Tag Archive | "Catfish"

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Rhino and Catfish Review The Stooges and The Raid

Posted on 18 April 2012 by Reel Rhino

Usually, I would subjugate the Catfish to the second review, keeping top billing as the Blog is my namesake.  But this guy has been riding my ass all day….I’m checking the site….I’m checking the site!  CATFISH, you get the first run review today, my friend!!  Without further delay, the Catfish reviews…

THE THREE STOOGES
The Three Stooges movie trailer was enough to get my eight year old daughter and five year old son to quickly commit, but my ten year old daughter held fast in her refusal. I not only had a nostalgic desire to see the film, but I had just acquired two scapegoats to deflect blame in the event the movie was atrocious. There are undoubtedly fringe benefits for having common interests with your five and eight year old kids.

Let’s just cut to the chase. The Three Stooges were never known as a mature ensemble trying to convey subtle dry humor. They perfected the art of slapstick, which as entertainment is timeless (but I guess that is debatable…just ask my wife).

The question now becomes: what is the expectation level of such a remake. If your pretentiousness only allows you to see Oscar nominated films then I wouldn’t recommend this one. By the way, that was not why my ten year old daughter refused to go. She just thought it didn’t look good. You know “good” like iCarly, Jessie, and Good Luck Charlie. If, instead, you want to be entertained by idiots being idiotic then have at it. I really wanted to see how well the Stooges were portrayed and I was amazed at what a good job they all did (Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Will Sasso). Sasso gets extra kudos for his spot on depiction of Curly. That is not to take away from the other two who were great as well, as the integrity of the characters remained intact. We the traditionalists take pleasure in that.

I tried to stay tuned in to my kids during this movie. My five year old son was cracking up. I didn’t see much reaction from my eight year old daughter even though she claims to have liked the movie. I was doing my share of laughing too. Granted, it’s a limited sample size, but I came to a definitive conclusion based on our individual experiences. This type of humor is right in a five year old boy’s wheelhouse and will appeal to adult men of any age who have the maturity level and sense of humor of a five year old.

Amen, brother. Now you know who I am!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy this mindless humor as an innocent boy anymore, but it didn’t make it any less entertaining. I realized I was watching through the eyes of what has become a neurotic, worrisome man who isn’t what he once was (**ReelRhino note: he ain’t kiddin’!). Every time I saw a chainsaw or sledgehammer taken to Curly’s head I was worried the moviemakers were going to be sued by some idiot kids who would try to mimic what they saw on the screen (funny, not worried about the idiot kids; worried about the lawsuit). In my head I found myself working out my fatherly post-movie speech on the subject of reality. Like an answer to a prayer, immediately after the movie ended two studly dudes faux posing as the Farrelly Brothers gave a safety disclaimer. Let me clarify. The answer to the prayer was the disclaimer itself, not the studly guys. They explained how the props were rubber and how it is never a good idea to poke anyone in the eye. Disaster averted; no obligatory lecture needed. Thanks, Farrelly Brothers, for cleaning up the loose ends even if it was most likely done at the insistence of your attorneys.

If you understand what you’re getting into then I think you can enjoy the stooges for what they were and always will be…no more, no less. Just don’t ask the question, “Where’s Shemp?”

3 out of 5 Whiskers ~~~  Catfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks Catfish, although you didn’t touch on it, my real question is how does this fit in with the up and down career of The Farrelly Brothers.  They have fallen from their 90’s pedestal, but I think they still have the touch, but it is very hit and miss!

I gave HALL PASS a 3 out of 5 Horn rating last year, and on a second viewing, I actually enjoyed it a great deal more, even perhaps as high as a 4 of 5!

THE RAID: REDEMPTION
This movie was off the hizzy fo shizzy.  That is one of the highest compliments I can pay a flick.  This film was written and directed by Gareth Edwards and it was shot for a ridiculously reasonable $1.1 million in Indonesia.  This film looks like a $30 or $40 million Hollywood flick, rather than the low budget indie that it is!

The story is simple: a police SWA T team is sent into a high rise building owned and run from top to bottom by the big crime boss in the Jakarta slums.  Things go fairly smoothly, until they don’t and that’s when things get re-donk.

This movie is about 70-30…70% crazy balls-to-the-wall action scenes consisting of some gun fights, but  more prominently, hand-to-hand martial arts combat. These fights are crazy and there are some kill moves reminiscent of Mortal Kombat, but done in the real world.  The speed and choreography is brilliant and again, Edwards is unreal in his shot selection and it all comes together in a tightly woven sequence of battles and fights, with sparse dramatic scenes interwoven, that for the type of movie are quite acceptable.

This is a film that has been extremely hyped from a critical perspective.  It is subtitled, which will turn some off, and most likely they can wait until it is re-released in the US after being remade here (which is unnecessary!).

I had a great time watching this movie and I fully recommend seeing it in the theater, rather than waiting for the home viewing, and even more so watching it on a mobile device or a computer.

4.5 of 5 Horns for The Raid: Redemption….go ahead and take a try, it’s an otherwise weak weekend ahead.

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

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Footloose and Paranormal Activity 3

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Reel Rhino

FOOTLOOSE (2011)
I am a slacker.

What I should have done is to have watched the original Kevin Bacon classic, a childhood favorite of mine, before having watched this film.

The truth…well the truth is I never planned on watching this remake, mostly because the trailer gave me more a vibe of Step Up, rather than Footloose.

I was wrong. Footloose (2011) was a sweet film, with a decent emotional core, that had some really enjoyable action set pieces. Now read that correctly, please…an action scene in Footloose, for me, is a well choreographed dance number, and of this, there were several.

What you may not know is that I am a sucker for a good choreographed dance number. That is one of the reasons I love Glee, but with Glee, they have been mostly devoid of fun songs this season and things have been a little too much show-tuney.  A good dance scene can nearly bring me to tears…okay, it does bring me to tears…

I never intended to see Footloose. I actually meant to go see The Three Musketeers 3-D, given the 3-D trailer for Attack of the Clones preceded it. You would think after 1050 movies at the theater, that I could read the times correctly, but I’m a rhino, not an elephant…rhinos can be forgetful!

So Footloose it was and I am better for it. The film is really a standard fish out of water story, combined with a standard stranger in a strange town, outsider story…set to music.

The original Footloose was a film I saw in the theater, and much like Ghostbusters inspired my friends and I to hunt the spirits roaming our neighborhood…Footloose inspired us to dance. We had roots in the breakdancing years, so making the jump to more contemporary moves shouldn’t have been a problem…within a few days, we were back to headspins and backspins. You should have seen us after Karate Kid, now that was a show.  All three; Footloose, Ghostbusters, and Karate Kid all came out in 1984.  I was 8….it was a big summer.  You should have seen the bunch of us after 1985’s The Goonies…adventure was afoot plenty that summer.

The acting performances were passable. Unknown actor Kenny Wormland plays Ren, just moved to Bomont, TX from Boston following the death of his mother. Ren isn’t really a troublemaker, but in a town where dancing is illegal, any non-Bomontian would seem like a rabble-rouser.  Wormland would be just any up and comer to me, except when checking his bio, I see that he played an unknown dancer in Kevin Smith’s Clerks II.  That knocks him up a notch in my book.

We learn early on that five students were killed in a car wreck three years prior to the timeline of this movie. This event led to the institution of a curfew, and among other laws, the banning of public dancing by the town’s youth and any playing of “disrespectful” music.

The love interest is Ariel (Julianne Hough) and the best friend role of Willard is played by Miles Teller. Ariel’s brother was one of the kids killed in the wreck. Her father, the town Reverend, was played quite stoically by Dennis Quaid.

As an aside, I thought that Hough and Teller were the spitting image of both Jennifer Aniston and Shia LeBouf.  Also as an aside, Hough is listed as an uncredited extra from Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone.

Zac Efron was originally slated to play the role of Ren. I am glad he did not, as his presence may have been a little distracting. Wormland was better than passable in his performance, but I mean c’mon, he’s no Kevin Bacon…but few are.

There are a few recognizable faces in the rest of the cast, including Andie MacDowell, Ray McKinnon, and Kim Dickens.

This film has your standard love triangle and several montages, perfectly lifted from the 1980’s blueprint for this type of film.  The music was good, but not as memorable as the original, but in a turn of homage, all of the best songs from the 80’s classic, were organically integrated into this film. That was a surprising and very welcomed aspect of the film.

An enjoyable film, I give Footloose 4 of 5 horns.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3
Given this film had a Tomatometer score hovering around 80%, I entered the theater with high expectations.

I think I like this movie more in hindsight, much more than in the first few minutes after walking out of theater. But don’t put too much stock in that, as I have decided to upgrade PA 3 to a 2.5 from a 2.

This is a barely passable offering as a horror movie.  There were some good jump scares, but for 88 minutes running time, it seemed to take way to long to get into the meat and potatoes of the mythology.  Everything were simple scares until the last few minutes of the films.  And what you learn in those last few minutes, seem highly unlikely give you know exactly the fate of these two young ladies.

That’s right, if you didn’t know it, this film it a prequel.  It covers a period of time in the young lives of Katie and Kristi Rey, the two fated heroines of the first two flicks.

Paranormal Activity, the original, was shot and produced for $15,000.  It made $107 million domestically. That’s a profit many would kill for…it didn’t hurt that the film was viewed by Steven Spielberg, who championed its theater release.  With Pappa Steve guiding the ship, he suggested a change to the ending, and it was so.  Given the $15,000 independent spirit of the original, although I didn’t love it, I respected the hell out of it.  Much the same is my opinion of the first Saw film and the sequels that followed.  Much like Saw, it seems as though the more of these are made, the crazier things will get.  Not good crazy, though.  (see also; Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, etc……)

An interesting aside is that the directors for this film were none other than Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the directors of the 2010 documentary hit, Catfish.  Catfish was one of my favorites of last year and I stand by you should watch it, just don’t check out anything about the movie before you see it.  The description by the critics of the film’s Hitchcockian feel was accurate.

But the past is the past, and what have you done for me lately?

Jost and Schulman were logical selection as the lead male in PA 3 was as much obsessed with filming their day to day lives as the pair was filming Nev Schulman in his romantic endeavors as was pursued by his Facebook girlfriend.

Paranormal Activity 3 is a lackluster film that is good for jump scares only.  If you haven’t seen the first two, it won’t matter.  It will help give some context, but not much.

I am told they are planning a total of five movies, and for now, they are left with a tough choice…do they stick with the found footage approach, or do they flip over to studio films.  It didn’t work for Blair Witch…the original Blair Witch is a cult classic…yes, it only holds up for one viewing, but it is effective.  Blair Witch: Book of Shadows was an atrocity.  It’s a tough choice, but to make these worth watching, it may take more than adding a tradition shoot to pull it off.

As an aside, as a Maryland Terrapin, the first time I saw Blair Witch on an unmarked VHS tape making the bootleg rounds around campus, long before the first ad for it hit newsstands or theater previews.  It was scary as hell, and for all we could have known, it may have been real.  That’s one helluva way to watch a flick.

I don’t think Paranormal Activity will be able to turn it around…but you know that I’ll be there to figure it out.

2.5 of 5 horns.  Mediocre at best.

Until later, take care.
Reel Rhino

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Warrior – One helluva film!

Posted on 12 September 2011 by Reel Rhino

While the tag team is more commonly associated with the WWE than MMA, the Catfish is working the corner with the Reel Rhino and the outcome is victory.  I love having the Cat swing by, he is the poet laureate of the Reel Rhino site and I appreciate it, no matter how much I bust his balls outside the posts, he sure can write.

Warrior.

As a former D-1 athlete, the word always carries some resonance with me.  I have known some true warriors.  I feel as though I may have made some warrior-like moves in my day, but my flashes of brilliance were fleeting and I was fortunate enough to play besides some of the greatest athletes of the 1990’s.

I am a Maryland Terrapin…oh, how the floodgates of hatred may open now that I have shown my colors, but I am proud of my roots.  I played football in the mid-90’s and had the good fortune to run along side the likes of Jermaine Lewis, Lamont Jordan, Eric Barton, Eric Hicks, John Feugill, and Kris Jenkins.

We must protect this house?  Yep, I had the honor of running with Under Armour founder and all around nice guy, Kevin Plank.

I married my college sweetheart, who when the timing is right, will remind that she is owner of three national championship rings, that help her win just about any argument…well she really doesn’t need the rings, but they do help add the exclamation point.

Joe Smith and Steve Francis ran the hardwood under the tutelage of the great Gary Williams in my years with the Terps.

I made many great friends and relish those days with a great warmth in that remembrance.  I know many great warriors.

My brother is a US Marine.  I once said that he was a Marine, and I was quickly corrected that once a Marine, always a Marine.  I can’t deny that the error was mine.  I’d be lying if I said that my past, my pride for my brother, the urge to leave the theater and sign up for some rec league hoops…all of this, made this week’s review strike an exceptionally deep nerve in me when watching.

Warrior.

I make a bold statement in this: Warrior has earned itself a place in my all-time top 10 films.

I loved this movie.  I loved it.

I was reduced to tears on several occasions and I had truly visceral reactions to this film.

I agreed with the guy sitting two rows behind me when he leaped to his feet in one of the culminating moments of this film.

I felt the pain of the woman who was sobbing on her companions arm, notably moved, as I walked out of the theater.

I felt the moments of this movie like sledgehammers banging gongs inches from my head.

The only thing I don’t understand, is how the take for this flick was only 5.2 million, coming in a paltry 3rd place this weekend.

My plea is this…see this movie.  It is an emotional roller coast that works on every level.

Yes, I have a history that leaves me exceptionally susceptible to the sports flick genre.  But I think the messages in this film transcend a love of competition.

The running time is long at 2 hrs 20 mins, but the additional time building this world makes every moment in the back half all the more powerful.

Maybe this film needed bigger stars to succeed, but the truth is, for the lesser known folks in this movie, this will be a star making turn.  Nick Nolte was the biggest name, but Tom Hardy is a stone cold beast.  I enjoyed him in Inception, last year’s Reel Rhino #1 flick of the year, and I am looking forward to Hardy as the Bat-breaking Bane in next year’s Batman-trilogy finale.

This is an entirely 5 of 5 Horn movie for me, and I hope it will be for you, as well.

Gavin O’Connor has woven together a masterpiece, serving as both writer and director.  He gave us magic in 2004 with Miracle and in truth, he may have been born to deliver us inspiration sports stories.  For my money, he is two for two.

Enough drivel from a sentimental softee like me…what does the Catfish say?

(SPOILER ALERT: Granted, the trailer gave away some of the key issues that in the film, don’t arise until the end of the movie, the Cat got spoiler-rific in his review.  If you want to go in cold, save the back half of this post for after your viewing of the film).

I am admittedly a fan of combat sports.  I was exposed to boxing predominately on ESPN as a youngster.  Things began evolving and I found myself not only rooting for favorite boxers my dad and grandfather liked, but kickboxing began getting more attention.  Kansas City native Bob Thunder Thurman took kickboxing to another level, which caught my attention and fed my imagination.

I participated in Tae Kwon Do as a pre-teen.  I was pretty good at it as I recall.  I’m not sure why I stopped taking it, but I think it just got to be a bit too expensive for Mom and Dad.  In 1999, the empire crumbled all at once for me.  My friends and I split up the cost of the Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis heavyweight unification pay-per-view fight.  I was rooting for Evander, but even to a biased observer it was painfully obvious Evander was outmatched that night.  There was not a knockout or fight stoppage.  The decision went to the judges.  The fight was ridiculously determined to be a draw.  I had heard all the talk of corruption in boxing, but I had never personally experienced anything quite like this travesty.  That evening I vowed never to spend another dime on a boxing pay-per-view.  As a matter of fact, to this day I have not watched as much as a single round of a boxing match.

A wee bit behind the UFC curve due to the persistent sour taste in my mouth, I began taking in my first real experience with MMA (mixed martial arts).  I really liked what I was seeing, but I proceeded with caution.  As far as I knew every combat outfit was corrupt.  I recall watching the Rich Franklin and Ken Shamrock fight in 2005.  Ken Shamrock was destroyed in short order, but I was a bit hesitant to believe this fight wasn’t rigged.  Shamrock had slipped at one point, but he never even attempted to stand back up.  That was the beginning of the end for him as Franklin obliterated him on the ground.  It seemed I had been duped again.  I wanted to get to the bottom of this fiasco.

I talked to a guy who really wasn’t well versed in the UFC, but he planted the idea that some guys would rather fight on the ground.  I began doing my research.  I went backwards and began renting the old UFC videos.  Fighters using different styles of martial arts were competing in this sport, but at least in the early days, ground fighting was the Achilles heel of most competitors.  Royce Gracie, the undersized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artists, took down men twice his size by fighting on the ground and submitting them with joint locks and choke holds.  He revolutionized the fight game.  This was the great awakening I needed to get me back as a fan of combat sports.

When I first saw the advertisements for Warrior I had lukewarm interest at best.  There are just too many B rated fighting movies starring actual MMA fighters that are absolutely painful to watch.  It wasn’t until I watched the trailer for this movie that I had a bit more intrigue.  Sometimes it takes a slap in the face to realize the difference between a big budget production and the B rated turds I was accustomed to.  Since watching Inception I have been willing to give any actor in that movie the benefit of the doubt (unadulterated blind bias on my part).  Since Tom Hardy plays a starring role in Warrior I felt obligated to give the film a chance.

The big test was convincing my wife to agree to go with me.  Our 11th anniversary was Friday 09/09/11, but we spent the evening at the school Fun Fair.  With a bit of coaxing I convinced my mom to babysit Saturday so we could celebrate a day late and a few dollars short from the fair.  Dinner and a movie is the standard fare.  Agreeing on a movie, however, is something different altogether.  She mentioned Contagion, but I had zero desire to see that.  I am a fan of Robin Cook who happened to write a book called Contagion.  Reel Rhino informed me this movie was unrelated to his book.  For whatever reason that turned me off.

If you have ever read this blog then you know Reel Rhino likes just about every movie made (no exaggeration).  I convinced my wife to watch the Warrior trailer.  The storyline in those few minutes turned her in my direction.  She warmed up to it and begrudgingly agreed to see the film.  At dinner as I perused some Facebook posts.  Unknowingly, Reel Rhino with an uncharacteristically negative review of the movie Contagion made our movie-going decision final as my wife completely capitulated.  We were going to see Warrior.

Warrior had it’s share of fighting, but make no mistake, it was story driven.  It was a layering of the consequential separate lives of a dysfunctional family spawned by an alcoholic father.  The characters are sympathetic and their background stories were riveting, grabbing your attention and holding you through the end.  Yes, there is nothing new under the sun, but I was quite intrigued as their individual stories unfolded throughout the movie on paths that would all eventually intersect.  Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) is a former fighter who is now a likable high school physics teacher trying to raise a family and keep his head above water.  Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) is a former high school wrestler and Iraq war veteran heading down the same unfortunate road his father, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), paved for him.  He is a brooding man with so much pent up anger that is boils over anytime he’s put remotely close to conflict.  As patriarch of the family, Paddy Conlon finally has finally come to grips with his demons and actually has remorse for the damage he caused in his family’s life.

Brendan and Tommy’s resentment for their father shaped their lives.  Brendan always wanted to where Tommy was in Paddy’s eyes, but never thought he could live up to that standard.  When their mother and Paddy split up Tommy stuck to the plan and left town with his mother while Brendan stayed behind because he had found the love of his life, his eventual wife, Tess Conlon (Jennifer Morrison).  You know me, having a beautiful actress to watch throughout a movie gets high points in my book.  She gets mighty high points.   Tommy resents his brother for staying behind.  He and Brendan resent their father for being a drunk.  Tommy is awash in self loathing as he returned from the war as the only surviving member of a squadron that was killed by friendly fire.  Brendan wants a relationship with his brother again.  These side stories collide in an MMA gran prix event called Sparta.  It’s a single elimination tournament with a $5 million dollar purse for the winner.  This is the incentive Brendan needs to keep his home out of foreclosure.  This is the incentive Tommy needs to aid the family of a fallen soldier he promised to support.  This movie takes you on an emotional ride as you are pulled into rooting for both brothers as they fight for their respective causes.  As the brothers clash in an unlikely finals match-up the tension is at its height.

It is undeniably an unforgettable and exciting finish.  When the rubber hits the road this film is about human emotions, not really about fighting.  It illustrates the importance of a child’s environment.  Children are a blank slate who are formed and shaped by their experiences.  You take two sons who have similar experiences.  One lives with rage and resentment and the other tries to live his life exactly opposite of how he was raised.  All any child wants is their mother and father to love and respect each other and give them the attention and love all children deserve and need.  Oh, and when humans act like the flawed beings we are then forgiveness is the only way we get back on the path of healing. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.  A casual moviegoer would be grabbed by the storyline.  I think even fight fans will buy into most of the fighting scenes.  I doubt a referee would allow someone to fight on with an obvious shoulder injury that prevents him from using his entire arm, but guys fight on with broken arms and hands as long as the referee is unaware.

Although the final lines of the climax were a bit cheesy, it was touching nonetheless.  Don’t forget to enjoy the bit of comic relief from Principal Zito (Kevin Dunn) who perfected this acting niche in the Transformers films.

4.5 out of 5 Catfish Whiskers

Until next time, take care…
Reel Rhino

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Cowboys and Aliens

Posted on 31 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

Howdy folks!  Glad I can check in again so soon…maybe it’s the manly man in me, not wanting the Winnie the Pooh post to sit on the home page for too long…or maybe it’s the old softy in me, bringing it up again so soon.  That was a damn fine flick and whether for the entertainment of your kiddies or your own trip down memory lane…check it out!

What’s opening this weekend?  It’s a doozy of a wide-release weekend, with three biggies..

Cowboys and Aliens; The Smurfs; and Crazy, Stupid, Love.  I plan on hitting another post in the next day or so with a review of Crazy, Stupid, Love and Friends With Benefits.  Stay tuned for that…

…for now, for the sake of the Reel Rhino loyal, I braved an early departure from work to catch the latest from Jon Favreau, Cowboys and Aliens.

I know that as of this moment, C&A is sitting at a sub-par 44% at Rotten Tomatoes.  Let me tell you, that 44% is bunk.

This movie, bringing together Indiana Jones and James Bond, delivers on every level!  It is a unique adventure that successfully mixes the western and sci-fi genres in a way that perhaps only Favreau could pull off.  This is the man who humanized Iron Man…a property that in its first run, was adored by the masses, regardless of one’s preference for comic book fare.

Cowboys and Aliens tells the tale of a washed up gold mining town in the New Mexico Territory, whose sole successful businessman is the life blood of the town, but also a ruthless son-of-a-B.  That meanie is played by iconic Harrison Ford and goes by the name of Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde.  While he is seemingly ruthless, his son is a flat out ass, Percy Dolarhyde, played masterfully by the very talented Paul Dano.  PS…Harrison Ford is pure gold.  I’d watch him read the classifieds.  He channels a bit of Indy’s flair for adventure and a bit of Hans mean bastard with a heart of gold.  It is a memorable character for his resume, without question.

Enter our hero…we meet him left for dead in the desert, some bizarre bracelet on his wrist, his memory gone.  While he sits there and ponders his fate, three men on horseback approach.  We learn quite quickly how dangerous this memory-striped stranger may be.  The three men, as a sidenote, are portrayed by Buck, Matthew, and Taylor Cooper playing Wes, Luke, and Mose Claiborne…the Coopers, with patriarch Buck who is an old old school western character actor and his sons, two of the most talented stuntmen in Hollywood.  Favreau set out to authenticate this film as a Western first by including this trio, and it worked.

The stranger, Jake Lonergan, is an Americanized Daniel Craig who sports an accent that successfully sheds his British roots, but who keeps all the best aspects of his badass James Bond.

Lonergan makes waves quickly putting Percy, the town bully, square in his place.  Percy ends up in the clink for accidentally shooting a Deputy, and Lonergan ends up in there with him, once the Sheriff recognizes him from a wanted poster hanging at his office.  The problem for Lonergan, he has no idea what he is wanted for, as his memory of anything except the ability to kick ass, is gone.

Papa Dolarhyde comes to town to free his son and to take possession of Lonergan, who apparently among his past indiscretions, has wronged Dolarhyde in the form of robbing his stage coach of a load of gold.

All of this unfolds in the first 10 minutes, so worry not about this ruining your experience.  It is about at this point, that things take a turn for the weird.  A battery of alien aircraft approach the town and attack, killing some, taking others as prisoners.  It is also about this time that we learn more about that bracelet that old Lonergan is wearing (see also, the trailer for this flick).

Many citizens go missing and we are faced with the first challenge of the film.  Can Col. Dolarhyde work with Lonergan, putting their differences aside to save the townsfolk, and maybe find out something about what happened to him to cause his memory loss?

I will end my plot synopsis here, other than mentioning that the romantic interest in this film is wonderfully portrayed by Olivia Wilde…she is very much making a name for herself…Tron: Legacy, this, and the upcoming In Time, a sharp looking sci-fi flick that has a great premise.  And she is in talks to portray Linda Lovelace, in a biopic on the woman who would star in Deep Throat.  Wilde has piercing eyes, and so does Craig, for that matter.  When these two talk, its hard not to fall in love with the pair.  On the extreme close-ups, it almost feels like they are peering into your soul.

Favreau successfully sets this up as a Westerm, then integrates aspects of an alien invasion flick in a manner that seems believable and seemless.  We would be far more understanding of a real alien invasion these days, but in Western times, it is foreign beyond all understanding.

This film integrates Civil War time battle techniques, the tough life that existed in a true era of Cowboys and Indians, and the struggles that existed in frontier mining towns.  Supplement all of this with a great supporting cast with Keith Carradine, Sam Rockwell, and Clancy Brown and you have a real winner.

Favreau has honed his chops in CGI fare in the best set of films of the moment, laying a great foundation for The Avengers.  His work on Iron Man put him in a great place to film these daylight action scenes and let me tell you, these sequences are excellent.

I have heard the argument that the tone of this film shifts to wildly.  Yes, there are ups and downs, but that is what you get in a well-told story.  Ups and downs.  Maybe the problem is that we aren’t accustomed to successful high-concept, genre delivery.  Favreau delivers.

And much like I applauded the originality of Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch, I think that the originality of this high concept film is worthy of note.  The film is an adaptation of a graphic novel created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley and was very much championed by Favreau from the get-go.

The screenplay was written by a casserole of talent in Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby.  Lindehof has some lineage in fantasy fair, having worked as a showrunner on Lost for sometime, and Kurtzman and Orci have given us a healthy dose of fantasy in the last few years, having created Fringe, whittled their teeth on Lost, and given us work in both the Transformers and Star Trek worlds.  With this kind of crew behind this film, I am not surprised I liked it so much.

For a fun day at the cinema, this may be the film for you…4 of 5 Horns from The Reel Rhino.

So what does Catfish, newly minted guest of The Reel Rhino, say about C&A?  Let’s see…

Admittedly I had genuine reservations about seeing Cowboys & Aliens.  This was truly a gamble.  This movie seemed to have the potential to entertain, but it had at least an equal opportunity of getting the Catfish “Chuck Barris gong”.  The intrigue, however, was enough to get me to the theater.

Daniel Craig was the main attraction in this movie.  I really like this guy in character.  He first caught my attention as the 007 of little words in Casino Royale.  Some say it’s blasphemy, but he quickly became my favorite James Bond.  He was cast perfectly for this role as alien fighting cowboy, Jake Lonergan.  He has an aura that does most of his speaking as his lines were just as scarce in this film as they were in his role as 007.  To his credit, I thought he pulled off an American accent quite well.  Then again, he didn’t have that many opportunities to butcher it.

The movie begins with Jake Lonergan waking up in the desert with basically no memory, a wound on his side, and an odd piece of metal on his wrist.  As things progress we see Jake piecing the puzzle together with the aid of the comely Ella Swenson played by real life hottie, Olivia Wilde.  We find that aliens have invaded Earth.  They plunder a valuable natural resource and steal humans for their devious studies.  Human enemies unite to fight a common foe – the aliens hell bent on conquering Earth.

For the most part I enjoyed this movie.  I liked Daniel Craig’s screen presence.  Colonel Dolarhyde (don’t call him Colonel) played by Harrison Ford was a good addition to the story.  The aliens were believable.  Noah Ringer’s role as of young Emmett Taggart wasn’t God-awful like his role as the Last Airbender last year.  Maybe with age and experience one’s acting skills improve.  There were, however, too many hackneyed scenes and story lines for my liking.  It was a bit convenient that multiple deaths were preceded by those final words of wisdom just before expiring in another’s supportive arms.  The tough S.O.B. is really a man with a heart of gold.  If this were a spoof I would have found those things amusing, but unless I missed something I don’t believe this was meant as a comedic piece.  Ella’s true nature didn’t sit well with me either, but then again, this was a movie about cowboys and aliens.

This film does have action and a storyline that should keep you interested.  The novelty alone is reason enough to roll the dice for a couple of hours of fun entertainment.

3 out of 5 Catfish Whiskers

Two comments, Catfish…

1)      Do you really need to prove you’re a super duper hetero male by talking about how hot each of the lead chickies are in these flicks we enjoy, and

2)      Do you really blame Noah Ringer for the God awful performance in The Last Airbender?  As a noted M. Night Shyamalan apologist, I put the blame for that trainwreck solely on his shoulders.

Oh, by the way, Olivia Wilde is smokin’ hot!  But Danial Craig is also one handsome chap…see Catfish, I can write for the ladies and the fellas…watch and learn, son…watch and learn.

Until later, happy movie going to all, and to all a good night…

Reel Rhino

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Preview Review: Captain America; Must See: BUCK

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

I stand here tonight for two reasons:

1)    To share with you my take on an amazing documentary that I had the chance to see this week, and,

2)    To introduce you to Catfish, a guest making his first appearances on the Reel Rhino column.

Catfish is currently the object of my utmost jealousy…he is here is give us his take on CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.  Yep, he caught the KC Star Wednesday night sneak preview.  Catfish, you rascal, you had the chance to take Reel Rhino, but nooooooo…you had to take your wife!  Thanks for nothin’, punk!  Kidding of course, at least you were gracious enough to give me some content.

BUCK – 5 of 5 Horns

A short, but very sweet, documentary by Cindy Meehl, introduces us to Buck Brannaman.  Who, you may ask, is Buck Brannaman?  He is the real life Horse Whisperer and every minute of this film is compelling.

In 1998, Robert Redford called on Buck as a technical advisor on his film, The Horse Whisperer.  Redford, who appears throughout the current doc at hand, talks endearingly on the effect Buck had on the ultimate tone of his film.  Buck became more of an inspiration, than an advisor.

Buck’s involvement in The Horse Whisperer is only a fraction of this film, and the majority looks at Buck’s life on the road, holding training sessions for those interested in becoming “horsemen,” or as we know them, cowboys and cowgirls.

The film looks at Buck’s early years, which were clearly formative on his philosophies on life.  He spent his early years as a trick roper in a show overseen by his father and performed with his brother.

Buck is a master at a technique known as “natural horsemanship,” and to see him in action is nothing short of breathtaking.  Buck is funny, sweet, and when necessary, firm, in his demeanor and teaching methods.  He always sets out to teach folks about their lives with their horses…he normally ends up teaching them about themselves.

See this movie…it is short and every minute leaves a mark.  Buck is touching, sweet, entertaining, and for a layperson like me in a field like cowboying, educational.

Buck’s lessons are as much about learning about yourself, as they are about learning your horse.  This is a must see and I give it a 5 horn, Reel Rhino salute.

I am not a horseman, not by a long shot…but given the chance, I will go see Buck in action.  This film is 100% an example of the power of film.

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And now for his moment in the sun, I give you CATFISH.  Presented here, formatted to fit your screen, with limited commercial interruptions.  Catfish, you better not let me down!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER – 4 of 5 Horns (so says the Catfish)

I recently discovered the wonderful world of the pre-release movie screening lottery, so to speak.  It only took me 40 years to find this unburied treasure, but at least I didn’t go to my grave without experiencing early arrivals, long lines, rabid fans, and uncomfortable heat (and odors) given off by all the bodies stuffed in narrow lines hoping for a seat in the theater (first come first serve as overbooking ensures a full house…right) just for a free sneak peak at a major motion picture.

Now each time I see a chance to win advanced screening passes I enter my name, cross my fingers, and pray much like I did when I unsuccessfully tried to win the full size Pac Man video game from MTV, circa 1983.  I’m pretty sure it was rigged because I even put my own money in the church donation basket (ah, the naivety of a 12 year old).  To date, I’m batting .500 with screening passes with my only true disappointment being a Thor swing and a miss.

I was on vacation and had since accepted that I whiffed on another chance to see a movie I had been looking forward to when the e-mail arrived with the magic message that I had been selected to attend the advanced screening of Captain America: The First Avenger.  Superheroes have a special place in my heart.  I loved reading comic books when I was a kid.  I looked forward to our trips to Wal-Mart so I could pick out a fresh new comic book that can only be described as my childhood eye candy.  Comic books were an integral part of my childhood, which I can equate with happiness and contentment (all that changes when we grow up; that’s why most of us men never want to grow up and therefore never do).

Movie night, July 20th, finally arrived.  The line at the theater was long even though my wife and I showed up an hour early. I did hope and trust there would be room for us.  We did indeed get seats, and I wasn’t about to move because seats were more valuable than gold to this crowd.  Both of us were stuffed from our four course meal that we ate just prior to arriving at the theater.  I was satisfied on two counts.  First, my wife was quite pleased with her dinner (the cliché holds true: happy wife, happy life).  Secondly, having full bellies meant she wouldn’t be asking for overpriced garbage food at the concession stand, which would require me to leave my coveted seat.  We were seated for about five minutes when my wife expressed her growing itch for popcorn and a Diet Coke.  I suppose you know that I (not she) ended up waiting in line and purchasing popcorn and a Diet Coke (happy wife, happy life).

After all the hoopla in the theatre ended and my wife’s request fulfilled, I was ready for this baby to start.  A bonus in this whole affair was the fact the screening was in 3D.  As the initial Paramount credit screen flashed I knew something was awry.  I rhetorically asked my wife if the theater knew this was supposed to be 3D.  The movie began and the green and pink muddled picture elicited a head shake from me and my wife’s inquisitions as to why she couldn’t see anything.  The yells from the theater grew to a near chant of “fix the movie”.  The best line I heard was, “So this is the free version?”  Like clockwork I began questioning why God hated me so much.  Thankfully on this night He granted me mercy.  They fixed the movie within a few minutes and we were off and running.

First, I would not spend extra money to watch it in 3D.  There simply was very little in the movie that was enhanced by 3D technology.  I was concerned if Captain America could be translated from comics to the big screen and not come off as absolutely ridiculous.  Well, they did a great job with this movie.  I do, however, find it ironic that Captain America, who was created during wartime as an iconic patriotic hero who inspired national pride, was finally brought to the big screen in 2011 while we’re at the height of political correctness.  This is the same 2011 where the title of this very movie had to be modified for overseas release to “The First Avenger”, dropping “Captain America” from the title.  No more preaching.

Captain America was entertaining.  The casting was excellent (men who admire beautiful women will not be let down by Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter…smoking hot).   Tommy Lee Jones nearly stole the show with his performance.  The well placed humor worked amazingly well.  Stan Lee’s obligatory cameo was spot on with his one liner straight out of Roadhouse.  They even poked fun at the comic book-esque Captain America costume.  He got a bit of a makeover to make his character a bit more believable.

The movie was very much story driven as opposed to mindless action.  It was about hope, honor, integrity, heart, loyalty, persistence, perseverance, love, patriotism, leadership, and the eventual triumph of good over evil.  Bringing you back to WWII and watching the story unfold reminds us of the historical significance of that wartime era.  I’m not even going to mention that taboo concept of American exceptionalism.  Watch this movie and ask yourself if Steve Rogers resides in you.  Don’t be like one moviegoer who said it was the stupidest effing movie she’d ever seen.  For the love of God, let yourself be inspired.

When this movie ended my wife said this was her favorite superhero movie of the season.  She said, “The message was so good” (happy wife, happy life).  I hit a gold mine.  Dinner was good, movie was good, and that always bodes well for me at home.

4 out of 5 Fish Whiskers

Catfish

(Reel Rhino note…first off, great review Catfish.  Secondly, there are only three countries dropping the title Captain America…Russia, Ukraine, and South Korea.  No surprise there, and I do give Marvel studios credit, from a business perspective.  Their goal is to sell tickets.  Giving countries the option, will help them put more foreign butts in the seats.  Also, China only shows 20 non-Chinese films a year…Cap didn’t make the cut, and I don’t think we can hold that against them.  It is regardless in China, anyone will likely be able to pick up the bootleg on the streets for a few bucks, in a few days.)

I’ll be back soon with my own two cents on the film, and perhaps Friends with Benefits as well, aka NO STRINGS ATTACHED 2.  And I am thinking double feature Sunday: Conan O’Brian Can’t Stop and Trollhunter, if I’m lucky.

Until later, take care!

Reel Rhino

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