\movies

2018.12.21AQUAMAN

Image of an AQUAMAN promotional poster. Image credit: DC

This movie was awful.

Perhaps Marvel has spoiled us into thinking that all superhero movies are good. With AQUAMAN, DC has shown us that they're desperate to be Marvel.

Yes, of course Jason Momoa is a handsome man. But the first half of the movie felt rushed -- they tried to pack too much into it. I thought the last third of the movie was what it should have been all along, in terms of pace and direction.

Pros:

  • Jason Momoa: handsome, funny.

Cons:

  • Nicole Kidman in a Predator outfit
  • Willem DeFoe digitally regressed to 20 years old
  • I can go on.

The good news is that by the end of the movie, Aquaman is the badass they made him out to be in Justice League.



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2018.06.23Red Sparrow

Image of a Red Sparrow promotional poster. Image credit: 20th Century Fox

From my initial post, after seeing the movie in mid-March: "A friend asked me what I thought about Red Sparrow, the new spy thriller featuring Jeremy Irons and Jennifer Lawrence. My response: 'It was an action movie trifecta of violence, suspense, and nudity.'"

I bought a copy of the movie today. What sold me, apart from the aforementioned "trifecta," was the price: $9.99. To me, a layperson, that seems the price of an underperforming movie -- particularly when rental is only $3 cheaper. (I think iTunes reported its Rotten Tomatoes rating at 47%.)

Doesn't matter. I expected to pay more for it, so I'm delighted to download it on the cheap.



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2018.06.09Solo: A Star Wars Story

Image of a Solo: A Star Wars Story promotional poster. Image credit: Lucasfilm

I loved Solo: A Star Wars Story. Directed by the legendary Ron Howard (who put his brother Clint in it, as always), it masterfully created for us the characters of Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian and the relationship Solo shared with each.

I particularly enjoyed Donald Glover as Lando. He was Lando, effortlessly reproducing Billy Dee Williams' verbal swagger as if Billy Dee borrowed it from him.

I don't know why Solo hasn't done better in the box office. Perhaps it's because Alden Ehrenreich does not resemble Harrison Ford. It's kind of the elephant in the room. I liked Ehrenreich as Han, but it just seemed to me there was something missing... his handsome face just didn't plausibly resemble a young Ford.

Still, that shouldn't stop you from seeing and enjoying this movie, because there is much to love about it. Ron Howard takes us through a few chapters in Solo's early life and matures him, with great detail, into the character we've known for forty years. He does this in overt and in subtle ways. The astute audience member is constantly surrounded by the overt ways, with lots and lots of lines in that movie that you've heard before. Perhaps the best example of a subtle way was his standoff with Beckett near the end of the film. No spoilers here, but there's a message in that scene that plays to some furor created in a re-release of Episode IV. (Hint: I'm talking about the Cantina scene.)

There's also a huge surprise that reaches back to the time of Episode I that seems to intimate there's more to Solo: A Star Wars Story.

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2018.03.19Red Sparrow

Image of a Red Sparrow promotional poster. Image credit: 20th Century Fox

A friend asked me what I thought about Red Sparrow, the new spy thriller featuring Jeremy Irons and Jennifer Lawrence. My response: "It was an action movie trifecta of violence, suspense, and nudity."

And I stand by that. Red Sparrow was unnerving, erotic, and uncomfortable; it was sickening (I'll be avoiding thinly-sliced cheese and bacon for a while), bloodthirsty, and didn't reveal itself until the very end.

And, as you could expect with the description I've given, don't let your tweenagers see it. I am continually surprised at the content my daughter has seen -- or at least knows about. We told her we went to see it and she was instantly all over us asking how it was. The right answer: "Not appropriate for you, my dear."

By the way -- I couldn't help but notice the likeness between the character Vanya Egorov (played by Matthias Schoenaerts) and Vladimir Putin.



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2017.12.30UPDATED: A Few (More) Thoughts on STAR WARS: The Last Jedi

Image of a Star Wars: The Last Jedi promotional poster. Image credit: Lucasarts

No spoilers here. Go see it.

The latest installment of the Star Wars franchise is certainly a good story, with lots of action and excitement, infused with more humor and notably more racially diverse than were the previous stories.

I left the film feeling a little confused. Oh, of course it was a good show -- but there were a couple of things in the film that left were a little awkward.

The first has to do with General Leia following an attack on her command ship. The first part of this scene was actually captured in one of the trailers. In retrospect, what followed seemed a bit uncomfortable, bordering on absurd, although Luke seems to support the notion with a key sentence or two of his dialog.

The second happens at the very end -- a scene that seemed appended to the script, really, to appease Disney. I thought it was completely cheap, played directly to young kids, and seemed intended to support Disney merchandising.

A note on cinematography: When the Star Wars franchise first dipped their toe into 3-D, they did it with Episode I and did so in a very understated way, using shading to emphasize spatial relationships instead of adding some really in-your-face effects. I believe The Last Jedi was done in much the same way. I can't recall the urge to dodge anything that seemed to be flying right at me. My point here is simply that I feel you won't really miss out on anything with the 2-D show.

JJ Abrams, credited with the revival of the Star Trek franchise, certainly left his thumbprint on the Star Wars saga. He seems to have a penchant for taking dialog from previous movies and playing with it in the context of the current scene. He did it with Kirk and Spock in Star Trek: Into Darkness and he does it again here.

Once again, a very worthy addition to the Star Wars saga.

UPDATE:

I just saw the movie for a second time. There was a bit of humor in the movie that, when I first saw it, I failed to recognize as homage to Hardware Wars, an early parody of Episode IV.



We laughed. We cried. We kissed three bucks goodbye. Well played, Abrams and company.

Also, Add an Item 3 to the list of things that don't quite add up: There is no gravity in space. On its face, it doesn't seem like a World War II-style bombing raid on a space cruiser would work.



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2017.12.15A Few Thoughts on STAR WARS: The Last Jedi

Image of a Star Wars: The Last Jedi promotional poster. Image credit: Lucasarts

No spoilers here. Go see it.

The latest installment of the Star Wars franchise is certainly a good story, with lots of action and excitement, infused with more humor and notably more racially diverse than were the previous stories.

I left the film feeling a little confused. Oh, of course it was a good show -- but there were a couple of things in the film that left were a little awkward.

The first has to do with General Leia following an attack on her command ship. The first part of this scene was actually captured in one of the trailers. In retrospect, what followed seemed a bit uncomfortable, bordering on absurd, although Luke seems to support the notion with a key sentence or two of his dialog.

The second happens at the very end -- a scene that seemed appended to the script, really, to appease Disney. I thought it was completely cheap, played directly to young kids, and seemed intended to support Disney merchandising.

A note on cinematography: When the Star Wars franchise first dipped their toe into 3-D, they did it with Episode I and did so in a very understated way, using shading to emphasize spatial relationships instead of adding some really in-your-face effects. I believe The Last Jedi was done in much the same way. I can't recall the urge to dodge anything that seemed to be flying right at me. My point here is simply that I feel you won't really miss out on anything with the 2-D show.

JJ Abrams, credited with the revival of the Star Trek franchise, certainly left his thumbprint on the Star Wars saga. He seems to have a penchant for taking dialog from previous movies and playing with it in the context of the current scene. He did it with Kirk and Spock in Star Trek: Into Darkness and he does it again here.

Once again, a very worthy addition to the Star Wars saga.

UPDATE:

I just saw the movie for a second time. Add an Item 3 to the list of things that don't quite add up: There is no gravity in space. On its face, it doesn't seem like a World War II-style bombing raid on a space cruiser would work.



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