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GoldenEye (1995)

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While I had intended to see Licence to Kill when it came out in the theater, for reasons outlined under my review for that movie it didn't come to be.  GoldenEye, however, came out at a time in my life where I spent a lot of time at the movies, so there was virtually no way I was going to miss it.  Besides, although my mom had really been the one who was the Remington Steele fan, I liked Pierce Brosnan in most movies he was in, and when I heard he would be the next James Bond I was ecstatic.  It seemed he was a natural choice.

Keep in mind at the time I didn't know the behind-the-scenes problems that arose after Licence to Kill.  Since there had been a huge gap it was easy to assume that maybe James Bond had been put to rest; I didn't know that Timothy Dalton, rather than being fired or bolting after his last movie, had been patiently waiting to do the third movie, tentatively called The Property of a Lady.  Between lawsuits regarding the rights to the characters and MGM …

Iron Sky (2012)

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It has been nearly 75 years since the end of World War II, and the pure evil of the Third Reich still fascinates.  Seemingly ordinary folk did unspeakable crimes, often against people who had recently been their neighbors.  I often think it is because it shows how quickly the mind can compartmentalize, convincing a person that they are not "one of the evil people" when, in fact, they are. 

Another thing that still creates interest in the Nazis is that they truly got up to some weird stuff.  Heinrich Himmler in particular was obsessed with the occult, and did have people under his watch searching for certain objects and proof that could help the German war effort.  They also had the benefit of men like Werner von Braun, whose expertise in rocketry we eventually used to our advantage to jump start our initially bumbling attempts to match the early successes of the Soviet Union in space flight. 

While the truth is that, despite many advanced ideas, the German Reich was hamstru…

Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975)

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Cleopatra Joneshas become a cult film for a number of reasons.  Despite the fact that it was a PG film and was generally blaxploitation-lite, it had a number of great things going for it - the custom corvette, Cleopatra's ever-changing outfits, Shelly Winters's over-the-top performance as the main villain and just so much that screamed 1973.  It was a product of a genre that came and went too fast.

It also incorporated martial arts.  Martial arts films were popular with black movie-goers at the time, and the incorporation of actual martial arts fighting styles in Cleopatra Jones was a bit of a surprise, because in too many films of the time it was someone flailing their hands and feet around in what looked more like a seizure than an actual fighting style.  Unfortunately, the popularity of Hong Kong imports started to fade at the same time as blaxploitation.

That's a shame, because it meant that the movie's sole sequel, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold, largely w…

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

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From its start with Iron Man, hedging their bets on a movie starring an actor making a comeback after a series of bad decisions, the Marvel Cinematic Universe grew to three phases and 22 films over a course of 11 years.  It survived films of varying quality, fan backlash, a transfer of studios and the fact that many of the characters were owned by different entities when it came to bringing them to the silver screen.  In the end, though the movies involved outrageous budgets, there cannot be said to be an outright failure (money-wise) with any of the bunch, despite similar films barely making back their advertising costs.

It all came down to Avengers: Endgame to wrap everything up.  The question was, how?  Avengers: Infinity Warended with half the organic population (save plants, I assume) of the universe snapped out of existence.  Thanos (Josh Brolin) won, retired to a life of farming, while in his eyes it was the job of those who were left to make things better than they were befor…

Licence to Kill (1989)

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Licence to Kill should have been the first James Bond movie that I saw in a theater on my own money.  I was 17, so largely the barrier to me seeing any particular movie had largely been removed, and theaters in reality treated PG-13 the same as they did PG.  I had a date lined up to go and everything.  That is, until, like most of my experience in my teenage years, she suddenly had other plans.  I was bound to the city bus which, if you know Phoenix, you know is not reliable, and was even worse in 1989.  By the time I got to the theater Licence to Kill was already playing (I wasn't going to let a cancelled date keep me from seeing a movie) and I didn't want to be gone all day.

So, instead, I saw UHF, "Weird Al" Yankovic's cinematic debut, which just happened to come out within the same time period.  Moral of the story, sometimes things work out for the better.

I have seen UHF numerous times since.  It did horribly at the box office, got destroyed by critics and, …

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

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There may be exceptions, but I'm probably one of the few people my age that read The Hobbit before tackling The Lord of the Rings.  There was a 17-year gap between what today would be considered a young adult novel and the sprawling epic tale that got the attention of everyone from academics to beatniks.  Though they occur in the same worlds, and feature some of the same characters, the tone of the two works couldn't be more different.

The reason I was reading a book like The Hobbit in the first place, which I had always dismissed as a children's book, was simple.  During our first year together, the woman who would soon be my wife bought me a set of all four of the books.  I love science fiction, but I am usually a fan of hard sci-fi, and largely consider fantasy to be dragons, guys in loincloths with oversized swords (and oversized ideas of how to use them, both in the literal and metaphorical sense) and, one of the things that always annoyed me from J. R. R. Tolkien…

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Illustrated (2020)

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The concept album was not necessarily a musical form unique to the 1970s, but it certainly came to fruition at the time.  There had been a number of "theme" albums in the past, usually by more traditional pop and soul artists, but the Who's Tommy managed to tell a somewhat coherent story while still being financially successful.  A number of bands tried the same thing after that with varying degrees of success.

The problem was that, when trying to do a "rock opera," it was easy to fall into something like Jesus Christ Superstar.  It also didn't help that an artist would have to write songs that supported the story, and this didn't always make for a good album.  While The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars generally has an outline of a story, David Bowie wisely decided to go with songs that played on the theme rather than trying to present the story in a more musical theater style.  Through live performances and interviews his fan…