I don’t really know how I feel about the works of director James Cameron. I like a good number of his films, but some of this other movies just don’t do it for me. I felt that the direction taken by Rambo: First Blood Part II didn’t really do the original any justice, but that’s less on Cameron’s directing and more on Stallone’s writing. As a huge fan of Ridley Scott’s original Alien film, and its claustrophobic horror setting, I dislike Cameron’s over the top action take on the series with the fan-favorite sequel, Aliens. The Abyss is interesting and well shot, albeit rather preachy at the end. True Lies was fun, but Titanic was pretty dull, and Avatar may have been impressive in IMAX 3D, but standing on its own as a story, it’s pretty weak.
Some time ago, I read the John Le Carre novel The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. Le Carre’s sober, unromantic description of espionage during the cold war was very gripping and powerful. There are no fantastic gadgets, or cat stroking villains plotting world domination, just ordinary fallible people working two sides of a complex and grim international conflict. His novels make for fascinating and engrossing reading and he was very successful in his day, but something that stood out to me about this book and the rest of Le Carre’s works was how very rare it seems to be that we see a down to earth approach to spy stories. I suppose that, for as interesting as the real world of spies is, it is far too complex and depressingly serious for broad general appeal. Sometimes you just want to see the good guy fool absurdly evil bad guys. People long for the thrill of a sudden gunfight or a final act twist. That may be why one of the most enduring franchises in media history is Ian Flemming’s James Bond.
Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. And since we’ve no place to go, let’s watch the hands down greatest Christmas movie of all time, Die Hard! Yes, it’s an action movie, and no, it doesn’t talk about the true meaning of Christmas, but it is about getting together with your loved ones and the importance of family, be it how much you love your wife, whose being held hostage by a murderer, or the bond between a terrorist and his brother whose neck you broke. It’s set on Christmas eve, festive decorations and trees abound, and it ends with Vaughn Monroe singing Let It Snow. That’s good enough for me to pop this classic on every December.
There is a growing crowd of super heroes in comics, video games, and movies. Between the classic DC and Marvel heroes and the heroes of independent press comics like Dark Horse and Image comics, there’s a hero, anti-hero, or villain for everyone. Personally, I’ve never had any one favorite hero, but I’d always been partial to Spider-Man and Batman. However, a new hero fell into my sights after a trip to the library and the discovery of a video game that never really existed.
Tim Burton’s Batman is one of my favorite superhero movies. True, it is Burton’s least stylized film, but it had a great atmosphere, fantastic score from Danny Elfman, and great acting from Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. It really kicked off modern superhero movies (for better or worse) in the 90s, and is a much-loved movie. The sequel on the other hand was a little more controversial.
There was a strange period in the 90s where Hollywood was making film adaptations of TV shows from the 60s and 70s. It may just be that the 90s was a peak time of nostalgia for people who grew up watching them, but it was an unusual trend. There was The Fugitive and The Beverly Hillbillies in 1993 and Lost In Space and The Avengers in 1998. This trend continued into the early 2000s as well with movies like The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle in 2000 and I Spy in 2002. Not many of these saw wide-spread success even with name recognition and a degree of nostalgia. But one film managed to become a franchise almost forty years after its original television run, 1996’s Mission: Impossible.
Notice: Apologies for the delay in reviews this last month. Things should be moving at a steady pace once again with weekly Saturday reviews.
A book cover, movie poster, or game box art can say a lot about what you can expect from a product. It can also say absolutely nothing at all. While the old adage is true, you can’t judge a book by its cover, that won’t stop some covers from having an impact. A book cover can affect how you imagine the world described within, a movie poster can set your expectations for what you’re about to see, and sometimes a game’s box art can leave you utterly dumbfounded. Enter 1992’s The Lawnmower Man.