Monday, July 30, 2007
Thirsting for Fantasy
Hey, it's my 50th Post! Cue the horns! Light the fuses! Pour the wine! O.K., you can calm back down. I know I'm not writing much these days. Glad to be back.
During the summer months, don't you long for that awesome movie that everyone can enjoy AND respect? So rare. Among the movie audience there are those that want to be entertained and there are those that want to be challenged and enriched by films. And of course, there's those that want both.
Some people like movies that reflect real life. Some people like movies that cause them to ponder or see life in a new way. Some people like good acting. Some people like good writing.
I like these things too. However, there is a strong part of me that doesn't care about good acting, writing, or its significance to life. That part of me LOVES Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Now, I know you're saying - Funkyman, the best fantasy and science fiction are well-written stories that say something profound about life and/or humanity. True, true. But here's the real question:
What about Voltron? There is nothing really deep about this story except the idea of teamwork, which after one episode is overplayed. Did we love Voltron because it was deep? No, we loved Voltron because gigantic robot tigers are cool. Five gigantic robot tigers that transform into one large robot is even cooler. An electric sword that forms out of thin air just by closing your hands together is the coolest. We loved Voltron because deep down inside, ignoring the horrible writing and the horrible acting, we appreciate COOLNESS. We can forgive anything if it's cool. To quote Gladiator - "Are you not entertained?"
So here's my list of the sci-fi/fantasy movies that weren't so great, but so cool we forgave them.
1. Terminator 2 - Horrible story and worse writing ("Now I know why humans cry" ARRRRGGGHHHH!). BUT OH SO COOL. We never get tired of the liquid metal effect.
2. Transformers - Michael Bay's latest Frankenstein monster. But watch that movie and tell me you don't get goosebumps when you see those CGI cars/planes transform. AWESOME!
3. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace - Jar-Jar Binks was a mistake. 90% CGI was a mistake. But admit it. After 20 years of waiting, seeing those words "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" made you feel like a little kid. You were grinning ear to ear. Darth Maul was awesome and the lightsaber fight at the end is one of the best ever.
4. Flash Gordon - Nothing in this movie is cool visually, but the Queen soundtrack saved this piece from total annihilation. We still know the music to the theme, and LOVE it. FLASH! AH-AHHHH!
5. Superman Returns - Yes, same as Star Wars. We're glad to have him back, but it was kind of anti-climatic. But, that plane crash scene was worth the ticket price, and I can watch Superman get shot in the eye a hundred times. SO COOL!
6. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Calm down. Yes this movie was cool, but come on. How many re-viewings of this are you doing? That's what I thought. Must be a reason.
7. Mortal Kombat - Corny idea, excellent execution. Great music, good fighting, and the special effects were tasteful. Grab some popcorn and enjoy!
8. The Neverending Story - If you saw this movie as a kid and didn't like it, there's something wrong with you. Now as an adult, things like the Rock Eater do seem painfully silly. But Falcor the flying dog - gotta love it.
9. Westworld - At the time, a themepark with a renegade, crazy cowboy robot that looked like Yul Brynner was cool. Upon second watching, it's pretty painful. Somebody please remake this awesome idea of a movie.
10. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Everyone belittles Kevin Costner's lack of an English accent, but this movie was a huge hit and you know you liked it. How could you resist Alan Rickman's hilarious Sherriff of Nottigham and Morgan Freeman as the token multi-cultural element? "If you would be free men - FIGHT!" It wasn't perfect, but Robin Hood has yet to have such an epic treatment. Hello - Hollywood?
Now for ten films that I thought got it right on the money:
1. The Princess Bride - Classic story. Awesome humor. Great fight choreography. Watch it more than once? As you wish.
2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - Regarded by everyone as the quintessential Star Trek experience. Kirk vs. Khan takes us through mind games, clever escapes, great spaceship battles, and call it bad acting or not, but Ricardo Montalban will be remembered for this way more than Fantasy Island. KHHAAANNN!!! KHHAAAANNN!!!
3. Highlander - One of my favorite movies of all times. Part fantasy, part sci-fi, part swashbuckler, and again, an amazing score by Queen. "THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!" Indeed. Did you see the sequels? Ugh.
4. Blade - Wesley Snipes defining bad-ass role. Perfect mix of Martial Arts, Horror, and the Supernatural. The fight scenes are amazing and this whole movie just leaks coolness.
5. The Chronicles of Narnia - If you've read the book, you already know how faithful and well done this film adaptation was. You gotta love Narnia. "We love that Chronic - what? - cles of Narnia!" If you don't know this reference, click here.
6. The Matrix - What can you say? When you're the best, you're the best. Hands down the best sci-fi movie in a long time. That's saying a lot for a Keanu Reeves movie. However, I can't remember the last time I smiled ear-to-ear watching a movie and feeling like a little kid. (Oh wait, Phantom Menace, right.) Perfect marriage of martial arts, CGI, and yes, acting.
7. Blade Runner: The Director's Cut - Basically the same as the original but without the voice over by Harrison Ford. It is a revelation. Pure, unadulterated genius. Ridley Scott can die a proud man. Rutger Hauer is the ultimate villain and Harrison Ford is the ultimate hero. Both of them question our own humanity and what that means.
8. Back to the Future - Yeah, that's right. One of the greatest adventures of all time. Michael J. Fox's ultimate everyman role as he teaches his family how to empower themselves. Time travel, a cool car, and amazing comedy. Spielberg (and Zemeckis) has done it again.
9. Serenity - You're saying "Sereni-who?" Go rent this movie and marvel at how good sci-fi is still being made post-Matrix. This is a movie adaptation of a failed TV show - Firefly. Great actors, smart story, great action - great sci-fi.
10. Planet of the Apes - Even though this is oldest film on the list, it still ranks as one of the most significant and poignant films, much less sci-fi, of all time. Great social commentary on religion, race, politics, and war. And, not to mention, the coolest surprise ending to a movie of all time. (Sorry Sixth Sense).
Enough for tonight. I'll try to write again soon!
P.S. - Want my opinion on Pirates of the Carribean? This series is detestable and not even cool. I want my life back. Other than that, it's great.