Monday, February 18, 2019

Duck, You Sucker! / A Fistful of Dynamite / Giù la testa, lit (1971)

I know this movie better with name A Fistful of Dynamite which is better suitable name than Duck, You Sucker. But it seems that Duck is the better known name. It makes you expect some sort of comedy which this is not when it gets to revolution. Before that and early parts of revolution there is some humor but it gets really serious and dark on second half.

Movie is story of Mexican bandit and Irish explosion expert during Mexican revolution. Movie starts as western comedy. It is the part which doesn't work that well. Later it makes its best to get biggest body count any western has seen. People are executed all the time and at times it gets to industrial levels. Executions are part of the sets. You know which locations are controlled by army when you see executions. Big battle scenes add to the body count. This is surprisingly bloody for movie which starts as comedy.

Duck, You Sucker doesn't reach the level of Dollars Trilogy or Once Upon a Time in West. It has what didn't work so well in those movies without highlights which made the other movies great. It is still entertaining and has few moments worth watching the movie but it is not as much as previous movies.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Godzilla 3: The Planet Eater (2018)

The Planet Eater is third movie in anime Godzilla movie series. After seeing the end credit scene I am not sure if this was trilogy or will there be more movies. Third movie didn't left too much for fourth movie but there was tease for next movie and we saw one monster who hasn't fought Godzilla in this series yet. I will get more into spoiler territory than usually so be warned.

Movie starts where last one ended. There is nothing to get you up to speed. You just have to remember what happened. Like previous movie was memorable enough to justify this. If last movie was about technology this is about suicidal religious cult. Turns out the other alien race travelling with humans worship world devouring monster. Movie tries to make sense of their philosophy. Which is basically world will end one day so we have to summon our world devouring god to finish it quicker.

They don't share this philosophy until they have summoned their god. They get followers promising their god beating Godzilla if humans offer themselves as sacrifices or telling their god have master plan for humans. It wasn't completely clear at which point sacrificing themselves was told to followers. Main story is cult trying to convince Haruo to do something. It is not clear what or what it would do. They could summon their god without Haruo.

Monster fight is three snakes biting Godzilla and Godzilla can't touch them and Haruo dreaming with cult leader trying to convince him to do something. It is hard to make that interesting. It would require cult to have convincing arguments but their argument is give up because life is suffering. I liked dialog more than action scenes in previous movies. I have no problem with idea of the final battle mainly happening in characters dream sequences where someone try to convince him to do something. Cult's weak arguments are the problem. They probably have weakest arguments of anyone in this series and they get most time to express their arguments.

When monster fight ends there is still 15 minutes left. Which is where we get to the message of the trilogy. I call it here trilogy because it ends most of the story arcs. Message of this trilogy is technology is bad because monsters rise when society becomes technologically advanced enough. So best option is to live without technology. I think this was hinted earlier movies. This movie says that is the case. This is science fiction series and its message is technology brings literal monsters which evolve more than we can advance.

I know Godzilla's original message was science can cause something unintended. This time it is not nuclear bomb causing monsters. It is society advancing technologically. Not something specific. Just advancing technologically. I wonder where they got the interesting science fiction concepts when something this stupid is at the core of series.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Once Upon a Time in the West / C'era una volta il West (1968)

Once Upon a Time in the West is what you get when you take all the humor from Dollars trilogy. It has really good scenes but beginning where three men wait for a train for ten minutes is bit too much. At least nowadays when tempo of movies have changed faster. But then again it shows how boring waiting can be and it tells something all the time. It can be argued if that something is worth of ten minutes.

Movie lacks Clint Eastwood's charisma. Charles Bronson is not bad but he is bit too one dimensional. Other main characters do better job. Jason Robards is actually really good as Cheyenne. Bronson's character's motivations are bit hard to grasp. Revenge is understandable but every thing else feels it is there to get cool and interesting scenes. Others feel more like real people.

I can understand why some people rate this as best western or even best movie ever made. I would agree with first part if Bronson's character didn't have so many problems. It is like his character is in wrong movie. Rest of the movie tells how railroads change lawless frontier and you have this ultra cool character who leaves himself to be killed knowing he won't be killed because this is his story. I wouldn't have noticed that in lesser movie. But in this almost everything is thought of and everything characters do have meaning.

Now that I have seen four Sergio Leone's biggest westerns there is a question which I liked most. More I think about it I have to say Once Upon a Tine in the West is the best one. I can't find as big issues from Dollar's Trilogy but everything else is so much better in Once Upon a Time in the West that it is my favorite. If some wanted to know my favorite western before this I might have said The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. There might be better ones but I am not that into westerns so Once Upon a Time in the West is my favorite western at the moment. These were the westerns I can name from top of my head.

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly / Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (1966)

Time for last and most epic entry in Dollars Trilogy. This time it is three men searching for hidden treasure. Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef return but this time clearly different characters than in For a Few Dollars More. Every movie added one more character trying to outsmart others. Each movie have different tone. This time it is western mixed with war movie.

I watched extended version which added 14 minutes of footage to original English version. Movie drags at times but it wasn't caused by added scenes. I checked what was added and every addition made movie better. For example bridge scene was extended. It is one of the best scenes now. Most additions added footage related to ongoing Civil War which happens around. I can understand why it was originally cut away. It showed horrors of war and wasn't that important to main story arch. But it shows how war has nothing heroic in it.

Back to dragging. First two movies had more compact stories. Movie has long slow scenes and story jumps back and forth few times. Everything makes sense but cutting down some excess would have helped. This is the reason why The Good, the Bad and the Ugly doesn't rise above other movies in trilogy. It has more memorable scenes than others but excess drops it to same level as other movies.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of must see movie. It has few of the most memorable western scenes. It doesn't show the time as epic adventure. It is more of story of three men with weird sense of honor trying to make money when there is civil war going on. Even the Good is not that good.

Monday, January 21, 2019

For a Few Dollars More / Per qualche dollaro in più (1965)

I am probably doing the whole Dollars Trilogy and Once Upon a Time in West now that movies are available for a short time. So it is time for second movie in Dollars Trilogy. This time it is story of two bounty hunters after same big bounty. Clint Eastwood could or could not be playing same characters as in A Fistful of Dollars. He is more matured version of the character. Maybe he became bounty hunter between movies.

For a Few Dollars More tuned humor down little bit and replaced it with big tense scenes. Movie has masterful tension building in its countless duels and scenes where duels are teased. We would remember ending duel if next movie in Dollars Trilogy didn't top it. Story stays interesting by not taking most obvious paths. Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef shine in their roles as ultra cool bounty hunters. Gian Maria Volontè almost go over board as almost crazy villain.

Like A Fistful of Dollars For a Few Dollars More is must watch even if you don't like westerns that much. It is step up in cinematography from A Fistful of Dollars. Ennio Morricone's score is amazing as always. For a Few Dollars More suffers from Sergio Leone making one of the biggest westerns year later with same leads. It is still good as its own but it is easy to see as step between other Dollars Trilogy movies.