Monthly Archives: April 2019

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Movie Review – The Mummy Returns

Category : Movie Review

Director: Stephen Sommers

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah

Year: 2001

The Mummy Returns is as spectacularly bad as The Mummy is wonderfully good, the two balancing each other out like weights on a scale, but someone must have forgotten that we usually like our movies high-quality, as a general rule, we don’t require a mix 0f great and terrible.  And The Mummy Returns is sure terrible, a complete about face from what worked in the original, the sequel becoming a perfect example of exactly what not to do.  The stars return, the nods are there, they knew we wanted more, but instead of more fun we get more fluff, and the film completely jumps the shark.  It’s a difficult task, executing a sequel, and this cast & crew was simply not up to the challenge.

Once again, this time on purpose, the evil Imhotep has been awoken from his slumber to conquer the world and the O’Connell’s have to stop him before it’s too late.  A reincarnation of his ancient love has found a way to bring him back to life, but not just to be at his side, but also so that he can face the Scorpion King, commander of the armies of Anubis.  Whosoever defeats the King can command the armies, and so take over the world, making the King’s secret pyramid a site all greedy men search for.  To make matters worse for the O’Connell’s, Imhotep kidnaps their son, who knows the lost city’s location, so off they go on another adventure to rescue Alex, stop the bad guy, and save mankind; all in a day’s work.

It’s so bad it’s almost funny, but then not really, it just falls back to being plain bad.  Everything that worked in the first is amped up a bit in the second, and the result is a disaster of poor taste, poor decisions, and worse acting.  Oh the acting; Weisz can do no wrong in my book, but someone made her fight and do cartwheels, which can’t really be done with any self respect.  The plot is stupid, the action awful, the acting abysmal, the characters muddled, the Rock pops in, pops out, everyone sucks, and the whole thing goes to hell in a hand basket.  They would go on to make multiple more of these movies, and that’s just silly; the second one ruined the whole franchise anyway, and showed the world how not to make movies.  They really should teach classes with this film as a base, “Don’t Do This 101”; I think that might be the only positive to come from this utter waste of time.

My rating: ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – The Mummy

Category : Movie Review

Director: Stephen Sommers

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah

Year: 1999

Although I would also see her in Stealing Beauty, Chain Reaction, Going All the Way, and Bent, my love for Rachel Weisz would blossom with The Mummy and then solidify with Enemy at the Gates; I did, do, and will always consider her to be one of the best, smartest, most-talented, and most-beautiful actresses working.  I was 15 when The Mummy came out, 17 for Enemy at the Gates, and I think I quite literally fell in love, or at least as much as someone can with someone on-screen, but you know what I mean.  Through the years, she’s only grown as a professional, grown more lovely as well, and has to be in the Top Five talents in the industry.  It’s great to look back, re-watch, and notice her amazing skill, even in a silly movie like this one; she just stands out.  And in the film’s defense, The Mummy is silly in all the right ways, adventurous and comical and fun to perfection, holding up just fine 20 years later because it got so much right the first time around.

Legend tells of an undead priest who lies under the sands of Egypt, waiting to be awakened so that he can be reunited with his lost love and, with her at his side, conquer the known world.  His burial site has become the stuff of myth, X-marks-the-spot treasure folklore, but two men have actually been there: Beni, a craven opportunist, and Rick O’Connell, a soldier of fortune.  They lead two diverse groups of adventurers into the dessert in search of Hamunaptra, the City of the Dead, where Imhotep the priest waits, wanting only the riches, not knowing what else is in store for them.  O’Connell falls for the woman who has hired him to guide her; the lovely Evie, who has Egypt in her blood and knows more lore than all the ancient scholars put together.  Hopefully it’s enough to get them out of the jam they’re about to get themselves in, because awoken, evil, immortal mummies don’t share their treasure, and also don’t usually let those who disturbed them escape with their lives.

The Mummy might be one of the best action/adventure epics of all time, and I don’t say that lightly.  It’s a wonderful mix of camp and cool, with fun for kids and story for adults, romance and gunfights and comedy and escapes all rolled into two hours that burst at the seams with entertainment.  This movie was a big deal when it came out, Brendan Frasier was a big star, and although we joke about his goofiness now, he didn’t seem that goofy then, and I think he was the perfect O’Connell; approachable and sweet, but somehow also a badass.  And of course Rachel Weisz was a goddess, still is, and she was made for this part.  The CGI was good at the time, the action was as well, and this film should always be remembered in context, but honestly I don’t think it needs any free passes, I think it still holds up.  It’s fun, it’s frantic, it has the ability to quiet down at times, it has the power to pick up and get the heart pounding when it wants to, and I don’t know many fantasy flicks like this that make as few mistakes.  I can’t wait to share this with my kids; they’re gonna flip out, and I’ll be right there with them.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Alien Warfare

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jeremiah Jones

Starring: David Meadows, Clayton Snyder, Daniel Washington

Year: 2019

I’ve seen my fair share of terrible b-movies, and I have to say, I’ve seen a lot worse than Alien Warfare.  I know one of the original writers, although his script was basically overhauled in the rewrites, but it’s still cool that he has a film to his credit now, and it’s available on Netflix, so it should get some views, regardless of its general straight-to-video quality.  But, again, I’ve seen worse, especially in this genre; special ops soldiers encountering aliens, fighting for their lives, in over their heads, rescuing damsels, you know the drill.  Alien Warfare at least knows that it’s over-the-top, and that’s the first element to a great bad movie, one that understands its scope and ceiling, and knows that it’s no good.

A team of Navy Seals has been assigned to a dangerous mission; infiltrate a top secret base, find out why the top secret scientists who worked there disappeared, recover the top secret experiment they were working on, and get the hell out of there.  Chris the LT, Mike the hothead, Jonesy the Medic, Thorpe the tech guy; this crew has worked some shit assignments before, but this one might take the cake.  Especially after they reach the site, find one woman alive, and realize that what they’re up against is alien.  That’s right, alien technology, when these Seals have been training against the worst humanity has to offer for years; now all that’s out the window.  The rules of engagement have changed, and they might not survive this freaky firefight.

I’m not kidding; I’ve seen SO much worse.  At the very least, these actors could mostly act, and I felt like a few of the people involved in this film might actually have had some awareness as to the kind of silly, explode-y, alien-y footage they were capturing, that it wasn’t wonderful, but that it was also kinda fun.  The team worked well together, the plot was enjoyable, the run time was short, and while we usually get a ton of boobs and blood with this kind of feature, it really would have been unnecessary, so I’m glad they held back.  There’s a difference between letting loose and jumping the shark, and this film walked that thin line rather well, only wavering a little, always pulling back just in time.  Don’t watch thinking that you’re about to see Annihilation, because duh, but for a low-budget sci-fli flick, Alien Warfare didn’t embarrass itself.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Field of Dreams

Category : Movie Review

Director: Phil Alden Robinson

Starring: Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones

Year: 1989

One of the greatest American movies of all time and an ode to one of our longest standing traditions, Field of Dreams is a classic film about a classic sport, but also a story about so much more.  Unlike Rudy or Hoosiers, which are equally wonderful, Field of Dreams focuses less on the passion of playing the sport and more on the mystical quality of the sport itself.  It brings to life the legends of the past and puts faces on the people who love the game enough to hold on to it forever.  It also breaks the heart with a message about the fleeting qualities of life, and how those we care for are gone too soon, before we can summon the courage to tell them how we really feel.  For all those reasons, this film is a pillar in the temple to cinema, and loses nothing rewatched many years and many times later, always summoning its magic from the inexhaustible pool of nostalgia, tradition, and family.

Ray Kinsella loves his wife, his daughter, baseball, and has just bought a farm; though the road to this point was winding, that about sums things up.  He’s in over his head as a farmer, but his wife loves living in Iowa, and they are a happy family: Ray, Annie, and little Karin.  One evening out in the corn, Ray hears a voice, and it tells him, “if you build it, he will come.”  Ray doesn’t know what this means, he fears that he’s going crazy, but he knows that the voice wants him to build a baseball diamond, right smack dab in the middle of his corn.  So the family dips into their savings, builds a ballpark, and waits, while the bills pile up.  But someone does come, and it’s someone Ray grew up hearing about from his father, who also loved baseball.  The man who appears from the corn to play ball on the field with his friends is “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, bringing with him the infamous Black Sox team of 1919.  Watching them play on his field is a dream come true for Ray, but his mission isn’t over, and the voice doesn’t stop.  What comes next is a journey of the spirit down a path that’s hard to walk, facing regrets that threaten to overwhelm you, but made a little easier by those who hold your hand along the way.

I well up during multiple scenes every time I watch this movie; it has that kind of power, the ability to hit you where you didn’t know you weren’t protected.  For me, it’s always been the message about father and son, but this time around it was also the fear of failing your family, of keeping your children safe, and growing up to be the kind of man you pictured you could be.  That was a surprise, those punches thrown from different directions, but I don’t blame the film for landing a few good ones; in fact, I welcome it.  Sometimes we need to let a little out before we burst, and Field of Dreams is just what the doctor ordered.  It’s deep, it’s beautiful, it’s touching, it’s heartbreaking, and above all it’s honest, even while it tells a fantastic story.  Magical realism, that’s the genre of the novel the film was based on, and it’s one of my favorites, an absolutely wonderful way to make a point about the human condition.  At the same time, this movie is about a amazing sport, one that we can trace back 150 years, something that’s an ingrained part of our country in a way that can’t be described.  This film tries though, and you can feel that truth within every marvelous moment.  Kevin Costner may not be the best actor, but he’s perfect here, never better, and his supporting cast helps him out the whole way through.  I can’t wait to watch this with my kids, to share this experience with them, because it’s made a marked difference in my life, and I will never forget either its hopeful message or its stunning voice.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Sports – 2019 NFL Draft

Category : Sports

Football is almost here!  It’s just a matter of time before the season begins.  The first step was Free Agency, and now the Draft!  This Thursday @ 8:00 pm the 1st Round of the Draft will be on in prime time and I’ll be glued to the television.  This is a very interesting draft class and it’s hard to predict who each team will pick, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun trying.  So, based on the opinions of experts and my own uneducated musings (and including a couple draft spot trades) here it is, Olie’s 2019 Mock Draft:

 

1. Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Murray, QB Oklahoma

2. San Francisco 49ers – Nick Bosa, DE OSU

3. New York Jets – Quinnen Williams, DT Alabama

4. Oakland Raiders – Ed Oliver, DT Houston

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Devin White, LB LSU

6. New York Giants – Josh Allen, LB Kentucky

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jawaan Taylor, T Florida

8. Detroit Lions – Montez Sweat, DE Mississippi St.

9. Buffalo Bills – Andre Dillard, OT WSU

10. Denver Broncos – Devin Bush, LB Michigan

11. Cincinnati Bengals – Dwayne Haskins, QB OSU

12. Green Bay Packers – TJ Hockenson, TE Iowa

13. Miami Dolphins – Rashan Gary, DE Michigan

14. Atlanta Falcons – Jonah Williams, OG Alabama

15. Washington Redskins – DK Metcalf, WR Ole Miss

16. Carolina Panthers – Cody Ford, OG Oklahoma

17. New York Giants – Drew Lock, QB Missouri

18. Minnesota Vikings – Noah Fant, TE Iowa

19. Tennessee Titans – Marquise Brown, WR Oklahoma

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Byron Murphy, CB Washington

21. Seattle Seahawks – Brian Burns, DE FSU

22. Baltimore Ravens – Parris Campbell, WR OSU

23. Houston Texans – DeAndre Baker, CB Georgia

24. Oakland Raiders – Josh Jacobs, RB Alabama

25. Philadelphia Eagles – Greedy Williams, CB LSU

26. Indianapolis Colts – Dexter Lawrence, DT Clemson

27. Oakland Raiders – Irv Smith, TE Alabama

28. Los Angeles Chargers – Daniel Jones, QB Duke

29. Kansas City Chiefs – Garrett Bradbury, C N.C. State

30. Green Bay Packers – AJ Brown, WR Ole Miss

31. Los Angeles Rams – Jeffery Simmons, DT Mississippi St,

32. New England Patriots – Christian Wilkins, DT Clemson


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DVD Review – The Invisibles

Category : DVD Review

Director: Claus Räfle

Starring: Max Mauff, Alice Dwyer, Aaron Altaras, Ruby O. Fee

Year: 2017

We’ve rarely, if ever, seen the Holocaust from this unique perspective or portrayed in this seldom-used style; The Invisibles shares with us a story that’s not exactly unknown, but nonetheless important, and presented in a way that will get our attention anew.  Hollywood often brings us tales of WWII, of battles against the Nazis, of concentration camps, of holding onto humanity during a time of madness.  But we seldom see the war from inside Germany, and especially not from the Jews who lived there when their very existence was illegal.  This is their story, four young Berliners who refused to leave their homes to be shipped to the death camps, daring to hide in plain sight instead, surviving hell against unbelievable odds.

The Movie

German Jews were rounded up in stages, and these steps toward annihilation came so often and so orderly that it was simpler to believe that no harm was coming in the end, rather than dread each new day and each new subjugation.  Even at the end, when the last Jews in Berlin were being moved out of the city into the country toward work camps, hope remained that perhaps the rumors weren’t true, perhaps the end of the war was near, perhaps families could survive if they just stuck together, kept their heads down, and worked hard.  But deep down there was an unavoidable knowledge that boarding the trains peacefully was still a death sentence, and while parents truly knew that their lives were over, they also believed that their children must live on, no matter how painful the separation and no matter high the suffering in hiding.

Because that was the plan for thousands of Jews, especially the young; to hide in Berlin, often in plain sight, until the war was over, despite the danger and the almost certain future of being found.  This was a risk worth attempting, understanding the fate that awaited them if they allowed themselves to be marked, catalogued, and sent away.  So they hid, or assumed false identities, or forged papers, and lived as they could for the final years of the war.  Cioma moved from home to home, pretending to be a bombing victim.  Hanni dyed her hair blonde, and went by a different name.  Eugen wore a soldier’s uniform so he could walk the streets of Berlin.  And Ruth became a maid for a family who didn’t want to know her background.  They did what they had to, lived how they had to, anything to survive another day, with the hope of seeing their families once again a driving force that kept them alive and fighting.

So many things impressed me about this film, so many little details came together to create such a moving story, one I won’t quickly forget.  We’ve seen these tales so often, they are so compelling, and we never grow tired, shouldn’t grow tired, because we never want to allow this history to repeat, this scar upon the face of humanity that we will all have to live with for the remainder of our life as a species.  The Holocaust was an unparalleled evil, and movies like these help us to remember our responsibility to each other were anything like this to ever happen again.  The Invisibles is another reminder of the past, this time from a new perspective, and for that it deserves all the credit in the world, not for simply choosing this subject matter, but for delivering it in a way that will make the largest impact possible.

What’s unique about the film is two-fold: it’s a story told from the perspective of young Jews hiding within Berlin for the duration of the war, and it’s also told through a docudrama style, mixing acting with interviews in seamless loops until audiences are both immersed in the era and touched by the personal connections we make with the victims.  These four young people that are the focus of the tale lived, told their stories, and are on camera with emotions bared, ready to tell us all they know, so that then we can know too, we can understand.  Meanwhile there’s a dramatic element, and that only enlivens the vision, fleshes out the action, and brings it all vividly to life.  I loved the style of the film, it was the perfect vehicle, and I could have listened to these first-hand accounts all day.  What amazed me most was the amount of resistance these young people took part in, all while trying to lay as low as possible; they rebelled against evil rather than hide quietly, when it would have been much easier to protect their own lives, even turn informant, rather than struggle from within against the Nazi machine.  Audiences will be blown away by the true events depicted here, and by the way the entire crew was able to share it with us in way we may not be emotionally prepared to accept, but are so willing to hear, if only so that we can tell our own children and hopefully see that this evil never returns to the world again.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (16×9), the video quality of the DVD was exceptional, with an eye toward costume and time period that instantly takes audiences into the story.  The film feels very personal; there aren’t sweeping cinematic shots, and much of the movie is done in interview, but the picture holds its own while the narrative is being presented, especially when it comes to accuracy and the depiction of the times.

Audio – The DVD was done in German, with an option between 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo.  Subtitles are available in English.  The music of the film is quiet nice, the dialogue is balanced, and the audio pulls its weight, while also not being a large focal point.

Extras – The only special feature is a trailer for the movie.

Final Thoughts

Highly RecommendedThe Invisibles is our opportunity to witness triumph in the face of tragedy.  The events these young people endured, and lived to tell us about, are inexplicably awful, but their survival gives us all a chance to understand the Holocaust all the more deeply, to be inside the Nazi capitol even after it was declared to be free of all Jews.  It never was, evil didn’t win, and now we have first-hand accounts of what happened internally, how survivors kept fighting and rebelling and living, despite a nation’s attempts to silence them.  This story is important and it touched me, and I hope it can speak to you as well, because it’s worth listening to.  The video and audio support the plot and make it a good film as well as an impacting drama, while at the same time there aren’t many special features, so the technical side is mostly strong, while also not being what we need to remember this movie for.  History should never die, not even terrible history, it is the key to our understanding, and filmmakers are part of the team attempting to keep it alive; let’s support those willing to dive deep into our past, even into the darkest parts, so that we can hopefully see the light.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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Movie Review – Missing Link

Category : Movie Review

Director: Chris Butler

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, Zoe Saldana

Year: 2019

My reaction to the Missing Link trailer in January was doubtful, and I quote: “It’s hard to imagine this movie reaching the same level as other Laika films (Coraline, ParaNorman, Boxtrolls, Kubo); it just doesn’t have that same feel.  I’m sure the animation will be spectacular, what they do is so wonderful, I just don’t see any real reason to watch other than the production company’s fame.  I hope I’m wrong.”  Update: I wasn’t wrong.  Missing Link doesn’t bring the magic that Laika’s others have almost guaranteed from the first still image, failing to live up to the hype built up by audiences’ expectations when they imagine what stop-motion marvels might be next.  Good not great, it’s a project that leaves us wanting more, wanting something else, hoping that the next batter up will be a stronger hitter.

Sir Lionel Frost is the greatest adventurer that the world has never heard of, all his discoveries undocumented or unbelieved.  Wanting desperately to be accepted as part of the club of famous hunters and explorers, Frost doesn’t go for the easy bait, he sets his sights a little higher: dodos, mermaids, the Loch Ness monster.  But no one believes he can find something that has never been seen before, not even when he receives a letter inviting him to the American Northwest to view proof of the legendary Sasquatch.  In fact, he meets the Bigfoot, a kind and confused primitive man/giant animal who Frost calls Mr. Link.  The creature is gentle and can speak English, wanting only to find others of his kind with the help of a talented adventurer, starting a journey in which the pair will become friends, learn lessons, and experience wonders never before beheld by the eyes of man or beast.

Audiences will most assuredly be underwhelmed by Missing Link, a pleasant movie without any punches to throw other than the feat of its animation.  And that part can’t be ignored; it’s indescribably impressive how this team can create this films using stop-motion, how something so amazingly difficult can look this spectacular.  The motion isn’t played safe either, there are intense action sequences throughout, when your mind won’t be able to believe what your eyes are seeing.  The art from beginning to end is excellent, so beautiful, it must have taken so many so long to create something so lovely and complex; no matter what my opinion of the plot and delivery, there is no way I can watch a marvel like this and not clap.  However, and unfortunately, that’s not all there is to a theatre experience.

Coraline is dark, ParaNorman is cool, Boxtrolls is funny, Kubo is epic, but Missing Link simply doesn’t have anything to grab on to when it loses its footing, and it slips early and often.  The story is thin, the characters thinner, and the dialogue is surprisingly weak, with jokes that fall flat and a lack of music that’s both evident and confusing.  Much of the movie is fairly boring, and I didn’t need more action, when there was action present it was very nice, but I did need more …something: heart, depth, oomph, something.  Even my kids, who love everything from Laika to Disney, Ghibli to DreamWorks, left unaffected for the most part, underwhelmed by a seeming lack of effort to produce anything worth watching other than the animation.  I think I would have rather watched a documentary on how the the film was made, rather than the film itself, and that’s not good.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Superman IV

Category : Movie Review

Director: Sidney J. Furie

Starring: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman

Year: 1987

I remember watching the Superman movies on VHS and on TV when I was a kid; it used to be that renting a video at your local store and checking the TV Guide to see when a film would be on television were both big deals, and, at a young age, those movies you chose to watch stuck with you for a lifetime.  The Superman quadrilogy, most of which came out before I was born, was still a part of my film experience and my taste building, especially the first two, which I remember more clearly.  But the whole series is historic, in its own way, and recently I decided to do a rewatch from the top.  Superman, Superman II, Superman III, Superman IV; I expected some ups & downs and that’s exactly what I got, but the music and the memories were worth the visit, and this franchise will always be legend.

In the fourth, Superman is asked to become political, as the world enters a nuclear arms race and faces possibly annihilation.  He doesn’t want to take sides, but he also understands that he has to help in some way, that humanity isn’t ready to go it alone quite yet.  So Superman gathers up all the nuclear weapons and hurls them into the Sun, making Earth less likely to be destroyed; end of story.  But not quite, because tricky Lex Luthor is back again, and this time he’s hidden something in one of the bombs that has now been obliterated that will cause Superman some headaches.  Out of the ashes comes a new indestructible being, Nuclear Man, with the power of a star, and loyal to the evil Luthor.  He and Superman will duel, while Clark falls in love with another lovely lady and tries to figure out once more how to balance a social life with being the champion of an entire planet.

Sidney Furie might only have ever directed terrible movies, like 50 of them, it’s insane, but at least this much can be said for him; he saved Superman.  After Superman III, I’m not sure the world could have taken another direct hit, another film that was as much an insult to taste.  But he swooped in, returned the series to a style it had once sported, and left us all with a good taste in our mouths.  Hackman back as Lex, Kidder back as Lois, the theme music blaring, the same emotions stirred, a way shorter run time to speed things toward the climax; Furie knew what he was doing and did it well.  Now, that’s not saying Superman IV didn’t have its issues.  It’s over-the-top, fairly dumb, and showcases some world-class, F-grade acting; Mariel Hemingway and John Cryer are especially bad.  But, in the end, the film gets by on its own camp, going so bonkers that it starts to be pretty fun, even while we know it’s no good.  So ends the Superman quadrilogy, and the next time I return to it my kids will be a little older and ready to share in the experience with me.  It won’t have changed though, and that’s the magical thing about watching movies, they will be there for you forever, whenever you might need them.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Superman III

Category : Movie Review

Director: Richard Lester

Starring: Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor, Annette O’Toole

Year: 1983

I remember watching the Superman movies on VHS and on TV when I was a kid; it used to be that renting a video at your local store and checking the TV Guide to see when a film would be on television were both big deals, and, at a young age, those movies you chose to watch stuck with you for a lifetime.  The Superman quadrilogy, most of which came out before I was born, was still a part of my film experience and my taste building, especially the first two, which I remember more clearly.  But the whole series is historic, in its own way, and recently I decided to do a rewatch from the top.  Superman, Superman II, Superman III, Superman IV; I expected some ups & downs and that’s exactly what I got, but the music and the memories were worth the visit, and this franchise will always be legend.

In the third, Superman has made Lois forget about his true identity and their romance, knowing that the world still needs a super hero on the job 24/7, with no attachments of the personal kind.  But that doesn’t stop Clark, when Lois goes on an extended trip to scoop a story, from accidentally falling in love again while he’s on location developing his own article about small town life.  He attends his high school reunion and reunites with Lana Lang, his old crush, who begins to crush back just as hard.  But the world’s troubles won’t wait for a romantic picnic, Superman is needed, and more than ever.  Super computer genius Gus Gorman has teamed up with the wealthy and evil Ross Webster, who first wants computers to take control of the coffee crop, then the oil industry, and then the whole world.  To stop Superman from interfering, Gus gives Supes synthetic kryptonite, that doesn’t zap his power, but splits him into two distinct versions of himself, Jekyll vs Hyde, good vs evil, with the fate of Earth balanced between who wins the duel.

The third installment is by far the worst in the franchise, and comes close to one of the worst, dumbest, weakest, and most embarrassing movies I have ever seen.  It’s saved by the series, which I already enjoy, so I can’t exactly hate anything that falls under the umbrella, but boy does Superman III ever try its best to get us to despise it.  I’m not really sure where to start; the direction falling off, Superman’s evil twin who has a 5 o’clock shadow to show us that he’s a bad boy, the removal of the Lois love story, the absence of Lex Luthor, Richard Pryor not funny in any way, which is a complete shock.  Everyone’s acting takes a nosedive, like they all agreed to suck, and joke after joke fails to work, like the writer was purposefully trying to make the film tank.  I did like Annette O’Toole as Lana, and I did like that Margot Kidder was absent, but the computer stuff is plain ridiculous, especially looking back on the era 36 years later, and having two Supermen is a shark jump unlike any other.  I wish this movie didn’t exist, because it sullies the good name of the series.

My rating: ☆

 

 


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DVD Review – A Summer in La Goulette

Category : DVD Review

Director: Ferid Boughedir

Starring: Sonia Mankai, Ava Cohen-Jonathan, Sarah Pariente

Year: 1996

An obscure foreign film set in Tunisia and delivered in three languages, A Summer in La Goulette is a 20-year-old, under-the-radar gem that no one has seen but everyone can relate to.  More than anything, it is a story of looking back and growing up, of nostalgia for a time and a place that was more fleeting than you knew when you were living in the moment, more fragile than any memory has the right to be.  Although very specific in its location and time, the tale could relate to any one of us, to those who remember hormonal days spent under the sun, when the entire world seemed to be opening up right in front of you, if you could just find the courage to reach out and grasp it.

The Movie

In 1967, the beach of La Goulette, in Tunis, Tunisia, was the place the world came together to share the sun and to share its culture.  Jews, Arabs, Christians, African, French, Italian; it didn’t matter where you were from, what religion you followed, what food you ate, what politics your home country was embroiled in, or if you had lived on La Goulette all your life, summer was the season for tourists and locals, people from all over, to come together and enjoy.  This is the snapshot story of three very different families who all share a love for one way of life, and who can see past the unique traits they all possess to the common core that lies within.

Each family has an elder daughter who is now a woman, with boys and dreams and futures on the mind, but also with a view that today is a day that needs living, even if it might lead to trouble.  Younger sons frolic about the city, and a group of young men follow the daughters around, hoping for a glimpse or a word or a dance, or perhaps something more.  Fathers worry about their families and their reputations, while mothers worry about what will come of their headstrong girls who aren’t little any longer.  Round and round they all go over the course of a summer, coming of age and growing too old and watching the world spin past them, all at once and all together.

A Summer in La Goulette is a simple, pleasant experience with a lot to say about maturity, sexuality, responsibility, and life.  It’s a nostalgic look back at summers on the beach, trysts with life-long friends, how your path can change so quickly, and how some things always stay the same.  Even though it’s specific to a time and place, we can all relate to an exciting vacation where we had a memorable kiss, or an event that showed us that we were growing up, or a youthful experience that we knew we would never forget.  And from the parents’ perspective, we all understand the fear of watching something leave our control, of worrying about what tomorrow will bring, and never knowing quite where you stand.  It’s a story that both transports us to a specific spot but also makes a home inside our own memories, living there like it was never anywhere else.

The film is sexually charged and evocative, which isn’t uncommon of a coming-of-age tale, with men watching women, women experimenting with men, and a general theme of lust in the air, like humidity, weighing down on bodies with an unrelenting heat.  So there’s that aspect, and by today’s standards we might judge that the girls in the story/women in the movie are being exploited, but there is much more here than simply sex, there’s more being said past the physical parts of the plot.  Cultures may generally clash, but we see an example in Tunisia of how a nation might work made up of pieces of other nations, how it might be difficult at times, but ultimately rewarding.  Multiple languages are spoken throughout, seamlessly woven together to create one tapestry, and that’s a major point audiences are meant to pick up on.  The beach, the warmth, the naps, the cafes, the parties, the disagreements; it’s a lovely snapshot of a time gone but always well-remembered.

The Blu-ray

Video – With an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (1920x1080p), the video quality of the  Blu-ray is very nice, considering when the film was released and how it was transferred.  It feels much older that it actually is, which is a credit to the whole team, who created this nostalgic world and made every shot look classic.

Audio – The Blu-ray is done in Arabic, French, and Italian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 or 2.0.  Subtitles are available in English.  The languages come together, in and out, very nicely, changing with the households we visit, always feeling natural and respected.  The music of the film is also solid, with a nice title song about La Goulette that will stick in your head.

Extras – The only special feature is a trailer for Zizou and the Arab Spring.

Final Thoughts

Recommended. This film was made in 1996, is set in 1967, and is relevant in 2019, a timeless gem that I’m glad I stumbled across.  It feels like a time capsule was opened and our own memories came flooding out, mixed with dreams of places we’d never been and experiences we never had, but, despite that, never seeming unfamiliar.  The acting isn’t going to blow you away, every line isn’t written to perfection, it’s more a feeling captured on camera than it is a masterpiece of the cinema, but there’s no reason not to enjoy it for what it has, rather than expose it for what it lacks.  The video is fine for the time, the audio is strong, the only special feature is a single trailer, so the technical aspects won’t wow, but you’ll never expect them to.  A Summer in La Goulette is easy to watch and evokes interesting responses; while it isn’t perfect, those qualities are enough to hold it up.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay