I’m sitting here learning more about running internet ads and watching Avengers: Endgame. Over the course of the last few weeks Vera and I recently watched the three movies leading up to Zach Snyder’s upcoming Justice League remake. (Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad and Joss Whedon’s 2017 Justice League).
I’m sitting here thinking about the differences between these two powerhouse markets. Trying to figure out why Marvel seems to have nailed down a fool proof method of storytelling while DC seems to abound in foolishness and falling short.
CAP just picked up mjolnir!
Sorry didn’t mean to get off topic. The biggest difference that I’ve noticed is characterization. Warner Bros. and DC seem to want to take as many shortcuts as possible to create a world that feels fleshed out and real. Well as real as a world with superheroes can feel. They haven’t taken chances that are risky and invested in them whether they pay off or not, instead choosing to play it safe and predictable with cookie cutter story and cardboard cutout characters and if Marvel is an example of anything it is that, taking chances. With more hits than misses to date.
It goes to say for any story, but gives us characters we can relate to (even if they are aliens from another planet). Give them flesh and blood and motivations and failures. Man of Steel is a well made and focused movie, and there are elements of Batman v Superman that I think work but nothing in the DCEU world gives me goose bumps as much as Captain American finally saying Avengers Assemble. So for now I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Zach Snyder can do recreating a story that’s already been told. But lets take care to flesh out our characters in as many films that its going to take to tell the story to its fullest potential.
Jon Favreau has said in an interview that there are 1490 rendered shots using CGI in his 2019 remake of the Lion King. He also added one live shot actually filmed in Africa to see if anyone could tell the difference. It is actually the first shot of the movie that begins the Circle of Life. WOW! What a visual masterpiece.
So a friend of mine asked me to pen my thoughts on a familiar classic called Independence Day starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, and Jeff Goldblum. This movie as well as its sequel were written and directed by Roland Emmerich, it was his original story. The first movie came out in 1996, it is rated PG-13 and has a 145 minute run time. This and so many movies like it in the mid to late ’90s are a special kind of movie. Their action is top-notch for their time, the caliber of actors they attracted were best in their class and the comedic timing is so on point and so on the nose that they can’t be taken too seriously. It cannot be denied that this movie is hilariously entertaining, and having not seen it, I wanted to watch the sequel and see if that magic in a bottle could be recreated. Independence Day: Resurgence came out in 2016 and is also rated PG-13 and it has a 120 minute run time. It has a cast of mixed faces, new characters and old favorites. The likes of whom are Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe as well, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Judd Hirsch reprise their respected roles. One of the main differences I noticed about this movie upfront before the viewing was that Roland Emmerich was not the only one to write this newer iteration, and it wasn’t just one or two, but five different writers, which is noticeable. So here is my review of not one but two Independence Day films. Do they hold up to our current day? Should they be remembered?
The first film takes place in 1996 and is the story of an alien invasion that intends on destroying the earth and everyone on it. It takes the actions of a ragtag group to save the human race from extinction. The second movie takes place 20 years after the first and is set in a world where since the aliens were defeated in the first movie and left technology behind on earth, mankind advanced quickly and united together as one people. But were unprepared for the return of those same aliens looking for revenge. These stories are basic, which is good for them. It leaves time for us to know more about the characters in them. One of which does a better job than the other.
Let me quickly give a review for the first, then I’ll break down the second. I must admit that it has been quite a while since I have seen that first film. Probably over a year. Even though I revisit that speech every Fourth of July! “We will not go quietly into the night, we will” sorry I get distracted every time I think about it. As I shared off the top the mix of humor and action is in perfect balance in this movie, they seem to know right when to infuse character quirks and clever dialogue. It seems like all these actors are in some way just playing themselves in this movie which I think is awesome. The only thing that isn’t balanced as well, is the more dramatic moments that are less believable. But the chemistry between cast members makes up for those areas that lack emotion. I.E. the death of the president’s wife. I must say that watching it again this time I did not enjoy it as much as I have in the past. There are a lot of characters in this movie and it’s jumping around so much that we don’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with some of the more interesting ones. It also makes the first half of the film drag some. There isn’t as much Will Smith in this as I thought I remembered. Maybe that’s because it was marketed as a Will Smith movie and the height of Will Smith entertainment. So the disparity because of lack of time is sad, but in turn that is why all the scenes where our characters are together interacting with each other are the best moments in the movie. A good example is Randy Quaid’s character, and for the first half of the movie I wished they would have just taken some of that out, it wasn’t until his interaction at the end that made that payoff worth the first half of the movie. Whereas almost the entire movie we had Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch together and their interactions propelled the story. All in all this was a fun movie to revisit and will always have a special place in my heart because of when it was released and growing up watching it. It is a perfect movie for its time, but not to be compared with movies that have come out in the last 10 years.
Independence Day 2, on the other hand, is a completely different story, well that’s kind of a pun actually, this movie is a beat for beat retread of the first story. But anyways this movie picks up 20 years after the last. Literally taking place in 2016. It brings us old characters and new ones (the children of all our main characters). All of whom became important people in the new post alien invasion world. Our new characters are skin deep and some are carbon copies of characters who died in the previous film. There is a character in this movie that is supposed to be the reincarnated version of Harry Connick Jr.’s character in the first movie. Only he’s far more annoying than Harry was, and our returning cast of characters that we loved from the first, minus Will Smith because he was to busy to do this movie. Lets be honest he could smell how bad this script was before reading a page, not like that’s stopped him before though, After Earth.
Captain Steven Hiller’s son becomes an incredible pilot. President Whitmore’s daughter becomes a presidential aid and Jeff Goldblum becomes uninteresting. Something about this late 2000’s era of action films really substitute creativity for lazy writing thinking that it’s giving us new and cool ideas. I’m talking to you Jurassic World. All the new characters have nothing truly interesting to say and our old friends seemed to have regressed instead of lived lives between the last movie and this one, and if they had lived lives why do the writers choose not to tell us about it. A big question I have from this movie is about Margaret Colin’s character, where is she? Why has David completely moved on from her and interested in other women when in the first movie they go out of their way to express to us that she was the love of his life and he wanted no one else. Just seems outside of his character. And other than that we do not learn anything new about him. The most interesting people in this movie were Brent Spiner because they give us back story that we didn’t know in the previous movie and Liam Hemsworth, even though as I said, his character wasn’t given any depth. This screenplay thinks that all the viewers want to see is sci-fi action. Which was okay, but at the end of the day that is not enough to sustain an intriguing story. They opened up with the speech from the original movie, given by a man that we cared about, Bill Pullman. “We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore” sorry again. It’s such a good speech.
This version follows the beats of the original movie which made it nothing but predictable. Unfortunately the speech given to us by William Fichtner who played someone with zero motivation in this movie, didn’t quite live up. Going back to the point I made off the top, having so many writers on the project it is obvious to see that this movie didn’t know what it wanted to be.
So for the few small areas that Independence Day lacks in makes up for it in all other areas. Still an enjoyable action alien adventure that I will go back to. But its follow up I must say I will not. And unfortunately I paid money to watch it. It is just sad to think about how some of these more recent films are given to us on the premise that we might not be able to understand something deeper than the surface. I would still like to see interesting relate-able character growth even in these fantastical films. So yes REMEMBER THAT MOVIE, but if you can help it don’t waste your time on its lackluster follow-up.
As always thank you guys for reading. Please leave a comment, let me know what I left out. What is your favorite part of that first movie?
“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:17-18
Just a disclaimer of the top. This is not a review in a normal fashion that I’ve done it in the past. It’s more a dive into the story of Rambo and a breakdown of the most recent film. But SPOILERS for Rambo: Last Blood.
This movie is the final film in a five-movie franchise and after watching this newest installment it made me go back and think about and appreciate the original and its follow-ups. It made me remember why I liked the first movie so much and kept me connected to the series all this time. I guess, to be honest upfront I don’t remember two and three that much, I remember what the stories were and how they built on the character of John Rambo, but they are my least favorite to watch.
First blood (1982)
Rambo: First Blood Part 2 (1985)
Rambo 3 (1988)
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
Number one and number four for me showed us the most human side of the character, even if he was the size of a brick house in that 2008 movie. Haha, it is funny to see him get larger as the years go on. But while I watch those movies I buy-in that he is a man who attaches himself deeply to those that he cares about. First Blood especially is one that can bring me to tears by the end.
So going into this one I wasn’t sure what the approach would be, and after watching the trailer I’ll be honest it felt kind of like a money grab with a well-known property that people care about. Even though I believe that Sylvester Stallone wouldn’t do another one of these if he didn’t think that it did something new with the character and didn’t deviate from the type of person that he was. So let us get into it then. Rambo: Last Blood finds John Rambo living what seems to be a peaceful life on his farm that he returned to in the last movie. He is living with an old friend and her granddaughter that he cares for. They are a happy family, but after young Gabriela locates her father who abandoned her and her mother, she feels that she must go to Mexico to find him and confront him. Rambo tells her this is a bad idea and she goes anyway without their knowledge. Once she doesn’t return this leads Rambo on a mission south of the border.
The movie does its work early on to inform us that his days in the military still haunt him and its all he can do to keep these demons at bay. But he is not in the prime of his life anymore so that zeal that he once had is not so easy to come by anymore. He locates Gabriela who has been sold into sex slavery and makes an attempt to rescue her. Which doesn’t end well for him, he is beaten within an inch of his life and left for dead. At this point in the movie, it feels like Taken, not that that is a bad thing necessarily but the plot is very cookie cutter and predictable and if it were not for it being Stallone on screen I probably would have checked out. From here he goes home and recovers and prepares for another attempt at rescuing Gabriela, on that has a plan. Another thing to add here, this movie is brutal. Now if you’ve seen the fourth installment this will not surprise you. But it is a very graphic film, to its demise at times. Not that I cannot deal with a little blood. But Rambo killing a man, cutting his head off and dropping it out the window while driving away. That feels a little out of character for me.
On the second attempt, he threatens to kill many people and does kill many other people, but rescues Gabriela. In a twist, Gabriela dies of a heroin overdose on their way back to the ranch. This pushes John over the edge and he then leaves a message for the bad guys that it was him who stole her back and killed their friends, and since they kept his driver’s license after the beat him the first time we know that the climax of the film is going to take place on his turf, the family farm. From here we get a montage of Rambo setting up elaborate death traps throughout his farm and the tunnels underneath his property. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the tunnels earlier.
Let me pause here and comment on the tunnels, now this is a personal opinion, and feel free to disagree and tell me. But the coolest part of the movie we see at the very beginning. The tunnels were the one thing that I looked forward to the most. And its not a bad sequence him fighting the cartel in the tunnels but they gave a lot away right at the beginning of the film. I feel that it could have benefited the movie had we not seen them but known they were there. So this highly trained spec ops group of cartel drug lords come to his home and pick a fight with John Rambo. I think you know how it ends. In the same form and fashion as the last movie. He lets the demons out and kills a whole lot of people that the audience cares nothing about and enjoys watching him butcher them. The traps are very reminiscent of the once from First Blood but instead of just harming innocent police officers he is mutilating sex traffickers. And it ends with him ripping the main bad guy’s heart out literally and riding off into the sunset.
I enjoyed the movie as much as I could for what it was. It also reminded me of the first movie at times, which I thoroughly enjoyed. But at the end of the day, I don’t think that it added anything new to the character. It is in a lot of ways was just another opportunity to watch Rambo go be Rambo. It continued the plotline that no matter how hard this man tries he just can’t seem to get away from the fight and no matter how hard he tries trouble will always find him. But is it worth the time to watch it to retread the same story arch? I would honestly say no. Go back and watch the first movie, go back and watch John struggle with the man that he is, the weapon that they made him into. Watch the pain in his eyes when he has no choice but to fight back. Sylvester Stallone is a really good actor in the right roles and intriguing to watch on screen. But there are better movies that show us his potential, examples of this are even the newest movies where he reprises his role as Rocky Balboa in Creed one and two. Thank you for reading my rant about this movie. It wasn’t good but it wasn’t bad either I would say that if you are looking for something new that was released recently this will meet the need. Remember That Movie if that is the case, but also remember the ones that came before it to make it possible.
Sebastian Stan plays Bucky Barns, aka the Winter Soldier aka The White Wolf in The Marvel Cinematic Universe but did you know that before auditioning he had no knowledge of marvel comics. And he originally auditioned for the role of Captain America.
Hello everyone, I was just sitting here thinking it was about time my site had a bio section. SO “here we go”(said in a menacing tone) guess that movie. My name is Jesse Keehn, I was born in August of 1990, my parents were very interactive in my life and the lives of my four sisters. So much so that we were homeschooled through high school. To a lot of people that sounds crazy but we enjoyed it. It was at an early age where my father instilled in me a love for Jesus and movies. One of my fondest memories growing up, especially being the only boy in a house full of little women, was getting the opportunities to go to the movies with my dad. Even more than just going and watching a film though, it was the drive home that I enjoyed just as much. Just about the entire 40-minute drive, we would talk about the movie, and not just did you like it or not. But why, why did you like it? What about it didn’t you like? What is the movie telling us, things like that? It made the movie-going experience more than just a two hour waste of time or escape from reality and turned it into an incredible time to take the realities in the film and relate them to our world and our situations. It made it real, even movies about dinosaurs or robots or whatever. I loved and appreciated every time we went and could talk about how a movie would impact our lives. I can still remember where I was the first time I watched Transformers. What seat I was sitting in when Heath Ledger gave us the performance of a lifetime in The Dark Knight. The feelings I got watching Passion of the Christ on the big screen. I remember my feet sticking to the floors of the Laporte Theater, we had to go there when we would go as a family. There were a lot of us, it was cheaper but not one of the nicest establishments. This is still something that my dad and I do to this day and a tradition that I desire to carry on with my children as they grow. When I was 19 I met my wife to be Verarose, she introduced me to a specific genre that I was never really a huge fan of. Growing up my dad and I never really watched horror movies, they can be inappropriate and have a weak story. Sorry to everyone who loves horror movies, but once I started hanging out with my wife’s family it was a genre that they frequented more than any other. And I noticed that there were good movies, like any genre not all movies are good, but not all movies are bad as well. I remember watching The Mist or Saw in her living room with her entire family. By the way, I understand if you do not like The Saw movies but that first film is much deeper than just people being murdered. Ironically after she had our first child she no longer enjoyed horror movies as much as I did, movies like the Conjuring films, Silence of the Lambs. Or the It movies, but those movies have a lot of flaws. Now we have been married for over 10 years and we love to sit and watch movies, we even came up with our review sheets a few years ago which ask specific questions about the movie while we are watching it. Now we have a house full of kids, we enjoy sitting together and I like showing them Marvel or other Disney movies and discussing why these movies impact our lives so greatly. They are pretty insightful kids for being 9 and under. I like playing movie score soundtracks and talking with them about the emotions behind the music and how it hits us in ways that what we see on screen can’t. To go a step further from there the way God designed us to take these mediums in and absorb it. It is a beautiful thing. Throughout my life I can’t help but quote movies all the time, typically getting weird looks from people who don’t know what I’m talking about or chuckles from those who have seen the movie and get the reference. I find it fitting for me to end this in the same fashion. “So in case I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening and goodnight.” and “I love you 3000”.
While filming Avengers: Endgame, Robert Downey Jr. would hide some of his favorite snacks all around the set. The scenes where he is seen eating and offering his costars a taste, those were all improvised.