Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Matrix Resurrections


The Matrix Resurrections is not as innovative nor original as the first film.  Not even close, but it is passable entertainment.  Mostly.  The beginning is too slow, but once it gets going, the action is entertaining but repetitive with what we have already seen. Fortunately, the film throws around a few new ideas, which was just enough to make me glad that I saw it.

The initial part follows a resurrected Neo as the creator of the video game trilogy called "The Matrix". He is having breaks with "reality" where he thinks that The Matrix is something real that he has experienced before. The movie is so "self-aware" that it borders on self-parody.  Also, a seemingly compassionate psychiatrist, played brilliantly by Neil Patrick Harris, is trying to keep Neo suppressed, which is an overdone concept in movies and TV shows.  Total Recall comes to mind.

Then Neo is rescued, and the film starts to feel like a retread.  It is always echoing past scenes while giving us new wrinkles on the story.

We get new likable characters, but the movie falters by recasting Morpheus and Agent Smith.  Not having Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving is a serious loss.  I went along with this change, but I looked at these new actors as if they were playing new characters.  

It is difficult to accept the rules of the Matrix.  We are talking about a virtual reality world where people can't disconnect without dying.  They have to find an "exit".  They also die if they get killed in the matrix.  These rules make no sense logically, but the first film successfully sold these ideas by having the characters really believe it and by having a strong sense of style.  Therefore the matrix exists in a universe with its own rules.  However, the new movie does nothing to re-establish the rules and is also deficient in the style department.

It is also difficult to understand the motivations and the limitations of the matrix itself.  It resurrects Neo and Trinity, but it can't control events once they get started.  It is forced to play by its own rules, but you would think that a computer simulation could do almost anything.

That is because the movies aren't about a computer simulation.  They never were.  They are about rebelling against the power structure that is presumably keeping everyone suppressed.

I feel the same way about this film that I did about the 2001 version of The Planet of the Apes.  I was entertained, but the movie was so insubstantial that ten years later nobody remembered it. 

Most people are going to look at this film as a failure compared to the original.  I feel that it deserves a "B" for entertainment value, but it is at best a half-hearted effort.  It is only slightly better than what a made-for-TV adaption would be.

Rating:  B-.


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

From 4 years ago : The Last Jedi

Things that DIDN'T HAPPEN or weren't expounded upon in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
There were a ton of theories and supposed leaks about what was going to be in the movie. Here are a few.
1. Snoke was really Darth Plagueis, Jar Jar Binks, Leia Organa, or Donald Trump. Actually, the movie doesn't explain who Snoke is, although I have heard that the comics give some of his back story.
2. Luke tells Rey that she is his father. This would have been an ironic twist, but the supposed leak was that she is the reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker. The story went that "The Chosen One" reincarnates and Rey was the reincarnation.
I was hoping desperately that this would not be the case, because it would have been one of the corniest lines in all of Star Wars.
There were so many incorrect leaks from supposedly reliable sources, that I suspect that Lucasfilm might have been disseminating false information to throw off all the leakers. This one sounds like an April Fool's joke.
Some of the later trailers seemed to have been cut in a way to deliberately mislead about certain plot elements. However, many observant fans quickly figured this out.
3. Luke tells Rey that there is so much more to the Force than the Jedi way. This actually was in the first trailer, but I don't recall hearing it into the movie, just as The Force Awakens and Rogue One have scenes in their trailers that didn't make it into the movies. Often trailers are released before the final editing of the movies are completed.
This lead to the popular theory that Luke was a "Gray Jedi", which is to say both light and dark. The concept of a "Gray" has been explored in other Star Wars media.
4. Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren visit Acho-To and do battle with Luke. He quickly dispatches the Knights of Ren with a new "push" force power, and then does battle with Kylo Ren.
There are people who claimed that they saw this scene being filmed. It is possible that the scene was filmed, but not used. (I am pretty sure that I saw a photo of Kylo Ren on the island.)
In the original films, there were several scenes that were filmed that were also not used.
The first cut of the movie was a whopping three hours long and had to be trimmed down to 2.5 hours, which still makes it the longest Star Wars movie.
5. Either Anakin Skywalker, or Darth Vader, or both, appear as a force ghost.
There were sources claiming that the actor Hayden Christensen was seen on the set of The Last Jedi. Likewise, Hayden Christensen came out of hiding to make public appearances where he claimed that Star Wars was still part of his life.
This could still happen in the next film.
6. As part of a test, Rey has to go underwater to fight a sea monster.
Again, people claimed that they saw this scene being filmed.
7. I'm not convinced that we know the truth yet about Rey's parents. Kylo Ren could have been lying, but on the other hand I thought Darth Vader was lying too.
In an interview, Adam Driver actually referred to Rey as a princess in hiding pretending to be a nobody. This confused a great many people, but some thought that this might be deliberate misinformation, and others thought that Adam Driver was speaking figuratively.
There was nothing in this film to indicate that this might be true. Still could happen, but it doesn't seem likely based upon what we have seen so far.
Daisy Ridley claimed that Rey's parents were obvious to her after filming The Force Awakens and thought that everybody would figure it out, but that doesn't appear to be so obvious from what we have seen in the movies.
The shuttle that leaves a young Rey behind on Jakku looks so much like Luke's shuttle that appears in some of the comics. There were many things that made people think that Luke was Rey's father, but in the movie he doesn't seem to know who she is.
There were very popular theories that Rey was the granddaughter of Obi-wan Kenobi or Emperor Palpatine.
8. Relo. The idea that Rey and Kylo would fall in love.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Best movies that I'm going to recommend:
(In descending order.)

The Empire Strikes Back (almost everyone has seen this already.)
Brooklyn
Cloud Atlas
Rocketman
The Fault in Our Stars
The Right Stuff
1917
Interstellar
Children of Men
Son of Saul (might be very troubling to some)
American Sniper
The Impossible.
The Theory of Everything.
Frozen
Inside Out
Ender's Game
Pacific Rim
About Time.
In Time.
Sully
Belle
The Searchers
The Hunger Games
Superman Returns
Milk
Chaplin
Maggie
Locke
The Place Beyond the Pines
The Croods


I'll come up with a more complete list later.

The Matrix Resurrections Trailer #2 (2021) | Movieclips Trailers

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Here's Why Movie Dialogue Has Gotten More Difficult To Understand (And Three Ways To Fix It)

I remember thinking that I had a harder time understanding movies at the bargain theaters in Salt Lake City.

https://www.slashfilm.com/673162/heres-why-movie-dialogue-has-gotten-more-difficult-to-understand-and-three-ways-to-fix-it/

Contagion


I rewatched "Contagion" after seeing it in the theater when it came out ten years ago.

I have never seen a more prophetic movie in my entire life.  At least 80% of the film seems applicable to the current COVID-19 pandemic.  The biggest difference is the deadliness of the disease, which instead of being about 2% for known cases is around 25%.  But detail after detail comes up that I only recently learned about during the COVID crisis.

The movie has an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, although not all the critics were equally enthusiastic.  The audience score is only 63%, so I suspect that the subject matter might have turned off some people.  Rotten Tomatoes describes it as, "Tense, tightly plotted, and bolstered by a stellar cast.  Contagion is an exceptionally smart -- and scary -- disaster movie."   I agree.  It tells a fantastic story.  My favorite movie critic, Richard Roeper, gives it 5 out of 5 stating, "Contagion" is a brilliantly executed disease outbreak movie."

The film puts much emphasis on how easily disease can spread and this adds to the tension.

The ending is great, giving a nice emotional catharsis followed by a revelation about how the pandemic started.

Rating: A+.

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:  

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Tenet

 

Tenet would have likely been one of the biggest blockbuster hits of last year as a science fiction action thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan.  However, on the surface, it feels like the wackiest James Bond movie ever made.  The main character, called only "The Protagonist", is a spy sent to track down secrets to ultimately stop the end of the world.  It seems as if everyone else in the movie already knows the answers to these secrets except The Protoganist who has to figure them out one piece at a time.  His journey mirrors the audience who are also learning about these secrets for the first time.

The premise is that in the distant future someone builds a machine that can "reverse the flow of entropy" on matter and people, which means that the matter and people experience time in reverse.  The reversed matter travels backward in time at a normal rate instead of forward at a normal rate.  I am pretty sure that this is and will forever be physically impossible, but science fiction is full of impossible contrivances.  In this sense, the premise is similar to the low-budget mind-bending time-travel film Primer.

The future people are unhappy about Climate Change ruining their world, so they devise a plot to destroy the world in our time thinking that they can still protect themselves in the future, which absolutely makes no sense.  They devise a way to communicate with a dying psychopathic billionaire who agrees to go along with their scheme.  The billionaire and the future people send information and technology back and forth by burying it in designated spots for the other to retrieve in their time.

This leads to some very convoluted scenes of people fighting and scheming against each other while experiencing time in opposite directions.  This includes a great battle that is too confusing for normal minds to follow.

There is an obligatory romantic interest that causes The Protagonist to do things that otherwise might be counter to his mission.  

I am pretty sure that the movie as a whole doesn't make sense, but it doesn't matter.  There are likely people who will analyze every scene and plot it on a graph so as to finally understand the entire story, as was done with the very convoluted aforementioned film Primer.  Except that I am not so enthralled with the movie's excesses that I would do that.  I don't care if the movie makes sense or not.  This film is what I like to call, "A Grand Spectacle", and as such, it is a visual treat to watch whether it makes sense or not.  I don't have to fully understand it to enjoy it.

Despite the absurdity of the whole premise and the overall complexity of the story, the movie is a captivating experience.

Had the film been a major blockbuster last year, instead of experiencing a limited release in theaters due to COVID, I'm sure that people would have talked about it for months.  This is the kind of movie that people make videos on Youtube to explain.

Rating:  A-. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Friday, April 30, 2021

HBO's Chernobyl


As a riveting drama, it is hard to beat HBO's Chernobyl. The 4 episode miniseries deals with the worst nuclear accident in history, and all the consequences thereof. Thousands of people, such as nuclear workers, firefighters, military, miners, and scientists are in a race against time to contain the nuclear fallout that could affect a large area and contaminate millions of people.  Some of these people lost their lives in the process.

As fantastic as Chernobyl is as a drama, it gets so many facts wrong both historically and scientifically that it has been the subject of much criticism. It repeatedly exaggerates the threat that the nuclear accident poses, going as far as to describe the plant as a nuclear bomb, claiming that it could lead to a 30 megaton explosion, and claiming that it could make half of Europe uninhabitable. According to people in the know, all of this is complete nonsense. The show further states that a large group of spectators on a bridge miles from the accident died from radiation poisoning, calling it the "death bridge." However, according to many sources, this is an urban legend.

Normally I would find these kinds of mistakes unforgivable, but Chernobyl also gets a great many facts right, not the least of which is the human suffering of a terrible nuclear accident. Some scenes might be too graphic for people. Chernobyl does not shy away from the more unpleasant aspects of this disaster.

Soviet politics are a major factor since the government seemed to be in denial. They were slow to realize that the accident is a serious problem.

Early on in the miniseries, many of the nuclear workers and scientists can't fathom how such an accident could happen. The show keeps us in suspense by saving the explanation for last. It was a combination of bad design and poor training leading to incompetent nuclear workers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Why John Carter Failed - How Disney Let Its Biggest Movie Die


Just for the record, I liked this movie.  I think that the movie flopped because the premise is rather silly by modern standards.  Audiences aren't going to accept a swashbuckling story about rival kingdoms on the planet Mars.  When the story was written over a hundred years ago this might have sounded borderline plausible.  

However, take the same general idea and make it a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, and then it becomes more plausible.

Here is a link to my review which I recommend that you read:   http://letsallgotothemovie.blogspot.com/2013/10/stories-where-flash-gordon-rushed.html

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Cloris Leachman

On January 27, 2021, Leachman died in her sleep at her home in Encinitas, California, at the age of 94. The cause of death was a stroke with COVID-19 as a contributing factor.

She played the grandmother in the animated movie "The Croods" that I liked.  I have not yet seen the recently released sequel, in which she also played.  One of her most famous roles was as the snobbish neighbor on the Mary Tyler Moore show.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Vast of the Night


The Vast of the Night was released to drive-in theaters and on Amazon Prime in May of 2020.

When I was reviewing the movie "The Signal", I said that the trouble with low budget science fiction movies is that these types of films might have one good idea, whereas a big-budget movie like "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" is loaded with many good ideas. The Signal kept you in suspense for the whole film, making you think that this story was leading up to something wonderful. There was a payoff in the end, but that payoff was so short that if you had closed your eyes for just a couple of seconds then you would have missed it. Literally. Everything I said about "The Signal" is also true for "The Vast of the Night", except the ending is a little longer. However, both movies are an exercise in prolonged tension to arrive at similar endings. The Vast of the Night feels like a master class in low budget filmmaking. It does a great job with its long camera shots and its unknown actors who give stellar performances. The movie starts by showing an old fashioned television screen like it is playing an episode of the old Twilight Zone. The camera zooms into the screen and now we are following characters in a 1950's small New Mexico town on the night of a high school basketball game. It spends a long 20 minutes introducing its settings and characters, after which the local switchboard operator starts noticing weird things happening. She teams up with her friend, a disk jockey at a one-man radio station to investigate what is going on. Many of the scenes drag on a bit, mostly with conversation. But there is a frantic tension that builds toward the conclusion. Fortunately, the actors really sell this story. We get a sense that these are ordinary people caught up in something big that they don't understand. The minimalist style of this film could be called experimental, but for 85 minutes it works really well. Rating: B+. A reviewer on youtube gave the film an A-. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HEcnacyI_8


Friday, April 2, 2021

Mark Hamill Responds To Sebastian Stan Possibly Playing Luke Skywalker

This is an Internet rumor that has persisted for about a year.  Many fans want to see Sebastian Stan play a young Luke Skywalker, but there is no indication that anything is planned.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League


Superhero movies, in general, seem a little silly to me because the superpowers these characters have are often physically impossible, which makes them fantasy films. Why not instead watch movies about real heroes doing real heroism? However, I'll make an exception for Superman because he is an iconic (American) character that I grew up with.

The 2016 movie Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice is entertaining, and even more so the Ultimate Edition that I just streamed on HBOmax. I did not go see the 2017 Justice League movie because the reviews were mostly negative, but the internet mob spent 4 years campaigning for "The Snyder Cut", and seventy million dollars later they got it on HBOmax. Unlike the 2 hour theatrical version, the Snyder Cut is 3 hours and 54 minutes long and it is a blast. It is divided into six parts because reportedly they were considering making it into a miniseries. However, I never got bored with this version. It kept my rapt attention. As soon as one part was done I wanted to see the next part.

Although there are many differences between this version and the original theatrical release, the biggest is tone. It is more serious, darker, and less funny. The longer version also allows for the characters to be better developed.

​My only gripes with this movie are minor. Zack Snyder is a big fan of slow-motion and as others have pointed out, he overdoes it.​ There is also a scene that hits us over the head with a message about poverty, which is okay, but it takes us out of the moment.

Rating: A-.

Justice League Snyder Cut: All Differences From the Theatrical Version

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice "Ultimate Edition"

 


Cutting to the chase, I like this movie much more than the average critic.  It only scores 28% on Rotten Tomatoes.  The biggest problems with the film are that it spends a very long time on setup, you almost need a roadmap to follow its multiple storylines, it is intensely violent, occasionally brooding, and the payoff is overloaded with special effects.  However, I like the payoff, and I think that when the story is not being overly convoluted that there is a richness to it.  There are many emotional moments that go by quickly, but they work if you are paying attention.  Due to the complexity of the film, you really have to focus to keep up, but I like a movie that engages the brain.

Many people did not like Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, because he is not the typical intellectual scheming Lex Luthor.  He is more manic, like a mix of Lex Luthor and the Joker or the Riddler.  However, I think that Eisenberg's manic performance here is fantastic.  Some of his dialog is the best in the movie.  His character is key to the entire film.

Portions of the dialog with the extra characters seem overly simplistic, which is an annoying trend that I have noticed with other superhero movies.

The "Ultimate Edition" adds 30 minutes to the original runtime, making it almost 3 hours long.  However, the Ultimate Edition restored scenes and storylines taken out of the original for time.  The result is less confusing and richer in detail.

Rating:  A-.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

People on the Internet have a remarkable amount of power



People on the Internet have a remarkable amount of power. When the first trailer appeared for Sonic The Hedgehog, the animation of Sonic didn't look quite right. It was kind of creepy. So people complained en masse. The production studio was so affected by this that they spent an extra $10 million over their $90 million budget to fix the animation, and the result was a kid's movie that surprised the critics by actually being good. It wasn't great, but it was passable entertainment.
The 2016 Zack Snyder movie Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice was fairly good, but the follow-up 2017 film, Justice League, was a disaster. Zack Snyder had to leave the project before it was finished due to the death of his daughter. The movie was finished by Joss Whedon, who has done great work on television and in the Marvel films, but his cut of the movie didn't quite work. As a result, there was an Internet campaign to, "Release the Snyder Cut", even though such a thing probably didn't exist. People were saying that it would never happen. However, the campaign never stopped, which lead to $70 million being spent so that Zack Snyder could release his version of the film on the 18nth of this month on HBO Max, an online streaming service. The early reviews are in, and the critics for the most part like the new version.
Gina Carano is a former wrestler who did a fairly good job of playing the character Cara Dune on the Star Wars streaming series, The Mandalorian. (I can't recommend this series enough.) However, she got into it with some fans on Twitter about her posts not being politically correct, which led to a several-month-long campaign to get her fired. I think that Gina Carano did nothing wrong, but Disney eventually gave in and fired her. Now, the same outrage mob is trying to go after Bill Bur and Rosario Dawson, both of which have also played on The Mandalorian. Meanwhile, Josh Whedon has fallen out of favor with the public for alleged bad behavior.


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Queen's Gambit


Hollywood tends to make fictional movies about people who are so talented that they quickly rise to the top of some competitive sport without really having to earn it. In reality, a game like chess is immensely difficult to master, and the top-level players spend decades of full-time effort to get to that level. You almost have to be a little bit crazy to be a top tier chess player.

So I resisted at first watching Queen's Gambit, but as a drama about chess, it is good. There is also a major theme about substance abuse. These together make a pretty good story.

Obviously, there is also a theme of female empowerment. This is interesting because during the 1950s and 1960s in which this story takes place, there weren't that many women chess players and none at the higher levels. Things have improved quite a bit since then, first with the Polgar sisters becoming top tier players, and more recently with Chinese star Hou Yifan. Yet, chess is still a game dominated by men, maybe because women find it less interesting. Men more than women prefer competitive sports, especially one as egotistical as chess.

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Best wishes,

John Coffey

http://www.entertainmentjourney.com

Monday, February 22, 2021

James Cameron Vs Ripley's Underwear


The scene is iconic and important to the movie. It also goes by quickly. The film quickly switches from relaxed and sexual to sheer terror as Ripley is surprised by the alien monster. Ripley in her underwear feels more vulnerable, but she finds a way to fight back demonstrating that she is a strong character.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Why the Music in Cats (2019) is Worse than you Thought

I tried to give the movie a chance.  This is far more analysis than most people would want to spend time on, but at least now I know why the movie sucks.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Watchmen (2009) - Was It Really That Bad?



I remember liking Watchmen, but I'm not sure that I would want to sit through it again.  There was a certain novelty to the concept of flawed superheroes, but this no longer seems like a novel concept.