Monday, February 06, 2012

What I Watched In January

I only got to the theater twice in January but I enjoyed the time there. Much to my surprise I have really enjoyed the UNDERWORLD films from the beginning. I was dragged to see the first film and was shocked by how fun it turned out to be. Its highly stylized (and color de-saturated) tale of a centuries long war between vampires and werewolves played more like a hyperkinetic action epic than horror but its fantasy elements were of a piece with the pulp stories of my youth and I found it very engaging. I liked the first two sequels as well, each just a little less but found them to still remain quality popcorn entertainments. I could easily imagine them being played on drive-in screens to the applause and smiles of action & exploitation audiences any time in from the 1970s to today.

This fourth film in the series picks up after the second one (the third one was a prequel) and after a nasty bit of violence that separates our two star-crossed lovers the story jumps into the future about fifteen years. There the battle between the warring monster factions continues but with the added complication of the human race being fully aware of the supernatural creature's conflict as well as their weaknesses. All I can say is that if you liked the earlier movies you will probably like this one.

The American remake of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO is quite good even if it somehow didn't have the impact of the original. The film is solid and I continue to find Daniel Craig to be one of the most interesting actors working today but the biggest weakness was in the female lead. Not that Rooney Mara was bad in the role but she wasn't as impressive as Noomi Rapace in the Swedish originals. Rapace was able to communicate intelligence and barely contained anger all while being sexy and dangerous. Mara can get across one or two of these ideas but not all at once.

TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (1971) - 8 (fascinating minimalist road film)
RANCHO NOTORIOUS (1952)- 8 (excellent Fritz Lang western)
ELIMINATORS (1986)- 4 (cheesy/fun ROBOCOP rip-off let down by unnecessary elements and a low budget)
DON'T BE AFRIAD OF THE DARK (2011)- 7 (rewatch)
FRANKENHOOKER (1990)- 7 (fun, if broad comedy)
MARLOWE (1969)- 5 (just doesn't quite have what it takes)
SHERLOCK HOLMES (1922)- 5 (silent version jettisons too much of the character to feel right)
KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS (1954)- 7 (fun, colorful Sir Walter Scott adventure)
CURSE OF THE DEVIL (1974)- 7 (rewatch)
ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011)- 8 (excellent British alien invasion tale)
BLACK LEGION (1937)- 8 (great social drama with Bogart)
DISTRICT B-13-ULTIMATUM (2009)- 8 (excellent sequel)
UNION DEPOT (1932)- 7 (very good pre-code crime story)
BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER (1960)- 4 (not too good low budget SF)
SHE (1982)- 2 (terrible post-apocalyptic/sword & sandal mess)
THE LONE WOLF MEETS A LADY (1940) -6 (good mystery and cast)
UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING (2012)- 7 (fourth film pleases)
THE LAST GUN (1964)- 5 (early spaghetti western - feels more like a 1950s film than what was just around the corner)
GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER (1966)- 4 (the descent into colorful kiddie camp was underway)
DARK IS THE SUN (1968)- 9 (wow! I'd like to see the rest of the obviously harsh violence but this is a great film)
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO (2011)- 8 (remake is good but I prefer the original)
THE LAST HARD MEN (1976) - 7 (Heston and Coburn in a late period western)
THE DEAD ARE ALIVE (1972)- 8 (excellent giallo)


Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I enjoyed 'Attack the Block' very much. 'Chronicle' was very good. Two low budget gems.

Brian Lindsey said...

Can't speak to either DRAGON TATTOO film (yet), but I have read the first two novels of Larsson's trilogy.

Going strictly by photos & screenshots from the Swedish and American versions, Rooney Mara looks much more like the Lisbeth character is described in the books than Noomi Rapace does...

Rod Barnett said...

I look forward to seeing CHRONICLE but i'm not sure I'll get to before it hits DVD.

And having not read the Larsson novels I can't speak to the page Lisbeth. Interesting though. Fincher is a great director and maybe more fidelity to the book was what he was going for.