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‘Casino Royale’- 10 Years Later. Celebrating James Bond 007

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It’s been awhile! Earlier this week, I realized something that made me feel a little old. ‘Casino Royale’ was released 10 years ago.

It’s not really a big deal as far as the franchise goes. There are 24 movies currently. Every movie in the series has some kind of anniversary every year. But I wanted to talk about this one in particular because, for me- this is it. This is the Bond movie that defines my fandom.

Before this movie came out, I was a pretty casual Bond fan. I would catch a movie every now and again if there was a Bond-a-Thon on whatever channels played them. I didn’t know who the different actors were, how many movies were actually out there, or anything like that. It seemed like there were hundreds, and to watch them all would be a completely impossible task.

I think the main interest I had with 007 as a kid though came out of the video games. Goldeneye was all the rage but I never got to play it since I had a Playstation, and not an N64. But when I was 9 or 10 I had a game called ‘Agent Under Fire’ for the original Xbox. This game was the shit, and I have a lot of fond memories of it. As a matter of fact, my first all-nighter was because of that game. My friends and I would play it from dusk until dawn at every sleepover we had. The same energy went to ‘Nightfire’ with my friends and I. Hours upon hours were spent with these games.

This is a reason I have always labeled Pierce Brosnan as being the video game-era Bond. In all seriousness, the guy was a great Bond, but he only really had one movie that I would label as “great” (Goldeneye), and the rest of them just kind of declined with each film. While they were all still enjoyable, it was the games that came out during his era that kept Bond relevant.

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In 2006, ‘Casino Royale’ was released. I was excited, and by this point in time, I had at least seen enough older Bond movies to understand the gist of it all. I knew each movie (and game) started with the gun barrel sequence. I knew there was always a title sequence with the dancing silhouettes, and the martini’s, and the girls, and the cars, and the gadgets, and the sometimes over-the-top villains. I knew what I was in for, and expected it to be just like all the others I had seen here and there.

Nope. The movie started right away and I noticed something about it was different. A few seconds in, I realized there wasn’t a gun barrel sequence. But then right at the end of the black and white bathroom fight, Daniel Craig swept right around and shot the camera, making that intro scene kind of an origin story for that famous sequence. For some reason it gave me chills. From that point on, I was hooked. The opening titles with Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” was incredible, and then right after that they cut to the parkour chase.

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Everything about this was so crazy and so visceral. And that pretty much defines all of the action in ‘Casino Royale’. It gets so ridiculously over-the-top at times, but it still maintains such a heightened level of realism. It’s not like the motorcycle chase in ‘Mission:Impossible 2’ where, yeah… it’s awesome…but it’s also laughable. The same could be said about many of the sequences in Pierce Brosnan’s movies, especially ‘Die Another Day’. When action is over-the-top but maintains 110% of its realism, that’s perfect action to me.

The action was one thing, but the emphasis on character is something that really shines here. For decades, James Bond was basically just his very own stereotype. He was always just this suave dude who loved martinis, women, cars, gambling, and being a cold-blooded killer with a license to kill. His ENTIRE purpose as a character in every film was to just get the job done, and to make sure all of these trademarks were placed at one point or another.

This was never an issue, just to make that clear. The producers knew what worked, and they kept it going for decades. However, after 20 movies, it was probably growing a bit stale for many people. The goal of ‘Casino Royale’ was to make things a little different. It still would abide by the same traditions, but they’d be flipped over. This was the first time I ever saw James Bond as a real human being, as opposed to a stereotypical spy who was there just defeat the villain and his evil scheme. This Bond is rugged, and ends up falling in love towards the end of the movie. This was done in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ in 1969, however, after that movie, the death of Bond’s loved one was hardly followed up on. ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ came out right after, and instead of them making it a revenge story, it went right back to being Spy vs. Scheme.

‘Quantum of Solace’ may not be one of the better Bond films. But at least it followed up on these themes and character motives from the previous movie. I have to give credit where credit is due. ‘Casino’ and ‘Quantum’ make for a very well done two-part story. To watch ‘Quantum’ on its own is a disappointment. But to watch these two movies back to back is fantastic. I highly recommend it.

I could talk at greater length about my love for ‘Casino Royale’. But the real purpose of this post is for me to just celebrate James Bond as a franchise. This 2006 reboot is without a doubt, my favorite Bond movie of all time. It’s a phenomenal action movie, and took Bond as a character to places we had never seen. But above all of this, it’s the Bond movie that brought me from being a casual fan, to a die hard lover. Immediately after seeing this movie, I saw it again the next day. And right after that, I made it my goal to explore the entire rich history of the James Bond film franchise.

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TOP FIVE JAMES BOND FILMS:

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#5. ‘Licence to Kill’

For me, this isn’t just one of my personal favorites, but one that I would also label as being THEE MOST UNDER-RATED of them all. ‘Licence to Kill’ was ahead of its time. The amount of grittiness in this movie parallels what we wouldn’t see in another Bond movie again until 2006. It was most likely done this way due to the success of ‘Die Hard’, which moved the action genre away from being campy. But James Bond had been campy for years. The abrupt change must have angered a lot of people, and the release date might have also had something to do with the movie not making much money. Its competition was ‘Lethal Weapon 2’, ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’, and… ‘Batman’. So yeah.

One could point fingers all day to why this movie wasn’t successful, but what bothers me more is that it’s STILL very over-looked. Timothy Dalton plays an excellent Bond, and it’s really a shame we didn’t get to see him play the part at least one more time. It’s far better than his other movie, ‘The Living Daylights’, which I would label as a very “middle of the road” Bond movie. Robert Davi plays an excellent villain, and Benicio Del Toro plays a terrific henchman. ‘Licence to Kill’ offers a level of violence that’s very rare for a Bond film, and features some really great moments.

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#4. ‘Goldfinger’

I don’t see how one couldn’t put this one in their Top 5. It’s just classic. ‘Dr. No’ and ‘From Russia With Love’ may have been the ones that started it all, but it wasn’t until ‘Goldfinger’ where you notice that the traditional formulas of a Bond movie are sturdy and in place for good.

Even though this movie is clearly old, this one remains my personal favorite of the Connery movies because it doesn’t actually feel as dated as his others. I feel that ‘Dr. No’ and ‘From Russia’ have some issues finding their footing, which is fine as they were the first movies. ‘Thunderball’ gets very slow in many areas, ‘You Only Live Twice’ and ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ really begin to show some cheese that would end up being present for the entire Moore-era. Not to say those movies aren’t good or don’t have their moments. They do. But ‘Goldfinger’ is just simple, and very to the point. No cringe-worthy cheesiness, no slow points, and no trouble finding balance. If there’s one movie that sets the standard of what any Bond movie should be, it’s this one.

goldeneye-poster#3. ‘Goldeneye’

This movie is just so much damn fun! It’s definitely very 90’s, so in some areas, it feels a bit dated and cheesy. At the same time though, that 90’s cheese just adds to the enjoyment.

Pierce Brosnan really brings his own, and is basically a perfect balance of Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton. His other movies never really hit the heights that this one did, but Pierce always remained the saving grace no matter how ridiculous or convoluted those films got.

It’s not only a good movie, but its video game counterpart had a huge hand in revolutionizing first-person shooters, and addicting multiplayer game play. That’s gotta count for something.

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#2. ‘Skyfall’

Much like how ‘Casino Royale’ deviated from what was always “natural” in a Bond movie, this one did it too, however it actually brought many of the classic traditions back. We see a younger Q, which makes sense in the world we live in now. Young people are (generally speaking) way better with technology than older people. A new Moneypenny appears, there’s a tale of two M’s, and there is a fantastic classic villain featured in this.

It still tackles Bond being a real human being. You see him bent out of shape, and this just adds to the story. The movie also delves very deep for Judi Dench’s ‘M’. She’s actually the Bond girl of this movie if you really think about it too. Instead of seeing Bond go on his adventure with a romantic love-interest by his side, we get to see more of a mother and son dynamic instead.

It makes a perfect balance of new and old. If you took ‘Casino Royale’ and blended it with some of the best (more formulaic) Bond movies of the past, you get ‘Skyfall’. The only reason this doesn’t rank in at #1 for me is because ‘Casino Royale’ just meant more to me as a Bond fan.

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#1. ‘Casino Royale’

No need to be redundant here.

But now let’s go into another area. There are A LOT of Bond movie. Even though I generally think that a majority of them are enjoyable, there are ones that just simply aren’t worth it.

Bottom Three Worst James Bond Films:

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#3. ‘A View to a Kill’

Alright. This one isn’t necessarily HORRIBLE. There are good things in there. Christopher Walken plays a pretty good villain, the Duran Duran theme is one of the best, and it sticks to a pretty safe and standard formula that looks good on paper.

But the thing that I just can’t get past, and the reason for why it actually makes it into my Bottom Worst- is Roger Moore’s age. I thought he was too old to be Bond in the two movies before this. By the time one rolls around to this movie, it just becomes a joke.

So even though there are elements of a good Bond movie here, it becomes a borderline parody when you see an old Grandpa doing the things that Timothy Dalton should have been doing at this point. It also doesn’t help that the girl is so young either. It just comes off as creepy. You can watch it and still enjoy it, but it is insanely hard for me to make any real recommendation to view it.

If you want a Bond parody, watch Austin Powers.

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#2.’Moonraker’

Speaking of parodies, here’s another one. Hell, much like ‘A View to a Kill’, this movie also has moments. In fact, the first hour altogether isn’t all that bad. It’s really similar to ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, which is a great Bond movie. It even has Jaws as the henchman again!

But then they go to space and it’s just so stupid…

Any redeeming quality this movie does have can easily be found in literally any Bond movie before or after this one. So don’t bother.

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#1. ‘For Your Eyes Only’

THIS MOVIE SUCKS!!!

I’m really sorry that every movie in my “Worst” list all starred Roger Moore. But I cannot help that he had arguably the worst movies in the whole franchise.

I’ve heard people say that this Bond movie was the only one that showed Roger Moore with an edge, and that’s why they liked it…

…where?

There is one scene where he kicks a car off a cliff with a bad guy inside, and that is it. That’s the only cool scene, and the only scene where I see Moore with an “edge”.

It’s an entirely boring movie, and is one long chase scene after another. There are Bond movies that are gritty and fun. There are ones that are super cheesy, but still fun. This one is just flat out boring, and to me… that is the biggest crime a Bond film can ever commit.

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With all of that out of the way, I would like to point out a few more movies in this franchise that I personally feel are under-rated.

‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ is an absolute cheesy blast. I see this movie listed towards the bottom in a lot of rankings, but I personally feel there is a lot to enjoy about it. Christopher Lee as Scaramanga is awesome. It’s filled with tension throughout, especially with the fun house opening and climax, and there’s a nice amount of humor. I’m not saying the movie is amazing, I just think it gets a lot of undeserved flack.

‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ tends to be pushed away by many people, mostly because it was George Lazenby’s one and only movie. He actually did a pretty great job filling in for Connery, and I feel it’s a shame we didn’t get to see him again. The movie itself is very good, even if it’s a bit long. I have seen that this movie has been getting more and more recognition lately, so I am happy to see that.

Lastly, as I briefly mentioned before- ‘Quantum of Solace’. It is by no means a great movie. There are a lot of issues with pacing, editing, thin plot, etc. However, to be fair, it was made during the Writer’s Strike in 2008. But aside from that, I can’t express enough that ‘Quantum’ is a very solid second act to ‘Casino Royale’. It’s not that good as a standalone Bond movie, but it is pretty good if you watch these two movies as a double feature. Had the strike in ’08 not happened, the movie probably would have stood on its own a little better. But they managed to at least continue the threads that were left by ‘Royale’ to make a solid revenge movie.

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I don’t think any Bond film could be worse than the ones I listed in my Bottom Worst, and my Top Five is simply the “best of the best”, to my own personal preference. Everything that comes in-between are all pretty decent. It’d be hard for me to rank many of them, as I feel that many are on par with one another. ‘Spectre’ may not be as good as ‘Skyfall’, or ‘Casino Royale’, but I would definitely put it in the same category as ‘The Living Daylights’, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, or ‘Live and Let Die’. This franchise is filled with many good-to-great action films that are all excellent to pass the time with.

I hope you all enjoyed reading my editorial on the James Bond franchise. I’d love to know what some of your favorites/least favorites are in the comments!

Happy 10 Years ‘Casino Royale’!!!

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What I’ve Seen Lately – August 2016

Starting with what I’ve seen in theaters:

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‘Star Trek Beyond’

The third installment in the new ‘Kelvin Timeline’ series of Star Trek movies might have been the closest to the original television show we’ve gotten yet. In 2009, I fell in love with the first film that J.J. Abrams directed. I was never really into the franchise before then, but that movie did it. I remember going back to all the old movies that summer and giving them a watch, and every once and awhile, I’ll give the original 60’s show a watch too. ‘Into Darkness’ was a very well done sequel, even if it did rip-off ‘Wrath of Khan’ a bit.

I think that ‘Star Trek Beyond’ was the most fun of the three. The first two films focused heavily on the relationship between Kirk and Spock. This one put the focus on the rest of the crew, and I loved this. Everyone was split off into groups or pairs for a good chunk of this movie, and it was a wise move. We got to see Spock and Bones in the way the original series always touched on. Their banter was excellent. And I also loved the chemistry between Scotty and newcomer alien Jaylah. Can never complain about more Simon Pegg!

Speaking of Simon Pegg: he was one of the writers of this movie and that was another big plus. The script was tight, and everything felt very well written.

There was some room for improvement though. The villain was a bit weak sauce, especially for Idris Elba being in the role. The plot itself was also a little basic as far as what some other Trek movies have done in the past. Then again, there have been multiple that feel weaker than the average television episode too. I’m looking at you ‘Star Trek Insurrection’! But you can tell they were trying to focus on getting other areas right. So these things were not that big a deal.

Being that this came out during Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, I couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable Star Trek movie. There were a lot of great, subtle nods to the franchise history, and heart-warming tributes to Anton Yelchin, Leonard Nimoy, and the rest of the original cast who are either still with us or passed long ago.

I actually urge everyone to go see it. It’s under-performing to an extent I couldn’t even fathom and it’s a HUGE shame. Go see it! Support Star Trek! These are actually great movies, and you don’t have to know everything about the franchise to enjoy these new ones. I’d love to see more of these made so please, go out and see this!

Recommended? Yes. Go!

 

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‘JASON BOURNE’

Honestly, if you liked the first three, you’ll like this one too. It does have this “greatest hits” type of feeling to it, and is basically the same movie as ‘The Bourne Supremacy’, but it was just so cool seeing Bourne back after the disappointing ‘Legacy’ with Jeremy Renner.

This got more mixed reviews, but rightfully so. It’s not exactly a necessary sequel. The story still should have ended with ‘Ultimatum’, but if their goal is to keep making these, or to at least make a few more, this was a good movie to bring it back from a 9-year absence.

Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons was horrendous though. She was perfectly fine in the other movies, but here… I have never seen such horrible line delivery in my life.

Thankfully, I felt that everything else was great. Classic Bourne action, cool supporting characters, and of course “Extreme Ways” by Moby. The action is very shaky, but that’s expected with a Bourne movie. And to be honest, I think director Paul Greengrass uses it quit effectively.

I wanna see more, but I do think it’s time to move the story forward, and not continue to retread everything that’s come before. I would like them to actually tie ‘Legacy’ into everything. The only reason that movie wasn’t that great was because of how irrelevant it was. It’d be sweet to have Matt Damon and Jeremy Renner team up.

Recommended? If you’re a fan of the original trilogy, yes. If shaky-cam bothers you or you never really got into this series in the first place, probably not.

 

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‘Suicide Squad’

Yup, here we go. When I saw how divisive this movie was, I was instantly disappointed before even seeing it. As I said in my Revisiting ‘Batman v Superman’ post, I mentioned that DC really needs to chill, and not try so damn hard to catch up with Marvel.

I still stand by that statement after seeing this movie. Now to be fair, ‘Suicide Squad’ was in the same development time frame as BvS, so it only makes sense that if one movie had studio related issues, the other one probably would as well.

The movie is a HUGE mess. The plot makes zero sense, and the villain… oh man. Enchantress might be one of the worst villains I’ve ever seen put to screen. That’s not an exaggeration.

However- the characters are phenomenal and their interactions throughout the film is immensely entertaining. Will Smith and Margot Robbie were fantastic as Deadshot and Harley Quinn, and I’d love to see more of them in future DC movies. The action itself was also very fun.

All in all, I think it’s a perfectly fine movie. But DC does need to step their game up with ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Justice League’ if they plan on their universe having longevity.

Recommended? Sure, but I think DC made this movie too soon. They’re trying to build a universe, and jumping right to this more obscure type of movie ended up being a poor decision.

 

what I've streamed

             What I’ve Streamed/Rented

 

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‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’

This was actually pretty decent. A great mix of laughter and seriousness, and even though I found the plot to be lacking, the movie itself was interesting and kind of educational.

Tina Fey is pretty good as usual, and this featured a nice cast all around which I was not expecting.

Recommended? Sure!

 

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‘Vacation’

I suppose this was about as good as ‘European Vacation’, and funnier than ‘Vegas Vacation’, if I’m to make comparisons. Still though, this could have been a fantastic comedy, but you could tell they were trying too hard.

The original Vacation movies are all ludicrous. Let’s not fool ourselves. But they get a pass for all the ridiculous stuff because they’re 80’s movies.

When this movie wasn’t trying too hard to be an outlandish 80’s comedy, it actually worked. But there were so many times where the humor in this felt way too forced.

Overall, I must admit that a good junk of this movie was pretty funny. However, there were still so many moments that didn’t work at all. Not every line of dialogue in a comedy has to be funny. If you can’t come up with something that will make the audience laugh, leave it be and let that particular line just be a normal traditional line of dialogue. Don’t force it.

Recommended? As a turn your brain off comedy, perhaps. It has its moments. If you’ve never been a fan of the Vacation movies though… stay away.

 

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‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’

Okay I have a confession. I actually dig the first three Transformers movies. The first one is actually pretty sweet. The second, not so much. It’s a terrible movie actually, but the action makes up for it, at least for me. The third was a step in a better direction, and almost came close to the enjoyment level I had with the first.

I avoided this 4th one (until recently) because I had heard it was just more of the same and was more like the quality of the 2nd movie. So I streamed it on Hulu recently and…yeah, I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it in theaters or anything.

It actually took me two separate days to watch this whole thing. How sad is that? I expected the plot to be dumb, and it was. But unlike the 2nd one, the action didn’t even make up for anything else. This was just all around dumb, and I had negative amounts of fun with this.

I shouldn’t even be talking about it anymore.

Recommended? Nah dude.

 

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‘Begin Again’

Alright this was one of those movies where it’s your girlfriend’s turn to pick the movie of the night and you just kinda sit there and go with it.

But in all honesty, this was a delight. I really dug this. Both Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo were awesome and it’s just one of those movies that’s there to make you feel good.

The characters and their decisions were all very realistic, which can be rare for a film like this. And I actually really liked the narrative structure this movie went with. It’s a small movie, but it’s really well-done.

Recommended? Surprisingly, yeah!

 

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‘Edge of Tomorrow’

I saved the best for last. I’m kicking myself for not seeing this movie sooner.

To everyone that complains that we don’t get anything original anymore and you haven’t seen this, you are a part of the problem. I don’t even have that complaint, but I’m still mad at myself for letting this one sit on my watch list for two whole years.

This movie is straight-up AWESOME. Think of ‘Groundhogs Day’ but on steroids with a military fighting aliens plot.

Recommended? I can’t recommend it enough!!!
Please check it out as soon as you get the chance. It’s REALLY REALLY GOOD!

 

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Revisiting ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’- The Ultimate Edition

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Now I’ve already reviewed this movie, so I don’t plan on getting into my overall thoughts again in this post. If you read my original review of BvS, you might remember that I didn’t hate or love the movie. I thought it was heavily flawed, but still really enjoyable.

Word came out about a Director’s Cut for this film right at the time it was released in theaters. It was said it would be a 3-hour, R-rated cut of the movie. This was honestly one of the first signs of what mediocrity the studio was about to put into the cinema.

Most problems that many people had with the theatrical cut of this movie, I felt were pretty minuscule, or even stupid. I don’t care that Batman killed. They at least gave reason for it, and I’m sure it’ll be explored more in future films. Besides, he killed in the older movies too and people didn’t bitch about it then! If you don’t believe me, then here. I also didn’t care that Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex was weird and not like the comics. Who cares? It’s the portrayal they chose, and just a new version to add to the lore.

What I did have a major problem with though was the editing and pacing, especially during the first hour or so. It was a gigantic mess.

The reason I’m writing this is because I now truly believe that thanks to this Ultimate Edition, ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ has gone from an okay movie, to a pretty GREAT one.

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One of the first things I’d like to point out in this version is: MORE CLARK KENT!

The theatrical cut felt like a Batman movie that was trying really hard to be a Superman movie, but just couldn’t quite get there. The “Ultimate Edition” spends a lot more time with Clark, investigating Batman, and this was needed. It was like Warner Bros. was afraid of putting in too much Superman/Clark because they’ve had more success with Batman. Yeah, that’s true, but don’t diminish the role if it hurts the overall story!

Seeing Clark Kent trying to unravel information on the Batman, as the reporter he is, was a joy to watch. These added/extended scenes improved on two huge things:

  1. The character of Superman/Clark Kent is far more fleshed out. Superman uses his journalist alter-ego to benefit his responsibilities as a hero. It’s not just a day job that pays his bills.
  2. You see a tremendous impression of fear that the Batman gives to Gotham. He’s almost mythical, and he basically runs the city because of how much people fear him.batman-v-superman-ultimate-edition-image-3

Next up: The Africa sub-plot

Why was this shortened? Or better yet, why was it even there in the first place if they were just going to glaze over the actual points?

The entire point of this Africa scene at the start of the movie left me completely lost for the first hour or so with the theatrical version. It just felt like a random scene that served no purpose. But as the movie kept going, I kept having this feeling that I missed some kind of major detail. Turns out, it’s because every scene with Lois Lane, every scene with Lex Luthor, and every scene with the Senate- drew from this event in Africa.

Restoring this full scene showed me that there definitely was something missing. Why was there a group of people that were so against Superman? Oh, because he was actually framed for MURDER. But you wouldn’t have known that if you weren’t watching this Ultimate Edition.

What does this one, simple thing do for the movie? Well, I just mentioned one thing. It gave reason for people across the globe to be skeptical of Superman. But more importantly, this event was staged. There is a false hate on the character and now he has to carry on living with the consequences of something he didn’t even do. Furthermore, this added a lot to the motivations of Lex Luthor, which I thought were very underdeveloped in the theatrical cut. Here, you see what he’s doing.

I still didn’t understand WHY Lex was doing what he was doing. It may have been for financial gain, or trying to prove some other thing, I really don’t know. That is one flaw in the movie that still wasn’t fixed by this edition. BUT, his character can be written off as just simply crazy, so it doesn’t bother me all that much.

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To shorten things up, I’ll just say that the rest of this version outside of the first hour is pretty much the same as it was in the theatrical, but it extended a few other scenes to help strengthen certain reasoning. An extension off the Africa subplot sees Lois Lane taking a bullet to S.T.A.R. Labs, justifying that the whole thing in Africa was in fact overseen by LexCorp. It gave Lois’s role more reason story-wise, instead of just “being there” like she was in the original cut. Just certain little tid-bits like this that made other elements make more sense.

Then there are some extended action moments, extra lines of dialogue, stuff like that… Nothing that made it better or worse, but just added more that was still nice to see. Like at the end there’s a scene where Batman tells Luthor he’s going to be placed in Arkham Asylum. It doesn’t add much, but it’s just a cool bit of fan service that didn’t need to be cut if it was already in the original script.

One other quick thing I’d like to add that I didn’t mention in my previous review either, is how amazing the dialogue actually is in this movie. I probably didn’t notice it as much the first time given that the context of certain lines probably didn’t make that much sense in the original cut… But here, I felt that the dialogue really shinned because the placement of certain lines were now in the better areas where they belonged.

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It’s really apparent that this was the cut they wanted to release in theaters but then got scared of the 3 hour run time. So then they quickly trimmed off whatever fat they possibly could. Unfortunately a lot of the finished edit didn’t make a lot of sense in the first hour, and it effected the rest of the movie. I really think that’s a major reason it got such bad reviews. Fixing the first hour of this movie made all the difference in the world in my opinion.

There are still a couple of gripes I have with the movie itself that the Ultimate Edition didn’t fix. I still felt like the whole fight with Batman and Superman ended weird. It was totally sweet to watch and I love the fight itself, but how they just made up really quickly after Clark saying “Save Martha!” was unbelievable. I don’t mind that it was the shared name that turned Bruce away from killing him, it was more of just how they handled it afterwards. He was literally about to murder him and then they acted like they were old friends about to go for a beer. I would have liked to see some continued tension between the two of them right up until the moment Superman actually died.

My last issue is something that was just never going to change. While I like the movie overall, it just did too damn much, even in the 3 hours it had. It was a Man of Steel sequel, an adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, a Justice League set-up, and an adaptation of The Death of Superman- all in one movie. I just can’t help but feel that DC rushed this universe. Plain and simple. Hopefully things will feel a little less crammed now that this movie is out of the way, and we have a standalone Wonder Woman movie before Justice League. Warner Bros. just needs to breathe. Marvel is already WAY ahead of them anyways. There’s just no reason for them to rush anything. Just focus on making good, uncluttered movies.

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With all of that said- THIS IS THE VERSION OF BVS TO WATCH!!! I will never go back and watch the theatrical cut again. This is the definitive version, and I’m sure it will be for a lot of people. It’s a shame that Warner Bros. didn’t do a better job editing together something a little more cohesive in the first place, but I’m glad we have this now. I urge everyone to check this out as soon as you get the chance.

I gave the theatrical version of this movie a B-. This version fixed a huge reason I bumped it down almost an entire letter grade in the first place. It was just the horrendous editing and pacing of the first act. ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is actually pretty awesome for what it tried to do and what it did end up accomplishing. Even if it was a weird decision to jump into this territory so quickly.

 

Rating: B+

 

 

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‘Rogue One’ Trailer Thoughts

 

I love the look of the movie, and how it seems like a small story in a large landscape. It’s going to be a good film, there’s no doubt in my mind. Also, speaking of landscapes and overall looks: this is hands down the best cinematography in any Star Wars movie to date. Holy Kenobi this movie looks beautiful! We’re really going to feel the large scale of these cruisers, planets, and most importantly, the Death Star. I can’t wait to see all of this on the big screen.

With all of that said, the trailer itself didn’t do much for me as far as making me MORE excited like the previous one did, as well as all of the Force Awakens trailers. I don’t need to see more necessarily, but this to me just felt like an extended tv spot of things we’ve seen before than it did an actual new trailer. There were lots of new shots, but they just didn’t feel new for some reason. The editing of it felt like it was just mimicking the style of the 3rd Force Awakens trailer too. It was like a fan made remix where they take footage of another movie and place it in the same style of the most current trailer. It didn’t feel like its own thing to me, and even though I liked what I saw, I can’t say I liked HOW I saw it. It just felt too…plain.

The Vader shot felt like it was only there to let casual movie-goers know what timeline this is in. I think it would have been nice to either hear him speak one line of dialogue or slaughter a Rebel with his saber to give more of a “Chewie we’re home” moment. I was expecting to feel like “Oh damn it’s Darth Fricken Vader”! But instead it was like “hey there’s Vader, he’s in this”. I’m hoping further marketing gives us just a little taste of what he might do.

I just worry that the movie might end up being all action and style over substance and feel a little vanilla. I can’t explain why, but I get the sense of ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ after watching this trailer. ‘Order of the Phoenix’ is a movie (to me) that’s not bad, but not anything great either. It’s just there. You watch it, it’s done, and you realize that even though it was a decent flick, it didn’t really add to much of the story before or after. I never dread watching it again when I have my annual Harry Potter marathon, but I also would be fine napping through it. Another quick reason this trailer gave me that sense is because it’s directed by Gareth Edwards. I enjoyed his ‘Godzilla’ reboot… it was cool. But it also felt like it could have been so much more. I’m still looking forward to more Godzilla movies, I just felt like the first one did the bare minimum to get a new franchise going. I’m not saying ‘Rogue One’ will be totally vanilla, but this one trailer reflected that for me and that’s just how I currently feel.

I’m still heavily looking forward to this movie. And even if it does turn out to be just “okay” story-wise, that’s totally fine. It’s a one-off, and it can’t possibly be as bad as Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones. I understand I’m being a little harsh, it’s just one trailer that left me with the same excitement level I had before watching it. That’s all I’m really trying to get at. It should still be a very good movie, I would just like for the first anthology movie to be GREAT so that they have more of a reason to keep making them. I just wasn’t all that into this particular footage outside of the glamorous shots. But then again, it’s not trying to be sold to me. I’m a huge Star Wars nerd and will be seeing this opening night no matter what.

I’m hoping that this excited casual fans who were more or less unaware of this movie and/or where it falls in the timeline. I think it’s important that people know what’s going on with this series so they don’t walk into a movie confused as hell about why they don’t see Rey, Finn, BB-8, or Kylo. So in that regard, I think this trailer did do it’s job trying to market it correctly.

 

125 days until ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ as of writing this!

 

 

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The Wrath of the Liebster Award Nominations

Proud to be nominated again for another Liebster Award by Reel Red Reviews!

 

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Reel Red Reviews’ Questions: 

 

1 – What’s the best movie you’ve seen in this year (so far)?

I will have to go with Captain America Civil War. It’s the only Marvel movie so far that has come close to giving me the same adrenaline rush I had with the first Avengers, and it just did so much right. Spider-Man’s introduction to the MCU was more perfect than I imagined, and Black Panther was a huge surprise.

I also really loved Deadpool, but Civil War wins overall.

2 – What’s the worst movie you’ve seen in this year (so far), and what made it so awful?

Probably ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’. I’m sure I’ll see something worse later this year, but this was just dumb. It shouldn’t have been hard to make a sequel to a movie that was already just a simple popcorn movie. I really believe if Will Smith agreed to do it, we would have had a completely different movie. I think he was what made the first movie work. And when you look at Roland Emmerich’s work post-ID4, he really hasn’t made a decent movie since then. ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ might be the only exception.

3 – What’s the worst remake you’ve ever seen?

Speaking of Roland Emmerich! The 1998 (American) Godzilla. I remember loving it as a kid, but I think I revisited it when I was about 11 or 12 and realized it was just terrible. The newest 2014 reboot was much better as far as quality. I still didn’t love that movie, but it at least gave me a large sense of excitement for sequels. I really want to see what happens in the follow-ups.

I HATE HATE HATE Tim Burton’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. Same can be said about his ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie too, although I vaguely even remember that.

I tend to avoid remakes honestly, unless I hear a lot of positive feedback behind one.

4 – Which actor/actress could you see yourself being best friends with?

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Donald Glover and Danny Pudi. Both of them.

5 – Pick a director to helm a movie about your life.

Speilberg.

6 – What’s your favorite iconic movie line?

“May the Force Be With You”

7 – If you were to work on a movie, which role do you see yourself best performing (i.e. writer, director, producer, actor, or…)?

I could see myself as an editor. I pay attention to a lot of detail, and I think it would be fun to be in an editing room, figuring out what various takes flow better, or don’t flow at all. Directing would be too much pressure. I’d be afraid of not being able to shoot anything that works, thus making the editor’s job a living hell.

8 – Who would win in a fight – Voldemort or Kylo Ren?

Kylo Ren. Voldemort is a chump. The only real reason he was even a challenge to beat was because he split his soul into pieces that were very difficult to come by. Then he relied on a wand that ended up not working for him. His whole plan for becoming the most powerful wizard was constructed by a series of weird loopholes. Kylo comes off as weak, but his one real goal is to just be evil, and he succeeded in just one movie so far. He killed his own father and led the First Order to destroy several systems at once. Luke saved Vader from 30 of Dark Side consumption and he couldn’t save Kylo from even before he started to fall? That’s gotta say something…

Voldemort was stopped by a damn baby when he was in his prime. His failures just made him a sore-loser.

9 – Do you believe in aliens, ghosts, and/or the Loch Ness Monster?

Yes, yes, and maybe.

Aliens gotta be out there in this infinite universe. We have to accept that in our lifetime, there is a pretty decent possibility we might get to learn some truth to this. I don’t believe that we’re the only living things in this entire universe.

Ghosts are crazy. There’s no real way of knowing, but I’ve heard enough stories and I believe they’re true.

I used to believe in Nessie, but I think they would have found him by now. At least a skeleton.

10 – In how many years do you predict that they’ll start working on a film about Brexit?

2 years for the crappy version that doesn’t get a lot of key information right, and 4 years for the one that’s accurate and Oscar-worthy. That’s usually how these things work.

11 – What’s the best vacation you’ve ever had?

Probably when I went to Germany in 2008. Two full weeks, learned a lot, had my first beer(s), saw a lot of cool history, ate lots of sausage and Nutella. I’d love to go to Europe again!

 

 

 

Thank you so much for the nomination and the great questions!

I will now nominate Starloggers and vinnieh!

Your questions are:

  1. What’s your favorite movie vehicle?
  2. What are your Top 3 2017 movies that you’re most looking forward to?
  3. What’s a biopic you’re absolutely dying to see made?
  4. Name a film that deserves a spin-off. Not a sequel, prequel, or reboot of the same story. But just a new movie, in that same world- following new characters/objectives. For example; mine would be Inception.
  5.  What’s your favorite remake?
  6. Many film series are often criticized for disappointing third chapters. What are a few of your favorite “3rd films” in a series? LotR: Return of the King doesn’t count.
  7. Best and Worst Star Trek movies?
  8. Best and Worst James Bond movies?
  9. Favorite film composer outside of John Williams?
  10. Name a trailer that’s better than the movie it’s promoting.
  11. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
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‘Ghostbusters’ Review

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I’ve never seen such controversy for a movie in my life. There are so many people out there who have been pre-hating this since it was announced, and are still sticking by their hatred without giving this a chance at all. I was actually moderately excited for it, but must admit that with every piece of marketing ‘Ghostbusters’ put out, I got less and less excited.

So finally, I got to see it for myself and…

I liked it a lot! It’s definitely way better than the trailers made it seem, which I kind of expected honestly. I’ve noticed that in general, it’s pretty difficult to craft a good trailer for a comedy. So much of the humor in this movie only works because of its context. When taken out, the jokes wouldn’t work.

Thankfully, that’s all I was really looking for in this movie. “Was it funny”?

It absolutely was. The humor in this is nearly as good as it is in the original movie, and I actually think I laughed more with this than I did with ‘Ghostbusters II’. If you’re a fan of Paul Feig’s movies, or even the episodes of ‘The Office’ that he’s directed, you’ll get a lot of good laughs with this.

This movie does have one major issue though. Much of the disappointment I had with this was already present before sitting down in the theater, even though I’ve tried very hard to come to terms with this issue.

I’ve wanted a ‘Ghostbusters 3’ my whole life, and when this movie was announced, I was very sad to learn that it was a reboot, and not a continuation of the original two movies. It’s worked so well, even recently with movies like ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, ‘Jurassic World’, and ‘The Force Awakens’. All of these being reboots but with loose connections to what came before.

I still must stand by that this is the films’ biggest flaw. The movie doesn’t go 15 minutes without making a reference, or showing a cameo from the original movie. These references and cameos were funny, but it was distracting due to what they could have been. Why make constant references, and why bring back nearly every surviving cast member, and NOT allow them to be the same characters they were before??? It couldn’t have been that difficult.

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HOWEVER! What we got overall was still very good. Kate McKinnon and Chris Hemsworth absolutely stole the show, and were easily the funniest parts of this. Even Leslie Jones, (who I predicted would be a very annoying character) ended up being terrific. The overall dynamic and chemistry between these leading ladies was fantastic. And I honestly don’t think they could have done a better job matching these dynamics to that of the original cast than what was done here. If this went south, the movie would have sucked completely.

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The original will always be the best, but again- the original being totally separate from this is part of the only reason I give this real criticism at all. The movie constantly tries to remind the viewer that this is based off of a classic that will be loved for generations. It felt very off-putting that they were trying to both distance itself from the original, yet always try and refer to it. If it was a sequel, this wouldn’t have been a problem.

But if you pretend that this is just some weird- parallel dimension sequel that takes place in an alternate reality where the original Ghostbusters live different lives and ghosts didn’t begin to make their occurrence until 2016, this movie works way better. And hey, that’s not too far fetched when Ray Stantz brings up parallel dimensions to Gozer in the original film. That’s just my franchise OCD talking though, and my overall disappointment that a third movie was never made with the original cast.

With all of that said though, this is actually a very good Ghostbusters movie that can be watched right alongside the original two films…even if they aren’t really connected.

It definitely had the right feel when it came to the horror/comedy elements. This- mixed with the great cast, and very funny moments made this reboot at least better than ‘Ghostbusters II’, and a worthy entry to the Ghostbusters franchise.

Rating: B

 

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What I’ve Seen Lately – July 2016

Aside from my opinion pieces that I intend on being my main effort, I still want to go through some of the movies that I’ve seen lately, and basically just give short reviews on them.

I watch a lot of movies, between actually going to the theater, watching something via streaming, or even viewing newer releases with Netflix’s mail service. So there’s really not enough time for me to write full reviews on each individual thing I see. My hope is that I’m still able to offer my thoughts and opinions on any movie I see, but just in a more condensed way. I intend to start doing this at least once a month!

We’ll start with what I’ve seen in theaters over the last couple of months.

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‘X-Men: Apocalypse’

I thought about writing a full review on this, like I do with most comic book movies. But I think I can say what I need right here.

I liked it a lot. I know there are a lot of people out there that thought it was pretty mediocre, but this was honestly more of a real team-based X-men movie than anything we’ve gotten before, and because of that- I really really liked it. It showcased some of my favorite X-men as their younger selves, with Cyclops finally given some real screen time for once. The Quicksilver scene was phenomenal, and probably even funnier than the one in ‘Days of Future Past’.

I loved the newly (re)introduced characters so much and I really hope to see more of them in future movies. I’m waiting quite anxiously for the announcement of the next film in the mainline X-men series.

I do have some minor complaints about the story of the movie. It was basically ‘X2’ again, and Wolverine’s cameo felt a little forced, even though the sequence itself was very cool. I’m kind of done seeing these characters age by 10 years and not showing it. It’s weird. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, but ‘Days of Future Past’ was supposed to fix the continuity of this series. They’re still making decisions like this that are making me truly believe Fox doesn’t give the slightest crap about any continuity whatsoever.

But all in all, I thought this was a very solid entry. It served as a good finale to what began with ‘First Class’, and even made me more excited for whatever is to come next. I just hope they stray away from the formula, and continue to tell great stories with the characters we see in the final shots of ‘Apocalypse’. That’s the roster I’ve been dying to see more of.

Recommended? Absolutely. But if you’ve never been an X-Men fan in the first place, this won’t be the one to win you over.

 

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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’

Definitely can’t say much here. I like TMNT. I grew up watching all the cartoons, and the original live-action movies are big guilty pleasures of mine. I even found solid enjoyment out of the first movie in this reboot series.

Is this 2nd movie any good? Eh.

If you grew up with the Turtles, you’ll dig it. It’s a big giant homage to the original series. We had Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, Casey Jones, and Baxter Stockman here, which was pretty cool.

It was fun, at least for me… but it’s not a good movie. It’s a good TMNT movie I guess, but if this has never been your thing, then it’s as simple as that. This was truly made for the kids that are under the age of 11 that watch the new show, and their parents that could watch this and reminisce over the original show.

Recommended? No. But if you’re a fan of the Turtles, check it out. It’s dumb fun.

 

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‘Finding Dory’

I almost forgot this Pixar sequel was a thing until the week this came out. I LOVE ‘Finding Nemo’, however I never really thought it needed a sequel. And I was afraid that this would be very underwhelming, so I kept my expectations low.

But this was very enjoyable. I didn’t think it was as good as ‘Nemo’, but the movie at least did something different. The first 10 minutes I was scared that the movie was going to follow the same beats as the first movie, but then it really started to stand on its own quite well.

It’s no ‘Inside Out’, and even as far as Pixar sequels go, I’d say it’s a little more ‘Monsters U’ than it is ‘Toy Story 2’. But I liked ‘Monsters University’.

‘Finding Dory’ is another solid entry in the Pixar catalog.

Recommended? Yes.

 

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‘The Legend of Tarzan’

I fell asleep. It was boring.

Recommended? No. But I also don’t know for sure. So don’t take my word for it.

 

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‘Independence Day: Resurgence’

Look, the first Independence Day is by no means a “good” movie. But it’s FUN! What made it that way? The characters. All of them having charisma. Will Smith was just having fun being a bad-ass, and Jeff Goldblum was being Jeff Goldblum. And it was such a delight watching them together kicking alien ass and smoking stogies. And never forget Bill Pullman’s awesome Presidential speech. Never.

So take Will Smith out and replace him with two lame actors, get Bill Pullman’s character to act like a total Looney Tune, and get Jeff Goldblum to not be all that Jeff Goldblum… what do you get?

Just a plain, un-charismatic, shit-movie.

Recommended? No.

 

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            What I’ve Streamed/Rented:

 

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‘The Walk’

Really really entertaining movie. If you like Robert Zemekis (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Cast Away), this shouldn’t be any different.

Although I might suggest that if you take medication for anxiety- you might wanna pop that pill before the final act of this movie.

Recommended? Yes.

 

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‘Now You See Me’

Entertaining. But not for me. I found the story to be pretty uninteresting, and the twists were pretending to be more clever than they really were. I watched it because the sequel was coming out, and needless to say, I didn’t see the sequel and I probably never will.

Recommended? Not really. But there is some fun to be had. It’s not exactly a waste of time, but there are better things to see.

 

 

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‘Steve Jobs’

Writer Aaron Sorkin is a name worth mentioning when talking about some of the best screenwriters of our time. While I like him, I do find his writing to be a little inconsistent. For the most part, it’s great. But sometimes he will write dialogue for characters that is either unrealistic, unnecessary, or just straight up pretentious. This can be found in his HBO show ‘The Newsroom’, as some episodes are pure excellence, while some fall totally flat for me.

I have loved Sorkin’s work for both ‘Moneyball’, and ‘The Social Network’. However, much like ‘The Newsroom’, this movie fell flat in a few areas, but was ultimately pretty good.

‘Steve Jobs’ is definitely more of a character piece than it is about the products that made him famous. Knowing that going in might be a healthier approach in regards to whatever expectations you might have. His work plays a big role, but it’s more about how Jobs was as a person. When the script actually focuses on that, the movie is excellent. But when it delves into other areas, it lingers. And it’s easy to see that there were elements of Sorkin’s more pretentious writing that took over certain scenes.

The performances are great though, even when certain scenes feel a bit strange. Michael Fassbender killed it.

Recommended? Yes. But it depends on who you are. If you’re familiar with the “walk and talk” style that Aaron Sorkin is notorious for, and you’re not a fan- it’s not for you. If you do like this style, it’s worth checking out, but don’t expect too much of a great thing.

 

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‘Daddy’s Home’

I like both Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, especially when they’re together. ‘The Other Guys’ is probably my favorite buddy-cop movie that wasn’t made in the 80’s.

When I watch a comedy, all I expect it to do is make me laugh. This movie looked horrendous, but it was surprisingly very entertaining, and I got many good laughs out of it.

Recommended? Sure.

 

 

 

Corey Posnanski

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