Harry Potter Revisited: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Now we come to fourth installment: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Darkness has been building in the last three installments. But this is where things turn pitch dash thanks to a magical contest and the return of Lord Voldemort.

The movie opens with the Quidditch World Cup. It’s all fun and games until there’s an attack at the competition by Death Eaters, Lord Voldemort’s followers.

As Harry, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts, the school is joined by students from two other wizarding schools: Durmstrang and Beauxbatons. Champions are selected from each school to compete in the Triwizard Tournament.

Students wishing to compete put their names in the Goblet of Fire. The champion from Hogwarts is Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson), Durmstrang’s is Viktor (Stanislav Ianevski) and Beauxbatons is represented by Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy). The field seems set. But then the Goblet of Fire spits out Harry’s name. After heads of all three schools debate what to do, it is decided Harry will also compete. But Harry didn’t enter his name. Who set him up?

The contests are no walk in the park. First, each competitor has to go up against a dragon to retrieve a dragon egg. Then they have to save friends of theirs being held underwater in the Black Lake while fighting off all sorts of underwater creatures. Finally, they have to navigate a magic maze to get the Triwizard Cup. My favorite is the first one, because dragons.

As if all of that wasn’t enough excitement, Hogwarts gets a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. He’s an ex-auror (dark wizard hunter) named Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody (Brendan Gleeson). Oh, and there’s a dance: the Yule Ball.

So, there’s a lot crammed into this movie, just like Prisoner of Azkaban. Goblet of Fire brings another new director to the franchise: Mike Newell. You might remember him as the director of Four Weddings and a Funeral. His knack for dry humor shown in that film shines here in the lighter moments, especially the teenage drama surrounding the Yule Ball.

One of the smart things this movie does is allow Harry, Ron and Hermione to go through teenage growing pains in a realistic way. And the feud between Harry and Ron early on (Ron is mad at him for not telling him he would enter the tournament) doesn’t get dragged out as long as it does in the book.

The finale is also handled very well. When (spoiler alert!) Harry and Cedric both reach for the Triwizard Cup, they’re transported to a cemetery. There Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is resurrected by Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall). Pettigrew kills Cedric with the killing curse. And then Voldemort challenges Harry to a duel. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. But, when Harry and Voldemort cast spells against each other, their wands connect. This brings about images of people Voldemort killed. Voldemort is distracted long enough for Harry to grab the Triwizard Cup, which takes him back to Hogwarts, along with Cedric’s dead body.

The emotional impact of the ending is handled as well as you could hope. I for one shed some tears. Daniel Radcliffe really makes you feel the weight of Harry’s struggles. He’s great in the first three movies. But here, his acting chops really go up a few notches.

Among the acting performances, I want to give a special shout out to Brendan Gleeson. He’s been a great character actor for a while. You might remember him from 28 Days Later. He brings a lot to Mad-Eye Moody. At the end, when we learn that the Moody we’ve seen has been an imposter (Barty Crouch Jr. used polyjuice potion to assume his form and imprisoned the real person), his turn from helpful teacher to villain is quite jarring.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ratchets up the tension in the franchise to whole new levels. The Triwizard Tournament is thrilling, the Yule Ball a fun diversion from the darker elements and the human drama involving. I enjoyed it a lot. But I’m not sure where I would put it in my ranking of the movies.

Harry Potter Revisited: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

We have now come to my favorite book in the Harry Potter saga: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Alfonso Cuaron’s entry in the franchise stands out to me because of how the movie effectively handles the dark and ominous overtones of the book. It also benefits from the brilliant casting of a few new characters. More on that later.

As Prisoner of Azkaban opens, Aunt Marge is visiting the Dursleys. When she insults Harry’s parents, Harry loses his temper. The manifestation of that anger is him causing Aunt Marge to inflate like a balloon and float away. Harry then packs up his things and gets on the magical Knight Bus to stay at the Leaky Cauldron until classes begin. Along the way he meets the Minister of Magic, who is surprisingly forgiving of what Harry did to his aunt.

While at the Leaky Cauldron, Harry runs into Ron and Hermione. They get on the Hogwarts Express together. The train ride takes a dark turn when the train is searched by the dementors. They are the grim reaper-looking guards of Azkaban (prison in the wizarding world). The guards are looking for escaped murderer Sirius Black. Making things scarier? Black is the only person to ever escape from Azkaban and sold out Harry’s parents to Voldemort.

At the first night back at Hogwarts, Hagrid is introduced as the new Care of Magical Creatures teacher. And we also are introduced to Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), the new Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher. Harry, Ron and Hermione meet him briefly on the train ride to Hogwarts when Lupin repels a dementor that enters their train car.

We learn later that Lupin was good friends with Harry’s parents. With Sirius Black on the loose and dementors guarding Hogwarts, Harry asks Lupin to teach him the a Patronus Charm that Lupin used to repel the dementor on the train. The friendship that grows between Harry and Lupin is really a joy to watch. Lupin is an effective mentor and a good confidant for Harry. Casting David Thewlis was a master stroke.

But back to the story. After a Care of Magical Creatures class goes awry (Draco provokes hippogriff Buckbeak to attack him), Buckbeak is sentenced to death. Harry, Ron and Hermione go to watch Buckbeak’s execution and be there for Hagrid. Afterwards, Ron’s pet rat Scabbers escapes. A large dog appears what drags Ron and Scabbers into the base of the Whomping Willow. Turns out it contains a secret passage to the Shrieking Shack.

The large dog is in fact Sirius Black. Black is an Animagus. In the shack, it is also revealed that Lupin is a werewolf and Scabbers is Peter Pettigrew. Pettigrew was the one who betrayed Harry’s parents, not Sirius. Harry tries to help Sirius escape. But he’s unsuccessful. To set things right, Harry and Hermione leave injured Ron to heal in the hospital while they use Hermione’s time turner to go back in time. This time they’re successful in freeing not only Sirius but Buckbeak.

Okay, lots to unpack here. Let’s talk about why this installment is such a success. One I’ve already mentioned. That’s the casting of David Thewlis as Lupin. There’s so many layers to the character and Thewlis brings them all out in a brilliant performance. The screenplay wisely doesn’t reveal all of Lupin’s secrets all with blunt dialogue.

The other standout performance is Gary Oldman as Sirius Black. Oldman is one of our greatest actors, one of a few in modern times who deserves the chameleon label. While his screen time is limited in this movie, Oldman does a solid job of establishing one of the most crucial characters in the series.

Prisoner of Azkaban also is just an all around great looking film. Cinematographer Michael Seresin gives us some images that are beautiful, like the whole sequence where Harry goes for a flight on Buckbeak. But then there are also images that are beautiful but also haunting, such as the ride to Hogwarts in a rainstorm and the reveal of the dementors.

This movie is a shift in tone from the last two installments. But Alfonso Cuaron handles the material very well. There’s a sense of foreboding throughout that really keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. But the movie does have moments of great humor too. It isn’t all gloom and doom. It’s a delicate balance that works. Prisoner of Azkaban works as not just a Harry Potter movie, but as a movie period. It’s well made on every level.

One final note (pun intended). This is the final movie in the series that features a score by John Williams. He goes out with a bang, delivering some of the best music in the series.

Harry Potter Revisited: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Continuing my nostalgic tour through the Harry Potter movies, this week I’m revisiting Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

As the second movie opens, Harry is living with his cruel adoptive family, the Dursleys. As another year at Hogwarts gets ready to begin, Harry is visited by a house elf named Dobby. Dobby warns Harry not to return to Hogwarts and that terrible things will happen. In the process, Harry learns Dobby has been intercepting letters from Ron and Hermione. Dobby thought if Harry felt left out by his friends he wouldn’t want to return to school.

Harry refuses to promise Dobby he will not return to Hogwarts. So Dobby gets him in trouble with the Dursleys. Uncle Vernon puts bars on Harry’s bedroom window and locks him up like a prisoner. Thankfully Ron, Fred and George Weasley show up to break him out and get him to school. The sequence introduces us to an enchanted flying car, one of the most inventive effects in the movie. Harry then goes to spend his last time before classes resume with the Weasleys.

One of the joys of the early parts of Chamber of Secrets is seeing how the Weasleys become a surrogate family to Harry. There’s also the way that Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) has no trouble scolding her kids and welcoming Harry with open arms at the same time.

But what about this specific year at Hogwarts? Well, the Chamber of Secrets of the title has its roots in the history of Hogwarts. The school’s founders: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin had differing views on who should be allowed to attend Hogwarts. All but Salazar Slytherin believed Hogwarts should be open to all magic and mixed families (meaning allowing Muggle-borns as well). Since Slytherin could not convince the others, he left the school. On his way out, he built a hidden chamber in the castle. Only the heir of Slytherin would be able to open the chamber, unleash the monster and purge the school of Muggle-borns.

Well, the chamber gets reopened and cryptic/disturbing messages are left on the walls. The first victim is Filch’s cat, Mrs. Norris. She’s found hanging, petrified in one of the school corridors. The attacks continue, and eventually, Ginny Weasley is taken into the Chamber. Hermione is also found petrified. Hogwarts goes on lockdown to catch the culprit.

Hagrid is also sent to Azkaban prison. As we learn from a mysterious diary, Hagrid was accused of unleashing a monster on the school 50 years ago. So Hagrid is sent away as a precaution and Dumbledore is temporarily relieved of duty. As Hagrid is escorted off to Azkaban, Harry and Ron hide in his hut under Harry’s invisibility cloak. They later learn from Hagrid’s friend, a giant spider named Aragog, that Hagrid is innocent.

Harry and Ron then discover the entrance to the chamber in the girl’s bathroom, with no help from new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), who they discover is a total fraud. Harry is then able to open the chamber. It is revealed earlier in the movie that Harry speaks Parseltongue (the ability to talk to snakes).

Into the chamber Harry goes, where he meets Tom Marvolo Riddle. Riddle is revealed to be Lord Voldemort, just a younger version of him. Tom sets a basilisk loose against Harry. Eventually Harry fights it off with a sword brought to the chamber by Fawkes, Dumbledore’s Phoenix bird. Harry is then also able to get rid of Tom by stabbing the pages of his diary with a basilisk fang.

The diary is what brought Tom Riddle back to life in the first place. It was slipped to Ginny Weasley’s cauldron in Diagon Alley by Lucius Malfoy. The diary possessed her to write the messages on the walls and do Tom’s bidding.

What do I takeaway from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? It’s a solid second installment, building very well on the world and mythology established so well in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. While there were certainly dark elements in the first movie, the second one dials the scares up a few notches. It’s not just the victims of Slytherin’s monster turning up petrified. The scene where Harry and Ron meet Aragog and then have to flee from a whole group of giant spiders scared the bejesus out of me! Chamber of Secrets accumulates tension very effectively, making it into a thoroughly involving mystery. The way the secrets of the chamber are gradually uncovered is masterful. And, amidst all the darkness of the story, there is great comic relief from Gilderoy Lockhart. Kenneth Branagh plays him as a narcissistic buffoon, true to how he was written in the book. But he never feels like he’s straining to be funny. The part could easily have been cartoonish and annoying. But Branagh plays it just right.

The sets here are also something to see, especially the Chamber of Secrets itself. This is an excellent sequel that allows us to see the characters grow into the roles. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson pick up right where they left off, proving once again that they were the right choices for Harry, Ron and Hermione. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has a good balance of human drama, action and humor. It leaves you eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Harry Potter Revisited: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

With lockdown still in full swing, I thought it would be a perfect time to revisit one of my favorite book/film franchises: Harry Potter. So here is my reflection on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Given the success of the Harry Potter books, it was only a matter of time before J.K. Rowling’s series made it to the big screen. Enter Chris Columbus of Mrs. Doubtfire fame to direct the first installment. Transforming such a fantastical book into a movie was a daunting task to say the least. But Columbus and his talented cast/crew proved themselves more than equal to the task.

First thing that must be said about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is that it was perfectly cast from top to bottom. Daniel Radcliffe shines in the title role. Emma Watson as Hermione and Rupert Grint as Ron complete the core trio. Their chemistry is perfect from the word go. Child actors can often be hit or miss. Here, the casting people hit a home run. The kids are surrounded by amazing actors in the adult roles: Richard Harris as Dumbledore, Maggie Smith as McGonagall, Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid and Alan Rickman as Snape. There’s not a weak link to be found.

But enough about the talent in the cast. Let’s talk about why the movie is such a success. It does a fantastic job of laying the foundation for the series. From Harry Potter being left to live with his cruel relatives the Dursleys at the beginning, Harry learning he’s a wizard when Hagrid comes to visit, to the establishment of all the people at Hogwarts we will come to know and love, this is a backstory handled beautifully.

The movie succeeds also because of its use of special effects. It would have been easy for a story like this rooted in the fantastical to get bogged down with bloated CGI. A great example of this is the scene where Harry, Ron and Hermione play a game of wizard chess with life size living chess pieces. It involves pyrotechnics, but that never overwhelms the scene. It feels very grounded in reality. The same thing can be said of the quidditch match. This is not a mindless action movie.

Another thing I love about the movie is its visuals. Hogwarts castle with its endless corridors, bewitched ceilings, moving staircases, talking paintings, etc. is an absolute wonder to behold.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a triumph that establishes a whole world we can’t wait to hear more stories about. There’s a danger with backstory movies. A lot of times the stories feel like they’re going through the motions just so we get to meet the characters but not experience much else. Here, we get the core trio growing into a tight knit group of friends.

And we get not just the fun and games of the wizarding world, but the dark side. There’s the story of how Harry’s parents died, the whole terrifying sequence in the Forbidden Forest and the real threat of Voldemort’s return. This is a fun movie, but it has a sharp edge to it. It’s a delicate balancing act.

So much could have gone wrong and the franchise could have been sunk. But thanks to a script that’s true to Rowling’s book, Chris Columbus’ direction and a gifted ensemble of actors, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a winner.

10 Thoughts I Had While Watching Cookie

This past weekend I watched Cookie for the first time. Here are 10 thoughts I had while watching it.

  1. Peter Falk is the cool uncle we all wish we had. 
  2. I don’t think this score could be anymore 80s if it tried.
  3. Don’t trust Segretto. That’s just my gut reaction to seeing Bob Gunton. Wonderful actor. But I always think of him as the corrupt prison warden in The Shawshank Redemption.
  4. “I’m practically the only person there who’s not an alien.” I’ve felt that way at many social gatherings.
  5. Wonder Bread wop is an insult I plan on working into future conversations.
  6. This is a strange prequel movie to The Sopranos
  7. The tone of this movie has shifted at least five times. Is it a comedy? Dramedy? Gangster movie? Not sure what they were going for.
  8. How many poor birds died for that hideous red feathered coat Cookie is wearing?
  9. Dianne Wiest’s character feels very underwritten. A shame since she’s a wonderful actress.
  10. I didn’t love that movie or hate it. It’s somewhere in the middle. There’s potential for a better movie with that cast and the premise.

10 Thoughts I Had While Watching Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

Continuing my series on thoughts I had while watching various movies, here are 10 I had while watching the cult classic Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

1. Not only is Harry cheating on Nancy, he’s doing so while she’s in rehab? He’s a real winner.

2. Say what you want about Nancy and Harry. But they have a great home bar.

3. Nancy went to the Lori Grimes school of driving.

4. Nancy doesn’t need Harry. She needs a good divorce lawyer.

5. Too bad the satellite they ran into wasn’t the Satellite of Love.

6. It takes a real prize of a husband to use the woman he’s cheating on his wife with as an alibi.

7. Too bad the satellite they ran into wasn’t the Satellite of Love.

8. Pretty sure the filmmakers blew the budget on cheesy special effects and the interior of the spaceship.

9. The sheriff has all the aim of a storm trooper.

10. That movie belongs in the pantheon of so bad it’s good movies with Plan 9 From Outer Space and Red Sonja.

10 Thoughts I Had While Watching Targets

This month I thought it would be fun to just write about thoughts I have watching movies. The first movie I selected is Targets. WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

1. It’s not a proper Boris Karloff movie without at least one scene in a haunted castle (including stock footage from past Karloff movies, as we get in this movie).

2. Bogdanovich is carrying on the tradition of directors appearing in their own movies. Little did Hitchcock realize what a trend he was starting when he made cameos.

3. You can tell a movie is from the 60s/70s if the size resembles a small boat.

4. Boris Karloff elevates any material he’s a part of. 

5. Great incorporation of footage from The Terror and The Criminal Code to pay homage to Karloff’s career.

6. The mass murder of his family comes out of nowhere. Sweet fancy Moses!

7. Why is Bobby tucking a corpse into bed? 

8. Seeing the drive-in theater reminds me how much I miss having one in my city.

9. Bobby is not a very bright criminal.

10. That ending with Karloff winning the day and stopping the sniper was utter perfection. Definitely not what I expected.

Movie Characters I’d Want To Be Quarantined With

Greetings, readers! I hope wherever you are that you are safe and healthy. While many of us self isolate, it got me thinking, which fictional characters would you like to be quarantined with? Below are my top 5. Feel free to suggest your own in the comments.

1. Shaun and Ed: Shaun of the Dead

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have been making us laugh on the big and small screen for some time now, going all the way back to their cult sitcom Spaced. If I had to be quarantined with someone, I’d want them to both be capable in an emergency and be fun to be locked up with for an extended period of time. Shaun and Ed from Shaun of the Dead would not only be able to roll with the punches, they’d know how to have a blast in even the most dire of circumstances.

2. Nick and Nora Charles: The Thin Man

If you’re going through a tough time, you might as well be cooped up with people who are witty. And, in the history of cinema, few people have been wittier than Nick and Nora Charles. The banter in quarantine would always be lively. Plus, we could have some great murder mystery dinner parties. That, and they’d bring their adorable dog Asta. Always good to have an emotional support animal.

3. Mark Cardigan: His Kind of Woman

Vincent Price is rightly remembered as a horror movie icon. But he did branch out when given the chance. Of all his non-horror characters, my favorite is Mark Cardigan from His Kind of Woman. Mark is an actor along the lines it Errol Flynn. He also has a wicked sense of humor and a great screening room at his cabin. I’d want to be quarantined with him not only for his devilish charm, but for the opportunity to be enjoying movies in a primo screening room.

4. Ellen Ripley: Alien

If I have to be cooped up for a while, I’d want someone to stay active with. And Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise would be an amazing workout buddy. We’d pass the time doing CrossFit and HIIT. Plus, she’s resourceful. That’s definitely a quality you want during dark times.

5. Alma : Pillow Talk

Thelma Ritter was one of the greatest character actresses of her time. She specializes in playing the loyal, no nonsense BFF of main characters. While it’s difficult to pick just one of her unforgettable characters, I would want her character from Pillow Talk to be my quarantine buddy. We’d have the best time swapping stories, enjoying a good drink every now and then and she’s probably have some great pearls of wisdom to share about life. I’d come out of quarantine a happier and wiser person.

Movies To Get You Through The Coronavirus Pandemic

These are scary times we live in. With the Coronavirus pandemic, many of us will at some point have to self quarantine. The good news is classic movies are always there for you. Here’s one movie to watch a day if you end up stuck at home for 14 days.

Day 1. The Wizard of Oz

It’s day one of being stuck at home. You want nothing more to escape. What better way to do that than go with Dorothy Gale as she wanders through the magical land of Oz? The Wizard of Oz is over 75 years old and hasn’t lost one bit of magic.

Day 2. His Girl Friday

On day two you’re starting to get stir crazy and just need a laugh. Few movies pack more laughs per minute than His Girl Friday. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell shine on this quintessential screwball comedy as exes who are reunited when Russell’s character comes to the newspaper office to tell Grant she’s getting remarried. They end up working on a news story in the process and hilarity ensues.

Day 3. Lilo & Stitch

Disney movies are a great way to relive your childhood or just pleasantly escape for a few hours. One of the most underrated Disney movies of the last few decades is Lilo & Stitch. The animation is bright and colorful. The story is not a traditional Disney one by any means. Stitch is an alien who escapes intergalactic prison and crashes in Hawaii. Eventually he crosses paths with little Lilo. Lilo adopts him at the local animal shelter. Stitch eventually becomes a full member of the family. But there are bumps along the way. The relationship between Lilo and her sister, who’s trying to hold down a job and raise Lilo after they lose their parents, tugs at the heart strings she feels very relatable. This movie is heartfelt with great humor and a fun soundtrack.

Day 4. 28 Days Later

You’re likely thinking this is a typo. Why would anyone want to watch a zombie apocalypse movie during a pandemic? Hear me out. This movie is on the list because it could give you perspective. Sure I’m stuck at home. But it could be worse. I could be getting chased by zombies too. Either that or it could be educational if things worsen and you need survival tips.

Day 6. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Want to help your time in self quarantine really fly by? Then put on The Lord of the Rings. Binge watch them all in a day. Bonus points if you watch the extended editions. The reason I included this on the list (besides it being my favorite book and movie trilogy ever) is that it teaches us to never lose hope.

Day 7. Casablanca

This is probably the least surprising choice on the list. Casablanca is not only a great movie (the greatest ever IMHO), it’s the comfort food of movies. From the great dialogue to the relatable characters, this is a cinematic experience never to be missed. And, for me, every time I watch it a bit of my faith in humanity is restored.

Day 8. Laura

Another good way to get through the pain of being isolated is to distract yourself with a good mystery. And Laura is one of the best. A completely involving thriller, it’s one of the best examples of film noir. Plus you get Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney and Vincent Price. You can’t beat that trio.

Day 9. Singin’ In The Rain

If you’re feeling gloomy, put on Singin’ In The Rain. I guarantee your mood will improve. The songs, the choreography, the script…everything about this movie is perfection. And it’s not just because of the title number with Gene Kelly dancing through the puddles and hanging from that lamppost. The joy on display is simply infectious. Lord knows the world needs more of that.

Day 10. The Shawshank Redemption

Here we go. Another movie about not giving up hope. But the reason I selected this one is that it’s not only a great movie. It shows people surviving over a period of time. It’s rare we get to see a story cover so much of people’s lives. In this case it’s the lives of two prisoners played by Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. Watching their friendship grow and how they keep each other from giving up is a message that resonates over 25 years after the movie’s release.

Day 11. Raiders of the Lost Ark

This to me along with Star Wars are the two greatest examples of pure escapism in the history of movies. Raiders is one great action sequence after another. While most action movies lose steam halfway through, this one doesn’t. The energy never falls off. Steven Spielberg directs action like nobody’s business. Plus you get Harrison Ford in his prime. This movie is a complete win.

Day 12. The Cameraman

I have a confession to make. I’m a big fan of Buster Keaton. Plus, I had to include at least one silent movie on my list. It follows the misadventures of Buster Shannon (Keaton), a clumsy person who attempts to become a motion picture cameraman. Why? To get a girl of course. The girl is question works for MGM Newsreels. It’s one of my favorite meet cute movies.

Day 13. Young Frankenstein

There sure are a lot of comedies on my list. That’s likely because laughter has always gotten me through tough times. I’m a huge fan of the Universal monster movies. Young Frankenstein is a loving parody of them. While Gene Wilder gets most of the attention for his performance, and rightfully so, I want to give some love to the supporting cast. My two favorites are Madeline Kahn as Gene Wilder’s fiancée and Peter Boyle as the monster. Boyle’s performance often gets overlooked. But, like Karloff, the actor he was paying homage to, Boyle brings real humanity to the monster. And he does it all with few lines of dialogue.

Day 14. The Right Stuff

We’ve taken the space program for granted of late. And that’s a shame. To regain your appreciation for NASA, put on the film version of The Right Stuff. An absolutely absorbing telling of the stories of the Mercury astronauts and the early days oh the space program, it’s one of the most exhilarating movies ever made. It shows not only the heroism but the very human sides of the astronauts. And if the end of the movie doesn’t get you emotional in a good way, I don’t know what will.

Worst Movies I’ve Seen In My Lifetime (So Far)

Greetings, readers! We’ve all watched movies that didn’t meet our expectations. Just for the fun of it, I put together a list of the top 5 (maybe it should be bottom?) worst movies I have seen.

1. Snakes On A Plane

I love Samuel L. Jackson. And I don’t blame him for the cinematic dumpster fire that was Snakes On A Plane. But…damn was this a painful viewing experience! If this had been a short subject movie or something, fine. This could have been a fun B-movie. But there wasn’t enough in the film’s premise to make it a remotely involving story. Samuel L. Jackson almost saves it with his delivery of the movie’s most famous line. Almost.

2. Manos The Hands of Fate

Fans of the TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000 will remember this one. It follows a family who gets lost on a road trip and stumble upon an underground devil-worshiping cult. Road trips gone awry have been the foundation for many great horror movies: The Hills Have Eyes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,etc. Manos is not one of them. I can take a bad movie if it’s entertainingly bad. Manos is just excruciating. It doesn’t even try to be a remotely competent movie. It’s unwatchable without the MST3K commentary.

3. Punk Vacation

I love a good biker gang movie as much as the next person. But Punk Vacation is not one of them. This movie is so bad that it makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Citizen Kane. It starts off as an intriguing enough revenge flick. The owner of a diner in a small California town is brutally murdered. His oldest daughter seeks revenge on the punks responsible. Instead she gets abducted by the gang and a fight breaks out between the punks and the local rednecks. I didn’t expect this to be an exceptional movie. But it’s not even remotely competent. The punks are the least convincing ones I’ve seen in a movie. And the rednecks are recycled stereotypical characters.

4. The Green Slime

I’ll say this much for The Green Slime: it has a very catchy title song. That’s honestly the best part of this hilariously cheesy science fiction flick. Scientists go to destroy an asteroid headed for Earth. They’re successful. But, in the process, they bring back a mysterious green substance. It mutates into a multi tentacled creature that feeds off of electricity and runs amok. Part of the plot sounds like Armageddon. And, as ridiculous as The Green Slime is, it’s Casablanca compared to Armageddon.

5. Red Sonja

And now we come to my favorite bad movie: Red Sonja. It’s a sword and sorcery story that has some of the most hilarious dialogue ever committed to film. These are actual lines from the movie:

-You are mad! The talisman will destroy you.

-In order to be a great swordsmen, you must have a great sword.

The plot is pretty straightforward. Red Sonja is out to avenge the death of her family that case at the hands of Queen Gedren. Red Sonja is so bad that it’s good. If you choose to watch one movie from my list, make it Red Sonja. It’s my favorite guilty pleasure movie. And the score by Ennio Morricone is quite good.