Stingray Sam

Stingray Sam (2009) – [rate 3.5]

Most of what’s really great about Stingray Sam was already featured in American Astronaut, which was one of my favourites in a previous edition of the AFFF. Still, the movie takes this zany universe of cowboy astronauts a step further and blends in Terry Gilliam-like animations to help the story along.

The movie was shot as a six-part series, intended for broadcasting on mobile phones. The quality of the images does nothing to betray this fact, everything looks crisp and ready for the theatre, but the pacing of each episode is clearly geared to keep the attention of the instant message-generation.

As black-and-white space opera western musicals come, this one has to be one of the best. It’s genuinely funny and though the style may seem a bit childish in some scenes, the humour certainly isn’t and its fake innocence only serves to increase the estranging effect of the setting and the utterly unlikely story.

The plot really doesn’t even matter all that much, it’s not what keeps your attention on the screen. This movie/series is about being transported to another universe, in every possible way, even though there’s a lot to recognize. Recommended for anyone with a sense of humour.

The Good The Bad The Weird

The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008) – [rate 3.5]

The opening sequence for this Asian Western (Eastern?) is really strong and worth seeing even if you don’t have time to see the whole thing. From there on, a really good western unfolds with lots of familiar spaghetti western material, with Asian-style fighting, weapons and motorcycles added in for good measure. The characters fit the style and no excuse for a fight feels forced, though obviously there’s a lot of fighting all the same.

The only real downside to the movie is the illogical sequence of events leading up to the ending. The ending scene itself is actually pretty good, but the first few minutes of it leave you wondering what just happened and why it isn’t happening anymore.

The violence is a bit more graphic than you might expect from a western, but then most of the ones you know were shot in or before the 80’s, so I guess that’s just a sign of the times. The addition of all the Manchurian attributes to the typical western fare works really well. Watching gunfights interspersed with martial arts, watching horses chase motorcycles and vice versa and having both steam trains and jeeps with mortars in the mix never really breaks immersion and makes for a nice spectacle.

A bit too long perhaps and with a bit too much repetition as a result, but overall recommended for whoever likes westerns. Maybe even more so because this genre really belongs in Asia to begin with (think Seven Samurai).

3:10 to Yuma

3:10 to Yuma (2007) – [rate 3]

It’s a good thing I hadn’t realized this one was written by the same scenarists that wrote Wanted, or I might have worried that my verdict was influenced by my recent experience of that movie. 3:10 is a decent western and manages to add something to the genre. Of course, it is a genre-piece and as such I feel it should be held to a higher standard than anything that doesn’t try to fit a specific genre. That’s the price you pay for a lack of originality in my opinion. As westerns go, 3:10 to Yuma doesn’t disappoint, but neither does it impress. Continue reading 3:10 to Yuma