Wednesday, February 22, 2012

War of the Worlds (1953)

So I first saw this movie when I was seven.  The city where I lived had just gotten its first indie television station & they played all the Godzilla & other disposable sci-fi movies every Sunday afternoon.  This one wasn’t holding my attention as it was lacking in action.  It was probably about half way through when my brother (five years older than me) walked in & said, “Oh, this is the one where the common cold kills the aliens.”  So the ending being given away I went to play with my Star Wars action figures.

I’m not really sure why I never re-visited this movie before.  One of my favorite comics as a kid was the Killraven series that was a sequel to War of the Worlds (about the Martians coming back & there being a group of four or five revolutionaries trying to survive & be a thorn in the Martians’ side).  I was pretty intrigued by the 1988 television show based on it.  I read the Orson Welles radio play for school.  I saw the Steven Spielberg version of the movie from 2005 & I kind of dug that as well. Around 2007 I finally read the original book.  So yeah, this movie, presumably my first taste of the horror survival genre (note the genre the book was originally classified as is
“invasion literature”), you’d think it would have been something I would have gone back to; but I remembered it being so slow & boring that I never went back.

So tonight it was on television & I put it on while I did some work laying out some comics.  As a person who has become a fan of old movies, this isn’t that slow; but I cannot imagine it being of interest to a child.  Is it dated as an almost 70 year old movie that relied heavily on what were the best possible special effects of the time?  Yes, in the same way most big budget sci-fi movies are when they’re as little as ten years old.  One thing that was strange is there’s a lot of weird religious elements thrown in here about God designing the world to have bacteria to fight aliens if they ever invade & people’s prayers for a miracle being answered.  I can’t remember if that’s in the ending of the book (or the Spielberg movie) or not.  To be honest, I can’t remember the endings of any of them because it is such a cop out ending to make this huge big bad & then just have it die suddenly. (Though what are the alternate endings?  Total decimation of the human race (try getting that published in 1898!) or the humans magically have superior technology to aliens?  I guess the cop out is as good an ending as any.)  It’s interesting that this movie doesn’t really work on the quasi-political fear angle at all (the original book was about the fear of a foreign nation (presumably Germany at the time) developing superior war technology & destroying England).  In fact this movie doesn’t really seem to have any kind of message behind it, it just feels like a summer blockbuster.  That said, this movie really has nothing wrong with it, but unless you want to look at it for some nostalgia or historical purposes I really can’t give it a recommendation.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Grosse Pointe Blank

I first saw this movie in the early 2000s. It seemed like every time I came home from a show it was half way done & I’d have it on while eating some ice cream or something like that. I loved John Cusack from High Fidelity (I was slow to get on the John Cusack train) & the black comedy hitman aspect was of course super awesome as well. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's the story of a hitman going to his ten year high school reunion & trying to get back his high school sweetheart.

I’m not sure exactly how I ended up owning a DVD of this movie & I never actually watched it even though it has been sitting in my room for years. Watching it was odd because while I’m 90% sure I’ve seen the entire movie before, I’m also 100% sure I’d never seen the whole thing in one sitting much less without the commercials. I’ll be honest. I think I preferred this when my drunken mind had put the bits together into a cohesive whole. There were major plot points that were missing in my mind. I’d forgotten about the psychiatrist & that John Cusack had assassins after him because of killing a dog (I thought it was just for not joining Aykroyd’s assassin guild). It wasn’t quite as good as I remembered, but the 1980s semi-shoegazery soundtrack (The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Pixies, etc.) was a lot more fun than I remembered. I kinda wish this was still on the television regularly when I got home from shows.

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