Thursday, March 06, 2014

What I Watched in February

Through nefarious methods (thank you faraway friends) I was able to see the ROBOCOP remake and I have to say that it was not bad at all. It is not in the same league as the original and the satire has been mostly excised (along with the harsh humor) but its an effective action film that held my attention. The movie even offered up a few surprises that made it clear that the filmmakers had thought through a number of elements of the story in ways that are actually fresh. The cast is very good with Gary Oldman as the scientist in charge of building a better police officer really giving the film a performance above the norm for this kind of material. The movie is also well directed with an organic feel as it moves efficiently from place to place in a way that is smooth enough to paper over some logical questions the script skips past. The biggest problem is that it feels a bit neutered in its aim to stay bloodless for a PG-13 rating so the story has very little punch. Its a well done movie but, unlike the 1987 film, it is easily forgotten and might only become something memorable with a sequel that goes for more visceral thrills and sharper wit.

I had hopes that JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT might be a smart thriller but it didn't measure up. I was excited to see what director Kenneth Branagh could bring to an espionage tale although the idea of rebooting the Jack Ryan character again was less than appealing. The cast of the film is pretty darned good with Branagh himself as the main Russian nemesis, Kevin Costner as the older mentor and Chris Pine as the big screen's fourth (or fifth - I don't care) Jack Ryan. The surprise was Keira Knightley as Ryan's finance. This is the first time I've seen her try on an American accent and its a reasonably good fit. In fact, all concerned do fine jobs onscreen with what they are given but the problem here is that the story is nothing you haven't seen before. There is nothing surprising or even particularly interesting going on in this film. The plot is straightforward and it unfolds in a standard, predictable manner. Some of the spy sequences have visual snap but the style and talented cast can't conceal a mediocre film that should have been much more entertaining. Its not a terrible movie but it is nothing thrilling or memorable.

THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975)- 7 (rewatch)
THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (2012)- 4 (not very compelling love letter to Kung-Fu action films)
THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977)- 6 (rewatch)
SEX KITTENS GO TO COLLEGE (1960)- 3 (terrible comedy but it has some interest)
THE LOST WORLD (1960)- 6 (fun version of the Doyle tale - not as good as the 1925 film)
COME OUT AND PLAY (2012)- 4 (flat, dull remake of WHO COULD KILL A CHILD?)
THINNER (1996)- 5 (mediocre Stephen King horror tale)
NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST (1975)- 8  (rewatch)
SHE (1935)- 8 (rewatch)
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE MASK OF DEATH (1984)- 7 (Peter Cushing's last run at the role is a Hammer reunion)
ROBOCOP (2014)- 7 (solid but neutered and forgettable remake)
MONSTERS (2010) - 8
DEVIL DOLL (1964) - 4 (rewatch)
THE FORMULA (1980)-  5 (slight thriller with an interesting cast)
SANGRAAL, THE SWORD OF FIRE (1982)- 3 (terrible but entertaining Italian barbarian film)
BURIAL GROUND (1981)- 3 (rewatch) (I love this terrible film!)
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: PARTS 1 & 2  (2013)- 9 (near perfect animated adaptation of the comic books)

No comments: