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The Comfort Movie

What is your comfort movie? I asked this question of my social media followers and received some great responses. Everything from action films like “Die Hard” to classic dramas like “Casablanca “or Sci-Fi films like “Dune” and epic awesomeness like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.  I was pleasantly surprised by the wide array of films. I really appreciate the input.

To start I found my love for movies by watching a litany of films with my mom who was stricken with Multiple Sclerosis and confined to our home for a good portion of my younger years. Her tastes in film were so eclectic our library (in the thousands) had everything in it. Romantic Comedies, Dramas, Dramadies, Originals, Remakes, and every niche you can drum up. They offered her a chance not simply just to escape her problems because to be honest they were very apparent to her; they offered her a chance to feel excitement, fear, happiness, love, and hate. They offered her a chance to feel emotions not influence by pain. They offered a pathway to the human condition through someone another persons eyes. Films offered a great deal of comfort to her and now to me.

I remember “An American Tail” being my first comfort film. Who could not fall in love with “Fievel Mousekewitz”? The character made every kid yearn for an adventure. This was the first film that made me feel for the main character.



Then there is “Emperor’s New Groove”, just a silly children’s film that is so David Spade it makes me laugh every time I watch it. I would not call it great. I call it fun and sometimes fun is just what you need after a hard day.\


Nothing picks me up after a rough day than an epic blockbuster. “Iron Man”, “Dark Knight”, “Thor”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Die Hard”(the original and “Vengeance”), and of course “Ghost Busters”. I love movies that are made to make you smile. There is magic when a movie can turn your mood from depressed, stressed out or angry as all hell, to chill and joyful for at the very least a few hours.


Comfort movies are great because they don’t have to be good. They can be delightfully bad. Some people love “Sharknado” simply because it is so bad it makes fun of itself. My sister loves horror films. She introduced me to the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th” and she watches these films as comfort movies. In my eyes these movies are funny in her eyes they get her mind off her day and the fear simply gets the blood flowing. Who am I to argue with that?

My wife enjoys a good documentary film. Ancient Egypt is a popular topic; along with space, murder, and anything Roman or Greek. Documentary film making is such a great thing. Such an art to make the past relevant in a world filled with instant gratification. To make history exciting is a talent all its own and one this very brief history major really appreciates.


So no matter your comfort film I say to you simply enjoy them. Bask in the artistry that is film. Go to that happy place you only find so often.

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“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

Marvel in all its wisdom took what I believe was its weakest film franchise in Captain America and made him into one of its strongest assets. “Captain America: The First Avenger,” was a slow film that seemed to miss its first step. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” flipped the script completely bringing the audience elements of not only a popcorn action film but a spy thriller filled with all the espionage goodness you would expect from Jason Bourne.

Whether it is industry veterans like Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson or the youth filled energy of Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Scarlett Johansson,  and  Chris Evans this cast has enough talent to fill an ensemble flick like “The Avengers” much less a standalone “Captain America” film. I was impressed with what was a very well-paced and well-acted Marvel Studios production.

*SPOILERS*

So what is next for the Captain? Will Chris Evans leave following “Captain America 3”? Will Steve Rogers be killed off to make way for the Bucky Barnes Captain America? What is next for the Black Widow? Quicksilver? The Scarlett Witch?

If you are not excited for “Guardians of the Galaxy” you should be. I’ll buy anything Marvel/Disney touches. I am very excited to see what the ties are between the Guardians and our earthbound heroes.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron”is setting up to be big and I mean gargantuan. So many heroes are being teased. So many cool rumors are floating about. Now is truly a time for nerds. Only if Warner Bros could get its ish together and bring us “Superman vs Batman” when they promised it in 2015 instead of 2016. Things are heating up!  I love that we live in a time where  studios are pushing each other to make quality films. The feuding has yet to begin!!

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Wolverine

I remember watching the first episode of “X-Men: The Animated Series”. The struggle of the characters was something a teen during the 90’s could identify with. The quintessential teen in Jubilee. The debonair ladies’ man in Gambit. The skilled leader in Cyclops.   The ever conflicted and epically powerful Jean Grey. These characters simply touch the surface of a cartoon that introduced me to such a great group of Marvel characters.

My favorite “X-Men” character by far has and probably will always be Logan/Wolverine. Wolverine is such an iconic character. I remember how intense he was in the early 90’s series and could have never imagined such a mercurial character could ever translate precisely to what my imagination expected on the big screen. Then came the year 2000 with the live action Bryan Singer helmed “X-Men”. I was blown away by this unknown (at least to me) actor in Hugh Jackman. He nailed the swagger and pure rage of Wolverine perfectly. He has embodied the character for believe it or not fourteen years in seven movies (this includes a brief appearance in “X-Men: First Class”).

So when Hugh told IGN that “At some point, someone will close the door on me” immediately my mind went on the defensive. I mean Hugh could play Logan for another 10 years right? I did the math and in ten years Hugh would be 55. Not exactly the prime age to play the ageless superhero Wolverine. That got me to thinking who could replace him? Who has the right amount of roughness and look of shear intimidation that Mr. Jackman has pulled off?

Chris Pine (33)?

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I mean he has some bravado but can a man be Kirk and Logan? I am not too sure he could pull off Wolverine’s body.

Karl Urban (41)?

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He’s only four years younger than Hugh and really is only thrown in here because I think at one time he fit the role and played a similar anti-hero in Judge Dredd well.

Sullivan Stapleton (36)?

Sullivan Stapleton

He was great in “300: Rise of an Empire” and plays a badass well.  I think he would be a great choice but I am biased since I loved his performance in 300.

Liam Hemsworth (24)?

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Landing Thor’s brother could really steal some headlines but there is something about his look that screams to pretty for Wolverine.

Tom Hardy (36)?

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He made Bane scary just with his eyes imagine what he could do if he could act in a Superhero film using his entire face!!

Who do you think could play the next incarnation of Wolverine? Hell think outside the box maybe good ole Logan won’t be a buff badass maybe the next version of him will be a young sensitive emo “Twilight” looking kid. Only time and some hopefully smart studio decisions will tell.

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300: Rise of an Empire

“300: Rise of an Empire” was a great action film. Talk about a romp worthy of 3D glasses! There are not many films out there truly meant to be seen in 3D. This is one of those films. Eva Green who plays Artemisia is worth the price of admission. One, she is breathtakingly beautiful in this film. Two, she plays an angry vengeful bitch well. Three, she is in I believe the first tastefully cinematic fighting sex scenes ever. That and she really makes the film what it is which is many words is a violent testosterone filled romp through several epic Greek battles.

My only real gripe is that “300” had a much better pace than “Rise of an Empire”. “Rise” seemed to spend a great deal of time reminding the viewer that “Hey look there is Leonidas dead, he was in the movie see we brought him back. Technically we brought him back.” No technically you used footage from the last movie and really only needed it once out of the handful of times Xerxes axe was shown hurling toward Leo’s head. Go watch the film you’ll see what I mean.

Is “300: Rise of an Empire” better than “300”. No. No. Nooooooooo! “300” had an aura about it. It was different. It changed the game in the action genre. It was a breath of fresh air in a world wanting the next “Matrix” experience. It is a shame it took eight years for something to come from such a success but “300: Rise of an Empire” could really be the start of something special. I am not going to spoil the film for you but I can say that it sets the table for something awesome.

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The Remake

What is the true value of that very special movie you hold dear? That film perhaps in your younger years you pictured yourself as the hero or wept with struggle of the protagonist. That film you can quote ad nauseam.  That movie no matter how many times it comes across your T.V. you at the very least have to stop and breathe in the experience.

What if that movie was remade? Would you turn over cars and light dumpster fires to protest its release? Would you start a social media campaign condemning the blasphemous remake? Would you climb the highest mountain top and curse the gods?

On the Super Hero front in the next couple of years there will be a new Batman. After billions were made on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight masterpiece there will be another man stepping into the bat suite. Why? Money with a side of money and also a pinch of spicy money sauce. With Marvel and Disney making bank on numerous properties i.e. Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and more character films and series on the way there is no stopping Sony, Fox, and Warner Brothers from making money off of their heroes. Properties cannot and should not sit on the shelf to gather dust if there is tangible interest from the public of seeing that character or characters on screen. Nolan is done with the Batman universe and it makes no sense to continue a series of films that some would say was creatively broken (and saved by Nolan with “Dark Knight Rises”) with death of Heath Ledger.

On the action movie front we have seen the struggle of remaking “classics”. “Total Recall” which came out in 2012 and of course was in many peoples minds a remake of the 1990 film in reality was based on the source material of Philip K Dick’s “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”. Was it a good film? Yes, but it was not a knockout of park or a financial success. Most recently, “RoboCop” was remade and hasn’t fared well in the U.S. (although 136 million overseas to date is nothing to sneeze at) is a remake of the 1987 film of the same name it had just so much more soul than the original. In my view it brought more raw emotion than the rather to me the one dimensional original. “Dredd” the 2013 film which was based on the same comic book character as the 1995 “Judge Dredd” is if you have the opportunity too see it a great film from top to bottom. Artistically, pace, and just nonstop action that really captures your attention quiet well. The Stallone version was campy and really a movie that either intentionally or not intentionally made fun of itself. Action films don’t have to have soul but it is so nice to see depth in a genre that often lacks it.

Comedies are an interesting venue for remakes. I read somewhere that there is a “Naked Gun” remake in the works. Is it needed? Not really but hey if it’s done right I guess it could be good. At one point there was talk of a new Lampoon’s Vacation film but I haven’t seen a thing about it moving past a rumor. “Ocean’s 11” made in 2001 was  a remake of the 1960’s film of the same name. The “Oceans” franchise was fantastic (ignore number 2).  It seems to me that certain scenarios are remade more than films in the comedy genre. The “Trading Places” gimmick that has been done over and over again with “Freak Friday” and most recently with “The Change Up”. Buddy Cop comedies are a dime a dozen. Romantic comedies are more than a dime a dozen they are puked out more than a freshman at his first keg party. I love original comedy films. Comedies to me are so organic and when done right so much fun to watch.

The Drama genre is so expansive and seems to have a bevy of retellings at least from my perch on the movie tree. There are so many retellings of “Romeo and Juliette” it would be impossible to list them all. “Pride and Prejudice” seems to be a popular story to bring to the big or small screen every three years. 2010’s “True Grit” was a remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic. Remakes of foreign films can be awesome. “The Departed” was a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film “Infernal Affairs” and was groundbreaking. Stieg Larsson’s “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” trilogy of novels was made into a Swedish set of films and was transported to the US with the Daniel Craig/Rooney Mara thriller in 2011. The U.S. version was the only version I have seen and it was edgy, dark, and good.

Remakes I know are a touchy subject. We love what we love. Taking ownership of a film you love is just natural. As AMC writer John Campea would say “Your DVD doesn’t disappear when the film is remade”. I agree. I am also one of the few who love George Lucas’s updates of the Star Wars franchise. It was his baby. A man updating his house is seen as improving the home’s value … why can’t a director, producer, and movie god update his property? It is his to do it. Thus why can’t a studio remake or re-launch, retell, movies or characters such as “Batman”, “RoboCop”, or hell down the line “Lord of the Rings”? If the want of the public is there and the property is huge why not? It takes nothing away from that film or character you love and in many instances is easily forgotten if it is awful. I love the original “Ninja Turtles” films (except for the 3rd) but if the re-launch is good I won’t forget the original. I will love both for what they are; pieces of film making history. Representations of two very different era’s. I love great movies!!! I love them for what they are. I can not and will not get to angry for a studio trying to make money I reserve the right to be angry at a bad film for simply being bad. That way of thinking has given me some great tent pole films i.e. AVENGERS! I embrace remakes and cannot wait for your feedback.

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