The Great Dictator: A Nazi Slap to Hitler

In another vein, for a different class, I watched Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. I gotta tell ya, this is a completely different pace in comparison to the movies I usually watch. I’m all about movies after 1970, the color films, the 100 minute movies. I’m not usually up for the 2 hour black and white snore fests. But this one was at least a bit different. Hey dad, looks like I’m growing up a bit with a little taste of cultured film.

The Great Dictator is the story of a note so great dictator, Adolph Hitler. Cleverly renamed as Adenoid Hynkel, Charlie Chaplin mirrors the rise of Hitler into power and his subsequent actions in his self appointed office. Parallel to this is an image of Chaplin’s Tramp character, the

It’s just too uncanny…

Jewish barber. After having served during World War I, the barber lost his memory and didn’t realize the war had been lost or that Hynkel had been put into power. The persecution of the Jews is underplayed in this movie (it seems as if they’re not treated that poorly), and Chaplin later apologized after finding out about the concentration camps. A depressing issue indeed.

The parts that make this movie funny is only about half of the film. There’s Chaplin’s speech as Hynkel, accurately mimicking Hitler’s wimpy return salute, and the German language and Hitler’s oratory style is dead on. The short English retorts are perfect and simply explain just what Hitler was up to. The bumbling idiots of Hynkel’s cabinet, characterized by Henry Daniell as “Garbage” and Billy Gilbert as “Herring”, strongly insinuate Himmler and

Too legit.

Goebbels (maybe some Goreing thrown in there). The floating globe is amazing and the slapstick is always good. I had no idea how much of a comedic genius Charlie Chaplin was.

The other half of the movie contains the plot. And I found it to be a very uninteresting one. The Jewish barber falls in love with a Jewish washing woman, and the Nazi Gestapo harass her and the barber all day long. After finding the man whose life he saved in the war, the barber befriends Schultz (Reginald Gardiner) and sets about a coup in order to kill Hynkel (if only they had…). Things go wrong, identities are mistaken, and Chaplin (the barber) gives a profound speech at the end, one I felt was directed right at Hitler. Coming out in 1940, this movie, viewed twice by Hitler, was a plea to stop the war. If only it had succeeded.

A lot of the stuff in older movies like this feel the same to me. The long credits at the beginning, the old time music, the higher pitched male voices and long shots, it’s all a constant. I have to admit I was a bit sleepy after this one. But the subject matter and slapstick are what really saved it for me. It was an

A love made in boredom?

extremely clever spoof of Hitler’s Nazi regime and spoke a lot to the things I’ve been learning about in my Holocaust class. I would recommend this one to history buffs and fans of old films, because this one is one of those classics (if you can’t get a hold of an actual copy, check out YouTube for the whole film). Not exactly my style, but I still appreciate it. 7.3 out of 10.

Never Let Me Go (The Film)

I have to admit, this movie completely missed my radar. And its only come up because of an independent study class on dystopias that I’ve learned about movies like this. And let me tell you, this one’s a doozy. A love story and depressing dystopia all rolled into one characterizes Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

Let me try to paint a picture for you of the world created in this movie. Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley), and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) are three young

An impressive child actor cast.

individuals who live a sheltered life in an alternate reality. It’s the 60’s and all major illnesses have been cured. The last great obstacle is death. And with organs failing, a solution is needed to push people far past their early 100’s.

In what appears at first to be an unrelated issue, young girl Kathy (Isobel Miekle-Small), young girl Ruth (Ella Purnell), and young boy Tommy (Charlie Rowe) are all attending a boarding school that doesn’t seem that odd. Run by Madame (Nathalie Richard) and Miss Emily (Charlotte Rampling), these ominous figures keep a tight grasp

Shaggy and bohemian is the way to look in the 70’s I guess.

on the children. They’re not allowed to leave the grounds, not allowed to break the rules, and must always remain healthy. This may seem odd, and the big reveal doesn’t come until maybe 30 or 40 minutes into the film. It may shock you a bit.

What really impressed me about this movie was the cinematography. It was dreary, and at the same time surreal in the way it looked. And coming from Mark Romanek, a usual music video director, this was quite surprising for a slightly different presentation medium. The music was done hauntingly well on the trilling piano, with a British background landscape that made everything seem desolate, from school to farm, farm to beach.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot, but I do have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the naivete of all the characters in the film. The child actors were very mature and experienced for

Oh hey, Peter Parker…

as few productions as they’ve done, coupled with great performances by Mulligan, Garfield, and Knightley. You do have to understand that all of these characters are socially isolated and it reflects well in the acting they all deliver. (More Garfield than anyone else.) His painful cries and Knightley’s haunted witchiness makes for a great combo in comparison to Mulligan’s calm and collected motherly figure.

I’ll leave the rest of the film up to you to see for yourselves, but it is worth a watch because of how well Kazuo Ishiguro’s books translate into films (i.e.  The Remains of the Day). I wasn’t wholeheartedly into it, but it wasn’t disappointing either. It was simply a movie about love and loss, between innocent characters. A love triangle for the dystopian ages. Worth checking out. 6.8 out of 10.

Wreck-It Ralph: A Gamer’s Paradise

So here’s an up to date review that’s still relevant. Wreck-It Ralph is a wonderful little Disney film about a wrecking villain named Ralph (John C. Reilly) who does nothing but wreck an apartment building. His counterpart and hero, Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) fixes the crumbling building around him and gets a medal for all the hard work. What people who play the games don’t know is that Ralph is sick of being the bad guy.

This movie, first and foremost, is extremely original. As most of

Support group for the ages.

Disney’s animated projects go, it captures you with vivid images and great fluidity, and keeps you entranced with great cameos and good voice acting. This movie accomplishes all that and one thing more: it makes you extremely nostalgic. Throughout the entire film, everyone in the theater was pointing out to their friends and family who their favorite video game characters were and how cool it was to see them act on their own. Even some parents can get in on the action with Pac-Man and Q*bert.

How’s your blood sugar level?

Coupled to some original and iconic songs, there’s nothing about this movie that didn’t please me. You get all the stereotypical games (strategy Pac-Man style, Street Fighter button mashing, racing, shoot-em-up, and even some other bizarre appearances). There’s something for everyone in this pick-and-mix arcade, run by one of my favorite actors, Ed O’Neil. The only thing I could’ve wished for in this film was more video game characters. Where’s Master Chief? Where’s Ezio Auditore? You gotta at least get Mario. But yes, I sadly understand that all of those licensed characters would’ve cost the movie a fortune. Oh well…

So the plot of the movie is simple. Wreck-It Ralph gets fed up with his bad guy role in his 8-bit video game and goes to explore other games. He stumbles upon the opportunity to win a medal in Heroe’s Duty (big children’s joke) and does so. But his medal gets used by Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) to enter a race to win back some honor in

Jane Lynch has never looked so sexy.

Sugar Rush the racing game. It’s up to Ralph to make or break the day, and Felix and Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch) will do anything to get him back. It’s a video game for the ages.

What made this movie so spectacular were all the guest appearances and voice actors that graced the screen. Ever since Tim and Eric, I’ve grown to love John C. Reilly. And it’s nice to see his range as an actor in a kid’s role like this. Sarah Silverman is both cute and verbose as Vinellope, the cute child race car driver. Her poop jokes and tomboyish attitude are much appreciated by me. I’m not usually a fan of Jack McBrayer and his work on 30 Rock, but he was just fine and the perfect voice for Felix in this one. And here’s the big surprise… The Candy King was done by Alan Tudyk! I couldn’t believe my ears! He truly is the master of voices if I ever heard one. First A Knight’s Tale and now this? Wonderful.

How great are those detailed graphics?

Throw in Mindy Kaling of The Office and Joe Lo Truglio, and you have yourself just a sample of what is an entire cast of great voice talent. You also have Roger Craig Smith as the voice of Sonic (and Ezio Auditore of Assassin’s Creed 2), and Kyle Hebert as Ryu of Street Fighter (acclaimed voice actor),  and that’s a great addition. I loved the bad guy support group meeting as well. It’s all good in the hood.

I would recommend, if you have kids, taking them to see Wreck-It Ralph. It’s good for all ages (AKA, anyone who has ever played video games) and you’ll enjoy it too, no matter what your preference. So suit up and grab your controller and lay in to some good old fashioned fun. 8.8 out of 10.

Naruto: Shippuden, My New Obsession

After 10 straight months of watching nothing but, I am completely caught up in the world of Naruto. I’ve started performing Fireball Jutsu’s all over my house, creating Rasengans with my long time friend and avid fan, and even bought a rather expensive and very nice Shino Aburame cosplay for my own personal enjoyment. In a word, obsessed. I can’t get enough of this show, and you already know all I’m gonna do in this post is rant and rave about Naruto: Shippuden. Keep the episodes coming, I want to see Naruto: Shippuden, episode 500.

For those of you who are familiar with Naruto, I don’t need to remind you of the original story. Naruto has lost Sasuke and needs to get

Badass, character clash, as per usual.

stronger to get him back (if he can at all). After 3 years, Naruto returns with a vengeance, a few new Rasengans up his sleeve, and a new unbreakable vow and fervor. Sakura is a bit more badass, but just as useless as before (her battle with Sasori almost leaves something to be desired, Granny Chiyo did most of the work…). The new partner, Sai, is an unlovable bastard with a strange affinity for Japanese ink drawings. Everyone else is pretty legit now in Shippuden. Gotta love my Shikamaru.

So who are the new baddies in this one? Well, you have the Akatsuki. These guys were an outer force in the original Naruto with Kisame and Itachi trying to capture Naruto. The reason? The Nine-Tailed Fox that rests within him. And the other eight tailed beasts (Bijuu) that rest inside their ninjas (Jinchuriki). Sorry for any misspellings. If they get all 9 of the tailed beasts, it’s game over for the world of ninjas. And with 10 badass Akatsuki, the most relentless fighters in all the land, it’s gonna be a fight to the death. And it doesn’t stop there.

What could this be I wonder…

Sasuke has obviously teamed up with Kabuto and Orochimaru, wielding the ways of fire, lightning, and snakes. It’s all very badass, but who (other than fangirls) really likes Sasuke? He’s a bad boy, and he’s kind of a whiny biatch about his brother. (More on that later in the series.) Anyways…

Everybody has powered up and all these new Jutsu’s are being thrown around like hotcakes. Shikamaru is a Jonin, and he’s so damn smart that he’s actually super important in the main plotline. Perfection in a can. Choji is as wonderful as always, his battle with the Sound Ninja in Naruto being one of my favorite fights of all time. Neji lookin’ like a huge master, as per usual. Not a single character has become less cool than they were in Naruto original. Rock Lee, ballin’ and breakin’ hard as well.

And there’s so much I can’t tell you that is just so good to watch! All of the emotions and the brand new soundtrack that makes this one so much more adult and dramatic than anything ever before. The fluid fight scenes and crisp animation make it an enjoyable watch with every episode. I’m learning all the hand signs as we speak.

Here’s a new twist. Does anybody remember my last post on Naruto? I watched that all dubbed. BIG MISTAKE. Maile

Epic and beautiful, all-in-one.

Flanagan ruined it, and the only redeeming qualities for me were Itachi, Shino, Shikamaru, Rock Lee, and Gaara (Liam O’Brien for life). So I watched this one subbed. And let me tell you, Junko Takeuchi is a godsend. She does an amazing job as Naruto and really creates a character that feels and hell, even goes through puberty. Try to pull that off, Male Flapagan. (Every other Japanese voice actor is amazing too. Shino’s deep voice threw me off though…)

What more can I say about this show to rave about it…

There’s a character for everyone in this show. Every character has a unique personality and fighting style that anyone can fall behind. You get what appears to be the precursor and inspiration for Avatar: The

Just for funzies.

Last Airbender with the different element affinities, and plenty of strategic battles that go off so badass like. With so many versions of Naruto and the greatest one-ups-manships of all time, Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden will disappoint no one. At all.

With incredible backstories of a bunch of new characters, great all around presentation, and a fandom that can’t be beat, Naruto: Shippuden gets a well deserved 11 out of 10, my first more than perfect score ever.

The Expendables 2: Redonkulousness.

I have never seen the original Expendables. I had only ever heard vague rumors about how ridiculous these movies were. I had to see it for myself. So we rolled out and hit up the theater hard for this action-packed massacre of bullets and destruction. I was expecting the bloodbath of the newest Rambo. What I got was one of the most ridiculously and classically cliche things I’ve ever seen in my life. And I laughed all the way through my enjoyment.

Sylvester Stallone is back as Barney Ross, a character who is not really a character. More of Sylvester Stallone as his mumbling self with some jacked biceps. He’s got his crew with him, and they’re on some mission

Always fire from the hip, boys.

to kill someone or other in some Middle Eastern looking village. They all roll up in battle jeeps and brandish light machine guns out the ass and wield Gatling guns with one arm, smokin’ fat cigars with the other and whatnot. Just your average C-rated action film.

What makes people see these movies, you may wonder? (Or not…) It’s all about everyone’s favorite action hero. And there’s such a damn long list!:

You got yourself classic Stallone. I’ll never forget the first time I watched Demolition Man, or the first time I left the room when my friends watched Over the Top. His forgetably bad movies are what makes Rocky so good in comparison (and Rambo too, I guess…) He just needs to get his shit together and figure out how to talk correctly though.

This is where everyone lost it.

You got your relatively new newcomer, Jason Statham. Making it big in the Transporter series, this guy has been garishly blowing up the screen with nonsense after nonsense. His Guy Ritchie days were great, but America has loved to cast Statham in weirder and weirder movies. I’m talkin’ In the Name of the King and Crank 1 and 2. I can’t tell you how many nightmares I had over Crank 2…

Then you have Jet Li. There can be no complaints about one of the best action stars/ martial artists the world has ever seen since Bruce Lee. I was so happy to see him get the hell out after the first scene in this movie and no longer associate himself with the Expendables (unless he comes back for the third round…).

You got yourself Terry Crews, star of The Longest Yard remake and Everybody Hates Chris. What he has become known

What’s that hat all about, Stallone?

for is a bit more tragic and bizarre than his acting career. Yay, Old Spice!

There’s Randy Couture! His MMA days must be getting stale! And that cauliflower ear must be rancid! Don’t try to fool us with your book reading and glasses wearing. Your name is this movie is Toll Road. Enough said.

And then you got Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. One I love, one I’ve always despised for the Die Hard series. (I wish they would stop making them…) If I ever hear another Yippie-Kai-Yay again, I may have to go Alan Rickman on his ass. But you can’t go wrong with Arnie. He holds a gun like such a boss in these movies! Firing from the hip, laying waste to countless, faceless minions all over the movie. Looks like the Govenator will never lose his touch.

Absolute kick perfection.

And some new faces! There’s Dolph Lundgren, greatest joke It’s Always Sunny has ever made. Chuck Norris, the biggest and most soft-spoken hardass of them all. He appears every once in a while, and this Walker doesn’t need a walker, you feel me? But what sealed it for me was Jean Claude Van Damme as Jean Vilain (looks like villain right?). His obsession with goats and round house flying kicks is what made this movie badass. Seeya Liam Hemsworth, you got a knife right through the heart from a Jean Claude kick.

So what do all these players equal? One of the most hilariously classic action movies I’ve seen since well… ever. You can’t get more cliche and classic action than with a movie like this plot and characters like these. We were all losing our shit in the movie theater laughing from all the classic one liners and unrealistic gigantic explosions. It was all so great, right down to Liam Hemsworth declaring that he was dying from Jean Claude’s boot stomp. You gotta love movies like this.

So whether you love action, or love satirical action, this movie is a must see. I’m

Classic Stoagie.

gonna go back and watch the original ASAP. You gotta love all the mindless destruction and countless body count that comes up with movies like this. So come in with an open mind, because, at first glance, this movie is gonna be awful. But remember, not all bad things are totally bad. Some things that are expendable, are just so damn good. 6.5 out of 10.

Silenced: Korean Courtroom Drama

So, stereotypically, when it comes to Korean films, I watch horror and thrillers. It’s not often I stray from that path and end up watching something unique and beautiful like I did with this. Based on a true story, Silenced is a film about the injustice and legal accusations of a school of deaf children against their abusive and molesting faculty. This movie hits you hard with its brutality and tugs at your heartstrings with the emotions the child actors show in their voiceless anguish. Not what I was expecting, and so wonderfully done I don’t want to forget it. This movie could very well impact your life.

The basic premise of this film. Kang In-Ho (Gong Yoo) is a mild mannered teacher of

The utter grace of sign language, in all languages.

the deaf who comes to a new school. Working for his daughter with severe asthma and his mother (his wife has passed on), Kang In-Ho is forced to pay 50 million Won (50,000 in American dough) in order to work at the school, “without complications”. After noticing some strange activities, including the beating of a young male student, Kang In-Ho must do something.

And do something he shall. Enlisting the help of a civil rights worker named Yoo-Jin (Jung Yu-Mi), the duo brings to court the cases of three students, all tragically tainted by their experiences at school, and without the power to voice their cries. The added element of sign language in this film creates more of an impact when silent tears roll down the children’s faces.

Shocked into silence.

The acting in this film was phenomenal (as might be expected from the film festival reviews) and the dark atmosphere was superbly coupled with the cinematography. The subject matter is heavy and troubling, but you really get a chance to connect to the characters in the film and care about their well being. Hats off to any child actor who can deal with a role like this in a professional context. It has been a while since I’ve seen this, but I always enjoy a courtroom drama, and this one delivered on so many levels. The outcome is surprising as well.

What really sums up this movie is the message at the end. This being about real events, this movie was out to make people aware of the atrocities mankind commits on mankind. The troubling scenes and the feelings of hatred and injustice that spill throughout this movie make it for an emotional watch, but it is well worth it if you care about the issues at hand in this film. (It helps if you like Asian films as well.) Don’t know much else to say about this, other than to watch it ASAP. I’ll give Silenced more than a whisper on my rating scale: 8.4 out of 10.


The Raid: Redemption. Action, Done Right.

And now we come to what has become one of my favorite movies of all time. The Raid Redemption is one of the most cohesive, brutal, action driven films I have seen since I first watched The Protector with Tony Jaa. And what makes it better is that a lot of people actually like it. For once, Rotten Tomatoes is right in giving it a 83% fresh rating. This movie is fresh as hell.

What should I start with in talking about this martial arts movie to the extreme? Well, its

Get your shoot on.

basis comes from some of the best. In an interview, I remember Gareth Evans saying he was inspired by Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and earlier films of the time. But when you see this, you know it shoots right into the vein of Muay Thai, no holds barred, stunt fighting with punches hardly pulled. People are getting worked in this movie (on and off camera). And when you introduce guns into the mix, you know things are going to get even more brutal.

And there’s a plot here as well! No running after elephants and single minded goals to be had here. There’s a raid, some character development, and then a twist. Everything you need in a movie like


this. Basically, Iko Uwais, now one of my top 5 favorite martial artists of all time, plays Rama, a passionate SWAT team member with a wife and a baby on the way. His team leader, Jaka (Joe Taslim) is determined to do the mission with no losses and everything in order and justified. But with the sounding of the alarm, a 30 floor slum building crawling with hundreds of crime gangs, everything is going to go off.

Other than the adequate acting in this film, I was really impressed that some martial artists I hadn’t see before showed up in this one. Joe Taslim was quite the throw artist with his specialty in Judo. His fight with Mad Dog was literally redonkulous. And then there’s Mad Dog himself, played by Yayan Ruhian. That little greasy haired monkey absolutely destroys half of the people in this movie, and doesn’t even stop when he gets a light bulb shaft shoved in his neck. Unbelievably badass. Throw in the expertise of Iko Uwais and his Silat, and you have the best 101 minutes of my life.

What I was surprised about in this movie was how much weaponry was used in a classically martial arts movie. Guns,

Mad Dog, unleashed.

assault rifles, knives, police clubs, the environment as well as the weapons available created a more realistic situation than just fists and feet. (Watch out for the Machete Gang though…) People getting thrown into furniture and off of ledges, this movie becomes so brutal everybody is shouting “OH!” while watching it.

Now we come to the soundtrack. For the U.S. and English speaking release (I mean subtitled of course), Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park was recruited to make his own original electronic soundtrack to complement the movie in comparison to the Indonesian release. What is created is what I would consider a throwback to the first two L.P. albums which is far superior to the stuff they’re coming out with now. The drums and bass come in at just the right moments to escalate your emotions and really get your blood pumping. Just like a video game, you have this rising action as you get into unique fight after unique fight. Superb.

30 floors of Hell.

Throw together all these elements and you have a Welsh director in an English speaking country that gets Eastern martial arts cinema. If I could grow up to be like him, I’d do it. The Raid: Redemption just proves that martial arts action films can be explosive, entertaining, and dramatic. 9.8 out of 10.