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Showing posts from 2019

Vigilante (1982)

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I recently read an article about the 1980s nostalgia being perpetuated by Stranger Things.  There was a lot I didn't agree with, but the author grew up in a small town, and though Phoenix was a decent sized city by the middle of that decade, that was one thing I could relate to, although the portrayal of the decade he was perpetuating was somewhat clouded by a misunderstanding of how the economic collapse at the time was due to almost 20 years of mismanagement, including about half of it throwing resources at a useless war.  As someone who appreciates history the second half of the 1980s were an amazing time to be alive, and even growing up in a working class family I didn't find it that bad after 1985.

One thing that was bad, and continued to be bad for a good part of the following decade, was the crime.  Phoenix wasn't on the radar for most people (often overshadowed by - and largely suffering for envy for - Los Angeles), but it had many problems.  Like any major metrop…

Iron Man 2 (2010)

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Despite the budding desire to start an entire Avengers universe (now known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe), The Incredible Hulkdid not exactly blow audiences away the same way Iron Mandid.  However, it still made money, and Iron Man was a popular film, so now Marvel was committed, and became even more committed to creating their universe - much to the chagrin of Jon Favreau, who soon found himself bogged down with notes from Marvel execs on how Iron Man 2 was supposed to go.

There were some other problems rearing their heads, even this early in the game.  Marvel, despite its decades-long popularity, is famously known for treating its talent like garbage.  This unfortunately seemed to pass on from the comic book world to the movies as Terrence Howard, who had played Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes in the first movie, soon found out.  The role was expanded, but Howard's paycheck was not, leading to suddenly changing the actor in what would be a major role supporting posi…

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

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The last time I decided to go through all the James Bond films was barely into Pierce Brosnan's tenure as the famous spy.  I knew most of the movies - the Sean Connery and Roger Moore films were played frequently on television, albeit quite edited, and I had seen the Timothy Dalton films when they came out on video - by The Man with the Golden Gun was a mystery.  I had never run into it on regular television or cable, and unlike the rest of the Bond films I had to look for this one at the video store.

I soon found out why.  It was not considered a great movie, and the video I was able to get of it, rather than at the higher end of quality of video tapes at the time, was a copy of a washed-out print.  It looked more like the treatment a low-budget film that had fallen into public domain than a big-budget action film.  That just added to the point that it was just not a very good movie.  Even Moonraker got better treatment, and it's typically considered the worst of Roger Moore…

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

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I remember in the late 1990s when I heard that Peter Jackson was going to be directing the Lord of the Rings trilogy that I was filled with excitement.  My wife had bought me the books a few years before and, despite my grumbling about not caring for books about magic and dragons, it turned out I liked them quite a bit.  Where I was expecting the old stale tropes that had been copied from J. R. R. Tolkien, I realized that the source material also dovetailed with medieval literature I was currently studying in college at the time. 

Not to mention that I was probably one of the few Americans not scratching their heads and going, "Who's Peter Jackson, and why is this being filmed in New Zealand?"  I had been a fan of Jackson's since seeing Dead Alive, which became a cult horror film.  I hunted down the films he did before that and, though Heavenly Creatures was far from what he had previously made, it quickly became an arthouse favorite.  He returned to horror with The…

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

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Netflix has been a bit iffy on delivering good movies.  Well, in all honesty, it's been pretty iffy on delivering bad movies as well.  It's the perfect platform for delivering b-movies that studios are afraid to take a chance on in theaters, allowing them to get traction they otherwise wouldn't get.  It worked for both Brightand Bird Box

It doesn't help that they have been historically willing to slap together, or grab, almost anything, from slapping the Cloverfield label on a half-baked sci-fi film or signing Adam Sandler to a multi-film deal when it doesn't appear to be 1995 - although Murder Mystery seems to have broken his series of misfires.  Still, so far, Netflix has been known for delivering some amazing mini-series and television shows, but the good movies have been few and far between.

That's why I was a bit shocked when I saw the trailer for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.  It mentioned Joel and Ethan Coen, and my first thought was that this was goi…

Forced Vengeance (1982)

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With all the jokes that still go around about how Chuck Norris can largely destroy about anything in his past, it's hard to believe that, as of writing this, he is 79 years old.  It is also hard to believe that I have seen very few of his films.  I learned early on that Norris, at least when younger, could hardly deliver a line without it sounding like he was reading directly from a cue card.  When you're young and caught up in "artistic integrity," that is something that automatically becomes the focus rather than just the fact the guy made fun movies in which he, believably, kicked every bad guy into oblivion.

It's also important to remember that while Arnold Schwarzenegger went into politics, Sylvester Stallone into bad comedies, Steven Seagall into an ego-induced career coma and Jean Claude Van Damme into being a parody of Jean Claude Van Damme, Norris moved to television once his movie career started winding down and dealt with bad guys as Walker: Texas Ran…

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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Iron Mandid a number of things.  It set up an entire universe (whether that was intentional, or largely just to set up a future Avengers movie and have done with it, I'm still not sure) that would, after years of stumbling, bring the main Marvel characters to life.  While Iron Man was a strange place to start, part of the reason was because at the time everything wasn't largely consolidated under one studio.  Almost every major movie studio had grabbed the characters at one time or another and, often, did little to nothing with them - at least nothing that could be considered watchable.

One of the few that was at least tolerable was Ang Lee's Hulk.  The problem is that it was one of those times everyone who wanted that elusive "character development" got exactly what they wanted, at the expense of much of what made the comic and, more importantly for many of us, the television show enjoyable.  Instead, it was an Ang Lee movie, which is typically a good thing if y…

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

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Let's address the kaiju-sized elephant in the room, while totally ignoring that there is (kind of) a kaiju elephant in this movie.  I sometimes pay attention to Rotten Tomatoes when it comes to major movies, because if I am going to spend the time to go to the theater and see it (as well as the expense) then I want to know that I am not wasting my time or money.  There's a reason that I, like many adults, are more than happy to wait until we can see movies on the small screen.  However, this is a Godzilla film.

Godzilla is quite important to me, no matter how bad many of the movies can be technically.  I grew up on watching giant monsters stomp cities (as a kid they don't look as much like toys as they do when you're an adult) and beat the living snot out of each other.  There were a couple Saturday morning cartoons I liked, but I was always anxious for 10:00 am to roll around - that was when classic Universal horror films, Ray Harryhausen stuff and Japanese monster f…

Live and Let Die (1973)

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One of the reasons George Lazenby gave for leaving the Bond franchise after On Her Majesty's Secret Servicewas a concern that James Bond had already become a dinosaur - a relic of the early 1960s that would not translate well into the 1970s.  While that movie was nowhere near the box office failure it is meant to be, there was still enough backlash that Diamonds Are Foreverovercorrected. 

Remember GoldfingerThis one is diamonds!  And Shirley Bassey!  Guy Hamilton's directing it again!  It was a heavy-handed apology that still couldn't ignore that the '60s were over despite featuring yet another plot by Blofeld to take over the world.  Most importantly, it brought back Sean Connery one last time. 

Connery was offered five and a half million dollars to appear in Live and Let Die, but he was done with the series and the drama that was working Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, the series producers who by this time were almost constantly at odds.  Although they still …

Deadpool 2 (2018)

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Most movies automatically lend themselves to a sequel, whether they want to or not.  If it is successful then it seems that money, if not creativity, will find a way.  Since Deadpoolwas a bit of a gamble  to begin with, it was surprising that a sequel was greenlit even before the movie hit the theaters.  Even more surprising, unfortunately, was that the director of the first split early on with Ryan Reynolds over creative differences.

If it wasn't for Reynolds's commitment to the character the second film could have easily ended up in development hell (something that it is possible that the second sequel or the upcoming X-Force series may suffer now that Disney has purchased 21st Century Fox and begins to purge anything that doesn't fit their agenda).  Even worse we could have ended up with a film that stained the first one just by merely existing.

Deadpool (Reynolds) has been out slicing and dicing bad guys, but realizes he better make it home for his anniversary.  In tr…

The Hateful Eight (2017)

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Quentin Tarantino is such a fan of cinema that often his devotion to the art overcomes some of the better aspects of his early films, like story telling.  The dialogue is always there, for better or worse (sometimes the latter since he's been listening to critics praise him for the last quarter century) and he has learned to film in a way that would make John Houston or Sergio Leone proud. 

That has caused a bit of consternation, as Tarantino knows how to use the widescreen format to every advantage, making sure action occurs in all parts of the screen. He films landscapes as beautifully and lovingly as he films outrageous, over-the-top violence.  It's a grand arena just set for the action-packed themes his films promise after all his influences are ground up, assembled into something new and splashed, in amazing, action-packed detail across the screen.

Or so we are usually promised.  Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction (and True Romance, for that matter, which was still enough o…