Movie Night: The Big Lebowski
Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t take a week off. Last week’s post was eaten by Tumblr Beasts, but it was “Weekend At Bernie’s”. I’ll quote from Twitter for the day:
"Damn bloody auto-refresh. Movie Night: Weekend At Bernie’s. Mildly funny, very ’80s, too much cocaine. 3.5/5. i.imgur.com/KNaIjix.jpg"
"Spent too much effort writing the review in the first place to do it again. Deal with it."
Anyway, tonight’s pick. Roll on, two.
The Big Lebowski
isn’t as shallow as it pretends to be. Underneath a story of a guy who really just wants to bowl with his friends, there’s a near-classic mystery adventure happening. Under that, however, is a guy that just wants to bowl with his friends. There was a little too much intrusion by the second story that I couldn’t enjoy the first, and not enough that I couldn’t ignore the first either. It’s left a a weird sort of black hole, like when a popular show focuses on its side characters for an episode, while you catch glimpses of the main characters’ regular shenanigans. It could just be a trick of the mind, but if you told me that Jeff Bridges was born looking 60 years old, I would instantly believe you, and deny all proof to the alternative. Speaking of mind tricks, the dream sequences were rather well done, even if “Kill da wabbit” was playing in my head for most of it. Overall, as a cult hit, it’s something to experience. Make it a rental, leave the purchase alone. 3.5/5.
Movie Night: The Bucket List
I’ll make it short: Movie Night for this week was going to be The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. I saw “was”, because the disc I received from the rental place was damaged to the point of unviewability. As far as I’m aware, two men develop cancer, meet up in hospital, and die in a skydiving accident. Great movie, 12/Orange.
Movie Night: Pleasantville
Movie Night: postponed on account of pain. Ever had pain that made you sick? Yeah, that. I’m not going to go into it though, it’s movie time. This week’s pick is another relatively recent release, being released in 1998. Onwards to reviews!
On the surface, Pleasantville is a typical rom-com with a somewhat interesting twist on the genre. Maybe it’s because I’ve just finished reading Stephen King’s 11.22.63, but the concept felt familiar. Some great editing and camerawork really adds to the feel of a black-and-white world coming to life, even if you think you know how it’s done. It still works. Really, the only sour points I had were the town feeling, as a whole, more forced than would be expected; and Tobey Maguire. It’s not that he’s a bad actor, it’s just he’s not a good actor. I’d give him a resounding “meh”. Also, he looked stoned most of the time, and is that really the image we want for 1950’s America? I think not; save it for Woodstock, hippie! Overall, the film felt real and was enjoyable, despite initial misgivings. So don’t be a square, watch this peachy-keen film today! 4.5/5.
Movie Night: The Hangover
So, this is the official first Movie Night of 2013. How about those fireworks, eh? Seriously, who needs that many fireworks? My local explosio-ganza lasted for roughly 10 minutes. That’s ridiculous, even for fireworks. Regardless, I hope everyone’s year will, at the very least, not get any worse. Tonight’s combatant is relatively recent when compared to other Movie Night fare, being released in 2009, The Hangover. This has gotten a lot of attention from my brother’s and my social circles (such as they are), so there’s got to be something to it, like Adventure Time, for example. On the other hand, Gangnam Style, ugh.
This definitely falls hard on the latter end of the scale. The only redeeming moments are Mike Tyson punching a guy, and Wolfmother on the soundtrack. And that’s just sad, when you think about it. The characters are extremely unlikeable, and in no way deserve the ending they got. I was waiting for it all to blow up in their faces, but I was left completely unsatisfied with a cheesy happy ending. Everything works out, and everyone is better off for the experience, big whoop. This is supposed to be a comedy? The soundtrack was atrocious, barring exactly two entries. If you can work out why only two, you should be able to guess the other. Unfortunately, this movie panders itself to what has become the majority in society, and if this is what life has to offer, I’d gladly pass. 0.5/5, only because Zack Beardie got knocked the hell out.
Movie Night: Caddyshack
Hopefully everyone had an enjoyable holiday season, all safe and sound. Some of us were working, and we don’t like you very much because of it. Obviously, I’m joking, but I’m not sure how much. Anyway, Movie Night. Tonight’s contestant: Caddyshack is listed as “one of the funniest sports movies of all time”. Sight unseen, there’s no way to verify this claim, but pop culture certainly likes it, given the references to it in other works. Let’s get into it.
Right off the bat, I’m already interested. Caddyshack advertises Bill Murray as one of it’s top stars, and is directed by Harold Ramis. With the main names behind Groundhog Day, one of my favourite movies ever, attached, it’s ticking boxes even before leaving the shelf. The story is fairly generic, as has come to be expected of movies of the era, but it’s not understated enough to leave the rest feeling disjointed. The comedy is slightly subdued compared to previous Movie Night entrants in a similar vein, which really counts in its favour. It knows when to have a silly moment, and when to unleash the rapid-fire deadpan. The only downside to me was Rodney Dangerfield’s character. After about 10 minutes, I felt like I knew his stand-up routine so well I could have performed it. It baffles me that he was popular for nearly forty years when I was sick of the shtick by the movie’s end. But hey, different strokes and all that. Caddyshack is an apparent cult hit, and now I know why. 4/5.
Movie Night: Street Fighter - The Legend Of Chun-Li
So, how was your apocalypse? Mine was fairly non-existent, barring the exception of additional work, but that hardly counts. Unsurprisingly, the world turns on, so we grudgingly open our fallout shelters to present this week’s Movie Night pick: Street Fighter - The Legend Of Chun-Li. There’s a stigma involving video game adaptations, whether it be movie, book, tv show, or other. They just never turn out right. Or good. Or not-rubbish. Perhaps this will buck the trend?
No. It doesn’t. 1/5.
Okay, seriously now. The barebones plot could have been in any ’80s underdog movie, just replace “Bangkok slums” with “rec centre” or “juice bar” and it still works. The little story that’s there serves two purposes: (1) provide references to fans of the game, and (2) set up the fight scenes. Speaking of the fights, it was pretty badly done overall. The fights were too over-the-top to be taken seriously, but not ridiculous enough to have fun with it. Shift enough in either direction, and the movie would work better. As it stands, it resides in an uninteresting middle-ground sludge. Maybe fans of the series would enjoy it, but I doubt it. 1/5.
Movie Night: 30 Days Of Night
Movie Night: as delayed by potentially the worst season for retail workers - Christmas. I’m all for holidays, but actually getting some would be nice. You know, instead of that whole “work extra” thing. Anyone questioning why retail gets annoying this time of year has never worked Christmas retail. Enough ranting though, time for reviews. Tonight is the second entrant from the massive crowdsourced list I collected from work. Apparently, since I play games, this movie is perfect for me. We’ll see about that!
I was bothered the whole way through the movie as to the identity of “The Stranger”. Turns out it was Ben Foster, who also played a relatively minor character in “Six Feet Under”, one of my favourite shows. After silencing my curious brain, I was able to reflect a bit. 30 Days is apparently based on a comic, which does show through. You could practically tell where each chapter was supposed to be. Saying that, however, it adds to the overall feel: a retro-style slasher film. They even play with some of the classic tropes which, being sourced from a comic, makes a lot of sense. The narrative is a little flat. A good point for a slasher, but I felt it was trying to be more. Perhaps there’s a deleted scene out there that shows the real ending, rather than the one presented which just felt like the movie was missing its final act. Granted, I’ve never been in such a situation, but do people’s brains just shut down in any scenario resembling an “apocalypse”? The characters may be sleep-deprived and malnourished, but that couldn’t possibly explain some of their actions. Maybe the air gets weird in Alaska. Overall, this is an Icarus film: reaching for the sun with melting wings. 3/5.
Movie Night: The Naked Gun
See? I told you we were back on track, but you didn’t believe me. WHY DIDN’T YOU BELIEVE ME!? Temporary insanity aside, Movie Night presents a comic classic in The Naked Gun. Voted as one of the “Best 1000 Movies Ever Made”, it practically guarantees a laugh. Well, we’ll just see about that…
The Naked Gun presents itself somewhat as a parody of genre; specifically, the cop-centric action movie. It feels like the American version of British comedies: a few good lines, but a pale comparison. Had John Cleese, for example, been cast in the lead role instead of Leslie Nielsen, I think a better movie may have resulted. Nothing against Nielsen, of course, but the movie as a whole felt drab, washed out. The set ups for the incidental gags were too telegraphed, in a way that could’ve only been more obvious had the subtitles flashed “THIS IS A JOKE” and “THAT WAS A JOKE” before and after respectively. The premise could work, and be reasonably successful in a serious movie. Perhaps one shown at noon between soap operas or during discount flights, but still. Overall, I felt that hype let the movie down, but it’s unfortunate I laughed as much during the credit roll than throughout the main feature. 2/5.
Movie Night: The Karate Kid
In a triumphant return to silent applause, I present: Movie Night! For the curious, Movie Night was postponed due to Desert Bus, a charity gaming marathon organized by Canadian sketch comedy troupe LoadingReadyRun. Six days straight of fun and torture, for which I gladly took time off from work to watch, and donate. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. Anyway, that’s enough advertising, continue preamble! Tonight’s Movie Night was part of a collected list of “All-Time Favourites” I collected from work. It’s a sizable list, so I should be able to avoid being lost for choice for a while. Unless I want to, of course… ONWARDS!
The Karate Kid is the stereotypical “montage” movie, and yet there was barely a montage to be seen. Okay, there was a bit of one for the tournament, but still. It’s one of those movies that’s had such an impact on the cultural collective that I feel I’ve seen this movie in its entirety before, even though I’ve only seen it now for the first time. Lots of references, I guess? The soundtrack is typical ’80s fare, which actually adds to the feel of the film. I shudder to think what they’d do with a remake, but they wouldn’t do that, right? …Right? Anyway, it could be the ruinous nature of the Internet, but both my brother and I found Mr. Miyagi’s broken English to be a non-stop source of riffing hilarity. Usually, we’re a little more respectful when it comes to movies: a little joke now and then, but we mostly just watch. It’s a good sign then, that The Karate Kid still withstood the “comedy” (we hold no delusions of grandeur) to be a solid film that still stands up to competition. And face-kicks them. 4/5.
Movie Night: Mars Attacks!
It’s said that even the best laid battle plans only last until the first shot is fired. For the first time since we started, we have a freeform bye week. My brother, the “man with the plan”, went in this week without a plan, and it shows. All previous picks had at least been following some internal logic. But Mars Attacks! was picked because, and I quote: “it looked weird”. I guess by that token, I can be thankful we didn’t end up with some freaky parody porn or something. Anyway, onwards to adventure!
For a Tim Burton film, I was left rather unimpressed, and a little disappointed in the lack of Johnny Depp. The film feels as though it’s either trying too hard to be “campy”, or not hard enough to be a serious contender. Several characters were brought in with enough focus that you could believe they would matter, but no. Disintegrated. The visuals could’ve really benefited in the same way as the overall tone: go for “retro” B-movie schlock, or put some more effort in. The aliens looked like they stepped out of an optimistic CDROM adventure game. It honestly feels like the movie ran out of money half of the way through, because suddenly there was a mad dash to get to the ending. The characters that matter don’t feel like it, and the ones that feel like it don’t matter. Save yourself some trouble, and just read a wiki summary. It’s more likely to be entertaining. 1/5.