Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tokyo Godfathers

Yes the one Christmas movie almost everyone has never heard or seen but certainly should check out.

Tokyo Godfathers is an amazing movie centered around three homeless people who find a baby and take it upon themselves to find the little girl's rightful parents. What follows is a series of coincidences, near misses, comedy, emotion, and all centered around the most wonderful time of the year. I love this movie, the characters feel just as real as you and me, they all have emotional baggage and their own personalities, which bounce off each other so well. The animation is outstanding, some of it looking like real life Tokyo. I swear it seems like they took photos of Tokyo and then just painted over them, the whole look and feel of the movie is a surreal experience walking a thin line between animation and human reality. This is the sheer epitome of a character story, every action these people take is what moves the story along at a well adjusted pace going from quiet, somber slow moments to fast paced, energy fueled scenes with visual comedy that if you even blinked you would miss it. The events take place from Christmas Day all the way to New Years, so some people ask well why is it a Christmas movie? Although Christmas only takes place on a single day, the feel of Christmas is still there with showings of compassion and charity, kindness, nuturing, and all around sense of family and good will. Our main characters fight and bicker but in the end you know they still care about one another, and really isn't that what families are like around this time of the year? There's not a doubt in my mind that this is a Christmas movie, and an amazing one at that. I originally saw it on Netflix a few years ago, after hearing about it from one of my reviewers, Suede who lives in New Zealand and I knew after hearing his opinion on it I wanted to see it. Sadly it's not on Netflix now but you can buy the DVD for a reasonable price on Amazon, the film is only in Japanese with subtitles, no English dub has been made yet but many voice actors are keen on doing it here in the States. If you don't have a problem with foreign films that you need to read subtitles throughout, I really really recommend you pick up this movie. The funny thing is that Christmas is different in Japan than in the States. Obviously, every place is different in how they celebrate things. But from a western point of view Christmas in Japan is more like Valentine's Day, and Valentine's Day is more like Easter, while the more traditional western way of celebrating Christmas is set on New Year's. Man, that's bizzare but I really dig that. I know if I ever wanted to visit somewhere during winter it would be Japan hands down, it looks gorgeous in the snow! But anyway sorry to get off track, hunt this movie down, watch it, enjoy it, have a splendid Christmas or Chanukah or whatever you celebrate, just make sure to enjoy yourself and have tons of fun together. Happy Christmas from The Dude, see you in 2017!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Yeah, you knew we had to do this one sooner or later.

Can you believe I've never seen this until just recently? I've heard so much about it, and was really taking it at face value, and I really did enjoy watching it. For a 25 minute short it's a very complete story, with simple yet endearing animation, absolutely lovely music (I'm a sucker for jazz anyday.), very well done voice acting since it was all done by kids, and a central message that somehow means more now than it did back in 1965. Charlie Brown is feeling depressed around Christmas time feeling the spirit of the holiday is lost and only commercialism reigns, Lucy tells him he should help with the Christmas play where Linus tells all the kids exactly what Christmas is about, and then the special just kind of ends on a very pleasant and heartfelt note. Many people have analyzed the special for what it is, and the best example is to me, a simple editorial asking the question, is it overrated? I won't get into much detail of the editorial, but just merely leave a link at the end. I'd tell you to see it, but chances are you most likely will on television, lots of people will. Well now that we've talked about a Christmas special nearly everyone has seen, tomorrow we will look at a movie that nearly everyone has never even heard of, and trust me when I say it is a fantastic Christmas movie!

Is A Charlie Brown Christmas Overrated?--

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rogue One

I'm not disappointed.

New Star Wars movie!!! How was it? They did a very good job with it, it was a well made, well put together movie that encapsulates what happened before A New Hope. I enjoyed it, the story I totally rolled with, it was very believable that this is how the Rebels got the Death Star plans. The cast was great, even though I'm not the biggest Felicity Jones fan but Mads Mikkelsen and Donnie Yen and James Earl Jones were fantastic, and I have to say we see some unexpected faces in this movie. I was stunned to see so many familiar faces from the series. Senator Bail Organa from Episode 3 made an appearance, Darth Vader obviously, those two hecklers in the cantina from Episode 4, mentions of Obi-Wan, but most shocking of all was Peter Cushing. I was wondering if they were going to put Tarkin in the movie but...there he was! Peter Cushing as I live and breathe! It looked just like him, it sounded like him, I was freaking out in my seat whenever I saw him! That was positively shocking, the effects in this movie were so outstanding that they brought an old friend back from years gone by. Speaking of which, the film looks amazing with plenty of space battles, and blaster fights throughout. I was wondering if they were almost going to do a straight up war movie, and while it did have it's moments it still felt like Star Wars. They didn't screw around with the continuity, in fact they got it down impeccably with the attention to detail in all you see and remember from the original Star Wars. I'd like to see someone whine about that exhaust port on the Death Star now. What was surprising most is, most of the footage in the trailers is NOT in the movie. A good 80% of all the trailers look drastically different from the finished film. Now other films were like this, like Suicide Squad, the movie looked ever so slightly different from the film (Don't worry I still need to look back at Suicide Squad, I haven't forgotten.) but with this movie you might as well have not seen the trailers. Great movie, definitely go see it, I know I probably will again! Thanks for reading, enjoy the movie, and I shall see you guys next week.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Battle Of The Five Armies

I must be truthful in terms of this. I once told you that I saw The Hobbit movies, and well I can honestly say I told you the truth, I might not have told all of it. I never wanted it to end, the adventures, but all things must come to an end no matter how much you try to stop it. Today was the first time I saw The Battle Of The Five Armies.

After finally claiming the mountain and the imminent death of Smaug, the dwarves and Bilbo seem to have completed their quest. But Thorin grew sick, a sickness of the mind took over him, the dragon was with the gold too long, it started to drive Thorin mad. But there were some who resisted the King under the Mountain, an army of men and elves marched toward The Lonely Mountain, trying to bargain for the riches Thorin swore they would possess. He would not part with a single coin, thus beginning the war. But all were decieved, for another army was approaching the mountain, Sauron conjured an army to gain a foothold in this world again, starting with the mountain. The battle of the five armies begun. This film does not take any time getting down to the war for the mountain. It takes maybe 25 minutes before all hell breaks loose, and save for the last fifteen or so minutes, there is nothing but fighting going on. I'd almost say this movies outdoes even Return Of The King standards of battles but with Return Of The King, we knew the stakes. It was a battle for Middle Earth, a fight for everything, but here we know the story goes on past this point so the battles lack so much punch. It's not bad, the fights are magnificent but it just lacks all the tension. You want to know how it all ends yes, and surprisingly the battles never grated and felt like there was no time to even breathe, so I was very happy about that but the film just was missing something. The best scene in the entire movie is when Saruman, Elrond, and Galadriel stormed the fortress and rescued Gandalf, that was un-flipping-believable! I would pay money just to see that again! I also noticed the story got very Shakespearian with Thorin, a king slowly being driven mad, forcing everybody away from him, bloodthirsty and not having even a second guess about killing one of his friends but luckily that subsides although we still do kinda end with tragedy and death. Actually speaking of death, I'm not quite sure what happened halfway through this movie, in almost all The Hobbit movies we got violence and quite a bit of severing body parts but the movies did a good job of hiding it or not making it too bloody but this friggin' movie has blood splurting everywhere! It's like if Peter Jackson went from Oscar winning director back to his Brain Dead days, of violent, gory, and exploitation days. You see blood just splash all over the place! I swear on my life I saw an R rating before the movie began. An R rating?? Oh I see, Tolkien was never child friendly! Maybe it was just with the extended cut. Oh yes, and free word of warning, you know how I said the extended cut of Lord Of The Rings was the only way to watch it? Well...with The Hobbit it's the exact opposite. The extended cuts add nothing to the story. In fact the extended cuts actually hurt the movie. I prefer the much shorter theatrical cuts. Just proving that longer is not always better. Do I think The Hobbit needed 3 movies to tell the story? No. Did I still enjoy the three movies for what they did? Heck yes! But I would still just stick to The Lord Of The Rings, no disrespect to The Hobbit, I greatly enjoy the movies and appreciate what they did, but Lord Of The Rings just knocked it out of the park for me. But of course, that's just my opinion. Maybe you will enjoy these three movies compared to the other three movies, you never know. Well, that about does it for Middle Earth here for The Dude, not unless I really want to talk about the 70s animated one, I do really like it but I doubt it shall come to pass. Thank you for joining me on my last adventure for the year, but don't worry, there is still much more to talk about before the month is through. Catch you all later on down the road.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Desolation Of Smaug

Yeah, that....that's a way to end a movie.

The story continues in The Desolation Of Smaug as our travelling heroes inch closer and closer towards The Lonely Mountain and finally come face to face with the dragon Smaug. Meanwhile a much greater evil has been uncovered. To be truthful, I think this is my favorite of The Hobbit movies. The story progresses at a very good pace, never once do you get bored (And in some cases fixes problems of the book.), the characters are still fun and we get two new arrivals to the cast. An old friend from previous films, Legolas Greenleaf plus an entirely original character created for the movie, that's right a character not created by Tolkien is featured in the movie, Tauriel played by the absolutely stunning Evangeline Lilly who I have to say is a great welcome to this series. She doesn't feel out of place at all, she is an honorable and caring figure, and somehow is Arwen fully realized. Not many people know Arwen had much bigger roles planned in the films beyond horse riding and sexy crying, she was planned to be a warrior who fought at the battle of Helm's Deep but for some bizzare reason she got cut out, which sucks but now we got a true representation of an Elven warrior in full action, she is awesome. But not as awesome as something scaly, breathes fire, and flies. It's time to talk Benedict Cumberbatch people. Short version, best part of the entire movie. Long version, Jesus fish this is incredible! I mean what a casting choice, Ben really makes this creature leap off the screen, he is cunning, he is devious, he is everything you would want in a villain. After I saw the trailer for this movie, heard his voice, saw Smaug, it became very apparent I had to read the book. So I did, and you could bet millions of dollars when Smaug speaks in the book, Ben was heard in my head. The reveal of him in this movie is perfect, for those of you who just saw the trailer and said, oh I've seen the dragon now. No. You have seen hardly a thing. He is huge in this movie, and for the first half of his scenes you only see him with Bilbo (Insert Sherlock reference here.) which makes him look even bigger. If there was ever a single reason to see this movie, yeah it's Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug the dragon. And the ending...oh God, the ending. I saw this opening day, when that scene happened I was not very happy. Stupid cliffhangers right when I don't want it to stop. It still makes me mad, I want to watch the last movie right now. But I want to hold off until tomorrow so I can review it properly. I mean let's get down to brass tacks, if you stuck around to see the first movie then you will be hooked by the second if you haven't already. I know fantasy is still an underground film genre, but Lord Of The Rings really is what made it big and popular, so I understand if not many people can't get their heart into it like I have. And that's fine, opinions are never wrong but I always try new movies and tell people about them regardless because you never know if a movie will stick with you or not. But regardless, we have one more movie to wrap up so I will join you on the conclusion to this journey tomorrow.

Monday, December 12, 2016

An Unexpected Journey

A great start to an unforgettable adventure.

An Unexpected Journey is the first chapter to The Hobbit trillgy, a precursor to The Lord Of The Rings following Bilbo Baggins on his quest with a company of dwarves to reclaim their homeland from a great dragon. It's almost basic fantasy storytelling 101, but Tolkien made it into something so much greater in the book which I am proud to say I have read but have yet to claim The Lord Of The Rings as fellow completed readings. I was quite hesitant to learn it would be a trilogy of movies, because the book itself is a simple children's adventure book, but as first movies go I was impressed. The way Peter Jackson started this and what all he included did justice to the book, but now having greater technological use for the film warrants staggering visual effects, some so massive it would take dozens of viewings to catch everything. Middle Earth has never looked so incredible, both in familiar locations and all new ones that were yet to be discovered in the original movies. Also familiar cast members like Ian McKellen, and Hugo Weaving make returns with a whole new slew of characters, with the hero Bilbo played by Martin Freeman who I already enjoyed as an actor, but grew to love him even more after seeing him in this movie. He really nails my vision of a young Bilbo out on an adventure, he gets that persona down and interjects much humor and enjoyability in this part. All the dwarves headed by Thorin played by Richard Armitage, are great with all of them having identities and individual personas of their own, with not two feeling or even looking similar to another which does nothing but flesh out the already developed world, and you can easily pick which dwarf is your favorite. But one of the main aspects of the movie that makes it much better than what people give it credit for, is how the stories intertwine. This is not just a straight up potrayal of The Hobbit, because well Tolkien wrote The Hobbit first and intended it as a simple story for children and had no connections to his future books beyond setting and select few characters, so this movie does an incredible job laying the seeds of The Lord Of The Rings movies while still telling it's own story. The movie is different in tone as well, whereas Lord Of The Rings was an emotional fantasy epic that dealt with world changing events, The Hobbit is more or a less just a exciting adventure movie set within the world. Either way you cut it, An Unexpected Journey is a great start to a series of films that I can't wait to talk more about. Join me tomorrow as we approach The Lonely Mountain....

Sunday, December 11, 2016

It's Done. It's Over.

I'm glad to be here with all of you, here at the end of my school year. Now I can rightfully say it's the most wonderful time of the year. No more school for like a month, can focus on catching up on my shows and reviewing movies, get to celebrate Christmas with the family, all is right in my world. Thankfully, I timed my next series of reviews perfectly. Just a small journey there and back again, to celebrate. And I'm looking for someone to share in this adventure. Join me, won't you? I shall inform the others, be ready by tomorrow.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Die Hard

One of my favorite Christmas movies ever!

Die Hard one of the best action movies ever created starring Bruce Willis and the always awesome Alan Rickman. So the plot of Die Hard follows John McClane who is meeting with his divorced wife at a high rise tower for a buisness party before a group of terrorists break in, take hostages, and try to break into the vault in the basement to gain $640 million dollars, so John has to take on all the well armed, well trained terrorists while also battling the city police to prevent the hostages from being killed. It's a great plot, with awesome characters, spectacular action, and good sparing use of comedy. I think people need to see this movie just for Alan Rickman as the ruthless Hans Gruber, he friggin' slays it in this movie. You want a great villain, Alan Rickman was your man and this movie is proof of it. Bruce Willis really came into his own in the action genre after this, but damn guys can you power down the sequel machine? I have not seen one single movie after the first one. Why? Because, 1. This is a damn near impossible movie to top, 2. There are FAR too many sequels, I think we are up to about number 5 by now? Ridiculous. 3. I got maybe, 15 minutes into Die Hard 2 and I tapped out. You can't beat the original. Case closed. But hey, we got this movie so really doesn't matter. Because this is a movie worth your time around the holidays. But you may be saying, "But Dude, this doesn't have anything to do with Santa, Jesus, the Christmas spirit, or spending the holidays with your loved ones." and yes, you are correct. Does it diminish the movie though? Not at all, it has a Christmas feeling to it all even though there is no snow (It takes place in Los Angeles.), there are decorations, Christmas music playing, a few seasonal clothing pieces spread around, the most notable being the machine gun sweater (Which I wouldn't mind owning one day.), it just works. The damn movie ends on the song Let It Snow! What action movie ends on Let It Snow? This one, and I think maybe the second one. Why? I don't know, don't even think it took place at Christmas time. But getting back to the film at hand. I know I'm not alone in the fact that this is a Christmas movie, and quite honestly those types of people are awesome. I can harp on this movie all day, it is just that glorious. And if I'm being truthfully honest, this might be my favorite action movie of all time. It never gets old, I love the dialogue scenes with Alan Rickman, I love the shootouts and the unbelievable stuntwork, I love the comedy sprinkled in, and it has the best use of Ode To Joy ever put to celluloid. Watch it, have fun with it, give it a shot, and see a whole different kind of Christmas movie.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Yes, I'm serious! Gremlins is a great Christmas movie.

Directed by horror master Joe Dante, Gremlins is a bizzare, violent, and disturbing movie all set around the most wonderful time of the year. Makes sense to me! It starts in classic science fiction fashion, in a small town where a young teenager receives a most interesting pet for Christmas. Known as a Mogwai, this cute furry little fellow seems innocent enough as long as you follow these 3 rules: 1. Never put it in bright light, 2. Never get it wet, and 3. Never feed it after midnight. Unfortunately, the Mogwai named Gizmo accidentaly gets wet and actually multiplies, creating several other Mogwai's all with different personalities. Not very long after, through a simple slip of time the multiplied Mogwai's eat after midnight causing them to mutate and transform into red eyed, scaly, sharp toothed little demons from hell who take no time to start terrorizing and attacking the locals. So as it is in these movies, it's up to our main character, his crush, and his pet to stop all the hell raising critters. Pretty great movie in execution although not being highly original in concept. The main highlight of the movie are the gremlins, they are completely nuts. They just want to party all night, kick ass, and are not afraid to severely hurt people. This movie has to be seen to be believed man. I cannot even elaborate on the proceedings without sounding like I am on five different kinds of hard drugs. Watch this movie! Zach Galligan is a great protagonist, Phoebe Cates is a heart throb if I've ever seen one, all the supporting cast is great, especially Dick Miller. Dick Miller is the man. The sheer shenanigans in this movie are too many to count, the horrific creature deaths are a sight to behold since all the gremlins are animatronics, it is unreal how great the effects are! It is very Christmas in atmosphere, and it surprises me how many people pop this movie in around December. I mean who doesn't want to see creepy creatures brutally attacking people and seeing them die in fantastic gruely ways? I know I do. And maybe you should too, so give it a watch. Just don't let the Santa speech sink too deep, that's some heavy stuff man.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Arthur Christmas

Now we start December proper.

The growing Christmas cult film that I have heard so much about and have finally watched. How was it? Pretty darn good. Arthur Christmas is a wonderful animated film done by the same folks who gave us Hotel Transylvania, follows the family of Claus as they soon discover after another flawless night of delivering presents that a child has been missed. This springs letter counter Arthur to travel across the globe to deliver the final present with the help of his grandad. Where do I start? So much to talk about. First off, the animation is great, it is fast paced, fluid, and works beautifully with the film. Sony Pictures Animation knows how to make animated movies so well! Second, I just love the idea behind it all, that there has been generation after generation of Claus delivering presents to all the children from Saint Nicholas onward, and we get three generations of Santa's. We have Grandsanta voiced by Bill Nighy as the more traditional and old fashioned Santa of them all, red suit and hat, sleigh and reindeer, the thing you think of first when it comes to Santa Claus. Then we have the current Santa voiced by Jim Broadbent, in charge who is one of the best Santa potrayals ever done in film, he is sweet, loves his job, but sadly has memory problems which is forcing him to retire, and that is truly sad because you see how much this job means to him, he tries his hardest to do good. And lastly, we have the current generation, Steve and Arthur, Steve voiced by the outstanding Hugh Laurie is more technology orientated, and militarized catapulting the elf's into becoming more like special force operatives than the elf's who just make toys. While Arthur voiced by James McAvoy, is a bit of a clutz but you can see in his eyes that Christmas is life, he answers all the children's letters to Santa, has nothing but a heart of gold, and is willing to do anything to make sure children have a perfect Christmas. This creates dynamics that mix and collide in the movie, that make it that more great. And I have to commend the fact that there is no bad guy in this movie, true you may not fully agree with people's perception of how Christmas should be done, but there is no wrong way to do it. They all state how Christmas should be done, and you can see it either way. Whether it's delivering presents in a sleigh led by reindeer, down a chimney and placed under a tree, or by a spaceship with elf's covertly placing every present in the world. I just love this movie for that kind of premise alone, not even counting the humor, the characters, and the love of Christmas present. This is a Christmas classic in my eyes, right up there with It's A Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story. If you want a truly different yet familiar Christmas movie, you couldn't choose a better one than this. It's a lot of fun, and might make you look at the big guy in the red suit a little bit different.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows

Boy did this series lose it's identity.

Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows hardly feels like a Sherlock Holmes story. It has elements which consist of five characters and one scene related to the books. Our story picks up awhile after the first movie, Watson has ben married to his wife Mary, and they are off to their honeymoon. However, several bombings have been going around which causes Holmes to sidetrack Watson off his honeymoon and to stop the guiding hands in this catastrophe, Professor Moriarty. Sounds interesting right? Well if you're a fan of mostly action, decent bits of comedy, and absolutely NO mystery, then boy howdy is this film for you! I repeat, a Sherlock Holmes movie....wiyh no mystery. Everything is spelled out for you, there are no clues, no deductions, just a trail of slow-mo action scenes coupled together with questionable disguises, and fair comedy but that does not save this movie. We get our original three stars from the first one, but also two newcomers, Stephen Fry as Sherlock's brother Mycroft who is funny because it's Stephen Fry he is quite funny regularly, and Jared Harris as Professor Jim Moriarty...oh boy. I have nothing against this actor, terrible Moriarty. I do not look at this man and go, "Ah Sherlock Holmes greatest nemesis!" I see a guy. He's not menacing, devilishly brilliant, or threatning. He is merely there. Oh God. There is one good thing I can talk about in the entire movie, and it all boils down to one single scene, at the end. It's the most Sherlock thing in the whole damn movie, a chess game between Holmes and Moriarty. Brilliant, something I can get behind at last! The only part of the movie you should ever watch, culminating into one of the most famous stories from the books....The Reichanbach Fall. But I only recommend the chess scene, beyond that I can gurantee you will miss nothing. Stick to the first movie, or even better watch the BBC series Sherlock. That is all for this week, join me next week for some real Christmas classics.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Sherlock Holmes

Best way to start December!

Yes, I liked reviewing a Sherlock Holmes movie so much in December I am doing it again. I have always greatly enjoyed this movie and I couldn't think of anyone better as playing the world famous detective than Robert Downey Jr. he is just brilliant as him! Okay story time, our partners in crime solving Sherlock and Watson are hip deep in a case that arised from quite peculiar circumstances, a grand mystery with no clear answers in sight until the very end involving conspiracies, cults, and a much bigger plot behind it all. But of course we all know who's behind it. If you have a passing knowledge of Sherlock Holmes you know who orchestrated this whole scheme. Major brownie points for the setting, fitting the time period the books were written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I mean spot on. The cast is wonderful in our three main characters, and quite decent in supporting. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have excellent chemistry together as friends, just their witty banter between each other never fails to amuse me. Rachel McAdams is an interesting choice as Irene Adler, but she gets the character down very well although I don't recall Irene being very open with how much she loved Sherlock. It also has pretty terrific music, I just can't explain it any other way than being well...Sherlockian, I hear it and I immediately think Sherlock Holmes. With one exception, just had a great and intense scene, Irene nearly escaped death, Watson runs out and Holmes follows, tripwire goes off, Watson yells Holmes' name, film goes slow-mo, big chain of explosions going off everywhere, and what do I hear? Bizzare, dischordant violin music. I don't hate the music, it fits in the world potrayed perfectly, but not that scene. Would have been way more effective if you barely heard anything, perhaps ever so faint sound effects of explosions or just dead silence! It would have created a better scene. And I really hate to say this but, you don't know what all has transpired until 30 minutes before the film ends. You constantly see things, ever so subtle hints, clues, minute details but never any explanation of it. Half the fun of a mystery movie is trying to piece it together yourself. This never happens in this movie. You're just left to wait until all is explained, now some people can argue that is a good thing, only Holmes can pick up on these things and no one else so it makes sense. Other people like me can argue it never hurts to actually leave clues for the audience to pick up on. Participation in movies is rare, this is where the mystery genre comes in. It encourages you to become part of the movie, not an observer but a actor. I love the exanation, taking what seems to be pure malicious magic into hard scientific facts. That is awesome. Now beyond all that, I still like the movie, I would definitely recommend it to people, and I think it would be sort of a fun competition to see how much people can pick up on throughout the film. Give it a watch and put those detective skills to work.