This Week in Geek (17-23/04/17)

"Accomplishments"

In theaters: The Fate of the Furious continues the Fast/Furious franchise's superheroes with cars saga by testing just what it means when Dom says "It's about family!", betraying his friends to big bad Charleze Theron for... well, that would be telling. While this isn't as great (or emotional) a ride as F7 was, it's still packs enough of a punch that would shouldn't he disappointed. The climax is a bit overdrawn, and the trailer spoiled too much in my opinion, but expect a similar level of vehicular action, plus another great comedic turn for Jason Statham (who knew? right?). For those who feel the franchise has gotten too ridiculous (though I think it's not more extreme than a Captain America movie, indeed there are shades of Civil War in this one), the opening scene is no less extreme, but somehow more grounded in what the movies used to be about. Also, when are you planning to stop going to see these; it's been completely bonkers since F5. And I, for one, am enjoying it.

DVDs: Alfonso Cuarón's modern-day take on Dickens' Great Expectations uses contemporary mores to make the story a lot steamier than I remember the book being, but the relationship between Finn (what was wrong with Pip? oh okay) and Estella nevertheless left me a little cold. It's not that Gwyneth Paltrow isn't hot, it's that she's been weaponized by her broken-hearted aunt to destroy men, so has an emotional detachment that makes her, well, cold. Anne Bancroft as the crazy aunt is a much better character. Where Pip wanted to become a gentleman, Finn instead enters the art world, one of many well-calculated changes from the book, and the plot about his mysterious patron is well played too, effective in that I plum forgot what the book did there while watching. So yeah, a cool adaptation, but with a 90s gloss that distanced me from the material, not quite as strong as I'd hoped it would be given the director's later work.

Netflix: It was announced this week that Anna Boden was set to direct Captain Marvel, so I gave her Mississippi Grind a look, and it was good! In some ways The Color of Money with straight up gambling, the film has a nice interplay between still tableaux and nervous camera work, just as the story juggles the ups and downs of a gambling addict (Ben Mendelsohn) looking for his next fix, his careless "lucky charm" (Ryan Reynolds) in tow. It's a somewhat unpredictable story, but really more of a dual character study. There's what the characters say or do, and then there's what they're really thinking, and the latter is expressed just by the acting, often very subtly. So even when you're up, you're really down, as the cycle of addiction can't be escaped. And Mississippi Grind is extremely well balanced so that it never seems like a "message" movie. How this style will translate to a superhero movie is anyone's guess, but I hope to find the same sensitivity to the character work in that future film.

Into the Badlands' short first season economically set up a postapocalyptic world inspired by kung fu films, with Daniel Wu bringing his considerable skills to bear, and the choreography quite outstanding indeed, especially its use of different environments. That's the real reason to watch the show, as the political intrigue between land barons is Game of Thrones Lite, and the mystery of a powered kid slow to build, though that's all quite promising. At 6 42-minute episodes, they certainly don't waste your time nor overstay their welcome. If you're a fan of martial arts films though, you'll find more to love, especially in the way the "martial world" of those movies has been translated to modern times/America. I wouldn't mind Netflix adding the second season sooner than later.

Chugged six more episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (both versions) and I'm starting to warm to it. Maybe it takes a few episodes to "get it", but I found myself laughing out loud in parts. But just like last week, here are very short reviews of the films themselves, regardless of Moon 13/Satellite of Love commentary... Future War (1997) has Daniel Bernhardt playing Jean-Claude Van Damme playing a slave from the future who time travels to our time and teams up with a nun to fight puppet dinosaurs; it's more silly than it hopes to be and very badly made. The Time Travelers (1964) traps its main characters in a postapocalyptic future where a small enclave of civilized humans hope to escape on a rocket ship and does feature some pretty neat effects, many apparently achieved with magic tricks! But while it's an imaginative look at a possible future, it doesn't have a whole lot of story to go with it. Hercules Against the Moon Men (1964) is an Italian sword and sandals picture that takes its muscular hero (Maciste, in the originals) and pits him against a cult of alien worshipers, which is a really loopy idea, and mostly treated as fluff, not bad until the climactic sequence which just wanders off and loses itself. A German skin flick originally, Horrors of Spider Island (1960) doesn't really manage to turn itself into a spider version of The Wolfman, but it tries. It's wall-to-wall girls in swimsuits writhing around, plus an unconvincing monster than occasionally pops in. The disaster movie Avalanche (1978) starring Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow takes forever to get to the disaster and doesn't really give us much in the way of surviving or struggling through the event. So soap opera and a pretty ham-fisted "business guy won't listen to warnings" plot. And I Accuse My Parents (1944) is a modern morality play about how bad parenting ultimately leads a young man astray, though you won't believe his argument for a second, especially given he's a pathological liar.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, I was on a disaster flick kick and rented Avalanche along with Earthquake and The Swarm one weekend. Pretty sure I came out as a much lesser person as a result.

--De

 

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