Less Justice League, more Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, please…

Yesterday, I watched a matinee showing of the film Justice League, where a collection of DC superheroes band together to stop an alien conqueror from taking over the Earth.  The best thing I can say about it was … well, it was kinda okay.

But that being said … there were moments in the film where it dragged like a sloth through mud.  Tons of exposition.  Battles with that Zack Snyder slow-motion-pan-and-rotate-until-you-get-dizzy setup.  Ben Affleck making his own case for the most sullen Batman ever.  Ezra Miller making his case for being the doofiest Flash currently in media today.

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“Kodachrome: The Movie” coming to Netflix

The Railsplitter. Nikkormat FTn camera, Kodachrome film. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

About seven years ago, I used the iconic slide film Kodachrome in its last year that the film could be developed.  I photographed bridges and trees and winter scenes and other cool images.

Then, in December 2010, the last processing plant in the world – the only one capable of handling the various chemicals used to develop Kodachrome film – announced they would stop development.  And although some people have tried homebrew methods to develop Kodachrome, while others have developed the film in a black-and-white process … Kodachrome film was finished.

Spin forward to 2017 … and now there’s a film about the last days of Kodachrome.


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So I saw Marvel’s Inhumans in IMAX last night…

As a kid, I feasted on comic books.  I followed the multi-layered storylines of Marvel’s superhero lines, as well as the sharp, snappy, inventive comics in the DC line.

So any time a new Marvel or DC motion picture or television series debuts, I have to give it a chance.  Whether it’s the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the ones that Disney puts out), the DC Extended Universe (the ones that Warner Bros. shows), the DC Berlanti Universe (all the superhero programs on the CW), the Spider-Man Extended Universe (the films that Sony produces) or the X-Men Expanded Universe (20th Century Fox holds on to those rights), I need to watch them.  For me, it’s a reconnection with my childhood – or at least the pleasant and least violent part of my childhood.

Continue reading “So I saw Marvel’s Inhumans in IMAX last night…”

Spider-Man: Homecoming and that … er … um … smell…

Let’s get a few things straight.  I enjoyed the Spider-Man trilogy with Tobey Maguire as the webslinger.  I kinda was okay with the Amazing Spider-Man double feature with Andrew Garfield in the suit.  They both had their strengths and they both had their weaknesses, to be sure.

And last night, I watched the reboot of the Spider-Man movie series, this time with Tom Holland playing a high school version of the titular Marvel super-hero.  It was fun, it was exciting, it had plenty of those Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-ins and connections – several MCU characters appear in and are referenced in this picture.  And I’m okay with that as well, it’s nice to know that Spider-Man is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even though the Spider-Man movie rights are technically held by Sony and lended out to Disney/Marvel on an as-needed basis.  Sort of like that old Hollywood movie star / studio contract deal.  I totally get it.

And as I said, the film was very enjoyable and fun to watch … because I was trying my damndest to focus on the film and not on other things.

Continue readingSpider-Man: Homecoming and that … er … um … smell…”

Reflections on Adam West

Last night, I heard the awful news that actor Adam West passed away at the age of 88.  He led a fll and long life, and whether he was typecast in one specific role or not, and although he eventually grew to appreciate and embrace that one role – he will always be, to a generation of television viewers, the legendary Caped Crusader, Batman himself.

He was my first true television superhero – every afternoon at 4pm on WRGB would be a brand new (to me) Batman episode.  Maybe I didn’t understand the camp value of the series – how most of the actors were playing their roles over-the-top and tongue-planted-directly-in-cheek – but for a six-year-old who had enough drama in his home life, Batman was an escape for me.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: Better than expected!

https://i2.wp.com/img.lum.dolimg.com/v1/images/rogueone_onesheeta_1000_309ed8f6.jpegThere was so much to expect from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, as the Star Wars movie universe added its first true standalone fixture in the series.  It’s almost as if the storytellers decided to rebuild the old “Star Wars Expanded Universe” that once populated the series’ books and videogames and TV specials, and placed it directly into the movie canon.

And that’s what happened with Rogue One, as we get the story of how a band of freedom fighters acquired the data tapes that exploit a weakness in the planet-killing Death Star – the same data tapes that Princes Leia smuggles into R2-D2 in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

And here I was last night, buying my ticket to the early evening 3-D showing at the Regal Cinema in Colonie Center.  Yep, it’s just like that magical day in 1977 when I stood in line across the street at the old Cine 1-2-3-4-5-6 in Northway Mall for the first Star Wars film … except it wasn’t in the middle of winter and the ticket price wasn’t $17 to see the film.

Be that as it may, I found a good seat in the theater and waited through the 20 minutes of pre-movie advertisements and 20 minutes of movie trailers (so there are at least three Marvel movies debuting in 2017, okey dokey).  One Star Wars fan in front of me stood up, turned around, and shouted half-jokingly in the theater, “Is there anybody in here that isn’t wearing a Star Wars shirt?”

“Yeah, me!” I shouted back.

“Get out of the theater, you’re not welcome here,” he called.

Okay, I can play along.  I slowly waved my hand in front of him, and used my best Alec Guinness intonation.  “You don’t need to have me leave the theater.”

“That Jedi mind trick won’t work on me,” he shouted back.  Dude must have been a prequel fan.  Probably still has a Jar Jar Binks inflatable doll in his bedroom.  But we both had a good laugh over the moment.

As for the film itself – it was way better than I expected.  While it did follow the usual beats of a Star Wars film – group of mismatched, diverse fighters band together, some comic relief from a droid that joins the team (K-2SO), and plenty of menacing, threatening Stormtrooper action (I think their aim has improved in this film, if that’s saying anything).

And there were several shout-outs to various Star Wars moments – yes, at least one character says “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” and yes there were various Stormtrooper armored war vehicles that we remember from Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back.

The best praise I can bestow upon this film is that it finds a way to truly integrate itself into the Star Wars movie universe more tightly and fluidly than any of the prequels.  And without spoiling anything, we even get a return visit from Grand Moff Tarkin, the despot governor from Star Wars: Episode IV as played by Peter Cushing.  Well, as recreated from the estate of Peter Cushing, since Peter Cushing is quite dead now, but thanks to CGI technology he looks as alive and as menacing as he did in 1977.

The other thing about this film is that it really amps up the danger and drama for the freedom fighters Jyn, Cassian, Chirrut, K-2S0 and the rest.  This isn’t like the prequels, where you know that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Annikin Skywalker were going to survive their battles.  In this instance, you’re not sure who will prevail in the rebels’ fight against the Empire.  There’s no sure answer, because we don’t see these rebels in any other film, nor do we hear their names mentioned.  Was their mission a success, or did it become a noble failure, a footnote to the resistance against the Galactic Empire?

Oh, and one more thing.  Stay till the end of the film.  You will not be disappointed.  Trust me on this.

So what are you waiting for?  You know you want to see this film.  And you’d better see it before Star Wars: Episode VIII debuts next Christmas.

And maybe this time I’ll pack a Star Wars T-shirt or something for the premiere. 😀

The Force is not strong with this one, officer…

I’ve written before about my love and appreciation for the Star Wars movie franchise.  I stood in line at Northway Mall way back in 1977 at the old Cine 1-2-3-4-5-6 to see the first movie (now known as Episode IV), and last year I did the entire six-movie marathon at Regal Crossgates 18 before seeing the midnight showing of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.  So yeah, you know I’m going to see the new Star Wars: Rogue One spinoff movie (or is it Episode 3.5 in the series?  Not sure…)

That being said, I thought you might get a smile out of this little Star Wars clip, courtesy of the Fort Worth Police Department.  For the past couple of years, the Fort Worth PD has used Star Wars characters in their police recruitment videos.  That’s fine, I guess … but this one, featuring an attempt by a Star Wars stormtrooper to join the Fort Worth blue line …

And I suspect that the Fort Worth police officer in that video has had prior experience dealing with Darth Vader … as seen in this clip from 2015.

Of course, maybe it would be better if the Fort Worth Police Department recruited a different “man in black,” so to speak.

I guess … leave it to the Fort Worth Police Department to have a sense of humor.

But I digress… oh yeah, Star Wars: Rogue One opens in theaters on Friday, December 16, with special previews on Thursday night.  Check your local theater for time and availability.  And may the force be with you.

Even the police force.