Movies I've seen in 2013
Quite an old movie, but it's from Hitchcock and I hadn't seen it before. It's hard to say how accurate
London in the early 70s is portrayed, but the dialogues doen't stand the test of time. The eponymous
frenzy is a killing frenzy where a killer just can't stop until he gets caught - but he gets away with quite
a bit until that point.
- The Constant Gardener
A bit formulaic, that just one man -with the help of friends and sympathetic acquaintances- can set out to
investigate murky doings of government operators and pharmazeutical companies that need merely make phone calls
to set assassins loose. Of course, he pays with his life, but ensures that the baddest guy gets a come-uppance.
- Escape Plan
Though there's a bit of a plot around it, basically this film is sbout two senior citizens (Sly and Arnie) to escape
from prison. Must have been hard to decide who is the "brains" in this; in the end it was Sly. Anyone who's seen any
of the movies the two have made will know that it doesn't matter what kind of prison this is (not a county jail),
nor how many guards or other adversaries there are - they'll get out. And so it is. Have a couple drinks before and
enjoy the show. Then have a couple more afterwards, talk and laugh about it, and be done with it for good.
This one wasn't billed as a bad movie, but starring Steven Seagal, a 3.3 IMDB rating, and "direct to video" should have
been a warning. My hope was that Dennis Hopper and Tom Sizemore could rescue it - nope, although their scenes are the most
- Mega Piranha
Thanks to a series on German TV called "The worst movies ever made" I've become aware of this film, which IMDB users give
2.5 out of 10 stars, the lowest I've ever seen. The premise is that genetic mutations have created a Piranha species that
doubles in size every 36 hours, reproduces asexually, can exist in both salt water and fresh water, and is impervious even
to nuclear blasts. In other words, technology can't kill them, heroic humans have to do the job. Which they do shortly
before the piranhas grow large enough to swallow the entire earth in one gulp.
- The Odessa File
Having read The Odesa File a long time back, I was curious to see how it had been adapted to film. Turns out in the usual
way a bestseller is shot on film - draft well-known actors, and cut out most of the parts of the book that establish the characters
and explain why there's action in the rest of the book. Some liberties have been taken, particularly with the final chapters,
but the overall plot is still there. And it was fun to see some well-known German actors in a film from way back when.
- Stalingrad: Dogs, Do You Want to Live Forever?
A mere 54 years after release, German TV allows me to check the historic treatment of the battle of Stalingrad, filmed
just 16 years after it happened. Even back then there was no need to amplify the magnitude of the tragedy, so the film
contents itself with portraying the different kinds of characters involved: the reckless leader believing in the victory,
the foreseeing but obeying leader, the cynic, the fatalist, etc. etc. There are no winners here, just losers.
- The Da Vinci Code
I'd only read the book, not seen the movie, so playing a bit of catch-up. Tom Hanks is his usual reliable self,
Audrey Toutou is sweet, Jean Reno tough and Ian McKellen scheming - no surprises there. Even though hundreds of
pages must have been cut from the book, the remainder is just enough to ensure that the viewer does not get lost
in religious history, provided he takes everything he's offered at face value. But then, the protagonists do,
so he can just enjoy the ride from Paris through London into Scotland within 24 hours, tops.
It' always gratifying to see that a single top agent can take on large parts of the CIA and come out ahead.
Of course, the agent is Aaron Eckhart who's been through plenty of tough situations, and this time he even manages
to have his teenage daughter along with everything that entails. Plus, he looks like Harrison Ford on the movie
poster. An intricate and intriguing plot that requires
some suspension of disbelief; but that's to be expected. A second viewing will not be necessary.
- Smilla's Sense of Snow
With a background of snow, ice and Greenland, a mystery turns into a crime story, unravelled by the beautiful
Julia Ormond. A lot is not quite what it seems in this story, making for an intriguing film culminating in a
showdown in the ice of Greenland.
- Des Teufels General
Having been a fan of the book for a long time, I've long wanted to see its 1955 movie adaptation. It's a bit
disappointing, though, as too much of the dialogues that provide the punch of the story is left out, thus making
the conflict in which General Harras finds himself less deep and convincing than the book manages to do.
- The Last Stand
Feels a bit like a high tech version of High Non - Sheriff Arnie and his posse stop an escapee drug baron from
crossing the border into Mexico. Even the most elaborate escape plans are for nothing if the right guy is at
the right place at the right time. Some cute faces are also part of the mix, but they can't save an overall weak movie.
- Con Air
Once again I'm catching up to movies from way back when. Lots of explosions, shootouts, car and airplane chases
make this a fast-paced thriller with lots of nasty convicts trying to escape. John Cusack und Nicholas Cage
combined are barely a match for John Malkovich, which is as it should be. Late night entertainment at its best.
A group of hitchhiking friends are caught, and meant to be served to bloodthirsty mutated humans; two survive.
There's a bit more to the plot, but it's not really worth to go into details, as the result is rather forgettable.
- Killing Them Softly
Somewhat pointless mob/hitman movie where once again Brad Pitt does everybody in. That the other side
is mostly clueless is a novelty, but wears off quickly, as the most clueless die first.
- Dorian Gray
Film adaptation that takes liberties with the book (Lord Wootton has a daughter who takes after her father
and takes a shine to Dorian), but too much of Wootton's character and aphorisms are left out to make it anywhere
near as enjoyable as the book.
- The Crimson Rivers
Is there a Jean Reno movie where Jean Reno is not the last man standing, aside from The Professional?
Here he's at work in the French countryside where a supposed elite university is in reality a breeding ground
for a better human race. Some nice plot ideas make this one worthwhile watching.
Proof that it doesn't always have to be men who take on the world alone in taking revenge after a blown
operation. Logic and rationale take somewhat short shrift, but that's probably to be expected.
The story of how 6 US diplomats avoided the capture of the US embassy in Iran in 1979, and escaped from the
country in a Canadian-assisted CIA operation. Not sure why this won an Oscar for best picture. It's a gripping
story put well into pictures, but what exactly is prize-winning about it? Could the Academy be wearing their
nationality on their sleeves?
Fast-paced spy thriller with an intriguing story about Russian sleeper agents operating in the USA.
Very good entertainment.
- Zero Dark Thirty
Not much new in this one, as the story is widely known. Anyone who's followed the events of the "war on terror"
shouldn't be surprised by anything in this movie, except maybe for some pieces about agent Maya. Even though the film
doesn't add much to the story, it pulls together all the strands of a 10 year man-hunt, providing an interesting
look at the inside of "war on terror".
Showdown in a lonely cottage in the country-side, with Bond as the guardian of M? Strange plot for a James Bond
movie. Some inside knowledge lets the enemy get closer than he should be able to, but it's never explained, and
overall the plot falls flat (not that it doesn't stretch the limits of credibility more than usual, mind you).
- Taken 2
Nice change from the usual sequels: it's not different baddies to chase this time, but the same baddies (or rather,
their surviving kin) are out to get revenge on the hero of the first movie. Apart from that, similar fare.
- A Good Day to Die Hard
Bruce goes global! This time he's out to wreak havoc in Moscow, where armies of baddies are slightly more believable
than they'd be in his usual stomping grounds in the USA. Apart from that, suspension of disbelief is the order of the day,
and this one is even more fast-paced than the previous films; Bruce barely gets to catch his breath and do some male
bonding with his son. Yes, there's going to be a dynasty. I still miss the christmas theme of the first couple of movies, though.
- Django Unchained
As with Inglourious Basterds, the Academy gets it wrong - Christoph Waltz is a leading actor in this movie,
not a supporting one. Lots of blood and carnage, and Waltz at his most charming, ruthless and deadly, make this another
Tarantino movie to remember.