0080 – Stephen King’s It Review


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The Hunt for Red October (1990)


My Morse is so Rusty, I Could Be Sending Him Dimension on Playmate of the Month

Leave it to my friend Forty to actually request my review of a good movie.  One of the first, to my recollection.  In all honesty, I don’t really mind watching bad movies most of the time because I tend to find them amusing.  But, every once and a while, I should probably be asked to watch a good one so I don’t kill myself or simply die from From Justin to Kelly-related aneurisms.  Forty’s movie request was for a classic movie that – as with many classically awesome movies – had eluded me thus far, but it is a movie I wanted to see at some point.  And now I have.  I’m talking about The Hunt for Red October, based on a Tom Clancy novel, directed by John McTiernan, and starring Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery, Sam Neill, Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones, Stellan Skarsgard, Tim Curry, Joss Ackland, Courtney B. Vance, Jeffrey Jones, and Fred Dalton Thompson.

Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) brings some pictures of a new fancy submarine to CIA operative Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin).  With the help of submarine expert Skip Tyler (Jeffrey Jones), they figure out that this picture is of a spankin’ new Typhoon-class submarine with a propulsion system called a “Caterpillar Drive” that makes sonar detection extremely difficult, allowing it the potential to get all up in America’s Kool-Aid without even knowing the flavor, and even boil that Kool-Aid with nuclear warheads.  This submarine is called the Red October.  At first, the Joint Chiefs of Staff wet themselves, but then Jack Ryan poses the possibility that the prestigious commander of the Red October, Marko Alexandrovich Ramius (Sean Connery), may want to defect.  The Joint Chiefs give Ryan 3 days to confirm Ramius’ intentions.  The Russians are after him to destroy him before the American’s get their new sub, the Americans are after him to stop him from possibly launching nukes at them, and Ryan’s after him to find out what he’s up to.  Thus begins the hunt for the Red October.

I feel like I’m one of the last people around to reach this conclusion but, here it goes: fuck this movie.  Just kidding, Forty!  This movie rules!  I haven’t always seen eye to eye with this Tom Clancy feller.  Some of his games got way more popular than I felt they warranted, and I’ve heard mixed reviews about some of his other movies, though I don’t know that I’ve seen any of them.  I had worried that, as is the case in some of his video games, I would think they were overrated.  But nay!  This is a good movie.  His story works really well, especially with how well-executed it is.  Most of the story of this movie is just about Ramius’ intentions, stretched into a little over 2 hours.  It’s not until around the last 20 minutes of the movie when you are actually sure of what his actual intentions are.  There are times when you’re sure he’s going to defect, other times when you know he wants to hijack the Red October and blow up America to start a war, and other parts where you have no idea.  And, seeing as the movie takes one idea and stretches it over 2 hours, you’d think it’d get really boring.  I don’t recall being bored at all in this movie.  From the start of the movie the tension builds as different groups get closer and closer to the Red October until the end where it just climaxes all over the audiences faces.  …EWWWWWWW!

There is quite the cast to this movie, as you may have gathered from the long list in the opening paragraph.  Alec Baldwin, still young and handsome, tore it up in this movie.  I never really believed Sean Connery’s accent was Russian, but he was a badass.  One of our first scenes with the guy shows him killing a fellow officer with extreme prejudice and the corner of a table.  He also had one of the best lines in the movie, involving how things react to bullets.  He had a smaller part in this, but I found myself watching Sam Neill more than anyone else in the movie for some reason.  He was a strong character that opened up to Ramius with some kind of sweet and innocent intentions about his new life in America if their defection works out.  I sure hope that works out for him.  I liked Courtney B. Vance as the really good sonar guy; like the action movie version of Harland Williams from Down Periscope.  Joss Ackland was pretty good as well, but I could not see him as anything but DeNomolos from Bill & Ted.  Though I’m usually excited to see him, I was extra excited to see Stellan Skarsgard in a good movie that came out long before I knew he existed, and he was also excellent, if under-used.  The entire cast was great, so I won’t waste more time just saying that.  Take actors name and add “was really good” to the end.

So there you go, Fortissimo.  Good story, great thrills, excellent tension, top notch performances.  This here is the recipe for a good movie.  You’ve probably already seen this movie, so I’m telling you that you should watch it again.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I can’t yell at you because I just saw it myself, but now I’ve seen it so it’s only a matter of time before I’m allowed to yell at you for not watching a really good action-thriller.  The Hunt for Red October gets “Some things in here don’t react well to bullets” out of “And I will have a pickup truck”.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Stephen King’s It (1990)


There’s Something Terribly Wrong Here In Derry

It has been a long time since I watched It, and it’s been a long time since I started It. October Horror-thon continues with a movie that I had no idea was actually BOTH sides of the disc it came on. I went in thinking I would rewatch a movie that was only an hour and a half, but it turned out to be double that. But Stephen King movies can tend to be pretty long. I’m pretty sure I’ve sat through The Stand too. This isn’t nearly as long as that, but it is surely an investment. Today’s movie is the classic Stephen King movie (that is apparently a 2-part TV movie turned one long movie), It, directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, written by Stephen King, and starring Tim Curry, John Ritter, Annette O’Toole, Richard Thomas, Harry Anderson, Tim Reid, Dennis Christopher, Richard Masur, and Michael Cole, and the 1960’s versions of the same characters being played by Tim Curry again, Brandon Crane, Emily Perkins, Jonathan Brandis, Seth Green, Marlon Taylor, Adam Faraizl, Ben Heller, and Jarred Blancard. Thems is some cast.

In the beginning, a young girl is riding a tricycle until her mother tells her to come inside. As she’s heading inside, she sees a clown in her mother’s hanging laundry. By the way, does anyone use laundry lines anymore? Probably just the deep south. Well anyways, when the mother comes back outside, the girl is apparently dead. We don’t see it, so we can hardly be sure. Mike Hanlon (1990 = Tim Reid, 1960 – Marlon Taylor) finds out about the murder and realizes that something he and his friends dealt with in their past has returned and is killing kids, so they have to deal with it because they promised each other 30 years earlier. These friends were a bunch of misfits that came together to form what they called “The Losers Club” (which is a much worse name than the Breakfast Club) and was comprised of Bill (1990 = Richard Thomas, 1960 = Jonathan Brandis), Beverly (1990 = Annette O’Toole, 1960 = Emily Perkins), Richie (1990 = Harry Anderson, 1960 = Seth Green), Eddie (1990 = Dennis Christopher, 1960 = Adam Faraizl), Ben (1990 = John Ritter, 1960 = Brandon Crane), Stan (1990 = Richard Masur, 1960 = Ben Heller), and Mike. And I am so happy that I got having to type all of those names out of the way. The remainder of the movie is told jumping back and forth between 1990 and 1960, so I will do my best to summarize.

As Mike calls each of his friend, we catch a piece of what brought them together and what brought them to the problem they must return for. The fat kid is bullied and has no friends until he comes across the stutterer and the asthmatic and they resolve to build a dam for some reason. (By the way, I’ve lost interest in trying to find what their names are, so this is how I will refer to them from now on). The fat kid gets a crush on the girl and introduces her to the group, then they are joined by the comedian (which I say because “the funny one” would indicate that his comedy was funny) and the boyscout. Later on the black one joins. Each one of the Losers encounter a monster that usually comes in the shape of a clown that introduces itself as Pennywise (Tim Curry), but they call It (I will call it Pennywise because It may get confusing). Pennywise kills the stutterer’s little brother and a couple other kids around town. After each of the Losers has encountered Pennywise on their own, they resolve they must destroy it. They manage to damage Pennywise before he escapes, and the group file that under “Good Enough”, but promise to return if it should ever return. They then forget all about the situation until the grown up black one calls them about Pennywise’s return. The group must reunite to take out Pennywise once and for all … except for the boyscout. He kills himself instead.

Oh my Odin! Has any one movie caused me to write so much description before I get to the review? Because it took me so long, I’ll just say “fuck this movie” and call that a review …

…You still here? Okay, I’ll review it. Disregard the “fuck this movie”. It was said out of frustration and I didn’t mean it. This movie is solid, but it has certainly lost something with the combination of time and the fact that I didn’t realize it was a made for tv movie so I expected more for the budget. Best I can tell, this movie is about fear and not letting it run your life. When they’re kids, their fear is in their imagination and no one can see the effects Pennywise has except the kids. That same fear haunts them still into adulthood and has left them not at their best. The fat kid is an alcoholic, the girl is in an abusive relationship, the asthmatic is still a virgin, the boyscout kills himself at the mere mention of Pennywise, the black one is still black, and the stutterer has basically turned into Stephen King. The comedian, however, is way more successful than the quality of his humor should justify. Once they conquer their fear, their lives take a turn for the better. I would say that the resolution could have been better, though. You would assume that conquering their fears would just involve them deciding they are no longer afraid and Pennywise no longer has any power over them, and then simply fades away. Instead, conquering their fears takes the form of beating the shit out of a giant, fake-y spider with their bare hands and feet. I guess the message still remains.

This movie had it’s fair share of cliche’s though. The fat kid who is new to school gets picked on by the most classic greaser gang I’ve ever seen since Indiana Jones 4 (and, just as cliched, the fat kid manages to find the ability to beat up his bully). And what’s that little greaser shit’s problem? When fatty first shows up, he openly mocks the kid in class. Fatty just sits down and does nothing to him, but the greaser gets all mad at fatty when the teacher punishes him. Fatty ain’t done nothing to you. You should’ve waited until there wasn’t a teacher directly in front of you to mock him if you didn’t want to get in trouble so bad. This greaser was also a racist, so of course they pick on the black kid as well. It made me laugh when they were chasing him, though. You honkeys can’t catch the black man. That’s just genetics. Man, I am going to convince the world that I’m a racist in this one review, aren’t I? They also have a building montage when the kids make their little dam, and not much is more cliched than a montage. Also, is every visiting businessman Japanese? How many times has a business person had to deal with a group of visiting businessmen in movies and almost every time they’re Japanese. I’m sure other places have businesses. They did do one thing that broke from norms when they all tested each other to see who was the best shot with the slingshot and the girl won, probably because all of the boys couldn’t see and/or count. When they were shooting at the bottles, they said she got 10 out of 10, but I’m pretty sure I counted 6. I understand the need to have a girl in the group so as not to seem sexist, but this chick is stringing along the fat one while having a crush on the stutterer, though she will openly kiss any of the other ones right on the mouth. These boys probably ran a train on this girl in the college years. Except for the asthmatic. VIRGIN!

There were a lot of things to this movie that didn’t work for me. For instance, should the person that stutters really be trying to finish people’s sentences so much? You can’t even finish your own! When the girl has had enough of her abusive boyfriend, she starts throwing things from her counter at him. She hits him with heavy glass items, metal items, but what takes him down? The plastic cream container. And when Pennywise is trying to lure fatty into the sewers by turning into fatty’s deceased father, why would he turn back to the creepy clown instead of staying in the form of his dad until he got into the sewers? Didn’t think that one out, did ya Pennywise? The giant creature that Pennywise has turned into at the end of the movie is really obviously superimposed, but when I found out this was a made for TV movie from 1990, I had to give it a pass. What I refuse to give a pass is the gigantic problems with these kid’s imaginary problems. I swear it took me until the second disc – one and a half hours in – to realize that only the kids could see the blood coming out of the sink, or the balloons that burst and sprayed blood, or the blood coming out of the photo album of the stutterer’s little brother. I assumed that it was a Freddy Krueger type thing where the parents acted like nothing was happening because it would go away if you ignored it. And, when I had finally figured out that only the kids could see it, they did the scene in the library where the blood-filled balloons burst in people’s faces but they all obviously flinched.

Then we come to the performances. The only thing I liked about most of the performances was getting to see Seth Green from way back when and getting to remember who Jonathan Brandis was. That guy was the biggest thing back in the day. Whatever happened to him. …Oh. Hanged himself? Pennywise must’ve come back… Um…Seth Green, everybody! I love Robot Chicken! Most of the performances of the kids were solid. I don’t expect much from child actors, generally. I don’t think all of them need to be a Fanning or something. I did have problems with the adults though. At least in the first disc, most of the adult characters were needlessly hamming it up. Except Ritter. Ritter was the fuckin’ BOSS! I miss that dude… Damnit, Robert! Stop with the deaths and sadness! Ritter was very good though. Harry Anderson’s comedian character got on my nerves. As a kid, I accepted it. That was either because I like Seth Green or because kids think they’re funny but they’re not. His humor didn’t really evolve much into adulthood and he just served to grate on my nerves. Tim Curry kind of hammed it up as well, but he was playing a clown, so I called it appropriate. And, of course, he was pretty damned unsettling as well, but when ISN’T Tim Curry unsettling. I figure Pennywise is the reason some people are afraid of clowns. On the negative side, the character occasionally reminded me of Freddy Krueger in that he was a killer that made lots of lame jokes while trying to be scary, and I don’t appreciate being forced to remember Freddy.

Damn. That review was almost as long as the movie. I feel like I should throw in right now that I would not consider myself a racist or a sexist, so if you could take those comments above with a grain of salt, it would be appreciated. I can’t really filter something I think is funny. As for the movie, it’s really long and just barely worth the time. The story is alright, the meaning is good, most of the performances are tedious, and a lot of things don’t make sense. It’s not horrible, but there are better ways to spend almost 3 hours. I’ll give this movie “They all float down here” out of “Want a balloon?”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!