Thursday, May 22, 2014

"Edge of Tomorrow" - First Review!

Review: "Edge of Tomorrow" - Variety

"Edge of Tomorrow" sounded cooler when it was called "All You Need is Kill," as was its source novel. But, the movie could still be cool! Variety has a first review.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

"You're Next" (2013) - Movie Review

Pretty by-the-numbers home-invasion movie that is pretty unusable until the comparatively entertaining last 10 minutes.

As usual, everyone's stupid as hell, and walks into the killers' knives, arrows, whatever, one after another.

There's tons of gore, and most of it is entirely routine. There is one gag towards the end that is very funny in a gruesome way, but once again, it's pretty much at the end. There is an entertaining way the credits are done, but still a bit late!

Also, I don't know if I've ever seen anything from a major studio that was shot so badly! It's like someone was given a camera, told to point it in the general direction of the action, and hit record.

Certainly missable.

*1/2 (1 1/2 Out of 5 Stars)

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"Poltergeist" (1982) - Movie Review

My Lord, this movie is loud! Two hours of nonstop noise that you are thankful is over, when it's finally over. This movie signified the end of Spielberg's filmmaking magic. It was the beginning of his making brainless, soulless fare like this and "E.T." It was at this point that he became more a manufacturer of "entertainment" than a creative director of it.

"E.T.," also in 1982, is essentially a dumbed-down version of "Close Encounters" for children or for those who want all the edges polished away. No need for characters you could believe exist in the actual world. Instead they're replaced by mannequins who have little to no dimension.

The 1980's was all about that, following the Reagan call to give up on humanity, give up on dreams, and just crank out lifeless stuff and make the most money possible.

And so, "Poltergeist" is one of the most perfect examples of this. It is sort of entertaining in its thoroughly stupid way, but that's about it. Tobe Hooper, who had directed "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," went on to direct something much closer to his fairly perverted sensibilities with the great, and thoroughly nuts, "Lifeforce" in 1986. Here, he's more gun for hire, technically being the director, while it is said that Spielberg was on the set more than Hooper, and shot most of the movie. You can tell!

If this movie accomplishes anything, it is an accomplishment for the Visual Effects and Practical Effects teams. Creating an atmosphere of horror is out of reach to a vast majority of those who worked on this.

The one person in the cast who hits the mark is Heather O'Rourke, who out acts everyone else by a good margin. Jerry Goldsmith, as expected, turns in an excellent score, and contributes what is easily the most artistic component to the film.

** (2 Out of 5 Stars)

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Friday, May 16, 2014

"Interstellar" - New Trailer!

Trailer: "Interstellar" - Warner Bros.

The first full trailer for "Interstellar" is spectacular! I was really floored. As a hard-core Science-Fiction fan, I have been wanting to see a film that is truly Science-Fiction, and not a well-worn story that is just set in space.

Writer-Director Christopher Nolan has only occasionally done much of anything for me. But, this new movie could be very cool! And, having the great Matthew McConaughey in the lead is a master stroke!

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"Godzilla" (2014) - Movie Review

(SPOILERS) - Best to Read if You Have Already Seen It, or Don't Care!

I thought the new "Godzilla" was just okay. It just got over the mark of being okay from being disappointing. I love Godzilla, and was hoping that this movie would do it right, but it didn't. Only the monster action at the end gets the movie over that line.

I get it. Director Gareth Edwards was trying to recapture the feeling of the great original Japanese 1952 "Gojira," which I have just seen. Yes, I know! It took me all this time to get the original from Criterion. And, it's much better than the choppiness of the Americanized 1954 "Godzilla: King of the Monsters."

In that film, there is really only about 10 minutes or so of actual Godzilla crushing stuff. The rest is the human drama with the well-drawn characters. But, in that movie, those characters are very well realized. They are fully fleshed out, and the drama that plays throughout carries through to the emotional conclusion.

The problem here is that all the characters, except Bryan Cranston's, are bland and uninteresting. Plus, there isn't a compelling storyline here, as there was in the 1952 "Gojira." And, most critically (MAJOR SPOILER) Cranston's character dies early on. He could have been used as that tragic character who has to sacrifice himself. But, unfortunately, he just dies and that's it. (END SPOILER).

I almost titled my review "Godzilla Without Godzilla," since there isn't that much Godzilla in the movie, and when we get to see him, it's mostly in the dark. You would think, 16 years after the much-laughed-at 1998 Emmerich-Devlin "Godzilla," we'd technologically be at the point where we didn't have to stage the monster action in the dark and/or the rain. But, the $160 million spent here doesn't seem to be enough to make that happen.

Hopefully, since Godzilla lives to fight another day at the end of this movie, we'll get a sequel where we get to see some good old fashioned monster action. In the daytime, please!

*** (3 Out of 5 Stars)

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Godzilla" (1954) - Movie Review

Having not seen all the "Godzilla" movies, I don't know if this is the best one. But, I'm guessing that it does have the best story and characters. There are two versions of this: The original Japanese version ("Gojira"), and the "Americanized" version, where Raymond Burr is inserted into the story, and other cuts are made.

I've seen both versions (available from Criterion, by the way). As you'd expect, the original version is better. In this case, however, the Japanese version (which has a separate IMDb page), is far superior. This is because we get to know the characters much better. There is a lot more human emotion in the original. Also, the cutaways to Raymond Burr (shot separately, two years later in the U.S.) don't distract from the story. The cuts from the original are critical, since they are about the characters.

A thematic difference is that there is the angle of Godzilla being the product of American Hydrogen Bomb testing. Definitely guessing that Americans didn't want to hear that part, which is why those comments are deleted from the Americanized version.

Of course, the 1950's American monster movies blame their monsters on radioactivity, so in that way, there isn't too much of a difference!

The original version also has a bit more Godzilla smashy-smashy action! If you are in a hurry to see it, you are in for a wait. 'Zilla doesn't show up (except for a quick head shot) until about the 42-minute mark in both versions.

I definitely recommend the Japanese version. Yes, there are subtitles, but it's worth it! The American version runs 1:20 and the Japanese version runs 1:36.

Japanese version: **** (4 Out of 5 Stars)
American version: **1/2 (2 1/2 Out of 5 Stars)

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Orci to Direct "Trek 3" WTF?!

Story: Roberto Orci to Direct "Star Trek 3" - Variety

OMG! This is one of those stories that sounds like something from The Onion! Are we being @#$%ed with? It feels that way!

So, "The Decider," who tore into Trek fans, co-wrote the Trek film that has been rated by Trek fans as the worst ever, and hasn't ever directed anything, ever!, is somehow chosen to direct "Trek 3."

Are. You. @#$%ing kidding me?!

Paramount is officially telling all Trek fans to go @#$% themselves! Trek is dead, and has been for quite a while. We should just let it rest in peace and ignore any more @#$% that Paramount cranks out.

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Union Pacific Coal at Dusk

Video: Trains in Memphis - YouTube

I was in St. Louis for National Train Day. Afterward, I went to the suburb of Kirkwood for some train watching! Here is a Union Pacific Coal consist, heading westward at dusk.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Godzilla Reviews!

Review: "Godzilla" - Variety

"Godzilla" is four days away, and the reviews are starting to come in. Here is the review from Variety.

Also, here is the link to the review listing on Rotten Tomatoes:
"Godzilla" - Rotten Tomatoes

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Godzilla in Action! - New Video

Video: "Godzilla" vs. the FIAT 500L - FIAT USA

We've all been waiting for better looks at the new Godzilla! And now, we got some, courtesy of FIAT. (What?!) Yeah, we're not getting the video from Legendary/Warner Bros., who made the film. We're getting it from FIAT USA, who put their 500L up against the giant monster. Hey, we'll take it!

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New Photos from Los Angeles International Airport!

Photos: John Miller's Photostream - flickr

Taking a break from trains, here are some photos from LAX! That is, Los Angeles International Airport. I was on the south side of the airport at a place called "Imperial Hill." It's a teeny, tiny park in El Segundo! And, by "teeny tiny," I mean it's a concrete platform that slightly extends from the sidewalk, surrounded by metal railing.

But, it works great for airliner photos!

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