Monthly Archives: July 2019

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Movie Review – Back to the Future Part III

Category : Movie Review

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

Year: 1990

The best thing about Back to the Future Part III is that it’s a compilation of Part I & Part II, tying up all the loose ends and laying to rest a lot of the teases we saw in the first two films and didn’t even recognize as such at the time.  It takes Part III to really appreciate the scope of the series and the ability to create a complicated (if sometimes illogical) story line that’s both enjoyable and creative.  In that way, the final episode is a step up from the sequel, especially because the sequel is so silly, but not quite a match for the original, which is basically perfect.  What Spielberg & Zemeckis were able to do with this trilogy is pretty amazing, especially given the time period, and the talent that was on display doesn’t come along very often, so appreciate this franchise for what it gave us and how much we can still revel in it all these years later.

First Marty accidentally when into the past and endangered his own existence.  Then he went forward into the future which caused Biff to go back in the past and endanger the world.  Now his escapades have put Doc Brown’s life in jeopardy and he’ll have to go back all the way to 1885 to save the mas scientist from getting himself killed Wild West style.  Marty knows that Doc is back a hundred years, but he’ll need the help of 1955 Doc in order to get there and save his friend.  It won’t be easy, since the time machine wasn’t built for that era, and getting back will be tricky, but they’ve been in hairy spots before.  But this time outlaws are involved, including Biff’s ancestor Mad Dog, who has the same mean streak, and Marty will need help from his own bloodline if he wants to survive the round trip.

Part I is spectacular, Part II is goody but fun, and Part III is a nice way to end it all, giving us all the nods we wanted, all the bows on top, all the final moments to remember for a lifetime.  The third is surprisingly strong watching it back; I was afraid it would suffer the fate of the sequel, which takes a mother to love.  But no, the third is almost as good as the first, with thrills and jokes and signature scenes to remember long after the tape stops rolling.  ZZ Top even makes a cameo, which I think is hilarious, and the cast is once again on point consistently throughout.  Fox is so great, Lloyd is perfect, I like Mary Steenburgen as Clara, and it all the action works pretty seamlessly.  The era is awesome; the trains, the guns, the clothes, the bad guys, Strickland’s great-great-whatever; magic.  And that’s the word the sums up this series really, magic, unbridled and one-of-a-kind, the type that doesn’t come around often enough.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



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Movie Review – Back to the Future Part II

Category : Movie Review

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

Year: 1989

If Back to the Future Part I can be called an icon, Back to the Future Part II should be seen as its goofy cousin who comes around and raids the fridge but we love him anyway.  The original is basically perfect, hilarious and cool and fun, but the sequel is more fan service, giving us repetitive details because we loved them so much the first time.  Every score category takes a direct hit, but most audience members don’t mind, if only because we can always use some more Doc & Marty.  That said, this strange vision of the future and silly re-do of the past wouldn’t stand up to intense, standalone scrutiny, so don’t watch it that way.  Instead, sit back and enjoy the wild ride, because Part II has a ton of entertainment to offer, if you don’t look too closely at its flaws.

Immediately upon getting back to the future from his near misses in the past, Marty is whisked away by Doc into the further future, to 2015, in order to save his own McFly kids from ruin.  Things don’t turn out perfectly for Marty & Jennifer in the future apparently, and their children make some mistakes too.  So forward in time they go to make things right, but, as always, just being there out of place has its consequences.  Marty starts a disastrous chain reaction that ripples backward to 1955 where he was before, changing everything he made right his first trip back.  Now he & Doc will have to go back to the past and then back to the future again, without running into their other selves and tearing apart the fabric of reality.

That’s heavy, as Marty would say, or Great Scott, if you’re Doc.  That’s quite a plot, back and forth and back again, but that’s part of the fun, that’s what makes Part II enjoyable, while also being what muddles the mind.  Honestly, Doc should know that you can’t go forward to change something and then go back to “your time” because that would reset events, right?  But hey, no big deal, the perfection of quantum travel isn’t at stake here, we just wanna have a good time (and maybe the whole point was for Marty to learn something, because it comes full circle after Part III, if I remember correctly).  And that’s possible, even though the movie is silly, there’s no real reason why we can’t have a bit of fun.  Marty is still cool, there’s a different Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue), I like the repeating events from a different perspective, and the future vision is hilarious, now that we can say that 2015 isn’t anything like how these filmmakers imagined it.  I’m watching this trilogy all in the row, which I think is how it should be watched, which also helped in the enjoyment department, because I don’t know how well No. 2 would stand up completely independently.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



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Movie Review – Back to the Future Part I

Category : Movie Review

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

Year: 1985

The combination of Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, and Michael J. Fox proved to be one of the most important & enjoyable moments in cinematic history, as Back to the Future became an instant legend, losing nothing of its phenomenal magic more than 30 years later.  It’s as perfect today as it was in the 80s, a pillar of smart entertainment and iconic dialogue that shines as an example for all other filmmakers to follow.  I can’t count how many times I watched this film in my younger days, but the trilogy has been on my shelf for a while now, and it was far past time to dust it off and try it again.  Luckily nothing has changed; the original is still one of the greatest movies ever produced, a grand adventure unlike any other.

Marty McFly is fairly happy with his life, even if he doesn’t live in the nicest neighborhood and his parents are the happiest people.  He’s got a pretty girlfriend who he plans to marry someday, he’s got some cool threads, his best friend is a wacky inventor who lets Marty mess around with his equipment and take care of his dog; things aren’t half bad.  But Doc Brown is about to get McFly into some trouble, thanks to some plutonium, the Libyans who want it back, and a brand new invention that actually works; a time machine.  When Doc runs afoul of the criminals he scammed to make his dream come true, Marty winds up 30 years in the past inside a time-jumping DeLorean.  Problem is, he can’t get back to the future, and his presence in the past is messing up his very existence, a paradox that he’d rather not stay to solve.

The lines, the music, the clothes, the roles, the car; I’m not sure there’s a film that more deserves the term ‘iconic’.  This movie is made up of moments we can picture in an instant, filled with scenes that defined our growing up, layered piece by piece with moving memorabilia that we can take with us wherever we go.  That’s the sign of a masterpiece, a gift to audiences that becomes far more than simple fun, becoming part of our collective experience and a bit of Americana that will never grow stale.  Michael J. Fox was in his element and in his prime; I can’t imagine anyone else in the role of Marty.  And Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown is hilarious, while also allowing Marty to show heart, their friendship shining through all the struggle.  Huey Lewis with the songs, Lea Thompson & Crispin Glover with the driving action, Thomas F. Wilson as the most detestable villain we’ve ever seen; everything comes together to make Back to the Future a perfect example of perfect movie-making.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



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Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jon Watts

Starring: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya

Year: 2019

I only semi-liked Spider-Man: Homecoming, and a lot of that had to do with the villain, not the addition of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker to the MCU.  I loved his character when it popped up in the other Avengers films, I simply didn’t think he was as strong on his own, and, again, most of my problem wasn’t with him, it was with Michael Keaton, who actively sucked.  The great thing about Far from Home, and I give a lot of the credit to director Jon Watts here, is that it aged enough and grew in the right direction, showing that the entire team understood some of the problems with the first and was committed to getting it all right the second time around.  The content was more adult, the bad guys were more sophisticated, and Holland rose to the occasion, proving Tony Stark’s legacy is in good hands, and that the Marvel Universe still has some life.

In the post-Infinity War world, humans attempt to get back to normal after half of them blipped out for five years.  It isn’t easy, but they’re managing, and knowing that superheroes are out there to save them in times of need sure helps.  Some of the veterans have either died or are retired, so that leaves a new class of heroes to step up into the breach, including your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.  But the young kid behind the mask just wants to spend the summer with his class on a European vacation, not helping Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. stop bad guys; it’s not easy being a superteen.  Peter would love to simply enjoy his trip and tell MJ how he feels, but, instead, he’s gonna save the world from inter-dimensional elemental demons who want to destroy the planet; all in a day’s work for our little web-slinger, whether he’s reaching for some R&R or not.

It’s right to be worried for the fate of the MCU, since some phases are over and we’re moving on; will the franchise be able to survive past 25 films and keep audiences as interested as we have been, especially lately?  Captain Marvel was pretty bad, I’m getting a little tired of Samuel L. running the show, and nothing gold can stay, so there’s bound to be some drop off; just don’t expect it quite yet.  Far from Home assures us that everything will be OK, because it showcases some real talent and, more importantly, the ability to evolve.  They fixed a few flaws, kept the content weighted, gave fans enough of what we came to see, and left us wanting more, which is exactly what show business is supposed to hold as an ultimate goal; keep audiences coming back.  Well, if this is any indication of where the future is heading, I’ll be back without any hesitation.

Holland is a great Parker, they got that one right, we’ve seen it every time he stepped before the camera; it was there on display in Civil War and it has never waned.  I do think Homecoming has issues, but I also think that they were addressed; not enough adults besides Happy, a stupid villain in Vulture, and a humor level that was simply beneath us.  Well, worry no more, because Peter has grown up, he’s among solidly comical adults as well as well-acted kids, and the bad guy this time around is phenomenal.  The film started a little slowly and I began to get worried, but once Jake Gyllenhaal stepped onto the scene I knew we’d be OK; he’s that damn good.  Mysterio is awesome, as is his character progression, and Jake steals the show, also allowing Tom to rise to his level, which thankfully he was more than capable of doing.  I still didn’t like Fury, or the Captain Marvel connections, but I accept them, and enjoyed the movie despite their participation; I understand that there are things about the franchise that I’m just going to have to swallow, like social biases over honest critique.  But I’m not going there, I’m staying here; Far from Home was a ton of fun, a well-constructed comic-book adventure, and a solid whatever-number-we’re-on-th addition.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



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Movie Trailer – Pinocchio (2019)

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Matteo Garrone

Starring: Roberto Benigni, Federico Ielapi, Marine Vacth

Release: December 25th, 2019

This is neither a Disney live-action re-do or the upcoming Guillermo Del Toro dark take on the tale, but rather an Italian version of the classic story starring Roberto Benigni, and that sounds great to me.  It looks weird, inventive, fun, and I’m in.

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Movie Trailer – Mulan (2020)

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Niki Caro

Starring: Yifei Liu

Release: March 27th, 2020

I’ve said it a hundred times; I want Disney to stop making these ridiculous re-dos, just stop already, make something original or simply shut up.  BUT, if they have to do it I would hope that the new film would be more Cinderella and less Aladdin; don’t copy the originals, let the new casts shine and stop playing down to us like we’re dumb.  Fortunately, I think Mulan looks fantastic, exactly what I would wish for if Disney refuses to stop copying themselves, exactly what audiences should be asking for from this new wave of remakes.

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Sports – Super Bowl 54 Odds

Category : Sports

The 2019 NFL season has already begun in earnest, at least to super fans, with the opening of Free Agency and the completion of the NFL Draft.  Now it’s on to Rookie camps, Mini-Camps, OTAs, all the prep work for a long & grueling season.  In late July, we’ll have the start of Training Camps, in August the Preseason, and in September the Regular Season begins.  The end of the year, culminating in the 54th Super Bowl, might seem a long way off, but February will come quickly, and in Las Vegas at least, odds-makers are preparing to call the game.  Here are the current Super Bowl favorites according to Bovada:

1. New England Patriots


2. Kansas City Chiefs

3. New Orleans Saints

4. Los Angeles Rams

5. Chicago Bears

6. Cleveland Browns

7. Indianapolis Colts

8. Los Angeles Chargers

9. Philadelphia Eagles

10. Green Bay Packers

11. Pittsburgh Steelers

12. Dallas Cowboys

13. Minnesota Vikings

14. San Francisco 49ers

15. Seattle Seahawks

16. Atlanta Falcons

17. Baltimore Ravens

18. Houston Texans

19. Jacksonville Jaguars

20. Carolina Panthers

21. Denver Broncos

22. Oakland Raiders

23. Tennessee Titans

24. Detroit Lions

25. New York Giants

26. New York Jets

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

28. Arizona Cardinals

29. Buffalo Bills

30. Washington Redskins

31. Cincinnati Bengals

32. Miami Dolphins

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Movie Trailer – Knives Out

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Rian Johnson

Starring: Everyone

Release: November 27th, 2019

I trust Rian Johnson a bit, I like this Agatha Christie style, and the cast seems legit: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lakeith Stanfield, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, Jaeden Martell, Katherine Langford, Frank Oz for some reason.  I’m in.

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Movie Trailer – Jumanji: The Next Level

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jake Kasdan

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan

Release: December 13th, 2019

Welcome to the Jungle was surprisingly good, and its sequel looks to be just as fun.  I’m picking up what these guys are throwing down.

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Movie Review – Fargo

Category : Movie Review

Director: The Coen Brothers

Starring: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi

Year: 1996

At the top of the mountain that is the filmography of the Coen Bros. genius is Fargo; dark, twisted, funny, and absolutely true.  Or, well, absolutely fictional, depending on who you believe and what you’ve read; my money is on fabrication.  But that’s OK, just by alluding to fact, by tricking us into thinking that what we’re watching is real, these amazing writers/directors have only solidified their film as one of the most immersive, impressive, and influential movies of the last 50 years.  Fargo is a masterpiece of black comedy and crime thrills, a perfect balance of idiocy and smarts that sucks audiences in and spits us out changed.  I’ve never done a Coen hierarchy, but I’m sure this jewel would be near or at the top, because it simply can’t be beat by others in the genre, and never gets old no matter how many times you experience it.

In Fargo, North Dakota in the late 80s, a series of murders rocks the peaceful, snowy area and sets the stage for a wild showdown between two bumbling criminals and one intrepid police officer.  It all starts with a fake kidnapping; Jerry Lundegaard (who isn’t too bright himself) hires two morons to kidnap his wife, with the plan being to collect the ransom money from his wealthy father-in-law and pay off some piling debts.  The kidnapping goes OK, but witnesses die along the way as the pair of criminals make their way to a lakeside hideout.  Policewoman Marge Gunderson is on the case, and she’s also pregnant, but she doesn’t let anything slow her down, including an unhelpful Mr. Lundegaard, who is in way over his head.  More people will die as the story continues, since no one knows what the hell they’re doing, and every man is fighting for his own survival, while one brave woman takes the entire case head on.

I guess my three favorite Coen Bros. films came right in a row from ’96 to 2000: Fargo, Big Lebowski, O Brother.  Beyond that, I don’t think I’d care to compare them, I love all three, and I think I’d throw Llewyn Davis in for good measure.  There’s no doubt; these men are cinematic geniuses, and their movies are American icons, going far past typical entertainment into a realm that very few are able to reach.  And with Fargo, they struck upon something special; a mix of hilarious and gruesome that somehow feels real and not campy, brutal but never over the top.  And the acting sets it apart from almost every other contemporary: McDormand, Macy, Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Harve Presnell, John Carroll Lynch.  Their voices, mannerisms, and presentations are special, there’s no other way to put it, these characters are special, and each scene & piece of dialogue feels necessary & thought out, never tossed in or shot without a singular purpose.  The entire feature feels more honed, honest, and purposeful than almost any movie ever made, and Fargo should/will (has already) go down in history as not only one of the Coens’ best but as one of the best period.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆