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1) Where Eagles Dare -- http://www.whereeaglesdare.com -- unofficial fansite! [fight5]
2) Cutthroat Island
3) Terminator 2: Judgement Day
4) Raiders of the Lost Ark
5) Die Hard
6) The Long Kiss Goodnight
8) Goldeneye - 007
9) The Return of the King
10) The Return of the Jedi
My favorite horror movies
1) The Thing
2) The Shining
4) The Machinist
5) The Tenant
8) Event Horizon
9) The Evil Dead
My film classification system:
G --- anyone can watch it
PG --- nothing too objectionable, but recommended for ages 7+
13+ 16+ 18+ --- by age
The day I get out of prison, my own brother comes and picks me in a police car.
- Jake, The Blues Brothers
That's enough of that *beep*
- Clint Eastwood
On the eastern front of World War II a group of Wehrmacht soldiers, fresh from time off after a successful campaign in Africa eagerly proceed to their next line of duty: the Soviet city of Stalingrad, the site of history's most brutal battle. The film however is not so much about the battle and how the strategy from either side played out, but of the ordeal that these young men had to go through. After being subjected to what the viewer can only presume as much of the Third Reich's propaganda, many are eager to "fight communism" and "uphold western Christian tradition" but stronghold of brainwashing soon collapses like a brick wall of a bombed building.
The production of the film is very impressive with a startlingly convincing display of the giant ruined city. Heaps of rubble, wrecked vehicles, bodies, sewers, and soon a savage winter. Humanizing the Wehrmacht has been a sort of taboo, especially in the US where German soldiers appear on screen all too often just to be shot. Some more films from more daring directors, like Peckinpah's "Cross of Iron" have had the guts to show "the bad guys" as humans caught up in a whirlwind out of their control. And not as the archetype of the "evil army" as the Wehrmacht is often perceived. For instance, there were no SS divisions at this battle, so politically fanatical Nazis are totally absent from this WW2 movie about the German Army... imagine that? To Americans this might come as a surprise. Now don't get all offended, your reading what an American has written.
Secondly, it is not just the dreaded SS that is absent, but also iconography is not shown... or rather it just hasn't been ADDED as in movies like "Enemy at the Gates" have done so and, all too often, to more-than-slightly ridiculous extents. Giant swastikas on evil Nazi trains and imposing red stars on Soviet vehicles and banners... not here. HOWEVER, the Nazi swastika DOES make one key appearance - on the tail fin of a cargo plane, an outbound medical flight, the last plane out of the battleground. Wounded soldiers attempt to board the plane to be deservedly flown to safety, but in the chaos the plane leaves; the swastika leaves. The symbol that these men rallied behind to serve their country abandons them in the one moment when they need something from it. It is not just a scene of "war tragedy," it is outright betrayal. And it came after the most brutal battle in all of history.
Without question one of the best war films of all time. --- 9/10
BsCDb Classification: 13+ -- violence
Far Cry (2008)
Action Flick 101
One tough guy kicking butt and taking out an entire army during one weekend. That sounds like Schwarzenegger in "Commando" or Stallone in the 2nd and 3rd Rambo movies. Or like Til Schweiger in this film. A tough guy, who's good at heart, is forced to fight for his life and probably also for the life of the entire free World, though that last part is only not too subtly implied here. But it all works for the better and adds up to a dumb, yes, but actually enjoyable action movie.
There is a variety of action scenes, some humor, and a German guy who has an inexplicably English name... Jack Carver. Oh well, maybe it's an alias. But in light of the frenetically edited, darkly themed, and super produced Bourne movies among others, this return to basics is pretty enjoyable. The only thing different here than in those crazy 80s action movies is that the bad guys aren't communists or Soviets, but a shadowy government agency and possibly an evil corporation - in other words, the people that we currently most dislike are getting their butts kicked. Not much more to expect and not much more to ask for. --- 6/10
BsCDb Classification: 13+ --- violence
Brutal and raw
Violence in the raw would be a good way to describe this movie. The opening disclaimer tells us that some of the initial documentary style footage is supposedly real... it may be, but that's not the point. The point is that it's a very upfront presentation of violence and whoever seems to be doing it, also seems to be enjoying it to a degree. The remainder of the film is to a degree just like that. The shaky camera hovering all about over people's shoulders in longer than usual shot lengths is actually us watching in. Nosing in and out and all about trying to get a peek at how a criminal to be executed is tied to the final chair that he will ever sit in. Or the long, painfully long, shot of a woman getting beaten with her head eventually winding up as a gory stub.
Uwe Boll was never too good with carrying plots, but he sure has ideas and he is getting better at presenting them. There is no real plot here really, but more of a series of disturbing gruesome events. Perhaps surprisingly, the film is not exploitative like a typical slasher movie and the gore is hardly enjoyable. In fact, as far as marketing goes, that effectively makes the film bite its own foot, but it's an interesting decision. Infamous Uwe is developing as filmmaker and with a film like this I am actually kind of eager to see what he has next after this Anti-"slasher film" Film. --- 6/10
BsCDb Classification: 16+ --- violence/gore, brutality
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
A Black Comedy turned Nightmare
This film is perhaps most famous for its twist about halfway through the story. It is quite a twist on the film's reality, I'd say comparable to the one in "The Matrix" in that absolutely nothing is the same after. Also, like in the aforementioned film, the twist makes sense... but only if looked at from a certain point of view.
The story goes from a caper black comedy with a pair of crooks who are on their way to Mexico to escape US law enforcement. They take some hostages and narrowly slip through the border and to a meeting point, a bar with exotic dancers. It seems that their dreams are just about to come true and they'll be sipping margaritas safe from the confines of prison... but then what happens? Our very frightened protagonists find themselves locked in the bar, that is now basically a prison, but it is not run by law enforcement officers, it's worse. It's not even run by the Gestapo... it's worse! No, this place is worse than their worst nightmares and too bad for them that it is real, since it seems everyone has been given an automatic death sentence. The bar is run by vampires who feast on visitors in order to stay alive.
Is the twist odd? Yes, very much so, but with a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, only some sort of off the wall unconventional twist can be expected. Tarantino himself has a supporting role as the very weird and deranged brother of George Clooney's character. At this point Tarantino was known for crime capers and to an extent this is one too, but it fits into Tarantino's list of movies the way his character is in the film: a total weirdo with a penchant for violence. Also Robert Rodriguez has yet to make something quite like this as well...
Overall, this is an odd and very violent movie that is decidedly not for all tastes, but it's dark wit and sense of humor cannot be denied. See it to get a glimpse of something quite different. --- 7/10
BsCDb Classification: 16+ --- violence/gore
Charlie Wilson's War (2007)
Light comedy on the surface, biting satire beneath.
"Charlie Wilson's War" is a film that has different layers. A viewer with a keen sense for satire will see this instantly in some of the scenes that have caused slight and not so slight outrage. The main of these scenes that I refer to begins with Soviet troops parading through Moscow as a lively anthem plays, it is proud display of Soviet military might that soon cuts to helicopter gunships raking Afghan towns with merciless firepower. The superficial message here is that the Soviet Army is evil. Seeing that this is an American produced film, that explanation seems to fit for many viewers. In fact, the YouTube clips containing this scene contain many comments about this being US propaganda.
The film is written by Aaron Sorkin who has made a career out of acclaimed politically themed writing and is directed by Mike Nichols who makes few but always thought out movies, this explanation feels too lazy. Sorkin and Nichols don't seem to be people who would just show senseless killing for purposes of vilification. In taking look at the way this sequence is put together, we can reveal another layer to the film: the satire. The scene is inter-cut with what looks like stock and archive footage of the helicopters and some obviously computer generated helicopters... it seems rather sloppy for such a high budget film with many A-List actors. The first time the Soviet chopper appears firing, its gun looks like a laser blaster from a video game... the missile effects are inconsistent with the stock footage. One quick shot of archive footage shows a chopper firing to the right, then cuts to a a CGI missile coming in from the right as well as a CGI chopper. Another quick shot of documentary footage shows a volley of missiles being fired from a wing pylon, then, in a perspective shot of the movie's footage ONE missile impacts the top of a wall and engulfs the screen in flame... did the pilot just fly into his own missile's fireball? And why was this one so much bigger than the previous or ensuing ones?
The reason being is: the jokes is on us, we the audience. It is all intentionally, and somewhat subtly, ridiculous. There is no doubt that the Red Army committed its share of war-time atrocities in Afghanistan, like any army does in almost an war, but the point is that vilification is senseless. There is more to every story behind every war. The film shows that the typical (and propagandistic in this case) movie archetype of the evil army is shown to be fully ridiculous. In escapist movies it is fine, but in historical films, it is far from it.
The rest of the film is much in the same vein. It gets behind what we are normally shown; a different, but key, layer of war: the funding of it. Strings are pulled and words are carefully chosen behind the curtain, but in front of it a full blown war is waged that today had led to disastrous consequences is waged. This is far from typical for a big-budget film and it was probably why the story structure had the main message and satire hidden behind an easily pleasing layer of light comedy. --- 9/10
BsCDb Classification: 13+ --- profanity, drug use
What is it good for? A Saturday night at the movies.
This starts off as a perfectly routine action flick in the revenge category. Crawford, a dedicated FBI agent loses his partner to an elusive assassin and swears vengeance. When that same assassin reappears years later, under mysterious circumstances, Crawford goes after him, but soon things turn out to be different that what they seem.
It is that last bit that puts this film above your usual by-the-numbers movie of this type. Things get pretty interesting in the second act, with Rogue the assassin using Yojimbo-style tactics against both sides of a war between to huge crime syndicates. Then by the third act things get really interesting with a few twists to top it all off. A twist ending can also be fairly routine, but there are two turns here. The first of these a keen audience will at least feel coming, but the second was really unexpected. It is both strangely frustrating and strangely pleasing for a routine thriller, that you THINK is really just an excuse to get the two action-movie stars in a massive fight, to then offer something a bit more that is very out of routine.
What isn't strange, however, is that the movie had a poor office run. People often decide to ignore movies that offer, or try to offer, new elements to their genres. I remind the reader that the second sequel to Pirates of the Carribbean pulled in almost a billion from it's movie theater run despite containing not one ounce of originality. That said, "War" isn't amazing in anyway and it is pretty much geared for guys who like action movies, but the few surprises and pretty good direction from first time feature film director Altwell, make this flick worth checking out. --- 7/10
BsCDb Classification: 13+ --- violence, profanity
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
Army Men go High Tech
There is something particular about this fairly routine summer blockbuster that makes it more enjoyable than it otherwise would have been. More aptly put it is a lack of something and that is frenetic cutting. This is highlighted during an outrageously destructive chase scene through the streets of Paris when a volley of missiles flies down a street and two of our heroes jump up, flip, and dodge them in an epic camera move that then reveals about ten parked cars behind them that get sent sky high. That one shot is a mixture of many of the things that make action movies great - motion and grace couple with destruction. Realistically speaking that's utterly preposterous, but this movie never tries to be realistic; it's an adaptation of a preposterous cartoon for kids and it is just like that source material. It's a boys' (and also girls') army game rendered in the latest cutting edge of special effects of Hollywood. Brought to the screen by one Stephen Sommers who has made a career out of such things, and while he has yet to give his movies some brains, he is spot on in giving his audiences epic spectacle.
There are changes from the cartoon; the heroes aren't just Americans, but rather the best of the best of the best selected from armed forces from all over the World, which is a nice touch. Also, Hollywood's love of acronyms has made "G.I. Joe" into "G.I.J.O.E." What's it mean? I don't remember, but I think somewhere between a military convoy getting attacked and an underwater military base exploding, by way of the Eiffel Tower falling down and several capital cities being saved from ballistic missile annihilation, they explain it. It doesn't really matter anyway.
What does matter is that this adaptation may be a bit too little of an adaptation than some where thinking, it is more of a re-vamping and the bringing into a new age of the cartoon. The many owners of many of the action figures and vehicles from the massive line of toys back in the day will undoubtedly notice that only a few of those things made it into the movie and those that did were seriously redressed. It would have been perfectly acceptable if they at least homaged the classic things... seriously there is mention of the GI Joe Battle Wagon! Or of the GI Joe General. However, seeing that this is merely "the rise" of Cobra and not "the battle against" Cobra, those things might very well be in line for a sequel, and if they aren't, they should be. --- 7/10
BsCDb Classification: 13+ --- violence
"Alligator" is a fine example of the effectiveness of simplicity. Simple story, no overblown effects or gratuitous gore; but the delivery is right on target. The simplicity of it all, doesn't mean a lack of creativity in the suspense and scares. One scene has two characters looking at in a sewer, as they turn on their light brief flash of something sinister in the background... Much like "Jaws" the titular monster here only appears in full in the final act and despite the fact that we all pretty much know what an alligator looks like, the demon in the shadows idea here works quite well. After all, this isn't your normal everyday alligator.
Also of note is the ruthlessness of the title creature... something missing from many horror films today that succumb to commercial viability in the form of the absurd PG-13 rating. Here, all are fair game and while the death scenes are in a way cheesy with some overly bright red blood... but it is still better than corny computer effects.
All in all, a great creature feature, if not much more. --- 8/10
BsCDb Classification: 13+ --- violence/gore, terror
The Osterman Weekend (1983)
Weak end to a legendary career.
"The Osterman Weekend" emits the feeling of a last gasp. What was an author's second novel later took this form of a director's last film. Sam Peckinpah was a good choice for directing, with film's like "The Wild Bunch" and "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" under his belt, Peckinpah wouldn't hesitate to show the grim world of betrayal and manipulation that Robert Ludlum showed through virtually everyone of his books. With spy films like the James Bond franchise being the most popular, this was the lesser seem side of that coin - the side that is less escapist adventure storytelling for boys.
However, the problems that Sam Peckinpah was going through at his last stages have noticeably affected the film. The intricate plot is there, but feels stitched together in parts, though that may very well be due the studio demanding re-editing work. The action is at times sloppy with very little of the mesmerizing details of Peckinpah's previous action sequences; a car crash even contains multiple repeats of the same angle and makes some disastrous continuity. The other action scenes are a notch or two better, but still far from what they could have been.
But, at least the plot and its many deceptions keep you guessing, right to the last shot. --- 6/10
BsCDb Classification: 13+ --- violence, sexual content
The Rookie (1990)
Straight-forward formula, above par execution
Back in 1968 Clint Eastwood did a film called "Coogan's Bluff" where an Arizona cop follows the trail of a criminal to New York City. The movie was practically a prelude to "Dirty Harry" as Clint Eastwood metaphorically took his well known Western tough guy persona into the big city. Two years later he would pick up and immortalize the .44 Magnum. Now, after 5 "Dirty Harry" films Clint Eastwood goes through another film that serves as a metaphorical transition: a tough as nails veteran cop gets partnered with a rookie. The comparisons to Dirty Harry have been made, but they are pretty much inevitable and unavoidable. Though that doesn't really detract from this film.
The plot is relatively straightforward - Det. Pulovski goes out to avenge his partner's death and Ackerman is an eager new cop ready to show that he has what it takes to do an often "dirty" job. Pun intended.
As far as Clint Eastwood's body of work is concerned this is one of his more ridiculous and self-indulgent films; in particular the concluding act has some odd excess and the final action scene turns too cold blooded for its own good. However, even as a straightforward and often brainless action movie that is in now way as legendary as Eastwood's other work it is still enjoyable. There are some spectacular stunts - "fasten your seat belt" - and despite Eastwood playing a familiar character he puts enough amusing spin into the film; particularly Raul Julia as the villain - he's so straightforward, yet so oddly original at the same time. Almost like Hans Gruber's brother, or maybe cousin, who went into the car jacking business. --- 7/10
BsCDb Classification: 13+ --- violence, profanity