The Lord of the Rings

The biggest memory I have around this film is when I was younger and we were planning on watching it, a friend was tasked with renting it, but accidentally got a wrestling tape called The Lords of the Ring instead (maybe he had just called to reserve it, without seeing the box). I’ve always had mixed feelings for this film. I do find it to be quite interesting and fascinating, and it is a well done retelling (albeit unfortunately cut short) of the Lord of the Rings saga — and I was quite surprised to see how Jackson’s film does in fact follow so many of the same beats as this earlier film. Where I have mixed feelings is with the aesthetics. The character designs are great, but I’m not a huge fan of rotoscoping when it comes to animation — it gives everything too much of a jerky motion, since it maps too closely to realistic movement — and so would have much preferred a more traditional animation style. But what I dislike the most is that they in fact eschew animation a lot of times (maybe for budget reasons) and so you occasionally get real actors with a slight color overlay — often suddenly and with no transition — and that’s something I don’t like. Where it does slightly work is with the orcs, since it makes them look so creepy (but I would still have preferred to have them properly animated). Still an interesting film to revisit though.

Grease

Grease is Grease. It’s still fun, it still has a fantastic soundtrack, it’s still cheesy and corny, and it still has its charm and a great cast. Grease is the word. Grease lightning! 

Animal House

To be honest, this was much funnier than I was expecting — although it probably didn’t hurt that I was drinking wine while watching it. Sure, it’s considered a classic (mostly because of Belushi’s presence), but I wasn’t expecting it to have aged well, and in a lot of ways it hasn’t (rampant sexism, etc.) But if you look at it as a product of the time, there are a lot of laughs to be had, and it’s fun seeing so many recognizable actors in one of their earliest roles. And yes, Belushi is fantastic, as crass and disgusting and weird as you remember him being.

Jaws 2

In one of my previous marathons I watched Jaws: The Revenge, the fourth entry in the series, and that was quite awful. This second one is definitely better, and at least also see Roy Scheider still there, but that said, as expected, it takes a bit too long to get to the fun stuff (i.e. the shark attacking people). When it does though, it’s fun, and even the way they defeat Jaws is pretty funny. Can’t say I particularly liked it, but it was still interesting to watch as a snapshot of that era’s blockbuster film/sequel.

Death on the Nile

I have a gift, and that gift is that I tend to forget what happens in a film after watching it (OK, maybe it’s not a gift), which means that when I re-watch murder mysteries, I go in not knowing what the solution is, which was the case here. This is still an enjoyable film — I generally quite like films based on Agatha Christie novels (and quite enjoy her novels), and Peter Ustinov was my Poirot growing up. Great cast, great denouement, a fun time indeed.

Superman: The Movie

I was really looking forward to watching this movie, and wow, was I ever disappointed. The first mistake I did was to watch the 3+ hour version, which I didn’t remember was a thing — following its initial theatrical release, which was around 2 hours, they produced this version for its TV debut, and it seems to have become the de facto version. The main problem is that the first hour is so incredibly boring that it really took me out of it, and so when we finally get to spend time with Christopher Reeve — who still shines as both Clark Kent and Superman — I just didn’t really care anymore. The silly scenes with Luthor underground also made it that much more of a chore. Oh, and yes, the “rotate Earth to go back in time” is still beyond ridiculous, but that’s besides the point. I think a tight 90-minute version would be have been enjoyable to re-watch, but this 3-hour slog definitely wasn’t.

Damien: Omen II

I’m a pretty big fan of the Omen trilogy, and so it was fun to revisit this for the first time in quite a while. I think it’s maybe the weakest of the three (I’ll need to revisit the third one though to confirm), but it’s still a good time to see Damien hit puberty and start realizing his power — all while discovering the people who are supporting him (I’d forgotten about the twist at the end). I find that it’s a shame that they don’t make horror films like this anymore — now it’s all slasher/torture porn, and the films that we do get that are supernatural are still more concerned with the violence and gore than the suspense.

Game of Death

I was actually angry while watching this movie. I’d completely forgotten that his was the “last” Bruce Lee film, using up a bit of footage (an entire 11 minutes) that was shot before his death, and then building this insanely dumb movie around it, using doubles to clumsily (with a beard, in shadows, wearing shades, from the back — with a fucking photo stuck on a mirror) replace Lee. It’s a horrible, horrible film, and I couldn’t believe what I was watching (I guess I was more forgiving as a kid)… and then I got to the fight scene at the end that does feature the real Lee, and it’s fucking magic. That sequence in particular where he’s fighting with yellow nunchucks in his yellow jumpsuit is just so fantastic, and gave me goosebumps while watching it. It doesn’t forgive the rest of this lousy movie, but that short sequence was enough to remind me of the genius that was Bruce Lee, and I think I’ll need to revisit his “real” movies now.

Halloween (1978)

After saying goodbye to 1968, I kicked off a run of 1978 movies last night with the original Halloween film. The absolute star of this movie is the fantastic soundtrack by Carpenter — that iconic theme is just as good now as it ever was, and its use really does make it feel like it’s an integral part of the Meyers character. As for the rest of the film, sure, there’s a lot of silliness (why does she keep dropping that damn knife after using it), and the audio dubbing is at times atrocious, but it was pretty fun to watch, and I’m glad I’ve gotten this refresher ahead of the release of the new Halloween film this year, that’s a direct sequel to this (with Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role, as well as the actor who played the original Michael Meyers). I really hope the same audio cues show up as well.