For an upcoming presentation project, I happened to need some clips from history/fantasy movies that feature armies. Since there are too many movies meeting that criteria, I assembled a big list, some of which I’d seen before, most of which I hadn’t, and combed through them for good scenes to use as examples. But, if I actually watched them all, it would’ve taken something like four days of continuous viewing. So instead, I watched them in x2 or x4 speed, slowing when something caught my eye. So, here are my reviews of movies I sped-watched.
I’d seen this one before, but not since it was in theaters. Hearing the Spartans yell with sped-up audio makes them sound adorable. I eventually muted it.
300 Rise of an Empire
Even speed watching this, I could tell it was terrible. Also, portraying Themistocles as basically indistinguishable from Leonidas is a huge miss. Themistocles, aka man with the-most-ocles, is the best character in the Peloponnesian War.
Aguirre The Wrath of God
My film-knowledgeable friend recommended this one to me (along with many others on this list). It’s amazing that even watching something in high speed you can still tell a quality film. One of Herzog’s early movies, the bleakness and madness were remarkably evident. Will have to re-watch at normal human speed at some point.
Terrible. I watched the ‘Final Cut’ which was over three hours long. The bumbling construction of the narrative is evident even at a glance.
Was no good for my purposes, but actually looked pretty cool. I think Sean Bean might actually be a Medieval person who was flung forward in time.
Great battles, rest drags. Aged less well than expected.
An Erroll Flynn classic that’s just as entertaining now as it was 80 years ago. The sword fights with Basil Rathbone are a must see.
Conan the Barbarian (the original)
Clearly a bad movie, but also visually arresting and entertaining. Arnold’s dialogue is laughable, but it has good adventure story pacing. Also the scene where he bites a vulture’s neck is timeless.
Conan the Barbarian (2011 remake)
I love Jason Mamoa, but this was a terrible movie. Great visuals and fight choreography do not a movie make.
Curse of the Golden Flower
I don’t want to watch this at normal speed because it’ll ruin what a surreal movie it is at high speed. It flits randomly between scenes of the emperor at court, and ridiculously over the top scenes of an army invading the Forbidden Palace. Presumably the narrative provides a reason for this, but it’s better as non sequitur.
The dragon looks decent for 20 year old CGI, but the movie overall clearly lacks. Dennis Quaid appears as “We couldn’t get Kevin Costner.”
Another recommendation from my friend. I hated the lead guy, but everything else about this 1981 film looked awesome.
I can’t believe this came out so soon after Monty Python’s Holy Grail, since it’s basically the same movie but played straight.
Had to slow down to hear the St. Crispin’s Day speech. I’m not a philistine.
Beautiful cinematography, really compelling to look at. Nonsense otherwise though.
Kingdom of Heaven
Too long, but this might be a decent movie really. Everyone is great but Orlando. This came out during that period post-Pirates when people thought he might be a good period-piece lead. He wasn’t, though.
I found Matthew Broderick grating and unbelievable, but he had some good moments. Otherwise the movie looks okay, but I don’t think the “turns into a wolf/hawk” schtick can really provide a movie’s worth of interesting situations. They’d be better as side characters in a TV show.
Prince of Persia
Amazing, even sped up.
A Conan spinoff that is much less engaging. The glowing green orb Macguffin is an amazing “This is the 1980s!” visual cue though.
Robin Hood Prince of Thieves
Didn’t grab me, think I prefer the Cary Elwes parody.
Snow White and the Huntsman
Nonsensical. Also the dwarf-face is a little cringe-worthy.
Spartacus (1960, not the recent minseries)
Overlong, but really still pretty good. The battle scenes are insane.
The 13th Warrior
Antonio Banderas really sinks what is otherwise a pretty decent historical fantasy movie.
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Another Erroll Flynn great, the sword fights are classic. I mean literally. Archetypal, even.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
Tilda Swinton is great, the rest is pretty silly. Trying to play this as relatively serious fantasy fare a la Lord of the Rings was clearly a mistake.
The Golden Compass
Nicole Kidman’s acting grates even when sped up. Moreso even.
Lord of the Rings
Amazing, really top-notch. It’s got some problems, but these are really stellar movies. I also had never seen the uncut versions before. It’s like 12 hours long. I don’t think I could watch these at normal speed. There are entire seasons of television shows shorter than that.
There’s a decent movie lurking in here somewhere, and it’s hard to find better source material than the Illiad, but this really isn’t great. Supporting cast does great, Pitt and Bloom detract.
… and, that’s it! So, should you too watch movies in spedup time as a time saver? No, it was pretty harrowing. Stick to normal speed.