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Ask 411 Movies for 11.11.13: Powered By Mr. Fusion
Posted by Chad Webb on 11.11.2013


















An "Ask 411 Movies" column would be nothing without questions, so please toss them my way. Why should you ask me instead of using Google? Well, perhaps I'll tell you something you can't find there, or maybe you just like my conversation and soothing words. You can post any questions or thoughts below in the comments section, email me at cthomaswebb@gmail.com, or send me a tweet using the links below:











What I Watched This Week



First off, one of my loyal readers Paul requested a poll last week between Heather Thomas and Heather Locklear. It was a damn close race, but Heather Thomas beat Locklear by a total of 2 votes! A smaller portion voted for a tie between them, but I have to say, that was closer than I expected.

This week was once again spent obsessively watching Veronica Mars, but I have managed to stay current with Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, and more shows. I am still playing catch-up with Boardwalk Empire and Homeland among others though. As far as theatrical releases go, I did see Blue is the Warmest Color, which was fantastic. I doubt this will be expanding to many more areas of in the US so if it is close to you, see it. I also saw Enough Said, which was ok but stands out because of a brilliant performance from James Gandolfini. I also rented Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, which was fun and quite accessible for a Shakespeare adaptation, but not quite as good as Branagh's 1993 version.

If want to know more about my movie tastes, check out my page on Letterboxd by clicking right here. Also, make sure to look at all the great articles and writers at 411, particularly in the Movie-zone because that's where I predominantly am, but all of the zones.



And Happy National Metal Day!



The Questions





Q:

Hey Chad, 

There are some movie sequels that are better (or just as good as) than the original (godfather, star trek, dark knight, empire strikes back). What about 3rd or beyond in a series that is better than the original? The only ones that I can think of are fast and furious series with fast 5/6, revenge of the sith, and lord of the rings.

--David


A:

Over the past decade or so we have received several new sequels (as the third installment or beyond) that are extremely good. Often sequels are vastly inferior to the beginning of their franchise, and the bulk still are poor, but every now and then an awesome one sneaks in. Of course it all depends on much people like the original or the first sequel.

As I researched this I realized there are far more titles that could be considered than I would have initially predicted. I am sure there will be many I don't list here, but this is just a rough list really. Feel free to add your own in the comments section. I won't include some of the titles you mentioned, but here are some you might have forgotten about:

* Toy Story 3 is a 2010 American 3D computer-animated Family comedy film, and the third film in the Toy Story series. It was produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Lee Unkrich, the film was released worldwide from June through October. The screenplay was written by Michael Arndt, while Unkrich wrote the story along with John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton, respectively director and co-writer of the two first films. The plot focuses on the toys Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and their friends dealing with an uncertain future as their owner, Andy, prepares to leave for college.

This is the greatest third installment of any franchise ever. I don't care what anyone says, I doubt anything will top this in my lifetime. Whether or not the series pumps out a Toy Story 4 remains to be seen, but this was quite simply, a masterpiece. I reviewed the Blu-Ray of the film in 2010. To check out my gushing thoughts on it, click here. I still adore The first two Toy Story adventures, not to mention all the shorts, but Andy's departure is one of the most poignant moments of cinema, period.



*The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach in the title roles respectively. The screenplay was written by Age & Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni and Leone, based on a story by Vincenzoni and Leone. Director of photography Tonino Delli Colli was responsible for the film's sweeping widescreen cinematography and Ennio Morricone composed the famous film score, including its main theme. The plot revolves around three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in buried Confederate gold amid the violent chaos of gunfights, hangings, American Civil War battles and prison camps.

People often forget that this iconic western was the final installment in the Dollars Trilogy (or Man With No Name Trilogy if you prefer) following A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and For a Few Dollars More (1965). This is a great movie, and I know that Metallica (who uses "The Ecstasy of Gold" theme to open their concerts) and Quentin Tarantino agree with me. This is one of Clint Eastwood's most memorable roles and rightfully so. No need to elaborate here. If you haven't seen this, do so pronto!



*Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a 1989 American fantasy-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, from a story co-written by executive producer George Lucas. It is the third installment in the Indiana Jones franchise. Harrison Ford reprises the title role and Sean Connery plays Indiana's father, Henry Jones, Sr. Other cast members such as Alison Doody, Denholm Elliott, Julian Glover, River Phoenix, and John Rhys-Davies also have featured roles. In the film, set largely in 1938, Indiana searches for his father, a Holy Grail scholar, who has been kidnapped by Nazis.

Obviously this will be an arguable one for some. I wouldn't say this is better than Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I would say that it's just as entertaining as that movie. Whenever I'm in the mood for Indiana Jones, The Last Crusade is usually the one I pop in the player. Quality-wise they're about the same (not to discount The Temple of Doom), but between the chemistry of Ford and Connery and the intriguing plot, I'm partial to the Holy Grail hunt.



* Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol is a 2011 American action film. It is the fourth film in the Mission: Impossible series. It stars Tom Cruise, who reprises his role of IMF Agent Ethan Hunt, and is director Brad Bird's first live-action film. Ghost Protocol was written by André Nemec and Josh Appelbaum, and produced by Cruise, J. J. Abrams (the third film's director) and Bryan Burk. It saw the return of the first film's editor, Paul Hirsch, and is also the first Mission: Impossible film to be partially filmed using IMAX cameras. The film was released in North America by Paramount Pictures on December 16, 2011.

It was difficult to pick between this and Mission: Impossible III because they are so close in terms of the overall rating I would give them. However, the action sequences in Ghost Protocol were a bit superior in terms of being sensational and endlessly inventive. Had Philip Seymour Hoffman been the villain here instead, it would have been a perfect flick in my opinion. This is a series that gets better with age. I hope Cruise concentrates on churning out more Ethan Hunt adventures and leaves Jack Reacher in the dust. This is where it's at.



*Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a 2005 fantasy film directed by Mike Newell and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film, which is the fourth installment in the Harry Potter film series, was written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman. The story follows Harry Potter's fourth year at Hogwarts as he is chosen by the Goblet of Fire to compete in the Triwizard Tournament. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter alongside Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry's best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. It is the sequel to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and is followed by Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I suppose everyone has a favorite installment of this series. Many critics hold up Alfonso Cuaron's, which I feel is highly overrated, and others might cling to the finale. For me, David Yates brought the franchise down due to the choppiness of the editing in his efforts and making it very clear that they were sloppy book adaptations. But Mike Newell is responsible for the most entertaining installment. It is also very poignant and visually arresting. Goblet of Fire doesn't feel like they had to cut and paste certain portions of the book with no coherency. For me, this is the most accessible story of the entire series. It's also one of the best of the books.



*Three Colors: Red is a 1994 film co-written, produced, and directed by Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski. It is the final film of The Three Colors Trilogy, which examines the French Revolutionary ideals; it is preceded by Blue and White. Kieślowski had announced that this would be his final film, which proved true with the director's sudden death in 1996. Red is about fraternity, which it examines by showing characters whose lives gradually become closely interconnected, with bonds forming between two characters who appear to have little in common.

I find it difficult to separate any installment of this trilogy from the others, and to be honest I think they are all equal, but this is the conclusion regarded in most circles as the best of the trilogy. Kieslowski was such an extraordinary filmmaker and these three films really heightened my love for his work and foreign films as a whole. Check out the brilliant Criterion set if you are not familiar with this trilogy.



*:Insert James Bond Title Here:. Obviously the 007 franchise needs to mentioned at some point during this conversation. If I'm sticking to the specifications set forth by the questioner, I would put Goldfinger at the top, but Casino Royale, Skyfall, and the under appreciated At Her Majesty's Secret Service are also superb sequels that are 3rd or beyond. With Dr. No, Bond was finding his footing. IT was ok, but there was plenty of room for improvement.



*Here are a bunch more: Army of Darkness, The Bourne Ultimatum, Before Midnight, Rambo, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation



RANDOMNESS: Best Space Movies Since 2001: A SPACE ODDYSSEY



Ok, I have a funny feeling I'm going to lose a lot of people on this list. Hopefully you all read this paragraph. I am focusing on movies like Gravity, ones which take place primarily in space and not just on alien planets. I wanted to avoid hitting on general sci-fi as much as possible, but as you'll see, that is hard.

This topic began as a discussion between myself and 411 colleague Jeremy Wilson. Gravity has been compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey by many writers and we got to talking about what the best space films since then would be. And by coincidence, I was asked my opinion on 2001 last week, so I thought this would be a proper time to compile this list. And as usual, this is not in any order.

*Moon is a 2009 British science fiction drama film co-written and directed by Duncan Jones. The film follows Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), a man who experiences a personal crisis as he nears the end of a three-year solitary stint mining helium-3 on the far side of the Moon. It was the feature debut of director Duncan Jones. Kevin Spacey voices Sam's robot companion, GERTY.

I love this movie. It was the directorial debut of Duncan Jones and was yet another showcase of Sam Rockwell's talent and range.



*Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a 1982 American science fiction action adventure thriller film released by Paramount Pictures. The film is the second feature based on the Star Trek science fiction franchise. The plot features James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and the crew of the starship USS Enterprise facing off against the genetically-engineered tyrant Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán), a character who first appeared in the 1967 Star Trek television series episode "Space Seed". When Khan escapes from a 15-year exile to exact revenge on Kirk, the crew of the Enterprise must stop him from acquiring a powerful terraforming device named Genesis.

If I'm going to pick just one of the Star Trek films, it will be this one. Still the best of the entire series.



*Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released as Star Wars, is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first film released in the Star Wars saga and is the fourth in terms of the series' internal chronology.

I debated on whether or not to put any Star Wars movies here because they hopscotch from one alien planet to another, but I figured at least one of them belonged on this list, so why not the first one? I enjoy The Empire Strikes Back just as much as this one, but I decided to spotlight the original.



*WALL-E is a 2008 American CGI science-fiction romantic comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and directed by Andrew Stanton. The story follows a robot named WALL-E, who is designed to clean up a waste-covered Earth far in the future. He falls in love with another robot named EVE, who also has a programmed task, and follows her into outer space on an adventure that changes the destiny of both his kind and humanity. Both robots exhibit an appearance of free will and emotions similar to humans, which develop further as the film progresses.

One of Pixar's numerous classics, WALL-E does not take place entirely in space, but most of it does. This is a fabulous, heartwarming piece of work to this day.



*Apollo 13 is a 1995 American historical docudrama film directed by Ron Howard. The film stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. The screenplay by William Broyles, Jr. and Al Reinert, that dramatizes the 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission, is an adaptation of the book Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by astronaut Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger.

Not everyone loves Ron Howard, but in terms of pure space films, this is easily one of the best since Kubrick's epic. And Tom Hanks rules all of course. I actually have only seen this once. Need to revisit it soon.



*Solaris is a 1972 Russian science fiction art film adaptation of the novel Solaris (1961), directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. The film is a meditative psychological drama occurring mostly aboard a space station orbiting the fictional planet Solaris. The scientific mission has stalled out because the meager skeleton crew of three scientists have fallen into separate emotional crises. Psychologist Kris Kelvin travels to the Solaris space station to evaluate the situation only to encounter the same mysterious phenomenon as the others.

The 2002 remake starring George Clooney was respectable, but the original Tarkovsky space drama is a definite for any best space movie conversation. It goes without saying that the pacing is not for everyone, but it raises many intriguing questions about the nature of love and so forth. I found the themes and visuals riveting. Many called this Tarkovsky's answer to Kubrick's 2001.



*Gravity is a 2013 3D space sci-fi thriller and space drama film directed, co-written, co-produced and co-edited by Alfonso Cuarón. The film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts who survive the mid-orbit destruction of a Space Shuttle and attempt to return to Earth.

We haven't reached the end of the year yet, but any list of great space films since 2001: A Space Odyssey should include this. Some of my picks were probably stretching the definition of "space film" and even still the list wasn't that long. I can't say yet if this will land on my Top 10 of the year, but its merit qualifies it for a spot here. Great acting, great visuals, and enthralling from start to finish.



*The following list of honorable mentions incorporates both space movies and sci-fi titles that have some scenes in space. Basically, this list is a hot mess.

Honorable Mentions: Spaceballs, The Right Stuff, Alien, Aliens, Serenity





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"The plural of Chad is Chad?"
--From the movie Recount





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