The 10th Kingdom, Disc 2 (2000 Mini-Series)

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When I slipped the second disc of this mini-series into my bluray player, they had a very helpful “previously on the 10th Kingdom” so I was able to slide right back into the movie without any annoying “now, what did I watch last month”.

The quick and dirty synopsis has Virginia being rescued from the Huntsman by Tony and Wolf. They continue chasing after the Magic Mirror so that Virginia and Tony can return to our world.  They have several adventures and each time get a hold of the mirror only to have circumstances force it out of their hands. In the Town of Love, Wolf wins a huge jackpot but instead of spending the money on buying the Mirror, spends it all on woo’ing Virginia. When she realizes what he’s done, she casts him off. Tony finds the Mirror in the clutches of the Huntsman but in the process of stealing it, drops it off a roof and destroys it. Tony is now cursed with bad luck and they begin another adventure to find the makers of the mirrors.

They argue and fight but eventually make it to the mountains of the dwarfs. They sneak in, get some help and find out there is another traveling mirror they can use. Of course, Tony’s bad luck kicks in and he ends up breaking another 100 magic mirrors. He and Virginia begin being chased by the dwarves and in a tunnel Tony falls down a hole and breaks his back. Virginia goes on alone to find an exit and runs into the ghost of Snow White. She is given a magic mirror, granted a wish (which she uses to heal her father) and then they escape the mountain. The disc ends with the magic mirror revealing the Evil Queen and Tony realizing it is his ex-wife and Virginia’s mother.

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By the end of this disc I was begging for it to be over. This was also 2 3/4hrs like the previous disc, but this time around things really dragged. The Quest to recover the mirror became annoying as they kept “almost” getting it only to have go out of reach by directorial fiat. It wasn’t even subtle.  Wolf’s obsession with his feelings for Virginia was also very annoying. He was so concerned about himself that he never once took her into consideration. Then Virginia acts like a drama queen the entire time and Tony, well, he’s Tony. I found it funny but I know that won’t appeal to everyone. The reveal about the Evil Queen at the end would have had a lot more impact if I wasn’t already bored to tears.

What this needed, and I think newer releases have done, is to break this up into its component episodes so you can watch just one 90minute episode and then take a break, with a clear beginning, middle and ending. This version just mashed everything together into a ginormous movie that became bowed down under its own weight. I would have enjoyed this a lot more in smaller chunks.

I was hoping that the Evil Queen would be something more, but sadly, she pretty much spends her time training Dog to act like Wendell and once again is more of a tired, put upon grandmother than an evil queen bent on taking over the entire land.  The further reveal that she was crazy didn’t really do much besides invoke one tiny, brief spurt of pity.

I know I’m complaining a lot but this wasn’t a bad story. It just needed to be broken up.

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The 10th Kingdom, Disc 1 (2000 Mini-Series)

10thkingdom

 

This disc went on a lot longer than I was expecting. It was almost 3 hrs long.  I just looked on Wikipedia and the whole mini-series is 10 hrs, so I’m guessing each disc is going to be of equal length. Considering how much I enjoyed this, that is a good thing.

The quick and dirty synopsis is that Prince Wendell, of the 4th Kingdom, is due to be crowned king soon.  The Evil Queen, who killed Wendell’s parents, is in magical prison but with the help of the Troll King, escapes and makes Wendell change places with her dog. Wendell, as a dog now, escapes through a magic mirror into New York City, where he meets Virginia and her father. The Evil Queen sends the Troll King’s 3 children after Wendell as well as Wolf, who was also being kept in Magical Prison. They all follow Wendell through the mirror into New York. The troll siblings claim the land, which they think is the mythical 10th Kingdom, for the trolls.  The trolls and Wolf track down Wendell to Virginia and her father Tony’s apartment.Wolf falls instantly in love with Virginia. Magical, funny things happen and everyone heads back through the magic mirror to the 4th Kingdom.

Virginia and Tony, along with Wolf and Wendell (who can talk to Tony due to some of the magical shenanigans back in NY) are all being chased by the Troll Siblings. They get split up, come back together and begin chasing down the magic mirror so they can return to NY.  We get a history lesson of the land that brings us up to speed. The Troll King reneges on his deal with the Evil Queen and decides to take over the 4th Kingdom for himself. The Evil Queen realizes Wolf isn’t going to help her and sends her Huntsman after the group. Our Gang runs into a group of Gypsies and Virginia gets cursed with Rapunzel hair. At this point Prince Wendell is now a gold statue of a dog due to Tony getting greedy with a Midas spell. He’s getting dragged along by Tony on a little cart. Wolf hides them from the Hunstman so he can find the Woodsman, a man with a mythical axe.  This axe can cut anything, including Virginia’s ever growing hair and that will break the curse. Of course, Virginia sneezes at the most inopportune time and gets captured by the Huntsman while Tony and Wolf attempt to track her down to rescue her.

I have obviously left out a lot of details, but needless to say, I was amused. The digital FX were definitely dated but thankfully there is very little of that. The actors carry the story and I want to talk about a couple of them.

 

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Virginia and her dad Tony

Virginia is played by Kimberly Williams. She’s a waitress whose mom left when she was 7 and her dad, while loving her, is pretty self absorbed.  All she wants is to lead a normal life and open her own restaurant. She is the epitome of “the little feisty girl” and at one point even pushes Wolf out of a second story window with a broom. How can you not love that? Tony is played by John Larroquette and my goodness, is he good in that role. He gets a magic bean that grants him 6 wishes, but they all go wrong in various ways and that is what leads him to jump through the mirror.  He has the bumbling, selfish yet lovable dad thing down pat. He is such a jumble of good, bad and mediocre that you know he’s going to get in trouble, and yet you can’t wait to see HOW he’s going to get into trouble.

 

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Virginia and the Big Bad Wolf

Wolf is played by Scott Cohen, and much like Laroquette, really nails the part. He’s constantly rubbing his eye with his forearm, howling, making little in the throat dog noises and saying things like “huff , puff”. Being part of the Nine Kingdoms, he’s very much our channel into the thinking of that land. Since he’s with Virginia and Tony so much, it helps explain a lot.

 

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Prince Wendell

Wendell is actually 2 characters here. One is the Real Prince Wendell in a dog’s body that is with Virginia, Tony and Wolf and the second character is Dog in Prince Wendell’s body.  He is played by Daniel Lapaine. He only has to do the voice over for the dog part but where he really shines is as Dog ala Prince Wendell. Whoever was directing definitely gave a lot of thought to what a dog would be like who suddenly had a human body. He’s constantly on his hands and knees looking for bones. There is one scene near the beginning where he’s in the carriage and they’re racing along and his head is out the window with his tongue lolling out, exactly like how you see dogs in cars today. Priceless! He’s not to fond of being a human, but since the Evil Queen is his master, he does what she says, because she’s his master. Very dog like 🙂

 

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The Troll King and The Evil Queen

Now we come to the main villains of the piece. The Troll King is rescuing his inept kids from prison at the beginning of the movie and that is how he gets involved with the Evil Queen. He is played by Ed O’Neil and I don’t envy him having to wear all that makeup and prosthetics. I bet it was wicked uncomfortable. He’s not particularly bad, he’s just a troll who wants everything, now.  The Evil Queen, played by Dianne Wiest, was a just a bit of a let down. We’re told she’s evil and that she poisoned Wendell’s parents (hence her being in prison) and her plans for taking over the 4th Kingdom certainly make her SOUND evil. She didn’t come across as an Evil Mastermind though, more of a tired woman going through the motions, rather harried instead of being in control. Part of the issue is she doesn’t have as much screen time, but then, neither did the Troll King.  I don’t know that I would have noticed it so much if it weren’t for how well I thought the other actors portrayed their characters.

 

I’ve been doing some looking around as I was writing this and it turns out there are about a bajillion different releases of this miniseries starting out with vhs up to a more recent bluray. Turns out that 10hr run time was for tv, as this was released in 5 episodes, each being 2hrs with ads. Various video releases range from 6 to 8hrs. We’re watching the Hallmark/Artisan version from 2000 and the runtime is 417 minutes in full screen.  This was not episodic in we viewed it, but was put together as one big movie.

While I had a lot of fun watching this, I was also glad to take a break after the first disc. 2 3/4 hours was enough for one session.

 

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UP (2009 Movie)

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Oh, boy. I watched this with Mrs B when it came out on bluray back in 2009 and while we both enjoyed it, we haven’t watched it since. We’d been married about a year at that time and how the movie starts hit a little too close to home.

However, 10+ years seems like enough time and after AVP I needed something good, which Pixar has always delivered.

Synopsis is that we see how Carl and Ellie meet, fall in love and grow old together until Ellie passes away. The movie really starts with Carl being a grumpy old man and refusing to sell his house to a developer while massive construction is going on all around him. A boy scout comes to Carl’s door, Russell, and Carl sends him on a snipe hunt to get rid of him. Carl has an altercation with one of the construction people and a court orders him to a retirement home. He uses a million balloons to sail the house away to South America to fulfill the dream that he and Ellie had but never realized.  The complication is that Russell is along for the ride. They make it to the place that Carl wants to go, find a bird that nobody believes exists and meet Carl’s childhood hero, a world renowned adventurer who has been hunting the bird all these years and has intelligent dogs who can speak through electronic collars. It turns into a fight between Carl, Russell and Doug (one of the talking dogs) against the Adventurer and his dogs.  The bad guys are defeated and Carl becomes the male authority figure in Russell’s life. A Happy Ending.

This movie starts out with Carl and Ellie meeting because of their love of adventure. It is done in this colored style that is reminiscent of a black and white movie. Once past the initial meeting, there is almost no dialogue but we see how Carl and Ellie’s life goes on.  I have to admit, it was the most gut wrenching thing (again) and when Ellie passes, I was just sobbing. I was glad no one could see me. I was astounded how Pixar could pack so much intention into scenes lasting only seconds with no dialogue.

Then the movie goes into the main part and we see grumpy old man Carl meeting Russell and it turns into a Buddy movie. I enjoyed the rest of it, but after having my emotional guts torn out in the beginning the impact just wasn’t the same.

I was glad to watch this but suspect it will be another decade before I watch it again.  Not as good as Toy Story or Monster’s Inc, but a solid movie in the Pixar line up.

 

With my reading of the Lord of the Rings ending soon, I’ve decided to watch the extended edition dvds that I own. However, when I was looking at my shelf, I also saw the 10th Kingdom, a miniseries that Mrs B introduced me to.  It is 5 episodes long and would take about 3 posts as well. So your vote for the next three months. Choose wisely (for your own sake!).

 

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AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004 Movie)

51vm6677rflAnyone with the reading skills of a 3rd grader could figure out the basic premise of this movie. But just in case there are any first or second graders who read my blog…..

This is a matchup that fans have wanted for years and years. Aliens fighting Predators, who will come out on top? And will Earth survive?

Quick and dirty synopsis. Weyland Industries finds a hidden pyramid in Antarctica and sends in a team to grab all they can before other corporations make their move. Unknown to anyone, the pyramid is a nesting ground for Aliens and a testing ground for young Predators. If the Predators kill the aliens, they get Predator Cred and Big Boy, err Predator, Pants. If they lose, the whole area gets nuked.  Everyone but one woman gets killed and she teams up with the lone surviving Predator to take down the Alien Queen. Predator dies, Alien dies, Human survives. The movie ends with a chest burster Alien coming out of the dead Predator’s chest, with a Predator set of mandibles, so some sort of Predator/Alien hybrid.

For the record, and to my everlasting shame, I own this on dvd. I really enjoyed it the first time I watched back in the day, as the action was almost non-stop. On this re-watch though, every glaring weakness shone as bright as the sun to me.  I don’t even want to get into specifics, as there are just too many and I don’t want to relive them 😦

This was an Action Movie, but even Action Movies don’t have to be brainless fluff. This wasn’t even fluff though, more like dryer lint. Dryer lint after running a whole load of jock straps through the dryer. Just gross. I’m actually tempted to throw this movie into the trash as I am NEVER going to watch it again.

I realize I haven’t said much, but my goodness, this movie just doesn’t deserve having anything being said about it. Except that there was a sequel, which even I acknowledged upon my first watch that it was one of the worst movies I’d ever watched. It made this movie look like an Oscar Nominee.

Next I’m planning on watching UP. Lashaan mentioned it in his Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020 post. I need a movie that will make me feel all the feelz.

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Superman IV: The Quest for Peas, errr, Peace

Superman_IV_(1987)

 

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was released in 1987 and was co-written by Reeve’s. That should have been enough of a warning to anyone. Of course, Matt warned me that it was a stinker, so I knew going in that I was in for rough weather. And indeed, this movie was bad. It was bad enough that another Superman movie wasn’t made again until 2006. Almost 20 years of stinkitude!

The basic premise is that “everyone” is concerned that Nuclear weapons are going to destroy the world but Superman won’t do anything about it because of his instructions from Krypton not to change the fate of his adopted world. Then a school boy writes to him asking him to save everyone.  At the same time a greedy capitalist buys the Daily Planet and starts turning it into a tabloid while he gives it to his daughter to run.  The daughter falls in love with Clark Kent while Lois is still in love with Superman. Hijinks ensue as Big Blue has to switch from one to the other on a double date.

Supes gets permission from the UN to take all the nuclear weapons from everyone and throw them into the sun. There is where Lex Luthor gets involved. He steals a hair of Superman’s and creates a genetic package that needs the sun’s power to give it life. Luthor installs it on one of the nuclear weapons and when Supes throws it into the sun Nuclear Man is born, quite literally. Luthor reveals him and he and Supes fight, in the city, on the moon and in space. Supes gets scratched by nuclear nails and gets sick and everyone thinks he’s dead.  He comes back and throws Nuclear Man into a nuclear power plant and lights up a whole city while Nuclear Man is consumed.

The movie ends with Superman giving a speech about everyone getting along and realizing we all live on the same planet. Also, Perry White takes out a loan from the bank and buys back the Daily Planet.

 

I actually watched this 3 times to make sure it was as bad as I thought it was. There was no mistake, this was a B-A-A-A-A-D movie.

Hollywood politics dominated the storyline to the point where it wasn’t much of a storyline but a piece of propaganda. Superman taking nuclear weapons away from everyone, though glossed over, made him the worst of tyrants and excusing it by putting the responsibility on the UN’s shoulders was just as bad. That corrupt body of filth has NO power to make such decisions.  (As an aside, just so you know where I stand about the UN, if UN Peacekeepers EVER set foot on American soil on a mission, it is my duty and right as a Citizen of this country to destroy them. No Blue Hats in America!!!!) Ahem….

Helmets belonging to soldiers of the Nigerian army are seen as part of preparations for deployment to Mali, at the Nigerian Army peacekeeping centre in Jaji

Any American wearing one of these on U.S. soil is a TRAITOR and will be treated as such

 

The plot line about the capitalist’s daughter & Clark and Lois & Superman was just ridiculous in the worst way.  It was stupid and silly. Those two words describe most of the movie though.

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I felt bad for this woman, on so many levels

 

Superman and Nuclear Man, oh where do I even start? Nuclear Man goes around the world destroying things, like the Great Wall of China. Superman comes after him and makes video game bleeep noises and undoes all the damage. It was like Superman had Control Z (keyboard shortcut for undo) Vision. Then Superman figures out Nukes is powered by the sun and traps him in an elevator where Nukes immediately curls up in the fetal position. So Superman releases him on the Moon, in the sun. Come on!!!! Then the end where Nuclear Man gets all his energy sucked up by the power plant? I can’t even begin to count how many things are wrong with that, even from just the story point side of things, much less any other point of things.

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Nuclear Man could have been awesome. But he wasn’t

 

By the end of my 3rd watch, I was simply listening to the movie and even then I was rolling my eyes. I really don’t have anything good to say about this and I don’t know whose fault that even is. Was it the directors, the story writers? I don’t know.  Honestly, it was bad enough that I could see this getting the Rifftrax treatment.

Don’t waste your time, period.

 

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Next month I’ve got a choice between Peter Jackson’s extended edition of King Kong or Alien vs Predator.  Feel free to give voice to your choice in the comments or feel free to mock Superman IV. It deserves it!

 

Superman III (1983 Movie)

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So, Superman III with its boring as all get out bluray cover. That barely looks like Christopher Reeve anyway!

This was released in 1983, has no “directors cut” and as far as I know generated ZERO controversy.  Let’s look at an alternate cover, shall we?

 

 

supermanIIIA

 

Now THAT cover does a MUCH better job of showcasing just what kind of movie this is going to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Pryor is an out of work bum whose unemployment benefits have been denied. He sees a computer programming training course on the cover of a book of matches and next thing we know he is working at a computer coding computer. Oh, we get sequence from his training where he makes his computer do something that even the trainer thought was impossible. Thus is set the stage for Pryor’s genius as a computer programmer. He gets his first paycheck and sees that 1/2cent is missing. He wonders where all those 1/2cents goes and programs the computer to put them all into his account. Next payday he gets an extra paycheck for $85K. Of course, this doesn’t go unnoticed by the Big Evil Capitalist running the company but they have no way of tracking who did it. Until Pryor screeches into work driving a new ferrari.

A lot of silliness ensues. Trust me, it isn’t worth typing out. But needless to say, a secret government satellite that can control the weather is involved.

Pryor, under the direction of the Evil Capitalist, creates a supercomputer capable of destroying even Superman. It attacks Superman, Pryor has a change of heart and rescues Supes. Supes gets some super acid and one little canning jar’s worth sends the entire computer system (about a large cave’s worth) crashing into a fiery, lava’y pit of destruction.

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Yep, one little canning jar destroyed all of this!

 

Supes fixes all the problems his silliness caused (synthetic kryptonite was involved) and is once again the world’s hero. The movie ends with Lana Lang moving to Metropolis and working at the same paper as Clarke and Lois, as a secretary.

Now, I had memories of this being silly, campy and almost stupid. I definitely got the silly and campy part right. I think the “stupid” would depend more on just how mean you were feeling at the moment. Pryor was supposed to be comedic and in many ways he was, but it was over the top, rub most people the wrong way funny.

There was one scene where Superman has to fight himself, as he’s possessed by the kryptonite. I thought they did an excellent job and that Reeve did an absolutely fantastic job of showing a mean, brutish, 5 o’clock shadow drunk Superman. He looked mean and animalistic. I’m not one to usually notice an actor’s ability, but between Reeve making Clarke Kent and Superman truly different people and this time around portraying a good and bad Superman, I have to admit that the man was an ACTOR! It was also pretty fun to realize that the actress who plays Lana Lang is the same actress who plays Martha Kent in the tv series Smallville.

This was definitely the campiest of the movies so far. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this but I’d only recommend this to others if they are a huge Superman fan or like watching the acting skills of Christopher Reeve.

 

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Superman II: The Donner Cut (1980 Movie)

220px-supermaniiricharddonnercutI guess that directors and studios having tiffs isn’t a new thing. While Zack Snyder and Warner Brothers parted ways with the recent DC Extended Universe movie franchise, Supes has experienced this kind of panty-twisting before. Hence this version of Superman II.

Most of the differences are in timing and tone. You can tell that this and the first Superman movie were meant to be a two-part story. That wasn’t evident from the theatrical release. In this, the missile that frees Zod and Co was the missile Lex Luthor launched, not a hydrogen bomb in Paris. In fact, that whole terrorist scene was cut from this version, or technically I guess, it was never filmed. Another difference was in how Lois realized Superman and Clark Kent were the same. Her life threatening stunt was different too. She throws herself out of a window on the 30th Floor of the Daily Planet instead of jumping into the river at Niagra Falls.

However, I found one of the biggest changes to be the inclusion of Jor-El as the brain at the Fortress of Solitude.

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Marlon Brando played Jor-El.  This riff on that never fails to amuse me. This is from Mega Mind, an animated movie I plan on reviewing in the future.

I guess there were money/rights issues with Brando and his ego, so the theatrical release cut everything with him out and replaced most of his dialogue with Supe’s mom. If you ever read much of the comics, the scanned brain of Jor-El tended to be an arrogant ass-hat. Well, that was true here for sure. He was a pompous, arrogant control freak who would have been a horrible father. He basically kicks Supes in the yarbos when he returns asking for his powers back. It was down right unpleasant to watch. Him sacrificing himself to give back Kal-El his powers didn’t move me at all like I’m guessing it was supposed to. It made me feel glad that the jerk was going to be gone!

Finally, the ending. In the theatrical release Clark super-kisses Lois so she forgets he’s Superman. In THIS version he flies around the world and turns back time, just like in the first movie. It made me roll my eyes so hard but in many senses it simply tied the first and second movie together even tighter, like it was originally supposed to be.

Overall, I actually enjoyed the theatrical version better. I thought the story flowed better, the lack of Jor-El the ass-hat was a huge plus and while super-kissing is stupid, turning back time AGAIN is even stupider (and if you think stupider isn’t a word, you’re stupider!).  I’d only recommend this movie if you’re a huge Superman movie buff. Or if you want to see Superman grovel before his over-bearing father.

 

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Superman II (1980 Movie)

superman2 Yee haw!  This was a fun movie. A direct sequel to Superman, things start out with a big bang. Terrorists have a hydrogen bomb in the Eiffel Tower and Lois Lane is there investigating. Supes saves the day and takes the bomb into space where it explodes. However, said explosion intersects the Phantom Zone crystal the 3 criminals from the first movie were exiled into. They are set free and head to Earth. Lois Lane figures out Superman is Kent, Supes gives up his powers to be with Lois and the Kryptonians take over Earth. Kent gives up Lois and gets his powers back in the Fortress of Solitude. Lex introduces himself and promises to give them the son of their old enemy Jor-El.  A big fight ensues in Metropolis before Superman flies away when he realizes how many people will die.  Everyone ends up in the Fortress of Solitude where Lex betrays Superman only to have the tables turned. The Kryptonians are turned into ordinary humans and fall to their deaths in the depths of the Fortress.  Superman super kisses Lois and makes her forget knowing he is Clark Kent. The World Is Safe, Once Again.

Yee haww again I say! I had so much fun watching this. It was definitely bordering on the campy in places but considering it was 1980 it was no surprise. The villains were appropriately tight leather’y shininess and they looked bad ass. Having 3 other beings with the same powers as Superman was a fantastic move.  Luthor was comic relief more than anything and his continued demands to be King of Australia had me rolling.

The idea that Superman couldn’t be with Lois unless he was a human was a bit foreign to me, as I’d grown up with Lois and Superman as a couple. Heck, in the Death and Rebirth of Superman storyline in the comics in the 90’s, Clark and Lois were engaged. There were no reasons given, it just was “one of those things”.  It was refreshing to see a hero simply do something without spewing all his inner thoughts to the audience.  When Superman gives up his powers I was expecting a monologue from him or Lois about his duty to the rest of the humanity.  Imagine my pleasant surprise when it simply didn’t happen.

The film’s biggest weakness is what most superhero films suffer from. That is, not being an origin story.  Once the creativity has been expended on the origin story it seems like most movie story writers can’t write themselves out of a paperbag. This also had more in common with the Adam West version of Batman than any of the more modern superhero movies. Actually, if you do the math, it is literally closer to Adam West too, sigh.

You know, reviewing movies is tough. I could never be a movie reviewer. With that being said, I’ll be watching the director’s cut of this movie and reviewing the differences in a week or three.  I wonder if doing this counts as some sort of disability on my part? Maybe I can get money from the government!

 

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Superman: The Extended Edition (1978 Movie)

268x0wThe last time I saw this movie must have been back in the 90’s in highschool when I borrowed a vhs tape from the library.  Whoooo, it’s been a while.

I wanted something to watch that had some hope, some decency, something that lacked the darkness that a lot of more modern movies seem to exude.

This was an origin story and this extended edition was 3hours long. I have very vague memories so I couldn’t really pin down what was added to the movie and if that was good or bad. I think the opening with the destruction of Krypton went on longer.  Marlon Brando was very distinctive and it made my enjoyment of the animated movie Megamind even greater as the main character in that pretends to be the villain’s “space dad” and chooses the appearance of a clownish Jor-El. Just thinking about it makes me laugh.

spacedad

 

There was a long sequence of Clarke Kent as a teenager, played by some actor other than Christopher Reeve. It was actually rather tedious.  Then we move on to Metropolis and Lex Luthor is revealed. Gene Hackman plays a very campy Luthor but he’s still smart. It is really weird seeing a super villain portrayed thusly.  He’s nutso enough to send a nuke to drop California into the ocean so all the property he bought in Nevada will become Lexland but he employs a drunk idiot as a henchman and is more concerned about his wig fitting and feeding his mistress to the lions than in actually being cut throat.  It is just weird 🙂

Reeve made a fantastic Superman and it isn’t any wonder that he came to represent the face of Superman himself for decades. Tall, muscular, black haired, clear eyed, with a charming smile. He was everything that Superman was in the comics. It was great to see Reeve switch between Superman and Kent. His voice subtly changed, his posture and even his facial expressions. He really was 2 different people.

I mentioned at the beginning the desire for a lack of darkness. I definitely got that in this movie. Superman isn’t soul searching, wracked with angst and inner turmoil. He’s been told that he has a purpose, from a young age. From both his human father, Jonathan Kent and his Space Dad (hahahahahaa) Jor-El, he has been assured that his life matters in a greater scheme of things. Neither father can tell him WHAT that purpose is, but that gives him something to strive for. It made me realize how hopeless our world has become in the last 40 years.  A whole generation, or two, has grown up being indoctrinated that they are nothing but a speck of dust, that they are an accident, that they not only aren’t significant but that they are insignificant and that their very existence is pointless. It is no wonder suicide rates are increasing, not in number alone but in percentages.  That darkness of the soul is missing from this movie. It was refreshing and really nice to just hear someone tell another person that they have meaning. Our world needs more of that.

The Superman franchise went on to spawn 3 more movies.  I watched up to III back in highschool and I’m seriously thinking about watching all 4 over the next couple of months. I really have no idea what the quality of the sequels will turn out to be. Wish me luck.

 

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Death Wish VS Death Wish VS Death Wish

Since I just recently read Death Wish after having watched the reboot with Bruce Willis and then the original movie with Charles Bronson, I figured I’d do a VERSUS post much like I did for the Bourne Identity.   I’ll be doing them in the order I imbibed them. I don’t think I need to say this, BUT, spoilers? I mean, you won’t “need’ to watch or read after this. You know my style 😀

And this is going to be like 3 reviews all packed into one post, plus commentary, so I expect this will be lengthier than normal.

 

deathwish2018

First up is the 2018 reboot starring Bruce Willis. I’d avoided the original movie because Charles Bronson’s level of violence disturbed even me, from the bits and pieces I’d seen over the years. However, I really like Bruce Willis as an actor, all the way from Die Hard to RED. It was on Prime for free so I figured I’d watch it.

Paul Kersey is a doctor in Chicago. He gets into an altercation with another parent at a soccer game but refuses to get physical with the other guy. This shows how “pacifistic and liberal” he is.  Then one day when he gets his car valeted at an expensive restaurant the valet steals his address and later that week breaks into the house with 2 other men. Only the wife and teen daughter are home. I didn’t know what level of violence or what type of violence was going to be here so I was a bit cringey. Thankfully, while there is some innuendo from one of the creeps, the whole focus was the burglary. The daughter, who has been taking krav maga (the Israeli Defense Force’s official martial art) fights back and it ends with the daughter and mother getting shot. The wife dies and the daughter is in a coma in the hospital. The rest of the movie is about Willis finding a gun and suddenly being willing to use it. He tracks down the 3 killers, executes them and then goes after some drug dealers. He is also going after the boss of the 3 killers. The boss man ends up sending a hit squad to Willis’ house and everything goes down. The police were on the track of the “vigilante” and with this attack Willis pins that on the mob boss guy.  He then gives up on his vigilante attack since the boss man is dead and his daughter is awake and ok.

I enjoyed this a lot more than I was expecting. Willis as the Everyman turned Vigilante was decent but I had to roll my eyes in several places. First was the “I won’t fight you so I’m a liberal” scene. That wasn’t being a pussy liberal, just showing self control. I actually found Willis’s willingness to call the other guy out but not to make it physical to be very manly.  The housebreaking scene was cringey, like I said, because I didn’t know where it was going to go. This is a rated R movie and I knew that was for violence. It was almost a relief to me when burglary goes awry and the guns came out. They also did a pull away and only showed bullet flashes through curtains through a window, so nothing graphic. Then the movie went full on action film. John Wick, errr, I mean Paul Kirsey finds a gun from a drug patient who dies and magically finds out one of the guys who killed his wife. He shoots at a signpost at night and over the course of a week or a month magically becomes Mr Marksman. Then he tracks down and kills scumbags. He gets hurt, the police are after him, his brother-in-law thinks he might be the vigilante. There is a lot of tv talk show chatter and the movie gives full reign to the brain dead fluff heads who talk without thinking. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the tip of the hat to the psychological aspect so prevalent in the book. Everything is wrapped up pretty good as Paul gives up being the vigilante and takes his daughter to college. The movie ends with some jerk doing a purse snatch right in front of Willis and Willis making eye  contact with the guy and pointing his hand and finger at him like a gun.

A decent action flick if you like amateurs doing violent things. Willis has presence and is competent without being a Gary Stu. His brother-in-law, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, does a great job of showing just how messed up Paul Kersey becomes during the movie. Glad I watched it for free on Prime but probably won’t ever re-watch it.

 

deathwish1980

Next we have the 1974 movie starring Charles Bronson. Bronson was a 70’s and early 80’s staple actor in a lot of violent movies. He was a tough guy and his craggy, creased face showed a tired, careworn visage that went well with most of his characters.

In this movie Paul Kersey is an architect in New York City. He works for a big firm that specializes in high price, low rent tenement buildings. Paul has vocally stated he’s against such projects and wants to build affordable, decent buildings, thus establishing his liberal credentials. His wife and married daughter are out grocery shopping and have the groceries delivered. Some drug addicts pretend to be the delivery guy and break in, looking for money for drugs. When they don’t find anything, the prepare to take payment in other ways. The mother fights back and one of the thugs shoves her away. She hits her head on a table and dies. The thugs get scared and run away. Paul is called by his son-in-law and meets him at the hospital. His wife is pronounced dead on arrival and his daughter, while alive and unhurt is experiencing shock. She eventually goes to therapy, where she doesn’t respond and ends up in a sanatorium for the insane. Paul is distraught but eventually goes back to work to get back “to normal”. One of the clients is from Arizona and Paul has to talk a trip out west to go over their books. He becomes friendly with the client and the client gives him a pistol which he takes back to New York City. He ends up killing a druggy who tries to rob him and two young men on a subway. He gets wounded and the cops are on his trail.  Eventually the cops make him a deal, to leave New York City and they’ll make sure his run as a vigilante never becomes public. He goes to work in Chicago and the movie ends with him helping a young woman who was being harassed by some thugs. Paul points his fingers at the thugs like a gun and the movie ends.

After the 2018 movie, I was expecting a Charles Bronson version. The home breaking scene was a bit more violent than the 2018 version and the sexual assault, while not concluded or graphic, was definitely there. I was a bit more prepared for it so I wasn’t feeling cringey like I was with the first movie. Definitely something to be aware of though if you do watch it.

This was not an action/adventure movie. It was a lot more psychological than the reboot and Charles Bronson was great as the tortured husband and father realizing how blindly he’d been going through life. Of course, being Charles Bronson, he really brings the anger and the rage to the screen. He’s really good at showing an amateur doing his best to go against his very own nature.  The ending with him relocating to Chicago and finger gunning the punks was great. I can see why the reboot copied that to a tee.

Where Bruce Willis was a man on a mission of revenge, in this Charles Bronson is just lashing out against the helplessness that a man in a city like New York is destined to feel. Several of the side characters do a lot of talking and it’s all about the rights and responsibility that a man must take hold of in a free country. I felt like I was watching a movie on The Rights of Man. And not some social justice warrior crap but just what those rights actually require of someone to take a hold of them.  Now I was ready to read the book.

 

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Then we had this little masterpiece. My review, with all of it’s attendant thoughts can be found HERE.

Basically, this was a psychological book. It was at one end of the spectrum, the 2018 movie was on the action/adventure side and the 1974 bridged the gap. I’m glad to have seen and read all 3 different versions. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses but I found the book to be the most solid and the only one I’d re-visit in several years. The movies I don’t ever plan on re-watching, that is for sure.

 

 

 

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