By Bob Grimm
on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 9:00 AM
After seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark, 12 year-old Eric Zala got the idea to remake the movie, shot for shot, as an experiment with his buddies. Over the course of the next six years, they did just that, doing a remarkable job of recreating the legendary Spielberg film note for note.
This film captures the creative team as they set out to film the one shot they never got: the massive airplane explosion after the fight with the big bald Nazi. There’s a lot of fun stuff about the making of the movie, including the time the boys almost burned a house down. They also almost burned one of the actors, suffocated another with a plaster mold on his face, and used a little puppy instead of a monkey for the infamous Nazi salute monkey scene.
The film includes interviews with director Eli Roth and Aint it Cool News founder Harry Knowles, major champions of the project. At the documentary’s center are the boys getting back together 25 years later to film that final airplane explosion, with actual big budget props. It’s a fun movie about being a fanatical fan boy, and how being a geek can sometimes pay off. Sometimes.
(Available for rent on iTunes during a limited theatrical run).
By Bob Grimm
on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 at 9:25 AM
Blake Lively, whose best role until now was the secretary in that SNL “Potato Chip” sketch, is terrific as Nancy, a medical school dropout who goes to a secret beach in Mexico in the wake of her mother’s death. She sets out for a day of surfing and reflection in what she thinks is a completely solitary setting (with the exception of a couple other friendly surfers). Turns out, there’s a big-assed Great White shark, and this would be it’s part of Earth, and no trespassers are allowed, even if they are as pretty as Blake Lively.
As shark movies go, this is a good one, with decent CGI effects, a couple of tense shark attacks, and a constant level of terror that never lets up. The only thing really keeping this from being “very good” rather than “nice and good” would be the ending, which made me laugh a laugh I shouldn’t have laughed. Even with the big flaw, this is one of the summer movie season’s more fun offerings, certainly a lot more fun than that one with aliens and Jeff Goldblum in it.
Note to producers: Please don’t make a sequel where the shark’s offspring follows Blake Lively to a vacation resort, Jaws: The Revenge style. You’ve made an all time top ten shark movie; quit while you are ahead.
By Bob Grimm
on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 10:00 AM
Whether or not you agree in principle with the notion of racehorses, this is a moving documentary about a group of people in Wales who decide to finance one. They eventually succeed with the birth of their horse, Dream Alliance, a gangly youngster who grows up to be a solid jumper.
Through interviews and archive footage, we see the horse from birth straight through to many of his races, where he proved to be an unlikely champion. Of course, tragedy strikes during one of the races, and then the movie becomes the story of an amazing comeback. Or, depending on your point of view, it becomes the story of a bunch of strange folks in Wales pushing a beautiful animal well beyond the point of reason so it can keep jumping for their amusement and wallets.
There’s no denying that Dream Alliance is a beautiful animal, and his story is inspiring. The story of the horse is far more compelling than the story of the folks who owned him. There’s a turning point in this story where the owners probably should’ve put the horse in a field and let him enjoy life, but they keep pushing him. That’s a little bothersome. The end results are uplifting and happy, but they came perilously close to being extremely sad.
The documentary is entertaining, but it will definitely have you thinking about the treatment of animals for sport.
By Bob Grimm
on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 10:00 AM
This sequel to Finding Nemo goes a little darker than its predecessor, with Ellen DeGeneres returning as the voice of Dory, the lovable fish with short-term memory loss issues.
An event triggers a memory of family in her little brain, and she sets off on a journey to find her mom and dad (voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy). Pals Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) join Dory on her quest, which culminates in an aquarium amusement park graced with voice announcements by the actual Sigourney Weaver. Dory winds up in a touch pond, in a bucket of dead fish, and swimming around in a lot of dark pipe work. In some ways, this is to Finding Nemo what The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars. It’s a darker, slightly scarier chapter, but it still delivers on the heartwarming elements, and contains some good laughs, many of them provided by Ed O’Neil voicing a conniving octopus. We also find out the origins of Dory’s ability to speak whale as she reconvenes with an old friend, Destiny the Whale Shark (Kaitlin Olson).
Overall, it’s not as good as the first one, but it’s still good, and DeGeneres still rules as the voice of Dory. Her voicing of this character definitely goes into the Animation Voices Hall of Fame. MAKE SURE TO STAY ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE CREDITS FOR A RATHER LENGTHY FINAL SCENE.
By Bob Grimm
on Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 10:00 AM
Remember when a Stephen King movie was an event? Remember when a John Cusack movie was an event? Heck, the John Cusack/Stephen King movie 1408 (2007) was actually pretty badass.
Here in 2016, the latest Cusack/King vehicle gets an On Demand release shortly before a limited theatrical run. Produced three years ago, this one was better off staying on the shelf, and is easily one of the worst King adaptations. Cusack, reteamed with his 1408 costar Samuel L. Jackson, plays Mike, a graphic artist estranged from his wife and son. Shortly after placing a call to them on an airport payphone, Mike witnesses cell phone users spazzing out and going into a zombie state as the result of some sort of pulse.
Director Tod Williams is utterly lost with this opportunity, making a humorless piece of horror satire wrought with lethargic performances, shoddy camerawork and terrible special effects. The origin of the “pulse” that sets off the zombie apocalypse is never fully explained, and no real villain is ever established. The ending is a confusing mishmash of three finales as if the director couldn’t make up his mind.
Cusack seems pissed to be in this thing, while Jackson is clearly bored and resigned to the fact that he signed up for a stinker. Eli Roth was the original director on this, and he left due to creative differences. Maybe he was arguing that a film like this should be crazy and even funny.
This one takes itself a little too seriously, and boasts some of the worst movie editing you are likely to see this year. The career of Cusack continues to spiral out of control, Nicholas Cage style (Available for rent on iTunes and On Demand before and during a limited theatrical release).
By Bob Grimm
on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 11:00 AM
Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner was a hardworking, impassioned spitfire with a promising future. He seemingly threw that all away when he tweeted out pictures of his surprisingly hot bod to virtual strangers, in addition to all out sexting with them. Word got out, and the man was dethroned.
This documentary from directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Stenberg shows the humiliated politician seemingly on the comeback trail, making a serious run for NYC mayor with renewed public support and wife Huma Abedin still at his side despite the naked pics sent to ladies other than herself.
Even the press seemed to be lightening up on the dude, although fellow politicians still shot arrows. Weiner was actually in the lead when word got out he had continued the whole sexting thing well after his resignation, even doing phone sex with one particular, insane fan. The doc then becomes an examination of a fairly sick guy losing it all once again, a man unable to control his stranger impulses. During it all, Weiner remained defiant, committed and steadfast in his beliefs that he would make a good mayor. The public didn’t see it that way, and he went from holding the lead to finishing dead last with less than five percent of the vote.
No doubt, the man is entertaining and certainly anything other than uninteresting, making this documentary a fascinating and entertaining one. It’s also an undeniable testament to the negative powers of the selfie, especially the partially naked selfie.