Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

AWFUL!!!!! It was AWFUL!!! Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was way too long, and I even thought about leaving before it was even half way through.  It was dark - both the story and the cinematography.  There was an unnecessary overabundance of brutality; and there were little kids, including an infant, in the audience.  There were plenty of plot holes; and what there was of a plot was ridiculous.  There was some really bad CGI in a scene with Superman in space.  There was a last ditch attempt at some tongue-in-cheek, but it was too little too late.  I shed no tears at all; though I did manage a brief chuckle at a scene that was most likely an unintentional reminder of King Kong.   The DC universe is not for me.  I may not even see Aquaman even if it does star Even my $5.00 was wasted.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


I laughed, I cried, so I must have enjoyed Godzilla.  It was certainly better than the awful 1998 version.  It had the essential requirements for a Godzilla movie: children in danger; a bus, of course full of children, on a bridge about to be destroyed; destruction of cities in Japan and the U.S.; an atomic bomb; and other monsters for Godzilla to battle.  Something was missing, though.  The acting was decent, the special effects were good, but something was still missing.  Oh, it was Godzilla!

The plot was confusing and had plenty of holes, and I was completely lost when the first radiation eating and EMP producing M.U.T.O. (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) appeared.  "This can't be Godzilla.  It looks more like Alien," I thought.  A second monster appeared.  Still no Godzilla.  This time it was a female M.U.T.O., the first one being male.  Of course that meant that they would try to reproduce with the aid of an atomic bomb.

But wait, there must be something that can bring balance to the Force.  Oops, there's that pesky Star Wars again.  Yes, indeed, Godzilla does finally appear to battle the other monsters and; as Dr. Serizawa () said, return the balance to nature. 

The acting was OK.  was excellent.  As a matter of fact, he should have had a larger role, as should Godzilla.  Way too much time was spent on the M.U.T.O.s, time that could have gone to Godzilla and filling in plot holes.

I laughed at the plot holes, cried for Godzilla, and enjoyed my time at the early bird show in 2D for only $5.75.  I might not have enjoyed it so much if I had paid for an evening 3D IMAX show.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


What can I say about Noah?  On the surface, it is a decent sci-fi/action/fantasy film, with rock monsters (Galaxy Quest came to mind), glowing rocks that can be loaded into a bazooka (rock launcher? - pun intended) or used as hand-grenades, a crazy shaman, magic (dare I say witchcraft?), the devil, and world-wide destruction worthy of Roland Emmerich.  "The deuce!" you say.  Oh, yes.  If you were expecting a faithful retelling of the story of Noah and the flood from the Bible, you're in for a nasty surprise.  If you can cast reality and religion aside, it does have some redeeming qualities.

Allow me to explain.  Maybe not the bazooka, which must have appeared via a time warp or something.  
  • The crazy shaman.  He was Noah's grandfather, Methuselah (), who gave Noah () a potion that produced a vision of more of the Creator's message about the flood.  Later in the film, he had a hand in making Ila () un-barren.  All the while, he was craving berries (I pictured 's quest for Twinkies in Zombiland.)  
  • Magic.  Noah's wife, Naameh () may not have been a witch, but she had knowledge of healing that would probably have gotten her burned at the stake in Salem.  There was also some kind of incense that was used to put the all the animals to sleep after they arrived on the ark.
  • The devil.  There were several flashes of a huge snake shedding its skin and there was some kind of coming of age ceremony involving a snake skin that had been handed down in the family.  Ultimately Satan made his appearance as a human who succeeded in penetrating the defenses of the Ark and went about tempting Ham ().  I am assuming away, but I think it's pretty obvious.
  • World destruction.  Sure, there was a flood, preceded as it began, by a great battle, with the rock monsters doing most of the fighting for Noah's team; and  Russell Crowe did get to display some of his gladiatorial skills.  The cameras zoomed out to provide a shot of the earth covered with hurricanes, while on earth the water also rose from within the angry planet. 
  • The rock monsters.  I had to save them for last.  They were the "watchers" who took care of the humans after Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden and Cain killed Abel, at least until the humans, once they built great civilizations, killed most of the watchers.  As best I could understand, they were fallen angels who were bound to the earth (hence covered in rock).  I had a little trouble following the explanation.  The few remaining watchers allied themselves with Noah.
As I said earlier, there were a couple of redeeming qualities, or lessons to be learned.  First of all, the humans, after the garden, succeeded in building great civilizations, but raped and pillaged the earth in doing so.  Noah's world was barren.  Natural resources were gone.  People fought for food and water.  Girls were stolen and sold at auction in return for food.  It was a pretty miserable place.  Having the earth itself take part in creating the flood added to a heavy-handed lesson about what we are doing to the earth and to ourselves today.

A second lesson wasn't so overt.  Noah had dreams or visions that were messages from the Creator about what was to come.  He knew he had to build the ark to save all the creatures that would ride out the flood.  He was sure, though, that this meant that humans should not survive, except to shepherd their passengers into the new world.  He was sure that, since Ila was barren, there would be no more children and that Shem (), Ham, and Japheth () would be the last of his line.  When Ila became pregnant, Noah was sure that if it was a girl, he had to kill her right away.  After all it was God's will that humans be wiped from the face of the earth.  Not even Naameh could talk any sense into him.  I'm not giving anything away when I say that, at the last minute, he couldn't do it.  It gives one cause to ponder the conviction of people throughout history and across religions as to what they believe is God's will.  Too many of them try and have tried to impose or enforce that belief on others, often with disastrous results.

Let me sum up.  Noah was certainly not biblically accurate - far from it.  Was some of the film ridiculous?  Yes.  Will some people take offense?  Yes.  Was it worth seeing?  Yes.  I, for one, am glad I saw it and glad for the inaccuracies.  It made me curious enough to want to re-read the flood story, as well as similar stories from other cultures (like the Gilgamesh Epic), just in case they might have been incorporated into the film.  Unlikely, but I'm curious.  The environmental lesson was heavy-handed, but at the rate we are going, it has to be repeated over and over again.  The lesson on God's will remains open.  I'm afraid that there will always be people who think they have the inside scoop on God's will and that everyone else should believe their way.  Though inaccurate and at times almost ludicrous, Noah does end with a message of hope.  "All you need is love."

Friday, January 03, 2014

2013 Movie Visits

For the curious, here are my annual statistics for 2013:

176 visits to the movies (I don't count repeats)
105 current "regular" films (8 of them animated)
  71 "other" films
       15 Bollywood films
       11 short films or collections of short films (7 of them animated)
        7 documentaries
       27 classic films
       11 concerts/operas/stage productions

And which were my top 10?  It was hard to come up with this list, but these are the finalists.  They are listed from 1 to 10, but the ranking can vary, depending on my mood.

  1. Ways to Live Forever
  2. The Broken Circle Breakdown
  3. Warm Bodies
  4. Go Goa Gone
  5. Thor: The Dark World
  6. Wagner & Me
  7. Wadjda
  8. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
  9. Midnight's Children
10. Frozen

Most fun - Go Goa Gone
Favorite documentary - Wagner & Me
Favorite Bollywood film - Go Goa Gone
Favorite animated film - Frozen
Worst movies of the year (a tie) - Man of Tai Chi and The Congress

Friday, October 18, 2013

All Is Lost

All Is Lost is a well done and interesting film, but a bit too long. Robert Redford delivers an outstanding performance in a picture with a negligible amount of dialog.  I found myself, however, wanting to check the time and comparing it a bit to Cast Away and a lot to Life of Pi . Which story did I prefer? Life of Pi .

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wagner & Me

I love Wagner's operas, and yet I know that he was anti-Semitic and that Hitler was a great fan.  It isn't always easy to separate the man from his genius, but , a Jew who lost family members in the Holocaust, succeeds in doing just that in Wagner & Me.  He examines the man in personal and historical contexts and visits theaters, including Wagner's specially designed theater, where the music was, and is, played.  Ultimately, Fry comes to terms with his love of Wagner's masterpieces and is able to step, like a giddy child, into the theater to enjoy the annual Bayreuth Festival.  I really liked his analogy, comparing Wagner's music to a stained tapestry.  It is still beautiful, but the stain remains.

Midnight's Children

I haven't read 's Midnight's Children, but after seeing the film, that is going to happen soon.  The story follows the lives of two babies who were born at midnight, August 15, 1947, the day of India's independence from Great Britain.  Shiva, born to a well-to-do family, and Saleem, born to a beggar's wife, but actually the son of a departing Brit, are switched in the nursery, after the death of the beggar's wife.  Narrated by as Saleem, the story follows the boys through childhood into adulthood intertwined with the backdrop of the history of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. 

I saw the film for two reasons.  First, I was impressed with director 's film, Water, and wanted to see what she did with this story.  It didn't disappoint.  Second, the write-up categorized it as science fiction.  That aspect comes out when Saleem discovers that he can communicate with others of the 1,000 children who were born at or near the same midnight, each with some kind of power.  One of them, Parvati, is a magician, with whom Saleem falls in love.  As adults, the children are persecuted and sterilized.  In a way, I was reminded a bit of John Wyndham's book, The Chrysalids (aka Rebirth), which was the inspiration for the Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation, but with a different outcome.  I digress.  

I really enjoyed the movie.  It examined issues of religion, politics, society, family, human nature, love, hate, fear of "the other", and so on.  The book is over 500 pages, and I'm sure a lot must have been left out, particularly about the bond between the boys and the history of the 3 countries.  I'm looking forward to reading it.

As a post script, it was, as always, a treat to see  Anupam Kher in an all too short cameo role.

Go Goa Gone

Go Goa Gone is a Bollywood zombie comedy, with several laugh out loud moments.  In a nutshell, three friends end up going to an island near Goa for a rave party sponsored by the Russian mafia.  One of the drugs passed around ended up turning people into zombies, and the friends, along with a few other survivors, try to find a way off the island, while avoiding being eaten by the zombies.  was a riot as Boris, an arsenal-toting member of the Russian mafia, a bit reminiscent of  's character in Zombieland.  Rather than being a Bollywood remake, it was an original story that payed homage to other films.  A familiar line that stood out was Boris quoting, "I'll be back."

Aside from its comedy genre, what impressed me about the film was that, before it began, introduced the film with a brief warning about smoking, drinking, and drug use.  He emphasized it by relating his history as a smoker and the heart attack he had at 36.  Bollywood films always include a warning about smoking if it is going to appear on screen, but this one was actually powerful.  And the movie itself was a hilarious warning about the risks of drug abuse.

Star Trek Into Darkness

But for one detail, I loved Star Trek Into Darkness.  It was a new twist on an old story - familiar characters, role reversals, plot twists. I'm still getting used to the alternate reality, but it worked well. The excellent and already familiar crew of the Enterprise is back, and it was a treat to see in the film.  The one thing I didn't like was 's role.  I can't say why because it would give a major surprise away.  Suffice to say, he was excellent, but ultimately wrong for the character.  I wish they had just created a new one for him to play and it would have been perfect.  As it is, there are two actors who would have much better, each for a different reason.  DO NOT look at the Internet Movie Database links if you don't want spoilers. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2012 Movie Visits

For the curious, here are my annual statistics for 2012:

126 visits to the movies (I don't count repeats)
72 current "regular" films (8 of them animated)
54 "other" films
    13 Bollywood films
    11 collections of short films (7 of them animated)
    5 documentaries
    17 classic films
    8 concerts/operas/stage productions

And which were my top 10?

  1. Les Misérables
  2. Life of Pi
  3. The Avengers
  4. Brave
  5. Caesar Must Die
  6. Robot & Frank
  7. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  8. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  9. Moonrise Kingdom
10. OMG: Oh My God!

Most fun - The Avengers
Favorite documentary - Caesar Must Die
Favorite Bollywood film - OMG: Oh My God!
Favorite animated film - Brave
Honorable mention - Lincoln (a great film and award-worthy)
Worst movie ever - Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning