Monthly Archives: January 2013
I’m working on my next review for you guys, and while that’s being polished up real purty-like, I thought I’d take the time to share my latest strange movie obsession: Bad fairy tale adaptations. Okay. Maybe not super bad, but iffy. Very much meh-worthy.
The local This-TV channel shows family films on Saturday mornings. Lately, they’ve been fairy tales, and of course, I’ve been enjoying them whilst sipping on my coffee. So here are a couple quick thoughts on the two I’ve recently watched:
Puss in Boots (1988) starring Jason Connery, and Christopher Walken (I know!!!!!). I know I gave Connery a hard time when I reviewed his performance in the lackluster Lightspeed, but he more than makes up for it in this. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t Death of a Salesman or anything, but Connery’s performance of the miller’s son who pretends to be a nobleman in order to win the heart of the princess is a good one. And because the movie is a musical, Connery gets to sing (just like dear old dad did in Darby O’Gill and the Little People). He carries a tune nicely.
Now that we’ve got that out-of-the-way, let’s discuss Walken. First of all, how ever did he find his way into this movie? Secondly, he’s great as the cat who coaches Connery’s character and sweet talks his way into the king’s good graces. And he sings as well! In fact, he gets five songs in this movie. I really enjoyed watching Walken take over any scene he was in. He’s just so cool.
The Frog Prince (1986) starring Aileen Quinn (Annie) and Helen Hunt. In this version of the classic fairy tale, Quinn and Hunt play sisters who are being raised by their uncle the king. The sisters are vying for the title of “Princess” and an official judge is on his way to decide who gets the honor. Hunt’s character is the older, more beautiful sister. She’s also cold-hearted and very vain. Quinn’s character is the younger, awkward sister. She tries really heard to be beautiful and poised like Hunt, but usually fails. However, due to her goodness, she’s her uncle’s favorite. The frog prince is actually a full-grown man in pretty interesting frog makeup. He befriends Quinn and decides to help her prepare for the judging.
I saw this version of the story many years ago, and remember enjoying it. I just rewatched it last week, and though it’s very dated and I think my eyes might have rolled out of my head a few times, I found it to be a good waste of two hours. Like Puss in Boots, The Frog Prince was also sing-songy. Quinn sings a lot (which is fine, cause she’s Annie after all) and Hunt doesn’t sing once (which is also fine because I’ve never heard her sing and there might be a good reason for that). The frog prince guy gets his fair share of musical numbers too.
This movie, though entertaining, errs on the side of cheesy many, many times. For example, Quinn’s golden ball (the one the frog fetches for her early in the story) isn’t just lucky. Nay! It’s magical! So several times we hear the frog-man request of it things such as “Oh lucky ball, please help us find a way into the palace.” Also, once the frog is a dude again, he looks funny. But again, that could be because it’s so dated.
The studio that made both of these movies is The Cannon Group (the series listed as Cannon Movie Tales). According to Wikipedia there are seven other fairy tale movies that they’ve released in the 1980s. I know I’ve caught a few minutes of Beauty and the Beast starring Rebecca De Mornay and also part of Sleeping Beauty starring the delightful Kenny Baker as a kindly elf and Morgan Fairchild (of all people) as the queen. She sings.
Netflix doesn’t seem to have these in their dvd collection (unsure about streaming) so I guess I’ll have to find these on TV as they come along. Now that I’ve discovered them, I must see them all regardless of stupid songs and 80s hair. It’s a quest!
At the time of my posting this, I will have seen three of the films recently nominated for Best Picture for this year’s Academy Awards: Lincoln, Argo, and Les Miserables.
I still plan to see Beasts of the Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook. If I can catch the others before the ceremony, then so be it. But I don’t think I’ll be able to get to them in time. Movie-going is a financial investment these days!
Tonight the Golden Globes will air, and thus the first televised round of award-giving commences. I’ve heard time and time again, that the Golden Globes are the best predictor for Oscar. I’ve never been a big follower of that theory. After all, the playing field of the GG’s is vast and a little bit crowded.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association splits the categories up between Drama and Comedy/Musical. Some people really like this, and I agree to a point. After all, how can you decide which is the better film when the style and genres are so different?
But on the other hand, why should they be segregated? Most people would probably consider the one in the Drama category as the superior film but does the film being serious make it any better? Sometimes movies that make you laugh are just as wonderful if not better. The best picture should be the best picture regardless of genre.
Anyways, I’ll most likely watch the GG’s tonight because though they not a super reliable Oscar-predictor (as I’ve already mentioned) they do assist with front-runner buzz. If someone is nominated for Oscar and they win the GG, then that puts them in front-runner place. Of course, you have to add in the Screen Actors Guild, Director’s Guild, and BAFTA nominations if you really want a good prediction guide, but after the GG’s it’s all about buzz. And the buzz is what you need to pay attention to in the weeks and days running up to Oscar-time. Sometimes that makes a difference. Or maybe it makes no difference at all. It’s tough to tell.
As you’ve probably guessed, it’s Oscar that I really pay attention to. For one thing, it’s fun to predict—especially if you get them right. For another, I have a wager to win. For the past couple years, I have competed against a friend to see who can pick the most winners. The prize? Besides bragging rights for an entire year, the winner also gets treated to the movie of his/her choice. The loser has to pay. So far, we have each won once. I lost last year. I can’t remember how I lost, but I did. I think it’s those documentaries. They get you every time.
I plan to reclaim the title this year. It will be a challenge, though. My opponent has seen more of the nominated films than I have. I am, however, working to even out the playing field a bit. Plus, if memory serves, I remain undefeated in my predicting of the Best Original Score and Best Song categories. So I have that, I think…maybe…
So let the awards season begin! I’m ready. As we get closer in, and when I finally make up my mind, I’ll post my Oscar predictions for you. We’ll see if I still have the gift.
How about you? Do any of your follow along with the film awards? Or do you have actual lives?
Remember when Twister came out? I saw it in a THX theater, and with the a/c blasting away, it felt like we were in the middle of the action. Or at least, that’s how my brain remembers it. This week’s movie kind of sort of reminds me of Twister only without the storm chasing. Instead there’s storm fleeing. AND, just because this is the first review of the year, I’m giving you a recap. It’s my new year’s gift to you.
Ice Twisters. The name just says “disaster.” The film opens with the shot of an empty road more or less situated in or near the Rockies (due to all the mountain shots in the background) Movies that open this way tell me that somewhere, a science team in a sleepy mountain town is about to either start and/or save end of the world. I haven’t been disappointed yet.
A science team of sorts (I can tell because they are all in tents and everyone has a computer) has unleashed something called “the hive” which are some kind of flying robots. They look sort of like robot wasps or something. Don’t hold me to that. The entire movie we never get a nice lingering shot on one of them. Maybe the writer didn’t know what it looked like either. Hmm. Anyways, these flying robot thingies have just formed a cloud.
Cut to outside a bookstore. Charlie Price (played by Mark Moses from Desperate Housewives) has a new book out “Jonas Fear.” His book is about end o’ the world something or other. He notices that only men are in line for the signing. (ha ha) Charlie asks his assistant to remind him to write his next book on relationships or something so more women show up to signings. His assistant (Nora) is very familiar and I’ve just figured out who she is. Aha! She’s Chelan Simmons who was Gretchen Speck-Horowitz on Wonderfalls. Now that’s a show that should have been on the air much longer. Go find it and watch. Excellent show.
Okay, a faithful reader shows up and says that he’s read all Price’s books, and that he (Price, not the fan) is a hypocrite since he writes about all these save the world scenarios and none of them are in practice or something. He kind of rants a bit and it makes no sense. Price reminds his fan (antifan?) that he’s just a writer and whether or not the “save the world solutions” in his books work, don’t matter.
Meanwhile, the science team checks on their robot formed cloud and see that it’s raining from said cloud. So…they’ve made a rain cloud and not just a Pooh Bear cloud. And it’s a HUGE, perfect storm kind of cloud. HUGE, I tell you. By the way, the book store for the signing is in a sleepy little town. Go figure.
Gary the cute computer guy who looks like a younger London brother says that there’s a situation 14 miles away in the sleepy town of Harrisford (book town). I guess that’s where the science cloud is. Charlie Price steps out of the bookstore and says “that’s not good.” I like him already. Now the winds have picked up crazy like and a car flies through the air and causes chaos and craziness.
Cut to a man and a woman on some country road. She’s peeing in someone’s yard, or behind some shrubs whatever. The guy sees the freakish cloud and says that it’s not normal. He gets his camera out. It turns out they are college reporters on their way to cover the book signing. I think they might be a couple as well.
Cut to Federal Project Oversight Agency in West Virginia. A man is handed a file and is alerted to a blip on the radar showing that ginormous cloud (now storm) near Project Raindance (the science cloud). Okay, so that’s a cloud that formed on its own apart from the science cloud? I’m confused. Le’ts just assume that’s the case.
Science team lady (Joanne) and a guy I referred to in my notes as Beard Man (Damon) show up in town and check out the destruction. Charlie has Nora (who is a little injured after the storm rolled through town) loaded into an ambulance. Charlie then sees that the naysayer antifan died in the storm attack. You can tell he’s vowing to avenge this death. He’s on the job!
Charlie approaches Joanne. They know each other since Joanne was Charlie’s research assistance back in the day. Damon’s kind of an ass about Charlie. I wonder if he and Joanne have something going on or if he just wishes. Why not be polite?
Frank, the fed guy at the desk job is on the phone with Damon and tells him that when they figure out what caused the pop-up storm, make sure it wasn’t caused by their “experiments.” And he doesn’t say it in a “better not be you” kind of way. He says it in a “cook the books” kind of way. So Frank is evil and Damon is his toady. Awesome.
Charlie asks Joanne to have dinner so they can catch up but she rain checks him. Charlie heard Damon said Frank’s name when he was on the phone so he asks who Frank is. So Charlie at this point, went from polite conversation to man on the job, ace reporter. Joanne tells Damon that in order to control the situation, they should keep Charlie close.
Cut to images of the cloud wasp thingies flying all over the place. Gary wants to know where they are drawing their energy. He also sees that they’ve formed another storm cell. I think it’s safe to say that these wasp thingies have gone “Skynet” on us. Does everyone agree? Robots are evil, people.
So we get another shot of crazy storm sky. A farmer is on his tractor when it hits his field. The field stars icing over and the man is flash frozen…just like those peas he was growing.
The names of the ace reporters are Eric and Ashley. They find out the book signing ended early due to the freak storm. They bicker some more and we learn that they are in college though they look way older and better dressed than college kids. They decide to try to catch up with Charlie a little later.
Meanwhile, in the storm chaser SUV… It stops at the field of the frozen farmer. Per Gary, this was where the storm formed. While Damon pouts and Joanne chats with Gary, Charlie finds Farmer Dead. Okay. not Farmer Dead. He finds part of a flying robot and notices that the puddle around it has nearly freezing water. I hope someone finds the farmer. I want to use the phrase Farmer Dead!!!!! Okay, so the technology makes a cloud and then seeds it. Damon can’t stand that Charlie a) found the robot piece, and b) learned what it was.
Yes!!!! Farmer Dead! Joanne finds him. Also, he’s sort of purple blue which Charlie says is because he’s pumped full of silver iodide. This is never, ever explained completely. Joanne says they need to abort the test since you know…people are dying. Damon is all “WHAT?” Cause he’s a tool. Joanne says abort regardless.
Cut to evil Frank hiding in a mens room stall. Damon is on the other side of that call. He says that the storms are totally the science team’s fault. He also says that Joanne suggested a full abort. Frank says no way Jose and says that Damon works for him, not Joanne. Cause apparently human casualties are just an annoyance in the face of scientific progress.
Cut to Ashley and Eric driving in the car. Ashley has to pee again. What on earth has she been drinking? Apple juice? Cranberry juice? Her kidneys are definitely working. All of a sudden, a funnel cloud appears. It’s totally white and ice-like. Eric and Ashley decide to film it while driving away from it as fast as they can–cause that’s safe. Meanwhile, Nora has been discharged from the hospital and is on her way back to Los Angeles. She is driving from the opposite direction on the very same road. She’s just watching the cloud and drives into the oncoming lane, narrowly missing Ashley and Eric. In avoiding their car, Nora cuts straight into the funnel cloud. We hear a lot of noise, none of which is positive sounding.
Eric and Ashley wind up in a ditch. It’s cold outside. Ashley wonders what happened to the other car. Eric notices that there’s no cell service. They decide the only thing to do is walk to the TV station. (I love how they are committed to their project. I know I wasn’t that dedicated when I was doing journalism in college.) Eric grabs the camera and they head off on foot.
Gary says there’s no pattern to the storms and per Charlie, therein lies the pattern. Huh? Charlie then says that they aren’t looking in the right place. He says something along the lines of vertical weather. This is crazy-talk apparently. Per Charlie, the storms are starting higher in the atmosphere and forcing their way down. Damon is all no way and btw, the project is still on. Franks says no abort. Charlie just looks smug. Jo calls Frank who puts her to voicemail. Ouch. I love how the fiction writer bests the scientists. This is like a sciencey version of Castle.
Damon tells Jo that since Frank finances their project, he owns it so he’s in charge. Whatever. Jo says to take the robots down regardless, but it can’t be done from where their base camp is. Jo says they need to reverse the ionization process if that works.
All of a sudden, the radar shows a drastic drop in temperature. Can radar show that? Charlie announces they’ve got a twister. It’s like right there on top of them and headed their way. Everyone can see it, Charlie. There’s no need to announce. The funnel cloud is freezing everything in its path. The group abandon base camp. There are at least three twisters now. Everyone runs for their cars. Bill (another tech)and his SUV get pulled in by a twister. Charlie and Jo run for cover and hide in a drainage pipe thingy that’s in the ground. Gary and Damon floor it in their SUV and zoom off.
Frank sees new radar images of crazy storm cells. There are like 10 now–all red and huge in the area. But that’s okay. He’s safe and sound in his government office.
The storm passes. Eric and Ashley managed to film the whole thing from their road of safety. They have lots of discussions of government testing and conspiracy theories. Despite nearly dying a few times, Ashley is still concerned they are going to fail their class since they didn’t get to interview Charlie. Eric is all “reporters cover the news while it’s happening” and suggests they abandon their assignment to cover the storms. Smart boy.
Charlie and Jo survived (how??) and are now walking down the road chatting about their past or lack thereof. Damon and Gary pick them up. Gary is sad about Bill not making it.
Gary says they need a good broadband connection in order to contact the robots and shut them down. They stop at a motel with free Wifi and a continental breakfast. Yay breakfast! Since the National Weather Service had issued mandatory town evacs, the motel is empty.
Our rag-tag team searches the motel to get the power back on so they can get a connection. Charlie and Jo head for the basement of the motel to find a generator because Charlie says there just has to be one. There’s the generator. It’s out of fuel (of course it is!!!) so they plan to siphon some out of the SUV.
Meanwhile, Ashley and Eric arrive at the TV station which is locked and looks abandoned. Eric decides to look for a way in. Ashley’s journalistic ethics say breaking and entering is wrong. Eric’s–not so much. They sneak into the station which from the outside, just looks like garages or storage units. Budget filmmaking, folks.
Gas in the generator. Generator on..Free wifi activated!!! Per the doppler data, the storms are getting stronger and headed towards Portland. That’s what storms, aliens, meteors, earthquakes, etc do. They head for the nearest major city. It’s a movie rule.
Frank orders a plane to check out the damage or the storms or something. The plan is trying to make it through the storm cell, and it’s not good. Also, Gary and company are locked out of the data. Frank is trying to override them. They can’t link in with their robots to shut them down. And then the power goes out. Meanwhile, Frank is informed that they’ve lost contact with the plane. He shouts “Where’s our eye in the sky!!!!” and hangs up the phone. It’s soooo dramatic, I giggled a little. Poor Frank. Being the bad guy isn’t easy.
The gas tank on the generator is cracked, so yeah, that’s bad. Gary says he has to have a solid signal in order to hack the robots to land them. Damon continues being a naysayer. Charlie’s phone chirps a reminder that Nora set up for him. He’s got an appointment at the TV station for that interview with Eric and Ashley. The gang decide to visit the station.
As they travel to the station, Gary notices something and they stop to see. The camera moves reeeally slooow and doesn’t pan all the way so we can see what they’ve seen. I understand building suspense, but this is way too slow. It’s a train wreck–literally. They assume the train must have been in the storm’s path. They search for survivors. It looks like the train was pulling some industrial stuff, so any personnel would be few. But, we do find Nora’s body.
Special Note: When Nora drove into the funnel cloud, I heard a train sound, but when people tell stories of tornadoes hitting their homes, they always say, it sounded like a freight train or something so I thought it was sound effects to that nature. But no, it was an actual train.
Joanne is sad because their experiment caused all this. She also blames Damon since he let Frank take over the project. After screaming at Damon a little more, she gets in the car with a grieving Charlie. He’s sad, but not crying upset or anything. I guess he and Nora weren’t that close then.
Our gang sees another storm cell forming overhead. Gary and Damon rush towards the car as a funnel cloud travels downwards toward them. They jump into the car and floor it. I don’t know about Charlie, but I would have the heat blasting just in case.
Frank is on the phone with someone superior and is denying that the weather is not being caused by his project. Frank then tells his assistant that they have all the data they need. Time to unplug the robots and shut them down. Assistant says they won’t respond. Frank says to shoot them out of the sky. Wow. He’s so CYA on this whole thing.
Meanwhile, Charlie and company pull in to the TV station which from the angle they just showed is so very much a storage building. It’s just a row of garages. I love this!!!
Eric and Ashley see the vehicle pull in and hide cause they aren’t supposed to be there. (But the funny thing was that they were! They had an appointment with Charlie to follow-up after the initial footage they were supposed to do at the bookstore. Come on!) Anyways they think again and answer the door. After introductions, the gang sets up shop. Damon also tries to steal Eric’s storm footage. Meanwhile Gary attempts to hack the system to shut down the robots.
Charlie and Jo get Frank on audio chat. Frank covers his rear by saying that he’s sorry but he has no choice but to terminate the project. Fighter jets take down a bunch of flying robots. Frank gets a call that it’s a success. Then he shreds personnel files for the project along with some data. Doesn’t he know that’s all backed up on computers now?
Gary sees on the screen that the robots are down. They keep calling them “seraphs” so I will too. I shall refer to them as robots no more. From now on, they are “seraphs” except now that they are down, I can’t refer to them anymore. Oh well…
Charlie says that Frank hijacked their research to see how strong the storms could get. But get this….the storms aren’t breaking up. Instead they are getting worse and zeroing in on Portland. Charlie thinks that this storm will grow and grow and become like the Eye of Jupiter. And that’s a big storm. Cool theory though. Best part of the movie.
Frank is upset the storm isn’t stopping. He calls the team and offers help. Eric chimes in that in Charlie’s previous book, holes were shot into the ionosphere to heat up the atmosphere to help dissipate the storms or some kind of weather science. This also involves using some kind of laser and satellite access. Gary says he can do it sooner if Frank gives him satellite access codes.
Frank says he can help but he wants assurances. Charlie says Frank has to give the project back to Jo to start with, and there are no other assurances. They are going to the university to use their something ray or whatever. Gary says they’ll be heading into the heart of the storm area. Joanne tells the reporters to get on the air to warn people to take precautions and cover. Get on the air to what? All the surrounding towns have been evacuated, and I hardly think that the good people of Portland will be watching the Storage Unit TV Channel. But that might just be my opinion.
Gary works his computer geek thing and waits for Frank to send the sat codes. Ashley goes on the air to report on the weather.
Cheap!!! I’m calling it! The filmmakers just used a shot from earlier when there were 3 funnel clouds! Same shot, same formation!!! Charlie tells Joanne that she’s a beautiful woman and now’s as good a time as any for confessions. Odd time, but okay. I think it’s supposed to take our attention away from the budget filmmaking.
Frank finally delivers the sat codes. Gary loads them up. Charlie uses some kind of physics theory to sling shot the SUV through all the funnel clouds. He and Jo plow right through. Wow. Meanwhile, the storm is trudging onward to Portland.
Charlie, Jo, and Damon arrive at the university. That’s what it’s called. The “university.” It really looks like a series of warehouses. Might be another storage facility. I digress…Damon has trouble getting out of the car and when he finally egresses, a hailstorm starts up. He’s pelted with ice rocks. Ouch. Bye Damon. Sorry you were such a jerk the whole time.
There are scientists in white coats in the laser building or whatever it is. Charlie gives them the short version of their story and scientist chick agrees to help. That was easy!
Meanwhile Gary can’t get the codes to work. Eric suggests that he check to see if the codes are case-sensitive. Gary is all “I’m a computer expert, you think I haven’t thought of that?” and sends Eric away. Turns out it was the cases. He looks a little sheepish before announcing “well, I’m in!” ha ha ha
Gary gets the satellite in order, and the university scientists get the laser ready to fire. Meanwhile, storms are at critical mass. But uh oh! More trouble. The power goes out at the university, and the backup generators kick in. Also, the doors have opened and the storm is hitting the laser building.
The laser gets powered up but isn’t warming up fast enough to fight off the storm. It’s gonna be down to the wire. At the crucial moment, the scientist lady fires the lasers and a huge blast is seen from space. The beam is breaching the ozone layer. Gary sets up the satellite to fire back through the breach.
Meanwhile the university building is starting to flash freeze on the inside. I can’t believe the computers are still working!!! And it works!!!!!!!! The sky turns blue and the clouds dissipate. The temperature starts to climb to normal. The giant red storm splotches vanish on the radar. Yay!! Everyone is happy except for Frank who is probably worrying about his job. The university science lady looks like she needs a vacation. Jo looks relieved and Frank does too. They comfort each other. Maybe dinner is back on now. Portland is safe from harm.
We exit the movie with those same peaceful shots of nature. Wait, sorry. False alarm. This is like the end of Return of the King. Eric and Ashley meet up with Charlie and Joanne in a pretty field. They are going to do the interview there where it’s pretty. Joanne says that after this, she’ll have to go back to being Charlie’s research assistant. Oh ha ha…
Frank’s assistant delivers a disc called A Day in the Life of Charlie Price. Copies were sent to the Senate Investigation Committee. The note on Frank’s personal copy says “Good luck in Prison.” As soon as the audience has had a chance to read the note, Frank gets a call from his secretary that federal agents are waiting to see him. Buh bye, Frank!
And that’s it. The credits roll right after that scene. For once, the title works with the movie. Ice Twisters really has freezing temperature, icy twisters! Thank you, movie title people! I’m still upset over Ice Quake and Snowmageddon–both of which didn’t exactly go with their titles. Oh well.
The movie was really silly, but I have to say despite the cheap excuses for exterior sets and repeated use of special effects shots, and confusing tech writing, the acting was pretty good. Mark Moses was a great leading man, and I almost want to see more adventures of Charlie Price. I can’t believe I just typed that! But it’s true, so I’ll keep that sentence in there. Also, the movie was kind of fun. I wouldn’t suggest it to everyone, but if it’s a rainy day, and it’s on the tube, go ahead and give it a shot.
And that’s the first review for the year, folks. My next review should have dragons in it. It’s been a while. I miss them.