The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938 - DVD)
The tale of Robin Hood, the Sherwood Forest thief who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, is timeless and classic, and this 1938 Technicolor film starring Errol Flynn as Robin, Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian, and Basil Rathbone as Sir Guy of Gisbourne, is one of the greatest versions of that tale ever brought to film.
The performances are dashing, the colors are brilliant, there are tons of derring-do stunts and swordfights, and the fight scenes (though a bit toned down due to issues with violence in movies at the time) are exciting and well-played. For a guy running through trees in green tights, Robin sure comes across as a total badass. Take for instance, a scene where he grabs a rope and climbs over a closing drawbridge, or one where he nonchalantly walks up to Prince John and dumps an illegally-poached dead deer on his dinner table, or one where he makes an escape on horseback with his hands bound behind him.
The story line is full of humor, romance, and poignancy, and I legitimately felt a chill when the true ruler of England, King Richard, returns in disguise and reveals his true identity. In short, I love this movie.
Citizen Kane (1941 - DVD)
Citizen Kane, often cited by critics as being the greatest movie of all time, is also frequently the subject of parody, but it truly is an amazing and downright depressing film. A reporter sets out to discover the mystery of newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane's final word before his death, "Rosebud". While seeking answers, the reporter learns the entire fascinating life story of Kane, but comes to the conclusion that a man's life cannot be summed up by one word... Or can it?
Kane is, in many ways, a monster - domineering, controlling, manipulative, ruthless, and able to start a war with just his words. But on the other hand, I couldn't help but feel that he was doing what he truly believed was best for everyone (sure, you could say that about all tyrants, I suppose), but when you consider how everyone was behind him and he was almost elected president, and the only reason they ditched him like yesterday's souffle was because they found out he was having an affair, it can make you wonder what the hell life is really about.
Kane's world spirals even further downward when his second marriage falls apart. His second wife was an opera singer (and not a very good one) who ends up being affected more personally and emotionally than anyone else by Kane's desires to treat people as he feels they want to be treated rather than the way they actually do want to be treated. I think there are times in everyone's lives when we have been in this situation, and sometimes we are Kane, and other times we are the opera singer... It's something to stop and think about.
Enter the Dragon (1973 - DVD)
Enter the Dragon is the quintessential Chinese martial arts movie starring the legendary Bruce Lee, and it was the first movie of its kind to have been produced by a major Hollywood studio. In it, Bruce Lee, essentially playing himself, is hired by the government to infiltrate an island owned by the villainous Han, which is believed to be a front for a human trafficking racquet. Lee enters a tournament that Han holds every year to recruit new men into his personal army.
For something that could so easily have come across as a cheesy kung fu flick, it has a lot of beautiful art direction, and some very poignant, powerful scenes, such as a certain major character's death and a scene where Lee finds an imprisoned woman who desperately wants to be rescued.
The action scenes are very well-choreographed and treated with dead seriousness, from Roper's one-on-one fight against the hulking O'Hara, to an all-out brawl between Han's men and his island's original inhabitants, and the spectacularly iconic fight between Lee and Han at the movie's climax - in a room full of thousands of mirrors with Han wearing a bear claw.
Incidentally, Mortal Kombat borrowed heavily from this film, both for the original game's plot and the movie. And the Double Dragon characters Roper and Williams, and no doubt the Lee brothers themselves, were all named after this movie's main heroes.
The Muppet Movie (1979 - DVD)
It was the first ever Muppet movie and it's still my favorite. It was made shortly after the end of Season 1 of The Muppet Show and features many of the greatest muppets of the era in a tale that explains how they all met each other and got their own TV show. It also contains two of the most iconic songs associated with the Muppets, "The Rainbow Connection" and "Moving Right Along", a fun story, and many hilarious jokes and visual effects, including a giant Animal head rising out of a building, a car hiding in a billboard, and Kermit riding a bicycle. The movie is made all the more fun by the numerous celebrity cameos, and if you're familiar with the show, there's also the bonus of spotting cameos from the lesser-known muppet characters.
I do have one gripe with it, and I had this issue with The Great Muppet Caper, too: The whole of Act 2 focuses a lot on Miss Piggy and the movie slows way down when that happens. I don't understand why it's always assumed that the audience has more interest in her than it probably actually does. While the Steve Martin cameo in that segment was amusing, I just kept wanting the show to get back on the road. Thankfully, eventually it does and the pace picks right back up again, thanks in part to some great scenes by my favorite muppet "band", The Electric Mayhem, and a certain "swiveling chair" surprise reveal of a major motion picture figurehead.
Superman II (1980 - DVD)
I have a lot of fondness for this movie, and I would say it's one of my favorite comic book movies of all time, but I won't ignore the fact that it's got some really ridiculous moments of WTF. Cases in point:
After Superman loses his powers, which is stressed as being irreversible, he somehow gets them back with no explanation. It has something to do with a green crystal that lights up and the fact that Marlon Brando's scenes couldn't be used, but geez. They could have come up with something.
I also don't get why Superman losing his powers would be permanent anyway since exposure to Earth's yellow sun is what causes them. A temporary loss, I can believe, but you'd think prolonged exposure to the sun would eventually bring them back.
Characters seem to conveniently go wherever they want in this movie. Superman's lair is at the North Pole, right? So, he loses his powers there, and then suddenly Lois and Clark are driving around in New York (Metropolis). How did they get from the North Pole to New York if he can no longer fly? And then, when he wants his powers back, he walks back to the North Pole?
For that matter, where did Lex Luthor get that snowmobile/sled thing from when he was going there? Don't tell me it was in the hot air balloon's basket...
So with all this goofiness, why do I still like it, you ask? Well, it's a comic book movie, so I can forgive some silliness. But it also has excellent fight scenes, courtesy of a trio of supervillains and special effects that have stood the test of time quite well. Yeah, this is the movie that has Zod, as in "Kneel before Zod", a role that Terence Stamp totally absorbs. And the plot, for what it's worth, is okay.
PS. This was the original version of the movie I watched, not the Donner cut.
Community: The Complete First Season (2009 - DVD)
I wasn't able to watch Season 1 of this show when it originally aired because I worked Thursday nights back then, but I bought the DVD for Christmas and decided to catch up on it. While I still don't watch the show steadily, I was glad I did revisit Season 1 because it's actually a pretty decent show. Community is a comedy with a lovable cast of diverse and quirky characters that takes place in a realistic setting (a community college), but often finds itself in far-out situations (like a paintball contest that envelopes the whole school and makes movie references galore).
Unfortunately, it does get off to a slow start. The first two episodes kind of drag, but then the third, "Abed's Film Class", is hilarious, and the fourth, where Abed ruins a psych experiment, is great, too. However, when the show focuses more on its main lead, Jeff Winger, it's not quite as funny. (I personally didn't care about his relationship with his statistics teacher.)
But while it may not be a 5-star show, it's full of plenty of 5-star moments: Abed, as Batman, saving Pierce and Jeff from a stack of falling tables made me laugh hysterically, and the "Modern Warfare", aka, "Paintball" episode is one of the funniest single episodes of a comedy show I've seen since Arrested Development's "Mr. F."