On My Shelves: Rogue One

I was at first unsure as to whether I would see this movie, as I am – in general – unenthusiastic about prequels, and I knew this one would be dark (at least for a Star Wars movie). But for the last day of winter vacation I took the whole family to the movies, and this is the one we chose. Capsule Summary: Rogue One tells the story of the events that lead up to the original Star Wars – the people and actions that eventually put the Death Star plans in the hands of Princess Leia Organa. This is a classic war story set in the Star Wars [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University

I've watched a lot of Pixar's output over the years, and never been disappointed, but for various reasons I'd missed both of these when they came out; Monsters, Inc. because of budget and timing constraints (and I never had a copy around the house to watch when I was at leisure later), and Monsters University because, well, it was a follow-on and I didn't see a point in watching it without having watched the first one. However, I've finally been able to watch them, courtesy of my friend Eric Palmer, and thus can review them! Both films [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Doctor Strange

Well, technically "soon to be on my shelves" since the movie hasn't been released to video yet!      Capsule summary: A near-perfect adaptation of the origin of Doctor Strange, updated without losing what made it work in the first place. Excellent acting, fine pacing, and clever scripting make this one of the better Marvel offerings, with only a few relatively minor flaws marring what is otherwise a stellar work. Cumberbatch was made to play Doctor Strange, continuing an amazing streak of beautiful casting decisions by Marvel. I look forward [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Captain America: Civil War

  Shortest review: Damn good Marvel movie. If you've liked the other Marvel movies, this is one of the best.   Still short, no spoilers: While drawing basic inspiration from the comic-book "Civil War" storyline, this movie makes the conflict more personal for the characters, in all directions. As others have noted, while it's titled "Captain America", to a great extent this is the third Avengers movie, picking up a relatively short time after "Age of Ultron". The trailers haven't been too deceptive, though as usual there's a [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Superheroes Who Should Not Be Dark

  The recent release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has created a huge amount of controversy, a large amount of it centering on the almost unrelentingly grim imagery of the movie, and most specifically on the depiction of Superman. Throughout my life, there have been several times in which people dealing with the superheroic have decided – in various media – that a superhero can't be done for a modern audience and retain the four-color brightness of their origins. The arguments vary but tend to boil down to a perceived, [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Disney’s Aladdin

The Disney Corporation has produced many animated films over the years, ranging from the old classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs  (wow, not available?) to newer films like The Black Cauldron, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and many others, some very good, some… not so good.   One of my favorites of all is Aladdin.   The basic plot of this Disney version of the old classic is probably very well known. Street-rat Aladdin (with his sidekick monkey Abu) encounters the runaway princess Jasmine and has a few [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: The Shadow

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"      In 1930, Street and Smith's Detective Story Hour began featuring a sinister-sounding narrator who identified himself only as "The Shadow". Somewhat to the publisher's surprise, The Shadow was so distinctive that listeners started asking for "The Shadow" magazine rather than "Detective Story". Not being foolish, they immediately began publication of such a magazine, featuring a fleshed-out version of the character who had previously been little more than a voice with an [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the First Kind: A UFO is seen at close range. Close Encounters of the Second Kind: Physical evidence of visitation Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Unknown entities from the UFO are sighted   I have often said that in my view, Stephen Spielberg produced two masterpieces. One of them, reviewed earlier, is Jaws. The other is Close Encounters of the Third Kind. CE3K, as it is known, is a classic SF story: it takes one strange, out-there premise and then builds a story on it. For CE3K, the premise is: what [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Ghostbusters

The year was 1984, Orwell's year, the year that the Apple Mac first burst onto the scene, also the year I finished graduating from Hudson Valley Community College and moved on to SUNYA to study psychology. It was also the year of the Terminator, of the Karate Kid, and the original Nightmare on Elm Street.   And it was the year that Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Akroyd, and Sigourney Weaver told us who we're gonna call.   Ghostbusters begins with a brilliantly atmospheric stage setting, with the New York City Library [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: JAWS

  A long time ago – forty years ago, to be exact – summer was considered the "dead time" for movies. It was assumed that most people wouldn't go to movie theaters in the summer, preferring to pursue other activities. But in 1975, that changed, and the "summer blockbuster" was born, with the release of one of Stephen Spielberg's true masterpieces: Amazon instant Video link for Jaws. Jaws was also the very first movie I ever saw by myself in the theater. No one else in my family was interested in it, so I went to see it on my own… and [ Continue reading... ]