Captain America: Civil War (2016) a (finally got to it) review

I’ve owned a copy of last summer’s blockbuster Captain America: Civil War (CACW from here on) for many months now and consider the previous Captain America film, The Winter Soldier, which was also directed by the Russo Brothers, one of the best superhero films ever made.

Yet I’ve actively avoided seeing CACW until last night.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that all I’ve read about the film suggests its plot is incredibly similar to that of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a film that got almost no love at all from critics and even today harshly divides fans.  If you’ve read my blog here for any length of time, you’ll know I love BvS and feel in time it will come to be regarded as one of the better superhero films made. (Just for context, my three favorite superhero films  at this point in time are Superman (1978), Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Batman v Superman.)

The backlash against BvS was so damn strong in some parts that, against my better judgment, I found myself defending the film against its critics in some comment boards.  A silly thing to do, I know, as opinions are just that and can be strong and ingrained and implacable.  Nonetheless I attempted to express my opinions while not slamming others’ yet one thing recurred:  People compared BvS with CACW, with CACW being held as a great feature while BvS being belittled by those who hated it as crap.

So as much as I wanted to see CACW, in time I feared these comments/comparisons threatened to taint my opinions of this movie.  To put it bluntly: I worried that because I enjoyed BvS while others gleefully ripped it apart -and professed such love for CACW– I might take the opposite track and head into CACW with a far more critical eye than I should.

It’s happened before.  I’ve had experiences where “everyone” says a film is great and you go into the theater carrying high expectations only to be disappointed because the film wasn’t as great as you thought/hoped it would be.  On the other hand, I’ve also experienced occasions where “everyone” tells you a film is crap and you wind up being pleasantly surprised by what you’ve seen.

The bottom line is that I I don’t get to see as many films as I want to and when I do, I’m hoping to enjoy myself, not look for defects or carry burdensome expectations both pro and con.  Thus I avoided seeing CACW because I feared the opinions revolving around the movie and its “rivalry” with BvS might impact my own enjoyment of it.

So time passes and yesterday turns out to be really rotten, weather-wise.  It’s rainy and grim and the wife and I ventured out only once earlier in the day and were hunkered down at home for the rest.  Come 7 P.M., we’ve seen some stuff we’d recorded on the DVR and its too early to head to bed and we’re wondering what to do.

I decide its time, finally, to see CACW.

As the movie opens, the inevitable comparisons to BvS start.  Though I already knew this to be the case from so many spoilery blog entries, I’m nonetheless still surprised by how remarkably similar these stories are as they both involve our heroes dealing with the ramifications of the destruction they’ve made and ending in their confrontation.

In the case of BvS, the fight Superman had against General Zod in Man of Steel is witnessed first hand and on street level by Bruce Wayne (Batman), and after seeing this fearsome display, and the many thousands who died due to it, these visions unhinge the man to the point where he decides Superman has to go…something Lex Luthor is more than happy to exploit.

In CACW we have the Avengers being called out for the destruction they’ve caused in the previous films (and the current one) and they are told (not asked) to sign the “Sokovia Accords”, which will place them under a World/UN-type supervision.  Captain America isn’t interested in signing the agreement while Tony Stark (Iron Man) is and this, along with the fact that evidence suggests the Winter Soldier is involved in some terrorist activities, drives a wedge between the superheroes.

What follows is a broad, filled-to-the-brim Superhero spectacle that was very enjoyable to watch, even if it didn’t reach the levels, to me, of Captain America: Winter Soldier or -gasp!- Batman v Superman.

The first problem is that unlike Winter Soldier, I couldn’t help but feel this particular plate was over-filled.  CACW isn’t just a “Captain America” film and is too filled with characters to be an “Avengers” film.  It is perhaps the first “entire Marvel Universe” film.  I suspect that had the movie’s makers the ability to do so, we’d have seen the Fantastic Four and the X-Men in here as well…

…and it wouldn’t change the fact that this film’s plot, when all is said and done, isn’t all that great nor warrants such a large cast.  The two biggest “new” add-on super-characters are The Black Panther and a “new” Spider Man but unlike others who loved seeing them I found their appearance OK at best though it was an interesting choice to have Marisa Tomei play the venerable Aunt May.  Considering her character has always been presented in comics and film as a very old, very gray grandmotherly-looking person, the choice to cast Ms. Tomei is certainly interesting.

William Hurt and Martin Freeman also show up for what amounts to cameo roles and while Mr. Hurt’s Thaddeus Ross finds relevance in the story I felt Mr. Freeman’s Everette K. Ross didn’t need to be there other than to lock up the other half of the Sherlock duo into the Marvel film universe.

Going back to the movie’s plot, it is best not scrutinized too terribly much.  While the villain of the piece has a genuinely good -perhaps even great!- reason to want to break up the Avengers, the way he goes about it involves so many things working out so very well that its impossible a single person, even a gifted intellectual one, could devise and execute this plan.  Worse, am I wrong but I don’t believe his character knows, at least until close to the end of the film, if that one last piece of information (MILD SPOILERS: a video) which he hopes to use to break the “friendship” between Captain America and Iron Man, even still exists?  He has gone through this insanely intricate process to get not only himself but the main heroes to place X to find and play said video without knowing if it is still there or has deteriorated to the point of being un-viewable.  Had that been the case, then what?  Did he have a plan B?!

Despite this, CACW is a fun, if sugary, roller coaster ride whose highlight is an airport fight between the various superhero factions.  Unlike BvS, the movie’s makers never go as “dark” as that film and while the characters fight they did so in such a good-natured way and while issuing wise-cracks that you never took anything too terribly seriously…until the last fight that is, which is presented in a more “serious” manner.  The movie ends on a curiously unresolved note and that, too, bothered me a bit as I wonder if these plot points will be dealt with later on, especially considering the next Avengers films seem to be going in the direction of outer space.

CACW is a good, if not quite outstanding chapter in Marvel’s highly successful movie universe.  It’s not a bad way to spend your time but one can’t help but feel but the Rousso brothers took a step back from what they did the last time around.

Warlock (1959) and Warlock (1989) a (very) belated double feature review

To begin: Other than their identical names, the two films reviewed here have absolutely nothing to do with each other, OK?  It just so happens I saw them both this past week and couldn’t help but review them together.

Beginning chronologically, the 1959 film Warlock features a trio of big name actors in the principle roles.  Here’s the movie’s trailer…

Though Henry Fonda at that time was likely the biggest “name” actor in the cast, the movie’s main character is Johnny Gannon (Richard Widmark, quite good), a member of a group of roughneck cowboys who, in the movie’s opening minutes, are shown to terrorize the town of Warlock (that, folks, is where the movie’s name comes from).  In those opening minutes it is clear his character is very conflicted.

While his brother and friends are part of this group of roughnecks who run the town’s sheriff out, it is clear he feels they’re going too far.  As the film’s story is revealed, there is very good reason for his conflicted feelings.

One day, the roughnecks go a little too far and one of them murders the town’s barber.  The town folk meet and decide they will hire a “Marshall” to come in and make law and order.  The man they hire is Clay Blaisedell (Henry Fonda) who brings along his companion Tom Morgan (Anthony Quinn).  The two are fearsome gunfighters and, upon meeting those who hired them, Blaisedell tells them at first they’ll love him for what he does but eventually they’ll come to fear -and hate- him for the exact same reasons.  Indeed, the implication is that Blaisedell and his companion move from town to town ending the rampant violence caused there but when the job is done, not only are they no longer needed, they’re no longer wanted.

Into this mix come two female characters, Lilly Dollar (Dorothy Malone, quite good as a woman with a grudge against Blaisedell) and seemingly meek townswoman Jessie Marlowe (Dolores Michaels, absolutely stunning, who develops feelings for the same man).

The movie, directed by the legendary Edward Dmytryk, creates a Greek tragedy-type drama with the notion of mercenary justice versus proper law and order.  While Blaisedell is presented as a decent man, the fact is his job involves being a great terror to the people who are are terrors to others.  Meanwhile his good friend Tom Morgan uses his own means of keeping their partnership going while Gannon wrestles with family issues (his brother is a member of the roughneck group) while wanting to bring genuine law and order to this town he lives in.

Add to the mix a delightful turn by DeForest Kelley as Curley Burne, one of the roughnecks who just may, in the end, renounce his ways and you have an entertaining film that lands, IMHO, just shy of some of the great westerns of that era even as it strives to join them.

The problem with this film is that we’re presented an awful lot of characters with various motivations and, while the film runs a healthy 2 hours, it feels like at times the film presents these motivations -and changes in the characters- a little too abruptly for my taste.  The movie was based on a novel by Oakley Hall and, while I never read the novel, it is my understanding the book presented far more characterization than the movie could, and certain characters were discarded which may have hurt the overall presentation.

Still, the film was entertaining and, while it may not have quite delivered a High Noon or Shane-type classic western experience, if you’ve got the time, you’d do far worse than giving Warlock a try.

And now for something completely different…the trailer for the 1989 horror film called…Warlock!

Taking its general plot -and inverts it- from (of all things) The Terminator, Warlock is nonetheless and entertaining, if somewhat dated, horror film involving two time travelers, one of which is a…witch.  Or rather, a Warlock, the male version of a witch.

The Warlock, played with a delightful evil edge by Julian Sands, is apprehended in the late 1600’s and set to be executed but manages to use a spell to escape to the movie’s present (ie, 1989).  Hot on his tail and entering the spell as it is cast is Giles Redferne (Richard E. Grant, also quite fun), that era’s Witch Hunter.

They land at separate points and the Warlock starts his search for the three parts of the “Devil’s Bible”, an artifact that when put together reveals the true name of God, and can undo all of creation.

His search takes him to a home in which Kassandra (Lori Singer), a down on her luck (money wise) new wave woman lives.  Within the home and hidden in a table the Warlock finds the first of the three parts of the Bible he seeks.  He also takes out the home’s owner and casts a spell on Kassandra which ages her very quickly and will kill her in a matter of days.

Redferne appears, hot on the tail of the Warlock, and together with Kassandra they set out to find -and stop- the Warlock before he finds the last two parts of the Bible and destroys all of creation.  So, like The Terminator, we have time traveling duelists coming to the present but, as mentioned above, the plot is inverted because the bad guy is the one being pursued by the present day female and the good time traveler.

Warlock’s screenplay was written by David Twohy who today is probably best known for writing and directing the “Riddick” films, from Pitch Black to The Chronicles of Riddick to Riddick to the upcoming Furia.

The movie is at times cheesy and I suspect many of its scares have been diluted with the passage of time.  While reading some of the original reviews/opinions regarding the film, it appeared when it was originally released it was considered very scary but in watching it today, nearly thirty years after its original release, I suspect the film could be shown intact on TV today and nobody would blink an eye.  Worse, some of the special effects presented have aged tremendously and therefore are pretty weak.

Still, the interactions between the characters was fun and, while cheesy, the film created an interesting reality in which the fight against the Warlock incorporates some (I’m assuming) historical methods for dealing with the beast.

Though I enjoyed seeing the film, I have to admit this is a hard one to recommend, especially to today’s audiences.  Warlock is most certainly a product of its era and, when viewed today, may try people’s patience, especially with regard to the not so-special effects.

Nonetheless, if what I’ve written above intrigues you, give the film a try.  It might just entertain you as much as it did me.

Time inevitably continues its march…

A couple of days ago it was announced that Mary Tyler Moore, perhaps one of the biggest female TV stars of the 60’s and, especially the 1970’s, passed away at the age of 80…

Mary Tyler Moore, beloved TV Actress, dies at 80

I can’t say I was a big fan of The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66), perhaps Ms. Moore’s breakout role which featured her as Mr. Van Dyke’s wife Laura Petrie.  The show aired a little before my time and while growing up I can’t recall finding it in reruns like many other 1960’s era shows and therefore never was exposed to it to any great degree.

However, I do recall being entertained by the Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77) and the cast of characters she worked with (the seemingly immortal Betty White being among the featured co-stars!).  Perhaps the most famous element of the show is its opening crawl which concludes with Ms. Moore famously throwing her hat in the air (the below clip also features the very last scene from the very last episode of the show)…

I have to admit, back then I -and I’m sure just about every male watching- had something of a crush on Ms. Moore.  She, and her character, were charming, likable, and had charisma to spare.  It’s indeed sad to read of her passing.

Just as this news made its way to the various websites came word that Mike Connors had also passed away.  Mr. Connors is best known for playing the lead role in the detective drama Mannix which ran from 1967 through 1975.  This show was a favorite of mine while growing up and I’m not ashamed to say I have the entire eight season run on DVD.  Like the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mannix featured a very memorable opening…

Mr. Connors was 91.  Over on this article regarding his passing –Mike Connors, B-Movie Actor Who Found Stardom on TV’s Mannix, dead at 91– a humorous tweet is presented from Mike Barnes who states:

By one count, (Mike Connors’) Joe Mannix was shot 17 times and knocked unconscious another 55.

Eight seasons playing a gumshoe will do that to you, I suppose.  Had such a person existed in real life, its extremely doubtful he would have made it to 91.

Rest in peace Ms. Moore and Mr. Connors.  You enlivened this young boy’s early years with a combination of laughs and suspense.

On Writing…getting the plot

Yesterday was a particularly good day for my work on the latest Corrosive Knights novel (this will be book #7 and will conclude the main story I’ve been working on for nearly a decade now).

Why was it a particularly good day?  Because as I was thinking the novel’s plot over (something I tend to do with my latest works all hours of the day), the synapses in my brain figured out a way to bring various elements of the beginning and end of the novel together and in a matter of a half-hour and while on the computer I created a beautiful, exciting outline of the bridge linking the two ends of the book.

Mind you, I came up with some far rougher general ideas as to what was going to happen in the middle of the book before but those thoughts were far less complete than what I came up with yesterday.  Indeed, yesterday I filled almost all of the gaps of that middle section of the novel and this will obviously be a tremendous help.

I’ve written about this before but it bears repeating: Authors, like all working people, have their strengths and weaknesses and likes and dislikes.  I’ve heard of authors who have a tough time “beginning” a novel.  I’ve heard of authors who have difficulties wrapping things up.  Indeed, one of the greatest complaints I’ve read against Stephen King’s work (I only wish I could write as much as he does!) is that his novel endings tend to be weak.

For me personally, starting and ending a novel hasn’t, to date, been all that much of a problem.  In fact, whenever I start a new novel I tend to have strong opening and closing ideas.

Where my problem lies is in providing the tissue connecting those two elements.  Further frustrating me is the fact that I strive to make my novels as original as I can and want readers to be surprised by the twists and turns leading to my novels’ endings yet everything must come together by that ending.

Trust me, that’s not an easy task!

Throughout my life I’ve sought out interviews with noted authors about what motivates them and how they work.  Some authors revel in what I consider a “mythological” take on their writing.  To them, writing may be described as akin to creating “magic.”  I’ve read more than one author talk about how their fictional characters take charge of the story and dictate its direction, as if this fictional character the author’s created has taken hold of the story being told.

I think a lot of that is bunk.

I know I’ve said it before but writing is, first and foremost, work.  Plain and simply.  In my case this work can be very hard and mentally exhausting.

On TV, shows like Murder She Wrote and Castle present a fiction of an author who seems to do their writing in their spare time, creating their “best sellers” in a matter of a few hours while otherwise living a fabulous, carefree life.

The reality, at least for me, is one of almost obsessive mental concentration.  Though you may not believe it, I do indeed spend almost every waking hour thinking of my latest novel/story.  I don’t think a minute passes where some part of my brain isn’t obsessing over some detail, big or small, within my latest work.

The thing is, while I tend to get the opening and closing acts of my works out of the way pretty quickly, that middle connective section requires a great deal of care and thought and, to date, I’ve yet to have a middle section of my book come to me as “easily” as my novel openings/closings.

Regardless of all the work involved, I freaking love creating stories.  As difficult and as frustrating and as time consuming and as un-sexy as the act of creation may be, when all that hard work is done and I hold in my hands my latest novel and then add it to the stack of novels I’ve already written, I’m in heaven.  It is as pure a moment of pride and unadulterated joy as I can have.

And I can’t wait to get to work on the next one.

Alternative Facts…

A few days back (Sunday, to be exact), Presidential Aide (I don’t know if she has any other formal title) Kellyanne Conway, while on Meet the Press and while being asked about, well, see for yourself:

And thus a line I’m certain Ms. Conway would desperately love to take back, “Alternative Facts”, was born and much ridicule was to be had with her Orwellian use of language.

Speaking of which:

1984 Skyrockets on after “Alternative Facts” Controversy

Frankly, I don’t know what to make of Ms. Conway.  Maybe I’m projecting my own feelings upon her but, at least to me, she seems like a fairly smart person yet there’s something so terribly, so clearly …wrong… inside her.

Perhaps she’s like a lawyer who’s assigned to defend a client they know is guilty as hell and a terrible person, to boot, yet value their job to the point where they will provide as strong a defense as possible.  Perhaps I’m over-simplifying it, but it’s their job, not them.

Yet note the first things that come out of Ms. Conway’s mouth in the above extended clip, how she threatens the press right off the bat.

The ridicule heaped upon her and the administration for the things she said in the above interview, especially the “Alternative Facts” quote,  is well deserved, again IMHO, yet I can’t help but feel a great unease.  Are these people for real?  Just how far are they willing to go to argue their view of reality, which, of course, simply isn’t?

Unlike the ridicule coming from the internet, George Orwell’s 1984 was far from a “comedy”.  At its core it was a truly terrifying horror story.  The idea of a dictatorial government taking total control of its citizens and, effectively, making them sheep should terrify everyone, and the idea they can create their own reality and force their people to accept it is perhaps the most frightening idea of them all.

Up is down.  Black is white.  Fighting for peace…

Alternative facts, indeed.

We’re not even a week into this new presidency.  What exactly are we in for?

The Razzies…

Just before the 2017 Oscar nominees are named (which just happened), the 2017 “Razzies” were named.

The Razzies, for those who don’t know, are a tongue in cheek “award” for the “worst” films of the year.  The full list can be found here, though the headline spoils at least two of the films on the list:

Batman v Superman, Zoolander 2 Lead 2017 Razzie Nominations

When the Razzies first came to predominance, they were a funny lark.  They pointed out terrible films and, for the most part justifiably, roasted them.

As for this year’s nominees, I’ve seen only two of the “Worst Picture” nominees, and those are the two that are listed in the article’s headline. The others, which I have yet to see (and, frankly, have little interest in) are: Dirty GrandpaGods of EgyptHillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, and Independence Day: Resurgence.

Of the two I have seen, I feel Zoolander 2 is, sadly, an appropriate choice.  I reviewed the film a while back (you can read the full review here) and while admitting to laughing at some of the movie’s jokes, ultimately felt it was one of the stupidest things I’d ever seen…and I do not say this as a compliment.

So we’re back to Batman v Superman.

It seems like I can’t get away from defending that film.  Today, many months after its release, there remain sharp divisions between fans of the film and detractors and I find it so damn curious.

I stated before that over time the film would get a re-evaluation and I remain certain this will be the case.

Yet I can’t deny the fact that those who hate, hate, hate the film seem to do so with a passion I’ve not seen directed at other films.

I suspect the reason is that we have three comic book icons presented, for the very first time, all together in a film…and instead of presenting us with a colorful, “fun” action-fest, we’re given a dour, at times dark and depressing work that is more meditative than action filled (there are long stretches of the film that don’t feature any action at all, while some of the bigger action sequences are very dark indeed).

If the film had featured three “new” superhero characters, I suspect people might not have reacted quite as negatively as they did, though that’s pure supposition on my part.

Regardless, for a large segment of the country, hating on BvS is something to do while, for people like me, defending the film seems to also be something people do.

I still think in time, when passions finally cool and people can look at the film with “fresh” eyes, they may come to realize its a far more ambitious -and successful- film than they thing it is.

Kill Command (2016) a (mildly) belated review

A couple of months ago and on a website devoted to upcoming films I read about a low budget indie film that was about to be released called Kill Command.  Here is its trailer:

I don’t know about you, but I loved what I saw.

The movie was released to VOD and was made available for purchase and I had her on my list of films to see via Netflix.  Yesterday, I finally had a chance to see the film and…

Not bad.  Not bad at all.

To begin, the film is indeed a low budget affair but despite this, and as should be evident in the trailer above, the effects are nonetheless quite impressive…for the most part.  I won’t lie: There are times the effects aren’t as good and this is when the homicidal machines are on the move or being shot at (in general the effects for the creatures when they’re not moving all that quickly are quite good.  When they’re moving quickly…not so good).

So how’s the story?

Pretty engaging, at least until the very end (I’ll get to that in a moment).

In the near future, a group of soldiers are ordered to train against robotic machines on an isolated island.  Joining them in the group is Mills (Vanessa Kirby, who is quite good), a human with cyber “augmentations” which allows her to link up with machines.  The soldiers in the group generally don’t trust her and, once they arrive on the island, that trust is strained even more as outgoing and incoming radio communications are blocked.  The soldier group’s leader, Captain Bukes (Thure Lindhardt, also quite good), suspects something is up and is very weary of Mills’ presence.

For her part Mills tries to help the others out.  She “sees” robotic machinery deep in the woods and, eventually, scout ships fly in (sometimes very close) to watch over what the human soldiers are up to.

Eventually, the soldiers’ target, a group of robotic armed soldiers moving along a path in the island’s forest, is spotted.  The soldiers set up an ambush and quickly get to the business of dispatching these machines.  While they do, Mills notices something off in the distance and behind their group.  She goes to investigate and finds a larger, frightening looking robot fighting machine.  She links up with it and receives odd messages and images before blanking out…

When she recovers, the machine is gone.

She returns to the group and they continue their movements…until it becomes clear the hunters have become the hunted.

Kill Command is certainly not The-Most-Original-Movie-Ever-Created™.  Indeed, the trailer above offers a positive review which, quite correctly, states the movie is something of a mash up of Predator and The Terminator, which to me is far from a bad thing.

The actors take their roles seriously and the threat -and suspense- becomes quite real.  Kudos to director/writer Steven Gomez for infusing his film with this palpable sense of dread and managing to get some top effect-work out of what was, again, a very low budget.

If there is one flaw in the film, for me it was the movie’s conclusion (told you I’d get back to this).  Given that talking about it will reveal some rather big SPOILERS, I’ll get to that in a moment.

In the meantime, if the above trailer intrigues you, I recommend you give Kill Command a try.  Its a damn good sci-fi/suspenser which may not quite be up to the level of either Predator or the original Terminator but nonetheless acquits itself quite nicely before that aforementioned ending.

Still not sure you want to see it?  Here are the film’s first few minutes (though there are a couple of scenes, if memory serves, not shown and therefore it is not exactly accurate that this is the first eight minutes of the movie):

Anyway, what follows are…



If you’re still here, I hope you’ve given the film a try or are genuinely not interested in seeing it and curious about what bothered me about the film’s end.

Here goes.

As the soldiers are attacked by the machines, they are picked off one by one (a rather standard, even cliched concept that nonetheless ramps up the suspense nicely).  The big mystery of what the machines are up to isn’t such a big mystery in the end.  Basically, the “main machine” behind the others is becoming self-aware and, as it was programmed to be a war robot, it has turned the tables on the human soldiers and made its robotic army use the humans for training.

Mills tries to break into the machine and make it stand down at various stages of the film, but she is unsuccessful.

By the end of the movie, three soldiers and Mills are all that’s left alive.  They set up a final stand and the movie’s climax becomes a “siege”, with the overwhelming number of robots coming in for the kill.

However, Mills at this point has an Electromagnetic Pulse bomb (EMP) which she tells Captain Mills will wipe the mad machine’s internal programming and, therefore, end its threat.  Only problem is that to do this she has to lure it close to the EMP and that, in turn might wipe out Mills’ cybernetic memory as well.

Captain Bukes, who started the movie off very weary about Mills and her place in this training mission, nonetheless now doesn’t want her to sacrifice herself.  Nonetheless, circumstances eventually dictate that both Mills and the killer robot be far closer together than hoped for when the EMP is detonated.

Both machine and Mills suffer serious injury to their cybernetic cortex yet the fight continues.  Mills, facing memory shut down, manages to lure the homicidal robot up into a building and, using her control over a sniper rifle, shoots the creature through its “head”.

As the creature dies and Mills’ memory is wiped, we see that the creature has downloaded itself into the now “blank” memory banks within Mills.

The remaining soldiers, thankful they have survived the onslaught, take Mills with them to their awaiting transport, unaware that she may now be carrying the homicidal creature’s mind within her.  However, she is still a human and we must assume that not all her personality is carried within her programming.  Therefore we’re left to wonder: What will this programming do?  What will happen from here on?

And that, my friends, is the type of ending that drives me freaking nuts.

They might as well put a giant “THE END….?” or “TO BE CONTINUED” title after the final fade out.

Frankly, I’m tired of movies pulling this too-ambiguous crap.

Is it so damn hard to give audiences a story which features a complete beginning, middle, and ending while resisting the temptation to add sequel fare at the very end?

Worse, this ending is an inverse copy of David Cronenberg’s famous 1981 film Scanners.  In that film we follow good and bad telepaths and, at that movie’s climax, they face off and use their psychokinetic abilities against each other.  The good guy takes the worse of it and his body disintegrates.  However, before its completely gone his mind “jumps” into the bad-guy’s body and takes it over.  Thus we have the good guy “win” in the end even though audiences see the bad guy’s *body* left standing.

We don’t know where Kill Command goes from here because there’s too much ambiguity about this programming jump.  Clearly we’re supposed to suspect things might go very bad when Mills makes it back to the mainland.

But, again, why do this to us?  Why not give us an unambiguous ending and perhaps hint that the machine is still alive elsewhere and in another of the robotic units?  Why go this route?

Sorry for the rant, but it genuinely hurts me to see a film that, IMHO, is 98% good/decent which then stumbles during its final five minutes.

About yesterday’s inauguration…

As many have noted, the crowds during Mr. Trump’s inauguration were significantly …less… than expected by the “big” man.  He proclaimed beforehand the crowds at his event would break records (they did, I suppose, though not the way he expected).

This is a popular comparison picture…

Image result for inauguration crowds comparison

And considering many of the crowds that did bother to come were protest crowds, then things look even more dire, attendance-wise for the Trumpster.

As for the protest crowds, Slate magazine offered some of what they considered the more amusing protest signs…

The Best Protest Signs for the Inauguration of Donald Trump

They were clever, funny, and sad…all at the same time.  Among my SFW favorites…


Then there was this: White Nationalist Richard Spencer showed up at the inauguration and…


Look, I really don’t condone violence in any way, shape, or form and while one is tempted to applaud the fact that this man, who ultimately espouses hate, gets “what’s coming to him”, I can’t help but worry if this is a sign of things to come…and worry even more if we’re starting down a too-dangerous path here.

The blame, ultimately, comes right back to Mr. Trump.  During the campaign he played fast and loose with some dangerous statements and personalities while engaging in all to obvious verbal “dog whistles”.  While he was incredibly quick in recent days to condemn Representative (and Civil Rights Icon) John Lewis for publicly calling his presidency “Illegitimate”, try to find as strong a rejection of some of the white nationalists that have tried to cozy up to him.

It’s going to be a long four years…if the Trumpster makes it that far.


Miguel Ferrer, R.I.P.

Taking up where 2016 left off, yesterday came news of the passing of Miguel Ferrer, who was only 61 years old and suffered from throat cancer.

While his name may not be as familiar to the public as that of his famous cousin George Clooney, Miguel Ferrer, who was the son of noted actor Mel Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney, leaves behind a great body of cinematic and television role work.

Perhaps his best known role, and likely the one that catapulted him the most to being a “star”, may be that of the slimy, yet ultimately oddly sympathetic yuppie Bob Morton from the original 1987 RoboCop.  Here’s a behind the scenes examination of his character’s exit from the movie…

Mr. Ferrer would often play these arrogant, slimy characters yet manage to make audiences feel for them even if they are, on paper anyway, off-putting.

However, though perhaps known for that persona, Mr. Ferrer appeared in many other works and I’ll remember him for roles in TV and film as diverse as Deepstar Six (cheesy fun), Twin Peaks, Hot Shots Part Deux (he is quite funny in this somewhat forgotten Charlie Sheen starring Airplane!-like comedy), and The Night Flier.

61 years of age is far too young an age to pass.  Rest in peace, Mr. Ferrer.