Charlie Wilson’s War

This is a movie I wanted to see, but time was running out in Panama City and I thought I would just have to see it later.  Then my dad called and said “Let’s go see it”  It is rare for my dad to initiate movie-going, so my mom and I were already in the car, warming it up.  This time we headed to the new Carmike, which is an ok theater.  No stadium seating but decent screens.

The movie lived up to the previews.  It is based on a true story and true events.  In an interview my dad heard before the movie, Tom Hanks actually downplayed the character’s liveliness; if that is the case, I can not imagine what the real man is like.  The casting was good, story and pacing was good, and time flew by.  The movie also does well to point out how certain decisions made in the 80’s had an effect on what happened to us this decade.

My advice: Go out and see this movie.  Party affiliation should be left at the door, as they did with the subject matter.

Sweeney Todd

As you know, my mom is the reason for my love of movies, so it should be no surprise that she and I went to one on Sunday.  Whenever I am around, she will have me go with her when my dad does not want to see something.  Case in Point: Sweeney Todd, a horror musical.

I am not a big fan of blood and gore, as Spaldy would attest to (and tease me about).  I do enjoy watching the efforts of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.  So off to the Regency we go.  The Regency is slightly run-down, but it holds many good memories for me: my first date with a girl while watching Ferris Beuller; my first experience with 3-D; and seeing Clash of the Titans first run.  So I cut it a lot of slack for being 26 years old.

Not surprisingly, the theater is fairly empty for the 4:30 show.  We settle down and I agree to help my mom know when to open her eyes after the gory parts are done.

The movie is visually well-done, as I have come to expect from Tim Burton.  Depp and Helena Bonham Carter turn in wonderful performances, with Alan Rickman doing well as usual.  That said, there was no “oomph” factor for me.  The story was ok, the blood expected as well as the singing.  While there was an ending, you are left wondering what was the purpose of telling this particular story.

Am I glad I saw it? Yes.

Will I see it again?  Probably not.

My advice: If you love the people involved and you like gory movies, then definitely see this.  Otherwise, save the money and catch it later.

National Treasure

I promised I would write more about this movie, so here I am.

After finishing seeing the sequel, my mom decided on the way home that we had to watch the first one. Knowing that this would probably happen, I had brought my copy along.

This one deals with a family legend handed down over the decades. What follows is a fun quest that involves history dating back to colonial times, one of my favorite eras. The story has many holes, but taken as a popcorn flick, it hits the right notes.   I also enjoyed seeing how the movie created puzzles out of known pieces of history.  If anything, I hope this inspires others to learn a little more about our founding.

The DVD has the usual extras with nothing really standing out.

My advice: This one is the better of the two. It is not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Christmas 2007 had me traveling back to the budding metropolis of Panama City, FL, to spend time with the parents.  Naturally, as with all holidays or days ending in “Y”, we saw movies.

First up was National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

I saw the first one and enjoyed it for reasons I will discuss later.   My parents enjoyed the first one as well, so it was a no-brainer as a first selection for us to see.

We decided to go out to the beach to see it, which if you know my parents, is a miracle unto itself.  Thankfully they let me drive so I was able to get through most of the traffic easily.  The theater was called The Grand and not affiliated with any chain, which is odd in this day and age.  Decent enough concessions and stadium seating, so it was nice.

The movie picks up some time after the first one ended.  We see familiar faces from the first one as we are presented with a new puzzle:  Was the Gates family responsible for the assassination  of President Lincoln?  From this premise, we are taken on a world-wide trek ending at Mount Rushmore, much like North By Northwest.

Was the movie enjoyable?  Yes, as long as you took it at face value and did not try to set it in reality.  Most of the original cast returns, with some good additions.  Story is thin, but with Bruckheimer and Cage, you are looking for a roller-coaster, not  The Godfather.

One thing that kept nagging me was how much the movie stole from a reality show.  In 2005, after the first movie came out at Christmas 2004, NBC did a reality show called Treasure Hunters.  This show involved doing some of the same things that the new movie does, right down to the locations of Paris and Mount Rushmore and WHY they were at each.  You would think the movie could do better.

My advice: Catch it on the big screen if you want to have fun, but do not worry if you miss it.

Top 5 Christmas Movies

I know, I know. It is the day after Christmas — why put this out now?

Well, it took me all weekend to think about the movies and really weigh where they fell in my order of preference. Some you will agree with, some you will scratch your heads — either way, read and discuss.

5. It’s A Wonderful Life

It seems this an obligatory entry on almost all lists. When originally released, it was a summer release that bombed. Only in the past 25-30 years has it actually become a holiday classic. The main reason is the message of hope it gives, which we all like to hear at this time of year.

4. Scrooged

I remember seeing this in the theater and have enjoyed it each time. A modern (for 1988) retelling of the classic “A Christmas Carol,” it also showcases some of Bill Murray’s best moments. It always brings a smile to my face, particularly when discussing how to attach antlers to mice.

3. Holiday Inn

Huh? I thought that was a motel chain. Nope, it actually started with a movie starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Ginger Rogers. A wonderful movie that holds the distinction of being the first time the song “White Chirstmas” was debuted (the movie “White Christmas” that came out 10 years later was actually a remake of this movie). I am glad my parents showed me this movie in 1985.

2. A Christmas Story

Wow — someone under the age of 40 who does not have this as number one? As much as I enjoy watching Ralphie and the gang, I have to admit that when I first saw this as a kid, that I did not like it. As I got older, I understood things much more and I treasured it more. As a family holiday movie, none can compare.

1. Love Actually

Well, if you read my review of this movie, you know how I feel about it. In addition to summing up love, it also sums up the holidays for me. I can not imagine spending a Christmas without seeing this movie or my #2 selection.