Thursday, February 28, 2008

DVD Collection Part 16

Mission: Impossible

Rating: 85

Plot summary: Impossible Mission Force Agent Ethan Hunt gets set up on a mission...and nearly his whole team is wiped out, except for the beautiful Claire Phelps and (we come to find out later) Jim Phelps, Hunt's IMF leader. With the world set against him and a major conspiracy afoot, Hunt must team up with other rogue agents to clear his name...and sell the legendary "NOC" list, which matches secret agents with their not-so-secret names. Double-crosses, mind-bending developments, cool gadgets, and explosive gum all culminate in an exciting finale aboard a high-speed train.

Favorite Quote 1: "My team! My team is dead!"
Favorite Quote 2: "Red light. Green light!"
Favorite Quote 3: "I'm gonna miss bein' disreputable."
Favorite Quote 4: "You've never seen me very upset."

Odd acquistion story: I bought this first Mission: Impossible movie during an on-line DVD sale on Best Buy's website. When I got it...I was disappointed. I didn't realize it was non-anamorphic widescreen. Not impossible to watch...just not as pretty as a lot of my other DVDs. Then, Mission: Impossible III came out, and Paramount reissued the first one in a new "special edition." I didn't buy it immediately, but I eventually found it on sale at Barnes & Noble during one of their "buy 2 DVDs, get one free" sale.

Lingering questions: Why do they have to try to be "hip" in movies with techno-jargon that will inevitably become outdated within weeks? I'm specifically referring to the point about midway through, where Ving Rhames' character references advanced "686 prototypes with artificial intelligence RISC chip." Obviously, he never conceived of the duel or quad-core processors! Why isn't Henry Czerny (Kittridge) in more movies? That guy is awesome! The only other thing I can remember seeing him in was Clear and Present Danger. I'm actually kind of pumped. My wife and I have rented The Tudors on DVD...and according to IMDB, Henry Czerny is in the series. Excellent! Why do they make DVDs with those stupid side tabs? I'm sure it has to do with anti-theft...but it sure is annoying!

Beef-fried rice a triumph of culinary goodness

The boxes of Kroger brand beef- and chicken-fried rice have been sitting in the cabinet for months now. I had a hankering for it over the weekend...but my wife told me it didn't sound good. So today I took matters into my own hands, making some beef-fried rice for lunch.

It was delicious.

Let's just be clear: I, Studicus, am not a culinary mastermind. If it's not a frozen pizza or an easy-to-assemble sandwich, I'm clueless. So the fact that I didn't screw it up represents a triumph of human spirit...and following directions.

This post is pointless.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

DVD Collection Part 15

Fletch: The Jane Doe Edition

Rating: 92

Plot summary: Super-reporter Irwin Fletcher, better known as "Fletch," is working on a huge story: a drug-smuggling ring on the beaches. He's also got an interesting dilemma: a man named Alan Stanwyk wants Fletch to kill him because he's dying of cancer. Fletch uses all his super-sleuth/reporter abilities to find out the truth. Oddly, it's all related. In the process, he impersonates thousands of different people using all kinds of fake names. Basketball, ball bearings, the medical profession...nothing is safe from the wrath of Fletch. Or Dr. Rosenpenis. Or Mr. Poon. Or Gordon Liddy. Or John Cocktoston. Or Frieda's boss...

Favorite Quote 1: "One of those manure spitters jack-knifed off the Santa Anna. Godawful mess. You should see my shoes. Wooo-hee!"
Favorite Quote 2: "Thank God...the police."
Favorite Quote 3: "Yeah, he doesn't say much...he just gives him that look."
Favorite Quote 4: "It's all in ball bearings nowadays."
Favorite Quote 5: "Oh, it's me, Dr. Rosenpenis. I'm just here to check out Alan Stanwyk's file."
Favorite Quote 6: "So you're saying she moved out?"
Favorite Quote 7: "Yeah, I assure you."
Favorite Quote 8: "Using the whole fist there, doc?"
Favorite Quote 9: "I like men. I like to be manhandled. I like you."
Favorite Quote 10: "I'll have a Bloody Mary, a steak sandwich...and a steak sandwich."

Odd acquisition story: I'd been waiting for a Fletch DVD for a while. For the longest time, all I could find was Fletch Lives. It's a fine film, but not as good as the original. The only copies of the original I could find were running for $30-$40 on Amazon.com stores. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Eventually, The Jane Doe Edition came out. I finally scored a copy of it from Best Buy, where it was on sale for $8.

Lingering Questions: Why didn't this movie spawn more sequels? Is there any doubt this is Chevy Chase's best character ever? Why did they take out the line, "Uh oh, better get Maaco?" during the car chase? Why did I contain myself to only ten favorite quotes? Does a more quotable movie exist?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

DVD Collection Part 14

Dodgeball

Rating: 88

Plot summary: Vince Vaughn plays the owner of Average Joe's Gym, Peter La Fleur. Peter's got a problem: the gym is in deep debt. It's so bad, in fact, that rival fitness center Globo-Gym wants to buy it out. Is there a way to save Average Joe's from financial ruin and a corporate takeover? Thanks to Obscure Sports Quarterly, there is: dodgeball. Yes, the vaunted playground game offers a national competition that offers a grand monetary prize equal to exactly how much money Peter needs to keep Average Joe's afloat! But can a group of misfits that include a pirate, an abused husband, Ben Stiller's wife, and the Mac guy pull it off? And how can they learn the five "D's" of dodgeball without a coach? The answer: they can't, not without the legendary Patches O'Houlihan! In the end, it's Joe vs. Cobra. Yes, just like the cartoon series...kind of.

Favorite Quote 1: "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!"
Favorite Quote 2: "Nobody makes me bleed my own blood!"
Favorite Quote 3: "Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn't have anything to regret for the rest of their life. Well good luck to you Peter. I'm sure this decision won't haunt you forever."
Favorite Quote 4: "You're in a Chinese opium den, Timmy. This is where the sport of Dodgeball was invented in the 15th Century...by opium-addicted Chinamen."
Favorite Quote 5: "Wait, there's a guy on our team who dresses like a pirate?"
Favorite Quote 6: "Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and...dodge."
Favorite Quote 7: "It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em."
Favorite Quote 8: "You had me at blood and semen."

Odd acquisition story: Eh. Nothing much here really. This was a fantastic Christmas gift from my older brother.

Lingering questions: When is the sequel coming out? There is a sequel, right? How in the world did the producers get Lance Armstrong, David Hasselhoff, William Shatner, and Chuck Norris in the same movie? Is there a better "go-to" character actor than Gary Cole?

Monday, February 25, 2008

DVD Collection Part 13 and the Bloom-o-meter

Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut

Rating: 84 (Collectively)

Plot summary: Poor Orlando Bloom. His wife is dead, and it's apparently a suicide. That's a sin, and the religious leaders in his village say she's going to hell. The young blacksmith is pissed off by this revelation and kills a holy man. This happens just after his father, Liam Neeson (playing the sage figure, as usual) asks him to join him in the Crusades. Orlando refuses, but decides to run off after his act of violence. In this sprawling epic, he encounters Dr. Bashir from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and also kind of hooks up with the chick from Casino Royale. Oh, and Edward Norton hides behind a metal mask. In the end, Orlando finds the true hero within himself, questions the wisdom of a world at holy war, outsmarts a great Muslim leader, and manages to protect the people of Jerusalem. All that, plus Jeremy Irons, Crusaders run amok, great balls of fire, siege tactics, and sword-fighting lessons.

Favorite Quote 1: "I once fought two days with an arrow through my testicle."
Favorite Quote 2: "This is your oath. (slap) And that's so you remember it."
Favorite Quote 3: "The world will decide. The world always decides."
Favorite Quote 4: "That I would rather live with men than kill them is certainly why you are alive."

Odd acquisition story: There's nothing too notable about the acquisition of the theatrical cut of Kingdom of Heaven. I think I used a gift card to buy it when it was on sale at Best Buy. The sprawling, four-disc director's cut is another matter. Unlike a lot of people, I really liked Kingdom of Heaven. I thought it was a very interesting movie. I did feel there were a few "gaps" here and there. I'd read that the director's cut really fills in some of the holes, so I decided I'd rent it off Netflix. I was pumped when I got the first disc. I watched it immediately. But there was a slight problem: Netflix only sends out the first disc of the director's cut; it doesn't send out the second disc or either of the supplemental ones with bonus features. So I was stuck halfway through the movie with no way to get the second half of it through Netflix. To remedy this, I decided it'd be worth it to buy the director's cut, since I really find the film fascinating. I ordered it from DeepDiscountDVD.com for a pretty good price, and a few days later, it arrived. And, as evidenced by the scanned cover at the top of this post, the movie is all mine now. What's this all mean? It basically amounts to a $35 rental.

Lingering questions: Is there a better go-to mentor/father figure than Liam Neeson? I don't think so! Is there anyway to write a brief plot summary of this movie that isn't confusing? How in the world did they ever condense this movie into less than three hours? Where can I get a templar uniform?

And now, a slightly new feature for The Flying Trapeezius...introducing the Bloom-o-meter! I've mentioned before that I have too many Orlando Bloom movies in my collection. Unfortunately, he's in a lot of good movies, several of them franchise flicks. So, to track the Orlando Bloom movies in my collection, here's the current count of the Bloom-o-meter...

You're probably wondering (or maybe you're not) how I came up with "2 3/4" for the Bloom-o-meter. Well, take Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl...and Kingdom of Heaven (theatrical and director's cuts), and you get 2 3/4. You see, Pirates is one movie...and the multiple cuts of Kingdom of Heaven don't quite add up to two whole movies, yet they're too big to count as just a single one...so I figured they'd add up to one-and-three-fourths movies. It's just common sense. You can look forward to more updates from the Bloom-o-meter as I continue my quest to catalogue the movies in my DVD collection throughout the coming weeks. Or months. Or (gulp), maybe even year.

Friday, February 22, 2008

DVD Collection Parts 11 & 12

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Rating: 85

Plot summary: King Arthur and his gallant knights search desperately for the magical, life-bringing Holy Grail. Along the way, they meet some Knights Who Say NI, a crazed, man-eating rabbit, and a brave and persistent Black Knight, among many others. There's singing, dancing, self-referential humor, and general buffoonery.

Favorite Quote 1: "We are the Knights Who Say NI!"
Favorite Quote 2: "Bring out yer dead!"
Favorite Quote 3: Clop clop clop clop clop!
Favorite Quote 4: "'Tis but a scratch."
Favorite Quote 5: "We're knights of the Round Table, we dance whene'er we're able."

Odd acquisition story: This was a Christmas gift from my parents. Mom does most (okay, all) of the Christmas shopping, and I'd put this on my list. When I opened up what should've been Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I was greeted instead by a copy of the movie Jabberwocky. There was a huge sticker on it that said, "by the director of Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Thankfully, Mom kept the receipt, and I went to exchange the DVD. Upon walking out of Wal-Mart (I HATE Wal-Mart), I found out the cashier failed to deactivate the security device. Thus, the alarm went off and I had to prove that the DVD belonged to me.

Lingering questions: Really, the only thing I have to ask: how did these guys come up with this stuff? It's either genius...or insanity.


L.A. Confidential

Rating: 88

Plot summary: In the 50s, corruption runs rampant throughout the L.A. Police Department. Three very different officers form an alliance to seek out the truth. One refuses to sell out, one does everything he can to look good, and one struggles to contain his animalistic rage. Along the way, they encounter conspiracies, a ring of hookers cut to look like Hollywood stars, mob violence, and betrayal at the highest levels.

Favorite Quote 1: "She is Lana Turner."
Favorite Quote 2: " Rollo Tomasi."

Odd acquisition story: Nothing especially striking here. This was a Christmas gift.

Lingering questions: Was anyone not shocked when James Cromwell shot Kevin Spacey? If you were, my hat is off to you. It still surprises me, even though I know it's coming now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

DVD Collection Part 10

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

Rating: 95

Plot summary: A long time ago, some bad pirates (do they come any other way) stole some cursed gold that originally belonged to the Aztecs. They unwisely spent their gold pieces on carnal pleasures and drink, only to find out that moonlight reveals them for what they are: ghosts. Unable to feel, they are in a constant state of thirst and hunger, incapable of quenching desire. How can they break the curse? By returning all the money with a blood sacrifice. Meanwhile, in a different movie, Will Turner finds himself in love with the governor's daughter, Elizabeth Swann. But it seems her father would rather she marry Commodore Norrington. During Norrington's commission ceremony, a pirate enters the picture, changing everyone's lives forever. He's Jack Sparrow...better make that Captain Jack Sparrow. Adventures on the high seas, talking parrots, magic, supernatural events, and bloated (but loved) sequels ensue.

Favorite Quote 1: "You are just about the worst pirate I've ever heard of."
Favorite Quote 2: "Ah, but you have heard of me, haven't you?"
Favorite Quote 3: "You're not a eunuch are you?"
Favorite Quote 4: "I think we've all arrived at a good place. Spiritually. Ecumenically. Grammatically."
Favorite Quote 5: "Where did the rum go?"

Odd acquisition story: First off, let me remind you that this movie is based on a freaking Disney theme park ride. It has no business being so freaking entertaining! Now, onto the acquisition story. I remember going to the theater and absolutely loving it. I could hardly believe it (see the first sentence of this section for the reason why). When it came out on DVD, I didn't buy it immediately. But one day, Best Buy offered it for $9.99, not more than a week or two after it was released. I saw this in their circular, and called my parents, who also loved the movie. I bought two copies, one for me...and the other to take back to my parents. They don't have a Best Buy close to them like I do, so I drove it over to them one weekend.

Lingering questions: So is like the monkey included in the curse, or is it just undead to begin with? Why is the rum always gone? Why do I have so many freaking Orlando Bloom movies in my collection (don't worry, an Official Orlando counter will surface soon)? Why couldn't they just have brought back Barbosa earlier in the second movie? It sure could've used him!

Monday, February 18, 2008

DVD Collection Part 9

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Rating: 88

Plot summary: A boozing, aloof, and egotistical San Diego newsanchor and his action news team are thrown of out complacency when an ambitious blonde female reporter joins their station. What follows doesn't always make sense, is often uncomfortable, and always hilarious. In the end, Ron Burgundy finds love, redemption, and wins the day. What can you say about that?

Favorite Quote 1: "Great Odin's Raven!"
Favorite Quote 2: "I'm Brick Tamland. People seem to like me because I am polite and rarely late."
Favorite Quote 3: "60% of the time, it works every time."
Favorite Quote 4: "It's made with real bits of panther, so you know it's good."
Favorite Quote 5: "I immediately regret this decision."
Favorite Quote 6: "I don't know what we're yelling about!"
Favorite Quote 7: "Loud noises!"

Odd acquisition story: This one was a Christmas gift from my wife (she was my girlfriend at the time of gifting). This was surprising because she hated this movie with a passion. In fact, she still won't watch it with me. I guess she didn't like it when we saw it at the theater. Weird thing is, she liked Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory just fine. I guess I won't recount the crappy movies I've seen with her at the theater...

Lingering questions: If Ron Burgundy, Ricky Bobby, Chazz Michael Michaels, and Jackie Moon (from the upcoming soon-to-be Will Farrell classic Semi-Pro) fought each other, who'd win? Is Steve Carrell perhaps the funniest person in this movie? I think he has a lot of the best lines. How cool must it be to be one of "the guys" in this comedy genre? If you were Ben Stiller, a Wilson brother, or Vince Vaughn, you could basically take a walk-on role in any of these dumb comedy movies and I'd never get tired of it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

K-Money has your hook up!


Hi folks, Coach Kelvin Sampson here and basking in the afterglow of a hard fought win over MSU last night. As you may or may not know, yours truly has come under quite a bit of fire for not telling Uncle Myles and the rest of the pencil pushers at the NC2A the whole truth about how much I just love to gab on the phone. Now, come Friday the hammer might be falling pretty hard, but fear not. Ol’ K-Money already has a plan for all of that sweet buyout money that IU is going to have to fork over if IU decides to cut me loose…

Kelvin’s Phoneatorium! Opening in April in Bloomington and then Norman, OK and then nationwide! We carry Sprint/Nextel, Verizion, T-Mobile and all major brands. Nobody, and I mean nobody, will beat our service plans! Call Waiting! Call Forwarding! Caller ID! Voicemail! 3 Way Calling! 4 Way Calling! Hell, we can go as high as 12 way calling! Illegally recruit an entire team at once, no questions asked! Preorder now and receive my special DVD, “Ass Covering and Under The Bus-Throwing” for no extra charge! Break the rules the Kelvin Sampson Way!

Do me a favor, though. Don’t let Greenspan know I’m working on this until they decide if I’m fired or not. I’m sure he would not think too highly of it. Of course, he would make a pretty good Assistant To The Regional Manager if IU gives him the boot as well…


TO BE CONTINUED…

DVD Collection Parts 7 & 8

NOTE: I've been sick with the flu over the past few days, too weak even to check my email. That's why I broke my string of consecutive posts. I'm trying to make up for it by posting two today.


Ocean's 11

Rating: 89

Plot Summary: Ex-con Danny Ocean (George Clooney) gets out of prison with nothing to do, so he decides to round up a gang of fellow felons and conmen to pull off a huge multi-million dollar heist from a violent and dangerous casino owner named Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). It all comes down during a huge boxing match, when the group knows plenty of money will be on hand. The crew includes cool Rusty (Brad Pitt), green, dorky, and earnest Linus (Matt Damon), outspoken Frank (Bernie Mac), and the destructive Basher (Don Cheadle). Oh, and when it comes down to it, the whole thing is really over the fact that Danny is trying to win back his wife Tess, who's currently with Benedict. A lot of setup, a great cast, and plenty of humor make this one a staple in my collection.

Favorite Quote 1: "They might as well call it whitejack!"
Favorite Quote 2: "Look, we all go way back and uh, I owe you from the thing with the guy in the place and I'll never forget it."
Favorite Quote 3: "This is the best part of my day."

Odd acquisition story: This one's a true Canadian import. I bought Ocean's 11 while on a trip to Stratford, Ontario, Canada. I went up there with a buddy for a college Shakespeare Festival. We went primarily because my buddy loves Canada and it was a chance to go somewhere. At that particular moment in time, the dollar was actually pretty strong, so I ended up getting Ocean's 11 for a pretty good price. Of course, from looking at the case, you wouldn't know this disc was from Canada. When I get to Zoolander, trust me, that'll be a different story. Kind of.

Lingering Questions: How did they pull it off? How long would it really take a guy like Terry Benedict to notice that the vault floor was missing its logo? Just how interchangeable are Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon? Why did people hate Ocean's 12 so much?


Superman: The Movie

Rating: 90

Plot summary: His homeworld of Krypton dying, scientist Jor-El defies the leaders of his world and sends his son Kal-El away from the planet right before it explodes. A kindly couple from Smallville, Kansas, finds the boy and adopts him. They name him Clark. The boy eventually discovers incredible abilities before moving to the big city of Metropolis and fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. Mild-mannered reporter by day, Clark Kent becomes Superman when evil threatens. The Man of Steel meets his greatest challenge in the entertaining scheming of Lex Luthor. Along the way, Superman finds love and rejection with Lois Lane, rescues a kitten from a tree, turns back time by flying around the earth backwards, and endures Margot Kidder, a true super-ability if ever there was one.

Favorite Quote 1: "Otisburg? OTISBURG?"
Favorite Quote 2: "You, you've got me? Who's got you?
Favorite Quote 3: "It's amazing tht brain can generate enough power to keep those legs moving."
Favorite Quote 4: "I'm here to fight for truth, and justice, and the American way."

Odd acquisition story: Nothing odd, really. This DVD was a Christmas gift from my brother the Christmas after I bought my first DVD player. When I was home for college during Christmas vacation, I remember hooking my DVD player up to a TV in my bedroom. It was sitting on top of one of those Rubbermaid totes, hooked up to an RF modulator because the TV didn't have RCA inputs. I recall watching this movie one night, and then watching it with the commentary the next.

Lingering questions: Why Margot Kidder? Annoying, whiny, and definitely not hot. Hey, Mr. Luthor, could you come up with a plan that doesn't involve real estate? Wait a second...that's a question for Superman Returns. And to be fair...Luthor did plan to team up with those three criminal Kryptonians to bring Superman down. Can you believe how big Clark Kent's glasses are?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

DVD Collection Part 6

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Rating: 87

Plot summary: Whiny Anakin Skywalker spirals toward ultimate tragedy as the galaxy is ripped apart by a war between the Republic and the Separatists. Taken under the wing of kindly old Chancellor Palpatine, Anakin grapples with secret love, ambition, confusion, and ultimately self-delusion. His "love" for his wife Padme spells ultimate doom for Anakin, who eventually turns his back on his friend and mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, before becoming trapped in the living hell of being Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith. The last part happens after Anakin tells his friend he hates him, and then proceeds to catch on fire in a scene that's both emotionally jarring and unintentionally funny if you happen to be in the proper mood.

Favorite Quote 1: "You were my brother Anakin! I loved you!"
Favorite Quote 2: "Execute Order 66."
Favorite Quote 3: "Do it!"
Favorite Quote 4: "Power! Unlimited power!"
Favorite Quote 5: "I AM the Senate!"
Uncomfortable Love Quote: "No, it's because I'm so in love with you."
Most Disappointing James Earl Jones Quote: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Why it's in my collection: A devoted Star Wars fan, I was pumped when I learned about the prequel trilogy. And like any other devoted fan, I was at opening day for each of the new movies. Refusing to let go of my childhood love, I enjoyed all the prequel movies, while admitting they're not as good as the original trilogy. Still, you've got Jedi, big battles, lightsabers, huge ships, and John Williams' score. Truly, you can't go wrong with any of those elements, even if the B-movie bad guy/droid has a bad cough. I honestly can't imagine ever having a movie collection that didn't include each Star Wars film. Owning this one completed my Star Wars movie collection.

Odd acquisition story: When this movie came out on DVD, I was extremely excited. Then I found out there was a "team meeting" at work. I have a strange shift, with my hours being from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. on most days. The staff meeting didn't start until 1 p.m. So I did what any good Star Wars fan would do; I left work after my shift was over, drove up to Wal-Mart (the closest retail store I could think of, unfortunately), picked up my copy, and then returned to work for the meeting. I swear to you, no meeting has ever lasted so long! But the good thing is...once it was all over, I got to relive Revenge of the Sith at home. I'm pretty sure I watched it three days in a row!

Lingering Questions: Why did anyone think it'd be cool/neat/necessary for General Grievous to cough? Why must Star Wars villains have respiratory problems? How many Jedi survived the Purge? Why is it that Palpatine got all the good lines!? And how could any sane person ever doubt that Darth Sidious and Palpatine were the same dude!?

Monday, February 11, 2008

DVD Collection Part 5

The Mummy Returns

Rating: 70

Plot summary: Rick O'Connell returns, this time with Evie as his wife. Actually, pretty much everyone is back from the first film, except for poor Beni, who we all presume got his comeuppance via those cute little flesh-eating scarabs. This time around, a cult brings Imhotep back to life so he can control the Scorpion King (or something like that). Evie has dreams of being an Egyptian princess, her son Alex has some sort of mystical bracelet. There's fighting, some sort of dirigible, and a lot of really, really bad CGI. That's right...we know what the Rock is cooking...really, really fake and rubbery CGI. Yet, you can't help but love it. Oh, and there's something about an invincible army of darkness. I think.

Favorite Quote: You know, a couple of years ago, this would have seemed really strange to me.

Why it's in my collection: Hey, an uninteresting as it sounds, I own The Mummy. I'm kind of a completist sometimes (selectively, as you'll find as we go through this grand experiment), so I figured I'd just go ahead and buy The Mummy Returns. I remember going to see this with a friend and then hitting Steak n' Shake afterwards. We had a pretty good time picking the flick apart...we were especially amused by the way the film played up the Rock...when in fact he was in it for like five minutes...and three of those minutes involved a computer-generated Rock as a half-man, half-scorpion.

Odd acquisition story: Hmmm...I think I saw one of those sales on Best Buy's website in which they try to liquidate a bunch of nearly new releases. Sometimes they'll do like 2 DVDs for $15 or something like that. This was just one of the ones I picked. Yeah, that's really interesting, isn't it? Earth shattering, right?

Lingering questions: What the heck happened in this movie? Why are they making a third one? Why was Imhotep able to return with his powers?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

DVD Collection Part 4

Hoosiers

Rating: 92

Plot summary: A beat-up, down-on-his-luck basketball coach (Gene Hackman) with a past tries to salvage himself and his career by taking over the team at a small-town Indiana high school. Along the way, he flirts uncomfortably with Barbara Hershey, kicks a player off his team, hires a drunk for an assistant coach, convinces the town's best player to hit the hardwood, and proves once and for all that ten feet is ten feet, no matter where you play. Oh, he also proves that dreams can come true. Oh yes, dreams can most certainly come true. The movie of course is loosely based on the Milan Miracle, substituting the Hickory Huskers for Milan.

Favorite Quote 1: "We're gonna run the picket fence!"
Favorite Quote 2: "Don't get caught watchin' the paint dry."
Favorite Quote 3: "If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we're gonna be winners."
Favorite Quote 4: "Let's win this game for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here."

Why it's in my collection: What kind of Indiana-born sports fan would I be without having Hoosiers in my collection? The answer: a lousy one! This is the quintessential Indiana movie that reminds me that David can beat Goliath, that anything is possible if you work hard and believe enough. When this movie came out in 1986, I was six years old. I simply didn't "get it." When my famiy went to see it, I was bored. My brother saw it at least twice at the theater. He thought it was the greatest movie ever. He was ten years old. Can you believe that? I once thought Hoosiers was boring! I no longer think that; in fact, it's the greatest sports movie of all time, in my opinion. When I think of Indiana basketball, I think of Coach Norman Dale, the picket fence, and Olly.

Odd acquisition story: This is one of the rare movies in my collection that I didn't actually buy myself. One of my friends at work (I work in television) received several copies for a station giveaway. He squirreled one of them away for me, which I thought was very nice. This two-disc set is pretty cool. Not only does it have a few deleted scenes, its has the entire game footage of the real Milan Miracle. It's a cool extra to have, perhaps the greatest extra ever included on DVD. Of course, I'm sure I'll contradict that particular claim somewhere down the line.

Lingering Questions: Hey, when did Buddy get back on the team (it's in a deleted scene)?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

DVD Collection Part 3

Gladiator

Rating: 95

Plot summary: General Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius has a slight problem. That "true emperor" is in the twilight of his life, and wants Maximus to take over as leader of Rome. The humble soldier refuses. His reward? Marcus' power-hungry goat of a son Commodus kills his own father and orders the execution of Maximus and his family. Maximus escapes that fate, but is too late to save his wife and son. Grief-stricken, he becomes a slave, leading up to the longest and most unlikely revenge plan in the history of revenge plans. Along the way, he befriends a powerful senator, makes friends with a goofy Germanic slave, kind of rekindles a long-lost love, and saves Rome by giving Commodus the "Tavington treatment" (a blade right through the throat). This is all despite the fact that Commodus, the most powerful man in Rome, is a dirty, dirty, sister-kissing cheater.

Favorite Quote 1: They say no.
Favorite Quote 2: I will see you again. But not yet. Not yet.
Favorite Quote 3: Now we are free.
Favorite Quote 4: Now they love Maximus for his mercy!
Favorite Quote 5: Marcus Aurelius had a dream that was Rome, Proximo. That is not it. That is not it!

Why it's in my collection: Gladiator is one of those movies that just stuck with me for some reason. I remember going to see it with my father in the summer of 2000, thinking it was one of the coolest movies I'd ever seen. I loved the costumes, the sets, the action pieces. A true hero and a gripping story full of betrayal and political intrigue. I thought maybe one day I'd be able to write something just as compelling. Maybe one day...

Odd acquisition story: This is one of the first three DVDs I ever owned. In fact, the only reason I ever got into the DVD format was because of this movie. As I mentioned earlier, Gladiator just stuck with me for some reason. When it came out on home video, you had to wait until six months after the DVD release to get the VHS copy! Up until this point, I was completely pissed off at the DVD format. It was being shoved down my throat, and I was perfectly happy with my VHS tapes. But if I wanted to own Gladiator so I could watch it over and over again, I'd have to wait six months for the tape! So, after much thought and reflection, I realized I had enough money to buy a DVD player. I went to Kmart the day after Thanksgiving with my friend Brian and purchased a Samsung DVD player that was on sale. Along with that, I bought three movies: Gladiator, The Patriot (the Mel Gibson one, not the Jean-Claude Van Damme one), and Frequency. Of course, six months later, the VHS version came out. I didn't care...I'd finally caved to the DVD format, immersed in glorious widescreen, deleted scenes, director commentary, and delicious extra content. Would I own a DVD player today if it weren't for Gladiator? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. However, it's not a stretch to say I may not have caved into the format until the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace the next year.

Lingering Questions: Who is this Russell Crowe guy? You think he'll have much of a career after this? Could Joaquin Phoenix ever give a creepier performance than his incestuous turn as Commodus? If Oliver Reed hadn't died during filming, what would've happened to his character? Why did Hagen have to die?

Friday, February 08, 2008

DVD Collection Part 2

Part II of my (hopefully) ongoing series...

The Untouchables

Rating: 88

Plot Summary: Federal Treasury Agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner in one of his finest roles) wages a war on crime in Chicago against the notorious mobster/baseball fan Al Capone (Robert De Niro). With a rag-tag group of allies, including Asian-Rican recruit George Stone (Andy Garcia at his Asian-Ricanist -- that one's for you, Krildog), Jim Malone (Sean Connery in his Oscar turn), and Agent Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith as a very convincing bookworm/Rambo/red paint set), Ness works to bring down the man who would rule Chicago. City corruption, Prohibition, and Canadian mounties all play prominent roles in this fantastic Brian De Palma vehicle.

Favorite Quote 1: "He's in the car."
Favorite Quote 2: "Never stop fighting till the fight is done."
Favorite Quote 3: "Did he sound anything like THAT?"

Why it's in my collection: Really, you can't have enough Sean Connery movies. I really don't have that many in my collection. So, yeah, I need to add some more Sean Connery movies. The Untouchables is one of those flicks they played as a weekend movie on stations like WGN and local channels here in Indiana (like WTTV 4). I just always loved the characters in this one. I realize now how many fantastic actors helped make this a great movie. The score is excellent, the action pieces enthralling. And that guy that plays Frank Nitti? He was a great bad guy. Plus, the scene where Malone bites the dust is awesome and poignant. It's just an all-around terrific film.

Odd acquisition story: Nothing in particular comes to mind here. I'm pretty sure I saw it at a decent discount somewhere and decided at that moment that I had to have it.

Lingering Questions: Have I seen the dude who played Frank Nitti in anything since this movie? Is that actor's name really Billy Drago? Why didn't the film have the real epilogue that was called for: Al Capone dying of syphilis?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Still trying to find a groove...

You know how it is. I haven't written anything consistently here for several months now. Each time I get excited about something, it seems like something comes up. My "stick to it" nature hasn't been doing anything lately but "sticking it to" anyone who would happen upon TFT and try to read something quasi-new on a semi-frequent basis. I've vowed before to change all this, and here I am again writing yet another freaking post about how I want to write more often. I also usually end up rattling off a pretty significant list of excuses, a trend I will now continue.

First of all, the Colts broke my heart. After they lost to San Diego (and the way they lost to San Diego), I simply didn't want to write any more about football. Because, in my perspective, I was mentally preparing for the inevitable: the New England Patriots would become the Greatest Team in NFL History. I was prepared to live the rest of my life with that knowledge, knowing that there was no way the Pats would lose, not with the Colts out of the way. With that kind of pessimism, you can imagine that droning on and on about the Patriots was not something I was looking forward to. Second, I've been working on a book. Another personal project, pure drivel, I'm sure. But it's fun and I've devoted a lot of time to working on that lately. It's satisfying on a personal level. I'm not tracking word counts or setting a number of pages that I'm trying to reach. I'm just writing, taking the story wherever I want it to go. I think I mentioned a few posts back that I was working on a book for a contest on Amazon.com; sadly, my magnum opus didn't make the cut for the next round. I've set that novel aside for the one I'm currently working on. When it's "finished," I'll go back and whip the first one into shape. I've got such good momentum right now on my "second" book, it'd be criminal to stop. I'd like to say there's a third reason (like the ever-present Xbox 360 and a game called Mass Effect), but there isn't. I've put the controller down for a while. A new game calls for my attention, but I'm afraid Assassin's Creed will have to wait until I'm completely satisfied with my writing efforts.

Are those good excuses? Do I ever have good excuses? The answer to both questions is a loud, ominous "no."

I probably can't make it up, and I'm not going to promise broad new content for the struggling TFT (ahem...I remember when more people contributed other than me), but I'm going to commit to something and pray that I follow through. It's not sports-related or anything like that. Every once in a while, I like to write about entertainment. Sometimes I struggle with finding a topic to write about, so I have a topic that is guaranteed to keep me supplied with ideas...until my DVD collection runs out.

I'm going to go through my DVD collection, highlighting one movie at a time. Why? Just because I want to. Nobody's reading anyway, right? Right? TFT is a playground for my ideas and musings. So if anything, when we've blown ourselves up or died off as a race, floating somewhere in the collective data of what was once cyberspace, someone somewhere will stumble upon the name "Studicus" and wonder why the hell he owns the Director's Cut of Kingdom of Heaven.

I've composed a simple system for this. I'll name the movie (duh), give my rating (on a controversial scale of 100! The four-star system can suck it!), a brief plot summary that may or may not actually have anything to do with the movie's plot, any lingering questions I have about the film, and why I like it. I'll probably also name a favorite scene and, if applicable, share a funny story about the movie's acquisition (you know, was it a gift? Impulse buy?).

The first movie I'm going to focus on?


Oh yeah. Sing it out. Sing it strong! KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Director's Cut)

Rating: 90

Plot Summary: In the second Star Trek feature film, one of the most beloved villains returns for a second go-round: Ricardo Montalban. He looks much older in the movie compared to his original appearance in the classic Star Trek episode "Space Seed." At least, I'm told it's a classic episode, seeing as how I've seen it in its entirety exactly one time. The genetically-engineered Khan returns to haunt Captain, excuse me, Admiral Kirk and his crew. It all involves some device that restores life to dead worlds or something. Kirk connects with a former love and his estranged son, Khan butchers lines from Moby Dick, Spock gets microwaved while saving the Enterprise, and there's a stirring rendition of "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes as Spock's radiation-saturated body is blown out the ship in a shiny black box. Really, it's a lot more exciting than it sounds.

Favorite Quote 1: "You are and always will be my friend."
Favorite Quote 2: "Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human."
Favorite Quote 3: "I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round perdition's flames before I give him up."
Favorite Quote 4: "Buried alive. Buried alive." "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!"

Why it's in my collection: I have an affinity for Star Trek, though it's not my top science fiction series (a distinction that goes to Star Wars...oh, I know, I know...Star Wars is science fiction fantasy...now that I've cleared that up, I can roll my eyes). It seems the "odd" curse is true, especially of the original series movies. I just love this one. The two-disc set is pretty sweet, the video transfer is superior to the original single-disc release I had. To prove I'm not completely heartless, I gave my original single-disc version to a dear friend.

Odd acquisition story: Well, there's nothing really "odd" about this one. I have three other Star Trek films, and they were all the two-disc sets. Wrath of Khan was the first Trek DVD I bought, so I only had the single-disc version. Once I found a good sale for the two-disc version, I decided it'd be nice to have a uniform collection.

Lingering Questions: How did Khan know Chekhov? Though I'm not a nit-picker for the original series, this question always confused a lot of fans. I know there's an answer out there somewhere, I just can't remember what it is. I also wonder if Spock died to surprise people, or because Leonard Nimoy wanted to direct movies. Also, can you imagine if this movie had been made in the internet era? Spock's death would've been splashed all over the news months before it hit theaters!