Thursday, August 07, 2014

What I Watched In August

Two new theatrical experiences last month and the first was extraordinary. 

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is the best POTA film since..... RISE. But in some ways it's even better than that excellent movie as this one has a much more complicated story to tell. I'm not going to bury the lead - I loved this movie. The old cliché that 'I laughed, I cried' is actually true for me with this movie. This felt like the perfect culmination of the entire Apes film run since reboot with RISE bringing together all the elements that have made the series a good, solid action adventure. Although I could complain about the slow pace of the first half of the picture I could not have asked for a better follow up movie and as the credits rolled and I wiped away tears of joy (seriously) I was happy to have seen this excellent tale onscreen. At many points the film wasn't exactly what I thought I was going to see and that was impressive. After all- I've watched these movies for decades now so I can often see plot tricks and ideas coming round the bend, but here they caught me unaware repeatedly. I might wince about a certain character's rather miraculous survival but that is a small complaint in a film that so marvelously succeeds. I could have enjoyed an even longer version of this film and if extra footage exists I can't wait to see it. And I can't wait to see the next one!

When I caught THE PURGE I liked the film pretty well but was disappointed that the creators didn't do more with the fascinating near future dystopia they set up. There just seemed to be so much that could be done with the premise than a simple (if effective) home invasion tale. Luckily, in the sequel, a bigger budget has allowed for just what I was looking for and the future fascistic United States where the rich really do have the ability to do with us what they wish is explored just a bit more in THE PURGE:ANARCHY. The nastier aspects of the New Founding Fathers are touched upon just enough to intrigue me more and fueling my desire to explore this dark scenario more fully. The story on this sequel is of the next year's Purge Night and a group of people brought together by chance once they are trapped on the streets after the night of lawless abandon begins. One of these people is outside by choice and his mission on this violent night is the engine that drives the plot forward as the other characters wonder why and what he is up to. We are shown more of the wealthy class' version of enjoying this annual chance to kill (or be killed) and introduced to some inventive ways of taking advantage of such an event for profit. I enjoyed this film about as much as I did the first and I wouldn't mind a new installment in this series every year or so just to see what dark alleys the creators dream up. 

GYMKATA (1985)- 3 (terrible but fun)
NIGHTMARE CITY (1980)- 7 (rewatch)
DARK SKIES (2013)- 7
MADIGAN (1968)- 8 (rock solid New York crime film)
HOUSE ON STRAW HILL (1976)- 6 (interesting psycho-sexual thriller)
JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR (2014)- 8 (another excellent animated DC film)
KILLER JOE (2011)- 9 (harsh Texas-set thriller)
GODZILLA VS BIOLLANTE (1989)- 7 (rewatch)
KILMA, QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS (1975) - 6 (pirates vs. amazons on an island)
VIOLENT ROAD (1958)- 7 (solid B-movie version of The Wages of Fear)
THE COUNSELOR (2013)- 3 (Whoa! What a mess.)
THE KILLER IS AMONG THE 13 (1976)- 7 (Spanish Agatha Christie style mystery)
ODD THOMAS (2013)- 4 (Stephen Sommers simply cannot make a good film)
AGENT 003: OPERATION ATLANTIS (1965)- 6 (completely silly spy film)
BLACKTHORNE (2011)- 9 (extremely good western about the later days of Butch Cassidy)
MRS. POLLIFAX: SPY (1971)- 5 (overlong semi-comedic spy tale -Darren McGavin is good fun)
THE VISITOR (1979)- 3 (insane Italian SF crossed with silly mysticism)
CAGED (1950)- 8 (very good woman in prison film)
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984)- 7 (rewatch) 


Kal said...

Gymkata is one of those great Guilty pleasures that is too stupid to hate. I love how that village has nothing but gymnastics equiptment strewn about the town. That pommel horse in town square is too much.

Rod Barnett said...

Gymkata is a lot of fun but it is joyously stupid as well. Having a lead actor that can NOT act is not destructive to action films but I wonder at what point during filming director Clouse realized this one was a dud.