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Innerspace: Revisted

Innerspace revisited. In this series I re-watch a movie I haven’t seen in a long time to look at it with new eyes, and (hopefully) more experience. This time I revisit Innerspace.

I watched Innerspace when I was a kid and remember enjoying it. But my memory of it is so hazy I’ve been meaning to re-watch it for years.

Innerspace is about a washed up, drunken fighter pilot named Lt. Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) who participates in an experiment to shrink a submersible down to microscopic size (with Tuck in it). During the initial test, the lab is attacked by an organization who intends to steal the technology. The lead researcher escapes with the microscopic Tuck, and to protect him, injects Tuck into Jack Putter (Martin Short) a hypochondriac grocery clerk with cripplingly low self-confidence. Because Tuck’s initial test was meant to be brief, he only has twenty-four hours worth of air and the movie is a race for Tuck and Jack to work together to get Tuck back to normal size while avoiding the evil organization who is pursuing them.

The submersible has all this impressive technology, like the ability to automatically map the body’s pathways, sense location, emit electromagnetic pules and connect devices to the optic nerve and ear drums to see and hear what the subject sees and hears. What did these scientists intend to do with this technology? We never find out. I think the technology is really just a premise so we can get a movie with scenes like this:

Apparently Innerspace was originally written as a spy movie, but was re-written as a comedy when the film acquired director Joe Dante. The film still has elements of both genres, but it is a comedy first. Re-watching it revealed a lot of interesting an unexpected elements.

Here are six things I noticed when I revisited Innerspace.

Birth of the Dragon: The Art of Making Movies About Bruce Lee

Birth of the Dragon is a movie inspired by the fight that occurred between Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man in 1964 (before Lee was even cast in The Green Hornet). While Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) and Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) are central characters to the story, we follow protagonist Steve McKee (Billy Magnussen) who trains (initially) under Lee. Steve is an angry guy looking for direction, which he believes he finds under Lee’s tutelage until he meets Xiulan (Jingjing Qu), a Chinese woman who is enslaved by a local triad organization. When Steve falls for Xiulan, he looks to Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man to help him in his plot to set her free.

The best way to describe the film is that it is inspired by true events since the only universally accepted truth is that these two men did indeed fight. While there were a small number of witnesses, there are differing accounts of what occurred. Some say the fight lasted three minutes, others, that the fight lasted twenty minutes.

What actually happened will always be a mystery, but Birth of the Dragon works to show how their fight changed both men. The movie is as much about personal philosophy and growth as it is about martial arts and is part of what makes Birth of the Dragon so charming.

Here are six thoughts on Birth of the Dragon.

Snowden: Why Filmmaking Differs from Novel Writing

The Snowden movie is based on many sources, including The Snowden Files by Luke Harding, Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena, and director Oliver Stone’s own research. The two books are non-fiction accounts of Edward Snowden and the events that led to him perpetrating his smuggling and leaking of a large portion of data that demonstrated the NSA’s massive surveillance capabilities on American citizens and the world at large.

Snowden follows not only the events leading up to Snowden’s NSA leak, but also some of the aftermath of the leak as well, with Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) holed up in a Hong Kong hotel being interviewed by Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto), Laura Poitras (documentary filmmaker), and Guardian Washington correspondent Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson), who help break the story to the world.

When I’ve seen movies based on non-fiction books (or even fiction, for that matter) in the past, I’ve often heard people complain about the details that were left out. One friend even told me that such movies should simply be 100% faithful, event for event re-tellings of the book since the books are usually perfect.

Unfortunately, movies and books are different mediums with different capabilities, audiences, and demands. Since the movie Snowden appears to be heavily based on The Snowden Files, I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at why movies based on books are not (and should not be) completely accurate to their source or reality. (Please note: I will be discussing the film in its entirety, so, spoiler warning).

Reconsidering Paul W.S. Anderson

Paul W.S. Anderson doesn’t get a lot of respect for his work. It’s easy to look at the collection of films that he’s made and look down on them. There are cliches in the dialogue, a lack of heart and empathy built into the characters to make us care about them (which extends to characters not having reasons to care about each other), and uninventive plots. People look at his body of work and assume he just makes movies for the paycheck.

And yet there’s still a vast audience who enjoy his movies — even re-watch them. So I took a closer look at his work to unearth his films’ value and in my research I found a man who loves making the movies he makes.

Here are six reasons to reconsider Paul W.S. Anderson and his work.

Grosse Pointe Blank: Revisited – 5 Things I Didn’t Notice the First Time Around

Grosse Pointe Blank revisited. In this series I re-watch a movie I haven’t seen in a long time to look at it with new eyes, and (hopefully) more experience. This time I revisit Grosse Pointe Blank.

Grosse Pointe Blank is about a professional assassin Martin (John Cusack) who decides to go to back to his home town and attend his ten-year high school reunion. This is stressful for Martin. Not just because he doesn’t know what he’ll tell people he does for a living, but because he left town suddenly and with a lot of unresolved issues, including his ex-girlfriend Debi (Minnie Driver) whom he stood up on prom night. While Martin is good at his job, he seems unhappy. He visits a therapist (Alan Arkin) he half-jokingly threatens into keeping him as a client. His therapist advises him to go to the reunion: “Go see some old friends, have some punch. Don’t kill anybody for a few days. See what it feels like.” So Martin must confront his unresolved demons and Debi so he can figure out how to be happy while trying to survive his competition (in the form of fellow assassin played by Dan Aykroyd).

I haven’t re-watched the whole movie since I initially saw it back in the 90’s, so here I go again. Here are five things I didn’t notice the first time around in Grosse Pointe Blank. (Also, heads up: Spoilers.)