Sunday, November 14, 2021

THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN / REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN

 


Just for the record, I am a fan of the Superman movies.  I never had an opportunity to read the comic books, but the 1978 Superman film with Christopher Reeve made me a fan.  I enjoyed the 2013 Man of Steel, its sequel the 2016 Batman v Superman, and the 2021 Zack Snyder's Justice League.  There was also a 2007 animated film, Superman: Doomsday, which only scored 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.  I also liked the TV series Smallville, although the show went on too long with ten seasons.

Apparently, the comic books reboot their stories once in a while to bring them up to date with modern times.  Superman is no longer a 1930's character.   The DC animated movies from 2013 to 2021 are based upon a 2011 reboot of the comics whose stories went up to 2015.  Then there was another DC comic book reboot in the year 2016.

I was fairly impressed with the 2018 The Death of Superman which has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Along with its 2019 sequel, Reign of the Supermen, the movies benefit from a more mature animation style and a more mature plot aimed at adults.  

I have mixed feelings about the second film.  It tells a pretty good story, but it is definitely darker.  There is more violence.  Many people get killed.  There is some sexual innuendo and sex is mentioned out loud, which is not what I would expect from an animated superhero movie.  It also has a frenetic story.  It is a busy film, which can be both good and bad.

Together these two films make for pretty good entertainment.  All three animated films are available on HBO Max.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Dune 2021

 


In the distant future, a war emerges between powerful political dynasties on the desert planet Araknis over the control of the mining of Spice, which is needed for interstellar space travel.  The Atreides ruling family tries to align itself with the indigenous population known as Fremen.

I read the entire series of Dune novels in the 1970s.  Since Frank Herbert tended to write imaginative, complicated, and downright weird novels, I thought that a movie adaptation might be difficult.  The 1984 movie was okay for its time, but it fell flat with audiences.  The film was too complex and too esoteric.

Three minutes into Dune, the title screen reveals that this 2.5-hour movie is only part 1.  I was disappointed at first, but it is better this way.  Dune is so complicated that you need a roadmap to keep up.  The film doesn't skimp on detail.  It provides a very rich story faithful to the book, which is maybe why it only covers about half of the first novel.

The script feels perfect.  Parts of it drag on a bit because there is much detail to cover.  The movie adds many scenes to make it more cinematic, so it feels more like a 21st-century film.  

The performances are good, but the complexity and weirdness of the story overshadow everything else.   Timothée Chalamet is a bit subdued as the main character Paul Atreides, but Jason Mamoa (Aquaman) stands out as the soldier Duncan Idaho.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Ernest Borgnine

Borgnine returned to his parents' house in Connecticut after his Navy discharge without a job to go back to and no direction. In a British Film Institute interview about his life and career, he said:

After World War II, we wanted no more part in war. I didn't even want to be a Boy Scout. I went home and said that I was through with the Navy and so now, what do we do? So I went home to mother, and after a few weeks of patting me on the back and "You did good," and everything else, one day she said, "Well?" like mothers do. Which meant, "All right, you gonna get a job or what?"[19]

He took a local factory job, but was unwilling to settle down to that kind of work. His mother encouraged him to pursue a more glamorous profession, and suggested to him that his personality would be well suited for the stage. He surprised his mother by taking the suggestion to heart, although his father was far from enthusiastic. In 2011, Borgnine remembered,

She said, "You always like getting in front of people and making a fool of yourself, why don't you give it a try?" I was sitting at the kitchen table and I saw this light. No kidding. It sounds crazy. And 10 years later, I had Grace Kelly handing me an Academy Award.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Borgnine

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

WHY 120FPS WON'T LAST. FRAME RATE COMPARISON. What should you shoot with?



David Arthur
1 month ago
At 24 fps, you see dwarfs fighting goblins. At 48, you see men running around in silly costumes. :)

Monday, September 20, 2021

Ford Vs. Ferrari

 

Henry Ford II, along with his executive Lee Iacocca, decided to get the Ford Motor Company into auto racing with the intent to win the 1966 Le Manns sportscar world championship, partially because of a feud with Ferrari. They contracted sports car designer Carroll Shelby and his soon-to-be-legendary British driver Ken Miles.

The good parts start about 50 to 55 minutes into the movie.  The problem is the very long setup that, probably for historical reasons, introduced so many characters that I didn't care about any of them.  Once the movie focused on the two principal leads and their relationship, it gave us an additional 90 minutes of really good entertainment.

Both Matt Damon and Christain Bale portray characters unlike anything they have done before, and Damon seems to shine with a very mature performance.  Bale does a good job too, but I didn't quite buy his British accent.  However, maybe the joke is on me since it turns out that he is a British actor.  I am used to seeing him with an American accent.

Almost all the supporting performances are very good.  Tracy Letts stands out as Henry Ford II, and Jon Bernthal, known for his television roles, does a good job as Lee Iacocca, the man who gave us the Ford Pinto, portraying him as the bad guy who is always getting in the way.

Rating B.  The film has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but that first part is a slog to get through.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Dune Blows Away All Expectations! The Reviews are In!


I thought that Dune would be a tough novel to adapt to the big screen.  Frank Herbert wrote weird books.


On September 24th, Apple TV releases a Foundation miniseries based upon the Isaac Asimov books.  They weren't the most exciting books.  More cerebral.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Wall-E



I watched Wall-E for the third time since it came out in 2008. This is a truly satisfying movie. It starts like a silent film, with only a few rare unintelligible utterances by Wall-E. He meets another robot named EVE who only utters a couple of words. Wall-E falls in love with EVE, but EVE was sent by humans on a distant spaceship to discover if the long-abandoned Earth could support life again. Together, the pair end up saving the human race.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Star Wars: The Complete Canon Timeline (2021)

This is the complete Star Wars timeline.  It involves books, comics, video games, TV series, and movies.  I have watched all of the TV series, most of which are quite good.  The only one that I am not thrilled with is "Star Wars Resistance" which is more kid-friendly.



Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Trilogy Meter




The second Superman (original) is pretty terrible, but the director's cut is noticeably better. I like X-Men 3, Alien 3, and 4 better than most. Godfather 3 is okay. The first Star Trek (original) is very weak, but the second is nearly perfect. The second Die Hard is really corny but tolerable. The third Die Hard is a big improvement. The second Planet of the Apes (original) is horrible, but the third is a big improvement.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Star Trek (2009)





I watched on Netflix streaming the 2009 reboot of Star Trek for what is likely the third time. There seems to me to be a big difference between seeing this movie for the third time in 2021 and seeing it for the first time in 2009. Originally, everything in the film was new, so much attention was paid to things like how well the new actors played the old characters. There are many differences in this version of Star Trek, so consequently, some fans would have snubbed their noses at it and said, "This is not my Star Trek." However, 12 years and 2 sequels later, I have come to accept these actors playing these roles. The differences between the new Star Trek and the old are no longer a distraction to the story. The first time I saw this movie in the theater it was sensory overload. I felt that everything had been overdone to an extreme level. Now it seems normal, although with a frenetic pace.

That fast pace is part of what makes this film great. There is much story to digest, so the audience is in no danger of getting bored. My only complaint is that parts of the story seem a little hokey, and if you think too hard about some of the plot details then a few nagging questions come up. However, since the movie is so entertaining, it doesn't really matter.


Rating: A-.

--

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Star Wars - The Genius of John Williams

I don't know anything about music, but I do know that John Williams's music is pretty incredible.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Green Screen special effects

I saw a shorter version of this on Facebook that starts 38 seconds into it.  I found it impressive.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Foundation



I saw someplace that the Isaac Asimov Foundation series is getting a television adaptation. I feel the same way about this upcoming show that I do about the upcoming Dune movie based upon a series of books by Frank Herbert, who tended to write very weird books. Some books are just not very cinematic, least of all, Foundation and Dune.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

The Tomorrow War


The Tomorrow War is a movie just released on Amazon Prime.

It seems that movies about Time Travel have become increasingly illogical. The rules about time travel get bent in weird ways depending upon which story you are watching. The Tomorrow War feels like it might have a few plot holes or pieces that don't quite make sense. It is essentially a 4 act film, making it feel too long, and the entire last act is questionable.

The movie also dwells on personal relationships that the audience will feel mostly indifferent to.

Regardless, The Tomorrow War has some intense sci-fi war action sequences. These do get a bit repetitious, but much of this film is thrilling to watch.

In terms of story, The Tomorrow War reminds me of "World War Z." That film wasn't entirely logical either, but it was a better made movie.

The Tomorrow War has a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I give it a "B-".

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Terminator: Dark Fate


On the surface, Terminator: Dark Fate seems like an example of everything wrong with movie-making in the last five years:  Take a 35-year-old franchise and reboot it with new heroes, most of which are female who seem far more capable than they should be, throw in a few subtle political messages and then make the movie with essentially the same plot that we have already seen.  One critic called the movie "garbage" because the female lead takes down two men twice her size simultaneously in hand to hand combat, as if the laws of physics have no meaning.  

Dark Fate is essentially a remake of Terminator II Judgement Day, but not as good.  The movie has heart, but not as much.  It has suspense, but it doesn't achieve the fantastic level of dread that Terminator II did.

However, Terminator: Dark Fate still has much to offer.  It has some of the best action scenes of the entire franchise.  These scenes are not perfect, because they are a bit too frenetic, too dark, and a little over the top, but they kept me riveted to my seat.  The movie also offers a few new twists on the old formula.

It is easier to appreciate this movie if we look at the history of the Terminator movies.

"The Terminator" in 1984 was a great low budget science fiction horror film.  Terminator II took this story to a much higher level and higher budget in 1991.  However, that was the last time the franchise was really great.  

Every movie since then has attempted to continue the story while also serving as a reboot that would allow the franchise to move forward.  In this regard, all the previous films failed.  I like the mostly forgettable Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) and the somewhat better Terminator 4 Salvation (2009), but the movies had mixed reviews and the franchise failed to recapture its former glory.  Then came Terminator Genisys in 2015 that completely flopped.  The story was a dud.

Therefore, since these films are based on time travel, Terminator: Dark Fate continues the story after Terminator II in a way that completely throws away the last three movies.  This is actually a good thing because it is entertaining enough to allow the franchise to move forward again.  

The way the movie achieves this reboot might rub some people the wrong way.  There are a number of people who dislike this film.  Therefore, it seems likely to fail as a reboot.  What matters to me is that the movie is plenty entertaining despite a few minor flaws.  This is like Terminator Salvation, which I thought was pretty good, but not everyone liked it as much as I did.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Out of Time


It turns out there are a bunch of movies that have been named, "Out of Time."  This 2019 release is available on Amazon Prime, and it feels like a good made-for-TV movie.  I don't think that it had a theatrical release.  It is not quite on that level, but as a TV movie, it is like a very well-made episode of "The Outer Limits".  It is comparable to the movie, "The Thirteenth Floor", which I enjoyed.

Three people mysteriously appear out of a portal in the desert and make their way to Los Angeles, leaving a trail of bodies along the way.  Another portal opens in the desert, and a detective character emerges who pursues the other three.  He teams up with a Los Angeles policewoman in pursuit of these dangerous characters.

The time travel is similar to The Terminator series except with a twist; these people came from the past, specifically Roswell New Mexico around 1950.  The detective is pursuing three aliens intent on wiping out the human race.  Unfortunately, the aliens can transfer themselves into other people, making the pursuit that much more difficult.

This show kept my interest from beginning to end.  As a low-budget science fiction movie, it works very well.

I was hoping for a Twilight Zone-like twist at the end and I was not disappointed.

Rating:  B.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Soul


"Soul" was scheduled to be released on June 19, 2020, but at that time the only open theaters were a few drive-ins.  It would probably have been one of the top-grossing films of the year, but it got pushed back to November and then pushed back again to December 25th just on the Disney+ streaming service.

In the 1943 movie, "A Guy Named Joe", the main character is a fighter pilot who is killed in his last mission before becoming a flight instructor.  In Heaven, he is told that he must return to Earth to become the spiritual inspiration to a young flight trainee.  This movie was remade in 1989 as Steve Spielberg's "Always", with Richard Dreyfus as the departed pilot.  One critic called "Always" the best movie Steven Speilberg has ever made.  

These films may have been an inspiration for the movie "Soul."  

Joe Gardner, a middle school music teacher who is unsatisfied with his lot in life, gets his big break when he gets a chance to perform as a backup musician for a famous jazz singer.  However, before he can play his gig, he accidentally falls into an open manhole.  He finds himself in the soul dimension on a conveyer belt taking him to "The Great Beyond."  However, since Joe didn't get to play his big break, he doesn't want to go.  He escapes the conveyer belt only to fall into "The Great Before", a place where new souls are being prepared for their journey to Earth.  Here he is given the job of inspiring "soul number 22", who is a particularly recalcitrant soul who doesn't want to go to Earth.  For 22 to get to Earth, she first has to find her "spark", which she stubbornly refuses to do.  Joe is more interested in finding a way to cheat the system so that he can return to his body on Earth, which is in a coma in the hospital.  He accidentally falls to Earth with 22, and her soul ends up in his body and his soul ends up in the body of a cat.

I have seen people criticize this body-swapping plot because it has been done before many times in other movies, and even though it is perhaps the weakest part of the movie, it also gives Joe the cat a chance to inspire 22 to want to live.  He almost succeeds, but complications get in the way.

Some of the scenes in the soul dimension are very beautiful, so I would have liked to have seen this movie on the big screen.

"Soul" is a very beautifully made film whose ideas are stronger than their implementation, but as a movie, it is borderline great.  It is very rewatchable and emotionally touching.  It ponders some great ideas about the meaning of life, but it might be a little too deep and too introspective for kids to fully appreciate.

Rating:  A-.



Friday, May 21, 2021

Cloud Atlas: Who was who... in the final credits...

The mind-bending movie "Cloud Atlas" takes place in six time periods: 1849, 1936, 1973, 2012, 2144, and 2321. I loved the movie, although it might be a bit long. It tells six different but interconnected stories with mostly the same actors playing different roles.  One theme is reincarnation, but the main theme is about fighting oppression.



Trailer: