Ken’s Movie Diary 2017 – Week 12

Weekly Update: Among the usual random assortments this week was a big marathon from 1970s film producer Irwin Allen, dubbed the “Master of Disaster”, because of his penchant for big-budgeted large cast disaster films.

Curious what else I’ve seen this year? -Click here to read the full list of movies viewed year to date-

103. Hour of the Gun (1967)

John Sturges returns to the story of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, but with a decidedly more cynical view in this revisionist retelling of the Earp revenge ride. James Garner and Jason Robards play Earp and Holliday respectively, and their performances bear fruit against what is otherwise a somewhat underwritten and underwhelming story.  Western fans will appreciate the darker version of the Earp story, though not as historically accurate as later films.

104. 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

One of the great all-time Western stories. 3:10 to Yuma stars Glenn Ford as Ben Wade, a wanted criminal who is captured by lowly farmer Dan Evans (Van Heflin).  Evans involves himself in the matter out of desperation, in need of money to keep his farm from being lost. What begins is a battle of wits between two desperate men. Ford and Heflin give the performances of their careers, conveying as much tension through one facial expression than many modern thrillers do for 2 hours.

105. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

The first major disaster movie from producer Irwin Allen, The Poseidon Adventure follows a group of hapless survivors of a cruise ship that overturns following a rogue wave. The film follows as the star-studded cast climbs up down into the bowels of  the ship, to reach the hull, and hopefully find a way to escape to the surface. The film is mostly hogwash soap opera, but with some entertainingly over the top performances and somewhat dated but still compelling special effects.

106. The Towering Inferno (1974)

Perhaps the best of the Irwin Allen productions, The Towering Inferno has basically the same premise as all disaster films: guy complains to his boss that trouble is coming and boss JUST… DOESN’T… LISTEN! But this film features some really cool miniature effects and practical pyro effects that drive the desperate situation the film’s characters face. Also Paul Newman and Steve McQueen are in top form in their roles as the architect who built the building and a fireman assigned to saving it.

107. The Swarm (1978)

This film brings the hogwash of 70s disaster movies to its hogwashiest levels. This story of a killer bee invasion threatening the balance of humanity as the dominant species on Earth is ludicrous and depends on a series of very major and unbelievable coincidences to come together. Michael Caine tries desperately to make the material work, and several other big name actors do their damnedest. But the feeling pervades that as soon as the director shouted  “cut” everyone involved broke out with insane laughter.

108. Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)

…  This is the most shamelessly stupid excuse for a cash-in sequel I’ve ever seen. If the movie were even the least bit entertaining it would have helped gulp down the heaping helping of trash that this movie is.  Don’t watch it, don’t even add it to your long-neglected streaming queue.  In fact, if I ever met someone who genuinely enjoyed this movie, I’d recommend them for an asylum. This movie is a dull, painful exercise in futility.

109. When Time Ran Out (1980)

The death knell of an entire cinematic movement. When Time Ran Out paints by the same numbers as every disaster epic from the 1970s, but came out a year too late to avoid feeling hopelessly archaic. The movie even features much of the same cast as The Towering Inferno playing roles not too different from what they did in 1974. But instead of a building on fire, it’s an island threatened by volcano.  And no firefighters… Really, this was some bullshit

110. Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Going in, I’d never seen the original Anime film. So my impression was that this was a pretty visually compelling action film that basically follows the template of Robocop minus the satire. Scarlett Johansson is solid in her lead role, and the film manages a degree of compelling character building despite its relatively fast pace.  The primary problem is the familiarity of everything; this treads ground that has been long since covered. Still, it is worth a look for those wanting some visual sci-fi action.

111. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Far more introspective than the 2017 live action remake. The story covers a lot of the same material but in a very different way, and with gorgeous hand-drawn animation. The story’s biggest boon is the smart way it approaches the material. The remake focuses on action to drive the story, whereas this uses smart writing that provides a philosophical backing for the story.

About Oberst von Berauscht

Oberst Von Berauscht once retained the services of a Gypsy to imbue in him the ability to accurately describe the artistic qualities of a film up to seven decimal points. To maintain this unique skill, he must feast on the blood of a virgin every Harvest Moon, or failing that (and he usually does), he can also make a dog do that thing they do where they twist their heads slightly (you know, when they're confused about something) at least a few times a week. I've gotten way off track here... The point is, Oberst is one of the website's founders, so... yeah

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