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The Gundown (2011)
I liked it. Old-fashioned, hokey derring-do. Whore with heart of gold? Check. Impossibly fast gunfighters? Check. Unbelievably bloody climactic gunfight at the end with bodies strewn everywhere? Check, check, check. What's not to like? In the good old days, Audie Murphy would have played the hero who is so straight arrow that one is surprised that he doesn't order a glass of milk in the saloon scenes. Furthermore, I could watch the actress who plays Cassie May for a long time without complaining. I admit that this one is in no way original, but that really isn't the point. If you ever hear yourself complain that they don't make 'em like they used to, then you really ought to give this one some love.
Princess of Mars (2009)
If This Is The Price Of Victory, I Recommend Defeat.
I watch all movies that are based on ERB novels. All of 'em. I think I even watched that Bo Derek nightmare. But I could not go the distance on this dog. As has been mentioned, the martians are quite grotesque and this makes one wonder why they cast Ms. Lords. The effects, I concede, are surprisingly credible given the low budget. The problem lies in the atrocious script. It is as dull as an old knife. A Burroughs flick can be a lot of things, but boring should not be one of them. Even on a skimpy budget, I could have done a better adaptation than this. So could your eight year old child or perhaps your Border Collie. If you loved the book as I did, you simply must stay away from this. It will actually hurt you.
Mission to Mars (2000)
I quite like this film, and I suspect that it will become better regarded as time goes on. The long tracking shot that begins the movie as the credits roll is so artfully and subtly done that one almost misses what a very long tracking shot it is....And I say that as someone who does not like DePalma's work and generally regards him as the most unsubtle and derivative of directors. This one take earns him big-time director's chops.
It is difficult to see how a hard SF fan could be disappointed by Mission To Mars. The effort at technological verisimilitude is really commendable and is largely persuasive. There aren't very many really hard SF movies out there and,at it's best, this one conjures up memories of Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars novels. The film only misses fire at the end due to the gooey, sentimental and thoroughly anthropomorphic alien (Tear ducts? Gimme a break.) Not an action flick in the least, but lots of points for intelligence. No 2001, but coming off second-best to Kubrick isn't so bad.
The Kansan (1943)
This probably doesn't deserve the "B Movie" sobriquet. The production values are pretty high and it is quite heavy on the movie stars. This looks to me like it would have taken the A spot on a bill. Dix is good but Victor Jory nearly steals the show. The high point is likely one of the most over-the-top barroom brawls I've ever seen on celluloid. The script is also fine, although nothing too original. The low point in the movie....aside from a really unfortunate racial caricature.... is probably represented by a really ghastly World War II style showgirl routine based around "When Johnny Comes Marching Home". All in all, a satisfying show.
This is likely the worst of the Universal horror flicks....Yes, even worse than House Of Dracula. Lugosi is dreadfully miscast as The Monster and Lon Chaney Jr. is as good or as bad as he always is. As some of the other commentariat have pointed out already, there is just zero attention paid to the continuity from the previous entry in the series. The encounter between the two monsters is a huge letdown (I even felt that way as a little kid). The best part of the whole movie is when the studio trots out a completely ludicrous and inappropriately festive song at a Bavarian Beer Garden. After about a year of this, Chaney starts screaming "Stop! Stop Singing! I want to die!" There can be little doubt that he spoke for a large proportion of the audience.
Nickel Mountain (1984)
Give it a miss.
Inept adaptation of the John Gardner novel and a tremendous disappointment for John Gardner's fans. The film captures none of the beauty of the story and descends into the very cheapest of melodramas. The completely sympathetic character of Willard becomes a mouth-breathing villain and the gentle, pensive, shy Henry Soames is portrayed as something of a jealous lunatic and rather prone to violence in the bargain. Heather Lagenkampf is fine, however, though the script gives her very little to work with. The movie is adequately shot but is never inventive. In short, the movie is a long hard slog to watch and at no point repays the viewer's efforts.
The Fantastic Four (1994)
Vastly better than the awful 2005 effort and it's lame sequel. The special effects are awful, yes, but hardly cheesier than the lame big budget CGI we have seen since. The overall flavor is very in keeping with the early Fantastic Four comics, and you can tell that the folks who made it really loved those comics - again in sharp contrast to the soulless efforts of the 21st century. The acting is even better than the later version and,in my opinion, the script as well. The casting is virtually perfect.
As you can easily tell, I really loathed the Big Hollywood versions. If you like the original comic magazines, though, you could do a whole lot worse than blow an evening with this.
And I Loved the line: "Hi Mrs. Storm! Can Johnny and Sue go to outer space with us?"
Dick Tracy (1937)
A Great Serial.
Superb serial. The only one that matches it in quality is the first Flash Gordon. The production values are exceptional and eclipse many better known B movies. Ralph Byrd is perfectly cast in the title role. The only explanation I can think of for some viewers to rate this any lower than an "A" is that they just haven't seen very many serials. One of the few efforts in this line that actually has some atmospheric touches and, as another commenter has pointed out, the special effects are genuinely good.
Folks who don't really like serials are....well, they're folks who don't like serials (probably don't much like Christmas either). For those who do like serials, this is like a trip to the circus. Good action and WAY better than usual script and acting. As movies go, this probably only deserves a 7 but for a serial it deserves a perfect 10.
Super Fly (1972)
I really wanted to like this movie, as it was quite the hot ticket back when I was a kid....that, plus the superb soundtrack. I can hardly describe my disappointment when I actually got to viddy the thing. Bad script, bad sound, atrocious camera work, and awful direction. It looks and feels a lot worse than some high school film productions. The script is insulting to it's audience and demonstrates what today seems like an incredible contempt for the black characters. It is true that the movie was incredibly influential for the first half of the 1970s....in a way that got brutally parodied in the film _I'm Gonna Get You, Sucka_.
There are lots of good blaxploitation flicks out there. Don't waste your time with this incompetent piece of junk.
City of Ember (2008)
Really quite good.
A lot of the reviewers pretty well panned this, so I actually was quite reluctant to watch it. Turned out that it was a good thing that I did, as it was quite a satisfying SF flick. The young leads are both very engaging, the set design and art direction are excellent and the whole affair is kinda suspenseful. The myriad big-name character actors are slightly distracting, particularly Bill Murray and Tim Robbins, but all turn in OK performances. I think some of the critics were a little turned off, frankly, because the movie did so very poorly at the box-office. As the years go by, I am betting that this little movie holds up a lot better than some of 2008's big hits.