More Films to See Before You Die: #97 Beverly Hills Cop

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Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Director: Martin Brest

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher, John Berkoff and Ronny Cox

Synopsis: Detroit cop Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is delighted when he receives a surprise visit from his best friend Mikey Tandino, who lives in California. Not long after Mikey arrives in Detroit, he is killed, right in front of Axel’s apartment. Axel quickly takes a couple weeks vacation and heads to Beverly Hills, California. Axel visits his friend Jenny Summers (Lisa Eilbacher), who works in an art gallery and got Mikey the job. Jenny points Axel in the direction of her boss Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff). When Axel starts to question Maitland about Mikey he is quickly ejected from the building and arrested. While in the Police Department he meets Taggart and Rosewood ( John Ashton and Judge Reinhold) who question Foley about his interest in Maitland. Their superior Lt. Bogomil (Ronny Cox) informs Foley that he has spoken to his superiors in Detroit and if he is investigating Mikey’s murder than he can find a new job. Now Foley must avoid Taggart and Rosewood as well as solve Mikey’s murder making this his toughest assignment yet.

Trivia: The movie was written for Sylvester Stallone, with the character of Michael Tandino being his brother, and Jenny Summers being his love interest. Two weeks before filming was to start, Stallone was suddenly out and Eddie Murphy was in, prompting massive rewrites. Bronson Pinchot got the accent and mannerisms for his character Serge from a crew member he worked with on a earlier project. Like his character, that crew member always said, “Don’t be stupid.”

Why Should You Watch This?: This is a hilarious movie with Eddie Murphy at the top of his game. The performance that Murphy gives in this film is proof of how talented an actor he can be given the right script. John Ashton and Judge Reinhold are wonderful in their supporting roles as Taggart and Rosewood. I enjoyed the second one wasn’t too impressed with the third but am still looking forward to the fourth one in 2016. Check this one out if you haven’t already it’s a lot of fun.

More Films to See Before You Die: #98 Legend

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Legend (1985)

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, David Bennent and Tim Curry

Synopsis: The Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) is planning to end his isolation in the shadows by destroying the guardians of the Power of Light. Darkness instructs his goblin minions to kill the unicorns and bring him their horns so can be free to roam the world after it becomes an eternal night of cold darkness. Meanwhile, Princess Lili (Mia Sara) goes alone to the forest to meet her friend Jack (Tom Cruise), a forest dweller who teaches her the languages of animals before showing her the unicorns who have arrived to the forest. Against Jack’s pleas, Lili approaches the stallion before the unicorn is hit by a poisoned dart from Blix’s blowpipe. The unicorns bolt, and Lili makes light of Jack’s fears and sets him a challenge by throwing her ring into a pond, declaring she will marry whoever finds it. But as the stallion dies from the poison with the goblins taking his horn, the pond freezes over with Lili running off in terror before Jack manages to break free. Taking refuge in a frozen cottage, Lily hides when the goblins arrive and overhears how she “led the beasts to bay” as she follows them while vowing to make it right. The unicorn mare and Lily are kidnapped by Darkness in an attempt to make her his wife and banish the Power of Light forever. Now it is up to Jack and some new found friends led by the elf Gump (David Bennent) to free Lily and save the world from forever being engulfed by Darkness.

Trivia: Filming stopped when the “007” soundstage burned to the ground. The remainder of the film was shot on hastily-constructed sets. The famous scene in which Princess Lily is taken to see and touches the Unicorns by Jack was actually filmed within the gardens of Pinewood Studos as at the time of filming, the vast Forest set had been destroyed by a fire.

Why Should You Watch This?: This is a wonderful film in the vein of the Grimm fairytales that are so popular and still being adapted to this day. What makes Legend so special is that this an original fairytale created from the mind of Ridley Scott. Like Blade Runner another Scott film the production was very troubled and it took them 3 years to complete the film which started production in 1982. Also like Blade Runner, the Director’s Cut is in my opinion superior to the Theatrical Cut. What makes Legend so special are amazing looking sets and the incredible job done with prosthetics which in a time before CGI make it that much more impressive. Tim Curry’s scenery chewing performance alone is worth the price of admission.

The Dark Knight Rises: Film Review

* This review is dedicated to the victims in Aurora, Colorado. My heart goes out to all of them and their families.
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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard and Morgan Freeman

Synopsis: It has been 8 years since Batman (Christian Bale) took the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes and he is long since retired leaving the city in the hands of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman). A rival of Wayne Enterprises has hired the mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy) to cause mayhem throughout Gotham. He also hires expert thief Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) to steal Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints all in an attempt to seize control of Wayne Enterprises. After it becomes clear that Bane is going to be to much for the Police to handle Batman comes out of retirement against the wishes of his longtime friend Alfred (Michael Caine). After their first confrontation Bane severly injures the Batman and exiles him from the city. After taking Gotham by force Bane forms and army that will give control of Gotham to the people. Batman returns with an army of his own and wages all out war in an effort to defeat Bane.

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Review: I went and saw this last night and I have to say I have been waiting for this movie since The Dark Knight and I wasn’t disappointed. This is by far the best third chapter of a superhero series even though there isn’t tons of competition on that front. Tom Hardy stole the show in my opinion he was just amazing as Bane the ferocity of his performance coupled with his massive size made for one of the most intimidating villains in a long time. Christian Bale brings the goods again as Batman and the core cast of Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are great as usual.  Anne Hathaway does a very good job as Catwoman but she couldn’t top Michelle Pfeiffer. This is just a very satifying end to Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and I suggest you go see it because there won’t be anything like this for a while. A+

A Perfect World: Blu-Ray Review

A Perfect World (1993)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: Kevin Costner, Laura Dern, T.J. Lowther and Clint Eastwood


Film – 5/5: Butch Haynes (Kevin Costner) and Terry Pugh escape from prison and steal a prison officials car. While looking for a new car specifically a Ford, Terry invades the home of Gladys Perry and tries to get rough with her but Butch prevents him from doing so. A neighbour sees the commotion and tries to stop them but they are able to get away with a hostage, Gladys’ son Philip (T.J. Lowther). Early on Butch gets rid of Terry and carries on alone with Philip who he nicknames Buzz. It’s not long before a state wide manhunt is put in motion led by Chief Red Garnett (Clint Eastwood) who is accompanied by state criminologist Sally Gerber (Laura Dern) who has insight into the mind of Haynes. While on the road Butch and Buzz develop a close bond with Haynes acting as a sort of father figure to the young boy. This all leads to an eventual confrontation between Haynes and Garnett who have a history together.

Video – 4/5: I used to own this movie on DVD and I can confidently say that this is the best this movie has ever looked. The detail is strong throughout and there does not appear to be much DNR. The grain is very natural and looks just like the movie was meant too.

Audio – 4/5: While the Audio is not perfect for this film it like the video transfer and is the best it has ever sounded. You can clearly hear the background noises and the dialogue is very clear too. Some of the car chases are not as loud as some of you standard action fare but it is still very good.

Overall Score and Recommendation – 4.5/5: I remember watching this movie a few years ago when I was on an Eastwood kick and I stumbled onto one of his best directorial efforts. This is my personal favourite of Kevin Costner’s performances and the bond that grows between his Butch and the young boy is so tender and sweet it alone is the price of admission. Clint is good and so is Laura Dern but the real focus is on Butch and Buzz. Like Unforgiven this film is a great example of why violence doesn’t actually solve anything. I love this movie and am very pleased with Warner Bros. for their incredibly faithful Audio and Video transfers. This is a wonderful film that comes highly recommended.

Films to See Before You Die: #1 The Godfather

The Godfather (1972)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, Diane Keaton

Synopsis: In late summer 1945, guests are gathered for the wedding reception of Don Vito Corleone’s (Marlon Brando) daughter Connie (Talia Shire) and Carlo Rizzi. Don Corleone, the head of the Corleone Mafia family, is known to friends and associates as “Godfather.” He and Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), the Corleone family lawyer, are hearing requests for favors because, according to tradition, “no Sicilian can refuse a request on his daughter’s wedding day.” Meanwhile, the Don’s youngest son Michael (Al Pacino), a decorated Marine hero returning from World War II service, arrives at the wedding and tells his girlfriend Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) anecdotes about his family, informing her about his father’s criminal life. Michael reassures her that he is different from his family and doesn’t plan to join them in their criminal dealings. Also among the guests at the celebration is the famous singer Johnny Fontane, Corleone’s godson, who has come from Hollywood to petition Vito’s help in landing a movie role that will revitalize his flagging career. Jack Woltz , the head of the studio, denies Fontane the part which is a character much like Johnny himself, and which will make him an even bigger star, but Don Corleone explains to Johnny: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” After Tom returns from settling business with Woltz the family meets with Virgil Sollozzo, who is backed by the rival Tattaglia family. Sollozzo is trying to get the Corleone family into the drug trade so that he can use the Don’s connections in politics to traffic more drugs. The Don refuses him on the basis that if his politician friends knew he was dealing in drugs they would no longer help him. A few days later while waiting for his son Fredo to get the car the Don is gunned down in the street by Tattaglia’s men but somehow survives. Sollozzo in an attempt to frighten the family into doing what he wants kidnaps Tom and tells him that he has to broker a deal with the new first in command Vito’s hothead boy Sonny (James Caan) who is liable to do something stupid before talks can take place. A few days later Michael goes to the hospital to visit his father in the evening and finds that his security detail has been pulled off and in fear of an impending hit moves Vito into another room and stands guard outside the hospital. The police arrive there shortly with the Chief of Police trying to arrest Michael and when he questions whether he is a dirty cop is punched in the face by the Chief and has his jaw broke. Sonny is furious about this and now wants Sollozzo dead but with the Chief of Police as his personal bodyguard it makes it nearly impossible. Michael offers to kill them both because he is about to meet with Sollozzo and is the last person they would suspect. After Michael kills them both he is exiled to Corleone, Sicily where his father was originally from until the whole thing blows over. One of the many casualties of the mob wars is Sonny who is gunned down in broad daylight.  After the Don has recovered he brokers a deal with the other heads of the five families that establishes peace so that Michael can come home. With Michael back from Italy Vito passes on the torch to him and makes him head of the family and he stays on as consigliere so that he can teach Michael how to properly run the family. It isn’t until the Don dies that Michael makes a power play eliminating all competition and establishing a new Godfather in the Corleone family.

Trivia: The presence of oranges in the Godfather trilogy indicates that a death-related event will soon occur (even though production designer Dean Tavoularis claimed the oranges were simply used to brighten up the darkly shot film). In chronological order of such events:

  • Hagen and Woltz negotiate Johnny Fontane’s position at a table with a bowl of oranges on it, and later Woltz discovers his horse’s severed head
  • Don Corleone buys oranges right before he is shot
  • Sonny drives past an advertisement for Florida Oranges before he is assassinated
  • at the Mafioso summit, bowls of oranges are placed on the tables (specifically in front of those Dons who will be assassinated)
  • Michael eats an orange while discussing his plans with Hagen
  • before Don Corleone dies, he puts an orange peel in his mouth to playfully scare his grandson
  • Tessio, who is executed for attempting to betray Michael, plays with an orange at Connie’s wedding
  • and Carlo Rizzi, who wears an orange suit right before Sonny beats him up, causes Sonny’s death and is himself garrotted in retribution.
  • The only deaths in the film that don’t appear to have oranges foreshadowing them are the assassinations of Paulie, Sollozzo, McCluskey and Apollonia.

Why I think you should see this: This is my absolute favourite film and is also the best movie I have ever seen. I also love the whole series and suggest to anyone to check them all out. This series is Coppola’s masterpiece and also one of the most important films ever made. Marlon Brando is just amazing and if you can’t get enough of Vito check out Robert De Niro’s portrayal in Part II which makes them the only actors to win an academy award for the same character. Al Pacino is pretty great too but his character gets better as the movies progress as Michael is clearly the star of the series. James Caan is perfect as Sonny and John Cazale is amazing as the pathetic Fredo. One of the best performances in the series comes from Andy Garcia in Part III and while I know most people do not like the last movie I still think it is very good and still important to the series it just had the misfortune of coming out the same year as Goodfellas. This is my all time favourite so if you haven’t seen it rent the whole series one weekend you won’t be disappointed.

Films to See Before You Die: #2 Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, Harvey Keitel and Bruce Willis

Synopsis: Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) are hit men in the employ of Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and have come to retrieve a valuable belonging of Wallace’s from a group of would-be crooks. Marsellus is leaving town that evening and Vincent is to take Marsellus’s wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), out for dinner to keep her entertained. Rumors abound that Marsellus gravely wounded another associate who he believed had been improperly friendly with Mia, so Vincent is nervous. Before picking Mia up, he visits his drug dealer and buys some high-quality heroin. Mia enters herself and Vincent in a dance contest. They dance the twist and win an award. After dinner, they return to the Wallaces’ home. Vincent goes to the bathroom to talk himself out of making a pass at Mia. Meanwhile, she discovers the baggie of heroin in his coat pocket and, assuming it’s cocaine, snorts some. She immediately passes out and begins to foam at the mouth. Panicked, Vincent takes the dying Mia to Lance’s where they argue about what to do with her. Following Lance’s advice, Vincent is able to revive her with a shot of adrenaline administered straight to the heart. Vincent takes Mia home. They agree not to tell Marsellus what happened since both of them would get in trouble. Marsellus Wallace pays boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) to throw his next fight. Instead of throwing the match, he fights so viciously that he kills his opponent. He took Marsellus’ money and bet it on himself; his winnings will amount to a small fortune. While packing the next morning, however, Fabienne reveals that she forgot the gold watch, the belonging Butch cherishes above all others. After a savage outburst in which he wrecks the motel room, Butch takes Fabienne’s car to get the watch, parking a few blocks away and walking across a field to his apartment as a precaution. He enters without incident and finds his wristwatch in the bedroom. He realizes he’s not alone in the apartment when he notices a gun in the kitchen. Catching Vincent off guard as he emerges from the bathroom, Butch kills him with his own gun. Leaving the apartment with his watch, Butch encounters Marsellus crossing the street. He tries to run Marsellus over with his car but only wounds him and is hit by another car himself. Marsellus chases Butch into a pawn shop. There, the owner Maynard overpowers them. Marsellus and Butch wake up in the basement of the pawn shop, bound and gagged. Three days earlier, flashing back in time to just after Vincent and Jules finish killing Brett for stealing Marsellus’ prized possession, a gang member they had not known about bursts out of the bathroom and empties his gun point blank at them. However, all of the bullets miss Vincent and Jules, hitting the wall behind them, so they kill the gang member. Jules is certain this is a miracle but Vincent dismisses the idea. They leave with Marvin, Marsellus’ inside man in the gang. In the car, Vincent asks Marvin if he believes in miracles, but accidentally shoots him in the head and kills him. The inside of the car is now covered in blood and brain matter. Jules drives to the house of his only friend in the Valley, a former colleague named Jimmie. Jimmie lets them hide the car but angrily tells them that they have to get rid of the body within an hour — before his wife Bonnie comes home from her night shift at a hospital. Jules calls Marsellus at his home to explain their predicament. Marsellus then calls Winston Wolf (Harvey Keitel), a suave and professional criminal and gambler who solves problems. Wolf arrives at Jimmie’s house and tells Vincent and Jules how to clean up the car and themselves — they have to strip out of their business suits and wear Jimmie’s spare T-shirts and shorts. The Wolf then helps them dispose of the car and body at a junkyard belonging to a discreet friend named Monster Joe.

Trivia: Daniel Day-Lewis wanted the role of Vincent Vega, but Quentin Tarantino turned him down in favor of John Travolta. Mia Wallace’s comment “An Elvis man should love this” is a reference to an earlier cut scene where Mia claims that everyone can be classified as either an “Elvis” (Elvis Presley) person or a “Beatles” (The Beatles) person. She bets Vincent that he is an “Elvis”, and he confirms it. It is widely believed that Butch is responsible for keying Vincent’s car.

Why I think you should see this: I am a huge Tarantino fan and there is no contest Pulp Fiction is his crowning achievement and in my opinion is the best movie of 1994. John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson are electric as the two hitmen but I have to say my favourite story is the gold watch because of how odd the whole scene is and appropriately followed by the Twilight Zone theme. I love this movie because it defies the classic linear structure set out by almost every film before it and the film actually makes the viewer connect the dots and try and figure what happens first. This is one of the best movies ever made so if you haven’t seen it rent it asap.

Films to See Before You Die: #3 Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

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Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Director: Irvin Kershner

Cast: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Frank Oz, James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams

Synopsis: After the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebels were forced to evacuate their base on the Yavin moon and the Galactic Empire has pursued the Rebel Alliance across the galaxy, forcing them to establish a secret base on the remote ice planet Hoth. Sith Lord Darth Vader (voice of James Earl Jones) sends robotic probes in search of the base and its commander and hero, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). While Luke is patrolling near the base, he’s knocked unconscious by an indigenous predator, the Wampa, a dangerous predator. Back at the base, Luke’s good friend Han Solo (Harrison Ford) announces his intention to leave the Rebels and pay the debt he owes to the gangster Jabba the Hutt, much to the displeasure of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). After Han discovers that Luke has not returned from patrol, he delays his departure and leaves the base to search for him. Meanwhile, Luke escapes the Wampa’s lair but is overcome by the cold. He sees an apparition of his late mentor, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who instructs him to receive training from Jedi Master Yoda (voice of Frank Oz) on the planet Dagobah. Han finds Luke and gives him shelter until they’re rescued the following morning by a Rebel patrol. Sometime later, when ground scans detect an object outside the base, Han and Chewy investigate, and find an Imperial probe droid that transmits the location of the Rebel base to the Imperial fleet before firing upon Chewy and being destroyed. On the command ship of Darth Vader’s massive Star Destroyer flagship, the droid’s transmission is picked up by Admiral Ozzel, who dismisses the message until Vader sees the transmission and realizes it is the Rebel base. He overrules Ozzel and orders the Imperial Fleet to the Hoth system. On the surface, the Imperial forces land their ground assault troops, making up of over a dozen four-legged AT-AT walkers beyond the energy shield and Luke leads his squadron of flying speeders into battle. However, the Imperial forces eventually overpower the Rebels and destroy the generator powering the energy shield, capturing the Rebel base. Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca flee on board the Millennium Falcon. The Falcon’s hyperdrive is revealed to be damaged and it cannot escape the Imperial blockade in space. During the confusion, they enter the nearby Hoth asteroid field, persuded by four Imperial Tie-Fighters; Han Solo pilots the Millennium Falcon deeper into the field, and the four pursuing fighters are destroyed by the flying rocks, eventually landing inside an asteroid crater to hide. Meanwhile, Luke and R2-D2 escape Hoth in Luke’s X-wing fighter. After a crash landing on the swamp planet of Dagobah, Luke meets a wizened, green little creature who reveals himself to be Yoda. After evading capture from Imperial forces Han sets a course for Cloud City, a gas mining colony on the nearby gas planet of Bespin, which is run by Han’s friend, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). Before Luke is able to finish his training he sense Han and Leia have been led into a trap and are about to suffer in an attempt to lure him into a trap. Knowing that he is risking certain capture Luke cannot allow his friends to suffer on his behalf and leaves Yoda for Cloud City leading to a confrontation with Vader.

Trivia: In the asteroid scene, one of the asteroids is actually a shoe. The rumor is that George Lucas asked the SFX people to redo the scene so many times that they got annoyed and one of them threw in their shoe. Lighting for SFX was so strong that several models melted. George Lucas was so impressed by Frank Oz’s performance as Yoda that he spent thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign to try and get him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Lucas’s campaign ultimately failed because it was felt that a puppeteer wasn’t an actor.

Why I think you should see this: When it comes to science fiction films there is none greater than the original Star Wars trilogy. My personal favourite of the three is The Empire Strikes Back, which so far is the greatest sci-fi film I have ever seen. I think this movie triumphs mostly because of who is not in the director’s chair, I have always believed episodes IV and I-III suffered mostly because of Lucas’ lack of talent as a director. This used to be my favourite film before all of the special edition versions came out and instead of leaving these timeless classics alone like any sane person would he tried to “add” to perfection which is just stupid. Most everyone has seen these movies but for those who haven’t go out and rent these immediately. You can even check out the prequel trilogy which is still good but just not the same.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: Blu-Ray Review

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Director: Guy Ritchie

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace

Film – 4.5 /5: Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) is investigating a seemingly unrelated series of crimes around Europe, believing them all connected to Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), a criminal mastermind just as smart as Holmes. Meanwhile, Holmes takes Dr. Watson (Jude Law) out with his brother Mycroft for Watson’s stag party, and saves another intended victim of Moriarty’s, a fortune telling gypsy named Sim (Noomi Rapace). Holmes meets with Moriarty, who warns Holmes that if he persists in investigating him, Watson will become a target. Holmes stows away on the train taking Watson and his new wife Mary to their honeymoon destination, knocking Mary off the train to the safe hands of Mycroft while he and Watson battle Moriarty’s men. When the duo arrive in France, Holmes tells Sim that Moriarty targeted her due to her brother Rene’s work with him, and she was a loose end. Holmes surmises Moriarty’s next target is a peace summit, where he will create an incident between world leaders to spark war.

Video – 5/5: A Game of Shadows hits the ground running with a fit and faithful 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer that, stylistic quirks aside, rarely falters. As was the case with the first Sherlock Holmes, Oscar-winning cinematographer Philippe Rousselot’s photography has been subjected to dramatic color-grading but remains perfectly suited to Ritchie’s at-times almost monochromatic, late 19th century newsprint palette. The detail is spectacular throughout and in my opinion this film has a perfect video presentation.

Audio – 5/5: Warner’s tightly tuned DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track takes its shot and hits its target dead center, delivering an exacting, punch-for-punch, sternum-thumping lossless experience that doesn’t let up or relent. The LFE channel is bold, bombastic and discriminating, throwing its full weight behind every meaty thunk, explosive thoom and heavy boom Ritchie unleashes, all while imbuing weighty elements with convincing heft and presence. This is as good as it gets in the sound department.

Overall Score and Recommendation – 5/5: I loved the first Sherlock Holmes in 2009 it was one of my favourite films that year and it solidified the return of Robert Downey Jr. one of the most talented actors out there. Casting Jude Law as Watson was pure genious giving Downey Jr.’s Holmes a suitable partner. Going into this film I was a little wary because usually sequels to movies like Sherlock Holmes fall flat but this film was just as enjoyable as the first with Jared Harris providing the perfect nemesis as Moriarty. I am super excited for a third one even if it means waiting until 2014 it should still be really fun. The audio and video presentation for this blu-ray are reference quality and there are more than enough special features to keep everyone happy. Just another great release from Warner Bros., this blu-ray earns my highest recommendation.

Films to See Before You Die: #4 Goodfellas

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Goodfellas (1990)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino

Synopsis: Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), has always wanted to be a gangster and begins working for the Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino) as a teenager. He also meet Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) who at 25 is already notorious for his love of stealing. Jimmy introduces Henry to another young criminal named Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), whose temper can go off at any time. It’s not long before Henry gets pinched by the cops for selling stolen cigarettes for Jimmy but he does the right thing and keeps quiet, he is later rewarded for his courage. A few years later Henry does Tommy a favour by going on a double date with a girl named Karen (Lorraine Bracco), the date does not go well but they agree to go on another which Henry stands her up. She makes Tommy drive around and find Henry so she can yell at him, eventually the two get married. Jimmy and Henry get busted and sent to jail for a few years leaving Karen alone to take care of their children. After Henry gets out he begins selling cocaine with Jimmy and Tommy without Paulie’s knowledge. Tommy’s temper gets the better of him when he kills Billy Batts who was a made man without permission because the guy insulted Tommy which is a big breach of protocol. A few years later Jimmy pulls of the biggest heist in U.S. history the Lufthansa Heist. After the heist Tommy learns he is to be a made man meaning both Jimmy and Henry have an in because they are eligible to be made men because of their Irish descent. On the day Tommy is to be honoured it instead turns out to be a trap with Tommy being murdered for killing Billy Batts. Henry eventually gets busted for cocaine possession and faces a much longer jail term unless he turns on his adopted family. After Paulie gives him some cash and sends him on his way a desperate Henry does something he never thought he was capable of doing.

Trivia: The “You think I’m funny?” scene was based on a story that Joe Pesci acted out for Martin Scorsese. While working in a restaurant as a young man, Pesci once told a mobster that he was funny and the mobster became very angry. Scorsese allowed Pesci and Ray Liotta to improvise the scene. He did not tell the other actors in the scene what would happen because he wanted their genuine surprised reactions. Every one of Robert De Niro’s outfits had a watch and a pinkie ring to go with it.

Why I think you should see this: Martin Scorsese is just so talented and this film is the perfect example. This is my favourite of his movies and it marks another fine collaboration between him and screen legend Robert De Niro who shines in this film. Ray Liotta is amazing as Henry Hill giving the performance of a lifetime but the movie belongs to Joe Pesci’s foul mouthed and explosive tempered Tommy DeVito. This is one of greatest Gangster films of all time and is a great companion piece for Casino. I am sure most people have seen this but for those who haven’t this is a masterpiece of modern cinema so check it out.

Films to See Before You Die: #5 Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies

Synopsis:  In 1936, Archeology Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones (Harrison Ford) narrowly escapes death in a South American temple with a gold idol – by poison dart, fall, and finally a giant boulder that chases him out the front. An old enemy, Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman), steals the idol and then orders Hovito Indians after Indy. Indy, however, escapes back to the USA, where Army Intelligence officers are waiting for him at the University where he teaches. They tell him about a flurry of Nazi archaeological activity near Cairo, which Indy determines to be the possible resting place of the Ark of the Covenant – the chest that carried the 10 Commandments. The Ark is believed to carry an incredibly powerful energy that must not fall into Nazi hands. Indiana is immediately sent overseas, stopping in Nepal to pick up an old article from his former mentor but finds his daughter Marion (Karen Allen) who cuts a deal with Indy that she will give him what he wants if he takes her with him. Then Indy arrives in Cairo and meets up with his good friend Sallah (John Rhys-Davies). But danger lurks everywhere in the form of Nazi thugs, and poisonous snakes in the Ark’s resting place. After Belloq, hired by the Nazis, makes off again with the Ark, Indy & Marion are determined to get it back, and they overpower the pilot of a German plane. But Indy finds himself confronted with a giant German thug, and after a frightening hand-to-hand fight Indy & Marion blow up the plane. Now the Nazis must drive the Ark to Cairo, but Indy regains control of the Ark after running the convoy off the road, one vehicle at a time. Once again the Nazis recapture the Ark and Marion, heading for a Nazi-controlled island. There, Belloq will open the Ark to demonstrate the horrific power it can unleash upon the world.

Trivia: Tom Selleck was Steven Spielberg’s second choice for the role of Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford was his first, but George Lucas objected, since Ford had been in both American Graffiti and Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Selleck was not able to take the role because he was committed to Magnum, P.I.. However, that series did not go into production until Raiders’ filming had already wrapped. Selleck was in fact in Hawaii waiting for the series to start as the final scenes to be filmed (the opening sequence) were being shot in Hawaii. “Magnum” did an episode called “Legend of the Lost Art” that parodied “Raiders”, complete with hat, whip, booby traps, etc.

Why I think you should see this: As I have stated before I just love Spielberg’s work and he has done so many great films but this is my all time favourite of his films. The Temple of Doom and Last Crusade are also really amazing. The most recent installment is the only one which is just not up to par with the original three. Harrison Ford is at his best in this film and Karen Allen makes for his best love interest. The opening scene is about as memorable as they come with my favourite homage having been done by the Simpsons. This is classic Spielberg so watch it again sometime.