Wednesday, April 21, 2021

OLD vs. NEW: Total Recall

A while back I started a thread of reviews where I compared originals and remakes. Now, seeing that this summer I will conclude the weekly run of my blog, there are a couple of movies I wanted to get off my chest. March was about franchises, now let us look at movies that remade - for better or worse - and see how they compare. Here we go:

Totall Recall (1990/2012)

Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger/Colin Farrell) seeks a more entertaining life, so he decides to visit a place that implants memory. Being burdened by the weight of a dream, he asks to have the memories of a spy. However, he awakes to have had memories supressed already, of his true secret agent identity, that of Hauser who completed missions for and against the government... or did he?

These are based on a simply magnificient short story by Phillip K. Dick, entitled "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" (1966), which I recommend everyone reads before or after the movies. I really enjoyed the first movie, although incredibly disgusting at times, I was super happy that I watched it in daylight, it was one of those early sci-fi movies that needed a remake. First, taking out the disgusting elements worked to the benefit of the remake. Second, having his presumed wife Lori Quaid (Kate Beckinsale) also be the lead agent was a great move. In the original she was played by Sharon Stone, but she passes away and a male agent is the one to go after Quaid. There was really no need for the addition of another nemesis and I loved Beckinsale in this role. She was one to look out for. Against Melina (Jessica Biel), she was a force to be reckoned with. Then, I really loved the world constructed in the remake, as the original had a lot of secrecy and mystery about it, and in the end I craved more or a twist. The remake also allowed for the illusion of this all being just one big implant present for the viewer, and that too was very smart. The enemy, Cohaagen, first played by Ronny Cox (basically reviving his role as corporate bad guy from RoboCop), was then played by Bryan Cranston, which was a great casting decision. He just wants absolute power, and by introducing an army of robots, this remake also took us to another side of sci-fi movies, with artificial intelligence instead of aliens/mutants. I think that is just such a smart re-write, as these movies can co-exist and bring forth two great adaptations of a fantastic short story. 

So watch it? I do believe that both are exceptionally smart movies. One takes you to outerspace, the other showcases our world in a way that we have not yet seen. Visually stunning, smart and great concept, making you wonder about the plot over and over again, with two great actors being cast in the role of Quaid

Until the next item on my list!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Now Streaming: Godzilla vs. Kong

This is the 10th year of my blog, and as always, I have at least 40 movie reviews planned, as well as my personal entries and a good chunk of games and TV shows. Some of these are going to be classics that I just took off my bucket list, others are going to be contemporary ones streaming on major services online. So let us just get onto the next item on my list of chores:

After many years of studying and experiencing the behavior of these Titan animals, an expedition is prepared to enter Hollow Earth, hoping to find their home. Leading the expedition is Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård), with the help of Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who have made a bond with Kong. His location is, however, discovered by Godzilla, who has previously attacked a factory, very unlike them, as they never attacked people before. To understand why these attacks occured, a group of unlikely heroes, led by Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) enters the offices of Apex Industry after the attack has occured. The fight of the two is unavoidable, but there is more to it than meets the eyes.

I loved the trailer already, and well, I was not disappointed. I just wanted to see some kaiju have an epic battle and I enjoyed every second of it. I would like to refrain from the debate of who is stronger, as the movie very much establishes it, and it also takes us to a different problem that needs solving, mostly with the thanks of the Titans. I was simply mesmerized by the visuals, the CGI is this movie is gorgeous, it has a great cast, but FINALLY we are not focused on people like the Godzilla movies have for years now... we are here for the monsters, the kaiju, the fight, the destruction, the fear... everything BUT the humans, and I feel like this movie finally got it right in its ratio of necessary human interaction vs. the actual monsters. There are two main plots, they connected wonderfully with the third act, there was not one scene out of order, the music was great, the story was fun... I just love everything about this movie, even the occasionally corny dialogue that was clearly written for the trailer shots. 

Watch it? Well, I would tell you to wait out the virus and go see in the movie theatre, I know that I will, because this was simply stunning, and I got exactly what I wanted from this movie. Arguable all movies are made for the silver screen, but the world is a shitty place right now... this movie did help, however. If you cannot wait, do not have the chance yet, then watch it at home and enjoy the awesome ride. If you can, then go to your local theatre and make sure you get a biiiiig box of popcorn to go with it!

Until the next item on my list!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

OLD vs. NEW: Lady & The Tramp

A while back I started a thread of reviews where I compared originals and remakes. Now, seeing that this summer I will conclude the weekly run of my blog, there are a couple of movies I wanted to get off my chest. March was about franchises, now let us look at movies that remade - for better or worse - and see how they compare. Here we go:

Lady & The Tramp (1955/2020)

A house trained beautiful dog, Lady (originally voiced by Barbara Laddy), makes friend with a stray running around in the city, Tramp (originally voiced by Larry Roberts). Now, I grew up with this cartoon, I was super scared of the scenes with the rat, and for the longest time I did not get either why that is the villain... but of course, as you grow up sanitary concerns become clear in period pieces. That having been said, this has become a beloved Disney classic, so is there a need for a remake?
Now... I have been following live-actions... that is not true. I hate them and see absolutely no reason for them, and with each they make changes that are completely unnecessary. THIS MOVIE IS THE EXCEPTION. Coming out when Disney+ launched in the Autumn of 2019, it was completely off the radar, and hardly anyone talks about it. And yet, this is the best Disney live-action to date. First of all, the diversion that Hollywood is trying to integrate is perfectly included in this movie, with Darling played by Kiersey Clemons, her Aunt Sarah by Yvette Nicole Brown, as well as Lady being voiced by none other than Tessa Thompson. They fit in perfectly in this imaginary roaring 20s. That is followed by how the world was opened, how when Lady leaves her backyard the Tramp (Justin Theroux) shows her different colors and feelings, and in return, the Tramp experiences real care after years from two incredibly endearing characters, such as Darling and Jim Dear (Thomas Mann). This live-action might be shot by shot the original, but it still fixed a lot of issues that might make a cartoon from 1955 outdated for some. I keep listening to reviews of live-action Disney movies, and how they are trying to elevate originals, in order not fix controversies, which then simply yields films with horrible plotholes that just end up raping our childhood memories. Not this one. I am telling you, this is the best live-action movie out there. The cast is unique, the voice actors are great, the CGI on the dogs is simply spectacular (and I can only imagine their budget as this was a straight-to-stream release), the scenery and period accuracy was spot on, and overall I just felt really good when this movie was over.

So watch it? Absolutely. Ever since I saw it I have been raising people's awareness and recommending it left and right, because this movie needs more people to see it. And due to the super scary scenes with the rat in the original cartoon, I might just show this to my kids instead... it was so endearing and so well done. The CGI department alone deserves awards for this.

Until the next item on my list!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

OLD vs NEW: Robocop

 A while back I started a thread of reviews where I compared originals and remakes. Now, seeing that this summer I will conclude the weekly run of my blog, there are a couple of movies I wanted to get off my chest. March was about franchises, now let us look at movies that remade - for better or worse - and see how they compare. Here we go:

RoboCop (1987/2014)

Murphy (Peter Weller) is almost killed by a group of thugs in crime ridden Detroit. He is then turned into a half robot, more of a robot actually, than human for a good while, as corporations fight over who had the best idea to clean Detroit of its filth, as the police is planning to strike. Murphy not only gets the bad guys that almost killed him, but stipulates that having a brain and a heart, he is superior to any machine meant to protect and to serve.

This movie had two sequels, which I am yet to see, as I was little impressed by the first one. Sorry, I said it... this movie has probably the best music ever, which is a tall order, as 80s science-fiction movies have some of the most famous themes in movie history. But the conflict between the corporate moguls did not interest me, and ultimately this is a revenge fantasy, which I do not think is the right way to go about it. Murphy was in there all along, but the movie forgot to show us any of his personality, thus resulting in me not caring about any of the characters. Now, this problem was mended in the 2014 re-make, starring Joel Kinnaman as Murphy, who has a special bond with his best friend, partner, his captian, as well as his wife and kid. The movie took the time to make us care about him, and that was crucial. The corporations abuse of power was incredibly well constructed, having Michal Keaton and the delightful Jennifer Ehle heading the program that made RoboCop. Not to mention, that Keaton's character Raymond Sellars, showed that he might be a corporate asshole, but there were layers to his personality; and his interactions with Gary Oldman's Dr. Dennett Norton where just incredible to watch. This movie had formidable casting. Finally, most memorable, is how Murphy slowly gains back his humanity, even when the robot brain is supposed to take over. Now, for the original, Murphy had an endearing partner, next to a sub plot of police strike and what not, but we never meet his family, his kid, we never get a chance to connect with him, as I said. His partner (of one freaking day), Lewis (Nancy Allen) is the one who gets him back, and there was no real good explanation as to why that partner cares so much either. To me, the first movie is a series is of images, while the remake is a story of a man inside the machine, and the focus IS on that man.

This remake only has a 6,1 rating on imdb, but to me personally it expanded on all the things I missed from the original. Watch it? I believe that if you are a fan of the movies of the 80s, you need to see the original first, but as far as remakes are concerned, this is a really good one, with an all star casting, that might have fallen short because the nostalgia of a trilogy of RoboCop preceeding it influences a whole generation. To me, because it wasn't that significant, I managed to enjoy the remake far more. Overall, there are some awesome sci-fi movies from the 80s that deserve to be made with much better CGI and choreography, and this definitely applies.

Until the next item on my list!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Blogger: 365 Days of a Pandemic

I do not think there is anything I can say that has not been written in funny tweets, heartwarming youtube videos, or striking tiktoks. But at the same time I felt the need to write this entry, because writing always helps me. 

The Rage

I spent a whole year seeing posts online about what people were going through, having a hard time handling the four walls, not seeing loved ones, and well... I am sorry, but a lot of them had incredible first world problems. Especially in my own country I could not help but feel that the virus was a lesson in people appreciating what they have, and when you decide to go on a trip with your kids while there is a virus out there that is literally killing people, not only are you endangering their lives, but you are being a reckless fuck. You clearly do not appreciate what you have and are happy to throw is away with the first chance you get. There is a deeper message here about how consumer society is rotten to its core, and where we deem human relationships the same way we view an amazon order. Here, another nice metaphor for you, that I am sure you can decipher on your own. Long story short, there is need for change in the world.

Coming back to the pandemic, I would like to point out that I understand that people's sanity is dependant on having a walk outside, I am in no way calling out those who responsibly go for a walk in the park - wearing masks and social distancing -, but you cannot help but feel rage when all we need to do is to stay home and THAT proves to be a difficulty for some. Quite frankly, seeing the military taking away people on trucks in Italy into wooden boxes because they ran out of coffins, was more than enough for me to stay hidden in my apartment. How was that not enough for others? And I have no problem calling out those morally corrupt who, after hearing about the death of so many, decided to go with inspiration quotes and fueling people with such smart sayings as "This is no way to live!". It was disgusting. It still is. There is absolutely no way to live when you are dead from a virus, have you thought about that, genius?

If you are unhappy, get a divorce, move out, go to therapy; If you have serious depression, EXTRA get therapy; If you REFUSE to treat yourself, if you decide that your life is not important enough, at least STOP breaking quarantine and endangering the life of others. 

So many kept working, pharmacies, doctors, nurses, grocery stores, teachers, caretakers, and  society, better yet, governments, still have absolutely not learned how to value human life. And it is f*cking upsetting. 

Protests about having hair salons open? Seriously? Tell me how humanity is still worth saving. I'll listen.

Coping Mechanisms

I had good hobbies to take up my time. I mostly made sure I had my weekly post on my blog and that structure helped a lot. I was fortunate, really fortunate, that I was used to working from home and teaching online, and thus the home-office situation fit me perfectly. Of course, it was not ideal to sit here all day, and again, I have a balcony that helped me keep my sanity. 

I had a lot of friends who had it worse, and the people who lost their loved ones to the virus... I just cannot start telling you how sorry I am. If by staying at home I managed to keep safe at least my family, then it was worth it. 

It actually took me one year to get where people were during the first quarantine. Right now, I really feel like I cannot do this anymore. Until now I had other things in my life that occupied my mind, and kept me second guessing myself, I was no stranger to depression, but I was still lucky and I do not want to sound ungrateful about my luck. I am not here preaching to those that were forced to endure in this, but to those that still TODAY refuse to wear masks and dare to call it "just a flu". Think of the incredible hatred against Asian-Americans right now... does this feel like a world you want to live in? 

Sorry, I was going back to the rage part of it, let's stay here. As I said, I was lucky, and part of that was thanks to the energy I could put into reading, gaming, writing, and teaching, that then helped me charge my battery and pass my exam as well as be there for my family when they needed me. Most people were drained, and that is understandable. I also noticed that my need for humans around decreased to a point where I enjoy my own company far more than crowds. My social skills turned out to be muscles, all limp without exercise. And my craving for companionship is at an all time high, as I sit here and abide by the rules despite seeing more and more people breaking them and pushing off the end of this horrible pandemic.

And on top of everything, I just have to remind myself that these were not normal times. I don't care if some genius people invented or wrote great things during pandemics in the history of mankind. I am not a genius, I am not a great man. And even if I did have a muse appear in front of me, I would not flaunt my work, knowing all too well have most suffered during this time. 

The Future

I am sitting and waiting for my vaccine, having a horrible fear of needles and still knowing that vaccines are what save lives. We might go back to the rage here, but people still being against vaccines at this point in time just makes me want to scream into a pillow. You cannot try and go back to the way things were without change, compromise, and not having learned anything. I know many will, as they are represented by politicians who preach A and then do B. Too many idiots will survive, I know.

But I must endure. We all must. Good people will prevail. We will mourn those we lost. We will thank the tireless work of those who did not have a quarantine when all others did. I personally will not forget the front-line workers and teachers who worked tirelessly. So many put others ahead of themselves and they need our appreciation and help more than anyone else after these time pass. I am always thankful for all my students, who come to class every Friday, poor creatures who had to endure graduation exams and the beginning of university or scholarships from their living rooms behind a computer. You guys kept me from going insane!

I have plans, bucket lists, travel lists, movie lists, book lists, and so on... I crave music that I can listen to while on public transport, I look forward to gas stations. Let me tell you that the best part of travelling IS gas station, and I miss overpriced bad coffee. More first world problems, I know. But this is where I stand and I will be the good student that I have always been until this is officially over.

Do you have something you really want to do after all of this is over?

Share it with me in the comment section!

Wash your paws, keep safe, and get a vaccine!