Monday, April 18, 2016

7 Days in May | Deadpool, Sinbad, and Sherlock Jr.

Deadpool (2016)

The trailers and other marketing for Deadpool didn't make me laugh at all, so I had decided not to see the movie. But positive reviews from friends and critics made me reconsider and with little else going on at the theater that I wanted to see, I checked it out.

And it's not too bad. I was surprised at how much I cared about the character even while I found him and his girlfriend super annoying. Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead are great foils whom I enjoyed whenever they showed up, and it was also great to see Gina Carano and TJ Miller. The movie has a cool look to it, too, and I enjoyed the way it used music.

My biggest problem with the movie is that it's just not my humor. I chuckled a couple of times and neither were at actual jokes. They were just nice character moments that I thought were amusing. The jokes were simply more of what the trailer suggested: references to sex, poop, and self-referential stuff like other X-Men movies, Green Lantern, and Ryan Reynolds in general. Basically, it's Family Guy humor. So while I had a pretty good time watching Deadpool, it ultimately didn't feel like it was for me.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)

I remember liking this a lot when it came out, but the animation doesn't hold up by today's standards. Especially the integration of the CGI elements with the mostly hand-drawn cartooning. But for the most part it gets Sinbad right and I think that's what I originally responded to. He's a swashbuckling rogue with a diverse crew who faces various monsters in the pursuit of treasure.

Unfortunately, the treasure is a vaguely powerful object called the Book of Peace, with no explanation for what it does or why it exists in the first place. And the movie pulls Sinbad out of his Middle Eastern setting to plop him into Europe, which is a shame. Other than that though, it's enough in the spirit of the live-action, Harryhausen versions that I have a good time watching it, even if it doesn't have all the charm of those.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)

This is one of a handful of silent movies that I'm totally comfortable showing to people who don't know if they'll like the format. Thanks to Victor Hugo, it's a strong story, but the film does great by it. It balances the large cast of characters well, it's funny, it's touching. And of course Lon Chaney's makeup and physical shenanigans are fantastic spectacles.

Three Ages (1923)

One of the first full-length features that Buster Keaton did. There's a racist gag that bothered me, but for the most part Three Ages is great. It explores essentially the same love story in three different time periods, with the same actors playing the same roles in each era.

What it calls the Stone Age could more accurately be described as the Flintstone Era, since Keaton rides a dinosaur and his rival in love owns a mastodon, but that's all for the better. The other two ages are Ancient Rome (featuring a fantastic chariot race and an awesome scene between Keaton and a lion) and the Modern Age. Great gags, great stunts, and charming plots.

The Balloonatic (1923)

A short Keaton film that's not so much about a hot-air balloon as just general outdoorsiness. Some good stuff, but not one of Keaton's best.

The Love Nest (1923)

I didn't realize until partway through that I've seen this short film before. I don't remember where - TV probably - but it's probably one of the first Buster Keaton films I ever saw. And it's a good one with Keaton as I most like him, bumbling into success on a whaling ship under a horrible captain.

Our Hospitality (1923)

A feature-length Keaton film that's super strong from beginning to end. The plot, the stunts, the gags, the characters... all of it. This is more of how I like him: as an unflappable, slightly clueless good guy who knows when to be heroic and when to run away.

The Ten Commandments (1923)

I've been curious about the original Ten Commandments for a long time. The Charlton Heston version was ubiquitous in my childhood and I've always wanted to see where it came from.

The Exodus stuff is impressively spectacular, but it's ultimately just a long prologue to the real story about a pair of brothers with differing views on religion. Sadly, this part is crazy didactic and obvious, with the characters primarily existing to demonstrate the relevance of the Ten Commandments to modern life. It's extremely well acted though and it's nice to see that the spectacle didn't end with the Biblical prologue. The modern segment also has massive crowd scenes and dramatic visual effects.

So it's great from a technical perspective, it's just that the movie's thoughts about religion are rather shallow, focusing on following rules instead of being a moral person. And that's a shame since communicating those thoughts are the entire reason the film exists.

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron

I've re-read this several times (and even blogged about it) and have just done it again in an attempt to catch up to the rest of the series. Barron (a pen-name for Francine Mathews) writes compelling, spooky mysteries in the humor-filled voice of Jane Austen. She includes great details to bring the historical period to life and a fantastic cast of supporting characters who follow Jane from book to book.

This one drags a little for me in the middle, but I think that's because I'm so familiar with it that I'm eager to get to the final revelations at the end. It certainly didn't feel slow the first time I read it.

Polly and the Pirates, Volume 1 by Ted Naifeh

I'm a big fan of Ted Naifeh anyway, but Polly and the Pirates is especially my cup of tea. It's the story of a proper, young girl who's horrified to learn that she's the daughter of an infamous Pirate Queen. Various groups want to use her to find the Queen's hidden treasure and adventure ensues. Naifeh's created a world that's just enough related to our own to feel comfortable, but also fantastically different.

Polly and the Pirates, Volume 2: Mystery of the Dragonfish by Ted Naifeh and Robbi Rodriguez

The sequel to the first Polly and the Pirates adventure is also fun. Robbi Rodriguez' drawing style is different from Naifeh's, but it's appropriate and beautiful. I wish there'd been more volumes, because it's a fun world and these are great characters.


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Sounds like we're on the same page on the Deadpool movie.

I remember seeing this Sinbad movie in the theater... and that's all I remember about it.
I'm sure that when they eventually reboot Sinbad and incorporate him into the Arabian Nights cinematic universe that this one will get some attention, but until then I'd much rather catch up on the old Harryhausen features because I feel thats an experience that I missed growing up. (At least the way Calvin Heighton talks about those Sinbad movies makes me feel I missed something big).

Michael May said...

Yeah, the Harryhausen ones are pretty great. I definitely recommend watching those.


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