Friday, May 27, 2022

Movie Review: Top Gun Maverick

In recent years, with sequels that are many years after the original, the trend has been to rely on the huge name recognition and popularity of the original movie and forego the most important things: the story and the screenplay. Not this time. “Top Gun Maverick” has a great story and screenplay and is a very well made movie, worthy of the original Top Gun released in 1986. This film started production in 2018 – 2019 and was ready for release in 2020 and due to Covid the delay has been over 2 years. Top Gun Maverick may have set the record for not only the longest delays, but the longest period of time – 36 years – from the original to the sequel.

The main story is very well done, with Maverick, played by Tom Cruise being called back to the Top Gun training school to teach the best Navy Pilots to accomplish an almost impossible and dangerous task of blowing up a nuclear facility deep within the mountains of some unnamed foreign country. The flying required of diving down close to the ground, dropping a bomb and then diving up causing 10G forces required extremely impressive special effects, both during the training scenes and the very well done climax. Once again, Tom Cruise and many of his young co-stars did some of their own stunts, risking their lives to make a movie. One can easily argue that Tom Cruise should have won 2 Academy Awards for “A Few Good Men”, 1992, and “Born on the Fourth of July” 1990. But there is no doubt that Tom Cruise is by far the best stunt man in the history of movies. He has already risked his life many times in previous Mission Impossible productions, with two more in the Pipeline “Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning, part 1 and 2”, set to be released in 2023 and 2024. Any fan of Tom Cruise cannot help worrying that maybe one day his risk taking with all of these films may one day be too much. Hopefully that day will never happen. Fundamentally, risk taking should be measured with the obvious realization that “Its only a movie”.

The actor Val Kilmer, who reprises his role as Ice Man in the original Top Gun movie, makes a depressing appearance in this movie. In recent years Val Kilmer has unfortunately almost died of throat cancer and after two tracheotomies, he can no longer eat and now needs a feeding tube. The one scene Kilmer had with Tom Cruise in this movie involved Kilmer typing on a computer and later barely able to talk. In this sequel Ice Man and Maverick are friends; one of the best parts of this sequel. Actor Miles Teller plays the son of Maverick’s close friend Goose who died in the first movie and I thought that the conflicts they had in this story were very real and believable. The remaining case of young Navy Pilots were also outstanding in their roles as was John Ham who played the Admiral in charge of the entire mission.

Actress Jennifer Connelly, plays Tom Cruise's girlfriend, with no mention of Kelly McGillis, Maverick's girlfriend in the original movie - a fact that I considered a harsh reality of the business of movie making.

The Rotten Tomatoes for Top Gun Maverick are an extremely high 97% and I agree with this rating and highly recommend this film.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Independent Film Review: Basement

For the fourth time in the history of this blog, I have been asked to review the independent movie production called “Basement”. Over the years, after seeing so many movies there are times where a film reminds you of a scene or a scenario from some other movie we have seen before. For the movie Basement, where several different people are trapped in a basement where a war is going on above them, this reminded me of the conflicts among people under extreme stress in “Night of the Living Dead”, 1968 directed by the late George A. Romero. In this classic original horror movie, dead people were becoming zombies trying to break into a house.

The most compelling issue with a situation like this is that under extreme conditions, people eventually become who they really are, because fear brings out the worst in everybody. In the case of Basement, the character Steve, who has a pregnant wife, and is a bigot who causes all the conflict with everybody in the basement. Unfortunately Steve also likes to point his gun at people and think that he is always in charge, even though he is not in his own house. Steve, played very well by actor Hunter Emery has the most interest acting scenes in this movie as he transitions from being a horrendous violent person, to eventually waking up to what is really the most important.

Any person who has ambitions of breaking into the impossible field of movie making has to admire anyone who is able to get funding or spends their own money to write, produce and direct any small budget movie. For Basement, the director and writer is Robert Rosenbaum, taking the financial risk and hiring mostly unknown actors: Brian Krause, Hunter Emery, Rizwan Manji and RJ Brown. I thought the acting within high stress situations within a war while loud explosions were going on overhead, were very well done.

This movie will be available on Demand through the following link:

See Basement

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Movie Review: Dr. Strange In the Multiverse of Madness

The movie “Dr. Strange In the Multiverse of Madness” is another one of those heavy special effects movies that are produced in reverse. Advanced computer generated special effects first – story idea – eventual screenplay – retrofitted to the special effects later. This movie starts out with Dr Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch fighting a huge starfish-like-lizard creature that only has one eye. The special effects are spectacular, amazing, with the hope that, we do not have to provide any reason or story behind the appearance of this one-eyed-starfish-like lizard creature, we just show amazing special effects. This is the problem with this entire movie. No explanation, just onto the next explosion or transporting into the next multiverse – a term also never fully defined.

This time around Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen becomes an enemy of Dr Strange, and most of this movie is about the two of them fighting and trying to kill each other throughout this entire 2 hours. One again, what they were really fighting about? Not necessary to elaborate this either, because its all about the explosions and special effects. The huge success of this movie financially will guarantee that this special effects over quality and story will be part of our movie going future for many years to come. Rachel McAdams has a relatively small part in this movie, as Dr. Strange x-girlfriend.

I agree with the moderate reviews for this film on Rotten Tomatoes – only for the special effects which are at times as good as I have ever seen. For the story here, almost non existent, I give that only 10%, with an overall moderate recommendation only for die hard Marvel movie fans.