NMJ #25: John Wick

MV5BMTU2NjA1ODgzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTM2MTI4MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Title: John Wick

Year Released/Rating: 2014 R

Starring: Keanu Reeves; Michael Nyqvist; Alfie Allen

Directed By: Chad Stahelski; David Leitch

Written By: Derek Kolstad

Genre: Action

Star Rating:  5/5 stars

Where I Got It: Server

Trivia:

  • According to Keanu Reeves, he did 90% of his own stunts in the film.
  • The security guard who waves Wick onto the airport runway is reading “Shibumi” by Trevanian, a 1970s thriller, also about a retired master assassin dragged back into the game. The story Viggo tells about how Wick killed three men “with a pencil” might also be a reference to Shibumi, whose hero kills with everyday objects.
  • Keanu’s fifth time playing a role named John.
  • The tattoo on John Wick’ s back translates to “Fortune helps him who is strong.”

Summary: An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

Review: This has been on my radar for awhile now… so glad we downloaded it. What a great action revenge flick. The action sequences were amazing: choreographed perfectly, shot great. No shaky cam here. John Wick was a great character. Loved him! And all the supporting players were fun especially Perkins. Definite must see for action fans.

Best Bits: 

  • Viggo Tarasov: I heard you struck my son today. Aureilo: Yes, sir, I did. Viggo Tarasov: May I ask why? Aureilo: Well, sir, he stole John Wick’s car and, uh, killed his dog. Viggo Tarasov: [pause] Oh.
  • Viggo Tarasov: In a bar, I once saw him kill three men… with a pencil.
  • Viggo Tarasov: They know you’re coming. John Wick: Of course… But it won’t matter.
  • Francis: Are you here on business, sir? John Wick: Afraid so, Francis. [pause] Why don’t you take the night off? Francis: Thank you, sir.

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NMJ #14: The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug

MV5BMzU0NDY0NDEzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTIxNDU1MDE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Title: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Year Released/Rating: 2013 PG-13

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage

Directed By: Peter Jackson

Written By: J.R.R. Tolkien, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro

Genre: Fantasy, Action

Star Rating:  5/5 stars

Where I Got It: Server

Trivia:

  • The insult Thorin screams in Dwarvish at Thranduil in Khuzdul basically translates as “I dump my feces on your head.”
  • The only time Legolas blinks is when he realizes he has been wounded. This is in keeping with the character, as the only time Legolas blinks in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is when he is strongly surprised.
  • Orlando Bloom is two years older than Lee Pace who plays his father, King Thranduil.
  • Thranduil’s sudden scars reflect a little-emphasized facet of J.R.R. Tolkien’s lore: elves’ “Fëa” (a metaphysical concept analogous translatable as “soul”) occasionally influences the “Hröa” (the fleshly, physical body), particularly under moments of extreme stress. This can manifest as extreme physical changes that reflect the mind’s state, in this case deep war scars.
  • Bilbo steals the keys to the prison from an Elf addressed as Elros. Elros is also the name of Elrond’s brother. The two brothers had both human and Elvish ancestry on both their mother’s and father’s side, and as such were perfectly half-Elf and half-Man. While Elrond chose to be an immortal Elf, Elros chose to become a mortal man. He thus became the progenitor of the Numenorian race, and an ancestor of Aragorn.
  • A pair of Megaloceros giganteus (Irish elk) antlers flanks the Elf king’s throne.
  • This film is features the first occurrence of seeing the character Legolas bleed on screen.
Summary: The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.
Review: Yes I realize that I am super behind in watching this one. I finally got around to it. And boy was it good. I really love the interaction between Bilbo and Smaug. The last 30 minutes is really the best part of the film. I can’t wait to see how it ends.

Best Bits: 

  • Legolas: [Looking at two pictures in a locket that he has confiscated from Gloin. The picture on the left has a long thick beard] Who is this? Your brother? Gloin: That is my wife! Legolas: [Looking at the infant in the other picture] And who is this horrid creature? A goblin mutant? Gloin: That is my wee lad, Gimli!
  • Kili: Aren’t you going to search me? I could have anything down my trousers. Tauriel: Or nothing.
  • [Smaug is smothered with a deluge of molten gold]mSmaug: [rises up] Revenge? REVENGE? I will show you revenge! [takes flight towards Lake Town] I am fire! I am… death!
  • [observes a carving of the ArkenstoneBilbo Baggins: What’s that? Balin: That is the Arkenstone. Bilbo Baggins: And what is it? Thorin Oakenshield: That, Master Burglar, is why you are here.

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NMJ #12-13: Cat 8

MV5BMTk4Mjg2NDg0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzQ2NTEwMDE@._V1_SX214_AL_Title: Cat 8

Year Released/Rating: 2013

Starring: Matthew Modine, Maxim Roy, Ted Whittall

Directed By: Kevin Fair

Written By: Donald Martin

Genre: Action

Star Rating:  3/5 stars

Where I Got It: Netflix

Summary: A research program abandoned by the best solar physicist when the Pentagon wanted to put it to military use has been resumed by his former deputy. Her incompetence and the Defense secretary’s haste cause it to be tested too soon, stirring unprecedented solar flares, ultimately a plasma causing disasters on all continents. Only the genius can think of a way out, only to be victimized by the secretary, who needs to cover up. Even when it turns out the earth’s core has stopped spinning, spelling an unimaginable seismic apocalypse, the genius must still evade special forces to stay free and save the world again.

Review: Interesting idea, but not great tv movie at all.  But I do love my disaster porn. So I guess it was a good two afternoons watching…

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NMJ #11: I, Frankenstein

MV5BMjM3Mzk2MDU3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzg1NTI4MDE@._V1_SX214_AL_Title: I, Frankenstein

Year Released/Rating: 2014 PG-13

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Miranda Otto

Directed By: Stuart Beattie

Written By: Stuart Beattie, Kevin Grevioux

Genre: Action, Fantasy

Star Rating:  2/5 stars

Where I Got It: Netflix

Trivia:

  • This film acknowledges Frankenstein’s Monster as “Adam” making it one of the very few screen adaptations to call him this name.
  • There are three instances of “Adam” in the novel, all by the creation, all in third-party reference: “Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel…” (Chapter 10) “Like Adam, I was apparently united by no link to any other being in existence…” (Chapter 15) “I remembered Adam’s supplication to his Creator. But where was mine?” (Chapter 15)

Summary: Frankenstein’s creature finds himself caught in an all-out, centuries old war between two immortal clans.

Review: This popped up on Netflix. I thought it might be fun to watch while sorting craft supplies. I was wrong. This was bad. Confusing plot, cardboard characters, and ridiculous action. Even Bill Nighy couldn’t save this one…
Best Bits: 
  • Adam: I am like no other.

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NMJ #8: Guardians of the Galaxy

MV5BMTAwMjU5OTgxNjZeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDUxNDYxODEx._V1_SX214_AL_Title: Guardians of the Galaxy

Year Released/Rating: 2014 PG-13

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper

Directed By: James Gunn

Written By: James Gunn. Nicole Perlman

Genre: Scifi Action

Star Rating:  5/5 stars

Where I Got It: Amazon rental

Trivia:

  • When Dave Bautista found out he got the role of Drax the Destroyer, he broke down in tears, overjoyed at getting a Marvel comic-book role. He immediately signed up for extra acting classes in order to prepare for the role
  • Zoe Saldana nearly broke Chris Pratt’s ribs while filming a fight sequence. During training, Pratt and Saldana would wear protective gear so that they could actually hit each other. However, when the day came to film the actual scene, Pratt forgot to wear his protective gear and did not tell Saldana because he thought she would hold back if she knew. Saldana (under the impression that he was wearing the gear like he usually did) kicked him square in the ribs, which made Pratt fall to the ground. According to him, he had a bruise for the remainder of filming.
  • According to James Gunn, Star-Lord’s obscene gesture was an improvisation by Chris Pratt.
  • Benicio Del Toro’s uncredited cameo as The Collector in “Thor: The Dark World (2013)” was written to set the stage for the film. Benicio Del Toro described the Collector as “Liberace in outer space.”
  • Stan Lee’s cameo was originally going to feature him as one of the Collector’s boxed trophies, giving Groot the middle finger. Disney executives didn’t like this and had James Gunn change it to Stan Lee being an alien Casanova.
  • Josh Brolin is uncredited and in fact was the last person cast. He was offered the role while filming Everest (2015). He based the characterization of Thanos primarily on Marlon Brando’s role of Kurtz in Apocalypse Now (1979).
  • James Gunn’s brother Sean Gunn was an acting double for Rocket Raccoon during filming.
  • The Collector’s residence is riddled with various species: a Chitari and Dark Elf (from previous Marvel space films) can be seen, a cocoon holding Adam Warlock, a cosmic being who became a member of the Guardians (the cocoon is seen empty in the post-credits scene), a dog in an astronaut in a CCCP’s uniform (former USSR) who snarls at Rocket. This is Cosmo, a Russian dog who became a member of the Guardians (and is constantly on bad terms with Rocket), Howard the Duck makes an appearance in a case, and slime creatures from James Gunn’s previous film Slither (2006).

Summary: A group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of the universe.

Review: Finally! Mom, the twins, and I finally sat down and watched this. I’m so glad I finally saw it. This was a great movie. Full of action, comedy, and great characters. I loved the subtle references to the other Marvel movies and characters. But the references weren’t essential to understanding the film. Thank goodness! Starlord was amazing, but my favorite character by far was Rocket. My favorite scene was when he was drunk at the bar. That scene showed so much vulnerability and humanity from a CGI character. So great. I can’t wait to see the second one.

Best Bits: 

  • Groot: I am Groot. Peter Quill: Well that’s just as fascinating as the first 89 times. What is wrong with Giving Tree here? Rocket Raccoon: Well he don’t know talkin’ good like me and you, so his vocabulistics is limited to “I” and “am” and “Groot,” exclusively in that order. Peter Quill: Well I tell you what, that’s gonna wear real thin, real fast, bud.
  • Korath the Pursuer: Star-Lord! Peter Quill: Finally!
  • Drax the Destroyer: I can barely see. [Groot releases glowing spores from his body to light up the way aheadDrax the Destroyer: Where did you learn to do that? Peter Quill: I’m pretty sure the answer is: “I am Groot”.
  • Rocket Raccoon: [about Drax] Metaphors go over his head. Drax the Destroyer: NOTHING goes over my head!… My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.
  • Rocket Raccoon: That’s for if things get really hardcore. Or if you wanna blow up moons. Gamora: No one’s blowing up moons. Rocket Raccoon: You just wanna suck the joy out of everything.
  • Gamora: And Quill… Your ship is filthy. Peter Quill: She has no idea. If I had a blacklight, this place would look like a Jackson Pollock painting
  • [Quill has just retrieved the prosthetic leg Rocket asked for in order to break out of prisonRocket Raccoon: You actually got it? I was just kidding about the leg, I just thought it’d be funny!

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IMDB #4: Pirates of the Caribbean

piratesTitle: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Year Released/Rating: 2003 PG-13

Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush

Directed By: Gore Verbinski

Written By: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert

Genre: Action Adventure

Star Rating: 4/5 stars

Where I Got It: We own it

Trivia:

  • Johnny Depp wore contact lenses which served as sunglasses so he wouldn’t be squinting in the sun all the time.
  • The scene where Orlando Bloom impersonates Johnny Depp‘s performance was devised by Bloom who asked producer Jerry Bruckheimer if he could put it into the movie.
  • When returning from a night shoot on one of the Caribbean islands, Keira Knightley‘s boat struck a reef and went down. The only people aboard were Knightley, her mother Sharman Macdonald and the boat’s skipper, all of whom escaped unharmed and were rescued within a few hours. However, the incident ultimately determined that the rest of the island night shoots needed would complete filming in a studio, rather than on location.
  • The East India Company (the real-life counterpart of the film franchise’s East India Trading Company) really did brand pirates with a “P” but it was put on their forehead instead of their arm.
  • The “Fort” in Port Royal is actually not on St. Vincent’s, but at a closed down amusement park (Marineland) in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
  • The name “Barbossa” might have been derived from the real Turkish pirate “Barbarossa”. Barbarossa, also known as “Redbeard”, was once a pirate in the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas before he became a fleet admiral of the Ottoman Empire navy.

Summary: Blacksmith Will Turner teams up with eccentric pirate “Captain” Jack Sparrow to save his love, the governor’s daughter, from Jack’s former pirate allies, who are now undead.

Review: A fun movie, but just don’t think about it too much.  The best part of the movie is definitely Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa.  He is such a hoot.  Love him!  The rest of the cast is ho-hum in comparison.  It’s still a fun movie to watch for a night in.

Best Bits: 

  • Jack Sparrow: Me? I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly… stupid.
  • Norrington: No additional shot nor powder, a compass that doesn’t point north, [looks at Jack’s sword] and I half expected it to be made of wood. You are without doubt the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of.  Jack Sparrow: But you have heard of me.
  • Will Turner: This is either madness… or brilliance.  Jack Sparrow: It’s remarkable how often those two traits coincide.
  • Elizabeth: Captain Barbossa , I am here to negotiate the cessation of hostilities against Port Royal .  Barbossa: There are a lot of long words in there, Miss; we’re naught but humble pirates. What is it that you want?  Elizabeth: I want you to leave and never come back.  Barbossa: I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request. Means “no”.
  • Jack Sparrow: Parleley, parlelellyleloooo, par le nee, partner, par… snip, parsley…  Ragetti: Parley?  Jack Sparrow: That’s the one. Parley. Parley.  Pintel: Parley? Damn to the depths whatever man what thought of “Parley”.  Jack Sparrow: That would be the French.

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IMDB #3: Raiders of the Lost Ark

raidersTitle: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Year Released/Rating: 1981 PG

Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman

Directed By: Steven Spielberg

Written By: Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas, Philip Kaufman

Genre: Action Adventure

Star Rating: 5/5 stars

Where I Got It: We own it!

Trivia:

  • The original name of the lead character in the script was Indiana Smith. His name was changed to Jones on the first day of production.
  • In the submarine pen, the German who comes upon Indiana says, in German, “Good day” “Tired? Why do you sleep? Wash yourself! And straighten your shirt, so that you don’t look like a pig at your court martial…” “Stand up… [straight]” He is cut off by Indiana’s punch.
  • Although the Nazis speak German in many scenes, most of the lines were dubbed for the German versions of the film because the actors spoke very bad German with a very strong American accent. Some lines were simply wrong. On the recent DVD release, no German lines are wrong. The majority of the German lines seems to be spoken by native German speakers with a slight south German accent.
  • In filming the Well of Souls sequence, the producers scoured every pet shop in London and the South of England for every snake they could lay their hands on. Hence there are snakes that are identifiable from many different geographical areas. However, once all the snakes were on set, it became clear that there were not nearly enough of them, so Steven Spielberg had several hoses cut into lengths, and these were used as well. Looking closely, you can tell which are the real snakes and which are not. A sheet of glass separates Harrison Fordand the arched (and highly dangerous) cobra when he falls in. The snake actually did spray venom onto the glass.
  • The submarine pen on the island where the Ark is taken and finally opened is not a set, but in fact an actual German U-Boat pen left over from World War II in La Rochelle, France. Producer Robert Watts was amazed at how preserved the submarine pen was (even down to the graffiti on the walls) that he described it as “a actual set in existence”.
  • Body Count: 67 (including the monkey).

Summary: Archeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.

Review: One of my all time favorite movies.  How can you not love Indiana Jones?  This is just a fun action adventure movie.  We introduce the twins to it last year and they loved it.  A must see for everyone.

Best Bits: 

  • Belloq: What a fitting end to your life’s pursuits. You’re about to become a permanent addition to this archaeological find. Who knows? In a thousand years, even you may be worth something.  Indiana: Ha ha ha ha. [under his breath]  Indiana: Son of a bitch.
  • Sallah: Indy, there is something that troubles me.  Indiana: What is it?  Sallah: The Ark. If it is there, at Tanis, then it is something that man was not meant to disturb. Death has always surrounded it. It is not of this earth.
  • Indiana: Do we need the monkey?  Marion: I’m surprised at you. Talking that way about our baby. He’s got your looks, too.  Indiana: And your brains.
  • [Upon opening the Well of the Souls and peering down]  Sallah: Indy, why does the floor move?  Indiana: Give me your torch.  [Indy takes the torch and drops it in]  Indiana: Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?  Sallah: Asps… very dangerous. You go first.
  • Indiana: Meet me at Omar’s. Be ready for me. I’m going after that truck.  Sallah: How?  Indiana: I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go!

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Total Eclipse by Rachel Caine

Title: Total Eclipse (Weather Wardens #9)

Author: Rachel Caine

Publisher: Roc 2010

Genre: Paranormal

Pages: 305

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Seriously Series; Mount TBR; Fall into Reading;

How I Got It: I own it

Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin, her husband, the djinn David, and the Earth herself have been poisoned by a substance that destroys the magic that keeps the world alive. The poison is destabilizing the entire balance of power, bestowing magic upon those who have never had it, and removing it form those who need it. It’s just a matter of time before the delicate balance of nature explodes into chaos-and doom.

Holy crap!  What a way to end the series!  I sped through this volume on the edge of my seat.  I couldn’t wait to see how Joanne got herself of the end-of-the-world situation she got herself into.  The volume did not disappoint.  Like most of of the books in the series, this one hits the ground running.  The action starts right away and never stops.  I loved that!  We get a whirlwind of activity and yet we still connect to the characters.  I loved seeing some of the side characters reappear, but glad that Caine focused on our main group.  I was even satisfied with the ending and epilogue.  Usually I hate epilogues, but this one was nice.  Overall, I really liked this series.  The middle books meander a bit from the main story arc, but everything gets back on track for a couple of explosive books at the end.

Weather Warden:

  1. Ill Wind
  2. Heat Stroke
  3. Chill Factor
  4. Windfall
  5. Fire Storm
  6. Thin Air
  7. Gale Force
  8. Cape Storm
  9. Total Eclipse

fall into readingSeriouslySeries02Mount TBR

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Cape Storm by Rachel Caine

Title: Cape Storm (Weather Wardens #8)

Author: Rachel Caine

Publisher: Roc 2009

Genre: Paranormal

Pages: 308

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Mount TBR; Seriously Series; Fall into Reading

How I Got It: I own it

Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin and her new husband, the Djinn David, are running from a malevolent hurricane bent on destroying her. Joined by an army of fellow Wardens and Djinn onboard a hijacked luxury liner, Joanne has lured the storm into furious pursuit. But even their combined magic may not be enough to stop it-nor the power-mad ex-Weather Warden controlling it…

After the whirlwind that was Gale Force, I liked the slightly slower pace of this volume.  I liked getting back to being focused on the main characters of the series.  Instead of attempting to update everyone, we get more Joanne, David, and Lewis.  I really really love Lewis in this volume.  He has taken complete responsibility for the Wardens and for the Earth itself.  I also love the villain in this volume, very over the top and slightly cartoonish, but in a good way.  And I was very excited about where the whole series is going.  I’m very excited to read the last volume in the Weather Wardens series.

Weather Warden:

  1. Ill Wind
  2. Heat Stroke
  3. Chill Factor
  4. Windfall
  5. Fire Storm
  6. Thin Air
  7. Gale Force
  8. Cape Storm
  9. Total Eclipse

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MoM #29: Shaolin Soccer

shaolinTitle: Shaolin Soccer

Year Released/Rating: 2001 PG-13

Starring: Stephen Chow, Wei Zhao, Yat-fei Wong

Directed By: Stephen Chow

Written By: Stephen Chow, Kan-Cheung Tsang, Min Hun Fung, Chi Keung Fung, Wei Lu

Where I Got It: Netflix

Genre: Action, Comedy

Star Rating:  3/5 stars

Trivia:

  • This was the most successful Hong Kong-made movie ever in Hong Kong, making HK$60 million (about US$4.7 million) at the local box office.
  • Banned in mainland China because it did not await certification before being released in Hong Kong.
  • Stephen Chow dubs his own voice for the American release.
  • Mui is the only character who can speak Mandarin.

Summary: A young Shaolin follower reunites with his discouraged brothers to form a soccer team using their martial art skills to their advantage.

Review: J had been harping on me to to watch this one for awhile now.  It was ridiculously silly in parts.  I can’t believe that I actually watched it.  Pretty silly… But there were a few actions scenes that were good.  I’ll give it that.
Best Bits: 
  • Sing: What are you going you look like ET?  Mui: Trust me, I can do it.
  • Sing: I’m not here to fight, I’m here to play soccer!
  • [talking to a TV camera] Sing: I want to say hello to my parents and my Kung Fu master, but they’re all dead.

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