Showing posts from May, 2020

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

If there is one thing that Peter Jackson has become known to (at least to mainstream artists) while making his movies based on J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth it is epic battles.  Highly detailed battles; in fact, so highly detailed that most people, even on a big screen, can't see the details, such as specific markings and armor that denote ranks in Orc hierarchy.  To be honest, that was one of the main challenges in properly making movies based on The Lord of the Rings : the battles of Helm's Deep and Pelennor Fields, as well as the final skirmish before the gates of Mordor, are major portions of the books. By comparison, the Battle of the Five Armies, though it sounds grand, is largely a skirmish based on racial tensions, greed and Goblins and Orcs just largely being what they are.  It's a way to tie various plot lines together and the end and for Tolkien, who had a much more grand series in the waiting, to introduce some of the underlying tensions of the world he ha

The Magician (2005)

A little show that sneaked onto FX in the last couple years called Mr Inbetween caught my attention a while back.  It had a first season that generally established the characters, particularly hitman Ray Shoesmith.  The second season delved deeper into both the character and the people he surrounds himself with.  For me it quickly became one of the most interesting shows on the network.  Unlike a lot of Americans I have no problem with the Australian accents, and can get most of the slang from the context.  It is also refreshing to see a show that doesn't seem to be going out of its way to cater to an international audience.  I personally have no idea how the show is accepted in Australia.  It is obviously done on an extremely low budget, although the second season showed a little more polish, and it is the peculiar combination of comedy and brutality that Quentin Tarantino often pulls off.  The difference is that writer and star Scott Ryan doesn't seem so up his own place, and

The Monuments Men (2014)

There are many stories waiting to be told, and many of the strangest come out of the various wars that have been fought throughout the centuries.  If it hasn't been drilled into everyone's heads over the years, especially by those who had to fight, war in many cases has little use other than mowing through a generation of young men and, these days, women.  Still, although many people would try to convince us otherwise, war is often the anomaly and not the constant.   Being the anomaly it is, and especially in the 20th century when mobilization of forces never before seen became a possibility, it is no surprise that much of what happens beyond the major battles and who won or lost becomes a footnote in history.  Some of those footnotes take even stranger turns, especially when you consider that you are fighting an enemy driven by so many strange motivations as Adolf Hitler and the literal villains he surrounded himself with.  One of those motivations was to gather up all the gre

Star Wars (1977)

It is hard to believe that there was a time before Star Wars was part of collective American culture.  It has since become more than a mere movie, but a touchstone that changed the way movies were made and marketed.  For better or worse it has influenced science fiction for over four decades, either with movies and television shows trying to ride its coattails or specifically trying as hard as possible not to be anything that resembles it.  From humble beginnings it has spawned some of the best films in American cinema, as well as some of the worst. The truth is that its success was a confluence of a number of different things that made the movie go right.  Everything I have read about the development of the script to the production of the film walked a fine edge where this could have been one of those convoluted, glorious flops mentioned along with Howard the Duck and Heaven's Gate that probably would have received a midnight movie style cult following and nothing more.  The

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

I really like Pierce Brosnan as an actor.  I also really like the concept of Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.  However, in many ways, I have always considered his time in the role as GoldenEye and then three other movies where he was wasted.  GoldenEye was such a return to form for the series that I eagerly awaited what would come next.  I was even more excited that Michelle Yeoh was going to be one of the Bond girls. Something important to understand about the 1990s.  There is a lot of nostalgia right now for '80s cinema, largely because that decade managed to get quite a number of genres right and, for Generation X, there were directors that did a good job of capturing what our childhood was like, whether it be Stand by Me or The Breakfast Club.  It also contained a bevy of imaginative horror and action films for the older crowd, many of which we had to wait until our parents let us see R-rated films to finally enjoy. Thus, those types of films continued into the '90s as