I have a feeling that in America the version of The Unloved would be a lot more like something seen on Lifetime!
A whole lot of middling this week, and one unsung gem,
The Unloved (2009, Samantha Morton, United Kingdom) ***1/2
I was surprised to find out that The Unloved was a made for television movie. Now, I fully understand that in Europe the made for TV stigma doesn’t exist like it does here in the United States. However, The Unloved is very cinematic in its visuals and narrative structure. With her first feature Samantha Morton has made a languid and haunting film that is just as much about its visual starkness as it is about its characters loneliness. I came away from The Unloved mightily impressed with Miss Morton behind the camera, and the aims of the film. The Unloved is both a strike against the youth foster system in England and a startling reminder of how important a functional family unit is to a growing child. Hear me out though, I don’t mean exclusively a nuclear family unit, but rather a family that works, whether that is an extended family, a lone mother, a lone father, or whatever family unit one can posit. The Unloved is a beautiful film that avoids sentimentality and instead uses visuals and mood to create a sobering picture of lost youth.
Oz The Great And Powerful (2013, Sam Raimi, United States Of America) **1/2
There are times when Oz The Great And Powerful is gorgeous to look at. However, those moments are broken up by instances where the CG and the live action do not meld well in any way. There was a lot of, “Man, I can tell that James Franco is standing in front of a green screen and that his fingers are in no way touching the porcelain doll girl he’s supposedly holding.” There were also a ton of lady problems to be found in Oz The Great And Powerful. I don’t usually like pulling out the lady problem card, because to be honest I find that it’s often a misdirected criticism against a lot of films. However, in Ox The Great And Powerful every single female character is a vacuous being who exists for no purpose other than to love or hate a man. There’s no depth, no nuance to be found in the ladies in Oz The Great And Powerful, hence the massive lady problems the film contains. I did like some of the visuals, and I did enjoy Mr. Franco hamming it up, but ultimately I was disappointed that the film was so uneven and flat.
The Next Karate Kid (1994, Christopher Cain, United States Of America) *1/2
The Next Karate Kid was inoffensive enough, but man was it ever a slog to get through. I kept waiting for the film to get interesting, or crazy terrible, or something. I finally got my wish in the final twenty minutes when dudes bungee jumped into the middle of a school dance, monks went bowling, and Michael Ironside started telling high schoolers to kill other high schoolers. That shit was intense and so terribly awesome. The film before that final twenty minutes was essentially The Karate Kid, only not as interesting and kind of boring.
Teen Wolf (1985, Rod Daniel, United States Of America) **1/2
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s clear from the start that Michael J. Fox is light years ahead of everyone else involved in this film. Mr. Fox has such natural charisma and screen presence that he helps the film get over a lot of its middling nature. The film shouldn’t be middling, it is after all about a basketball playing werewolf. But, thanks in large part to a lack of interesting side characters and about forty five minutes of the hour and a half film being montage after montage a basketball playing werewolf inst’t as cool as it should be. It’s fun, but Teen Wolf sure as heck doesn’t live up to any amount of nostalgia association.
Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid (2011, Mary Lambert, United States Of America) 1/2*
I realize that these Syfy movies are supposed to be inherently shitty. That’s what the movies are sold on after all, but there’s a limit to how much stupid I’m willing to accept when the CG is so gosh darn awful. The story of Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid is predicated on scientific ideas that are insanely wrong and misleading. They aren’t wrong in a “Oh my gosh, that’s so funny,” kind of way either. Nope, it’s when the scientists in the film say things that are supposed to be grounded in reality that the film is at its worst. Like how the natural habitat for a Burmese python is somehow Florida, and not Burma. Or, how a ball python is actually a Burmese python and they strike at their victims instead of constricting like they actually do. Don’t misread me, I understand that a movie like Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid isn’t going for realistic, but it’s easy to nag on its pathetic attempts at science when the film is so awful. And I don’t mean awful in a good way, but rather I mean awful in a way that made this film a chore to get through. I’ll end with this, everything about Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid is terrible, and not in any way that resembles anything fun.
It’s not even close to a contest this week, no other film was even in the same universe as Samantha Morton’s debut effort. The Unloved takes home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!