Samuel L. Jackson

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Movie Review: Turbo

Published July 23, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the Voices of: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Samuel L. Jackson, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes.

Honestly, Ross & I were not expecting too much from this one, but Ethan was intrigued when we peeped previews before Despicable Me 2.  The premise didn’t really appeal to either of us.  Snail wants to be fast, snail becomes fast, snail competes at Indy 500.  It’s a unique concept, but centered around things I’m not very interested in.  However, it surprised me to some extent and ended up surpassing my expectations.  The story had an encouraging and uplifting message: Follow your dreams.  But the message was delivered with a noticeable lack of laughs and the final result was underwhelming.  The tale begins in a garage bordering a lush garden of red, ripe tomatoes.  Our main character “Turbo”, or as his snail kin call him, Theo, is watching car racing on a small television.  He has a race track set up and he is working on improving his lap time of 2 minutes, while playing out his ‘speedy’ fantasy.  His brother instructs him to get some rest for a big day of work that’s ahead of them.  The snails travel in force, but slowly, toward the garden where they harvest the fresh tomatoes and send the duds hurtling toward “Turbo”, who is having a difficult time dodging the fleshy, large orbs.  He vocally daydreams about racing as he completes his daily tasks and the other snails castigate him for what they believe to be a fruitless dream.  But can we blame them…he is a snail – one of the quintessential slow creatures of the Earth.

Snail ends up falling on drag racing car, gets dose of nitrous, becomes super fast.  Turbo was mildly better than I expected, but still very mediocre.  And as Maria pointed out, seriously lacking in the humor department.  Ethan seemed to like it which is the most important thing really.  I’ve made this point before, the bar has been set so high for animated films that when you see one that is not spectacular, it is a major disappointment.  That being said, even though Turbo was an average offering, I was okay with it because my expectations weren’t very high going in.  My favorite part of the movie was Turbo’s sidekick snails which included Samuel L., Snoop and Maya Rudolph (think Lightning McQueen’s pit crew).  Michael Pena as Tito, Turbo’s manager of sorts, was okay as well.  Just a mostly forgettable hour and a half, but not so bad you want to demand your money back.  If it’s a rainy day and you literally have nothing else to do with the kids, maybe point the car toward your local theater.  Maybe.  But you know, bowling can be fun too.

The bar is really up there, so it’s understandable when one of these kids movies doesn’t make the cut as one of the elite.  With so many classics in the rearview mirror, the more recent stuff starts to blend together.  The theme of this film echoed that of many other animated features, but without the clever writing and entertainment.  Perhaps if I were a die hard car racing fan I would have found the plot more enticing.  It felt like a convoluted concoction of Epic, Cars and Antz all mixed up into one picture.  Turbo was good for a few smiles and for entertaining Ethan throughout the afternoon.  He enjoyed himself and as Ross said, that’s what really matters.  If I were you, I’d skip the theatre on this one and wait for the DVD release.  You’ll save some cash and your precious time.

Actually, I have another ideaGo see Despicable Me 2 again, that movie is awesome!  Hey, if you love auto racing, Turbo is worth a watch.  Also, figuring out who the voices are is a fun game, I nailed Richard Jenkins in this one, a decent snipe.  And if you are into motorsports, keep a sharp ear to see if you can ferret out Mario Andretti and Dario Franchitti.  Or you could take Maria’s advice, wait for video.

Maria’s Rating:  2 Gummy Bears out 5.

Ross’ Rating:  2.5 Gummies.

Movie Review: Jurassic Park 3-D

Published April 18, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sir Richard Attenborough, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight, BD Wong, Bob Peck, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello, Martin Ferrero.

Rated: PG-13.  Sci-Fi/Adventure.  Running Time: 2 hours 7 minutes.

Another blatant money grab?  Absolutely.  But who cares!  Maria and I took Ethan to his first PG-13 movie (he’s almost 10).  He was a trooper and what a great movie to cut your teeth on, one of the all-time greats.  I’ve seen the movie numerous times over the years, but watching it again on the big screen was fantastic!  The 3-D was mostly useless, but we were in an IMAX theater, and the overall experience couldn’t have been better.  Jurassic Park was certainly not showing its age.  At twenty years old, it still felt like a new release.  One could forget what a cutting edge film it really was, it basically started the CGI age.  Beyond that it’s just a really great story, presented to us by the finest director of my lifetime, Steven Spielberg.  I’m sure that everyone knows the plot, so no need to recap.  It’s the indelible images that stay with us forever.  Laura Dern elbow deep in Triceratops poop.  The “blood sucking lawyer” (Ferrero) bitten in half right off the toilet.  The T-Rex chasing the Jeep as Goldblum and Dern bellow out some awesome screams.  Timmy (Mazzello) getting blown off the electric fence, “three.”  The car chasing Tim and Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) down that tree!  Even if you’ve seen it a million times it keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Then there are the unforgettable lines (Goldblum has most of the best ones):  “Must move faster!”, “You are eventually planning to have dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour?”, “Hold onto your butts.”, “We’ve spared no expense”, “Life found a way.”, “You know what that is?  That’s an impact tremor.”  It sure as shit is, and you may want to get the hell out of there before you get eaten!

My favorite Goldblum line: “Remind me to thank John for a lovely weekend.”  I was mostly excited to see this on behalf of Ethan and his rite of passage into PG-13, but also a little amped myself for a T-Rex’s huge dome in my face.  I had some big expectations and Jurassic Park did not disappoint.  I’ve always loved dinosaurs and I remember the first time I saw this ’90’s classic.  I didn’t get to see it in the theatre and the premise was a bit over my head at the time, but the visuals were still vividly spectacular.  I can’t recall exactly how old I was, but I remember being impressed by the movie magic I was witnessing.  It was an honest thrill to get the chance to see it in an IMAX theatre.  Although, I thought they would have used the 3D with more vigor.  However, Ross made an excellent point that perhaps the cameras it was first filmed with are not compatible with today’s technology.  The T-Rex, incredible.  The Velociraptors, amazing.  The Brontosaurus’, magnificent & my personal favorite.  It will always be the Brontosaurus to me…

…I don’t care what the scientists and history books say.

I loved dinosaurs as a kid.  I even sent away for these free booklets on them from the Rex Trailer Show for my whole class, when I was in first grade.  Recently read an article in EW about the 20th anniversary release of Jurassic Park, and apparently Spielberg was a dino fanatic too.  He can also get you squirming in your seat with fear, anticipation and delight, all at the same time.  He did this to me for the first time with his directorial debut, 1971’s Duel.  I’m not sure if many of you have had the opportunity to see this one, but if you ever get the chance, watch it.  Preferably at night, alone.  A somewhat dated story of a travelling salesman played by Dennis Weaver (best known as McCloud) who is terrorized on the back roads of America by a semi-truck driver who is trying to run him off the road, or just plain run him over.  This was far before the age of cell phones, so the story wouldn’t work today, but take yourself back, and this is a terrifying tale.  The kicker?  You never see the truckers face.  His booted feet once, but nothing else.  Just that ominous, almost living truck, ever gaining and loud, filling up the rearview mirror.  This was a harbinger of things to come from Spielberg.   I won’t attempt to list even a portion of the true classic entertainment this man has brought us, but who else could have turned a movie with a broken mechanical shark, into the iconic Jaws phenomenon that swept the World.  Did you know that you don’t see the shark in it’s menacing, monstrous entirety until 90 minutes into that movie??  A movie 128 minutes long!  That is genius…the genius that is Spielberg.  Thank you Steven, for EVERYTHING.  As far as Jurassic Park goes, at the very end Dr. Grant, following his numerous brushes with death, tells Richard Attenborough’s character:  “John, after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse your park.”  I certainly don’t blame the good doctor, but I can’t concur.  I think the Park is spectacular and here to stay.  Hey, “there are people dying out there!” 

Jurassic Park has still got it – even after 20 years.  And it always will.  If you’re a fan, go treat yourself.  It truly was worth the price of admission to see this on the big screen.  And bringing Ethan with us was a trip.  During one part of the movie he looks over at me and goes, “Hey, are all the scary parts done?”  I honestly couldn’t remember, so I said, “I think so.”  Within the next minute, a Velociraptor erupts on the screen – only inches away from Dern’s throat.  He almost jumped across the theatre, but he took it in stride.  Of course, I got the blame for not knowing the full sequence of a 127 minute movie!  We had a lot of fun, to say the least.  The only thing I was feeling nostalgic for were the old prices.  Between tickets, snacks and parking we spent over $60.00!!  Chew on that number for a while.

Ross’ Rating:  5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummies.

Movie Review: Django Unchained

Published January 11, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring:  Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington.

Rated: R.  Action/Drama/Western.  Running Time: 2 hours 45 minutes.

Hi all, we’re back.  Hope everyone had a great holiday and rang in the New Year with gusto.  We certainly did.  Let’s get back in the swing.  For a guy who has only directed 8 movies, Quentin Tarantino has an amazing body of work.  Maria is a HUGE fan of his, she especiallly likes the Kill Bill’s.  I’m a fan, but not of her caliber.  I recognize his genius, appreciate his love of movies, admire his rise from video store clerk and his unique style is obviously unmistakeable.  Django Unchained is his best movie since Pulp Fiction in my humble opinion.  The story of a slave, Django (Foxx) who is sold and separated from his wife Broomhilda (Washington) as punishment for their attempt to run away.  Django meets and joins a bounty hunter named Dr. King Shultz (portrayed by the always fantastic Waltz, a Tarantino favorite from Inglorious Basterds).  Shultz needs Django’s help to identify three fugitives, but along the way he also mentors him, and ultimately the two become real friends.  They formulate a plan together to rescue Broomhilda.  If you go expecting to see Tarantino’s trademark blood and guts, you certainly will not be disappointed.  The film is not for the squeamish, but the story is so good, and the bad guys are soooo bad that it just doesn’t seem that gory.

It’s one of Tarantino’s signature tricks – he creates such heinous human beings that no one minds watching them die horrible deaths.  He is also masterful at building suspense by focusing on minor details.  Perhaps this is why his movies are notorious for having long running times.  He focuses on certain shots which have no pertinence to the story, such as the scene from Django when Waltz is pouring two draft beers at a saloon for himself and his new acquaintance.  But these types of scenes are what define Tarantino’s style as a director and make his movies so enjoyable.  I believe his style has matured over the years.  As I recall his earlier films such as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, they seem so different and yet very much the same.  His movies always scream his name as you watch them, but the more recent films have evolved into more than that.  More than his signature bloody violence and titillating twisted tales. This is especially true of Django and his latest film prior to that, Inglorious Basterds.  Recently it seems Tarantino has adopted a fearless approach to historical storytelling.  I’ve heard Basterds referred to as a “Jewish Fairytale”, which I found rather comical.  If that’s so, than Django is definitely the quintessential “Black Fairytale”.  He tells the story with such attractive characters and dynamic dialogue laced with glimpses of humor.  Just the right amount of humor to be thought of as acceptable pertaining to the very serious subjects he’s discussing.  As you can tell, he is one of my favorite directors, but I don’t have much to say about his personality in real life.  His movies are great, but listening to the man speak in an interview makes me wonder where he stores all his creative genius.  In his defense, I’ve never sat down and had coffee with the dude, so I don’t really know him at all.  However, I will say that his movies seem to get better and better.  Django may be my new favorite, but I can’t give it Kill Bill’s coveted number one spot just yet.

Wow, that is one eloquently written paragraph!  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see who the brains of this operation is.  Django Unchained is 2 hours and 45 minutes long and I didn’t notice.  I’d have to think that is a pretty good endorsement of the movie in itself.  Maybe the best acted film I’ve seen from top to bottom also.   The chemistry between Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz is fabulous, and DiCaprio’s deliciously evil turn as the merciless plantation and slave owner Candie, alone is worth the price of admission.  Samuel L. Jackson’s Stephen, had to be difficult to play as he is one kiss ass, Uncle Tom son of a bitch.  Samuel L. bravely dove right into the character and it’s hard to imagine anyone else pulling it off.  One final note, without really spoiling anything, Tarantino has a bit of fun with us with the actor James Remar.  Remar is a longtime favorite of mine .  He played one of the best bad guys of all time, Ganz, in 1982’s 48 Hours, and currently can be seen portraying Dexter’s father on the Showtime hit.  When I saw his name in the opening credits, I was psyched, but then he dies in the very first scene.  I know he’s not the biggest name out there, but I was thinking he’d get more screen time than that.  Well Quentin took care of me, because James comes back to life as a different character later in the movie.  Thanks Mr. Tarantino for saving James Remar and for the terrifically entertaining Django Unchained!

I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  I would go out on a limb and say that Tarantino has never disappointed me.  He has shocked me, disturbed me and even rendered me speechless…but I’ve never gone to the theatre and walked out saying, “What the Hell was that?”  He consistently delivers an entertaining and stimulating piece of cinema.  He is also constantly pushing the envelope and fearlessly trying new things no one else has the courage to do.  For instance, the extremely candid nude scene featured in Django.  There has been tons of nudity in recent cinema, but none as brave as that of Django.  This scene features several camera angles through very precarious positions…I’ll let your imagination run wild with that one.  However, if you’re reading this I would imagine you’d be persuaded to give Django Unchained a shot.  Honestly, it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in quite a while.  And not a bad soundtrack either, which is another expectation of Tarantino fans.  Keep up the good work Q…still digging your style.

Ross’ Rating: 4.75 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 5 Gummies.