What a hodgepodge this week, with a mixture of old TV shows, crappy January movies, good awards season holdovers, and other weirdness. Shall we begin?
Though Supercar was not the first of Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation programs, it was the first of what we can point to as part of a larger trend. Supercar was a series of 39 episodes that ran from 1961 to 1962 and featured a stalwart (and creepy-looking) hero named Mike Mercury, who is the driver/pilot/captain of an experimental vehicle called Supercar that can go in any terrain — on land, sea, or air — and has all sorts of sweet gadgets, perfect for selling toys to kids. It clearly is not as refined as some of Anderson’s later shows, like Stingray, Thunderbirds, and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, this show is still fun to watch, and, yes, a bit weird. Other characters include Professors Popkiss and Beaker, rescued little boy Jimmy Gibson, and a pet chimp named Mitch the Monkey. Yes, there’s a damn monkey on this show. But how can you think ill of any show with a theme song like this?
No, it’s not a movie about Tim McGraw (which is literally a joke for one person); this Michael Mann movie is based on the true story of an imprisoned hacker who is released in order to aid the FBI and the Chinese government stop another hacker who’s using software created by the first guy. This movie didn’t do so hot at the box office, mostly because it was not the best, but Chris Hemsworth gets to stretch his acting muscles as well as his arm muscles playing a guy who totally didn’t look like Chris Hemsworth in real life.
I will confess something: when I saw Mortdecai in January for reviewing purposes, it was the third movie in one of the worst week of releases I’d ever seen, which also included the loathsome Strange Magic and the ludicrous The Boy Next Door. That this movie was merely bad made it the best of the bunch, and I originally gave it a 3 out of 5 as a result. I don’t think I’d give it that high a mark now, but hindsight is 20/20.
Based on the comic novel series by English art-dealer, actor, sci-fi editor, and champion swordsman Kyril Bonfiglioli, Mortdecai is strange sort of throwback to the kind of storytelling they did quite a lot of in the 1960s, a farcical high-society comedy masquerading as a caper film. It’s certainly difficult to attempt a story like this keeping all the nuances while still setting it in modern day. There’s really very little modern about the people in it; in fact, they’re basically the stuffiest upper-class twits you’d ever care to see, the kind of folks would make the Monty Python lads say, “Wowzers, that’s pretty over the top.”
The story follows wealthy art dealer Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp), who isn’t quite so wealthy anymore, but still lives a wealthy lifestyle. He’s old money, hailing from a long line of Mortdecais, but he owes the British government an exorbitant amount of money. As much as he attempts to rip people off by over-charging them for art, he’s pretty much flat broke. His marriage to his with-it wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) is getting rocky because of the finances and because he’s grown a silly mustache. When an art restorer working on a priceless Goya painting is murdered and the painting gets stolen, Mortdecai is called in to help by his former school chum and continued romantic rival Martland (Ewan McGregor) of MI-5 to help find the missing painting. This takes him all over the underground art world and the actual world, where his unbelievable prissiness would have surely gotten him killed if not for his long-suffering, ever-faithful, seemingly indestructible manservant Jock (Paul Bettany), who has a penchant for sleeping with women everywhere he goes and sounds like he belongs in a Guy Ritchie film.
There’s an undoubted charm (or maybe it’s just gas) to Mortdecai, and all of the cast, at the very least, seem to know what kind of movie they’re in. Bettany is the best thing in the film by a long shot, but everybody brings something to their roles, with the exceptions of Jeff Goldblum and Olivia Munn, who are pretty much wasted in their tiny parts. Writer-director David Koepp also knows the tone of the film, but whether that tone works is up to the audience. Is it funny to see Johnny Depp prancing around like he’s Terry-Thomas? I don’t know, is it?
Battlestar Galactica The Definitive Collection
Before it was hailed for its super grown-up and existentially weird reboot series from the 2000s, Battlestar Galactica was a televised attempt to do what Star Wars did in movie theaters. Largely, the special effects work great, due in no small part to Glen A. Larson having created the show with one of Star Wars‘ effects gurus, John Dykstra. Being very expensive, though, it lasted only one season, from 1978-1979, with a follow-up series, Galactica 1980, taking place 30 years later in the show’s continuity and only lasting ten episodes.
This set is a super cleaned-up and HD version of the original series, 1980, and the pilot movie that was shown theatrically in some markets. Each of these episodes is available in widescreen format as well as the original TV, 4×3 aspect ratio, so you can get the full idea of all of it.
- Still Alice – Julianne Moore won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of a 50-year-old woman stricken with early-onset Alzheimer’s. A laugh riot.
- Wet Hot American Summer – If you haven’t seen this movie, what’re you doing? Go watch it right now. Honestly, you’ve already read most of this, just go watch it.
- The Colbys – A spinoff of the nighttime soap opera Dynasty, this short-lived series starred Charlton Heston and Barbara Stanwyck. Whaaaaaaaat?!
- X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes – Roger Corman sci-fi movie starring Ray Milland.
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne – A version of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel made in Germany and set during a dinner party. It’s a pretty icky movie, if I’m honest.
- Extraterrestrial – A scary alien abduction movie.
- Retaliation – Badass old Yakuza flick.