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Wednesday, August 16. 2017
Cloud Atlas — Marvelous, just marvelous. One of Tom Hanks' best.
The Martian — One of Matt Damon's increasingly good roles.
The Great Wall — Superb special effects, great monsters, seriously hot Chinese chick. What more do you want?
Rogue One — This is the '½' flick. It is, by no means, a 'great' movie, but there's an important point to be made.
As always, you're encouraged to click on the icon on the lower-right of the player's tool bar to open them up to full-screen size. Hit ESC to get back to windows mode when through.
Goodies are below the fold.
This is a tale of six stories, from the distant past, to the near past, to the near future, to the distant future, to the far distant future, and how they impact each other through deeds and time. What makes it intriguing is that you spend about 9/10ths of the movie trying to figure out just how they're all going to tie in at the end.
And then they do.
Here's the description from the IMDb:
That sums it up quite nicely.
In a break from protocol, the following clip is from the end of the movie, but it's not a 'spoiler alert' in the sense that we know from the very beginning that she's going to be executed. What we'll note, though, is how the narrative spans the very nature of time. As she says, "I would imagine a door opening', we flash hundreds of years back to when a door opens. As the narrative from long ago notes how people who rebel against the system will, "at worst, be lynched or crucified", exactly that happens in the far distant future.
When she says, "Someone already does" is a superbly crafted piece of both writing and acting. The way her voice quiets as she says "already does" indicates that the person she's talking about... is in the room with her.
There's one other thing of interest to note about the film. With six stories going on at the same time, one would expect some of the major stars, such as Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving and Hugh Grant, to play more than one role. Maybe two, even three roles.
And, indeed, they do.
Apparently — at least in some cases — Hollywood isn't as hung up on gender, race and ethnicity as we're led to believe.
Okay, let's get this out of the way. From what I've read in reviews and forums, a great number of people dismissed this film because it wasn't an actual 'Star Wars' movie.
But it definitely is.
It's a prequel to the very first movie, in that it shows how the rebel alliance obtained the Death Star's vulnerability in the first place.
No, it doesn't have the big scrolling text intro. No, it doesn't have a Chewbacca, Han Solo, wise-cracking C-3PO or adorable R2D2.
It does, however, have this at the very beginning:
And this at the very end:
So, yes, it is very much a 'Star Wars' movie. If you skipped it the first time around, go rent it and enjoy.
Here's the moment when our heroine finds out about the daunting task before her.
It also differs from the other 'Star Wars' movies in one singular way:
It has a very sad ending.
You've been warned.
Matt Damon has really grown as an actor over the years. I really didn't think much of him at first. But I've followed his career over time, and his acting — as well as his choice in movies — has done nothing but get better and better.
In 'The Martian', a group of NASA explorers are on Mars gathering samples and taking measurements. Suddenly, a gigantic dust storm arrives and they've got to flee. A piece of flying debris hits Damon, they can't find him in the few minutes remaining, so he's given up for dead and the group takes off.
But he's alive.
He then has to figure out how to stay alive, with only limited food and oxygen in the habitat. And, the big problem is, even when NASA discovers he's still alive, a rescue mission would take almost two years just to get there, so everyone's got a major dilemma to face.
Here he is trekking around in the rover as he contemplates how to fix a major physical problem he's undergoing at the moment.
An intriguing, enjoyable flick from first moment to last.
The Great Wall
One thing that differentiates the good actor from the pack is his or her ability to dramatically change roles. Some actors tend to remain in character no matter what the flick. Jason Statham springs to mind. Whether he's a good guy or bad guy, he's always a hardass fighting machine.
And then, again, we have Matt Damon. Just a flick or two after the futuristic 'The Martian', he's flung back thousands of years into a warrior fighting in ancient China.
After helping to defend the wall against the first wave of attackers, here he is making a serious impression upon his Chinese captors.
Pretty hot Chinese babe, eh? Her name is Tian Jing. More detailed info on her here.
Movie suggestions are always welcome in the comments.
Posted by Dr. Mercury in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 17:00 | Comments (25) | Trackbacks (0)
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I thought "Cloud Atlas" was just amazing. One of the best movies I've ever seen. Great review on it, Doc.
I'd say it's better as an 'individual' kind of movie. You, the screen, and maybe headphones. It takes some concentration to follow all six story lines. It's also much better the second time around, as by then you've got the stories down and can concentrate more on the acting, script and details.
But, as you said, to each their own. Can't please everybody.
I agree, Cloud Atlas was superb. I also liked both Matt Damon movies you mentioned. He's definately gotten better over the years. Dogma, Oceans's 11 & 13, Interstellar, True Grit, The Departed, Rounders, all were great. I'm also looking forward to Ocean's Eight, due out next year. It's not going to be an authentic Ocean's movie, but with Sandra Bullock and Kendall Jenner in it, who cares? :-)
Okay, that one I had to look up. You're right, it's not the usual gang, but Danny Ocean's sister pulling a heist job. Might be fun!
And your recommendation for a good movie would be what, exactly? Please elaborate in depth, and provide a link if possible.
Randy's just another gasbag full of hot air. He won't respond. Trolls never do.
I loved "Cloud Atlas". It was great the way the movie tied it all together at the end. I'd suggest that anyone who didn't like it is intellectually-challenged. It was definitely a cerebral movie. Kudos to the actors that participated, and I thought the video clip of their acting roles was just perfect. Including it was Doc at his finest.
I also appreciate the inclusion of Rogue One. Like many, I had somewhat dismissed it, but now I'll watch it. I watched a Youtube video review of it a while back that totally smashed it, but now I feel different. Now it looks like a worthwhile movie for a Star Wars fan.
I'm not sure why so many critics disavowed it, but 'Rogue One' is certainly worth the price of admission. It didn't have as likable a heroine as 'Force Awakens', but them's the breaks. Enjoy!
I agree with your assessment, doc. The way Sonmi-351 met her end almost left me in tears. And I really didn't 'get' the way she impacted the future until I watched it again. I originally thought the 'cave man' role played by Hanks was of the distant past, but when he recognized her in the future module, that's when I really got the story line. As you said, marvelously done. Thanks for the wonderful review.
Thanks, Diane, and I was the same way. It was clever, the way the director implied from the beginning that the Hanks character was from the ancient past, whereas he was really from the distant future, and thus a disciple of Sonmi's vision. The scene in the future module really enforced that. As both of us said, marvelously done.
O12 was the best Ocean movie. Had a real hook, even though the plot wasn't any better than the other two. And Cherry Jones as Linus's mom was just about the most perfect small part I can remember.
"The way her voice quiets as she says "already does" indicates that the person she's talking about... is in the room with her."
Wonderfully put, Doc. That was my favorite line of the whole movie. It really drove the point home. An idea is a hard thing to kill.
Rogue One, is essentially a classic war movie, like Sands of Iwo Jima or The Dirty Dozen, that happens to be a Star Wars movie.
I feel like the people who hated Rogue One, mostly seemed to be people who think of John Wayne as a bygone relic from another time, and look at old war movies as being too rah-rah patriotic for modern times.
I loved it. I'm a huge Star Wars fan though, but I grew up watching classic war movies, back when Hollywood could make a war movie without having to be jaded and cynical about the whole thing.
All very well put. If you wanted to compare it to a singular classic, how about John Wayne's 'The Alamo', where all the characters slowly die off, one by one?
When you recommend a movie that has bad reviews on places like Rotten Tomatoes, it would help if you offered a hypothesis to reconcile the two - ie the bad reviewers are missing X or the bad reviewers had the wrong expectations for the film
Good point! I tend to get wrapped up in WWII movies, but 'The Alamo' would definitely be a good comparison.
An interesting point, but from what I've seen, EVERY movie gets some bad reviews. Ever read any of the personal comments on the IMDb? The first three praise it to the moon. "This movie changed my life!" The next three basically say "Don't waste your money on this piece of dreck!" Back and forth, back and forth, on and on. Back when Netflix allowed comments, it was the same way. So giving any credence to bad reviews seems like a waste of time. Just let people watch it and decide for themselves.
Out of curiosity, I just now went over to Rotten Tomatoes and read the forum headers for 'Interstellar'. Same thing there. Half hated it, half loved it.
So, it sounds like I'd spend more time refuting the haters about some movie I personally liked than I'd spend describing why I personally liked it.
I have a particular penchant for WWII movies about the Pacific and Atlantic theaters. Over the past few weeks, I've re-watched 'Midway', 'Tora! Tora! Tora!', 'Sink The Bismarck' , 'Run Silent Run Deep' and 'The Enemy Below'. It's really a shame Robert Mitchum didn't do more war movies. He really excelled at it.
You're right about the ending of Rogue One. As a long-time Star Wars fan, I was actually kind of shocked. It was just so un-Star-Wars-ish. But at least it was beautifully done, with the two of them on the beach like that, resounding music score filling the air.
Haven't seen Cloud Atlas yet, but it's now on the list. The second video, showing all the parts the main actors played, is really astounding. Helluva make-up department the studio had. It also showed how incredibly diverse the six story lines are. Should be a blast.
Yeah, that's why I included the second clip. It's kind of a 'teaser' in its own way. It's remarkable what they can do with good make-up these days. I'm sure you'll enjoy the flick. As I noted elsewhere, it's even more enjoyable the second time around, as by then you'll have gotten the six story lines and can watch how they interconnect.
I always thought Casablanca was pretty good. Good acting, good story, nice ending.
Woof! Pretty serious reaction for disagreeing about the value of a movie.
I think the point is, it's one thing to bitch about something, quite another to make a better suggestion. Look at MissT's comment, above. A classic example. That's borderline troll behavior. "I didn't like it, and I don't want anybody else to, either!" For someone whose comments are usually right on the mark, I was honestly surprised.
As far as 'Casablanca' goes, actually, I've never seen it, but, upon your suggestion, I just might do so.