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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

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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 …

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…

Miami Connection (1987)

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These days it is much easier to convince an audience looking for something different to show up for your movie.  The caveat, of course, is that it's going to be the type of person that likes watching cult films, and your movie, good or bad, is likely to get word of mouth treatment as long as it is entertaining.  No, you are never going make a billion dollars in a weekend, but at least you are less likely to be told that your movie is trash and you should just destroy it.
Y.K. Kim was actually told this at one point when it came to Miami Connection.  While promoting a book he wrote on Tae Kwon Do, Kim met director Woo-sang Park, who decided to make a movie with him.  Kim wrote the script, put up the money and even re-shot some of the movie himself.  He thought it was going to be the big sensation of 1987, promoting his martial arts philosophy while entertaining the masses.  Instead, it failed to get proper distribution and met critical derision where it was shown. 
It took over 20…

Iron Man (2008)

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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 contr…