Tag Archives: Movies

Movie Review – Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

Mexican drug cartels smuggling terrorists over the border leads to a clandestine war in this Fox News wet dream/second installment of a movie that needed a sequel like I need another hole in the head.

(NOTE: I’m not singling out Fox News.  CNN, MSNBC…I’m just getting my news from a talking parrot at this point.)

I liked the first “Sicario” film.  It didn’t get enough play, but it was riveting and snubbed at the Oscars.  If you missed it, (SPOILER ALERT) Emily Blunt played a Federal agent recruited into the CIA’s border war against Mexican drug trafficking, an effort headed up by a surly CIA agent (Josh Brolin) and an assassin (sicario) played by Benicio Del Toro.

I won’t get too far into spoilers, but if you recall, the sicario’s hatred for the cartels was so intense that there was no action he considered too far in the war on drug kingpins.  Del Toro’s character doles out all manner of punishment and in a climactic final (and ultra disturbing) scene, he may either goes too far and proves himself as evil as the people he’s fighting or is justified in that to fight evil you must out evil them.

Thus, it seems a bit out of character that the sicario goes out of his way to protect a kidnapped drug kingpin’s daughter in this go around.  Maybe the sicario found religion since the last film.  I don’t know.

As films go, it’s a good diversion, the special ops tactics are fun to watch but I think the first film really was a one and done.  Emily Blunt sold the film as the audience was able to get an intro to a whole seedy underworld through a newb’s eyes, whereas we’re sort of led to believe Brolin and Del Toro are going to take each other on over a difference of opinion but, well….OK I’ll shut up.

STATUS: Shelf worthy.  Worth a rental at best, or wait till it’s on cable or Netflix.

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After a Second Viewing, The Last Jedi Doesn’t Suck as Much as I Thought

Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here.

SPOILERS, although if you haven’t seen it yet, you don’t really care that much, do you?

As you 3.5 are aware, I really laid into The Last Jedi when it came out, calling it the stinkburger to end all stinkburgers.  In particularly, it bugged me that the Force Awakens set us up for hopes of awesome Luke/Rey Jedi training montages and possibility Luke is Rey’s father.  Instead, we got a bitter old Luke who just whines about all his problems to Rey.  Our hero, who we assumed would go on to be a lifelong badass just gave up on life and stared at the ceiling of a cave for 30 years.  Just didn’t seem like a good life for Star Wars’ most beloved hero.

But after watching it a second time and without the “WTF are they doing to Luke?” lens I watched it with the first time, I get it.

Two main points:

#1 – Lack of Communication and Assuming the Worst

There’s an ongoing subplot in which Poe challenges Admiral Holdo’s leadership.  When he learns she is evacuating the ship, he is angry, telling her that the First Order will just blow the escape transports up and she’s a coward who refuses to fight.

SPOILER – as it turns out, Holdo had a plan.  Once the ship was evacuated, she rammed the First Order ship at light speed, sacrificing herself but making a cool scene in the process.

A lack of communication is tearing us apart.  When we hear disagreement, we immediately assume the disagreeing person is an enemy.  We shut down attempts for the disagreeing party to explain their point of view.  We assume the worst and we assume any explanations offered are really just attempts to mask evil intent.

Holdo might have told Poe to shut up and trust her and avoided a mutiny.  Poe might have assumed his commanding officer had learned a thing or two in her movement up the ranks and trusted her.

In the real world, we see Democrats and Republicans assume the worst about each other every day when they could try to reach common ground and make some deals that might be beneficial to all.

#2 – We are Hopelessly Stuck in the Past and This is Ruining Our Future

Luke is stuck in the past.  He is paralyzed by the Jedi’s past mistakes.  The Jedi trained his father, Anakin, and in doing so, unleashed Darth Vader on the world.  When Luke sees the same evil lurking in Ben Solo, he thinks about killing Ben to avoid repeating the mistake that was made with Vader.  He doesn’t, but this display sets Ben down a bad path, turning him into Kylo Ren.

Was Luke wrong in not killing Ben?  Perhaps he did not learn from the Jedi’s past mistake.  Perhaps emotion made him avoid reason – i.e. ignoring the hard learned via Vader lesson that if evil is spotted in a Jedi trainee, said trainee should be sliced and diced with a lightsaber ASAP.

Or maybe Luke chose not to be beholden to the past.  A past failure with Vader doesn’t mean a future failure with Ben.  By being stuck in the past, Luke caved into past fears and raised his lightsaber toward Ben in anger.  Ben had done nothing wrong and was pre-judged based on a past he didn’t live.  Assuming the worst in people before they have even had a chance to become the worst might just turn them into the worst as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ben informs Rey she can drop her past, let it go and become stronger.  Forget about her parents.  There was nothing special about them.  Stop clinging to a hope that they’ll swoop in and save her and offer an epic story of why they had to abandon her.

Perhaps the real world advice there on a personal level is to stop trying to make your parents happy and make yourself happy.

On a generational level, it might be that everyone needs to hug it out and get a long.  Stop looking at each other as enemies just because our parents did.  Stop repeating the mistakes made by past generations and stop carrying their biases and mistakes into the next generation.

There was a part where Rey had a chance to join Kylo Ren.  Maybe the Resistance and the First Order are just two sides of the same coin – zealots who can’t let the past go, who are bent on carrying past grudges into the future forever, even if they must tear the galaxy apart forever.

I think it would have been a real coup if Rey and Ben had teamed up.  It would have been a fabulous cliffhanger, though I don’t know what a Rey and Ren vs. the First Order and the Resistance film looks like.

In reality, we don’t have to hate each other because our parents did.  We don’t have to repeat our parents’ mistakes because we fear change.  We don’t have to be stuck in ruts forever because of mistakes we made in our personal lives.

Conclusion – Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water

Luke, and to my surprise, Ghost Yoda, decide that the Jedi should go the way of the dodo because of mistakes they made.  This seems rather Draconian and ignores all the good the Jedi did…and it also assumes that it is possible for any organization to exist with a perfect track record and that organizations should only exist if they only never, ever, ever make a mistake.  The second a mistake is made, the organization must disband.

Yes, the Jedi made Vader but they also defeated Vader.  Rey points this out so maybe in a way she is a voice of reason.

Real world application?  There seems to be a disturbing sentiment out there that because of America’s bad history, it can never have any kind of a good future.  Slavery.  The killing of Native Americans.  The list goes on and on.

Do we wish that equal rights for all had been established on Day One?  Yes.  But luckily, the mechanisms needed to bring about change via various legal and governmental process.  Today, we aren’t perfect, but surely we’ve come along way, even in the past 50 years.

America isn’t perfect but like an imperfect body, wounds heal.  The develop scars to remind us of past mistakes, scars which serve as reminders to not repeat past errors and to keep on a path that doesn’t open up new wounds.

America and Jedi have both made mistakes but to get rid of either because of past mistakes is to assume any and all replacements of America and/or Jedi will offer complete 100 percent perfection.

Plus, I just don’t think anyone wants to see a Star Wars movie with Jedi.  If the Jedi are gone altogether or are renamed the Knights of Gawooby Dooby or something, I think that will be the point where Star Wars jumps the shark.

Your thoughts?

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Movie Review – The Incredibles 2 (2018)

It was incredible.

BQB here with a review of the long awaited sequel to “The Incredibles.”

Wow.  How quickly fourteen years go by.  When I saw the original film in 2004, I was young, full of hopes and dreams and now, all these years later I realize that being the humble proprietor of a blog that’s only read by 3.5 people is the best my life will ever get.

SPOILER ALERT – before the film, the cast, i.e. Craig T. Nelson (Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter (Elastigirl) and Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone) come out to apologize for taking so long to make a sequel, and then in a fun way, explain how long it takes to make an animated movie, from coming up with a story idea, refining it, drawing it out on paper, getting it into computerized animation, etc.  It’s all so complicated you are amazed animated movies, or really, any movies, get made at all.

As it turns out, 14 years was worth the wait.  This is a rare sequel that is good as the original, and perhaps even surpasses it in some ways.

The story picks up right after the end of the last film.  Superheroes continue to be hated by the public and the government, thought of as jerks who just get in the way and cause more damage to the city while fighting villains that the world would be better off just letting the villains take whatever they want.

However, Winston and Evelyn Deavor (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener) don’t share this view.  Wealthy telecom company owners, this brother-sister duo believe that superheroes are the future and are willing to put up their money and public communication skills on the line to rehabilitate public perception of superheroes, all in the hope of changing anti-super hero laws.

SIDENOTE: I’ve always felt that the anti-hero laws of this world reflect the real world.  All too often, we bitch at people who are trying to solve problems because it’s easier than, say, actually rolling up our sleeves and trying to solve the problems ourselves.

Back to the review. The Deavors become the Incredible family’s benefactor, putting them up in swanky digs and funding missions for Elastigirl.  That’s right.  It’s Mr. Incredible’s turn to stay home and play Mr. Mom, helping super fast son Dash with his homework, invisible girl Violet with her teenage angst, and, to hilarious effect, corralling baby Jack-Jack, whose budding super powers have no bounds as the little guy is all emotion with no ability to control himself.

Meanwhile, Elastigirl dazzles in a particularly awesome scene with a special motorcycle that can separate apart as she needs it to.  Remember, she’s like a big rubber band, so as the action happens, her butt can be twenty feet away and the back half of the bike will detach and stick with her butt as needed.  Sounds silly, yet awesome on the big screen and kudos to the writer who thought of that.

There are many great action scenes like this, showing that Disney knows super heroes, Pixar knows animation, so more animated super hero flicks might definitely pan out.  As I recall, Disney’s other animated super hero flick, “Big Hero 6,” was further proof of this phenomenon.

It all culminates in taking on “The Screenslaver,” the villain who is able to control the minds of anyone who watches one of his hacked screens, with an underlying message that perhaps we could all use a little less screen time.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Lesson?  Take your time with sequels, Hollywood.  Resist the cash grab urge.  I know you’re in a money making business but put sequels on the back burner while you work other projects, and then when those sequels have simmered enough, move them to the front burner where they can satisfy our appetites with gourmet precision rather than fast-food speed.  The extra time taken here paid off big time.

Not to keep knocking “Star Wars” but keep in mind that absence makes the heart grow fonder and maybe even makes the movie maker’s mind sharper.  Maybe 14 years is a long time but a sequel, say, once every 5 years is like getting together with an old, long lost friend, whereas a sequel once a year is like that house guest who sets up shop in your living room and refuses to leave.  Sure, it was fun for a week but now you’d like to be able to watch your TV and sit on your couch in peace.

Other lesson – more animated super hero movies or, barring that, more animated any kind of adventure movies.  Live action hero movies are great, but animated films can really stretch boundaries and give adults something to actually enjoy while captivating the kids.

 

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Movie Review – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Oh God.  What a poopfest.

Let’s just get this review over with.  SPOILERS ABOUND.

The biggest spoiler is that it sucks, though maybe we should have realized this ahead of time as this is the fifth movie in a franchise based on an early 1990s film the success of which was good writing and acting paired with the first example of how CGI, if done well, can enhance a film.

Alas, the lesson was not learned that films cannot live by CGI dinosaurs alone.  While the actors do their best, the plot is like a 500 pound T-Rex turd – mildly interesting from afar, but big, smelly and useless up close.

At first, it feels like a bait and switch.  Our heroes, Claire and Owen (Bryce Howard and Chris Pratt) are recruited to save the dinosaurs left on the island from the previous film, from an impending volcano eruption.  I expected 2 hours of our adventurers running around with dinos in a race against time whilst avoiding incoming hot lava and am willing to ignore how our heroes did not learn from the previous film that Mother Nature decided long ago that man and dinos don’t mix and that the dinos should be left to be cooked because they can never be controlled.

Indeed, the first 20 minutes where this happens make up the most interesting part of the film, but from there it struggles.  I don’t want to accuse the film of a bait and switch because on a second glance of the plot, the trailer is honest about what the film is about and I suppose it’s my fault that I only watched the first part of the trailer.

At any rate, the hot lava island chase idea is cut short early and we are transported to the mansion of Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), the never yet mentioned former business partner of Hammond from the original film.  Lockwood, Clare and Owen have been double crossed by Lockwood’s business associate Eli (Rafe Spall) and a merc (Ted Levine, who, as we all know, once famously asked a lady to put the lotion in the basket in “Silence of the Lambs.”)  His presence in the film is cool and creepy but doesn’t save it.

Blah, blah, blah the villains have brought the dinos to the mansion to be auctioned off to the world’s wealthiest reprobates.  Owen and Clare are left to escape the dino infested estate, and a dino fight in the bedroom of Lockwood’s granddaughter seems surreal.

It all culminates (BIG SPOILER) in dinos being released into the world and although that’s scary, it seems unlikely, as the number of dinos released is relatively small and surely the Army could have taken them out before they get too far and take over.

It ends (SPOILER) with Jeff Goldblum reprising his role as Dr. Malcolm, testifying before some kind of committee about the dangers of dinos and/or man’s hubris in thinking he can control the uncontrollable.  I felt cheated as I assumed Goldblum was going to be running around on the lava filled island, firing off quips to our plucky band of younger heroes.  Alas, his presence is just a quick cameo.

From “Star Wars” to this film, this “We’re bringing the old timers back!” only to have them move on and off the screen quickly seems lame.  Although Harrison Ford’s part in “The Force Awakens” is big, Luke and Leia were underutilized.  Here, I’m not sure why Goldblum isn’t given a bigger role as he seems to still be physically capable and his mind seems sharp so…beats me.  Money?  Who knows.

Hollywood, take a cue from Dr. Malcolm.  Just because you CAN clone dinos doesn’t mean you should.  Therefore, just because you CAN make a fifth sequel a very original, yet to be surpassed dino film doesn’t mean you should.

Yes, man was blessed with the ability to do a number of things, but he was also blessed with the ability to consider whether he should do these things and when it comes to dino movies…please, unless you come up with an original plot, very doubtful at this point, just take the cash you would have given to a sixth cash grab and green light something else instead.

The wisest among the characters in the series know the dinos should die yet the Hollywood suits, like their corporate dino company counterparts, just don’t get the point.

STATUS:  Not shelf-worthy!!!  Oh, it pains me to say that.

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Movie Review – Tag (2018)

Tag, you’re it, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of “Tag.”

I love it when a movie pleasantly surprises me.  Going into this, I expected a fairly standard to possibly mediocre comedy.   I didn’t expect anything great or terrible, just something to pass the time.

I was wrong.  This movie is a laugh riot and who knew that Jeremy Renner had comedy chops.  Not this guy.  That’s who.

Renner, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Hannibal Buress and Jake Johnson star as a group of friends who have been playing the same game of tag every May since childhood.  While they were kids, simply running around the neighborhood whilst slapping each other was fine, but now that they are adults and men of means, they resort all kinds of tricks, schemes, antics and shenanigans to trick each other into getting tagged.  From wacky costumes, to elaborate set-ups and even downright lies, nothing is sacred as these pals try to one up each other.

Renner plays the king of the tag game, having never, ever once been tagged.  To tag him is the holy grail of the game, and as his wedding approaches, the tag posse see an opportunity, not to be there for their best bud on his big day….but to give him the tagging he so richly deserves.

Isla Fisher stars as Helms’ foul-mouthed wife who takes the game more seriously than her hubby, pushing her man to engage in all kinds of hi-jinx to tag their long time adversary.

Meanwhile, Annabelle Wallis stars as Rebecca, a Wall Street Journal reporter who is so taken aback by the silliness that she follows the group in order to report on their taggings.

Interestingly enough, the movie is actually based on a Wall Street Journal article about a real life group of friends who kept a game of tag going from youth well into adulthood.

The movie’s motto is “You don’t stop playing when you get old, you get old when you stop playing,” and ironically, the game gives the friends, who all live in different parts of the US, to drop what they are doing every May and seek one another out.  How sad that friendships blossom in youth only to require an excuse to continue in adulthood, but alas, that’s the way life goes.

Very funny.  Made me bust a gut several times.  Renner is hilarious as he takes down his would be tag assailants with expert precision and extreme prejudice.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Why is the Star Wars Franchise in the Dumper?

Hey, 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

“Solo” did poorly at the box office, though strangely, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Meanwhile, the latest saga films, “Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” were commercial successes, but the fans aren’t happy.

“Rogue One” did well commercially and in my opinion, is the best of the four new films.

I do believe this is partly “Star Wars fatigue.”  Absence makes the heart grow fonder and when 10-20 years passed between sequels, you really got excited to see a new film.  I was 20 when “The Phantom Menace” came out and while today, I think that movie does not hold up, at the time, I was just so excited to see light sabers being whirled around on screen again.

Say what you will about the prequels, but they did, absent an occasional hiccup, at least attempt to follow the pre-established rules of the universe.  Plus, the characters were put into peril, so the stakes were high.

Sure, you know faves like Yoda or Obi Wan weren’t going to buy the farm, but faves like Mace Windu or Qui Gon Jinn were kicking the bucket so the peril made you grip the edge of your seat.

Cliffhangers and new threads meant something.  When new questions popped up, you’d get answers.  Maybe not answers you wanted but you got something.

Here in the new saga films, there’s a lot of jerking us around.  Too clever by half writers saying, “Ha!  Fooled you!” and not realizing that if there’s no payoff we are losing interest.

So, if we’re getting a new film once a year, plus the films aren’t paying off for the super fans, I don’t know, this doesn’t bode well for the franchise.

I think either they should have cast new actors to play Han, Luke and Leia (younger actors) and start a new three part saga right after the end of “Return of the Jedi.”

Either that, or they should have put it far into the future and just wracked their brains to create all new characters, perhaps some older aliens who live longer coming in from the old films, but a whole new setup with heroes and villains.

Instead, they tried, just as King Solomon once did, to split the proverbial baby and as we all know, babies don’t split well, they are much better off intact in one piece.  A future that was just an homage to the past didn’t bode well.

My two cents.  What say you, 3.5 Jedis?

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Movie Review – Ocean’s 8 – (2018)

Women can be criminals too!  It’s the current year, after all.

BQB here with a review of  “Ocean’s 8.”

As a knuckle dragging caveman/vile misogynist pig according to today’s standards of political correctness, I went into this movie thinking it would suck with the gale force wind of a thousand hoover vacuums.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against the idea of all female casts.  I’m not against taking a role that is traditionally male and turning it female.  While I do despise the idea of taking actual male characters and making them female (Jane Bond or Indiana Jane just seems patronizing to women and saying that they’ll never be complete unless they grow a dick), I realize there might be some wiggle room (i.e. female Ghostbusters might have been great if better writers had been involved) or here, that it is possible that infamous thief Danny Ocean might have had a sister with the same last name, capable of pulling off an intricately planned heist.

At any rate, I enjoyed it.  Does that mean I’m losing my misogyny?  I don’t know.  I’d argue that I never had any, just that I don’t think its enough for women to show up to a traditionally male endeavor and proclaim they’ve taken it over because they have vagina power and not do more.  Here, the women do more.

The film does follow George Clooney’s early 2000s remake of the film of the same name, originally starring Frank Sinatra.  Debbie (Sandra Bullock), just as her brother years before, is fresh out of prison, promising authorities she’ll lay low and turn her life around, only to go straight into planning a magnificent act of thievery, here, the swiping of a $150 million necklace from the neck of a famed actress played by Anne Hathaway.

Cate Blanchett is Debbie’s #2, just as Brad Pitt’s Rusty helped Danny assemble his crew so many years ago.  The thing I liked about this movie is we get to see two actresses, Cate and Helena Bonham Carter (who plays a down on her luck fashion designer) play themselves.  Over the years, we’ve grown used to seeing this pair play fantasy characters (Blanchett as the elf Galadriel in “Lord of the Rings” or Carter as any one of the grungy Goth characters in Tim Burton films) that is interesting to see them play characters straight without all kinds of weird voices, makeup, costumes, and so on.  For once, you get to see them, although they have to lose their respective Aussie and Brit accents and pose as Americans.

If Matt Damon as Linus was Clooney’s #3 in command, then that job goes to Sarah Paulson as the fence in charge of selling the hot jewels.  She plays the role well, as a suburban mom who has been out of the game (at least on a direct level) for a long time and is reluctant to get back in.

Rounding out the cast is Awkwafina as a plucky pick-pocket and I gave props to anyone who gets their start on YouTube with funny vagina rap songs only to end up starring in an Ocean’s remake.  Her humor is contained, her jokes fairly standard i.e. when you recruit a pickpocket, you’ll have to ask for your watch back.  Still, this was big for her and perhaps her own film will be in the works someday.

Rihanna, the fabulous diva who should really have to share screen time with no one, is believable as a hacker.  Her turn in “Battleship” is often cited as a weak performance though in her defense, that was a pretty weak movie that is, to this day, unwatchable and her presence is the least of the flick’s problems.  Here, she gets quick, easy lines, often staring at a computer and saying witty things as the hacker magic happens.

And of course, Mindy Kaling of “The Office” fame gets her big screen time, here as a jeweler who can work wonders with hot stones under pressure.  Alas, all of these women have to share the film, clipping their individual wings just enough for the ensemble cast to work.

At times, the plot fumbles and gaping plot holes are patched with rubber cement and silly putty.  Giant, lingering questions about how the heist is pulled off are treated casually but in the film’s defense, the Clooney films did that as well.  I recall one of the Clooney films in which the heist depended on Clooney’s girlfriend, played by Julia Roberts, tricking people into thinking she was Julia Roberts and, hell, if we were willing to give that franchise a nod and a wink then we can do so here.

One complaint I’ve always had about “women taking over traditionally male roles” is that perhaps men haven’t always been right about everything and maybe women were right all along.  When women want to play crude, perverted partiers (i.e. last year’s “Rough Night”) or become MMA fighters (i.e. Ronda Rousey) I wonder if they ever realize that women who avoided becoming drunken lechers or sweaty fighters were in the right all along and the boorish men they yearn to copy were nothing to idolize.

Thus, as trendy as the Clooney Ocean’s films were, is a crook really something to aspire to?  Maybe women should focus on the good roles that men traditionally played, like astronauts, scientists and business tycoons and, you know, forget about the men who do dreadful things.

While I won’t give it away, the film is at least self-aware enough to acknowledge that complaint with a joke, so it earned my applause.

I draw the line at turning male characters into women though.  James Bond didn’t oppress women with his penis and if Hollywood feels the world could benefit from a series about a female MI6 agent, they can create a new one with a different name and back story any day, just as they can if they feel the world needs a female treasure hunter.  Actually, they did that years ago with Lara Croft with no need to chop Indy’s dick off.

Original, never before seen female characters in comic-booky films are possible, if Buffy taught us anything.

As for roles that were male in the past but could be women without cutting a hypothetical male character’s dick off, it all depends on the writing.  Ghostbusters aren’t required to have dicks, and good writing could have sold a dick-less ghostbuster crew.

Meanwhile, thieves can have vaginas (perhaps many of us jilted menfolk knew that all along) but as in any film, it must have good writing or at the very least, as happens here, gloss over writing problems with pizazz and style.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

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The New Star Wars Movies – Why Disney is Screwing it Up

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Hey 3.5 readers.

Oddly, “Solo” did poorly at the box office, even though I think it was pretty good.  Out of the four new films, “Rogue One” and “Solo” are the only ones I’m interested in watching again.  “Force Awakens” and “Last Jedi” are drek.

Which leads me to a conclusion – “Star Wars” only works during the period of the Empire’s reign and ensuing war against the Rebellion.  You’ve got the best villain in movie history, Darth Vader, who, let’s be honest, carries the franchise.  You’ve got the most beloved characters – Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie et all.

The prequels were fun at the time they were released but they don’t hold up over time (though “Revenge of the Sith” is solid.)  Sith holds up because we see Yoda being a badass, we see Anakin’s final transformation into Vader.  Vader always makes these movies watchable.

Alas, when we lose Vader and the original characters and/or time period, the franchise starts to poop the bed.  Keep in mind “Rogue One” had all new characters and a brief Vader cameo.  The new characters carry it because we understand the stakes – the Empire doesn’t mess around and to be caught means certain death for the rebels.

I think Disney sort of understood that the Empire vs. Rebellion dynamic sells the franchise.  So, they attempted to resurrect it with this odd idea that is never really explained, namely that the Republic has been restored but remnants of the Empire and Rebellion are still fighting each other in the form of the “First Order” and “The Resistance.”

Meh.  Lame.  One would think it would be the Republic vs. the First Order or what have you.  We learn little of Snoke, while Kylo Ren is sort of fun as an emo Vader wannabe quasi hipster rebel against mom and dad millennial Sith lord, there just isn’t enough story.  We’re thrown in and we aren’t told a lot about this world.

Further, there were attempts to capitalize on Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and the late Carrie Fisher being around long enough to appear in the films.  In retrospect, perhaps they would have been better used in sequels in the late 1990s, early 2000s where they were younger and more spry.  They weren’t in fighting shape this go-around, not knocking them, that’s just what time does to us.

But look what they did to Han and Leia.  These great heroes are relegated to an elderly, washed up bickering couple.  Maybe Leia isn’t because she’s a general but Han apparently never gets behind traveling the galaxy with his furry BFF Chewie.  Didn’t we, as fans, want more for these beloved characters?

As fans, didn’t we envision Luke traveling the galaxy, getting into adventures in his middle and old age?  Did we really want him to just run off to an island, become a hermit and a whiner?

Let me break it down.  “Solo” proved (well, to me but apparently not to the public) that younger actors could play Solo, Lando and thus younger actors could have played Leia, Luke, etc.

They did it with “Star Trek.”  Sure, we balked.  But then we remembered that Chris Pine isn’t an insult to Shatner but an homage.  The new doesn’t replace the old.  It’s just a way we can bring our old faves back again.

All the original characters were fairly young at the end of “Return of the Jedi” so there was a whole, big, beautiful timeline that could have been explored between Luke, Leia and Han’s youth and their old age.  You could have incorporated Hammill, Ford and Fisher into it, maybe as old timers remembering their youth.

There’s a whole slew of novels that the fans loved that cover the time after the fall of the Empire, showing our heroes going up against remnants of the Empire and even facing new villains.

So, I think there was a big well of possibility there that was left untapped.  And sadly, to stay true to the new dumb films, if it is ever tapped, you have to make Han and Leia a bitter divorced couple who never see each other.

Are “Awakens” and “Last” fun spectacles?  Maybe “Awakens” was ok for the nostalgia factor, but “Last Jedi” left me disappointed.

The whole thing has taught me that other than Empire vs. Rebellion, there really isn’t any idea for a future for the franchise.  I understand that Hammill, Ford and Fisher are iconic and not easy to replace.  Those are big shoes to fill.  But we felt that way about “Star Trek” and low and behold, that worked and with careful cast selection and good writing, it could have worked again here.

They’ve chosen to mine the Empire days with side stories but I really think the main saga could have continued with young actors playing the originals.

Oh well.  At some point, the saga will have to enter a new time period with a whole new setting, a whole new power structure, new villains, new heroes, and, God help us, they’re going to have to come up with a new threat other than the Death Star.

Until a solid writing team nails that, they should stick with Empire vs. Rebellion and perhaps look into seeing if the Han/Leia divorce can be written off as a bad dream.  Perhaps Episodes 7-9 can all be written off as a bad fever dream had by Chewie when he got a hold of some tainted chili cheese fries and farted himself into a coma.

Then when he wakes up, he’s with a younger cast.  It picks up after “Return of the Jedi” and a young Luke, Han and Leia travel the galaxy tracking down the Empire remnants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Review – Red Sparrow (2018)

Spies!  Communism!  Boobies!

BQB here with a review of “Red Sparrow.”

It’s every red-blooded, God-fearing American man’s worst nightmare – to hook up with a super hot chick only to discover that she’s a Russian spy.

Luckily, that’s never happened to me.  I’m so ugly that if a woman comes onto me, I automatically assume she’s a foreign intelligence agent.

Joke’s on her.  There’s no intelligence to be found here.  :::rimshot:::

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Dominika, a ballerina whose career is cut short due to an injury, recruited to become a “sparrow” aka to receive training on how to gather intelligence by seducing men with the power of her vagina.  What a heavy responsibility, to have to spy for your country with the power of your lady parts.

My main observation is that I doubt there would ever be a school to teach women how to lead men down a path of self-destruction, not because women aren’t into that but because they usually know how to do that naturally anyway.  Sorry, bringing my own personal baggage into this review.

Going into it, I thought this would be a pretty standard spy flick, but it actually did catch my attention, and not just because you get to see J-Law’s hooters (possibly her butt though I’d wager it’s a stunt butt double).  It’s refreshing to see boobs in a movie.  You so rarely get to see them anymore.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot.  Suffice to say, her first assignment is to seduce American CIA operative Nick Nash (Joel Edgerton) and as the film progresses, Dominika starts playing both the Russians and Americans.  At times, you begin to wonder which side she is on, has she chosen an allegiance, or is she just playing both sides off the other for personal gain?

Hard to say, but I like a movie that a) keeps you guessing and b) shows boobs.

STATUS:  Come for the sweater puppets.  Stay for the intrigue.

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Movie Review – Death Wish (2018)

Paul Kersey is back and his death wish is stronger than ever!

BQB here with a review.

SPOILERS ABOUND!

You know 3.5 readers, in today’s highly politically correct times, I’m surprised “Death Wish” was ever made.

Then again, the original 1970s version was controversial.  In that one, Charles Bronson played architect Paul Kersey, who, after the death of his wife and rape of his daughter, he starts packing heat.  Technically, he never commits a crime, but rather, he walks the mean NYC streets and when trouble finds him, he doesn’t back down, run away, or become the next victim.  Rather, he stands his ground and shoots the trouble.  The message?  If everyone had a gun, criminals would go extinct.

Controversial then but even more so now given the epidemic of school shootings our nation is seeing, especially with the push for gun control that liberals are pushing for.  Ironically, liberal Hollywood has been churning out more films that feature gun violence than ever before, but as long as its just random violence that’s considered OK, but if its a man who buys a gun to defend himself, family, and home then God forbid.

In this go around, the original “Death Wish” formula is followed, but also broken away from.  Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis, who is one of the most well-preserved sixty-somethings out there, though he’s flattering himself in an attempt to play a late 40s/early 50s man) is an ER doctor who sees the effects of gun violence daily as he treats gunshot wounds all too often.

Alas, when a robbery of his home goes wrong, his wife (Elisabeth Shue, another well preserved older person flattering herself by playing a woman in her 40s) ends up dead and daughter ends up in a coma.

Just as the original Kersey, he blames himself.  He feels he’s failed as a man and begins packing heat.  He dons a hooded sweatshirt as he takes out various criminals, causing the media to dub him, “The Grim Reaper.”  And unlike the 1970s, everyone has a camera phone today, so his exploits are caught on video and shared all over the Internet for armchair spectators to gawk at.

Now in the original version, guns weren’t the only controversy.  The race issue was controversial as well.  Kersey blew away white robbers, black robbers, he wasn’t focused on the color but rather, on saving his life even though he was out looking for trouble.  Still, the number of black bad guys capped in the original was high and as I watched it recently, I knew that would never stand today.

In this new version, there’s, well, what I can only describe as an attempt at what I might call, “conservative political correctness.”  Yes, at one point in the film, Kersey, a white man, goes out and shoots a black drug dealer named “The Ice Cream Man” for the poison he deals out of an ice cream cart.  The dealer is sitting, hasn’t drawn, and that’s a deviation as the old Kersey always waited to be attacked first then defended himself.

The optics are bad – a white man shooting a black man, as well as a black man portrayed as a criminal.  But then the debate in the film begins.  A radio show featuring black hosts takes on the issue.  One host thinks it’s wrong, a black man killing a white man.  Another hosts argues it wasn’t so much a white man killing a black man as it was an arguably good man killing a bad man and doing the community a favor, ridding the world of a bad person.

In fact, Kersey learns of the Ice Cream Man in his ER when he treats one of his victims, a young boy, under ten years old, forced into a life of drug pushing by the dealer, shot in the leg for failing on a deal.

Meanwhile, the film goes out of its way to put black people in positions of power, from doctors and nurses that Kersey works with, to a cop he treats for a gunshot wound, to one of the two detectives investigating his wife’s murder (Kimberly Elise, partnered with the illustrious Dean Norris of “Breaking Bad” fame, appearing here in a quasi-Hank reincarnation.)

And Kersey even gets his first foray into vigilantism when he guns down two white guys trying to kidnap a black woman, saving her from being raped, sold as a sex slave, whatever ill fate would have happened to her.

So, the overall message seems clear – black people aren’t a monolith.  All too often, we see violence, whether it’s in the news or in a TV show or movie, and we look at the perpetrator’s race and people get offended that the member of X (whatever race) is being portrayed badly.

But what this film seems to be arguing is that not everyone in any given race is the same.  It isn’t about black or white but good vs. bad.  Paul is a good person, just as the black doctors, nurses, cops, and detective he encounters regularly are good people.  The black drug dealer and white kidnappers are bad people.  Good people who do the right thing of all different races, colors, religions, backgrounds should stick together and stand up against bad people of all different races, colors, religions, backgrounds who do bad things.

If it’s got to be a case of “us vs. them” then let the “us vs them” not be one race against the other but rather, good people vs. bad people.  Kersey, a (prior to the start of the film) law abiding doctor, has little in common with the white kidnappers, even though all three are white.  Meanwhile, Detective Jackson (Elise) is law abiding and has zero in common with the Ice Cream man, and doesn’t exactly cry a river over the Ice Cream Man, even though both are black.

Overall, it’s a good film, though there are some gaping plot holes.  For example, an early scene seems to argue that it’s rather unfair that Kersey has to wait a long time, do lots of paperwork, take a class, jump through hoops to buy a gun when he has an obvious need for self defense, given the recent murder of his wife.  Yet, later, when he needs a gun stat, he’s able to get one from the same gun shop ASAP and that’s never explained.

And the main deviation from the original is that while Bronson’s Kersey never caught the baddies who ruined his life (a young Jeff Goldblum in a Jughead hat leading a gang of toughs), this Kersey does focus on tracking down the men who ruined his life, with the occasional deviation into extracurricular vigilantism.

So, there you go, I pretty much ruined the movie for you, but in my self-defense, I did give a SPOILER warning up front.  It was no surprise to me that this film was rushed out of the theaters quickly.  But then again, it’s just as surprising this film was ever made.  Bruce Willis, one of the lone conservatives in Hollywood, was probably one of a handful of actors willing to even touch the script.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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