Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Matt’s Week in Dork! (7/24-7/30)

     A strange, disjointed Week in Dork for this guy.  Got a lot of movie watching done, but not a lot else.  To say the least, I was a bit off.  Anyway, here we go...

Resident Evil: Afterlife:  Once again, Milla Jovovich faces off against hoards of monsters and the evil Umbrella Corporation in this action paced, often silly movie.  I love this franchise.  It’s just so danged goofy, with everything, including the kitchen sink, thrown in.  The giant with the axe?  What’s the deal?  I don’t know, but it’s awesome.  The zombies and such are pretty good, the completely gratuitous amounts of slow-mo fights are fun, and the music is actually pretty good.  I have a few complaints, such as the underused army of Alice.  But overall, another fun timewaster. 

The Dark Crystal:  A fantastic, original fantasy film from the mind of Jim Henson.  The late 70s and early 80s were such a great time for fantasy and science fiction in film.  So much creativity and experimentation.  The Dark Crystal is a rich feast visually, and a great adventure story.  The creature design and effects are amazing.  Not a single human appears in this whole film.  Truly a beautiful movie of a type all its own. 

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights:  I liked this a lot.  For me, the Green Lantern is best when handled as a ‘cosmic’ character, not a guy who puts on a mask and solves Earthbound crime.  And with this, they really crank up the crazy, and explore the Corps.  They stay in space and deal with some pretty grand ideas.  And we get to see a little background on a few of the other lanterns.  This is what I’d like to see from DC’s animated films.  We’ve had enough of Batman and Superman for a while.  Let’s look around at the rest of the DC universe. 

Humanoids From the Deep:  Cormantastic!  Everything you want and expect from Roger Corman.  Directed by Barbara Peeters, this delightful bit of trash is full of beautiful young women taking their clothes off and fish men taking people’s heads off.  It quickly builds to a crazy, violent finish.  Why do creatures from the deep always attack during a small town’s special festival?  Great stuff. 

The Terror:  Some wacky, Gothic horror from cheapo maestro Roger Corman, this features a young, not so talented Jack Nicholson and the cool tough-guy Dick Miller, facing off against the mad old Boris Karloff.  There are some pretty cool moments, and the end is completely insane.  Worth checking out if you enjoy this sort of thing.

2001:  Getting beyond the admittedly amazing soundtrack of great classical music, and the amazing visuals, 2001 stands as a hopeful message of human advancement.  Showing the rise from apes to space and beyond (with a little help from our friends), it almost feels like three short films.  First, the dawn of Man.  Then humanity reaching for the stars.  And finally, transcendence.  When I first saw the film, I really didn’t get the last bit, where Dave goes through the stargate.  But, after reading the book, and seeing it a few more times, I really like its execution.  It’s crazy, but beautiful. 

The Spy Who Came In From the Cold:  John Le Carre’s novel of the same name gets a solid adaptation, with Richard Burton in the title role.  Burton plays a sad, kind of pathetic man, not at all the smooth and debonair spy one usually expects in this sort of thing.  The paranoia and hypocrisy of the Cold War permeate the whole picture, with spies and their masters doing what’s expedient, not what is ideologically correct.  It’s not really an amazing film, but if you’re in the mood for some early Cold War espionage, it’s well worth checking out.

Doctor Who: Seeds of Doom:  A cool story with one of my favorite locations for mystery, Antarctica.  Killer plants from outer space!  The cast is good, and there are some pretty cool sequences.  I especially love when the plant business really gets out of hand.  For the most part, it’s pretty standard alien invasion stuff from the good Doctor. 

Robinson Crusoe on Mars:  In spite of the kind of silly title, this is really a classic science fiction adventure film in the grandest tradition.  The first hour is excellent, with lone astronaut Chris learning how to live on a hostile world.  The third act kind of loses me, where the story sort of opens up to include another character and some aliens.  But then, most of these sort of films eventually throw in something, be it pirates in Swiss Family Robinson or what have you. 

Captain America: The First Avenger:  The first two thirds of this film are fantastic.  Unfortunately, in the last third it becomes painfully clear that the movie is being used as a glorified flashback/pre-credit intro for next Summer’s Avengers movie.  It’s really too bad.  Unlike Thor and the Iron Man movies, this doesn’t feel like it stands on its own, and doesn’t have a satisfying conclusion, because it’s setting up for the next movie.  Don’t get me wrong, all the pieces are in play.  The actors are great, the story very cool, the visuals excellent, and the pulp sensibilities I hungered for are all here.  But the end is weak.  I’d have much rather see two or three movies with the good Captain battling Nazis (where are the Nazis, by the way?), than simply gloss over much of his WWII career so we can get him up to speed with Nick Fury and the crew.  There is so much potential here, and for much of the film, it absolutely embraces and lives up to it.  It just gets wishy-washy at the end. 

Black Dynamite:  Solid!  This comic homage to the Blaxploitation genre is smart, funny, and just darned cool.  Michael Jai White busts some jive turkeys and does some crazy kung fu as he follows corruption all the way to the top (ALL the way).  It’s chock full of tons of references for fans of the genre.  And the nice thing is that while it’s certainly a comedy, it’s respectful in its own way of the movies that inspired it.  If you’re a fan, this is a must.   

The High Commissioner:  Rod Taylor is one Aussie cop you don’t mess with in this fisticuffs filled political thriller.  When he comes to find Christopher Plummer, who is wanted back home for the murder of his first wife, he stumbles into an unexpected situation.  Murder, plots within plots, spies, and glass after glass of Fosters is all it takes to get Taylor’s fists flying.  In spite of having seen Taylor in several films, this is the first time I think I’ve heard him really let loose with the accent, too, which was fun.  Check this one out.  It’s unexpectedly fun. 

Doctor X:  Fay Wray is the rather cute damsel in distress in this silly, but extremely fun squeaky door-bump in the night murder mystery of Science!  If there had never been another movie like it, this could probably have single-handedly inspired Scooby-Doo.  The supposed hero is a bumbling prankster of a reporter.  The rogues gallery of potential villains are all wonderful caricatures (the entire science department is staffed by freaks!).   Very campy fun. 

The Return of Doctor X:   Thank goodness every possible clue was featured as the headline of a newspaper at one time or another.  While Humphrey Bogart is fun to watch as a shifty-eyed doctor, this sequel is mostly forgettable.  The rest of the cast seems totally disposable and twenty minutes after watching it, I’m already forgetting much of what happened.  A Bogart fan should see it for him, absolutely.  Otherwise, there’s little to see.  Move along.  Move along. 

    I spent much of this week living in the den of my fellow Dork, while he and his wife were on the other side of the country, having an amazing week in Dork.  But, it allowed me to do to pretty fun things, including watching a ton of blu-rays.  I’m quite sure Brad will have some cool stuff for us in the next few days.  I’ve seen pictures, and it looks like a great time. 

    While busing back and forth to work, I got to read Christa Faust’s new book, Coyote’s Kiss, a tie-in to the Supernatural TV series.  I’ve only seen the first season of that show, which I did enjoy.  But, though there are a couple odd things tied into later seasons, you can read it without seeing the show.  I love Faust’s quick style.  She is very much a modern pulp writer, moving the story along with speed, while still telling a good story.  I like the taste of Mesoamerican (if I'm using the term right)  mythology, and all the fun little movie and music references.  Dean’s favorite movie?  I’m not telling, but it’s awesome. 

    I didn’t get around to finishing volume 8 of Conan, because I didn’t take it with me.  And I picked up the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 1969, but didn’t get a chance to start it.  Hopefully in the next week. 

    And, on the last night of the week, I got to see Casablanca at Wolf Trap.  Now, this was my first time at Wolf Trap, and man, is that place weird.  First off, wow, there were a ton of people.  And it was a bit unexpected to see so many people on a hot night, sitting on the lawn, dressed like they were going to a dinner party.  Then there’s the structure itself, which looks like something out of Star Trek, made of wood, with walkways all over the place.  The screen, which was claimed to be ‘giant,’ but was actually quite small, was then suspended above the National Symphony Orchestra.  It was pretty cool to hear all the music played live, while the movie played.  This did sometimes obscure the dialog, especially because I think the audio was a touch rough because of having the music track removed.  But I’ve seen the movie enough times to not have any trouble.  What an amazing movie. 


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