The Couch Potato Report – May 15th, 2010
This week The Couch Potato Report peels the anatomy of a plague and goes to the edge of darkness.
I hope that you are healthy and doing well this weekend as the very first release I have for you is all about a very contagious plague.
OUTBREAK ñ ANATOMY OF A PLAGUE is a National Film Board documentary that uses Montrealís 1885 smallpox epidemic to evoke a 21st century public health crisis.
OUTBREAK features characters trying to deal with a modern day pandemic and interviews with an epidemiologist; the head of Canadaís Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response; a public health reporter and many others.
OUTBREAK ñ ANATOMY OF A PLAGUE does present a scary scenario, and the film is interesting at times, but ultimately it isnít overly engaging.
I donít think the film was a waste of my time, but I donít recommend it either. If you are interested in what might happen in a situation like this, check it outÖotherwise, take care, wash your hands as often as possible, and good luck to us all!
Up next this morning is EDGE OF DARKNESS, an adaptation of the 1985 BBC television series of the same name. This movie version features Mel Gibson in front of the camera again for the first time in nearly a decade, following his directorial success with THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, and his arrest for driving under the influence.
In the film Mel plays a veteran Boston police detective who is heading out of his house one night with his daughter when she is shot and killed.
Since it is believed that he was the intended target, he begins working on the caseÖhowever, he soon finds out that he wasnít the intended victim after all.
It is good to see Mel back on screen, and EDGE OF DARKNESS is very good at times, however it ultimately fails because the filmmakers give away the movieís secrets instead of staying with Gibsonís characters and letting us figure it out as he does.
Instead we meet the evil head of the company his daughter was working for, some evil government agents and assassins and other evil people…who are obviously all responsible in one way or another for the womanís death.
Had they not given away the movieís secrets, this could have been an entertaining film.
As it is, EDGE OF DARKNESS isnít that great. I didnít dislike it, but I donít recommend it either.
No, EDGE OF DARKNESS isnít that great, and neither is LEGION.
LEGION is one of those films that looks and sounds like it might be cool, but it isnítÖhowever in the end, you may like it more than I didÖand if you watch it I sure hope you do because I didnít care for it at all!
LEGION takes place in an out-of-the-way diner in the middle of nowhereÖand wouldnít you know it, that diner becomes the unlikely battleground for the survival of the human race when God loses faith in humankind.
LEGION could have been a fun, check-your-brain-at-the-door action film, but it fails on almost every level and ultimately, even with the cinematic-fate-of-all-humankind at stake…I just didnít care.
Skip this one, it is a waste of time!!
No, LEGION didnít make me care about the fate of humankind it itís film, and LEAP YEAR didnít make me care about the love life of the usually very charming Amy Adams from ENCHANTED and JULIE & JULIA.
This movie has Amy starring as Anna, an insufferable woman whose four-year anniversary to her boyfriend passes without him proposing, so she decides to take matters into her own hands when she hears about an Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on Leap Day.
Yes, she follows her boyfriend to Dublin to propose to himÖbut ñ since this is a movie ñ she lands on the wrong side of Ireland and hires a down-on-his-luck, but very handsome bartender to help her reach her destination.
AndÖI wonder if sheíll realize that her boyfriend isnít the one sheís supposed to be with after all?!?!?
Now I love Amy Adams, truly adore her and her work, but this film is utterly predictable and is populated with the type of situations and people you only see in moviesÖnothing about this film is real in any way so if you see LEAP YEAR on the shelf, skip it, heck LEAP away from this one!!
Now…if you see a TIDAL WAVE on the shelf, grab this great disaster film!!
Of course, if you see a tidal wave in real life…run!!!
I have said it before, and I will say it again…I LOVE DISASTER FILMS!! From AIRPORT to THE TOWERING INFERNO, through INDEPENDENCE DAY and even 2012, I love them!!
TIDAL WAVE is from South Korea, and there are some engaging storylines, and more than a few laughs, but the real calling card for any Disaster film are the disasters, and TIDAL WAVE has some really great ones with very well done special effects and computer graphics.
Admittedly the film does have a few too many characters, and it takes a bit too long getting to the action, but once it does, this is good stuff!
TIDAL WAVE isnít a classic, but it is very, very entertaining!!
Also entertaining…very entertaining, is the new two DVD set featuring some of Hanna-Barberís SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS from the 80s, including Goldie & Action Jack, Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos, The Flintstone Kids, and Mister T!!
And then there is also The Biskitts, Dragonís Lair, and the reason I wanted to own this set, an episode of the Martin Short series The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley.
SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS is primarily for folks who grew up watching these shows as a kidÖand if that is you, enjoy!!!
I know I didÖANDÖit features an episode of the Martin Short series The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley!!!!
From SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS, let me now tell you about a film for grown-ups from France called A GIRL CUT IN TWO.
This one is about a young woman, who when we first meet her, has a future – she has a great job, and is full of self-confidence…that is until she meets two very different men…one single, one married, and after making the wrong choice of who to be with, she starts to lose it all.
Emotionally, she is a girl…cut in two.
I am a huge fan of the lead actress in this film – Ludivine Sagnier ñ who has appeared in other French films, such as 8 WOMEN and SWIMMING POOL, and she is very good in A GIRL CUT IN TWO. This is a very good film, one I really enjoyed.
In the past, director Francis Ford Coppola has made many, many movies that I really enjoyedÖmany, many!!
The Godfather I & II, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Outsiders, Dracula…these are all films made by Mr. Coppola in the past.
The past has been good to him, the present is not the same story. Since Dracula came out in 1992 he has given us the less than enjoyable Jack (1996), The Rainmaker (1997), Youth Without Youth (2007) and now TETRO (2009), a barely watchable story about a young man named Bennie who travels to Buenos Aires to find his long-lost older brother.
A brother who doesnít want to talk about the past, because this is a family that has secrets.
TETRO was primarily filmed in black & white and it is the textbook example of an art filmÖthis is the type of film that literary critics, film students and other directorís loveÖand since I am not any of those, I didnít care for it, or about it.
I was really, really happy when this one was over!!!
No matter what he does for the rest of his career, his early work will always make me think of Francis Ford Coppola as a master filmmakerÖjust as I think of William Shakespeare as a master writer and dramatist.
They are both legends!!
The latter legendís HAMLET is a play that is believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601. Set in Denmark, the story recounts how Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on his uncle Claudius for murdering Hamlet’s father, the previous King, and then succeeding to the throne and marrying Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother.
HAMLET has been staged and filmed thousands of times over the years, and this latest one from The Royal Shakespeare Company starred David Tennant, the Doctor from Doctor Who and Patrick Stewart from Star Trek and I LOVED IT!!
It is minimalist and modern, and very…very entertaining. This is the version I will watch again and again, along with Kenneth Branaghís all-star production of it.
There is nothing rotten in the state of Denmark, as far as this release is concerned.
Death is a major plot point in HAMLET, and in the comic books and graphic novels based on Frank Millerís ELEKTRA…an international assassin whose weapon of choice is a pair of Sai.
Back in 2005 the character of Elektra was given her own movie after she was featured in the DAREDEVIL film. Jennifer Garner from ALIAS played her in both films, and both failed to connect with audiences…although I liked them.
And now, the Directorís Cut of ELEKTRA has debuted on Blu-ray, with a wealth of Special Features, and while the film still isnít going to connect with a mass audienceÖif you liked it when it came out, this is how you should now watch it as it sounds and looks amazing!
ELEKTRA is brand new on Blu-ray this week, along with a few other older films, including the made-in-and-around Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax film K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER, directed by Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow, who also gave us THE HURT LOCKER.
Admittedly, K-19 isnít very good, so had Bigelow not won the Oscar, this movie might not be coming out in Blu-ray just yet, but she did…so here is a clip.
K-19 stars Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson and it is inspired by the true story of a nuclear missile submarine that is the pride of the Soviet Navy.
When the sub malfunctions on its maiden voyage, the crew must race to save the ship and prevent a nuclear disaster.
K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER isnít the worst submarine movie ever made, and it is far from being the best…it sits in about in the middle, however I donít recommend it as it is boring. If you are the worldís biggest submarine movie fan, or want to see all of Kathryn Bigelowís older films ñ now that she is an Academy Award winner ñ then you might want to dive into this one.
Otherwise, let it sink.
Finally this week, THE BLU-RAY BEACON shines on two films that have come out in a new Box Set on Blu-ray because a remake is due in theatres in June starring Jackie Chan…however, no matter how much I love Mr. Chan, Pat Morita will always be my Mr. Miyagi and Ralph Macchio will always be THE KARATE KID.
THE KARATE KID came out in 1984 and PART II in 1986, and I had so much fun watching them again on Blu-ray this week, I felt like a kid againÖAND the Blu-ray Special Features even allowed me to feel like I was watching the movie with The Karate Kid himself!!!
For the uninitiated, these films are about a handyman and martial arts master who teaches a bullied boy karate and shows him that there is more to the martial art than fighting.
I love them!!
THE KARATE KID I & II BOXED SET, K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER, ELEKTRA, HAMLET, TETRO, A GIRL CUT IN TWO, TIDAL WAVE, LEAP YEAR, LEGION and EDGE OF DARKNESS are all available now on Blu-ray and DVD.
SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS 80s and OUTBREAK ñ ANATOMY OF A PLAGUE is available only on DVD.
Coming up in two weeks on the next Couch Potato Report, Clint Eastwoodís INVICTUS, the all-star film VALENTINEíS DAY, DR. HORRIBLEíS SING-ALONG BLOG, THE ROAD, DR. ZHIVAGO, EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES, and Woody Harrelsonís Academy Award nominated performance in THE MESSENGER
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in fourteen days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – May 15th, 2010