Tag Archives: movies

Karen Black, Icon of the ’70s, Will Be Missed

9 Aug

KarenBlack TrilogyOfTerrorKarenBlackFP

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationWe lost actress Karen Black yesterday, who died at age 74 after a long struggle with cancer. Although for today’s audience she may stir only vague recognition as a character actor, she was a defining figure of 1970s Hollywood, with key roles in such important films as Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Nashville, and Alfred Hitchcock’s last picture, The Family Plot . Although she worked with the biggest names in Hollywood and appeared in everything from prestigious failures like The Great Gatsby to commercial blockbusters like Airport 1975, ask anybody my age what they remember her most for, and you will likely hear of a little made-for-TV thriller called Trilogy of Terror. Written by sci-fi master and Twilight Zone alum Richard Matheson, Trilogy featured Black in four roles in three separate tales. The first two segments are little remembered, but the third, which had Black trapped in her apartment with a toothy African doll animated with the murderous spirit of a dead Zuni warrior, was the talk of the school cafeteria the next day. It was such unusual, and genuinely frightening, fare for TV of those days that I can still play back in my head the image of that little, knife-wielding warrior jumping out from under the sofa. It was ludicrous, of course, but Karen Black’s terrified responses to a little puppet on a stick sold it. RIP.

Review: ‘Wolverine’ Makes Hugh Jackman an Indestructible Star

8 Aug

Wolverine

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationFor the sixth time and counting, Hugh Jackman plays Marvel mutant superhero The Wolverine.

Ike2What the heck is a wolverine, anyway?

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationLike Lugosi and Dracula, or Karloff and Frankenstein, Hugh Jackman personifies The Wolverine, a.k.a. Logan. It’s hard to imagine any other actor playing the role, yet with high-profile appearances in pictures like The Prestige and Les Miserables, Jackman has somehow managed to avoid the typecasting trap many before him have fallen into.

Ike2Here’s a picture of a wolverine, if anybody is interested: Portrait of Wolverine Captive Summer Canada

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationHmm. Between the claws and the frowny-face, I definitely see a resemblance.

Ike2Plot summary, please.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationWell, The Wolverine is your basic boy-has-immortality, boy loses immortality, boy gets immortality-back scenario.

Ike2That’s the best you can do? I thought it actually had a pretty good story.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationIt does. which makes you wonder how it came out so muddled. A mega-wealthy Japanese industrialist offers Wolverine the “gift” of mortality in a ploy to steal his powers of regeneration so that he himself may live forever. The whole thing of Wolverine becoming vulnerable and facing real, life-threatening danger should have made for a more compelling film, but it’s weighed down with too many characters and confused motivations.

Ike2Like, what was the deal with the Ninja Guy? Whose side was he on? And all those ninjas dancing around and turning flips–they looked like extras from Beverly Hills Ninja.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationThe ninjas were oddly comical. And just to give an idea of what a head-scratcher this movie could be, we are specifically told at one point that Evil Dad (these characters do have actual names, but who cares?) is just  “all right” as a swordsman. So when he gets in a fight with our super-powered hero, we expect him to go down pretty quick, right? Wrong. It soon becomes obvious the only way the regenerating Wolverine is going to beat this guy is if he wears out his sword slicing up Logan’s mutant hide.

Ike2Which made it all the more gracious of Wolvey to allow Evil Dad the “punishment” of living with himself.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationAnd may I please ask, if the bad guys want Logan’s powers, why go through all the rigamarole of making him vulnerable and risking him getting killed, and then taking his powers, when they could have just taken the powers right off and let it go at that?

Ike2But then we would have missed the amazing three-hundred-mile-an-hour bullet train fight!

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationYeah, that was pretty great. Totally unbelievable, but imaginative and entertaining.

Ike2I liked that the movie is set in Japan. That added some real flavor.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationThe tie-in to Nagasaki was nice, too–especially since they didn’t just drop it after the first reel.

Ike2Pardon me, Cecil B. DeMille, did you say, “The first reel?”

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationThey still use that term.

Ike2Do they? Well, it’s an epic motion picture with colossal special effects and a swell supporting cast. The box office should be boffo.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationI’ll ignore that and go with your mention of the supporting cast. Rila Fukushima, as Logan’s red-haired, pint-sized bodyguard, swings a mean sword.

Ike2I thought she should have kicked a little more butt, though.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationYeah, and Tao Okamoto was effectively poignant as the corporate heir caught in the middle. She showed she could hold her own in a fight, too, although some aspects of her role troubled me.

Ike2The love-interest bit? Didn’t you think she and Logan were actually kind of good together?

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationThey were, except for two things: Hugh Jackman is old enough to be her father, and Logan is old enough to be her grandfather.

Ike2And he was supposed to be protecting her. Nice ethics, dude!

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationWe should also mention Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper. Every second she was on the screen, she owned it.

Ike2I never could figure out what her character was up to, exactly, but Viper was awesome. Also, she demonstrated once again the super-hero movie principle of “Pulverize the villain one time–no problem. Pulverize the villain later at a more plot-convenient time–instant death.”

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart IllustrationWell, now you’re just being nit-picky.

Our Review:

Wolverine franchise keeps regenerating

Fresh setting, new faces add interest

Good story hook, muddled execution

Some fine action sequences

Dancing ninjas

Three tail-wags out of five

Review: Man of Steel

20 Jun

 

[Contains spoilers]

 

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  So, what did you think?

Ike2  Very noisy.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  There was a lot of destruction, wasn’t there?

Ike2  Is it weird that the fight between Superman and Zod in one city on Earth seemed more destructive than blowing up the whole planet of Krypton?

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  Yeah, the special effects were amazing, but they were so realistic, I just kept thinking of all the damage being done. That takes some of the fun out of it, for me.

Ike2  And Krypton was creepy. No wonder they blew it up.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  It was kind of creepy. I kept thinking that’s what the War of the Worlds planet would look like.

Ike2  Can we take a vote on worst opening scene of any superhero movie in history? I vote Kal-El being born to Mrs. El.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  Her name is Lara. But yeah, take away the science-fictiony monitor blobs and it was just the same tired Screaming Mother Birth Scene cliché we’ve seen on every TV show since All in the Family.

Ike2  But the actress who played Lara is cool.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  Ayelet Zurer is very cool. But Antje Traue as General Zod’s sidekick was even more cool. Whoa!

Ike2  Whoa!

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  I thought all the actors were good, although Michael Shannon was a little over-the-top.

Ike2  Come on, he was perfect! But what about Henry Cavill? Is the legacy of the Reeve brothers still safe?

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  Very funny. George Reeves and Christopher Reeve were both great as Superman, in their own way, but they were a tad campy. Henry Cavill plays it straight, and he really looks the part. If the sequels hold up, he’ll be the new icon.

Ike2  Can we talk about the scene with the dog, now?

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  I thought you’d like that one.

Ike2  Look, I like it that the old guy was willing to run into a tornado to save the dog, but—

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  Hey, too much detail! Some people haven’t seen it yet.

Ike2  What? I didn’t say who the old guy was.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  That doesn’t matter. When you give away a point of the plot, you’re supposed to alert the reader first.

Ike2  Okay, spoiler alert—Jonathan Kent runs into a tornado to save a dog.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  Oh, that’s much better. So what’s the problem?

Ike2  So supposedly Clark couldn’t run to save the dog in front of all those people, because then they would see he was Superman, right? But if Superman can move faster than the eye can see, like he does later on, why didn’t he just move faster than the eye can see and save the dog? In the time he took to argue with his dad about it, he could have run back and forth a hundred times. Besides, what kind of jerks leave their dog in a car in the middle of a tornado anyway?

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  I noticed when Papa Kent got the car door open, Fido didn’t hang around to make sure his master was all right.

Ike2  Yeah, it as like, “Thanks, sucker—enjoy the tornado!”

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  It was clearly intended to be an emotional scene, but I agree, it kind of flopped.

Ike2  General Zod’s death was lame, too. Spoiler alert!

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  Oh, you mean because Superman hit him about a million times so hard he flew ten miles into the air, but when it was time for Zod to die, all Superman had to do was the neck-tweak thing?

Ike2  The neck-tweak! Like, “You can ram my face into a brick wall at 10,000 miles an hour, but unless you’re a licensed chiropractor, please don’t tweak my neck!”

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  Lame.

Ike2  Lame.

Happy Red Haired Freckled Boy With Missing Front Teeth, Laughing Retro Clipart Illustration  But we shouldn’t give people the wrong idea. I liked the movie.

Ike2  Me, too. A few dud scenes, but good entertainment over all.

OUR REVIEW:

Cavill wears the suit well.

Fine performances all around.

Great effects, but the destruction is over-done.

Creepy Krypton.

Good story, but some lame scenes.

Three tail wags out of five.

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