Avatar

Finally, AVATAR! Can’t believe that James Cameron finally has a new film out after a long wait from his last movie….that  little film called Titanic. The Director of True Lies and Aliens delivers again. The film follows an ex-marine, Jake Sully, who is wheelchair bound, to Pandora. His twin brother was recently killed and Jake has the same DNA, a necessity to take over his brothers Avatar. The Avatars are used by the marines to attempt to infiltrate the local natives, the Navi. The Navi are living directly above a large deposit of valuable minerals, and Jake’s job is to try to get the Navi to relocate in order to mine the region. Of course once Jake has infiltrated the Navi, he finds himself more a part of the Navi than he realizes.

As far as performances, to me there were no really outstanding performances. Everyone in the film was solid, but nothing that is going to stir up the Academy for an Oscar. Jake Sully is played by Sam Worthington who was in this past summers Terminator Salvation. Sigourney Weaver (Aliens, Death and the Maiden) is once again teamed up with Cameron as Dr. Grace Augustine, the local scientist and expert on the Navi culture. Giovanni Ribisi (Saving Private Ryan) plays company man Parker, and Stephen Lang (Gettysburg, Public Enemies) is the macho-over-the-top kill the natives colonel.

On to the special effects, and yes they were special! My opinion, Oscars all around for the special effects team. The entire film is visually stunning and well worth catching on the big screen. In fact it is a must to catch on the big screen, with such sweeping shots, and panoramic scenes, definitely a must! I might also mention the 3D, well worth seeing it in 3D as well. It never is distracting to the movie, it enhances the film and does not take away at all. It was nice to see this element used in this way, and not have the cheap 3D gags throughout, like a sword being pointed at you or items coming at you for no other reason than to remind you that you are watching a 3D movie.

To sum it all up, this is worth going to see for sure. It has already been nominated for Best Picture at the Golden Globes. Even though I think this is a must see on the big screen, by no means is it a fresh storyline, which I really wanted from Cameron. The movie really played out like Dances With Wolves or The Emerald Forest. And I was even reminded of other Cameron films, the Ribisi character Parker seemed like a company man right out of Aliens with the same agenda. The military ships even reminded me of the landing craft in Aliens. Ok, even the score done by James Horner was even a bit too much reminiscent of Titanic. So by no means is this film perfect in my eyes. It is jawdropping beautiful and it is something like you have never seen before. The only thing I can compare it to is seeing Star Wars for the first time as a boy in grade school. The imagination and creativity put into this film is something to see for sure!

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American Graffiti

amgrafdvdWhere were you in ’62……

Fans of George Lucas and his Star Wars fantasy films often overlook this small masterpiece. I doubt George knew what a great film he had going, filming in a very quick 29 days and casting virtually unknown actors. This may be the ultimate cruising movie, powered with a who’s who of soundtracks, it is almost like you are taking a ride yourself for two hours.

This film follows a group of teenagers for one night, that have just graduated high school, and the dilemmas they face about school, relationships and growing up. Curt, played by Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws, Mr Holland’s Opus), and Steve, played by Ron Howard (Music Man, Happy Days), are supposed to go off to college the next morning and Curt is having second thoughts. Steve is working on finalizing leaving town, getting Terry the Toad to watch his car and having the relationship talk with Curt’s sister, Laurie, played by Cindy Williams (Laverne & Shirley). Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark), plays Bob Falfa, who spends the evening tracking down John Milner to challenge him in a drag race. All of this teenage drama is pulled together by the voice over the radio, their idol, Wolfman Jack, the common thread for everyone in the film.

This film, nominated for 5 Oscars in 1973 including Best Picture, is a great ride to take. Having never lived in 62, cruised in those cars, danced to that music, this movie will leave you feeling you have lived it all. I highly recommend this film to everyone.

“Get your bugaloos out baby! The Wolfman is everywhere. ”  –Wolfman Jack

Wonderland

Wonderland

To me the first viewing of this film was a little better than the second one. The first time around I was so taken by the story and the details of the murder I really wasn’t noticing other things. This movie is really just the stories of the two sides of a murder mystery. I wish the movie would have included a third point of view. Would have liked to have seen more from the detectives point of view and maybe even a more scientific point of view using evidence and forensics. Not to mention it would have given a bit more screen time to the great character Ted Levine. (“It rubs the lotion on it’s skin or else it gets the hose again.” Silence of the Lambs)

Without giving too much away, this is the true story of porn star John Holmes after the x-rated film business and in the middle of his heavy drug days, he gets accused of murder. The director does a great job with the overall look and feel of this film, with muted colors and film grain, adding to the overall character of the film. Also, a great soundtrack fits the tone perfect with the blaring of Bad Reputation by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Val Kilmer (Tombstone, Batman Forever) is good playing John Holmes, but the real surprise of this film is Lisa Kudrow (Friends) who plays estranged with Sharon. Also Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) in a nice bit part in the beginning of the film. 

We always hear of Hollywood sensationalizing violence in films. If you have this DVD you will see that this isn’t the case. They have included the complete police walk through of the crime scene, blood still on the walls, bodies still on the ground. This film actually toned it down, and I am glad they did. The crime scene was haunting to see and really didn’t want to see the way it happened. If you are a fan of true crime movies, or just good film making, this one is worth catching. Just be aware this is about an ex-porn star into every drug imaginable.