Posts Tagged ‘James Cromwell’

The overstuffed, dreadful ‘Spider-Man 3’ botched everything but the action

February 24, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 24, 2016

Nearly two years ago, I came across a three-for-one DVD containing the trilogy of Spider-Man films directed by Sam Raimi in the first decade of the 21st century. After writing about the first film, from 2002, and starting and tagging but not otherwise working on a post about the second film, released in 2004, I didn’t start watching 2007’s Spider-Man 3 until one night in early February.

I didn’t finish watching it until a few days ago.

Raimi’s first Spider-Man was a decent enough flick, but hardly great. His follow-up is, in my opinion, one of the greatest superhero movies (although bear in mind that I’ve only seen one X-Men movie, and none of the Avengers films). The third Spider-Man movie, however, is widely regarded as a mess, despite the fact that it was the top-grossing domestic movie of the year, with a haul of more than $336 million.

(Incidentally, the second- through 12th-highest-grossing features of 2007, in descending order, were Shrek the ThirdTransformersPirates of the Caribbean: At World’s EndHarry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixI Am LegendThe Bourne UltimatumNational Treasure: Book of SecretsAlvin and the Chipmunks300Ratatouille and The Simpsons Movie.)

I had long suspected that Spider-Man 3’s bad reputation was overblown. But my friends, I am compelled to report that this movie is indeed quite dire.

The main problem here is that the film doesn’t have quite enough material for two movies, but it has more than enough for a single feature. (Bear in mind that Spider-Man 3 weighed in at two hours and 19 minutes when it was released; the director’s cut has another 17 minutes of material.) At least one of the screenwriters recognized this problem, but the movie makers ended up sticking with one feature because they couldn’t find a worthwhile cliffhanger to lead into a further sequel.

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Despite its stellar reputation, I recommend that most viewers avoid ‘Star Trek: First Contact’

April 7, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
April 7, 2015

Star Trek: First Contact was the eighth movie in the Trek franchise. It was also the second (following 1994’s Star Trek Generations) of four movies to feature the Next Generation cast.

First Contact has a number of things in common with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. These films marked the directorial debuts of, respectively, Jonathan Frakes (William Riker) and the late Leonard Nimoy (Spock), the first officers of TNG’s 24th-century Enterprise and the original series’s 23rd-century U.S.S. Enterprise. Both movies involve serious threats to planet Earth, which can only be resolved with journeys through time to Earth as it was roughly 300 years prior to the TV series’ main timelines. And both stories have generous doses of comedy, which are often due to the space-traveler-out-of-time aspect of the narratives.

These films are also the most popular and successful ones starring their respective casts. The Voyage Home, a 1986 release, grossed nearly $110 million. First Contact, which came out almost exactly 10 years later, grossed $92 million. The only Trek films that made more money were the J.J. Abrams–helmed reboots from 2009 and 2012, which populated the roles of Kirk, Spock and company with a brand-new cast.

I like The Voyage Home quite a lot, but I’ve never really been a fan of First Contact. In rewatching it recently, my opinion of the movie rose — but only slightly.

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Why, robot, why? A technophobic Will Smith investigates mechanical murder in 2004’s frustrating ‘I, Robot’

February 4, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 4, 2015

When the science fiction action film I, Robot was released in 2004, it received reviews that I remember as being tepid at best. So it was mainly by happenstance that I picked up the movie — it was part of a combo DVD with Independence Day, the 1996 action vehicle that helped vault Will Smith into stardom.

I, Robot is based on characters and situations created by Isaac Asimov (1920–1992), the phenomenally prolific science fiction author and science essayist. Asimov may be best known for creating the three laws of robotics, which I, Robot presents in title cards at the very beginning of the movie:

Law I: A robot may not harm a human or, by inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Law II: A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law.

Law III: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.

Many of Asimov’s tales are puzzles or mysteries, wherein one or more of the supposedly inviolable laws of robotics has apparently been breached. Ultimately, however, the author, through his agent (in a few prominent tales, that would be 35th-century Earth detective Elijah Baley), reveals that the laws remain intact. For instance, in one case, as I recall, a robot’s arm was detached and used by someone to beat a victim to death.

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