Movies

What the Hell is Going On?

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SPOILERS AHEAD (OBVIOUSLY...)


 

The culture has passed me by:

Avengers: Infinity War” can check off yet another record: The second-highest second weekend of all time.

Disney and Marvel’s latest collaboration earned $112.5 million from 4,474 locations in its second frame. The 56% decline was just enough to top the record previously held by fellow Marvel title “Black Panther,” which made $111.6 million in its second weekend. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” holds the prize for biggest second weekend, with a mighty $149 million in 2015. Only five films have ever hit the $100 million-mark in their second weekends.

In just North America, the superhero mashup has made $450.8 million. Among “Infinity War’s” numerous accomplishments is being the fastest film to gross $1 billion, in just 11 days. And the film has yet to open in China.

I enjoy living in the future. I don't advocate a return to the bad old days. I have a smart phone and I love it when people put out new music. But I couldn't be further out of the cultural zeitgeist if I was walking around dressed like it was the 1890s and talking through the severed end of a flugelhorn. 

What do I have here at the end of watching all 18 of these terrible, terrible Marvel movies? Nothing. I have no idea what has happened. I mean, I don't want to pull the sleeve right off your best jacket, but what the hell was all that about? Some people and some magic stones have fought each other and now the universe is in balance? There is no balance in nature. It's just wild and free and shit goes one way, then another. Is Jesus supposed to show up now? I think that was a joke in Infinity War, which I saw a day ago and can't remember anything about.

Why aren't the Jesus freaks angrier about this movie? It's supposed to be the end-all, be-all of everything and all it needed was for Southpark's version of Jesus to show up, put his hand on the shoulder of Thanos, and say, "who hurt you, my son?" That would have ended the whole movie. No need for any more Avengers because Jesus can shoot a lightning bolt through your eyes if you try to make special weapons or steal magic stones.

I'll tell you how the movie will end next year. Something, joke, something, everybody's trapped in the soul stone! fight, joke, joke, fight, and then another fight and then the little girl makes the bad guy put everything back the way it was and someone hides those magic stones and we get to do it all over again in the reboot.

The whole movie runs through the relationship between the young version of Gamora and the big bad evil daddy figure. Conquering figure adopts helpless child, wah wah, okay, what did we learn? Did we learn more about emotional manipulation and allow a figure who has killed untold trillions of children in the universe to have a soft spot for a little kiddy? Genocide never had a better premise in a film. Let's just breeze past the horror--he's got a heart of gold hidden in there, but he's been hurt and Jesus never came around to save him.

Culturally, this is all just junk. It's light, it's fluffy, people eat it up, and then it dissipates. It amuses and distracts, but it doesn't really do anything beyond that. The only thing it really accomplishes is that, for far too many underpaid Americans, a massive amount of discretionary spending has been ripped out of the middle of the economy, causing people to put off buying tangible things while edging out all of the other crap they don't need. Video game makers have tried to cash in by making Avengers games, but it's just not the same. They need a new franchise, obviously, and it's something about killing. 

Is there any point to any of the Marvel crap? It's just another version of Star Wars for people who still spend a lot of money on other stuff. Someone somewhere is busy thinking up another version of all of this, but edgier, man. Everything has to be the same but just a little darker and meaner and cooler. Dude.

Think of the art that didn't get made because all of this talent, money and energy was tied up making 18 Marvel films. There are actors and actresses here who have real talents. I'm not out of line for suggesting that there are far too few female characters and way too many men who are playing characters that are younger than they are in real life. Mark Ruffalo can actually make real movies for adults. Is this a wise use of his time? And do we need slightly less stupid Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation to be the guy who screws up everything? Talk about playing to a cliche. I'll bet when Paul Bettany was doing Richard III, all he could think about was putting a jewel on his forehead and floating about in a robot body while living in Scotland with his girlfriend. Really? You don't think they would have preferred Brighton? Come on. No one lives in Scotland on purpose.

You could have told it all in 3 films that cost a lot less, but no one thinks small like that anymore. It has to be massive! On a scale never before seen! Why sell them three pictures when we can pad this out and make billions off of six different trilogies! Cram it into every nook and cranny! Put it on every product known to man. Well, that's what they did, and that's what they've plopped down in front of everyone. But there are more movies on the way! Here they come! 

Do you know what still has more relevance in the culture? The Beatles, high as kites and out of it, singing Love is All You Need to a world that didn't believe it for a minute. Oh well, this is what you get when you grow old.

Justice League is a Huge Disappointment

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Justice League is a film that I actually saw in a theater. My advice is to wait for it on Blu-Ray so that you only end up wasting a little cash. It is not essential, but it is a good way to waste two hours, so there's that.

Without spoiling the movie, I'll tell you what's wrong with it:

  • Too much Affleck.
  • Not enough Godot.
  • All the Cavill you're ever going to need.
  • No where near enough Momoa.

I liked the Cyborg character, but they didn't develop the relationship he had with his father into something that I could recognize as a story. They did a better job with the Flash, but do you know who had a better Flash? The Quicksilver character played by Evan Peters was far more interesting. 

After watching this, I honestly can't tell you what happened. And, before you think I'm some sort of Marvel movie fan, I'm really not. I'm not a fan of this genre at all. I remember that I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Volume Two but I can't remember anything that happened because it was such a blur of things happening. So much has to happen! in these films. Slow it down and tell a story.

That Batman Movie Was a Piece of Shit

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I think I remember this film. Man, was it a piece of steaming shit:

Two-Face and Riddler looked like they had a blast together during Batman Forever, but off-camera, Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey's relationship was anything but amiable. Carrey hasn't been shy in the past about talking about how Jones hated working with him, but now the comedy star has gone into more detail on the encounter where Jones' unpleasantness was on full display. One day during Batman Forever's production, Carrey found out that Jones was eating at the same restaurant as him. He went to greet his co-star, which caused the blood in Jones' face to drain. Carrey continued:

And he got up shaking --- he must have been in mid-'kill me' fantasy or something like that. And he went to hug me and he said, 'I hate you. I really don't like you.' And I said, 'What's the problem?' and pulled up a chair, which probably wasn't smart. And he said, 'I cannot sanction your buffoonery.'

Tommy Lee Jones bluntly summarizing his hatred for Jim Carrey in such an archaic fashion is weird enough, but what's even stranger is that Jones expressed disapproval of Carrey's antics before they were going to shoot the biggest scene they had together in Batman Forever. After Carrey recalled this encounter during his recent appearance on Norm MacDonald Live, the show's eponymous host posited that Jones might have jealous that Carrey was the center of attention on set. After all, Batman Forever was in principal photography months after Carrey became a comedy movie star thanks to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask.

No idea why anyone cares, but there you go.

Settled

Well, this is a relief:

Warner Bros. and the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien announced Monday that they amicably resolved an $80 million lawsuit over the alleged digital exploitation of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The Tolkien estate and book publisher HarperCollins filed the lawsuit against Warner Bros. in 2012 alleging that the company had breached contract by marketing online games, slot machines, and other gambling-related merchandise based on Tolkien's books. The estate claimed the 1969 rights agreement entitled the studio to create only “tangible” merchandise associated with the books.

I was worried that the Tolkien estate was going broke. Hopefully, they ended up with somewhere close to half of the $80 million they were suing for. If you're like me, and I know I am, then you prefer your Tolkien on the printed page and not on the silver screen or some Blu-Ray player.  I mean, the movies were good, and they really exceeded expectations, but aren't you wondering when they'll just reboot the whole thing and cash in again?

Sir Roger Moore 1927-2017

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Sir Roger Moore was the James Bond that I grew up with; his take on the character was oft-derided but it was perfect for the times.

To say that Bond should have been cunning, ruthless, and humorless in the 1970s was to ignore the overwhelming importance of male bravado and self-awareness of the times. This was the decade that made stars out of complex characters (DeNiro, Pacino, Hoffman) and less than complex fellows (Eastwood, Reynolds, Bronson). You could not have made Bond like any similar character from American cinema, nor could he have had the detached, monosyllabic approach of international films. Bond had to be a global star, able to bridge all of the different genres of film. He had to be able to do dry humor, heart-stopping action, clever romance, and political intrigue. He had to be able to save people, kill people, and mock people, often in the course of a single action sequence. 

That meant finding a British actor with serious theater chops, which is what people still do when they need someone who can truly inhabit a character. Michael Fassbender is the Roger Moore of our time, but, really, he's just another version of Moore churned out by the wonderful schools that teach acting in Britain. You can definitely see Fassbender becoming one of the greats and surpassing quite a few great actors, but he's following the template that Moore helped create.

In his day, no one was better than Roger Moore at being everyman and superman at the same time. He had to portray a character that was marketed and sold to the vast world audience of the time. He had to be the actor who could open a film in London, Rome, Los Angeles and Tokyo and few people have ever been able to do that. The universality of his portrayal does not dim with age. You can laugh at how camp it was, but the whole goddamned 1970s was a campy affair on purpose. At no point were you ever not able to believe he could do what he did. That was what made him great.

The Bond that Roger Moore gave us was sharp, sly, quick and capable. He was very much of his time, and we do his performance a disservice by thinking he had to act like the action figures of the last thirty years or so.

Tombstone

Anybody who writes an entire article about Kurt Russell's movie career and forgets to mention Tombstone probably did so entirely by accident.

Kurt Russell is such a good actor, it is possible to write about the films he has made and the quality of his work and forget what is probably his greatest role. Tombstone gets a mulligan for the mangled history but five stars for being completely and utterly entertaining. 

Oh, my bad. I meant to say Tequila Sunrise. 

Tequila Sunrise was Russell's greatest role. Who plays the guy who doesn't get the girl by choice? That was his best performance and then, the classic Tombstone. How you could write about this guy and not mention any of those movies is beyond my comprehension.

Yeah, I'll go see him in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Hell, the whole movie should just be about him.

Carrie Fisher Was a Hell of a Writer

Carrie Fisher was never given enough acclaim for her talents and abilities while she was alive:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has revealed that Carrie Fisher helped write the script for the forthcoming movie.

The late actress penned in the past both the book and the screenplay adaptation for Postcards From The Edge, along with episodes of Roseanne, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, a number of TV specials and special material for the Academy Awards in 1997, 2002 and 2007, along with the 2010 TV documentary Wishful Drinking, during her career.

Johnson recently revealed at a Star Wars fan convention in Orlando that she also had a hand in writing the script for the latest movie.

“I’d go to her house and we’d sit on her bed for hours, going through the script,” he revealed.

“(We) would just have these kind of stream-of-consciousness, Jazz poetry, ad-lib sessions, and I would just scribble down everything she said on my script. And then at the end of six hours, there would be this four word line of dialogue that would be the distillation of all that, that was brilliant.”

She understood the human condition and had a hilarious point of view. She was a great, great writer and a performer who could hold her own with everyone on a stage, including her own mother. The fact that Harrison Ford, who routinely blew people off the screen (and will be considered the greatest actor to never win an Academy Award unless they get him one, soon), never so much as put a dent in her on screen is hardly recognized, either.

Richard Gere Has Paid a Price For His Support of Tibet

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China's influence in the film industry means that actor Richard Here has to appear in independently financed films that are not being marketed to the Chinese:

When Richard Gere walked the red carpet at the Academy Awards in 1993, there was no way he could have known that the night would have repercussions for his career more than 20 years later. Invited to present the award for best art direction, he skipped the scripted patter to protest China's occupation of Tibet and its "horrendous, horrendous human rights situation." The late Gil Cates, the show's producer, was furious, calling the political speeches at that year's awards show —Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins also went off script to speak on behalf of Haitian refugees — "distasteful and dishonest" and vowing to ban all three from future Oscars broadcasts.

Gere hasn't done a major studio film in ten years. This is primarily because, whenever he ends up near a project that can be influenced by businesses trying to work out deals in China, pressure is exerted to have him removed.

Lego Batman is Not Pro-Gay Adoption Propaganda

Just when you thought that liberals were going to be able to get one over on conservatives and sneak some pro-gay adoption propaganda into the burgeoning animated kids movie market, it all falls apart because conservatives are too smart:

The new Lego Batman Movie has come under fire from Catholic evangelists who have slammed the film as “pro-gay propaganda”.

John Henry Westen, Canadian Editor-in-chief of the socially conservative website  LifeSiteNews.com, posted a review of the film titled “BEWARE: LEGO Batman movie promotes gay adoption”. He criticised the creators for being “so anxious to subtly indoctrinate the little ones into the gender ideology that making it humorous came as a distant second thought.”

I thought conservative Catholics were out trying to locate and remove all of the priests who diddle little kids. Apparently, they have some time on their hands. Or they're dumbasses. I vote for having no brains, no talent, and no understanding of the culture.

Everyone knows propaganda works when the film is fall-down funny. Maybe that's the angle all of us in on this conspiracy should have taken. Instead of making a sober, depressing movie about what happens when a gay Batman adopts a gay Robin so they can have that gay lifestyle thing happening, they should have written a lot of great jokes, used a lot of expensive animation, and gotten some funny actors to read all of the dialogue. 

Oh, wait a minute. Rotten Tomatoes says they did that. My mistake.

Hollywood Doesn't Care About American Audiences

This question is easy to answer:

Will Hollywood Learn From Hidden Figures’s Success?

Nope!

Hidden Figures has been the breakout film of 2017 thus far. Starring three African American women (played by Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, and Octavia Spencer), it focuses on an unheralded piece of American history: the work of black female mathematicians and engineers at NASA in the 1960s. Released to strong reviewsHidden Figures seems destined for a few Academy Award nominations next week. Since it expanded nationwide, it has spent two weeks at the top of the box office, ahead of big-budget films like Monster TrucksPatriots DayLive By Night, and Oscar frontrunner La La Land. Made for a comparatively small $25 million, the film is essentially guaranteed to gross at least $100 million in the United States alone, posting a very healthy profit for its studio, 20th Century Fox. The viewing public’s desire for a film like Hidden Figures is indisputable. So why does Hollywood make so few of them?
In 2015, only 32 of the top 100 films at the box office featured a female lead or co-lead; only three of those leads were women of color, and almost half of them did not feature a black female character in any capacity. After having an all-white slate of acting nominees for two years in a row (spurring the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite), the Academy is trying to diversify its voting body with the hope of rewarding a broader selection of films. But Hollywood at large is showing few traces of change. Last year’s most successful films, largely superhero sequels and animated blockbusters, lack for variety in their storytelling. The slow nature of film production means it can take years to really reflect a shift in studio thinking, but Hidden Figures still feels (disappointingly) like an anomaly rather than a sign of a real transformation.

Hollywood is happy to turn out a handful of small, independent pictures like this but, really, the whole thing is built around larger movies with special effects that will appeal to global audiences. The economics are such that, if they were to shift everything, lay off thousands of special effects people, and try to make movies like this, it would bankrupt the industry faster than it's going bankrupt now.

In short, they want to make movies Chinese teenage boys will want to see, own, and watch repeatedly. They don't want to empower a generation of African-American actors and then start having to pay them what they're worth. The only way they can survive is to keep making superhero films that don't suck. They don't care about filmmaking or art anymore--it's not 1970. The biggest directors are not visionaries--they're successful project managers who can work for months on end and produce content. 

Who's the new Robert Altman and why isn't he making movies?

Octavia Spencer alone is one of the greatest actors of her generation. She's not just an actress. She's not just a black actress. She's a fucking actor. They don't treat her like Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender, or Tom Hanks because they think she's not a movie star. Put her in a movie with five or six other people who can act, make her the lead, and she'll blow the fucking doors off of people. Do you think there's a Hollywood producer out there ready to sell that to a studio? Who's going to give her $10 million to start in a film and have her as the top billed actor?

Nobody. And that's a crying goddamned shame. She's amazing. And she's undervalued and under appreciated.

Wonder Woman

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Something tells me that DC made a massive mistake by not making the stand-alone Wonder Woman movie before that horrible mess of a Batman against Superman movie:

She’s finally here. After years of false starts, a live-action Wonder Woman movie is coming next summer. Warner Bros. just revealed the first trailer at San Diego Comic-Con to the uproarious excitement of the Hall H crowd, and it. is. perfect.

I would add that movie trailers are really nothing to get excited about, but still. Patty Jenkins has created something that is probably going to blow the genre away. This film has a visual style that will make people wonder why Zack Snyder still gets work. It takes enormous courage for a film to use World War I as a setting, especially since we're more conditioned to other periods in history.

You Cannot Call it Alien 5

Sigourney Weaver made a weird cameo in the film Finding Dory and she confirms that one of her next projects will essentially ignore the third and fourth sequels to Alien:

The 30th anniversary celebrations of James Cameron’s Aliens are getting underway, and as part of that, Sigourney Weaver has been speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the film. And, somewhat inevitably, the conversation shifted to Neill Blomkamp’s delayed Alien 5 movie, which is set to be a direct follow-on from Aliens. 

Blomkamp’s project has had to get in line as Ridley Scott makes Alien: Covenant and perhaps further Alien prequels (at least two more are planned, but it’s unclear if they have to be made before Alien 5 can get going), and per the original plan, it would have been shooting by now. Instead, it's in a little bit of limbo right now.

Blomkamp’s film is still an active project, though, and Weaver has revealed a few more details about the film. “It’s just as if, you know, the path forks and one direction goes off to three and four and another direction goes off to Neill’s movie,” she said, seemingly confirming that the idea is to overlook the third and fourth Alien films.

If you're going to ignore the 3rd and 4th movies, why the hell are you calling it Alien 5? I am hoping that's the working title. Shouldn't you just called it Aliens 2.5 or Alien Three: Huge Mistakes Have Been Rectified in This Series? Or am I being simplistic?

I do recall the Alien3 movie as being unnecessarily dark and dreary. It was innovative in that it used a camera angle seen from the aliens point-of-view as it scurried through corridors, but, beyond that, it was a huge, unimaginative let down. I have no working memory of a fourth Alien movie, as I'm sure many people do as well. It sort of reminds me of the Julianne Moore version of Jurassic Park that no one saw.

How Much Did They Spend on Marketing?

This is the kind of film that ends up on HBO or Starz, and they end up airing it 52,000,000 times:

Misconduct, a star-studded legal thriller starring Oscar-winners Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins, made less than £100 in its opening weekend at the UK box office.

The $11m-budget film was showing on just five screens, but its total take was only £97, making its per-site average £19.40. It received negative reviews on release, with the Observer’s Wendy Ide giving it one star and writing that it “could be shown in film schools as a textbook example of how not to make a movie”.

The cinemas were all regional Reel cinemas, in locations including Kidderminster and Burnley, and the opening coincided with a digital release, making the film simultaneously available to stream at home.

With an adult ticket at a Reel cinema costing £6.20, it means that less than four people caught the film at each site.

I think that there's a desire to make fun of the fact that Hopkins, Pacino, and Duhamel "aren't movie stars" anymore after a story like this comes out. Hell yeah, they are. Everyone in this film is good. Is this film itself any good? Well, that's more about story and presentation than it is the actors in it.

The problem is, if you don't market the film correctly, no one goes to see it. Is this something you'd release at the start of the summer movie season? Is this something you'd put out against animated films and comedies and blockbusters? Well, if you're looking for a niche, maybe, but this is a Christmas movie that should have been marketed in a better way.

Or, it's just a boring film. So what? 

Run It By Patti Davis First

Here's a little something else about that movie about Ronald Reagan that is not going to get made:

 McKay found himself in the middle of a truly bizarre nontroversy recently when the Gary Sanchez-produced Reagan, a film project rumored to star Will Ferrell as the late Republican commander-in-chief as he struggles with the effects of Alzheimer’s during his second term, came under heavy fire from conservatives—including members of Reagan’s own family—for allegedly mocking the oft-heralded politician. 

The problem? Nobody really knew if the film was going to mock Reagan for his illness. Outlets simply saw Ferrell as a rumored candidate for the role and their imaginations ran amok. 

“I’ve never been that close to a story like that where so little information became such a tidal wave. It was really crazy to behold,” says McKay. “People hadn’t even read the script, it was just three words: ‘Reagan, Ferrell, Alzheimer’s,’ and it became this huge thing. Finally, The Hollywood Reporter wrote a piece where they actually read the script and thought it was a really thoughtful script and tender towards Reagan, but yeah, it’s this culture we live in. It’s all about clicks, clicks, clicks, and hits, hits, hits.” 

“I kept saying when that story snowballed, ‘Is there anyone who really thinks Will Ferrell would make a comedy about a horrible disease like Alzheimer’s?’ In a million years no one would do that!” he continues. “You’d have people on the left and right coming after you. I think it’s more about the deification of Ronald Reagan, where you can’t go near the subject of Ronald Reagan. Remember all the brouhaha over that Reagan miniseries? That miniseries was so soft, but nobody wants to hear anything near the reality of Reagan’s eight years as president.” 

Now, no one should try to advise Adam McKay or Will Ferrell about which movies they should make when, clearly, this should have been a Russell Brand and Sacha Baron Cohen buddy flick all along. Whoever owns the rights to this story  should have submitted the idea and the script to Patti Davis first. That way, she could have taken some points on the back end and given you the green light. 

Patti Davis made a very astute and public relations-savvy condemnation appear to be wholly sympathetic when she denounced the project, which, as others have pointed out, is sympathetic and sensitive to the topic of Alzheimer's while telling a very compelling story. The fact that it involved Reagan and a period of time when he was carrying a gun around in a briefcase and had access to the nation's nuclear codes is something no one polite should ever bring up, okay?

From now on, anyone who references the fact that Reagan spent several years as president while suffering from Alzheimer's needs to go see Patti beforehand. Historians, you have been warned.

There is No Political Message in the New Captain American Movie

I have seen the new Captain American movie (this is the one about the Civil War) and it was a fun movie. I have no idea what this guy is talking about:

Convinced that the American superpower has reaped more bad than good, and thus must be checked by both the government and the U.N., Iron Man—no matter his love of weaponized suits of armor—comes to embody the more self-critical, dove-ish, nanny state-advocating Left. Meanwhile, Cap’s opposition to imperious federal oversight, and his belief that he knows best and should be allowed to act accordingly in whatever international jurisdiction he sees fit, marks him as a figure of the Right—replete with a sidekick, Falcon (Anthony Mackie), who performs both surveillance and tactical strikes with his own personal aerial drone.

The fact that these characters once held opposite positions—Iron Man the armament-loving bad boy free agent (decked out in Republican red), Captain America the dutiful by-the-books soldier (outfitted in Democratic blue)—lends the film some dark irony about the way global conflicts warp deep-rooted convictions. But make no mistake about it: Civil War is the moment at which the Marvel Cinematic Universe most clearly embraces its conservative ethos.

While Iron Man’s attitude seems practical, it’s also ultimately demarcated as wrong. The outside-the-law Captain America is this film’s unqualified hero from the start, when he’s presented as the righteous alternative to Iron Man’s collaborative cowardice. And it’s solidified by its conclusion, when his conspiracy theory hunches are proven correct—thereby proving he’s more trustworthy than Iron Man, Thunderbolt Ross, the U.N., or any other administrative body. Furthermore, Bucky, the friend he’s driven to protect, is a case study in what happens to superbeings when they’re controlled by governments: they’re transformed into murderous, amoral assassin-slaves.

Hey, that's great, but it's a comic book movie. It's not a political movie at all and I can say that because it didn't have Thor in it and he didn't call for parliamentary elections. Nothing about this article even resembles the film, as far as I'm concerned. In fact, there's an actual scarlet witch in the film and she's not really a witch and she does not do any damage whatsoever to witches throughout the world. I thought Elizabeth Olsen was the best thing in this movie, and I think the new Spiderman and Black Panther movies are going to be amazing.

Where I believe the idea of this being a political film goes off the rails is when it fails to take into consideration that we're looking at an alternate reality. None of the situations in our political reality match what's real in this film. For example, in our world, none of these characters, none of the things they have done, and none of the things that have happened exist in our world. Why you would then try to compare the two and say because Bucky so and so says this to that guy it means he has no respect for the new Speaker of the House is just way, way off, man. 

In the analysis above, you could flip Iron Man and Captain America. In point of fact, Iron Man is telling everyone they have to "register" with the government and accept supervision. That's a liberal idea--you have to register yourself as a weapon, meaning your guns, you have to submit to the authority of the government, and you have to accept greater regulation of your activities. The conservative idea would be to resist government supervision, regulation and the invasion of privacy. The conservative would try to come down  on the side of being independent and able to determine what you do and, while that skews libertarian in some ways, it does speak to the emergence of a political divide on many, many issues. So, yeah. The whole article is just way, way off and it just doesn't make any sense.

Daniel Bruhl, who was probably the second best thing in the whole movie, presents a villain who is going to blow your mind at the end of the film. What motivates him runs to the heart of the movie--what do you do when your actions have consequences for people you don't even know?

And if you haven't seen ALL of the Marvel movies up till now, you should not expect to get all of the things going on in this film. If you haven't seen Ant Man, don't see this film until you do. I had no idea what was going on and I felt like a dumbass.

Hello, World!

Captain America: Back For More Cash

Can someone explain to me why people who don't live in America got to see Captain America before Americans did? Is that jingoistic bullshit?

The superhero tentpole — embraced by critics — is likewise expected to pull in massive numbers when opening in the U.S. on May 6, the start of the summer box office.

Doing Avengers-like business, Disney and Marvel Studios' Captain America: Civil War opened to a massive $200.2 million at the foreign box office, one of the biggest starts of all time and nearly matching the launch of last year's Avengers: Age of Ultron.

In some individual markets, Civil War came in ahead of Ultron, as it scored the biggest debut of all time for any film in Mexico ($20.6 million), Brazil ($12.3 million) and the Philippines ($7.5 million). All told, Civil War rolled out in about 63 percent of the foreign marketplace this weekend.

This is the third Captain America movie, but it's really the third Avengers movie. Or is this a prequel for the third and fourth Avengers movies? I can't even tell anymore.

Why they didn't make all of these movies about Loki is beyond my limited grasp.

J.J. Abrams Ruins Everything

One of the unintended consequences of rebooting Star Trek is the fact that it is basically Star Wars at a time when there are new Star Wars movies being released:

 

[...] there's also the issue of Star Trek's position inside the genre since its 2009 reboot in J.J. Abrams' first entry in the series.

In his attempts to bring more personal stakes and character-based stories to the franchise, he arguably moved it closer to Star Wars and diluted the more nuanced, difficult to describe appeal of the series as a whole. In other words, recent Star Trek has seemed more like Star Wars, and who needs that when the real thing is back and already on everyone's minds?

The obvious solution — and one which may already be chosen by Beyond, judging by recent comments by co-writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin — is to return the franchise to its roots as a vehicle for stories that are as intellectual as they are visceral, and embrace everything that makes Star Trek different from Star Wars. To go not towards the final frontier, but back to the series' roots, so to speak.

At its core, Star Trek is a procedural, not a character piece (despite having such great characters as Kirk, Spock, McCoy — and, in later incarnations, Picard, Data, Worf et al; the one exception to that rule is spinoff series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which broke many of the rules of the franchise). It's a series of stories intended to make commentary and ask questions about the world around us today through metaphor and allegory, and the majority of the most fondly remembered episodes of the various TV series do exactly that.

Despite the Abrams movies pivoting away from that core appeal — arguably building on something that has been part of the Trek movies since 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — it's the ability of Star Trek to look outwards that won the hearts of fans originally, and remains the franchise's unique selling point.

At its best, Star Trek does what literary sci-fi does so easily, but so much of TV and movie sci-fi stumbles with: It changes the way that its audience interacts with the world.

Whereas Star Wars is a series that speaks to the heart — it is, after all, inherently a story about relationships and families, both inherited and constructed — Star Trek is arguably at its best when it speaks to the brain, asking questions and introducing ideas that challenge the status quo. Viewed in that light, not only can the two co-exist, alternating between the two seems like a well-balanced diet of sorts.

The short answer is, J.J. Abrams ruined Star Wars after he ruined Star Trek. Everything he gets his hands on becomes a fan's nightmare and a studio executive's wet dream.

Other filmmakers are now going to have undo the damage done by retelling old story lines and abandoning the heart of each franchise. Star Trek is a cerebral examination of the archetypes in human nature; Star Wars is an adventure saga designed to make everyone forget they live in a world where there is no magic. Abrams turned them into large Hollywood movies that make kids go whee! and not much else.

How Did That Work Out For You?

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If you've just made a widely panned sequel to three of the best adventure films ever made, why would you keep the one thing that people didn't like about it (aside from Shia Labeouf)?

Indiana Jones: Upcoming Film a Continuation of 2008's 'Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,' Producer Says

"This will be an original idea, but we have the character, and it's not prequel but continuing since the last one," Frank Marshall said Monday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. Harrison Ford is set to star.

I think that the first thing they should have said was, "we're throwing everything out! This is a prequel that has nothing to do with weird magnetic spinning aliens! We're sorry! Please forgive us for the horrible, horrible shit we did."

Or, hey--maybe get new producers and come up with something good? Why wouldn't that be the logical move after a badly-reviewed misstep?

And, Good God--is Shia coming back or not? That's what everyone really wants to know.

The Pleasant Surprise of Zootopia

It may be late, but my review of Zootopia is positive on all fronts because of how much I enjoyed the film. I saw Zootopia over the weekend as an afterthought--we were bored, there wasn't anything else worth seeing, and so we figured, why not?

Spoilers ahead, so pause here and come back after you've seen it. And if you want to wait for the Blu-Ray or the on-demand version, go ahead. You won't be disappointed.

Zootopia is a Disney animated feature that picks up where almost no other Disney films leave off--with a hint of darkness and a tinge of the hopeless. It's not a bouncy, thoughtless romp through nonsensical product placement gags and Baby Boomer satire gags (although putting Tommy Chong in the film is as counter-culture as you can get without completely blowing minds and trampling through the fields of nostalgia). It's not fall down funny but it's amusing enough to see again.

And that's what I really liked about the film--it lived in its own world and didn't try too hard. It didn't go for the fart and gross-out jokes. No one sucked on a urinal cake. No one's ass explodes in a brown cloud of doom. There is a sick burn that weaves through the story line--it's called a hustle--and it works on a number of levels. It may be one of the first animated comedies that truly steps away from Baby Boomer humor and leaves the Simpsons era behind. That may explain why I liked it so much.

Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman have great chemistry as the leads in this. She plays an idealist and he plays an anti-hero and their collective backstory informs the plot without overwhelming anything. This did not play like an attempt for an actor to play something in a movie that their kids can see--the casting works out in the long run because of the banter they have and the conclusion to the film, which has a moment that is noticeably scarier--and more honest--than the usual Disney fare. 

Where does it fit in? Well, this was a smart film with some hard edges. I would put Zootopia just below The Princess and the Frog and Tangled, but that's very good company. I would say it's as good as Brave without the hard to parse accents. And Brave was a very, very good film that has been overlooked. These four animated films represent the best of the films that are not quite as good as Frozen, and if you haven't seen any of them, they're a pleasant discovery for anyone who enjoys animated films. This film was much, much better than Kung Fu Panda 3 and I preferred it to Inside Out (which I did not care for, but that means I'm merely an idiot, of course).

Really, this wasn't junk. We've seen a slew of junk animated films over the last few years and a handful of really strange and densely plotted things that should never have been made. This was a near murder mystery with more emphasis on the mystery aspect. There's even a twist at the end that works. How often can you say that?

Sean Young Really is Crazy

I love Sean Young, but she's just a little nutty:

You’re also anti-vaccination, huh?

Yeah, I am.

There does seem to be evidence that as a result of that stance, whooping cough and measles are making a comeback.

Well, I wonder who’s spreading it. The thing is, you have a very big pharmacological industry, and they want those bucks to keep flowing. It’s definitely not impossible to imagine that there are agents that spread this kind of thing. Remember when the English came over with blankets that were laced with tuberculosis and they gave all those blankets to the Indians? You think that doesn’t happen today?

Thus your belief in chemtrails.

Yeah! Man, we’re getting it from all kinds of areas. I know people will call me a conspiracy nut or whatever, but the evidence is out there.

I wouldn't put it past her to be trolling the interviewer and to be looking to drum up interest in her latest project by grabbing some viral headlines. I wouldn't blame her, but, ouch. I guess you have to separate the art from the person. Excene Cervenka came out with a lot of nonsense that was similar to this. Love and adoration for both of them, but back away slowly when they start in with the kray-zee.