Monday, December 26, 2011

My 2011 Movie Odyssey - Part VIII

Thunderball (1965)
It’s James Bond, doing James Bond things. Really, most of the James Bond films, while entertaining, start to all look the same after a while. The only thing really separating this one from the others is the climactic underwater battle at the end. But while it is well-choreographed and very ambitious, everyone moves at half speed since they are underwater, and much of the energy is lost.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Everyone in this movie is a mean slimeball looking to advance themselves in society so they can be even bigger mean slimeballs.

Wait Until Dark (1967)
Audrey Hepburn is amazing as a blind woman who unknowingly gets caught up with a group of drug dealers. There is plenty of thrills and suspense throughout the movie, and the way Hepburn’s character finally deals with her antagonists is wonderful.

The Big Heat (1953)
This is one of the first “obsessed cop does whatever it takes to bring down the bad guys” films and also one of the best. Glenn Ford stars as Dave Bannion, a cop on a mission to take down a local drug lord. Along the way he encounters damaged dames, truly evil thugs (especially the one played by Lee Marvin) and corruption that goes all the way up to the police commissioner. I especially liked the scenes of Bannion interacting with his wife; they are so warm and amusing they paint a wonderful portrait of marital bliss in the midst of an otherwise very dark movie.

Troll 2 (1990)
Every once in a while a movie comes along that is famous for being so bad. This movie is so inept that someone made a whole documentary about how bad it is. First of all, there is not a single troll to be seen in this movie. Instead we get a town full of goblins. The goblins look like cheap Halloween costumes and apparently their favorite food is half human half plant. The acting is bad across the board, especially Deborah Reed as the goblin queen, who chews so much scenery that it’s a wonder there was a set left by the end of the movie. All the characters are idiots, none of them even approaching likability. And then there is the script, full of clunky dialog and loads of “as you know, Bob” exposition. But the absolute best part of the movie comes during a car trip. Mom tries to cheer up her son by getting him to sing. “Sing that song I like so much.” Taking a page from Manos: The Hands of Fate, I mockingly started singing “Row, row, row your boat.” And then the kid started singing. “Row, row, row your boat...”

Time Runner (1993)
Mark Hamill tries his best to break away from Luke Skywalker, but unfortunately he’s just not a good enough actor to pull it off. The story is pretty mediocre and the time travel elements don’t really work since the screenwriters never really bothered to set rules and follow them.

Cars 2 (2011)
Is it the weakest Pixar movie to date? Yes. Does that mean it’s a bad movie? Absolutely not! While the story is pretty pedestrian, there is plenty of imaginative eye candy on the screen. In many ways it reminds me of the opening sequence of Toy Story 3 - we get to see inside John Lasseter’s mind as he played with his toy cars as a child.

Super 8 (2011)
This movie does an excellent job of capturing the feel of a late 70s/early 80s Steven Spielberg movie. It is also just as entertaining.

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
I like how this isn’t an origin story trying to tell the story of how Abraham Lincoln became Abraham Lincoln. Instead, it’s merely a chapter in the life of someone who eventually goes on to become a great American. The bulk of the movie centers on a court case where Lincoln is defending a couple young men who are accused of murder. Henry Fonda is a joy to watch as Lincoln, and he commands the screen wonderfully, both in dramatic courtroom scenes as well as quiet moments with the family of the young men accused of murder.

High Sierra (1941)
I liked Humphrey Bogart’s character of a gangster who just can’t seem to make it in the outside world. But I couldn’t stand the stupid dog that Bogart adopts, who gets way too much screen time and always brings trouble to the people around him.


James said...

I think you're dead on about the Bond movies all being alike. You just get diminishing returns for the same experience the longer the series runs (new ones excluded because I haven't seen them).

Herch said...

It also doesn't help that, with the rare exception of titles like The Man With the Golden Gun or Goldfinger, most of the titles are very nondescript, and say almost nothing about the particular movie they are attached to. For instance, the titles Live and Let Die, Licence to Kill, and Tomorrow Never Dies could be slapped on any of the Bond movies and we wouldn't notice a difference.

vespreardens said...

I had the distinct... er... "pleasure" of seeing Troll 2 a couple years back on Halloween. I don't think I'll ever figure out the popcorn scene. I mean, where the crap did it all come from? Do I even want to know? Probably not.