Film Mini-Reviews – February 2017: End of Days to The Day the Fish Came Out

March 13, 2017 No Comments »
Film Mini-Reviews – February 2017: End of Days to The Day the Fish Came Out

Includes 2017 Academy Awards Nominees!

Surprisingly, I watched slightly more movies in February than I did in January (53 vs. 52) — though surely the Academy Awards marathons that I my wife and I did helped.  I’m still not sure if this is a trend or just a fluke.  Will I hit 600 films this year?  Maybe March, which seems to be starting slower, will tell.  I just don’t have enough data points yet.  Stay tuned, folks.

(And if you want to support this or any of my other wacky, ongoing stuff, consider Joining My Patreon for a buck or two a month.  Thanks!)

So, here’s the list for February, 2017 with some atypical stuff for the start and end titles and more monster and SF in between — plus the Academy Awards.  (See January 2017 for “The Rules.”)

(Oh, and the reason they’re not alphabetized is because that’d add at least a half hour to this task, which would make it like work, which would make me not want to do it.  So let’s keep having fun!)

And, hey, consider writing in MANOS: TALONS OF FATE for Book of the Year on the current Rondo Awards, would ya?  Thanks!

Happy reading and watching!

FILM – Rating (0-5 stars) – Comments

End of Days, The ** Schwarzenegger vehicle isn’t bad, but some smarter rewrites would have improved it.
The Land that Time Forgot **** Faithfulness to the adventurous spirit of Burroughs overcomes any SFX shortcomings. Good fun.
The People that Time Forgot *** Not as good as Land… But still a rousing tale told sincerely.
LIzzie Borden Took an Ax *** Christina Ricci makes this sincere TV drama about the famous murders worth viewing. Weird rock soundtrack.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters **** Raymond Burr version on Svengoolie. Great film and the start of G-Mania.
Target Earth *** Low budget but well done. Better than it has a right to be, with great goofy robot design.
Real Men ** John Ritter makes this Jim Belushi Spy/SF/Comedy bearable. Barely.
Huntsman: Winter’s War, The *** Entertaining action-fantasy with a great cast and strong, fun SFX. Good prequel-sequel.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch ** Bland TV-movie fare about the comic book character. Lots of skin in the pool party scene. No edge.
Psychic Killer *** Julie Adams & Tim Hutton plus gore & nudity make this 70s crime-SF shocker fun and watchable.
Tale of Tales **** Reverent, adult take on 3 classic European fairy tales. Really well made with a great cast.
Beowulf and Grendel *** Well made version of the tale, with a sympathetic take on the monster(s) and good production values.
Curse of the Swamp Creature ** John Agar and Francine York make this tolerable, but with a little more work, it could have been good. Like many of Buchanan’s movies, a lost opportunity.
Tales of an Ancient Empire * Even Kevin Sorbo can’t help this mess, which seems half baked at best. Like a sketch of a movie to come.
Attack of the Gryphon ** Not bad for a SyFy TV effort. Good cast. Passable SFX. Marginal story.
Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King *** Good cast & great look make for a good Ring of the Niebelungs adaptation. I’d love to see the long version.
Mists of Avalon, The **** Strong (TV) adaptation of the books gives a feminist spin to the Arthurian legends. Seen as one film.
Beowulf (Director’s Cut) *** Innovative animated adaptation of the myth. Give it another star if the Uncanny Valley doesn’t bother you.
Godzilla Raids Again (US cut) ** A much better film in the original Japanese. Still, this has some fun to it.
I Married a Witch **** Funny and charming, and Veronica Lake is stunning. Forerunner to Bewitched, the ending is a bit abrupt.
Lawless Frontier, The ** Movies don’t get much more B than this, but John Wayne dwarfs his horse. Good fun.
One Million Years BC (International Cut) **** Harryhausen and Raquel Welch make this totally worth watching. Blu-ray looks great! Fab dinos!
Terminal Man, The *** George Segal gets cyber-brain. Grim bit of Chrighton SF forecasting. Good cast. Bleak 70s ending.
Death Watch *** Harvey Keitel becomes a human camera to film Romy Schneider’s demise. 70s hold-over ending.
Five *** Post-holocaust melodrama in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Don’t know much about radiation. Well produced.
Day Mars Invaded Earth, The *** Low-budget scifi silliness nevertheless entertains. And a great “shock ending” makes it worthwhile.
Fox, The *** DH Lawrence melodrama about a female couple broken up by a man. Good cast & well produced.
No Blade of Grass *** 70s Post-Economic Collapse action picture with very gray morals. Nicely produced, shot, and acted.
Burden of Dreams **** Documentary about Fitzcarraldo shows Herzog as a very human “madman” and great film maker.
Bunny O’Hare ** Bette Davis & Ernest Borgnine make this slight robbery comedy entertaining, but lots of silly 70s attitudes.
Blood & Lace ** Shock ending can’t save this mediocre slasher/madmen offering. Watched on Comet. Would uncut be better?
Orochi the Eight-Headed dragon *** Colorful mythical production. A bit slow in places, but some fun kaiju stuff & near incomprenehsible Shinto myth.
Hell or High Water **** Great performances and characters you’re surprised to identify with in this West Texas cops/robbers story.
Hidden Figures **** Rewatch in the theater.
Hacksaw Ridge **** Powerful and emotionally moving with brutal war scenes. A bit more on the secondary characters needed.
Lala Land *** Production values pull it up to 3 stars, but somehow this film didn’t connect with me on many levels.
Cat’s Eye ** This portmanteau film feels a little spare, though the segments are good, especially the troll one. Not scary.
Adventures of Hajji Baba ** Beautiful production but fairly standard princess-pauper Arabian story with John Derek.
Frankenstein 1970 *** Karloff and good production values drag up a story that’s a bit of a mess. 1970 for its atomic generators?
Mad Monster Party? *** Great character designs by Jack Davis, script by Harvey Kurtzman, plus Karloff & Diller. But a bit slow/long.
Count Yorga, Vampire *** Great, moody, low-budget film overcomes its roots and a thin script with charming Robert Quarry as Yorga.
Return of Count Yorga, The ** Not quite as charming as the first, and a bit slow, but still worth seeing. Quarry should have done more sequels.
Howling: Reborn, The ** Low budget sequel that’s better than you might expect, but still seems to run out of money at crucial points.
Godzilla vs. The Thing (Mothra vs. G.) ***** Kaiju films don’t get better than this. Best G suit. Great monster fights. Even the dubbing is top-notch. Classic.
Singing in the Rain ***** A brilliant musical on every level. It doesn’t get better than this. Smart and funny and great songs/performances.
Fences **** Standout performances by all the principals & solid play-based script. A good character study.
Lion *** Strong real-life story gets a bit predictable when the little lost boy grows ups. Still very good.
Arrival ***** Smart, thought-provoking science fiction with great ideas and a superb Amy Adams in the lead. Fabulous.
Manchester by the Sea **** Casey Affleck feels very real, as do the other characters in this North Shore MA character study.
Moonlight **** This story of growing up with fatherless gets an unlikely role model in Mahershala Ali. Outstanding & thoughtful.
Godzilla’s Revenge (All Monsters Attack) ** English dubbed version, even with Svengoolie or MST3K, is hard to take. Original Japanese gets another *.
Boomerang! *** Crime and courtroom drama based on real life, with a good Dana Andrews lead & good supporting cast.
Yearling, The ***** Touching & sometimes heartbreaking family film about a boy & his deer. Great Technicolor cinematography.
Day the Fish Came Out, The ** Bleak Cold War comedy about lost nuclear materials on a Greek Island & attempts to recover said nuke junk.

Will February be another 50-film month?  Will I ever find out what my “normal” number of films to watch is?  How much will attending a convention affect my numbers?  Stay tuned!

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