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Bruce_Cook

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105 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A better movie than you might think, 24 October 2012
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Saw this movie today for the first time (on Hub, a DISH channel) and I was amazed at the great FX, slick set designs, and witty dialog. I'm puzzled by all the negative IMDb reviews and message board comments. The action is great, the dialog is often very funny, and the acting of the dogs and cats (both the trained animals and their CGI-counterparts) was consistently good.

Teaming up a cat, two dogs, and bird-brained fast-talking pigeon with a busted wing was a fine idea. It generated clever dialog and heroic deeds, like an aqua-phobic cat rescuing her dog partner by diving into a tank of water.

The villains are great, too. Kitty Galore (the voice of Bette Midler) is a hairless cat like Dr. Evil's pet in "Austin Powers" -- with her own pet, a tiny terrified mouse. I also enjoyed the hulking henchmen-cat with steel teeth called "Paws" (with kind regards to Richard Kiel).

* * * * * * Spoiler Alert * * * * * *

Paws had a trick up his sleeve I did not see coming. In the climax he ripped off his fur to reveal himself to be a robot-cat -- and delivered a line in Arnold's voice!

The music is terrific -- rich, rousing, and very much in the grand tradition of James Bond movies. Composer Christopher Lennertz did a bang-up job. And he got in his fair share of musical jokes as well, such as the subtle Superman-like music when the pigeon shows up in time to fling off the cast on his busted wing and shout, "It's a bird! It's plane! Actually, you had it right the first time."

I think the reason some folks didn't like this movie is because it delivers the clever dialog and the great action at such a fast pace that some of the good stuff goes whipping past the audience before they know it. I had to run a few scenes back to catch it all, like when the hero falls down a chute and shouts, "Oh . . . my . . . Dog!" Subtle but clever.

Listen for an announcement on the PA in the super-spy secret headquarters. "Today's seminar: Harassment in the work place. Remember, Doberman -- do not pincher."

This movie is obviously the work of talented, hard-working people who invested time and money in an effort to make a very enjoyable family movie. Seems a shame their reward was the loss of over $40,000,000. That doesn't exactly encourage Hollywood to green light imaginative, big-budget productions.

10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
One of the "lost classics" of 1950s Sci-Fi, 18 December 2004
7/10

This well-made British science fiction story concerns the crew of a test rocket on which a lady reporter (Lois Maxwell) stows away. Kieron Moore plays the pilot of the rocket sent into orbit in connection with the test of a new "Tritonium bomb". Donald Wolfit plays the bomb's inventor.

After releasing he bomb, it's internal propulsion system fails and it becomes attached to the hull of the spacecraft. All attempts to dislodge it are unsuccessful, so the bomb's inventor takes drastic action to deal with the situation.

Director Paul Dickson presents an exciting and intelligent story. The special effects are both competent and exciting -- which is no surprise in view of the fact that their creator, Wally Veevars, later worked on "2001".

The special effects include the space scenes, an underground space complex, and a rocket which is launched from a horizontal track, similar to "When Worlds Collide". Well-designed sets and props (especially the ship's interior and the spacesuits) enhance this wonderful British entry.

Currently this exceptional film is not available on either VHS or DVD. Hopefully, Mr. Wade Williams will eventually offer it as part of his wonderful, high-quality collection.

Spaceways (1953)
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Great poster! (but the movie . . . well . . . ), 8 December 2004

The title and the poster tend to set the viewer up for a large disappointment with this one, a less-than-gripping film from director Terence Fisher, laudable mostly for the fact that it was made so early in the 1950s. The story is based on a radio play by Charles Eric Maine, with a plot that smacks just a little of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Howard Duff plays an American scientist involved with the British space program (they actually had one of those, once). His wife is having an affair with another scientist (Andrew Osborn) who is also a spy. When both wife and lover disappear, an investigator (Alan Wheatley) suspects Duff of murdering them and disposing of the bodies by placing them in a new satellite which is sent into orbit!

There's only one way Duff can clear himself: blast off in a rocket, retrieve the satellite, and bring it back for inspection. He takes Eva Bartok (heroine of 'The Crimson Pirate') with him.

I won't divulge the ending, but it is a twist. The film's slow pace lessens the tension, and the special effects consist largely of stock footage and a few scenes cribbed from 'Rocketship X-M'. Definitely a case of the poster being far better than the movie -- but what a poster!

Just a few words of warning . . ., 19 September 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've been looking forward to this movie since the first time I saw the previews on the website. Sadly, I was very disappointed. If you haven't seen it yet, maybe you won't suffer my fate if you're warned about a few little flaws.

These aren't intended as spoiler – just as warnings.

THE PICTURE QUALITY: I hated the soft-focus sepia picture. It totally ruined the look of the film. I would have preferred either 1940s Technicolor or 1940s sharp-focus B&W.

TECHNOLOGY THAT WAS TOO ADVANCED: Even though I loved the 'retro-futuristic' designs and wonderful mechanical innovations such as the planes that went underwater, the story went way too far when it threw in super-hi-tech stuff like anti-gravity, artificial intelligence, and gene manipulation. It was out of place in a 1930s 'World of Tomorrow'. But the real killer (for me) was the fact that most of the advanced stuff was supposedly developed 20 years BEFORE the film's 1930s setting!

SIMPLISTIC 'SETS': Yes, I know – there weren't very many real sets. But too often the surroundings looked so simplistic and unreal that I felt like no one had bothered to create either a real OR a CGI environment for the characters.

DISAPPOINTING Villain: I can't go into detail, for the sake of those who haven't seen it yet, but don't expect to be satisfied by the big climactic revelation concerning the Bad Guy. It was really lame-o, folks.

SHALLOW CHARACTERS: I wasn't expecting the kind of depth you get in an M. Night Shyamalan film -- but come on, folks, a two-hour movie is supposed to have more character development than a 'Superman' cartoon! And please don't tell me that a 'pulp fiction' story isn't expected to have well-developed characters. Just look at what Spielberg did with Indy and his father in 'The Last Crusade'.

Remember, good characters make the action scenes work better because the audience CARES about what's going on.

So, there you have it, movie fans. If you go into this movie knowing what you're NOT going to get, maybe you'll come out with a happier face than I did. Least wise, I hope so . . .

17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Willis O'Brien's "War Eagles" --- almost., 5 July 2004

This rip-roaring sci-fi adventure scores high marks in several categories. The story concerns four people whose helicopter lands in an unknown prehistoric valley, a freak temperate zone located thousands of feet below sea level in the Antarctic, kept warm by volcanically-heated water and a permanent cloud layer that traps the warm air.

The special effects are by Universal's FX wizard Clifford Stine, and even though the dinosaurs are not animated, they aren't badly done. The Tyrannosaurus Rex is a man in a suit, the flippered dinosaur is fairly convincing puppet, and the rest are enlarged lizards. All the dinosaurs are skillfully integrated with live action shots.

Stine loaded the film with wonderful scenes of the fog-shrouded prehistoric landscape, using marvelous matt shots and impressive sets, creating a Skull Island atmosphere.

In some ways, this is the perfect 1950's sci-fi film, because it proudly presents a wealth of facts about the Antarctic before it begins its fanciful story.

The music by Joseph Gershenson is extremely effective. Director Virgil Vogel ("The Mole People") keeps the action moving right along. Hero Jock Mahoney (who later played Tarzan) is a stalwart hero, and Shawn Smith (the stern lady astronaut in "It! The Terror from Beyond Space" and the luscious babe in a mini-skirt in "World Without End") makes a gorgeous heroine. Henry Brandon does a commendable job as a half-crazed survivor from a previous expedition -- and I read somewhere that he was actually a member of the 1947 Bird Expedition to the North Pole. Don't remember where I read it, so I might be misinformed.

This is not "Independence Day" . . . or "Godzilla" . . ., 29 May 2004
4/10

I had high hopes for this movie, since it was the product of the folks who gave me two other masterpieces.

And yet, I sat there for two hours wondering how the people who made "Independence Day" (loved it!) and "Godzilla" (loved it even more!!) could make such a pompous, scientifically flawed, dramatically ridiculous movie.

Ironically, the friend I went to see it with said he enjoyed it -- despite the fact that he thinks 'Independence Day' is a pompous, scientifically flawed, dramatically ridiculous movie.

So, was this just a matter of differing tastes?

Well, let's look at the facts. 'Independence Day' was intended to be a light-hearted, thrill-packed comedy/action/sci-fi adventure. When my friend went to see it, he was expecting a somber, thought-provoking, highly dramatic demonstration of the consequences of alien invasion.

Because of his misconception concerning the film's intent, he was extremely disappointed. I, on the other hand, apparently had a better understanding of what ID was supposed to be -- so I loved it.

On the other hand, 'The Day After Tomorrow' was intended to be somber, thought-provoking, highly dramatic demonstration of the consequences of global warming.

That's exactly what I expected.

Did it work for me in that respect?

No. It was a pompous, illogical, melodramatic attempt to take a trendy social concern and turn it into a grave warning about Armageddon.

10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Yet another good western from Columbia, 15 March 2004
9/10

Gorgeous scenery, familiar stars, and a spirited plot make this one just as enjoyable as many other Columbia westerns from the 1950s.

Roy Roberts is great as the rotten villain. Phil Carey is the hero who teams up with sweetheart Dorothy Patrick and Billy Gray ("The Day the Earth Stood Still") to stop bad guys from illegally capturing wild horses in Utah.

Gray does a fine job in a very interesting roll.

Sci-fi fans will recognize musical themes used extensively in "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" and "20 Million Miles to Earth" during two battles between a black stallion and the titular white stallion. Columbia reused these frequently during the 1950s.

But there isn't an inch of stock footage in this film, unlike the afore-mentioned sci-fi classics. It's 100% pure American West.

If you're a Westerm fan, you'll enjoy this one. And you haven't lived until you've seen the part in which an abused horse ties a man to a tree and gets its revenge on the low-down side-winder!

All in all, not your typically predictable Western . . . no sir, partner!

Domino Kid (1957)
7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Nothing like a good Western! Nothing at all, I'm afraid . . ., 10 March 2004

If you're a die-hard Westerns fan (which I am), you'll manage to get through this one -- but you'll hate yourself in the morning.

Rory Calhoun spends a few weeks tracking down his father's killers, taking a bullet in the shoulder during one shoot out, until he finally goes back to his old homestead to settle down with his gorgeous former sweetheart.

And he never changes clothes once through the whole film. The bullet hole in his favorite shirt heals up as fast as his chest wound. Nice trick, huh?

Hokey dialog flies thicker than the bullets, and Calhoun is as wooden as a hitching post. If you make it to the final shoot out, you'll get to watch the worst shots in the West manage to miss each other so often they run out of bullets.

Calhoun finally takes a few slugs, but he still manages to crawl -- yes, crawl -- across an open street, straight toward the bad guy, who misses him repeatedly with a RIFLE from twenty feet away!

When Calhoun's sweetheart and the town doc (sci-fi veteran Thomas Brown Henry in his smallest role), examines the wounded Calhoun, he says, "He'll be alright as soon as I get all those holes plugged up."

What a man! What a movie . . .

36 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Just when you thought it was safe to back into the carrot patch!, 26 February 2004

For all those film critics who claim that Hollywood is scared to try new ideas, here's proof that Hollywood will try anything. After making monster movies which feature every imaginable kind of vermon and pest, Hollywood got desperate and made one about monster rabbits.

(Monster RABBITS?)

That's right, the word "lepus" means rabbit. The story concerns a group of scientist who try to solve a rabbit over-population problem in the Midwest by injecting the bunnies with a hormone intended to decrease their breeding abilities. Instead, the hormone increases the rabbits' growth rate until they weight 150 pounds, stand four feet tall, and roar.

(ROARING rabbits?)

Right! That's part of what makes them MONSTER rabbits. The special effects involve a combination of real rabbits on miniature sets and actors in monster rabbit suits.

(Monster rabbit SUITS!?)

The National Guard is called in to battle this menace to mankind.

(The National Guard battles BIG BUNNIES!!?)

Yes, indeed. Producer A. C. Lyles and director William F. Claxton knew full-well that a distinguished cast was needed to lend credibility to this bold and risky venture, so they hired Stuart Whitman ("City Beneath the Sea"), Janet Leigh ("Psycho"), Deforest Kelly ("Star Trek"), Rory Calhoun ("The Texan"), and Paul Fix (numerous westerns).

These fine stars did their best, but alas it wasn't enough, and "Night of the Lepus" is considered a failed experiment. What the film needed was Morris Ankrum as an army general who uttered lines such as,

"Good Lord, if we don't stop these monsters, there won't be a single carrot left on the planet!"

Now that I would love to see.

6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Who knows what evil lurks in the --- oops, wrong movie . . ., 26 February 2004

Having no money to spend on special effects or makeup, producer-director William Lee Wilder did his best to entertain us with this light-weight tale about an alien who crashlands near the Griffith Observatory and tries to allude pursuing scientists.

To save money, the filmmakers (a) never actually show the spaceship and (b) make the alien invisible.

The scientists get hold of the alien's spacesuit (which is not invisible) and examine it in their lab. The alien can't live on Earth without it (so he was pretty stupid to take it off, right?), and he tries to get it back, but the helmet is accidentally destroyed.

Dying from asphyxiation, the alien is finally cornered on a catwalk in the observatory. The scientists use ultraviolet light to make the alien visible -- but he's just a man in a rubber cap to make him look bald-headed, and a flesh-colored swimsuit to make him look naked.

The mind boggles at the idea of a sci-fi movie in which the costume man, the make-up man, and the special effects man had nothing else to do but make an invisible alien look bald-headed and naked!

Boy, we weren't the ONLY ones who got gipped, huh?


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