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Showing posts from May, 2016

Jurassic World (2015)

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The original Jurassic Park was such an innovation in many ways.  Number one, even though much of the science was spotty (or has since been updated by the fossil record), it was one of the first movies to try and show dinosaurs in a realistic form.  Instead of city-stomping monsters, they were portrayed as animals filling similar ecological niches as modern-day animals.  A lot of this could be credited to Michael Crichton, the author of the original novel, but a lot of work went into bringing the creatures to the screen. 

That brings us to number two.  Digital effects often still looked unnatural, like the owl at the beginning of Labyrinth or the flat textures in The Last StarfighterUsing a combination of computer generated effects and traditional practical animatronics, the fictional park on the equally fictional Costa Rican island of Isla Nublar came to spectacular life.  Yes, in the end it was a simple "escape the monsters" movie, but it was a damn good one.  The secon…

Ant-Man (2015)

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Before Deadpool succeeded in making the humorous anti-hero version of the current superhero films a viable thing, the main Marvel universe (Deadpool is part of the X-Men universe) tried a similar approach with Ant-Man.  The Russo Brothers also managed to make Ant-Man work during his appearance in the latest Captain America film.  Too bad his origin film isn't that interesting.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a master thief.  Well, not too much of a master, because he got caught, and has served his time.  He wants to go straight, but unfortunately the world doesn't have much use for ex-cons.  Neither does his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) or her new beau, who do everything to keep him away from his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson).

Out of desperation he agrees to go along with a scheme cooked up by his friend Luis (Michael Peña) to rob the estate of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).  He succeeds, but instead of the money they were expecting he finds a suit.  When he puts it on, he finds…

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

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The key to successful exploitation is to take any idea, no matter how ridiculous, and push it to its limit.  Too often exploitation, instead of showing what is promised, plays a bait and switch.  The concept of the movie may cause controversy, but the actual movie falls way short of what was promised.  That is the problem I had with The Purge.

The set-up is that in the late part of this decade the United States is still officially the constitutional republic it has always been, but a party calling itself the New Founding Fathers has been elected to power.  They promised to make America great again or some such nonsense, and now they control a government that is a fascistic, oligarchical theocracy.  The key is that every March 21st, starting at sundown, all laws are suspended for 12 hours.  There are some rules: can't kill political officials, can't use explosives or nuclear devices, etc.  In every other way, all bets are off.

It sounds like a great set up (and excuse) for a m…

The Goonies (1985)

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The Goonies is one of those movies that managed to escape the '80s with its reputation intact, if not enhanced.  Most of the kids in it have had further careers and are better known as adult actors (except for the Corey Feldman).  The movie looks and feels '80s, and, with Steven Spielberg as the producer, it has that feel associated with the rest of his films from this point in his career, despite being directed by Richard Donner of Superman and Lethal Weapon fame.

So, why is this movie, which has no real monsters and no supernatural happenings (unlike similar Spielberg offerings) a survivor instead of, say, The Monster Squad?  For me it's certainly not nostalgia, since I didn't really like the movie when it first came out, due to the fact that it didn't have gremlins, aliens, pirate ghosts or anything as interesting as most of the other movies that were similar.  I think, even though it was a movie aimed nominally at kids, that I was too old to enjoy it when it ca…