Monday, January 05, 2015

Quickies 1-5-2015

47 Ronin ~ The tale of the forty-seven Ronin that has been fictionalized in dozens of versions in various media was actually based on real events in the 18th century. This American version, with a half-breed swordsman played by Keanu Reeves at its center, is more fiction than fact, with its demons, witches, and strange creatures. It moves very slowly with little special effects or fight sequences to balance the quieter parts. See the 1962 Toshiro Mifune version, it's vastly superior.

Divergent ~ I know this isn't The Hunger Games, but I kept being reminded of that film franchise as I watched, and not just because it was based on a YA book series, or stars Shailene Woodley, the poor man's Jennifer Lawrence. I was excited by the premise, the concept, and especially the class struggle set-up, but once Tris begins her training as one of the Dauntless, it became boring to me. Any further plot complication was predictable and I couldn't wait for it to end. I doubt I'll be reading the books or seeing the sequels.

Queen of Outer Space ~ There's not much about this 1958 scifi B-movie that isn't recycled. The wardrobe is from Forbidden Planet, the sets and some special effects sequences from World Without End, the impressive blast off footage is from a newsreel, and the script that floated around Hollywood for several years is lifted from Abbott and Costello Go to Mars. Add in some cheesy dialogue, campy acting, good old 1950s sexism, and the indestructible Zsa Zsa Gabor, and you've got yourself a movie. So bad, it's good.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb ~ This one starts strong, with almost a Stargate-like opening, then falls apart quickly thereafter. Do we ever really get to find out what the actual 'secret of the tomb' is? Obviously intended as a farewell to the franchise, I think it works much better as a hand off from Ben Stiller to Rebel Wilson. Hell, I would much rather watch these flicks with Rebel as the star than Stiller, and Ricky Gervais is always genius, even when he's not trying. Most poignant are the Robin Williams scenes, possibly his last film appearances, because he's saying goodbye in character. It's hard not to shed a tear. Worth seeing if only for Robin, Rebel, and Ricky.

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