Enough of books for today. What’s on the tube? Is that even a saying anymore?
Anyways, as part of a court-appointed rehabilitation program, I’ve been occasionally supplying short’n’sweet movie reviews to the excellent website Flick Attack. Here’s a short list of some recent entries:
In Firefox, Clint Eastwood, in a bold change of pace, plays a renegade computer programmer who invents a new web browser. Sound dull? Unfathomably, the real Firefox, in which Eastwood plays a burned-out pilot tasked with stealing “the most sophisticated warplane on the face of this earth,” is rarely more interesting.
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
It’s not the dated effects. It’s not the ridiculousness of the plot. It’s not the actors. No, the blame rests almost wholly with artist Robert Longo, a gent who took a $25 million budget — reputedly the largest ever for a Canadian production at the time — and directed a movie that looks as cheap as the cheapest flick Albert Pyun ever shat out. Which is cheap indeed. Like, Kickboxer 4 cheap.
Sean Connery delivers one of his best performances as a planet-weary marshal at the ass-end of space. Trying to stop the shipments of a drug that increases worker performance and causes insanity (writer/director Peter Hyams’ script is weirdly prescient of America’s meth crisis), he soon finds himself counting down the hours until hit men arrive to take him out. It’s not terribly original, and there are quibbles concerning science, gravity, technology, et al. But it also has terrific visual design, clean action, Peter Boyle, marvellous practical effects from the golden age of such, and a wonderful supporting turn by Frances Sternhagen as the local Bones McCoy, reminding us of her many talents outside of being Cliff Clavin’s mother on TV’s Cheers.
Superman III (1983)
You’re a movie executive who’s just watched a double feature of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and inspiration strikes. These movies are great, no question, but you know what they need? Laughs! You set up a meeting and pitch the filmmakers on a third Batman film, only this time the main villain will be portrayed by Adam Sandler in full Waterboy mode.
In a fairer world, Watchmen would be heralded as the one of (if not the) finest superhero movies ever made. Yet we (or at least I) simply must appreciate the miracle that it ever got made in the first place. Based on Alan Moore’s legendary graphic novel, the adaptation was never going to please everyone. Fans would complain about changes; the dim-witted, narrative complexity; the restless, length and pacing; the uptight, Dr. Manhattan’s big blue wang making them feel all squidgy inside. But for the rest (an admitted minority), Watchmen is a treat, the Godfather of superhero flicks in length, density and atmosphere.