It’s that time again, the time for updates, since enough time has passed. First of all, people asked me to give my opinion on the summer films of this year, and I’m not against doing this. How good are the films that have been released this summer? I’m now ready to give my take. I must admit that I’ve seen only several films this summer, and most of them were made by the The Walt Disney Company. But the ones that I did see didn’t really disappoint me. Toy Story 4 is the best film that I saw. This film had a long development period because of the departure of John Lasseter from Pixar Animation Studios. I read about this in Animation Magazine. Because of this, and because of the fact that the film is yet another sequel to Toy Story (1995), I had the feeling that Toy Story 4 might be somewhat disappointing. But this film surprised me when I saw it because it’s not only the best Pixar film since Incredibles 2 (2018). It’s also one of the best Pixar films of this decade. In my opinion, the director, Josh Cooley, delivered the goods. The characters have never looked better. The voice work is excellent. The humor is frequent. And we get to find out new things about Woody and the gang. It’s true that the film is formulaic, and it’s yet another sequel from Pixar, but, when the film is this good, I don’t feel like complaining. Still, I didn’t enjoy seeing Toy Story 4 as much as I enjoyed seeing Incredibles 2. Incredibles 2 is, in my opinion, the best Pixar film of this decade, even surpassing Inside Out (2015) and Finding Dory (2016) in terms of craftsmanship. I went to see it more than once in a cinema. Can you believe that Incredibles 2 could have been even better if Brad Bird and Pixar had been given more time to make it? The film is almost perfect as it is, but it could have been even better. The only thing that weighs it down is the lack of a truly memorable villain. But, otherwise, the film is perfect, in my opinion. Thank goodness that films like this can still be made from time to time in Hollywood. Bird deserved to win a second Oscar for his work, but, because of political reasons and because he already has one Oscar, the Oscar for Best Animated Feature was instead awarded to the filmmakers of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018). By the way, I finally figured out why Into The Spider-Verse isn’t an entirely satisfying film. Miles Morales, the new Spider-Man, is supposed to be the main character. But he spends almost the entire film either being a sidekick to Peter B. Parker or acting as comic relief. Only at the end of the film does he get to do something on his own, but, by that time, it’s too late for any character development for him. Therefore, Into The Spider-Verse lacks a fully developed protagonist. The animation style is also something that I find to be not entirely to my liking. It makes the film seem like a gimmick at times. Anyway, I’ve already posted my review of Into The Spider-Verse on my blog, and I don’t have to go into it in more detail. By the way, if you like the animation style of the film, I can recommend getting the art book ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – The Art of the Movie’. The only other film that I fully enjoyed seeing this summer in a cinema is Spider-Man: Far From Home. It’s yet another example of Marvel’s domination of the superhero genre in film form. Marvel continues to put the other Hollywood studios to shame. Even the recently released Shazam!, which is thought of by some people as the best DC film of recent years, doesn’t come close to the best Marvel films. I mean, really, is it that hard to make a good action film these days? I guess that it is, especially one with plenty of special-effects. Instead of lively, enjoyable flicks, we often get dour, distasteful flicks like Venom (2018), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), or Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016) from the other studios. How depressing. It seems that the only film form in Hollywood that has consistently delivered good films in the last decade is computer animation. In my opinion, Far From Home doesn’t rank among Marvel’s best, but it’s still a good flick. Tom Holland is definitely the best on-screen Peter Parker so far. So, there you go. I enjoyed seeing two films in a theater this summer, and both of them are films from Disney. I guess this means that this summer has been disappointing when it comes to new Hollywood films. But there are other new films that I found to be… passable, though not fully enjoyable. They are Annabelle Comes Home, Detective Pikachu, Missing Link, The Angry Birds Movie 2, Pet Sematary, The Secret Life Of Pets 2, Aladdin, Us, Hobbs & Shaw, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and Alita: Battle Angel. I saw almost all of these films long after they were released in theaters. I decided not to include The Lion King among these “just fine” flicks because seeing it felt strange to me. Firstly, this film was made entirely using computers. There are no human actors or real locations. But the film was still made to look as realistic as possible. Maybe this means that it can’t really be called an animated film, or maybe it can. It’s almost a scene for scene copy of the original 1994 film. This means that there’s nothing original about it except for the way it was made. The animals, since they were made to look as real as possible, aren’t as expressive as in the original animated film. In addition to all of this, I saw the original animated film only a few days before I went to see the remake in a theater. All of this added together made the film a strange and unenjoyable experience for me. Still, Pumbaa did fart once. But let’s move away from this somewhat depressing picture and focus on something else. The people that follow my blog should know that most of the films that I see aren’t new Hollywood films. If it’s a Hollywood film, it’s most likely one from the 1980s or it’s a so-called classic Hollywood film. Many films from Hollywood’s Golden Age really are a pleasure to watch for me. These films are well-acted and optimistic. By the way, if you’ve read the science fiction novel Titan by John Varley, you should know that Gaea, the old alien being that Cirocco meets at the end of the story, is obsessed with watching films from Hollywood’s Golden Age. I’m currently reading the book ‘Majestic Hollywood: The Greatest Films of 1939’ by Mark A. Vieira. The CIA’s Wikipedia even has a page dedicated to “Classical Hollywood cinema”. Here it is:
It seems that after this so-called Golden Age of Hollywood the only advances that have been made in the USA were in the fields of special-effects and computer animation. There were no cinematic advances in Western Europe at that time because industrial capitalism had become highly institutionalized in Western Europe by that time and thus provided little or no progress. Simultaneously, while these minor advances were happening, major elements of cinema like acting, music, and screenplays have been slowly getting worse in the USA. Hence, there’s all of the talk in the media about how influential George Lucas has been, and about what an icon he is, after the release of Star Wars (1977). I personally have nothing against this. Lucas is objectively an influential filmmaker, he doesn’t go around saying offensive things, and he deserves most of the praise that he gets. I very much like his films The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). I also don’t have a hatred for his prequel trilogy. The same goes for Steven Spielberg. Spielberg, for example, still manages to make good films. Lincoln (2012) and Ready Player One (2018) are some of the best films of this decade. Lucas and Spielberg did manage to make the turd that is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), but I haven’t seen Lucas’s special editions of the original Star Wars trilogy. The films that I have in my collection are the original, unaltered VHS versions of the trilogy. Therefore, I don’t have a hatred for Lucas. If Lucas had been responsible for an additional bad film like 300 (2006) or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), I’d have a reason to dislike him. The shame for making these two turds goes instead to the director Zack Snyder. Snyder’s 300 is a bucket of filth that somehow manages to get praised by brainless Americans and by some bought and paid for professional film critics. Sure, 300 isn’t the only bucket of filth that has been made in Hollywood in the last two decades. There have been many such buckets of filth. But I think that 300 is the film that is most representative of all of this filth. 300 is much louder, much more distasteful, and much more historically inaccurate than The 300 Spartans (1962), which is actually a fine film that’s worth seeing. In addition, I noticed that it promotes militarism and oligarchical rule. Sparta, the Greek city-state whose citizens and customs are portrayed as being worthy of imitation in the film, had oligarchical and militaristic rule. But Classical Athens, the Greek city-state whose citizens are portrayed as weak and ineffective in the film, had democratic rule. In fact, Athens is the birthplace of democracy and the model of democracy. It also became the most prosperous Greek city-state after the Greco-Persian Wars. Now, if you want to know what a real democracy should be like, you should read some history books about Classical Athens or at least look at the Wikipedia page about Fifth-century Athens. It’s quite different from the so-called democracy that exists in the USA. In addition, I recommend reading Carroll Quigley’s books ‘The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis’ (1961) and ‘Weapons Systems and Political Stability: A History’ (1983), which provide even more useful information and conclusions about Ancient Greece. I think that this is important because most people these days don’t know what democracy is supposed to be like, partly because of the fact that they get a bad education in school. This is why some middle class people fall for oligarchical swindles like libertarianism and why other middle class people think that democracy is a failure and thus become irrational pro-fascists. The overwhelming majority of Americans, for example, don’t care about democracy. They don’t even know what it is. What they do care about is the empire that the USA possesses. Therefore, when you criticize the American political system, they respond in a calm and apathetic manner. But, when you criticize the American empire and overseas operations, they respond in a heated and confrontational manner (even in a psychotic manner). The same goes for class structure in the USA. This is the case because they’ve been taught to think like this by the American ruling class. They’ve been taught to think that they have a right to trample on others and to stick their noses in every crack. But, when it comes to democracy and their economic rights under capitalism, they take a conservative and unconcerned position. This isn’t true for all Americans, but it’s undoubtedly true for most Americans.