Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up (8/7) Yeah it's late...

Thanks again to Nate and everyone who participated in the monster movies blogathon! I greatly appreciated all the wonderful comments. Sorry for the long time for an update. I was going to post Tales from the Archive Part 2 on Saturday, but then I realized that I have too much content for one article! This is a good thing, so I'm still doing further research and figuring out how to break it up and present it. So without further ado, here is the belated weekly wrap-up.

The 60s Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward was quite enjoyable. Sure it was silly, but it was trying to appeal to all age groups and is responsible for bringing Batman to a larger audience. This movie was made between the first and second season, with Julie Newmar noticeably absent as Catwoman. However, Lee Meriwether did a good job filling in, and Cesar Romero (Joker), Frank Gorshin (Riddler), and Burgess Meredith (Penguin) are fun as usual. If you like the TV show you will like the movie as it is basically a long episode. I actually liked this more than Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever and Batman & Robin because it goes all out for humor while those two (especially Forever) tried to keep themselves in the Burton Batman universe. Sadly this is the only part of 60s Batman to be released on DVD. The TV show has yet to have a DVD release for unknown reasons, despite the demand by fans.

Winnie the Pooh (2011)
I saw this in theaters with my family and we all enjoyed it. It's not quite as good as the original Disney Winnie the Pooh films/shorts as its a little louder and busier at times, but its pretty close. The movie is short (just over an hour) and while I wanted more, I applaud the decision not to make it longer just to pad its running time. Instead the intent was to put out the best possible cut of the film. I noticed two pop culture references (Batman and Raiders of the Lost Ark respectively) which seemed a little out of place in a Pooh film. However, they weren't distracting if you weren't in the know, which is how reference joke should always be handled. The end credits were great and I loved the after credits scene. The short before the film, The Ballad of Nessie, was very good and the animation was straight out of 60s Disney (think Sword in the Stone). Winnie the Pooh goes back to the original A.A. Milne source material, so maybe we will see another movie in this style as there are still plenty of stories they can adapt. This movie is proof that Disney can still make a great traditionally animated film if they want to.

Bad movies can be a lot of fun, as long as you avoid the ones that are bad because they are boring. While The Dungeonmaster is pretty damn bad, it is never gets too boring. The main reason for this is because the story is about a guy sucked into a video game (by Satan himself!) and he has to fight through a lot of different game levels. For some reason each level has a different director, but this is still not an anthology film. When a non-anthology movie has seven directors, you know its going to be bad! Besides my love of crappy 80s sci-fi/fantasy/horror flicks, the main reason I wanted to see this is because it contains the origin of the line "I reject your reality and substitute my own" which was popularized by Adam Savage of the TV show Mythbusters. In its original context it is used by the main character as a comeback, but its use in Mythbusters is much better! Richard Moll (Bull on the 80s sitcom Night Court) hams it up as the Devil, while we are also treated to a cameo by 80s metal band, WASP! For some reason this movie is also called Ragewar which makes about sense as its plot.

Death at a Funeral (2007)
Comedy is the most subjective form of creative expression. However, it is clear that Death at a Funeral is well written with fine acting performances and interesting characters. I have to rank this movie right up there with The Hangover as two of the best comedies from the last ten years. Not many movies revolve around a funeral, and of the ones that do this is probably the first comedy! I don't want to get too much into the plot as there are tons of fun surprises, but the basic story is about the chaos that ensues after the patriarch of a British family dies and his dysfunctional family and friends must come together for the funeral. Death at a Funeral had an American re-make in 2010, although I have no idea why as besides the accents and location, nothing is particularly British about this film. Believe or not, Frank Oz directed this movie. Yes, THAT Frank Oz!

Highlander (1986)
I had been meaning to watch Highlander for awhile and finally got around to it, in high definition no less! I have a good friend who loves this movie and it sounded like something I would enjoy. What struck me most about this film is how well it was directed. Not only are the scenes in Scotland beautiful, there are some fantastic cuts, great cinematography, and the action is paced perfectly. Sean Connery has a minor role, but steals the show as the mentor to Christopher Lambert's character, Connor MacLeod. I noticed that Highlander is kinda like The Terminator. But instead of soldiers from the future fighting in the present, these are soldiers from the past. The similarity is probably unintentional as they are pretty different movies, but its interesting to think about.
I've heard the sequels are terrible so I'll avoid them and stick with the original. There can only be one!

Legend (1985)
Legend is Ridley Scott's first, and so far only, fantasy film even though I would like to see him take another shot at the genre. Although the usual whipping boy from Scott's catalog is G.I. Jane, Legend isn't considered to be one of his better movies. Coming right off of Alien and Blade Runner, Legend looks spectacular (especially in High Definition/Blu-Ray). When it comes to the directing, camerawork, lighting, make-up, atmosphere, and special effects, Legend is a masterpiece and an incredibly beautiful film. However, the plot is thin and too simple, the dialogue is often silly, and the acting is hit or miss. Tim Curry is fantastic as the Lord of Darkness and genuinely terrifying with his fantastic make-up and gigantic horns. Remarkably this was Mia Sara's first film and although I have only seen her in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Timecop, this is easily her best performance. On the other side, Tom Cruise was miscast. The voice actors for the other characters, especially for the elf named Gump, are over the top which is distracting and sometimes unintentionally funny. I saw the theatrical cut (only 89 minutes) but there is a director's cut which adds about 25 minutes to the total run time. While I enjoyed Legend, it had the potential to be much better. And despite all the beautiful scenes, beware of the ridiculous amount of Tom Cruise crotch shots!

Source Code
I loved Duncan Jones' directorial debut Moon (2009) and while Source Code is a different type of film, it is almost as good! Source Code is a high paced sci-fi thriller about a man who wakes up on a train in a different body and has to figure out who planted a bomb on the train since this person has another bomb going off later int he day in Chicago. I don't want to go any further because I don't want to spoil anything. Source Code is quite different than Moon, but I think anybody who liked Jones' first film would certainly enjoy his followup. Duncan Jones is now two for two, so I can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve for his next movie!

Iris (2001)
Normally this isn't the type of movie I would seek out, but my brother wanted to watch it so I figured what the hell. Iris is the biopic (based on a book) of British author Iris Murdoch and her struggle with Alzheimer's disease. I actually enjoyed this movie quite a bit, especially the acting performances from Jim Broadbent (Professor Slughorn in the Harry Potter movies), Judi Dench, and Kate Winslet. Broadbent won an Oscar for his role and the other two were nominated. Dench probably deserved to win an Oscar for this role more than for her performance as the Queen in Shakespeare in Love (only because she was barely in that film!), but whatever. Memory was one of the main themes in this film, and I liked how the flashbacks were not always in chronological order, but as the characters in the present remembered past events.

On Friday I'll post a follow-up to my Summer TV article. See you then!


  1. You've seen "The Dungeonmaster?" Have you seen Spoony's review of it?


    After your glowing review...I think that I'm now obligated to see "Death at a Funeral." Thanks for the heads up!

  2. I hadn't seen Spoony's review of it until now, but that was awesome! I don't really watch his videos but I'll have to check out more of his stuff now.

    Let me know what you think of Death at a Funeral. Just make sure you see the British original. I haven't seen the American version but I heard it got mixed reviews.

  3. Just catching up on some of your earlier reviews. Great (and varied) write up. I've been trying to find a copy of Dungeonmaster for ages. I really like some of Charles Band's stuff. Sounds like this one isn't worth the effort.

    Got to say I really love the ethereal dream-like atmosphere of Legend that the simplistic story doesn't bother me much.

    It's funny you picked up on the voice of Gump in Legend sounding weird as I think he was completely dubbed. Also, just found out that Robert Picardo (Doctor from Star Trek Voyager) was Meg Mucklebones under all that make-up.

  4. Dungeonmaster is a huge mess. It has seven directors and is almost like an anthology movie with with many different segments that are very loosely related. To be far it was trying to be like a video game with different levels but it just doesn't work. As a bad movie its watchable, especially with a group of friends. But when it comes to the Empire International Pictures movies its not as good as Zone Troopers or Dolls, or even as fun as Eliminators. I actually haven't see Re-Animator or Trancers yet, but Dungeonmaster is more along the lines of Robot Holocaust. So if you like the Charles Band stuff you might enjoy it just don't expect much.

    I agree that the atmosphere of Legend is great. I would've liked a little more going on in the story but I can't really complain about it. I think Legend has an unfair reputation because it was a box office failure and due to the soundtrack/director's cut controversy which is a shame.

    I knew something was off about Gump's voice. I didn't know that Robert Picardo played Meg Mucklebones, cool stuff and thanks for letting me know!