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The Punisher (2017)
Punish Me, Baby, Punish Me!
Anyone who keeps up with things like this knows that THIS is the best Frank Castle, so far. Unlike the other Punishers, this one LOOKS like a PTSD war veteran suffering from a deep-seated depression. And, he dreams about his dead wife every night... EVERY NIGHT... and she has the same dopey expression on her face... EVERY NIGHT. We get it: She's dead and you loved her... Why show the same dream every episode? Is there excessive violence in this series? I'll say! If the Punisher isn't actively killing a room full of bad guys, at least once a show, they will flashback to a time in Castle's life when he WAS actively killing a room full of bad guys.
Okay, you've got a real mix of moods in this series. Sometimes it is as patriotic as a Chevy commercial even with country music blasting over the cruise past the Statue of Liberty. Other times, you have corrupt American officers and an Iranian-American good guy... and an alt-right scum-bag who convinces a fellow vet to buy a gun despite his PTSD....
But, the acting is sincere and the action is pretty great, although some of it seems to rely on darkened rooms for effect. If you like the Punisher, this will not disappoint... unless it does.
If so, you are welcome to Dolph Lundgren...
Ong-bak 2 (2008)
So, They Still Make Decent Martial Arts Movies...
I've been disappointed by sequels, lately. Taken 3 is basically fast-editing with an older actor who just can't do the stunts anymore. Jason Bourne was the same thing. John Wick 2's fight scenes are just sad compared to the original; and, the sequel to Jack Reacher suffers the same thing. So, I turned on Ong Bak 2 expecting to turn it right back off... especially seeing the no-name production companies flit by on the screen.
What I got was a martial arts movie CHOCK FULL of great martial arts. Stunts being done by the star of the film. Imagination, decent acting, a good but non-intrusive story and special effects that didn't seem cheap OR excessive.
This is a good martial arts flick... right up there with the first Ong Bak or The Protector. Definitely worth a watch, then another one...
The Defenders (2017)
I Liked it
I didn't enjoy Jessica Jones, Iron Fist or Luke Cage... even Daredevil bogged down on me with all the stupid soap opera type misunderstandings and subplots. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this series, either.
But, I did. With four heroes there is very little time for the stupid high school type conflicts and the plot points that could've been resolved if only that guy had been allowed to finish his sentence; moreover, Sigorney Weaver is in this one and I likes me some Sigorney Weaver.
The Stick is back. Elektra is back. It's a nice little reunion. And, watching Luke Cage do what he's best at, clobbering bad guys, instead of wading through emotional b.s. is pretty refreshing.
So, to sum up: The cast is great on both sides of the moral spectrum. The plot moves way more smoothly. The premise is mediocre but most Marvel plots are. I recommend this show...
More Detailed than Your Usual American Documentary
Most documentaries I see today are simply the same information as in the other documentaries on the same subject but in a different order and with progressively more sophisticated CGI effects. I doubt most of them do any research beyond watching previous television shows on the subject. But, Bettany Hughes is different.
She keeps the subject entertaining without sacrificing content. She may not talk about every book Nietzsche ever produced but she also doesn't make an entire show about Thus Spake Zarathustra, either. Bettany discusses the philosopher, his family, his works and how his works were received at the time; and, she concludes with how the world reacted to Nietzsche's works after his death. And, when you finish watching, you feel as if you've learned something.
There are three in this series, the other two being Marx and Freud. What I've noticed is that Ms. Hughes critiques these great minds and their ideas alternate with discussing their brilliance and the great impact they had. Were these the greatest geniuses of modern times? Hardly; however, they probably ranked among the most influential...
Space: 1999 (1975)
Idiotic Concept with a Great Cast
I remember this being far more intelligent when I was about thirteen...
It hasn't weathered the rigors of time very well. Most of the scientific concepts in this series were flawed when the show first came out. An explosion that would slowly hurl the moon out of orbit without killing most of the occupants of the moon base is a good start. The occupants of the moon-base being crushed by g-forces while a pilot above the same moon and accelerating just as fast is non-plussed... and the worst: The moon, which is pretty much unsteerable, is headed for a mystery planet? You'd have a better chance of flying into the butt of a giant unicorn...
One the other hand, Baine and Landau are terrific actors. So, as they read these lines that make even those of us with a spattering of education in the sciences wince, they are doing it quite well. I'm of two minds with this one...
Chappelle took the stage and belted out some great comedy. His stories about OJ Simpson were funny and kind of telling on the changing opinions and emotions as the years went by. His stuff on Cosby was very good... maybe even insightful.
My favorite was the imaginary superhero that only gained superpowers after he raped a woman. So, he rapes women, but he saves lives. And, he saves, more than he rapes. Reminds me of the Japanese, Hanzo the Razor series.
In all, a very nicely constructed set. Some maturity... some bigotry... some confessions of acts that were not particularly nice at the time. I say, see it...
A lot of people don't like this film. Even I thought that casting Keanu Reeves as someone from outer space was a little redundant. But, it was on and I was bored so I started watching. And, kept watching; and, at bed time I recorded the rest.
It is not the same movie as the original. That is a good thing. The original movie was great for its time; however, the old plot set in modern times would look uber-dumb. Also, I have to doubt that the authorities would've reacted so cartoonishly militaristic as they are depicted, in this day and age; but, maybe I'm an optimist.
So, instead of turning off the world's power, the aliens bring metal-eating robots that threaten to devour us all. We are on the brink of destruction, as they mention once or twice. The deaths from these creatures gives the film a very different feel than the original.
Bates and Cleese do well in their performances. As always, Reeves plays stunned well. If you don't expect the original and you don't question things very hard, this is not a bad movie.
Francis Goes to the Races (1951)
A Taut Political Thriller!
This movie progresses more organically than any of the other Francis movies, i.e. the plot doesn't seem forced.
Francis Goes to the Races starts with the mule talking to a crowd of stunned and indignant people, essentially, ending Peter Sterling's job and putting the two on the road again. It is a dynamic used often in this series: Peter gets himself deeper and deeper into trouble until the only thing that can get him out of it is a long diatribe from his mule. Beginning with it is kind of clever.
It is essential that the viewer understand the science behind the movie: Mules can talk to horses. You wouldn't think so, but apparently, since they look so much alike, they also speak the same language. You also need to remember that Francis' great aunt was a Derby winner. The two stop at a horse farm on the road and Francis meets a relative. He decides to stay at the farm and let Peter take a stab at life without a talking mule to mess things up.
Anyone who watches these movies is aware that Peter Sterling is the piston that isn't firing in that particular dyad; and, it isn't long until he gets himself in trouble. And, it isn't long until Francis bails him out. There's a pretty girl, also. And, gangsters This movie doesn't surpass Francis Joins the WACS in quality, however, it is a fun movie.
Francis Joins the WACS (1954)
A Mule for All Seasons
I have a lot of fond memories for the Francis movies, having watched them as a child. I recently purchased all seven of them. This was the first on I watched because it was the most memorable.
To start off, Donald O'Connor is greatly ignored. I think a lot of it has to do with when he performed and what he performed. The fifties were a transition period in movies. Movies started to take themselves serious in the fifties with people like Marlon Brando and James Dean. However, there was still a market for comedies. Physical comedy was less in demand and O'Connor was a pretty physical guy.
This movie is remarkably sexist. More sexist than you can possibly imagine. Much of the sexism is from the General; however, Francis is also very sexist. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that mules can't procreate. Must make them pretty bitter...
But, Francis beats Mr. Ed by a mile. Mr. Ed was a pet, essentially. Francis is kind of a father figure to Peter. The voice is great AND in this movie we get to see the man behind the voice. A General and a mule with the same voice is a recipe for comedy and also a recipe for a nice lentil soup...
Zasu Pitts is reprising her earlier role as a psych nurse. She's a joy to watch. Mamie Van Doren is there, front and center. A lot of pointy breasted fifties beauties with the hots for the little guy who was mistakenly appointed to a WAC unit.
Will he help the WACs to defeat the males in a publicity-stunt war-game? I can only say, "Possibly!"
Interesting and Somewhat Informative
In looking for documentaries on Netflix, I came across this series. I've always felt a little light in my knowledge of British castles, so I started watching this series.
This show is not dense with information; however, it also doesn't come across as fluff. There are actors reenacting historical events and people, many of whom are in multiple episodes (because how many kings or queens did Britain have?).
The narrator kind of goes off the rails from time to time trying to make the series more dramatic than it should be. Aside from that, it is a fun watch with some breath-taking views of castles and the surrounding areas.
Kanashimi no Beradonna (1973)
An Epic Fantasy of Rape and Penises
I'm not going to lie to you: This is a rapey cartoon. And, I use the word "cartoon" loosely. We all know how much the Japanese like their rape, so it is hardly surprising. Even the penis imagery mostly exhibited by Satan is something we've come to expect from the craziest island in Asia. So, why did I give it a seven? There are a lot of good aspects to this film. The imagery, although barely animated, is very imaginative and at times stunning. The story flows nicely. The voices and narration are well-done.
The animation style reminds me a lot of the movie Wizards.
The ending was weak... really weak...
One of the Better Netflix Offerings
Well, I'm waiting for The Punisher to start up and taking a break from being disappointed in Daredevil to start up a new series. Iron Fist didn't do it for me, neither did several other series of that type. So, I tried Arrow, thinking I'd turn it off pretty quickly.
Now, this isn't high art... although, if you are high enough, you might consider it art. But, it's a fun series with the usual soap opera backdrop that I've come to expect from all the Marvel/DC movies out there. The problems of the characters are more like the problems of teenagers. That's a little distracting. And, the acting of the main character (Oliver Queen) is mediocre; but, it has many positive points.
Foremost is, so far every episode is episodic. I.e. there is a plot and that plot is resolved by the end of each episode. They nearly always stick a teaser in at the end to tempt you to let the next episode run; but, that is to be expected in a series of this sort...
The acting talents of the other characters is good. And, an action series is nothing without decent actors, regardless of how much action there is. So far, none of the bad guys are completely over the top and cartoonish.
I like the parkour moments in the series. They make things a little frenetic and that is good. The flashbacks to his time on the island occur every episode; however, not so long as to distract from the main plot. It IS kind of irritating for Oliver Queen to always allude to "been away five years" and for his partner to always bring up Afghanistan. Sometimes it seems as if they are trying to catch us up in case we didn't see the previous episodes...
Anyway, until The Punisher comes out, I'll stick with Arrow. It hasn't disappointed me, yet...
Not Sure why this is Scored so Low
Maybe this isn't a perfect movie but it is pretty original. Set in one apartment, it mirrors the life of Everly, a woman who's been held there as a sex slave for four years. Certainly, the bad guys are fatally inept, but that is the seed of most action movies, today.
A good action movie not only requires action, but also decent acting. Salma Hayak is definitely a competent actress. There's a nice mix of grief and fatalism in her personality. Yes, you are pretty aware that the bad guys, even when they have her dead in their sights, will make a mistake and she will capitalize on that mistake in the bloodiest way possible.
The "dead man" who spends a good deal of the movie on Everly's couch, is a nice tragicomic addition to the movie. He's a man who knows he will be dead soon and tries to redeem himself in the most low-key way possible.
All in all, a nice tight little action movie.
I Love Melvin (1953)
Shoot the Lyracist
There is a lot right about this movie. Great dance numbers, good music, great personalities and a rival played by the Six Million Dollar Man's boss. The plot was pretty inventive for a musical as well.
But, two things make this a mediocre movie. The song lyrics are just... awful. Seriously bad. And, the ending is wrapped up too neatly and with no real explanation...
I have to say, though, that this movie changed my life. I've discovered that I'm actually turned on by women dressing and acting like footballs. The sad thing is, I CAN'T FIND ANY WEB SITES WERE THIS IS A THING. And, it's ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT!!! But, that's my issue, not yours.
My advice is to fast forward through the singing until the dancing kicks in... O'Conner and Reynolds are great to watch and some more modern stuff is peppered in...
A Spiritual Journey with Man-pigs, Blue Guy and a Giant Skeleton
Just watched this on pay per view after seeing the first one last week on Netflix.
Not going to compare the first to the second, except to say that the second movie has better special effects; otherwise, it's two different movies with two different casts. I enjoyed both.
This movie concerns the maturation of the Monkey King. After being imprisoned for five hundred years to learn humility, meditation and how to live in a very tiny space, Wudong is freed by a monk, but forced to aid the monk in his quest for a holy scroll by a torture crown that causes pain when the monk chants.
There are a lot of fun but baffling fight scenes in this one. Wudong fights a pig-man and a blue man who are both allies, it turns out. There are some nifty demons. And, of course, the fact that there is a giant skeleton who is made out of smaller skeletons goes without saying...
The acting in this one was good and the effects were great. What didn't I like? The subtitles were just awful... unreadable at least half the time. My Mandarin is a little rusty, so it made the plot hard to follow much of the time.
So, I can recommend this movie. There is the death of a child and torture of children, so I'd advise no one younger than teenager to watch.
Bad to the Bone
I like bad movies. In fact, I'm still trying to get AFI to show Eckes vs Sever in their next film festival. I own Aztec Mummy vs the Robot Monster. What you call "hell", I call "entertainment"...
Dolemite is a very very bad movie. I've narrowed down its problems to the acting, directing, writing and cinematography.
Most of the cast in this movie are non-actors and it shows. Most of the cast members mumble their lines as if on a Thorazine binge. Some of the lines were meant to be spoken with great feeling which makes it all the more hilarious when they are said with the same flat mien as one would have ordering a MacDonald's breakfast. The few competent actors in this movie just make the rest of the cast look even worse. Who do I blame? The director, of course! You can tell this movie had a director or the actors would've just wandered off the lot during filming and gone about their lives; however, none of the acting seems to be directed. Maybe the director just gave up after seeing the...
...writing. Odd when the drugged monotone of a narrated flashback matches the exact dialog after the flashback. And, a warden letting a man out of prison to find who framed him is essentially a plot built from Ad Libs during a car ride. Bad bad writing. But, at least you have the...
Cinematography... Oh forget it...
This is a jaw-droppingly bad movie. I'm not saying that anyone should avoid it. Historically, it is worth watching because the seventies were an interesting time for grind-house movies...
Luke Cage (2016)
This show was nearly flawless. Excellent acting, good music and a very nice pace. In one episode, they set everything in motion without it seeming forced. And, Luke Cage has the charisma that Daredevil doesn't.
The lonely superhero persona kind of gets on my nerves after a while and this doesn't really deviate from that. I'm hoping he settles down with what seems to be his destined love-interest. Which brings me to my only gripe:
I'm no prude, but the only flaw I find is with the soft-core sex scenes in this an in his cameo in the other series, complete with funky bass. Whereas it is nice to see he is getting his share of sex, it seems a little out of place in a superhero show.
That being said, I am looking very much forward to the rest of the series...
Pulls You In
I look at each non-Kurosawa Japanese movie with skepticism. This movie included.
But, it didn't take long for the movie to pull me in. You feel a real compulsion to know answers. Who is the older samurai? What is his connection to the young man who was, let's not mince words, brutally murdered by a lord and his retainers? Why are the three "seconds" no shows for the second suicide? And, the answers aren't the ones you expect. What you do take from this movie is a complete lack of respect for the samurai code which is shown to have definitely atrophied.
If you enjoyed Rashamon, you will like this movie.
5th Ave Girl (1939)
A Fun Little Movie
I love Ginger Rogers. I don't much care for her dance movies, but I like her comedies. I like this movie.
The plot of this movie is simple and incongruous: A wealthy business-owner has big problems and a family that doesn't love or respect him. His solution to fix everything is to pretend to have a mistress. Somehow, this DOES fix everything.
The acting is competent. The lead male is a funny guy, with kind of a cartoon voice. I don't know if it started as a play, but it definitely had that feel to it.
I recommend this one...
I'm Not Sure
This movie is a mixture of 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and a little V is for Vendetta thrown in for good measure.
But, after seeing Christian Bale, yet again, as an attractive dead-eyed sociopath, I have to ask: Is the man a really good actor? Or, is he a dead-eyed sociopath playing himself? The movie is pretty compact and doesn't really make many mistakes. The action is the real draw. It is well done despite the inanity of "gun kata", which is ridiculous on the face of it.
There are better dystopias out there in movie land; but, with slick action and some great supporting actors, this movie is definitely worth a peek.
Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)
B-b-b-but the First One was so Good.
As Hamlet said to his mother, "How can you go from this to THIS?" I have to ask that about the Hit-man movies.
The first had a great cast and actors with charisma. This one has a competent cast but no one stands out. The first had a very sexy female lead. She had a personality. This movie has a female lead whose only emotion seems to be annoyance. The villain in the last movie was interesting. His plot was diabolical and believable. This movie has Zachory Quinto as the henchman and a very forgettable boss.
The action was fine... a little jumpy during the hand to hand sequences, which implies the director didn't feel capable of directing a fist fight.
All in all, worrisome in that it might kill the franchise before another decent Hit-man movie can be made.
The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date (1940)
A So So Detective Movie with a Charismatic Lead
Bumbling cops, a slick detective who manages to outwit them and the crooks and a morally ambiguous sidekick. Pretty much the staple of thirties and forties detective movies.
So, why tune in? Well, Warren William was the BEST Perry Mason; however, they stopped using him after a few movies and replaced him with some personality-free blow up dolls. The way he played Mason was more like Gardener's Perry Mason. Just a fun guy to watch.
As others have said, not a lot of mystery. But, a fun chase for a stack of ransom money that never made it to the kidnappers. Not Saint or Thin Man quality; but, definitely worth an hour of your life.
I Liked this Movie
I turned this on expecting a Matrix or Desperado type juggernaut of destruction and there is some of that. But, it also has a nice mix of styles. Some Oliver Stone, some Kubrik, some Matrix, some Ultraviolet and a little Altered States tossed in for good measure.
Johannson is competent in a role that tosses emotional content out the window pretty early on. Morgan Freeman acts as both narrator to the beginning and a character later on, a little like Shawshank Redemption.
The cinematography is very interesting and very vivid.
The only thing missing is characters the viewer actually cares about. Lucy commits an outright murder early on, making her alignment very ambiguous. She comes off as amoral and a little scary.
I'm definitely glad I saw this movie.
Which Way to the Front? (1970)
Ick, Yuck and Blech
This movie is almost unwatchable. I'm not sure why it was made. The only motive that comes to mind is revenge, but against whom? Casting is a big issue. Jan Murray is a stand up comic who is about as funny as an influenza epidemic. The rest of the cast follows his suit. There is none of the Jerry Lewis comic genius in this film. Even when he's mugging and freaking out, there isn't the skilled comic reactions from the other actors. Kathleen Freeman could've done it, but she's wasted in this film.
There's a real feeling of laziness. The main characters are wearing clothes from the sixties in a film about the forties. And ASCOT??? In 1943??? I know Lewis has forbidden the viewing of his holocaust movie, The Day the Clown Cried. I think this one belongs in that vault as well.
Angie Tribeca (2016)
A Little from Police Squad and a Little from Sledgehammer
I like parody. Like pizza, even when parody is mediocre, it is still good enough to consume. I did not have high hopes for this show.
But, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a nice mix of word-play, physical humor and total absurdity. Sure, it seems as if it was derived from David Rasche's SledgeHammer series, down to the superior officer who yells all the time. And, a lot of the gags seems to come directly from the Police Squad series. Making fun of cop shows will give you some overlap.
The character of Angie is funny enough. The running gags of the police dog and the vomiting rookie give you some laugh out loud moments. My recommendation: Watch them in order.