Tag Archives: Christopher Lee

The Set of 400: #11 – My Favorite Breakdancing Wizard

Today! Because I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve –

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Directed by Peter Jackson (x5)

Starring Elijah Wood (x6), Ian McKellen (x7), Sean Astin (x4), Hugo Weaving (x5), Cate Blanchett (x6), Viggo Mortensen (x3), Liv Tyler (x3), Ian Holm (x5), Christopher Lee (x6), Orlando Bloom (x3), John Rhys-Davies (x4), Billy Boyd (x3), Dominic Monaghan (x3), Sean Bean (x2), Andy Serkis (x6), Marton Csokas (x3), Bret McKenzie (x3), Sarah McLeod (x2)

I was no Lord of the Rings snob going into these films. I had read The Hobbit in middle school, I want to say, and had an awareness that these other books existed, but I never sought them out to read until that first amazing trailer for Fellowship appeared around Christmas 2000. After that, though, I was quickly all in – I read one book a year as the films were released, just to keep it fresh, and like the rest of the world was generally blown away by the movies as they unfolded. I don’t think this is much of a stretch, but it has to be said – Fellowship of the Ring is the greatest fantasy film of all time, and a nearly perfect movie. The other LOTR films are great, too, and made this list, and carried over so strong that even the first Hobbit film holds a special place for me, but they all kinda pale in comparison to that first incredible film.

I said nearly perfect

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The Set of 400: #179 – My Favorite Perambulating Tree

Today! Because what we need is a few good taters –

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Directed by Peter Jackson (x3)

Starring Elijah Wood (x4), Ian McKellen (x4), Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis (x3), Christopher Lee (x5), Brad Dourif (x2), Liv Tyler, Karl Urban (x2), David Wenham, Hugo Weaving (x3), Cate Blanchett (x4), Bernard Hill (x2), Miranda Otto, Craig Parker

I don’t know that there’s a middle film in a trilogy that suffers more than The Two Towers. For all the cool stuff that’s in this movie – Gollum and the Ents and Wormtongue, I guess – very little has fundamentally advanced by the time you reach the ending, to the point that you can only look forward to The Return of the King when you’re done. It’s hard to sit back and really enjoy the hours you just killed in Middle Earth. Like, I’ve watched the first movie on its own a bunch of times, without then feeling compelled to watch the others in any near future. I don’t think I’ve ever watched The Two Towers without popping in Return of the King very soon after.

Not that it’s just a bunch of standing around, but still

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The Set of 400: #294 – My Favorite Rolling Ferris Wheel

Today! Because I fought your kind in the Great War, and we kicked the living shit out of you –

1941 (1979)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd (x3), Ned Beatty (x2), Christopher Lee (x4), Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune (x2), John Candy (x4), Nancy Allen, Lorraine Gary (x2), Warren Oates, Slim Pickens, Robert Stack, Treat Williams, Murray Hamilton (x3), Elisha Cook Jr., Patti LuPone, Eddie Deezen, Perry Lang, Wendie Jo Sperber, Joe Flaherty, David L. Lander, Michael McKean (x3), Don Calfa, Susan Backlinie, Jerry Hardin, Audrey Landers, Dick Miller (x3), Mickey Rourke

For those of you unfamiliar with this movie – can you believe the above cast got together in ’79 and put on an epic war comedy? And under the direction of the king, Steven Spielberg, following his massive success with Jaws and Close Encounters? Doesn’t it make you want to run out and see what this movie could possibly be?? How have you avoided it all these years? Do it!

And for those of you already familiar with this movie, SHUT UP.

I’m not Titanic-level defensive about 1941, but that’s because most people either didn’t see it or don’t remember it enough to argue about it. And look, I know there is a lot wrong with this movie. It only sort of functions as a comedy – it’s like a less funny It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with explosions and extended choreographed fistfights – and sort of functions as a war movie. But the premise is solid enough and the cast is terrific that, even though it doesn’t totally deliver, it’s still a pretty entertaining movie. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #307 – My Favorite Inspirational Kate Smith

Today! Because long before the age of Reason/Evil waged unholy treason –

The Return of Captain Invincible (1983)

Directed by Philippe Mora

Starring Alan Arkin, Christopher Lee, Kate Fitzpatrick, Michael Pate, Bill Hunter

Just your standard Australian musical superhero comedy, The Return of Captain Invincible is a pretty oddball production story that shouldn’t work as a movie as well as it does (which is debatable, too). While they managed to scrape together enough dough for effects and the likes of Arkin and Lee in the lead roles, the planned distribution company in America went bankrupt just before the movie’s release, resulting in it having virtually no all-time box office gross – figures have it around $55,000 worldwide. In Australia, the movie was tied up in litigation for a year – something having to do with tax credits and the producer re-cutting the film without the director’s input – before it got released. Thus, the whole thing managed to slip under the radar for a long time.

Or has it ever really emerged? I have no idea how popular this movie ever got. As of this writing, IMDB only shows 599 people having rated the movie – a few thousand being pretty standard for almost any film. This, despite our collective mania over superhero films in the last twenty years, and the world’s ever-long love affair with musicals? I’m not 100% sure when I first saw it – I want to say I acquired a VHS copy when some video store was going out of business when I was in college? Don’t know, but I’ve been squarely in the Captain Invincible fan club a long time. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #325 – My Favorite Rambo Cosplay

Today! Because of the end of civilization, the Clamp Cable Network now leaves the air –

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

Directed by Joe Dante

Starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover (x2), Robert Prosky, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lee (x2), Dick Miller (x2), Gedde Watanabe, Haviland Morris, Keye Luke, Rick Ducommun, Hulk Hogan (x2), Julia Sweeney, Dean Norris, John Astin (x2), Henry Gibson, Leonard Maltin, Howie Mandel, Tony Randall

There might be other instances on this list – not many, but maybe one or two – wherein a direct sequel made the cut without its predecessor. I don’t know why, I just tend to give more credit to originals, even when they have popularly acclaimed superior sequels. I have some sequels higher on the list where the first foray also cracked the 400, but as much as I liked Gremlins growing up, it’s not something I go out of my way to watch – unlike Gremlins 2, which I still love.

The balls of this movie! It’s a sequel, yes, but it’s also a straight parody of the original, a fourth wall breaking mockery of the first movie’s serious-ish, tongue in cheek horror story. Completely revamping the setting – taking it from the typical creatures invading a small town trope to the office building of a cable television channel – opened the film up for opportunities to poke fun at numerous films and media in general in a wide-ranging satire, replete with monsters. It took the concept of Evil Dead 2 – parodying the original film – and exploded it into nearly a throwback sketch comedy film, ala The Groove Tube or The Kentucky Fried Movie. Well, almost – it does hold together as one story a little more than that, even with its many digressions. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #362 – My Favorite Riddles in the Dark

Today! Because if Baggins loses, then we eats it whole –

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Directed by Peter Jackson

Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Lee Pace, Bret McKenzie, Benedict Cumberbatch

Now hang on a second, I know what you’re thinking – The Hobbit? Seriously? But while the unnecessarily expanded prequel trilogy was almost the definition of diminishing returns, I still think that first movie is pretty good. Is it far too much? Yes. But hell, what were Jackson and company supposed to think people wanted, when everyone was snapping up 4+ hour versions of the original films on DVD? They figured the more the better, right? So why not turn a 300 page book into nine goddamn hours of movies? And you know what, good for them. Sure, the whole trilogy doesn’t even come close to the Lord of the Rings movies, but they sure aren’t the complete troll orgies fans made them out to be.

Sexy!

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