Films of High Adventure: The 13th Warrior (1999)

The Film: The 13th Warrior (1999)


Dedicated to the Memory of Omar Sharif.

Responsibility Roundup: Directed by John “Die Hard is actually my adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream” McTiernan. Based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton, who supposedly came on as director to reshoot some scenes after McTiernan’s initial cut bummed out test audiences. Scripted by William Wisher Jr. (Terminator 2, Judge Dredd) and Warren Lewis (remember Ridley Scott’s Yakuza movie Black Rain? With Michael Douglas? Don’t worry, nobody else does, either). Original soundtrack by Graeme Revell (The Crow, The Craft, the Riddick movies) and Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance, before Michael Crichton insisted on trashing the entire thing and having it rescored by his Congo buddy Jerry Goldsmith (always a good sign, amirite?).

Hackting by Antonio Banderas (lots of stuff), Maria Bonnevie (lots of Swedish stuff), Suzanne Bertish (The Hunger, Eleni on Rome), Diane Venora (Heat, Wolfen), and a whole Crossfit box’s worth of beefcake, including Vladimir Kulich (that Vikings show, the voice of Ulfric Stormcloak in Skyrim), Dennis Storhøi (Two Lives), Clive Russell (Ripper Street, Brynden Tully on Game of Thrones), Richard Bremmer (Control), Tony Curran (LXG). Also a very embarrassed Omar Sharif (RIP) (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Top Secret), who hated the movie so much he took a leave of absence from acting afterward.

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Films of High Adventure: Dune

DUNEHappy 50th Anniversary, Dune! To celebrate (?), we've put together a special edition of Films of High Adventure. Why's it so special? Well, we have Jason Heller, Hugo-award winning editor, author of Taft 2012, and writer for the A.V. Club and NPR here with us! As Jason is a consummate Dune (the novel) fan-cum-expert, we thought it would be fun (for us, at least) to ask him to watch Dune with us, and see if it stands the Films of High Adventure test of time. Heh.

There are roughly 9000000 versions of Dune out there, and we actually tried to watch the 3 hour version of Dune for this... but from what we saw it was mostly a camera panning over watercolors of planets. So we ditched it and went for the director's cut (I think?), which is the pretty dang long, but not the longest version. It's the one we all watched/remembered, so it was more authentic that way.

The Film: Dune (1984)

Responsibility Roundup: While it may seem unfair to hold Frank Herbert accountable for the film, credit where due—he did write the novel. Given all the liberties taken with the text, it seems most accurate to view Herbert as the Great Maker, and writer-director David Lynch and executive producer Dino De Laurentiis as two rival barons fighting to the death over the intoxicating essence produced by their sandworm cash cow. It’s not surprising that the film came to be defined by their conflict, since Lynch is of course best known for his heady, esoteric creations like Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks, whereas De Laurentiis is synonymous with meaty, straight-forward fare like Barbarella, Conan the Destroyer, and dozens of other Films of High Adventure candidates. Photography by Hammer and Amicus alum Freddie Francis (Torture Garden), production design by Anthony Masters (2001: A Space Odyssey), costume design by Bob Ringwood (Burton’s Batman), and soundtrack by Toto and Brian Eno.

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Films of High Adventure: Mad Max 2 AKA The Road Warrior

Mad MaxThe Film: Mad Max 2 AKA The Road Warrior (which is how we Yank philistines will be referring to it) (1981)

Responsibility Roundup: Besides creating, co-writing, and directing all four Mad Max movies, George Miller is also the man behind both the Babe and Happy Feet film franchises. You know, for kids. Co-written by Terry Hayes (the From Hell movie, the novel I Am Pilgrim) and Brian Hannant (uh, something called The Time Guardian?). In addition to Mel “Butt-dog” Gibson, the movie stars Bruce Spence (Dark City; I, Frankenstein), Mike Preston (Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn), Virginia Hey (Farscape), Vernon Wells (Weird Science; Commando), Emil Minty (um, something called Fluteman?), and the Lord Humungus as himself (wait, no, that’s wrong—he’s played by Kjell Nilsson). Soundtrack by Brian May (Mad Max, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare) and the countless explosions.

Quote: “Greetings from The Humungus! The Lord Humungus! The Warrior of the Wasteland! The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla!”

Alternate quote: “I’m only here for the gasoline.”

First viewing by Jesse: As an early teen, maybe?

First viewing by Molly: A couple of weeks ago.

Most recent viewing by both: A couple of weeks ago.

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Films of High Adventure: Waterworld

WaterwoldThe Film: Waterworld (1995)

Responsibility Roundup: We usually start this section with the director and writer or writers, but real talk here, we all know there’s only one person to blame for this turkey of the sea, and that’s Kevin Costner. Not only does he “act” in the film, but he reportedly sunk millions of his own money into the film as producer and backseat-directed the whole damn thing. Tempting though it surely is to hold Costner fully accountable, we must nevertheless give credit where credit is due to the rest of the cast and crew—after all, there’s plenty of guilt to spread around.

Kevin Reynolds directed, though he really should have known better after working with Costner on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The script was apparently re-written three dozen times, but final credit went to David Twohy of the Chronicles of Riddick franchise and a dude named Peter Rader whose sole previous credit was a mid-nineties remake of Escape to Witch Mountain. Joss Whedon allegedly did some last minute rewrites, and the movie’s certainly bad enough to make this sound plausible. Supporting roles by Dennis Hopper (Blue Velvet, Easy Rider, and the Super Mario Bros. movie), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Basic Instinct, Big Love), a bunch of character actors, a youngish Jack Black, and Tina Majorino (Veronica Mars) as the kid.

Quote: “Nothing’s free in Waterworld.”

Alternate quote: “Well, I'll be damned. It’s the gentleman guppy. You know, he’s like a turd that won’t flush.”

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Films of High Adventure: Krull

Krull PosterThe Film: Krull (1983)

Responsibility Roundup: Directed by Peters Yates (Bullitt, The Friends of Eddie Coyle). Written by Stanford Sherman, who had previously penned episodes of the Adam West Batman TV series and went on to do, uh, The Ice Pirates. Soundtrack composed by James Horner (Titanic, Aliens, and tons of other Seriously Epic Shit) and performed by The London Symphony Orchestra. Sets by (or at least at) Pinewood Studios. Starring Ken Marshall (Lt. Commander Michael Eddington on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Lysette Anthony (Without a Clue), Francesca Annis (Lady Jessica in Lynch’s Dune), David Battley (he plays Ergo the Magnificent, what more do you peasants want?), Alun Armstrong (lots of TV, Braveheart), and Freddie Jones (pretty much everything awesome that ever came out of British cinema or television). Oh, and Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane in early bit parts as members of what must be the most respectable bandit posse in the history of fantasy cinema.

Quote: “I came to find a king, and I find a boy instead.”

Alternate quote: “If I really had my wish I'd be sitting on top of a gooseberry pie as big as a mountain. No, that's a bit greedy. I'll settle for one as big as a house. ”

First viewing by Jesse: Before I even knew myself as an autonomous being, I knew Krull. And when I knew Krull, I knew myself. When I was really young, is the idea here.

First viewing by Molly: Grad school, when I probably should have been working harder on my M.A.? So like… somewhere between 2007 and 2009?

Most recent viewing by both: A few weeks ago.

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Films of High Adventure: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Welcome… to Films of High Adventure!

Some of you may recall that Jesse Bullington and I used to do these columns pretty frequently on our blogs and Fantasy Magazine, back (as the kids say) in "the day." The idea was that we’d re-watch films that one or both of us saw as youths, and compare our remembered reactions then to our feelings as adults. Some withstood the test of time pretty well—say, Barbarella. Others… not so much. Hey—The Craft? I’m looking at you.

The initial inspiration for the column was me not having seen a lot of iconic genre films from the 70s and 80s, or from the 90s for that matter, as a child. For whatever reason, while I have seen nearly every Disney film, Hitchcock entry, or movie featuring Fred Astaire dancing, I never saw Robocop, Willow, Predator, The Abominable Dr. Phibes… you get the idea. After Jesse showed me Conan the Barbarian when I was perhaps 27, and enjoyed watching my reactions as much as the film, we decided to blog about the experience, with each showing the other unfamiliar films, or settling in for a simultaneous return to childhood. For good or for awesome we’ve slogged through many a turkey (Dungeons Ampersand Dragons, anyone?) and many a surprising delight. Like, uh… Vampire Hunter D. I… guess.

Anyways, after a several-year hiatus, Jesse and I are back in the saddle, for realsies this time. We’ll be here at Pornokitch once a month, talking smack and offering up praise when either (or both) are warranted.

Don’t call it a comeback. We’ve been here for years!

Bill and TedBill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Responsibility Roundup: Directed by the most triumphant Stephen Herek (Critters, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead). Written by Ed Solomon and Christ Matheson, who also co-wrote Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, the animated Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures, and Mom and Dad Save the World. While Solomon later worked on blockbusters like Men in Black and Charlie’s Angels, Matheson’s solo career peaked with 1994’s A Goofy Movie, though word on the backlot is he’s writing a made-for-TV reboot of The Greatest American Hero. The supporting cast is a who’s-who of who’s-that character actors, including Amy Stock-Poynton (Summer School), Bernie Casey (In the Mouth of Madness), Dan Shor (TRON), Terry Camilleri (The Cars That Ate Paris), Hal Landon Jr. (Eraserhead, The Artist), and Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s as Noah’s wife. Hauntingly sincere performances by leads Keanu Reeves (pretty much everything) and Alex Winter (pretty much nothing), and, of course, George Carlin (duh).

Quote: “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”

Alternate quote: “It seems to me the only thing you've learned is that Caesar is a ‘salad dressing dude.’”

Alternate alternate quote: “Gentlemen [puts on sunglasses]... we're history”

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