Saturday, June 24, 2017
"THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL" (1982) Review
I suspect that many fans of the DC Comics character "Batman" and the "Zorro" character would be nonplussed at the idea that a novel written by a Hungary-born aristocrat had served as an inspiration for their creations. Yet, many believe that Baroness Emmuska Orczy de Orczi's 1905 novel, "The Scarlet Pimpernel" provided Western literature with its first "hero with a secret identity", Sir Percy Blakeney aka the Scarlet Pimpernel.
There have been at least nineteen stage, movie or television adaptations of Orczy's novel. Some consider the 1934 movie adaptation with Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon and Raymond Massey as the most definitive adaptation. However, there are others who are more inclined to bestow that honor on the 1982 television adaptation with Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen. I have seen both versions and if I must be honest, I am inclined to agree with those who prefer the 1982 television movie.
"THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL" - namely its 1982 re-incarnation - is based upon the 1905 novel and its 1913 sequel, "Eldorado". Set during the early period of the French Revolution, a masked man and his band of followers rescues French aristocrats from becoming victims of the Reign of Terror under France's new leader, Maximilien de Robespierre. The man behind the Scarlet Pimpernel's mask - or disguises - is a foppish English baronet named Sir Percy Blakeney. For reasons never explained in the movie, Sir Percy has managed to gather a group of upper-class friends to assist him in smuggling French aristocrats out of France and sending them to the safety of England. During a visit to France, Sir Percy meets a young French government aide and the latter's actress sister, Armand and Marguerite St. Just. He eventually befriends the brother and courts the sister.
Sir Percy also becomes aware of Armand's superior and Marguerite's friend, Robespierre's agent Paul Chauvelin. Angered over Marguerite's marriage to Sir Percy, Chauvelin has the Marquis de St. Cyr - an old enemy of Armand's - executed in her name. After being sent to England to learn the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Chauvelin discovers that Armand has become part of the vigilante's band. He blackmails Marguerite - now Lady Blakeney - into learning the identity the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Meanwhile, the Blakeney marriage has chilled, due to the news of the Marquis de St. Cyr's execution and Marguerite's alleged connection. But a chance for a marital reconciliation materializes for Marguerite, when she discovers the Scarlet Pimpernel's true identity.
Thirty years have passed since CBS first aired "THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL". In many ways, it has not lost its bite. Thanks to Tony Curtis' production designs, late 18th century England and France (England and Wales in reality) glowed with elegance and style. Not even the questionable transfer of the film to DVD could completely erode the movie's beauty. The movie's visual style was aided by Carolyn Scott's set decorations, Dennis C. Lewiston's sharp and colorful photography, and especially Phyllis Dalton's gorgeous costume designs, as shown in the following photographs:
I feel that screenwriter William Bast made the very wise choice of adapting Baroness Orczy's two novels about the Scarlet Pimpernel. In doing so, he managed to create a very clear and concise tale filled with plenty of drama and action. He also did an excellent job in mapping out the development of the story's main characters - especially Sir Percy Blakeney, Marguerite St. Just, Paul Chauvelin and Armand St. Just. I was especially impressed by his handling of Sir Percy and Marguerite's relationship - before and after marriage. Sir Percy's easy willingness to believe the worst about his bride provided a few chinks into Sir Percy's character, which could have easily morphed into a too perfect personality. More importantly, Bast's script gave Paul Chauvelin's character more depth by revealing the latter's feelings for Marguerite and jealousy over her marriage to Sir Percy. Bast's re-creation of the early years of the French Revolution and Reign of Terror struck me as well done. However, I wish he had not faithfully adapted Orczy's decision to allow the Scarlet Pimpernel and his men to rescue the Daupin of France (heir apparent to the French throne), Louis-Charles (who became Louis XVII, upon his father's death). In reality, Louis-Charles died in prison from tuberculosis and ill treatment at the age of ten. Surely, Bast could have created someone else important for the Scarlet Pimpernel to rescue.
"THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL" received a few Emmy nominations. But they were for technical awards - Costume Designs for Phyllis Dalton, Art Direction for Tony Curtis and even one for Outstanding Drama Special for producers David Conroy and Mark Shelmerdine. And yet . . . there were no nominations for Clive Donner and his lively direction, and no nominations for the cast. I am especially astounded by the lack of nominations for Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen. In fact, I find this criminal. All three gave superb performances as Sir Percy Blakeney; Marguerite, Lady Blakeney; and Paul Chauvelin respectively. Andrews was all over the map in his portrayal of the fop by day/hero by night Sir Percy. And yet, it was a very controlled and disciplined performance. Jane Seymour did a beautiful job of re-creating the intelligent, yet emotional Marguerite. At times, she seemed to be the heart and soul of the story. This was the first production in which I became aware of Ian McKellen as an actor and after his performance as Paul Chauvelin, I never forgot him. Not only was his portrayal of Chauvelin's villainy subtle, but also filled with deep pathos over his feelings for Marguerite Blakeney. He also had the luck to utter one of my favorite lines in the movie in the face of his character's defeat:
"Oh, the English, and their STU-U-U-UPID sense of fair play!"
The movie also featured some first-rate performances by the supporting cast. Malcolm Jamieson did an excellent job in portraying Marguerite's older brother, Armand. I was also impressed by Ann Firbank, who was first-rate as the embittered Countess de Tournay; James Villiers as the opportunistic Baron de Batz; Tracey Childs as the lovesick Suzanne de Tournay; and Christopher Villiers as Sir Percy's most stalwart assistant, Lord Anthony Dewhurst. Julian Fellowes made a very colorful and entertaining Prince of Wales. And Richard Morant proved to be even more subtle and sinister than McKellen's Chauvelin as Maximilien de Robespierre.
After my latest viewing of "THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL", I found myself surprisingly less supportive of the Scarlet Pimpernel's efforts than I used to be. Perhaps I have not only become more older, but even less enthusiastic about the aristocratic elite. It was then I realized that despite the presence of Marguerite and Armand St. Just, "THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL" is based on two novels written by an aristocrat, with views that were probably as liberal as Barry Goldwater. Oh well. I still managed to garner a good deal of entertainment from a movie that has held up remarkable well after thirty years, thanks to some lively direction by Clive Donner, a first-rate script by William Bast and superb performances by the likes of Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen.
Friday, June 23, 2017
Below are images from "CONDUCT UNBECOMING", the 1975 adaptation of Barry England's 1969 stage play. Directed by Michael Anderson, the movie starred Michael York, Stacy Keach, Richard Attenborough and Christopher Plummer:
"CONDUCT UNBECOMING" (1975) Photo Gallery
Monday, June 19, 2017
THE VELM SYSTEM
Han and Anakin stood near the Javian Hawk's boarding ramp, while they observed Mako converse with the Dreadnought's captain. Both the Hawk and Mako's ship, the Alastian Star, stood inside the Imperial cruiser's shuttle bay, surrounded by stormtroopers. Han glanced at his partner's face. Despite Anakin's stoic expression, the young Corellian could sense the older man's unease.
"Don't worry," Han whispered. "Mako seems to know what he's doing. He probably knows this guy from the Imperial Academy or something. They seem a little friendly."
Anakin muttered back, "I hope so, for our own sake. Because if this Captain Skafte insists upon inspecting our cargo, be prepared to run for it." A sharp sigh escaped from his mouth. "I should have stayed aboard the Hawk. We both should."
Han could not help but privately agree. It worried him that an Imperial ship had finally been able to catch them after ten years of smuggling. Perhaps Anakin had a right to complain about Mako's route to Maldore. He stole another glance at the older man. Anakin's expression now looked intense. The former Jedi seemed to be concentrating on Mako and Captain Skafte. "I wonder what they're talking about," Anakin commented in a dark tone. "Do you really think Spince will be able to convince the captain to let us go?"
With a shrug, Han replied, "I don't know. Like I said, they seem to be a little friendly with each other.
"Right now, I don't sense anything amiss," Anakin continued. "But the moment I give the signal that something's wrong, get aboard the Hawk as soon as possible. And start shooting at anyone who moves."
Han saw a flaw in Anakin's desperate plan. "Shouldn't I at least wait for Mako to board his ship?"
Anakin shot a dark glance at Han. "Why bother? You honestly think he would make it in time?"
Slowly, Han turned to stare at his partner. Was Anakin actually willing to sacrifice Mako in order to escape from the Imperials? Before he could comment, his eyes fell upon a handcuffed Wookie entering the shuttle bay with flanking stormtroopers. "What's he doing here?" Han whispered.
"The Wookie!" Han indicated the newcomer with a nod of his head. "Looks like he's a prisoner."
Anakin mumbled, "I'm not surprised. After Kashyyyk, the Imperials have been using captured Wookies as slaves."
"Slaves!" Han felt a stab to his stomach. The idea of any Wookie being a prisoner sickened him. And this particular prisoner reminded him of Dewlanna. He wondered if she would have faced a similar fate if she had returned to Kashyyyk following her husband's death. One glance at Anakin told Han that the former felt equally disgusted. After all, the two partners had endured some form of slavery during their respective childhoods. "I wish we could free him," Han added. "The Wookie, I mean."
"Right now, we should be worried about us," Anakin muttered.
At that moment, Mako and Captain Skafte approached the partners. "So," the latter commented, "you're friends of Mako?"
"That's right," Han replied with fake cheerfulness.
Mako added, "I had just informed Captain Skafte that we're shipping power converters to Maldore."
Anakin asked, "Are you two familiar with each other?"
"Captain Skafte used to be one of my instructors at the Imperial Academy," Mako explained. He added sheepishly, "Before I was expelled."
The captain added, "Now that Mako has explained everything, you're free . . ."
A loud roar filled the shuttle bay. The four men diverted their attention to the stormtroopers struggling with the Wookie captor. A frown darkened Skafte's countenance. "Now what?" he muttered. "Treece! What is going on?"
A blond-haired junior officer replied, "I'm sorry sir. The Wookie is being difficult. Being an animal, I guess he can't help himself."
"You have a Wookie as a slave?" Anakin asked, surprising Han, Mako and Skafte.
The captain regarded Anakin warily. "Do you have a problem with this . . . uh, Captain . . .?"
"Horus. Set Horus." Anakin shook his head. "No sir, I don't. In fact, slavery is very common where I come from. I'm merely surprised that you would use Wookie labor. I've heard rumors that they can be difficult as slaves. Not that I actually believe such rumors." Han noticed that Anakin had refrained from mentioning his homeworld by name.
A cool smile touched Skafte's lips. "They've made pretty good slaves since the fall of Kashyyyk, ten years ago. And this slave," he nodded at the Wookie, "happens to be a talented technician and pilot. The Trandoshans had captured him some three months ago. This Wookie tried to escape before he could be sold, but he failed and served under another Imperial commander before he was transferred to me."
Anakin's face expressed interest. "Really? A pilot and a technician? How long have you had him aboard this starship?"
With a shrug, Skafte replied, "Oh, about a week. I'm transporting this . . . creature to the Maw, where he is to work on one of the Empire's new projects."
"How much are you willing to sell for this . . . creature?" Anakin's question surprised Han.
Apparently, Skafte also seemed surprised by Anakin's request. He frowned at the former Jedi and asked, "You're interested in buying this Wookie? Why? Didn't you say that they don't make good slaves?"
"I said that most people don't consider them to be good slaves," Anakin corrected. "I also said that I didn't believe such nonsense. According to you, he's a good mechanic and I can certainly use one."
Han struggled to contain his excitement. Did Anakin actually plan to help free the Wookie? He noticed that Skafte had become pensive for a few minutes. Then the officer stared at Anakin. Han wondered if his partner had gone too far.
"How do you plan to keep him in line?" the Imperial officer finally asked.
A cruel smile curved Anakin's lips. For the first time in years, Han could imagine him as a Sith Lord. "Let's just say that I plan to use a more effective method other than a blaster or taser," he coldly replied.
As the two men walked away to discuss the enslaved Wookie, Mako leaned forward to whisper in Han's ear. "What's going on?"
Han tried to play dumb. "Huh?"
"The Wookie!" Mako hissed. "Why is Horus suddenly interested in the Wookie?"
Han murmured back, "We need an extra mechanic for the Hawk."
"Who are you kidding?" Mako retorted. "Horus could probably fix that ship of his, blind-folded. Or else he could simply buy a droid." Realization gleamed in his eyes. "Oh no! Horus is trying to . . ." He broke off momentarily, as an officer passed by. Then he added in a lower voice, "He plans to free that Wookie, doesn't he?"
Keeping his gaze fixed upon Anakin and Skafte, Han merely replied, "Why would any of us be interested in freeing some slave? Let alone a Wookie?"
At that moment, Anakin and Skafte returned to the younger men. The smiling Imperial commander was saying, ". . . to be of service, Captain Horus. I only hope that you realize what you're going to be dealing with." He turned to the blond-haired lieutenant. "Treece! Bring the Wookie over here! He will be leaving with our new friends."
Lieutenant Treece and two stormtroopers forced the Wookie to join Han and Anakin. As Treece began to remove the Wookie's shackles, Anakin barked, "What are you doing?"
Treece blinked several times. "Uh . . ."
"Treece, you idiot!" Skafte retorted angrily. "The Wookie is now Captain Horus' property! Not some member of his crew! Keep the shackles on! And hand him over to the Captain's co-pilot, so they can be on their way."
The red-faced Treece handed the chains to the Wookie's shackles over to Han. Who led the Wookie aboard the Hawk. The moment the pair were safely out of sight, Han unfastened the shackles. "Welcome aboard the Javian Hawk," he greeted. "I'm Han Solo. And the captain . . ."
Anakin quickly boarded the ship. "Let's go, Han!" he barked. "We're out of here! Now!"
Han flashed an apologetic smile at the Wookie and followed Anakin to the cockpit. Less than five minutes later, the Javian Hawk finally left the Dreadnought, with the Alastian Star closely behind.
Chewbacca stood in the middle of the starship’s narrow passageway and stared at the shackles near his feet. Why had the boy removed them? Why . . .?
The ship jolted before Chewbacca felt it move forward. He realized that the Corellian ship had just left the Dreadnought. At first, the Wookie felt a sense of exultation. After three months he had finally escaped his Imperial masters. Then he recalled the hard eyes of the ship’s captain. A nagging fear began to worm in the back of his mind that he had exchanged several masters for a new one. Once more, his eyes fell upon the shackles. If he was still a slave, why did the boy remove his shackles?
Slowly, Chewbacca began to move around. If he could find a weapon, perhaps he might force his new . . . companions to deliver him to the nearest inhabited system. And hopefully, he would find a way to reunite with the Drunken Dancer crew.
Ten years ago, Chewbacca and a group of fellow Wookies had been charged to aid a small band of renegade Jedi, led by Olee Sandstone, to find other Jedi being hunted by the Empire. Unfortunately, the mission led to disaster as Chewbacca, Sandstone and their band fled to Kashyyyk with the Empire and a Sith Lord named Darth Rasche, close behind. Following the fall of his homeworld, Chewbacca and the Drunken Dancer’s crew spent the next decade harassing Imperial ships and freeing any Wookie slaves they came across. Just three months ago, Chewbecca came across a fellow Wookie named Tvrrdko. Unfortunately, Tvrrdko’s son had been killed while fighting alongside Chewbacca during the Clone Wars . . . and blamed the latter for his son’s death. Seeking revenge, Tvrrdko betrayed Chewbacca to a Trandoshan slaver named Ssoh. A failed attempt to escape from Ssoh led the enslaved Wookie into the hands of an Imperial officer named Nyklas. The latter, a brutal and cruel taskmaster, set out to make Chewbacca’s life as miserable as possible. Once more, Chewbacca made another attempt to escape slavery. With the help of the Dreadnought’s crew, Nyklas managed to prevent Chewbacca’s escape. Captain Skafte, the Dreadnought’s commander had suggested he transport Chewbacca to one of the galaxy’s hell spots - the Maw – for work on one of the Empire's new projects. One week later, the Dreadnought came across two Corellian freighters and Chewbacca no longer found himself in the hands of the Empire.
Quietly, the Wookie began his search for weapons. It did not take him long to find them in a storage cabinet near the ship’s port side. Not only did it possess blaster pistols and rifles, but also a Jedi lightsaber. Chewbacca frowned at the weapon. The sight of it reminded him of Olee Sandstone and the other former Jedi on the Drunken Dancer. The weapon also reminded him of the late Roan Shryne and the little green Jedi Master he had met during those last days of the Clone Wars. How did two smugglers managed to get their hands on a lightsaber? He reached for the weapon.
“I wouldn’t touch that if I were you,” a deep voice murmured. Chewbacca snatched a blaster pistol from the weapons cabinet and aimed it at the voice’s owner. Who happened to be the tall, blond pilot who had just purchased him from the Dreadnought’s captain. “Well, this is a new development.”
Chewbacca growled, “I want you to drop me off at the nearest inhabited system. Now!”
The pilot shook his head. “Sorry, but I don’t speak Shyriiwook or any other Wookie language.” Then he roared, “Han! Get in here! Now!”
Nearly a minute passed before the younger man – Solo – appeared. “What’s the problem?” The words barely came out of his mouth, when his eyes fell upon the blaster in Chewbacca’s grip. “Whoa! I mean . . . what the hell is going on?”
“This Wookie wants something . . .” the older pilot began.
Chewbacca interrupted, “I want passage to the nearest habitable system. Or else.”
“Or else what?” Solo shot back. “Why are you pointing that blaster at my friend?”
“Your friend had just bought me,” Chewbacca growled. “I don’t intend to hang around and make it worth his while.”
Solo contemptuously rolled his eyes. “My friend had bought you so that you can be free! Why else would I remove your shackles?”
Feeling slightly foolish, Chewbacca lowered the blaster. “Oh. I . . . Sorry.”
“What did he say?” the older pilot asked.
Solo replied, “He said that he was sorry.” He turned to Chewbacca. “Listen, we’re on our way to Maldore. We can drop you off there, if you like. Or perhaps take you somewhere else.”
Chewbacca had intended to search for the Drunken Dancer if he ever found himself free. Unfortunately, three months had passed since his capture. Since Sandstone and her crew were wanted by the Empire, he felt certain that the Drunken Dancer would remain on the move. Quite frankly, he had no place to go. Her wondered if the humans would allow him to join their crew.
The older pilot gave the Wookie a knowing look. “All alone in the world?” Chewbacca nodded. The two pilots exchanged a glance before the older one added, “I realize that this might be a spur-of-the-moment thing, but . . . you’re more than welcome to join our crew.”
The pilot’s offer took Chewbacca by surprise. The former seemed to have read his thoughts. Then he recalled the weapon in the locker. He wondered if the blond man was a former Jedi . . . or that these two were involved in activities against the Empire, like the Drunken Dancer’s crew. “Well?” Solo added.
Chewbacca nodded and growled, “I would be happy to.”
Solo translated his answer to the older pilot. Who broke into a grin. “Great! You’ve already met Han Solo and I’m . . . Set Horus.” He offered his hand. “Welcome to the Javian Hawk!”
A loud buzz from the door announced a visitor. Darth Rasche switched off his lightsaber and ordered, “Come in!”
A stocky man of medium height entered the Sith Lord’s personal gymnasium. He wore the uniform of an inquisitor. “I have a report regarding Senator Dahlma,” the Inquisitor announced. “Yesterday, she and her aide boarded a transport for Maldore.”
Rasche sighed. “It looks as if she had been telling the truth, after all.”
The Inquisitor continued, “There’s more. The senator remained at her private home in Malag. She did not bother to travel to her family’s estate in the Dalgar region.”
“Interesting.” It looked as if the Emperor’s suspicions about a non-existent funeral might be well founded. "Tell your agent to keep an eye on the senator. See who goes in and out of her home.”
The agent bowed. “Yes, my Lord.” He immediately left the gymnasium.
Rasche took a deep breath and picked up his comlink. “Commander Abbas, summon the crew and prepare the Exactor for departure. I will be leaving for Maldore.”
END OF CHAPTER FOUR
Thursday, June 15, 2017
I am another moviegoer who is getting sick and tired of the regarding Marvel/Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films and Warner Brothers/D.C. Comics’ D.C. Extended Universe (DCEU) films. I have come across articles in which fans of both movie universes have accused the other of excessive bashing.
I never understood this rivalry between Marvel and DC Comics movie franchises. To be honest, I find it unnecessary. And I believe today's audiences are getting too caught up in this so-called rivalry, thanks to the media, the studios and the two comic book conglomerates. I have seen both DC Comics and Marvel since "SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE" first came out in 1978. Why do certain films from one comic book company need to be better than those from another one? I have seen films from both that I found very impressive. And I have seen films from both that left me feeling disappointed. For me to decide whether the Marvel films or the DC films are better strikes me as ridiculous.
Some fans have claimed that since the MCU films perform better at the box office, they are without a doubt, the superior series of films. One major problem with this reasoning was the box office performance of the five major comic book movies released in 2016. Marvel’s "CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE CIVIL WAR" proved to be the second (or third) biggest box office success of that year. Yet, D.C. Comics’ "BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE" proved to be that year’s fifth biggest box office success. Although both the DCEU’s "SUICIDE SQUAD" and the MCU’s "DOCTOR STRANGE" never reached those heights in terms of box office, both were successful and ironically, the DCEU movie proved to be a bit more successful.
However, I believe that box office performance is not a true reflection of a movie’s worth. No one knows the true reason behind the critics’ current and more positive reaction to the Marvel films. Not really. True, some film critics might honestly believe they are better. Then again, it is possible that some film critics were bribed to praise the Marvel films to the sky and/or bash the D.C. Comics movies. Personally, I had stopped regarding their opinion as fact a long time ago. After all, their opinions are dictated by personal tastes, or . . . other means, just as the opinions of moviegoers are dictated by personal tastes. - Yes, there might be more people who believe that the current Marvel films are better. But I have encountered a great number of opinions that favor the current DC Comic movies. And I cannot help but wonder if the MCU fans are simply the loudest. Also, judging a film based upon box office success or the number of fans for a certain franchise strikes me as irrelevant. There are a lot of fans of the "TRANSFORMER" films. A lot. Which is why those movies generated a good deal of money. In the end, it is all subjective.
I am fans of both the MCU and the DCEU. I have been aware of some bashing of the MCU films by certain DCEU fans. However, their bashing seemed to be minor in compare to the consistent and excessive stream of criticism and bashing directed toward the DCEU films … and I believe this bashing is getting out of control.
Sometimes, I get the feeling that a lot of Marvel fans (or perhaps I should say the Marvel/Disney company is threatened by the three movies released by DC Comics between 2013 and 2016. These three movies signaled the end of the Marvel/Disney’s monopoly on a series of comic book movies based upon a collection of titles. The bashing for the DCEU has become utter ridiculous and excessive. I am also beginning to wonder if those who had accused Disney/Marvel of paying off the critics to bad mouth ALL THREE DCEU movies that have been released so far … had been right after all. Because this criticism has become over the top. It has now extended to both "WONDER WOMAN" and "JUSTICE LEAGUE" and they have yet to be released. Has bashing the DCEU movies become the "in" thing to do? Just as bashing the "STAR WARS" Prequel films is still a popular past time? I hope not. For I had almost bought it myself.
When "MAN OF STEEL", "BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE" and "SUICIDE SQUAD" first hit the theaters, I was reluctant to see all three, because I had stupidly accepted the bad opinions about them. Yet, I overcame my reluctance and went to see them, anyway. And when I finally saw those three movies, I enjoyed them. All of them. Very much. In fact, I regard "BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE" as one of the best comic book hero movies I have ever seen. And that was when I finally realized that a film critic’s opinion was worth dog shit. No more. I am simply going to form my own opinion of any movie I am interested in seeing. And I refuse to be some mindless drone and accept the views of others simply because it is the in-thing to do.
The idea that we are supposed to be accept that the Marvel or MCU films are better than the DCEU films, because many film critics or movie fans say so is irrelevant. It is irrelevant, because their views are matters of opinion. Preference. I do not accept this view "numbers matter" regarding the artistic quality of a film, because I do not share it. I have watched a lot of comic book movies in my time. From my perspective, only my opinion of an individual movie count. I do not care whether any those movies are based upon the titles of Marvel, DC Comics or any other comic book company that exists. And considering that art and entertainment are subjective in the end, what is the point in declaring that MCU films are better or that DCEU movies are better? It seems like a waste of time to me. I think we all should focus on which individual movies that appeals to us and not bother on which company makes the better films.
Warner Bros./DCEU is scheduled to release two movies in 2017. Disney/MCU has scheduled three to be released. I plan to see all five movies this year. And I will be damned if I pay attention to any film critics or moviegoer . . . until after I have seen these movies. Regardless of who performs better at the box office, I am the one who will decide which films I want to see and which ones I want to buy, regardless of whether they came from DC Comics or Marvel.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
"THE LAST AIRBENDER" (2010) Review
Seven years ago, director M. Night Shyamalan decided to explore the world of fantasy-adventure by filming an adaptation of an animated television series called ”AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER”. This movie is a fantasy-adventure tale set in a fictional, Asian-influenced world with Chinese martial arts and elemental manipulation.
"THE LAST AIRBENDER" told the story of a young monk and the only surviving airbender (one with the psi ability to manipulate air) named Aang, who is believed by others to be the future Avatar – one who can manipulate all four elements of air, water, fire and earth. With his two new friends from the Southern Water Tribe, Aang seeks to learn to manipulate three other elements – water, earth and fire.
In this movie, he journeys with his friends Katara (a waterbender) and her brother Sokka to the Northern Water Tribe, where he can learn how to master the waterbending skill from a master. Tracking Aang, Katara and Sokka is Prince Zuko, the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation; who has been exiled by his evil father, Fire Lord Ozai and sent to capture the future Avatar. With the Avatar’s capture, Zuko’s honor and right to the throne will be restored.
I would have never bothered to see this movie. But an office colleague of mine had really enjoyed the movie and recommended that I go see it. Needless to say, I do not regret following her advice. Mind you, ”THE LAST AIRBENDER” was not perfect. The movie’s first five to ten minutes failed to kick start my interest. It bored me so much that I found myself on the verge of falling asleep. Most of the cast members gave performances that ranged from mediocrity to sheer boredom. And a good deal of the movie’s dialogue seemed extremely cheesy to me – the kind of dialogue one would find in the "STAR WARS" and "LORD OF THE RINGS" franchises.
However, "THE LAST AIRBENDER" definitely had its virtues. I was impressed by the performances of the movie's two leads, Noah Ringer and Dev Patel, who portrayed Aang and Zuko respectively. Those two literally kept this movie together. It also helped that both had genuine martial arts experience. I was also impressed by Shaun Toub, who portrayed Zuko’s wise uncle, Iroh; Aasif Mandvi, who played the Fire Nation’s cold-blooded military commander, Zhao; and Cliff Curtis, who portrayed the ruthless leader of the Fire Nation, Fire Lord Ozai. Andrew Lesnie’s photography, Philip Messina’s production designs and the art directions supervised by Richard L. Johnson were very impressive, if not mind blowing. However, I did find Judianna Makovsky’s costume designs to be very beautiful and memorable.
From what I understand, "THE LAST AIRBENDER" was not exactly a hit. It had failed to fully earn back the money spent on its production. Well . . . what can I say? Regardless of whether it was a hit or not, I found it an entertaining movie to watch and had no problems viewing it again on DVD.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Below are images from the third entry in the MUMMY movie franchise, "THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR". Directed by Rob Cohen, the movie stars Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, and Maria Bello:
"THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR" (2008) Photo Gallery