Thursday, March 28, 2013

Midnight Movie Review - G.I. Joe: Retaliation

I write this with a heavy heart.

The new GI JOE movie sucks.

I went to see the midnight showing (that was actually at 9pm. Remember when you used to have to wait until midnight for a midnight showing of a movie on opening weekend?).  I dragged along my poor friend Andy, since she’s the only one stupid enough who doesn’t have kids and will see these films with me at “midnight.”

Unfortunately, Andy and I are 0 for 3 in our midnight movie viewings. Our other two: The Bourne Legacy and Die Hard 5 were also pretty bad. I keep telling her the next movie we see will be better. But I keep getting proved a liar.

I am pretty much biting my tongue completely off not to give away the hugest of all spoilers in GI Joe: Retaliation. Although to be honest, I wish someone would’ve just told me. I think I could’ve relaxed and enjoyed the movie a bit more.  But probably not much more.

So what’s wrong with the movie exactly? Take your pick: it’s disjointed, bland, and tension-less  -- just kind of big and dumb.  Will my 9- and 10-year-old sons like it? Oh heck yeah. After all, there are lots of fight scenes and raining ninjas and blowing stuff up. (I give it a very soft PG-13, for any parents who might be wondering – it really could’ve almost gone PG)

Palicki's Lady Jaye
But I was hoping for more…. something.  More anything but absurd action. After all, these characters are pretty important to me – I grew up on GI Joe. In South Florida, running around as the only girl in a neighborhood of boys, we played GI Joe all the time. I was Lady Jaye.  I know these characters and love them, but the film? Not so much.

There were some good things about the movie. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson brought his normal charming blend of charisma and swagger as Roadblock. Bruce Willis is gleeful as the original General Joe.  Channing Tatum and D.J. Cotrona are both hot (although Cotrona’s Flint left me pretty cold). Adrianne Palicki played my namesake Lady Jaye with as much flair as could be mustered for a pretty one-dimensional role.

Snake Eyes
And Snake Eyes? Well, he’s got bad-assery down without ever saying a word. Ray Parks communicates all he needs too by leaving the string of dead and unconscious bodies in his wake.  

The bad stuff I’ve pretty much already pointed out. But I would be neglect in my duty if I didn’t mention the mind-numbingly awful performance of RZA from Wu-Tang. He makes an appearance as the “Blind Master” about half way through the film and single-handedly kills all the momentum in the movie. Seriously. Screeching halt.
No kidding, using this toy would've been a better option

Not that the movie had a great deal of true momentum to begin with, but whatever it had was gone by the time RZA finished with his scene.

True Joe fans will be disappointed by this film. They can’t help but be. Non-Joe fans may not care as much. As a silly action movie, GI Joe: Retaliation is not really too bad. But not really too good either.

Now you know.

And knowing is…  well, you know.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ooops, I Did It Again - The Marine Corps Marathon

Remember that time I didn’t really want to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon but did it anyway?

Yeah, that would be today.

Some of you may remember this statement I made on Facebook back in January, about an hour after my Disney Marathon was over:

Umm, I left out the comments under that status update in which every person I know called me a liar. Cause what do they know?

I hadn’t planned to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) when I woke up this morning, although the MCM is great. It’s nick-named “The People’s Marathon” (because it’s open to all runners; requiring no qualifying times), is well-known for supportive crowds, and runs through the heart of our Nation’s Capital. Some gorgeous running scenery, that.

And last year registration for the race sold out online in about two hours.

But you may wonder how does one “accidentally” sign up for a marathon?  It’s not a pretty tale…

I see on Facebook that a good running buddy, Heather, had been trying register for the MCM for an hour with no success.

What’s that, Heather? You need someone to help you waste time doing something on a computer? I’m your gal.

So I, along with other of her friends, got online to hit refresh over and over at the overwhelmed race registration site, trying  to get to the screen that would allow us to register Heather for the race.  No luck for nearly an hour.  We were about to give up hope when one of us was able to get into the registration page and sign Heather up.

But… did I stop hitting refresh after Heather had been registered?

We all know the answer to that question.

Basically, I allowed a “please try again” message on a website to goad me into running another marathon. Because all I know is that somewhere between the 3,000 and 4,000th time I hit refresh it became my life-long goal to run the MCM. My passion in life. The one-thing I was put on this earth to do.  And I knew my time was running out. The marathon would sell-out soon.

Refresh, refresh, refresh. I could not allow a computer registration system to stop me from my life's mission!

I didn’t let myself think about the 20+ mile training runs required for a marathon, or how I had just said to a good friend that I was done with training and competitive running, or that my husband was probably going to leave me when I told him I was running another marathon.

All I could think of was how important this Marine Corps Marathon was to me. Even though I hadn’t even known about it three hours before.

How the story ends: I got through (barely, it sold out just minutes afterwards). I got registered. I will be running another marathon in October. Plus the 500 training miles required in the months leading up to the race.

A day may come when I am not ridiculously stupid, but it is not this day.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb (#49 & #47)

It's the Sunday Showdown: continuing my comparison of the American Film Institute's and Internet Movie Database's Top 100 films. I've been having a difficult time getting my act together enough to watch my weekly Sunday Showdown flicks  for a while; too many distractions. And, as always, too much Facebook. But I'm back.

Double header today: #49: Intolerance vs. The Shining and #47: A Streetcar Named Desire vs. Wall-E.

Intolerance's Ancient Babylon
I almost didn’t get to #49: Intolerance vs. The Shining. Because as much as I love and appreciate D.W. Griffith... a 3 hour silent movie? Exceptionally painful for my short attention span brain.

Although I was well-familiar with Intolerance due to multiple film courses in college, I had never seen it as a whole in one sitting. The film is amazing, considering it was made in 1916. Four stories blended into one, all to tell of mankind’s intolerance for each other throughout history.

The movie was decades before its time. Over 3000 extras and costuming, sets and even visual effects that still stand up well in viewing today. If you’ve ever seen clips from a silent film portraying the massive walls of ancient Babylon, well, then you’ve seen part of Intolerance and its breath-taking sets. D.W. Griffith was a genius. Father of modern film.

All this versus…

The Shining. Stephen King’s classic(?) tale put to film by my all-time-NOT-favorite but director-with-the-most-films-on-the-Top-100-lists: Stanley Kubrick. There’s no love lost between he and I (see here, or here, or here, or here).

I’ll admit the movie is equally terrifying and weird. There are people -- sad film geeks -- who spend most of their waking hours trying to figure out all the nuances of meaning and secrets in the film. There’s even a new documentary coming out on The Shining and all its craziness :  Room 237. Whatever.  I still can’t figure out how Jack Nicholson’s character got into the picture at the end.

‘Splain that, Lucy!

Oh, it has something to do with the number 12 like everything else in the film? Well, I didn’t know that. Maybe The Shining is a work of genius then!  But probably not.

So, no big surprise here: I’m going to choose Intolerance, the silent epic that influenced multiple generations of filmmaking over The Shining that influenced multiple acid trips and horror-film geeks.

Brando & Leigh's Desire
#47: A Streetcar Named Desire vs. Wall-E.  Seriously?  I know I’m not a big animated film fan, but I can’t even believe Wall-E made the top 100 list. I mean, it was sweet and romantic, with some nice moments. But one of the top 100 films of all time? I think not.  I can think of half a dozen animated films off the top my head more deserving of being in the top 100, including: The Incredibles, Up, even Snow White (in terms of historical cinematic value), for heaven’s sake.

And against Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando’s exquisite performances in Streetcar?  Sorry, Wall-E.  Not a chance.

So: #49: Intolerance over The Shining

#47: Streetcar Named Desire over  Wall-E

This brings AFI to a full 10 movie lead over IMDb, 33-23.

AFI’s Top 100
IMDb’s Top 100 (as of 1/1/12)


City Lights (1931)
LoTR: Return of the King (2003)
On the Waterfront (1954)
LoTR: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
LoTR: The Two Towers(2002)

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Wall E (2008)

Intolerance (1916)
The Shining (1980)
LoTR: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Spirited Away (2001)
Paths of Glory (1957)
Taxi Driver (1976)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Double Indemnity (1944)
M*A*S*H* (1970)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
The Pianist (2002)
Jaws (1975)
The Lives of Others (2006)
Rocky (1976)
The Departed (2006)
The Gold Rush (1925)
Memento (2000)
Nashville (1975)
City Lights (1931)
Duck Soup (1933)
Aliens (1986)
Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004)
American Graffiti (1973)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Cabaret (1972)
Das Boot (1981)
Network (1976)
The Third Man (1949)
The African Queen (1951)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Chinatown (1974)
Unforgiven (1992)
The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948)
Tootsie (1982)
Modern Times (1936)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Life is Beautiful (1997)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Monty Python & the Holy Grail (1975)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Back to the Future (1985)
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Prestige (2006)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Raging Bull (1980)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
All the President’s Men  (1976)
Singing In the Rain (1952)
Modern Times (1936)
Some Like it Hot (1959)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
The Apartment (1960)
Rashomon (1950)
Spartacus (1960)
All About Eve (1950)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Amadeus (1984)
Titanic (1997)
Once Upon A Time in America (1984)
Easy Rider (1969)
The Green Mile (1999)
A Night at the Opera (1935)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Platoon (1986)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
The Great Dictator (1940)
Sixth Sense (1999)
Braveheart (1995)
Swing Time (1936)
The Bicycle Thief (1948)
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
The Apartment (1960)
Up (2009)
Goodfellas (1990)
The French Connection (1971)
Downfall (2004)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Last Picture Show (1971)
Metropolis (1927)
Do The Right Thing (1989)
The Sting (1973)
Blade Runner (1982)
Gladiator (2000)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Toy Story (1995)
Unforgiven (1992)
Ben Hur (1959)
The Elephant Man (1980)

Next week #48:  Rear Window vs. Lawrence of Arabia.  Or awesome vs. awesome. Nearly impossible to choose.