Wedding Crashers (2005 - DVD)

Aside from the part where the annoying kid was yelling at Vince Vaughn over the balloon animals, I didn't enjoy this movie very much. The easiest thing for me to say is that I'm not the target audience for it...but I'm not real sure who is. At first, it seems like a "guy" movie, which I realize may not be for me, but I'd at least understand that. But then it becomes a weird rom-com, and I've never really been big on those, either, but neither would I think are people who like "guy" movies.

Part of the problem is that only the montage at the beginning is about crashing weddings. After that, Owen Wilson decides they have to go to a beach house owned by a politician (played by Christopher Walken in a role that doesn't make any use of his talents) because he's suddenly in love with the politician's daughter. Much of the rest of the movie plays out at the mansion where weirdness and homophobia, but far less humor abound, and where Vaughn and Wilson's characters take turns seeing who can be the bigger wet blanket. (Honestly, if I was Vaughn, I would've just left Wilson there, credo be damned.)

I'll admit the concept of two crass guys crashing these utterly decadent and wastefully extravagant rich people's weddings tickled a nerve with me, but the movie becomes so indulgent in its quest to make Wilson a romantic hero that this idea is quickly forgotten and replaced with an almost alarmingly out-of-place abusive boyfriend character (Bradley Cooper) that Wilson has to defeat and a cameo from Will Ferrell that seems to exist only to remind us that this was a comedy at one point.

Rating: 2/5

Zulu Dawn (1979 - Streaming Video)

A prequel to the critically-acclaimed 1964 film, Zulu, this movie was not as well-known and probably not as good. In 1879 South Africa, there's a huge army of Zulu people that the British government decides they don't want there. When the Zulu king refuses an order to disband his army (I'm wondering myself what exactly they were supposed to do - stop existing?), the British army invade Isandlwana and get their asses kicked. Like, severely kicked.

This is essentially a two-act movie: The first act is just the British army preparing for the battle, and the second act is the battle. It's not much of a story, and while it's based on actual historical events, some creative liberty is (as usual) applied, particuarly the scene where they're losing big time and all they care about is saving the British flag. There are many big-name stars (Peter O'Toole, Burt Lancaster, Bob Hoskins), but no characters that really stand out in any way.

However, I won't discredit that the battle scenes, which employ thousands of actual Zulus, are riveting. They certainly get the job done - showing how an army with sophisticated weaponry of the time was overwhelmed by people carrying more primitive spears and shields. But a movie needs to be more than a physical representation of an historical event. These scenes would've been better served had they been paired with a more thoughtful script that wasn't simply content to ride on the success of the first film.

Rating: 2.5/5

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Complete Series (2002 - DVD)

The feeling I got from the 2002 reboot of He-Man is that it is mostly a nostalgia-fest for those who were fans of the original 1980's series and would be satisfied in seeing all their favorite characters in action again. If that's all that matters, then this show is for you.

For everyone else... It may have helped if the writers had taken a look at some other action/adventure cartoons that have surfaced between the 80's He-Man and now, such as Disney's Gargoyles or Beast Wars Transformers, for some ideas on how to construct arching storylines and in-depth characterizations. Too many of these episodes still feel as much like toy commercials as the 80's series did. Especially glaring are not one, but two episodes that focus on He-Man and Skeletor getting a new set of battle armor, and the second one is so shoehorned in that the plot makes little sense. Even when they're not obviously toy commericals, many plots are predictably generic: Skeletor finds a new special power or comes up with a plan to attack Castle Grayskull, all of which end in failure.

Another problem is that the source material may just be too silly to ever take very seriously. I can't even figure out why He-Man's secret identity is necessary. To protect Adam's friends and family from Skeletor? Skeletor was already fighting Adam's friends and family long before Adam ever turned into He-Man (maybe even before he was born). It just isn't believable to me that a blonde guy with a green cat can run off, and then another blonde guy with a green cat can show up moments later, and nobody realizes they're the same.

I also find it outright strange that this show has "morals" that it expresses at the end of some episodes, yes, in homage to the original series, but its main lesson is that if a man (who is not related to you) and a strange woman tell you that you have to keep a secret from your parents, you should do as they say.

The animation and artwork isn't bad, but the colors are very drab and yellow/brown for much of the first half of the series, and they use a weird technique of showing a person in shadow by coloring him/her entirely gray. It's not always clear why there are two people standing next to each other and one is solid gray.

The series does pick up a bit when it introduces the Snakemen villains (whose leader bears such a strong resemblance to Dinobot from Beast Wars that I'm skeptical to think it's coincidence), but this new menace only takes the series so far before it starts to limp under the weight of its deus ex machinas again. Considering what he does to defeat their three-headed Snake God, one gets the feeling that nothing, not Skeletor or anybody, could ever pose any real threat to He-Man, so maybe it's for the best that the series ended right there.

Rating: 2.5/5



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