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Watch any good movies lately?

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  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited September 2011
    I can't hope to read everything that interests me - I'm gradually coming to accept this unfortunate limitation of my existence. The Cowboys & Aliens graphic novel does seem interesting, and if I get the chance I'll investigate.
    Fright Night (2011). Unavoidable comparisons to the original must be made, since this remake treads much of the same ground. The scenario is mostly the same, detailing a high school student named Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale in the original, Anton Yelchin here) with a new neighbor. A new neighbor named Jerry (Chris Sarandon in the original, Colin Farrell here) who happens to be a vampire. Eventually Charley Brewster recruits the aid of Peter Vincent (a late-night horror movie TV host played by Roddy McDowall in the original, a Vegas magician whose stage act centers around vampires played by David Tennant in this one) to deal with his very intimidating neighbor. Charley is particularly concerned for his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse in the original, Imogen Poots in this one), who is eventually taken by Jery and transformed into a vampire.
    Locating this version in Las Vegas makes a fair amount of sense, since plenty of people there work by night and sleep by day (as the dialogue informs us several times). The first half hour of this version seems rushed, barely establishing Charley's friend Ed as a character before Harry nabs him. Once the action starts in the second act, though, this version works rather well, and Colin Farrell is a menacing antagonist. All the actors do their jobs rather well, in fact, which is always a good thing in the horror genre. Some of the inevitable CGI is obvious, but the movie mostly takes place at night, allowing the effects to stay effective instead of obvious (save for some really blatant CGI at the climax). There are a few shots that seem to cater to the 3D version, but this movie was filmed with such a dark palette that watching it in 3D would almost certainly result in the frustration of not being able to see what's happening all the time.
    This remake is pretty needless, but it's not an embarrassment either. Occasional dialogue that will date the movie horribly in a few years and a too-compressed first act notwithstanding, once this gets going it stays effective. The character of Peter Vincent gets less to do here than in the original, but a well-known Vegas magician would make a logical person to request the aid of in this post-horror show host age.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • Sharkey360Sharkey360 Member Full Members
    edited September 2011
  • Adriaan den OudenAdriaan den Ouden Δ Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground RPGamer Staff
    edited September 2011
    JuMeSyn wrote: »
    I can't hope to read everything that interests me - I'm gradually coming to accept this unfortunate limitation of my existence. The Cowboys & Aliens graphic novel does seem interesting, and if I get the chance I'll investigate.
    Fright Night (2011). Unavoidable comparisons to the original must be made, since this remake treads much of the same ground. The scenario is mostly the same, detailing a high school student named Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale in the original, Anton Yelchin here) with a new neighbor. A new neighbor named Jerry (Chris Sarandon in the original, Colin Farrell here) who happens to be a vampire. Eventually Charley Brewster recruits the aid of Peter Vincent (a late-night horror movie TV host played by Roddy McDowall in the original, a Vegas magician whose stage act centers around vampires played by David Tennant in this one) to deal with his very intimidating neighbor. Charley is particularly concerned for his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse in the original, Imogen Poots in this one), who is eventually taken by Jerry and transformed into a vampire.
    Locating this version in Las Vegas makes a fair amount of sense, since plenty of people there work by night and sleep by day (as the dialogue informs us several times). The first half hour of this version seems rushed, barely establishing Charley's friend Ed as a character before Harry nabs him. Once the action starts in the second act, though, this version works rather well, and Colin Farrell is a menacing antagonist. All the actors do their jobs rather well, in fact, which is always a good thing in the horror genre. Some of the inevitable CGI is obvious, but the movie mostly takes place at night, allowing the effects to stay effective instead of obvious (save for some really blatant CGI at the climax). There are a few shots that seem to cater to the 3D version, but this movie was filmed with such a dark palette that watching it in 3D would almost certainly result in the frustration of not being able to see what's happening all the time.
    This remake is pretty needless, but it's not an embarrassment either. Occasional dialogue that will date the movie horribly in a few years and a too-compressed first act notwithstanding, once this gets going it stays effective. The character of Peter Vincent gets less to do here than in the original, but a well-known Vegas magician would make a logical person to request the aid of in this post-horror show host age.

    Vampire's name is Jerry, not Harry.
    Maybe I'll log out and check my e-mail or something...
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited September 2011
    Buy me a ticket and I'll have something informed to say. As is, I can judge solely by it being bumped back repeatedly (never a sign of distributor confidence) and the reviews I've read, which are uniformly harsh. Found footage horror needs to stick to the conceit that this was filmed by someone on the spot to work, and apparently this manages to waylay that concept real fast with multiple camera views, in addition to an idea which COULD work but would be very easy to screw up.
    Few movies illustrate how much my mindset has changed from when I was a child as much as The Day of the Triffids. As a kid, the first and only thing that interested me was the presence of monsters that attacked people. As an adult, I can better judge how the overall movie fares, and it didn't hold up at all. The setup of having a meteor shower inflict blindness upon all people who viewed the event does have a few good moments, particularly in the early going when unsighted people simply move about en masse. The triffids themselves look pretty good for 1962, also. What sinks this is a script that goes downhill (complete with one of the most preposterous happy endings ever - roughly 99% of the population is still blind after all). The changes from the book are mostly poor ones, but changing things is generally necessary for a movie - just in this case pretty much everything that was changed was for the worse. The single biggest problem is altering the triffids from something well-known among the world populace as a dangerous plant that happens to produce a very valuable oil, to something that arrived a few years ago via another meteorite and is seemingly-coincidentally spreading with the onslaught of blindness. Having Bill, the protagonist, be a triffid handler was a perfect way to introduce the reader to the mechanics of these things in the book, but that angle was dumped for this movie in favor of simply having him be a navy man in hospital for eye surgery. It's got a fair amount of so-bad-it's-good qualities, though.
    For a really good adaptation of the novel, the 1981 BBC miniseries got the job done just fine. I'm kind of curious about the 2009 BBC version now, since it apparently updated the setting to the present day. I'll make a wild guess that it's superior to the sloppy movie, though.

    Vampire's name is Jerry, not Harry.
    Damn, you're right. The magical edit button has made this unforgivable blasphemy against the screenwriter vanish.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • Adriaan den OudenAdriaan den Ouden Δ Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground RPGamer Staff
    edited September 2011
    JuMeSyn wrote: »
    Buy me a ticket and I'll have something informed to say. As is, I can judge solely by it being bumped back repeatedly (never a sign of distributor confidence) and the reviews I've read, which are uniformly harsh. Found footage horror needs to stick to the conceit that this was filmed by someone on the spot to work, and apparently this manages to waylay that concept real fast with multiple camera views, in addition to an idea which COULD work but would be very easy to screw up.
    Few movies illustrate how much my mindset has changed from when I was a child as much as The Day of the Triffids. As a kid, the first and only thing that interested me was the presence of monsters that attacked people. As an adult, I can better judge how the overall movie fares, and it didn't hold up at all. The setup of having a meteor shower inflict blindness upon all people who viewed the event does have a few good moments, particularly in the early going when unsighted people simply move about en masse. The triffids themselves look pretty good for 1962, also. What sinks this is a script that goes downhill (complete with one of the most preposterous happy endings ever - roughly 99% of the population is still blind after all). The changes from the book are mostly poor ones, but changing things is generally necessary for a movie - just in this case pretty much everything that was changed was for the worse. The single biggest problem is altering the triffids from something well-known among the world populace as a dangerous plant that happens to produce a very valuable oil, to something that arrived a few years ago via another meteorite and is seemingly-coincidentally spreading with the onslaught of blindness. Having Bill, the protagonist, be a triffid handler was a perfect way to introduce the reader to the mechanics of these things in the book, but that angle was dumped for this movie in favor of simply having him be a navy man in hospital for eye surgery. It's got a fair amount of so-bad-it's-good qualities, though.
    For a really good adaptation of the novel, the 1981 BBC miniseries got the job done just fine. I'm kind of curious about the 2009 BBC version now, since it apparently updated the setting to the present day. I'll make a wild guess that it's superior to the sloppy movie, though.



    Damn, you're right. The magical edit button has made this unforgivable blasphemy against the screenwriter vanish.

    Haven't seen the film, but that book is among my all time favorites. Absolutely fantastic read. My favorite of the three John Wyndham books I've read. Interestingly, my last favorite is the Midwich Cuckoos, which is by far his most widely recognized one. Triffids and the Chrysalids are both much better.
    Maybe I'll log out and check my e-mail or something...
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited September 2011
    Jindabyne. This film begins as a man in a truck behind the cover of rocks watches a woman pass by on a deserted Australian road. As she gets close, he abandons the cover and quickly overtakes her, yelling that something is underneath her car and she needs to pull over. She eventually does, with great trepidation, which is justified given what happens.
    After that introductory scene, we meet the main characters, all of whom live in the eponymous town in New South Wales. The two who get the most screen time are Claire (Laura Linney) and Stewart (Gabriel Byrne), but they interact frequently with a group of other people. The movie has a very unhurried construction, and the central plot doesn't appear until well past the half-hour mark, letting us get to know something about these people. Then Stewart and three friends go on a much-anticipated fishing trip to an isolated area in the mountains, and find the body of the woman from the first scene. Their initial reactions are nonplussed, to say the least, but Stewart ties the body to a log with fishing line so it won't float away, and they go on with their fishing for the weekend, reporting to the police only once they've gotten back into an area with reception for phones. For some reason, people in town don't look upon their actions favorably, and it doesn't help that the dead woman is Aboriginal, bringing the race issue into the mix.
    This is not a whodunit. The identity of the killer is no mystery, and tracking him down is only tangentially referenced as something that would deflect public scorn from the main characters. Instead this is an exploration of its characters and their community. Seekers of fast action are therefore warned not to apply. On the other hand, as a good script that gives its characters time to grow and be interesting people, this is a definite success. The cinematography definitely does a service to the Australian landscape. The ending is a little pat, but not too much so: it doesn't wrap everything up, but seems to be a faster reconciliation than I ever expected after what went before. That's my only real complaint, though.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • Sharkey360Sharkey360 Member Full Members
    edited September 2011
    I watched once again Aliens and even though the film is 25 years old, it still is a GREAT film to watch all thanks to James Cameron and his team. The film is not just a sequel to the 1979 film by Ridley Scott but also a reflective story as well.

    Think about it. Cameron stated that the Vietnam War was an influence on Aliens not just with the presence of soldiers but also with Ripley agreeing to go back to the world where her crew (who died one by one) visited and discovered a place of many alien eggs. Ripley's role as an observer parallels the acts of some real life Vietnam War veterans who, despite their nightmarish experiences during the war, returned to Vietnam in a totally different manner.

    As for why Aliens stands out nicely among other action films of the 1980s...it is SUBVERSIVE of the cinematic trends of the decade.

    Think about it. In Aliens, there were these highly trained and brave soldiers who easily symbolized the Gung-Ho militarism culture of 1980s action cinema. Like Rambo, these soldiers were macho and had deadly firepower with them. Yet in the film, you see that they were helpless when they encountered the aliens.

    Behind it all, Cameron inserted a strong mother-and-daughter relationship between Ripley and the young girl Newt. While she was lost in space, Ripley lost her daughter to old age. Newt lost her parents to aliens.

    Aliens is a classic!
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited September 2011
    While you're preaching to the choir with regard to Aliens, the implicit assertion that because it's 25 years old the movie is somehow unlikely to hold up I have to wonder about. So I'll talk about a movie that's now 75 years old and is still riveting (admittedly not an action movie, that genre is very susceptible to film-making changes).
    Fury. Joe Wilson (Spencer Tracy) and Katherine Grant (Sylvia Sydney) are two lovesick people, but they can't be together yet because of financial issues. Katherine moves away for a year to a higher-paying job, while Joe keeps his for awhile but eventually opens his own garage with the partnership of his brothers. Finally, after more than a year apart, they're ready, and Joe drives off in his new car to get married at last.
    Before he can reach their rendezvous, Joe is stopped at gunpoint by a man on the highway, a deputy of law enforcement 'Bugs' Meyers (Walter Brennan). He's brought before the sheriff (Edward Ellis), where the reason behind this is unveiled - a kidnapping ring recently took $10,000 to return a girl from the town, and everyone is very vigilant about catching the members. A couple of coincidences are just enough for the sheriff to put Wilson in jail until the DA can arrive: he shares with one of the kidnappers a love of peanuts, and he has one of the bills used to pay the kidnappers in his possession. From there, events are out of his hands. Meyers informs a few people at a barber shop that Wilson is in custody, but is careful to frame his words so as not to imply anything. Others are not so cautious, and the gossip mill soon has everyone in town convinced that a guilty man is being held in jail. Then some men get drunk and determine to take matters into their own hands by storming into the jail. They do this directly against the will of the sheriff and his deputies tossing tear gas bombs into their midst, and when they're unable to get into the cells, someone gets the bright idea of burning the place down. Katherine is witness to this, as she's heard about the situation and ran there as fast as she could, just to see Joe's face wreathed in flames as the building burns. Once the national guard arrives, the mob disperses, but not before a couple more members have the bright idea to deploy dynamite in order to erase the evidence.
    Joe's not dead, though. He got lucky because of the dynamite and was able to escape through a hole in the building. This experience has changed him to a different man, one determined to have vengeance. Using his brothers to initiate the case, he hides and pretends to be dead, in order to try the entire town under lynch mob law. As he puts it: "They'll get a legal trial in a legal courtroom. They'll have a legal sentence and a legal death!"
    This was the first movie Fritz Lang directed after leaving Nazi Germany. Can there have been some meaning in the project for him? I'd have to say yes.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • JormungandJormungand Member Full Members
    edited September 2011
    Watched Altered States the other night and it's certainly one of the most intense films I've ever seen. William Hurt is brilliant as a psychology professor on the verge of a breakthrough in his study of alternate states of consciousness. Lots of psychology-speak, but the dialogue is genuine, meaningful, and convincingly delivered. According to wikipedia it's classified as Sci-Fi Horror, but I think Sci-Fi is a fair enough label. There's some frighteningly vivid (if occasionally perplexing) imagery during the "dream" sequences, but the real focus of the film is on the main character's descent into the depths of human genetic memory whilst trying to convince his colleagues and loved ones that he's not just on a bad acid trip.
    Spoiler:
    Actually, one of the reasons I wound up enjoying this film so much is that is does not pursue the "It's All In Your Head" trope; and in a story dealing with powerful hallucinogenic substances, that's quite a feat. Even the dream sequences are generally explicable; especially the first one which, despite its rapid succession of bizarre imagery, is composed entirely of content mentioned by the main character at the beginning of the film. I will admit that the "dive" made by the main character's wife near the end was a bit excessive and perhaps borrows a bit too freely from 2001: A Space Odyssey--just with cells instead of space--but I won't count that against my recommendation.

    Verdict: See this film! Right now! And, apparently, it's based on a novel, and in my experience that means the novel must be ten times better than the film... in which case, I must read it!
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited September 2011
    Ah, the early 80's, the domain of the cheap slasher movie. In that regard, The Burning is a slasher movie from the early 80's. It begins with a bunch of teenage males at a summer camp (already it's being innovative) about to spring their plot to get revenge on the caretaker who's apparently a real jerk. Our first glimpse of this real jerk (whose name is Cropsy) is as he sleeps in his cabin. He certainly looks like an ugly man, but we never see him do any of the things that the males lit a creepy skull in his cabin over. Instead, he is awakened by their noises against his window, immediately freaks out and manages to knock the homemade skull with flames in its eyes onto a most-inconveniently placed gas can, which promptly ignites and sends a stunt man running into the night aflame. We then briefly shift to Cropsy's point of view, as he freaks out the hospital staff with his horrendous burns, then deals with his disfigurement by killing a prostitute. After that it shifts to what's essentially a retread of Friday the 13th, but even more boring. That movie at least had the wisdom to space its killings out fairly evenly, but The Burning has a lot of theoretically-ominous lurking by our killer until past the halfway point, at which deaths finally start coming. Said killer also is telegraphed from a mile away by the stupid idea of having every shot from his point of view (remember the stalking camera that haunted most of the slasher movies?) be slathered in vaseline over the camera lens except in the center, which removes any attempt to psyche the audience out over false scares. The climax sports the interesting idea of a man almost burned to death wielding a flamethrower instead of the gardening shears that were his weapon of choice for the rest of the running time, but never mind, instead let's marvel at the bad continuity as a mining cart that almost crushed our hero mysteriously reascended its previous location!
    So it's a bad slasher movie, but it does have some noteworthy elements. Tom Savini did the 'horror sequences' and his name would soon become very well known among the gore audience. Rick Wakeman did the score, which has a rather good main theme but meanders in the sounds of the forest a little too much during the middle. In his film debut is a young actor named Jason Alexander, who manages to be distinctive purely because of what he would do later in his life and not on anything that happens here. Fisher Stevens and Holly Hunter are also in the cast, but I must confess that they left so little impression that I didn't notice until the credits rolled.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • RainaRaina Member Full Members
    edited September 2011
    Watched Everything Must Go today. I was pleasantly surprised. Usually Will Ferrell does a lot of comedy stuff, but this was actually more of a serious role and the character was even vulnerable at times. I liked the story and the movie was really good.
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited September 2011
    Time for a roundup.
    Freaky Friday (2003). Remember when Lindsay Lohan was a budding star instead of the tabloid joke she's become now? She and Jamie Lee Curtis are pretty good in the body-swap genre, which is what makes this worth watching. It's not a slam dunk by any means, especially when Curtis' father exists solely to make me wonder why he isn't in a home (he's so deaf his grandson shakes the table to get his attention, which he thinks is an earthquake and goes running! Hilarity!), but Curtis in particular is having fun acting like a teenager from 2003. I can't compare it to the original when I haven't seen it for awhile, except to say that the original Freaky Friday's insidiously catchy theme song is no longer present.
    Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. I wanted to like this movie. It's trying to be a serious slow-burn horror movie, and to that end refrains from the 3D that clogs almost every 'horror' movie nowadays. Its setup is a bit cliched, with a young girl being dumped onto her father for reasons never really explained, then not adjusting well. Bailee Madison is pretty good as the little girl, too. Her father (Guy Pearce) and girlfriend (Katie Holmes) are fixing a long-abandoned Rhode Island estate owned once by a famed artist Blackwood. While exploring the grounds, she happens upon a previously-barricaded basement, and hears voices from a heating grate down there. At first these voices try to be friends with her, but soon enough their malevolent intentions are revealed. Holmes does some digging and finds a theory, which is that these creatures must take life in order to perpetuate their own.
    The setup parts of the movie are pretty solid, and though some minor problems arise in the middle, it's as we get towards the conclusion that things just fell apart for me. The creatures are kept indistinct for awhile, but they're never really invisible, and it's hard to be really scared by things the size of rodents even if they have glowing eyes and move really fast. The movie makes a big deal of their sensitivity to light, which means that the lighting direction needed to be spot-on, and it isn't, especially in scenes taking place at night that have big illumination from windows or other sources. Several blatant instances of stupidity also happen near the end, along with a general inconsistency in the creatures' plan: if they need to feast on people, why try to kill a girl in a locked bathroom from which they cannot possibly remove her intact? The standard tangent of nobody believing the little girl is also introduced, she's put on medication for it after talking to a therapist, and then it's dropped without further development, while Holmes and eventually Pearce believe her anyway. A good premise belittled and wasted by the end.
    Sherlock Holmes (2009). Interesting, pretty good, but not a slam dunk for me. The most Guy Ritchie-feeling parts are those bits at the beginning when Holmes announces via narration what he's doing to his opponent, then executing it very quickly. Then again, if he's so good at hand-to-hand combat, why is he having trouble later in the movie?
    The plot itself finds a pre-credits sequence of Holmes and Watson (Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law) infiltrating a ritual sacrifice being perpetrated by a nobleman Blackwood (Mark Strong). He's sentenced to death and seems to hang, but then rises from the grave to continue his reign of terror. Downey Jr. and Law are very good as the classic detective duo, with Watson in particular loathing Holmes and loving him at the same time. Rachel McAdams as a thief who captured Holmes' eye strikes the wrong note, though - she's too contemporary in a movie where everyone else seems to fit into the Victorian setting easily. Some of the dialogue is quite witty, and the movie definitely respects Holmes' intellect. The climax on a London bridge still being built was too obviously CGI to be convincing, though, making rather uninteresting. A mixed bag, but enough is worthwhile to render it interesting for the curious.
    You Only Live Once. Fritz Lang's follow-up to Fury stars Sylvia Sidney again, as a woman who's been eagerly waiting three years for her true love Henry Fonda to get out of prison. He does this, and tries his hardest to go straight, but the work environment for an ex-con is very unforgiving, and Fonda can't seem to get a good break. Then someone robs a bank in the most violent fashion possible, using grenades that leave six dead, and Fonda is pinned with the crime. He reluctantly accedes to Sidney's plea that he give himself up, whereupon his record is all the jury seems to need to judge him guilty and sentence him to death. He has a couple of friends on the inside, though, and just hours before going to the electric chair takes the prison doctor hostage in an effort to escape. He doesn't believe the words of the warden or the prison chaplain that new evidence suddenly appeared confirming his innocence, and he uses the gun to kill the chaplain. Fonda realizes his mistake all too late, but he did manage to escape, and this time Sidney will stay with him no matter what happens, even though she's pregnant.
    As that quick synopsis makes clear, there's a LOT going on in this, especially when the movie comes in at only 85 minutes. Each act could have been its own movie, but I'll never take issue with a movie attempting to do too much, and Lang makes it a wild ride.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • zockroachzockroach Member Full Members
    edited September 2011
    My wife and I just found out that the awesome AMC series "Breaking Bad" is now on Netflix! Check it out if you like things that are awesome!
    FULL TIME AWESOME LIFE!
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited September 2011
    Creature. How the hell did this get into theaters when movies with ten times its budget go straight to video nowadays? I have no idea, except that director Fred Andrews must have compromising photos of somebody to have made it happen. And yes, since it promptly left theaters last week, I'm not exactly timely with writing about it. Oops.
    Anyway, the kind of movie ahead is made obvious by the opening scene. It takes place somewhere in bayou country down South, with a young woman deciding to go skinny-dipping in the swamp. Bad idea was written all over that, as something gnaws her legs off below the hip, causing her to somehow get back onto shore and promptly die. Also, the gnawing is implied rather than explicitly shown, unless that mess of horribly edited footage was meant to be the bloodletting - nobody can discern a thing during it.
    Then we meet our main characters. There are six of them, off on a trip to the Big Easy. Three are male, three are female, and they're all horny college-age people with few brains. The males stop off in a local store (with Sid Haig as one of the proprietors) and hear the local legend of a man whose wife was eaten by an albino alligator, which he responded to by hunting down the beast and killing it barehanded, then devouring its remains and somehow fusing with it. Is this creature real? Well, considering the movie's title, don't expect much ambiguity along the way.
    Most of the action takes place at night, which is for the best. The creature looks pretty good considering the pitiful budget this thing had, but obscuring it in darkness is still the best way to go when its silhouette reminds me of Jerry from Enemy Mine with a bigger jaw. Since it's that kind of movie, two of our three female leads bare their breasts to the camera for no real reason. The script is no masterpiece, although it could have been worse. The climax manages to bugger the whole thing up pretty well, since it seems set to conclude with a big brawl (after a really lame brawl) that's then not shown. Characters act like idiots most of the time, and a couple of surprise revelations serve mostly to send people on 180-degree shifts of personality.
    I didn't hate it though, mostly because a friend was alone with me in the theater and we did our best improvised MST3K routine. It wasn't great, but I had a decent time with a movie that I knew wasn't going to be any good on a traditional level.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • Adriaan den OudenAdriaan den Ouden Δ Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground RPGamer Staff
    edited September 2011
    Just watched the 2009 BBC mini-series version of Day of the Triffids. Fantastic bit of cinema. Roughly 3 hours long and it's a perfect length to capture John Wyndham's classic novel. Even more astounding is how well it follows the book. There are some obvious differences in characters, plot, and timeline, but the key plot points are all there, going from the hospital to the forced scavenging, the farm, and eventually the island. It reminds me a bit of how Jurassic Park was adapted to film, keeping the essence in tact while changing some of the details.

    I also realize now that I need to get a new copy of the book, because mine is in absolutely abysmal shape.
    Maybe I'll log out and check my e-mail or something...
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited September 2011
    Time for another roundup.
    Best Worst Movie. Anyone unfamiliar with Troll 2 who attempts to watch this is probably going to be baffled, so it's aimed at a niche audience. As an examination of a terrible movie that accumulated enormous acclaim precisely for its being an enjoyable awful experience, though, this is very good. Even at 90 minutes it's a little long, but catching up with the cast and crew of that movie is fascinating, as well as witnessing a few of them who refuse to believe that they did a bad job. Most of the cast comes across as far more likable in this documentary made 17 years after the fact than they did in the movie, which is just something worth remarking upon.
    The Brave One. What if the basic material of Death Wish was taken in an intelligent direction instead of having Charles Bronson feel empowered by getting a gun in Arizona so he can go shoot muggers? This movie isn't perfect, but Neil Jordan is a more-than-solid filmmaker who does an admirable job. Jodie Foster is on a date with her beloved fiancee when they encounter a trio of aggressive men in a tunnel of New York's central park, and are brutally mugged. After being slammed into the concrete multiple times and beaten with a metal pipe, Foster is in a coma for three weeks and her fiancee is dead. At first this could be the story of someone simply trying to survive an incident like this, but when Foster is forced to use a newly-acquired gun to protect herself, something within is kindled that burns for vengeance. Honestly this deserves more time than I can give with a quick wrap-up, save that its few missteps are minor and the work as a whole deserves to be seen.
    Despicable Me. A lot of people probably saw this, in which supervillain Gru is determined to outdo the guy who just stole an Egyptian pyramid by grabbing the moon. Thinking logically about this plot is injurious to the brain, but it manages to be pretty entertaining, even if the direction in which it must go is determined the instant Gru has to adopt a trio of orphaned girls in order to steal away the shrink ray his nemesis now possesses. The CG animation isn't terribly impressive in comparison to something by Pixar, but it's not ugly either, and the ratio of hits to misses in the script is good enough to be worth seeing.
    Topper. Cary Grant and Constance Bennett are recently dead rich debutantes who seem unable to go anywhere due to the lack of accomplishments, positive or negative, on their respective life balance sheets. So they determine to help their acquaintance Topper (Roland Young) become a little less hen-pecked by his wife. Screwball wackiness ensues as two dead people who usually are invisible start messing with his life. Screwballs either work or they don't - this one works most definitely.
    Topper Takes a Trip. Unfortunately the direct sequel offers much less. Cary Grant is no longer present, but every other member of the cast is and the director is the same and it's based on another novel by the original author, so what happened is hard to justify. A few funny bits are in evidence, but far more instances of something being done by an invisible person (Constance Bennett) seem to just be assumed are funny without inherently being that way. Disappointing to me, especially when it's hard to find and I would've hoped the result was worthwhile.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited September 2011
    Every now and again I find it useful to apply a corrective. Mere mediocrity ought not be confused with the truly terrible. I still cannot adequately explain what was going through my head to prompt a course of action that any sane person would tell me is absolutely moronic, but I did it anyway. For some reason my aunt seems to have never discovered that the Disney label is no guarantee of quality, thus her collection of DVDs includes a number of questionable titles, but I still don't know what possessed her to possess Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
    I suppose part of the "appeal" for me was in finally having a justification for coming down on Raja Gosnell, instead of reflexively casting his work into the dirt. For those unfamiliar with the man, let's look at the other movies he's directed:
    Home Alone 3
    Never Been Kissed
    Big Momma's House
    Scooby Doo
    Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
    Yours, Mine & Ours
    The Smurfs
    What a track record, right? Yet I could have been overreacting. It was possible that something lurked within the man's work that might not be so terrible.
    Wrong.
    Beverly Hills Chihuahua had a rough road to cross with me as a viewer, because I intensely dislike rat dogs, and this movie is just full of them. Had that not been a problem, the next would have been the jarring contrivance of having the dogs talk. The effect of having them talk is actually that bad, but since dogs do not actually speak, it's off-putting. Talking dogs with mouth movements intended to sync with their words could have worked using an intelligent script, which this most assuredly is not. Aggressively stupid plot points abound, and the dialogue is often so obnoxious that it made me cringe on a constant basis. Beyond those minor points, I could bring up the lack of verisimilitude in the animals, since supposedly stray dogs look pretty darn healthy, or the inconsistent nature of dog intelligence, which makes it clear that they're just as intelligent as people and for whatever reason never act upon that, or the absence of any tension whatsoever about the result. Barring such trifles, I have a problem empathizing in any way with a rat dog that constantly voices how awesome Beverly Hills is and how spoiled she is, and that's a problem when she's the protagonist but I'd rather see her guts splattered on the pavement by a passing car, which would be perfectly fine since a mechanical model would have been used.
    Oh, you want a sample of the dialogue? How about a chihuahua proclaiming "I love the smell of dirt in the morning!" right after digging a hole. Isn't that riveting? If Robert Duvall was dead, he'd be spinning in his grave - instead I have to think he just suffered acute nausea.
    The humans are perfunctory in this movie and all attempts to make them into characters fall into a hole deep inside the earth's crust, never to return. I suppose Jamie Lee Curtis, in her short screen time, must be doing a terrific job embodying the sort of person who smothers a rat dog with affection and dresses it in sweaters and actually chauffeurs it to cosmetics appointments. I hated her character intensely. Piper Perabo plays her niece, and does fine as the kind of airhead SoCal woman with no defining personality other than being vapid that the script demands. Not difficult, it's true.
    The movie seems to assume that only chihuahua lovers would ever watch this, for there is a serious attempt to give the breed a mystique. I'm not buying that a pack of chihuahuas would ever make mountain lions back down, nor that they would gather in a pack to proclaim their power, nor that one of them could bark loudly enough to crumble a ruin. Even if I'd taken enough illegal substances to accept the rest of the movie (though that many substances would kill me first), this would have broken me. As it was, I merely screamed at the screen and bellowed my anger to the heavens.
    So this is what Raja Gosnell makes. My stupid, stupid curiosity has been eliminated for a long time to come. According to imdb, twenty million dollars was supplied to create this example of how the human race can apply its collective ingenuity to make something worse than what any individual could create. It grossed over 90 million domestically. Then the Smurfs grossed enough to greenlight a sequel. I feel like punching all the people responsible.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited October 2011
    Straw Dogs (1971) & (2011). Sam Peckinpah and Rod Lurie's movies are so similar, there's no point in talking about them separately. The setting has changed from rural England in the original to the American deep South, but when events play out in an eerily similar way through the two, and most characters have the same name in both, a comparison/contrasting is inevitable.
    David (Dustin Hoffman in the original, James Marsden in the remake) and Amy (Susan George, then Kate Bosworth) Sumner are moving into a new home. Amy grew up in this country and is recognized by all the locals, while David is an outsider who doesn't make good first impressions. Nevertheless, to be a good neighbor David accepts the bid of some locals to repair the house's barn, said group being led by Charlie (Del Henney in the original, Alexander Skarsgard in the new) who happens to be an old boyfriend of Amy's. The job proceeds fitfully, and Amy reacts poorly to David's refusal to condemn the working men leering at her, so she responds by purposefully giving them a show. The climactic encounter begins after the inexplicably-infatuated Janice, daughter of well-known barfly Tom Hedden (Peter Vaughan in the original, James Woods in the remake) wanders off with a retarded local man who reenacts a scene from Of Mice and Men before being found by David and Amy. Declaring the man under his protection until the law arrives, David is pitted against the men who want him and are willing to tear down the house to get him.
    Certain details are different between the versions. There's a distinct lack of iPods in the original, while the remake lacks the bagpipe music fondness David displays. When it comes to projecting menace, Peter Vaughan doesn't hold a candle to the fearsomeness of James Woods, which is a definite point in the remake's favor. Both movies feature a scene in which David, having consented to go on a hunting trip with the building crew, is out of the building while Charlie visits Amy and rapes her. The key difference (aside from ducks and deer being the subjects of the hunt) is that Amy's reaction is somewhat ambiguous at the beginning of the original, while she is unequivocally saying NO in the remake. That scene by itself is something to spawn endless discussion, since David's hunting escapade is being intercut, bombarding the viewer with symbolism.
    Another difference is that the us vs. them mentality gets more screen time in the remake. David's interactions and disagreements with the building crew occupy considerably more screen time, while the original substituted Amy feeling intense resentment at her husband devoting so much time to his job which she cannot assist in (a mathematician in the original, a screenwriter in the remake). Accordingly, David in the remake gets to prove just how lacking in common sense he is by walking out of a church service to take a nap in his car, then proclaiming when asked about it that "these really aren't my thing." Also, Amy is emphatically in favor of giving up the subject of the drunken men's rage immediately in the original, while she helps her husband without issue in the remake (except for the fear of confronting the men who raped her again - yes, that was a plural). The confrontation itself has some differences (no pickup truck repeatedly ramming the house in the original) but also a lot of similarities, including people in both versions who get right back up after a lot of cursing after boiling oil being splashed into their faces. Also, the use of a bear trap that was foreshadowed comes to fruition at the end of both.
    For me, the two are very close. That lengthy comparison makes clear just how much is shared, right down to the hanging of the household cat by a never-identified perp (though the cat's color was different between the movies). Both demonstrate that no one is a completely sympathetic character, so the audience isn't really clear how to feel. For me the original probably gets the nod by a small margin just for the short wrap-up at the end which attempts to demonstrate the mental change that has come over David, but it's a narrow victory and I might change my mind sometime. Neither movie is comfortable to watch (by design) and my affection is almost nonexistent, but I don't particularly dislike them either.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • HyphyKezzyHyphyKezzy The Best Full Members
    edited October 2011
    zockroach wrote: »
    My wife and I just found out that the awesome AMC series "Breaking Bad" is now on Netflix! Check it out if you like things that are awesome!

    I don't pop into the movie thread much so I just saw this. Breaking Bad is where it's at. With the season finale coming up I'll probably be dropping a nice long gushing post about how great it is in the tv thread soon.
    Reads street English and speaks in collegiate - Ras Kass
  • Sharkey360Sharkey360 Member Full Members
    edited October 2011
    BlindFuryposter.jpg

    I got to watch Blind Fury again after more than twenty years. I saw it on cable TV and I still find the film entertaining and even hilarious on its own. Rutger Hauer's performance as the blind swordsman and war veteran (who lost his sight during the Vietnam War) is still memorable and notable. He gets to reunite with his war buddy played by the same guy who is best remembered as The Stepfather (see the 1987 film).

    Nothing really special about the story nor is the film worthy of any awards, but the presentation proved to be entertaining even by today's standards. The movie is based loosely on Zatoichi Challenged, a Japanese film about a blind swordman.
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited October 2011
    Drive. Ryan Gosling plays a man who drives for a living, in more than one capacity. While his day job is both that of a mechanic in a car garage and a stunt driver for Hollywood films, he's occasionally the wheelman for criminals at night. A superb pre-credits sequence demonstrates his aptitude for this, as he picks up the car to be used for getting two guys out of their job, picks them up from the scene, then scans the police radio to keep apprised of what hazards are currently in his path. His boss at the garage is Bryan Cranston, who attempts to get funding for the driver's entry into professional racing from Albert Brooks and his partner Ron Perlman, two LA organized crime heavies. His neighbor across the hall is Carey Mulligan, who has a young son and a husband who gets out of prison with debts that must be paid. The driver likes all of them, and aids the husband in an attempt to acquire the funds that will set him free. It goes violently wrong, though, and the driver finds himself avidly sought by the people who made it go wrong, for $1 million attracts attention.
    Ryan Gosling is interesting to watch here. This character is the sort of man who speaks very little, never saying more than necessary. He's also unflappable, getting shaken a few times but only losing his cool once, and it's for the sake of another. Albert Brooks might seem an odd choice to play an organized crime boss, but he acquits himself well in this role that most definitely goes against type. Ron Perlman doesn't get a whole lot to do but is (unsurprisingly) solid as Brooks' partner.
    The cinematography is excellent at night, showing how fascinating images can appear in a car in the alternating lights of LA by night. Nicholas Winding Refn also deserves a lot of credit for great direction, and I'll pay attention to his future efforts. His canny sense of showing and not telling leads to many sequences in which the visuals tell the story, exactly as movies are supposed to. Not much objectionable happens in the early going, but the sudden bursts of violence later in the movie are quite brutal. I also appreciated the many credits for actual drivers, for if any CG was employed in this movie, it was minute - this is a great demonstration of real cars and real people instead of computer creations. The characters aren't great linguists who spout dialogue everyone will quote for years to come, but they feel realistic and not like airhead constructions of a screenwriter.
    I have some minor quibbles, but this is an excellent action movie, and it deserves to be seen by anyone who is intrigued at all.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited October 2011
    Flyboys. Ever since World War II arrived to let Americans (and most other nationalities, come to that) have a 'good war' for reminiscence in the media, World War I has gotten short shrift. Sure there've been a few movies post-1945 to deal with it, and most of them were really good. Paths of Glory and Gallipoli are exceptional, Joyeux Noel is pretty good too. Flyboys is not in their class. Hell, this thing could have been a mothballed script from the inter-war years with almost nothing updated to reflect the movie being made in 2006. It begins by introducing some Americans who will join the Lafayette Escadrille via some of the most shameless cliches known to formula movie-making. James Franco (one of the few recognizable faces) gets out of a town in Texas one step ahead of the sheriff because he did something to a banker. Not only does Franco's Texan accent come and go, this particular plot point is never mentioned again, and he promptly becomes a bland hero. Elsewhere, there's a Guy Who Wants to Live Up to the Family Name, a Guy Tearfully Leaving His Family, and a guy boxing in Marseilles who knows French and joins the Americans because... he didn't want to join a French unit instead? This guy may have had a real-life counterpart, but a black man joining an American unit in 1916, even an unofficial one, deserves a lot more backstory than what gets employed here. Other characters also appear, such as The Religious Guy and The Veteran Who Disdains the Newbies. Jean Reno helps out with their training, and soon enough they're flying on behalf of the French!
    That should be a lot more exciting than it is. I may have disdained Wings, the Best Picture winner at the very first Academy Awards, for a lot of things, but its flying sequences rang true because they were real biplanes in the air. Not here, where we get the thrilling sight of watching CG planes duke it out in the skies over France to a resounding yawn. Aside from close-ups of the pilots (who pretty much all look the same, retelling one of my many problems with Top Gun) the flight sequences are all something that could have been taken from a video game. They may be interesting from a technical perspective, but there's no emotional investment in cut-scene creations. That, coupled with the stock anonymity of the characters, makes the many people who take off to a fiery death pretty dull. When it's not dull, it's completely ludicrous, featuring James Franco landing his plane in no-man's-land to save a friend who crashed there, which is stupid on many levels and is not punished the way it would have been in real life.
    Action on the ground is no more compelling. The central relationship is Franco attempting to romance a French woman, but since he has gone months in France without learning any of the nation's language, this results in scenes of him resorting to pantomime, along with laboriously saying the same things over and over in the apparent hope that a woman who does not speak English will learn the tongue through osmosis. More ludicrous scenes result from this relationship, including the astonishing forgiveness of the French government when he spirits the French woman and her late brother's children away from a sudden German advance (quite sudden, considering the entire Western Front was nonstop trenches that precluded any surprise attack of this sort) using an airplane he does not own. Said escape also includes his amazing ability to land a plane silently, which would be very useful elsewhere, one would think. A couple of other German attacks are manufactured out of whole cloth for the movie, a surprising development considering the only German offensive on the Western Front of 1916 was at Verdun.
    The Lafayette Escadrille was a very interesting outfit, and describing how the American pilots of its contingent carried on the fight long before the US actually entered the war would make for an interesting movie. It still will, since Flyboys sure isn't it. Just the tale of how the veteran pilot came to have a lion in his house would make for a fun story, but in this movie having a lion around doesn't matter much. Too damn bad.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited October 2011
    House of Strangers. Richard Conte is seen moving through bustling city streets in the opening shots, with no explanation of what his purpose is. He soon enters a bank and demands to speak with its president and two vice-presidents. The four men display familiarity with each other, but the details are elusive. It seems Conte just got out of prison after spending seven years in there, and he blames these men for it, spurning their offer of money to make good whatever happened, insisting that they owe him the time he's just spent in the joint. Then he goes to meet Susan Hayward, who desperately pleads for him to abandon this vendetta and join her in fleeing New York for San Francisco. Conte turns her down too, and goes to the old family home in order to begin the flashback that will explain exactly what's going on here.
    The initial burst of energy is inevitably lost once the relationships begin to make sense, but as a family drama it's quite good. Joseph Manciewicz was a top-notch director, and this is a well-paced outing. First-billed Edward G. Robinson proves to be the patriarch of all four men met in the bank at the beginning, and it was his relationships with his four sons that set up the present as it is. Fox classified this as film noir for its DVD release, which I don't agree with, but whatever label the movie is tossed under, it's worth seeing.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited October 2011
    Hoo boy. Big time Trekker time. I assume throughout familiarity with the series, so those who can't handle spoilers are advised to steer clear.
    Star Trek: The Motion Picture. At the time of its release, this represented the first official Trek endeavor in ten years (with the exception of the mid-70s animated series) after the original show was canceled. The theatrical version is an odd beast, and it's no wonder general audiences were baffled. Robert Wise has directed some great movies in a wide variety of genres (The Body Snatcher, Executive Suite, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Haunting, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Andromeda Strain) so his seemed like a guaranteed success here. Except it really isn't, mostly due to the poor pacing. I understand Paramount insisted at the time that the movie would be ready for its intended release date, and the director's cut clears this up quite a bit, but the original cut of the movie is very lumpy, with a gigantic section in the middle of the characters standing around on the Enterprise's bridge looking at the passage through V'ger.
    As to the original movie's plot, it's ripping off the original series, but that would have been acceptable if the tone was less cold. A gigantic alien entity (82 AUs in size - that means it's on par with the size of the entire Solar System) is heading straight for Earth, and Admiral Kirk takes command of the only available ship to go meet it - the Enterprise. In particular, this is one of William Shatner's least-effective turns as Kirk, mostly because he comes across as a big jerk for demanding command of the Enterprise over Captain Decker (Stephen Collins). The script establishes that Decker isn't taking well to this ego trip but is also trying his best to cope - and then it just gets dumped due to the exit of Decker from this mortal coil, though not in the usual way. Spock and McCoy don't get brought onto the ship until proceedings are well underway, so the early portion is rough going when it's mostly Kirk dumping on Decker and/or doing his standard routine of asking Scotty for the impossible from the ship's engineering. That leads into the transporter mishap and the wormhole incident, the first of which is intriguingly grisly and the second of which goes on too long and just serves as a special-effects showcase and a waste of time. Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu have almost nothing to do except chime in with a few lines now and then. Oh, and of course there's Ilia, played by Persis Khambatta (aka the bald woman this movie seems known for) - her career didn't exactly take off afterward, and while she's not terrible, neither is she memorable.
    Its original version is hardly a rousing success, yet I'm curious enough to try to director's cut sometime. 2001 is its obvious inspiration, and the effects have actually aged quite well for a movie from the late 70s. Jerry Goldsmith's title score is so inspiring that The Next Generation snagged it as the title music, and his fascinatingly inorganic music when traveling through V'ger is quite arresting. Plenty of glimmers of the camaraderie between the crew appear, but the movie as a whole just doesn't have enough of them. A misfire, but an interesting one.
    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Obvious plot holes people have noticed that don't detract: Starfleet losing track of which planet being explored, and Chekov not having been a part of Enterprise's crew at the time Khan made his appearance on the show. Doesn't matter. Nicholas Meyer came to a franchise in need of some energy and provided it unreservedly. Once Khan gets loose and takes over Reliant, the showdown between him and Kirk is superb. James Horner's score has become classic, and is a masterpiece of complementing the onscreen tension with even more. Ricardo Montalban is almost certainly the best villain of the series, and every time he appears is magnetic. Spock's death is handled about as well as such a thing could be, and William Shatner turns in a genuinely good performance. This was also the screen debut of Kirstie Alley (Saavik) who would quickly show up on Cheers all the time, and has since proven to have staying power as an actress. You want a really really good Star Trek movie, this is it.
    Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Leonard Nimoy takes the director's chair for this installment, which can't equal Wrath of Khan but is a worthy follow-up. Spock's katra has entered McCoy and must be returned to Vulcan in order to find release, while his body has regenerated due to the Genesis planet. Too bad a nefarious Klingon named Kruge (Christopher Lloyd right before he worked with Robert Zemeckis on the Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? movies) is in the way. This is definitely one of the good Trek movies, though the scenes on the Genesis planet are all-too-obvious sets. The cast gets a chance to have some fun, James Horner is back to lend musical consistency with Khan (fitting when the two are so closely linked), the theft of Enterprise and action on the Genesis planet are tense enough to stay interesting, and the means by which Spock is revived may be goofy but isn't braindead. Too bad the appearance of Spock at the end is so slowly handled, because it deflates the bulk of the movie's energy pretty well.
    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. "The one with the whales" as it's popularly remembered, and also the one where the Enterprise crew (sans Enterprise this time) winds up in 1986 San Francisco. Leonard Nimoy is back in the director's chair, and while the attempt at tension from the alien probe disrupting all energy on Earth is deflated by the comedy of the time-travel, this movie really isn't attempting to have anything like the serious tone of the two previous entries. Catherine Hicks, who got a lot of work in the late 80s and kind of fell off the radar afterward, acquits herself well as the whale biologist. The comedy is a bit silly sometimes, but it never comes across as unrealistic, and many lines have been embedded into the public consciousness (well a double dumbass on you!) It offers something a little different than most of the other movies, and does so successfully, enough that up until 2009 it was the most successful of the franchise.
    Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Truthfully, I watched this with Rifftrax, though I dimly remember seeing it in the theater with my father back in 1989. Based on the evidence here, letting William Shatner direct was a terrible idea. The budget on Star Trek rarely reached the heights of what Paramount could provide, but THIS looks like something from the mid-70s effects-wise, and it wouldn't have been great even then. The pacing is weird - and since it's both shorter than The Motion Picture AND has worse effects than it, that's really bad. The effects comparison is most blatant when the Enterprise crosses through the great barrier at the center of the galaxy, which looks boring and ugly. It takes a long time to get going, tediously gathering the crew onto a malfunctioning Enterprise-A after some cringe-worthy "character-building" scenes that illustrate how badly written this thing is. Then there's Laurence Luckenbill as Sybok, a character mourned by none when his exit takes place. Sorry, Spock's half-brother who will never be mentioned again! Goodbye, inexplicable fan-dance of Uhura that was the best distraction anyone could think of! Pounding this movie into the ground is a popular pastime, especially when it wasted so much time that could have been used for a good movie. It's bad, real bad, and only the hardheaded Trekkers who simply must experience it need do so. Since it's been ignored as much as possible, no one else needs to sacrifice the time.
    Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. This one I also have memories of seeing in the theater, standing in a line that stretched around the block at a movie theater which has since been closed, with a crowd of Trekkers who applauded at the end. As a sendoff for the original cast, it's superb. Nicholas Meyer has returned to the director's chair, and while this isn't quite Wrath of Khan's equal thanks to a conclusion that relies upon everyone at the peace conference having no means of learning about the gigantic weapons fire that's occurring in the planet's space, it succeeds in erasing the stain of The Final Frontier with class. Kim Catrall does alright as Spock's protege, Christopher Plummer is clearly having a blast as General Chang (and giving the series a good villain that the last couple of movies lacked), and the plot hums along quickly. Basing it so unavoidably on the real-life Cold War tensions of the time is a trifle much, especially labeling Rura Penthe as a gulag, but the movie as a whole is strong enough that little things like that are easily accounted for.
    Star Trek: Generations. Back to the odd-numbered curse. David Carson had some episodes of The Next Generation under his belt but had never directed a movie before, and the energy level as a whole is somewhat lacking in this. I watched it with Rifftrax, which helped quite a bit. Data's emotion chip is rather mishandled in this installment, and while I remember the theater laughing back in 1994, it just doesn't work too well as comedy. Kirk's death is sadly anticlimactic, Soran (Malcom McDowell) is a long way from the best villain in the series, the big ship-to-ship fight is kind of nonsensical since the Enterprise never thinks to fire back until after about 200 hits have been taken (rough count, could be off), and the whole Nexus idea is one of those things really hard to do in film, which this movie fails with. It's incredibly hard to put something together that, as Guinan puts it, is synonymous with joy, and while Picard being a family man is a cute idea, I certainly don't see it as the pinnacle of human feeling. The meeting of Kirk and Picard is pretty anticlimactic, too. A misfire on way too many levels. Picard and Data get a fair amount of screen time, but the rest of the Next Generation cast doesn't get much to do. LaForge gets kidnapped by the Klingon revivalists, Riker gets to do his usual stuff of being levelheaded and easily worthy of his own ship command, Worf and Crusher and Troi have almost nothing. Frankly, the crash of the Enterprise D (especially when it gets replayed near the end) doesn't have the emotion that the original ship's destruction conjured, either.
    Star Trek: First Contact. Jonathan Frakes takes over as director and turns in a gripping Borg tale that keeps the tension high. The action begins almost immediately, quite a change of pace from most of the movies, and the energy level is never allowed to flag. Some definite parallels with Aliens are hardly a bad thing so long as they don't become a drag, and this movie stays strong all the time. Picard and Data get the most screen time again, but the overall energy level means that's not such a problem. Worf in particular has more to do this time than in Generations. Time-travel seems to produce strong efforts in the Star Trek world, and while I don't necessarily think the movie's timeline of World War III happening in 2053 will occur, it's a possibility. James Cromwell as Zefram Cochrane has odd musical taste (will there be a sudden revival of interest in Roy Orbison's brief rockabilly career fifty years from now) but a lot of amusing moments. Giving the Borg a Queen is a questionable notion but not nearly enough to alter the overall response the film engenders.
    Star Trek: Insurrection. This movie got a lot of bad press, which I don't think is deserved. Jonathan Frakes may have even grown as a director between the two movies, and while the movie lacks much of a villain (sorry F. Murray Abraham, you just didn't get the chance to turn this guy into a real object of hate), its generally light tone works pretty well. I've seen it classified as an extended episode of The Next Generation's TV days, and that fits pretty well. Not everything works by a long shot: Donna Murphy's character once seems to be tapping into some kind of mysticism by channeling the energy of the planet's rings, but nothing ever comes of this. Some of the dialogue that was apparently included just for the trailer is jarringly out of place (lock & load? Would Data really say that?), the CGI that was advanced in 1998 hasn't aged well over the years, and the overall plot has way too much that just doesn't work. Examples: on a planet with 600 people, there's seriously no room for more? The So'na have butchered their bodies so badly that the rings will ONLY heal them if they grab all the energy and make away with it? Data's malfunction at the beginning apparently overloads his usual restraints and makes him start getting violent with Starfleet personnel? I could also take issue with the idea that the Ba'ku apparently live in paradise, because while their village looks pleasant enough, it's not my idea of paradise. There's plenty of good stuff, though. The Prime Directive gets a good deal of screen time with this installment, and while it's easy to argue about the way the Enterprise crew chooses to apply it, the idea is interesting. Troi and Riker rekindling is fun to watch. The adventures on the planet LOOK different in the Star Trek universe, since actual outdoor work on a green location didn't happen too often, and the cinematography is very nice. Problems it has, but the Next Generation cast deserves to have more than one good movie, and Insurrection is entertaining as an excuse to get all the characters together and watch them in a series of little moments instead of an overarching plot that's not too great. I hadn't seen the movie since its initial theatrical release, and it's a good one in the series.
    Star Trek: Nemesis. This one I also hadn't seen since the initial theatrical release. I remembered very little, which as it turns out was for a reason. Stuart Baird did a fine job directing Executive Decision, but this movie tries to turn the Next Generation cast into action heroes, and it just doesn't work. Picard's sudden lapse into adolescence while driving a dune buggy illustrates this all too well. I can accept that he would want to drive the car super-fast, but for this to turn into an action sequence when there was no earlier mention of the inhabitants of the planet having a habit of sending multiple armed vehicles guns a-blazing to attack anyone in their territory, it just fails. The color-desaturation works against this scene too, as it makes everything look like a sun-baked brown desert, and thus very boring. To send the scene off by having Picard drive the car into their airborne shuttlecraft... is just silly. Later, the Remans display alarming signs of having studied under stormtroopers, for their aim is astoundingly lousy when the Romulans used them as shock troops. Patrick Stewart is an odd action hero, and for him to have no trouble outshooting multiple younger, stronger opponents is just a little difficult to swallow.
    As a villain, Shinzon (Tom Hardy) is trying to recapture the magneticism of Khan (the whole movie is, most blatantly in its climax) but fails. Part of it definitely has to do with the leather outfits that have a rainbow sheen worn by the Remans, part of it is the effort to humanize him by having Picard sympathize when this captain knows better, and part of it is probably Hardy not going enough over the top to be visibly having a blast. Then there's the climax, involving the ludicrous ship ramming (we're in 0G, how would that do ANYTHING except just bump off?) and Data's sacrifice which is promptly negated by B-4's inclusion. It's not a total loss, but this thing was called out as bad by some of the cast for a reason.
    Properly I should talk about JJ Abrams' latest Star Trek now. Too bad, I'm sick of typing.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • IndineraIndinera Member Full Members
    edited October 2011
    Haeundae

    I love disaster movies especially "tidal wave" ones
    Owner of Aldorlea Games
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  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited October 2011
    The Princess and the Frog. As Disney movies go, I don't know how high to rank it. The songs have mostly not stayed with me, but they were visually delightful and impressive within the movie as a demonstration of how fully New Orleans the setting is. I'd probably rank it alongside the movies of the 'second Golden Age.' Visually great, voices well-chosen, excellently-realized setting. A couple of the standard plot beats were kinda perfunctory to me (of COURSE the heroine will think she's been looked over), the Shadowman is a cool villain but his being in thrall to his friend on the other side means he's not as deliciously evil as some other Disney villains (though his finish is quite nice), but this is minor stuff.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited October 2011
    The Lost Missile (1958). Mystery Science Theater 3000 could have had a field day with this.
    Not much of a review, but it says a lot. The scenario is goofy, and the seriousness with which it's played just makes it the funnier. The Soviets have managed to knock some rogue missile into an 'orbit' (never minding that orbits do not occur at a 5 mile height) and it's heading through Alaska and Canada on a direct course to New York City, setting everything in its wake on fire due to its 1 million degree temperature! Characters in the movie suppose that this rocket (moving at 4200 miles per hour) is actually from an alien world, but that doesn't really matter except for setting one of them off on a funny bout of overacting. Our main characters are Joe (the overactor, who looks kinda like Glenn Ford when his glasses are off), whose wife is having a baby today and expects him to take her to the hospital, and David, who is supposed to get married during lunch hour to what's-her-name also in the atomic research laboratory where they're employed. Plans are shelved by this rapidly approaching missile, and New York's 2 million children attempt to evacuate in the 57 minutes before it reaches the city while David grabs some plutonium in order to power the Jove missile, most powerful ever built, that might be able to stop that alien thing before it circumnavigates the entire planet and sets fire to everything!
    The movie actually has kind of a grim tone, undermined constantly by how silly events play out. Joe's wife manages to have the neatest, quickest birth ever, for instance. To induce suspense at the end, David and whats-her-name are stopped by a quartet of 50's biker dudes whose car broke down and now want his, though their life expectancies go way down once they open the plutonium box and get a good dose of radiation. All the Canadians in the audience will be saddened to hear that Ottawa is directly in the missile's path, and becomes a scorched ruin. Cheesy effects of missiles are rampant, characters say things that are silly in staid ways, stock footage is used all the time (unless the Canadian air force really does have the UK fighter emblem on its planes instead of the maple leaf), and the ending attempts to be a downer when it hasn't been earned.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
  • Confessor RahlConfessor Rahl Member Full Members
    edited October 2011
    Red State... good movie, but sadly it could not figure out what it wanted to be!
    "Back when FF9 was coming out. People were rejoicing because it was actually a fantasy game and not a sci-fi game like 7 and 8. It's hilarious in modern context, with everyone wanking themselves to dehydration at the thought of a FF7 remake."
  • IndineraIndinera Member Full Members
    edited October 2011
    Manhunt and Shuttle, both horror movies which is my favorite genre.
    Manhunt is more a survival ala Wrong Turn with some bits of torture and Shuttle has a thriller side to it, and a pretty good ending.
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  • Mike MoehnkeMike Moehnke Code: Kirin Administrators
    edited October 2011
    Just as the early 80s saw a rush of mostly-lousy horror movies, so did the late 90s. Remember Scream repopularizing the genre in multiplexes? Well, a lot of trash came out of that, and Urban Legend is one such trashy late 90s horror movie. Its central premise revolves around the title, as a pre-credits killing replicates the old 'killer hiding in the back seat of the car' gag (right after poor Brad Dourif got an obvious red herring cameo). Turns out the victim of that first killing was a college student, and some of her classmates speculate about what it might have been, but more killings in the style of urban legends start happening. The two people with the most screen time are Jared Leto and Alicia Witt, neither of whom develops into a particularly interesting character (Leto comes closer, but Witt really doesn't do a good job in this movie). Too bad the only scene with any real juice comes from Robert Englund's near-cameo appearance as a professor specializing in modern folklore, and the scene in his classroom is fun to watch. Naturally, he has almost nothing to do in the rest of the movie. The real killer is one of the more unbelievable I've seen, and the motivations for this killing spree are outright lunacy.
    There was something about a campus urban legend involving an entire dormitory that was slaughtered with only one survivor thirty years prior, but I watched this thing several weeks ago and the memory is already fading. Not a terrible horror movie, just unimpressive and forgettable.
    It's not what he's eating, but what's eating him that makes it ... sort of interesting.
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