Toy Story 4
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Support Your Local Sheriff is the classic Western about a new guy in town with a dangerous quick draw, who tries to clean up the unsavory element and restore some order for the local people. However, it’s a hilarious comedy while telling that familiar tale, and that made it a delightful experience for me. I was so entertained by the movie, and had a lot of hearty laughs at the way it tells a classic story but with enough comedic twists to keep it light and fun. I appreciated that they never tried to go too dark either. Even the villains were kind of goofy, so you could get some good laughs at their expense. (Bruce Dern in particular, was hilarious.) The cast is astounding, and chock-full of character actors of that time period. James Garner is the lead, and I love how he plays the Sheriff. This kind of laid-back hero who always feels in control of every situation is one of my absolute favorite character types. He has a swagger because he can outgun any opponent, and it makes it fun to go on adventures with him. If I were to make any minor complaint it would just be the way the movie ends, as it feels a little anti-climactic and maybe a bit too convenient. The romance was also not the strongest element of the story, although it was good for a few hearty laughs. All of that is nitpicking, though, because I enjoyed just about every second of watching Support Your Local Sheriff. It is a movie that I will be adding to my collection at some point because I know I’ll want to watch it again.
Ouch, and I thought The Goonies was awful dreck given cult status by nostalgic 80s kids. Next to The Monster Squad, The Goonies is Casablanca. The story is horribly plotted, but needless to say it involves a squad of kids fighting monsters. There is no justification for just about anything that happens in this movie, and the behavior of most of the characters is utter nonsense. My favorite moment (in an ironic way) is when the little sister shows up and for some reason has made friends with Frankenstein’s monster off screen. You could look at just about every scene of this movie and attach the qualifier “for some reason” because trying to piece together the logic of this movie is impossible. It feels like a film that was written by a 10-year-old, and no adult even stepped in to offer suggestions on how to make it better. The mere fact that they literally call one character “Fat Kid” for most of the movie is proof enough that no one exerted any brain cells in the writing of the script. Even the monsters made by Stan Winston look bad. The only thing I remember from the ad campaign for this film was the infamous “Kick him in the nards!” scene, and now that I’ve seen it, I’d like to kick Shane Black and Fred Dekker in the nards for making it.
Super Cop feels like Jackie Chan’s version of a James Bond film. This was my first exposure to the Police Story series, and while I could tell there was some setup to the character prior to this film (mostly in his relationships with his girlfriend and boss) I never felt like I needed to see those movies to get on board with this one. And if this is like a James Bond film, it’s definitely in the vein of Roger Moore, because Jackie Chan embraces the merging of humor with the action. That’s fine by me, because I love having a laugh when I’m watching a movie of this type. There’s one thing that is undeniable when you watch Super Cop, and I already knew this from some of his American films, Jackie Chan is ridiculously likable and charming. He knows how to deliver a joke, and he can kick butt a few seconds later. One smile is enough to make anyone want to befriend him, and to make them completely forget how dangerous he can be in a fight. That combination perfectly fits the kind of undercover agent he plays in this film. Jackie’s counterpart for most of Super Cop is another undercover agent played by Michelle Yeoh. She is intimidating, and is just as dangerous as Jackie with her martial arts skills. A lot of people praise Tom Cruise for how much he does his own stunts, and they seem to forget people like Chan and Yeoh were doing the same thing decades ago. There are so many dangerous stunts in this film, and almost every time they’d zoom in on the face so you could see that the actors themselves were doing it. The one downside to all this fun humor and action is that the story at the core of it doesn’t make for the strongest plot. The plans of the criminals are convoluted and confusing at best. This is also something that reminds me of James Bond because many villain plots are nonsensical in those films. And just like with 007, I didn’t care all that much. I knew who was good, I knew who was bad, and I knew I wanted the good guys to beat up the bad guys. Super Cop is an enjoyable romp, and one that makes me want to catch up on all the other movies in the Police Story series.
The Raid is a movie about a SWAT team that goes on a mission to infiltrate an apartment complex controlled by a drug dealer. This ultimately proves to be a dangerous, possibly suicidal mission for them all. It is very light on plot, because other than one kid who’s new to the team and his connection with someone in the building, there isn’t much to the story beyond what I described. However, the movie isn’t all about story, it’s all about action. The Raid moves at a break-neck pace, as we are bouncing from one brutal Kung Fu fight to the next. The fight choreography is stellar, and Iko Uwais is a force to be reckoned with. I appreciate that he was powerful in a fight, but it also felt like he was fallible and might not survive, so there was always a risk factor. The other actor who stood out was Yayan Ruhian who plays a ruthless killer nicknamed Mad Dog. His intensity was a sight to behold, and he almost sold me on the tired cliché of a man who wants to kill with his bare hands even when he has someone dead to rights with a gun. It seems somewhat obvious that Alex Garland cribbed some things from this film when he wrote the screenplay for Dredd that came out the following year. Both have a similar setup, but I actually preferred what Dredd did slightly more. I thought that film utilized the setting and had better variety in the threats they faced. While the fights in The Raid are awesome, it is almost all a flurry of punches and kicks which can start to feel like you’re watching a video game instead of a film with a story. It’s a great game, though. My only other complaint with The Raid is the ending. I was hoping for a satisfying conclusion to wrap it all up, or a surprising reveal that changed the nature of the entire film. It didn’t deliver on that, instead it was a fairly straightforward ending and a somewhat bland send-off for our heroes. But none of my problems with the film were significant because the movie accomplished what it was aiming to do. The Raid is a thrilling film that takes you on a brutal journey and leaves you practically out of breath at the end, as if you had been involved in some of the action too.
The Apple is a film that has more ideas than it can handle. Out of every scene is bursting another crazy metaphor or goofy song. It is as if Menahem Golan was high on drugs from the moment he conceived of this story, and never stopped until they released the final cut of the film. There’s almost a coherent plot under all the wackiness, but the world it takes place in never attains any coherence. It’s not even subtle in the way the film attempts to reference the Bible, but it’s like they just took a few key stories from scripture and jumbled them together to make a hodgepodge of nonsense. The structure of the film is a mess, and that lead to a lot of confusion on my part as I was trying to figure out what was going on and why I should care. The way the world works in The Apple is also inconsistent. Some scenes are in this futuristic chrome-covered world of rock-and-roll (that looks like it was filmed in an airport,) and others are just normal neighborhoods with people wearing average 70s clothes. Sometimes they enter strange dreamlike worlds of demons and people in crazy costumes, and other times it’s just a group of hippies in the park. I’m not entirely sure what Menahem Golan was intending with The Apple, because at times it’s so campy that it seems ridiculous to think he wanted this to be taken seriously. While I’ve never been a firm believer in the concept of movies being “so bad they are good,” I must admit that The Apple is kind of enjoyable because it is so terrible. I was laughing a number of times at the insanity that was unfolding before my eyes. It’s also worth admitting that I found most of the music thoroughly entertaining. The tunes were memorable and the singing was decent. I am almost tempted to seek out the soundtrack. Most of the acting performances were comically bad, most notably George Gilmour. He is so out of his element acting that I can see why this is his only film credit. But I have to commend Vladek Sheybal for chewing up the scenery as Mr. Boogalow. It appears that he knew his performance needed to go over-the-top, so he dials it all the way up to 10. I can’t say that I liked The Apple, because I much prefer films with a cohesive plot. But if I’m going to watch a movie that makes no sense, I will gladly take one that is humorously bad over one that takes itself too seriously.