The Couch Potato Report – June 5th, 2010
This week The Couch Potato Report peels LIFE, in all its gloryÖand weíll travel to the beautiful South Pacific.
When it comes to producing nature documentaries, no one ñ and I mean no one, anywhere ñ does it like the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Their series ñ including PLANET EARTH and BLUE PLANET ñ continue to set the standards by which all nature documentaries being made today are judged.
They are simply the best!!
Their latest production is called LIFE and it takes us around the world once again to give us a look at how various creatures of all shapes and sizes have evolved in order to survive.
There are so many stories and images in this series that are so incredible to take inÖincluding a school of flying fish, a pebble toad bouncing away from a tarantula like a rubber ball, brown-tufted capuchin monkeys pounding palm nuts with stone tools like the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and cheetahs hunting an ostrich.
This is amazing, amazing stuff, and I highly recommend it!!
The only negative thing that I have to say about LIFE concerns the North American version of it.
You see, the original BBC series consists of ten 50-minute episodes, which conclude with a ten-minute making-of feature, taking the total running time to 60 minutes.
The North American version, which is narrated by Oprah Winfrey, features edited episodes that only run about forty minutes.
So, if you want to live LIFE to itís fullestÖmake sure you pick up the original British versionsÖbecause, after allÖwho wouldnít want a longer LIFE.
AND…who wouldnít want to inhabit an ALICE IN WONDERLAND world?
Filmmaker Tim Burton ñ who also gave us EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and BEETLEJUICE certainly did, so he created a new cinematic version of it, and if you are a fan of visually stunning, fun films, you absolutely must fall down this rabbit hole!
This version of ALICE IN WONDERLAND features a now 19-year-old Alice returning to the magical world from her childhood adventure, an adventure she doesnít remember.
But everyone there ñ especially the Mad Hatter ñ remembers her and upon Aliceís return, she learns of her true destiny, and the whole thing is quite a trip.
Tim Burtonís ALICE IN WONDERLAND was released in theatres as a 3D film, but for home viewing it is just in two dimensions, but no matter the amount of dimensionsÖ.one main thing is true: It is very entertaining!
The cast that includes Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover and Helena Bonham Carter is superb and it is a film that I highly recommend!
Aliceís destiny is to end the Red Queen’s reign of terror.
During World War I there was a Red Baron who created such a reign of his own.
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen was a German fighter pilot who has been credited with 80 air combat victories.
Richthofen is known around the world as ìThe Red Baronî.
THE RED BARON is a film about Richthofen, his fellow fighter pilots and the nurse he falls in love withÖand while the dogfights and some of the action scenes are fantastic, the entire film is only okayÖand that is primarily due to some bad acting and historical inaccuracies, but also due to the fact that this is a German made film about a German manÖand it is in English.
That fact came across as quite odd to me.
Was ist hier los?!?
THE RED BARON isnít an awful film, Iím glad Iíve seen itÖbut Iíll never watch it againÖand that is true about another German movieÖone that is also about some real peopleÖbut this one does feature Germans speaking German!
Also based on a true story, this film is called NORTH FACE and it is set in 1936.
Nazi propaganda of the day is urging the nation’s Alpinists to conquer the unclimbed north face of the Swiss Alps ñ The Eiger ñ and so two reluctant German climbers decide to accept the challenge.
NORTHFACE is interesting and engaging, but there are waaaaaay too many characters and storylines and it plays very, very long.
It too is okay, but not great.
44-INCH CHEST is neither okay or great.
It is a bit interesting and engaging at times, but this one is best left on the store shelf.
44-INCH CHEST is about a husband who finds out that his wife has had an affair, and he is in agonyÖcompletely unable to function.
His friends kidnap the wife’s lover and hold him prisoner ñ in a 44-INCH CHEST ñ so that man can decide what to do.
Let him goÖor seek revenge.
Ultimately, it doesnít matter, you wonít care, I certainly didnít.
44-INCH CHEST is boring and I am done talking about it.
And soon, I will also be done speaking about WILD THINGS ñ FOURSOMEÖforever!!!
This is the utterly useless fourth film in the WILD THINGS series that began back in 1998 with a bair and switch thriller that remains pretty good to this day and stars Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Denise Richards and Bill Murray.
This one is a complete retread of the original, and while it has an attractive young cast ñ who appear with little to no wardrobe throughout the movie ñ it is boring and useless.
WILD THINGS ñ FOURSOMEÖI think I hate youÖand that something I know for sure.
So,moving on then…THE BLU-RAY BEACON will take us to the South Pacific in a moment, and right now it is time for a warÖa war of the worlds!!
The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel that was written by the great H. G. Wells in 1898.
In 2005 Steven Spielberg gave us his take on the story with Tom Cruise starring as a father of two young kids trying to survive as the earth is being invaded by alien tripod fighting machines.
WarÖwhat is it good for? It is good for watching science-fiction action movies in High Definition, and even though I still donít think that WAR OF THE WORLDS is a very good movie, the action sequences are great to watch!!
This weekís edition of The Report began with a BBC Documentary, and it is about to end with one as well, since I wanted to begin and end on a high note because as I said a few minutes agoÖ When it comes to producing nature documentaries, no one ñ and I mean no one anywhere ñ does it like the British Broadcasting Corporation.
SOUTH PACIFIC ñ AN OCEAN OF EXTRAORDINARY DISCOVERIES is a fantastic six-part series that takes us on, over and under the islands of the South Pacific region, including many of the coral atolls, New Zealand and Hawaii.
SOUTH PACIFIC has the Solomon Islands, Banks Islands, French Frigate Shoals, Papua New Guinea, Kingman Reef, Palau, Caroline Islands, and many more!!
We are also introduced to the animals that live there, but the most incredible footage in the series is of big wave surfer Dylan Longbottom surfing a 12 foot wave, and it was shot in slow motion and high-defÖand we see it, from underneath!!
As I said, it is a fantastic series!!!
The very entertaining SOUTH PACIFIC ñ AN OCEAN OF EXTRAORDINARY DISCOVERIES is available now on blu-ray and DVD, along with Steven Spielbergís remake of WAR OF THE WORLDS, the less than entertaining WILD THINGS ñ FOURSOME, 44-INCH CHEST, NORTHFACE, THE RED BARON, Tim Burtonís very entertaining ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and the spectacular BBC Documentary series LIFE.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
The documentary BANANAS, and the films FISH TANK, Martin Scorseseís SHUTTER ISLAND, THE WOLFMAN, THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIAM and THE BLU-RAY BEACON will shine on THE MAN WITH NO NAME and CADDYSHACK!!
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – June 5th, 2010