jennifer r. mccoy

author of Atlantis, Rene Learns Responsibility, From Start To Finish, & The Art of Love

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Prologue to book 2 of Atlantis Trilogy

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on July 29, 2014 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

A little something special for my faithful readers...the full prologue to the second book in the Atlantis trilogy! Enjoy!

Prologue

   Bellerophon woke to his usual darkness, a habit formed when he began working with horses as a boy, but after several minutes he realized it was much earlier than his normal schedule. Something was off. A piercing whinny came to his ears and though it was slightly muffled by the wind, the sound was unmistakable to the man who lived and breathed horses. Throwing back the covers, the stable master went to the window and pulled back the curtain.

   A few wall lamps and post lamps hanging from fence rails illuminated the stable yard. From his window view, Bellerophon could see the shadows of the stabled horses moving around inside their stalls. As he glanced around, while nothing specifically stood out, a feeling in his gut insisted something was wrong. The whinnying continued.

   The wind had increased since Bellerophon initially turned in the evening before. As he closed his cottage door behind him, he wished he'd waited long enough to put on a heavier layer over his thin tunic. Bellerophon wrapped his arms across his chest and quickened his pace toward the first barn. The horses, all young ones, it seemed were alert only from the commotion in the other barn. He checked each stall as he walk-ran through the aisle and finding nothing, continued on.

   The next barn over found nothing out of the ordinary apart from a restless horse or two. Checking the feed storage pantry, the stable master once again found everything in common order. Leaving the barn for the next, Bellerophon took time to scan the land behind the barns. Empty paddocks and rows of bare fencing greeted him. He wondered for a moment if he should check the watering hole, a popular place for hands and workers to swim, but another loud whinny from the main barn deterred him.

   Horse heads hung out over their half-doors, a few answering back the desperate cries from one in particular. Bellerophon immediately recognized Bucephalus, whose neck glistened from sweat in the faint lamplight. The bottom of his stall door cracked and banged as front hooves struck the heavy wood. Throwing his head high and back, the stallion let out a shrill and piercing cry, only to disappear into his stall. Moments later, kicking and the rustling of straw could be heard before the massive black head poked over the top of the door once more, seemingly more agitated than before.

   "Easy boy, easy," the man cooed soothingly, reaching a hand to the damp cheek of the horse. Bucephalus jerked his head back, half rearing in his stall.

   "Bucephalus, easy now." The stable master tried again, reaching up to the horse’s head. The horse shoved his forehead against Bellerophon's chest and had the man not held firm to the halter, the push would’ve knocked him off his feet. Sweat continued to pour from the stallion's neck and flanks, foam bubbling at his mouth.

   "What is the matter, boy? You are quite worked up." He quickly looked the horse over for injury, particularly his front hooves. In all his years as a horseman he'd never seen a horse work himself up to this degree. He saw nothing in the barn that would rattle the horse, and none of the others…

   "Eris?" Bellerophon's eyes searched the familiar stall cattycorner from where he stood and found it empty. The half door was shut and locked on the stall, no way for the horse to get out without assistance. At last, a possible answer to the excitement.

   The stable master called to a stable hand, who'd also come to investigate the commotion, and instructed him to stay with Bucephalus. Within minutes other hands wandered into the barnyard, all tasked to calm the horses down. Bellerophon searched Eris's stall, looking for any signs of fowl play or any hints as to who might have taken the stallion but found nothing. Tack was missing from its position on the outer stall wall, which lead Bellerophon to believe the horse had been taken out for a leisurely night stroll by Ares, who’d been known for his midnight rides in the past. Any other time he might have believed that same excuse was true tonight, but the uncharacteristic behavior of Bucephalus continued to weigh on him.

   Striding across the aisle, the stable master excused himself as he as he snuck between the stable hands holding Bucephalus and the stall door. A quick inspection of this stall also proved to be meaningless. Bellerophon shook his head as he laid a palm to the black stallion's neck. He couldn't find an answer. Maybe Ares had indeed taken Eris for a night’s ride.

   "Master Bellerophon?" The stable hand that had been sent to bring Athena to settle her stallion stopped at the stall door. "I am sorry Master, but General Athena is not in her quarters. I asked a maiden to check on her and found her chamber empty."

   The old man glanced at her horse which calmed down slightly in the care of the stable hand. He knew Athena had a history of walking in the night when her mind was troubled. He had even joined her on occasion and certainly after the last several days he understood she had more than enough to preoccupy her mind into a troubling state. The child he watched grow up into a skilled young woman had faced a challenging time of late.

   Bellerophon's gaze shifted past the open stall to the floor, where scattered clumps of straw looked as though they'd been dropped accidentally during barn chores. He'd have a word with the hands in the morning about the mess but for now he simply wanted it cleaned up. Just as he reached down to grab it, a voice called to him.

   "Commander Ares has not been seen since before nightfall and his quarters are empty."

   Piecing two and two together, it seemed as though Ares and Athena had taken a stroll, accompanied by Ares's stallion. "Which may explain Bucephalus," he said aloud to no one in particular. The black stallion and Athena had a unique bond and if she accompanied Ares with his horse, Bucephalus might act as jealous as a human if he wasn’t invited along.

   "Master! I found something you should see!" A young boy with black curly hair was squatting down in the aisle before Bucephalus's stall, off to the side of the door. A broomstick was in one hand while a handful of straw in another. As Bellerophon closed in on the boy, he saw it wasn't simply straw in his hand, but straw colored dark red.

   "I believe it to be blood, sir. The straw was down over it, as though to cover it. "

   Taking the fistful of blood covered straw, the stable master ran his fingers over the stains, checking to verify its identity. Kneeling down, his fingertips touched the spot of blood, mostly dried but still tacky, on the gray stone floor. Some blood stain remained on his fingers as he raised them to his nose. "This happened not long ago," he concluded.

   Standing, it was only then Bellerophon noticed how quiet Bucephalus had become since the discovery of the blood stain. "This is what you wanted to tell us, is it not, boy?"

   The stallion's eyes were wide and his nostrils flared as the man walked closer to the stall, his hand outstretched. Smelling the blood, the horse raised his head and inhaled, nose quivering, all the while keeping his eyes locked on the man. In that moment, the horse told the horseman everything he needed to know for certain.

   "Master, another horse is missing!"

Maleficent

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on June 27, 2014 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)


Truth be told, I don’t really even know why Sleeping Beauty was my favorite Disney ‘Princess’ movie growing up. I love ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and was even a fan of Ariel, dressing up as her for Halloween when I was 8 (but I should say that I dressed up as Aurora for Halloween at 7yrs) and I recently dressed up as Elsa from ‘Frozen’ for Dallas Comic Con just a few weeks ago. But for whatever reason, I’ve always loved ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (maybe it’s because Prince Phillip, who is one of the few actual princes who has an actual name, is actually kinda cute. never thought Beast was cute – much better off as the Beast). Nevertheless, my love for this movie had me dressing up as Maleficent for Halloween 2013, though I’ll admit this was before I knew I should’ve have wings :)


Disney has taken the opportunity to tell the other side of the story of Sleeping Beauty in Maleficent, with Angelina Jolie in the title role, Elle Fanning as Aurora, and Sharlto Copley as King Stefan. Most people have been calling the movie a retelling of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, which it kinda is I admit, but at the same time I don’t want to say it is. It’s more of a story we’ve never heard until now because while it is based around the story we already know, parts are the same and parts are different. Most are different.


For example, and I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but the three good fairies who take the baby Aurora away to safely raise her – their names are not Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, but Knotgrass, Flittle, and Thistletwit. Never once do they call Aurora by her other name in the first Disney version, Briar Rose. While they may be little things that don’t really change the original story too much, it’s one reason why I feel the new movie is more than just a ‘retelling’ of a classic story.


The audience is first introduced to Maleficent as a young and winged fairy of the Moors, a land not far from the future King Stefan’s castle, which is home to all sorts of magical creatures. Humans have been battling the Moors for a long time, wanting to take over because they believe it’s their right (hmmm, fairytales seem to be quite similar to real life nowadays), until one day a young Stefan becomes lost (while attempting to steal from the Moors in order to help him move up from being a peasant and stable boy). Maleficent, curious to see a human up close, goes to his aid and a friendship is formed.


That friendship grows as both characters grow from childhood into adolescence and into adulthood. More importantly, Stefan gives Maleficent a ‘true loves kiss’ on her 16th birthday (remember that). However, the current King still very much wants the Moors and orders Maleficent, who has been battling his army, to be killed. He declares whoever does so will be his heir, marry his daughter, and be the future king. Stefan, who has risen from his lower peasant days, still seeks to improve himself and goes to the Moors to kill Maleficent. However, he finds he can’t do it after years of forming a friendship, and instead takes out an iron chain and cuts off her wings. He delivers them to the king and in doing so, secures his fate.


No need to go into detail about what happens next: angered woman who wants revenge on the man who she loved and thought loved her. Pretty much sums it up. So years pass and Maleficent is now rumored to be the dreaded fairy the Disney cartoon portrays her to be, horns, black crow and all. On the celebration day of King Stefan’s daughter’s birth, revenge driven Maleficent arrives to curse the child and we all know how: before the sun sets on her 16th birthday, she will prick her finger of the needle of a spinning wheel and die. But unlike the cartoon, Stefan begs for his daughter not to die, so Maleficent does the only thing she knows that can never be true – she curses the child to fall into a death-like sleep which can only be awakened by true love’s kiss. After all, there is no such thing. She and Stefan are proof in her mind.


Here’s where the story became almost too humorous to believe in for me. The three fairy godmothers do take the baby to be raised in secret in the woods, but Maleficent knows and watches nearly every day. The three good fairies prove they know nothing of raising a child and as fate has it, it’s Maleficent that ends up taking care of the child, bring milk and calming her down from cries. Of course, the fairies are oblivious to all of this and over the years, Maleficent watches Aurora grow into a sweet and caring princess who’s interested in everything and friendly to animals, etc etc. In the end, she regrets placing the curse on the child and even tries to remove it. However, fate has other plans.


I’ll let your knowledge of the first film be your hint sheet for what happens next. Needless to say, since this isn’t an actual retelling of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ the ending isn’t what you think you know. The story is filled with cute and humorous lines to help balance out the darkness hidden within the story.


Overall, I enjoyed the film and it must be said my Grandma loved all the details and visual effects of the Moors and all the creatures. I think Jolie did a good job with the range of emotions Maleficent goes through which helps really create a real character that you can feel for, which is always important (especially from a writer’s point of view). Fanning is cute and plays the innocent part well as Aurora, though the movie isn’t really about her and it shows in the storyline. Her performance is nothing out of the norm. Copley gave a great performance opposite Jolie and held his own, though I would have liked to have seen more of his backstory to get a better feel for why his persona is hungry for being on the top of the ladder. His character contributes to the story that humans were once good, but then fell to the power hungry need of greed, corruption, and the ‘must have’ attitude. It’s hinted as to why he does want this: he was left an orphan at the time he first meets Maleficent as children and has had to struggle to survive. Eventually he works his way up to what most would consider a good living, but he wants more and then falls as he betrays a friend to get it.


For some younger kids it may be a bit too scary toward the end: remember the dragon from the first movie? CGI dragons can be considered scarier than animated dragons since they seem more ‘real’. Another issue which people have brought up, which I really didn’t even consider when I was watching the film, is that the idea of Stefan cutting off Maleficent’s wings could be viewed as rape and certainly it shows a physical, aggressive act against a woman, committed by a man. Younger audiences may not understand that undertone, but older ones might and it may be a good topic to tackle as a parent. But I’ll leave that up to you and in the meantime be ready to order my DVD of this movie to put right next to the classic one I grew up with. Same characters – different stories. Both equally worth telling.

 

When Calls The Heart

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on March 8, 2014 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Hallmark’s When Calls the Heart


A few weeks ago I turned the big ‘3-0’ (and to be honest I have no idea why people, especially women, make it a big deal – I’m perfectly fine beginning this ‘new chapter’ in my life) and my grandmother and I celebrated by watching one of our favorite new shows on one of our favorite channels (which during the Christmas season is the only channel we have our TV on during the weekends). What sets this show apart from so many others I watch? Because for the first time in a long time there is truly a ‘for every family member’ show on TV an honestly it’s a shame more TV networks don’t carry the Hallmark Channel. And since we haven't heard yet about next year, let me tell you why ‘When Calls the Heart’ deserves a second season.


Growing up in rural, small town Central Kansas, most of the time as a kid I was out riding around town on my bike with friends, rollerblading around the blacktop on school grounds, or even practicing my gymnastic skills in the gym my parents owned and coached in. While we had a TV in the living room, there weren’t too many days (unless it was the cold of winter) where I was plopped down in front of it. It probably also didn’t help that my parents limited my sister and I on what we were allowed to watch. Pretty much anything on PBS was acceptable during the afternoon hours, since they usually broadcasted kid friend shows anyway, and occasionally I’d be allowed to watch a popular kid show on a basic channel (‘Might Morphin’ Power Rangers’ was the favorite show in 4th and 5th grade). Because my dad was a big ‘Star Trek’ fan, when I got older I was allowed to stay up past my normal bedtime of 9pm to watch reruns of ‘ST: Next Generation’.


One of the few shows that remains with me to this day was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House on the Prairie’, produced by Michael Landon (aka Pa Ingalls). After all these years I can’t tell you when I first started watching it on PBS, but I can tell you it was commercial free and that I’ve probably seen every episode at least five times. But what made this show so special? Why, even now when it comes on in syndication, do I stop and watch it and usually exclaim, ‘Oh, I remember this one! This is the time (blah blah blah).’ First of all, I was/still am a great reader, so I’d read the books written by Laura and my collect still sits on my home office bookshelf today. But what really made the show special was the real family aspect and values the stories, day after day, which is something I didn’t fully comprehend until I got older. Sure, even as a kid, I understood the storylines of ‘you shouldn’t do this because’ and other morals that, because they usually were happening to Half-pint herself as a child, we fellow children could relate to. But many of the episodes I’ll rewatch and see something completely new and different. The child may see the world through their eyes in a completely different way than an adult would, but the same can be said when looking at the world through an adult’s eyes.


The thing that I can relate to as a faithful viewer of ‘When Calls the Heart’ is that Michael Landon Jr. has taken the values his father implemented on ‘Little House’ and presented them, in his own way and style, to a whole new audience. While the story may focus around Elizabeth Thatcher (sweetly played by Erin Krakow), a young woman who had a privileged upbringing in the big city out East who takes a teaching job out in the Western Canadian Rockies, the theme behind the show is so much more. In my eyes, it’s a story about people, a community, people who have come from different backgrounds but are brought together following a tragic accident in the coal mines. The true heart of the story is how these torn families come together in order to not only move on from this tragedy individually but to make better lives for themselves and for their children. In the pilot episode, upon Elizabeth’s arrival we see the mothers coming together to explain that her teaching position is being paid by the mothers of the children; it’s one of the few things left in Coal Valley that isn’t company owned and the underlying reason for it is because the mothers don’t want their children, particularly their sons, to have to become miners. They want a better life for them and they know if the mining company paid the teacher to ‘teach’ the children, most likely the young sons would eventually be forced to work in the mines (and I have a feeling Gowen would make sure the sons ended up in the mines).


To me, this is similar to ‘Little House’ and what Landon Sr. did. The stories told in the eight or nine seasons of the show didn’t just focus on little Laura Ingalls as she grew up – the stories focused on the whole Ingalls family, and the Olesons (and annoying Nellie!), and Mr. Edwards, Dr. Baker, Rev. Alden, and the Garveys, and eventually the Wilders. The overall story focused on the community of people, not just a single or small group of people and this is meaningful because our lives don’t focus on just our families or close friends – real lives involve a whole range of people, our own communities in a sense. Our workplaces are communities, our neighbors and where we live are more communities, when we go to school, that is a community. Each of these communities have some impact on our lives, and we all hope for the better. That’s what I find myself rooting for every Saturday night – I want to see the people and the families of Coal Valley find happiness after a dark time.


Another reason the show deserves a second season is simply because any more on basic cable/networks, there aren’t too many shows that the whole family can watch together. Shows on television today are completely different from what they were even ten years ago. Having polling my fellow WCTH fans on our Facebook group, family shows like ‘Hope Island’, ‘The Walton’s’, ‘Full House’ (hmmm, sound familiar Lori Loughlin?), ‘Christy’, ‘Little Men’, ‘Bordertown’, ‘Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman’, ‘Anne of Avonlea’ – all of which were good family shows – aren’t on the air anymore, or if they are on via reruns, they’re shown on these rarely heard of cable/satellite channels found far away from your more commonly watched channels.


Now, I know that not all cable/satellite providers offer the Hallmark Channel to their subscribers (which is a shame) and like all shows, viewership of the show and ratings is what usually keeps a show on for another season. And while I’ve heard that ratings are good, I happen to also know that people who do watch the handsome and dashing Mountie Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) tease Elizabeth are also sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to see if Elizabeth and Jack get together…because I see the tweets on Twitter and the groups and posts on Facebook. They’re waiting to see how the children will cope with the loss of their fathers. They’re waiting to see if the wives turned widows will be able to clear the mine and keep their homes. We all know there is so much potential to tell and continue the stories of the people of Coal Valley (even after Jack and Elizabeth get together *fingers crossed*).


If my experience with ‘Little House’ is any indication, children somewhere, someday, whether watching ‘When Calls The Heart’ in the present or in the future, will learn not only be entertained but will learn morals along with definition of responsibility, honesty, kindness, hard work and hopefully will find something to believe in. I hope that whoever is in charge at Hallmark will realize what a true gem they have in this show and the incredible talent (both in front and behind the cameras) which bring it to our television screens every week. I hope they listen to the fans and give this Janette Oke inspired show a chance to really grow its wings (and if you haven’t read Oke’s book, ‘Where Courage Calls’, which is a companion book to the show, then you seriously need to! I hope more follow!)

 

Saving Mr. Banks

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on January 16, 2014 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)


Who didn’t watch the beloved Mary Poppins growing up? (well okay, maybe there were a few of you). Only one time through and you were asking your parents why you couldn’t have a spoonful of sugar with that horrible medicine they forced on you when you were sick.


I’ll be honest in saying that I’ve never read the book of Mary Poppins (“Not Mary, never ever just Mary”;), but after watching this film I’m curious as to read it and compare it to Walt Disney’s classic family film. The movie is set in 1960 or 61 (I can't remember), starring Tom Hanks as Disney and my favorite Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers, tells the story of how 20 years after publication of her beloved nanny author Pamela Travers is running out of money. Her agent/publisher/manager (not sure who exactly) tells her the only way to keep any money coming in is for her to sell the rights of her book to Walt Disney himself, who has been after her and the book ever since promising his daughters that he’d make a movie out of the story.


We are thrown into a journey of Ginty, a young girl living in Australia in 1906, who’s family moves out to the outback when her father becomes manager of a new bank branch. Through interactions with father and daughter, it is obvious the two of them are close and that Ginty thinks exceptionally highly of her father.


Finally arriving in Los Angeles, Pamela begins a friendly (though maybe not always friendly) war with Walt and the three men he’s hired to bring the book to the screen: Robert and Richard Sherman (music and lyrics) and Don DaGradi. Pamela demands no singing, no music, no animation, no color red in the film (at all!) – pretty much everything Disney has in his films. No one understands why she demands them and she refused to elaborate as to why. She only states that she won’t have her character turned into one of Walt’s silly cartoons.


Throughout the development of Mary Poppins, we continue to see the journey of Ginty and her family, slowly realizing her beloved father has a drinking problem and is slowly becoming more and more sick. Help arrives in the form of her Aunt Ellie, clearly the inspiration for Mary Poppins, who arrives with a bird shaped umbrella. (and by now, if you haven’t figured out that Ginty is in fact Pamela, then you’re in trouble). Ellie tells life like it is and doesn’t sugarcoat it, not even the death of Ginty’s father. Just as Mary Poppins does, according to Pamela.


Pamela returns to London, refusing to sign over the rights to Walt because he thinks that Mary Poppins has come to save the children. He follows her to London, discovering that Travers was the name of her father and the books she rights are her attempt to save her father, whom she couldn’t save as a child and that in Mary Poppins, Mary doesn’t come save the children, but Mr. Banks. Pamela eventually signs over the rights to Disney, who then in 1964 releases the film – singing, music, animation and all – to the world. At the premiere in L.A., the finished film releases the memories we’ve already seen throughout the movie and as the last song “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” plays, P.L. Travers realizes how much the audience enjoys the movie and care about her story…and her life.


While I knew from the trailer that this was the story of how Mary Poppins came to be but I went into the movie not sure what to expect. I suppose it’s because I never really gave it any thought. I didn’t know Mary Poppins was a book before it was a movie until I saw this trailer, so it’s not an unlikely conclusion that I never thought about where the story idea came from. Mary Poppins is a magical nanny. It was a Disney movie. They kinda went hand in hand.


But I never expected the story to play out as it did – a truly heart breaking story of a young girl who was inspired and even pushed into dreaming and creating a world around her by her loving and doting father, only to realize that her king wasn’t all that he seemed to be. While the story of Ginty stops after the death of her father, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that Ginty had to quickly grow up from that moment on, thus making Pamela the women she is today.


But enough of the story. The acting – oh Emma Thompson, how I love thee! Brilliantly played, the best I’ve seen from you in several years. She balances the fear of an author giving up her character (her family) to strangers with the drama and hurt she relives as she recalls her childhood. Meanwhile, Emma zips out those one (two or three) liners in ‘proper English’ which keeps the movie lighthearted and slightly comical. One of my favorites deals with her kicking out one of the Sherman brothers.


Tom Hanks is, as usual, Tom Hanks, I can’t say I know how Walt Disney was in real life, but I get from Hanks portrayal of him that he was someone who really was Peter Pan – he didn’t really want to grow up and wanted to make everyone happy. He was, as P.L. Travers says, a hyper-active man. Once discovering who Travers is, and why she wrote the story of Mary Poppins, the scene between Walt and Travers is very moving and Hanks gives a very touching performance in the scene as he proves that he will not make a silly animated film. People will care about the film, and about Mr. Banks in particular.


While I wouldn’t say it’s as family friendly as I initially thought from the trailer, older children may appreciate the film and most adults will enjoy the humor and banter between the characters, especially the little bit about Dick Van Dyke and how horrible an actor he is! If you’ve read the book (which I now plan on doing) and have seen the movie, this film may be of interest to you due to the real story that inspired it. Personally, Thompson is the heart and soul of this film and while she may have gotten the Golden Globe nom, in my opinion she was robbed out of the Oscar nom (I’m not sure she would have won, but there should have been the nom…but more on the Academy Awards later in the year). Nevertheless, I feel like I need to go and rewatch the movie, one I haven't seen in many, many years, and see how the film and story changes from what I remember as a child. I'm sure, as a child, I never would have watched the movie and thought Mary Poppins was coming to Save Mr. Banks. I'll let you know how that goes. 

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on December 17, 2013 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)



Before we travel back again, the unexpected journey continues with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the 2nd film in the Hobbit trilogy from Peter Jackson and company. We left our dwarves, hobbit, and wizard on a mountain top overlooking the vast landscape that they still had to travel to get to the Lonely Mountain. This was after they survived (battered, but not beaten) a fight with the Orcs and were rescued by giant eagles. The second film picks up with the company on the run from the Orcs, who have closed in on their position as they near the forest of Mirkwood (and let me just say that either our heroes are awfully slow or the eagles didn’t fly them very far, since the Orc pack are on their heels as we begin this tale).


After being helped by Beorn, a skin-changer, and spending the night in his gigantic home (big for Gandalf, even bigger for the dwarves and Bilbo), Gandalf leaves the company at the edge of Mirkwood to do his own quest, saying that he will meet up with them once they reach the Lonely Mountain and Erebor. But they find evil in the forest and they end up rescued only to be captured by their rescuers, the Wood Elves. Thorin meets the Elvenking, Thranduil, who offers Thorin a deal to help reclaim the mountain. Meanwhile, we are reintroduced to Legolas, Thranduil’s son, and Tauriel, a Silvan elf who is the captain of the guards and holds the eye of Legolas, upon whom she sees as a brother. But what does he see her as???


Not to spoil too much (but if you’ve read the book you already know what happens), the company escapes their predicament with the help of a certain thief and eventually makes their way to Erebor, where it is written on the map that Thorin cares they can enter the mountain via a secret door that will only reveal itself in the last light of Durin’s Day. Once the door is open, Bilbo will have to prove what he was hired to do – steal the Arkenstone and restore Thorin to the throne of Erebor…but first he has to sneak past the dragon, Smaug! This part I liked simply from a story standpoint, because as the dwarves come to help out Bilbo, we get to see more of their former homeland under the mountain than we saw in AUJ. And it’s kinda cool. But beware of that dragon…who sounds a lot like Khan and Sherlock Holmes with a cold…


Overall, the story is great and the acting was excellent! (and if Richard Armitage doesn’t get some kind of acting award, then nothing is right in the world). I only wish they had shot more in Beorn's house - that was pretty cool! Or would have been had we had more time to look around LOL


The additions: converting a book to the screen can be tricky, because no everything will work well on screen as it does on the page, and vice versa. Let’s remember – this story comes from a children’s book. It’s not like The Lord of the Rings, so obviously the story isn’t necessarily going to be full of long battles, scary, scary bad guys, but it’s built to keep the excitement as a child. (which is why I think some people didn’t enjoy the first all that much, because it wasn’t as action packed as the LOTR films…if you’ve read the book, then you’ll know the first 1/3 is kinda action-less anyway, so get over it).


In the book, Gandalf leaves the company of the dwarves but we never really know where he goes. In other writings (the appendixes of LOTR), we do learn where he goes and Peter and the filmmakers take this opportunity to tell a B-plot storyline. We get to see where he goes and what happens to him, which hints at things to come in the future (aka LOTR). Personally, a downside to The Hobbit was its lack of female characters, so it’s wonderful to see the filmmakers taking some liberty and adding a new female character to the realm of Tolkien. Tauriel was added with the idea that she embodied some of Tolkien’s beliefs about Middle Earth and I’m glad to see that the filmmakers wanted to stay as close to the story as possible without completely changing it. Having read the book and now seen this movie, I don’t think the addition of her character in anyway changes the story (well, apart from a little possible romance, but that doesn’t hurt). If one remembers, Galadriel shared about five minutes of screen time in the first Hobbit film, and while she doesn’t show up anywhere in the book, she’s part of Tolkien’s world anyway so it didn’t really hurt anything. Overall, I didn’t mind the additions to the storyline.


And the dragon! Holy crap on a cracker, that was a dragon! CGI has finally done something absolutely amazing! (not to mention the voice of Smaug was pretty awesome too – I hope all talking dragons I meet sound like Benedict Cumberbatch!) And the Mirkwood spider scene? I’m not gonna spoil it, but don’t drink a lot before you see this film.


Issues I had with the film:


While it’s true that yes, this film has more action than its predecessor, in some ways I feel that this film doesn’t compare to the first. Why you ask?


Cinematography: For whatever reason, even five minutes into this film, I felt as though I was watching a film made by a completely different group of film makers. The lighting on the actors in many of the scenes that CGI was featured heavily in made it seem as though I was watching a live play (lots of down-lighting). Camera pans and movements also made me think I was watching a life performance of a stage production that was being recorded for TV. Camera work, along with some very sharp and unnatural edits and cuts, hindered the overall look of the film to me. Like I said, I felt as though I was watching a movie made but someone completely new.


As for the CGI (apart from Smaug), most of the time, at least a good 1/3 of the movie, I felt as though I was in a video game. The graphics really looked like computer graphics, and not the really good ones either. Again, part of this may lie with the way the cameras moved and the shots put edited together. The look of the graphics was completely different that the first film.


Some people may say this overall look has to do with the fact they shot at 48 frames a second, twice the speed that films are usually shot at. This may be, however, with An Unexpected Journey, I felt none of the quickness I felt with this film, and I saw AUJ in 3D on an IMAX screen – this was just a jumbo DX screen. I’d be curious as to how the film looks in 2D on a regular screen and just may have to see for myself.


So overall, I feel that the story and acting was fantastic, but due to the issues I had with the cinematography, this film doesn’t beat An Unexpected Journey - not to mention the dwarves (and Armitage) don't sing in this one. Towards the end of the film the presentation of it did improve, but the video game like style in the first half hurt it too much. However, I do recommend seeing this film since the dragon is very neat on the theater screen and, of course, because sexy dwarves are so much better up close and in person!

 

 

Thor 2: The Dark World

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on November 8, 2013 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

It came. I saw. I’m going…to see it again.


Thor 2: The Dark World – ROCKED! And I’m not saying that simply because Thor fights like a giant rock monster. So without trying to give too much away:


Thor 2 picks up after Avengers. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her scientific crew of Erik Selvig, Darcy (Stellan Skarsgård and Kat Dennings returning), and Darcy’s intern are in London trying to hunt down and find Thor (Chris Hemsworth) when Jane stumbles upon a phenomenon that humans don’t understand yet: the convergence, a time when all nine realms line up in perfect harmony. With the Bifrost Bridge now rebuilt on Asgard, Thor, Lady Sif, and the warriors three have been working to bring peace to the nine realms, after war broke out as a result of Loki’s attack on New York City. Once peace returns, Thor travels to Earth to bring Jane back with him.


Meanwhile, Loki (once again played wonderfully by Tom Hiddleston) is in prison…reading a book LOL. Odin (Antony Hopkins) is convinced that Thor is ready to take his place as King while Frigga (Rene Russo) still believes that Loki has some good left in him. Little do they know that the Malekith, leader of the Dark Elves (a race thought to be destroyed by Odin’s father thousands of years ago) has returned to plot his vengeance again Asgard for stealing the Aether, a weapon of darkness that is known to destroy everything.


Not to give anything away, but if you’ve seen the trailers you know that Thor has to ask Loki for help and if Loki betrays him, Thor will kill him. We have big battles on Earth, Asgard, and the Dark World. We have a few cameos throughout the movie, though unless you know your Marvel, one might be a bit of a mystery.


Okay, so for the overall take of the film. What really makes this film stand out in my opinion is the balance of action with humor, something we saw in the first film, though I’d say there’s more in this sequel. Most of my favorites come from Loki/aka Hiddles :D, who delivers one zinger after another with a terrific mix of deadpan face and sarcastic tone. Hiddleston really has mastered the art of delivering a character who is a mix of mostly evil, some redemption, comedic sarcasm, vengeance, hatred, narcissism, puny God (lol), trickery, and all in all, someone who you could possibly feel sorry for, but usually don’t. The balance between Thor and Loki is great – even as adults they’re still bickering back and forth, in the process delivery great comedy. I think this is what sets this film apart from other hero films – the balance of action and comedy.


I loved how the storyline played to the continual development of the character of Thor, or what we writers would call a ‘coming of age’ story theme. In the first Thor, you had this selfish character who, through his banishment to Earth, meeting of Jane, and defeat of Loki, begins to understand what being a real King and ruler and protector is all about. And that theme continues from the first one – thru The Avengers – and into the sequel. We see a character that understands, or is beginning to understand, his purpose in life and he acts on it. He puts others first.


I’ll be honest – the first time I saw Malekith and the Dark Elves, played by British actor Christopher Eccleston, I thought I was seeing an episode of "Dr. Who" (and that sentence will only make sense to Dr. Who fans). But I thought he did a good job with the role (he’s a good baddie anyway), though I was surprised at the amount of Elvish language he and Algrim/Kurse (his second in command) spoke throughout the film (in subtitles so it takes away from the performance a bit in my opinion – the audience gets caught up in tiny subtitles and reading that it can be hard to actually see the performance of the actors). It was roughly half way through the film before we heard him speak English.


I don’t remember the explanation of why Malekith wanted to use the Aether, other than to revenge his fallen comrades against Asgard. If I remember correctly, initially they wanted to use the Aether to plunge the nine realms into darkness, but that’s about it. I don’t recall their being a reason for this per say, other than I assume the Dark Elves like the darkness.


Another thing that I love about it was Rene Russo kicking butt! I don’t want to say much, but let’s just say that as Queen of Asgard, Frigga rocks and I’m glad to see some strong women who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves and their beliefs in ‘superhero’ movies…the time for damsels in distress has gone (I hope).


The visual effects are great. Part of the plot revolves around wormholes (when the nine realms align, etc) so there are some great bits towards the end of the movie during the climatic fight scene which involves wormholes. While I saw the film in 3D, honestly you don’t need to spend the extra money. It wasn’t filmed with 3D cameras and is only a conversion (like most films are today), but there’s nothing that makes it truly worth seeing in 3D (no open-jawed great white sharks flying towards you or anything). However, the 3D in this film didn’t hurt my viewing of it either, which was nice. Plus seeing Chris Hemsworth shirtless in 3D could only be being by seeing the film in 3D IMAX…now there’s a thought.


Note: I will go on record and say yes, there is some nice eye candy for the ladies in this movie. Now, before I get criticized for saying that and arguing about the men’s eye candy scene in Star Trek: Into Darkness, let me point out one very important thing. Context. Thor is shirtless for about 15 seconds because he’s cleaning up the blood and dirt on him after fighting in a battle. Last time I checked you can’t get clean with dirty clothes on and had I been in a war, yes: I’d want to clean up afterwards. Now, this is unlike the scene in ST:ID where Dr. Carol Marcus is changing clothes (why? We’re still not sure) and Jim looks around (of course, he’s Jim) and sees her in her bra and matching panties. There was absolutely no reason for this scene – it had no context. The writers and director J.J. Abrams even agreed publically that the scene was unnecessary.


Jaimie Alexander, Ray Stevenson, Tadanodu Asano reprise their roles from the first movie, with the addition to the warriors four being Zachary Levi, who falls into the role of Fandral (played by Josh Dallas in the first Thor. Ironically, Levi was original choice for Fandral in the first film, but due to commitments for his then-on-air TV show, wasn’t able to take the role. In a reversal, Josh Dallas couldn’t film Thor 2 due to his commitment of a currently-on-air TV show). And I must say, I wasn’t sure if Levi could pull off blonde, but he does and I liked him better in the role than Dallas (which is probably the reason he was originally offered the role over Dallas to begin with). Lady Sif and the warriors three have minor roles again in this film, but they have enough scene time to be enjoyable characters and they aren’t a distraction from the overall plot.


Overall, it’s a good movie and I won’t say too many other spoilers since that takes all the fun out for you. However, you can’t expect to go into this film if you haven’t seen the first one. You need to understand how the characters are related to each other, and specifically you need to understand why there is this romantic plot between Thor and Jane (unlike the comics, however that relationship is hinted in this film again, like it was in the first (barely). Personally I like it and it feels real, and I just don’t understand why Odin can’t at least try and look favorably on it. There’s no real need to see The Avengers but honestly, if you’re going to this movie, you probably saw The Avengers. Who didn’t see The Avengers – it was the 3rd highest grossing box-office movie ever!


There is a fun cameo by an Avenger (not to be named) in addition to an Easter egg scene at the end of the film which will tie into future Marvel movies. There’s also another Easter egg scene at the very end which was fun to watch. Depending on what happens in Avengers 2, I’m curious to see where they’ll take the 3rd Thor film, which most likely will be the last and I hope it is. Sequels and trilogies work well as long as they don’t outlast their welcome…like some other fast and furious franchise I know which I won’t mention by name of course.


Also seeing the film in 3D gave me a chance to see five minutes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Oh please April, hurry up and get here! Robert Redford joins the cast and I do so love me Robert! Here's to more shirtless scenes of both Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans in future Marvel movies!

 

Much Ado About Nothing

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on October 17, 2013 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Much Ado About Nothing


 

I admit, I wanted to love this movie. Secondarily because of Joss Whedon. Sixth and lastly because Much Ado is one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies, largely due to Ken Branagh’s 1993 theatrical version. Firstly, have you seen this cast? Buffy and Firefly reunion! But thirdly, I wanted to see how a movie made in 12 days would play out.


Okay, so for you Bard virgins out there (which I've borrowed from the wikipedia page):

Much Ado About Nothing chronicles two pairs of lovers: Benedick and Beatrice (the main couple), and Claudio and Hero (the secondary couple). Benedick and Beatrice are engaged in a very "merry war"; they are both very witty and proclaim their disdain of love. In contrast, Claudio and Hero are sweet young people who are rendered practically speechless by their love for one another. Although the young lovers Hero and Claudio provide much of the impetus for the plot, the courtship between the wittier, wiser lovers Benedick and Beatrice is what makes Much Ado About Nothing so memorable. By means of "noting" (which sounds the same as "nothing," and which is gossip, rumour, and overhearing), Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into rejecting Hero at the altar on the erroneous belief that she has been unfaithful. However, Dogberry, a Constable who is a master of malapropisms, discovers the evil trickery of the villain, Don John. In the end, Don John runs away and everyone else joins in a dance celebrating the marriages of the two couples.


One of the things I love about Ken’s version is how the comedy is presented. Arguably, this isn’t only a comedy of errors (of sort) but also a drama in my opinion, though it’s commonly listed as the former. Because while there are some serious tones – Leonato sending his daughter, Hero, to her death because of the trickery of Don John; Benedict challenging Claudio to the death because Beatrice asked him to – there are many more funny scenes and Ken, being the Lord of Shakespeare that he is, cleverly showed that in the ’93 version. Ken’s Benedict crashing to his butt when the chair collapses at the precise moment Don Pedro begins talking of Beatrice’s love for Benedict is priceless…I still laugh at that scene, and the following one when he makes bird calls.


While Joss’s version is humorous in parts, I really felt as though the overall piece was lacking. There is some great physical comedy, especially the scene where Benedict tries to determine whether or not Beatrice does love him. Now, it must be argued that as a director, Joss has reign to direct his actors to portray however he wants the characters to be like for this adaptation. And having the knowledge that Joss has for many years done read-throughs of Shakespeare and this project was a particular passion for him only leads me to be a little disappointed in the presentation of it.


Part of it may have been the fact he made the film in 12 days, including rehearsals (I think). A handful of the actors had never before read Shakespeare, though two actors (Sean Maher as Don John and Nathan Fillion as Dogberry) do an excellent reading of the Bard being their first time – watching them you’d never know they were Bard virgins. In fact, I think Maher gives one of the best performances throughout the film. He seems to understand the character slightly better than Keanu Reeves did in Branagh’s film and seems to feel more comfortable with the language than Reeves did. Fillion, meanwhile, brings a comedic tone to Dogberry, not quite the way Michael Keaton did in ’93, but sets the tone as a constable who maybe not be the brightest crayon in the box but has every intention of trying to be the best man he could be. I love how both of these actors portrayed the character. Extremely funny and moderately funny – both fit well with what the director intended in the respected films.\


Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof bring to life Beatrice and Benedict, and while certain scenes they seemed to nail, others were left wanting. Unlike Emma Thompson and Ken Branagh’s versions of the quick-wit lovers, some of the punch-lines I find funny in other versions of the play I’ve seen preformed both on screen and stage just weren’t. At times I felt that all I was hearing were lines, but no emotions behind those lines, particularly with the zingers and one-liners. However, I did enjoy Acker’s breakdown of Beatrice after the failed wedding, the sadness, anger, and hatred of the events really showing in the scene.


Clark Gregg did a nice job of bringing Leonato to life, being serious and funny where it mattered – not bad after saying yes to the job the day before shooting began. I particularly like when he’s nearly passed out (supposedly drunk) at the moment that Don Pedro tells Claudio that he’s won Hero’s hand on his behalf.


I have to say I also enjoyed the fact that Whedon cast Conrade as a woman and in particular, Don John’s girlfriend. This really worked well during the scene where Don John plans his evil scheme and it works well at the end of the film when Don John leaves, giving Conrade the opportunity to feel remorse at what has happened. With this version, the “most valid and steady” (one could argue) relationship between Don John and Conrade proves to be nothing in the end because it goes to show how selfish Don John is if he’s willing to let others take the fall for his scheme. It took this almost ‘hanging’ dialogue from the scene and really allows the language to work. This same scene always seemed a little off to me in Branagh’s version, and though I didn’t always think it was Reeves’s performance, I really think now it was off because of the way the scene is simply written and staged.


One of the more unique things about this film is that it was shot in black and white. Not only does this help in the presentation of the story but the black and white tone of the film gives the audience a more, I suppose, relaxed take on Shakespeare. (modernized setting verses Shakespearean dialogue rarely works well in my opinion. 1996’s Romeo + Juliet is a prized example: when they say ‘draw your sword’ and they pull out guns??? didn’t work so well in my opinion since I was distracted by it and obviously still am though I’ve only seen that film once. In fact, the only ‘modern’ take on this that I enjoyed was the theatrical staged version of Much Ado in 2011 which was recorded and released on video. But then again, who doesn’t love David Tennant?) But with black and white, you’re not held captive by CGI or breathtaking views of scenery – you’re given this scene and while it’s outside or inside, I wasn’t really distracted or concern on where it was taking place. I was more focused on what was actually going on between the characters, which is what you want. I don’t know how to describe it really, but the black and white just seemed to almost give it a simpler take on Shakespeare, which for some people can be hard to understand. Plus, the old fashion black and white just gives a new and dare I say ‘fresh’ look on the story.


Overall, I enjoyed it, but not as much as Branagh’s version or the Wyndham’s Theater production of it starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate. However, the only real fault in the film is the lack of actual comedy, and not the physical kind like falling down stairs and rolling around on the ground. The comedic lines could’ve been delivered better and with more emotion and feeling. But apart from that, it was fun to enjoy. And the commentary is great too. 3 out of 5 Stars

 

Gotta Go Back To School - Again!

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on August 19, 2013 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Who the heck believes its August?! All I can say is that if I were school aged, I’d be complaining that I wasn’t ready to go back to school right about now! With the summer nearly gone (now I understand why my parents said that as I got older, time would seem to move faster) and school right around the corner for my young cousins, I thought it would seem like a good idea to list some favorite movies of mine that involve school. Or are at least set in school. So, in no particular order (because listing my top ten movies about cars was just way too hard), 10 movies I think everyone needs to see – either for the first time or for the hundredth:


The Breakfast Club – one of the all-time classic teen movies. Written by 80s icon John Hughes, the story revolves around five seemingly different teens who all end up in detention and by sharing their stories come to the realization that they may not be so different after all. A classic film that all kids, 80s or not, should see.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – okay, so maybe this movie isn’t the best when it comes to being a role model for the perfect high school senior. In fact, it’s basically a blueprint for how to get out of school. But time and time again, we watch and fall in love with the humor of Matthew Broderick, the quirkiness of Alan Ruck, and the sweetness of Mia Sara. Not to mention laugh like crazy when Ed Rooney rides the bus home after a rough day. Another reason to love John Hughes.


Grease (and Grease 2) – do I really need to say why this makes the list? Classic. Nuff said. As for 2, I know overall this is a film most people just laugh at, but being a fan of Michelle Pheiffer I enjoy this film. Because she’s right – what woman wouldn’t want to ride around behind a Cool Rider in black leather? Especially when he has an accent…


Easy A – this movie took me totally by surprise. Not only does it actually address some serious topics that both parents and teens can relate to, but it’s not done in a cheesy and campy manner that so many other teen movies do. I saw it with my dad and step-mom and my dad actually said it was one of the best films he’d seen that year, and he’s right. The writing is smart and fresh, knowing when to be funny and when to be serious, and more importantly it’s a film that may actually bring up serious and must have conversations at the dinner table between parents and kids.


Dead Poets Society – and I’m not just picking this because I was an English major. A movie about teens trying to find their lot in life are inspired by their English teacher to go against the grain. Just because someone, like parents, have certain expectations for you to follow, doesn’t mean that you should follow them. Follow your heart and find your own way.


10 Things I Hate About You – okay, as a comedy lover of Shakespeare, I debated whether or not to put this on the list, but I must admit I do like this film. It shows the awkwardness of teens, explains why some teens do certain things and what happens when peer pressure enters a teen’s life. Not to mention, how can you not love Heath Ledger? 


Sixteen Candles – yes, a third film by John Hughes. Obviously he understands teens. Every teen female needs to see this movie in order to relate and realize that compared to Molly Ringwald’s film family, they really don’t have it that bad. I mean, what family forgets their daughter’s 16th birthday? Every teen male needs to see this movie in order to find out why teen females think and act like we do. And also, just to learn what the definition of chivalrous means.


Remember the Titans – not just a favorite sport movie, but a fantastic family movie about events that really took place (and could be argued are still taking place to certain degrees) throughout the U.S. While the plot centers around high school football (and discrimination and segregation), the truth that people learn life lessons through the participation of sports has long been believed in my family. I love this movie and the soundtrack is fabulous as well!


Footloose (original) – probably the only movie that I can watch Kevin Bacon in without thinking, ‘that’s one weird guy’ (for whatever reason, after seeing him in Hollow Man, I just find him weird/creepy in just about anything). Great music, the title song which became my best friend and my’s signature song at school dances; a story that really has heart, especially with fathers wanting only the best for their children; overall a fun film.


Never Been Kissed – okay, I love this movie, and while it may not quite be the typical ‘high school film’ as others above, it is a great story about how those who always felt as though they were outcasts in high school really do find their place in life. And Drew Barrymore is "totes cute!"


Honorable Mentions:

The Karate Kid (original)

The Perfect Score

Teen Wolf

Hoosiers

Rebel Without a Cause

 

Cars, Cars, Cars

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on August 16, 2013 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, and I promise I’ve been reading books and watching movies, as well as doing other things. And I apologize, but unfortunately life has just gotten in the way. But I hope this blog will make it up.


So I recently brought a my very first brand new car – a 2014 Ford Mustang V6, 3.7 liter deep impact blue – that I’ve named Lady Minerva, or simply Lady M. If you’re wondering why this name, Minerva is the roman equivalent to Athena, which happens to be my main female character in my YA book series, Atlantis. But more importantly these ladies (or really just one technically) are the goddesses of wisdom and war. So my car is both smart and deadly :D. LOL But with this recent purchase, it has led me to think about a new list of movies – movies with kick-butt cars.


So, can I rank my top ten favorites with awesome cars? Let’s find out, but first lets list some movies, in no particular order.


Gone in Sixty Seconds (remake)

Without a doubt, I don’t think we could pass on this film. Fun soundtrack, great car chase and stunts, the knowledge that Nic Cage did most of the driving stunts himself, which always adds a bit more realisms in my opinion. Not only is the hero car a classic, the 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500, oh Eleanor!, but you’ve got 49 other cars scattered throughout the film including some of my favorites: Jaguar XJ 220 (“and Bernadine just took me for a ride”;)), Aston Martin DB1, Pontiac GTO, Porsche 911 Twin Turbo, Porsche 959, Dodge Viper Coupe GTS, along with multiple Ferraris, Mercedes, and Corvettes.


Gone in 60 Seconds (original)

Let’s be honest here. There was no real script, no real actors, no real story. The only thing this film had going for it was a 40 minute chase scene with Eleanor, a ’73 Ford Mustang Mach 1. And trust me, it’s a long chase scene – when I watched this original, even my dad fell asleep during it. Not to mention, it ended up fathering the remake, which is way better and so for that, we thank it.


The Fast and the Furious (series)

There are several cars in this film series, with big car chases and stunts (some more believable than others), but none probably as iconic as the one car Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto is afraid to get behind the wheel of, the 1970 Dodge Charger. Other memorable cars in the series include: the Nissan Skyline GT-R34, the Mitsubishi Eclipse, ’66 Ford GT40 Mk II, and the pink Honda S2000.


The Italian Job (remake)

The stars of the film: the red, white, and blue 2003 Mini Cooper S’s. Plus, let’s face it, seeing kick-ass transporter Jason Statham behind the wheel of (what some people consider) a chick car is kinda funny. Especially when Charlize Theron outdrives him.


The Italian Job (original)

Now, the ’68 Austin Mk 1 Mini Cooper S is the star of the original film too, but I just had to put this film on here because it’s great. Love Michael Caine. Fun film. Must watch.


Smokey and the Bandit

The 77 Pontiac Trans Am is a memorable car for sure, and while it may lack in looks, Burt Reynolds and Sally Field prove you can still have one heck of a fun time transporting beer across the Mississippi River while on the run from an unwanted wedding.


Cannonball Run

Another classic film with multiple cool cars. Ferrari 308 GTS; Lamborghini Countach; Aston Martin DB5, driven by who else? James Bond himself Roger Moore; Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow; and last but not least, a Dodge ambulance. Honestly, who races across the country in an ambulance?


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

You might not know what kind of car it is, but let’s face it – once you’ve seen this family film, there’s no forgetting what the car can do. The customized Paragon Panther, who according in the book by James Bond author Ian Fleming, had a mind of its own and could fly and fill up air pontoons so it could float on water in case of an emergency. How cool is that?


James Bond films

The Aston Martin DB5 is probably the most famous James Bond car of the day. Seen in six films, Goldfinger, Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, and Skyfall (plus The World Is Not Enough, even though those scenes were cut from the final film), the Aston Martin itself has been since in different models throughout the franchise, including the DBS, Vantage Volante, and the Vanquish. Jaguar, Audi, BMW, Ford, GM all make the list of cars that both Bond and other characters drive. However, another famous Bond car is the Lotus Esprit S1, which became known as the submarine car from The Spy Who Love Me. Most people may not know the car, but they do know it is pretty cool.


Transformers

The Chevy Camero, aka Bumblebee, is really the only thing keeping this movie going. Don’t even bother watching films 2 and 3…and in the future 4.


Redline

I only mention this film because, while it may not have been a big blockbuster at the box office, I happened to love the fact that the main character is a woman! See, women can drive too! In addition, there are still some top of the line fast cars in this film, including Porsche Carrera GT, Mercedes McLaren SLR, the Lamborghini Murcielago and the Diablo VT, Shelby Cobra 427, Rolls Royce Phantom, and the Enzo Ferrari.


The Transporter

Throughout the three films, Jason Statham does some serious driving (and most of it himself being the car enthusiast he is). A 1999 BWM 735i is the star for the first film, while the Audi A8 makes its debut in the second film and stays for the third, though it gets a facelift. Cars also seen in the film for brief times (like car chases) include the Mercedes-Benz W140 and the Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster.


Risky Business

Okay, I’ll be honest – I haven’t actually seen this film (so I guess I’ll add it to my list). However, I do know the star of this film well, the Porsche 928. Why? Because it was one of the first cars I ever drove. My dad bought his first 928 back around ’97-’98 or so, and now there are four in the family (two owned by my dad, two owned by my cousin). They’re great cars, I love how they handle, and they’re stylist and sleek to boot.


Herbie

How can Herbie, the Love Bug, not make this list? The original Beetle, with the engine in the back (unlike the cutesy bugs of today’s generation), had a mega personality and did usually whatever he wanted to do. The original film has inspired several remakes, but no matter who you talk to, everyone knows that little bug with the 53 on its hood.


American Graffiti

If the only thing you remember from this movie, other than it being George Lucas’s first (and pretty much only other film people can name other than Star Wars) big film, is the 1932 Ford Coupe.


Batman/Batman Returns

Please, the Batmobile. Need I say more?


Ghostbusters

Again, need I say more? The car (’59 Cadillac Miller-Meteor) is perfect, apart from needing some suspension work and shocks, and brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, read-end, new rings, mufflers, and a little wiring.


Grease

Grease Lighting – how could we miss this car, especially since it has its own song sung by John Travolta and company. But what we truly love about this car is that it flies away at the end of the film once Danny and Sandy are back together again. Talk about frequent flier miles.


Back to the Future

Forget the transporter, let’s travel by a De Lorean, provided we can get up to 88mph before we crash into the mall. One of only a handle of production line cars with gull-wing doors, the car became immediately recognized wherever it went. (another gull-winged door car, the Bricklin SV-1, happens to be owned by this gal and in her opinion is way cooler than the De Lorean).


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

How many car lovers cringed when the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT flies off in reverse and crashes through the glass of the garage, flies roughly 30 feet before coming to rest at the base of a tree? Like most car crashes, the car was a replica, but still the idea of it hurts. And on a side note, remember Ferris highly recommends picking one up, if you have the means. Bonus note: the high school used in this film is the same high school my college roomie Lesley graduated from.


Okay, so can I pick out ten top favorites and list them in order of car ranking? Let’s give it a try.


10. Herbie – honestly? The car is adorable and it has a personality. Get over it.

9. Back to the Future – truly a memorable car, but I still favor my Bricklin over it any day of the week. It may not time travel, but a sledge hammer can’t break my car.

8. Ghostbusters – a theme song that people sing to at karaoke on Halloween? Heck yes, so why shouldn’t their car make the list?

7. Batmobile – please, who doesn’t want one?

6. The Italian Job – the Mini Cooper. Apart from my sister killing me if her car doesn’t make my list, I do think the car is cute and despite its looks, is in fact quite roomie inside (as long as you’re not trying to stuff a 5’10” me into the back seat). But for larger people, the extended Mini has extra room for passengers and is really quite comfy (I know, as I can fit fine in my sister’s extended Mini)

5. The Transporter films – I love all of the cars in these films. BMW and Audi (along with Porsche) have always been favorites of mine: yes, I was born and bred for German engineering.

4. 2 Fast 2 Furious – the second film in this franchise has a favorite car of mine, the Nissan Skyline, for reasons that I just think it looks totally cool. Add to that its right side drive and illegal on the road in the U.S. (not for right side drive, but for other reasons) so really it’s kind of my rebel car.

3. Risky Business – I know, I said I hadn’t seen the film, but the only reason this unwatched film gets the 3rd spot is because of the Porsche 928. Being one of the first cars I ever drove, the 928 will always have a very special place in my heart. I love how it handles, it’s got smooth lines and a sleek look, and unlike Tom Cruise’s character I’ll make sure it doesn’t go for a swim.

2. Gone in Sixty Seconds (remake) – it’s hard for me not to put Eleanor on here, given that this film inspired my love of the Mustang GT. Maybe one day I’ll own a 500, but for now, I’m just very happy of Lady M. (plus, I’ve always loved the Jag XJ 220, don’t know why, but I do)

1. James Bond – it’s hard to me to pick the top, but let’s face it – Bond is Bond and Bond has some kick butt cars that do some kick butt stuff. Hard to argue with this one.


For better or worse, there’s my list. Any favorites?

 

Iron Man 3

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on May 3, 2013 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (1)

The real fun begins now – how do I write a review without giving spoilers away!?


Okay, first off I have to question/complain – why do I always end up sitting next to some college age frat boy who never shuts up during the film!


Now that’s off my chest. Okay, so here we go: Iron Man 3 picks up following The Avengers. For the first time we see Tony Stark (RDJ) as an actual human – like many veterans returning from war, Tony now deals with emotions, similar to post-traumatic stress I suppose, that make he really think about his life and those he now cares about most, ie Pepper (Paltrow). Which honestly, I love this side of Tony – it makes him more human than machine. However, the US government is struggling to track down the madman known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who has been attacking the US and other sites around the world in order to prove a point (what that point is, we really don’t know. If the movie did say, I’ll be honest and say it wasn’t something the writers focused on because I don’t remember it/it didn’t leave a lasting impression).


Pepper meets an old acquaintance at Stark Industries, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who has come with a proposal to enhance the human race by something or other dealing with the mind. He’s created AIM, Advanced Idea Mechanics, which is a scientific program which ends up going bad. Needless to say, Pepper tells him that it sounds as though something which could be used as a weapon, and the two part ways.


Tony, after seeing his old bodyguard Happy (1 & 2 director Jon Favreau) in a coma after surviving another Mandarin attack, declares to the Mandarin through the media, to come and get him, which the Mandarin does, by destroying Tony’s cliff-side home and nearly killing him and Pepper in the process. Following a lead he and Jarvis discovered earlier, Tony heads off to Tennessee to connect the dots and take out the bad guy, all while trying to keep Pepper safe and using what he knows for sure, his mechanic skills.


During all of this, Col. Rhodes (Don Cheadle) – War Machine now renamed and repainted Iron Patriot – is currently flying all over the world hunting down leads which the gov’t believes to be the Mandarin’s hideout. Meanwhile, an old one night stand, Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), comes to Pepper asking for help from Tony – turns out, she thinks her boss might be working in league with the Mandarin, using her research to create henchmen and destroy the world. Turns out, Hansen created an ‘extremis’ virus, which allows DNA of any creature, plant, or living organism to regenerate and reproduce missing body pieces at will. However, as Tony learns from their one night stand in 1999, the Extremis isn’t without it’s problems.


Long story short – Pepper is kidnapped by the Mandarin, Tony drives (yes, drives and not flies, and you’ll find out why) to Miami to stop the bad guy and rescue the girl. Rhodey on the other hand, discovers a plot involving the President of the US, and he meets up with Tony in Miami to rescue him before the Mandarin ends his life permanently. For the big finale, a big iron fight ensues, and things are never the same again.


Okay, not bad for not giving away all the important plot points, which of course are spoilers. So, here’s my review:


Overall, it’s a good film. But it’s noticeably different from the first two in that 1) you can tell it has a new director and writer and 2) whereas the first two Iron Man films you could watch and enjoy without having to know a single thing about the comics, this film really doesn’t a great job in explaining what the ‘Extremis’ is or why it works the way it does. (highlight this section for a spoilers: for example, I could understand that it regrows limbs. But why does the extremis allow Pearce to bring fire like a dragon? Hansen tells Tony in the open of the movie that there are still problems with her formula – we learn that it explodes, which is vital throughout the film for the films – but we don’t know why, which bugged me because we see all these villains, and later Pepper, glowing orangey-red like Famke Janssen as The Dark Phoenix in X-Men: the Last Stand.) I didn’t necessarily mind Shane Black at the helm, however his Lethal Weapon writing was more evident in this film: the smart-cracking one liners Tony is saying is still around, however it might have been one too many. My reaction was ‘Ok, funny, but can we please continue?’


Not to mention, the ending! This is all spoilers, so if you don’t wanna know until after you see the film, don’t highlight this part: forgive me, but after Iron Man 1 I was under the impression that the arch reactor in Tony’s chest was acting like a magnet – keeping all that metal shrapnel from working their way into his heart. The reason they couldn’t be removed – I thought, given it’s been a while since I’ve watched the first film – is that they were too close to his heart to attempt to remove without probably killing him. So how the bloody heck do the doctors remove the shrapnel at the end of the film, now giving Tony no reason to have the arch reactor in his chest? I’ve now done some hunting on the internet and it seems as though Tony as taken the Extremis virus and changed it to improve his own body, thus allowing for the reactor to be removed once the shrapnel is out. Again, would’ve been nice had they told us this. Plus, I thought the reactor is what powered the suits – so now how does Joss Whedon plan on working Avengers 2 around this? Also, how does Tony fix Pepper at the end? The little things are in the details people! Every good writer knows this.


Writing wise, this plot left too many unanswered questions for my liking – again, see the film then come back and read my spoilers so you know exactly what I’m talking about. The scenes with Tony and the little boy Harley Keener are sweet and again add to Tony’s emotional side we see for the first time really in this film, but a few of the one liners shot back and forth between the two could have been forgot.


Special effects were good, though I’ll admit I didn’t see it in 3D because it wasn’t shot in 3D and I do argue that you can tell the difference! Real 3D is the only way to go, I’m sorry. Acting – who doesn’t love Robert Downey Jr? Gwyneth Paltrow gets a little more action in this time as Pepper, which is nice, though from a character stand point, Pepper really doesn’t have the background to be able to fight a whole bunch. I wish Cheadle had more screen time with RDJ as Rhodey – I like their chemistry, both as actors and with the characters.


Overall, I’ll give the movie a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars given that I think it could’ve been better. It’s worth seeing, as is the Easter egg scene at the end of the credits, though if you’re looking for a teaser for another Marvel film, you’ll be disappointed. It’s more like the fun scene at the end of the Avengers. It's full of laughs and action, and actual character development we really haven't seen before in the IM films. Overall, I’m curious to see what Whedon does with Tony/Iron Man in Avengers 2.

 

The Big Wedding

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on April 28, 2013 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Jeff Foxworthy once said that if ‘you think you’ve got the stupidest family in the whole world; if you think you have the goofiest family in the whole world, all you’ve got to do is go to a state fair. Five minutes at a fair and you’ll go, ‘you know what? We’re alright. We’re dang near royalty.’


So if you think your family is terrible at weddings, go watch The Big Wedding and I guarantee you you’ll come out saying, ‘you know what? We’re alright. Our wedding was dang near perfect!’ The Big Wedding, a film I’ve been looking forward to since the fall of last year when it was originally scheduled to open, is nothing more but a laugh out loud good time about a semi-dysfunctional family that (honestly) could’ve done without the couple dozen unnecessary ‘f’ bombs, but overall is a cute film.


First off, and I’ve talked about this before with films like The Expendables, I don’t understand why foul language is used – generally over used – in films when the story and more importantly the characters who do use the language when they don’t need to use it int eh first place. Yes, I suppose when something unfortunate happens and upsets me, I’ve been known to curse a foul word or two. But I don’t go around throwing them in every other sentence. I’m not a mob boss. This film has a fun, enjoyable tone, and a meaningful heartbeat by the end, so the language used throughout by several characters just knocks the overall quality of the story when it doesn’t have to. Yes, a few here and there are okay and I think works for the storyline, but too much just hurts it, not to mention the fact that with a ‘R’ rating, this film looses a lot of potential audience members it didn’t need to lose if it had a ‘PG-13’ rating (and a quick shot of nudity which could’ve achieved the effect the director wanted had it been filmed differently).


The story – Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro are divorced couple Ellie and Don, who are brought back together for the wedding of their adopted son Al (played by the dashingly charming Brit Ben Barnes who I adore, even though he drops his native accent for an American one). Don now lives with Bebe (Susan Sarandon), Ellie’s one-time best friend, in the house the pair of them built together after their marriage. Don is on the wagon from alcohol and smoking, though he believes that the lack of drinking is hurting is art (painting and sculpting). But when Al informs his parents that his biological mother from Columbia is coming up for the wedding, but doesn’t know they’re divorced – and doesn’t approve of divorce – the fun really begins when Al begs them to pretend they’re still married.


Katherine Heigl and Topher Grace give decent supporting performances the two biological children of Don and Ellie, each with their own problems. Heigl, who I’ve though has always just been an average actress, does a good job as a newly separated Lyla, who, because of her own parents’ divorce, has always worried about her own marriage and is now living those problems. Grace’s turn as a 29-year-old virgin doctor is less convincing. He gives up whatever reasons he had for ‘waiting until he found love before jumping into the sack’ no second thought at all when Al’s biological sister accompanies their mother for the wedding. The writers might as well have written him as a virgin doctor who wants to loose his virginity, but is so terribly awkward with women that he just can't. That would've been funnier. There’s a father-daughter issue between Lyla and Don is heartfelt – as a daughter who is extremely close to her own father (and whose parents are divorced), I can relate/yet not relate to relationships like that. You want to love your parents, yet you don’t want to make their same mistakes.


Robin Williams makes an appearance as the Catholic priest, who ironically, wasn’t as funny as I though he was sure to be. That is, I’m sure, in part due to the writing, which had its ups and its downs. Personally, I don’t think the writing fit with the actors playing the characters. Williams is a comedian, so I thought surely he’d be the insightful yet comedic relief of a priest, but apart from a few funny lines (which you see in the trailer for the film), he’s not so much a comedic relief as he is the surprising insightful person who gives Ellie something to think about. Then there is Sarandon, who I’ve loved in just about every role I’ve seen her in. She can do funny and she can do serious. In this role, however, she plays both to a minimal degree which again goes back to the writing. I enjoyed the scene with her and Keaton in the end, and actually I was surprised by their relationship throughout the film, since the trailer made it seem as though the pair of them hated each other and thus, hated the situation Ellie, Don, and Bebe found themselves in for the weekend wedding.


Keaton and De Niro play the divorced couple perhaps a little too forcefully, throwing verbal scars back and forth at each other while still trying to pull off the whole ‘still married thing’ for Al’s mother. There are a few moments where they take time to remember what they built together, the family, and their children, though they never really reflect on what ended their marriage. One scene (you’ll know which) was quite funny in the moment, yet as a writer, the pace of it really didn’t match with what had been set up for it (again the writing, which I’ll get to later).


Barnes and Amanda Seyfried play a cute couple, though I wish there could’ve been some more scenes between the pair of them apart from just the two we really saw. In the back of my head I’m seeing many more scenes and moments where they were probably together talking (away from the action the audience sees on camera) about their crazy families. Of course, Barnes (Chronicles of Narnia) was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to see this film because let’s face it – he’s gorgeous and I want him for Christmas, and I’m glad to see that American audiences will see him more after his film. (two films I strongly recommend seeing if you haven’t are Easy Virtue (though you'll need the understanding of British humor to thoroughly enjoy it) and Dorian Gray, the latter of which I personally think was overlooked by the big awards groups when it was released in 2009 – it wasn’t highly publicized in the US, which was a shame. I may just have to do a blog on that too).


For me, the writing of this film is what really keeps it down from other wedding/crazy family movies and could have much MUCH better. For some reason, I get the feeling that many scenes were cut from the overall film (the film only runs 90 minutes, which for a comedy is nice but again, I felt as though parts were missing, which isn’t so nice). Apart from the writers not using the talents of the actors they had to increase the strengths of their characters, I just felt that many things from a plot standpoint were missing. Keaton is a fantastic physical comedic actress, and we don't see any of that.


However, despite all of these setbacks, which would probably be the death to many other films, the film really is good. It had both my grandmother and I in laughing fits (me more than her), it was a coming of age story for most if not all the characters by the end of the film, and the twists continued to come. It was like watching…honestly, I don’t know. A redneck family wedding meets a ‘who slept with who?’ surprise.


If you can ignore the sometimes horrible writing and looking for 90 minutes of laughing and surprises, this film gives it to you plus a little more. I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars.

 

BBC's Sherlock

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on April 15, 2013 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)


I know usually I talk about movies for my weekly recommendation, but I’m gonna switch gears on you and go the TV route, because I’m partly ashamed at why I haven’t gotten into the BBC’s Sherlock before now and you should be ashamed too if you haven’t checked it out.


(though I do know partially why I haven’t seen it before now – didn’t have cable. However, I can’t use that really since both seasons are currently on Netflix)


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created multiple interesting characters for his stories, but none so interesting as his title character, Sherlock Holmes. A character who by today’s medical standards might be associated with Asperger’s Syndrome, Holmes is the world’s first and only consulting detective who leads his gifted way of thinking and observing to local police detectives when they can’t solve the crime. Whether or not you’ve ever read any of Doyle’s creations (I’ll be honest, I hadn’t until now), it’s still likely you’ve heard the name of Holmes.


In 2010 the BBC developed a modernized three episodes a season TV show starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the eccentric detective and Martin Freeman as the recently returned Army doctor John Watson. Taking Doyle’s original stories and updating them with new twists, the show has become an instant hit on both sides of the pond, with Freeman winning the 2011 BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Awards) award for best supporting actor in a TV role (both he and Cumberbatch (lead actor) were nominated in 2011 and 2012).


So why am I completely addicted to it?


First: the writing. Yes, the episodes are based around original stories by Doyle, however they’ve been updated to allow for modern conveniences and plot points. Technology has obviously advanced and allows our heroes to do more things than in Doyle's day, and threats can be greater now, with bombs and nuclear threats in our day in age.


Season 1’s premiere, “A Study in Pink”, is based off the novel A Study in Scarlet, which is one of only four actual full novels Doyle ever wrote is the novel which the character of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson are first introduced. Like the story, Sherlock is looking for a roommate to share his flat of 221B Baker Street. We, like Watson, are thrown into the crazy world of Sherlock without any caution flags or yield signs - it's fast paced and never dull.


Season 2’s premiere, entitled “A Scandal in Belgravia”, introduced the character of Irene Adler and revolved around Sherlock recovering some photographs that could hurt someone in the Royal Family. Sound familiar? It should, given that it was based off of Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia”, which also dealt with Adler and a photograph. I should also note that the show, like in the books, gives the impression that Adler is the only woman ever to make Holmes (for lack of a better term) think about a woman. He tells Watson that he’s married to his work, but Alder becomes known as ‘the one woman’, since Holmes can’t forget or ignore her. We wonder if Sherlock has met his match, and it's quite possible that in fact he has. I have a feeling she might very well turn up again in some form or another. 


While Season 3 is currently in production, the premiere episode entitled “The Empty Hearse” sounds an awful lot like “The Empty House”, a story in which Doyle wrote and ‘resurrected’ the character of Holmes after the public outcry of his death in the story “The Final Problem” after he fought the mysterious Moriarty. I'm sure it will be a good one; they've all been good, but even more so on the emotional level since Dr. Watson was very distraught over the death of Sherlock in the season 2 finale. 


Second reason: the acting. Now, the writing contributes as much to this reason as just the acting itself does. Without fun and entertaining writing, the show would suck (as would show or film). And while the writing is great, the acting is even better. I know understand why the writers’ only pick to play the eccentric Holmes was Cumberbatch – he nails it. I’d only ever seen Cumberbatch in supporting roles (Atonement, War Horse, Amazing Grace); however I did know him to be the villain in the upcoming Star Trek: Into Darkness and as the dragon in The Hobbit films. And I have to say from the acting point of view, his role as Holmes really shows his acting skills. Somehow he turns this ‘know-it-all’ detective who has an air of stuck-up-ness and arrogance about him which, as he says, “piss-off” most people, Cumberbatch finds something in the character to make him actually likable. You find yourself rooting for him and yet watching to make him upside the head for his rudeness at the same time. He’s completely 200% scientific and speaking mumbo-jumbo one minute, then jumping for joy (literally) over getting a murder case. He’s bloody brilliant. You want to shake him for being ignorant of basic things (like people’s feelings); simultaneously you stare in awe and wonder and think “how does he do that?” Cumberbatch brings a flirtatious charm to the role, which is sure to gain the attention of females the world over.


Martin Freeman is just as good in this more serious role, considering my favorite roles of his deal with him being a sweet and love wanting porn stand-in (Love Actually) and now the lovable adventure seeking hobbit (The Hobbit trilogy). Freeman’s Watson is someone who the audience can buy as someone who is unsure of his next move as a civilian because all he’s ever known is the Army. We continually see him struggling in things we take for granted – one example: dating – and struggling even more with these things now that Holmes is in his life (i.e. what happened due to Holmes while on a date). Yet at the same time, we see a character that can’t completely put up with Sherlock and his antics and voices his dislike on several occasions, but simultaneously we see a character who has been given second chance to do something with his life by the person who drives him insane. Watson thinks of Sherlock as being both insane and extraordinary at the same time, and we see how these two characters need each other as friends. They are, in fact, probably the only people who have ever cared about the other throughout their lifetime.


If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest getting on Netflix and watching the first two seasons of Sherlock. Each season has three episodes, 90 minutes each, so it really takes no time at all to catch up – it’s like watching a whole season of The Big Bang Theory. It’s mysterious, adventurous, funny – and it will get you addicted.

 

G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on April 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)


So this weekend, after a long day of doing yard work for my grandmother, I took my step-cousins ? (my cousin’s step-brothers so I guess technically they’re now my cousins, but the question becomes are they my ‘step’ cousins or just cousins) to see G.I. Joe: Retaliation. I wasn’t necessarily sure what I would find – I found the first one a good movie, still with faults, but overall not bad. It had fun humor and action, and Ray Park, who I always look at during kick-ass action martial arts scenes and go, ‘wish I could do that, it’s so cool’. Unlike most of the movies I keep an eye on, apart from the trailer for Joe 2 I didn’t know what to expect out of it, except that normally I enjoy Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis.


So what is the verdict? Honestly, I’m not sure. So let’s get into a quick summary and you can tell me what you think.


Duke (Channing Tatum) is back as captain of his Joe group. Under his leadership: Roadblock (Johnson), Flint (DJ Cotrona), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), and some others who I might as well not mention since they die in a massive attack after the opening mission. Spoiler: Duke dies in the attack saving Flint. Thus Roadblock takes command of the remaining Joes, Flint and Jaye, and they attempt to make their way home and discover why all the Joe command posts have been destroyed.


Meanwhile, Snake Eyes (Ray Park) has his own mission, alongside his cousin, Jinx (Elodie Yung) – to find Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) (who somehow has survived the icy waters of the Artic after his fight (and what I assumed was death) with Snake at the end of the first movie). The pair of them take on an Eastern monk monastery type of place up high in the mountains to retrieve Shadow, who is recovering from injuries sustained during his breakout attempt of Cobra Commander.


Shadow tells them of Cobra Commander’s plans with Zartan (aka the President of the US played by Jonathan Pryce) and how he plans on taking over the world. Roadblock, Jaye, Flint, Snake Eyes, and Jinx must now get help if they are going to save the world (literally) and they find that help from a retired General Colton (Willis). Then, as the Joes do it, they go and fight all bad-ass in an attempt to set the world right again.


Okay, a few problems I had with the film:

   1) there is no mention of where General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), who (though I admit I haven’t seen the first film in a bit) I thought was the leader of the Joes. We learn that from the air raid on all the Joe camps/locations, we assume that he is dead, but my question then becomes: why wasn’t Duke reporting to Hawk? I can believe that Duke was made a leader of a Joe team, but is it still the ‘A-team’ of the Joes, like in the first film?

   2) there is no mention of what happened to any of the other Joes from the first film that aren’t in the second film. I know this could be possible – they could be off on other teams/missions, but it would’ve been nice to know what happened to Duke’s close and best friend, Ripcord. Just saying.

   3) Joes don’t get any more high technology transportation or weapons, huh? Apart from a video controlled bullet, the Joes are riding in standard helicopters and what not, unlike the first film where they had this cool looking plane. Sure, it might have been a stretch – I mean, the whole story revolved around nanobites – but still, it was cool

   4) No explanation of how Storm Shadow survived his icy grave? Granted it’s been a while since I watched the first film, but I always assumed that Shadow died after his fight with Snake Eyes. Snake Eyes sliced him a few times across the chest, did he stab him? don’t remember, then Shadow fell into the icy waters of the Artic. That relationship, and what caused it (according to the first film anyway, it goes a completely different way in this film), is the reason Snake Eyes became the Snake Eyes we all know and love. Their master’s death caused Snake Eyes to take a vow of silence and hunt down his ‘brother’, who he believed to have killed him (SPOILER ALERT – that’s not the case!) Still, bugs me to not know how he survived.

   5) Who the hell is General Colton? Can’t say I know him from the Joe realm, but maybe that’s the case. I just assumed he was some retired Army general that Roadblock knew from a previous relationship. Also, I would’ve liked to have seen more background on Roadblock and Duke’s relationship before Duke was killed. They seemed to be close friends, but I don’t know why since there was never mention of it before. From the first film, I just had the impression that Duke and Ripcord were close friends and buddies, and I’m not saying that Duke can’t be friends with Roadblock, but I’m saying it would’ve been nice just to have a line of two that clarified their relationship, like Duke: “See, I told you being a Joe was more fun than just military” or something to that effect.


Okay, since I complained about the stuff I didn’t like, here’s a list of the things I did like:


   1) more Snake Eyes. I always thought Snake Eyes was unappreciated in the first film. Maybe this is large in part due to my like of Ray Park, the actor who brings Snake to life. I’ve always enjoyed Park – what Star Wars fan can forget Darth Maul? (my BFF Tayler I think only hated him because he killed Liam Neeson). While critics, and maybe even some audiences hated it, I liked his 2002’s Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever role opposite Lucy Liu and Antonio Banderas. All of that impressive martial arts stuff just makes me go, ‘That is so cool! Wish I could do that!’ Meanwhile, I go outside and goof off to see if I really can do stuff like that…

   2) Lady Jaye and Jinx. This does it. I really think I should patent my story ideas for movie sequels immediately after the first film comes out in theaters. This is another movie where I found myself creating a sequel after seeing the first film in theaters, and yes, my sequel had both of these female characters in it. Must go to show that I should be out in Hollywood somewhere writing movie scripts… (and if you want to know my other films, Star Trek: Into Darkness has already announced the re-introduction of Carol Marcus (though I have a feeling my version is different from theirs), and I’ve heard rumors of Ms. Marvel joining the sequel to The Avengers – again, my idea)

   3) Roadblock – I must admit that I do enjoy watching Dwayne Johnson in action, though let’s face it he pretty much always plays the same character. Apart from A Game Plan and maybe that Toothfairy movie (I didn’t see the latter), he plays basic kick-ass characters. Then again, look at the man. But it’s nice to see that he has some comic timing and can lighten up a mood if necessary, though we don’t see much of that in this film apart of the opening scene with him and his two girls.

   4) Predictable plot: my cousins couldn’t figure out why I was laughing at certain parts of the movie, laughing here most people aren’t laughing or where it wouldn’t really seem all that funny, but I laughed in parts simply because I knew what was coming next. For instance – the ‘no solicitor’ sign in front of the General’s house. Funny, just cause I thought I knew where they were going (I admit I thought they might be seeing General Hawk and not General Colton, but overall I still get brownie points). There’s another big action plot point towards the first half of the movie, and I knew exactly how they were setting it up (I won’t go into too much detail for fear of spoilers, but someone isn’t who they claim to be). I pretty much knew that Duke was going to die – largely because everything I saw in the trailer with him happens the first 15 minutes of the movie, plus as we writers like to say, the ‘hints’ at his death were there if you read between the lines.


Overall, the movie was okay – I have to watch the first film again to see if either one beats the other. I think because only a few characters returned for the sequel that movie is almost a completely different one than the first. It’s not like the new Star Trek movie coming out for example. The main cast (apart from villain) all returns. In this movie, you had Duke (or 15 minutes), Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and Cobra Commander (though played by a different actor). That’s it. Everyone else was new. Unless you're a die-hard fan you might just wait until this is out on video and redbox - fights/action scenes aren't really impressive enough warrent a 'must watch on the big screen'.

 

Star Trek Into Darkness

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on March 22, 2013 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Star Trek: Into Darkness

(more like into my “naughty list” J.J. Abrams)


Okay, I’ve been on a slight ‘caution’ level of say, yellow-orange, since the first trailer for the new ST movie came out last year. Why? I think it had something to do with the shot of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 plummeting into what appeared to be San Francisco Bay. Thumbs down #1: The original Enterprise survived 3 seasons on TV and made it through 2.99 movies before self-destructing at the end of ST 3: Search for Spock. And now in our alternate timeline, director J.J. Abrams has managed to destroy it in less than two movies. Not good Abrams.


Maybe I should confess that I may still be harboring ill-favors on his first film – over 3 years since the rebooted Star Trek came out and I still can’t understand why he had to use his ‘Alias’ devised “red matter” to save Romulus. I suppose we should be thankful that he didn’t make the planet simply disappear like he did on ‘LOST’ (I admit I stopped watching during season 3 because we never got any answers, only more questions).


There were certain things I was glad to see in the reboot, say in honor of Gene Roddenberry’s creation – Kirk’s womanizing ways; Bones medical ranting & raving (and while I’m at it, I’ll say Karl Urban was the best actor cast for that role); I was even impressed to see little background info like Spock declining to attend the Vulcan Academy – original fans already knew this from previous mentions in the show and films, but it was a nice touch to see it on the screen – as was the mention of McCoy’s “all I have left are my bones,” which is a nod to his future nickname from Kirk.


There were things that I didn’t like – for instance, when Kirk goes to the Iowa shipyards and sees the ship being built, which I assumed in the film was the future Enterprise – if I’m right, then Abrams was wrong, since the Enterprise was built in the San Francisco shipyards orbiting Earth. I could go on, but let’s continue to the new movie.


From the beginning, everyone wanted to know who the villain would be, and there were many rumors flying around for many months. But there was one I was sure Abrams wouldn’t try to bring back: Khan. My reasoning? No idiot would bring back a character who: A) already had his own movie, which was a sequel to the original show episode and one of the best films in my opinion; and, B) was played by the fabulous and irreplaceable Ricardo Montalban (honestly, that would be like trying to replace Chuck Norris as ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’). I felt that if Abrams did this, he would piss off fans from the original series and films. As a child who was raised watching TOS & NG and their movies, I could appreciate that Abrams kept the passion and story and film of the original when doing the reboot the first time around. It was, I think, a tribute to Roddenberry’s genius.


The only thing Abrams did right was the alternate timeline. After all, that’s really the only way to reboot a beloved series while not pissing off fans by simply remaking it. Plus, Hollywood has done way too many remakes lately – largely because I think they don’t have any writers out there who can come up with anything original (they don’t have me :D ). (one prime example – Superman Returns. Terrible. So what does Hollywood do? Try to reboot it again with Man of Steel out later this year I believe).


The alternate time line gives Abrams the opportunity to create whole new stories, whole new characters, and whole new alien races while keeping the heart and soul of Roddenberry’s dream true. Yes, I think it would be nice to see a cameo of a favorite from the original show/movies, just for kicks for us “old” fans – there were many times my dad and I laughed during the reboot while the rest of the audience didn’t, simply because we got the ‘inside joke’. With this opportunity, I was sure Abrams would stay away from returning with Khan in his sequel because there are so many new things to explore (pun intended).


However, I’ll admit that while I’m excited to see what the “continuing story” is going to be, I’m also nervous too. Even more now that I’ve seen the international trailer for the film – ask my co-workers how much I ranted about the first trailer.


I have a feeling my attitude towards this film will rest with Benedict Cumberbatch – our villain for the film. Now, as an actor I thoroughly enjoy Cumberbatch in all the roles I’ve seen him in, especially as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’. I think he’ll make an excellent villain. But it’s how the character is written that I’m worried about. We’ve been told he will play John Harrison, someone who Cumberbatch has described as “an awesome single-handed weapon of mass destruction but also a master mind-player and manipulator who plays with {Kirk and Spock} roles and loyalties and understanding of what's right and wrong.” However, this isn’t a ‘new character’ in the Trekverse. Harrison made an appearance in the Trekverse in the episode ‘Space Seed’ – the same episode that introduced us to Khan (ironic, no?). He played a Starfleet officer who nearly died during the bridge suffixation scene.


So I suppose it’s entirely possible that Abrams has taken the idea of Khan the ‘super soldier’ and instead of Khan listed a minor character and given him the same possible characteristics of him as a ‘new villain’ for this new film. After all, from what I’ve discovered, it seems as though the villain is somehow connected to Starfleet – so a former officer who has gone nuts? (ironically, in TOS, the character of Harrison could be seen in all three colors of uniform – so maybe he has multiple personalities?) This idea could take some more reflection on my part.


Now, with that said, I’m still not 100% convinced that ‘John Harrison’ is the villain – it’s entirely possible that Abrams is screwing with us and the character is more “widely known” by a different name. Khan, Gary Mitchell, Harry Mudd – all of these names and more have been churning in the rumor mill. Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy) was even recorded as saying the villain’s name was Gary Mitchell. Many people still think Khan is the top pick, for a few reasons – the Harrison character has, as I’ve mentioned before, was mentioned in the same episode as Khan. Another reason I was recently illuminated to was the introduction of Dr. Carol Marcus (in the original timeline was the mother of Kirk’s only child), who made her first introduction in ST II: Wrath of Khan. Khan = Marcus, Marcus = Khan. A third reason is the short shot of two hands touching with a plain of glass between them in the first U.S. trailer – could this be a reference to when Spock dies and Kirk can only watch from behind the glass. Yes, this was in ST II: Wrath of Khan.

 

Then again, these three reasons could very well point to my belief that Abrams would be stupid to resurrect Khan as the villain. We won’t know for sure until the movie is out, but if Abrams knows what is good for him, he’ll back off on using ‘older characters’ and do something completely new. My idea for the sequel after watching the reboot 3 years ago? I’ll let you in on a hint – it dealt with the creation of the Borg.


We’ll just wait and see – but until then, Abrams will consistently piss me off if he keeps showing things I don’t wanna see in the trailers.


Bonus – here are more things I’ve seen in the trailers that raise my eye brows:


1) Chekov is wearing a red shirt in the international trailer? Does that mean he’s not the ship’s navigator? WTF? Doesn’t Abrams know that red shirts – minus Uhura and Scotty always die? I mean, didn’t he watch any of those original episodes? The one in red always died on the planet.


2) Admiral Pike is, I believe, standing when he’s talking to Kirk when we last saw him in a wheelchair at the end of the last film – was the chair a temporary thing? Must be…too bad. I thought Abrams was giving a nod to the original character of Pike who spent his life in a wheelchair after an accident…


3) The Enterprise is able to go underwater like a submarine? I got this from the 9 minute showing of the film preview that was shown in theaters before The Hobbit in 3D IMAX. I have a feeling the original Scotty would have had problems with this scenario. Plus, that just can’t be good, making something that flies through space – aka nothing – float in water like a sub. Don’t think they have enough WD-40 to get the rust off.


4) Carol Marcus is now a M.D. in Starfleet and not a civilian micro-biologist? Okay, maybe I can allow this, since I personally had other plans for that character in my own story plot for the sequel that I came up with in 2009.


5) Who dies? Spock again? What do you think the short shot of two hands touching each other via glass like at the end of ST II: Wrath of Khan? Would they really be dumb enough to kill off Spock again? Or would they kill off another character? But then…we don’t have a Genesis Project to bring said character back to life – especially if Carol Marcus is simply a MD.


Feel free to leave your own ideas and comments of the new film below.

 


 

Happy Valentine's Day - 10 Romantic Films

Posted by Jennifer McCoy on February 13, 2013 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (2)

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and unless you’re Dr. Sheldon Cooper or anti-love in any way, most likely you’ll probably be a witness to a romantic movie – or two. I know myself via overhearing TV commercials that several channels like Lifetime and Hallmark are planning on Valentine marathons for viewers and after checking my email today and seeing E! Online’s list of 10 best romantic films, I thought I’d use that list and see if I agree with them…or not. So here are the 10 top romantic films in my opinion:

To see the E! Online list, click here: http://www.eonline.com/photos/7746/the-10-best-romance-movies

10. Wall-E
Yes, an animated film makes the cut – why? Because it’s a love story that contains hardly any dialogue; a lonely robot finds that he’s not really alone; and despite everything that happens, the base of love can’t be destroyed, even with Eve’s computer memory loss. Apart from that, it’s a great family story which will have everyone saying ‘Wallllll-eeeeee’ around the house!

9. The Notebook
I surprised myself by putting this film on the list, but my reasoning was simple: the over-all story is yes, a love story about two young people and how they met, fell in love, were torn apart and ended up together, but it’s the bookend story that really gets me in tears. Now an elderly couple, Noah continually visits Allie, who has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t remember him. Every chance he gets he reads their love story, something she wrote years before in hopes that she’ll remember their love and ‘come back to him’. In the end, they die side by side. Honestly, what is more romantic than that?

8. When Harry Met Sally
Usually, when people say this movie’s title, all they can remember is Meg Ryan’s ‘orgasm’ scene at the diner and the woman saying “I’ll have what she’s having”. But, there’s more truth to the story for a lot of people. For many couples, they started out as friends, but the timing for anything romantic was off and they just had to wait – or like in Harry and Sally’s case, they just didn’t admit the fact that they like the other romantically. Still, it’s a wonderful romance that will also have you rolling in laughter.

7. While You Were Sleeping
This is one of my favorite movies and honestly, I couldn’t really tell you why. I love Sandra Bullock, and to see her in one of her earlier roles always puts a smile on my face. And Bill Pullman is so cute as well, with his floppy hairstyle that just lends to his adorableness. However, I don’t know if I’d recommend pretending to be a coma patient’s fiancée while falling in love with his brother. FYI – my favorite scene contains a bike, paperboy, and ice :lol:

6-4. Pride & Prejudice BBC mini series (not the Keira Knightley film), Sense & Sensibility (1995’s Emma Thompson pinned), Persuasion (2007 BBC film)
Okay, I know I shouldn’t let movies tie, but I can’t help it. Every time I watch these movies (or read the matching books), their rank always gets moved around. Now, if Austen had written one book with all these themes combined, it’d completely be my number 1.

 One can’t go wrong with the classic story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. A woman who isn’t going to marry simply because it’s what women did back in the early 1800s and a man who knows he shouldn’t look at women ‘below’ his station because of society “rules”, it just isn’t done. After misunderstandings and overcoming prejudices, Darcy pays the ultimate love act by helping Lizzy out of a family crisis which would ruin her chances of ever marrying, let alone surviving society. Eventually she figures out she loves him and all ends happy. (not to mention women across the world end up happy and drooling over Colin Firth and his ‘pond diving’ scene)

Of course, S&S deals with one sister behaving as she believes a woman should while her younger sister throws caution to the wind. Both end up hurt, but learn some sense through their experiences and in the end, everyone ends up finding love. Plus how can I not love Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon?

And finally, why can’t everyone get a second chance at love? In Persuasion, Anne Elliot has the second chance to make right a wrong she did 8 years prior when she called off her engagement to the only man she loved, Navy sailor (and now Captain) Wentworth. Of course, Capt. Wentworth remembers the pain he suffered when Anne turned him down and tries to have nothing to do with her. But unseen circumstances throw them together and they learn that both still love each other and Anne won’t let anyone persuade her otherwise anymore.

3. The Princess Bride
I have a magnet which pretty much sums it up – she gets kidnapped, he gets killed, but it all ends up okay. The ultimate love story that left us with “As you wish” and “This is true love. Do you think it happens everyday?”. Buttercup and Wesley’s story shows that no matter how crazy life is, as long as one has love, one can survive anything, even death.

2. North & South
Okay, there is only one reason why this isn’t my number 1 romantic film, but that’ll be explained in my number 1 spot. A recent discovery of mine, though I have no idea how I didn’t see it earlier, N&S tells the story about two people who come from different worlds but are drawn together with love. Of course, they don’t get together until the end, however like many stories the audience sees John Thornton and Margaret Hale falling in love before they themselves know it. But what makes this one of my tops is that it contains the most (I think) romantic line ever (and it doesn’t hurt that it’s delivered by a so lovely Richard Armitage): “Look back. Look back at me.”  (see earlier entry on this movie)

1. Love Actually
Okay, the reason this movie beats out North & South is because it’s one of the few movies that actually deals with the ‘ugly’ truth about love – that it doesn’t always last. Sure, there is an all-star British cast in the film and it’s written by one of my favorite Brit writers Richard Curtis, but the fact that the film is a collection of shorter love stories that intermingle with characters (example A is married to B, and B works with C who is in love with D though D is engaged to E, etc). And the best part is, not everyone ends up together in the end! Wow, it’s just like real life! As much as we want love to work out, sometimes it’s best just to leave it be and move on.

So there are my top 10 romance films for this Valentine’s Day. Of course, if you’re not in the mood for romance this Feb 14th, create your own anti-love list and post it in the comments for others to enjoy!


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