Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Episode 34

The Marine - For John Triton (John Cena), being a marine is everything. That's why he feels lost when he's discharged for disobeying a direct order even though in doing so he saved the lives of three fellow marines. Returning home to South Carolina to be with his wife Kate (Kelly Carlson), John takes a job as a security guard at an office building to avoid sitting around the house all day. However when he puts an unruly man through a plate glass window on the first day at his new job, Kate realizes that her husband wasn't cut out to live a normal life. To get away from the city for a while, the two of them hop into the car and leave for a vacation in the mountains. Meanwhile, a diamond thief named Rome (Robert Patrick) and his lackeys have taken it upon themselves to pull a high profile robbery, making off with twelve million dollars in diamonds and blowing up a cop car on a busy street. As they make their getaway, Rome and co. happen to pull over at a gas station where John and Kate have stopped to fill up. When a cop car arrives and one of Rome's goons gets trigger happy the diamond thieves hop into John's car and speed off with Kate inside. Thus begins John Triton's quest to rescue the one thing that still matters in his life: his wife. I won't string you along here...The Marine is a piece of shit. Honestly, I can't believe it got a theatrical release. This movie reminded me of every direct-to-video Steven Seagal and Dolph Lundgren flick that I've ever seen. The acting is terrible, the script is hardly worth the paper it was written on, and the story is completely unoriginal. But who really expected anything more from John Cena's acting debut? The sad thing is that he's not even the worst part of the film, though. All of Robert Patrick's henchmen are terrible. Most notably bad is the character of Morgan as played by Anthony Ray Parker. His character is meant to be the comic relief but he just comes off as ridiculous. Just wait until you hear him describe how a childhood run-in with a camp counselor turned him off to rock candy for the rest of his life. It's hard to watch because it's so horribly written and delivered, and it's as stupid as it sounds. Abigail Bianca is overly bitchy, Damon Gibson has absolutely no purpose in the film, and I've seen lawn equipment with more personality than Manu Bennett. Robert Patrick tries his best to give the events of the movie a little validity, but even he fails to escape the quicksand that is the film's terrible script which drags down everyone involved. The acting aside, anyone who saw this movie was obviously in it for the action. I've got news for you though, it ain't worth it. Considering that it's star is a pro-wrestler, I was expecting a lot of hand to hand combat in The Marine. Unfortunately all this movie really has to offer in the action department are a menagerie of huge explosions. There are maybe four fist fights in The Marine and each of them lasts all of a minute if we're lucky. On the other hand you can expect to see no less than two police cars, a gas station, a shack in the swamp, and a barn full of propane tanks all explode over the course of the film, and admittedly the explosions are pretty impressive. They're all massive and usually involve John Cena diving away from them in the direction of either a pond, a lake, or a river. The first explosion of the movie is particularly interesting because of the close proximity to the blast that the stuntman is standing. You'll see what I mean if you check out the movie (which I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing). There is a car chase scene toward the beginning of the film that isn't bad, but since when are there police cruisers that are Camaros? I would advise against watching The Marine as the best thing about it is probably the trailer for Commando that you can find in the DVD's special features for some reason.

Flags of Our Fathers - Everyone has seen the famous photograph of six men raising an american flag on a hilltop at the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. Flags of Our Fathers is the story of those men. After the photo was taken and found it's way to America, the men in charge of selling war bonds used the image to inspire people to "buy more bonds". It was an uplifting image that gave people on the home front hope. As the picture graced the cover of every newspaper in the states, the six young men from the photo continued to fight and die in Iwo Jima while their visage spread a not-entirely-true message to their friends and families. As the image became more famous the U.S. government requested that the soldiers from the picture be returned to the states to help promote the sale of even more bonds. By this point only three of the six remained alive: John Bradley (Ryan Phillipe), Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), and Ira Hayes (Adam Beach). The three of them were shipped home and began a tour of the U.S. to inspire the common folk to support the war effort, a task that Rene and John were proud to perform. However Ira, feeling strong guilt over leaving his fellow soldiers behind in the trenches, battled with depression and alcoholism. In the wake of his behavior the men who were responsible for bringing him home wondered if perhaps they'd made a mistake. My grandfather loves Flags of Our Fathers. Of course he does, and why shouldn't he? Not only is it about World War II, which he lived through (though didn't fight in), but it's also directed by Clint Eastwood. Score! Sentimental war film plus old-school cowboy? Sign him up. I'm not as quick to jump on the bandwagon, though. I found Flags of Our Fathers interesting, but I also found it boring. I've seen the photograph that the movie is about plenty of times over the course of my life, but I never knew that there was such an involved story behind it. That's the part of the film that I was most drawn to: the history of the photo. However it was still a rather dull journey. After watching the movie I almost felt as thought I'd have rather seen a fifteen minute high school film reel about the topic than a two hour and twelve minute movie. The real drawback for me was that the filmmakers tried to jam way too much sappiness onto the screen. I understand that it's based on real people and events and that anything involving one of our country's wars is going to have the expected amount of sympathetic scenes injected into it, but all this movie was was one big sentimental cry for attention. As I said, I enjoyed learning the story behind the photograph, but I really could have done without all the cinematic whining. I realize how insensitive and ignorant this makes me sound, but would it have killed Clint to either drop twenty minutes of characters staring teary-eyed at one another or at least throw in some more actual war scenes? I'm not asking for Saving Private Ryan or Full Metal Jacket here, but for a war movie Flags of Our Fathers was way too dull. The sad thing is that toward the beginning of the movie there are a few really cool battle scenes on the beaches of Iwo Jima. The key word here being "few". It seems that as soon as the fighting started it ended, and then after getting you all hyped-up for fighting the movie focuses on drama. Overall I just left Flags of Our Fathers with a feeling of disappointment. It has a good message and a good story to tell, but in my opinion it was told in a poor fashion.

11:14 - A drunk driver hits a pedestrian and panics. A teenage girl, unsure of which of her boyfriends got her pregnant, talks them both into paying for her abortion. Three friends driving around in a van and causing a ruckus make a dire mistake. A father discovers the dead body of his daughter's boyfriend and, assuming she killed him, attempts to dispose of the body. A young man in need of some quick cash convinces his co-worker at a gas station to help him rob the store. What do all of these events have in common? They all occur within a few minutes of one another before culminating in a shocking way at 11:14 PM. Not much of a plot synopsis, I know, but it's nearly impossible to describe what happens in this movie without giving away information important to the plot. 11:14 is yet another film in the vein of Babel, Go, and Crash, in that it follows the stories of multiple people who don't realize that they're affecting each others' lives. However 11:14 plays out a bit differently from the others. The events in Crash play out in chronological order while those in Babel and Go are revealed to audiences in whichever order the filmmakers believe will tell the story in the best manner. 11:14's events play almost in reverse order. I believe that is why after seeing so many movies with the same concept, 11:14 didn't feel like I'd seen it before. The writer/director (Greg Marcks) does a great job of keeping each story ambiguous enough that the audience will be wondering how they all fit together right up until the very end of the film. Also, there are enough humorous and/or uncomfortable situations to really play with the viewer's emotions. All of the actors in the film do a great job with the parts that they are given, including Hilary Swank of whom I'm not a big fan. Speaking of the actors, there are quite a few notable ones in this film. Tom Hanks' son Colin plays a role in 11:14 that I wouldn't have really pictured him in. Rachel Leigh Cook is probably the hottest that I've ever seen her in this movie as a rebellious teen. Even Patrick Swayze hands in a great performance the likes of which I haven't seen from him until now. With the cast that this movie has, I'm not sure why I hadn't heard of it before. If you get the chance, I'd definitely give 11:14 a try. It's a fairly fast-paced, fun story with lots of interesting twists and surprises, and after you see it I guarantee you'll think twice before having sex in a graveyard again.

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