There’s only so long you can stare at a screen before something has to appear on it, so I’ll open with what comes to mind then build from there. Scale, widespread. Sets, tangible. length, overt. effects… effective. characters, mixed bag. Overall what we get from director Gore Verbinski’s first “Pirates” film is an effective adventure that struggles to justify it’s length but undeniably tries admirably to do so, in the end being a truly satisfying experience.
“The Fast and the Furious” is a whirlwind of simplistic virtues. With the release of the seventh movie of the franchise I decided to undertake the task of watching the previous six movies. I am a longtime sufferer of sequel syndrome and refuse to watch a movie without having seen the previous, it’s an incurable affliction. So here I am, starting at first base and just now realising that this analogy will only apply to a quadrilogy, but I digress. As simple as it is, “The Fast and the Furious” is sufficiently stylish and vibrant enough that it becomes easy to appreciate how Rob Cohen brings these elements together. There is nothing new here of course, but these cars go really, really fast.
Having IMDB open in another tab has become something of a religious requirement for my reviews now. As a result, I am always conscious of the score that has been awarded to what I have just watched (though this never colours my perception of the film). “Lassie”, directed by Daniel Petrie, is a lovely family film that I found quite tough to dislike, not that I tried. Baffled then was I that the score on IMDB is a measly 5.8, a score that seems to almost guarantee mediocrity. Not this time, “Lassie” is a flawed film like so many others but children will almost certainly love it and as I said, it is difficult to not enjoy on some level.
I have seen “Blade” before, I didn’t think much of it. I thought it was silly and indulged itself too often in dumb and over the top action sequences. Upon my second viewing of “Blade” I found myself liking it a lot more. This time I thought it was silly and indulged itself in dumb and over the top action sequences. It’ll split people that way, and maybe I have just loosened up since my initial viewing. Either way, “Blade” is a fun time even if it doesn’t exactly take the mind along for the ride.
“I feel thin. Sort of stretched… like butter scraped over too much bread.” — Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo Baggin’s seems to be speaking on behalf of “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” with this line. The first of the blockbuster epic franchise, and what was surely the hardest of the books to film. In Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” the most distance is covered by the Fellowship and Frodo goes to many different locals that are each fully fleshed out and serve to establish the expansive world of Middle Earth. In this adaption of the 1954 novel, the Hobbits and their allies in the Fellowship go to far less places, and spend far less time in each. The film can’ t accommodate for the grand scope of the novels, even with the concessions made by Peter Jackson. Each location mainly serves to create some sort of action set piece that is usually very impressive, and the feeling of the start of an epic adventure is what makes the first part of Tolkien’s film trilogy truly worth your time.
I’m yet to watch “21 Jump Street” again since it came out and actually review it, but I’ll say that when I did see it I thought it was actually a surprise in terms of how good it was, I really enjoyed it. The fact that no one truly expected “21” to be worthwhile is made fun of in “22 Jump Street” in quite an amusing way… Along with the fact that “22” is a sequel to a teen movie, and that the headquarters has conveniently moved across the street to accommodate the numerical adjustment to the title. The point is, the movie enjoys mocking itself to no end, and it is actually pretty hilarious for movie fans and fans of comedy alike. “22 Jump Street” will make you laugh more than you might expect, but it isn’t quite as good as the previous entry beyond that.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” presents new ideas to the blockbuster strategy, or at the very least, Marvel’s take on how to effectively make blockbuster movies. With “Guardians” we see that Marvel doesn’t just insist on playing it safe with their tried and tested franchises, namely anything to do with “The Avengers”. I knew before sitting down to watch the film that if it is received positively by the general audience then perhaps more than just Marvel studios will be given the green light to really try something new and to at the very least be able to take themselves less seriously once in a while. If the optimist inside hadn’t shrivelled up and wasted away whilst watching “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, I would tell you that “Guardians of the Galaxy” is sure to give way to a glorious era of a new breed of blockbuster, which is still recognisable as such with the action and the visuals but with just more of a difference. Whether it will or not I can’t say, but “Guardians of the Galaxy” is certainly different and refreshingly so, fingers crossed for the future.
Halfway through “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” I stopped and looked at my notes. I wasn’t being too kind to Harry and it looked as if it was going to end up with a fairly average score. At this halfway point however I did realise that my framework for quality was overly rigid, and essentially what I was looking for in Harry Potter were the same sort of things I would look for in “Citizen Kane” or “Casablanca”. I realise now that “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, should be judged on it’s own merits and what it actually accomplishes. After all, it would be ridiculous to compare “The Goonies'” with “Gone With the Wind”. Though that shouldn’t under any circumstances detract from either films greatness, or lack thereof.
There are some arguments about what exactly a sequel should be. Some will tell you that it’s to be the same as the first movie but with improvements made all around (because we know how often that happens) and some will say that the point is to change the formula and create something new out of previous concepts. I tend to not care as long as I get another film that is worth watching and doesn’t just reuse the formula until it’s boring. Franchises have done this time and time again and I’m sick of it. “Aliens” takes what Ridley Scott did with “Alien” and does almost exactly what it says on the tin, makes the enemy plural.
There are few times I find myself happier than when I expect a film to be bad, and it turns out to be of actual quality. It’s a rare occurrence, usually I am not too far away from the general consensus of the audience and even if I am, the critics tend to represent my opinion more reliably. “Planet of the Apes”, which was directed by none other than Tim Burton (Frankenweenie, Edward Scissorhands), isn’t just not terrible, it is a genuinely good film that just suffers from a few evident flaws that cause it to lag just behind the heights of the original.