The Iron Giant Now Available on Blu-Ray

I love The Iron Giant, and I think you will too. This movie was on my radar all the way back in 1999 when it was first released. I heard that it was a great movie that nobody saw. It took me 14 years, but I finally got to see it at my annual movie marathon of 2013. Watching this movie for the first time was a joy. Discovering this movie reminded me of other great discoveries from my past movie marathons like Casablanca, 12 Angry Men, and Goldfinger. Finding movies like this reminds me why I have movie marathons. My kids loved it too, and they still re-watch it as one of their favorites today.

The plot centers around a boy who discovers an alien giant robot who crash-landed on earth. The movie explores themes of heroism, life and death, and choosing who you want to be – even in the face of prejudice from others. It is set right in the middle of the Cold War and nails the paranoia and jittery snap-judgement of authority figures at the time. It also beautifully evokes 1950s era sci-fi design. You see it both in the cheesy films playing on TV during the movie, and with the Iron Giant himself. I can’t tell you how happy I was when the Iron Giant “transforms” later in the movie. I won’t spoil the surprise, but this sequence triggered fond memories of my own young days watching 1950s alien invasion movies.

The movie has heart too. Pixar is famous for evoking many emotions in its films. Brad Bird joined Pixar after directing The Iron Giant, and he must have fit right in. The Iron Giant runs the gamut from joy, to wonder, to sadness, and to bittersweet satisfaction.

The Blu-Ray release of The Iron Giant “Signature Edition” is now available on Amazon for $10. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you need to buy this disc immediately. For that price, you don’t have much to lose. I have a feeling you’ll be as delighted as I was when you see it. Have fun!

Scott’s Sci-fi Movie Marathon Recommendations

Scott Riblet sent me an excellent list of sci-fi movie marathon recommendations. They are below for your viewing pleasure. If you want to get picky, not all of them are technically sci-fi (i.e. Desk Set), but they are all arguably at least sci-fi adjacent (i.e. a big computer is involved in Desk set).

Lego sci-fiForbidden Planet (1956)

Action | Adventure | Family – Rotten Tomatoes score 98%

A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet’s colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has.

Blast from the past (1999)

Comedy | Drama | Romance – Rotten Tomatoes score: 58%

A romantic comedy about a naive man who comes out into the world after being in a nuclear fallout shelter for 35 years.

Desk Set (1957)

Comedy | Romance – Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

Two extremely strong personalities clash over the computerization of a TV network’s research department.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Drama | Sci-fi | Thriller – Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.

Exam (2009)

Mystery | Thriller – Rotten Tomatoes score: 63%

The final candidates for a highly desirable corporate job are locked together in an exam room and given a test so simple and confusing that tension begins to unravel.

Cube (1997)

Mystery | Sci-fi | Thriller – Rotten Tomatoes score: 62%

7 complete strangers of widely varying personality characteristics are involuntarily placed in an endless kafkaesque maze containing deadly traps.

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Adventure | Horror | Sci-fi – Rotten Tomatoes score – 83%

A strange prehistoric beast lurks in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. A group of scientists try to capture the animal and bring it back to civilization for study.

The Mummy (1932)

Horror – Rotten Tomatoes score – 92%

A living mummy stalks the beautiful woman he believes is the reincarnation of his lover.

King Kong (1933)

Adventure | Fantasy | Horror – Rotten Tomatoes score – 98%

A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal giant gorilla who takes a shine to their female blonde star.

The Blob (1958)

Horror | Sci-fi | Thriller – Rotten Tomatoes score – 66%

An alien lifeform consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.

7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Family | Fantasy | Action – Rotten Tomatoes score – 100%

When a princess is shrunken by an evil wizard, Sinbad must undertake a quest to an island of monsters to cure her and prevent a war.

Thief of Bagdad (1940)

Adventure | Family | Fantasy – Rotten Tomatoes score – 100%

After being tricked and cast out of Bagdad by the evil Jaffar, King Ahmad joins forces with a thief named Abu to reclaim his throne, the city, and the Princess he loves.

Dracula (1931)

Horror – Rotten Tomatoes score – 91%

The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina.

Frankenstein (1931)

Horror | Sci-fi – Rotten Tomatoes score – 100%

An obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses.

Photo by Masked Builder

Movie Marathon 2014 Planning Kickoff!

I’m kicking off planning for Movie Marathon 2014! This will be the sixth movie marathon my wife and I have hosted at our house (since 2009) and the tenth I’ve co-hosted in my lifetime (since 1999!). The working title is: Movie Marathon VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Movie Marathon 2014

First order of business – potential movies! I think I have a good starter list, but I need your help in getting more ideas! I’ve had great success in the past from suggestions from friends and family. The movies below are just what I’ve come up with on my own. Please comment in this post with your ideas!

We’ll be bringing back kid-friendly zones, so I’ve divided up the potential movie list into movies aimed at adults and those aimed at the kids. Enjoy!

Movies for the Adults

The Wicker Man (1973)

Horror | Mystery | Thriller – Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

A police sergeant is sent to a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl whom the townsfolk claim never existed. Stranger still are the rites that take place there.

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Comedy | Romance – Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%

While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard “Baby.”

The French Connection (1971)

Action | Crime | Thriller – Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%

A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection.

Notorious (1946)

Drama | Film-Noir | Romance – Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

A woman is asked to spy on a group of Nazi friends in South America. How far will she have to go to ingratiate herself with them?

Hannah and her Sisters (1986)

Comedy | Drama – Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%

Between two Thanksgivings, Hannah’s husband falls in love with her sister Lee, while her hypochondriac ex-husband rekindles his relationship with her sister Holly.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Drama | Film-Noir – Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%

A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.

The Crow (1994)

Action | Fantasy – Rotten Tomatoes score: 82%

A man brutally murdered comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancée’s murder.

Kid Friendly Zone

Bolt (2008)

Animation | Adventure | Comedy – Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%

The canine star of a fictional sci-fi/action show that believes his powers are real embarks on a cross country trek to save his co-star from a threat he believes is just as real.

Tarzan (1999)

Animation | Adventure | Drama – Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%

A man raised by gorillas must decide where he really belongs when he discovers he is a human.

Mulan (1998)

Animation | Adventure | Family – Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%

To save her father from death in the army, a young maiden secretly goes in his place and becomes one of China’s greatest heroines in the process.

Lilo and Stitch (2002)

Animation | Adventure | Comedy – Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%

A Hawaiian girl adopts an unusual pet who is actually a notorious extra-terrestrial fugitive from the law.

Ella Enchanted (2004)

Comedy | Family | Fantasy – Rotten Tomatoes score: 50%

Ella is under a spell to be constantly obedient, a fact she must hide from her new step-family in order to protect the prince of the land, her friend for whom she’s falling.

Movie Recommendation Engines

I’m always on the lookout for excellent new movies to include in my movie marathons, so I was delighted to learn that movie recommendation engines are a thing. Not only are they a thing, there are a bunch of them out there. Some are built into video-on-demand services, like Netflix. Some exist as stand-alone services, like Jinni.

The current consensus is that Jinni is the best movie recommendation engine out there. Jinni gets up to speed on your taste preferences quickly by importing movie ratings from other social media and video-on-demand accounts. I liked this feature since I’ve already rated plenty of movies on Netflix and Facebook. I don’t want rate them all over again.

Once Jinni knew what I liked, it produced an “Entertainment Personality” for me. I am bemused by the visualization of this entertainment personality:

John Oleszkiewicz's entertainment personality

Should I be worried that “Cynical Couple Relationships” is way up there on my interest list? I can click to find out! It turns out Clerks, Office Space, and Desperate Housewives are representative samples of this category. Damn. You got me there Jinni. I like all of those!

You can enter in free-form search text to find movies that match your mood. I found it far more effective, and fun, to use their database of common tags to search for interesting movies. Take a look at these intentionally goofy searches I created (taken straight from their provided search tags) and the result:

Combining unlikely strings of adjectives is good for a laugh, but has Jinni given me some useful recommendations? Unfortunately, not yet. My personalized recommendations so far are all things I have already watched (example: Lord of the Rings) or are on my to-watch list (example: Pan’s Labyrinth). Jinni gets kudos for correctly guessing what I would like. But I haven’t found something surprising in the results yet.

For now, I think I’ll continue using friends, family, and critics lists to find movie marathon candidates.

Ideas for Movie Marathon 2014

After listening to podcasts, reading weblogs, doing research, and otherwise just thinking about movies I haven’t seen yet, here’s my list of movie ideas for my next movie marathon. Do you have any more good suggestions?



Really Interested