There's a lot more end of the world in this batch, but on reviewing further I think the dominant theme was the urge to revisit some films I've seen when I was much younger. Dangerous, I know, right? A lot of movies do not age well.
PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE: * * *
Not as good as I remember.
ICE STATION ZEBRA: * * * *
More Cold War fun. I saw a little of this one as a kid, presumably on TV. You want an image that sticks in a six year old's brain? Try a submarine conning tower busting up through ice and then dudes with guns emerging from it.
FLASH GORDON: * * * *
The nostalgic bug bit deep, suddenly. Five minutes in, I was regretting it. Aw, man, what was I thinking? Two stars. Then it gets going and the various fun bits that I'd mostly forgotten start popping up and I started thinking, aw, it's not so bad. Sure, three stars. And then, finally, just the whole mad spectacle of the thing came crashing down on me - especially the costumes, oh my god how had I forgotten that this movie had literally hundreds of the most vivid and amazing costumes in cinema history? Even the lowliest court lackeys who appear in only one scene have outfits that would put every Vegas showgirl to shame. Anyway, even worse *and* even better than I remember.
THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER: * * * *
Every bit as great as I remember. Musical numbers not quite as reliably great as the first film and not quite as many cameo gems, but totally holds up.
RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE: * * *
A step back from the previous one but, still, in for a penny in for a pound. Make another one, I'll watch it, too. Would I like these movies more if I'd played the video games and knew all these characters from hundreds of hours of gameplay?
TERMINATOR: SALVATION: * * * *
I may be the only person I know who didn't hate this film. Sure, the entire thing is predicated on a couple of giant plot holes, but it pretty much delivered the war against the machines that I've wanted to see since I saw the first film as a teenager. Everything else is of second-order importance. The entire franchise has been rife with continuity and causality idiocy ever since the moment they did a sequel and established that, oh yeah, SkyNet can time travel more than once. I like to think that these are not plot holes, but a clear moral: SkyNet was made smart enough to decide humanity should be destroyed, and smart enough to execute a strategic approach, but not smart enough to really close the deal where the details count.
TANGLED: * * * *
Very DreamWorks-y, for a Disney film. Liana, of course, loves it.
HARDWARE: * *
Every bit as bad as I remember.
SIX-STRING SAMURAI: * * * *
Wow, yeah, this was pretty much exactly the film I'd heard described and couldn't quite imagine actually being made. I really should have gotten around to it a long time ago - it's cited as (and clearly was) the main influence on my favorite minimalist role-playing game, octaNe. Anyway, I sort of feel like Frank Miller's RONIN doesn't need to be made after all now.
ENCHANTED: * * *
Another Liana request. This film has a really appealing premise, which it carries through more or less exactly as you'd expect. The big musical number set-piece is terrific.
For consideration: next batch will be all over the map, I think