Gladiator (2000)

Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix

Crowe plays Maximus Decimus Meridius, a general in the Roman army who is betrayed by the murdered emperor’s son. He enters the Gladiator pit as a slave and becomes as powerful as the new emperor himself. Seeking the ultimate revenge by literally fighting for his freedom.

The movie contains some of the best monologues and motivational speeches of any movie (up there with Braveheart). The fight scenes are extremely well choreographed and played out. The story line is great. Some things actually annoy me in this movie, like the fake birds flying in front of the Colosseum, however, this does not detract from my eagerness to watch this movie.

4.25 out of 5 

The Boondock Saints (1999)

Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, Billy Connolly

After accidentally killing members of the Mafia, two Irish brothers decide God has given them a task to rid the world of ‘bad’ people. Smecker (Dafoe) is the best detective in the land who is tasked with finding the culprits for these murders.

Flanery and Reedus are very good as the Irish brothers. Learning on the job, they turn themselves into fearsome killers. Connolly looks fantastic as the most dangerous man to walk the planet - IL Duce - and his initial gun battle shows how good he was at portraying this cold killer. This is kind of a cult movie. One of my best mates put me onto it and I have loved it ever since. The sometimes far fetched story line works for me. I mean, how accurate can you be firing a gun during certain scenes (no spoilers here, but you will know the scene when you see it)? It all makes for a good story I guess.

3.25 out of 5

Avatar (2009)

Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Salanda

Jake Sully (Worthington) is a paraplegic marine sent to Pandora after his brother’s untimely death. Arriving to take control of an ‘Avatar’ which will allow him to walk with the unique flora and fauna, Sully is required to learn the ways of the ‘Na-vi’, the indigenous people of Pandora who are at one with the land and all it’s inhabitants. His undercover mission is to continue sending updates to the Colonel who wants to destroy the Na-vi and mine their resources for the corporate world.

This has some of the best characters, best actors, best special effects that you will see in a movie. Stephen Lang’s portrayal as Colonel Quaritch is sensational. The over the top attitude, his demeanour and arrogance is brilliant. He makes the role his own and controls the movie. Worthington’s development and understanding is very good. Weaver plays the role of biologist well and the role of Neytiri played by Salanda is excellent. Again, there is an underlying message to this movie, which I love, about acceptance, forgiveness, bravery and respect for nature that you cannot help but buy into. This is one of those movies that I seem to take in another key message or detail each time I watch it. Simply outstanding.

5 out of 5!!

Pay it Forward (2000)

Kevin Spacey, Haley Joel Osment, Helen Hunt

After being given with the task of ‘making a difference’ by his social studies teacher (Spacey), Trevor (Osment) tries to make the world a better place with an assignment to ‘Paying it Forward’. The idea is to do something for someone else and and not expect the favour in return, but for the favour to be paid forward to three other individuals, thus creating a culture of people giving to others.

The idea and message behind this movie is outstanding. The characters were portrayed well, Spacey as the quiet, yet strong minded teacher who had to fight his own inner demons, Osment who is just a kid trying to make a difference and Hunt (Trevor’s alcoholic mother) who grows throughout the movie are all excellent. The ending is designed to shock and showed that their is hope in humanity with the final scenes. Unfortunately for my ratings, I just did not like the movie as much as I did the message.

2 out of 5

Gladiator (1992)

Cuba Gooding Jr, James Marshall, Brian Dennehy

Tommy Riley (Marshall) moves to a new neighbourhood as his dad has fallen on tough times. Not nearly as tough as what Riley must face at his new school. After throwing a few punches in a street fight he is picked up by the underground boxing promoter who only cares about his back pocket and not the rules and regulations of the boxing or the welfare of his ‘prodigies’. With no choice but to fight after Horn (Dennehy) buys out his fathers gambling debts, Riley quickly learns that this is not the marquees of queensberry he had known in the past. How will Riley and Lincoln (Gooding Jr) battle their way out of Horn’s grasp?

A favourite of mine for a number of years. The uncut version can be hard to watch during one of the fight scenes, however this shows  a traditional ‘rise above’ story line. The ‘Gladiator’ fight (bare knuckles) shows that young Riley has learned and listened along the way. Some of the acting is a bit poor, however this stays as one of my favourite pump up movies.

2.75 out of 5

The Rookie (2002)

Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths

The story of Jim Morris. A 39 year old high school teacher and coach of the baseball team at Texas High. Agreeing to try out again if his team could pull off the unthinkable and win the championship, he finds himself being signed by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to a minor league contract working his way towards his dream of playing in the majors.

What a great interpretation of the story of Jim Morris. Quaid does a great job at showing how humbling the experience was for Morris. Two things happen during this movie, especially towards the end. You either get a tear in the eye or a shiver down the spine as you watch Jim Morris achieve his dream.

One of the best sporting movies around, a must watch for any sporting enthusiast.

4.5 out of 5

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Terry Crews, Randy Courture, Scott Adkins….

Barney Ross is back with his crew. This time they are after the ‘Sangs’ and their leader Vilain who are dealing in stolen plutonium. 

What a great movie. Again the question needs to be asked what do I want out of a movie like this and again I say to watch all of these guys in one movie blowing stuff up. Probably the best cameo from Chuck Norris with his own ‘Norris Joke’. Is this one as good as the first? Well, that depends on your own taste. 

4.5 out of 5 (same as the first for me)

Freedom Writers (2007)

Hilary Swank, Patrick Dempsey

A graduate teacher (Ms Gruwell, played by Swank) is posted to Woodrow, where she is instantly challenged having to work with some of the toughest teenagers from three distinct ethnic groups who all hate each other. Fighting against the students, the lack of resourcing and other faculty members who believe the integration program has ruined the school, Gruwell does her best to win over and teach the unteachable.

Based on a true story, this is a eye opener. The message of acceptance and loyalty resonates through this entire movie. Swank plays her character very well and the development of the students is outstanding. 

3.5 out of 5

The Expendables (2010)

Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Steve Austin and Mickey Rourke…

Stallone stars as Barney Ross, a gun for hire with his band of ‘expendable’ mercenaries who take on jobs and always get their man. After deciding that the job was not for them, Ross and Christmas, Statham, leave before Ross has a change of heart and his entire group go back and get the job done.

If you are looking for a movie with a story line etc, this may not quite be the movie for you. If you are looking for a movie with all of your favourite actors from your childhood with a few new favourites and sensational cameos, thank you Mr Schwarzenegger Mr Willis, then this movie will be top of you list for years to come. Action a plenty, action heroes and some of the best one liners you will hear, this movie has it all.

4.5 out of 5

300 (2006)

Gerard Butler, Lena Headey

The classic retelling of 300 Spartans! King Leonidas takes 300 men to guard the hot gates against the invading ‘God King’ Xerxes. Looking for a ‘glorious Death’ the Spartans hold no fear against the thousands coming towards them.

Ok, so I am a little biased because I love this kind of movie. Mindless violence, sword play, heroes, villains etc. That is my kind of movie. Butler plays his role very well, his speech during regular scenes is very cool and when he tells his men to do something, they ask how high! Lots of computerised enhancements to the fight scenes, but that doesn’t bother me.

This is one of those movies that I would, and will, watch over and over. 

As I said, I love this flick, 4.75 out of 5!!