About Double Feature

Double Feature is the title of a column that I write for the newsletter of Lehigh Pocono Mensa, the local group to which I belong. It gets published monthly in "Magniloquence." I used to belong to Central PA Mensa, so I offer the column to the editor of "Penn Central" and it shows up there pretty regularly.

As the title implies, each Double Feature column features brief reviews of two movies that I have seen. I try to find a connection between the two films - subject matter, stars, awards, etc. - but, since it's my column, I reserve the right to occasionally choose two films that have no connection to each other at all.

The reviews found in the Movies section of this Web site serve as the basis for Double Feature. I try to keep each column somewhere around 500 words (which fills about one page in the newsletter), so I usually have to edit the original reviews to fit into the space allotted.

If you'd like to read the individual reviews for the films mentioned in Double Feature, you can do so here.

The rating scales are a little different. The conversion chart is as follows:

  • **** = Loved it
  • *** = Liked it
  • ** = Ehhh, it was OK
  • * = Hated it

Current Column

April 2021 - "It's always Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" Who can forget that iconic Brady Bunch moment when middle daughter Jan finally got fed up with all the attention showered on her big sister. Poor Jan also had to compete with little sister Cindy. I can think of at least two movies that also got caught in the middle.

Last month, I mentioned watching The Matrix for the first time in years. I followed up by watching the second film in the trilogy, The Matrix Reloaded, which came out in 2003. Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Laurence Fishburne reprise their roles in this R-rated sequel.

As best I can tell, about six months has passed since the end of the first film. Neo, Trinity and Morpheus pay a triumphant visit to Zion, the last community of humans on Earth. Zion is preparing to defend itself against an impending attack by machines called Sentinels that are intent on destroying Zion. While Zion musters its defenses, Morpheus believes that the only way to save Zion is for Neo, a.k.a. "The One," to go deeper into the Matrix than ever before.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. The characters and the fantastic special effects are back. Also back are fight sequences and chase scenes. But here, they seem to go on and on and on, serving mainly to fill large gaps between limited plot points.

Another movie that suffers from being second is 2009's The Girl Who Played with Fire. In this R-rated movie, the actors who starred in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo come back for another go-round. Most of the dialogue is Swedish with English subtitles.

The action takes place about one year after the end of the first film. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) returns to Stockholm after traveling around the world. Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and his staff at "Millennium" magazine prepare to publish a story that links sex trafficking with some very prominent people.

However, in the days before the article is published, a journalist and his girlfriend are murdered. Also murdered is a lawyer named Bjurman. He's supposed to be looking out for Salander, but as you may recall from the first film, he had anything but her best interest at heart. The police immediately suspect Salander of all three crimes, but Blomkvist believes she is innocent and sets out to prove it.

Overall review: Ehhh, it was OK. The plot seemed muddled and the action disjointed. Blomkvist and Salander, who worked as such a solid team in the first film, have only one scene together here. Meanwhile, other characters are introduced who end up serving no real purpose except to make it more difficult to remember who everyone is.

Before going to see this film, I read a headline that summed up The Girl Who Played with Fire by saying that it "labors under middle-child syndrome." I think that's about right. The first film got a lot of attention because it was first; the last one will have to be good because everyone will want the trilogy to end with a bang. The middle film doesn't have to be good; it just has to be.

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"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." »» Roger Ebert