The Desert Song

July 12, 2018

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Internet Movie Database

Another in the ‘innocuous socialite masquerading as a daring do-gooder’ genre, this time Nelson Eddie is the son of a general in the French Foreign Legion, and they all hang out in the local town. He is also (really not a spoiler) the Red Shadow, who is somehow helping the Rifs rebel against the French.

And The Girl comes to town, engaged to an officer, with Romantic Notions, so of course he decides to kidnap her so that she will fall in love with him…hey, it’s musical comedy, it doesn’t have to be PC or make sense!

This made-for-TV version of the Sigmund Romberg operetta is mostly intact; Mr. Otter checked and they cut out one song which he dismissed as ‘forgettable’. Gale Sherwood is very cute and has a fine voice, and even the aging Nelson Eddy sounds good.

Filmed in black and white, which is probably better than the hideous color mixes that would have been used in the 1950s, this is, with all its flaws, much much much much much better than the hideous 1953 movie version with Gordon MacRae and Kathryn Grayson, which still makes me shudder when I think of it, thirty-some-odd years after I saw it while dating Mr. Otter. (And I hasten to add that I saw it on TV, folks. This otter is not old enough to have seen it in the theater. (Mr. Otter is, but I’m not.))

Anyway. There are some good songs, too many dream ballet sequences (one is too many), some good dancing by Bambi Linn, and a lot of silly drama, as is usual in Romberg’s pieces.

But Mr. Otter wooed me with many of these songs, so I loved watching it with him. Baritones. They’re the BEST.


Money Train

June 7, 2018

money

Internet Movie Database           Movie Reviews

Woody and Wesley are transit cops who have a boss (Robert Blake) who is a bastard and they get back at him by hijacking the subway car that carries all the money for the transit system.

Um, stupid people doing stupid things stupidly.

This is not to say that this movie was not mildly enjoyable; Woody and Wesley are both young and cute (1995) and JLo is ditto. The plot was okay, just unbelieveable enough to make me roll my eyes, which (being in the middle of apheresis at the Red Cross) was about all I could move.

Mildly amusing, a good way to pass the time, no great shakes.


The World’s Greatest Lover

April 26, 2018

world

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

Gene Wilder goes to Hollywood to try to become a star in silent movies. Hijinks ensue.

I remember seeing this movie several times in the movie theater when it came out- I was (and am) a huge Gene Wilder fan, and this was one I remember really liking. This is Wilder’s second or third time writing and/or directing, and although it’s sort of an old-fashioned period piece full of last century’s humor, it’s still funny and charming.

Wilder plays a nebbishy guy who needs to change his life, so he brings his terminally naïve wife (played by a young Carol Kane) to Hollywood, where they enter a competition to become the new hot movie star for Rainbow Pictures, run by a demented Dom DeLuise.

And silliness happens, and charm, and funny stuff, but the ending is touching, and it’s nice to see Wilder just being his own funny self.

Bonus: we were visiting friends, one of whom mentioned that he played one of the legionnaires in this movie, and we did indeed spot his younger self in that scene!

 


Ready Player One

April 26, 2018

ready

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

From the novel of the same name by Ernest Cline.

A dystopian future where everyone lives in a virtual world and a contest pits teens against a soulless company in a race for money and power.

Okay, you all know what I’m going to say right off the bat, don’t you? Yup. READ THE BOOK FIRST. The day after I saw this I had to wear my excellent new t-shirt that says, Don’t judge a book by its film adaptation…because oh, boy is that ever true in this case.

Now, don’t get me wrong- this is a good movie. Teens competing with the evil corporation that wants to destroy something of value to them, beautiful special effects, a good solid plot, good actors, what’s not to like? Nothing. It’s a good, likeable movie.

 

But if this is the movie:

  mandala 2

This is the book:

mandala

I read this book when it came out in 2012, and loved it. And since then I have listened to it on audiobook (excellently read by WIL WHEATON) at least three times. I love love love this book. And there are so many things that they just couldn’t do in the movie…not ‘couldn’t do right’, but just could not do at all. The whole movie is packed to the gills with pop culture from the 70s to the 90s- books, movies, music, computer games, video games, television show, you name it. There is no way anyone could get the copyrights to actually use all that stuff.

Plus the main character, Wade/Parzival, narrates the whole thing in first person, and literally the first quarter of the book is backstory to the rest of what is going to happen…again, no way a movie can do that. There was a tiny bit of the backstory, because the story wouldn’t make sense without it, but not much.

But mostly- and I know many people don’t agree with this- I think the characters in the book were excellent, well drawn and really interesting. And that is the place the movie most falls short- the characters are just ‘teens on a mission’ and the viewer really doesn’t care about them at all, because there is no investment in them or their world or their problems.

So I’m not going to be a hardnose and say, don’t see the movie. I’m just going to say, if you read the book first, you’ll enjoy it more because IT’S SO MUCH BETTER.

Listen to the Otter. She know what she’s talking about.

 


Justice League

November 22, 2017

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Internet Movie Database        Movie Reviews

There are a few small SPOILERS here, but you already know what’s going to happen in this movie…a bad guy appears because of shiny powerful boxes, starts destroying cities, the good guys get together and…

Oh, wait a minute, that’s The Avengers.

Um, there are short intro segments about several superheroes who end up banding together to…

Nope, Avengers again.

There’s a bad guy somewhere beyond Earth that’s come back to take over…

Oops. Avengers.

Bright shiny boxes of dangerous stuff from the beginning of time.

Nope. Ditto.

A bunch of superheroes who don’t get along but have to work together?

Been there, done that.

Joss Whedon.

Sigh.

You know how in a lot of families, there’s a smart and charming and successful kid, and then they have a sibling who wants to be just like them but JUST DOESN’T GET IT? That second kid is DC. Oh my god, they want to be the Marvel Universe SO BADLY.

Emphasis on the BADLY.

Wonder Woman was great. I liked many things about Suicide Squad. The TV show Gotham is way amazing, and we love it, Chez Otter. But otherwise? Even when Marvel SHOWS THEM HOW TO DO IT (the aforementioned Avengers movies) they JUST DON’T GET IT.

Now, I have to admit, they are not working with a great palette…I have never been a fan of Superman, and Batman is only as good as his foils; my favorite part of the Batman universe is ancillary stuff that take place in Gotham (which is one reason that I’m enjoying the TV show so much). In this movie, Wonder Woman was fine, The Flash was cute and funny, the cyborg guy was the smart-but-conflicted-and-bitter one, and Aquaman…well, we’ll get to him.

And I have to say right now, I hated Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and didn’t much like Man of Steel either. And I knew when Superman ‘died’ that it couldn’t be permanent, because why would DC shoot themselves in the foot like that?

So yes. DC is trying to be Marvel but just failing miserably, and this movie was no exception. Sure, Gal Gadot is a really good Wonder Woman, and they actually gave her a couple of good moments. Ben Affleck as Batman…well, he was in there trying, but he didn’t have much of a part; he divided his time between being Dark and Serious, and trying to cajole everyone into staying together. The cyborg guy (whose name I just don’t remember because he was really not memorable) was there so they’d have someone to be super smart, and The Flash was the cute funny kid who makes the smartass comments.

But all of their character traits are superficial. Like they’re holding up signs saying, I’m the genius and I love my dad or I’m cute and funny and will learn to be brave when it’s needed. But nothing they do really tells us about their personality, it’s just fitting them into the boxes.

Aquaman. Yes, he’s kinda hot, and he can kick ass, but what the hell was he doing in this? The baddie stole the shiny box from his people and he was righteously angry, but he has no special powers on land, aside from looking awesome and being strong. He got ONE SCENE where his water powers were useful, just by chance, and that’s it.  And what was up with that whole thing where he was talking to his mom the Queen underwater, in their castle in Atlantis and…THEY NEEDED AN AIR BUBBLE TO TALK? Even in a comic-book universe that makes NO SENSE AT ALL. There were plot holes one could drive a Mack truck through, but of all of them that was the one that made me go, Huh?

Speaking of stupid plot holes, if I were waking a preternaturally powerful being (Superman) up from the dead with ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA whether or not he’d be insane or evil or even kind of homicidal to the guy who did him in, I wouldn’t rely on his love interest to focus his attention on the Light Side, I’d damn well have a big ol’ hunk of green kryptonite ready to go JUST IN CASE. Duh.

And DAMMIT even though he’s been dead since the first movie, they still managed to work Kevin Costner into this movie. That’s THREE TIMES I’ve seen him when I swore I’d never see another movie with him in it. Dammit.

This was ponderous and slow-moving. The villain was stupid and not scary or even interesting; he was so generic that Schwarzenegger could have played him (and sometimes I could have sworn he was…). The ‘boxes that can end the universe’ thing was kinda stupid, especially since even though they were put together, the good guys (of course) managed to pull them apart at the last minute at no actual cost to themselves. The banter was dull; the only person who got good lines was Alfred, which (much as I like Jeremy Irons) is just sad. And I really got tired of the ‘pose shots’, where they’d stop for a second in a heroic pose. Once in a movie is okay. Maybe twice. But that’s it.

And Joss Whedon. He kind of plays both sides of the fence, Marvel and DC. When Zach Snyder (writer and director) had to step down, Whedon took over for the last six weeks of shooting…and gets no director credit. But he DOES get a screenplay credit, which according to The Rules means at least 33% of the script is his. Interesting. But even Joss Whedon couldn’t save this turkey.

This is a SUPERHERO ACTION MOVIE, folks. What it should be is fast-moving, fun to watch, and full of action balanced with character development. What it should NOT be is dull and ponderous, with characters who have no chemistry together. And of course as soon as you bring Superman into the mix, it kind of ends any suspense the viewer might be feeling about whether or not the universe will be saved; there is no chance of mission failure.

On the other hand, the mission is the movie…and the movie is a failure. But this is an ‘epic’, so…EPIC FAIL.

 

 


How to Stuff a Wild Bikini

August 28, 2017

Internet Movie Database         Movie Reviews

We were visiting Craiggers in his lair, and (among other fun and games) we had an evening to watch a movie in. Mr. Otter and Craiggers share a dark secret: they both love Annette Funicello/Beach Blanket type movies from the 60s. We have watched several before with our friend, and it was time for another one!

This was the last of these movies that Funicello made, and in fact, because of her contract with Disney, she couldn’t wear a bikini (unlike pretty much every other woman there…). She had long pants and long sleeves every time she was on camera, even on the beach (she was bookish, and we all know that THOSE PEOPLE never have any fun!)

There was a frame story about her boyfriend being in the South Pacific with the Naval Reserve, and he hires a witch doctor (Buster Keaton) to magically keep an eye on her. There is an animated bikini filled with an invisible ghostly presence floating around for extra laughs, and hijinks ensue.

This was better than some; there were some funny scenes, and it didn’t take itself seriously at all. A good evening’s silliness, especially with alcohol involved…!


My Favorite Spy

April 8, 2017

spy

Internet Movie Database          Movie Reviews

A silly farce where things are lost and found, people are mistaken, and hijinks ensue.

It was December. We were making plans for our yearly New Year’s Day Videofest, and I had a list of movies starring Hedy Lamarr, because that was our theme for this year. Mr. Otter and I discussed possible movies, taking into account what was available on Netflix, at our local libraries, and things we could either buy cheaply or rent cheaply from Amazon. This movie streamed for free, and Mr. Otter said, Oh, I saw that when it was new, it was HILARIOUS. Great, I said, we don’t have any comedies, let’s go with that.

And we did. It was #6, after everyone else (Ottersis, mostly) had left, and we started watching it. And after a bit, Mr. Otter said, um.

Um? I said, something wrong?

Well, said Mr. Otter rather sheepishly, this isn’t the movie I was thinking of. I just remembered that the hilarious spy movie that I mixed up with this one was called Comrade X. I’ve never seen this one.

Um, I said…

But it was there and we watched it. Silly lightweight farce. Lamarr and Bob Hope were individually good but didn’t have much chemistry. The plot was heavy on slapstick and light on plot. It was okay but not great.

Um.