Movie Reviews - Four Movies For Dorks

This week we take time out from predicting the imminent decline and fall of Western civilization, and present some movie reviews. The movies below are all low-budget movies that are surprisingly entertaining, even if you're not a dork, and they all contain clues to hidden meanings that seem to have been missed by everyone else. The reviews below contain spoilers ... sort of.

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1. Thor: Hammer of the Gods

A trip to the hardware store to buy a hammer goes horribly wrong.

A group of Vikings land on an island only to find it inhabited by immortal wolf-like creatures who were originally fellow Vikings, and a sizzling Viking chick named Hel (Nicole Ennemoser).

When you're a post-iron-age people and all you have is a nail everything looks like a hammer, so Thor (Zachery Ty Bryan) takes the surviving members of his tribe in search of the biggest one on the island, Mjölnir. Mjölnir comes in handy when Thor meets Fenris, a giant CGI talking wolf, who speaks and sounds exactly like the talking horse in the 1966 sitcom Mister Ed. Fenris launches into his schtick, a series of talking horse impressions, so Thor whacks him repeatedly and well deservedly on the head with his giant rubber mallet, which is the only thing other than bad hay and bad ratings that can kill him.

Sadly, both Hel and Freyja (Melissa Osborne) as well as Thor's brother Baldur (Mac Brandt) also get killed in the struggle. In the end, the survivors get back on their ship and sail away, as the narrator Vali (George Zlatarev), evidently having bitten his tongue during the struggle, says “And tho, they thailed away from Midgard'th edge, each lotht in their own thilent contemplation. Though they'd won the day, they left more on that Isle than they'd taken.” Which consists mainly of one oversized rubber mallet and a firm resolve to find a hardware store closer to home.

As the ship departs, in the distance a faint voice can be heard on the island. I'm not 100% sure, but it sounds something like, “Cleanup is needed in the tools department. Limpieza es necesaria en el departamento de herramientas.” However, I could be mistaken about that.

2. King Kong

Why Hollywood should not make movies depicting firearms.

The theme of this movie is well known: a giant gorilla is kidnapped and taken to New York where he's prevented from snacking on Polynesians and becomes a Broadway star, but has difficulty adapting to the stresses of modern city life. But posters on right-wing websites pointed out many errors in the firearms depicted in this movie.

“The guys on Skull Island carried bolt action Mausers, Thompson .45ACP submachine guns, and the captain capped a native with a Navy Luger (long barreled Luger as compared to the short barreled P-08 luger used in most movies). There where probably .30 caliber machine guns on the planes. The U.S. soldiers in New York carried 1903 Springfields!”

Granted, most movie producers don't know one end of a firearm from the other. But as interesting as this particular poster's comments are, it's possible he was missing the point of the movie, which is that if you're used to eating Polynesians all day, a blonde can be a very dangerous item indeed. As for the Polynesians which are Kong's primary source of protein, well, getting eaten is part of their culture. Anyway, they'd have been eaten alive in New York, too.

3. 100 Feet

One of the better crazy lady movies.

This movie asks the question: what is a ghost? After being released from prison, Marnie Watson (Famke Janssen) is put under house arrest in Brooklyn by Shanks (Bobby Cannavale), her dead husband's cop partner. Shanks has ghosts of his own. But had Marnie really been abused as she claimed? Or is she just lying? In the real world, things are never 100% clear-cut. Whatever really happened, she is now tormented by the ghost of the man she murdered.

Her dead husband, Mikey, on the other hand, hates everything. He was a picky eater as a kid, and things just went downhill after he got married. And being dead sucks even worse. It's never stated how she killed him, but it's generally understood that it had something to do with soda and pop rocks.

As the movie progresses, Marnie is driven to hallucinations—she imagines cleaning her husband's blood off the wall, but it keeps coming back. She hears footsteps and gets mysterious bruises. Dishes fly through the air and get broken. Her garbage disposal magically starts up while she's cleaning it out. The pizza delivery boy mysteriously gets brutally murdered. Classic dissociative phenomena. But we view these events through the woman's eyes, so it's never clear whether they are the hallucinations of a dangerous schizophrenic, or whether there is really a 'ghost' doing these things. Throughout the movie, this ambiguity is used effectively to create tension.

Gradually her dead husband's partner starts to think she's not really “goin' nuts” and comes to believe in her innocence, and almost pays the ultimate price. If you ignore the movie's sympathetic portrayal of Marnie as a victim, and watch the movie as if it were a real story, it becomes even more of a horror story: she is a dangerous psychotic who gradually sucks those around her into her delusions, even to the point of actually seeing her ghosts. While this movie is often taken to be an ordinary if uninspired ghost story, it is actually a psychological thriller depicting a tormented person's struggle to escape her own evil past, shown from her point of view. Psychologically, we would say that her ghosts, as well as her actions (which include a second murder, which she blames on the ghost) result from her desire to transfer the responsibility of her actions onto her victims. I won't give away the ending, which is a bit disappointing. Let's just say Marnie probably won't be getting her security deposit back.

4. Collision Earth

The dangers of making your spaceships out of iron.

In this movie, the Sun, for no adequately explained reason, turns into a magnetar, causing it to suck a space shuttle, which is evidently made of iron, toward it. The shuttle, which handles more like an F-15 jet fighter than a space vehicle, manages to blast its way free, but one of the astronauts suddenly drops dead, apparently because of an excess of ferromagnetic material in his system. Meanwhile, huge chunks of the former planet Mercury, now highly magnetized, begin smashing into the Earth.

At this point in this movie, I suddenly felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out, “Jeezus, what a silly movie!” and were silent. But I soldiered on.

All over the country, cars spin around and begin pointing north. Mailboxes and manhole covers start flying through the air. All the metal objects in Seattle, Washington launch themselves skyward. Yes, Mercury has become a giant magnet and it's headed straight for Earth! And James, a scientist who was fired from a top-secret lab, and his astronomer friend Matthew, are the only ones who can stop it. Unfortunately, Matthew gets sucked into space as well, presumably because of some unfortunate childhood accident that left a metal plate in his head.

Also, the secret weapon James was planning to use develops a fault in its guidance system. But the space shuttle has a guidance system that will work. Alas, NASA has apparently been sucked into space as well, and Space Command is fixated on launching nukes. Everything depends on two college kids and their home-made vacuum-tube radio, which is so powerful it's able to communicate with the shuttle orbiting Mercury despite not being connected to an antenna. Alas, the transmitter breaks down.

The dork in me compels me to mention that the SWR mismatch caused by the lack of an antenna will always blow out your output RF amplifier. Even with a tube radio, you should always attach the antenna before trying to transmit. It also gives you a better range.

So the kids go in search of a radio part, while driving their un-sucked (aluminum?) car through a hail of now squashed and junked up Jeep Cherokees and Pontiacs that, apparently, did not quite achieve orbit earlier in the movie. Will the kids be able to find the vacuum tube they need to save the world? Maybe, but Earth's survival still depends on whether they remember to hook up their antenna this time. I'm not optimistic.

jan 27, 2013