Over at Alex on Film I just finished watching the trilogy of Robert Langdon films based on the novels of Dan Brown: The Da Vinci Code (2006), Angels & Demons (2009), and Inferno (2016). Since I can’t tell you what made the books so popular I sure can’t help with the movies. The weird thing is that they don’t even seem like good popcorn entertainment to me. They’re all very dull and talky, and despite throwing in so many highbrow references they’re unbelievably stupid. Is this the sort of nonsense people want to believe in? Yikes.

You talkin’ to me?

Over at Alex on Film I’ve posted my 100th movie quiz, which is also going to be my last for a while. It’s time to take a break. But I tried to celebrate the centenary in style by giving you a hundred films to identify. Plus you can always check out the quiz archive if you want to test yourself with some of the previous postings. They range in difficulty from the pretty easy to the nearly impossible.

Blockbusters then and now

Number one with a bullet.

Ranking the highest-grossing films of all time is a tricky business because a lot depends on what you include with the gross. Theatrical revenue only? Domestic and foreign? DVD sales? Television rights? Merchandising deals? Not to mention how you want to adjust the numbers for inflation.

By most rankings, however, Avengers: Endgame is near or at the top of the list. I just finished watching Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War over at Alex on Film, and in my notes I did a bit of musing about what the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe says about us.

But something else I found interesting when considering the different lists of box office hits was my own drift away from such fare. Gone With the Wind is a movie I’ve seen a number of times, and while I can’t say I really love it, it is a movie I find I can come back to. Same with Star Wars and Jaws. Titanic I can defend, but it’s not a movie I’d want to ever see again. Avatar I couldn’t sit through once. The rest of the comic book nonsense from the past decade that so dominates the “highest-grossing movies of all time” club bounces off me completely.

I’d just say this is because I’ve gotten old, but the thing is, these movies apparently appeal to older audiences as well. And while Star Wars and Jaws were certainly movies that had a big appeal among young people, I don’t find them as downright childish as the formula we get in Avatar or Endgame.

Childish and stupid. Let’s face it, these are dumb movies. They are effects extravaganzas, where you’re supposed to just turn your brain off and have a good time. There was always at least a little more going on in the blockbusters of thirty or forty years ago.

Two questions then. Will history judge us kindly, assuming movies as we know them have a future? And where do we go from here?

Evil in residence


One of many Alices. This time with two guns.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been grinding my way through the chaotic labyrinth that is the Resident Evil film franchise. As I point out in my notes, at some point writer-director Paul W. S. Anderson seems to have just started making things up as he went along. The results are disorienting, if not totally incoherent. Yes, it’s all a big video game, but even so these movies are crazy. Here’s the line-up:

Resident Evil (2002)
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

Hellboy goes to the movies

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the movies made out of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comic books (which I really like, though they get repetitive). The first two, by Guillermo del Toro, were both OK, aided by del Toro’s fandom and Ron Perlman’s rugged portrayal of the eponymous demon spawn. The 2019 reboot was not good, hamstrung by a chaotic plot and poor CGI. My sense is that Mignola’s Hellboy universe is just too large and sprawling for a movie (or even a series of movies) to try to encompass. The movies needed to be a little less ambitious, and, at least with regard to the reboot, less Marvelesque.

Dance, dance, die

Sussing things out.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching Suspiria then (1977) and now (2018). Dario Argento’s original is a classic and a movie I still enjoy. Luca Guadagnino’s version is terrible. I can appreciate that Guadagnino wanted to do something different, but I don’t think anything he did worked. What a shame. I had been really looking forward to it.