Saturday, February 24, 2018

Black Panther Gets the Job Done

Black Panther review (not a remake)

The latest installment in the MCU franchise arrived amid massive hype and expectations. It handily exceeded box office projections and breathless believers are convinced that it represents a watershed moment in black cinema. In truth, Black Panther doesn’t tread much new ground in terms of the Marvel Universe or cinema in general. Where the film does succeed, it is by telling an origin story that doesn’t feel stale within a franchise that has already pumped out a bevy of origin stories and doing a large amount of world-building in a way that doesn’t leave the end product feeling over-stuffed. All told, Black Panther gets the job done.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Anastasia (1956 / 1997)

At the beginning of the Russian Civil War, Czar Nicholas II, along with his family, was assassinated by the Bolsheviks. However, there were rumors that his daughter, the Grand Duchess Anastasia, had escaped. As years passed and rumors intensified, several women came forward claiming to be Anastasia. These rumors serve as the backstory for two very different films about the legendary princess.

The first film is a fairly straightforward historical drama, based loosely on the real life Anastasia-imposter Anna Anderson. The remake is a fantastic animated musical adventure designed to vie with Disney’s pantheon of princesses. If it is dubious that such a wildly divergent interpretation could be considered a remake, one need only look to the film credits where it claims a basis in the 1956 Arthur Laurents screenplay. Who am I to argue?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945/2009)

I’ve always felt that Dorian Gray gets cinematic short-shrift compared to his contemporaries, Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. While everyone else has had brides and sons and run-ins with Abbot and Costello, Dorian has been largely absent from the big screen. In the 60 years that span between the two films I am about to discuss, no significant addendums have been made to Dorian’s tale.

The most remarkable thing about the two films I am about to review is how utterly similar they are, though produced so far apart. Of course, there are the pacing and aesthetic changes that one might expect, and the recent version is able to be more explicit where the original is not. But what is truly remarkable is how both films treated the source material virtually the same, in my opinion, right down to hitting the same marks and making the same mistakes.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Doubt (2008)

Here's a straight movie review just because I can't get this one out of my head. Of course, that was the author's intent, as I will explain. This is definitely one of those films that should not be judged by the promos. Yes, the plot revolves around a Catholic priest who is accused of abusing an altar boy, but it is not the anti-Catholic screed one might expect. In fact, I’d say this is the first trick the author, John Patrick Shanley, plays on his audience as he toys with various prejudices throughout. Is it a perfect film? No. But it is probably one of the finest films I’ve seen in a long time.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

13 Ghosts (1960 / 2001)

There’s not much to say by way of introduction to this pair of films. Both are light and cheesy horror films that are long on spectacle and short on story.  The original was produced and directed by the master of B-movie gimmicks, William Castle, while the remake was produced by Dark Castle Entertainment, a production house set up specifically to pay homage to William Castle and to remake his pictures. The original has been a late-night staple for decades now, while the remake is probably regarded more poorly than it deserves. Though vastly different in execution, both are a lot of fun.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Mechanic (1972/2011)

A different take on auto repair
Charles Bronson. Jason Statham. Two paragons of badassery. Both actors are well known for playing brooding, tight-lipped anti-heroes who operate with calculating and ruthless efficiency. It almost seems too convenient that both should play the title character in The Mechanic so we might compare them so directly. But to be fair, the movies and the actors need to be judged separately.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Guest Review: Clash(es) of the Titans (1981-2010)

The 1981 version of Clash of the Titans really was an inspired movie. Clash 2010 wasn’t. In fact, it stank. And what better way to explain why it stank than to compare the two?