Sunday, July 29, 2012

Movie from the Vault: Zorro the Gay Blade

This is another example of a movie I saw when I was younger and it didn't occur to me until I was much older how offensive the concept was. Here's the premise: Zorro (played by George Hamilton) is injured in the course of defending the defenseless, but there's still a baddie who needs to be dealt with. So Zorro calls on his gay brother to take on the mantle of Zorro while he recovers. The brother soups up the suit with satin and tassels, trades in the sword for a whip, and reinvents Zorro in a more flamboyant fashion.

I loved this movie when I was a kid and I didn't think it was anything other than a funny adventure movie. Not sure how well it holds up in today's world and it's certainly more of an exploitation film than anything else. But I recently remembered that this movie existed and decided to pass it along.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Amazing Spider-man

I thought the idea of rebooting this franchise was dumb, but if they had to do it this was a good effort. It's a really good movie and a good Spider-man movie, with an awesome villain and a girlfriend who actually contributes instead of making dumb decisions and getting kidnapped all the time. If anything Gwen Stacy is put in danger because she insists on helping, not because she's too dumb to stay out of harm's way like her predecessor. It makes it all the more tragic to consider that she may be doomed to follow her comic book counterpart to a fate that becomes one of Spidey's deepest regrets as a superhero.

The marketing called this an "untold story", downplaying the reboot with a suggestion that it was more of a return to portions of the story that were previously not known. But this is not the case. It's a straight-up remake.The story is new even though you have to sit through an origin re-telling that's more or less a reconstruction of what we already saw in the first movie, but it's well told and has a deeper dimension than previous movies gave it. There's a bit of a conspiracy feeling that seems slightly forced and is obviously the requisite setup for future installments, but at least the character and story seem well positioned for sequels.

There was a shameless backdoor kind of marketing that was done to endear us to the new Spider-man, Andrew Garfield, by constantly reminding us that he too is a superfan and therefore deserving of the role because he is, after all, one of us. I have to admit that this helped allay my concerns at his being an unknown. What helps more is how well he embodies the role both as the awkward Peter Parker and as the streetwise Spider-man. They also do a better job of bringing out Spidey's inner wiseass than previous movies. While I loved the Raimi movies, they were so mired in the the ongoing angst of his courtship with the vapid and undeserving MJ that you forgot he was supposed to be funny.

Over all, I'd say they did a great job and I'm looking forward to further installments. Superhero movies work in cycles, something I'm sure is weighing heavily on the minds of Warner executives now that Christopher Nolan is finishing up his run at the helm of the Dark Knight franchise.


This movie is exactly what it looks like: a live-action version of the comedic style Seth MacFarlane established in Family Guy. It even has the non sequitur referential cutaways that Family Guy is best known for, like flashbacks that mimic the dance scene from Airplane and a nice homage to the 1980 film adaptation of Flash Gordon. 

The premise is a brilliant idea for a comedy: It's all fine and good for a boy to bring his teddy bear to life with a Christmas wish, but what happens 20 years later when he's a full-grown man who's buddies for life with a wise-cracking, pot-smoking teddy bear?

The real question was: Could MacFarlane's style work in a live action film or did it depend on the stripped-down surrealism of animation? Well, for my money, I'd say it worked. Ted is full of laugh out loud lines and moments and the cast does a great job of selling it. I would say that if you're a fan of Family Guy then you should like Ted, but if you aren't then this movie probably won't appeal to you either.