Monday, April 26, 2010

Bachelor Movie Marathon, Part IV

Just this and one more post should cover all the movies I saw while my family was in California. In addition to the movies covered in Part I and Part II, I saw two more non-MST3K movies:

Battlefield Earth (2000)
I covered this film in an earlier post, but I thought I'd mention it again. In light of movies like The Final Sacrifice and The Blood Waters of Dr. Z, you can see why this one isn't really that bad. I'd been expecting an utter disaster based on what others had said about this movie. It turns out that I've watched (and enjoyed) much worse than this. Really, the worst thing I can say about Battlefield Earth is that it screwed up too many things to be a good movie but didn't screw up enough to be a so-bad-it's-good movie. It actually had some fairly well-done scenes, the most effective of which being the capture of the hero, Johnny. At this point in the movie the aliens are an unknown and ominous menace. Johnny is chased through the ruins of a mall by an enormous shadow firing a weapon at him (the slow motion ruins the scene just a little here). After being stunned, Johnny wakes up to find himself in a cage suspended under an immensely loud gunship flying over the ruins of Denver. Unfortunately, we are soon introduced to the Psychlos and learn that they're essentially Star Trek's Ferengi with a Klingon physique.

As for Battlefield Earth being Scientologist propaganda as some opponents of that church have claimed, I'm just not seeing it. The story resembles that of Independence Day more than it resembles any unique teaching of Scientology. And although L. Ron Hubbard's distrust of psychologists is well-known, and even though it's probable that the name "Psychlos" is not coincidental, I didn't really notice the Psychlos doing anything that would make any rational person believe that the movie was anti-psychology.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
A roommate of mine at BYU once told me that I should see this movie. At the time, although I enjoyed MST3K, I didn't really watch off-kilter or non-mainstream movies for their own merits. I simply enjoyed Joel/Mike and the 'Bots' jokes at the film's expense. In other words, I probably would not have liked Baron Munchausen. Years later, however, I found it very entertaining.

The movie opens with a French-held town being bombarded by the Turks. Even under siege the show must go on, so the troupe of traveling actors that recently came to town puts on its production of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The audience is greatly entertained by the exploits of the Baron (which are on par with America's Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan legends) until the real Baron shows up and claims that all his stories are true. The Baron promises to gather his equally legendary companions to break the Turks' siege and sets off in a hot air balloon. The daughter of the acting troupe's owner stows away and soon discovers that the Baron's stories were accurate, although his companions appear to be too old or tired to be of much help.

The movie is generally whimsical but with occasional moments that are outright surreal (I'm still trying to figure out the ending). More than once the Angel of Death shows up to darken the mood. The only scene that just didn't work for me showcased Robin Williams, who spends most of his time on screen as the disembodied floating head of the King of the Moon. Come to think of it, I don't think Robin Williams is all that funny, especially when he's doing silly accents. Other than that, assuming you can tolerate its oddities, it's a fun movie.

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