A Second Chance Part I George Lucas’ THX 1138

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For my first film in this Second Chance series, I focus on the debut feature of George Lucas, THX 1138. Released in 1971, this movie is a science fiction film that is also a look at a bleak and sterile future where inhabitants are drugged and any form of intimacy is outlawed. The movie has a kinda 1984/George Orwell vibe to it. The only humans you see are the inhabitants of this unnamed city. No humans are in control, but rather robots which also give it a spiritual connection to The Matrix.

The first time I saw this movie, as about 5 or 6 years ago. I was always a fan of George Lucas because of Star Wars and this was the only film he had directed that I had not seen yet. I knew the film had been released on DVD as a directors cut, but as one who is a completeist, I had to see his original version, if it was available. Knowing Lucas, I figured that would be difficult.

Thanks however to the power of the internet, I managed to find a pretty clear copy of the original version. After watching it, I thought, “well thank goodness Star Wars was better.” I thought this was a very bland, and soulless film. It sounds hypocritical because of the film’s overall theme and setting, but it just felt totally disconnected. Now a film of this nature doesn’t have a deep connection with its characters. So the connection has to be with the world or setting. There is no exposition on how the world came to be this way, so what draws us to be interested in this film? I know many people hate the fact that Lucas made changes to his Star Wars films, but in this instance, it was totally needed. The settings for this movie are minimal and so the special effects give the world a new look and feel. Lucas seems to hate when he doesn’t have the latest and greatest toys to make his movies with , but for this one he needed them. I feel if he could have done this in 1971, and the movie have this look to it, it could have had some modicum of success.

I know I have not spoken much about the acting from Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasence, but in all honesty, the world they inhabit is the star of this film. Not to say they don’t do solid jobs, they certainly do.

When I first saw this movie, I thought it was terrible. Seeing the directors cut, improves the bland original and makes THX 1138 worthy of a second chance. If you are unsure, trust me “Everything will be alright.”

Links

LucasFilm Official website
Internet Movie Database Link (IMDB)
Wikipedia
Rotten Tomatoes

Everyone deserves a second chance

I recently have watched a few movies that I hadn’t seen in a while. The nice thing about this is that it allows time for you to look at something with fresh eyes. Almost as if you have never seen it. So I am going to write about some of these movies and see how my perspective on them has changed. Maybe I like them now maybe I hate them now. We shall see. The short list currently is as planned:

1. THX 1138 – 1971 Dir. George Lucas
2. Spider-Man 3 – 2007 Dir. Sam Raimi
3. Daredevil – 2003 Dir. Mark Steven Johnson
4. Spider-Man 2 – 2004 Dir. Sam Raimi

As I come back to other movies I hadn’t viewed in a while, then they too will be added to the list.

RoboCop (2014)

One of the few positive reviews on the remake of Robocop. Despite its flaws, I enjoyed this movie. I know it’s not the original classic, but sometimes I just need to have fun.

Unfolding The Plot

49% – Rotten Tomatoes
6.5/10 – IMDb

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve seen the original RoboCop, so there’s not much I can compare this new installment to. What I can say is that I actually really enjoyed the 2014 re-make of RoboCop; it’s one of those cool, mindless action sci-fi movies that you watch just for the awesome action scenes.

The original film was R-rated, whereas this reboot is only PG-13. I think I would have enjoyed the movie more if it was R-rated; most action movies need that R-rating for the extra boost in violence and action. With a PG-13 rating, this movie is on the same violence scale as Transformers. These movies are probably suitable for watching with the family, as many children ages 7+ watch Transformers. Even though RoboCop only has a PG-13 rating, the action was not lacking; however my impatient brother did…

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Spectacular Indeed: Looking at The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series

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Perhaps the brass at Sony should have used the title Amazing Spider-Man for this series instead of its rebooted film franchise. This is what we fans call “respect for the source material.” The Spectacular Spider-Man I feel is without question the best interpretation of the character, which includes the films. And perhaps it could have been the best superhero adaptation ever if it had been given a chance to finish it’s run.

I grew up with the 1994 Spider-Man series which seemed styled after the X-Men cartoon of the same era. I enjoyed it then and I still enjoy it now. It had everything you could want from a show about the wall-crawler: great action, tons of stories to cover, huge selection of villains and side characters. It was a great show and I take nothing away from it.

This show is better.

Plain and simple. At least that’s how I feel. This show only lasted 2 seasons for a total of 26 episodes and the show runners give comic fans everything they would want.

Now to begin, I did not watch the show regularly when it was on the air. I would catch a episode here and there, and each time I would watch more of it, I never noticed I didn’t dislike a single episode. After I heard that the show got cancelled I wasn’t really upset, since I had never invested much into it. About a year or so ago the show was on Netflix, so I decided to revisit it. I only watched about 10 episodes before I got sidetracked and it was eventually pulled. I did see however, enough to noticed the things about this show that make it truly special.

The first thing I noticed was it’s art style, which is very cartoony and easily digestible for children. So I dismissed it as a more kid-focused program. Please do not let that be the reason you refuse to check this out. It has a simple look, but when you see the level of action that is in this cartoon, you forget how it looks. The dialed back design allows for far greater detail in the shows other elements. I don’t like to guarantee things that are subjective, but I feel confident that once you watch it, you’ll never think about the look of it again. The look may be for kids but we adults have something much deeper to look at. Think of it like the Pixar films, kids love the way it looks, but adults get the story, themes and context.

Another aspect of this show that is Amazing (pun intended) is the world that Peter Parker inhabits. Now that superhero movie is now the standard in Hollywood and not a niche market, we get usually 1 of 2 types of entries, we either get action galore, or we get overly introspective/dark and gritty. In this show, you have a legit comic book universe and all the elements in it are balanced perfectly. Fun when it needs, serious when it needs. Spidey’s enemies are not totally defeated and they are not crammed in for the sake of it. Funny how they do the Sinister Six perfect in this series and I wonder how this future movie will work.

One last thing that I felt this show did so much better than the movies, and that is high school. The films never spent much time with Peter in high school as the comics did. They didn’t play up the relationships that Peter has with his fellow students. Now of course this is tv so it allows for that but other than The Amazing Spider-Man we really don’t spend time in the halls. We see his friendship with Harry Osborn, his indecision about his feelings for Gwen Stacy, the somewhat automatic attraction he experiences with Mary Jane. So many stories that play out during this shows run. Then you have others like Flash Thompson and Liz Allan, who actually dates our hero while he is uncertain about who he cares for. And perhaps my favorite relationship, the connection between Peter and Eddie Brock. There is a connection there that was wasted in Spider-Man 3.

I know this has gone on pretty lengthy for such a short show, but I had to speak out on this fantastic comic book adaptation. It really is such a shame it is gone and could not take up on the plot threads it began to lay down for a 3rd season. If you have a Blu-Ray player and love the character of Spider-Man pleas do yourself a favor and get the complete series set. It will be well spent.

Review Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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It may sound strange, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier seems to be the movie that is the catalyst for a lot of major events. That seems quite a bit for Captain America who isn’t the major attraction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but rather one Tony Stark who is the crowd pleaser. However, Cap’s second outing improves upon the first entry Captain America: The First Avenger and by time it’s over has serious reprecussion throughout the franchise heading forward.

I think the first thing to say about this film is that it’s not really a superhero movie at all. And that’s not to say because Captain America has no superpowers. I do in fact consider him a superhero like Batman mainly because of the circumstances they find themselves in. This movie is much more spy thriller than superpowered blockbuster like The Avengers or even the first Captain America movie. It basically takes a less is more approach and it works perfectly.

The thing about Captain America besides being a man out of time is that he is also out of his professional realm so to speak. He is a operative of S.H.I.E.L.D under Nick Fury. The situation is Cap is a soldier and he works for an espionage/intelligence agency. So this cause some strain between him and Fury in regards to trust. This makes sense as Steve Rogers would feel that his superiors would give him all information needed to complete his mission, whereas Fury would feel the need to compartmentalize that info.

Eventually the organization is compromised and Cap along with agent Natasha Romanoff(Black Widow) go on the run to find out how and why.

This movie has the makings of a 1970s spy thriller/chase movie with the two main characters on the run. Plus it also has Robert Redford who was a staple of those types of films, as SHIELD head honcho Alexander Pierce.

I found this movie quite engaging and fun. It has a less superhero feel than the other films in the franchise and I find that a little relieving. Mainly because this element was able to be pulled off and it didn’t slow the film down. It isn’t until the end that you have your major effects heavy battle and all that.

This movie also has repercussions throughout the MCU by having the effects of what happens here crossover into the show Agents of SHIELD. I’ll save you trouble. See the movie then watch the pilot of the show. This way you know the characters then skip to episode 16. The rest in between is pretty bland.

Great action, good performances and high stakes make this the best of the Phase 2 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I would certainly check this one out.