It scares me to think that I distinctly remember when this story broke a few years ago and what a big deal it was, or was supposed to be, and yet here three years later I honestly don’t know how much I trust that anything really happened to change anything.
I mean, I understand that President Obama eventually recanted … to some extent, and then Congress passed some reform bills … to some extent, and for the most part our 24-hour news cycle has long since moved on to other topics as it is wont to do…
…but for a secret spy network whose only accountability is to a group of politicians behind closed doors who don’t have to tell us anything under the guise of national security – how are we supposed to believe that anything actually changed at all after Edward Snowden leaked the security documents that he did???
Cinematically, I think the movie turned out great. Joe Gordon Levitt nailed the role as Snowden, and hopefully it had enough suspense to get the story out to a wider audience, many who may have skipped over the headlines either blindly in the name of fighting terrorism or even merely writing Edward Snowden off as some computer hacker just as disappointingly as Obama did in one of his less admirable points during his presidency.
Because the thing is, I have little doubt that the NSA is technically capable of intercepting telephone and Internet transmissions of normal, everyday American citizens like you and me. And though it admittedly kind of blows my mind how much disk space it would require for a government agency to literally have a record button for THE INTERNET, you can buy a lot of hard drives for the $50 billion a year that’s allegedly our intelligence community’s budget…
…cause we can’t even know that out of fear for national security… 🙁
I think privacy is a very basic concept that most people probably take for granted. If you’re standing inside of your own home and you’re speaking at a reasonable volume, naturally you would assume that nobody outside can hear what you’re saying, and even if what you’re talking about is utter nonsense, you still wouldn’t invite the entire neighborhood into your living room to just sit on your couch and listen to your daily banter with your spouse.
The argument that “people who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear” is bullshit because we all have business that we don’t want being shared with random strangers, be it what we call our significant other behind closed doors or the sometimes bizarre Google searches we make out of sheer curiosity at three in the morning or the intimate details of our personal finances.
And one of the cornerstones of our justice system is the idea that each of us is “innocent until proven guilty” which means that spying on Americans just in case one happens to be a terrorist is treason. Yet because the best we can do is trust our politicians that they’re keeping the NSA under control … which has been proven categorically false as of late … not only do we not know if sacrificing our privacy in the name of national security is actually working, we also don’t know if that information is also being used to serve other personal or political motives in the name of perversion or even just good, old-fashioned crooked capitalism!
Because it’s estimated that 50,000 people work for the NSA and if we follow the same contact circles outlined in the movie, it doesn’t take more than a couple of hops to literally have tens of millions of people directly or indirectly connected to the analysts who could have access to anything they ever wanted to know about, well, anyone.
Of course, the whole issue of whistleblowers is a fine line because our government and our military need to keep some things secret in the missions that they’re performing, but when we the people can’t rely on those who we’ve elected to keep everybody honest, that’s when we occasionally need people like Edward Snowden or Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning who are willing to literally put their own lives on the line to point out that what these people are doing behind closed doors isn’t right.
Great movie, and I really hope that it helps to re-open the discussion about mass surveillance and what we’re really willing to let our governments do with when they tell us that they’re trying to protect us.
For starters, it’s kind of shocking how this movie even got made and that someone managed to convince a studio that it was worth spending $165 million to make because as far as I could tell, I’m still not sure how this didn’t end up a straight-to-DVD feature!
You’d think that Will Smith’s absence would’ve been the only clue needed that this was destined for failure…
And yet nearly every other B-character, plus Jeff Goldblum!, managed to take time out of their busy schedules to return. It almost became a game trying to remember who each of them played in the original movie before their character ended up getting killed this second time around! I mean, good on Will Smith’s widow for actually going to school with that stripping money of hers and all, but so many of these characters were just such a stretch with this movie, it was almost hard to remember that in fact the original Independence Day was a bonafide blockbuster. 😛
I think I was earnestly rooting for the aliens by about the 20 minute mark? I don’t know – when did that weird sphere thing show up that they immediately blasted out of the sky? That was when I was more or less done, and this isn’t a short movie!
The action sequences were forgettable, or at least the ones that weren’t carbon copy versions from when they happened in the first movie, anyways. If you took away all of the cribbing and unnecessary callbacks to the 1996 movie, they probably could’ve got this thing done in under an hour and had people moving on with their lives a bit sooner, but instead we had to meet Will Smith’s son, and understand his backstory … which is basically the same as his Dad’s, and then his Mom has to die – literally before his very eyes.
The only way it could’ve been made any more tedious would’ve been if Jaden Smith had actually been cast as Will’s son.
Bill Pullman’s character is made kind of sad and pathetic, which is too bad because he was awesome in the first one, and the whole idea of the alien queen chasing a school bus through the desert just didn’t work at all.
Plus, when she died all of the other ships just packed up and left – even the great big one the size of the continental US?!
I could’ve swore that we shared our tactics around the world and blew everything up in the last one … we didn’t just zap one and the rest fled like this movie seemed to imply.
But I think I’ve gone on long enough – this movie is great if you’re looking for a really bad movie to watch late on a Friday night, and maybe you’ll only be half paying attention or your spouse will fall asleep partway through.
I can’t wait for Independence Day: Part 3 which is apparently coming out in a couple of years FOR REAL! Maybe they’ll make all of the aliens women to change it up a bit, or maybe they’ll just go the straight-to-DVD route…
…because DVD as a format should be completely dead by 2018, wouldn’t you think?
However despite the spin that tried to make it out to be merely a sexist objection to the all-female cast, I’ve come to believe that at least for most of us, it didn’t have anything to do with the cast … sort of.
Overall, what failed this year’s Ghostbusters reboot wasn’t the cast, but unequivocally without a doubt the script because frankly it was uncreative and undoubtedly unoriginal, to the point where it felt like it expected the weight of the beloved Ghostbusters franchise to support it no matter what … and it just didn’t.
The thing about reboots is that they still need to bring something fresh and new to the franchise – something more than just girl power, in this case – but the story itself was kind of boring and in many places just seemed to borrow from the original movie when the writers couldn’t be bothered to come up with a new story device. To that point, things that were probably meant to seem like nods to the franchise – like crossing the streams and fighting with the mayor and bringing the old logo to life – just felt like weak writing instead of proper tributes that the original Ghostbusters deserved.
Even the cameos from the original cast were kind of meh with no real acknowledgement of how they served in the original story.
And so I can’t really blame the cast itself for what ultimately seemed to be a case of bad, uninspired writing because I sincerely think that another version of this movie could’ve been just fine, female cast and all. The story isn’t that hard to write…
30 years after the original events in New York, the original cast has long since been retired as heroes when a new threat appears and these women who grew up on their paranormal tales attempt to dust off the old legends to take over the reins. The story contains plenty of nods to the original movies because they’re shared as anecdotes by the original cast, and in the end the new Ghostbusters save the day and the retired Ghostbusters – along with the crabby mayor – are the first in line to applaud their successors.
The whole stink when the original rumors of this all-female reboot came about wasn’t that girls can’t be Ghostbusters, but that’s all we were given and fans of the franchise demanded more than that. I’m sure that some were sexist, but not all, with many folks like myself just wanting to see more effort put forth than, “It’s Ghostbusters, but with women!” because a simple gender swap is no basis for any story, and it shows in the final product because they didn’t put crap into the writing and the movie fell on its face.
If anything, it did a disservice to the women who were cast because to take on a franchise as beloved like the Ghostbusters, they needed a good script to do their legacy justice. Instead they were given throwaway gags and re-used plot devices that didn’t add anything new to the franchise and just left the rest of us saying, “I told you so.”
All this movie needed to be great was someone who cared enough to write a new Ghostbusters story and then weave elements from the past into it. You can’t just swap out the actors and redo the same story and expect fans to rave about a new Ghostbusters story because it really wasn’t, and that’s a shame because if Sony had really been committed to doing a new Ghostbusters movie, they could’ve done it.
But instead we got this and it got overblown into this big gender war when it really was all just a case of bad writing. 🙁
P.S. Also, I get that it was intended to be a summer blockbuster and all because that’s how the first two were presented, but why not hold off and put them out in October to piggyback on the whole promotional season for Halloween instead???
Looking back, I guess I didn’t even bother writing about the first Michael Bay reboot – that’s how little I cared for it, but after watching Out of the Shadows last night with almost ZERO expectations … it’s almost as if somebody cared enough to set out and make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie this time!
I still think that the turtles themselves look kind of weird, and all I hear is Antonio Scarpachi whenever Splinter speaks, but for the rest, they actually did a really good job of tapping the classic turtles mythos by bringing in more of the bad guys and vehicles and even the Technodrome!
When I heard that Krang was trying to transport the Technodrome to Earth, I was just waiting on the edge of my seat for the turtle blimp to make an appearance … maybe in TMNT 3. 😉
I feel like a big difference between this movie and its predecessor was simply that this one was a lot more fun and didn’t nearly try to take itself as serious as the first one seemed to. I mean, let’s be honest – Bebop and Rocksteady looked kind of funny, much in the same way that the turtles themselves do in this version – but they ran with it anyways and didn’t try to make the characters something that they weren’t, and it worked.
We got to see a little Casey Jones, and even a little Baxter Stockman … though casting Tyler Perry did seem a bit odd … on top of a recasting of Shredder that just seemed to work a lot better, with armor that was a bit more relaxed than the band-aid-warranting monstrosity that they had him running around in for the previous movie!
I’m still not crazy on Megan Fox as April because both movies seemed to make her a bit more central to the plot than she really needs to be in a movie about mutant ninja turtles, but all in all it was a fun movie and it was actually enjoyable from beginning to end – something that you couldn’t exactly claim about the first Michael Bay concoction. 🙂
I didn’t really care for Man of Steel, but it was alright … at least it had a decent plot up until the Superman vs. Zod destroy everything battle scene that just seemed over the top even for a superhero movie. But this one was just blah … almost boring … frankly, it felt very forced.
First of all, I hated the characters – Henry Cavil returning as Superman had even less emotion than ever, and Batman … I don’t even think it was Ben Affleck’s fault – he was sort off irrelevant due to how polar opposite the character was written from what we’ve come to expect from Batman, especially after the epic trilogy that Christopher Nolan gave us.
So before, Batman used to be this ace investigator with all sorts of neat gadgets, and a set of morals, and he was all stealthy and altruistic … but this Batman is kind of an idiot because he steals his intel instead of doing any real work, he’s violent and vengeant, and he wears a suit of armor like he’s fucking Iron Man or Sir Galahad … WTF?!
How Batman even runs around in that massive suit is beyond me…
Oh yes, and Jesse Eisenberg – the guy who played Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network – should’ve stuck to Facebook because he was pretty awful here, too, like he was trying to play The Joker, but without any real plot.
I mean, if we didn’t all know that Lex Luthor is Superman’s arch-nemesis, I’m not sure if we would’ve had any real indication why he was fucking with him. Maniacal, but without any real backstory like The Joker to make us care.
Anyway, pretty much the whole plot was kind of a bore, which again is tough compared to the rich and vibrant storyline that we saw Christian Bale go through in The Dark Knight trilogy. I was actually surprised because just watching the blockbuster names scroll by in the opening credits, it really seemed like it should’ve been a knockout movie … but Jeremy Irons as Alfred??? The role literally felt beneath him the entire movie, and that’s after Michael Caine absolutely blew the role away!
Even Lawrence Fishburne, who I know played the same character in Man of Steel, just felt miscast and out of place – like somebody booked all of these grade A actors and then never thought that they actually needed a worthwhile script to read.
It seriously felt so weak, it was like a child wrote it – Batman should steal the kryptonite to use against Superman, then Lex should kidnap Superman’s girlfriend…AND HIS MOM, TOO – you know, just in case one isn’t enough! And can we bring General Zod back with those laser eyes just like Superman’s … but maybe make him look like one of the trolls out of The Hobbit because those were really sweet!
Oh yeah, and in the end we’re gonna kill off Superman. You know, because what better way to tease Justice League than by killing off their leader before they even have a chance to assemble or whatever their catchphrase is supposed to be.
I mean, seeing Wonder Woman was neat for about the first 15 seconds, but then to instantly have her infinitely stronger than Batman, too, kind of made you wonder why Batman was even in the movie in the first place. The only time he really stood a chance against Superman was after taking an uncharacteristic potshot and even that was only temporary, so what’s the point?
And as a final thought, I’m kind of tired of this whole political back and forth between humans and superheroes in these movies, too. When I watch a superhero story unfold, I don’t care what senators think, and I don’t want to see our heroes standing before Congress or signing contracts that we know they’re not going to abide by anyways. If there’s that much bullshit about humans not being able to weigh the good with the bad, let’s see some superhero action in other realms for a while and let the humans deal with shit on their own for a while!
Seeing Superman standing before a Congressional hearing was embarrassing, and he didn’t even have a chance to leave with a good quip like Black Widow always does.
Were the old Superman movies this bad, too? This kind of makes me curious to go back and watch the classic movies with Christopher Reeve because those are supposed to be great.
This version, sadly, was not.
It has been billed as The Ultimate Superhero Movie, meant to put viewers in the middle of the action like never before … and that was certainly an understatement, to say the least!
It started out like any other Marvel movie – we watched as Galactus slowly gained powers while the Avengers muddled about … a little 3D here, a bit of audience interaction there … until one way or another, the audience itself found ourselves all gaining mild superpowers – mostly limited flight or something non-threatening like that…
The battle started in some sort of mall and was a lot like the Spider-Man ride over at Universal Studios where Spider-Man keeps warning the guests to stay out of the way because it’s too dangerous. We seemed to spend most of our time flying around the area, dodging projectiles and trying to get a better vantage point to view what was happening on top of shelves or buildings or whatever they were. It was after the Avengers themselves were nearly defeated by Galactus that things really took a turn for the worse and we saw the ultimate angle that the show had been boasting about.
Our audience watched in awe as the theater itself seemed to open up into a much larger area that combined the audiences of several theaters together while we watched Galactus himself grow to the size of a small building before turning his attention to us and causing the audiences to run and scatter. Balloons fell from the ceiling, which we were told to pop in search of power-ups that could help us to defeat Galactus, though it was tough to focus on them because the giant would randomly pop up from behind the buildings that had appeared for us to take shelter behind, glaring down at us menacingly as we did whatever we could to avoid his gaze.
Occasionally if we were lucky enough to make it up to a rooftop, we could see the likes of Iron Man and Thor and Captain America planning a new assault on our foe, though it always seemed to fall short as he just continued growing larger and more powerful still…
At one point I actually found myself crawling underneath one of the buildings to evade detection, as the buildings in real life seemed to be inflatable like the decorations people put outside of their houses for Halloween and Christmas. Making my way to the back of the stadium, I frantically saw a corridor in the rafters and flew up high to take shelter in what appeared to be a storage area where a couple of other audience members had already taken refuge.
It was then that we all watched through the cracks as Galactus gathered his power into a laser that fired from his head in all directions at once, pretty much taking out every superhero around him as he slowly stormed out of the building, though we were lucky to miss his death rays on account of being all cowardly and hiding and whatnot!
Eventually as he disappeared into the distance, several of us decided to follow just to see what would happen next, commenting how the technology that enabled what we were watching was neat, however due to how expansive the arena was we really had no idea what the actual plot of the story was at that point because we weren’t always able to keep our eyes and ears on the main heroes on account of all of the running that we did ourselves.
In fact, when we finally reached the next area where the heroes had planned to confront Galactus one more time, by the time we arrived the entire scheme was actually in motion and although it looked like maybe some of the audience members were enlisted to help, it was still hard to tell.
What we thought was the last confrontation took place on a rooftop that I was able to fly up to see just as Iron Man was finishing shrinking Galactus down to a normal size and disassembling him, thus stripping him of his powers … though one way or another, Galactus enjoyed one last laugh as the heroes were celebrating their victory by emitting his rays one last time – now weak enough not to injure, but instead to strip the audience of the mild superpowers that they had gained at the beginning of the show.
…of course, the main heroes were able to avoid this blast…
The dream ended with masses of us walking back to where we first starting watching this epic movie, discussing both the highs and the lows, with just about everyone agreeing that it was definitely cool, though we all needed to watch it again in a normal theater to actually be able to follow along with the story that we had just participated in ourselves! 😕
Great movie – Will Smith nailed the accent to a T and I was surprisingly engaged despite not caring the least bit about sports, however we can’t really discuss this movie without bringing up the elephant in the room…
Why in the world do we still play football if it’s so freaking dangerous?!?!?!
As we saw the doctor’s research pan out and then begin to hit the public eye, it almost began an eerie foreshadowing of how the movie was ultimately going to end because clearly with the NFL still raking in billions every year, it’s not like this research that was published more than a decade ago has had any sort of significant impact on the perception and enjoyment of American football across the country.
Thankfully the story ended somewhat happily with Dr. Omalu continuing his investigative passion after turning down a lucrative government job offer, despite the league’s dumbfounding response where they kind of, sort of listened, but at the end of the day they’ve settled lawsuits that they tried to cover up the impact of concussions without actually taking any steps forward to help reduce the impact in the future!!!
I guess that’s what I was waiting to hear, even if just in the closing commentary before the credits, that perhaps new advancements in helmet technology or something was working hard to prevent these injuries from devastating the players after they’ve left their prime, but while they’re still enjoying their hard-earned retirement … and yet nothing of the sort was really offered up in that regard, which is sad because if you do the math, figure that it’s roughly a few hundred players in the NFL at a time taking these deadly risks every game, and millions of fans idolize the sport while billions of dollars are being made in the process…
…but still, is all of that worth it if the very players you’re cheering on the fields are literally killing themselves for the sport of the game?
I mean, it quickly becomes a complicated debate because if we’re being honest here – most of us do things that are bad for us all of the time, whether it’s not taking care of our health or driving less than responsibly on the road or even things like substance abuse, etc… We all take risks that gamble with lives, be it out of laziness or in exchange for pleasure or addiction, and so from that angle when you consider just how passionate people are about this sport, it’s not really a surprise that findings that could/should challenge the viability of the game wouldn’t exactly be greeted with open arms if it could mean having to find something else to do on Sunday nights.
It’s mostly just a tragic tale for me, not being in the slightest bit vested in football myself, aside from in general just not wanting to hear of people dying of preventable diseases, that is. It seems like common sense to me – brain fragile, don’t bash brain into other brains – but then again, there are plenty of other things that I don’t get about professional sports like the amount of public money that gets dumped into building new stadiums, only to have the teams blackout games for local viewers if the stands don’t get filled, but I digress.
Final thoughts – fantastic movie, amazing performance by Will Smith, and there’s no way my kids are going to play football without one hell of a fight. 🙁
Let’s be honest – Ryan Reynolds’ other superhero role as Green Lantern was kind of awful … they even elude to this in Deadpool … but after so many great movies between the Avengers and X-Men franchises lately, they needed to do something special with Deadpool to make it stand out because I think if it had taken a more serious approach, it probably never would’ve held a candle to the likes of Captain America and Iron Man…
…but instead, this movie ended up being a fucking riot, which is probably how good, old Deadpool himself would’ve referred to it and was most definitely part of this psychotic assassin’s charm. 😉
If I had to make but a single critique of this movie, I guess I’d say that when it ended it kind of felt like it ran a bit short … and it was about 20-30 minutes shorter than some of the other superhero movies we’ve seen lately … but honestly I think that was probably more just a result of the movie’s use of flashbacks to tell the story, which in this case was really kind of genius because they knew that they needed to lead on a killer action scene that the story sequentially didn’t have … so telling it sort of MIDDLE – BEGINNING – END actually worked well.
All in all, I really enjoyed Deadpool because not every superhero movie can be a Cap or an Iron Man, and these studios have got to try some different approaches to telling comic book stories if they’re going to continue kicking them out as fast as they have been in the past. With these universes being so vast and (hopefully) plenty of fans being so god-awfully tired of hearing the origin stories for Wolverine and Spider-Man over and over again, movies like this give me hope that they might not be gunning every single superhero for that same cookie cutter template.
Not to mention the fact that Deadpool ran a budget of nearly 1/3 of the average superhero movie, yet so far as been more successful than just about any of the recents – save Avengers 2!
The Merc with a Mouth may not be the right formula for every superhero, but hey – we’ve had our share of civilized men in tights lately – maybe we were overdue for a foul-mouthed, slightly less bad guy who just enjoys killing people and pushing the envelope. 😉
Definitely not a movie for kids, but honestly, my kid’s going to have to be a teenager before he sees most of these films, so no real difference there.
Ok, in all seriousness, it’s probably the best movie from last year that I’ve watched, too.
In fact, I’ve had this thing sitting here for a couple of weeks but we never felt like we were really in the mood for it I think because we thought it was more of a serious movie like Interstellar (which sucked), but as it turns out, The Martian was very much the opposite of Interstellar because it was fun, it featured science that actually sounded like it made sense, and Matt Damon didn’t end up being kind of a dick hole at the end, either! 😛
I mean, it’s no secret that Matt Damon is who really sold this movie because he’s the one who was on screen 80% of the time and his delivery was spot-on – they really did a good job of making a character with the desperation to live who never gave up. It’s why his monologue to close the movie out sent shivers down your spine – because you literally just watched this guy live every word he was preaching to the next class of astronauts going to Mars…
“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”
I especially loved the humor that he interjected into what otherwise could’ve been a pretty depressing tale of being stranded 140 million miles from home. “The greatest botanist on this planet” … “space pirate” … “I’d get to fly around like Iron Man” – he just had some fantastic dialog that helped really turn an otherwise dreary situation into something much more anxiously motivated because just as I was curious to see what he’d do next, I was equally terrified each time something would go wrong because really, how many things can go wrong while you’re stranded on another planet?!
Turns out a lot of things can go wrong, but in the face of disaster you just need to keep going.
It was a sweet movie and I can see myself watching bits and pieces of this one a bunch in the future. $200 billion to rescue Matt Damon from Mars? I think we got ourselves bargain this time!
So I noticed something interesting late this evening while I was watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation whilst buried under a mountain of kleenex. I’d never really thought much about it before because it’s really only featured in the opening scene, but the Family Truckster – the iconic mode of transport that takes the family to Wally World in the first Vacation movie – isn’t actually the same car as the one in the first movie!
Now maybe this is completely intentional, but because I’ve got plenty of cough syrup coursing through my veins *I* thought it was an interesting, fun little fact. And granted, the movies themselves were released 6 years apart, so it could be argued that of course it’s a new car, although it seems like my own family growing up milked our family Oldsmobile for far longer than that.
The Truckster that made its cameo in this year’s Vacation sequel in fact was the original car, or at least one that looked a lot like it, so … that!
Anyways, here’s the original…
And here’s the version from Christmas Vacation, which appears to just be some sort of Ford Taurus painted to resemble the unmatchable Family Truckster…
I tell you, it really broke the continuity for me to see all of those sleek and sexy curves of the Taurus in place of the blocky, ton of bricks-exterior that the original Truckster was known for. Ok, so not really, but cough syrup will do strange things to a man, so frankly you’re lucky your even getting advent blog posts at all right now!
♫ Holiday ro-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ad, holiday ro-o-o-o-o-o-ad… ♫