Thursday, March 31, 2011

Riverworld (2010) * * * .5

Official Trailer for RIVERWORLD.

Having just watched RIVERWORLD for the third time, I am very impressed with it.  It got me to read the book, which I have been meaning to read for 30 years anyway.  The 2010 version is the best, but the 2003 version is not bad either.  Both were SyFy pilots that didn't get picked up, but both were well worth watching.  Neither pilot seems to follow the book exactly, but given that there were a series of Riverworld books, the made for TV movies might have come from material that I haven't seen yet.

Richard Francis Burton is the Villain in Riverworld movie but the hero in the book.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mega Mind * * *

Not long ago, there was a time when every 3D animated film was a rare and special event. Like Shrek. That is because 3D animated films cost a $100 million to make (Final Fantasy cost $200 million), so special attention was paid to things like characters and plot. But these days it seems that we are flooded with animated films, many of which feel routine.  Because animated films are in such demand right now, it is profitable to make movies that are just O.K

Mega Mind feels like a cartoon comedy, and it is, but for what they spent on this movie, I expected more. I read that it cost $150 million to make, and it really does look terrific, but the story feels close to "Despicable Me", which is another animated comedy that failed to blow me away. These two movies are good, but the stories are nothing special, and the movies are even a little silly at times.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Harry Brown * * *

Harry Brown is an interesting movie.  It is the British equivalent of “Death Wish”, although it pushes the R rating because of violence and language.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Crazies * * * 1/2

The Crazies is not a zombie movie, but close. A biological weapon
gets loose in a town and turns people into homicidal maniacs. What
happens next is a well written story that cumulates in a surprise
ending. This is one of my favorite movies that I have seen recently.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Monsters * * * 1/2

I cannot review this film without quoting somebody on Netfix:

"If you like movies about good-looking people having trouble making travel arrangements, then this is the film for you! But if you were hoping that Monsters would be about something else - like, oh I dunno, MONSTERS? - then youd better keep looking. Seriously, its 90 minutes of two people sitting on a train, sitting on a boat, sitting in a car, walking in the woods, and making the occasional telephone call. To the extent that the eponymous monsters do show up, alls I can say is that Ive seen scarier aliens in an episode of Alf. "

The trouble with this comment is that it expects the movie to be something it isn't, while ignoring what it is.  Monsters is a movie about 2 strangers, who might be right for each other, struggling to get home while traveling across what is essentially a war zone.  The fact that the war zone is occupied by rarely seen extra-terrestrials is besides the point.   The film creates a crafty suspense that turns the movie into something well worth experiencing.  I am very glad that I saw it.

The fact that a movie of this quality was made on such a low budget is amazing.   The entire crew consisted of only 7 people, including the two main actors, who drove around central America in just one van.  There are many extras in the film, but these are just people they met along the way who they convinced to be in the movie.  Sure, the low budget does show occasionally, but for the most part the movie feels like a much more expensive film.

Roger Ebert agrees.

Spoilers below ...

From: Robert

I watched it last evening.  I liked it a lot.   It’s very suspenseful.  I like when they don’t show the monster because that builds the anticipation.  I wasn’t planning on finishing it all in one evening.  But I did anyways because I had to see how it ended.

I didn’t like what I learned about the opening scene though.  In the commentary they make it clear that the opening scene is actually the very end of the movie.  I wanted a happy ending where the girl and the guy make it home and they live happily ever after.  They don’t dwell on it too much and it’s not that obvious.

From: Robert  

So now that you have seen the movie I can tell you what I didn’t like about the story. 

In the commentary, at the very beginning, the director makes a comment saying, “and there is a dead Samantha being dragged away by Andrew”.   So the possibility that she actually dies before she is rescued was something I didn’t like.  But the movie doesn’t make it obvious so I think it can be debated whether she dies or not.  I prefer to believe she made it home and she gets married to Andrew instead of her fiancé.  In real life she does get married to her co-actor playing Andrew.   It’s like the ending of “The Mist” where everyone dies, I was hoping for a friendlier happy ending.

The director says the monsters are a cross between crabs and squid from an ocean below the ice environment from one of Jupiter’s moons.  They don’t bother you unless you provoke them.  But I thought it was a bit unrealistic to have them take down an F-15 or helicopters from what we are shown they can do.

From: Coffey, John R


I might not have made the connection between the opening and the ending were it not for reading what you said.   I had to go back and watch the beginning in slow motion to understand what was going on.     I felt that it was left open to interpretation but I assumed that that girl was dead.    I like this because it says that you can be alive one minute and dead the next.   

Like you, I also wanted a happy ending.

The fact that they couldn’t stop the monsters is not realistic given that you could have a scorched earth policy like in “Cloverfield” or "The Crazies".    But I like the themes of fighting a war that you can’t win – and the parallel to illegal immigration  - and not being able to fight nature.   I don’t necessarily agree with the messages they present, but I think that the themes are entertaining.

On my blog I gave it * * * .5.  What would you give it?
Best wishes,
John Coffey 

From:  Robert 
3.5 at least but probably not a 4.0

Charlie Chaplin - The Lion's Cage