Tag Archives: 2019

Was “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” (2019) really so bad?

I rather liked it.

Yes, there were obvious script problems. This movie isn’t high art. And I’m generally a lot happier following adult super-powered characters than a bunch of saccharine, earnest teen do-gooders.

But Fox’s “X-Men” universe has always been edgier, weirder, meaner and less predictable than the more mainstream Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think of it as the MCU’s rebellious punk rocker cousin. That difference raises the tension and consequently holds my interest better. I’m one of those rare people who DOESN’T want this universe folded into Disney’s more family-friendly, relentlessly optimistic blockbusters. I don’t want Blade to be part of the MCU either, and I think Deadpool is fine right where he is. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.)

James McAvoy was awesome. Portraying Charles Xavier as fallible was a hell of a lot more interesting for me than yet another iteration of Sir Perfect Stewart. And I’ll always love seeing Michael Fassbender in the role of Magneto. He commands the screen every moment he’s on it.

The action and the special effects were just terrific, and the fight choreography was especially damned sweet. I was cheering during the climactic battle on the moving train.

My favorable X-Bias might be a factor here, but I’d rate this movie an 8 out of 10 for being a trippy, violent, guilty pleasure.

 

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“Say hello to my little friend.”

This handemade leather-bound volume is about the length of my forefinger; it was an especially cool Christmas present from a writer friend of mine.  She picked it up for me at a Renaissance Faire.  She told me I could write all my “secret thoughts” here.  (I’ve got a lot of ’em.)

I personally like to think that it looks like something out of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” universe, like maybe the place where Roland inscribes clues about his quest.  (I know he doesn’t need to search for clues in any of the books, but still.)  Or maybe it’s a convenient pocket-tome for the vengeance-driven Arya Stark from “Game of Thrones” to keep her “list.”

I haven’t yet decided precisely what I will record here.  I quite love it, though.  It’s sitting on my desk as a reminder for me to write.  (You know what would fit perfectly on a single page?  All the progress I’ve made on my novel in the past six months.  Maybe I’ll start with that.)

 

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A few quick words on “Fractured” (2019)

“Fractured” (2019) is essentially a “Twilight Zone” episode presented as a feature-length film.  Like many movies of this type, it would be better suited to a 40-minute television script; it takes too long here to reach its denouement.  It suffers just a little because of that.

That isn’t to say it’s a bad film — it was pretty well executed, despite its unnecessary length, and the final minutes had me squirming.  It certainly held my interest, and I’d rate it a 7 out of 10.

Brad Anderson’s directing was quite good — this is a well visualized psychological horror film that capably builds tension with its unsettling angles and strange lighting.  Sam Worthington does very well in his lead role as a man who has his family admitted to a hospital emergency room, only to see them vanish altogether.  He’s upstaged just a bit by two actors in small supporting roles — the priceless Stephen Tobolowsky and the superb Adjoa Andoh as doctors at the mysterious hospital.

 

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A review of Season 4 of “The Man in the High Castle” (2019)

The fourth and final season of “The Man in the High Castle” (2019) ended the show pretty strongly — I’d rate it an 8 out of 10 for concluding the dystopian science fiction epic just when its ambitious storytelling started getting too unwieldy.

I won’t lie to you … I loved the show, and was the sort of fan that exhorted all of my friends to watch it — but even I have to admit that there were some general narrative failures.  This show tackled nothing less than multiple, detailed parallel universes — each with its own history and analogous characters.  (It is an Axis Powers’ World War II victory that sets the stage for the story’s initial, “prime” universe.)  That’s a lot to tackle, and “The Man in the High Castle” didn’t always follow through.  (It didn’t help that there was a seeming myriad of subplots and character arcs fleshing out its prime universe alone — and that some of Season 4’s story setups seemed redundant with those of prior seasons.)

By the show’s end, there were major plot threads that were left dangling — including key questions about the show’s basic plot elements.  I wouldn’t blame many longtime fans for feeling frustrated at the overall story’s insufficient exposition — and this last season’s deliberately vague, befuddling final moments.

But “The Man in the High Castle” was still simply too good to dislike.  What the show does well, it tends to do very well — especially its grand, sweeping, Wagnerian science fiction world-building.  I’ll bet you’ll never see another what-if-the-Nazis-won story as good as this one.  With everything from its panoramic backdrops to its costuming to its incidental dialogue, “The Man in the High Castle” tackles its sprawling milieu with zeal, style and impressive detail.  You can tell that it was a labor of love for the screenwriters to bring Philip K. Dick’s dangerous multiverse to the screen.

Its cast includes performers that absolutely shine — most notably Rufus Sewell as the premier American Nazi, John Smith, but also Alexa Davalos, Chelah Hordal, Joel de la Fuente and Rick Worthy.   For me, Sewell often made the show; his role here seems like one he was born for.

Despite its admittedly significant flaws, Season 4 was still a great watch.

 

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Happy Holidays, Guys.

I’m not sure why so many turn-of-the-century Christmas cards feature pig-powered elf transportation, but you’d be surprised.  It must be a Norwegian thing — in the same manner as their contemporaneous Americans had a predilection for frogs.  (Hey, it could be weirder, right?  Norway’s cards could features cadres of confused elves running a barber shop for pigs.)

Whatever.  Drive safe and be merry.  If you’re traveling far to see friends or family, remember to gas up your pigs.

 

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Jenny Nystrøm, circa 1895.