A couple of days late, so what.
I’ve been on vacation.
I finished “American Horror Story: Asylum,” which was an improvement on the first season. Also, been working on “Walking Dead,” but after a while I got jaded on it. Gotta jump back into that soon.
- “Blade Runner” 7.25/10 [Eh. I had the same issue with “Scarface”: broody neon lights, steam, and grunge don’t instantly make a classic. And just because you display a little Phillip K. Dick sci-fi philosophy doesn’t mean your movie is automatically profound. Really, people expected more out of Ridley Scott for “Prometheus” because of this movie? “Prometheus” had more in it than this movie, for sure. It was also more damn fun.]
- “Take Shelter” 7.5/10 [Yeah, I can dig. Michael Shannon did a terrific job. Jessica Chastain? Perfection de ultimita, as per usual. The film really holds on the unfantastical in order to build its story. As long as you’re seeking a well-performed family drama with potential mental illness as a main subject, this will do just fine.]
- “Bridget Jones’s Diary” 7/10 [Eh. It’s pretty much what I expected it to be, this being the first official time I’ve ever seen this movie. Zellweger is lovable, Grant is a tool, and Firth is a nice guy. For happy ending’s sake, she ends up with the nice guy. …and? Well, along the way she builds up her character from nothing. And it’s occasionally funny or frank, relationship-wise.]
- “The Queen” 7.75/10 [Helen Mirren did fantastic, sure. But this film got a lot of unnecessary Oscar buzz resulting from that, including a Best Picture nom (personally, I’d have given the Oscar to Kate Winslet that year for “Little Children,” but I’m partial to that gem). Ultimately, Michael Sheen is the standout as Tony Blair, but Helen must upstage him so her authority clearly stands high. She generally succeeds, and it’s a wonderfully British sight.]
- **”Gambit (2012)” 5.75/10 [As much as I love Alan Rickman, and as much as I like Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth, and as much as I like the Coen Brothers (wrote the screenplay here), this is mediocre work. Maybe a little more focus on definitive, original characters could’ve saved the day. But it was still cheeky fun.]
- “The Expendables 2” 7.25/10 [If I didn’t like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger so much, then this might’ve ditched a good .5 point. Still, there is some cool action scenes here. BTW Chuck Norris here is a disappointment, even compared to his same-gen counterparts. This film was more fun than the first, so it’s an improvement, though the story is still a little messy.]
- “Dredd” 7.75/10 [If it weren’t for that last damn voiceover monologue, this would’ve probably gotten an 8. Just a little too dumbed-down for my tastes. I got the concept the first time around. Anyways, this is a lot more fun, interesting, and exciting than you’d expect. Just see it to believe it. I want more “DREDD!”]
- “Land of the Lost (2009)” 7.5/10 [Loved it. Critically, a 7.5, but I really enjoyed it. It’s a perfect stoner movie for one, and it’s like a hidden Will Ferrell/Danny McBride gem, and sure it’s silly, but it’s charming, clever, and updated.]
- “Zero Dark Thirty” 8/10 [Yes, I watched it, get off my back, geez. Only reason I bothered to watch this one was because of Jessica Chastain. Because I can watch her for 157 minutes. But an Osama Bin Laden movie? Let’s just say I paused this movie sporadically and 157 mins turned into 350 mins. It was interesting, especially if you don’t know the entire story from the media. Chastain could’ve won the Oscar, but she’ll earn hers soon at this rate. Overall, this film is definitely solid.]
- “The Passion of the Christ” 7.75/10 (Re-Review) [I haven’t seen this movie since it was in theaters, back in 2004. 8 years later, does it hold up? Surprisingly, yes. More so surprisingly because I’m not even Christian. If you don’t think about it in religious terms, but just listen and focus on the human story, then it’s a beautifully told, emotional tribute to humanity’s greatest potential.]
- “Catwoman” 4.75/10 (Re-Review) [This isn’t a total turkey. By that, I mean it’s no “Garbage Pail Kids Movie,” or “Star Wars Holiday Special,” or “Fantastic Four (1994).” It’s got enough in the screenplay and in the characterization (and Berry’s performance), as well as its own mythology, and just enough action beats. The problem is that the bare-minimum is never enough when releasing yourself as a summer superhero tentpole. I’m surprised this didn’t affect the box office release of “Batman Begins” just a year later, in fact. The direction may be off. Sharon Stone and a cosmetics cover-up plot (as well as an accompanying amnesia subplot) may have been completely wrong/insulting to feminists everywhere. But it is also a nice stoner piece. This film is a genuine anomaly, one “Elektra (2005)” doesn’t even compare to, and contemplating these questions alone makes it worth it at least just once.]
- “Batman & Robin” 4/10 [Yeah, it’s pretty awful. I love watching Uma Thurman get hot ‘n steamy. I love watching Schwarzenegger say shitty one-liners maniacally. Clooney may have been a decent Bruce Wayne, but he was no Batman. Alicia Silverstone looks good in the Batgirl suit, but she’s a horrible actress and could never seem as smart as Barbara Gordon, just like Denise Richards could never convince me she were a nuclear physicist (“The World is Not Enough”). Robin is a self-absorbed, whiny tool, all semblance of respect and “coolness” he had in “Batman Forever” has fled with those nipples on his suit. The plot is “meh,” even Alfred’s potential death doesn’t shake any sense into this movie. At least a half hour of fuckin’ around is put on display here, with silly bells and whistles that don’t make a sound. This movie could’ve been a swift, kid-focused 90 minute runtime. Oh well.]
- “Frankenstein Conquers The World” 7/10 [My buddy Barron started recommending monster movies to me for research for my new horror screenplay. This was his first choice. Frankenstein is played to perfection, while twisting his mythology upside down to enter him into the kaiju genre. A fun throwback.]
- “Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke” 7.25/10 [I gotta admit, I hadn’t laughed this hard while toking since “Super Troopers,” or “Office Space.” They’re absolutely right about this film. However, is it a classic? Nah. Tommy Chong is one of my idols, and Cheech is like a ’70s Aziz Ansari. It’s a fun buddy comedy, kind of loses its narrative focus, then gets right back on track for a great finale.]
- “Syriana” 7/10 [Why did Clooney win for this one? Because he got fat? Either way, the “Traffic” approach to the oil industry is still a movie about the oil industry. Its realism is an attempt to convince people, yet we assumed this all happened. This is why we didn’t like Bush. Duh. They wring what intrigue, suspense, and tension they can, and they have a emotional story (a kid dies), almost as if it were written to be a persuasive essay.]
- “The Star Wars Holiday Special” 2/10 [OH YES I DID. The infamous “Star Wars” TV special, 1978, came across my desk last week, and I had to watch it with Barron, so I waited as long as I could before playing it. Keep in mind, this special never aired twice, and was never officially released from Lucasfilm on either VHS, DVD, or Blu-Ray. It is a rarity to find. So when I finally watched it…well…it was pretty much as awful as they say it is. It’s a genuine nostalgic joy to see Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher, all in ‘78, play their roles once more. Yet despite how pleasing a proposition that sounds, it is not enough to even balance itself against the visual and auditory assault that takes place in that 1.5 hrs. The plot is a point A to point B structure, of everyone trying to come together for Wookie Life Day, with only the Imperials standing in their way. And also the distraction of some terribly disjointed variety acts from ’70s celebrities. The worst part are the Wookies: Lumpy, Itchy, and Malla, who are like annoying WALL-Es here, not saying a single word, but making high-pitched Wookie noises for sometimes ten minutes straight, doing nothing more than nonsensical, mundane Wookie chores around the house that in no way drive the plot forward. The sole highlights are the first images of Kashyyk, the first appearance of Boba Fett (as well as his first confrontation with the gang), a Bea Arthur cantina gag, and just seeing everyone together again. A few pleasant geek surprises in a Bantha Poodoo haystack.]
- “The Wolf Man (1941)” 7/10 [Sometimes it is hard to separate your perception of what a movie will be, and then what it ends up being. Like, it took me a while to get used to what the first “Ghost Rider” movie is, instead of what I wanted it to be. But then I had to get used to the fact that it was a steamy pile of shit. “The Wolf Man” had some misperceptions I had placed on it over time, thinking it more Gothic, or even more dipped in folklore and legend. In fact, it was quite modern at the time. Also, it’s forgivable because of its runtime that the creature only shows up twice after taking Talbot under its curse.]
- “The A-Team (2010)” 7.5/10 (Re-Review) [There has to be a whole series of films that weren’t overtly exceptional, so they were ignored amidst competing films that were exceptional. “Land of the Lost (2009),” for example, is entertaining in its own right, but failed to produce a franchise, much less its own box office glory. “The A-Team” came out in a summer alongside “Toy Story 3,” “Iron Man 2” and “Inception.” The A-Team was competing to start its own franchise too (clearly, with its big-name cast and its big-ass budget), but got snuffed out. “The Karate Kid” took the money instead in a famous ’80s remake box office face-off, but still hasn’t produced a sequel itself. I think “The A-Team” was the more promising of the two. First off, the cast was perfectly handpicked (though I debate about Liam Neeson for Hannibal, most others wouldn’t). Second, it was riotous fun, even if it gets a little less plausible than preferred. Third, they put more thought into the screenplay than you’d expect. Give this one a second chance.]
- “Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1998)” 4/10 [It’s hard to take seriously. But at least it wasn’t as drawn-out, noisy, or in-your-face as some other recently rated turkeys. And David Hasselhoff wasn’t a bad consideration (at the time) for Fury. It was a straight forward, comic-booky time, featuring some pre-Marvel Studios mythology, like LMDs or the Helicarrier, all on a nice, low budget.]