Archive for the ‘movies’ category

“The Shape of Water” is Extraordinary!

December 7, 2017

It’s being called everything from a sympathetic re-telling of “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” to an origins story for the Abe Sapien character from Hellboy, but by most accounts The Shape of Water is one of the best films that Guillermo del Toro has produced.  

Set circa 1962 during the depths of the Cold War, the fantasy drama concerns the unlikely relationship between a mute female custodian, Elisa,  and an intelligent amphibious humanoid creature torn from South America and kept in a secret government laboratory in Baltimore.  It’s readily believable for any dabbler in government conspiracy theories.  Called “the Asset” by his captors, the being faces exploitation and eventual “harvesting” in order that his biology might be further studied and applied to the space program.  As their relationship deepens, the humble cleaning lady resolves to take action to save a unique individual from captivity and worse…and “the Asset” has additional capabilities of his own…

The film works on many levels, and is rightfully up for numerous awards.  Seeing it might be the best Xmas present that you could give yourself!

Advertisements

Kong:  Skull Island

March 15, 2017

Magnificent, isn’t he? – – And that’s as it should be, because it’s hard to imagine an imaginary creature with the history and pedigree of King Kong.  This is not a “monster,” but rather royalty…and from his cinematic origins in the 1930’s original, Kong has spawned a variety of movies, such as the 1976 and 2005 versions.  Nothing breeds imitation like success…

While we aren’t going back to the world of 1933 in this version, it’s set in the era of 1973, and is part King Kong reboot and part homage to such Vietnam era movies as Apocalypse Now and Platoon, complete with period cultural references.  The movie runs almost two hours, and we’re introduced to the big guy after about half an hour. Most of the human characters are two dimensional stereotypes and are basically monster chow, although such notables as John Goodman appear as a “tinfoil hat” crazy theorist. There’s lots of good mayhem, with Kong not only taking on humans but also a giant octopus and Huey gunships, one of which he spikes like a volleyball.  We visit also a gigantic water buffalo and enormous ants; Kong isn’t even the baddest creature to inhabit this lost world.

Kong:  Skull Island is also a launching pad for a “MonsterVerse” of additional but related movies which will include the re-emergence of Godzilla, and of course the inevitable battle royal between these two cinematic icons.  It should be a fun ride, and it’s playing now in theaters…

 

The Legend of Tarzan…

March 22, 2016

 

wp-1458332095181.jpeg

Every so often, the buff guy in the loincloth is reinvented for a new generation.  In the upcoming “The Legend of Tarzan” flick, the Lord of the Jungle is actually returning to his old digs in the Congo as a trade emissary of Parliament, following a time of luxury and privilege as a London aristocrat.  He’s unaware that he’s a pawn in a Belgian captain’s deadly plot. ..

The preview clips I’ve seen look promising, with the CGI apes looking as good and realistic as those in the “Planet of the Apes” franchise minus the clothing and English language capabilities. Time is devoted to the Tarzan “origins” story, and the African landscapes and animals are magnificent. And yes, we do hear the legendary Tarzan yell, and see the Jungle Lord swinging on vines and making awesome leaps.

Not to lose out on the jungle thing, Disney is apparently coming out with a new version of the Jungle Book, so everything old is new again…

“Zootopia” is coming!

February 10, 2016

 

 

 

wp-1455063017760.jpeg

 

Imagine a world in which “humans never happened,” and you have the central premise of Disney’s upcoming 3D computer animated feature, Zootopia.  Now the mammals which dominate are anthropomorphic, which to the uninitiated means they are human-like intelligent bipedal creatures who use language, wear clothing, and employ technology in a civilized society.  This is a familiar realm to a card-carrying furry like myself; my world, and welcome to it!

Now two of the central characters include Judy Hopps, a rookie police officer rabbit and a red fox called Nick Wilde (played by Jason Bateman), described as being a small-time con artist (while I prefer to consider him as sly). Together the two form an unlikely alliance to solve the case of a missing otter.

The result is a buddy comedy/adventure with a large cast of animal characters that include a gazelle pop star and a noble lion mayor. Opening in early March, you’ve never seen anything like Zootopia be-fur…

Shaun the Sheep!

August 6, 2015

wpid-wp-1438877143634.jpeg

Although a smaller sheep, Shaun the Sheep has leadership written all over him, and would probably be a better presidential candidate than most of the Republican field.  A break-out character from the third Wallace & Gromit short, ‘A Close Shave,’ Shaun is a resident of the Mossy Bottom Farm who needs some time off from the farm, eventually winding up with the flock in the Big City (London).  The farmer who pursues them winds up hospitalized with amnesia, and it falls to Shaun to free the farmer, return home, and restore the normal order of things.

Remarkably, this can be done without dialogue save for the odd sound effect and musical score.  Visual humor is key, with references made to The Shawshank Redemption, The Silence of the Lambs, and even The Wolverine.  We also learn that sheep, long under-rated creatures, can sing harmony.

Other films from Aardman Animations include Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run.  The resourceful Shaun also has his own television show in the United Kingdom…

Wooden Personalities?

August 1, 2014

image

I’ve always found it fairly easy to ascribe to the notion of sentient plant life.  I swear that the weeds are implementing a master plan to take over my lawn and garden, and mock me when I seek to eradicate them.  “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can imagine!,” cry their tiny voices in my ears, echoing old Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars.  If you would look for examples of intelligent plant life in movies or on the small screen, consider the carnivorous alien Audrey II plant from Little Shop of Horrors, the Triffids, the Jolly Green Giant, and a host of others.  We just haven’t had a good sentient plant around recently.

Fortunately, we have the character of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy coming to our rescue!  Yeah, I know he’s essentially a sentient tree, but he does appear with a raccoon, so he merits mention here.  Furthermore, Groot is voiced by none less than Vin Diesel, so you know that this is a plant to be reckoned with!  While Groot is integral to the action of Guardians, he isn’t much of a talker, saying only one three-word line in the entire movie (“I am Groot!“).  Still, Vin Diesel voiced that line in several languages for movie outtakes, and even wore stilts coming in to the recording studio so as to better assume more of the character’s stature…and you thought that method acting was dead!

I’ve always liked the actor as an action hero, although some might say that his performance here is a bit…wooden, ahahahaha!

Godzilla Fiat Commercial…

June 3, 2014

Godzilla Fiat

“He’s back…and it looks like he’s craving Italian!” – –  Well, who could blame him, right?!

Movie tie-in commercials are usually terrible, but for this one, we’ll make an exception!  A city street is shown devastated, as if a war is going on…well, one is, but with the King of Monsters!  Godzilla, whose fortunes are on the rise with the new re-boot of his franchise, is clearly in control, buildings crumbling around him and hardly bothering with the pesky small-arms fire being directed against him ( foolish humans, when will they ever learn?).  Attacking a city does make a guy hungry, however, and the big guy is tossing small cars down his gullet.  Along then comes a bright yellow Fiat packed with people, and it too is thrown down Godzilla’s gargantuan hatch like a Cheeto…

…but wait!  Is it too much to swallow?!  The big guy vomits the Fiat back up, completely undamaged, and it hits the ground running flawlessly, spinning away. – –  Is it because Fiats taste terrible? – – No, it’s just because they’re surprisingly big, you see!  I guess that size does matter, after all…and next time, Godzilla, chew each bite before swallowing!