Movie Truth

Draft Day Movie

Anyone who follows sports knows that being a fan of the Cleveland Browns can be a heartbreaking endeavor. Of all the teams in the NFL, the Browns seem to pull the short straw the most. They have never been to the Super Bowl, let alone won the big game. (Of course, any good Browns fan will tell you that they won plenty of national championships in the 50s and 60s before the creation of the Super Bowl, but that only makes it sting a little less.) Sure, three other teams share this distinction with the Cleveland Browns, but two of them were recent expansion teams (the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans). The other is the Detroit Lions, and that city gets more bad press than Cleveland. (Sorry, Detroit.) Having a go at Cleveland teams and their often unfortunate records has become a bit of a tradition in Hollywood. Back in 1989, the film Major League poked some fun at the then-terrible Cleveland Indians, seeing the team fictionally win the pennant. Now, cinema history seems to be repeating itself with the film Draft Day, in which Kevin Costner plays the general manager who tries to wheel and deal a winning team during the NFL draft. Though it may be a bit more Moneyball than Major League for football, Draft Day is striking a chord with Cleveland fans. As one die-hard Browns fan said to me at my press screening for the film, “Yeah, it’s fictional, but this may be the […]

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Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avengers

If Superman is the boy scout of DC Comics, then his goody-two-shoes counterpart in the Marvel universe is Captain America. Fitting in nicely with the squeaky clean stereotype of the soldier who fights for truth, justice and the American way, Steve Rogers exemplifies all of the ideals of the classic American hero. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke. He doesn’t womanize. He fiercely believes in just one God, even though he happens to personally know two other gods from Norse mythology, and he has rippling abs and bulging biceps. However, this clean cut image is not all a conscious decision. In the film Captain America: The First Avenger, he explains that he doesn’t drink only because he is being a good guy. Instead, he doesn’t drink because his body metabolism is so efficient in processing toxins that alcohol basically has no effect on him. And that got me thinking… super soldier or not, this would suck for Steve Rogers at your average Fourth of July picnic. Could Captain America ever get drunk?

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Mystique in X-Men First Class

From the Troma library of films like The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke ‘Em High to the higher concept blockbuster science fiction movies like Total Recall and Godzilla, mutants have been almost entirely bad news. While some movies have an occasional mutant that puts it in a class of it’s own – like the character of the Rainmaker in Looper – Hollywood generally considers mutations really problematic. Except the X-Men, of course. In the X-Men universe, mutants are the not-so-meek that will inherit the Earth. Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) in X-Men tries to legally oppress them. Professor Charles Xavier provides a sanctuary for young mutants. There are constant battles brewing throughout these films between good mutants and bad ones. However, one thing remains the same in all of these scenarios: mutants have great powers bestowed upon them. As Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) states at the beginning of the first film: “Mutation. It is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow and normally taking thousands and thousands of years, but every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward.” And that got me thinking… is the human race on the brink of astounding genetic changes? Are X-Men types of mutation the next step in human evolution?

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Warwick Davis in Leprechaun Movie 1993

We all know that “Based on a true story” is simply a suggestion in Hollywood, otherwise, we’d believe Jack and Rose rode the Titanic, Maximus Decimus Meridius defeated Commodus in the coliseum, and the Charles Xavier and his mutants stopped the Cuban Missile Crisis from erupting into war. Amid all the green beer drinking and corn beef noshing, a St. Patrick’s Day tradition for me is watching the 1993 classic Leprechaun starring Warwick Davis. Prior to this film, leprechauns had almost solely been represented in popular culture by jolly yet mischievous creatures helping Darby O’Gill or protecting his Lucky Charms. Now they had a murderously irritated representative. However, as enjoyable as the cheesy horror classic of Leprechaun is, the movie always gets me thinking: How accurate is Warwick Davis’ leprechaun?

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Dumbo

Typical of early Disney animation, Dumbo isn’t a finely crafted story but rather a film that examines greater ideas in a touching emotional context. It also features a scene in which a mouse and an elephant get blind drunk, hallucinate, and end up waking up in the cartoon ghetto with a hangover. What’s not to love about that? However, all racist crows and animal alcoholism aside, Dumbo is an inspiring film about a biological misfit who uses his disadvantage to become a hero. Born (or rather delivered by the lazy stork) with comically large ears, Jumbo Jr. is shunned by most of the elephants in the circus. However, after getting some confidence care of a magical feather, he discovers he can use those massive ears to fly. As much as I love this movie and recognize the image of a flying elephant as an indelible icon of Disney animation, this got me thinking: Could Dumbo really fly with ears like that?

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backtothefuture_movieswelove

Time travel stories are one of the most polarizing things for film fans. They either love them, or they turn their noses up at them. Still, that doesn’t stop writers from coming up with them, and it’s not even for the science fiction fields. Time travel stories have an unexpectedly strong placement in romance fiction as well, such as The Time Traveler’s Wife or the upcoming Starz series Outlander, based on Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling historical romance series. While many of these romance-driven stories – like Somewhere in Time and more recently Richard Curtis’s About Time – are not concerned with the greater implications of meddling with the space-time continuum, the science fiction movies are. Traveling through time has been a central figure in stories for years, often presenting the viewer with a crash course in theoretical physics and opening themselves up to plot holes almost impossible to close. As a personal fan of the time traveling story, I love to see what the writers will come up with next. But these movies always get me wondering… is it possible to travel through time the way people do in the movies?

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Watchmen (2009)

Some superheroes have their origins in ways unavailable to your average person. Batman and Iron Man rely on their own personal well-funded technology. Captain American is a result of a highly complex super soldier program. Thor is a space alien god, which could also be said for Superman. And someone like Ghost Rider or Jonah Hex has his origins in the supernatural. Still, there are plenty of superhero origins that rely on pure chance, often a result of a horrible accident. That got me thinking… could an industrial accident really turn you into a movie superhero?

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Titanic (1997)

Everyone enjoys a good love story, don’t they? They may not be the highest-grossing movies of all time (if James Cameron isn’t directing, that is), but romantic movies can elicit some strong emotional responses when done right. Watching passion overcome adversity, seeing two people connect on a profound level, witnessing a giant ship sinking in icy waters. The heartstrings tremble, they also seem to set up impossible romantic ideals for us mere mortals to live up to. With the potential relationship pitfalls that come from movie expectations, I got to thinking… are romantic movies really the best love stories?

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junglebooktruth-1

As much as I love the classic early Disney animated films, the 2D animation revival of the 80s and 90s, and the modern 3D computer generated films the studio makes today, I have a real soft spot for the rustic animation from the 60s and 70s. Movies like 101 Dalmatians, Robin Hood, and The Jungle Book have a charm to their style of rough pencil drawings coming through the ink and paint. With The Jungle Book coming out on Blu-ray on February 11, it gave me a chance to revisit this spirited classic, which happens to be the final animated feature that Walt Disney was personally involved with before his death in 1966. Watching this again reminded me of seeing a re-release trailer for the film in the 1980s with a friend, and hearing him exclaim: “There are no bears in the jungle.” This got me thinking… would all the animals in The Jungle Book ever interact in real life?

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indytruth-1

Personally, as a die-hard Indiana Jones fan, I’m quite forgiving of a lot of the problems people have with the series (which shouldn’t be surprising, considering I will defend the Star Wars prequels as well). Still, I cannot deny some of the goofy things that happened in the fourth installment six years ago. I’m not just speaking of Shia LaBeouf’s Tarzan-like swings from jungle vines (that kid makes a career out of stealing other people’s shticks), but also the dreaded nuking of the fridge. This got me thinking… was nuking the fridge really the most ridiculous thing that happened in the Indiana Jones series?

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elementstruth-1

Like many readers of this site, I love comic books. I grew up reading them, so when Hollywood finally started to really get superhero movies right in the mid-to-late 2000s, I was overjoyed. Of course, I had been enjoying superhero movies long before Iron Man and The Dark Knight. As a child of the 70s and 80s, I grew up watching superheroes on television and in the movies when radiation was the key element of heroic transformation and spandex was the fashion standard. Going back to the 80s, these comic book movies have their own Kryptonite that causes problems for them. It seems that one of the best ways around a mysterious substance or miracle solution is to encounter an unknown element, or to discover a new one if you don’t have the expertise to just create it in your own home laboratory. And this got me thinking… where do all these unknown and new elements come from?

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bttf2truth-1

Contrary to what a dozen or so faulty Facebook memes say, we have not reached the day that Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) travel to in Back to the Future: Part II. That won’t happen until next year, on Wednesday, October 21, 2015, to be exact. However, as we look ahead to that day in all of its post-Avengers 2 and pre-Star Wars 7 glory, we can assess what still needs to happen for the 2015 of 1989 to become a reality. Obviously we don’t have hoverboards or Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactors in every kitchen, but revisiting the classic Back to the Future series got me thinking: Is any of the stuff we saw happening yet?

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matrixtruth-1

Want to feel old? Consider that The Wachowskis‘ groundbreaking science fiction action film turns 15 years old this year. That’s old enough to start shaving and testing for a learner’s permit. Forget what you think about the polarizing sequels, The Matrix helped bridge the sometimes cheesy science fiction films of the 80s and 90s with the more modern, computer-dominated films of the 21st century. It wasn’t necessarily a new idea, but it was rather stunning how the Wachowskis presented it. It’s a staple of cyberpunk plots: man against machine. Still, as often as this device is used, watching the movie 15 years later got me thinking: Was the Matrix system even necessary?

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waterworldtruth-2

As the year comes to a close, many people are assembling their best and worst of the year lists. This can also inspire people to look back at some of the best and worst of previous years. While Kevin Costner’s infamous 1995 box office behemoth Waterworld is fondly remembered by some (evidenced by the possibly surprising RottenTomatoes score of 43%), most people remember it for its cost overruns and ballooning budget that threatened to break Universal’s bank. (Spoiler alert: Even though Waterworld was famous for its massive budget that wasn’t even remotely recouped at the U.S. box office, it eventually broke even with international numbers, home video sales, and other ancillary revenue streams.) I fall in the column of people who thought the film was a bit of a turkey. Sure, it was impressive in some respects, but the story and characters weren’t enough to keep me interested. There was also this little thing called “science” that bothered me throughout the film. This wasn’t a sticking point for other famous flops from the 90s like Cutthroat Island, The 13th Warrior, and Costner’s other albatross The Postman. Those really weren’t science fiction per se. But Waterworld was. And looking back almost twenty years, that got me thinking: How realistic were the events of Waterworld?

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jeditruth-1

One of my favorite movie series of all time is the Star Wars films. Yes, even the prequels. I’m sure whatever happens with the upcoming sequels, they will make the list, too. I’m an shameless fanboy when it comes to this series, and I can forgive a lot – from Greedo shooting first to Jar Jar Binks. Since I was a child, seeing the original Star Wars at the tender age of five, I have loved the series. My youthful mind always wished I could be a Jedi Knight myself. Now, I know that’s impossible because I certainly don’t have nearly enough midi-chlorians in my blood for that. In fact, it was a relief for me to learn this plot patch when I saw The Phantom Menace because by watching the original trilogy as a child, it seemed so easy to train to be a Jedi Knight. Going back and watching that original trilogy again, it got me thinking: Just how long does it take to complete Jedi Knight training?

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miracleon34thstreettruth-3

A perennial this-time-of-year favorite, Miracle on 34th Street features a kind, old gentleman (Edmund Gwenn) who insists he is the real Santa Claus, getting a job at Macy’s and bringing holiday cheer to a single mother and her daughter. During the course of the film, the store psychologist has it in for Kris Kringle and sends him to Bellevue. This leads into a high-profile hearing in which a young lawyer named Fred Gailey (John Payne) sets out to prove that Kris Kringle is the one and only Santa Claus. As the hearing reaches the final day, on Christmas Eve no less, when Gailey presents three letters simply addressed “Santa Claus” to the judge. This is to prove that the U.S. Postal Service believes Kris to be the real deal. When the prosecutor demands more then three letters, and the judge insists that Gailey put the exhibits on his desk, almost a dozen postal workers enter the court with 21 giant mail bags filled with letters. A Christmas miracle happens, and Kris Kringle is vindicated. This got me thinking: With all that has changed in our world in the past 66 years, could all the letters to Santa delivered to the U.S. Post Office be used to prove Kris Kringle is the real Santa Claus?

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ff6truth_5

Whether you get into the Fast & Furious franchise or not, there is no denying its massive popularity and ability to rule at the box office. A lot of the success of the franchise has come from the fact that in the past three movies, it has moved from a street racing series to basically a mix of muscle-car James Bond with the Oceans Eleven films hopped up on NoS. This past summer, Fast & Furious 6 went head-to-head in the summer box office with some of the biggest names in blockbusters, including Iron Man, Superman, and Gru’s Minions. While there’s no comparing the characters in Fast & Furious 6 with the Minions (although Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson try their hardest to be that charming), Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) gave Superman a run for his money. Not only did Fast & Furious 6 best Man of Steel’s international box office, Dom performed his own Superman-like stunt to save his amnesiac lover Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) from certain death. This got me thinking: Is Dominic Toretto actually Superman?

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strangebrewtruth-1

Two things come to my mind when we start rolling into December and the holiday season. No, it’s not peace or love or some such slop. It’s also not blockbusters or award films. It’s cold weather and drinking. This also makes me think of Canada, and this in turn makes me think of legends of comedy: Bob and Doug McKenzie. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the motion picture premiere of the beer-drinking duo from the Great White North. In their film Strange Brew, Bob (Rick Moranis) and Doug (Dave Thomas) must stop an evil Brewmeister (Max Von Sydow) from controlling the minds of Canadians with a tainted beer supply. In one scene, Bob saves the Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane from burning down by pissing all over it. This got me thinking: Would it be humanly possible to put out a large fire by urinating on it?

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planestrainstruth-1

It’s hard to find a movie for this time of year. I’m not talking about Christmas movies. Lord knows, Hollywood is lousy with Christmas movies. Instead, I’m talking about Thanksgiving movies. Usually Hollywood skips Turkey Day altogether and starts releasing Christmas movies in early November (including relatively recent releases like A Christmas Carol in 2009, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas in 2011, and The Best Man Holiday just this year). Still, there are a few Thanksgiving movies knocking around, and they’re not all as bad as Free Birds. One of the most loveable and endearing Thanksgiving movies is John Hughes’ 1987 comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The film follows businessman Neal Page (Steve Martin) trying to get home to Chicago from New York City two days before Thanksgiving. He stumbles into an unlikely travel buddy in Del Griffith (John Candy) and ends up on a three-day misadventure using almost every known form of ground transportation. As a traveler myself, I know it can be extremely costly as much as it is time consuming, and that got me thinking: How much would a trip like this actually set Neal and Del back?

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hungergamestruth-1

Whether you’re been a fan of the books from the beginning or constantly find yourself grumbling “Battle Royale ripoff” under your breath, it’s hard to deny the pop culture phenomenon that is The Hunger Games. However, there’s a lot to the series – especially as it is committed to film – that is left unexplained. The premise is simple: After an uprising and war that wiped out much of the North American population, the oppressive government of Panem now demands that two tributes a year are chosen from each of the sparsely-populated districts to compete in the Hunger Games, a battle to the death with a single victor. The story opens in the poverty-stricken District 12 where our heroine is marched into the town square to be part of this annual Reaping. However, knowing that District 12 makes up a large portion of Appalachia and supposedly is larger than the modern state of West Virginia, it seems this Reaping is like the people struggling to survive: a little thin. Do they have the Panem equivalent of draft dodgers? Do the THX-1138 stormtroopers not notice that the ranks are a bit small? How are they getting away with this? In the interest of fairness, this got us thinking: Were the good folks in District 12 scamming the Hunger Games?

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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