Friday, April 16, 2010

Bachelor Movie Marathon, Part I

A couple weeks ago my wife and kids spent some time with my family in California, leaving me to live the bachelor's life for a week and a half. I spent most of my free time watching movies that my wife would never want to see (I mentioned some of these movies in my last post). Here are the movies I watched on my family's first day gone:

The Last Dragon (1985)
Blaxploitation meets the Karate Kid. A friend of mine, who knows how much I like cheesy movies, recommended this one to me. Leroy Green (played by an actor talented in martial arts but weak in acting) yearns to obtain the final level of martial arts mastery; i.e., to achieve the "Last Dragon". Although Leroy appears to be learning a Japanese martial art, he dresses as a Chinese peasant. Along the way, he must face the evil Sho'nuff (who has proclaimed himself to be "the Master") and his gang of martial arts thugs as well as Eddie Arkadian, a wealthy arcade magnate. Sho'nuff is silly looking, but big enough and skilled enough to be intimidating. Arkadian, on the other hand, is pretty much the typical rich villain seen in most '80s movies. The movie's tone is all over the place, and I think most of the laughs are unintentional, but overall I was entertained.

The Fly (1958)
Definitely one of the best 1950s sci-fi horror movies and one I've wanted to see for a long time. Andre Delambre is a brilliant scientist whose teleportation device will revolutionize the world. Unfortunately his machine still has a few bugs in it and Andre has a bad habit of using his own pets and even himself as experimental subjects. Too bad he didn't see that fly come into the machine with him. That'll teach him to say things like "I'm just so happy to be alive" in a 1950s sci-fi movie.

Varan: The Unbelievable (1962)
Varan is one of Toho's lesser known monsters. The movie borrows liberally from Toho's more successful Gojira/Godzilla King of the Monsters; both open with natives believing the monster to be one of their gods, both feature a wise paleontologist in a major role, the Japanese Defense Force (JDF) is largely ineffective against either monster, and it finally takes a fictional superweapon to finish the monster off. Varan's roar is even a slight modification of Godzilla's. As is typically expected for a copy, Varan is nowhere near as effective as Godzilla. Not only have we seen it all before, but we've seen it done better. Unlike in Godzilla, Mothra, or Rodan, Varan's titular monster never gets to destroy a major city. Instead the climax sees the JDF battling Varan at more budget-friendly locations such as the beach and at an airport. The only real reason to watch Varan (that is, if you're only a passive kaiju viewer rather than a completist such as myself) is because the monster costume is pretty cool.

Hellboy (2004)
This is the only movie I watched that day that I had already seen. I needed a refresher since I intended to watch Hellboy II the next day. Near the end of World War II, an infant demon is brought into our reality by the Nazis in a last ditch effort to turn the tide of the war. The Nazis are defeated by American commandos and the demon, nicknamed Hellboy, is raised by a kindly professor specializing in the supernatural. Now Hellboy works for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, protecting humanity from "things that go bump in the night". However, the Nazi's expert on the supernatural (Rasputin himself), is bound and determined to force Hellboy to fulfill his original purpose as the being that initiates the Apocalypse. Part of his plan involves the Beast of Resurrection; a hideous flesh eating monster that, upon being killed, spawns two more creatures. The plot is imaginative, the characters are interesting, and the creature design is great. And the moral of the story (that you are what you choose to be) is one that deserves repeating.

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