21 Real Deleted Scenes…

…That Completely Changed Famous Movies:


Now, let me be upfront and say the following: Some of these deleted scenes didn’t really change the famous movie they’re from.  Not all that much, anyway.

For example, the deleted scene from Jaws is amusing but hardly a game changer in terms of what occurs in that movie.  The same goes with the J. J. Abrams’ directed Star Trek.  Interesting little scene, for sure, and it adds information to the young James Kirk’s hardly idyllic life, but it doesn’t radically alter what comes afterwards.

On the other hand, the slide show points out some genuinely interesting cut sequences that do indeed change the film, sometimes for the better.  For example, I wish that Superman II had kept the three Kryptonians being hauled off by the police at the very end.  I always felt that having them fall into what seemed like a very deep pit was…disturbing.  Superman should not kill or allow someone to die.  And, no, I have not seen Man of Steel yet.  I’ll give my opinion on that soon enough.

The cut sequence regarding Dallas’ fate in Alien, likewise, is a fascinating bit as well.  Interestingly enough, that sequence wound up being the entire basis of Aliens!  Ironically enough, Aliens featured a scene similar to this Dallas scene, and it too wound up being cut.  It isn’t mentioned in the above article, so I’ve embedded it below.  Check it out:

Finally, I thought the cut sequence in Star Trek II was interesting and certainly added to the pain Scotty felt for the deceased crew member.  But, was the scene necessary in the end?  Shouldn’t Scotty -and the rest of the senior crew, for that matter- feel bad about every young crew member’s death?

Most overrated musical anniversary?

Author Stephen Deusner for Salon.com on why the 50th Anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand is one of the more overrated musical anniversaries out there (and, no, I don’t believe his article is a Beatles-bash):


Mr. Deusner presents compelling information regarding other songs released in and around that same time that are arguably better than The Beatles’ hit, which effectively signaled the “British Invasion” into the United States.  Of those mentioned, I have to admit this one is a far more mature, elaborate, and overall better song (IMHO!) than I Want To Hold Your Hand:

Let me add very quickly the following, though: The Beatles, unlike many of the bands/artists represented in the article who one could argue made better music (actually a better song) than their I Want To Hold Your Hand, went on to produce a virtual library of music and redefined pop-music and art music and, for that matter, all music.

Thing is, their early releases -again, to me- are at times dated pop songs or pretty good cover songs that often followed regular 50’s rock conventions.  That’s not to say I fell the songs were all bad.  Quite the contrary, there were many, many gems to be found in the initial four albums but it wasn’t until the release of their fifth album, the soundtrack of Help!, that I felt they began the journey to making truly memorable -and outstanding- music.  Others site the two albums that immediately followed it, Rubber Soul and Revolver, as the point where The Beatles really “found” themselves.

Regardless, the point Mr. Deusner makes is probably true.  While The Beatles certainly found considerable success and I Want To Hold Your Hand was the first of their songs to become a big hit in the U.S., it was only a hint as to the better things that were to come as the band gained experience and matured.

Is it an overrated musical anniversary?  I suppose it might well be, though in no way does saying so diminish the incredible output of what is arguably the best band that ever was.

5 Great Movies…

…That Were Turned Into Terrible Books:


Gotta hand it to the folks at Cracked.com for this list.  There was a time when novelizations of movies were quite in vogue.  We are not talking about novels that were written and released and subsequently made into films.  We’re talking about hiring an author, while a movie is being made, to write a “novelization” of the film in production.  Said novel is then released concurrently with the film to allow the studios to make more money off their product.

I used to read a few of the ones that interested me, in particular those that were about films I was dying to see.  Oftentimes, the novelization of the film would be released a month or more before the film was in theaters, and in those pre-internet days it was rare to hear much about the film before its release.

Way back in 1989, for example, I would literally kill to see the Tim Burton directed Batman. All that was known was that Michael Keaton was playing Bruce Wayne/Batman (and the fan base was really confused about that choice) but, on the bright side, Jack Nicholson was playing the Joker, and that had everyone thinking good thoughts.

Some time shortly before the film was released I got my hands on the Batman novelization.  As it turned out, I didn’t get a chance to read it before seeing the film…

I was of two minds with the Batman film.  While I really, really loved the first half of the film and my young(er) mind would easily give that first half four stars, roughly from the point immediately after the Joker states “Wait til they get a load of me!” on, the film became overly weird and…silly.  It was as if the movie’s makers were winging (no pun intended) it from that scene, allowing the Joker to do his increasingly crazy (and for the most part pointless) stuff while Batman slowly comes after him.

A little after seeing the film, I decided, just for the heck of it, to read the novelization.  What I read wound up surprising me.  The first half of the book, if memory serves, followed the film pretty closely.  However, the second half of the book -again, if memory serves- was almost nothing like the second half of the film.  Not that it was any better, mind you, than the film, but clearly this was a movie/novelization that featured a pretty good first half but never could come up with an equally good second half.

I can only guess that the novelization followed the screenplay and the screenplay, as the film was being made, was essentially tossed out in the second half and reworked “on the fly”.

My most vivid memory of something in the novel not featured in the movie is a sequence where Bruce Wayne goes to visit Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) in her apartment for a date.  The Joker, it turns out, has developed an interest in Vicki and, as Bruce and Vicki are about to leave the apartment on their date, the Joker appears at the door.  Bruce and the Joker talk to each other (a sequence I can only imagine was designed to allow Michael Keaton to actually act opposite Jack Nicholson without having a disguise on) and in the end the Joker either knocks out or shoots Bruce Wayne, apparently killing him, and kidnapping Vicki.

Bruce, it turns out, was carrying a metal tray or had some kind of bullet proof suit on and the bullet was stopped by said item.  Bruce leaps out the window after the two (who still think he’s dead) and jumps from building to building (sans Batman suit) while pursuing them, in touch with Alfred and telling him where he is so that he can bring the Batman suit to him.  Eventually, he does.

Yet again, I must warn you: I’m going by very old memories here, so some of the details presented above may not be quite right, but this sequence, obviously, wasn’t part of the Batman film.

A curiosity, for sure!


The Kings of Summer (2013) a (mildly) belated review

Found the trailer for The Kings of Summer attached to another movie and found it quite humorous:

So I put the film on my Netflix que and soon enough it arrived.  Yesterday I finally had a chance to see the film.  Did it live up to this delightful trailer?



The first half of the film, which is most in evidence in the trailer, is damn good as we meet the three leads, a trio of high school friends who decide to make a home in the woods so they can live as “men”.  First up is Joe (Nick Robinson), the instigator, who finds it increasingly difficult to live with his moody widowed father (Nick Offerman in a role that while still using what are his standard -and very humorous- comedic tropes, nonetheless gives him a chance to present a character who is genuinely hurting inside).  Next up is Joe’s friend Patrick (Gabriel Brasso) who also has considerable trouble with his parents, to the point where he has developed hives.  Rounding out the group is the genuinely bizarre Biaggio (Moises Arias), who is given the lion’s share of funny lines and reactions.

Along with a need to get out of his house, Joe also pines for Kelly (Erin Moriarty), a High School crush who likes him as a friend, though it is his sincere hope that one day they might become more.

In that first half of the film the boys run away from their homes and build their “new” house in the woods while their worried parents engage the police (a bungling -and also quite hilarious- duo played by Mary Lynn Rajskub and Thomas Middleditch) to help find them.

With me so far?

As I was saying, I loved the first half of the film but, unfortunately, the second half was nearly as good.  The second half of the film tries to tone down the humor and bring in more drama.  I didn’t really mind the shift that much but was bothered by a feeling that Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the director, was drawing things out and, to be blunt, becoming too “artsy” in his presentation.

What was until that point a delightful rush became a slog.  There were several sequences that didn’t feel like they needed to be in the film and should have either been cut down significantly or removed entirely (why did we need to see the extended preparation of the rabbit?  Why did we need to see those two young impulsive lovers who bump into Joe in the river?).  The “artsy” bits and pieces presented here and there, of nature and flowers and animals and water, after a while also felt like overkill.

By the time the film ended, I was truly torn.  On the one hand, the first half plus of the film was delightful and achieved a beautiful balance between being laugh out loud funny while still presenting a realistic/serious picture of what it is like to be a young teen with “difficult” parents.  The adults, who could have been treated as cardboard “jokes” were given more depth than initially met the eye, in particular in the portrayal of Joe’s father.

But that second half of the film ruined most, if not all, that goodwill.

In the end, I find it difficult to recommend this film in spite of the many, many good things to be found within it.  Truly, that is a shame.  However, even if the movie didn’t ultimately work for me in its entirely, director Vogt-Roberts created enough good stuff for me to keep him on my radar.

I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.

One last time…

I’m driving home Saturday and, by chance, notice one of those many -at least in these parts- employees standing at the side of the road advertising a store.  There were two of them, actually.  One was carrying a banner for Little Caesar’s Pizza, advertising the new “Deep Deep” dish pizzas.

Next to him was another man, carrying a sign for the soon to go out of business Blockbuster, and the “final sale” of all stock and inventory.

Blockbuster Finally Ending DVD Service

Though the above isn’t a photo of the particular store I went to, it looks very, very similar, complete with the “Store Closing” sign in front of it.

Having nothing much to do at the moment, I turned into the strip mall, parked my car, and was inside the store.  It occurred to me this was the first time I set foot into a Blockbuster in many, many years.  Perhaps as many as five.  Perhaps even more.

I was surprised by this as well as the fact that so little changed within the store.  You had the “new arrivals” sections and walls of DVD films, BluRay films, and videos.  Toward the front you had the “snacks”, including plenty of chocolates and candies along with various microwavable popcorns.

I approached the “new” section and picked up BluRay copies of The Heat and Pacific Rim, both selling at closeout (ie non-returnable) prices of $12.99 each.  I liked The Heat quite a bit and was willing, especially for the extras and “unrated cut”, to pick up the BluRay, though I didn’t have that much of an intention of getting the film for my personal collection (some films you enjoy and want to have them for your personal collection, others you may like quite a bit but don’t necessarily want to own them…The Heat fell in that later category).  I hadn’t seen Pacific Rim yet, so that was a “new” feature.  I then examined the video games section but I suspect I was a little too late to take advantage.  The games that remained held little interest, and were still priced rather high.

I then went through the TV on DVD section and, though there were some intriguing works to be found, none were worth pursuing.  Most were relatively new and popular shows, from 24 to Lost to The Big Bang Theory.

Lastly, I looked over the BluRay section and there, I wound up picking up two more BluRays, Cabin in the Woods and Star Trek: Into DarknessCabin cost me $6.99 while Star Trek was $12.99.  If you’ve followed my reviews, I wasn’t all that impressed with Cabin, especially the ending, but for that price I was willing to give it a second look.  As for Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’ve noted before that I enjoyed seeing it in the theaters but wasn’t all that wild about it afterwards.  Again, for that bargain price I was willing to pick it up.

All that was left to see were the snacks and candies.  There, I wound up buying some microwaveable popcorn for less than a buck each.

By this point my search through this fresh corpse was effectively done and I gave the store one more -one last– look.  I didn’t think I’d be back, and memories of past years, when Blockbuster mattered, came back.  There was a time a good friend of mine worked in the store.  There was a time I frequented the place every few days, looking for not just new films but films from the past.

Blockbuster, like Borders and Circuit City before them, fell prey to being too large in a time when the internet simply murdered their product.  Why go to a Blockbuster when you can stream a film?  Or order it through Netflix?  Or simply buy it as the prices of movies have become pretty reasonable.

Blockbuster remained Blockbuster even when the world found a better way to get her services.  And now, she was done.

I felt bad for those four or five employees -all with pleasant smiles on their faces- behind the counter.  Every one of them were about to lose their jobs, and in these tough economic times, that is a big problem indeed.

I walked out and headed to the car.  After opening the door, I took another look at the store.  Soon, there would be an empty space there, and I wondered what would come next.

The return of…Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.E.R.?

Interesting article from Huffington Post regarding the settlement between MGM, the production company Danjaq, and the estate of Kevin McClory.  What does this have to do with James Bond’s arch-villain and head of the evil organization known as S.P.E.C.T.E.R., Ernst Stavro Blofeld?  Read on and learn:


For those who wondered what the deal was with Sean Connery’s last (until now unofficial) outing as James Bond, 1983’s Never Say Never Again, a thinly veiled remake of the 1965 Bond film Thunderball, the answers can be found in that article.

For those unwilling to check the article out, the bottom line is this: Mr. McClory collaborated with James Bond creator/author Ian Fleming with some concepts that he felt Mr. Fleming eventually “appropriated” without attribution and in the novel Thunderball.  In the making of the 1965 movie, Mr. McClory came up with both the white-Persian-cat petting Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.E.R.  Blofeld, always played by a different actor in film, would become Bond’s arch-villain and appear not only in Thunderball but in the three subsequent Bond films You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) and Diamonds Are Forever (1971).

After that four movie run as Bond’s archvillain, Blofeld abruptly disappeared from the series until returning in the intro segment of the 1981 Roger Moore Bond film For Your Eyes Only (perhaps due to the McClory lawsuit, the Blofeld-like character in this segment went unnamed even though he looked, acted, and carried a white Persian cat suspiciously like the one Blofeld had).

Mr. McClory apparently managed a favorable enough legal ruling regarding his contributions to Thunderball that this allowed another studio company to use the Bond, Blofeld, and S.P.E.C.T.E.R. concept and story in Sean Connery’s very last (unofficial) outting as James Bond in Never Say Never Again.

So fast forward to the above article.  If the issues regarding Thunderball have been resolved, it means that not only could Never Say Never Again become part of “official” Bondian lore, but the character of Blofeld and his organization might just make a return.  I suspect this is what the makers of the recent Daniel Craig Bond films are eager to do.  They hinted to a worldwide organization behind the villains of the three Daniel Craig films though they never outright stated that the organization was S.P.E.C.T.E.R.

Could be interesting…

Which classic novel did you quit reading half-way through…?

At times the people at io9.com offer a forum for their readers to offer their opinions and I felt this one, the header of which is above, was particularly interesting:


I offered a couple of examples of my own and won’t repeat them here (unless someone wants me to!), but suffice to say several of the choices posted by readers I both agree and disagree with.

Still, an interesting thing to “talk” about!

Killing conspiracy…

Fred Kaplan at Slate Magazine offers a short -and fascinating- article regarding the main reasons he turned from being a “conspiracy” theorist regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to a believer in the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone:


While the notion of a conspiracy around the killing of President Kennedy is one of those tempting wormhole-like theories one can look into for one’s entire life, I’ve always felt that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

Even ignoring, for the moment, most of the important points Mr. Kaplan notes in his article (and he does offer solid evidence to conclude Oswald acted alone), this is the one element of this whole thing most people seem to forget: A mere forty five minutes after the assassination of President Kennedy, a police officer named J. D. Tippet attempted to stop Lee Harvey Oswald (by then, the police were looking for him in connection with the assassination) and was, according to nine witnesses who saw him subsequently flee with a revolver in hand, gunned down and killed by Oswald.

That action alone indicates to me that Oswald, at the very, very least knew the police were after him because of what he did/what they suspected him of doing and the cold blooded brutality of his actions against the police officer were hardly those of an “innocent”/patsy.  I suppose one can fabricate all kinds of theories to explain why Mr. Oswald gunned down the policeman, but isn’t the most logical one the one that Mr. Oswald killed President Kennedy and knew that the police were going to get him for his crime and didn’t want to be captured?