Thursday, May 3, 2012

Irreviews, 2011: Issue VII

 So... wait... 2011, still? Yeah, well... that's because I got a little lazy, and these are still films I watched in 2011. At this rate, don't expect a 2012 edition of Irreviews until 2014.

You'll also notice (maybe) that I shrifted the film credit sections of each review. Yeah, well... that's because I got a little lazy. My OCD might overcome me at some point, and I'll return to put the info back in, but for now... bleh...

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
I've heard of this movie for years. Never really wanted to see it, but an Aussie friend of mine convinced me to give it a go and, you know what? I quite liked it. Following the adventures of three once-famous drag queens (including a eunuch portrayed by the great Terrence Stamp), it's a pretty funny and a pretty sad movie all at the same time... which seems to be the recipe for great films. Now, I'm not sure I'd call it great, but I totally understand why this is the film that's generally considered to have put Australia on the map (as far as cinema is concerned).
Verdict: SEE it.

The Final Countdown (1980)
I first saw this film years ago on television and I remember loving it. But, then, I've always been fascinated by time travel, World War II, and navy ships, so a movie with a plot that revolves around all of those things would - undoubtedly - appeal to me. At any rate, given some of my recent writing projects, I decided to look up The Final Countdown to give it another whirl (mostly for research, believe it or not) and, well, it still appeals to me. As a Navy film, it's pretty top-notch. As a time travel film, it's definitely better than most of Hollywood's recent attempts at the genre. And, as a war film, it's not too shabby.
Verdict: SEE it.

Halo Legends (2010)
The Halo franchise is one of my favorite video game franchises of all time. That stated, I'm not so much a video game freak that I had to rush out and watch this animated anthology of Halo cartoons. That stated, since Halo Legends popped up in my Netflix recommendations, I queued and watched it. As a whole, it rivals (and even betters) the ambitious The Animatrix anthology that came out to support the increasingly cheeseball Matrix franchise. Fans of sci-fi, animation, and Halo in general will love this (although there is one particularly bad entry in the anthology, one acknowledged by the series' creators).
Verdict: SEE some, SKIP others.

Ironclad (2011)
Paul Giamatti as Prince John? Surely not! Well, actually... yes... yes, he is. And you know what? He's pretty friggin' good. In fact, this entire movie is pretty friggin' good. I have no idea why this didn't get a wide release in the United States (probably because of that slightly not-that-great Robin Hood that came out), but it should have. The cast is solid, the story is much better than any medieval fare that Hollywood has released in the last three or four years, and even though it greatly fudges history, who cares? What film doesn't? Actually... I care... but if the movie's good, it's good.
Verdict: SEE it.

Jason X (2001)
I admit it... I've been dying to see this movie ever since I found out it contains copious amounts of homage to Alien. Did I think it would be good? No. Did I think I'd like it anyway? Of course not. And, let's face it, it's always a bad sign when a non-sci-fi horror franchise goes sci-fi. There were a couple of Jason-franchise in-jokes that were pretty funny, but you'd have to suffer through most of the other (mostly bad) movies to understand them, and I wouldn't recommend that to anybody.
Verdict: SKIP it.

Machine Gun Preacher (2011)
Of the ten films in this edition of Irreviews, Machine Gun Preacher is the only one I saw in theaters. And with all this "stop Joseph Kony" rhetoric going around thanks to a viral video, I'm kind of glad I did. Not only because it was a good film, but because I like having a leg-up on current events. Life imitates art, maybe? Or art imitates life? I don't know, but Gerard Butler's passion project was a pretty rough look at someone spiraling out of control, only to find their meaning of life. Violent and brutal (though not as much as it could have been - or maybe even should have), this film deserved more exposure when it came out. Better late than never, I suppose.
Verdict: SEE it.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008)
My experience to this point with Australian film has been of the really depressing variety. While not apologetic like Koreans tend to be, the Australians seem to (like the Koreans) prefer making really, really, sad and/or fucked up films. Or (as with The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), hitting the other end of the scale - over-the-top comedy - while still somehow making them sad and/or fucked up. And then I saw this documentary and was introduced to a whole 'nother realm... over-sexed, over-violent, gratuitous and guilty pleasures. Needless to say, plenty of new Aussie flicks in the ol' Netflix queue.
Verdict: If you're interested in film history, SEE it.

Shiri (1999)
Way back in the year 2000, I saw a news report on American television pertaining to the fact that the South Korean film industry had finally knocked out a blockbuster film with Hollywood-style production values. That film was Shiri. The following year I moved to South Korea for a year and I tried like Hell to watch this film. Unfortunately, I remembered the title as being "Swirl" or "Spiral," so I couldn't track it down (in Korea it's known as Swiri, so I was close!). Fast forward to 2011 and I'm in one of my "watch anything foreign moods," and I happen upon the film. It is an action tour de force and, yes, it could have easily been a Hollywood production. And the story isn't half-bad.
Verdict: SEE it.

Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)
It's clear, given the Eastern-Western genre that's been making its way through Japanese cinema the past few years, the Japanese have felt slighted by the fact that there aren't many natural roles for Japanese actors in good ol' fashioned American Westerns. Of course, with the Japanese propensity to amalgamate anything and everything into highly stylized, visual displays of insanity, they've found a solution to that "problem." Samurai... meet Cowboy. Sukiyaki Western Django is, at its core, an amalgamation of Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars (itself a Spaghetti-Western remake of Yojimbo), with a touch of LSD for shits and giggles. And while I enjoyed the climax of the movie, the rest of it is just... weird.
Verdict: Um...

Swamp Thing (1982)
Once upon a time, Wes Craven (yes, that Wes Craven) made a comic book movie. It was part horror, part environmental warning, and part, well, comic book. And it's so blatantly cheesy that it rocks. The acting's not great (although Adrienne Barbeau is her usual saucy self), the action's not great, and the story is hokey, even by comic book standards. But, damn... it's about a mutated plant/human hybrid! Who gives a crap?
Verdict: Hehe... yeah, screw it. SEE it.