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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Recuperation Review: Equilibrium (2002)

Lots of napping these days! In between, I'm catching up with some health-inducing bits of Hollywood wizardry...

NEXT UP: Equilibrium (2002)

Directed by Kurt Wimmer

OVERVIEW: Christian Bale (yes really!) plays a policeman-of-the-future who begins to have doubts about the totalitarian regime he is supporting when he forgets to take his mood-stabilizing drugs. His doubts are thrown into extreme focus when he is forced to neutralize his partner-turned-bad, Ned Stark (yes really!)

WHAT HAPPENS: So, Christian Bale begins to wonder whether it's okay to feel things after all. because, y'know, the government has outlawed it.

WTF MOMENT: You just read the bit about the government outlawing feelings, right? There you go.

WHO EVER KNEW NED STARK WAS SUCH A SUCKER FOR POETRY: Yes, Sean Bean is in this as the cop-gone-south. He's done in by a book of Yeats. Who knew? Poor guy never catches a break.

HOW YOU KNOW THIS IS THE FUTURE: Well, we're told as much right off the bat. Also, World War III has come and gone, so that's a tipoff. The way to avoid WW IV, apparently, is to avoid feeling things, since feelings lead to war. Or something. So there you go: everybody takes drugs, and everyone who doesn't gets re-educated, and all the things that cause feelings, like artwork and pets, gets the torch. Hilarity ensues.

GOSH, DAVE, THIS SOUNDS LIKE A HALF-BAKED MISHMASH OF FAHRENHEIT 451 AND 1984, AMONG OTHER THINGS. Well, yes. But visually it's quite stylish, and the cast are committed to the silliness, which helps. Plus there's this sort of cool "gun fu" which makes the fight scenes entertaining, and best of all, the fight scenes don't go on forever, as with (for example) Michael Bay movies. So there's plenty of good stuff here, if you can get over the inherent absurdity of the premise.

DO WE GET A HAPPY ENDING? [Spoilers!] Depends how much you like 'splosions.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Recuperation Review: The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

So, my recuperation continues apace, aided and abetted by numerous film "classics."

Next up: Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Directed by Terence Fisher, responsible for numerous other Hammer Films greats, including Horror of Dracula (1958), Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Mummy (1959), etc.

Biggest drawback: Peter Cushing, my favorite actor of all time, is not in this one.

Almost made up for by: the presence of the lovely and bodacious Yvonne Romain. Va-va-voom.

OVERVIEW: This one starts slowly but is kind of creepily engaging in a can't-take-my-eyes-off-it kind of way. There's a lot of background as to where the werewolf comes from, and it's interesting that it's nothing supernatural or occult... Though it is quite nasty and mean.

WHAT HAPPENS: Basically, this guy turns into a werewolf. He doesn't really get going till the second half, but once he does, look out. The body count is pretty significant. Then he gets chased by a mob with torches, and he takes to the rooftops, and everything goes to hell.

WHAT'S AMAZING IS: I sort of dozed off during this one too. But I woke up for the riveting climactic scenes of mayhem. And what the hell, I'm still recuperating.

WTF MOMENT: There actually weren't too many once the werewolf showed up. Early on though, when the nasty Marquis is making the poor beggar dude dance for his table scraps? Yeah, things were pretty weird for a while there...

HOW WE KNOW WE'RE IN SPAIN: Well, the big caption that says "SPAIN at the start of the movie was a tipoff. Also, everybody is Don this and Marquessa that. And I guess the big churches with the tile roofs fit. Apart from that, though, most everybody sounds pretty Brit--especially your colorful working-class types--so it can get a little disorienting.

WEIRDEST SYNCHORONICITY WITH THE PREVIOUS RECUPERATION REVIEW: Spanish (sort of) hottie Yvonne Romain can't talk in this movie, just like Awesome Future Girl Hottie couldn't talk in the last movie. Okay this is weird, and it's not like I'm trying to only watch movies where the women can't say anything. it just sort of worked out that way. I'm sort of dreading what will happen in the next Recuperation Review, which stars Christian Bale and Sean Bean. Will there be a deaf-mute hottie from the dystopian future? Stay tuned.


Cue Music. Roll credits.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Recuperation Review: Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)

So, the reason I haven't been doing much on this blog lately is that I’ve had some medical troubles, which are happily all resolved now. (Shhhh! Don’t tell my mom.) But, even as I’m on the road to recovery, I still find myself flat on my back much of the time, which raises the question of how to entertain myself.

The answer, of course, is through a series of cheesy horror and sci-fi movies from the ’50s, ’60s and ’90s.

First up: Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, who also made The Black Cat (which some people quite like) and The Amazing Transparent Man (which I quite like), among other things.

OVERVIEW: Okay, this was sort of dull. How dull? Well, I fell asleep watching it the first time through. However, that was probably due to my mysterious “condition” (see above) as much as anything else. (Shhhh! Don’t tell my mom.)  The second time through, I stayed awake right until the end, so how bad could it be?

WHAT HAPPENS: An air Force test pilot (played by Robert Clarke, who also starred in The Hideous Sun Demon and The Man From Planet X) flies his jet plane really really fast, really really high up in the atmosphere. As a result, he gets projected 64 years into the future.

WTF MOMENT: See “What Happens,” above.

HOW WE KNOW WE’RE IN THE FUTURE: People live underground mostly. There are two classes of people: the normal-looking ones who take our hero captive – until he makes friends with Awesome Future Girl Hottie – and the evil subterranean mutants who live, well, subterraneanly. Also, the dominant architectural feature is the triangle. Which is sort of cool actually. Triangular doors, windows, columns. Even the clothes are kind of triangle-influenced.

YES, BUT ARE THERE MONSTERS? Sort of. Those subterranean “mutants” are essentially normal-looking people with skinhead wigs and crummy attitudes. They’re the victims of the plague that hit the earth in the distant future of 1970. Everybody has it, by the way – the mutants just have it worse than everyone else.


WAIT, REALLY? Really. Our Air Force buddy makes friends with the one still-fertile fox in the future – she’s telepathic so can read his mind and knows what he wants, but can’t talk about it. She’s the greatest gal ever! I’ll leave all you feminist-theory PhD students to write up your dissertations.

DOES OUR HERO ESCAPE THIS HELLISH FUTURE THAT HE NEVER MADE? Well, yes and no. [Spoilers!] He gets to his plane but pretty much everybody dies helping him do it, including Silent Sally, which is too bad. Then he flies back at the same super-speed and winds up back in 1960, charged with changing mankind’s reckless behavior (you know, the ones that brought on the cosmic plague in the first place). He might not get much of an audience, but then again he might… especially since he aged 64 years during his return trip!!!

Don’t think about it too much, it makes no sense whatever.

Cue music. Roll credits.