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Doctor Who (1963)
Seemed good at the time.
I am [just] old enough to remember Dr Who in the 1960s-the creepy titles and music,the first Doctor hiding behind the sofa from the Daleks-and at the time it seemed very great indeed.But so many years later and i bought a Dr Who DVD to see if the magic was still there.Unfortunately it hasn"t aged at all well and the terrible SFX and acting look positively victorian.Then again even when Patrick Troughton first appeared i was already tiring of it and John Pertwee was the last straw in my opinion.Fortunately help was at hand in the shape of "The Invaders" which premiered in about 1969 in the UK.It is being shown on Channel 5 here and it makes both Dr Who and Star Trek look laughable by comparison.
Logan's Run (1976)
What a Gay Day
There are two ways you can view Logans Run; either as a serious science fiction film,in which case you will be bitterly disappointed,or as a comedy so screamingly camp that it makes Star Wars seem like The Terminator.Set in the 23rd century 300 years after e devastating world war the movie is set inside a closed city near Washington D.C.,where euthanasia is employed so that no one lives beyond 30."Runners" try to escape their fate while "Sandmen" [Michael York and pals] try to stop them.Made in 1976 the intervening 300 years seem to have altered little; the one black guy in the movie [everybody else is white] sports a huge Afro sraight from Soul Train! The only computer has a green screen and they still use escalators.Nobody appears to do any work.However the movie has three good points-#1 Jenny Agutter #2Jenny Agutter scantily clad #3 Jenny Agutter nude. It also has probably the silliest robot ever seen anywhere,ever.If you do decide to buy it make sure it is on DVD so that you can freeze Jennies nude scene.
Final Destination (2000)
I Died Too.
This was supposed to be a great movie.It follows the exploits of a bunch of absolutely typical American teenagers [the girls are beautiful,the boys handsome] who narrowly escape death on a plane when one of them has a vision of the impending disaster.But Death won"t be cheated,and it sets out to claim them back.What we have here is "Alien" without a monster;it picks them off one by one in a variety of satisfying ways,but ultimately we feel cheated by not seeing its dripping fangs.The movie is heavy on visual cliches too--i lost count of the "running away from large explosions in slow
motion" scenes!If you are foolish enough to watch this movie,be warned; you will be two hours nearer your own death by the time its finished.
In the Line of Fire (1993)
This is a great action movie made at about the same time as The Fugitive and they share at least two things in common:-smart dialogue,and the fact that the [rather long in the tooth] star is totally upstaged by the supporting star i.e John Malkovich/Tommy Lee Jones.As in all of his movies Clint plays a sort of tortured anti-hero who has great one line jokes and even better rabbit punches,whereas Malkovich plays Mitch Leary as an embittered ex CIA assassin turned psycho.Rene Russo is obviously no feminist or she would surely have turned down her role as the token love interest for Clint,who [Russo]just happens to be a dead ringer for Jackie Kennedy.The downside to the movie is Clints" sidekick [played by Dylan Mc Dermott] who bounds about like a hyperactive ten year old kid [Frank,Frank,can i do it please Frank?!!] and the fact that Clint pursues Leary on foot twice and never took the chance to shoot him in the leg.I know its only a movie but things like that bother me!Overall though its a great thrillride and well worth viewing.
Dante's Peak (1997)
Make Your Own Movie
Watching movies is such a lazy,passive activity that i have decided on something more amusing-"make your own movie".Its a bit like "Fantasy Football".Take some plot elements;a handsome scientist,an attractive single mother with two cute kids,a picture-postcard town and an extinct volcano.Write these on pieces of paper,put them in a bag and shake.Will the handsome scientist discover something no=one else knows,and will nobody believe him?Will he fancy the attractive single mother and will he be rebuffed,but eventually get through? Will the volcano erupt a few times and kill some unpleasant people before finally destroying the picture postcard town? Will the handsome scientist,the attractive single mother and the cute kids ride off into the sunset? I know what you are thinking-this is all very predictable so we had better drench it in CGI effects,which are rubbish of course,but they"ll do for the public.Congratulations!You are a moviemaker!
No Cameron=No Plot=No Movie
Its hard to objective about something you love,even when that something is a movie.I saw "The Terminator" when it was released and thought [and still think] it was the best and most original Science Fiction movie i had ever seen."Terminator 2" was a worthy successor with better SFX even though it lacked the darkness and originality of T1.The link between the two was of course James Cameron.And then we have T3,directed by Johnathan Mostow.I have tried to think of something positive to say about T3 but i can"t except to say that its over quickly and marginally less painful than root canal work!In the first scene we see an Aerial HK,obviously CGI and totally unrealistic with even the design changed.Its downhill from there;you get the impression that Mostow had a series of ideas for setpieces and at the last minute had to come up with a story to link them.Nobody acts with any conviction,and Arnold is almost a parody of himself.And the dialogue!"I"ll be back"-"She"ll be back"-"He"ll be back".Need i go on? It hurts to have to criticise ANY movie with Terminator in the title,and i suppose anyone who has never seen T1 or T2 will love this but all i can say is "I hope he"ll not be back"!
The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953)
Patriotism of the best sort
As you may gather from my signature i have railways in my blood,so it is practically inevitable that i love this movie.However it is more than a simple comedy about a village trying to save its railway branch line,though that would be good enough.It is also a picture of a time when a way of life was about to disappear with the railways,a time when people had good manners and treated each other with respect.A time also when to love your country didn"t open you to the charge of xenophobia.The cast are just fabulous with Hugh Griffith as Dan being the funniest,and a youngish Sid James [who always looked 55] before his Carry On heyday!The star is the countryside in beautiful Technicolour and funnily enough my favourite scene is a minor one; its where a girl in a summer dress is running down a hill to see the "Thunderbolt" go past! Now some good news; a couple of years ago i set out to walk the Limpley Stoke-Camerton line where the line was filmed,and was amazed to find how much was unchanged.Apart from the missing track,the cricket field [with the road viaduct behind] was exactly the same and at Monkton Combe [Titfield] the huge iron gateposts are still there.Anyone wanting to do the same should alight at Freshford station near Bath,walk through the lovely village past "Mr Valentines House" then to Limpley Stoke Station and follow the line from there.Like the film you"ll love it!
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The Smell Of Cheese.
Abraham Lincoln apparently once said of something "People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like".A lot of people must like Raiders then,for it to achieve #16 in the Top 250 movies.I watched it for the first time tonight and my honest opinion was...it STUNK! Nothing made any sense,the script was rubbish and the "acting" was terrible.[Spoilers] Indy has a clue where the Ark is hidden so he gathers a team of men and gets it out without the Germans noticing what he is doing? At every oppurtunity the Germans have to simply kill him,they tell him their plans[James Bond style]and tie him up?Having got the Ark [and tied Indy up instead of killing him!] the ark kills the Germans but spares Indy!I KNOW its only a fantasy but people generally seem to regard it as a really great film-perhaps that says more about them?
Deep Impact (1998)
God Save America
From Hollywood,that is!Whether it be space aliens,natural disaster,plague or comets Uncle Sam always gets his first and Los Angeles usually bears the brunt of the destruction.But its not all bad;Americans invariably discover the threat and after a few minor characters have died,neutralise it.More often Johnny Foreigner only puts in an appearance to show the Taj Mahal or [as here] Arc De Triomphe being wasted.I won"t bore you with the plot [the movie can do that] but simply say that it is "Armageddon" with one brain cell.Like that other movie,the laws of physics go right out of the window--so on the comets" surface there is gravity,jets of gas[?] and the nukes are helpfully fitted with red LED timers!But you have to wait till the end for the best bits;we are told the tidal wave will move at 1100 mph and be 1000 feet tall, yet Elijah Wood manages to outrun it on a motorbike!If you want to see a Real disaster movie check out "On The Beach" and don"t waste your time on this junk.
A comedian once commented that by the time you reached 40 you had done and said anything funny that you were ever going to say.The same rule must apply to moviemakers because the Stephen Spielberg who made "Close Encounters" would surely not want his name on the credits of "Taken".Its a ragbag collection of ideas and whole sequences lifted straight from other TV shows and movies.with only the names changed.The first episode i saw had an "alien"--obviously CGI and looking much like one of those alien blow up rubber dolls you see sometimes.Sensing that "Taken" fell into the SBIG [So bad its good] category,i continued to watch.Heres an example - in one episode the alien ship is caught on radar hovering over [naturally] America.What do they do? Scramble F16s to get a look at it? No, they stand around talking till i disappears! Last nights episode "Dropping The Dishes" was a carbon copy of "Close Encounters" except that the SFX were WORSE! To top it all,being a Spielberg show it has a "cute kid" who in real life has the remarkable name Dakota Fanning! This show is such a terrible parody of everthing to do with science fiction that i am hooked and cannot wait for the next episode.