Monthly Archives: April 2014

Miscellaneous Post: Date Night Action Movies

The Hollywood Reporter recently put together a list of good “date night action movies.” Obviously this list is written as a guide for movies a guy can show girls who don’t like action movies, so it’s not quite directed at me (watching The Expendables 2 last night was a ton of fun). However, there are some good picks and some ideas for movies I haven’t yet seen, which is always a plus. I’m always on the lookout for new fun movies.

The list starts off with Kill Bill Volume 1 and Kill Bill Volume 2. I have seen these two films, but only once and quite some time ago. I remember some girls said they walked out when they were in the theaters, and clearly the films are a splatter-fest. So, I would have to say that in order to watch these films with a girl, the girl’s preference for blood has to be known. Tarantino’s films aren’t for everyone. These films weren’t my favs because I prefer more of a “guns a-blazing” sort of action film over a “swords a-clashing” action film. Martial arts movies just aren’t my thing, not that there’s anything wrong with them. Honestly I think a lot of today’s action movies could learn a thing or two from real hand-to-hand fighting and choreography over quick cuts and tight shots that don’t really show what’s happening in the fight. It is, of course, great to see a strong female lead that kicks ass.

The second film listed is the broad category of “the Avengers movies,” more formally known as the “Marvel Cinematic Universe.” I whole-heartedly agree. I’ve written about the marvel (get it?) that is Iron Man, and with the exception of Iron Man 3, the films continue to deliver good action and stories, interesting characters, and, while there aren’t many strong female characters, there are many attractive men in skimpy outfits. Let’s let the girls objectify the guys for once, shall we? Personally an all-day marathon of Phase One sounds like an absolutely excellent day. The only caveat I have with the inclusion of these films is that I wouldn’t necessarily categorize them as “action movies” in the sense that a movie with Stallone, Willis, Schwarzenegger, or Statham would be. But, for some fun with super heroes to snuggle up with, it doesn’t get much better than the MCU.

I’ve never seen the third movie listed, Point of No Return, but it does look interesting. It’s a little disappointing that there’s a focus on a love story, but considering the theme of the list is “date night,” I suppose that’s not surprising. Perhaps it will be my next “P” movie, and will certainly be included in my “Women in Action” series I want to do.

Who doesn’t love the fourth movie, The Hunger Games? I decided to RedBox the film so I could be part of society, and it was so much better than I had expected. Granted, the film was part of a mini marathon beginning with After Earth, and after that anything would seem like a cinematic masterpiece by comparison. But the story (which I’m sure is wonderfully developed in the books) is thoroughly entertaining, the visuals beautiful, and the characters interesting. Actually the part that dragged it down for me is one thing the article highlights: the love triangle. Nothing kills the pace of a movie faster than a needless drawn out romance. Let’s focus on the dystopia and the not dying, and when that’s all set let’s focus on getting the guy. I did enjoy the forced love story included to increase the ratings for the game. It was all kind of like The Truman Show. The way the books/films have brought archery into the limelight as something awesome is also very cool. Granted, perhaps Hawkeye in the Avengers movies had something to do with that, too.

The next film in the list is True Lies, which I wrote about a few months ago. As I said there, the film was nothing like I had expected it to be, and somehow really is a romantic action movie where the romance is part of and doesn’t detract from the plot. Helen’s transformation is rather inspiring, and the film overall leaves the viewer with a sense of hope and a positive future, even more so than other films that end on a similar note.

As different as True Lies is for the action genre, I’m not sure I’ve seen a film quite in its own category as Léon the Professional. It’s stunning in its simplicity and heart, and the way it makes a hit man the star of the film without being cheesy and trying too hard to redeem him. Particularly of note is the chance to see Natalie Portman actually play an interesting character, instead of being sidelined as the drippy boring-as-paint-drying romantic interest à la Padme or Jane Foster. Also, Gary Oldman is crazy in this film.

The article describes the next film, Colombiana, as both a sequel and a reboot to Léon the Professional, which is kind of impossible. It’s more of a reboot than anything, but considering Zoe Saldana is so much older than Portman, I don’t know if I would even call it that. An homage perhaps is a closer term. I’ve never seen the film, but it does look interesting. Saldana has certainly emerged as an action star, and the world certainly needs more strong female heroes. ….heroines. You know what I mean. Maybe one day there will even be some that wear a complete outfit of pants and a long sleeve shirt. (That last comment is directed at the still in the article, which shows Saldana in a tank top and skimpy shorts.)

I’ve never actually seen Angelina Jolie in anything other than Hackers, so I can’t really say anything about her skills in the next film in the article, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. I do know that movies based on video games don’t really do too well most of the time, because they aren’t generally good films. It’s also sadly hard to take Jolie seriously, but that might just be me. I know she’s starred in several action films, so obviously she can play a convincing strong female character that studios want to put in the lead role.

For some reason, James Bond movies don’t really do anything for me, so I’ve never seen the next film, Casino Royale. It’s really great that the film seems to give female characters actual depth, unlike older Bond films. The article mentions the objectification of Bond in shorts on the beach, and I do remember stills going around showing him off. Like I said before, it’s time we got in some objectification of men for us female fans.

Based on the still alone from the article, the next film, Charlie’s Angels, won’t be for me. I don’t care much for Cameron Diaz or Drew Barrymore, and all three women have their wetsuits half unzipped. If the film really is directed at a female audience, zip up the women and have scantily clad dudes walking around. Then again, it’s unfair to judge a film I haven’t yet seen, but it would be hard to get me to agree to sit down for this one.

I remember the next film, 300, being a big deal when it came out. Unfortunately, I don’t like Zack Snyder, Gerard Butler does nothing for me, and I cannot stand Frank Miller. I feel like I remember there being talk of needless CGI in this film, too, but I could be confusing it with someone else. However, the lure of lots of half-naked guys fighting might be enough to persuade me to see it one day. Then again, they’re all kind of too brawny.

I don’t know if I’ve ever even heard of the next film, The Big Hit. It likely got lost in other films that year I wanted to see, or films with actors I knew better, and never crossed my path. The plot looks interesting enough, and from what I’ve seen with him, films with Lou Diamond Phillips always have a quirky quality. The sign of a good character actor is that you actually remember the actor’s name, instead of always thinking of him as “that guy in such and such movie, and that other one with the thing.” So, if The Big Hit does cross my path, I’ll likely check it out.

I’ve seen film 13, The Fifth Element, several times, and it never ceases to be mildly entertaining yet silly. I’m not shy in my “thing” for Bruce Willis, so that’s a point in the plus column right off the bat. I do like Chris Tucker, too, even if he is kind of a one trick pony. At the big Halloween party I go to every year, there is always at least one girl dressed like Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), though whether that’s out of love for the character or the excuse to wear hardly any clothing, I’ll let you be the judge. I haven’t seen the film in a while so I’m not sure if I would call it an “action movie,” but it is enjoyable nonetheless. Also, put a tally mark down for another film where Gary Oldman plays a crazy bad guy.

Film 14 is an absolute classic across genres, from science fiction to action to special effects. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think Terminator 2: Judgement Day is an awesome movie for any number of reasons. Among other things, it was the beginning of my life-long distrust of Robert Patrick, because he was so good as the T-1000. It was also one of the seemingly few live-action roles for the kid who played Budnick (who apparently was also the voice of Montana Max. Mind. Blown.). But we again have Arnold capitalizing on his size and accent, a strong female character in Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), and all around amazing action sequences. There’s also a heck of a lot of heart, which isn’t something normally found in the sci fic/action/special effects genres. Great movie for any movie night.

With the 15th film, Rush Hour, there’s a mixture of martial arts flick and buddy cop, with the addition of the odd couple element. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan are hilarious together and play off each other nicely, both when they comprehend each other and especially when they don’t. For a fun night of action, it’s a good pick. Actually it’s a film I wouldn’t mind seeing again sometime soon.

Film 16? Classic. Utterly classic. Who doesn’t love Indiana Jones?. Harrison Ford is perfect as the handsome, intelligent, quick-tongued, rugged, adventuring archaeologist. All three films have great rewatch potential, as evidenced by their constant replay on television for the past 20-30 years. The opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark has been parodied countless times, and Indy staring down the idol is probably one of the most recognized frames of movie history. Action, adventure, humor, humanity… the films have it all. …plus a whip being used in a number of creative ways, and who doesn’t like uniqueness?

I’ve never seen film 17, Run Lola Run, and I wish whoever wrote the article gave me a little bit more to work with. It’s always interesting to see the same story from different perspectives, same with “what if?” scenarios as the film seems to explore. Strong women kicking ass is always good to see, so I’ll probably try to catch Lola.

What can be said about film 18, The Matrix that hasn’t been said before? Action? Check. Special effects? Transcended the genre. Objectifiable male lead? …eh, okay, Keanu isn’t really my cup of tea, but he makes it work here. The Matrix blew everyone away in 1999, on the fronts of action, science fiction, special effects, and even religion (I had to watch it for my Religion in Film class in college, along with The Fifth Element, believe it or not). The problem I had the last time I saw it (admittedly that was years ago) was that I had to keep reminding myself that this is the origin of the effects—they’ve been parodied so many times it’s easy to forget where they came from, and what it was like seeing them for the first time. Also, the soundtrack and look of the movie are both great.

The last film, Lethal Weapon, isn’t one I would have on my list of date movies, having just watched it for this site. Maybe if I were a huge Mel Gibson or Danny Glover fan. Part of it may be the age of the actors is a little out of my range, maybe it’s the dated ’80s look, or maybe it’s that damn end credit song getting stuck in my head whenever I think of the movie. But, for some unique characters and fun scenes, Lethal Weapon is a great choice.

It is certainly a comprehensive, diverse list of movies, some of which I absolutely agree with, and others not so much. Take my opinion however you so desire, considering my last three “date night movies” were Don Jon, The Expendables 2, and Homefront, and I enjoyed each of them a lot.

If I had to pick my own fav movies to watch on a “date night,” I would absolutely have to go with Die Hard, which at its center is a romance between McClane and his wife, and see my aforementioned comment about my thing for Willis. I would also choose Commando because it’s amazing, and has at its heart a man struggling to find his daughter. Lastly, On Deadly Ground has its moments of—okay, I can barely type that with a straight face. I don’t know if I can ever make myself watch that again. For an actual third fun movie, Star Trek. It’s one of those great, well-rounded, action/sci-fi/heart/no-forced-romance movies that’s got it going on. Also? Attractive male leads. Cannot go wrong.