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Deadpool 2 (2018)
Second verse, same as the first... for better, and occasionally, for worse
20 May 2018
Deadpool(Reynolds, in the party was born to play) continues to struggle with the idea of him being a hero. Will he try to be there for Firefist(Dennison, struggling with his powers and temper), or not? Things come to a head when the kid is targeted by the time travelling Cable(Brolin, badass and motivated). What reason does he have to kill a teenager?

Other than ditching the flashback aspect of the structure(the rest remains in place), and obviously the origin story, since that's out of the way, this is the same movie as we got the first time. Except it's bigger, and somewhat different in a few other necessary ways. As much as I love the 2016 film, in most ways, this is an improvement. Obviously the action and scope are increased, since the budget is. But in other areas, more is a good, not bad, thing. This time around, quipping isn't limited to the title character and Weasel(Miller, admittedly funny, despite, as we now know, being a scumbag), rather, basically every major character gets to(adding to the overall world having that flavor, which it already did to some extent). And they all get to be memorable in other ways as well. While I'll admit that the larger cast worried me, they gave everyone the right amount of screen time. With nearly all major scenes and jokes revisited or redone in some way(since they worked the first time), it's noteworthy and impressive that they're greater here. With few exceptions. The franchise building, though the marketing can make it seem obtrusive and excessive, is handled well. I can't wait to see more of Domino(Beetz, an inspired choice).

This has a lot of strong language and bloody, gory violence. It's also frequently offensive, crossing the lines of what's politically correct. I recommend this to any fan of DP. 8/10
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Perfectly balanced
27 April 2018
Thanos(Brolin, giving us a layered villain, the best in recent years) has...*finally*... started to gather the Infinity Gems. If he gets all six he can wipe out half of the universe with a snap of his fingers. Will our heroes be able to stop him and his "Children"?

The hype for this was unreal. Many say that it couldn't live up to it. And I realise that a lot don't, and won't(as it premieres around the world), think it did. For my money(and they'll keep getting them as long as they keep making them this good), it delivered, and then some. Obviously, with so many major characters, they cannot possibly all get a lot of screentime. You could criticise their decision to include so many. Honestly, you're free to think so, but this is not a movie for you. Which is fine. I don't doubt that you love flicks that aren't for me. This is a cinematic version of an event comic, not decreased in scope as most of the adaptations of those stories are, something I've been waiting for for 20 years to be done right. So rather than complain about something that couldn't be helped, let's look at whether it's satisfying. Personally, I absolutely think so. I've loved most of these since I first saw these versions of them, and I felt that they were all featured to the right extent. Every single one of them makes an impact, most get arcs, not a single one feels like they're just in the background(as is the case with every single X-Men film).

This wastes no time starting the plot, moves quickly, and introduces us to all the groups quite early on, and yet never feels overpowering. I realised the following is an old example, however, recently rewatching Revenge of the Sith, the difference is incredible. Both were built up to for years(at least 6 in both cases), and where that one is massively overcrowded, and quite tiring and tedious, this one isn't, even a little. I know. I can hardly believe it myself. It delivers on emotion, interaction between individuals, growth, in addition to action scenes(which, ultimately, is the bread and butter of a Summer blockbuster). Does it, outside of the bad guy's depiction, including personality and motivation, reach a level of depth akin to the solo adventures? No. It would be unrealistic to expect it to. It's not going for that. Finally, there has been a lot of reasonable concern, for how they would handle the supposed killing off of fan favorites. I'm not giving away whether or not they do, or if it's only for bit parts. What I will say is that everyone who kicks the bucket in this, on either side of the conflict, gets to be memorable and important before they do. They were very smart and how they handled that. Like everything else in this.

I recommend this to anyone who finds it to be appealing. Do note that the ending is very much a setup for the next one, and doesn't feel conclusive. It used to be called part 1 for a reason. And yes, that will disappoint many - and they're not wrong. Personally, I'm just incredibly excited for Avengers 4. 10/10
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Not, in fact, just friends you haven't met
1 April 2018
One final fun trip together, as a family. Before Kinsey(Madison, what at first appears to be a rote "teen girls be bratty y'all" revealing a credible and compelling portrait of youth) goes off to boarding school. It's kept vague, but she and two other girls did something that was very against the rules. Cindy(Hendricks, who feels she's in the right), her mother, genuinely believes it will help and that it's necessary. she wishes it had been done for her when she was that age. Mike(Henderson, mostly a typical doofy dad type. He cracks us up) agrees. Luke(Pullman, mostly on the parents' side, still not without empathy. Really, no one in this is. 'cept the titular characters obviously), her brother, tries to cheer her up. They're going to a small resort. Golf. A pool. That sort of thing. However, contrary to what they expect, they won't be by themselves.

You know the drill by now. A few people, close to each other, are alone in a vacation type area, and three people in barebones cosplay stalk, terrify, and murder them. There's not a lot of plot, albeit this time, it isn't merely a reason for them to be where they are. And while this cranks up the volume on a lot of different things, most of them being sequel-based(though I would argue make it a lot more enjoyable), one that I'm not sure many people expected, is the psychological depth. Don't get me wrong. With more characters, and more interpersonal relationships, this has more room for that. Still, a lot of people wouldn't have bothered. I'm glad they did.

Where the first one was very much a 70s horror movie, this one is an 80s slasher flick. Higher body count, more areas, less ding-dong-ditch and more oh hi stab...albeit the sadistic toying with the victims does remain. Seriously, I'm sure you'll find Tamara eventually. Just calm down already. The girl don't live here! then again, have they been looking for her for 10 years straight? I guess that would make anyone impatient. The kills are shown not implied. Much more chasing and fighting back. Less obviously stupid ideas and actions by the good guys, and the use of classics, now pop not Country, is more playful. The ending can be interpreted in a couple of different ways. One is pure nonsense. Another does make sense, though I would say they should have played it slightly differently if that was the interpretation that was intended. On the off chance anyone that can make it happen will ever read this review: as long as you keep making these I will keep going to the theatre and watching them. While you should probably keep changing what subgenre of movie you're emulating each time, I think that's entirely doable.

There is a lot of gory and bloody violence in this, as well as a little swearing. This is one of the most fun of its kind that I've watched in a long time. Just don't go in expecting it to be like the 2008 original. 8/10
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Lost: Via Domus (2008 Video Game)
Some strengths
4 March 2018
You wake up, confused. you don't know where you are. Or what's going on. You're having trouble remembering. Something nearby is on fire. You're seeing things. People are screaming for help. But enough about the morning after the last time you went drinking. All that happens in this, too.

Not only are you one of the survivors of the crash of oceanic 815. But, because, like its "parent", this is a soap opera, you have amnesia. a lot of bad has been said about that idea. Personally, I find it clever, and honestly, entirely necessary. This, of course, has flashbacks. As expected, they inform who you are, relate to what's going on in present-day, and, they let you do a little detective work. And here, you're actually recalling this as you see it. On TV, that isn't the case. They're for the viewer. This was the only way to properly incorporate that. in each of them, you first have to snap a pic. it has to be exactly right. Framing, focus, zoom. You're given hints. It sounds a lot more difficult than it is. Once you have the shot, you can move freely. Well. Perhaps that word implies too much. This is linear as they come. You gradually realise what you were doing before you got on the plane. And you have to hurry. because someone you don't know is trying to kill you. Huh. Maybe you were paparazzi. The camera is definitely familiar. the still one, I mean. The TPP one can be a real pain. Especially when you tilt up or down. To whoever decided it should immediately go back when you let go? I see your trolling, and I can't help but be impressed. As everyone else... who gets a line... in this franchise, you're given a fresh start on the island. You gradually realise who you were. name and personality. And the question is, will you embrace that, and keep going in that direction? Or reject it? By which I mean, what will the writing decide. You get few choices in this.

As with other licensed games, the effort put into recreating what we saw in its source is one of the main draws. I'd say this gets it right two thirds of the time. I can't say a single negative thing about the locations, the general audio, the music(of course by Michael Giacchino) they're spot on. So let's move on to what I can call out. While the overall graphics are fine, when it comes to the characters, it's very hit and miss. Same for the voices. I do understand that the original cast may have been busy. You don't get to go to many places you don't already know. On the other hand, you get to go to almost every really cool place that you've seen. Of course, you don't necessarily get to do anything interesting there. and certainly too much of this is just you reenacting what you've seen others do. There's not enough tension in this. Rarely are you facing a time limit, when really, they could(and in this, should) be everywhere. Some things that are meant to be challenging are mere nuisances. Keeping a lightsource going as you are going through caves is just about lighting it again after it goes out. And putting it out before going under waterfalls. Navigating the jungle is just about going from one point to another. You can get lost because everything looks the same, and you have no compass. Well, you can drop a trail of "breadcrumbs". Unfortunately, sometimes, many times, too often, you have to find your way while being shot at(by The Others... and one tooltip actually said to fire back at them! Which I presume was removed at some point. And they kind of forgot that it would be annoying without that), or chased by The Black Smoke. Fortunately, if you hide in the easily recognisable Banyan trees, it will forget about you. You will automatically go into those if you go near them. This can't be toggled. That gets irritating.

A lot of this is essentially a walking simulator. There are almost no " chase" segments. They are among the more memorable portions. I do wish that it told you the first time, while paused, how to jump, how to dive. Given that it's the only times you can do either. It is fun. And yes, one of the reasons you're hurrying is, in fact, the Man In Black. There are branches, logs, rocks and the like to hop over. Duck under fallen trees. You can always tell when you should be avoiding touching something. Timing it all right does take a little getting used to. Turning is awkward. Sometimes you have to balance on a beam over a lethal drop. You can seldom use the gun. So don't bother gathering a lot of ammo for it. I kid you not, there is one part where you pick up two whole clips, use a single bullet, and then they take it all away from you! That segues nicely into the trading system. It's underused, and decent. You aren't given actual prices, so you have to figure out yourself how much you want to let go for what you're trying to get. You aren't told what you will(only what you might) need. The episodic nature paces this well. You get "previously on Lost" at the start of all but the first, then a cutscene placing you chronologically and geographically in the show, and giving an idea of what you will deal with this time. If you photograph iconic landmarks and the like, you can unlock extras in the menu. You will often be told when these are. Oh, Spoony? Fire up the fuse box counter.

There is a lot of disturbing content, some violence(albeit little gore and blood), and a little moderate to strong language in this. I recommend this to any fan of the series. 8/10
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Black Panther (2018)
Sleek, fierce claws and bite, you can't take your eyes off it... and yes, gloriously black all over
16 February 2018
T'Challa(Boseman, charismatic, not mistaking considering issues for being indecisive) returns to his homeland of Wakanda to succeed his late father as king after the latter's sudden murder. Will he continue the way things have worked for centuries, or go down a different path? How does one best aid one's own people? And does that extend beyond your nation's borders? Can he stop Killmonger(B. Jordan, passionate, wrong only in how far he goes and not in what he seeks to solve), before he tears the country apart from within?

This shares a lot of traits with The Wonder Woman solo movie. It's about time that they are made. but being filmed now, they can use recent events, and the franchise they belong to, to great effect. They celebrate, not excuse, not mock, not downplay, the traits typically thought of as natural, or even culturally, historically, geographically, important to the minority that they're about. They're telling a story important to that group. Exploring themes specific to them. Presenting a fictional, powerful country, where they are in charge, they are the rule rather than the exception, and govern by their strengths. And now to get into what separates this from the Gal Gadot-led picture, and I'm not saying that movie could have, or should have, done this, as it is, intentionally, a different story. That is about a woman on her own, in a world dominated by men. This is fully immersed in African culture. It is relevant to black people in the US, and all over the world. But it's not about immigrants, or their descendants. Which is not to say that it's snobby. Free of the pressures of the majority of the population who are distinct from them, never made to be ashamed of who they are, The Five Tribes do have all the power that their kin continue to fight for as they have for hundreds of years. In fact, far more than that. And so, it asks, how do you use that? What makes a great leader?

All the visuals are dazzling. Costumes, sets, designs, cinematography, etc. The acting is great. Shuri(Wright, infectious smile, casual, a brilliant engineer) steals every scene she's in. Coogler, known for drama, of course handles that aspect with a deft hand. And unusually for a first-time Blockbuster director, also the action, scope and massive budget. A little of the coverage and editing is awkward, showing his inexperience. but that is barely noticeable. The James Bond meets The Godfather feel blends the classic with the ultra-modern perfectly. The ancestral plane seems made for going into father son relationships. The War rhinos(!) Are an inspired touch. This is full of black women. They aren't looked down on, or angry side-kicks. Several are serious bad-asses. They give the protagonist advice, from their different perspectives, and he considers all of it. My only real complaint is that this did not take the final step in making this completely accessible for those unfamiliar with the MCU. If you did not watch the film that introduces the Black Panther, you will not understand, as this does not retell, what happened after the explosion that hits the UN. And since going blind into that film is even more confusing(If you watch Age of Ultron before it, you can follow it no problems... but not everybody knows that), that means this can't be watched by everyone. So I urge you. If you didn't already, catch those two films first, then go see this . Obviously, not everyone has, or will, see all 17 leading up to this.

There is some violence and strong language in this. I recommend this to everyone. I give this a perfect rating not to even out the overall score, a practice I do not believe in, but because it deserves it. I reserve that for only the best. I give it rarely. And I am thrilled to award it to this. 10/10
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Sabotage (2014)
13 January 2018
After a raid on a cartel safehouse, members of an elite DEA task force find themselves being picked off one at a time.

It's so much stupider than that, but I want you to find out for yourself if you choose to watch this. This is the only thing Ayer has directed that I don't love. Yes, even with all the issues Suicide Squad has. And I can't hate this. What works is actually really good. Still, ultimately, this is done in by its very foundation. The concept is based on something so dumb, there are three different entries for it in the Goofs section. Two people read what others had written about it already, and still felt the need to explain how baffling it is in their own words. And I applaud them for it.

That's not all. The "locker room" talk that is applied perfectly in Street Kings is here overpowering. Characters are obnoxious to the point of it becoming white noise, which drowns out even all their definition, development and the, sometimes out-there, things that happen to them. Arnie and others act their hearts out. The tone is simply mean-spirited. Sadism, blood and gore is lingered on where before this director limited it, made it disturbing not celebrated, to much greater effect. The action is too spread out, and once you get past the opening set-piece, it never gets that big again. Most of the slasher murder mystery is boring. The resolution is absurd and unsatisfying, both what ended up in the film and the Trivia's original versions.

There's a ton of swearing and sex for its own sake(frequently immediately followed by violence, or soured by other nastiness) in addition to what I've already mentioned. I recommend this solely to those who, like me, take in everything they can of David's work. 6/10
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"You even look at her funny, I'll stick an umbrella up your ass and open it."
22 November 2017
Football is ravaged by scandals. "No heroes left". Can Sarcastaball be far off? Disgraced player Jimmy(Wayans, funny, and charming if not as easy-going as other roles of his) is insulted that "outside protection" is hired by his girlfriend Cory(Berry, sultry, sweet). As such, he gets off on the wrong foot with former Secret Serviceman Joe(Willis, washed-up). Well, most people do. He gets no respect. Not from his ex-colleagues, his wife, daughter, etc. Both leads are down-on-their-luck losers who are still tough, bad-ass guys. And they're going to have to start trusting each other, even if they don't want to. For the woman they are to keep safe.

This is a classic, an excellent buddy comedy. I don't think Robert Rodriguez watched very much of this before he decided Bruce should play Hartigan. Heck, maybe Miller watched this before he wrote it. Not sure why he didn't go with Halle for Nancy. Then again, nobody knows why he went with Jessica Alba. But I digress. This has 102 f-words, that's an average of 1 per minute of this 1 hour, 41 minute movie. Or 37 if you don't count the end credits. And I loved every second. There is a ton of machismo in this. Several shootouts and explosions. Dozens of deaths, including stand-out ones for a select few. Tons of violence inflicted and/or threatened. It's very clearly directed by Tony Scott(with his inimitable style, its visual flair), and written by Shane Black(countless quotable quips. Memorable pairs of goons). This is realistic on drugs, football and gambling.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys action flicks. 7/10
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Leagues of justice done to icons?
19 November 2017
With Superman dead, crime is rampant, hope is deteriorating, and Batman(Affleck, sad to be here, no longer brooding because it polled poorly) feels a need to redeem himself for his role in Big Blue biting the... spear. Paranoia apparently washes right off. He puts together a team(who will occasionally even work together when they face off against enemies) of people with powers, as evidence mounts of an alien invasion.

This is essentially a series of well-done if repetitive(if Steppenwolf(Hinds, who voices a full CGI character brought to life with bad effects) is in a place, he's probably there to get a MacGuffin Box, and most likely, he'll get it. You wonder why these people even pretend to be keeping them from him, and if they couldn't have done more to make them hard to get to) action scenes, with materials connecting them – basically, you need to get the people from point A to point B, so every single fight isn't set in the same location. It is deeply forgettable. Meanwhile, I'm not going to pretend I didn't enjoy myself. For many, that will be enough. It's very clear what is done by Snyder and what by Whedon, and both do some things right, other things wrong.

Barry(Miller, funny, socially awkward) isn't annoying. Aquaman(Momoa, really going for that Wolverine status) comes off as a whiny adopted kid in an adult's body, and you don't buy him joining the rest. Cyborg(Fisher, going for RoboCop) goes back and forth between "I can't control the unpredictable tech growing in me" and "here's how we're gonna do this because I now know what I can do and no problems accomplishing it". The introduction of these three is rushed and underwhelming. It feels as though we're expected to have watched the three solo movies that have yet to come out yet. Wonder Woman(Gadot, who does raise a lot of the meh material she's given) is given little to do, and it's clear that those behind this don't love her character like Patty Jenkins, Gal, and 90% of everyone who watched her own film. Atlantis and Themiscyra feel like footnotes.

I recommend you go in with adjusted expectations, rather than not at all. 6/10
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Destruction and creation, building up and undermining
29 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
When the long-banished, not-known-to-exist first-born of Odin(Hopkins, whose parody of himself, as well as his somber take, are both great), his daughter Hela(Blanchett, delicious, loving every moment, and making for another one of the few and far between deeply memorable villains of the franchise) returns to Asgard, her tremendous powers and thirst for conquest mean Thor(Hemsworth going for dry, sarcastic wit, and it works) and Loki(yet again in a new personal situation with his family, albeit overall, he does little to affect what happens) have to stop her. However, they're stuck in Sakaar, prisoners of the dictator The Grandmaster(Goldblum, with his charm turning threatening from one second to the next). And then our titular hero is made to fight the gladiatorial champion – The Hulk(Ruffalo getting to expand the role's vocabulary, personality, and tragedy/pathos – albeit not far enough. It doesn't extend to properly exploring what he's been doing, fighting beings no match for him, previously invariably to the death, despite him leaving Earth was literally specifically to flee this exact thing. They stopped short of where the comic went with it, sadly. The supporting players are appreciated, though).

This trilogy has gotten a lot of criticism from the onset, some of it deserved, a lot of it borne out of the natural difficulties with making this kind of world work, especially within the gritty, realistic one Iron Man set up. In this entry, Earth is nearly completely absent, and certainly the only human who has screen-time is Dr. Strange, who is also "beyond". Yes, Jane Foster, Darcy and Erik Selvig are gone. Broken up off-screen. I hate that. However, with this newfound freedom, this goes full cosmic. The tone approaches Guardians of the Galaxy. It's superior to Vol. 2, but not up to the level of the original. Honestly, a few minor things seem to be there specifically to redo that, and they'd be better left on the cutting room floor. The jokey subversion/drama mix is not as strong as that, nor of the third Robert Downey Jr. solo picture. With that said, relatively little of the actual weight is lost to laughs. This still has gravity and tension. The action is fast, frequent and enjoyable, if also by far the most MCU aspect of this. Many will find this to be bland, not fun, a corporate product. Certainly, there's still a lot of room for diversity and flavor. Fingers crossed that Black Panther will push the envelope there.

I recommend this to anyone who finds the trailers appealing. You can go into this completely blind. Stay through the credits. 8/10
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There they are
11 October 2017
This is the only featurette, in fact the only extra at all, on my library's DVD copy of, well, Terminator: Genisys. It's 15 minutes long, and consists of interviews with cast and crew, behind-the-scenes footage and film clips. There are subtitles for it, in multiple languages.

They go into the many different nationalities represented(and no, you can't see them the same after you hear their real accents and dialects! Of course, this is hardly the first time you can hear them, they've been famous for a number of years now), Arnie being back and everyone's reaction to that(he talks about how in the 1984 original, he barely ever had to strip, and did not have to flex his muscles. His first villain role. Then he says "kind of heroic", which I think must be him accidentally jumping to the second entry. Or maybe he is getting obsolete), Emilia(they don't mention that she looks so much like Linda Hamilton. I mean, yes, she's an incredible actor, and a bad-ass. And that's necessary too. However, with that pick, they got the look just right), why this Kyle Reese looks(, sounds, behaves...) nothing like Michael Biehn, why Simmons joined this(why he's not among the listed on this site, I do not know) and what he brought to this, how good Jason is, the character of John, Lee(who actually had the nickname Terminator as a teenager!), Smith(wait. Who?). Everyone has something to add, and it's edited and paced well.

There is a little moderate to strong swearing in this. I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the subject. 7/10
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30 years later, aged like fine wine
9 October 2017
LAPD officer K(Gosling, cynical on the surface) investigates an unusual case. No, sorry, that's all you're getting for plot. If you see someone getting into a lot of detail, avert your eyes. Go into this as blind as Niander(Leto, driven by his cause). Thank me later.

This is 2 hours and 33 minutes long, which is not excessive considering how it uses its time. The pacing allows some scenes to go on for a while, however, it's always appropriate. Major props to whoever thought Denis Villeneuve would be right for this. He couldn't be more perfectly chosen. His use of symbolism, exploration of philosophy and compelling themes fit as a companion to the film Ridley Scott created, without merely redoing it(the hints are neat, if perhaps a tad too numerous). This expands upon the issues about Replicants in truly inspired ways(albeit I acknowledge that not all of them were thought up purely for this movie). The acting is sublime. If Joi(Armas, expressing so much with so much forced restraint, for reasons I won't reveal) doesn't break your heart, get an EKG stat, it's stopped beating already. This is not driven by action, rather, the gripping mystery.

There is some bloody, even brutal, violence, nudity and disturbing material in this, used well. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys speculative sci-fi. 10/10
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Progress, not simply a dystopia
4 October 2017
This is one of the only two featurettes on my library's copy of Total Recall 2012, the other being Designing The Fall. The running time is 9 minutes.

It consists of an interview(not with the director and two stars. I can only imagine there is more than one version, or that whoever submitted them didn't actually watch it), no behind-the-scenes footage and film clips. Discussed is the realism of the science seeng in the picture. The memory implantation(with experiments in rats setting up what might happen), the robot guards(including the singularity, the possibility of them making us their slaves rather than the other way around which might be how it starts out), holograms(there are already working models. Currently it's, potentially prohibitively, expensive with all the lasers. But there might be a time where the technology can be used to create a disguise), flying cars(again, extremely high cost at this time. Using a magnetic cushion, these can float in the air), an elevator a la The Fall(theoretically could be built, however, there are, for now, substantial problems with accomplishing it).

Note that this spoils a lot of what happens in the flick, in going over the things that are in use in the setting, speaking about how much of it are, or will become, entirely doable. I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. 7/10
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Future uncertain
1 October 2017
This is not one of the 3 featurettes(The 'Next' Grand Idea, Making The Best Next Thing and Visualizing The Next Thing, all of which I've reviewed on their separate pages on this site) on the DVD of Next. Instead, it is a sitdown interview with the female star of the film. Intercut with some clips that help illustrate points made. 2 minutes(and a half, if you count the end credits). Like, you know. That's just as far as Cris can see in the picture, itself. See? It's clever.

She talks about what it would be like to see into the future, two minutes or otherwise. "It would be cool in one respect, because you can relax about what your career is gonna be like". "Or maybe not relax", she realizes. "It doesn't make life very fun", she says, speaking about preferring the spontaneity. She would rather be able to make the mistakes, even if they're painful. If you skip them all, you haven't learned anything, she remarks, perhaps having recently rewatched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind(it holds up, trust me, go back and see). She does admit she might go to Vegas and make some money, but she wouldn't stay too long.

I recommend this to any fan of her, or, *sighs* the movie. It spoils a little of what happens. 7/10
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The 'Next' Grand Idea (2007 Video)
It was something I wanted to share with audiences
1 October 2017
This is one of the 3 featurettes(the others being Making The Best Next Thing and Visualizing The Next Thing, both of which I've reviewed on their separate pages on this site) on the DVD of Next. It consists of interviews with cast and crew, behind-the-scenes footage, film clips, and is 7 minutes long. Everyone has something to say, it's edited tightly, and neither rushes by too quickly or overstays its welcome.

The focus here is on the location of the Grand Canyon(yup, they just could not resist the pun in the title), the why(it was where Nicolas Cage took his wife on their first date, and he thought it was beautiful. Because of this, he wanted more people to see it, and, well, it's easier to put it on the silver screen than shipping people there), giving some time to the romance(not just because Cris can see what their future looks like, but to *really* fall in love with her), the challenges of shooting there(it was one of the worst production nightmares. What with having to fly down to, and back from, this inaccessible place), the Havasupai people and their relationship with Nic, etc.

I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the subject. 7/10
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He gets too involved in the drugs that he's trying to destroy
1 October 2017
He gets too involved in the drugs that he's trying to destroy This is one of the two featurettes, the other being One Summer in Austin: The Story of Filming 'A Scanner Darkly' on the DVD of A Scanner Darkly. It consists of interviews with cast and crew(lots of cross-cutting early on. Unsurprisingly, we meet a lot of animators), behind-the-scenes footage(including a time lapse that is positively exhausting even as you just sit and watch), film clips, work in progress, conceptual drawings. In an estimate, they thought it would be 350 man hours per minute: it ended up being a lot longer. This is 21 minutes long.

It goes into the roto-scoping process in detail. Drawing over live-action footage, the different approaches to certain characters(and assigning each to one particular artist, ), backgrounds and the like, the specific somewhat comic-book-y look, the challenge of Keanu's beard(not too patchy, not too full, etc.), men trying and failing to draw women(hence, Winona was dealt with by one of the females at the production studio. What? Girls sketch, too), the scramble suit(20 people on that aspect, which was more than any other group) both the acting and the post work on it, the countless rows of corn, etc.

Note that this spoils some of the movie. I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the subject. 7/10
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They all don't have much of a sense of reality anymore. But he's the furthest along
1 October 2017
This is one of the two featurettes, the other being The Weight of the Line: Animation Tales, on the DVD of A Scanner Darkly. It is made up of interviews with cast and crew(as well as Philip K. Dick himself, from 1977. In one part, he reads part of the book aloud on the radio. Isa Dick Hackeet, one of his daughters, both of them concerned with getting it right, also further supplies the personal perspective. It's such an intimate book, and I was deeply impressed with this adaptation. Really, the only major issue I see is the ending not being as clear), behind-the-scenes footage and film clips, often matched up to them being shot(most of the time, you see either of them split from the other).

Topics discussed include the novel being visionary(such as predicting the great increase in surveillance seen in more recent years. It *was* written as Nixon started the already-then-intense war on drugs, and PKD was one of the many that the government looked into, whether that really made a lot of sense to do or not. The greater police violence also really rings true), the reactions to the script by the perfectly chosen actors who perform it, the director and his approach(you didn't think you'd be spared the lovefest, did you? He talks about them, as well), the characters(Bob in particular, what with him being the first person perspective protagonist. Fred, as well), each, especially, as perceived and analyzed by the person portraying them. This is 26 and a half minutes long, the last half minute being devoted to credits.

I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the subject. 7/10
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Wiener-Dog (2016)
"What's it been?" "Three years. ...four." "How much do you need this time?"
30 September 2017
An adorable wiener-dog changes owners, impacting these four different miserable and frequently humiliated people, each with terrible personal judgment, who clearly can't take responsibility for her. Remi is a lonely 7-year-old cancer-survivor. He once calmly mentions to his mother "we're all going to die". Dawn, though now an adult, remains naive, and reacting far too positively to Brandon. Gerwig does, some of the time, evoke Matarazzo's spot-on performance. Dave is a middle-aged struggling screenwriter who teaches film school, facing students who are particularly painful to endure. And the elderly Nana is kept company by little other than her regrets.

The director's pitch black humor stays strong. We meet more people who definitely shouldn't be taking care of kids, and children who are comprised entirely of depression. One mother describes cremation as "sort of like... being put in an oven". The acting is all good. This is incredibly quotable, why is there only the "heel" one on the page? The fake intermission gave me cramps from laughing. How have DeVito and Todd not worked together before this? The only of his films I haven't watched now is Dark Horse. I love them all(this very much included), though I admit they aren't all equally good(this is one of the "not the best" ones. But I'm ecstatic that I watched it). I watched this as soon as I could, it's available for free streaming on my library's website. It never hit my cinema, an indie and all.

The trailer tells you it's hilarious, in that dark way he does: if you watch that, you should have a fair idea of what to expect. Note that a lot of the negative reviews are from people who saw the title, and nothing else about it, and expected it to be heartwarming, rather than, y'know, soul-rending. Storytelling has problems from pacing as it's about such different people and stories; Happiness, the people have stuff in common. This fares pretty well. More exploration of "the h*** of suburbia", and the misery of middle America. The running time is 81 minutes without credits, or 84 with.

Yes, the ending is shocking. But if you don't think there was a reason for that...then your mind is not twisted enough for Solondz' work. I recommend this to any fan of his. 7/10
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I hate downtown
27 September 2017
This is one of the two featurettes on my library's DVD of The Adjustment Bureau. The other being Becoming Elise. Well, there's also Destined To Be, but that one isn't on IMDb as I type this. That one is 5 minutes, and goes into the subject of the sweet romance, the charming chance meeting, the wit of both characters, the relationship between the two actors. The running time is 7 and a half minutes. It's made up of interviews with some key cast and crew, film clips, pre-vis and behind-the-scenes footage.

It goes into actually using the city, with things said such as "it's another character" (Emily Blunt). "We don't want sparks flying when people go through doors: we want it to feel seamless". Of course they were going to travel through Yankee Stadium! And the Statue of Liberty! "A love letter to New York", Damon puts it. We see how they actually filmed some of the effects shots. Everyone has something to add. It's edited and paced well. You get a good sense of what it was like, and there's a lot of interesting information for the short duration.

I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the movie. 7/10
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How becoming
27 September 2017
This is one of the two featurettes on my library's DVD of The Adjustment Bureau. The other being Leaping Through New York. Well, there's also Destined To Be, but that one isn't on IMDb as I type this. The running time is 7 minutes.

It's made up of interviews with both romantic leads(who go into the extensive training, the food she had to eat... Matt! You jerk! Solidarity, dude! I'm kidding. Wasn't the nicest thing to do, though. It took me completely by surprise that it didn't come naturally to her. In both this and The Edge of Tomorrow, she's so graceful - I guess that's why they call it movie *magic*).

Then there's writer/director George Nolfi(who had envisioned it for a professional, rather than an actor), and choreographer Benoit-Swan Pouffer(who knew the difficulty in making someone not experienced *appear* to be, to move in just the right way for it), ...and several other people, that I guess either weren't submitted to here, or confirmed as being in it, or something. Anyway, also, film clips, and behind-the-scenes footage. This shows lots, and lots, of dancing... rehearsing, performing, etc.

This has a little(albeit for the short duration, it will seem like a lot. Concentrated around the middle) moderate to strong language. I recommend this to anyone interested in the subject. 7/10
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Mother! (2017)
Mother issues
17 September 2017
A couple with a substantial, acknowledged age difference live a quiet life in a nice house in the middle of a field, surrounded by forest. She(Lawrence, giving her usual solid performance. So much of it, here, is anxiety, especially communicated through her eyes, and it's great. A lot of people who hate this, disagree on the quality, and I can see how that would make you despise it, given how much of this is her reacting. She's loving, and accepts a huge amount of micro-aggressions, constantly undermining her will and wishes) has renovated it. He(Bardem, going expertly between sinister and charming. He's a poet, who desires praise from fans) is dealing with writer's block, which fills the air. That tension is greatly increased once people start showing up uninvited, and their rudeness gradually rises to the unbearable. You won't believe what happens next. No, really. That's not exaggeration. Unless someone gives you a detailed rundown of the events of this, it will constantly surprise you. Don't let them. Go into this with as little info as possible.

The hand-held camera is in fact not shaky, and yes, there is still great cinematography. The people who claim otherwise haven't watched Polanski. And you know what? Aronofsky hasn't yet mastered that style. I hope he does in the future. The pacing definitely isn't as tight, though he clearly put effort into that. Yes, there are a lot of close shots, uh-huh, a lot of them are of Lawrence, and, yup, her body is treated like a gun is by John Woo. I wonder if that was decided upon before the director and start began dating. If you've watched 2 or 3 of his pictures, you should know if you are or aren't into his stuff. If you don't like artsy, this isn't for you. He woke up one morning, and this poured out of him. You can tell. This is a divisive film. The second half is, indeed, completely insane. Some will hate it. I, like others, loved it. And long before that, dream logic and surrealism run the show: if that bothers you, stay away, rather than complaining that the movie isn't realistic. Don't buy chocolate ice cream and get upset it isn't vanilla. The trailer told you as much. There's a ton of allegory... it's as if Darren woke up manic one day, thumbed through the Bible and underlined every single passage he thought would be compelling to put in this. Then you have a lot of events that are very current. This mix is... interesting. Many call it a failure. It could have been. In lesser hands, it would be.

There is a lot of disturbing content, a moderate amount of frequently brutal violence, and a little swearing in this. I recommend this to anyone who think they can handle it. Even if you end up not favoring it, you're not likely to see anything even remotely like it at any time. 8/10
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Bringing up baby
3 September 2017
This is one of the two documentary on my library's DVD of Rosemary's Baby. It's 16 and a half minutes long.

It consists of a series of, well, interviews with the cast and crew of the movie, all done a number of years later, some specifically for this piece. Occasionally, the editing jumps between them when two people have different(not to be confused with contradictory; what I mean is that they each express where they were coming from) things to say on the same exact subject. There are film clips, as well. The other documentary, The Making Of, has lots of behind-the-scenes footage, and those who put together the picture itself recorded what they say in it back when it came out, which in general appears to be when it was made.

This gives you a good amount of information on how they came to make the feature, a lot of it before they started filming. Who they considered for the main couple. Redford or Nicholson were almost chosen. They talk about why they picked the supporting players that they did, and how happy they were with them(you didn't expect to be spared the typical lovefest, did you?).

I recommend this to anyone interested in knowing more. 7/10
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Just Cause 3 (2015 Video Game)
Have fun, you lunatic
2 September 2017
You return to where you came from. As homecomings go, this ranks slightly above Silent Hill's and far below Spider-Man's. Of course, this does allow you to pretend to be the webslinger. And The Dark Knight. The Man of Steel. Iron Man. And as is the case in the MCU, you may find yourself slamming face-first into the ground. Then you dust yourself off and proceed. Sheldon, ironically, is assassinated. Well, his character. Don't expect much from those in this... well, at least they're distinct from each other. Dimah(Bibiyan, rambling and feeling guilty) is about the only one I didn't want to just shut up. She at least has an arc, and isn't irritating. The quips are terrible. Rico(Collins) himself is made boring. Anyway, you know the drill. Dictator who has an interesting personality needs to be gotten rid of. You go smash stuff. He'll be defeated.

Let me take a moment to note that I played this over 3 weeks leading up to the date I review it. Via Steam. On a PC that lived up to the recommended specs. And almost everything people criticized has been patched. It hardly ever crashed. Just about didn't log in/out at all. While loading remains frequent, the times are down to 5-10 seconds. And my sympathies to anyone brave enough to get this at launch date. A lot of what this has is what we've already seen, but done... different. A lot of it better. Basically, everything can be made to go really fast, hit really hard, jump however improbably, etc. A lot of these things have to be unlocked. Mods. They tend to be worth the effort. It's easy to tell how to get them and what they'll do, from the menu. Basically, you need to earn Gears, which is done by completing Challenges(I did every single one at least once. I'm not competitive. I still managed to get almost everything unlocked. Those who have had a lot of trouble, it seems to have been fixed today). Races, Frenzies(break a lot in a little time), using cars as bombs a la Speed, etc. Yes, vehicle handling is bad, on most of the dozens available. It's still enjoyable to get them to garages so you can get them just about anytime. If you stand on a jeep of allies, they'll drive to the way-point you place, and attack with you. Once you have it, you can use Nitrous on any you've collected. Bomber jet. Rechargable shields. Incredible speeds. A Formula 1.

One of the major new things is the Wingsuit. No, you can't shoot from it. Well, you can if you get the Bavarium version in the Sky Fortress Pack DLC. Really, get the whole Air, Sea and Land Expansion Pass, and, well, none of the rest(their contents are largely outdone by material in the core experience anyway). That one can take off, land, there's a speed boost that also enables evading any missile that's locked on, and you can use your own, along with the MG, to cause a lot of destruction. On the airship, which is guarded by drones. The Mech combat is fun, if the TK is awkward and slow compared to the BioShock series. And ridiculously OP Loochador boat and eDEN Spark are a ton of fun. Pardon the digression. In the vanilla one, you can float, very fast, as far as you can keep from touching the ground. Slingsuit along to stay up.

Liberating is now golden. There's a set amount of things to destroy, all of which are still easy to tell from looking. And now, you can look up what there is, what's left, and the more you take out, the clearer, on the map, the rest will become. It's too bad the places feel very copy/paste, with a lack of variety. You can let in your comrades: just make sure they can safely get in, and you may have to open one or more gates, and in they'll come, fighting alongside you. Some places, you have to activate several buttons in order to complete it, breaking up the monotony. Heck, in the case of the Monitoring System, you have to completely avoid mayhem, in addition to being quick to move between them! As stealth goes, it's simplistic, limited and... oh forget it, I love it, more, please! And if at all possible, don't make us wait until 2020 for the next one! You can relatively easily avoid detection, though the "last known position" isn't marked as it is in, say, Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell: Blacklist. If you're "in view of authorities", they won't initiate, only respond, with force. Same if you don't spend too long in a "restricted area". On the other hand, "combat zone" means, like it or not, they're gunning for you. You can die from very little, or a lot, making the difficulty somewhat uneven.

Story segments rely far too heavily on escort missions. Honestly, if they just went BioShock Infinite with it, and made them unkillable a la Elizabeth, a lot of the setups would be a lot more enjoyable. They have some cool ideas in there. The ending completely fizzles out, a bland FPS boss fight where you spend the majority simply standing in cover, waiting for your chance to hit the vulnerable spots, and an ending video that doesn't satisfy. For attempting a B-movie, almost parody kind of tone, they really don't manage to make it the (intentionally) dumb of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, that so thrilled us. Voice acting is perfectly adequate. It's the writing that's the issue. Still, where it counts, this tends to bring the house down. Literally. Like, just parachute above it and drop C4, raining death from above. How about some homing grenades? Drop in a tank, etc.

I recommend this to any returning fans as well as those who think it's something they could get into – you can go into this blind, no problem. 8/10
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Fits like a glove
23 August 2017
This is the only featurette on my library's copy of the movie. 10 and a half minutes long, it consists of interviews, comic panels, design work and behind the scenes footage.

They go into all the considerations made when working on the different versions of the suit. The original one that, well, looks great on the page in the golden age of comics, and in a live-action picture isn't very impressive-looking – so they use it for the USO show, both acknowledging that, and giving us at least some screen-time for it. And a lot of effort went into making sure the one used for the rest of the time works for all purposes. It looks practical. Evans could jump around in it, perhaps a lesson learned from the black leather of the first X-Men film, or, rather, the very first time everyone wore it on set. And the equally iconic shield of course had a lot of ones sculpted. Shiny for close-ups. Rubber for hitting people with. CGI for when it couldn't be done without that. Making sure it has the exact right motion and sound effect. Everyone has something to add and explain themselves well.

I recommend this for anyone who wants to know more about the subject. 8/10
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Dunkirk (2017)
22 July 2017
The Dunkirk evacuation can be seen as three distinct elements working to accomplish this overall goal. The mole, where thousands of soldiers were for a week trying to survive and escape their hopeless situation. The sea, where civilians spent a day sailing their boats to transport the troops. And the air, where spitfire planes could last for an hour before refueling. All have stories worth telling. And as three separate episodes of a mini-series, it could work. Instead, they're mercilessly inter-cut, with this confusing time-line preventing the otherwise willing and game audience from becoming properly engaged with what we're seeing. It works as a series of tiny moments of humanity. Not as a whole.

The entirety of this is using the snowball effect previously used well by Nolan in his third acts. This could become exhausting. However, there's time to breathe. Small victories that are celebrated(with whatever tea is available at the time. Not even kidding). There are no leads, merely characters that have more screen-time than others. No development, no one to get into? I disagree. They're all relate-able, trying to make it past the day. Or even just the second. This is tense, and you're never truly safe. It moves briskly, without rushing. This *is* indeed very loud, and those with genuinely sensitive ears may have to wait for the home release, despite that they'll lose out.

I recommend this to any fan of Nolan. 7/10
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Halfway is a good start
16 July 2017
This is found on my library's copy of Insomnia. It's an 17 minute interview with Christopher Nolan and Al Pacino. As it announces itself, it is: An unscripted conversation on a Saturday afternoon. Sipping tea, which is an... interesting sight, for both, perhaps especially the latter, who is calm as a breeze, in person and out of character. A lot of what is discussed isn't specific to this movie, rather, both talk craft, based on their experiences with other professionals in the business.

They go into trusting the work they are doing. Theatre versus cinema. Francis Ford Coppola, and his reaction to not getting an extra setup on a funeral scene(as you may know, there are a few of those in the Godfather trilogy). Rehearsal, talking through, story-boarding and the comparisons between those approaches. The relationships between cast and crew. Using your time right. Sidney Lumet would ask a lot, and it would pay off: Serpico is used as an example, and I would have to agree that you can see the effort put into it. Using an old-fashioned lens and distance between actor and camera. Projecting, not screaming, on stage. Trusting the face to express what they're thinking, on the silver screen. Tony Montana being Cuban. How Walter is played and what effect that has. What it adds to watch it more than once. The odd couple dynamic.

I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about the picture. 7/10
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