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Annihilation (2018)

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Alex Garland and Denis Villeneuve both seem bound and determined to change how science fiction movies are made.  The past has largely been big epics, like the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises.  However, on the fringe has always been more subtle movies, like Gattaca or Her, that was more than mythmaking and laser battles.  Science fiction fans, despite what some grumpy old English teachers used to think, are largely drawn to the ideas presented and where the author goes with the ideas rather than grand action scenes.  That is what made Gattaca such a breath of fresh air.  I just wonder why it took another 20 years for someone to get the point.

Garland's Ex Machina helped to set the tune, and it did reasonably well enough to let him adapt part of a series of books called the Southern Reach Trilogy, by Jeff VanderMeer.  I guess adaptation is the best word, because Garland stated he just used the parts he remembered.  The rest, intentional or not, plays out like a modern remake of …

Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

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Watching Resident Evil: ApocalypseI found myself wondering why I had watched these movies previously.  I had some vague recollection of the series getting better after the first movie, but in vague memories are all I really have of most of them.  In this case the original was much better than I remembered.

The second movie, while having some good set pieces and an awesome monster at the end, was barely a movie, occupied by just the thinnest excuses of characters.  Things happened, but nothing really that couldn't have been dealt with by adding an extra half hour at the end of the original Resident Evil.  Other than the movies being something for me to watch when they came on cable and I was bored, I couldn't really see much reason why I stuck with it if the second was so shallow.

Resident Evil: Extinction is what redeems the series at this point, reminding me why I stuck with it.  Even the star of the film almost refused to come back to do a third after her disappointment with…

Goldfinger (1964)

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After a great introduction in Dr. Noand a fleshing out of the character in From Russia with Love, James Bond returned, as promised from the last movie, in Goldfinger.  There are some changes: Bond's on again/off again girlfriend Sylvia Trench is gone, as is director Terence Young.  Guy Hamilton takes over.  Also, instead of being buried within the film like most '60s movie themes, Shirley Bassey's title song roars over the opening credits as scenes from the movie are projected on a bikini-clad Shirley Eaton.  Also, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is nowhere to be seen.

And thus you are introduced to the pinnacle of the Sean Connery era of James Bond films, and the one that is most fondly remembered by many fans.  We're still jumping around, with Goldfinger being the seventh of Ian Fleming's original series of novels, and, even though he got to visit the set, Fleming passed away before the premiere.  Still, it would have been something for him to be proud of: it's short, exciti…

Legend (1985)

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As a kid in the 1980s I got to see a number of movies now considered classics when they first hit the theaters.  Many of the classic Spielberg films, for instance.  What I didn't get to see in the theater inevitably turned up on cable a year later and, with video stores, soon started showing up even sooner.  So, why would I have not seen Legend by now?

That is a good question to try and figure out.  I've loved Tim Curry ever since first seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and him playing the part of Darkness in this movie is considered one of his iconic roles.  Despite his Scientology garbage I tend to like many of the movies that Tom Cruise has been in, particularly in the 1990s and 2000s.  Despite the fact I was never a big fan of Cruise until I saw Rain Man (considered him more of a pretty-boy actor that girls were interested in), I can't even say it was the fact he was in the movie that kept me away.  In truth, at one time I could have sworn this starred Matthew Bro…

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)

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I discovered the Black Mirror television series due to an episode of The Orville that had been similar in theme to one of its episodes.  They were obviously not copies of either, but largely a reflection of fears of social media and modern American life.  It was the first time I had found an anthology series in years that did what The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Dark Side did so well: take modern societal concerns and take them to extremes to great effect.

Like most fans I have been waiting for the newest season, and so far what we got is a movie event.  Not only that, but it takes it a step further, making the movie interactive.  As predicted with modern media criticism, the fact that it does not reach some sort of pinnacle of perfection has made it an immediate target for hate and derision from a number of critics, which I hate to say is largely because most of them really got so involved in the gimmick that they didn't realize what the movie itself was trying to say.

Stef…

Gremlins (1984)

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What defines a Christmas movie?  Unfortunately, it's usually sickeningly maudlin, saccharine displays of family and holiday cheer, often times riffing on the same old themes of A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life.  That may be why so many people are more than happy to include Die Hardalongside Miracle on 34th Street for their holiday viewing.

Despite what some may think, Die Hard, with all its violent themes and satire of '80s movies cliches, is also at heart a movie about a man who just wants to get together with his family (perhaps for the last time) on Christmas.  It has some dark themes, but so do current modern standards like A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  The best scenes out of both recall not just the happiness of the season (which is largely marketing anyway), but the real stress that families are under, both emotionally and financially, to make this a good time of year for the children.

Gremlins takes many of those dark u…

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

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Kick-Ass, though flawed in a number of ways, was still quite interesting in the way that it tried to be different.  The heroes were motivated in some ways to do good, but Big Daddy had no problem embracing what he would have to become to achieve his goals.  He knew what he had done to his daughter but, unlike his former partner Marcus, had no regrets about the choices he made.  He had a single purpose: bring down Frank D'Amico's underworld empire. 

In the end, though Big Daddy died violently on a live broadcast, his goal was met when Dave Lizewsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), aka Kick-Ass, killed D'Amico by shooting him out a window with a bazooka.  Kick-Ass the superhero came into his own and, in truth, really reached the end of his ark.  Mindy McCready (Chloe Grace-Moretz), otherwise known as Hit Girl, reached hers as well, avenging the deaths of both her mom and her dad at D'Amico's hand.

There was one factor left unfulfilled: Frank's son Chris (Christopher Mintz…