The four movies in this post are the last of the bunch I watched while on vacation over Thanksgiving (jeez, finally wrapping up this series at long last!). I decided to group them all together into a single post because they were all ones I’d seen (and thus reviewed) in the last year or two. Of the group, I think only Pan’shas a review on this blog — the rest would be in the Yahoo Group archives from back when I was sending out movie reviews to email subscribers.
I’ve been ranking the movies from my vacation on a scale of 1-9, with 9 being the worst movie we watched (Nextwith Nic Cage!), and 1 being the best. The numbers next to each movie’s title below represent their ranking numbers.
#5: Maximum Velocity (2003). This is another one of Phillip J. Roth’s movies, a writer/director/producer whose name we always keep an eye out for when renting sci-fi movies, because in our experience, if Roth was involved, the movie is much more likely to be good-bad instead of bad-bad (as a matter of fact, sometimes his low-budget movies are even better than big-budget films about the same subject — for example, Roth’s flick Deep Core, starring the ever-awesome Wil Wheaton and Craig Sheffer, kicked the wussy butt of Hollywood crapfest The Core). Of all the Roth movies we’ve seen, I think Maximum Velocity probably has the weakest science behind it, but it was still entertaining (both the first time we saw it, and this second time too). In this one, Dale Midkiffplays a climatologist, Dr. Briggs, who is part of an experimental weather-related project that goes terribly awry and ends up causing the death of his wife. A couple of years later, a terrible storm hits Earth, and scientists decide the only way to save the planet is to get that old project back out of the scrap heap and use it to alter the storm’s intensity and trajectory. But, can they convince the project’s original scientist, Dr. Briggs, to come back and help? It’s not brilliant, but it’s pretty fun, and fun is really the only criteria worth judging when watching low-budget sci-fi movies. Besides, I’ll watch Dale Midkiff do just about anything, as evidenced by the fact I’ve seen Flight of the Living Dead. Cast: Dale Midkiff, Michael Ironside, Wendy Carter. [Netflix me]
#3 The Day After Tomorrow (2004). Mom and I really enjoyed this movie the first time we saw it (right after it came out on DVD). So, when both of us caught a scene or two of it on television in early November, it really put us in the mood to see the whole thing again. Hence, rental. As I’m sure you guys know, this flick is about a massive storm brought on by global warming that suddenly rages out of control, launching a new ice age and essentially freezing to the core the entire Northern hemisphere. Struggling to survive the initial wave of the storm are a group of teenagers holed up in the New York City public library, while down in Washington DC, one of their fathers, a climatologist who had predicted the whole disaster, is attempting to walk his way through the blizzard to save his son. It’s your standard big-budget Hollywood flick, with lots of special effects and a fair helping of cheese (and also, I will confess, an extremely silly scene involving some wolves). But the science, though exaggerated, is actually not that far off track. So, yes, it’s a little on the hokey side (okay, okay, a LOT on the hokey side), but it’s still really fun to watch. See above, re: criteria. And, of course, it’s always nice seeing Jake Gyllenhaal play a kid who ISN’T a mopey grump. Way to break out of the mold, Jake! Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Emmy Rossum, Sela Ward, Ian Holm. [Netflix me]
#2 Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995). I had been planning to rent the NEW Die Hardmovie while I was on vacation, but as it turned out, my mom still hadn’t seen the third one. So, we rented it instead. I actually saw this movie in the theater — rare for me — and the reason I remember that is because on the drive home, my husband and I spent about ten minutes trying to figure out just how they solved that fountain problem in the movie. You know that scene where McClane (Bruce Willis) and his reluctant civilian partner Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson) get to a big fountain in a park and learn from the bad guy (Jeremy Irons) that they have to put exactly four gallons of water on a scale he’s left there in order to defuse the bomb stashed underneath it? He’s left them a 3 gallon jug and a 5 gallon jug and they have to somehow get exactly four gallons? In the movie, they sort of whip through the solution to this problem really quickly, and we hadn’t quite caught how they managed to do it, so we had worked out the solution ourselves in the car ride home, feeling extremely smart once we had it figgered out. Watching it this second time, I had forgotten our solution (that WAS 12 years ago, after all!) so we paused the movie right at that point and Mom and I worked it out together. Took us a solid few minutes, too, despite the fact that once you have the solution, it seems really obvious and you feel like an idiot for not having come up with it sooner! In any case, I love puzzles like that (in fact, I love logic puzzles so much I took the LSAT in college just so I could spend half a day working on them — nerd alert!). So, for that scene alone, this is a movie worth watching. But beyond that, it’s just a lot of fun. I love Jackson’s character — or, more accurately, I just plain love Jackson (I’ve often wanted to make him a Boyfriend of the Week and have the entire write-up simply consist of the word COOL in twelve-inch letters). And there’s a nice twist to the plot of this one as well. Recommended! Cast: Bruce Willis, Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson, and who cares who else after that? [Netflix me]
#1 Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). When I first reviewed this movie last June, I predicted it would be ranked at #1 on my annual top-ten list of favorite movies from the past year. After seeing it a second time, I not only predict that’ll happen, I knowit will (I’ve written the top-ten list for the movies — still working on books — and it should be going up on the Boyfriend site next week, so stay tuned!). I’m not going to bother describing it here, since I already wrote about it on this blog (see original review here!) and will be writing about it again for the Top Ten Movies list. Suffice it to say if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you are REALLY missing out on an incredible experience. Go rent this movie RIGHT NOW. Seriously. Right now. Go. I’ll wait. [Netflix me]
Okay, this wraps up the Thanksgiving Vacation Movie Fest! Coming up next, reviews of a couple of newly-on-DVD flicks I watched this week, plus the annual Top Ten Favorite Movies, Top Five Favorite Bad Movies, and Top Ten Favorite Books lists on the Boyfriend of the Weeksite. I also, incidentally, have the first Boyfriend for 2008 picked out — my hiatus from the Boyfriend site ends this January, so expect to start seeing a fresh crop of cute guys showing up in the new year! Woot!
p.s. You know what’s ironic? When you run the spellcheck here at WordPress, it highlights the word “blog” as a word it doesn’t recognize. For some reason, I’m amused by this.