Tag Archives: the lumberjack

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – ☆☆☆☆ out of 5 stars

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint look a bit surprised in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. (Photo courtesy of cbc.ca)

As Printed in The Lumberjack on Nov. 24, 2010

by Gary Sundt

Let’s just be honest here: You’ve already made up your mind when it comes to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. This is not a matter of the quality of the stories or the mystery of the series. Your opinion of any one installment comes down to your predisposition to the Potter universe, and you either like the franchise or you don’t.

I am a Harry Potter fan, and I have been since I read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when I was 11. I’ve read all the books, and I’ve seen all the films. I waited in the line outside of Harkins Flagstaff 11 for 12 rather cold, rather miserable hours to see the latest entry. Accordingly, I like me some HP, and I liked me some Deathly Hallows Part 1. Continue reading

Interview with Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie, noted author and writer, speaks with The Lumberjack on Tuesday prior to his lecture in Ardrey Auditorium. Alexie has written a number of Native American books and is famous for his screenplay Smoke Signals, which is an award-winning feature film. - Jacob Petersen/ The Lumberjack (Photo courtesy of jackcentral.com)

As Printed in The Lumberjack on March 5, 2009

by Gary Sundt

Sherman Alexie walks into the Drury Inn Hotel & Suites with a stride that does not reflect his status as perhaps the most influential Native American writer working today. Dressed in a black suit with a blue collared shirt, the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene poet, novelist and filmmaker drove himself up from Phoenix to Flagstaff for the Feb. 26 appearance at Ardrey Auditorium entitled “Without Reservations: An Urban Indian’s Comic, Poetic and Highly Irreverent Look at the World.”

Seeming slightly worn from his trip as he sits down for the interview, Alexie admires the laptop on which our discussion will be recorded. Continue reading

A Review of the Film Industry

As Printed in The Lumberjack on Oct. 14, 2010

by Gary Sundt

I didn’t review any of the releases at Harkins Flagstaff 11 this week. I didn’t want to see Katherine Heigl play the same character again. I didn’t really feel like seeing Seabiscuit 2: Electric Boogaloo. And I didn’t want to see Wes Craven continue to slash his legacy into the grave.

The poster for Life As We Know It, a movie I didn't see. (Photo courtesy of hollywoodtrailers.net)

Now, before you go thinking I was being lazy, and deem this a cop-out article, I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. Moviegoers seem to agree, as the top film at the box office was The Social Network (my vote thus far for best film of the year) for the second week in a row, but it only made $15 million. That’s not really a difficult number to beat at the weekly box office.

The fact is that all of the major movies released this past weekend were entirely uninteresting, and not especially worth my money or my time. Continue reading


A costume-clad Aaron Johnson stands over a guy and holds his baton-weapons in Kick-Ass

As Printed in The Lumberjack on April 22, 2010

by Gary Sundt

I loved Kick-Ass. I loved every blood-soaked, foul-mouthed, costume-clad minute of it. Here is a movie that is precisely what the filmmakers designed it to be – an outstanding satire on a genre that has become a respected cinematic medium. It’s also a great movie, but that’s beside the point. Continue reading

Shutter Island

Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo look at a lighthouse in Shutter Island

As Printed in The Lumberjack on Feb. 25, 2010

by Gary Sundt

Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island is like seeing any other psychological thriller ever made. It has elements of the haunted house story, the troubled detective story, and even comes complete with its very own twist ending that you’ve already seen in several other films. But even you’re having seen it all before should not deter you from seeing Shutter Island. In fact, the familiarity of the storyline, combined with the expertise of direction, is the very reason you should see this movie.
Continue reading


Well… I mean… This is a really stupid movie.

As Printed in The Lumberjack on Nov. 19, 2009

by Gary Sundt

Director Roland Emmerich’s latest end-of-days blockbuster, 2012, is the very definition of huge. The film has a colossal $260 million budget, which was spent on special effects pieces that are dumbfounding in their enormity. The cast is huge, not only in size, but in caliber of actor (John Cusack is no slouch). The film’s length is no less than two hours and 38 minutes, which follows the recent trend of filmmakers who specialize in the stupid bringing us said idiocy at longer lengths than ever before (see Michael Bay’s Transformers 2 for an example of this).

The only thing not large about 2012 is the movie’s apparent numerical IQ, which is somewhere in the vicinity of borderline retardation. But for a movie based on something as silly as the 2012 conspiracy, it sure could have been worse. Emmerich is the man behind the good Independence Day, the bad Godzilla, the stupid The Day After Tomorrow, and the really, really stupid 10,000 BC. When it comes to destroying the world, this is the guy audiences flock to for the goods.

2012 is the disaster movie to end all disaster movies. The film features a good preliminary 30 minutes of what movies and comic books refer to as “junk science,” which is the medium’s attempt to convince the viewer/reader that any of this is possible using fake technical explanations. But soon the time for talk is over, and the CGI kicks into the highest gear I’ve seen since, well, forever.

The plot is quite simply that the popular conspiracy (in which the world is most certainly coming to an end in December of the year 2012) ends up panning out, and God works his ways to kill humanity really good. The movie follows a few individuals that fight to survive the rather realistic earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, clouds of volcanic ash, tsunamis, tidal waves, and the like, and among those people are struggling author Jackson Curtis (Cusack) and his estranged family.

We know the film’s clichés all too well, and the script by Emmerich and Harald Kloser ticks through them like a checklist. We have the beleaguered scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who saw all this coming and tried to warn everybody; the President of the United States (Danny Glover), who ponders dramatically over the situation because he is, after all, the only world leader who can do anything about this; the conspiracy nut who turned out to be right (Woody Harrelson); the divorced husband and wife (Cusack and Amanda Peet) who have to struggle to protect their children in all this disaster; the government tool who can’t help himself but to be a complete asshole (Oliver Platt).

If you know these actors well enough, you can admire what Emmerich has tried to do here. In the same vein as his better disaster pictures, he has enlisted several talented individuals in the roles of his cookie-cutter characters, which helps pass the long running time when most of the dialogue is something to the effect of “Oh God!” or “Look Out!”

The tagline for 2012 reads, “We were warned.” Allow me to warn you, the potential viewer. Know that 2012 is as big and as stupid as they come. Know that it is overly long and will grate on your nerves after a while. Know that it is tailor made to hit every emotional button while it inundates you with CGI and clichéd moments of human triumph.

But damn if it isn’t kind of fun to watch.

Paranormal Activity

Spooky stuff happens in Paranormal Activity.

As Printed in The Lumberjack on October 29, 2009

by Gary Sundt

Paranormal Activity is rated R, though there isn’t entirely any real reason why. Yes, there is a certain expletive uttered once — perhaps twice — during the film’s entire running time. But other than that, there is no excessive blood or gore, no nudity of any kind, no reason for the movie to have an R rating. Nothing, of course, except that the movie is scarier than hell.

Yeah, that could be why Paranormal Activity gets an R rating.

In the same vein as The Blair Witch Project, the film has no opening or closing credits, instead simply offering the viewer a small note at the start thanking the families of those on screen. The footage begins to roll home movie-style, and we learn that the main characters, Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherston), are a young couple who have recently been experiencing strange paranormal activity while they sleep. Micah is the one who decides to videotape all the events and is the cameraman most of the time. Whether this footage is for proof, monetary gains or sheer posterity is never fully explained, but it’s a reason for us to see what is happening to these rather unfortunate people.

Most of the “action” occurs while the couple is in bed and asleep. The camera sits on a tripod for long stretches of time while the audience observes what happens at night. These events are hinted at in the film’s advertisements, and I certainly won’t be spoiling them here. In most reviews, it is appropraite to go into some detail as to what a viewer has in store for themselves, but doing so in this case would rob potential viewers of an opportunity to actually be surprised and engrossed by the brilliance of the moviemaking at work here. The implication is that I’m not merely recommending Paranormal Activity; I’m insisting you go see it if you are interested in actually being scared. If you simply want to know what happens, go to Wikipedia and be that guy (you know who you are).

Paranormal Activity is written and directed by Oren Peli and was made on a budget of $15,000. The development of the characters and the simplicity of their plight is what makes the movie scary. This is the type of flick that is designed to look like a home-movie, carrying with it a certain degree of realism because the special effects simply don’t look like special effects — this stuff looks real.

Last year’s Cloverfield and Quarantine were two other examples of the home-horror movie phenomenon. They are good, but not great; they can be spooky, but never downright terrifying. Those who think they are haven’t seen movies like this. There is a certain perfection in the simplicity of movies like Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project, in which atmosphere, performances and sound effects are used to their utmost effect to shake audiences to their very core.

There are people who will disagree with me, saying Paranormal Activity isn’t scary in the least. Maybe what scares people is entirely arbitrary, or maybe these folks need blood and gore to feel real fear. In that case, go see Saw XXVII.

All I can say is I was freaked, and my girlfriend balled her eyes out. Ours was a midnight showing, and we didn’t get to bed until around 3:30 a.m. because she was completely wigged. If that isn’t an endorsement for a horror film, I don’t quite know what is.

Written and directed by Oren Peli. Starring Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat and Mark Fredrichs. Running time: 86 minutes. Rated R.