Friday, September 12, 2014

What I Watched in August

Three visits to the theater last month with the undisputed highlight being my favorite film of the year so far GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. I've given my thoughts on that film already HERE so I'll talk a bit about the other two movies.

I was very pleased by the much delayed sequel SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR. I see that it has not done very well at the box office and that is a shame. I enjoyed this one almost as much as I did the first one with the only downside this time being the loss of the shock of the new that the visual style had in 2005. Since I've read the comics that the various stories in the film are adapted from I can't say that I was surprised by the various twists and turns presented but I was happy that the filmmakers and especially the cast were able to give every nasty turn a smart spin. I was also impressed once again with actress Eva Green who just continues to prove how great she can be onscreen. I was stunned by how easily she slipped into the Femme Fatale role and also how comfortable she appeared with the long stretches of her scenes that required her to be nude. Between this performance and her amazing work in the Showtime series Penny Dreadful she is fast becoming one of the most underrated thespians currently working in film.

I also went out with the teenager to catch the latest action epic EXPENDABLES 3. I have been on record as hating the first film of this series and enjoying the much better directed second film. With this one things seem to be in solid hands again and although the movie is never rooted in a believable reality that we might recognize as Planet Earth it is a very fun action tale. This being a film with a script by Stallone there are problems, of course. The middle section in which Stallone puts together a younger mercenary team is a mistake for the most part. The reason for the new team is dumb and not in a good way. The young guns are mostly forgettable but Kelsey Grammer as Sly's guide to assembling a more disposable group is very good and the introduction of Antonio Banderas is fantastic. Through sheer force of motor-mouthed personality Banderas adds some real zest to the show that no one else seems able to accomplish. The best news is this film marks the return to the big screen of (raging loon) Mel Gibson in the big bad role. As much as I may dislike Mr. Gibson's personal beliefs about race, religion and how to treat women I have to admit that he is remarkable onscreen. He is able to breath real menace into the often (let's be kind) basic dialog and he milks every bit of juice out of the villainous situations he has to play with. He doesn't quite top the excellence of the second film's bad guy performance from Jean-Claude Van Damme but Gibson is very entertaining and proves why he was always such a pleasure to watch onscreen. I wonder what the fourth film will draw on for its villain.

SANTO VS THE ZOMBIES (1961)- 7 (Haitian zombies - not flesh eaters)
NOSFERATU (1979)- 7 (rewatch)
GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORA (1991)- 7 (rewatch)
SANTO & BLUE DEMON AGAINST THE MONSTERS (1970)- 4 (terribly sloppy but goofy fun -Santo isn't as much fun for me in color)
RAGEWAR (a.k.a. THE DUNGEONMASTER) (1984)- 3 (terrible Charles Band attempt to employ every FX team he could get to work cheap)
THE CROSS OF THE DEVIL (1975)- 7 (rewatch)
GODZILLA VS MOTHRA (1992)- 7 (rewatch)
KICK-ASS 2 (2013)- 7
SANTO VS THE STRANGLER (1965)- 5 (rewatch)
THE BLACK PIT OF DR. M (1959)- 8 (rewatch)
GODZILLA VS GIGAN (1972)- 4 (bad but fun - very colorful kids film)
THE SPY IN BLACK (1939)- 8 (excellent British WWI spy tale)
THE HANGOVER PART III (2013)- 6 (glad the series ended on an OK note)
BLACKFISH (2013)- 8 (heartbreaking documentary)
HAUNTER (2013)- 9 (excellent ghost story variation)
SANTO VS BLUE DEMON IN ATLANTIS (1970)- 6 (fun color Santo spy adventure - but there was no Atlantis at all!)
SILENT RAGE (1982)- 4 (terrible but entertaining horror/cop film with Chuck Norris)
ALL MONSTERS ATTACK (1971) - 3 (rewatch) a.k.a. GODZILLA'S REVENGE
THE QUIET ONES (2014)- 8 (well done ghostly story from the new Hammer)
THE EXPENDABLES 3 (2014)- 7 (rarely believable but very fun)
CELLAR DWELLER (1988)- 5 (not bad monster movie)
SON OF BATMAN (2014)- 8 (well done animated adaptation)
SWEET SUGAR (1972)- 4 (terrible women in prison tale but a lot of weird fun) 

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