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Crack in the World (1965)
Saw this in my local cinema when I was about 5. Although I didn't quite understand what was going on, I knew it was bad. Others have noted the quality of the production and script, and I can't agree more. Compared to American Sci-Fi, 'Crack' was definitely given the A film treatment. All three leads were excellent with only the symptoms of Sorenson's sickness ringing false. For it's time, the special effects arex unparalleled. The only reason this film has remained somewhat unknown is the lack of a major home video release over the years. Too bad, many of the craftsmen involved in the making of 'Crack in the World' have missed well deserved accolades.
Where's Mel Brooks when you need him?
As a kid, I really enjoyed this movie. But that was the 70s. While still having positive feelings for it, that is from memory. I don't blame Allen and Rossi. Their humor did not translate to the big screen and were let down by a script written by someone who had no understanding of the spy genre, nor how to spoof it. It seems to me you have to have a plot that makes sense within the context of the story and then introduce humorous characters and twists that have no business being there. After an entertaining opening sequence, which goes on a bit longer than it should, the first half hour is fun, introducing Allen and Rossi and setting up the story. What follows after is slow, unfunny and nonsensical. More staid 50s than the hip 60s. Too bad Mel Brooks wasn't brought in to save it.
Bermuda Tentacles (2014)
This one's O.K.
I never thought I'd ever say this, but, Bermuda Tentacles is pretty good. The CGI as is usual for Asylum features is vastly underwhelming, however the script, involving a very unusual take on the Bermuda Triangle, has a certain style that allows the cast something to work with. Linda Hamilton appears to be doing an impersonation of Kate Mulgrew's Captain Janeway at times, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Other actors more than keep their dignity with controlled performances for the most part. Director Lyon really did a good job with this. The final scenes, with it's horrible decision to be made actually got an emotional reaction from me, something no feature from this company has ever managed to do. Like I said the special effects are below par, with a little too much stock footage, however,one has to wonder what this might have looked like with quadruple the budget. Congratulations Asylum, this time you did good.
Old favorite on DVD at last
"Baffled!" is a film I've loved since it's premiere as a movie of the week back in 1973. Leonard Nimoy plays Tom Kovack, a successful race car driver who in the middle of his latest race finds himself no longer on the track in Pennsylvania, but in rural England approaching an ominous manor house, with flashes of two women in danger. This vision causes Kovack to crash. The press finds out about what caused the crash and he is relentlessly questioned on television, bringing him to the attention of Michelle Brent, a dealer in antiquities who contacts Tom, sure he has latent psychic abilities warning him of dangers to people he can stop. What follows is a slow but entertaining story of supernatural conspiracies and simple human greed. The casting of Nimoy indicates the production was not looking for a typical leading man. Although he seems a little uncomfortable at times, I have the feeling he would have done quite well had this back door pilot gone into production as a series. Susan Hampshire is fine as Michelle, adding a much needed light touch and good chemistry with Nimoy. Vera Miles obviously enjoyed her stay in the English Countryside giving a fine performance as a 'Special Guest Star.' As stated, the story is a bit slow at times and could have used a bit more humor, something no one in the cast was particularly adept at. However, the story in total is atmospheric and quite captivating, leaving bread crumbs for a future series to follow. It seems the European companies passed on Baffled and NBC took a chance on the pilot, but that didn't take off either. It's too bad, there was so much potential here. Think of the many similar long running shows made decades later that picked up from this idea, making 'Baffled! 'ripe for a modern day remake. Are you listening SyFy?
The Host (2013)
After years of low budget monster movies produced for cable, The Host is pretty refreshing. While the casual viewer might find the pacing slow and uneventful, character driven drama is the goal here.The story involves the aftermath of an alien invasion where parasitic beings take over the bodies and minds of their human 'hosts' The invasion is nearly complete when Melanie, one of the few remaking free humans is captured arnd given to an alien called Wanderer as a host. Melanie remains conscience and begins to fight her domination. This is an interesting, thoughtful film. Performances are top notch with the only problem being the physical similarity of three of the male leads. As noted elsewhere, this ads confusion on who is who in certain scenes. While there are no vast battles and the setup of the resolution is slightly confusing, I still greatly enjoyed this thoughtful film.
Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
Really did not like this movie. I'm giving it a 5 for the production values. Sure, this is Die Hard in the White House, but boy did it take a wrong turn. After 9/11 would it really take so long to bring down the assault plane? Was it really necessary to make the crumbling of the Washington Monument a copy of the collapse of the towers? Should not the seal attack be called off after seeing what they were up against? As for the hostages, the only politician to earn my respect was Melissa Leo's Secretary McMillan, despite her over the top recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, comes across as serious and dedicated, unlike the President. I know there's not much review as criticism here, but this is one of the few films that I couldn't get over the stupidity of some plot points.
The File of the Golden Goose (1969)
Who killed the Golden Goose?
While File of the Golden Goose is not a particularly well made film, it does have it's charms.
This is one of those films one reaches for when you don't really want to watch a movie.
Yul Brynner plays Secret Service Agent Peter Novak, who, after his girlfriend is caught and killed in the crossfire of bullets meant him, vows revenge on the counterfeiting ring responsible for the hit. In London, Novak and married policeman Arthur Thompson go undercover as surviving members of the infamous Golden Goose gang in order to infiltrate the counterfeiting ring.
I've always enjoyed this movie because Yul Brynner appears to be having such fun as he digs deeper and deeper within the gang, intent on getting to the unknown Head Man.
Charles Gray is suitably over the top in his performance as 'The Owl.' The homosexual distribution manager for the gang's counterfeit money.
All in all, it's pretty entertaining. Brynner's terse dialog and intimidation factor work very well.
Production quality is very good, from the opening of a boy and his dog at play on the beach to the finale at the mansion home of the gang's mastermind
My only complaints is the over the top sleaze in some places and the need for perhaps more fluid camera work during action scenes. It's almost like no one knew how to choreograph a film fight. Finally, the resolution of the identity of the 'Head Man' still falls flat, even after 40 years.
Still, this is a fondly remembered film still enjoyed.
But...if the gang had tried to kill Novak at the beginning of the movie, how could he expect to infiltrate them?
Ice Road Terror (2011)
As bad as this film is, there was a germ of something better.
A road crew frees a hungry dino-monster in Alaska. The survivors do everything to escape the beast in their ice road trucks.
Sounds kind of cool if you're thinking of a certain similarly named TV show.
However, this is syfy and the terror takes place on half melted roads for only the first hour or so.
With a bit of imagination. style and real location work, Ice Road Terror could have been a nifty little gem.
But then, this is syfy.
Green Lantern (2011)
In blackest night..
First, let me say I love Green Lantern. Since early childhood Hal Jordan and his alter ego have been my favorite comic book characters.
So, it's not pleasant to report the general failure of the movie.
What were these guys thinking. Both reviewers and casual film goers keep saying the same thing. The story, when it moves off Earth to the planet Oa and the Green Lantern Corps is fairly compelling, but when Jordan returns home the whole thing just dies.
Despite a fine performance, the character of Hector Hammond should not have been here. Blake Lively apparently was directed to act like an automaton, perhaps foreshadowing the future for this character. Tim Robbins was wasted in his role as Senator Hammond.
In the end, I just didn't care about the supporting cast and feel most of this back-story should have been jettisoned, leaving the focus squarely on Hal Jordan and his destiny as a member of the Green Lantern Corps. The ill advised use of Parallax, while intriguing on a galactic scale and challenge for the Green Lanterns might not have been a wise choice for an origin story. Even worse, it looked to be amateurishly conceived and almost comical as a threat to Earth.
Speaking of which, a film with such a budget has no business looking cheap around the edges.
So, will there be a sequel? Box office results suggest no, but given a different take, Green Lantern may still rise to greatness.
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Follow the Plan
I really had not intended to write a review but just couldn't resist.
The Adjustment Bureau is nothing less than an excellent Art House film masquerading as a Sci Fi romance.
Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are awash in chemistry as star-crossed lovers kept apart by Chance in the form of members of the Adjustment Bureau, whose sole purpose is to insure the world continues apace following the "plan" of it's "Chairman." What makes this film so good is the obvious love on screen and I'm not necessarily thinking of the two main characters. The mood, direction, cinematography and expert performances by all involved show great respect and belief in the material.
The only disappointment is the last two minutes or so. The denouncement needed... something. Perhaps a bit of dialog that might close the story on an even more satisfying note.
Finally, this film will not be a huge box office hit, but, over time I'm predicting it's stature will rise to the first rank of Science Fiction films.
Kudos to all involved.