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The Last Boy Scout (1991)
"You even look at her funny, I'll stick an umbrella up your ass and open it."
Football is ravaged by scandals. "No heroes left". Can Sarcastaball be far off? Disgraced player Jimmy(Wayans, funny, and charming if not as easy-going as other roles of his) is insulted that "outside protection" is hired by his girlfriend Cory(Berry, sultry, sweet). As such, he gets off on the wrong foot with former Secret Serviceman Joe(Willis, washed-up). Well, most people do. He gets no respect. Not from his ex-colleagues, his wife, daughter, etc. Both leads are down-on-their-luck losers who are still tough, bad-ass guys. And they're going to have to start trusting each other, even if they don't want to. For the woman they are to keep safe.
This is a classic, an excellent buddy comedy. I don't think Robert Rodriguez watched very much of this before he decided Bruce should play Hartigan. Heck, maybe Miller watched this before he wrote it. Not sure why he didn't go with Halle for Nancy. Then again, nobody knows why he went with Jessica Alba. But I digress. This has 102 f-words, that's an average of 1 per minute of this 1 hour, 41 minute movie. Or 37 if you don't count the end credits. And I loved every second. There is a ton of machismo in this. Several shootouts and explosions. Dozens of deaths, including stand-out ones for a select few. Tons of violence inflicted and/or threatened. It's very clearly directed by Tony Scott(with his inimitable style, its visual flair), and written by Shane Black(countless quotable quips. Memorable pairs of goons). This is realistic on drugs, football and gambling.
I recommend this to anyone who enjoys action flicks. 7/10
Justice League (2017)
Leagues of justice done to icons?
With Superman dead, crime is rampant, hope is deteriorating, and Batman(Affleck, sad to be here, no longer brooding because it polled poorly) feels a need to redeem himself for his role in Big Blue biting the... spear. Paranoia apparently washes right off. He puts together a team(who will occasionally even work together when they face off against enemies) of people with powers, as evidence mounts of an alien invasion.
This is essentially a series of well-done if repetitive(if Steppenwolf(Hinds, who voices a full CGI character brought to life with bad effects) is in a place, he's probably there to get a MacGuffin Box, and most likely, he'll get it. You wonder why these people even pretend to be keeping them from him, and if they couldn't have done more to make them hard to get to) action scenes, with materials connecting them basically, you need to get the people from point A to point B, so every single fight isn't set in the same location. It is deeply forgettable. Meanwhile, I'm not going to pretend I didn't enjoy myself. For many, that will be enough. It's very clear what is done by Snyder and what by Whedon, and both do some things right, other things wrong.
Barry(Miller, funny, socially awkward) isn't annoying. Aquaman(Momoa, really going for that Wolverine status) comes off as a whiny adopted kid in an adult's body, and you don't buy him joining the rest. Cyborg(Fisher, going for RoboCop) goes back and forth between "I can't control the unpredictable tech growing in me" and "here's how we're gonna do this because I now know what I can do and no problems accomplishing it". The introduction of these three is rushed and underwhelming. It feels as though we're expected to have watched the three solo movies that have yet to come out yet. Wonder Woman(Gadot, who does raise a lot of the meh material she's given) is given little to do, and it's clear that those behind this don't love her character like Patty Jenkins, Gal, and 90% of everyone who watched her own film. Atlantis and Themiscyra feel like footnotes.
I recommend you go in with adjusted expectations, rather than not at all. 6/10
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Destruction and creation, building up and undermining
When the long-banished, not-known-to-exist first-born of Odin(Hopkins, whose parody of himself, as well as his somber take, are both great), his daughter Hela(Blanchett, delicious, loving every moment, and making for another one of the few and far between deeply memorable villains of the franchise) returns to Asgard, her tremendous powers and thirst for conquest mean Thor(Hemsworth going for dry, sarcastic wit, and it works) and Loki(yet again in a new personal situation with his family, albeit overall, he does little to affect what happens) have to stop her. However, they're stuck in Sakaar, prisoners of the dictator The Grandmaster(Goldblum, with his charm turning threatening from one second to the next). And then our titular hero is made to fight the gladiatorial champion The Hulk(Ruffalo getting to expand the role's vocabulary, personality, and tragedy/pathos albeit not far enough. It doesn't extend to properly exploring what he's been doing, fighting beings no match for him, previously invariably to the death, despite him leaving Earth was literally specifically to flee this exact thing. They stopped short of where the comic went with it, sadly. The supporting players are appreciated, though).
This trilogy has gotten a lot of criticism from the onset, some of it deserved, a lot of it borne out of the natural difficulties with making this kind of world work, especially within the gritty, realistic one Iron Man set up. In this entry, Earth is nearly completely absent, and certainly the only human who has screen-time is Dr. Strange, who is also "beyond". Yes, Jane Foster, Darcy and Erik Selvig are gone. Broken up off-screen. I hate that. However, with this newfound freedom, this goes full cosmic. The tone approaches Guardians of the Galaxy. It's superior to Vol. 2, but not up to the level of the original. Honestly, a few minor things seem to be there specifically to redo that, and they'd be better left on the cutting room floor. The jokey subversion/drama mix is not as strong as that, nor of the third Robert Downey Jr. solo picture. With that said, relatively little of the actual weight is lost to laughs. This still has gravity and tension. The action is fast, frequent and enjoyable, if also by far the most MCU aspect of this. Many will find this to be bland, not fun, a corporate product. Certainly, there's still a lot of room for diversity and flavor. Fingers crossed that Black Panther will push the envelope there.
I recommend this to anyone who finds the trailers appealing. You can go into this completely blind. Stay through the credits. 8/10
There they are
This is the only featurette, in fact the only extra at all, on my library's DVD copy of, well, Terminator: Genisys. It's 15 minutes long, and consists of interviews with cast and crew, behind-the-scenes footage and film clips. There are subtitles for it, in multiple languages.
They go into the many different nationalities represented(and no, you can't see them the same after you hear their real accents and dialects! Of course, this is hardly the first time you can hear them, they've been famous for a number of years now), Arnie being back and everyone's reaction to that(he talks about how in the 1984 original, he barely ever had to strip, and did not have to flex his muscles. His first villain role. Then he says "kind of heroic", which I think must be him accidentally jumping to the second entry. Or maybe he is getting obsolete), Emilia(they don't mention that she looks so much like Linda Hamilton. I mean, yes, she's an incredible actor, and a bad-ass. And that's necessary too. However, with that pick, they got the look just right), why this Kyle Reese looks(, sounds, behaves...) nothing like Michael Biehn, why Simmons joined this(why he's not among the listed on this site, I do not know) and what he brought to this, how good Jason is, the character of John, Lee(who actually had the nickname Terminator as a teenager!), Smith(wait. Who?). Everyone has something to add, and it's edited and paced well.
There is a little moderate to strong swearing in this. I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the subject. 7/10
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
30 years later, aged like fine wine
LAPD officer K(Gosling, cynical on the surface) investigates an unusual case. No, sorry, that's all you're getting for plot. If you see someone getting into a lot of detail, avert your eyes. Go into this as blind as Niander(Leto, driven by his cause). Thank me later.
This is 2 hours and 33 minutes long, which is not excessive considering how it uses its time. The pacing allows some scenes to go on for a while, however, it's always appropriate. Major props to whoever thought Denis Villeneuve would be right for this. He couldn't be more perfectly chosen. His use of symbolism, exploration of philosophy and compelling themes fit as a companion to the film Ridley Scott created, without merely redoing it(the hints are neat, if perhaps a tad too numerous). This expands upon the issues about Replicants in truly inspired ways(albeit I acknowledge that not all of them were thought up purely for this movie). The acting is sublime. If Joi(Armas, expressing so much with so much forced restraint, for reasons I won't reveal) doesn't break your heart, get an EKG stat, it's stopped beating already. This is not driven by action, rather, the gripping mystery.
There is some bloody, even brutal, violence, nudity and disturbing material in this, used well. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys speculative sci-fi. 10/10
Progress, not simply a dystopia
This is one of the only two featurettes on my library's copy of Total Recall 2012, the other being Designing The Fall. The running time is 9 minutes.
It consists of an interview(not with the director and two stars. I can only imagine there is more than one version, or that whoever submitted them didn't actually watch it), no behind-the-scenes footage and film clips. Discussed is the realism of the science seeng in the picture. The memory implantation(with experiments in rats setting up what might happen), the robot guards(including the singularity, the possibility of them making us their slaves rather than the other way around which might be how it starts out), holograms(there are already working models. Currently it's, potentially prohibitively, expensive with all the lasers. But there might be a time where the technology can be used to create a disguise), flying cars(again, extremely high cost at this time. Using a magnetic cushion, these can float in the air), an elevator a la The Fall(theoretically could be built, however, there are, for now, substantial problems with accomplishing it).
Note that this spoils a lot of what happens in the flick, in going over the things that are in use in the setting, speaking about how much of it are, or will become, entirely doable. I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. 7/10
This is not one of the 3 featurettes(The 'Next' Grand Idea, Making The Best Next Thing and Visualizing The Next Thing, all of which I've reviewed on their separate pages on this site) on the DVD of Next. Instead, it is a sitdown interview with the female star of the film. Intercut with some clips that help illustrate points made. 2 minutes(and a half, if you count the end credits). Like, you know. That's just as far as Cris can see in the picture, itself. See? It's clever.
She talks about what it would be like to see into the future, two minutes or otherwise. "It would be cool in one respect, because you can relax about what your career is gonna be like". "Or maybe not relax", she realizes. "It doesn't make life very fun", she says, speaking about preferring the spontaneity. She would rather be able to make the mistakes, even if they're painful. If you skip them all, you haven't learned anything, she remarks, perhaps having recently rewatched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind(it holds up, trust me, go back and see). She does admit she might go to Vegas and make some money, but she wouldn't stay too long.
I recommend this to any fan of her, or, *sighs* the movie. It spoils a little of what happens. 7/10
The 'Next' Grand Idea (2007)
It was something I wanted to share with audiences
This is one of the 3 featurettes(the others being Making The Best Next Thing and Visualizing The Next Thing, both of which I've reviewed on their separate pages on this site) on the DVD of Next. It consists of interviews with cast and crew, behind-the-scenes footage, film clips, and is 7 minutes long. Everyone has something to say, it's edited tightly, and neither rushes by too quickly or overstays its welcome.
The focus here is on the location of the Grand Canyon(yup, they just could not resist the pun in the title), the why(it was where Nicolas Cage took his wife on their first date, and he thought it was beautiful. Because of this, he wanted more people to see it, and, well, it's easier to put it on the silver screen than shipping people there), giving some time to the romance(not just because Cris can see what their future looks like, but to *really* fall in love with her), the challenges of shooting there(it was one of the worst production nightmares. What with having to fly down to, and back from, this inaccessible place), the Havasupai people and their relationship with Nic, etc.
I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the subject. 7/10
He gets too involved in the drugs that he's trying to destroy
He gets too involved in the drugs that he's trying to destroy This is one of the two featurettes, the other being One Summer in Austin: The Story of Filming 'A Scanner Darkly' on the DVD of A Scanner Darkly. It consists of interviews with cast and crew(lots of cross-cutting early on. Unsurprisingly, we meet a lot of animators), behind-the-scenes footage(including a time lapse that is positively exhausting even as you just sit and watch), film clips, work in progress, conceptual drawings. In an estimate, they thought it would be 350 man hours per minute: it ended up being a lot longer. This is 21 minutes long.
It goes into the roto-scoping process in detail. Drawing over live-action footage, the different approaches to certain characters(and assigning each to one particular artist, ), backgrounds and the like, the specific somewhat comic-book-y look, the challenge of Keanu's beard(not too patchy, not too full, etc.), men trying and failing to draw women(hence, Winona was dealt with by one of the females at the production studio. What? Girls sketch, too), the scramble suit(20 people on that aspect, which was more than any other group) both the acting and the post work on it, the countless rows of corn, etc.
Note that this spoils some of the movie. I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the subject. 7/10
They all don't have much of a sense of reality anymore. But he's the furthest along
This is one of the two featurettes, the other being The Weight of the Line: Animation Tales, on the DVD of A Scanner Darkly. It is made up of interviews with cast and crew(as well as Philip K. Dick himself, from 1977. In one part, he reads part of the book aloud on the radio. Isa Dick Hackeet, one of his daughters, both of them concerned with getting it right, also further supplies the personal perspective. It's such an intimate book, and I was deeply impressed with this adaptation. Really, the only major issue I see is the ending not being as clear), behind-the-scenes footage and film clips, often matched up to them being shot(most of the time, you see either of them split from the other).
Topics discussed include the novel being visionary(such as predicting the great increase in surveillance seen in more recent years. It *was* written as Nixon started the already-then-intense war on drugs, and PKD was one of the many that the government looked into, whether that really made a lot of sense to do or not. The greater police violence also really rings true), the reactions to the script by the perfectly chosen actors who perform it, the director and his approach(you didn't think you'd be spared the lovefest, did you? He talks about them, as well), the characters(Bob in particular, what with him being the first person perspective protagonist. Fred, as well), each, especially, as perceived and analyzed by the person portraying them. This is 26 and a half minutes long, the last half minute being devoted to credits.
I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the subject. 7/10