Welcome to The Kolb Review; a daily blog covering all the pop-culture you could handle.

Expect some guest posts from our pop-culture liaison Leora Horowitz and sports and movie man Moshe Kolb.
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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why Every Movie Franchise Should Learn From The Fast And The Furious and Flying Head Butts.

As I sat watching Fast 6 with my boys Ari, Marc, Sam, and Danny I was thoroughly impressed. Time after time I say these films are going to be stupid actions flicks and time and time again I am left in awe. You see, somehow, the worst acted movie of all-time became the greatest action series of all-time. Let’s see how that happened and what every movie franchise could learn from the Fast and Furious franchise.
The first film in this series was a ridiculous action flick with fast cars, hot girls, and absolutely horrendous acting. No seriously, go back and re-watch this film. Paul Walker and Vin Diesel offer some of the worst acting to ever hit cinema. The plot ridiculous, the driving sequences faked and fighting telegraphed, yet people came and people watched. As films 2-4 moved along, something amazing started to happen; the films started to not only be entertaining but began to be true action flicks. Horrible tough-guy sayings became classic Fast and Furious lines, ridiculously unrealistic action sequences became expected, and over-the-top jokes became actually funny. So how did this transformation happen?
Two things occurred.

1)      The Fast and The Furious franchise bought into its own ridiculousness.
Having cars fly into boats, having guys been thrown 50 feet in the air only to land on a car windshield without a scratch may seem crazy but they actually became acceptable because the franchise just said, we are going to be ridiculous but are going to be awesome at it. Once you suspend your belief and allow your imagination to run wild, these movies are more than watchable, they are enjoyable. If you try to be a serious movie but have a ridiculous action sequence like Die Hard, it almost comes off as too comical and ruins the integrity of the film. But when you initially go out there and say we are going to do some insane sh*t, then they become good movies.

2)       The Fast and The Furious franchise actually started making awesome movies.
Very often in movie franchises, people get lazy and rely on prior films to continue the fan base. But when your original films are horribly acted and ridiculous, sometimes you actually need to make your movies better than the prior ones. That is what TFATF has accomplished. Around film #3, these movies actually became awesome action films with beautiful scenery, amazing car chases and some of the best action in the past 20 years. Fast 5 brought the franchise to a new level and was objectively and awesomely fun film with insane car chases, and awesome fights including an epic showdown between the Rock and Vin Diesel.  Fast 6 was just as amazing if not better. Amazing driving was actually overshadowed by some amazing fight scenes and martial arts. The shot of a flying headbutt and a tag team move partnering Diesel and The Rock will forever live in movie infamy.

The lesson is as follows. For all movie franchises out there, don’t stop making your films better, don’t be lazy and most importantly, recognize your franchise for what it is and stick with it, embrace the craziness and maybe just maybe you can catch up to The Fast and The Furious!

Action and Violence
No sex or drug usage (bare back of a woman)
4 Stars

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Similar Movies Coming Out At The Same Time

If you were at the theaters recently you may have seen a trailer for the upcoming film White House Down featuring Channing Tatum as a secret service agent who saves the President (Jamie Foxx) when the White House is overrun. You may be thinking to yourself that you just saw this film except the agent was Gerald Butler, the president Aaron Eckhart and the film called Olympus Has Fallen. While I have not seen White House Down, I have seen Olympus Has Fallen and I would be shocked if the Tatum film delivers. It had me thinking of the other times where two movies, with basically the same plot came out at the same time. I even made my picks for the better film.

Armageddon (7/1/98) vs Deep Impact (5/8/98)
Two movies in which a comet/asteroid is hurling towards Earth as some brave astronauts and drillers try to save the nation. While Deep Impact may be a better film in the purest sense, there is no question that Armageddon was the grander and more entertaining film. With more money and a soundtrack to back it up, Armageddon dominated the box office and has cemented itself as the destruction movie of the 90s.
Rotten Tomatoes
Armageddon- 40%
Deep Impact- 46%

Chasing Liberty (1/9/2004) vs First Daughter (9/24/2004)
Two films about the 18 year old daughter of the President of the United States came out in 2004. Both Katie Holmes and Mandy Moore played the role of the daughter who gets frustrated with her constant protection and decides to rebel. In both films however, the girls falls for a boy who in both films happens to be a secret service agent. Both films flopped at the box office but Mandy Moore’s popularity earned Chasing Liberty a better box office return.  Both films stink but the edge probably goes to Chasing Liberty.

Rotten Tomatoes
Chasing Liberty- 19%
First Daughter- 9%

The Illusionist (9/1/2006) vs The Prestige (10/20/2006)
Coming out just a month in a half apart, these two period pieces were set in Europe and explored the world of seemingly supernatural magic and its role in life or death rivalries. Ed Norton starred in the slower yet more mystical Illusionist while Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman starred as dueling magicians in the Prestige. It is almost a joke to compare a Nolan film to anything else so you can trust me when I say that The Prestige wins.

Rotten Tomatoes
The Illusionist- 74%
The Prestige- 75%

Antz (10/2/1998) vs A Bug’s Life (11/25/98)
Two computer animated films about ant colonies dominated the end of 1998. With the same plot of a average ant becoming heroic, I honestly felt like I saw the same film twice. Both of these films were big hits at the box office but A Bug’s Life ($162.8 million) dominated Antz ($90.6) as Disney/Pixar dominated Dreamworks.  It would appear that A Bug’s Life was the winner but when you rewatch these films, you may start to to think that Antz is actually the smarter film.

Rotten Tomatoes
A Bug’s Life- 91%
Antz- 95%

The Truman Show (6/5/1998) vs EdTV (3/26/1999)
These are two films that show both the upsides and downsides of having cameras broadcasting your every move to millions of captivated Americans. As Both Truman (Jim Carrey) and Ed (Matthew McConaughey) are stars of reality TV the films follow a very similar generic plot. However on a closer look, this one is not close. The Truman Show is a fantastic film and is Jim Carrey’s best dramatic role. Truman Show banked on Carrey at the box office and succeeded with $125 million while EdTV only mustered $22.4 million. The Truman Show won awards and simply dominated this battle. We love you Truman!!!!!!!!!

Rotten Tomatoes
The Truman Show- 95%
EdTV- 63%

Saving Private Ryan (7/24/1998) vs The Thin Red Line (1/15/1999)
These were two World War 2 films about a man’s heroic battle while overseas. Saving Private Ryan was directed by Spielberg and starred Tom Hanks. Throw in the fact that it is a superior film and features arguably the greatest battle scene ever captured on camera, this was a no brainer. With numerous Oscar wins and a whopping $216 million to Red Lines’s $36 million, Ryan was simply a superior film on every level.

Rotten Tomatoes
Saving Private Ryan- 94%
The Thin Red Line- 78%

Iron Eagle (1/17/1986) vs Top Gun (5/16/1986)
These two movies are about young hotshot fighter pilots who fight enemy pilots while avenging the loss of these close to them while living up to the destinies of their fathers. Top Gun may not be realistic but it is definitely in the realm of possibility. Iron Eagle on the other hand has a ridiculous pot in which a high school student successfully take on an entire fleet of an unnamed Muslim country. Top Gun earned $176 million and is one of the most quoted and culturally iconic films ever while most people have not heard of Iron Eagle and its $24 million. Winner is easily Top Gun.

Rotten Tomatoes
Top Gun- 55%
Iron Eagle- 50%

Dante’s Peak (2/7/1997) vs Volcano (4/25/1997)
These two films about experiences experts fighting off a Volcanic eruption came out only a few months apart. Dante’s Peak threatens a small town protected by Peirce Brosnan while Volcano has Tommy Lee Jones trying to save LA. Both films were flops at the box office and suffered major losses. While the spectacle of Volcano is greater being filmed in LA, Dante’s Peak is a better all around film.

Rotten Tomatoes
Dante’s Peak- 32%
Volcano- 42%

Mirror Mirror (3/30/2012) vs Snow White and the Huntsman (6/1/2012)
It took tens and tens of years for them to make a Snow White film. Then amazingly they made two of them in the same calendar year. Thankfully, these films were very different and offered a different perspective on the classic story. Mirror Mirror stared Julia Roberts and was a very whimsical and comical look at the classic tale while Snow White and the Huntsman starred Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth and took a very dark and epic look at the story. While SWATH made more money at the box office, the film actually failed to deliver in its goal other than the wonderfully evil Theron. Mirror Mirror went for the whimsical feel and nailed it. It gets our vote.

Rotten Tomatoes
Mirror Mirror- 50%
Snow White and The Huntsman- 48%

Friends With Benefits (7/22/2011) vs No Strings Attached (1/21/2011)

Both of these “sex between friends makes them fall in love” films came out only a few months apart. With tons of star power on both side, we saw JT and Mila Kunis go up against Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. The films are literally the same movie but one takes the comedy part to a new level. Coming off her Oscar winning performance in Black Swan, No Strings Attached dominated the box office using Portman’s popularity. But despite its cute humor and good dynamic between its stars, NSA fell short in comparison with Friends with Benefits. FWB fully bought into the ridiculousness of its story and let JT truly shine. In a very very close one, I have Friends With Benefits by a inch.

Rotten Tomatoes
Friends With Benefits- 71%
No Strings Attached- 49%

Despicable Me (7/9/2010) vs Megamind (11/5/20100
Both of these animated films were extremely successful. In both films, we see a master criminal/villain have a change of heart and become the good guy. Despicable Me starred Steve Carrel and was hillarous at points and cute the other. Megamind starred Brad Pitt and Will Ferrell. In my opinion, Megamind is one of the most underrated films of the last 10 years. I literally could not stop laughing this entire movie. It is essentially Will Ferrell humor at its best. While Despicable Me had the box office chops and will probably live on longer, I absolutely loved Megamind and couldn’t vote against it.

Rotten Tomatoes
Despicable Me- 81%
Megamind- 73%

Capote (9/30/2005) vs Infamous (10/13/2006)
These films came out the same year and focused on the life of infamous writer Truman Capote. While both films didn’t do well at the box office, Capote is clearly the winner. With an Oscar performance by Phillip Seymore Hoffman, Capote was just a better film than Infamous. Infamous starred a big cast with Toby Jones, Daniel Craig, Sandra Bullock, Sigourney Weaver and Gwyneth Paltrow. While it was a good film and focused on the early life of Capote, it just didn’t match PSH’s performance.

Rotten Tomatoes
Capote- 90%
Infamous- 72%

Madagascar (5/27/2005) vs The Wild (4/14/2006)
Less than a year after Pixar brought us the hilarious and still money making film Madagascar, Disney made an attempt at an animated film about zoo animals being released into the wild with it’s The Wild. This one is not even a joke on every level. Let’s put it this way: they are still making Madagascar films which have grossed over a few hundred million dollars and I didn’t know The Wild was ever made until I wrote this blog.

Rotten Tomatoes
Madagascar- 55%
The Wild- 19%

Finding Nemo (2003) vs Shark Tale (10/1/2004)
Both of these animated films about fish and sea creatures came out around the same time. While Will Smith’s Shark Tale had its moments, great animation and funny lines, it doesn’t come close to the dominating Finding Nemo. Finding Nemo is considered by some the best animated film since the Lion King and Toy Story and still lives on in homes today. Winner: Finding Nemo
Rotten Tomatoes
Finding Nemo- 99%
Shark Tale- 36%

Orange County (1/11/2002) vs Stealing Harvard (9/13/2002)
Both of these hilarious films about getting someone into college are underrated comedies of the early 2000’s. OC puts Jack Black and Colin Hanks together as Hank’s character tries to get into Stanford while Stealing Harvard has Tom Green and Jason Lee trying to get Lee’s niece into Harvard. Both of these films have some hilarious moments from both Black and Green and both Hanks and Lee play their roles to perfection. While Tom Green makes me laugh as much as any human being on the planet, I am going to have to go with Orange County as the better overall film.

Rotten Tomatoes
Orange County- 46%
Stealing Harvard- 9%

Powder (10/27/1995) vs Phenomenon (7/5/1996)
Coming out less than a year apart, these two films featured average people with supernatural powers. Both were intriguing films and definitely worth a watch. However in my opinion, Phenomenon is the more clever film and it doesn’t hurt that it had a great performance from John Travolta.

Rotten Tomatoes
Phenomenon- 50%
Powder- 47%


Striptease (7/28/1996) vs Showgirls (9/22/2005)
Both films had popular stars stripping down in these two films. I won’t go into it more but just know that Striptease is by far the better movie. Showgirls is quite ridiculous.

Rotten Tomatoes
Striptease- 11%
Showgirls- 14%

Babe (8/4/1995) vs Gordy (5/12/1995)
Two films about a pig in the same year?? What was 1995 thinking? Babe all the way.

Rotten Tomatoes
Babe- 98%
Gordy- 14%

Little Big League (6/29/1994) vs Rookie of the Year (1993)
These two films featured young boys getting a career started in Major League Baseball; one as a pitcher for the Cubs ,the other as the manager of the Twins. Both are entertaining watches but Rookie of the Year is by far the better film. The movie is as funny as it is fun and I still quote this film with brothers today.

 Rotten Tomatoes
Little Big League- 33%
Rookie of the Year- 39%

Turner & Hooch (7/28/1989) vs K-9 (6/1/1989)
Both of these films feature Cops whos’ partner in fighting in crime is also his best friend, aka a dog. The films came out only a month apart but there is no question that Turner and Hooch starring Tom Hanks was the better overall film.

Rotten Tomatoes
Turner and Hooch- 62%
K-9- 22%

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Movie Trivia

1) The Director has an obsession with plane crashes.
2) The Actor has big dreams to reach the moon.
3) The Film served as an ad for a sporting goods store.
Whats the film???

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One Weekend, Two Very Different Movie Experiences. (Olympus Has Fallen, The Place Beyond the Pines)

This weekend I saw two films. For those of you who are thinking it’s the Omer, yes that is true, but I have asked my Rabbi and been given the ok. So I saw two films. One hand I saw Olympus Has Fallen: a high octane action flick with Gerard Butler playing a secret service agent who must fight off hundreds of Koreans after they take the White House and the President (Aaron Eckhart) hostage. The other film was The Place Beyond The Pines, an artsy film about a Bank robbing motorcyclist (Ryan Gosling) and the cop (Bradley Cooper) who tries to stop him.

What I Expected
On the surface these films just scream two extreme opposites. On one hand, Olympus Has Fallen screams cheesy action flick. With the plot of the White House falling into enemy hands and one man with the help of the interim President (Morgan Freeman) killing all the bad guys, I expected nothing more than an entertaining film. On the flip side, The Place Beyond the Pines was screaming Oscars. With highly acclaimed director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) behind the wheel and Oscar nominated actors behind it, this was a sure hit. With some of the artsy feel of the very good Driven and the action innate to a bank robber film, I was expecting the world from this film.

What I Got
Simply put, Olympus has Fallen was an awesome film. With insanely good action, and surprisingly good acting, the film had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Despite the likelihood of one man dodging every bullet, the film was surprisingly realistic taking into consideration the plot of the film. The takeover of the White House felt very real. The action is awesome, detailed and some of the best and most realistic fight scenes I have seen in quite some time.  Warning, the film is very gory and holds nothing back. This film is not one for the faint of heart. There is even a tint of humor in the film that adds some great breaks from the non-stop violence. After the horrific events in Boston this past week, the audience erupted in a clap at the end, and just a spoiler, USA comes out on top.
To say that I was disappointed in The Place Beyond the Pines is an understatement. People actually walked out of the theater and I found myself asking for the film to end. As always Bradley Cooper was great and Ryan Gosling was electrifying; but sometimes, good acting can’t save a bad film. The film was too artsy for its own good. It tried too hard to teach me a lesson. I don’t want to know when I am being given a message; I just want to get it. The film is oddly paced, split into almost three different stories, the last of which could have easily been cut out of the film and I would have never have noticed.  Had it kept the film to parts 1 and 2, I would have enjoyed/liked the film but not had many gripes with it. However, the last 3rd of the film is so absurd, predictable and poorly done, I almost forgot how decent the first parts were.

Olympus Has Fallen
Sex: None
Violence: One of the gorier films you will ever see.
Language: plenty of cursing
Rated: R
Run time: 120 min
Grade: 4 Stars

The Place Beyond The Pines
Sex: Some sexual references
Violence: Some violence and punching.
Language: plenty of cursing
Rated: R
Run time: 140 min
Grade: 2 Stars

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Some Good Movies With Horrible Endings

No Country For Old Men

This Coen Brother’s masterpiece was an otherwise great film. Sadly the film ending left us with an annoying and dragged out scene with Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) going on and on about a dream he had. I would have much preferred the film ended with the second to last scene in which our assassin Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) kills a victim and then survives a car crash despite a broken limb.

Indiana Jones & Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 
Some may think the whole movie was ridiculous, but really … a circle of crystal aliens coming to life, making things swirl around, blowing up the bad lady’s (Cate Blanchett) head before said aliens zoom off into outer space in a subterranean space ship. Without even ruffling Indy’s fedora? Get real. 

War of the Worlds 
Talk about Good Luck! We didn’t mind that it was germs that did in the evil aliens. But when Ray (Tom Cruise) arrives in Boston to find that his ex-wife's neighborhood as been untouched and his whole family there, safe, waiting for him … well, it all seems a little bit too perfect.

 LOTR: Return of the King 
It ends with Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) making it off that fffing Mt. Doom. No, actually, it ends with Aragon (Viggo Mortensen) becoming king, getting his Elf queen (Liv Tyler) and bowing to the Hobbits. No, wait, it ends with the Hobbits going back the Shire, and Sam marrying his Hobbit lady. Wait, there’s more. It ends with Frodo writing his account of his adventure. Fitting. No, wait -- for heaven sakes already -- it ends with Frodo sailing off into the sunset on some boat with Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Bilbo (Ian Holm) and a bunch of Elves. Is that it? Is it really over? Whew. 

In this otherwise awesome M. Night film about Aliens invading Earth, we were dying to know the big reveal that became MNS’s claim to fame. But when it is revealed that sophisticated Aliens are done in by nothing other than water, it felt like a sell out. Why would sophisticated aliens conquer a planet that is 80% covered by water.

As this quite interesting film comes to a conclusion, most of the characters have been killed as we are told the entire story through flashbacks. So how does this crime/military thriller end? Well basically everyone is still alive and it was all a hoax to cover up an army smuggling ring. Seriously?

Man on a Ledge
I loved the premise of the film and enjoyed 90% of it. Obviously this is an inplausible action/heist film, but the actors were great and I simply enjoyed the film. That was until of course the director essentially got bored of filming and decided to just end the film. So he has our lead, Nick Cassidly, simply jump of a building, amazingly land on a blow up landing pad, and then fight through a crowd of cops to instantly attack Ed Harrison’s villain, revealing the diamond and instantaneously earning his freedom.  I mean literally in the span of 45 seconds Nick is chased by cops, jumps off a building, proves his innocence, and then gets interviewed about how it feels to be a free man.
The Village
MNS’s premise of a colonial village being controlled by mysterious Creatures who hide in the woods was slightly intriguing. Again, as we awaiting the big reveal, we had high expectations. But then once again we are let down. As it is revealed that the village was actually just a walled in compound in modern day times, MNS sat there laughing as he duped us once again.