Category Archives: die hard

The New AMC Marlton 8 Movie Theatre

I admit I was a bit hesitant when I heard the plan. The AMC Marlton Movie Theatre was going to jettison hundreds of seats in order to install new reclining loungers. I thought it was the last gasp of an already dying, perhaps on its last gasp, local theater. My friends and I called it literally ‘the dead theater.’ There was never anyone there, you always got a parking spot in front, and when the news came that they had finally closed, no one would be surprised. Not in the least.

Allow me to swallow those words.

Twenty, thirty years ago, the Marlton 8 as we called it, because it had a multiplex of eight theaters, a novelty at the time, was the happening place to be on the weekend. It was the place to be seen, and the place to see all the latest movies. Every date happened here. Welcome to the 1980s. Die Hard, The Breakfast Club, Amadeus, Batman, Weird Science, Robocop, Dirty Dancing, even Silence of the Lambs, I saw them here, and so did everyone else I knew.

There was a time, with the T.G.I.Fridays and the long forgotten ice cream parlor in the strip mall, every parking spot was taken and police had to direct traffic within the shopping center, sometimes blocking areas off to kids and other foot traffic. Three months ago, and as far back as maybe a decade ago however, the place was a ghost town. Business had moved elsewhere, into Voorhees with the Ritz, now Rave, and into Cherry Hill with the airport terminal sized and customer unfriendly AMC Loews with a whopping twenty-four theaters.

This weekend, The Bride and I had date night, On the Border for dinner and then Jack the Giant Slayer for movie. As this was the first week the Marlton renovation was complete, we chose there. I was stunned when we pulled into the nearly full parking lot. This was the Marlton 8 of old. Things got better as we went inside.

The lobby got a nice repaint and remodel as well. The refreshment area is a bit different too. Besides new menu items like chicken fingers, chicken sliders, pizza, and oh yes, French fries, there were also two Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. Color me impressed.

We did have to wait a while for them to clean the theater before we could go in and sit. I’m thinking it takes more time to clean individual seats than it did previously to just do a quick sweep. The line of impatient folks waiting to get in were not so understanding. I guess no matter how nice a theater is, there will still be jackasses who complain, and talk during the movie, use their cellphones, and bring toddlers to 10 PM showtimes – no way around it. Damn mankind, we’re doomed.

The new seats are incredible, reclining loungers that come in pairs where can pull up the arm between them and cuddle. They also come with three cup holders each and touch controls to go up and down. Sooo nice. I did notice the theater’s current occupancy was now 115 where it used to be between 200 and 300.

This is an incredible risk for the theater financially, especially when you consider we paid a very reasonable price for two prime time 3D tickets, nearly a third less than we would have paid at the Rave or Loews. I hope it succeeds.

I loved this movie experience. I have a new favorite theater. I can’t wait to go back.

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Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook ~ You might have noticed its been quite a while since I posted about any movies currently in theaters. Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been out to a movie. Tonight, after dinner with good friends we haven’t seen in a while, we decided to hit a flick last minute. I wanted Die Hard or The Hobbit, but the ladies settled on multiple Oscar nom rom com drama Silver Linings Playbook.

What a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know all that much about it beyond the noms for best picture, best actor Bradley Cooper, best actress Jennifer Lawrence, best supportings Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver, and best director David O. Russell. Surprisingly all of the noms are well deserved, some might not win, but all well deserved.

Based on the book “The Silver Linings Playbook” by local teacher turned novelist Matthew Quick. That alone lends credibility to the locale of the flick – Philadelphia, as well as the passion for Eagles football so important to the story. That story has bi-polar Patrick (Cooper) trying to repair his life and get his wife back, even though she’s moved on while he was in a mental hospital. Enter Tiffany (Lawrence) widowed and equally flawed, trying to get him back on his feet.

Cooper and Lawrence are no strangers to Oscar, and recently she has gained serious genre cred as Catniss and young Mystique. I think Jennifer Lawrence’s best years are ahead of her, and right now she’s better than most other actresses her age. I loved her here. DeNiro and Weaver are just as good as Cooper’s parents. The whole film is full of terrific performances, including Julia Stiles, Shea Whigham of “Boardwalk Empire,” Anupam Kher, and believe it or not, a completely non-annoying Chris Tucker.

This was a great flick, I definitely see a couple (at least) Oscars coming its way this weekend, but let’s face it. It’s no Die Hard. 😉

Skyfall

Skyfall ~ This twenty-third official James Bond film, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the movie franchise, seems to be at odds with itself in my opinion. There is a passion by the filmmakers to acknowledge the past here even as they backburner and mock it. To quote the new Q as he hands Bond simply a gun and radio, “What did you expect, an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that sort of thing anymore.” Much of the dialogue and the plot is dedicated toward saying the Bond way is passé, over with in this day and age, while simultaneously saying it’s needed. It is a nice balance.

I was not a fan of the first two Daniel Craig Bond films, not because of Craig’s humorless performance, or that they were rebooting the franchise for a new audience, mind you, but more because I resented them putting Pierce Brosnan out to pasture. I enjoyed Pierce quite a bit in the role. And actually Craig does a subtle humorous turn and smirk in this one. He’s winning me over. Daniel Craig is book perfect when it comes to James Bond, but I’ve been spoiled by the movie versions, and expect a little something extra, ya know?

What really brought this film to life for me was director Sam Mendes. His stunning and startlingly different visuals light up and dim the screen significantly and lend specific mood and atmosphere to every sequence. Most stunning are the Shanghai scenes, beautiful camera work. I recently had the chance to peruse and review Greg Williams’ book Bond on Set: Filming Skyfall over at Biff Bam Pop!, and while an amazing picture book, it doesn’t hold a candle to the actual film in vibrancy and spectacle.

Craig is flawless, as is Judi Dench as M, and new girl Naomie Harris, and Ralph Fiennes is a pleasant surprise. I absolutely loved Ben Whishaw as the new Q, but that was easy because I love him in everything he’s in, especially “The Hour.” A major complaint however comes in the form of Javier Bardem as the villain Raoul Silva. Not just over the top evil like most Bond villains, but he’s also a bit creepy in a stereotype homosexual pedophile kind of way, so creepy in fact, that he comes off like a bad joke. He is as out of place in a Bond flick as say… Jaws and his girlfriend in Moonraker. For a franchise trying to upscale itself in the audience’s eyes, Bardem was a mistake.

The opening action sequence is perhaps one of the best I’ve seen in a while (Tomorrow Never Dies is still my favorite). The title theme song by Adele better than average and appropriate. What makes me sad is that for a movie that embraces its heritage, gives nods to its history, and celebrates its characters, even adding to their origins – it seems to back step into a simple vengeance storyline rather than a clever spy thriller – which is what it should be. I mean, let’s face it, the last sequences of this film could have easily been a Denzel action flick or perhaps another Die Hard. Revenge is the easy way out. I want to see Bond save the world, for Queen and for Country.

All that said, I really enjoyed this movie, from the fantastic visuals of director Mendes to the titanic score by Thomas Newman, Skyfall was a terrific Bond film. Recommended.

Disney’s A Christmas Carol

Disney’s A Christmas Carol ~ I’m a sucker for Christmas movies. Whether it’s the original Miracle on 34th Street or infamous Mexican Santa Claus from 1959 or It’s a Wonderful Life or Die Hard, I love ‘em. There are those that just put me in the holiday spirit and I have to see them every year, and A Christmas Carol is the granddaddy of them all.

I have seen literally dozens of movie versions of the story, and that’s not counting all the TV sitcoms that have done their own takes, but the absolute finest one is the 1951 version starring the incomparable Alistar Sim as Scrooge. Nobody does it better, and only a few even come close. So when I heard that Disney and Jim Carrey were remaking it in 3-D, I was tentative, and when I saw the previews – I was really turned off. I did not go into this flick with a good feeling.

Jim Carrey stars as Scrooge and as the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present among other things. Actors Cary Elwes and Colin Firth also take multiple roles. It’s an interesting version of the story, if unnecessarily dark and ugly, and far too scary for the kids. The only places it truly falters are where it deviates from the actual story. The only word I have for when it turns into a thrill ride in the third act is horrendous. Why? Is there an actual ride on its way to a theme park near you? That I hated.

There are also bits where Jim Carrey shows off his Jim Carrey-ness and completely takes me out of the movie. But then again, I imagine the beginnings of this project lie with Carrey doing imitations of Alistar Sim for writer/director Robert Zemekis anyway. And speaking of Sim, his crown is still safe. This one isn’t even in the top ten versions of the story.

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My Secret Shame

Paul Blart: Mall Cop ~ Often when I’m writing I will have the TV on as background noise. For fiction I usually require a soundtrack or a playlist, but non-fiction I just need background noise. In the afternoons I set the channel and just leave it run – turns out by cosmic design or just dumb luck I have involuntarily absorbed quite a lot of “The King of Queens.” It seemed like the show was always on, too, whether it was TBS or the CW, its programming was almost endless. The scary part, and this is confession time here, folks, I started to like the show. Yes, it’s true, Kevin James grew on me like a fungus.

So when I started seeing ads and previews for Paul Blart: Mall Cop, aired conveniently during the show that’s always on, “The King of Queens,” my interest was more than piqued. Yeah, as bad as it looked, I wanted to see it. This is my secret shame. I waited until it hit DVD so I wouldn’t feel so dirty.

It’s not bad, one might even say it’s good. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not talking Citizen Kane here, folks. We’re not even talking Mothra Vs. Godzilla, but it’s a matter of expectations. Mall Cop has that warning label on it, you know, the one that says this is a Happy Madison film, indicating that Adam Sandler was involved – always a bad sign.

As far as expectations go, I was fairly correct in my assessment as the movie started. It’s so formulaic and almost painful to watch – until – until it becomes Die Hard in a mall. And I’m not saying “Die Hard in a mall” the way those pitchmen in Hollywood would try to get a flick made – but I mean it in a literal way. Paul Blart: Mall Cop truly is Die Hard in a mall. And I just don’t mean if the bad guys were acrobats on X-bikes and Bruce Willis is a fat guy on a segueway.

Mall Cop follows its inspiration in plot and theme and at moments in duplicating shots. It’s really something to behold. It’s like watching Mel Brooks pay tribute to old movies, there’s a respect that is truly sincere. Again, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is not a great film, but as far as expectations go, it’s a good film. Check it out if there’s nothing else on.

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Popcorn Quickies 4-21-2009

10,000 B.C. ~ Ever since Roland Emerich and Dean Devlin ruined Godzilla I have been wary of any Centropolis film. And when I saw previews of 10,000 B.C. my first thought was it was a way of cashing in on some new state of the art special effects and also the flood of prehistoric programming on the Discovery networks. When it finally came around on the cable I took a peek just to see the effects, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a hero’s journey story in the Joseph Campbell vein that follows a primitive man into the world of wannabe gods building pyramids with saber-tooth tigers and wooly mammoths thrown in for good measure – and it’s quite good, or at least tons better than I expected. Worth taking a chance to check out, good adventure fodder.

Live Free or Die Hard ~ When you Google the term ‘popcorn movie’ it should take you right to the movie poster for this flick. If you’ve seen any of the other Die Hard movies, or any Bruce Willis action flick really, there are no real surprises here. Willis knocks a helicopter out of the sky with a car because he’s out of bullets, and it’s got Kevin Smith, really, what more could you ask for? Munch lots of popcorn and call it a night’s entertainment, you’ll be satisfied.

Timecrimes ~ Also known as Los Cronocrimenes is a brilliant but just a tad predictable time travel thriller from independent Oscar-nominated writer/director Nacho Vigalondo. He also acts in this one. It’s slow, and thought-provoking, a different pace from most time travel stories but meticulously planned and not without twists. Stay with it, even when you think you’ve got it figured out – it can be surprising even when you think you’ve got it figured out.

Star Trek: Nemesis ~ The final Trek film before the powers-that-be decided a complete reboot of the franchise is not as bad as I would have thought. The Enterprise crew from the “Next Generation” TV series find themselves caught in the center of a hostile takeover in the Romulan Empire, one masterminded by, as it turns out, a clone of Captain Picard. Hilarity ensues. While there are nice touches and cute nods and nudges throughout, this is really just an action flick in Trek dressings. I can see why hardcore fans were disappointed in what was considered, even then, the final voyage for these characters. Lotsa action and special effects, but it could have so much more, and definitely not as much of a rehash of Wrath of Khan as it seems to be. Recommended if it’s on free TV.

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