I enjoy seeing a new movie on opening night as much as the next person. But it's not always that practical because of crowds, or maybe my schedule's busy and I can't make it to a showing, or usually I just have trouble getting people to come with me. This is why I enjoy renting movies and seeing flicks at the dollar theatre. Once all the hype's over you can relax and sometimes I'll watch older movies or titles that never got that much notice. Last weekend I rented a few and I just got in from the dollar theatre so I'm ready to try some reviews.
First on the list is The Warriors
(1979). Sometime in the future 9 members of every gang in New York travel to a rally where a man named Cyrus proclaims the gangs could rule the city if they'd put aside their petty differences. Amidst all the confusion following his getting shot and a police raid, the Warriors find themselves mistaken for the murderers and in a desperate scramble to get home to Coney Island. I like how "in the future" was pretty obviously still the '70s. I just considered it an alternate world where street gangs wore elaborate costumes and makeup. I watched the director's cut which mixed in some comic book style transitions between scenes, which I think was a very nice touch. If you've ever read a comic book from that era, you'll know they slipped street gang stories into any story they logically could (and even some not-so-logically) so I felt fairly comfortable with the setup. I also liked how authentic the movie looked as opposed to something I'd see today. The fights are actual scuffles with slapping and realistic sound effects. We actually follow characters running and getting out of breath, a feeling that's lost in today's sometimes overly tight filming and editing. Other than Swan I didn't pick up on any other character names but the flamboyant costumes make up for it. It's a little confusing following 9 main characters (and their numbers shrink as the story moves on) but for what it is, I liked this one a lot. I wish there'd been a few more fight scenes, particularly in the last confrontation, but that's a minor point. I'd rather come out wishing I'd seen more than walking away because it's full of bloat.
Then we have Escape from New York
(1981). This was an awesome companion film. In 1988 the US crime rate increases by 400%. The island of Manhattan is converted into one huge maximum security prison where inmates are dumped. Air Force One is hijacked and crashed with the President inside in 1997. War hero turned convict Snake Plissken is tasked with rescuing him in exchange for a full pardon. I enjoyed this alternate timeline story. It's a nice "what if" commentary on the prison system and the nuclear arms race. Really, I wish we'd seen more of life inside crazy NYC. Isaac Hayes plays the Duke, the leader inside the prison, who plans on using the President as a bargaining chip to open up the bridge out of the city. He captures Snake and forces him to fight to the death as time runs out. I personally would have rather seen Snake sneak around all the dark, abandoned buildings, fighting his way through the inmates. But there's some interesting character relationships in this story and the last couple minutes (one giant middle finger to the system that sent him in) are very awesome.
My mom rented Highlander: The Source
(2007). This is about the character Duncan MacLeod from the television series
, not Connor McLeod from the 1986 movie
and it's sequels. Considering I'm more familiar with the TV show than the original movies, this should have been a good thing. It's the not too distant future and law is pretty much non-existent. Duncan bands together with other Immortals, the woman he loves who left him when she found out he was immortal, and a Watcher, in order to find the Source of their immortality. If that sounds confusing, it is. I gave this movie about an hour and I couldn't take any more. The story moves outrageously slow and none of the characters really seems to know what's going on, the effects are subpar, (the Guardian fights in bullet time, apparently, which is supposed to make him appear fast but instead is so over-used it makes him feel slower than normal) the acting is flat and the writing is just as bad. (Guardian talks in a goofy "Tell him what he's won, Johnny!" jokester way, which totally ruins any weight his character should have) Avoid this one if you can. I feel bad for not watching it all the way to see if anything could eventually turn it around but I seriously doubt I missed anything.
Today I saw Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
(2008). Buddies Harold and Kumar decide to hop a flight to Amsterdam after their trip to White Castle in a plan to surprise Harold's new girl. Of course Kumar brings a bong on the plane, it gets mistaken for a bomb, they get mistaken for terrorists, and they get sent to Guantanamo Bay. Now I know the Spill crew didn't like it
but I don't think they were particularly fans of the first one, either. It didn't feel too forced to me, except for the Gitmo aspect. I really think that was just some concept somebody tossed out there during a brainstorming session and they stuck with it too long. Just making a typical road trip movie about them trying to get to Amsterdam would have worked better. Rob Corddry's very good in this one, too, though he does come off as a little too cartoony and goofy for the sake of being goofy. What made the first one work so well for me was the surprise element of the gags. (Like going to pee on a bush alone in the woods and suddenly a guy comes up right next to you and starts peeing as well) This one I could see most of the plot twists coming. That said, if you liked the first one, check this one out.