Monday, February 20, 2017

Remember When I Blogged About More Than Science Fiction Movies?

Saw Jackie  this weekend and I have enough thoughts that I required a blog post. I really don't know how much of this story is true or just the screenwriter's imagination. The fact Billy Crudup's character who comes to interview her (which is the framework for the movie) is only known "The Journalist" only confuses the issue...

Jackie's efforts to preserve Kennedy's legacy reminded me of Yoko Ono post-assassination of John Lennon. (I'm not sure what the political equivalent of The Beatles would be but I'm fairly confident she didn't break them up...) In the movie, Jackie and Bobby are in the ambulance transporting JFK's body and Jackie asks the nurse and the driver who James Garfield, William McKinley and Abraham Lincoln were. They didn't recognize the first two names which seemingly gave Jackie the idea of copying the Lincoln funeral procession. She even picked the exact spot she felt her husband should be buried at Arlington.

I also had thoughts of the interview Caroline Kennedy had on Today a few weeks or so back with Matt Laur, who isn't the journalist he thinks he is, basically got pantsed. At the time I though it was all "Kennedy Mystique" but then cousin, and seasoned journalist, Maria Shriver is thrown off  by the word "penis" and I see this movie and I realize  it's not just her father's genes... (I love the scene in the movie, by the way, where Caroline asks her mother when her father is coming home and Jackie tells her he went to heaven to be with baby Patrick so he wouldn't be alone...) 

This thought may be a little out there but: I also wonder if Melania Trump will turn out to be the next "Jackie." The Crown, in it's second season, I think, will put forth the notion Kennedy was jealous of Jackie's global popularity. The potential for a repeat of this is obvious. Conservatives hate  Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama because they were not content to hold teas and promote literacy. (To me first ladies and literacy is analogous to beauty pageant contestants and world peace.) They actually went out and attempted to influence policy. The fact Melania wasn't born in the US and therefore can't run isn't lost on me... Of course it's still early. Melania may be the next Nancy Reagan... 

Growing up, my parents had the soundtrack to the 1968 movie version of the musical Camelot so I was happy that this song was included in the movie...

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Going Rogue! (Yeah, I Went There...)

When I heard what LucasFilms' first "anthology" film (a word I still prefer to "story") would be, I had my doubts for the following reasons:  Unlike more diehard Star Wars fans, I really couldn't get into the "Rogue Squadron" series of novels as largely the characters we all knew and loved had nothing to do with them.  Subconsciously, in the early days of rumors, I'm sure I thought that's what the movie was about on some level but the new characters bit is still applicable.  Then I heard it wouldn't have Jedi (Donnie Yen's character, Chirrut Îmwe, being a Guardian of The Wills instead is pretty much semantics by the way but lets overlook that for now...) I wondered how it would be different than a Han Solo movie since he's the stereotypical "average guy" established so far in the universe.

Rogue One allayed my concerns pretty quickly, however.  Felicity Jones' Jyn Erso was not a smuggler and I did not find myself thinking "She's a female Han Solo" nor was she "Mara Jade without a lightsaber."  The family dynamic, both with her father and Saw Gerrara, certainly helped the differentiation.

K-2SO was an awesome combination of C-3PO and R2-D2.  I fully believe that if R2 was translated, most of Alan Tudyk's improvised dialogue would be what he said... (Incidentally, the Rebel Alliance possessed a lot of stolen black armor in this movie. Them pulling off that massive a raid on a Intelligence facility seems unlikely so I'm guessing it was just collected over time via various skirmishes? Also, I don't recall seeing the tan "Desert Trooper" armor before; is that new?)

Whether Chirrut Imwe was a Jedi or not is debatable but did anyone else wish he called someone "Grasshopper" at least once?

Diego Luna's Cassian Andor was the most unique character to me. The best comparison I can think of is a slightly more conflicted Poe Dameron but the fact I can't think of a "classic" character is intriguing to me...

Those who know me, know I love a good heist movie so it's not surprising the plot was right up my alley...

Random Questions/Comments

1. I know Vader's "volcano castle" was based off a design by Ralph MacQuarrie but was that supposed to be Mustafar?   Never mind...

2. In the same way Guy Henry played Tarkin simply becaue he had played a young Peter Cushing before, I'm surprised Billie Lourde didnt play her mother in that final scene. Slap a brunette wig on her and, with the hood, they probably could have used less CGI touch up...                

Friday, November 11, 2016

Strange Times

No, this isn't about the election. I'm not ready to unlease that upon the world just yet.  Instead, allow me to share my thoughts on another fantastic entry into Marvel's cinematic universe.  Doctor Strange was the perfect blend of the tone we are used to and the adding of the supernatural world.

Friends on Facebook may have noticed my comment that the first part of  The Imitation Game  was unexpectedly hilarious due in large part to Benedict Cumberbatch's turn as Alan Turing so it comes as no surprise he's awesome as arrogant neurosurgeon (a redundant phrase in my personal experience.)

Doctor Strange, like Ghost Rider, is really not a character that lends itself to having a love interest but since it's an origin story, it worked here with  fellow surgeon Dr. Christine Palmer. Certainly better than in that movie... I've loved Rachel McAdams since The Family Stone  but I'm sure the character'll just go the route of Thor's Jane Foster and just be a distraction...

I'm curious about how the character of Baron Mordo will progress. The movie seemed to treat the comic villain, but ally here, similarly to Sinestro in the much maligned  Green Lantern  movie. Director Scott Derrickson seemed to suggest he wants Nightmare as the sequel villain so Mordo's fall from grace may be more prolonged? On the other hand,  Avengers: Infinity War will happen before that and it could very well be Thanos that pushes him fully over the edge...

As a comic reader, I knew Strange lives in the Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village but in thi movie there was one in London and Hong Kong as well. The spacing out of these seem but weird and kind of random. I would go with New York, Rome and somewhere in the Middle East like Jerusalem or even Baghdad...

Oh, and was I the only one that noticed that The Cloak of Levitation basically had the personality of Carpet from Alladdin?     

 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bulletproof Post...In Bullet Form

Because both Netflix and Twitter are down, some thoughts on the Netflix series Luke Cage

1. I would say it was only about 90% as dark and broody as Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Whether it's a coincidence hardcore DC fans on Twitter didn't gush about it as they did the previous two series is hard to say. Also, were there more scenes set during the day or was that just me?

2. Also hard to say is just who the Big Bad of the show was. There are really 3 possibilities: Cottonmouth Stokes who you could easily argue was just forced into the family business; Willis "Diamondback" Striker, the disgruntled half-brother of Luke Cage; or the villain left standing, Councilwoman Mariah Dillard?  The obvious choice is the last one but remember, Darth Vader is much more recognizable than Emperor Palpatine... Anyway, the fact it isn't in your face also adds to the ways the show was able to differentiate itself just as much as the change in setting and definitely the music...

3. Luke Cage arguably left the biggest cliffhanger(s) yet.  Our hero is going to jail in Georgia. (I'm guessing "The Daredevil Goes Down To Georgia" early on in The Defenders? What will happen to Pop's Shop? The writers practically hit you over the head with Detective Misty Knight hurting her arm. Will she return with the cyborg arm from the comics or are the writers simply assholes? Interestingly, we finally may not have to wonder how Claire Temple will fit into the next series, which in this case is Iron Fist,  if she really does go to Colleen Wing's self-defense classes...      

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Suicide (Squad) Is Painless But...

DC's shared universe has gotten off to a rough start. Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman  presented movies that were mixed bags for even comic nerds such as myself. True, I haven't serious fed my comic addiction in about a dozen years but I still watch the movies, TV shows and animated offerings but that really should be beside the point. Studios do not shell out money for movies only a select group will watch any more than TV networks do... With each successive film, they've improved but they have a long way to go.

Their third movie, Suicide Squad, continues the upward trend but still isn't a film that'll win over discerning viewers.  You'll hear stories on how studio interference meddled in the scriptwriting and how writer/director David Ayer had only six weeks to throw together a script. I'm sure it's true to at least some level.  Sony notoriously interfered with Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-man 2. The need to rush the "world-building" process, can certainly be pinned on Warner Brothers as with Sony and Spider-Man but DC Comics for the most part have always been at least a bit darker in tone than Marvel so I really can't say I'm surprised they brought that to their movies.  Batman and Robin  and  Green Lantern  were super light in tone and it blew up in their face. As with many things in life, it's all about balance. Their search for it continues.

The biggest issue I have with Suicide Squad was their marketing strategy which can definitely be blamed on Warner Brothers.  In articles and promotional footage, misconceptions were fostered about the movie. As the most well-known villain, the Joker's inclusion was played up leading some people, including portrayer Jared Leto himself, to think he had a much bigger role than he actually did. Personally, given Joker and Lex Luthor are the most well-known, and well-used, DC villains, I felt he was in it too much. Using him to develop Harley Quinn's backstory was good and I have to say him busting her out of prison in the final scene was awesome but the whole side plot of him plotting to rescue her just took away from developing the main cast. Slipknot died like 10 minutes after being introduced.

Another marketing issue: it was announced well in advance that Scott Eastwood, Common, and Ike Barinholtz would be in the movie leading people such as myself to speculate for months who they could be playing. Turns out they were nobodies.

The villain: I'm not sure if the villain was team member Enchantress or her, I'm pretty sure, never named brother but this was was also kept under wraps in the marketing and was underwhelming upon reveal.  Now, given the supernatural nature of the threat, the movie could have made an explicit link to the oft-rumored upcoming  Justice League Dark movie, instead of the lame mid-credit scene they did have for instance, but didn't. It was suggested on Twitter the villains should have just been a terrorist organization. I think that would have solved the villain problem anyway... They could have even used one from the comics like HIVE or Kobra...                    

To my wider audience, I guess I can't really recommend this movie but if you like comicbook movies and/or Will Smith, Margot Robbie, or Viola Davis, then yes, I believe you would like it well enough...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Science Fiction and Fantasy: The Future and the Future?

Regular readers of this blog know my love of Terry Brooks and his Shannara books. Some readers may have caught my rant on the Rizzoli and Isles TV series being irritatingly different than the books. Why change Maura's serial killer mom to a gangster dad? Why change Warren Hoyt's name to Charles? (I do appreciate now the series is definitely it's own thing now in it's final season.)

I had caught most episodes of the new Shannara Chronicles series when it originally aired and was pretty intrigued. Yes, most of the characters were not how I visualized them when I read Elfstones of Shannara back in high school (Reading the World of Shannara reference tome, I discovered my mind's eye was always wrong on that score anyway...) but the characterizations were spot on which is definitely more important. Yes, people who haven't read any of the books published recently may complain about the "cameos" made by remnants of our 21st century world but since it was made canon later and definitely helps set the show apart from Legend of the Seeker and Game of Thrones. Gnomes and Trolls for instance are not how I pictured 20 years ago but now, knowing they're descended from mutated humans, their look makes a lot of sense.

I have two questions. As was my question with Star Trek V and missing Romulans, wasn't there at least one dwarf in Elfstones? Of course, the next book  Wishsong of Shannara  takes place in Dwarf territory so maybe not... My next question is where s the show going next? The end of season 1 seems to imply the missing years between book two and three. Creatively, that might be a better way to go...

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Regular readers of the blog also know my love of Star Trek. Overall, I've enjoyed the rebooted movie universe  devised by JJ Abrams but the thing that I missed was memorable quotes. The best ones from the first two were ripped from previous movies.  (Maybe the scripts were written by Melania Trump's speechwriter?) Star Trek Beyond gave McCoy and Spock in particular some great ones: "I fail to see how excrement of any kind would help the situation."

Abrams and co have from the beginning been awesome at giving Scotty, Sulu and Uhura more prominence but it took Simon Pegg himself co-writing to give "Montgomery Scotty" something more than comic relief and Chekov had probably his most memorable movie to date. (Sadly, following Anton Yelchin's death, the role will not, and probably shouldn't be, recast...)

As many have noted,  Beyond  had the most original story of the three. The last one, In To Darkness,  was a retelling of  Wrath of Khan which I said in my review was needed to establish the differences between the two universes.  The background of this movie ties back to the Xindi War during the third season of  Star Trek: Enterprise which took place prior to the Kelvin destruction and the timeline break meaning a version of this could take place in the original timeline meaning the opposite of the last movie. (The upcoming TV series takes place in the old universe so there could be at least name drops?)           

Friday, June 03, 2016

An X-Cellent Post

 X-Men: Apocalypse is the third of the "prequel movies" and today is my second favorite after First Class.  Don't get me wrong: the last one,  Days of Future Past, was far from terrible but you could easily argue it was an excuse to feature Hugh Jackman. The other two do just fine with cameos (which are both awesome and unnecessary but I digress...)

The two biggest complaints I've had about the franchise are the lack of even internal continuity and lack of effort. This movie clearly had the attitude they know continuity is messed up and they don't give a shit. Havok and Cyclops are brothers but inexplicably 20 years apart in age but certainly don't look it. In '83, Prof. Xavier sees CIA Moira McTaggart for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis and comments, "You haven't aged a day!" Not even James Bond is a field agent in his late '50's but whatever... (Speaking of Moira,  Rose Byrne is Tasmanian while the character is Scottish. Why cast an actress who probably could do a Scottish accent if she's just going to be American anyway?)

They finally put effort into the costumes though and it was awesome to see! One comment though: I much preferred Storm's Horseman costume to the costume she was wearing in the Danger Room at the end of the film. Xavier, or maybe McCoy, should take design tips from Apocalypse...

The casting of the younger Cyclops, Jean Grey and Storm in particular were definitely upgrades; the new Nightcrawler was also great but the difference between him and Alan Cummings' version wasn't as dramatic. Psylocke and Angel were underused as was Jubilee but no one my age or older likes that character anyway... In the comics, Cyclops is the older brother while Havok is the younger and it's reflected in their personalities. Here, the reverse is true in both age and personality which was a nice touch. I suppose I should comment on Quicksilver: People claim Evan Peters is their favorite Quicksilver because he has one huge stunt piece per film and has the personality of the second Flash, Wally West.  I still prefer Aaron Taylor-Johnson's version who was actually playing Quicksilver, asshole personality and all but that's my deal...

Oscar Isaac was very good as the title villain. To me, the story combined elements of the comic fight with him and also elements with the villain Shadow King, another powerful Arab mutant who will probably never be used on his own, as referenced in Storm's introduction and Xavier's climactic astral plane battle which was a great touch.

In short, unlike other movies, you definitely do not have to watch the previous movies to understand this one. In fact, it's probably better you don't...      
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