Saturday, January 05, 2013

Movies! I Saw Some Movies!

So 2012 turned out to be a pretty good year for movies.  I'm still catching up on screeners and screenings, but any year that coughs up LOOPER (superior science fiction) and DJANGO UNCHAINED (crazy Western) gets a big thumbs up.

DJANGO likely needs no introduction, it's Quentin Tarantino's latest and this time he "does" spaghetti Westerns like he did World War 2 movies in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. From the opening sequence, with a new but already classic Django theme warbling in the b.g., I was hooked.  Yes, it's got some insane violence, including a wildly over the top gun-fight battle that makes the Wild Bunch look like an episode of Gunsmoke.  But the bad guys are bad and Django is good and that's what Westerns are all about.  DJANGO is funny, clever, extremely well acted and worth a trip to the theater.

LOOPER is a time travel thriller, a genre for which I have a rather obvious affinity.  Conceptually, I was intrigued that LOOPER demanded audiences accept not one, but two rather major "gimmes" re: the future world depicted.  One, that there's time travel (with the usual panoply of vague rules) and two, there's also been an outbreak of telekinesis among 10% of the population.  Usually one of these is enough... but they pull it off in grand style here.

Yes, one could argue that the criminal organization using time travel could have been a tad more creative.  In the film, they send people they don't like 30 years back in time to be executed by assassins and that's basically "it." But I don't care. A movie this creative and thought-provoking gets a big thumbs up from yours truly.


CHERNOBYL DIARIES is NOT one of the movies that made 2012 great, but I finally caught up with it because I'm fascinated with nuclear power/weapons/Chernobyl and "etc."  First off, a disclaimer about the title -- there's no diary! The movie starts with some found footage-ish material but (thankfully) drops that conceit fairly quickly and becomes a straight horror movie.  A gaggle of American tourists decide to take an "extreme tourism" trip to the empty town of Pripyat, emptied and left vacant after the nearby Chernobyl reactor exploded. But the tour van breaks down and our hapless tourists are stuck in Pripyat.  Which, wouldn't you know, has been overrun with... well, that gets into spoilers.  Avert your eyes if you want the mysteries of Chernobyl Diaries to remain exactly that...

Anyhow, the area is overrun by radioactive mutants, who, like all movie radioactive mutants, are not tragically afflicted folks consigned to hospital beds, but are in fact powerful, ruthless cannibalistic (I think) killers.  Somewhat social, since mobs of them attack newcomers, but otherwise mean little buggers.  Why the radiation hasn't reduced them to blind, stumbling wrecks like our "heroes" is left unexplained.  Oh well. There is a fascinating movie to be made from the Chernobyl debacle, but until they make it this oddball horror offshoot is resolutely "okay."  Like a lot of these movies, I get sucked in by the atmosphere and creepy-crawly scares, but when monsters start eating everyone I start checking out.



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