Movie Review: Attack the Block, Sherlock Jr, Batman Apocalypse, Going by the Book

Still sick, and if you’re sick, you might as well lie in bed and watch a slew of movies, right? I’m at four right now between today and yesterday, and the day is still young. And since I actually have a bit more energy than yesterday (a very little bit), I’m actually going to try writing short reviews for each of them.

First off is the one most of you might have heard of: Attack the Block. It was billed as “Inner City vs. Outer Space,” and that pretty ┬ámuch sums it up. There’s a small scale alien invasion that ends up occurring in the projects in South London. And a small teen gang become the ones who have to deal with the problem. I’d heard about this movie a while back, and I’d always wanted to see it, mainly because it sounded like fun. And it is quite a bit of horror fun. I could see this fitting in very well as a double feature with Shaun of the Dead. It’s violent, gruesome, bloody, and has a lot of solid humor peppered throughout. If you liked Shaun, give this one a try. No real surprises, though–it does what it says on the tin. If that sounds appealing, you’ll like it. If it doesn’t, you won’t. I had a lot of fun with it, and it was a perfect escape movie. Three stars.

Then we have Sherlock, Jr., an old silent comedy from 1924, starring Buster Keaton. It might seem like a big jump, going from Attack to Sherlock, but I was surprised at the special effects they had going in Sherlock. It’s a movie about a film projectionist who dreams of becoming a detective. His fiancee wrongly accuses him of stealing her father’s pocket watch, and it goes off from there. Not really a complicated movie–this was 1924, after all–but a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed a scene where Keaton jumps into the film he’s showing at the theater, and he interacts with the scenery, which keeps changing setting on him. Really funny, and very avant garde for the time, I’d say. Three and a half stars–this is a movie I imagine kids would like a lot, too. Some very good sight gags, if they can get over the fact that there’s no dialogue and it’s black and white. :-)

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse was kind of a let down. It wasn’t particularly bad–if I were twenty years younger, I probably would have liked it a lot. Superman and Batman team up to keep Darkseid from turning Supergirl evil. It’s animated, so there’s no need to worry about budgets or anything. No limit to the sets and places it can go. But in the end, it was just a series of fights between superheroes and villains. And while that could be appealing, a lot of it is invalidated by the sheer amount of super powers these guys have going for them. There’s a big scene where Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Amazons are all battling a horde of baddies, and it goes on for quite some time, with many Amazons dying left and right–until Superman decides that enough is enough, and he laser-sight-blasts all the baddies out of existence. Um . . . Superman? If you could do that all along, why didn’t you? Is this a power you can only use once a certain quota of your allies have died? That sort of thing. Still kind of fun, but nothing really to write home about. Two stars.

Finally, there’s Going by the Book, a South Korean movie where a small city in Korea decides to stage a robbery training simulation to prove to the citizens that their police force knows what they’re doing when it comes to fighting crime. But the cop who’s chosen to be the robber is . . . a little over-zealous. He throws himself into the role, and he ends up being much better at being a robber than anyone could have thought. It’s a comedy, and I really enjoyed it. The fun part is that it plays on so many different levels. There’s the actual robbery–which unfolds like a sort of LARP robbery, with some timeouts for debates as to where people were shot, if they’re really dead or not, what’s legal and what’s not–that sort of thing. Then there’s the out of character interactions the robber has with the different bank employees and police officers, some light romance on the side, some mystery about how and if the robbery will be successful. There are a couple of scenes that I think must play better to a South Korean audience–I didn’t quite get them–but by and large, the movie is great. Three stars–maybe a bit higher.

So there you have it. If you’re sick, now you have something to watch, too. Happy Tuesday, folks. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s better.

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