The Shapiro Files

Monday, February 27, 2006

Netflix Weekend Wrap-Up #5

Previous installments: #1, #2, #3, #4

With the Olympics, the return of 24 and American Idol, a busy period at work, and parenting-related responsibilities (the most important of all), our Netflix queue hasn't gotten much attention lately. But I did manage to squeeze in two movies over the past month all the same. Although I didn't actually see these films over the past weekend, I'm going to cheat and still make these movies the subject of my latest weekend wrap-up entry anyway!

For my first Netflix Weekend Wrap-up entry, I shared my thoughts on The Island, a sci-fi/action movie with a great premise but which ultimately failed pretty miserably. Shortly after seeing it, I learned that it was largely derivative of two films from the 70's that are both about controlled societies of the future and the attempt to escape from them. And yes, now that I've seen them, I agree that The Island "borrowed" (stole?) a great deal from both.


Logan's Run (1976) - A very dated, but still enjoyable look at a society of the future in which its members aren't allowed to live past their 30th birthday. Sure the special effects are cheesy (something that never bothers me when watching older films...are you listening George Lucas?!) and some of the supporting actors are quite wooden in their acting, but Michael York makes the most with his material. The film overstays its welcome after a while and its episodic nature can be a little tiresome. Still, the film has some good moments and an especially intriguing premise. Not a bad "old school sci-fi" rental. My Netflix rating: 3 stars

THX 1138 (1971) - George Lucas' very first feature film. Similar to Logan's Run, THX is about a controlled society of the future. But whereas the world of the former film is downright hedonistic, the world of THX is bleak and sterile. Society members are kept sedated by drugs, spirituality has been replaced by mechanized confession booths encouraging visitors to "buy more, buy more," and all physical manifestations of love are illegal. This is a very dark look at the future indeed, and like all good movies about the future, it's really about us today. Unfortunately, George Lucas has once again felt the need to dress up one of his early films with modern CGI additions that I found completely unnecessary and distracting. The film's aesthetic is a low-budget minimalism that works very well. So the CGI additions are especially pointless and took me out of the film every time. But despite the annoying CGI retouching (plus a slightly hokey ending), THX 1138 is still a very good piece of work and arguably George Lucas' best film. My Netflix rating: 4 stars

9 Comments:

  • Well, I liked "The Island". :P

    Another heavy influence is Michael Crichton's "Coma". It's a book and movie about a hospital where they kill some patients in order to harvest and sell their organs.

    By Anonymous David Scott, at 2/28/2006 11:32 AM  

  • That's right, I remember you mentioning Coma. I remember that when I was a kid, pretty much all my friends' parents were reading that book, so I was always seeing it in different people's living rooms. My parents read it too. And then in the 80's, just about every time I went to a used book store, it was always in the extra-discount section due to a surplus of copies. :)

    In all events, I'll definitely check it out. Do you recommend I read the book first, or is the movie a reasonably good adaptation?

    (By the way, I did like the first 30 minutes of The Island!)

    By Blogger Steve Shapiro, at 2/28/2006 3:12 PM  

  • Steve -

    Coma...go with the book!

    Almost all Michael Crichton books were terrible on the big screen...ie. sphere, coma, congo...all great books..disastrous movies...

    I loved Jurrasic Park in both forms though!

    Bradley
    The Egel Nest

    By Blogger Bradley Egel, at 2/28/2006 8:25 PM  

  • Thanks for the info, Brad! I'll pick up a copy.

    And speaking of film adaptations of Michael Crichton novels, I'm a huge fan of director Robert Wise's film The Andromeda Strain from 1971. It's a beautifully filmed (only see it if you can get it in widescreen letterbox) and wonderfully acted example of how a disease outbreak movie can be thrilling but not cheesy. It may not be for the impatient, as it's quite long and slow-moving, but I think it's certainly worth the wait. The quiet tension just keeps building until the end. Great stuff.

    By Blogger Steve Shapiro, at 2/28/2006 10:36 PM  

  • Steve -

    I liked the Andromeda Strain book...I will try and get a hold of the movie...

    I just watched the movie 11:14 which you had mentioned in a previous time-looping post.

    Steve...bad movie...not orignal..bad acting except for a few minor exceptions...just bad...

    predictable and bad...

    Phooey!


    Bradley
    The Egel Nest

    By Blogger Bradley Egel, at 3/01/2006 7:21 AM  

  • Did you see the short film 11:14 or the feature-length made-for-TV version? There's a HUGE difference between the two. Although it's been years since I've seen it, I think I can safely say only the short film is worth seeing.

    By Blogger Steve Shapiro, at 3/01/2006 8:44 AM  

  • It was the full length feature with Hillary Swank, Patrick Swayze, and Rachel Leigh Cook...

    Thank god for Rachel Leigh Cook in her mini plaid skirt...it was the only worth while think watching in the movie.

    :)


    Bradley
    The Egel Nest

    By Blogger Bradley Egel, at 3/02/2006 11:00 AM  

  • I'm relieved it was the full-length version. For a moment there, I thought we were living in two different universes! :) I've heard it was pretty bad, but have never seen it. The short film, on the other hand, is quite good and I'm sure it's a world apart from the TV movie. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, despite being nominated for an Oscar, the original short film has never found its way to a DVD and hasn't played on cable TV in years. Bummer.

    By Blogger Steve Shapiro, at 3/02/2006 11:13 AM  

  • OH WAIT A MINUTE!! I just realized we're talking about two COMPLETELY different things. The short film (and lackluster made-for-TV movie) was called 12:01! The film 11:14 is something completely different! I don't know how I missed that the first time.

    But yes, I actually DID see 11:14 (rented from Netflix) several months ago and didn't think much of it one way or the other. It was really more of an exercise in style than in substance. I probably didn't dislike it as much as you, but I certainly understand where you're coming from.

    In all events, 11:14 has NOTHING to do with either the Oscar-nominated 12:01 short film or the feature-length version of the same thing.

    Glad that's cleared up!

    By Blogger Steve Shapiro, at 3/02/2006 11:33 AM  

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