Sunday, January 23, 2022

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.

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.

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.

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.)
Cloud Atlas
The Fault in Our Stars
The Right Stuff
Children of Men
Son of Saul (might be very troubling to some)
American Sniper
The Impossible.
The Theory of Everything.
Inside Out
Ender's Game
Pacific Rim
About Time.
In Time.
The Searchers
The Hunger Games
Superman Returns
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.


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



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.

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


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