SPOILED SPOILER ALERT!

Recently, I received a notice to view a new feature film through the studio’s secure streaming link. This link is provided by reviewers of said films (this party included) in order to view the title before its official release. Many smaller film releasing groups, as well as a few of the larger and better known studios, use streaming because it’s a whole lot cheaper (if not convenient) to offer the title to look at for its editorial review.

Anyway, this studio that this writer will not name (but trust us, it’s part of a huge conglomerate that currently owns money making intellectual property, or “IP” for short), sent to me the information of this title, along with how to watch and how long the link will be active.

But one interesting notice that was along with the details of the film. Written below was this disclaimer that reviewers such as myself, were suggested to follow, and perhaps obey. It read…

In order to give audiences around the world the opportunity to enjoy our movies to the fullest and allow them to discover any surprises and plot twists, we respectfully ask that you as press refrain from revealing spoilers, cameos, character developments and detailed story points in your coverage, including on social media.

OK then! We get it. When we compose our review for this big time feature, we are not supposed to review how the movie turns out. We are not going to inform you what happens to all of the characters in this movie. This way, if you know how everyone turns out, you really won’t care to schlepp over to your friendly neighborhood movie house in order to plunk down as much as $17.00 per person (maybe even more, depending on where you drag yourself off to), to sit inside of the multiplex for its 100 or so minute running time to view all of its action and know how everyone’s gonna come out in its end. That notion does make sense.

Then again, if one really wants to see the said movie even if one already knows how it will finish (or even if a sequel will be in the works, intended or otherwise), one can wait for six or so weeks and see that same movie on a streaming service for the same price of a movie admission ticket in the comfort and privacy in one’s own home domain. It also makes sense as well.

This is something that is now being a commonplace notion on the shelf life of a feature film title. Now it appears that movies don’t play in theaters as long as they once did, and for good reason. It’s a matter of various notions, from economics to easy access to peace of mind.

Once upon a time not so long ago, movies used to make its presence in a movie theater as long as the movie had “legs”, an industry term meaning that a specific title still held the draw to make box office money. Thus, it could still stand on its own “legs”. Sometimes a movie will keep a theatrical run for a few weeks. If the movie was really popular, it would last for months. When 20th Century Fox released Star Wars in theaters on the Memorial Day weekend in 1977, the movie continued to run constantly until the next Memorial Day weekend in 1978. By May of ’78, it was mostly playing in second run or “scratch” theater, but still enjoying a movie house show schedule somewhere. Then again, this was before home video really took off.

The decade of the 80’s was the start of the home video era. This included releases on videotape as well as the rise of subscription cable TV (HBO, Showtime, etc.) The average wait time from a movie’s theatrical release to when it would be available on videotape to rent (mostly) and to purchase outright was around six months. (A July theatrical release would be available around December/January, etc.) For pay TV, that window was one year after the theatrical release. This writer was working for a franchised cable TV provider at the time, and when the local office would receive the monthly program guilds provided by HBO and Showtime, the photos and graphic art of the previous year’s blockbuster would be splashed on its cover. Raiders of the Lost Ark was on the cover for the June, 1982 editions as that movie was released in June of ’81.

Things started to change when Paramount Home Video made an announcement that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan would be made available on home video four months after its theatrical release and would be offered on home video with its suggested retail selling price at $39.95. This was one of the first (if not the first), major releases on videotape to be offered at an “affordable” price. Of course, one can also rent it out at one’s favorite place to rent videotapes. But the idea here was that one could see it at home for just four or so months when it was playing in theaters.

But over time and tide, the window of theatrical run versus TV availability became shorter and shorter and seeing a new film in a theater was not the only place to view a title. The rise of streaming in combination with the results from the pandemic was a major game changer. Now folks are very comfortable viewing a movie on their video device and going to see the title in a traditional movie house. That option is for a lot of reasons. Right now, thanks to the rate of inflation running as high as it is, folks would rather cut back on their spending. Streaming subscriptions are running far less than what one would have to pay for admission in a movie house, especially if one is looking at a tile with another person. (It’s the “Netflix and Chill” attitude here, minus the notions for any post-movie engagement if you know what we mean here!) And since gas prices are running as high as they are, one doesn’t have to crank up the ol’ Toyota in order to drive to the movie house. Just turn on your device that sports a screen and can connect to the internet, and you are good to go!

There’s no real spoiler alert that one element is missing from viewing a movie in a theater vs. watching the same title at home or where one is at the moment. It’s the emotional appearance that movies have when you are with a bunch of strangers sitting inside of the dark area where everyone present can react to what’s going on the screen. But depending on the movie and depending on the crowd present, that emotional appeal now serves as an afterthought. On many occasions, one doesn’t even notice that there is a crowd present. It is notable that during the movie as seen in a theater, one can’t talk to another person either present in the theater or on the phone, one can’t text to another person, and if one has to answer the call of nature, there isn’t a “pause” button to engage to stop the action while one has to get up from their seat in order to do their business. So much for the convenience factor.

So I’ll just take the advice from this big time movie studio and won’t give out the points that I am not supposed to mention within my review. I won’t say who will win, who will lose out, and even won’t note that there will be a “monk’s reward” built in this tile. (The latter term means that there will be a scene running about a minute or so after the end credits roll out that can review some important issues to the movie, including if there will be a sequel in the works!) So fear not folks. I will make sure you get your money’s worth, even if you have to wait to place your comments on your social media portals an hour later than you desire. And we’ll see you at the movies!

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LIGHTYEAR (Disney/Pixar) tells the real story about the space ranger of the Star Command that went on missions that took him to infinity and beyond.

Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) serves as part of the team of space rangers that is on a mission set upon a distant star consisting of a colony of star commanders. His assignment is to formulate a fuel source to get this colony back to their home base. His partner is Commander Alisha Hawthorne. (Uzo Aduba)  When Buzz tests the fuel using a single rocket, something occurs where he bends the time barrier where he leaves for a four year period. (Four earth calendar years that is!) But he must attempt to find the proper fuel blend, even if each test takes another four years. But as the crew on the base ages while he’s gone, Buzz remains the same physical age. With his one personal assistant, a robot cat named Sox (Peter Sohn), Buzz finally finds the proper fuel blend, although over sixty years have passed since. This time, he’s teamed up with Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer), the granddaughter of Alisha, as well as a motley crew consisting of Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi) and Darby Steel (Dale Soules) who fight a army of robots lead by Emerior Zug (James Brolin) who has a mission of their own to get that fuel source that can bring power to Zug’s ships as well as their power of commandment.

This spin off to the once herald character that consisted of a plaything first seen in Toy Story some twenty seven years ago, is now a bonafide space commander. It’s bringing a new dimension to the beloved franchise that not only put Pixar Studios on the animation map, but changed animation almost forever through computer generated imagery, or CGI for short! However, this film is far removed from the antics of Toy Story and its related sequels. It’s a CGI space feature that just so happens to be a postmodern “cartoon”! It has action, sci-fi thrills, adventure, a lot of close calls, and plenty of comedy relief that Pixar features are most noted for. The story by Angus McaLane (who also directs), Matthew Aldrich, and Jason Headley with screenplay by Angus McaLane & Jason Headley blends all of these emotions into a fine animated package. It shows off the best of Buzz Lightyear who can’t ever compare with a friendly buckaroo of a cowboy that serves as sheriff.

There are others whose vocal talents are also present. Mary McDonald-Lewis plays
I.V.A.N., a programmed instrument board on the commanding ship, Isiah Withlock, Jr. As Commander Burnside, Angus MacLane is featured as Eric/Deric, and Zyclops, Bill Halder is rookie Featheringhamstan, with Efren Ramirez as Airman Diaz, and Keira Harston as a younger Izzy. One person who is absent here is John Ratzenberger. His voice was featured in every Pixar animated feature film ever released from Toy Story and later. It’s not known if John will ever return for the next feature release. But for now, Pixar is making its best to milk its intellectual property (IP) to all its worth!

Oh yes. There’s been talk that one element will be depicted in this feature that has nothing to do with sci-fi. It has something to do with Disney making up for a “don’t say gay” bill that recently passed in Florida. This review won’t make any spoiler alert about that issue. It will be up to the viewer of this movie to even find the scene in question! ‘Nuff said!

LIGHTYEAR is rated PG for animated action and peril. Now playing exclusively in traditional movie houses nationwide.

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