Friday, December 30, 2022

Avatar Review

"Avatar" is a science fiction epic directed by James Cameron and released in 2009. The movie tells the story of Jake Sully, a disabled former Marine who is sent to the distant planet of Pandora to participate in a corporate-funded project to mine a valuable mineral called unobtanium. While there, Jake falls in love with the native Pandora inhabitants, the Na'vi, and becomes torn between his loyalty to his human employers and his growing connection to the Pandora ecosystem and its inhabitants.

One of the standout elements of "Avatar" is its groundbreaking visuals and special effects, which were groundbreaking at the time of its release and hold up well even by today's standards. The use of motion capture technology and 3D animation allowed the filmmakers to create fully-realized, lifelike characters and breathtakingly realistic environments that are a joy to behold. The movie's action scenes are also well-choreographed and exciting, with impressive set pieces that showcase the unique creatures and landscapes of Pandora.

The story of "Avatar" is not particularly original, with elements of the "white savior" trope and a simplistic, good-versus-evil narrative that pits the human characters against the Na'vi. However, the movie's themes of environmentalism and cultural imperialism are timely and thought-provoking, and the performances of the cast, particularly Sam Worthington as Jake and Zoe Saldana as the Na'vi warrior Neytiri, are strong.

Overall, "Avatar" is a visually stunning and entertaining action adventure that is worth seeing for its groundbreaking special effects and strong performances. While its story may be somewhat simplistic and familiar, the movie's themes and visuals more than make up for it.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

P.S.  I didn't write this review.  An AI called chatGPT did.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

IT (2017)


When it was announced that Stephen King's very popular novel IT was being made into a feature film, there was almost no end to the hype.  People were very excited about it, and the reviews ended up pretty favorable.  My favorite movie critic, Richard Roeper, gives the film four stars.

However, I see almost no redeeming qualities to the movie.  It has one very disturbing image after another.  The movie about a supernatural killer clown apparently comes from a very dark place in Stephen King's psyche.  We see children constantly in danger and facing gruesome and gory events that seem to go on without end.

A group of preteen boys take it upon themselves to fight this danger, however unrealistic this may be.  They are also plagued by bullies who are far more sadistic than what would seem plausible, along with some uncompassionate adults who are a bit sadistic themselves.

One problem that I have with Stephen King is that he treats American characters as stereotypes, often cruel ones, that are not believable.  There is the crazy religious woman in "The Mist", a movie that didn't work at all for me.  His novel, Under the Dome, is full of stereotyped "good old boy" characters that aren't realistic for Americans anymore.  It is almost painful to read.

When I watched the movie Jurassic Park, I didn't like seeing children in mortal danger.  I have the same problem here.  Nor is it realistic that children would rise to the occasion to take on the mortal threat.  After everything that happens in this movie, these children should be experiencing severe post-traumatic stress.

The movie omits a scene from the book where a teenage girl has sex with six preteen boys as a way of bonding with them.  Very dark indeed.

At no point is it explained where this supernatural killer clown comes from.  Reportedly there was a scene filmed that might have explained it, but it was cut because it was too disturbing.  Given how disturbing the rest of the film is, that's saying something.

I thought that I liked Stephen King novels, like "The Dead Zone" and "The Stand".  I may have to rethink this.

Rating:  D.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Rotten Tomatoes Won’t Exist In 5 Years. Here’s Why.

Avatar Is An Absolute Snooze Fest

The only movie that almost caused me to walk out of the theater was Uncut Gems.
Avatar was passable as entertainment. Not saying that it was great, but it was good enough.

George Lucas on Why Carrie Fisher Was Special

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Watch "George Lucas Discusses the Jar Jar Binks BACKLASH with Robin Williams" on YouTube

On Tue, Oct 18, 2022, at 3:04 PM Albert  wrote:
Interesting discussion. George Lucas points out that fans hated C-P3O in the first movie, Ewoks in the second movie, and Jar-jar Binks in the 4th movie. As for me, I had few qualms about C-P3O except that I am not a fan of the "Barney Fife" line of characters. When you have to provide comic relief using a bumbling, incompetent character, I cringe. This might be due to my military background.  There's no room for comic relief unless your willing to let let people die for a laugh. Imagine if your surgeon used Barney Fife as a comic relief role model while conducting surgeries. Now, it's not so funny, especially if your the patient.

I agree with Lucas about the Ewoks. I hated them. They felt out of place. It seemed too far fetched to have 2 foot teddy bears defeating the most technologically advanced military force ever assembled in the universe. Of course, the Star Wars universe was no longer catering to their original fan base, but rather their new up and coming fan base.

Jar-jar Binks was the worst of all. I have no need for a bumbling, animated "Jamaican" alien. Especially one who looks like Bugs Bunny had taken a direct hit at ground zero, melted, morphed and mutated into a Jamaican alien. I remember thinking what could be a worse character than Ewoks. Jar-jar. WTF George Lucas? Lol

The Ewoks came about because of a lack of funding.  George Lucas wanted to do a planet full of Wookies, which he was able to pull off in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  I would have thought that Lucas would have had all the money in the world to make his third movie, but the way expensive movies get financed is complicated, involving multiple producers providing funding often through loans.

We got 11-year-old Warwick Davis playing the main Ewok, Wicket, and as a result, he went on to play other parts in Star Wars and other movies like Willow and Harry Potter.

It was always Lucas' intent to have the Empire defeated by a bunch of "primitive" people.  There is a little bit of an anti-technology theme in Star Wars, like when Luke turned off his targeting computer.

I wasn't thrilled about the Ewoks, but the only thing that really bothered me was their singing at the end of the original movie, which felt super cheesy to me.  Fortunately, they took this out later but added an even worse musical number in Jabba's Palace earlier in the film.

I don't feel like we should be bothered by accents in Star Wars films, because the placement of accents was deliberate by Lucas to make alien characters feel different from other characters.   The character Watto the junk dealer has his own accent, and some people have described him as a Jewish stereotype.  I'm not sure that he is.

A friend of mine complained about the series Rome because everyone spoke in an English accent instead of anything that remotely resembled Italian, but I pointed out that had the series been made in Australia, almost everybody would be speaking with an Australian accent.

It made sense to me that not all the characters in a science fiction movie would be of equal intelligence nor follow the same behavioral norms.  The Gungans seem to be less intelligent and more warrior-like, but if you have a planet with two sapient species, they are not going to be the same.  Part of what makes Star Wars interesting is different species interacting with each other.

I feel that you need comic relief in an otherwise almost over-the-top serious movie such as The Phantom Menace.   I don't see the portrayal of Jar-Jar as outrageous, over-the-top, or insulting to the audience.  However, I do feel that way about the musical number in Jabba's Palace.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Monday, October 10, 2022

I Think We're Alone Now

In a post-apocalyptic world, Del, played very well by Peter Dinklage, seems to be the last man alive.  He lives in a small town in New York state, and he has taken it upon himself to bury the 1600 other residents who are all dead.  He is content with his solitary life, but that life is turned upside down when Grace comes to town.  Whereas he is very reserved and introverted, she is the exact opposite.

The cause of the apocalypse is never explained because the characters have no idea what happened.  Del doesn't even care; he wants mostly to be left alone.

Later we are introduced to a questionable character, played by Paul Giamatti, who I really loved in the HBO series John Adams.

The words "slow burn" are popular now to describe some entertainment, especially science fiction, that moves at a slow pace.  We have certainly seen that in several series and movies.  The French TV series "Les Revenants" is extraordinarily good and very popular in Europe, but the story doesn't seem to go anywhere.  The Apple TV series "Invasion" is nothing but a slow burn and fails to deliver.  The Amazon series "Outer Range" is definitely a slow burn but keeps the viewer interested   The Disney+ series "Andor" turns slow burn into high art.  You see the same pattern in some movies, such as "The Vast of the Night", "Annihilation", and "Signal."

There is a reason for all this.  Good science fiction is extremely expensive to make.  Cheap science fiction typically has at most just one good idea.  In the beginning, they will introduce a mystery, keep the audience in suspense, and then reveal the one good idea at the end.  We see this pattern way too often.  The special effect at the end of the movie "Signal" is so brief that if you just happen to close your eyes for a couple of seconds then you will miss it along with the point of the entire movie.  This is what cheap science fiction looks like.

The main issue is whether a slow-burn series or movie can hold our attention long enough and end well enough to make us glad that we watched it?

I initially didn't think of "I Think We're Alone Now" as a science fiction film, but it is told in three parts which are quite different from each other.  The first part is about post-apocalyptic survival.  The second part is an awkward romance and the third part involves a twist that takes the film into "Outer Limits" territory, although I have seen better twists in better movies.

The movie has a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Much of the criticism revolves around people not liking all three parts or feeling that it is disjointed or too slow.  The final twist might have been too much for some people.

However, the movie totally worked for me.  Even though the pace is slow, it progresses just fast enough to keep me interested.  It stretches the suspense out but keeps the story moving.  Also, Peter Dinklage is a good enough actor to turn the movie into a fascinating character study, otherwise, I think that the film would not work at all.  The payoff at the end isn't particularly great, but it is not bad either.

I am trying to figure out if there is a deeper meaning to the film, and I am not coming up with much.  It could be a study on dealing with grief and loneliness.  The ending could be a metaphor for "haves" versus "have-nots", but I am stretching here.  The film touches on other issues such as obsessive behavior, authoritarian control, and cults.

The movie is rated R perhaps for its post-apocalyptic subject matter, but I saw very little that people would find offensive.  A more appropriate rating would have been PG-13 for some swearing.

Rating: B. The movie is streaming on Hulu.

Monday, October 3, 2022


The Disney+ Star Wars series Andor is shockingly good. Just how good is it? It is on par with an average Star Wars movie. I liked "The Mandalorian" series even better, and I regard it higher than any of the Disney sequel trilogy movies.
For $8 you could get a month of Disney+, watch all 11 Star Wars movies, Andor, The Mandalorian, and the really excellent animated series such as The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, The Bad Batch, and Star Star Wars Visions. In addition, you could watch 37 different Marvel movies starting with Iron Man, and some fairly good series such as Wandavision, Loki, and "The Falcon and The Winter Soldier"
Plus you get all the Disney and Pixar content.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Andor isn't "real" Star Wars? Or is it as "real" as Star Wars gets?

This video is very insightful.


Daniel Fienberg, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, said that "Invasion verges on 10 episodes of setup so pure and unfulfilling that a better title would be Evasion", and that is the problem.  The series spends all its time following many different clueless people who don't yet realize that the world is going to hell because we are under attack from extraterrestrials.  Their first suspicion is that this is a massive terrorist attack as they flee looking for shelter.  This creates some interesting personal stories, but the show never delivers the goods.  When we finally do see the aliens it is too little and way too late.

Sam Neil plays the most interesting character, a small-town sheriff who on his retirement day is dissatisfied with his life but starts to realize that something big is about to happen.  Unfortunately, he is only in the first episode and I suspect that he was hired just to give the show a recognizable name.

 About halfway through the series, a lady President of the United States announces, "We are not alone in the universe", as if this were some great scientific discovery and all we have to do is extend a hand to the invaders.  Meanwhile, cities are being shelled from space.

These ten episodes might have made for a slightly interesting two-hour movie, but the way it stretches out its story bores the audience to tears.  I am shocked to learn that the show has been renewed for a second season.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Thor Love and Thunder


Marvel Studios Thor: Love and Thunder is a very fun watch just so long as you don't take it too seriously.  If you took out all the comical parts then the movie would be about half as long.  The film is a comedy and it is pretty clear that Chris Hemsworth loves hamming it up in a big way.  His character Thor was always a bit comical, which offends some people because they look at Thor as a classical hero.  However, the other half of the movie makes for a pretty good Marvel adventure, and the combination of comedy and adventure is great just so long as you are not put off by that kind of thing.

Christian Bale deserves much credit for his portrayal of the villain Gorr, who is on a personal mission to destroy the "gods".  You need a good villain to make a good superhero movie.  Although Gorr is not as deep of a character as Thanos, and at times might seem a bit superficial, Christian Bale pours his heart into the role.  He gets the job done.

Thor: Love and Thunder streams on Disney+.

Rating:  A-.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Willow 1988


When I saw the movie Willow 34 years ago, it felt inspired.  Many people like me remember loving the film.  Never mind the slightly negative reviews, this was like a retelling of the Star Wars story in a mythical setting, where an evil sorcerer's obsession with a child leads to her undoing.  

The film was a great success for Warwick Davis who played the eponymous character Willow.  He previously played Wicket as a 11-year-old in Return of The Jedi.  He went from being an anonymous extra in a major film to the star of his own movie.  He has since played many characters in Star Wars and other movies and has made a career out of his fame, appearing in all sorts of shows and conventions.

However, 34 years later the movie doesn't feel inspired at all.  It is dated and unoriginal.  It has its moments, but the film is a little slow and too low-budget.  What charm there once was has been lost to time as far better films have come out.

But there is quite possibly a happy ending to this story.  A new Willow TV series is coming out on Disney+ on November 30th.  Let's hope that it redeems the Willow franchise if you can call it that.

Saturday, September 10, 2022


The problem with the 2022 "live-action" Pinocchio is that it fails to justify its existence.  I say this having watched only about the first 20% of the movie.  The 1940 version of Pinocchio has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and for a good reason; it is a triumph of Disney animation.  It is perfect.  Over the last few decades, there have been several second and third-rate Pinocchio movies, but why do we need to watch any of them when there is a much better film that might possibly never be surpassed?

The term "live-action" is a bit relative since the Pinocchio character and other characters like "Honest John" are computer animated.  I am biased since I watched the so-called "live-action" The Lion King and that movie is a scene-for-scene imitation of a much better original, which was just barely as long as it needed to be at 90 minutes to tell an effective story.  The remake was 30 minutes longer and failed to utilize as well the Oscar-winning music from the original.

The Disney computer-animated remakes are a triumph of technology, but I don't go to the movies to watch a video game.  The Lion King remake looks amazingly good, but so does the original animated film. 

The dilemma is that The Lion King remake is 80% as good as the original, which technically makes it a good movie, but why do we need an inferior version of a nearly perfect film?  The Pinocchio remake feels like a good effort, but it still falls short, and there is almost no way that it could have lived up to the original.

It appears that the Disney corporation thinks that we will watch anything just so long as it is new and a little bit different in some way.  

Pinocchio began to lose me during the early cuckoo clocks scene, which in the original was a triumph of animation and humor.  The new versions of the clocks feature many Disney characters, turning the scene into a commercial for other Disney movies.  But then I gave up on the film, at least for now, after a scene where Pinocchio is walking to school and encounters a pile of excrement in the street.  Since Pinocchio hasn't been alive for very long, he doesn't understand what this is and is fascinated by this new experience.  However, if this is the case, why isn't Pinocchio fascinated by a hundred other things in the street that he hasn't seen before?  The scene with the excrement is a bit jarring and feels out of place in a fairy tale.

The fact that Tom Hanks plays Gepetto is interesting and really caught my attention.  He gives a good effort, but I found his presence distracting.  I kept thinking about how the character is played by Tom Hanks.  The movie would feel more authentic, and believable, with an older Italian actor.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

John Williams & Vienna Philharmonic – Williams: Theme from “Jurassic Park”

At the end of season 3 episode 7 of The Orville, I heard a new music theme with just a few notes that sounded vaguely familiar.  With some effort, I figured out what this reminded me of.  

John Williams is a great composer.  I think that the first half of this theme is wonderful.  However, the second half seems repetitive.  I think that the music is meant to be experienced with the movie.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Andor is doing something very risky

“Outer Range”

You can tell the difference between great science fiction, which has many good ideas, and cheap science fiction that usually has just one good idea. I have seen repeatedly the same pattern where a mystery gets presented early on and this mystery does not get solved until the big reveal at the end of the movie, which is the one good idea. A movie that did this really well was the ultra-low budget "The Vast the Night". The problem with Amazon's "Outer Range" is that it takes eight episodes to get to the big reveal, although along the way it gets much mileage out of its mystery.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Thursday, August 4, 2022



My head is "buzzing" after just finishing the Disney Pixar film Lightyear.  A great deal works in this movie, along with scenes that feel weirdly off, plot holes, very questionable physics, time travel shenanigans, and alternate reality.  It is a little too convoluted for a Disney kid's film and I'm pretty sure that I didn't understand all of it.

The first half of the film made me feel like I was watching a B-movie science fiction in an animated kid's film that wasn't funny, which seemed like a half-hearted effort by Pixar.  However, the real meat takes place in the second half, which has enough action to make a Transformers movie proud.  The net result is a somewhat entertaining movie that is messy.

There is no doubt that the movie looks gorgeous.  The level of animation is almost too detailed for objects that are on screen for like 2 seconds, making me want to see more of the things that just fly by.

The movie has one big Twilight-Zone-like twist that doesn't quite make sense.  

The story starts out fairly routine before it eventually ventures into Twilight Zone territory.  Buzz Lightyear is a Space Ranger who accidentally gets his shipmates stranded on a hostile world.  However, the crewmates make the best of their situation, build a habitat that turns into a community, defend themselves from the indigenous life forms, and build an experimental ship in an effort to get off the planet.  Since Lightyear feels bad about that accident that stranded them, he makes multiple failed attempts to break the light barrier in the experimental ship.  Each attempt sends him about four years into the future, which as portrayed in the movie makes no sense.  He watches his shipmates grow old and die as he keeps trying.  When he finally does succeed, he finds himself further into the future than expected, and the community under attack from extraterrestrial robots.  He must band together with the descendants of his former shipmates against this new threat.

Initially, Lightyear does not trust new recruits, trusting only himself, but later feels bad over his own failures.  Circumstances force him to work with a team of pretty inexperienced rookies, which he does not want to do, but he eventually realizes that he cannot do everything on his own.

Rating:  B.

Lightyear is available for streaming on Disney Plus.

The initial reviews for Lightyear said that it was not only a good Pixar film but also a very good science fiction movie.  However, I think that both assertions are debatable.  Nevertheless, with such good reviews, I wanted to see the movie, but I was not quite ready to return to theaters because of COVID.  

The movie did poorly at the Box Office, quickly going to Disney Plus streaming, but not because of COVID.  Many conservative voices tried very hard to organize a boycott against the film, and this effort had some success.  The problem was a "lesbian kiss" in what is presumably a kid's film, even though this scene takes about 1 second of screen time and is handled delicately with a married same-sex couple.  I fail to see why this would be an issue in the year 2022 because it represents the world that we live in now.  Most kids are fully aware of these issues.  Nevertheless, prominent conservative voices were vowing to not let their kids see the movie, which is perhaps their loss.

When it comes to controversial issues, science fiction has often been the first to break new ground.  All the way back in 1995, Star Trek Deep Space Nine had a passionate female-on-female kiss, but this made sense within the science fiction story.  Certain shows, like Deep Space Nine, Star Trek The Next Generation, The Orville, and the animated series Final Space, had alien species with either just one gender or alien species that could change gender.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Obi-Wan Kenobi as a 2.5 hour movie

I am in the process of watching the Kenobi series for the 2nd time.  This project originally started as a stand-alone movie, but the failure of Solo got it changed to a series instead.

A fan has cut the series down to a 2.5-hour movie.  Presumably, the pacing is better.

I expect that Disney will shut this down as fast as possible.

I was disappointed that an early but important scene with a young Princess Leia got cut.

It would be interesting if the actual director were to turn it into a 2.5 to 3-hour movie.  That is a bit long, but I watched a 4 hour Snyder cut of Justice League on HBO Max and I loved it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - MODERN TRAILER - 4K || (2022)

The original trailers for the Star Wars movies were hokey by modern standards.

Wow. I'm impressed This is nearly perfect.  Still my favorite movie.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Targeting Computer Was Never Going to Work

Marcia Lucas, the former wife of George Lucas, is the unsung hero of the original Star Wars movie, along with other editors including Martin Scorsese.  The first cut of the film was not very good, and the movie was saved by re-editing using a combination of four editors who were rushed to get the film out on time.  Marcia Lucas edited the fantastic Death Star assault.

She would later divorce George Lucas.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Why Lightyear Bombed At The Box Office

I would like to see both Maverick and Lightyear.  Not ready to go back to the theater.

I liked both "Soul" and "Onward."

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Eye in the Sky

Eye in the Sky is a 2015 war thriller starring Helen Miran, Alan Rickman, and Aaron Paul.  This was Alan Rickman's last movie before succumbing to pancreatic cancer.

 A military operation uses a Predator UAV to track a group of highly wanted terrorists to a house in Kenya where a couple of suicide bombings are being prepared.  Since the Predator is equipped with a couple of Hellfire missiles, and there is an imminent threat, the logical thing to do is to blow up the house from the air.  

However, there is a problem.  A little girl from the same neighborhood starts selling loaves of bread baked by her mother just outside the house with the terrorists inside.  The conflict of the film is what to do about the little girl?   This is a decision that goes up and down the command chain and gets debated hotly as a moral conundrum.

The movie also uses a couple of micro-drones disguised as animals that may not really exist.  We don't know for sure what secret technology the military may have.

Is this an anti-war film?  Maybe.  But it also debates the morality of fighting a war with drones from thousands of miles away where the participants are safe from the consequences.

The tension in this movie is fantastic.  It also shows how competing political interests might fight over life and death decisions.  Although this is a work of fiction, it is easy to imagine that scenarios like this have played out for real.

Rating:  A.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

No Time to Die


If it weren't for its length, No Time To Die might be considered the best Bond Film.  This is a beautifully made movie that stretches out too long.  It has a complex plot that is rich in detail, and it feels more realistic than earlier Bond films.  However, too much is not explained; it is hard to understand the motivation of the villains or how their plans make any sense.

Almost all of the movie's technology feels like science fiction.  The plot revolves around killer nanobots that can assassinate specific people or groups based on their DNA.  We also see a variety of Bond gadgets that don't seem realistic at our current level of technology.   As unrealistic as all this technology is, it will likely seem outdated in a couple of decades.  For example, I think that the future of biotechnology won't be nanobots, which in science fiction are typically presented as all-powerful capable of doing almost anything, but instead will be actual biotechnology using genetics and microorganisms.

There is a scene early in the film where a Bond car is shown to be bulletproof, despite having normal-looking windows.  Real bulletproof glass can be up to 3.5 inches thick.  I would not expect thin car windows to withstand a massive barrage of bullets as they do in this scene.

Daniel Craig is great as Bond.  Christoph Waltz has a really good but all too brief scene as Blofeld.  Lashana Lynch is good as a female 007, but Rami Malek steals the show as the new creepy villain.  He will be playing Robert Oppenheimer in a 2023 film.

I can't count the number of people who get shot in this 160-minute movie.  It might be a hundred or more.  Almost every minute one or more people are getting killed.  Given current events with gun violence, maybe we shouldn't glorify death on such a mass scale.

Rating:  B+.  The movie is streaming on Amazon Prime.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Why Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi Is a Masterpiece

The Last Jedi has a few annoying flaws:

1.  The movie opens with some silly humor where pilot Poe Dameron taunts The First Order Fleet.  This didn't bother me much and it is the least of the film's problems.  However, it set a nagging tone that maybe this was going to be a slightly different Star Wars movie.

2.  After Genera (Princes) Leia Organa is blown into space, she is able to use the Force to draw her back to the ship where she enters through an airlock that can be barely seen.  Many people missed the airlock so the scene didn't make sense to them, but more importantly, they didn't like the image of Leia flying through space, calling the scene "Carrie Poppins."  However, I really liked the scene because Leia was able to use the Force to save herself.

3.  After Leia is in a coma, the Rebels are commanded by Admiral Holdo, who looks nothing like a Star Wars Rebel, but more like a Professor of Gender Studies.  Later it is mildly implied that she might be in a relationship with Leia.  She gives Poe a dressing down for his heroics, making her a very annoying jerk, but later she becomes a hero.

4. It is revealed that in a moment of weakness, Luke Skywalker saw the evil darkness in his student Kylo Ren, and for a brief moment wanted to kill Kylo in his sleep.  This scene is told from 2 or 3 different perspectives.  From Kylo's perspective, Luke is a mad killer.  From Luke's perspective, he momentarily gave in to temptation.  However, this image of Luke Skywalker as the mad killer caused some people to reject the movie entirely.

5.  Luke Skywalker is portrayed as a broken man who has withdrawn from the fight.  He is no longer a hero, although the ending gives him redemption.

6.  Rose Tiko could have been a great character, but she has a few brief moments of really annoying dialogue, mostly political lecturing.  People hated her more than they should have.

7.  The middle of the film has a detour to a gambling planet called Canto Bight.  Some people claim that this scene drags on forever, like 30 minutes, but the total screen time is only around 12 minutes. I actually don't think that the scene is bad, but the tone of it is all over the place alternating between comedy, social commentary, and an extended chase scene on space horses.

8.  There is a slow-speed chase through space that makes very little sense in a Star Wars context.

For some people, one or more of these flaws is a deal killer. They rejected the movie completely.  However, for me, these are all minor problems because the rest of the movie is terrific.  It has great themes, terrific imagery, plenty of action, and much character drama.  The rest of it is what a Star Wars movie should be.  I was annoyed like everyone else with parts of it, but I was thoroughly entertained nevertheless.

I think that The Last Jedi is the best of the sequel trilogy.  The first film was too much of a repeat of the original Star Wars movie.  The third film, episode 9, although somewhat entertaining, is not very logical and for me the most disappointing of all 9 films.

Friday, June 3, 2022

How Bad Movies Are Made feat. The Rise of Skywalker

I found this fascinating.  I think of "The Rise of Skywalker" as a bit of a failure, even if it is somewhat entertaining, due more to the strength of the characters rather than the strength of its story.

According to the video, the problem with the production was that it was rushed, and they kept changing their minds on what they wanted to do with the story.  The movie also feels rushed, and incoherent.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

How Order 66 Became the Best Scene in Star Wars

The Star Wars spinoff series add much more context to the movies.  Jedi characters only briefly seen in the movies are much more fleshed out.  The clone troopers are also much more fleshed out.

Aningaaq (HD)

This little short film was made as a companion to the movie Gravity which I really loved.  Dr. Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, is stranded in space.  She picks up a signal from Earth and tries to ask for help.  Unfortunately, they don't speak the same language.  This shows the conversation from the other side.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Netflix customers mad over plan to charge for password sharing

This has not yet come to the US.  It is being tried first in other countries.  It sounds like it might cost $3 extra per month.  Maybe it will cost more when it comes to the U.S.

Friday, February 18, 2022



In 1898 Pierre and Marie Curie working in a Paris laboratory discovered two radioactive elements, Polonium, named after her native country of Poland, and Radium.  Both are radioactive, and the Curie's showed for the first time that radioactive energy comes from inside atoms and that such radioactive elements decay into other elements.  This refuted the existing notion that atoms were indestructible.  For these discoveries, they won the Nobel Prize together.  After her husband's death, Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize a second time in the field of chemistry.

The Amazon Prime movie Radioactive won me over, but not till the sentimental ending, which is similar to the ending of "Edge of Darkness".   The movie has been criticized for focussing on Marie Curies' sex life, and also for some bizarre and jolting editing choices where the film will switch from the discovery of Radium, suddenly to the dropping of the atomic bomb and the Chernobyl nuclear accident, as if the Curie's should have foreseen the terrible consequences of radioactivity decades into the future.

Also, the movie jumps decades quickly.  This is what happens when you fit a person's entire life, especially one as rich as Marie Curie's, into 100 minutes.

Marie Curie died in 1934 at age 66 from anemia caused by her frequent exposure to radioactive substances.  Her husband, Pierre, died in an accident in 1906, but he was also sick from radiation.

The movie portrays Marie Curie as not the most pleasant person in the world.  She was not the best at personal relationships nor very amicable.  She was a very down to business kind of person who as a woman struggled to get the respect that she deserved.  She would eventually become highly regarded in the scientific community. 

Rosamund Pike's performance as Marie Curie is particularly good.  

Rating:  B+.


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+.

Superman Returns


I feel like Superman Returns gets a bad wrap.  Roger Ebert said, "This is a glum, lackluster movie in which even the big effects sequences seem dutiful instead of exhilarating."  On the other hand, Richard Roeper said, "... while I can't call it a home run, I'll say it's a solid base hit."    

Perhaps the problem with the 2006 film is that it was an attempt to make a more modern Superman movie.  Something that fits into a post 9-11 world.  It has a more realistic feel to it compared to the 1978 original, although the year 2006 no longer feels modern.  The movie is starting to feel dated.

I like the movie. I like the many themes it touches on. I love Kevin Spacey's performance as Lex Luthor. Somehow the execution is faulty. Its ideas are better than its implementation. Everything rushes by too quickly.

The film really is a bit more glum.  It turns into a well-made soap opera.  There is an extreme emphasis on a love triangle between Superman, Lois Lane, and her new husband, as if dealing with relationships makes the movie more modern.  It is a more emotional take on Superman, but interesting nevertheless.

The movie is essentially a sequel to Superman II.  Brandon Routh looks similar to Christopher Reeve who played in the previous Superman movies, but he doesn't look as muscular as Christopher Reeve did.  He doesn't fit the muscular image of Superman that audiences are used to.

For a movie with a 200 million dollar budget, I would have expected more. It doesn't look as good as it should. Most of the film is too dark or too murky. However, it still makes for passable entertainment.

The movie sets us up for a sequel that never came.  Superman Returns was supposed to be a reboot of the franchise, which got rebooted again in 2013 by Man of Steel.  Apparently, this wasn't the Superman we were looking for.

Rating:  B.

Munich: The Edge of War

In September 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain along with representatives from other countries went to Munich to negotiate a peace agreement with Adolf Hilter.  As part of this agreement, they conceded part of Czechoslovakia to Germany.  Chamberlain returned to England with agreement in hand claiming victory having secured peace with Germany.  History regards Chamberlain as a naive pacifist who got bamboozled by Hitler, as many people in the British government also regarded Chamberlain at the time.  When war broke out one year later, this lead to him being replaced as Prime Minister by Winston Churchill in May 1940.

Part of my problem with this two-hour Netflix movie is that I was confused by what I was watching.  I thought maybe I was watching a historical reenactment of actual events, but the story is an adaptation of a spy novel, "Munich", by author Robert Harris.  It is about two classmates and friends at Oxford who go on to serve their respective governments in England and Germany.  Paul is part of a plot to overthrow Hitler, and he doesn't want the peace agreement to be signed.  The plan is to arrest Hitler after he aggressively invades Czechoslavakia.  He arranges for his estranged friend, Hugh, to be part of the British delegation to Munich so that he can pass stolen documents to him to dissuade Chamberlain from signing the peace agreement.  The documents outline Germany's plans to invade the rest of Europe.  The conspirators succeed in getting the documents to Chamberlain, but he has no interest in them because he wants to continue the peace process.


The two-hour movie covers such a limited time period that I felt shortchanged.  I wanted to know more about these characters and the events that followed, but the movie ends with Chamberlain's return to Great Britain and the failure of the spy plot.  

However, the high production quality and good acting make this movie worth watching.  Jeremy Irons is delightful as Chamberlain.  George MacKay and Jannis Niewöhner are good, playing their characters as people a little in over their heads.  Hannes Wegener is great as a sadistic SS officer who is a former classmate of Paul's but suspects him of being part of a cabal.

The movie has been called revisionist because the ending portrays Chamberlain as being more clever than he may have actually been.  According to the film, Chamberlain made the peace agreement with Hitler to buy time for England to prepare for war.

Rating:  B+.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Highlander Doesn't Need A Remake

The first Highlander movie was barely okay.  I enjoyed the TV series, although it was also just barely okay.   I think that both are probably dated by now.

Reportedly all the sequel movies that followed were very bad.  It is a shame because none of this immortal crap makes any sense.  I was hoping for a good resolution that would also explain everything.

Clancy Brown is one of my favorite actors.