November 4th, 2012

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Wreck-It Ralph

Fair warning. If this day turns out the way I think it might, you could be hearing a lot from me. I actually shoulda done this one last night, but the combination of waking up earlier than I'd have liked and pear cider knocked me out early. But the whole "fall back" thing gives me extra time this AM.

The second half of yesterday's double was Wreck-It Ralph. OMG geeky gamer goodness. My faith in kiddie movies has been waning lately, but Ralph brought it back up. This was the perfect combination of silly jokes for the little kids, and clever jokes for the big kids like myself.

I sorta consider myself a gamer, or at least a retro or classic gamer. I don't play so much nowadays, but I grew up pretty harcore. I consider Sonic the Hedgehog to be my homeboy, and I still have my Genesis. I have come dangerously close to losing friends over my mad skillz at Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. The only reason I bought a Wii is to play Rock Band, because I was otherwise perfectly happy working my way very slowly thru Zelda games on N64. Therefore, I am the perfect target audience for this film.

The plot was more layered than I normally would have expected for a kid's film. I was impressed. You had the plotline that's referenced in all the trailers, where Ralph is tired of being a bad guy and goes on a sorta life journey thru the other games. He is determined to win a medal in a game so he can be accepted. But him leaving puts his game in danger of being unplugged, and he also inadventantly releases an alien bug creature from its homegame, endangering another. He befriends Vanellope, a glitch in a racing game who is determined to enter her game's qualifying race and join the racing roster. But if Vanellope wins, she could destroy her game. Yeah, layers. Not just one single path or arc, but a whole lotta characters dealing with a whole lotta different things. And it was well put together. I was into it, I cared about the characters. While some of it was predictable (c'mon, targeted at six year olds) there were twists I didn't see coming or didn't even think about.

What really sold it, though, was the characters. John C Reilly's Ralph was a loveable giant. The same kinda misunderstood loner guy that he usually plays in live action films, just a bit bigger. Sarah Silverman's Vanellope was perfection. I don't know why she hasn't voiced more characters before, but she was fun and sassy and silly and adorable. Jack McBrayer's Fix It Felix was so earnest and sweet. Jane Lynch's Calhoun was basically Sue Sylvester as a video game, which worked for a minor character.

All of that would have been great on its own, but the references is what really made this stand way out from other movies. Street Fighter, Sonic, Qbert, Pacman, so many classics represented. There was some incredibly clever dialog thrown in too and the visual was gorgeous. There was a lot of playing around with the 8 bit characters, seeing pixelized versions of some of our heroes in other games, or the squred edges of background objects in some of the older "worlds".

Just such a fun ride. I'm sure all of my nerd friends will certainly appreciate it. I know it had me laughing pretty hard throughout.

Wreck-It Ralph - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/
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ExpDelTop100 is back!

So I'd alluded to a new quick mini project coming up. Now that I've got some time today, time to dive right in. I'll spare the suspense since you prolly read it in the title, but I'm bringing back my Top 100. No, I'm not going thru the full list. I'll just write up movies that previously hadn't appeared. I've got the new list posted at the same spot with the previous list for comparison.

A few disclaimers/reminders. This is my list of favorites, not necessarily a best list according to me. Subtle semantic difference that means a lot as far as I'm concerned. Rankings should be thought of as being within approx five spaces of where they are, cause really picking one over another is tough. Do I go for the one with the higher nostalgia factor or the better quality? Maybe the mood I'm in one day favors one film higher than it would another day. Who knows.

Some fun comparison info from last time. A bunch of these were actually influenced from watching them two years ago as I realized some were better than I'd remembered or others hadn't lived up to the idea I had of them.
Highest on chart jump - (500) Days of Summer jumped 49 spots from 81 to 21
Highest debut - The Avengers at 30
Biggest on chart drop - The Lion King dropped 57 from 22 to 79. Masterminds and Star Trek also fell hard, but not as hard as...
Biggest drop off chart - Gladiator dropped off completely from 29. Slumdog Millionaire also disappeared from 32
17 new appearances. 5 of which are new releases from the past two years. 5 can thank the recent mini projects for their reevaluation.

Honoroable mentions (films that almost made the list): Stay, Little Miss Sunshine, Scream, Apt Pupil, Beginners

And here we go!
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ExpDelTop100 #100 - The Transporter

Spot 100 is always kind of a special one. It's sort of the last chance spot. I've usually got about five movies that I _really_ wanna include, but only one makes the cut. I was really torn on this one. I kinda wanted to pick Stay because it is just an unknown but cool film, so I wanted a chance to highlight it. Or Beginners, because I always get that kinda "aww" feeling in my heart when I think about it. But in the end, I couldn't leave Transporter off the list again.

Why did Transporter get the honor of inclusion? I'm an action junkie. Jason Statham is my choice action star. Transporter is what put him on my radar. The guy was a total unknown at the time. Hell, no one even noticed this movie when it first came out. I remember being at a theater a couple years later when a trailer for Transporter 2 played. The comment from the guy behind me was "Transporter 2? When was there ever a Transporter 1?" I'm fairly sure that happened more than once. The only reason I even saw it was because I'd put Phone Booth on my Christmas list one year. My Daddy found a two pack of Phone Booth and The Transporter that was only a dollar more than just Phone Booth. He figured what the hell. Besides, our tradition was always a Christmas day movie marathon of my new movies, and he is where I got my action junkie-ness from. I guess he was curious about the film.

Transporter is a low budget, gritty action movie. Just the way I like 'em. Statham does most of his own stunts, and he's got some truly creative ones. My favorite is the one where he manages to take off his shirt mid-fight and tie up the bad guys with it. Then he dumps oil on himself so they can't grab him.

I also really like his character. His rules are cheesey, but I'm a sucker for that type of quirk. (See also Zombieland.) I love how that gimmick was continued in the sequel with the kid. My one complaint originally was that I thought it would have been cool if they never gave Frank a name, just referred to him as the Transporter. We later saw that with Drive, where Ryan Gosling's character was only ever referred to as Driver. But that's neither here nor there.

The blatant product placement is so amusing. Gee, that's a very bright can of Pepsi you're throwing out after lunch. Found a hostage in your car? Don't give her water to drink, Orangina is better. Good thing you stopped for another Orangina before going back to your car, because in those thirty seconds it exploded. Orangina saved your life! Strangely though, its not those products that I tend to associate with this movie. It's whenever I see a madeleine I'm reminded of it. I still haven't actually tried one, but when I do, I can thank Transporter.
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Flight

Another day, another movie. Today's journey sent us to Flight, the new Denzel movie helmed by Robert Zemeckis. Y'know, the guy who did Back the Future and Forrest Gump and a few other gems along the way.

Considering how tapped into the scene I try to be and the big names attached to this film, it took a while for it to land on my radar. I saw it listed on the upcoming movies on IMDB, with the attached names. Didnt really start seeing the trailers until a couple weeks ago. But in the last week or so the buzz has been really building. The story on its own may not have been quite enough to grab my attention, but the team and the talk about the film certainly did.

Flight is the story of Whip Whitaker, a pilot who was able to land his failing plane, saving most of the lives on board. But while everyone is touting him as a hero, he's hiding his alcoholism, and the fact that he was under the influence of several substances at the time of the flight. While the trailers focus on the heroism and the flight, the real focus of the story is on his battle with alcohol.

But the actual plane crash stuff was crazy. I was completely tense for the first thirty minutes of the film. From there, as the story progressed, there was a different kind of tension. Every time that Whip would go grabbing for a bottle after having been sober for a couple days, I'd be holding my breath. I'd cringe and wince when he'd give in. I was so absorbed in this film that my movie buddy and I didn't even acknowledge each other throughout the entire thing.

Denzel was just amazing. I know we expect that of him by this point, but truly he was. He took what should have been a dark character and made him incredibly sympathetic. You do see him as a hero, and you do see him as someone struggling, trying not to hit bottom. Just an incredibly nuanced performance, and worth watching.

Flight - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/