Showing posts from 2019

Iron Man (2008)

Before we saw the pattern repeated ad nauseum.  Before the idea of an entire Marvel Universe existed.  Before Disney took over. 

There was Iron Man.  And, for many, there was also Robert Downey, Jr. suddenly not being a tragic punchline.

Robert Downey, Jr.'s career had begun to recover before Iron Man.  Tropic Thundercame out the same year, and he had both sobered and up and somewhat come to grips with how he was destroying his life.  For me he had been interesting at one point - Natural Born Killers instinctively comes to mind - but for the longest time I found myself being more interested in his dad's weird, independent art films than him. 

What we did have with the junior Downey as a millionaire playboy with some major substance abuse problems whose dad had been an innovator of sorts, but who himself at that point had become less of a prodigy even if he did have more to offer than what you saw on the surface.  That his own personal life in some ways mirrored Tony Stark con…

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

The majority of James Bond films have had little to nothing to do with the books.  Some characters, locations and general plot points are kept, but the movies and Ian Fleming's original novels and short stories are two different creatures.  The other thing you realize early on, especially as new actors began taking on the roll of the world's most famous secret agent over the years, is that internal consistency is also rather shaky.  Still, after James Bond finally finds love and gets married, only to have Blofeld and his henchwoman kill his new bride shortly after the wedding at the end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, it frustrated me that it affected the following movies so little.

Turns out that was not always the plan.  When George Lazenby was still attached to Diamonds Are Forever it was supposed to be the main theme - Bond taking revenge upon Blofeld for Tracy's death.  A number of things happened in the two years between the movies: Lazenby, upon some bad ad…

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Ant-Manwas far from one of my favorite Marvel movies.  I thought of it as Deadpoollite, as the Ryan Reynolds film was already being talked up at the time Paul Rudd's superhero hit the big screen.  It felt like Marvel introduced Ant-Man in an attempt to jump on the humorous anti-hero bandwagon, and maybe try to do an end-run like Deep Space 9 did with Babylon 5

For me, the character was barely interesting.  I believe a typical Marvel cameo was thrown in for no reason (something that they seem to have been avoiding in recent films), but largely it felt like it had nothing to do with the larger story they were trying to (sporadically) tell.  That was until Ant-Man became the cameo, showing up to lend his aid to his favorite star-spangled hero in Captain America: Civil WarHere Ant-Man revealed his power to grow in both directions, and was more interesting in the few minutes of screen time he had than in the entire solo movie.  It didn't help that Ant-Man meant sitting through…

Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)

Test audiences.  Just have to love them.  Drag in random people off the street, a number of whom think magic is Satanic, nudity will make degenerates of our children and that the louder the movie is, the better.  Unfortunately, the opinions of these random people result in major changes in movies, or in completed films never seeing the light of day. 

Such was the fate of Nothing Lasts Forever.  In all honesty I cannot understand why executives would drag in tests audiences for this.  It's a small budget art film by former Saturday Night Live writer Tom Schiller, paying tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood while taking some jabs at people who think that art happens by osmosis.  It's amusing, cinema fans would love it, and once it gets over some initial silliness it is quite enjoyable.  However, no one would mistake this for a mainstream box office film, even with Bill Murray making an appearance.

Adam Beckett (Zach Galligan) wants desperately to be an artist, but can't f…

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

I recently read an article on Cracked that stated that no matter how you feel about Paul W. S. Anderson's films he has a knack of filming spooky corridors.  So, of course, as I finally reach the end of the Resident Evil series, I find myself looking at corridors, hallways and passageways.  And, lo and behold, that laser corridor from the first movie shows up once again.

This leaves me tempted to speak about the passage of time between the first and final movie.  About the twists and turns through which this corridor has led us.  I guess I could say I have been in it for the long hall.

But that would leave me negating the fact that, as good as this is for the end of this expensive (and successful) string of b-movies, that reaching the end of the line once again exposed a number of the frustrations that have popped up throughout the entire series.  On top of that there are plenty of problems this time around as well, not least that it looks like it was edited by a hyperactive five-…

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

It may come as a surprise that "nerd rage" is not really anything new.  It didn't really get a name in recent years, but it is definitely a thing that has affected film franchises (and definitely book series and comic book franchises) for decades.  One of the worst cases in the past was when Sean Connery decided to call it quits on playing James Bond.

Connery started getting sick of the character while filming Thunderball, and things only got worse with all the publicity surrounding You Only Live TwiceThough offered an outrageous amount of money to return for On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Connery walked, and the search for a new Bond was on.  Eventually that search resulted in casting an Australian car salesman and model named George Lazenby.

Lazenby had absolutely no acting experience, and largely bluffed his way into the audition.  Still, his dedication resulted in him landing the role and a seven-movie deal.  Unfortunately, the nerd rage settled in, with Br…

Bad Taste (1987)

Every director has their starting point, and often it is a labor of love.  Rarely a masterpiece, and Bad Taste definitely isn't, but typically a budding film maker will learn a lot about what they can do and can't do, and many ways to overcome the latter.  It's that one film that you make on weekends with your friends, most of you playing multiple roles and taking on many roles on and off the camera. 

And, if you are in New Zealand, you may just find yourself getting some government funds and a pat on the back even if what you are making is a violent alien invasion comedy. 

Bad Taste took four years to make.  In that time, one of the cast members got married, left the production, got divorced and returned.  Hairstyles, sock colors and other continuity errors pop up.  The actor playing the lead villain passed away.  Ultimately, the result was a movie that laid the foundation for director Peter Jackson to make the movie Braindead (released in the United States as Dead Alive)…

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

I sometimes do not know who is trying to kill the Star Wars franchise faster: Disney, who currently owns Lucasfilm and the rights to the series, or its so-called fans.  When I say Disney, I don't mean the usual complaints that people have of politically correcting the series; I loved The Last Jedi, and am happy to defend it both from those who have a knee-jerk reaction whenever they see a movie has a female lead and the rest who get upset because their fantasies they had playing with toys 40 years ago never made it to screen.

But Disney really needs to figure out what it wants to do with this series, and with the anthology movies it wants (or wanted) to produce alongside the main saga.  What I loved most about The Last Jedi and Rogue Oneis that, even though they fit within the timeline that was retconned by the prequels and Lucasfilm, they still went in directions that were not expected.  One of the main complaints with The Force Awakenswas that it took no chances, even repeating…

The Fearmakers (1958)

Fake news is one of those buzzwords for our modern times.  Both ends of the political spectrum use it both when there is actual fake news and when one side wants to discredit the other without going through the lengthy process of providing facts to back up their claims.  Opinion polls with loaded questions are used to not gauge public opinion but rather to guide those polled into responding a certain way so that agendas can be pushed. 

And, as usual, we are most afraid of what those dirty Russians might be up to, possibly manipulating everything from behind the scenes.

It's something that is a reflection of our internet age.  The previous generation wrings its hand and dreams of the good old days when news was news and everyone gave everything to us straight.  If it wasn't for those evil computers and the armies of hackers that are trying to control every aspect of our life, things would go back to the way they were, and everyone would be happy again.

Hate to tell you, but th…

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

Too often one gets caught up in movies as being art.  The idea, promoted by various critics, books and professors, is that a truly good movie must be the moving version of a painting by Rembrandt or Van Gogh, combined with the plotting of Shakespeare and the poetry of Tennyson.  It is similar to those that want to place "art" so far above the ken of the masses and keep it in its own boxed-in room, reserved for those who truly "know" what it is and can appreciate it.

The truth is that many who appreciate, understand and even collect works of high art - at least those that are not obsessed with sampling their own emanations as if each one smelled of a new form of rose - also understand that the same feelings invoked from the masters can often be found in a four-panel Peanuts cartoon.  There is a reason that the best superhero films hit on every convention of story telling, and while many of the recent films may be repetitive or have major flaws, they are often enjoy…

You Only Live Twice (1967)

It should be no surprise that Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery chose to use You Only Live Twice as the source for a lot of its parody of the spy genre.  As we have seen with many modern films it is hard to keep things on an even keel with just three films, much less when you reach the fifth one in the series.  James Bond had reached such popularity that it was being copied and satirized (notably with a horribly unfunny film called Casino Royale, released the same year as this installment), it's would have been no surprise if the series itself began to devolve into self-parody.

It didn't help that Sean Connery had already begun to become dissatisfied with the role while making Thunderball.  The constant media attention (including attempts to get pictures of him while sitting on the toilet), friction with his costars and with Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman themselves led to a somewhat phoned-in performance and his ultimate departure, leaving the role open for the…

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

More and more I have had the feeling that the Marvel movies are taking pages from the old Universal monster films.  As those movies began to run out of ideas, became cheaper and tried to keep audiences, they spent more time trying to jam as many monsters as possible.  Problem is, the promised creatures (usually the poor Frankenstein monster) usually got screen time that added up to a minute or less, while the big bad each time was usually another mad scientist bent on immortality, bringing a dead relative back to life or proving that they were the ones that could do what every mad scientist before them couldn't.  Eventually the returns diminished to the point where Universal had no choice but to just start teaming them with Abbott and Costello and going full parody.

Marvel hasn't reached that point yet, but I was afraid they might with Avengers: Infinity War.  This movie is jam-packed with almost every superhero they could get together.  Combine that with the fact that the la…

Oblivion (2013)

It is perhaps not the best idea to star in two alien invasion films back to back within the span of a year.  Because almost every trailer seems the same these days, as does most of the big-budget sci-fi spectaculars, they tend to all jumble up in my brain unless something really stands out.  Edge of Tomorrowstood out because it started to get some serious attention after it was out of the theaters and people started to realize it was actually a pretty good movie.  Oblivion, on the other hand, didn't do too bad in theaters, but it also stars Tom Cruise, and I am quite sure that at least for a time I couldn't remember which film was which.

For the record, Edge of Tomorrow is definitely the better of the two, and it was helped to stand out more by the fact that its own confusing marketing (the tagline "Live, Die, Repeat" being bigger than the actual title, thus leading many to believe that was the title of the film) where there is nothing really that stood out about Ob…