Entering the X-Files – The Pilot Episode

The X-Files Pilot still one of the better long-running television pilots out there. Quintessentially set in the early 90s, it holds up well. Scully is an adorable skeptic, still bright-eyed and bushy tailed — so eager to please — with a sweet face still bearing traces of baby fat. Mulder starts out almost exactly as he finishes, tossing his new partner a half assed joke in greeting:”Welcome to the FBI’s most unwanted.” He knows she’s been sent down to his basement to dubunk him, and has his I Want To Believe Poster posted proudly behind his desk, surrounded by conspiracy theory news clippings and marked-up maps.

(Get used to this being Mulder’s domain. Scully only perches on things for the next few years. It does improve for her much later, when she gets a desk of her own. And on a side note, Mulder doesn’t get a bed until the two-parter ep Dreamland, so it’s an equal opportunity level of bodily discomfort.)  🙂

In spite of this preliminarily  lopsided pilot powershow, the two exude instant charisma, and the minor ‘abduction’  story needs thankfully little exposition. It’s got a self contained plot (is it about alien abductions, or driven by some other supernatural condition? It doesn’t matter), and it concludes in a satisfying place.  But the plot isn’t the main show, thankfully.

The real reason to watch the pilot is to play close attention to the dynamics of Gillian Anserson and David Duchovny as Scully and Mulder, respectively. Right away, their mutual charisma bounces between them with a crackling electricity, whether they’re bickering in their office, or laughing at each other in darkness, drenched in the road — where a big red spray can X marks the spot. It’s a good moment. I don’t want to be too specific. Just watch it.

Were they abducted too? Why did they lose time? It’s actually par for the course that we never know. Get used to this in this series, and you’ll be fine. The show is about its two leads, and how they almost, but quite, prove the evidence of aliens and the supernatural.

If you find this coy cat and mouse overly-plotting, stick it out anyway, at least until seasons 5 or 7. The Chis Carter Effect doesn’t set in til then. This is a great show to keep up, because the two leads sparkle even after all this time, and the frequent Monster of the Week episodes are often the best things ever seen on television.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Movie Rewatch Review of X-Files – I Want To Believe

You’d think they do believe by now…

The X-Files now has nine television seasons, two movies, and two short-term TV revivals under their belt. This no-spoiler rewatch is for the second feature film,  I Want To Believe, taking place years (both in-universe and out) after the final run of original TV episodes, and before both revivals were even a concept.

(Is this making sense to you? If it’s gibberish, you might not want to bother entering the X-Files universe at this time. X-Files is the most complicated long-running popular entertainment franchise ever made.)

Like the first movie, Fight The Future, most of this takes place in way too much snow. (Just before the credits, you get a small warm payoff this time, so stick around through it.)

A few thoughts on I Want To Believe:

  • No humor. Bummer.
  • It’s mostly a stand alone feature. At least, the plot is. You still need to know the history between Mulder and Scully to appreciate who they are, their motivations, and what they want from each other.
  • It starts out pretty slow, and continues along at a dirge-like pace. The few action scenes we do get are pretty frenzied. Not sure what the director was thinking. Weirdly paced.
  • The plot was sad, depressing, dark, and distinctly unfun.
  • The characters were more pessimistic than usual. The whole reason this great show ran so long was on the strength of the Mulder-Scully dynamic and characterization. I realize they are older and more serious now, but that didn’t make for enjoyable viewing. It was like the director told them to tone down their natural chemistry.
  • Some parts were hard to see – either blurry, dimly lit, or both. Many things ran by too quickly to comprehend. Pay attention to the unusual dog mid-way through, or you’ll miss out on a big clue (and he’s super hard to see properly, even when I knew what to look for).
  • Mulder still has his den of posters (including the iconic titular one), tacked up dodgy newspaper clippings, and pencils stuck in the ceiling tiles (okay, that part was cute).
  • We do find out what happened with the relationship between Mulder and Scully after the series comes to that abrupt end. So that’s sort of satisfying.
  • It had a psychic/serial killer plot, not an alien cover-up one. There was no whiff of the “Mythology/Conspiracy Arc”, unlike in Fight The Future.
  • It was ultimately more about Scully and her religious themes, than Mulder and  his unexplained phenomena.
  • The movie was super creepy at the end. When I say it’s a “Monster of the Week” plot, here the monster is real, and unfortunately all too human. I don’t know how to say more without revealing a big spoiler about WHICH monster this movie references. It’s obvious by the climax. Brrrr. Feel free to put spoilers in the comments.
  • I liked this part the best: we’ve had about a baker’s dozen episodes before, dealing with the use of possible psychics to solve paranormal cases. The BEST part of I Want To Believe is when Scully actually references these guys by name: Luther Boggs (Beyond the Sea), Clyde Bruckman (Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose), and Gerry Schnauz (Unruhe). Those were stellar episodes that fall within the best episodes of any television show EVER done.  Want to watch something great ? Skip this movie and stream those episodes. Bring a hanky.

Here’s a short text exchange between RunPee founders Dan and Jill about I Want to Believe:

Jill: I just did a rewatch of the second X-Files movie. Remember that one?

Dan: I remember that it sucked.

Jill: Sure. That’s totally fine.  It was like a very long, very mediocre X-Files episode. I haven’t seen the second TV revival yet, but I hope they pick up with the William story and put that storyline to bed! Metaphorically (and literally works too).  😉

Dan: I don’t even know if I’ll see the second  revival, after watching the first one. It only had the one good episode with the Were-Monster.

Jill: Agreed. I really liked that one. The rest were meh, at best. It’s too bad.

Dan: Whatever.  I give up.

Jill: But I have some insights from I Want To Believe. I’ve decided that Mulder and Scully can’t quit each other, even though they are not good together. Mulder is a man who will do his thing, and place finding the truth above his relationship, every time. Always. He is a brilliant obsessive-compulsive. And she wants a real life, with the children and a picket fence…Mulder will never give her those things. But she just can’t quit him.

Dan: I can see that about their relationship.

Jill: My mother has already forgotten the entire plot of this movie, believe it or not. It’s weird; we just saw it last week.

Dan: It’s not a good movie, so I’m not surprised.

As you can see, I’m still a fan, even after being disappointed by most of the show’s follow-up. I’m doing a partial TV re-watch right now, introducing my mother to some of the series’ highlights (and having to try to explain most of it). I’m not even sure I remember where most of the dead end subplots ended up going…look up the “Chris Carter Effect” to understand this trope. This phenomenon went on to derail other great, dense shows like Lost and the reimagined Battlestar Galactica).

Ugh! In SPITE of that, it’s still one of the best television shows ever put to the small screen. If you get a chance, and have a lot of binging time available, start at the beginning and worth through the whole thing. Most of it is astoundingly gripping. Mulder and Scully are so much fun to watch that you never notice only two actors carry most of a decade of work between them.

Movie Grade for I Want to Believe: C

———————–

A little happiness to end this post: 
Here’s a quick vid about the Were-Monster, the most enjoyable revival episode. Yahoo Entertainment says this: ““Were-Monster” single-handedly justifies the show’s return after its decade-long hiatus.”

Really, the ep is a pure joy, with a lot of in-jokes for X-Files long-suffering fans:

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Almost 60 Movies Standing Up To The Test Of Time

Here’s  list of my favorite films, all of which are somewhere in the  A range, or a high B. I didn’t actually include everything I’ve ever given an A to on RunPee, because they were often graded according to the target audience, and aren’t actually my personal faves.

Sometimes I want to upgrade a film too, over time. Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them gets better on every viewing, for example. I want to move in the database from a B something to like an A-, or at least an A. I was colored at the time, by my wanting it to be more like the other Harry Potter films. Which is why rewatch reviews really come into their own — you can have time to let a film settle, and see what emerges in time.

It’s worth discussing about how we at RunPee grade movies. Each one of us staffers in this family is different. Like I’ve said before, I often use a curve within a movie franchise. Almost anything the Marvel Cinematic Universe does deserves an A (IMO), compared to movies otherwise in its genre (or out of it). But…that’s adding my highly idiosyncratic enjoyment factor.

Here’s a long list of my A range, and most favorite films over time: 

  1. Alien and Aliens
  2. Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Terminator (The first and the second)
  4. Jurassic Park (Only the first)
  5. Titanic
  6. Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Arc
  7. Back to the Future (The first)
  8. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  9. The Breakfast Club
  10. Jaws (the first)
  11. Overboard (The original)
  12. A Fish Called Wanda
  13. Avatar
  14. The Matrix (The first)
  15. Harry Potter (I can’t really pick one from the eight movies we see. Each has their own style and merits…and together is one long story. For myself, I’d give the A+ to The Prisoner of Azkaban,  The Goblet of Fire, and maybe The Half Blood Prince.)
  16. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  17. Passengers (This one is controversial.  I loved it, my mother loved it, and RunPee Dan loved it. But a lot of people aggressively dislike the movie, for reasons I shouldn’t describe here if you haven’t seen the film)
  18. Star Trek (The Wrath of Khan and the Voyage Home. First Contact is great, might not be an A)
  19. Logan (OMG is this sad. But wonderful, too)
  20. The MCU (Like the Harry Potter films, Marvel’s Avenger superheroes have an intricately webbed series of stories. To pick out the A+ films is hard. I might only put Infinity Wars in that caliber. Maybe Thor: Ragnarok. However, the regular A films abound: Guardians of the Galaxy — one of my personal favorites, Black Panther, Iron Man 1, Avengers: Assemble, Avengers: Civil War,  and Spiderman: Homecoming)
  21. Finding Nemo
  22. The Shawshank Redemption
  23. The Firm
  24. The Fugitive
  25. Top Gun
  26. The Lord of the Rings (The entire LOTR series. Not the Hobbit films, unfortunately)
  27. Die Hard (The first)
  28. Lethal Weapon (the first)
  29. Predator
  30. ET: The Extra Terrestrial
  31. Rain Man
  32. 2001, A Space Odyssey
  33. Blade Runner (The first)
  34. The Shining (The original)
  35. So I Married An Axe-Murderer
  36. Inception
  37. Mamma Mia (The first)
  38. When Harry Met Sally
  39. Contact
  40. Apollo 13
  41. The Princess Bride
  42. Moonstruck
  43. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  44. Pitch Black (The first)
  45. The Wizard of Oz
  46.  Monty Python and The Holy Grail
  47. Airplane! (The first)
  48.  Ghostbusters (The first)
  49. Groundhog Day
  50.  Live and Let Die (Bond movies are so subjective! This one is perfect, in my opinion. Yours will probably be different)
  51. Pulp Fiction
  52. Shaun of the Dead
  53. Zombieland
  54.  The Sixth Sense
  55. Wayne’s World
  56. Thelma and Louise
  57. The Bourne  Identity
  58. Steel Magnolias
  59. The Little Mermaid
  60. ….

….Aaaand, I’m continuing this list right now. You might have an idea of what movies I consistently like: there’s a lot of sci-fi here, (almost) no horror movies, and very few old classics. For example, I never saw Citizen Kane — which is touted to be the best movie in in the universe . I should educate myself. (I did enjoy African Queen, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, and Some Like It Hot. Is that a good start?)

I’m going to hang out with RunPee Sis next month, and she will introduce me to some horror classics, and hug me when I get scared. So maybe things like Psycho and Silence of the Lambs will join the list.

Anyway: I know I missed some important movies. Got some in mind? Comments can be added below!

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

All Predator Movies, Rated

I like their hair. It’s like college football player hair. Am I the only one who notices this?

There’s a glut of Predator movies in the franchise now, starting with the classic  Predator of 1987 with Arnold Schwarzenegger, through ’til just this week, with The Predator. Since almost each film has basically the same name (except Requiem), it can be confusing to recall which was released when, with what storyline. Also, each storyline has more or less the same profile: Predators hunt people (or other Aliens), and said people use big military-grade guns to fight back. There’s a lot of green florescent blood along the way, and infrared vision.

So it can be tough to mentally track which movie is which. Here’s a quick summary of each Predator and Predator-adjacent film, in production order: 

  1. Predator — 1987: The original franchise starter with Arnold. He really sold it, and this is a great movie, deserving an A grade. The secondary characters were solid, the backstory was involving, the climax gripped me, and there were some great one liners and quotes.
  2. Predator 2 — 1990: Danny Glover took over the reigns for this one, and it was…meh. I didn’t like all the gang violence; very unappealing. More sci-fi, less gangster dynamics, please. The ending, however, with Glover on the Predator ship, and the Predator honor code, was really great. I would’ve like more of that, more alien world-building. (There’s also the blink and you’ll miss it scene with an “Alien Zenomorph” skull on the ship…which started the whole AvP furor, culminating in the next two movies, for better or for worse.) I tried re-watching  Predator 2 a few years back, but had to turn it off because of the unpleasantly grisly LA gang storyline. For some reason, I’m okay with Predator violence, but not people against people. (The Wikipedia offers this tidbit, so I’m not the only one who thought this was a bit much: “Due to excessive violence, Predator 2 was the first film to be given the newly instituted NC-17 rating in the United States.”) Maybe give this a C grade?
  3. Aliens Vs Predators (AvP) — 2004: The first AvP film was fine. Not great, not awful. I’d say it was mildly enjoyable, and I liked the hunt’s setting in the buried pyramid/temple. This is also memorable for having a woman be the main fighting character, the alliance between human and Predator, and the ending as a call back to the previously established Predator honor code. B-
  4. AvP: Requiem — 2007:  An abomination of a movie that should be taken behind the shed and shot. I have nothing, NOTHING good to say about this film, and just thinking about it makes me nauseous. I had a boyfriend once who thought this was the best Predator flick ever, and, years later, I’m still WTF? It didn’t work out between us, so maybe you can predict the future of relationships with whether they liked Requiem.  Heh: you only think I’m joking. F-
  5. Predators — 2010: I absolutely forgot this one when I wrote my review of The Predator (2018) this week. Someone had to remind me Predators existed, and then a few things filtered back. All I really recall was that it started with human characters falling in the sky, there were the expected hunting/shooting shenanigans, and that I kind of liked this one. I’d give it a provisional B grade, until I can see it again.
  6. The Predator — 2018: I’d say this is the second-best film in the franchise, although I’d need to rewatch the previous Predators again to see which I thought had the better narrative. I did find this one fun, amusing, and even delightful at times, which is a weird way to describe a movie devoted to brutal killing games. This flick has some world building that I appreciated, although I do admit it wasn’t what it could have been. I can’t say much more without adding spoilers. I did adore the introduction of the Predator Dogs. More like this. B+

Some General Predator Notes:

What all of the films lacked, 1987 Arnold version aside, were great characters. I can’t remember anyone’s names. Even their faces blend together. The Predators themselves had more personal development, I think. I wouldn’t  even mind seeing a Predator film from the Predator viewpoint — just for variety — but that probably won’t happen.

Given that, I’d ask to see a real trilogy developed, with continuing characters and a larger/more detailed universe. It could start with The Predator and build from there. I’m not sure why each film tells a small story with fungible characters — there’s only so many ways to string people up in trees, with a lot of dark shootouts, and have nothing of lasting importance actually occur by the end. With six movies, it’s too bad that all we get are isolated incidents with faceless characters. I might be barking up the wrong tree in my hopes: the films are intended to be a rousing, fun, shoot-em-up time.

But they could be so much more.

Also on RunPee: 

Movie Review — The Predator

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Movie Rewatch Review – Jurassic Park III

I finally  made the effort to rewatch Jurassic Park III – something always came up to distract me, and I’m easily distracted if I don’t want to see the movie in question. But I’m glad I did it: the movie isn’t so bad once you’re aware of the retched parts.

It’s like rewatching Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I know Jar Jar and midiclorians are going to bother me. So I just ignore those things and enjoy what’s nice, like the Pod Race, or anything with Qui-Gon Jinn, and the Duel of the Fates lightsaber battle. Anyway. Back to Jurassic Park 3. (See — distracted even now.)

Jurassic Park 3 is an acceptable offering in the series, as long as one acknowledges the really annoying things, like Alan Grant’s little raptor daydream (“Alan”), and the constant yelling the humans do on Isla Sorna. Way to hide from mega predators, guys. Sheesh. They all yell, except Grant (who knows better but no one listens to him). Tea Leoni is the worst, and I feel bad that she had this terribly scripted character to work with. She’s a decent actress, normally. But her presence in this movie marks the series’ nadir…at least she didn’t come to the island in high heels (Hi there, Bryce Dallas Howard).

One thing I totally forgot in JP3 is that this all takes place on Isla Sorna. I thought it was another excursion on Isla Nublar. So this isn’t the T-Rex from the first film: it’s one of the three from The Lost World. I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s the juvenile T-Rex, all grown up, who got a taste for human flesh from that dumb villain (who’s name I can’t be bothered with), the one who ran InGen — remember, he was hobbled by the San Diego T-Rex to teach her baby how to hunt.

In any case, this T-Rex, as usual for EVERY Jurassic film, saves the humans by fighting another threat. Seriously. Watch every film in the 5 we have so far, and notice how Rexie saves the day. In this case, she/he fights the Spinosaurus, and dies, which is sad. I like the T-Rexes. They act more like animals than monsters, which is another “bone” (haha) I have to pick with this series. What makes an animal aggressive?

Several things. Hunger. The desire to protect resources/territory or fend off invaders. Protection of their young. To fight potential rivals to their mates. And that’s really it. If you aren’t a threat, and you leave sated large predators alone, they won’t hunt you. This isn’t Godzilla, after all.

In the African Savannah, prey animals can freely walk by a sated lion. Said lion only needs to hunt a few times a week. I don’t know how much dinosaurs need to feed, but I’m going to say that a nice meal should be plenty for awhile for these types of barely warm-blooded species.

And speaking of the Spinosaurus, I don’t know who would win in a fight. They seem evenly matched to me. This video addresses the issue. (I’m Team T-Rex, BTW. He’s much smarter, despite the ridiculous arms.)

Something I did like from the film was the Carnosaurus cameo. While the humans were sticking their arms in gigantic steaming piles of poo, the Carnosaur, who looked ready to attack the humans, sniffs the Spinosaur scat and just…walks away. He knew better than to hang around the Spinosaur’s habitat. That was a nice touch.

What wasn’t good, besides all the yelling, was the satellite  phone. Holy hell. This phone can take being eaten, sitting in digestive fluids, and is workable on the other side of the gastric tube. Not to mention that the kid could hear it ringing while inside the Spinosaur. What kind of magical phone is this? I want one. Also –they hear the phone jingle, but not the footstomps of this 9 ton predator? The movies established that we hear and FEEL the movements of the largest sauropods and theropods. This is yet another nit to not pick, to enjoy the film at all.

So, since this is Isla Sorna, and not the Isla Nublar from three of the five other films, we can assume that there are still dinosaurs on this island, even if (SPOILER) Isla Nublar exploded in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I think the Jurassic World films conveniently forgot about the second island. Things would have been simpler to remember Site B when Fallen Kingdom came around. Continuity can be fun!

What else is notable? It features yet another divorced couple who see each each other in a new light after running for their lives. It has the “dashing” Billy, who I suppose was intended to be a popular character. He’s like a really roughly sketched version of Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady from the Jurassic World films, and not a touch as good.

The ending had pterodactyls flying over the ocean, presumably to the mainland. So…we’ve seen this referenced in several of the films now. And it’s not until Jurassic World 2 that something comes of it. Continuity, people!

Alrighty. Good things from JP3, and there are surprisingly quite a few:

  • Some of the Velociraptors had feathers, which was a nice touch if you know that some of these Oviraptors went on to become birds.
  • Although the Spinosaurus followed the humans across the entire island like a rabid dog, it still acted like an animal and not Godzilla. (We can save that strange behavior for the engineered creatures in the Jurassic World films.)
  • The scene with the embryonic dino incubators was an homage to Aliens, especially with the raptor looking through the tube, giving everyone (and the audience) a well deserved scare.
  • The Hadrosaur running scene was a fun callback. (“They’re flocking this way!”)
  • The obligatory kid was smarter than any of the adults: he survived alone on the island for 8 weeks. He was almost better off not being saved. And how he acquired T-Rex urine? “Better off not knowing.” Heh. One can only imagine.
  • Alan Grant still doesn’t like Ian Malcolm. (“Did you read his book?” “It was kind of preachy.” And Grant sits back, satisfied. That moment kind of completes his arc. )
  • The raptors were smart enough to set a trap for the humans. The implications of this are disturbing, in a good way. (“Clever girl.”)
  • The best scene, by far, was the set-piece in the misty and unstable Aviary. I still get chills from it. It has all the great atmosphere of the best scenes in this series, with a genuine sense of growing suspense, dread, and horror. What an amazing scene. I appreciated that this was a leftover passage from the first Jurassic Park book, as was the ‘jungle cruise’ segment. It’s not a surprise that the better scenes were the ones originally penned by Michael Crichton.
  • They included a scene with some downtime: namely, the conversation in the water truck with Grant and Eric (the kid). All the better movies have these little scenes where the characters catch their breath, since it gives us, the audience, the chance to do so as well. Plucking at our adrenaline strings for two hours makes for an exhausting film experience.
  • The Astronomers vs Astronauts conversation reminded me of Angel’s (the vampire TV series) running conversation about Cavemen vs Spacemen. Probably not a real homage, but: cool.
  • There is one stirring, magical scene, when the little boat goes by a peaceful pasture of herbivorous sauropods co-existing. The familiar musical theme from John Williams swells, and we feel transported. I’m happy the film had that moment.
  • The odd juxtaposition of Barney the Purple Dinosaur on television, while Ellie’s toddler clutches the phone  — with people dying from actual dinosaurs.
  • Cool early use of a 3-D printer, making a raptor vocal organ. And nice callback  use of said organ later.

Well, that’s a decent list of good things from a really poor movie. But I might be grading on a curve, since I love dinosaurs and the original Jurassic Park. After seeing five of these films, I can safely say this one is the worst, but has definite watchable elements. It’s worth viewing for those, if you can ignore the stupidity of humans blundering and yelling about in the brush, ostensibly trying to hide from very large predators. The shouting goes on the entire movie, and only Grant never once gives in to the impulse. He’s not an idiot.

At least, not as completely an idiot. He should have kept to his instincts and not gone to Isla Sorna in the first place.

Movie Rewatch Grade: C

Here’s a fun look at JP3 by Honest Trailers – It’s kind of better than the actual film: 

RunPee’s Jurassic Movie Reviews: 

Jurassic Park – Movie Rewatch Review

Jurassic Park at Universal Studios: Ride Review

Jurassic Park: The Lost World – Movie Rewatch Review

Jurassic Park 3 – Movie Rewatch Attempt Number One

The Jurassic Park Movies Poll

Jurassic World Movie Review

Jurassic World Movie References

Movie Review: Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom, Missed Opportunities

Everything Wrong With the Jurassic Movies (All the You Tube videos in one place)

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Movie Rewatch Review – Ant Man

I really used to like the original Ant Man. I thought it was underrated, charming, funny, and a lighter take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And that’s how I remembered it until my rewatch last night.

What I forgot: since it came out, a lot more amusing  and enjoyable MCU films came along, ones that made me laugh harder, thrilled me visually, and set up characters I cared for in a visceral, deeper way. Now, having rewatched Ant Man’s 2015 origin story after having viewed top of the line films like Thor: Ragnarok, the Guardians films, Black Panther, Civil War, Spiderman, and Infinity War, I’m suddenly underwhelmed. Paul Rudd as Scott Lang does what he can, but aside from his sweet little kid, I didn’t feel much of anything for anyone else. I cared more for poor Antony the Ant than the cast of people, which isn’t a good sign.

And the plot. It was just about another set of guys in another set of suits. Really. A guy of dubiously good morality in a tech suit, plus a clearly definite bad guy in a meaner suit, exploiting the tech. Am I describing Iron Man or Ant Man?

We now have normal guys in suits up and down the MCU — Iron Man, War Machine, Falcon, Ant Man. (Batman is the same, but hey, different universe.) I’m not sure we needed to put Wasp in yet another suit, but it’s a gal, so that’s new. Yay?

Some indirect spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War follows. 

Who else dons supersuits? Spidey finally has a cool tech version, and so does the Black Panther, but those are also dudes with legitimate innate superpowers.  And lest I forget, Bruce Banner now sports a Hulkbuster Suit, for days when the rage monster refuses to come out and play.

Back to Ant Man. What really sets him apart from the other suit guys are two things: he’s got an ant army, and can move back and forth between many sizes — from normal, to tiny, right up to gigantic (making him “Gi-Ant Man”), and then back down to the subatomic, in the Quantum Realm.

Now, let’s pick this apart. At a normal size, he’s really just a cat burgler with engineering skills wearing in a leather jumper. We didn’t see him do the Gi-Ant thing until the (far superior) Captain America: Civil War. His role in the Quantum Realm was so short that it wasn’t more than a cameo excursion. (Hopefully, in Ant Man and the Wasp we’ll get a lot more quantum goodness.) So, what did he really do in his origin story?

Well, Scott had a cool fight with Falcon: it was brief, but fun, and he was adorably fan-girly in meeting an actual Avenger. He had cute scenes learning to control the various ants and bonding with Antony. Um. Hmmm. He kissed a girl in an awkward transition. And the bad guy smushed some sweet little lambs, which I forgot happened and never want to see again.

So, what about those ants, anyway? I was able to stop the screen and write it all down. Keep in mind most of this entymological science is totally made up:

  • Crazy Ants (control electricity)
  • Bullet Ants (really painful bites)
  • Carpenter Ants (great for transport and flying)
  • Fire Ants (can get in and out of difficult places)

So when the critters show up in the next movie, you’ll know which ants do what, for what its worth. But what I’m really looking forward to is seeing how the Quantum Realm relates to the larger Avengers storyline. I mean, it HAS to. Because another stand-alone plotline would not be very satisfying after what Thanos just did to the universe.

It’s still a well constructed movie; it’s just not very exciting. I don’t mind a ‘small’ story — I often prefer it — but it has to be good.

Movie Rewatch Grade: B

Read more on RunPee: 

The Ant Man Movie — Sexism and Real Ants

How the Quantum Realm Offers Possible Insights to Avengers 4

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Movie Rewatch Attempt – Jurassic Park III

Known and reviled by most as the “worst Jurassic movie,” I sit here and wait for a for Jurassic Park III rewatch at the most dinosaur-themed brewpub I’ve ever seen, The Bronto Meadery in San Diego. Bronto Meadery is hosting a  viewing all four Jurassic movies before Fallen Kingdom weekend hits the US, drinking handcrafted mead, and enjoying dinogeek fellowship. (I recommend the Pure Bronto, if you get a chance to sample the mead.)

JP III is the one with the Spinosaurus and the telephone, if you forgot which one this is.

What’s good: Dr. Alan Grant is back, and so is Dr. Ellie Sattler. They do a  decent job. Nothing great, but they show up and try to act a little, more (Grant) or less (Sattler). Also good: the Aviary Scene, which is a callback passage from the first Michael Critchon novel that didn’t make it into the first movie. Also, the kid in this one isn’t annoying — a definite plus.

What’s terrible: Tea Leone. Her character screams and squeals her way across Isla Nublar, attracting every predator in range, warm blooded or cold. I have a hard time getting past that. These guys should have died in the first ten minutes. And the director should have made the Grant character smack her upside the head.

What else it lacked? Any sense of magic, or wonder, or fun. This is the movie that killed the franchise for a long, long time.

The Bronto Brew didn’t manage to get the movie up and playing, so I had to write this short blurb based on some old memories. I downloaded the film and will watch it as soon as I can, and post a legit rewatch soon. In the meantime, tell me what you thought of the (now) 5 Jurassic films, and which ones stood out in a good or bad way.

Movie Grade: C-

 

More on RunPee.com: 

The Real, Complete Re-Watch Review for Jurassic Park III (with fun bonus videos)

Review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Missed

Or click here to read everything we’ve written about the Jurassic movies. RunPee loves science. Even bad science, because it’s fun to pick those apart.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Movie Rewatch: Jurassic Park – The Lost World

While enjoying a lovely pint of hand crafted mead at the San Diego Bronto Brew Meadery, I got to view a free social rewatch of the entire Jurassic oeuvre. With Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom opening in the US this week, that’s five fun movies. Or, well, some fun movies and one that sucked (Hi, JP III).

While it’s got it’s detractors, The Lost World is a decent film, the second best in the series. It has a real plot that’s explored organically, with good characterizations, and some intensely riveting dino action.   Its main problem is that it can never be as tightly gripping or simply magical as the original. And it still has the goofy kid sequences that plague the franchise. But let’s talk about what we liked.

How about that RV scene? You know the one. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, playing Jeff Goldblum), not quite as dead as supposed, talks about the running and the screaming to follow. He’s in that turbo-charged Tech RV ( I WANT ONE) that a T-Rex couple industriously push off the side of a cliff. The humans did, as humans do, something incredibly stupid with the baby T-Rex, and now the parents need to rid their territory of the pesky people, in the most dramatic way possible.

The scene where Sarah lands on the RV window above the crashing coast is the singular iconic moment  in The Lost World. Never mind that someone with her education makes every  mistake from the Megafauna 101 class…at that moment, we’re with her,  holding our collective breaths, as the glass cracks spider outward. Brrr. Good scene. Silly stuff aside (these guys can’t hold that wet, muddy rope in their bare hands, much less

climb it, but whatever), it’s a stirring sequence. When poor Toby from the West Wing dies horribly we wince, and then cheer when the previously antagonist hunters lends their literal hands to save our guys. It’s all the people against the dinosaurs from this point on. 

There are chases, there are deaths. The chicken-sized Compys strike back against an arrogant human, and our unfortunate paleontologist dies a nasty death, somewhere between a snake bite, a waterfall, and one big set of jaws.

Things go pretty good, story-wise, introducing the Raptor area (cool shots of humans being hunted in the tall grass)…and then things start getting wacky. The gymnastics scene is obviously nuts, but the worst offense of The Lost World are the scenes on the ship and in San Diego.

One: If the T-Rex is still contained in the cargo bay, how come the bridge crew was eaten? No matter how many times I watch this, I still don’t understand how we’re supposed to believe this happened. There’s a hand gripping the steering wheel and no body…all while the large animal in question is contained. Below decks. Is there an invisible Raptor onboard?

There’s a scene showing how the T-Rex breaks out of containment after the ship crashes, and goes looking for drinking water (a pool) and food (poor doggy). I live in San Diego, and I don’t think they bothered to actually film down here. There’s some more unrealistic sequences of a hungry T-Rex “downtown” chasing trolleys, flinging cars, snacking on unfortunate people, and running after Tokyo businessmen (okay, the Godzilla nod was cute).

The climax scene, where the industrialist is used as a hunting lesson for the T-Rex Baby is…icky in its implications. I may not have liked the man, but no one deserves to be hobbled and eaten alive. It’s one of the things I don’t like about the Jurassic films: the deaths that people cheer at are just gristly. The assistant in Jurassic World 1 does NOTHING to deserve that horrific Ptherodont/Mosasaurus duo nightmare.  Did she have a villain scene left on the cutting room floor?

And Toby is split into two pieces in Lost World, while being a selfless hero. I guess I’m supposed to find it funny in Jurassic Park Classic when the “bloodsucking lawyer” gets chomped on the loo, but seriously, that’s some awful sh!t happening (no pun intended). I don’t know why that’s played for laughs.

I get it, people die when man meets beast. But I don’t feel good laughing about it. These films walk a thin line at times. But there I am again, talking about things I didn’t like. These movies are intended as a way to eat your popcorn and disengage the brain. These are movies where scientists are the heroes, and I very much appreciate that.

The things that are great: when the movies remember these creatures are animals, not monsters. When we feel the magic of our youth stirred by seeing “real” dinosaurs, and interacting peaceably with them. When John William’s stirring score carries us along, and we are reminded there are wondrous things ahead of us. I hope we might be wise enough to see them come to pass. I hope we will be ready, because, as we know…life finds a way. 

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Note: I’m definitely impressed with how John Williams manages to recall the beauty of the first film in his soundtrack, while also setting The Lost World apart with the fanfare of an almost military theme. It doesn’t have the softly nostalgic notes of the first film, but it stirs the soul nevertheless. The man is a national treasure. Get the movie and soundtrack here: 

Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World 1 are playing for FREE at San Diego’s Dino-themed craft beverage Bronto Brew Meadery. Come for two more free nights of giant screen movies, under T-Rex skeletons and beside a giant nest of Brontosaurus eggs. FREE events! Friday and Saturday nights, June 22 and 23, on 9235 Trade Place, D, San Diego, CA 92126 (619) 796 – 3096

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Jurassic Park Movie Rewatch at Bronto Brew Meadery

If you’re in San Diego and you can’t wait for Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom to come out (whoo hoo — next week!), then get your dino fix on at The Bronto Brew  Meadery for four free nights of sauropod fun.

All four previous Jurassic movies will be presented in the meadery on their large screen, and you can buy mead beverages as you sit by a nest of Brontosaurus eggs, or under the skeletons of a T-Rex family.

The meadery has an appealing dinosaur setting, encourages gaming and the gathering of geeks, and serves unique mead beverages. Mead is a honey wine, and they hand brew it on the premises, in both small and large batches (from 7 to 150 gallons).

It’s all mead, all the time — but each one tastes different. Some are sweet and some are dry, some are hoppy and others fruity.  They experiment with new mead flavors regularly. Their current tap list includes great dinosaur-themed names like Cretaceous Bloom, Hoposaurus, Velociberry, Citrodon, and Pure Bronto. You can also order a “Pterodactyl Flight” of 4 tastes.

I’ll be taking a behind the scenes tour tomorrow and get a lot of details for a proper review, with lots of pictures of their dino decor to help celebrate Dinosaur Month at RunPee.com. I’ve been there before — anything with dinosaurs interests me — but never for a review tour. So this should be fun.

Here’s the details of Bronto Brew Meadery’s Jurassic Park movie showings:

 


Hours of Operation

Friday: 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Saturday: 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Bronto Mead
9235 Trade Place, D, San Diego, CA 92126
(619) 796 – 3096
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 More, on RunPee.com:

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.

Movie Re-Watch – Sky High

I honestly forgot just how cute, and how much fun this 2005 film is. And I had the movie conflated in my head with Mean Girls, thinking Tina Fey was the gym teacher. Well, she’s not — instead, we have the equally awesome Bruce Campbell as the gym teacher. And in case you forgot, Sky High itself is a floating castle of a high school, specifically for young Superheroes-in-training. And also, sadly, a school for Sidekicks (AKA, “hero support”).

On your first day of school you get slotted as a Hero or Sidekick. And the teens we follow are those whose powers are so bizarre (melting into a puddle of slime) or minor (shape shifting into a guinea pig) that they are siloed as Sidekicks. And the main character – the son of the Earth’s most powerful superheroes – has no powers at all.

Sounds fun? It really is. The “evil plot” is a forgettable MacGuffin, so you can feel free to ignore everything to do with it, and get on with the good times one can imagine if an 80’s John Hughes film was steeped in a tea of Marvel goodness. There’s the smart-ass tormentors of the Sidekicks, the pretty mean girls, the snide cafeteria hijinks, the bad boy with a heart of gold, childhood crushes, school tournaments (Save The Citizen!), and kids who really just wants to fit in. Even if fitting in means he simply glows if he tries really hard — and only if it’s really dark enough.

Things to notice: the soundtrack that takes you way back. Funky posters on the walls, silly jokes and throwaway lines in background scenes, sly school loudspeaker announcements that you barely notice, a self-referential picture on a  pinball machine…it’s all there for the joy of it. Also, you’ve got Principal Linda Carter giving kids detention, shaking her head at the children and saying she’s not Wonder Woman, ya know.

Does the powerless kid get his powers? What do you think? Does the gawky girl get the boy? C’mon. From Steve Stronghold (Kurt Russel at his overbearing man-child best) as The Commander, to Ron Wilson, Bus Driver (who I want to give a hug for making lemonade out of lemons), this is a whole heap of fun and a good message. Sky High is a keeper for the download list, a nice background movie ranking next to The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller, and…yeah, Mean Girls.

Movie Grade: A-

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Content Director, and Managing Officer. RunPee Jilly likes sci fi movies, fantasy films, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder.