“IT” floats downhill

2017 it posterThe latest adaptation of Stephen King’s “IT” manages to do an interesting thing. It draws on different aspects of the novel than the miniseries that came before, making it seem like a more faithful adaptation that separates itself from its predecessor, but it also has notes of familiarity that fans of both the book and the miniseries can enjoy.

Unfortunately, it’s not a great movie. It’s not a bad movie, either! The story shuffles along from point A to B as Pennywise the Dancing Clown terrorizes and murders the children of Derry, Maine. Its scares are good and its humorous moments worth some laughs, and the the virtues of moving the setting from the 1950s to the ‘80s — and being an R-rated 2017 film rather than a prime time 1992 TV miniseries — add to the experience.

It’s just missing a lot of heart.

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2017 Movie Challenge – Atlantis: The Lost Empire

atlantis posterFor my third entry in the 2017 Movie Challenge, I decided to fulfill #12, “Second Childhood – an animated movie you didn’t watch as a child,” with Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001).

It’s obvious this movie was made right about the time Disney was abandoning the 2D animation that sustained it for so long. While some scenes were very impressive, in general, the art of Atlantis had more in common with a Saturday morning cartoon than the house that gave us The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Bambi. That combined with a few stolen faces from other properties led to some major distractions that Atlantis couldn’t really afford.

It’s not a bad movie, by any means. It covers a lot of ground in its 90-minute runtime, from history to theology, mysticism and of course good, old-fashioned greed, but it was a difficult movie to really get into. The first 20 minutes felt like an hour — and not in a good way — as Michael J. Fox’s nerdy linguist Milo Thatch struggles to gain respect first from his superiors at the museum where he works in the boiler room and then from the crew of people on an expedition led by James Garner’s Gen. Roarke to find the lost city of Atlantis.

But once the expedition got underway, the film really picked up, fueled mostly on the strength of its cast of side characters. Milo was a fun character that Fox imbued with plenty of personality, but the others — like Audrey Ramirez, the teenage engineer; Vinny, the demolitions expert with a flowery past; Sweet, the kindhearted muscle-man of a medic; and the ever-colorful chef Cookie voiced by Jim Varney in his last role before his death — were colorful additions bursting with possibility but given limited opportunity to shine.

And while many adults may be irritated by what is ultimately another story of a white man leading the charge to save the native people of Atlantis with his plucky band of minority sidekicks, at its heart, Atlantis is still a cartoon action-adventure meant for kids but with a tremendous cast that most people can enjoy if they’re able to overlook the rough spots.

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Luke Skywalker: Not the hope you’re looking for

As I was tweeting the link to my MacGyver post today, I stumbled across this bit of truth:

I don’t know if it was just because Mark Hamill’s role was abysmally small in The Force Awakens, but it took this tweet for it to really hit home for me that in a few short months, Luke Skywalker will really be back.

And as I looked at the above image, I immediately got the urge to compare it to another.

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Coulda been Star Wars, but instead: Jaws 4

I intended to spend my Wednesday FINALLY finishing the Star Wars: A New Hope novelization so I could have that post ready today, May the Fourth. But then I learned my job’s going away next month, and even though I have really mixed feelings on this book, I love Star Wars as a franchise and didn’t want to associate with a day of bad news.

So instead, I went home and watched Jaws: The Revenge, which I’ve had out from Netflix since August of 2016. I’d apologize to the other would-be renters, but in all honesty, you’re probably few and most people would say I’ve done you a favor.

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I blame Christian Slater; I really do.

When I was 12, I stumbled across the last 30 minutes or so of a movie on TV. I didn’t know what it was, or even really what it was about, I just knew that Christian Slater was skateboarding through windows, leaping out of cars to bypass a traffic jam and hanging on to the back of a sports car speeding down the highway to save a girl while his buddies followed in a Pizza Hut pickup driven by Tony Hawk.

gleaming the cubeThat movie turned out to be Gleaming the Cube, a 1989 film about Brian (Slater), a skateboarder who, while trying to find a reason for his brother Vinh’s death, learns Vinh (Art Chudabala) had uncovered a weapons smuggling ring being run out of a Vietnam aid organization.

And I loved every bit of it. There was a lot of good drama between Brian and his dad that’s my jam now and might go along way to explaining my love for family dynamics in fiction, but 12-year-old me was mostly all about the skateboarding.  The X Games premiered a year later, and that’s when I realized I’d fallen hard for the sport.

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Let’s Talk (spoilers) About: Logan!

If you haven’t seen Logan yet, check out this spoiler-free review. But don’t read this. Because this is the post for talking about all the specific things we liked, the things we didn’t like, and — most importantly — the things that made us feel all the things.

In other words, spoilers EVERYWHERE.

logan laura
Laura (Dafne Keen) and Logan (Hugh Jackman) in “Logan.”

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I really liked ‘Logan,’ but probably not for the reason you think

“Logan” earns its R rating.

It’s violent to a degree that isn’t just speeding down the highway of what viewers have come to expect from the franchise — it could have gotten off a few exits back and still been coarse enough to merit the rating that also allows for all the F-bombs it drops. It’s excessive to the point of being distracting in places, and the film itself has several moments that are nothing short of predictable.

And yet, for all of that and for all the effort that the paper-thin villains went through trying to manufacture mutants to be the perfect killing machines, there’s an undeniable humanity to “Logan” that goes far beyond anything I could have ever hoped for.

logan

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