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I'm in the favorable camp here. I notice the reviews seem to be largely either/or; people looking for something Tom Clancy in nature have another film with Sam Neill playing a Russian they can view anytime on HBO. Neill, it seems to me, was the unsung hero of this; his character and Armin Mueller-Stahl's provided plenty of balance to the premise of the film itself. What a great cast! I hadn't caught Christine Lahti in anything since seeing Housekeeping 10 years ago, she deserved the awards they gave for this. The other big surprise was Dorian Harewood, I went nuts trying to figure out where I'd seen him before: He was Eightball in Full Metal Jacket. He really pulls out the stops here.
Spoilers: A little bit more back story would've helped. The only hint of how the Soviets took over was through a breakdown in communications, according to the Sam Neill character. The book apparently explains this as a massive EMP attack, using high altitude nuclear blasts to destroy electronic equipment across the nation - including the wiring in nuclear silos, which are supposed to be immune from EMP. Or perhaps the president couldn't do the deed. Or couldn't get in touch with them anymore. That wouldn't effect the subs, though. Don Wrye I suppose wasn't interested in going into all these details, but it leaves you scratching your head a bit. Would lack of spine/character bring down a whole nation? As it happens, I did enjoy the very enigmatic ending, even though it might be a bit treacly or unrealistic. O'Neill's character we think will let America get back on its feet - what about those Party bosses back in Moscow who had to be convinced that it was better to just murder all of Congress rather than nuke three cities?
The Ben Stiller Show (1992)
Some really GREAT bits here; one which hasn't made mention yet is "Ask Manson." "How do I get out tomato stains?" "The stain, THAT'S ME!" Or the Gradie's Oats commercials, with a really unstable Wilferd Brimley. COPS, filmed in Ancient Egypt ("You got a permit for that burning bush?") or Salem, Massachusetts. The Few Good Men parody: "You can't handle the truth! Do you want the truth?" "I WANT THE TRUTH!" "GIVE ME A T!" "T!" GIVE ME AN R!" Etc. etc. Followed by an explanation by Ben of why the cast wasn't good enough to play Jack Nicholson. Way sharper writing than SNL has done in a long time. Some dross in there but on the whole first rate sketch comedy, buy or rent if you're a fan of the parties involved.
Excellent science fiction
Some trivia: Many online reviews mention the pawnshop rape scene in Pulp Fiction as a "tribute" to Boorman's Deliverance, which seems a bit odd to me - is Midway a tribute to Patton because both films feature people being shot at by airplanes? Yet it seems to be true, since one of the nasty fellows in Pulp Fiction is named after the main character here: Zed.
****SOME MINOR SPOILERS HERE*****
One of the more successful science fiction films to date; anyone familiar with what to expect from the literature will be pleased, moved, and intrigued by its story, inspired by Aldous Huxley according to Boorman. The only seriously implausible part of it all was Zed's neverending range of talents; how is it that he brings the comatose Immortals out of their stupor? But nothing was left unexplained start to finish - unlike the last hour of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Look past the occasional indication of the tiny budget, like the indestructible bags (how does Zed get through those?), very obviously made out of transparent plastic, and enjoy the story, beautifully told, and this being Boorman, filmed as well.
The Creeping Terror (1964)
The worst ever!
I've seen most every episode of MST3K and this has got to be the worst movie they ever did. Some of their films were definitely made by people who'd never tried making a film before, but only this one suggests being made by people who'd never SEEN a film before! What got me the most was the narrator's sudden irrelevant prattle about what goes through a person's mind when they fall in love, how things change for them. In a monster movie. This takes about 2 and a half minutes...astonishing performances from all, sets, lighting, direction. Even the likes of Monster A-Go-Go or Invasion of the Neptune Men can't compete with this mamajama! Grab this tape and see.
The Wild Angels (1966)
Free to ride our machines!
Not really a-happenin' here. By this point Corman wasn't having his characters pontificate in neverending speeches to deliver the big message, but having essentially amoral characters isin't exactly the solution to his problem. The drawn out tedium raises its head in wobbly shot beer guzzling sequences, Harlys flying down the road, and the like. A good story could be had of it all, but Fonda's Blues displays all sorts of sympathies without showing any real motivation, before settling on resignation at the end. Another problem, initially, is figuring out which theoretical main character is being addressed - "Blues" and "Loser" sound an awful lot alike. It would have made a good riff on MST, along with Fonda's classic "We wanna be free" speech, which most likely WILL stick with you if nothing else does. Except maybe Dern's superbly anti-climatic performance: on screen for about 15 minutes before being shot by the fuzz, he spends most of the movie as a corpse his buddies lug around. Garnish with a case of Pabst and some primo weed, ALRIGHT!
Run Ronnie Run (2002)
Repellently mindless barrage of juvenile rubbish. Not once did I involuntarily laugh, being too busy keeping tally of how many groups they offended. Offend away, guys, but try and write the occasional joke while you're at it. As Richard Pryor remarked to Mel Brooks, after reading an initial treatment of the "Blazing Saddles" script: "Mel, is this movie going to be a comedy?" "Well, yes..." "Then let's make it one!"