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Showing posts from July 24, 2016

Review: Series 7: The Contenders

It’s all about a sicko TV show wherein people are forced to play a game of death, until there is only one contestant left, whose only reward is being alive. Brooke Smith plays the current champion, a vicious, trash-talking and heavily pregnant young woman.

Heavy-handed 2001 Daniel Minahan faux-reality TV show satire earns points for prescience (The reality TV boom had pretty much just started finding its legs), but is otherwise completely boring (and ugly, thanks to being shot on video- ugh!), like a cute short film stretched to feature length. The result is too many wink-wink ‘creditable’ performances (Smith is good, but perhaps too good, it comes off like a performance which isn’t how it should work), horribly unlikeable characters, and a whole lotta dead spots.

Might’ve worked as a cable TV series (which it was originally conceived as), if they could come up with something new and interesting each week, but as a feature film, it’s a chore. It’s not even as violent as I was expectin…

Review: Doom

Marines led by Sarge (The Rock, not his best performance) venture to Mars where a science lab is being terrorised by an unseen nasty that proceeds to pick off scientists and marines alike one by one. Karl Urban plays John Grimm, whose estranged sister (Rosamund Pike, completely bland) is at the lab. Dexter Fletcher also works there, and is in a wheelchair…I guess that’s supposed to be character depth. Yup, the story really is that thin, folks, and the characters are even thinner than tissue paper.

Aside from one or two cool visual touches employed by director Andrzej Bartkowiak (the average but not awful “Exit Wounds” and “Romeo Must Die”), this lame 2005 video game adaptation is like a second or third generation “Aliens” rip-off (with a little “Resident Evil”, which wasn’t half-bad), except this one has no payoff- it literally is just 90 minutes of walking around dark tunnels and pointing big-arse guns, occasionally even firing them. Snore.
The Rock is sadly underused (his character …

Review: The Last American Virgin

Slightly awkward rather average teen Lawrence Monoson is obsessed with losing his virginity, and is even more obsessed with the pretty Diane Franklin (also a virgin). Unfortunately, while he tentatively begins to woo her, his more assured buddy Steve Antin goes for the direct approach and beats him to the punch, as he and Franklin begin dating while Monoson looks on forlorn and mopey. Meanwhile the trio (which also includes chubby party animal Joe Rubbo) try all manner of ways to ‘get laid’, ranging from seducing a trio of girls with promises of drugs, an encounter with a horny Spanish woman (Louisa Moritz), and even hiring a creepy hooker. Of course, Antin’s complicitness in all this debauchery just further proves his unworthiness to have Franklin, making Monoson even angrier and sadder about it all. But when Franklin ends up in an unfortunate position that causes Antin to want nothing to do with her, Monoson has his chance to show her his true feelings and intentions.

Never judge a …

Review: Ant-Man

Paul Rudd plays Scott, a recently released convicted thief who wants to put his life back together so that he can have better access to his estranged daughter and be a good dad. Unfortunately, times are tough and there just doesn’t seem to be any career opportunities for him. When one of his no-good buddies (Michael Pena) suggests a ‘job’ that’ll help with the cash flow situation, Scott agrees to do a break in at some old rich guy’s place. The job seemingly turns out to be a dud, though, as the only thing Scott finds in the safe is a strange outfit. He takes the article of clothing with him, and when he tries it on, he realises this is no ordinary suit. In fact, a switch attached to it shrinks Scott down to the size of an insect!

The suit’s owner, Dr. Pym (Michael Douglas) was observing the robbery remotely the whole time and has him arrested. However, it turns out that Dr. Pym (an entomologist) actually set the entire thing up for Scott to find his Ant-Man suit. Pym, who not only des…

Review: Eye of the Beast

James Van Der Beek plays a Richard Dreyfuss-esque research scientist sent to a small Canadian fishing village to investigate the decrease in the population of fish in the local lake, not to mention three mysterious deaths. The lack of fish has meant that the village is doing it kinda tough, making tensions between the white villagers and the indigenous population rise even higher than normal. The indigenous people believe a giant squid creature to be responsible for killing off all the fish, whilst the whites pig-headedly scoff at any such suggestions. In fact, they think it’s just an Indian conspiracy to close down the fishery. Not surprisingly, Van Der Beek starts out agreeing with the whites, but soon turns around to the indigenous way of thinking. But what will the company backing his little research gig think when Van Der Beek starts crying ‘Giant Freaking Squid!’? Alexandra Castillo plays the town sheriff who would like to play unbiased peace-keeper, but her mixed heritage sees …

Review: Phantom of the Paradise

Nerdy, temperamental composer Winslow Leach (William Finley) has composed a musical version of “Faust”, which is promptly stolen by record producer Swan (Paul Williams!), and screwing Leach out of any profit. He also gets the hapless Leach framed for drug possession. Escaping, an enraged Leach sets upon seeking revenge on Swan, but a mishap with a record pressing machine leaves his face permanently scarred and Leach reported as dead. He isn’t dead, though, but his mental state has further diminished. Now sporting a mask to hide his disfigured face, he lurks about at Swan’s expansive Paradise theatre/studio, but eventually the two agree to form a partnership. However, as Leach looks at the grotesque spectacle Swan is making of his Faust, he turns to murder. Meanwhile, the girl Leach pines for, Phoenix (Jessica Harper) becomes the star of the show. Gerrit Graham turns up in a flashy role as mincy (no pun intended), drug-abusing rock star ‘Beef’, recruited by Swan for the show (and for o…

Review: The Slams

After double-crossing his accomplices, thief Jim Brown (in an interesting anti-hero performance) stashes the loot before getting caught and thrown in the slammer. Whilst inside, everyone from the Warden (Quinn Redeker, AKA the impossibly tanned Rex Stirling from TV’s “The Young and the Restless”), to his lackey Captain Stambell (Bob Harris), and several prisoners are willing to help Brown out if he cuts them in on the loot. Towering, deep-voiced Ted Cassidy is the sadistic ‘leader’ of the white prisoners, Frank DeKova is the well-connected, imprisoned mob boss. Judy Pace is Brown’s girl on the outside.

Watchable 1973 Jonathan Kaplan (a protégé of Roger Corman, he’s mostly recognised by me for helming the classic blaxploitationer “Truck Turner”) blaxploitation-tinged prison escape movie boasts a few good performances (notably the imposing and sadistic Cassidy, AKA TV’s Lurch, and slimy Bob Harris, while Pace is her usual blank self), and passes the time quite acceptably so long as you …