Saw a Takashi Miike picture called The Great Yokai War. "Yokai" is a Japanese term for monsters from folklore, as opposed to the more familiar kaiju. It's a kids' picture, about a young boy from Tokyo sent out to live in the countryside with his older sister and his intermittently senile grandfather. When a vengeful spirit appears, the boy gets caught up in a war between warring groups of yokai and must find his courage to become the "Kirin Rider", the hero who will set everything to rights. It's not a bad picture - nothing deep, but an amusing story. Some of the yokai are really trippy, Japanese folklore can get pretty "out there", apparently.

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I saw Solo over the weekend. As I suspected, the actor was not convincing at all as “Harrison Ford”. (I couldn’t tell the difference between the new and old Chewbacca, however.) Things I liked: 1) they explained the nonsense about making the Kessel Run in “under 12 parsecs”; 2) They established that Lando Calrissian never could pronounce Solo’s first name. (The actor who played Lando was convincing as “Billy Dee Williams”.) The appearance of “Darth Maul” at the end kind of threw me. I naturally assumed it was simply another member of whatever race that is, but Tracy Googled it on the way home and found that he did survive The Phantom Menace. Me, I’m not buying it.

“I have never found it a terribly consistent, plausible or well-thought-out series.”

Well said.

“(Convince me that "midi-choloridians" were in the back of Lucas' mind all along. I dare you.)”

Shoot, I don’t have to go nearly that far. Convince me that “a young Jedi named Darth Vader betrayed and murdered your father” wasn’t meant to be taken literally. Darth Vader was his name. Otherwise, When Ben confronted Vader on the Death Star for the final time he would have said, “Only a master of evil, Aniken.”

For that matter, Leia being Luke's sister was probably an afterthought. The first movie cast Luke and Han as rivals for her affection, which explains the famous kiss.

"For that matter, Leia being Luke's sister was probably an afterthought."

A.K.A. a "neat idea."

According The Making of Return of the Jedi, Lucas' script outline simply read " Emperor says something to make Luke mad..." and it was then decided that the "something" would be "a sister...Leia". Two movies had been made and the third was well into production before the brother/sister idea came into play.



Richard Willis said:

For that matter, Leia being Luke's sister was probably an afterthought. The first movie cast Luke and Han as rivals for her affection, which explains the famous kiss.

Watched This Is How It Ends, which (I think) is a made-for-Netflix movie.

Got good reviews, so I watched it. It was pretty good, albeit a by-the-numbers apocalypse movie. I mean, we've all seen The Walking Dead. We know all people become terrible in the apocalypse, and every bad break that can happen will. So all that happens.

But like a good meal, you ordered it, so you don't want surprises -- you just want it to be executed well. How It Ends delivers on that.

Points for including a Native American actress, and Native Americans in general. There was actually little reason for this person to be there, except to demonstrate how the main character is changing, which makes her a plot point, not a character. but I'm glad she was there just the same. I mean, it's good to see modern Native Americans represented in movies, just to remind the rest of us that they exist.

The lead is a generically Hollywood-handsome-twentysomething-who-works-out-a-lot type. I've already forgotten him. He does his job.

Forest Whitaker is the other lead. I've always been a little baffled why this guy is considered a major star. Doughy build, bad hair, lazy eye ... this is a movie star? I thought, "well, he can probably act rings around everyone else, and that's why he's famous." But then here's a scene where he's supposedly a lifelong Marine addressing an Army guy ... and he brings nothin'. The Army guy acts like Whitaker is really bringing it, but I don't see it. Bad posture, no command voice ... my high school ROTC commander had a more commanding presence, and he was doughy, too.

Ah well.

There's a brief thing about how former Marine Whitaker has a handgun, and preppie lawyer (that we're supposed to sympathize with) freaks out, which I thought was misguided, even as characterization. I'm 1,000 percent against civilians owning weapons of war (AK-47s, AR-15s, bazookas, tanks, what-have-you) whose only purpose is to kill a lot of human beings as quickly as possible. But I'm OK with people owning handguns or hunting rifles. You want the other stuff? Join the National Guard. That's the "well-organized militia" mentioned in the Second Amendment.

You agree? Disagree? Are you angry? Good, let's debate.

But not in a movie review. Or in a movie. See what I'm doing here? I'm making my point. I just don't see why we have to veer into hot political debate in the middle of a movie, especially when it's irrelevant.

Because it's the apocalypse! Everybody's armed to the teeth! Get a weapon or die!

So. yeah, in the apocalypse ky first order of business is getting a firearm. The "right to bear arms" is certainly a topic worth discussing -- but nobody needs that debate in this movie. Bad time for a chinwag, screenwriters!

OK, then, I've got one more point to make, and it requires

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So, the movie never tells you what caused the apocalypse.

I don't mind that, really. When you're in a knife fight for the last tank of gas, does it really matter that you're in this situation because of a meteor strike or an atomic war? No, it does not. Maybe later, if you survive the knife fight, you might wonder if it's a nuclear war and if radiation is a problem.

Then again, when you have no communication or means of traveling faster than by foot, it really doesn't matter if there's radiation or not -- if there is, you're gonna die pretty soon, and if not, then not, but either way you'd better find some fresh water soon.

In other words, it doesn't matter what caused the apocalypse. Maslow's hierarchy of needs kicks in no matter what.

But my wife actually guessed it. And I looked it up, and she's right.

In this movie the magnetic poles of planet Earth abruptly shifted.

It happens routinely, and by "routinely" I mean in geologic time -- every few hundred thousand years or so. And as it happens, we're overdue for one. And when the magnetic poles DO shift, all kinds of terrible things will result. Many of which happened in the movie:

  • All satellites will cease to function.
  • All cell phones will go down.
  • Electrical grids will collapse worldwide.
  • Birds will have trouble navigating.
  • Compasses will go berserk and become useless.
  • Plate tectonics will also go crazy (all that molten iron in the mantle will reverse direction), resulting in earthquakes in weird places, volcano and supervolcano eruptions, tsunamis and more.
  • Weather will go crazy.
  • The aurorae Borealis and Australis will show up where they aren't supposed to, and won't show up where they should. (In the movie, one showed up in Seattle.)

So there you go. I can see why the moviemakers didn't want to address it, though: Earth's magnetic field takes thousands of years to reverse itself, and large fauna won't have time to adapt, so most mammals, birds and large fish will have a hard time surviving the quickly changing environment. There will be life after a pole shift, but it will probably be small -- insects and microscopic life will largely be unscathed -- and will have to start up the evolutionary ladder all over again. Probably.

That's a lot to put on the survivors of this movie. And they won't care anyway, as they will have more immediate needs. Maslow's scale, you know.

Watched the mockumentary Houston, We Have a Problem on Netflix. Extremely enjoyable and a bang on assessment of the nation it's about. Hard to find something that is bang on true -- even if it a spoof and a mockumentary.

Mind you, I don't go to the movies at all anymore. No love for them at all (and I used to teach TV and Film at college a lifetime ago). I watch a lot of plays, these days. The last one was part of a Secret Theatre where you have no idea what the play will be until the curtain rises.

The last one was White Rabbit Red Rabbit, and if you ever have the chance to go see it, please do. I won't spoil it here, but suffice to say that it is a one person performance where the actor doesn't see the script until he or she is right now stage. One of the best plays I have ever seen, although "1979" is still my favourite...

The Big Trail (1930)

The story of a wagon train's journey along the Oregon Trail. A young man agrees to scout for the caravan when he learns it's to be led by a man he suspects of murdering his friends.

The film was directed by Raoul Walsh. It was a big-budget movie, and the recreation of the wagon train is spectacular. The scout was played by the young John Wayne. It was his first starring role. He looks not fully grown-up, and isn't impressive.

Hell-Bent for Leather (1960)

Western starring Audie Murphy. A horse-trader is mistaken for an outlaw. A marshal knows he's the wrong man, but pursues him with a posse with the intent of killing him because he wants the prestige of having stopped the outlaw.

This is a good pursuit movie, largely shot outside.

A Town Called Hell a.k.a. A Town Called Bastard (1971)

In the early 20th century a widow arrives in a Mexican town controlled by bandits seeking the murderer of her husband. Later government soldiers take over the town seeking a revolutionary leader called Aguila.

This is a British/Spanish co-production in the style of a Spaghetti Western. It's not entirely coherent, but pretty good of its kind. The cast includes Robert Shaw, Telly Savalas and Martin Landau.

The Hanged Man (1974)

Western TV movie starring Steve Forrest. A gunman is hanged and pronounced dead, but afterwards found to be alive. After he recovers he moves on, and helps a young widow who a rich man is trying to force off her land.

Forrest had an intense stare that worked for gunman roles. It's indicated early in the movie his character can read minds, but this idea isn't used once the main plot starts. According to Wikipedia the movie was intended as a possible series pilot.

Johnny come lately here finaly got around to seeing Antman & The Wasp (which I'm sure is discussed elsewhere, but my limited technology couldn't find the thread). All that aside, this was an enjoyable film. It's not as well done as Marvel's other action comedy series, Guardians; and, it seems frivilous after Infinity; but, it was well worth the ticket. The pacing and background made suspention of disbelief more difficult than it is with the former. Infinity set the bar for a serious threat, the lack thereof allowing for more focus on real world comparisons (Just what was that lab made of that it maintained structural itegrity while being treated like a football?). Once I silenced the real world, I genuinely enjoyed the film. And, was it just me, or, did anyone else think of the Micronaut's Hydrocopter when Hank Pym headed into the Quantum Rhealm?

We saw The Shape of Water over the weekend. This is one I wanted to see at the theater but didn't get around to for whatever reason. It's kind of a mixed bag (in terms of wild flights of fancy juxtaposed with scenes of violence and torture), but I really liked it.

Doctor Hmmm? said:

Incredibles 2.  Nailed it.


Captain Comics said:

Yeah, Incredibles 2. Nothing more to say than "go watch it."

Yeah, Incredibles 2 was good, but I do have a bit more to say about it ....

Clearly, the story's sympathies are with Mr. Incredible, just as in the first one. There, he was basically the aging jock who doesn't know what to do with himself in retirement. Here, he's the aging jock whose wife goes back to work and leaves him with the kids, and he doesn't know how to handle it. Nice touch that he had kids at three distinct stages to cope with: a perpetually surly teenage daughter, a rambunctious tweelln son and a baby going through the terrible twos a year early, but to the power of 10. Hoo boy!

Incredibles 2 continued the argument on whether and how much people should depend on superheroes, with no better conclusion on that than the first one gave. I thought the villain's argument that we spend too much time on our devices to be a bit undercooked; that needed to be developed more. 

Overall, though, I was pleased. I was happy to see these characters again, it was great fun, Edna Mode, as always, is alone worth the price of admission ... but did anybody notice that the Underminer still got away? Maybe they'll catch him in the next sequel, which I hope won't take 14 years to come along.

Watched Jumanji:Welcome to the Jungle over the weekend. It was much better and funnier than I expected. The Rock is especially good playing a young teen boy trapped in the body of the hero within a video game.

I've fallen out of love with Jack Black, and I'm familiar enough with Kevin Hart's schtick to know what to expect (and that I'll probably like it). How was Karen Gillan? I'm only familiar with her work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Nebula, although I hear she was in Doctor Who.

doc photo said:

Watched Jumanji:Welcome to the Jungle over the weekend. It was much better and funnier than I expected. The Rock is especially good playing a young teen boy trapped in the body of the hero within a video game.

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