THX 1138 is the first ever movie directed by George Lucas. Before American Graffiti and the Star Wars saga. Most people (myself included) had no idea it even existed. For the longest time I just assumed it was some kind of documentary for the THX sound company. Turns out it’s the other way around. We all know the sound company with the loud deafening noise. This forgotten flop from the early 70’s is what it’s named after. THX 1138 is the name of a man living in a dystopian future where robots police the society and drugs suppress emotion. Sex, and by extension reproduction is against the law. Causing THX to get imprisoned when he engages in these acts with a woman named LUH 3417. It’s interesting to see George Lucas’s early take on sci-fi. People have shaved heads, the color palette is monochromatic, and the sounds are eerie. It just didn’t do anything for me. Not like some Star Wars fans who started a cult following. Although it nearly put me to sleep, THX 1138 is worth a look if you want to see George Lucas at his most raw.
Eraser is one of very few Arnold Schwarzenegger movies I never saw when I was a kid. Not that every movie he did was instantly appealing to me. Eraser is one of the bigger standouts in that regard. Since it features a fairly standard government conspiracy storyline and didn’t seem to feature many one liners. The titular “Eraser” is a U.S. Marshall named John Krueger. His job is to erase the identities of individuals caught up in life threatening situations. Like a more extreme version of witness protection. His main client is a woman who gets caught up in a conspiracy involving futuristic weapons of mass destruction. It’s an interesting premise, but Arnie can be easily swapped out with a different actor. Not that he doesn’t at least do a few over-the-top things. Like jumping out of a plane, shooting a crocodile, or shooting 2 of the EM-1 Railguns at once. He even gets a few one liners out. Like “You’ve just been erased.” You can’t go wrong with Vanessa Williams as the female lead, but James Caan is a bit of a mismatched villain. Eraser has good action, but it’s forgettable among Arnie’s bigger hits.
Bridget Jones’s Baby is really the Bridget Jones sequel I wanted to see straight away. Due to the large 12 year gap and surprisingly positive reception. While Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason was too hung up on copying the first film. Bridget Jones’s Baby is entirely original. It’s not even based on a Helen Fielding novel like the first two. Now she’s the screenwriter. Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and the rest of the primary cast all returns (along with a more contemporary soundtrack). With the exception of Hugh Grant. Who’s absence is addressed in an unexpected way. He’s replaced by America’s own McDreamy Patrick Dempsey. Which is why Emma Thompson was added to balance out the Britishness. Bridget Jones is back and more lonely then ever. Now dealing with the fact that her biological clock is ticking. Until she winds up pregnant with no clue who the father is. It could either be new guy Jack Qwant or her true love Mark Darcy. Both of whom are equally likely candidates. Leading to plenty of hilarious clashes between the three of them as they try to sort this mess out. Unlike the second film, the humor is brought back to the relatable standard of the original. I was especially pleased by how heartwarming I found it to be. It’s refreshing to see that (despite the unorthodox circumstances) the film still treats a baby as a miracle. Bridget Jones’s Baby is the best way to close this romantic trilogy.
Preceded by: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is simply Bridget Jones’s Diary 3 years later and less funny. Mainly the reason romantic comedies shouldn’t have sequels. After the big kiss, where else is there left to go? Which is why Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason tears down all the progress in favor of telling the story all over again. That’s why you’ve likely never heard of this sequel. Even though Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant all return. Bridget Jones has been living happily with Mark Darcy since the last time we saw her. Only now she feels like she’s not good enough for him. So that’s where things regress to the plot of the first film. Complete with Bridget returning to her cheating ex Daniel Cleaver. Save for a trip to the ski slopes and an even longer trip to Thailand. Everything else is practically the same. It begins with a Christmas gathering, Bridget gets embarrassed at a party, her arse is shown on live television, Mark and Daniel fight in public, declaring her love for Mark in an awkward way, she even tells off Daniel with a bloody Aretha Franklin song following it just like in the first film. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is all the same only far more concerned with putting Bridget in unfunny wacky situations. At least the music’s still good.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is a high standard romantic comedy. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Today I figured I would talk about one of the most well liked rom-coms of the early 2000’s. Bridget Jones’s Diary is a film I at first only knew for its history and reputation. Bridget Jones was for her time considered to be the quintessential modern British woman. Created by the equally beloved British author Helen Fielding. So you can imagine the controversy that sprouted when the very American Renée Zellweger was cast to play her. Fortunately for her, Zellweger’s English accent is practically flawless. Being American myself, I know how difficult it can be to sustain one. So I was very impressed. I’m not overly familiar with the story, but the book/movie is based loosely on Pride and Prejudice. Bridget Jones has more than a few hang ups. She smokes, drinks, often says the wrong thing, and has a habit of wearing overly large knickers. So she decides to keep a diary in order to better improve herself. Along with the accent, Renée Zellweger gained weight and worked in a publishing company in order to prepare for the role. Even earning an Oscar nomination for her trouble. Bridget finds herself in a love triangle between her sexually aggressive boss Daniel Cleaver and the always present Mark Darcy. Of course played by rom-com staple Hugh Grant and Britain’s favorite Colin Firth respectively. Leading to plenty of humor, sentiment, and a fun American soundtrack. As well as notable moments such as Bridget’s botched speech or wearing of a bunny outfit. Not to mention her last second dash through the snow in smaller knickers. Bridget Jones’s Diary is just an all around charming experience full stop.
Followed by: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
The Final Girls flips the horror genre on its head. Though not quite as well known as The Cabin in the Woods, The Final Girls nevertheless gets the job done in a unique way. It follows a group of teenagers who attend the showing of a 1986 slasher movie called Camp Bloodbath. Only to find themselves trapped inside the movie with no way out. Where the only way to survive is to follow the plot. The Final Girls pokes fun at just about every horror cliché and character. Intentionally bad writing, excessive violence, slow motion, flashbacks, half naked girls, and as the title suggests, the virgin final girl(s). What I wasn’t expecting was not just how funny it was, but also how emotional it turned out to be. The final girl, Max, reunites with her deceased mother who was well known for her scream queen role in Camp Bloodbath. It leads to a lot of heartfelt moments for a slasher film. Then again it does bare the rare distinction of being a PG-13 slasher movie. Taissa Farmiga proves herself to be a great scream queen just like her older sister Vera. The slasher (Billy Murphy) may just be a parody of Jason Voorhees, but he’s still striking enough to stand on his own. The Final Girls is an underrated stand out that puts its horror setting to great use.
[WARNING! EXPLICIT CONTENT] Eyes Wide Shut is the final film by legendary director Stanley Kubrick. Due to his death 5 months before its release. Some would even call it his “unfinished masterpiece,” but it was definitely finished by that point. For the longest time, my only knowledge of the film was that it was Kubrick’s last picture. How much nudity was in it, that it starred real life married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and that there were (fittingly enough) warning signs from outside sources. All I can say is, it’s important to know what kind of movie you’re getting into. A nearly 3 hour long erotic thriller with Kubrick complexity. The first nude scene is a mere 22 seconds into the movie. As Nicole Kidman disrobes in her first of several nude scenes. Her performance is very raw, but her character is mostly seen in the first act. Tom Cruise plays a doctor and her husband who goes on a night long (Christmas set?) journey after she admits to almost cheating on him. He gets hit on several times, almost sleeps with a hooker, but most importantly, discovers a secret society. This is when things get really weird. The society consists of people in robes and scary masks participating in orgies. Part of it had to be recut just to insure an R rating. However, Eyes Wide Shut doesn’t really get confusing until after that night. Like every other Stanley Kubrick movie I’ve seen up to this point, I was left with mixed emotions and a headache. Until I took a deeper look into the movie. Discovering just how much time (400 consecutive days of shooting!) and meticulous detail was put into it. Eyes Wide Shut is definitely not for everyone, but it is perhaps the best send off for such an iconic director.
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore came out about 9 years too late. As I said in my Cats & Dogs review, no one seems to like talking animal movies anymore. This and the previous year’s movie G-Force are the main reason I stopped going to the theater to see them. Although I could tell I wasn’t going to like it as much as the first movie, nostalgia was the main reason I went to see it. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore once again takes cues from Bond films. The hairless Sphynx name is an obvious toned down reference to Pussy Galore. Fun fact, Kitty Galore was actually the name they were gonna use in Goldfinger if the censors didn’t allow the alternative. There’s also a cat named Tab Lazenby voiced by James Bond himself Roger Moore. The main problem I had with the sequel is that it replaces a lot of the original voice cast and by extension limits their role in the movie. Replacing them with a boring police dog, a pigeon, and a cat working on their side (since not all cats are evil). I don’t disagree, I just think cats work better as villains. Kitty Galore’s plot is pretty much copy and paste. Plus the CGI seems to have gotten worse. Cats & Dogs 2 is just pure kitty litter.
Preceded by: Cats & Dogs
Cats & Dogs pits two lifelong enemies against each other. The feline and the canine. In a movie I feel only works for the time it was released. It’s almost like talking animal movies have a stigma now that they didn’t used to have back in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Which is why I saw it in the theater when I was a kid. It’s also why Tobey Maguire voices the lead dog Lou. Since he was really big at the time. Cats & Dogs takes place in a world where dogs are secretly secret agents and cats are diabolical masterminds. Lou is just an ordinary beagle who gets mistakenly recruited to be an agent. Part of his mission is to help stop the most ruthless white Persian in the world… Mr. Tinkles! Kind of like if Blofeld’s cat was running the show. He sends cat ninja and a Russian cat operative, but his ultimate goal is to make all humans allergic to dogs. The animal speaking effects are up to the Babe standard. However, the occasional shift to CGI animals can get a little cartoony. Not that I expect a kids movie about animal secret agents to be deep or anything. I still enjoy it just as much as when I was younger. It helps that I’ve always been more of a dog person than a cat person. Cats & Dogs is the perfect off-the-wall union of our four legged friends.
Followed by: Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
Cowboys & Aliens is one of the weirder comic book adaptations out there. The 2006 Platinum Studios comic is so obscure I’d never even heard of it. So it’s even more bizarre that Jon Favreau wanted to make it instead of Iron Man 3. I’ve always been a big fan of alien invasion movies and a relatively good fan of westerns. So I gravitated towards the odd combination of the two. Surprisingly, my entire family and I went to the theater to see the movie. What we got was a mixed bag we still enjoyed. Cowboys & Aliens starts with cowboys. Harrison Ford once again acts opposite a James Bond actor. Daniel Craig, who plays tough gunslinger Jake Lonergan. You can tell the two of them are trying a lot harder than they need to. Olivia Wilde also makes an impression. When the aliens finally do show up, it’s a dramatic shift. Since both genres couldn’t be more different. Not that there aren’t hints of it beforehand. Jake has a powerful alien weapon on his wrist. Which helps the cowboys fight the aliens. The aliens themselves make sense for the time period. Their large green armored aliens with the goal of mining gold. Of course it wouldn’t be a western without Native Americans. The Apache people are actually very well portrayed. In fact, all the western stuff has great attention to detail and the sci-fi stuff isn’t half bad either. Whether or not you think they work well together is up to you. I guess you get what you’d expect from a movie called Cowboys & Aliens.