Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Night Movie Reviews

It's the end of the working week once again, but this week is a little bit extra special. It's the first Friday of the month, and you know what that means! Time for us to serve up our monthly helping of fun size movie reviews. We're spanning 30 years between our five reviews, so join us below the cut to be taken on a journey through time and spaaaaace.

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) by Jeff

While it appears the entire internet has Feelings about the latest Abrams Star Trek adventure, as someone who loves Trek more than Wars and has been wildly anticipating this movie for about four years, it met all my expectations and then some.

Without getting too spoilery, the Big Evil Villian was handled beautifully, with all the available rumors making sense once everything happened.  I chuckled quite a bit with how they did the big reveal, and reading some interviews with head writer Damon Lindelhof made things even clearer in regards to the how and why they went about the plot the way they did.  I can't complain in the least.

The other interesting thing for me is how much misdirection they accomplished in the previews without giving away the key plot.  Yes, you have the basic plot in mind, but the little things (the crashing ships, the rising from the water, etc) are so different that the previews barely give the movie away.  It's a nice change of pace from the movies where it seems like you know what's going to happen by the end of the story.

On a whole, great, great Star Trek movie.  If you've been on the fence, get off and get to a theater, because it's really one of the better sci-fi movies you've had an opportunity to see in some time.

Superman III (1983) by Luke

Superman III is a bewilderingly wretched misfire of a movie filled with more bad decisions than a night with Charlie Sheen. With Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel hurtling over the horizon towards us, you too might get the inexplicable urge to rewatch the “classics”, but I assure that this threequel is hours wasted that could be spent doing far more productive things, like eating, masturbating, or staring at the ceiling.

Stifled by incongruous zany slapstick, this super shitfest replaces memorable villains such as Luthor and Zod with spaced out comedian Richard Pryor who plays a deadbeat embezzling computer hack, in an age when computers looked like washing machines but were less useful. The only good parts are when Superman gets exposed to some dodgy homemade kryptonite (craptonite?) and it turns him into a super dickbag. He grows some stubble,  bullies civilians, gets tanked on whiskey in a bar and fights himself in a junkyard. He also fobs off rescuing people so that he can make sexy time with a villainous tycoon’s main squeeze, Lorelei. Actually, come to think of it, Pamela Stephenson’s Lorelei is by far the best thing in this entire movie. She’s hot, she’s funny, and she wears some killer outfits.

All in all its a gross misuse of the potential of an all powerful, god-like alien and I’m amazed that, only three movies in, they were this creatively bankrupt. Superman: the Movie made you believe a man can fly, Superman III will make you believe a man can flail. And drink whiskey and fight himself in a junkyard.

The Rocketeer (1991) by Jacinta

I'm fairly confident that the last time I watched the Rocketeer my age was still in single digits. I held fond memories of watching my tatty old VHS copy, but nearly 20 years on I remembered barely anything about the movie itself. When I found a very cheap copy of the blu-ray release, it seemed like a good excuse for a trip down memory lane.

When hotshot pilot Cliff Secord finds a mysterious jetpack, the only logical thing to do is to strap it to his back and press the 'go' button. Amazingly, he doesn't explode, and he manages to save a few people from various predicaments to boot. Unfortunately for Cliff, the jetpack is a prototype that those dang Nazis are pretty keen to get their hands on. Aided by debonair movie star Neville Sinclair and a gang of hitmen, the bad guys have a fair advantage over the guy with the jetpack and the amazing 90s hair. Will our hero win the day? Does he get the girl? Hey, it's a Disney movie, of course he does.

It's funny how rose-tinted memories only let you remember the really good stuff. Halfway through the movie I thought I had made an error in revisiting it. The performances were great (particularly Timothy Dalton's smarmy Neville), Billy Campbell as Cliff was truly incredibly handsome & likeable, and I was enjoying the movie as a fun cliche-filled 30s period piece, but the story felt quite slow and it wasn't really engaging me. Fast forward to the final showdown as Cliff battles Neville and the latex-faced Lothar on a Nazi blimp and it makes up for the lead up a thousand times over. You can hardly expect 22-year-old special effects to hold up in high definition, but the fun of that final fight scene makes the clearly defined green screen borders forgivable. The movie sports a lot of familiar faces, including Terry O'Quinn (Locke from Lost),  Jennifer Connelly (from various fancy movies like Requiem For a Dream and A Beautiful Mind) and plenty of others who will have you consulting IMDB to work out where you know them from.

I can't say that I'll likely be rushing to watch The Rocketeer again any time soon, but it was a nice hit of nostalgia and it's made me keen to check out the original 80s comic by Dave Stevens.

Doctor Who (1996) by Courtney

Oh wowee, I gets to do a movie review! Right but supposed to keep it  brief, let's take a nostalgia trip into my childhood, way back in the  90's! Being as obsessed with costumes as I am it's no surprise that my  childhood hero is pretty damn stylish, The Doctor, everyone has their  own generation that they love best. While I grew up with the re-runs on  ABC of the entire series from Hartnell to McCoy, it was the Eighth  Doctor I loved the most. Who's the Eighth Doctor you might ask? Oh he's  just some Time Lord, you've probably never heard of him.

In  1989, the TV series was cancelled  after running continuously for  almost 30 years, the 2005 reboot was not the first attempt to revive  Doctor Who. No there was a made-for-TV movie that aired on Fox, yeah Fox  and sci-fi, never a good combination. The film was also an attempt to  sell the franchise to an American audience while not alienating (no pun  intended) British audiences, there was a lot riding on this film as the  potential return of the series hung solely on its success or failure.
What's that old phrase about trying to please everyone?
It's  become one of the most divisive entries into Doctor Who canon and I  don't know which side I am on, I'm so conflicted about it. It might just  be the nostalgia goggles because I loved this movie as a kid but  watching it again the other night for the first time in years, I could  still see some redeemable qualities.

  • It's shot like a soap opera, which takes a while to get used to.
  • The Master is played by Eric Roberts.
  • Sylvester McCoy is killed off unceremoniously, I can't watch that scene.
  • The American influences.
  • Nonsensical, campy plot...Even by Doctor Who standards.
  • The Doctor claims he is half-human, never explained.
  • The Doctor and his "companion" almost immediately have a romantic relationship. That's just not done, especially back then.
  • Paul McGann is a fantastic Doctor, the most solid feature of the movie.
  • Also, he's pretty! Proving that David Tennant is not the only attractive Doctor.
  • One  of the most beautiful TARDIS consoles/interiors of all, it looks like  something out of the works of Jules Verne or H.G.Wells.
  • One of the coolest versions of the theme song.
  • The hours and hours and hours of audioplays, plus all novels and comics this movie inspired.

So  while I wouldn't say it's a great movie, it's definitely a must for  Doctor Who fans, especially new-Who fans curious to venture further into  the Doctor's past or if you want to get into the Eighth Doctor's  expanded universe of which there is much and it's pretty damn awesome.  It's only about 90 minutes long, it's a light, fun but sometimes  cringe-inducing watch.

The Prestige (2006) by Capey

Being a big Nolan fan I was quite surprised when I only had vague memories of this one. In fact, I think I hadn’t seen it since it’s release and even then I had a young kid running around and missed half of it. It’s a Nolan film! With Batman, Alfred, Wolverine, Gollum, Black Widow and Ziggy Stardust in it! How have I not given this a thorough watch before? I finally remedied this last night.

First of all it’s just beautiful to look at. Gorgeous cinematography. A real joy to look at in high def for sure. Turn of the century London is one of my favourite period settings and it’s represented well. The costuming really caught my eye with Jackman and Bale looking rather dapper on stage. Not to mention some almost distractingly sexy outfits for ScarJo as their magician’s assistant.

The movie itself is a tale of obsession, oneupsmanship and old fashioned rivalry. Jackman and Bale put in fantastic performances in the lead roles. Caine is great as always. Although the role wasn’t much of a stretch for him. He’s essentially Alfred again, only this time guiding magicians instead of Batman. His arc really mirrors Alfred’s in Dark Knight Rises. Even to the point of leaving our hero when his obsession goes to far. Johannson does enough with what she was given. I felt like her character should have had a bit more time. I didn’t really buy her falling in love with either man purely because there wasn’t enough time spent on the relationships. Oh and a big thumbs up to David Bowie was Nikola Telsa. He really couldn’t of been more perfectly cast.

The twists to the plot are really well done and I look forward to a rewatch knowing what I knew by the end. It’s so obvious now in retrospect. I’ll admit that Telsa’s cloning machine stretched my suspension of disbelief a fair bit. It’s a far fetched element of an otherwise realistically executed film. Speaking of far fetched. It was far too easy for Jackman to find a double for his act. I don’t think I could spend a few hours out in the city and find a man that could almost be my twin so quickly. It bothered me a fair bit.

I’ve spoken a lot of criticism but I genuinely enjoyed the film. The thing with some of Nolan's films are that they are really good in the moment, but fall a part a little when you think back to them afterwards. I had the same problem with Inception and Dark Knight Rises. It’s worth a look if you liked any of Nolan’s other films.

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