Thursday, July 30, 2015

When A Man Saves The President

Tonight's marathon is exciting, epic, and gets right to the point with its message. The message of this marathon simply says: If you take my president then i'm coming to rescue him and coming for your ass. This marathon bleeds patriotism and assembles some of the greatest and most iconic presidential rescues on film. Whether they are Secret Service agents, soldiers from the 1940s turned superheroes, an ex soldier and bank robber turned rescuer or a president with combat experience taking matters into his own hands, tonight we see several terrorist plots ultimately foiled. It is a thrilling and incredibly heroic marathon that shows the good and bad in people as well as a nation uniting under the most extreme circumstances. Tonight is a great night to wave your American flags high. We have on our menu for this evening:

Wild Wild West 1999, Captain America 1990, Escape From New York 1981, Olympus Has Fallen 2013, White House Down 2013, and Air Force One 1997

This marathon to put it bluntly is FUN. One of the main reasons why people go to the movies is to be entertained and taken on a journey. This marathon has all of that and more with the journey being the president of the United States being protected by his bodyguards and fighting for survival under dire circumstances. One of the reasons this marathon works is not because it's a fun concept but it shows the depths our heroes will go to save the life of someone they may agree or disagree with politically. Many of the presidents in tonight's marathon show truly heroic traits and principles along with presidents that turn out to be half-hearted and careless about the sacrifices being committed to save them. The filmmakers behind many of these movies wanted to present heroic figures with not just those who rescue the presidents but the commander in chief themselves, mainly because they wanted to give the audience leaders they can believe in and empathize with. The problem with todays society is that many people have lost respect for the office or what being a president means, and look down on them as either corrupt, incompetent, or uninformed about the problems in society. This marathon doesn't deny any of that but makes a simple point that at the end of the day, the president is the leader of the free world and is human like the rest of us. The first movie of the lineup begins the theme of saving the president during the western era with 1999's critically panned blockbuster Wild Wild West starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, and Selma Hayek. The plot of this movie focuses on two Government agents named Jim West and Artemus Gordon, the best hired agents in the West who must put aside each others differences and save the president from the clutches of a crazed 19th century inventor whose created a doomsday weapon (The 80 ft Spider) to force the United States to surrender to the confederate army. Wild Wild West was a commercial success but received horrific reviews upon it's release and is generally considered one of Will Smith's worst films to date. In defense of this film, it falls into the category of so bad its good as time has been kinder towards it and other worse films have made it look good in comparison. Cough After Earth Cough. The film is an entertaining thrill ride and a strong introduction for the theme of protecting and saving one of the earliest United States president named Ulysses S. Grant. As long as one doesn't take the plot of the film seriously nor consider it historical fact surrounded around a real life individual, then Wild Wild West provides the fun and entertainment. The second movie in the lineup is the 1990 critically doomed first attempt at making a Captain America movie. In this version of the iconic superhero's origin story, Captain America is frozen in the ice for decades and freed to battle his arch-nemesis Red Skull whose taken hostage the president of the United States. It is up to Captain America to save him as the fate of the free world lies in the hands of Red Skull. Budgetary problems prevented this one from ever gaining a theatrical release in America though internationally it secured releases and made it's way to home video. Although the film is nowhere near the quality and spectacle of the newer Captain America films with Chris Evans, this 1990 version carries with it heavy doses of patriotism and has a president who would rather give his life for his country than to be used for Red Skulls plan. There's just something about Captain America saving the life of the President that makes it totally fit into this theme regardless of quality. The third movie of the lineup is one of the defining films of John Carpenters career titled Escape From New York starring Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasance and Isaac Hayes. The plot for the film places the timeline in 1997 where New York has become a maximum security prison. The presidents plane Air Force One has been hijacked and crashes in New York but not before the president escapes in a pod. The president gets captured by the gang running New York led by a leader named Duke. Not knowing that the president has a tape on him that could bring about nuclear war, it is up to a captured bank robber and ex soldier named Snake Plisskan to be sent into New York to rescue the President within 22 hours or both Snake and the rest of the world will face Judgment Day. Escape From New York plays off great imagination and remains one of the great B movies John Carpenter made back in his 1980s hot streak. The fourth movie of the marathon is 2013's Olympus Has Fallen starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, and Aaron Eckhart in the title roles. The film centers around a secret service agent who was removed from his position for failing to rescue the first lady from a tragic accident. When the White House becomes under siege, it's up to Butler's character to save him from Korean terrorists. Olympus is the film that takes the marathon in a more serious direction and pushes the patriotism into hyperdrive. It's successor White House Down starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and James Woods uses the exact same plot except takes it in a slightly different direction. Besides Jamie Foxx playing a president inspired by the nations first black president named Barack Obama, the film focuses on a Capitol policeman and his daughter visiting the White House during a tour. When the White House gets taken by a group of paramilitary leaders, the Capitol policeman played by Channing Tatum springs into action to protect both the president and his daughter while fighting off the invaders. White House Down takes a more serious and realistic approach to the theme of the presidents house being under siege than Olympus Has Fallen, with more twists and turns coming in terms of who is good and whose on the villains side. Unfortunately the film didn't achieve the same kind of box office success that Olympus Has Fallen achieved but remains just as entertaining as Olympus with more believable villains. The sixth and final movie of the evening is the one that brings it all home, and is perhaps the best film of the entire lot. Wolfgang Peterson's Air Force One starring Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Wendy Crewson, and Glenn Close centers around the hijacking of the plane that transports the President from one location to another. When  group of Russian terrorists seize control of the plane in hopes of forcing the president to release a general under custody, the president played by Harrison Ford goes into hiding as his family is captured and fights to save everyone on the plane. Nominated for two academy awards including Best Film Editing and Best Sound, Air Force One has become an action movie classic thanks to the dynamic performances of the two leads such as Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman. It's the ultimate twist in the marathon whereas the president doesn't need someone to save him but he ends up saving everyone else including his family. You'll never forget the words "Get Off My Plane."
So what is this marathon trying to say when you look at all the films and the ending of Air Force One. This marathon basically says that just because you don't agree with a presidents political views, they deserve to be respected and protected. A president can represent more than just a leader in office but a symbol of hope for the free world and a force that can inspire change within the world. Anti heroes such as Snake Plisskan can become heroes by the end of their journeys and redeem themselves from past sins. Great secret service agents such as Gerard Butler in Olympus as Fallen deserve a second chance to prove themselves, and capitol police officers such as Channing Tatum are worthy of becoming secret service agents. Saving the life of the president and protecting him regardless of how they are as people can represent the ultimate form of patriotism.
Our characters for this evening:





Monday, July 27, 2015

When Technology Becomes It's Own Pinocchio

Tonight's marathon centers around the theme of modern and futuristic technology such as Artificial Intelligence suddenly becoming self aware and transforming into it's own version of Pinocchio. The Pinocchio syndrome is essentially a nonhuman having emotions and desires of wanting to be human and living a life as one when in reality they aren't viewed as such by society. The parallels to the actual storyline of Pinocchio are grounded in science fiction with technology becoming more advanced with each movie, but the desire of wanting to be human and loved grows stronger with each movie. It is a visually stimulating and powerful marathon that has main themes pertaining to love, acceptance, advancement in technology, and asking questions such as what is human? For tonight's extremely moving and ultimately touching marathon, we have on the following menu:

Pinocchio 1940, Edward Scissorshands 1990,  Chappie 2015, Robocop 2014,AI: Artificial Intelligence 2001, and Bicentennial Man 1999

This is not just an entertaining and dramatic marathon, it's a journey. For every single film in this lineup, the audience goes on an emotional journey with each of these characters as they go from being non-human to gaining an ounce of humanity and dreams of becoming real people which suddenly becomes a reality. The theme of acceptance is universal for so many people in the world but for this marathon specifically, it is shown through the advancement of technology. The technology to create a Pinocchio gets far greater with each film but also the desire of wanting to be viewed as a person. Pinocchio is a powerful story of a puppet boy who has dreams and wishes of becoming a real boy by the end of his journey. He goes on a trip with his conscience whose a cricket to make that dream a reality. His creator Geppetto acts as the father figure towards Pinocchio and cares enough about him to go searching for Pinnochio when he disappears. For every Pinocchio movie after the first film that parallels it, there is a Geppetto who looks after and cares for each creation as they look past the puppetry and technology to see a person underneath it all. Pinocchio was a film that was generally considered a technological breakthrough and perfection for Disney upon it's release in 1940. The film gained unanimous critical acclaim but struggled at the box office, ultimately becoming a hit after several reissues over the span of decades accumulating a domestic gross of 84 million on a 2 million budget. When you think about it and look at the box office figures for each of these films, none of them were really box office success upon their immediate releases in theaters. It is through years of replay value that many of these movies became cult classics through nostalgia. The second movie of the marathon is Tim Burton's critically acclaimed cult classic Edward Scissorshands. Nominated for an Oscar for best makeup, Edward Scissorshands focuses on a young and gentle robot man played by Johnny Depp, who wasn't fully completed by his master before he died and ends up with giant scissors for hands. On his own journey towards becoming a person with emotional feelings, he falls in love with a beautiful young girl played by Winona Ryder. Johnny Depp received a well deserved golden globe nomination for his powerful performance as the artificial and more adult version of Pinocchio. Edward Scissorshands is generally considered one of Tim Burtons finest films. The third movie of the lineup is Chappie starring Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman and Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel. The story centers in a futuristic world where crime is patrolled by the mechanized police force. One of the police droids named Chappie ends up becoming stolen and is given new programming, making him the first robot to have the ability to show emotion and think for himself. Chappie is a glowing parallel to Pinocchio with technology taking a serious jump yet the emotions of the machines are getting stronger. Chappie's creator Deon serves as his own Geppetto and someone who genuinely cares about his well being. The next film in the lineup serves as a perfect parallel to Chappie and Pinocchio with the 2014 remake titled Robocop. Based on the same storyline as the 1987 classic, Robocop takes place in the year 2028 in Detroit where a great husband, father and cop named Alex Murphy becomes critically injured in a car explosion. In order to save his life, the Corporation that controls the police named OCP which stands for Omni Consumer Products, seizes the opportunity to create a part-man, part-machine police officer. The storyline of Robocop puts a spin on the Pinocchio story arc with a man being transformed into a machine that can be controlled, yet still has memories and emotions that make him remember his human life. His dream and desire is to be a husband to his wife again and a son to his father. In other words, he wants his humanity back and the only person who can help him achieve that goal is his own Geppetto, Dr. Dennet Norton played by Gary Oldman. The remake of Robocop did not receive the critical acclaim that it's predecessor thrived on but is overall considered a better than expected reboot and has stronger similarities towards the Pinocchio theme. The fifth movie of the night is the criminally underappreciated Steven Spielberg drama titled AI: Artifiical Intelligence. Nominated for two academy awards including best music and visual effects, the story centers around a young robotic boy played by Haley Joel Osment, who dreams of becoming a real boy in order to regain the love of his human mother who set him free after an accident involving the robot and her real son. Frances O Connor, Jude Law, and William Hurt lead a strong supporting cast with Hurt providing the Geppetto of this story and Francis O Connor setting the boy David loose instead of searching for him like Geppetto did in the original story. AI: Artificial Intelligence is considered one of the biggest box office disappointments in movie history and has sparked debate over the years on why the film did poorly with American audiences. Perhaps the answer could attribute to it being released way before it's time similar to the theatrical release of Blade Runner. The final movie of the evening brings everything full circle with the Pinocchio of this story going on a 200 year journey towards finally becoming a man. The film like AI: Artificial Intelligence was not a box office success upon it's initial release but has garnered favorable reviews as time passed. Bicentennial Man starring Robin Williams, Embeth Davitz, Oliver Platt, and Sam Neil centers around a family android who possesses unique learning abilities, and slowly becomes a member of the family with the help of his own Geppetto played by Sam Neil. Once he gains his freedom to do whatever he wishes, he sets out on a journey towards becoming human as he quickly obtains human emotions as time goes on. He not only learns about what it truly means to be human but he also learns to love a woman and what it means to care about someone. He completes his journey towards becoming human by being declared a human by society and being granted marriage to his soul mate Portia Charney but not before they both pass away together once the announcement is made. Bicentennial Man stands as one of the defining films of Robin Williams career and one of the greatest parallels of the Pinocchio story ever put on film.

So what is the message behind this marathon when you place all the films together in one lineup? The message says that you should not judge someone because they are different and non humans can obtain feelings of emotion and desire to be one with the human race if they truly wish for it. A man like Andrew Martin from Bicentennial Man can become a human without actually being one because of his compassion for society and understanding of how human nature works. A robot young boy like David can learn what it's truly like to be a human boy and want the desire of his mommy like that of a regular child. David should not be disregarded because he's not flesh and blood.

Our characters for this evening: