Reviews

33 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Rushmore (1998)
Funny, touching film
30 June 1999
I wish I saw this one in the theaters. It happens way too often that I miss the good stuff in the theater, and catch it on tape, and sort of slap my forehead in frustration. Rushmore wasn't hilarious, but it really pulls you in, makes you really care about the characters. The best part was that Bill Murray's character wasn't the classic jerky rich-guy type - he lived and breathed and had a soul. Not like the stuffy business professor that was Sally Kellerman's beau in Back to School. Thank goodness the film had Max Fisher's persistence and spunk to counterbalance what is really a sad story of unrequited romance. Loved the ending, too. Don't be put off by the naysayers... watch this film.
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Blue Thunder (1983)
Great Action
8 June 1999
Always liked this one. Well written and acted, with excellent aerial action sequences. It's a shame this was Warren Oate's last role - he was magnificent. Other reviewers made a valid point about this film presaging the use of military hardware against civilians. We already use airplanes to catch speeders on the ground - doesn't the aviation fuel cost more than the amount of revenue taken in through summonses?
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The Jesse Ventura Story (1999 TV Movie)
I liked it!
23 May 1999
Typical glossed-over TV biopic saved by fine lead performance, and gung-ho spirit. The fellow who played the adult Ventura did an outstanding job. Supporting cast was fine, too.
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Boiling Point (I) (1993)
BORING point
17 May 1999
Boiling Point never gets past lukewarm. This film is competently written and directed, but slow-paced. There seems to be a lot of talk just for the sake of talking, characters seem to talk about stuff forever before doing it. Marketed cleverly as an action vehicle for Wesley Snipes, this film is anything but that. Even Viggo Mortensen can't save it from being a snoozer.
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McBain (1991)
You'll laugh your butt off...
17 May 1999
Christopher Walken leads a batch of Army buddies against Colombia to avenge the death of his friend at the hands of the military regime. Since their Army days, Walken and his merry men have become successful and/or affluent, and seeing them take off as a group on a dubious military adventure requires some pretty heavy suspension of disbelief. But that's just the beginning. You'll see middle-aged men out-fighting hardened government troops. Pistols and Bic pens find uses their inventors never dreamed of, and desperate field surgeries are performed under the worst conditions, with 100% success. All of it done in an appallingly casual way, that is deader than the deadest deadpan humor. You'll truly laugh your butt off - nonstop yuck-yucks from the guy who brought us Shakedown and The Soldier. See McBain as a double feature with Taking of Beverly Hills if you want to see how durable your spleen really is.
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Armageddon (1998)
I'm nauseated
13 May 1999
Not by Michael Bay's music-video style of shooting film (although that makes me queasy at times), but by how people excuse away sloppiness and audience pandering. "Hey, it's a popcorn movie, get over it." or "Check your brain at the door, and just enjoy Armageddon." Sentiments such as these allow filmmakers to spend a hundred million bucks to make films that are mediocre at best. The less demanding audiences get, the less effort they will put into making a film more than just an empty piece of eye-candy. Armageddon is full of bad space science, but beside that particular brand of pickiness, it has a silly plot, generally bad acting, and inexplicable behavior by the characters. From a science point of view, the spaceships fly like fighter jets, gravity exists where it shouldn't, astronauts completely mishandle volatile fuel (I know they are just "oil drillers" but no space agency would ALLOW such stupid procedures in the first place), and nuclear weapons are given much more power than they actually have. Here is a fact: If an object the size of Texas were heading toward us, with the few weeks' warning the characters had, there would be NOTHING we could do about it. Even with two year's warning via early detection, our current technology and methods would be of no use. I wasn't looking for Howard's End when I saw this movie. But I want something more than glossy tripe. And we all should want that, too.
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The Mummy (1999)
I had a lot of fun
11 May 1999
Sommers delivers again! Just like Deep Rising, he crafts an engaging, rousing tale with fun characters and hair-raising action. I wish it were a tad slower and a bit more atmospheric, but otherwise I enjoyed it tremendously.
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Crime Story (1986–1988)
Incredible Cop Show
7 May 1999
I watched this one religiously, even taped a few episodes. Perfectly cast, this had gritty direction, excellent writing, and wonderful sets and visuals. Farina is perfect as ultra-tough guy Mike Torello, leading a squad of elite Major Crime Unit cops. The transplant from Chicago to Las Vegas works at first, but the abbreviated third season got a bit tacky. Great lines, awesome acting, and an overall "feel" that no police drama has come close to matching. Kudos to Michael Mann and his team of terrific writers.
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Dust Devil (1992)
Unusual Horror Film
5 May 1999
Director Richard Stanley's sophomore film, Dust Devil, is a haunting and effective horror story, about a demon in human form (Robert Burke), who kills lonely people in ritualistic fashion. What I liked about this film more than anything,however, is the use of filming locations in Namibia. Namibia is a special place: one of the lowest population densities in the world, ancient deserts, well-run cities with a remarkably well-preserved Dutch/German colonial look, the second-largest canyon in the world, and magnificent landscapes. It is becoming an increasingly popular tourist attraction - make sure to go there if you plan on visiting Africa.
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Bounty Tracker (1993 Video)
Super Action!
29 April 1999
Rent this one if you want to see Lorenzo Llamas kick some serious butt. Plot is a throwaway, natch, with dialogue to match. But Kurt Andersen is an action director to watch, and he serves up some great fight scenes, including a sequence in a dojo that has to be seen to be believed.
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Timebomb (1991)
Overlooked, great film
29 April 1999
When I saw this film, I thought "Wow, this guy might be the next James Cameron." Perhaps a bit of an overstatement, but director Avi Nesher has a sharp, distinctive action style, and a flair for technology and attention to detail. This is a rough, tough action film, with touches of science fiction thrown in. Performances are decent, although Michael Biehn still seems stuck in Kyle Reese/Dwayne Hicks mode. Unfortunately, Nesher went on to do a bunch of straight-to-video films, the interesting "Doppleganger" and produced a batch, the only decent one being "Automatic" which he didn't direct, but certainly has his style imprinted on it. I'm hoping he hasn't given up on his dream sci-fi project, "Hammerheads" which I've heard about years ago.
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Shadowchaser (1992 Video)
Enjoyable, amusing smarmy
29 April 1999
I rented this one, and glad I did. Martin Kove is unfrozen(!) to battle terrorists that have taken over a high-rise hospital. Martin Kove has this easy-going, self-deprecating way about him in this film, so he basically makes the movie. The cinematography is really odd, perhaps it was shot on high-quality video, not film? Plot is an outright Die-Hard rip-off, with some unnecessary sci-fi twists. Despite the flaws, it's still kind of fun if you don't expect too much.
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Peacemaker (1990)
A fun cable surprise!
29 April 1999
Peacemaker came on cable one night. Didn't know anything about it, but boy I'm glad I stayed with it! Not only is it full of well-executed action, but the plot is ingenious - a good and a bad alien both land on earth, and each claim the other is the "bad guy" and we're kept guessing right up until end of the movie as to which is which! Not terribly well-written, but the clever idea, tongue-in-cheek tone, and quality action count for a lot.
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Rising Storm (1989)
Decent Action Film
23 April 1999
During one summer in my life, I did a LOT of late-night cable TV viewing. Saw LOTS of straight-to-cable and direct-to-video films. This one stands out - good cinematography, occasional bits of satire, and well-done action scenes. Rent it on a rainy day, cause there are a lot of parched desert scenes.
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A goofy Sci-Fi Film
22 April 1999
I was looking forward to this for years - and when I finally saw it, felt only disappointment. Acting: mostly bad. Especially Neil Patrick Harris and Casper Von Dien. Effects: scenes of guys firing weapons weren't even matched to the damage the bugs were taking. Space shots were well-done, and the fractured starships looked incredible. Direction: reasonably good. Verhoeven, of course, takes the gore and violence to an extreme. Great scenes of humans getting ripped apart by the bugs, though, and a very amusing training accident. Credibility: near zero. The combat fortification sets looked really cheesy. Why, after centuries of accumulated military knowledge, are we sending in lighly armored ground troops, with basically inadequate weapons, and NO constant close-air support? Or how about the lack of space-borne pre-assault bombardments? Although I am quite capable of "just enjoying" a popcorn film such as this, when a film just outright does things for no logical reason, or insults my intelligence (a la Armageddon), I CAN'T get any fun out of it. It's a ham-fisted satire of fascism and the military mindset. It should have been either a gritty space-war film, or a more clever, more subtle piece of military mockery. Not this jumbled mess.
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Hard Boiled (1992)
Incredible Action, beats the Matrix
22 April 1999
Loved Hard Boiled - had the fortune to see it in a theater - what a crowd-pleaser! Incredible action film, yet lacking a bit of the soul The Killer had. Also has some odd changes in tone. But all in all, very entertaining, funny, gripping and touching. This is the film I use to perform the "John Woo Test" - every time I change apartments or re-do my A/V setup, I pop in Hard Boiled to make sure that my receiver is taking audio from the VCR.
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Miracle Mile (1988)
See it, but don't read a plot summary!
21 April 1999
Strange advice - but I saw this film in theaters without knowing ANYTHING about it, and boy am I glad, since not knowing what it's about puts you in the shoes of the main character (Anthony Edwards), who has no idea of what is about to happen to him. Let's just say that it starts out as a sweet romance story, and goes very, very, wrong... A strong premise, occasionally silly, but very potent once it gets going.
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Big Disappointment
20 April 1999
I expected more from Vincent Ward, the man who gave us a unique medieval fantasy film (The Navigator), an ascetic tale of New Zealand farmers (Vigil), and a classic love story (Map of the Human Heart). What Dreams... is hokey, silly, and utterly lacking in emotional weight. It moves along too quickly, and never pauses to seriously contemplate the nature of heaven and hell. The novel that the film was based on, by Richard Matheson was also limp and flaccid, so we can also blame the source material (for once). I've been waiting for years for a truly excellent film about a literal journey to hell and back, but this film certainly wasn't it. To the film's credit, the visuals were fantastic, and the trip to Hell beautifully recalled old B&W engravings. The hundreds of dead souls washed up on the shore of Hades, along with Chris Nielsen's boat was an astonishing image, seemingly right out of Brueghel or Bosch. But that's it - a few nice visuals, and a cloying screenplay. Vincent Ward tried hard, but didn't succeed.
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G.I. Jane (1997)
Excellent tale of perseverance
20 April 1999
To me, GI Jane is a very old-fashioned film: it's about persistence, about not giving up. Although violent and often unpleasant, GI Jane is, at its core, a very uplifting tale of one woman's determination to battle sexism in the military, and to meet the tough standards set by Navy SEAL training. In fact, another commenter rightly said that the film's focus was more on the training, than the combat. Yes, that is correct, because naturally, you have to pass SEAL training before you can go into combat as a SEAL! It's also for another, more subtle reason: that the best warriors are given the toughest, most combatlike training! I don't mean to speak for any of our brave men and women who fought in the Gulf War, but I do remember some of them (especially tankers) saying that their training was more rigorous than combat against Iraqi T-72's! Please don't watch GI Jane to see Demi Moore buffed out and dressed in a tight T-shirt, don't see it for the action, but see it, and be inspired by her courage and tenacity.
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Breakdown (I) (1997)
A good thriller
16 April 1999
Tight, well-told story, with Kurt Russell not playing an ass-kicking hero, for once. (A bit like his character in Unlawful Entry). Very involving - I wanted to reach into the screen and kill the bad guys in that film myself. One thing to note: that part of the country is quite beautiful, and not scary at all. Please don't be reluctant to visit Monument Valley and the other spectacular parts of Utah after seeing this film!
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Hostage Flight (1985 TV Movie)
Decent TV Movie
14 April 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Kind of enjoyable, but typical 80's made for TV film. What makes it stand out is the fact that the passengers actually fight back against the terrorists at the end of the movie. (This is not a spoiler, really - they hyped that aspect of it when they ran the promos for the film).

Also stood out because of the two! endings - I was fortunate enough to have seen both of them - they are both kind of grim - although one is nastier than the other. Both endings are right after a surprisingly adroit discussion by the passengers about what to do with the men who have been holding THEM hostage for the last several hours.
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Can a movie have too much shooting???
8 April 1999
The answer is yes!

I enjoyed Siege of Firebase Gloria - good performances, decent writing, and the fact that it took us behind the scenes, depicting the NVA and Vietcong with convincing attention to detail. (Note that I didn't say accuracy!) My "yes" answer stems from the fact that the battle scenes went on for a bit too long in places - but all in all, SOFG is a first-rate low budget Vietnam film.
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Upbeat Spirit of the 80's
8 April 1999
I disagree with all of the "80's slammers" - it was a very good decade!!! Electric Dreams is such an upbeat, uplifting film - I can watch it whenever it is on. Great music, sweet story. I can't believe that this is the director who did the first "Ninja Turtles" movie. Sigh...
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Loved the Wild Bunch, but...
8 April 1999
The Wild Bunch is an excellent story about the changing of the guard along America's borders and frontiers. It is perfectly cast, skillfully directed. But I have a few comments about the violence in this movie: 1. It is actually quite brutal, even by today's standards. A lot of women and other civilians get killed during the gunfights. 2. Squibs were NOT created for this film - just employed very effectively. Bonnie and Clyde predates Wild Bunch by two years, and has a great slow-mo shootout - with squibs. 3. No one talks about the composition of shots and the editing. That's what sets Wild Bunch apart from films by John Woo and pretenders like Antoine Fuqua (Replacement Killers) - the slow-mo is used to let us really examine the life-and-death struggle of a bitter shootout, to see the odd juxtapositions and little details. Not just to make for a "cool" shootout. Read Bloody Sam, by Marshall Fine (the local film critic in my area!) to learn more about Peckinpah's genius.
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Rapa Nui (1994)
Once More About Rapa Nui
7 April 1999
Actually, I was mostly critical about Rapa Nui - if you read my review carefully, I was referring to the logistics of making and transporting the statues. I neither believed nor disbelieved the stuff about long and short ears. In fact, I read through Thor Heyerdahl's books on the subject, and felt that the filmmakers made some use of his material. What I meant was that the film showed that it was raw human muscle and ingenuity that got the statues built, as opposed to extra-terrestrials or Atlanteans which some fringe theorists believe.
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