North & South


The 80s were a pretty over the top time. Hair was big, the clothes were wacky, and primetime was flooded with soaps like Dallas and Dynasty.North and South was a mini-series that married the the melodrama of a soap opera with the epicness of a period piece. Starring 80s megastar Patrick Swayze and featuring cameos from legends like Elizabeth Taylor and James Stewart, it’s a really cheesy, fun way to learn about The Civil War.
Orry Main, the only son of a Southern plantation owner, meets the love of his life and his best friend on his way to West Point. While still in South Carolina, he helps a beautiful woman named Madeline who promises to write him while he’s away. When he reaches the North, he meets fellow cadet – George Hazard from Pennsylvania. Hazard bets a doubtful Main that he will graduate and together the two withstand the cruel hazing of drill master Corporal Bent. After graduation, the two fight together in the Mexican War and start a company together. However, as tensions grow across the nation, their conflicting political beliefs test their friendship again and again.
One of the things that stands out the most about North and South is that it’s fairly pro South. The film doesn’t choose a side but implies that the real issue was extremism from both parties. One of the series’ most frustrating characters is an abolitionist (George’s sister Virgilia played by Kirstie Alley) who does not care who she hurts in the name of the cause. However, the most evil characters are Southern. It’s a bit uncomfortable to see plantation owners that beat their slaves over any inconvenience, juxtaposed with others who treat their slaves like family. In one of the series’ more powerful scenes, George takes Orry on a tour of his family’s foundry and shows him the living quarters for the workers. Orry declares them worse than where his slaves live and George reminds him that his people always have the option of leave, but Orry asks him where are they supposed to go on with such low wages. It’s an interesting point and when you read about the working conditions during the Industrial Revolution, etc where these employers any more admirable that slave owner simply because they didn’t legally own their workers. Food for thought.
North and South is a little hard to recommend because you really have to be in the right mood for it. There are a lot of giggle inducing love scenes (Patrick Swayze is the oddest kisser in this, it’s enough to make me want to rewatch his other films just to insure this was just a fluke) and some of the villains are fairly cartoonish but with the right company, it’s easy to develop a North and South drinking game. It’s also fun to pick out all the familiar faces.There were three “seasons”, but the third edition was a last ditch effort to make some money off the franchise. Much of the original cast had to be written out or replaced and there’s a few plot twists that don’t make much sense, feel free to skip it since the first 2 parts are work fine without it.

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Breaking Bad Episode 507 – Say My Name

Walt, Jesse, and Mike meet Mike’s contact in the desert, Mike is prepared to let Walt take the lead. He tells them they are not getting the methylamine but he needs distribution. He says if they give up their cook, he’ll give them 35% of the profits. They laugh but Walt is the self-declared New York Yankees of the meth world. He knows they use food coloring to mock his meth but his purity ensures users will pay top dollar and he gets more out of each batch. He promises himself and Jesse as cooks and tells them he’s the man who killed Gus, and makes the men “Say My Name” as they realize he is Heisenberg. I really want to know just how small Walt’s dick is because, damn he gets off on that.
Jesse reminds Walt he retired too but Walt asks him to stay for the transitional stage and they’ll figure it all out later. Mike bids them adieu, warning them the DEA will sweep for the bug they planted so Walt better get it out of there quick. Jesse hopes to see Mike later on the other side but Mike is done and obviously doesn’t believe Jesse has escaped Walt’s control.
Walt brings Jesse to the car wash to pick up the methylamine. Jesse tries to play nice but Skyler continues to be cold. Skyler questions what Walt is hiding and wants to know who he needs to hide it from.
Mike’s lawyer friend butters up a bank worker with bacon banana cookies. She unlocks the safe deposit boxes and leaves him be. He unloads the legacy payments Mike paid off with his 5 million while leaving the remainder for Mike’s granddaughter’s fund. He meets Mike in the car who promises he’s done good.
Mike goes to the desert and listens to the bug on Hank for the last time before deposing of laptop and his guns. He then parks his car in the airport parking lot and plants something close before leaving. The police come to his home soon after to search his property.
Walt prepares for the next cook when Jesse arrives. Walt is eager to get started but Jesse wants to talk. Walt promises Jesse his own lab because he’s just as talented as Walt. Jesse reiterates that he wants out but Walt says he has the opportunity to be the best at something and he’s going to walk away from that for what? He reminds him he has nothing and no one in his life. He tells Jesse he can’t stop because of the boy they killed. He reminds Jesse that he’s killed too and if there’s a hell he’s all ready going so why quit now. Wow, great slaes technique, Walt. Jesse is tired of the killing and wants out. Walt tells him if he’s so above the killing, he wouldn’t want the blood money. Jesse walks away, saying he doesn’t need the money.
Gomez meets with Herb and tells him Mike’s trail has gone cold. He’s just another grandpa and none of the associates are making any moves. Herb finds it odd that one lawyer is representing the entire crew minus Mike and asks Gomez to trail him.
Walt has brought Todd into the cooking process despite his total lack of chemistry knowledge. He’s clearly overwhelmed and Walt is less than thrilled but likes that Todd isn’t looking for money until he masters Walt’s methods.
Gomez trails the lawyer straight to the safe deposit boxes and no amount of cake pops will get him out of this one.
Back at the house, Walt tries to make small talk with Skyler over his change in work partner’s but she walks away.
Walt runs to Hank’s office to cry about his marital problems, knowing Hank will jump at the chance in leave the office leaving Walt to snatch the bug. As Hank returns to the office, Gomez comes to tell Hank about catching the lawyer. Walt hears them celebrate how they are going to get Mike.
The lawyer calls Mike and asks to meet him to discuss the money, something has come up. Mike tells him he’s at the park and to come to him. Walt calls as soon as he gets off the phone and warns Mike that the lawyer flipped. Sure enough, cop cars pull up to the playground and for the first time ever Mike looks like a caged rat.
Walt and Jesse meet with Saul who can’t believe Mike would be so stupid. Saul is worried Mike will sell them all out. While Jesse ensures Mike won’t do that, but Walt doesn’t trust his nine associates. Mike calls and says he has an “out bag” at the airport but can’t get to it. Jesse volunteers but Mike won’t let him. Walt says he’ll do it and meets Mike in a secluded place. He tells Mike he’ll give him the bag for the names of his nine men. Mike tells him he needs to do like him and move on, but Walt says he can’t do that. Walt demands names but Mike feels he owes him nothing. Mike blames Walt for blowing everything up by killing Gus (PUN!). He goes to leave but Walt (overcome with hurt pride) shoots him with his own gun. He drives away and tries to escape via the nearby river but it’s too late. Walt catches up to him and tells him he screwed up, that he didn’t need the names from him, there could have been another way without another death but Mike tells him to let him die in peace. I’ll miss Mike, but everything was clearly heading in this direction. Mike and Walt’s partnership was destined to end with bloodshed.

Breaking Bad Episode 506: Buyout

Back from vacation. Many thanks to my brother for filling in for me!
The crew returns from the heist and destroys all evidence of their one witness. Even Walt seems unsettled by what they’ve done but Jesse does not take part in the process due to grief. After they are done, Todd (aka Landry from Friday Night Lights) tries to buddy up to Jesse, but Jesse responds by punching him in the face.
Todd tries to defend himself. Saying the boy was a threat and he took care of it. Jesse does not see his point of view. Walt asks him to leave so they could discuss what to do next. Jesse thinks Todd is a loose canon while Walt says Todd has a point and is in too deep to cut loose. He proposes they keep him involved in the operations but in a limited respect so they can keep an eye on him. The group agrees but Jesse is clearly unhappy with the decision. Mike lets him know he’s still in but there cannot be any similar instances.
Gomez and his partner are staking out Mike as he spends time with his granddaughter. They see him plant something by the trash can before leaving. They check it out and it’s Mike way of letting them know he’s on to them and he’s not pleased. At home Mike listens to Herb’s surveillance recording and hears Herb say they just have to wait for Mike to slip up. Mike knows this is true.
Marie admits Walter Jr is avoiding them but she wants to know how Skyler is doing but she breaks down, saying she needs the kids to be with Marie so they are safe. Skyler says if Marie knew the truth she would never forgive her and Marie lets her know she knows “the truth” about Ted. Skyler is not pleased.
While on a break from cooking Walt and Jesse see a news report about the boy they know Todd killed and how the search continues. Jesse feels awful for the parents but Walt promises they are finally able to run things their way and make sure no one else gets hurt. He assures Jesse he’s equally heartbroken about the kid but sends Jesse home. On the way out Jesse hears Walt whistling like he doesn’t have a care in the world, but then gets a phone call and plans a meeting with the caller.
Walt goes to deliver the batch and finds Mike alone with Jesse. Mike invites him to join them. Mike tells Walt about the DEA agents following him and Walt is not pleased he waited so long to tell them. Mike says he’s out. Walt agrees it’s for the best and that Jesse can take on the additional responsibilities but Jesse says he’s quitting too. Walt reminds Jesse of all the methylamine they just stole but Mike has a buyer for it. It’s a easy 5 million each, but the decision is up to Walt. Walt thinks Jesse is kissing a lot of money good-bye but Jesse doesn’t want to be involved with meth anymore and clearly hopes Walt could feel the same.
Mike and Jesse meet Mike’s contact in the desert. They arranged a test, one gallon so they can insure its quality. The contact wants a promise that the blue stuff is off the market and without that, there’s no deal. Back to the drawing board for Mike and Jesse.
Walt’s cell rings symbolically from under his Heisenberg hat. It’s Jesse who wants to meet. Walt plays hard to get and insists Jesse come to him. When Jesse arrives he tells Walt the contact won’t buy without his share. Jesse says he knows when they started they never dreamed of making 5 million off of meth but Walt insists he will not throw everything he’s built away. He tells Walt about Grey Matter and how he sold his shares early on and lost the potential to earn billions and he won’t do it again. This is a significant moment because it’s the first time he ever been really honest about his motives. He always hides before the lie of doing it all “for his family” but it is all about his pride and power. He tells Jesse he intends to build an empire. Skyler returns and Walt insists Jesse be their guest for dinner just because he like nothing more than making his puppets dance.
Jesse tries to be a polite guest by complimenting Skyler’s cooking but Skyler says it’s pre-made. Jesse tries to kill the silence by talking about the many disappointing frozen meals he’s had in his day. Oh, Jesse! He may be a drug dealer with a fondness for the word “Bitch!” but somebody clearly tried to teach him some manners. He changes the subject by telling Skyler how Walt brags about what she’s done with the car wash and she asks him if he also knows about her affair and leaves. Walt shares the sick truth about the state of his marriages and says the business is all he has. He won’t let Jesse take it from him. OOOOOOh boy!
Mike walks in on Walt clearly trying to steal the methylamine. Mike locks Walt in the office and informs his share his is being sold and there’s nothing Walt can do about it. The next morning, he ties Walt to the radiator as he tends to other business. Walt wastes no time looking for a way out. He destroys a nearby coffee pot and starts a small electrical fire to break his restraints. I swear, cockroaches and Walter White could survive the nuclear holocause.
Saul is at his sleazy lawyer best informs Hank and Gomez that their harassment is causing Mike distress and they are filing a restraining order against them. He ensures them that he knows a particular judge who doesn’t appreciate cops harassing senior citizen, leaving Hank and Gomez back at square one.
Mike returns and sees the methlomayne gone and puts a gun to Walt’s head. Jesse stops him from shooting, saying Walt has a plan where they all win. Suuuuuure.

Spaceballs

Often times we judge current movies more harshly than past films because they don’t have the nostalgia factor that makes us excuse their flaws. For example in The Dark Knight Rises people complained about Bruce Wayne sneaking back into Gotham undetected in the third act, but in Batman 1989 it’s totally ok for the bat plane to miss the Joker and point blank range and being brought down by one bullet. However for today’s satire movies the harsh criticisms are justified. Occasionally we get good ones like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but we’re also plagued with crap like Epic Movie, Date Movie, Disaster movie, etc. Hell, I didn’t even think Scary Movie was funny.
In the past we had great films by Jim Abrams and the Zucker brothers, but the master was Mel Brooks. In his movies he used satire to create great characters and story first and used jokes to complement them. In bad ones the story is an afterthought and the characters are just excuses to make jokes. They’re often direct cutouts that require you to see the movie to get the jokes, and the jokes themselves are lousy to begin with. For Mel Brooks you can enjoy his movies without seeing the movies they’re based on. Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein were probably more influential for the genre, but Spaceballs is in my opinion the flat out funniest movie he’s done, a satire parody of films like Star Trek, Aliens, but mostly Star Wars.
The characters are Great so let me run them off one by one, most reminiscent of Star Wars. Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) is a character who tries to make himself seem threatening, but deep down (under the helmet) he is a complete loser and when he’s reminded of that it’s priceless. Surprisingly there is no parody character of Luke Skywalker, but instead we have Lone Star (Bill Pullman) who is essentially Han Solo with some Force powers (or should I say Schwartz powers) so we get Han’s personality and Luke’s power so best of both worlds. The humor is subtle on him but he has his moments (he was an orphan abandoned somewhere in the Ford Galaxy.) Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) is a funny spoiled brat princess (the matched luggage and hair dryer gag get me every time) more a parody of fairy tale princess but there is some Leia in her. Dot Matrix looks like the love child of C-3PO and her voice actress Joan Rivers, almost none of 3PO’s personality is there but thank god. It’s just Joan Rivers being funny. Yogurt (Mel Brooks)is the Yoda of the film. He’s wise, merchandise savvy, and acts like everyone’s favorite grandpa. President Skroob (Mel Brooks again) is not really a parody of any character, but you could argue he’s the Palpatine of the movie. He’s a completely incompetent ruler, but has an empire at his command. My personal favorite of the main cast is Barf (Full name: Barfolomew) played by the eternally loveable John Candy. He like we all feel Candy was in real life is a lovable, loyal teddy bear. He’s the Chewbacca parody but rather than talking in growls he gets the best lines of the movie, this one line sums him up, “I’m a Mawg, Half Man/Half Dog. I’m my own best friend”.
To complement these characters are some of the most consistently strong jokes in any film. They range from subtle (“I’m trying to conduct a wedding which has nothing to do with love.”) to overt (a Beaming error leaves president Skroob with his heard on backwards), to grotesque (Pizza the Hutt!) to beautifully forced (Combing the desert). If you haven’t seen in here’s a hint of what’s in store.
Helmet: Careful you idiot! I said across her nose not up it!
Gunner with crossed eyes: Sorry Sir doing my best.
Helmet: Who made that man a gunner?
Major with crossed eyes: I did sir! He’s my cousin.
Helmet: Who is he?
Colonel Sanders: He’s an Asshole.
Helmet: I know that, what’s his name?
Sanders: That is his name. Asshole, Major Asshole.
Helmet: And his cousin?
Sanders: He’s an Asshole to Sir. Gunners mate first class Phillip Asshole.
Helmet: How many Assholes we got on this ship?
Everyone on the bridge: Yo!
Helmet: I knew it, I’m surrounded by Assholes.

And my personal favorite joke

Helmet: Before you die there’s something you need to know. I am your father’s, brother’s, nephew’s, cousin’s former roommate.
Lone Star: So what does that make us?
Helmet: Absolutely Nothing!

That’s just the tip of the ice berg, If you haven’t seen this movie yet go rent it a laugh your asshole off. One more note, I saw this movie BEFORE I saw Star Wars and I still thought it was hilarious. It’s that good. May the Schwartz be with you.

Fun Fact: At the diner near the end of the movie you can see the Millennium Falcon in the parking lot.

scribbled by Alex
http://www.youtube.com/user/MagicofAlexo
http://www.magicofalexo.com

Jurassic Park

Almost everybody has that one movie that leaves such an impact that it percolates into every aspect of their life and the degree to which I was obsessed with this movie is pathetic. To set the scene I was six years old and visiting my uncle. One night my dad took my sister to see “Rookie of the Year” and my Mom and uncle took me to see this movie. The screen was gigantic and the sound system was incredible. At the time I was already obsessed with dinosaurs and films such as the Ray Haryhaussan fair and monster movies like King Kong and Godzilla. Whenever I had seen dinosaurs in film they were either cartoons or action-figure looking stop motion puppets. The dinosaurs in this movie looked more real than I had ever seen. In my little six year old head these weren’t CGI models (oh how desensitized we’ve become) these were REAL dinosaurs. Already in awe I was not ready for the Tyrannosaurus. He ripped down the fence, let out that roar, and I ran screaming out of the theater….
With help from my Uncle I went back in, and ran out again when the Velociraptors came out….., then went back it again and this time stayed till the end of the movie. At the time it was the most intense movie I’d seen and still one of the best theater experiences of my life. Afterwards I couldn’t get enough. Christmas that year was dominated with the toys (all with the JP logo cause otherwise it’s extinct), I had the bedsheets, clothing, and even had a subscription to a Dinosaur magazine. I knew enough about them to know that in real life the Velociraptor stood only 3 feet tall. The real threats were Deinonychus at 6 feet and Utahraptor at 9 feet. Yeah I was a dork…
One question however is Nostalgia aside, does this movie still hold up? In my opinion yes it does. The story of man vs. nature combined with corporate greed is well done. The human characters while not the focus are interesting, especially Ian Malcolm. Yeah I know it’s just Jeff Goldblum playing himself, but dammit it’s the role he was born to play, if you don’t believe me read the book and try not to think of him. Love Sam Neil, Richard Attenborough, Laura Dern. The kid actors also do a good job, they’re the right level of obnoxious. No matter whose name came first in the credits the effects and the dinosaurs are the stars and even compared to today’s standards of CGI the dinosaurs look incredible. I would even say the T-Rex and the raptors look more real than most of today’s CGI characters, maybe it’s because we’re so use to it now but who knows. I think it was because they had to match the CGI with the animatronics and the CGI department really wanted to prove it could work so they worked extra hard. It was only until I saw it on Blu-ray did they look alittle cartoonish, but not much! They seemed to treat the dinosaurs almost as characters with ILM and the animatronics of the late Stan Winston playing the parts, and they perfectly act like real animals would. On top of it, it has one of the most awesome endings of any action movies. (Spoilers) It’s like the T-rex is showing the Raptors who’s boss, looks at the camera and saying to everyone in the theater “I’m the star of this movie, BITCH!” A movie that can have a T-rex break the fourth wall is fine by me. Yeah it’s a movie that stars the special effects but they’re really well done and have great story and character to complement them. It’s not Citizen Kane or Goodfellas but it’s not supposed to be. It’s just a damn fun action adventure movie, and it can tap into the 6 year old boy in us all (well almost all, can’t please everybody).
As for the sequels I’ll keep it short and sweet. I understand why a lot of people don’t like “The Lost World” but I’m part of the minority that likes it. Yes the characters and story are just an excuse to have dinosaurs to destroy stuff, but I like it. I actually like the invasion of San Diego at the end BECAUSE of how like Godzilla it is. It’s a guilty pleasure, what can I say?
Jurassic Park 3 flat out sucked. Yea the dinosaurs look great, but it insults our intelligence but asking us to believe that a satellite phone is capable of surviving being swallowed by a dinosaur, is loud enough to be heard inside it, rings at the right time for the characters to find each other due to it, gets shat out where the characters can retrieve it, rings right as they’re passing it, and has just enough juice to make one phone call… Also it kills off the T-Rex in favor of some finned Alligator no one cares about. You literally killed part of my childhood, Screw You!
As far as the rumors of a fourth movie in the works, Que Sera Sera. There’s always a chance to redeem it and they already ran it into the ground. If they’re gonna make it I’ll go see it, the six year old me won’t allow otherwise.
Fun Fact: Even though it’s called Jurassic Park, most of the Dinosaurs in the movie are from the Cretaceous period, Again….. Dork!

Scribbled by Alex
http://www.magicofalexo.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/MagicofAlexo

The Batman Movies

What got me into this. My short takes on all the theatrical Batman Movies.

Batman the Movie (1966)
Pros: It’s Campy
Cons: It’s Campy
In short. No point getting into specifics, It’s a 90 minute long episode of the 60s Television series. If you like the show you’ll like the movie, if not then you won’t.
Fun Fact: One of the many quirks of this series was Ceasar Romero’s refusal to shave his mustache for the role of the Joker, In fact you can see it through the make-up

Batman (1989)
Pros: Michael Keaton is a great Batman: unassuming, intimidating, and even subtle at times. The music is awesome, It seems as close to the original comics as you can get with a movie and even though I prefer other versions more Nicholson is a good Joker.
Cons: I like it at the beginning but towards the end it loses me. I actually owned it growing up yet I almost never watched it. To me the tone is a little off. At times it’s very serious but at others its too goofy and unrealistic. Plus I can’t tell what time period it’s supposed to take place in; The fashion and aestetics clash. Plus why Prince??????
In Short: I understand why comic fans and 80s junkies like it and at the time it was the best example of a comic book movie, but to me it hasn’t aged as well as it could. Good movie, just not my taste.

Fun Fact: Thanks to smooth negotiating deals with salary and box office, Jack Nicholson walked away with $50 million make him the highest paid actor for a movie. He held this record until 2011 when Johnny Depp collected $75 million for Pirates of the Caribbean 4.

Batman Returns (1992)

Pros: It’s a very Tim Burtony movie. It has a distinct and interesting visual style. Keaton’s great as always. Walken is fun to watch. The Penguin and Catwoman are fascinating to watch and the action is pretty good. Growing up it was actually my favorite Batman movie. I even scored some of the happy meal toys before McDonald’s cancelled it due to parents complaining. It doesn’t take itself as seriously as the last movie so when it dips into the silly comic book stuff it’s not as jarring. Plus it’s got penguins and penguins are cute.
Cons: It’s a VERY Tim Burtony movie, and he’s not exactly the guy you want to give total creative control to. While I tolerate the goofy stuff more it DOES go too far eventually and becomes depressing and weird. While interesting the Penguin becomes disgusting and unpleasant and Catwoman is a little annoying at times. Also parts of the story make no sense (would anybody really want the penguin to be mayor?) and the script is AWFUL at times (“mistletoe” and “ointment”)
In Short: While not technically good it’s very interesting and memorable. I don’t really recommend it to most and I understand why it alienated a lot of people. However if you’re a Tim Burton fan or like weird movies it might make a guilty pleasure. The refined adult in me is appalled by it, but the sick child in me loves it.

Fun Fact: Sean Young was originally cast as Vicky Vale, but a horseback riding accident left her unable to play the part. This time around feeling gypped out of what could have been her big break (In her mind) she wanted the role of Catwoman so badly she would dress up in costume and show up uninvited to the studio. It got so bad Tim Burton took to hiding under his desk to avoid speaking to her.

Batman Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

Including it here since it did have a Theatrical release (albeit a short one)
Pros: Great visual style. Kevin Conroy is awesome, Mark Hamill is awesome. Great Story with a pretty effective mystery to it. Does not pander to us. Treated us more like adults than some of the live action movies did.
Cons: It’s a cartoon so adults will laugh at you for liking it. I remember as a child thinking it was a little boring and grim. Also NO HARLEY QUINN! Will she EVER be in theatrical Batman film?!?!
In Short: It’s an under-appreciated little gem that is actually better than most of the live action theatrical films at the time. It’s a cartoon, but a really well-done cartoon.

Fun Fact: This is the only Batman film to get two thumbs up from Siskel and Ebert. Siskel gave thumbs down to Batman & Robin. Ebert gave Thumbs down to Batman, Batman Returns Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. However Gene Siskel stated that he didn’t like Mark Hamill as the Joker (Boo!).

Batman Forever (1995)

Pros: I loved this movie when I was a kid. It has a lot of good action scenes and its a very visually pleasing movie. Basically a bright a colorful neon light show. Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey are very entertaining to watch and it brings you on a fun ride of a story. It’s pretty much what we wanted in a comic book movie back then
Cons: As an adult I realized how pandering this movie is. The dilemmas are really dumbed down and symplified and everything else is exaggerated to the point of sillyness. While Carrey is funny (as pre-majestic carrey was) the Riddler really doesn’t have a character beyond his usual schick. Val Kilmer is dull as Batman, Kidman plays the world’s worst psychiatrist, O’Donnel is distractingly too old for the part of Robin in the story (Would social services and charities really bother with him?). I also realized that Jones as Two-Face is really derivative of Nicholson’s Joker. (The goofy schemes, the laughter, the henchmen, falling to his death, and killing Robin’s parents). Also where do the villains get all their stuff????? and Bat nipples….
In Short: The movie is like a cheap chocolate bar you got as a kid. At the time you loved it and now it would still hit the spot in a childish way, but when you had your first Godiva you realize how gypped you were. Entertaining but has nothing substantial in it.

Fun Fact: Ironically Christian Bale auditioned for the part of Robin in this movie.

Batman & Robin (1998)
Cons: As a serious entry this movie fails at everything. Everything bad about Batman forever is amplified. The scenarios are beyond ridiculous. The ice puns. All the actors know it’s bad and deal with it in their own way. Poison Ivy is annoying (I like Uma Thermon and i know she’s trying to have fun, but she’s awful in this), In another movie Clooney would’ve been a good choice but here he clearly doesn’t care, O’Donnel is a whiny brat, Bane is a joke. The action scenes are essentially like watching a toy commercial. Batman appearing in public at a sexist auction and whipping out a Bat credit Card….
Pros: As a spoof or parody it’s hilarious. Schwarzenegger is an enjoyable doofus. If you’re a fan of stuff like MS3K this is a great movie for riffing. It’s enjoyably bad crap. Also it was so spectacularly bad it forced the studio to abandon this sinking ship of a franchise and start from scratch.
In Short: The worst Batman movie. It’s bad, spectacularly bad and if that’s your thing this movie is ripe for the riffing.

Fun Fact: Had this film not failed at the box office there was another film set to be made called Batman Triumphant. Rumor had it the villains would have been The Scarecrow and Harley Quinn, however the same rumor stated they would be played by Howard Stern and Madonna…..

Batman Begins (2005)
Pros: It’s very realistic and believable. It accomplishes the near impossible task of making a movie about a man who dresses up as a bat and fights crime plausible. The training segments are awesome. It actually explains where he got those wonderful toys, Morgan Freeman made them! The cast is great. Love Cain, Freeman, Murphy, Neeson. Gary Oldman is PERFECT as Jim Gordon and even though Christian Bale isn’t my favorite Batman (It’s fun to mock, but I actually don’t mind the growl), but you can tell he REALLY cared about this part.
Cons: The first and second halves feel like completely different movies. The fight scenes are a disorienting mess (it’s intentional, but I don’t like it). The Scarecrow has a disappointing departure. Even though she’s not that bad, Katie Holmes does seem like the odd one out in terms of acting prowess. At times the dialogue is a bit pretentious at a time when the franchise didn’t have the right to be.
In Short: There are kinks to iron out, but the film proves to be one of the best and most realistic origin stories of any comic book hero and it provided a solid strong foundation to take story of Batman to incredible heights.

Fun Fact: The part of Alfred Pennyworth was offered to Anthony Hopkins who turned it down.

The Dark Knight (2008)
Pros: HEATH LEDGER!!! He gives one of the greatest performances of a villain in film history. Every time he’s on screen you can’t take your eyes off him, too many awesome moments to mention. You feel he’s not just playing a part, you feel he is this character. The design, voice, mannerisms, lines, and actions are all perfect for the Joker in this universe. Cain, Freeman, Bale, Eckhart and Oldman are all great. The action scenes learned their lesson from the last movie and are allowed to be awesome and coherent. Music is awesome. The story is intriguing and the moral dilemmas are valid and thought-provoking.
Cons: It might be a little too long and analytical for some and some of the nit-picky things from Batman Begins are still there. Gyllenhaal is just ok but still better than Holmes. A little sad watching when thinking about Ledger’s tragic death. He did such a good job and didn’t get to see the praise.
In Short: I am in love with this movie. The best Comic book movie in my opinion and even if you don’t like everything else about the movie Ledger has earned every bit of praise he got.

Fun Fact: The Joker’s face paint was reportedly designed by Heath Ledger himself, who used white clown makeup and cosmetics from a drugstore.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Pros: Christopher Nolan was smart enough to end his story of Batman with a bang instead of having it continue until people got sick of it. Bane is awesome and bad-ass. I actually liked Hathaway as Catwoman(even though they never call her Catwoman) more than I thought I would. Joseph Gordon Levit is a welcome addition to the ensemble. The action scenes and destruction scenes are incredible. It has some pretty effective twists. Christian Bale is at his best and it ties up the loose ends of the story with a satisfying resolution.
Cons: At times it’s hard to understand what’s going on. There’s a lot of story they’re trying to get through and it may take a second viewing to get it all. Some may not like Banes voice (Yes he does sound like a mix of Sean Connery and Darth Vader) along with Bale’s voice (I’ve just accepted this is how this Batman roles) A few things can be interpreted as plot holes or contradictions but I think any Nolan apologist (which I am) can rationalize it. No matter what it will be looked on as a step down from the last one. The most unfortunate of all is we’ll always be haunted by the tragic events in Colorado when viewing or remembering this film.
In Short: It’s not as good as the last one and it’s definitely nit-pickable, but to me it’s a great movie and a satisfying conclusion to a great series of films. Much better people than me have summed up the implications and lessons of the events associated with this film. All I have to say is RIP to everyone we lost and condolences to all loved ones.

Fun Fact: Anne Hathaway originally thought she was auditioning for the part of Harley Quinn.

Evening readers.

I’d like to introduce myself, I am not Amanda of Amandaloves movies, but rather Alex: Amanda’s brother who also loves movies. She’s currently on vacation and has very limited internet access so she asked me to take the wheel this week. I’ve decided to talk about 3 things this week, my favorite action movie, my favorite comedy, and my favorite super hero. Keep in mind like my sister I am a nerd to. Tomorrow I’ll start with what got me Shang haied into this in the first place. Her last review was of the Dark Knight Rises so I’ll start with my mini reviews or all nine theatrically release Batman movies. See you later, hope you enjoy.

The Dark Knight Rises

I think anyone would agree that The Dark Knight was a tough act to follow. Nolan’s revamp of the classic superhero series is a stand-out of the genre and Heath Ledger received almost universal praise (and a posthumous Oscar) for his portrayal of the Joker. With Ledger’s passing, it raised the stakes even more. While Batman has faced countless villians in the comics and other incarnations, many are much too campy for Nolan’s vision, so he went with the lesser known but very brutal Bane (Tom Hardy), but to keep the masses happy, he threw in Anne Hathaway in a catsuit.
It’s been eight years since Harvey Dent’s and the public was told he was murder by Batman and only Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Bruce Wayne (aka Batman – Christian Bale) know the truth. Harvey Dent Day is a local holiday in Gotham, and Gordon’s life is falling apart due to the guilt. Wayne lives in a self-imposed exile somewhat crippled from injuries he endured as Batman. He encounters Catwoman (though she is never called Catwoman) as she steals his mother’s pearls and his fingerprints from his supposedly uncrackable safe. Meanwhile, Bane, a former member of the League of Shadows, is building an army in the sewers of Gotham. This is enough to convince Wayne to bring Batman back, much to the dismay of his butler and confidant Alfred (Michael Caine). After a showdown with Bane, Wayne finds himself in a legendary prison known as the pit, a hellish place that only one man, Bane, has escaped. He must return to form and return to Gotham, which has been taken over by Bane and other criminals and is facing a nuclear holocaust.
And now for the SPOILERS!!!!
As you can see this film has a lot of plot and not all of it makes complete sense. The biggest “Huh?” moment for me is when Bane hacks into the stock market and bankrupts Bruce Wayne. It was very well known that Bane held the stock exchange hostage that very day, so why isn’t this investigated more? Also, I also don’t know if I believed the big twist that Miranda (Marion Cotillard) was really Thalia Ghul’s daughter who was in cahoots with Bane to destroy Gotham. This was a surprising reveal, but it seems like a twist for the sake of a twist. I didn’t like this for two reasons: 1) I don’t believe Cotillard knows she’s Ghul in the earlier parts of the film. If you want to see an awesome twist, go watch Fight Club. When you rewatch it, you see the tightrope Helena Bonham Carter had to walk as Marla. This does not exist with Cotillard. She’s Miranda and then, suddenly, she’s Thalia. I’ve spoken about this with a fan of the Frank Black comics, where Thalia Ghul is a much bigger deal, so it was cool for him, but it fell flat for me. 2) It weakens the presence of Bane. As Thalia tells Batman her plan, Bane looks down on her like a puppy dog. This brutal monster, the one that escaped The Pit, the one who could bring Batman down, is some puppet on a string?
While it wasn’t as good as The Dark Knight, I didn’t expect it to be. That said, Hathaway is a lot of fun as Catwoman. Caine is heartbreaking as Alfred says good-bye to the boy he promised to protect. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great as John Blake and really shaping up to be one of the most interesting actors of his generation. I wish we could get some Robin movies, especially since I’ve never been blown away by Bale’s Batman. Like the return of scarecrow as head of the kangaroo court, though if Ledger was alive, that would have totally been Joker’s role. Nolan is smart to gather so many top-notch actors (the cast includes four Oscar winners) because the performances keep you from noticing the plot holes, weaker spots, etc.
Overall a satisfying end to the series. Gives the audience a clear ending, while making them wish there was more to come.

Programming note: Will be out of town next week so my brother will be guest blogging for me.

Breaking Bad 505- Along Came a Spider

A boy rides a rusty motorbike through the desert. He stops and approaches a tarantula. He picks it up and put it in a jar. He hopes back on his bike and it’s really unclear what this is going to lead to.
Walt visits Hank at his new office. Hank notices Walt’s new watch, a sort of birthday present for himself. Hank congratulates him on treating himself after the last year. Walt says Skyler has returned to work but people will be keeping an eye on her and she’s found a doctor. He thanks Hank for watching the kids and wants to stop by for a visit. He confesses that Skyler doesn’t love him anymore and thinks he’s a bad influence on the kids. Interesting tactic, telling the truth – to a point. That way if Skyler tries to discuss it with them, they already know “the whole story”. Hank doesn’t understand where Skyler is coming from. Hank goes to get Walt some coffee and Walt plants a bug in a picture frame and something on his computer that will most likely allow Walt to see what Hank does on his computer.
Lydia has been brought to a basement for one more chance to redeem herself. She is to call Hank and read from a script. Any funny stuff and she’s dead. She does as she’s told and tells him about the tracker she found. Hank doesn’t seem to know what she’s talking about but tells her to put the barrel aside and he’ll check it out. This conversation is used as an opportunity to test the bug. It seems the DEA had nothing to do with the tracker and now that Hank knows about it, she’s useless to them. Mike and Walt agree she must be done away with but Jesse believes her and her innocent is confirmed when they overhear Hank talking to the FBI who was responsible for the tracker. In a last ditch effort to save her life she tells them she can get them all the methylamine they could ever dream of. She wants Walt to promise on his children’s lives that they won’t kill her after she helps them. She shows them the route of a freight train carrying methylamine. There is a dead zone in the route where help could not be reach during a burglary. Mike thinks it’s too risky. Lydia gets lippy, questioning how professional the crew could be. This chick! I really have trouble believing she ever was useful. She’s so nervous and such a loose cannon, how could Gus have relied on her?
Hank is enjoying having the kids over but Walter Jr (or possibly Flynn again) isn’t adjusting well and is isolating himself from the family. Poor Walter Jr. He is going to be such a messed up adult at this rate. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets into drugs at this rate. Possible series ender – Walter Jr ODs on Walt’s meth.
Mike and Walt are fighting again over operations. Mike wants to cook without the methylamine and while Walt wants to rob the train Lydia spoke of. Nothing gets the gears turning in Jesse’s head like Mike and Walt fighting, and he thinks they could find a way to steal the methylamine without anyone knowing it was taken.
Walt’s got his Heisenberg hat on and the crew is scoping out the dead zone Lydia has told them about. Jesee picks a sweet spot and the plan goes into action. With the help of a few of Mike’s connections, they dig a hole and bury two tanks, one for methylamine , one for water. Jesse’s idea is to swap the methylamine out for water so the weight of load doesn’t change. They won’t be stealing all the methylamine , so when the deluded shipment is discovered, they will blame the Chinese.
Back home Flynn(?) is refusing to stay with Hank and Marie and wants answers. Walt tells him he is the child and he will listen to his parents and it’s back to Hank and Marie’s house he goes. Skyler wants the kids out of the house indefinitely, pointing out that Walt’s getting guns held to his head and doesn’t see that as a problem. If Walt can agree to that, she will commit herself to helping him however he wants. He begrudgingly accepts and informs her she is to tell everyone she is seeing a counselor named Peter but let’s her choose the last name. What a great guy, letting her name her fake therapist.
Lydia calls Mike to start the plan in motion. Mike watches as their decoy truck stops, pretending to be broken down on the tracks. The train approaches and stops when they see the driver. Once the train has stopped, Walt, Jesse, and their helper set up hoses to drain the methylamine while adding the water. The driver of the “broken down” truck stalls with the engineers as Mike communicates to Walt about how things are going. Everything is going smoothly until another driver approaches and offers to help. Mike tells Walt to pull the plug but Walt is too greedy to play it safe and says the job isn’t done yet. Walt’s recklessness pays off but just barely. Eventually this type of behavior with bite Walt in the ass. But there’s one witness, the kid with the fucking tarantula, who their helper bee promptly kills, further ensuring Jesse will never be normal.

Say Anything…

Spoliers!
I saw Say Anything for the first time when I was seventeen and I feel that more than any other film, it brings me back to my particular high school experience. Not that I see myself in any of the characters specifically (while I dated a Lloyd Dobler type, I’m certainly no Diane Court,at least I don’t I think so) but when watching it now, I experience the same feelings one goes through when finding a shoebox full of old photos and seeing the smiling faces of old friends you don’t talk to anymore. When I watch this film, I know I am not the same person I was when I first saw it ten years ago. While in many ways it’s for the better, it’s a reminder that we can never be seventeen again.
Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) takes a chance on graduation day, and asks class valedictorian Diana Court (Ione Skye) to accompany him to a graduation party. Even his best friends think he’s lost his mind, because while he’s a good guy, they don’t see him as someone the smartest girl in their class would date, but she agrees and the two begin a summer romance. Diane’s dad (John Mahoney) is concerned that his daughter is spending too much time with a kid with no direction, when she has plans to study aboard in the fall. When things get serious, Diane gives in to her dad’s pressure and dumps Lloyd, who is completely heartbroken. He tries to win her back, with the help of Peter Gabriel, but it isn’t until her father is convicted of tax evasion that she can be with him again.
Of course the most famous scene is when Lloyd stands under Diane’s window holding a boom box, playing their song, “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel. To me, it’s the epitome of young love. When you’re a kid, you dream of having someone love you so much they won’t let you go and then you grow up and the thought of that terrifies you. When you’re a kid, you dream up dramatic ways you’ll show that illusive crush how great you are and then they’ll love you, but then you grow up and realize you can’t MAKE someone love you. I talk as if the two don’t reunite in the end, but I think this is why this movie resonates with so many people. They probably shouldn’t get back together, but we all want to live in a world where your first love is your only love.
While Lloyd Dobler gets to be a pop culture icon, Diane Court is a pretty interesting character in her own right. She’s so uncomfortable in her own skin and is so unsure about her own feelings she makes it through high school without forming any relationships beyond acquaintances. It takes Lloyd making a pretty sizable leap of faith for her to have anyone in her life besides her father and the residents of the nursing home he runs. When she breaks up with Lloyd, it isn’t because he did anything or because they had a misunderstanding, she does it because she knows her father wants her to and she isn’t comfortable with all the new feelings she’s experiencing. And then she give him a pen! She’s probably one of the most awkward characters ever but doesn’t get seen that way because she’s pretty.
Say Anything is, in my opinion, one of the best teen movies, mostly because it perfectly captures the realities of first love as well as what we all want first love to be. However, as an adult, it conjures a sort of nostalgic melancholy because you know Lloyd grows up to be Rob Gordon from High Fidelity, not that that’s such a bad thing.