Rewatch Movie Review – The Princess Bride (plus the top quotable quotes)

the princess bride from 1987
Probably the most quotable movie ever.

I know every quote in The Princess Bride. Many old geeks like me do. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this classic spoof fantasy. I introduced it to my mother tonight. She enjoyed seeing all the well-known actors in their younger days, especially Fred Savage, who is so young here it hurts.

And by the way, have you seen the 2018 spoof of this spoof with Fred Savage and Deadpool? (That’s a topic for another review.)

The Princess Bride (made in 1987) holds up astoundingly well over time. It looks great. The scenery, the costumes, the sets: all great. The acting is well meaning and fun, providing a really good tale that also sends up the fantasy genre. It’s a fantasy movie the way Spaceballs and Galaxy Quest are to science fiction: parody films that are satisfying in their own right.

It also features one of the best sword fight scenes I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how much fencing and dueling Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin studied, but it looked great. I assume their banter about sword fighting styles was accurate.

Great fun…and a little bit bittersweet

Every actor seemed to have a blast. While some actors got to be super playful in their roles, I could tell even the ‘straight men’ had fun. It’s too bad Robin Wright didn’t get to cut up a little, but no one ever said being the eponymous character is easy.

It was a little sad to see the beloved Peter Faulk and Andre the Giant alive onscreen, knowing they weren’t around to see the Deadpool callback last year. I also had to translate everything Andre said to my mother this evening, since I guess she doesn’t speak Giant. Since I know every line (literally — don’t you?), I forget that he had a speech impediment. I only see a gigantic sweethearted soul.

We also lost The Princess Bride novel author William Goldman in 2018 (the original book is wonderful BTW), the brilliant mind behind yet another classic film: Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.

Memorable Quotes from The Princess Bride

I can’t begin to cover all of them. The whole movie is made of great quotes. Here’s a few that stand out: 

My way’s not very sportsmanlike.

Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says different is trying to sell something.

Is this a kissing book?

Inconceivable!

You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.

Get used to disappointment.

You mean you’ll put down your rock and I’ll put down my sword and we’ll try to kill each other like civilized people, is that it?

To the pain!

With the two most well-known Princess Bride quotes:

As you wish. (The nicest way to say I love you.)

And the one everyone knows. Say it with me now: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

 

A true classic.

I can’t give The Princess Bride anything less than an A+. It’s still beautiful, funny, romantic, touching, and a complete joy to watch anew. It’s one of the best fantasies ever, and the scenes with Fred Savage and Peter Faulk feature the most amusing story bookends ever filmed.

(Until Fred Savage reprised his own role in The Deadpool Before Christmas, of course.)

Movie Grade: A+


Movie Review – Once Upon A Deadpool

Two Must See Science Fiction Spoof Film Documentaries (plus: the most ‘inconceivable’ parody of a spoof)

Never Surrender – A Galaxy Quest Retrospective

 

The Trouble With Doctor Dolittle

DoLittle

Dolittle is Robert Downey Jr.’s first movie to be released after his triumphant turn as Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame.  (C’mon, Academy.  Don’t let me down.  Nominate him!)  Unfortunately, the trailer looks less than stellar.  In fact, Hollywood doesn’t have the best record when it comes to adaptations of Hugh Lofting’s children’s book character who talks to animals.  So let’s take a deeper look at the trouble with Doctor Dolittle.

Doctor Dolittle (1967)

Rex Harrison starred in this musical movie adaptation.  The production suffered numerous setbacks and difficulties especially because of the large numbers of animals required for the film.  The movie went over budget.  It received mixed to negative reviews.  It bombed at the box office.  Yet due to intense lobbying by the studio, the movie received a Best Picture nomination.  One it does not deserve.  While I’ve never seen the movie, the general consensus from those who have is that it’s a long slog at two and a half hours.  It certainly doesn’t belong in a class with Best Picture winner In the Heat of the Night and fellow nominees Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

Dr. Dolittle (1998)

Eddie Murphy starred as Dolittle in this genuinely funny adaptation.  Along with The Nutty Professor and Mulan, this movie is part of his amazing ’90s comeback.  Critics gave the movie mixed reviews but it was a box office success.  Featuring celebrity voices such as Norm McDonald, Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jenna Elfman, and Gilbert Gottfried as the animals, the movie was a fun summer romp.

Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001)

This one’s un-bear-able.

Eddie Murphy returned for this less funny, less entertaining sequel.  Dolittle tries to help a bear (voiced by Steve Zahn) mate.  Again, the movie received mixed reviews but was a box office hit.

Dolittle Sequels

Kyla Pratt, who plays Murphy’s daughter in the first two films, took over the lead role in three direct-to-video sequels.  I honestly didn’t know they made any more after Dr. Dolittle 3.  With titles like Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief and Million Dollar Mutts, you can probably guess at the quality and target audience of these movies.

Dolittle (2020)

There have been many rumors of a troubled production with the latest adaptation.  Reportedly, tensions became strained between director Stephen Gaghan and Robert Downey Jr. to the point that Downey would only respond to him with monkey noises.  According to a now deleted Reddit post by someone claiming to have worked on the set, the filmmakers began filming scenes before they had planned where the animals would be standing.  According to this same source, Gaghan also wanted to fire the pre-visual animation department and just sort of wing it on the day of shooting.   None of this bodes well for the new film.  Hollywood loves breathing new life into old properties but maybe it’s time to finally close the book on Doctor Dolittle.

From Eddie Murphy to Robert Downey Jr., don’t miss your favorite star’s best movie moments!

Movie review : Zookeeper

Golden Man’s Movie Review – Jojo Rabbit

2019 Peeple’s Poll Movies – Year in Review

 

Star Wars Revealed: Obi-Wan Kenobi is a lying liar who lies

obi-wan kenobi in star wars
Watch his eyes. Old Ben is lying to you right now.

I just finished a rewatch of every Star Wars movie in preparation for Rise of Skywalker, the last Star Wars entry chronicling the extended tribe of Skywalkers. But what happened to the Kenobis? (I still hold out “hope” that Rey is a Kenobi, somehow.)

Well, we do know old Ben became a Force Ghost, although calling that version of him “more powerful than you could possibly imagine” is a real stretch. As RunPee Dan amusingly put it, Kenobi became little more than a Jedi Whisperer.

So it’s not clear in what way he became more powerful, even a little bit. Yoda seemed to stay reasonably powerful (he destroys the Jedi Tree of Knowledge, after all), or at least, he’s still actively in the game. Obi-Wan is simply…gone. So was he lying? Exaggerating? Trying to get Anakin’s goat?

It became clear in my rewatch that Kenobi likes to lie, and does it as easy as breathing. He excuses himself, saying, “I told you the truth, from a certain point of view,”…but really? If he wanted, he could rationalize away any of the “truths we cling to” if they’re too complicated to actually explain.

Here are a few more lies that could possibly be truths if you wave your hands around long enough to Force-wipe the weak-minded:

  • “I don’t seem to remember ever owning a droid.” I guess technically R2 was Padme’s droid. But he and Obi-Wan should be on speaking beeping terms, at least.  They spent YEARS working together in the prequel trilogy. And for that matter, Obi-Wan also worked with C-3PO. But while Threepio had a memory wipe (which excuses him from not remembering his Maker), Artoo was never wiped. They make a point of this. R2 could have told Luke in Binary that…oh, he used to fly with Luke’s mother and that Darth Vader was his DAD, who created Threepio… No, wait. It would have been simpler for Kenobi to say that, and a whole lot more. Watch Obi-Wan’s face as he lies, below. His eyes dart to the side. He chooses his words, as always, very carefully.
  • “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” (Hand-wave, hand-wave.) At least this bald-faced lie has a point. The entire premise of A New Hope rests on it.
  • Vader betrayed and murdered your father: I’m sorry, but no, this doesn’t really wash. I suppose Kenobi didn’t think Luke could handle the truth, but still: no. There’s really no excusing this one, no matter how he dances around points of view. Here’s his lyin’ eyes darting around again.
  • About Luke’s lightsaber: “Your father wanted you to have this, when you were old enough.” Anakin never said or did anything to imply he would pass on his lightsaber to his son. I’m not clear at what point Anakin knew he even HAD living children. And he used that weapon to try to kill Obi-Won, didn’t he? I doubt at any time he said, “If you kill me during our fight, give this lightsaber to my child some day.” If we can assume that the lie is just there to make Luke want to follow him and learn the ways of the Force, that is some pretty expert emotional manipulation by one Mr. Kenobi. (Watch Obi-Wan casually pick up Anakin’s lightsaber as he walks away from newly-quadruple amputee Anakin, who is on fire. Harsh.)

More Lies

  • Kenobi says he’s from a more ‘civilized day’ in the Republic. The prequels make it plain his youthful days with Qui-Gon weren’t like that at all. Maybe all those trade disputes qualify as civilized. And maybe Obi-Wan even lies to himself about the past, the Jedi Order, and his place in creating one of the worst genocidal maniacs in the galaxy.
  • “Your uncle didn’t hold with your father’s ideals.” Everything Kenobi says about Owen and Beru Lars are false. They aren’t even related to Luke. At best, “Uncle” Owen and Anakin are step-brothers who met once. Did Owen and Beru even know Anakin became Darth Vader? From the look they shot Luke when he talked about his father, they seemed in on it. Really, this is clear as mud.
  • Kenobi sends Luke to Yoda, saying Yoda was the Jedi Master who instructed him. This is at least a half-truth, or a quarter-truth. Kenobi was Qui-Gon Jinn’s Padawan. Yoda was only his Master to the extent that Yoda was everyone’s teacher from their Youngling days.  Maybe Kenobi didn’t think the distinction was relevant.
  • “You can’t win, Darth.” Several times Obi-Wan calls Anakin by his Sith title in A New Hope. You may argue that George Lucas hadn’t nailed all those details down yet, or that Ben is simply being insulting. But once it’s written, stick with it. Don’t go changing the rules in your sequels just because it’s inconvenient.
  • Who is this “Ben,” anyway? He’s never called Ben in the prequels. His first name is Obi-Wan. I get that Kenobi was in hiding on Tatooine…but if that’s the case, why keep the surname Kenobi? Why let infant Luke keep the Skywalker last name at all? And why raise him on the same degenerate desert slave planet Anakin lived on? If you start digging around these plot holes, the whole thing collapses.
  • Finally, even his last line was a lie. Kenobi told Yoda: “That boy is our last hope.” Kenobi held Leia in his hands at her birth. He knew there was another Skywalker, and knew exactly where she was and what she was doing on behalf of the Rebellion.  He and Yoda both knew. This is just lazy exposition. Or bad follow-through on behalf of the prequels. Possibly both.
  • Speaking of Leia: when Luke plays the holo-vid of the Princess’ plea to Obi-Wan, that would have been an ideal time to tell him that was his sister. He deserved to know, and it might have saved him from a few illicit fantasies. He used Luke’s obvious attraction as a lure to entice the youth to go with him to Alderaan. Is a lie of omission still a lie?

Did old Ben ever tell the unvarnished truth?

Well, Mos Eisley was a wretched hive of scum and villainy. So chalk one up for the old Jedi Master.

We need an expose on The Life and Lies of Obi-Wan Kenobi to sit on the bookshelf next to the one about Albus Dumbledore. Apparently, lying to young orphans who look to you is all part of The Mentor’s Manual.

But I don’t mind Dumbledore and Obi-Wan being a little shady. That adds complexity. It was hard to get a straight answer out of Gandalf, too. It must be a wizard thing.

She’s actually NOT “far too trusting”:

One final addition. Princess Leia knows all about falsehood. She’s a politician. Watch as Grand Moff Tarkin and Senator Leia Organa trade lies. (Leia’s face at 1:24 is the moment she decides to lie to Tarkin about Dantooine.)

I have a bad feeling about this…

More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine

Shallow – A Star Wars Parody

 

What is the best all-time series franchise?

harry-potter sorcerers stone
It started well and kept getting better. Congratulations, Harry!

So many movie franchises, so little time. While it’s easy for producers to add yet another movie to any long-running series, it’s not so easy to have every one of them qualify as good, quality films. And in some series, all are decent, but none are outstanding. How to decide who gets the top spot for film series narratives where everything is both above average and don’t contain a clunker?

Definition: What’s a movie franchise?

We figure anything beyond a trilogy counts as a true series. Also, I’m looking at stories with an element — any element — of cannon material.

We fudged a few times here. Riddick only makes four films by including Dark Fury, an animated but CANNON inclusion to the series. The Matrix (at least through now, since a 4th movie has been recently announced, but hasn’t been filmed) has an entire cannon series of Animatrix anime. We’re going to take a leap and include those.

So, we’ve decided we have to draw a line somewhere, since linear story-telling material in so many series are all over the map.

Here we go: Soft Reboots are included…Hard Reboots are not. In other words, if the series nods to any previous incarnations and characters, that’s a Soft Reboot (ie – the Kelvin Timeline in Star Trek that refers to our Classic Timeline and has Old Spock and New Spock as continuous characters), but Hard Reboots are out (removing something like Evil Dead from the equation, for example, since the new version goes back to the beginning and erases the entire previous trilogy).

James Bond films are tough that way, and might be based on who was Bond when. Probably. We’re mulling over whether each Bond series has any connective tissue to the last. But clearly with each Batman version, it’s a Hard Reboot from the ones that follow. Which makes detangling DC an issue.

Note: We can’t say we’ve covered every series out there, especially those in the horror genre, which can malinger like old laundry. We see a lot of movies, but aren’t superheroes here. Let me know what I left out in the comment section below. 

Interesting “leading” actors note:

Vin Diesel, Harrison Ford, The Arnold, and Sylvester Stallone each have two entire lead role franchises on this list. Wow! We could possibly, maybe, conceivably, say so do Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, but those are “starring” roles in large ensemble films, instead of clear leads.

What do you think? We aren’t sure where to draw the line on this, so feel free to chime in to the comments with your opinions. We realize people can get worked up about their favorite movie series, and we want to hear all about it!

So, let’s get to it. Here are the franchises we’re looking at, and our personal, very opinionated comments as we go.

  • Aliens — Pure disaster from 2 onward. What not to do. ARGHHHH. So much original goodness, so, so wasted. After the first and the sequel, which ROCKED, we can’t recommend anything else. And they keep on trying…to no avail.
  • Terminator —  None actually suck, but it’s very uneven. A good effort. Also, with all the timelines, working out what is a Soft Reboot vs Hard Reboot is problematic. This would have been worth consideration as a winner, especially with the new Dark Fate offering, if Genisys wasn’t so damned dumb.
  • Predator —  All of them are rather good, if you don’t throw the Aliens vs Predators into the mix. That 2nd AvP is one of the worst movies I have ever sat through. And, to be honest, I don’t like Predator 2 much at all either, except for the fun spaceship ending. It felt like a gangster film and was not very sci fi. Bummer.
  • Resident Evil — Jeez. Past the first, are any good? There are six live action films to date, and a few animated ones. Did you realize six movies even happened? I remember really liking the first one a whole lot, with the brand new Alice and Raccoon City. Then the Resident Evils seemed to blend into a massive zombie mess, and can’t recall anything important, except for a cool scene with a motorcycle crashing through a church stained glass window. Which movie was that? I sure don’t know. Oh, wait, and didn’t one film have the remnants of humanity in Alaska? I really tried to keep up…
  • Harry Potter — Most consistently above par as a series. Each one is great-to-excellent. Probably the All_Over_Series Champion for this article’s purposes. So far, the Fantastic Beasts films are pulling it down a little, but not by much. None of these suck. The first two are juvenile….because the intention is that the audience will grow up with the series.  And the juvenile ones even knock my socks off, by introducing a magical ambiance and the firm foundation of a wizarding wish fulfillment fantasy. You know you want to get an acceptance letter to Hogwarts too. Don’t deny it. 😉
  • Twilight — Oooo boy. Best case: they are consistent…consistently bland. Next…
  • Star Wars. Yikes. It’s really too bad how uneven this series is. Even if you love the prequels, you’ll argue about the new films. No one agrees here with any of this. It’s really too bad. How did this happen?
  • Star Trek / original and Abrams — More yikes. Do you prefer Kirk or Picard? And which Kirk do you prefer? It doesn’t really matter, since each series has some great highs and some low, low, lows. Somehow, each movie manages to keep the continuity going (the Kelvin Timeline of JJ Abrams is a borderline Soft Reboot because of the alternate timeline including Old Spock). But the classic Kirk stories have their greats (Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home) and their losers (The Motion Picture, The Final Frontier). And the Patrick Stewart efforts are also up and down (Great: First Contact, Awful: Nemesis). I’m not going to argue about Nu-Trek. The big issue: no matter how you slice it, none of the parts of the series are consistent enough to come close to winning this prize. Sorry, Trek fans.
  • Indiana Jones — Sigh. Yep, uneven…I doubt I need to elaborate. Honestly, I only love the original. The rest are good-to-poor in execution. And it’s not Harrison Ford’s fault. I don’t know what happened with such a great premise.
  • MCU — Sooooo close to perfection. None are bad. The Hulk isn’t exactly good (it gets by with a ‘fair’). We think after the Harry Potter series, this is the Runner-Up Winner in terms of being consistently excellent. One could say the MCU should win by default, however, since after a WHOPPING 23 films, they are almost uniformly excellent. Should we allow one ‘fair’ Hulk film to drag this amazing feat down? (This Hulk was definitely better than the Ang Lee Hulk, which is frankly unwatchable). Seriously, none of these films are bad. But not all of them rank as good. This is a toughie. Also, Agents of SHIELD, Peggy Carter, and a few other one-offs with good material count as cannon. (Not sure if Thor’s adventures with his roommate Darryl count, but I don’t see why not. It’s even a trilogy in itself!)
  • X-Men/Wolverine/Deadpool — Part of the fun here is even the characters don’t know what is or isn’t cannon. Personally, I think this is an example of Marvel working out the bugs in making a contiguous franchise. Even their most recent X-Men movie this summer shows how awfully bad things can get when the writing isn’t planned well. I’m as confused as Wade Wilson when it comes to the X-Men.
  • DCEU — OH DEAR GODS. I’m going to just disqualify the DC universe until they figure out what the heck they’re doing. Some of it is cannon. Some are quite enjoyable (for me: only Wonder Woman and Shazam). Some of the DC films are hard reboots and some are soft reboots, and some suck no matter how you slice them.  Even after the successful new Joker film, I think they still don’t know what they’re doing. I hope James Gunn’s Suicide Squad 2 will be great, but even that is supposed to be a soft reboot. Will Birds of Prey fit in? Do we even care?
  • LOTR/Hobbit — It’s really too bad about that last Hobbit film. Our trips to Middle Earth could have swept all the wins. Battle of Five Armies was just awful. Damn.
  • Lego Movies — These are almost all pretty good. But the Ninjago one isn’t worthwhile. Sorry, Lego fans. Alllmost. It’s too bad. The other three are excellent. One clunker ruins the score.
  • Men In Black — Only the original is GREAT. The other three are…fine. Even the new one is…no better than fine. My personal ranking is 1, 3, 4, and then 2. Pass.
  • Toy Story —  Quite good as a series. 2 is kind of a clunker and brings the series down, which is too bad. This is almost a winner.
  • Shrek — Do you know there are four Shrek films out there? Me neither. And that boots this off the list. Sorry, Mike Myers. Were the last direct-to-video? I have no idea where this went.
  • Despicable Me + Minions — A fairly even series, I’ll grant it that, and a lot of fun. Not one is a clunker. But if Despicable Me wins this contest, I may have to eat someone, like a random Grip or Best Boy or Foley Artist…please, don’t make me do this. Cute, cute, cute. But seriously amazing storytelling? This might be a runner up. Seriously, for being a silly premise, this is kind of a winner. Banana!
  • The Matrix — The first movie redefined action movies. On the DVD box set there’s an option to watch the movie while three movie critics (yes, movie critics) commentate on the movie — how brave of the directors! One of the critics commented: “I realized while watching this movie that I was witnessing a watershed moment.” Then the other two movies came out — Reloaded and Revolutions — a few years later, to less than critical acclaim. As a huge Matrix fan, I didn’t know what to think, but upon rewatching, and rewatching, I understand that the story couldn’t have been better. Even the universally panned Burly Brawl fight scene in Revolutions served an important plot point than few people understand. (There’s a reason the fight went on, and on, and on.) Between Reloaded and Revolutions, we had the collection of animations –in the Animatrix. While it’s probably only appealing to uber-fans, the stories are all entertaining and are artfully done. Well worth watching, and they help fill in much of the back story, and even introduce a character who later shows up in Revolutions.
  • Riddick — All are good. Two are great. But having only half be amazing isn’t enough to win the franchise prize.
  • The Monster U/Godzilla — This series is ongoing, so the jury is still out until we see King Kong vs Godzilla. So far, the series is enjoyable, but far from great. I remember thinking during the first Godzilla movie that there wasn’t nearly enough Godzilla. Mostly, watching any of these movies just makes me crave watching Pacific Rim again.
  • Mission Impossible — Most of these mush together in my head. I can recall it around the stunts…as in, “This is the one where Tom Cruise does a Halo Jump.” Some of these are really very good, and some (early on, mainly) are mediocre.
  • Fast & Furious/H&S — None of these are bad, but it’s a pretty uneven series. Like with Mission Impossible, it gets better as it goes, and I remember them by stunts (“This is the one Vin Diesel flew a car between skyscapers in Abu Dhabi…”).
  • Rocky/Creed — The first movie was pretty amazing, and I don’t usually like fight plots. But then each following film focused more on fighting and less on story. Things got mediocre fast, even with the Creed films bolstering the narrative.
  • Rambo — I hate to say this, but I’ve never watched a single Rambo film. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.
  • Jaws — HA!  The first two have some decent continuity and are worth viewing…but then things dwindle fast. Do you know how many Jaws movies there are? (Hint: officially, 4. But with the ‘bad shark franchise’ being so fat and happy, you’d think there were more.)
  • Bond — Very uneven, if you look at all the Bonds in all the years. Some Bonds are more consistent than others. But since each one is a Hard Reboot, this makes it hard to grade. I don’t think any new Bond character acknowledges a prior Bond storyline. But I might be wrong. If you have some thoughts, share them in the comment section. I’d love to know if any Bonds refer to prior incarnations.
  • Die Hard — Did  you realize there are five films in this series? Poor John McClane, running barefoot through glass shards every Christmas. So to speak. I love him and the original film, but  this series is still too wobbly to win the Ultimate Franchise award. A+ plus for the original. then thing get mediocre quickly.
  • Mad Max — With Fury Road, this is 4 films and thus enters our competitive list. And I hate to say this….but I have NOT seen Fury Road. (Man, I know. I suck.) Even so, I think this is a consistent series, and each one is worth a watch. But they aren’t AMAZING, no matter how you slice it. So it’s not a win, not compared to Harry Potter.
  • Hunger Games — Decently consistent, but the 3rd is sort of lame and drags the series down. It’s too bad — this really could have been a contender. All it takes is one bad movie…
  • Transformers — Let’s face it:  that any single one of these movies is watchable is a win. The best I can say about any of the Transformer movies is that they make great films to play in the background for cleaning the house.
  • Halloween — There are 11 movies in this series. The most recent brought Jamie Lee Curtis back in a true sequel (and Soft Reboot) that continues where the first film left off, discarding the rest. Thankfully. This is how to do a follow-up, and it performed very well at the box office. There are two more films on the pike to continue this narrative.
  • Jurassic Park — The original is an A+ film and Lost World was a pretty good sequel. Then we got the abyssal Jurassic III, which should be taken out behind the shed and shot. It’s that bad. It took a long time to revive the series with Jurassic World, and the 4th movie is quite charming — a great relief for dino-philes like me. The 5th film is good, not very good or great, but certainly isn’t a dog like HP 3. It’s too bad 3 happened at all: JP could have been contender. JP 3 is THAT BAD.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean — Although there are four movies in this series, the only one to be taken seriously is the first. While the original was ground-breaking and fresh, everything that followed seemed like a live-action cartoon. FAIL.
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation – All, at least in the 5 films, (American Vacation, European Vacation, Xmas Vacation, Vegas Vacation and Vacation) are watchable. None are above a B grade, however. Just because all are watchable doesn’t mean any are great.
  • The Bourne movies – There are 5 of these! But the quality is up and down. Bummer.
  • Saw, Chucky, The Conjuring Universe – I’m just not a horror fan. I’ve seen exactly zero of these films, so I can’t comment on them. We’re hoping RunPee Sis, our resident horror fan, will make her own franchise list. I do have the sense that all have a very uneven quality. Feel free to tell me what you think in the comment section below.

I don’t pretend to cover every series. I’m not that awesome. But from this list here, it’s clear who wins, and who just misses the cut.

Winner: Harry Potter (even including the 2 Fantastic Beasts films), with 10 films of good to ‘fantastic’ quality that all easily make the ‘film classics’ list. Congrats to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Newt!

Runner Up: The Marvel Cinematic Universe. I really want to give this series the win. It’s hard to have 23 movies (plus two cannon TV shows and several one-shots) all be amazing. And it’s not fair to have Hulk (and maybe Thor 2) drag the entire thing down. When they did Hulk they really didn’t have the MCU formula worked out — that was the same year as the original Iron Man, which was a long shot at best. But you know what? It created an empire that almost nothing could compete with. It’s just soooo close. MCU, we love you 3,000.

Honorable Mention: The Matrix. A lot of people just do not like the sequels, and haven’t even seen the Animatrix Collection. In fact, the sequels spawned some serious vitriol when they came out. But if you watch them now, 20 years later, and forget “all you know, and think you know”, you’ll actually enjoy what the directors have accomplished. This cinematic experience is really very deep, and the quality can’t be argued against. We only hope the previously announced four-quel will add to the story (unlike the new Men In Black: International).

Honorable Mention 2: Believe it of not, Despicable Me/Minions is right up there, and more consistent than the otherwise beloved Toy Story series. I’m shocked too.

Do you agree or hate my assessments? Comment below. I promise I’ll respond with respect. This is what makes films fun. 

7 Hidden Clues/Humor You Might Have Missed in Knives Out.[Spoilers!]

So far, the RunPee Family watched Knives Out 7 times combined to do the Peetimes. Yes, it’s that hard! The movie is filled with clue Easter eggs. Like one of the characters says, “This guy pretty much lives in a clue board.”

Watching it the second time the next day, I noticed so many things I overlooked the first time. Some of them are just impossible to spot the first time because a significant plot distracts you. I can’t wait to share my findings, so let’s dive right into it!

#1 The Baseball
This is the finding that makes me most proud. The arc of the baseball contributes not to the main murder case plotline, but the “Linda-Richard” relationship. Here’s the trip the baseball took:

  • Richard first threw the baseball out of Harlan’s office window after finding out the letter he threatened to send to Linda is a blank paper — he felt played.
  • In the next scene, Detective Blanc notices the baseball and picks it up.
  • The next day, the dogs come to Blanc, drops the piece of wood from the wall frame, and bites on the baseball he was holding at the time. Blanc throws the ball for the dog to retrieve. But before the dog comes back, he notices the piece of wood and gets distracted.
  • The dog still has the baseball in its mouth a day later, at the family gathering requested by Marta. They thought she’s going to renounce the inheritance. The dog sits next to Linda. Linda recognizes baseball and takes it from the dog. She goes to put the baseball back to her father’s office. Notices the letter opened by Richard. Thus, finding out Richard’s affair.

See the full circle here? The director brilliantly made Richard bringing it all to himself.

Read more about the Baseball story here.

#2 The “Extra Bowl”
Remember the scene where Ransom (Chris Evans) and Marta sit down in a restaurant after the will is read? Ransom asked for an “extra bowl” from the waitress — for Marta to puke in later. I didn’t notice it even the second time, but Dan did.

#3 Where Is Marta from?
You probably get the symbolic immigrates subtext the first watch. But do you remember where Marta is from? Different characters describe her as from Ecuador, Brazil, and Uruguay — and perhaps a few others I forgot. The intention is clear: nobody of the Thrombeys’ family really cared.

Read more about the political subplot in Knives Out here.

#4 Secret Messages
Yes, it was revealed at the end of the movie, that it’s a father-daughter game to use invisible ink as Harlan and Linda’s secret form of communication. But the director had actually given us a clue before that. When Linda was in her room reading the letters from her father over the years, if you look closely, you will notice the burn traces.

#5 “Dogs are the best judge of characters.”
Yes, it’s so blunt that you won’t believe it the first time watching it. But it’s that simple. The movie starts with a scene of dogs running on the lawn. The dogs interacted with three main characters. Marta, Ransom, and Linda. They are very friendly towards Marta and Linda and aggressive with Ransom. If you look back at each of the characters, Marta is the kindest. Linda is the only one in the family that actually cares. (She looks down on her brother, but still protects him in front of the police) And Ransom? I don’t need to tell you about Ransom.

#6 What’s With The Donut?
The whole “Donut speech” delivered by Daniel Craig at the end of the movie is just so brilliantly funny. But why the donut? I have a wild guess. The director takes the genre — “whodunnit” — and turns it into a wordplay. “Dunnit”, “Donut”. Yes?

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but since we’re having fun… The throne of knives forms a donut. When the detectives interview the characters they sit in the chair in front of the knives, ostensibly “filling the donut hole.”

#7 Stage prop
Last but not least. On the faithful night of Harlan’s death, as Marta gives him his medications he talks about his children and their problems. While talking about Ransom he picks up a knife and removes it from its sheath, and says, “There is so much of me in that kid: confident, stupid, protected. Playing life like a game without consequences. Until you can’t tell the difference between a stage prop and a real knife.” Then he stabs the knife into the tabletop. Of course in the climax of the movie Ransom tries to stab Marta with a stage prop.

Did you spot any other hidden clues? Let us know in the comments below.

Top 5 Whodunnits in Film

After months of positive buzz, Rian Johnson’s mystery Knives Out is finally being released.  It features an all-star cast with Daniel Craig playing the detective, and Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, and Jamie Lee Curtis among the suspects.  In case this new release whets your appetite for a good mystery, here’s my list of top five whodunnits.

1. Murder on the Orient Express (1974) 

This list would not be complete without a good Agatha Christie adaptation.  I wanted to to include one of the versions of Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None but I’ve

Poirot explains it all.

never seen any of them.  I can highly recommend the novel, however.  Back to The Orient Express:  Detective Hercule Poirot is one of Albert Finney’s best roles.  And this is one of Christie’s greatest puzzles.  When a murder is committed aboard a train, a famous detective has until the train reaches its destination to solve the impossible mystery.  It’s such an irresistible story; it’s been adapted countless times, including as an American TV movie, starring Alfred Molina.  Most recently, Kenneth Branagh directed a 2017 adaptation, starring himself as Poirot.  It’s a quality production with some great performances, and it spawned an upcoming sequel I’m looking forward to.  If you’ve managed to never have this mystery spoiled for you, please seek it out at once.

2. Gosford Park 

Stephen Fry on the case.

In Robert Altman’s 2001 film, a murder occurs after a dinner party at a wealthy British estate.  Like most of Altman’s films, there is a huge ensemble cast.  The investigation is shown from both the guests’ and the servants’ perspectives.  The delightful comedian Stephen Fry plays the detective.  Julian Fellowes wrote the script.  He later created the TV show Downton Abbey, which was inspired by the film, and at one point was meant to be a sequel to it.  The movie received seven Oscar nominations.

3. Brick

Rian Johnson’s own debut film is a neo-noir, set in a high school.  After receiving a frantic phone call begging for help from his ex-girlfriend, and then finding her dead body soon afterwards, a teenage loner vows to solve her murder.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the detective this time, in one of my favorite performances of his.  This film has a twisty plot and hip dialogue full of invented slang.  The podcast Filmspotting named their annual Golden Brick award for Best Film by a new voice after this movie.

4. Clue

Was it Col. Mustard in the library with the lead pipe?

Yes, Clue is based on the board game.  I watched this movie endlessly throughout my childhood on Showtime.  Six strangers are invited to a mansion for dinner.  When the host is killed, they have to work together to solve the murder.  Tim Curry is brilliant as the butler.  There’s a lot of fun humor in this one.  How can you resist a comic mystery, with a cast that includes Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, Susan Sarandon, Michael McKean, and Martin Mull?  One of my favorite things about this movie is that it has three endings.  When the movie was released theatrically, what part of the country you lived in/watched it in determined which ending you saw.

5. The Thin Man

If you’ve never seen The Thin Man series, you’re in for a treat.  William Powell and Myrna Loy trade barbs and imbibe alcohol as retired detective Nick Charles and his wife Norah.  They are accompanied by their faithful pooch Asta.  These comic mysteries are a joy.  The chemistry between Powell and Loy is amazing.  They made several other pictures together.  The Thin Man movies always end with an old school round-up of the suspects, where they build up the suspense before finally revealing who the killer is.

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Frozen Adventures You May Have Missed

Disney has finally given in to the demands of countless children, and made a sequel to their hit film Frozen.  I already have my tickets and will be seeing it opening weekend with my girlfriend, the world’s biggest Olaf fan.  (No, seriously.  I can’t sleep at night anymore because of all the stuffed snowmen staring at me.)  In-between the two films, Anna, Elsa, and Olaf had a few adventures you may not know about.

So, in case you’re a completist like me, here’s three Frozen adventures you might want to see.

Frozen Fever

This seven minute short debuted in theaters in front of Disney’s live-action Cinderella in 2015.  Elsa tries to give Anna a surprise birthday party.  However, Elsa has caught a cold, and with every sneeze she produces a bunch of “Snowgies” — adorable snowball-like creatures — who begin dismantling the decorations.  The cartoon features a catchy new song: “Making Today a Perfect Day.”

Frozen Fever can be found here:

  • Available for purchase on most major streaming sites like Amazon and iTunes.
  • Available as an extra on the Cinderella Blu-ray and DVD.
  • Available as part of the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection on DVD/Blu-ray combo pack or streaming.  (There’s also a funny Tangled short in that collection.)

Lego Frozen Northern Lights

Frozen gets the Lego treatment in this four-episode TV miniseries.  Elsa and Anna journey to find the Northern Lights, which are invisible from their home of Arendelle.

  • This appears to be available for free on YouTube, with each of the four episodes running about 6 minutes.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

This twenty-one minute cartoon debuted in theaters in front of Pixar’s Coco.

Unfortunately, many audience members didn’t come prepared to see Olaf, and didn’t like waiting nearly half an hour for their Coco feature to start.

The cartoon was eventually moved to play after the feature, and then removed completely and made available on streaming sites.

During the first Christmas since the gates reopened, Olaf tries to help Elsa and Anna start some new holiday traditions, by finding out how the residents of Arendelle celebrate.

  • This is available on Blu-ray, DVD, or from major streaming sites like Amazon and iTunes.  It comes with six classic Disney winter/holiday-themed shorts.

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Movie Review – Frozen 2

The Essential Kristen Stewart – Her Best Films

The Charlie’s Angels reboot comes out soon, starring one of my favorite actresses: Kristen Stewart.  She began acting at age eight and has nineteen years of experience under her belt, giving her quite a resume.  So for anyone who wants to catch up on her career before the new movie, or who just wants to worship at the shrine of Kristen, here are her most essential films.

Panic Room

From a young age, Kristen Stewart had the chops to be an actor.  She gave a memorable performance in one of my favorite thrillers as Jodie Foster’s daughter.  The two of them are terrorized by three robbers and have to hole up in a panic room (an impenetrable room designed to keep homeowners safe).

Speak

At age 13, Stewart gave a mature performance in this made-for-TV-movie based on the popular YA book.  She plays a teenage rape victim who becomes an outcast and stops talking.  It’s heavy material that’s handled very well.

New Moon

This is easily the best of the Twilight films.  Stewart’s heartbreak as a lovelorn Bella is palpable.  This also has the best soundtrack of all the films….and the funniest scenes with Anna Kendrick’s Jessica.  This is probably the movie where Bella is most active in pursuing both Jake and Edward.

Adventureland

Stewart plays the girl next door in this comedy about a run down amusement park.  A welcome break from Bella Swann, Stewart is the more mysterious and unattainable object of Jesse Eisenberg’s affections.  This was their first pairing together.

The Runaways

Stewart went against type to play bad girl rocker Joan Jett.  Her performance helps to anchor this rock biopic, featuring Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie.  Michael Shannon steals scenes as manager Kim Fowley.

Snow White and the Huntsman

This is one of Stewart’s most commercial and best known roles outside of the Twilight films.  This dark take on the classic fairy tale doesn’t really get good until towards the end.  But once Stewart’s Snow White finds her power and begins to lead a revolution, you’ll find yourself wanting more.

Clouds of Sils Maria

Kristen Stewart became the first American actress to ever win a César Award (the French Oscar) for her performance in this film.  Stewart plays the personal assistant to Juliet Binoche.  Binoche plays an actress cast as the older character in a lesbian drama, who wrestles with jealousy and insecurity while preparing for the role.  There is some sexual tension between her and Stewart.

Still Alice

This weepie isn’t one of my favorite films (Julianne Moore should have won her Oscar for Freeheld instead), but Stewart gives a solid supporting performance as the daughter.  Her scenes with Moore feel authentic.

American Ultra

This is Stewart’s second pairing with Jesse Eisenberg.  This unexpected action film goes a little bonkers with the violence, but it’s a fun ride.

 

Personal Shopper

 

Stewart teamed up with Clouds director Olivier Assayas again for this haunting drama.  She plays a personal shopper, trying to make contact with her twin brother who has passed away.

—–

Kristen Stewart hasn’t garnered an Oscar nomination yet.  However, she keeps choosing interesting and surprising roles.  And she continues to play characters from all walks of life.  So it’s probably only a matter of time.

Don’t miss your favorite actress in her best scenes.  Get the RunPee app and you’ll never miss the good parts of a movie again.  We always have Peetimes for the hottest movies including Terminator: Dark Fate, Zombieland: Double Tap, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, and Joker.  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 – Charlie’s Angels

Ranking the Terminator Movies

sarah-connor-young-linda-hamilton
No fate but what we make. (Man, does Linda Hamilton look young!)

Well, cool, I just rewatched the entire run of Terminator movies and realized it will be easier to rank them in order of greatness than I thought. For each movie (I’ll get to the TV show later), the best to worst go in order of first to last created. That made it easy!  How often does that happen? Here we go, and YES THERE ARE TERMINATOR SPOILERS through Genisys, but not through Dark Fate:

The Terminator Movies, ranked from best movie to worst:

    1. The Original movie (1984) — I realize that T2: Judgment Day is most people’s favorite Terminator outing, but for me it lacks the excitement and character building — and pure 80s fun — of the classic first time. Here’s my enthusiastic rewatch review of the classic film where Arnold first promised he’d “be back.”
    2. T2: Judgment Day (1991) — Although I wasn’t fond of the young John Connor portrayal, this was the movie that made me ugly cry when Sarah was about to shoot Miles Dyson, before backing off when realizing he was a good man. I was glad she couldn’t do it. When Dyson sacrificed himself, I kept on crying. There’s a lot of humor in T2 (some of it a bit silly), and it’s a very exciting sequel. There’s still just nothing like the first thrill ride in 1984. Linda Hamilton and Arnold really sold Judgment Day, but the whole Hasta La Vista attitude and focus on a young John trying to teach an AI to be ‘cute’ was…well… a bit too cute. This wasn’t as thoughtful as the original, and the move of focus from Sarah/Kyle to a juvenile delinquent John was less gripping. I’m not sure why T2 is most people’s favorite, but feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments below.
    3. T3: Rise of the Machines (2003) — I remember thinking this wasn’t as cool as the first two, but I think it was the lack of Linda Hamilton here, back in the early millennium. In my recent watch (all of them in one week, right after another), I now realize a few things: this is the best John Connor portrayal ever (TV show aside), Claire Danes was just lovely in the part, Arnold did a fine job in his three-quel, and the story ended up with an actual Judgment Day. All good stuff, as Golden Man wrote in his Defense of T3. If Hamilton had to bow out, I’m not going to complain about going after John’s best soldiers. My main problem is with the female Terminator. She was…fine. Not awesome, like Robert Patrick in T2. I’d have loved to see some of the sneaky wry moments Patrick imbued his T-1000 with. And he was a LOT scarier. Kristanna Loken as the third Terminator was frankly a bit dull. Sure, it was cool to have a female Terminator, but Summer Glau, in the Terminator TV series, showed that we could have had a lot more. Still, T3 felt like a Terminator film.
    4. T4: Salvation (2009) — I liked Salvation but it didn’t FEEL like the previous movies. There were nods to the previous films, but the tone was off. I think they should have added a half hour of character development & ensemble moments (like in Aliens, as a perfect example), added some more humor. It would have been just lovely. Another issue: it almost looked like T4 was filmed in black and white, which didn’t work for me. Everything was washed out or too dim. And a lot of great actors amassed for T4 were kind of wasted. For example: why get someone like Michael Ironside if you don’t write him some good lines? No wonder he didn’t even try to make anything of his part. I liked the film, I liked it….it just should have been a lot better. It did pick up with the character Kate from T3, which I appreciated, but most of the character writing felt lazy. One thing that does stand out now was how sad it to see a super young Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese. I didn’t realize he was in Salvation. Awwww. 🙁  Yelchin did do a nice job coming across as a young scared-but-resolute soldier who John needed to train up. I could see the producers were going for a Terminator/Aliens/Matrix look, but it really didn’t go beyond moments of homage to better material.
    5. T5: Genisys (2015)  Well, this one hits the bottom of the Terminator barrel. I didn’t hate it, or even dislike it, but I can’t say it was good. I’m not sure it fit within the timeline cannon the others all followed so nicely, Dyson dad and son revisititations aside. And where was Kate, John’s wife? Going back to another timeline to follow Han Solo’s girlfriend was fine (ha! I only understand this reference from my re-watch), and ‘Pops’ was cool and all, but what the writers did with John Connor was inexcusable. Hello, WTF? The John actor didn’t look right, didn’t act the part, and his existence as a Terminator was a kick in the gut to anyone who cared about the franchise. I didn’t enjoy this one at all, although it wasn’t a ‘bad’ movie. It just didn’t sit well and made me a little angry. What were the writers thinking, crapping on the John Connor character? This was a misfire on so many levels, even though Arnold and Co gave it a good shot. Like I said, this wasn’t a bad sci fi film, and it was an okay “alternate timeline” for Sarah Connor, but it was too moody and…well, weird. I really hope the soft reboot of Terminator: Dark Fate returns to the adventurous tone and epic storytelling we saw in T1 and T2. 

Bonus extra: The TV Show: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-09) —

The TV show used an alternate timeline, with yet other Sarah and John actors, but was so damn great that it was a joy to watch as a serialized story on TV. Summer Glau made a wonderful Terminator. I wasn’t thrilled with Lena Headley’s Sarah, but everyone else knocked my socks off, and I was very excited to see how the narrative would progress.

Unfortunately, we never got to see that. When it was cancelled, I was sad. Not as sad, mind you, as when Firefly (another Summer Glau show) was cast aside before its time, but still a bit adrift. I wish I’d known where the John Henry/Cromartie story was headed…and what the final trip to the future was about, and where the loyalties of Shirley Manson’s Terminator were leading us…but we’ll never know.

So how to rank the TV show?

Honestly, it had so much potential. I’d rank it after T2, personally, although it really only got exciting in the second season and left us hanging for the third. I’d watch it again, absolutely. At least this time I’d be prepared for the looming permanent hiatus status, and could appreciate what we did get.

Terminator: Dark Fate Well, howdy ho; I’m excited. I’ll be seeing this one shortly, and understand the story picks up right after T2, creating cannon waste to everything that came after 1991. I’m okay with this, since Sarah, in the timeline from T3 and on, is dead.

And now what?

I won’t hide that I dislike reboots in general (Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica aside), but if Linda Hamilton and Arnold himself are co-signing this new edition, I’m totally on-board. Where it will fit in the overall rankings remains to be seen. Soon, soon…

A bit older, a lot wiser.

What is your ranking of the Terminator franchise?

In Defense of Terminator 3

Terminator: Dark Fate opens this week.  It’s the sixth movie in the Terminator franchise.  However, it is the official sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day…which basically invalidates Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, one of my favorite entries in the entire franchise.

Billy Crystal once joked that Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on to make Terminator 3 in exchange for everything west of the Rockies.  Terminator 2 was so popular that such an outrageous payday almost seemed feasible at the time.  Expectations for the third film were extremely high.

Unfortunately, lightning usually doesn’t strike twice.  I’m the first to admit that T3 isn’t is as good as T2.  However, it’s still a movie I enjoy and I feel like it doesn’t deserve its poor reputation.  So here is my defense of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Before we begin…

Yes, it’s a flawed film and I understand the problems people may have with it.  James Cameron didn’t direct.  Edward Furlong was replaced by Nick Stahl.  And Linda Hamilton turned down the offer to reprise her role as Sarah Conner, and was subsequently written out of the series.  Setting those things aside, can we enjoy what there is to enjoy?  Because there’s a lot.

Nick Stahl makes a decent John Connor.

Christian Bale’s portrayal of an adult John Connor in Terminator: Salvation is too moody for my taste and turns the character into a jerk.  I honestly don’t remember how Jason Clarke played the role in Terminator: Genisys.  (I mainly remember a good movie being ruined halfway through by an unnecessary plot twist.)  Stahl is a good choice to play the disillusioned young man who is uncertain of the future and his place in it.  I buy into his character enough that when the final scene comes, I’m ready for another hour.

It has a strong prologue.

The movie has a great opening prologue that builds audience sympathy for John Connor.  He is saddled with the burden of knowledge, the burden of leadership, the burden of greatness, and the burden of unfulfilled prophecy hanging over his head.

The first female terminator.

Kristanna Loken plays the T-X, the first female terminator in the series.  She also plays a newer model than Ahnuld, so she’s extremely powerful and gets to show off some badass moves.  Plus she looks good in leather.

LGBT representation.

Although Kristanna Loken didn’t come out as bi until she did interviews with Curve in 2006 and The Advocate in 2007 (years after T3 came out), it’s still inspiring to myself (and others) that one of the terminators is bisexual.

You have to love Claire Danes.

Claire Danes adds humor and a dash of romance to the film as Kate Brewster, John’s future wife and a key figure in the resistance.  Any excuse to watch Claire Danes for two hours is a good one, but this performance is especially worthwhile.

It has a great twist.

The movie has a great twist.  SPOILER ALERT:  It’s actually Judgment Day!  What could be more exciting than that?!  You get to watch history in the making.  The long rumored apocalypse is finally here and you have a front row seat.

The showdowns are so satisfying.

The action scenes between Loken and Schwarzenegger, from the car chase to the final battle, are all so satisfying.  The sheer amount of destruction in this film is amazing.  So is the fight choreography.  Rewatching the movie this week, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to defend it.  Instead, I was thoroughly entertained.

The ending is a great set-up.

The ending to this movie is a wonderful set-up to a fourth film that never happened and perhaps never will.  It’s Infinity War with no Endgame.  It’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One left hanging.  John and Kate are in a fallout shelter on Judgment Day.  How do you not want to know everything that happens from there?  It’s such a great set-up for a fourth film, a perfect place to resume the story, but no one ever picked up the ball and ran with it.  Not even in the comic books.  No one has gone back to the fallout shelter and told the story of how the resistance was born from there, how John Connor became a leader starting on Judgment Day.  (Terminator: Salvation shifts the storyline back to Kyle Reese.)  I’m still  hungry for that promised-but-never-delivered movie.

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