Sunday, May 23, 2010

A little light on laughs, a little light on smiles...

At least we still have LOST! 

The weekend was a bust at the theater.  MacGruber garnered a 2.5 horn review and Shrek Forever After gets 3 horns. 

I am smack dab in the middle of the end of LOST and I have never wanted to be typing less.  I've cried three times now.  I'm sure 4 and 5 are forthcoming.  This is a great swan song to a great series.

I'll get back with you again soon.  Maybe about MacGruber and Shrek, maybe not.  They didn't hold a candle to what I am watching right now.  For now, it is the end of LOST.  The show that for better or worse, kept us captivated for the last 6 years. 

Thank you cast and crew for a great run.  You won't be soon forgotten.

Yours truly,

The Reel Rhino

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Little Reel Rhino to Hold You Over...

Firstly, this is not my review of MacGruber or Shrek Forever After.  Both of those are very shirtly forthcoming.  In the meantime, you know how I love to hear the sound of my own here is a short Reel Rhino video to hold you over until I get my review post out....


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reel Rhino Review - ROBIN HOOD

This is not the review for Gladiator. This movie is not Gladiator. In the words of Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes: "It's me, get over it." Such is the same here. This is Russell Crowe...Robin Hood. This is not Russell Crowe...Gladiator. Get over it.

Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Brian Bedford (in voice only), and Cary Elwes have all donned the tights. Now it's is time for Maximus to take his shot. Russell Crowe skips the tights and goes for more period-proper attire. A battle robe, a cape (very conservatively used by these men of the hood), and a head to toe number that comes off as Carhartt-chic.

Costuming aside, Robin Hood is a well told tale of Robin Hood the man, before he became Robin Hood the legend. Why are people slighting this effort because it stars and is directed by the duo who brought us GLADIATOR. Gladiator was a great film! ROBIN HOOD is an enjoyable film.

Toe to toe, Gladiator wins every time. It is a better story, more original, and just makes me feel warm and fuzzy each time I hear Crowe spout to Commodus:

"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."

Which is only slightly better than and also one of my favorites to: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Well with Robin Hood, we get something as noble as the Gladiator line, and perhaps a bit easier to remember (no spoiler as Crowe reads it in the trailer): "Rise, and Rise Again; Until Lambs Become Lions"

The primary difference between this and Gladiator deals directly with the hero's journey. In Gladiator, Maximus was a hero from the word go. He was a battle-tested, revered General who fought for Ceasar and won. In Robin Hood, Robin Longstride is but a noble archer, in the King's conquering army. It could be argued that he is a leader, but when he gives the King a bit of lip, he ends up bound in the stockade. Not quite the hero's introduction one would expect. He serves King Richard the Lionheart with respect, but given the circumstances that develop, he quickly decides that a solo journey is the best route to a happy life.

I say a solo journey, but of course along for the ride are his Merry Men, played perfectly by Kevin Durand, Scott Grimes, and Alan O'Doyle. I don't know about you, but even with a believable accent, Grimes will always be Sgt. Donald Malarkey from BAND OF BROTHERS. Durand has the most character development, and even it is a little light for regular merry man LITTLE JOHN. Durand is a bulky cat. He has had a number of recognizable roles, most notably and recently as Martin Kearney on Lost.

Friar Tuck is personified perfectly in Mark Addy and he has a nice story line through the flick. He is appropriately underused as the tone of the film does its best to remain more solemn than comedic, although there are a few chuckle-moments.

The only question mark of a character was William Hurt. He really serves no purpose and I think writing out his part would have sliced the flick down from 2 hrs 20 mins to a more enjoyable stretch. Perhaps they are building his character for the sequel, which has certainly been set up here.

Cate Blanchett and Max Von Sydow play daughter (Maid Marion) and father (Sir Walter Locksley) and their dynamic is excellent. Early in the film, Maid Marion's, husband is killed in battle and Robin Longstride having sworn a blood oath, is the bearer of the news and to return the sword of the son to the father. Von Sydow is the acting tour de force of this effort, playing the elder Locksley as well as any role in his recent past. Von Sydow is to Robin Hood as Richard Harris (R.I.P.) was to Gladiator. Yeah, I know...if it isn't like Gladiator, why keep drawing the damn conclusion!

Baddies are afoot including a great run by Mark Strong as a marauding Frenchman and Oscar Issac as Prince John. Two Mark Strong the official bad guy of all movies...Blackwood in Sherlock; Kick-Ass, etc...Also, is he the bargain bin version of Andy Garcia? Actually, I really like Strong's performances in all of these flicks, but the first time I realized that was seeing him (RocknRolla), I really thought he was Andy Garcia!

This is a solid flick and it is intended to be watched in the theater. Ridley Scott is truly a great director of our day and he creates beautiful worlds. I don't know that there is any Oscar-bait here, minus a best-supporting nod, perhaps, but all of the primaries are in top form and it makes for an easy to enjoy few hours.

I have a music-crush on a local Kansas City band called The Elders, who play traditional Arse-kicking Irish rock. Some of the tunes belted out by the Merry Men remind me of the musical sounds of the Elders, which was a bonus for me.

My biggest complaint comes when considering the rating. This is a PG-13 offering and I think a slight increase in the colorful words department and perhaps some on-screen bloodshed would have greatly added to the overall enjoyment. I don't need to see blood and guts or hear f-bombs a plenty to love a movie. But again, holding this candle up against Gladiator makes it impossible not to notice. CASH is the motivator for a PG-13 and the Big Hollywood Machine keeps on a rollin'.

All in all...a solid 3.5 horns out of 5 from the Reel Rhino.

Tune in next week and I will pick apart MacGruber, which until recently had a tomatometer rating of 100%. if not for the recent addition of Top Critic, The Hollywood Reporter's John Defore's rotten rating. Defore's rotten rating has dropped the score to 89% as of this writing, which I think sadly, will be the first of many drops in the score for this SNL small screen to big screen jump. But we shall see!!!

Stay tuned!


PS...Who's your favorite Robin Hood of all time? Vote in the Blog Poll!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I think this looks like it could make my top ten movies of the year or better!!!  Mind-bending thrillers just get me (minus The Box from last year, which I didn't hate, but DID NOT love). 

I love Matt Damon when he's at his best.  Betweem this and Inception, DARK CITY fans have much to look forward to this summer into the fall. 

Is the song from this trailer the emotional song that plays as Tallahasee is laying waste to handreds of Zombies from inside the game shack in Zombieland? That is a great song!

Well...what do you think? Sound off!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Robin Hood vs. Iron Man ~ Fight to the Death?


Sorry, I mean....


This is not my review of Robin Hood.  I'm sure that'll actually take some time and thought to put together.  This is more of a plea of lieniency for the sake of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe!

I actually believe that Iron Man will take the weekend. It will be close, but I predict 58 million for IM2 against 50 million for Robin Hood. Letters to Juliet will certainly screw things up as men nationwide are torn from more testosterone-laden fare for the girly-flick Letters to the words of Amanda Seyfried:

"It's super romantic!"

I saw Robin Hood earlier today on a day-off. We had the misfortune of experiencing a CSI-marathon of 36 hours earlier this week, which consisted of working a scene, taking a nap, and then more working the scene.  That, coupled with my heading in tomorrow to teach a photo class, led me to escape the clutches of work for a day off to enjoy a flick, and play with my boy.  The boy part is loads of fun, except he is currently draining fluids in the form of drool from his mouth, boogs from his nose, and by the smell of things, this is the least of my problems.  The poor lad does have a wicked cold, though, but he doesn't let that stop him from crawling up a storm.

Anyway, back to what I was saying.  ROBIN HOOD stars a bevy of big names who are as shining as ever in each of their respective roles.  Is it me or is Mark Strong the offical face of villians everywhere, suddenly (Sherlock Holmes, Kick-Ass, Robin Hood, etc...)?  ROBIN HOOD is a GOOD and SOLID action flick.  It did not blow my socks off and contrary to popular belief, it is not just GLADIATOR set in a different era.  RIDLEY SCOTT can direct his ass off and RUSSELL CROWE would be enjoyable playing a tree in a petrified forest.

I say it is not a Gladiator redux, and that is correct....but it doesn't have the same aspirations of greatness that GLADIATOR had.  There are some similar themes between the two flicks, but it is in fact a different movie altogether. 

After you see IRON MAN 2 for the third time this weekend, head over and ALSO check out Robin Hood.  It is well directed action with a great cast telling a different spin on a tale that we have unfortunately heard countless times over.

Errol Flynn vs. Cary Elwes vs. Kevin Costner vs. Russell Crowe...who gets you vote?  Check out Robin Hood this weekend then let me know.

It is an acceptible entry into the summer movie line-up and you should check it out.  It gets 3.5 out of 5 horns from the Reel Rhino and I will post my full review as soon as I get it finished. 

For now, leave those workplace blues behind and head out to your local multi-plex for some good 'ol overpriced popcorn corporate America presented fun!

Till later...


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reel Rhino Review: George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead

George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead
Let it be known....The Reel Rhino loves horror movies! I remember being scared half to death in the 80's watching movies about a decade outside of my age range.  I always loved the splatstick horror/comedy cross-overs, and minus the most "serious" of his entries (Night), George A. Romero's "Dead" films have always been there to both frighten and delight!.

We have here, yet another entry into the "Dead" series from the Grandfather of the Zombie, George A. Romero. His (un)holy trilogy from 1968 (Night of the Living Dead), 1978 (Dawn of the Dead), and 1985 (Day of the Dead) have long been revered as required reading by lovers of all things horror. The '00 years have brought on a zombie resurgance with 2005's Land and 2007's Diary, neither of which are as classic as the earlier entries, but they are loved still by Romero fans. Survival is likely to fit this same bill.

This film was released first at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2009 and will receive a theatrical release this year from Magnolia Pictures.  It has received moderate reviews coming in at 5.5 on IMBD and a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes.  Sadly, I think that many critics will hold this candle against the spotlight of films like I Am Legend, 28 Days Later, and the Zack Snyder remake of Dawn of the Dead.  These are all spawn of Romero and his films and while SURVIVAL is different from the more modern take on the walking dead, it should be considered for what it is...the work of a master artists whose canvas is an intricately woven world in which the dead don't run, but walk, and yet are still quickly getting the better of the waning human civilization.

By no means is this the best horror film you will ever see, but it is classic Romero. I personnally enjoyed both Land and Diary and as I type, I am enjoying SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD.  Nobody (except maybe Sam Raimi) blends gore and laughs so successfully. Romero is a consumate example of how powerful independent film can be. He has always maintained control over his projects and the result, as it always has been, is a great blend of scares, laughs, and an overall good time.

An interesting aspect of this flick is that it is set at around the time of the initial "outbreak". An opening title tells us it is 6 days out from the initial occurance of the living dead. In the Romero univese, that would be 1967. But while Romero is floating forward and backward through time, he is apparently also taking the liberty of resetting the timeline as well to current tech. Lines from this film: "You call that thing a computer?" "I think it's cool!" "This is cool." And the hip youngster among our travelling band pulls out an iPod touch. I don't think that iPods were around in '67. But rather than continue to make period piece after period piece, Romero is being flexible. Sir, you are forgiven. Even more interesting is that our band of travelling National Guardsmen, who the story follows along, basically began this adventure at the end of Diary of the Dead, when they were commandeering the vehicle of Diary's protagonists.  This marks the first cross-over (I believe) of characters from episode to episode of the DEAD series.
As I said, the story follows a band of National Guardsmen (and one Guardswoman) who have gone AWOL, which certainly is forgivable as the world is headed towards zombie apocolypse. They are trying to get to get to Plum Island, off the coast of Delaware.  After robbing the protagonists from Diary, they go on their trek to find zombie free land and Plum Island, they think, is the answer. 

Plum Island has only ever been inhabited by two families, who also happen to be warring Irish factions...the O'Flynn's and the Muldoons.  I guess the patriarch of the O'Flynn family can be seen as the protagonist. He is in support of killing the already dead...putting the zombies out of commission. He leaves the island in a sort of protest as the Muldoons are more in favor of keeping the living dead "alive". He leaves the island and returns when the AWOL guardsmen find him about going back to Plum Island, perceiving it as a spot they can convert into a sanctuary.

It is a fun entry into the Zombie-trope and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It is a ZOMBIE MOVIE people! Give it a little latitude and suspension of disbelief. If you do and consider it appropriately, you'll have a good time too!  It never takes itself as seriously as many critics have and a movie should only be taken as seriously as it takes itself. 

Survival of the Dead is AVAILABLE NOW in a pre-theater release on Time Warner On-Demeand, Video-on-Demand, Amazon rentals, Playstation, among a few other venues you may be able to find it. It was a little steep at $9.99 for the 2-day rental, but for the priviledge of seeing it before it hits theaters, I'll take it! I don't know how wide of a release it will get, so catch it while you can or wait until the fall for the DVD release.

GEORGE A. ROMERO'S SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD gets 3.5 horns out of 5 from the Reel Rhino

It in a solid entry into Romero's Dead series. If you do check it out, maybe brush up with the original Dawn or Day, as the remakes were more thematically related than tonally. 1985's Day is especially great and the special features on the Special Edition DVD are GREAT! I like movies in which zombies can run...but NEVER, EVER, NEVER, NEVER in a Romero.  Check out the green band trailer below or try and hunt down one of the two red band trailers.  ENJOY!!

Survival Of The Dead - Greenband Trailer - Watch more horror

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I am Iron Man...

And just like that, the summer movie season begins!

In 2008, we were given the gift of Iron Man.  Jon Farveau, once a Swinger, stepped into the director's chair to begin a journey into the Marvel Universe that at that time, gave us a feeling for what we now know to be true...

The AVENGERS will soon be assembling.

Put me on a two year timeline that leads to the AVENGERS and travels through THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA, and I will take it any day!  With the potential for IRON MAN 3, NICK FURY, and another INCREDIBLE HULK project as well, and I start to get weak in the knees.

Let me preface this by saying that I recognize and understand that there as far as great films through time go, it is hard to tell that if in 100 years, this combination of cross-overs will be viewed as master works of art.  It is a hell of a ride, though.

But...and the Reel Rhino does have a big butt...the superhero renaissance has picked up where very few superhero movie films through time have left off, then we are headed for something great! 

Superman I and II, Spiderman II, X-Men II, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight...these are viewed by many to be placeholders through time of successful entires into the superhero genre.  Iron Man is carrying into the Ought 10's very strong!

Iron Man is considered widely as a successful entry into this genre, but it can be also be viewed as a genre-buster.  Mothers, grandfathers, teeny-boppers, school teachers, postal workers...they all came to see Iron Man, and they all left happy.  It used to be a geek world when it came to flicks like this.  Don't get me wrong...the geeks are still happy.  I am a geek at heart, and I am overjoyed.  But Iron Man and the direction of the the Avengers Initiative is taking comic book movies to new heights.  The fan base is expanding and Iron Man 2 fits the bill to keep that train a runnin'.

Iron Man 2 was released in North America at 12:01am last night.  I was lucky enough to have had Tracie and Jackson tucked away in bed, and I opted to brave a sleep deprived Friday to catch the up all night show.  IT WAS WORTH IT! 

I was fortunate enough to have made it to the 1999 version of Woodstock.  Not since those beer-drowned fields were boucing to the likes of Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, have I felt electric in the air like this.  It was a great night of popcorn and beach balls.  When the time came, people were glued to their seat and respected the silence of the drama, but filled the air with applause when the time was right.  There's something to be said for the group mentality at fun movie.  A great crowd can make an okay movie good, and a movie this fun an absolute blast!  The last time I felt this way about a theater experience was during 1996's Independence Day Bill Pullman speech.  I am discounting, of course, the theater-wide screams that shrilled the air when Edward showed up the first time in Eclipse, but let's pretend I didn't admit that.

Iron Man 2 is a solid 4 out of 5 horns from The Reel Rhino.  It is not is not the Godfather....but it is a DAMN GOOD TIME!
This is the role written for Robert Downey Jr.  It's hard to believe that Iron Man was first seen in Takes of Suspense in 1963 and Downey Jr. wasn't born until 1965.  I think maybe Nostradamus perhaps tipped off Stan Lee, becuase 2008 brought us the film personification Tony Stark.  An ego-driven genius with a heart of gold, Tony Stark is complex.  Granted we have not begun to dive into the depths of darkness in this character's rich history, but I like where we have gone so far.

Don Cheadle steps in nicely to Terrance Howard's shoes.  It wasn't really explained well why the casting shift was warranted, but I'll take a Don Cheadle performance any day and it was nice to see Iron Man and War Machine rocking the baddies back to back in that green garden battle site that brought one of the biggest WOWS of the night. 

Scartlett Johansson is fantastic (and of course HOT) as Black Widow.  Mickey Rourke is the perfect villian...Whiplash played to perfection.  Sam Rockwell plays Tony Stark's rival, Justin Hammer to a T.  And Garry Shandling gives a very slimey turn as a swarthy smart-ass Senator with a penchant for picking on Stark.  With reappearances by Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, our director-hero Happy Hogan, and the always lovely Pepper Potts...this movie dances straight into delightful.

I take great pride in saying that in 2007 I had a chance to see the unveiling of the Iron Man hoopla.  I was an arms reach away from Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Farvreau at the infamous San Diego Comic-Con.  There was a four hour line for the Iron Man panel, so I opted out of that experience, but I did leave with this...

Comic-Con will be the source of another post, but let me tell is a dream opportunity to attend.  It isn't very much a comic convention anymore as much as a media convention, showcasing everything in pop culture.

On another note, the Iron Man pre-show gave us a great new trailer for the A-Team as well as the first trailer that actually got me pumped for The Last Airbender.  JJ Abrams has some super secret squirrel project due in Summer 2011.  He is directing and Steven Speilberg is producing.  The trailer for SUPER 8 was a little light, but all of Abrams projects are usually under tight wraps.  I for one, have a good feeling about it.  After Star Trek 2009, I think I'd follow JJ anywhere.

Well that about wraps it up.  As I said, 4 out of 5 strong-like-bull horns for IRON MAN 2 from the Reel Rhino.  I saw this digitally projected, but the IMAX was long sold out.  I will try and catch it again at the IMAX sometime today or early this coming week.

Till next time...


Friday, May 7, 2010

It's about time...

...for the summer movie season to begin! Let's get it on!

Iron Man 2 in 3, 2, 1...
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Saturday, May 1, 2010

And Now...Back to the Show...

Wow...It's been 2 weeks since a movie post...I will start one and work on it over the course of a week.  I wish I could pump them out in more of a breaking news fashion, but once I start going, I spiral around and usually out of control a bit.  For now, I am going to re-post a Facebook convo from a few weeks ago debating movie critcism.

More recent movie talk, coming soon!  Enjoy...

Ryan M. Rezzelle: QUESTION: Should movie critics lighten up a bit and go a little easier on movies? I like more movies than your average bear, but when I watch a movie, I don't just watch it at its face, I also think about how many people really cared about putting together something that is truely entertaining. Movies should be fun and... if you have an uber-critical persective when you watch it, you set yourself up to be let down. 

Daniel Schmer: I agree movies should be entertaining and I know I am easily entertained. While I don't think critics need to lighten up, each to their own but I would like a true movie fans point of view. Maybe I found a retirement job.

April Doin: Ryan, I've actually had this conversation with a friend of mine who is a movie critic. He is less harsh than many of them, and seems to appreciate the entertainment value of movies. Not every movie is Shindler's List, some are just meant to be light and fun, those count for a lot too, imho...

Dennis Doms: Most people who comment on movies are "reviewers". Their objective is to make personal observations on the content of the movie and relate whether or not they feel like others will find it enjoyable or not. Which is what most people want to know, but...

A critic's job is to use knowledge to unapologetically dissect the "perfection" of a movie as a... See More form. That's a much different objective and task. It starts with a presumption that movies are important and must be held to a standard to be considered "good". That doesn't necessarily have to be a dramatic standard (something can be a comedy and not necessarily impactful on other levels, but still well done).

No, I don't think critics should "lighten up". I don't think I've witnessed many good crticial analyses of movies over the years. Criticism should be unrelenting in it's scope and allow no quarter -- if that's the intent. If the intent is to be a reviewer, then it doesn't have to be held to the same goal. I don't feel bad about a reviewer recommending something I might find insipid because it's a matter of their "gut" reaction. I do get irritated by critics who rate things inanely because they don't know the material or choose to ignore their task to be ruthlessly analytical because they prefer to justify a personal preference.

Dustin Calvin via Joanne Calvin's Account: Stop over analizing it!! We only live once!! DC

Ryan M. Rezzelle: DC, get your own damn acct. I friended Joanne so SHE and I could communicate. Either that, or just be nicer next post! You know how sensative I am (sniff sniff).

Michael Schmer: I agree. Most of the time when I say a movie "looks terrible" it's because I'm not the target audience or it's just something I have no interest in i.e. G-Force or whatever the latest Miley Cyrus opus is. The only time I am truly critical of movies is when it utterly fails at what it tries to be...Brooklyn's Finest comes to mind.

Ryan M. Rezzelle: Dennis, I agree! In fact, I think that is a great point....9 out of every 10 "critics," are more reviewers than critics. They give their "criticism" of film based on their opinion and not a true analysis of the art.

FROM WIKIPEDIA (so it must be true!): It has been claimed that journalist film critics should only be known as film reviewers, and that true film critics are those who take an academic approach to films.

Ryan M. Rezzelle: April, who is your movie critic friend? I would like to check out his work.

Sean Paul Murphy: Here's the problem. Every ten years a new generation passes through its prime movie-going years. They are learning the genres and conventions for the first time. They see "American Pie" and think it's so great and clever. The critic, on the other hand, has seen this cycle a few times and to him, "American Pie" is just a retread of "Porkys." ... See MoreThere's nothing new or exciting in it for him. The audience is excited to see a genre film play within its conventions. The critic wants something that bends the conventions because he's seen it all before. On of the reasons I enjoyed reading Ebert was because he says seemed to maintain a love of movies. He didn't get as cynical as many "important" critics.

Ryan M. Rezzelle: I agree with you as well...Ebert does love movies which is also why I follow him more than a variety of other traditional critics. Do you think Porky's was the first (or in the era of the first) teen sex romp comedies? I think it is more than just a generational cycle of movie watchers, but also of the actors and movies themselves. I ... See Morerecognize that Porky's is quality teen sex romp for its era, but as a 22 year old in 1999, I related to those actors and that music more than I ever did Porky's. Some movies, though, are timeless. Casablanca, The Godfather, Star Wars....these are great regardless of generation....well as least as far as I see it. Good discussion....I love it!

Sean Paul Murphy: True, Ryan. That's my point. Porky's was not the first nor will American Pie be the last. The question is how you will react to their equivalent in 2023. A true critic has to be able to look at these films with a fresh eye. There are many timeless films, but, if you're a critic, you can't wait for one of them to come along to bring joy to ... See Moreyour movie-going experience. They are few and far between. You have to find something to enjoy in the normal programmers. Here's another question: Did any timeless films arrive in 2009?

Well I did answer this question, but this is a string for another day...till next time....


Some things are more important than movies....


We got 'em!  A suprise party for the ages...not since I was duped into my 30th had a secret been kept so well!  My sister Pam, my brother Steven, and I were the party planning crew, with Tracie and Scott in support roles.  Great effort by all!

Jackson was pooped by the end of the trip...
Ei ey ey, pops! I am ready to be home!

And home we got...27 hours after we were supposed to.  The downside was missing a day's work...the upside:

MORE ON THE MOVIES SOON....I have a lot to share!