Monday, June 10, 2019

The Scorpion King (2002)

This is last mummy related movie for now. I won't be reviewing The Scorpion King sequels. The Scorpion King is kind of prequel/spin-off from The Mummy Returns (2002). I say kind of because this Scorpion King has little to do with Scorpion King from The Mummy Returns. The Rock plays both characters and character has same name. maybe those direct to video sequels tell how this guy become Scorpion King of The Mummy Returns. I am not going to waste my time trying to find and check those because they have even less to do with this movie than this has with The Mummy Returns.

The Scorpion King is quite good for sword and sorcery movie. It doesn't try to be high art. It runs on Rock's charisma and constant action scenes.You have bad guy. Nice sets and costumes. Few interesting characters. That is enough for entertaining movie. The Scorpion King doesn't want to be anything else. It is just entertaining action movie.

The Scorpion King is second best movie in Brendan Fraser's Mummy series. I like it more than The Mummy Returns where the character was introduced. Movie at least has consistent story and knows what it is.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is third movie in Brendan Fraser's Mummy series. This time Evelyn's and Rick's kid is adult. He finds the Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Rick and Evelyn are tricked to be there when Dragon Emperor awakes. Jonathan happens to be there too. This time Evelyn is played by different actress and magic of the first movie is completely gone.

It is always nice to see Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh but they are not enough to save this. Moving setting to China gave series new energy but losing one of the main cast didn't help. It is weird Evelyn now knows ancient Chinese legends when she was into ancient Egypt in first movies.

This was last movie in Brendan Fraser's Mummy series. There were plans for next one to be set to Peru but plans were cancelled for Tom Cruise's reboot and Dark Universe. Reboot was bad but this series had lost what made first movie good. Main characters had become generic action characters. Dragon Emperor was generic pure evil. Ending was cgi characters fighting cgi characters.

If you want good movie based on China's history you should watch Jet Li's and Michelle Yeoh other movies. This is lame attempt of the style.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Mummy Returns (2001)

The Mummy Returns is sequel to 1999 version of The Mummy. I wondered why I didn't remember anything but bad CGI Rock from the movie. When I watched it I saw there was nothing to remember. Like typical sequel this has more of everything and few would it be nice to see if scenes. Surviving cast of first movie returns with addition of Evelyn's and Rick's son.

First movie had nice story. This feel more like they did this because first one was successful. They didn't have story to use so they changed story little bit and added new bad guy. This time Imhopet his lover's Anck-Su-Namun's reincarnation and they try to find legendary Scorpion King to take his army. I don't know how reincarnation of Imhotep's lover and bringing him back to life again fits into first movies rules. Maybe he got some penalty because he isn't as powerful this time.

To mix things up Evelyn is reincarnation of first movie's pharaoh's daughter who was guardian of key item of this movie. Because of this she know where to find key items and can fight. Rick is revealed to be ancient guardian which came important later when they meet Scorpion King. At least Jonathan stayed the same.

The Mummy Returns doesn't catch magic of the first movie. It tries too much to be the same and not the same. Supporting cast isn't as good as in first movie and story jumps from one place to another. What made sense in first movie is replaced with something similar which makes less sense. You can enjoy it if you want to see more of these characters but it is not on level of first movie.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Mummy (1932)

I expected something very different from this version. I expected guy in bandages walking around and killing people. Old mummy movie I had seen was that kind of movie. This was actually good movie. It tells about Imhotep who was cursed to be living dead for trying to resurrect his dead love. And of course English archaeologists who find his tomb.

I always wondered why Boris Karloff's performance was praised. It was when I thought he was wrapped in bandages. He is more like hypnotic wizard. Without his performance the story wouldn't have worked. He brings other worldly tone to scenes he is in with still being relatable with his love story. He is not evil. He is more man trying to resurrect his love at any cost.

I didn't write anything about curse being connected to box rather than coffin in 1999 version review. It comes from this movie. I don't think it was explained in 1999 version. Here it is explained that the text in the box is more dangerous than man in the coffin. Which makes sense. I thought it was minor plot hole in 1999 version to make heroes find the coffin without getting the curse.

Quick comparison to 2017 version. Helen in 1932 version has more agency than Jenny in 2017. Let that sink in. To benefit 2017 version Tom Cruise doesn't act like he could force female lead to have sex with him which happens in 1932 version. I guess that was viewed romantic 1932. Outside that one scene male lead is overly romantic.

I have hard time putting first two versions in order which was better. 2017 version was the worst. 1932 and 1999 versions are both good and both are good for different reasons. 1932 made Imhotep more relatable thanks to Boris Karloff's performance but you have to endure 1932 acting from other actors and 1932 writing. Brendan Fraser can't carry 1999 version as well as Karloff. 1932 is more horror and 1999 more fun action. Both are worth watching. You can safely skip 2017 version.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Mummy (1999)

After watching The Mummy (2017) I felt I had to get it out of my head with watching good mummy movie. I hadn't reviewed The Mummy (1999). So here it is. Some comparisons to 2017 version at the end.

The Mummy (1999) is adventure horror movie set to 1926. It follows two groups of archaeologists/grave robbers/adventurers as they found grave of cursed priest Imhotep. Other group gets cursed when they wake up the mummy of Imhotep. Survivors have to put end to curse before Imhotep becomes unstoppable.

Cast has interesting dynamic for this kind of movie. All three protagonists are comic reliefs to some extent. Rick is bit of a parody of typical action movie male lead. Evelyn and Jonathan are fishes out of the water as English upper class adventurers and Ancient Egypt fans. Fourth main comic relief is Beni who was Rick's untrustworthy friend and now other group's guide to the grave.  Fifth comic relief is drunken pilot who has lesser role. Everyone else play this more like serious adventure horror movie.

It doesn't go to Ash from Evil Dead territory. It stays more serious. I wonder how movie would have changed it Rick was played more like John McClane from first Die Hard or like Indiana Jones. I feel he was originally written that way but Brendan Fraser made it more parody of character type.

Watching 1999 version made me realize how Tom Cruise centric 2017 was. I was going to compare female lead Evelyn and Jenny but then I realized only Tom Cruise and Mummy did anything in 2017 version. In 1999 version Evelyn and Jonathan are important stopping Imhotep. They actually do something useful. American adventurers move plot forward by doing something. Beni moves plot forward by doing something.

I honestly can't think of any character on human side on 2017 version who did something that didn't involve getting Mummy or Tom Cruise to somewhere or telling Tom Cruise something. I take Jenny as example because she is character with most agency outside Tom Cruise and Mummy. First she appears to town where tomb is after Tom Cruise has found it. She talks herself into tomb so Tom Cruise can follow her there. She tell she wants coffin so Tom Cruise can give it to her. In England she follows Tom Cruise telling him what is happening and gets Tom Cruise to Prodigium. In Prodigium she tells Tom Cruise how to destroy dagger. It is like rumors of Tom Cruise changing the script were true.

1999 version is better almost in all ways. CGI is better in 2017 version but it doesn't matter when it is worse all the other ways.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Mummy (2017)

The Mummy (2017) is first and only movie in Universal's Dark Universe. DC wanted to name its magical universe as Dark Universe. Like as opposed to Zack Snyder's light DC universe. This was new attempt to start Universal Monsters universe. Previous was Dracula Untold but it is already forgotten by most. So is this one too. Only thing remaining is DC has hard time to name their magical universe as Dark Universe if they attempt to do it.

I didn't have any interest seeing this in theater. I was kind of curious what it will be but it took this long to check the movie. I gave it fair chance. Sometimes I like movies other don't like. This isn't that kind of movie. This is lets throw things into script and hope audience can make some kind of connection between them kind of movie. There is Egyptian mummy found in Iraq because Crusader Knights' graves were found in London. Mummy's grave is found because two soldiers search it from over 100 km from where they should be. They order airstrike which exposes the grave. Then they are sent to London with the mummy for some reason. Like they don't have anything to do where they were and they won't be punished for disobeying orders.

I could continue but you got the point. This continues until the end. When movie got interesting there was something stupid taking me of it. There were few interesting ideas but it wasn't enough when rest of the movie was mess. I didn't care about the characters. Nothing made me interested of the cinematic universe. Prodigium is mix of different styles without having any personality. It should have more steampunk. It was supposed to be mix of ancient and modern but it didn't have either enough. Modern things weren't modern enough and ancient were what they could gather easily from somewhere.

Prodigium was supposed to be center point of the cinematic universe. Two characters were introduced better. Jenny was practically love interest and damsel in distress. She was shown to be smart in few scenes but mostly she was damsel in distress. We probably were supposed feel bad for Doctor Jerkyll but he was ready to kill movie's protagonist to summon ancient god and kill it. We were supposed to looking forward seeing these characters again.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Avengers: Endgame (2019) - spoiler review

This is spoiler review. If you want non-spoiler review you can find it here.

I assume you have seen the movie or don't care about spoiling if you continue here. I tried to expect nothing when I went to theater. I could have never guessed Endgame would be time travelling heist movie. Or that Thanos will be killed during first half hour. Or that Thor becomes The Dude from Big Lebowski. Or that Hulk becomes Hulk with Banner's brain. Other studios wouldn't have taken this kind of changes with movie that puts end to eleven year long film series. I feel this was end of Avengers for some time. Next ten years are for others if they attempt to do something similar again. They got rights for Fantastic Four and X-Men. I expect next ten years to be about one of those groups. Probably Fantastic Four because X-Men have still one new non-MCU movie scheduled and there haven't been good Fantastic Four movies.

So why I think this is last Avenger movie. Only Hawkeye is left from original group. Thor will be with Guardians of the Galaxy and Banner-Hulk wouldn't work in future movies. They have Sam Wilson Captain America, War Machine and Scarlet Witch to make the team. Unless Spider-Man or Ant-Man and Wasp joins the team. It would be hard to get people excited about that team.

I am bit disappointed how Black Widow was killed. We waited for her solo movie but now it is confirmed she won't come back. Death scene was remake of Thanos and Gamora scene from Infinity War. This time it didn't work as well. It made sense from story's point of view. Soul stone wasn't anywhere until Thanos got it. Back and forth fight who can sacrifice himself or herself took bit too long. After Black Widow died there was almost nothing about her. Only mention she is not coming back. Compared to how Tony and Steve were send away this was almost like she was forgotten completely.

Going into movie it was expected at least Tony or Steve won't make it. Tony died and Steve decided to stay in past and grow old there. They can bring Steve back but Tony is gone. When they made Tony important for their heist I forgot he was likely to die. He was instrumental for their heist to work. But when Doctor Strange and Tony looked at each others I knew this was it. It was proper way to send away character who started the whole thing. Not sure if Tony meeting his father was that important in movie with running time of three hours.But they wanted that there before killing the character.

Steve got big moments showing he is worthy of Thor's hammer. This was hinted in Age of Ultron but now it happened. Bit of a fan service but this was time to do it if they wanted to do it. Steve's send off fit to character. He was always man out of his time and now he had change to get back to his time. Sending both and Black Widow in same movie was big move from Marvel Studios.

It wasn't completely clear have we lost Loki and Gamora. Movie established that only those who died during snap were brought back. Vision, Loki and Gamora died before that. Vision is not coming back. Loki escaped in past with infinity stone and younger Gamora came from past. Gamora disappeared but it wasn't sure if she died along Thanos' group or not.

About that. Movie took three easy ways out. Captain Marvel brought Tony back when it needed to happen and rat pushed correct buttons by mistake to bring Ant-Man back. Third was most problematic. Old Nebula and young Nebula had some sort of connection which let young Thanos to see what happened in future where old Nebula came and what they were trying to do. That was quite far fetched but needed to happen for Avengers to have obstacle to overcome.

I think rules of time travel are big mess if you analyze them further. They worked first time because there was so much going on. Next time I listen more carefully. It is problem they still have working time machine. There is no reason why they couldn't use it in future. It can also make people young again. Probably they didn't figure out in time way to return infinity stones and destroy the time machine.

I wonder what they are planning to do with Captain Marvel. She is One Punch Man or should I say One Punch Woman. That is how she was used here. She came to solve problems when she was needed. Other times others had to do by themselves until Captain Marvel was needed. I was looking forward second movie after her first movie. But now I am not so sure. She is made to be so powerful only thing to worry is if she gets to fight in time. It was like that in finale of her movie but it seem to be even more in this one. One Punch Man played that angle well. Will Captain Marvel do the same. Will her next movie be mix of One Punch Man and Psycho-Pass?

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Expanse - season 3 (2018)

I never reviewed second season of The Expanse. I watched it and meant to write about it but then forgot to do it. First half was good. Second half was disappointing because new plot without protomolecule started and everything was less exciting than in first half. It is less exciting when season finale is two fights inside two ships than potential destruction of Earth. Third season begins where second left off. There is bigger change after mid-season finale than it was between two season.

Third season brings The Expanse to be best science fiction series at the moment. It is what first and first half of second season were. Season is divided into two halves but second stay interesting too because it didn't turn up to be build up for next season. First half benefits for later half of second season which was build up for it.

Most unbelievable aspect in series is how James Holden happens to be in correct place and how correct people happen to be where they need to be. Everything else tries to be as scientific as possible. Except distance and time it takes to travel that distance. But it would make quite boring tv to have characters travel most of the time. After third season even protomolecule feels believable. After second season it felt magical story telling device. In third it was explained better and made more sense.

Book series The Expanse is based on is currently eight books long. Next one should be last one. So far one book has been one season. I started to wonder should I check the books because this is interesting story and science fiction series' doesn't have too good track records lasting over five seasons. Syfy already cancelled this after three seasons. Reason we get fourth is Amazon picked it up. Is Amazon committed to do remaining six seasons or do they check it season by season?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

This is spoiler free review. I will publish spoiler review next week.

I am not sure should I be happy that Endgame worked as well as it did or be disappointed that last hour didn't work as well as two before it. There hasn't been cinematic universe like Marvel Cinematic Universe before. Endgame closes big chapter of it. To underline this movie doesn't have end credit scene. Marvel hasn't announced any new MCU movie. Sony has announce next Spider-Man movie. We know there will be next Guardians of the Galaxy because of what happened to James Gunn. But other than that Marvel Studios' have made sense of end. These movies have made so well in box office that there will be future movies but they haven't announced road map like they had until this movie.

Marvel Studios can and have balls to make the movies which are not what we expected them to be. Endgame works best when it does it. It is worst when it is what we expect chapter ending movie of big franchise to be. CGI battle at the end and fan service go too far. Most of the fan service happens during last hour. They even redo my favorite scene from Infinity War with different characters. It has impact and made sense for the story but it has way less impact than when we saw the same thing in Infinity War.

Endgame has tons of fan service. Some of works really well like Tony and Steve joking about Steve's ass (memes and fan fiction shows them often as lovers). Some feel like they wanted to check as many boxes as possible. This happens in scenes where main characters visit sites and characters of other movies. Or when other female characters join Captain Marvel in middle of last battle. It felt like they wanted to show they have strong female characters like we don't know they are there. And then there are would it be nice if x did y moments which rarely work on any movie.

If Endgame was cut to two or two and half hours cutting the part where last battle become confusing mess and fan service for sake of fan service this would have been on level of Infinity War. I really liked first two hours. Then there happens something which makes very little sense but it needed to happen for us to have ending we had. Before that there were many great moments like how Thor and Hulk dealt with what happened in Infinity War.

If you like MCU movies you will enjoy Endgame. It is not huge drop from Infinity War but it still is a drop. There is first openly gay character which can be easily cut from Chinese cut but it is still there for rest of us.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Black Panther (2018)

It is hard to write spoiler free reviews of Marvel Studios'  movies. They haven't released bad movie yet. Most of them are not really good. Just good enough to be entertaining. Each movie is different but there is feeling of being Marvel Studios' movie. Black Panther was movie event of 2018 for having mostly black cast and if I am not wrong that was also the case behind the camera too. It showed fictional African country with future technology. It did well in box office to show diversity doesn't hurt movies.

Spoilers from this point onward. Reviews and analyses said it had philosophical battle between T'Challa and Killmonger. I didn't expect high minded debate but I was surprised how Killmonger was presented as crazy terrorist guy. There was philosophical debate between hiding from the world and helping rest of the world. But that debate was between T'Challa and Nakia. Nakia wanted to help rest of the world when T'Challa wanted Wakanda to hide. T'Challa saw merit in Nakia's way of seeing things only after he learned what happened to Killmonger and what it made Killmonger to be. Killmonger wanted revenge and world war.

Killmonger's position was to use Wakanda's superior firepower. And did they debate about these positions? No. They did what winning side wanted to do. Which kind of was Killmonger's point of view. Being strongest and forcing others to do what strongest wants. They even decide ruler of Wakanda with fight to the death. If movie has message it is it is probably not a good idea to decide ruler by fighting to death. But they couldn't have that message in superhero movie because in superhero movies winner is right. Might makes it right. One with better arguments tend to be stronger in movies.

To be honest most Wakandans didn't see this as good idea when T'Challa was challenged first time but this is how the nation works. It is weird how things are solved by fighting in such a technically advanced nation.

I remember Killmonger to be praised as better Marvel Cinematic Universe villains. I didn't see him that way. Praises probably come from his death scene. Before that he did everything to look like villain. Good villains believe in their cause and try to sell their view. Killmonger believed his cause but didn't try to sell it to anyone. His plan was to become king and use his position to start war against rest of the world. He didn't try to get others on his side.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Death of Superman (2018)

It is funny how animated DC movies show how stories should be done when DCEU live action movies ruin the same stories. The Death of Superman was part of Batman V Superman. It took few minutes at the end of the movie and ruined the whole the death of Superman thing. Story arc was big in comics rather for killing Superman than being really good story arc. This animated movie is the best version of the story. Only good version of the story to be honest.

Someone in DC had good idea of killing Superman. They invented new villain to do it. Doomsday only needed to kill Superman and die in process. So they didn't spent too much time inventing him. He is angry and he fights. In comics story practically goes unstoppable monster appears from somewhere and beats every hero until it meets Superman. Then they fight until they both die. There are no other story arcs. In Batman V Superman Doomsday was just thrown in because someone thought it was good idea.

What makes animated movie better is it has more than Doomsday coming to kill Superman going on. It has Clark Kent telling Lois Lane he is Superman and everything included to it which gives emotional weight to story. In other versions this had happened earlier. Animated movie knew Doomsday fight wasn't enough. There had to be more to make this interesting. Addition to Lois Lane arc there were few smaller characters getting arcs showing how death of Superman felt.

The Death of Superman is also setup for next story arc Reign of Supermen. Origin story of one of the Supermen is shown during the movie. Other are shown during end credits. Movie have emotional impact even when it shows Superman may not have died after all. It is something Batman V Superman couldn't do.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Captain Marvel (2019)

Captain Marvel is another fun and entertaining but forgettable Marvel Studios movie. I would put it among better half of those but not among the best ones. It tells origin story of Captain Marvel and is start of Avengers initiative.  Movie is set to 1990's. It should work if you watch movies in chronological order. This sets things in motion for first Avengers movie and end credit scene set them for forth. Compared to other female lead superhero movie Wonder Woman this was better one. This didn't drop the ball in the end like Wonder Woman did. This was spoiler free part. It is what you can expect from Marvel Studios. It has own flavor but in the end it is Marvel Studios movie.

Now to spoilers. It was interesting to see Skrulls as good guys. When I read more comics they were bad guys. Don't know if they have ever been good guys in comics. In comics they were big space empire at war with Kree. Movie convince us that this is the case in MCU too. But it was later revealed that Kree is the empire and Skrulls are rebels trying to survive. I still can't believe Skrulls as good guys. I wait them to show their real colors in sequel.

I want to see more of Kree. I hope they get bigger role in next phase of MCU. Supreme Intelligence reminded me of Sibyl System of Psycho-Pass. It looked similar and had similar function. ...And in comics they are similar in other ways too. Potentially watching Psycho-Pass will spoil future MCU movie where Supreme Intelligence's real nature is revealed. More I think about it more sure I am where Supreme Intelligence plot is going.

Ronan the Accuser wasn't necessary. I see why he was here but having him here made Captain Marvel too powerful. At least too powerful to stay on Earth in future movies. Which means she won't stay on earth because Marvel doesn't tend to make stupid decisions if they have time to plan. Firing James Gunn was stupid but he is rehired now.

CGI Samuel L Jackson wasn't distracting. It was weird when he was with "young" Coulson who didn't look any younger. Not sure if that was inside joke or something. It felt like it was. Not too distracting but noticeable.

Guess I have to say something about main character. It is bit hard because she felt diluted. She had lost her memory. She was empty vessel filled by Kree. But she didn't felt like she grew when she gained her memories. She gained powers and changed side. But she remained dedicated solder through out the movie. She is like lowest common determiner. Character who is relatable to most people. Story of put down woman rising up was more important than personality. I don't say that was wrong choice since this seems to be empowering movie. I just hope she gets more personality in future.

First Captain Marvel was among better half of MCU movies. Second one could be among best movies if it deals with Kree all the time and Supreme Intelligence is what I expect it to be.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Farscape: Season 1 (1999)

This is Farscape's 20th anniversary. That is reason why we got restored HD versions for streaming. I remembered liking the series but it often happens watching series again shows it wasn't that good in first place. This isn't the case with Farscape. I am surprised how good it looks after 20 years. Practical effects and puppets are the reason. One reason for series was showcasing The Jim Henson Company's capabilities. It is reason why creatures look better than in other science fiction tv series. Some look even better than creatures in big budget movies.

Farscape tells about astronaut John Crichton escaping militaristic organization Peacekeepers with escaped prisoners and exiled peacekeeper. Aeryn Sun is exiled for too long contact with unknown species. Ka D'argo is warrior, Zhaan priestess and Rygel slug like overthrown ruler. Crichton comes through wormhole to their prison break and end up with them on living ship.

First season doesn't have big story arc until episode 18 which start season finale. Before that there is prison break, episode where they find out what is happening to their ship and new crew member Chiana joining in episode 15. Inside slots separated by those events episodes can change places without problems. In some cases changing order would to fix problems. There is episode where Zhaan and Crichton bond but in next episode Zhaan is eager to leave John behind only to in later episode refer to bonding episode saying Crichton carries piece of her within him. Continuity isn't too important in the finale either. One character just disappears somewhere when they are escaping Peacekeepers.

Farscape focuses in characters. Characters look alien and have interesting back stories. It doesn't have philosophical debates other science fiction have. It is more setting interesting characters free in science fiction settings and seeing what comes up. First season is used for introducing the characters and bonding them. What was refreshing was they didn't have roles. They were people thrown together trying to survive and get back to their homes.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Love, Death + Robots (2019)

Love, Death + Robots is anthology series of short movies. Most short movies are science fiction but there are few horror ones. It is like modern version of Heavy Metal movies. Each movie is less than 17 minutes and there are 18 of them. Animation is good in all of them. Stories vary in quality. Some would have worked as full length movies.

Beyond the Aquila Rift and Zima Blue rise above the rest. I could easily see Beyond as big budget full length movie. Really good science fiction movie. Zima Blue is harder to see as full length movie. It was only one with more than just nice idea. It had something deeper. But extending it further might have hurt the impact.

After first eight episodes stories' quality drops considerably. After those there is only Zima Blue which rises to same level. Even over the top episodes (When The Yogurt Took Over) worked during first eight episodes. Second half had all the worst episodes (Shape-Shifters, Lucky 13, Blindspot and Alternate Histories) which didn't seem to have any point. Yogurt and Alternative Histories go similarly over the top. What differs them is that Yogurt has a point to make when Alternative Histories just stack up craziness.

Love, Death + Robots is adult animated series which some creators seem to think means they have to show genitals and add rude language. I am not saying you shouldn't do it. It just felt unnecessary in few short movies. There was no reason for it. When there was reason it worked. I didn't get same feeling from Heavy Metal movies even when they had lot of sex and violence.

Love, Death + Robots is worth checking because the good episodes. It is quite uneven because short movies are made by different people and they don't have any connection with each others. Good episodes tend to be on first half. I might have liked Sucker of Souls less if it wasn't in between better episodes. Episodes on second half don't have that benefit.

Monday, March 18, 2019

IO (2019)

I like science fiction movies with little or no action. Moon and Solaris are high on my favorite movie list. Ex Machina goes to same category. Also one of my favorite movies. All has small cast. Each can build tension without threat of violence. Then there is IO which on paper is similar movie.

IO tells about young scientist woman living on dying Earth. She tries to figure out way to save Earth after almost everyone else has left the planet. Air has become poisonous on lower places. On higher places it is still breathable. After last evacuation flights are announced a man with hot air balloon lands next to her home.

I am not sure what I expected from IO. At the beginning it spend time establishing protagonist. Problems start when she is established and plot should start moving on. There is practically nothing building any tension. Characters spend most of the time literally waiting for something. What they wait changes during the movie but most of the time they are waiting for something without any sense of urgency.

She is not on brink of scientific breakthrough. He seem to have all the time in the world until he decides to go to last evacuation ship. But even then there is no feel of urgency. We learn something new from characters but it doesn't matter. There are couple twists which either were so obvious it is hard to call them twists or felt really weird when thinking what happened earlier.

I wanted to like IO. Couple changes would have made it better and more interesting. Having she being close to find a way to save Earth and him wanting more to be on last evacuation ship would have given them conflicting motivations. Now it is just two people hanging together even when their backs stories gave them a reason to have conflict. Some sort of conflict was written but it wasn't there.

IO is annoying movie because you can see all the potential but they backed down at some point. You can get interesting story from contents of his backpack and his backstory. That story was written there at some point but someone didn't like it. It is not about special effects budget. Just writing and doing everything better with same resources would have made the difference.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Has DCEU as we know it ended?

I saw news where higher up in Warner Bros said they will concentrate on individual movies instead of making deeply interconnected movie universe. I guess there were hints of it with Joker movie which isn't connected to other movies and Shazam which trailer don't look anything like other DCEU movies. They may get back to interconnected movie universe later. It looks like they are keeping which has worked and change everything else.

Wonder Woman and Aquaman will get sequels because audiences have liked them. Suicide Squad will get spin off Birds of Prey with Harley Quinn. Harley Quinn is popular character and it was few of better liked parts of Suicide Squad. And Suicide Squad will have James Gunn's sequel. First Suicide Squad was marketed like DC's Guardians of the Galaxy. Sequel might actually be what we hoped the first be.

Concentrating on individual movies might sound like good idea and what they should have done from the beginning. Marvel Studios did that except they had interconnected world on back of their mind all the time. DCEU concentrated interconnected universe on expense of the individual movies. It is not the only problem movies had. Now they are going to other direction. If they completely forget interconnected universe it might come back to haunt them.

DCEU has lost Superman and Batman. Without them anything built for Justice League is gone. They can cast new actors but it would be really confusing since other characters from earlier movies have same actors continuing. There will be new Batman but it will be hard to connect him with Wonder Woman and Aquaman from earlier movies. There might be two different Jokers if Jared Leto get back to Suicide Squad's Joker. Even more if there is new Joker for young Batman.

Warner's DC movies could get really confusing really fast if they concentrate on individual movies and make them best they can be without thinking interconnectivity. It could be like reading character's best comic book stories without reading anything that happens in between. It could bring good movies but later everything feels like mess. At least for us who care about stories and continuity.

With Zack Snyder gone I have some hope for the future of Warner's DC movies. I have really high hopes with James Gunn's Suicide Squad. Wonder Woman sequel can actually be good movie when it doesn't happen during World War. Film Noir Batman could be really good. There is potential but previous track record haven't been too good.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Miami Connection (1987)

Miami Connection is legendary bad movie. I wanted to see what all the fuzz was about. Movie isn't as exciting as its reputation let you believe. Maybe it was because I watched it alone. With right group it would have worked better.

Movie tells about band named Dragon Sound. They annoy everyone just by existing. Another band hates them because they want to play on same venue. Two band members date which makes girl's brother hate the band. Group of ninjas hate them because they are only thing preventing the group to rule the city. There is no plot. Band just plays on club. Band members go to school and live together. Various groups fight the band. And that is it.

Almost forgot. One band member is looking for his lost father. That is closest thing to a story. Other than that it is escalating fights. It is just the whole world wanting to fight the band and their friends for various reasons.

"Only through the elimination of violence can we achieve world peace". Movie ends with that. Couple minutes before that band members went crazy killing ninjas. If movie wanted to have message of peace it didn't do it well. There are couple lines against violence but band goes to fight other gangs because someone left note on their car's windshield. There isn't much more than band playing and band fighting. At the beginning they back down but in the end they go crazy killing people.

Miami Connection is full of wtf moments. I can see why it has the reputation. But in the end it is non-characters walking from one scene to another. It gets pretty boring pretty fast. Most of the insanity isn't interesting enough. This is a bad movie.  You need to have correct frame of mind and probably correct group with you.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Nightflyers (2018)

There is a small obscure tv series called Game of Thrones. You probably haven't heard about it. It is based on Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series by George R.R. Martin. When that got attention of few people it made sense to make tv adaptions of Martin's other work. This is based on Martin's Nightflyers novella.

Series is almost ruined in the beginning. It show scene from later where ship has had incident, one crew member has gone mad and other one kills herself. I watched this unspoiled expecting first contact with aliens science fiction. Beginning set this to be different type of series. Biggest problem was it showed where two characters will end up. After that you wonder how they end up where they end up. That start to happen on later half. Before that showing scene near the end ruined characters arcs. It was shame because one character had interesting backstory and not knowing her fate would have made the series better. Other character isn't as interesting but would have worked better if we weren't shown him going mad at the beginning.

Next problem comes soon after. Ship leaves Earth's orbit but that doesn't go smoothly since someone has sabotaged the ship. One crew member is injured but nothing comes from this. It felt odd for them continuing the mission without doing any check ups when they were still close to Earth. I don't remember there being any urgency. They just left with sabotaged ship. Injuring crew member showed us individual crew members were expendable. This doesn't change later even when someone we know better dies. But that doesn't happen until later. Game of Thrones is famous for killing important characters at any time. This doesn't do that. Important characters die but their deaths lack impact and and the deaths are often foreshadowed earlier. It gives feeling of everyone being expendable.

Series started to work around third episode. By then we know enough of characters and everything stops constantly malfunctioning. Series would have benefited from slower start. Usually this kind of movies and series start introducing characters and then going into the story. This started with story before we knew the characters. This almost made me stop watching. But I continued because I wanted to see what George R.R. Martin's science fiction looks like.

What I can say about that? I watched this in two sessions divided by over night sleep. I found series mostly interesting or I wanted to see where this ends up. I am not sure which and I didn't like the ending which is open ended if not a cliffhanger. There are few issues and cheap story telling devices but mostly I liked the series. Overall this left same feeling is Gene Roddenberry's other series. Creator is better know for other work but this is still interesting without reaching the level of better known work. That said I will probably forget Nightflyers in few days.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Duck, You Sucker! / A Fistful of Dynamite / Giù la testa, lit (1971)

I know this movie better with name A Fistful of Dynamite which is better suitable name than Duck, You Sucker. But it seems that Duck is the better known name. It makes you expect some sort of comedy which this is not when it gets to revolution. Before that and early parts of revolution there is some humor but it gets really serious and dark on second half.

Movie is story of Mexican bandit and Irish explosion expert during Mexican revolution. Movie starts as western comedy. It is the part which doesn't work that well. Later it makes its best to get biggest body count any western has seen. People are executed all the time and at times it gets to industrial levels. Executions are part of the sets. You know which locations are controlled by army when you see executions. Big battle scenes add to the body count. This is surprisingly bloody for movie which starts as comedy.

Duck, You Sucker doesn't reach the level of Dollars Trilogy or Once Upon a Time in West. It has what didn't work so well in those movies without highlights which made the other movies great. It is still entertaining and has few moments worth watching the movie but it is not as much as previous movies.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Godzilla 3: The Planet Eater (2018)

The Planet Eater is third movie in anime Godzilla movie series. After seeing the end credit scene I am not sure if this was trilogy or will there be more movies. Third movie didn't left too much for fourth movie but there was tease for next movie and we saw one monster who hasn't fought Godzilla in this series yet. I will get more into spoiler territory than usually so be warned.

Movie starts where last one ended. There is nothing to get you up to speed. You just have to remember what happened. Like previous movie was memorable enough to justify this. If last movie was about technology this is about suicidal religious cult. Turns out the other alien race travelling with humans worship world devouring monster. Movie tries to make sense of their philosophy. Which is basically world will end one day so we have to summon our world devouring god to finish it quicker.

They don't share this philosophy until they have summoned their god. They get followers promising their god beating Godzilla if humans offer themselves as sacrifices or telling their god have master plan for humans. It wasn't completely clear at which point sacrificing themselves was told to followers. Main story is cult trying to convince Haruo to do something. It is not clear what or what it would do. They could summon their god without Haruo.

Monster fight is three snakes biting Godzilla and Godzilla can't touch them and Haruo dreaming with cult leader trying to convince him to do something. It is hard to make that interesting. It would require cult to have convincing arguments but their argument is give up because life is suffering. I liked dialog more than action scenes in previous movies. I have no problem with idea of the final battle mainly happening in characters dream sequences where someone try to convince him to do something. Cult's weak arguments are the problem. They probably have weakest arguments of anyone in this series and they get most time to express their arguments.

When monster fight ends there is still 15 minutes left. Which is where we get to the message of the trilogy. I call it here trilogy because it ends most of the story arcs. Message of this trilogy is technology is bad because monsters rise when society becomes technologically advanced enough. So best option is to live without technology. I think this was hinted earlier movies. This movie says that is the case. This is science fiction series and its message is technology brings literal monsters which evolve more than we can advance.

I know Godzilla's original message was science can cause something unintended. This time it is not nuclear bomb causing monsters. It is society advancing technologically. Not something specific. Just advancing technologically. I wonder where they got the interesting science fiction concepts when something this stupid is at the core of series.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Once Upon a Time in the West / C'era una volta il West (1968)

Once Upon a Time in the West is what you get when you take all the humor from Dollars trilogy. It has really good scenes but beginning where three men wait for a train for ten minutes is bit too much. At least nowadays when tempo of movies have changed faster. But then again it shows how boring waiting can be and it tells something all the time. It can be argued if that something is worth of ten minutes.

Movie lacks Clint Eastwood's charisma. Charles Bronson is not bad but he is bit too one dimensional. Other main characters do better job. Jason Robards is actually really good as Cheyenne. Bronson's character's motivations are bit hard to grasp. Revenge is understandable but every thing else feels it is there to get cool and interesting scenes. Others feel more like real people.

I can understand why some people rate this as best western or even best movie ever made. I would agree with first part if Bronson's character didn't have so many problems. It is like his character is in wrong movie. Rest of the movie tells how railroads change lawless frontier and you have this ultra cool character who leaves himself to be killed knowing he won't be killed because this is his story. I wouldn't have noticed that in lesser movie. But in this almost everything is thought of and everything characters do have meaning.

Now that I have seen four Sergio Leone's biggest westerns there is a question which I liked most. More I think about it I have to say Once Upon a Tine in the West is the best one. I can't find as big issues from Dollar's Trilogy but everything else is so much better in Once Upon a Time in the West that it is my favorite. If some wanted to know my favorite western before this I might have said The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. There might be better ones but I am not that into westerns so Once Upon a Time in the West is my favorite western at the moment. These were the westerns I can name from top of my head.

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly / Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (1966)

Time for last and most epic entry in Dollars Trilogy. This time it is three men searching for hidden treasure. Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef return but this time clearly different characters than in For a Few Dollars More. Every movie added one more character trying to outsmart others. Each movie have different tone. This time it is western mixed with war movie.

I watched extended version which added 14 minutes of footage to original English version. Movie drags at times but it wasn't caused by added scenes. I checked what was added and every addition made movie better. For example bridge scene was extended. It is one of the best scenes now. Most additions added footage related to ongoing Civil War which happens around. I can understand why it was originally cut away. It showed horrors of war and wasn't that important to main story arch. But it shows how war has nothing heroic in it.

Back to dragging. First two movies had more compact stories. Movie has long slow scenes and story jumps back and forth few times. Everything makes sense but cutting down some excess would have helped. This is the reason why The Good, the Bad and the Ugly doesn't rise above other movies in trilogy. It has more memorable scenes than others but excess drops it to same level as other movies.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of must see movie. It has few of the most memorable western scenes. It doesn't show the time as epic adventure. It is more of story of three men with weird sense of honor trying to make money when there is civil war going on. Even the Good is not that good.

Monday, January 21, 2019

For a Few Dollars More / Per qualche dollaro in più (1965)

I am probably doing the whole Dollars Trilogy and Once Upon a Time in West now that movies are available for a short time. So it is time for second movie in Dollars Trilogy. This time it is story of two bounty hunters after same big bounty. Clint Eastwood could or could not be playing same characters as in A Fistful of Dollars. He is more matured version of the character. Maybe he became bounty hunter between movies.

For a Few Dollars More tuned humor down little bit and replaced it with big tense scenes. Movie has masterful tension building in its countless duels and scenes where duels are teased. We would remember ending duel if next movie in Dollars Trilogy didn't top it. Story stays interesting by not taking most obvious paths. Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef shine in their roles as ultra cool bounty hunters. Gian Maria Volontè almost go over board as almost crazy villain.

Like A Fistful of Dollars For a Few Dollars More is must watch even if you don't like westerns that much. It is step up in cinematography from A Fistful of Dollars. Ennio Morricone's score is amazing as always. For a Few Dollars More suffers from Sergio Leone making one of the biggest westerns year later with same leads. It is still good as its own but it is easy to see as step between other Dollars Trilogy movies.

Monday, January 14, 2019

A Fistful of Dollars / Per un pugno di dollari (1964)

I don't usually review westerns. Ones I have done have had science fiction angle in them. This one doesn't. It is been 90 years since birth of Sergio Leone, one of the greatest movie directors ever. I am a week and few days late honoring the even. I might do his other movies too since local tv station is celebrating the event and showing his movies.

A Fistful of Dollars is first entry in Dollars Trilogy and big reason why there is genre called spaghetti western. Movie is scored by Ennio Morricone under different name and starred by Clint Eastwood. The names you think about when you think about spaghetti westerns. This movie is big reason why you do that.

Man with No Name comes to town ruled by two rivaling gangs. He plans to make money playing in the middle. Compared to generic westerns A Fistful of Dollars doesn't have good guys. Everyone is more or less for himself. Westerns made outside America benefits that they don't have to upkeep mythical picture of one country's history. They can show more cynical version of time period.

There are couple technologies you don't expect in western. I don't think they weren't available at the time but you don't usually see those in movies which show period as epic time when real men fought honorable with revolvers. A Fistful of Dollars doesn't have honorable men. Man with No Name is not untouchable. There is always sense this could go really badly. For many characters it goes badly.

A Fistful of Dollars is must watch even if you don't like westerns that much. It is cinematic masterpiece. It doesn't rely on western tropes. It brings amazing cinematography, good characters, good soundtrack and clever story to western movies. It is among best westerns as are other two movies of Dollars Trilogy.

I wonder if Dirty Harry's "Do you feel lucky punk" scene was inspired by A Fistful of Dollars. There is a scene where number of bullets in a gun is used as storytelling device.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Are Marvel movies that good after all?

I have watched way too many video essays and reviews of DCEU movies. Many of them compared DCEU movies to MCU movies. General consensus seemed to be Marvel movies are good and DC movies are not. But are Marvel movies that good? Compared to latest DC movie they are.

There are five or six good movies. First and third Avengers movies, last two Captain America movies and Guardians of the Galaxy movies. I am not sure about second Guardians of the Galaxy. I have to watch it again to be sure. Last two Captain America movies are semi Avengers movies with so many visiting characters and moving MCU forward. Individual heroes movies aren't that good.

I might have liked Ant-Man movies more if second movie continued from where first ended but for others I have no reason to watch again. Doctor Strange introduced important character for third Avengers movie but there wasn't much more besides cool visuals. Those movies are mostly there to introduce new characters and fill voids between more important movies.

Why people like these movies more than DCEU's movies or almost every other superhero movie? I think it because of the characters. People like the characters. They like most popular versions of these characters. Only Marvel Studios and Ryan Reynolds seem to understand it is good idea to bring most popular comic book versions to big screen. They don't copy comic book stories or characters completely. They bring the essence of characters to big screen.

When you add this to competent film making you get movies people like. Weird. You give people what they want to see and make it competently and people like it. Movies don't have to be good to be popular. MCU takes changes but they understand to keep heroes essence. Yes. I have seen Iron Man 3. And no, I don't remember reading comics with Mandarin in them. He worked in movie's story. At least if you didn't know the comic book version.

Using less popular versions of characters isn't the only problem DC movies have. It is one of the problems. I can understand why they chose to make DCEU like they did. DC had New 52 thing going on in comics when first DCEU movie was made. It was darker and grittier reboot of DC universe. Nolan's popular Batman trilogy had just ended. It was darker and more realistic. It could feel like good idea to do movie version what is currently on comics and follow tone of latest popular movie trilogy.

Problem is New 52 wasn't most popular version of the characters. In fact many older fans didn't like that version and movies decided to go even further with the darkness. Another problem was latest movie trilogy were Batman movies where darker and more realistic tone works. Next movie was Superman movie which needed brighter and more fantastic tone.

DC has other problems too. Bringing most popular versions of the characters wouldn't fix other problems but I think this is one reason why Marvel Studios are doing so well. Another is they have clear plan where they are going.