Tag Archives: retro reviews

Retro Reviews: The Incredibles

While every other site offers you reviews of the most current movies in theaters, someone needs to step in to review the movies that came out 10+ years ago. So hop on into Doc Brown’s Delorean with me, and let’s see what cinema has already offered…

A few weeks ago, Pixar announced plans for The Incredibles 2, with writer/director Brad Bird back at the helm. I have been uncharacteristically silent on this subject, as I’ve really just been waiting for the penny to drop, and Disney to reveal that this was just an April Fool’s Day prank that some intern accidentally pulled the trigger on 13 days early. But all evidence so far seems to suggest that we are, at long last, getting a sequel to one of the best superhero movies ever.

With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the original, 2004’s The Incredibles.

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Retro Reviews: Unbreakable

While every other site offers you reviews of the most current movies in theaters, someone needs to step in to review the movies that came out 10+ years ago. So hop on into the Wayback Machine with me, and let’s see what cinema has already offered…

Today’s my birthday, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to review one of my favorite films – which also happens to be another Samuel L. Jackson superhero movie (kind of) – Unbreakable.

For those who may not know, Unbreakable was M. Night Shyamalan’s first film after The Sixth Sense (this was back before he lost his mind and talent), but surprisingly few people seem to remember it. I actually think it’s a stronger film than The Sixth Sense in a lot of ways, but then again I am much more the target demographic for this film.

More after the jump.

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Retro Reviews: When Harry Met Sally

While every other site offers you reviews of the most current movies in theaters, someone needs to step in to review the movies that came out 10+ years ago. So hop on into the Wayback Machine with me, and let’s see what cinema has already offered…

Today marks the release of Part One of Lars Von Trier’s controversial film Nymphomaniac – the tagline for which is “Forget about love” (y’know, because of all the sex). With that film undoubtedly garnering some attention and criticism for what could be called a “bold” take on relationships, I thought this might be a good time to offer you an alternate option to watch people struggle with the balance of love and sex – and in this case, also laugh your butt off – with When Harry Met Sally.

Some people dismiss When Harry Met Sally right away, because they think it’s a “chick flick”. They’re not entirely wrong – it was, in fact, written by a woman, Nora Ephron, who went on to write several other “chick flicks” (Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, Julie and Julia). It also co-stars a woman. So, if those are what constitute a chick flick, then yes, that’s what this is. But it’s also a very well-crafted comedy that speaks to the differences between men and women – both perceived and real – and to the challenges of building relationships in the modern day.

There’s an interesting theme throughout the film where the characters talk about how culture and society – and especially romance – has changed over the years. This is made especially pronounced by the fact that we watch a relationship between two friends mature and develop over the course of more than a decade.

This also, to my mind, makes it one of the truest relationships in film. As I’ve evidenced previously, I’ve given some thought to ideas of a friendship that harbors true affection. We aren’t seeing two strangers meet and immediately fall in love like in most romantic comedies; Harry and Sally spend years transitioning from acquaintances to friends before they begin to become anything more serious. And while several of the scenes play out very similarly to what you’d see in a traditional romantic comedy, it feels more genuine because we’ve spent a lot more time earning those moments.

This film also presents theories like people being “high-maintenance” or the “transitional person” between relationships, but they were being presented for the first time. This film broke ground in a lot of ways, chiefly by raising a discussion question that plagues the characters throughout the film: “Can men and women ever just be friends?”

The series finale for How I Met Your Mother airs this Monday, bringing to a close a nine-season run, and that was a show filled with theories about relationships – the “hot / crazy scale,” the “three-day rule,” “crazy eyes” and more – but we would have none of that without the original, When Harry Met Sally.

Retro Reviews: Galaxy Quest

While every other site offers you reviews of the most current movies in theaters, someone needs to step in to review the movies that came out 10+ years ago. So hop on into the Wayback Machine with me, and let’s see what cinema has already offered…

With the new Star Trek movie blowing up the big screen, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at the greatest Star Trek movie of all time: Galaxy Quest.

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My friend Chris Larsen often says Galaxy Quest is a perfect film because it appeals to everybody: If you are a Star Trek fan, you’ll love this movie; if you like making fun of Star Trek fans, you’ll love this movie. That may be a bit of an oversimplification, but I think it definitely speaks to what works about the movie. Galaxy Quest is certainly a parody of Star Trek, but it’s not malicious or cynical – there is a genuine love of Star Trek evident at every turn. That said, you certainly don’t need any knowledge or backstory about Star Trek to enjoy the film; that’s what makes it work as well as it does.

The film is about the cast of a sci-fi show (the eponymous “Galaxy Quest”) who are stuck going from one convention appearance to another, with no real prospects past the next autograph table. But when real space aliens mistakenly believe the TV series to be “historical documents,” they recruit the “crew” to help them fight off a genuine evil… and hilarity ensues.

Every cast member is pitch-perfect. Tim Allen is terrific as the William Shatner-analogue. Alan Rickman is fantastic as the former respected theater actor now forced to wear a rubber fin on his head and repeat meaningless catchphrases for every sweaty fanboy. Sigourney Weaver is terrific as the only woman on the crew (whose character has absolutely no useful function on the series), Tony Shalhoub is wonderfully deadpan as his character takes everything in stride, and Sam Rockwell is an absolute delight as the expendable extra shipmate who is painfully aware of the dangers that await undeveloped characters like his own (a terrific send-up of Trek’s ill-fated “red-shirts”).

While the new Star Trek films are terrific spectacle, and some of the older ones like Wrath of Khan or First Contact are certainly classics, Galaxy Quest is maybe the most faithful adaptation of the Star Trek TV series itself, and finds not just the humor inherent in sci-fi fandom, but a great deal of heart as well.

Also, you’ll never again hear someone say “Never give up” without wanting to finish the slogan: “Never surrender.”