It is officially summer here in Oklahoma, which means it is hot. Damn hot. Too hot to do anything but sit inside and watch movies. Too bad it is so hot that my little ai- conditioning unit can’t keep up. Our little house has two stories, but they added rooms to the second story some time after the original build. I don’t think they upgraded the HVAC system and anytime the temperatures move towards the extreme ends of the thermometer (which in Oklahoma is pretty much the months between June and August, and December through February), it becomes either uncomfortably cold or uncomfortably hot.This is especially true for the upstairs room, which includes our bedrooms.
It got so hot yesterday we retreated to my parents' house. I suspect we will do the same here in just a bit. Despite all that heat I still managed to catch some good films so lets get to them before I melt.
Doctor Who: Planet of Evil
The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith receive a distress call and send the TARDIS to the planet Zeta Minor, the farthest known planet in the universe. There, they find the last surviving scientist who is mining the planet for antimatter materials, which will help supply energy to his dying home planet. Soon, another team of humans (or humanoids as they are actually Morestrans) find their way to the planet. They are a military group sent to investigate the science mission as they’ve not heard from them in some time.
The Planet is not so keen on the people removing antimatter from it (the planet seems to be some kind of connecting point between two universes, the other universe being where the antimatter comes from) and so it has sent an invisible antimatter monster to kill everyone off.
The plot is a bit weak, the science ridiculous, and it turns out an invisible monster isn’t that scary - but it has its moments. I’m always a fan of Tom Baker’s Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith and both are in fine form.
I’ve tried two weekends in a row now to see The Incredibles 2 and its been sold out every time. I do love that my local cinema has converted to stadium seating with big, comfortable lounge chairs, but it sure does limit the number of tickets they can sell. As consolation we popped in a Blu-ray of the first one. I love this movie. Brad Bird created one of the best super hero movies ever. Its fun, exciting and manages to tell a really good story about families as well.
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
I first caught this James Mangold remake of the old Elmore Leonard story while I was living in China. I can’t remember now if I watched it on my laptop or the little bitty TV we had over there but the viewing conditions were definitely not optimal. At the time, I remember it getting tons of praise, but I found it quite underwhelming. Its streaming now on some service or another and I decided to give it another go. I still wasn’t that impressed.
It has a great cast including Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, and Peter Fonda, and Mangold’s directions is lovely, but the script is just bad especially towards the end. So why am I including it in my cool things list this week? I guess I’m just a sucker for westerns and for all its failings in its story, I still love me some cowboys shooting each other. And when those cowboys are played by those actors I can handle some poor writing.
My wife randomly turned on some old Wallace and Gromit shorts the other day, which reminded me that I’d not see this film made by the same people. Chicken Run is a stop-motion animated film about a group of English hens cooped up in a coop who desperately want to escape before they are turned into pies. Mel Gibson plays an American rooster who teaches them to fly. The coop is designed like an old WWII prison camp and much of the film plays out like scenes from The Great Escape as made by a high school AV Club nerd. The play off between the hens gentile Englishness against Gibson’s American swagger is a delight.
I Kill Giants
I am a huge fan of the graphic novel this film is based upon. In a previous "Cool Things" column, I called it one of the best comics I’d ever read. The live-action film is not nearly as good. The comic uses its medium to great effect, juxtaposing between image and words is brilliant and quite moving. The film's visuals are at times quite effecting, but its low budget causes the CGI giants to look pretty shabby. It uses the same technique as the comic where it doesn’t let us know exactly what’s going on with her until the end, but the film can’t quite make that work as well as the comic. Still, it's a beautiful story and Madison Wolfe does an amazing job pulling in all the complexities of her character.
Chris O’Dowd stars in this adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel. He plays a dude obsessed with a singer/songwriter who hasn’t made anything new in many years. When he discovers an unreleased record from the songwriter (Ethan Hawke), his long-suffering girlfriend (Rose Byrne) writes something snarky about it on the Internet. Said songwriter replies to her snark and the two embark on a relationship. The book was a return to form for Hornby and I’m a big fan of O’Dowd so I’m hoping big things for the movie.