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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/

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The New STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Teaser

There is a new Star Trek Into Darkness teaser trailer and it shows some footage not seen in other trailers. This trailer focuses on Captain Kirk and as usual the good Captain has himself in some hot water. This post does have some Spoilers!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RxZcxkFZZP0

This is one of my three most anticipated films of 2013. The other two are The Man of Steel and Pacific Rim. I really enjoyed 2009’s reboot Star Trek. Even though I have been a fan since the early 70s and love the original series and the original crew the 2009 movie is my favorite Star Trek movie. This trailer, along with the other trailers I have seen, seem to insure that Star Trek Into Darkness will be my new favorite Star Trek movie.

One of the reasons is that it seems to be a movie I will enjoy more is that it looks to be filled with action and adventure. Some of the criticisms the 2009 movie received by some of the more rabid fans is that because that movie also had a sense of action and adventure, it was said to have been a dumbed down version of Star Trek. I couldn’t disagree more. Star Trek has a reputation of being cerebral and an intellectual Science Fiction franchise.

I do not think that reputation is well deserved. Yes, Star Trek, specifically, the original series, did have though provoking episode that dealt with current social problems of the day. Star Trek: The Next Generation is more cerebral than the original series. While I also love the Next Generation some of the episodes, that dealt with more intellectual themes are a bit boring to re-watch today.

I have no shame in admitting that I love action and adventure and my desire for great intellectual science-fiction is not very high. I do enjoy science-fiction that does make us look at ourselves and our current state and the directions in which humanity is moving, but I also do not want it to be heavy-handed or preachy. I think the 2009 Star Trek did strike a good balance. We saw good character development juxtaposed with entertaining action and adventure.

Star Trek Into Darkness seems to also strike that same balance, character development, SPOILER ALERT…we do know that kirk gets in trouble and may actually temporarily lose his command, along with great action and adventure. The trailers pull me in and even in the short time span of a trailer I am lost in the viewing. That is what I look for in a movie and Star trek Into Darkness seems to be able to deliver on that promise of escaping into a world we have not experienced.

The movie opens May 15!

Since I just completed my review of all 29 Godzilla movies, I will , starting Friday, review all the previous Star Trek movies leading up to the new movie.

The Encounter: Conclusion

Now for the conclusion of my short story:

Whenever the figure was bathed in the flashing lights from the vehicle Debbie could make out some slight detail. She assumed it was a male and he seemed to be wearing something like a uniform. It almost looked like a dark jogging suit but it didn’t resemble anything a fireman or public works employee would be wearing. He was wearing a hat that resemble a baseball cap with a wide and long brim that covered his eyes and blocked the view of his face. He wore gloves and for an instant it looked to her that the flashlight he was holding seemed to be more of an extension of his arm than something he was holding in his hand. She dismissed this thought as quickly as it came to her and the figure motioned for her to pull the car closer.

Paralyzed with fear Debbie refused. The figure took a couple of steps toward her and spoke to her in a muffled tone with a stilted and mechanical cadence. He told her that they were having a little difficulty with their vehicle and that they were almost done fixing it and should be on their way momentarily. Debbie barely managed to nod in approval to the figure when suddenly a loud trumpet like blast pierced the dark night. Startled, Debbie naturally looked in the direction of the vehicle from which the sound emanated.  The deafening sound coincided with the lights from the vehicle intensifying for a moment while at that same instant the vehicle seemed to belch out a misty exhaust from all sides.

As the mist enveloped her car Debbie’s heart pounded louder, her throat tightening in near panic. She instinctively grabbed her cell phone although she knew it was worthless at this point. The mist hovered over her car and began to seep through. She was almost afraid to breath in the mystery substance. To Debbie it did not smell like typical exhaust fumes but just what it did smell like she could not determine. The mist from the exhaust began to clear and dissipate almost as soon as it had been expelled and the lights from the vehicle dimmed to their previous intensity. Debbie suddenly felt more relaxed and she noticed how tired and sleepy she had become. She wasn’t even alarmed when the figure came toward her saying, “All will be right.” When he grew closer she noticed his chin seemed rather thinly formed and slightly wrinkled giving her the idea that he was an older gentlemen settling her further at ease. She leaned back and rested her body against the seat of her car and noticed that she was feeling real drowsy and that her eyelids were becoming very heavy. She surrendered to the moment and felt herself drifting off to sleep.

She snapped herself out of this state and noticed the vehicle was no longer on the shoulder but now residing in the center of the road. She noticed the figure still standing near her and he began to speak to her in a monotone voice, “You may now go.” The vehicle had turned off the majority of its flashing lights but Debbie still could not see in much detail. She watched the figure walk back to the vehicle and fade into the light and the darkness. As the vehicle began driving down the road Debbie noticed how quiet it was. She pulled her car into drive and proceeded on her way. Once they were both beyond the wooded area the strange vehicle turned off onto a side road while Debbie continued straight on the main road. When she looked out the side of her window to see where the vehicle had gone but saw nothing but darkness.

 

Debbie glanced at the clock on the dashboard of her car and noticed that less than five minutes had passed. She laughed at herself and realized that her anxious mind had once again gotten the best of her. She felt more relaxed now that this was over but she felt sore and achy from head to toe. She hadn’t felt this way earlier but rationalized it as due to her being over stressed from a nerve-wracking shift at work. The drizzling rain had completely stopped and some of the clouds were now giving way to reveal numerous stars peppered across the night sky.

 

Arriving home shortly, Debbie breathed a tremendous sigh of relief on catching a glimpse of her husband peaking through the curtain. She thought it was slightly odd that he was home first because generally she would be home at least twenty minutes before he arrived. Dragging herself out of her car, she exchanged her keys for the cell phone in her purse. She fumbled with it in vain. It was completely drained as she felt. Every muscle and joint felt as if she had slept on a pile of rocks.

 

Her husband opened the door for her and she expected that he would greet her with a warm welcome and a loving kiss. Her expectations were not met and instead she noticed that he had a look on his face that was mixed with anxious concern along with annoyance and anger.

 

“Did your cell phone die again!?”  he asked.

 

“Yeah, I forgot to charge it before leaving for work today,” she admitted rather sheepishly.

 

“Where have you been? I called work and they said you left right at 11:00pm.” he asked with curious irritation.

 

“I drove straight home!” she replied defensively. The stress of the evening and her encounter on the ride home coupled with her physical exhaustion could no longer be suppressed and Debbie began to cry. Seeing his wife visibly shaken and upset moved him and he reached for her and placing her in a warm embrace said, “I am very concerned honey, because it usually doesn’t take you three hours to drive home.”

The Encounter: Part I

Here is something different for this blog. This is a short science fiction story that I wrote about a year ago. Enjoy!

Debbie still dreaded the ride home. Despite having worked the 3:00 to 11:00pm shift at the local hospital for fifteen years Debbie still had trepidations with the twenty minute drive home through the country side. The scenery on the drive between the hospital that straddled the edge of town and the small ranch house in the country she shared with her husband consisted of rolling hills, farmland and forests. Each season during the daylight hours the road was like a tranquil painted landscape for her to enjoy on her way to work. The trip home on the other hand gave Debbie’s sensitive nerves and over active imagination ample opportunity to run away with her. This time of year, late autumn, when all the leaves have been vanquished from the trees and the bare skeletal branches swayed with the rhythms of the chilly November winds was the time that Debbie dreaded the most.

Thanksgiving was just two days away and she was so pleased that she had secured that coveted day off giving her three straight days that she could spend with her family. Her husband also worked the same shift as a manager at a local shopping center. Since he too would have Thanksgiving off Debbie was enthusiastic and more relaxed at the start of tonight’s ride home. The weather had been unseasonably warm for a typical November and although most of the day itself had been sunny the evening hours brought a cold front sweeping through the area with heavy wind driven rain. Although the rain had tapered off to a misty drizzle by the time Debbie pulled her car out of the lot the roads were slippery and the low lying heavy cumulus clouds choked the evening air.

More exhausted than usual from her difficult shift Debbie allowed the car to warm up while she attempted to engage in her usual ritual of calling her husband on her cell phone to tell  him she was on her way home. When she dug her cell phone out of her cluttered purse despair and frustration took over her as she swiftly realized that it had gone dead due to her failure once again to make sure it was fully charged before work. Not having her cell phone available for her sojourn home filled Debbie with anxiety. She was a petite woman and this constantly left her feeling vulnerable to anyone that may want to take advantage of her. Since her car was old and not always dependable and with a dead cell phone that had no chance or resuscitation until she got home, her anxiety grew exponentially as her imagination began running unrestrained with all the potential calamities that could happen to her on the winding road home.

To sooth her tattered nerves she turned on her radio and searched the dial for something to listen to.  The first station she found was one with conservative talk radio. For a moment she thought about leaving it on because she was so tired she thought that the talk show host’s blathering rants would keep her awake until it dawned on her that his bombastic and irrational tactics would enrage her to the point she would probably snap at her husband as soon as she walked through the door. She settled on a station that plays light classical music and she immediately found that it gave solace to her tired and tattered nerves. She also realized that the music kept in time to the swishing of the windshield wiper blades. She noted that they needed to be replaced as they smeared and stained the windshield with the leaves and streaks from the mist of the rain leaving it more difficult to see the road.

With warmth from the car heater and the soothing strains of “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons playing in the background Debbie found herself less tense and anxious although this relaxed state made her feel more sleepy. There were not many street lights lining the country road and one of the first sections of the highway that she passed through was a heavily wooded section where the toes of forest nearly crept to the edge of the road. This time of year Debbie also knew to keep a watchful eye on the side of the road because deer were well known to dart across the road without any notice. In order to ensure that she would remain alert she turned down the heat a notch and turned up the radio.

About half-way home, Debbie reached a bend in the road and noticed that coming from around the bend were strange white, green, yellow and red flashing lights. The lights seemed brighter than what she had experienced before whenever a road crew has been working at night. She wondered what could have happened? Had their been an accident, a power line down, a tree fallen across the road?

She didn’t have long to contemplate and although she cautiously slowed down as she rounded the bend she was soon upon a very strange scene. Straddling the shoulder of the road was a rather large vehicle that proved to be the source of the flashing lights. The lights were blinding and seemed to be set all over the vehicle. Because of the brightness of the lights Debbie could not determine the design of the vehicle itself. It could have been anything. She could not tell if it was a repair truck or a fire truck or some other vehicle that either the city or the county owned. Standing in the road near the vehicle were a  pair of figures with some type of oddly-shaped flashlights in their hands. She slowed down her car to a snail’s pace and looked around while simultaneously trying to shield her eyes from the assault of the bright lights. She could not detect anything out of the ordinary.

Her heartbeat had quickened when she first saw the lights and her tension began to rise once more. She came to a complete stop and noticed one of the figures began walking toward her. She was about to roll her window down to speak with this person when for no apparent justifiable reason she was gripped with fear. She sat frozen hugging her steering wheel as the figure slowly approached her.  It stopped near the hood of her car just left of her headlights. Despite the flashing lights, or because of them, she could not see many details. She noticed this figure was rather short and couldn’t have been more than five feet two inches tall.

…the Conclusion on Wednesday.

Looper

I have wanted to see this movie since I saw the trailer come out last year. This past week I finally had the chance to view it. I really thought the premise was new and unique. It is a time travel movie which is set in the near future of this century. The main part of the story is set in 2044 when time travel has not been discovered or invented yet. Once time-travel is established it is swiftly outlawed therefore it becomes the jurisdiction of organized crime. Crime bosses begin sending  people from the future back to the past of 2044 to be assassinated. These assassins are paid with silver bars  strapped to the victims back. They assassins kill their victims as they immediately materialize in the past.

When your service as an assassin is no longer needed your future self is sent back to you for assassination. Since all the victims are hooded when they appear in the past for assassination, the assassins never know who they are killing. You will not know you have killed your future self until you see that instead of silver bars being strapped to the back of the victim, you will find gold bars instead, thanking you for your service. The assassins loop is now closed, which is why these assassins are called loopers.

The movie stars Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt. Willis and Gordon-Levitt play the older and younger versions of the main character Joe Simmons. Everything is going well for Young Joe. The silver bars that are found on the victims are to be given to the head Crime Lord in the present (2044). The Crime Lord, played by Jeff Daniels, is well aware that Young Joe is keeping half of the silver for himself. One day an unhooded victim materializes before Young Joe and it turns out to be his future self, who in no way is ready to be killed. Old Joe has come to the past to kill the Crime Lord, called the Rainmaker, who is in charge of the crime syndicate in the future. After confronting his younger self in a diner where he tells his younger self that he has turned his life around in the future, Young Joe makes it clear to his older self that he is going to finish the job and close the loop.

In 2044 the future Crime Lord, the Rainmaker, is just a child, so Old Joe is looking for him but is not clear on his identity. It just so happens that the young rainmaker, who has telekinetic powers, lives in the farm-house next to where Young Joe kills his victim. The Rainmaker’s mother or guardian (the movie is not clear on that point) and Young Joe hold out in the farm-house protecting the young boy. As this is going on assassins are after Young Joe for his failure to close the loop and kill his older self. We also discover that Old Joe is out to kill the rainmaker because the rainmaker kills his wife in the future after she had helped him turn his life around.

I do not like to spoil films so I will not go into detail on how the film ends.

This film was on many reviewers lists as being one of the best of 2012. I really wanterd to like this movie much more than I did. I like time-travel movies and mafia movies so what is not to like? I think I am losing my enjoyment for very violent films and this is a very violent film. I have more to discuss on  that topic on Wednesday’s blog. The later part of the movie depicts Old Joe killing children he suspects as the rainmaker. Although the film doesn’t show the killings but it does show Old Joe going after them and it is mentioned in the film that Old Joe has killed them. I generally don’t like movies with a dystopian view of the future and although we don’t get a view of the majority of society, just organized crime, the move does show a bleak future is many ways. I think the word bleak is a good description of the movie.

Another complain of the film is that once we get to the farm-house and the interactions between Young Joe, rainmaker (called Cid as a younger child) and his mother Sara, the movie actually slows down and gets a little tedious for me. There is a plot hole in the movie where we see Young Joe actually killing Old Joe but then at some point arrive back to that scene but this time Old Joe escapes. I don’t think the reasons for that are well explained.

I usually like Bruce Willis. I recently read a book by Kevin Smith who directed Cop Out a movie starring Bruce Willis. Smith did not have a lot of positive things to say about Willis. One of the things he mentioned in his book was that Willis didn’t want to memorize a lot of dialogue and changed many scenes so he didn’t have to speak. That came to mind with this film. Other than the diner scene with his younger self, Willis doesn’t have a lot of dialogue in the movie. I felt disconnected to his character because of that.

This movie is essentially joyless and that is one of the reasons I didn’t care for it. That along with the violence and the slower pace of the second act where the movie drags. I was going to turn the movie off but was engaged enough to see it through to the end. I really did like the performance from  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom I had recently seen in the Dark Knight Rises. He is a bright spot in a dark and somber film.

Ray Bradbury 1920-2012

Sadly reporting the passing of Science Fiction writer Ray Bradbury. 

Ray Bradbury — author of The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked this Way Comes, and many more literary classics — died this morning in Los Angeles, at the age of 91.

We’ve got confirmation from the family as well as his biographer, Sam Weller.

His grandson, Danny Karapetian, shared these words with io9 about his grandfather’s passing: “If I had to make any statement, it would be how much I love and miss him, and I look forward to hearing everyone’s memories about him. He influenced so many artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and it’s always really touching and comforting to hear their stories. Your stories. His legacy lives on in his monumental body of books, film, television and theater, but more importantly, in the minds and hearts of anyone who read him, because to read him was to know him. He was the biggest kid I know.”

Source: io9.com