Toy Story 4
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I'm a huge fan of both Bob Dylan and D.A. Pennebaker's documentaries, so to me, this was a no-brainer to watch, especially this vintage. I was fortunate to catch Dylan live, after his life-threatening bout of pericarditis, in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the Hill Auditorium with the Kenny Wayne Shepherd band as support, but how amazing it would have been to have caught him live on this British tour, from a generation earlier.
I would have given it a perfect rating, but I docked a mark for him making fun of Donovan, for crying out loud.
I had huge reservations about watching this remake, which I felt was completely unnecessary. It wasn't as bad as I had anticipated, and that the bad reviews at the time gave me the impression I should fear or avoid watching it. The special effects were pretty good, and Sam Rockwell, Jared Harris and Jane Adams (how wonderful it was to see her again, after her exceptional work in 'Happiness'!) sold the film for me. I knew what to expect after liking, but not loving, director Gil Kenan's earlier animated 'Monster House', but I was intrigued how his energetic directing would transfer to live-action work.
I think they could have made it more suspenseful and scary, but I'm not really sure that was their intention. I think they were going for a family experience with some thrills, chills and laughs...such as the recent 'Ghostbusters' remake was going for. If that was the case, then in that regard it was quite successful. I'm looking forward to re-watching this eventually with my 13-year-old son, horror-film aficionado, Julian, who like me adored the original.
If I was to make the perfect 'Poltergeist' film, I would have taken the same exact Steven Spielberg script and simply updated the special effects. I think that would have been a more successful approach.
Though I haven't watched a lot of them yet (I've mainly devoted my time, of late, to catching up on 1920-1970s cinematic milestones), I have a profound respect for the new roles Liam Neeson has taken on in recent years. It makes me think of what would have been had my favourite actor ever, James Cagney, hadn't basically retired for the quiet life in the early 60's, when the perfect storm of 'great actors in B-movies' hit the fans.
My lady is more a horror aficionado, and of recent vintage films, so it was nice to throw this on for a spin and show her its neo-noir tendencies, almost as if going through a 'make your own movie' template, checking them off one-by-one. I don't mind that sort of rote predictability if it's done right, and, though heavily flawed, for the most part it does. By the climax, I basically only cared for four things: that the kidnapped girl, Matthew Scudder and TJ were alive, and that the two kidnappers/murderers got their just desserts, whether it be lengthy incarceration or murder, anything so their crime spree would be ended. The film was well-made and a very enjoyable experience, so considering the relatively minor flaws (especially the one-dimensional aspect of the antagonists), I would definitely recommend at least a watch for most cinephiles out there, especially those interested in 'true crime' type of contemporary American cinema.
This was a decent watch, not for cinematic reasons per se but for making the world a better place. I watched this with my son, Julian, and I was pleased with how they took the true story, including the actual dolphin from it, and, especially for kids, promoted environmentalism, caring for animals, etc.--really solid and important aspects that need to be, more than ever, emphasized in the youth of today.
My only qualms is that I have very mixed emotions about the casting. I know that to get an important environmental message heard, and thus the film watched, you have to incorporate Hollywood megastars. I simply wish this didn't have to be the case. The story would have come across better with unknown actors--or simply as a sincere documentary without the Hollywood B.S.