I should probably mention right away that I have accumulated a lot of random movies over the last few months that I need to catch up on. These range from animated films, to Japanese horror, to highly controversial Italian directors, to the mesmerizing Mulholland Dr.
1. The Omen (the original)
So around Halloween, Best Buy was advertising The Omen boxset for about $10 and it included 4 movies (the original, its two sequels, and the 2006 remake). Surprisingly, I had never actually seen the original, or any of its sequels for that matter. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, as horror movies are often built up to be these immeasurably terrifying and horrible films that will scar you for the rest of your life. The Omen is actually quite good–aside from its noticeably dated special effects and outrageousness.
Apparently Gregory Peck (you know, Atticus Finch) came out of retirement to be in this movie of all things. He owns it though, as the “adopted” father of the antichrist (Damien, played by the horribly creepy Harvey Spencer Stephens). After having his own son die in the childbirth, he is given the opportunity to have a son since the mother of another son born at the exact same time dies. That, of course, does not bode well for just about every person in this film.
While relying more on suspense, mystery, and shocks rather than the constant horror scenes of its closely-related predecessor, The Exorcist, The Omen is pretty solid. It has fine acting, an intriguing premise, and firmly adds itself to my list of movies to watch come Halloween.
2. Moonrise Kingdom
I feel like this, of all Wes Anderson movies other than my favorite (The Darjeeling Limited) just does not get enough recognition as it deserves. Sure, The Grand Budapest Hotel was justly that, a grand, big movie. Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore have crept their way into a fair amount of film lists highlighting them as important, hilarious films. But Moonrise and Darjeeling just don’t get talked about enough.
Moonrise Kingdom is just about as close as we can get to a “typical” romance movie as we can get when it comes to Anderson–and its about two kids. It isn’t so much of a romance in that the two kids (played marvelously by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) know exactly what they’re doing–they don’t. They’re two, first-time lovers, and Anderson is most concerned with that feeling. He spends the film crafting what would be one of those fantasies any little boy and girl think up when they develop their first major crush–running off into the woods away from their families, pitching a tent, dancing on the beach, sharing their first kiss. It’s all about the feeling, and Anderson creates it how he normally does–through a cast of unrealistically real characters who are from from anything you’d likely run into on the street, yet they somehow help convey real emotions.
It is more intimate and personal than just about anything Anderson has done, because we can all relate to it. We’ve all had crushes, and we’ve all been hopeless romantics at some point or another–let Anderson remind you of that.
3/5. How to Train Your Dragon 1+2
While Pixar gets most–if not all–of the recognition for its animated films, Dreamworks actually should get far more than it deserves. With films like Shrek (I mean, come on), Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and these two (perhaps their best) excellent movies, Dreamworks might have their fair share of duds–but they also can really work some magic.
Like their other films, Dreamworks introduces us to a lovable cast of unforgettable, weird, and loyal characters who bring to life the world of Berk, a Viking city that wants nothing to do with dragons. But, after Hiccup befriends a dragon he shot down, named Toothless, we get the tried-but-true trope of accepting others into a community despite not actually understanding them to the full extent (sound familiar, America?) and things flourish. If one were to look at this series as a three-act story (since they are releasing the third film in 2018), then one can really get an idea of a grand heroes journey of growing up, accepting others, and learning to be ok with yourself.
The first film introduces us to the world, gives us characters, establishes relationships. It’s wonderful, funny, and heart-warming. There are some truly amazing spectacles to behold in the first film, especially the final battle scene. The second film builds on everything the first did so well, and introduces us to villains as it shows that their little community is far from being the only one in the world. Which means the third one must have to do with learning how to be a part of the global community of dragons, humans, and everything else. It is a remarkable progression, especially if you look at not only the stunning animation in the sequel, but also just how real and human these animated, over-the-top vikings are. Sign me up for the third part…and get me a dragon, please.
4. X-Men: First Class
I remember seeing this in theaters back when it came out in 2011, but I can’t quite remember the trailers and buildup for it. This is probably owed to the dismal Last Stand and Wolverine film that came between the stunning X2. Nevertheless, going back to the origins and showing us how most of the characters came to be was a brilliant, fun, and exciting journey that feels almost Shakespearian in terms of its tragic moments and character motivation. The cast is great as well, with James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and so many others, it is a remarkable feat to get all of these now-big stars into one film and not have it collapse under the weight of their stardom. As far as prequels go, this one is one of the best, and its sequel (which I will also be getting to) is even better.
I don’t really have any sort of order that I will be watching all of these movies that I picked up, and there will surely be some random ones that I end up watching, so bare with me and enjoy this journey through a bunch of (hopefully) great movies.