Wednesday, February 3, 2016

1983 Capsule Reviews

Return of the Jedi
rating: *****
review: Surprisingly, a lot of Star Wars fans think about this conclusion to the original Star Wars trilogy the way they do about the prequels, or possibly even The Force Awakens.  I've never understood that.  It's clearly the most '80s of the originals, full of action the way the previous two were filled with set-up and set pieces.  This is the payoff of the first two in every way, and wonderfully succeeds in my view.

Superman III
rating: ****
review: Honestly, the worst thing about this movie is Lana Lang's annoying kid Ricky.  Everything else is pretty awesome, including Richard Pryor's Gus Gorman, who's a heck of a lot better than Ned Beatty's Otis, just as Robert Vaughn's Ross Webster is a better Lex Luthor than Gene Hackman's...Heresy, I know.  And the internal conflict Superman faces is a lot more Superman than his external conflicts in the first two...I think this is one of those movies where people were so heavily invested in the previous installments that they can't allow themselves to see it for what it is.  It doesn't help that this is pretty close to what an adaptation of an actual comic book would have looked like at that time.

rating: ***
review: Al Pacino became such a polarizing figure around this time, it was no doubt because he dared to break the method formula and thrust himself fully into a cartoon role, another stark contrast between the '70s and '80s in prime display.

Monty Python's Meaning of Life
rating: ***
review: I think this one's disappointing only in the sense that after two complete movies, the boys went back to what they'd been doing in a TV series that at that point was kind of beside the point for anyone but diehards.  Otherwise it's a regular hoot.

Trading Places
rating: ***
review: Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy in a movie they both had to make to legitimize their movie careers, kind of exactly what Bill Murray ended up specializing in about a decade later.  The problem is they kept going for easier material until it was too late, and so here we are today, with one of them still showing up regularly, and the other two struggling away.

The Right Stuff
rating: ***
review: I always want to like this one more, but the lack of a true lead makes it difficult.  Otherwise the kind of movie that needs to happen more often, but becomes increasingly rare.  We don't care enough about our own history, no matter how sensational.  Spectacle is now the stuff of fiction and tabloids.

Risky Business
rating: ***
review: Tom Cruise burst onto the scene.  But now it's about all there is to talk about, and pretty much boiled down to him dancing in his underwear.  It's really weird that he stopped trying to be likeable.

The Curse of the Pink Panther
rating: **
review: This was the first time anyone tried to find out if the franchise could work without Peter Sellers.  At this particular point...what's the point?

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