ReReview: Female on the Beach (1955)

025192118982OH MY GOSH LADY CALL THE COPS. (throw him out first). (and before that, make him give you back his key.) (and then, buy a gun.) OH MY GOSH. This isn’t going to end well.
EFF OFF, YOU CREEPY LITTLE F*CKER!

Although it’s no wonder he’s got an inflated opinion of himself, if he knows he’s able to drive women to attempted murder-suicide and this isn’t even a chick he slept with….this really isn’t going to end well.

Ladies, when you are talking to a creepy little f*cker, even if he’s managing to be less creepy and explain himself, DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR BEING QUOTE RUDE UNQUOTE. Especially when he’s explaining to you that he’s a gigolo who is chasing you for your money and oh yes he was involved with the previous tenant, who, BY THE WAY, fell to her death mysteriously FROM YOUR BALCONY. Two days ago. I mean, seriously, they haven’t even fixed the railing yet, good grief!

(This isn’t going to end well.)

Zing! I like this detective. He’s going to be the guy who picks up all the pieces afterwards, isn’t he? (Unless he’s the AKTUAL MURDERER, but I doubt that.)

EFF OFF YOU CREEPY LITTLE F*CKER! AND TAKE YOUR PUSHERS WITH YOU…oh good, she sent them packing. BUT NOT HIM, SHEESH LADY. Oh, this isn’t going to end well….Oh. Kay. Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

Getting zinged by the cleaning lady: you ain’t doing well.

Lady, that’s just embarassing. All that? At your age?

OKAY, the detective is definitely smelling fishy, and it isn’t because of the shark hook.

Okay, we have now progressed to a) romantic bridal carrying, b) the detectives now have binoculars. What the heck is up with this movie?

You pimps are annoying.

I’m on Team Detective….

This scene in its native tongue:
– Meow grr hiss.
– Meow?
– Hissss
– Meow, mew, mew, licks paw.
– HISS! HISSSS YOWL GRRRR! YOWL!
– licks paw, cleans ear, licks paw again: mew?
Hissssss, flicks tail, leaves, tail still flicking.
As entertaining as that was, in hindsight, it’s kind of obvious that the writers didn’t actually know how to end this script and were fishing around for an actual villain.

AGGH GROSS IT’S A KISSING SCENE FAST FORWARD IT ewww!

Ugh you pimps are really annoying. Ahaha. Gosh. That guy’s even more of an obvious loser than Drummond is.

Okay, explain to me how you managed to knock him all the way to the floor with one slap? He’s a foot taller than you and made of stacked muscle. Seriously? You also gave him a concussion??

Gah, I really hate you catty lady. Oh no! She switched them! She set them up it was her doing OH MY GOSH!

Oh, and the detective is watching.

(Oh whew she’s okay. ((How did she make it out the water without even getting her hair wet?)))

Ugh gross it’s another kissing scene.

Well, that was underwhelming. I expected someone was going to die.

Rated: it’s a romance, we’ll be generous. 3/5 stars.

Gunsmoke (1953) – Movie reReview

gunsmoke-movie-poster-1953-1020199995Audie Murphy and Susan Cabot, who collaborated at least two other times, in Duel at Silver Creek and Ride Clear of Diablo, are the leads in this lightweight but thoroughly well-made and entertaining movie. Also in it is Charles Drake, the white knight to Audie’s black knight in No Name on the Bullet. All of those are extremely good movies. Just about all of Audie’s works are on the + side of B or at least the – side of A.

This one is an easy A if you ask me.

So, this one is about a young gun, Reb Kittridge, drifting into Billings after having made a quick and escape from Johnson County. He’s got a job lined up in Billings, but the situation grows rapidly murky when someone takes a potshot at him before he even gets into town, he meets the daughter of his presumptive target, Rita Saxon (Cabot), and then declines a gunfight with Old Man Saxon (since he hasn’t actually been formally hired yet.) This sort of behavior endears him greatly to Old Man Saxon–who used to be a hellraiser himself, and remembers what it was like to be a young gun who wants out and just needs a leg up…

Anyhow, the bad guy wants the Saxon ranch; Saxon doesn’t want to sell; Kittridge kind of wants to be done with this whole gunslinging business, blah blah blah…so Saxon “loses” his ranch to Reb in a game of cards (“complete with morgage,” heh.)

So now, the burden of the plot is on Audie to get his cattle to market by hook or by crook, with Telford (the bad guy) breathing down his neck and Rita’s bushwacking fiance also causing trouble. Also, Reb’s erstwhile friends have now become business rivals and are now trying to murder him. Better yet, the Saxon ranch genuinely is in a peck of trouble, mortgaged, facing a tight deadline, and low on men and beef both (“That’s your problem, son.” Hehhh.) Oh yeah, and there isn’t even enough money to make payroll for all the men who are about to quit, HAH.

And even better still, Miss Saxon is not at all pleased with the change of management in her home.

And so the fun begins…

– It’s actually kind of a bad look to be picking a fight with a man six inches shorter than you, Curly…
– That being said, Audie (briefly) going berserk on some stuntmen is a definite highlight.
– Rita in some really 50s’ underwear and an incredibly pointy bustier, is also, as Kittridge points out, also worth looking at. I mean…corsets, man. Just…corsets.
– Old Man Saxon has a pretty good role, fatherly, calm, and stalwart…but also slyly running the whole show from the back seat the whole damn time.

There really isn’t all that much more to say about this movie, other than it’s well-written, is acted with distinction and great prowess, moves quickly, is fun and occasionally, genuinely clever. It’s a credit to its genre and you ought to give it a watch.

Rated: See ya round, Johnny.

Primarily, Avatar

Dracula (1979) – Frank Langella as Count Dracula, Donald Pleasance as Dr. Seward, Lawrence Olivier as Prof. Van Helsing. I actually watched this a couple weeks ago and was favorably impressed. I might add that I had a fever at the time, but as adaptations that senselessly change things go, this was still fairly….dignified. Olivier and Langella both do very well. Jonathan Harker also has a prominent role that would have been even better if he had been framed as, y’know, the hero.

– My Cousin Rachel (1952) – Eh.

– Shadow of the Vampire  (?) – I watched a bit of this and then wandered back off, it missed the mark.  The vampire actor asking for more makeup was amusing, though.

– I’ll stick this one here because otherwise it might get missed: Tower of Silence – Larry Correia – the 4th book in his Saga of the Forgotten Warrior – has been released in eARC form. This is an un-copyedited, un-modified draft as directly turned by by Correia to his publisher, so there were some noticeable spelling glitches, etc; the official release is in April of this year. Without getting into spoilers: this book is excellent, mostly because it is the beginning of the end. Answers are beginning to show up; the plot is starting to coalesce; Crown, Mask, and Demons are assembling; Voice and Priest are in position, and the General is on his way. Now, if there wasn’t that small problem of Thera’s not quite-ex-enough-husband showing up….

– Avatar: the Way of Water (2022) – I watched about 1.5~2 hours of this and got bored and left. It’s extremely pretty, yes. If you ever wanted to watch a nature documentary set on a hostile world, this is the movie for you. Watch it in theatres. Oh, also, I liked Quarich (the rough, tough, super-macho military bad guy) way, way, wayyyyy better than any other character in the entire movie…first movie, and second. Neytiri actually also wasn’t bad? Surprisingly. Also-also, the military-Na’vi avatars wearing Oakleys cracked me up. Anyhow, I didn’t like the movie because:

  • It’s extremely dumb. (Y no bulletproof glass in your helicopters? NO, SERIOUSLY, WHY DO YOU NOT HAVE BULLETPROOF GLASS IN ANY OF YOUR VEHICLES? I CANNOT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE BULLETPROOF GLASS IN THEIR MECHAS, HELICOPTERS, MAGLEV TRAINS, OR SUPERGIANT BULLDOZERS. ON AN ALIEN PLANET WITH AN ACTIVE INSURRECTION…..WHY?!?! Why send small guerilla force unfamiliar with local hostile terrain to combat large guerilla force familiar with terrain and extremely hostile? Y not have anti-flying hostile bird guns mounted on important stuff, like trains? Why are your trains transporting weapons that the guerillas can take and use against you, excuse me, WHAT. The brain, it melts trying to comprehend the stupidity of the scriptwriters, who think that this is logical behavior for functional human beings.)
  • The story, such as it is, is also extremely poorly thought out. The leader–the warleader , without whose tactical knowledge any resistance against the more high-tech opponent will fail–runs away with his tail literally between his legs when his family is threatened. Not: he sends his family away to safety and stays himself. Not: he whups the snot out of his dumbass teenagers who walked themselves and the younger kids directly into a trap. No, he abandons his post, his people who rely on him (and wasn’t he the one who started the all-out war in the first movie, anyway?), and he runs away to go swim with the fishes. Meanwhile, humans–who have functional FTL travel, and cryosleep–have decided that a marginally habitable planet WITH AN UNBREATHABLE ATMOSPHERE AND ALSO INTELLIGENT ALIENS PERFORMING AN ACTIVE, VIOLENT INSURRECTION  is going to be the new home of humanity. Guys. Guys. Find another planet and move the fuck on.
  • It appears that unobtanium is no longer a thing.
  • It’s anti-human propaganda. I could rant about this for a while, but: it’s anti-human propaganda. There is no greater condemnation. Do not consume.
  • Unless you really, really, want to watch the pretty. Traitor.

Movie (re)Review – Remember the Night

maxresdefaultRemember The Night is  a “Isn’t Christmas Wonderful”-genre holiday special, wrapped in a noir-style trench coat and fedora.

The incomparable Barbara Stanwyck (Cry Wolf) and the damn fine Fred MacMurray (Quantez, Double Indemnity) star as a thieving dame who got sticky fingers once too often, and the prosecuting attorney whose job it is to land her in jail.

MacMurray (John Sargent) has something of a reputation to maintain: he’s the best in the department at getting female defendants convicted. Accordingly, when, just before Christmas, he sees the jury about to acquit, he…calls for a recess. The jurors will feel obliged to him for giving them Christmas off, resentful towards Stanwyck (Lee) for having dragged them back to the box, and in the post-holiday gloom are much more likely to give him his conviction. However, there is no heart so cold but knows a touch of pity, and seeing poor Lee fuming and frustrated about spending Christmas in jail, arranges to bail her out.

And then, since she doesn’t have money or a place to stay–or pocket money for a meal–takes her out to dinner. And then, since it turns out they are both native Indiana-ians, arranges to take her home for Christmas. Even though this technically means that he is transporting a felon across state lines.

Hijinx ensue….and they’re going to spend the honeymoon at the Niagara Falls.

There really isn’t any much more to this say about the movie than that, except to add that, did we mention, it stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray at the top of their noir-sharp dialogue game and enjoying themselves enormously. Such as when they have to make a fast exit from a hick judge:

Sargent: You threw a lighted match into the wastebasket?
Lee: Well, I wasn’t aiming for the spittoon.
Sargent: You know that’s called arson?
Lee: [faux-aghast] Nooo! I thought that was when you bit somebody!

Or Lee, dismissing the suggestion that it’s kleptomania behind her thieving ways: “Well, they tried that. But you see, you can’t turn around and try to fence the stuff afterwards. They take away your amateur status, then.” Or Sargent’s completely deadpan explanation to his mother that Lee is actually a petty crook who is out on bail….no, Mother, I wasn’t joking. And it’s not even a first offense.

So: good stuff, adroitly packaged, funny, fun, heartwarming, perfectly cast, and perfectly pleasing in every way. They don’t make movie stars like this any more, and they don’t make movies for them any more.

Rated: …we’re at Niagara Falls right now, darling.

Movie (re)Review – Best of the Badmen (1951)

Best of the Badmen was released in 1951, is a Western, and stars Robert Ryan, Claire Trevor, and Walter Brennan, in case you needed to know any of that.

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This movie was indecisive.

It’s got good filming/staging/cinematography. (Look, I am easy to please. If the colors are pretty and there are lots of them, I am happy.) It’s got good fight choreography (Robert Ryan was a collegiate boxer and knew how to throw a punch). It’s got some pretty top-notch actors–Walter Brennan in particular underplays his usual humorous old-timer role with an almost villainous edge, to interesting effect. On the other hand, there are times when the actors–especially Robert Ryan–nail their parts effortlessly, and then there are times when they don’t. If they’d all gone full-throttle, all the time, it might have smoothed over the deficiencies of the script and made it better overall.

Anyhow, it’s also got an intriguing concept for a plot: post the Civil War, the man (Jeff Clanton, Robert Ryan) who brings in Quantrill’s Raiders (you know–Jesse James and the like) peacefully, is double-crossed or outfoxed or whatever, by the evil carpetbagger-slash-Pinkerton, Fowler. Fowler wants the rewards on the Jameses and Youngers; when Clanton refuses to hand them over, has him found guilty of murder in a kangaroo court and sentenced to hang. However, after Mrs. Fowler (Claire Trevor) breaks him out of jail and he hooks up with the outlaws, the once peaceable Clanton is hell-bent for revenge on Fowler. (Only Fowler–he doesn’t care about the money.) Also, Mrs. Fowler has also taken refuge in the outlaw town–incognito–and hooks up with Clanton. Dum-de-dum, something something outlaw raid, oh, and maintain your humanity and let’s escape to Mexico but not until I. Get. Fowler.

So you can see there is much that could be of interest there. However, it’s got a script that doesn’t quite pull together as well as it should, and can’t decide whether it is going to be dumb but competent and occasionally witty, or dumb but moralizing and dramatic. It settles on dramatic….and dumb.

Pros: The characters are well-sketched. Walter Brennan, playing an antiheroic twist on his usual role, is quite good. Even the outlaws, who usually would be consigned to a surly bunch in the background, are fairly distinctive and have a certain amount of personality. Claire Trevor (rather zaftig and looking glam in period costume) does fine in an ambiguous but also slightly underwritten role. Jack Beutel, as the sidekick, is good at being A Good Kid.–which, if that name sounds vaguely familiar, yes indeed he was Billy the Kid in the 1943 horrorshow The Outlaw. He’s wayyyyy better in this movie. [This is not difficult.]

Cons: The script is a lot stupider than it needs to be and there is the distinct impression at points that the actors knew it, too. Oh, and the ending is abrupt, moralistic, and pretty darned unsatisfying. Other than that, it’s a good little movie.

Rated: Oh, and Robert Ryan has a shirtless scene.

Quik(re)review – The 13th Letter (1951)

the-13th-letter-md-webSo I (re)watched The 13th Letter – a 1951 movie directed by Otto Premiger (you know, the name you know from lots of better movies such as Fallen AngelLauraWhere the Sidewalk Ends and…River of No Return? Huh.) and starring an underwritten Linda Darnell, a bored Charles Boyer, and Michael Rennie’s cheekbones as the hero.

It’s about a (very) tall, handsome, young, unmarried doctor who has set up in a small Canadian town and is just starting to settle himself and his clock collection in comfortably. The settling-in process is interrupted by a series of poison pen letters accusing him of an affair with Charles Boyer’s wife. This is, of course, nonsense, because Rennie has Linda Darnell throwing herself at him in a negligee and it’s getting harder and harder to dodge. But things get decidedly serious when one of the letters’ receivers commits suicide on being told he has cancer. Everyone is a suspect now–from the incompetent hospital nurse who is Boyer’s spurned ex and Boyer’s sister-in-law, to Darnell’s snide younger sister, to Linda Darnell herself. And what is the terrible trauma which lurks in our hero’s past…?

The reveal is two-fold, and actually rather more satisfying than you’d expect. It’s even been cunningly foreshadowed by Boyer’s doctor character explaining to another about this weird psychological condition known as folie a deux…

All that said, it’s still a bit underwritten. There’s enough story here for a TV episode, not really for a movie. Linda Darnell has barely anything to do except look alternately sultry and sulky, and there’s nothing whatsoever to make the romance between her and Rennie interesting other than both parties’ good looks. The central mystery is, fittingly, the most intriguing part of the story; but it’s a little hampered by the fact that there are really only two strong suspects and neither of them get any focus. Inserting more plot–such as making the “investigation” less laughable–would have provided more interest, and more room for all characters to explore and expand. It didn’t, it wasn’t, they couldn’t, and ultimately this movie is….a bit underwritten, and its cast members–who totally did have the ability to take what they were given and deliver on it–were good-looking but underserved.

Rated: I’m going to do something productive with my day any minute now. Annnny minute now.

Misc + QuikReviews: No Time to Die, Oblivion

The area my parents are from has an industry based on three things: cows, chickens, and flea markets. That being said, it does pay to patiently check all the bookshelves when you browse your way through:

  • The Conquest of Mexico – Bernal Diaz del Castillo
  • The Horse and His Boy – C. S. Lewis (apparently I’m assembling a Narnia collection piecemeal)
  • Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the Double Bumblebee Sting – E. Erickson (to be delivered to the homeschool group, which will ignore it because those kids are hopeless.)

We also watched:

  • Oblivion (2013) – For a non-scifi person, The Mother of Skaith is rather surprisingly good at picking out the influences of one movie and another.
    • “They stole that from Star Trek!”
    • “This is like that other movie! The one with Sean Bean and whats-his face!”
    • “Sandpeople!”
    • “When was this made?”
  • No Time to Die (2021) – I have several thoughts about this movie.
    • The Mother of Skaith had thoughts about this movie, too, and they are:
      • “I do not like him as James Bond! He is an ugly person!”
      • “That is not Q! That little student person is Q? Q should be a distinguished figure.”
      • “What! James Bond does not have a child! That is not Bond.”
        “He probably has multiple kids, you know.”
        “James Bond does not have kids.”
    • Anyhow, this isn’t a very good James Bond movie. It’s an okayish “grizzled ex-spy gets pulled in for One Last Job” movie, but that still leaves it with some fundamental structural problems.
    • It’s aimed at a female audience. Female audiences are interested in things like feelings, emotional speeches, characters making emotional connections with each other, and families. They aren’t interested in things like: spycraft, cars, motorcycles, helicopters, gunfights (loud), tactical weapony procedural stuff (boring), problem solving under pressure (scary!), or stuff blowing up (ugh, come on). That stuff is boring, and they like to skip past it as quickly as possible to get back to the good stuff.
      • Mind, having emotional connections and character growth in your movie is good stuff, don’t mistake. Fights do get boring when there aren’t any personal stakes involved–such as people that we care about being endangered….and we have to legitimately care about them. My personal favorite action scene in the movie is where Bond attempts to draw off pursuit from his love interest and daughter. Bond legitimately cares about these people, and so, consequently, do we.
      • Bond and Paloma taking a moment for drinks in the middle of a gunfight was also a nice classic-film-Bondish moment.
    • The fundamental structural problem with skipping to the good stuff is that the conflicts are set to “easy mode.” The climax of the movie is Bond trying to a) stop the bad guy, b) rescue his family. a) is pretty simple. b) should require some effort, as both love interest and kid are in separate places under guard. But easy mode kicks in and all three manage to wander into each other without having to think, plan, ask questions, or work towards it as a goal.
    • It does not integrate the required male-audience interest stuff well enough to make it a truly unisex viewing experience. If it had it would have been….quite a lot better. And it is possible, at least in my opinion.
      • Seven Swords (2005) is a wuxia movie that is extremely female-audience-oriented. It’s got handsome guys with long flowing hair; shirtless scenes; elaborate costumes; at least two love triangles, one of which is a not-too-bad-looking villain obsessively in love with one of the main characters and the other of which is star-crossed; the action scenes are pretty much all filmed from the POV of the female characters as per the director’s commentary; not to mention that there are multiple well-written, female characters to begin (and end) with. And there’s oodles of wuxia violence, sword fights, fist fights, sword fights with weird swords, fights with weird weapons, fights on horseback, fights upside down between walls, fights where everything is on fire….and so on. So it is possible. (Is a very good movie.)

I also watched:

  • Two Weeks Notice (2002) because I’m still recovering from sickness, OKAY
    • Hugh Grant is actually really good here, making his upper class twit character a charming, intelligent upper class twit. Sandra Bullock is also good; her part is rather obnoxiously written but she makes herself completely likable. Unfortunately, after the first fifteen minutes or so, the script loses headway and never really makes it back up.
    • Although
      “Do you know what other games I like?”
      “Pokemon?”
      “Strip chess.”
      “….that is also a good game.”
      was pretty funny.

The Mandalorian – Eps 1-3 – (Re)Reviewed

mandalorian-poster-detail-cropEp 1: “Ok, so, you have to watch The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian. You know, I can’t believe you! Why are you even watching that–that–garbage!? You know it’s bad. You know what Disney has done to Star Wars.”
“No, it’s actually surprisingly decent.”
“…”
“It is!”
“How can it be Star Wars when it ain’t even got none of the original people in it?”
“What? Look, just watch this gunfight at the end. Watch it!”
[…]
“Wait, wait, wait, why does this look like a Western?”
“Yeah!”
“No!”

Ep 2: “Look, it’s Baby Yoda.”
“Oh my gosh are you buying into that Baby Yoda cr–craziness? It’s aaaaaall over Facebook. All the time. Baby Yoda. Baby Yoda. Baby Yoda. Gah! It’s annoying! What is the big deal with Baby Yoda!?”
“People like Star Wars when it’s done even, y’know, half-way decently well!”
“Baby Yoda. Oh gosh. I can’t believe you.”
“Heh, see, he’s chasing the frog thing. And Mando tells him to spit it out. ’cause, y’know, babies.”
“Oh [hork], he ate it!?”
“You’re acting as though my niece did not just try to eat a dead fly off the windowsill.”
“…that was only once!
“And look at the Jawas! I always liked the Jawas!”
“I can’t believe you.”
“You gotta watch the whole thing, there’s a bit where he’s fighting this creature and he goes through each of his weapons–he goes through his rifle, and then his sidearm, and then his flamethrower, and then the mud-horn is y’know, getting ready for the charge and he’s like all beaten-up and on one knee, and all he can do is pull out his knife and get ready for it–and he’s so tired and his hands are shaking, and so he has to steady the knife with both hands as the creature is barreling down on him. It’s awesome.”
“…I don’t get it.”
“…y’know, we can always watch some little Barbie Disney Princess movie if you like instead.”
“Shut up.”
“We can watch My Little Pony!”
“SHUT UP.”

Ep 3: “Wait, so he never takes his helmet off?”
“This is the way.”
“His skin must be horrible.”
“…”
“I mean, imagine if he has dandruff. His hair must be sooo greasy and then he has to keep putting the same helmet back on again. It would never get a chance to get better. Ew.”
“…”
“Maybe he has like a beanie or something he wears under it and he can change that out. Like a helmet liner. Do they have helmet liners? Why are you looking at me like that? He’s the one who said he don’t ever take his helmet off!”
“SO THE GUNFIGHT HERE IS REALLY COOL, YEAH?”
“Yeah, it’s okay. But it’s still not as good as real Star Wars.”
“It’s the best we’re gonna get, and they were making an effort. They’re actively trying to do the story right, and, and, when they do insult your intelligence, it’s unintentional.”
“But there’s no lightsabers. It can’t really be Star Wars without lightsabers!”
Star Wars is technically–”
“It ain’t Star Wars unless it’s the original movies with the original cast, with the original director making it.”
“The movies had different directors.”
“You know what I mean! No lightsabers, no Star Wars! No George Lucas!”
Star Wars is science fiction. You don’t need lightsabers. You just need spaceships and blasters. And George Lucas sold out to Disney for four billion dollars.”
“Hmph. And also! There’s no Jedi. And there’s no Luke or Leia. Or Han.”
“You have Mando! And Baby Yoda! They are introducing new characters to Expand the Universe! And
can you imagine how they’d screw it up if they did have Luke and Leia?”
“Oh. Well. Yeah.”
“And Baby Yoda is very cute.”
“It looks realllllllly fake.”
“Yeah, it really does.”

QuikReiew: Black Adam (2022)

So I decided to watch Black Adam despite some reservations (i.e.: I didn’t want to pay money for it, because I knew it wouldn’t be worth it.) I was not wrong. This movie is really not worth paying money for, because obviously the studio execs didn’t think it was, either. At least, they didn’t think paying for a script was, and boy howdy does it show.

There’s isn’t really a plot, for one. There’s a series of vaguely-connected scenes with people telling Teth-Adam that He Must Be A Hero! and Save Khandaq! From INTERGANG! (Who are mercenaries with actually wicked sweet hoverbikes, MAN those things are cool, where can I get one and why haven’t they shown up in any movie before or after?) or, From….uh….them! or from…uh…resurrected demon king guy!

These scenes all play out the same way, too: someone (usually Annoying Kid) tells Teth-Adam that Khandaq needs a hero! Adam responds that he is no hero, leave him alone, and floats off in a random direction; at which point someone else will threaten the Annoying Skateboard Kid or his Woke Mother, and then there will be another smashy-lightning-buildings collapse scene. And this pattern gets very tiresome, very quickly.

Does the movie succeed in introducing and defining its main character? Surprisingly, for the most part, yes. However….it’s about twenty minutes of backstory stretched over an entire two hour movie, without any plot for said character to act on, which would make its inclusion meaningful. This movie could have been condensed down to a ninety minutes and greatly improved. Hell, it could have been condensed down to forty-five minutes and made a TV pilot episode. The fights get that boring after about the fifteenth one.

Does the movie succeed in introducing and defining its secondary characters? To an extent–and no further. Pierce Brosnan shines as Doctor Fate, whom I am guessing is the DC variant of Doctor Strange. He elevates every scene and all the material he’s given, purely by effort of being a good actor who can handle mediocre-at-best dialogue, and also by getting some good reaction shots in. Whats-his-face, as Hawkman….didn’t fare nearly as well, but: he tried. (Incidentally, if you have wind-based powers, and any kind of textured hair, you would ABSOLUTELY keep said hair in a tight protective style. Anyway.)

And one of the things that definitely drags the movie down hard is the presence of Annoying Skateboard Kid and his Woke Mother. Those two are insufferable, and besides being completely unlikable, they’re flat, insipid, and omnipresent. Like, seriously, I have no words to describe how extraneous these people are, and yet the movie insists that they remain vital to the (non-existant) plot. (“Teth-Adam, you have got to be a hero!” “No.” Boom, thud, swoosh, etc.)

Are there any good things about this movie? Eh. It’s not horrible. It’s just not good, at all. If I want to watch an series of strung-together action scenes, I’ll watch Final Fantasy: Advent Children.

Rated: that’s eight dollars I will not see again in a hurry, more’s the pity.

QuikReview: Alfred the Great

alfredthegreatdvdcover_front_1200x1200(reposted)

When making an epic, several ingredients are absolutely necessary. One of them is faces that look authentic for your era and location, or which, in a pinch, just look authentically something. Another is a slightly ponderous style which modern-day Hollywood has forgotten. Long takes in the middle or far distance are essential, especially long takes with a moving camera and natural lighting (nice scenery is a plus). Then you need actors who can hold up to this style, maintaining their poise and staying in-character through extended moments of silence. If they can continue to actually act during those pauses, so much the better. Then, a script of the sort which must be enunciated clearly and with good diction. A really great soundtrack is an absolute must. Quite important is color and set dressing. Historical accuracy is not all that important.

This movie scores highly but not perfectly in almost all categories. It’s soundtrack is not particularly great (in fact it’s barely there at all), and the script has occasional clunky stretches which no amount of dignified, clever diction can save. Otherwise, I give it an 8/10. All the faces are well-cast and suited to their roles, the actors commit to their lines; the camera moves slowly and smoothly; costumes and sets are convincingly medieval without being uniformly muck-brown (thank God.) I’m not really worked up over this movie, but it’s worth a watch and perhaps a rewatch.

Thoughts:

Oh, that’s neat. The first battle is set at the the Uffington White Horse!

Alfred to his father-in-law: “If you try to run away, I shall have you executed.”
Father-in-law: “By God…ah think ye mean it! [to self, rubbing chin]…but that’s if he can find me…”

As total burns go, “The son she bore you calls him father,” has got to be one of the worst there is.

Hey….is that Michael York under that moustache?

WAIT A MINUTE, THAT IS DEFINITELY IAN MCKELLEN! OH MY WORD. HE YOUNG.

If you need one character to give a lengthy monologue to empty space to make their feelings clear to the audience, your script isn’t good enough.

There’s a pitiful lack of wild-haired savage sidekicks in fiction these days. Wild-haired savage sidekicks are the best.

Rated: An tara an tara tan!