Sequel

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Year: 1982
Directed By: Nicholas Meyer
Written By: Harve Bennett and Jack B Sowards, Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s always been said that the even numbered Star Trek films are the good ones while the odd numbered films are not. I don’t think this is true but these first two films certainly hold up the theory. The first film wasn’t very well received and it was impossibly boring. Then this even numbered sequel came along and blew everybody away. This one had excitement, revenge, and tragedy all rolled into one. It’s the foundation of the entire series because another slow moving Star Trek movie would have effectively killed the franchise.

Gene Roddenberry immediately started work on the sequel following the release of the first film. It turned out that the studio had a different idea in mind as they blamed Roddenberry for the failure of the first film. Not only was the first film poorly received but it went way over budget too. Roddenberry’s idea was scrapped along with Roddenberry himself who was relegated to the role of “Executive Consultant” for the film. With Roddenberry out of the way the film was put in the hands of a producer who had never seen the show before, Harve Bennett. He proceeded to watch all Star Trek episodes and centered on the episode featuring Khan as a the direction for the next film.

I have never seen the original episode that featured Khan but I think it was one of the best ideas that any of the films have had for a story. Most of the films are independent stories with no connection to the television series they are based on beyond the characters. I think the best films in the entire series are the ones that tie to the show. Those movies of course being this one and the eighth installment featuring the Borg. I didn’t really care for the reboot sequel going back to this story line instead of coming up with something new but I’ll get to that in time.

I’m always a sucker for a good bad guy and Khan really fits the bill. He’s intelligent, powerful, and really pissed off. He has languished away in a wasteland for decades with nothing but misfortune to spurn him on. He is so full of anger and out for revenge. In all his bare chested prowess Ricardo Montalban gave an incredible performance. I love how he is always quoting Moby Dick as it is one of the most famous revenge stories in literature, and in this case it makes sense. I am unfamiliar with any of Montalban’s other work but this performance alone has always left an impression on me. I love how intimidating he is as an opponent to Captain Kirk. There is no single villain throughout this entire series that can even come close to Khan, and he’s one of the biggest reasons this movie is such a fan favorite.

This movie is also a fan favorite because it features some of the best space battles of any of the films. When Khan initially ambushes the Enterprise he delivers such a crippling blow. It puts Kirk in the very situation he was overseeing with Saavik in the beginning of the film. When she was in the Kobayashi Maru training protocol facing a no win scenario. One of my favorite lines comes after this first attack when Khan makes demands to Kirk. Captain Kirk asks how he knows Khan will keep his word to which he replies, “Oh, I’ve given you no word to keep, Admiral. In my judgment, you simply have no alternative.” Such a great bad guy. The second battle between Kirk and Khan was even better but came at the greatest of costs.

Much like the first film it was difficult to get Leonard Nimoy on board for a second film. He agreed to the part after being promised he would be killed off in a blaze of glory. What a glorious death it was too. Spock’s selfless sacrifice saved everyone else and made for a very emotionally compelling scene. Spock and Kirk’s final conversation as Spock dies is some of the finest dialogue written in the entire series. It was a bold move to kill off the most popular character. They didn’t just kill him off either but they did so in such dramatic fashion. Nimoy was so impressed with the final product that he didn’t just agree to return but wanted to get behind camera himself and direct it.

Nobody really has to die when science fiction is involved, you just have to be clever about it. Spock didn’t stay dead for long with the studio announcing before this movie was even released that he would be back. This film marks the beginning of a three film story line and the next film picks up directly where this one left off. Even beginning with footage of the ending of this film.

There aren’t many Star Trek films you can point to and say “that’s what it’s all about.” Not many glowing examples that can explain the more than fifty year fascination with Star Trek. This movie is one of the few you can have someone watch and maybe they’ll understand. It’s the undisputed best movie featuring the original cast. I think this movie is worth the time of not only Trekkies but the wider audience out there. This isn’t just a cool Star Trek movie, this is a cool movie plain and simple.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

 

 

Spider-Man 3

Year: 2007
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, and Alvin Sargent. Based on characters creasted by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

RYAN’S REVIEW

Everybody hated this movie but I always liked it because it was everything I wanted out of a Spider-Man movie. I am a sucker for the effects. I love to see that cool Spider-Man shit and this movie is overloaded with cool Spider-Man shit. Yeah Topher Grace was a lame choice for Eddie Brock but beyond that I don’t know what everyone hated so much. I liked the black suit, I liked the story overloaded with villains, and I loved seeing all these characters together again for a third go round. The biggest problem I had with it was that some of the fight scenes featured Peter doing the fighting instead of Spider-Man.

They put too much thought into the second movie for me. Yeah it was cool but I loathed sitting through all the slow moving character development while I was waiting for Spider-Man to be swinging through the streets. This movie featured three villains, and because of that there was tons of Spider-Man swinging around and being awesome. Of the three films this movie featured some of the coolest Spider-Man sequences and that’s all I have ever really cared about in this franchise. In 2007 if I wanted to see a serious movie I’d check out No Country for Old Men, when I wanted to see something fun and awesome I went to see this one. While plenty were disappointed I was pleased cause I got exactly what I wanted.

This movie still preceded the MCU and while plenty of movies were trying to recreate the success of Spider-Man nothing came close to this franchise even the third time around. Even though this movie wasn’t well received it still managed to be the highest grossing film of the year. That’s the number one reason they shouldn’t have rebooted this franchise but followed through with the idea for a fourth film. There was no reason to scrap a successful franchise in favor of a reboot nobody wanted. It still frustrates me to this day. While the character would have needed to be rebooted eventually in order to enter the MCU we still could have gotten another couple of cool films before that took place.

People can hate on this movie all they want, I will always think they are wrong. Spider-Man was already awesome enough but when they put him in that black suit he got even cooler. In the black suit his movements are so fluid and so much more powerful. I love when he is doing back flips on the side of a building and I love when he nosedives straight toward the ground before swinging up at the last second. This movie is full of awesome Spider-Man moments. The visuals of him saving Gwen Stacy from the crane accident are simply spectacular.

I think we can all admit that where this movie went wrong was casting Topher Grace as Eddie Brock. While I’ve read Topher Grace put on an impressive 20 something pounds to play the part that hardly matters when you only weigh 100 pounds to begin with. Eddie Brock is supposed to be a bulky and intimidating figure. Grace just didn’t fit the bill, but I still thought Venom was cool. He was forced into the story by the studio but I wasn’t disappointed by it. It only meant there was more Spider-Man action to be had.

I have also heard many people criticize the scene when Peter is dancing around the streets. Yeah it’s totally lame but it wasn’t so bad it sullied my opinion of the film. I looked at is as “oh, Peter is being dorky again, even when trying to be cool.” I saw it as part of the character and never gave it a second thought. That didn’t annoy me near as much as being forced into seeing The Sandman as kind of a good guy. I like bad guys to be just that, bad guys. Why am I supposed to feel sorry for this guy? The Sandman proved to be a pretty cool bad guy when the action started but far too often we are having his stupid sob story shoved down our throat. He keeps talking about not being a bad guy but then keeps breaking the law, totally lame.

It’s pretty cool to finally see Harry step up and take over his father’s mantle as the Green Goblin. I thought he was great as a bad guy and as a good guy in this movie. While we’re supposed to feel sorry for this criminal sob story of a Sandman Harry manages to win us back by actually doing the right thing. In the end of the movie the Sandman is still wreaking havoc for some disillusioned reason while Harry swallows his pride to fight the good fight. The action scenes with he and Spidey fighting in tandem are really exciting.

I remember that following this movie the studio did have a fourth film planned with everyone reprising their roles. If I remember correctly the story would have features John Malkovich playing the Vulture. I think the pressure the studio was putting on Sam Raimi had something to do with him pulling out of the project and then it all fell apart. When Raimi left the project the whole thing was scrapped and they announced the reboot. The rest is history as the new franchise never achieved the success of its predecessor and ultimately Sony decided to throw in the towel and start over again in conjunction with Marvel.

I miss this franchise and would have loved to see it continue beyond this third film. However this turned out to be the end of it and while plenty of people were disappointed I still stand behind it. I thought it was a good movie and I think it’s worth your time to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stargate (1994)

 

 

 

Spider-Man 2

Year: 2004
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Written By: Four different writers, based on characters created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

RYAN’S REVIEW

This has always been acclaimed as a really exceptional sequel but I have always thought it was overrated. It’s a cool movie but it has too much story and not enough action. It does a great job of character development and takes us deeper with all the main characters but that’s never been what I wanted. It makes for a great story but I always want more excitement in a sequel. I want any sequel to equal more of everything you loved about the first. I have simply never felt like this movie capitalized on that opportunity.

In the world of sequels this movie is much more Godfather II and not enough Terminator 2. By that I mean that it’s boring, at times in this case at least. This is a long superhero movie and there is not nearly enough action to break up the long retarding points. The Godfather II is impossibly long and devoid of action whereas I have no idea how long Terminator 2 is. Nobody knows how long it is without checking the runtime because it’s so exciting the time flies by.

This movie has some really fantastic fight scenes but there just weren’t enough of them. I criticize this movie but that’s not meant to suggest I don’t respect it. This movie has some seriously awesome Spidey action. You just have to sit through all his internal struggles in order to see them and that takes forever.

I know that it came straight out of the comic but I have always hated the segment when Peter quits being Spider-Man. It’s great for Peter to get his life in order and it makes for a nice story but it only gets in the way of Spider-Man time. I don’t care if Peter meets his personal obligations. I want to see Spider-Man swinging through the street and webbing up bad guys.

I think one of the most important themes in Spider-Man has always been that it’s hard to be a superhero. It takes sacrifice to do what’s right and an honorable character to make the decision to do it. This movie really captures that quality of the character. Not only is it hard to be a superhero but nothing ever goes Peter’s way. Poor Peter, the love of his life is marrying someone else, his best friend is mad at him, people can’t walk by without bumping into him or knocking his stuff to the ground. Big deal, you have to counterbalance all that stuff that sucks with the fact that you get to be Spider-Man.

While everybody else was beaming over this movie I was twitching with growing frustration because I just wanted to see Spider-Man doing his thing. However, when the movie finally does get to the action it does not disappoint. When I was in college I would sometimes pop in the DVD of this film and just skip to the fight scenes. I would watch the battles between Spidey and Doc Ock over and over again because they were awesome. As frustrated as I have been with this movie I still deny it nothing. It was better than the first one and when it got going it went somewhere exciting.

This movie was just as impressive as its predecessor when it came to box office returns and that was an exciting thing to watch. The first film had set records and this one broke them as Spider-Man proved to be the most lucrative franchise since Star Wars. I have always had an interest in box office statistics and that interest made this movie even more exciting for me as a fan.

While my overall tone here has been disappointment that isn’t altogether accurate. Do I wish the movie had more action? Yes, but I think the action that is on the table lived up to my expectations as a fan. This wasn’t my favorite Spider-Man film but it was a good movie nonetheless.

Alfred Molina made for a great Doctor Octopus and it was awesome to see the character on screen. The effects used to make his tentacles move were very well done and he looked fantastic in fight scenes with Spider-Man. I do wish they had given the character a different ending because it would have been great for him to have the potential to return. It sucks seeing the same thing done again but I would still love to see a new version of Doc Ock eventually. He’s just too cool a villain to sit on the sidelines forever. It would be great for him to be a new villain introduced into the MCU.

Aside from the lack of action the only problem I had with this movie was Spider-Man takes his mask off far too much. Spidey was unmasked frequently in the comics but everyone always assumed he was an impostor when they saw Peter Parker. This would explain to them how Spider-Man was defeated at all because it wasn’t the real Spider-Man. In this movie he is just taking that mask off far too much. Spider-Man’s secret identity is one of the most important aspects of his character because his villains are always after Aunt May or one of his girlfriends.

For most people this sequel outshined the original and they loved it. I like it but do not agree. That isn’t to say it’s not a good movie though, I personally just wanted something different. Nevertheless this is a movie that is worth your time to see if for no other reason than to see some really awesome fight scenes.

NEXT MOVIE: Spider-Man 3 (2007)

 

Iron Man 3

Year: 2013
Directed By: Shane Black
Written By: Drew Pearce and Shane Black

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have been a little obsessed with the MCU lately. Along with Iron Man 2 I revisited this film too as it is the only other movie within the MCU that we didn’t own a copy of. Having not added the second film to the collection I didn’t add this one either because I can’t stand gaps within trilogies even if one of the films isn’t very good. When this movie came out I didn’t think it was good enough to warrant purchasing both films. I thought it was OK when it was released and I’ll maintain that impression after seeing it again. This movie is just OK and far from the best of the bunch when it comes to the 14 movies now within the MCU.

I remember when this film came out the tagline was something like “does the suit make the man or the man make the suit.” That was a huge theme within this movie as Tony again spends far too much time as Tony and not enough as Iron Man. It’s cool that Tony Stark can still be heroic without his armor but I didn’t go see the Iron Man movie to see Tony in James Bond mode outside the Mandarin’s house. I wanted more Iron Man after feeling like the second movie didn’t offer enough Iron Man action either. While I like the second film more now than I did years ago I still feel like this one had a lot more problems.

The problem with the scope of the MCU now has to be making these individual movies when they aren’t all together. For example where is Captain America when the President’s life is being threatened? Where was Iron Man when S.H.I.E.L.D. turned out to be heavily infiltrated by Hydra? Yeah it’s all about budget and contracts and you can’t have every character in every film but that doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t really make sense. We are seeing that change as there is far more crossover with characters these days. I’m totally psyched for the third Thor film as it will feature appearances from both the Hulk and Doctor Strange.

I have always been a fan of Shane Black’s action films from the 90s. While usually credited with writing he has had a hand in many classic action films like Lethal Weapon, Last Action HeroThe Last Boy Scout, and one of my household favorites growing up The Long Kiss Goodnight. He was also the writer for one of my childhood/lifetime favorites The Monster Squad. So I’m a big fan of his work, but I don’t know that this Iron Man film lived up to some of those classics. Getting behind camera this time around Shane Black gave us a cool enough movie but nothing spectacular.

This movie doesn’t have the feel of a real MCU movie barring the presence of MCU characters. For example it doesn’t have a mid credit sequence that alludes to the coming films or future of the MCU. Its setting during the Christmas season for a summer release seemed an odd choice, out of place in the MCU which is usually has no association with holidays.

I think the problems with this movie in general starts with the story. It just isn’t big enough and too isolated to Iron Man specifically. After the second film there should have been more cross over with other characters. For example, Captain America’s third film featured an iconic comic storyline and turned into a huge spectacle. I think they could have put more thought into what to do for Iron Man’s second sequel. Granted you have Don Cheadle on board as War Machine/Iron Patriot but it just doesn’t seem like enough. After introducing Black Widow and featuring Nick Fury in the second movie this one is just too absent of other characters.

I also hate that Ben Kingsley was wasted as a pretend bad guy. He could have been much cooler than what they ultimately got with Guy Pearce. I don’t really care for Guy Pearce and nothing about that changed with this movie. I liked Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2, but felt another rival weapons manufacturer for this movie to be redundant. I did like James Dale Badge as the top henchman. I have been a fan of his since he played Jack Bauer’s partner in season 3 of 24. Ben Kingsley isn’t just a top grade actor but he is capable of playing a great villain, if in any doubt check out this. This movie could have used a little Don Logan if you ask me, such a waste.

I consider this one of the weakest installments to the MCU, not a bad movie but simply not up to par with the other films. It just feels too isolated for a third installment. Tony has too many friends at this point to take on this problem on his own. Even if they couldn’t include other characters somebody else should have at least been referenced with the President’s life at stake. I think this movie is worth your time but it’s far from the top of the pack in the 14 movies now within the MCU.

 

Saw IV

Year: 2007
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman
Written By: Three guys who should seek therapy

RYAN’S REVIEW

OK, full disclosure. I didn’t even bother watching this movie to review it and I don’t care to. I barely remember having seen it nearly ten years ago and I’m totally cool with that. I can’t even come up with a reason to subject myself to more of this crap. I’m sure there is probably a twist I don’t remember that makes it all worth wild but after sitting down to watch the third one I simply don’t care. I can’t imagine how immature I must have been to have actually included a fourth rendition of this madness to my collection but it does not belong.

These movies were successful enough to warrant seven films but even at the immature age in which I purchased the fourth movie for the collection I had simply had enough. I have never seen the fifth, sixth, or seventh film in this franchise and have lost no sleep whatsoever on not knowing how it all turned out.

As a fan of horror films these movies make me sad because they left an influence on a genre that used to be cool. This is the season for things that are spooky and somewhere along the line it became the season of disgust with seven years worth of Halloween releases for this awful franchise. If this wasn’t enough there were Hostels and even lower budget knockoffs peppered in between.

I don’t even watch the new horror movies coming out these days because of films like this. It seems the torture porn era might have faded in favor of the found footage era with movies like Paranormal Activity but I don’t go for those either. I miss the good old slasher films that gave us something to fear. The psycho killer that escaped to wreak havoc or the secluded inbred family that some poor soul accidentally stumbled across. Movies that invoke fear rather than disgust.

I have never been a fan of The Exorcist for the same reason. Though hailed as one of the greatest ever I just see something too vile. I only see disgusting green vomit and a little girl who violently penetrates herself with a crucifix. The power of Christ compels that movie be recreated over and over and over again! Will there ever be enough exorcism movies for the public? I don’t know but I feel like it falls in line with the same thing I see in films like this.

Why get creative and do something new when you can simply copy what worked before and make money on it? Why come up with fresh ideas when we can just spoil classics with a sub par remake? Need a “new” idea, let’s look across the Pacific and simply Americanize one of their films. The horror genre lost its way a long time ago and that’s so sad and disappointing.

I will always hold out hope that eventually some clever mind out there will get greenlit and offer us more than simply a rehashed or borrowed idea. I find with each succeeding year that disappointment is becoming the norm. So much so that I don’t even bother giving things a chance anymore. So for those of you out there that are still with me in this rant let me know if you have seen a horror movie in this era worth watching. I would really love something new to get on board with.

 

Saw III

Year: 2006
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman
Written By: Leigh Whannell (screenplay) James Wan (story)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I reached the Saw series a few months ago and after two movies in I decided to simply put off the rest until the Halloween season. While it correlates with the release of the films I don’t think it’s entirely appropriate. These movies may have been released every year during the season but they are simply what passed for horror films during nearly a decade of obsession with unreasonable torture. The horror genre has lost something since the days of John Carpenter and Wes Craven. Somewhere along the line it became more important to shock and disgust horror film goers rather than scare them. These movies manage to be clever at interweaving story lines and mystery but they offer little to no scares. No, what they offer is a different altogether. They are the Marlyn Manson of the genre, they exist only to repulse us and push the line of what is acceptable on screen.

I will admit that these movies made it into our collection for a reason, but there was a limit to what was tolerable. I found the second film in the series to be shocking enough with its twist to garner a place on the shelf. These movies do a fantastic job of weaving timelines among yearly installments that make the coming twist all that much more unexpected. However, to get the thrill of these interesting twist you must sit through disturbing and unreasonable amounts of gore and torture.

As interesting as I found the twist in the second film it started to lose me with this third movie. This one starts with that awful scene in which a man is hooked to several chains he must rip out of his skin in order to survive. Yet there is no survival and really no way to even free himself with that last chain connected to a ring embedded within his jaw. It’s an awful scene that is only there to disgust us as this man rips his flesh in a desperate attempt to escape certain death. I have a strong stomach, and have thoroughly been desensitized to this kind of torture in a film but I find it disgusting nonetheless. This isn’t thrilling or interesting, it’s just gross and uncomfortable to sit through. The sad thing is that it’s only the beginning in a long series of scenes meant only to shock and gross us out.

I am a movie lover, a story lover more than anything else. A twist that actually surprises me is enough to keep me interested any day of the week but I’m not interested in torture porn. I had never even heard that term until movies like this rose to popularity and I have always found it disturbing. There may be people out there who are into this type of thing but it simply isn’t me. I found the sequel to the similar Hostel to be as interesting as the initial sequel to this series but it was really just more of the same. I am a “to each his own” type of person but I worry about anybody who is seriously into this kind of stuff and pity them. If you get off on seeing people tortured to death then you should really seek some sort of therapeutic help. These movies line up appropriately with the titled studio Twisted Pictures, these movies are twisted, and they became a stain on the horror genre.

Needless to say, I do not recommend this movie during the Halloween season or any other season for that matter. If you are seeking something gross and disgusting this is the movie for you. If you want something scary though I suggest you look to the past when horror movies did more than simply shock us with over the top violence and gore. Not even during the Spanish Inquisition was this level of disgust actually reached. In some cases it’s not even torture but simply gross. There’s one scene of this film where a man is slowly being drowned with liquefied pig remains. Who comes up with this crap and does anybody actually find it scary? Seeing those rotten pig corpses dropped into that machine does nothing but make me lose a taste for barbecue. Really, who comes up with this crap and which parent didn’t love them enough?

I’m categorizing this film as simply a sequel because I can’t bare to classify it with the horror films we have reviewed. I can happily say that I have undoubtedly watched this movie for the last time and will never revisit it, or the series in the future.

 

Jurassic World

Year: 2015
Directed By: Colin Trevorrow
Written By: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow, and Derek Conolly

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I first watched this movie I felt for the first time that this franchise had finally produced a sequel that felt right. The Lost World was great and Jurassic Park III was good though underwhelming but neither had same kind of feel to it that the first one had. There is clearly the possibility that the feeling is the result of the fact that this is more or less the same movie as the first one, or the third one. How many kids can get lost on a dinosaur island anyway? Nevertheless I found this to be a good sequel and a great effort to advance the franchise.

I loved the scene in which the water dinosaur, whateverosaurus, eats the great white shark. I saw that as symbolism and a bold statement from the movie. It literally ate Jaws and made claim to the summer blockbuster of 2015. This movie of course was the biggest movie of the 2015 summer, and it actually went on to become one of the highest grossing films of all time, before adjusting for inflation.

This day in age, you simply can’t go wrong casting Chris Pratt. The guy is just so unbelievably likable. So much so that he was rumored to be the guy taking on the Indiana Jones helm. That’s not going to happen now as Harrison Ford is prepping for another go as the character himself. Still, the name dropping shows how well received Pratt currently is as an actor. He’s perfect for this movie as the cool dinosaur guy because he is the ultimate cool guy in Hollywood right now.

I really think the rest of the cast is well put together too. I am a big fan of Ron Howard‘s daughter Bryce Dallas Howard, I like Vincent D’Onofrio a lot since seeing his incredible rendition of the Kingpin in Netflix’s Daredevil, and I think Irrfan Khan is terrific as the park owner. The cast in this movie is great and I like it but I think Jeff Goldblum proved with The Lost World that nobody watches these movies for the stars. Nope, the real stars in this these movies are the dinosaurs.

This films version of the T-Rex/Spinosaurus/whatever is bigger and badder is the genetically modified Indominous Rex. It’s a snazzy and scary dinosaur and all but where can they really go from here? I think they need to get more inventive with their storytelling and get away from the same old same old. In the end the dinosaurs even come together to destroy this abomination to their own existence but isn’t that what always happens? Also with every movie comes some new and terrifying thing to be done with Raptors. I thought it was cool when they were just scary dinosaurs. Why do they need to be able to communicate, and then be the tamed dinosaurs to be used as weapons? It’s just not practical, we don’t deploy any vicious creature today, why would we do so with dinosaurs? Lions can be trained to do all sorts of crazy stuff but we aren’t sending them after the terrorist are we? Although now that I think about it that seems so awesome.

This is a cool movie but I don’t want to call it great. I liked it enough when I first watched it to immediately punch the Amazon button to add it to the collection. I did that more for my love of the franchise than for love of the movie though. At the end of the day I’m still that little kid who watched the premier of the original at the Uptown theater in D.C. Yet there is a reason this movie made so much money, it is exciting. If you haven’t seen it then you wouldn’t be wasting your time by checking it out.