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The Man in the Sky

What an absolute ripper of a film!
I wasn't expecting it to be so very tense; the title character, the Man in the Sky, played wonderfully well by Jack Hawkins, is a test pilot with much on his mind. He seems to feel that he's reached the end of the line, that he has nowhere to go, because the company he works for is one month away from bankruptcy and soon he'll be out of a job with nothing to fall back on.

His wife is disappointed, she wants a home of her own badly to bring up their two sons, but it looks like that too won't happen because her test pilot husband can't bring himself to finance the house they both want, since he knows he may soon be in financial straits.

The only hope they have is that the plane he's testing is purchased, which will save the company. In this last flight, the plane (a cargo plane) is fully loaded, with the prospective buyer aboard as well as a complete crew. Everything is going well until the port engine starts on fire!

All the others on board the plane bail out, leaving only our test pilot; he's subjected to the strain of deciding whether to bail out himself, as the company owner & everyone else is telling him to do, or to try to land the plane. The fire has left the plane with only one engine & has damaged the operation of the wings, so attempting to land may well be fatal. At risk is his life, the company & all its employees, his marriage, and his future; what a decision to have to make!

I just loved the character development in this film, the acting was superb, and the actual aircraft was incredible too. This movie has very little action, but a lot of tension, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

9/10 stars is my rating!

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Dreadful. Don't waste your time.
Apparently Marvel has decided to do away with scriptwriters and use a committee of 10 year olds to write their movies, judging by this horrid example. The CGI was excellent; that's all that was even halfway decent.

Paul Rudd is a perfect person to head this failure, since he can't act and isn't funny; the situations he's put into require a good actor and a comedian, but he just can't pull it off. Michael Douglas, Laurence Fishburne and Michelle Pfeiffer can act, but they don't get much opportunity. I'll see them again, in something worth watching; I'm sorry that they are in this incoherent mess, but I assume they've been well paid, and their reputations won't suffer much for this one stinker.

The worst part of this film is that every once in a long while I got a tiny glimpse of something that might have been very good; but there's no drama, no suspense, no comedy, incoherent action, the timing is all wrong, and the many forced jokes all fall flat. Even Stan Lee's cameo didn't earn a chuckle. There's a lot of glittering fluff, but I couldn't bring myself to care about any of the characters- well, no: I did care about Ant-Man Paul Rudd. I wanted him to get lost, and not to be found, and to forget that I'd ever seen him! That might be partly the fault of the writers, who wrote his part making him stupid and having him act like a moron, or maybe it was his idea; it didn't help the film whoever is responsible.

If you have the choice of watching paint dry or this movie- choose the paint. It'll be more satisfying and memorable! This film was simply boring, and I was relieved when it was finally over.


I Really, Really Wanted To Like It, But-
When I watched this film its rating was 6.0; that seems pretty inflated to me.

The premise is OK: aliens arrive on Earth to take over, humans are caught by surprise in a small town in Australia where everyone was watching the teams battle on the football field and certainly didn't expect to be battling for their very lives. Some escape, others get rounded up by the aliens for unknown reasons. The reasons remain unknown, all through the film: if anyone knew why the aliens wanted captives, it'd have been nice to tell us.

For me the letdowns started fairly early in the film, as I had trouble understanding the relationships between the main characters & what made them tick. There were a lot of characters to keep track of too; it would have helped if there were fewer main characters, since the focus kept changing as we went from one to another. There wasn't much time in the beginning to get to know anyone, it went into action quickly.

The acting wasn't terrible, and the actors seemed competent- what let them down was the script and the direction. The script says, drive away from the battlefield with headlights on, right down the highway; good thing the aliens are too stupid to have expected that, and apparently couldn't see them go. Any number of times people did things which seemed really peculiar for people facing the end of the world; again, the script could've used a lot of improvement. So many plot holes that made me groan could easily have been avoided.

The CGI wasn't too bad, for a low budget film it was better than expected; but there were a lot of places I expected to see things but didn't. We saw a nice looking CGI starship, but when one got destroyed all we saw was the actors presumably looking at it being destroyed. There were any number of scenes where suddenly we went from an action film to a daytime soapie, and it wasn't just the women who were emoting all over the place, sometimes for nothing that I could fathom.

This film wasn't really bad, it just irritates me that it could have been so very much better with a more polished script and a better director. All I can honestly give it is a four out of 10: 4/10.

Avengers: Infinity War

Infinity War? No, infinitely disappointing. Don't waste your time!
When I started watching this seemingly endless drag of a movie, I was expecting some of the magic that this franchise has had in the past. It wasn't to be. Instead, we got familiar character after familiar character, each doing their characteristic throw-away joke.

No drama was involved; at no time did I ever think any of the far-too-many stars that were involved were in any danger, or that anything bad could happen; it was all slight-of-hand, all CGI trickery that looks impressive when there's just a bit of it. Here were great heaping glops of it. Acting? None that I could discern, it was all throw-away lines from throw-away characters. These cardboard characters looked better on the cardboard box!

At first I thought of giving this piece of garbage a score of 2/10; but really, this movie is so very bad, and so damaging to the franchise, that a 1/10 is well deserved. It would be lower if I could make it so. This is a throw-away movie.

Very young children and the extremely easily impressed by green-screen effects may like this film, but don't look for a plot or story; it's got lots of familiar faces though. It would have done so much better if it had a decent script-writer! Alas, that was not deemed necessary.

It Came from the Desert

Just bad. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
This isn't even up to the standard of silly horror comedy. They have some nice props, but apparently couldn't afford a screenwriter or director. The dialogue is worse than I can describe, and any humor is lost in its pure awfulness.

I couldn't take even half of this movie. You'd have to be very drunk, or zonked out of your mind on drugs, to make it to the end. How it even got a 4.9 rating I'll never know, but money must've changed hands somewhere!

Nancy Drew: Detective

A thoroughly delightful film!
I just watched "Nancy Drew Detective" from 1938. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although it was a bit silly in parts and every character was iconic- or maybe stereotypical. Critics would say it was a "formula film." Maybe so, but I sure liked it!

The plot: Nancy Drew (a teenager with her own car, whose father is a well-known attorney) and Ted Nickerson (her slightly older neighbor boy who loves her madly but won't ever show it) solve a kidnapping case of a wealthy elderly lady. Ted has to disguise himself as a nurse while Nancy becomes a widow in order to locate the lady they are rescuing.

There is much activity involving an idiot police chief, bad guys who catch Nancy and tie her up, and threaten to shoot her (but who never even thought about the possiblilty of doing what we'd expect bad guys to do these days,) racing about the countryside in a roadster following homing pigeons, even aerial mapping from a biplane (which cost $10 for the flight!)

It was well worth watching just for the scene where Nancy gets her hands on the bad guy's gun- a .45cal 1911- shuts her eyes and lets the bullets fly! The police chief, after he'd come out of the cover he leaped into to avoid being shot, remarked that he was surprised that she could even lift "that hand-cannon!" There are also hidden delights such as Ted's being a ham radio enthusiast (remember this is in 1938) as well as being an amateur photographer who developed the aerial photos. It was fascinating!

This film was aimed at a young audience, who probably rolled their eyes at it when it was first shown, but who would have admired the qualities that Nancy displayed: courage, independence, perserverance, loyalty- but also being mischievous and not inclined to follow orders meant to keep her safe. They would have seen right through Ted's little act of "aw shucks, I'm a guy, I want Nancy to leave me alone to do guy stuff," which they were intended to see through, and see that Ted was steadfast and determined to help Nancy in every way, even though he loved her dearly and was worried about her getting in trouble over her head. Sex did not raise its head at anytime in this film, and its omission bothered me not at all; there was plenty of love and tenderness.

All in all, a delightful film. If they made movies like that these days, I'd be at the theater regularly- but they don't, and I'm not. Which is a pity!

Miracle on 34th Street

There's really only ONE "Miracle on 34th Street." It was made in 1947!
I didn't realize until I'd started watching this film that is isn't the one with Fred Gwinn as Kris Kringle and Maureen O'Hara as Doris. Still, I've no objection to a remake: but this movie has made a lot of changes that don't improve it, only make it worse. (Spoilers follow.)

The original is in B&W; this one is color. That's better, I suppose, but sadly the lightheartedness of the original has been replaced by something much colder and harder. This shows in many ways: Kris Kringle's cane in the original is a simple wooden cane, not very heavy; its replacement in this one is a much fancier, heavier silver-headed cane. That wouldn't make much difference- unless someone was tapped on the head! This fancy cane could easily have killed someone, while the earlier version would have only delivered a harmless- though painful!- thump.

The department stores in this version aren't merely competing, at least one is in deadly earnest; plots are hatched. The drunken Santa who Kris Kringle replaces isn't just a harmless drunk, he's an alcoholic with a mean streak who takes money and lies about his replacement. Everything in this film is just a bit nastier than in the original, and for a holiday film aimed at kids this isn't any improvement!

The big scene in the courthouse is changed, again for the worse. Instead of thousands of letters addressed to Santa, dramatically delivered in the court, we have long dissertations about "In God We Trust" on our currency. Bleh.

The ending of this film is painfully unbelievable, and leaves Santa out entirely. The scene where Fred & Doris get married, at night in an empty church, without telling Susan-? You've got to be kidding, right? Sadly not!

This film isn't terribly bad, it just seems that way compared to the pure gold of the original. The acting is mediocre (except for Richard Attenborough, who was excellent- but his performance made the rest seem wooden.) There's nothing much really objectionable about this film, it's just been "sanitized" for modern progressive audiences. As a result, it doesn't hold a candle to the original.

Accept no substitutes for the 1947 Miracle on 34th Street; because there really aren't any!

Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars

Great animation, lacking a decent script
How disappointing this film was. The book that is the foundation of this series far surpasses anything that has been done cinematically, and this movie falls very short as well.

The animation and artwork were top-notch; it's the lack of anything resembling a sensible plot that is so grating. Not for the first time I wish that someone with knowledge of military matters had some influence on the scriptwriters. We see the usual thousands upon thousands of enemy bugs attacking without regard to their own safety or whether they live or die; this is fine, this is how insects in our world do operate, so that part is OK- though it lacks any nuance.

But having soldiers who are just as mindless, who are totally inept, and careless of their own safety? Cracking jokes while their comrades are being massacred? Troops that have no idea about defensive formations, who don't worry about ammo, who bunch up in the middle of a plain and allow themselves to be surrounded & never think of taking cover? Who shoot off nuclear arms and then stand around to watch the bang? This is too silly even for slapstick!

The Martian Lieutenant was a buffoon who trips over his own feet and shoots a nuke when he meant to shoot his rifle. I guess that was supposed to be funny, but good grief. Shaking my head! This could have been such a good movie, if only the makers had "played it straight" and tried to tell a good dramatic story instead of deciding to make soldiers look like moronic fools. (Though the art & animation were so very good that at times I forgot that I was watching an animation and it felt like I was watching a live-action movie.)

All I can say is, grab the book by Heinlein for a really good story. It'll make you think; and you'll wonder (like I do) how anyone could take such a marvelously good story and turn it into this pile of rubbish! I'm still waiting for someone to make the first decent film of this wonderful book!

Captain America: Civil War

Worst film in the franchise. Almost unwatchable.
Went into this with high expectations which weren't met. Most of the film has the Avengers fighting each other, with themselves being the bad guys. Lots of phony CGI action, lots of preaching about how bad the Avengers are because some innocent people got killed while they were doing their thing. Most of this film was boring, as I had a real problem suspending my disbelief. Seems like the social justice jerks made this film.

Toward the end I couldn't see how any happy ending could take place, and there wasn't one. Maybe if there's a sequel the Avengers will be friends again, but I'd much rather not have spent all this time waiting for something that didn't happen in this film. This movie tried to be a drama instead of an action movie, but that's not what I wanted to see.

If you really like watching the heros beating each other up and spending lots of time in jail, you'll like this film. If you like lots of agonizing over broken families, you'll like this film. If you think the collectivists at the UN ought to keep the Avengers in line, you'll just love this film. Oh, and there's physical therapy for broken Avengers, ain't that just grand.

I thought this movie sucked. There are lots of things that would be more fun than this film: hitting yourself with a hammer, running headfirst into a wall, or tearing off your fingernails with pliers come to mind. Any of those things would be preferable to watching this lousy movie again!

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