Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)

With all the prequels and sequels now made, I doubt how many people today understand how final Return of the Jedi actually was.  For a large part of my generation is a major even and, since we were in that grey preteen area, it also marked a point where we were growing out the toys, unless that was specifically where our interest would someday lie in collecting.  I, for one, had all the action figures (except for that weird Snaggletooth one that came with the Cantina set from Sears), and were buying figured from Jedi before I even saw the movie.
Honestly, it was some time before I saw the movie as well.  Things were not that good for a lot of families in 1983, particularly if the breadwinner worked in the steel industry.  Things had changed drastically.  Three years prior my parents made sure they took me to the best theater in town, Cine Capri, which had a giant, curved screen and was perfect from the 70 millimeter first run of The Empire Strikes Back.  This time around I got the nove…

Die Another Day (2002)

At the time I am writing this there is some concern for the upcoming Bond film, No Time to Die, and whether some of the story decisions may end up killing off the series.  Truth is, if that was the case, the James Bond series should have been dead years ago, during the Roger Moore era.  Both Moonrakerand Octopussydid their best to turn Bond either into a comic book superhero or (literally) a clown.  Then, of course, there was the last film during Pierce Brosnan's tenure in the lead role: Die Another Day.
While Brosnan gets some derision as one of the worst Bonds, truth is he played the role well.  The problem was the movies themselves.  GoldenEye was fine, but Tomorrow Never Diessuffered from a convoluted story while The World Is Not Enoughsuffered from Denise Richards.  For me, I find a lot to enjoy in all three of those films, as they all have some grand stunt sequences and good performances from most of the main cast, and with a few exceptions I enjoy them more than most of the …

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

The thought just occurred to me that it would have been great to see this movie in the mall where some of the action takes place.  That would have been a definite possibility; a good portion of the film was made in the greater Phoenix area, and the mall scenes were filmed at Metrocenter.  I could drive at the time this came out, though the vehicle I had was the usual piece of junk you give a teenager to make sure he can't drive it too much.  I forget if I had my truck the day I went to go see Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, but I could have just as easily been stuck on the bus.  That would have meant the 15-minute drive to Metrocenter would have taken an hour and a half to two hours; honestly, our bus system is still one of the things we have left over from the '80s. 
To get back on track, I did see this at a mall.  Christown was the second mall built in the city of Phoenix itself, and the first enclosed and air conditioned one.  Metrocenter was the third, and since the…

Shazam! (2019)

I have taken the time to go through three phases of Marvel films.  The enjoyment and quality factor is definitely mixed, but at least once things got going they seemed to be going somewhere.  Largely I have avoided the DC Universe, even though when I was a kid and read comic books I can definitely said I preferred Batman and Superman over most Marvel stuff, save Spiderman. 
The DCU really has no excuse for how bad it's been.  After all, they have had Superman forever.  He's been a staple of radio, television, comics and movies since the 1940s.  When it comes to superhero films, he was the first one to star in any that were worth anything, namely the first two Superman movies directed by Richard Donner.  Batman did just as well in both the hands of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, and Superman Returns, flawed as it was, did its best to ignore the two not directed by Donner and give us a decent movie.  Unfortunately, none of this makes up the DCU at this point.
From Man of Steel

The Raid: Redemption (2011)

My first introduction to Gareth Evans was his short film Safe Haven, which was included on the horror compilation V/H/S/2I had heard of The Raid at this point since the movie Dredd was heavily compared to it, but found out after watching V/H/S/2 that the guy who directed this movie also co-directed that segment.  This led to a little confusion, since when I saw the name Gareth Huw Evans show up, my first thought was, "Is this a remake?  That is definitely not an Indonesian name, and I know the movie I'm looking for is Indonesian.".
Calling it The Raid: Redemption for U.S. audiences didn't help with the confusion.  I had make sure I was not watching a sequel, since I knew one existed, but turns out this was definitely the movie I was meant to see.  Thank goodness not a sequel and definitely not a bad Hollywood remake, although they have been threatening us with one for a number of years (and, honestly, Dredd is pretty close in action and tone, and was a great movie …

The Hobbit (1977)

For a number of people my age this was our first exposure to J. R. R. Tokien's world of Middle Earth.  Released as a TV movie in 1977 and directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr., it ran two hours with commercials and was played at least once a year going into the 1980s.  I know a number of people who have credited it with getting them into Tolkien and fantasy literature in general.  
While animation was the only real way until Peter Jackson's first trilogy of film to portray the stories of Middle Earth, this had the exact opposite effect on me.  I was a bit of a weird kid anyway, and often didn't like things that other children were supposed to like.  And, although I'll argue that The Hobbit is not a children's book, this version was cut to try to appeal to both young adults and children at the time.  Thus, until my wife introduced me to the actual books, I considered this to be nothing other than children's literature, and ignored it as such.  Why, otherw…

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Almost no one was prepared for Star Warsto be the hit that it was.  That includes director George Lucas, the majority of the cast, 20th Century Fox and most film critics.  So little was expected of it that Alan Dean Foster, who was the ghost writer for the novelization of Star Wars, was tapped by Lucas to write up the plans for a low-budget sequel that could re-use many of the sets and not be as effects-heavy as the first, while still utilizing most of the cast.  I say most, since neither Alec Guinness nor Harrison Ford had signed on to the same three-movie deal as the others had.
The sequel had Luke, Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2 going to a remote swamp planet to pick up the local McGuffin for the Rebel Alliance, while Darth Vader went poking around for the same while also looking for Luke Skywalker, whom he was aware had been responsible for the destruction of the Death Star.  The universe had other plans for Lucas, however, and it made him (and Steven Spielberg, who ended up with some of th…