Friday, August 29, 2014

1941 (1979) Review:

Strange projects are common among popular directors. There's always that one oddball of the whole group that stands out from the rest. The thing is, this isn't the good kind of notoriety. These individual ugly ducklings reign supreme of being the film that doesn't fall in the same line as the rest of the director’s efforts. Although Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) wasn't at all written as effectively as Jaws (1975), it had smart visuals and an interesting concept to back it up. That still didn't make it entertaining though. It was a far cry from being good. But, after viewing this, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) at least has a plot in some respects. Here, director Steven Spielberg goes all out with the quality of his production and totally ignores the narrative aspect to this movie. It truly is a bad movie.

It looks like fun,.....but you'd be wrong
Shockingly, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, the two who would make the ever-popular Back to the Future (1985) trilogy, carried out the writing. It's just baffling though to how here bad the story telling is. The problem is that there is no story. Throughout the entire running time, viewers just follow random events of different groups of individuals until all of their story lines collide at the climax. The only thing connecting them altogether is that it’s the year 1941 - that's a very weak connection. Even worse is the grand magnitude of the casting that was done for this movie. You have Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, John Belushi, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee, Treat Williams, Nancy Allen, John Candy, Slim Pickens, Michael McKean, Dick Miller, Mickey Rourke and the list goes on and on. Yet, not one character has any sort of development. Not a shred. They are all just randomly placed characters in a period piece with no exposition to their background or contain much humanity.

Speaking of period piece, who's idea was it to make this a comedy? There were only about three times I chuckled...forget laughing. Was this film supposed to parody that of what America went through during World War II? It wasn't memorable nor did it feel respectful for the people who gave their lives (on either side). What's even more disrespectful is that none of the scenes connect very well or make much sense. There's a city brawl scene that goes on for minutes on end. There are scenes where viewers watch John Belushi fly his plane with little to no reason until much later. Come on guys, make a story. Spielberg's direction is also very questionable this time around. I'm not sure what his angle was but in every scene something is being demolished. It's as if Spielberg was testing to see how many perfectly good-looking set pieces he could destroy. In some ways it feels like the 70s version of a Michael Bay explosion extravaganza. It never stops.

Nothing on Belushi, but this character is just there....
Plus with the editing, the running time, which is only 2 hours, feels like an eternity. Michael Kahn, an editor for several famous movies must've been off his rocker for this one. How did he not think there weren't any scenes to trim? The cinematography isn't very special because majority of the movie is in the dark. Not a very visual experience. The practical effects are good but again with everything else a miss, it's not much praising over. Even John Williams' score was mehh. It definitely had the classic Williams listening experience but for a film that was so hodge-podge it barely makes up for the problems. Plus, I heard no memorable theme. Williams can do better than that.

It has good practical effects, a large cast of famous actors and acceptable music. However, with scenes that barely connect with one another, thin characters, questionable humor and a transparent plot, this is by far Steven Spielberg's worst movies. What was he thinking?

Points Earned -->2:10

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