Best Zombie Movies Ever

Twinkies not included.

Zombieland 2: Double Tap opens this week and I have a feeling I’m not the only one hungry for Twinkies.  It’s been ten years since the first Zombieland and if the sequel does well, they’re talking about making a third one in another ten years.  In case you need more zombie goodness to tide you over until then, here are some of my favorite zombie movies.

Night of the Living Dead

George Romero pretty much created the genre with this 1968 cult classic.  Seven people are trapped in a farmhouse surrounded by a growing number of zombies.  The movie remains a classic of not only the horror genre, but of independent cinema as well.

“Are you down with the sickness?”

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Zack Snyder directed a remake of Romero’s loose sequel to Night of the Living Dead and managed to keep the satirical anti-consumerism theme intact.  This time, a group of strangers seek refuge inside a shopping mall, as zombies wander the streets.  The cast features Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames — and Ty Burrell, playing a much different character than fun-loving Dad Phil from Modern Family.  Be sure to stay through the  credits to learn the fate of the characters.

28 Days Later

This movie popularized the concept of fast zombies.  It also revived the popularity of zombie films.  In fact, I’d argue that the continued popularity of everything zombie-related in pop culture began with this movie in 2002.  This is also the movie that introduced Cillian Murphy to American audiences.  Unfortunately, a sequel (28 Weeks Later) proved to be less satisfying to audiences and critics.

Shaun of the Dead

In this comedy, a directionless Londoner is forced to take action to protect his family and friends when a zombie outbreak occurs.  This is the first of three films starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and directed by Edgar Wright that make up The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.  (Cornetto is a brand of ice cream popular in the UK.)  There are fun references to Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later, as well as other zombie films.

Body Snatchers

It’s a point of contention whether body snatcher films count as zombie movies or not.  I contend that they do.  They have plenty in common, including the mass spreading of infection.  This 1993 installment also features one of the main hallmarks of a true zombie movie: a bleak ending.  I’ve only seen this once, twenty-six years ago, but parts of it have stayed with me.

Resident Evil series

This is probably the longest-running movie franchise based on a video game.  The mileage may vary from one installment to the next.  I didn’t care for the first part, loved the second one, was disappointed by the third one, etc.  But the ones that are good are amazing with action scenes that are some of my favorites.  (Can we get Milla Jovovich in a John Wick movie please?)  The series tends to lean heavily on action (at the expense of scares) so if  you’re a horror purist, these may not be what you’re looking for.

World War Z

This is one of the few zombie movies that doesn’t just present zombies as a global epidemic but actually take you around the globe to witness it.  The scene where the zombies climb over the wall in Jerusalem is overwhelming.  Brad Pitt plays a former U.N. investigator trying to protect his family and find a way to stop the pandemic.

Iggy Pop as a zombie. You’re welcome.

The Dead Don’t Die

Director Jim Jarmusch fiercely divided critics and audiences with this recent zombie parody.  It features an all-star cast including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny,  Tilda Swinton, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, RZA, Rosie Perez, Carol Kane, Iggy Pop, and Selena Gomez.  It’s a very metaphysical film.  People tend to love it or hate it.  I loved it and found it to be rather humorous.

On my watch list:

Just to give you an idea of my blind spots and to add a few more titles to your own must-see list, here are the zombie movies I haven’t gotten around to yet:

Anna and the Apocalypse, Day of the Dead, Fido, Maggie, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Train to Busan, and Warm Bodies.

Don’t miss the funniest and scariest parts of your favorite movies.  Always use the RunPee app when you go to the movie theater.  We always have Peetimes for the latest movies including Joker and It: Chapter Two.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee/.

Movie Review – The Dead Don’t Die

Warm Bodies – movie review

Movie Review – World War Z

The Essential Will Smith

 

Gemini Man opens October 11.  The name Will Smith has become synonymous with  sci-fi action films.  Smith has had a long and varied career, even if his genre roles are my favorite.  I’ve been a fan of his since I was a kid.  Somewhere I have a Soundtracks cassette of eight-year-old me rapping (or attempting to)  “Parents Just Don’t Understand.”  (Once upon a time, kids, we paid to do karaoke and they gave us recordings of it.)  On the eve of Will Smith’s latest movie, let’s take a look at his most essential performances.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Will Smith’s first significant acting job was starring in this long-running sitcom.  He played a fish out of water who left a rough neighborhood in Philadelphia to live with his rich relatives in California after getting in a fight.  But you probably already knew that from the famous, catchy theme song.  I had loved Will aka The Fresh Prince for his novelty rap songs like “I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson.”  This show was what made him a household name though.

Six Degrees of Separation

This was one of Will Smith’s first movie roles and it proved he could play serious parts.  Smith’s character interrupts a rich couple’s dinner party claiming to be a friend of their Ivy League children.  He charms his way into their home but there may be more to him than there appears.  This movie, adapted from John Guare’s play, is the basis of the Kevin Bacon game aka Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.   (I can link Will to Kevin in 2 degrees.  Will Smith stars with Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black.  Tommy Lee Jones stars with Brad Pitt in Ad Astra.  Brad Pitt is in Sleepers with Kevin Bacon.)

Bad Boys

Will Smith joined fellow sitcom star Martin Lawrence for this action film where they play detectives.  The duo proved to be so popular that not only did they make a second movie, a third one is slated to come out next year and a fourth one is in pre-production.

Independence Day

Man, I miss 1996!

This blockbuster set a precedent for a while.  It just wasn’t summer without a Will Smith movie, most of them coming out on Fourth of July weekend.  Smith plays a military pilot who helps defend Earth against an alien attack.  The special effects may seem dated today, but at the time the White House getting blown up by a UFO was the coolest thing any of us had ever seen.  The movie became the highest-grossing film of 1996.  The following summer would see Smith working with aliens again.

Men in Black 

Don’t look at this or they’ll flashy-thing you.

Based on a comic book, this sci-fi comedy blockbuster paired Will Smith with Tommy Lee Jones.  They made for a winning team.  They play secret agents who are part of an organization that supervises alien lifeforms on Earth and hides their existence from humans.  The movie spawned three sequels and a cartoon series.

Ali

Smith plays boxer Muhammad Ali in this biopic.  His performance earned him his first Oscar nomination.  (I’m not going to discuss his second Oscar nomination for The Pursuit of Happyness.  If you want to see Smith in an inspirational role, watch The Legend of Bagger Vance instead.  It’s much less schmaltzy.)  Sadly, this is one of those films where the movie isn’t as good as the performance.  But it’s still worth seeing.  Will Smith becomes Muhammad Ali.

 

I Am Legend

I still feel like Smith was within a hair’s breadth of getting an Oscar nomination for this role.  You can feel his loneliness and isolation as the last man on earth after a zombie apocalypse.  The scene where he begs a mannequin to talk to him is SO GOOD!  This is easily one of my top films of 2007.  It’s a change from the more humorous sci-fi roles of ID4 and MIB.  This one’s more serious.  And he still rocks it.  It’s amazing how they were able to film/create an abandoned New York City, especially Times Square.

Focus

I love movies about con men.  And this one has Margot Robbie to boot.  Usually, Smith plays the hero.  It’s rare to see him play an antihero (like in Hancock).  This is a fun movie with some twists.

Concussion

Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu in this important film about how football can lead to brain damage.  He was nominated for a Golden Globe but snubbed by Oscar for his performance about a doctor who takes risks to do the right thing.  This underrated performance is one of his best roles.

Suicide Squad

Deadshot putting up with Harley.

There aren’t words for how bummed I am that Smith won’t be reprising his role as Deadshot for the new Suicide Squad movie.  He made a great antihero, a villain you cared about.  He was a badass but he was also a loving father and made both halves of that believable.  He also had great rapport with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.  My only consolation is that he’ll probably play someone equally badass in the Marvel Cinematic Universe eventually.

Aladdin

No one else will ever be Robin Williams.  However, Smith brought his own original spin to the role of the Genie.  It’s hard not to enjoy this new version of the classic.

Don’t miss the best parts of Gemini Man or any of your other favorite movies.  Always use the RunPee app to get Peetimes for the latest movies like Ad Astra, Joker, and the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

 

 

X-Men Movies That Were Never Made

 

dark phoenix xmen
Probably not the last X-Men movie, but it’s up to the studios.

Dark Phoenix hits DVD and Blu-ray on September 17.  It’s the final adventure for this cast of characters.  And it’s the next-to-last X-Men film we’ll see for a while, assuming The New Mutants eventually gets released.  There have been a LOT of X-Men movies, ranging from fair to awesome.  And then there are those that might have been.

Let’s take a look at days of future past with X-Men movies that were never made:

X-Men Origins: Magneto

Wolverine got his own spin-offs, so why not give one to the X-Men series’ most popular villain?  Sheldon Turner wrote a script set between 1939 and 1955.  It followed Magneto trying to survive in Auschwitz.  Xavier is a young soldier who helps liberate the camp.  Magneto tracks down and exacts vengeance on the Nazis who tortured him.  This quest for vengeance puts him at odds with Xavier.  While the film was eventually shelved, parts of it were absorbed into X-Men: First Class.

x-men gambit
We’re really waiting for Gambit’s movie.

Gambit

The fan favorite comic book character has only appeared in one X-Men movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he was played by Taylor Kitsch.  However, Channing Tatum was attached to star in a full-length Gambit film for years through several script changes, several changes of directors, and several release date changes.  After Disney acquired Fox, they finally cancelled the project.  All hope is not lost though.  Gambit may not get his own movie, but Marvel will probably bring him to life when they finally make their own X-Men movie(s).

Beast spinoff

Byron Burton wrote a script featuring Nicholas Hoult’s Hank McCoy (not Kelsey Grammar’s).  The film would have featured a mutant with a mutation similar to his own that was terrorizing an Inuit village.  It would also have featured a connection to Mr. Sinister from the comics.  And Beast would have been fighting alongside Wolverine in the final act.  However, that’s the reason it never got made.  Simon Kinberg, who was in charge of the X-Men film property, refused to even read the script as he had his own plans for bringing Wolverine back into the X-Men universe.

x-force deadpool
Deadpool says X-Force is a great name, since it’s gender neutral.

X-Force

X-Force is a team of superheroes often associated with the X-Men.  According to Wikipedia, they take a more militant and aggressive approach toward their enemies than the X-Men do.  Deadpool 2 featured a version of the X-Force.  However, the X-Force were slated to get their own violent, raunchy, R-rated movie similar to Deadpool.  Unfortunately, the X-Force movie was another casualty of the Disney-Fox merger.

Fox’s Marvel crossover movie

On Kevin Smith’s Youtube show Fatman Beyond, writer Zack Stentz revealed a project he’d been co-writing in 2011 that would have used every Marvel character that Fox owned at the time.  In addition to the X-Men, the movie would have featured The Fantastic Four, Deadpool, and Daredevil.  Paul Greengrass came close to directing it.  I wish Disney/Fox would publish/release the script for this unmade film because I’m so curious.  Stentz was a co-writer on Thor and X-Men: First Class.  I’d love to see what his take on these characters would be and how it differs from how others have portrayed them.  Plus, it would just be fun to see them all together.

What’s your superpower?  Ours is never missing the good parts of a movie.  Make sure to take the RunPee app with you every time you go to the movies.  We always have Peetimes for the latest movies including Spider-Man: Far From Home and IT: Chapter Two.  And you can stay up to date with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/RunPee/

Movie Review – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Every X-Men Film Explained

X-Men: Apocalypse (movie review)

X-Men: Days of Future Past – movie review

Movie review : X-Men First Class

 

 

 

Top 5 Space Travel Movies

 

gravity with sandra bullock and george clooney
Gravity, or lack thereof.

Ad Astra opens this week.  Starring Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones, it has plenty of Oscar potential.  Pitt plays an astronaut who travels through space to seek his missing father.

 In honor of this movie’s opening weekend, here are my top five space travel movies.

5.  The Right Stuff

This movie takes the fifth slot because it’s been the longest since I’ve seen it.  It’s based on Tom Wolfe’s non-fiction book about Mercury 7, the first crewed space flight by the U.S.  It boasts a cast that includes Dennis Quad, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard (Oscar nominated for his role), and Fred Ward.  Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert named it the best film of 1983.

4. Interstellar

I’m a huge Christopher Nolan fan.  This is his underrated space epic starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway.  In a dystopian future where Earth is becoming uninhabitable, a team of explorers travel through a wormhole to search for a new home for humanity.  This one gets emotional in that the astronauts have to say goodbye to their families in order to save them, with no promise of ever seeing them again.

3. Gravity

Alfonso Cuarón won Best Director for this survival story starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.  It also won Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.  Which is fitting because the movie makes you feel like you are there.  I saw this one on an IMAX screen and it was like being on a thrill ride.  Sandra Bullock got an Oscar nomination for her knockout performance.

2. First Man 

Damien Chazelle makes movies about the price of ambition.  This biopic focuses on Neil Armstrong and what it took to achieve the Apollo 11 moon landing.  This film is notable for its realistic scenes of rocket travel.  It features sound editing and special effects that put you inside the rocket next to Ryan Gosling, from the very first scene.

1. 2001 : A Space Odyssey 

My mom bought me a Stanley Kubrick boxed set for Christmas when I was in college and this was my favorite film in the set.  Kubrick set the bar for the space epic with his adaptation of the Arthur C. Clarke novel.  It follows mankind from the beginning of time to the future.  And it features one of the most famous computers in cinema history:  H.A.L. 9000.  I got to watch this with a live orchestra providing the soundtrack and it was awesome.  I always try to catch this one when it plays on a big screen.  All of these selections should be seen on the big screen when/if possible for maximum effect.

I know, I know.  Apollo 13 isn’t on the list.  Sorry, but I feel like it’s one of the overrated movies of my generation.  Maybe I’ll give it another watch one day and reassess it. [Editor note:  Apollo 13 is in my top 10 films ever and my rewatches never get old…]

Honorable Mentions

The Martian

This would probably be in my sixth slot.  It was hard to leave it off the list.  Like Gravity, this is another tale of survival.  Matt Damon plays an astronaut stranded on Mars who must find a way to survive until Earth can send a rescue mission.  Based on the novel by Andy Weir, the movie gets bonus points for using actual science. [Ed note: okay, you are redeeming yourself a little here.]

October Sky

This biopic tells the story of NASA engineer Homer Hickam as a teenager.  Jake Gyllenhaal plays the son of a coal miner who is inspired to take up rocket science by the Sputnik launch.  Chris Cooper (always good!) plays his disapproving father.  Laura Dern is the inspiring teacher who helps Homer and his friends build and launch model rockets.

Hidden Figures

Or, as my poor forgetful father dubbed it after calling me three times to ask the name of it, Feelings For Numbers.    The movie tells the story of three black female mathematicians who worked for NASA during the Space Race, especially during Project Mercury.  Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, and Octavia Spencer give inspiring performances in this important and uplifting film.  The movie also features one of my favorite recent Kevin Costner performances.

 

The Downlow on Sci Fi movie breaks:

Don’t get stranded in the middle of the latest sci-fi film.  Remember to take the RunPee app with you so you don’t miss any of the good parts of the movie.  We have Peetimes for all the latest movies and we add new movies every week.  You can also get the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

Movie Review – Ad Astra

Movie Review – Hidden Figures

Movie Review – First Man

11 Raunchy Comedies You Should Watch Now

superbad actors and seth rogen
Superbad is Supergood. And super raunchy!

The extremely R-rated Good Boys is helping close out the summer movie season this week.  I’ve been looking forward to Good Boys for months, ever since the trailer dropped.  They had me at Jacob Tremblay.  What could be more wickedly subversive than casting the sweet little boy from Room and Wonder in a teen sex comedy?

If you’re also chomping at the bit to see Good Boys, here’s something to help tide you over.  It’s a list of my favorite raunchy comedies.

The Kentucky Fried Movie

The title of the movie is a misnomer as it has nothing to do with The Bluegrass State.  This is an early film from the minds that would go on to make Airplane and The Naked Gun series.  The movie is composed of a series of sketches, the film’s centerpiece being a parody of kung-fu films.  I recently got to witness my girlfriend’s reactions to the movie as she watched it online.  For a movie made in the ’70s, a lot of the humor and shock value stand up.

 

 

Mallrats

It was difficult choosing which Kevin Smith film to include on this list.  Clerks was groundbreaking and battled against censorship.  Chasing Amy and Dogma are dear to my heart.  I adore Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back but it’s not as iconic as Mallrats to me.  And while Clerks 2 is certainly offensive, it’s not as classic.  There’s just something about the running gags in Mallrats that I really love.  (“Like the back of a Volkswagen?”)  From the fortune teller to the chocolate pretzels, there are plenty of raunchy moments.

There’s also a Stan Lee cameo before that kind of thing became common.  And he gets a speech.  And it’s a good one.

 

 

There’s Something About Mary

By the time I saw this one, most of the best laughs had been ruined by previews or my friends.  However, screenwriting guru Robert McKee gave me a new appreciation for the opening scene.  He used as an example in his comedy writing seminar.

Ben Stiller’s character goes to pick up his prom date and while in the bathroom, he gets stuck in his zipper.  The Farrelly Brothers take what could be a one-note throw-away gag and turn it into comedy gold.  I forget exactly how the scene goes.  But more and more neighbors keep stopping by the house or passing by the window and trying to help, just making Stiller’s embarrassment that much worse.  The stuck zipper is like a laugh button.  And every time another character shows up, the Farrelly’s press it.

Watch the scene and you’ll see what I mean.  They milk about seventeen laughs from the audience out of a single gag.  (And just when you think you’re safe, they actually cut to a shot of it!  So gross!)  Definitely a masterclass in writing raunchy comedy.

Plus, the end credits has one of the most joyous sing-alongs of any movie.

 

 

Superbad

This is the Judd Apatow produced forefather to Good Boys.  If you haven’t seen it, I don’t want to ruin the joys of it for you.  Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Christipher Mintz-Plasse are hilarious in this teen comedy about friendship, and trying to acquire booze for a party.  This movie introduced Emma Stone to the world.

Seth Rogen and Bill Hader play possibly two of the worst cops in history.  This is the movie my ex-girlfriend took me to right before she dumped me, and I still love it.

 

 

 

Booksmart

Booksmart is Superbad for smart girls.  Two brainiacs try to cram four years worth of partying into one night before they head off to college.  Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein bring the funny in Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut.

This is one of my new favorite comedies.  It didn’t get a fair shake in the theaters and I hope it gets embraced on digital, streaming, etc.  The drug and sex jokes are funny, but even the innocent stuff, like just watching their nerdy dancing on the way to school, made me laugh so hard.

 

 

The Sweetest Thing

Selma Blair has several moments in this film that still make me laugh just to think of them.  Only Christina Applegate and Cameron Diaz would be good enough sports to round out the cast for a romantic sex comedy like this.  This movie really must be seen to be believed.

Below is an impromptu musical number from the film.  It is NSFW.

 

 

A Dirty Shame

I’ve only seen a few John Waters’ films.  This one again features Selma Blair as a promiscuous character that Waters saddled with a giant pair of fake breasts.  Which is really all you need to know about the film.  It deals in sexual extremes.  Waters tried to fit as many sexual fetishes into the movie as he could.

I only saw this once in the theater 15 years ago.  But I remember laughing hard the entire time.  PSA: This is the only movie on this list with an NC-17 rating.

 

 

American Pie

First things first: parts of this movie haven’t aged well.  Privacy and consent are very important, everyone.  That aside, this movie is still dear to me and reminds me what it felt like to be a teenager.  The screenwriter abstained from masturbating while he was writing the script, so he’d feel the characters’ frustration. 

This movie introduced most of America to the term “MILF” and popularized the phrase “This one time, in band camp…

 

 

EuroTrip

This lesser American Pie wannabe makes the list for one major reason:  an early surprise cameo from Matt Damon singing the cruel, heartbreaking, and utterly catchy “Scotty Doesn’t Know”, during which Scotty finds out his girlfriend is cheating on him.  It’s a totally rewindable moment that redeems the whole film.

 

 

 

Austin Powers: Goldmember

The Austin Powers trilogy concludes with this film.  It’s my favorite for several reasons.  It has the star-studded Austin Powers parody/film-within-a-film that includes John Travolta and Danny DeVito among others.  It also features Michael Caine and a young Beyonce.

All the sex jokes and scatalogical humor are there as well.  The first two movies are fun entrees, but this is pure dessert.

 

 

Bridesmaids

What a gift Bridesmaids is!  It really set Melissa McCarthy‘s movie career on fire.  And it gave us Chris O’Dowd.  The dress shop scene proves women can do gross out comedy just as well as the men.

 

Don’t miss the funniest, most shocking parts of your favorite comedies.  Get the RunPee app.  We’ve always got Peetimes for the latest movies, so you’ll never miss the raunchiest scenes.

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Movie Review – Booksmart – Whipsmart Nerd High School Anthem

Quiz – Melissa McCarthy – The Funniest Woman in Hollywood

The Top Six Richard Linklater Movies You Need To Watch Now

The Essential Tarantino – What to watch before Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The Top Six Richard Linklater Movies to See Before Where’d You Go Bernadette

boyhood movie shots
Boyhood. What an amazing feat of cinematic genius.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette opens this week.  While it’s not Richard Linklater’s first commercial film (Bad News Bears, School of Rock), it does appear to be wholly unlike anything else he’s ever done.

I’ve been following Linklater for a while and he’s one of my favorite filmmakers.  Below is a list of my favorite Linklater movies.  (Note: This is not The Essential Richard Linklater.  Because then I’d have to include Dazed and Confused.  Sorry, that one’s just overrated to me.)

 

 

Boyhood

Linklater pulled off one of the most amazing feats in cinema history with this one.  We get to watch a boy grow up over the course of the film.  And he’s played by the same actor at every age!  Linklater had the patience to shoot the scenes once a year or once every few years throughout Ellar Coltrane’s life.

The fact that he was able to do this with the same cast over a period of twelve years without the world finding out is amazing.  (And without anyone dying, quitting, etc.)  This movie was such a beautiful surprise when it came out and remains a gift to the world.

 

 

The Before Trilogy

In 1995, Linklater made one of the essential 90s romances, Before Sunrise.  It features Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy killing time together and falling in love, before having to part ways.  If that was all he’d ever made, it would stand alone as a beautiful, unique, romantic film.

Instead, he made a sequel nearly a decade later called Before Sunset where the two meet up again in Paris while Hawke is on a book tour.  They are each spoken for, but the spark is still there.  Again, if these two bookends were all there is to the story, it would be enough.

But then the artists reunited to make Before Midnight.  The final film in the trilogy deals with love and family at midlife, and all the complications that come with them.

 

Slacker

Slacker was Linklater’s debut film.  It’s a meandering piece where the camera follows an odd assortment of characters through a Texas town, moving from one interaction to the next, never returning to any of the storylines.  It probably sits somewhere at the intersection of Robert Altman and David Lynch.  One of the film’s most famous moments involves a woman being arrested as someone passes by, musing, “I know her.  She was in my ethics class.”

 

 

 

Waking Life

Waking Life is a documentary where the film cells were painted over/animated.  It features Wiley Wiggins trying to determine if he is awake or in a dream state as he encounters various talking heads.  It’s a visually beautiful film that is philosophical and haunting.

 

 

School of Rock

This is probably Linklater’s most accessible film.  A substitute teacher turns a classroom full of children into a rock band to try to win a local Battle of the Bands competition.  Jack Black gives one of his best performances without going over the top.  Writer Mike White who also cameos delivers a great story.  So great in fact, that Andrew Lloyd Weber turned it into a stage musical.  It works surprisingly well.  This is a great feel-good movie.

 

 

Everybody Wants Some

This movie is about the members of a college baseball team bonding together at the start of the school year in the 1980s.  It’s sort of an older cousin to Dazed and Confused. The main character, Jake (Blake Jenner), is figuring out who he wants to be.  This comedy was the first movie I watched after my grandfather’s death and I remember it lifting my spirits with its goofy charm.

 

 

It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock’n’roll.  It’s also a long wait to go to the bathroom if you’re gonna white knuckle it until the end credits.

Don’t do that to yourself. Get the RunPee app  (click on the header on top for info) and get some relief without missing any of the good parts of your favorite movies.  We add all the latest movies every week.  You can also keep up with all the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee/.

Movie Review – Where’d You Go, Bernadette

The Essential Tarantino – What to watch before Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

11 Raunchy Comedies You Should Watch Now

 

Why Avatar Deserves to be the Number 1 Movie Over Avengers: Endgame

Na'vi girl in avatar
It’s not easy being Blue…

With Avengers: Endgame passing Avatar to become the highest grossing movie of all time, I’ve recently gotten into a lot of heated debates with my friends as to why I think Avatar is more deserving of #1.

So I’m going to tell you — in a more calm manner than I do my friends — why I think Avatar is still Number 1.

Avatar Revolutionized Film-Making

The first thing we can’t ignore is that Avatar pushed new boundaries for film-making when it came out. Avatar revolutionized the visual effects industry with its ground-breaking CGI…which still looks amazing 10 years later.

Don’t get me wrong — if you know what to look for, you can easily spot where they took shortcuts with the effects. For example, how several of the wildlife creatures are sleek and black…meaning they didn’t have to render a lot of texture on the skin. But all of it still looks spectacular.

With Avengers: Endgame, while the CGI is on a technical level better than Avatar, doesn’t push it to the next level, and still looks on par for Avatar.

If you put these two movies side by side, it would be hard to tell whose CGI is better.

Anvengers endgame superheroes
However, we DO know everyone’s name here…

Better Characters? Or Just More of Them?

Now let’s talk about the characters. It’s been a joke for a while now that people can’t name a single character from Avatar, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have good characters. The actors give great performances to bring them to life, and you feel genuinely sad when someone dies.

Now of course Avengers: Endgame has superb characters: that much can’t be denied, but the main reason we feel so bad when someone dies in Endgame is because we have seen these characters on screen for quite some time. Endgame wasn’t just a one and done, it built up over 20+ films. Avatar had to build its characters in one go. And this leads nicely into my next point…

Avengers: Endgame didn’t come out of the blue with Marvel expecting it to flop. It came out a hit from the beginning. Book-ending 11 years worth of movies Endgame had so many people behind it already. Avatar had Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel come out a week after it, because Fox thought Avatar would flop. Not even Fox backed up Avatar.

And one small extra point: both of these movies came out a second time with additional features in the movie theaters. But generally everyone agrees that Avengers: Endgame extra content sucked, while Avatar came out with essentially a Directors Cut of the film, which just made it better. 

avatar na'vi man and woman
You have to admit, they look good together.

The World Building is Unmatched in Avatar, Comparatively

Now my favorite part: the world building. The world building on Avatar is done extremely well. Watching the movie, you learn about these alien creatures, what happened to Earth, how the tribe works, how their lives work, and so much more.

In Avengers: Endgame, while yes, there is some world building done through the characters, at the end of the day it’s Earth, it’s New York. You understand it’s being destroyed, but if you want to know what happens after that — and to get more of the world building you have to turn to other Marvel associated content.

For example: you don’t know what happened to clean up New York in 2012 unless you watch a special they released, shortly after the original Avengers film. In Avatar, once the tree is destroyed you see the aftermath; you see where the Na’vi go to hide; you see what happens. There are some questions left unanswered, but at least I only have to wait until 2021 to get some answers, where as with Marvel I have to watch every TV show they have to figure it out. [Editor’s note: the TV shows are optional, you know — you don’t even need to see Agents of SHIELD, unless you’re a huge Agent Coulson fan…]

thanos in avengers endgame with his sword
Seriously. Is that a sword or a helicopter propeller?

What About…the Plot? And the Villains?

And, of course I have to bring up the last point I hear all the time…the plot. I constantly hear Avatar’s plot is basic and boring. Which I don’t understand; both movies basically have the same plot.

It’s just that in one, the bad guy is greedy and want to destroy nature to get to minerals to fill his greed…and in the other you have the villain who wants to control the population, and kills half of the living organisms in his way. Both of these villains are the same. Both are so blinded by their own ways that they wreck everything else in their way.

And besides that, it’s your standard good vs. bad scenario. It’s nothing new, but when you watch these movies you get so invested in what’s going on. As far as I’m concerned, the plots follow the same beats, just like every other movie ever. 

Really. Both are Winners.

Listen, at the end of the day both of these movies are fantastic, and both have their flaws. But you can’t deny the impact and influence Avatar has had on movies.

Everything I said just either agreed with one person or pissed off another; there’s nothing I can do about that. But I do invite everyone to comment below with your counter arguments, or even just your thoughts.

Avengers: Endgame Re-Release Extra Footage Explained

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

Avengers Bests Avatar at Box Office – But Avatar Is Still #1 in My Heart

Movie review : Avatar

Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

Top Five Movies about the Civil War

Cold Mountain Civil War Movie
This is exactly no one’s idea of fun. But the Civil War made for some great films.

What makes a great American Civil War movie? The battles, the politics, the inhumanity of slavery, brother against brother, the great generals of both sides, the personal sides of war, families being torn apart, or all of the above?

The movies I’ve listed contain all or most of the issues listed above, and are in no particular order. Enjoy, for an excellent Civil War oriented binge watch (or re-watch) over your favorite American holidays.

Cold Mountain: (2003)
IMDb score: 7.2
Winner of 1 Oscar. Another 19 wins & 101 nominations
Starring: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, and Natalie Portman.

Cold Mountain contains no extended battle scenes, but relies heavily on emotions and personal conflict.

Lincoln: (2012)
IMDb score: 7.4
Winner of two Oscars. Another 108 wins & 245 nominations.
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, James Spader, and Tommy Lee Jones.

Lincoln leans heavily on the politics of the war, especially in the decision to emancipate the slaves. Here’s our review of this A+ film.

Gettysburg: (1993)
IMDb score: 7.7
Jeff Daniels was nominated for Best Supporting Actor by the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times said of Gettysburg“This is a film that Civil War buffs will find indispensable, even if others might find it interminable.” I’ve seen the movie several times, and have personally walked the battlefields of Gettysburg, from Little Round Top to Pickett’s Charge. So I can enthusiastically recommend Gettysburgnot only for it’s historical accuracy but for also bringing the soldiers from both sides to life in a spectacular way.

Glory: (1989)
IMDb score: 7.9
Winner of three Oscars, Glory was Densel Washington’s first Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Also, Glory received 14 other wins & another 18 nominations.

This was the first major motion picture to tell the story of black U.S. soldiers fighting for their freedom from slavery during the Civil War. Everything about this movie was done on a grand scale, including hiring Shelby Foote as a technical adviser.

Foote later became well known for his contributions to Ken Burns’ The Civil War, a nine episode documentary in 1990, which I highly, highly recommend.

 

The Conspirator: (2010)
IMDb score: 6.9
Directed by Robert Redford

The Conspirator is the story of Mary Surratt, the only female conspirator charged in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first woman to be executed by the U.S. Federal Government. This alone is enough to make the list, but also for the uniqueness of the crime. Great movie.

Movie Review – Lincoln – An A+ Presidential Biography

Movie Review – They Shall Not Grow Old

Movie Review – A Private War

 

 

 

10 Most Exciting Scenes (with video clips) from the Fast and The Furious Franchise

I just watched the entire Fast and the Furious oeuvre, and here are my Top 10 Favorite F&F Action Scenes. It’s listed from top to bottom, with Number 1 being the BEST scene. Agree, disagree? Comment below which scenes you thought were most exciting after viewing the clips here. I could have easily added another half dozen scenes.

#10 — Fast Five: Opening Scene (1:13)

My only problem with this scene was seeing the bus rolling over, and over, and over, thinking: ummmmm, you know you might have just killed the guy you were trying to rescue, right? 🙂

#9 — Fate of the Furious: Havana Race Scene (5:18)

So ridiculously over the top. How can you not love it?

#8 — Fast and Furious 4: Gas Scene (7:00)

Driving under the tanker full of gas at the very end: that’s something Riddick would do.

#7 — Fast and Furious 4: Kidnapping Braga (Desert Escape) Scene (6:45)

Cars, crashes, humor, and video game level action.

#6 — Fast and Furious 6: Ending Plane Chase Scene (5:28)

Gisel sacrificing herself for Han. This was the first dramatic death in the franchise. Ouch! (No, Letty’s death scene doesn’t count, because we knew that wasn’t going to stick.)

#5 — Fast and Furious 7: Bus Rescue Scene (6:14)

Just another day at the office for these guys.

#4 — Fast Five: Stealing the Vault Scene (6:10)

This was the first scene in the franchise that my wife and I really reacted to. It was just fun to watch that much carnage, no matter how impossible it is for those cars to pull that vault that fast.

#3 — Fast and Furious 7: Car Jump Scene (3:45)

This scene was made all the better by setting up the “Dom, cars don’t fly,” line from Brian, earlier in the movie.

#2 — Fate of the Furious: Zombie Cars Scene (5:10)

OMG. This was brilliant. Forget the fact that it doesn’t work this way. This is F&F; go with it.

#1 — Fate of the Furious: Baby Rescue Scene (5:35)

This was such an adorable scene. No one could have pulled this off better than Jason Statham, other than maybe Dwayne Johnson. Yeah, he could have done it as good, or better. Hey, these two should make an action movie together. That would be the best! 😉

What do you think? What’s your Top 10 F& F chase scenes??

Hobbs & Shaw’s Backstory from Fast and the Furious

Fast & Furious 1 & 4 Is Really ONE MOVIE

Fast and the Furious – Furious 7 Movie Review

Lion King – Animated vs Broadway vs Live Action

live action lion king with baby simba
It’s the Circle of life. (Sniff!)

The “live action” (actually CGI, folks) remake of The Lion King is hitting theaters.  This new version of the Disney 1994 classic features significant differences.  Now is a great time to return to Pride Rock — and revisit Simba, Nala, Timon, Pumbaa, Mufasa, Zazu, and Rafiki — as we compare the animated, Broadway, and the live action versions of The Lion King.

The Animated Version of The Lion King

In the summer of 1994, Disney released The Lion King.  It was the fifth film in the Disney renaissance that started with The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.  It was also the first Disney animated film that featured an original story, and not an adaptation of an existing property.  Although it does have strong similarities to the play Hamlet….(link goes to our cool comparison post).

Elton John and Tim Rice wrote the award-winning songs for the soundtrack. Remember Hakuna Matata, and Can You Feel the Love Tonight?   Hans Zimmer himself composed the score.

The movie was a true critical and box office success!

hakuna matata log scene from lion king with simba, timon, and pumbaa
Hakuna matata, forever!

Synopsis of The Lion King (Spoilers)

The film starts with a young lion cub named Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), heir to his father Mufasa’s throne.

All three versions of The Lion King open with the song “The Circle of Life” with the mandrill Rafiki (Robert Guillaume) presenting newborn Simba to the animal kingdom, who bow in reverence.

Simba’s uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons) murders Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and blames Simba for it, sending him into exile and taking over the throne.  Simba forms a new family with free spirits Meerkat Timon (Nathan Lane) and Warthog Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), who rescue him in the desert.  He embraces their philosophy of “Hakuna Matata” (No Worries).

Time passes.  Simba’s friend and love interest Nala (Moira Kelly) goes in search of him, and finds adult Simba (Matthew Broderick).  They fall in love (“Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”)  Nala tells him the Pride Lands are in ruin and everyone is starving under Scar’s reign.  She urges him to return home.

Simba refuses and storms off, unable to tell Nala he “killed” Mufasa.  Simba runs into Rafiki, who tells him his father’s spirit lives on in him.  Simba is visited by Mufasa’s spirit, who tells him he must take his rightful place as king (the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Panther has this concept too, and is also from Disney Studios…hmmmm).

Unable to run anymore, Simba returns home.  Timon and Pumbaa distract the hyenas so Simba can get to Scar.  When Scar thinks he has Simba cornered, he confesses to murdering Mufasa.  Simba pins him to the ground and forces him to confess this out loud to everyone.  Like all Disney villains, Scar ends up getting what he deserves.  Simba takes his rightful place as king with Nala as his queen.  The last scene is of Rafiki presenting their own newborn cub.

The lion king broadway poster
See The Lion King on Broadway, or at Disneyworld, if you ever get the chance!

The Broadway Version of The Lion King

In 1997, Disney brought the Lion King to Broadway.  Beauty and the Beast was still going strong as a musical, so why not adapt one of their other biggest hits for the stage?  Indeed.

From the very start, Lion King was getting rave reviews and selling out. It won six Tonys, including Best Musical.  It is Broadway’s third-longest running show, and the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time.  It made over a billion dollars.  Julie Taymor became the first woman to win Best Director of a Musical.

One of the most significant differences between the Broadway version of — and the other versions of — The Lion King is the appearance of the animals.

Animation is not an option for a live theatrical Broadway performance.  Instead, Julie Taymor designed elaborate costumes — most of them based on puppetry — that create not only the illusion of the animals, but the grace of their movements.

Having seen the show at least five times, I can tell you the effect is breathtaking.  It is the kind of creative risk one wishes Disney would take more of.

rafiki in the lion king broadway musical
Rafiki in the Lion King Broadway musical

Another significant difference is that Rafiki was changed to female, and the role is now traditionally played by a woman on stage.  According to the Wikipedia, Taymor believed there was no leading female character in the film.  Rafiki becomes a sort of Greek chorus in the musical.  She actually leads the song, “The Circle of Life” at the top of the show.

New Lion King Songs in the Broadway Musical

Musicals are generally longer than the average Disney cartoon.  So material had to be added to flesh out the show.  Significant new songs included Zazu’s pun-filled “Morning Report,” Mufasa’s powerful explanation of ancestors “They Live in You,”  Rafiki’s reprise to Simba about Mufasa “He Lives in You,” and Simba’s lament “Endless Night.”

Other new songs written for the musical include:  “Grasslands Chant,” “The Lioness Hunt,” “Chow Down,” “Rafiki Mourns,” “One by One,” “The Madness of King Scar,” “Shadowland,” and “Simba Confronts Scar.”

The book was written by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi, along with additional music and lyrics by Lebo MMark MancinaJay RifkinJulie Taymor, and Hans Zimmer.

Rafiki’s chants in “Rafiki Mourns” were written by Tsidii Le Loka, who originated the role on Broadway.  Of course, favorites from the animated movie such as “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” remain intact.

The Lion King musical also includes new scenes:

There is a conversation between Zazu and Mufasa about his parenting.  Timon nearly drowns in a waterfall while Simba watches, paralyzed.  This is an event that helps remind him of who he is and the power he has.  Nala departs from Scar when he tries to make her his queen in “The Madness of King Scar.”  She announces her intention to leave home and find help.  During new song “Shadowland”, the other lionesses and Rafiki bless her.

Meerkat Timon and Warthog Pumbaa in the Lion King Broadway musical
Meerkat Timon and Warthog Pumbaa in the Lion King Broadway musical

Of course, there were new actors playing the roles when the show debuted on Broadway.  The one I felt was especially cool was Max Casella, originating the role of Timon on-stage.  Those of you from my generation may remember him as Vinnie, Neil Patrick Harris’s best friend on Doogie Howser, M.D.

The Live Action Version of The Lion King

It is now 2019 and Disney has gone a little remake crazy. (Done or coming next: The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, Mulan, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid.)  Then again, after seeing the promos that show the photo-realistic Circle of Life sequence, a live action Lion King kind of feels irresistible.

I should start off by saying “live action” is a misnomer.  Even though we’re all using this expression, the animals are actually computer generated animation.

A few things the new Lion King has in common with the original:  James Earl Jones is again the voice of Mufasa (as well he should be).  And Rafiki is male again.

Like the Broadway version, the new movie includes The Tokens’ classic pop song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”  The Broadway song, “He Lives In You” is also represented.  “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” are, of course, highlights of the film.

The movie also boasts a few new songs.  Beyonce contributed a song called “Spirit” and Elton John wrote a new song called “Never Too Late” — which plays over the credits.

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s new version of “Be Prepared” is reported to be toothless compared to the original Jeremy Irons version.  Which is ironic, because his version of Scar is angrier and scarier, according to reviews.  He even fought Mufasa for the crown and lost: a new addition to the villain’s back story.

The visuals in the new movie are beautiful.  This is constant across all versions of The Lion King.  The sets on Broadway are amazing.  The look of the original animated film is still dazzling.  (If they ever do another IMAX re-release or even just a theatrical re-release, I highly recommend it.)

According to critics, the new movie fails in two key areas:

One is that by making the film photo-realistic, the characters and the world are now bound by the constraints of reality.  For instance, you can’t have a massive animal pile-up at the climax of “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” or an army of hyenas during “Be Prepared.”

The 1994 film wasn’t bound by such constraints.  The Broadway musical gets around this by using a combination of inventive costumes and set pieces, stage magic, and the participation of the audience.  When you’re watching a play, you fill in things with your own imagination.  You’re an active participant in the process.

When you watch a movie, you’re more passive.  You don’t get to co-create the experience with the filmmaker.

The second flaw with the new movie is the limited range of expression the animals have.  Again, this is a problem with setting the movie in a photo-realistic world.  In animation and theater, you can get away with going over the top.  In theater, you have to play to the back row.  However, to accurately portray how an animal looks, you can’t exaggerate its features.

And Timon and Pumbaa? 

The good news is that Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) steal the show here (as they do in pretty much every version).  Some critics claim they’re even more fun in this version than in the original.

*****

Don’t forget to bring the RunPee app to The Lion King

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Aladdin –  Animated vs Stage vs Live Action

The Lion King – Can Disney Remake a Masterpiece?

Surprise! The Lion King is a Hamlet Remake

Character voices for Lion King