DVD Review of “Spider Man: Far From Home”

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Promotional image for the 2019 film “Spider-Man: Far From Home”

I can now officially say I’ve seen every Marvel Studios film ever made. As I’m writing this, I just finished watching Spider-Man: Far From Home.

First off, between the memorial in the film’s beginning and the first end credits, two of my favorite pop hits were featured: I Will Always Love You performed by the late Whitney Houston (video) (and I was surprised it was written by Dolly Parton) and Vacation performed by the Go Gos.

I confess, I’ve known about the story including the mid and end credits scenes for sometime, but knowing is not the same as experiencing. It’s after the “blip,” the return of all of the people, half of Earth’s population, Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped out of existence in the movie Avengers: Infinity War (2018). All of the “blipped” high school kids who reappeared five years later had to take a whole year of high school all over again. This includes Peter Parker (Tom Holland), his best friend Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon), and MJ (Zendaya). Even Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) was “blipped” reappearing in her apartment now rented to other people.

But we’re eight months past that and May is heading up some fundraiser, presumably to help the “blipped” regain their former lives.

We see early on that May and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) are in some sort of relationship, but they’re not the only ones.

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Why Is Kylo Ren a Hero?

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Promotional image of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) from the 2019 film “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

A day or two ago, I saw a YouTube video on Mara Jade’s twitter account commenting on a Bounding Into Comics article titled Fans Threaten J.J. Abrams and Report Mental Breakdowns Over Kylo Ren’s Ending in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Frankly, I was amazed. I guess I shouldn’t be. As a fan of the television show Smallville (2001-2011), I watched fans on social media tear each other apart over which female lead should be in a relationship with Clark (Tom Welling). I watched the show for the superhero stuff, even though it really was a teenage/millennial soap opera.

So why shouldn’t Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) be any different?

However, the more I read the outrageous comments being supposedly made on twitter (to read them, click the appropriate link above), the more I became curious. Are these people real?

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Movie Review of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

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© James Pyles

DISCLAIMER: This film review is loaded with spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet and want to be surprised, don’t read any further!

Yes, I went to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker today with my son, my grandson, and my son’s girlfriend.

What I’m about to say will probably annoy or even anger some of my friends and acquaintances, but the movie wasn’t half bad. In fact I liked it for the most part.

This isn’t to say that it didn’t rehash the original three films from the late 1970s and early 80s, but it was better than Director Rian Johnson’s horribly failed The Last Jedi (2017).

First of all, it was visually very impressive. Just in terms of cinematic “eye candy” (no, not that kind), it’s a pleasure to watch.

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Movie Review: Meg (2018)

Promotional image for the 2018 movie “The Meg”

Right about when the 2018 film The Meg was being watched in theaters, I was reviewing the book it was based on.

Last night, I rented the DVD of said-movie and watched it.

The movie stars action actor Jason Statham as Jonas Taylor, a former rescue diver who, five years before, had encountered a Meg while trying to save the crew of a sunken nuclear submarine. He sacrificed two of his own people in an attempt to save eleven more. Accused of panicking and cowardliness, he retreated into booze and Thailand.

Bingbing Li stars as Suyin, an oceanographer and daughter to Dr. Minway Zhang (Winston Chao), innovative scientist of the underwater research facility Mana One.

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Film Review of “The Abyss: Special Edition” (1989)

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© James Pyles – DVD cover for the 1989 film “The Abyss”

I hadn’t intended to watch a film on Sunday evening, but saw a DVD of the 1989 film The Abyss and said, “why not?”

Actually, this is the special edition, so it’s expanded quite a bit from what folks saw in the original theatrical production.

The movie opens aboard the USS Montana, an Ohio-class U.S. Navy sub. The sub encounters some strange light apparition near the Cayman Trough and, caught in its wake, is dragged across a rock formation, fatally damaging the sub.

With Soviet ships closing in to salvage the nuclear submarine, the Navy commandeers a private, underwater drilling platform operating near the Trough that’s led by Foreman Bud Brigman (Ed Harris) and crewed by a bunch of roughneck oil drillers.

Brigman’s estranged wife Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), who designed the drilling rig, accompanies a group of Navy SEALs commanded by Lieutenant Hiram Coffey (Michael Biehn) down to the rig just before a hurricane hits, in an attempt to reach the Montana and search for survivors.

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Film Review: “Escape from L.A.” (1996)

© James Pyles – photo of DVD case for the movie “Escape from L.A.”

I saw John Carpenter’s 1981 film Escape From New York starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, and Adrienne Barbeau when it was first in the theaters and then a few times on disc later. It’s what I consider a “high functioning B movie.” That means it’s a lot of fun, but in spite of the quality actors in the movie, it would attain no higher level than “cult classic.” It’s a good way to waste two hours.

I’ve been aware of the 1996 sequel Escape from L.A. for years, but never had the desire to see it. However, yesterday at my local public library, I found it on disc and figured “what the heck.”

Actually, given the quality of the story of the original, and that sequels almost never live up to the original, I expected to either be bored or to hate it.

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Film Review of “Alita: Battle Angel” (2019)

When I reviewed Captain Marvel, I mentioned that one of the competing films released at the same time was Alita: Battle Angel. It’s not a movie I’d ordinarily watch, but because Brie Larson was such a pain in the butt about “Oh, look at me, I’m a powerful female warrior with a lot of victim issues,” I decided to view and compare the two works of art. In my view, Alita wins by a huge margin.

The really big issue is that Alita (voiced by Rosa Salazar) doesn’t have to rise to power by tearing men down the way “Captain Marvel” does. Her “father” Dr. Dyson Ido (voiced by the amazing Christoph Waltz), was a wonderful and flawed father figure. I would have loved a Dad like him, but he’s only a couple of years older than I am.

Everyone in the movie is complex and sometimes difficult to understand, especially Ido’s ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) and Alita’s love interest Hugo (Keean Johnson), unlike in “Captain Marvel” where we’re playing to very specific progressive stereotypes (all women good, all men bad or at least silly, even Nick Fury).

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Film Review of “Star Trek” (2009)

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Promotional image for the movie “Star Trek” (2009)

Just for giggles, the other night I re-watched J.J. Abrams’ reboot of Star Trek (2009). Yes, I saw it in the theater ten years ago with one of my sons, and what I pointed out was wrong with the movie then, is still wrong with it now.

Oh, it’s a fun romp. There’s great action, poignant moments, and some good (and not so good) acting, but let’s face it. This isn’t your Dad’s (or Granddad’s) Star Trek.

Of course Abrams, who was selected to relaunch the franchise, went on record that he always felt like (Star Trek was) a silly, campy thing. I remember appreciating it, but feeling like I didn’t get it. Roddenberry must have been spinning in his grave.

The franchise deserved a director who grew up loving Star Trek, but it got Abrams instead. Go figure.

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Film Review of “Solo, A Star Wars Story” (2018)

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Promotional image for the 2018 movie “Solo, A Star Wars Story”

So I finally got around to watching last year’s Star Wars story Solo starring Alden Ehrenreich in the title role, with Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, and Donald Glover. To be honest, I’ve been avoiding it.

Actually, last February, when I wrote my commentary Jason Reitman and the new Ghostbusters: Respecting the Fans isn’t Misogynistic, I made the mistake of calling out critics of Reitman by tagging them on twitter. I also mentioned that I’d not only avoided the 2016 Ghostbusters remake, but had also never seen Solo for similar reasons.

I was immediately attacked, but fortunately being “small fry” on social media, the twitteratti just as quickly lost interest in me.

However, some of what they said stuck with me including how I probably shouldn’t judge a movie I’ve never seen. I’m still avoiding the Ghostbusters remake, but when I saw that Solo was available as a DVD at my local public library, I figured it wouldn’t cost me anything (except 135 minutes of my life) to watch it.

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Film Review of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970)

Promotional image for the 1970 movie “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” featuring James Franciscus and Linda Harrison

I’m a huge fan of the 1968 movie Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, and Roddy McDowell. Unfortunately, my local branch of the public library doesn’t have the film available in DVD, so I’d have to request it from a different branch. It does have three copies of the 1970 sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes starring James Franciscus and Kim Hunter. It’s a horrible movie.

Okay, good things first. James Franciscus is heroic as hell. He’s a great looking guy, especially with his shirt off. Interesting side note. In the film’s beginning, his character Brent is seen nursing his skipper (no name given but played by Tod Andrews) outside their crashed spaceship. The skipper dies subsequently after having been blinded in the accident. The following year, Franciscus starred in a television show called Longstreet. The title character is a blind insurance investigator in New Orleans. No, I’m not kidding.

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