(2008) – I had no interest in seeing this movie until I found it that it involved a chase scene with a Dodge Viper, a car that has always been my favorite. The Viper chase was pretty good (not great), but was over in the first 15 minutes of the film - the rest of the movie was downhill from there. The set-up was actually half-way interesting, but the execution (no pun intended) was boring, predictable, and over laden with CGI. The problem is that the film wants to be something like “Fight Club” with mutant powers and lore. And while I put up with the tenuous-at-best premise for the first half hour, the whole film devolves for the remaining 90 minutes or so until reaching a painfully inane final scene.
Grade: 1.5/5White Zombie
(1932) – When I discovered that this was the very first film to feature zombies, it quickly jumped to the top of my “must see” list. Take a pair of newlyweds in Haiti, a haunting film score, some innovative and effective editing, throw in a classic Bela Lugosi performance and you have the makings of a not-to-be missed horror masterpiece. The story itself is probably the weakest component of the film, but it is competent and interesting enough to hold your attention. This is the kind of film that both horror movie fans and students of classic film can enjoy while viewing and then appreciate even more when reading about it afterwards (e.g. it was an independent film, Lugosi had lots of creative input, etc.). This is a public domain film, by the way, and can be downloaded or streamed here: http://www.archive.org/details/WhiteZombie
Grade: 3.5/5The Enforcer
(1976) – I’m continuing to plow my way through the Dirty Harry collection, and this is the third film in that set. (For reviews of the first two, check back on p.84 (viewtopic.php?f=15&t=7221&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&start=830
)). I noted after seeing the second film that I hoped that they didn’t continue to decrease in quality – this film confirmed those fears. One of the interesting things about the first two films was the underlying racial and sexual tension throughout the force, the city, etc. This film promises to deliver on an exploration of those themes early on, but quickly degenerates into a by-the-book buddy cop story/TV movie of the week without ever relaying anything genuinely interesting about the more complex nuances to the characters or the plot. The scenes with Bradford Dillman are all fairly compelling and help continue to define Eastwood’s Callahan, but the good scenes in this film are easily outnumbered by the bad (like a poorly shot standoff on Alcatraz, a boring foot chase, etc.).
Grade: 2/5Sudden Impact
(1983) – This is more like it. Though there are still some questionable scenes (Harry’s arrival in San Paulo, his decision at the end of the film, etc.), overall the pieces of this film just work together better and produce something on par with Magnum Force
. Getting the lead character out of the usual setting is always a good move by the time a series hits installment number 3 or 4. But the film goes past that and introduced the mafia as a player, has Callahan investigate ethically questionable murders, etc. The film works because it both develops Harry as a character who has conflicting motives and gives him a new environment against which he can sort those motives out – at the end of a gun barrel, as always. More capable directing by Eastwood in this one also makes it stronger than the previous film, though this is far from his best work on either side of the camera.
Grade: 3/5The Yes Men Fix the World
(2009) – My bleeding liberal heart wanted to like this film- I’ve met the Yes Men, saw them present about their work in person (while they were making this film) and generally agree with many of their politics. That said, at the end of the day the genuinely funny moments in the film (most of their pranks are well executed) are undercut by the very problem they acknowledge – they fail to fix anything. I’m all for consciousness raising, but with the exception of their beef with Dow, this film does very little to educate the audience about the causes they are arguing against. So while the humor gets a 3/5 for some genuinely funny moments, the utility of the film as a politically-themed documentary only warrants a 1/5. And though the Yes Men aren’t really after the same causes or using the same methods as Michael Moore, as film makers the could probably learn a few things from the master of humorous political documentaries.
Next Time: More 2008 films that I missed in the theater and are now on cable (Eagle Eye
, maybe Mummy 3
) the last of Dirty Harry, and more classic horror (including delving into the sequels to Coffin Joe’s classic At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul