I guess you could call it “failure”, but I prefer the term “learning experience”.-from the novel The Martian, written by American Novelist Andy Weir. The Martian was later adapted into a movie directed by Ridley Scott in 2015.
by Douglas Montgomery II
Caught Netflix’s Project Power over the past weekend, and I must say I wasn’t disappointed. With the summer absent of summer movies with superheroes due to the pandemic, a movie based on people with powers was a welcome substitute for my mid-August weekend movie viewing. Boasting a $85.1 million dollar budget, and a cast including Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Courtney B. Vance, Dominique Fishback, and Kyanna Simon Simpson, this Netflix original is certainly one of the streaming giant’s better flicks.
Foxx is Art, a former soldier who was previously experimented on for the purpose of granting people super powers simply by taking a pill, which is now being pushed out on the streets of New Orleans. It’s those streets where we find cop Frank (Levitt), and teen drug pusher Robin (Fishback). Foxx is desperately in search of someone, Frank’s investigating the drug and the users, and Robin is pushing the drug for money, but has no idea what she’s really involved in. I eagerly anticipated the three of them meeting. In the meantime, there’s some great action that leads to their ultimate coming together as we see exactly what happens when people take the pill. Both Jamie Foxx and Josheph Gordon-Levitt are both just great to watch, not just for the action but some pretty comical moments as well. It’s Fishback who really impresses, whether spitting rap lyrics or riding a fine line between black girl teenager and novice drug pusher, this young lady got skills.
Set against the gritty streets of New Orleans, and some hot hip hop, Project Power had a 90’s movie charm, and visually reminded me of the first Blade movie. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, known for Paranormal Activity, paced this movie well, kept the action fast and intense, and sprinkled some comedy in that was funny but didn’t detract. I was highly entertained. The first movie I’ve seen in awhile that made me want to watch again. There are some plot elements that seem to occur simply for convenience and to drive the movie forward, and circumstances that you could neatly tie in a bow, but it really didn’t matter, this movie is fun!
Project Power’s special effects were done very well, except for one particular scene where the prostethics (I assume) were so silly, it was laughable, but it still didn’t matter, I was having a good time with this movie! Super-powered action, some good comedy, and some hip hop music in the background, add Project Power to your Netflix watchlist. You won’t regret it!
In the spirit of love and humility, lets exercise our God-given ability to be caring and have respect for one another. So be courageous, but rational in our dealings with each other. God has brought us all together at this moment in time and history for a greater reason. So move with a purpose, not guided by our feelings of anger, but with what is sensible and right.
- Protest peacefully – GET OUT AND VOTE
- Strategize – GET OUT AND VOTE
- Organize – GET OUT AND VOTE
- Boycott – GET OUT AND VOTE
Arrogance diminishes wisdom.– from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Season 1, Episode 15
by Douglas Montgomery II
Alita Battle Angel was originally a Japanese cyberpunk anime series. Alita has also been a long time dream project of director James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic, Aliens, Terminator), who ultimately ended up as producer of the just released movie version. Directing chores went to Robert Ridriguez (Sin City, Predators, and Kill Bill: Volume 2). Starring Rosa Salazar as Alita, Christoph Waltz as Dr. Dyson Ido, Jennifer Connelly as Chiren, Keean Johnson as Hugo, and Mahershala Ali as Vector. Alita Battle Angel, the live-action adaptation has been stuck in development for some time, along with many production delays, but it has finally hit theaters. The result is a mixture of faithful to the original anime property for fans, but missing that human interaction connection for general audiences.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future and follows a cyborg (Alita) who is found in a garbage dump by a doctor who rebuilds her and brings her back to life. Suffering from memory loss, Alita connects to who she is/was via a long lost martial art form used by military style cyborgs many years prior. As time progresses, she eventually achieves full knowledge of her past and what she must now do given the current state of things. All of this works well, but the movie suffers a bit because human connections seem to take a back seat to all the stunning visual and practical effects at work. So audiences are somewhat forced to except the emotional connections between the doctor who discovered her, and her new found friend Hugo. It’s not that emotional connections don’t exist, but they happened to quickly, and you just have to accept it and go along for the ride.
Now make no mistake, Alita Battle Angel is an action-packed ride, with well crafted action sequences, some awesome martial arts fighting, and great visual eye candy. In fact, the action, fighting, and visual effects are so good you can overlook some of the human emotion connections that’s missing. At least that’s what I did. And if you just accept Alita as a live-action, 3-D animated action/fantasy movie, you’ll enjoy this movie. And I must say as fantastic as the visuals and action was, the bar wasn’t really moved. I mean Avatar this is not. I saw Alita in IMAX 3-D, and honestly I don’t feel it was necessary. I would have been just as satisfied seeing this movie in Dolby cinema. So I advise do not spend the extra money for 3-D.
Dr. Dyson (Watlz) was a great character with some great moments with Alita. But Chiren (Connelly), and Vector (Ali) both good characters with potential, but they don’t really get enough time to stand out. Ali’s bad guy Vector in particular, just wasn’t given enough to be the villain I was looking forward to seeing him be, and this was especially disappointing for anyone looking to see Ali sink his acting chops into a wicked, evil character, much like he did as Cottonmouth in the NetFlix Marvel series Luke Cage.
For genre fans and anime fans you’ll probably like Alita, however, I don’t think general audiences will fully enjoy and appreciate this movie. So, if you want an action movie with a deep thought-provoking message, where you feel something for the characters on an emotional level then I would not recommend this movie to you. Now, If you’re looking to see some good special effects, intense action, and some martial arts fighting then check this movie out! If you’re a fan of anime, check Alita out! Just want to see a plain old action flick, then go check out Alita Battle Angel! Alita Battle Angel is playing in theaters now!
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Frodo: “I wish it need not have happened in my time.”
Gandalf: “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”– The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001
by Douglas Montgomery II
The Kid Who Would Be King starring child actor Louis Ashbourne Serkis as Alex, is definitely a movie for kids, but a movie that adults and parents should take kids to see, because as the line that precedes the movie title reads, “Evil Gets Schooled”. Evil in various elementary forms does in fact get schooled in this movie. Directed by helmer of Attack The Block, Joe Cornish, who also wrote Ant-Man and The Adventures of Tin Tin, this movie is an analogy to the story of King Arthur for adults, but a modern day adventure for kids who may not be or are just becoming aware of King Arthur and the Knights of the round table story.
The movie begins with a quick back story of King Arthur’s battle with his half-sister Morgana, who although defeated, has vowed revenge on the land. Fast forward to present day and we find school kid Alex and his best friend Bedders, played by Dean Chaumoo, dealing with being bullied by some of their fellow school mates. But Alex is not one to shy away from a fight and let’s everyone know there’s definitely a fire inside of him. It’s that fire that drives and delivers Alex to his destiny of finding Arthur’s sword and the modern re-imagining of King Arthur and his Knights in the guise of himself and his school friends. There’s many life lessons for kids to learn and relate to in this movie. From several examples of leadership, feeling powerless, acts of selflessness, teamwork, and using one’s enemies to accomplish your goals and turning them into friends at the same time.
Rounding out the cast are Alex’s school mates, Lance (Tom Taylor), Kaye (Rhianna Dorris), Young Merlin (Angus Imrie), Alex’s Mom (Denise Gough), evil sorceress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), and Adult Merlin (Patrick Stewart). While it would have been nice to have seen more of Stewart as Merlin, and more villainy from Ferguson’s Morgana, this is clearly a movie about the kids and what they have to deal with in this world, and ironically, its the same themes that play out in our own lives as adults. And as Alex is told early in the movie, the world is not going to change, it is you that has to change. An important platitude for anyone to grasp young or old.
The Kid Who Would Be King is fun, humorous, fantastically adventurous, but teaching the audience some lessons in life and people, all at the same time. If you have kids, and are looking to drop your kids off at the movie theater, or want to take your kids to a movie and have them learn something valuable while being entertained, then The Kid Who Would Be King is by far a good choice. After seeing this movie, audiences won’t exit the theater a king, queen, or member of royalty. But if they pay attention to what’s being said, they’ll leave feeling like a graduate of charm school. The Kid Who Would Be King is now playing in theaters! Go check it out!
by Douglas Montgomery II
I’ve been collecting comic books and have been into everything science fiction/fantasy from Godzilla to Star Wars and Star Trek for well over 40 years, almost my entire life. And in the 1970s and especially the 1980s and early 90s, one of the artist, the main artist who’s work I followed and collected was George Perez.
In the 70s I was young and just bought what comics I could get my hands on and didn’t really pay attention to who was drawing them. I just bought what I liked. I bought what was visually appealing to me. But in the 1980s, a friend recommended the New Teen Titans, and by this time I was a teenager and was actually reading the comics and paying attention to who the people (writer, artist, inker, etc) were, that were responsible for the comics I was buying. Upon my friends advice, I went to an antique show being held at a local shopping mall, and there was a vendor there that was selling comic books. I found the section for the Titans and purchased the New Teen Titans #22, 23, and 24. The stories centered on villain Brother Blood and Starfire’s villainous sister Blackfire. I was now consciously hooked on Perez’s artwork and began purchasing all the Titan’s previous issues all the way back to number one. I say consciously, because I started looking back on some of the comics I had collected up to that point and realized I’d been acquiring comics drawn by Perez all along, the Avengers in particular.
I went back and picked up all the Avengers drawn by Perez that I had missed until I had all of them; I then would go on searches to local comic stores, flea markets, bookstores, mail order comic services, etc, for anything Perez had done, comics, posters, post cards, anything with that iconic George Perez autograph signature. My main comic store would automatically set aside anything new from Perez for me to purchase when I came to the store. Needless to say I was and still am, a George Perez fan. At a time in my life, high school and post high school, when crack was devastating lower income neighborhoods, a mysterious new disease called AIDs was killing people, and the spectre of nuclear war with the Soviet Union hung over the nation like a shadow, Perez gave me something to look forward to, something to get excited about.
George Perez was blessed with a wonderful gift and I’m so grateful he used his gift the way that he did and shared it with everyone for so many years. And while the selfish part of me desires for George to continue, he’s given so many comics and art in various forms, so many that I could continue searching for George’s work that I don’t already own, for years and years. So I can’t be upset that George is retiring. I thank him for all the visual art candy he’s given, for all the stunning, detailed images that floored me the first time I saw them on the store shelves, and still amaze me to this day, like when I pull them up on google or select them from my own personal collection. For that matter, right now, sitting on top of my large trunk (where my comics and fantasy memorabilia are stored), I have Perez’s New Teen Titans #16, #17, #39, the poster for Titans cover #24, the New Teen Titans Tom Doherty paperback, Wonder Woman #24, the Avengers Heroes Return 1st Issue, and Malibu comics Limited Edition UltraForce, already out for easy viewing access.
I extend my sincerest thank you to George Perez. You’re a bonafide legend! Your work will inspire and live on forever. And I will forever speak of your masterful, detailed talents and how your work inspired and influenced my life. Congratulations! Happy Retirement! Enjoy! You’ve more than earned it!
Blog supporters, please take some time today to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.! It’s more important now , than ever! Thank you for your support!
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1962 Civil Rights Speech in New York City, at the Park Sheraton Hotel on September 12, 1962.
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement
by Douglas Montgomery II
In 2016, M. Night Shyamalan gave us Split, a mystery/thriller starring James McAvoy as a man with 23 different personalities. It was excitingly suspenseful, McAvoy gave a noteworthy split personality performance, and it was a nice return to form for Shyamalan. Then, adding some connectivity flavor, surprisingly links the narrative to Shyamalan’s 2000 Unbreakable. For those who saw Split, it was a nice shock, generating eager anticipation, and setting up the inevitable sequel, that is the just released Glass, starring James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, and Samuel Jackson.
Now Unbreakable would be categorized as a mystery drama, and Split a thriller mystery, but Glass, turns out is fantasy drama, and felt a little out of place amongst the previous two movies that preceded it, and I’ll explain why later. I was really looking forward to seeing where Glass took the story from Split’s ending, but where with Split I was intrigued, and at times on the edge of my seat at what McAvoy’s character, Kevin Wendell, was going to do next, with Glass there’s no more underlying mystery to him, we already know about that “one” personality. And the buildup to Kevin and David Dunn’s (Bruce Willis) confrontation happened too quick, and proved ultimately unsatisfying. Linking Split to Unbreakable now just feels like a clever attempt to link a story, in order to spark fan excitement and generate some box office love.
Glass, tied to Unbreakable, reminded me why I had some issues with the later. It was kind of boring. The tone of Glass, like Unbreakable, set to a grainy, grey, after it’s been raining atmosphere, but lacking the mysteriousness and intensity of Split, just didn’t keep me engaged. The abduction plot line in Split, a little akin to Silence of the Lambs, helped propel that story forward, but that’s, unfortunately absent in Glass. Instead we have a psychiatrist(with a hidden agenda) trying to convince all of the main characters that their powers are really just curable manifestations of the mind. And the film’s reveal towards the end, lending to an overarching, fantasy-like sub-plot, just didn’t work. Out of the three, Split is by far the better movie. I still believe Shyamalan’s got skills, but he should’ve let Split end as a standalone movie, without the Unbreakable lineage.
The return of Samuel Jackson and Bruce Willis is definitely the highlight of this movie, but the charm of their return didn’t last very long, and it didn’t save the movie either. I had high expectations for Glass, but couldn’t get past some of the above mentioned flaws. I thought and hoped, that like Split, Glass would be Shyamalan’s return to recreating the success of his earlier work, but it’s not. It’s an effort to break that glass wall of disappointment, but for this movie goer, the glass is cracked, but not yet broken. Glass is now playing in theaters! Go check it out!