Category Archives: Movies

The Invisible Man (2020) a (Brutal Husbands, Part 2) Review

So I’m flying back home and, having seen Till Death (you can read my review of it here) on my way to my destination, I’m looking through what I’ve downloaded and decide to watch the 2020 Leigh Whannell written/directed film The Invisible Man on the way back. I enjoyed Mr. Whannell’s 2018 film Upgrade quite a bit and wanted to check out The Invisible Man for a while now and decided it was time.

What I didn’t realize is that Till Death and The Invisible Man are, thematically anyway, films that can be described as “the husband from hell and the harried wife who has to somehow survive them.

Here’s the movie’s trailer and, like Till Death, it gives a taste of what you’re in for without giving away everything:

In The Invisible Man, we start off introduced to Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss, quite good). She in bed next to her husband Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, also quite good) but, we find, is in the process of escaping his high tech -and clearly very expensive- home.

She’s terrified of Adrian and the audience soon finds out why: In the process of escape, Adrian reveals himself to be prone to violence (I won’t get much more SPOILERY than this) and, even when she’s finally freed of him, Cecilia fears he will find her and enact his vengence on her.

I’m loathe to give too much more away. Going by the trailer, I will say this much: Adrian appears to have committed suicide and then things get stranger as Cecilia fears her ex has somehow figured out a way to make himself invisible and is now after her… and her friends.

As I said above, both Till Death and The Invisible Man are films that focus on a violent, devious, and dangerous husband who wants to “get” his wife and I was genuinely struck by how both films follow through on this premise quite well.

The Invisible Man, after a somewhat slow burn introduction (the only very big negative I would give to the film… maybe I’m getting impatient in my advanced years), takes off in delirious and interesting directions. Like Till Death, the film does feature several surprises and also some necessary suspension of disbelief (I’ll give one here as I did with Till Death: Didn’t Cecilia wonder why the dog was healthy when she saw him the second time?!).

Still the suspense is quite good and the story is meaty and treats the audience with respect without dipping into silliness.

If I have any real big negative, its only the fact that I somehow stumbled onto seeing these two films and wound up comparing them to each other because their initital premises are so very similar.

The Invisible Man is clearly the more fantastic of the two films and was also the one that featured a larger budget but Till Death gets points for knowing what it’s going for and getting there quick.

Still, you can’t miss with either film.

That is, if you want to see husbands from hell going after their wives… who turn out to be far more resourseful than the asshole husband thought they were!


Till Death (2021) a (Brutal Husbands, part 1) review

A year or two ago, maybe a little more, I was looking through the VUDU (now Fandango) digital movie sales and found the 2021 Megan Fox movie Till Death listed among those available fairly cheap.

I must confess: I wasn’t necessarily interested in buying the film but, as I do, I checked out the reviews and… they were for the most part quite positive. Anyway, bottom line is the price was right and I figured “why not?” The film sounded interesting enough so I figured I’d give it a whirl…


As with all entertainment things I buy, they get into a very long line before I finally have a chance (if ever!) to get to them. Long story short: I was taking a flight somewhere this past week, looked over the movies I had, downloaded several, and when the plane was taking off to my destination, I decided to give Till Death a whirl.

And I was glad I did.

First, though, here’s the movie’s trailer which, thankfully, doesn’t give everything away…

Megan Fox is Emma, a woman who when we first meet in the opening minutes of the film is ending an affair she’s having. See, it is her anniversary and while she is clearly very unhappy in her marriage, she is also honorable enough to realize having an affair is no solution either and realizes it’s time to end things. Now, just to add a little more context and without getting too SPOILERY, it is revealed later in the film that Emma knows her husband Mark has been having affairs as well. Their marriage is truly on very shaky grounds.

Anyway, after this, the audience meets Mark (Eoin Macken, wonderfully creepy from his first scene on) who seems contrite and claims he wants this anniversary to be one where they finally put all the negatives from their marriage behind them and become a true couple.

And if you think these two one-time lovebirds do just that in the course of this film, then you haven’t been paying attention and you certainly haven’t seen the above trailer!

I’m loathe to give away too many of the movie’s story details, but suffice it to say that rather than taking Emma to an isolated romantic retreat where they can finally start the process of healing their relationship, Mark brought her to an isolated, diabolical death trap he has devised. And once the proverbial shit-hits-the-fan and the movie gets going, Emma quite literally is in a fight for her survival against seemingly impossible odds.

I’m certain there are many people who saw this film featured Megan Fox and were instantly turned off by the idea of watching her star in any film and therefore are unwilling to give Till Death a shot but… you’re missing out.

While the film isn’t “perfect” and there are a couple of moments where one has to use the proverbial suspension of disbelief (such as how Ms. Fox’s wonderful makeup stayed on so well through the whole ordeal…!), Till Death is a more than competently crafted thriller that delivers several surprises along with the life and death struggles of Emma.

As for Ms. Fox, she’s quite good as the harried leading lady who is quite literally fighting for her life from the fifteen-minute mark (or thereabouts) of the film until its end.

A stylish, suspenseful work that, at least for me, is an easy recommendation.

The Fall Guy (2024) a (for the most part on time) review

Early into this summer movie season, things are looking scary for Hollywood.

The first attempt at a big crowd pleasing hit was the Ryan Gosling/Emily Blunt film The Fall Guy. Based on a (I strongly suspect) mostly forgotten by today’s youth TV show originally featuring Lee Majors, this is the movie’s amusing trailer:

Frankly, I thought this film, and Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, released a couple of weeks afterwards, would do pretty well at the box office.

They did not.

Unfortunately both films have underperformed and are likely to be considered box office “bombs”, this despite mostly positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. To be clear: I’ve read some people here and there who have not liked the films. Some were very negative on them both. However, it seemed the bulk of people who posted about both films liked them and are bewildered by why both films have underperformed so badly.

The worry is that perhaps movie theaters themselves may be in trouble.

That’s a topic for another time, though so let’s focus on The Fall Guy.

For those who don’t know, actor Lee Majors had quite the career, though mostly in television. His first big role was in the TV show The Big Valley but it was mostly an ensemble cast and a show that hewed to another big TV hit, Bonanza. In the early 1970’s he starred in the very popular sci-fi/action series The Six Million Dollar Man. He had a few roles in movies but his movie career never quite took off like his TV one. In the 1980’s, he starred, along with the gorgeous Heather Thomas, in the TV show The Fall Guy which is the basis of the just released Gosling/Blunt film…

The theme song, by the way, was sung by Lee Majors as well! (The version on the movie is sung by Blake Sheldon).

Anyway, I got to see The Fall Guy in theaters this past weekend in what was likely its final theatrical run. The film, astonishingly, did so poorly and studios were so down on it that it can already be bought digitally through the various streaming services.

Anyway, I saw the film and… it was a fun, sugary confection that accomplished what it set out to do: Give audiences a fun time.

It ain’t Citizen Kane but it was never meant to be!

The plot involves Colt Seavers (Gosling) romancing up and coming director Jody Moreno (Blunt) but getting into a bad accident that knocks him out of the stuntman game… at least temporarily. Then, he’s called back in and hijinks ensue when he’s asked to find the missing leading man in the motion picture Moreno is directing… and can make or break her career.

The banter is pleasant, the stunts fun, and Gosling and Blunt have charisma to burn.

Again, it isn’t a “classic” or terribly deep (though I did appreciate the fact that they managed to get the full meaning of the term “fall guy” used in the film!) but it’s a fun time killer.

Too bad audiences stayed away. I think they would have had a fun time with The Fall Guy.

A little more on Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024)

Way, waaaayyyy back in 1981 I was in High School and the movie The Road Warrior appeared in theaters. This movie, better known around the world as Mad Max 2, genuinely rocked my world.

I freaking loved it.

The action was intense, the stunt work mindbogglingly good -and scary! The climax had me on the edge of my seat.

The film was very low budget but not quite as low budget as the original Mad Max, which I would find and see later on. The film helped put Mel Gibson on Hollywood’s radar and he would soon after appear in Lethal Weapon and was well on his way to becoming a Hollywood superstar… before, of course, everything went bad.

When Mad Max: Fury Road appeared, I was very much there to see it and loved it… even if I felt Tom Hardy was somewhat miscast in the Max role. It just felt like the character was written as an older Max, which would have fit well with Mel Gibson’s age at the time the film was being made.

Still, this wasn’t a fatal problem and I enjoyed the film… even as I feel The Road Warrior remains my favorite Mad Max film.

Fast forward to the news of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and I was certainly curious but, I have to admit, I wasn’t dying to see it.

Yesterday I wrote about how Furiosa is seriously underperforming/bombing at the box office and offered some ideas as to why this might be. Truthfully, I feel there has been a shift away from the movie going experience and I genuinely wonder if this shift might prove permanent in spite of movies here and there succeeding.

But after posting, I wondered why I, a fan of the Mad Max films (generally!) wasn’t feeling all that crazy about going to see Furiosa myself.

Granted, I’m at a point in my life that it’s tough to carve out time to go see a film. I could do so, mind you, but I have other things I’m focused on. Truthfully, I don’t see television as much as before either.

Regardless, I was curiously unenthused to go see Furiosa and, rather than focus on why others may not have wanted to go see the film, I wondered why to me it didn’t feel like a “must watch”.

Let me start with the advertisements/trailers. They didn’t do all that much for me, frankly. They sure did look like director George Miller was repeating himself. The “look” of the film was almost the same as that of Fury Road only more CGIed… which was a turnoff.

I know, I know: What did I expect from a film that was supposed to be a prequel to Fury Road? Things couldn’t be radically different looking, could they?

I suppose not but still… it didn’t feel like there was anything terribly new to see in this new film. Certainly nothing we hadn’t seen in the last.

Then there was the issue of the story being a “prequel”. Somewhere deep in my mind this too was a turnoff. Did I really want to see how Furiosa came to be what she was in Fury Road?

As someone who has written a novel series that bounces around in time, I wanted to make sure any/all of the novels offered a unique and new experience.

In the case of Furiosa, there’s not much “there” there with regard to her story. I figured we’d see how she lost her arm and became a valuable driver. I figured we’d find the paradise she was stripped from and wanted to get back to in Fury Road.

But, again, was that enough to justify a full 2 hour and thirty minute long film?

It seemed a little much, frankly.

Here’s the thing about writing stories: Authors fall in love with their works. Given the amount of time it usually takes to write a story one is satisfied with, one has to love one’s works.

However one also has to be cold about the process. One should second guess what they’re doing constantly. Does this work? Does this not?

You can’t just type away -a form of verbal diarrhea- and expect everything will work.

When I write, I tend to be very cold about my works. I tend to cut things out and, yes, there have been passages I’ve loved which were eventually deemed unnecessary and were stripped away and likely will never be seen.

I fear that Furiosa is one of those fancy concepts that, as Miller was coming up with the idea of Fury Road, he came up with the back story for Furiosa and so loved it he wanted to bring it to life.

The problem was that as good as these back story concepts were, Fury Road was successful -indeed terrific!– without the need to delve into all that minutia.

Hell, Max’s “origin” is presented in Fury Road in a crisp thirty or so second fever dream and we don’t really need to see much more.

Was it really necessary to give so much time to Furiosa?

I will eventually see the film. Hopefully, I’ll find myself on the side of those who felt the film was damn good.

Still, I wish George Miller pushed the story forward and gave us something set further in the future of Fury Road rather than looking back.

The Fate of Furiosa (2024)

So a few days ago Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga was released and the box office it’s making for the Memorial Day weekend isn’t just weak… it’s dire.

So far, and we’re on Sunday the 26th now, the film has earned a weak $31.9 million and is running neck and neck with Garfield… But the bottom line is that the box office for the Memorial Day weekend is the worst its been in decades.

You can read more about it from Hollywood Reporter:

Box Office Meltdown: Garfield Claims Victory Over Furiosa With Worst No. 1 Memorial Day Opening In Three Decades

Once again I’ll quote screenwriter William Goldman and his famous thoughts on movie making and those films that succeed versus those that fail…

Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.

So, of course, I’m going to offer -for what little its worth- my own thoughts on what’s happening here. Again, though, I strongly suscribe to Mr. Goldman’s quote so I could be just as wildly off about this as everyone else.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, the older I get the more I realize change is a constant in just about everything but especially in the entertainment industry.

When I was very young, Disco music was incredibly popular. Saturday Night Fever made a superstar out of John Travolta when it was released in 1977 and made The Bee Gees household names. Three years later and in 1980 the movie Airplane! comes out and, among the avalanche of jokes you can find in it, we have parodies of Saturday Night Fever and a sequence where the endangered airplane strikes a radio station’s tower as the host announces this is where “disco will live forever”.

See, just a few short years after its golden era, Disco became a pariah musical taste and was scrubbed from most people’s interests. The Bee Gees were viewed as laughable, what with their high pitched singing, and the suits they wore to the Disco were viewed as tacky.

What happened?

I recall a teacher I had way back then opined that what did Disco in was the fact that older people liked the music and started to show up at the Discos. Young people, aghast, fled and, for good measure, ridiculed the whole thing as they moved on to other music.

In the 1980’s we had alternative music, perhaps mostly derived from David Bowie’s work. We had the rise of heavy metal. In the 1990’s that went away and we had the rise of Grunge music. By the 2000’s we had rap/urban music and glitzy boy bands and Britney.

The point is that things moved on.

Which brings me to this: I fear that maybe –maybe– the era of going to movie theaters and seeing films there may be going away.

Not permanently, mind you, but a confluence of things have come together to hurt the box office.

Just to be clear though: I’m not saying that the apparently box office failure (and indeed it seems like it’s happening) of Furiosa -and The Fall Guy’s release and weak box office just a couple of weeks before that movie- portends bad things for all movies. But it does, I feel, expose the things that are hurting movie theaters and movie releases in general.

We went through COVID and entertainment companies began branching out into streaming services. We also have reached a point where we can own -for a reasonable investment- truly gigantic and beautiful TVs in our homes. I strongly suspect these things, in conjunction, have made people realize they don’t have to go to theaters to experience top movie entertainment. Hell, the rise of TikTok may have made people also less patient to sit through two hours of any work when they can be entertained for those same hours with a feast of smaller video bites.

Furiosa also, I fear, had too many expectations for a film series that for the most part was a cult thing. Yes, Fury Road and, before it, the original Mad Max and The Road Warrior (aka Mad Max 2) did well at the box office but the later two films were made with a minuscule budget and therefore made money quickly. Plus, there simply wasn’t anything like them. Fury Road came out decades after the last Mad Max film, Beyond Thunderdome, and benefited I feel from the element of surprise as well as having Charlize Theron -a usually bankable star- playing the lead along with Tom Hardy’s Max.

Thing is, Fury Road came out in 2015, nine years ago and maybe a movie featuring Theron’s character but not Theron in the film itself might have been a mistake. Making it a “prequel” might also have been a big mistake.

We kinda know where Furiosa -the character- wound up because of Fury Road. Was there really any big interest in finding out how she got there? Part of the problem about making prequels is that we know where certain characters will be. We know, for example, Furiosa will survive to appear in Fury Road so whatever dangers she faces in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga we know she’ll survive to fight again.

There’s one other element which has to be pointed out, too: While there are many who loved the film, I’ve also noted there were many who thought the film worked in spurts. They may feel the film is good but not as good as Fury Road.

Could word of mouth be hindering things as well?

Again, “nobody knows anything”. My opinions are just that and maybe I’m very off. Maybe there just aren’t that many people interested in seeing more movies set in the Mad Max universe.

I hope it doesn’t portend to darker realities regarding movie theaters and movie releases, but only time will tell.

Things, as I said before, have a way of changing over time, whether we like it or not.

John Carpenter’s Top 10 Noirs…

Are you like me and like John Carpenter’s films? Are you also a fan of the film noir genre?

Then how about taking a look at…

John Carpenter’s Top 10 Film Noirs

Have to say, he likes many of the ones I really like.

Mild Spoilers:

Of the ones he’s pointed out, Double Indemnity, The Third Man, The Killers, Kiss Me Deadly, and Blow Up are some of my favorites.

He doesn’t note it in his comments, but the screenplay to Double Indemnity is an adaptation of the John M. Cain novel by Raymond Chandler. Chandler is probably my all time favorite author. His Philip Marlowe novels (The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, etc.) are superb.

I love the original Burt Lancaster starring The Killers (yes, the movie is based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway!) but don’t go totally to sleep on the 1964 Lee Marvin starring remake. It features Ronald Reagan in his last acting role as a pretty slimy character…

Then there’s Kiss Me Deadly. If you haven’t seen that film, do yourself a favor and check it out. Incredible work that was light years ahead of its time! Also the source of the “glowing suitcase contents” which Quentin Tarantino used in Pulp Fiction

Finally, Blow Up is one wild work and Carpenter puts it best: It’s a meditation on what is real and what isn’t and the ending… it’s haunting…

There are, of course, other films very much worth checking out that Carpenter doesn’t mention.

Among them, I would recommend the following:

Out of the Past (1947): Easily one of the all time best film noirs ever made. Robert Mitchum gives career defining acting as the doomed protagonist and Kirk Douglas, also in a very early role, is appropriately slimy. And Jane Greer is perfection as the… oh… I’m not going to spoil it!

The Maltese Falcon (1941): Humphrey Bogart knocks the ball out of the park as Dashiel Hammet’s detective Sam Spade. Mary Astor is right up there as are the incredible co-stars he has to stay one step ahead of. All of them are searching for the titular falcon, a statue that’s “the stuff dreams are made of”.

Memento (2000): The film that first brought audiences to director Christopher Nolan… and which may still be his very best film. Guy Pearce is Leonard, a man who suffers from extreme memory loss. He can’t recall things beyond a few minutes at a time. The movie plays out in reverse, giving audiences the same disoriented feel Leonard goes through and yet, if you pay attention, the story unfolds logically and, in the end, devastatingly. A wonderful work of modern noir!

I could go on and on but I’ll leave it at that for now!

Nostalgia… Part Two

Posting a few of my recent eBay purchases yesterday has opened a flood of nostalgia and… I’m kinda in the mood to talk about things that influenced me.

I’ve written about this before but not very recently, so what the heck…

There are a few monumental experiences I had as a young man which led me into wanting to create my own works. Some of the experiences are vague now with the passage of the years but some remain incredibly strong.

Way, waaaaaay back in/around 1971, when I was no more than five or so years old, I happened to catch this TV movie when it premiered…

The movie, for those who haven’t seen it, features Dennis Weaver as an “everyman” (his character’s name is -wait for it- David Mann) who heads out to some business function or another and, along the way and on a mostly deserted road, encounters a truck.

What follows is some of the most suspenseful material I’ve ever seen in a “mere” TV movie, as the truck keeps appearing before Mann and his intentions turn decidedly homicidal.

I saw the film way back then and it really stuck with me. Years would pass and sometime in the 1980’s, full decade later, I happened to catch the film on TV again… and told my friends they needed to see it.

What I didn’t know back then in the Stone Age of pre-internet times was that this film was directed by one Steven Spielberg and it was, after several TV show episodes, his first full on directed movie.

It was, I realized then, thematically very similar to Spielberg’s first HUGE theatrical release, Jaws. Both films feature protagonists who are chased by a very menacing creature, one a truck, the other a shark. In fact, it is my understanding the producers of Jaws decided to give Spielberg the job because they realized Duel featured the same type of suspense they hoped to achieve.

Here’s the thing though: I saw the film exactly once back in/around 1971. Why, of all the things that I saw back then (and I’ll get into them in future entries) did that one stick with me?

It wouldn’t be until years later and a proper bells and whistles DVD was released of Duel that the answer came to me. Mr. Spielberg, clearly relishing revisiting his first big success, was interviewed as a bonus feature on the DVD and he got into the process of making the film.

One of the things he said about this really stuck with me and explained why such a young man as I was way back then appreciated and understood that this was a story being told to me with a beginning, middle, and end.

You see, Mr. Spielberg originally intended the film to be “silent”. Not in the sense of having no sound, mind you. He used the sound of engines and tires squealing and the crunching of metal on metal very effectively.

No, what Mr. Spielberg was talking about was that he originally intended the film to have no dialogue at all. Effectively, the action and movement, the cuts and reactions of Mr. Weaver were originally all that were intended to be shown.

Universal Studios, however, had no interest in doing this and thus there are bits of dialogue here and there in the film and verbal “reactions” by Mr. Weaver’s character to the situation he’s in…

…which for the most part and in my humble opinion don’t add much to the film.

The fact is that Mr. Spielberg’s original vision is mostly there to be seen and some, perhaps even most of the dialogue we do get could have been excised and the story told wouldn’t have been impacted much.

And there, I realized, was why the very young me not only could follow the story being told here, but actually understood it. I’d seen other films in/around that time (I have a particular memory of seeing Papillon in a theater) but none of the films I saw really stood out quite like Duel did for me and I strongly suspect its because the film was essentially told through pictures and therefore was easy for a young man like me to “get.”

Watching Duel was but the first step in my lifelong passion for films and I find it so interesting it would be a Steven Spielberg film -though one I wasn’t aware until much later he directed- that would be the gateway to that passion!

Goldfinger (1964) a (ludicrously) belated review

Way, waaay back when Dr. No, the first James Bond movie, was released in 1962, it was a hit and launched the then new action/secret agent genre. A year later and in 1963, Sean Connery returned to the role for From Russia With Love. And a year after that, he would return for the third time in what many consider the best of the early Bond films, Goldfinger.

For those living in a cave the last few decades, the movie’s trailer:

This was the Bond movie that first really pushed the idea of spectacle and it was mostly done by giving Bond a tricked out car, the famous silver Aston Martin DB5 and its many gadgets…

This weekend and for whatever reason, our local iPic theater was playing Goldfinger and we decide to give it a look. I’ve seen the film several times before but not recently so I was curious how I would react to seeing it again, this time on the big screen, and if it would show its age.

Well, I won’t keep you in suspense here: I felt the film did show its age. But having said that, it was expected.

Considering the way “spectacle” films are nowadays, Goldfinger comes off as at times almost tame in its bigger action sequences yet the story is what makes the film sing.

For Goldfinger is a film that puts you in bond’s shoes regarding what the villain is up to… and often Bond -and the viewer- don’t know quite what the hell is going on.

The movie starts with Bond finishing off a mission before heading to Miami Beach and brushing against Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe, quite good as the spoiled yet devious titular villain). Goldfinger, we find, has somehow been smuggling (you guessed it) gold from country to country, taking advantage of the exchange rates to make out like a bandit… and England isn’t too happy about that. They’ve tried to figure out how he does it but so far haven’t and Bond, afterwards, is assigned to figure out what he’s up to.

I’ve skipped a few details because I don’t want to get into SPOILERS but suffice to say Bond winds up finding himself in great danger the closer he gets to Goldfinger. More importantly, he realizes Goldfinger has some kind of sinister master plan in the works and must use his wits to stay alive long enough to both figure that plan out and thwart it.

Again, the action sequences may be lacking to modern audiences but the general excitement, and mystery, regarding Goldfinger is the engine that keeps this film going. The cast, beyond Connery’s Bond and Frobe’s Goldfinger, is also to die for. The almost ethereally beautiful Shirley Eaton has a small role at the start of the film as Jill Masterson. Honor Blackman is cool and sexy as (don’t know how they got away with it) Pussy Galore. And then there’s Harold Sakata as Oddjob, the first -and perhaps the best!- of the very fearsome henchmen Bond faces during his decades of adventures.

So while as an action film Goldfinger may not thrill quite as it did when first released and if you can forgive one sequence many modern eyes view as “rapey”, recommending Goldfinger is a no-brainer.

Especially if you can see it in a theater!

Fear Is The Key (1972) a (ridiculously belated) review

So as I was flying to go see my daughter, I had the time to see a film in my vast (and sadly mostly unwatched) digital movie library. The film I chose to see is the 1972 thriller starring Barry Newman and based on an Alistair MacLean book, Fear Is The Key.

Here’s the movie’s trailer:

I’m a fan of Alastair MacLean’s works. There have been some really, really good films made of them, including The Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare, and Ice Station Zebra.

There have been clunkers as well and this one, I have to admit, I was unaware of until it was pointed out recently to me.

So I purchased a digital copy of the film and, on the flight to my daughter, I watched it.

And it proved to be an enjoyable, if somewhat low budget and (especially those who are familiar with the works of MacLean) somewhat predictable thriller.

Here’s the thing about MacLean’s stories (SPOILERS FOLLOW): Often things are not quite what they seem. The stories are often pulpy action romps featuring “professional” men’s men and full blooded women who may -or may not- have their own agendas.

Thus the opening act of Fear is the Key didn’t really “fool” me and while it was very exciting I kinda knew we were being fed a bit of misdirection.

Again, I’m trying not to be too SPOILERY here so I’ll just leave it at that!

What follows is a fascinating story involving the search for …something… deep on the ocean floor and a lead character played by Barry Newman whom we’re not entirely sure what he’s about.

One could say some of the action at the very start of the film was excessive but I thought it was entertaining enough to kick start the film wonderfully before settling into a more of a thriller.

Again, I don’t want to get too SPOILERY but if you’re into MacLean’s works and adaptations into film, this is a nice one to add to the list. It may not quite be up there with the trifecta of Guns of Navarone or Where Eagles Dare or Ice Station Zebra (IMHO the three best of the best ones) but its a great way to spend an afternoon… or in my case, a flight!

Superhero fatigue…?

Last Friday the latest Marvel Comics Universe film, The Marvels, was released and its opening box office numbers were, to put it kindly, quite abysmal.

I wasn’t shocked, frankly.

This is the 33rd MCU film and while the movies released recently haven’t had the super (pardon the pun) success of the films released during the MCU’s golden age, neither did they appear to be “flops”. That seems to have changed with this film.

There are those who say it isn’t about superhero fatigue but I’m firmly of the belief it is just that.

Of late, the DC movies, including Black Adam, The Flash, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods didn’t have spectacular box office numbers. I found it interesting how many comic book nerds (of which I am one!) gloated that the DCU films were such a dumpster fire and how they were doing so badly… yet The Marvels has underperformed even those films.

Which brings me back to the idea there may be some kind of superhero fatigue going on.

Let’s face it, the movie industry is still trying to get its legs. COVID really messed up the way movies were both made and released and once people got used to not going to theaters and seeing things via streaming and in the comfort of their homes, things certainly had at least the possibility of changing.

I’ve noted this before: The older I get the more I realize just how things can change and radically from one moment to the other. I’ve lived through many different music eras and have seen styles come and go -and return! I’ve also seen how the digital industry has changed my own shopping habits. Things change and sometimes we do not go back to how it was before.

The MCU films have been a truly staggering success. A lot of money has been made since Iron Man was first released in 2008 and the success of superhero films has been something a comic book fan like myself has enjoyed.

However, even a comic book fan like myself can get tired of things… especially when it feels like we’re getting retreads of concepts and stories.

Frankly, I’ve been bored with the MCU since the dual release of the first Dr. Strange film as well as the first Guardians of the Galaxy. The later was a huge success but when I saw the film it didn’t work for me at all. Dr. Strange, I felt, was little more than a reworked Iron Man, only with magic instead of the Military Industrial Complex.

And shock yourself: I have yet to see the final two Avengers films.

This is coming from someone who feels Captain America: The Winter Soldier is my second favorite superhero film of all time. (To those curious, my favorite remains the Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve Superman)

Now, I do wonder if maybe things can turn around and people give these types of movies another go. There’s no reason to think they don’t but I do feel like maybe it’s time to stomp on the brakes a little and perhaps not flood the market with so much superhero stuff, both in movies and on TV.

Either way, it is what it is and it wouldn’t surprise me if a few months down the road Hollywood discovers something else that’s a big success for them… not unlike the recent Barbie and Oppenheimer releases.