Dolittle

March 3, 2020

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Dr. Doolittle sets out (with his apprentice and a bunch of animals) to find a cure for the Queen’s illness.

I have so many things to say about this movie, very little of it positive…so hold onto your hats, kids ! Oh, and there are SPOILERS if anyone cares (and you shouldn’t, really. Trust the Otter.)

Firstly, let me say that I loved these books; I had a collection of four or five of them in paperback that I read over and over and over. Before seeing this movie I reread the first one, The Story of Dr. Dolittle. And enjoyed it, although being a British book of its time, it is not politically correct in any way. So I was ready to see a more modern and less Rex Harrison-y version, and to like it very much. I mean, ROBERT DOWNEY JR? Oh yes.

And I was in the theater with Ottersis. And the movie started…and the opening credits were pretty awesome. They were set against a series of drawings showing the story of how Dolittle had a medical practice, learned to talk to animals, met a beautiful woman explorer, fell in love, she had to go on one more voyage, her ship was wrecked, and she sent Polly the parrot (whose REAL name was Polynesia, dammit!) back to Dolittle with her wedding ring…and he became a recluse.

THEN the movie started with him hiding in his house like Willy Wonka in the shut-down chocolate factory.

And you know what they say about sequels, that they’re never as good as the first movie? It was true in this case too…because the story that was told in the opening credits was AWESOME and would have made a WONDERFUL movie. This, although technically a stand-alone, was really a sequel to that story, and like most sequels…it SUCKED. (Here’s Otter’s list of Sequels that Don’t Suck)

Firstly, it was predictable. Grieving curmudgeon is forced to come back to life by a cute child and His Duty.

Secondly, the animals were way more fun than any of the actors.

Thirdly, Downey was just not at the top of his game. He was so completely phoning it in that I thought maybe he owed a favor to whoever made this damn thing and had been forced to appear in it. I mean, Iron Man. The Avengers. And as soon as his Avengers contract is over, he does…THIS? But no. He was the executive producer. It was his baby.

He must bear the blame. Especially for NOT engaging his audience, a mortal sin in a kids’ movie. Gene Wilder was a curmudgeon but (as soon as the ‘walking slowly out of the factory and scaring everyone’ part was over, he was obviously fun and interesting and engaged with the kids. Downey…was not. Granted, it can’t have been easy doing that much green screen time, since most of the actors in this movie (the animals) were cgi…but he’s done this before and it’s worked. It truly looked and felt like he just didn’t want to be there at all. And after a bit, neither did I. He was so low-key and nonreactive that it was almost painful to watch him…he was certainly not interested in engaging his audience, any more than he was interested in the movie he was STARRING IN…!

Fourthly, the plot was trite and didn’t make sense. The queen is sick, we have to assume Queen Victoria, although she is never mentioned by name. She is played by a 30 year old woman and looks younger than that, but we’ll give it 30. That would mean this movie is set in 1869 or thereabouts, but nothing in the politics or period detail reflect this. But wait, you say, this is a kid’s movie, you are overthinking it! Nope. If a movie has a definite time and place, it has to WORK. This didn’t. And of course there are plots, and one of her advisors is poisoning her with a nebulous poison that leaves her at the brink of death for an unspecified time, which Dolittle goes off on adventures and gets the fruit to make her better and gets back JUST in time to unmask the bad guy and fix ol’ Queenie right up. Shades of The Magician’s Nephew, seriously.

The CGI animals were darn cute, although a little too cute and scene-stealy. The rest of the cast was fine. But the plot…there were other plot problems, which brings me to

Fifthly. More than once, we are told about something amazing and exciting, either because the movie was getting too long or they ran out of CGI budget. There was a point, I think when they reached the island of the guy who was supposed to help them but threw them into prison instead, and the movie literally cut from the ship to them climbing up the ramparts of the castle while the parrot (Emma Thompson) who was also the narrator told us that amazing adventures had happened to get them there. Huh? Then why didn’t you show them to us instead of referring to them so offhandedly? This is just plain bad writing, for whatever reason, and should not have happened.

So yes, I disliked this movie intensely. It was badly written, Downey was awful, and the plot, even for a kid’s movie, was trite and annoying. Why, oh why, did they not make the movie from the beginning credits? I guess we’ll never know…

 


City Beneath the Sea

February 4, 2020

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A city beneath the sea. Alien attacks. Irwin Allen. What more do you need to know?

We knew this would be cheesy going into it…Irwin Allen, for those of you who missed the 1970s, is synonymous with big (or low, in this case) budget disaster movies, his two most famous being The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. This…is not of that calibre.

This is a silly, low-budget, badly written filler of a movie. The sets are slightly futuristic but minimally so to keep them cheap; I was about to say they were on a par with low-budget tv series of the time, and looked on IMDB and found that this was indeed a made-for-tv movie. Nuf sed. The costumes lean towards jumpsuits for the men and tight miniskirts for the women, because the future will of course be like that. The writing is abysmal, about the level of a 1930s serial movie like Flash Gordon. This movie is only good to make fun of, which we did.

Otherwise, don’t waste your time on this dog.

 


Beauty and the Beast (2017)

September 3, 2017

beauty

Internet Movie Database
CinemaSins         Movie Reviews.

From the fairy tale by Charles Perrault.

In order to save her father, Belle agrees to go live at the Beast’s castle, and of course they fall in love and his curse is lifted.

There are SPOILERS ahead. Just go on and read this anyway, it’ll save you from having to see it.

Hey, Disney! I have a great idea! Why don’t you take one of the BEST MOVIES EVER, the 1991 animated version, with good writing, an innovative story, lyrics by Howard Ashman, and some of the most romantic scenes ever…and do a COMPLETELY SCREWED UP REMAKE?

<facepalm> Why, oh why did they do this? There are SO MANY THINGS WRONG WITH IT…let’s count them, shall we?

  1. Live action. Now, this might have been okay, and in fact I was looking forward to it, if they had just remade the original, exactly as it was, but changing the animation to real people and settings; that would have made it different enough to be interesting, but kept the parts that made it good.
  2. Emma Watson. I really like her, and she looked good…but she can’t really sing. She was in there trying, and hit all the notes, but in my head, I was comparing her with the memorized voice of Paige O’Hara, and Ms. Watson just didn’t cut it.
  3. Gaston. Luke Evans was in there trying, but he just wasn’t convincing. And one of the best parts of the original is that Gaston is purely and simply self-centered chauvinistic evil, so you can really get behind hating him. It seemed to me that they tried to soften his badness and give him more of a personality. Didn’t work.
  4. All the furor over Disney’s first ‘openly gay’ character. Whatever. Firstly, it’s 2017, guys, that shouldn’t even have been an issue. Especially that he is their first. Secondly, he’s the villain’s stupid sidekick. Way to be inclusive, Disney. Great step forward, there.
  5. Kevin Kline. Sigh. How the mighty have fallen. Was he out of money or something?
  6. TIM RICE. Oh my god, I will never forgive them for this. The original has about five, maybe six songs, some of them repeated with other words or used as a theme for a certain character. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken were an amazing duo, and I am still sad about Ashman’s death; he was THE BEST LYRICIST at Disney, and losing him was awful. So when Mr. Otter and I were watching this, and I was still at the point where I expected it to follow the brilliant original pretty closely, suddenly there was a song. I don’t remember which one, maybe Kevin Kline sang it…and I said to Mr. Otter, WTF? This isn’t one of the original songs, they added it.  In fact, they added several, and (I said to Mr. O) they sounded like bad Anthony Newley songs…and I wasn’t far wrong. They hired TIM RICE to do three songs. Menken said, We wanted to add material where it felt organic (what does that even MEAN?). The new songs are awful and kind of boring.
  7. TIME TRAVEL. No joking. I am actually going to include the plot synopsis from IMDB because I can’t even make myself type the words: The Beast later shows Belle an enchanted book that allows anyone to travel anywhere they want to go if they can visualize it. Belle places her hand in the book and they are transported to an old house in Paris. It was once home to Maurice and his wife when Belle was a baby. The Beast finds a doctor’s mask, indicating that Belle’s mother was killed by the plague. A flashback shows Maurice tending to his wife as she is dying. She tells him to protect Belle, and all that was left behind was a glass rose, which Belle finds. Why? Why on earth is there any need for this? If you look up the word GRATUITOUS in the dictionary, there will be a reference to this sequence. By this point, Mr. Otter and I were hooting at the screen.
  8. The ending. Not only does a bridge crumble in the nick of time to send Gaston to his doom (granted, in the original he slipped, couldn’t get a handhold and fell off the tower, but at least it was satisfying) but THE BEAST DIES. Yup, stone dead, and everyone and everything in the castle feels the curse falling on them forever, they’re turning into the objects that they have been animating, and it’s all over. But no! It’s Benji-peril! Disney has the sorceress who originally cursed the prince and the castle COME IN AND SAVE THEM ALL. Not Belle kissing the Beast just in time. No. She failed, he failed, they all failed and if the sorceress hadn’t decided to come in and do her magic, it would all have been for nothing. This is on a par with Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, where the fairies actually defeat the dragon for the prince but he gets the credit for it.
  9. No, that’s enough, my whole brain is curdling just thinking about this movie.

This was a bad idea, badly done, badly executed, badly rewritten and DISNEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.

I’m going to re-watch the good one to get the bad taste out of my brain. Want to join me? we could have a sing-along….

 


The Hateful Eight

February 11, 2016

eight

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CinemaSins          Movie Reviews

A bunch of people are locked up in a cabin in a blizzard. Shenanigans!

Oh, Quentin Tarantino. How do I love and hate thee? let me count the ways:

Love: Brilliant, incisive dialog.

Hate: Bad-boy glee in using words and saying things calculated purely to offend, whether or not they are useful/appropriate/apropos in the movie.

Love: Action! Action! Action!

Hate: Action does not equal plot. Killing everyone off is not necessarily the best way to resolve the issues presented in the movie.

Love: Screw science, physics and  history, I’ll write it my own way.

Hate: Screw science, physics and  history, I’ll write it my own way, whether or not it makes sense.

Love: I can do any damn thing I want because I’m TARANTINO!

Hate: Nobody can stop me from doing really pointless and stupid scenes because I’m TARANTINO!

Okay, that’s enough, you get the idea.

Hollywood’s bad boy director has made his eighth movie and titled it in such a way as to make sure everyone who hears about it knows it. And as usual, it’s a mixed bag (see above.)

There are a lot of good things about this movie- great actors doing their best with what they’re given- Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern, and Kurt Russell, to name the toppers. The filmmaking is beautiful, although the opening shot of the stagecoach in the snow lasted approximately two of the three hours of this film’s running time. The working out of the plot, of eight people coming together in this cabin who each have their own agenda and stuff to work out with the other characters is a good idea (remember Stagecoach, anyone? it worked there too…better than here…). The plot is full of (supposed) surprises that are meant to make the viewer go, Whoa! Didn’t see that coming! And the violence is suitably violent.

But.

And you were waiting for this, too, weren’t you?

Like Stephen King, who exasperated me so much at one point that I created my own ‘Write your own Stephen King novel!) page, Tarantino has become unstoppable…and I mean that in a bad way. Nobody can say no to him. Nobody can tell him anything. Nobody can edit him down to a concise, well structured story and a reasonably paced movie. And this movie suffers from all those things.

I am willing to concede the coincidences that brought all these people together in this place and time, to work out all the grudges they have against each other.  I am even willing to sit through a three hour movie to see all of this worked out. What I am not willing to do is to be bored for three hours while doing it.

Mr. Otter and I were both expecting this to be a good movie; we have seen most of Tarantino’s oeuvre, and liked all of them except for Kill Bill 1 and 2, which we agreed was good moviemaking but not having seen the movies referenced, it didn’t do much for us. We are not intimidated by blood and body parts, bad words, sexual references or innuendos, loud noises, gross stuff happening onscreen, or Samuel L. Jackson acting to the top of his bent.

We watched this movie. And turned to each other and said, was it me, or was that just TEDIOUS?

The characters, none of whom are supposed to be likeable (hence the first word in the title) are none of them interesting. They are a bunch of people who are thrown together, connected in tenuous ways and by coincidence, and given motives which are mostly not revealed to the audience until part or most of the way through the film…with no previous hint of what was going to be revealed, so the audience just says, Huh? instead of being in on the reveal. This is Tarantino, like a kid who has to prove himself over and over, in the worst manner of a bad detective fiction writer, showing the audience how he is smarter than they are. Over and over and over.

There are a lot of things that make no sense in this movie, but the ones that still annoy me a month later when I write this (and yes, I did call in the Reality Police) are:

  1. They are in a permanent dwelling in Wyoming, and it’s winter (hence the blizzard) and yet in both the house and the barn, you can see light shining through the chinks in the planks. Everyone in the house and all the horses in the barn (who, btw, they put away hot without cooling them down) would be frozen to death, stove and fireplace notwithstanding. Certainly nobody would be wearing light cotton dresses, as the women in the flashback are.
  2. The whole desert scene where Jackson describes (and Tarantino shows) what Jackson did to the Southern general’s son. This had no actual bearing on the plot other than the fact of it happening. I was not shocked by it, I just rolled my eyes at Tarantino again gleefully saying, I’m so famous I can get away with THIS and nobody can stop me!
  3. The ‘haberdashery’ (does Tarantino even know what that word means? it’s not a general store, it’s a men’s clothing store. Why would there be one in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming?) is run by a free African American woman and her white (husband? lover? ) who obviously have a relationship. There is NO WAY IN HELL that either they would allow this infamous Southern general, trash-talking about people of color, to stay there, and there is NO WAY IN HELL that he would stay for a minute in a place run by these people. That made absolutely no sense.

Many of the plot points that combine to create the final bloodbath make just as little sense; I found myself saying, Huh? many times, and it may have all worked out if I watched the movie again knowing what was happening…but I have no desire to.

Skip this, it is indeed hateful, and not in a good way. Next time I want to do something tedious, I’ll clean out the fridge; at least at the end of that three tedious hours, something useful will have been done.


Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs

August 8, 2014

goldfoot2

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Dr. Goldfoot is back with another nefarious plot to take over the world.

Mr. Otter and I were in Austin, visiting Craiggers. We had had a really fun day of bookstores, food, games and had gone to see Guardians of the Galaxy in a local movie theater. We didn’t want our visit to be over, so around 10 pm we all decided to watch this, having enjoyed the first Dr. Goldfoot movie the night before.

What we didn’t know was that this one is completely different; I quote from IMDB:

Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) was only a moderate box-office success in America but a big hit in Italy and as such this sequel was shot in Italy with an Italian director Mario Bava and with two Italian comedic movie stars, Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia.

Also gone was Frankie Avalon, replaced by the extremely wooden Fabian. The only cast member who returned was Vincent Price as the campy and amusingly over-the-top Dr. Goldfoot…and even his wonderfulness wasn’t enough to save this movie.

The plot was awful, the acting was extremely bad (even for this type of campy low-budget movie) and the two Italians they put in as the comic relief made us groan and yell imprecations at the screen whenever they showed up. They did slapstick of the stupidest and most annoying kind, and got WAY too much screen time.

Even if you loved the first Dr. Goldfoot movie, give this one a pass. Trust the Otter.

 


The Lone Ranger

February 6, 2014

ranger

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the neverending franchise, but originally from a radio program that debuted in 1933.

I was so excited by  the previews of this movie. This tells you how much they have figured out in the science/art of making previews that make people want to see movies, whether or not the movies are any good…

And Serious Honey Johnny Depp! no need to tell my True Fans how awesome he is, even in a bad movie or a very bad movie, he is worth watching. But in full makeup as…Tonto? Really? Okay, I’m willing to go with it, ever since I scorned Disney for making an AMUSEMENT PARK RIDE into a MOVIE…and was proved to be so very very wrong…

But then there were more previews…and they seemed…off, somehow. Hm, I said to Serious Movie Buddy Spider Jerusalem, maybe we should save our ten bucks and see this at home…? and he agreed with me.

So here it was, a Saturday afternoon that not only was I not working, but I had no other plans for. There were three movies that we had not seen in the theaters that we wanted to watch, and this was one of them

And oh my god, we were so glad we had NOT paid ten bucks to see this dog of a suckmonster. I started msting it ten minutes into the movie. It was truly terrible. And because it’s February, here is a valentine that tells how I feel about it:

Lone Ranger movie, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways:

A. Hammer is no actor, never was
And Johnny Depp was wasted, that’s no lie.
They both are silly, less than meets the eye
Though Depp can act, while Hammer never does.
The history sucks, there’s no point saying this-
As SJ said, the writers had no brain.
When, at the end, at him I did complain
He laughed at me for every cry and hiss.
The music was, of course, from William Tell
alternately with one more fiddle tune
repeated, o’er and o’er, because a goon
had writ the score and knew just these two well.
And now I tell you, honestly and true,
Avoid this flick! you’ll thank me if you do.

And the fifteen minutes that it took me to express my disdain in sonnet form was WAY more thought than ANYONE put into this movie. What a pastichy mishmosh of a bastardized bad idea with supposedly cool stuff thrown in! SJ mocked me when I screamed at the television that they couldn’t have been playing Stars and Stripes Forever at Promontory Point in 1869 because John Philip Sousa was ONLY FIFTEEN THEN. Not to mention the wild train chase away from there…through TREE LINED CANYONS. On DOUBLE TRACKS. Oh my god.

Oh, and the music thing: of course during two of the big action scenes they had to do the third part of the William Tell Overture; I was actually okay with this. But every time they wanted mood music, they did a sad orchestral version of the fiddle tune After the Battle of Aughrim (here’s a decent version of it on mando and guitar). Yes, a great tune but DAMN I got tired of it and really don’t want to be thinking of this crappy pile of wasted…I was going to say cellulose but movies aren’t, any more…ELECTRONS when I hear it from now on. And I will. Dammit.

No point going on, even Depp couldn’t save this. I’m sure he insisted on the full makeup at all times so he could pretend he wasn’t even there…but we know you were, Mr. Depp. And we also know that you have signed on for a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. And if you want to keep your coveted position of Serious Honey on Otter’s blog site…well, just look to Nicholas Cage and be warned.

Avoid this film like the heap of idiocy it is. If you want something fun and steampunky that’s set in the same time period, I highly recommend Wild Wild West. Let’s watch it together and take the evil taste of this movie out of my mouth. Feh.


World War Z

October 27, 2013

wwz

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From the book of the same name by Max Brooks.

And there the resemblance ends.

Because the book was REALLY REALLY GOOD.

It’s a history of the Zombie Wars, told after the fact, by the writer interviewing survivors from all over the world, giving a picture of what happened, and how the world is coming back. I’ve read it twice, and it is amazingly good- full of great characters and riveting details, a wonderful read.

So when we heard that they were making a movie of it, Spider Jerusalem and Mr. Otter and I were excited. Starring Brad Pitt? even better. Shot all over the world? great, the book takes place in many locations, that’s perfect.

And then we started hearing about the rewrites…and our hopes plummeted like a zombie thrown out of a 747 when Brad Pitt blows the back end off the plane.

Because by the time they released the movie, it was clear that the movie and the book had NOTHING in common except the title. So when it came out at the theaters…we saved our ten bucks and waited til we could rent it cheap. Which we did last week. And we were so glad we didn’t pay for it in the theater.

Because it SUCKED. Within the first fifteen minutes, I was making snide comments. Spider Jerusalem turned to me, amused, and said, you’re msting it already? it’s that bad? Yup, I said, it’s that bad.

Not only the idiotic plot, which has Brad Pitt flying from one part of the world to another trying to chase down someone who supposedly has a cure for the zombies or an immunity or something…but so many things that were just STOO-PID, as we say Chez Otter:

  • If people turn into zombies within 10 minutes, how did they spread? there’s no way someone could get on an airplane without people finding out, and the one scene where one did, the only way he got loose was because someone did something stupid. Not believeable.
  • If the zombies could pile themselves up and get inside the walls around Jerusalem (those huge walls were built in a week? really?) then why did they wait til Brad Pitt showed up? and if the whole country around J is overrun with zombies, where did the line of refugees entering the gate come from?
  • If a communicable disease like typhus keeps zombies from noticing you, and someone in Jerusalem has it (as we saw) there should have been a WHOLE LOT of people being ignored by zombies…that’s what ‘communicable’ means, especially in crowded living conditions.

And…no, there’s no point, it was just stupid. Skip this dog (special effects notwithstanding) and read the book instead.