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Your Favorite Movie

Most people have a favorite movie. You’re weird if you don’t. Almost everybody has a movie that they grew up watching. You know every scene by heart, you can quote every line, and you could watch it almost every day without getting sick of it. Sometimes it’s not even a good movie, it might even be a terrible movie, but it reminds you of your childhood, of sunny days, and it can comfort you like a security blanket. The sentimental value is through the roof. You can tell a lot about a person from their favorite movie. If you meet a set of twins and one of them loves The Sandlot and the other one loves The Human Centipede, then you know right off the bat which one is the evil twin. Your favorite movie is a reflection of you. Choose wisely.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Gymkata (terrible, terrible film)

Gymkata is one of those movies that is so bad that you can’t stop watching it. You know right away that it sucks. And it just gets worse and worse until it reaches its sucky ending. At first you’re glad that it’s over. Then you get mad at yourself for wasting 90 minutes of your life. So you decide to recommend it to a friend so you can ruin their life too. I guess that’s what I’m doing with this article right now.

Olympic gymnast Jonathan Cabot (played by real life Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas) gets recruited by the Special Intelligence Agency for a special mission. The SIA wants Cabot to go to the fictional country of Parmistan to compete in the Game. The Game is a race through an obstacle course in which the contestants must compete against each other and the Parmistanian warriors. Whoever wins gets a wish granted by the Parmistan government. The SIA wants Cabot to win and ask to build a satellite monitoring station for the US. They also tell him that his missing father is really an SIA agent who disappeared trying to accomplish the same mission.

Cabot decides use his gymnast skills and join Team America. Then they have the obligatory training sequences and he also meets the beautiful Princess Rubali of Parmistan. He starts learning how to fight and combines the deadly art of Karate with the graceful homoeroticsm of men’s gymnastics to create his own style: Gymkata. He uses his Gymkata skills to get some smooches from the Princess.

Cabot goes to Parmistan to play the Game, and there’s a lot of fight scenes along the way. Bad fight scenes that show off his Gymkata skills. He flips around and makes sure that his toes are pointed when he kicks people.

In the midst of all the random fights, there’s some stupid subplot about a guy named Zamir who wants to take over Parmistan and marry the Princess. She doesn’t want to do that because her dad is the King, and she loves Cabot for some reason. Zamir runs the Game and that’s not good for Cabot.

The Game begins and eventually Cabot is the only player left. Just as he’s about to get killed by the creepy villagers he gets saved by a Parmistani warrior who turns about to be Cabot’s dad. The reunion is short-lived because Papa Cabot gets shot by an arrow.

Cabot and Zamir have their final showdown. Zamir is defeated. Cabot is the winner and gets himself a Princess girlfriend. And the SIA gets their wish and the film assures us that “In 1985 The First Early Warning Earth Station Was Built In Parmistan For The U.S. Star Wars Defense Program.” Seriously, that’s how the movie ends. It was propaganda the whole time, just a commercial for Reagan’s crazy dream to stop missiles with lasers fired from space stations.

This movie is terrible. The plot is terrible. The acting is terrible. Kurt Thomas looks like a young Jack Bauer with a mullet. But Kiefer Sutherland knows how to act and no one in Gymkata does. Kurt Thomas relies on gymnastics and exaggerated sound effects to knock down bad guys. At one point he fights dozens of angry villagers on a pommel horse. I’m still trying to figure out why the Parmistanis would have a pommel horse in their town square.

This movie sucks. Don’t take my word for it. Watch it for yourself. It’s terrible, but you might like it. It’s so bad it’s good. It’s like Showgirls but with no nudity and worse acting. This might not be the worst movie of all time, but it’s a candidate.

Critically Rated at 4/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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X-Men: The Last Stand

The X-Men are back on the big screen for the third time and Brett Ratner does everything he can to ruin everything that Bryan Singer tried to accomplish with this trilogy. Most of the main characters from the first two movies reprise their roles, but there are way too many characters to give anyone a decent amount of screen time. The end result is a bunch of mutants running around fighting each other but you don’t give a fuck about who is fighting or why.

The movie starts twenty years before the events of the main story, a middle-aged Charles Xavier and Magneto meet with a Class 5 mutant named Jean Grey. They have a brief discussion about how powerful Jean in, and whether or not she will control her power or if it will control her. The movie jumps ahead another ten years to a young Warren Worthington III as he tries to hide his mutant wings from his disapproving father.

The movie jumps to the present day as Worthington Labs announces a cure for the mutant gene. This causes a huge rift in the mutant community. Some mutants want the cure and others view it as a form of extermination. Magneto uses it as a chance to recruit more mutants to join his side. He recruits Callisto, Psylocke, Arclight, and Kid Omega (who should be named Quill, but whatever, details aren’t important).

Meanwhile the X-Men have lost Jean Grey from the events of the second movie, and Cyclops still hasn’t gotten over losing her. Shadowcat (Ellen Page) and Colossus have bigger roles on the team, and Beast (Kelsey Grammer) also joins the X-Men. Cyclops is all emo and goes to Alkali Lake and Jean reappears and the two are reunited. The joyous reunion is short-lived because Jean Grey is no longer Jean Grey, now she is the Phoenix.

Magneto keeps on recruiting more mutants to his cause. When he frees Mystique from her mobile prison, he also frees the Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) and the Multiple Man. They join the Brotherhood of Mutants without any persuasion, as soon as they are introduced they are recruited. How convenient. When Magneto and his posse go to recruit the Phoenix/Jean Grey, they bump into Xavier and a few X-Men who have the same idea. Magneto and Xavier both try to persuade her to join their side and Xavier ends up getting disintegrated.

The X-Men are without their leader and Magneto gets ready for an assault on Worthington Labs to destroy the cure. The remaining X-Men (Wolverine, Storm, Beast, Iceman, Colossus, and Shadowcat) form their last stand and try to defend the island. There is a mutant battle and mutants fight and mutants die. Jean momentarily regains control of herself and asks Wolverine to kill her and the Phoenix and he does even though he doesn’t want to.

There’s a scene after the credits where it’s hinted that Xavier has transferred his consciousness to a comatose guy. If genes are responsible for mutation, this new body shouldn’t have any powers, just throwing that out there.

There are a lot more mutants in this movie than in the previous two. They add mutants without establishing who they are. Callisto, Kid Omega, Psylocke, Arclight, Multiple Man, and the Juggernaut are all new mutants and they don’t waste anytime trying to establish their characters. They literally come onscreen, say their name and mention their powers and pledge their allegiance to Magneto. Super lazy writing.

The  X-Men are also treated like an afterthought. Cyclops is barely in the movie. Rogue’s character is completely wasted. She never even obtained the ability to fly like she did in the comics… she voluntarily gets the cure and stops being a mutant. Xavier dies simply for shock value. Colossus is on the team for the whole movie, but he has fewer lines than he did in five minutes that he was in the second movie. And where the fuck is Nightcrawler? Adding Beast was a nice touch, but you couldn’t have another blue mutant on the team?

The worst addition to the franchise was Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Angel (Ben Foster). They introduce his character in the beginning, he has a dramatic escape from being forcibly given the cure by his dad, he comes to the mansion for sanctuary, and he saves his dad from falling. That’s his arc. He doesn’t join the X-Men. He doesn’t fight. He just wastes screen time and keeps other characters from getting developed.

The first two movies balanced action who deeper themes of acceptance, of tolerance, of being proud of who you are… this movie is just noise and fireworks. Ratner takes all the characters that Singer established and ruins them. He takes all the care and thought and attention to detail and casts it aside. He doesn’t care that the first two movies were foreshadowing something great, he wants explosions and meaningless special effects. And he delivers. This movie looks awesome. It’s just not coherent and the story sucks and any decent performances by the actors are lost in the chaos. This is a terrible way to end a great trilogy.

Critically Rated at 8/17

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White Water Summer

Long before Kevin Bacon was a creepy guy on The River Wild, he was a creepy guy in White Water Summer. White Water Summer is about a kid named Alan (played by a young Sean Astin), and a few other kids who go on an extended backpacking trip with an older guide name Vic (played by Kevin Bacon). Vic uses the trip to teach the kids valuable life lessons, but in dangerous and careless ways. Alan has a problem with this, and the two of them butt heads and the tension between them rises.

Sean Astin narrates the movie in an extensive interview that’s intercut throughout the film. It’s very jarring, especially because it was filmed two years after the rest of the movie. He looks way older, is sitting on a chair in the woods,  he’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and it seems like a blatant rip-off of Ferris Bueller or something. It doesn’t suit the tone of the movie.

The bulk of the movie is filmed outdoors. It makes you want to go camping. There are a lot of cool scenes and shots of them hiking and canoeing, and it makes you want to get outside too.

Vic tries to teach the boys to respect nature. He just wants them to respect it the same way that he does. He teaches them fishing techniques, but gets mad when Alan does things his own, more effective way. Vic wants the boys to become men, he just does it in an over the top manner. Alan is just a little whiney bitch who thinks that he is the shit because he is a teenager. Granted Vic is fucked up in the head, but his heart is in the right place. Alan is stubborn and unwilling to listen to a point of view that differs from his own.

There is a part of the movie where the boys and Vic part ways. The boys all end up huddled together, sleeping on the ground, some of them using their sleeping bags as pillows. WTF? Did it not dawn on any of the actors, producers, writers or director to have them actually sleep in the sleeping bags? Seriously, that shit bugs me more than any nitpicky thing I’ve seen in any movie. FUCKING SLEEP IN YOUR SLEEPING BAG, THAT’S WHAT IT IS FUCKING FOR.

So anyway, at one point Vic breaks his leg, and Alan must use his wilderness skills to get him safely off the mountain. It is a very anti-climactic ending. Vic doesn’t go totally crazy, and Alan never kills him in self-defense. The whole movie builds up a tension that only escalates into a mutual respect for each other. This is America, we want violence and death.

This is a lame movie. It is not a classic. It is not very good. I am only writing about this because I saw it on HBO a few weeks ago and was duped into watching the whole thing. If this is your favorite movie, I am pretty sure that we are not friends.

Critically Rated at 3/17

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