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Showing posts from June 4, 2017

Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Tina Fey is journalist Kim Baker, who gets an assignment to cover the supposedly final stages of the military conflict in Afghanistan. Initially completely out of her depth to the bemusement of Marine Gen. Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton), Baker eventually settles into the gig, whilst also hanging out with friendly rival English journo Tanya (Margot Robbie) and particularly cheeky Scottish photojournalist. Alfred Molina turns up as a horny Afghan government official, Josh Charles plays Baker’s lover back home, Thomas Krestchmann has an amusing early cameo on a plane, and soap actor Stephen Peacocke plays Baker’s bodyguard.

I’ve liked Tina Fey on “SNL” and in interviews without finding her especially funny. She’s witty, of course but I wouldn’t say she’s ever made me bust a gut outside of her dead-on Sarah Palin impersonation. As co-producer and star of this 2016 adaptation of the non-fiction book by Kim Barker (yes, the real-life person and film version have slightly different names) I h…

Review: Universal Soldier: The Return

The Unisol program of reanimated and microchipped dead soldiers is now being programmed by a supercomputer named S.E.T.H. (voiced by Michael Jai White). S.E.T.H. reacts rather badly to the news that the program is to be shut down by the government. S.E.T.H.’s response is to program a bunch of Unisols to crush, kill, and destroy on command. Working to stop S.E.T.H. is former Unisol Luc Devereux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who is now back in fully human form and working as a consultant for the Unisol program (Really? After everything he went through as a Unisol?). Bill Goldberg plays an antagonistic Unisol named Romeo, Heidi Schanz plays an innocent reporter caught up in the mayhem, Xander Berkeley is the human representative of the Unisol program, Daniel von Bargen plays a military General, Kiana Tom is Devereux’s friend and co-worker, and Brent Hinkley is an unscrupulous computer geek in league with S.E.T.H.

Ignoring the two previous made-for-TV sequels entirely, this 1999 Mic Rodgers (a…

Review: Bad Day at Black Rock

One-armed MacReedy (Spencer Tracy) arrives in title dead-end town just after WWII, on a train that rarely ever stops at this forgotten, decrepit town. In fact, it’s been four years since the train stopped there. MacReedy is looking for a Japanese farmer who lived there before the war. Unfortunately, the townsfolk are either apathetic, distrustful, or violently antagonistic towards the stranger in town, and everyone seems afraid of the put-upon town leader, Reno Smith (Robert Ryan). Smith suggests the farmer was relocated after the war, MacReedy isn’t buying any of that, much to the chagrin of everyone in town who just wants him to go away and leave the past in the past. MacReedy knows something stinks in Black Rock, and he intends to get to the bottom of it (no pun intended. I promise). Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin are Smith’s pit-bulls, with the fabulous names Coley Trimble and Hector David, Dean Jagger is the constantly soused, utterly useless Sheriff, Walter Brennan is note-perfe…

Review: Hell is for Heroes

WWII action drama has Harry Guardino leading a small troop of American soldiers trying to hold off a seemingly inevitable German advance. Their plan is to make themselves look like a larger unit than they are, with James Coburn fixing a jeep to make it sound like a tank (don’t ask me how he does this, but I’ll buy it), and Bob Newhart plays a lost soldier (who just happens to stumble into the platoon) who is recruited and asked to stay and pretend to be talking to HQ on the phone and fool the eavesdropping Germans (Claiming to be an ‘Entertainment Director’ he claims the men are getting tired of watching the same old movies!). Steve McQueen is the hard drinking, insubordinate, stubborn, frequently disciplined loner newly assigned to the group. Fess Parker is the platoon sergeant familiar with McQueen’s shortcomings but also knows he’s a great and much-needed soldier when the chips are down. Nick Adams plays a likeable Polish refugee who tries to join the platoon, clinging on to them f…

Review: Race to Witch Mountain

Vegas cabbie and ex-con Dwayne Johnson has two oddball kids (AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig) enter his cab. Except, they’re not actually kids, they’re aliens with special powers who need Johnson to drive them, and they will pay him handsomely for the long journey. On their tail, though, are humourless government spook Ciaran Hinds (perfectly cast) and his goons (Tom Everett Scott and Christopher Marquette). Carla Gugino plays an astrophysicist who is currently visiting a sci-fi convention (!), while Garry Marshall turns up as a UFO conspiracy nut.

The original “Escape to Witch Mountain” was one of Disney’s best pre-1980 non-animated family films, in my opinion. The follow-up “Return From Witch Mountain” was…not. Now there’s this 2009 film from Andy Fickman (“The Game Plan”, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2”), which although credited as being a remake of “Escape”, is pretty different. The results are somewhere in between the two previous films, but thankfully much closer in quality to “Es…