tommy lee jones

Brew & View: Up In Flames

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Where there is smoke there is fire- I think that’s how the saying goes, unless of course you’re partaking in an alcoholic beverage. Smoked beers aren’t always my cup of tea, but every now and again I come across one that gives me hope for the next. There is also a first time for everything and a smoked IPA is indeed a first for me. Golden Road’s Burning Bush IPA indeed indicates that it is a smoked India Pale Ale, but for a smoked beer, I don’t quite get much of a smokey character out of it. With a name like Burning Bush though, how can I resist the urge to to a Brew & View with it.

Does anyone even remember FIRESTORM? Aside from the Seinfeld episode when the title is brought up several times- I don’t even recall if that is in reference to the actual film. Besides the fact that my memory isn’t what it used to be I actually remember getting a little bit of a kick out of FIRESTORM when it first came out. It sure isn’t going to redefine anyone’s faith in cinema, but what modern action films really do these days…or back in the late 90’s for that matter. (more…)

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Movie Review: Men In Black 3 (2012)

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I could have easily written off the MEN IN BLACK series after the second film. Even the first has lost its luster in terms of how much I remembered liking it when it first came out, but the second film is one I’ve seen in its entirety, however in more than a dozen sittings where I watched a few scenes at a time. I love sci fi movies and I love the premise of the MEN IN BLACK series, but there is something about them that just doesn’t allow them to age well after my initial viewing of them. That being said MEN IN BLACK 3 is the far superior sequel that at least stands up against the original- rather or not it stands the test of time is another story.

Jay (Will Smith) and Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) return once again as an extremely dangerous alien escapes from MIB’s secret moon prison and finds a way to go back in time to exact revenge on Kay by killing him. In the Kay-less future Jay tracks down the source of the change and also returns back in time to set things right.

The best part of this sequel is that while the effects are still pretty cartoonish and probably won’t age well they are still way better than the effects in MEN IN BLACK 2 and the humor this time around is much more present than its predecessor. For me, the second film was annoyingly entranced with its own quirkiness especially the inclusion of Johnny Knoxville’s character and the third film does ad a quirky side character, Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), but this time around it’s much funnier and more interesting.

Smith’s sassy jokes and overall presence are also heightened even if I feel like it is about time for the character- or series in general- to be hung up while on what I perceive to be its high point. I was happy also to see Jones take more of a backseat this time around in favor of Brolin’s impeccable Tommy Lee Jones impersonation. Stuhlbarg is easily my favorite new addition to the film even though he is very underutilized, while Jemaine Clement’s character, Boris The Animal quickly got on my nerves although I was a fan of the alien’s design and physical presence.

Aside from some pretty good jokes here and there, some fun CGI effects and the attempt to deepen the overall journey of Jay and Kay in these films I found my overall interest in the film drifting during quite a few stretches of the film. The action in every film has never been stellar and MEN IN BLACK 3 is no exception. It does earn some extra points for differentiating itself from its predecessors by adding that extra bit of story toward then end and with the entire time travel stuff.

MEN IN BLACK 3 is not an attempt to reinvent the wheel, even in terms of MEN IN BLACK movies which is both good and bad for the overall experience. Good in the sheer fact that by not going completely off the rails it is accessible for a wide audience and different enough to draw some people who may have given up back into it. Bad because while it is fun for at least one watch and then there’s never anything spectacular to return and watch it again. In the end it is worth a rental to see Josh Brolin impersonating Tommy Lee Jones and for a lot of the fun jokes that are to be had along the way.

Rating: B-

Movie Review: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Uncle Sam wants YOU- that is unless you are a short thin 90 pound wimp with asthma and many other debilitating medical problems. If that sounds like you then you’re in luck, because Stanley Tucci has concocted a super serum that will turn you into Chris Evans. There are little to no terrible side effects to the serum because you’re super strong, smart and handsome. However, here’s the bad news…you have super fast metabolism and self healing capabilities which means…you can’t get drunk. Thems the breaks.

Chris Evans of course stars as the world first super defender, CAPTAIN AMERICA, but before he was the Cap he was the puny weakling army reject, Steve Rogers. Rogers is rejected every time he tries to enlist in the military, until Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) sees Rogers spirit and commitment to serving and enlists him for the purpose of turning him into a super soldier with a serum he has helped develop. The serum also worked on the evil Johann Schmidt/Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), but it magnified his evil tendencies. Schmidt is hell bent on controlling the world and it is up to Rogers and a handful of soldiers to stop him before Schmidt unleashes his plan on the world.

CAPTAIN AMERICA works on a very stripped down and basic level. The flashy bombastic colors and explosions of Marvel films like IRON MAN, THOR and THE INCREDIBLE HULK are not the front and center here. Joe Johnston just focused on the heart and soul of a man completed dedicated to doing his part and willing to risk everything for his country and ran with it. The action is there and it’s not too shabby, but it’s not the bread and butter of CAPTAIN AMERICA. The focus is the origins of a plain red blooded American displaying nothing but heart and bravery.

Chris Evans is great as Steve Rogers and of course as the hero Captain America. Evans has a clear sense of humility, bravery and even innocence. What I really love about the character is that because he so grounded and down to Earth he’s not cocky and full of himself. In his eyes everyone is equal and just wants to give justice to anyone especially those who bully others around. His main target, Johann Schmidt played by Hugo Weaving is a very formidable foe. Weaving’s German accent is actually quite chilling and fitting for the part, even when he sheds his skin to reveal himself as Red Skull. The makeup effects for Red Skull are great as well, but soiled a bit when there’s an abundance of CGI on screen, mostly because the CGI is one of the weaker elements of the film.

Since CAPTAIN AMERICA is yet another vehicle to connect to the AVENGERS movie, Nick Fury shows up during the film as well as during the end credit sequence before the teaser for AVENGERS played. Also connecting it to the universe is a young Howard Stark providing all the cool technology for the military as well as Captain’s costume and shield.

The film runs just over two hours so there’s bound to be some lags in the action. The majority of it lies in the scenes immediately following Roger’s transition from the 90 pound weakling to the buff and powerful Captain America. Rogers is a very genuine and likable character, if you don’t like him then something is wrong. He’s a dedicated, loyal and humble man that is grateful for his new power so that he feels like he can make a difference. Evans has always been able to play a jerk or overly cocky hero as in the FANTASTIC FOUR movies, but watching him play the nice guy was definitely a treat.

The majority of the special effects are very clunky. There are moments where they fit in seamlessly, but other times the effects look extremely dated and fake. Aside from the effects the only other gripe I have is some of the cheesy moments that are not a major problem because they fit in with the tone of the film. The tone is all about fun; Johnston tried nothing more than to tell the origin straight forward without pulling any twists or tricks.

Once the flames have settled and the dust blows away CAPTAIN AMERICA stands as one of Marvel’s best films to date. The final product is nowhere near as polished and flashy as other Marvel hero movies, but the story and characters are some of the best they have to offer. Strong performances from Weaving and Evans are the anchor with great supporting roles surrounding them. For a film depicting Nazi’s and war CAPTAIN AMERICA maintains the ability to still be fun for the whole family despite moments of violence. There’s enough winking at the camera and even a little bit of romance amongst the fighting that everyone will find something to like. If you find yourself tired revisiting Hogwarts, giant fighting robots, bad bosses and Kevin James then some good old fashioned patriotism is the cure.