Thursday, October 19, 2017

200 Items Or Less: X-Men (2000)

A few thoughts: Superhero movies are usually a little too mainstream for me to talk about here (I'm more concerned with genre/cult films), but this being one of the first (and corniest) in the new wave of superhero movies, I'll give it a few sentences. Though this was by no means low budget, the action (both CG and stunt) has aged about as well as something with 1/10 The overall budget of this. Ironically, this is an action movie that works in pretty much every way apart from the action itself. The acting is largely pretty weak, but there are three big exceptions to this; Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Hugh Jackman, the trio of performances/characters that carry the movie -- as well the sequels. It's easy to nitpick aspects of this movie now, but watching it is a blast from the past and a lot more entertaining when you choose to approach it like the '90s Batman sequels. The screenplay is pretty tight, though the dialogue is largely cheesy. I feel I appreciate this one a lot more now than when it first came out. But the sequel is still better.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

200 Items Or Less: Dracula A.D. 2015 (2015)

A few thoughts: Being the Hammer horror fan that I am, I was more than pleased at the opportunity to watch this hour-long homage to the classic horror studio's Dracula films. Very clearly low-budget (high frame rate and unpolished editing, lighting, cinematography, etc.), this film is infectious more for its passion than it is particularly good in its own right. Instead of just being a fan recreation of a film, it does try its own thing, which I can appreciate. It may not be an impressive screenplay, but at least it had one that wasn't ripped from a quick Google search. There is an inherent silliness to much of this film, and watching the cast play it straight makes it work all the better. Instead of constantly making terrible jokes, they instead let the visuals and thematic references provide the humor. Recreating scenes and moments from the classic films woven into the story was a nice touch, particularly the finale which apes the ending of the '58 Dracula quite wonderfully. No, this isn't some sort of masterpiece, but I enjoyed it and found it charming.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

200 Items Or Less: The Mummy's Hand (1940)

A few thoughts: A slick and entertaining mummy film from Universal that doesn't try to recreate or one-up the 1932 movie (thankfully), but functions independently from it, has its own story, characters, and - perhaps most importantly - a different mummy. The first appearance of Kharis, the overlooked mummy who was the subject of the wonderful 1959 Hammer film, has a familiar set-up involving a group of archeologists looking for a princesses tomb, accidentally uncovering a living mummy who seeks revenge on anyone who disturbs the sleep of his eternal love. Unlike Imhotep (from the '32 and '99 movies), Kharis isn't his own master, functioning as a henchman who kills people off one-by-one like a slasher villain. It's differences like this that keep this movie fresh and fun. Great makeup and post-effects on the mummy, the lighting and sets are good, and the movie runs at just under 70 minutes, so it never overstays its welcome. This is a very entertaining movie that has some decent comic relief and plenty of mummy action.

Monday, October 16, 2017

200 Items Or Less: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)

A few thoughts: There's a stigma attached to remakes, and rightfully so. They're often cash grabs that miss the entire point of the original, ultimately offering a cheapened version of stories that didn't need retold at all. But back in the '70s and '80s we saw a decent number of memorable science fiction/horror remakes that were able to stand on their own feet as well as do justice to the source material. A few notable examples are 'The Thing', 'The Fly', 'Little Shop Of Horrors' (though that's slightly different) and...well, this. Super eerie and filled with memorable scenes and moments, this is much more of a horror movie than the original, and equally as paranoid and visually appealing. The performances are all pretty great, with Nimoy standing out in one of his more notable non-Spock roles. There's a genuine feeling of dread and suspense to this movie, which is escalated by the mistrust and skepticism both the characters and the audience must face in regards to who has been body-snatched. Very cool and very tense.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

200 Items Or Less: Rodan (1956)

A few thoughts: After the huge success of Godzilla, Ishiro Honda basically had the rest of his career set out for him, starting this next step with an entirely new monster who would continue to appear in future Toho projects for decades to come. While I appreciate the fact he took a different approach with this movie, it's also pretty clear that he hadn't quite figured out how to make these into fun movies at this point, as Rodan is an incredibly dry movie lacking any humor. Even at only 70 or 80 minutes, this movie drags along at a snail's pace, and honestly, features a much less interesting monster than future installments would offer. What stands out most about this movie is the set design and attempts at creating something new and totally unique from Godzilla. Instead of going for an easy clone, Honda and co. developed this idea in a movie that I feel is much more important than it is watchable. It's short and easy enough to find time to watch, but the pacing is poor and the execution is too humorless to entertain a crowd.