Saturday, January 5, 2019

Journey's End

For those who have not seen it, Journey's End (2017) is a very effective war movie. I would compare it to Dunkirk, although the pace is a little less exciting. It is more of a personal drama about war.
The movie is based on a 1928 play about World War 1. Almost the entire movie takes places in the trenches, just prior to the German "Spring Offensive" in 1918.
There have also been three other movies based upon this play, first in 1930, and a German version in 1931, and the 1978 "Aces High" where the story was changed to be about fighter pilots.

Rating:  A-


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Ralph Breaks the Internet, the worthy sequel to the 2012 Wreck-It Ralph, is like one of those giant Cinnabons that they used to sell in malls.  It is big, sweet, slick as all get out, and it feels like it is only made from three ingredients.  In the case of the movie, the three ingredients are friendship, technology, and the dangers of technology.  The film intelligently hits themes that are current as ever regarding the internet and the dangers that lie within, while deliberately not being too deep nor scary because of the movie's target audience.   Although at times I felt like it could have been a little smarter, Ralph Breaks the Internet achieves a balance that both children and adults can enjoy.

Whereas the first movie relies heavily on nostalgia for the golden age of 1980's arcade video games, the sequel gets all modern for the age of the internet and 3D gaming.  If another sequel gets made six years from now, maybe it will be about virtual reality, which is where gaming is now headed.

Both Wreck-It Ralph and Ralph Breaks the Internet live in a universe where arcade video game characters have lives of their own, and the characters from different games can interact with each other through the power circuitry that connects all the games.  This notion of electrical power as a computer network is a bit odd, but it works because this is just a movie.  If you have seen the trailer, then you know that a crisis develops when Vanellope von Schweetz's game, Sugar Rush, gets its steering wheel broken and the owner of the video game arcade plans to sell the machine off for parts.  Ralph develops a plan for the two video game characters to journey to the Internet to find a replacement part and save the arcade game.  What could possibly go wrong?  Just about everything, including a venture into the "dark web" that has some serious consequences.  There are lessons to be learned here, which will likely go over the heads of the younger audience members.

The computer animation is top notch.  The story is better than I expected, and the jokes are just good enough to make you laugh a few times.

Rating:  A-.

P.S.  Compare this scene:



To this one:


I had a sense of déjà vu, and this could be a deliberate homage to the previous film.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

In response to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNph0g1o5hs I wrote:

I feel that the extreme backlash over The Last Jedi is an emotional overreaction to certain elements in the story that went against people's expectations. If the movie were taken out of the Star Wars context, then as a standalone film it is actually pretty good. It has a few minor problems that I attribute to poor direction, but I just watched it for the 4th time and I still really enjoy it. 

The reason that I enjoy The Last Jedi as a Star Wars film is that I am willing to let the story take me where it wanted to go as opposed to expecting it to go where I wanted.

Best wishes, 

John Coffey  

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Check this out

I hope this link works.  This is hotel in Tunisia is where they filmed Star Wars for Lars homestead.   Click on the picture on the left to get more pictures.


I don't know if it was a hotel before Star Wars, or if somebody just thought that this would be a great place to put a hotel.  It appears to me as if these underground structures may have already existed before the movie.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matmata,_Tunisia


I've seen deserts in Nevada that looked more hospitable.  

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Snowpiercer a sequel to Willy Wonka???

I found the first 3.5 minutes of this video pretty interesting.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Shrek II (In response to youtube video.)


1.  Aliens is definitely better than Alien, although both are great.  Toy Story 2 is the same way.

2.  Blade Runner 2049 is a nihilistic borefest that I only barely count as a movie that I enjoyed because there is just barely enough interesting stuff in the movie to make me think that it was almost worth a price of a ticket.  However, I wish that I had waited to rent it.  I never want to see it again, which makes it extremely weak compared to the great original which I try to see at least once every decade.

3.  As much as I wanted to enjoy Shrek II, I was pretty bored.  So was everyone I know.  All the pop culture songs come off as stupid.

I would be willing to watch it a second time.  It has been 14 years, so maybe I should see it again.   However, I definitely didn't like it the first time around.  I don't care what positive message you think that the movie has, there is too much in the film that I consider cringeworthy.  And the positive messages are kind of juvenile.

4.  One of my favorite Dreamworks films, and there aren't that many, is "Home".  It never comes off as cringeworthy, except for the mercifully short musical number at the end.  It is not a terribly deep film, but it does have some layers to it, and the characters are likable.  It isn't hilariously funny, but I find myself smiling at the jokes and caring about the plight of the characters.  And unlike Shrek II and Blade Runner 2049, I have seen it four times.   Loved that movie.   Home is vastly underrated.   I feel almost as positive about "Monsters vs. Aliens."

Monday, September 10, 2018

Compelling Hero or Mundane Mary Sue? How do women really feel about Rey?

In response to ...



I wrote:


Speaking as someone who likes The Last Jedi because I think that the good scenes outweigh the bad by a comfortable margin, I still think that there are a number of problems with the movie. I don't see Rey as a Mary Sue, but as an unexplained mystery, where the fact that they haven't explained anything about her is frustratingly annoying. Because of this, it feels like there are giant holes in these two movies. The optimist in me keeps hoping that the third film will fill in the gaps in such a way that it will all make sense. In fact, I think that this is what will happen, or needs to happen for the franchise to save itself. There have been all sorts of hints that Rey may be more than she appears. Maz asks Han, "Who's the girl?", as if this is the pivotal question of the entire trilogy, and I think that it really is the pivotal question that needs to be answered. Adam Driver in an interview said, "You have, also, the hidden identity of this princess who's hiding who she really is so she can survive." What would satisfy me is to find out that Rey is Luke's daughter, who he thought was killed in Kylo's uprising, hence his strong emotional reaction at the devastation. He couldn't sense that she was alive because he had cut himself off from the force. Just like The Empire Strikes Back, I think that they went to Mark Hamill and said, "Only two people know this, and now we are going to tell you, so if it leaks we will know it was you." And what secret would they tell him? Something about who Luke is related to.  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Netflix Streaming

I found this interesting website that gives recommendations on what to watch on Netflix streaming, including ratings on some shows.


I like the penultimate section that recommends some shows that will soon disappear from Netflix, called "Last Chance to Stream."


Friday, August 31, 2018

BlacKkKlansman


Racism is an ugly topic, so it should not surprise me that BlacKkKlansman is in some ways a movie about ugly people.  Based upon the advance publicity, I expected it to be a little more whimsical, similar to the wonderful Logan Lucky, but instead the film's tone is somewhere between American Made and Edge of Darkness, but with less humor.  Although the movie is described as a "comedy drama", I fail to see how it is in any way funny.  Perhaps the film is being misrepresented to promote ticket sales.

The movie is based upon the true story about how black police officer Ron Stallworth 40 years ago pretended to be a white racist on the phone while talking to KKK members so as to gain information about their activities.  When he was required to make a personal appearance at KKK meetings, he sent a white undercover narcotics officer to represent him.  

In the real story no arrests were made and the investigation was shut down after nine months.  The movie adds a bunch of fictional elements to make it more interesting, including a love interest, a terrorist bombing plot, and the notion that the white undercover officer was Jewish.

Although all the actors are good, I especially like Topher Grace as David Duke.  He has come a long way from That 70's Show.

As a fictionalized version of real events, the movie is plenty entertaining.  However, it gets into murky territory when it implies that Donald Trump is the equivalent of  David Duke, and the ending uses the protests and riots at Charlottesville to attack Trump and imply that racism is alive and well.  At one point Klansman are shouting "America First", adding another connection with Trump.  To those who are the anti-Trump faithful this may seem all well and good, but it disrupts the narrative of the movie to make a blatantly obvious political statement, and one that at least some of us disagree with.

In fact, the movie tries to draw parallels wherever it can to the events of 40 or 50 years ago and the present day.  It frequently talks about police officers shooting and abusing black men.  However, racism is not near as extensive as it was 40 to 50 years ago.  The membership of white supremacist groups is down to a few thousand.  The actual facts about modern police shootings do not show a pattern of racial discrimination.  We live in one of the most racially harmonious periods of our history, where we elected a black president, but the movie feels like it wants to agitate people about racial politics.

Regardless, the film tells a good, although mostly fictional story, and is thought provoking.

Rating:  B+.