Thursday, October 30, 2014

What Does It Mean To Be A Bodyguard?

Tonight's marathon is all about protecting the one's assigned to you to guard, and in some cases, also means you fall in love with them. This marathon is all about playing one role: To be a bodyguard. Being a bodyguard means you never let the person you're protecting out of your sight, never let your guard down and most importantly, never fall in love. We have on our menu for this evening:

The Defender 1994, The Bodyguard 1994, The Terminator 1984, Star Wars Episode ll: Attack of the Clones 2002, The World Is Not Enough 1999, and The Fifth Element 1997

Not all of them may seem like bodyguard and forbidden romance movies, but once you do the math and start to think about the storylines in each one, the reasons behind their addition to the lineup becomes more obvious. All of these movies present the formula of a guy sent on a mission to protect an important female character, and do so with the understanding that they will sacrifice their lives if necessary to protect those individuals. But what each and everyone one of the male figures in this lineup didn't expect to do in the course of playing the vital role of the protector is to establish an emotional connection with their client. Sometimes getting too close to someone with that kind of job title can be a bad thing and allow complications to arise. Jet Li's The Defender starts this formula and introduces all the complications of guy protecting girl, falling for girl, and ultimately realizing that they can't keep a relationship going if they wish to protect that person. The Defender begins the theme of tonight's marathon with a corrupt businessman who commits a murder and the witness of such an event is the girlfriend of a businessman who has close connections to the Chinese government. In order to protect her so she can give her testimony, a bodyguard from Beijing played by Jet Li, is dispatched to help two Hong Kong cops protect the witness. What follows after are complications that arise when the bodyguard and the witness both fall for each other, and must deal with their growing and intense feelings for one another. The next film The Bodyguard is very similar in storyline with an ex Secret Service agent taking the job of protecting a pop singer, whose the target of an obsessed fanatic or secret assassin. Like The Defender, complications arise when the agent Frank Farmer played by Kevin Costner, begins to fall for his client, pop singer Rachael Meredith played by Whitney Houston. The two clash egos and want to be seen as the one in charge of the other, but can't cope with the fact that their intense passion for each other is interfering with Frank's job to protect her. The Bodyguard juggles these themes very well, making you understand the issues that the other films characters wrestle with. The third film Terminator, takes the bodyguard angle to a new level of excitement. This storyline takes place in the future with two soldiers sent back through time travel, one a soldier from the resistance named Kyle Reese whose mission is to protect a woman named Sarah Conner, whose unborn child will lead the resistance against the machines that threaten to destroy mankind. The second soldier is a machine called The Terminator that is a cyborg wearing living human tissue, whose mission is to seek out and destroy Sarah Conner, so that mankind will have no leader in the war against the machines. The Terminator may appear to come off as a science fiction monster movie, but it also can be read as a romantic drama. The bodyguard theme is present here with Kyle Reese protecting Sarah Conner to the point where if necessary, he will sacrifice his life for her. It later gets revealed in the film that he not only volunteered for the mission, but he is the father sent back through time to ensure that John Connor is born. He falls in love with Sarah by studying a picture of her that was given to him by John Connor in the future war. His only moment of salvation during the battles is to sit in a corner in a basement with the rest of the nuclear blast survivors and gaze at a picture of Sarah Connor that was folded in his pocket. The Terminator may be an iconic Scfi movie but it also remains one of cinemas greatest love stories. The next film is a James Bond film titled The World Is Not Enough. Like the previous three films before it, this Bond movie deals with Pierce Brosnan's Bond being assigned to protect an oil heiress from her former kidnapper, who plans to carry out a scheme involving a nuclear threat to wipe out Europe. Bond begins to fall for the seductive charms of Sophie Marceau's character Elektra King, who doesn't seem to care to much that her life is being threatened. Much like the conflict between bodyguard and client as shown in The  Defender and The Bodyguard, Bond sleeps with his client, only to discover shortly afterwards that she may not be as helpless as she appears to be. The final two entries in the marathon are the same type of conflict but have now turned into space operas. Star Wars Episode ll: Attack of the Clones, introduces a teenage Anakin Skywalker whose been assigned by the Jedi Council to protect senator Padme Amidala from an assassination attempt plotted by the separatists. The conflict that arises is Anakin, though a whiny young apprentice to his master Obi Wan Kenobi, has developed an emotional attachment to Padme since he last saw her ten years prior in The Phantom Menace. During their private moments together where he serves as a bodyguard for her, they begin to express their intimate feelings for each other. Like how Frank Farmer and Rachael Meredith had different job professions, Anakin and Padme experience a similar dilemma with Anakin studying to become a Jedi master, and Padme a senator. Their situation means a relationship between them isn't possible unless it's kept hidden from public view, something both are afraid to do because it would destroy their lives ultimately. Episode ll may not be the best written romance involving the bodyguard theme (it won a razzie for worst screenplay), but it's essential to this marathon in terms of driving home the message that sometimes it's difficult to love somebody because of the boundaries that society places upon them. The final film in the evening is the Fifth Element. Bruce Willis finds himself in possession of mankind's greatest weapon against it's own demise, a woman with extraordinary power that can obliterate a ball of fire heading towards Earth which represents the ultimate evil. Willis character is revealed to be a lonely cab driver whose down on his luck, until this one person falls into the back of his cab while evading the police. He easily falls for her, and during the course of the movie protects her, with her doing the same in the ultimate twist at the end. She not only protects him but ends up saving the world from total annihilation by using her powers to destroy the ultimate forces of evil. It's a perfect finish to a great lineup of movies that explore the theme of a guy protecting girl then falling for her. It raises some pretty ethical questions such as whether you should date the person you're protecting, or if a relationship like the ones presented in the film could ever work under those circumstances. That's what tonight's lineup is all about exploring.

Monday, October 27, 2014

In Love And War

Tonight's marathon is one that revolves around the issue of romance during wartime. There are several different scenarios and issues at play here, ranging from two brothers being in love with the same woman while one goes off to war. When that brother returns, he finds that things have changed and life has moved on without him. Or two best friends whose bond runs thicker than blood and one goes off to war, gets shot down and presumed dead, then comes back to find that the other friend has fallen in love with the same girl. Tonight we reflect on the effects war has on relationships before and after the fact. We have on tonight's menu:

               Brothers 2009, Atonement 2007, Enemy at the Gates 2002, and Pearl Harbor 2001

The timeline for the four films have been reversed starting at present day and going backwards in time to a point where there was a feeling of innocence before the true wars began. Brothers represents a modern day look at relationships involving soldiers who go off to war, and the effects has on not only the soldiers themselves but the actual families of those affected. War touches a lot more than just the battlefield, it hits our homes, and we experience the ultimate consequences of it. Those consequences can range from loss of a loved one to misinformation and people moving on with their lives when they don't need to necessarily. Brothers features strong performances from Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Tobey Maguire, making them feel like real people that we care about in the end. The storyline for this movie is modern day with the Iraq war, a husband of a family goes off to war to fight for his country, and is presumed dead. The wife and children are left devastated and are looked after by his brother. As time goes on, the brother and wife form a bond that grows with time and ultimately becomes an issue when the husband is revealed to be alive. He comes back after being traumatized by what he experienced during captivity. Brothers is the most realistic of the four because it comes straight out of modern day time, and we can all relate to this scenario. The next film Atonement, takes us back to the beginning of World War ll, where romance was also on the horizon going into battle. Nominated for 7 academy awards, this film deals with a 13 year old writer named Briony Tallis, a 13-year old girl who changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's lover of a crime he didn't commit. The third film Enemy at the Gates, deals with a Russian sniper and a German sniper playing a card of cat-and-mouse during the Battle of Stalingrad. The two friends in this one played by Jude Law, and Joseph Fiennes, fight over the charms of a beautiful Russian soldier played by Rachael Weisz. During the course of the film, they battle a ruthless German sniper played by the great Ed Harris. He is as cold-blooded as the Terminator in this one. The fourth and final film in the marathon is Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. Perhaps the most controversial film of the four movies up for viewing tonight, the film was a box office success in 2001 but got critically panned by critics for failing to capture the realism of war. Though the film got huge praise for it's astounding action sequences, some audiences were left cold by the love story. Going into the planning of this marathon, it was decided that Pearl Harbor had to be included to show the innocence of war before America got forced into World War ll, and the romance between a nurse Kate Beckinsale, and two fighter pilots Josh Hartnett and Ben Affleck is Brothers in past times. It has justification for being in this marathon because it helps to drive home the message that war not only affects the people on the battlefield, but the families of those involved.

Themes that cover this marathon are romance, friendship, war, and whether looking after a siblings family when they think you're dead betrayal?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Outbreak/Epidemic marathon

Tonight's marathon is all about the spread of massive and deadly epidemics through five different storylines. Totally inspired by the recent events of the Ebola virus, were in for an evening of utter and sheer terror. We have on our menu for this evening:

  Outbreak 1995, 28 Days Later 2002, Contagion 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2011, and I Am Legend 2007

Does that sound like an intense lineup or what? All of these movies have a deadly disease that threatens to wipe out large portions of the population and possibly mankind. We begin the evening with the classic outbreak film titled Outbreak. With an all star cast among the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Spacey, we see a group of civilians and corrupt military figures taking extreme measures to contain an epidemic of a deadly airborne virus. This serves as a great prelude to the second film in the lineup titled 28 Days Later. In this epidemic tale, the story picks up four weeks after an incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, allowing the audience to follow a group of survivors in their quest to find protection from the infected. If one uses their imagination, this film can be seen as the direct sequel to the events of Outbreak. Not only is 28 Days Later one of the most thrilling epidemic movies ever made, but it was such a big hit that it led to a solid sequel titled 28 Weeks Later. The third film Contagion, has a high profile cast like Outbreaks with the inclusion of Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Contagion shows the everyday normal people such as healthcare professionals, government officials, and regular civilians finding themselves in the midst of a worldwide epidemic as the CDC works to find a cure. The lineup leads to towering heights with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. In this entry, a substance that's designed to help the brain repair itself, gives rise to a chimp that is so super-intelligent, he becomes capable of leading an ape uprising. While this film may not appear to be as an outbreak movie like the others, it has many layers of that theme in it's story and a virus plays a role in the latter part of the movie. The final film of the night brings home the impact of the outbreak and epidemic with I Am Legend. I Am Legend takes place years after an epidemic that killed most of the worlds population and turns the rest into monsters. The only survivor of the epidemic played by Will Smith, struggles to find a cure.

By putting all of these movies together, it gives the illusion that this is really one giant epidemic that's slowly wiping out mankind one film at a time. There is no hope for humanity this evening.

Monday, October 20, 2014

If You Take My Kid, Im Coming For Your Ass Night.

Tonight's marathon sums up one theme: If you take my child, i'm coming for your ass. This evening is all about witnessing a wrath of vengeance involving the parents of caretakers of the children being taken from them. This is one lineup that gets more badass by the minute. We have on our menu for this evening:

Ransom 1996, Leon The Professional 1994, Taken 2008, Kill Bill Vol 2 2004, and Man On Fire 2004,

This one's for all the parents out there who love their kids so much that if ever put in a situation like this, they'll comeback swinging with a vengeance. This is epic, badass, poignant, intense, and exciting. Not to mention, this is one powerful evening. Watching someone's kid getting kidnapped is heartbreaking and makes you really feel for the parents in their frustration to find answers concerning their kids disappearance. There is no other way to lead into this story arc than with Ron Howard's Ransom. This film begins the whole theme of kidnapping with Mel Gibson playing a rich man whose son is kidnapped. He begins by corporating with the police but when realizing that the people holding his son hostage are not about honoring contracts, he begins to formulate his own tactic towards getting his son back. This is hands down one of Mel Gibson's finest performances and is a real shame that he didn't get an Oscar nom for his work. This is a powerful film that speaks to all parents who lost their children to kidnapping or abduction. The next film Leon The Professional, continues the kidnapping and revenge plot but takes a different approach towards it. In this film, the lead character is a professional assassin who rescues and protects a young girl played by Natalie Portman after her family gets killed by evil cops in a police raid. While doing so, the two form a relationship that is along the lines of father and daughter. This is an important subplot because it is used later on in Man on Fire between Denzel and Dakota Fanning, and Aliens with Ripley and Newt. The next film Taken, is essentially the story of a man who is fighting to get his family back after being divorced, and gets his opportunity when his daughter gets kidnapped while on vacation in Europe. It also helps that Liam Neeson's character is an ex CIA agent who relies on his special skills to rescue his estranged daughter from human traffickers. This was the movie that turned Liam Neeson into an action star, and proved that PG-13 action can be gritty, exciting, and deal with such a serious topic as human trafficking and kidnapping. The theme of the story is a father fights to get his daughter back at all costs, while at the same time showing his family that he will always be there for them. Man on Fire returns to the same style of kidnapping that Leon The Professional introduced. In that film, Denzel Washington plays a former assassin who swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he swore to protect. That act is the kidnapping of the families daughter played by Dakota Fanning. Man on Fire is much like Leon The Professional in the sense that both deal with assassins who swear to protect the people they come in contact with, both men formulate a relationship with a child that ultimately opens them up and makes them care. And in the end, it also means making the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety of the ones they fight for.

If there's any theme or message that will come out of tonight's marathon, it's the simple notion that when placed in a situation such as child abduction, kidnapping, or human trafficking, parents will always fight to protect those they love.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Time Travel Night

Tonight's marathon is all about going back in time to alter the course of history, which left unhandled could lead to the destruction of mankind. These scenarios even go as far as to include the XMen in their quest to save all mutants from being destroyed by a powerful new machine called The Sentinals. We have on our menu for this evening:

Back To The Future 1985, Deja Vu 2006, 12 Monkeys 1995, Looper 2012, XMEN Days Of Future Past 2014

This is an incredible lineup for the theme of time travel. As the great John Connor said in Terminator 2 Judgment Day "The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves." That's exactly what's happening here tonight. We see the future altered through five different scenarios starting with the timeless class Back To The Future. In this film, Michael J Fox plays a young teenager who gets sent back to the future 30 years earlier in a time travel invention created by his friend Doc Brown played by Christopher Lloyd. His mission is to make his high school parents unite in order to preserve his own existence. Back To The Future is not only one of the biggest movies of the 1980's, but also spawned a trilogy of films. The next film Deja Vu, deals with Denzel Washington playing an ATF agent who travels back in time to save a woman from being murdered, and during the process, falls in love with her. This movie clearly takes inspiration from The Terminator which had the same scenario. The fact that Deja Vu lifted its story from Terminator speaks high volumes about that film. The next film 12 Monkeys takes place in the future where disease has destroyed mankind, sending a convict back in time to gather information about a man-made virus that wipes out most of the human population on the planet. Brad Pitt received a well-deserved Oscar nom for his role, with this remaining one of Bruce Willis finest performances. He also stars in the film that comes after titled Looper, this time set in the year 2074 with the mob trying to assassinate someone. The target the mob is after gets sent into the past with a hired gun awaiting him. The lead character Joe learns that one day, the mob wants to close the loop by sending his future self back for assassination. Does Bruce Willis love this time travel stuff or what? The final film of the evening is XMen Days of the Future Past, hands down the greatest XMen movie ever made. In this film, the XMen are being overrun by Sentinals and wiped off the face of the Earth. To ensure their own survival, they must send back Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent a historical event that results in doom for both humans and mutants. Besides T2 Judgment Day, there is no better climatic ending to this marathon that shows the wonderful effects of altering the past for a better future. The film is an amazing finale, and a wonderful retcon of the trainwreck that was XMEN 3.

Expendables lll Review

Finally got to see Expendables lll


Expendables lll has a sad legacy placed upon it. Not only did this film leak about a good three weeks before it came out in theaters, but also flopped and got harshly criticized for watering down the swearing and graphic violence to PG-13 levels. In all honesty, it wasn't that bad but it's a sad era in filmmaking when a director or studio compromises on their projects to meet a certain ratings standard in order to secure a theatrical release and make profits. One truly misses the old experimentation period of the 1980's where great action movies emerged such as The Terminator, Aliens, Robocop, Die Hard, First Blood, Lethal Weapon, Commando, and Predator. We've seen several franchises make the transition from being rated R to PG-13 with mixed to terrible results. Die Hard 4 went PG-13 and while that one was the most successful of the series, it turned off many fans of the first three films. Terminator Salvation went PG-13 and ended up driving the Terminator franchise into the ground even further than where it was at before the fact. The remake of Robocop did ok with PG-13, but one notices when watching that film, it lacks the energy and high level action of the original 1987 classic. So going back to what was said about Expendables lll not being too bad, it really wasn't.

The third entry in this joke of a series is actually quite fun, and kept the action pretty hardcore for PG-13. One does not notice that fact until near the end of the film. It feels just as energetic, goofy, and fun as the previous two films, and on some level better. The highlight of the movie is the action and the chemistry with the action stars, though some take backseats in place for newer stars to shine in this entry. This is a definite improvement from the second movie, and gives time to flesh out the characters more in this movie. The plot for Expendables lll is this: Sylvestor Stallone's character Barney puts together a new team of Expendables to take down an evil co-founder of the expendables and notorious arms trader Conrad Stonebacks, played impressively by Mel Gibson. Conrad is hell bent on wiping out Barney and all of his associates in the old and new team. The original team which included the likes of Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren, and Jet Li are present here, but they also are welcomed by an even more impressive selection of cameos ranging from Harrison Ford, to Wesley Snipes, and Antonio Banderas. The best actors in the film are those three plus Mel Gibson. Stallone does what he does best which is to be a likeable action star, even if he's getting older. Gibson serves to be a very strong villain, though lacks some of the spark Van Damme had as the villain in the second film. Wesley Snipes intro into the group comes with a hilarious comment about why he was in jail prior to joining the team. His comment marks the real life irony of Snipes predicament for going to jail himself. Of all the expendables movies, this one probably had the best screenplay and made you care more about the characters in this one compared to the others. This is not an endorsement to it being a great piece of filmmaking, but it's certainly not as bad as people make the film out to be. It's quite entertaining and deserves at least a 7 out of 10 for understanding exactly what type of film it is, and never straying away from that logic. Expendables lll is probably the best R rated turned PG-13 transformation thus far, and it really doesn't feel that much different. The hardcore violence is still there like Stallone promised it would be. Will this be the final installment for the series? It feels like it but I doubt it will be, they'll reboot it. Is it worth a redbox rental? Sure, and it might be even better to wait for the unrated cut that will follow it's release on DVD. Honestly guys, it really wasn't that bad.