Mini-Review: Independence Day: Resurgence

Independence Day: Resurgence

PG-13, 120 Minutes, 2016

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About: Super-powerful Aliens somehow have superior technology and a surprise attack, but can’t handle a few humans with a “hail Mary” preposterous plan (Is that really a spoiler?)

Starring: A bunch of a people from the 1st movie (who make you feel old), two of the kid actors from the first movie recast, and pretty people for this new movie

Directed: Roland Emmerich, who really has ZERO good narrative films in his career since Independence Day (1996). I mean Godzilla? 2012? 10,000 BC? The Day After Tomorrow?

Best Thing About It: They embrace their 20-year-old past and continue the character threads as if time had passed. (I LOVED the 1996 film)

alien-queen-takes-out-a-fighter-jet-52Worst Thing About It: The movie ends like a video game – the hero trying to fight off the “Big Boss” as time runs out.

Notable Thing About It: Movie reminds you to hoard your old, dead technology. Telegraph, Short Wave Radio, Walkie Talkies have all prove useful, so make sure to hold onto your rotary telephones, pagers, and Catrivision – they might just save the world.

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Overall: While there a few nice action set pieces, the plot is utter gibberish, even for a Emmerich/Dean Devlin film. It is also hard to care that much about any one character when BILLIONS of people die in this movie. At least they give older people stuff to do. If you need to be in air-conditioning for two hours while things go boom, go ahead. Otherwise, it is a big disappointment

Rating: 1 1/2 RaMaKs (out of 4)

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Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

PG-13, 151 Minutes, 2016

uRUJzQY.jpgI grew up watching Batman and Superman. First it was The Superfriends, the quasi-Justice League show full of cheese. Then reruns of TV’s Batman and its corniness. As a pre-teen and teen I was a huge Justice League comics fan with a variety of super-heroes teaming up to fight world shattering human and alien villains. As an adult, I read fewer comics, but have seen nearly every DC comics animated, live action TV, and cinematic incarnation and have appreciated stories from the lighthearted to the more intense. You might say I’m the perfect candidate for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the bridge movie from Man of Steel to The Justice League.

Except I’m not. Reflecting the darker comics of Frank Miller and other writers, the current incarnation of DC Superheroes is very dark. The Dark Knight by Christopher Nolan was absolutely brilliant, but by The Dark Knight Rises, the widespread civilian causalities and lack of any humor made for a bit of a slog.

Now DC is trying to jump start its late-to-the-game movie empire by having Zack Snyder continue this dark trend he presented so mediocrely in Man of Steel. First, let’s be honest. Zack Snyder isn’t such a great director. 300 was an unexpected action fest, but hardly a classic. Watchmen didn’t live up to expectations. He is serviceable. And he loves long and dark films.

If you love the dark tone of Man of Steel with hundreds (but realistically thousands) of innocent lives lost and the ridiculous ending of Superman out-and-out murdering Zod, Batman v Superman may be for you. But if you like your superheroes to be heroes – praiseworthy exemplars of Truth, Justice, and the American Way, than this movie will disappoint.

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The Academy Awards – Who Should Win? 2016 Oscars

Predicting the Oscars has become a game of one or two major categories (this year Picture and Director surprisingly) and figuring out categories no one really knows (Live Action Short). You can find many “experts” to help with your Oscar pool.

Much more fun is to imagine if you had a voting ballot and select who you would vote for. Not who WILL win, but who SHOULD win.

Having seen all of the nominees for the awards below (except one), here are my choices if I could vote in the Oscars.

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Picture – Room was the best film of the year. I’ve heard it made people claustrophobic or uncomfortable or angry. I’ve heard it might not be better than the book. It was still the best picture of 2015.

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Best Films of 2015

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It always takes some time to feel ready to post the best movies of the year. While I get to the Oscar nominees pretty early, there are the dozens of fantastic smaller and ignored films that take some time (and are still coming to DVD or Streaming). There are many left on “to see” list of 2015.

 

This year saw some real entertainment from Hollywood and fewer of the super depressing films they’ve made in recent years. So with no apologies for getting it all wrong, here’s my Top 20 for 2015.

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How to become a true Star Wars Fan – Guest Blog

Guest Blogger Gregory Wildeman

(Ed. Note: Greg and I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens together. He apparently has been considering how one becomes a true Star Wars fan for the first time and shared an email with me, which I have turned into a post)

I read your review and I wanted to put an idea forth to you on Star Wars. Firstly the review was more or less spot-on in my opinion. I’d like to expand on it by taking you through a progression of what I believe is something that needs to be discussed:

How to intake Star Wars for the first time. 

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This debate, which has gone on for some time, actually has a prevailing theory: The machete order.

I find this theory to vastly under serve one trying to understand the full universe. See, the full universe is not only about the movies- there are books, comics, movies, video games, etc. Some of these are canonical (defined as released directly from a Lucas Company or now Disney) and some aren’t. I am going to create the Ultimate Order using only canonical reference. In which case you can only discuss moves, tv shows, and video games.

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And The Oscar Nominees Should Be…

I have done really well on my annual attempt to see all the big Oscar nominees by show time (Sunday, February 28) – and even better to anticipate them by nomination time (Thursday, January 14). After seeing a great New York Times article listing who Manhola Dargis, A.O. Scott, and Stephen Holden thing the nominees should be, I decided to have a hand at my own list.

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From the Times, I learned how many films I still haven’t seen that are quite notable, even if they will be ignored the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. They cite The Assassin, Experimenter, Results, Clouds of Sils Maria, Tangerine, 99 Homes, James White, The Diary of Teenage Girl, and two films I just never got around two seeing, Magic Mike XXL and Grandma. So for an amateur film buff, I might have done all right, but I have miles to watch.

Here are my thoughts on which Actors should be nominated based on the power and quality of their work. They ignore the Academy’s usual disdain for certain genres. They also don’t accept a lead role being positioned as supporting to help move an actor into a more winnable category.

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Mini-Review: The Revenant

The Revenant

R, 156 Minutes, 2015 – Opens Wide January 8, 2016

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About: An 1820s scout must survive the American wilderness as lots of really bad stuff happens to him and everyone else.

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domnall Gleeson (who has had quite the year with Ex Machina, Brooklyn, and Star Wars), and that kid from We’re the Millers (Will Poulter)

Directed: Alejandro González Iñárritu – If Birdman didn’t win you over to his skill, this will. He is a modern day master especially with his ability to craft a shot.

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Best Thing About It: Wow is this film beautiful and captivating. Long uncut shots (no surprise) with 360º swings, incredible vistas, gorgeous framing of the magnificent wilderness. Nature (mostly Canada, some Argentina) which is a co-star in this film, does its job outstandingly, and is captured with mastery.

Worst Thing About It: This is not a film for everyone. It is long. There are huge periods of silence. The plot of the movie isn’t that challenging.

And it’s pretty gross. The battles are realistic with gruesome resulting injuries. On-the-fly surgery is worse. There is a nasty persistent racism towards American Indians and the violence towards woman is raw and horrific. Animals are shown and eaten in all sorts of ways you’ve never desired. It’ll be a tough sit for many people. Know yourself.

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Notable Things About It: Just give Leo the Oscar already. 5 nominations. Should have won for The Aviator. This role was physically brutal. As IMDb reports, he grew that nasty beard, learned to shoot a musket, build a fire, and speak two native American Languages (Pawnee and Arikara). Just give him the Oscar already! (By the way, Tom Hardy is pretty outstanding too, but will get no Oscar love)

Overall: The movie is a pleasure as a visual feast and for the acting. But somewhat like Birdman, the plot is not captivating enough. Go see it as it really should be seen on the big screen.

Rating: 3 RaMaKs
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