Archive for July, 2010


The Girl Who Played With Fire, And Salt

The Girl Who Played With Fire, And Salt

July 26th 2010

As my Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon Man year long experiment is about to reach the halfway point I’m realizing that I feel like I’m running out of movies to see or there are less major studio movies being released this year. However there are a good amount of independent films being released. The only problem, its more difficult to do an all day marathon at an independent movie theater house than a AMC or Regal theater chain. The main reason of course is that there are fewer screens to sneak around too. But the independent movies need love too and I’m here to support them. Today I planned to see a major studio release in a major movie chain and then go to a smaller theater to see a foreign independent release.

Today I went to a 14-screen AMC theater today to see the first movie at 10:40am. This theater isn’t in my top 5 theaters here in the Atlanta area, but the show times were in my favor and this AMC was only 5 minutes away from the smaller theater I had plans to go to later. The film I went to go see this morning was Salt (2010) starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor. As a CIA officer, starring Angelina Jolie’s character Evelyn Salt swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. This movie was what I expected to see. I would call it an action thriller. The move is about 90 minutes and this was the perfect running time. At times this film felt like it was running in real time, which is what made this film very fun to watch. This reminded me of the adrenaline rush I would get as a fan of the TV series “24” (2001).  As expected Angelina Jolie did not disappoint. She can act and kick some ass, which is what she did very well in this movie. This movie had its twist and turns. I’m proud to say that I guessed the twist in this film way before it happened, cause I rock that way. One of my favorite things about this film was actor Liev Schreiber. Not only is this guy a great actor, he steals the spotlight from his co-stars. He also has a great voice, which can be heard as the narrator in the wonderful History Channel series America: The Story of Us”. Angelina Jolie was surrounded by a good cast of actors. Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays an agent chasing Salt shined as well. This was a good summer film go check it out.

My plan was to see another film after Salt, like Inception or Knight and Day. Both films I have already seen of course. But today was a beautiful day, hot, but still beautiful. I had an urge to get a good bike ride in later today. So after one movie at this theater I left to catch an earlier showing at 1:15pm at the smaller theater to see The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009) starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist. This movie is the second film of the movie trilogy inspired by author Stieg Larsson‘s hugely popular crime books know as the “Millennium” Trilogy. The trilogy started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009). You can see my earlier blog post about that movie here:

The third and yet to be released film of this trilogy is called The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2009). I must clarify; this foreign trilogy has been released in its native country Sweden and parts of Europe. It looks that the US releases of this films are to be spread out during this year of 2010. I did not read the books at all, come on, you should now that by now, I’m a movie guy. I don’t have time for reading books. I really liked the first film of the trilogy: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The series caught my interest when I found the book on my girlfriend’s shelf and a co-worker who read the book went on how great it was. After seeing the second movie The Girl Who Played with Fire today, I’m hooked. These movies are great thrillers. This movie continues the harrowing adventures of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist who investigate a sex-trafficking ring, Lisbeth is accused of three murders, causing her to go on the run while Mikael works to clear her name. The suspense and intrigue in these films keep you glued to your seat (unless of course you have to take a huge piss after drinking a large diet coke from a previous movie theater visit). The main actors: Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist are both riveting in their respective roles. These are foreign films with subtitles, but that didn’t take away anything for me like it does with many US English speaking movie fans. As I mentioned before there is an English major studio remake in the works for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is scheduled to be released in 2011. It is to be directed by David Fincher and will star current 007 Bond star Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist. Check out these Swedish films people, its good filmmaking and a lot of fun!

 Stay tuned; I’ve got a “Top 101 Movie List” coming out shortly. Stay teased!

 Your movie nerd,

 –          Spartan Phoenix

Total movies seen in the theater to date since February 1st 2010:  91

  • February           2010: Movies Seen: 12
  • March              2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • April                 2010: Movies Seen: 16
  • May                  2010: Movies Seen: 18
  • June                 2010: Movies Seen: 19
  • July                  2010: Movies Seen: 12

Inception, A Message For Leo / The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Inception, A Message For Leo / The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Saturday July 17th, 2010

As usual I scheduled a 4 to 6 movie marathon today, but only two movies were new releases. The others were ones I had seen before but was interested in seeing again, as usual. I ended up only seeing the two movies. Besides I had a feeling I wanted to spend the late afternoon getting some exercise. As I’ve said before some days I can lose myself in a movie theater all day and night and feel completely comfortable doing so. However some days I know cabin fever will set in and I need to get out after a couple of movies. This was one of those days. But I was very excited about the two movies I would see today.

The first movie I saw today started at 9:45 am. It was the IMAX showing of the movie Inception (2010) starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy and Marion Cotillard. This IMAX Theater of course was the converted IMAX at my favorite AMC. It’s a nice screen, but not a real IMAX Theater in my opinion. For more of my thoughts on this please see an earlier blog entry on mine about fake IMAX screens. That link is here:

Inception (2010) is one of those movies worth seeing on the big screen especially an IMAX screen. This movie is directed by Christopher Nolan whose last film was The Dark Knight (2008). Visually this movie is very entertaining, this has become a Christopher Nolan trait. This movie is about a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion where a single idea within one’s mind can be the most dangerous weapon or the most valuable asset. I guess this movie is considered a heist film, but I forgot this during the middle of the film cause the plot is very complex when you first see it. You lose sight of why they are doing what they’re doing. I found myself saying, this is cool shit, but I forgot why they were there and sneaking into this guys dreams. There’s the “lets invade a dream within a dream within a dream” thing. The plot gets complicated but the editing is done very well to bring the whole thing together at the end. I’ll see it again and I’m sure it will piece together much easier.

I loved the cast too. The team that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character puts together for this heist is a great cast and enjoyable to watch. My two favorites are played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character has a great fight scene in zero gravity. Tom Hardy’s character was my favorite. What was bugging me was that I recognized him from another film role during this movie but couldn’t place it, It wasn’t till I started writing this blog entry that I found out on that he played the main villain Praetor Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). Being a Star Trek nerd too, I thought this was very cool. One other cool noteworthy thing about this film was the music. The score was vary captivating, especially during the action sequences.

I had only one problem with this film, and it’s with Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio. I have an open message to Mr. Leo. I get it; you’re a great actor. You’ve worked with legendary directors and have already had a career that most actors would dream of having. Your recent movie choices like Shutter Island, Revolutionary Road, Body of Lies, Blood Diamond, The Departed and The Aviator are good films. But I’m starting to see the same depressed and stressed character acting from you. I’m getting tired of it man. Dude, lighten up! How about doing a romantic comedy or adventure film. Try smiling once too. The last time I remember your character smiling was in Catch Me If You Can (2002). Also Leo, I have a message to you and Martin Scorsese. It’s the same message I would have for Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, take a long break on working together again. Your movies are becoming familiar and formulaic.

The second film I saw today was The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010) starring Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel and Alfred Molina. This film is loosely based on the Mickey Mouse cartoon short in the Disney film Fantasia (1940). The plot is about Master sorcerer (Nicolas Cage) who recruits a nerdy college student (Jay Baruchel) in his mission to defend New York City from his arch-nemesis played by Alfred Molina.

As a kid I remember my mom taking me to see the original Fantasia during one of its re-releases. It’s a collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music and the original Sorcerer’s Apprentice was Mickey Mouse. Who could forget when Mickey used his under developed magic to command the mops and brooms to clean for him and things got a bit out of hand. Well I’m happy to say that fans of this original Mickey Mouse Sorcerer’s Apprentice will be treated with a fun scene from this new The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010) that pays tribute to the original.

I really enjoyed this film. It’s a good fun adventure film, with cool effects. It was filmed in New York, which served as another cool cast member of the film. New York filmed movies are always a treat to the theatergoers if done right, like this one. Nicolas Cage was a good Master sorcerer. He has a great look too and was played the part with entertaining charisma. I can see his sorcerer look becoming a Halloween favorite. Jay Baruchel played the nerdy apprentice to the tee. He was charming too. Alfred Molina is a great character actor and was a perfect choice for the bad guy Horvath. What I thought was interesting was the part of the evil sorceress Morgana played by actress Alice Krige, was also the evil Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact (1996). Hmmm, two Star Trek references in one blog, nerd alert! I guess Alice Krige plays baddies well. After seeing the intense and emotional serious movie Inception, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010) was a great escape with more humor. Wanna have fun at the movies? See this film.

Till next week, – Spartan Phoenix

Total movies seen in the theater to date since February 1st 2010:  89

  • February        2010: Movies Seen: 12
  • March              2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • April                 2010: Movies Seen: 16
  • May                  2010: Movies Seen: 18
  • June                 2010: Movies Seen: 19
  • July                  2010: Movies Seen: 10

Predators Return! Despicable Me In 3D Please! I want my Black & Tan!

Predators Return! Despicable Me In 3D Please! I want my Black & Tan Georgia!

July 10th, 2010

Cool, movie marathon today and my girlfriend will meet up with me for the last movie for date night! How cool is that? My girlfriend Jane and I made plans to meet up tonight at the movie theater at 7pm where I start my movie marathon at 10am. My Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon yearlong experiment continues to be fun. But it becomes extra fun when Jane can join me. Including the movie that Jane and I will see together tonight I planned a five movie marathon including a partial movie to kill time between two full length movies. I went to the big AMC theater near Jane’s house, which has one of the converted (fake) IMAX screens. I like this theater cause its large and has a lot of room to maneuver between theaters.


The first movie I saw today was The A-Team (2010) starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Sharlto Copley. I really wanted to see this movie again. The first time I saw it was at the midnight premiere when I broke my personal move marathon record of seeing 8 movies in one theater visit. You can see that blog post here:

This move was just as much fun the second time around. I thought it was a great big screen adaptation of the TV show. Good casting choices too. Treat yourself and have fun at this movie before it leaves the big screen, its worth a theater visit.


The second movie I saw was The Karate Kid (2010) starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan and Taraji P. Henson. I had already seen this movie, but I wanted to see it again too. I feel this remake has enough original material to stand on its own. Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan do very well in their roles as student and teacher. I loved the fact that the film was shot in China; it’s a beautiful country.


The third film I saw today was Predators (2010) starring Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Laurence Fishburne and Danny Trejo. I’m a big fan of the Predator and Alien movies. The individual Predator or Alien movies stand on their own better than the Alien vs. Predator movies where the two species are pitted against each other in battle. The like the human vs. Predator battles more than the human vs. Alien. Although the Alien movies are more suspenseful which make them special.  I was really looking forward to this new Predators (2010) movie for one reason: Robert Rodriguez. Robert is one of the producers and his film company was used to make the movie. Having the movie in his hands sort of speak meant that he would be true to the original Predator (1987) movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This movie did not disappoint. This movie is a direct sequel from the original. This is explained in the movie. In this film, members of the merciless alien race known as Predators hunt a group of human warriors. But the twist is these humans are kidnapped form Earth and placed on a Predator hunting planet for the live game hunt.

The best part of this movie is the diverse cast playing the human warriors. As you watch the film you start to pick your favorite character. It may change later in the film when the characters start to develop even more. My favorite was the character that had the least lines, the Yakuza character played by Louis Ozawa Changchien. His fight scene was my favorite too. The other character I liked was the death row inmate played by Walton Goggins who can also be seen in one of my new favorite TV shows called “Justified”. Adrien Brody’s character was the alpha male leading the motley crew of human predators. He bulked up for the role, which surprised me cause he’s always been the skinny guy in his films. The movie had a couple of surprises and twists. If you’re a fan of this genre and the original Predator (1987) film, check this new one out. I don’t think you will be disappointed.


 The fourth film I saw was the 3D showing of Despicable Me (2010) starring the voice talents of Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand and Julie Andrews. This CG (computer generated) animated film is about a trio of orphan girls who cause the normally deplorable and evil genius super villain Gru voiced by Steve Carell to rethink his plan to steal the moon to upstage a rival. As I’ve done before I brought my own 3D glasses to the theater. But I would have paid the extra money for the 3D ticket if this were my first film of the day. Now, you should know by now if you’re a regular reader of my movie blogs that I try to see all 3D movies that are released instead of the 2D versions, at least at first. I do this for you because I believe that not all 3D movies are worth the extra charge to your ticket when seeing the 2D version could be a better movie value. I feel you should know if the extra 3D cost is worth your money. Trust me, I’m here for you, heh heh.

In the case of Despicable Me, Its worth seeing in 3D, trust me. This movie is slickly stylish and a wonder in 3D. The characters are visually fun and entertaining to see. There is a roller coaster scene that is great to see in 3D. I actually got “roller coaster tummy” watching this scene. Its the same feeling I get when I’m riding an actual roller coaster or when I go down a steep hill in my car at a fast speed. I think you all know that feeling. Steve Carell did an awesome job voicing the evil but likable Gru as well as the rest of the cast did with their characters. This movie is a must see in 3D. See it bitches!

After Despicable Me I had an hour to kill before my movie date with Jane. So I went to see the last half of the movie Get Him to the Greek (2010) starring Russell Brand and Jonah Hill. I had just heard Russell Brand’s voice in the movie Despicable Me as he voiced one of the characters in that movie. I had already seen Get Him to the Greek during its opening week. It’s a funny movie worth seeing again, even if only half of it. During this last half of this movie I shared a couple of text messages with Jane. She was running about 10 minutes late for our movie meet up which was fine cause she would only miss the previews.


The fifth and final movie I saw in my movie marathon was Letters to Juliet (2010) starring Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Egan and Vanessa Redgrave. This was the movie I saw with my girlfriend Jane for the beginning of our date night. I had already seen this film in a movie marathon during the films first opening week. After I saw this film I new this should be a movie I should share with Jane too. I was very happy that she agreed to see it with me while it was still playing in the theater. This was the only theater still showing this movie. When Jane arrived she looked hot and beautiful. She had just had her hair done and she bought a new outfit that compliments her style. She smelled good too, mmmm snarf, snarf! Jane really enjoyed this movie about an American girl on vacation in Italy finds an unanswered “letter to Juliet” — one of thousands left at the fictional lover’s Verona courtyard, which are typically answered by a the “secretaries of Juliet” — and she goes on a quest to find the lovers referenced in the letter. A message to my fellow dudes out there, this is a good date move. Make this movie an opportunity for you and your Juliet, or in my case Jane.

Our date didn’t end with the end of the movie. Jane and I went out to dinner and enjoyed a fine feast at a restaurant called California Dreaming. My only problem was one I seem to find quite frequently in most Georgia restaurants; I cant seem to get my favorite beer made, a Black and Tan. They either don’t have the Bass or they don’t have the Guinness , WTF? When I lived in California I didn’t seem to have a problem getting my Black and Tans. Mmmmmmm, my lovely Black and Tans. It’s real easy to make Georgia! Check it out:

And this it what it looks like: 

Till next time my movie nerds! – Spartan Phoenix

Total movies seen in the theater to date since February 1st 2010:  87

  • February        2010: Movies Seen: 12
  • March              2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • April                 2010: Movies Seen: 16
  • May                  2010: Movies Seen: 18
  • June                 2010: Movies Seen: 19
  • July                  2010: Movies Seen: 8

The Last Airbender 3D, Cyrus, Twilight: Eclipse … Again.

 The Last Airbender 3D, Cyrus, Twilight: Eclipse … Again.

July 6th 2010

Hello July. The Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon Man year long experiment continues and is almost halfway done. The summer movie season is in full throttle. The major big screen blockbusters have paved their trail, but lets not forget about the smaller independent films out there too. Today I had scheduled a full day and night movie marathon. As usual I printed out my schedule and folded it up and slid it into my wallet. Part of me wanted to keep it only to a 3-movie marathon. I had the urge to ride my bike later before I lost the daylight. Most of the time when I enter a daylong movie marathon, I leave when I feel like it.


The first movie in today’s marathon was The Last Airbender (2010) in 3D. Now normally I would see a 3D movie later in the marathon and bring my own 3D glasses. But this time went to a AM showing at a matinee discount price so I didn’t mind paying extra for the 3D glasses charge. This movie is directed by M. Night Shyamalan who’s last 3 films (The Happening, Lady in the Water , The Village ) kind of opened up a can of suck each. Especially The Happening, my god was that bad. “Oooooo, lets be afraid of the air!” Ugh.

 The Last Airbender (2010) stars Noah Ringer, Jackson Rathbone (who also currently stars in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse), Nicola Peltz and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire (2008)). Visually this movie was entertaining. The costumes, sets and weapons were very cool. This move is about the adventures of Aang, a young successor to a long line of Avatars, who must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations. Whats interesting is the Fire Nation leading cast members (who are the bad guys) were played Indian (India) cast members. I thought this was in interesting casting choice. M. Night Shyamalan who was born in India himself must have had fun casting these cool characters of the Fire Nation.

My only problem with the film was the over use of what I like to call the “Tai Chi posturing”. It seems that the martial arts form of Tai Chi was used to summon and control the powers of the different elements in the film. It seems you must go through several Tai Chi postures and stances like kind of look like a dance. But after the first few times it got kind of old. It like watching a person in a dance contest that does a very cool routine that catches your attention. But then they do the same dance again, and again, and again, when you’re expecting something new.

Overall I though the movie was OK, It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great, but it was interesting. The movie ends with the obvious possibilities of sequels. I think M. Night Shyamalan has plans for a trilogy. One last note, I don’t think this film deserves your extra ticket charge for the 3D glasses. Seeing this in 2D will suite you just fine.


            The second film in my marathon was Cyrus (2010) starring John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener. It’s about a divorced loser guy played by John C. Reilly who meets the woman of his dreams (Marisa Tomei.) Then he meets her son (Jonah Hill) and problems ensue. When I first saw the trailers for this film, it seemed like it was a black comedy that would make me laugh. Critics were calling this film “Killer Funny, the sharpest comedy at Sundance”. Maybe I missed something, but boy was this untrue. I didn’t laugh once during this film. This film was depressing and uncomfortable. I expected some humor of some kind in this film especially with the funny men John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill in this film. Didn’t happen. Jonah Hill’s character is the title character Cyrus. Jonah plays him very well. He’s very creep and manipulative as he tries to sabotage the new relationship between John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei’s characters. This movie did tug and emotional cord with me. The movie covers the topic of panic attacks. Someone close to me suffers from panic attacks so I’ve seen first hand how difficult they can be to deal with. I don’t recommend this film, I was disappointed, I think you will be too.


            After the disappointment of the Cyrus movie I need a good escape movie. Originally I thought I would see the A-Team movie again. But I was in the mood for only one more movie today. I really wanted to see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010) again. I saw this movie last week with my girlfriend Jane. We both really enjoyed this third installment. If you read my last blog entry:

You know guys can like these films too. I am one of those guys. So I got a refill on my large #1 combo of popcorn and diet coke and headed into the theater to see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. This movie was fun to see again. Jackson Rathbone who plays the Cullen Clan member Jasper Whitlock by far is my favorite character in this film. His girlfriend Alice Cullen played by Ashley Greene is another cool character to watch too. She’s good looking, but also Alice has the girl next door thing going on and is someone that you can relate to in a good friend.

            Afterwards, cabin fever set in and I was ready to get home and get in a good bike ride. I started riding a new trail in town on my mountain bike. I missed doing this. This is a form of exercise I really enjoyed when I was younger. As you know if you are a loyal reader of my movie blogs I spend a lot of time indoors, which may be more suitable during the winter or bad weather days. But I’m such a movie fan I need my daylong indoor theater fix even during some of the nicest days. Finding a balance is the key I guess. If you didn’t know me you might think I’m a pale skinned movie nerd. Well you might be right most of the year, but I’ll have you know I’m working on a nice biker tan now.

Stay tuned my fellow movie nerds, more Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon Man adventures to come. Next is Predators (2010) and Despicable Me (2010) in 3D!

– Spartan Phoenix


8 Things Guys Can Appreciate About ‘Twilight’

Hey Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon Man Fans! I wanted to share an article that I thought was fun and funny. This may hit home for you guys that may be afraid to admit that you like the Twilight Movies. The original article was written and posted by John Campea.

Enjoy! – Spartan Phoenix


8 Things Guys Can Appreciate About ‘Twilight’

Stereotypes are often unfair things to use and certainly never cover or accurately represent the totality of the group they’re talking about.  For example, I’m Italian, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that not all Italians love pasta.

However, sometimes within stereotypes there are general truths.  Although it’s true that not all Italians love pasta… many of us do (including myself… personally I’m a Lasagna fanatic).  So while the stereotype of Italians loving pasta is unfair and certainly doesn’t apply to all Italians, there is a general truth in it.

In the same way, there is a stereotype out there that says the “Twilight” films are not “guy” movies.  This is certainly not true of all guys because there are many guys out there (including myself) who do enjoy the films.  But within that stereotype is a general truth that a lot more women enjoy the “Twilight” franchise than men do.

But I’m here to stand against that stereotype, to cast down the idea that “Twilight” is just for women.  I’m here to tell you that there are things within the “Twilight” films that men… yes, manly men… the type of men that discovered the wheel, and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn (Ok, now I’m just quoting Ron Burgundy) can appreciate and enjoy!

So if you’ll indulge me for a few moments, I’d like to present to you 8 things that I believe men can appreciate about the “Twilight” films.


When an absolutely stunningly beautiful woman is on screen… men can sit through just about anything.  But fortunately for the “Twilight” films Ashley Greene is more than just a pretty (man, that’s an understatement) face.  This girl can act and brings a sweetness to her character (Alice) that especially stands out when mixed with the understanding of just how dangerous and powerful she really is (I loved it when she ripped off James’ head with her bare hands in the first film).

In “New Moon” we saw her character play a bigger role than in the first one… a trend we all hope continues into “Eclipse”.  As a side note, the whole exchange between Alice and Jacob in Bella’s house in “New Moon” was fantastic!

So a beautiful woman, who can act and is playing a character who rips off heads with her bare hands?  CHECK!  Watch for Greene next year as she appears opposite Hugh Jackman in the comedy “Butter”.

#2 – JACOB

One of the things many guys love in their movies is a strong alpha protagonist.  We love our Sylvester movies.  We love our Arnold movies.  We love our Statham and Li and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movies.  But let’s face it, Edward might be 120 pounds soaking wet with a physique that wouldn’t intimidate a 4th grader… with or without the sparkling skin.  However, Jacob fills that need nicely.

Jacob is a more traditional “guys” kind of character. He’s infinitely more feral than Edward.  He’s got the traditional physique of an action star with a hunger for action, ready to leap into a fight at any given moment, will fight to the death to defend those he loves and oozes machismo.  Aside from getting the girl, all this guy thinks about is killing vampires.  He doesn’t do it because he HAS to do it… he WANTS to do it.  To him the idea of a “fun” Saturday night is chasing down a vamp all the way up to the Canadian border all in the hopes of tasting some sweet vampire juice.

Girls may love Jacob for his ripped abs and good looks… but us guys can appreciate the action hungry alpha hero.


One of the key elements that can help me appreciate a good sci-fi or fantasy film is a rich backstory… or mythology.  When it comes to Vampires, we’ve seen basically the same story told 1000 times over and usually they’re the exactly the same with a few minor detail changes.

With Twilight however, they changed the rules.  The very first thing that struck me as impressive when watching the first movie for the first time (I never read the books) was the story’s willingness to completely change the mythology of Vampires.  In Twilight they don’t shrivel up in the sunlight (instead their skin sparkles… which to me is lame… but it’s still a brave and creative departure from the traditional vampire mythology).  Then there is the idea of each Vampire having a unique ability beyond the ones they all share (strength, speed etc.).

I also really appreciated the backstory of the history of the treaty between the Cullens and the werewolves.  Some backstories are great, but don’t actually influence or effect the current story.  However in “Twilight”, that treaty and how it came about has a direct influence on current events, why Jacob can’t kill Edward, and the tricky predicament of how the Volturi are demanding they turn Bella… but if they do they violate the treaty with the werewolves.  It’s a wonderful story device that any true fan of sci-fi/fantasy should appreciate.


There is simply no other way to put it… you do NOT want to mess with these guys.  I don’t care if you’re a cop, if you’re a Vampire or if you’re an army.  These guys are pure hunters and thrill seekers of the highest level.  The very sight of them is enough to make the face of an ancient vampire turn to pure terror and fear and force them to run for their undead lives.

One of the things I really like about the Wolf Pack (which includes Jacob once he joins them) is the swagger they have.  They are the lords of the woods and they know it. They are the top of the food chain and will remind even Vampires of that fact every chance they get (even if the Vampires whole heartedly disagree).

What makes these guys especially formidable is that not only are they huge dudes… not only do they turn into incredibly powerful giant wolves… they can communicate telepathically which makes them almost invincible when fighting and hunting as a pack.  Any one member of the pack is tough enough to deal with… dealing with the pack itself is pretty much suicide.


As a guy there is a fair criticism to be made about the lack of action in the first film.  But even in the first film we caught glimpses of what the Vampires were capable of once James and Edward faced off at the end… and the rest of the Cullen clan shows up.

In “New Moon” the action ramped up, especially with us meeting the Wolf Pack.  Edward’s fight against the Volturi member (man he got his vampire ass handed to him) was just terrific and the whole thing left me wanting more.

Well… as we get ready for the release of “Eclipse” we know we’re about to get a lot more of it… full on Vampire and Werewolves at war kind of action that the entire movie pretty much revolves around.


The Volturi are the over arching villains of the “Twilight” story and are described like this:  “The Volturi are the vampire royal family. Our kingdom is Volterra, Italy. The Volturi have existed for at least three thousand years, if not more. They are the largest coven in existance, followed by Carlisle’s family and Tanya’s. However, they do not follow a “vegetarian” diet, as seen in New Moon, in which they capture and murder several humans in a carefully planned “meal”. They are considered the de facto royal family of vampires, as they are the largest and most influential coven in existence . The Volturi deal swiftly and decisively with anything they consider a threat to their city, or the vampire world. They destroy anyone who attempts to overthrow them, or resist their authority and, at Caius’ insistence, have hunted werewolves (true werewolves, not shape-shifters) to near extinction in Europe and Asia.”

Every good action/fantasy film needs a great villain(s).  “Star Wars” needed Vader, “Die Hard” needed Hans, “Misery” needed Annie, “Gangs of New York” needed Bill the Butcher, and “Twilight” needs The Volturi.

To me, the most intimidating villains have never been the biggest or most savage, but rather the ones with a civilized veneer.  The ones that are calm, intellectual, ones with style… and yet you know they could tear you apart in just moments.  These are the villains that freak me out the most and create the most compelling storytelling… and The Volturi definitely fit that bill.

As an added bonus, Michael Sheen plays the head of the Volturi, Aro.  Sheen is an award winning actor who knows a thing or two about the Vampire/Werewolves world having played Lucian, the leader of the werewolves in the “Underworld” franchise.


When you have a sci-fi/fantasy story that takes place in the “real” current world, it’s important that your movie(s) have an anchor to the real work within it.  Playing Bella’s father, actor Billy Burke is that anchor for us.  Without Burke there is nothing to contrast the wonder of the Vampires and Werewolves with against normal reality.

But Burke is not just a “normal” guy.  He’s the type of character a lot of men can relate with.  He’s a strong man, not just physically but mentally and emotionally too.  He’s a protective man, always looking out for not just his daughter, but the community which he serves.  And most of all he’s a loyal man, loyal to the friends and community he’s been a part of for many years, but most importantly to his daughter.

I don’t care if Edward or Jacob have superhuman powers… I still get the feeling that neither one of them want to mess with Bella’s dad… and personally I don’t blame them one little bit.

I’ve personally been a fan of Burke as a character actor for a few years now and have always enjoyed watching him act, even when some of the movies he’s been in have been less than memorable.


While all the members of the Cullen clan have their own unique quirks and personalities, one of the things that they all seem to have in common is the fact that they’re all comfortable with and adjusted to being non-violent vegetarian Vampires.  Well… all of them except for Jasper.

I  liked the Jasper character from the first moment he appeared on the screen.  He’s the only one of the Cullen Clan that physically shows the awkwardness of their true situation.   Jasper is the most feral of the Cullen family and the least comfortable with their chosen lifestyle.  You can tell he feels out of place, like it’s taking everything he’s got to hold it together and not feast on all these human teenagers surrounding him at school everyday.  I mean, the dude tried to kill Bella just at the slightest drop of her blood on the floor and it pretty much took the whole Cullen family to hold him back.

In “Eclipse” we get to see that side of Jasper set loose as he takes on a sort of General role in the coming war, and I for one can’t wait to see him in that sort of position to see what he’s really capable of.  Jasper is also paired up with Alice (Ashley Greene), so not only can all us guys appreciate him… we can also envy him.

So while it may be true that there are more women out there who enjoy the “Twilight” films than men, I contend that there are certainly enough elements in “Twilight” that guys can appreciate!  I suggest that if you’re a guy and thinking about heading to the movies this week, give “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” a shot… you can thank me later.

Posted by: John Campea | 6/28/2010 | 3:21 PM 

The original Article can be found here:


Blog Spelling Disclaimer

Blog Spelling Disclaimer

OK, so if you have been a reader of my blog, or are new to it, you know, or will know by now that I can’t really spell worth a shit. And my sentence and paragraph structure will probably make you want to pull your hair out of your head. Although I do use spell check, some misspellings or wrong word choices slip by me. Sometimes when I write these blog entries, I’m tired and fatigued. But I need to write when I can cause its fresh in my head, but unfortunately I misspell or use the wrong word to convey what I mean to say. When you read my blog entries pretend that you are standing in front of me and listening to my stories face to face in a casual setting. I do not claim to be a writer. I’m a visual person, but sharing my passion for movie requires that I write. I do not have the best vocabulary, but I have a lot to share and say. I love movies with a passion, and I want to share this with you. Please be patient with my spelling errors and enjoy my blog.

Thank you, Spartan Phoenix


Twilight Saga: Eclipse Best Buy Screening, Grown Ups, Knight And Day, Toy Story 3, Jonah Hex


 My Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon Man yearlong experiment continues to roll along quite well. As June ends and July begins I’m coming up on my half waypoint and it’s exciting to reflect on what’s happened so far. As June ended it was nice to know that I broke another movie record for myself. I saw 19 movies on the big screen in the month of June 2010. This breaks my previous record of 18 in May 2010.

Knight And Day, Toy Story 3, Jonah Hex

Thursday, June 24, 2010 

            In my last blog entry I shared my awesome Star Wars “Screen on the Green” experience at Piedmont Park in Atlanta GA. That was so much fun and one of the best movie experiences I had ever had. Prior to that event on the same day, I did a 3-movie marathon that started at 10am. I went to one the smaller AMC Theater; well it has less than 20 screens. This is the theater that still makes me a little nervous when I switch from screen to screen cause it is a smaller set up with less theater staff. That’s means it’s more of a chance to be seen. But the movie schedule worked so favorable for me I had to do this theater. Like most multiplex theaters it has half the screens on the left and the other half on the right side of the theater. Well when I got there and scouted which theaters my movies were showing on I was elated to find out that all three were being shown on the left side of the complex which made the chance of been seen much lower. Woo hoo! I bought my large size #1 combo of popcorn and diet coke and started my glutton of “funisment” day.

            The first movie I saw today was Jonah Hex (2010) starring Josh Brolin, John Malkovich and Megan Fox. Jonah Hex is based on a comic book series based in the old west after the Civil War. The movie is about a scarred bounty hunter with warrants on his own head who takes an offer from the US government he cannot refuse: in exchange for his freedom, he must stop a terrorist who is ready to unleash Hell on Earth. Josh Brolin plays the title character very well. He was a perfect fit. John Malkovich plays the bad guy and did a great job, as he always does. Megan Fox plays the typical “hooker with heart” role. But her role could have been given to any other good-looking actress with better acting chops. She looked hot as expected in this film. Unfortunately I think Megan Fox has been way over exposed lately. The screen stealer of this film was actor Michael Fassbender who portrayed John Malkovich’s #1 henchman Burke. Burk was a good villain to watch. Overall I liked Jonah Hex. My only problem with the film was it was too short. It was only 80 minutes. I thought another 10 minutes of the film based on character building could have been done.

            The second film I saw was Toy Story 3 (2010) starring the voice talents of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, John Ratzenberger and Michael Keaton. This was a 3D presentation of the film. As usual I brought my own 3D glasses, er I mean I smuggled my own in. I really enjoyed the 3rd installment of this series. It was a lot of fun and it introduced many great new toy characters. Woody, Buzz, and the rest of their toy-box friends are dumped in a day-care center after their owner, Andy, departs for college. This movie tackles the subject of “moving on” very well. If this is the last of the series it ended perfectly. This movie was very funny and paced well too. I didn’t want to see which new actors lent their voice talents to the new characters introduced to the film prior to the films release. I wanted it to be a surprise to see if I could figure it out myself during the film, cause that’s half the fun in animated films. These films in CG always look great on the screen even without 3-D. It was nice to see this one in 3-D, but I don’t think its necessary to see this film in 3-D. Save the extra 3-D charge to your Toy Story 3 movie ticket and see this in 2-D. Visually this movie is great in any dimension

            The third and last film I would see in this AMC complex was Knight and Day (2010) starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and Peter Sarsgaard. Its about an average but of course good looking woman played by Cameron Diaz who finds her everyday life tangled with that of a secret agent played by Tom Cruise who has realized he isn’t supposed to survive his latest mission. This was one of those movies were the trailers didn’t disappoint. There was plenty of action and humor in this film. Tom Cruise did most of his own stunts, which was fun to watch. This movie had a good supporting cast too. What made this movie was the onscreen chemistry between Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. It’s a good date movie too; it’s got something for everyone. One interesting tidbit I found out after seeing this film, Tom Cruise’s character in Knight and Day is named Roy Miller, which happens to be the same name as the character that Matt Damon played in Green Zone (2010). Weird. I know too much useless pop culture information.

Grown Ups

Saturday, June 26, 2010

            A few days later it was “date day” at the movies with Jane. I didn’t have to be at work till 4pm later that day. So Jane had expressed interest in seeing the movie Grown Ups (2010) starring Adam Sandler, Salma Hayek, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider. This movie just opened nationally the day before. The trailers for this film made this movie out to be a very funny one, especially, which this great former Saturday Night Live cast reuniting on the big screen. Well, this wasn’t the case. This movie was a disappointment when it came to how funny it could have been. It seems the funniest scenes where the ones you saw over and over during the trailers. This was disappointing due to the fact about how funny the main cast of the men starring as the Grown Ups have been in past films. Honestly, the funniest characters in the film were the women who played the wives of the leading men. The better halves were played by Salma Hayek, Maria BelloMaya Rudolph and Joyce Van Patten. In this case they were actually the better halves, of the movie. My other disappointment of this film was that there was no blooper reels shown during or after the credits. While this movie was ending you felt that you should have been treated to this especially which this type of film and this usually funny cast. But no, the disappointment continued till the credits ended. Jane felt the same way I did. She thought the girls were funnier and expected some bloopers too. Save this movie for a rental or pay TV. Hopefully the DVD release will offer something better.

Twilight Saga: Eclipse Best Buy Screening

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

            During the middle of June I got an email form the Best Buy Reward Zone people. As you may know from reading my past movie blogs I’m a Best Buy junkie. Tuesdays are my Sabbath, cause at Best Buy its new DVD, Blu-Ray and CD release day. The email I got was an invite for me and a guest to see a special screening at 9pm on June 29th, 2010, three hours before the cross county midnight premiere of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse movie (2010) starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. I got this email because I became a Silver Member over the last year. What a great perk. I signed up immediately and secured my invitation for me my guest who would be my girlfriend Jane. I have entertained the idea of not doing this for one reason. I knew that there was also a “Twilight Experience” being shown that same night in many participating theaters. This would include a three-movie marathon showing the first two Twilight movies prior to the midnight showing of the new one. Although that may have been fun to do I knew that it would mean that I would do it alone. Well I really wanted to experience this exclusive screening event with my girlfriend instead cause I knew she and I would enjoy the opportunity together. We saw the second one together and had a great time, as it was early in our relationship. This third installment I new would be special, and it was.

            We planned a date night. I was working till 5pm the night of the show so we had time for dinner too. On a side note, it was her appreciation day a couple of days later. I introduced “appreciation day” for myself back in the early 90’s. It’s a day you pick to treat and spoil yourself about 6 months after or before your birthday. So Jane picked her appreciation day to be on July 1st. I believe that appreciation days and birthdays also get a weekend to celebrate too. I thought this would be a good start to treating her for her upcoming appreciation weekend. After dinner we headed to the theater.

It’s a Regal Theater that I hadn’t been to before. I think it was 14 to 16 screens. When we arrived there was a line starting for the midnights premiere of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. As expected most of the waiting patrons were teenage girls, some of them dressed up in their best Goth gear. Many were wearing their Edward or Jacob shirts. The electricity of opening night was in the air. Its fun to people watch at times like this. Once I showed my movie invitation Jane and I were directed to the screening theater where we passed the lined up fans for the midnight show. There was a small line when we got to the screening theater. There was a table outside the door with a few of the Best Buy employees checking the invitations. They asked my name and it actually showed up on their invitation list. After they crossed off my name, Jane recognized one of the female Best Buy employees. Turns out Jane had gone to the same high school as her. When we walked into the theater it was pretty crowded already. Most of the good seats had been taken. However I noticed that there were two seats in the good section two rows behind the main front isle between two groups of people. It looked like they were being saved. The first thing I did was shouted out to the alpha male looking dude “Are those two seats taken?” He said no, so Jane and I scooped them right up.

Just before the movie started the Best Buy woman who went to the same high school as Jane addressed the audience with a microphone and thanked all of the Silver Best Buy Reward Zone Members. After here speech the lights dropped. We only got one preview for the movie Red (2010) starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich. It looks like a funny action comedy about retired CIA agents who can’t stay retired. When The Twilight Saga: Eclipse movie actually started we weren’t sure it started cause we were expecting more previews, not just one. OK now onto the movie itself. I must say that I do enjoy these Twilight movies. They can be a little cheesy at times, but they are very entertaining. I’ve always been a vampire movie fan since I was a kid. I also enjoy True Blood and Vampire Diaries. By my fondness for Vampire movies goes way back. I liked the original The Lost Boys (1987). But by far my favorite vampire film of all time is Near Dark (1987). With the recent resurgence of vampire movies and TV shows I would like to state that I didn’t jump on the vampire bandwagon. The new The Twilight Saga: Eclipse was a fun movie and is the best out of the three so far. What made it the best for me was the back-story and flashbacks you get to see with some of the vampire Cullen Clan and the Werewolves. I also enjoy the Twilight version of “vampire lore”. I have never read the books; I don’t have plans to do so at this time. I want to enjoy the movies for what they are. I also enjoy the humor in these Twilight movies. I’m glad they poked fun at the fact that the Jacob character doesn’t seem to own a shirt anymore now that the actor Taylor Lautner who portrays him worked very hard for his six pack abs. The crowd was very into this screening. There was a lot of girl gasping going on too. The movie was very good. I recommend it if its your type of movie.

After the film Jane and I took our time leaving the theater. The line for the midnight showing extended out to the parking lot from both sides of the theater. As were leaving the theater parking lot I noticed there were some clothing donation bins near the entrance to the parking lot. I’ve had this black trash bag of clothes I’ve been forgetting to unload or donate. There were some leather jackets I had second thoughts about giving up. So while Jane was still in the car I did and impromptu fashion show in front of the car headlights to see which ones she approved of. I saved two jackets from elimination. They live to see another winter. It was a great date night. I’m lucky that Jane gets to share my passion for movies.

– Spartan Phoenix

Total movies seen in the theater to date since February 1st 2010:  79

  • February           2010: Movies Seen: 12
  • March              2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • April                 2010: Movies Seen: 16
  • May                  2010: Movies Seen: 18
  • June                 2010: Movies Seen: 19