This is a new weekly feature that I'll be doing throughout September - if I even make it that far. The point of this experiment is to force myself to watch movies I probably wouldn't normally sit through, and also to support my local Mom and Pop video store. What this entails is that I go to the video store, walk up to a specific section, and pick a movie off the shelf without looking. I grab a total of five movies from different sections, and then I watch and review them.
The rules are:
1. I can put a movie back if I've already seen it.
2. I can put a movie back if it's a sequel to a movie I've never seen.
3. I can opt to put all five movies back on the shelves and grab another batch, but I can only do this once per trip.
HERE WE GO.
SPACE COWBOYS (2000)
I'm not as up-to-speed on Clint Eastwood's filmography as I probably should be, be it films he acts in or directs. Even when it comes to my "Clint checklist", though, SPACE COWBOYS isn't a movie I had planned on ever seeing anytime soon. I'm inclined to gravitate more towards his genre films and pretty much anything he made between the 60s and early 90s as opposed to his more mainstream works. That said, I'm really glad I ended up watching SPACE COWBOYS, and I probably wouldn't have watched it had it not been for this random rental experiment. The chemistry between Clint and Tommy Lee Jones in particular is excellent, but the film as a whole is highly enjoyable and well-made.
SPACE COWBOYS tells the story of estranged friends and former Air Force test pilots who reunite as old men to get sent into space and repair a Russian satellite. The NASA guy in charge of the operation specifically seeks out Clint Eastwood's character, who was initially responsible for designing some of the satellite's now dated technological gizmos. Eastwood, though at odds with the NASA guy because of their history together, agrees to do the job, but only if he can "get the team back together." What we get with SPACE COWBOYS is a story about friendship and mortality set against the backdrop of space exploration, but it's written so well that it's able to mash-up all of these different elements without ever taking away from what matters most: the characters. SPACE COWBOYS is a comedy and, at times, a tearjerker, but it also turns into a legitimately thrilling Sci-Fi film when it's all said and done. The film really does an excellent job of covering a lot of ground in its two-hour running time. With the cast involved and Eastwood in the director's chair, I expected this to be a great film, but I was still pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. There's some suspension of disbelief required when it comes to the main characters, but they're such a joy to watch that it doesn't matter.
THE MESSENGERS (2007)
2007? This is a lot newer than I thought. For whatever reason, THE MESSENGERS eluded me when it first came out, and then I just lost interest altogether after a while. I did see the sequel, though, because there's a killer scarecrow in it. It's terrible. Anyway, in THE MESSENGERS, a family moves into an old farmhouse and slowly unravel the home's tragic history as the film progresses. A few things are established right away, namely the intensity of the hauntings, as evidenced through a flashback scene (black and white to indicate that it was many years ago of course), and the fact that there's something going on with the family's daughter (Kristen Stewart) that caused them to move out of the city and into the country.
DEJA VU (2006)
FRINGE before there was a FRINGE, yo. It's a police procedural kinda film with a crazy Sci-Fi/Time Travel twist. It goes without saying that this film defies logic, but it's played in a very straight manner. Personally, I can't decide if this is a good Sci-Fi/Action film or a trainwreck of a Mystery/Thriller. Whatever the case, I have mixed feelings about it. Technically it's good. There's a skilled director and a talented cast involved. It doesn't feel "lazy" by any means. But, the concept, the film's style, and the Michael Bay-esque camera work and editing didn't exactly dazzle me.
THE PROMISE (2005)
CROUCHING TIGER period Fantasy/Action film. It's a tad confusing as far as the characters and their individual allegiances and motivations, but the gist of it is that it's about a love triangle involving a cursed concubine, an Army general, and a loyal slave. I knew jack shit about THE PROMISE going into it, as I've never been one to seek out these "epic" Chinese period films. That said, I wasn't prepared for how gorgeous this movie is. This is a beautiful-looking film from start to finish, regardless of the fact that a lot of the film is special effects and CGI rather than physical sets and whatnot. There was evidently a lot of imagination and creativity put into the design of the sets and costumes, and, at times, the film defies its modest budget in terms how grand it looks. Story-wise, though, I couldn't have been more indifferent towards what was going on. The awesome visuals are both a blessing and a curse here; the scenery is nice to look at, but the eye-candy overshadows the fairly generic story. Mind you, there's about 20 minutes that was cut out of the original version before it was released in North America, so it's quite possible that this could've hurt the film (or not), but it doesn't justify the silliness of the action scenes and how uninteresting some of the central characters are.
JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE (2006)
Ugh LOL. Let me start by saying that I'm not above teen comedies, sex comedies, romantic comedies, whatever. I do watch them on occasion, but this one just never appealed to me for whatever reason. But hey, I try to go into things with an open mind, and such was the case when it came to this film. At the very least, it stars Brittany Snow and Arielle Kebbel. I like Snow in what I've seen her in thus far, and I had a pretty short-lived crush on Kebell after I saw her as the older sister in the A TALE OF TWO SISTERS remake THE UNINVITED. So yeah, there's that. However, the PG-13 rating eliminated any chances of seeing some side boob from either of them at the very least LOL! Whatevs.