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Showing posts from 2014

Maleficent

By any rational standard, this isn't a good film. It has yawning, massive plot holes, it has, for the most part, shabby characterizations. It's plot barely exists.And I don't care. Just as Charlie Jane Anders says on io9: "I love this movie. I'm going to buy the DVD and watch it over and over."This is entirely due to a fantastic and engaging performance by Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. And the story of Maleficent, the one that Jolie tells, is fantastic.I should pause and say how great a fan I am of Maleficent, and I mean the character, the one I first met in the 1959 Disney animated feature Sleeping Beauty. A film of great simplicity, it introduces you to Maleficent, arguably the greatest villain in all fiction. Why is she so great? Again, simplicity. Maleficent is evil. Why is she evil? Who cares, she just is. The Joker just wants to watch the world burn, Maleficent just wants to watch humans squirm.So I greeted the announcement of a live action film about M…

Godzilla (2014)

Ugh.I am not going to claim I am some great Godzilla specialist, or even a big-time fan, but the original Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956) was an automatic watch whenever it was on Creature Features. Or at any other time. And decades later, when the original Raymond Burr-less Gojira (1954) finally became available in the US, it was awesome to see that giant monster in all his original, indifferent to humanity, "I crush you!" glory.This rendition isn't even in the same league as the Americanized 1956 version, let alone the 1954 original. Even the generally awful, yet somehow guiltily entertaining, 1998 version, is better.The irony is that in this film the one who knows all about Godzilla is, again, a Japanese scientist, Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), but the film opts to focus on the American white bread character, Lt. Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). So just as in the original, when that film's Dr. Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata) got to be upstaged by American …

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I’m in a distinct minority in believing that Captain America: The First Avenger was the best of Marvel’s “phase one” superhero movies. Sure, the various Iron Man films rock but that’s entirely due to the marvelous performance of Robert Downey Jr. In contrast to Tony Stark’s flamboyance as Iron Man, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is just a regular man who is turned into a super soldier. After singlehandedly winning World War 2 (at least in Europe, or at least against HYDRA, people so evil that even the Nazis rejected them), Rogers found himself frozen. He slept, and woke up in time to facilitate the defeat of Loki in The Avengers. And now he’s back again, in his second solo film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. For the most part, the film is great. Everyone hits their marks, no one has a lousy performance, the dialogue is good to great, etc. The plot is even intriguing, the writers and directors opting to turn this into a “political thriller” in the vein of Three Days of the Condor. C…

What do you do with a film like The Lone Ranger?

There's a scene in The Lone Ranger that encapsulates much of what is wrong with the film. In it, Tonto and the Potential Lone Ranger (he hasn't accepted the job yet) are sitting in front of a campfire at night. A rabbit is roasting on the spit. Quietly, gently, a group of rabbits gently bobs into view. Tonto, making some remark about nature being out of whack, tears off a chunk of rabbit meat and throws it to the curious bunnies...who erupt into a carnivorous, cannibalistic feeding frenzy.(Tim the Enchanter would cry, "See? See? I warned ya...")That scene is completely insane. It doesn't make a lick of sense, doesn't have a thing to do with the story, and adds nothing to the story. It's only there because someone thought it would look cool.The entire film is like that. It is stuffed full of crap that someone thought would look cool, with no consideration as to whether any of these cool things would contribute to a story.The film made its first colossal mi…