Finally, a Predator film that’s actually worthy of the title. Does that mean it’s a great film? Not particularly. In fact, it’s not even that great of a summer action film — but it’s about 100 times better than AVP, and really, that’s all it needed to be.
Predators starts off fairly well, as the main characters are literally dropped into the jungle and try to figure out what the hell is going on. Adrien Brody, beefed up and doing his best Batman voice, is sadly no Arnold..but he gets an ‘E’ for effort. He’s just believable enough to help me ignore the awfully convenient plot points that drive the film forward. Did anyone else notice how easily they figured things out in this alien world? Yea me too. Thankfully my suspension of disbelief remained intact for most of the film. I can forgive things like plot contrivances for the sake of story, but for a film that appeals to geeks, I sure wish it was a little smarter.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
For breakfast: Blueberry Pancakes
I like to think of 28 Weeks Later as the Aliens to 28 Days Later’s Alien. It’s the brutal, no-holds-barred, balls to the wall, action sequel that is almost the exact opposite of the atmospheric suspense of the original. It may not be the better film, but it’s definitely more intense and I think it does a better job of portraying the ‘rage’ virus, which makes the infected much scarier. Of course, it might just be the fucked up situation these people create for themselves. It goes from bad to worse to just plain depressing, and really if a zombie film isn’t going to be funny it sure as hell better be depressing.
As much as I like the first film, I’ve always found the ending a little too upbeat. Well the sequel more than makes up for that. There is no glimmer of hope, no light at the end of the tunnel — instead we’re left with the haunting images of zombies storming the Eiffel Tower. Despite it’s faults, it’s an unrelenting film and I appreciate its tenacity. Plus the helicopter mow-down is hands down one of the coolest zombie killing scenes ever. Pure. Awesome.
Mad Max (1979)
Directed by George Miller
For breakfast: Bacon, Eggs, & English Muffins
I did things sort of backwards. I saw Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome first when I was a kid, then some years later I got around to The Road Warrior. It’s only recently that I saw the film that started it all and after watching it again I feel even more strongly about the problems I have with it. Mainly the fact that it’s just plain not interesting for the first 3/4 of the movie. It basically serves as a set up for the character of Max going into the far superior sequel. Such a setup is pretty unnecessary for the series since it doesn’t offer any more depth into the post-apocalyptic world and all of Max’s backstory is frankly kind of boring.
Personally I appreciate the vagueness of the history of this world, and while you do get more information in the other films, they don’t feel the need to spell it out for you. This is one of those instances where I’m definitely more appreciative of what the filmmakers were able to accomplish on such little money than I am with the film itself. Besides, without it we wouldn’t have an awesome sequel or a cheesy but fun sequel to the sequel (with Tina Turner!).
Casino Royale (2006)
Directed by Martin Campbell
I have to confess, I’ve never been that in to James Bond…to be fair, I don’t think I have the right amount of testosterone to really appreciate it. My problem is that they’re often so silly and stilted that I can’t take them seriously. They’re still fun and the action is always pretty great, but there’s not enough meat to make it stick with you. Casino Royale tries very hard to be taken seriously, and for the most part it succeeds. Bringing more depth to the character this Bond is darker, gritter, and…well…more Bourne-like. Yes, someone was taking good notes at the Bourne School of Spy Movies and while the changes do pump some new life into the series, it forgets to have fun with it. There are a few chuckles to be had, but overall it’s missing that nice little tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that makes the series different from every other action movie, which is exactly what Bond feels like now.
Craig does a decent job but Brosnan and Moore are still my favorites. I do love the addition of Eva Green, been a big fan since The Dreamers, despite some of her scenes with Craig feeling a tad forced. Overall I think it’s a good reboot for the series considering the direction they started to go with the last two Brosnan movies. Something drastic needed to be done, I just hope they remember to bring back the fun factor at some point.
The Wild Bunch – The Director’s Cut (1969)
Directed by Sam Peckinpah
For breakfast: Biscuits ‘n Gravy
Sam Peckinpah completely demystifies and deconstructs the western in this gritty, beautiful film. I’m a huge fan of westerns and the “myths” that accompany them, but I also have a great appreciation for filmmakers who dare to turn a genre on its head (Kubrick anyone?). I came up with the term ‘poetic brutality’ after watching Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and it more than applies here. From the opening sequence, shootout after shootout plays out more like a graceful dance rather than chaotic destruction. And yet every scene still manages to maintain a level of tension that grips and pulls the audience in. No one, that’s right…NO ONE can put together a shootout like Peckinpah. Up to this point westerns were all about the sharp-shootin’, charismatic hero, but here we get no heroes. We have aging men (played perfectly by one of the best ensembles I’ve seen) in a dying land who live by a code that is dying along with it. Everyone in the film is neither good nor bad, but appropriately colored a shade of gray. They find redemption in the end by adhering to the only set of values they can have in a world that has forgotten them. God I love this movie.