REVIEW: Raiders of the Lost Ark Midnight Movie @ The Ritz at the Bourse

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Raiders is a classic. It’s a great movie even if it drags a little during the end of the Cairo segment. On Saturday night, the Ritz at the Bourse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania presented Raiders on the big screen as part of their classic Midnight Movie Madness series.

It was the first time I had ever seen Raiders on a large screen and was definitely a worthwhile experience. The giant boulder seemed gianterer. On the big screen, the face meltings oozed of cheesy deliciousness. The film’s serial roots shown through far more clearly than I remember from my old VHS experiences especially during the brilliant opening scene.

By the way, I’m pretty sure we’re going to find out next year that the climax of Raiders takes place on a Lost-related island due to the white smoke monster that erupts from the Ark.

And what was with the obsession with bad lightning effects in the early 80s? In Raiders they use it as the Nazi’s die on the island. Earlier today I happened to catch the ending of the original Terminator and laughed out loud at the unnecessary lightning effect they used as the T-800 was crushed, it’s metal fingers wrapped tightly around Sarah Conner’s throat.

Anyway, Raiders is just full of classic iconic moment, plus lots of Nazi’s get killed. What else could you ask for in a popcorn flick?

The two downsides to the experience include the fact that some members of the crowd were apparently confused and thought they were watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Their annoying need to try to interact with the film and make everyone us all laugh fell flat repeatedly or resulted in just slight nervous laughter of embarrassment.

And secondly, the battle to stay awake during the film just hammered home the fact that I’m f-ing old now.

Despite the at times aggravating crowd, I’d be willing to give the Ritz the benefit of the doubt and try another one of these midnight movies. Upcoming showings include Ghostbusters, the Dark Crystal, Rushmore, and the Goonies. For more information or tickets see:



PunchOut!! with 100% less Tyson!

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Angie and I picked up the revamped PunchOut!! for Wii on Tuesday, and I’ve finally had an opportunity to try it out.  It’s fun, but after playing the Wii Sports Boxing for so long I think the controls leave a lot to be desired.  Punches require button presses, and there’s a turn based component to the timing that I don’t care for.  Granted, this makes the gameplay more like the original, but it seems like a real limitation to me. One extra that might help keep my interest is the fact that the Wii Fit balance board can be added to the mix for dodging and ducking (as well as dipping, diving and dodging).  This has proven very difficult to effectively utilize so far, but that has everything to do with my ineptness.

I’m sure I’ll be saying “sayonara” to Piston Hondo soon enough.  That’s Japanese for goodbye.


REVIEW: The Hangover

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I liked it a lot better when it was called Dude, Where’s My Car?

Actually that’s not really true, but for me I couldn’t get that thought out of my head while watching the Hangover, except it lacks Dude’s weird Sci-Fi twist. A lot of the jokes recall other comedies beyond Dude including the Chris Farley classic Tommy Boy but it is still a funny movie with a fun cast. I think it’s worth seeing if you have a high tolerance for male nudity.

It’s also weird seeing Heather Graham in a movie in a theater. It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve done that…


REVIEW: Terminator Salvation

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So Termination Salvation is fine I guess. It’s a hard film for me to be enthusiastic about for whatever reason. McG incorporated some ideas that I think are pretty inventive and other ones that don’t make much sense to me.

Bryce Howard and Moon Bloodgood as is typical of these types of movie have very little to do in the film. Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin and Sam Worthington are stuck carrying most of the acting load and I think they get by.  Though for some reason Worthington kept reminding me of John Cena in the Marine and you’d think that would be a bad omen. Christian Bale’s role is less than you’d expect from John Connor and I spent the whole film wondering what the intense emotional scene was that led to his famous diatribe.  I think I missed that scene. Must have blinked.

I think part of the problem with the film is its lack of a specific villain. Skynet is a vague entity that sends lots of robots out to kill or round up humans. Unlike the previous Terminator films, there’s no specific new terminator more dangerous than ever actively stalking the humans throughout the entire film aiming to kill them. When the baddest terminator in Salvation finally shows up, I had to wonder why he was attacking John Connor alone given the setting of the fight.

And while I think the idea of the character Marcus in the film is kind of interesting, in the end I just never felt that invested in him as a character. Plus they ruined the twist surrounding his character in the film’s trailers. Thanks Warner Brothers’ Marketing department. You guys rule.

The film’s nods to the previous Terminator movies came across to me as heavy handed especially a particular musical cue. Though I did enjoy John constantly consulting audio cassette tapes left behind by his mother for guidance.

A large part of the appeal to this particular Terminator sequel is that we finally get to see mankind’s future war versus the machines that has been discussed since the first film. A major problem with this angle is that the future war was just done better on the Terminator: the Sarah Conner Chronicles. In the tv series, the humans were living underground like vermin fighting for their very lives. In Salvation, somehow the humans are maintaining air fields and utilizing futuristic planes. If the humans could create such planes, why aren’t the air fields prime targets for the even more futuristic flying robot Skynet terminator-plane-weapon-thingies? There’s a vague reference to the rebel base being surrounded by a minefield and some sort of magnet but it hardly seems like it could stop an aerial assault. Salvation’s humans are just too well armed for my tastes. Actually seeing the future war reminds me of finally seeing the Clone Wars in the Star Wars prequels. How much of a let down was it to realize the clones were all Boba Fett’s dad and basically prototype storm troopers? The future war was just better served by being shown in short glimpses in the previous films rather than under the steady spotlight of Salvation.

Some of the effects in Salvation are stunning but just as many were distractingly poor in my opinion. In the climax of Salvation, I think you get a little of both amazing effects like we’ve never seen before and cheesy CGI all in the rendering of the Terminator that Playmates at least is calling a T-RIP. One other highlight is that the giant f-ing robot terminator in Salvation is way cooler looking and easier to follow visually than any of Michael Bay’s stupid gymnastic Transformers. I’d like to think in 2009, however, we’ve moved past the point where we as an audience are impressed by the animation that studios can conjure up on a Mac.

And I’m no doctor, but the science behind the film’s concluding moments seems mighty convenient.

So in the end I think Salvation is hands down the worst film in the Terminator franchise, but it’s still better than a lot of science fiction films. It’s kind of a shame Salvation came out a week after Star Trek though, because it pales in comparison.

Also, I think trying to write basically spoiler free reviews of films is an effort in futility.


Come with me if you want to live

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Got to see an early screening of Terminator: Salvation tonight, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went in with a lot of concerns and trepidation, but I think this is a solid chapter in Terminator mythology.

Nothing contradicted or detracted from the previous film installments, and even the cancelled Sarah Connor Chronicles weren’t completely rejected (nor were they embraced on any level). Kevin had read/heard a rumor months ago about a possible ending to the film that would ruin the franchise, and I can thankfully say that it did not prove true.  Not knowing the details of that rumor until our post-game wrap-up, I did have a fun time speculating on what it might be as I watched everything unfold. Thankfully, none of my wild Terminator Baby scenarios came to pass either.

It was a real treat to see the post-Judgement Day world after the glimpses given in the first three movies. I have to say though, having a story set entirely in that world makes for a far different experience compared to the previous chapters.   That’s not to say it’s necessarily worse (or better), just different.  It’s hard to say whether a casual viewer will dig it, but I’d easily see this again and I think fans will enjoy.