A Middle Aged Movie Blog. Being the periodic journal of a film loving middle aged independent science fiction writing father of two and his ongoing adventures in cinema and home video
Watched Tron (1982) with my son for dad and lad movie night, was astonished at how cool and retro the revolutionary effects now look. Strange how effects that seemed revolutionary in my youth now have a cool 80’s videogame sheen to them. My son, a budding gamer and movie obsessive, loved it.
Followed this with Blumhouse high concept teen horror Happy Death Day (2016) which manages to meld together the time loop conceit of Groundhog Day (which it at least has the good graces to namecheck during its final scenes) with the pretty teen horror aesthetics of nineties slasher movies. The film is far from scary and incredibly bloodless for a flick in which the principle lead is repeatedly offed by a psycho in a kiddy-mask over and over.
Still despite this and despite the pilfered narrative structure (Edge of Tomorrow in 2014 did it better!) the film doesn’t outstay its welcome. Adequately constructed, with enough telescoped jump scares and frat party killer action to stave off irritation. Directed by Christopher Landon. Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, and Ruby Modine.
Watched Willow (1988) with the boy and was incredibly impressed to discover just how much I enjoyed it all these years later. Low rent Hobbit stand in Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) embarks on a quest to save prophesy baby Elora Danan from the evil queen Bavmorda along with a motley crew of ridiculous quest buddies. Val Kilmer steals the show as Madmartigan. Differing effects styles are occasionally jarring. Directed by Ron Howard.
After a shitty day of escalating disappointments (most of them my own fault it has to be said) The LEGO® Movie 2 (2019) seemed like the perfect antidote.
With that in mind, loaded the clan into the car and drove into town to watch it at the Vue cinema in The Printworks, which is my kid’s favourite Mancunian cinema due to the number of escalators they get to ride on before arriving at a theatre.
Firstly, it’s not as good as its predecessor, which was to be expected all things considered. However, I would like to make it clear that despite this fact, it is still pretty fine. It’s certainly an improvement on The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017) which was a step in the wrong direction as far as the franchise was concerned. It’s funny, entertaining, random and periodically surreal. It might not be as ‘awesome’ as one might have hoped, but you have to acknowledge the genius of any movie that features subtitled Velociraptors, stars that vomit glitter, Batman falling in love with a mutating chatterbox singalong Duplo queen and Channing Tatum as the voice of Superman. Revise your unrealistic expectations, accept that the novelty factor is long gone, and you’ll enjoy it immensely. Directed by Mike Mitchell. Starring Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett.
Lady Bird is Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, a quirkily assembled coming of age drama starring Saoirse Ronan as moody teen Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson, who is desperate to escape Catholic sand-trap Sacramento to attend an East Coast school to further her one note dream of making it big and owning a massive house.
Family tensions abound, relationship difficulties proliferate. There are some fun musical cues and the quirky comedic moments are smartly judged. Enjoyably off beat. Cooly acted. Ronan and Timothee Chalamet are both excellent in their respected roles.
Conan The Barbarian, meanwhile, John Milius’s 1982 sword and sorcery classic remains a superior blood and muscle epic of heavy weaponry and gut thumping brutality. Unlike Richard Fleischer’s boring follow up Conan The Destroyer (1984) and the ridiculous Red Sonja released to universal derision in 1985 this first outing for the Cimmerian warrior has weathered the intervening years well. Arnie is on fine form as the vengeance seeking thief, warrior, gladiator and king of the piece who, after his family are brutally slain (Dad is savaged by Rottweilers and mum is decapitated by James Earl Jone’s oddly coiffured necromancer Thulsa Doom at the film’s commencement), makes it his life’s mission to put an end to his enemy.
Brutal, bloody, occasionally humorous and actually featuring an empowered love interest in the shape of Sandahl Bergman’s thieving Valeria, Conan remains the blueprint for po faced adult fantasy epics featuring a monumentally grandiose score from Basil Poledouris, a terrifically melodramatic voiceover from Mako and enough decanted haemoglobin to fill up a blood bank