The Rocketeer (1991)

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Hey there and welcome to the second installment of Something Borrowed, Something Viewed. I figured that the randomly selected movie option, which gave me The Jungle Book last week, worked really well so why not give it a go again? And boy did it randomly deliver! The Rocketeer is one of those movies where every time I watch it I love it more. Which leads me to then question why I haven’t given it more time. Even stranger is that I don’t seem to watch it any more regularly regardless of how much I enjoy it.

Ok before we move on any further, and I’ve got a bit of gushing to do over The Rocketeer, let’s just address something here. The Rocketeer is 26 years old! If you’re like me that blew my mind apart. But what’s even more incredible is how the film holds up. At no time did The Rocketeer feel outdated. From story, to effects, to acting and even the feel of the movie. It just feels like something that could get released today and people would love it. What’s even crazier was that when the film was released in ’91 it was considered a huge flop as it barely made its budget back through the domestic market. Why? In short Disney pushed the movie hard but audiences were left feeling let down as well as they wanted to see lots of jet pack filled action when in reality it’s an adventure movie with Nazi’s as villains and everyone is trying to get their hands on that jet pack. The reality is that this is actually why it works and why as time has gone on it has become loved by people.

One thing you’ll find when I talk about movies is that I’m not really a favourite actor kind of guy. Sure there are a few I love to watch in films but generally it’s because of who they are working with behind the camera. I love films by Brad Pitt because he generally works with the best directors, especially if he teams up with Fincher. I’ll throw my wallet at the movie screen because they can have my money there and then! Perhaps I’ll invest the time and write a list of the directors who I just love watching their work but right now I want to talk about one director in particular. Joe Johnston.

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When I think of a Joe Johnston movie I think of an adventure and I know he may not be a household name but when you see what he has worked on you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Johnston started his career working as a concept artist and effects technician on a small film named Star Wars and was involved with all three of the original trilogy as well as winning an academy award for his effects work on Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The first film he directed holds a special place for me when it comes to my love of films purely because it is one of my favourite movie memories. At 7 years old, my family and I all went out to dinner at a restaurant called Sizzler, which back then was a special thing, where it just so happened was also where the West Indies cricket team decided to dine that evening. I got to meet the players and get their autographs and needless to say I was star struck. After that we went next door to the video game arcade and followed it up with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids at the cinemas. It was a big, no pun intended, adventure of a movie and really set the tone for what Johnston would go onto to do so well in his other films like The Rocketeer, Jumanji, Jurassic Park III and Captain America: The First Avenger. Even his other films like October Sky and The Wolfman still have a sense of wonder to them, and if I’m being honest after watching The Rocketeer all I want to do is go back and revisit The Wolfman.

But knowing his cinematic upbringing took place amongst the George Lucas and Steven Spielberg creative teams it’s no wonder that that sense of adventure and childlike wonder is so prevalent within his films. It’s something I just love and something that really could have been lost in The Rocketeer. Without it the film could have been a motorised version of Superman but instead you end up with a hybrid of Indiana Jones and Batman and that’s why so many people love it. It’s familiar and yet it’s fresh. It’s comic book-esque without ever becoming too cartoony. It really does have such a great balance and it’s something I whole heartedly attribute to Johnston.

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Something that really jumped out at me while watching The Rocketeer was how much of a connection it shared with Iron Man. The moments in The Rocketeer with Howard Hughes, played by the awesome Terry O’Quinn, I was struck by how much like a young Howard Stark he was. The more I thought about it the more I couldn’t shake that feeling and after some research it turns out the Tony Stark was based on Howard Hughes and his father even is named after Hughes. It all makes so much sense especially when Johnston would later direct the first Captain America film featuring a young Howard Stark and I have to say Johnston nails the feel in Captain America. It’s like an extension of the same universe in which The Rocketeer lives.

As I mentioned earlier, I could talk all day long about how much I love The Rocketeer but I’m going to show some restraint and rein it in but before I finish up I’ve got to sing the praise of one more part of the film, that is often overlooked in how vital it is, and that it the work of composer James Horner. The entire soundtrack is beautiful but the main theme, which I’ll post below for you to hear, is one that I believe is up there with some of the best. It’s filled with such a sense of wonder that I can’t help but imagine soaring above the clouds.

If you haven’t worked it out I love this movie and I’m so glad it was randomly selected as it did exactly what a movie is supposed to do. It made me smile, it made me remember, it got me nerding out.

Until next time

Geoff

The Jungle Book (2016)

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As a movie fan/nerd/buff/freak the idea of writing again is something that is a really exciting prospect. Especially when I haven’t really done it for a few years and once I had made my mind up regarding actually starting to write again I was left with a real problem.

Which movie do I write about as my first entry onto this blog?

I could go with one of my “go to movies” but every time I picked something I couldn’t help but feel like I was putting way too much thought into it. In the end I figured “why not leave it to chance?” So I did just that. I have an app which logs every movie I own and I let it randomly select one of the films I own and so the first movie I am writing about is the live action remake of Disney’s The Jungle Book.

This was only the second time I’d seen The Jungle Book and I can remember how hesitant I was to see it the first time. The idea of Disney remaking the classics into live action felt like an unnecessary cash grab to me. Needless to say this became one of those Geoff couldn’t let it go things and it just wasn’t a priority to see for me. When I did finally get around to seeing it I got why the hype was there. It was a worthy remake and actually brought a classic into the modern age without compromising on what the animated film had at its core. Not to mention how bonkers those visual effects are, or should I say Academy Award winning special effects!

But the thing that really jumped out at me, and upon further thought on director Jon Favreau’s other work, was just how good his casting for each film is. The man has helmed films that cast Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Will Ferrell as Buddy in Elf, sure we won’t go into too much detail about Cowboys & Aliens as a film but still he had Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in that film! The Jungle Book managed to cast an incredible Mowgli in Neel Sethi. Let’s just put some perspective on it, he is the only human actor in the shots. The rest is all done in post-production, meaning this little guy carried the film on his own without being able to bounce off of the heavy weights who provide their voices to all the animated characters. Just look at the below photo of the scene where he is riding down the river on Baloo. The other thing that is really present in this shot and from a few behind the scenes videos I’ve watched is how well director Jon Favreau works with Sethi, coaching him through the process.

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On top of that let’s rattle of some names of the huge vocal cast Favreau and his casting director Sarah Finn have put together. Idris Elba as Sher Khan, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa and Christopher Walken as King Louie who almost steals the show as a giant orang-utan king but the film completely belongs to Bill Murray as Baloo. His voice completely embodies the character and his huge loveable personality that borderlines on deceptive but yet you can’t be mad at him at all because it’s Bill Murray voicing Baloo!

So this is the inevitable part of this article where I tell you whether or not I actually enjoyed the film. The truth is I enjoyed it the first time and enjoyed it even more the second time. It’s one of those movies where despite it being a remake/reimagining it is executed so well that it rises above the burden that being known as a “remake” can bring a film. I mentioned it earlier but the way in which The Jungle Book is able to be its own film without losing the heart and qualities that the animated version had is quite a feat and so while I was sceptical before I now look forward to seeing what Favreau can do with his live action The Lion King.

Until the next movie,

Geoff

 

Something Borrowed, Something New

I find writing to be a therapeutic thing for me. It’s like I have an opportunity to verbally regurgitate through my fingertips. It clears my mind and is a heck of a lot easier to delete if upon reading back what I’ve written seems ridiculous, wrong, too opinionated or just doesn’t sit right with me.

So there’s the why I write.

I’ve always loved movies. From a young age I remember watching films like Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Goonies with my family, mainly my Mum. On top of this we were a Disney family and that sense of heart behind every story is something that still resonates with me now. A special outing would be a family trip to the movies and some of my favourite memories are us going out for dinner and then seeing a movie, if we were lucky we might even get to go to the arcade next door to watch the giant slot car racing track.

Movies became something I loved because they were moments shared, whether it be with family, friends or even a complete group of strangers within a cinema. A few years ago my friend and I were sitting at work talking about movies and the discussion led to us lamenting the fact that everywhere we went online to read about movies it just felt like there wasn’t much love at all. Sure it is easy to poke fun at a bad movie but within that movie was a team of people who worked pretty hard to bring that idea and premise to life. We began to wish for a place online where despite a movie not being good people who were writing about them would try and find the good in them and focus on that rather than all the negatives. From this conversation our own website was born and for 3 or so years we wrote every single day about films. Sadly, life became the beast that it is and we had to let go of our beloved website but writing about films is something I still love.

And there’s why this blog is about movies.

So I hope you like this blog where I will randomly write about movies that I watch or random movie related thoughts that pop into my head. In it I’ll keep that focus on the positives and I’m not going to make any promises to how often I write, my only promise is that I won’t make this a place about burning on something that someone tried hard to make the best thing they could.

I hope you enjoy the journey with me,

Geoff

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