This may seem like a bit of a rant and perhaps it is to some degree.
I’m not a film critic. I’m actually a pretty easygoing and forgiving viewer. Now that doesn’t mean I like every movie I see. I have turned off movies I don’t like, even walked out of a theater a couple of times. That also doesn’t mean I can’t critique a film, I do, I’m just not someone who views a movie with critiquing in mind. At my age I know what I like, I know what type of stories I enjoy and these days I’m rarely disappointed.
I’m really not a film snob, I had a friend who would snub anything he considered too commercial, and I’m open to many types of films. Movies to me are a form of art but to me I also enjoy the mindless escapism the types of movies I enjoy. I don’t mind serious film, but following on my last entry on how I loved the more lighthearted fare of the Science-Fiction films from the 90s, the types of movies I like are those that have a fun aspect to them.
I also feel many professional critics can be a bit snobbish and harsh. From a psychological perspective many people think negatively and even cynically and bring that into their criticisms. I’ve read some reviews that were more cynicism than critique.
Since judging art is so subjective, bad reviews generally don’t put me off on a film. I enjoy reading criticism of films but I don’t let them sway me and will judge for myself whether or not I enjoy a film.
I like to read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I disagree where they put their fresh rating. I say if a movie has 51% rating that means a majority of critics liked a movie, albeit a small majority. So deeming a movie “Fresh” at 60% is a bit arbitrary.
What I’ve noticed is that within my DVD collection there are many movies from the Science-Fiction and Fantasy film genres that did not get fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. It goes to show that I really don’t listen to critics much. Also, I find, on social media anyway, no matter what movie is announced, haters come pouring out of the woodwork as if Pavlov rang his bell and his dogs begun salivating. People seem negative in general and closed minded. Nasty people have come along and questioned my taste in movies but in the end I like what I like with no apologies and what others think of my tastes matters not.
Here, in no particular order, are movies from my collection that have received a not so fresh rating.
Seventh Son – 20%
The Great Wall – 35%
Gods of Egypt – 15%
Jupiter Ascending – 26%
GeoStorm – 14%
Independence Day Resurgence – 30%
Batman & Robin – 10%
Judge Dredd (199?) – 17%
The Scorpion King – 41%
Journey 2 the Mysterious Island – 45%
Godzilla (1998) – 16%
The Day After Tomorrow – 44%
Van Helsing – 23%
Planet of the Apes (2001) – 45%
The Time Machine (2002) – 29%
Alien Trespass – 34%
Land of the Loss – 26%
Race to Witch Mountain – 43%
Skyline – 16%
Cowboys and Aliens – 43%
Green Lantern – 26%
Battleship – 34%
After Earth – 11%
John Carter – 51% *
GI Joe: Rise of Cobra – 35%
GI Joe: Retaliation – 29%
Pixels – 17%
Man of Steel – 56% *
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – 26%
Justice League – 40%
Power Rangers – 45%
Velarian and the City of a Thousand Planets – 49%
Pacific Rim: Uprising – 46%
Clash of the Titans – 28%
Wrath of the Titans – 26%
Immortals – 36%
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time – 36%
Star Trek: The Motion Picture – 44%
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – 22%
Star Trek: Generations – 49%
Star Trek: Insurrection – 55% *
Star Trek: Nemesis- 38%
* I included a few that do have an above 50% rating but those are still technically considered rotten.
# I also only included the 1998 American Godzilla movie even though there are many Japanese Godzilla movies that also have rotten railings. I will cover them someday on my new Godzilla Designs blog. https://godzilladesigns.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/the-eras-of-godzilla-films/
While perusing my DVD collection, the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films I own, I became aware that my most favorite time period for sci-fi and fantasy films is the 1990s. I am mostly referring to Science-Fiction films of the 90s for the 1990s are a bit light on Fantasy films. Now not many people would automatically think of the 1990s as a golden age of Sci-Fi and Fantasy films as compared to the 1950s…(I love the 50s alien invasion movies) but the 1990s did produce a lot of memorable and successful Sci-Fi and Fantasy films.
Now maybe not every movie on my list was a financial or critical success, that’s fine, financial or critical success doesn’t determine whether or not I enjoy a film. While there are Sci-Fi and Fantasy films from all eras that I enjoy, I must admit I have a certain affection and admiration for the film’s of the 1990s. I don’t believe it is due to reasons of nostalgia because these aren’t the movies of my childhood, I spent the majority of the 1990s in my 30s. So why do I appreciate the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films of the 90s?
I think the answer is threefold. I am an admitted special effects junkie and the 90s saw the birth of CGI…and while some hate it, I love it! I also like practical or real world special effects and many the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films have special effects that are a mixture of both techniques. The majority of the films on my list have special effects that I still enjoy to this day.
The second reason is simply the 90s offered a diversity of the type of Sci-Fi and Fantasy that I enjoy. Favorite franchises of Godzilla and Star Trek brought some high quality movies during this time period. I love Alien Invasion and Alien themed movies and the 90s brought some favorites such as Independence Day, Men in Black, Contact and Starship Troopers.
The last component of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy films of the 1990s that I like needs to be seen in context of how these types of films have been trending, for the most part, in the last 18 years. Namely, these types of films are more darker, grittier and more serious than those of the 90s. What I enjoy in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy from the 1990s is that they’re FUN! They’re all movies with a good balance and mixture of action, adventure, drama….and light hearted humor and fun!
The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Type of movies in general can be dark and serious as they deal with aspects of humanity and our future…while I do enjoy the darker and more serious Sci-Fi and Fantasy films I don’t want a steady diet of them. So my preference in these type of movies is toward films that have a sense of humor and don’t take itself too seriously. I say this with no sense of shame.
A few prime examples of these type of movies are: Judge Dredd and Demolition Man, both starring Sylvester Stallone, the aforementioned Starship Troopers, a satire on Fascism, and Independence Day an homage to 50s Science Fiction Invasion movies. These films do mix action, adventure with a sense of humor and in the end they’re entertaining and fun to watch…and re-watch!
My favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy films of the 1990s.
The Fifth Element
Men in Black
Jurassic Park: The Lost World
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: Generations
Star Trek: Insurrection
Godzilla vs King Ghodirah
Godzilla vs Mothra: Battle for the Earth
Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II
Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla
Godzilla vs Destroyer
Back to the Future III
Batman and Robin
The Cage was the very first Star Trek pilot submitted to NBC in 1965. Sadly the pilot episode was rejected by NBC for being “too cerebral.” We all know the rest of the story. Actress Lucille Ball, the owner of Desilu Studios where the pilot was filmed, put pressure on the NBC executives to give Gene Roddenberry another chance. They did, he filmed another pilot, it was accepted and the rest is history.
For me The Cage has a Star Trek: The Next Generation vibe to it. I had read once that TNG was closer to Rodenberry’s vision for Star Trek because he didn’t have the interference he had had on the Original Series. The Cage also had more of a “Forbidden Planet” 1950s vibe to me and that is understandable given that Forbidden Planet was an early influence on Star Trek. The Cage reminds me of TNG because Captain Christopher Pike, played by Jeffery Hunter, reminds me a lot of Captain Picard in terms of temperament. Although Kirk would become more of a man of action, both Pike and Picard are more intellectual.
The plot is pretty basic. Pike is weary and worn after several missions that have not gone as well as planned. He has lost lives and is questioning his role as captain of the USS Enterprise. His next mission is answering a distress call from the Planet Talus IV where an earth vessel had crashed years before. However, the entire landing party, except for the female, Vina, was all an illusion and soon Pike is captured by the Talosians and thrown into a zoo like setting.
In order to both control him and tempt him into staying the Talosians are able to control his mind by placing life-like images of both pleasure and pain into his mind. Pike doesn’t want to be trapped in a cage and rebels. The Talosians realize that humans will not be a good addition to their menagerie because of human beings desire not to be enslaved. Pike leaves and Vina decides to stay after learning that her youth and beauty was also an illusion.
This is a very enjoyable episode. It is sad that NBC rejected it. On the other had, if NBC had accepted the Cage the original series, and the history of the Star Trek franchise would be very different. So in many ways I am happy things turned out the way they did. The only aspect of this episode that survived the recreation that lead to the series was Mr. Spock. Majel Barret, who would play Nurse Chapel in the series, and become Mrs. Roddenberry, is the only other actor to survive the transition. Barret played Number One, the second in command, which is another reason why The Cage reminds me of TNG.
Spock was a character that NBC also wanted to be rid of because of his sinister look which they feared would offend some viewers However, Roddenberry put his foot down to save the character Spock and for that we are all eternally grateful, for Spock became not just a much beloved character in Star Trek but of all Science Fiction. Spock is truly iconic. Female actors were used to portray the bulbous headed Talosians and this look also has become classic and iconic look in science fiction.
This pilot episode was woven into the two part episode The Menagerie later in the series so I will have more to say about it on my review of that episode. I give this episode a solid A+ rating.
Hello faithful followers! Starting next week, and every Monday, I will be reviewing an episode of the original 1960s Star Trek TV series. With 80 episodes (including the original pilot episode The Cage) it may take almost two years! But I think I will do more episodes per-week from time to time.
So check back here next Monday as I begin a new series!
Live Long and Prosper!
Since this movie has been out a considerable length of time this will be a spoiler heavy review of the design of Shin Godzilla.
Although Godzilla is a McGuffin I will address how he is designed and depicted in this movie. I am a bit ambivalent about this design. I do not hate it (I don’t hate any Godzilla design) but it is also far from a favorite design. This is the largest Godzilla standing at 118.5 metres (389 ft) which is taller than any other Japanese Godzilla and taller than Legendary Godzilla, the most recent American incarnation of the monster, which stood at 106.7 meters (305ft). His face is craggy and menacing looking which is one of my favorite aspects of this design.
He has numerous spines/fins on his back which has often been a favorite feature of this creature (Godzilla 2000 being my favorite depiction of this aspect of Godzilla). However the fins/spines are so numerous on his back that they are rendered inconsequential which I find disappointing.
I sometimes call Shin Godzilla “Zombie Godzilla” because in his final form he moves so lethargically slow which means this Godzilla really doesn’t have much of a personality as other Godzillas have had. His atomic ray, which comes from other parts of his body than just his mouth is the best feature of this design. It is the most destructive atomic ray we have seen to date. It is a pure delight to see and with him able to shoot it out from his spines as wells as his tail is complete genius in my view. It is one of the reasons this movie is fresh. It takes a well worn trope in a Godzilla movie and reinvents it in an unexpected and excitingly fresh new way.
Although Godzilla spends the majority of this movie just walking zombie like on his way to Tokyo (what does he think he’s doing with all of this walking…taking the One Ring back to the fires of Mount Doom?) he is more physically animated while firing his atomic ray which does come across as a bit incongruous.
To depict the rising level of crisis the Japanese Government has to confront, Godzilla appears in several developing forms and transformations which is an entirely new aspect of Godzilla. We have seen this done in other Godzilla movies (Godzilla vs Hedorah and Godzilla vs Destroyer) but in those movies the villain monster is the one that develops through several stages not Godzilla himself. I really like this twist on the Godzilla legend and given the context of the movie it makes perfect sense. I also like the fact that Godzilla doesn’t stay too long in these younger forms and quickly evolves into his adult and final form.
Godzilla and all the buildings and other objects he destroys are no longer rendered through a man in a suit or models. As a special effects junkie I praise and welcome this change and find that Toho (or whomever did the CGI) did an excellent job. I do love and appreciate the old suit and model approach to the older movies and they were fine for their times. While I do feel some nostalgic sadness that those days are over, as a viewer I really love the new CGI approach. It is time for Toho to move into the 21st Century.
I want to preface this Spoiler Free review by stating I’m a huge Godzilla fan, own all the movies, and I love them. As super fan of giant monsters, Kaiju and other films that feature strange beasts, this movie has everything a Kaiju fan could ask for. Great special effects, superb actors, giant monster battles, human drama, some comic relief all woven into a captivating and engaging story.
This Kong is not the same as the one depicted in the 1933, 1976 & 2005 movies. No this Kong is molded after the 1962 Kong featured in Toho Studios film “King Kong vs. Godzilla. In fact the Kong depicted in “Kong: Skull Island” will grow up to fight the Godzilla from the 2014 Legendary Studios film “Godzilla.” I look forward to when hese two juggernauts will battle toe-to-toe in their own feature film “Godzilla vs. King Kong” in 2020. This time out Godzilla will get top billing.
But in this movie Kong is King and the star of the show. Rendered wonderfully in detailed CGI Kong is brought to life and is the focal point. He isn’t the only star shinning in this extravaganza though. Delivering stellar performances are John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson (any movie he is in is made even more enjoyable), Tom Hiddleston, the lovely Brie Larson and John C. Rilley. I do want to say a little more about John C. Rilley. From the trailers I knew going in he would provided some comic relief. I was fine with that because I do not always care for dark and gritty films and like a balance of emotions in movies. I feared that his comic relief may render the movie too comical and that it wouldn’t be taken seriously. Yes, John C. Rilley does provide comic relief but that isn’t all. He is not only central to the plot he has some very serious and dramatic moments and I am safe to report his excellent performance really steals the show.
All in all this is a very satisfying entry into Legendary’s Monsterverse and it sets up more films in the franchise that I eagerly await.
This post isn’t about a movie review of the 1998 American Godzilla movie, its more about the personal reason why I like the 1998 Godzilla monster and the design along with enjoying the movie. One of the reasons for this post is that last week there were a couple of Godzilla related groups that were once again bashing the movie and the creature. So this is an answer to the frequent Godzilla 1998 bashing.
Some background information. I have been a Godzilla fan since I was about 5 years old back in 1968 or so. I remember seeing “Destroy All Monsters” in the theaters. I watched Godzilla in my youth and young teens. But between Godzilla’s hiatus between 1975 and 84 I didn’t see a lot of Godzilla as many TV stations that I liked on cable didn’t show them as often as they did when I was younger.
I have always loved the many different designs of Godzilla and like the Starship Enterprise creative people can take that simple design and reinterpret the beast in many different ways. Godzilla had always been a lumbering slow creature acted by a man in a suit. I never disliked that approach and I still do not. I love the old films.
Then came Jurassic Park in 1993. For the first time I saw CGI dinosaurs rendered in a very life-like manner. Therefore long before Godzilla 1998 was on the big screen my mind was thinking about the possibilities for Godzilla. In my view the need for the lumbering walk and stance and for a man-in-the-suit portrayal of the character was no longer necessary. From that viewpoint I began to desire to see Godzilla in a more traditional dinosaur stance and animal like depiction. He no longer had to be a slow lumbering behemoth.
So low and behold when I saw the 1998 movie it gave me exactly what I wanted to see…a more dinosaur like depiction of Godzilla! To my eyes this new portrayal of the monster was more naturally animal like than any depiction prior to this incarnation. and since they went the way I was thinking how I would like to see Godzilla, I was happy with the results. It was different and something new. I also enjoyed the movie..although I do think the part with the raptor-like baby Godzilla’s slows the movie way down. But overall I was/am happy with the depiction and the movie.
I recently viewed Star Trek Beyond (review coming shortly) and I noticed that the USS Enterprise was altered for this movie. An in-Universe explanation would be that the ship was re-fit. However, in the movie no explanation was given for the re-fit redesign.
I am posting this little rant to say I really do not care for the updated version used for this recent movie. I have run across many fans that do not like this Enterprise to begin with. Many call this ship the JJ-Prise in rather pejorative terms. Although, I do like all incarnations of the infamous ship, the Enterprise-D being my list favorite, the 2009 incarnation is one of my most favorites. I just love the aesthetic flow this ship has and the larger Nacelles do look powerful. Concept artist Ryan Church’s initial designs were modeled and refined by set designer Joseph Hiura. This design was then given to ILM for further refinement and developed into photo-realistic models by Alex Jaeger’s team. One change I particularly like (most fans do not) is the blue color, instead of red, to the Bussard Collectors at the front of the Nacelles.
Above is the redesign. The Nacelles have been reduced in size although they do maintain the initial shape. The struts the Nacelles are resting upon are thinner and angled back. The neck of the ship is thinner and does not tapper back toward the shuttle bay as it does in the original. The flow now seems off to me and the nacelles are too far back and too small losing the look of power the original had. If they were going for a similar look to the Prime Universe Re-fit/Enterprise-A design then they failed.
Here is another pic to examine the two designs side-by-side.
*SPOILERS* This redesigned Enterprise was destroyed in the movie. Despite the redesign I was sad to see her go far too soon. At the end of the movie we were introduced to the new USS Enterprise NCC-1701 A for the Kelvin Universe. I didn’t see it enough to have much of a judgment although I do like what I saw. Here is a pic of it but keep in mind it may not be 100% accurate and may be subject to change.
In 2013 Ben Affleck was cast as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the movie “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” As the internet experienced a meltdown and some misguided fans even signed petitions to have Affleck removed from the project, I was always on board with him being cast as the iconic capped crusader. View my old blog post in the link below.
I wanted to follow up my recent review of “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” with my thoughts on how Ben Affleck actually played this iconic dual role. I will begin by posting this quote:
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times remarked: “All the Internet resistance to Affleck being cast as Batman seems silly when you see him … There’s not a moment when we don’t believe Affleck as Bruce Wayne or as Batman.”
I agree with this completely. It is kind of funny that even though many Batman and superhero fans had a public meltdown over Ben being cast, there is nary a hater to be found these days. Another point I want to make is, although I supported Ben 100% in this role and could see him doing well, even I underestimated exactly how good he ended up being in the role. Ben Affleck disappeared completely into both Characters! While watching the movie I completely forgot I was watching Ben Affleck! He is just that damned good!
Comparisons are inevitable and I hate to use the word “better” in my comparisons (I can enjoy many things equal without making such judgments) I will add that Ben has come to personify the role for me. I do in fact enjoy all live incarnations of the character. Believe it or not but as of this writing “Batman Forever” is my favorite solo Batman movie, but Ben is my favorite portrayal of the character. I do like Nolan’s Batman Trilogy even though I have issues with it, however, I never really had a problem with Christian Bale’s portrayal of the Dark Knight. After watching Ben play both roles I have come to see his performance as the one I have been waiting for, for decades. Finally Bruce Wayne and his alter ego “The Batman” are portrayed the way they have been portrayed in the comics for a long, long time. I look forward with great anticipation to the Justice League movies and the solo Batman movies where Ben will once again don the cape and cowl to strike fear into the heart of darkness.
In my effort to restart this blog I need to catch up on some movie reviews. Since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was just released, how about I review the movie that came out before it! LOL!
As I have said before I am a huge Star Trek fan but I also love Star Wars too…just not as much as Trek. Yet, I always thought there was something in the aesthetic and pacing of Star Wars that Star Trek should borrow and learn from. When JJ Abrams, a lover of Star Wars, directed the 2009 reboot movie, Star Trek, my wish came true. In the feel and look of the movie there are elements of Star Wars in that Star Trek film and although some fans noticed that too and complained…I was not one of them. Therefore, when the next trilogy in Star Wars was going to be filmed, it seemed only natural that JJ Abrams would be selected to direct this movie.
I want to comment on one of the complaints The Force Awakened received from the minority of the people that did not like it. The complaint is that it is just a rehash or is derivative of the original 1977 film Star Wars, later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I certainly do not deny this accusation. I actually embrace it and it is one of the reasons I do enjoy this movie greatly.
Some have complained that nostalgia is one of its selling points and I have no shame in agreeing with that. I was 14 in 1977 when the original movie came out and I loved it! It had a huge impact on me. So seeing Han, Chewie, Luke and Leia on the big screen was a huge part of this movie. That doesn’t mean the rest of the story wasn’t good, it was, even if it has elements of the first movie, it does!
Luke has disappeared and it has been thirty years since the Death Star was once again blown up and the Empire defeated. However, evil has not gone away. We have new characters that are very interesting to me. the rebelling storm trooper, Finn, the scavenger, Rey, and Kylo Ren, the son of Han Solo and General Leia, are all great additions to the Star Wars universe. The movie leaves us with a mystery of who is this woman Ren who wields the Force so easily? The special effects are excellent as JJ Abrams wisely knows how to weave practical effects with the CGI.
I will not reveal any spoilers of this movie. I will say this is/was a great way to start the new trilogy. It is visually stunning with everything you would want to see in a Star Wars movie. Although it does have elements of the original story, they are done with respect and reverence to the original.