha cake.  Good Lord, that cake was awesome! 

I then did something I haven’t done in years, and that’s visit my dad’s side of the family.  I have no animosity towards them; on the contrary, I love them dearly.  It’s just that I have so little time to see everyone that I just can’t seem to squeeze everything in during what amounts to a day and a half.  I sat and talked with one of my aunts and one of my cousins and we had a good old time.  I was expecting some of the other family members to come to her house, but I guess I waited too late.  Maybe I’ll have another chance soon; who knows, right?

After I left her house, I went back home.  I didn’t stay up too late on Thanksgiving, because I was sick and we were driving to Huntsville the next day.  I figured I’d be okay when I woke up; after all, rest does tend to cure what ails you, right?

WRONG.

I woke up on Friday and wanted to run headfirst into a wall.  I was so out of it that I could barely function.  It didn’t help matters that it was frigidly cold, either; the temps dropped from the mid 60s to the high 40s.  In fact, it was in the low 30s when I woke up – at 3:30 in the morning.  Why?  Black Friday shopping, that’s why.  My brother and I drove to Best Buy because that’s our tradition.  We go, we laugh at people standing in line (this year, the line was stretched out past Bruno’s), and we get in and out in almost record time.  This year, I bought myself season nine of Smallville, and he got himself a car stereo for his car – Roxanne with the Black Dress.  Yes, that’s what he calls his car.  We were in and out in less than 30 minutes, and we drove back home so I could go back to sleep.

When I woke up again, I felt even worse; I felt so bad that I was having second thoughts about doing the driving to Huntsville.  I didn’t wanna do it, but I had to drive that trip.  So, after a stop at the Dollar Tree to get some snacks to ride to, that’s what we did.  Now, let me just go on record as saying that I love this time of year because I love Christmas music.  We listened to Christmas music the whole way, and my brother “serenaded” us with every song.  EVERY song.  It was in his usual off-key singing, but he did it anyway.  I was a bit annoyed, but I was also going between swigs of Tussin, Sudafed, and Halls cough drops.  You’d be surprised how well that combination doesn’t work.  We made it up to Huntsville and my aunt’s house in time for them to watch the “Iron” Bowl.  I amused myself by going on Twitter.

When my cousin Kelvin came around, we went on a multi-faceted tour of Huntsville…as usual.  He showed me his new house, we went to try to pick up one of my cousins, we went to visit another one when that failed, then we went back to my aunt’s house.  We left shortly thereafter to try to pick up the cousin we tried to before, but he was so engrossed in the “Iron” Bowl that he couldn’t be buggered.  So, he got a little upset, but we left anyway.  We came back in time to see Auburn score the winning touchdown (yay…… :/) and eat dinner.  I got to see some folks I hadn’t seen in years, and it was a lot of fun.  We drove back down with me doing the same routine that I did on the way up and it surprisingly had NO success whatsoever, and I bought some NyQuil and was ready to fade out for the night, which I did…

…two hours later.

I woke up on Saturday feeling a bit better, but not well enough to forgo my regimen from the prior night.  I spent the day with my family and the evening with the fellas.  We watched the LSU-Arkansas game, went to Hooters, and came back to watch Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  If you haven’t read my review on that movie, please do.  Sunday, I went to church and I was able to announce to my church family back home that I had a baby girl on the way.  After church, I left about three, got to listen to the Grey Cup, and made it home just in time to watch Darian Durant throw the interception that cost the Roughriders a championship to the Montreal Alouettes.

All in all, it was a great time at home, and I look forward to getting there again.  Hopefully in better health.

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | November 9, 2010

Catching Up Is Easy to Do

So…how’s everyone been?

I haven’t made any sort of updates in a while, so I think I’m due.  So, what’s been going on in the world of Mr. Joseph?  Let’s see…

For starters, due to the fact that my wife is unable to keep a secret for longer than 30 seconds, I found out I’m having a baby girl.  Her expected due date is March 27th, but everyone knows these things change.  I’m looking forward to seeing and holding my baby girl for the first time and welcoming her to the world.  It’s funny, but I never thought I could love something so fiercely.  It’s nice to see how life changes a person.

I also have a new job that is incredibly fulfilling for me.  I work as a Computer Technology Specialist for a nonprofit organization, and I’m loving every second of it.  I’m responsible for IT support for a five county radius, and it requires me to go from site to site to ensure that everyone is up and working properly.  If they aren’t, then it’s my job to get them there.  It’s a whole lot of fun, and I get to see places in this state that I never thought I would.

I did the voting thing, and I’d be lying if I said I was thrilled with the results.  To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have been thrilled with the results either way it went.  As George Carlin called it, “Garbage in, garbage out.”  Until there is some new blood in office that’s not completely psychotic, then things will never improve.  Of course, there are people who are happy the way things are, and nothing I can say will change their perspective.  It is what it is.

So, there it is in a nutshell.  It’s not a long blog, but it’s concise.  I’ll try to write more, because I do miss it, but only time will tell when I get the opportunity to do so again.

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | October 18, 2010

Boldly Going Where No Blog Entry Has Gone Before…

Okay, so the title of this blog is a bit misleading, seeing that I’ve written about my love of Star Trek before, and will probably do so again in the future.  Anyway, I’ve always wanted to write about these films for the longest, but I never knew how to really get it started.  However, I decided to give it the old college try today, so we’ll see how well it works out.  Today’s blog post will be my ratings of all eleven Star Trek films from the bottom up.  This should be lots of fun.

11. Star Trek Nemesis

Star Trek Nemesis

Holy crap, this was terrible.

Nemesis is the last movie featuring the cast from The Next Generation, and it was about a Picard clone who wanted to take vengeance on Starfleet for the good of the Romulan empire…or something like that.

Truth be told, I only watched this one once, and the one time was more than enough.  The story seemed so implausible and so disinteresting that I just wanted to turn it off partly through.  The only saving grace was the impeccable score by Jerry Goldsmith.  If this is the way they wanted to send the TNG cast off, then they really must’ve hated them.  This guy was supposed to be the young Picard:

Shinzon

As opposed to the current Picard:

Picard

Okay…looking at that, I can sort of see it, but I’d have to be good and drunk to be completely convinced.  Anyway, that one time was more than enough, and if I never see this movie again, I won’t complain in the least.

Mr. Joseph’s Rating: 0 dragon heads out of five

10. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

I considered making this the worst, but I decided against it; Nemesis earned that one.

This film introduces Spock’s half brother Sybok, and he’s a certifiable whack job.  He said he received visions from what he believed to be “God,” and those visions told him to go and steal a ship and go to a place known to the Vulcans as Sha Ka Ree.  For point of fact, this is Sybok:

One crazed nutter...

The film was directed by William Shatner, and dear God was it horrible.  I’ve seen some horrendously shot films in my day (Major League: Back to the Minors immediately springs to mind), but this looked BAD.  Very bad.  It’s almost as if he let his ego get control of himself and it went BERSERK!  This was also the first film to display James Doohan’s missing finger.  Out of respect for Mr. Doohan, I refuse to find a picture of that; you want it, you can look yourself.

Mr. Joseph’s Rating: 0 dragon heads out of five

9. Star Trek: Insurrection

Star Trek: Insurrection

This wasn’t as bad as Nemesis, but it wasn’t that good, either.

Insurrection was about a rouge member of Starfleet disobeying the Prime Directive by forcing a peaceful group of people who have a spring that holds some sort of Fountain of Youth.  It’s the second of the four movies the TNG cast did, and it was okay.  Not great, but not terrible.  It watch it again if it were on AMC.

There are a couple of things I remember from this one.  I remember the hideous looking antagonist, played by F. Murray Abraham:

Ru'afo

And the fact that ship’s Counselor Deanna Troi said the water made her boobs perkier.  For the sake of clarity, this is Deanna Troi:

Deanna Troi

Like I said, I’d watch it again on AMC.  If it were given to me as part of the TNG film movie set, I’d watch it then, too.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot tractor beam.

Mr. Joseph’s Rating: 1 dragon head out of five

8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

This was Star Trek’s answer to Star Wars.  In my opinion, round one went to Star Wars.

This film was one of the most boring, driest films I’ve ever watched.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the Enterprise; I like the way the Enterprise looks flying through space.  What I didn’t like was all the gratuitous flying scenes in what appeared to be half the damn movie.  Of course, what it did do was introduce a couple onboard the ship – a theme that would be revisited with the cast of The Next Generation.

 Iliya and Decker - Credit to sheryl.org

The movie itself is about the original crew being reunited in a big budget film and having all of the glamour and splendor of being on the big screen.  Too bad the uniforms went from the ones we remembered to the crew walking around in pastel-colored pajamas.

Pajamas!

This is another one I’d watch again if it were given to me in the box set of the original cast films.  But, seeing that I have four of the six – not to mention three of the six I really enjoy, I don’t see myself ever owning it under any capacity.

Mr. Joseph’s Rating: 1.5 dragon heads out of five

7. Star Trek Generations

Star Trek Generations

This was the first of the films to feature the cast of The Next Generation, but they couldn’t have it to themselves.

This film killed off this guy:

You're dead, Jim.

I have some mixed emotions about this film.  On the one hand, it was good to see the TNG cast on screen.  On the other hand, they must not have thought too highly of that cast to pigeonhole Kirk into the film, only to kill him off.  How Kirk and Picard would fare against each other in a great space battle was the thing of early internet fandom (hell, it still may be a thing of internet fandom).  Instead, they go fight Malcom McDowell and let Kirk get killed by a damn bridge.

Best part of this movie was Data’s “Oh, shit.” 

We get it already

Otherwise, it’s one I’d either rent or watch in that box set.  Otherwise, no thanks.

Mr. Joseph’s Rating: 2 stars out of five

6. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

This movie appears to be based off of the superhero comic book continuity, because it’s apparent that no one stays dead in the Star Trek universe – except for villains.

I don’t think I’m spoiling this for anyone, but at the end of Star Trek II, Spock dies.  If I didn’t mention it now, the title would be considered ridiculous.  Anyway, they jettison Spock’s coffin onto the Genesis planet, and he comes back to life.  That’s good, but it’s also bad.  It’s good because they give Leonard Nimoy his job back.  It’s bad because the Genesis planet is unstable and breaking up.  So, Kirk and company disobey Starfleet orders and go back to save him.

This movie had some of the most inexplicable casting I’ve ever seen.  Christopher Lloyd and John Laroquette as Klingons? 

Great Scott!!!

Robin Curtis replacing Kristie Alley as Saavik?  I couldn’t find any decent pictures of Curtis’ Saavik, but I could find good and plenty of Alley’s rendition.  Go figure.

Anyway, this movie was the middle of a loose trilogy of sorts, and it’s practically unavoidable as far as the series goes.  With that in mind, it’s worth the watch for that alone.  Watching the Vulcan mating ritual of pon farr is worth it as well.

Mr. Joseph’s Rating: 3 dragon heads out of five

The next five movies are practically interchangeable, and I just rated them at face value.  Truth be told, any of them could hit the top spot if it wanted to.

5. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

I consider this movie to be Law & Order: Starfleet.

This movie kicks off with Captain Hikaru Sulu (about damn time!) captaining the USS Excelsior (a ship that was rendered inoperative in the third movie).  He’s patrolling space when he notices a planet in the Klingon region of space.  Spock volunteers Kirk to escort the Klingon Chancellor to a peace treaty, he winds up dead, and Kirk and McCoy are arrested and submitted to a military tribunal.  Meanwhile, Spock, new recruit Valeris (Kim Cattrall), and the rest of the crew tear the Enterprise apart trying to find out how it happened, and disprove that they fired the torpedoes that attacked the Klingon ship.

I call it Law & Order: Starfleet because the middle of the movie is basically a great big detective yarn.  The movie is notable for a few things; the almost blatant racial overtones, Iman, and a brief cameo by Christian Slater.  No, really.  This movie is also remembered as the last film featuring the original cast, and they got a pretty good send off here.

Fair Winds and Following Seas...

I can’t leave out the fact that Shatner was incredibly hammy in this one.  Only the Shat could extend a two syllable word into a 10 second sentence.

FIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mr. Joseph’s Rating: 3.5 dragon heads out of five

4. Star Trek: First Contact

Star Trek: First Contact

Out of the four movies featuring the cast of The Next Generation, this one got it right.

This movie is about The Borg going back in time and changing history by preventing First Contact.  In the Star Trek Universe, First Contact is when humanity finally caught up with the rest of the universe and was able to reach warp speed.  The crew of the Enterprise follows them through time and has to put a stop to it.

This movie is only the second movie to compare someone in the Star Trek Universe to Captain Ahab from Moby Dick; problem is, this time it was Captain Picard.  This movie is notable for the scene that inspired multiple gifs:

You want the gif, you find it yourself.

And, the one where he basically tells Alfre Woodard to shut up:

("The line must be drawn here! This far and no further!" 

This was the second Star Trek movie I owned on Blu-ray, and it was always one of my favorites.  I’ll watch this one any day of the week, regardless of where it is in the movie.

Mr. Joseph’s Rating: 4.5 dragon heads out of five

3. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

This was the first Star Trek film that was actually funny on purpose.

Oh, sure; the other films had humor interspersed in them, but this one actually felt deliberately humorous.  This was also the first Star Trek to discuss environmental issues.  How’d it do that?  By creating a freaky looking probe that was looking for humpback whales – a species that had been long dead by the 23rd century.  The crew of the Enterprise are due to return to Starfleet to face charges for disobeying orders (featured in ST III), but they decide to go back in time to get a couple of whales instead.

As you can imagine, this leads to a fish-out-of-water situation, where the 23rd century clashes with the 20th century with some interesting results:

Fish outta water...A couple of hippies...

This is another one I could watch regularly, and although it doesn’t really stand the test of time, it’s still an incredible film to watch. 

Mr. Joseph’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of five

2. Star Trek

Star Trek 

How do you reinvigorate a slouching franchise?  Hit the reset button.

I’m taking the lazy way out and recommending that you click the link at the top to read my thoughts on this one.  That hasn’t changed.  This movie made Star Trek relevant again. 

I love this movie, and I’ll watch it whenever I can.

Mr. Joseph’s Rating: 5 dragon heads out of five

1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!

For years, this was the quintessential Star Trek film (for some, it still is).  This movie was the answer to the critic’s lamentation of the first film, and it told a story like none other.  It brought back the great Ricardo Montalban from his appearance in the episode “Space Seed” and created a Trek villain that – in my opinion – hasn’t been replaced since.  It had the death of a beloved character (don’t worry, he got better), and a basic story that didn’t need a lot of expounding: antagonist feels wronged, antagonist plots to hurt the protagonist, antagonist succeeds, but then the antagonist wakes up dead.

Oh, and it had Kirstie Alley, who was still sorta hot at the time.

If you squint just like so...

To be honest, this movie is the one that got me into movies to begin with.  Not Star Wars, not Indiana Jones, this one.  This is a movie I will always cherish for as long as I shall live.  It is indeed my hope that when I reach those pearly gates, and St. Peter asks me if I deserve to enter the gates therein, I look him square in the eye, and yell:

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!

Mr. Joseph’s Rating: 5 dragon heads out of five

Live Long and Prosper.

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | October 15, 2010

Not Quite RED-y

red_ver7_xlg I haven’t written one of these in a while, so I figured I was due.  I made today an impromptu movie day, and I needed to see something that was fairly entertaining and a bit eclectic.  Today’s movie choice was the Summit Entertainment release RED.  The film stars Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, and Karl Urban.  The movie is based on a limited edition graphic novel by DC Comics, and it’s directed by Robert Schwentke with a score by Christophe Beck.  The previews for this movie really intrigued me; seeing these old people kick all sorts of ass in that trailer caused me to raise my eyebrow and wonder how good this movie would actually be.  How did it turn out? Well…let’s find out.
The movie starts with retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) going through the motions of retired life: eating, taking a fistful of pills, and tearing up pension checks so he can flirt with lonely Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) about growing avocados and reading cheesy romance novels.  All isn’t exactly well with Frank, though; in the middle of the night, an assault team tries to do some very bad things to him, but he manages to escape by using his his wits.  He eventually hooks up with his old team: Joe Matheson (Morgan Freeman), Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren)…not to mention an old Russian contact Ivan Simanov (Brian Cox).  Their mission is to find out who set them up and to evade the CIA, led by CIA Agent William Cooper (Karl Urban).  Their search takes them all over the country, including stops in Chesapeake, Pensacola, New Orleans, and Mobile (more on that later).

Bruce Willis is at his ass-kicking best as agent Frank Moses.  He seems to channel a retiring John McClane, and he plays him as such.  His Moses has a hint of calmness hidden deep inside  gruff exterior.  He still knows his way around an action scene, and the scene where he gets out of the police car while it’s still spinning is a sight to behold.

Mary-Louise Parker portrays a brand of ditziness and cuteness as Sarah Ross.  It’s not too hard to see how she would be attracted to someone like Moses; she craves adventure, and he’s seen it in spades.  She even shows some toughness when something happens to her and she needs to show her mettle.

red_2 As far as the rest of the cast, Morgan Freeman brings his grandfatherly charm to Joe Matheson as a slick hitman.  John Malkovich is hilarious as the paranoid (due to daily doses of LSD) Marvin Boggs.  Helen Mirren is regal as Victoria, and she shows how she was considered “one of the best wetwork agents in the field.”  Brian Cox does a rather convincing Russian accent as Ivan Simanov, and it’s hinted that he has a history with a couple of members of the team.  Karl Urban is very convincing as agent Cooper, and really gets to show off his action chops.

The film wasn’t so much directed by Robert Schwentke, as it was that he just put the players in position and got the hell out of the way.  The action scenes are outrageous and over the top, but it’s based off of a comic book, so it fits.  The score by Christophe Beck is forgettable, as his music is drowned out by the action on screen.

My major gripe with this film is how they portrayed Mobile, Alabama.  I’m not 100% sure where they filmed those scenes, but they weren’t filmed with any knowledge of the city itself.  Mobile has no mountainous vistas, and there are no hills of note.  Both of those prominently displayed in those scenes.  It shouldn’t have been that hard to find some geographical information about Mobile…I’m sure it’s on Wikipedia.  Putting that aside, it was a fairly decent film, and a nice way to kill a couple of hours.  I’ll give it two and a half dragon heads out of five, and I can recommend it for a decent matinee.

After all, it’s fun watching stuff get blown up in ways that are almost unimaginable.

red_1

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | October 4, 2010

Confession and Acceptance

Me Before I make this confession, let me just say that I’ve been wrestling with this confession for the past few days.  I didn’t really know if I wanted to admit this, because I’ve spent at least 10 to 12 years trying to prove that I’m not what I really am.  However, I’ve had an epiphany over the past year or so, and I finally started embracing it a couple of months ago.  I always took it in stride in private, but I never came out and admitted it in public.  However, I feel that it’s time to admit who and what I really am.

I am is Joseph, and I am a geek.

People called me that all throughout high school, and I fought it tooth and nail.  I didn’t literally fight it, but that’s because I’m incapable of fighting anyone.  But, whenever someone called me a geek, I shouted it down as loud as I could.  However, I’d go home and watch Transformers or Star Trek or Ghostbusters and be just as happy as I could be.  Then, I’d turn around and deny it ad nauseam at school.  I remember one argument I had with someone in particular where he kept picking at me and mentioned that he had the Ghostbusters 2 soundtrack in his car.  I figured he was full of shit, but I didn’t pursue it, because he had popularity on his side, and I had…well…I had my grades.  Not really a fair argument at the time, but I stuck with it.  I even played football my senior year to get away from that stigma; guess what?  It didn’t help.

Ranma Saotome and Akane Tendo As I got older and went out into the world, I met people who thought like me, felt like me, and even introduced me to more things geeks like me would like; stuff like Ninja Scroll, Ranma 1/2, and Tenchi Muyo!.  I haven’t watched much of it lately, but I can still recite things from Ranma 1/2, and I can still remember things from Tenchi Muyo!, so it still counts for something.  When I joined the Navy, I found even more people who either liked what I liked, or they tolerated it.  Either way it went, I fully embraced what I enjoyed.

While I was in the Navy, I introduced my brother to some of the shows I watched.  I don’t know if he still finds an interest in it now, but I remember coming home, and he’d ask me to put in the soundtrack to a Sailor Moon or Ranma 1/2 (yes, I had the music to the shows, and I can even remember some of the people who wrote the music: Kenji Kawaii, Akihisha Matsuura, and Takanori Arisawa immediately spring to mind).  Fast forward to today, where if I were so inclined, I could pop in a Sailor Moon or Ranma DVD and be A-OK.  In fact, I would be able to pick any of them up from episode one and be just fine. 

If you thought Anime was the only thing that I enjoyed, think again.  I’m a gigantic Trekker.  My 33rd birthday present to myself was a movie poster from the most recent Star Trek movie.  I’ve seen all eleven movies, and I can freely admit that Star Trek II was the greatest Star Trek movie ever made, and it is my favorite movie of all time.  In the same breath, I can also admit that Star Trek: Nemesis was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, and it has a strong place at the bottom of the Star Trek pantheon.  I broke my own rule by watching Star Trek on opening day, and I don’t regret that one damn bit.  When I first saw this screen in person, I almost lost my damn mind:

Yup.

But, that’s not the end of it; oh, no!  I also admit to being a Star Wars fan, and my favorite Star Wars movie (and my #2 all-time) is Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.  Sure, there are some effects that don’t age well, but I don’t care; it’s an awesome movie, and it will be bought on Blu-ray the second George Lucas deems it ready for release.

I could go on and on, mentioning the fact that I also saw Iron Man and Iron Man 2 on opening day and immediately bought both of them upon their home release, but I think I’ve made my point.  The fact of the matter is, I’m an admitted geek, and I’m proud of that fact.  Never again will I duck in the shadows and hide who and what I am.  Never again will I wonder what other people think of my habits or likes.  Never again will I debate toning down what I enjoy for the sake of other people.

I am who I am, and I have NO regrets.

Posted by: MrJoseph45 | September 29, 2010

A Letter to My Unborn Child

Untitled I have no idea how your personality will be.  I have no idea how you will react when you see your parents.  I have no idea how lovely your smile is.  At this point, I have no idea what you are.  However, I do know this: even though I haven’t held you yet, called your name lovingly, or changed you yet, you have already changed our lives forever.

Knowing I get to come home from a hard day at work to see your picture on my refrigerator or the pictures that your mom has in her bible really makes me smile.  Getting to hold you (via your mother) makes me happy, and I look forward to the day when you start wriggling around inside of your mom and make us both gush with pride.

There are a lot of uncertain things about you at this point, but one thing is definitely certain: you have a name.  I knew your name before you were even conceived, and your mom agrees with me – for a change.  Your name will be music to our ears, and we both look forward to calling you for years to come.  If you are a boy, you will be named after me.  If you are a girl, your name will be Megan Chantel, and your middle name is after your auntie.

Speaking of which, everyone is looking forward to meeting you for the first time: your grandparents, your aunties and uncles, your cousins, and even your Godparents.  Now, about them: your Godparents have been carefully vetted and selected from people that both your mom and I would trust with our lives.  They are looking to spoil you rotten, but they’re gonna have competition from your parents.

Just to let you know about your parents, your mother has a soft heart.  She will coddle you and love you and tell you everything will be all right.  I have a soft heart, but I am also stern when I need to be.  Don’t believe me?  Ask your older cousins…well, ask them when you learn to talk.  I will sometimes come across as brash or angry, but it is only because I have your best interest at heart.  We both want to shield you from all harm, because that’s what parents do.

I look forward to holding you in my arms for the first time, but there is one thing that I know for certain: I love you more than you will ever know, and you have already made me a better person.  I can’t wait to show you how.

Love,

Dad

UPDATE (10/28/10): I told your mom I didn’t want to know what you were until you got here.  I personally put the over/under at my finding out at one week.  I should’ve taken the under.

That secret lasted less than a minute.

See you in March, Megan.
Love,

Dad

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