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Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

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If there is one well-known comic book character that largely doesn't translate to the modern day it is Captain America.  Conceived in the Golden Age of comics, he did his job well: fought Nazis, provided a more youthful anthropomorphic incarnation of the United States than Uncle Sam and embodied much of what people at the time believed in.  When Stan Lee revived him during the Silver Age, it was still before we got too deep into Vietnam, and to his credit he did a lot to overcome a character that, even at the time, had become quite corny.

As usual, I don't really follow comics.  I know that some writer have tried to add a bit more angst the character and update it as much as possible, but even as a young kid Captain America was not one of my favorite super heroes.  Previous attempts to bring him to both the small and big screen had been abysmal, and at the time the first movie came out featuring him, the Marvel movies themselves had been of uneven quality.  I know the first t…

Moonraker (1979)

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It seems silly to feel sorry for a movie.  It's an inanimate object made by a crew of people that outnumber the population of some of the towns in the state I live.  Sure, they're art, and everyone involved are artists in their own way, from writing the script to building the set.  When it is being made the movie is definitely alive but, once it's done, it's there for all to see.  Sure, some of the people involved sometimes like to try to make it better, but often come up with the equivalent of Monkey Jesus for all their efforts.

So, why do I feel sorry for Moonraker?  I definitely don't feel sorry for Roger Moore, who had a better late-life career than most actor.  Albert Broccoli I'm sure wanted for nothing until the end of his days.  Director Lewis Gilbert had the previous film, The Spy Who Loved Me. also known as the movie that saved the series at that point, to his credit.  Still, I can't help but watch Moonraker and feel pity, as I feel throughout th…

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

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With everything set up and ready to go with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, Peter Jackson got into the meat of the story with The Two Towers.  It is obvious filming the way he did presented challenges, but it was good that he did - J. R. R. Tolkien, after all, wrote the whole thing as one grand epic, and divided it where it needed to be.  That is why it frustrated me when Fellowship originally came out and there was complaining about where it ended.  It was almost as if many viewers didn't know it was a book series divided up in specific places to make sure each one told a significant part of the story.

While George R. R. Martin, and HBO's adaptation of his books in the Game of Thrones series have certainly tried to emulate this (taking the battle of Helm's Deep from this part of the story as inspiration for its many battles, both in the book and on TV), The Lord of the Rings has benefited from being a complete work from its beginning.  While a bunch o…

I Am Mother (2019)

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There has always been a major gap between literary and cinematic science fiction.  There are exceptions (usually for the youth market in the past, although young adult novels have significantly changed), but even in the Golden Age of science fiction, where many authors knowingly got the science wrong, the focus was largely on ideas.  Aliens, robots and giant spaceships were background; typically the focus was on the human condition and moral dilemmas.  Look at most classic (and modern) science fiction literature and you find the big bad guy is usually something humans brought on themselves.

On the big screen it has always been spectacle that stood out.  Arguably 2001: A Space Odyssey is a much better movie than any Star Wars film save The Empire Strikes Back, but even a large part of 2001's audience were there to watch the light show at the end rather than to ponder humanity's ultimate evolutionary end and place in the universe.  Watching World War II style dogfights in space…

Twice Upon a Time (1983)

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I often find the stories behind some of the movies I watch to be more interesting than the movies themselves.  Perhaps that is when it comes to strange cult movies like The Room the movie is spawns about the movie and the people behind it is often more enjoyable than sitting through the actual movie.  Twice Upon a Time thankfully is not anywhere near the level of terrible as The Room; in fact, it's not terrible at all, and is at times quite interesting to watch. It's just that its history and its ultimate fate is more interesting than what got made.

At the time Twice Upon a Time was made, Ladd Company, the studio that made it, was going under.  They also made The Right Stuff at the same time which, even though it didn't keep the studio from going bankrupt, has become a classic of the 1980s, while this little cartoon as largely disappeared into obscurity.  The story was largely written by John Korty (who also directed) and Bill Coutouri√©, along with Suella Kennedy.  A stor…

Thor (2011)

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As Kevin Feige, the man behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, began to get his army of writers in line to make some sense of proceedings as a promised Avengers movie approached, it was time to look beyond Earth for inspiration.  Iron Man had two movies, and what was often a second-tier hero suddenly became the center of a film franchise.  The Incredible Hulk was a bit more popular, but neither movie that had been made featuring him managed to match the entertainment value of a 1970s television show, thus the green guy was on the back burner.

Disney had acquired the rights to the MCU in 2009, although they still had a number of movies to pump out to fulfill their contract with Paramount.  Sony still held the rights to Spider-Man, while 21st Century Fox had the X-Men, so with a major superhero jam session looming it was important to get in some heavy hitters.  It came as no surprise that, after all these years, we would get a Thor movie.

It made sense why this had never been done befor…

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

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Roger Moore was not off to the best start as James Bond.  Live and Let Diewas somewhat popular, but unfortunately was rather quite silly.  The goodwill that movie received did not quite carry over to The Man with the Golden Gun, as it did not score well with audiences or critics.  Co-producer Harry Saltzman had blown most of his money, forcing him to sell out his ownership in the series, and once again Kevin McClory was finding things to sue EON Productions for.

That is also ignoring the fact that the James Bond series was utterly failing to keep up with the times.  The character was becoming a cartoon and the Bond girls bimbos.  The supporting characters were sometimes interesting, but given little to do.  While Moore portrayed Bond with style and finesse, the villains were the only other thing that was interesting in either of the two films, and poor Yaphet Kotto found himself turned into a balloon while Christopher Lee got a coat of paint to look Cuban.

Many things needed to chang…