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Mixed feeling about a pretty good movie
Or maybe I'm just not the wide-eyed teenager I was when saw Star Wars (I refuse to call it "A New Hope") in 1977.
J.J. Abrams has produced a pretty good story here, but much like his Star Trek movie, I don't think he fully grasps the source material. For Instance, when the Death Star Mark III blows up "The Republic", what were they blowing up, exactly? Coruscant from the prequel films? (Other outside material indicates it's another planet) Who is the First Order, and why do they seem to have updated versions of all the Empire's Stuff? It seems like 30 years have passed since "Return of the Jedi", but things seem pretty much the same.
And then there is Luke Skywalker, who doesn't show up until the last 30 second of the film and looks like a homeless person.
Now I'm going to talk about the whole scene where (SPOILERS) Han Solo is killed by his son, Ren. It's very derivative, of when Obi-Wan is killed In Star Wars of Qua-gon is killed in "Phantom Menace". That and apparently there are no safety-rails in the Star Wars universe. So we have someone else dropping thousands of feet after being wounded with a light-saber.
I do like the fact this film had a strong female protagonist, a conflicted anti-hero. I like the fact that when a planet is destroyed, we actually get to see the horrified people on it. (Something that was missing from Star Wars, and emphasized the true horror of the weapon).
I like the fact the battle scenes looked like they involved real actors in real costumes, and not some CGI'd cloned troopers versus robots. It felt more REAL to me, especially when you see the ground littered with casualties, just like you'd have in a real war.
I like the First Order. It seems truly evil in a way the Sith and Empire were not in the earlier films. (They kidnap and brainwash babies to be Stormtroopers). I also like the star ship effects. I like that the desert planet appears to have suffered severe consequences of the War.
IN short, it was a great movie, but it raised more questions than it answered about a universe that is very familiar to its fans.
B movies can be fun
This movie is a mish-mash of B-movie elements. You have time travel, you have cyborgs, you have Denise Crosby Side-Boob.
So the plot is a mad scientist intends to travel back in time and use his advanced technology to remake the Roman Empire in his own image. He uses time traveling cyborg John Doe, who rebels against his programming and finds Denise Crosby to enlist her help. They are joined by a bad Indiana Jones knockoff and a worse Kung Fu knockoff.
But as the sum of its parts, it's kind of a fun movie to watch. Considering they had no budget and few good actors, they kind of did okay with it. Enjoy it for what it is, B-movie 1980's cheese.
The Monster and the Girl (1941)
Film Noir meets monster movie
This is an interesting film where they took a film noir plot and transplanted it (pun intended) into a monster movie.
So a nice guy from a small town goes looking for his sister who has been tricked into a 'white slavery' ring (They never do outright say, "Prostitution" because Hayes Board and stuff) and ends up getting framed for the murder of a gangster by rival gangsters.
The hilarity begins when Mad Scientist George Zucco transplants the nice guy's brain into the body of a gorilla, because that never goes badly in these kinds of movies. The movie then proceeds as the gangster's henchmen are slowly picked off by the Gorilla, which has mysteriously acquired stealth ninja skills in addition to being, you know, a gorilla.
Kudos to the guy in the monkey suit, as he pulls off his scenes with a bit of pathos, like when he encounters his old dog who knows its him. This movie has a lot of really nice touches like that, but it's mostly just fun cheese.
I also think it is interesting as a snapshot of how society was back then, not being able to talk frankly about sex but lots of smoking scenes.
The Naked Jungle (1954)
A film with dated attitudes
This was a movie made in 1953 set in 1901, and the dated attitudes show.
The premise is that Carlton Heston, not famous enough yet to even get top billing, advertises for a mail order bride from New Orleans because he's too racist to have sex with the perfectly attractive women of color. (who are mostly played by white actresses in makeup, but never mind.) When he discovers that his new bride is a widow and he won't be the first, he is repulsed by her knowing more about sex than he does.
Well, this cringe-worthy character dynamic is interrupted by the approach of Army Ants. But since this is 1953, no one has invented CGI yet to make Army Ants all that scary.
This was produced by George Pal, who gave us War of the Worlds and the Time Machine, but he doesn't have much to work with here.
simply put, the movie can't outrun its sexist and racist attitudes any more than it can outrun stock footage of ants. But you can enjoy Heston's scenery chewing goodness that would serve him well in later movies.
Tiresome, clichéd slasher flick
Yes, apparently people in Hollywood think that "flyover country" is entirely inhabited by redneck cannibals. I think they've been milking that meme since "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and it was tired then.
So the plot is a dumber than dirt film crew interviews a guy who knows the identity of a notorious serial killer. And he relates in disjointed narrative about how this guy became a serial killer who kills people and then serves them up at a roadside butcher shop.
The film treats you to about two hours of misogynistic violence and really, nothing to redeem it.
Should have retitled this "Lance Henrickson needs Booze Money", because it's the only explanation for his participation I can understand. I think Rae Dawn Chong was in this, but I couldn't see where. (I think she played one of the interview subjects.)
Demon Hunter (2005)
sometimes B movies are good!
When I saw Billy Drago's name in the credits, I was like, "We're doomed". But this was actually not a bad little film.
it had some snappy dialog, the plot moved along at a good pace, and it had kind of a neat twist ending.
So the Catholic Church (Seriously, again the Catholics? Why doesn't Satan ever mess with the other religions?) employs a half-demon hybrid to hunt down demons and people possessed by them. Meanwhile the lust Demon, Asmodeus, is impregnating prostitutes and trophy wives in order to create his children on Earth.
There's is also a really silly looking succubus.
Again, everything about this movie screams "Cheese", but it's a higher quality cheese than you normally expect. You know, the kind you'd actually serve with a fine wine.
The Frankenstein Theory (2013)
Running out of things to Find Found Footage For
The Curse of the Blair Witch continues, with once again, an implausible concept of Found Footage of a horrifying event.
The plot is that a descendant of an 18th century scientist leads a badly equipped badly planned expedition to Northern Canada to find Frankenstein's monster, who he claims his ancestor created. Faster than you can say "Public Domain", the characters are picked off one by one in fits of bad acting.
The goofiness of these kinds of movies is that they would keep cameras rolling when all this horrific stuff is going on. "Hey, my friends are being killed all around me by an improbable supernatural force! I'd better keep filming. Oh, wait, I'm the only one left? I'd better set my camera up on a tripod so that it can capture my tragic yet entirely predictable demise!"
they do a good job of keeping the Monster out of frame so you can't see how cheap and generally unimpressive it is.
Oh, and for the reviewer who says you had to have read Mary Shelly's original work to truly appreciate it? Not really. I have, that really didn't add anything to it because Frankie just turns out to be another boring Found Footage Monster killing people for the sake of killing them. There's just nothing special about him.
Motel Hell (1980)
Awful Movie doesn't know what it wants to be
I watched this film not knowing if I was watching a comedy or a horror movie. It wasn't funny nor scary, so it seems to have not hit either goal.
The plot is, a guy named Farmer Vincent is killing passer-bys to his hotel in order to kill them for meat. But for some bizarre reason, he needs to bury them in his garden up to their necks for a month.
And apparently, no one notices anything is amiss. Not even the town sheriff who is his younger brother.
The movie piled improbable actions on top of improbable actions, with scenes that are supposed to be funny, I guess, but the comedy falls flat.
the thing is, the actors in this aren't bad. They just have to repeat garbage that makes no sense.
This film brought to you by the Philippine Tourist Bureau
I can't tell you just how awful this film was, words can barely describe the shear incompetence of the filmmakers here.
The long and short of it is that a man escapes from the jungles in the Philippines, goes on a rampage on an airplane, and during his rather graphic autopsy, they find something troubling.
A cute doctor travels to where he came from, only to find herself going over a waterfall after long and pointless canoing scenes. I should point out we are going to see a lot of that here, where about 30 minutes of plot points are stretched out over 90 minutes of film.
She meets a mad scientist who is trying to cure violent behavior with drugs, because it was the 1970's and people thought drugs could cure everything, and his buddy the rich hunter who hunts down all his failed experiments. Except the lead actress's affect is so flat you can't really tell what her reaction is to any of this. She objects, I guess.
The movie ends in some odd scene where the scientist is tricked into drinking his own formula and regresses into a cave man and goes on a pointless rampage because they had another 30 minutes to fill.
Ugh. Avoid at all costs.
Ridley Scott Called, he wants his plot back.
Although to be be fair, Ridley stole his idea from other people.
But anyway. so the plot is that an ancient find is discovered on Titan, and even though two ships have been wiped out looking for it, they decide to send a third one with reckless disregard for things like "safety".
This is where they pretty much rip off other people's better ideas, mostly Aliens and John Carpenter's The Thing. And even though the characters are pretty much warned that this alien can take over other people's bodies by a highly under-utilized Klaus Kinski working for booze money, the proceed to fall into a couple of alien traps.
The acting and special effects don't make this worth watching at all. I'm sorry I did.