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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Film review of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” (2018)

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Promotional poster for the 2018 film “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”

I’ve seen the original Jurassic World (2015) once, as well as all of the other “Jurassic” movies on various occasions, and when I saw the DVD for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) at my local public library, I couldn’t resist. I enjoyed Chris Pratt’s and Bryce Dallas Howard’s work in the first film, and was hoping they could “do magic” again. They didn’t disappoint.

In some ways, this movie pulled from the very first Jurassic Park (1993), particularly with Jeff Goldblum reprising his role as Ian Malcolm, and mentioning how Hammond (Richard Attenborough) started the whole project (twenty-five years ago, my how time flies), although the eccentric genius in this movie is a wheelchair bound Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell).

At the end of the previous film, people had to leave the island of Isla Nublar because all of the dinosaurs had escaped and were killing everyone. Now, amid a secret plot to use the surviving dinosaurs and their DNA for nefarious purposes, Claire Dearing (Howard) must convince Owen Grady (Pratt) to join a small team of experts in their attempt to evacuate the island of the animals, since its long dormant volcano has decided to inconveniently come back to life.

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Film Review: “The Predator” (2018)

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Promotional poster for the 2018 film “The Predator”

I have a confession to make. I’m a fan of the original 1987 film Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, and a ton of other fun tough guys. No, it’s not even close to the best movie ever made, or even the best Schwarzenegger film, but like I said, it’s a lot of fun, relative to 1980s action, blood and guts movies. I’ve seen it dozens of times.

I’ve seen all of the other Predator sequels including the various “Aliens vs. Predators” movies exactly once. They aren’t as much fun, but still a way to kill a couple of hours.

So when I saw the 2018 The Predator at my local public library, I figured “why not?”

Like the original, it starts out in a jungle environment (that is, after the whole “chase through space” sequence), but that’s not where the main action takes place. Also, this movie is really a sequel to all of the others (not sure why they didn’t mention Aliens) and naturally, after a spaceship crash, a secret U.S. government project called “Stargazer” captures the pilot and calls in evolutionary biologist Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) as a consultant. Of course, all hell breaks loose and the Predator escapes.

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Film Review: “The Mummy” (2017)

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Promotional image for the 2017 film “The Mummy.”

I hadn’t meant to watch the 2017 film, The Mummy starring Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis, but I recently read a brief blurb that the “flagship” of Universal Studio’s Dark Universe line of films, which were meant to reprise and update the original Universal Classic Monsters series of movies, wasn’t all that bad.

Okay, I’ve also recently written a short story I plan to submit for possible publication about an ancient, evil woman in Egypt, so the topic was on my mind.

In short, it really wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t that great, either. I’ve seen the original 1932 film The Mummy starring the incomparable Boris Karloff on numerous occasions, and the 1999 remake with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz (and I do like Weisz as an actress) and was somewhat “underwealmed.”

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Film Review of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse” (2018)

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Promotional image for the 2018 film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse”

About an hour ago as I write this, my son, grandson, and I were walking out of the theater after watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018). This animated film chronicles the coming of age and origin of the Miles Morales Spider-Man (voiced in the film by Shameik Moore), who, in the movie, looks about 13 or 14 years old.

I know I just put up a link, but I haven’t read the page yet, so don’t know much about the Morales “Spidey.” I didn’t want to find out more about him before I watched the movie, and for years, I have only been tangentially aware of him. I have to admit, when I first heard of that version of Spider-Man, I figured it was Marvel taking a highly popular franchise and just inserting a person of color in order to attract progressive readers as well as pull in long-term, hardcore Spidey fans.

This movie changed all of those misconceptions.

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