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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…

The Wandering Earth (2019)

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One of the major backups for major Hollywood studios seeing less and less financial return on large blockbusters has had for awhile now is China.  While it is really hard to say that the Transformers movies underperformed in U.S. theaters, the truth is that they and many other effects-laden money pits often are so expensive to make that even the obscene hundreds of millions they make in the domestic box office are not enough to turn a profit.

Thus, they turn to foreign markets.  The advantage of many of these movies (especially many of the recent ones starring Dwayne Johnson) is that they are not dialogue heavy, and what does need to be translated is not as heavily contextual as to cause problems.  It doesn't hurt that often the movies are altered for the Chinese market to make them even more universally acceptable.  The characters are already two-dimensional, the movies hollow spectacles, and so it is perfect for light entertainment fir a non-English speaking audience.

Understan…

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…