Posts Tagged ‘movie reviews’

Sam Neill Post Script: And Then There Were None


Steven cancelled our cable, which meant I had till the end of the month to watch everything on the DVR. INCLUDING a Sam Neill miniseries I taped at some point in the last year based on the Agatha Christie novel, which I’ve never read, so it was exciting!

And Then There Were None (2015)

Also Charles Dance was in it!!

Also Charles Dance was in it!!

The mini-series: Ten people are invited to a mansion on a remote island under different pretenses, and once they’re trapped there, a recording plays accusing them all of murder, listing the victim(s) of each. Then they start to get killed off ONE BY ONE, and there’s no one else on the island so ONE OF THEM MUST BE THE KILLER! It’s super fun to try to puzzle out who is the killer.

Esp when they all look this shifty

Esp when they all look this shifty

The Character: Sam Neill plays General John MacArthur, who killed one of his own officers in the war when he discovered his wife was having an affair with him. Then his wife dies of Spanish influenza anyway, and he seems to regret his actions. He also pretty much accepts fairly quickly what is going to happen to them. At first I thought he might jump off a cliff into the sea, but instead he’s found bludgeoned to death.

Tough luck, Sam

Tough luck, Sam

Thing I Learned: This book’s original title was different. And it’s not like they changed it once and were done; it went back and forth a lot because wtf, 1947, 1977, and 1980. ESPECIALLY 1980, you should know better. Also, apparently Christie wrote a play based on the novel that changed the ending, making it a lot happier. This was the first film production in English that kept the novel’s grim ending instead!

Should you watch this?: Yes! Sam Neill is amazing, of course, but so are Charles Dance and the others! And its shot really well too.

Previously: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Next: ??????

Sam Neill Update: The Last One


You guys!!! I’m so sad and happy at the same time to bring you my final Sam Neill Netflix Marathon update! I watched the last movie today, and I’m glad Brian was there to help me through this emotional time. I will be doing a big wrap-up post I have special plans for, but this is the last time I’ll review Sam Neill movies, since I’ve run out of them! Here we go:

This one wasn't available on Netflix for awhile, so I'm glad I finally got to see it!

This one wasn’t available on Netflix for awhile, so I’m glad I finally got to see it!

Dead Calm (1989)

Featuring Nicole Kidman as That Girl From Brave

Featuring Nicole Kidman as That Girl From Brave

The Movie: Nicole Kidman was just in a car accident that killed her young son, and to recuperate, her husband takes her on their yacht out on a journey through the Pacific, just the two of them. But when they come across an abandoned ship and take aboard its one survivor, Billy Zane, the dickish fiance from Titanic, Sam Neill KNOWS something is up. He goes across to the other ship to investigate, leaving Billy Zane to knock out Nicole Kidman and take over his own boat, sailing blithely away. Nicole Kidman ineffectually tries to wrest control back from him, completely refusing to shoot him even though she has both a rifle and a harpoon gun on board. Eventually after all kinds of shenanigans (and sleeping with him!), she manages to tie him up and turn that boat around! Of course he gets free, and she has to harpoon-shoot him again, abandoning his body on an inflatable life raft for some reason. Then she rescues her husband and they sail off into the sunset…

Except of course Billy Zane wasn’t really dead! Pan down to see bloody handprints on the side of the boat! An indeterminate time later, Nicole Kidman is chillaxing on deck when THERE HE IS AGAIN trying to strangle her to death. Luckily Sam Neill doesn’t seem to have her weird hang up against shooting him and FLARE GUNS HIM IN THE FACE. The end.

Did I tell you Sam Neill is also an intrepid Australian Navy Captain? Because he is

Did I tell you Sam Neill is also an intrepid Australian Navy Captain? Because he is

The Character: I am kind of surprised that Billy Zane even tried to come aboard Sam Neill’s yacht in the first place, because it was completely obvious from the beginning that he could beat this guy armed with nothing but a compass and his own steely resolve. Abandoned to his fate, Sam Neill manages to fix the sinking wreck of the other boat, totally nonchalant about all the corpses he finds there. Apparently Billy Zane is a photographer who was taking “model shots” of topless girls at sea when there was some kind of fight and whoops! everyone got murdered. Even after there’s a bad storm and the ship starts sinking again, Sam Neill totally manages to escape and build a makeshift raft to hang out on while waiting for Nicole Kidman to finally get her butt in gear and pick him up. Probably the only reason he didn’t flare gun Billy Zane in the face from the start was to give him a fighting chance.

Thing I Learned: When trapped in the water-filled hold of a sinking ship, always blow out of a potential air tube first to dislodge the cockroaches. Ew.

Should You Watch This?: This is a pretty solid thriller movie. The setting of alone at sea adds a new dimension of suspense.

The Simpsons, Season 5, episode 11: Homer the Vigilante (1994)

I feel like I don't have to explain the Simpsons to you

I feel like I don’t have to explain the Simpsons to you

The Episode: A cat burglar has come to Springfield, and seems to be making off with everyone’s most treasured possessions regardless of actual value, including Lisa’s saxophone. Homer starts a vigilante group to keep the neighborhood safe and hopefully catch the criminal, but refuses to let Grandpa Simpson join because he’s too old. After Homer fails to keep the world’s largest Cubic Zirconia safe from the thief, the town is about to turn against him when Grandpa solves the mystery! The thief is Molloy from the retirement home! In prison, Molloy tells everyone where he’s hidden all the money he’s stolen, and as they rush off to find it, he escapes. The end! Old people have value.

Especially if they have awesome facial hair

Especially if they have awesome facial hair

The Character: Sam Neill voices Molloy, the cat burglar. He is super suave, and so graceful in defeat that he almost talks his way out of being arrested. Plus he has some sneaky sneakers.

Thing I Learned: The Simpsons is actually still pretty funny. I haven’t watched an episode in probably a decade, but this one was really enjoyable, maybe because I remembered it from my childhood

Should You Watch This?: If you like the Simpsons!

Until the End of the World (1991)

Don't listen to this cover, you are not prepared at all

Don’t listen to this cover, you are not prepared at all

The Movie: I don’t even know how to explain this movie to you. It is ridiculous and amazing and more than two and a half hours long. It was made in 1991 and set in 1999 so you know all the fashion and technology were completely bizarre!

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

That is Claire. When everyone else is freaking out about an Indian nuclear satellite falling to earth, she is hanging out, wandering around France, and eventually getting mixed up with some bank robbers. In the process she meets a guy who is on the run from someone, and he steal some of her money. Rather than just keeping the rest of the bank robbery loot, she decides to track him down, to Germany, Spain, Russia, China, Japan… sometimes she’s working with bounty hunters also trying to find him, for stealing opals, other times she’s on her own and getting questioned by another bounty hunter who only uses “truth serum drugs” to solve cases. What? One time she sleeps with this elusive fugitive (awkwardly, while they are handcuffed together), but he still leaves her (handcuffed to a bed and a bounty hunter) because she is endangering his mission. Eventually he trusts her enough to tell her that he is on the run from the US government because his father invented a camera that takes pictures blind people can see. They want the camera, but his father didn’t trust them with technology that can take pictures out of people’s heads. Right now he’s traveling all around the world taking pictures of things to show his blind mom.

Eventually every character ever ends up in Australia around the same time as the nuclear satellite explodes and all electronics stop working. Except… for some electronics.

Also they end up on a dessert hike while she is handcuffed to a plane door

Also they end up on a dessert hike while she is handcuffed to a plane door

The camera works, but the stress of it ends up killing his mom. Then his dad reconfigures the machine to capture dreams and everyone becomes obsessed with watching their dreams all the time. The US government arrives and takes Science Dad away, only to die soon after. His son wanders around in the wilderness for awhile, and Sam Neill cures Claire of her obsession by locking her in a pen in his yard and then letting her read a book he wrote about her. It works, and she goes to work on the space station, where Sam Neill, the bank robbers, and the bounty hunter sing her happy birthday by video card. No one knows what happened to Truth Serum Guy. NO ONE KNOWS.

Sam Neill spends most of this movie kind of down, but stoic

Sam Neill spends most of this movie kind of down, but stoic

The Character: Sam Neill is Claire’s (ex-?)boyfriend, whom she goes to whenever she needs help. He obviously still loves her, following her all over the world, but she mainly just runs away from him to be with the elusive fugitive until she needs something from him again. Maybe it’s worth it for him in the end because he writes a book about their experiences, on an old school typewriter after “all” the world’s electronics stopped working. I guess they started working again, since Claire ends up on the space station? THIS MOVIE. SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Thing I Learned: This movie was originally 8 hours long, but the director finally cut it down to 286 minutes. The theatrical release is 157, so even then, a lot of stuff was cut. I like to imagine it wouldn’t make any more sense with those added scenes, just more random gunfights in Tokyo pod-hotels.

Should You Watch This?: “Let me put on some music while we drive… it’s Pygmy children chanting, recorded by my mother in Cameroon.” If you like crazy, unexplained nonsequiturs like this, you will LOVE this movie. Also, if you love silly “future” technology. Here is a selection:

Claire's dashboard computer

Claire’s dashboard computer

This thing is actually a lot like our modern GPS in that it talks to her in a robot voice and provides maps and directions. It also cautions her to drive the speed limit (by name) and looks like a portable TV, but points for effort, movie.

Public video phones!

Public video phones!

It’s like a public telephone, but with video! And everyone around you can hear your conversations.

Sam Neill's laptop

Sam Neill’s laptop

I don’t really understand the screen size to laptop size ratio.

A portable video phone

A portable video phone

Nice one, Sony.

A portable video phone IN CHINA

A portable video phone IN CHINA

Sam Neill is on the other end holding what looks like a desktop computer in one hand and a phone headset in the other.

Fugitive Tracking Computer

Fugitive Tracking Computer

This software tracks people FOR you! With what look like a series of ridic 8-bit animated GIFs.

This movie was insane and bizarre and to tell you all the parts of it that confused me would take a post twice as long as this. What a great end to the Sam Neill Netflix Marathon! Can you believe it’s been about one year and eight months since this started? Look for a super fun wrap up post/awards show next week!

It's a good feeling, seeing 100% on thespreadsheet

It’s a good feeling, seeing 100% on thespreadsheet

Previously: Middle of Nowhere Edition

Sam Neill Update: Middle of Nowhere Edition

Sorry it’s been so long, gang! I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since my last Sam Neill update! Unfortunately, we’re almost done with this project! My spreadsheet says 94% complete! But will I ever really be done watching Sam Neill movies? Yeah, right. I’LL QUIT WHEN YOU DO, SAM. I haven’t decided what kind of party I’m going to throw for myself for the sort-of completion of this project, but it will probably involve some kind of greatest hits reel and definitely cupcakes. Get pumped!

The Horse Whisperer (1998)

They should have just named this movie “Shots of Montana with Sad Music”

The Movie: After a tragic horse accident, Grace has lost part of her leg, her best friend, and apparently her horse. It is freaking out, y’all! Then, despite the perfectly reasonable protests of her husband, Mom MacLean decides to take the horse and her daughter on a cross country road trip to the middle of nowhere to work with a “horse whisperer” whom she then of course falls in love with. But their love CAN NEVER BE because they are from two different worlds etc. etc.

I’m upset too, Sam. This movie was over 2 hours of scenery shots

The Character: Sam Neill is, once again, the cuckolded husband. I feel like this must just be on his resume. “Good at playing: 1) Crazy people, 2) Mild-mannered cuckolds, 3) the vaguely sinister”. And, like in other movies where his wife cheats on him, you can’t hate him (I can never hate him), so I ended up being really annoyed at his wife the entire time. Why are you trying to break Sam Neill’s heart?? Cowboy doesn’t want you, anyway. Eventually Sam Neill takes his daughter and her healed horse back home, and everyone except him learns a valuable lesson about not getting so caught up in the hectic New York lifestyle and taking time to relax with family. Sam Neill didn’t learn anything because he is perfect.

Thing I Learned: You can’t work remotely from Montana if you’re the editor of a big New York City magazine before the Internet was a thing.

Should You Watch This?: No. It’s hella boring. And both of the “romantic” characters are annoying and not-hot.

In Cold Blood (1996 TV miniseries)

Sam Neill!!! You look so good in a fedora!!

The Movie: This TV miniseries was based on the Truman Capote “nonfiction novel” of the same name, about the real-life murder of a small town ranch family. Unfortunately, Netflix only sent me one disk, and when I tried to turn it over to watch the second half (which…. what? This is not a record, you guys) it didn’t work. So I’ve only seen the first two hours, which is the long, drawn out setup before the murder that ends with the family being locked in their bathroom while the two bad guys search their house for riches that aren’t there. It was pretty good for a miniseries, but spent way too long establishing that the good guys were good and the bad guys were bad. There was an interesting subplot about the daughter being in love with a boy from a different religion (read: another kind of Christianity! Scandalous!) and not being allowed to date him anymore.

Sam Neill, about to eat some pie

The Character: Sam Neill was barely in the first part of this miniseries, although imdb tells me that he will leap into action in the second part to solve this murder! So he must be like some kind of detective or something? I think the fact that Sam Neill was barely in this made it even more excruciating to sit through, because I kept waiting for him to appear only to be denied!

Thing I Learned: If you’re an award-winning cherry pie maker, you better be ready for random school children to drop by at any time, just bursting with hope to be filled with your pie knowledge.

Should you watch this?: No. I mean, maybe I would change my mind if I had seen the whole thing, but it would have to be pretty damn spectacular to make up for the lackluster two hour buildup.

The Hunter (2011)

I told you Willem Dafoe would be back!

The Movie: This was definitely my favorite of this batch! I still probably wouldn’t have chosen to watch it on my own, but I was interested to see where it was going, since it really wasn’t following a set formula like the other two. Plus, I was happy to see Willem Dafoe team up with Sam Neill again. You may remember him from Victory or Daybreakers, which I watched before. Willem Dafoe is some kind of bounty hunter (an animal bounty hunter?) that a sketchy corporation hires and sends into the wilds of Tasmania to kill the last Tasmanian tiger, which was previously thought to be extinct. Then he’ll take samples of its skin and blood and whatever back to them, and they can use it to patent medicine? Or something? This part wasn’t clear, the point is: Willem Dafoe is looking to kill that tiger, and nothing is going to get in his way!

Except when he gets too involved with the family he’s staying with–a kind of hippie single mom and her two children, struggling after their husband/dad went missing in the very wilderness he’s searching for the tiger. Surprise! He was working for Evil Corporation too, and then they killed him! Just like they try to kill Willem Dafoe when it looks like he’s going to betray them and Do The Right Thing! But Willem Dafoe is too badass for that, kills their assassin, kills the tiger, and leaves them a phone message that’s just “Now you’ll never get what you want. Don’t mess with me, I was a fucking vampire”. Okay, maybe not the last part. Unfortunately, he’s too late to save the single mom he may or may not be falling in love with, since she and her daughter die in a house fire that Evil Corporation’s assassin may have set. But Traumatized Son is still alive, and the last shot of the movie is Willem Dafoe finding him and hugging him. I feel happy and sad at the same time.

Sorry Willem Dafoe kinda hogged the spotlight on that one, Sam. Here’s a picture of you looking like a Tasmanian badass

The Character: Sam Neill is Jack, who drives an awesome yellow jeep and is a family friend to the Poor Doomed Hippies. He may be secretly in love with the mom? Hard to say. He’s also the one who rats out Willem Dafoe to Evil Corp. when he’s clearly doing more than just looking for that tiger, possibly in the hopes that Willem Dafoe will step off his woman. Unfortunately, the plan backfires when Evil Corp.’s assassin kills the mom (by accident? on purpose? as in life, there are no clear answers), and Willem Dafoe leaves Sam Neill after a dramatic confrontation a sad and broken man.

Thing I Learned: The Tasmanian tiger was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times, and is thought to have gone extinct in the 20th century. Unlike most extinct species, we actually have video of this one from 1933. The video was of the last known tiger, which died in 1936. Look at its giant mouth, RAWRRR! The movie made a computer animated one that looked like this guy for Willem Dafoe to hunt!

Should You Watch This?: I’m not sure if it was just because the other ones were so bad, but I’m not just going to give a straight No here. I really liked seeing the Tasmanian wilderness, and Willem Dafoe is a great badass loner WITH A HEART. He’s quiet and doesn’t actually talk much, but you can see his feels all over his face. Plus, the story and script were interesting because they felt more real–this movie definitely didn’t follow a formula so I was interested to see what happened.

Next: Middle of Nowhere Edition
Previously: Playing Both Sides Edition

The Hobbit Reawakens An Obsessive Fangirl, and I Couldn’t Be More Thrilled

Have you missed me? Don’t get excited, the blatant blog sabotage perpetrated by any combination of these suspects has yet to be foiled! Alas, I am writing to you from the public library. Seriously, you know my love of public libraries, but if you want to see desperate and sad, Friday afternoon at the library study tables is it. Everyone looks hella depressed, like they’re not sure what life decisions brought them to this point. Maybe I do too, who can say? I’m sure we each have a story to tell. Though no one is going to beat mine for excitement, since I have a villain with an evil laugh and a case of stolen identity (or split personality?). Yeah, I’m really taking advantage of my ability to link while not having to type out the html on my phone, whatever.

Steven has supposedly traced the issue and has moved to the “procrastinating talking on the phone” stage of the process (the longest in any process since Steven fears all human contact). And maybe he’s been a bit distracted lately because, oh yeah, WE WENT TO THE HOBBIT AT MIDNIGHT LAST NIGHT!!!!

Steven almost had to sit next to someone wearing fake elf ears, THAT’s how much we wanted to see this!!

I admit, I was skeptical. As you may or may not know, I was obsessed with the Lord of the Rings movies when they came out in high school. I saw Fellowship of the Ring 11 times in theaters!! That’s MORE THAN A DAY OF MY LIFE, y’all. I can’t really explain that, and I was nervous that The Hobbit could never live up to my insanely high 15-year-old expectations. Because even if it was good, nothing is as good as when you’re an obsessive 15-year-old fangirl, right?

WRONG!!! SO GOOD!!! I even think I liked it better than the original three? As this io9 review points out, the themes and characters of The Hobbit are much more human and relateable than the sprawling, world war majesty of the The Lord of the Rings. Martin Freeman plays Bilbo with just the right mixture of hesitation, courage, selfishness, and heroism that makes him seem entirely human (even though he is a hobbit, of course!) but also admirable. I know it makes me a bad librarian, but I’ve always liked Peter Jackson’s movies more than the books they’re based on. I just feel like he does a better job of telling a cohesive, understandable story with characters I can understand. Whenever I have this discussion with Steven, he’s always like “Well, but if you read The Silmarillion…”, to which I always respond, “Shut up! I should not have to slog through hundreds of pages of dense symbolic afterthought to understand the original story.” Which maybe makes me lazy, but whatever. I think the movies are better storytelling. Especially this movie.

I think a lot of the comparison that comes up in The Hobbit‘s favor stems from my dislike of Frodo. He’s just so whiny and kind of tiresome. I get that the Ring is hard to carry Frodo, but there are only so many long, drawn-out shots of you looking consumptive and yearning that I can take before I lose patience and scream “BRING BACK DIRTY UNSHAVEN ARAGORN ALREADY!” Thankfully, I didn’t have any of these moments of annoyance in The Hobbit, probably because Bilbo is awesome, and Movie!Bilbo whines less than Book!Bilbo, to the best of my recollection.

I know people are complaining that it’s just “three hours of Gimli and Gandalf”, but, guys, that is like my DREAM. Twelve gimlis+Hot Thorin+snarky Gandalf the Grey+not a Legolas in sight??? That is the equation for my perfect movie, and we haven’t even talked about Radagast the Brown!! It was hard for me to imagine Sylvestor McCoy doing the whole dirty forest wizard thing, because my only exposure to him in the past is as Doctor Who in the late 80s, but he was the perfect blend of whimsical, ridiculous, and then, just occasionally, DEADLY SERIOUS.

Steven was pleased about how they incorporated a lot of the songs, but not in a cheesy, annoying way like in the animated Hobbit movie (okay, maybe “cheesy” and “annoying” are my words, not his), and I enjoyed laughing at how amazingly posed Galadriel always looks, like maybe her ring of power gives her the ability to arrange the folds of her impractically long dresses just so whenever anyone looks at her. Also, all the dwarves got personalities!! And ridiculous facial hair that I wish real life had more of because please braid your beards, hipsters, I will love you so much more.

I also don’t really see this as a shameless money grub like most people. I mean, obviously money is definitely a factor. They wouldn’t be making them if they didn’t think you would see it. But it’s not like the last Twilight movie where they turn no plot into two movies just because. As Peter Jackson proved with the trilogy, each book could have easily made a six hour movie, and I like that we get more back story and information from the appendices than could have been included in one movie, or even was just in the one book. I like how Peter Jackson always seems to be looking at the Middle Earth mythology as a whole and working to tie that together, whether it’s providing a better explanation for things (like where Gandalf is always disappearing to, or who the Necromancer is) or cutting out some of the distracting shit that makes no sense (Tom Fucking Bombadil. I hate you and am glad you’re gone. Yeah, I said it. That’s what happens when you’re a blatant Mary Sue that speaks in annoying rhyme). Movies are necessarily a new format anyway, and I’m often a little disappointed when a movie just mindlessly mirrors the books without providing any insight or utilizing the visual storytelling format more. The book already has illustrations, the movie should at least try to be its own work.

Admittedly, I did not see it in 3D, because I hate 3D and refuse to pay more money for something that makes me feel ill. So your mileage may vary on this entirely shameless outpouring of joy. Also you might not like it as much if you don’t have any magic in your soul. I mean, I can’t help you there.

I tried to find a picture for you of High School Me dressed as Gandalf or something (you know how I love wizards), but there’s nothing on my laptop and, like I said, I’m at the library. I’ll look when I get home and try to upload it from my phone or something ridiculous. BLOG SABOTAGE WILL NOT STOP ME!!!

Sam Neill Update: Playing Both Sides Edition

Sorry this took me so long! I actually watched an entire TV series!! It was only one season, but that’s still better than I usually manage. This project is now sitting at roughly 89% completion and 124 hours.

Happy Town (2010 TV series)

If you have a secret identity tattoo on your upper shoulder, stop wearing shirts with such weird necklines!

The Show: Happy Town is actually Haplin, Minnesota, a small town where nothing ever seems to happen–or so they want you to think. A series of unsolved kidnappings still haunts the town, even though the last person was taken by “The Magic Man” years ago. The kidnappings were never solved, and the victims never found. But now they seem to be starting all over again! It’s one of those shows where everyone is a suspect and, even if they’re not The Magic Man, still has dramatic secrets anyway. The town matriarch who owns the bread factory and will do anything to preserve her family’s reputation, the newly-appointed sheriff whose dad seems to have gone crazy (with guilt?) and whose mom died under mysterious circumstances (OR DID SHE?), the newcomer to town who is clearly lying about her identity and knows more than she’s saying, some teens who are in love but their families hate each other, the owner of a pizza shop whose obsession with the Magic Man leads him to MURDER, the creepy new guy obsessed with old-timey movies and being mysterious, and a set of exciting old ladies who just want to woo him:

And protect themselves from The Magic Man the only way they know how

It was cancelled after only one season, and the series finale opens more questions than it answers. They do reveal the identity of The Magic Man, and though one of the actors claimed that, once revealed, the audience will think it was obvious all along, I kind of think the implications are impossible. Like… there are too many logistical problems. Plus, the main protagonist’s secret identity is never revealed, and the show’s vaguely supernatural obsession with an Old German Film called “The Blue Door” is never explained. We only see snippets of this film throughout the show, but it’s some serious Lost shit: characters who have died appear as actors in the movie and, upon viewing it, Rich Teen changes his mind from running away with his girlfriend to “That was the worst thing I have ever seen… I have to stay here. My place is here.” I turned to the Internet for answers, and all the ones people have come up with are kind of unsatisfactory and crazy, like that the film is purgatory or something. I hate when mystery shows start throwing in supernatural elements randomly. It seems kind of lazy to me.

Also, Amy Acker was there

Sorry for the rant. It’s been bugging me.

The Character: Of course Sam Neill plays Merritt Grieves, the vaguely creepy but super suave owner of this weirdly-placed olde-timey movie memorabilia shop:

Small town Minnesota is JUST the place for you! Clears not hiding something at all!

Sam Neill is really, really good at playing characters whose morals you aren’t quite sure of. I’m thinking of all the flashbacks of him in Crusoe and how I’m still not sure if he was going to be a bad guy or not in that. His mannerisms can be sinister, while at the same time he’s being completely charming. In Happy Town, he claims all the old ladies at his boarding house fussing over him is “the burden of being eternally dashing”. When asked by Evil Matriarch (who is crushin’ on him hardcore) if he wants her to show him around, he responds gallantly with “even more than I would like the ascot back in style”.

Basically the whole time I was like “AHHHHH YOU’RE SO AMAZING!!! But probably also evil? BUT AMAZING!”

Turns out, he was just pretending this whole time, and is actually a badass leather-jacket wearing guy who came to Haplin to catch The Magic Man, who kidnapped his son a long time ago… in England? This is where the “answer” to who the Magic Man is really breaks down.

What I Learned: Don’t trust strangers in hospital cafeterias–they will try to poison you for no reason.

You Should Watch If: You think you can figure out what the heck is going on, so you can explain it to me.

Victory (1996)

This cover looks way more exciting than it actually is

The Movie: So this guy, whose name is Axel (!), lives on an isolated island in the Dutch East Indies. There’s some rumors that he killed his former business partner, but they’re obviously not true because he’s clearly a quiet knight of chivalry. While visiting the port of Surabaya for some reason, he meets Alma, a woman/prostitute being kept in slavery by a guy who owns an “All female orchestra”, which is a barely-disguised front. Not wanting to be sold to the racist hotel owner, Alma asks Axel for help, and he smuggles her away to his secluded island home.


Incidentally, that’s Willem Dafoe, who I recognize from another, more fun Sam Neill movie:

Where his name was Elvis and he was badass

Like Daybreakers, he and Sam Neill are enemies, and also Sam Neill dies at the end.

The Character: Sam Neill plays Mr. Jones, a strangely particular criminal wandering around the world creating gambling rings and stabbing people when they can’t pay. He also hates women and the noise they make.

And looks like someone you’d want to punch

Racist hotel guy, trying to get them and their violence out of his place, tells Sam Neill’s assistant about the beautiful girl who was stolen from him by Axel, so Sam Neill and his plucky crew head out to the island to cause drama and burn stuff down.

Yeah, use Sam Neill as a weapon of revenge, that’ll work out

Eventually, everyone dies except Axel, who, the narration tells us, leaves the island and begins to live again. So… thanks, dead Alma?

What I Learned: 1913 was a rough time to be in the Dutch East Indies

You Should Watch if: ehhh I can’t think of a reason, you shouldn’t. Sorry.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010)

For some reason, Steven thought this would be good enough to bend his “No More Sam Neill” rule again

The Movie: So, cgi owls, guys! This movie was very loosely based on the popular Guardians of Ga’Hoole children’s book series by Kathryn Lasky. I think that was its main problem–the plot felt rushed and there was no time for any characterization beyond the most basic “here’s the bad guy”, “here’s the hero”, “here’s the comic relief”, and “here’s the love interest in the sequel”. The story follows Soren, a young barn owl, and his ragtag friends who escape from “The Pure Ones” and their attempts to build an owl master race and attempt the perilous journey to warn the “guardian” owls of Ga’hoole. Which is like a tree in the middle of the ocean? I don’t know, then there’s an owl war, Soren defeats the Pure Ones’ magical(?) anti-owl weapon, and may or may not kill his Pure One brother. The end!

The owl warriors wear intricate owl helmets and metal claws over their talons. Owl battle!

The Character: Sam Neill is the voice of Allomere, a great gray owl who lives in Ga’Hoole but is revealed to the audience to be in league with the Pure Ones!!! His traitorous ways will supposedly bring him kingship of Ga’Hoole, but, of course, the Pure Ones are like “we already got a king, bro” and once he leads the Guardians into their magical trap, the Pure Ones send bats to drag him away, presumably eating him alive. Way to go, Sam.


What I Learned: Owls can sense things in their gizzard. Including which way to fly, and the future. From now on I’m going to claim to “feel it in my gizzard” whenever I want to sound mysterious.

What Steven Learned: Just because something is about birds does not mean it will be good

You Should Watch if: you want to see pretty cgi of owls; you find the idea of an owl society as ridic as I do

Previously: Thomas Jefferson, Tennis Dad, and a Somber Narrator
Next: More William Dafoe, and a tiger

Sam Neill Update: Thomas Jefferson, Tennis Dad, and a Somber Narrator

I can’t find my camera to take pictures of my new apartment, so you get some Sam Neill instead!!! I realized today that I screwed up my own spreadsheet awhile ago when updating it, so the figures I’ve been giving you the past few updates have been wrong. I’m actually only 85% done with this project. Don’t even pretend to be disappointed, I know you’re super psyched that you still get to read all about Sam Neill. Also, I watched all of these before the move, so it’s been awhile and I can’t remember all of the hilarious details. If there were any hilarious details. These were all kind of depressing, in different ways.

Sally Hemings: An American Scandal (2000 TV movie)

Steven was so excited to see Sam Neill play Thomas Jefferson, he went so far as to lift his “You’ve burned me once too often, Sam” ban on helping me with this project.

You’d think he’d look a little more enthused, right?

The Movie: Sally Hemings is a teenage slave when her relationship with Thomas Jefferson begins, when she accompanies his daughter to join him when he’s ambassador to France. TJ realizes she’s smart (and hot) so he takes an interest in her education, leading to a life-spanning love affair that causes major drama, both within the Jefferson family (thanks, bitchy daughters) and on the political stage of the country at large. Sally is apparently the half-sister of Jefferson’s dead wife, and most of the children she has with him look white but are still slaves, leading to awkward questions and misunderstandings. At Jefferson’s death at the end, Sally reveals to Bitchy Daughter Number 1 that she has been free this whole time and she’ll do what she wants now, thanks. Go girl.

Yeah, that wig is doing nothing for you, Sam

The Character: Steven says Sam Neill is good, but just isn’t “his” Thomas Jefferson.

I assume he’d prefer this one

I thought he did an okay job, especially at selling the dichotomy between Jefferson’s personal feelings for Sally and his public actions in regards to slavery. He was kind of overshadowed by how awesome Carmen Ejogo was as Sally, which was probably what the film was going for anyway. Sally is not going to take shit from you, even if you are the president, and you are just going to have to deal with that. Okay, so I may have girl powered out a little while watching this.

What I Learned: James T. Callender was super mad when Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t appoint him postmaster general. I had no idea postmaster general was such a coveted position. I guess, hey, all the stamps you want.

You should watch this if: You like really long historical pieces and/or Thomas Jefferson

Wimbledon (2004)

Kirsten Dunst, laughing at the direction her career has taken

The Movie: Peter Colt is a tennis player, but not a great one. He’s played by the same guy who was that creepy, self-flagellating priest in The Da Vinci Code, so that was also distracting. Anyway, it’s his last year at Wimbledon, and he meets and falls in lust with up-and-coming tennis star Kirsten Dunst. They have a love affair, which seems to be really helping Peter’s game, but really hurting hers. Of course they have the obligatory argument about whether he loves tennis more than her, he declares his love on national TV, and he wins Wimbledon and the girl as per the prescribed formula for these movies. I told you this week was depressing.

Sam Neill, trying to be reasonable in the face of all this cliche

The Character: Obvs Sam Neill plays her controlling, disapproving father! He’s so good at that, after all. He’s also her tennis coach, and you can’t really get mad at him because he does have a point. Flirting and spending all her time with Peter is hurting her game. I guess, like all dads, he just doesn’t understand that TRUE LOVE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TENNIS OMG.

What I Learned: Professional tennis players are all self-centered, superstitious jerks.

You should watch if: you like formulaic romantic comedies; your dad keeps getting in the way of your relationship

Gallipoli (2005)
Not to be confused with the 1981 Mel Gibson movie of the same name.

I’d probably still take this over more Wimbledon

The Movie: Much like SuperCroc, this was a documentary that Sam Neill narrated. Unlike Supercroc, I was less interested in the subject matter, but Sam Neill’s co-narrator was Jeremy Irons so I was okay with it.

Feel free to tell me everything you know about WWI, preferably in song form

I really wish Sam Neill would start narrating audio books, because he would be way good at it. Every time I can’t finish an audio book because the narrator’s voice is too annoying, I hope that someday, when he’s too old to play disapproving dads, Sam Neill will make this dream a reality. All you have to do is watch one of his documentaries to see how awesome this would be!!

What I Learned: I actually knew something about this campaign from the Louis de Bernieres book, Birds Without Wings, but that account is so lyrical and personal, it was interesting to find out what really happened in the big picture.

You should watch if: you like looking at black-and-white historical photos; being sad about humanity

Previously: Losing My Mind Edition
Next: Playing Both Sides Edition

Sam Neill Update: Losing My Mind Edition

I’ve noticed that Sam Neill loves playing crazy people (Event Horizon, In the Mouth of Madness, arguably Merlin 2 because why would you ever agree to Merlin 2?). Unfortunately, I did not group these movies thematically before viewing, so this Sam Neill update only has one movie where it’s actually Sam Neill’s sanity in question. Oh well.

Current project status: 91% complete!!! Right now, only 6 more to go! Assuming my spreadsheet is correct.

Dean Spanley (2008)

Peter O'Toole, Jeremy Northam, and Sam Neill just wanted to hang out without that pesky Henry VIII bothering them

The Movie: Peter O’Toole is Jeremy Northam’s aging father and their interactions are Edwardian and hilarious. Even though I don’t have a brother who was killed in the Boer War, I still can completely interpret every long-suffering look on Jeremy Northam’s face as his dad demands to eat the same meal every day, is affably rude to random acquaintances, and loudly snores during a public lecture. Through a series of coincidences, Northam discovers that local Dean Spanley will regress to his previous life as a dog while drinking some kind of super rare Hungarian liquor he likes.

Let's get smashed and talk about how fun it is to chase sheep and pee on things

And not just any dog, but PETER O’TOOLE’s childhood dog!!!! Who disappeared unexpectedly, crushing his young heart and making him incapable of responding to grief!!! But, after listening to Dean Spanley’s account of that day (spoiler alert: he was shot by a hunter? farmer? someone kind of grizzled, anyway), the aging father finally accepts his son’s death and shares a bonding hug with Jeremy Northam. Then gets a dog. Booyah.

Some fathers and sons bond over fishing, but whatever it takes, you guys

The Character: Sam Neill is Dean Spanley!!! Of course. His full name is W.A.G. Spanley, which is not at all a connection to his previous life as a spaniel named Wag. He’s actually quite serious and no-nonsense, even when talking from his past life dog point of view. There’s just something so bizarre and transfixing about seeing this kind of uptight guy saying things like “The Master didn’t understand how much I hated baths; there was nothing so shameful as meeting a friend and having no smell” like it is the most serious business in the world.

Nothing about this situation is funny at all

What I Learned: At any one time, there are only seven great dogs in the world.

You should watch this if: you like Peter O’Toole and his ridiculous faces

The Vow (2012)

Oh, Sam Neill, the sacrifices I make for you

The Movie: Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum are quirky and in love and so forcibly adorable that you want to throw up in their hair. Then Rachel gets amnesia after a car accident, forgetting entirely about her relationship with Channing Tatum, and why she hasn’t seen her family in years. Channing attempts to be even more quirky and adorable to win his wife back, but after pressure from her family and resistance from her, he agrees to a divorce. Then Rachel discovers the reason she quit law school and left her family for the city and art school: her dad was having an affair with one of her friends! Also she likes art more than law. The film ends with McAdams back in the city and art school, asking Channing Tatum out for dinner. Nicholas Sparks, someone is horning in on your turf.

Sam Neill will always offer you a drink before trying to break up your marriage because he's a classy guy

The Character: Sam Neill is Rachel McAdams’ dad, who at first seems like a bad guy, trying to use the accident to break up the marriage he never liked and win back the daughter he betrayed without her knowing. Except it was kind of more his wife whom he betrayed? And she’s cool with it? Whatever, the point is, Rachel McAdams forgives him in the end, because she is such a big-hearted person, and he really just missed her and wanted what was best for her.

What I Learned: This movie was based on a true story!!!! I’m not sure how much of the law school/cheating Sam Neill backstory is true, but at the end they tell you that the real-life couple stayed married and have kids, and that she never regained her memory. Wikipedia says they credit “their faith in Jesus and their wedding vows before God” with keeping them together. So not chocolate and skinny dipping like in the movie, then.

You should watch this if you like: Nicholas Sparks

Children of the Revolution (1996)

I WISh everyone in this movie had a mustache

The Movie: So this Australian lady is obsessed with Joesph Stalin and writes him these passionate letters about how she just can’t get the revolution started in Australia. He invites her to the USSR to woe her, but ends up dying after they sleep together. Luckily everyone is pretty psyched, so she’s not in trouble, but she is pregnant. She marries some guy in the Australian communist party who like-likes her, and tries to raise the son, Joe, in the communist way. Joe falls in love with a Latvian policewoman whose grandparents were brutally murdered during Stalin’s purges, a fact that begins to torment her after Joe grows a mustache and starts taking control of the police force, looking and acting more and more like Stalin daily.

Yeah, I would not be that upset if I came home to find Sam Neill unexpectedly in my house, but I'm not a communist party leader so whatever

The Character: Sam Neill plays Joe’s possible father, a Russian/Australian/British/??? spy, who seems pretty unclear on whose side he’s on, just that he’s in love with Joan. He accompanies her to the USSR, either to kill her or to protect her, depending on whose orders he decides to take, and ends up having grief-sex with her right after Stalin’s death. Yes, that’s apparently a thing. He tries to do his best by Joe, believing he might be the father, but ends up attempting suicide after discovering he killed Joe’s wife’s Latvian grandparents on Stalin’s orders.

I don't know, somehow this movie is still billing itself as a comedy

What I Learned: People have apparently been arguing about the cause of Stalin’s death since it happened! In 2003, a joint group of Russian and American historians announced their view that he’d eaten warfarin, a powerful rat poison which predisposes the victim to strokes. Stalin was 74 and already suffering the ill-effects of his lifetime of heavy smoking.

You should watch this if: you enjoy fake documentaries; you want to see the lighter side of Stalin

I can’t believe I’m almost done with this project!!! I’m going to have to think of something dramatic to do to celebrate!

Previously: Prime Minister, Soviet Sub Captain, Master Criminal
Next: Thomas Jefferson, Tennis Dad, and a Somber Narrator

Sam Neill Update: Prime Minister, Soviet Sub Captain, Master Criminal

Sorry I couldn’t think of an overarching theme for this week. It was going to be “Sam Neill: Action Guy”, but I couldn’t really make this first one fit with that. And then I thought maybe “Sam Neill: Forgettable Minor Character” but he’s the main villain–well “villain”–in the last one, so that didn’t work either. Deal with it. Current status of this project: 86% complete, 105 hours.

Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (1999)

Sam Neill's head has no business being the second biggest on this cover

The Movie: This film is based on the true story of Father Damien, a priest who selflessly worked for 16 years in the leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, petitioning the government and church for funds, helping to build houses and plant crops, and eventually dying of leprosy himself.

Sorry I didn't get any pictures of leprosy for you

The colony is a pretty terrible place to be, especially when Damien first gets there. People are forcibly sent there, taken away from their families, and it’s underfunded and lawless, with the few strong less-sick people stealing all the rations. With Damien’s help, global awareness grows, and the government is eventually forced to send them things like beds and a doctor. I was surprised to read that people were being moved there as late as 1969, and some of them are still there. Also, in 2009 Father Damien was made a saint!

The Character: Sam Neill plays the prime minister Walter M. Gibson whose wikipedia page pretty much reads like a ridiculous adventure novel (gunrunning? excommunication? buying a newspaper to tell everyone how great he is? a Pacific empire?). Unfortunately, the version of him Sam Neill plays is much less exciting, mostly limiting himself to weaseling out of giving Father Damien anything, and insisting that leprosy is just a form of syphilis, so clearly those people deserve it for being skanks.

But, hey, sideburns

What I Learned: All about leprosy! Which we are now calling Hansen’s disease. Apparently sufferers stop being contagious after 2 weeks of treatment and about 95% of people are naturally immune.

You should watch this if: you aren’t planning on eating breakfast while watching, unlike me

The Hunt for Red October (1990)

You’ve probably already seen this one, right?

I bet this was a lot more exciting in 1990

The Movie: I know it’s weird that I’ve never seen this, but you know I’m not a huge fan of war movies. I also managed to somehow live 22 years without knowing the basic plot, so I was pretty curious at the outset if Sean Connery was going to be a bad guy or not and how one-dimensional evil the Soviets would be, since this was made during the Cold War. If, like me, you somehow don’t know this plot, let me fill you in. Sean Connery is a USSR submarine captain who, along with his officers, has decided to defect to the US with their super cool awesome new submarine, the Red October.

According to imdb, that hair piece cost $20,000

In the process, he has to keep the US from just firing on him, keep the Russians from sinking the ship so it doesn’t fall into US hands, and save the rest of his crew who don’t know anything about this secret plan. Luckily, the CIA has Alex Baldwin, who can basically read his mind.

Also, Tim Curry is his doctor?

I don’t really understand all of what happened (I admit to completely spacing out during the “dramatic” submarine maneuvers at the end), but after getting the rest of the crew to evacuate because of a fake radiation leak, Sean Connery tricks the pursuing USSR submarine into blowing itself up. Somehow? I don’t know, the point is, he totally makes it to America and the government doesn’t want you to know about it.

Sean Connery/Sam Neill??? I ship it

The Character: Sam Neill plays Captain Vasili Borodin, and he seems to be Sean Connery’s second in command. At one point, he asks Sean Connery if the Americans will “let him live in Montana”, and that his plan is to marry a “round American woman” and raise rabbits and winter in Arizona with a pick up truck and just drive around from state to state, because they let you do that. And I was like “Russian Accent Sam, I will be your round American woman any day.” I would maybe even learn to cook rabbits.

Oh, but you've got to give me that hat. Important part of this deal

Unfortunately, our dreams could never be, since he’s killed by a cook/saboteur right before the submarine version of a Western shoot out. He dies saying how sad he is to never get to see Montana.

What I Learned: Apparently the sonar guy in the US submarine can hear the men singing inside the Red October at one point?? I had no idea sonar was so precise.

You should watch this if you like: war movies; not knowing what’s going on

Framed (2002 TV movie)

Rob Lowe with a New York accent was the main character of this movie, which was super distracting

This cover pretty much says it all

The Movie: Rob Lowe is vacationing with his family in the Bahamas when he happens to run into Sam Neill, famed money launderer. So he catches him! Yay! Then Sam Neill turns state’s evidence, or whatever, to help them get some Russian mob boss, but is convinced that the New York state attorney is crooked and out to get him. Rob Lowe is tricked into helping him escape? Or maybe it was their plan all along? Something like that.

I'm mainly used to Rob Lowe from Parks and Rec, so it was shocking to see him eat a candy bar

A lot of the plot hinges on Rob Lowe’s attempts to get Sam Neill to give him a “secret zip disk” with lots of incriminating data on it. lulz 2002

The Character: Sam Neill is like amoral James Bond, basically.

Just chillin on my boat with my wife and girlfriend. What?

He teaches Rob Lowe’s character about cloth napkins and fancy cooking, and, to make sure he’s not wearing a wire/being tracked, forces him to change clothes into this fancy schmancy suit he bought him.

"Are you giving me fashion tips at gun point?" "Someone has to"

Eventually Sam Neill gets away to live on his boat in the Caribbean with the two beautiful ladies that are right for him, and Rob Lowe gets his precious zip disk. After turning down a handful of diamonds for some reason. Sometimes being the good cop sucks.

What I Learned: In Brooklyn, using cloth napkins is grounds for your wife cheating on you.

You should watch this if: you want to see Sam Neill being ridiculously nonchalant about how fancy he is.

Previously: Dad Edition
Next: Losing My Mind Edition

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