Category Archives: Viddy

Movies, videos, etc. In theaters, on computer, on disc, or via Roku.

Spoiling Bad

I have a stiff middle digit for “superfan” David Layman and his cohort for spoiling the end of Breaking Bad for “ordinary” fans who have to wait until the episodes are released to us. Thanks, Dick! And thank you to the Albuquerque Journal for tooting its own horn on the front page about how much impact something in the Journal can have on Social Media. The fact that it was an ad, not an article, just gives the owner a bigger boner. Finally, thanks to reporter Rick Nathanson for his fair and balanced observation that in all the world one person was unhappy with this spoiler(it’s at least two, you tool).

Thank god social media was non-existent when the Empire Strikes Back and the Crying Game came out.

Alice in Wonderland (3 stars)

First, this has to be compared with Dark Shadows, which has several of the same people involved. Alice is so much better than Dark, and each of those people involved in both is so much better in Alice. I heard it said a long time ago that Meryl Streep creates an accent for each character she plays. I realize now that is true too of Johnny Depp, who manages to carry each unique voice (and look) consistently through a film. Here, he is quite good as the Mad Hatter.

The story seems to mix the two books together. I don’t know why Alice is older here than in the books; accounting for that just bogs down the story. I wonder what Carroll would have thought of Alice as an emancipated, entrepreneurial woman. For the most part, I enjoyed this movie for the characters and the visuals, not at all surprising for a Tim Burton movie.

Prometheus (2 stars)

The original Alien scared me to death. Everyone in it was good, but most especially Sigorney Weaver. The sequel Aliens managed to surpass the first movie, something that is rarely done. (Die Hard 2 would be another example; Tremors 2 would be an example of the more common collapse of a franchise.)

Ever the optimistic nerd, I had hopes for Prometheus, the prequel to Alien. It has a few great scenes, especially the android David in the alien planetarium. It has a few interesting characters/actors, such as Michael Fassbinder as David, Charlize Theron as Ms Vickers, and Idris Elba as Cap’n Janek. However, the movie has so many flaws, so much nonsense, it was almost unbearable to watch. Was the Engineer at the beginning creating or destroying a world? (“Sometimes, you must destroy before you can create.” Like destroy the respect Alien(s) earned in order to create … nothing respectable.) I do so hate stone tech, which I blame Indian Jones for popularizing. You know, press the stone glyphs to reveal a magically powered machine. What the hell was up with the virtual 3D security footage?

I know that Scott worked backwards from the phenomenal, darkly-lit, briefly seen Observer in the original Alien. He wanted to explain what lead the Observer/Engineer to be where he was. But wasn’t the Observer enormous, not just a big muscle-bound guy? How does the Alien Observer make sense in the context of the bloody (one of too many) death of the last Engineer?

The Engineer’s destruction of David was an interesting counterpoint to Blade Runner, where the android could have killed Ford but didn’t. Turns out our god was more senselessly violent than even we are. (Proving, as I’ve always felt, that we created god in our image.)

So, the Engineers came to earth and “created” (spawned) us. Then, they planned to come back and destroy us, but got interrupted by … what? worms on the exoplanet? So, David implants/infects what’s-his-name with a bit of the stuff engineered to destroy us (maybe), and David impregnates the no-Sigourney Noomi Rapace, who becomes pregnant with a squid child she extracts using a self-surgery machine. The squid child kills the last Engineer, giving rise to … ta-da .. the Aliens of the Alien series. I assure you it doesn’t help to understand or pay attention. Just watch things blow up. (Sound advice for all “blockbusters.”)

Dark Shadows (2 3/4 stars — probably red dwarves)

When I was in junior high school, I hurried home to watch Dark Shadows each afternoon. I thought Barnabus Collins was super-cool. (I named my St Bernard Barnabus.) Many years later, I found Dark Shadows streaming on Netflix. I was reminded that we can’t really get back to an original experience, no matter how well we recall it. The show was so low tech, so slow and dark. I still think Jonathan Frid was a great Barnabus, but I lost interest on the soap opera pacing after a few episodes. (I never saw the remake of the series.)

When I saw the preview for the movie version of Dark Shadows, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton, I thought the movie would be great fun. I was wrong. There were little things to like, not least of which is Chloe Grace Moretz. Perhaps the music was the best part, although this is the first movie with a score by Danny Elfman that I can’t recall any of his music — anybody alive in 1972 could have scored this one.

Eva Green’s character was unpleasant but she played her with great enthusiasm. I did not recognize her from Franklyn, a movie I enjoyed, or the Golden Compass, a movie I can’t remember because the book was so overwhelmingly good (until the 3rd in the series disappointed me almost as much as the end of the Harry Potter series). 

Looper (5 stars)

Looper is sci fi in the tradition of Blade Runner, even sharing a dystopian future. [I also detect a bit of Witness and the Matrix.] Of course, time travel is almost always difficult to wrap one’s head around. This is the best such tale I’ve seen since the Butterfly Effect (which was actually more disturbing). Naturally, the pairing of Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is awesome, but the story itself is interesting and the dialog often clever. I can’t remember the last time Jeff Daniels seemed so good. Although there is plenty of gun violence (hey, this is America!) there are only a couple of scenes that were hard to take.

Moonrise Kingdom (2 or 3 stars)

I remember being captivated by the previews for Moonrise Kingdom. The visual style of this film is delightful, though not enough to carry it alone. But the cast is phenomenal (too many to list). Yet, the result is hard to recommend except as an amazing anachronism, a bit of amber preserving a long-gone time where affairs consisted of holding hands, people traded letters, and everyone smoked.

[With this movie, we resume our Netflix DVD subscription after several years of streaming-only. I still like Netflix streaming — especially the Windows 8.1 app — but the offerings are weak.]

Kick-Ass (3-4 stars with one huge asterisk)

I have a feeling Quentin Tarantino wishes he’d made this movie. The violence was too much for me to recommend without that warning. Only briefly did the violence approach comic book violence, which was more tolerable than the realistic savage beatings and executions. It says nothing good about Hollywood or modern literature that every movie is based on a comic book or an old TV show.

When I saw that Nicholas Cage is in this movie, that did nothing to encourage me to watch it. The Vampire’s Kiss proved that Cage’s career is itself undead. However, he is great in this movie.

But, no one can touch Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl. She is astonishingly self-assured. Quite a performance, though at times difficult to watch. (Moretz played Alec Baldwin’s arch-nemesis in 30Rock and was his equal, which says a lot, as far as I’m concerned.)

I don’t look forward to Kick-Ass 2, but knowing it exists makes me hope Joss Whedon steals Kick-Ass 3 from Tarantino.