The Heartbreak Kid. My Review

This will be my first non-science fiction or fantasy review on my re-labeled blog. The reason I chose this film, “The Heartbreak Kid,” made in 2007 was because my wife and I recently rewatched “Along Came Polly” another rom-com starring Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston. I noticed some similarities between the two films, namely, that one member of a romantic couple feels that their marriage was a mistake and then proceeds to fall in love with another person.

I saw this film when it was released in 2007 and I do like Ben Stiller’s comedies such as “Starsky and Hutch,” “Meet the Parents” and “There’s Something About Mary” (another Farrelly Brothers film) to mention a few. I enjoyed this film right up to the end and it is one of those films in which the ending completely ruined the movie for me, so I wanted to watch it again to see if my views would change…they did not.

This review will contain spoilers!

The Heartbreak Kid is an American black comedyfilm directed by the Farrelly brothers. Starring Ben Stiller, it is a remake of the 1972 film of the same name. The film Also stars Michelle Monaghan, Malin Åkerman, Jerry Stiller, Rob Corddry, Carlos Mencia, Scott Wilson and Danny McBride. The screenplay for the 2007 film was written by Leslie Dixon, Scot Armstrong, the Farrelly brothers and Kevin Barnett.

The plot is pretty simple, Eddie (Ben Stiller), the owner of a San Francisco sports shop, is single but ambivalent about starting a relationship. While walking, he sees a thief snatching a woman’s purse. He tries but fails to retrieve the purse. He and its owner Lila (Malin Åkerman) exchange pleasantries and exchanges numbers. Eddie finds Lila to be attractive and funny.

They begin dating and shortly after become exclusive. Each imagines that they are a perfect match. At the urging of both his father, Doc (Jerry Stiller) and best friend, Mac (Rob Corddry), Eddie marries Lila after only dating a few months. Before their wedding night, Eddie and Lila have never been sexually intimate and have not spent a lot of time getting to know each other. During the drive to their honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas, Eddie learns some new things about Lila he finds annoying. Lila irritates him with incessant singing to a blasting radio. She is very loud and obnoxious. When they get to their resort room, they have sex for the first time and Eddie learns that Lila’s sex drive is so strenuous that he suffers physical pain. Eddie’s disaffection deepens when Lila divulges her history of cocaine abuse, a deviated septum, and her habit of spitting drinks out through her nose. He learns that professionally she was only a volunteer, and that the purse snatcher had been one of her former lovers that she owed money.

Eddie realizes he has made a mistake in marrying Lila, and that he rushed into the marriage without really getting to know her. He is not in love with Lila and finds some of her newly discovered behavior and bad habits to be intolerable. As the enormity of Eddie’s mistake sinks in, he meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan), a vacationer with her family from Mississippi. Eddie is immediately attracted to Miranda and finds himself spending most of his honeymoon with Miranda and her family while Lila is confined to her room due to the sunburn. Eddie meets Miranda’s family and makes a favorable impression on all of them except for her cousin, Martin (Danny McBride).

When Miranda learns about Lila, she and Eddie fall into the ocean and Eddie is attacked by a jellyfish (Lila treats the stings by urinating on him). After the chaos, Lila and Miranda both abandon him (Miranda for Eddie’s deception and Lila for Eddie’s wanting a divorce). Angry, Lila destroys Eddie’s passport. Eddie sinks into a depression and decides to go to Mississippi to make amends with Miranda.

Border patrol agents repeatedly catch Eddie attempting to cross the U.S. border illegally. Eddie finally gets to Oxford, Mississippi. Upon meeting Miranda’s family, he learns that she has married her previous boyfriend. Despite promising to leave Miranda alone, Eddie sneaks in and awakens Miranda as her husband sleeps. Her husband wakes up when Martin bursts in and attacks Eddie with a baseball bat, until Doc intervenes. Eddie agrees to leave if Miranda says she truly loves her new husband, which she does. Eddie leaves with Doc, without knowing Miranda that looks longingly from her balcony as he walks away.

Eighteen months later, Eddie has lost his sports store to, and is divorced from Lila, and he moves permanently to Mexico. Sometime later, Miranda arrives in Mexico and finds Eddie. She tells him that she has left her husband and wants to be with him. Eddie is thrilled, but hides that he has a new wife, Consuela (Eva Longoria). At the end of the film he finds himself in the same predicament.

The Farrelly Brothers are good at putting characters in awkward and uncomfortable situations. With their frequent use of subversive ideas they have created a non conventional romantic comedy, and therein lies the problem.

Now I certainly don’t mind when a director upends a movie by not adhering to traditional tropes and the Farrelly Brothers do that here but, in the end it’s not emotionally satisfying. The reason being is that there isn’t anyone in the film to root for! Eddie is an unlikeable character and though I felt bad for Lila I didn’t want to see her and Eddie stay together. Although the movie wants us to root for Eddie and Miranda it’s difficult to do so because, like cousin Martin, (played excellently by Danny McBride) I wouldn’t trust Eddie either.

In order to demonstrate their incompatibility, and the fact that they married too soon without knowing one another, they paint Lila as crazy and obnoxious but for me the end result is that Eddie comes across as an unsympathetic jerk. Personally, I didn’t find Lila obnoxious at all. I wouldn’t have been bothered by her singing in the car or her other quirks. If I’m supposed to dislike Lila the way Eddie does, then that attempt failed. Instead I feel bad for Lila because she does love him, appears vulnerable and looking for acceptance. Eddie’s annoyance toward Lila make me think she’s chosen a shallow jerk.

To make matters worse, we’re supposed to root for Eddie who seems to haven fallen in love with the more likable Miranda. Yet we know that in the short term she’s going to get hurt, but we hope in the long run she and Eddie get together. The film is certainly leading us down that path. After Eddie finds out Miranda has married someone else we’re still hoping they get together….as the film plays with our heart strings we tend to forget that Eddie is a jerk….then in the end when Miranda shows up to tell Eddie she’s finally available….the Farrelly Brothers pull the rug out from beneath our feet and we see that Eddie has a new wife and that absolutely nothing has changed

There is no character development. Eddie hasn’t grown this entire journey we’re on with him. We do want resolution. We want our happy ending! However, with the implication that Eddie may dump this new wife yet again for Miranda, what is supposed to be funny feels like nothing but a big middle finger to the audience and an ending that is very emotional unsatisfying. It is to me anyway.

I give this movie a C-

New Blog Title and Slightly Different Focus.

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Starting from now on there will be a slight change to this blog. Ever since it’s inception this has primarily been a blog about science fiction and fantasy films and their respective reviews.

However, starting this week, I want to expand my film reviews to include movies from any genre. That is why this blog is now simply titled “Foley’s Film Review Blog.” Despite the change in title I will still primarily review science fiction and fantasy films since those are my favorite types of movies. There are many other types of films that I do enjoy such as mafia movies, romantic comedies, comedies, westerns and classic movies from the 40s through today. I want to format to include these types of movies and instead of starting a new blog I just decided to expand this one.

If there’s any movies that you would like reviewed let me know!

Thanks for following my blog and your continued support!

Liam Foley 👽

The Evolution of the Klingons, Part II: Appearance.

Change in appearance

According to the official Star Trek web site, the Klingons’ varying appearance was “probably the single most popular topic of conversation among Star Trek fans.” While the real reason for the discrepancy between The Original Series Klingons and their feature film and later television series counterparts was a lack of budget, some fans took it upon themselves to contrive an acceptable canon reason for the sudden changes.

Though some fans desired a canonical or an in-universe explanation for the changes in the appearance of the Klingons, many fans, myself included, did not desire a canonical or an in-universe explanation for the changes in the appearance of the Klingons. We’ve understood that it was an increase budget that was responsible for the changes and no in-universe explanation was needed…or desired.

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Klingon Commander Kor in the Original Series.

The theories that were postulated that TOS Klingons were humans raised as Klingons, similar to Janissaries (Christians kidnapped by the Ottoman Empire from ca. 1300s to 1800s); that for cosmetic or diplomatic reasons, Klingons removed the ridges via surgery; that TOS Klingons were hybrids with a more human species, or that TOS Klingons were some border race conscripted or deployed near the Federation border.

Simple theories that the different Klingons were different racial breeds were complicated by the fact that the characters of Kang, Koloth, and Kor appeared with smooth features in the original series, yet had a ridged appearance in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and that Worf acknowledged the difference in appearances when the crew of Deep Space 9 returned to the 23rd century in the episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”, but offered no explanation, saying merely, “We do not discuss it with outsiders.”

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Klingon Commander Kor in Deep Space Nine.

Worf’s humorous remarks aside, and coupled with the facts Kang, Koloth and Kor had a ridged appearance in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, demonstrates to myself that no explanation for the changes of the appearance of the Klingons was necessary. This trio of Original Series Klingons appearing in Deep Space Nine shows that this is how they always did look…it was a retcon. A retcon is a change, or a reboot, within a franchise that isn’t given an canonical or an in-universe explanation for the changes. Ever since seeing the redesigned Klingons in 1979 in the movie Star Trek The Motion Picture I’ve taken it as a retcon and used my imagination and considered Klingons with ridges were how they always looked.

For 26 years the changes to the Klingons were simply a retcon. However, a canonical explanation for the change was given in a two-part storyline on Star Trek: Enterprise, in the episodes “Affliction” and “Divergence” that aired in February 2005. Attempting to replicate experiments by humans to create augmented soldiers, Klingon scientists used genetic material from human test subjects on their own people, which resulted in a viral pandemic which caused Klingons to develop human-like physical characteristics.

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Augmented Klingon

Dr. Phlox of the Enterprise formulated a cure for the virus, but the physical alterations remained in the populace and were inherited by offspring. Phlox indicated that “some day” the physical alterations could be reversed. The head scientist finally mentioned he would go into cranial reconstructive surgery, another nod to ‘restoration’ of the ridges for some Klingons.

I finally broke down and watched these two part episodes in 2017 and it did not change my mind one bit. I reiterate that this explanation of an augmented virus changing the look of the Klingons was unnecessary and while the explanation was a bit creative it was also a bit dumb and reaching. I’m not into the Enterprise series so I simply choose to ignore it and consider the changes to the Klingons to be a simple retcon. I’ve explained my position to some zealous canon fanatics and they’ve angrily told me “I can’t do that” and that the augmented virus explanation is canon and I need to “get behind it!”

In 2009 filmmaker JJ Abrams rebooted the Star Trek movie franchise. The 2009 movie, simply titled Star Trek, had new actors playing the characters from the Original Series with Leonard Nimoy who reprised his legendary role as Mr. Spock. The movie was a bit of a soft reboot and all explanations to the changes made were chalked up to the events there-within taking place in an alternate universe/reality or a parallel universe. Scenes with the Klingons were filmed, albeit with their heads covered, were left on the cutting room floor.

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It wouldn’t be until 2013 with the release of Abrams’ movie Star Trek Into Darkness, that we get to see a redesigned Klingon once again. In the movie we only get to see one Klingon. In the film, the villain Harrison/Khan transports to Kronos, homeworld of the hostile Klingons after attacking Starfleet and killing Captain Pike. Kirk leads a team with Spock and Uhura onto the planet in a small landing craft, where they are ambushed by Klingon patrols who order them to land. Uhura leaves the landing craft to talk to the Klingons. They decide to kill Uhura, but Harrison appears and kills the Klingons.

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The one Klingon we see is changed yet again. This Klingon had a hybrid look consisting of the spinal column look of the 1979 Klingons and the turtle shell look of the Next Generation era of Klingons. This Klingon also had ornamental piercings in his ridges and was completely bald. JJ Abrams movies have been divisive among the fan base and the redesign of the Klingon in this movie was no exception. Personally, I liked the look. It definitely had the look of a Klingon but even more fierce, harkening back to their characterization in the Original Series.

The last alteration to the Klingons occurred in the current series Star Trek Discovery. This was also a controversial move that I will devote an entire entry to in my next blog post.

The Evolution of the Klingons, Part I: Appearance.

(Captain’s Log: This is my first in a series examining the Klingons. The first entry, done in two parts, will focus simply on thier appearanc while subsequent entries will focus on the Klingon culture).

The Klingons are a fictional species in the science fiction franchise Star Trek.

Developed by screenwriter Gene L. Coon in 1967 for the original Star Trek (TOS) series, Klingons were swarthy humanoids characterized by prideful ruthlessness and brutality. Klingons practiced feudalism and authoritarianism, with a warrior casterelying on slave labor.

In subsequent television series and in later films, the militaristic traits of the Klingons were bolstered by an increased sense of honor and strict warrior code similar to those of bushio. The Klingons first appeared in the Star Trek episode “Errand of Mercy” (1967). They were named after Lieutenant Wilbur Clingan, who served with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in the Los Angeles Police Department.

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John Colicos as Kor from the Original Series episode “Errand of Mercy.”

In the original television series (TOS), Klingons were typically portrayed with bronze skin and facial hair suggestive of Asian people, and possessed physical abilities similar to humans (in fact, Coon’s only physical description of them in his “Errand of Mercy” script is “oriental” and “hard-faced”). The swarthy look of Klingon males was created with the application of shoe polish and long, thin moustaches; budget constraints limited creativity. The overall look of the aliens, played by white actors, suggested orientalism, at a time when memories of Japanese actions during World War II were still fresh.

With a greatly expanded budget for makeup and effects, the Klingons were completely redesigned for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), acquiring ridged foreheads. However, these rigged foreheads were not the typical “turtle shell” look they would soon have. In the pictures below is Mark Lenard, most famous for playing Sarek, father of Spock, in Star Trek; but here is playing a Klingon in Star Trek The Motion Picture.

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Mark Lenard from Star Trek the Motion Picture.

He doesn’t have the well known turtle shell look that the Klingons are known to have, instead, they have an extended spinal column that extends up their back over and down the center of their heads, stopping at the bridge of their nose. I greatly enjoy this look and I am disappointed that this look only appeared in this one movie. In the future the Klingons would adopt the turtle shell look and each would be unique to each individual Klingon. However, in Star Trek The Motion Picture each Klingon had an identical look with their spinal ridge in the center of their head. The turtle shell look gave female Klingons a high forehead, while this look rendered the males bald on top…I wonder how a female Klingon would look with this design?

While no Klingon characters were seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, their appearance as the central enemy in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) led to minor alterations. For the third generation of Klingons, the spinal column type ridges of The Motion Picture were redesigned and made less pronounced. Here is the first use of the classic turtle shell design of the Klingons.

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Christopher Lloyd as Kruge in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.

The release of a new television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, in 1987, set a century later than the original series on the USS Enterprise-D featured a Klingon crewmember, Worf. Makeup artist Michael Westmore needed a consistent reference to base the Klingon look on, as each individual Klingon was to have distinct head ridges. He found what he was looking for in a book of dinosaurs: observing dinosaur vertebrae laid out flat, Westmore cut the designs in half and modified them to suit each Klingon.

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Michael Dorn as Commander Worf.

Westmore designed his Klingons’ beards to be Elizabethan, combining prehistoric and aristocratic elements to give audiences a feeling of depth from the appearance. Over time, Westmore and the other makeup artists designed different sizes of prosthetic headpieces which could be quickly applied and modified to save time; the amount of preparation to turn an actor into a Klingon decreased from around three hours to one. While important characters had custom headpieces, background actors used pre-made masks with minor touchup around the eyes and mouth.

This look of the Klingons would remain stable and was used in subsequent series, Voyager, Deep Space 9 and Enterprise.

Batman & Nightwing: The Retcon of Robin

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I’d like to retcon Robin. First of all, let me define the concept and term retcon. Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established facts in a fictional work are adjusted, ignored, or contradicted by a subsequently published work which breaks continuity with the former.

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I’d like to get rid of Robin, Batman’s sidekick. Well, not completely. I still want Batman to have a sidekick, I’d just like to permanently replace Robin with Nightwing. As a character, Nightwing has appeared in various incarnations, with the Nightwing identity most prominently being adopted by Dick Grayson when he reinvented himself from his role as Batman’s vigilante partner Robin. Although Nightwing is commonly associated with Batman, the title and concept have origins in classic Superman stories.

The original Nightwing in DC Comics was an identity assumed by alien superhero Superman when stranded on the Kryptonian city of Kandor with his friend Jimmy Olsen. Drawing inspiration from Batman and Robin, the two protect Kandor as the superheroes Nightwing and Flamebird. Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity reboot in 1985, Nightwing was re-imagined as a legendary vigilante from Krypton whose story inspires Dick Grayson’s choice of name when he leaves behind his Robin identity.

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The first incarnation of Robin, with the secret identity of Dick Grayson, debuted in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940). Conceived as a way to attract young readership, Robin garnered overwhelmingly positive critical reception, doubling the sales of the Batman titles. The early adventures of Robin included Star Spangled Comics #65–130 (1947–1952), which was the character’s first solo feature. Robin made regular appearances in Batman related comic books and other DC Comics publications from 1940 through the early 1980s until the character set aside the Robin identity and became the independent superhero Nightwing. The team of Batman and Robin has commonly been referred to as the Caped Crusaders or Dynamic Duo.

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One of the reasons I’d like to retcon Robin is that ever since The Dark Knight Returns (alternatively titled Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) a 1986 four-issue comic book miniseries starring Batman, written by Frank Miller, illustrated by Miller and Klaus Janson, and published by DC Comics, the character of Robin doesn’t work so well as the character of Batman has returned to its darker more serious tone. No offense to the Carrie Kelly version of Robin from that series. I have no problem depiction Robin or Nightwing as a woman. Personally, I’ve always felt that Robin worked best as a character when Batman was depicted in a lighter tone such as the comic books of the 60s, the 1966 Batman series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, and the subsequent Superfriends cartoon series of the 1970s.

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This meme actually has some truth to it and one of the reasons I’d like to replace Robin with Nightwing within the Batman mythology. Batman is a vigilante crime fighter who dresses as a Bat and lurks in the shadows striking fear and terror in the heart of Gotham City’s criminal element. Batman dresses in black and gray so he can fade into the night and like a chameleon blends stealthily into his environment. So why dress up Robin in bright red, green and yellow that will stand out and draw attention to himself!? Plus, the name of Robin isn’t too scary or tough.

The costume and name of Nightwing blends well with the look of Batman and let’s face it, Nightwing is a much cooler sounding name for a sidekick! It’s a two syllable word like Robin, and Batman and Nightwing flows off the tongue just as easily Batman and Robin does.

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But it’s not just the name and the costume that needs to change. I’d like to envision this incarnation of Dick Grayson as Nightwing not as a circus performer whose family, the “Flying Graysons” were murdered, but more as a troubled street tough orphaned boy who had been from foster home to foster home. This more life hardened Dick Grayson would gel much better with the Darker interpretation of Batman that is more popular with the fans these days. Therefore we can say goodbye old chum to Robin and retcon Nightwing, or Batman and Nightwing, as if he’d always been there by Batman’s side.

Review: Godzilla, King of the Monsters (2019).

I am a Godzilla fan. Let me restate that. I am a HUGE Godzilla fan. My credentials? I own every Godzilla movie on either DVD or Blu-Ray and I watch them all on a regular basis. I also have various books and magazines about Godzilla. I also collect Godzilla figures. I have a dozen or so Bandai Godzilla figures and I have 20 high end Godzilla figures made by X-Plus.

Just by viewing the trailers I knew I’d love this movie…and I do! However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have some issues with the movie…and I do! First here is some basic background information on the film.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters (released as Godzilla II: King of the Monsters in some markets) is a 2019 American monster film directed by Michael Dougherty and co-written by Dougherty and Zach Shields from a story by Max Borenstein, Dougherty, and Shields. A sequel to Godzilla (2014), it is the 35th film in the Godzilla franchise, the third film in Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse, and the third Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio.

The film stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, and Zhang Ziyi. It is dedicated to executive producer Yoshimitsu Banno and original Godzilla suit performer Haruo Nakajima, who both died in 2017. In the film, humans must rely on Godzilla to defeat King Ghidorah, who has awakened other Titans to destroy the world.

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I’ve watched and read many reviews online and the consensus of those that gave the movie a negative review is that the human aspect of the story is chaotic, nonsensical and ultimately boring with uninteresting characters. This is where I disagree. I found the main characters very interesting and this increased my overall enjoyment of the movie.

This movie takes place in the aftermath of the 2014 Godzilla attacks and fights against the MUTOS. The fact that giant monsters, called Titans, do exist and both science and the government struggle with what to do with them creates the conflict and tensions that feed both the plot and overall tone of the film. The main characters, Dr. Emma Russell, a paleobiologist who works for the Titan-studying organization Monarch and her daughter Madison, are captured by a group of eco-terrorists, led by Alan Jonah, that suddenly attack the base, slaughtering everyone and kidnaps Emma and Madison. This occurs right after Emma and Madison witness the birth of a larva dubbed Mothra. Emma calms Mothra down with the “Orca”, a device capable of emitting frequencies that can attract or alter Titan behavior. Mothra flees and pupates under a waterfall.

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Monarch scientists Dr. Ishirō Serizawa and Dr. Vivienne Graham approach former employee Dr. Mark Russell, Emma’s ex-husband and Madison’s father, to help track them down. Mark is reluctant at first, due to his hatred for Godzilla (whom he blames for the death of Madison’s brother Andrew), but he eventually agrees. The Monarch team follows Godzilla to Antarctica, where Jonah intends to free a three-headed Titan codenamed “Monster Zero”.

Emma frees and awakens Monster Zero, which kills several Monarch members, including Dr. Graham, before battling Godzilla and escaping. The team then learn that Emma was not kidnapped by the terrorists, but is secretly working with them. Emma contacts Monarch and argues that the Titans must be awakened in order to heal the Earth from the damages that humans have caused. Many Titans, such as Rodan are set loose to carry out Emma’s and Jonah’s plan. This leaves Godzilla as the sole weapon to combat the other Titans and defend the earth.

In a nut shell, that is the basic plot. At the heart of the story is a family destroyed by the trauma of a giant monster attack that took the life of their son and how they find a way to make sense of their grief. Stuck in between the warring parents is Madison and it is up to her to decide which parent she will support and that will have a measurable effect on the outcome. Also, Emma’s motivation for releasing the Titans is very similar to the motivation Thanos had in Avengers Endgame. Both antagonist felt that by destroying the majority of humanity they could heal the destruction caused by humanity. In their eyes they aren’t doing evil, but an overall good in the context of the bigger picture.

I actually enjoyed the conflicts with in this family. It led to very good character development. Is very easy to create black and white, good and bad simplistic characters. This movie gave the characters motivations that were complex. Both Emma and her ex-husband, Mark Russell believe that their motives completely justified. Both are wrong and it takes the actions of their daughter (and Godzilla) to prove that. This is why I disagree with the negative reviews. Millie Bobby Brown is particularly outstanding in her big screen debut.

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But most people don’t watch Godzilla movies for the human story, we come to see Godzilla movies for their giant monster action, fights and throw downs. This movie has these in abundance and it is extremely satisfying! Much of the monster on monster action takes place in the background with the humans in the foreground. I enjoy this aspect of the action scenes for the most part. It creates a sense of scale that displays the giant size of these monsters in a way rarely seen in Toho’s movies. The only minor quibble about this is that I would have liked to have seen a little more lengthy focus on the monsters themselves and their battles.

The four major Kaiju from Toho’s panoply of monsters, Gozilla, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghodirah have been all redesigned. Even Godzilla has been updated since the 2014 movie. This incarnation of Godzilla is sporting new dorsal plates that resemble the 1954 original. His eyes are slightly larger, his feet have also been enlarged but his tail is a bit shorter.

This design of King Ghidorah is my favorite ever of this Kaiju. Although I’ve liked the Toho version of the monster I never cared for his wing design. His wings just seemed attached to him and beyond his control and worked independently of him. This design takes care of that issue. His wings are attached with armlike appendages similar to a bat. This way you can see Ghidorah flap and control his wings. Below is some fan art that demonstrates this point.

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One of my issues with the movie is the color saturation and pallet. The above pictures scattered through my review demonstrates this issue. With the majority of the Kaiju battles taking place during inclement weather, along with this color saturation, renders the CGI creatures a bit unrealistic or not so lifelike from time to time. This doesn’t happen all the time but enough for me for it to be an issue. I just hope with next years Godzilla vs King Kong they have some Monster scenes in the daytime!

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Director Michael Dougherty really did make this movie for the fans. The movie has tons of Easter eggs and nods to the franchise. Some have complained that this constitutes fan service and that it is just there to please the fans without any real relationship to the film. I found only one moment like that and it is the reference to the Oxygen Destroyer. It actually made me cringe! It was definitely there for the fans. They could have named this weapon anything. The problem is that the two times this trope was used (in the 1954 original and the 1995 movie Godzilla vs Destroyer) it was vital and essential to the plot. In this movie it wasn’t that essential, at least the name wasn’t, it just came out of the blue, it didn’t work and was never heard from again. If you’re going to use this iconic symbol of the franchise I think it needs to be used in a manner that is more vital to the plot and not a throwaway reference to please the fans.

All in all this was what I expected from a Godzilla movie. An enjoyable story with great special effects and thrilling monster on monster fights in a tone that is fun and mixed equally with both drama and humor.

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Avengers Endgame: Review

There will be spoilers!

Avengers Endgame completes the “Infinity Saga” of films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that began with the premiere of Iron Man in the United States on May 2, 2008. Avengers Endgame really wraps this saga up in an epic and fantastic fashion! Is it a perfect movie? No! Is it completely enjoyable? Absolutely! The movie does involve time travel as our gallant superheroes try to undo the fatal snap perpetuated by Thanos in Avengers Infinity War and time travel often create glaring plot holes and that is the major issue with Avengers Endgame.

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Personally, I just absolutely love time travel movies despite the plot holes they create. I’ve read on line from those that have a less favorable view of this film suggest that the time travel trope is a cop out and an easy way to resolve the problem of undoing Thanos’s snap. I disagree. I found the time travel elements to the story created some exciting and humorous events. When the Avengers, along with newcomer Captain Marvel, go to defeat Thanos after the snap, where he’s destroyed the Infinity Stones, Thor, in his anger and frustration, decapitates a greatly weakened Thanos which makes permanent the losses that occurred in the snap.

The film jumps ahead five years later. Captain Marvel has returned to space where she can be more useful. Thor has moved to New Asgard where he has gotten fat and out of shape from eating pizza, drinking beer and playing the video game Fortnight with Korg. Captain America is running a support group and Tony Stark has married Pepper Potts and had a daughter, while Bruce Banner has integrated his alter ego, the Hulk, into a hybrid being known as “Professor Hulk” (although this name is not mentioned in the movie). As the Avengers, or what’s left of them, adjust to this new existence, hope springs from one of the smallest places.

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Ant-Man, stuck in the Quantum Realm, is finally, shall I say accidentally, released from there…by a rat! Scott Lang (Ant-Man) confronts Captain America and Black Widow (Natasha Romanov) and tries to convince them that time travel to gather the Infinity Stones before Thanos can get ahold of them is their only choice to undo the snap. What ensues is an elaborate scheme of the Avengers, divided into groups, traveling back in time to gather the Infinity Stones and by so doing revisit certain moments in previous films. They’re successful in gathering the stones and just as the Hulk reverses the snap the Avengers are attacked by Thanos of the past after he had been alerted by his daughter Nebula who uncovered the Avengers plans. From there an epic and final battle between the forces of Thanos and the vast forces of the Aveng commences.

The final battle is truly epic and amazing.

Each character has their moment to shine in this very crowded movie! However, I do want to mention a few characters and my overall thoughts on the movie.

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I do like the merger of Bruce Banner and the Hulk into Professor Hulk. It’s funny and entertaining and an interesting solution to the Banner/Hulk dichotomy. My minor complaint is we really don’t get to see the Hulk rampaging. Sure, we have a few moments where we see the past Hulk smashing things, but when it comes to the final battle Professor Hulk doesn’t do too much at all, and since he is supposed to be one of the most powerful of the Avengers, his ineffectiveness is a bit disappointing.

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I really got a kick out of The Big Labowski version of Thor. Although come the time of the epic final battle Thor wasn’t as mighty and powerful as he’d been in Avengers Infinity War and elsewhere in the series. Thor was initially supposed to revert back to his “old chiseled self” in the middle of Endgame, but Hemsworth successfully argued in favour of retaining Thor’s aged and out of shape physique. Again, this left me slightly disappointed. Although, I was happy to see Thor wielding Mjolnir once again because I do prefer it over Stormbreaker.

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Captain Marvel has fast become my favorite character. At the end of Infinity War we see Nick Fury contacting her via the modified pager. One of the things I love about Superman (yes, I’m aware he’s D.C. and this is Marvel) is when he easily swoops in to save the day. I really had high hopes that Captain Marvel would play an equally significant role in defeating Thanos. I wasn’t too disappointed because she did have some shinning moments, such as crashing through Thanos’s ship. Although Thanos was able to defeat her with one of the Infinity Stones, much to my chagrin, I did think it was pretty awesome when Thanos head butted her and she didn’t even flinch!

However, as I thought about it, this really wasn’t going to be her moment shine. This isn’t her movie. She’s new to the Avengers and the MCU in general. In truth this was Captain America and Iron Man’s movie. It was their story arch that was resolved.

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Yes this is Captain America’s movie. It was very satisfying seeing Captain America wielding Mjolnir and possessing the power of Thor (as Odin said those who were worthy would). For Captain America was indeed worthy to pick up Thor’s hammer. For years he denied his own wants and wishes in service of doing that which is good and that which is right. And after years of service and aiding in defeating Thanos, and after returning the Infinity Stones, Cap gets to live out the life he’d given up and marries Peggy Carter. His story arch comes to its conclusion in a a most satisfying way.

This is also Iron Man’s movie. When we first met Tony Stark back in 2008 he was a narcissistic booze addled womanizer. Flash forward to the events of Avengers Endgame. Tony is a responsible father and willing to put everything on the line to defeat Thanos. When Doctor Strange signals to Iron Man that they are indeed in the only scenario, out of millions, where Thanos is defeated, Tony knows what to do. This former narcissistic booze addled womanizer pays the ultimate and selfless price by giving his life in exchange for all others. This altruistic act, while very sad to watch, is also beautifully poignant and emotionally satisfying as one of the best characters in the MCU redeems himself.

In the end the resolution of the story arch of both Captain America and Iron Man is what makes Avengers Endgame a truly great and rewarding movie.

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So, I like “crappy” movies!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

The 1990s: My favorite Decade for Science-Fiction 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?

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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.

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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.

Total Recall
The Fifth Element
Judge Dredd
Demolition Man
Independence Day
Men in Black
Galaxy Quest
Stargate
Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park: The Lost World
Starship Troopers
The Matrix
Contact
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
Godzilla 1998
Godzilla 2000
Back to the Future III
Coneheads
Time Cop
The Arrival
Mars Attacks
Armegeddon
Deep Impact
Bicentennial Man
Batman Returns
Batman Forever
Batman and Robin
Matilda
Phenomenon
Groundhog Day
Jumanji
Dragonheart

Star Trek Review: The Cage

The Cage

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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.

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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.

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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.

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