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Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Quaid’

Today’s movie(s) review is for each / both the “Midway” movies – the first from 1976 and the second from last year (2019).  Both movies are “epic” war movies with ensemble casts.  Both try to give a “feel” for each combatant (Japanese and American).  And, both are – at best – mediocre in terms of popular and professional reviews.  Anyway, here goes…
Midway (1976) — movie review
This film is almost entirely a male cast.  The only significant female role is Christina Kokubo playing the fiance of a (fictional) naval pilot.  The movie hosts a number of (for that time) big name movie stars on both sides of the battle lines, including: American side: Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Glenn Ford, Ed Nelson, Hal Holbrook, Robert Mitchum, Cliff Robertson, and Robert Wagner; and, Japanese side: Toshiro Mifune, James Shigeta, Pat Morita, John Fujioka, and Robert Ito.  With the possible exception of Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi in the “Karate Kid” movie series, most of these actors will (probably) be unknown to anyone under 30 years of age as most have been dead or retired for over 20 years.
This movie has two basic story lines.  The main one, of course, is the naval battle.  The second, which I guess is meant to create character sympathy, is a fictional story about a father and son who are naval pilots and their “family issues”.  Other than the overly-strict father (Heston) trope common to military movie / stories, there is also the introduction of an inter-racial love story between a Japanese-American young lady (Kokubo) who is about to be incarcerated (internment for the war) with her family, who is also not allowed to marry the son / naval pilot (played by Edward Albert).
The movie incorporates a lot of stock footage from World War II, most of which is not from the actual battle.  Anyway, the “Battle of Midway” is widely considered the turning point of the naval battles in the Pacific theater.  It marked a decisive victory for the Allied forces from which the Japanese forces never recovered.
As a small point here…  In my humble opinion, the Battle of the Coral Sea (which is mentioned in both movies) was actually the turning point, but it was not a “decisive” U.S. victory, so history almost unanimously ranks Midway as the more significant battle.
So, is this movie any good?  Is it entertaining (even if not entirely accurate)?  Why is it considered “blah” by viewers and reviewers?  I have distinct memories of first seeing this movie at a theater, so I viewed it while I was in the Army (1974-1978).  I mention this to answer the third question first.  In the 1970’s, the U.S. was just getting out of Vietnam and there was a significant amount of backlash against our participation there and a corresponding backlash against the glorification of past wars.  Both of these trends would culminate in the “Rambo” genre movies which began emerging in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
So, is this movie any good?  Yes.  Is it accurate?  Well, it had the correct combatants, the correct time line and the correct result.  Most everything else I put down to artistic license and limited special effects.  Entertaining?  Yes, but I like action movies and war epics, so I’m a biased audience.
Final recommendation: moderate to good.  Come for the “old Hollywood” and stay for the so-so history lesson.  One caution to younger viewers: many of you will come away thinking either these guys can’t act or they are mailing it in.  My vote is the latter, but mostly because I like(ed) most of the geezers in this version when they were in other (mostly younger) roles.
Midway (2019) — movie review
This second review is for last year’s remake.  As mentioned above, another ensemble cast: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Tadanobu Asano, and Woody Harrelson.  I’m not sure why, but while watching this version my initial reaction was: “they picked a lot younger cast.”
As with the earlier version, this movie chose to run parallel story lines to create character interest (drama).  This movie chose three lines, though, instead of two.  Again, a pilot love story, blah, blah, blah, “those who sit and wait”.  The second is about an Intel Officer who figures out what’s going to happen (Edwin Layton – who was “kind of” the basis for the composite fictional character played by Heston in the earlier version).  And, then of course, the battle / result.  This movie also provides a view of leadership on both sides of the conflict as we lead up to and then throughout the battle.
Is this movie any good?  Yes!  Is it accurate?  Again, so-so.  Like the first, it gets most of the main stuff correct.  Is it entertaining?  Yes!  Much more so than the 1976 version.  To begin with, the special effects are FAR superior.  Gosh, what a surprise…  Seriously, though, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the battle scenes almost appeared to me to be in 3D.  Of course, I’m watching this movie on a 48-inch screen from 2.5 feet away and not at a big screen theater, but still…  I thought most of the photography was excellent and I don’t remember ever thinking: “CGI this.  Or, CGI that.”  It looked like I was watching the action through a window.  So, how was the acting?  Again, FAR superior to the earlier version.  Some of the acting may not have been very good, but I didn’t think it was because they were mailing in the performance.  I would add – in particular – I have never been a fan of Woody Harrelson, but he played a much better Admiral Nimitz in this version than Henry Fonda did in the original.  (Just my opinion…)
Final recommendation: Good to strong.  The camera / photography was very good.  The acting was pretty good.  I find “epic” war movies very difficult to get right (as a viewer / fan of the genre).  The action scenes (independent of the effects) were good.  And, I think they got most of the main history points correct, too.  I don’t usually prefer remakes, but this is the much better of the two versions.
Final thought:  I’ve owned the DVD of the 1976 version for over a decade and watch it every three or four years.  I bought it when I went through a Henry Fonda kick after re-watching “On Golden Pond“.  I will pick up a copy of the 2019 version when the price point drops to my range ($5 – $6).  Heck, I may even pick up a streaming version of the original if it ever makes it’s way to my preferred supplier.  Then I can binge them both like I did this time!
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On This Day In:
2019 Speaking Of #45
2018 A Higher Loyalty
RIP – Our Silver Lady
2017 Slowly Cutting Their Own Throats
2016 Man’s Advantage Over God
2015 Deeply
2014 Hi-Yo Silver, Away!
2013 Warning:
2012 Thinking About Beauty
2011 A Founding Father’s Argument Against Public Funding Of Religious Education
Weekend Update
So Far, So Good

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Legion” (2010) — movie review
Well, I’ve had this bundle for ages now and I’ve finally finished viewing the “Fallen Angel 3-Movie Collection” which I bought on Vudu.  The first movie I watched was “Priest“.  I had already seen it at the theater and offered my thoughts (review here) several years ago (2011).  I bought the “collection” (on discount) quite awhile back, and re-watched “Priest“, but just never got around to the other two.
So, I finally watched “Gabriel” (review here) this week and posted my comments (“so-so”), and now I’ve (again) finally watched the last film: “Legion“.
Legion” stars Paul Bettany as the “fallen” Archangel Michael, Kevin Durand as the “obedient” Archangel Gabriel, Lucas Black as Jeep Hanson (the “protector”), Tyrese Gibson as Kyle Williams (a random guy who helps), Adrianne Palicki as Charlie (the mother of the “savior” baby), Kate Walsh as Sandra Anderson (a “bad” mother), Willa Holland as Audrey Anderson (the “bad” daughter with the heart of gold), and Dennis Quaid as Bob Hanson (Jeep’s dad and the owner of a diner / gas station in the middle of nowhere).
Charlie is 8-months pregnant and God is unhappy with humanity and wants to wipe everyone out and start again.  (There’s no reason why.  Just go with it…)  God commands Michael to kill the unborn baby and Michael refuses and goes to Earth to protect the mother / baby.  God sends angels in the form of possessed / zombified humans to kill all of humanity.  Blah, blah, blah.  Motley crew gathers at the diner (“Paradise Flats”) and fights off the zombies with machine guns, anti-tank weapons and hand-to-hand combat.  It’s not “really” a martial arts movie as much as a horror / drama.  Blah, blah, blah.  Baby is born, Michael and Gabriel have the big final showdown and happy ending: “Keep the faith!”
So, is this movie any good?  How about he action / horror?  What about the religious aspects?  Was it at least entertaining?  Yes, so-so, laughable, but strangely, yes, it was entertaining.  Did I mention strangely?  (I think so…  Yes, I did.)  I’m not sure why, but the movie felt better explained overall than “Gabriel“, nothing specific.  Maybe, just maybe, I liked it because I think I enjoy watching Bettany.  I can’t figure out if he’s a good actor or if he’s just John Wayne, playing John Wayne again.  Of course I mean Bettany playing Bettany again.
Final recommendation: moderate but not quite strong.  I enjoyed this movie, but it wasn’t a “good” movie.  It’s a much better movie than “Gabriel”, but not as good as “Priest”.  I will say Gibson and Quaid were very good in their supporting roles.  I was surprised to see two more “big-name” actors in this kind of movie.
So, not a strong horror movie.  An okay action movie with some above average (for this genre) supporting actors / roles.  Not advisable for children or impressionable youth.  Language, too violent and bloody gore.  It’s rated: “R”.
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On This Day In:
2018 Nothing To Build On
2017 This One Is…
2016 Happy Is…
2015 Dare Yourself To
2014 Damned If You Do…
2013 On A Rainy Sunday
2012 Not Sure Anymore
2011 But What Does It Cost?
2009 Another Day, Another Diet…

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There is something about a web site which claims as its purpose:  “To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.”  To find out more and to stretch your mind, visit www.edge.org.  You’ll be glad you did…  This site may not have the breadth or humor of www.ted.com, but it will definitely make you think.
Today’s movie reviews include a repeat (“X-men: First Class“), a new viewing (“Clash Of The Titans“) and a first viewing of a remake (“The Flight Of The Phoenix“).
What is left to be re-said about this reboot of the X-men franchise.  This is probably the third time I’ve watched it and it is the best of the bunch (the X-men franchise).  I even give it an edge over “Wolverine: Origins” which was my previous favorite.  If they can keep up the story quality (and acting), this franchise can easily go another 10 years.  The evolution of Magneto into an enemy of humanity (as opposed to simply an evil person) is quite deep (and fascinating).  The performances by Michael Fassbender (as Magneto) and Kevin Bacon (as Sebastian Shaw) easily dominate the movie.  The interesting twist (level of depth) is that Magneto grows up to hate humans because he believes Shaw is evil and a human, when in fact, Shaw is a mutant who has complete disregard for humans because he is a mutant and believes himself to be superior (even to other mutants).
This is a movie I can watch over and over again and I highly recommend it.
I was sure I first saw “Clash Of The Titans” when I was a child, but I honestly didn’t remember it.  This is, quite frankly, an incredibly bad movie.  The casting is bad and the acting is worse.  The movie has two redeeming features: it does follow the Greek myths (on which it is based) more closely than the average Hollywood movie, and for its day, the stop-action special effects (by Ray Harryhausen) are quite good.  I would still rate the stop-action from “Jason And The Argonauts” better though.  Almost all of the other special effects are as bad as the acting.  I was shocked to find out the movie was released in 1981!!  Considering “Jason” was made in 1963, one would have assumed there was greater improvements in the technology in almost 20 years.  I can only attribute the poor effects to the producers having spent too much money on the big names in the cast.  Money, I add, which was wasted as I struggle to find a single decent performance (and this from a cast including Laurence Olivier).
Interestingly, even the title is incorrect.  This is not a “clash of titans” as the movie implies.  To begin with the “Kracken” is a Norse myth, not Greek, and Medusa was a human, turned into an evil creature by a jealous goddess.  Neither were Titans from Greek mythology.  And finally, the “clash” is about 10 seconds, at the end of a two hour movie.  Anyway, like I said this movie is only “based” on Greek myth – the adventures of Perseus.
The reason I bought the DVD was because there was a re-make done recently and its sequel is due out soon.  I was intending to pick up the re-make prior to going to see the sequel.  I will probably still do that, but I certainly have much lower expectations now.  Unless you are really a stop-action special effects fan, this movie is a complete waste of time.
The third movie I’m reviewing is “Flight Of The Phoenix“.  This is a 2004 remake of the 1965 movie by the same name (well, actually “The Flight Of The Phoenix“).   I now own both versions, although I haven’t watched the original in some time.  What starts out as a typical disaster movie turns out to be a better than average study in human dynamics when faced with extreme stress (yeah, I know, that’s what all “disaster movies” are supposed to be about).  This version has the addition of a female in the cast – I’m not sure why as there is no particular advantage or plot twist involving her.  This movie also does the politically correct thing of adding minorities in many of the roles.  In the original, the cast is multi-national as opposed to multi-racial.  The slight twist is the addition of “class” difference where Hugh Laurie plays a “valuable” management type as opposed to the average worker.  It’s interesting that this plays a more significant role in the movie than does the multi-gender or multi-racial aspects.
As if surviving in the desert isn’t bad enough, this re-make version adds in a final sequence attack by roaming bandits.  Setting aside the unlikeliness of bandits wandering around in the middle of the desert, the odds of them stumbling on the crashed crew is so improbable as to boggle all credulity.  But, what the heck, in a disaster/survival movie – in for a penny (desert, storms, crashes), in for a pound (roving bandits with motor cycles).  To be honest, I kept waiting for someone to say, “Oh, heck!  A brother never survives this shit in the movies…”
The ending in the original is MUCH better than in the re-make which is entirely Hollywood “happily ever after”.  Anyway, I am a Dennis Quaid fan and I liked this version – so – recommended!!  Now I’ve got to go watch the original with Jimmy Stewart!!
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Yesterday was Veteran’s Day and the DVD release of Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows Part 2.  I had the day off of work so I went to Fry’s to pick up a copy.  Naturally, without adult supervision I purchased a bunch of other DVDs as well.  (To make up for it, I spent more money taking Hil, Bec and Sarah out for dinner to our local Korean BBQ.  A good meal was had by all.)  Needless to say, you’ll be seeing more of my reviews in the next few weeks…
Incidentally, the restaurant is: Korean Bulgogi House, 2035 Salvio St, Concord, CA 94520, Ph: (925) 691-0101.  The food is tasty, reasonable prices and decent portions – highly recommended!
Anyway, after dinner, we settled in to watch HP and then Bec and I watched Pride & Prejudice.
Movie review:
I’ve already reviewed HP – Deathly Hallows Part 2 (see here), so just a few more comments.  First, the contrast of 2D and 3D.  I much prefered the DVD 2D version.  I looked for the blurring I mentioned in my initial review and didn’t notice it.  Second (and otherwise), the movie did NOT translate to the smaller screen very well.  To be fair, our home screen is only 48 inches and we were sitting a good 8-10 feet from the screen, so it may be different if larger or closer.  I’ll almost certainly watch it again on my PC, so that may resolve the issue.  My PC screen is 32 inches, but I’m literally three feet away (arms length).  All in all, I really enjoyed the movie the second time around and look forward to watching it more over time.  I’m hoping to just settle in one weekend and have an HP marathon.  It may even prompt me to re-read the book series.  (Oh yeah, Longbottom rocks!)
The second movie was Pride & Prejudice (2005) staring  Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.  I’ve seen this movie several times and I absolutely love it!  Obviously, the camera loves Knightley, but I think Macfadyen is terrific in the role of Mr. Darcy and, for me, almost steals the movie.  He’s not great looking in a Tom Cruise “pretty boy Hollywood” style, but ruggedly handsome in a Dennis Quaid / Jim Caviezel style.  I think the chemistry between them (Knightley and Macfadyen, not Quaid and Caviezel) really makes to movie.  I also think the details in the movie make it great.  For example, when the characters walk across the fields they end up with clothes soaked for about a foot up their skirts and capes and a water line that’s higher than the mud line.  The details in the main houses are also really minute, which makes me look for them again and again.  There is one scene where the house staff are covering up a table when the master of the house leaves and they stoop to brush off / smooth out any wrinkles on the sheet.   That’s the kind of detail which makes filming a period piece so interesting to me.
Both movies are strong recommendations!!
By the way, if you like Jim Caviezel, you’ll enjoy checking out “Person of Interest” – his new TV series on CBS.
I’m debating with myself whether I should set up a separate page to track the movies I’m reviewing…  I’m tempted, but still kicking it around.  I think I need a book review page first…  We’ll see.
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