Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Black Stallion (1979)

IMDb plot summary: While traveling with his father, young Alec becomes fascinated by a mysterious Arabian stallion who is brought on board and stabled in the ship he is sailing on. When it tragically sinks both he and the horse survive only to be stranded on a desert island. He befriends it, so when finally rescued, both return to his home where they soon meet Henry Dailey, a once-successful trainer. Together they begin training the stallion to race against the fastest horses in the world.
Directed by Carroll Ballard. Starring Kelly Reno, Mickey Rooney, Teri Garr, and Clarence Muse.

While I have to give this movie some credit for its creative choice to seriously limit the dialogue and make an almost-silent movie, horse movies are never going to rank highly on my chart.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Black Stallion < Snakes on a Plane
The Black Stallion > To Have and Have Not
The Black Stallion < The Day of the Triffids
The Black Stallion > Arlington Road
The Black Stallion > Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Black Stallion < Blackadder Back & Forth
The Black Stallion < The Secret War of Harry Frigg
The Black Stallion > Spaceballs
The Black Stallion < Sullivan's Travels
The Black Stallion > Stardust Memories
The Black Stallion < Give My Regards to Broad Street

Final spot: #1730 out of 2657.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

IMDb plot summary: The Borg travel back in time intent on preventing Earth's first contact with an alien species. Captain Picard and his crew pursue them to ensure that Zefram Cochrane makes his maiden flight reaching warp speed.
Directed by Jonathan Frakes. Starring Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, and LeVar Burton.

I had a good time with this. When it comes to Star Trek I'm more a TOS fan than TNG (I can't even say I've seen all TNG episodes) so I went in with a little less character buy-in than would be ideal, but this was a fun saga. None of the individual storylines wowed me, but all together they combined to make an entertaining movie. It's difficult to write this review without simply using the word "fun" all the time, because a stronger adjective oversells my experience and a weaker adjective doesn't do it justice. It was... simply fun. No more, no less.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Star Trek: First Contact > Snakes on a Plane
Star Trek: First Contact < Zootopia
Star Trek: First Contact < A Matter of Life and Death
Star Trek: First Contact > Quills
Star Trek: First Contact > Let the Right One In
Star Trek: First Contact > Dan in Real Life
Star Trek: First Contact < Flight of the Navigator
Star Trek: First Contact > Finding Dory
Star Trek: First Contact < The Stepford Wives (1975)
Star Trek: First Contact > Hamlet (1990)
Star Trek: First Contact > Logan's Run

Final spot: #1022 out of 2656.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars (2010)

IMDb plot summary: Young spy Harriet Welsch crosses paths with popular student Marion Hawthorne as the two girls vie to become the official blogger of their high school class.
Directed by Ron Oliver. Starring Jennifer Stone, Kristin Booth, Wesley Morgan, and Doug Murray.

I ... don't really know why this exists. I'm not a mega fan of the original but it's a much better version of this story. This adaptation adds nothing to the characters or themes. Harriet the Spy does *not* need to be updated to include weirdly secret-not-secret blogs and Disney channel musical star parodies. Nor does the story really work when you age your character up to like 15 but still make her act like she's 11. All the "modernized" changes don't really work and shove out any room the movie had for actual character development. It's just a sloppy modern remake with an incredibly awkward ending, bad acting, and a juvenile plot. I guess the good news is I can't take it seriously enough to *really* hate it.

0.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < Snakes on a Plane
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < The Hiding Place
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < Big Business
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars > Super Troopers
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars > Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < Basic Instinct
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < The Painted Veil
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars > VeggieTales: An Easter Carol
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < Mission to Mars
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars < Son of Flubber
Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars > Revenge of the Sith
Final spot: #2394 out of 2655.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

IMDb plot summary: High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
Directed by Alfonzo Gomez-Rejon. Starring Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, and Nick Offerman.

The inevitable comparison here is to The Fault in Our Stars (which I liked quite a bit). Me and Earl goes for the comedy much more often and it almost always works for me. While both movies have characters that can easily fall into the pretentious "old soul" category (they like old foreign movies! And poetry! And jazz!), this movie handles it better and I was less aware of its tropey-ness. It's also shot creatively, in a way that made me sit up and pay attention.

However, there's one glaring flaw in this movie, and that is how little personality Rachel gets throughout. She doesn't get a name in the title and basically all we know about her throughout the movie is that she a) has cancer, b) doesn't like everybody talking to her about it -- but who would? -- and c) makes cool little book sculptures, though we don't find that out until the very end of the movie. Even Rachel's mother has a more distinct character arc. TFiOS may have been full of Mary Sueish characters, but at least they had distinct, creative personalities. Here, it's hard to see Rachel as anything more than a plot device for the central character himself. Fortunately, I *like* that central character and I hink he's fleshed out beautifully, but it definitely rubs me the wrong way to see the titular "dying girl" used the way she is. The more I think about it, the more it bothers me, and the more it overshadows my more positive feelings about the rest of the film.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > Snakes on a Plane
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl < Zootopia
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > A Matter of Life and Death
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > Draft Day (why is this so high on my chart?)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > Porco Rosso
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl < The Artist
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > Three Colors: White
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl < Mean Girls
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl < Star Trek (2009)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl > Lethal Weapon
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl < Idiocracy

Final spot: #722 out of 2654.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Gremlins (1984)

IMDb plot summary: A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
Directed by Joe Dante. Starring Hoyt Axton, Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, and Corey Feldman.

This movie is very weird. It's a bizarre blend of comedy, horror, fantasy, holiday movie, and animal adventure, and somehow it all kind of works. There are genuine laughs and genuine scares and a genuinely cute creature. I would have liked to see a little bit more development of the human characters -- that's handled pretty halfheartedly -- but there's a lot to like about this.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Gremlins > Ghost
Gremlins > The Englishman Who Went up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain
Gremlins < I've Loved You So Long
Gremlins < Nativity!
Gremlins > The Dictator
Gremlins > Hoodwinked!
Gremlins < Robot and Frank
Gremlins < Father of the Bride (1991)
Gremlins > Match Point
Gremlins < Hairspray Live!

Final spot: #532 out of 2653.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

IMDb plot summary: A family is haunted by the tragedies of deaths within the family.
Directed by Jee-woon Kim. Starring Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Soo-jung Lim, and Geun-young Moon.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
A Tale of Two Sisters > Ghost
A Tale of Two Sisters < Kolya
A Tale of Two Sisters < Charlie St. Cloud
A Tale of Two Sisters > Three Amigos
A Tale of Two Sisters < Extraordinary Measures
A Tale of Two Sisters < The Ring
A Tale of Two Sisters > Nine Lives
A Tale of Two Sisters > Ghost World
A Tale of Two Sisters < Cat's Eye
A Tale of Two Sisters > Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
A Tale of Two Sisters < Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Final spot: #1125 out of 2652.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Kanal (1957)

IMDb plot summary: In 1944, during the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis, Polish Lieutenant Zadra and his resistance fighters use Warsaw's sewer system to escape the German encirclement.
Directed by Andrzej Wajda. Starring Teresa Izewska, Tadeusz Janczar, Wienczyslaw Glinski, and Tadeusz Gwiazdowski.

Holy moley, this was depressing. But good. I think. It's definitely a movie that will stick with me.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Kanal > Alice (1990)
Kanal < Kolya
Kanal > Premium Rush
Kanal > Two Weeks Notice
Kanal > Radio Days
Kanal > Sleeping Beauty
Kanal > A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit
Kanal < Chronicle
Kanal > The Reader
Kanal > Atonement
Kanal > The Abyss

Final spot: #674 out of 2651.