Category Archives: movies

Libraries and free movies

If you have a public library card, there is a reasonable chance you have free access to Kanopy, which is a streaming video service that a lot of libraries make available, for free, to patrons. It’s kind of like Netflix for smart people. Lots of great films, documentaries, indy stuff, etc.

Last night I was in the mood to watch a science fiction film, so I checked out this little independent film called Prospect. It’s fairly low budget, but well done. Good practical effects. I would classify it as hard SF. Highly recommend it.

Blade Runner

I watched Blade Runner last night. It was the “Final Cut”  version, released in 2007. Such a great movie. Blade Runner was originally released in 1982. Like a lot of great films from decades ago, it did not predict the ubiquity of wireless communications (Deckard has to use a futuristic phone booth), but otherwise it holds up really well. Visually it’s as stunning as ever, and it’s great to be able to stream it in HD to a fairly large screen in your own home.

The look and feel of Blade Runner is often cited as being the quintessential atmosphere of cyberpunk. I don’t really know about that.  For one thing, the film has nothing to do with computer networks — there is no cyberspace. And while portions of Los Angeles look crowded, the streets often look deserted, presumably due to migration of people to the Offworld Colonies. I usually think of cyberpunk as being crowded everywhere. Still, I guess the noir feeling the movies carries off so well is somewhat compatible with William Gibson‘s Sprawl Trilogy.

I’ve never read the Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the story by Philip K. Dick, upon which this film is based. I should add it to my reading list.

Whenever I watch Blade Runner, I find myself wanting to know more about the world and its characters. There has been some additional fiction written about the setting, but that all just seems kind of ridiculous. Fan Fiction at best? Other than seeing Blade Runner 2049 when it comes out, perhaps it’s best to just let the film stand on its own.

No other movie looks quite as good as this.

It’s a Wonderful Life — sequel

I just read that a sequel is being made to Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

Here is a brief synopsis of what it would be like if I wrote it.

In the upcoming sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life, in 2014, George Bailey’s grandson is given cybernetic enhancements and is transported backwards in time by the ghost of ZuZu, to kill the mother of Ayn Rand before Ayn can be conceived. He returns to the present to find that Democratic Socialist Rand Paul has just been elected president of our solar system-spanning utopia, and the great grandson of Mr. Potter has just invented a cure for all disease, which he will make available to humanity free of charge because it’s the right thing to do. In the final scene, the Force-Ghosts of Potter, George, and Ernie the cab driver look blissfully upon George Bailey III.

Thoughts on Man of Steel

I can’t believe I haven’t gotten to this yet…well…here it is…

Marvel has been KILLING IT with their superhero movies. Every one of them has been great. I’m talking about the ones from Marvel Studios, not the shitty ones like the two horrible Fantastic Four movies. So, to be clear, let me list the killer ones…

  • Iron Man
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor
  • Captain America: the First Avenger
  • Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Iron Man 3

OK — that’s out of the way. Marvel Studios has done a great job of 1)creating a cohesive cinematic universe for their characters to inhabit, 2) they’ve done a great job of making live action costumed super-heroes not look stupid, and 3)they’ve more or less kept the characters’ personalities and abilities like those of the comic book characters. No huge deviations, and the deviations that are there tend to improve the films.

Sooooo…where the heck is DC Comics?

Overall, the recent Batman trilogy starring Christian Bale was pretty good. I have no complaints about it. I enjoyed all three of those films. Again — the writers and director took existing comic story lines and did a nice “real world-ish” adaptation of them. I would love it if one of them had showed Batman being “the World’s Greatest Detective”, as he is depicted in the comics, but let’s face it — the general public is waaaaay to stupid to enjoy something even a little bit cerebral. Remember, we’re talking about a population dumb enough to elect people like Ted Cruz, and who think that requiring people to buy insurance from private companies amounts to a socialist takeover of health care. See what I mean?   And you don’t make multi-multi-multi-million dollar movies for smart people only. So there you go. We got what we got, and it was pretty good. We were lucky on these Batman movies.

Oh – if you were offended by my Ted Cruz remark or the healthcare comment, I don’t give a shit and please go kill yourself. Thanks.

Hmmmm…now after three successful Batman movies, what character should DC do next? The answer is quite obvious — a certain Kryptonian who escaped a certain doomed planet called Krypton. Yeah.

So with heavy involvement by Christopher Nolan, of the aforementioned Batman movies, they crank out Man of Steel, a very much needed reboot of the Superman mythos. I say very much needed because the old Superman movies as well as the attempted relaunch by Brian Singer entitled Superman Returns, well, they were all stupid. Yes, stupid. As beloved as at least the first two of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies were and are, and as much as they got a few things very right, they simply don’t hold up well in the world of the 2000s. Superman Returns might have succeeded but fell victim to its attempt to carry on a long-dead storyline. It was a beautiful movie, with some really fantastic scenes, but sorry — we want to see Superman go up against people with super powers. Lex Luthor sucks.

The creative team got it right on Man of Steel.

They modernized the character without stripping away what makes him great. He is a demigod walking among us, and they made this clear. They didn’t waste time with a linear origin story, but worked that stuff in via flashbacks.  They gave him enemies of his own power level to fight. And then — the let them fight! Glorious, city-leveling, violent, super-being combat. Lots of flight? Check.  Super speed? Check. Heat vision? Check. Super Strength on a proper Superman level? Check and check.

I’ve read some complaints by people who need to get a life and/or settle down that 1)there is too much collateral damage in the big fight scene (that people would have died) and 2)Superman kills Zod at the end. Well, hell yes people would have died! What would you expect. Do you blame Superman for not saving all of them? Dude is trying to save the entire planet. OK? Got it? And at the same time, two or three or four other Kryptonians are trying to beat the shit out of him and kill him. So lay off.

As far as his killing of General Zod at the end — well hell yes he kills him. The guy is about to incinerate a whole family with heat vision. First the mamby-pambies complain because Supes doesn’t save everyone and their uncles from getting crushed by falling buildings, then they complain because he kills the guy who wants to destroy humanity and re-engineer the plant and is about to smoke an entire family to do it. What’s he supposed to do? Reason with the guy?

No, this isn’t Chris Reeves’s Superman. He KILLED a dude. It is part of his character development in this new movies series (at least I hope it’s a series).

Oh – the special effects in this film were incredible and flawless. Finally they show super-speed. It was cool.

So to sum up…

  • Movie – great
  • People who got mad because Superman doesn’t save everyone and kills a villain — stupid
  • Do I hope there are more of these? Yes.

There is now talk of a new Batman/Superman team-up type movie. If they can work these two together, using the kind of atmosphere they have achieved with the Batman trilogy and Man of Steel, I say they should go for it. There is always talk of a Justice League movies. I’d love to see it down right, but I’m not convinced they can do it yet. They need to get at least two more characters done right in their own movies. Green Lantern was not very good. They need to scrap that one. I’m gonna say Wonder Woman and the Flash. At a minimum they need those.

Actually, maybe they don’t. If they can get the characters right, I don’t think they need an origin story. We all know who all these characters are. Just go for it.


U2 3D

u23dintropage.jpgu23dintropage.jpgLast night I went to see the new U2 3D movie. If you like the band U2, you need to see this film. I was lucky enough to see it in IMAX Digital, which along with the very cool 3D was just incredible.

I imagine it would be hard to NOT shoot a great U2 concert film. That band is bigger than life, and after — errr — 30 years or thereabouts — they just keep getting better at what they do. When I think to back to seeing them on opening night of the Unforgettable Fire tour, it is hard to believe that was 24 years ago and they continue to perform with the same kind of passion they did then.

See the movie.