Update. Next Publication is: Under Strange Suns, available digitally August 2015, print version due December 2015, Twilight Times Books.

Playing Catch Up

It would be a stretch to say I’ve caught up on my movie viewing. But I did drop a few bucks at the Red Box while the rest of my family was in Mexico for a week and a half. Thus I was able to see a few of the explody, sci-fi, bullet-ridden flicks that I seldom have the opportunity to do now. And on the 65” hi-def screen, not the ten-inch computer screen that normally provides my viewing backdrop, thanks to late night viewing of Netflix.

When one’s two-year old daughter is sleeping behind a hollow-core door not too far away, one does not crank the speakers and slip — for example  — From Dusk ‘Til Dawn into the Blu Ray player. Nor does one go to the theater to see movies on a whim. One must plan ahead, coordinating the movie-house schedule with that of the baby sitter. So I’m rather far behind on recent releases. “Recent” meaning anything that has come out over the last couple of years.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron held the honors as first flick teed up. I liked it. It suffered somewhat from what many sophomore entries in a series do: it tried for a greater gravitas than its predecessor, wanting to project a sense of its own importance. The film-makers forget that what the audience wants is more of what it saw originally. Instead, the film-makers delude themselves that what we want is an upping of the stakes, and a more thoughtful, mature work. This usually leads to a grimmer, less fun film. No exception here. But the movie managed to include enough of the humor and light-heartedness that made the first Avengers film so enjoyable.

Mad Max: Fury Road roared in next. It took me a while to warm up to it, to allow myself to be pulled into the story the film-makers wanted to tell. It didn’t seem to follow in any logical sense the previous entries. But I was probably expecting too much, and really, after the first one, the Mad Max franchise was anything goes in the outback. This new one is no different. Whether massive generational shifts of memory and culture could realistically occur during the few years of Max Rockatansky’s sojourn in the wilderness is beside the point. Shut up and enjoy the hours long car chase, Ken. And mostly I did.

Interstellar followed. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the first part of the film. I’d expected to want the director to get on with it, get to the good stuff. Maybe I’m getting old. The truth is, the later parts of the movie didn’t work for me. The causal relations made no sense. Normally I pay little attention to the film score, but I couldn’t help but feel that the music in this film was uninspired, flat when it should be moving. So while the acting was top-notch, the sets and effects were excellent, and while I do want to encourage serious, hard sci-fi in film, Interstellar failed to win me over.

Furious 7 certainly didn’t require any mental engagement. And I never expected the plot or the action to make any sense. So my low expectations were met.

Fury is a well made World War II tank film. Like Interstellar it was well-acted, and the production values were high. But while I could appreciate what the film-makers were doing, I kept wanting to turn Fury off and put in my copy of Kelly’s Heroes. I found Fury too unrelentingly grim to enjoy.

Ant-Man I saw at a second-run theater with the accompaniment of a slice of pizza and a pint of beer. No grimness here. It is a slight entry in the Marvel film repertory, but fun in a breezy sort of way.

Oddly, it wasn’t until my family returned that I saw the best of the bunch. And that despite the handicap of seeing it on, yes, the 10-inch computer screen I’m staring at now as I type. My wife wanted to see it, so I waited until she was home to watch American Sniper, thanks to HBO. I guess the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can get one right every now and then.