Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

9 Dec

It’s all about Jesus! But it’s fun anyway.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the 3rd of a possible 7 film installments of C.S. Lewis’ classic kid’s christian allegory, and it really isn’t all that christian. At least by comparison. The first installment, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, might as well be retitled the gospel according to Clive (Clive Staples Lewis…I’ll take useless trivia for $500 Alex).

The Christian subtext really doesn’t come through until the end of  Voyage when Aslan aka Jesus/God, voiced by Liam Neeson, makes some determinations about who is allowed to return to Narnia. It’s all very obviously a discussion about life and death and the importance of belief, chiefly illustrated by the newest character- Eustice.

The annoyingly precocious and scientific Eustace,played very strongly by Will Poulter, enters the Narnia scene as a non-believer in the fantasies of Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley).  Eustance is pulled into Narnia with his cousins’ who are called back to rescue the enslaved from an evil green mist by searching for lost lords magical swords.

Make no mistake this is a fantasy movie that has all the dragons and talking animals you’d want. Primarily Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg who replaced Eddie Izzard) the gallant mouse who is all heart.

It’s a kid’s movie through and through, but that really is no excuse for some of the lame dialogue. The special effects are fandamntastic and the acting is strong, it’s just certainly film making aspects are noticeably weak. Although, I don’t think that will prevent the film from raking in some serious holiday family time cash. It’s still fun and entertaining for the whole family. And now that everybody has seen Harry Potter and the search for more money Part 1, families will be wells setup for a family trip back to the movies.

This is a  30 out of 50, on Pale Thunders new SPF scale of goodness. Strong enough for adults with kids, but you’ll get burned just as a sci-fi/fantasy fan looking for Chronicles to become the next Lord of the Rings.


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The Fighter: Wahlberg wants a statue

1 Dec

A soft spoken, hard working, hometown boxer overcomes his brother/trainer’s drug addiction and overbearing family to bring redemption to all those involved. That is the story of The Fighter, and it is no wonder that this movie was Mark Wahlberg’s passion project for the better part of half a decade.

Not only is the film the true story of comeback kid Micky Ward, it is set in Wahlberg’s home state of Massachusetts. With Amy Adams as Charlene, the hometown heroine with a sharp tongue and high hopes for Micky. And with cult movie star Christian “I am acting here” Bale, as the crack addicting brother, you’ve got a recipe to get yourself an oscar nomination.

A fact which will most likely lead critics to write a string of mediocre to negative reviews comparing The Fighter to Stallone’s passion project about a redemptive pugilist, Rocky.  And to be fair it is not a totally ridiculous parallel as both films are primarily about small town guys who find success through brutality and violence, but we love them because they’ve got the heart to persevere.

These stories are classically American, we love the underdog. It has been in our cultural DNA since we opened a big can of whoop ass on the British at Yorktown, after the original training montage at Valley Forge. I can just see George Washington taking a victory lap with Apollo Creed screaming “Martha!”

Anyway, The Fighter is a good movie that doesn’t deserve to be compared to Oscar winners until it has had it’s own crack at award season. Especially, given the strong performances of both Amy Adams and Christian Bale. While Adam’s did not have a ton to do in the film outside of be attractive, she does have some hilarious scenes with the trashy sisters of Wahlberg who are the best image of Lowell townies.

Bale, on the other hand, is very strong as the cracked out, former pride of Lowell boxer, older half-brother and mentor Dickie Eklund. Eklund’s claim to fame was knocking down boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, a fact much debated in the film. Unfortunately, Wahlberg really doesn’t really show you anything that he hasn’t before despite the strong performances around him.

The real power of The Fighter is how effectively it draws you into the true story. The climatic scenes of Micky’s title shot bout are dramatic on their own, but there is the added element of not really knowing which way the fight is going to go…unless you know Ward’s story. Which I won’t ruin for those of you who haven’t heard of him, and honestly it makes the film better if you don’t.

I would say this is a film worth seeing in the theaters, for the avid movie goer. But for those of you who are luke warm, their is no harm in waiting for the DVD release. A solid 45 out of 50, on Pale Thunders new SPF scale of goodness.

Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show: I as always am Blog

30 Nov

The title there isn’t funny at all. Well at least if you don’t watch/listen to Kevin Pollack’s chat show. But even then it really isn’t that funny.

Right so as a blogger I am not so much into the recommendations. I mean I do reviews. From time to time I will take a pass at political commentary and perhaps, hopefully, make the three of you reading laugh. But today we are going to change that.

Not the laughing part, that is probably going to stay the same. I will officially make the first official recommendation and it is not a brand or level of sunscreen, even though everything above 30 is total bull.

Kevin Pollack’s Chat Show is a must listen/watch for those of you who enjoy the entertainment arts, and the hollywood land buzi-nass.  It’s basically Inside the Actors Studio, but without the pandering narcissism of James “Tea man” Lipton.

It is a casual conversation with interesting people that makes you think, “hey this is unscripted goodness and isn’t trying to sell me something.” I am looking at you network television. Stop selling me things, I am not buying. Except whatever that baby is selling, that shit is hilarious. If only I could remember the product.

Anyway, Kevin Pollack’s Chat Show is like sitting in on a private conversion between a famous person and Kevin Pollack. Sorry KP, you know you’re my boy. Well actually you don’t because I was born in Delaware and you were in the Usual Suspects. But you are my boy.

Seeing actors, comedians, people of note and Kevin Pollack in their normal state is demystifying in a very cool way. It’s like Neil Patrick Harris or Jason Alexander is just a guy hanging out, nothing horribly special. Just a guy who was able to do some really cool things talking about them.

But more than that you get a really different understanding of the nuts and bolts of the movie/tv making business. I think most people don’t understand why actors do bad movies, but when you hear so many talented actors talk about how hard it is to work, you really start to form a different opinion of the performing arts career choices.

Although, their is also significant discussion of how the TV show, movie, theater process works. For entertainment junkies like this pale kid that’s amazing. I’m never going to see the play that John Slattery (Mad Men) did with Nathan Lane (the Birdcage), but hearing about it is almost better.

Besides all that Chat Show does some cool things with social media to get the audience involved: tweet 5 -where a twitter gets to ask 5, either-or questions to the guest. Also, each episode includes “The Larry King Game,” in which guests perform a bad impression of Larry King exposing a personal secret  and then going to the phones siting a funny sounding city name.

It’s a 2 hour live show that is refreshingly unedited and moderately scripted, it’s genuine…which is not really a word that one can normally use when referring to hollywood.

All the episodes are on iTunes, I recommend subscribing to the video podcast and then picking the guests you are most interested in.

Below are a sample of a few Larry King games, enjoy!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: You have to earn it

23 Nov

Somewhere an executive at Warner Brothers is crying in a Scrooge Mcduck size pool of money.  That comically large pool of gold coins was not due to a government bail out but one of the most successful franchises in entertainment history, the tears are because the Harry Potter franchise has started to end.

Although, they are squeezing every penny out of the final book installment, splitting the 784 pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows in two feature length films.  And to be fair the story is large enough to split into a Ken Burns documentary, so it’s not like WB is spreading this out to weasel an extra $10 out of you, that is just the icing on the gold plated  birthday cake they are sending to JK Rowling at her Scottish castle-home.

The thing I really enjoy about Part 1 is that it is not for everybody. It is for the fans. You could not just show up to this movie and understand anything that was going on. These final two films are  the payoff for those who read the books and followed the movies, and if you didn’t well then you are SOL.

For those of you who are fans (of the paleness or Harry Potter) continue.

With so much story to cover in the final two films director David Yates and writer Steve Kloves do an excellent job of establishing the most important aspect of the Deathly Hollows – the stakes.  The world of Harry Potter isn’t going to spell’s class, pranks on Snape or even Hogwarts anymore, schools out and it’s time to get expecto patronum on some death eaters imperiusing asses.

( I told you fans only)

That is why the early deaths of Hedwig and Mad-Eye Moody are so important. Both in the novel and in the film.  At it’s core the Deathly Hollows is about transitioning from the innocence of youth to the reality that we will all die, and all that we can control is how we go about living.

To effectively communicate this though, Yates has to keep the pace high and cut out a lot of the secondary character’s background stories. Bill Weasley is awkwardly introduced in the first few scenes as if he were a throw-away character and then all of a sudden you are at his wedding.  But that is what has to happen when you have so much story to cover and only so much attention span to work with.

Also, Yates has a uncanny ability to mix the humorousness that is so much a part of the Harry Potter franchise with the incredibly dark and evil events of the deathly hallows. This is war and you know it, but with a few laughs along the way…like a children’s book morphing into a adult fiction.

But that is basically the way Rowling wrote it so Yates must be doing something right.

Though their are more than a few moments where the dialogue is weak and awkward shots seem to waste valuable screen time, on the whole this will be an enjoyable film to Potheads everywhere.

Pale Alert: Harry Potter Uberfan makes Blogger seem cool

16 Nov

Alright, so when you first start to watch this you’re thinking, “crazy.” But you know, to each his own. Then you get to the part about how he has a tattoo of J.K. Rowlings signature and you start to get a Buffalo Bill vibe from this guy/kid.

I don’t know what they would call the mayor of crazy town at Hogwarts but this guy/kid is it.

I don’t mind obsession either. I mean I have grown to become obsessed with the smell of SPF 50 to the point where I am thinking of marketing my own cologne, “pale survival”. But I still know how to mix it up once in a while and get a little dangerous with something in the 30’s…sometimes I get burned, literally, but sometimes I just get a few freckles.

My advice to this guy/kid…maybe get down with some Middle Earth and diversify the crazy investment, just in case the Deathly Hallows Part 1 doesn’t quite live up to nerdspectations.

What is wrong with a kid having a flag on his bike?

16 Nov

I just have one question: why wasn’t he allowed to have the flag on his bike in the first place? There is a giant American flag in front of the school, so it is not like everybody didn’t know that they were this country.

Also, in case anybody wants to make this political…he was riding his bike! Green energy bitches, come on.

127 Hours – Your hand or your life, you choose

11 Nov

A man stuck between a rock and a hard place. The hard place in 127 Hours is the hand of Aron Ralston and the rock is, well the rock is an actual rock.

Ralston (James Franco) was hiking and climbing through Blue John Canyon in Utah, when a bolder became dislodged and fell, crushing his right hand and wedging itself against the narrow canyon walls.  After 5 days of urine drinking and hallucinating Ralston amputates his own arm.

I don’t think Bear Grylls covered this in Man v. Wild.

It’s actually a pretty funny movie. Up until the part where Ralston resorts to drinking his own urine. It only gets more graphic when Ralston breaks his own arm and slowly tears into his own flesh, cutting nerves like long pieces of spaghetti, with a dull pocket knife.

The whole thing is almost surreal to watch because it is so personal.

Franco and director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) are able to bring you into Ralston’s mind as it slowly deteriorate from careful water rationing and clever survival tactics into saw your arm off in a dehydrated, survival haze.

But in a movie that is completely driven by one character, 127 Hour skillfully avoids the Cast Away pitfall – the loneliness of just one character and his monologue makes you want to punt every Wilson volleyball you see.  127 Hour moves quickly and doesn’t dwell on building up the accident that leads to the crushing of Aron’s hand or the ultimate decision to cut his arm off.  Everything just kind of happens and you are along for the ride.

It is an experience film that puts you into the mind of a true survivor. You will walk away with just one though, “could I do that?”

For me it wasn’t cutting off the arm or even drinking the urine, but the 5 days of direct sunlight which would have sunk my battleship.