Wednesday, August 20, 2014
G.I. Joe movie. And my connection to Joe is more 1970s Adventure Team than the 1980s Yo Joe anti-terrorists. I felt that the first movie was meant only for folks into the 80s toys and didn't care if it left everyone else behind. I expected more of the same with G.I. Joe: Retaliation. I was pleasantly surprised.
In the aftermath of that first movie the big bads, Cobra, swore revenge. Not only did they get it, but as this film begins, they have already won. The President has been compromised, he is held prisoner as Cobra operative Zartan masquerades as PotUS. An air strike takes out all of the Joes except for a handful who must rebuild and take back a country that now finances and iodizes Cobra as heroes and hates the Joes as villains.
I'm not a fan of Channing Tatum. He's never impressed me much, but here, in the precious little time he's on screen, his chemistry with The Rock is enough so that you miss him and you really almost feel the pain when he dies. Yeah, it's that good. The Rock, as Roadblock, brings his comrades home to the hood to regroup. The Rock equally is good.
David E. Kelley pilot Wonder Woman Adrianne Palicki (who has also just been cast as Mockingbird in "Agents of SHIELD," wow, somebody wants to be a superhero bad) and D.J. Cotrona who is basically Channing Tatum lite.
In between the interesting scenes with The Rock, Bruno and company, there are ninja interludes featuring characters with names like Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and Jinx. I didn't have any emotional connection or even knowledge of them, so I just enjoyed them for the James Bond/Shaw Brothers wannabes they were. Fun but hollow.
All in all, while a bit dark in places, G.I. Joe: Retaliation was a fun action flick with more warmth and depth than I ever would have expected. If you're looking for a better than average actioner, this is it. You might be just as surprised as I was.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
When the last new show of the current season aired, I actually thought of Don and how long he's been at this, Googled his age and was surprised. I loved the man, and loved his sense of humor, and his ability to deadpan a joke when needed. He did this to great effect in "Weird" Al Yankovic's "I Lost on Jeopardy" and when his usual announcement that "guests of Saturday Night Live stay at the Marriott's Essex House" became part of a bit. He did it with the same finesse as always.
Monday, August 18, 2014
YouTube as I had never heard of such a thing before. This twelve-minute short from 1966 is indeed the first animated version, predating the Rankin-Bass film by eleven years. Rumor has it the producer, William L. Snyder, had to make a movie before selling off the rights. By making a short, Snyder walked off with quite a profit, and then made more from the rights sale.
The only thing that may stop viewers in their tracks is a previous knowledge of the JRR Tolkien story. Snyder has irrationally changed character names, streamlined events, and eliminated a few dwarves and details along the way. It seems just fine to the uninitiated however.
I am reminded of HBO's "Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child." This is fun, and an oddity for the Tolkien fans, worth checking out.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Brewster's Millions is an old idea however. Previous to Richard Pryor's updating, there was a 1945 film, one of a total of ten movie versions, radio dramas, stage plays on and off Broadway, a musical, and numerous adaptations for TV either veiled or obvious. It's been done in cartoons, to music, and even in Bollywood. The story of a man forced to spend money to learn the value of money is resilient. Old ideas get around.
Here's the gist. Penniless Monty Brewster comes home from the war to find he's inherited eight million dollars, but in order to get it, he must first spend a million dollars in sixty days, with no assets, and not let anyone know why he's doing it. His dead uncle wanted him to hate spending money.
There is care, and comedy, in the style of the decade depicted, but no one on screen approaches the charisma level of Eddie Anderson. I think I would have really dug the movie more had he been cast as Brewster. Still, it's a pleasant entertaining film, and I was happy to see it again. See it if you get the chance.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
An animated musical, it stars Robert Goulet in his big screen debut and Judy Garland during one of her final comebacks. Uninspired songs, complex fine art inspired backgrounds, and failure to capture the imagination of either adults or children led to its unfortunate sweeping under the rug.
As a kid I remember being bored by it, but even then recognizing the later Chuck Jones style, and that I disliked it. As an adult, I do appreciate the backgrounds a bit more, but they do little to enhance the subpar Jones characters, mannerisms, gimmicks, and inadequate pacing. Red Buttons is annoying here, and the talents of Hermione Gingold are sadly wasted.