Predator (1987)

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This one is so much better than the new version that came out this weekend, The Predator.  It is not even close.

This movie really shot Arnold Schwarzenegger into the stratosphere of movie stars with his great performance as Dutch, the leader of an elite crew of mercenaries/soldiers who are sent into Central America on a secret mission.

While taking care of the mission, Dutch and his team encounter an alien being that starts hunting them and killing them off one at a time.

Why this works so much better than the new film? There are many reasons.  One, in Predator, we took some time to know who this group of soldiers were and how they were connected to one another.  They were more than just a bunch of traits.  They were characters.  They may not have been incredibly deep, but they gave you a reason to care about their imminent deaths.  Two, the humor was kept to a bare minimum in the original.  There were several one liners in the first Predator that worked (most of Jesse Ventura’s lines for example), but the entire crew did not feel the need to be cracking wise through the whole movie.  Three. the Predator itself was more than just a Hulk rip-off.  This predator was a real hunter and he took advantage of his skills and his knowledge to become a threat.  He was not just show up and batter people to death like in the new film.  Fourth, the story was simple.  It was a slasher movie with soldiers instead of teenagers.  There was no need for complex convoluted plotlines that some times did not go anywhere.  There was one major plot…to survive.

Predator had some serious violence.  I know that my friends in our Champions group of role-playing games always wanted one of Blain’s (Jesse Ventura) line guns after seeing the chaos that thing brought.  The scene of the soldiers just decimating the jungle after Blain’s untimely death (really, he died way too soon!!!) was just amazing.

I also loved how Arnold Schwarzenegger was battered and bloody and nearly died.  He did not stroll through the film like nothing would ever hurt him.  He was frightened by this monster and he had to use every trick in the book to survive and he knew that he was lucky.

After watching this week’s Honest Trailers which featured this original Predator, I have to agree with them that the scene at the very beginning revealing that the Predator came from outer space was an unnecessary scene that actually hurt the film.  How much cooler would it have been if we did not know what it was that was stalking these men and causing such violence?  Instead, we know immediately that it was an alien.  I have to agree with Honest Trailers here, even though it was not a major problem.

If you want to see a Predator movie this weekend, I highly recommend that you skip the one with the “The” in front of it and watch the first and best  one, Predator.

vintage

 

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Muppet Treasure Island (1996)

This coming Wednesday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  I celebrate the holiday every September the 19th.  As the song says, it is a day when adults can show that they still know how to play.  In honor of the great day, I pulled out one of my favorite pirate inspired movies of all time… Muppet Treasure Island.

The Muppets became involved in a series of movies that retold classic stories using the Muppets in the starring roles.  Muppets Christmas Carol, Muppets Wizard of Oz etc.  This one was an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

Kermit the Frog was Captain Smollet, the captain of the Hispanola.  Miss Piggy was his beloved girlfriend Benjamina Gunn.  Sam Eagle was Mr. Arrow. Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat were here as themselves.

However, there were three key human characters here.  EYG Hall of Fame Wild Card Inductee Tim Curry played the evil pirate chef Long John Silver, Kevin Bishop was a young Jim Hawkins and comedian Billy Connolly played Bill Bones, who had stolen Cap’n Flint’s treasure map.  The three of these actors brought a ton of humor and solid work to the Muppet cast.

I liked the songs on this film more than some of the other Muppet films.  In particular, “Shiver My Timbers”, “Professional Pirate”, “Something Better” and “Sailing for Adventure.”  While there may not be any instant classic such as “Rainbow Connection”, the overall quality of songs are wonderful.

Tim Curry is perfect as Long John Silver.  He provides the charisma of the gentleman of fortune and yet plays the sinister aspects of the character extremely well.  The relationship between Curry and Kevin Bishop was believable and true.

The film is quick-paced and fun.  It is a perfect way to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day.  Ahoy!

vintage

 

Unbreakable (2000)

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This coming January, M. Night Shyamalan is releasing the new film called Glass, which features the characters from this classic film, Unbreakable, and the film from a couple of years ago, Split.

Split was a real return to form for Shyamalan, who spent several years making dud after dud.  At one point, Shyamalan was being referred to as the “next Spielberg” after his massive hits, The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable.  However, after a few more marginally successful films, the wheels came off and Shyamalan’s films took a steady decline.

However, he had started to recover when the excellent Split was released and it caused a sensation, not only for the brilliant performance of James McAvoy, but also the surprising tie in tagged at the film’s conclusion.  It turned out that Split took place in the same universe as Unbreakable as we see that film’s David Dunn (Bruce Willis) watching a news report about the happenings of Split.

In a world where cinematic universes are all the rage, M. Night Shyamalan had created one without any fanfare or promotion.  The announcement of the release of Glass came soon after this.

Looking back on the first film in this universe, Unbreakable is so much better than I even remembered.  I remember liking the film originally, but not being blown away by it, which should be considered shocking.  I was a huge comic book fan and I loved Bruce Willis too (from Moonlighting, Die Hard and the Sixth Sense).  Unbreakable should have been right down my alley.

I must say, after the rewatch tonight, I really dug it more than I remembered.

The development of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) into the villainous Mr. Glass is amazing and was completely unnerving.  I remember being shocked and not 100% sure what had happened the first time I saw the film and this time, you can see what he is doing as the film progresses.  This would be one of the films that started the reputation of Shyamalan as a filmmaker whose films ended with a mysterious twist.  That kind of shoehorned him into a path that he could not maintain during the down period.

Bruce Willis is excellent here and the chemistry between him and Sam Jackson is undeniable.  How Willis’s character, David Dunn, slowly comes around to acceptance that he was more than just a normal man is smart, realistic and well done.  It may be a slow burn, but I found it to be fascinating.  The pain of his son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) over his father’s refusal to accept his destiny was difficult and the scene where Joseph takes his dad’s gun was as tense of a scene as you are going to find.  You just were not sure of what was going to happen.  I also loved the scene near the end where David showed his son the newspaper of the “Hero” and silently let hm know that Joseph was right all along.  The single tear that Joseph wipes away is beautiful and speaks of the character perfectly.

Robin Wright as David Dunn’s wife Audrey was wonderful as well.  I loved her as Buttercup in the Princess Bride but I did not know that it was her in Unbreakable until after the film was over and I saw the IMDb page.  David and Audrey had lots of trouble between them but the sweet ending with David telling her that he had a bad dream, building on an earlier scene, was such an amazing restart to their relationship.

Unbreakable was a much better film than I remembered.  I was completely engaged in the movie and the relationships of the characters within.  The film plays like an origin story of a super hero, only to reveal that it is also the origin story of the super villain.

Can’t wait for Glass!

paragon

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The Birds (1963)

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Another Hitchcock classic down.

I had a great time this morning watching the creepy and frightening The Birds, Hitchcock’s follow-up to his all-time classic Psycho.

San Francisco socialite Melanie Daniels (Tippy Hedren) met handsome lawyer Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) in a pet shop.  Knowing who she was, Mitch had played a bit of a joke on her to put her in her place.  Melanie wasn’t going to settle for that so she purchased two love birds and followed Mitch to his home town of Bodega Bay to deliver the birds.  Melanie met Mitch’s overprotective mother Lydia (Jessica Tandy), his little sister Cathy (Veronica Cartwright) and an old flame Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette).

As the human drama continued to play out, the local birds started to act in peculiar ways: a seagull struck Melanie on the head.  A group of birds attacked a fishing vessel in pursuit of fish.  Crows began to group up.

Soon, these packs of birds were attacking school children, breaking into houses and pecking the eyes out of local residents.  Mitch and Melanie desperately tried to keep his family safe from the deadly assault of these birds.

The Birds is a fascinating film.  First of all, it is extremely suspenseful.  Hitchcock masterfully builds tension and suspense with each shot of the birds and the use of silence in the background.  The first half of the film is spent on developing characters and their motivations and the horror elements of the film are placed on a slow burn.  This worked brilliantly by building the anxiousness of the audience.  Then, when the birds would attack, it provided even more of a shock to the viewers.  I know that I shouted out loud several times (when the birds came flying out of the fireplace into the Brenner home, I blurted out).

Making things even more tense for the audience is the fact that Hitchcock has taken a species that has never been aggressive,  that have been docile, and turned them into monstrous killers.  Birds are just a normal part of the world.  In fact, you probably do not even notice that they are there.  That only adds to the overall effectiveness of the sudden turn into creature features.

Finally, the fact that Hitchcock does not take the time to give any reasons behind the attacks or any motive whatsoever makes the violence even more disturbing.  There are several potential hints dropped throughout that could lead to answers.  These include things like: “it’s the end of the word”, the constant shots of the two caged love birds, Melanie is evil and has brought this curse with her, poisoned bird feed, the birds are getting sick etc.  Honestly, I prefer the open ended aspect of the film’s feathered felon’s motivation because it allows you to decide for yourself which of the obviously dropped hints are important and which ones were Hitchcock just playing with the audience.  I suppose there is a strong chance that Hitchcock had no idea the real motivation and he just provided a series of possibilities to keep people talking.

There are some tremendously iconic horror scenes in The Birds, including the children running in fear from their school and Melanie trapped inside a phone booth.  There are some amazing shots that director Hitchcock placed in this film that creates such a wonderful tension in his viewers’ mind.

Even the ending left the results in question, and I thought it was quite the ballsy choice.  Hitchcock did not feel the need to wrap things up in a neat bow and the unpredictability of the whole film shows what a master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock was.

paragon

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Drop Dead Gorgeous (2010)

Drop Dead Gorgeous

Weird.

I was watching a Movie Trivia Schmoedown episode and there was a question about a movie called Drop Dead Gorgeous.  The question asked about plot details and sounded interesting to me so I went looking for it.  I found it on Amazon and so I was excited.

As I’m watching the mockumentary at the heart of the movie, I was thinking to myself that this did not remind me much of the question in the Schmoedown.  Pushing that aside, I kept watching until the end.  Then I went to Rotten Tomatoes and this film had no rating on the site.  I was confused even more.

Then, I saw it.

I saw another movie named Drop Dead Gorgeous, but it had been released in 1999.  That was the film the Schmoedown question had been written about. This one was an entirely different movie.

Hm.

This film was a mockumentary about a filming of a model for the new campaign of fashion star Claudio (Steven Berkoff).  Claudio had chosen young and unknown model Cynthia (Ivy Levan) as his new “girl” and she dove into the life of a model, including drugs.  Unfortunately, Cynthia overdosed in the middle of a photo shoot.  The problem was that her untimely death did not stop the shoot from continuing.  In fact, her death actually made her even more in demand.

There was some real dark comedy here and I did not mind much of it, but the characters were so out of their minds that it made much of the satire involved to be too crazy.  I started wondering why the dead body of Cynthia didn’t start going through the stages a dead body would go through, but perhaps the film was not interested in any sort of truth.

There were many moments of dark humor here.  Some worked but a lot of it was kind of over the top.  At first I thought there was going to be a mystery involved int he death, but that was not a focus.

The film was scathing towards the modeling world, no doubt.  The way they treated Cynthia’s dead body as a lump to be bent and taken advantage of was shocking.  It was certainly saying that this is how real living models are treated.

The problem was there was just too cartoony characters involved here that overtook the message.  The film was watchable, but it could have been extremely more biting than it turned out to be.

Maybe I have to keep looking for the other Drop Dead Gorgeous.

meh

Drop Dead Gorgeous

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)

Based on a short lived ABC television program, Police Squad!, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad started a successful spoof franchise starring the always wonderfully deadpan Leslie Nielsen as the bumbling yet somehow super effective police officer Frank Drebin.

The Naked Gun is unapologetic for its comedy and it is not afraid if a joke does not hit because if you, as an audience member do not like one joke, wait ten seconds and there will be five more.  The rapid fire humor covers all realms of type during the 90+ minutes and Leslie Nielsen is the perfect foil for it.

Frank catches wind of a potential plot to assassinate the visiting Queen of England by local businessman Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban).  Why did Ludwig want to assassinate the Queen?  Well, it is never quite revealed, but those pesky plot details are just in the way.

Ludwig’s assistant Jane (Priscilla Presley) is sent to get close to Frank, but she falls in love with the cop, causing even more trouble for him.  Frank’s quest to stop Ludwig seems to border on obsessive so he is removed from Police Squad, but that does not stop him from heading to an Angels baseball game where the assassination is scheduled to take place by one of the players.

The baseball scenes in The Naked Gun are some of the best comedy of the entire movie.  Frank finds himself as the singer of the national anthem before he works himself into the role of the home plate umpire.  These baseball scenes are a total hoot.

The film features great cameos from Reggie Jackson and EYG Hall of Famer “Weird Al” Yankovic.  There is as well a long list of baseball announcers appearing including but not limited to Jim Palmer, Dick Vitale and Dr. Joyce Brothers.

There is also a strange cathartic release seeing all of the harm done to OJ Simpson’s character, Norberg, as Frank’s partner and best friend is constantly placed in situations that cause him harm or pain.  Just something right about that.

The Naked Gun is certainly a ridiculous film, but as a spoof movie, it is one of the true classics.  You cannot go to a Naked Gun movie for the intricate plot.  It is meant to make you laugh, and Naked Gun does that throughout the movie.

funtime

Rebecca (1940)

Continuing to work on the gaps in my Alfred Hitchcock film series, I pulled up Rebecca, the Academy Award winner in 1941.  I heard the movie’s name mentioned during the Movie Trivia Schmoedown as the only film Hitchcock directed that would win Best Picture so I put it on the list.

This was a well-deserving Oscar winner.  The film was tremendous.  I loved just about everything about it.  The story was mysterious and engaging.  The acting was wonderfully strong.  The tone of the film had that suspenseful feel that was so obviously Hitchcock.  The twists of the plot were well done and came from the story.  It made sense even though you did not expect it.  I really enjoyed this movie.

Wealthy Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) meets up with a shy and self-doubting woman and they get married.  However, it appeared that de Winter has been carrying a flame for his dead wife, Rebecca, who died in a boating accident the year before.  After they get married, the couple returned to his home, Manderley, where he had lived with Rebecca and where several servants still held loyalty to their former mistress.

Joan Fontaine played the new wide, Mrs. de Winter, whose first name is never revealed.  She does a great job playing that self-doubt that is really attacked by the staff, in particular, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson).  Mrs. Danvers, who was Rebecca’s personal housekeeper, was quite a creepy character who played on the young lady’s insecurities in her anger and jealousy.

Then the story takes a twist that caught me off guard.  I really enjoyed the twist and it turned the whole film’s narrative on its ear.

The black and white film brought such a series of wonderful imagery that it helped play into the tone of the film.

This is right up there with my favorite Hitchcock films.

paragon

 

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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I got a chance to see 2001: A Space Odyssey today for the first time ever and, man, what a trippy film to watch.  I am really not sure exactly what I saw.

2001 was being re-released in IMAX theaters for a week and I was anxious to see it.  I mean, I knew of the film, the way the AI Hal 9000 took control of the space station and would not follow instructions of the humans any longer, leading to some dramatic events, but that was just a part of the film.

Based on Arthur C. Clarke’s story The Sentinel, 2001: A Space Odyssey stretched what a film’s narrative structure was and how a film was presented.  This was a bold chance taken by Stanley Kubrick, the film’s director, but it reached a new level of filmmaking.  Not every scene worked, and honestly, there were some sections that were somewhat dull, but the originality at the time cannot be ignored.

It starts at the dawn of man and ends up going through the weirdest light show you can imagine.  It is all really about (I believe) the evolution of the human species, as only Stanley Kubrick can see it.  All this plus large black monoliths floating in space and buried in the earth.

There is no doubt that the special effects were amazing and WAY beyond its time.  The film is literally a visual odyssey through every imagined acid trip possible.  The music was awe-inspiring as well.  Even more than just the music, the use (or non-use as the case may be) of sound was as brilliant as any movie has ever done.  The sound kept the audience off guard and downright anxious.  This film is a technical masterpiece.  Art at its highest level.

Hal 9000 is a great villain as well, but it still was a difficult thing when he was basically begging Dave for his life near the end of the film.  That made Hal very human and allowed us to understand his motives for his evil actions.

2001: A Space Odyssey felt too long, but the beauty of what was seen and heard out weighed any nagging issues over the narrative structure.  There is a reason why this is seen as one of the all time classic films ever made.  If you get a chance to see the film on an IMAX screen, take advantage of it.  It is a beautiful event, even if parts of the film are a tad boring.

vintage

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Aliens (1986)

Holy S%$^

Ripley, you are one badass mamma!

It had been too long since I saw the Ripley Scott film Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens so I watched Alien yesterday and it was great.  Then, since Aliens was 155 minutes long, I waited until today to watch it.

Holy S%$#

This thing was just completely insane.  I do not remember being this tense or ridden with anxiety the last time I watched this film.

Aliens was just tremendous.  I liked it even more than the first one.

Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) was found 57 years later, still floating in her cryo-sleep on her escape vehicle after the first film.  Returned to civilization, the Company did not believe the story that she told about surviving the alien and having to blow the compound up.  However, when the moon LV-426 where Ripley’s team originally landed, picking up the alien had been colonized and contact lost, a team was sent to scout and rescue whom they could.  Ripley was asked to go along, but she did not want to go.  Unable to escape the nightmares, she finally decided to join the search as long as they were there to wipe the creatures out of existence.

This film is more of an action/adventure film than a science fiction film, though it still can be categorized as such.  I liked the crew that accompanied Ripley this time, including the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen) who Ripley did not trust, weaselly Company man Burke (Paul Reiser), Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn), Hudson (the late, great Bill Paxton), and Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein).  The cat is replaced in this film by Newt (Carrie Henn) the sole survivor of the outpost- a little girl who has survived in the vents.  These characters meant more to me than the ones in the first film so, for those that would not make it, I felt more of a loss.

I found myself yelling at the screen, supporting Ripley as she ripped through the situations she gets dropped into.  Showing just how capable and kick ass she truly was.  I threw my fist into the air as Ripley yelled at the Alien Queen, who was trying to kill Newt,  “Get away from her, you bitch!”  What a perfect moment.  And while that line of dialogue could be seen as corny or over-the-top, it is delivered so perfectly by Weaver and is such a release of pent up frustration and anger for both Ripley and the audience, it is a perfect moment.

Again, I knew the end result of the film, but it had been long enough that much of the film was a refresher.  I remembered more about this film though than I did the first one prior to the re-watch.

The core of this movie is Ripley.  She is, not only, bad ass, she is extremely smart.  Remember how she was right in the first film and none of this would be happening had they listened to her?  She puts that quick brain on display here as much as she puts her bad ass self.  She is commanding, dominant and powerful in her opinions and damn those who may be in her way.  I loved how she stood up to the brazen Marines at the start and how she was able to overcome her own desperate fears to become an icon of female power.  She is the ultimate female action hero in movies and she is truly the total package.  Plus, she can run the exo-suit cargo loader like a boss!

The film is a great looking film, even though there are a few moments where the green screen was apparent.  Still, for 1986, this is an impressive feat.

It is a remarkable film.  It sits at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes out of 66 reviews there was only one dissenter.  I wondered who that was, because I couldn’t believe that someone went against this.  It was Gene Siskel of all people.  Wild.

This was an amazing film.  I do not remember being this amazed by it when I first watched it so I am truly glad I got to see it again on HBO.  I think this one has found its way into my favorite films of all time.

“Game over, man.  Game over.”

paragon

 

 

 

Alien (1979)

Ridley Scott’s classic horror movie set in space, Alien was on the agenda today and I enjoyed it a great deal.  I had not seen the whole film in along time so it was very much fresh viewing.

Of course, Ripley was right.  Every time she said something in the movie, she was spot on.  If what she said was followed, they all would have survived.

Unless, of course, that pesky robot wrecked it for them.

Sigourney Weaver created one of the first really kick ass females on the big screen with her role as Ripley.  Ripley took care of business and set a standard of female heroes for the next several decades.  I did not remember Tom Skerritt ( who I knew as Jimmy Brock from Picket Fences) was in this movie.  He was positioned for you to assume that he was the star of the movie, but it was clearly turned out to be Ripley.

The effects are still reasonable and actually increase the terror of the situation.  I’m not sure the Xenomorphs would be nearly as frightening had CGI been a thing in 1979.  The practical effects here were really exceptional and chilling.

The argument I have heard about Ripley going back for the cat is a silly one.  Of course she should have gone back for the cat.  She was right about everything so I am with her!  Team Ripley!

The movie went at a solid pace, building tension and anxiety the whole time.  You are never quite sure what is going to happen next and that feeling of claustrophobia is a real sense.  You are filled with it the whole time and when the alien arrived on the shuttle with Ripley the final survivor, you cannot believe what is happening.  I knew Ripley survived and I was still nervous and tense the whole time.

And of course, Alien played a huge part in Avengers: Infinity War (thanks Spidey!).

It is a shame that the new Alien movies are no where near as strong as this one is.  I will be rewatching Alien 2 either later tonight or tomorrow.

vintage

The Rocketeer (1991)

My memory of Disney’s The Rocketeer was that I did not like it much.  I remember renting the VHS of the film when I was younger and not being a huge fan.  After revisiting it today, I found myself in a different mindset.

The Rocketeer was quite a fun ride and my opinion soared to new heights.

Bad puns aside, I found much more enjoyment today than I did when it first came out.  While not perfect, The Rocketeer brought that feeling of the old pulpy serials of the 1930s combined with the adventuresome qualities of an Indiana Jones.

Billy Campbell was solid as Cliff Secord, the down-on-his-luck pilot who finds the top secret rocket pack after an accident on his airstrip involving the mob and the FBI.  Hoping to use the rocket pack to make some money and get back on his feet, Cliff winds up in the middle of a Nazi plot to use the technology to take over the world.  Campbell felt authentic in the role, bringing a quality of heroism and bravery to Cliff.  He did that without sacrificing the ability to show that he was still in over his head.

Timothy Dalton was great as Neville Sinclair, the Hollywood movie icon who had a dark secret he was keeping.  Alan Arkin played Peevy, Cliff’s close friend and genius mechanic.  LOST’s own John Locke himself, Terry O’Quinn played Howard Hughes, the famous philanthropist who designed the rocket pack.  Paul Sorvino played Eddie Valentine, local mob boss who is working with Sinclair to find the rocket.

Much of the special effects do not hold up to today’s standards, but I am sure they looked fine for the time.  I loved the ending of the film how everything came back around from earlier in the movie and paid off (especially the chewing gum).  My favorite moment was when the FBI and the mob teamed up and were shooting at the Nazis.  It was an ironic moment and a ton of fun.

Tiny Ron played a fascinating character named Lother, the giant henchman with the rubbery face.  I found him intriguing to watch and somewhat frightening as well, but when he was running, there was a comedic aspect to it.  He made me think of Frankenstein’s Monster and I did not want him to be shown quite so awkwardly as he was.  It is believed that this character was based after a man named Rondo Hatton, the “ugliest man in Hollywood” who appeared in several films in the 40s as henchmen roles and some horror movies.

The movie was based on a comic book by Dan Stevens from the early 1980s.

The Rocketeer was more fun than I remembered and I am glad I watched this one again.  There are flaws here and there, but it was a worthwhile watch.

funtime

Gone Baby Gone (2007)

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Ben Affleck’s directorial debut is a powerful film featuring a story that is difficult to watch, and provides the viewer with many ethical questions that are truly left ambiguous.

Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his girlfriend Angie (Michelle Monaghan) were private detectives who are hired to assist the police investigation by the aunt of a missing 4-year old girl.  Patrick was well known in the Boston neighborhood so the aunt thought he could go places where the police couldn’t go.  They joined up with the investigating officers Remy (Ed Harris) and Nick (John Ashton) and they followed the case through many unexpected twists.

The story was well told and the characters were very deeply developed.  You felt the pain and the guilt Patrick felt as the case took what seemed to be negative turns and you wanted everything to turn out alright.

Whether everything does turn out right at the end of the movie is left up to personal opinion in a unexpected way.

This is an amazing debut in the director’s chair for Ben Affleck.  There are many shots it the film that create emotions within the viewer and he takes a case that should be obvious what the best thing to do is, and makes you uncertain about what the right thing is.

Casey Affleck was strong in the film, and I found to be on his moral train.  There are other good to great performances from Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman and Amy Ryan.  Amy Ryan in particular showed a downright rotten side to the character of Helene McCreedy, the mother of the missing girl.

The film is an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name and Affleck does the source material proud.

vintage

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Deep Rising (1998)

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I was listening to the Critically Acclaimed podcast which includes the discussion of online critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold.  Each week, they pick two films, one bad and one good, to discuss as a pair.  Before that, they spend time reviewing the week’s new releases. This week, they were talking about The Meg and during that discussion, William Bibbiani brought up the film Deep Rising as the last good sea monster  film.  Both he and Witney Seibold spoke with such a positivity about Deep Rising that I decided to start looking for it.  I found it on HBO and gave it a try.

I will say that I had a good time watching the movie.  Sure, it was not the best film I have ever saw and it had some problems, but I enjoyed watching it.  If you can suspend your disbelief, there is entertainment to be had in Deep Rising.

John Finnegan (Treat Williams) runs a business where he and his crew would take you on his boat wherever you want to go with no questions asked as long as you pay them.  He was bringing a group of mercenaries through a pretty decent storm when we meet them.  There is some immediate conflict between the two groups when grease monkey Joey (Kevin J. O’Connor) discovers that they were hauling torpedoes.

Tensions built as the boat came closer to their destination… a gigantic cruise ship, one of the most luxurious in the world.  However, there’s a problem on the cruise ship.  The passengers appear to have disappeared.

However, the ship is not completely deserted as it becomes clear quickly that there is something monstrous there as well.

I enjoyed the crew of Finnegan’s boat, but I would have liked to have something more at the beginning to introduce me to them instead of simply throwing them into the mix right away.  I felt that Joey was played like he was Shaggy from Scooby Doo and I could see how some people may have found him to be annoying (because he was).  Still, there was something about him that made you root for him.  I liked Leila (Una Damon) and I would have liked more from her than we got.

There were none of the mercenaries, though, that I wanted to make it and when they started to be killed/consumed/drained by the sea monster, I was happy.  Still, the fate of the passengers was very frightening and you start hoping they escape simple because they were human beings.

The special effects were okay considering the date of the movie and the creature itself looked solid.  It looked good enough for me to not check out every time part of the monster was shown.

The story was fairly simple, although there was a bit of a twist with Anthony Heald as the owner of the cruise ship.  Heald played his character with a zeal that goes along with the B-movie villain and his over-the-top characterization fit well with the movie.  We also see a young Famke Janssen as the love interest for Finnegan.  Her character is not well developed outside of the fact that she is a thief whose overall motives are murky at best.

I loved the ending of the film which brought a laugh to me.  “Now what?”

I would thank William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold for the recommendation of a movie that I probably would never have seen had they not brought it up.  I was entertained because Deep Rising knew the kind of movie it was and embraced that.  It did not try to do more than it should do and, because of that, succeeded.

 

funtime

 

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Batman vs. Two-Face (2017)

I grew up on reruns of the Batman series originally shown in 1966-1968.  I loved those episodes and, as a child, I did not see how corny or campy they were.  They were just the way my Batman and Robin were.  Of course, then, an older me discovered the Dark Knight Returns mini-series and my opinions changed.

That did not mean that I started to hate on the Batman series.  I still loved it, but I could approach it in the way it was intended, as a comedic take on the Caped Crusader.

A few years ago, they released a film called Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader and it featured the returning voices of Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin.  This was awesome and I got to see this in a limited run in the theater thanks to Fathom Events.  I loved the throwback film which I thought had the perfect touch from the 1966 series.

Then, with the passing of Adam West, I heard another animated film had been finished prior to his death, with the voice talent of William Shatner as Two-Face.  I was very excited, but I didn’t hear anything else about it and it slipped my memory.

Today, while searching through Amazon for something to watch, I stumbled upon this movie and I was excited again.

Unfortunately, I just did not find it as magically nostalgic as I did with the Return of the Caped Crusaders.

Don’t get me wrong, there was still a lot of material here to enjoy and knowing it was the final performance of Adam West as Batman did give me some feels, but I had a real problem with the story and the portrayal of Two-Face.

Without spoiling, there was something that the story hinted at involving Harvey Dent and Two-Face that turned out to be just a taunt and I did not like that.  It made no sense from what we had already seen so it spoiled the movie for me.

I am also not sure that this film went campy enough.  There were parts that certainly worked but it felt like a pale comparison to the Return of the Caped Crusader.

I am not unhappy to have seen it, but I would have preferred more than what it was.

meh

Halloween (1978)

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This coming fall, there is a new Halloween movie coming out in theaters.  It is taking the continuity of the first film and discarding the remaining ton of sequels and reboots that followed.  Consider it like a Halloween 2.

I had never seen the original Halloween full and all the way through so I wanted to make sure I had a chance to see it before the release in October.  Tonight, it fit into the schedule so I watched John Carpenter’s original Halloween.

Watching it, you can see what type of classic this movie would become.  One of the first slasher horror films around, Carpenter’s film has all of the things that would eventually become horror tropes and cliches.  Of course,they were not cliches at the time, but they were so effective in this movie that we got the same type of tropes again and again.

Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie is running from the slow walking Michael Myers and she falls down.  How many times did we see that in horror movies after this.  The phone cord was cut preventing her from calling the police.  She couldn’t find her keys.  The doom that comes after teenagers have sex.

Heck, I found myself yelling at Laurie to finish him off when she had him down or to tie him up.  We all know about double taps these days…although it sure looked as if Michael Myers was more than able to shake off some serious damage to keep his desire to kill.

This film set the standard for countless imitators and followers the same way that Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho did in the 1960s and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did in the early 70s.

The Halloween score is iconic as well, written and performed by John Carpenter himself.  They may have overused the Halloween theme a bit for my tastes here, but I can understand why he did it because it certainly created a tense mood in the scenes.  I was on the edge of my seat, even though I knew the outcome of the film and which of the characters would survive.

Halloween was tense and anxiety-inducing, filling the audience with fear and it did it without the use of much if any blood.  It goes to sow that you do not need gore to have effective horror.

I am glad that I was able to get a chance to see this first film.  I have never been a huge fan of the slasher film genre, but this one is one of the most important films of the time.  Admittedly, there is little character development, but you still connect with Laurie and her plight because she is such a good person.

I am looking forward to Laurie Strode to return in the next Halloween movie in October to see where her life has taken her.

vintage

 

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