With all due respect, I like that Leia could use the force to save herself.
I happen to like Kevin Smith. My love of Star Wars is only second to his. I love watching his enthusiasm.
Solo didn't impress me. It was okay, but it doesn't add anything to the Star Wars story unless we get a sequel, which I would welcome. Solo felt average and like a recycled western. I also thought that the ending was overly convoluted and not consistent with the Solo character. It blows my mind that he can walk up to a bar and order a "brandy", as if an earth drink would exist a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.
I don't buy this notion that there was no overall plan. Sure, Rian Johnson had too much creative control to do his own thing, but I'm certain that Lucasfilm had expectations on what they wanted each movie to accomplish.
I will swear to my dying breath that The Last Jedi is entertaining, because guess what? I found it entertaining. Four times. It was not what I expected, nor exactly what I would have preferred, but that is the problem with the fan reaction; they are going to reject an otherwise entertaining movie because it does not match their preconceived notion of what it should be. They complain that the character of Luke was disrespected, but it is not our story to tell. Lucasfilm chose to give us a story that was different than what we expected, likely in order to take the series in a new direction.
The 1994 hand-drawn animated version of The Lion King is nearly perfect. The animation is beautiful, with most of it having a 3D look. The characters are great and the voice acting by Matthew Broadrick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Whoopi Goldberg, and Cheech Marin all give those characters a very distinctive sound. The music, which effectively pulls at our emotions, is so wonderful that it is like another character in the movie.
The only part of the original film that I did not like as much is the musical number "I just can't wait to become King." This sequence is drawn in a 2D style like a classic Saturday morning cartoon. Although it isn't a particularly bad sequence, its target audience seems to be just for kids.
The 2019 remake has many of the qualities that made the original good, but it also is lacking in many areas. The insistence that everything be photorealistic means that the movie is absolutely gorgeous to look at, but it also means that the characters are far less expressive than their hand-drawn counterparts. For example, the character of Scar had charisma in the original, but in the remake he just comes across as mean. I don't think that the voices are as stylish either, although Seth Rogan does a good job as Pumbaa. Why they didn't use the original cast? Only Jame Earl Jones reprises his role.
The music had a powerful impact on the original. It is strangely more subdued in the remake. The star of the new movie, and by far the best reason to see it, is the computer animation. It is a sight to behold.
Hand-drawn animation is expensive, so the original at 88 minutes feels slightly too short. It is a very compact movie with scenes and dialog taking no more time than they need to in order to convey the story. The remake is 30 minutes longer, with extra and more mature dialog everywhere. Many of the scenes are longer. Some of this is nice, but parts of it also feel unnecessary. The final confrontation with Scar is too long and gives the impression of being more violent.
There are little things done in the original that weren't done in the remake, like Pumba picking up Simba with his horns, or Pumba getting stuck under a tree root while being chased by Nala. I found myself wondering if this was just a technological limitation of the computer animation?
Should you see the 2019 remake of the Lion King? Absolutely. It is a wonderful movie to look at. At times I felt like I was watching a beautiful nature show that just happens to be The Lion King. However, the original is a better overall experience.
The Lion King (1994): A.
The Lion King (2019): B+.
Spider-Man Far from Home starts out like another teen friendly movie, like Alita Battle Angel, so I'm thinking to myself that I'm sick of this crap. I'm thinking that if this continues I'm going to walk out. But about 1/4 of the way in, the action gets intense. The movie feels like it comes to a conclusion half way through, but then we find out that we have been deceived and the real story starts in the middle of the movie. By the the end the film delivers in a really big way. The two post credit scenes shake things up even further. Overall it is a pretty wild ride.
Toy Story 4 is more than sufficiently entertaining, but it doesn't cover much ground that we haven't seen before. What is different is the introduction of the character "Forky", which is a toy made from recycled trash. Forky suddenly comes alive and is not very comfortable with his new existence as a toy. He thinks that he is trash, which technically he is. This raises uncomfortable questions about how life works in the Toy Story universe, such as why are the toys alive at all? Strangely enough, the movie even asks that question, without giving us an answer. Is the film trying to get us to think about something? We could raise this line of thinking to a much higher existential level and wonder why we exist at all?
In the first film, we accepted that the toys are alive as part of the magic. The Toy Story movie was a new technology that felt magical. Toy Story 4 is darker, similar to the third film, so somehow the magic isn't quite the same anymore.
Part of the problem is that the story is just not as strong. The first film gave us great character development that came out of a conflict that really seemed to matter and was resolved in a very satisfying way. Here, not so much. The movie is mostly an action film with a touch of character development on the side. Fortunately, the movie also knows how to touch our hearts, but again, this not that different from what we have seen before.
It feels like the movies have run their course because they have already done everything that they can do. Despite this, the ending leaves open some questions about what is going to happen to these characters that may require yet another movie to resolve.
Rocketman is probably the best movie that I will see this year. It starts with Elton John checking himself into rehab around 1990, whereupon the film shortly breaks into song. This is surprising, but it seems appropriate, if not downright brilliant, that a biopic about a musician should be a musical. The movie has a habit of breaking into elaborate musical numbers when you least expect it, like when Elton John tries to kill himself. However, for a musician as flashy as Elton John, this is the perfect way to tell the story. I just kept thinking about how brilliant this all was.
In rehab, Elton John tells everyone just how very screwed up he is, and then he recounts the story of his life telling how he got that way. This is where the movie shines, showing his boyhood living in public housing and his troubled relationship with an uncaring father and somewhat distant mother. The young Reginald Dwight (his real name) quickly learns that he has a talent for the piano and is showing great musical prowess by his teens. In the 1960's he struggled to make a living as a musician, but things begin to improve when he meets and teams up with Bernie Taupin, who was his lifelong collaborator and wrote most of the lyrics to Elton John's songs. However, in 1970 he makes an appearance at the famous West Hollywood nightclub, the Troubadour, which he was almost too nervous to do. There Elton becomes a huge hit and his career immediately takes off.
All this success doesn't make Elton John any less screwed up. His drug and alcohol problems get worse until finally, his close friends are urging him to get help.
The movie doesn't shy away from Elton John's homosexuality, depicting his relationship with his lover and manager John Reid.
My one complaint is that the end of the movie shows Elton John doing a music video post-rehab. The movie plays loose with the facts, because the music video, "I'm still standing", is actually from 1983. The only problem here is that the music video looks fuzzy like we are watching it on a television set. This takes us out of the moment.
The film fails to tell us very much about Elton John post-rehab. It is like the rest of his life is encapsulated into a minute of text and pictures at the end of the movie. This misses out on possible dramatic moments showing how much better his life was after recovery.
Prior to the fuzzy music video, I was going to give the movie an "A+", because it is that brilliant. In addition, the film could have given us more, if not a great deal more, about Elton John's life. It is not like his life ended when he got out of rehab.
I don't like the Carie-Poppins comparisons. People complained so much that I watched the scene in Marry Poppins and they look nothing alike. I like that Leia can use the Force to save herself, showing that she has Force powers. What bothered me is the apparent lack of airlock or force field, which I'm sure was there, but the movie doesn't make that obvious.
Follow me on this: The Last Jedi has a number of scenes that take us out of the moment because those scenes were different, or overdid the humor. There are consistency problems, where the movie tries to redefine Star Wars for a new generation. There are also a handful of plot holes and a couple of scenes of bad dialog. However, between these moments, which are all brief, is a very entertaining story that I like very much. I have seen the movie four times and I really enjoy it. I also don't mind the humor, because I was laughing out loud the first time I saw the movie. On repeat viewings, the humor lacks most of the surprise effect, but these scenes go by quickly.
I know that people didn't like the way Luke was handled, but I have a completely different take on this. I don't think that you can disrespect a fictional character. What you can do is give the audience something different than what they wanted or expected. It is not the story I would have preferred, but if they gave me exactly what I was expecting then it would risk being boring. The story of Luke as given is entertaining. I feel that this is not our story to tell; we aren't the writers. We don't get to decide what the story of Luke should be.
It is not my favorite Star Wars movie. It is close to the bottom. I actually like Solo less. Solo is not a bad movie, but there is a shortage of likable characters and the movie feels very ordinary, like a recycled western. The ending is overly convoluted and the Han Solo character is too altruistic.
The trailer for Pokemon Detective Pikachu makes the movie look like a funny videogame adaptation fantasy. However, the film doesn't come close to living up to the trailer. If you have seen the trailer then you have seen the best parts. The actual film is a mess. A big mess.
Nothing is developed properly. There are many cliches recycled from other movies that we are just supposed to accept because the language of film tells us what they are. The barely coherent story feels like it was written for 12-year-olds by a 12-year-old. The slightly less coherent action sequences feel designed for 10-year-old Japanese boys. The simplicity of the dialog bugged the hell out of me.
At times I felt like I was being subjected to something instead of being entertained. For a brief moment, it reminded me of watching Howard The Duck in 1986, which is really saying something.
This is extremely lazy filmmaking. Even though the movie is an hour and 40 minutes long, it is too short because the film doesn't come close to realizing its full potential. There is so much more that should have been explained and explored.
Despite all these problems, the story and character development are almost good enough to make the movie worth watching. The premise is interesting. Some of the special effects are fantastic, even though the story behind them is barely passable.
Suppose you wanted to catch up on the Marvel movies but didn't necessarily want to watch all 22 of them so as to see the great Avengers Infinity War and its pretty good sequel Avengers Endgame? Not all the movies were of equal quality so you could skip a few.
The bare minimum that I think you could watch are:
1. Iron Man.
3. Captain America.
4. Avengers. (The 2nd one was better, but it is optional.)
5. Guardians of the Galaxy. (The 2nd one was also better, but optional.)
6. Dr. Strange.
7. Black Panther.
And then finally...
8. Avengers Infinity War
9. Captain Marvel.
10. Avengers Endgame.
I didn't like either Ant-Man movie, nor did I think much of the Spiderman movie.
Thursday night I left chess club early to go see Avengers Endgame. This was a strange experience because there was no parking available in the huge theater parking lot. Every spot was taken and multiple cars were driving up and down the lanes looking for a place to park.
This was a problem because I had allowed myself barely enough time to catch the beginning of the movie after the previews had rolled.
I parked a block away in the middle of the Walmart parking lot, and I could see a bunch of other people doing the same. I then had to hurry in the rain to get to the theater. As I entered the theater I pulled out my ticket that I had already purchased, but nobody inside was checking tickets. It was fairly crowded and the movie was playing on five screens. I found my theater just as they were playing the spot that says, "And now enjoy the show!"
The only comparable experience was on December 17nth, 2015, when the first Star Wars movie in 10.5 years, The Force Awakens, premiered on a Thursday night. I had also left the chess club early, and I literally got the last parking spot after much searching.
I was worried that I might get a ticket or something, but there were no consequences for parking at Walmart. I was also worried about walking back in the dark at 11:10 at night, but I wasn't the only one.
Avengers Endgame is 3 hours well spent. It is the worthy sequel Avengers Infinity War. Both movies are the conclusion to 11 years of Marvel movies leading up to this one event. Infinity War was one of the best movies I have ever seen. Endgame is not quite as good, but it is close enough.