Last Month in Movies – November 2017

Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! – Lots of words about this here.

Akira – It would be… generous to say that I actually watched this movie. The situation was more me struggling to stay awake while it was on in the background.

As such, I only sort of know what was going on. Being an 80’s anime I’m sure made it even harder to follow. From what I can tell, it was the story of a biker punk whose friend gets kidnapped by super-scientists, and develops some sort of powers as a result. I cannot tell you what those powers were supposed to be, but at the end he loses control and becomes a massive Cronenbergian horror, and it’s up to biker punk to save the day. Or not. I think some psychic children actually saved the day. With a psychic nuke. Anime!

Anyway, I feel like this film has a pretty strong following, Maybe because it was one of the rare anime movies that got localized in the 80’s? I did notice that the animation was excellent, but I was so half-asleep that the story didn’t really make an impression on me. By the end I was still having trouble identifying characters. I think I’ll have to give it a few weeks and then try watching it again. Hopefully to better results.

Sleeping Beauty – Another classic animated film that I had never seen before. It’s a bit of a random choice, but I can explain it away by having been inspired while watching a Kingdom Hearts playthrough.

What’s most important to note is that I knew very little of the story of Sleeping Beauty. I knew a princess pricks her finger on a spinning wheel’s spindle an falls into an unending sleep until a prince kisses her awake. I had no idea the story of the kings, the three good fairies, or even how Maleficent actually factored in. Like Akira, Sleeping Beauty was animated masterfully, but the difference between the two is that I stayed fully awake throughout the latter and enjoyed it immensely.

Something that surprised me a lot is that the film does not operate by modern Disney standards; notably when Maleficent invokes the “powers of Hell” to transform herself into a dragon, and subsequently when she is killed by a sword to the heart, bleeding wound and all. What might be even more surprising is that Merryweather has rocketed very close to the top of the list of my favourite Disney characters. What a great movie this is!

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) – I haven’t gotten a Freddy fix in quite a while, and for some reason I felt compelled to fill that hole in my life with a re-watch of the re-make.

The Elm Street remake is… I mean, I don’t hate it. It’s right on the perfect level of staying close to the source material while still being original enough to not be pointless. But there’s still something about it that doesn’t quite work for me. I can’t quite place it, but I’m not the only one who wasn’t super pleased with the film, because it has a pretty bad reputation.

However, I do want to take this opportunity to praise Jackie Earle Haley’s performance as Freddy Krueger. He’s not Robert Englund, because nobody is, but he does a damn fine job of making Freddy a truly menacing villain again. The character quickly veered off in a more comedic direction in the original series, but in this remake he is no-nonsense evil, and I dig it.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge – Hey! Ho! Let’s Go! I’m watching all the Elm Streets / there are a lot of movies / it’ll take a while to watch these / Fred K’s Bop.

We’re stepping back in time now, back to the original series. I probably should have watched the first movie as well but ehhhhh I’ve already seen it so many times. So I moved onto part 2. In this one, rather than killing kids in their dreams (which kills them in real life), Freddy possesses a young man and uses his body to kill kids. And also one grown-up. And two birds. Maybe other things, it was on in the background while I played video games.

Freddy’s Revenge is notorious for being the gayest Elm Street. And while the director has admitted that all the gay “subtext” was entirely intentional, it’s hard to say for sure whether it’s gay-positive or making fun. Regardless, it makes the film a lot more interesting when you look at the Freddy possession as a sort of metaphor for the main character being unwilling to accept the fact that he’s gay. If nothing else, it makes Freddy’s Revenge a whole lot deeper than any other slasher from the 80’s.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors – For as long as I’ve been an Elm Street fan, Dream Warriors has been my favourite of the bunch. Far and away. No competition. Will that assessment stand after I’m done re-watching them all?

The third film starts up with a new protagonist, Kristen, being thrown in a psych ward when Freddy invades her dreams and slices her up to make it look like she tried to off herself. Turns out there’s an epidemic of teen “suicide attempts” going on, and Dr. Stuffypants is on the case! And then Nancy from the first movie shows up to help solve the mystery. Then a bunch of the kids die, the rest get dream superpowers, and Freddy Krueger’s skeleton wreaks havoc in the real world. There are tons of really great special effects and some truly amazing sets, and the theme song is a sweet heavy metal track by Dokken. There’s literally nothing to dislike about this movie.

Oh, except for Heather Langenkamp’s performance. She was way off her game on this one.

Thor: Ragnarok – If you had told me, before I watched this movie, that it would be the funniest entry in the MCU, I probably would have slapped you. With a scathing statement of disbelief. Not a real slap. I don’t actually hit people.

But there is it and here we are; Thor: Ragnarok was hilarious. Not only that, but it was without a doubt the best Thor movie. Better than the first two combined. Probably the best Hulk movie, too. There is a ton of Hulk in here, which surprised me, because I had no idea to which extent he was involved. But he almost gets as much screen time as Loki, so I’d say that’s pretty good! This is probably my new favourite role for Jeff Goldblum. That’s saying a lot, because I can’t think of any Jeff Goldblum performance that I’ve seen where he doesn’t knock it out of the park.

If you need to know a little more about what Thor: Ragnarok is actually about, it begins with the reveal that Odin’s death has somehow allowed Thor’s estranged sister Hela to return to Asgard and conquer the place. Because apparently Odin was the only one stronger than her? I don’t know. It was unclear. So then she knocks Thor and Loki out of the magical rainbow warp tube and they end up on a garbage dump planet ruled by tyrannical dictator Jeff Goldblum. Thor is forced to fight in the slave “prisoners with jobs” arena, Hulk shows up, and hilarity ensues. It’s all good fun, and the score was done by Mark Mothersbaugh, which explains why it’s sooooo great.

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