Sunday, June 30, 2013

Movie Review: “The Last Stand”

  I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast

   Arnold Schwarzenegger has become known as one of the premier action movie actors of recent history. I have come to expect a certain performance from him and although age has taken it’s toll and slowed him down a bit, he is savvy enough to take or create roles that compliment the level of entertainment he wants to provide. This is just such a role. Forest Whitaker is an excellent actor that holds himself to the highest standard possible. Although this film isn’t an Oscar endeavor, Whitaker still delivers a serious performance. Peter Stormare is quickly cutting out a niche for himself as an underboss bad guy, and seems more comfortable with each character he plays.

The Plot: 
   Drug Czar Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) has escaped federal custody and has a master plan to get himself across the Mexican border and into freedom. With seemingly every angle covered, he plans on driving a specially built Corvette ZR1...equipped with 1000 horsepower and capable of outrunning a helicopter, Cortez is headed right for the small town of Summerton Junction. 

   Sheriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) is comfortable in his small town life. Everyday is routine, but this day is special because it’s his day off. Noticing a suspicious character (Stormare) while having coffee one morning, Owens begins to suspect something is amiss. When an old town farmer is found murdered and Owens gets a call from Agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) about an escaped convict that may be headed his way, things begin to come together in a bigger picture.

   What happens next is a testament is resolute dedication to the letter of the law, and one man’s determination to uphold it. Stopping at nothing, Owens and his deputies put everything on the line to make one last stand.

The Verdict: 
   The film starts out with a scene that really doesn’t make any sense, but sets the tone for all that is to follow. I’m sorry, but I can’t see any deputy just sitting in his car when caught in the 197 mph wake of what could only be a car traveling with no lights. Instead, the call goes out to contact the FAA about an errant jet? Silly...but soon to be par for the course.

   The only real believable characters in the film are Agent Bannister and Sherrif Owens. Everyone else seems to be just filling in space with decisions that make no sense in situations that couldn’t be more obvious. One such was the deputies first encounter with the crew of Burrell (Stormare) as they continue to advance on what is obviously a bad situation (considering they were following tire tracks after leaving a murder scene) while ignoring the orders of Owens to not provoke an encounter.

   The story itself was somewhat silly as a drug czar with oodles of millions coming out of every orifice, paying everyone and their brother to effect his escape, but can’t find a better way to do it than by driving a super car hundreds of miles? Not only that, but has so much resources as to have men and equipment at every location needed to break road blocks. Really now, he could have spent a lot less and gotten a lot more done by just having a jet waiting in an open field somewhere.

   This film had every intention of capturing some of the old action movie magic Arnold is known for (and does a little bit) but doesn’t quite fit the mold unless you’re willing to lower your I.Q. considerably. The action is does have is entertaining, but doesn’t hit more than a few foul balls in search of that home run. I will say the fight scene at the end is much better than I thought I’d see from the 60 year old Schwarzenegger. Perhaps it’s my nostalgia from Arnold’s glory days, but this film could only stand 2.5 cinnamon sticks, out of 5, in my cup of tea.

Rating: 2.5/5

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Looking for Lois Lane

   Have you seen her?

   Sure the new Man of Steel movie just came out (be sure to check out The Boxed Office for the best review) but was she really in it? Don’t get me wrong, there was a character with the name “Lois Lane” but being an avid comic collector and movie buff over the course of entire life, I have yet to really see anything that resembles an accurate portrayal of the drop-dead gorgeous reporter that even has Bruce Wayne making a play for her.

   Granted, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it’s at the artist’s discretion on what his or her interpretation of Lois looks like, but I have always thought that anyone that gets the eye, and heart, of the most powerful person on the planet should be something special to write home about. I’m not meaning to sound shallow (but I certainly can be) and understand that the most important aspect of anyone is personality...but, Superman was smitten at first sight and I refuse to believe his eyes and mine are at extreme ends of beholding. 

   I have been blessed and thrilled to be alive when all my favorite comic book characters are making their way to the silver screen, especially now when technology is so advanced. Granted I was thrilled when Superman hit theaters in 1978, but there really is no comparison to today's standards and I get goosebumps when I imagine where movies will be in the future. As good as Superman was for it’s time, I was always perplexed at the choice of Margot Kidder for Lois. Ursa got it right when she said Superman wasn’t very demanding when choosing a mate. I won’t even start on the whole smoking situation. Kidder wasn’t I continued my search.

   Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman hit the television in 1993 and I will say that Teri Hatcher was an improvement. Heck, I’ll even go further and admit that I found her to be very attractive. That said, she also never struck me as an accurate interpretation of Lois come to life from the comic pages. I think it was the lack of curves in all the right places that did it...or maybe even the eyes. They were big and bright, but like nothing I ever saw an artist draw. I wasn’t too upset though, she was better to watch than anyone else on the show and the fact that she wasn’t Lois fit right in with the fact that Dean Cain wasn’t Superman. Dean Cain...? Really...? Yeah...the search for Lois continued.

   Smallville hit the television in 2001...and was one of the best shows to ever be on television. The stories were great and the action was well done. The greatest strength of the show was that it was a drama, that happen to be about the early years of Superman. It also helped that it had one of the best selections of music to ever be put to a television show. So there was a lot going for this show when I decided that even though Erica Durance was pretty and a capable actor...she just wasn’t Lois. Given how far off continuity the show was from the source material, I wasn’t surprised nor was I excessively disappointed. I did, however, continue my search.

   Superman Returns hit theaters in 2006. I had mixed feelings about this film and had issues with it on many levels, but overall it was an enjoyable experience for me to see it. Of course one of my complaints with the film has been the same complain I’ve had throughout...and the subject matter of this post. In this case though, I was just horrified at one point for the most shallow of reasons (yes...I’m back to that). Kate Bosworth did her best, I’m sure, but I have to believe that Superman likes just a little junk in the trunk, even if it’s just for the occasional squeeze. That said, I have never seen or read a book where Lois had such a flat ass.’s like that, and the search continued.

   Welcome to 2013, the year of Man of Steel...clearly one of the best films of the year, and certainly one of the best super hero films of all time. So it’s with a heavy heart that I have to admit that Amy Adams was one of the worst interpretations of Lois Lane to hit any screen. I have no idea what the casting director was thinking but I can only imagine that it was something along the lines of “ least she’s better than Margot Kidder.” Don’t get me wrong, she gave a good performance, she just wasn’t Lois Lane. They should have made her into some other character...and then fired every person that had anything to do with casting her as Lois.

   So, looking ahead, I can see that there will at least be two more films that continue the Man of Steel story...and I will be stuck, for now, looking for Lois Lane.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Universal Plan

   I often wonder if I’m the only victim of the Universal Plan. No, I’m not talking about healthcare...although half the country feels prosecuted while the other half considers themselves saved. I’m talking about how every now and then it feels as if the universe is plotting against you with the most devious plan ever. It feels like no matter what you wanted to accomplish, calamity has become the order of the day, and the universe is only too eager to deliver. Ever have one of those days?

   Days like these are becoming far too common for me. Perhaps it’s my own attitude and perspective on things? I’d be remiss if I didn’t consider the possibility that it’s really not the universe, it’s just me. Now that I’ve considered it...I’m convinced it’s the universe. So here I am giving a voice to my concerns in the hopes that it will be the beginning of a positive change. Think of this post as me meeting someone I think might be dangerous, so I arrange the meeting in a public place in hopes of deterring a potentially bad situation. Yep...just me sitting here exposing the universe in public hoping to be the monkey wrench in another diabolical plan.

   I know there are some that stopped this ride at the suggestion that it might be me, and the universe is really benign. Let me just say...stop that. I have proof, good evidence that there are other machinations afoot here. Take for example, the day you were in a rush to get to work because the alarm clock never went off (even though you set it) and, on what normally should be a clear path to drudgedom, there is instead, an intense and unearthly traffic jam. How about that time nature (carefully disguised as the universe) called while you were at work, forcing your body to answer...and just as you burst into the restroom in what can only be described as “a moment most dire”...every stall is occupied. Still don’t think nature (the universe in disguise) had nothing to do with the stalls on your floor being occupied by people from another floor? Why? “Your bathroom has better soap.” that’s not part of this universal conspiracy.

   I could go on (because there is so much more), but somebody reading this is thinking that I’m simply talking about bad luck. Yeah...right, bad luck happens here and there, but when it becomes a never-ending train in a state of constant wreck...that’s calamity, that’s universal planning. It will have you really considering if the Matrix really exists, and you just ended up in that part of it they didn’t show in the movie...the part where the machines sit and play domino with your life.

   Maybe the universe is really as sick and twisted as some of humanity's manifestations and the grand plan is just an experiment to see how much you can take before going critical. So occasionally you pop the cork and let off some steam, and the universe giggles. Then it starts up again in hopes that it can finally get you in a changed state more suitable to it’s needs (don’t even bother contemplating the needs of the universe). 

   Through all of this, changes certainly happen...some good, and some bad (as is the nature of change). Perhaps this is the plan (or part of it) to have some us look in the mirror, and not recognize the face looking back. To be in a state of turmoil and disarray, or even giving a perception of such a state (while in fact you might be finally figuring things out) that society gives you an unflattering label. Perhaps this isn’t the plan at all but the result of a failed plan? In any case, I maintain the universe has diabolical machinations.

   A response is required (imo) even though a reaction is guaranteed. I prefer my response and reaction to be the same...something along the lines of showing the universe that the plan is puny, I’m not amused...and resistance to my will is futile.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pity the Petty People

   It is said that it takes all types of people to make the world go around. That’s too bad really because there are just some type of people that the world can probably do without. At the top of the list are the truly evil at heart. Those that bring tragedy and senseless misery to the lives of others. More toward the bottom of the list are the haters and the petty. Those that should really seek help for their personality affliction, but instead seek power just to wield it against those without it. They walk big and talk big, but really couldn’t get any smaller.

   We are never going to live in a perfect world, although we dream of it and strive toward it and I think are constantly making the world a better place because of this drive. However, it’s not always the big sweeping changes or endeavors that make the most difference. Smaller pockets of personal initiative go a long way as well. I say all this to make a point about dealing with those people that we come across in our everyday travels that feel the need to impress upon others, the machinations of their will because of authority granted them by those they are impressing upon.

   Of course that’s not always the case as there are many that are self made successes and have positioned themselves to be over others in some shape or form. The real question is what influences a person on how they exercise power? Perhaps it’s just human nature to abuse power? There is a saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely...but just a little power can have the same corrupting ability. Let me rephrase that because it’s not the power that corrupts, it’s the manifestation of that power by the corrupted person.

   Not everyone in a position of power is abusive. Probably not even the majority of people in power are abusive of it...depending on what area of life we are talking about. I’d probably be hard pressed to sell anyone on the idea that the majority of our political system isn’t abusive of power.The question still remains what makes a person travel this road, and what can be done to deal with the repercussions?

   From my own personal experience, I can say that an exercise of abusive power upon me stems from the abuser not being able to fully come to terms with abuses had upon them. It is being carried with them like a large sack of dirty laundry, drug behind them like an un-hoisted anchor, and they revisit their hurt like the ghost of Christmas past. I suppose some effective counseling could help with this, but pride is the Gandalf that counseling shall not pass.

   When you really consider the situation, it’s very sad. “Because I’m in charge” is just an excuse to exercise petty machinations. Such a position does not foster respect or admiration but resentment and hostility. Since I’m enlightened about the background in my particular situation...I also feel pity. I’m left to wonder where the collateral damage ends, and the healing begin? Will there ever really be any healing at all, but instead just a rash of future conflict and destructive behavior?

   Dealing with the petty people goes beyond these types of people themselves. Sure, you can put them in their place (at possible future cost to yourself) and show them the truth of the consequences of their actions...but will someone so damaged even register the effort as a step toward resolution? Probably not. No, the true dealing of this starts in the mirror. Ultimately it will be the reaction to these people that starts a chain of calamity and although none of us can control how we feel, we certainly can control how we act.

   I choose not to feed the ravenous hunger the petty people have  for inflicting misery through corrupted power. I choose instead to exercise my own personal power of intelligent self control...and rob them of any meaning they place upon the misuse of their authority. Pity the petty people...