Positive Films & TV

Positive Films & TV

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Star Wars: Episode IV (A New Hope)

Yes, I am going to talk about Stars Wars. Yes, the original. Yes, the one that came out in 1977 (May 25th, to be exact). No, not everyone on the planet has heard about it. As a matter of fact, there is a strong likelihood that kids turning 8 in 2013 have never heard of any of the movies. The last movie in theaters (Episode 3) was released in May of 2005, it hit home release in November of 2005. So, if a kid was born in 2005, they would be turning 8 in 2013 at some point, and in their lifetime, Star Wars has never been in theaters. Yes, I know there have been TV shows (notably the Clone Wars animated show), and yes I know a LOT of people have the films on VHS/Laser-Disc/DVD/Blu-Ray/etc. However, I have met plenty of people in their twenties and thirties (mostly women) who haven't ever seen the movies either.  Okay?  This article isn't FOR you, it's for THEM. This article is for anyone who missed Star Wars when it first came out (or was re-released, or re-re-released), or who missed (or stayed away from) the prequels (and I can't say I blame you, although I can tell you they did get better after Episode 1), or is too young to have seen any of it. All of the rest of you can either read this article for nostalgia's sake, or skip it -- and may the Force be with you :)

Okay, so, if you're still reading, I want to talk to you about Star Wars: Episode IV.  But really, instead of reading all this, I highly suggest you just go watch the film. It is an excellent film. But, if you need some convincing, please continue reading.  Episode 4 is also frequently just referred to as Star Wars without the subtitle or Episode number. That is because the episode numbers (and subtitles) didn't really matter until the sequels started to get made. George Lucas decided to start this series of movies in the middle, with Episode 4. Throughout this article, I will alternate between calling it: Star Wars, Episode 4, and the First Film.  Anyway, we get some history in the opening text crawl on the screen that lays the foundation for what's going on. Basically, the galaxy is in civil war, the rebels are striking against the Galactic Empire, and have stolen plans for a massive new super weapon the Empire has (the Death Star) which is capable of blowing up a planet. Princess Leia is being chased by the Empire and she has the plans on board her ship, and that's where the movie opens up. We then learn through conversations from the characters that the Jedi used to be the guardians of peace and justice, but they aren't around any more (we don't really know why, right now). We also learn that people are afraid of the Empire, and that they hate it.

So, with the stage set, I want to talk to you about the film, without giving the plot away.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pitch Perfect

I initially had no intention of seeing Pitch Perfect. I kept hearing people talking about it, but it didn't resonate with me. Fast forward just a few months short of a year after it hit theaters, and you know what changed my mind? We were at a Paramore concert and Haley Williams was sick, but went on stage anyway. She was talking to the crowd and telling them how close she was to passing out, etc. After she did her first song she said to the audience, "you know that scene in Pitch Perfect where the girl blows chunks all over the audience ... you guys have NO IDEA how close you just came to seeing it live" (or something to that effect) -- anyway, I said to myself, "if she (a singer you like) is talking about this movie ON STAGE, you need to go check this thing out!" So I did, and WOW, am I glad I did!

The movie is very similar to other strongly musically influenced movies such as Empire Records, The Fifth Element, and Hackers, where the music is like one of the characters it has so much of a role in the movie. Some people would compare it to Glee, but I disagree -- I don't think the humor is nearly as dark as it is in Glee (which is a series I don't like because it features that dark humor). Yes, there are some darker/sad moments, but overall the tone of the movie is light and fun (if slightly embarrassing/cringe-worthy at times).

I could TOTALLY do without the 2 gross-out scenes in the movie, though. Near the opening Aubrey throws up on stage, and they show it. And at about 4/5th of the way into the movie, Aubrey again throws up on screen, this time making a giant pool on the floor that one of the other characters ends up falling in. I didn't care for those two scenes at all (I really wish Bridesmaids hadn't opened the door to women doing gross-out scenes in movies, it was bad enough when the men were doing them =_=)

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph is currently my favorite movie. It unseated my previous favorite movie which reigned from 1995 until 2012. I will post about that movie as well here very soon. So, what makes Wreck-It Ralph my favorite? It is a lot of little things, really. For starters, the music and sound effects in the movie scratch that nostalgia itch fiercely! If you were a kid in the late 1970s or early to mid 1980s, you will immediately recognize the video game sounds they have mixed into the soundtrack for the movie. They took that theme and ran with it for the music as well. It is so well done, that I could just listen to the soundtrack and be happy.

Ok, but what else? What makes it my favorite? Well, aside from the strong nostalgia factor, there are also the characters. Wreck-It Ralph is a very interesting character in that he is the "bad guy" but he doesn't want to be the "bad guy." I love, LOVE that the movie starts with various video game villains/opponents sitting around in a "Bad-Anon" support group talking about how they are "bad guys" but that doesn't make them "bad ... guys." Genius! I also love the whole "Toy Story" what-they-are-doing-when-you-aren't-watching thing, applying it to video games was just an incredible idea, and one I would love to see play out in as many scenarios as they can dream up for sequels. In addition to Ralph, the misunderstood brute, there is Vanellope Von Schweetz -- another misunderstood character in a similar situation as Ralph in her own game. She is clever, has a sharp wit, is cute as bug's teeth, and is voiced by Sarah Silverman, whom I love!
Vanellope clearly becomes Ralph's adopted daughter during the course of their adventure, and he starts to put her needs and wants ahead of his, culminating in him making a major decision for her near the end of the movie which to this day when I watch it throws cold shivers down my spine. I LOVE that he adopts her and starts to look after her, it is a great message, and a fantastic development for his character (and for her character as she starts to come to terms with finally having someone in her life).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ace Ventura - Pet Detective

With the recent release of the Ace Ventura movies on blu-ray, I thought I would go ahead and make this the first movie I talk about here.  Now, I haven't watched my copy of the movie on blu-ray yet, but I have read the reviews, and they seem to have (once again) cut out the extended scenes they put in for the VHS release and the 4:3 DVD release. But, you can just watch those scenes on youtube. Other than that, though, this movie is excellent. It was first released in 1994, with Jim Carrey coming off the high that In Living Color (from the Wayans brothers) gave him. It co-stars Courteney Cox (right before Friends launched, seriously, the movie came out in February of 1994, and the Friends Pilot hit in September of 1994) as his love interest/plot driving force.

The movie has some crude humor in it (most notably the scene when the rather busty woman "thanks" him for retrieving her dog, and the rather extended "love" scene later in the movie featuring a shaking bed and animals watching, and "pillow talk" -- but no nudity is seen in those scenes).  It does feature brief (male) nudity when we see Jim Carrey's rear-end as he gets into the shower recreating a scene from the Crying Game (NOT a movie I recommend on this blog, by the way, hence no link).

Overall, the movie is very light, and very silly. Even though it features talk of murder, and shows characters preparing to do murder -- nothing ever comes of it, and you don't ever feel a real sense of danger for the characters (Ace is shown catching a bullet in his TEETH during one scene, for crying out loud). One character is killed off-screen, but we don't see anything, it is just referred to. The movie carries a PG-13 rating, but this would be one of the few times that I disagree with the rating, in that I think it should have been rated less restrictive (usually I think movies get away with a PG-13 rating that should have been R) -- it isn't a G movie to be sure, but I think it could have gotten a PG with slightly different editing. I am sure what got it the rating was the shower-scene male rear-end nudity, and the "love" scene bed shaking stuff, and none of that was severe enough to rate a PG-13 in my mind. If you have younger children, by all means watch it first on your own and judge for yourself, but I stand by my assessment that this is a silly PG movie with a few brief PG-13 scenes in it.

I love this movie, and it is one of those movies I am always willing to have on in the background, or just to put on for a laugh. Jim Carry is at the height of his comedy brilliance in this movie, (and the sequel, When Nature Calls, which I will talk about separately). If you are looking for a silly comedy, and you haven't seen Ace Ventura yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up and watch it today!

Movie (& TV) recommendations for film fans who aren't looking to be depressed

This blog is going to be basically a running list of reviews of movies (and TV shows) that I like because they aren't dark and depressing. I think starting in the late 1990s and early 2000s Hollywood took a hard turn into dark and depressing (see recent Batman reboot trilogy for an example) that I haven't cared for at all. I don't watch movies and TV shows to see politics, or crime, or human misery, or anything else I can see on the news. I watch movies and TV shows to see wonder, comedy, fantasy, whimsy and entertainment.  If, while doing that, they deal with some real issues, or sneak in some drama (like Star Trek), I am fine with that.

This blog is going to be about movies like: Wreck-It Ralph, Hackers, Pitch Perfect, & Ace Ventura - Pet Detective. It will be about TV shows like: M*A*S*H, Star Trek, Home Improvement, Cheers, TaleSpin, & Phineas & Ferb. I am going to blog about stuff that I wish I could find online to help point me to the next thing I would love to watch, in the hopes that it will help someone else find something great to help brighten their day. And, of course, if any of you have any suggestions, let me know, and I will check them out.

Thanks for reading.

Reviews of movies (& TV shows) that aren't dark and depressing.

This blog is going to contain reviews and discussion of Movies and TV shows which avoid heavy drama, depression, human misery and the like to "entertain" (by that I mean: rape, torture, horror, graphic/extreme violence, etc. not PG-13 violence). I don't like that kind of stuff, and I think that kind of stuff is damaging not just to the human mind, but to the society that revels in it. This blog will make the effort to show people the content out there that isn't trying to make human misery into entertainment. I will also link you to that content whenever it is appropriate. Anything I link to, I recommend.

Let's get started, shall we? :)