Saturday, December 28, 2019
Friday, December 27, 2019
Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Friday, December 20, 2019
Thursday, December 19, 2019
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
I'm expecting good things from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. However, I also see a bunch of ways this could go wrong. It could be too campy, or it could be too serious, or it could just be ridiculous in the way it is implemented. Or it could just be a bad movie.
Part of the problem with Star Wars is that it is limited by its original source material. The sequel trilogy tried to take the franchise in new directions by introducing new ideas and killing off old characters, but this made people unhappy.
Kathleen Kennedy, head of LucasFilm, recently said that Star Wars is not like Marvel where it can get stories from decades of comic books. Huh? There is a huge Star Wars Expanded Universe with books and comics going back decades that has many rich stories. After the Disney takeover, they chose to disregard the Expanded Universe, but they are missing out on great source material.
Saturday, December 14, 2019
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
I'm not the only one. The audience score is 92%.
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Saturday, December 7, 2019
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Monday, December 2, 2019
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Saturday, November 23, 2019
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Having signed up for the promotion where I paid in advance for three years at just $4 per month, it is questionable as to if I am going to get my money's worth. Maybe new content will come along, for example, I know that there are going to be some new Star Wars series, but I expected this to be more like the Netflix streaming service, and not just a massive collection of every bad movie and bad TV show Disney has ever made.
Friday, November 15, 2019
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Sunday, November 3, 2019
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Sunday, October 20, 2019
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Rogue One is surprisingly beautiful. We see shots of planets that are stunning in their detail and beauty, plus everything else in the movie looks gorgeous. Movies like this are an incredible technical achievement. A generation ago, a movie that looked this amazing would have blown audiences away, even if the story was terrible, which fortunately, it isn't.
I am revising my rating of the film from "B+" to "A-".
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+.
The Lion King (2019) has just a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. My favorite movie critic, Richard Roeper, gives the movie 3.5 out of 4 stars.
I think that there are many people in Hollywood who are right-brain thinkers, which is great for creativity and artistry, but not particularly great for logic. As a result, we get a science fiction movie that is more about emotion than it is about science.
Ad Astra has an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
I doubt that any of the conversations in this film took place exactly as depicted in the movie, but the conversations serve a purpose to convey a great deal of information about people and historical events.
The movie throws technical terms around that would go over the heads of most people, but for a computer hacker like me, this was gravy. There is a certain joy in being able to understand all of this.
Really the movie is about relationships, specifically how Steve Jobs related to everyone else. The way Steve Jobs related to everyone is to be a jerk, mostly by lashing out at people, but at the same time, he seemed to draw everyone toward him with the power of his personality and his vision. Steve Jobs seemed like a man who thought that he was so far above everybody else that he didn't need to take time to be nice to people, so the key is to realize that the only thing he only cared about was is make his vision a reality. Had Steve Jobs been any different, would the world be a lesser place today?
Steve Jobs vision was always ahead of the technology of the day. All the early computers his companies created were underpowered, lacking in memory, not very useful for anything productive, and way overpriced. This is why the Macintosh and the NeXT computers were commercial failures. It wasn't until Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 that the cost of technology had come down enough to make Jobs' vision a runaway commercial success.
This is one of the best movies of the year and nobody is watching it. However, this is an amazing movie. I want to see it again.
Steve Jobs has an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Michael (The Archangel): "The last time God lost faith in Man, He sent a flood. This time, He sent what you see outside."
Percy Walker: "Are you saying this is the apocalypse?"
Michael (The Archangel): "I'm saying this is an extermination."
Michael (The Archangel): "Well, that's just fine, Bob. He doesn't believe in you either."
Gabriel (The Archangel): "This is not your test, Michael. How dare you presume to know His heart?"
Michael (The Archangel): [putting a hand to his chest] "Because He made this one. And it tells me He shouldn't lose faith now."
Michael (The Archangel): "I know. That's why you failed Him."
Fury follows a five-man tank crew as the Allies made the final push into Germany. The tank is commanded by a battled hardened staff sergeant, Don "Wardaddy" Collier, played brilliantly by Brad Pitt. Much of the movie centers around the relationship between Wardaddy and a very green new recruit, Norman, who isn't quite ready yet to face the horrors of war.
It seems to me that the movie has a political agenda where it portrays American soldiers in an unfavorable light. Few in this film have any regard for morality, even as they quote scripture and talk about salvation. In two scenes, soldiers execute an unarmed prisoner. Maybe one of the prisoners had it coming. The other soldiers regard these murders as amusing. They also take sadistic delight in seeing the enemy burn alive. In another scene, Wardaddy and Norman break into an apartment where two young German ladies are living. Wardaddy gives the girls some food and they share a meal together, but there is an obvious tension in the room: There is the implied expectation that one of the girls will have to have sex, willing or not. The younger of the two ladies falls for Norman and they walk off to the bedroom together. Everything is casual and amicable until the rest of the tank crew barge in. The remaining crew are boorish, frighten the ladies and ruin the most peaceful moment of the movie. Some critics called this the best part of the movie, perhaps because they also have a negative impression of American soldiers, but this particular moment in the film I found grating.
This negative portrayal of American soldiers I don't think is realistic. There may be a few bad apples, but American soldiers are well disciplined and professional. Most have a strong sense of morality, if not compassion.
On my second viewing of Fury, everything made sense. The bad behavior seems insignificant against the backdrop of mass human slaughter that the movie presents to us. I felt like I was watching history, accurate or not. At the very least the movie is an interesting history lesson about tank warfare.
Brad Pitt's performance as Wardaddy, as I said, is brilliant, but also very macho. I think that this is why some people weren't happy with the film.
In the 1940's war movie Sahara, a tank crew decides to make a stand against impossible odds. The same thing happens in Fury. I don't think that the crew would have made this decision knowing that they certainly would be killed. As Tank veteran Bill Batts points out, it is unrealistic to think that they could hold out against a Battalion of Waffen SS troops. However, it made for a great final act.
In the final shot of Cool Hand Luke, an aerial view of a cross-shaped intersection is shown as a way of letting the audience know that someone died. The final shot of Fury copies this technique.
Did I mention that watching the movie is a deeply visceral experience? The young green recruit, Norman, is so affected by the horrors of war that he becomes a very different person in just a couple of days. The audience feels this change and identifies with it.
If you can get past the unpleasant subject matter, this is a very brilliant movie. Fury has a 77% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Captain Marvel character starts snarky, serious and powerful. The character ends snarky, serious, and way more powerful. As played by Brie Larson, this character doesn't have much emotional depth, nor does the character evolve on an emotional level. However, her emotional range is just enough to sustain the movie.
Like the movie Elysium, the rich and powerful live in a city in the sky. Nobody gets to see them, but many people on the ground are trying to earn enough money to book passage to the sky city. However, it is not clear that anyone actually gets to go there.
Alita's role is similar to a few other teen-friendly movies, such as The Giver or The Fifth Wave, where teenage characters are trying to figure out their place in the world. It doesn't help that Alita is very powerful, which causes her to be overconfident and go off half-cocked on some adventures that almost get her killed.
There is much buzz on the internet comparing this movie to Captain Marvel. Both movies feature a powerful female protagonist. Neither character feels like they have earned the right to be so powerful. The character of Alita displays more growth, which is why so many people on the internet have favored this movie over Captain Marvel. However, Captain Marvel is a slightly more satisfying experience.
The movie could have ended one minute sooner than it did, but the final scene is like a bonus, involving a young boy we saw earlier in the movie. This scene is magical, but you can see the Disney influence in it.
P.S. Both times the audience applauded at the end of the film. That tells you something.