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Archive for June, 2017

The movie is a different animal than the tv series.  It must be judged separately.  On that note, it’s almost a dark comedy about a slayer of vampires trying to deal with growing up and high school while learning about her destiny.  It’s fun and funny, and there are a lot of good and memorable moments.  Unfortunately, the acting doesn’t always measure up, and the rampant stereotypes get a little tiring after a while.  The whole thing has a very late ’80s, early ’90s feel to it, and that’s great if you’re feeling nostalgic.  It’s meant to make fun of a lot of things from that era, and it does, but it also falls short now and then, not really ever sure if it’s being serious or not.  If you can immerse yourself in the goofiness and humor, though, it’s delightful.

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Bruce Lee’s most famous film, this one has a more big budget feel to it and is designed like a James Bond film from the same era.  There’s the same level of espionage and suspense, the same music, a similar plotline, and just as much sex, albeit not shown directly.  There’s still plenty of martial arts action, and Lee’s acting is a bit more subtle than in his past work.  But the rest of the cast is greatly improved, and everything feels more well designed and showcased.  The pacing and editing are excellent, too.  It’s a plot with a quest involving a martial arts tournament, an illegal drug racket, and a bit of revenge.  Typical kung fu movie stuff, but done in a modern way.  It’s light, fun entertainment, even for those who aren’t usually kung fu fans.  Just don’t expect any deep psychological drama or meaningful questions about life.

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Fists of Fury

Another Bruce Lee classic, this one moves a bit slower than Chinese Connection.  Lee’s character isn’t as hotheaded, but he’s still prone to trouble, and the ending of the story is subsequently tragic.  There’s a drug ring conspiracy and family who are at turns helpful and frustrating.  Lee’s performance seems a bit over the top, but part of the problem might be that we’re never really given much explanation for anything.  There are gaping plot holes, and a lot of incidents seem almost arbitrary and unnecessary.  There’s plenty of kung fu fun; however, a lot of it isn’t had by Lee himself.  He spends the first half of the movie trying desperately not to get involved.  It’s quite a change of pace from the typical martial arts movie, but it has its own charms.  Don’t expect Shakespeare, though.

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If you’re a fan of Bruce Lee, you already know this one.  A tale of tragic revenge, it stars Lee as the hotheaded student of a martial arts school.  There’s lots of action and death and long fight scenes, all necessary for a good martial arts flick.  I saw the dubbed version, so the acting is a little hard to judge, except for Lee himself.  He was very good at emoting, as good as he was at fighting.  The rest of the movie is mostly classic kung fu tropes and posturing, but it’s great fun if you’re a fan of such films or if you’re looking for a good popcorn movie.  The ending is a little sad, but the entire story prepares you for that by showing Lee’s slow downward spiral into revenge and a life of violence.  Deep cuts for a kung fu flick.  He doesn’t have much of a story arc for his character, but the overall story is touching and, in a way, sort of epic.

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Broken Arrow

This straight-up action flick is great mindless entertainment.  That’s not to say it’s stupid.  There are a couple of minor plot holes and some science issues that aren’t accurately portrayed, but the characters are smart, and there’s lots of real-life military jargon and strategy.  The acting is good but not great, the plot is interesting but not profound.  The action and excitement is pretty much top-notch, though.  Hunting down a couple of missing nuclear weapons and the men who stole them will guarantee that.  There’s only one female character in the entire movie, which is annoying and ridiculous, but she holds her own pretty well and doesn’t dress or pose like a stripper, so that’s something.  Also, her romantic involvement with the protagonist is only hinted at in the end, instead of presenting her lips like a trophy.  She does as much to save the day as he does, and the physical attraction between them is hinted at in their first meeting but never delved into.  Much more realistic under the high-stress circumstances than what you see in most movies.  A sequel could have been nice, but that ship has long sailed.  If you’re a fan of Christian Slater, he’s at his Christian Slater-est in this one, and John Travolta does an excellent job in his role, which I can’t say about every movie I’ve seen him in.  So whether you’re a fan of the actors or of faux military stuff, you’ll like this one.

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The original classic is full of a surprising amount of psychological drama and dark frights.  Other than the talking appliances, it’s based heavily in a realistic sort of world.  I wouldn’t recommend it for the youngest kids, though, because of the more horrifying scenes.  There truly is a lot of scary stuff that puts the main characters’ lives in danger and a lot of existential questions posed in an indirect way about the nature of life and existence and impermanence.  Pretty deep for a kids’ cartoon.  Other than that, it’s a cute little story about talking appliances looking for their old master.  Doesn’t sound like much, but there are plenty of memorable scenes and good music.

The first sequel is considerably sillier and a lot less scary.  The plot isn’t too bad, but it suffers from the typical ’80s problem of not knowing how computers really work or what they really do.  The voice cast changed a bit, and the music is less interesting.  But as far as direct-to-video cartoon sequels go, you can do a lot worse.  The biggest change is that the animals suddenly talk, as well.  Not too big a leap, considering.  The weirdest scene, however, involves a connection incident between a couple of computers that gets played off rather explicitly like a sexual encounter.  It’s a little strong for a kids’ show.

The second sequel takes a bigger leap, transporting some of the characters to Mars as part of a convoluted mess of a plot.  At least, it has some story progression, following the same people who’ve been there from the start.  But the music is just as forgettable as that of the previous film in the series.  It’s not a bad little cartoon, just another cheap straight-to-video sequel in a sea of much worse ones.  It does stretch credulity even more than usual, but it’s still mindlessly entertaining.  Just don’t expect rocket science, despite the premise.

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Brave

One of the most recent of the Disney princess films, it’s also one of the best.  It’s actually my favorite, so I might be a bit biased in my review of it.  The voice acting is top notch, the music is fun and affecting, and the action and humor have an excellent balance.  The overall message about personal choice and responsibility is well made without being too preachy and ends up being quite inspiring.  The rejection of traditional romance and marriage tropes might be a little on the nose for a Disney princess movie, but it’s also well done.  I don’t really have any complaints.  The characters are well drawn, both literally and figuratively.  They might be a bit stereotypical, but their humanity still shines through, and you never feel like there’s nothing more to them.  If you haven’t seen this one and got tired of the typical princess movie, give it a shot.  You just may love it.

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