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Star Wars

Star Wars is one of the best movies of all time. It might have been officially renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, but it will always be Star Wars. George Lucas was a genius once, and this was his directorial highlight. Some people will say Empire Strikes Back is better, and I will tell them that Irvin Kershner directed Episode V, and that maybe they should shut the fuck up and let the real nerds talk about Star Wars.

There are three types of people in the world. People who have seen Star Wars and love it, people who have seen Star Wars and hate it, and people who have never seen Star Wars. The people who either love or hate Star Wars can agree on one thing: you are a freak if you haven’t seen Star Wars. I don’t even know how it’s possible to have not seen Star Wars at this point. It practically is pop culture.

Even if you haven’t seen Star Wars you know that Luke Skywalker has some sort of beef with Darth Vader. You know that Han Solo has a man-dog friend named Chewbacca. And you know that Princess Leia has cinnamon buns for hair. You also know the basic plot: a boy must grow up and face his destiny and embarks on the classic hero’s quest. There’s the everyman, the rogue shifty ally, the damsel in distress, the old wizard/mentor, and the villain with a powerful weapon. There are swords, knights, honor/chivalry, and space ships, robots, and aliens. And don’t forget about the fucking lightsabers, bro.

Star Wars was supposed to be a flop. The idea was so ambitious and the technology was so limited, it didn’t seem like it could possibly be a success. But the story and characters resonated with the audience. John Williams created music as iconic as the visuals on the screen. The world was changed. This was the first true sci-fi blockbuster. Movies are supposed to be an escape. Star Wars took you to a whole new universe and the movie stays with you long after you see it. Some people devote their lives to Star Wars. I can’t blame them because reality bites but Star Wars is awesome.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Lion King

The Lion King is one of the best animated films of all time. It is Disney’s best Pixar-less movie. It’s about a lion named Simba, and Simba is in line to be the king of the Pride Lands. Instead his uncle murders his father and takes over the throne. Simba must avenge his father and assume the throne, but first he runs away to live with a warthog and a meerkat and eat bugs.

The story starts with Mufasa and Sarabi celebrating the birth of their baby by having a monkey dangle him from a high rock over hundreds of wild animals. The baby is Simba, and one day he will be the Lion King, but for now he’s just a curious cub. He spends his days frolicking with and getting beat up by his friend Nala. His uncle is evil and wants to be king. His name is Scar and he has a scar. The writers either ran out of African names to use or just got really lazy. Either way, Scar keeps trying to kill Simba and/or Mufasa (whichever comes first). One day, after Simba and Nala barely escape Scar’s hyena henchmen, Mufasa tells him about the circle of life, how one day he will die and Simba will become king, and a bunch of other life lessons.

Scar eventually succeeds in killing Mufasa, and he makes Simba think that it was his fault. Simba decides to run away instead of dealing with his problems. Simba almost dies but he gets saved by Timon and Pumba. Timon is a sarcastic meerkat and Pumba is a stupid, smelly warthog. They decide to take in Simba and they teach him about Hakuna Matata and how to live a carefree life.

Simba grows up with them, but he can’t forget his past. One day, his old pal Nala shows up on their turf looking for food. Simba and Nala are ecstatic to see each other again and sparks fly. Nala is surprised to learn that Simba is still alive, and Simba is surprised to learn that Scar has taken over the throne and the kingdom is suffering. Nala tells Simba to get his shit together and claim the crown that’s rightfully his. Simba still thinks that he killed his dad and doesn’t want to go back and deal with his inner demons.

But then he talks to a monkey and a cloud that looks and sounds like his dead dad and he decides to go back. Timon and Pumba decide they have to help their friend and they hitch a ride back with Nala.

Simba confronts Scar and finds out the truth about Scar killing his dad and Simba learns it wasn’t his fault. Stuff happens and Simba emerges victorious and becomes the Lion King. And then he and Nala have a baby lion and the circle of life goes on.

If you haven’t seen The Lion King in a while, it’s worth revisiting. The plot is clichéd and tired and not at all unique. But it’s the characters and the dialog and the songs that make this a classic. The opening sequence sucks you in, and you know that you’re going to experience something special in this film. There are a lot of animal puns hidden in the dialog and song lyrics. Tim Rice and Elton John’s songs are great and enhance the movie, along with Hans Zimmer’s score.

The voice cast is pretty impressive. Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick play young and old Simba. James Earl Jones plays Mufasa, Rowan Atkinson (A.K.A. Mr. Bean) plays Zazu, Jeremy Irons plays Scar, Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella play Timon and Pumba, and Cheech Marin and Whoopi Goldberg play hyenas. They originally wanted Tommy Chong to play one of the hyenas. Cheech and Chong in a Disney movie? There would have been way more jokes about the grasslands, that’s for sure. We missed out.

This is an awesome movie and it’s like a time machine that takes you back to when you used to watch it as a kid. You remember where you watched it, who you watched it with, you remember singing those damn songs, and trying not to cry when Mufasa dies.

This movie doesn’t have a great story. But it has great moments. It has great music. It has a great cast. It has great visuals. When you add those attributes up, it makes The Lion King better than what it should be. It’s now one of those movies that you have to see. If you haven’t seen The Lion King people look at you funny. No childhood is complete without seeing this movie. If you haven’t seen it by this point, you are probably going out of your way to avoid it, and that’s sad because you deserve a childhood.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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Coming to America

John Landis directs Eddie Murphy in Coming to America. This is Eddie Murphy’s best movie, hands down. Eddie Murphy plays an African prince who comes to America in search of a bride. He brings his faithful manservant along, and hilarity ensues. Contrary to popular belief, Eddie Murphy does not play every single role in the movie. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall each play four characters though. That’s a lot of comedy.

Murphy plays Prince Akeem. Arsenio Hall plays Semmi, his servant and friend. They come to Queens and land jobs at a McDonald’s clone called McDowell’s. Akeem falls for his boss’s daughter, but she already has a boyfriend. He keeps his regal status a secret, and eventually Lisa begins to notice him.

She gets rid of her boyfriend, and Akeem and Lisa start a relationship. Akeem’s parents show up, she finds out that he’s a prince, and she gets mad that he lied about being a goat herder and breaks up with him. Um, ok, why not? He goes back to Africa, and has to take part in an arranged marriage. When he lifts up his mystery bride’s veil, he sees that it is Lisa! Oh, what a happy ending.

This is a good movie with a good cast. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall are at the top of their game, each playing multiple characters, and each one is funny. Eddie Murphy carries the movie, but it wouldn’t have been half as good without Arsenio Hall. They play off each other well; they should have made more movies together. James Earl Jones plays Akeem’s father, the King of Zamunda. Samuel L. Jackson, Louie Anderson and Cuba Gooding, Jr. have cameos. Shari Headley plays Lisa. She’s stunningly beautiful and I wonder why her career didn’t take off.

Eddie Murphy gets credit for coming up with the story, and David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein wrote the screenplay. Or did they? A guy named Art Buchwald wrote a script treatment for an Eddie Murphy vehicle in 1982. It went into development hell for a few years, and eventually was shelved. And then they made it in 1988 and Buchwald sued them. They settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Pretty shady, but I think the studio is more to blame than Eddie Murphy.

This is a cult classic. It gave the world Sexual Chocolate and Soul Glow. It gave Eddie Murphy the idea he could do anything. It gave you a reason to forgive Eddie Murphy for shit like Pluto Nash and Norbit, and that’s saying something.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Field of Dreams

– “Is this Heaven?”

-“No, it’s Idaho.”

 

The fact that you are red in the face and screaming “IOWA, IDIOT!” just goes to show you how memorable this movie is. It is definitely Kevin Costner’s most quoted baseball movie. “If you build it, he will come.” Classic line. “Ease his pain.” Another classic line.  And anything James Earl Jones says is classic from “Moonlight Graham” to his “People will come” speech.

This is a great feel good family film. It deals with family, faith, hope, and baseball. Baseball brings us together, and this film proves it. I never played catch with my dad (he wasn’t the athletic type). But we did watch this movie together, and that was almost as good.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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