Tag Archives: HBO

Throwback Thursday: “The Lone Ranger” (1949 -1957)!

No, I obviously don’t remember “The Lone Ranger” during its initial run between 1949 and 1957.  (At least I hope that’s obvious — I’m a couple of full decades younger than that.)  But I absolutely do remember this show’s reruns from when I was a baby … maybe around 1976, if I had to guess?  I would have been about four years old.   (I was five when my family moved out of that house in Queens, New York, to rural Long Island.)

I know that people who claim early childhood memories are often viewed with skepticism — I get it.  (And I think many of us are more prone to confabulation than we’d like to admit.)  But I’ve actually got a few memories from when I was a toddler — and this is one of them.

I can remember my Dad putting “The Lone Ranger” on in the tiny … den or living room or whatever, to the left of our house’s front door and hallway.  You see the part in the intro below where the horse rears up at the .31 mark — and again at the 1:53 mark?  That was a verrrrrry big deal to me as a tot.

Go ahead, tell me I’m nuts.  I can take it.  You and I live in an age in which conspiracy theories have gone completely mainstream.  If I share something online that seems implausible to others, I figure I’m in a lot of company.

Anyway, I pretty much forgot about The Lone Ranger after that.  There was a 1981 television movie, “The Legend of the Lone Ranger,” that was remarkably well done — especially for a TV movie at the time.  I remember being pretty impressed with that — its plot-driving scene where the good guys get fatally ambushed was unexpectedly dour.

But I never bothered with the infamous 2013 film.  I occasionally enjoy movies that everybody else hates — something that earns me a lot of ribbing on Facebook — so maybe I should give it a shot.  Hell, the trailer makes it look decent.  And HBO’s “Westworld” has really whetted my appetite for westerns … which is weird, because “Westworld” is decidedly NOT a western — that’s sort of the point of its central plot device.  But still.

 

A short review of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019)

It’s true what they say about “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019) — its script is almost completely brainless.  It’s got about as much depth as the old “G.I. Joe” cartoon (1983-1986) that played after school when we were kids.

But I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t enjoy this.  And I’m sure you know why — the big-budget, big-MONSTER special effects.  They were spectacular — and sometimes they approached being unexpectedly beautiful.  (It’s hard to explain here, but our eyes are treated to more than skyscraper-tall brawls between “titans.”  We get a light show too — thanks to some confusing, thinly scripted, but nonetheless dazzling energy-based monster powers.  It was really damned good.)

Add to this a generally excellent cast, and you might be able to forgive the screenplay for insulting your intelligence.  I know that most people would name Ken Watanabe as the actor who truly classes up the joint.  And there’s plenty of truth to that, but I myself would name Charles Dance as the movie’s biggest standout.  The man’s craft is goddam Shakespearean, and I think he’s equal of the likes of Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen.  And I’d like to think that his throwaway line, “Long live the King,” was at least partly a fan-service reference to what I’m guessing is his best known role — Tywin Lannister on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” (2011-2019).

Based on my own enjoyment, I’d rate this movie an 8 out of 10 — with the caveat that I’m a kid at heart when it comes to giant monsters.  If you’re the same way, then “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” might just become a guilty pleasure that you return to more than once.

 

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A short review of “Child’s Play” (2019)

“Child’s Play” (2019) actually surprised me by being a little more ambitious and well rounded than the typical reboot of an 80’s slasher franchise.  Screenwriter Tyler Burton Smith tries to present audiences with a fresh, updated horror film with funny, engaging, likable characters.  And he mostly succeeds — it helps that the cast is roundly quite good in their roles.  (The voice of Chucky is none other than Mark Hamill.)  There is some discomfiting dark humor here, too, that makes for some great, guilty fun.

But this “Child’s Play” is doomed to suffer in comparison to the 1988 original.  The very first “Child’s Play” was a particularly scary film, even if its sequels were much less so; I remember people screaming in the theater when I saw it with my high school friends.  This new movie doesn’t come close to matching it in that manner.

Smith’s update abandons the admittedly campy premise of the original, in which a serial killer employs voodoo to transfer his soul into an interactive doll.  Smith gives us something that is more plausible — a malfunctioning A.I. that turns homicidal partly because its programming leads it to.  His take is interesting … Chucky is even a little sympathetic at first — he’s a childlike, vaguely cute robot, and his mischievous young owner is at least partly responsible for his early, less frightening transgressions.

This all works on a certain level.  It’s smarter than its 80’s source material.  It might have been gold if it had been fleshed out by a science fiction screenwriting master like Charlie Brooker, of “Black Mirror” fame.  Or, better yet, why not the writers for HBO’s brilliant “Westworld,” which proceeds from essentially the same basic story concept?

Alas, we can’t have our cake and eat it too, at least in this case.  The new Chucky is a more intelligent story concept but a less menacing bogeyman.  He just can’t hold a candle to the voodoo-infused, sociopathic demon-doll voiced by the legendary Brad Dourif so long ago.  The new “Child’s Play” isn’t quite scary enough for our expectations, and that’s a serious criticism for a horror movie.

All things considered, I’d rate this a 7 out of 10.

 

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