Wednesday, November 16, 2016
I was glad to get a chance to re-watch Zootopia (2016), which I'd last caught on a plane from Austin to London, and that's never an ideal viewing environment. You can read my write up here. I also think that whatever version I saw on the place was the British version, which was maybe called Zootropolis, because in the version we watched last weekend I'm pretty sure they called the city Zootopia.
Anyway, I still liked the movie just as much. It's not the same instant myth-making as Frozen or Beauty and the Beast (and did y'all see that trailer for the live action version? Pretty keen.), it's too high concept and plot-driven. In it's way, it's dealing with a lot of cultural abstractions that, pretty clearly, a lot of people are not quite internalizing and dealing with in the adult world, which makes the all-ages nature of the film kind of a peculiar fit.
But, yeah, I still like the movie quite a bit.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Ah. Okay. So.
I had a free rental for some reason at Vulcan Video, so I wanted to continue down the path of watching some additional Hammer Horror. I was vaguely aware of the movie The Vampire Lovers (1970), maybe from a suggestion from one of you fine people. I don't know. What I did know was that the Hammer aficionados have a warm spot in their hearts for Ingrid Pitt, and this one was heavily featuring Ms. Pitt, so who was I to not watch this movie?
Monday, November 14, 2016
At one point in my life, I was an Arnold Schwarzenegger completionist. If Arnie put out a movie, I was seeing it. This went right up through his pre-Governator movies that were of middling quality. It is true I fell down on the job and didn't see Jingle All the Way during it's theatrical release, but I did rent it with my mom the following Christmas, and we yukked it up together to the antics of Arnie and Sinbad.
But somehow, I missed out on Kindergarten Cop (1990). I don't know how or why. It's kind of odd, really, because it came out during a window when I went to the movies on a weekly basis, and movies were in the theater for usually about a month or more before disappearing back then. And Kindergarten Cop did pretty well. Lots of people saw it.
Further confounding my how's and why's, the movie co-stars Penelope Ann Miller, who was a draw for me back in the day in a post The Freshman world (and even pre-The Shadow). The only thing I can think is that movie came out in December 1990, shortly after I'd moved to Houston but before I had a driver's license. So, it's possible I couldn't get to the cinema and I didn't have anyone to go with.
So, I finally watched the movie.
And it is terrible.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
I don't know where to start or what, exactly, to say about Starcrash (1978).
I'd heard of the movie decades ago as it was always in with the sci-fi/ fantasy movies at video rental shops, but with Caroline Munro in a vinyl bikini on the box cover, I knew better than to bother to rent the movie. When I was young enough to have to ask my parents to rent something for me, I didn't want to put up with the questions and then the reporting my parents would gleefully do given the first opportunity (my family looooooves a good embarrassing story, and a 10 year old Ryan standing there with a video with a buxom space-lady on the cover would have been fodder for them for weeks, if not years).
When I got older and was renting movies on my own, and, I know it seems counter-intuitive if you've been following this site for a while, but I already knew any movie relying on a bikini-clad off-brand actor on the cover wound up as a terrible decision. Yes, it was also the kind of thing that became fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000 in it's later years when the cheaply produced post Star Wars/ post Mad Max knock-offs were showing up over and over at the video store, but without Joel or Mike to guide me through, it wasn't worth it.* And, I don't mind that at one point in my life I was subconsciously trying to understand what was and was not a good movie.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
No real write-up. We re-watched The Legend of Tarzan (2016), which I wrote up this summer.
It's too bad this film didn't perform better and get more attention, because I quite like where they were going with Tarzan here. It's a leap from the books and various other incarnations, but it was a version I would have gotten me back to the theater for a sequel, and it was at least as fun as Doctor Strange, while also having something of a point to it (which I'm not sure you can say about Marvel's latest entry).
It's also weird to think a movie can make $356 million and be seen as a "meh" performance, but that's today's Hollywood. If a movie isn't part of a system like the Marvel franchise where they can build and build on even a middling performer (see Ant-Man or even the first Captain America movie), it's really tough to get a second go or, weirdly, even to get any attention. I mean, it's kind of funny we'll take Doctor Strange seriously (it's at $350 million after a week! Go, Doc Strange!), but without the Marvel label, we'll shrug off Tarzan.
In short: that Marvel brand is a powerful thing. Being seen as old or legacy is not.
It's not a perfect movie or even a great movie, but it's certainly okay. I wish it did some things it didn't, but it did lots of things that surprised me, and gave me the first Jane Porter outside of the books or comics I've really liked.
Friday, November 11, 2016
If you're looking for some pure, escapist fun to watch with the kids* (and you want to guarantee they'll enjoy the action while you enjoy the jokes), I really can't recommend the newly released Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016) enough.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
What an inexplicably timed movie.
I'd gone into Arrival (2016) with very little knowledge other than it was about "first contact" and starred Amy Adams as a linguist, and at this point, I'll more or less pay to see Amy Adams read the phone book. So, throw in some aliens, some hand-wavy hard science fiction and I was in.
This movie is in line with The Day the Earth Stood Still or the themes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Alien vessels arrive, truly alien, and a very good looking linguist must be put to the task to help the military communicate with the visitors. Of course there are eleven more of these ships scattered across the planet, and everyone is trying to speak to the aliens to find out if they mean us harm.
Well, this is the strangest twenty-four hour period I can recall in quite a while.
I've been steering clear of talking too much because so much has already been said, and, what have I got to add at this point? I've not been engaging with folks much online - I don't really know how to respond. I'm used to seeing my candidates take it on the chin - I live in Texas after all - but I'd bought the pollsters telling me how this was gonna go, and I kind of figured enough of America knew a boorish charlatan when they saw one, and we were going to see a bit of grudging sanity play out.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Sunday, November 6, 2016
It's safe to say that Doctor Strange as a Marvel character has never been much in my wheelhouse. As a kid, the comics always held a certain visual appeal, but I felt like the character was all mustache and cape, dealing with, yeah, world-threatening dilemmas, but always in that vague way of magical characters that didn't hold the immediate familiarity of "oh, Joker's going to kill all those people" or "Magneto is up to his old tricks." I was pretty well into college before I embraced the abstraction of world-ending calamities on a metaphysical scale, mostly by way of Jack Kirby's 70's-era work and Grant Morrison's JLA. But I still never drifted back to Doctor Strange over at Marvel. I'd enjoy his guest appearances everywhere from Spider-Man to The Illuminati-type stuff, but didn't think it was something that needed to be in my monthly "buy" pile.
Really, the only Doctor Strange comics I ever purchased were back when the character was double-billing in Strange Tales with Cloak & Dagger, which I was picking up because I dug Cloak and Dagger. Figuring out what the hell was going on with Stephen Strange, MD, wasn't particularly something I was losing sleep over.
But, the Marvel movies are, for me, an ideal way to engage with the Marvel U in a non-invested sort of way with stuff I was vaguely interested in, but didn't care to get too immersed in. Starting with Iron Man and including everything from Thor and The Avengers to the current incarnation of Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics, I prefer how these packages are presented in movie-form.*
Doctor Strange (2016) is - yes - another Marvel origin story. This is both a reality and problem for Marvel as it rolls out it's ever-broadening line of characters in television and film, as the origins of these characters are, in fact, of great importance to establishing the characters and their motivations for films to come. If not for Iron Man and Captain America as origin stories, how interesting would Civil War have been, really? Or, hell, Winter Soldier? DC Entertainment is finding out the hard way via Suicide Squad's terrible story problems that even an ensemble piece needs a bit more fleshing out.