HBO. “Character poster” portraying Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe.
HBO. “Character poster” portraying Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe.
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.
I’d bitch about having to wash the cup, if I wasn’t already at the sink 20 times a day washing my hands to avoid a potentially fatal contagion anyway.
THIS IS NOT THE FUTURE WESTWORLD PROMISED US. It contains 100 percent less Dom Dolores Dangerbot and 100 percent more stinkbug-on-my-coffee-cup.
WE GOT ROBBED.
So I just saw an eagle. I believe it’s only the second one that I’ve seen in my life. (I went through an embarrassing phase upon arriving in Virginia in which I thought all those vultures were eagles, but I got over that.)
It looked truly enormous, even from a distance — much larger, I think, than the eagles I’ve seen in Youtube videos; I’m not sure what the story there is.
This comes a day after a veritably massive heron took me off guard, too. (It was like a pterodactyl. It buzzed me like Maverick buzzes the tower in Top Gun.)
I keep trying to get pictures for you guys; I’d love to run photos here. But I’m always too clumsy in grabbing, pointing and shoot my camera. (I need to practice drawing and shooting really quickly, like maybe one of those Westworld robots.)
After my vain attempt to get a shot of tonight’s eagle, it occurred to me that if I knew where it nested, I could at least keep my eye out. So started eyeballing the treelines in my neighborhood. I might have looked funny, because I had to squint, because my eyes aren’t what they used to be, and I’ve been told that I look “grudgy” when I squint, like I’m “looking for revenge or something.” So I probably look like a lunatic walking around now, vengefully squinting upward, like a dude just waiting for the Martians to attack again so he can finally fight back.
My neighbors think I’m weird enough. I can tell by the questions they ask me.
I’ll keep you guys posted.
Today’s Throwback Thursday is something that I don’t actually remember — the trailer for 1973’s “Westworld” was a bit before my time. But this was too good not to share. (I’ve been on a weird “Westworld” kick lately — probably because I recently happened across this quite promising trailer for the brilliant HBO remake’s third season.)
It’s funny seeing the same plot setup and motifs for the campy-looking original film (which was, surprisingly, written and directed by Michael Crichton). I must say that Yul Brynner looks like he made a pretty decent bad guy, though.
“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.
As if I weren’t eager enough for “Westworld’s” return on April 22, Sunday’s ad during the Super Bowl was high art. That music you hear is Kanye West’s “Runaway,” given “Westworld’s” trademark piano treatment.
I actually don’t care much for the longer trailer that follows it, which I now know was released previously. It feels disconnected, and that song is positively grating.
My friend in Houston took this shot for me. She said she knew I’d like it.
C’mon — 50’s-era robot designs are so much more fun than the modern “Westworld” variations. Well … I suppose that depends on what you’re into.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017) isn’t a bad movie. To the contrary, it’s a very good one — I would even rate it a 9 out of 10, if a little reluctantly.
The action, humor, surprises and special effects are all top-notch; it’s got a slew of fun Easter eggs and great continuity within the Marvel Cinematic Universe; and Michael Keaton hits it out of the park as the story’s villain. (As Ed Harris did recently with HBO’s “Westworld,” the sublimely likable Keaton really surprised me with how he could become so intimidating.) Furthermore, the screenwriters wisely omit another redundant re-telling of the web-slinger’s origin. (Even a die-hard fan like me is sick of seeing or reading about it.)
I think your enjoyment of this movie might vary according to what you want Spider-Man to be. This isn’t a movie in which Peter Parker or his alter ego stand out as his own man (despite its plot resolution’s heavy-handed efforts to tell us that). I submit that it’s fairly undistinguished as a standalone superhero film — it feels like an ancillary, companion film to the “Avengers” movies, including last year’s de facto installment, “Captain America: Civil War.” Indeed, fan-favorite Tony Stark is “Spider-Man: Homecoming’s” most significant supporting character — far more than any of the many friends, family, love interests or villains that have long inhabited the iconic hero’s mythos. Peter’s primary motivation throughout the movie is his desire to become an Avenger, like a normal kid would aspire to the varsity football team. Many of his powers stem from a ultra-high-tech costume designed and given to him by Iron Man; it even has an advanced A.I. that is a femme fatale equivalent of J.A.R.V.I.S. (Fun fact: that alluring voice belongs to none other than the alluring Jennifer Connelly. The actress is the wife of Paul Bettany, who is the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. and then the actor portraying The Vision. And Connelly herself played the love interest of 1991’s mostly forgotten “The Rocketeer,” a World War II-era hero with the a similar character concept to Iron Man.)
I was a big fan of Spider-Man in the 1990’s, and, believe me, the ol’ web-head did just fine with his own powers, intelligence and character — and without any sort of “internship” with Iron Man, either metaphorically or otherwise. He was also a far more popular character with readers. I was buying comics regularly between 1991 and 1996 — while Spider-Man books and merchandise were everywhere, I don’t think I ever remember seeing an “Iron Man” comic on the racks at my local comic shop. I kept thinking inwardly of Spider-Man during this movie as “Iron Man Jr.,” and, for me, that wasn’t a good thing.
I also found myself musing during the film that this felt like “Spider-Man Lite.” While “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was fun, it doesn’t have the depth, character development or gravitas of the Sam Raimi trilogy. (Yes, I even liked the third one, despite its bizarre flaws.) I know that critics are praising the movie’s lighter tone, and I realize the need to avoid a simple rehash of the Raimi films. (Nobody would want that; we can rightfully expect more from the excellent MCU.) I actually prefer the Raimi films, though. While Tom Holland might be the better Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire was a strange casting choice), the Raimi movies were more … heartfelt. They were an earnest exploration of the Spider-Man of the comics, and they felt … truer. “Homecoming,” in contrast, is yet another cool installment in the “Avengers” series. “Spider Man 2” came out 13 years ago, and I can still remember how that movie made me feel — not to mention how its sheer quality vindicated “comic book movies” like no other film before it. This new movie will not be memorable that way.
Anyway, although my criticisms above are obviously lengthy, please know that this is only because I love the source material so much — and we comic book fans have a tendency to analyze. I certainly enjoyed the movie, and I’d cheerfully recommend it. (Note my rating.) The MCU continues to entertain with quality movies; its consistency, even with its expanding group of ongoing Netflix series, is kind of astonishing.
Go see this. You’ll have fun.