About This Blog

A place to find my reviews not featured on epinions.com or horror-asylum.com, as well as opinions and lists on everything from movies to TV to music. It's all about me! Send hate mail to vegie18th@hotmail.com or just leave a comment beneath the posts. Review grading system assumes C+ is somewhere in the vicinity of a Passing grade or minor fail.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: Young Adult


Charlize Theron was the popular girl in school, but that was many years ago. She now finds herself at age 37 recently divorced, and although she’s largely responsible for the success of a series of teen Goth romance novels, it’s basically as a ghost writer. She has writer’s block, is an alcoholic, obsessively pulls her hair, and oh yeah, she’s a self-absorbed bitch. Then one day she receives an email from her former high school flame (Patrick Wilson), wanting to inform her of the little bundle of joy he and his wife (Elizabeth Reaser, ironically a “Twilight” alum) have just had. Theron is so overjoyed for them that she decides to race back to her hometown (where it appears she’s the only one who left) and get her hooks back into Wilson. Because they are meant to be together, apparently. She finds, however, that Wilson is happily married and Reaser is a warm-hearted, nice woman who even tries to be friendly towards Theron. Not that Theron will be deterred, I mean how could Wilson possibly enjoy married life or being a dad? That’s her way of thinking at least. Meanwhile, Theron runs into former high school social outcast Patton Oswalt, who was once beaten up because people thought he was gay, and still has the unfortunate wounds to show for it. Perhaps sensing she’s as lonely as he is, Oswalt does his best to warn Theron against what will surely be embarrassment for herself. Collette Wolfe plays Oswalt’s bored sister, Jill Eikenberry is Theron’s mother, while Mary Beth Hurt plays Wilson’s mother.

 

There’s some interesting stuff in this 2011 black comedy from director Jason Reitman (the excellent “Up in the Air”) and writer Diablo Cody (the nauseatingly ‘hip’ indie darling “Juno”) about the depression, regret, and disappointments of post high school life. It’s something a lot of people can relate to, myself included. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Reaser and her fellow mums rocked it out in a musical performance where you could see the characters were clearly having fun and possibly reminiscing about pre baby-making life (or at least escaping it for a few minutes). Unfortunately, there isn’t a single laugh in the entire film and spending 90 minutes with a truly horrible, selfish lead character didn’t do a whole lot for me. Understanding somewhat where a character is coming from and sitting through their selfish, rather unpleasant behaviour are two totally different things. In fact, she’s clearly got issues (including alcoholism and a weird habit of pulling out her hair- clearly there’s some psychological issues at play) and is just as selfish at the end as she is in the beginning, if perhaps happier. Good for her, not so good for everyone else. By the close, at least one person deserves an apology from Theron and doesn’t get it, one person is basically loved and left (but Theron feels better for it), and another begs Theron to do something for them and she refuses. I was especially miffed that after a rather affecting and refreshingly real love scene of sorts, practically nothing is made of it subsequently.

 

The film seems to lack a real ending, to be honest, and as I said, Theron’s character is tough to be around. But that might be because she’s got psychological issues and so by the end of the film, having not really dealt with those issues shouldn’t be a surprise. That doesn’t mean it makes for a satisfying conclusion, however. Still, unlikeable as it is, it’s not uninteresting material, and certainly better than “Bad Teacher” (though it’s probably better to compare it to Cody’s “United States of Tara”, given the obvious instability of Theron’s character).

 

Theron is merely OK in the lead, Oswalt, Reaser, and the underrated Wolfe (not in the film enough) are even better, though Oswalt’s character is probably a bit too unfortunate. I mean, he was a high school loser, the victim of a school gay hate crime (despite not actually being gay), has an unfortunate injury, lives with his sister, and has a typically geeky action figure collection. Did he really need all of those things? Patrick Wilson, meanwhile, still manages to find work despite being the cinematic equivalent of beige wallpaper. Actually, that’s an insult to beige wallpaper, which at least serves a purpose. Why would one woman, let alone two be interested in him? At least in “Watchmen” he was in tight rubber and some chicks are into that.

 

It’s not a terrible film by any means, but wasn’t there meant to be, y’know, laughs? I barely cracked a smile. I’ll blame this one more on the overrated Cody than the talented Reitman (then again, Reitman directed “Juno” too). I suppose it’s kinda bold to have a rather unlikeable character at the centre of what is essentially a romantic comedy, but it results in no laughs and an unsatisfying conclusion. It just doesn’t come off.

 

Rating: C+

Review: Man on Fire


Scott Glenn plays a burnt-out ex-CIA agent assigned by pal Joe Pesci the task of bodyguard to the 12 year-old daughter (Jade Malle- not very accomplished but unaffected) of a rich Italian businessman and his wife (played by noted Italian thesps Jonathan Pryce and Brooke Adams), who are rarely home enough to look after her. Although he has an almost zombified, uncommunicative exterior (he’s been through hell and doesn’t want to get too close to the girl), the cute kid starts to soften the hard arse somewhat, before she is kidnapped by a crim named Conti (Danny Aiello) and his cohorts. Held for a million dollars ransom, Glenn (who was wounded during the kidnapping) decides to work outside the law and become a one-man army to get her back. Lou Castel plays one of the henchmen.

 

The story goes that Tony Scott (“Top Gun”) wanted to direct this 1987 kidnap/vigilante film, but the studio didn’t think him suitable enough. He would get a chance to remake the film in 2004, and the result was a sickeningly sadistic, shamefully manipulative, and grossly over-extended dressed-up B-movie. The original is still largely the same story, and a vigilante movie at its core, but this cheapie from √Člie Chouraqui (“Love Songs” with Catherine Deneuve) is thankfully not as violent, not quite as manipulative, and it’s biggest sin is being flat and uninteresting (And yet, amazingly it doesn’t come from The Cannon Group!). Yes, it’s a better film, but not enough to make me care.

 

Scott Glenn, although a very stoic and somewhat unreadable actor (although excellent in the right role), is much more convincing in the lead role than was Denzel Washington. Unlike Denzel, you believe he’s capable of being hardened and then softened by the kid, before going into revenge mode. He’s more effective in action mode than in his scenes with the kid, but still the balance is better. Denzel only got the softy part and even then relied heavily on the treacly sweetness of Dakota Fanning, which became shamefully manipulative and overdone very quickly. Glenn can be a bit of a robotic actor in the wrong role (“Urban Cowboy” springs to mind), but his almost exhausted sounding and looking quality is quite right for this part. Early on he looks practically suicidal, and gets even worse as the film goes along, and that’s kinda the point. There’s also two fine performances from a lively Joe Pesci and dangerous Danny Aiello, though the latter isn’t in the film quite enough to truly resonate as the villain. In fact, given his exit from the film, he feels more like a henchman (That’s blonde Spaghetti Western star Lou Castel as the only henchman you’ll recognise here). I will say, though, that John Turturro should’ve studied Aiello’s work here in preparation for “Miller’s Crossing” to see how to effectively convey terror at being held at gunpoint without turning into a nauseatingly overdone, simpering, wimpy mess. What has happened to Aiello these days? I haven’t seen him in ages. Maybe he co-owns Pesci’s restaurant? A shameful waste of Jonathan Pryce, and especially the talented Brooke Adams in roles that appear to have mostly been left on the cutting room floor. Certainly, their introductions into the film are clunkily handled. Not keen on the hoary old “Sunset Blvd” narration device, either, despite Glenn’s hardboiled delivery not being the worst thing in the world (He has a world-weary quality that would’ve been great for 1940s noir). It’s not something I’ve ever liked, as it seems to ruin suspense somewhat, or turns out to have lied to you.

 

The director doesn’t quite over-indulge in fancy-arse tricks like Tony Scott, but the use of slow-mo is unnecessary and pretentious, as is the pre-John Woo blowing curtains. The film is thankfully nowhere near as long as the remake, but even so, ½ an hour is way too long to wait for the kidnapping in a film that only runs about 90 minutes. Maybe that makes it too short, then. I was glad about the restraint in regards to the violence, though. I love violent movies, but the combo of sicko “Death Wish”-style vengeance and treacly sentiment in the remake was toxic to me, and so having most of it take place off-screen here made it more palatable.

 

The French-born Chouraqui co-wrote with Sergio Donati (the landmark “Once Upon a Time in the West”, and “Beyond Justice”, with a slumming Rutger Hauer), from the A.J. Quinnell novel of the same name. It’s not awful, it’s not shameful like the remake, but it’s not worth your time, either. It’s junk, but at least it’s not 145 minutes worth of junk.

 

Rating: C

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil


John Cusack stars as a New York reporter hired by a magazine to cover a swank Christmas party in Savannah, Georgia, hosted by rich Southern gentleman Kevin Spacey (insinuating, charismatic, and slightly elusive). It is there that Cusack is introduced to various colourful locals. After the party concludes, Cusack goes home. However, his slumber doesn’t last long because he hears a lot of commotion from Spacey’s place across the street from where Cusack is residing. It turns out that Spacey has shot and killed a young man played by Jude Law, who had earlier been making drunken threats to Spacey (an antiques dealer, by the way), and who was Spacey’s lover. Now what was going to be a disposable puff piece about a swank party, has turned into a murder trial story involving one of Savannah’s most prominent (and ‘in the closet’) citizens. He even manages to get the exclusive coverage by agreeing to help Spacey (who claims self-defence) and his attorney (Jack Thompson) in the investigation of the case. Meanwhile, Cusack encounters two feminine inhabitants of Savannah, the alluring Mandy (Alison Eastwood), and The Lady Chablis (played by one and the same), who isn’t your traditional girl, she is in fact a transsexual. The Lady Chablis apparently knew the deceased well. Bob Gunton plays the prosecuting attorney, Irma P. Hall is the local voodoo priestess, Geoffrey Lewis is a local weirdo who may be concocting deadly poisons, Anne Haney plays Spacey’s mother, and Kim Hunter is another local who aids Cusack.

 

Forging a mid 70s-early 80s niche as the star of several reactionary, rather right-wing urban actioners, Clint Eastwood has had a much more varied and unusual career as a director after making his directorial debut with the excellent “Play Misty For Me” in 1971. Beginning with this 1997 adaptation of a John Berendt book (mostly non-fiction), Eastwood was making films that touched on topics you wouldn’t immediately associate with the guy who recently and most notoriously mocked President Obama by talking to an empty chair. The star of such homophobic and right-wing endeavours as “Sudden Impact” was quite possibly evolving. Here was a story that touched on homosexuality and also featured prominent gay and transsexual characters, and it doesn’t exactly demonise or even ridicule them. In fact, perhaps the worst sin committed here by Eastwood and writer John Lee Hancock (director of the overrated “The Blind Side”, writer of Eastwood’s not bad “A Perfect World”) is that the main character played by John Cusack and apparently based on Berendt himself, has been changed from a gay man to a straight man. This is regrettable, but anyone who accuses Eastwood of homophobia here is misguided. For starters, I don’t think Mr. Eastwood agrees with the disgusted sentiment of the local townsfolk upon learning of Spacey’s private affairs. It seems as though he’s condemning them for their intolerance. Why would a homophobe do such a thing? He wouldn’t. And try as Eastwood and screenwriter Hancock might (if you believe this is what their agenda is), the Cusack character still feels as though he was meant to be seen as gay anyway, at least in the early stages of the film, and there’s plenty of swish going on around him anyway and that’s before the drag queen even turns up (KD Lang is even on the soundtrack!). Kevin Spacey (whose character is a grown man with a cat, which tells you a lot), for instance, seems to be trying to suggest an attraction between his character and Cusack’s (and it’s interesting that after Spacey disappoints Cusack at one point, Cusack almost immediately seeks out Ms. Eastwood to kiss her. Frustrated much, Mr. Cusack?). I also think making Cusack straight allows him to function as the surrogate for the viewer to the colourful surroundings. Sure, there are plenty of gay viewers out there, but it’s not such a terrible idea in that sense to give someone for the majority of the audience to latch onto.

 

But there’s no doubt that the change is a problem, because it feels tacked-on when Cusack mentions that he’s straight. It may not be homophobic, but it doesn’t feel authentic or organic to the story, either, with everything else I’ve mentioned. Was it tacked-on after bad test screenings? It feels that way to me, rather than simply laying the blame at Mr. Eastwood or even the screenwriter. So I condemn the execution more than the idea itself here. Anyway, I just needed to get that out of the way before discussing perhaps more relevant aspects of the film.

 

The film takes too long to get to where it’s going (and is far too long overall), and to be honest, it gets sidetracked with the character of The Lady Chablis instead of focusing on whether Kevin Spacey is guilty or innocent. Meanwhile, in a case of nepotism gone wrong, Alison Eastwood is completely out of her depth as the love interest of the Cusack character, perhaps shoe-horned into the story to offset any residual ‘gayness’ (she’s essentially a ‘beard’), but more likely just so Clint could attempt to kick-start his daughter’s career. She simply hasn’t got the chops for the part (playing a florist who moonlights as a torch-singing noirish siren!), and although not unattractive, she hasn’t quite got the body for it, either to be (brutally) honest. She’s not Sofia Coppola levels of ineptitude (and apparently her casting in a film directed by her dad was actually incidental- yeah, I believe that), but the actress is nonetheless a really phony element in an otherwise convincing, wonderfully colourful and atmospheric depiction of Savannah, Georgia. It’s the best thing about the entire film. Whatever the film’s flaws, a lack of atmosphere ain’t one of ‘em because this oozes Southern Gothic atmosphere from moment one with wonderful locations. Eastwood successful makes Savannah feel like an outwardly ‘respectable’ town almost bursting at the seams, barely concealing its secrets and sinister intentions.

 

Unfortunately, while all this atmosphere and conspiratorial goings on give us a fascinating set-up, it’s these very same things that end up looking awfully foolish when one realises that the central mystery isn’t worth it. Either Spacey killed in cold blood or he did it for another reason. Either way, we know he did it, so the build-up, police incompetence and so forth seems unwarranted for what is a fairly uninteresting crime. When one gets to the conclusion, yes it’s a tad more complicated, but only a tad, and certainly not anything much of a moral dilemma. You could even argue that Eastwood has populated the film with well-known and interesting names and faces to cover for a story that is lacking. So the film ends up being a disappointing fizzer at the end of the day, despite some very commendable elements.

 

Chief among these positives are the performances by Cusack, Aussie legend Jack Thompson (who steals any scene Kevin Spacey isn’t in), Jude Law, and Kevin Spacey in one of his very best performances (and that’s saying something). John Cusack is a sturdy presence in the lead, but there’s no doubt that some of the people around him act him off the screen at times. Aside from some seriously distracting brown contact lenses that make him look like one of those aliens from “The X-Files”, Spacey’s in particularly fine form here. He acts like he’s the only one in the film who knows how all this ends. He looks typically amused with himself throughout and it’s a fun performance that has you changing your mind constantly whether this guy is merely a cold-blooded murderer or something more complex. Jack Thompson adopts one of his better yank accents in a choice role here. His performance sits somewhere in the vicinity of Burl Ives without tipping over into latter day, overly indulgent Orson Welles. If you’re going to see this film, it should be for Spacey and our Jack, both seemingly having a great time, too. Jude Law doesn’t get much screen time, but with short shrift given to him, he nonetheless makes for an instantly worrying presence.

 

Look out for fine work by Kim Hunter, Bob Gunton (perfect casting as the dispassionate prosecutor), Leon Rippy, and Irma P. Hall (the latter almost single-handedly supplying the voodoo flavour) in too-small but memorable roles. Poor Anne Haney misses out as Spacey’s mother, seemingly waiting around to be written into the film, and as for Eastwood regular Geoffrey Lewis’ character, all I can do is throw my hands up in the air. I have no clue what the hell that was all about. And then there is non-actor The Lady Chablis, playing herself (most of the characters are based on real people, even if some of the names have been changed) like I imagine no other could. The Lady Chablis is certainly no actor, but so what? Who better to play The Lady Chablis than The Lady Chablis? It’s perfect casting, no matter the quality of the performance. I must say, though, that I found it absolutely bizarre that seemingly no one in the film could tell that The Lady Chablis was not, in fact, a lady. It’s obvious, isn’t it?

 

Look, this is in some ways an interesting failure from Eastwood, but interesting not so much in terms of being an entertaining film, more in terms of thinking about how it sits with the earlier persona Eastwood had forged and his well-established Republican/Conservative allegiance. The film itself starts off interestingly and full of flavour, but is too slow and ultimately one realises the central mystery has no real juice to it. Still, it’s almost worth watching just to see Spacey and Thompson at work (both should’ve been Oscar-nominated if you ask me), and to see Eastwood seemingly maturing and evolving through his cinematic work. This ain’t no reactionary, right-wing vigilante cop movie.

 

Rating: C

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Space Jam


Nasty aliens capture the beloved Looney Tunes cartoon characters but said characters manage to convince the aliens to partake in a game of basketball to decide their fate instead. The nasty aliens, being nasty aliens, cheat and steal the talents of just about every big-time basketball star you can think of. But the Looney Tunes characters have one ace up their sleeve; retired NBA star turned mediocre baseball player Michael Jordan! Charles Barkley and Bill Murray play versions of themselves, Wayne Knight plays a baseball publicist, and Theresa Randle fakes being Jordan’s wife.

 

From what I’ve heard, part of the reason why director Joe Dante wanted to do “Looney Tunes: Back in Action” was to make up for this 1996 flick directed by Joe Pytka (“Let it Ride”, and several Michael Jackson music videos). I don’t know exactly why Dante doesn’t seem to be a fan of “Space Jam”, but I have a feeling he’d agree with a lot of the problems I had with this awful Michael Jordan vehicle masquerading as a Looney Tunes flick. For starters, the voices are all wrong, despite the same person voicing Bugs Bunny in both this and “Looney Tunes: Back in Action”. I don’t recall having a problem with it in that film, but here, the voices of Bugs, Daffy Duck, and especially Foghorn Leghorn and Pepe La Pew are absolutely positively wrong. Only Porky Pig manages to sound just about right, but let’s face it, most people can do a pretty decent Porky Pig imitation, so that’s no surprise. This matters. The Muppets voices to my ears haven’t changed all that much since Jim Henson’s death, but the Looney Tunes characters here just didn’t sound right to me.

 

Worst of all, however, the film’s basketball-centred plot results in the beloved cartoon characters being robbed of any uniqueness and old foes end up playing alongside one another in a basketball match just to pimp Michael Jordan. Marvin the Martian on the same team as Bugs Bunny? Fuck off. Apparently the film is inspired by a Pepsi commercial where Bugs and Jordan teamed up to take on Marvin’s team. That was closer to the right idea. Dispensing with basketball altogether would’ve been even better. I’m sorry, but my interest in basketball lasted about six months when I was 11 years-old. I can’t stand to watch it now. And Lola Bunny? Hell no, the only girl bunny in a Looney Tunes cartoon should be played by Bugs Bunny in drag. Then again, with a name like Lola, who knows what’s she’s hiding, am I right? The plot is embarrassingly flimsy- how could Ivan Reitman (“Twins”, “Ghostbusters”) lower himself to produce this crap? How did it end up making so much money? Didn’t word of mouth eventually spread? This isn’t Looney Tunes, it’s a Happy Meal. Except the toy is an already broken piece of crap.

 

The dopey alien antagonists (including their leader voiced by Danny De Vito) are another way to piss off purists. The animation itself is sadly not much better, as the animators for some reason have attempted to add shadow and shine to the characters that only results in dating the film very badly. It’s a terribly heavy-handed, charmless visual approach. Even the integration of animation and live-action is surprisingly bad. It’s actually even worse than 1988’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”, when it’s supposed to be the other way around, isn’t it?

 

Perhaps the biggest sin of all is that none of the cartoon characters are allowed to be remotely funny, and the only chuckles come from Bill Murray, who probably wasn’t even trying very hard. And this is in a film where Michael Jordan stretches himself by playing a basketball player turned crappy baseball player. The man has zero charisma. A great athlete, dull human being, and I’m sorry, was I supposed to sympathise with someone who was the best at one sport but decided to be crap at another sport? I have no sympathy for someone like that, sorry. Wayne Knight (Newman!) is always fun to see, but unfortunately isn’t seen often enough. Meanwhile, Charles Barkley is a slightly more engaging screen presence than Jordan, but not nearly good enough to save this film from being ‘turrible’.

 

This is the first time in my life that I haven’t laughed once at Daffy or Marvin. I also hated the film’s inexplicably popular soundtrack. Aside from Seal’s surprisingly cool cover version of Steve Miller Band’s ‘Fly Like an Eagle’, we’re forced to endure ‘Whoomp! (There it Is)’, and R. Kelly’s overplayed ‘I Believe I Can Fly’, as well as songs by Busta Rhymes, 2 Unlimited and (the sometimes cool) Spin Doctors.

 

This film does not love Looney Tunes. It’s using Looney Tunes to sell Michael Jordan and basketball, and to make loads of money. At best, it should’ve been a five minute short before a real movie. The material is thinner than thin could be. It also fails to provide adults with any entertainment whatsoever, unlike real Looney Tunes cartoons have and should. Hell, even kids deserve better than this crap.

 

If you love basketball and shite mid 90s R&B, maybe you’ll get something out of this film. All others are advised to stay away, especially fans of Looney Tunes characters who will find it a chore. Looney Tunes should never be a chore. The screenplay is by Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick (who both later wrote the watchable Will Ferrell vehicle “Kicking & Screaming”), Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod (who both contributed to “Trading Places”, “Twins”, and “Kindergarten Cop”). I doubt any of them are Looney Tunes fans.

 

Rating: D

Review: Rage of the Yeti


David Chokachi and Matthew Kevin Anderson are cocky treasure hunters hired by douchy millionaire philanthropist David Hewlett to look for a prized ancient text somewhere in the Arctic. When they arrive, they are beset by nasty Yetis. Yes, Yetis. They must work with a research team stationed there (headed by Yancy Butler) if they are to stay alive and kill these horrible beasties. Oh, but Hewlett sends word that he wants one of the buggers alive. Y’know, just ‘coz he can. But- and here’s the shocker of all shockers- the Yetis don’t much like being captured, so they kinda put up a bit of resistance. Deadly resistance.


Every now and then, the SyFy channel make a film that doesn’t suck. “Arctic Predator” was one, and so is this 2011 flick from director/co-star David Hewlett (a “Stargate: Atlantis” alum), and writers Brooks Peck and Craig Engler. It’s stupid and the FX are frankly appalling (look at the fake backgrounds for most of Hewlett’s scenes!), but it’s a competent yarn and most of the acting is light-years above the norm for SyFy.


I’m not sure where Yancy Butler has been since 1993’s “Hard Target”, but she’s held up pretty well over the years, and she and former “Baywatch” dude David Chokachi are far from the worst ‘stars’ out there. I mean, at least Chokachi isn’t as bad an actor as David Hasselhoff or Kelly Slater, right? Hewlett, meanwhile, steals his own film with a wonderfully douchy performance. Some of the Russian (or Romanian? Bulgarian? French-Canadian perhaps?) actors in supporting roles, meanwhile, are better at hiding their accents than others.


If they hadn’t modelled the FX on the Abominable Snowman from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (except it appears to have a sphincter for a mouth) this might’ve been something. And why did they make the Yeti look like an abominable snowman? It’s supposed to basically be Bigfoot or a Yowie, which isn’t quite the same. Anyway, it looks so unbelievably fake amidst the very real scenery that it ends up looking like stock footage of a CGI creature! With good CGI, things would look seamless, especially if your actors are familiar with acting in CGI-geared films. But this is as far from seamless as you can get outside of an Edward D. Wood Jr. film.

 
It’s a pretty gory film, and I particularly enjoyed one head splat moment. That was nice. The weird thing is though, that the blood looked like practical FX, whilst the creature is CGI. Huh? Just goes to show that if you don’t have the right budget for good CGI, practical FX are the way to go. I also have to say that the film looks really nice. Most snowbound films tend to look a bit ugly in night scenes, but this film thankfully doesn’t have too many of those (though some of it is clearly green screen, too).

 
Overall, this is competent stuff for the most part, and whenever the Yeti isn’t around, it’s an easy watch. With a low budget and poor FX, I can only really praise it by SyFy standards, though. On that level, it’s pretty good (probably one of SyFy’s best ever), but I doubt it has much appeal outside of that niche market.


Rating: C+

Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: Deliverance


Four men from the city (Atlanta to be exact) get in over their heads on a weekend canoe trip into backwoods territory when confronted by two single-minded creeps; toothless Coward and, intimidating and repugnant McKinney (the latter would go on to a respectable career in B movies and the occasional Clint Eastwood film. The former, however, would not). Reynolds is the brawny, uber-macho survivalist nut (still a suburbanite, though), Beatty is the somewhat irritable and irritating chubby one (you can call him Piggy, though), Cox the sensitive pacifist (perhaps the moral compass, but is such a thing plausible in Hicksville, USA? Not my criticism, but probably one of the film’s), and Voight is the somewhat quite and unsure one (you can call him Deer in Headlights).

 

Unusual, interesting (if supremely overrated), well-shot 1972 John Boorman (the even more overrated dark fantasy “Excalibur”) film is pretty well-done on all fronts (even Reynolds is good in this, in easily the best film of his career), but personally I think it would’ve been better had Reynolds switched places with Beatty for one ‘key’ scene (anyone who has seen the film knows exactly what scene I mean), to better drive home the film’s points about challenging the notion of masculinity.

 

Furthermore…I can’t say I have any great desire to see this film again (it’s a lot better than the somewhat similar “Straw Dogs”, though), after having endured the rather unsavoury goings on twice now. That’s enough for me, I’m afraid, and it does drag on a bit at the end, too. Love the ‘Duelling Banjos’ scene of course, and some of the action scenes on the water rapids are top-notch for that sort of thing. The screenplay is by novelist James Dickey (who appears at the end of the film as a sheriff), and the rugged scenery is wonderfully captured by Vilmos Zsigmond (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “The Deer Hunter”), one of the film’s chief assets.

 
Rating: B-