Watchin’ Stuff #38

Movie of the week unsurprisingly goes to Solo. Now to be fair, I’m still not sure if it’s my least favorite of the modern Star Wars movies or not. Rogue One definitely topped it in terms of crazy action scenes, but I think Solo did a much better job with the characters. While there were admittedly a small handful of flat jokes and lines of dialogue, it was still very enjoyable most of the time and Han’s interactions with Lando, Chewbacca, and the rest put a big smile on my face throughout most of the film.

A lot of people were worried about Ehrenreich, but I think he did just fine and the movie turned out to utilize him much as I expected, as a younger Han Solo who’s trying to cultivate this confident outlaw image, but still hasn’t quite got it all down yet. Along the way we see all the events that led to him turning out the way he did and it all feels very fitting and natural.

While it’s not going to blow people away the way the core Star Wars films do, it’s still a very solid and fun movie, and even if it ends up being remembered as technically the worst movie of the modern day Star Wars films, it still keeps the bar pretty high. Or as my wife put it: “it wasn’t great, but it was still very good”.

Argh, this was a mistake. American Ninja 3 lost both the main character and the director of the original two, and from the looks of it, it lost a big chunk of its budget too. Terrible fight scenes, terrible sets, terrible acting, the music is directly recycled from the previous movie. Just a miserably bad movie all around. I know the first ones we’re exactly amazing in technical terms either, but they look like Oscar material compared to this. Seemed like there was some problem with the dialogue dubbing too. Everything was ever so slightly out of sync or something, because it felt like the voices didn’t match the characters, as if I was watching an old Italian film or something. Couldn’t get through the whole thing. I won’t make this mistake again!

Foolishly, I put on the next one anyway because I thought “hey, Michael Dudikoff comes back in this one so maybe it’ll be better!”. Nope. Still garbage. Same terrible director, same shitheap of a production. Turned it off after only 10-15 minutes because it was that bad. Ok, ok, I get the idea. I’m not even gonna try the fifth one!

Almost through the D’s in the horror shitpile. Unfortunately, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is another D. D FOR D-D-DISAPPOINTMENT! This was apparently a TV movie, which is not always a bad thing, but it just didn’t work for me. Three tiny little gremlin type things get freed from their confinement under an old house and terrorize a woman while her husband’s away. Naturally no one believes her and these three little doll-sized things are able to physically overpower her and drag her down into their pit of doom because she’s just a poor, frail lady. Oh well. I’ve seen much worse, but it was a bit too slow and uninteresting for me.

A decent bit of 80’s sci-fi, Enemy Mine tells the story of two pilots from opposing sides of a galactic war who get stranded together on a strange planet and have to learn to trust each other to survive. It’s a bit cheesy at times, the anti-war/anti-racism messages can be a bit heavy handed, and it arguably drags on a bit too long near the end, but it still manages to be mostly entertaining. It holds up surprisingly well in visual terms too. They combined sets and natural locations with some good effects and really well done matte backgrounds to make a pretty impressive looking alien world. Pretty good movie if you don’t mind a slower sci-fi that’s light on action and heavy on drama.

Meh. The Death Wish remake isn’t a flat out bad movie, but it fails to really do anything at all above average at best. Bruce Willis kind of sleepwalks his way through the role and even seems to have trouble delivering his lines at times. Vincent D’Onofrio’s character was entirely pointless and he was completely wasted on this movie.

We’re told through exposition that Chicago is such a terrible, deadly place here, but rarely actually shown it. I understand that there’s a lot of crime in Chicago today (and I should, I grew up around there), but it doesn’t feel at all as treacherous as the grimy 70’s New York in the original Death Wish. This is weird too, because having been around Chicago a lot, I know that there are some really nasty, creepy areas there, but they didn’t show any of that here for some reason.  

The criminals don’t feel as scummy as the original either. They’re just generic movie criminals who don’t really do anything particularly shocking or evil by movie criminal standards. Between Willis, the bad guys, and the action scenes, nothing really has any personality or impact to it. Roth tries to spice things up by tossing in a few of his trademark gore scenes, which while technically sound, just kind of fall flat with how generic everything is here.

The subtler aspects of main character Paul Kersey are gone here too, like how you could see him getting slowly addicted to the rush of being in a gunfight in the original. No, Willis just goes out and starts shooting and everything’s wrapped up in a convenient, paint-by-numbers Hollywood manner.

Then there’s the fact that the movie spends a good chunk of its time taking blatant jabs at gun culture and lack of gun control in modern America, yet in the end Willis is able to successfully solve all his problems by shooting his way through them with no consequences whatsoever. It’s quite the mixed message. Anyway, enough about this disappointing movie…

…and on to a different disappointing movie. I guess this just isn’t my week for movies. Don’t Torture A Duckling is apparently a somewhat highly acclaimed giallo film of Lucio Fulci, but it didn’t do much for me. The lack of a strong central character to guide the mystery really seemed to hurt it. The reporter guy investigating the murders seemed like he was supposed to fill the role, but he just kept jumping in and out of the plot and seemed more like a background character most of the time. The plot just constantly jumped around between various characters in the town, most of which were boring and irrelevant.

There were a lot of red herrings and they were all really obvious ones. It was obvious who the movie wanted you to think was the killer and it wasn’t hard at all to guess who it really was. There were no unusual death scenes or anything remotely visually interesting really. This movie had nothing that makes a good giallo stand out to me, so I’m not quite sure what the appeal is. I zoned out about halfway through and just left it on in the background out of laziness and to see if the killer really was who I’d guessed it to be in the beginning of the movie. Wasted time again. Oh well. At least I made it through the D’s in the horror shit pile.

2 comments on “Watchin’ Stuff #38

  1. ignitedmoth says:

    It’s been sooo long since I watched Enemy Mine, but I remember watching it with my dad from time to time when I was younger. 🙂
    I’d never heard of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark before, but it looks like one I would have picked up back in the video store days of old when I was a kid. 😛

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