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Showing posts from February 26, 2017

Review: Halloween

We are introduced to creepy young miscreant Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch), and the somewhat trashy Myers family, headed by a stripper mom (Sheri Moon Zombie), and loutish stepfather William Forsythe, slutty elder sister Hanna Hall, and a young baby. When Michael’s penchant for killing goes from animals to murdering his family (save mom, who was at work, and the baby) he is institutionalised, under the care of glory-seeking shrink Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). 15 years pass (mom has committed suicide) and the now silent and seriously hulking Michael (played as an adult by Tyler Mane) escapes from the asylum and heads after his one remaining family member, the now teenage Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton), who is a typical, babysitting virginal teen, befriended by sexpots Danielle Harris and Kristina Klebe. Can Dr. Loomis find and stop Michael in time? Brad Dourif plays Sherriff Brackett, Harris’ father, cult actors Clint Howard and Udo Kier play doctors (!), Dee Wallace is Laurie’s adoptive…

Review: The Spirit

Self-indulgent adaptation of a comic strip, has bland Stephen Macht playing the title character, a supposedly dead cop come back to life as a seemingly indestructible masked avenger (in a suit and tie, no less!) to catch the bad guys that the cops (headed by Commissioner Dan Lauria) can’t get to. His arch-nemesis is the similarly unstoppable, uber-megalomaniacal Octopus (an uber-hyper Samuel L. Jackson), who is accompanied by a scientist/assistant (Scarlett Johansson), and a series of cloned buffoon henchmen (Louis Lombardi). His old flame is the stupidly named Sand Serif (Eva Mendes), who has turned to a life of crime as a jewel thief, whilst other women in his life (the guy gets around!) include Sarah Paulson as Lauria’s daughter, Jaime King (from “Sin City”) as Lorelei (an apparent Angel of Death...or something), and Paz Vega as someone named Plaster of Paris (I kid you not).

The idea wasn’t a bad one in theory. Frank Miller had quickly become a big thing in Hollywood, after his gra…

Review: The Martian

Matt Damon is astronaut Mark Watney, part of a mission to Mars. Whilst he and the rest of the crew are out exploring the surface, a huge dust storm hits, and Watney looks to have met his demise. The crew (Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, and Kate Mara among them) need to abort the mission and head back, and assume that Watney is dead. He is still alive, however, and now stranded on the red planet all on his own, with only a minimal amount of oxygen, limited food, and seemingly no way of contacting anyone back on Earth. The rest of the plot, I think is best discovered by yourselves when you watch the film. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, and Sean Bean play the various NASA personnel on the ground, whilst Donald Glover plays a young astrophysicist.

Bear in mind when I say this that I’m not a fan of the director, but this 2015 space flick might just be the best film in the directorial career of Ridley Scott. His “Alien” and “Blade Runner” are very far from favourites of mine…

Review: Violent Saturday

The goings on amongst the populous of a small town just prior to an intended bank robbery by Stephen McNally and his associates Lee Marvin and J. Carrol Naish. Victor Mature is the dutiful husband and father whose son doesn’t see him as a hero because he had to run the mining company whilst everyone else went off to war. Richard Egan (out of his depth) is the rich drunk married to an open-legged Margaret Hayes, Tommy Noonan is a milquetoast bank manager who moonlights as a Peeping Tom, Sylvia Sydney is a Klepto librarian (!), Virginia Leith is the nurse Noonan spies on and who throws herself at married Egan, and Ernest Borgnine plays a simple Amish farmer unwittingly drawn into the situation when the crooks seek refuge at his farm.

Bizarre, sometimes awful, but compellingly strange 1955 Richard Fleischer (“The Vikings” and “Fantastic Voyage” are favourites of mine) film is really two B-films in one, and one is better than the other by a country mile. The first, a soapie melodrama gives…

Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Autumn in the small Illinois town of Green Town sees the arrival of a travelling carnival headed by the mysterious Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce). 12 year-olds Will and Jim (Vidal Peterson and Shawn Carlson) discover something sinister about the carnival, and when Mr. Dark becomes aware of this, he hunts the boys down. Jason Robards Jr. plays Will’s tired, aging librarian father Charles. Mary Grace Canfield plays the homely local schoolteacher Miss Foley, James Stacy is the double amputee bartender and former sportsman Ed, Richard Davalos is the local barber Mr. Crosetti, Diane Ladd plays Jim’s mother, Pam Grier turns up as the beguiling ‘Dust Witch’, and Royal Dano plays a lightning rod salesman.

Dark, atmospheric 1983 fantasy from Disney and director Jack Clayton (whose output was minimal in number but he did direct the excellent chiller “The Innocents”) may or may not appeal to the kiddies (there’s a decapitation scene!), but I certainly enjoyed this “7 Faces of Dr. Lao” meets “Needful …

Review: Secret in Their Eyes

Special investigator Chiwetel Ejiofor has come back to his old stomping grounds after more than 10 years away. One of his fellow federal agents (Julia Roberts) had a teenage daughter (Zoe Graham) who was brutally murdered when they were part of a counter-terrorism task force in 2002. Sadly, because the prime suspect (Joe Cole) was an important snitch who aided the Feds on terrorism-related issues, the higher-ups were reluctant to go after him unless the proof was undeniable. So it was a wash, and Cole eventually vanished without a trace. However, all of these years later Ejiofor has returned after spending the entire time away obsessed with the case and tracking Cole down. He thinks he’s finally found Cole and is absolutely determined to nail him this time. Meanwhile, he’s still struggling with his romantic feelings for married former colleague Nicole Kidman, who is now the District Attorney. Dean Norris and an antagonistic Michael Kelly play fellow agents, while Alfred Molina is thei…

Review: Revenge of the Nerds

Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards are best friends and college freshmen Lewis and Gilbert, who have arrived at Adams College full of hope and endless possibilities. That optimism is quickly put in place when, after accidentally burning their own quarters down, the Alpha-Beta fraternity jocks throw them and pretty much every other non-jock out of their dorms and take them for themselves. It appears that Lewis and Gilbert are ‘nerds’, and nerds are apparently unwelcome at Adams. Lewis, Gilbert, and several other ‘nerds’ decide to form their own fraternity and look for their own living quarters, as the designated gymnasium is hardly a permanent solution. Still, there’s only so much bullying and derision these guys can take before striking back in their own unique way. Among the nerds are boorish sex maniac Booger (Curtis Armstrong), Japanese immigrant Takashi (Brian Tochi), the self-explanatory Poindexter (Timothy Busfield), gay African-American Lamar (Larry B. Scott), and super-brain…

Review: The Viking Sagas

Ralf Moeller, armed with the Ghost Sword, and trained by a skilled but disgraced and somewhat uncontrollable warrior (Sven-Ole Thorsen), seeks revenge on the marauders who killed his father and ran the townsfolk out of Dodge…er, out of a part of Iceland.

Gory 1995 smaller-scale epic, directed by cinematographer Michael Chapman (director of “All the Right Moves” and “Clan of the Cave Bear”), might’ve been a fun little B-movie, but is let down by poor story-telling, an authentic but raw cast, and few new ideas. Also, it’s Viking characters didn’t seem all that distinctively Viking to me. I guess they wanted a more realistic portrait of the Vikings (more Icelandic, and less Kirk Douglas-ish that is), but as presented here, they’re no different from any warrior army from medieval history, and are mostly interchangeable.

Most of the performances are horribly bland (having English as a second language wouldn’t have helped) and the characterisation threadbare, but veteran henchman/stunt man …

Review: The Karate Kid

12 year-old Dre (Jaden Smith) follows his workaholic mother (Taraji P. Henson) to China, where she has found a work placement. Whilst in a new land and reluctant to adapt and learn the language, Dre finds himself almost immediately running afoul of some young bullies. Headed by the scowling Zhiheng Wang, they belong to a kung-fu school taught by a no-nonsense, somewhat sadistic instructor Master Li (Rongguang Yu). Luckily for Dre, he has local handyman Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) to look out for him, fending off the bullies one day when they set upon the poor kid. Mr. Han tries to take the matter to Master Li, but Master Li seems perfectly happy for Dre to get beat up, so Mr. Han suggests that they move the fight to an upcoming tournament, with the proviso that no one lay a hand on Dre in the meantime. Master Li agrees, and Mr. Han starts to train Dre, using some rather unorthodox methods that at first irritate the rather petulant, self-absorbed Dre. Meanwhile, Dre strikes up a tentative re…