All I remember about November is we watched a lot of crap. Complete and total crap. Instead of sticking to the trustworthy collection, we decided to knock out a few movies we missed — intentionally or not. Bad idea.
Back to the Future (1985)
This has been a personal favorite since I was a kid and it always remains somewhere within my top 20. Some claim that it hasn’t held up over time, but I respectfully disagree. There are so many memorable and iconic moments throughout the film that I find it near impossible not to be sucked in and taken along for the ride. I think this is mostly due to the minimal special effects that prevent it from feeling too dated, plus the fact that it already seems to be parodying the ’80s. It doesn’t for one second take itself too seriously and neither do we.
Back to the Future Part II (1989)
Now this film has the opposite effect on me, I like it less every time I see it. In trying to be bigger and better, there are more special effects, and it ends up feeling very dated. The humor is cheapened and the plot is basically one big excuse to revisit all the moments we loved from the first film.
Battle Los Angeles (2011)
This is a film that should have plunked you in the middle of the action, given an intense ride, and let the characters and relationships develop naturally through the chaos (ala, let’s say, Saving Private Ryan). Instead it forced story and drama into places they have no business being. It tried so hard to get me to like these cardboard characters it was borderline offensive. Get off my lawn bro, I came for the action.
I didn’t know much going into this film, other than it was a big hit at SXSW. This is one of those rare occasions where I hadn’t even watched the trailer, so my expectations were pretty much zero. I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised by this contemporary Critters in the inner city. Sure it’s flawed and filled with plot contrivances, but the fun you have makes up for it.
The dynamic of the kids keeps you hooked and laughing through the absurdity. Think the Goonies where the gang is comprised of little shits that mug people and use their teenage machismo to battle the gorilla-wolf-motherfuckers that are invading their block. Throw in some over-the-top drug dealers and an overly dramatic climax and you’ve got yourself a silly little film that hearkens back to the 1980s. It’s not a great film, but it’ll make you smile.
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.
The Matrix (1999)
Directed by The Wachowski Brothers
For breakfast lunch: Sandwiches from Spinelli’s
I remember when this came out, my friend Sandy and I were so excited that we skipped basketball practice (something I had never done) to go see it opening day. During the opening sequence, my jaw dropped, and I don’t think I fully recovered until the credits started to roll. Even though it shared some things with Dark City, which was released one year earlier, The Matrix felt unlike anything I’d ever seen before.
Why did they have to go and ruin it?
Despite the fact that the film has held up quite well over the years, it is forever tainted by the absolute awfulness of the two sequels. I can’t help it. I can’t get the raves, convoluted plot lines, stilted dialogue, or disappointing fights scenes out of my head. Okay, the freeway chase was cool — I’ll give you that. It’s just frustrating that a film can stand so solidly on its own and still fall victim to the Hollywood machine’s insistance on taking it too far.
I still enjoy watching it though, and this latest Blu-ray release makes it look pretty damn spectacular. I’d say I was almost as mesmerized as I was that afternoon 10 years ago
Directed by Matt Reeves
For breakfast: Biscuits and Gravy
I love a good monster movie and when one comes around that’s as clever and well-executed as Cloverfield, it’s hard not to be pleasantly surprised. The shaky, 1st person camera is a tough thing to pull off without being obnoxious, see The Blair Witch Project, but I think Cloverfield does a pretty good job of it. Of course it helps that JJ Abrams seems to bring a certain amount of energy to everything he’s involved with and this film definitely has plenty of energy. It’s an intense ride that only occasionally dips its toe into silliness and despite it’s contrivances it keeps the viewer engaged for the swift 80 minute run time.
Speaking of the run time, I think it’s fairly impressive what all the filmmakers are able to accomplish in such short span of time. The characters and back story, while somewhat cheesy, are solid enough to make us care about what’s happening on screen. My only real complaint is that they’re far too young for the jobs they’re supposed to have and the apartments they allegedly live in…in Manhattan no less. Had the characters been maybe 10 years older I wouldn’t be distracted with logistics while a giant monster tears up New York City. But honestly, there’s really no place for logic when it comes to a film like this.
Now I’m not sure what all should be attributed to director Matt Reeves, or whether it was Abrams or the writing or all of the above, but I just love how everything about the film was so well done and thought out — from the great ad campaign that left us wanting more all the way through to the enjoyable finished product. That’s not to say the film isn’t flawed, it absolutely is, but the overall experience is so intense that it’s just plain fun.