Category Archives: Movies


I haven’t followed the Marvel versions of Captain Marvel, so I had no preconceptions of what to expect from the plot of this film. It begins more like a Star Wars film; in space, with the heroine part of a Kree team trying to rescue one of their agents on a world under attack by the Skrull. These two alien species have been at war for a long time in the Marvel universe, and the Skrulls go right back to the earliest issues of FANTASTIC FOUR, where they were tricky and evil alien shape-shifters. “Veers,” as the character is known, can’t remember her past before finding herself with the Kree, except for occasional moments and images. As the Kree group’s mission goes wrong, the story eventually takes us to Earth about twenty years in the past, where Veers crash-lands in a mall and is soon confronted by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury. Veers is after the Skrull that have followed her to Earth, and Fury is soon dragged into that battle, even while the powerful young woman is gradually getting her memories back and finding out that her past is actually much different than what she’s been told by the Kree.

This was fun and well-written. I liked the way the origin story was woven gradually into the film a little at a time. I thought Brie Larson was terrific in the title role: a strong person, confused on occasion but never at a loss and always ready to fight for what she wants. My second favorite character was played by Annette Bening in a dual role as a mentor and enemy. Much has been made of the de-aging of Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg as Nick Fury and Agent Coulson, but I hardly gave it a thought as I watched the film, it did not call any attention to itself. My only negative impression was the Skrulls, they seemed very much in a rubber suit, and hard to understand at times. Some action sequences were a bit too reminiscent of Star Wars, too, but most of the action worked well and was not as hard to follow as in some effects-laden films.

In all, this was a fine viewing experience and recommended.


Of course I had to see this. The books are favorites in my library, and I loved the 1964 film, even though I was somewhat disappointed when I first saw it because it differed so much from the books. And even at age 13 I knew Dick Van Dyke’s accent was trash. He was still great in every other way. Over many re-watchings, I came to love the film for what it is.

The new one is a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it. Emily Blunt’s take on the title character is actually somewhat closer to the books, she has more of an edge than Julie Andrews. Lin Manuel-Miranda does fine as Jack the lamp-lighter, clearly the equivalent of Bert the chimney-sweep in the first film. He does better with the accent and is charming. Here the two original film’s Banks children are grown, and Michael has three children of his own, and is recently widowed. His sister Jane is often on hand for support, but Michael is floundering, and about to lose the family house. Of the original staff, only Ellen the maid is present, now doing all the chores. Admiral Boom is still next door firing his cannon, and a few other characters from the books return or are added in the new film, with fine work by David Warner, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke, all in small roles. The music is pleasant, the songs are fun if not as memorable as the ones in the first film. (It’s telling that I was most moved by a few brief themes from the first film in the background.) The singing and dancing, sets and animation are all well done.

My only knock on the film is that it tries too hard to be like the first film, often imitating and drawing on the earlier work, as in, “we need a dance number like the chimney sweeps,” or “we must have a live action and animation mash-up with music hall number.” Yes, there are some unique ideas, but not many. I did like seeing a few more characters and situations from the books brought to life, and the acting and emotional resonance was fine, it all felt true enough. But, as the Disney trailers for new versions of “Lion King” and “Dumbo” emphasized, Disney now is all about drawing on past successes rather than breaking new ground.

For a young person who hasn’t seen the first film, this one might well become a beloved favorite. It was good, at times excellent, but it will always come well behind the 1964 film for me, and the books are best of all.


Image © Marvel. No spoilers.

I did not read a lot of their adventures growing up, except as part of The Avengers, but I always thought the ant and wasp connection was interesting. I heard good things about this film, and it lived up: funny, exciting, action-packed, good characters, interesting ideas. For one thing, the writers thought of many more uses for the shrinking/growing science than I ever imagined. This is a sequel to the film “Ant-Man,” which I haven’t seen.

Paul Rudd as the new Ant-Man looked familiar, but all I could find in his credits that I’ve seen were some “Seinfeld” episodes. He’s under house arrest for crimes committed when helping Captain America (perhaps in a film I haven’t seen). His young daughter visits, and the opening sequence with her is a charming cardboard-cut-out adventure he’s made for her that takes over his house. The original Ant-Man, played by Michael Douglas, is hiding from authorities, using his shrinking power to hide his entire laboratory. With him is his daughter Hope, played by Evangeline Lilly, the new Wasp. They are trying to find a way to rescue the original Wasp, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who has been trapped in the quantum realm for decades. They need the new Ant-Man’s help for that, but he’s only days away from freedom from house arrest.

To say the plot is complex is putting it mildly, but it all worked for me. There are plenty of action sequences, hundreds of uses of the shrinking/growing power, which for Paul Rudd’s character often seems to malfunction, and time is taken for nice character moments too. I liked nearly everything about this film, though I don’t think I could give you a coherent synopsis of the plot. Just go with the flow and have fun.

Oh, one thing. I was pranked into staying to the very end of the credits by some “friends” on Facebook talking about the extra scene there of great importance. It’s not. It’s nothing you haven’t already seen in the film. There is a longer mid-credits scene that looks like a coming attractions for a third film. That one is worth seeing.



Watching SOLO, A Star Wars Story

Image © Lucasfilm Ltd.

Don’t have a lot to say about this except that I enjoyed it and liked it a lot. I had no problem with two of the main characters, young versions of ones in the original film trilogy, being played by younger actors, Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover. Both did a fine job. That was not even an issue for Chewbacca! Woody Harrelson was great in his role as a world-weary thief/pirate that young Han takes as a role model. Han’s love interest played by Emilia Clarke did fine too, keeping us guessing as to her real plans and motives, and keeping the English accents in the series going. I can’t say I loved it as much as the first three, but it’s well worth seeing.


Watching MISTY (1961)

The film version of Marguerite Henry’s much-loved book for children, “Misty of the Chincoteague” is one I believe I saw on TV or in a theater as a child. In all the years since, I thought it was a Disney film, but when I bought a DVD of it in the Chincoteague Museum last weekend, I found out it was not! It’s just as good as many Disney live-action films, and better than some.

Paul and Maureen Beebe have come to live on their grandparents’ farm on Chincoteague Island, Virginia after the death of their parents. Grandpa Beebe has a small herd of ponies bought from the wild herd on Assateague Island, and he raises and sells young horses from it. Paul and Maureen are fascinated by the wild herd on Assateague, and while there decide an independent and swift mare called The Phantom (pictured above) is a horse they want to buy at the next annual sale, a tradition on the island. Usually only recently born and yearling horses are sold, but Paul and Maureen believe they can talk the Fire Company (who own the horses) into selling The Phantom to them. Their grandfather has told them that a pony costs $100 at the sale, and they work very hard through the spring and summer to raise that amount, first by gentling and training Grandpa Beebe’s own newborns, then by doing all kinds of odd jobs. On a visit to Assateague, Paul discovers that The Phantom has had a creamy-white foal which he names Misty. Now Paul and Maureen hope to buy both horses, though where the second hundred dollars will come from they don’t know.

The big event of the year is the annual Pony Swim, when the entire herd is rounded up and swum from Assateague to the fairgrounds on Chincoteague for the sale. Grandpa and Paul help with this, and Paul even jumps into the water to help a struggling Misty reach the shore. The day before the sale, Paul and Maureen visit the ponies who will be sold and discover that Misty already has a Sold tag! It seems a man from off-island wanted a horse for his young son, and made a pre-sale deal with the Fire Chief. Paul and Maureen’s hopes are dashed!

That’s enough of the plot, which is fairly predictable, but quite enjoyable. The film is beautifully photographed, the score is excellent, and the acting is generally fine, if a bit corny at times. Only six real actors are in it, including David Ladd as Paul, son of Alan Ladd, and later a film executive. Equally good performances are given by Pam Smith as Maureen, Arthur O’Connell as Grandpa Beebe and Anne Seymour as Grandma Beebe. Many small parts are filled by actual Chincoteague residents, who do fine, though their accents are a bit hard to follow.

As an adaptation of the book, this film does quite well. It’s reasonably close in many areas, with some events moved around or somewhat altered, notably a horse race. It also gives a fine portrait of the area, and the publicity from the film helped preserve Assateague and its wild horses. The spirit of the book is captured well, and the horses are damned cute!