Tuesday, December 29, 2015

1981 Capsule Reviews

Superman II
rating: *****
review: How to improve on Christopher Reeve's original appearance?  Dip into the mythology and create an iconic version of a villain who until then had meant little, certainly as compared to Lex Luthor.  Terrence Stamp's Zod has inspired not only further comics appearances of the character, but other movie villains as well, including Marvel's Avengers' Loki  Even better?  The reconstructed Richard Donner cut from 2006.

rating: ****
review: Warren Beatty inexplicably lost most of his significance over the years, despite appearing in this sensational look at communism in America and how ideals usually become corrupted when carried out in less than ideal ways (in spite of Beatty's efforts, mind you).

History of the World, Part I
rating: ****
review: Mel Brooks suffered the same fate as Beatty, being taken less and less seriously over the years.  This was his madcap tour of history, with one of film's first teasers tacked on at the end (a fake one, mind you).  It's a wicked sendup of the historical epics that had been popular in Hollywood.  Maybe not as clever as Monty Python's similar efforts, but better than their movies that weren't.

Time Bandits
rating: ****
review: Not as memorable as his later efforts, but this is Terry Gilliam beginning to realize his potential post-Python. 

rating: ***
review: Ponderous historic epic of the new order, part of the vanguard that sought to match the Star Wars effect in different ways.  More interesting these days in spotting future stars (Liam Neeson! Patrick Stewart!) before anyone really knew who they were.

Clash of the Titans
rating: ***
review: Entertaining, to be sure, and the last great mark of a master (Ray Harryhausen), but there are inexplicably those who thought it couldn't be done better in 2010.

The Great Muppet Caper
rating: ***
review: It's no surprise that years later the Muppets had to stage a comeback when their early movies were more or less wacky Muppet adventures loosely strung together.  I'm sure I saw this when I was younger, but damned if I could remember any of it.

Raiders of the Lost Ark
rating: ***
review: This is one of those movie heresies I subscribe to, that...later Indiana Jones adventures were better.  This is his classic debut, of course.  I didn't grow up with it.  I suspect that's one of the reasons it's otherwise beloved.

The Fox and the Hound
rating: **
review: Disney started making endless streams of interchangeable animated flicks before the end-of-the-millennium renaissance.  This is another movie I'm sure I saw as a kid, but damned if I can remember anything.

rating: **
review: Bill Murray would have plenty of other chances to discover movies he could be proud to make.  This one isn't bad, but his choices got better.  Basically part of the whole wacky team genre that culminated in the Police Academy franchise.

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