rate the last movie you saw

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Paul MacLean
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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3076 Post by Paul MacLean » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:57 pm

Outland **

Outland is handsomely-mounted, visually-striking, and well-acted -- but often rather mundane, and sometimes frustratingly un-scientific.

Taken for what it is, the film is more or less watchable, but suffers from easily-avoided flaws. What bothers me about this film is that despite its otherworldly setting, it really isn't a science fiction film. It is an interesting prediction of what life on future mining colonies might be like, but it doesn't really explore scientific concepts. The same story -- cop blows-open drug ring in mining operation -- could just as easily have been set in 1981. Some of the dialog is corny -- as can happen when a screenwriter wants to give the characters some zippy one-liners -- but they just fall flat here.

Also, despite its "science fiction" pretensions, Peter Hyams' script is surprisingly ignorant about science. For instance, in one scene Sean Connery draws blood from a corpse (in order to analyze the blood for traces of drugs) -- and draws the blood from the corpse's jugular vein. However, within hours of death, with the heart no longer maintaining the circulatory system, blood pools in the lowest region of the body -- which in this case would be the buttocks (as this corpse is lying on its back). There wouldn't be any blood in the neck to extract. Moreover, Connery draws fresh, red blood from the body -- but a corpse does not create new blood cells when it is dead, so after several hours, the blood will have decayed into viscous brown gook.

Io (Jupiter's moon where the film takes place) is fraught with volcanic and seismic activity. Who in his right mind would erect a mining colony on such a violently unstable world (when a rupture in the superstructure could decompress and lay waste to the entire operation)?

Io has gravity (indeed the opening of the film explicitly states it has 1/6 Earth's gravity), so how can the jail cells be zero G? Assuming the mine designers had the technology to construct cells with artificial zero G (which is implausible) -- why spend the money and effort, when everything else in this mine is designed to be nothing more than functional on the most minimal level? Moreover, the corridor adjacent to the cells has artificial gravity -- so why aren't the inmates drawn towards the artificial gravity in the corridor's floor?

Several characters in this film perish from being exposed to zero-pressure -- during which their bodies inflate and finally pop like balloons. Certainly it is a "cool effect" (at first anyway -- toward the end of the film, it starts to get a bit funny), but the fact is, that is not what happens when a body is exposed to a vacuum. In reality -- according to NASA astronauts -- one would be, in effect, "freeze-dried".

These kinds of things don't bother me in a movie like Flash Gordon, but Outland so clearly strives to be a realistic portrayal of blue collar life in the future, that such blunders are really quite inexcusable. You'd think Peter Hyams would do his homework -- especially when he covered the moon launches as a journalist in the 60s!

If you can look past these things, Outland is not without its appeal. The action sequences are well-mounted -- particularly the sequence where Connery chases the drug dealer (thanks likely to Assistant Director David Tringham, who was arguably Britain's best AD). Connery delivers a spot-on performance, as do France Sternhagen and Peter Boyle. Jerry Goldsmith's score is one of his less inspired, but still effective -- too bad it was largely ruined by Hyams, who discarded cues from several key sequences, which really harms the film.

What is most striking about Outland is the way the whole aesthetic of the film -- the sets, costumes, photography and score -- are all modeled after Alien. But I don't actually look on this as a fault. Peter Hyams clearly recognized that the "Ridley Scott look" was the the shape of things to come. Indeed I daresay there are shots in this film that even look a bit like Blade Runner, suggesting that Hyams was very much in sync with Scott's sense of style.

Outland is a film of odd contradictions -- it offers fine performances of sometimes-bad dialog, it's believable-looking but scientifically-ignorant, its action sequences are energetic but other scenes are static, the computer displays and props are "dated" yet the film doesn't feel like an "old movie". It is a flawed film without question, yet on a certain level likable.
Last edited by Paul MacLean on Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Eric Paddon
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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3077 Post by Eric Paddon » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:34 pm

The thing that I found strange about "Outland" stemmed from the point you make that this plot could easily unfold anywhere else and not necessarily in a sci-fi setting. To me, it struck me as odd how the baddies couldn't come up with an easier and less obtrusive way to knock off Connery!

I remember laughing how the name of the company is the same name Hyams came up with in "Capricorn One" for the company that made a bad life-support system that served as the trigger for why the flight had to be faked.

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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3078 Post by AndyDursin » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:18 pm

You might find it strange but it's one of the things I like about the movie. It actually is a western playing out in an outer space setting. I agree with Paul on it's shortcomings but it holds up pretty well, especially compared to what's out there today!

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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3079 Post by AndyDursin » Thu Nov 02, 2017 11:56 am

ROCK-A-DOODLE
4/10

Image

This Don Bluth animated film nevertheless has generated something of a cult following among nostalgic kid viewers – at least enough that the discontinued MGM DVD has typically commanded decent coin on the secondary market over the years. It has to be mostly for curiosity value and not the movie itself, for this is a near-total misfire about a rooster (voiced by Glen Campbell) shunned by his farm buddies, and a young boy who’s swept up in his adventures and is turned into a kitten along the way. Awkward live-action scenes, terrible, tacked-on narration (which ruins at least one of the musical numbers), and a jagged editorial rhythm caused by extensive cutting sink a reportedly problematic production that failed to find an audience upon its spring ’92 release. For fans of Bluth and handdrawn animation, Olive’s Blu-Ray gives them another chance to assess this box-office dud with an impossibly convoluted story, and the MGM licensed 1080p (1.85) transfer is healthy and colorful, albeit seemingly framed too tightly on animated sequences that were reportedly drawn at 1.33. The stereo sound is fine, with Robert Folk offering a pleasant score, and the trailer is the sole extra. In a career filled with ups and downs (and more of the latter), “Rock-a-Doodle” is one of Bluth’s weakest, so buyer beware.

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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3080 Post by Monterey Jack » Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:08 pm

Man, Don Bluth...hard to think of an animation director who had a more bizarre period in his career than post-The Land Before Time and pre-Anastasia. :? Even his worst films tended to have really pretty and elaborate animation, but not for nothing was the "Big-Lipped Alligator Moment" meme created for than his excessively strange output during most of the 90's.



Sucks that we'll never get decent HD versions of his best work from the 80's...The Secret Of NIMH (my favorite movie, period) looks like crap, An American Tail is lacking the original audio track (the 5.1 remix is terrible, on a par with that 5.1 track for the initial 2000 DVD of Jaws), and The Land Before Time could certainly look better (and I'd love to see the 10 minutes' worth of animation that Spielberg cut out for fear of scaring little kids).

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Paul MacLean
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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3081 Post by Paul MacLean » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:37 pm

Gremlins ***

I haven't actually watched this film in probably 30 years. I saw it in theatres (twice) and my last viewing was on my parents old Beta VCR!

I loved Gremlins as a kid, but of course my tastes have diversified since the 80s, so I was skeptical this film would hold-up today. But I have to say it remains very entertaining and fun, and one of the more clever mainstream movies of its time.

The initial premise of Chris Columbus' script has a wholesome (even goody-two-shoes) quality, suggesting we're in for "E.T. Meets It's A Wonderful Life". But Gremlins turns unexpectedly into a caustic and enormously clever black comedy (yet there are still moments which are touching and nostalgic). I was also struck by how influential this film was -- I daresay the overall premise and a number of sequences in Jurassic Park owe heavily to Gremlins. Chris Walas' creature effects are still impressive and convincing today (and a darn sight more believable than pretty much any CGI creatures from the past 25 years).

Jerry Goldsmith's score is one of his most clever, and while his "orchestra with synths" approach might seem "dated" in 2017, it was quite arresting at the time (no one had ever heard anything quite like "The Gremlin Rag" before -- by Goldsmith or any other musician). It too holds-up very well today.

It's almost become a cliché to say this, but this is yet another film which "couldn't be made today". The script would certainly be deemed "too offensive" and all its clever, original elements -- the Christmas setting, Phoebe Cate's monologue, Mrs. Deagle's death -- would likely be jettisoned. Conversely, the "you have despoiled mother nature" message at the end of the movie would pushed to the foreground (and of course you'd have thousands of CGI gremlins, massive explosions and collapsing buildings -- all accompanied by a bland, themeless score).

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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3082 Post by Eric Paddon » Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:51 am

Superman 2 (1981) (7 of 10)

-I watched my own personal re-edit of the film. Basically the Lester theatrical cut with one scene from the "Donner" version inserted, the power restoration scene. If I was going to sit through Lester's cut, I had to see it with this one scene because to me it is the most important one of all the unused Brando scenes for 2, not simply because of his presence but because we need to hear the explanation for the magnitude of Superman/Clark's mistake and why its possible for the second chance to be granted. Without the scene the restoration of his powers just becomes a convenient by the numbers plot device. I can accept no Brando in the other parts of the film, but I have to see this scene to avoid being self-conscious when judging the rest of the film as it was released.

-I have to say in all honesty, I found myself underwhelmed which is why this got a lower rating from me than I was expecting to give it. The first movie took its time developing the story and brilliantly. In this film I found the build-up with the villains to be too slow. The "East Houston" sequences drag too long and a big thumbs down to the non-stop barrage of low-comedy sight gags in the Metropolis battle sequence when the villains force the crowd back with the super breath. OTOH, I certainly find the "reveal" moment and the ending much better than what the fan boys forced on us in the "Donner cut" which weren't necessary IMO (at least in this cut, the revenge on the bully makes sense!).

-I may revisit the "Donner cut" soon but I'm glad I could sit through Lester with this one augmentation. (Maybe someday I'll do something similar by putting the Lester ending only on the "Donner cut"!)

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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3083 Post by Eric Paddon » Thu Nov 16, 2017 2:14 am

Watched the Donner cut tonight (but not with the alteration I'd thought of). I think it reconfirms my hunch that the truly best cut of the film would have to be a combination of both films to (1) restore some of the grandeur from the first film that in all honesty doesn't register in II and (2) to tighten the narrative overall so that both films can flow better. I recognize that "fan-cutting" can in no ways take the place of the definitive visions of those who were part of the process but the "Donner cut" is basically by itself a fan-cut designed to maximize his footage only so at this point if you want to explore ways of doing it using that work, any other person's interpretation is just as good as Michael Thau's.

The leaner Metropolis battle sequence in Donner is more effective than the Lester with its endless parade of sight gags that ruin the tone. OTOH, the Fortress battle in Donner is too short IMO. I realize a lot of people hate the "flying S" and the other gimmicks but at least it provides us with a reasonable action sequence. The Donner thing reduced it too much. And while the "East Houston" bits I felt benefited from some trimming, too much was pared to the bone in the Donner cut to justify removing as much as possible.

The Lester ending should stay for the sake of coherence. This is the biggest sin of the Donner cut in that its ending is incoherent. Why does Superman bother blowing up the Fortress if he's going to turn back time? And if you turn back time, are you raising the possibility that the villains might be set free again someday? And of course ending it with the revenge on the bully who is now an innocent victim because he's never beaten up Clark in the changed time has the effect of making Superman look really petty and vindictive (couldn't they have had him beat up the bully BEFORE he turned back time?)

As for the Brando scenes, I would love a cut that would allow for the retention of both Brando and York. Maybe re-edit Luthor in the Fortress so he sees Brando first, but then keep York for the scene about the back story of the villains and for the scene where Superman gives up his power (it would make sense that Superman might want to avoid looking his Father in the eye for that moment but then has to call on him again when he needs his power back)

Some would say I shouldn't over anlayze the Donner cut because it was ultimately no different from a work print dressed up, and that's fair but I think when one envisions what could have been, I still have to side with those who think that II succeeded commercially but artistically its much less. II was also probably helped by the fact that we waited three years for it and this was still an era before VCRs and so we hadn't been re-exposing ourselves to the original many times in the intermediate period. We were excited about being reintroduced to things at last. Maybe the flaws of II wold have stood out more had this been the age of home video.

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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3084 Post by AndyDursin » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:06 pm

I don't think you are over-analyzing the Donner Cut at all, though I watched it once and never had any reason to revisit it. I flip through it for the Brando scenes now and then but that's pretty much it. It's not a completed movie and never could've been -- I just think it would've been better if Warner had produced a documentary and given us the deleted sequences on their own instead of assembling this ridiculous "Frankenstein patchwork edit" and trying to sell it as a real movie. Which it's not! (The screen test footage dooms it early and completely).

Personally, as I've written before, I have no problem enjoying SUPERMAN II, the "Lester version", as it is and always has been constituted. It's become passe for the fanboys to trash everything Lester did and laud everything Donner shot. I understand where you're coming from, but I have no problem with the gags in the Metropolis fight -- it's a movie that holds an appeal for children as well as adults, and those scenes lighten the material somewhat. I do think they're amusing and I'd rather have them there than a more violent sequence like (sort of) with BATMAN V SUPERMAN, a "serious meditation" on the "fallout of destruction" and its "cultural/socio-economic impact" on the Metropolis populace. I think adults lose sight of things that are in some of these films -- like Jar Jar Binks. Sure he's annoying, and could've been written better, but he's there as a surrogate for children in The Phantom Menace. Not everything in genre movies is aimed at a 50-plus year old fanboy who now accepts these films as their own religion, though that's becoming increasingly the case.

Comic book movies used to be family entertainment (and there's plenty of "edge" in the Lester II as it is, between Supes bedding Lois Lane and losing his superpowers), but like everything else these days, they've become more violent, sexualized and adult. As a parent of a 3+ year old, I've become much more aware of what I can and cannot show to my son -- and it's going to be a very long time indeed before he's ready for most modern super-hero films (hell I have to turn off the TV during commercials of sporting events because of some of the ads for R rated horror movies that air).

When it comes to SUPERMAN and the original Salkind films, though, that's a different story, and at least something I've come to appreciate more about them in the time I've been a parent.

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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3085 Post by Eric Paddon » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:56 pm

I have to admit the test footage didn't bother me as much as the ending did because at least the dialogue in the test footage still matched everything else that happened up to this point continuity wise. The one gap that we were still left with was the conversation that results in Superman offering to fly Lois to the Fortress. An "ultimate cut" would I agree have to dispense with this and stick with the Lester footage and this would also necessitate keeping the Paris open because we couldn't have a cut of Lois making TWO attempts to prove Clark is Superman.

I do think ultimately it wasn't the "Donner vision" that motivated so much the need to present this as a film in its own right so much as it was the desire to give us a cut of the film with Brando. If Brando had been in 2 to begin with, the enthusiasm level for a different cut simply IMO would not have been there and all the other stuff would have been presented as you say as a supplement only.

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Paul MacLean
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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3086 Post by Paul MacLean » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:07 pm

I don't recognize the Donner cut as a legitimate "alternate version"; to me it's more like a bonus "special feature" you might get on a video release.

The inclusion of the Marlon Brando footage is interesting, but substituting Susannah York for Brando never felt odd to me -- it is likely Superman would look to his mother in "matters of the heart". Yeah, maybe it's a bit too convenient that Superman's mom just happens to be "keeper of the archives of Krypton" but it never bothered me.

What makes both versions of Superman II a let-down for me is the absence of an original John Williams score.

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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3087 Post by Eric Paddon » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:41 am

Against my better judgment I pulled the item in the Blu-Ray set I had never watched before. "Superman Returns."

After 30 minutes of being bored out of my mind I shut it off and returned it to the box where it will never be finished. What a waste of my time to have even thought I could try.

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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3088 Post by Paul MacLean » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:50 am

Eric Paddon wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:41 am
Against my better judgment I pulled the item in the Blu-Ray set I had never watched before. "Superman Returns."

After 30 minutes of being bored out of my mind I shut it off and returned it to the box where it will never be finished. What a waste of my time to have even thought I could try.
Wow, you had never seen it?

Try watching the whole thing -- it doesn't get better, but it's amazing example of how not to make a Superman movie. Almost nothing works -- the script, character development (particularly Superman's motivations), the casting, the locations (it was filmed in Australia!) which makes it quite the curiosity.

I saw this movie the day it opened -- and psyched myself up for it by watching Superman: The Movie immediately beforehand -- which only exacerbated everything which was wrong with Superman Returns.

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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3089 Post by AndyDursin » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:50 am

Yes to everything Paul added.

If that's not enough, don't miss Todd McCarthy's laughably glowing, inexplicable review that says it's better than the 1978 movie -- including the score!

http://variety.com/2006/film/awards/sup ... 200515435/

Never forget!!
Topping off these aspects is the evocative, darkly lyrical score by John Ottman, continuing in his unique dual role for Singer as composer and editor (with Elliot Graham). The sometimes ethereal qualities of Ottman’s work, amplified by significant choral strains, provide an emotional dimension — and show up Williams’ “Star Wars” thematic variation for the bombast it is.

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Re: rate the last movie you saw

#3090 Post by mkaroly » Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:38 am

AndyDursin wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:50 am
Yes to everything Paul added.

If that's not enough, don't miss Todd McCarthy's laughably glowing, inexplicable review that says it's better than the 1978 movie -- including the score!

http://variety.com/2006/film/awards/sup ... 200515435/

Never forget!!
Topping off these aspects is the evocative, darkly lyrical score by John Ottman, continuing in his unique dual role for Singer as composer and editor (with Elliot Graham). The sometimes ethereal qualities of Ottman’s work, amplified by significant choral strains, provide an emotional dimension — and show up Williams’ “Star Wars” thematic variation for the bombast it is.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

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