Reviews written by registered user
|67 reviews in total|
Watching "Edge Of Tomorrow," you realize the contempt Hollywood media
conglomerates have for their audience. The central character of this
movie, Major Cage, spends most of his time getting killed. According to
the idiotic premise of this movie, because he was dowsed with an alien
creature's blood the first time he died in battle, Cage will now time
loop back to an earlier time whenever he is killed. So, like a gamer
playing a video shooter game, Cage goes back to the start of the game
if the enemy finishes him off. On and on, Cage gets killed, getting
more proficient at avoiding wipe out as the movie progresses.
The reason Cage is in battle is bizarre. He is an American major handling PR who tells a UDF general that he is an American officer and he will he not follow UDF orders to land with soldiers attacking the Micmics, the alien enemies. When Cage says he will make life hard on the general if he tries to send Cage into battle, naturally, the UDF general reduces Cage's rank to private, falsifies records to show Cage is an attempted deserter, kidnaps Cage and sends Cage into battle as cannon fodder.
Co-star Emily Blount plays a character called the "Angel of Verdun." That's it for her character development. J squad, the unit Cage joins just before the attack, is made up of the necessary social representatives: a woman, a black guy, a fat guy, some whites including one who looks Hispanic. The less said about Bill Paxton's Master Sergeant Farell, the better. All put on spiffy mechanical exo-skeletons before being sent to battle.
Comparing this movie to 1997's "Starship Troopers" shows how far Hollywood has sunk in its creative abilities. True, Edge's director Doug Liman doesn't hold a candle to Starship's director, Paul Verhoeven. More than that, though, is how "Starship Troopers" showed a team effort, no single character being Superman, and how Verhoeven and his writers threw in an anti-military subtext.
"Edge Of Tomorrow" is an ugly and unreal movie that glorifies fictional soldiers getting obliterated in battle, repeatedly. This movie has no heart and it makes no sense. I've read that Brad Pitt turned down an offer to star in Edge. After starring in "World War Z," a really ugly and stupid movie, I can understand why Pitt did not want to double down with another junk science fiction movie. Tom Cruise's previous movie "Oblivion" is Shakespeare compared to "Edge of Tomorrow." As you may have guessed, I am no fan of "Edge of Tomorrow."
"The White Storm" is a totally unreal movie about three Hong Kong narcotics cops trying to bring down a big time drug dealer. Director and co-writer Benny Chan should stick to directing. Chan's previous movie, 2011's "Shaolin," was a very well made movie that held your interest throughout. "The White Storm" is mainly a series of gunfights, very well choreographed but totally unreal. More a video game shoot-em up than a movie. In the middle of the movie, the HK cops are in Thailand to trap the drug lord. During an ensuing gun battle, the bad guys bring in a helicopter fitted with a mini-gun that blasts away at everything. For me, that was the high point of the movie, just mindless destruction with no shallow dialog from the three buddy cops. Benny Chan does a much better job as director when he works with Jackie Chan. For his next movie, Benny Chan should team up again with Jack Chan and leave the writing to others.
"The Assassination of President Kennedy" documentary that CNN aired
over the 50th anniversary of the shooting of JFK is technically great,
a combination of great editing and superior film and videotape
restoration. The video clips of TV broadcasts from 50 years ago look
just super. The Zapruder 8MM color film sparkles, looking better than I
have ever seen it before. The closing credits show that this
documentary was a co-production of companies that usually work on
motion pictures, not TV documentaries. That must be why so much effort
has been put into obtaining archival footage of TV news broadcasts
shown in the aftermath of Kennedy's murder. American network TV
stations nowadays would never put so much effort and expense into a
documentary like this one. Unlike 20 years ago, when quality came first
at network news operations, with magazine news shows like PrimeTime
Live and the real Dateline NBC.
Almost nothing is perfect and this JFK documentary has one major flaw: the presence of Vincent Bugliosi, whose leaden comments defending the Warren Commission are completely out of place. Bugliosi's "expert" testimony consists of opinions from a boring former prosecutor. Instead of his talking head shots, I would have like more footage from regular folk who were in Dallas that day, comparable to the lady who told a reporter who asked that the CIA was behind the shooting. In other words, get a picture of the times from more eyewitnesses. One more eyewitness interview could have been James Tague, the car salesman who was watching the Kennedy motorcade pass by when he was struck slightly in the face by the ricochet of a bullet that missed Kennedy's vehicle and then bounced off the pavement at him.
Still and all, "The Sixties: The Assassination of President Kennedy" does a great job showing events in the aftermath of this murder of a president.
For the first episode of season three of "Buffy," Joss Whedon spared no expense. Great cinematography, loads of stunt work and great set design. (Too bad that IMDb does not post budget information on individual TV episodes, this episode must have gone way over budget to get in those hellfire factory action scenes.) Plus there is the main plot line, a story as grim as any shown on a broadcast TV series. I edited out the scenes set in Sunnyvale, leaving just the scenes involving Buffy and her encounter with an evil group that preys on runaways. In the 32 minutes running time of my version, Buffy goes from a downcast waitress in a diner to a demon killing machine. I have seen nothing like this "Buffy" on TV since, this episode is made like a big budget mini-movie.
Judging from this episode, the rumor is true that season eight of the "Supernatural" will be the series' last. Most of this episode, "Torn and Frayed," is occupied with showing an angel being tortured by Crowley's flunkey. No need for much dialog or spending time with camera setups when you are filming someone strapped in a chair mumbling Nokian. The rest of the story consists of brief scenes showing Sam's former girlfriend and Dean's bromance pal from purgatory. Castiel is there too, to help end this time filler episode. Bad as the Leviathan story arc in season seven was, at least there the producers tried to create some interest in the characters. With "Torn and Frayed," Supernatural hits rock bottom. To think that some years back, this series had a great episode like "Nightshifter," with suspense, mystery and action in a coherently written format. Even I could write a better episode than this one, an episode which seems to have been written by a committee of writers on drugs.
"Massacre" finally made it to TCM at 2:15 PM on August 9, 2011 as part
of an all-day salute to Ann Dvorak. It may be that "Massacre" was on
TCM before I started receiving the cable station in 1996, but I doubt
it. As Joe Thunderhorse, a traveling show star who knows the score,
Richard Barthelmess does a great job. Part of the reason for that has
to the movie's director, Alan Crosland, whose career was on a downward
slide at Warner Bros. For that matter, co-star Ann Dvorak was also in
the Warner Bros. doghouse, in part for going on an unauthorized
vacation in 1933.
On the screen, all you see are great talents making a fast moving movie that has a cynical view on life. The storyline involves a cabal of crooked Indian reservation officials who think nothing of robbing Indians of their land and covering up crimes like rape, while Indian Affairs Commissioner Dickinson in Washington, D.C. can only wring his hands until Joe Thunderhorse comes along. In my opinion, I think that director Alan Crosland is responsible for the jaded attitude towards authority you see in this movie. You see that same attitude in Crosland's great "Don Juan," a movie that also moves along at a rapid pace. So, while pabulum like "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" shows up on TCM ad nauseam, "Massacre" was MIA until this week.
Out of curiosity, I looked up movie posters for "Massacre." One of the posters I found on the Internet has in big block letters the name BARTHELMESS at the top, above a color picture of the actor wearing an Indian headdress and, running across the picture. the title "Massacre" in smaller script type letters. Within the B of Barthelmess, in very small letters, is his first name Richard. From a distance, the poster reads BARTHELMESS in Massacre. A very modern approach, everyone knew who Richard Barthelmess was in 1934, a big star, no need to advertise his first name much. Yet in a few months, after he got his walking papers from Warner Bros., his movie career went downhill fast and now, unlike actors like James Cagney and Betty Davis, almost no one remembers him.
On one of the last TCM Preservation Showcase shows he presented, Roddy McDowell (looking very pale) mentioned before the start of the movie coming on, "Midnight Alibi," that the star was the great Richard Barthelmess. To me, Barthelmess in the early 30s movies I saw him in seemed to be too serious and sometimes too much like a punching bag. That is not the case in "Massacre," where he plays his character consistently as a slick dude who won't let anyone push him around. When Harry Warner tried to cut Barthemess' contract pay in 1933, just as the studio had cut the salaries of the non-union studio workers, Barthelmess did not go along. Warner Bros. issued a press release that Barthelmess had agreed to make three movies a year instead of two for the same yearly salary, but that was window dressing. Once Darryl Zanuck handed in his resignation to protest Warner Bros. reneging on an agreement to restore studio workers' cut salaries to their former level, Barthelmess' career at Warner Bros. was kaput. His last movie at Warners, "Midnight Alibi," directed by Alan Crosland, was only 58 minutes long and looked to be filmed on a shoestring budget with Barthelmess playing out the string.
Thanks to TCM, viewers like me got a chance to see the real Richard Barthelmess in action in "Massacre."
TCM finally aired "Gentlemen Are Born" on 9 August 2011 as one of 24
hours' worth of Ann Dvorak movies, she being the star of the day. When
Darryl Zanuck was in charge of production at Warner Bros., he would
have never allowed this pathetic movie to go into production. The
credits say Alfred E. Green directed this movie, so he must have,
although I find that hard to believe.
Somehow, Franchot Tone got the starring role here, maybe Jack Warner thought he would lend some prestige to the movie, what with Tone usually working at MGM then. Franchot Tone's acting here is horrible, his thin-lipped smile makes him look like he is trying out for a role as the next Dracula. For me, the high point of the story was when Tone's character, Bob Bailey, working as reporter, asks the businessman father of one of his college chums if he is familiar with rumors linking the father's business to a bank that just failed. Mr. Harper, the father, tells Tone to wait in the outer office with his son while he goes into his private office. Next thing you know,Harper jumps out the window and Bailey is telling his editor by phone that Harper accidentally fell out the window, a story the editor isn't buying.
Margaret Lindsay is in this movie also and she looks great, even if her role is totally unreal. At least she doesn't end up like another college chum of Tone's played by Dick Foran. Foran's character gets beaten up in a boxing match, is wrongly tied in to a truck theft ring and gets mistaken as a stickup man.
Next time TCM shows this movie, avoid it.
29 November 2011: Robert Lee Johnson, responsible for the story and screenplay of this turkey, floated from studio to studio as a screenplay writer. He probably thought this movie would put him on the Hollywood map, with its mix of pretentious characters and preposterous storyline, all played with a straight face by the actors here. Instead, this movie tanked and Johnson went on to a career as co-scriptwriter for hire at any studio hiring.
If not for one voter here, my review would have scored all negative votes from the IMDbers who saw this movie. Darn it, too bad that one voter can't retract his positive vote. Those negative voters must live in world where it is the norm for crooked banksters to say say "excuse me" and then commit suicide by jumping out of their office window. If this movie were a comedy, that scene would have been a laugh riot. Trouble is, hack scriptwriter Johnson was being serious. This movie represents a real waste of director Alfred Green's talent.
"Soldiers Of Fortune" is an incredibly bad TV series that wastes the
talents of actors John Russell and Chick Chandler. No one person could
be responsible for this TV disaster, it took teamwork. The first
episode of the series, The Gaboon Viper, has it all: a lousy script,
incredibly cheap sets and virtually no action. The episode did give
some black actors work, but these actors looked none too happy, the
producers probably shortchanged them. I saw this episode complete, then
I scanned through other episodes, not wanting to use up too much time.
Most episodes I saw looked like Timeless Media Group had only had access to 16MM prints of the episodes. Some looked like video transfers. Worst of all, some had what seemed like decomposition damage on either the left or right side of the frame. On another TMG mastered series I have, "The Texan," TMG did a really fine job, most episodes had no print damage of any sort, no end of reel marks, no scratches or hazy areas. "Soldiers Of Fortune" is another story, much sadder.
So some NBC Universal functionary approves the release to TMG of many bad prints of episodes of "Soldiers Of Fortune," who cares if the resulting box set is a consumer ripoff. I only recall seeing one or two episodes of this series on a black and white TV set over 50 years ago. Seeing this series now makes me realize that some old TV series are better off buried in archives beyond the reach of mortal man (and woman).
Looking at the series episodes, featuring badly filmed stock footage inserts, ill fitting costumes from wardrobe, guest actors for whom the series was the end of the line (with exceptions like Lee Van Cleef and Leo Gordon) and directors collecting a paycheck as the major Hollywood movie studios went into free fall back then, you have to think that working on this series must have been real depressing. But John Russell and Chick Chandler just plugged away, always putting on a cheerful face. Those two deserved better.
As does any consumer who made the mistake of buying this shoddy box set featuring many video episodes mastered to the bad public domain quality you see on Alpha and Gotham DVDs.
After a crackerjack start showing Gordon Gekko checking out of prison,
the title credit rolls and Wall Street 2 falls into a rut it never gets
out of. As the cast moves from one glossy set to another, all very well
photographed as if for the Discovery Channel, I was waiting for action.
In Wall Street 2, there is no real action, just talking heads as the actors recite lines from a script with no originality and no humor. Everything is glossy, no exterior scenes at night showing piled garbage in downtown Manhattan, to be picked up later, serving as the smorgasbord for hungry rats. No scenes showing cars getting ticketed and drivers stuck in midtown Manhattan traffic. A movie set in a sanitized Manhattan, where the only minorities you see are the Chinese potential investors at a conference where Shia LaBeouf's character saves the day with his knowledge of a company out to generate fusion energy using multiple lasers to convert seawater to clean energy (Note: I am a big backer of cold fusion).
In this movie about Wall Street, everyone is a Boy Scout, there is no smoking that I recall and no drug use of any kind, not even people taking prescribed anti-depressants. This movie shows Wall Street as accurately as the TV soap opera General Hospital shows the workings inside a hospital. In other words, Wall Street 2 is a complete sham populated by very good looking people who never find themselves in a dark corner, really worried, in trouble with no escape route. There is one scene in LaBeouf's company where you see a chubby office worker walking by LaBeouf, the guy carrying a cardboard box with his personal possessions. Does the guy make a comment about how rotten things are, laid off with thousands of other co-workers? Of course not. That is stuff that happens in the real world, a world the movie's scriptwriters are incapable of presenting due to incompetence or possibly excessive drug use.
Try as he might, Michael Douglas cannot do much with his role as a waffling Gordon Gekko. Someone should have told director Oliver Stone that when he says "Action," there should be some interesting action. Watching the character Winnie Gekko spend most of the movie moping does not qualify as action in my playbook. To end my comments on a positive note, Wall Street 2 does have one redeeming quality: in a down economy hitting Hollywood studio movies particularly hard, this sequel provided jobs to a lot of actors and craft people.
For 15 years, I had my laser disc copy of Out of the Blue stored away,
plastic shrink wrap still on, with two Camelot Music price stickers on,
one red Camelot logo above a $14.88 sell price, another black logo
showing $5.99. Camelot used to have video and music stores in many
malls in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida area before it went out of
business. I may have bought this laser at the Camelot store in the
Broward Mall. The laser cardboard sleeve had a hole punched in the
upper right hand corner, the mark of a remaindered LD. I finally got
around to looking at this movie, and the movie is less than the sum of
The title credit for Out of the Blue identifies Bryan Foy in charge of production. Foy had been in charge of producing B movies for Warner Bros. until about 1941, when Jack Warner decided to make only A movies. Goodbye, Bryan, after 14 years your services are no longer wanted. But Foy remembered the stars at Warners he worked with, so he hired George Brent and the still very pretty Ann Dvorak to star in this 1947 movie that takes place mostly in Greenwich Village. The trouble is, Foy did not hire any of the Warner Brothers early 1930s screenplay writers to help rewrite the script, a lame affair involving a wife who vanishes, some snoopy neighbors and attempts at screwball comedy. The very limited movie budget Eagle-Lion provided meant cheap sets, few extras and mostly interior shots.
The early 1930s Warner Bros. movies were like capturing lightning in a bottle, very difficult to do. In 1947, RKO made a crime picture, Riffraff, with former Warner Bros. star Pat O'Brien playing a tough private detective. O'Brien had previously played a tough police detective in Warners' 1933 movie, Bureau of Missing Persons. RKO had one of the former Warner Bros. top stars, but that wasn't enough, just as with Out of the Blue.
Warner Bros. movies like Hey, Nellie! and Friends of Mr. Sweeney, both set in Greenwich Village, had their comedy aspects but they also provided a grim commentary to the Depression years. Both had subplots involving crooked politicians. All Out of the Blue has are good looking characters in search of a script.
I still cannot figure out why the Turhan Bey character breaks the speed limit while transporting a steamer trunk with what he thinks is a dead body in it. Naturally a motorcycle cop stops him to give him a speeding ticket. When asked, Bey tells the cop the trunk has a body in it, which the cop takes as a joke. How clever you Hollywood screenplay writers are. Out of the Blue has some fine actors in it who deserved better material. Hopefully, none of the actors' paychecks bounced.
|Page 1 of 7:||      |