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Archive for February, 2007

Movie Review: The Guardian (2006)

Posted by Jay Medina on February 20, 2007

The GuardianFirst off, let me please applaud the producers and the entire cast and crew of this movie, for shining a light on a group of truly unsung heroes.  In the movie, there are some key differences between the Navy and the Coast Guard highlighted that make this movie a nice tribute to Coast Guard Swimmers.

Now, for the movie as it stands as a movie.  Not very well, or shall I say about as well as a seasick landlubber who has yet to find his sea-legs.  It pains me to have to say that, it really does.  Even though I was never a Coastie or a Navy-type (I served 9 years in the Army), I really wanted this movie to work on all levels.  I watched it with my children, and they are tremendous fans of the movie.  Perhaps that’s my problem.  I wanted this movie to be enjoyed by people of all ages, however, it was just too predictible.

Ok, so as I write this, I can see that perhaps I need to separate my thoughts between storyline (which desperately needed a water rescue of it’s own), and the technical aspects of the film.  Let me start with the storyline, so we can then move to something more positive. 

The story has a solid premise.  An elite squad of rescue swimmers, known as Coast Guard Swimmers, live by a motto they hold dear: “So that others may live”.  The story centers around a rugged rescuer named Ben Randall, played rather well by Kevin Costner (Silverado, The Bodyguard).  As Costner has come back to acting in his last few movies, this is no exception.  He carries the role of the salty, brooding Coastie with conviction.  Randall can’t imagine a life without the Coast Guard, and rescuing people is what he loves to do. So much, so, his marriage is starting to crumble. 

As Randall is a living legend among rescue swimmers, an accident during an open-sea rescue leaves him as an instructor at the “A School” where budding rescue swimmers train to be part of the elite.  Enter a young idealistic (and motivated) Jake “Fish” Fischer, played by Ashton Cutcher (The Butterfly Effect, Dude Where’s My Car?).  There’s nothing an old-veteran can’t stand more than a young, green, motivated buck like “Fish”.  As I’ve seen Cutcher in Butterfly Effect and was quite impressed with his performance, after seeing him in The Guardian, I am convinced this lad can act! 

Sidenote: It would almost be worth discussing a theory where in real life as Cutcher is idealistic, young, and motivated to be great, Costner is being challenged to keep up and therefore brings out some of his best acting in decades.  What a parallel to the movie’s story, and one worth considering, but I digress.

As the characters become fleshed out and we start to see their vulneralbilities, it starts to create a contrast of light and dark, where their mutual desire to save lives is overshadowed by their unhappy personal pasts that they are desperately trying to compensate for.  All this creates is a beast that cannot be fed enough guilt and will continue to consume, unless a breakthough can occur.

Again, the story had some real promise, however, the love or anti-love aspect of the usual “it’s lonely being a hero” has been done to death, and I was rather hoping for a fresh take on this.  In fact any love scenes between Fish and his love interest are just downright frustrating to watch.  It almost had An Officer And A Gentleman feel to it, but I stress the word almost.

Where there is real emotion is in the scene between Randal and his new ex-wife, Helen, played by the always beautiful Sela Ward (The Fugitive, Sisters).  That is probably the one scene where you really feel the pain of heartbreak, and it doesn’t come off as being contrived.

Where we start entering to usual charted waters is during the emotional breakthrough between Randall and Fish.  With trite lines like, “I’ve been trying to figure you out, and for the life of me, I can’t seem to get through.”  Uh, why?  Why would an instructor be trying to figure someone out when at the beginning of the training school, that same crusty instructor works very hard to weed out the no-can-do’s.  In fact, up to the point of that line, all Fish did wrong was show up late after having an all-nighter with his love-interest in the film.  But, lines like that need to be said, to set up for some emotional scenes that follow. 

And that is precisely my point. It’s like everything is staged and forced, and only the acting of Costner and Cutcher can even make it watchable.  In fact, I will not give away the rest of the movie, but I won’t need to, because if you’re like me, you will feel that as you watch this movie, you’ve already seen it.  Perhaps under a different title with different actors, but this movie will give you an unshakable case of deja-vu.

Now to the technical aspects of the film.  The effects are first rate, and with some night-time rescue scenes in rough seas with storms and lightning, this film does it and does it good!  The lighting is well done in either daylight or night scenes, and the sound quality is on par with some of the better productions of it’s rivals. 

The Guardian is not an awful film,  it just didn’t have me jumping in my seat, which is what I was hoping for.  The kids loved it and that’s a good thing.  It’s nice to be able to show them a movie where saving lives is heroic, instead of the usual war movie, where they depict taking lives as being glamourous and studly. 

This is one of those movies, where I couldn’t see recommending it, but also wouldn’t advise that you steer clear from it, either.  If you’ve seen this movie, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.

The Guardian on DVD here


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Spears Has Entered Rehab, Web Site Says

Posted by Jay Medina on February 20, 2007

Feb 20, 4:33 PM (ET)


NEW YORK (AP) – Britney Spears entered rehab Tuesday after a bizarre weekend that included shaving her head and getting a new tattoo.Spears’ manager, Larry Rudolph, told People magazine’s Web site that Spears, 25, had voluntarily checked herself into an undisclosed treatment facility. “We ask that the media respect her privacy as well as those of her family and friends at this time,” Rudolph was quoted as saying.Calls to Spears’ representatives by The Associated Press weren’t returned Tuesday.

Since she announced her separation from Kevin Federline in November, Spears, the mother of two young sons, has been seen partying heavily, and her appearance has been increasingly sloppy.

On Friday night, Spears grabbed an electrical shaver at a San Fernando Valley salon and shaved her head completely bald.

Video on KABC-TV showed a newly shorn Spears with tiny tattoos on the back of her neck as she sat for a new tattoo – a pair of red-and-pink lips on her wrist.

Entertainment TV shows and Web sites reported Friday that she had gone in and out of rehab that week.

Esther’s Haircutting Studio, where Spears shaved her head, set up a Web site to auction off her hair and other items for a minimum price of $1 million, J.T. Tognozzi, who owns the salon with his wife, told the AP on Tuesday.

“This is it, the opportunity of a lifetime,” according to BuyBritneysHair.com. The winning bidder gets Spears’ dark, knotty hair extensions, the clipper she used to cut them off, the Red Bull she drank at the salon and her cigarette lighter.

Tognozzi said he’d placed the items for sale on the eBay auction Web site, which later took them down, for reasons unknown to him.

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Cage Cameos In Grindhouse

Posted by Jay Medina on February 20, 2007

Nicolas Cage told SCI FI Wire he camps it up in a cameo appearance as Fu Manchu in a faux movie trailer that is part of Grindhouse, the homage to exploitation movies directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Cage is one of many high-profile actors who will appear in the movie.

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Weaver Avatar Casting Confirmed

Posted by Jay Medina on February 17, 2007

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed the re-teaming of Aliens star Sigourney Weaver with her director, James Cameron, in the helmer’s upcoming SF epic film Avatar, which was first reported on Ain’t It Cool News.

Full story here

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Eckhart Is Knight’s Dent

Posted by Jay Medina on February 17, 2007

Aaron Eckhart is up for the role of Harvey Dent/Two Face in The Dark Knight, the much-anticipated sequel to Batman Begins. Dent is the district attorney of Gotham City who becomes the insane crime boss known as Two Face when half of his face is disfigured by acid.

Full story here

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Deschanel Stars In Tin Man

Posted by Jay Medina on February 17, 2007

Zooey Deschanel (Elf) has been cast as the lead in Tin Man, SCI FI Channel’s upcoming six-hour miniseries that reimagines L. Frank Baum’s classic fantasy book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, SCI FI announced. The miniseries is slated to begin production in March in Vancouver, Canada, and will premiere in December.

Full story here

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