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Mad Max: Fury Road REVIEW

Max Max Fury Road

THIS is a tough one for me.  I cannot really hold with the massive mob of current critical acclaim, and yet, I felt the movie succeeded on a number of minor levels.  I looooved the darker tone of the film.  Been a while.  And the action was well planned and executed.  However, I sadly cannot confirm, as many critics have stated, that this film is, ‘an immediate action classic,’ or ‘one of the greatest action films ever made.’  Pardon my French, but THAT is utter bullshit.

**

However, the movie has some bragging rights, here and there.  Charlize Theron’s character was a wonderful slow-burn of a surprise.  And the fact that the story  just kept moving — almost literally — was fun.  Especially in lieu of my ever-fresh memory of having sat through the languid Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome in 1985, waiting patiently for the action to begin, only to be cheapened in the third act by a single 7 minute sequence, that really added zilch to the already well-established action pallet of Mad Max films.  That … yea, that was aggravating.

**

But this film makes up for that.  There was plenty of action here.  Closer in spirit to The Road Warrior (1982); still the most popular film in the serial.  And across the expanse of what is actually a very thin storyline, there were some acceptable, rich touches of absurdity to behold.  Such as the rock guitarist who played during the racing battles.  The strange characters that inhabit the Citadel.  Bad guys flying around on poles.  Even Max’s minor role in the film, turned out to be a nice touch.  One that should have been accompanied by additional narration.  After all, the story’s construction is begging for creatively descriptive information in places, and Max would have been the perfect person to deliver it.  In this case, Max the Explainer would have been an asset, rather than a hindrance.

**

This, for example, would have been a welcome bit of narration:

We drove across the terminator. 
I told her what I knew.  She told me what she knew.
I told her I was a cop.  After the first wars.  Before everything turned to dust. 
I told her I went deep underground when I saw the mushrooms, again.
I told her I went mad.

She said when she was young there was a place of hope.
She didn’t have to say more.
Then she told me about their leader.  Immortan Joe.
That he had been in charge of building big things, before the world ended.
Things for mining.  Like the Citadel.
She said that thousands of days ago, he was sometimes a rational man.
But now he was just a dumb animal.

The wastelands play games with every living thing.
And these people and things were lost among thousands of miles of it.
They were trapped here.
They would live or die here.
Just like the rest of us.
Hope was their enemy.
None of them understood that.

**

And it would have passed in the wink of 30-odd seconds.  But alas, this was not the case.  And I got more where that came from, but I will spare you the all-around torture, dependent on your chosen point-of-view.

**

I liked the cinematography, the music, the direction.  I liked the small surprises in the way some of the images were presented.  There was even a neat little connection to The Road Warrior that I really liked a lot.  One of the characters in the film is playing with a small wind-up music box, which ‘Max’ fans will recognize is later seen in the hands of Max, in The Road Warrior.

**

Now we come to the films faults.  The picture opens with imagery similar to that The Road Warrior.  Trees being blown down in an atomic blast, etc.  Seen it.  And although there is no pavement in this film (presumably because it has been scavenged for other uses by survivors,) the initial chase is indeed similar in style and theme to that of The Road Warrior, as well.  If you were hoping for something earth-shatteringly original, based upon those glowing reviews by the critical mob, forget it.  And all such chases, merely repeat that motif.  It’s like an a single action sequence from that second 1982 ‘Max’ film, plays out over and over again, in digital photography, complete with heavy helpings on CGI compositing.

**

The only mistake I caught in the film, is a single bad guy who is revealed to be hiding under the ‘War Truck,’ after our heroes have gotten away.  He’s never seen again, and he never falls off the bottom of the truck.  WTF !?  And then there’s Tom Hardy’s voice, which sounds suspiciously exactly like ‘Bane’ in The Dark Knight Rises.  And every word of it, looped.  You can tell.

**

As stated, at the heart of the film, is a simple, fast storyline.  And for all of it’s attributes and possibilities, Mad Max: Fury Road really is a solid entry among the franchise of ‘Max’ films.  However, the story seemed to be headed toward somewhere profound, and on a complex level that would pair the visceral with the poignant in a wonderful ‘hindsight is 20/20′ kind’a way.  But the film never quite reached said destination.  Albeit a good solid action film, there is something missing here.  Opinions will vary.  Many will proclaim it perfect.  And to each his or her own.  But as a writer, myself, I can easily tell when a storyteller is holding back.  Instead of planning the road ahead, director Miller should have been more focused on the road beneath our feet.  Although those vehicles are tearing across a desert landscape at 90 miles per hour, we, the audience, are seated solemnly, awaiting the story to be told, in complete; right now.  And much of that information is missing.  Apparently planned for inclusion in another movie.

**

I ‘liked’ this movie.  And I hope that it will grow on me.  I truly do.  Sadly, though, without those wonderful little nuggets of necessary STORY, an action film is always sub-par.  Wish I could give it a better letter grade, but instead …

B-

Avengers: Age of Ultron REVIEW

Avengers ticket

I was apprehensive about this one.  Advanced reviews are all over the map, and to be honest, I bought into large helpings of the negativity associated with some of the more … shall we say, ‘destructive’ comments contained in those reviews.  But, in my opinion, much of that turned out to be either A) anal-retentive, obsessive-compulsive nitpicking by snide 21’st Century hipsters, or B) a clear case of a coordinated attempt at corporate sabotage.  Honestly not sure which.

In any event, the movie turned out to be surprisingly good.  Very well constructed story, with various small moments of character development divided evenly among the principals.  Which is more than you can say for the first film.  Especially in the case of Hawkeye.  There are some great action sequences, too.  And more (and better) humor, this time around.  Case in point, when Iron Man wearing his Hulkbuster armor, punches Hulk in the face, repeatedly, and calmly suggests, ‘Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep…‘  And later, when a payoff scene arrives, regarding the ‘challenge’ of who can pick up Thor’s hammer.  When that comes full circle, you’re really gonna laugh.

To be honest, there were one or two very minor quibbles I had.  At a certain point in the film, I was eagerly anticipating that Natasha (a.k.a. Black Widow) would whisper to the Hulk, ‘Hulk … smash.‘  And unfortunately, they didn’t go for that wonderful opportunity.  And when the final battle occurs, I was genuinely expecting the visual theme to be one of the Avengers being surrounded to the point of being squeezed in and cramped, among Ultron’s minions.  But alas, that’s an image only generated by an artist on a wonderful piece of concept art that made its way to the internet rather early in the publicity game.

Age of U

But don’t let such minor, personal quibbles keep you from seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Because all said and done, this is a damn good superhero, comic book movie.  As good as these things can be.  And it ranks with the best of the films that have been released with MARVEL’s logo on them.  Including (in alphabetical order) the initial Avengers film, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, Spider-Man (2002,) X-Men, X2, X-Men: First Class, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

You wanna know what my generation were thinking, imagining, and plotting in the 1980’s when we were reading most of the comics that these films are based on ?  Age of Ultron is as pretty damn close to that, as you’re probably ever gonna see.

Now if we can get a response from Disney on why there are no Black Widow toys on shelves.   

I give it an A-

 

“Western Legend” in transition

Just a note on “Western Legend” and my site/blog here at WordPress.com.

I got my book back from its former Publisher, Whiskey Creek Press.  And while I won’t go into the problems I had with their non-commitment to their own contract, or the negative things I eventually found out about them, I will simply say that their company has been purchased and will very soon change name and ownership.  So, hopefully, they will clean up their act.  A funny aside: they strangely attempted to purchase the remainder of my e-book contract for roughly $5.  The contract was up this month, anyway, so I declined.  I was already working on placing the book elsewhere, anyway.

But this is why the links will not work at present.  The book is currently unavailable.

I would like to thank everyone who purchased and read my book.  It was a lot of work and very rewarding that many enjoyed it.

The book will see publication again, this time in print, with various illustrations and photos included for reference (all of which were rejected by Whiskey Creek Press.)  And I’m really looking forward to that.

Yours truly,

Jim

Collage of Nonsensical Absurdity from Epsilon 5

ASTROWORLD is nearing completion, yet still in progress.  So, in the meantime, I thought perhaps I would post something here just to gather attention.  Ladies and Gentlemen, without further adieu … an interesting assortment of random crap from the Internet, which I found to be interesting, curious, entertaining, or simply prosaically mesmerizing.

Yo Mamma So Fat Aha Helium Jokegood pointWizard of Oz LOL

Jurassic Park gates today
The Original Jurassic Park Gate on the Island of Kauai

A Little Kelly Humor this Morning

Happiest Fairy

Shark !

Mad Men Set 16
One of the Offices on the set of Mad Men, fully lit as it would have been in reality. As opposed to the darker look used on the show.

 

giphy
Wouldn’t it have been COOL to have THIS on your wall when you were 8
An Ellison is Like, from Starlog
An Interesting Cartoon Depicting the Many Moods of One Mr. Harlan Ellison, Esq.

If You Stare

Spell it right or not at all

They Live

Dr. Putin

The Red Barron 1917
The Actual “Red Barron.” Colorized.

You can Drink at 7AM

Listen Up Mega Tweeters

Home Theater, Batman Style Part 2
A Real Home Theater, Somewhere North of “Only Extremely Wealthy People Allowed.”

HT_Ocelot5_ml_140424_3x2_1600

Ninjas and Pirates and Lasers and Shit

Crayon stuff

John Lennon on the set of Happy Days

Sugar-Skull-Stormtrooper-T-Shirt-Tee-sq

Indy Flashes Past Boba Fett on his way out of the Temple

Astrodome
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN … YOUR HOUSTON ASTRODOME !

Esc

Dave

Colin Powell 1950's selfie
Colin Powell May Have Invented the Selfie in the Late 1950’s
Mars30Jun
You’re on Mars. And one of those bright lights, is Earth. No shit.

Shhhhhh Almost Now You May Speak

Sat in Tex

Roy Scheider with Nick Marra's sculpture of Chief Brody
Roy Scheider Holding Roy Scheider. Whatever Argument You Got. You Just Lost It.
Windows XP Operating System, Oct. 25th, 2001
It Really Wasn’t So Long Ago That THIS Was A Big Deal

Spielberg and Fox back to the future

213252_340.jpg

Robert Cornelius, believed to be the first photographic image
Believed to be the First Photograph Ever Taken of a Human Being. (Robert Cornelius)

Imagine Going to this Bathroom Drunk

Supersonic1
It stuns me that someone somewhere thinks this is safe for Re-entry.

Mom - Chuck Lorre Productions, #418

Fan-made Corridor, Starship Interior Redesign
A very nice rendering of one of those corridors on those Star Trek Next Gen. type shows. I believe had this been the width of the corridors on Voyager, that the show would have been more popular. I’ve talked to a number of people who eventually stopped watching due to claustrophobia.
Portland, Maine, State Street looking toward Longfellow Square, 1907 Colorized
Colorized Photo Taken in Maine, in 1907, of State Street looking toward Longfellow Square.

ST_EP_28_QMX

581575_10151828821374800_1528547233_n
If they make a third movie without Bill Murray, it has the validity of this.

I Ate Mom's Best Shoes

Neil Gaiman Quote

Aliens Attack Stormtroopers

Doggie Style SPider-WEB If you think Dogs can't count Raising a Teenager

Harlan and the Barber Shop
When Harlan Ellison shows up at a barber shop … Interesting people surround him.
lrg_ngc5033
Can you imagine if you could take this photo back in time and show it to a Cowboy in 1860. “Why that thar is prettier than one of them ‘Painted Ladies.'”
Union Officers, 4th Pennsylvania Calvalry at Westover Landing, August of 1862 colorized
Actual Civil War Photo, Colorized.
jaO3X
Greatest Halloween Costume EVER !
TheQueen
Truly Amazing.
TexasEarth
This is what people who live in Texas think of Texas.
.....and not a single Yub Nub was given that day.
…..and not a single Yub Nub was given that day.

jello puddin ain't no joke to me

Welcome Here

Plymouth Rock via John Lander
Photo of Actual Plymouth Rock, taken by radio disc jockey, John Lander, while on vacation. Rather small, isn’t it.

Raiders Image

Celebs and their antique Counter Parts

Clouds Vs. Idiots

edge1

sin-city-eva-green-poster-1__140529181318
Controversial Movie Poster for the forthcoming sequel to Sin City, banned by the MPAA. Which only made it more alluring.

Wife with a Nerf Gun

Queen Lego

Quarters !  I Need More Quarters !
Quarters ! I Need More Quarters !

Top Secret Progress report D-Day

LOLLLLLL Too Soon

If the Script had been better, he would have been in it along with an animated Duck
Mark Hamill in 1977

Gimme Some of Dat, Say De Vemen You're Kidding, Right Fake Dinklage and Grumpy Cat Photo Abbey Roadsters

I'm all Out of Fucks To Give, But Here's A Rat's Ass

They-Live-52

Grounded

California to Texas Translator

Mr. Grey's wife writes a letter to Dr. RuthCar W.

STar Wars toystore, possibly Howards

climate change political cartoon

Really

To Kill a Mockingbird

1187017_506755829418335_27748266_n

Rialto-Bridge-(Venice,-Italy)
Magical, isn’t it ? I look at this and I have to wonder, why didn’t Steven Spielberg shoot those Venice scenes in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade like this ?

Because Shit is About to Get Real

H. FORDISMS

Seinfeld quote

o-BEATLES-9002

Space Shuttle Discovery transport 5

258295_10151103544643635_2131350116_o

Web
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have landed. Welcome to the Future.
Reeve in Henry's duds
… and somewhere in an alternate reality …
gillian-anderson_00351032
LOL !

B-Day Cake

$(KGrHqZ,!lwFH!66JrMIBR46deDFe!~~60_57
I miss these so much. Never forget when these tapes were released. $20 well spent.
jawsshowcaseycallender_big
Check the reflection
Interesting
Fascinating Debate

T2

Osprey helicopter and U.S. Marines

Universal Monster wallpaper

Titanic
Real Historical Photo. Colorized.

Installing Spring in Canada

Letter sent by George R.R. Martin to Marvel, printed in FF17
Letter sent by George R.R. Martin to Marvel, printed in Fantastic Four #17

 

21792583
Yea … speaking of which … scroll down:

 

Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull by Drew Struzan 2
It is a beautiful image, though. Too bad the Movie wasn’t this intriguing. Please don’t blame ME, I didn’t write the F’ing thing.

AstroWorld

Astroworld The Middle of Fun

So I’m now deep into research and interviews for the purpose of bringing a film to the screen about the teen and young adult employees of a theme park in Houston, Texas called AstroWorld, in the summer of 1979.

A comedy in the vein of Meatballs (1979) meets a bit of Dazed and Confused (1993,) but also a tribute to the park’s hard-working staff, the people who loved AstroWorld, and the park itself.

At this stage this is merely a screenplay with no real money behind it, and there are several hurdles yet to dealt with.  The first, of course, would be getting permission from Six Flags to use the name and logo of “AstroWorld,” and portray 1970’s era employees in one of their former parks.  The second would be financing, which is difficult in that several things have to be in place before you get financing for such a project.  The third would be finding a defunct amusement park which could be redressed and stand in for AstroWorld.   … and that’s only the beginning.

However, I’m on it.  I’m writing it.  And we’ll see what happens.

Wish me luck, and remember … the show must go on.

AstroWorld-1977Astroworld 1979Wal for Time Sheets, Astroworld

Some Movies I’ve Seen This Year

Olympus Has Fallen
Olympus Has Fallen 03/24   Grade: B-

Never saw White House Down.  No longer falling for Roland Emmerich’s con that he’s both a director and a movie watcher.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as interested in seeing the trailer for the Independence Day sequel, as anyone else is.  I just cannot see how someone could make The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and 10,000 B.C. and actually be watching movies, as well as making them.  And it is a requirement that in order to make a good movie, you have to be a movie watcher.  Otherwise, you should find something else to do with your life.  So I only have the experience of seeing Olympus Has Fallen to offer, without comparison to it’s similarly themed competition, White House Down.  And in a 1980’s B-movie kinda way, I enjoyed Olympus Has Fallen.  It definitely has its faults.  The special effects are not very well rendered, it feels like a hastily made Die Hard clone.  My God, how many of those have we had now.  And the script seems to be pasted together from various independent drafts of the same central concept, however, the movie is entertaining.  The action sequence when the White House is initially taken is much more visceral and frightening than you expect, the characters are likeable enough, and the structure of the story is predictable but enjoyable.

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Jurassic Park 3D

Jurassic Park 3D 04/06  Grade: A-

I was very happy to get the chance to see this in a theater again, and the 3D was much more fun than I expected !  A lot of fun.  When I came out of the theater, I felt compelled to text the following as a post on my Facebook page: “Saw Jurassic Park 3D.  Great 3D conversion.   A little more respect for the movie now than in 1993.  The kids kept wowwing at the dinosaurs and I know it’s not the effects they’re thrilled by — it’s the way Steven tells the story.  Holds up better than expected.  Well played, Steven Spielberg.  Very well played.”  And that comment — some seven months later — still sums up my memory of that screening. 

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Oblivion

Oblivion 04/21  Grade: B+

I remember enjoying this one in general.  The tone, the music … the chick in the pool.  It was an interesting science fiction story concept and had a somewhat realistic ending, when mirrored against the rest of the film.  And it didn’t have the long list of lingering issues that the director’s previous film, Tron: Legacy had, either.  So that was good.  

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Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3  05/04  Grade: D-

In the last act of this film, the movie seemed to be building to a rather clever action climax — which let’s face it, is really what most people went to see the movie for.  Definitely what the kids wanted to see.  In this sequence, lots and lots of robot Iron Men were coming to the original Iron Man, Tony Scott’s rescue.  If this sequence had really worked, that set-piece, together with the stuff between Robert Downey Jr.  and the kid, would have helped me enjoy the pic a little more, and definitely left me with a better memory of the experience of watching the film.  But alas, my hopes for such a clever action set piece were dashed rather unexpectedly, and quickly at that.  As the multitude of Iron Men arrived, the CGI and the editing collided in what can only be described as a cluster fuck.  For those who’ve seen the film, please note that I never complained about the Mandarin situation.  It seemed novel to me to twist such expectations of comic book fans, in such a way.  But a clumsy action sequence cannot be forgiven.  Not only is not hard to write, storyboard, plan, and execute a legitimately novel and fun action sequence — many industry pro’s have commented that it is also easier to accomplish than any other aspect of a movie’s general paradigm.  I left this movie a little embarrassed and said not a word about what I thought of it for the longest time.   But I should have.  To date the film has grossed one billion, two-hundred and fourteen million, seven-hundred and thirteen thousand, nine-hundred and ninety four dollars, worldwide.   I should’a blabbed when I had the chance.  And by the way, you can always tell how much the kids like these movies by how well the toys are selling.  Next time you’re in a Wal-Mart or Target, take a look down the action figure toy isle and note the dense confabulation of Iron Man 3 toys still sitting on the shelf.

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ALIEN

Alien (1979) 05/08  Grade: A+

It’s always nice to revisit a tried-and-true classic from your childhood.  And it definitely helped me get rid of my disappointment over Prometheus, which was lingering from the preceding summer.  And that was the principal reason I wanted to watch the original on the big screen again, when I saw it was being screened mid-week.  It was a hasty departure for the local Cinemark, and I got there just in time to relive something really cool, and really well crafted.  Actually, the more I think about Prometheus, the more I don’t ever want to think about Prometheus again.

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The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby 05/12  Grade C-

This one was not my choice, I was with a group.  But I wasn’t entirely disappointed.  The modern urban music concocted to play during the party sequences was really a nice touch.  But I had seen the Jack Clayton version before, from the 1970’s, and the story is essentially the same.   Rich, well-to-do individuals expostulating on their status in life.  Utter nonsense and total bullshit, if you ask me.  But like I said, the music was nice enough to warrant the letter grade I grant the film and the experience of watching it.  Never did like that book.  And to be fair, I’m not really a Baz Luhrmann fan, anyway. 

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Star Trek Into Darkness Image 2

Star Trek Into Darkness Imax 3D 05/15  Grade: A-

I enjoyed this one.  Now a little background on my point-of-view going in. 

There’s only so much these movies can be, given the way J.J. Abrams constructed his new alternate Star Trek universe.  And I didn’t really feel impressed by the first one, although I did enjoy the music and the new dynamic given to the crew.  My first issue with Abrams’ initial 2009 film, was the stuff with Kirk as a small child.  It seemed like it was a waste of time, and the meat of it could have been covered in dialogue — and personally, I don’t even see that as being necessary.  And I hated the bad wig they put on that kid.  The only scene which I did enjoy was in the bar, where Kirk gets his ass kicked and Pike comes in and says a variation of, “I couldn’t believe it when the bartender told me who you are.  You’re father was Captain of a Starship for 12 minutes.  He saved 800 lives.  I dare you to do better.  Enlist in Starfleet.”  But we already knew this from the trailer, and the rest of the film deteriorated into very basic sci-fi contrivance and exposition; none of it with any real merit.  Not “science fiction” mind you, not premium ideas, novel concepts, and the appropriate level of writing to accompany all of that, but rather fodder for the Syfy Channel, overproduced on a massive scale in order to compensate for the lack of quality on the page.  (What they should have done was start the film with Tyler Perry’s character in front of a full audience of cadets stating what Starfleet is, what Starfleet stands for, and what their principal duties and responsibilities are as representatives of Starfleet, before revealing that all of them have been accepted into Starfleet.  Gasps, followed by Thunderous applause, then cut to a brief opening title and then straight to the sequence in the bar.  They could’ve saved the prologue involving the death of Kirk’s father for later, somehow.)

In the 2009 Star Trek film, they even sucked Spock’s home planet Vulcan into a black hole and killed his mother.  A terrible plot point which only reminds me of The Core mentality.  That sloppy 2003 sci-fi film about people having to tunnel to the Earth’s core in order to save the planet and humanity.  You remember, the one where once they all get into the craft that drills them down, every time the screenwriter’s needed another plot point, they simply killed another character, because they weren’t good enough writers to envision any other way of moving the story forward.  It’s a ‘let’s destroy something or someone, because we can’t think of what should come next at this point in the fucking movie’ mentality.  And please notice that when I mentioned “Spock,” I didn’t say “Mr.” Spock.  Yea, the Quinto guy isn’t bad, actually he’s quite good, but he doesn’t have that stone, solemn, withered-by-life face that Nimoy had back in the mid 1960’s.  Mainly because Nimoy had been through much more in his life and career than Quinto has.  And Nimoy was a bit older, as well, if memory serves. 

Paramount originally intended the 2009 Star Trek film to be Starfleet Academy, a proposed story Producer Harve Bennett had pitched to Paramount following the regretfully bad Star Trek V: The Final Frontier in 1989.  Unfortunately, the only aspect of it the Studio liked was bringing in a new, younger cast to replace the old guard.  And the age range for recasting the crew apparently remained constant over the 20-year stretch before the reboot finally got greenlit after the turn of the Century.  (For the record Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which in 1991 followed The Final Frontier, and ended the original casts 25 year run, was an exceptional film.)  Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, and Simon Pegg are all over thirty.  But the two most important actors on the show are just a tad too young to be taken seriously in their roles.  Too bad, really.  Pine and Quinto, are solid actors, but they’re just kids, really, and it’s hard to believe that anyone under thirty would have the maturity to handle the kinds of situations that a Starfleet Captain and his First Officer would be dealing with.  And Starfleet would know that, right ?  (I think this is what Abrams and his writers were trying to accomplish by establishing that Kirk and Spock had each lived through a tough childhood, thereby establishing that each would have what it takes to handle the events of the 2009 film.  It didn’t work.)  Oh well, perhaps as these actors grow, they will mature into their characters, and these new Star Trek films will get better and better.  Nothing wrong with more Star Trek movies.  Nothing at all. 

So, onward.  At the end of the 2009 film, Kirk is back at Starfleet Academy — but wait a second, now Kirk is back on the Enterprise — and then the ship shoots off into space.  So inevitably the next film should have taken place at the beginning of that five year mission, right ?  Well, either A) that’s not what J.J. wanted, because he’s selfish, or B) neither J.J. nor his writers knew how to write science fiction without soap opera.  Because guess what ?  That’s right, we’re back in Earth’s orbit for about three-quarters of the story of Star Trek Into Darkness.  And although I expected to not really enjoy the film, mainly due to all the reported homages to the original television series, and the films that followed it, I nonetheless enjoyed the story of Into Darkness much, much better than Abrams’ original 2009 outing.  And that completely took me by surprise. 

I don’t want to spoil too much, but I will advise you that I was personally disappointed that Benedict Cumberbatch turned out to be … well, Abrams’ reinterpretation of a classic villain.  Why couldn’t they have made him “Q”?  I mean they’ve reinvented everything else in this alternate universe, why couldn’t Q have showed up much sooner in the timeline.  Anyway, between the story and the scale of the film and the action and the general sci-fi mashup, I cannot lie and say that it wasn’t a fun Saturday matinee.  Although for the record, I actually saw an IMAX 3D sneak preview of the film.  And it was actually worth waiting in line for.  When was the last time anyone said that about one of these big budget summer tent-pole craptastic extravaganza movies ?  They even gave us a limited edition free poster on the way out.  Nice. 

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Man of Steel

Man of Steel 06/14 & 06/15  Grade: A-

The issue I had was not the damage done in Metropolis during the climactic fight scene.  The issue I had was not with the billions of people who reportedly would have died during that whole sequence.  The issue I had was that the effects during the fight were sped up so fast, that I could not tell who was hitting who.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the movie.  Loved the music, too.  Even thought Costner was really spot-on as Jonathan Kent.  But the filmmakers seemed to feel in the end that in order to really “effect” the audience, they needed every punch, shove, hit, and skybound flying squirrel to just be really, really fast, and too blurry for audiences to actually see what was happening.  Clearly, they didn’t want audiences to discern to much, or criticize the fight moves.  At least I guess that’s why they sped it up that way.  I mean that’s the only explanation I could come up with.  Rest of the movie was really great, easily holds up to Snyder’s work on Watchmen.  But he’s got to do something about his fight scenes in the next film, Superman Vs. Batman.  I still can’t tell you that I saw that fight, because I didn’t.  It was moving so fast, and there was so much digital blurring, I have no idea what I was looking at.  I did love the last line when Kent starts his job at the Daily Planet.  “Welcome to the Planet.”  As a huge fan of the original Superman: The Movie, the hairs on both my arms stood straight up.

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The Heat

The Heat 06/30  Grade: C+

Disgusting but funny.  The plot was a bit too thin, but there is talk of a sequel and hopefully they will rectify that issue next time.  Very much enjoyed the dynamic between the two characters, and the vulgarity was hysterical.  Again, this is one I saw with others, so it wasn’t really my choice.  But nonetheless, I laughed a lot.  That’s enough for me to recommend someone watch it on cable for free. 

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THE LONE RANGER

Disney’s The Lone Ranger  07/04  Grade: D+

To begin with, Lone Ranger was too long.  With more film snippets and elements, and access to Avid editing software, even I could make Disney’s Lone Ranger into a better film.  Mainly by removing around half an hour of its running time. 

On another note, one of the critics complained that, “…there is a limit to what can be accomplished with Johnny Depp and a bucket of makeup.”  Although a funny quip, this was not an accurate assessment of the film’s issues at all.  Depp did a very good job, even with the script that he had.  Some who followed the film’s development commented that they should have left in the Werewolves.  Perhaps that would have helped, I dunno.  But if you intend to make a fantasy of it, you might as well go for it.  And I saw none of the things the Lone Ranger stands for really evidenced in this film.  Lots of obvious mistakes on that front.  Then there was an issue with some wrong casting (or merely a bad choice of how to take the lead character, you decide,) a script that needed another pass, the overbloated running time, as I mentioned … and don’t think I ever heard a single character state that Barry Pepper’s character was supposed to be Custer — not even once.  Then there’s that shot at the end where Tonto just walks into Monument Valley for no apparent reason.  This could possibly be intended to imply something in connection with a statement on the tragic slaughter of the American Indian, but it’s so vague, most of the audience won’t even pick up on it.

Then there’s Helena Bonham Carter’s character — who’s name I don’t even care to recall.  She seems not to have much of a purpose other than to add a spot of colorful character.  If so, they generally failed in that respect.  Which in my opinion, applies to every ancillary character in the damn movie.  And then, there’s the kid at the sideshow.  An idea which partially works, and partially doesn’t, mainly because several times you’re left with the general impression that Tonto was simply lying to the kid about a lot.  As though the story he tells is how he wished it had happened.  Especially since he leaves the sideshow wearing the lawyer brother’s suit, and these clothes appear to be A) the clothes Armie Hammer was wearing during the ambush in the canyon, and B) appear to still be covered in some of the same dirt Tonto buried him in — and that was before he was brought back to life.  Which, just perhaps, never really happened.  Frustrating.  How nice to reach the end of the film and be left with the possibility that the filmmakers are laughing at you, because they conned you into buying into a story that never happened.  Gee, I love it when they do that, don’t you.

If point of fact, the only thing I really enjoyed was the train sequence at the end.  Reportedly, the filmmakers really fought hard for this action set piece.  And now I realize why.  Without it, they don’t have much of a movie.  Guess you can tell, I didn’t really like it all that much.  I did, however like the white horse.  Although it was a little on the fat side.  And I really appreciate the fact that a major studio spent the kind of dough on a western that they did on this film.  Perhaps they’ll try again and get it right next time.   The LEGO sets seem to have sold really well, maybe someday we’ll find out the kids liked it.

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