I Watch A Lot Of Movies: Watchers, Flash Gordon & The Next Three Days

I haven’t been watching as many movies lately because we’ve been sitting on Super 8 from Netflix for weeks now and I’ve been watching a lot of TV on Instant lately. But, this week, I got back to it. Most of these flicks I kind of only half watched, but I have good things to say about each of them, so I figured this would be a good post.

Watchers (1988) is kind of ET meets Cujo with some Deadly Friend thrown in. See, Corey Haim stars as a kid whose girlfriend’s dad gets killed by a monster that’s genetically altered to be psychically connected to a super smart dog that stows away in his truck. Michael Ironside also stars as the government guy trying to get the animals back.

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what else the movie was about because this one got about a third of my attention, but Haim’s charming nature and Ironside’s insanity-bubbling-below the surface both made an impression on me. Those guys are the best.

I was also struck by the weird balance of this movie. I mean, it’s rated R, but the main characters are a teenage boy and his new dog basically palling around and being heroes. But, with blood and monsters. You definitely couldn’t get away with something like this today.

I know a lot of people for whom Flash Gordon (1980) was a very important movie to them growing up, but that wasn’t the case for me. I’m guessing that’s because it came out three years before I was born and thus placed somewhat outside my purview as a kid, but I also don’t remember it being on TV much like a lot of other movies. My only real exposure to the film came from the Queen soundtrack which I’ve heard bits and pieces of over the years and the action figures that Bif Bang Pow made. So, as I was watching the film for the first time, I kept recognizing characters I otherwise wouldn’t have seen, which was kind of fun.

Anyway, I also didn’t know anything about Flash Gordon as a property or franchise, so this was definitely an interesting experience. From what I gathered (again, my attention was split at best), Flash Gordon is a football player who winds up in space with a woman and a scientist where he winds up in the middle of a conflict between Ming the Merciless and…other people.

I may have missed a lot of the details, but I did catch a lot of the great costumes and special effects used in the film. I continue to believe that practical effects age far better than CGI ones, so it’s great to see people figuring out how to make certain things look, like the winged dudes who fly around like Hawkman. I might not have paid much attention this time around, but I will definitely give this one another look when I have a little more time to devote to it.

I wasn’t sure if I had seen The Next Three Days (2010) because it sounded an awful lot like Law Abiding Citizen which also focuses on a man trying to game the system in order to get to someone in prison. While that one’s about a super genius taking revenge on the man who killed his wife, this one is about a regular guy trying to use what he has to break his wrongly incarcerated wife from the clink. Instead of setting up these wildly complicated and impressive plan, Russell Crowe instead uses his iPhone, YouTube clips and talking to a man who had busted out of prison to figure things out.

It’s an interesting angle to take on this type of movie we’ve all seen a few times. Can a regular man really bust a person out of jail? Maybe, maybe not, but this flick offers at least a possible way (technically, he breaks her out of a hospital instead of jail, which definitely makes it more likely).

There seemed to be a pretty big logic gap towards the end when Crowe was ready to implement his plan and decides to simply throw away all his research material. Now, I think this turned out to be a way to distract the police who searched his house, but still, wouldn’t it just be better to burn everything so they have nothing to work with? I don’t know, I’m not trying to break anyone out of jail. I could be wrong and probably am. Anyway, this was a fun little action flick that gets pretty intense at times, especially as plans get foiled towards the end of the movie, but it’s a fun ride to go on.

Music Musings: “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Me

One of the more influential movies from my childhood has to be Wayne’s World. I know how strange that sounds, but from the day I convinced my grandmother to take me to see it in the theaters back in 1992, that movie and those characters have been ingrained in my psyche. I got the movie on tape and can still recite good chunks of it to this day. I wasn’t the only one. I had friends in high school who dressed up as Wayne and Garth for Halloween and could quote the movie as well as I could. My all time favorite scenes from the movie is still the guys singing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the car with even their drunk friend fill getting in on the action.

There’s the scene if you’re not familiar with it. Anyway, I’m sure I knew the song before seeing the movie–my dad has always been a big fan of rock music which he shared with me growing up–but it was this movie and it’s soundtrack which I still own that really hammered the lyrics and solos into my head. By the age of 9 or 10, I had the whole thing down, just like Wayne, Garth and their friends. Fast forward to about 1998 or 1999, I’m in high school, I’ve listened to a lot more music and still love “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I also have gotten into my high school’s yearly musical. I’m a sophomore and we’re doing Wizard Of Oz. I only tried out because I wanted to be a flying monkey and got the part (we rollerbladed instead of flew, but it was still pretty cool). At some point during the long process of practicing for the show, a few friends and I decided to start playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” to get ourselves psyched. I don’t remember if this started the week the show actually premiered or before that, but it wound up being a nightly thing in the guys’ dressing room. We’d put the Wayne’s World soundtrack in a little boom box, blast it and sing at the top of our lungs. Soon enough, some of the girls came in and it became even more of a thing. I stuck around and did the musicals my Junior and Senior year and we kept singing the song before each show. At one point the director–an intense fellow who seemed to think we were on Broadway at times instead of the St. Francis production of Oklahoma–told us to stop because we were going to kill our voices. I don’t remember if we skipped a night or just turned it down, but the show must go on in a lot of ways. I figured it was something that might continue on for a few more years with the younger kids, the ones who would be seniors in a few years and then die out. Then a year or two ago, I joined a Facebook group that I can’t seem to find now that consisted of SFS musical alums. There were a lot of people on there I didn’t know, but one of the kids who were still in school at the time told me they still sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” before shows. I got a kick out of that. Everyone wants to leave some kind of legacy and I definitely never thought mine would involve a song to get musical kids to get psyched before going on stage, but that’s pretty cool. And we all owe it to Wayne and Garth. I still get pretty pumped when I hear the song, remembering those days and also because it’s an asskicking song front to back.

Covering Vinyl: Queen’s A Kind Of Magic

Oof, this one didn’t turn out so well. When I came up with this idea last week, Queen’s cover of A Kind Of Magic actually popped into my head as a follow up because I’ve never drawn anything this cartoony. I know the record came out in 1986, but it really reminds me of the Genie from Aladdin.It’s a pretty fun cover, no? I started off with pencils and then decided to color with markers right from there, which is where my problems began. Well, as you can see, my first problem was getting all four band members on the same page and in the right scale. Clearly I failed and had to squeeze the dude on the far right into the image. Here’s the colored version without any Photoshopping. I tried to figure out a way to get the black and splashes of color in with Photoshop, but it didn’t work right away, so I just threw an effect on from the Artistic section and here’s the result. I really like the effect because it covers up some of the coloring incongruities that I can’t seem to get past when using markers. I probably should have just done the outlines in marker and then dumped color in with Photoshop. I’ll have to remember that one. Anyway, here’s the comparison.