“Why So Serious?” Celebrating 10 Years of The Dark Knight

It is very rare that a sequel can be better than the first film. For a vast majority of movie goers are The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, Star Trek: First Contact, and Toy Story 2 were among the few to be considered superior to their respective predecessors. Sequels are tricky business. On the one hand, you have to stay true to the world you have established, stray too far from the formula that made the first film so good and you alienate our fans. On the other hand, unless you are going to build on the world, and challenge your heroes, there’s no point in doing it. No one wants a rehash of the same movie.

Enter The Dark Knight. In 2005, director Christopher Nolan had already reignited the

The Dark Knight

Batman franchise by reexamining Batman’s origin story in Batman Begins. That film was an instant hit with me, and as a life-long fan of the character, I loved seeing lesser known rogues like the Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul get their time in the sun. Both villains reflect a darker image of the Batman (Scarecrow like Batman uses fear as a weapon while Ra’s shares Batman’s passion for eradicating crime) and make for the best foes to launch the series.

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“Earn This…..” A Saving Private Ryan 20th Anniversary Retrospect

They have been called the “Greatest Generation” and for good reason. Few, especially those in my day, would probably be willing to do what they did on that infamous day back in June of 1944. For decades their valor was glamorized and their exploits praised. They, and those who came before them in World War I, were of a generation that did not talk about what they faced. There was glory to be had in battle and dying for ones country. However, those who served knew differently, and it took the talent of the son of one World War II veteran to bring it to life.

Saving Private Ryan

Back in 1998, the ink had already settled on crowning Titanic as a box office smash, and it was only a matter of time before the next juggernaut. To the surprise of many, one of the most anticipated films was not Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla, or Lost in Space. Steven Spielberg had a new movie coming out that was generating buzz critically and commercially, and this was despite its R Rating. The film, Saving Private Ryan was a World War II drama about a battalion that goes in search of a young private that went missing in action after one of his last brothers was killed on D-Day.

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“Don’t Make Me Angry” An Incredible Hulk 10th Anniversary Retrospect

As far as the core members Avengers go, I’ve always been a fan of the big green monster known as the Hulk. I first became a fan of the character when I was about three  years old through reruns of the old Bill Bixby/ Lou Ferrigno TV series. I think the young son of a dear friend of mine said it best as to just why the character appealed to me so much when I was little, “he’s big and strong, and I’m not.”

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk

Thus, between the first Iron Man movie, and the 2008 Incredible Hulk movie, if you were ask me which film I was looking forward to more in 2008, I would have gone with Hulk. However, with a work schedule and The Dark Knight coming out a few weeks later, like Old Shell Head, Hulk had to wait until it reached my dollar theater. Then a two weeks after I got to see Iron Man, I walked down to that theater once again, plopped down a few bucks and sat back to watch the Not So Jolly Green Giant’s latest exploits.

There had been another Hulk movie back in 2003 that told his origin story, and for the most part it failed to appeal to many fans. I was not one of them. While the mutant poodles were a bit overdone, I have to applaud Ang Lee for tapping into some of Hulk’s tragic back story even before the gamma burst gave him powers. However, most people don’t want a Hulk movie that focuses mainly on psychological analysis, or existential angst, they want “Hulk Smash,” and in that regard 2008’s Hulk delivered.

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Life Finds A Way: Celebrating the Jurassic Park Franchise #8: The Dinosaurs

For film remembered for winning the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, the dinosaurs in the original Jurassic Park film only show up on screen for a minimum of 15 minutes in the 2 hour runtime. For any one growing up with the movie, it felt like there was more, but much of that is due to Spielberg’s natural talent. Much like how Jaws is so much scarier because of what the viewer doesn’t see, allowing their imaginations to conjure up whatever frightening images they can dream up, in Jurassic Park as soon as viewers know there are dinosaurs on the island, their minds start running in thousands of different directions.

Further a total of seven dinosaurs are actually seen in the film. This includes four of the most popular dinosaurs: the Brachiosaurus, the Triceratops, the Parasaurolophus ( duck-billed dinosaur) and the T-Rex, two of the more obscure dinosaurs the Galimimus and Diloposaurs, and the films breakout stars the Velociraptor. A quick scan of the embryos in cryostorage on the park fills the gaps as it lists other dinosaurs they don’t see. Despite how imaginative it may be, the dinosaurs still “look” like how we always imagine them to be, as if they stepped out of our collective consciousness and into the silver screen, grounding it in a certain “hyper-realism”. As Spielberg noted in an interview about the making of Jurassic Park with Empire Magazine in 1993.

“This movie is not Alien, where they can take whatever form your imagination suggests. These are dinosaurs that every kid in the world knows.”

The Dinosaurs

 

 

 

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Life Lessons from Groot

So, here we are. It’s that time of year again. The school year is drawing to a close and that means graduation season is upon us. It’s the time when we love to give students advice, with the likes of Dr. Seuss, Maya Angelou, Walt Whitman and other literary titans. Apart from these Bartlet’s quotes, there’s also a few basic bits of advice every high school and college senior hears not only from friends and relatives but at commencement.

Let’s face it. We’ve all heard these phrases so many times and seen them attached to so many generic motivational posters that they’ve lost their impact .Well, what if there was an immensely popular character from film, television, and literature to help illustrate what these classic axioms mean? Who could this character be?

Well, its none other than that lovable Collusus Florus known as Groot. He was so kind to

I am Groot.

take time out of his busy schedule to come and talk with us.

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Life Finds A Way: Celebrating the Jurassic Park Franchise #7: Tim and Lex

While any responsible adult would probably not send a child to an island filled with dinosaurs, the stories in the Jurassic Park franchise usually develop a relatively plausible explanation as to why there are kids at this giant death trap in the first place. In the film, The Lost World, Kelly Curtis disobeyed her father, Ian Malcolm, and stowed away on his expedition to Site B. In Jurassic Park III, Eric Kirby was stranded on Site B after a parasailing accident near the island. In Jurassic World, Zach and Grey Mitchell are sent to Jurassic World to visit their aunt Claire.

However, chief among these young characters, is the brother sister duo of Tim and Lex Murphy. As Zach and Grey’s parents would do decades later, the Murphy kids are sent to the island to visit their relative to take their minds off of their impending divorce of their parents. On top of that, the book makes it clear that Hammond had his own sinister reasons for having the children on the island, as it would show the lawyers just how safe he felt the park was. After all, no loving grandfather would willingly throw the lives of his grandchildren away by making them into dino-chow.

While not as sinister as his literary counterpart, Hammond in the film when introducing the kids to the rest of the professionals invited to endorse his park still refers to Tim and Lex as the target audience for Jurassic Park. The goal behind the park, after all according to Hammond, is to introduce the world to creatures so astounding they’ll capture the imaginations of children everywhere. Children of all ages love dinosaurs. The best way to show  investors that the Park is indeed for everyone, is to show them the awestruck looks on the faces of the grandchildren of the man who built the park.

Tim and Lex

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“I am Iron Man” Celebrating 10 Years of Iron Man…and the Launch of the MCU

Avengers: Infinity War has been released, and to paraphrase Mantis, one of the film’s heroines, “it has been kicking names and taking butts” as it broke a number of box office records as the film has delivered on being the most unprecedented crossover event in film history. Earlier in the year Black Panther was heralded as a “game changer”, while the D-list superhero team the Guardians of the Galaxy has become a household name. Even Ant-Man has gained a level of cool thanks to his movie. Yet none of this would have been possible had the ground work for the universe had been laid down by another one very important superhero film known only as Iron Man.

It may not seem like it now as the character has become a household name, but Iron Man

Iron Man

was just as risky a gamble for the newly formed Marvel studios as the likes of Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, The Guardians of the Galaxy, and Black Panther had been deemed. In fact, prior to Ol ‘Shell head, the only Marvel properties that had been huge hits at the box office were Blade, X-Men, and Spider-Man.  Further, when the summer of 2008 already had a highly anticipated superhero film looming in July in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Iron Man seemed like a long shot.

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