Tag Archive: Raiders of the Lost Ark


Review by C.J. Bunce

The Lost City arrived in theaters a little more than a month ago, but it’s already made its way to streaming provider Paramount+.  It’s a step above your average rom-com, a better than average new release and a worthy unofficial remake of the 1980s classic Romancing the Stone.  If you miss classic rom-coms steeped in adventure and lighthearted fantasy, this should be your next watch, a Sandra Bullock star vehicle with 16 years younger actor Channing Tatum as the potential love interest, a rare and welcome Hollywood choice–when was the last time you saw an older woman with a younger man in a major production?  Add Brad Pitt and Daniel Radcliffe, and some goofy humor and high adventure and The Lost City is movie that would have been difficult for anyone to get wrong.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

With a small but significant first–and possibly only–season now behind us, the latest Marvel series proved the promise of the series opener wasn’t just a fluke.  With unusually fantastic superhero storytelling and backstory, top acting, and unparalleled art production and music, Moon Knight is a serious contender for not only the best of Disney’s era of superhero series, it also springs ahead as better than all the Netflix Marvel series and any series (DC, Marvel, or indie) that came before in the superhero genre, complete with a Dark Knight villain done right, and a Wonder Woman who finally delivered on the excitement and potential of nearly a century of comic book superheroines.  The sixth and final episode of the season is now streaming on Disney+.  We’re only through four months of 2022, and even with some high calibre shows so far, if you see only one series this year, so far this is the one not to miss.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

TCM’s film reference library of books has looked at the best sci-fi and horror movies, dynamic actresses, Christmas movies, summer hits, noir and war movies, plus it’s highlighted more than 100 movies that are the best of the best–with another book that looks at the best of a century of movie directors.  Tomorrow movie fans finally get the first exploration of the greatest stunt work from a century of film and the people behind it all in Danger on the Silver Screen: 50 Films Celebrating Cinema’s Greatest Stunts (available for pre-order now here at Amazon).  From an icy peril in 1920’s Way Down East to a harrowing drive through Atlanta in 2017’s Baby Driver, readers will see how it’s done from contemporary accounts and new interviews.
Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

The best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe happens when a new writer or director’s vision is something we haven’t seen before.  For the movies, that’s merging into the MCU a quirky space fantasy crew in Guardians of the Galaxy, superheroes with restricted powers as in Thor: Ragnarok, or starring a less than super superhero like in Ant-Man.  In the TV series it’s introducing a unique, cool style like in Luke Cage or featuring an ex-military antihero with serious drama like in The Punisher.  In Disney’s Moon Knight, which is premiering its pilot episode now on Disney+, it’s building an intense, thrilling character who finds that something or someone has taken over his body, and he–and the audience–have no idea why.  It’s a mix of ancient mythology, magic, and adventure of the level of Raiders of the Lost Ark, with the best of today’s actors creating some truly fantastic and exciting characters.  And that’s just the first hour.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Four-time Oscar winner Nick Park and his Aardman Productions have netted stop-motion animation’s finest, most clever, laugh-out-loud creations.  His third Oscar-winning animated short film starring Wallace & Gromit, A Close Shave, introduced the Aardman’s international audience to Shaun, a “teenage” sheep whose adventuresome spirit gets him into trouble and who went on to star in several series and films of his own.  The latest comes directly to Netflix in time for Christmas, Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas, a story that mixes the best aspects of the finest holiday classics with a reflection of the trappings of our modern world.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of either of the three stars of Red Notice will probably flock to this latest direct-to-Netflix movie just to see their favorite star in their next picture.  But Red Notice, which arrived on the streaming platform this weekend, is another production that falls into the vibe of the old direct-to-VHS movies–it’s something you’d watch for free on cable but probably wouldn’t pay full movie ticket prices for it.  Going back to the first of Netflix’s exclusive production/distribution projects, Brad Pitt’s War Machine, subscribers began to see this trend, which, despite enormous box office budgets and big-name directors and actors, deliver only ho-hum content.  These include The Cloverfield Paradox, Extinction, IO, Polar, The Irishman, and Mank.  That isn’t to say Netflix never gets it right.  Roma, The Highwaymen, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Extraction, 6 Underground, and Rebecca are exceptions.

But how do you go wrong with Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot?  When that’s the only thing you deliver.

Continue reading

Raya a

Review by C.J. Bunce

Raya and the Last Dragon is the first animated movie created during the pandemic, with 900 creators working together to make a full-scale feature film from home.  The result is the best Disney animated film to date, filled with a great story combining all sorts of fantasy tropes, great visual action, exciting characters, good humor, blending historic themes with modern ideas and characters.  The entirely computer animated film also sports three strong female lead characters and is backed by an all female technical leadership team.  The result is a movie blending elements of Asian culture on par with Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind with the action of Raiders of the Lost Ark and the fantastical elements of The Lord of the Rings.  Count Raya and the Last Dragon among the creative works that shine brightly despite the adverse conditions of 2020. 

Continue reading

Notable in part for being the first animated movie out of Disney without the work of creator John Lasseter in 15 years, the next major animated movie from Disney features the voices of two well-known genre stars, and it looks a bit on theme with Disney’s last live-action movie, Mulan.  Raya and the Last Dragon is all computer-animated, and it features the voices of Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as Raya, a warrior heroine who is seeking the Last Dragon, named Sisu, voiced by comedy actor Awkwafina (Jumanji: The Next Level), all in a classic fantasy The Hobbit or The Last Unicorn-homage tale.

Continue reading

Anyone who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy also grew up with the Kenner line of action figures and other toys.  Eagerly awaiting kids learned about each new figure and each new ship and playset via commercials during Saturday morning cartoons.  They also learned about them in the Sears and JC Penney Christmas catalogs and mini-catalogs that accompanied certain ships, games and playsets–making checklists from the catalog for Santa was a key component of being a kid.  Over the next two days an auction house in Valencia, California is selling off a Star Wars fan’s ultimate dream collection.  At its Vintage Toys and Collectibles Live Auction, auction house Prop Store is auctioning off a spectacular collection of the Star Wars toys most kids from the era are familiar with, plus many of the rarer toys and prototypes that were known for decades to exist only through rumor and occasional obscure references.  Among the collection is a high-quality collection of nearly 100 pieces from Lucasfilm executive Howard Kazanjian.

Long before the latest Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill mentioned in interviews that certain Lucasfilm professionals received the line of new tie-in toy products as they were rolled out.  He mentioned that his kids enjoyed most of them, and he’s joked about wishing he’d saved some in the original boxes because of the sale prices some achieve today.  Kazanjian was also on that distribution list, and he maintained the toys he received in the mail for 40 years, some boxes were never opened and remain in near mint condition.  Prop Store’s auction catalog is incredible, a full color book of photographs and descriptive information almost as exciting as the auction itself–an extraordinary trip back through time even if you’re not able to drop $5,000–minimum–on a rare vinyl-caped Jawa or Yak Face variant action figure.

Bop bags, a Luke headset radio, Give-a-Show projectors, all the ships and action figures you remember, and trading cards are just the beginning,  The auction is featuring the rare Cloud City cardboard playset kids first saw in the Sears catalog–the only early playset that included four action figures (currently bidding at $400).  There’s the radio-controlled Sandcrawler (currently at $2,500), rare plush toys each starting at bids in the thousands of dollars, and all but the rare IG-88 figure in the large-sized version that was created for the key characters to match up with G.I. Joe and The Six Million Dollar Man.

But the 3.75-inch action figures make up the bulk of the toys hitting the auction block today.  The rare vinyl-caped Jawa even before the auction starts is already bid up to $6,000 (all bidders must pay the strike price plus more than 20% of the price for now-standard auction house fees).  An original R2-D2 is at $4,000, and if you want one of the rare “Power of the Force” Yak Face figures, it’s going to cost you more than $8,000.  At the end of the initial run of The Empire Strikes Back, I remember an entire wall of Yoda figures at my Target store being sold on clearance at fifty cents apiece.  That action figure type in this auction has already been bid up to $1,000.  In hindsight the figures on that clearance display were worth a small fortune.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: