13 Rue Madeleine

August 31, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

A WWII spy school is infiltrated by a double agent…who is it?

And that’s about it. Cagney runs a spy training school, he knows one of his students is a spy for the Nazis, and when he figures it out, the spy manages to infiltrate a mission and get vital info. The bad guy must be stopped!

It was the New Year’s Day Videofest (theme: James Cagney) and this was the second not-so-good movie in a row. It wasn’t BAD, especially compared to Man of a Thousand Faces…but it wasn’t great either, a pretty typical post-WWII spy story.

The only really interesting thing about this was the ending, although many of Cagney’s other films end this way, so not SO much of a surprise.

Watch it if you really like Cagney…but not a huge loss if you give it a miss.


The 10th Kingdom

August 31, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

A father and daughter are transported to a fairy-tale land and must find a way home.

Now, truefans, read this whole review because there’s an important question at the end for you all!

Mr. Otter and I were visiting Otterbro and The Mermaid. As we left, the Mermaid handed this to me and said, have you seen this?

No, I said, I’ve never even heard of it.

Take it and watch it, she said, I think you’ll like it.

So we took it home with us…and like many dvds, it ended up on our To Watch shelf.

Four months later, we’re packing to move. Maid-of-Awesome is helping us. We have put all the dvds from the library, from netflix and borrowed from other people in one place so we don’t lose any of them.

The 10th kingdom! she exclaimed. I LOVED this. Have you seen it?

No, we said, the Mermaid loaned it to us but we haven’t watched it yet.

Oh, she said, I think you’ll like it, it’s fairy tale characters in Manhattan.

That sounded good. But we were in the middle of moving, and if you know us, you know how many boxes of books this involves and how completely exhausted we were.

So we moved and unpacked. And about a month after we moved, I said to Mr. Otter, you know, I’m going to visit Otterbro and the Mermaid in about 3 weeks, we better watch that dvd so I can take it back.

And then we looked at it and found out it’s SEVEN HOURS LONG. OMG.

So we said, okay. We’ll start it tonight and see how we like it, we have a few evenings free this week, and if it’s awful, we don’t have to watch it at all.

And we LOVED IT. Absolutely loved it. Spent the whole week looking forward to however much time we had to spend watching it. We talked about it, and laughed at the wit and charm of the writing, and enjoyed the characters, and really really liked the ending.

And during this week, as I emailed various people, I’d say, We’re watching The Tenth Kingdom, have you seen it?

And INVARIABLY, the answer was, Oh yes, I loved that! it’s wonderful!

So here’s my question: Since we are obviously the only people on the planet who never heard of it or watched it, WHY DID NONE OF THE REST OF YOU EVER TELL US ABOUT THIS WONDERFUL WONDERFUL MOVIE?

Sigh. I know, I know. We are smug bastards about not having television, and don’t scruple to say how happy we are without it. And this movie was made and broadcast in the years-long window between the mid-90s, when we said goodbye to our cable bill forever, and the mid-2000s, when everything ever made for TV started being available on DVD. At the time this came out, there was no point in anyone telling us about it; we couldn’t have seen it. And by the time it came out on DVD, it was far enough in the past that nobody thought of telling us.

Except the Mermaid, who was so pleased at how much we liked it that she gave us her copy. And we will be forever grateful, because we really do love this movie.

I mean, where else do you hear the expletive, Suck an elf! How could I NOT love this?


Taken

August 30, 2012

Internet Movie Database 
CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

Third-world traffickers have taken Liam Neeson’s daughter. Boy, are they gonna be sorry…

Spider Jerusalem and I had movie night, as we do each week, and it was his turn to pick. He was surprised I hadn’t seen this, so we watched it. And what a great movie!

Liam Neeson was perfect as the dad, retired from doing…what? at the CIA…but we know it was dangerous and he was very good at it; we also know that he retired solely to be near his daughter and the CIA wants him back, which makes his ability to kick serious booty much more likely. His daughter goes to Paris against his better judgement, and of course he turns out to be right, and has to rescue her from the bad guys.

Lots of action, good writing, a plot that moves breathtakingly along, and is yet believeable. As SJ said, the ONLY thing that was hard to believe in this movie is that his three CIA buddies wouldn’t go with him.

If you like explosions and edge-of-your-seat action (except you know all the way through that he’ll get her back, right?) this is a great choice.


Scorched

August 30, 2012

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Three bank tellers all plan (independently) to rob the bank where they work…on the same day.

Ottersis was visiting us and Spider Jerusalem for the weekend, and after we did a lot of stuff, we all just wanted to settle down and watch a movie…and Ottersis picked this one.

The bank is in a small town in the desert, looked like they filmed in Palmdale (checked IMDB, and they did, there and Santa Clarita.) CA. Hot and dry and full of cactus and Joshua trees, and nothing much to do. So these three tellers, who work for the scumbag who is the bank manager (and Alicia Silverstone is dating him and is dumped in one of the first scenes), each decide to steal money from the bank…and seeing it build up and play out is a whole lot of fun.

As usual, Silverstone’s eyes and mouth are not hooked up to the hamster wheel that passes for her brain, so although she is hella pretty, there is no actual feeling that she has any clue about the meaning of the words she’s saying…less jarring here than when she’s mouthing Shakespeare, though. Woody Harrelson is a pleasure to watch, and John Cleese is in full Crazy Curmudgeon mode.

Oh, and Rachel Lee Cook is a cute D&Der who fantasizes herself going Xena on anyone she doesn’t like, that’s pretty fun to watch.

Light, funny, with a good plot and some surprises, this is a fun movie for a night when you just want to chill.


Bunraku

August 30, 2012

Internet Movie Database           Movie Reviews

A tale of revenge with lots of atmosphere and butt-kicking martial arts action!

Spider Jerusalem and I were having our weekly movie night, and the first movie had run late enough that I wasn’t up for a second…but you have to see the titles on this one, he said. And showed them to me.

And he was right, the titles were WAY cool. They set the (futuristic) scene and are amusing in and of themselves.

If the whole movie had been like that, I would have LOVED it. As it was, it was good but not wow good.

The settings and costumes are wonderful, they’re the best part of the movie. The buildings, cars, clothing, weapons, everything has been designed to be (if this is possible) retro-futuristic, and the colors are jarring but work well. The fight scenes are very nicely choreographed.

And yet…it’s the typical plot: Hello, my name is ____, you killed my father, prepare to die.

Kevin McKidd and Woody Harrelson are good here, fun to watch.

Not a bad movie…it’s just that it didn’t live up to the title credits, which were WONDERFUL.


Warrior’s Way

August 29, 2012

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A warrior spares the life of an enemy’s baby and takes the baby to America, where he ends up in a small, broken-down Western town full of ex-circus performers…but the group he used to work for is tracking him down…

Movie night Chez Otter! Mr. Otter, as usual, had his playgroup on that night, which is good because Spider Jerusalem and I like explosions and action movies, many of which leave Mr. Otter cold.

It was Spider Jerusalem’s turn to pick…and he chose this one, knowing how much I like Sukiyaki Western Django, because this one has the same ‘western samurai fairy tale’ feeling to it. Hm, is that an actual genre?

Anyway. I really liked this movie. The action sequences are beautifully done, many of them in slomo; the story is lovely, and the western town, with building facades and a defunct Ferris wheel and way too much orange/yellow saturation, have a wonderful otherworldly quality that goes along with the townsfolk mostly being circus performers.

And ninjas vs. cowboys? I’m so there.

The ending is satisfying, although expected, and fit perfectly with the rest of the movie.

This was a real winner! Thank you, SJ!


Total Recall

August 29, 2012

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Technically based on Philip K. Dick’s novel We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, but very loosely.

A man goes to a shop to have memories implanted in his brain, and finds out that he is not who he thinks he is.

Spider Jerusalem and I have a standing movie date once a week, either at home or at the movie theaters, so last week we decided to go see this. Now, I have to admit, I do like the incredibly stupid Schwarzenegger version of this from 1990…the science police hauled everyone away and shot them after it was made, but it was still over-the-top fun.

This one was supposed to be more like the book (which I admit I have not read) and more serious and less silly.

And surprisingly, it was.

Of course, you have to accept that there is a sort of bus that goes from England to Australia and back, through the Earth’s core, in about an hour and a half, and that this is possible and not ridiculous. But that’s the only place they make you believe ridiculous things in this movie…the rest is a good, straightforward sf/action flick, with exciting twists and turns and a great ending.

Colin Ferrell is pretty good as a man doing a boring job, hoping for a better life, in love with his gorgeous wife, who tries to make his awful life more palatable by having memories implanted of doing adventurous stuff…and then finds out that the life he’s leading is already a construct, and he has a past, and suddenly everyone wants to kill him.

There are a lot of ‘everything you think you know is wrong’ plot twists in this, and they all work, and they all make sense. The actors were good (although Mr. Ferrell, as I remarked to someone, seemed to show the whole range of emotion from A to B, he was still good in a movie like this, where looking totally befuddled went very well with his character) and the action was great. Lots of explodo, running and shooting, and a good car chase.

And a satisfying ending.

The otter approves.


Mirror, Mirror

August 29, 2012

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A retelling of Snow White.

I know I saw this when it came out, because I saw it in the movie theater. I remember that I had to leave the house for some reason- the housecleaners were coming or something. So I know I saw it.

Then, six months later, I realized that I had seen it and that I never added it to my movie list…and you know, I couldn’t even remember the name of this movie, and I actually had to read about it to recall anything that happened.

I know that Julia Roberts was in it, and the guy who played the prince was cute. And there were a few good action scenes, and a couple of laughs. Oh, and Sean Bean as the king, in the end…but only for about two minutes, he had better sense than to be in a movie this mediocre.

Because it was. And completely forgettable, obviously. The special effects were okay, and a lot of it was filmed in a winter setting, which made the action scenes stand out against the snow. And…um…that’s about it.

Obviously not one of the best movies ever. Try to see it for free if you must see it.


Rise of the Planet of the Apes

August 27, 2012

Internet Movie Database
CinemaSins         Movie Reviews

It’s prequel time! This is how it all began.

This review contains SPOILERS, although trust me, I”m doing you a favor.

I love the Planet of the Apes movies. When I was a young otter (10) I saw the original awesome Charlton Heston movie at a drive in theater (note for Maid-of-Awesome and other young people*) so not only was the movie AMAZING, but the last scene made a huge impression on me, being on a gigantic screen as it was. Great movie.

The four sequels were awful but fun to watch. Then Tim Burton remade the original in 2001 and (boo! hiss!) REWROTE it (one of the things that has made me NOT like him, after he started out so promisingly…but there were others…) Anyway. He revived the whole idea…and now this.

This movie came out and I was completely indifferent to it. Then I saw previews, and they actually looked pretty good…then I heard from a couple of people that it was actualy a good movie…so I got it from my public library, where <shameless plug> you can check out dvds and blu-rays FOR FREE, folks!</shameless plug>

And worth every penny.

Because after reading about this movie, and seeing the trailers, it SOUNDED like an apocalypse movie, where we would actually see the end of human civilization happen, and see the apes take over and start to build their own society and enslave the humans and get us to where the first movie joins up…but no.

No, that couldn’t happen because that would have made it a GOOD MOVIE. Instead, we see the researchers come up with an injection that makes apes hyper intelligent, it gets into people and causes flu, and at the end of the movie we see that A) the intelligent chimps have gotten loose and have escaped to what looks like Muir Woods, except that I don’t think you can actually see the Golden Gate from there; B) people are starting to go down from the flu, and although it’s not explicitly said in the movie, this is going to wipe out the humans; and C) the Icarus (Charlton  Heston’s rocket in the first movie) has taken off and they have lost contact with it.

AND THAT’S IT. They set up all this good stuff, but you don’t actually get to SEE ANY OF IT HAPPEN.

No, What you see is a lot of scenes of people (like James Franco, who is a good actor and deserved better than this movie) interacting with the apes in various ways and the ape who is first injected with the stuff getting smarter and smarter and eventually (and this is where I fell to the floor hooting) TALKING.

So now the reality police show up. Because although I am okay with the injection that makes the apes smarter, apes are not physically built to form human speech. Just not. It would take generations for that to happen, not three days and a stressful situation.

So the movie ended…and I was all, NOOOOOO! Because even though Spider Jerusalem had seen it on my coffee table and warned me, I still watched it, expecting against all hope that it would be pretty good.

Silly me.

Profit from my mistake, True Fan, and do not watch this dog.  It’s just not worth your time.

*see, in the old days we would get in our cars and actually drive to a big parking lot with a gigantic outdoor screen to watch movies, just for the fun of it. There was a little speaker box on a pole that you could clip to the inside of your car window if you wanted to close it, but usually we all left them open. You could watch from the car seats, or on the hood, or even bring lawn chairs, and there was a place on one side of the parking lot that sold snacks, or you could bring your own. That’s a drive-in movie theater.


The Dark Knight Rises

August 27, 2012

Internet Movie Database

CinemaSins          Movie Reviews

The third and last Christian Bale Batman movie, loosely based on the Dark Knight series by Frank Miller.

Batman is in real trouble- someone had taken all his money and is terrorizing Gotham City!

I was mildly excited by this entry into the Batman series. Batman is one of the few ‘real’ superhero comics that I like, although I’m kind of picky; I only like the really dark and conflicted Batman stories, not all of them…Frank Miller’s take on the legend is great, though, so I’ve been enjoying these movies. The first two were really good.

So yeah. Kind of excited. The week after it opened, Spider Jerusalem and I took our movie cards and went to our wonderful local theater and sat back, ready for a good movie.

Unfortunately, this was not it.

What were they thinking? That we would be so distracted by the TOTAL HOTNESS of Anne Hathaway in the tight leather Catwoman suit that we wouldn’t notice the TOTAL LAMENESS of everything else?

Sure, Serious Honeys Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are still here, and they each get good stuff to do. Chriatian Bale is back as Batman, and is pretty good with what they give him.

But the big bad guy is Bane…who is JUST NOT SCARY in this movie. Not big, not bad, not threatening. He’s just a beefed up guy with a face mask…which, btw, is evidently needed for him to breathe, which is A) not part of his character in the comic books (although he often wears a mask) and B) offers an opportunity for Batman, in extremity, to damage it and thus escape him…and if that is so, why didn’t Batman do it way earlier and eradicate him as an adversary (without killing him, of course, but enough damage would have wored just fine too.)

And although the lack of facial expressions are typical of Bane, who doesn’t get the whole ‘feelings’ thing, having the mask block them is MUCH less scary than seeing this huge guy with a totally blank face causing mayhem. Bane as presented here is not scary, or even worthy to carry the whole ‘overwhelming bad guy’ part of the movie. The whole conspiracy was lame, and the final conclusion where you find out what was really going on was a big, HUH?

Also, large portions of the plot ACTUALLY DEPEND on people doing the stupidest possible thing. I’m not just talking about the ongoing monologuing rather than just shooting the enemy, which always annoys me. More like the scene where Commissioner Gordon sends EVERY COP IN THE CITY into the sewers and leaving the streets unprotected (and in Gotham City, no less, where being a violent crazy killer is barely enough to get you noticed, much less make you stand out from the crowd of psychopaths) because the plot WOULD NOT HAVE WORKED if there were police around to stop the bad guys.

MOVIE MATH: Bad writing + an overreliance on special effects x a surprise ending that doesn’t really work = a big plate full of MEH with extra MEH sauce on the side.

This one is a renter. Don’t buy it, and there really is no need to rush to the theater to see it either…you won’t miss anything by waiting til you can watch it at home, and do something else while you watch, like pet the cats or pay the bills or whatever you can find to keep your brain from screaming (all together now)

MEH!!