The pretty awful movie I kinda liked
Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell
The Setup: Another reboot of the ill-starred superhero franchise misses again.
So everyone says that they’re tired of the common superhero formula, but usually, when someone tries to do something different, like Ang Lee’s Hulk, people usually hate it. This movie is decidedly not great, but it ended up [whether intentionally is still up for conjecture] having an interesting shape and, you know, I kind of liked it. …
High-minded sci-fi concepts sprinkled with generous chunks of real cheese
Director: Robert S. Fiveson
Starring: Tim Donnelly, Paulette Breen, Dick Sargent, Keenan Wynn, David Hooks, Peter Graves
The Setup: Man realizes he is a clone bred for organ replacement. Suck to be you, bud!
This film gained notoriety after Michael Bay’s dreadful offense against humanity The Island came out, and people started pointing out that the Bay film was pretty much a straight remake of this one. Then the makers of this film sued, citing 100 points of similarity between the two, and finally Dreamworks, who released The Island, settled out of court. Having seen The Island [and now, against my better judgment, kind of wanting to see it AGAIN], I can attest that it truly is an updated remake. But, that said, they picked a rich film, just ripe for a remake. This is one of those films that, as is my creed, requires getting past its cheesiness to focus on its ideas, but once you do it’s quite rich, with ideas popping out all over and little real interest in pleasing the masses. Also please note that the same premise resulted in the serious sci-fi artsy film Never Let Me Go. We open with shots of a kind of meat locker with preserved bodies in plastic. This is intercut with a political rally for Senator Knight, who hopes to become President. Then we see a group of what we will soon realize are clones being overseen by guards as they do various physical fitness activities such as biking and running. …
Director: John Boorman
Starring: Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicol Williamson, Nicholas Clay
The Setup: Very sparse retelling of Arthurian legends.
It’s a pain to carry a big heavy book around with me, so for a while now my reading choices have been determined by which small, light paperbacks I have around or buy. I was casting around through my selections when I thought “What the hell, I’ll read Le Morte D’Arthur.” Soon after I happened upon the Pauline Kael review of this film, in which she says “the images have a crazy integrity,” and suddenly it hit me: I need to see Excalibur RIGHT NOW. In retrospect, and upon re-reading the Kael review, it struck me that I had ignored the rest of her review, which says the rest of the movie is so much unconnected garbage, vignettes in search of a connecting narrative, and so overblown as to be “verging on camp.” …
Disaster zone: Your retina
Director: Robert Lee
Starring: Costas Mandylor, Alexandra Paul, Michael Ironside, Michael Boisvert, Eric Breker
The setup: Evil energy corporation digs seven miles under Manhattan and unleashes hot magma.
I could watch disaster movies forever. I do indeed SO enjoy scenes of mass destruction. I enjoy them so much, in fact, that I’m obviously drawn to watch crap like this, having merely stumbled across the cover in this shitty used video store I frequent. Besides, I’d been eager to watch Volcano (the Tommy Lee Jones one) again. And this one’s in New York, right? And I live in New York, and I could watch my favorite monuments get destroyed. …
Winners don’t think!
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara
The Setup: Guy is marooned on Mars, has to survive and get back.
This came out to a spate of good reviews, and everyone said it was good, and it’s in 3D and has lots of cool visuals, so sure, I’ll see it. …
Shadows creeping… Creeping… CREEPING!
Director: Brad Anderson
Starring: Hayden Christenson, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo, Jacob Latimore
The Setup: Everyone on Earth vanishes but for a few people and we’re supposed to care about figuring out why.
I had been vaguely curious to see this when it was out, and I recall it got fairly decent reviews. Thank God I didn’t! I would have been mightily pissed off. This is by Brad Anderson, who made Session 9, The Machinist and Next Stop, Wonderland. Session 9 also got good reviews that DID succeed in getting me to the theater, only to discover that it was a bunch of spooky moments in search of an overall narrative (or if there was one, it didn’t succeed in making me care enough to figure it out). Well, same thing here. …
I renounce my wish
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal
The Setup: Wonder Woman deals with a man granting everyone’s wishes.
Yes, I did cough up thirty dollars to see this. I liked the first one. I wanted to like this one. I thought the trailers looked great. I liked the casting and the premise, and I was looking forward to what Patty Jenkins would cook up in a second film. I looked forward to getting to know Diana Prince better. I wanted to see how she would have matured and what she would have thought about the changes in history. Then the middling reviews came out… and then the awful reviews came out. …
Well we’re here, why not make a porno?
Director: Edmund Purdom
Starring: Edmund Purdom, Mark Jones, Alan Lake, Belinda Mayne, Gerry Sundquist
The Setup: Killer only kills people wearing Santa suits.
I’ve been finding it nearly impossible to get through serious movies lately — I watch half of them, then they sit on my desk for a month — so I decided to eschew the last half of Fearless for a selection from my increasingly indispensible 50 Drive-In Movie Classics collection, where I discovered this wonderful little gem. …
Aliyah does the ooky pooky dance
Director: Michael Rymer
Starring: Aaliyah, Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moreau, Vincent Perez, Lena Olin
The Setup: Lestat starts a rock band, then wakes Aaliyah.
Poor Aaliyah. Stuart Townsend will move on, but this was her last movie, and she simply deserves better. She’s not that bad, it’s just that it’s a horribly written role in an overstuffed and unfocused movie.
Stuart Townsend, once Mr. Charlize Theron, stars as the vampire Lestat. The IMDb says that they actually first offered the job to Tom Cruise, and one can only imagine his polite-yet-appalled “Uh, no thanks.” Although he would have made sure we ended up with a better movie (although after The Mummy, I guess no one can say for sure). Anyway, so Lestat got bored and wonewey and decided to go to sleep for a hundred years or so. But then he heard that rock and roll music, and it made him wake up so he could groove on the sound. Too bad he didn’t wake up during the 70s when he could enjoy some really interesting soul and R&B as well as rock, but the idea here [the kind of banal idea here] is that the Satanic rock of the 80s is in line with whole vampire thing. Apparently the book was responding to Goth rock, but the movie updated it to late-90s Marylin Manson rock. So before you know it he’s gathered this rock band and they’re blowin’ up. Apparently it’s a huge deal that he comes out publicly about being a vampire, this is a massive breach of decorum, but the whole narrative is so rushed that nothing here has any resonance whatsoever. …
From the Cosmo Princess collection!
Director: David McNally
Starring: Piper Perabo, Adam Garcia, John Goodman, Maria Bello
The Setup: Jersey girl who longs to be a songwriter moves to NYC and becomes a stripper/bartender.
A reader wrote and recommended this to me as being enjoyably awful and, well… what is enjoyably awful for one person is just plain awful for another. Although this could be quite enjoyable in the presence of a bunch of other people to make fun of it with you. This is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer — I think we’re beginning to see the problem already — and directed by this guy David McNally. This was McNally’s first directing gig. His next was Kangaroo Jack. Then straight to television for Mr. McNally, where he has directed four TV episodes since 2003. The writer, Gina Wendkos, also wrote Kevin Smith flop Jersey Girl, as well as The Princess Diaries One and Two, and the reputedly sick and hideous The Perfect Man. …