Review of “Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut” (1982)

 

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Promotional image for the film “Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut

Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut (1982) is the only version of this film I’ve seen, so I have no real idea what the original theatrical movie was like. On Amazon, I found this explanation:

When Ridley Scott’s cut of Blade Runner was finally released in 1993, one had to wonder why the studio hadn’t done it right the first time–11 years earlier. This version is so much better, mostly because of what’s been eliminated (the ludicrous and redundant voice-over narration and the phony happy ending) rather than what’s been added (a bit more character development and a brief unicorn dream). Star Harrison Ford originally recorded the narration under duress at the insistence of Warner Bros. executives who thought the story needed further “explanation”; he later confessed that he thought if he did it badly they wouldn’t use it. (Moral: Never overestimate the taste of movie executives.) The movie’s spectacular futuristic vision of Los Angeles–a perpetually dark and rainy metropolis that’s the nightmare antithesis of “Sunny Southern California”–is still its most seductive feature, an otherworldly atmosphere in which you can immerse yourself. The movie’s shadowy visual style, along with its classic private-detective/murder-mystery plot line (with Ford on the trail of a murderous android, or “replicant”), makes Blade Runner one of the few science fiction pictures to legitimately claim a place in the film noir tradition. And, as in the best noir, the sleuth discovers a whole lot more (about himself and the people he encounters) than he anticipates…. With Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer, and M. Emmet Walsh. –Jim Emerson

I first watched this DVD (the director’s cut, as explained above, was released eleven years after the original) years ago, and found certain sequences so violent, that I haven’t had the nerve to view it since. However with the recent death of actor Rutger Hauer (who was so good in so many different roles) who played replicant Roy Batty, I felt compelled to borrow the disc back from my son.

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Film Review: Captain Marvel (2019)

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@James Pyles

I finally got around to watching Captain Marvel (2019) last night. I said previously, I probably wouldn’t view this film until it came out on DVD, which is exactly what happened. I reserved it at my local public library but had to wait until over 100 other people, who also had it held, watched it before it was my turn.

Even before I saw the movie, when it was still out in theaters, I wrote commentaries about the controversy surrounding the film thanks to actress Brie Larson’s (who stars in the title role) injecting her personal issues into the public marketing of both this movie and Avengers: Endgame (2019). I’ve tried to the best of my ability to be objective in my review, but unfortunately, Larson’s “personality” sometimes got in the way. As it turned out, so did Disney’s/Marvel’s apparent viewpoint.

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Film Review: Men in Black International (2019)

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Promotional Poster for the 2019 film “Men in Black International”

The other day, my wife suggested that “the guys” should go see a movie together, so a few hours ago, my two sons, my grandson, and I saw Men in Black International (2019). I’m a huge fan of the 1997 original starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, though I’ve shied away from the sequels. I probably wouldn’t have seen “International,” at least in the theater, but that was my grandson Landon’s choice, and it was nice for we “guys” to get together the day before Father’s Day.

In a word, the movie was “okay”. It was a decent way to kill a couple of hours (running time is 1 hour, 38 minutes, but there were a ton of trailers beforehand) but nothing spectacular. In fact, I had a tough time getting into the film in spite of action, shooting, explosions, and aliens.

This is a story that starts with a little girl named Molly (Fandeiya Flory) whose parents encounter an alien and are “neuralized” by two MIB agents when she’s about eight. Molly, whose memory remains intact, helps a cute little alien escape, which turns out to be important later in the story. She spends the next twenty years trying to find out about the mysterious agency the men came from so she can join.

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Film Review of Avengers: Endgame (2019)

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Promotional poster for “Avengers: Endgame” (2019)

Warning: Spoiler Alert

I was unprepared for how Avengers: Endgame (2019) hit me emotionally. I knew all the spoilers (or most of them) ahead of time, both from talking with my son Michael who had already seen the film, and from subsequently reading them online. I knew Natasha/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) would die, I knew everything.

Yet, near the end of the movie, when we were at Tony’s memorial service, I didn’t just tear up, I actually cried. I don’t think my son and grandson noticed, but it was an intensely emotional sequence in the film. I’d recovered by the time Clint/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Wanda/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) were talking about the loved ones they’d never get back, and when Steve/Captain America (Chris Evans), aged over 100 after he went back to 1945 and stayed in the past, gave his shield to Sam/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) with Bucky’s (Sebastian Stan) approval so he could become the new Cap.

I lost it again during the credits when the core Avengers actors literally signed off, which is something I haven’t seen since the end of the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) nearly thirty years ago. I realized I was saying one last goodbye to my friends and my heroes, not just their film incarnations, but the Avengers I had grown up reading about in the comic books back in the 1960s. My childhood ended all over again.

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Film Review: “The Invisible Man” (2017)

Production image for the 2017 UK film “The Invisible Man”

For a variety of reasons, I’m giving the trial version of Amazon Prime a whirl. Since it offers a streaming service, I took a look at their film offerings to see if anything piqued my interest. Except for a few small gems, everything seemed either uninteresting or it was material I’d previously viewed and had no interest in seeing again.

One exception was a 2017 UK production of The Invisible Man, a modern retelling of the H.G. Wells classic.

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Film Review: Aquaman (2018)

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Promotional image for the 2018 film “Aquaman.”

I happened upon the DVD of Aquaman (2018) at my local library and couldn’t pass it up. The film has gotten rave reviews, and given the DCU‘s relatively poor track record compared to Marvel, I decided they were due for a win.

First of all, I love Jason Momoa as Arthur/Aquaman. Even as a kid, the blond, orange shirted Aquaman of the comic books seemed pretty silly to me, especially when compared to Marvel’s Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, so Momoa’s interpretation of Aquaman is an incredible improvement and a joy to watch. I also loved Temuera Morrison as Arthur’s Dad Tom and Nicole Kidman as his Mom Atlanna. An additional treat was the appearance of Willem Dafoe as Vulko.

All that said, I thought the movie was “okay”. Oh sure, plenty of action, thrills and chills, but it didn’t really stand out. There are already plenty of films about reluctant, exiled kings and their rise to power against evil. Frankly, Marvel’s Black Panther (2018) did it better, although it’s tough to compare the two characters.

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Why What Brie Larson Says Matters to “Captain Marvel”

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Promotional image for “Captain Marvel” (2019).

I’ve been watching the Captain Marvel (2019) controversy for a little while and I think I’ve figured out what’s going on, though I’m not sure most people have stumbled onto this idea.

As you probably know, news outlets such as The Mary Sue believe that all of the negative pre-release and now release reviews of the movie are all by men who can’t stand the thought of a powerful female superhero (hello Wonder Woman). Others, such as Bounding Into Comics say this is a total lie and it’s just that the movie isn’t very good and shoves a feminist, social justice agenda down the audience’s throat.

Fortunately, neutral reviewers such as the Associated Press give a much more accurate picture of the film, calling it rather “average”. In fact, on her twitter feed, AP reviewer Lindsey Bahr stated:

Captain Marvel can be the victim of an insane trolling and also an underwhelming movie.

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Screenshot from twitter

Bahr is right in that since the movie was released to theaters, there’s been a tremendous amount of trolling of “Captain Marvel” on Rotten Tomatoes. Now I can’t trust any of the reviews that either pan the film or praise it.

But the problem isn’t the movie. The problem is Brie Larson. Okay, let me explain.

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Why is Reviewing the “Captain Marvel” Movie So Hard?

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Promotional image for the movie “Captain Marvel” (2019).

I didn’t want to do this. I still don’t have to, but then again, there’s more hype about this movie than even last year’s Black Panther. When I was anticipating watching and reviewing that film, I was “irrationally” afraid that if I didn’t like something about it, I’d be forever labeled a “racist.” Fortunately I thought it was one of the better Marvel films, and that although it told a story of significant meaning to African-Americans, it also transcended race as the epic tale of a Prince confronting the realities of becoming a King.

However, Captain Marvel (2019) which will have its general release to theaters this coming Friday (March 8th), seems to be getting a lot more press than Black Panther, at least to the best of my recollection.

First of all, according to The Mary Sue (which leans pretty far to the left), the movie is getting tons of bad reviews pre-release, but it’s only being reviewed by misogynistic white males who hate the idea not only of powerful women, but of Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) being the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe, even more so than Thor or the Hulk (okay, I’m exaggerating slightly).

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Film Review of “The Lego 2 Movie: The Second Part” (2019)

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Promotional poster for “The Lego Movie 2” (2019)

I guess it must be me, because while the general box office and critical reception of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) has been pretty much favorable, I didn’t like it. This in spite of a terrific cast starring with Chris Pratt who’s good in everything I’ve seen him in.

Yes, I know the movie is a parody on just about everything, and is meant to describe family relationships, particularly between older brother and younger sister, but I’m not sure the focus was there and it seemed jumbled, confusing, and sometimes insulting.

Since it’s still out in the theaters and you might not have seen it, I may end up dropping some spoilers you won’t appreciate, so you’ve been warned. I must also confess that although I have seen The Lego Batman Movie (2017) exactly once, I haven’t seen any other the other Lego films, so I don’t have any familiarity with the characters or the general universe.

Yesterday, my wife suggested that my two sons and I take my grandson (he just turned ten) to the movies. We had a choice of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the aforementioned Lego movie, and Alita: Battle Angel. My son (grandson’s Dad) felt Alita might be a bit too “mature” for my grandson, so that just left Spider-Man (which we’ve seen before but it’s terrific) and Lego. My grandson chose the Lego film because he hadn’t seen it yet. That’s how I ended up seeing it (which I normally wouldn’t).

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Film Review: “Serenity” (2005)

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Poster for the 2005 film “Serenity”

I’d heard of the television show Firefly for some time, so when I got the chance to rent the entire series from my local public library a number of years ago, I jumped at the chance. Needless to say, it was magnificent, a sort of science fiction meets western theme, with sinister, bloated government conspiracy thrown in. Joss Whedon not only created a (rather short-lived) legend, but unwittingly presented the world with an anthem for the libertarian party (which is very much what Whedon isn’t).

Firefly, we hardly knew ye.

Yesterday, again at the public library, I happened to chance upon the “epilogue” of the too soon canceled classic, Serenity (2005), and no, not the 2019 film currently in theaters by the same name which I have no intention of seeing.

[Yes, I know this violates the credo of the pundits at the much vaunted File 770, at least as applied to award-winning science fiction writer Robert Silverberg, that you shouldn’t sample SF/F that’s older than ten years, but so be it.]

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