Movie Review – Fantastic Voyage (1966)

Imagine if medical science advanced to the point where surgeons could operate on a person from *inside* of their body.

That’s basically the premise behind 1966’s hit science-fiction film, Fantastic Voyage.

In Fantastic Voyage, a team of surgeons is miniaturized inside of a special submersible that is sent inside of a scientist’s body.  It’s a race against time to not only battle the hostile environment of the human body, but to also reach the critical injury and repair it, all while racing a clock as well as dealing with somebody sabotaging the mission.

Fantastic Voyage (1966) - movie poster

Fantastic Voyage (1966) – movie poster

Directed by Richard Fleischer, Fantastic Voyage stars Stephen Boyd as Charles GrantSupporting him in the film are Raquel Welch as Cora Peterson and Donald Pleasence as Dr. Michaels.

Fantastic Voyage (1966) - (c) 20th Century Fox

Fantastic Voyage (1966) – (c) 20th Century Fox

Fantastic Voyage begins with scientist Dr. Jan Benes (Jean Del Val) fleeing from the Soviets and eventually reaching the United States.  However, just after he arrives in the U.S, Benes’s car is attacked by assassins, and Benes is critically injured.  He quickly develops a dangerous blood clot inside of his brain, and the condition will kill him if it’s left untreated.  The only problem is that the type of surgery required to remove the clot is incredibly dangerous. Read more…

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - August 5, 2015 at 10:33 pm

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Book Review – James Rollins’ “The Judas Strain”

Today we’re taking a look at The Judas Strain, the fourth book in James Rollins‘ thrilling SIGMA Series novels.

Released in 2007, The Judas Strain takes readers on an adventure as a team of specialized scientists and warriors tracks the origins of a deadly plague.  It’s a quest that circles around the world and dates back to the travels of one of Europe’s most celebrated explorers — Marco Polo.

James Rollins --- The Judas Strain

James Rollins — The Judas Strain

The Judas Strain begins with a brief prologue in the year 1293.  On the island of Sumatra in southeastern Asia, a terrifying disease wipes out most of Marco Polo‘s crew and companions.  It’s a disease so horrifying that its discussion was carefully removed from Marco Polo’s journal after he returned to Italy two years later.

Fast forward to today.

SIGMA Commander Gray Pierce is spending some time in Maryland with his parents when he’s suddenly paid a visit by a dangerous advisory from his past —- Seichan, a member of The Guild, a dangerous international terrorist organization.  She’s been shot, her pursuers are still in the area, and Seichan is carrying a very important artifact, an artifact that has already cost a person his life back in the Vatican.

Gray is forced to allow his parents to join him as he tries to drive Seichan to a safe area.  Their car is pursued by Seichan’s attackers, but Gray is able to lose them in a forest.  He takes them to a SIGMA safe house in the nearby area.  Things aren’t what they seem as The Guild (disguised as an ambulance crew) tries to ambush the gang.  Gray, Seichen, and SIGMA operator Joe Kowalski are forced to flee as Gray’s parents are captured and taken prisoner. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - August 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm

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Movie Review – The Country Bears (2002)

Today we’re taking a look at 2002’s The Country Bears, a Disney live-action film based on the popular Country Bear Jamboree animatronic show in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland.

When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, one of its original attractions was Country Bear Jamboree, an animatronic stage show featuring a large cast of musical hillbilly bears.  The show was a hit as the audiences adored the music as well as the loveable bears and their humorous antics.  Country Bear Jamboree was later added to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as well as Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, but it was ultimately removed from the California theme park in 2001.

Released in 2002, The Country Bears was the second theatrical Disney film based on an attraction in one of the theme parks (the first theatrical film was 2000’s Mission to Mars).  The Country Bears involves a young bear named Beary Barrington, and his quest to discover his true place in the world.  He finds the old Country Bears band members and convinces them to reunite and play at a fundraiser to save Country Bear Hall, their old concert venue that has fallen behind on its bills.

The Country Bears (2002) - movie poster

The Country Bears (2002) – movie poster

Directed by Peter Hastings, The Country Bears stars Haley Joel Osment as the voice of Beary Barrington, a young bear who lives with an adopted family of humans, and Christopher Walken as Reed Thimple, a banker who’s plotting to destroy Country Bear Hall.  Other actors in this film include Diedrich Bader, Darly Mitchell, Brad Garrett, and a host of celebrity cameos.

The Country Bears (2002) - (c) Buena Vista Pictures

The Country Bears (2002) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures

The Country Bears begins with a brief overview of the The Country Bears, an all-bear country rock band that broke up in 1991.  The footage includes the bears singing “Let It Ride” (a good song, by the way) at what we presume to be one of their final concerts.

Fast forward years later. Read more…

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 24, 2015 at 12:55 pm

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Movie Review – Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

How far would you go to find something that you have loved and lost?

That’s basically the premise for 1985’s classic film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.  In Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, somebody steals Pee-wee Herman’s prized bicycle, and Pee-wee embarks on a zany adventure to reclaim it.  His quest takes him through exotic lands in the American Southwest, and it ends with a mad chase through a movie studio in Hollywood.

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) - movie poster

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) – movie poster

Directed by Tim Burton in his directorial debut, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure stars Paul Reubens in the lead role of Pee-wee Herman.  Supporting him are Elizabeth Daily in the role of Dottie, Mark Holton as Francis Buxton, and Diane Salinger as Simone.

Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) - (c) Warner Bros.

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) – (c) Warner Bros.

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure begins with Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) riding his prized bicycle in a bike race.  It turns out that he’s competing in the prestigious Tour de France race.  The race ends and Pee-wee finishes in first place.  Just as he’s about to be crowned as the winner, an alarm sounds and the crowd quickly scatters.

It’s revealed that Pee-wee was only dreaming.  He wakes up, crawls out of bed, and begins his day with his playful antics.  Pee-wee has elaborate contraptions cook his breakfast while he finishes preparing for his day.  After a quick meal he goes outside and unlocks his bicycle from a secret hiding place. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 22, 2015 at 10:50 pm

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How Much Money Does It Cost These Days To Watch Sports on Television?

Last weekend I had the desire to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday.

I knew that it was that time in the season for NBC to take over coverage of the races.

Okay.  No problem.  I’ll just check the local NBC channel and . . . . . . . there’s no race coverage.

Strange.  I’ll check it again.  Maybe it’s a race on the west coast and it has a later start time.

Nope.  There’s no mention of any NASCAR race at all on NBC on Sunday.  That’s rather peculiar since the local NBC channel has been covering races in the second half of the season for years now.

Just for fun I decided to do a search for “NASCAR” in the program guide for television.  Sure enough, it was listed.  It was being broadcast live on an NBC channel.  The only problem was that the race was being broadcast on NBCSN, NBC’s premium channel that they use for live sports.  As you can guess, my wife and I don’t receive that channel.  We just have a basic package with Dish Network.

So no NASCAR races for me while they’re being broadcast on NBCSN.  That’s not really a problem as NASCAR has been going downhill for a while now, and it’s actually difficult to sit and watch a race from start to finish.  These days I’ve mainly had the races on television as a background noise while I’ve been working on my computer.

It’s still annoying though that as long as NBCSN is broadcasting the races, then I won’t even have the option of watching them unless I upgrade to Dish Network’s “America’s Top 200” package (or higher).  I’m sorry, Dish Network, but we cannot justify spending the extra money on a vast majority of extra television channels that we will not watch.  It’s not worth it paying the higher monthly fees just for a couple of extra channels. Read more…

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 21, 2015 at 11:13 pm

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Movie Review – Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)

In honor of tomorrow night’s premier of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! on Syfy, today we’re taking a look at the second film in the series, Sharknado 2: The Second One.

Back in 2013, the made for television film Sharknado created a media frenzy with its completely ridiculous plot of deadly tornadoes filled with killer sharks.  The film was aired for three nights in a row on the SyFy Channel, with each night having a larger number of viewers.  This was a film that was so bad and corny that you just had to watch it not just once but several times.

So what do you do when a low-budget film is a hit?

You make a sequel!  You strike quickly while the iron is hot!

Sharknado 2: The Second One premiered on July 30, 2014 on the SyFy Channel.  The sequel returned some of the original cast and transferred the action from Los Angeles to New York City.  Another superstorm filled with sharks strikes, and it’s up to a small group of people to figure out a way to stop the deadly storm and save an entire city.

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) - movie poster

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) – movie poster

Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, Sharknado 2: The Second One returns Ian Ziering and Tara Reid in the lead roles of Finley Shepard and April Wexler.  Supporting them is Vivica A. Fox as Skye, Fin’s childhood friend, Judd Hirsch as Ben, a taxi driver, and about a dozen cameos featuring a variety of celebrities.

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) - (c) The Asylum

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) – (c) The Asylum

Sharknado 2: The Second One begins with Finley “Fin” Shepard (Ian Ziering) and his ex-wife, April Wexler (Tara Reid) flying to New York City to visit some old friends as well as promote April’s book covering the events from last year’s sharknado in Los Angeles.  A flight attendant (Kelly Osbourne) is a fan of April’s and gladly accepts an invitation to join her at an event in New York City.

When the airliner begins its approach into New York City, the plane flies right through a strong storm filled with airborne sharks.  The sharks repeatedly attack the airliner and break into the aircraft, killing the pilot (Robert Hayes) and co-pilot (Rachel True).  The flight attendant is also killed by a shark along with a passenger (Wil Wheaton).

Fin makes his way to the cockpit and takes control of the doomed airliner.  While he’s trying to bring it down for a landing, one of the aircraft’s doors is ripped open and April is nearly sucked out into the storm.  She uses an air marshal’s (Austin Priester) pistol to shoot at a flying shark, but the shark reaches her and bites off half of her arm.  Somehow Fin is able to land the damaged airliner at the airport (nowhere was it mentioned in Sharknado of Fin having *any* flying experience), saving the lives of the remaining passengers.  April is then whisked away to a hospital to be treated for her amputated arm. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - at 3:35 pm

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Movie Review – The Producers (1968)

What if it paid to be a failure?

What if you could get away with it, too?

That’s the premise behind today’s movie review, the 1968 classic comedy film, The Producers.

Written and directed by comedic legend Mel Brooks, The Producers tells a tale of a failing Broadway producer who, with the help of his account, figures out a way to scam investors by creating a show that’s bound to fail on opening night.  The only problem is that the play that they think will fail miserable, instead turns out to be a smash hit.  Can the two producers scramble and find a way to pay back their investors, or will they be sent to prison for their crimes?

The Producers (1968) - movie poster

The Producers (1968) – movie poster

As it was mentioned, The Producers was both written and directed by Mel Brooks.  This was the first film that he directed.  Starring in The Producers is Zero Mostel in the role of failed Broadway producer Max Bialystock.  Co-starring in the film are Gene Wilder as accountant Leopold Bloom, and Dick Shawn as Lorenzo St. DuBois.

The Producers (1968) - (c) Embassy Pictures

The Producers (1968) – (c) Embassy Pictures

The Producers begins with aging and washed out Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) womanizing wealthy old ladies and trying to swindle money out of them.  Although Max has found success in the past, these days he’s down on his luck, miserable, and he’s also behind on his rent.

One day Max is visited by his accountant, Leopold “Leo” Bloom (Gene Wilder), to go through his books and put his money in order.  Leo soon discovers that there is an overcharge of $2,000 from Max’s last play.  He had raised more money than he could repay by accidentally selling more than 100% of the shares.  This is a small oversight and Leo is able to disguise the $2,000 in other parts of Max’s business.  Leo makes a comment that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) isn’t interested in a show that flops. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 19, 2015 at 9:30 pm

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Movie Review – A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Today we’re taking a look at the 1964 western film, A Fistful of Dollars.

Released in Italy in 1964 and the United States in 1967, A Fistful of Dollars has been credited for launching the movie career for television actor Clint Eastwood.  The film also brought a tremendous amount of success and fame to Italian director Sergio Leone.  This movie is also responsible for starting the genre of spaghetti western, western films that were produced and directed by Italians.

A Fistful of Dollars involves a mysterious man arriving in a small town in Mexico, and discovering that the town’s two largest families were rivals with each other.  The two families continually fight for power, wealth and control of the town.  The mysterious man figures out a way to manipulate the two families and use it to his advantage.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) - movie poster

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) – movie poster

Directed by Sergio Leone, A Fistful of Dollars stars Clint Eastwood as the Stranger.  He’s a man with no name and no information about his past.  The film’s music was created by Italian composer Ennio Morricone.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) - (c) United Artists

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) – (c) United Artists

A Fistful of Dollars begins with a mysterious Stranger (Clint Eastwood) arriving in a small town in Mexico.  Although he doesn’t know or speak to anybody, he knows that some of the people in town do not want him there.  At one point he’s teased and harassed by four gunmen.  The Stranger then visits the town’s inn keeper, Silvanito (Jose Calvo), and learns that there are two families vying for control of the town — the Rojos and the Baxters. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 18, 2015 at 10:11 pm

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Movie Review – The Towering Inferno (1974)

During the early 1970s era of “shake and bake” disaster films, one of the biggest and best was 1974’s The Towering Inferno.

Set in San Francisco, California, The Towering Inferno tells a story of the opening of the world’s tallest building, and a party that celebrates its completion.  Faulty wiring causes a fire to start halfway up the building, and it’s not long before the party guests discover that they’re trapped at the top of the glass tower.  As the flames continue to grow and climb their way up the skyscraper, the people are forced to deal with the threat as they try every way possible to escape from the deadly fire.

The Towering Inferno (1974) - movie poster

The Towering Inferno (1974) – movie poster

Directed by John Guillermin and with music by John Williams, The Towering Inferno stars Hollywood legends Steve McQueen as a battalion chief for the fire department, and Paul Newman as the architect of the skyscraper.  Supporting them are a group of familiar actors and actresses including William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, Robert Vaughn and Robert Wagner.  Also in The Towering Inferno is O.J. Simpson in one of his first acting roles.

The Towering Inferno (1974) - (c) Warner Bros. Pictures

The Towering Inferno (1974) – (c) Warner Bros. Pictures

The Towering Inferno begins with Doug Roberts (Paul Newman) returning to San Francisco for the dedication ceremony for the Glass Tower, the world’s largest building, a building that he designed himself.  The Glass Tower is owned and was built by James Duncan (William Holden), a wealthy person who is looking forward to showing off the prestigious building to the top members of society.  He insists that Roberts be there later that evening for the dedication ceremony. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 17, 2015 at 8:31 pm

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Movie Review – Terminator Genisys (2015)

Released to theaters this weekend is Terminator Genisys, the latest film in the Terminator franchise and (hopefully) the beginning of a new Terminator series of films.

Terminator Genisys returns to the origins of the Terminator story, but it’s not what you’re expecting.  This isn’t simply a reboot of the original film.  Instead, Terminator Genisys pays homage to the original film while also offering people a new story as part of an alternative timeline.

Terminator Genisys (2015) - movie poster

Terminator Genisys (2015) – movie poster

Directed by Alan Taylor, Terminator Genisys returns Hollywood legend Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of the T-800 (Model 101) / Guardian.  Co-starring in the film are Jason Clarke as John Connor, Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, and Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese.  Also in the film are J.K. Simmons as Detective O’Brien and Courtney B. Vance as Miles Dyson.

Terminator Genisys begins with a voiceover of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) explaining how life has changed drastically since Judgment Day, the moment when the machines declared war against humanity and launched a surprise nuclear attack, wiping out most of humanity.  The survivors were forced to band together and fight for their lives.  The leader of the Resistance is a soldier named John Connor (Jason Clarke).

In the year 2029, John Connor leads the Resistance in a final assault in the Los Angeles offensive.  The attack, coordinated with an attack in the Colorado offensive, is aimed at striking at Skynet‘s secret new weapon, a weapon that could change the outcome of the war.  Hidden underneath a remote storage facility is Skynet’s ultimate weapon — a time machine.

The final attacks are launched against Skynet.  The Colorado offensive is successful at stopping Skynet’s main defense grid, but Connor’s Los Angeles offensive is unable to stop Skynet before it sends a lone T-800 cyborg back in time to 1984 to kill John Connor’s mother.  If the cyborg is successful in its mission then Sarah Connor will die and John Connor, the leader of the Resistance, will never be born.

In order to stop the cyborg and save the future, then somebody from the Resistance will have to travel back in time to save Sarah Connor.  Several soldiers volunteer for the dangerous mission, and John Connor selects Kyle Reese.  The Resistance gets the time machine operating and they send Reese back in time.  Just before he travels through time, Reese notices one of the soldiers (a Terminator in disguise) grabbing and attacking John Connor.  Reese then travels through time and has flashbacks to an alternative version of his younger self. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 1, 2015 at 10:38 pm

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Movie Review – Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Back in 1968, the film Planet of the Apes introduced people to a concept of a world where apes rule society and human beings are feral creatures.

Planet of the Apes followed along as astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) was forced to deal with being on a strange and hostile planet.  He was ultimately successful in proving to the apes that human beings are smarter and more resourceful than the apes gave them credit.  Planet of the Apes had a shock ending where Taylor discovered that he was really on planet Earth the whole time.  At some point in the past humanity destroyed itself in warfare, and apes evolved to become the dominant species on the planet.

We know that there’s more to the story of what really happened on planet Earth.  We know that there must be more human artifacts out there.  And we know that there’s more to be discovered.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes was released two years later in 1970.

In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, a second spacecraft (one that was sent to search for Taylor’s spacecraft) travels through a time warp and crash lands on the same planet that’s now ruled by apes.  Astronaut Brent meets Nova, he is shocked to witness the ape’s society, and he ultimately discovers a hidden underground city inhabited with mutant human beings, descendants from the war that destroyed humanity.  It’s a race against time as an army of apes advances and aims to crush the underground city once and for all.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) - movie poster

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) – movie poster

Directed by Ted Post, Beneath the Planet of the Apes stars James Franciscus as Brent, an astronaut who accidentally travels through time while he’s sent on a mission to rescue George Taylor.  Charlton Heston reprises his role of George Taylor, and so does Linda Harrison as Nova, Kim Hunter as Zira, and Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius.  This time around David Watson plays the role of Cornelius.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) - (c) 20th Century Fox

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) – (c) 20th Century Fox

Beneath the Planet of the Apes begins at the ending of Planet of the ApesGeorge Taylor (Charlton Heston) and Nova (Linda Harrison) find the remains of the Statue of Liberty, and Taylor realizes that he’s been on Earth the whole time, just several thousand years into the future.  Humanity is virtually extinct and apes are in control of society.  Depressed, he and Nova ride on horseback further into the Forbidden Zone, hoping to find other signs of life.

A short while later, Taylor and Nova discover a wall of flames that appears and just as quickly disappears.  This is followed by a few quick bolts of lightning.  Taylor suspects that there’s more to the story of these phenomena, so he grabs a rifle and takes a closer look.  Just as it looks like Taylor discovers the secret behind the apparitions, he suddenly disappears into a rocky wall.  Nova is terrified by the sight, and she flees on Taylor’s horse. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 30, 2015 at 11:27 pm

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Movie Review – Planet of the Apes (1968)

Imagine suddenly being placed in a world where things were the opposite, where human beings were running wild and apes were in control of society.

That’s the premise for 1968’s hit science-fiction film, Planet of the Apes.

In Planet of the Apes, George Taylor and two other astronauts crash land on an alien planet where human beings are wild with no permanent homes, no form of communication, and no real society.  They live in packs and stay on the run from the apes, advanced creatures that can speak, they have clothing and weapons, and they have a functioning society complete with their own city.  When Taylor is captured by the apes, the apes are shocked to see that he’s very different from the other human beings.  Some apes believe that Taylor is a missing link that explains their society, while other apes believe that Taylor is a mutation that must be destroyed.

Planet of the Apes (1968) - movie poster

Planet of the Apes (1968) – movie poster

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, Planet of the Apes stars Hollywood legend Charlton Heston in the lead role of astronaut George Taylor.  Co-starring in the film are Roddy McDowall as Cornelius, Kim Hunter as Zira, Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius, and Linda Harrison as Nova, one of the human beings.

Planet of the Apes (1968) - (c) 20th Century Fox

Planet of the Apes (1968) – (c) 20th Century Fox

Planet of the Apes begins out in space as astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) readies their spaceship for their trip back home to Earth.  Joining him are astronauts Landon (Robert Gunner), Dodge (Jeff Burton), as well as a female astronaut already asleep and in stasis.  Although there’s no mention of the spaceship’s name in the 1968 version of the film, a 2008 Blu-ray edition of the film includes a short film where it’s mentioned that the ship is called Liberty 1.

Liberty 1‘s mission left Earth in 1972, and it travelled faster-than-light through a wormhole to distant galaxies.  As a result, while the mission itself has only lasted for six months, it’s theorized that 700 years have passed back on Earth.

Taylor is the last astronaut still awake before going into stasis.  He records his thoughts into the ship’s recorder before climbing into his sleep chamber and entering a form of hibernation.  The Liberty 1 continues on autopilot and continues its journey back to Earth. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 23, 2015 at 11:09 pm

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Movie Review – Piranha (1978)

Back in 1975, Jaws not only proved to be an extremely successful film in the theaters, but it also gave the audience a reason to think twice before swimming in the ocean.

Of course, the odds of being attacked by a shark are extremely slim, but you *really* don’t know what’s swimming underneath you.  Those might be some harmless fish tickling your toes, it might just be some seaweed, or it could be a sign that something much fiercer is about to attack your legs . . .

1978 saw the release of Piranha, a B-movie that’s partial parody, partial comedy, and partial bloody horror film involving swarms of aggressive fish with razor sharp teeth.  The film involves a school of genetically-modified piranha that are accidentally released into a river.  It’s a race against time to stop the fish before they attack a summer camp and, further downstream, the grand opening of a brand new water park.

Piranha (1978) - movie poster

Piranha (1978) – movie poster

Directed by Joe Dante, Piranha stars Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies as Paul Grogan and Maggie McKeown.  Supporting them are basically a bunch of obscure actors and actresses including Kevin McCarthy, Barbara Steele, Melody Thomas Scott, and iconic 1980s actor Dick Miller.

Piranha (1978) - (c) United Artists

Piranha (1978) – (c) United Artists

Piranha begins with two teenagers who discover a seemingly abandoned swimming pool inside of a former military research base.  It’s late at night and nobody is in sight, so the two teenagers decide to go skinny dipping.  That turns out to be a fatal mistake as the pool is actually filled with carnivorous fish, and the two teenagers are brutally killed. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 20, 2015 at 4:49 pm

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Movie Review – Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Back in 1975, the movie Jaws proved that not only are sharks fearsome creatures, but they can also prove to be formidable monsters in Hollywood.

Jaws was so successful that not only did it spawn its own series of films, but for the most part, Hollywood didn’t use sharks as villains.  Other sea creatures have attempted to terrify the audiences, but sharks were overlooked.  It was almost like nobody wanted to make a shark movie because everybody would keep comparing it to 1975’s Jaws.

That notion changed with the release of 1999’s killer shark movie, Deep Blue Sea.  In Deep Blue Sea, research scientists increase the size of sharks’ brains in an effort to study diseases.  However, this increase in brainpower makes the sharks smarter, and they use their sharpened thinking skills to attack the researchers.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) - movie poster

Deep Blue Sea (1999) – movie poster

Directed by Renny Harlin, Deep Blue Sea stars Thomas Jane and Saffron Burrows in the lead roles of Carter Blake and Dr. Susan McAlester.  Supporting them is a cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Jacqueline McKenzie, Stellan Skarsgard, and LL Cool J.

Deep Blue Sea begins with four teenagers having fun on a boat while out at sea.  Suddenly the boat is attacked by a shark, and the teenagers are knocked into the water.  Just before the shark can attack and kill them, the predator fish is captured by a mysterious man.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) - (c) Warner Bros.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) – (c) Warner Bros.

In Los Angeles, California, Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) is called to an emergency meeting at Chimera.  The company’s leaders are upset that one of Susan’s test sharks had escaped from the research facility and attacked a small group of teenagers.  None of them were killed or seriously injured, but the incident is still bad news for the company.

It turns out that Susan is using three genetically modified mako sharks in an attempt to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  These three sharks have larger brains (the brain fluid is used in the research) than their counterparts in the wild, and it’s made these particular sharks smarter and more aggressive.  The recently escaped and recaptured shark is a sign that perhaps the researchers don’t have everything under control at their research station. Read more…

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 18, 2015 at 1:13 pm

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Book Review – Larry Bond’s “Red Phoenix”

Recently I finished reading Larry Bond‘s Red Phoenix, a military novel depicting the outbreak of open war on the Korean Peninsula.  The war involves North Korea crossing the demilitarized zone and attacking the South Korean and American military forces stationed throughout South Korea.

First published in 1989, the action in Red Phoenix takes place in that same time period.  Naturally, when reading the book today, you have to remember which types of weapons were available back then as a lot of technology has changed throughout the military.

Larry Bond --- Red Phoenix

Larry Bond — Red Phoenix

Red Phoenix begins with the discovery of a North Korean tunnel passing underneath the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and reaching into South Korea.  To the surprise of the Americans and South Koreans, this tunnel is one of the largest ones yet.  The tunnel itself is as wide as a road, and numerous tanks and other army vehicles are being stored there.

It’s thought that the vehicles are being positioned for an invasion of the south.  Before the soldiers can investigate too much, the forces encounter a patrol of North Koreans.  There’s a brief but bloody gun battle as the two sides engage each other.  The South Koreans scramble to wire demolitions to the tanks and vehicles just as a larger company of North Koreans attacks them again.  It’s a quick dash back to the surface before the explosives are detonated, destroying the vehicles, the tunnel, and all of the North Koreans still underground.

Although the North Korean vehicles were unable to be captured, the message of discovering them was still clear —— North Korea is planning on invading South Korea, and the invasion may happen very soon.

That’s just the action-packed introduction to Red Phoenix.

The first part of Red Phoenix is mostly politics as a U.S. Congressman schemes to gain political power by taking advantage of civil unrest and college students protesting throughout Seoul, South Korea.  The protests are being instigated by North Korean spies, and the South Koreans deal with the protesters harshly.  This only further motivates the U.S. Congressman to put political pressure on the U.S. President, and begin a withdraw of the U.S. military forces stationed in South Korea.

When it looks like the U.S. is beginning to remove its military forces from South Korean, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il launches an all-out war against South Korea.  It’s viewed as a war of “liberation” for their fellow Koreans living south of the DMZ.  North Korean terrorists strike at key targets throughout the south as the main brunt of the North Korean army rolls across the DMZ and attacks everything in sight. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 16, 2015 at 11:23 pm

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Movie Review – Jurassic World (2015)

Released to the theaters this weekend is Jurassic World, the fourth movie in the Jurassic Park franchise.

Back in 1993, Jurassic Park ruled the theaters with its story involving a high-tech theme park filled with dinosaurs brought back to life through advanced technology.  This was followed by The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997, and then Jurassic Park III in 2001.

And now, after waiting fourteen years, the next Jurassic Park film has finally been released.

Enter Jurassic World.

Jurassic World (2015) - movie poster

Jurassic World (2015) – movie poster

Directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Vincent D’Onofrio, Jurassic World goes back to the franchise’s roots and returns us to the original ideas set in Jurassic Park.  A new team has taken over John Hammond’s operations and the theme park (now named Jurassic World) is open to the public.  New dinosaur attractions have been added over the years, and now it’s time to open another one.  The latest creation, a hybrid dinosaur named Indominus rex, is guaranteed to terrify the visitors and boost the audiences at the theme park.  Of course, you know what happens next . . .

Jurassic World begins with two brothers, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) at their home.  Although Gary is still young, he has a keen interest in dinosaurs and science.  His older brother Zach is more interested in girls, and he’s practically counting down the days until he can move out of his parents’ house and live on his own.  Their parents need some time alone to sort out their own problems, so they send the boys on a vacation to Jurassic World.  The boys’ Aunt Claire happens to work at the dinosaur theme park, and she’s going to look after them and give them a personal tour of the place.

Zach and Gray catch an international flight to Costa Rica, and then they board a high-speed ferry with other guests bound for Isla Nublar, a.k.a. Jurassic World.  After that they board a monorail that takes them through the famous Jurassic Park gate and ultimately to the visitors’ complex.  While Gray is excited to see the dinosaurs, Zach is more interested in looking at the young ladies. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 13, 2015 at 7:23 pm

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Gay Adoption — Is It Right For Children To Be Raised By Gay Parents?

As some of you may have already noticed, Coca-Cola has started a new marketing campaign focused on happiness.

Using the Twitter hashtag #choosehappiness, people can talk about what makes them happy along with happiness in general.  It’s meant to be a positive and uplifting message, something that people can proudly share on social media.  Naturally, the message of happiness is supposed to occur when said person is drinking a Coca-Cola product, but that’s optional.

Choose Happiness. What Are You Waiting For?

What brings us here today is that this new marketing campaign for Coca-Cola isn’t limited to the United States.  People in Europe have been seeing the same advertising.  That’s also where things have become very controversial.

Coca-Cola #choosehappiness advertisement featuring a gay couple with a child.

Coca-Cola #choosehappiness advertisement featuring a gay couple with a child.

In the Netherlands, some of Coca-Cola’s #choosehappiness posters have featured gay couples with (presumably) adopted children.  The message on the poster states, “We choose happiness ~ over ~ tradition.”  Of course, that’s not the only message being portrayed in this latest advertising campaign.

Statements like this are going to make people talk about not only gay marriage, but gay people adopting children as well.  Are we going to be seeing more messages like this soon?  More importantly, is gay adoption going to be the next movement to sweep across the country? Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 1, 2015 at 9:41 pm

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Book Review – Larry Niven’s “Lucifer’s Hammer”

Today I finished reading Larry Nivven‘s post-apocalyptic novel, Lucifer’s Hammer.

Co-written by Jerry Pournelle, Lucifer’s Hammer is a haunting tale of survival after the Earth is hit by a comet.  Billions of people are killed instantly, and the survivors are forced to fight for their own survival in ways that they never imagined.

Larry Niven --- Lucifer's Hammer

Larry Niven — Lucifer’s Hammer

Lucifer’s Hammer begins with the discovery of the Hamner-Brown Comet, named after an amateur astronomer and a kid who was using a telescope and looking at the right place at the right time.  The comet is approaching the inner part of our solar system.  According to astronomers, the Hamner-Brown Comet is going to pass by the inner planets, swing around the sun, and head back out into space.  The odds of the comet striking the Earth are so small that it’s not even worth mentioning.

Life continues as the comet continues on its path.  But when scientists continue to monitor it, and when a TV documentary gives it more attention, people can’t help but wonder just how close the comet will be when it passes the Earth a second time when heading back out into space.  It’s not going to hit, right?

As the days pass, more and more people believe that the comet is really going to impact the Earth and wipe out everybody, just as an asteroid ended up killing off the dinosaurs.  Some people see this as a sign from above.  Others begin to stockpile supplies to help ride out whatever happens.  A smaller percentage think that since everybody is going to be killed, then nothing at this point matters, and it’s okay to commit crimes.  And still other people believe that nothing will happen and that everybody else is crazy.  Those people cannot wait for the comet to pass so that life will get back to normal again. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - May 2, 2015 at 9:09 pm

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2015 Baltimore Riots — Politics, Racism, and Pure Hatred

For almost a week now, news reports have been focused on the city of Baltimore, Maryland.

City of Baltimore - 1797

What began as organized protests against police brutality and the recent death of Freddie Gray turned into a day and night of violent rioting and looting.  Thugs basically had free reign over parts of the city as the police stood by and watched it happened.

So what really happened in Baltimore?

THE ARREST AND DEATH OF FREDDIE GRAY

On April 12, 2015, Baltimore police officers encountered Freddie Gray, a known criminal with a long history of being arrested.  It’s not known why the officers stopped or wanted to speak with him.  For whatever reason, Freddie took off running and the police gave chase.  Freddie was captured, placed under arrest, and put into a police wagon for transport to a nearby police precinct.

New video shows arrest of Freddie Gray in Baltimore

Notice in the arrest video that Freddie is not (or just barely) moving his legs.  The officers have to pick him up by the arms and literally carry him into the police wagon.  Was Freddie injured during the capture and arrest, or was he just being uncooperative and refusing to walk into the wagon? Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - April 30, 2015 at 2:09 pm

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Movie Review – Little Caesar (1931)

Today we’re taking a look at Little Caesar, a 1931 gangster film that introduced the world to Edward G. Robinson.

Credited as one of the films that launched the gangster genre in the 1930s in Hollywood, Little Caesar is a classic tale that follows Caesar Enrico Bandello and his rise from a petty criminal into a powerful gangster.  The film Little Caesar is based on William R. Burnett‘s novel of the same name.

Little Caesar (1931) - movie poster

Little Caesar (1931) – movie poster

Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, Little Caesar stars Edward G. Robinson as Caesar Enrico Bandello, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as Joe Massara, Rico’s close friend.  Supporting them are Glenda Farrell as Olga Stassoff, Sidney Blackmer as “Big Boy,” and Thomas Jackson as Sergeant Flaherty.

Little Caesar (1931) - (c) Warner Bros.

Little Caesar (1931) – (c) Warner Bros.

Little Caesar begins with criminals Caesar Enrico “Rico” Bandello (Edward G. Robinson) and Joe Massara (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) robbing a gas station.  The two of them then casually eat dinner in a diner while Rico reads a newspaper.  When Rico sees a story about the underworld paying its respect to a gang leader, Rico realizes that that is the lifestyle that he wants.  He desires to be powerful and respected, and not some two-bit criminal that nobody knows.

However, Joe doesn’t have that same passion for being a criminal.  He tells Rico that he would rather be dancing on stage with a woman, and living life in the spotlight.  Rico seems disgusted that Joe would rather be a dancer and around women.

The two of them head to Chicago to pursue their dreams. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - April 15, 2015 at 10:27 pm

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