Posts Tagged ‘review


Jumanji: Weclome to the Jungle, Movie Review


Jack Black, Kevin Hart, the lovely Karen Gillan and Dwayne Johnson get in touch with their inner children as they play video game avatar (character) versions of four troubled teens escaping punishment at school in a new spin on the original concept of the 1995 Robin Williams film, Jumanji:  Welcome to the Jungle.  The humor is a bit juvenile, but these ARE kids, after all.  Kids will laugh at the nonsensical violence.  Teens will snort and scoff at the impressions of their age group.  And, adults who remember 1995 and who enjoy console video games will enjoy a few references to the original film as well as the video game nature of the new film.

The story begins with a solitary teen finding the original board game on the beach (where it washed ashore at the end of the first film).  When he tosses this aside (because “no one plays board games anymore”), the game evolves itself and sucks the foolish young man into a cursed console.  Four students, figuring out who they are and where they belong, learn how to work together in some surprising ways and solve the mystery of a neighbor who vanished while eluding a mad treasure hunter’s goons and solving the puzzle built into the game which will ultimately allow them to return to their world.  But, if they die in the game, they cannot return to their world.

I honestly cannot complain about any actor in this film (which may be a first for me).  Each brings their own “game” and earns your interest.  However, Jack Black goes the extra mile by (no spoiler here if you’ve seen enough ads/trailers) playing a girl (in an overweight man’s body).  Karen Gillan is just fabulous (as a person).  This is not her best performance.  Yet, she gets a few “kicks” in for big laughs.  [I really enjoyed the “dance fighting.”]  Dwayne shines when he genuinely sounds like an awkward teen and, sadly, when he knocks anyone into next Tuesday.  Kevin Hart is consistently, mildly amusing in ways you’d expect from him, always pouting about his size.  [That old joke, getting older.]  But, he blends into the group nicely and goes out with a bang.

While this can be enjoyed as a rental or cable TV movie night option, don’t miss your chance to see it on the big screen as some of the visuals are best appreciated larger than life.  Overall, I give it 4 stars out of 5.  I can’t rave about it.  [It’s not the first Jurassic Park.  You know, that “old” 1993 film before Chris Pratt decided to milk the decayed corpse of a velociraptor and someone made a turducken out of a T-Rex.]  There are a few moments that made me raise an “awkward” eyebrow (not the People’s Eyebrow).  But, other than those tidbits, I’d watch this one, again.  The final few minutes strike a nice note, putting the whipped cream on the sundae.

I’ll let you decide if there’s still room for a sequel.



Black Panther, movie review


Chadwick Boseman might be the rightful heir to the throne of Wakanda, aka the Black Panther, but Michael B. Jordan, aka Killmonger, steals the show as a wounded heart and fierce rival in Black Panther, the latest Marvel Studios cash monster.  While this is being pitched as a tremendously ground-breaking film for “blacks” and women, alike, I did not find it that astounding but did find some subtle, convenient political undertones.

I’d like to start off by mentioning I have been a casual Black Panther fan since I could afford a comic book at the local discount book store.  I have three issues of the original comic book series, enough to inspire me to draw countless similar characters for comics I aspired to but never completed.  Even with such a meager collection and knowledge of the character and his enemies, I had my expectations, going into the film.

I expected a down-to-earth, tough-as-nails martial artist/street fighter, a Batman with a cat mask and certain jewelry accessories, facing a crazy dude in a reddish, skin-tight costume with a distinct face/mask design and a megaphone for one of his hands, along with another madman capable of flying like the Vulture from Spider-Man comics/cartoons.

That’s not exactly what I garnered from the ads/trailers, and, thus, was a bit concerned.  But, go figure; it’s been Disney-fied and “updated.”  I didn’t want another juvenile-humor-infused romp in which everything runs on some kind of AI or nanotechnology.  Iron Man could get away with that.  And, I get Wakanda is supposed to be more technologically developed than all other parts of Africa, and then some.  But, Black Panther has always been more of the street/jungle brawler than the wealthy “playboy”/heir to the family fortune.

On the plus side, this movie gets major points for fashion design and its soundtrack.  [Jewelry left something to be desired.]  No other Marvel movie, thus far, has kept me grooving through the whole thing like this one.  I am not much of a RnB or Hip Hop fan.  I didn’t grasp most lyrics.  But, the beats really soothed and carried me along for the ride, all the way through the credits.  Boseman and Nyong’o consistently had slick outfits; Lupita had some nice hairdos and face painting to complement her wardrobe changes.

There was a touch of a Lion King division of “brothers” which bubbled and boiled with tension nicely.  As I said at the beginning, Michael B. Jordan makes one intriguing Killmonger.  Boseman is more of a straight-forward script reader, playing his part to the letter.  But, Jordan is conflicting and conflicted, more tempting to join the dark side than Darth Vader.  He almost convinced me to root for him.

Winston Duke, as M’Baku, the monkey tribe leader, was both amusing and inspiring.  Danai Gurira (Okoye) was fierce and proud enough to play one bad-ass Storm from the X-Men.  Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi) and Andy Serkis (Klaue) get respectful nods, as well.

And, what would a Marvel movie be without a Stan Lee cameo?  The man is just priceless, even if his quip and character didn’t “wow” me this time.  [Can anything top the mailman in the first Fantastic Four film?]  I had completely forgotten Jack Kirby had a big hand in the original comic series.  He has been a big source of inspiration for me, as well.

The technology factor was remotely impressive but inadequately explained.  [Or, maybe I was distracted by something/someone.]  It wasn’t as bad as I expected but still rather convenient.  And, the Wakanda fleet of vehicles were mostly silly and alien-looking.  What respectable wealthy nation thinks ships shaped like grasshoppers or locusts is more sane than, say, a simple flying car/pod?  But, cool points for the “car simulator” technology and the voice command? suit that can absorb and reuse energy.

Casting was adequate.  The only weak spot, other than what I’ve already discussed about Boseman, was Martin Freeman, as a rather silly white guy on the set.  He serves one vital purpose in the whole story, and it’s not until the final big conflict.  Beyond that, he’s like that piece of luggage you wish you didn’t need to check at the airport.  [Which is a shame because I usually like Freeman’s work.]  Ironically, I suppose, he takes the “token” spot a “black” actor/actress would have in just about any “white” film.  But, I think a Korean “agent” would have been more fitting, considering Korea was a country of focus in the movie…which is rather convenient, when you consider what’s going on in world politics and the most recent Olympics.  [‘Makes you go “hmm,” doesn’t it?]

Possibly the worst aspect, next to the bug-shaped airships, was the camera work on the fight scenes, other than the big brawl near the end between two armies of warriors.  That was Lord-of-the-Rings-worthy.  But, the casino fight?  There was so much going on at break-neck speed (ha); too hard to follow with the camera.  [Of course, my seat wasn’t the best.  And, I did not anticipate such a full theater.  But, I didn’t go at my usual movie-viewing time, either.]

The movie leaves you with two little scenes during the credits which did nothing for me.  [But, I haven’t seen Civil War, yet, either.  So…]  And, there’s the question about what is really next for the Black Panther after solving juvenile delinquency…well, not quite (and after what becomes of his enemies which I shall leave you to see for yourselves).  [In fact, the condition of the theater I shared with roughly a hundred other viewers, after the movie, was deplorable.  Broken seats and food debris everywhere.  More savage than the Wakanda jungle.  Not a good impression left by a black-dominated audience.  I was the Martin Freeman in the crowd.]

Give Black Panther a try in 3D if you can spare the extra bucks.  If you wait to rent it, be sure to have a big enough screen to appreciate the visuals though they aren’t as impressive as, say, one of the Thor movies.  Many of the scenes are dark and crowded.  Don’t expect to earn “minority cred” for seeing the movie.  Again, it’s not the end-all-be-all film that’s going to boost “blacks” and women into the top one percent of the wealthy.  It’s not going to make the next Denzel or Halle.  [Although, Lupita (Nakia) was rather stimulating…but, so far, she always is (with a slight hint of arrogance in her smile).]

Buy the soundtrack and groove your way to work or school.

On a scale of 1 (lousy) to 5 (awesome), I give Black Panther a 3.5.  Take out Freeman and the bug ships, and I’d maybe bump this up to a 3.75.

And, Lupita?  Call me.  😉


Advanced Uninstaller Pro 12, Should I Be Concerned?


So, I installed an old PC game on my new Win 10 laptop and found myself stuck with “catastrophic failure” when I could not run the game and tried to uninstall it with the tools already on my PC.  I did a quick search and came upon an offer for Advanced Uninstaller Pro strangely linked to the game I was trying to uninstall.  Hmm.  What are the odds of that?  Unless, this was just one user’s experience in some sort of blog, a user who happened to either be working for or a “consumer” who obtained AUP.  I took a big chance downloading the uninstaller installer (ha) from what I presumed was a safe website and installed the program a day or two later.

Here’s how the uninstallation went down…

Well, first off, the uninstaller program took a moment to get started, and I had the feeling I might have invited some malware or something similar from the way certain screens either duplicated or did not appear.  When I felt satisfied with the installation of the uninstaller, I thought everything would close unless/until I decided to use the uninstaller.  But, one window remained open; rather there was an icon on the taskbar but no window to view or close.   There was also a window that opened to do something online, but I was unable to get online at the time; I closed that.  It’s not like the program said anything about registering the software right away or later.  Or, if it did, I must have ignored that?

So, I did a restart and noticed two very suspicious black boxes appear briefly as the computer started.  I also noticed my cursor doing more “loading” than usual.  I thought…did I just open my computer to someone on another computer who is now scanning or accessing my files?  It was a tad unsettling.

I ran the uninstaller only to find the “interface” did not match the ones I see in reviews!  The pages I’ve seen show a menu of colorful squares for the options you can pick.  Instead, I got narrow bands stacked on top of each other.   So…my next thought was…is this a “phishing” sort of phony, mimic version of the program?

I followed the directions to find and uninstall the pesky game that would not uninstall any other way.  The uninstaller said there was about 600 MB of space to recover with a full uninstall and asked about doing extra cleanup.  I cautiously said, sure, take a look.  It found about a dozen “pieces” left behind.  I had the option to uncheck certain items.  What really concerned me was the last item in the list.  It did not include any mention of the game, its maker or anything that sounded remotely game-related.  It sounded like a Win 10 file, something that would affect the version of Windows I have or the registry, even.

So, I unchecked that one and finished the cleanup…only to discover the game files were still there!  Every item on the start-up menu was still there!  What did the uninstaller uninstall??

So, I ran it, again, and it removed more files, showing me how much space it recovered, less than the previous search/removal.  I checked the start-up menu, again, and found half of the game items still there.  Okay…so now I had fewer pieces to complain about…right?  But, still, there are pieces.

So, I went back and ran the extra clean-up, again, it honed in on that one file that concerned me, the Win 10-ish version file.  There is NO reason that one file represents the pieces left behind on the start-up menu.  So, what gives?  I left the file where it was, not uninstalling it til I know it’s not something my PC should keep.

What am I to do/think?  I still have pieces on the drive.  And, when I tried going back to the tools of my PC that remove files/apps, it said the game files were “unavailable” to process/remove/alter.  So, the only way to deal with them is the AUP?

I ran some other clean-up tool, which spoke of clearing up possible pieces and registry issues, the particular name slips my mind at the moment.  It found 3 “empty folders” which I thought nothing of til I saw one labeled a “settings” folder which, again, made me think I was being stripped of something that was part of running the computer normally.  I tried looking for the program folder and running the program to find the way it now looked had changed.  I can only hope I didn’t do it any harm.

Now, days pass by, and I get pop-ups for daily cleaning services.  I also, today, got a pop-up mentioning the program had done a “daily cleaning service” by finding roughly 20,000 junk files?  And, some of those “junk files” look a lot like normal files the computer would use to remember and protect what it has done.  Ya know.  Like registry and system restore point stuff?  So, why is this uninstaller targeting those?

Suffice to say, I am a lil concerned and more disturbed by all things computer.


The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun, 2015/2016 Movie Review


Call me a cab and find a shrink. I may need some help sorting out my feelings about “The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun,” a French film starring Scottish actress Freya Mavor, and the mad people behind it. I am as much aroused and intrigued as I am puzzled and disgusted…which–from my understanding of the director’s explanation–seems on par with French cinema.

[NOTE: This film is either closely or loosely based on a novel I have not read, a novel the director claims is “insane” (though he loves it) and about a woman raised by a nun who still speaks to her as a conscience. My views are based solely on the DVD film and the interview I watched subsequently. And, I’d recommend watching both at least twice to have any chance of grasping every detail…unless you are just so damn observant that you miss nothing the first time through.]

The story seems to take place in the mid-1970s, resembling the TV series Mad Men. Dany, a tall, timid and short-sighted secretary (a 23-year-old Catholic school girl version of Donna from “That 70s Show”) is asked by her ad agency boss to type up his rough rewrite of some fifty-page “report” by the end of the day. Concealing her sexual fantasies, she is willing to tackle the task but confesses to a lack of typing speed. The boss offers her a chance to complete the work at a house shared by his wife and young daughter, provided she tells no one. Dany quickly begins to imagine him leaving his wife and child to toy with her. On top of being a daydreamer, she has a bad habit of “complicating” matters with questions which quickly get on the nerves of the boss and Anita (the wife and Dany’s former secretary school rival who may have “fooled around” with her “ages ago” which is actually a little over three years before the story begins).

When the report is finished, the boss makes one more request of his most trusted secretary. Accompanying the family to the airport, Dany is left with a teal Thunderbird and the “simple” chore of driving it back to the family’s Paris home. While the boss and his family are away, Dany decides to play, motivated by a tempting voice in her head. She takes the car south, in hopes of spending a few hours at the beach, but soon finds herself running into people who claim to have seen her earlier, a flirtatious stalker and amassing evidence that may convict her of murder. Whether or not the ending is a happy one remains debatable.

Though fairly brilliant in terms of cinematography (aside from maybe one or two poorly lit scenes), casting and music, the intentionally “trippy” and disorienting short story is not unlike something Quentin Tarantino would devise, except, thankfully, lacking his usual excess of gore. It has many of the touches I long to put in a similar movie: the fashions (though some, including the frequently featured “dress,” are a bit revealing), the moody lighting and music, the variety of camera shots, the comic book panels (without being panels), the bookish beauty with hidden sides to her personality and a backstory (though not flushed out in the movie) to explain her behavior, the scandalous/suspicious encounters, the well-devised plot of the villains played out (not perfectly) in the background, etc. There’s a somewhat magical flow to the whole product which some have said is a 95-minute music video. I prefer to think of it as a daring perfume ad (which could be ironic, considering the protagonist works for an advertising agency).

Even after two viewings, I have some questions. One, why can’t a half-dozen auto mechanics catch a man either entering or exiting a restroom at their gas station/cafe? Two, why would a religious young secretary hook up with a guy who admits to disabling her (borrowed) car and daringly climbs inside with her before she knows his name (considering she aspires to hooking up with her boss, unless both men are nothing more than a night of fun to her)? How does she stay so calm with the guy when he’s obviously dangerous in more than one scene? How does such a damsel in distress get from the wilderness to a truck stop, track down a missing car and then walk some unknown distance down a seaside road alone to find said missing car? Where were the parents of the boy at the beach? And, why would he want to climb in the car of a strange older woman when he knows something is amiss with the trunk?

While I can accept the nudity and sex as typical of adult films and more commonly accepted in non-American films (which is a bit surprising, considering the general impression I get of Americans being comfortable with casual sex and rape), the amount presented in the film was still more than I care to see. I also didn’t care for a young actress consistently playing with a religious necklace between her sexually daring exploits. [This may have been included to reflect the character’s childhood in the care of a nun (if the movie is sticking true to what the director says of the novel). But, viewing the film without such knowledge, I felt the necklace was unnecessary and misused. If it provided moments of conscience, I question Dany’s morals.]

The “naught bits” justify what some have said of the director. Or, at least, I assume what the director said of those who question his work is true and agree with the sentiments. He says people accuse him of “getting off” on his actresses and abusing certain camera shots. Well, despite his claims to the opposite, he DOES seem to play with women in a manner I’d say is either erotic or pornographic. He prefers the term “fetish.” His little collection of paintings and admission to designing pornographic comic books–the former displayed in his enclosed interview for the film–do not depict him as an entirely honest man, either.

Let me pause right here to address more about the interview portion of the DVD. Why is it certain (if not all) French “artists” speak with contradicting thoughts? Why is something “utterly useless” obviously valued by the person? Why is trash worth discussing at any length? Why build something just to tear it apart? And, why does the explanation for one idea spring off in some other direction that seems completely unrelated? [I have tried drumming up an example–without jotting down every word the guy says–but it just gives me a headache.] Is this simply some attempt at being modest (versus boasting)? Am I right in being puzzled? Or, is someone doing a poor job of translating the interview?

Just as I fuss and fume over some of Tarantino’s work, this little tale *directed* by Joann Sfar is a steamy pot of artistic potential. It’s not utter trash…nor is it a blissful masterpiece. But, with a little more editing, I’d be inclined to describe it as the latter. [Why do some artists poop on their creations?]

This is a DVD I’d keep on hand for reference material but would have a bit of a hard time watching regularly/casually (particularly with anyone who is not a lover). And, I’d consider working with those responsible for the camera shots/editing, provided they can cope with making some changes to their “routine.” While I might share some of the same fetishes, I would do more to keep the nudity, sex and violence blurred/veiled or–better yet–suggested (versus “in-your-face”).

[And, as I often say, if I am going to dabble in nude artwork, I’d keep such pieces private between me and my lover. It feels wrong to paint (or draw) nude and/or provocative images of someone working with me who is not (my lover). It is inexcusable to claim you are protecting actresses while displaying nude and/or scandalous images of them on publicly released material.]

“The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun” (2015/2016)
Directed by Joann Sfar
Editted by Maryline Monthieux and Christophe Pinel
Original “opera” music by Agnes Olier


Back From the Dark Side…of the Theater


Put away the zit cremes and Ovaltine. Take a deep breath. And, get ready to go geek-to-geek with one more lengthy, nit-picking but honest assessment of the latest “blockbuster” movie.

Okay. I saw it, the big spectacle of 2015, the film so many have been waiting for with some trinket of a past generation clutched nervously between their sweaty hands, the movie seasoned adults are supposed to inject into their inexperienced kids so they will continue to pick sides and wage wars between dark and light, the epic 38 years in the making handed over to the Disney Empire and the guy who put together LOST.

The Good:

If you miss Luke, Leia, Han and the rest of the heroes who survived the 70s/80s films, they’re ALL back. The only characters who have not returned are the ghosts, the desert people, the Cantina regulars and a few members of the Sith/Empire. [But, it looks like one of the old crew wanted to nip this thing in the can by taking the big plunge. Shh!]

The visuals are spectacular. The 3D isn’t throwing much in your face, but the depth perception tricks are used well, including some intense spaceship fight scenes which make you feel like you’re living through a video game. Just about every environment is covered from desert to forest to snowy mountains. But, when you have Disney money backing your enterprise… Well, as the founder of Jurassic Park says, “Spare no expense.” I’d expect no less with all the modern technology and countless technicians/artists at one’s disposal. I imagine a massive army of stormtroopers sitting at drawing tables and beside film-processing mach–er, computers.

Lupita cannot lose. After being spotlighted for playing a slave, she becomes the red carpet fashion plate who rarely if ever misses with all of her stunning and trendsetting outfits. Now, she’s my favorite new character in the latest installment of this series. [I was semi-hoping she’d be cast as a Jedi with some sort of tribal face paint and eggplant robe.] You would miss her if you did not know her voice. No big spoiler here; she’s the yellow Yoda of the story. [I love you, Lupita/Maz.]

Daisy Ridley is a lovely heroine (even if she resembles the younger prequel Anakin crossed with Padme). But, what do you expect from the female lead? Everyone loved Leia (even if some criticized the “bun” hairdo). I loved Padme (but not all of her outfits). And, she uses her natural voice (which is refreshing when I think of all the Brits and Aussies using American accents in films). [I am guessing she gets the accent from her mother?]

Boyega’s Finn is a complicated man. No, he’s not Samuel L. Jackson (nor Richard Roundtree) but a good stormtrooper…er, bad stormtrooper turned good. …He’s with the Rebellion! Anyway, he’s a nice addition to the cast/story. [I like him slightly better than Lando. You know, Finn’s dad. Shh!]

Racial diversity is more apparent. And, women, well, two women, are added for more powerful roles…though one doesn’t do much. But, it’s a slight improvement on the original trilogy. [What about the “prequels?” There was a female bounty hunter in one of those, and she was badass.]

The whining I hated with the two previous trilogies is gone! Well…not exactly. There’s still a little whining and tantrum throwing by the Dark Side. It’s just restricted/sent to a private space sans rubber walls where the villain can slash the place apart. [It’s not like anyone is ever going to use those computers again, anyway.]

The star Jedi is NOT the one to strike the big, successful blow against the enemy! That’s right, it’s one of the smaller potatoes…who just happens to be the best pilot with dark hair.

A new R2 is used well. The little rolling ball of excited chatter is more likable than Number 5 from Short Circuit. [If you don’t know who that is, you’re obviously a prequel baby.] He’s sure to spawn a whole line of toys, speakers, other gadgets and remote control replicas.

Is it just me or does the good list weaken as it reaches its end? Well, let’s get to the rest of it.

The Bad:

In seven words, it’s Star Wars, the Vader saga, revisited. If you watch the Darth Vader trilogy and the new film together, you’ll pick up on matching character looks/types and repeated dialogue.

In five words, there is no new story. Well, that’s not entirely true. There are a few small surprises, tiny kernels of continuation forty years after Darth Vader falls. But, you’d think more would have changed. And, as they say in the movie, the Empire is gone. So…why are there still stormtroopers running amok under new leadership which looks EXACTLY like the old leadership? [Then again, what changed between World War one and two other than who started the fight and why?]

In three words, too much recycling. I think the crew (including the director) were so scared to try anything new after the barrage of hate mail flew at the “prequels” that they went a VERY safe route to please everyone. [I guess furry little creatures were too dangerous because there are none.]

Unfortunately, this hit rock bottom when the big surprise weapon was revealed. At that moment, my smile wilted. If you are following my train of thought, you can guess what awaits our heroes and devastates worlds. It’s been done! And, I am tired of this constant upgrade of power which only falls the same way the old power did, anyway!

I mean, seriously, J. J.! You put a toaster over the Tatooine lizard’s head. Some of the stellar visuals are reused…though perhaps at new angles or with new computer enhancements. Even the big surprise from The Empire Strikes Back is essentially given a face-lift with new characters in the scene. And, you killed one of my favorite characters!

If you’re going to kill one of my favorite characters, why not get rid of the stormtroopers, too? If anyone wants to use force, it’s me, using physical force to knock some sense into your head. [Don’t worry too much, you’re still better than the guy who ruined Transformers and who is probably raping the Ninja Turtles before a sequel to that remake as I speak.]

If you want the truth, J. J., I think you do better sticking with the revised Star Trek franchise. [I have only seen trailers and interviews, but it looks good.] I take no enjoyment from being a member of the hate police. But, I am rather sick of all the Star Wars “swag” and undeserved domination of science-fiction interest. And, even if you’re tired of hearing it, you slowly lost me on LOST. You spent all those years not telling people they were watching the Twilight Zone.

It’s still too quick and easy for the good guys to find the fatal flaw in the enemy’s plans (even if the enemy does some serious destruction first…and just as quickly/easily). Apparently, we come into the “story” at the moment when the “aha moment” hits. Again, that’s been used in the previous films. It smells of lacking plot to fill the space between “Here are your new cast members.” and “Here is how the enemy falls.”

The very first Star Wars to be made was the “best” chunk of a lengthy story possibly too big for Lucas’ mind to handle. He didn’t want to bore people to tears with a long, ongoing war. So, he cut it down to a highlight reel to sell tickets and save people from cardiac arrest (from too many hours planted in theater seats which were not as luxurious as they are now). Still, people felt the need to sell toys and related kids’ bedroom items before Christmas, stoking the fire of future collecting/hoarding/resale crazes. Then the story grew; it continued with a new stage of the same war waged on the snowy side of some planet and a third in a jungle occupied by little teddy bears with spears and rocks. And, in the end, the Empire’s emperor fell.

This is not the first rodeo for the “guardians of the galaxy.” [Yea, I used a Marvel title, also purchased by Disney.] Get on with the story. Write something new while properly representing the old; show progression. Or, tell fans you are remaking the originally released film with new effects/technology and let them decide how to feel about that. Me? I’d be looking for a red lightsaber if I saw another remake (though I do respect the effort to improve upon what may have been limited by technology at the time if it is closer to the artist’s vision and given his/her consent).

With a good writing team, this “story” could have spanned three films and saved the big explosion for the third (using a DIFF-ER-ENT weapon as the ultimate target). But, no, this is now Disney’s battle cruiser; and we know Disney has been recycling/rewriting old tales since Snow White. So, as I said, you get Star Wars in a new, shiny package with plenty of the old trilogy squeezed into one film for the old generation to pass onto the new. Heck, why watch the original films when Disney will repack them for you? I expect another “big weapon” to appear in the third repackaged film of this new series. Surprise me with something different. I dare ya.

The Ugly…er, my final rating?

Out of 5 stars, I give this one 2 1/2, average. 5 star visuals with a 1-2 star story. Even 2 stars is generous for the recycling. And, as many already know, this isn’t the end of it. There are two more sequels to round out another trilogy. Knowing Disney, there are spin-offs in the works, probably throwing some more kid-friendly TV shows and movies to surpass what was once Droids and Ewoks. And, with that is sure to come even MORE merchandising which has already been insane. It’s enough to make you hate Christmas. And, we sure don’t need that.

One question for those who have seen the film: [Don’t read this if you have not seen it.] Why doesn’t Leia sense Luke’s presence when he contacts R2-D2 (if she can feel what happens to Han and is able to feel Luke throughout the original trilogy)?

If I could:

1) I would erase four of the previous six films, removing the bits from A New Hope that repeat in The Force Awakens and salvaging the good parts primarily from The Empire Strikes Back with traces of Return of the Jedi to complete the chapter. You could squeeze six weak stories into two good films or spread the pursuit of bringing down the enemy over three stronger than weak films.

2) And, yea, I’ll say it, I’d cast someone else as or rewrite Luke’s script so he doesn’t seem so whiny and naive with unbelievable luck. If there’s one character in the first trilogy to be made that bothers me the most, it’s Luke. [I’d love the films if the focus was on the relationship between Han and Leia.] C3-PO is a close second. He’s the robotic equivalent to Donkey in the Shrek films. I’d say he’s as bad as some think of…

3) I’d keep Jar Jar Binks in the prequels. Not because I want to further anger those who hate him but because he’s perfect for Disney who created Goofy and now holds the keys to the whole shabang. Cheers to Lucas on ensuring a luxurious retirement!

4) I’d keep the pod race but remove the lucky shot from The Phantom Menace.

5) I’d strip the Clone Wars down to the bare bones, re-purposing the sickly General Grievous (who was a bit of a disappointment), saving Count Dooku (who is just about as good as the actor was in the Lord of the Rings films) and sparing viewers the madness that is the excess of troopers along with the dragging factory and arena showdown scenes (except for the bit when Mace Windu chops off Jango Fett’s head).


In short, see the new film to enjoy the ride. Just don’t invest much in it. Don’t hate the “prequels.” But, why are they considered such a failure?…for being different from the future? Is it possible the first three chapters of the six-part saga were changed to once again hopefully please more fans than they originally would have? At least, J. J. won’t be called a TRAITOR! [I’m just throwing in a word repeated in a few of Boyega’s scenes for whatever reason, not calling anyone a traitor, presently.]

And, for those of you who have had no interest in the Star Wars movies whatsoever, bless your hearts. You might have the last semblance of imagination to create new stories that span the stars. May the creative force, divine inspiration, be with all who read these words and use it wisely.



The Shirley Zone…Submitted for Your Discussion


Yesterday, I posted my “love letter” to Shirley MacLaine.  And, as I wrote it a few days ago, I found myself saying…I’ve done this before (again).  As I edited one bit just yesterday, I could predict a comment I would receive.

Then, last night, I watched Terms of Endearment for what I thought was the first time.  [I can’t recall ever seeing the film.  I just remember the award shows for that year when the cast was on stage.]  And, I heard this little voice saying…”Wanna watch it with us?”  Then my own little voice said, “No.  I don’t want to spoil my view of Shirley from her earlier work.”  And, then the first voice said, “Oooh.  I didn’t know you had an interest in her earlier work.  What is this fascination you have with her?”

And, though I heard these voices as the movie started, I sat through it, anyway. It wasn’t the worst thing she could have done.  But, for a character named Aurora, she looked anything but colorful.  It was a very raw, emotional and modern slice of problematic life.  She was at a pivotal moment in her real life and apparently working it out in this film.  I think age was getting to her; thus she aged herself a bit…or felt a need to “act her age.”  I suspect at this time or soon after she stopped joking around as much and took a new look at herself…or felt “desperate” to try some new things while still holding tight to the reins of selective control.

I gotta say…the movie makes me like John Lithgow and Danny DeVito less. Strangely, the film gave Jeff Daniels depth and didn’t make him appear so terrible to me for what he did.  What was more upsetting was Debra Winger not confessing her secret before the end.  Yet, I think, she did what she did to lessen the pain of what was to come.  But, what if what she suffered would have passed her by had she confessed to her hubby?

As for Jack…you know Jack…he is pretty much the same guy I like/dislike from his other films.  There is one scene in which Shirley invites his astronaut character into her bedroom to “see a painting.”  And, when he enters the house, he just looks so grubby and shady like a thief in the night without the cat burglar costume/skills.  His best moment–the lucky bastard–was groping Shirley at the beach.  I wanted her to rip his arm off! 😛

Getting back to Danny…who is he supposed to be??  He just pops up in a few scenes, not saying much but taking an interest in Shirley’s character.  Is he an old ogling friend?  A husband of a female friend?  It just irked me seeing him pop up.

Looking at the theatrical trailer, it was one of those lousy versions that shows a near-complete synopsis of the story, leaving out the tragedy at the end.  A hard sell.

Seeing Debra Winger yell at her kids reminded me of my family, one member in particular.  And, as I confronted that member today, she shared a shocking little moment she had yesterday which made her think of me.  The two ripples collided, leaving an unsettling feeling running through me to this moment…

I did not have an easy time getting to bed and now know I probably should not have watched that movie.  Yet, a tiny part of me thinks it was like a rock in the sea on a sailing voyage.  I could have avoided it if I listened to word of mouth.  But, I faced it and steered around it best I could.  How it will impact my voyage is yet to be seen….

Perhaps, in the Shirley Zone.