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The Caine Mutiny: Collector's Edition

Sony
Movie C
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 4.75 (out of 10)

Yes, I know, I'm giving a subpar grade to another classic. Sorry, but some films just don't age well. This tale of a Navy mine sweeper with the captain losing his marbles (as he persistently plays with marbles in his hands) always struck me as a routine courtroom drama with awkward humor, bad acting from supporting performers and a cop-out ending that plays it safe to avoid pissing off the U.S. government.

Young officer Keith (Robert Francis, who died in a plane crash shortly after making this film) gets assigned to a junky boat with a stern commanding officer. He's relieved when the commander is replaced by Lt. Cmdr. Philip Queeg (Humphrey Bogart). That relief is replaced by anxiety when it becomes apparent Queeg isn't mentally all there. Focusing on petty details, screwing up exercises and fixating on lost strawberries, Queeg is on his last legs as a military officer. When bad navigation almost results in the boat capsizing, the officer next in command (Van Johnson) stages a mutiny.

The film then becomes a shoddy courtroom drama, culminating in a silly scene where Queeg has a mental breakdown in front of the court. Bogart, Johnson and Fred MacMurray all give good performances, but they can't fix the script. José Ferrer shows up as a lawyer, and his good work is sabotaged by a goofy final speech that feels like it should've been in another movie.

Other silliness includes the marbles Queeg always plays with (he takes them out during his final court meltdown), Keith's mommy issues (he can't decide between his mother's love or his girlfriend's) and the bathtub special effects. Sure, the film is more than 50 years old and was made the way it could be made in its day. Still, I like a lot of old movies, and plenty of them had decent effects and scripts before this one.

This is one of those films that I'm supposed to like, but I just don't. It's worth seeing for Bogart and Johnson, but little else.

Special Features: A couple of retrospective documentaries discussing the film's historical worth, and a boring commentary.


Deadwood: The Complete Third Season

HBO
Show A-
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

The town of Deadwood sees some major changes on the horizon as this excellent series comes to what might be a close. HBO announced that they and series creator David Milch had agreed to end this blessedly vulgar Western with a couple of movies. But as time passes, it looks more and more like that isn't going to happen, and fans may just have to make do with Season Three being the last. Deadwood star Timothy Olyphant has moved on to big movies (Live Free or Die Hard, Hitman), as has Ian McShane (Hot Rod). It's a shame we won't get the closure we expected, but the events of Season Three are satisfactory. While we are getting screwed in a way, getting three seasons was quite the gift.

Special Features: Some cast and crew commentaries on four episodes, and a couple of decent documentaries.


Primeval

Hollywood Pictures
Movie D-
Special Features C
DVD Geek Factor 2 (out of 10)

Man, we can't get an alligator movie that's worth a damn these days. First came the stupid Lake Placid, and now this. All right, to be fair, this is actually a giant killer crocodile movie, and I suppose there's a difference.

When I was a kid, I dug Alligator, the cheap film about a baby alligator flushed down a toilet that grows into a monster due to its consumption of human waste. It was on the heels of Jaws, when studios were attempting to do as many killer-animal movies as possible. Alligator was low-budget cheese at its best.

This film, supposedly "inspired" by a true story, involves a 25-foot crocodile that African villagers named Gustave. He likes to eat people, and he does what he likes a lot. An American news team goes to cover the story, and they get more than they bargained for. Actually, that might not be true. Perhaps they did bargain for being scared by a giant crocodile. I've never really understood that saying.

There are a couple of so-so moments involving the croc attacks, including one where a dude's skull gets popped by the croc's jaws. (Well, this is cool if you are into popping heads in horror films.) The monster is CGI and looks rather fake, making it hard to get lost in the movie.

Orlando Jones' career continues its downward spiral, and everybody else in the film doesn't really factor in. There are a couple of OK scares, but they are nothing to write home to Mother about. Well, I don't know; maybe you could write home to Mom about it. "Hey Mom, I saw this suck-ass crocodile movie." That's another saying I never really understood.

Special Features: A croc-umentary (clever), deleted scenes and a director's commentary. You won't care, because the movie blows. They don't even have the decency to kill Orlando Jones on screen.

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