Tuesday, September 15, 2020

1917


The movie 1917 is likely to be one of the best movies I will see this year.  It follows a pair of World War I soldiers on a time-critical mission to get a message to another unit so as to avoid an attack that will end in disaster.  This is based on a real story told to writer and director Sam Mendes by his grandfather.

The movie is filmed in such a way that it appears to be one continuous shot, except for a couple of obvious breaks.  There are continuous shots that last at least 40 minutes.  The camera follows the soldiers through long trenches, across fields, into farmhouses, rivers, underground bunkers, and troop transports.  This is like another character because I spent the whole movie wondering how on earth did they film this?  It is technically very difficult to have everything properly lit while the camera follows the actors through miles of territory. 

The movie creates a suspense that is perfect.  There is not much direct combat, but the horrible aftermath of combat is everywhere in this movie.  On the journey, the soldiers are constantly passing dead bodies and destruction.  The way the movie is filmed gives it an extra sense of realism.

The movie is rated R for war violence and a few swear words.

Rating: A+.



The Mandalorian | Season 2 Official Trailer

This looks neat.  I'm not convinced that they are going to recapture the magic of the first season.  (P..S. I was wrong!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Dune Trailer #1 (2020)



I read the entire Dune series of books in the 1970's. Although good books, I can't imagine them making good movies. The story is overly convoluted and probably not very cinematic.

The previous attempt at a Dune movie was of questionable quality.

Frank Herbert tended to write very weird novels. His "Whipping Star" series of books are a good read, but weird as all get out.

The trailer gives us nothing to indicate that it will be any good. It could be another Battlefield Earth.

Friday, September 4, 2020

John Boyega DESTROYS Disney Star Wars!



In this video, Matt Jarbo actually says he is hoping that someone can "red pill" him on The Last Jedi.  So I had to take my shot:

I'm not sure if you have seen my previous comments over the last 2+ years defending The Last Jedi, because you never respond, but please allow me to make my case. There are several minor problems with the film that I didn't find too objectionable. I'll cover these, but first, let me say that if you look past these things then there is a pretty entertaining story there. There is so much in the movie that I like: All the interaction between Luke and Rey. The force bond between Rey and Kylo. Rey's vision.  Everything that happened in the throne room is gold, and it concludes with Ben practically proposing to Rey which is even more interesting. The Canto Bight story is not the best, but neither does it take up as much screen time as people claim it does. Parts of it, such as the chase scene, are interesting. Everything that happened during the Battle of Crait was also excellent, except for the stupid Rose scene. I liked being surprised by Luke's force projection. His passing, or becoming one with the Force, moved me to tears. 

If you look at Rey's vision, I really feel that they were going to make her a clone, but changed their 
minds later. 

For me, the good parts outweigh the bad by a good margin. 

The first time around I was a little uncertain how I felt about broom boy. I found the scene both emotionally moving and a little cheesy, but this scene has grown on me. It creates hope for the future. Also, The Last Jedi takes Star Wars in a slightly new direction and I really felt like it needed that. It needed something fresh, and not just you have to have the right bloodline to be a Jedi. 

The Last Jedi does what Lucas always did, which is to take us to new exotic locations and introduce new ideas that are controversial. (Ewoks, Jar Jar, Midichrorians.) Compare that to The Rise of Crapwalker which hardly does anything original. (I like the movie, but it is my least favorite of the nine. There are real logical problems, like Rey and Kylo both wanting the same goal, which is to go to Exegol to kill Palpatine, but somehow these two characters who have the same goal are fighting each other to the death.) 

Most of the things that people complain about as cringe-worthy didn't feel that bad. The big one was the direction that they took Luke in, but I feel like we don't own the story. It is up to them to tell the story that they want to tell, and if they want to make Luke a burned-out Jedi, then this actually makes for a pretty interesting story. It is not the story I would have chosen to tell, but I'm not a good storyteller. If they gave me exactly what I expected then I would be bored. 

I didn't mind the scene with Leia saving herself because I liked seeing her use the Force. It is logical that she could do that. I dislike people comparing this scene to Mary Poppins. I went and looked at the scene in Marry Poppins and they are nothing alike. The Poe joking around bit was not the best, but I kind of enjoyed it anyway. General Hux was always a comical character. His grand speech in The Force Awakens is over the top, so I never saw him as a serious character. 

Things I don't like in The Last Jedi: 1. Laura Dern's Professor of Gender Studies character. She does not look like a rebel and feels out of place. They are beating us over the head with Social Justice Warrior messages. 2. Rose's very bad dialog. More social justice warrior messages along with her stupid dialog in saving Finn. I like Rose Tico, but I don't l like her dialog. 3. Since when has fuel ever been an issue in a Star Wars movie? 4. The slow-speed chase doesn't make sense because the First Order could hyperspace ahead of the rebel fleet. 

Although I like The Force Awakens, I have some problems with the movie because they don't explain or set up anything. We learn nothing about the new Republic and there are so many unexplained things that the movie feels like it is full of holes. 

I had high hopes that the third film would pull it all together in a way that would redeem the trilogy, but the third film only proves that they didn't have a plan.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

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.