A Merry Movie Christmas – The RunPee Family’s Favorite Holiday Films

Die Hard, A christmas movie
Now I have a machine gun. Ho Ho Ho.

It’s that time of year again, when you can’t walk around in stores without hearing that Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, how mommy kissed Santa Claus, or that sad Last Christmas song by WHAM! In other words, ’tis the season to pay lip service to the holidays. (Ouch. I sound like a Grinch. Let me start again.)

Even if you’re not Christian, it’s tough to not feel your heartstrings tugged by the onslaught of themed family-friendly films. Now is when family becomes the central theme, and we spend too much money on presents nobody actually needs.  At its best, at Christmas, we remind ourselves family shouldn’t be taken for granted; we can forgive familial trespasses, and work on spreading love and cheer to all and sundry. Remember: family isn’t necessarily based on the bonds of blood. Do you care about someone? Let them know!

The RunPee Family is especially thankful to all of you, who’ve either been long term boosters or brand-new fans of the RunPee app: you are the reason we give up our nights, week after week, to see every movie, and share Peetimes with the world.

We thought you might enjoy hearing what our favorite holiday movies are. Please add your own in the comments section! You’re a part of our extended family, after all. 🙂

With no further ado, here are the favorite holiday movies from the members of the RunPee Family: (Note: reviewed movies and family profiles are linked.)

RunPee Dan:
Love, Actually
Lethal Weapon (written by Shane Black)
Die Hard
The Long Kiss Goodnight (written by Shane Black)
Iron Man 3 (written by Shane Black)
“I’m starting to notice a trend with Shane Black movies.”

RunPee Jilly:
Die Hard (“It’s just not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off the Nakatomi building.”)
Lethal Weapon
Love, Actually
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (“It’s the one with Yule Ball celebration! Although each Harry Potter film has quite a bit of Christmas in it, to one degree or another.”)
Home Alone
Elf
Iron Man 3
Gremlins
“I’m also a sucker for the original Grinch holiday special.”

RunPee Mom:
“I would have to say that Nightmare Before Christmas is my favorite. And on the other end of the spectrum, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is my second-favorite.”

RunPee Sis:
“Howdy…hands down, my #1 is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Also, the new Will Farrell and Mark Walhberg movies…Daddy’s Home 1 and 2.”

The RunPee Princess/Granddaughter:
RunPee Mom reports, Jim Carrey’s The Grinch (Max the dog was her favorite part), and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

RunPee Shani:
It’s a Wonderful Life
Home Alone

RunPee Dana:
It’s A Wonderful Life
The Preacher’s Wife
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer
“Sooooo!  I wanted to share a little tidbit about why I chose Its a Wonderful Life as one of my favorite Christmas movies.  As a child, it was the first encounter I had with hearing about a “bank examiner.” Do you remember when George was nervous when the deposit run started, and he said the bank examiner was coming, and he needed money to cover the books?  I never knew bank examining was a job or career until that movie. Then I went to college, and low and behold the FDIC was recruiting when I was 18 years old for bank examiners on my college campus.  Long story short, until you read it in my book, at age 21 the FDIC hired me…after I stalked them for 3 1/2 years in college.  I’ve been employed with them for over 26 years and lived in 5 states via promotions and special assignments.  Interesting, uh?!?! Yup, being a Female Masterpiece…It’s A Wonderful Life….pun intended! Wink wink.”


The RunPee Family wishes you and yours a very merry Christmas, a fabulous holiday season, and of course, a great new year. I think we could all use a good new year.  😉 Here’s to wishes and new year’s kisses that 2019 will rock!

Moview Rewatch Review – Elf

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

What DC Can Learn from Marvel Movies

DC comics superheroes
Let’s bring some playfulness into DC, okay?

This awesome 10 minute video (below) by ScreenRant picks apart how and why the Marvel Cinematic Universe kills it over the DC Extended Universe. You may be a bigger DC fan over Marvel, but it’s hard to argue the MCU movies are  more inspiring, with strong character beats and good-natured humor…while DC limps along being largely morose. This might change with the Aquaman film (he was quite amusing in The Justice League, along with The Flash). And then there’s the really fun-looking trailers for the upcoming April 2019 release of Shazaam.

I think DC might be getting the picture: stop with the grim, and come in with the ability to transport fans to a place where they can let go of their worries and enjoy a couple of hours at the cinema.

Marvel used humor way back in the beginning  (ten years ago) with Iron Man 1, and upped the comic ante with time and expertise — just look at Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor: Ragnarok, and most of the latter film entries. Those are beautiful films, and also carry important messages. Did “We Are Groot” make you tear up? How about as Peter Parker cried under the rubble, then realized no grown-up was going to swoop in and save him? Did you enjoy when Ant-Man ecstatically learned he could join the ‘real’ heroes in Captain America: Civil War as a certified Avenger, or when Black Widow asked Hawkeye, mid-fight, if they were still buddies?

There’s a lot to deconstruct with Marvel, and that’s not EVEN getting into the masterpiece that was X-Men’s Logan. (Which I have seen only once, because extra curricular crying is not  on my list of daily fun stuff.)

In any case, I think DC might be getting the message. When James Gunn was unceremoniously fired from Disney’s Marvel world, DC eagerly snapped him up, to do for Suicide Squad what he did for Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m sure this wasn’t a good move for Marvel, but hey — we’ll get what I expect to be a fantastic treatment for Suicide Squad, on a premise mostly squandered before.

So, enjoy this video about what Marvel does that DC needs to emulate:

Guardians of the Galaxy Ex-Director James Gunn to Direct Suicide Squad 2

Movie Review – Justice League (RunPee Jilly’s POV)

Movie Review – Justice League (RunPee Dan’s POV)

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Why The Last Jedi Sucked

star wars the last jedi
Stop screwing around. I want my Star Wars back.

Did you like Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Are you still on the fence? I don’t think anyone would say it doesn’t look pretty. It looks expensive, and on the surface seems like it belongs in the Star Wars galaxy (the one that is long ago and far away).

It’s got a few great set-pieces (Porg Island, Salt Planet, Rey and Ren tag-teaming it).

And it has a whole lot of sound and fury, signifying a whole lot of nothing. (Rey is who? Snoke is who? Why do we spend so much time on the casino planet? Admiral Holdo and hotshot pilot Poe: Mutiny? What? Why? …And, of course, we have the Deconstruction of Luke Skywalker — [shakes head, sadly].)

Here’s a detailed analysis of why The Last Jedi failed. (“You have failed me for the last time, Admiral.”) Take a look and tell me what you think:

An interesting video. However, I still love The Force Awakens, and think The Last Jedi is better than any of the prequels.

(Man, those prequels suck.)

But yeah, you could fly a Corellian Cruiser through the plot holes of TLJ. I blame Rian Johnson. JJ Abrams handed him a good set-up, but Rian blew it, on so so soooo many levels. I can only “hope” (get it, haha?) that the last movie will course correct these failures. Do it, JJ. Give us what we want.

Let’s wrap up this Skywalker Saga. I’ll be waiting right here.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Can Dune be done? Should Dune be done? Bringing Long Books to the Screen

herbert sandworm dune
If you walk without rhythm, you won’t attract the worm.

Until the last generation, when Peter Jackson proved The Lord of the Rings could not only be made into a successful film — but be so off-the-charts good that it took home 11 Oscar Awards — it was unheard of to succeed at translating most of the great sci-fi and fantasy epics of literature to the big screen.

That’s not for lack of trying. Larry McMurtry’s  Lonesome Dove book-to-film effort was a grand feat, but it’s the mini-series scale that made it work. The book is too big and involved to be made into one cinema-length film. Nowadays it would be at least a film trilogy, but I don’t think it needs a reboot — the 1989 miniseries is already a flawless snapshot of the last gasps of the Western Expansion. So they could make a new movie with these characters, yes, but I’d say it’s time to move on and  tackle other works of genre literature. (Also, who’s going to try improve on Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duval?)

Watership Down is another epic tale in a brick-sized book, but it’s a hard sell, being entirely from the point of view of rabbits. And it’s absolutely not for children: the themes are mature and often mesmerizingly frightening. (The rabbits even have their own word for being stuck in a “mesmerizingly frightened” state — called Tharn –). The 1978 animated feature has its fans, but most people who’ve loved the book pretend the “movie” doesn’t exist. (Seriously, it’s like a long scary drug trip.) Hazel’s troop of rabbits could now be done with puppets, animatronics, or CGI — instead of animation —  but the question here is “Why?” We’ve seen entire CGI movies like Avatar, and they can be lush and sweeping films, but it still remains that Watership Down must be seen at rabbit-height and from rabbit-eyes. It would take a very special studio or director to take that on. This is probably why nobody is chasing this particular story at the moment.

Here’s a full length video of Watership Down, if you’re curious:

In  the Post-LOTR and Harry Potter world,  the densest, longest, and most involving books can come alive on film…with inspired directing, gobs of studio money (and little studio interference), the right acting ensemble, and legions of dedicated crew members. Not to mention a crack PR team dropping hints and teaser trailers to excite the fans. (See: anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

The key to adapting epic novels to the big screen, it seems, is respecting the source story. Behind the sets, Sir Ian McKellen (as Gandalf) would pace around Peter Jackson with this LOTR novels, saying, essentially, “Peter!That’s not how Tolkien wrote it!” This is probably one of the many interconnected reasons why Lord of the Rings, previously considered unfilmable, worked so well.

It’s not that a script can’t deviate from a source, but the result should clearly be recognizable from it. Book fans will be waiting for certain beats, beloved details, fantastic settings worthy of a grand story, and most of all: a faithfulness of essence to its literary origins.

There’s a line between slavishly book-faithful recreations (as in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), and movies that recalls its novel by name only (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, AKA Blade Runner, or Lynch’s Dune).

So, yes, finally. We get to Dune. It’s been tackled several times, although none were recent enough to benefit from the current seamless FX at our disposal. (Which doesn’t excuse anything at all. Look back on the practical effects of Star Wars: A New Hope, or Raiders of the Lost Ark, and tell me those films failed — they don’t.)

david lynch dune
Lynch’s Dune – looks good, tastes bad.

Lynch’s 1984 Dune remains a problem, and its not from poor effects. It’s mainly that Lynch took Herbert’s book, tore a few pages he liked from it, and threw away the rest. It’s only “Dune” because the characters have the same names, there are Fremen and there are Sandworms, and Arrakis, the desert planet, is still called Dune. Otherwise, it’s a sprawling, sometimes grotesque mess, bearing little likeness to the story they aim to tell. I admit they got to the story’s conclusion just fine, but the path to get there was completely unorthodox. I know Lynch’s Dune has its fans, so I’ll let it lie.

scy fy dune
SyFy gives Dune a try. Definitely more Herbert, but definitely still wrong.

When SyFy made Frank Herbert’s Dune (2000) into a television miniseries, you can see there were many attempts made to be faithful to the book…but Sy Fy also took liberties in the telling. The main arguments I’ve heard seem to coalesce around the casting, that the actors didn’t look like the part, or didn’t act like the part. I’d say in both versions they got Jessica right, and Chani, and Irulan, for that matter, but the men’s roles are hit or miss. I think they got a lot more right than wrong, and crafted a personable, sensible, enjoyable tale without a whisper of heart plugs.

In my grading system, I’d give Lynch’s Dune a D+. (While I thought it was overall atrocious, he got a few things right, and that’s where the + comes in.) I’d give SyFy’s Dune a nice fair B score. It crumples a little as time marches on, but at least it’s recognizably Dune. SyFy even went on to combine Dune Messiah and Children of Dune as a second mini-series, which was ambitious, welcome, and mostly effective.  That one gets a B as well; maybe a   B+ — I’d have to see it again.

jodorowksy dune
Jodorosky’s Dune. Third time’s a charm?

A lot of people mention Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013), which isn’t actually a movie. It’s more like an appetizer for a film, or a promise of Dune. You can watch the movie-length documentary for $3 on Amazon, or check out the free trailers on IMDb. However, if you watch the video, you can’t help but notice that it’s even stranger than Lynch’s version. There’s a lot of people who want to see this one picked up by the studios, but I’m not one of them. I want to see the story the way Herbert saw it in his mind’s eye.

The time is right to try Dune again, using a well-funded production studio, a director who is comfortable with an epic scale,  and detailed sets in grand desert locations. I want to see world-building. Toss in some smart humor, dynamic ensemble casting, and of course, magnificent sandworms: make me long to be a rider. The movie should be a visual delight, engulfing the audience so much you’ll think you can smell the sietches, taste the spice, and feel the grit of sand, sand, sand.

So, it’s exciting news that director Denis Villeneuve plans to try his hand at a multi-film Dune. He says he hopes to make Dune into the Star Wars movie he never saw. “Most of the main ideas of Star Wars are coming from Dune, so it’s going to be a challenge to [tackle] this,” Villeneuve said. “In a way, it’s Star Wars for adults. We’ll see.” (Read the Dune News page on IMDb.)

It ‘s a promising start. We’ll record the news for this Dune project as it comes along.

While you wait for the right version of Dune to thrill you, entertain yourself with Fatboy Slim’s song Weapon of Choice. The lyrics are definitely Dune-inspired, even if the setting isn’t. But watching Christopher Walken putzing  around an empty hotel is a whole lot of awesome by itself…

Which version of Dune is your favorite? Do you think it will be done right by Villeneuve?

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Four of Stan Lee’s Favorite Characters

Stan-Lee-spider-man-with-fans
Stan Lee with fans dressed as their favorite supes…with his true love: Spider-Man

There’s no doubt Stan Lee, often together with frequent co-inventor/artist Jack Kirby, created some of the most beloved, enduring, and influential superhero characters.  Without Lee, there would be no Marvel Universe, at least not with the faces by which we know it. Lee was a man with a mission of hope for millions of kids, giving a heroic voice to the underdogs, the alienated, and the disenfranchised.

Here are a few of Lee’s apparent favorite superhero creations:

  1. Lee seemed to identify most with Spider-Man, an emotional, talkative, and sometimes naive teen. According to Quora: “Spider Man symbolizes the little guy and that appeals a great deal to Stan. I’m not saying that Stan doesn’t love any other creation because that isn’t true. He has love for all of his characters that he brought to life. I just think that Spider Man has a special place in his heart. If you look at some of the publications and advertisements you will see Stan with Spider Man quite often.”
    It doesn’t hurt that this character became the face of Marvel for many years.
  2. Dr. Banner/The Hulk Banner was a man tormented by an often violent inner volatility. His human form contained a man a science, characterized by rational  intellect — never knowing when he would lose his cool to become an overpowered child-like rage monster. He’s the personification of the ultimate battle between the Id and the Ego. AV Club reports: “There’s definitely an element of wish fulfillment in the Hulk for readers that wish they could let themselves fully give in to their anger—my appreciation for the character developed during my closeted teenage years—but Lee and Kirby were clear early on that this was a curse for Banner rather than a gift.”
  3. Black Panther – At the height of the Civil Rights movement, Lee created the first eponymous African superhero, starting with King T’Chaka, eventually  passing the role to his son King T’Challa. A previously under-served, large section of the world’s population could finally find superheroes who looked like them — an entire paradisaical high-tech country of them, in fact — in the secret cities and unspoiled countryside of Wakanda. The Rolling Stone reports: “An entire generation of children will now know that a black superhero, society, imagination and power can exist right alongside Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, and Bruce Wayne. An entire generation of children will not know what it feels like to not see themselves reflected back on costume racks, coloring books or movie screens. We’re at a pivotal time where these characters and stories are coming not out of permission or obligation, but necessity.”
  4. For The X-Men, as an ensemble, this might be cheating, but he loved these fleshed out characters, who tried to do the right thing in a world that didn’t want them. They were flawed but regular people at heart, caught up in circumstances where they were forced to make a choice: to look out for regular humans, or to look out for fellow Mutants. In theory, the choice should be easy (both sides could reap the rewards of working together), but in reality it was like forcing opposite poles of magnets to align. You can’t help but feel a sense of tragedy for both sides. As a child, I self-identified as a mutant, or perhaps as someone from another world, impersonating as a human. According to the AV Club the young mutants were “a bunch of awkward, uncertain outcasts, drawing strength from each other in order to get through life in a world that didn’t especially like them, who just happened to have superpowers to boot. For a pre-teen who often felt like the odd one out in school, it was a lightning bolt, a volcanic eruption that ripped open the pop culture I had been consuming and showed me the way to a different one, one that existed inside the pages of comics. The heroes were fascinatingly flawed, all of them given to social isolation in one form or another, and it spoke to me in a way few things have. The symbolism of the mutant heroes is powerful, which is why they’ve been used as an allegory for just about every marginalized group at this point (and were created by Lee with the express intent of functioning as such).”

This week, the galaxy lost a voice of vast imagination and fun, who held deeply felt humanitarian roots, shaping millions of young lives through the colorful comicbook medium. He also influenced modern adults, bringing all-too-human characters to the big screen, reshaping the superhero landscape indelibly from anything we’d seen before. If you’ve enjoyed the 20+ film saga of the MCU, or the X-Men movies, you can’t help but be touched by Stan Lee’s contribution to entertainment, and feel a deeper understanding of ourselves.

We at RunPee love superheroes, clearly identifying with the underdogs who decided to do something for the world, even if it’s as simple as helping everyday people in small ways, one bladder at a time.

Here’s a couple of our recent Stan Lee articles, and one cool quiz: 

RIP Stan Lee – you will be missed

Quiz – Learn About Marvel Studio’s Great Stan Lee

Stan Lee – His Marvel Cameos are a Secret Character

Every Stan Lee Cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

 

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Every Harry Potter Film, Ranked

harry-potter-movies-ranked
The trio, saving the world at a theater near you.

We haven’t seen Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald yet, but RunPee has an early showing next Tuesday, November 13th, three days before the film officially opens. I’ll be attending in full Hogwarts robes, with my cherished Elder Wand, getting early Peetimes. In any case, this is as good a time as any to rank the 9 movies thus far in the Wizarding World, from least good to the best. Remember, though, any of J.K. Rowling’s wizard movies are better and more consistent than just about any franchise out there, save the superhero flicks in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

NOTE: Spoilers for the entire Harry Potter series starts right here. Use a memory charm to forget what you’re about to read if you’re not up to date with the series.

My  subjective list, from worst to best, including Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them:

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 – While there are some really good sections in this story (the Battle of the Seven Potters, the Gringotts Bank Heist, the flight of the dragon, the scenes at Malfoy Mansion, and the tear-jerking death of Dobby), most of the film feels like the boring sections of the Lord of the Rings: to wit, there is a lot of walking, camping, and doing nothing. Also, the locket acts a lot like the One Ring, which feels more derivative than like an homage. Also, there’s barely any humor, the tone is depressing, the characters are mostly silent, and some scenes are among the only big misfires in the entire series (ie – the wedding, the visit with Xenophilus Lovegood, the creepy trip to Godric’s Hallow).  So it’s really the only middling chapter in a long series of grade A films. Something has to come in last in a list, after all.

8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – I don’t like this one very much. I hate the spiders scene so much that I fast forward over the whole thing (I’m not an arachnophobe, but this is all still disturbing), Hagrid’s helpful presence is missing through most of it, and I didn’t enjoy his being blamed for opening the titular Chamber. The overall tone is more depressing than it should be, so early into the longer story arc. The Basilisk doesn’t make much sense: he’s too big to roam unseen in the crowded Hogwarts Halls, or to fit through that toilet exit. Also, I’n not a big fan of the climax in the the Chamber itself, or the reveal about Ginny Weasley. The good: the flight of the Ford Anglica, the trip to Diagon Alley, Kenneth Branagh’s amusing portrayal of Professor Gilderoy, and Hagrid’s apparent bit of talking to himself as he’s brought away by the Minister of Magic (“If I was looking for something, I’d follow the spiders.”) I’ve come to appreciate this movie more over the years, but it’s still the one I’m happiest to skip. Fortunately, things get a lot better very quickly in the next films.

7.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone (the title depends on which country you’re from) – This is lightweight, yet appealing fluff. It’s very truthful to the book, which I actually like, is adorably sweet, and ends on a low-stakes high note (Gryffindor winning the House Cup, a topic we never hear about again). The film does a good job introducing a large cast, which thankfully stays with us for the next ten years (Dumbledor’s actor aside, for unfortunate reasons of real-world death).  Alan Rickman’s Snape is better than the book version, and better than a kiddie-movie like this one deserves.  Most of the stage is set for the  ensuing chronicles, and the filmation is straightforward, yet deeply pretty.

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2 – I’d rate this finale higher if it was either more fun, or stood better alone. It picks up right after DH1, and maintains a  breakneck pace for its rather long runtime. The battle is competent, and everyone involved put in a good effort. The aftermath is rushed, and the coda sort of divided the fans (I liked it, though). The best scenes start right after Harry uses the Stone, sees his loved ones, walks to his death, and visits the train station at King’s Cross, London.  Heartfelt, mysterious, clearly spiritual, and nicely tear-jerking. Answers that are non-answers are provided, leaving the viewer to decide what actually happened to Harry, and how he was able to defeat Voldemort. Once you puzzle it out to your satisfaction (ie  – Harry is a horcrux), you’re all set to let the real Battle of Hogwarts begin.

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  – I sometimes dislike this film, even though it’s really quite good and mostly book. It bothers me that Harry has a raging case of PTSD about the death of Cedric, and no one tries to help him emotionally. And I’m sad about Sirius  — he was my movie boyfriend, as far as I was concerned. I so wanted Harry to ditch the Dursleys and move in with his godfather. It disturbed me that Sirius spent the short remainder of his life in that hideous house that brought him nothing but pain…and it doesn’t help that it was Harry’s awful mistake  (and no small amount of teenage hubris) that led to his godfather’s death. I blame  Dumbledore too — so much pain could have been averted if he’s handled that year better. I also didn’t like that Kreacher’s backstory was mostly ignored. I love Kreacher’s journey in the book, and feel the movie lost a big chance to add a very poignant touch. Apparently, Rowling herself had to insist on ensuring Kreacher was included at all.  High points in the film: Dolores Umbridge. She’s the kind of villain you love to hate. I hate her with the force of a thousand suns; a testament to good acting and marvelous casting. I actually think Umbridge is worse than Voldemort. All the proclamations were good fun, and the Weasley twins’ exit, while not as good as how it went down in the book, was a definite highlight, as were the charming scenes where Harry taught Protection against the Dark Arts to Dumbledore’s Army.

4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Newt Scamander might seem an odd sort of fellow to base a five-part series around, but he’s odd in the good way; sweet, unassuming, yet very competent. He’s completely devoted to his creatures and their future survival…and in spite of being a bit socially awkward, attracts a nice trio of friends to help him save the world from evil wizards. I love Queenie and Jacob. I love the workshop and wildlife preserve in the suitcase. Newt’s an adult, unlike Potter and friends, and this makes for a tonal shift in the film. It’s less colorful and, well…”magical” — except when the fantastic beasts themselves come around. This is a film I like better and better upon every viewing. I’m truly excited to see how this series develops.

3.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Many people position this as the best of the series. It’s shot on location in the lush highlands of Scotland (places I visited to see the real deal in person, being a supergeek of all things Potter). Azkaban has a complicated, yet completely coherent story that other time travel movies should study. The direction is winningly stylish. We’re also introduced to Hogwart’s best teacher ever in Remus Lupin. This is where Sirius Black emerged, and began stealing my heart.  Our new Dumbledore was nothing like the previous one, but slid seamlessly into the role. The main trio puts in their first real acting performance — either the young actors finally settled into their characters, or the director led them there. Alfonso Cuaron completely knocks this one out of the park, and I wish he’d stuck around for the rest of the franchise. It’s simply glorious in direction, setting, and tone.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – I’m a sucker for quest-type stories like this one. It’s got recognizable act breaks between the three tasks, introduces great new characters, provides a lot of humor, and is the first film where the kids enter fully into teenhood. The Hogwarts characters we know and love are no longer children, and the pains/pangs of love emerge. I love this movie more than it probably deserves, but it also offers an astounding ending that changes the series forever. Here’s where the darkness finally takes firm root over the rest of the saga.

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – this holds a special place in my heart for being the funniest of the films, with a good mystery, a lot of Draco (always a plus), reveals much-needed backstory, is mostly self-contained, and provides the last calm before the storm of the war against Voldemort. Everyone’s on the top of their game in this one. (Yes, the book is far superior, but it’s also super long. This would have been a better choice to divide into two films, IMO).

If you’re a die-hard Potter fan, you’ll notice I didn’t include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in this ranking. This would be because the last time I was in London, the play had not yet been created. The screenplay in book-format is a bit underwhelming, but I’ll chalk that up to the medium: it’s meant to be performed to a live audience. People who’ve seen it have great reviews on the experience.  Next time I hit the UK, you can bet I’ll catch a performance. If you’ve seen it, please talk about what it was like in the comments below.

Next week, with FB 2 gracing our screen, I’ll have to shake up this list again.  The trailers look good, albeit quite grim. Here’s to hoping it lands in the top five! I’ll be at the premier in my Gryffindor robes. Lumos, babies!

Related, on RunPee:

Every Harry Potter article on RunPee.com

And some featured posts: 

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Crimes of Grindelwald Prequel Fan Film – The Greater Good

Comic Con Releases Grim but Exciting Trailer for Fantastic Beasts — The Crimes of Grindelwald

Notes on Final Trailer for Fantastic Beasts — The Crimes of Grindelwald

 

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Best Rock, Pop Songs in Non-Musical Movies

Thor Ragnarok Immigrant Song
A man with his own theme song.

If you love movies, you’re probably an aficionado of films using rock or pop hits in their stories as well. You can put this mental connection to good use if you run playlists on Alexa/Google Home/cell phone/whatever, loading it up to play songs evoking your favorite films. Use the lists all day long, to wake you up, get you ready for the day’s work, psych you for a workout, or keep you going through a long night of studying.

For example: you can make morning playlists to wake you softly…and then more insistently, by starting with Deadpool’s Angel in the Morning, and moving on to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2’s Mr. Blue Sky.

Some films have a soundtrack with either 1. a piece of music tonally inappropriate to the scene at hand, and it is glorious (Again, see Angel in the Morning), or 2. a rockin’ Earth track to underscore how cool a scene is (as in Thor’s Immigrant Song). I’m not going to include music like ABBA from Mamma Mia 1 & 2, since those movies are clearly musicals. Let’s also leave out dance movies like Footloose, Flash Dance, Dirty Dancing, etc.

I made a notation where the music is Diegetic (a case where the music is played by the characters, who actually hear the music in the narrative of the film).

I’m going to get a list started here. Enjoy the videos, and good luck getting these awesome earworms out of your head.

  • Angel of the Morning – Deadpool (Total earworm bait)
        • Immigrant Song – Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers Infinity War (The lyrics from Led Zeppelin are so perfect, they reprised it thrice! Here is each scene, in order)

  • Sabotage – Star Trek 2009 (Young Kirk, stealing his dad’s car — Diegetic — I can’t believe I missed adding this one yesterday,as it’s the best character introduction EVER)
  • Sabotage is even reprised in Star Trek Beyond (Diegetic)
  • And Star Trek Beyond goes even further with Fight the Power (yes, Diegetic too)
    • Dreamweaver – Wayne’s World (Inappropriate perfection)
    • Bohemian Rhapsody – Wayne’s World (Diegetic)

 

        • The entire playlists of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vols 1 & 2 (Diegetic)

        • Avengers Infinity War – The Rubber Band Man (Diegetic, and used for the introduction of the aforementioned Guardians)

      • Come Together – Justice League ( think this was only used in the trailer, but it works)
      • The entire playlist of Pulp Fiction (Some of it is Diegetic)
      • Back in the Saddle Again – RED (Perfect choice)

    • Radioactive – The Host (End credits)
    • Avengers 1 – Shoot to Thrill (Diegetic, when Iron Man hijacks the speakers of the Quinjet)

        • Iron Man 1 – Back In Black (Diegetic in the cold open Army Hummer)

    • Iron Man 1  – Iron Man, (Closing credits)

    • Iron Man 2 – Shoot to Thrill, complete song (Diegetic, at Iron Man’s Expo)

  • Iron Man  3 – Can You Dig It? (End credits sequence) 
  • Don’t Stop Me Now – Shaun of the Dead (Diegetic, on the jukebox: “Kill the Queen!”)

  • X-Men: Days of Future’s Past – Time in a Bottle  (Quicksilver’s Sequence)
    • X-Men: Apocalypse – Sweet Dreams are Made of This (Quicksilver, again)

        • Oh Yeah Great uses in two songs! – Risky Business and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

    • Risky Business also has Old Time Rock and Roll (Diegetic)

    • Don’t You Forget About Me – The Breakfast Club

    • Ghostbusters  -In the original Ghostbusters
    • AXL F  – Beverly Hills Cop

      • Ruthless People  – Opening credits of Ruthless People

    • Caddyshack – I’m All Right (Gopher opening sequence)

I’m going to wrap this  up and work on other things now. This list could probably go on for the length of a book. So…tell me what egregious misses I made. I’ll add to the list and give you the credit.

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

I have a bad feeling about this…

Never tell me the odds!
There’s a 100% chance someone will have a bad feeling about this.

In the far away and long ago galaxy of Star Wars, everyone’s a prophet. Who hasn’t said they have a bad feeling about something? Well, except that one time Han said he had a good feeling. It’s the franchise’s longest-running gag, at least through the 10th film of Solo, A Star Wars Story.

Here’s a definitive list of who and when a Star Wars character said “I have a bad feeling about this,” or “I have a very bad feeling,” or even “A really bad feeling,” listed in film production order (with Luke Skywalker getting bonus points for being the first to say it ):

  1. A New Hope – Said twice! First with Luke Skywalker, when the Millennium Falcon approaches the Death Star, and then Han Solo, in the trash compactor.
  2. The Empire Strikes Back – Princess Leia, on the asteroid with the Mynocks.
  3. Return of the Jedi – C-3PO to Artoo Detoo, approaching Jabba’s palace.
  4. The Phantom Menace – Obi-Won Kenobi’s first line in the film, to Qui-gon Jinn.
  5. Attack of the Clones – Anakin Skywalker in the gladiator ring on Geonosis.
  6. Revenge of the Sith – Obi-Won to Anakin, in their starfighters.
  7. The Force Awakens – Han, realizing the deadly rathtars have been set loose on his ship.
  8. Rogue One – K-SO2 to Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor in the elevator scene (although he gets cut off at the end).
  9. The Last Jedi – This one is special and I had to look it up to be sure, but BB-8 says it to Po Dameron, in binary. Director Rian Johnson confirms this. Notice that droids get the bad feeling line three times. (Who knew droids could feel?)
  10. Solo – This one stands out by having the inverse line, spoken by a young Han. In an aside to Chewbacca in the cockpit of the Falcon, he says, “I’ve got a really good feeling about this.” Go with it, Han! Things are going to get a lot worse, soon enough.

So, there it is. EVERY Star Wars movie has a variation on this portent of doom. Next time you pull a re-watch, keep your ears open for the iconic quote.

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More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Through the Wormhole – Are We All Bigots?

Morgan Freeman has a Science Channel series called Through the Wormhole. I highly recommend the series for those interested in learning about a broad range of topics from is the universe a simulation to is privacy dead.

One of my favorite episodes is about the nature of racism: Are We All Bigots? In this episode Freeman comes at this question from a number of angles, as he does the topic in every episode. Below is, what I think, is one of the most important segments.

If you like that clip then I highly recommend you watch the entire episode. You can buy it on YouTube for $1.99 (No affiliation with RunPee.)

Opinion
I have to accept that part of my brain is bigoted. It does things (and sometimes gets away with it) that I don’t like.

That may sound like an odd thing to say: my brain does things that I don’t like. What am I if not my brain and it’s decisions? I think its clear, especially if you watch the entire episode of Are We All Bigots, that our brain instinctively makes decisions without the consent of our brain’s rational consciousness. (Not that consciousness is always rational.)

What researchers have proven is that we are not always in control of our thoughts and actions. It’s not an excuse for bad behavior, but it’s a reality we have to deal with. For instance, when someone is addicted to gambling, or food, a drug, whatever, you can’t attribute that to poor character, or weakness.

Our brains evolved to cope with many situations we no longer face. In this modern age we can manipulate those situations in ways that were never possible while the circuitry in our brains was evolving to help us survive. When we eat carbohydrate-rich food — bread, rice, cake, sweets, etc. — our brain says, “OMG, this is great. More please.” That’s because during our evolution there was hardly a chance that we could overeat those things because of their scarcity. That part of our brain doesn’t understand that we now have unlimited access to calories, and don’t need to overeat at each opportunity. The only way to stop ourselves is to use our rational consciousness to intervene and put the breaks on. Again, the rational part of our brain isn’t always in control — much as we might wish it.

It’s the same for how our brain reacts to people who are different from us. Generally speaking, for our hunter-gatherer ancestors, people from outside their tribe wasn’t always a good thing. Like a dog barking at a stranger, we evolved to be wary of different than us. It’s only through life experience that we can retrain our brains. Essentially, we need take that part of our brain that makes snap judgments and pet it, and say, “Hey, it’s okay. These different people are okay. Don’t get worked up.” Over time, that part of our brain will relax. But, we must recognize that it’s always there, ready to wake up again and bark at the next different person that passes by.

I want to make racism go away; from myself and my country and all of humanity. I believe the only way this will be possible is to acknowledge that part of our brains evolved to be wary of different people — because it gave them an edge in survival.

When we see racism, in ourselves or others, we need to make an effort to retrain us/them. And just like training a dog, the best method is positive reinforcement. Because when you yell at someone for being bigoted it’s about as effective as yelling at a dog — pointless and counterproductive. (Even though it feels as good as eating chocolate cake dripping with melted fudge and covered in icing.)

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

First Man Opinion — Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

When I was in college, I worked at the United States Space Academy. It was an amazing experience. I grew up fascinated with space and science. I literally cried when my parents dragged me out of the Space and Rocket Center after our first, and only, visit. Years later, when I got to work there, it was rewarding to have the opportunity to help young children experience the joy and wonder I had when I was their age.

Obviously I’ve never flown in space, but I understand better than most the incredible technical hurdles it took getting to the moon. I’ve studied math, physics, and history, and the history of space exploration in depth. There is no doubt that the United States of America achieved something wholly remarkable when Neil and Buzz landed on the moon. But it is truly an epic achievement by all humanity. The USA would have never achieved all they did, in the time they did, if it wasn’t for the German engineers that came to America after WWII. Those engineers would have never come to the USA had the Allies not defeated Germany.  And the Allies couldn’t have defeated the Axis powers if not for the sacrifices of the British people early in the war, and more so the Russian people throughout, who sadly endured horrors that are hardly acknowledged today.

How could anyone land on the moon without radio communications — invented by an Italian? How could they navigate to the moon without calculus — invented by an Englishman and a German? (Note: Newton did it first; Leibniz did it better.) Without Modern Analytic Geometry — invented by the Frenchmen René Descartes and Pierre de Fermat — Newton and Leibniz wouldn’t have the tools to invent calculus in the first place.

As Newton said, If I have seen farther, it is only because I stood on the shoulders of giants. The United States of America finished a long endurance race that began millennia ago when a group of hominids — Homo erectus — discovered that putting meat and vegetables in fire made them more palatable and, unknowingly, more nutritious. Without that discovery, the moon would be nothing more than a bright source of light for a week out of the month to a bunch of bipedal hominids who don’t know what a month is.

The night before Apollo 11 returned to Earth Neil Armstrong signed off by saying:

The responsibility for this flight lies first with history and with the giants of science who have preceded this effort; next with the American people, who have, through their will, indicated their desire; next with four administrations and their Congresses, for implementing that will; and then, with the agency and industry teams that built our spacecraft, the Saturn, the Columbia, the Eagle, and the little EMU, the spacesuit and backpack that was our small spacecraft out on the lunar surface. We would like to give special thanks to all those Americans who built the spacecraft; who did the construction, design, the tests, and put their hearts and all their abilities into those craft. To those people tonight, we give a special thank you, and to all the other people that are listening and watching tonight, God bless you. Good night from Apollo 11.

Apollo 11 Trivia Quiz

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Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.