East Texas Pan-Geek, An Introduction

Alright, so, let’s begin. My name is Tom, and I’m a pan-geek.

Over a decade ago, a dear friend came up with the idea of pan-geeks – scifi fans that also liked regular science, fantasy, sports, board games, videogames, cosplay & conventions – basically a cross-section of nerdiness that wasn’t confined to just being a Trekkie, or a Browncoat, or a Whovian, but any & every one who got excited about being a geek and would bring what excited them to the figurative or literal table to share with others.

It was a fun group of folks, and I have since considered myself as not just a geek because of it.

When I lived in Austin, Texas, I would attend free screenings & write reviews for SciFi4Me.com. Fun times with that website, too. It’s still a going concern for Jason and his crew, check it out, if you like.

I’ve been living here in the eastern part of Texas for the last six years. Since there is next to nothing to do here (or, put another way, I don’t hear about events until after the fact), I watch a lot of movies, using streaming services like Hulu & Netflix, the Redbox rental service, and by simply going to the movie theater. But, since there isn’t a major market near here, the free screenings have ended.

Back in December, I joined AMC Stubs, and have not missed a week’s worth of three movies since then, sometimes just going to all three in a day. Friends & co-workers have suggested I start a blog to share my thoughts about what I’m watching, since I’m going to some of the same movies multiple times, and have hardly missed a new release unless I just had absolute zero interest in it.

This isn’t a personal blog, it won’t be a life story. It will be public, and it will be open for discussion if anyone wants to comment on what I’ve watched, what they’re watching, or what they are excited about seeing in the future, or an old favorite to share.

1917 (2019) BigD

When I saw the first trailer for 1917, I thought it looked interesting. The second trailer, even more so. The movie just opened here last Friday, so I reserved my AMC Stubs ticket to see it. I saw a YouTube video reviewer suggest seeing it on the largest screen possible, so I went with the BigD screen option at AMC Tyler.

I watched 1917 last night, and holy shit, what a fucking incredible experience of a film that was.

Two soldiers are tasked with delivering a message to stop an attack during World War I. That’s it. All they have to do is walk cross country from where they are to where they need to be during a war where the enemy has pulled back their forces and are in retreat. The general sending these two men knows its a trap, the colonel leading the attack does not, he thinks his offensive will end the war.

Colin Firth, Andrew Scott, Mark Strong & Benedict Cumberbatch have single scene roles that are spread out through the film.

Sam Mendes directed & co-wrote the film. And its done as a single shot with only one obvious cut, over an hour into it. The camera is always moving, shifting focus, following the soldiers and their eyeline point of view. And that helps bring tension and drama to the scenes as they cross No Man’s Land, explore an abandoned German bunker, and make their way across France.

Seriously, 1917 has made me start my “Best of 2020” list already.

Spies in Disguise 3D (2019)

My original plan was to see Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker IMAX yesterday. I decided not to drive to the AMC Tyler twice in two days, after going to see Star Wars IMAX 3D & Richard Jewell Wednesday evening. So, instead, I went to AMC Lufkin for the last 3D showing of Spies in Disguise. I even had Theater 5 to myself until just as the movie started, when more folks showed up.

Will Smith voices Lance Sterling, a James Bond – esque super spy for America, who has to go on the run when he’s framed by the villain, voiced by Ben Mendelsohn. Apparently that guy is just gonna make a career of being evil, aside from his appearances in the Marvel movies. Tom Holland is Walter, the weird tech guy who makes non-lethal equipment for the government agency. When Sterling goes to Walter’s house, he drinks a formula that turns him into a pigeon.

Pigeon Sterling and Walter are then on the run and on the way to stop the bad guy from obtaining the list of all the agents working for the US government & attacking using killer drones.

Rashida Jones, Karen Gillan, DJ Khaled, Masi Oka, and Reba McEntire have supporting roles in the adventure.

First off, the movie opened with Scrat from the Ice Age films providing the Blue Sky studio logo, and it reminded me that its been forever since I watched a Blue Sky movie. Looked it up, and the last one they produced was Ferdinand, which was three years ago & is one I still have not watched. Dammit.

Second, the 3D was nice, and used to good effect in some parts, but I don’t think it was necessary. If its still playing in 2D in a couple of weeks, I may go check it out again after I get caught up on a few other new releases.

Third, I was glad to see that Lance Sterling actually looks like an animated Will Smith. I remember back when Planet 51 came out, and Dwayne Johnson was cast as the voice of a blonde haired, blue eyed astronaut.

Fourth, there’s a lot of humor in this movie, I laughed quite a bit during it. Some of it falls flat, but for the most part, its enjoyable.

Fifth, there is animated nudity. A villain, when caught just getting out of a pool, drops his towel and there’s tattooed man ass on the screen. And again, the same man ass after that character is knocked out. That was surprising.

Finally, if ya stay to the end of the credits, there is an 8 bit animation that ties in with a scene from earlier in the movie, but it isn’t necessary to watch. It isn’t a bonus, or a setup for a sequel, just a cute little thing at the very end.

But, speaking of credits, I also enjoyed the James Bond – ish opening credit sequence, foreshadowing events of the movie.

Top Ten to See Winter 2019/2020

So, I made a list of Top Ten to see this winter after I saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the last of the ten to see this past fall. Two of the movies on my list have already been watched, twice.

December 13th
Jumanji: The Next Level

December 20th
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker

December 25th
Little Women

Janury 10th

January 17th
Bad Boys for Life

January 24th
The Gentlemen

Febuary 7th
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

March 6th

March 20th
A Quiet Place Part II

March 27th

There are two movies I want to see in April, so far, The New Mutants (April 3rd), if it actually gets released, and No Time To Die (April 10th), the new James Bond film. And then we’ll go right into the summer!

Bombshell (2019)

I went out to the Cinemark in Lufkin Friday afternoon, and used my rain check voucher from the Fathom Events’ screening of When Harry Met Sally to watch Jay Roach’s Bombshell.

Based on the true story of the sexual harassment scandal at FOX News that led to the termination of Roger Ailes and, as a side effect, Bill O’Reilly. The film stars Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson, John Lithgow as Roger Ailes, and Malcolm McDowell as Rupert Murdoch. And Margot Robbie as a fictional composite character Kayla Pospisil. Its a shame that her character is the fictional character amidst all the real life events, since her story is the most dramatic in the film.

Mixed in with all that is archive footage from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

There is voice over narration, some talking to the camera, names, positions & dates superimposed over the action on screen.

And a text wrap up at the end, which I thought was interesting, since it says FOX paid out more to Ailes & O’Reilly than they did to their victims.

With this trip to the Cinemark, there were not any technical issues, though I was surprised by the Google video commercial mixed in with the trailers. Trailer, trailer, commercial, trailer, trailer, two more commercials, and then the movie.

230 "New to Me" Movies Watched in 2019

Thanks to my AMC Stubs membership, Fathom Events, streaming services Netflix & Hulu, rentals from Redbox, and a Victory membership with the Alamo Drafthouse, I watch two hundred & thirty movies that were new to me in the year 2019.

The rules to be a new to me movie are pretty simple – either a brand new film I haven’t watched before or an older movie I haven’t seen either in a theater or at home, or an old favorite I haven’t seen in a theater before, but have watched at home. Format changes, such as 2D, 3D, IMAX, IMAX 3D, or BigD count, too. For example, I watched Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker in 2D at the Alamo Drafthouse in North Richland Hills, Texas and again in 3D at the AMC Lufkin in Lufkin, Texas last week. Next week, I’ll be watching it again in IMAX and IMAX 3D at the AMC Tyler. So, that movie will be on both my lists of “new to me” movies in 2019 and 2020.

So, with that in mind, here’s the list!

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018) – theater
The Mule – theater
Escape Room – theater
Annihilation – Hulu
Miami Vice (2006) – Netflix
Welcome to Marwen – theater
Bohemian Rhapsody – theater
The Commuter – Hulu
Second Act – theater
Replicas – theater

The Upside – theater
A Star is Born (2018) – theater
Creed II – theater
Glass – theater
On the Basis of Sex – theater
Fyre Fraud – Hulu
Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened – Netflix
The Last Laugh – Netflix
Chinatown (1974) – Hulu
The Two Jakes (1990) – Hulu

Pet Sematary (1989) – Hulu
Pet Sematary II (1992) – Hulu
Green Book – theater
Serenity (2019) – theater
The Favourite – theater
Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias: One Show Fits All – Netflix
Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs Mutants – Netflix
Bird Box – Netflix
The Greatest Showman – Hulu
Miss Bala – theater

The Kid Who Would Be King – theater
Joe Rogan: Strange Times – Netflix
Sorry to Bother You – Hulu
Free Solo: The IMAX Experience – theater
Ray Romano: Right Here Around the Corner – Netflix
Killer Elite – Netflix
I, Tonya – Hulu
Moonstruck – Hulu
Mystic Pizza – Hulu
Once Upon a Deadpool – DVD

Happy Death Day – redbox
The Equalizer 2 – redbox
The Girl in the Spider’s Web – redbox
Constantine: City of Demons – redbox
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part IMAX – theater
They Shall Not Grow Old 3D – theater
Alita: Battle Angel IMAX 3D/2D – theater/theater
Cold Pursuit – theater
Isn’t It Romantic – theater
Happy Death Day 2U – theater

Uncle Drew – Hulu
Fighting With My Family – theater
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 3D/2D – theater/theater
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2D – theater
Greta – theater
Captain Marvel IMAX/3D/2D – theater/theater/theater
Thunderbold and Lightfoot – Netflix
Apollo 11 – theater
Jimmy Carr: The Best of Ultimate Gold Greatest Hits – Netflix
The First Purge – Hulu

Skyscraper – Hulu
Teen Titans Go! to the Movies – Hulu
Five Feet Apart – theater
Wonder Park 3D – theater
Captive State – theater
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase – theater
The Death of Superman – theater
Us BigD – theater
Cruel Intentions (1999) – theater
Reign of the Supermen – theater

Dumbo 2D – theater
The Meg – Hulu
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Hulu
Gloria Bell – theater
Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger ‘Restless Energy’/’White Lines’ – Alamo Drafthouse
The Highwaymen – Netflix
Shazam! IMAX/3D – theater
Pet Sematary (2019) BigD – theater
The Best of Enemies – theater
Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special – Netflix

Missing Link 3D – theater
Ben-Hur (1959) – Fathom Events
Hellboy (2019) – theater
Disney Nature Penguins – theater
Breakthrough – theater
BlacKKKlansman – Hulu
Freddy vs Jason – Netflix
Jeff Dunham: Minding the Monsters – Netflix
Jeff Dunham: Controlled Chaos – Netflix
Crazy Rich Asians – Hulu

Avengers: Endgame 3D/IMAX/IMAX 3D/2D -theater/theater/theater/theater
The Intruder – theater
Long Shot – theater
The Bishop’s Wife (1947) – Netflix
Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much – Netflix
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – Hulu
The Hustle – theater
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu 3D – theater
Action Point – Hulu
Poms – theater

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum IMAX – theater
Tolkien – theater
Booksmart – theater
Aladdin (2019) – theater
Brightburn – theater
Ma – theater
Rocketman – theater
Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Fathom Events
Godzilla: King of the Monsters IMAX/2D – theater/theater
Dark Phoenix 2D/IMAX – Alamo Drafthouse/theater

Men in Black: International IMAX – theater
Shaft (2019) – theater
Late Night – theater
Field of Dreams (1989) – Fathom Events
Toy Story 4 IMAX – theater
The Secret Life of Pets 2 – theater
Child’s Play (2019) – theater
Anna – theater
Yesterday – theater
The Dead Don’t Die – theater

The Spy Who Dumped Me – Hulu
Bob Saget: Zero to Sixty – Hulu
Sklar Brothers: Hipster Ghosts – Hulu
Attack the Block – Hulu
Godzilla (1): Planet of the Monsters – Netflix
Spider-Man: Far From Home 2D/3D/IMAX – Alamo Drafthouse/theater/theater
The Old Man & the Gun – Hulu
Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles – Hulu
Proud Mary – Hulu
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot – Hulu

G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987) – Hulu
Robin Hood (2018) – Hulu
Robin Hood (2010) – Hulu
Crawl – theater
Stuber – theater
Love, Simon – Hulu
Fight Club – Hulu
The Lion King 3D/2D (2019) – theater/theater
Child’s Play (1988) – Hulu
Child’s Play 2 (1990) – Hulu

Child’s Play 3 (1991) – Hulu
Dunkirk – Hulu
1922 – Netflix
Hearts Beat Loud – Hulu
The Muppet Movie (1979) – Fathom Events
Once Upon a Timeā€¦in Hollywood – theater
Widows – Hulu
The Angry Birds Movie 2 2D – theater
Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw 2D – theater
The Kitchen – theater

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary – Hulu
Where’d You Go, Bernadette – theater
Blinded by the Light – theater
Good Boys – theater
Ready or Not – theater
47 Meters Down: Uncaged – theater
A Bad Moms Christmas – Hulu
Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones – Netflix
Molly’s Game – Hulu
Peppermint – Hulu

Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State – Netflix
Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins – theater
Spider-Man: Far From Home – Extended Cut – theater
IT: Chapter Two IMAX – theater
The Peanut Butter Falcon – theater
Angel has Fallen – theater
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – theater
The Happytime Murders – Hulu
Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Hulu
Bill Burr: Paper Tiger – Netflix

The Goldfinch – theater
Hustlers – theater
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) – Fathom Events
Between Two Ferns: The Movie – Netflix
Rambo: Last Blood BigD – theater
Ad Astra IMAX – theater
Brittany Runs a Marathon – theater
Jeff Dunham: Beside Himself – Netflix
Deadpool 2: Super Duper Cut (Unrated Version) – Hulu
Abominable 2D/3D – theater/theater

Joker – theater
Ghostbusters (1984) – Fathom Events
Judy – theater
The Addams Family BigD (2019) – theater
Jexi – theater
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back – Fathom Events
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot – Fathom Events
Justice League vs the Fatal Five – redbox
Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans – redbox
Gemini Man 2D – theater

Zombieland: Double Tap – theater
Little Monsters – Hulu
Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash – Hulu
Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League – Attack of the Legion of Doom – Hulu
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil IMAX – theater
Black and Blue – theater
Countdown – theater
Dracula (1931) – Alamo Drafthouse
Dolemite (1975) – Alamo Drafthouse
Dolemite is My Name (2019) – Netflix

Terminator: Dark Fate IMAX – theater
Motherless Brooklyn – theater
The Lighthouse – theater
Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby – Netflix
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie – Netflix
Last Christmas – theater
Doctor Sleep – theater
Jojo Rabbit – Alamo Drafthouse
Midway (2019) – theater
Playing with Fire – theater

Ford v Ferrari IMAX – theater
Charlie’s Angels BigD – theater
Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Redbox
The Good Liar – theater
21 Bridges – theater
Knives Out – theater
Mike Birbiglia: The New One – Netflix
Frozen II IMAX – theater
The Irishman – Netflix
The 24 Hour War (2016) – Netflix

Shelby American – Netflix
Harriet – theater
Queen & Slim – theater
The Spirit – Hulu
Playmobil: The Movie – theater
Jumanji: The Next Level 3D/2D – theater/theater
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – theater
Dark Waters – theater
Black Christmas (2019) – theater
Michelle Wolf: Joke Show – Netflix

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker 2D/3D – Alamo Drafthouse/theater

Fathom Events: When Harry Met Sally 30th Anniversary

I went out to the Cinemark Lufkin Tuesday for the four o’clock matinee of When Harry Met Sally. This is one of my favorite movies, and the second time I’ve seen it in the theater. I’ve watched it on VHS, DVD, and cable over the last few decades, and even have an autographed copy from Rob Reiner, from a screening event in Austin a few years ago.

So, Fathom Events. There’s preshow trivia, usually. An introduction to the movie, and then a little something after the credits from Turner Classic Movies. This was advertised in the trailer for the event, too.

I was one of only two people in the theater for the matinee. There was preshow trivia on the screen. There were trailers for the ballet series and an anime film coming to theaters through Fathom Events. The house lights went down, the screen went dark, there was a second or two of audio, and then the house lights came back up, nothing on the screen, no sound from the speakers.

I was back row, center of Theater 12, and could hear audio in the projection booth. When the opening music started, without a picture on screen, I went to complain.

Two employees behind the concession counter, one manager in front of it. Employee #1 looked at me, and asked how he could help me. I told him what was going on in the theater, and he said he would let a manager know, and just turned to look at the woman standing on my side of the counter. She said she would take care of it.

I go back into the theater, and a moment or two later, the movie starts, but it is already in progress, with Harry making out with Amanda as Sally pulls up. I go back out to the lobby, and catch the manager. I told her the movie was in progress, and asked if it could be restarted. She said she would take care of it.

I go back into the theater again, and Harry is rolling down the window after spitting grape seeds at it. The movie freezes, goes forward a bit, then freezes, and goes back to Meg Ryan’s name in the opening credits. No studio logo, no Billy Crystal. The manager decided that was good enough, and the movie restarted.

Prior to the screen going black at the beginning, there was a card up saying to stay after the credits for the TCM insight into the movie.

The movie itself played without any further issues, thankfully. Its still funny, I still love it. It will always be one of my favorites.

The other theater guest & I both sat through the credits, but as soon as they were done, the screen went dark and the house lights came back up.

No insight from TCM.

I went back to the concession counter & complained to two other employees, asking for a refund since the there were so many problems with the start of the movie, and nothing from TCM as advertised. They called a manager to the counter, different from the one when the movie started. I told him everything that had happened, and was given a rain check card instead of a refund.

Guess that would have to be good enough.

The next Fathom Event, Meet Me in St. Louis, isn’t playing in Lufkin. Not sure when I will use this rain check…

Doctor Sleep (2019)

I read both The Shining and Doctor Sleep a couple of years back. I’ve seen the movie version of The Shining few times, too. I went out Friday night, watched Last Christmas (didn’t much care for it) and Doctor Sleep.

Doctor Sleep shows Danny and his mother in Florida immediately after the events of The Shining. As Danny grows up, he is haunted by the ghosts from the Overlook Hotel, mentally boxing each of them. In the process, he becomes a drug user and alcoholic. In New England, he makes a new life for himself, joins AA & gets a job at a nursing home, where he uses his gift to help the older residents transition from this life to the next.

There’s also a young girl who makes contact with Danny, using her gift to write on a chalkboard in his one bedroom apartment.

Bringing the two together is the threat of a group of gypsies with abilities of their own who hunt those that “shine”, consuming them.

Yes, there are differences from the book, which was to be expected. But I still enjoyed the movie quite a bit. It was suitably disturbing, though not really scary.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

I watched the complete Breaking Bad series via Netflix a few years back, so I figured I was good to go to watch the new movie starring Aaron Paul returning to play Jesse Pinkman.

Of course, Aaron Paul isn’t the only actor to reprise a role from the series, though a couple are just one scene cameos, but still good to watch. And it features Robert Forster’s final role.

Set immediately after the events of the series finale, with flashbacks to Jesse’s time as a prisoner of the drug Nazis during the final season, with a focus on Jesse’s attempts to get out of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Biggest problem I had with the movie was how everyone has aged, especially Jesse Plemons. But that can’t be helped, considering the series ended six years ago.

The Lighthouse (2019)

I went out to AMC Tyler yesterday since it is the only local AMC showing The Lighthouse. I had planned to see it last week, when I was at the same theater to watch Terminator: Dark Fate IMAX and Motherless Brooklyn, but a flat tire on the way ruined those plans. Had I been able to see all three movies in a day, I would have had a Willam Dafoe double feature mostly by accident.

I went into The Lighthouse blind, meaning I had not seen a single trailer or promotion for it, aside from the movie posters.

I did not expect a square picture, or a completely black & white film. For awhile when it started, I was wondering if there would even be dialogue, since it takes quite a bit of time before anyone says anything, and the first line of the movie is Robert Pattinson saying, “Son of a …” after bumping his head.

Two men arrive on a north Atlantic island to tend a lighthouse for a month. Dafoe’s Wake is the boss who is possessive over the tower light, with Pattinson’s Winslow having to do all the other work on the small island.

And for two hours of film, you get to watch Winslow slowly lose his damn mind, with the help of isolation, alcohol, an aggressive one-eyed seagull, storms, and a mermaid.

Gonna have to file this one under, “The fuck did I just watch?”

Terminator: Dark Fate IMAX (2019)

I got out to AMC Tyler to see the new film of the Terminator franchise. And Dark Fate follows the same rule as some other recent sequels of ignoring some sequels while following others. In this case, Dark Fate is a direct sequel to The Terminator and T2: Judgment Day, ignoring Terminator: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation, and Terminator Genisys. It also ignores the television series, The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Starting in 1998, the film quickly skips ahead twenty-two years. A new Terminator and a protector have been sent back from the future. At the center of the action is Dani, a Mexican auto factory worker. Grace saves her, Rev 9 is chasing them.

Sarah Connor arrives to save Dani & Grace. It turns out that Sarah has been hunting different Terminators, taking them out as they arrive in the past from a future that would never happen since Judgment Day was stopped in T2.

I enjoyed the hell out of the movie even before Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up, and it gets better afterward.

Rev 9 follows the pattern of being advanced from the previously featured Terminators in that he can separate into two – the endoskeleton and a liquid metal cover. He can also shapeshift & change his appearance.

There’s a good explanation for Schwarzenegger’s model, too.

And Linda Hamilton’s Sarah being a bitter, angry ass kicker was great.

The IMAX format for the movie looked good, and I may be going back to see it in a regular theater format.

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