Stop messing up my childhood, Hollywood

Hollywood loves to recycle old ideas. This month alone we have a TMNT reboot, two book-to-movie adapations, and another comic book movie. Some are great (Guardians), some are good (The Hundred-Foot Journey), and some are destroying awesome memories from our childhood (The Giver).

We decided to take a look back at some of our favorite and least favorite reboots and remakes. With the added bonus of what we actually want Hollywood to make. As long as they don’t eff it up like The Last Airbender.

Jordan:
The Good: X-Men prequel series (2011-2014), reboot from X-Men series (2000-2006)
Okay, for whatever reason these are considered part of the same franchise, but since it’s a (mostly) new cast in a different time period I’m counting it as a reboot. After seeing X2, I was ready for the X-Men series to retire. The fun and excitement of zillions of superhero mutants died in the slow pacing of the last movies. I was nervous to see X-Men First Class, but I wasn’t disappointed. First Class and Days of Future Past have better pacing, tone, and story than the first three.
The Bad: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), adaptation from the book series (1999-2006)
This was my first encounter with reading the books first and then seeing the movie adaptation. My sixth grade teacher read the first book to us in class, but then I could not stop. I probably read the first ten books within those two years. The movie ruined any drive to finish the series. The greatest downfall was the choice to cram the first three books into one movie. It didn’t do the books justice and I’ll never forgive them.
The Dream: The Song of the Lioness book series by Tamora Pierce (1983-1988)
This book series was the beginning of my reading addiction – specifically for anything fantasy. The Song of the Lioness series is about a young girl Alanna who trades places with her twin brother Thom. She travels to the capital to learn to become a knight, but only boys can be knights. I think this would as good a time as any to have a coming-of-age story set in a magical medieval-ish kingdom, thanks to Harry Potter and A Game of Thrones, but it may never happen.

Kurtis:
The Good: Where the Wild Things Are (2009), adapted from the book (1963)
This children’s book-turned movie captures all of the whimsy and innocence of Maurice Sendak’s classic but still elevates it for an adult audience. WTWTA is equal parts childhood imagination and complex emotions like feeling misunderstood. Spike Jonze weaves live action, puppeteering and cgi together in such a beautiful way that you can’t help but get swept up in the land of the wild things.
The Bad: Psycho (1998), remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)
Yeah, I could have pointed out how Michael Bay is continuously ruining the beautiful things from my childhood but I think, in reality, Psycho might just be the worst remake in history. Directed by Gus Van Sant, right off the heals of Good Will Hunting, the new Psycho is basically a shot-for-shot duplication of Hitchcock’s classic but now in color and starring Vince Vaughn. No reinterpretation, no creative vision, no innovative cinematography… Just Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche mucking about in a motel. At least Michael Bay is trying to do something different/creative (even if I have severe reservations of his methods). If you want to see Vince Vaughn in a great thriller, go watch The Cell and forget all about this terrible rendition of Psycho.
The Dream: Captain Planet and the Planeteers television series (1990-1996)
I think the world is finally ready for a live action Captain Planet movie. Granted, I think the possibilities of a Captain Planet film are about a 90% chance of being awful. The right writing and directing could just make it work. Think something with the time of a Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or Space Jam, something that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Hollywood, Robert Zemeckis, let’s  make it happen, let’s take pollution down to zero once and for all.

Morgan:
The Good: Monsters University (2013), prequel for Monsters, Inc. (2001)
I am obsessed with anything Disney or Pixar. Every single movie is just perfect (with the exception of Brave maybe). That being said, Monsters University is my favorite reboot. Monsters, Inc. was such a good movie with a strong and original plot, they could have gone in any direction with the new one and it would have been good. They could have sent the monsters to the moon and I would have loved it.
The Bad: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), adaptation from the Roald Dahl book (1961) and remake of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Honestly, this particular reboot was an abomination in my opinion. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was perfect just the way it was. CATCF tried to hard to be fun with a slight twist of freaky, and just ended up being weird. Especially with Wonka (Johnny Depp, who I normally like). Gene Wilder even made a “rare public appearance” to state that the remake was “an insult.” If I were Tim Burton, I would be ashamed.
The Dream: The Breakfast Club (1985) or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
This is a tough one for me. I almost want to say I’d love to see either of these, simply because I think it could be really awesome. Either what the group is up to now, or maybe a story having to do with their kids. It would have to be the whole original cast, which is sometimes hard to do. But at the same time the movies are great the way they are and a second one might ruin the originals. So there’s that.

 

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#BWAHM (Leo in the 2010s)

We’ve made it the present! Leo has been in so many good movies recently that it was hard to narrow it down to our favorites! What’s your favorite ’10s Leo Movie? Answer in the poll down below.

Kurtis – Shutter Island (2010):
This is a psychological thrilled that gets better with every viewing. It’s only then that you start to pick up on all of Scorsese’s intricate and subtle details. The story starts out simple and grows more and more complex as it moves forward, bringing you to the point where you don’t know what to believe. Leo plays Teddy Daniels, a detective called in to search for a missing inmate at Shutter Island, a prison for the criminally insane. It becomes clear that the authorities at the prison are withholding information from him and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) but Teddy keeps digging to find the truth. It’s a race to unravel the hidden truths of this place before Teddy goes crazy himself. It’s Leonardo DiCaprio in 50s clothes, when has that NOT made for a successful movie. Honestly, the first time I saw this in theaters, I left feeling somewhat underwhelmed. But now that I’ve seen it a few times, it stands amongst Leo’s best films. It has a great story, good cinematography, an awesome score, and enough small little foreshadowing details to keep you coming back looking for more clues. It’s a movie that invites you to participate with it, to be your own detective trying to solve the puzzle before the movie makes a reveal, and those are the best kind of suspenseful thrillers you could ever watch.

Jordan – Inception (2010):
Leo has been in some really amazing in this small time frame, but this is for sure my favorite. Judging my timehop in recent weeks (Inception was FOUR years ago?!), I could not stop tweeting/posting about it. I’m pretty sure I considered getting a totem so I could tell whether I was dreaming. And I say BWAHM whenever it even loosely fits. It’s not just me; every one loves this movie. Especially rappers.
If you haven’t seen it, I think you’re missing out. There is a slew of awesome actors (mostly Christopher Nolan’s favorites). Great action sequences, sweet graphics, a sick soundtrack, and a weird Matrix-y plot.
PLUS THE ENDING. AMERICA STILL WANTS TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS, NOLAN.

Morgan – Inception (2010):
My favorite Leonardo DiCaprio movie from the 2010s is Inception, hands down. When it first came out, I saw it in theatres twice within the same week. Embarrassing, I know. But it was so dang good that I didn’t even care. This is actually the movie that made me really like Ellen Page. Everything about this movie is incredible. First, I learned that Ellen Page rocks. Second, the rest of the astoundingly amazing and superior cast: Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Third, the soundtrack. Even though we (Jordan, Kurtis and I) joke around and imitate it (BWAAHHM), it really is epic and unlike other soundtracks from its time. And last but certainly not least, good ol’ Leo. He really delivered a perfect performance for this mystery/Sci-Fi thriller, and keeps you intrigued and entertained until the very last second. Inception was a true work of art, thanks to Christopher Nolan, DiCaprio, and everyone else involved.

 

Last Week: ’00s Leo Movies ————————————–——————— Next Week: Leo Month Finale

Rest in peace, Robin Williams

We are heartbroken to hear the news of Robin Williams’s death. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends. He influenced each of us growing up, so we decided to take a look back at Robin’s movies by playing another round of Trifecta.

Morgan:
Most Popular – Mrs. Doubtfire (1993):
This is almost a tough one, but I’m going with Mrs. Doubtfire. Even though he had produced a handful of great performances prior to this, I think Mrs. Doubtfire was a definitive role in Williams’ career.
Worst – Night at the Museum (2006):
This one probably goes to Night at the Museum. I mean, Williams’ character is okay and he’s not that bad, but the movies are just a no go for me. Especially when they don’t know when to stop making them.
Most Underrated – Good Will Hunting (1997):
Good Will Hunting, for sure. Most people don’t even know Robin Williams is in it; they’re too distracted by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Who are great as well, don’t get me wrong. But Williams’ delivers something truly phenomenal and heartfelt, and everyone needs to see this movie.

Jordan:
Most Popular – Good Will Hunting (1997):
We technically don’t include animated features in Trifecta, but if we did, Aladdin would definitely be the top. You can’t think of Genie without thinking of all of Robin’s amazing improv. Good Will Hunting is a close second. His role in it (especially the “It’s not your fault scene) won him an Oscar.
Worst – Bicentennial Man (1999):
Okay, I saw this in theatres when I was nine. And all I remember  is that it was creepy and that I actually went to the bathroom  in the middle of it because I was so bored.
Most Underrated – Patch Adams (1998):
I think a lot of average Joes like this movie, but it has a really bad score from the critics on  Rotten Tomatoes. And I know at least one episode of Futurama that makes it the butt of the joke.

Kurtis:
Most Popular – Mrs. Doubtfire (1993):
Mrs. Doubtfire was the film, in my mind, that made Robin Williams cross-generational. There was already a whole slew of adoring fans that loved him for stand up comedy, Good Morning, Vietnam and Dead Poets Society. Then Mrs. Doubtfire came along and introduced a new generation to the hilarious, all-energy comedy of Robin Williams. Not much funnier to a 8 year old kid than a grown man dressed up like a nanny. The iconic line for me will always be, after throwing a piece of fruit at Pierce Brosnan, “It was a drive-by fruiting.” Still funny.
Worst – Man of the Year (2006):
For me, this one just didn’t have the spark that so many of his other films had. But I don’t want to dwell on this category too long because I want to celebrate the magic he displayed over his career. Onto the next.
Most Underrated – Death to Smoochy (2002):
This dark comedy features one of my favorite performances by Robin Williams ever. Rainbow Randolph, famous kids tv star, fired in disgrace and hell-bent on destroying his replacement. It shows this whole new context of back alley children’s television programming deals, where everyone’s out only for themselves. It’s twisted and hilarious and as a 15-year-old who grew up on Flubber and Mrs. Doubtfire, it showed me a whole new side of Robin Williams that I’d never seen before.

Rest in Peace. Thanks for all the laughs and memories.
You’ll always be O Captain, My Captain.

 

Guardians of the Blogalaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) | Trailer
Run Time: 121 min
Rated: PG-13 (For intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.)
Directed By: James Gunn

Jordan: 
I have been pumped to see this movie since the first time I saw the trailer. I had no background knowledge of the characters or story line. I think the soundtrack and Chris Pratt as the leading man were insanely smart choices. I could just tell that this movie was going to be just a good time all the way through. I feel like even though it uses many of the usual superhero tropes (orphan far from home, band of misfits, don’t let the weapon fall into the wrong hands), it encases them in a unique universe. Each of the characters shines on their own. Chris Pratt transforms the charming jock into a lovably sweet character. Bradley Cooper is a genius in any role including this annoying raccoon. And it’s always nice to see a non-white (green still counts!) woman who is a badass on her own. Zoe Saldana, you can play the main lady in all sci-fi movies from now on. The tone of the film, in general, is so much lighter than the recent superhero/fantasy movies of late. More heart and humor, less scowls and machismo. And I love it.
Bottom Line: I liked Guardians better than The Avengers. And I hope it has a super long legacy so I continue to geek out.
Rating: 4.5/5

Morgan:
I had never even heard of Guardians of the Galaxy until my boyfriend started trying to get people to call him Starlord. (I think he thinks that he’s Chris Pratt). Anyways, I actually ended up really enjoying GOTG. I think that Pratt is perfect in anything he does; yes, even his brief part in Her. I thought Groot and Rocket’s characters were going to be stupid, but they ended up being some of my favorites in the movie. I won’t spoil anything but they make you feel all the feels. All the characters and their banter keep you laughing throughout the entire movie. While there’s a bit of story to follow along with, there’s enough action to keep you from being bored. It’s much different from other superhero movies that have come out this year, and therefore hard to compare. I don’t think it’s as good as Captain America for example, but it’s still an entertaining and fun watch.
Bottom line: I think it’s worth it to see in theatres. Either way, give it a shot.
Rating: 3/5

Kurtis:
Marvel’s latest film delivers heart, wit and plenty of action. Guardians of the Galaxy was highly anticipated despite not being one of Marvel’s popular franchises and it lives up the hype quite nicely. The film follows Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) from miscreant outlaw to justice-keeping leader. After finding himself on the wrong side of a bounty, Quill gets locked up in prison with the people that are after him and it leads to the creation of a VERY unlikely team. Visually, Guardians is perfect. The landscapes and space skies director James Gunn and his team created are just stunning. It’s exactly the look you want from a space-epic. Can’t say enough good things about the performances in the movie as well. Pratt as Peter Quill was even better than expected, delivering a performance that’s funny, heartwarming and pretty bad ass too. Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, and Dave Bautista all shine in their roles as the Guardians and it’s pretty plain to see that the casting director knew what they were doing.
Bottom Line: The opening scene sets the stage for all you need to know about this movie, and it delivers all the way through. This’ll be a movie you definitely want to see a second time before it leaves theaters. Go see it now!
Rating: 4/5

AGGREGATE RATING: 3.8/5

Blog Me if You Can

Now we’re really hitting Leo’s prime.

We’re looking at our favorite movies starring Leo in the 2000s.

Morgan – Catch Me if You Can (2002):
The 2000s were an incredible time for Leonardo DiCaprio. He starred in a number of films that have become awesome, must-see movies today. People would be shocked if you told them you had never seen Gangs of New York, The Departed, or Blood Diamond, to name a few. My favorite from the 2000s however, is Catch Me If You Can. It’s the incredible true story of one of the world’s most famous con-men in history, Frank Abagnale Jr. He begins posing as a Pan Am pilot to cash forged checks, until the FBI catches on, forcing him to move from disguise to disguise. It is a fast-paced story without a dull moment that is easy to follow and fun to watch. DiCaprio and Tom Hanks are a great duo, and of course, Amy Adams sucks. Just kidding, she’s actually okay in this movie, but I still hate her.

Jordan – Catch Me if You Can (2002):
This is definitely the first movie I ever saw with Leonardo DiCaprio in it. Which means I probably saw it at age 12 or 13. And I saw it multiple times and all the special features (back when people actually liked buying DVDs). So this movie may just hold a sentimental place in my heart.
But I think it was also just a great movie. Even the opening credits are iconic! Leo definitely proved he could carry a movie. The other names in the billing don’t hurt: Stephen Spielberg, Christopher Walken, Amy Adams, John Williams. Sure, he soared in Romeo + Juliet and Titantic in the ’90s, but CMIYC solidifies DiCaprio’s career as the charming anti-hero in a period piece. I’m down to watch this anytime.
(Also, I feel the need to give a shout out to Blood Diamond, which I watched this week in preparation. Pretty solid movie about the Sierra Leone civil war and illegal diamond trade. Very graphic, violent, and sad. And I couldn’t get over Leo’s Afrikaner accent. Not my favorite, but still a good one. Of course, I love anything about Africa.)

Kurtis – The Aviator (2004):
This was a tough choice for me. I had it narrowed down between The Aviator, Catch Me If You Can and Gangs of New York. Ultimately, I decided on The Aviator because it is DiCaprio’s best performance of the three. The way he captured Howard Hughes’ eccentricities and descent into crazyville was absolutely perfect. The Aviator is a long biopic that showcases Hughes’ life from a twenty-something who made millions in the oil business to a perfectionist movie producer who took three years to complete his first film to a complete recluse separated from society. It’s complex and seeks to cover a lot of ground but even coming in at a nearly three hour run time, Martin Scorsese has a way of pacing this film that it doesn’t feel drawn out or slow. DiCaprio gives close to a perfect performance and elevates every scene he’s in. The whole cast gives solid performances, and Cate Blanchett shines as Katharine Hepburn.

Last Week: ’90s Leo Movies ——————————————————— Next Week: ’10s Leo Movies

Now Playing at a Theater Near You

Due to our hiatus last month, we haven’t reviewed a new release in a while. So this week is a new release round-up! Here are the movies we saw in July:

Kurtis – Deliver Us From Evil:
I’m a sucker for horror movies and since 9 out of 10 are terrible, I’ve started going into them with lowered expectations. On the whole, it’s helped me enjoy them a lot more than I otherwise would. Deliver Us From Evil is a fresh approach to a played-out premise but is far from perfect. Eric Bana plays Detective Ralph Sarchie who comes face to face with true evil while investigating a series of creepy and gruesome crimes. He teams up with a priest who’s particularly versed in the supernatural to help stop the demonic possession from spreading further in the city. While it has a supernatural undertone to it, Deliver Us From Evil plays out more like a psychological thriller in the vein of SE7EN rather than Poltergeist or The Exorcist and it’s more satisfying that way. Director Scott Derrickson does a fantastic job in creating a creepy and interesting atmosphere. Sarchie and his partner (Joel Mchale) work the graveyard shift so every scene is particularly dark, creating palpable suspense throughout the film. DUFE also boasts a pretty remarkable exorcism scene that engages the viewer completely and bookends the film nicely. The problems with the film are that it’s definitely predictable (the plot twists are hardly twists at all if you’ve ever seen another scary movie) and that it doesn’t quite deliver (pun intended) the scares I was hoping it would. There was only one pop out scare that caught me off guard, but other than that it just wasn’t very frightening. If you like horror/suspenseful flicks, I think you’ll dig this one too, it’s a solid film that’s written and shot well and is enjoyable despite its flaws.
Bottom Line: It’s good, but not great, and is an enjoyable (albeit predictable) scary movie. Wait for it to hit Redbox, turn off all the lights, kickback, and enjoy.
Rating: 3/5

Jordan – Begin Again:
I think the fact that every time I said I wanted to see this I called it “Once Again” just proves what kind of movie it is. It is written and directed by the writer/director of Once and even has a song by Glen Hansard. Gretta (Keira Knightley) is a songwriter who moves to New York City with her douchey boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) after he lands a record deal. They split up soon after because of his douchery (more-or-less). Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a record executive who can’t find any real talent. He is always drunk, lives separated from his wife and daughter, gets fired from the record label he founded, and is a wholly unlikable character in the beginning. Through the magic that is NYC, Dan and Gretta meet and decide to make beautiful music together (literally). It plays like a fairly predictable rom-com musical, but really adds its own flavor. Knightley is much better cast in this movie than the last one I saw. And Girl can sing. James Corden will always have a special place in my heart because of Doctor Who and this clip. And according to Kurtis, Mark Ruffalo is never in a bad a movie.
Bottom Line: Lovely movie that you should see, but you can wait to rent/buy it. And I’ll probably end up buying the soundtrack.
Rating: 3.5/5

Morgan – Wish I Was Here:
This week I went to see Wish I Was Here, directed by and starring Zach Braff. First of all, I love Zach Braff and almost everything that he touches. So I was definitely excited for this film but tried to go in with low expectations, on the off chance that I hated it. However, I was not disappointed. WIWH was a truly phenomenal piece that I would already go back to watch again. It is the story of struggling actor Aidan Bloom’s life after finding out that his father’s cancer is back, and aggressively. This forces him to examine his life and truly face himself. The first few minutes were hard, only because his character seemed so J.D.-esque to me. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it was just different than I expected. As the film goes on, he becomes more of a typical, if a bit unconventional, Jewish family man. I don’t know how he does it, but Braff has a way of making everything— situations, characters, emotions, dialogue— come to life and seem so real and raw. WIWH is no exception. There was little about this film I did not like. Also, Pierce Gagnon (Aidan’s son) is perfection. Bottom Line: Wish I Was Here is now playing everywhere, and I highly recommend it.
Rating: 4.5/5

 

Last Week: Netflix Reviews ————————————— Next Week: Guardians of the Galaxy

I’m the King of the World!

It’s our second week of Leo Month!
We’re looking at the start of Leo’s career with our favorite movies from the ’90s!
Jordan – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993):
Okay admittedly, I hadn’t seen this movie before this week. And I had no idea what it was about until I had started it. But this definitely has to be one of Leo’s best films, not just during this decade. He plays a mentally challenged boy who is coming up on his 18th birthday. He always says what he wants and does what he wants, but you really can’t not love him. Johnny Depp (the true lead of the film) plays his protective older brother, Gilbert Grape. It’s such a sweet and sad movie about a weird family in a weird town. Leo definitely steals the film though. You forget that he’s the superstar from Titanic and The Departed. You just fall in love with this simple boy who wants nothing more than to climb the town’s water tower. I think this has become one of my favorite movies. (And it’s Johnny Depp in a non-Tim Burton role. That’s always a good thing.)
Kurtis – Romeo + Juliet (1996):
This was a quick decision for me, Romeo + Juliet is easily my favorite 90s Leo movie. Yes, Titanic is iconic and a pretty great movie in itself but director Baz Lurhmann’s reimagining of this Shakespeare classic is too good to ignore. The cinematography and set design turns the all-too-familiar love story turned tragedy of Romeo and Juliet into a post-modern masterpiece juxtaposed starkly against the original Shakespearean dialogue written in the 1590s. The story follows Romeo and Juliet navigating the feud between their two families that seems bound to keep them apart. The Montagues and Capulets are bitter enemies whose hatred and fighting shows no sign of ever being resolved which is bad news when these two meet and fall in love. They have to hide their love from the world because they know that their parents will not allow them to be together. They can’t stand the idea of having to live apart and the pressure their feuding families lead the two young lovers to take drastic measures. Both DiCaprio and Claire Danes capture the youthful innocence and rebellion of Romeo and Juliet perfectly, maintaining Shakespeare’s original vision for the heart of the characters and their message to the viewer. Everything about Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet is picture perfect, an innovative approach to a classic story that respects the source material enough as to not step outside its established essence.
Morgan – Titanic (1997):
So it’s probably pretty stereotypical, but I don’t even care. My favorite Leo movie from the 90s is Titanic. This movie is just such a classic. It’s one of the first movies that comes to mind when you think of great love stories. Everything about it is great. Kate Winslet is perfect; the innocent, seemingly unattainable aristocrat. Leo, of course, as the sweet and charming troublemaker, a little rough around the edges. Even the bad guy is perfectly played. It’s a little disappointing when you watch him escape the boat by sneaking onto a lifeboat with the women and children, but you feel a little better knowing that he still didn’t end up with Rose. And Rose taking Jack’s last name is just the icing on the cake. I think it was a real turning point in Leo’s career; something you could look at and say “That’s where it all started.” Also, it won eleven Oscars, so there’s that.