Saturday, August 29, 2015

Movie Review: There Will Be Blood (2007)

Author's Note:

Apparently I am the last person to see this movie.  Additionally, I have managed not to have it spoiled for me.  So I was able to sit down and watch this movie fresh.

Movie Review: There Will Be Blood (2007)

Once again, this movie has been out for some time, so of course there will be some spoilers.  I assume that, unlike me, you may probably have seen this movie.  Please feel free to comment below.


Yes, that was the book I used in 1987
Transcendentalism in American Literature; I really despise the whole literary movement.   I almost failed Sophomore year English class because I understood it better than the teacher and at one point I was fed up and mocked her in a paper.   However, I can appreciate a fine piece of art even when I don't like some of the tropes it uses.  Such is the case with There Will Be Blood.  The movie is all about people conning people.  Everyone has a con.  Everybody wants something.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Movie Review: Nebraska (2013)

Author's Note:

The cinema is a true form of art.  It should be considered high art along with paintings, sculpture, literature, and music.  One could even argue that the cinema is a combination of all of these into one.

I enjoy the cinema.  I love a good movie.  What is a good movie?  It is a good story, told well, acted well, presented in an aesthetic way that enhances the narrative. 

Not every movie has to move me.  Sometimes I just want to go to a movie for mindless fun.  I want to eat some popcorn, drink some soda, and enjoy the time with my family and friends as we watch explosions on the screen.  Other times, I get the opportunity to watch a movie that is more subtle.  

Movie Review: Nebraska

Since this movie has been out for some time, and was nominated for an Oscar, I feel I can include some  spoilers.  Yes I will be giving away the ending.  Since I do recommend you see this film, if this is an important factor to you please do not read any further than this paragraph.  You will be seeing a slow paced, melodramatic, black and white film.  This is not Bruce Dern's finest work but he does a very good job.  Will Forte is very understated in his best performance to date.  This movie is not for the Michael Bay crowd.


Woody Grant, patriarch of the family, believes he has won a million dollars in a “Publishers Clearing House”-esque style giveaway.  Not trusting the US mail, he sets out on foot from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim the prize.  Woody's youngest son, David has just broken up with his girlfriend and needs some time away so agrees to drive his father to Lincoln to humor him.  Along the way they stop in Hawthorne, Nebraska, Woody and Kate's hometown.  Woody tells people about winning the money.  David tries to explain that it is the misunderstanding of a confused old man but the town thinks he is lying.  The trip and stop in Hawthorne reveals to David much about Woody's past and his character.

The Good:

The cast and the acting is spot on.  In watching this movie I don't see one person that is THAT ACTOR first and the character second (think Tom Cruise). You are watching the Grant family deal with the aging alcohol-addled (I won't call him an alcoholic) patriarch and his delusional fantasy that he won a million dollars.  The unmentioned elephant in the room is that the elder Grant appears to be suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.  Bruce Dern portrays a man dealing with disorientation, mood swings, and behavioral issues including wandering off.  He does not appear to be motivated to care for himself or his family or society.  The question becomes, is this due to age or has he been driven to this by his wife, wonderfully portrayed by June Squibb. June's character of Kate Grant could have been left as a simple one dimensional construct, but the writing and supporting characters flesh out her foibles and hypocrisy.

The cast is rounded out by Bob Odenkirk as the “successful” brother Ross and finally, brilliantly by Stacy Keach as Ed Peagram.

The cinematography is almost a character in itself.  Normally I would look at a black and white movie as an attempt to be art-house, instead I see this as almost a tribute to Ansel Adams work.

As we travel with David and Woody we experience the incredible vistas as well as the small towns.  The beauty is breathtaking.

The Bad:

This story is formulaic and there are no huge surprises here.  You could tell that Ed was going to get his comeuppance and that Woody was going to be humiliated.   It's not even a real surprise that Ross and David try to steal an air compressor and that it goes wrong.  If you are watching Nebraska for an exciting plot, you will be disappointed.

However, If you are looking for a solid story, acted well by terrific actors in beautiful scenery then watch this movie.  This movie was well deserving of it's Oscar nomination.

Final Score:  88 / 100


1. Michael Bay Explosion:
2. Where Should Lucky Travel to Next?
3. Strange Romance: A Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Photo Album
4. Ansel Adams, The Tetons and The Snake River (1942)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Movie Review: Fantastic Four

Author's note: 

For quite some time I have been reviewing films on I have over 500 movies rated there.  There are some great features on their site, including recommendations and a ranking system.  I love being able to leave reviews and read other people's reviews.  Unfortunately, the "mini-reviews" are a little short, limited to 500 characters. Starting with this review, I hope to start writing some movie reviews.  Additionally, I'd like to revive this blog. It may be some time until I reacquire my domain name, but for now I appear to be back!

Movie Review:  Fantastic Four


Let's cut to the chase shall we. This is a bad review. As such, to be able to explain why I didn't like it I have to explain about parts of the movie.  SPOILERS abound.  If you want to see this movie, don't read this review.  I didn't like this movie and I don't want you to waste your money on it. Go see another movie if you want to see a movie.  Or better yet, if you want to do something in the actual spirit of the Fantastic Four, do something science-y.  Go to a local museum or planetarium.  And do it with your family.  Because ultimately that's what the Fantastic Four is supposed to be: a family using science together.  Oh yeah, if you find a mole man, you can beat it up.

The Good

While choppy the first act built up nicely. The relationship between Ben (Evan Hannemann) and Reed (Owen Judge) starting in the 5th grade is explored briefly and should have set up their relationship for the whole movie a little better.  Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson) chews up his small role throughout the movie. Fast forward to the accident. It has serious shades of David Cronenberg's "The Fly" and is the last good part of the film.

If you want to see a good movie about teleportation, watch THIS one instead.

The Bad

A lot of this movie is missing. I think the director has been blamed for it but I think It was written by committee. I am not willing to make Josh Trank public enemy #1 for this movie. The first act has a completely different feel than the rest. Did they lose the missing parts of the movie on the printer? Did they accidentally delete the file and use the backup to film from?  Seriously, did they try to shoehorn in 30 different possible plots and take out the wrong ones?  After the first act the movie becomes horrendously bad with one exception which even then was a "Direction Not Taken".

Finally, I don't need my intelligence insulted. The filmmakers felt the need to explain why Sue is white and Johnny and their father is black by saying she's adopted. Why did they even bring up the subject. I didn't care.  It's 2015.  We are striving towards a more accepting society, free of prejudice based on religion, sexual orientation, or skin color.  By pointing this out and then further explaining it to the audience, the writers are insulting the movie going public.  It was another hiccup in the flow of the movie.
If the writers wanted an example on you to showcase tolerance, I highly recommend review of the Russell T. Davies era of Doctor Who.  The inclusion of multiracial and/or same sex couples was commonplace. There was no one holding a sign going, "Look you stupid, ignorant, hate filled people. This is how you should be." Change wasn't slow.  Change wasn't subtle.  Change was there and it was accepted and we all moved along.  Fantastic Four's producers, writers, and/or director felt the need to say, "Look at us!  We are progressive and changed Johnny Storm's race.  And you are a hateful prick if you don't like it."  Let me lay this out for you, if Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm) did a good job with the part then it isn't going to matter.  With the material he was presented I think he did a fine job.  No one is winning any Oscars here.

The Really Bad

Victor Von Doom.  Dr. Doom is the classic Marvel Universe bad guy.  You really can't screw him up that badly if you stick with the formula from the comics.  Even there, they have toyed with his background and origins enough that the filmmakers had a lot of latitude.  Even the Ultimate Universe changed his name to Victor Van Damm (which actually I kind of like).  In this movie he is reduced to a brooding, jealous, hipster genius who is either written or played so flat that were he anyone else than Victor Von-fricking-Doom he'd be completely forgettable instead of unforgivable.  This movie could have been salvaged with the proper writing and acting JUST IN THIS PART! 

Moving on to post-accident Doom. W.T.F. um... how... ummm... oh yeah... I mentioned there must have been missing pages to the script. That's how he knew about the Fantastic Four.  That's how he knew about their powers. That's how he was able to come up with that diabolical plan even though he'd been stranded on planet Zero alone with no technology for over a year.

Look it's Dr. Doom!

Dr. Doom is overpowered, way overpowered.  He is now Telekinetic.  Plus, he seems to really have a thing for popping peoples brains ("Scanners" style). He stays seriously overpowered UNTIL the climax battle of course. A climax where we discover that the team can't defeat them separately but they have to work together.  With all of the murders Dr. Doom commits, he easily could have killed the FF the same way,   Instead we are treated to potentially hundreds of collateral innocent deaths.  We're not talking Man of Steel high, but there's no sweeping this under the rug.

They eventually defeat Dr. Doom.  Yippie.  They become a team.  Yippie.  They get a secret research base.  Yippie.  They come up with  name.  Yippie.  Is it time to go yet?

The Direction Not Taken

There were missed opportunities throughout this movies.  You can see threads of stories that they abandoned.  For example, there was a very "Incredible Hulk" feel during part of the movie as the team searched for Reed. I think there was another treatment of the script with the hope of negotiating a tie into the MCU.  It would have been a great opportunity for Reed and Bruce Banner to get together out in the jungles of South America. Bruce could serve as a mentor to young Reed. Then when they are discovered there could have been an epic battle between the Hulk and the Thing (as well as expansion of the whole Natasha betrays Bruce line). But instead we get about five minutes of retread.  We've seen it.  many times.  And it was done better every time.

Final Score

I am being very generous with this score because I really thought the first act had promise and the accident scene was quite good.  A snarkier version of me would give this 4 out of 100, but that's not fair or honest.  Here's the take away.  This is a bad film.  It should not have been released.  It represents everything that is wrong in Superhero filmmaking and in Hollywood in general.  It was made to keep rights for the franchise at Fox.  It insults the intelligence of the film going public and comic book fans.

  • Do not see this movie in the theater.  
  • Do not see it on RedBox or Netflix.  
  • Do not purchase it when it hits the dollar bin at Walmart, which it will.

This movie is bad enough that several careers in Hollywood may have ended.  Sadly none of them are the executives at Twentieth Century Fox.

Final Score: 24 / 100


The reaction in the theater should really sum this up.  There were people sleeping (as in more than one). A couple of employees came in to clean up afterward and asked me what I thought. They were afraid of going to see it since the Rotten Tomatoes score was half of the score that Pixels had. My answer to them was that they will be issuing refunds on this movie.


1. Mole Man:
2. Comic Book Guy: The Comic Book–The Collector’s Edition #1, Bongo Comics.
3 "Golden Raspberry Award" by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -