Total Recall (1990)

Douglas Quaid has it all:  loving wife, steady job, good friends.  Or so one would think.  He dreams of a woman and going to Mars, a planet that’s been colonized.  He goes to a company called Rekall.  They can give a person all the memories of a dream vacation from the convenience of their offices.  Doug rips his way out of the chair as he yells and screams about a secret agent mission on Mars: the dream vacation he pays for.  The only problem with this is the fact that the memories have not been implemented.

What followed was 2 hours of plot twists, gun fights, and restoring order to Mars, overthrowing a company holding the less fortunate of Mars at their mercy, and protecting their own assets.Some things targeted in this movie was corporations control over merchandise and double-crossing agents.

A strength I found in this movie, and assuming nothing going in, was the plot twists throughout the movie.  Doug goes from being innocent, to part of the problem, to innocent.  The misdirection in Doug’s first message plays out well and I was caught off guard when he gave his second message.

Arnold Schwarzenegger gives what is probably one of his most diverse rolls, and he pulls it off quite nicely.  He does well with the emotion this character had, something usually overlooked or not used as he does action action action.

I realize this movie came out 22 years ago, but I almost found it humorous when they were showing a person out in Mars’ atmosphere.  They would not last nearly as long as they did (especially at the end of the movie).  I didn’t know whether to be freaked out or just start laughing at how this looked.

On the whole I found this movie entertaining.  Having never watched this movie I came in with no expectations.

On another side note: I will not be seeing the remake.  As previously stated, I’m not a fan of remakes, I find they do not do the original justice, and I don’t imagine this one does.

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Quiet Man (1953)


Continuing on with John Wayne non-typecast roles, tonight I am watching The Quiet Man.  In this film, Wayne plays Sean Thornton, a retired boxer who returns home to Innisfree, Ireland.  He’s retired because he accidentally killed a man in the ring.

This film was the second of five movies John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara did together.  Their first was Rio Grande, another John Ford film.  Ford shopped the film around and eventually was put out by Republic Pictures on the condition that Ford do a western first, which was Rio Grande.

Two things that stuck out from very early in the movie are that this seems like it would be fun and it would be scenic.  I have never been to Ireland, but in Thornton’s trip out to his home city, the countryside looked beautiful.  Seeing as this movie won the Academy Award for Cinematography, this makes sense.  Also, his exchange with the driver was light-hearted and fun.  The commotion at the train station as he gets off also offers some comic relief.

Tension is established very early in the film between Thornton and Will Danabar as Thornton buys the cottage he grew up in, though Danabar wants to lay claim to it.  This, of course, doesn’t help Thornton when he falls for Mary Kate, Will’s sister.  Will challenges Sean to fight, but Sean is reluctant and Mary Kate interprets that as weakness, when in fact there is something far greater at work.

John Wayne does a great job playing the conflicted and misunderstood person. He and Mary Kate end up getting married, but the custom in Ireland is for a wife to bring in her dowry, otherwise the marriage is not official.

Once he and Mary Kate get married, it becomes clear that she will not get her dowry, something that she becomes obsessed with acquiring.  I appreciate how Wayne portrays Thornton as he dealt with the very reason he returned to Ireland.  His last fight still haunted, and would more than likely haunt him for some time.  It seems something comparable to his acting would be someone coming back from war with PTSD.  He does a good job bringing this to life.  It is not something to be taken lightly.

Moving back more to his traditional role as he drags Mary Kate, attempting to flee, all the way from the train station (5 miles, a nice stretch of the legs), back to Innisfree.  Only when threatening to leave Mary Kate without the dowry, Will reluctantly agrees to give it.  Thornton then fights Will, and aside from a few cheap shots, Thornton lands most of the punches.

The fight continues on and on and becomes the talk of the town.  I found this to be annoying and a little over the top.  Then again it is a couple of Irish men fighting, so I suppose that makes sense.

This was a good combination of fun, romance, and celebrating Ireland.  It was also a good film for John Wayne to act in a different role than he usually did.  However, I felt The Quiet Man dragged at times and spent more time moving the plot along than it needed to.

My rating: 3.5 our of 5 stars.

Juno (2007)


This was a movie that I originally thought, “Holy cow this movie is great!”  Since then I have toned my opinion back quite a bit, though I still enjoy this one every once in a while.

One of the things that bothers me the most about this movie is the quick-wit and obscure references that borders on screwball comedy.  I enjoy a bit of that, but I feel like the writers took it way over the edge, especially with Juno’s character.  Another movie that makes reference to this is Disaster Movie.  They use the Juno-esque character to say, “It’s called over-writing man.”  She said this after an obscure reference, and while I detested Disaster Movie, I felt they made a valid point.  Some of a certain thing is good, but a lot tends to get annoying and tedious.

One of the things that I liked the most about this movie was the realism, especially with Juno’s parents.  When they first hear that Juno is pregnant, it was very genuine in how Mac asks his wife if he had screwed up, but only after keeping his cool when Juno is in the room.  J.K Simmons was made for a role like this.  The support he gives throughout the pregnancy and candid honesty was refreshing.  I do not know what it is like to be a parent, but I would like to think I’d be that way if something like this were to happen sometime down the road.

This was the role that made both Ellen Page (who received an Oscar-nomination for her performance) and Michael Cera significantly bigger acting roles.  I hadn’t seen Cera in much before this movie, but after watching a few of his other movies/tv performances, he seems to have one role.  He plays the awkward quiet guy who’s in the indie crowd.  I just feel like he’s become more of a typecast since then.

Jason Batemen and Jennifer Garner’s characters make for a very beautiful couple.  Knowing where their marriage goes through by the end of the movie, it makes sense and you can tell that Bateman’s character doesn’t want to grow up and become a dad in their first meeting.  He seems like the man who still holds on to youthful dreams.  This was also one of Jason Bateman’s first major movie roles (though he and Cera worked wonderfully on Arrested Development).

I also appreciated how Juno’s youth and naivety are portrayed, and Ellen Page does a good job playing .  The fact that she doesn’t understand that it’s inappropriate for her to be spending time with a married man demonstrates this.

On the whole I felt this movie was good, through at times I felt like it screamed “I’M AN INDIE FILM I’M NOT MAINSTREAM THAT MAKES ME COOL!”  The realism is what makes this movie good, and helps me look past the nit-picky things I don’t like.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.