Sunday, July 17, 2011

Adventure Movies

Leon: Brutal but charming Luc Besson tragicomic thriller about an assassin who finds himself, through a strange chain of events, the custodian of a twelve-year-old girl out for revenge on her parents' killers. The whole story is strangely credible, with Natalie Portman having IMO thus far never bettered her performance as the girl in question.

Les Aventures D'Adele Blanc-Sec: Besson in considerably more playful mode, a slightly silly steampunk comedy about an Edwardian adventuress on a quest to find and revive the Egyptian mummy who she believes can save her sister's life, complicated by the intervention of the police, a pterodactyl and Rameses III. Gets a bit annoyingly slapstick at times, but it is saved by a rather biting sense of humour and the fact that the heroine is rather obviously a sociopath.

The Hidden Fortress: Kurosawa/Mifune classic, featuring a bearded general's attempt to get a rebel warrior princess to safety in enemy territory, as witnessed by two foot soldiers (George Lucas, in the intro to this DVD, tries very hard to downplay how influential all this was on the Star Wars franchise). While Mifune is great as the general, the plot is gripping, and the themes touching on the meaning of loyalty and honour, the brilliant touch really lies with the foot soldiers; cowardly, venal, greedy, stupid, cunning, loyal and affectionate by turns, and always utterly believable.

Life Force: Faintly misguided mid-eighties attempt to revive the British horror-SF genre, ripping off Quatermass, Blake's 7: Killer, various episodes of Doctor Who and arguably The Satanic Rites of Dracula by turns. Which should have been a lot better, but the problem is that it's a) humourless and b) pointless (as in, it's not actually about anything bar looking cool). Still, there's some very good animatronics.

Black Sheep: Not the New Zealand horror(bad?)flick, but a low-budget Russian drama about a group of criminals who escape during WWII and find themselves in a tiny peasant village, fighting off the German army on the one side and the Russian army on the other. With a setup like that it could have been a pointed satire, a tragic drama and/or a witty black comedy, but unfortunately it's just a bit unengaging.

Movie count for 2011: 88, and still haven't got onto the Tati boxset yet.