Tuesday, August 19, 2008

CJunk Oldies: Sword and Shield Movie Roundup

The best and the worst are all here. I present to you a collection of micro-reviews of the latest sword slashing flicks and a few oldies as well.Lets begin with the new ones.

Kingdom of Heaven
This film had the misfortune of being released after a whole string of bad and really bad sword epics. People were simply sick with the tripe they’d been fed, so this movie didn’t get as much attention, which is unfortunate as it is a decent movie. Orlando Bloom, who has starred in every movie involving horses and swords ever made since his birth, and some even before that time, bulks up his normally elvin body and heads off to the crusades, where he distinguishes himself as a true and rare ‘noble’ knight. He is surrounded by plenty of conniving dastards who ensure there is plenty of head hacking and scheming and what not afoot. It all builds up at the end to a great siege battle, which is nearly as good as the Lord of the Rings finale. This one is a keeper.
The very worst of the recent lot of sword flicks. Historically inaccurate in that the film maker focuses on petty events in Alexander’s life instead of the important ones. Dreadfully long with painful dialogue, and not nearly enough fighting; which was how Alexander gained his fame in the first place. Also, while the film is only the length of a single extended version of Lord of the Rings, watching it achieves the same effect as trying to move near a black hole. Time slows down, and stretches nearly to infinity. I count my blessings every day that I watched this one at the cheap theater, which costs less than a rental. Still, someone owes me a serious chunk of my life back.
This one left me with mixed feelings. A large number of viewers hold a great deal of hate for this film, and with good reason; Brad Pitt, for one. Historical accuracy, sure, that was shot all to hell, but I think a little forgiveness is owed there. The story of Troy, and the ‘heros’ who took part, is indeed mostly fiction. While the political wrangling dragged a little, the battles were decent. The massive phalanx shoving match was a wonderful treat to watch, and the one on one scrums were entertaining as well. Also, this movie didn’t feature Angelina Jolie or Val Kilmer, as Alexander did, which gives it big points. All in all an ‘OK’ film.
King Arthur
From that rock star producer Jerry Bruckheimer comes the action packed “King Arthur”. Again, I have mixed feelings here, not about the movie, which was awful, but about the producer. Jerry had his hand in “Black Hawk Down” and “Pirates of the Caribbean”, which is to be commended. At the same time, he delivered some of the worst garbage to ever be filmed; “Armageddon” and “Pearl Harbour”. Yes, I did just say the “A” word. Also, he bombards us with a never ending payload of ‘CSI’ on the telly. King Arthur consists of mostly uninspired action and low adventure, with its highlights being the feature of one of the actors from “13th Warrior”, and Keira Knightley wiggling around in the nip. Save your money on this one.
Pirates of the Caribbean
I won’t spend much time here, as I’m quite sure that no individual on this continent could escape the infinite screenings of this blockbuster. It is in fact a decent movie, thanks largely to the hilarious and original character Johnny Depp plays. Yeah, I know he’s a raging moonbat lefty, but what Hollywood film can you watch that doesn’t involve at least a gaggle of lefties?
I highly recommend this movie on its one greatest merit, which is that it features a character with MY name. Its other merits are few and far between. In fact, I can think of no other merits, nope, no merits whatsoever, aside from the obvious and afore mentioned merit of featuring a character with my name.(does anyone know a synonym for merit?). Occasionally, Michael Crichton novels make wonderful movies(see below). In this case, it made a not so good movie. Somehow the wonderfully exciting concept of the novel was lost in the movie, as is so often the case. Read the paperback, skip the flick.
13th Warrior
This wonderful gem, which was gleefully passed up by a dull and uninspired audience when it came out, is in fact, the best stand alone sword and shield action adventure ever made. I know what you’re thinking, Antonio Banderas is in it; well, he is, and he is great. Maybe it’s the fact that he plays an Arab instead of a Spaniard. This Arab, our unlikely hero, hooks up with the toughest, rowdiest, and most jovial bunch of Vikings ever put on screen. The casting was done brilliantly, never before has such a superb group of Vikings been assembled. Together, they travel north to kick some Neanderthal ass. Absolutely one of my favourites, and dare I say it, as a standalone, better than any of the individual Lord of the Rings megaflicks.
Army of Darkness or Bruce Campbell vs The Army of Darkness
Now I’m reaching back a bit, all the way to 1992. This B grade action/comedy/horror/adventure stars the great B movie actor Bruce Campbell. Either you know about this film, and love it, or you’ve never heard of it. Rest assured, if you find it and watch it, you will like it. I can’t quite describe the actual movie as such, its originality prohibits any reasonable comparisons. Just take my word for it, this one is a classic.
What can I say about 300 that hasn't already been said? First, get past the fact that our Spartan lead, is in fact, a Scotsman who has little intention of hiding his accent. Next, accept that digital blood looks a lot like thick, blackstrap molasses. Finally, you should, just as I did, prepare your fragile psyche for an hour and a half of beefy men in tiny leather panties. This done, you are set to enjoy what is certainly one of the most violent, visual, pointless, and utterly entertaining action movies of our time. Its straight up good verses evil, and I think we need that once in a while.

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