zustifer: (Beetlejuice: Barbara)
[personal profile] zustifer
Doctor Detroit (1983), Michael Pressman. Jan 1, 10:30pm. View count: One.
The Thing (1982), John Carpenter. Jan 3, 9:30pm; Jan 5, 9:30pm. View count: Two.

Doctor Detroit is a goony ("zany," as a weird/awesome IMDBer puts it -- first one on that page) little 80s Dan Aykroyd movie, full of camp. My favorite part was Dan Aykroyd's parents; they were the only transcendent component. Oh, also, I chose this movie to watch because it has, over its opening montage, the DEVO song of the same name. That was good too.

The Thing has some good content, although I allllmost feel that it's the stronger with this companion piece by Peter Watts.

I had some problems with it, though, and the name of the biggest problem is Kurt Russell. His action-hero style demeanor did not fit for me into what the director seemingly wanted, which was a more paranoid, human substrate. I don't blame Kurt Russell himself for this (especially since he apparently helped to come up with the ending, which I thought was fine), but Carpenter confirmed multiple times that he was supposed to be a 'reluctant' hero and leader. He wasn't that at all; he was just the guy who takes charge, never makes a wrong decision, and never looks back. Shoot an uninfected man in the face? That's just fine, he wouldn't want to ever have any emotions other than determination and maybe harriedness. He even throws some dynamite, runs maybe six steps maximum, and comes out of the ensuing explosion (that the crew had to use remote cameras for, it was too dangerous for humans to be there shooting) unscathed. The man never breaks Action Hero face, and that is the single most broken thing in the movie for me.

The second most broken thing is how the men don't have the sense god gave an end table, and show this by wandering off by themselves at the drop of a hat. There's a sop for this before the blood scene, but it should have been a factor long before and continued afterward. This picture should have had a not-inconsiderable chunk of its running time invested in sequences of everyone stuffed in one room staring at one another, getting tenser and tenser (said the tensor), because they didn't trust each other if they couldn't see them. I saw some shouting and some fighting, but I didn't really, really feel as much paranoia as I could have.

It's not a sucky movie, mind you, it's just not all it could have been. The effects generally had a lot of fun in them (the one I dislike the most is the tower of meat at the end, which was called out in the commentary as "last minute"), and I was convinced by the commentary track that the production was a real slog. They shot in Alaska and British Columbia, in real snowstorms (which seldom really made it onto the film, but, hey), with real singeing flares, not to mention in unheated sets (so the snow wouldn't melt). Everyone's clearly a champ for that. And all the acting was very good, the sets were lovely, and the dogs well-trained. This movie has especially fine explosions.

So, how about that prequel? Jeez.
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Karla Z

February 2012

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