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Showing posts from September, 2019

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

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For all the superhero films that have been released in the last decade there have been few that get things right.  Either the directors hate the source material, have no idea what to do with the characters, can't figure out how to present a decent villain or, when things get good, undercut themselves at every step.  The different series featuring Spider-Man, until recently, have had a bad habit of doing that.

Take the first two movies.  Sam Raimi, one of my favorite directors, makes a halfway decent first one, and then makes one of the best comic book films of all time with the second - only to throw together a muddy plot and Peter Parker doing a silly dance for the third.  Well, can't win them all, but I was sure Raimi, one of my favorite directors, could pull things together to make up for it.

In steps the studio, out goes Raimi, and in comes The Amazing Spider-Man - two dull movies, and a unnecessarily rebooted series put out of its misery before a third egg could be laid.…

A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

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Somewhere along the line it became a thing to hate Seth MacFarlane.  I have seen this many times before, and it is usually after someone with creative talent has a series of mainstream successes that also, improbably, become popular with critics and the "cool crowd" as well.  A small band of taste-makers and their band of critics that are more interested in celebrity access (or having their face occasionally illuminated by the same limelight) will, at some point, decide it's time for them to fail.

There are many cases where it is justified - M. Night Shyamalan quickly comes to mind - but in some situations it may be a temporary career misstep (Kevin Smith has had several of those) or, if they can't find anything specifically wrong, they'll start destroying your reputation by "reconsidering" your past work.  The latter is why John Hughes went from being a comedy genius in touch with the "youth of today" (i.e., my day, definitely not today) to …

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

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If there is one well-known comic book character that largely doesn't translate to the modern day it is Captain America.  Conceived in the Golden Age of comics, he did his job well: fought Nazis, provided a more youthful anthropomorphic incarnation of the United States than Uncle Sam and embodied much of what people at the time believed in.  When Stan Lee revived him during the Silver Age, it was still before we got too deep into Vietnam, and to his credit he did a lot to overcome a character that, even at the time, had become quite corny.

As usual, I don't really follow comics.  I know that some writer have tried to add a bit more angst the character and update it as much as possible, but even as a young kid Captain America was not one of my favorite super heroes.  Previous attempts to bring him to both the small and big screen had been abysmal, and at the time the first movie came out featuring him, the Marvel movies themselves had been of uneven quality.  I know the first t…

Moonraker (1979)

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It seems silly to feel sorry for a movie.  It's an inanimate object made by a crew of people that outnumber the population of some of the towns in the state I live.  Sure, they're art, and everyone involved are artists in their own way, from writing the script to building the set.  When it is being made the movie is definitely alive but, once it's done, it's there for all to see.  Sure, some of the people involved sometimes like to try to make it better, but often come up with the equivalent of Monkey Jesus for all their efforts.

So, why do I feel sorry for Moonraker?  I definitely don't feel sorry for Roger Moore, who had a better late-life career than most actor.  Albert Broccoli I'm sure wanted for nothing until the end of his days.  Director Lewis Gilbert had the previous film, The Spy Who Loved Me. also known as the movie that saved the series at that point, to his credit.  Still, I can't help but watch Moonraker and feel pity, as I feel throughout th…

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

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With everything set up and ready to go with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, Peter Jackson got into the meat of the story with The Two Towers.  It is obvious filming the way he did presented challenges, but it was good that he did - J. R. R. Tolkien, after all, wrote the whole thing as one grand epic, and divided it where it needed to be.  That is why it frustrated me when Fellowship originally came out and there was complaining about where it ended.  It was almost as if many viewers didn't know it was a book series divided up in specific places to make sure each one told a significant part of the story.

While George R. R. Martin, and HBO's adaptation of his books in the Game of Thrones series have certainly tried to emulate this (taking the battle of Helm's Deep from this part of the story as inspiration for its many battles, both in the book and on TV), The Lord of the Rings has benefited from being a complete work from its beginning.  While a bunch o…