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Showing posts from October 4, 2015

Review: Coriolanus

Ralph Fiennes is Caius Martius, an experienced and successful soldier and general in Rome (which looks an awful lot like modern day Belgrade). He has just fought the Volscians, led by his enemy Aufidius (Gerard Butler). Back home, the now Caius Martius Coriolanus he seems set for a career in politics. However, his attempt to become Consul in the senate hit a few snags. You see, Caius Martius is a pompous prick of a human being who thinks himself well above the people and can’t be arsed when it comes to actually going to talk to the common folk. He’s a soldier, not a diplomat. The people of course, riot, and even those closest to him turn on Caius Martius, including his controlling, militant mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave). Exiled from Rome, the now angry and bitterly disillusioned Caius Martius seeks out his enemy Aufidius for a meeting…and that’s when things get really interesting. Brian Cox plays Menenius, Caius Martius’ most loyal political ally, Jessica Chastain plays Caius Mar…

Review: First Blood

Several years after serving, John Rambo (Sly Stallone), a Medal of Honour-receiving Vietnam vet and Green Beret finds out that one of his comrades has died from Agent Orange-induced cancer. He finds himself drifting into the sleepy small town of Hope, Washington (fictional, but it was filmed in the real Hope…in Canada!) when the local sheriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy) spots him as he drives by. He doesn’t like the long-haired, unshaven look of him and politely tries to get him to drift elsewhere. When it becomes obvious that Rambo (who just wants to be left alone) isn’t going to do this, Teasle sees him as a troublemaker and has him arrested for vagrancy. The subsequent rough treatment by Teasle’s officers, led by the nasty Galt (Jack Starrett) merely serves to inspire extremely traumatic flashbacks for Rambo of his treatment as a POW. He attacks, and runs off into some nearby woods. Teasle and his men (including David Caruso and Chris Mulkey) pursue him, but it quickly becomes clear tha…

Review: The Great Mouse Detective

A young female mouse requests the help of famed (and highly eccentric) mouse detective Basil of Baker Street (voiced by Barrie Ingham, and named after…well, you know who) to find her missing toymaker father (voiced by Alan Young, from TV’s “Mr. Ed”). Basil, being a mouse, lives below the premises of a certain other famous detective of Baker Street. The nefarious villain behind the film’s evil plot is quickly revealed to be Basil’s arch-enemy, the diabolical Rattigan (voiced by Vincent Price). Also aiding Basil and the young girl is the kindly Dr. Dawson (voiced by Val Bettin), though the extent of his usefulness here might be a tad questionable.

Hardly Disney’s finest hour, you can see why this 1986 animated flick isn’t terribly well-remembered or widely viewed today. The 80s weren’t the greatest time for Disney animation, and although watchable, it’s weirdly lacking in the mystery department. I know this wasn’t based on an Arthur Conan Doyle novel, but I mean, this is still essential…

Review: Zombie Shark

Bartender Cassie Steele, her boyfriend (Ross Britz), her younger sister (Sloane Coe), and trashy friend (Becky Andrews) all head out for some fun in the sun, but it all goes to hell when poor Britz finds himself the victim of the title undead shark. Of course, being a movie and all, science is to blame. Ever notice how science is always to blame in movies yet is considered to be the answer for most things in real-life? Movies are weird. Anyway, the shark is the result of a virus created by a well-meaning idiot, er…scientist (Laura Cayouette), and if our protagonists (which includes Roger J. Timber as a goofy resort owner) are to stay alive they must depend on the special security/military guy (Jason London) hired to guard the top-secret science lab. Oh, and did I mention that if you get bitten by a zombie shark you become a zombie too? Well, there’s that to contend with as well.

Although it contains a couple of recognisable names in “Degrassi: TNG” alum Cassie Steele and Jason London …

Review: The Gambler (2014)

Mark Wahlberg plays a college English Lit professor, washed-up novelist, and self-destructive gambler. He seems to have a thing for taking big risks…and often losing big. Perhaps he even has an addiction for losing, not just gambling. His debts to rather dangerous people are starting to pile up, however, as he already owes money to a powerful Korean casino owner, and further borrows money from ruthless loan shark Michael Kenneth Williams, as well as another loan shark played by a bald John Goodman. On the side, we also see Wahlberg’s relationships with smart student Brie Larson and promising basketball player Anthony Kelley. Jessica Lange plays Wahlberg’s fed-up, rich mother, Richard Schiff plays an immigrant pawnbroker, George Kennedy is Wahlberg’s dying grandfather, and Andre Braugher plays a work colleague.

It’s been so long since I’ve seen the 1974 original that I barely remember it, but this 2014 remake from director Rupert Wyatt (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) and screenwrite…

Review: Ratatouille

Set in France, Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) is a rat who has a nose for fine cuisine and an obvious aptitude for cooking that his father (voiced by Brian Dennehy) and the other rats just don’t get. What he doesn’t have are the size and the hands to make a go of it. He’s a rat, after all, though his hero Gusteau (voiced by Brad Garrett, with an accent) claims ‘anyone can cook’, giving Remy hope. He gets his chance to do his thing when dishwasher and wannabe chef Linguini (voiced by Lou Romano) needs some assistance in recreating an infamous Gusteau soup dish (he works in the late chef’s restaurant) or else he will be fired by new head chef Skinner (Ian Holm). Remy obviously can’t allow himself to be seen by Skinner or the customers, but he agrees to help Linguini out by hiding under his chef hat and telling him what to do, mostly via tugging on his hair. Or something like that. Janeane Garofalo voices pretty female chef Colette, whilst Peter O’Toole’s pomposity and put to good use as…

Review: Hook

Peter Pan, ‘The boy who never grew up’ has indeed grown up into an overworked lawyer (Robin Williams) who never has enough time for his kids. He doesn’t seem to remember his true identity, until a trip to England brings him face to face with an elderly Wendy (Dame Maggie Smith). And then his kids end up being kidnapped by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman!), forcing Peter to remember, as Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) takes him to Neverland to rescue the kids. He can’t do this as a mere stuffy lawyer, however. Bob Hoskins plays Hook’s loyal number two Smee, Caroline Goodall plays Peter’s wife, Charlie Korsmo plays one of the kids, Dante Basco plays the leader of the Lost Boys, Arthur Malet plays daffy old Tootles, a young-ish Gwyneth Paltrow plays the young Wendy, Phil Collins plays a police inspector, and David Crosby turns up briefly as a pirate.

I read somewhere that Steven Spielberg thinks the problem with this 1991 re-invention of (or sequel to) “Peter Pan” was the art direction, and that…

Review: The Arrival

Charlie Sheen plays SETI radio astronomer Zane Zaminski, a workaholic who picks up a short signal from the outer limits. He takes it to his boss Phil Gordian (Ron Silver), who thinks he is nuts and that the signal is too short to mean a damn thing. However, soon Zane finds himself out of a job due to ‘budget cuts’ and his fellow astronomer (played by Richard Schiff) gets taken out even more permanently. He takes up a job as a cable TV repairman, and decides to investigate matters on his own, whilst neglecting his poor girlfriend (Teri Polo). Meanwhile, environmentalist/professor Lindsay Crouse has been noticing an alarming trend in the Earth’s climate, which may be in some way related to Zane’s investigation. Leon Rippy and Buddy Joe Hooker turn up as a couple of ominous-looking men, who always seem to be lurking about.

I like a good alien invasion movie, and I like a good B-movie, so this 1996 sleeper from writer-director David Twohy (director of “Pitch Black” and “A Perfect Getaway”

Review: Annabelle

Set in the Manson era, Ward Horton and Annabelle Wallis play expectant parents. Wallis collects porcelain dolls, and Horton brings home another one for her collection. It’s bigger than her other dolls, and frankly a whole lot uglier. One night, it appears that something awful is happening next door, and whilst Horton goes to investigate, Wallis is attacked by a crazy cultist woman who grabs the doll. After spending some time in hospital recovering from this frightening incident, Wallis has her baby and comes home. Eventually, though, work sees the family move to a new town. And that’s when spooky stuff really starts happening, and Wallis starts to suspect the ugly frigging doll might be somewhat the cause of it.

I was a bit ‘meh’ on “The Conjuring”. It came with a lot of hype, and was mildly effective, but I felt its split narrative deflated a lot of the tension/terror for me. However, that film is a damn masterpiece compared to this completely lifeless, dreary 2014 prequel from direc…

Review: Noah

An intense Russell Crowe plays the title character who believes ‘The Creator’ has sent him nightmarish visions of a catastrophic aquatic disaster, and sees it as his mission to build a giant ark and save two of every animal. But does this include ‘Man’? He receives help from rock creatures, supposedly fallen angels. Meanwhile, in direct opposition to Noah and all things ‘Created’ it seems, is Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) a fierce warrior who just plain doesn’t like the cut of Noah’s jib (He also killed Noah’s father way back when), and tries to turn Noah’s son Ham (Logan Lerman) against him. Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson play Noah’s wife Naameh and Ila, an adopted (and supposedly barren) girl, who both start to think Noah’s getting all moody and OCD on this whole Ark-building/prophecy deal. Sir Anthony Hopkins babbles on around the edges as Noah’s berry-loving grandfather Methuselah.

With an apparent non-believer (or at the very least non-practising Jew) at the helm in co-writer/dire…

Review: Blackboard Jungle

Idealistic but no-nonsense teacher Glenn Ford arrives at an urban high school to take a teaching position. Unfortunately, the school seems mostly populated by disinterested and disaffected youths, if not outright hoodlums like Artie West (Vic Morrow), their sneering leader. Anne Francis plays Ford’s pregnant wife, Sidney Poitier is an intelligent but hardened African-American student whom Ford tries to get through to (he’s no thug, just a smart-arse not looking to do Ford any favours), Louis Calhern plays a cynical teacher who despises the students, Maggie Hayes is the hot teacher who arouses the wrong kind of interest in the students, and Richard Kiley plays a nerdy, ineffectual maths teacher. Among the students are such familiar faces as Rafael Campos, Paul Mazursky, and even Jamie ‘Cpl. Klinger’ Farr, as the class ‘dummy’, so to speak.

If you have to see one 50s juvenile delinquent film (or one ‘teacher vs. lower-class teenage gang’ movie for that matter), make it this 1955 film fr…