Sunday, 31 May 2020

The Phantom Planet (1961)

Like many of these oldies I chose this purely based on the absolutely epic title. After that I then followed up with a touch of research into the plot and looked at some images on Google. I quickly came to the conclusion that yes, this is a movie I must watch.

Plot you say? Well allow me to enlighten you. It's the futuristic year of 1980 and mankind (and by that I mean the US) is now firmly set up on the moon. Alas there seems to be a problem, a few US astronauts and their ships have gone missing. So the stiff short back and sides Colonel orders a two-man search party. The surprisingly blonde Capt. Chapman (Dean Fredericks) and Lt. Makonnen (Richard Weber). It's not long before this young all-American duo suffers damage to their ship from a meteor shower which forces them both outside to try and fix it.

During this spacewalk Chapman is knocked-out after a meteor-like particle pierces his oxygen hose. Something that you'd think would kill him pretty quickly but nonetheless. Makonnen manages to get him back inside the ship before he is also struck by a meteor-like particle which sends him floating off into the cold depths of space. Sometime later Chapman comes to and finds the ship being drawn down to a large asteroid, forcing him to land. Upon landing and still suffering the effects of his incident Chapman exits the ship and collapses. He briefly awakens to notice tiny six-inch tall aliens approaching him, before passing out again.

No this isn't a space set Gulliver's Travels, but it is very much a blend of The Twilight Zone and the original Star Trek series. Basically these little aliens (Rhetonians) are trying to keep their existence (on the asteroid Rheton) secret from other lifeforms mainly down to their superior technology (gravitational control). So naturally Chapman isn't allowed to leave. But naturally Chapman wants to escape despite being welcomed into the alien race with his choice of attractive female companions. Yes it's at this point I must mention that the aliens do in fact look exactly like humans, because of course they do.

It's also at this point that I should point out that when Chapman lifted the visor on his space helmet, the alien asteroid 'air' or 'atmosphere' was breathable and instantly shrank him down to the alien's size. So obviously I needn't point out the complete lunacy of this. Firstly, asteroids do not have an atmosphere to breathe, and secondly, even if it did why would it instantly shrink a lifeform to the exact size of the aliens? In fact, why are the alien that big anyway??

As you might expect Chapman does start to settle in with his new alien hosts but all the while he is scheming to escape. And again as you might expect there is romantic jiggery-pokery afoot as one attractive alien female wants to get in Chapman's pants but this makes one of the male aliens jealous (cos he wants to get inside her knickers). Naturally this leads to some stern but polite language between the pair and eventually the alien custom of battling to the death in the movies main Star Trek moment. Think Kirk vs Spock but way way more crappy and without that classic tune.

Anyway after all this cliched nonsense (Chapman wins the battle but doesn't kill the alien cos basically he's a decent chap) we eventually get to yet another plot detour. Turns out this little human-like alien race has enemies. Enter the incredibly cliched rubbery monster-esque alien race called the Solarites or 'fire people'. Because the technologically advanced goodie race of aliens look like humans, whereas the baddie war-obsessed alien race look like large bug-eyed bipedal lizard monsters. Oh and the ships they fly seem to That are actually engulfed in flames? I guess that's why they're called fire people...monsters. Fun fact, the Solarite we see in the movie is Richard Kiel in his first film role.

Long story short, with Chapman's help the Rheton's beat the fire people and all is well with the universe. Chapman is now allowed to go back to Earth when the very conveniently timed US spaceship arrives in orbit. Chapman crawls back inside in spacesuit and automatically grows back to his regular human size because...he breaths in atmospheric gases from Earth?? Huh?? Firstly, why would Earth 'gases' undo the shrinking process? And secondly, how was there any Earth 'gases' left inside his suit when his visor was left open this whole time!

There are lots of solid goofs and cringeworthy moments to be found. The fact that the astronauts move quite normally when doing their spacewalk. Also, neither of them are actually tethered to the ship, they are 'walking' freely. In fact there doesn't seem to be any attempt at the effects of zero gravity at all which is most amusing. Why didn't Chapman's spacesuit shrink with him? It's things like this, the goofs, the errors, are exactly why we (the fans) watch this stuff. Glorious.

Overall this is definitely an entertaining bit of sci-fi hokem which definitely gets more and more ridiculous as the plot goes on. The introduction of the Solarites was but the icing on the cake frankly as I didn't expect that. The movie does have some nice effects here and there and the costumes, mainly the spacesuits, are well done. Set wise it's as you might expect with everything looking rather flat and obvious but it does the job. It's mainly the space sequences that showcase the thoroughly enjoyable clunky effects at their best. It was also surprising to see a blonde male lead as often you get a tall dark handsome hero. Fredericks hair definitely gave him some much-needed edge. So yeah, this space mystery adventure pretty much provides you with everything you could want in a cheesy old black and white early 60's peek into what life would be like in 1980.


Monday, 25 May 2020

Unknown World (1951)

So I found myself craving some classic black and white science fiction once again, after a prolonged period of modern-day crap (it just gets worse). Having a stroll through whatever a simple Google search would find me, I came across this little number. I read the plot, it sounded sweet, so here we go. I might add this movie is available to watch on You-Tube, so go watch it now.

At a rather compact 74 minutes this movie can't hang around too long, yet it does. As you might expect with many of these old flicks the start of the movie is one long narration explaining the current situation of mankind at the time. This narration is intertwined with scenes as the key characters set up the basic plot. Nonetheless this entire setup does take around the first five minutes of the film. Add to that the usual long period of talking and debate amongst the key characters and other background characters as they decide on what to do.

So what is the plot? Well you've probably guessed the basis seeing as this is a 50's flick. Yep it's all based around atomic bombs again, ugh! Bottom line, Dr. Morley (Victor Kilian) is concerned about mankind if a nuclear war were to start. So he manages to create a small team of various experts in order to burrow down into the Earth in order to find a safe haven just in case. At first he can't get the funding, but then he does via a rich young tycoon type (Bruce Kellog) and all systems are go. 

Yes this is essentially an early Doug McClure movie minus the gloss. The team of experts are all men with one attractive woman, which seems to be (an amusing) contractual part of all these old adventure movies. And as you might expect there is the obligatory tension between a couple of the male experts over the lady. The vehicle they use has a neat little name, a Cyclotram. Essentially a pod-like featureless submarine with a big drill nose. As you might expect visual effects are pretty basic and what you see is an obvious small model being tugged along. The interior is a simple layout with all the characters sat neatly behind each other. There are various dials and pipes on the walls as you might expect. Although it amused me how there only seemed to be a few other quarters, very little space for seven experts. Where's the toilet?? No need for a kitchen in this futuristic vision though as everyone is living on tiny pills that constitute a meal. 

Anywho after much adventuring around underground and the death of a few experts from toxic gas and one falling into an abyss, the team discovers a vast underground cavern. This cavern is yet again everything you might expect from a silly fantasy flick. Firstly it's enormous, like a valley with its own mountains, ocean, desert, nice climate, convenient light reflected off the phosphorescent cavern roof, and a weather system. And secondly, it's conveniently absolutely perfect for human life to survive. BUT there is one small problem, for some reason this cavern renders all living things sterile. The pregnant rabbits which the team brought gave birth to dead rabbits. This is of course makes no sense because the rabbits were pregnant before they reached this cavern and I don't believe they were fed anything from the cavern. So just being in the cavern made them sterile? Does that mean the humans are now sterile? Something in the air is that powerful? Oh I should also point out flaw number two, no dinosaurs.

Unfortunately this apparent oasis turns out to be an oasis for the dead. Humans could probably live and prosper but would not be able to have children and would die out after one generation. Thing is old Dr. Morley doesn't accept this and still has hope as he thinks life on the surface is doomed anyway. Morley has also lived through two wars so he holds little affection for mankind as it is. But before you can self-destruct, a volcano erupts and seemingly destroys everything. Morley is depressed and allows himself to be killed whilst the others escape into the underground ocean. They happen to surface just by an inhabited island, lucky huh.

Watching this on You-Tube probably didn't allow for the best visual representation but the movie still managed to entertain me. Naturally the effects are limited and quaint but still utterly charming. The view through the cyclotram cockpit summed up the corny charm. Portions of the movie were filmed in and around various real caves in America which definitely helped. The huge underground cavern seemed to be a matte painting and a very nice one at that. As already explained model shots were pretty basic but they do the job. The cast seemed to be taking things seriously which also helped sell the adventure, unlike their rather dapper attire and juvenile equipment but it's all good.

Of course the science is silly and of course it's all very hokey, but movies like this paved the way for your modern-day blockbusters. How many big CGI spectacles have taken inspiration from old movies like this eh. Fans of things like this know what they're getting into, you don't need me to tell you this stuff is great. Just a shame there weren't any monsters, this movie actually took a more intelligent route, surprising really.


Monday, 11 May 2020

Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)

So this is a movie that has gone down in the annals of movie history, or is that infamy? 

I think everyone who has a slight passing interest in movies knows the story behind this long-gestating project. Long long story short, there has been interest in making a Sonic flick for decades. Ever since Sega introduced the zippy blue hedgehog the idea has been floating around. Alas with the epic infamous flops of videogame adaptations 'Super Mario Bros' and 'Street Fighter' the idea took a backseat. I think it was the surprising success of 'Mortal Kombat' in 1995 that probably got people thinking again.

After much studio faffing Paramount Pictures acquired the rights and announced the movie would be released in November 2019. And this is where the fun begins. The visual effects were handled by a few effects studios and all under the understanding that making a more realistic Sonic was the way to go. The idea was to create a more human-like appearance for Sonic so that he would blend into his live-action feature more easily. As we all know this included realistic fur, separated eyes, human-like legs, human-like hands, human-like teeth, a realistic nose, and actual realistic sneakers. Apparently they were going for the 2012 'Ted' look. Unfortunately someone forgot to them Ted was a teddy bear and still looked like a teddy bear. At no point was Ted ever made more human-like. 

Oh, the team also looked at the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie for inspiration too. Feck me! Yeah apparently they expected Sonic fans to outrage but thought the general audiences wouldn't care about the redesign as that same thing happened with the Turtles. This goes to show how these 'creative people' think with these franchises and explains why so many tank.

Of course we all know what happened next. The trailer for this movie was released in May 2019 to astronomical levels of backlash. It seemed all the Sonic fans didn't like this ugly freaky human-like nightmare of a vision and actually wanted Sonic to look like...Sonic, you know, from the videogame. So with their tails set firmly between their legs the studios withdrew the movie and got to work on fixing the problem. But did they??

Well in my opinion no they didn't. OK let's be real here, yes I can fully appreciate the director and co listening to the fans and going back to fix the visuals on Sonic, sure. But the movie is still a pile of garbage. The visuals before the backlash were pretty bad granted but at least they had an original spin to them...I guess. The new visuals were fine and looked like Sonic should but it doesn't help the movie in any way. The plot is weak as hell and merely involves Sonic getting thrust into our world and having to find his magic rings. He manages to find some human friends along the way to help him oh and the evil Dr. Robotnik is chasing Sonic too to harness his power (yawn!).

As you might expect it's actually the small snippets from Sonic's world and the mushroom world Robotnik is banished to that are of more interest than anything else in this movie. Setting the story in our realm was positively the worse decision you could make. Has no one learned from previous videogame fudge ups?? Everything takes place in boring settings with boring characters that do cliched unfunny boring things. James Marsden is simply your average good-looking lead that is ten-a-penny in Hollywood. He isn't particularly good with comedy...or acting frankly. His partner is played by someone called Tika Sumpter who has no chemistry whatsoever with Marsden. Literally to the point where I don't understand how she was cast. 

And then we have good old Jim Carrey who is admittedly the best part of this lame flick. Of course, as everyone knows, Carrey's performance feels like it's been ripped from the 90's, back in his heyday. In turn this makes the entire movie feel completely dated in an odd blend of nostalgia and pure crap. It is very bizarre how one person can make an entire movie seem dated, but Carrey does just that. His performance is little more than his 'Cable Guy' and 'Liar Liar' characters rolled into one and regurgitated. So yes while Carrey is the best part that still doesn't help the movie because we've seen his schtick many many many times before decades ago.

Yup I know this is essentially a movie for children, I know that. But it was always gonna lure in the aging fanboys, like myself, from back in the golden days of videogaming. Call it a case of morbid curiosity I guess, on my count anyway. But yeah this turned out exactly as I expected it would with or without the creepy Sonic visuals. The CGI is generally poor and obvious all round. The acting is generally poor and cringeworthy all round. Sonic does all the stupid childish goofy things you'd expect him to do in a kid's flick. The movie has all the usual big blockbuster tropes and cliches that get used ad nauseam to the point of switching off (you see the same crap in all the Marvel fluff or any other big blockbuster). 

Overall this was very basic generic guff with poor visuals and bad acting. Simply sticking 90's Jim Carrey in there doesn't save the day in my opinion, nor does the 'upgraded' Sonic design. In fact, I'm more curious to see the original movie with the original Sonic design because I genuinely feel it might be better. Yeah, how bout dem apples.


Thursday, 19 March 2020

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

You know it really did highlight to me how much I miss George Lucas and his visions when watching the final installment in this new Star Wars trilogy. Now don't get me wrong, it's not like all of Lucas' ideas were perfect and his prequel trilogy was good, far from it. There is no way I can honestly turn around now and say to you the prequel trilogy was good now I think about it, or these new movies justify the existence of the prequels, oh no. Lets be clear, the prequels were bad on many many levels and Lucas fecked them up, but at least Lucas had a vision, a path, a story to follow. 

We now all know that the new trilogy had no story to follow, there was no path, no vision, it was literally made on the fly. The first movie 'The Force Awakens' was merely a poor remake of the classic original which didn't even look as good! The second movie 'The Last Jedi' was impressive visually, at least, but director Rian Johnson was allowed to go off on his own tangent and wrecked the whole storyline. If his movie and ideas had been in a spin-off then maybe it wouldn't have been so bad. And now finally we have this final movie which had to fix Johnson's mess and get everything back on track and tie it all up with a nice bow on top. As we now know this was an impossible task which basically would have required another flippin' trilogy to fix.

I'm not going to essentially write a review here, I'm just going to list in order everything I found nonsensical about this hodge-podge.

The movie kicks off with a bang that's for sure, with a rapid succession of quickfire sequences that basically confuse and disorientate you. We are skipping from one location to another with action sequences fuelled by 'light-speed skipping', something that has apparently just been conjured up? What I didn't get was how the TIE fighters could also use the same light-speed passage as the Falcon. Is that new also? This is also interspersed with small sequences of Kylo Ren massacring various aliens in his quest for a Sith wayfinder (Marvel influenced mcguffin).

It's at this early stage that I noticed how 'clean' Chewie looked, like the actor's costume just looked way too glossy and clean for a Wookie. It didn't look real, it looked like a cosplay. Also, who or what is that huge slug-like alien in the Falcon? Where did that come from?

The Rebels/Resistance continues to be made up of mainly minorities and women now, apparently. Although it's not as obvious as previous movies. I'm just gonna assume the majority of white male fighters were killed off in the original trilogy.

Kylo gets his helmet fixed (forged back together), and it looks stupid. Get a new cool helmet mate.

The gang head to another planet in search of a Scooby clue to lead them to the location of the Sith wayfinder, it's yet another desert planet. Here, out of nowhere, Lando pops up to save them and then literally disappears for half the movie.

Desert planet must equal speeder-bike chase sequence and voila! Not too bad of an action sequence but there's no tension whatsoever because you know none of the main heroes are gonna get hurt so...Also, they fly now??!!

Eventually they stumble across this Sith dagger with text on which 3PO is not allowed to translate because more Scooby clue searching is required to pad out the plot. How can they get around this? They have to wipe 3PO's memory again, ugh! We also get the first glimpse of how much of a Mary Sue Rey now is seeing her heal an alien with the power of touch...just like Jesus!

Whilst trying to escape the planet on an abandoned ship Rey wanders off for no reason causing issues. Turns out its to confront Kylo in a TIE (translation - have a cool looking Matrix-style action sequence). This whole confrontation turns out to be pointless, but it does result in Chewie, somehow, getting captured also. Kylo is on a mission to assassinate Rey by this point, under strict orders of Palpatine. He has plenty of opportunity to do this or at least confront Rey (after she takes down his TIE), but for some reason just allows her to leave when she was only around 20 metres away.

Another planet and another pointless strong female character in a nifty looking helmet. Always female.

After Rey senses where Chewie is (on Kylo's Star Destroyer) they go off to rescue him. Using another mcguffin they infiltrate the Destroyer...literally guns blazing. Somehow the entire Destroyer isn't alerted to their gung-ho entry. Somehow they manage to wander around virtually unimpeded. And somehow they manage to find Chewie almost straight away. These sequences were like watching a first-person shooter on easy level, the stormtroopers were that useless.

Then it's off to yet another planet where the remanents of the second Death Star are found. Somehow large sections of the Death Star rubble have remained intact! Despite being blown to pieces at the end of RotJ. Amazingly even Palpatine's old throne room is recognisable! This is where the Sith dagger comes into play...'Goonies' style. Oh did I mention yet another strong female character on this planet? Well there you go, another one. Can't have enough strong female characters ya know, just in case we forget ourselves men.

Rey fights Kylo, beats him (of course), mortally wounds him, but then heals him? I dunno. Leia helped with her force powers, dies in the process. Why? I duuno.

Kylo has seemingly flip-flopped on sides during this saga and apparently having a conversation with a memory of his dad Han Solo gets him to finally go to the light side. Why? I duuno.

Rey goes off to battle Palpatine one on one. Palpatine looks like something outta the Hellraiser franchise now. He also has an entire legion of Star Destroyers, literally hundreds. Who built them? Who's manning them? Why are all stormtroopers and Star Destroyer gunners now in red armour? (to sell more toys). Who were all those hundreds of hooded people in the arena type area watching Palpatine converse with Rey??

Movie tries to get your emotional juices flowing as the Rebels gear up for this one last final huge battle. It doesn't work because they rush the build-up. We get one shot of them piling into their ships, a quick take-off, then all of a sudden they're at their destination and getting stuck in. There was none of the slow dramatic build-up we got in RotJ. Also why do all the pilots looks squashed in their rebel starfighter cockpits? And why does the Nien Nunb mask still not look as good as in RotJ?

This whole finale is yet again a simple rip-off from Lucas' previous work (RotJ). The only difference is its just not as good, its pants. As usual the Rebels start off well but then start to succumb to the might of the Empire. Various faceless pilots get blown to smithereens whilst trying to take out this navigation tower that helps Star Destroyers take-off (navigational tower, shield generator, meh). But of course when reinforcements turn up with Lando the tide turns. This whole sequence just can't muster the same goosebumps you got with the original classic trilogy I'm sorry.

Riding on alien horses into battle on the surface of a Star Destroyer? Feck off movie. Literally what the feck??

Apparently taking out a Star Destroyers' main planet-destroying gun causes the entire ship to blow up? We also see our first black male Imperial Star Destroyer officer here (?!).

How do the Knights of Ren know their leader has turned to the good side when they meet up? They just see him and go after him. Also, why to the Knights of Ren look like Ringwraiths?

Palpatine reveals that Rey is his granddaughter, really?? At what point did Palpatine have a relationship? Surely this might have cropped up at some point during the last six friggin' movies???

Palpatine explains his plan to allow Rey to kill him in order for his soul to enter her body giving her all his power, or so he can control her body or something. He seems pretty confident in this plan. But when Kylo turns up and helps Rey he decides to drain them both and rejuvenate himself. Well...why didn't he just decide to do that in the first place? Seems like a better plan and it works out pretty well at first. Unfortunately for Palpatine Rey is a Mary Sue so she beats him.

I'm still amazed the Rebels actually won this battle considering the literal hundreds of Star Destroyers packed with tonnes of TIE's. Surely they were outnumbered tenfold? Most of the Rebel ships were cruisers, frigates, and smaller crafts manned by regular people/aliens. How could they defeat all those Imperial fighters and Destroyers?? Pretty sure there were loads of Destroyers left at the end too.

Denis Lawson cameo as Wedge? Well played movie, plus point earned. 

Then at the very end we are given a few pathetic shots of other locations as the Empire falls. Bespin...because they'd not been able to crowbar that into the trilogy. The forest moon of Endor with a couple of Ewoks? Why?? Jakku I think, again why? Its a barren desert world. Oh and Chewie is given a medal...because 'A New Hope'.

Rey goes back to Luke's home on Tatooine to bury his and Leia's lightsabers, for some reason. Some old crone asks her who she is, Rey replies 'Rey...Skywalker'. Bollocks! You aren't a Skywalker! You're a bloody Palpatine! Feck off movie. 

So yeah, tis a load of crap basically. A hot mess of padding and guff stuffed into an overly long movie desperately trying to fix the last fiasco whilst keep the fanbase happy. Disney should have thought harder about their direction, hiring choices, and political angles before diving in. How could a company feck up Star Wars? How??!! Plus points? Visually this looks good as you might expect, that's it. But yeah, the whole trilogy has been an unmitigated disaster. I hate the new characters so much I wanted the Empire to win. 


Sunday, 15 March 2020

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Now this has to be some kind of record right. Hollywood has actually tried to kickstart three trilogies with this franchise and every one has failed at the first hurdle. Three huge blockbuster attempts, three flops. 'Terminator Salvation' was probably the most original and better of the attempts, tank. 'Terminator Gen-I-sys' or however you pronounce it, ├╝ber tank. And now finally 'Terminator: Dark Fate', a woke tank. Seriously that's an impressive record of shit right there Hollywood.

So you see my use of the word woke just now, well it's kinda justified. No I'm not trying to just on any bandwagons here but come on, look at the evidence here. What we essentially have is James Cameron's T2 remade and genderswapped. The plot is exactly the flippin' same for Pete's sake! The main difference here is they have killed off John Connor only to replace him with a young female minority version. As said, the rest is the same as before with a new Terminator coming back from the future to try and eliminate its target. Wash, rinse, and repeat, again.

Oh Jesus where to begin?! 

So they killed off John straight away, right off the bat they render everything that has come before pointless, obsolete. The funny thing is Hollywood pulled the same shit with other franchises like Star Wars, Predator, Alien etc...You know, making ridiculous decisions with the story in newer sequels that render everything before it null and void. They never learn.

The new Terminator isn't all! Now I understand the notion of having a regular looking guy as a Terminator because a Terminator is supposed to be an infiltration unit for assassination purposes, cool. And personally I loved the original casting idea of Lance Henriksen as the Terminator in the original 1984 movie because of his unique appearance (using Schwarzenegger always seemed like the cheesy option to me). But this guy (Gabriel Luna) has no presence or visual appeal at all. The man literally looks like a generic clothes catalog model. Sure you could say that is perfect for a Terminator but at the same time you need something of interest for the audience, the actor needs to have an interesting face. It's a hard line to walk granted but this choice was poor.

Speaking of casting choices, the entire cast was wrong in my opinion. Natalia Reyes as Dani (the new John Connor) was not only terrible acting-wise but completely unbelievable as the new future of the human race mainly down to her height and size. She couldn't even hold an assault weapon believably for Christ's sake. Then we had the character of Grace (Grace?) played by MacKenzie Davis sporting some tomboy haircut (anyone notice she had the same haircut as a child in a flashback sequence?). Clearly this character was part of the neo trendy transgender obsession as she was obviously supposed to be androgynous. Grace was the Kyle Reese character genderswapped but better because she was augmented with technology that enabled her to do fancy pointless flips and such (eye-roll much?).

And then we have Arnie and Linda. I facepalmed so hard at the thought of Schwarzenegger returning yet again as a Terminator. I mean come on people!! This guy is too old! It's just embarrassing now. The fact they still used that stupid idea of aging flesh from the previous flop was laughable. The fact they used the whole notion of Arnie's Terminator learning human emotions to the point that it becomes a good character, marries and is self-employed selling curtains were both fecking absurd and laughable. How the hell does it marry and not have the female discover its a fecking robot?? As for Linda Hamilton, this was clearly to try and get the older fanbase back on-board as Arnie wasn't working anymore. They pulled a pathetic Disney/Star Wars move. Both are too old and both looked ridiculous.

The Terminator had a stupid design. This time the hook is it can separate into two Terminators. One is the metal skeleton whilst the other is the liquid metal skin. They can part at any time which seemed like a reasonably lengthy process that rendered the whole thing pointless to me. Also, why not just send two Terminators? Oh yeah and Skynet no longer exists of course, its called 'Legion' now. Another pointless move because not only does this render everything prior obsolete, it also surely means the threat from the machines will never end...right? One super machine will just replace another so there is no real tension anymore.

The special effects are poor. How can a movie of this size and cost have poor effects? Overuse of CGI as per usual. But yeah the effects are generally bad and obvious. There are multiple scenes with horrendously obvious greenscreen effects. The action sequences use horrendously obvious ragdoll effects on characters when they are being flung around. And, as expected, some sequences are way way overblown with completely unnecessary set-pieces such as the mid-air plane collision. I mean really? Did..did you really need to have a jumbo jet action sequence here? Did we really need the Humvee sequence? This franchise is supposed to be an adult horror thriller, not a superhero movie. All this does is prove to me once again that Hollywood (and even Cameron) doesn't understand these old franchises anymore.

This pretty much sums up my whole opinion of Hollywood and how they approach movies these days. They just don't understand old franchises anymore, classic or otherwise. They can't come up with any original material anymore, everything has to be remade or rebooted. They think everything needs (biased) political commentary, not even subtle but obvious in your face political commentary. They keep gender or race-swapping key characters to appease specific groups. And, apparently, they think everything needs to be like a Marvel movie now. This entire movie felt like some fan-made Latino version of the franchise, literally taking bits from the first two movies and remaking them, including the ending! One word, abysmal.


Friday, 7 February 2020

Moving (1988)

Now this is a prime example of one of those movies I saw in the videoshop, back when I was a kid, and simply wanted to watch it because of A. the amusing looking poster, and B. it starred Richard Pryor. That's all it took back then, something to catch your eye on the top shelve. You had no idea if it would be any good but without the internet, movie magazines, or any TV shows about current movies, you took the chance (parents willing).

The plot is simple. As the title of the movie indicates, the plot surrounds a move. Arlo Pear (Richard Pryor) has just lost his job as a transportation engineer based in New Jersey. After some time he manages to snag a job with another engineering company in Boise, Idaho. Obviously this would require his family to up sticks and move across the country. At first, naturally, his family isn't happy, but they soon agree. As you might have guessed the whole process becomes one disaster after another involving a shady moving company, their new home, their new neighbours, and the guy Arlo hires to drive his sexy Saab across the country to their new destination.

This is your typical 80's National Lampoon's type affair, so much so you have expect to see a Chevy Chase cameo. The whole thing is very cliched and very predictable to be honest. Take a look at the various characters, Randy Quaid's characters for instance. Without even typing any further I'll bet you'd know exactly what type of character Quaid plays, and you'd be right. In the New Jersey setting he plays a crazy shell-shocked Vietnam veteran who is impossible to live next door to. In the Idaho setting he plays the twin of this character who is also a crazy (mostly anti-social) person who is impossible to live next door to. So yeah, Quaid kinda does his usual thing which wasn't that far off his Cousin Eddie character from the National Lampoon's franchise.

The moving company is (of course) represented as a bunch of criminal types that, for some reason, Arlo is unable to get rid of. Arlo turns them away on first impressions but when he goes to another company the same guys turn up! Anyone with sense would just keep looking but Arlo goes with them. The movers themselves are obviously completely over the top with their dodgy appearances and behaviour, King Kong Bundy being one of the most outrageous. Then you have the innocent and apparently squeaky clean Brad (Dana Carvey) who Arlo hires to drive his precious Saab across the country. Naturally he turns out to have a personality disorder and wrecks the car. It's all pretty straight forward stuff.

Everything here is ramped up to ridiculous degrees for obvious comedic effect. So much so that it kinda seems a little too daft to be honest. This is why movies like 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' are so good because they are funny and very relatable. Most could probably recall a time when something similar did happen on a journey, or when you met an odd person as in the film. But this movie goes too far, it gets too stupid. Randy Quaid's characters are amusing and probably the most realistic if you are very unfortunate, but the whole dodgy moving company and Dana Carvey character are beyond silly really.

Add to that the various daft occurrences that befall Arlo besides these characters. The fact they buy this lovely house off an elderly couple only to find the place completely stripped of everything, right down to the actual stairs and doors, is amusing but insane. They even take the swimming pool leaving a big hole. Then you have this pretty lame (unwarranted) action sequence with Arlo chasing the moving vehicle on the highway which is so obviously done at a slow speed with obvious stunt doubles. Again it's another silly moment that is unrelatable and looks silly and fake. And then right at the end Arlo manages to turn his new crazy neighbour around from his unsociable ways purely by scaring him with his large dog? Eh?? A bit of a convenient wrap for that entire saga. Apparently Quaid's crazy twin character suddenly has newfound respect for Arlo...because he used his big dog on him?

Anyway the movie is clearly not supposed to be taken seriously and obviously a deliberately goofy affair. It's a comedy vehicle for Pryor to flex his comedic muscles. Unfortunately this could have been so much better in my opinion. The idea is there but the execution is just sloppy and dumb. Sure it's funny watching Arlo snap and get tough with everyone, but at the same time it's just silly because it's not really very realistic (again I must refer back to that John Hughes classic). Granted the movie did succeed in making me feel uncomfortable and somewhat nervous as I watched Arlo's life crumble, so there's that. But overall I really feel this would have been better if it were more grounded with less lunacy. Great original poster though, really draws you in.