Friday, October 28, 2011

The Thing

Mary Elizabeth Winstead with a flamethrower? What could be bad? Well, a few things.

It's been a long time since I saw the 1982 version of The Thing - and have no real memory of it - and I never saw The Thing from Another World from 1951, so this review stands on its own even though the movies may be connected somehow.

The Thing is your basic Ten Little Indians with a Non-Human Slasher genre movie, and as such isn't too bad. That genre isn't my cup of tea, but the aforementioned comely Mary Elizabeth Winstead is on my must-attend list so I went. The Thing may be a good choice for a mid-Winter home video selection, but even if you like the non-human slasher genre, I wouldn't rush out to see it.


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Mighty Macs

I decided to see The Mighty Macs after seeing one commercial. It looked like your basic underdog sports movie and Carla Gugino would be the coach. What could be bad? Not much, actually. The Mighty Macs is an independent movie with a limited budget and small cast. Within those limitations, it hits the right tone and emotional cues, delivering a top-notch sports movie.

The story appears to be based on actual events. Immaculatta College in Pennsylvania, 1971. A losing team in a women's school gets a new coach and no respect. Through movie-standard grit and pluckiness, the team makes a run at a national championship in one season. The coach is almost deified - not an easy task in a Catholic school - but for once maybe earns it. Some of her players went on to be coaches themselves, win national championships and are even still active in the WNBA and college ranks.

The coach's voice-over narration provides a titch more sappiness than the movie needs but step-back in time sports cliches and old clothing styles more than make up for it with a thoroughly entertaining movie.

Oh, the name? Immaculatta. Im-MAC-u-lat-ta. Macs. I didn't get it until the movie was about three-fourths over. Until then, I thought it was some unspoken Scottish thing.


The Three Musketeers

Alexandre Dumas meets Pirates of the Caribbean meets Jules Verne. If that sounds like a mish-mash, it is. This incarnation of The Three Musketeers is an excuse for stunts, CGI and costumes. It's perfectly fine by the standards of today's adventure movies but, make no mistake, The Three Musketeers is a disposable movie. If you go see it once, you won't need to see it twice and you don't need to buy a copy for your home video collection.

To drive home the point that it wants to start the next Pirates of the Renaissance franchise, they even cast Orlando Bloom as one of the (many) villains. The flexible morality and scenery-chewing is straight out of Pirates. Milla Jovavich's lingerie-wearing, adrenaline junkie spy is straight out of a Madonna video. All-in-all, for a basic adventure show, by all means go see The Three Musketeers. I enjoyed it. But don't expect to remember anything about it the next day.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Killer Elite

Killer Elite is a perfectly serviceable action flick. It's more of a geopolitical thriller than you might have guessed from the commercials. It's set in 1980 and has a gritty production design, possibly inspired by the Bourne thrillers. Despite its pedigree - Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, Clive Owen - Killer Elite is a non-studio production but it works very well.

Much of the dialog is spoken by non-native English speakers - Omani, Italian, French, Australian, Welsh, English - that it was difficult to understand everything. Not that it mattered, but if you need to know the intricacies of a plot designed to get you to the next gun fight, well, maybe save Killer Elite for DVD, where you can turn on the captions.

Watching Killer Elite marked the 900th film that I've seen at Willow Creek Theaters in Plymouth (900!). I guess that's a lot. Willow Creek is not the nicest place around, but it's convenient, clean, and the staff is polite. In a backhanded complement, the matinees are sparsely attended, so getting in and out is fairly easy. 900!  I will continue using Willow Creek as my primary movie-going venue.  900!