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Posts Tagged ‘Jurassic Park’

So, I am on a journey half way across the country to see my father, who is gravely ill.  He is currently being kept alive by chemicals and machines and it is likely that my trip will not end well and it is very hard on me.  However, I am struck with thoughts that are going through my mind as I drive across this great land of ours.  More specifically, I am struck by the thoughts that are NOT going through my mind.  My dad is going to die and that is a sad fact.  Whether today, tomorrow, or by some miracle years from now, one fact remains:  He is going to die.  And I am surprised, no shocked at how confident I am of where he is going upon his death.  This is not a sermon, nor some sort of trick to convince my readers to believe in God and Heaven, but a confession of my true feelings.  It is not his end that my mind is focused on, but his whole story.  It is like a book or video game I wish would not end, because I feel like I am just getting into it.

In times of death, we obviously focus on death.  For many people, death drives their lives.  You may even know people who are religious and all they can talk about is what happens when we die.  It is kind of like Jurassic Park III.  I hated that movie.  However, when I really examine my movie watching experience; in retrospect, I was enjoying the movie until the end.  The ending was so bad, it is all I can remember from that movie.  We can be so focused on the end, it can ruin the beginning and middle.  If you want me or anyone else to believe in God, don’t talk about heaven or hell, just show me a story worth reading.  I think my father had a story worth reading.

My father used to smoke.  I must have been around 10 or 11 when  I asked him, “Why don’t you smoke anymore?”  He said he prayed about it and God took it away.  End of story.  After my parents divorced, he would pick me up on the weekends.  Sometimes he had to work on the weekends.  He was a bus driver.  He still picked me up, and I would ride with him on the bus all day.  It was during these trips that I learned to give up my seats for the elderly and those with physical needs.  I saw him talk to everyone, often bringing up God in conversation in the same matter of fact tone as the story of him giving up smoking.

My father also use to annoy the hell out of me.  As soon I learned to drive I made sure that I never visited him without my car just in case I needed to make a quick getaway.  He was the king of unasked for sermons, advice, lectures, stories, teachings, “you know what your problem is”isms.  It got old.  My father could also say some pretty racist things, at least in my opinion.  At some point, I learned stories of how people, specifically white people would treat him growing up.  Now I am amazed that he talked to white people at all.

I loved family vacations.  Family vacations taught me to be aware of my surroundings.  My father would ask me what a sign would say as we drove.  He would do this with little time, so I had to read fast to complete his challenge.  Eventually, I learned that if I read and memorized every sign that we passed, I would always be able to get the sign questions correct.  It is amazing how many stories like that are running through my head:  Driving across country; turning a one-story house to a two-story house;  trips to “see a man about a dog or horse”, a phrase that I still do not understand; showing up unannounced at my house; lecture after lecture about every subject under the sun; mini-sermons; and more mini-sermons.  It has been a neat story, a story I wish would not end, at least not right now.

I will see my father tomorrow.  The end of his story is likely to be sad, but unlike Jurassic Park III, it is not the end that I will remember most, but the beginning.  It is not the end of my father that has made me who I am today, but all the other parts of the story.  You see, I am not on this journey alone.  My son is with me now.  I am sure I annoy my son at times too, but when I think of my story, I think of my dad’s story.  His story has led to my story.  It is not the end.  Think of it more as a sequel.  Thanks Ron.

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On this trip I have learned that my son is really into Sponge Bob.  As we stopped at a rest stop to have lunch, he was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.   He asked me, “Where does jelly come from?”  I told him I am not exactly sure, but I am sure it involves mashing up fruit and adding sugar.  He was visibly shocked by my answer.  So, I asked him where did he think it came from?  He said, “From squeezing jellies from the ocean.”  I couldn’t help but laugh and luckily he laughed too.  I told him he was watching too much Sponge Bob.  I’m just sayin’ …

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So, I just finished watching the A-Team.  I loved it!  I know what you are thinking.  “Are you kidding me?  You are going to open up a movie blog with the A-Team! Seriously?”  You better believe it Fool!  I pity the fool that don’t like the A-Team. 

Did you know that Mr. T had a cartoon? I did.

That’s right, a Mr.T reference.  Do you know why I liked the movie, because when it comes to movies, I follow one simple rule: Pure Entertainment Value.

I don’t want life lessons, political messages, redeeming value, or even reality from my movies.  I want to be entertained.  And I am relatively easily entertained, so when I am disappointed by a movie, it pisses me off.  I am so easily entertained that a plot is not one of my requirements for a good movie.  For example, one of the greatest movies of all time is ‘Friday’ with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker.  You read it right, Ice Cube.  Basically you have two guys hanging out in LA.  One person owes someone else money and they are worried that they are going to be killed for a couple of hundred bucks.  Maybe you have to be from California to truly appreciate this movie, but trust me, it is a classic. 

Daaaamn!

And the best character with almost zero lines was Deebo (Daaaamn!!!!!).

One of the down side to having a little knowledge is being able to point out inaccuracies in movies.  For example, in the movie, Lion King, there is an opening scene where you see ants carrying leaves across a tree branch.  As far as I can tell, they are leaf cutter ants.  Leaf cutter ants can be found in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, shoot, you will even find them in the southern parts of the United States.  You know where you won’t find them? In Africa.

Found in many places EXCEPT Africa.

  King Kong?  I loved the movie, absolutely loved it.  However, the commercials made it out as if gorillas were dangerous man-eaters.  You know who has to fear gorillas?  Celery.  That’s right, they are vegetarians.  A common “evil” animal is the wolf.  Do you know how many people have been attacked by wolves?  Zero.  Nonetheless, we love movies where we are attacked by some crazy rabid, genetically created, radioactive, science experimental animal gone wrong.  To be honest, I love them too.  If I am ever watching TV and Godzilla comes on, I will have no choice but to watch it to the end of the movie.  To this day, I hate the fact that Godzilla has been vilified.  He’s just a radioactive monster trying to make it through the day.

They are already working on Godzilla 2012. Crazy!

Now no offense to Japan, and the problems that they are facing truly deserve prayer, and I encourage everyone reading this blog to donate to the Red Cross if they haven’t done so already.  But, is there another country that has embraced major tragedy more than Japan?  Just nine years after Hiroshima was bombed, the movie ‘Gohira’ was released.  Gohira, better known as Godzilla was created by American nuclear weapons testing.  It makes me wonder what the country will come up with after its latest tragedy.  One thing is for certain, radioactivity does not create giant monsters or super heroes.  Seriously, donate to the Red Cross.

Despite my knowledge, I don’t mind inaccuracies, because when I go to the movies I check my brain at the door.  Sometimes inaccuracies are crucial to making the movie work.  For example, one of my favorites from 2010, The Book of Eli. 

<<SPOILER ALERT>>

In ‘The Book of Eli’, the movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which Eli is protecting a sacred book that he must bring to the West where he believes there are people who will know what to do with the book.  Of course, along the way some bad guys try to take the book from him.  He helps a young girl and some serious ass-kicking takes place.  Has all the elements of PEV (Pure Entertainment Value).  But there is one serious problem.  In order to make the movie work, the movie must break one very clear reality rule.  You see Eli …,  wait for it …   wait for it …  wait for it …

is blind.

 You see in the movie, Eli carries around the sacred book which turns out to be the Bible.  The reality rule that is broken is the size of a braille bible.  The new King James Version of the braille bible was completed in the 80’s.  It is a 20 volume set that requires 76 inches of shelf space at least 12 inches high.

Try lugging this across country.

I forgive this reality rule ‘error’ because the movie just would not be as slick if Denzel Washington’s character was dragging along 20 braille volumes in a cart.  You now see why I must turn my brain off when I see movies.

As a biologist I struggle with movies like Jurassic Park.  You will never ever see a predator spend over an hour hunting/chasing a prey.  Stalking, maybe, but never chase as they do in most predator movies.  It uses too much energy.

One of my favorite movies of all time was remade in 2010, The Karate Kid.  First of all, the first Karate Kid did not need to be remade.  In general I am not a fan of remakes or sequels.  They are almost never as good as the original.  There are exceptions.  Toy Story 3 might be the best one.  Believe the hype, it is that good.  If I was more in touch with my feelings, I would have bawled like a baby.  If you are prone to tears, have a handkerchief ready when you watch it, trust me.  But Karate Kid (2010) sucked. 

Now keep in mind, I am a HUGE fan of Karate Kid (1984).  My fantasy football team’s name is CobraKai, and has been for years.  “Sweep the leg” and “wax on, wax off” are still very quotable.  So, understand that my review of this movie is highly biased.  That being said, Karate Kid (2010) blows.  I am all for supporting the family, but Jaden Smith would not have “won” this role had it not been for his dad, Will Smith.  Now, I am a huge Will Smith fan, but even I know that Smith has the acting range of a grape in a painting of a fruit basket.  So, instead of just randomly trashing this movie, I have decided to break it down like a preview of a football game, position by position.  To my surprise, and possibly yours, KK 2010 does not lose every battle.  Let’s start with the most obvious positions:

SPOILER ALERT!!!! (Like it matters)

Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) Vs Dre Parker (Jaden Smith):  Both are bad actors and Macchio has finally entered the death throws of his acting career by being the next one-hit wonder to be on Dancing with the Stars.  Jaden will get more work, but that has more to do with his parents than ability.  This is still no contest, Daniel beats Dre every time.

Come on Man!! You were the Karate Kid! Now this. Sad.

Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) vs Mr. Han (Jackie Chan):  Please, not even close.  Mr. Miyagi by a landslide.

Ali (Elisabeth Shue) vs Meiying (Wenwen Han):  Here is the problem that I have always had with the character Ali.  Was there ever a more awkward looking couple than Daniel and Ali in The Karate Kid?  Ali was like twice Daniel’s size.  They defined mismatch.  For this reason, and this reason alone, slight favor to Meiying.

Bad Boys Johnny (Billy Zabka) vs Cheng (Zhenwei Wang):  There are few characters that are type cast for good reason as Zabka was as a teenage bad boy.  Who played a spoiled Arian nation looking kid better than Zabka?  That being said, Wang nailed the Cheng role in KK 2010.  And his Kung Fu was strong (despite the name of the movie).  So, it pains me, and may surprise you, but ever so slight edge goes to Cheng.

Winning Move – Crane versus Cobra:  Can you think of a better ending to a movie than Daniel’s crane kick to win the tournament?  Has any move been more duplicated?  It was the 80’s version of the slow motion back bending Matrix move, and just about as duplicated.  Furthermore, I believed that Daniel could have learned that move.  A kid brand new to Kung Fu learns a Cobra move that takes masters decades to learn.  I don’t think so.  No Contest – Crane kick wins.

Overall the movie is more of a cover than a remake.  If you watch both movies close together, you will notice that many of the lines are not changed.  How lazy can you get?  And despite that everyone is clearly practicing Kung Fu, they don’t change the title of the movie.  It’s a cover, maybe at best, an homage, but mainly a cover and have you ever heard a good cover that was even close to as good as the original?  There are a few, but if you are honest with yourself, how many cover albums do you own? Exactly.

So, let me end this rather lengthy blog with my Top Ten Movies of 2010.  Keep in mind that I did not see all the movies of 2010, so if you have recommendations, please do not hesitate to comment and I will see them and modify my list if necessary.  Also, don’t forget, Pure Entertainment Value.

#10 The A-Team – It’s just a fun movie and stayed true to the TV series.  So, if you liked the Tv series, you will love this movie.  Only one fatal flaw, no Mr. T cameo.  Oh well.
# 9 Alice in Wonderland – As remakes go, well done.
# 8 Get Him to the Greek – Puffy’s role in this movie is down right hilarious.  This goes in my went above expectations category.  Only one other movie on this list pleasantly surprised me more than this movie.
# 7 Red – Think Ocean’s 11, but with lots and lots of guns.
# 6 Hot Tub Time Machine – This movie is truly an homage to 80’s movies.  I was excited to see it and it did not disappoint.
# 5 Book of Eli – Although I try to avoid redeeming value in movies as well as my blog, this one had a little redeeming value.  It did not distract from the butt whoopins galore, however.  “that’s not a knife.  THIS is a knife.”  Not from the movie, but you get it if you have seen it.
# 4 Toy Story 3 – Nice way to say farewell to some excellent children characters.  Bring your hankee.
# 3 How to Train your Dragon – Fun Fun Fun movie.  Best animated film of the year in my opinion.  I can and have watched many times.
# 2 The Other Guys – Biggest surprise of the year.  It went well above and beyond my expectations.  It forever has me thinking of lions and tuna differently.  Must See!
# 1 Inception – Maybe the most intelligent movie of the decade.  I had to turn my brain on for this movie, but it was worth it.

Honorable mentions that you might be surprised by:  Tooth Fairy (Good family movie.  Laughed more than I would have predicted.); Easy A (Smart movie and if you have teenage kids, you should watch it, possibly own it.) and finally She’s Out of My League (I thought it was cute.  It was formulaic, but did not apologize for it.  If you are ever bored one weekend, rent it.)

Maybe my longest blog to date.  I hope you have made it this far.  If so, thank you.  I welcome your comments, especially on movies that you think was a travesty to not be on my Top Ten 2010 Movie List.

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I have two major movie research projects I would conduct if I had the time.  The first is to determine exactly what is the probability that a minority character making through a movie alive?  Especially if the character is a black man.  Often, he is the first to go, like in Jurassic Park.  I see it so often, I am convinced it happens with great regularity.

Secondly, did Walt Disney hate women?  Snow White (drugged and witch killed); Dumbo (Mother locked up); Bambi (mother shot by hunter); Cinderella (Evil sisters and step-mom); Peter Pan (no mothers for pirate boys); Sleeping Beauty (Woman turns into dragon and killed with sword); 101 Dalmatians (Cruella Deville); Fox and the Hound (Mother fox is killed by hunter); The Little Mermaid (No mom, and evil octopus woman); Beauty and the Beast (Belle did not have a mom); Aladdin (Princess, King, NO Queen); The Lion King (despite the fact that female lions do all the hunting and teach the young to hunt, who teaches Simba to hunt?  Mufasa.  Male lions don’t do jack.); Tangled (Evil woman who locks girl away in a tower)  Is this a pattern?  I’m just sayin …

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