Sunday, June 2, 2013
TONY WATCHES MOVIES
because Marvel makes movies worth the price of admission, popcorn,
hot dogs and soft drinks...and because my son Eddie wanted to see
it with me. So we did.
Iron Man 3 isn’t quite as good as Iron Man 1, but it’s better than
Iron Man 2. Some folks have opined it has too much Tony Stark
in it, but they are wrong. Stark is real and brilliantly played by
Robert Downey, Jr. while special effects and suits of armor are as
nothing to me if they are not in service of great characterization
and story. In this movie, armor and special effects are very cool
because they serve the story and speak to Stark’s character.
Before seeing the movie, I was concerned about the Mandarin as the
villain of the piece. I loved Mandy in my commie-hating youth, but
he hasn’t aged well in the comic books. Suffice to say, I thought
the movie did something amazing with the Mandarin and I came this
close to squealing with delight over it.
That’s as much as I can say about Iron Man 3 without putting up the
spoiler warnings. I don’t want to do that because I think you’ll
enjoy this movie more the less you know going in. I will say I’ve
already ordered the Blu-Ray version of the movie. It’s a film that
I will watch again.
Most of the movies I watch I watch at home. I get them through my
local library, which is affiliated with 100 other area libraries,
or I buy them because I can do so for under $10. Among the movies
I’ve watched recently was a childhood favorite I view every other
year or so.
Even as a kid I knew the title of The Giant Behemoth (1959), which
I first saw on Ernie “Ghoulardi” Anderson’s Saturday night movies
on Cleveland television, was redundant. I didn’t even have to look
up the word “behemoth” because I was one well-read whippersnapper.
The IMDB summarizes the movie thus:
Marine atomic tests cause changes in the ocean's ecosystem
resulting in dangerous blobs of radiation and the resurrection of
a dormant dinosaur which threatens London.
Originally titled Behemoth the Sea Monster in the UK, this is one
of director/writer Eugène Lourié three dinosaurs movies, Gorgo and
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms being the other two. As with those
other movies, Behemoth is a very masculine monster movie. Outside
of Gorgo’s mom, there is no notable female character in Gorgo. In
Beast, we do get a pretty scientist, but she mostly falls in love
with the movie’s hero and weeps for the death of a beloved mentor.
In Behemoth, we get a grieving daughter and that’s it.
The stop-motion animation in Behemoth doesn’t measure up to that in
Beast, but there are other notable and pleasant surprises in this
movie. The first is the strong, non-hysteric performances of Gene
Evans as an American scientist and André Morell as a respected Brit
professor. Though they are not at all your typical 1950's monster
movie heroes, they add realism to this fantastic thriller.
The movie has strong anti-nuclear testing sentiments I didn’t catch
as a kid. Indeed, these sentiments are expressed more forcefully
than in Japan’s Gojira (1954).
Some things I had not previously known were uncovered when I did a
bit of research into the movie. One is that the screenplay was co-
written by blacklisted writer Daniel James as “Daniel Hyatt.” As
Danny Santiago, he wrote Famous All Over Town (1983), a novel about
a Mexican-American family in Los Angeles. There was considerable
controversy when it was learned “Santiago” was but a pen name for
a non-Hispanic author.
The other major revelation for me was that the original conception
of the Behemoth was an amorphous radioactive blob. Early on in the
movie, a fisherman is burned by a small blob caught in rocks on the
shore, but the presence of the blob is never explained. I assumed
it was some sort of behemoth poop or vomit. Now I know that it was
a holdover from the original story.
The Giant Behemoth still entertains me. If I don’t already own a
copy of it, I’ll likely buy one in the near future.
The Hallow (2004) is a rather mild horror movie I requested from my
local library for two reasons. The first...I have developed a wee
fascination with the legendary Headless Horseman. The second...the
movie stars a 19-year old Kaley Cuoco, who appears on The Big Bang
Theory, one of the few sitcoms I watch these days.
That the horror was mild did not surprise me, since I knew the film
had originally aired on ABC Family Channel before being released on
video. The version I saw seems to have been mostly uncut. It has
the occasional non-at-all-graphic beheading with the only lingering
shot of a dismembered head coming during a more implied than shown
sex scene between two horny teenagers who have, apparently, learned
nothing from horror movies.
The movie itself? Mildly entertaining.
A young descendent of Ichabod Crane is the only one who can defeat
the resurrected Horseman and send him back to Hell. The kid is at
odds with his football coach dad and attracted to the cute cheerleader
played by Cuoco. The latter puts the lad at odds with the football
star slash bully. It’s a typical mix of teen characters for such
a film, but it doesn’t play out in typical fashion. There are some
moments of genuine suspense.
The acting is decent. Kevin Zegers is the young hero, Nick Carter
is the football player. Stacy Keach is the graveyard custodian who
knows the legend of the Headless Horseman and recruits Zegers to do
what must be done. Other favorites include Judge Reinhold as the
hero’s father, Nicholas Turturro as the town sheriff and wonderful
Eileen Brennan as a grumpy old rich woman.
I wouldn’t watch The Hollow a second time, but it was an okay way
to kill an hour-and-a-half.
Keep watching this bloggy thing for more movie reviews.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more comics stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella