Disney + is here!

The future is now.

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Disney + kicked off in the early hours of the morning today and I logged on to my account (that I had ordered last month) prior to school.  Unfortunately, I could not spend all day watching.

Sure, there are a few bugs out there.  I had some problems with my Roku TV at first, but when I finally got back from work, most of them were worked out.

Thing was, I did not have the time I wanted to watch tonight, having to catch up on the Movie Trivia Schmoedown.  Still, I was excited to get a dose of Plus.

Image result for The MandalorianThe Mandalorian was very fun.  You could taste the talents of Jon Favreau throughout the episode.  The series was very promising, but the ending was mind-blowing.  This is one that I am looking forward to following along.

 

 

Image result for world according to jeff goldblum runningHowever, let’s not sleep on the real TV treasure here. The World According to Jeff Goldblum was hilarious.  I never thought I needed to see Jeff Goldblum running in sneakers (or shall I say bopping in sneakers), but it was clearly the greatest thing ever.  That may be a little bit of hyperbole, but this is so entertaining.  I can’t wait for the next episode. Wow…wowie wow wow.

 

I am anxiously awaiting the Marvel series as well.  I should get some chance to get some movies watched too.  I should do a Disney Plus binge soon for the Doc’s Classic Movies Reviewed section.

Five Documentaries

I was looking through Netflix and I realized that I had not seen very many documentaries this year.  So I decided that I would watch several of the docs over the next month to get ready to see which one was the best one around. All these have been released in 2019.

Image result for fire in paradise posterI started on Netflix and watched a short one (around 42 minutes) called Fire in Paradise.  This told the story of a terrible camp fire in 2017 that decimated a town in California named Paradise.  This was totally shocking and tense, seeing pictures and cell phone images from the heart of the blaze.  The interviews with the people who survived this encounter was absolutely heart wrenching.  You could almost feel the heat coming through the screen. This doc was seriously good.

4 stars

 

Image result for amazing johnathan movie posterNext doc I moved over to Hulu to watch The Amazing Johnathan but this one was less involving to me than the last one.  Johnathan is a magician who found out that he had a heart condition, and that was something that I was not interested in seeing.  I did not find Benjamin Berman that charming and the doc went into a different path that was odd.

2 stars

 

 

Image result for the biggest little farm, movie posterI had had the chance to see this one in the theaters, but I did not want to see it.  That was too bad, because The Biggest Little Farm was tremendous.  I would have loved to see it in the movie theater.  This told the story of a couple and their dog in an attempt to bring an area of farmland outside of Los Angeles back to life.  They faced all kinds of problems from birds to coyote to soil that was “dead.”  This was wonderfully education and as compelling as could be. I should not have skipped this one.

4.4 stars

 

Image result for jawline movie posterNext up on Hulu was a documentary called Jawline and it was about a 16-year old boy named Austyn Tester, who wanted to build a career by posting videos on YouTube and Instagram.  This film was interesting because it followed the young man who had some initial success, but apparently wound up back in his life in Tennessee.  The film discusses some of the drawbacks of social media too.  While interesting, I would have liked to know more, go deeper.  It never seemed to go fully into the theme.  It was entertaining though.

3.3 stars

 

Image result for Ask Dr Ruth movie posterThe final one today on Hulu is Ask Dr. Ruth which is the story of iconic sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer’s life, career and influence to the world.  The documentary included more than just the sex talk that she had became famous for, but also looked at her past, including her escaping the Holocaust and how she grew up to be Dr. Ruth.  Ruth Westheimer is such a charming and funny person who is able to speak so honestly that you can understand why she became such a sensation.

4.5 stars

 

More to come later…looking for the time to watch the Bob Dylan/Martin Scorsese doc on Netflix.

 

Edit:  BTW…Dr. Ruth was a sniper.

Yeah… 

Motherless Brooklyn

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It’s been a while since we have had a good pulp noir film, and Edward Norton’s passion project fills that gap respectfully.

Norton is the writer/director/lead actor of this new film. Motherless Brooklyn, which tells the story of a detective whose boss/friend gets killed in pursuit of a big case.  Lionel (Ed Norton) has some version of Tourette’s Syndrome, though that name is never used, and it gets in his way as he tries to weave his way through the complicated case at the heart of his friend Frank’s(Bruce Willis) death.

The film is slow and it is long, but I did not find either of those as a drawback to the movie.  I found this interesting and engaging.  It was a mystery story that we had to uncover exactly what had happened.  We knew the result and who committed the crime, but we had to discover the reasons.

Part of that had to do with Alec Baldwin’s big bad New York developer character, Moses Randolph.  I am not really sure where the inspiration for this character came from… (just kidding).

The story took place in the 1950s in New York.  The atmosphere of the film was one of the best parts.  The atmosphere helps make the noir successful.  Ed Norton did the voice over and it worked.

The performances were good to great.  The story was fine.  I had picked out the “surprise” part early on so that did not shock me.  And there was some epic music happening with the score too.

I believe that watching this movie requires patience, because it is a slow burn, but the trip is worth it.  These days of instant gratification, this is a throwback to the old days of movies.

4.1 stars

Parasite

 

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I legitimately had no idea anything about director Bong Joon Ho’s newest film, Parasite.  All I knew about it was that it was an international film (I am not even sure if I knew it was a Korean film although I did know it was subtitled) and that a bunch of the online critics that I like and respect claim that it is one of the best movies of the year.

I even did not realize who Bong Joon Ho was.  Later on I discovered he was the director of Snowpiercer (which I loved) and Okja (which, not so much).

I have seen some older Korean movies this year, Old Boy and Train to Busan, but those did not give me any idea what I might be seeing.  I thought maybe the parasite in the title of the movie might be some kind of plague like the zombies in Train.

So I really did go into this movie with as much of a blank slate as you are going to get in this world of social media and easy accessible online trailers.

I am glad that I knew so little because it was able to let me move along with the story and allow the movie to provide its twists and turns as it is meant to be.

I don’t want to spoil anything so you can have a chance to go in as fresh as I was, but the film features two families of differing classes that intersect with each other in a strange and original way.

The cast is great.  All of these actors brought the goods here, creating characters that were appealing despite being people that may not be the grandest example of humanity.  You can understand all of them and relate to them which is quite a feat.

The film is shot beautifully and the contrasts between the classes were distinct.  The film has many great moments of humor and also has some dramatic darkness.  Midway through the second act, the film shifts a little bit to become even darker than it had been up until that point.

It is one of the top international films of the year and should be an Oscar contender.  Go in with as little knowledge as I did.  It is worth it.

4 stars

Playing With Fire

Playing with Fire Movie Poster

The previous to movies that I have seen in the theaters, Jojo Rabbit and Doctor Sleep, I gave five star reviews.  Can that string continue?

Nope.

The latest John Cena comedy called Playing with Fire came out this weekend and saw Cena as a “smokejumper” which is a kind of fire fighter who jumps from helicopters into the heart of blazing fires to battle them.  Cena’s character, Jake Carson, is a legacy smokejumper descended from one of the greatest smokejumpers off all time and he has a drive to follow in his late father’s footsteps.  One day, Jake and his crew arrived at a cabin in the woods that was one fire and saved three children.  Unable to contact their parents, the firefighters had to look after the kids.

I already knew that this film was going to be a major step down from the recent run of top notch movies I have seen.  While I understood that this film is really not made for me (it is targeted at those around 10, maybe), that does not excuse the film from being as poor as it is.  Lots of poop jokes and predictable plotlines punctuated this film.  John Cena is fine and his comedic timing is pretty good. He just needs something comedic to do.

The film also has a couple of great actors in it.  I love Keegan-Michael Key and he was the one character that I found even remotely funny.  He is another actor in this movie that deserved more than what was given to him.   John Leguizamo is here too, but he is totally unremarkable as a character.  Tyler Mane (Sabretooth from the X-Men movies) plays a character named Axe, who does not speak, but does carry around an axe, for no apparent reason.

The kids are competent.  Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead from Deadpool) is the oldest of the kids, Brynn.  None of these kids, who apparently have lived through some serious crap in their lives, act as if they are anything but mischievous kids.

Though this movie is supposedly targeted toward children, there are several storylines that do not feel like a child would want to see.  There is a relationship between Cena and Judy Greer that is as forced as could be and there is a subplot about John Cena’s job and desire for a promotion.  Neither of these feel as if they belong in a kids movie.

To be fair, the movie does have some heart and should get some points for being sweet.  The ending, while seen from a mile away, does its best to tug on the heartstrings of the audience.  The ending was sweet enough to make me bump its score up probably a half a point.

Not that it is going to be a big score.  Halfway through the movie, I was considering this one of the worst films of the year.  Now, it will probably make the top 30 list, but it may not be in the top 10.

1.5 stars 

Doctor Sleep

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I am a fan of The Shining.  When I say this, I mean the movie.  I have not read the book written by Stephen King that apparently is different enough to have King hate the Stanley Kubrick movie version.  It is a big dust up between them.  So when King wrote a sequel to the book, that made adapting it to the big screen a serious challenge.

The major issue is that audiences are very familiar to the Kubrick movie and if the sequel, Doctor Sleep, would not embrace the film, I believe that there would be issues.

I have also not read Doctor Sleep, the novel by King so I will not be looking at how they adapted the book to film.  I heard some people criticizing the movie because of some changes or omissions from the source material.  I do not believe that is fair, but I certainly understand it.

I go into this detail mainly to show that I will only be reviewing the movie that I saw on the screen, not the book or the adaptation of said book.

The movie I saw was fantastic.  One of the best horror films of the year.

We meet a grown up Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) years after the events at the Outlook Hotel and the years have not been kind to Danny.  He had become an alcoholic to depress the shine that caused him such troubles.  However, after starting his life over and hopping on the wagon, Danny receives a mental contact with another Shining user, young girl Abra (Kyliegh Curran).

Everything is not perfect though.  There is a group of creatures, led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson), who feed on the Shine of people like Danny and Abra.  The power of the young Abra attracted the vampiric characters toward her and forced Danny to step up to help her.

This was a truly scary film that did not rely on jump scares.  The terror was real, built on tension and creepiness.  The horrific situations were difficult to watch at times.  There was one brutal scene involving Rose the Hat, her cultists, and a baseball playing kid (who is played by a kid actor in a surprise cameo) that absolutely stays with you.

The moodiness of this film is tremendous as I was constantly shifting in my seat.  It makes the viewer uncomfortable because you really do not know what is going to happen and that uncertainty is a gift in today’s movie going experience.

The performances were wonderful throughout Doctor Sleep.  McGregor is as good as he always is and Rebecca Ferguson raised her game.  However, Kyliegh Curran deserves a ton of praise for her work.  She had to bring a lot to this role as the new kid with the Shine and she delivers big time.  She was one of those young actors whom you know you have to keep an eye on because, if her career continues as such, she is going to be a superstar.

Thanks to Rebecca Ferguson and a group of very strong actors, the villains, which could have been disposable one note monsters, are actually very well developed for the minimal screen time they received.  You see the connection between this group of killers and you can almost appreciate how their relationship is shown.  They are obviously monsters, as the scene with the baseball kid showed in spades, but you can somewhat see their warped view of their lives.

The movie looked great and horror veteran director Mike Flanagan simply knows what he is doing in this genre.  The shots are wonderful and the pacing is just right.

I have heard some complaints about the third act of this movie, but I thought it was just about perfect.  I loved the resolution of the story and the emotional depth from these scenes.  There is one scene in particular between McGregor and Henry Thomas (yes, the kid from E.T.) that was powerful to me.

I was fully engaged with Doctor Sleep from the start.  It has a long run time, but it did not bother me in the slightest.  Great performances and amazing horror elements make this an experience that is frightful and anxiety-ridden.  It is a excellent sequel to the Kubrick classic.

Second one in as many reviews, but I think it deserves it.

5 stars 

Jojo Rabbit

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I have been excited for Jojo Rabbit for some time now.  However,when I hear about these independent films that are supposed to be so amazing, many times they are fine, but not to the level that everyone claims.  There have been several this year that fall into that category for me.  I worried that I was looking forward to Jojo Rabbit too much.

After seeing this, I can safely say that Jojo Rabbit is utterly brilliant and one of my absolute favorite films of 2019.

I can understand the tentative nature of people who may not think it is a good idea to have a film where a young boy has an imaginary friend who is Hitler.  I have to say it caught me off-guard when I first heard about it too.  But with Taika Waititi attached as writer and director, my anxieties soothe.  I loved Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok and What We Do in the Shadows so I believed that, if anyone could navigate the issues, it would be Waititi.

Anyone who lists the version of Hitler in this film as a reason to hate it has already made up their mind that they were going to hate it.  Taika Waititi does a masterful job of playing this “Adolf”, the imaginary friend of Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a 10-year old German boy who idolizes the Fuehrer and joins the Hitler Youth.

After an unexpected result, Jojo discovers that his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) has been hiding a Jewish girl name Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in the walls of their home, shaking the boy’s preconceived notions to their core.

The performances of this movie are off the frickin’ chart.  Let me start with the actor playing Jojo, Roman Griffin Davis.  This is Griffin’s feature film debut and that is totally unbeleivable because everything in this film depends on this young actors ability to deliver his lines and carry the emotional heft of the scenes.  There are some moments of levity that Davis pulls off brilliantly playing opposite Waititi and, also, Sam Rockwell, who plays a heavy drinking and quickly sinking Nazi Captain Klenzendorf.   Yet, Davis has some deep and life-affirming moments with Scarlett Johansson as well.

Still, the heart of the film is probably the relationship and the interactions between Jojo and Elsa.  These two young actors make you fall in love with them in one of the most unconventional ways imaginable.  Thomasin McKenzie is a star in the making.  Her every minute on screen lights it up and you cannot help but notice how effervescent she is.

There were also a couple of scenes that caught me completely off guard and nearly caused me to break down. No spoilers, but the emotion in this movie is powerful and elevates this above just another comedy.

It is a comedy, though and it is laugh out loud funny all the way through.  Stephen Merchant appeared as a Gestapo S.S. agent and he brings a ton of humor while still being as tense as any moments in the movie.  It also led to a ridiculously funny “Heil Hitler” scene.  Rebel Wilson gets to do some broad comedy as Fraulein Rahm, an assistant to Captain Klenzendorf.  Wilson brings some fantastic physical comedy in a supporting manner.

Then, Taika Waititi’s performance as Adolf was note perfect, and it had to be because he was walking a dangerous line with this role, but Waititi understood that humor allows one to transcend almost anything and that the satire of Adolf Hitler, one of the worst monsters to ever step on the planet, can be used to spread a message of anti-hate.

Jojo Rabbit delivered on every expectation that I had and it is a damn near perfect movie.  I loved this film and Taika Waititi has done it again, bringing a vision to a story that sounded as if it had plenty of hand grenades. I don’t think anything was ever going to catch up for me to Avengers: Endgame, but Jojo Rabbit is right there.

5 stars

Undiscovered Country #1

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Undiscovered Country #1

Writers:  Scott Snyder & Charles Soule

Artists Giuseppe Camunicoli & Daniele Orlandini

Cover Art:  Giuseppe Camunicoli

I was forced to buy this comic.

Todd, my friend who works at my comic shop, basically told me that I had to read this book.  I said…”It’s Image.”  Todd knows my Marvel bias and has been actively attempting to expand my horizons recently.

He tried to even get me to sit down at the shop and read the book.  I love sitting at the shop on Wednesdays and reading the new comics, but my time was limited tonight.  He said…it would only take me about 10 minutes.

Actually… it was 20 minutes.  I timed it.

Then Todd said that I had to read it tonight or tomorrow and do a post about it.  Todd, a former teacher, was assigning me homework.  I had to laugh.

So, I read it.  And now I am writing my review.

This was fantastic.

I was fully engaged with this book.  I was interested in the setting. The entire subplot of this mysterious Sky virus (maybe not the best name I have ever heard) was grabbing.  The arrival in the United States of America, but a USA that is totally different makes you wonder what has happened.  The characters, though still in the early part of development, are interesting enough to want to know more about them and the art is beautiful.

Written by Scott Snyder (Batman, American Vampire) and Charles Soule (Star Wars, Death of Wolverine, Daredevil), Undiscovered Country has all kinds of mysteries and unknown plot points and is extremely compelling.

I guess I owe Todd a thank you.  I guess I am buying an Image Comic.

I see online where second printings are already being ordered so if you want a copy, you had better get going because I do not think it will last too long.

Awesomeness

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EYG Top 10 Movies Based on a Book

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Welcome back to the EYG Top 10 list.  It has been a few weeks since I have done a list following the Top 10 Show because their topics were ones that I would have had trouble filling out.  However, this week’s topic is one that was easy to find ten films to include.  In fact, there were way more than 10 films that fit here.

In honor of the release of Dr. Sleep this weekend, EYG Top 10 Movies Based on a Book is the topic and this was the first week where the guys returned to Collider and would have their show on camera.  While their video is available only to the Patreons until next week, it is great to see the guys back on video.

Because there was so many choices, I had to eliminate some possibilities.  Those films based on a novella (such as Stand By Me, Shawshank Redemption) or short stories (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Fly, Minority Report) were eliminated as was those based on graphic novels (Watchmen, Dark Knight etc).

It was a tough list to compile and I have several that were not mentioned by Matt and John, including my number one.

 

Image result for wizard of oz#10.  The Wizard of Oz.  The classic 1939 movie based on the novel called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, published in 1900.  The story of the young girl, Dorothy Gale, and her magical transportation to Oz, where there are witches, Munchkins, and bright, glorious color.  One of the greatest movies that I would watch on TV every time it was on when I was a child.  Great music, great storytelling, great characters.

 

Related image#9.  Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  Based on the J.R.R. Tolkien novel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the second film was my favorite of the movie trilogy.  This film gave us Gollum and Treebeard. It gave us one of the greatest epic battles in movie history with the Battle of Helm’s Deep.  And it was way more than just a middle installment.  I was totally engrossed with every storyline that the film was giving me.

 

Image result for shining#8.  The Shining.  Of course, this one was a book by Stephen King.  It was sad that King was not a fan of what Stanley Kubrick did with the novel, because I think this film is just tremendously brilliant.  The mood of this piece was so tense that you could barely handle it.  Jack Nicholson was amazing and frightening at the same time.  Watching this man descend into madness within this haunted hotel is just a trip.

 

Image result for silence of the lambs#7.  The Silence of the Lambs.  Based upon the novel by Thomas Harris of the same name, The Silence of the Lambs is a psychological thriller with some of the greatest performances you are ever going to see.  Sir Anthony Hopkins brings so much horror in Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster is the opposite balance of him as FBI agent in training Clarice Starling.  Don’t sleep on a terrifying performance of Buffalo Bill from Ted Levine.  An all time classic.

 

Image result for willy wonka and the chocolate factory#6.  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  Based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka is one of the most charmingly wonderful films of the 1970s and one of the best performances from Gene Wilder as the weird and somewhat sinister candy man.  There is a good argument that can be made that Willy Wonka is the true villain of this film.  There is so much depth and intelligence in this movie and the music is perfection.  “A little nonsense, now and then, is relished by the wisest men.”

 

Image result for It part one pennywise#5.  It (2017).  Based on Stephen King’s epic book, the first part of this film was one of my favorite films.  Unfortunately, It Chapter Two did not reach the same levels (it’s okay, just not as great) but the first film was a triumph.  The group of kids in this film really brought the goods and Bill Skarsgård properly filled the shoes (and even exceeded them) of Tim Curry from the TV mini-series.  Pennywise was frightening and the kids were so real and enjoyable.

 

Image result for Psycho#4.  Psycho.  Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film was based on a novel of the same name, written by Robert Bloch.  Psycho was a challenge for Hitchcock to get made and he went out on a limb to get it done, and now it is seen as one of, if not, his greatest work.  The shower scene was shocking, not only for the execution of it, but also because they killed off their female lead in the first half of the film.  Unbelievable.

 

Image result for die hard#3.  Die Hard.  Die Hard is Bruce Willis’s superstar performance in one of the greatest action movies of all time.  Die Hard was based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp.  John McClane arrives in LA to come to his wife’s Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza on the day there is a major robbery planned from Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber (one of the greatest villains in movie history).  Die Hard shows the battle of the everyman fighting against all odds.  One of my favorite movies of all time.

 

Image result for jaws#2.  Jaws.  Absolutely love this movie.  Steven Spielberg’s classic was based on the novel of the same name by Peter Benchley.  There are so many iconic moments in this movie and it draws you in slowly.  You don’t see the shark much in the first couple of acts of the film, and that is just a fantastic plan.  Sure, it was done because they did not have the shark working the whole time, but that was such a lucky accident because it forced the creators of the film to make due.  Great performances and the scene about the Indianapolis is one of the best monologues ever.

 

Image result for princess bride#1. The Princess Bride.  Before Avengers: Endgame, The Princess Bride was my far and away number one movie of all time.  Now, it is tied.  William Goldman wrote the screenplay based on his own book of the same name and he created one of the most epic comedies ever.  I love this film.  There was amazing cast and it is undeniably quotable.  I could watch The Princess Bride any time and any day.  Westley and Buttercup.  Inigo and Fezzik.  Rob Reiner’s classic should never be remade.

Honorable Mentions: There are a bunch of these.  I did not include The Godfather even though it is considered one of the greats of all time.  I enjoyed that film, but I have plenty of films above it.  Field of Dreams is based on the book called Shoeless Joe.  I did not include Dr. Strangelove since it was “loosely” based on a novel.  Schinder’s List told an amazing tragic true story.  Casino Royale rebooted the James Bond franchise.  There are several Harry Potter movies that could fit, especially The Prisoner of AzkabanJurassic Park was another film I considered.  There is Misery, which is yet another Stephen King book. There are other King films such as Carrie or Pet Sematary.  There are several more, but, we’ll stop there.

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The Intruder

The Intruder Movie Poster

Back in May, a film came out called The Intruder, and I skipped watching it.  You see, the trailer to the movie basically showed everything that I needed to see, including a big chunk of the third act so I was not sure why I needed to see it.  So, despite a couple of times when I thought about going to The Intruder, I decided to let it pass by.

Then today I found it for $0.99 on Vudu and I thought that that was a price that I could not turn down.  Certainly, it would be worth $0.99, right?

Well, it wasn’t quite worth the $0.99.

Dennis Quaid played Charlie Peck, a widower who sold his beloved house to Scott and Annie played by Michael Ealy and Meagan Good.  At first, it appeared that Charlie was just having a difficult time parting with the house that he had spent so many years in, but then it became obvious that he was mentally unhinged and wanted to have Annie for himself to the point of attacking her and trying to keep her against her will.

You say that is too much detail and that I may have spoiled too much.  Well, you’d be right, but that was what the trailers had in it so it is fair game.

There are some really dumb scenes in this predictable film.  It takes Annie way too long to accept the fact that Charlie is a loon because she was too busy getting mad at Scott for stupid things.

It seems that Dennis Quaid is having fun hamming it up as this coo-coo but he does not have near enough energy to make up for this film.

I am not unhappy I watched it, and I am glad that I did not spend the full cost on it.

2 stars

 

 

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

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Was there ever a better casting job than whomever hired Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Robert E. Howard classic character, Conan the Barbarian?

The Cimmerian Conan searches for revenge on a cult leader (James Earl Jones) for the death of his parents and much of his village when Conan was but a young and impressionable boy.  On the path to vengeance, Conan encounters battles with men and monsters as well as encounters with the world’s females, including his great love, Valeria (Sandahl Bergman).

There is an epic feel to Conan the Barbarian and it helped to launch the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The shots and images of the lands were beautiful and helped to infuse this with more than just a story of swords and sorcery.

Sure, Schwarzenegger has limited dialogue, but his physical performance is top notch and brings Conan to life.  Truthfully, every other chance to bring Conan to the big screen has not been successful.

The score of the film is remarkable too.   Basil Poledouris was brought on by his friend, director John Milius and the soundtrack makes the lack of dialogue less important.  The music stands out here.

It is also weird to see James Earl Jones appear as the villainous Thulsa Doom, but he brings a certain gravitas to the film, as does Max von Sydow as King Osric.

This film has its moments and may not be the greatest film made, but it owns some of the wildest quotes around.

“Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women!

What else can you need?

classic

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Terminator: Dark Fate

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I have heard a lot of critics say that this is the best Terminator movie is T2, and, while that is definitely the case, it is not setting the bar very high.

The movies in the Terminator franchise have fallen somewhere between poor and totally rotten since T2: Judgement Day so a competently made Terminator movie would easily be the best since T2.

That does not mean this is a great movie or that I loved Terminator: Dark Fate.  The best I can say for the film is… it’s fine. However, there are no new ideas as the entire film is basically a retread of a strange combination of Terminator and T2.

A powerful Terminator (Gabriel Luna) is sent back from the future to kill someone, in this case a girl named Dani (Natalia Reyes).  The resistance of that future time line sends a protector, Grace (Mackenzie Davis), to keep Dani alive.

Does that sound familiar?

The film also adds Linda Hamilton back in as Sarah Connor and Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Terminator for nostalgia.  It was the film’s way to connect the films of the past to the new film of 2019.

I enjoyed both Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performances in the movie and they did a nice job interacting with the new characters.  Schwarzenegger was very funny in his role and makes a character, that could be the worst of the film, likable.

However, something happens at the very beginning of the movie that.I suspect will be a major dividing point among Terminator fans.  While I did not hate what happened, I can certainly understand why some people do.  I do find the eventual result of the first scene to play out in a silly way that stretches my suspension of disbelief.

I found the action to be a mixed bag.  The highway chase, as seen in the trailers, was not bad, but it felt like something I had already seen.  I was bored with the action in the airplane, but I thought the final third act throw-down was decent.  Some of the CGI was shaky at times, especially when showing the future timeline with the Terminators coming out of the water.

Natalia Reyes and Mackenzie Davis are both very good in their roles, even though you could easily assign previous characters from the Terminator franchise as being replaced by them.  There really is not a lot or originality in this new film.  Still, The Force Awakens was very similar to New Hope and that does not make Episode VII bad, per se.

I have a feeling that this film may be one of those films that I originally recommend but, over time, continue to think poorly about.  I found Terminator: Dark Fate to be an okay movie and it looked good on the IMAX screen that I watched it on, but there is just something unremarkable sticking in my craw.

3 stars

 

Harriet

Harriet Movie Poster

When I was younger, I really liked Harriet Tubman.  I really did not know what it meant or how heroic she actually was, but her story appealed to me.

This was why I was excited to watch the biopic Harriet, based on the harrowing life of Harriet Tubman, one of the top conductors on the Underground Railroad.  Starring Cynthia Erivo, Harriet does a very good job of showing us the challenges faced by one of our nation’s truest freedom fighters.

There were many things about Harriet Tubman’s life that I did not know and I wondered how accurate the film was in portraying her life.  I especially wonder how close to the truth it came with her former master Gideon Brodess (Joe Alwyn) and his pursuit of Harriet.  This feels very much like a cinematic addition to the story, but I will admit to not knowing for sure. (edit… looks as if he is made up, but the Brodess family was in fact Harriet’s owners).

The film may have brushed over the voyage Harriet went on when she escaped from her master and traveled to Pennsylvania.  I am not sure that the movie showed how distressing the trip truly was and how unbeleivable it is that she was able to survive, let alone go back to aid other slaves in their journey to freedom.

Cynthia Erivo was wonderful as Harriet, bringing the iconic hero to life and showing how strong and determined she was.  Cynthia Ervio is a star in the making and this movie may give her the push to start that progression.

While the biopic may be a conventional one, Harriet still brings a really string story of a historical figure that spreads a positive message, something we could really use these days, and whose bravery and heroism in the face of cruelty and hatred is inspirational.  I always liked Harriet Tubman, and, now that I know more about her, I like her even more.

4.1 stars

The Lighthouse

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This one is one of the most original films of the year that will absolutely keep you thinking well past the end of the movie.

Two men arrive on an island to run the lighthouse that is located there.  However, there is clearly more going on here than that.  It is difficult to go into much more details without spoilers.

The two men are Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe).  Winslow a young man who is running from his past and Wake, an older man who looked as if he were a sea captain.  As they worked on the island, both men started to slip into madness.

Willem Dafoe was utterly brilliant in this film.  His performance was Oscar worthy and he could absolutely win the award.  He handled the difficult lingo of the sailor beautifully and brings a gravitas to this role.

Robert Pattinson perhaps gave his finest performance of his career.  Although Dafoe may have been the real standout, Pattinson held his own in every moment with him.  I did not even realize that it was Pattinson until the end of the film.  He truly lost himself inside this multidimensional character.

Another major aspect of The Lighthouse is how beautiful the film looked.  First, of course, the film was shot in black and white and it was amazing to watch.  There were so many great images throughout the movie that stands out as artistically as any and the cinematography was wondrous.  The second aspect is the fact that this was shot in a way that the picture was more of a square, not full screen and it fit the story great.

Robert Eggers, director of The Witch, brought a visual style to this film unlike many you will see.  Eggers has a pretty strong early career so far and this is beautiful.

The film is challenging and does not feel the need to explain every scene that has some ambiguity to it.  I love the fact that you can interpret the film in the way you want.  And there is some weird stuff going on here. It is a film that you are never sure what is happening, what might have been a character’s delusion instead of reality.

I can see where some people may not like The Lighthouse, but I found it challenging and fascinating.  The performances were next level and the technological aspects were beautiful.  The Lighthouse is a different type of movie.

4.25 stars

 

 

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

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The final night of October means Halloween and, for EYG, the final night of the October Horror Binge.  And we end the month with a trend setting film from 1999 called The Blair Witch Project.

One of the eeriest aspects of The Blair Witch Project was the speculation that this was more than just a movie.  The set up of the film made it feel like it could be real, and that made things all just a little bit creepier.

Of course, the film is not real.  It just was one of the films that helped to start the “found footage” craze.  The film looked to have been filmed by the characters themselves on a hand held camera which increased the suspense and the psychological terror as we see and hear what these three student film makers would go through.

The story was that these three young filmmakers went into the woods of Maryland to shoot a documentary about a local legend called the Blair Witch.  As they head into the woods, they begin to have major problems. They get lost.  They get hungry.  And eventually, thy start turning on each other as they appear to be stalked by something in the woods.

We follow the attempts of the trio to find their way home, all the while knowing that they would never be found again.  There were some extremely successful scares in the film considering there was almost no gore or any clear shots of the witch.  The film builds its tension inside the heads of the three filmmakers and slowly drives them into a state of psychological terror.

There may be too many scenes of the characters just yelling for each other, but it certainly lent an uneasy level of realism to the project.  The conclusion of the film is as nerve-wrecking as anything you will see and yet you may have no idea what you are looking at.  It is a well done third act to a film that had many iconic moments.

While the concept may not have supported the length of film that it was, The Blair Witch Project succeeds much more than it does not in creating what feels like a wild fantasy in the woods of Maryland.  It is just real enough to make you wonder.. could this be true?  The marketing of the film is one of the greatest of all time and that is why, twenty years later, people still know The Blair Witch Project.

Thus ends the October (which actually started in September) Horror Binge.

classic

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