Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chris Pratt and the Infinity Watch


Great space opera, by the skin of its stupid, laughing, grinning teeth.

Directed by James Gunn
Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman (based on the comic by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning)
With Chris Pratt (Peter "Starlord" Quill), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Vin Diesel (Groot), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Lee Pace (Ronan the Accuser), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Josh Brolin (Thanos), and Benicio Del Toro (The Collector, whom a reasonable person would have believed would have been in the movie more, but gosh if he ain't great)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Monday, July 28, 2014

A planet where hype evolved from men?


So I promised a full franchise retrospective.  So I haven't given it to you yet.  So I have a job, and that's how I keep a roof over our heads, baby.  It's you and me and we're in this together.  But before I break fully into a Bon Jovi song, this here's a draft of Part VIII of that series: Dawn is an eminently worthy sequel, but if this sounds less than entirely enthusiastic, it's because unlike its so-close-to-perfect predecessor, Dawn does have its problemsfrom its recombined DNA up.

Directed by Matt Reeves
Written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver
With Andy Serkis (Caesar), Toby Kebbell (Koba), Karin Konoval (Maurice), and Jason Clarke (Malcolm) (he's the one who's just some guy)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Turn on, tune in, and drop out of the audience quietly to see if you can get your money back


Lucy is a movie that uses only 10% of its cinematic capacity, and I've graded it accordingly.

Written and directed by Luc Besson
With Scarlett Johansson (Lucy), Min-Sik Choi (Chiang), Amr Waked (Pierre Del Rio), and Morgan Freeman (Prof. Morgan Freeman)

Spoiler alert: mild

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cardboard Science: Twisted Eden

The Cardboard Science series intends to be a catalog of the science fiction of the past, today.  Science errors will be mocked.  20th century mores will be challenged.  Glories will be recorded.  Films will be, as usual, reviewed.


The standard by which all space opera is judged, and I doubt I could love it more even if Anne Francis were wearing fewer clothes than she already is.

Directed by Fred Wilcox
Written by Cyril Hume, Irving Block, and Allen Adler (based on The Tempest by William Shakespeare)
With Leslie Nielsen (Commander Adams), Walter Pidgeon (Dr. Morbius), Anne Francis (Altaira), Warren Stevens ("Doc" Ostrow), Jack Kelly (Lt. Farman), Earl Holliman (Cooky), and Robby the Robot (himself) (huh?)

Spoiler alert: severe
Content warning: I do cuss a lot in this one, but the main thing to warn you about is that it's excruciatingly long.  Cardboard Science was conceived as something I could do on the fly, because I'd be mostly discussing B-movies that were barely made at all, and I'm sure that's how it will be as the usual case.  But if we must begin with Forbidden Planet, and I'm afraid we must, the effort must be taken quite seriously.  On the plus side, there are a lot of juvenile jokes, and I split it up into parts so you can quit reading and never return to it.

Like, zoinks, Herc!


Just how many bad sword and sandal movies can there be in one year?  Well, let's see how Ridley Scott does with Exodus before we count.

Directed by Brett Ratner
Written by Ryan Condal and Evan Spiliotopolous (based on the comic, but not the one you've ever heard of, by Steve Moore)
With Dwayne Johnson (Hercules), Rufus Sewell (Autolycus), Ian McShane (Amphiaraus), Ingrid Berdal (Atalanta), Aksel Hennie (Tydeus), Recce Ritche (Iolaus), John Hurt (Lord Cotys), and Joseph Fiennes (Eurystheus)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I don't care to join any sexual orientation that would have me as a member


A groundbreaking mid-century treatment of oppressed homosexuality that would be all the more impressive in 2014 if it had used it as the thriller maguffin it so very much wants to be, rather than as the subject of far too many Star Trek: The Next Generation speeches, and without a Patrick Stewart anywhere in sight.

Directed by Basil Dearden
Written by Janet Green and John McCormick
With Dirk Bogarde (Melville Farr), Peter McEnry (Jack "Boy" Barrett), and Sylvia Syms (Laura Farr)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chinese finger cuffs


Daring, unconventional, and full of light and life, Design For Living might just be my favorite romantic comedy.

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Written by Ben Hecht ("based" on the play by Noel Coward)
With Miriam Hopkins (Gilda Farrel), Gary Cooper (George Curtis), Fredric March (Tom Chambers), and Edward Everett Horton (Max Plunkett)

Spoiler alert: severe

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I was never a sex criminal in Texas


Pain & Gain this is not, but I've seen worse backsliding in my day.  Transformers: Age of Extinction exists, and I would describe no individual stretch of the picture as unpleasant.  However, faint pleasure, experienced for a truly bludgeoning one hundred and sixty-five minutes, does not a gold-plated recommendation make.

Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Ehren Kruger
With Mark Wahlberg (Cade Yeager) (lol), Nicola Peltz (Tessa Yeager), Jack Reynor (Shane Dyson), Kelsey Grammer (Harold Attinger), Stanley Tucci (Joshua Joyce), Bingbing Li (Su Yueming), Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Frank Welker (Galvatron), John Goodman (Hound), Ken Watanabe (Drift), John DiMaggio (Crosshairs), and Mark Ryan (Lockdown)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Monday, July 7, 2014

How about a nice game of Galaga?


A great thriller that has a lot of trouble concealing its controversial political agenda.

Directed by John Badham
Written by Lawrence Lasker, Walter Parkes, and Walon Green
With Matthew Broderick (David), Ally Sheedy (Jennifer), Dabney Coleman (Dr. McKittrick), and John Wood (Prof. Falken)

Spoiler alert: severe