Tag Archives: Bruce Willis

Christmas Movies That Aren’t

As the Christmas season winds down and we reach that most treasured of days, I hope that you are spending the next couple of days close to those you love. As you fill your gaping maw with sugared treats and completely overindulge yourself in every form of excess, do so as a family. The world of DVD and digital streaming has been overloaded to bring you all of the well known holiday classics which take us all back to a simpler time in our lives and remind us of the true reason for the season.

Each year I enjoy a few standard Christmas classics, mostly of the comedic variety. Probably the same films and television episodes with which you are familiar and appear on many of these lazy, hastily written holiday movie guides. While putting forth even less effort I bring you:

Top 5 Movies That Mention Christmas Briefly, but do not Place The Holiday Central to Their Plots(catchy no?)

L.A. Confidential:

Based on the James Ellroy novel of same name and boasting an all-star cast of Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacy and Nicole Kidman. This police drama about the deaths of hookers who look like movie stars set in 1940s Los Angeles is a top notch thriller. Everyone is dirty, but they don’t all necessarily prefer it that way. The film succeeds by showing that everyone has a motivation for their choices, right or wrong.  So where is the Christmas? This film opens with several drunken police officers leaving an office Christmas party to work over some suspects believed to have injured a fellow officer. This event termed “Bloody Christmas” by the newspapers is in many ways what brings our heroes together on their way to solving the crime.

Lethal Weapon: 

image property of Warner Bros.

image property of Warner Bros.

Before Mel Gibson was an Oscar winning director and crazy conspiracy theory spouting DUI recipient, he was an actor in action movies. This little gem from the late 80s is still the best example of that work. Gibson plays Martin Riggs, a suicidal cop who shoots first and later, often failing to ask questions. His partner is Roger Murtaugh played by another future crazy person in the form of Danny Glover. The two uncover a massive drug smuggling ring which leads them to Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey being another future nut job). Working on this film must have come with some amount of hazard pay. Lethal Weapon is also responsible for 3 sequels and turning every movie for 15 or so years into a buddy/action/comedy. So where is the Christmas? Late in the film when Mr. Joshua decides to make things personal, it is a Christmas Eve street fight between him and Riggs that decides nothing and ends about the way you would expect it to.

 

Gremlins:

Image Property of 20th Century Fox

Image Property of 20th Century Fox

Is this a horror movie? Is it a comedy? I cannot say for certain. I can say it was the 80s, I was a boy and I loved this movie. A teenager receives a Christmas gift in the form of a strange adorable and easily merchandised pet. He is instructed to not get him wet, not feed him after midnight and not to expose him to bright light. He does all of these things and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.

 

 

 

Die Hard/Die Hard 2: Die Harder: 

It seemed simple enough. Fly out to LA and visit your estranged wife for the holidays. When terrorists take over the Nakatomi tower they didn’t count on wise-cracking New York city cop John McLane and his ability to… well… kill terrorists. The best action movie–maybe ever– begins and ends with Christmas.

image property of 20th century Fox

image property of 20th century Fox

While subsequent sequels removed the Christmas angle, Die Hard 2 reveled in it. With Holly and John McLane reconciled, living in LA and visiting DC for the holidays. Who could have expected that terrorists would take over the airport? Never travel with John McLane on the holidays unless you like spending Christmas eve fending off terrorists.

Have a Merry Christmas Cool Shippers!!

What did I miss?

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What Happens in the Kremlin Stays in the Kremlin

RED was the sleeper hit of 2010. The well-written action/comedy exceeded expectations both in quality and commercial success. It is littlered_2_poster_teaser wonder  the film was destined to do well with Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, Bruce Willis and John Malkovich portraying aging retired CIA, MI6 and KGB operatives. As is the current nature of Hollywood, the sequel was a forgone conclusion. Amazingly all of the fantastic talent returned for the second outing.

RED, along with the Expendables (2010), touched off a type of action film renaissance–not just a renewed appreciation for the genre, but a glow placed on the stars that drove the genre in the 80s and 90s.  What differentiates RED is its reliance on those who were often not action stars, and John Malkovich providing high comic relief.

RED2 begins with Bruce Willis’ Frank Moses once again trying to adjust to civilian life. Moses and his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) are experiencing a very realistic relationship issue. Following the events of RED Frank is overly worried about Sarah’s safety, and Sarah has gotten bored with their non action RED 2packed lives. After the presumed death of Malkovich’s Marvin, Moses is brought in for questioning about a portable nuclear device the details of which have just been released via Wikileaks. After a fantastic shootout between Moses and various special forces, led by the very capable Neal McDonough, Moses and the not dead Marvin are forced to go on the run in an attempt to clear their names.

Our unlikely team of heroes are joined by Cathrine Zeta-Jones as a former love interest of Moses’ and Anthony Hopkins as the delightfully mad scientist who invented the bomb at the center of the plot. The trail leads them to Paris and Moscow all the our team is stalked by the “worlds greatest assassin” played by Byung-hun Lee.

RED2 explores complex relationships and displays depth even though it doesn’t have to. The action sequences are a tad over the top, so much so that it seems to poke fun at more serious movies in the genre. The new characters and exotic locations are fantastic. Though often accused of phoning it in as of late, Bruce Willis’ performance is one of his best. He conveys a great deal of emotion through facial expression, and seems to show genuine surprise and irritation as he reacts to some of the more ridiculous scenarios. red2set-116

RED2 doesn’t break any new ground, and it doesn’t need to. What it does has already been done. Where it succeeds is in its acknowledgment of that. Everyone is doing it, but from where I stand, no one is doing it better.

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G.I. Joe: Retaliation: Can The Rock and Bruce Willis Make It Better?

Seriously, how many movies are The Rock and Bruce Willis in this year? Every time I turn around there’s a new trailer out with one of them is in it. It appears that studios have it in their heads that these two will “spruce up” any movie. And while that might work in some cases (The Rock in Fast Five), it’s not for others (Bruce Willis in Alpha Dog, The Rock in The Tooth Fairy). So is it possible that bringing both actors in on G.I. Joe: Retaliation will  repair the damage done to our fanboy/fangirl hearts by Rise of the Cobra?

Cobra Commander, the way he should look. (image source: MGM)

Cobra Commander, the way he should look. (image source: MGM)

If we’re making a decision based on what we’ve seen in trailers, then the answer is a strong maybe. The trailers make that film look like it’s going to be an action-packed blockbuster but that’s what trailers are supposed to do. They’re supposed to get you hyped up. Trailers can be deceiving though (remember Funny People? Wasn’t funny at all!). I did notice some improvements from the first one. Snake Eyes doesn’t have a mouth anymore, they fixed Cobra Commander’s helmet, and they added Ray Stevenson to the cast (he really does make a movie better, i.e. Punisher: War Zone). However, Channing Tatum is still in the film (although I think he might get killed off). Two out of three ain’t bad, I guess.

I can’t help but feel that this film won’t be as great as I’m wanting it to be. The first film let me down greatly, as I’m sure it did many others, so it’s going to take something major to renew my faith in this series. Bringing back Storm Shadow helps, as long as his return from death isn’t because he’s a clone or something stupid like that. Clones, like zombies, are overrated. They’re staying true to the original series by bringing in characters like Flint, Lady Jaye, Roadblock, and Jinx, instead of making up new characters that no one is going to care about. And the side-of-a-mountain ninja battle looks like it’s going to be pretty epic. Not to mention, RZA is part of the cast as well, playing Blind Master. Being a fan of Wu-Tang, I find this to be awesome.

Is Storm Shadow a clone? Let's hope not. (image source: MGM)

Is Storm Shadow a clone? Let’s hope not. (image source: MGM)

With this film, I’m going to wait and see  before making my complete judgement. The trailer urges me to believe it will be better, but the trailers for the first film made me think it was going to be good, and I was let down. I don’t want to think that MGM is relying on The Rock and Bruce Willis to be the driving forces of this fill but there’s a good chance that is what they’re going for. Hopefully they’ve put a little more into this film than two blockbuster action stars and crossed fingers for good luck. A stronger script with a solid plot, talented actors that aren’t in need of an acting coach (I’m talking to you,Tatum), and some wicked action sequences are going to make Retaliation the better G.I. Joe film.

 

G.I.

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What 2013 Has to Offer on the Big Screen

I thought I’d take a moment this week to briefly look at what’s hitting the box office this year and give a quick prediction on the outcome of each.

  1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – January 25th. Premise: Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) play the fairy tale brother and sister who are all grown up and have become professional witch hunters. Prediction: Van Helsing meets Brothers Grimm, which means a lot of action with an intriguing story but hopefully with more Grimm and less Helsing.
  2. John Dies at the End – January 25th. Premise: You take a drug, it sends you through time and space, you might come back normal, or you might come back as something else. Something otherworldly. Now the world is in danger of a sinister invasion and it’s up to two college dropouts to save it. Prediction: Dude, Where’s My Car? meets Buckaroo Banzai but with Paul Giamatti for added effect. Definitely worth a viewing, high or not.
  3. A Good Day to Die Hard – February 15th. Premise: John McClane (Bruce Willis) and his son travel to Russia to fight Russians and stop a nuclear weapons heist. Prediction: I think it might be getting to the point where it might be a good idea for John to die. Hard.
  4. Warm Bodies – February 1st. Premise: A zombie becomes human again through the power of love, other zombies follow suit. Possible hilarity, horror, and action ensues. Prediction: I think someone might be trying to “Twilight-ize” zombies. Let’s hope not.
  5. Oz: The Great and Powerful – March 8th. Premise: A prequel to The Wizard of Oz telling the story of how Oz (James Franco) becomes the Wizard. And it’s directed by Sam Raimi. Win win. Predictions: I think this film will be fantastic and be the magical wonder that Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland failed to be.
  6. G.I. Joe: Retaliation – March 29th. Premise: All but a few Joes are killed off by Cobra. Now it’s up to the remaining Joes (The Rock, Channing Tatum, some other people), including the original Joe (Bruce Willis) to, for lack of a better word, retaliate. Prediction: Hopefully this film will offer some retribution for the let down that was G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.
  7. Evil Dead – April 12th. Premise: A remake of the original with a female lead (Jane Levy) in place of Bruce Campbell’s Ash. It’s also promising less humor and schtick and more blood and gore. Sounds promising. Predictions: Hardcore fans will be difficult to convince, but from what I’ve seen so far of this flick, they’ll be won over. It looks wicked.
  8. Iron Man 3 – May 3rd. Premise: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) returns to take on his greatest foe yet, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). From the looks of things, this might be the Dark Knight Rises of the Iron Man series. Ya know, a very powerful foe shows up, strips him of everything, and then Tony must find the hero in himself to defeat his enemy. This also begins Marvel’s Phase II. Prediction: Probably won’t be the best of the three films but I’m sure it’ll outdo Iron Man 2. And make Marvel a lot of money.
  9. Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17th. Premise: Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the rest of the Enterprise crew return to take on a most deadly foe, possibly Kahn, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Prediction: This film will be epic, just like the first, and seeing Benedict as a bad guy is going to be sweet. This is a can’t miss flick.
  10. Now You See Me – June 7th. Premise: A film about bank-robbing illusionists, directed by Louis Leterrier and scored by The Chemical Brothers. Enough said. Prediction: I have a feeling this is going to be one of those twist-and-turns, mind-f*ck types of film. But with bank-robbing illusionists.
  11. Much Ado About Nothing – June 7th. Premise: Joss Whedon adapted this classic Shakespearean tale while making The Avengers. He cast it with people from Firefly, Buffy, Angel, and The Avengers. He made it because of his insecurities with taking on a huge project like The Avengers. It’s Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare….do I really need to say anything else? Prediction: I love Joss Whedon. I love Shakespeare. Without even seeing it, I love this film.
  12. Man of Steel – June 14th. Premise: Zack Snyder directs, Christopher Nolan produces, and a bunch of great actors star in what is sure to be the best Superman film ever. And a film that will hopefully restart the series and lead into a Justice League film. Prediction: The more I see of this, the more I believe that this film will be one of the greatest comic book films of all time. But I’ve been wrong before.
  13. World War Z – June 21st. Premise: Brad Pitt stars in this adaptation of Max Brooks’ bestselling novel about a U.N. employee trying to stop a worldwide zombie outbreak. Prediction: I’m pretty much done with the whole zombie genre, and I haven’t read the book, so I’ll probably wait until this comes out on Blu-ray.
  14. Pacific Rim – July 12th. Premise: Guillermo del Toro writes and directs this film about giant robots fighting to save the world from giant alien monsters. Prediction: I was sold at Guillermo del Toro. The rest is just icing on the cake.
  15. wolverine_jackman_660The Wolverine – July 26th. Premise: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan to train with samurais and take on a powerful new foe, The Silver Samurai. Prediction: This has to be better than Wolverine Origins. If not, I give up on Hugh Jackman. And Wolverine.
  16. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – August 16th. Premise: Part 2 of the series finds Percy (Logan Lerman) and his friends searching for the mythical Golden Fleece. Prediction: I enjoyed the first film, so I may go see this one. I’m hoping this film will fill some of the void that Harry Potter left, but I doubt it.
  17. Riddick – September 6th. Premise: Vin Diesel returns to his most badass character to take on new alien predators, new mercs, and an old foe. Prediction: I will watch this film because I love the others. I will hope this film is the last in the series because I don’t want this series to be run into the ground like Diesel’s other popular series, Fast and Furious.
  18. Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers – September 27th. Premise: Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) discovers that the machine he’s created is still creating food-animal hybrids and wreaking havoc. Now it’s up to him to stop it once and for all. Prediction: If you don’t like the first film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, you have no soul. No but seriously, the first film was hilarious and great for the whole family. This one will be too. I can’t wait.
  19. Oldboy – October 11th. Premise: Spike Lee’s remake of the ultraviolent Korean cult classic about a man (Josh Brolin) who has five days to figure out why he was imprisoned for 15 years without explanation. Prediction: Of all the films on the list, this is one I’m looking forward to the most. I love the original, and I cannot wait for this remake.
  20. The World’s End – October 25th. Premise: Edgar Wright directs a film about five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival. Prediction: This is the final film in Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s “blood and ice cream” trilogy, so I hope it’ll be pretty damn good. I have a feeling it will be.
  21. Ender’s Game – November 1st. Premise: Based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, 70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion. Prediction: Die-hard scifi fans will go ape over this film and then probably rip it apart. That’s how it works. I want to read the book before I watch it.
  22. Thor: The Dark World – November 8th. Premise: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) battles an ancient race of Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who threatens to plunge the universe back into darkness. Prediction: Part two of Marvel’s Phase II looks to be another epic win with the addition of Doctor Who number nine as a baddie. Get ready to nerd out, kids.
  23. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – December 13th. Premise: The journey continues for the Dwarves, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) as they seek to retrieve their gold from the dragon, Smaug (voice by Benedict Cumberbatch). Prediction: Do I really need to predict anything for this? People will flock and empty their wallets for this film. We all know what’s going to happen.
  24. Anchorman: The Legend Continues – December 20th. Premise: The Channel 4 News Team returns for more crazy on-set adventures. Predictions: Probably won’t be a hilarious as the first but I’m sure it will be freakin’ hilarious! And filled with many great one-liners that will be quoted for years to come.

I know I’ve missed a few films here and there, but I don’t really care. I think the list is long enough as it is now. It doesn’t need any more.

What films are you looking forward to this year?

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