Reviews written by registered user
|28 reviews in total|
So many reviews and message board comments, all polarized - and I think heavily weighted to the negative. Is this movie perfect? No, but is any movie 100% realistic? That said, I gave it 9/10 and think for those who watch it expecting a family drama set in a post-electricity world, the movie delivers well. If you want Mad Max, or The Road, not so much: they shouldn't have marketed it as a "thriller". The acting, directing, cinematography, music, and entire production are all very good. It follows the source material (book) so any plot points that don't make sense, well... But, those few problems aren't really an issue, since this is fiction, a story, and an entertaining one at that. It is rated 14A for a few scenes, so not for the younger kids.
I agree with a couple of the other reviews: a 'sleeper', and I was also lucky to find an old VHS copy in the sale bin at a video store a while back. Given the fairly high profile of the "Simon & Simon" TV stars, certainly at the time this was made, it is somewhat surprising that it went absolutely below the radar. Compared to big name movies with similar subject matter (like "The Border"), this film does a very good job of treating the issue of illegal border crossings from Mexico with a lot of depth, and I would say that in some ways it is even superior in drawing you into the characters situations - a sense of reality that is often missing from more polished or fast paced movies. I strongly recommend viewing if you like any of the actors, or are interested in this sort of story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of my earliest experiences in film was this short subject by Atom Egoyan, who was hired by poet Gail Harris to visualize one of her poems: "Men, A Passion Playground". This was in 1983, and shot at a park in Oak Bay (Victoria), B.C. Believe it or not, a hot air balloon was retained for just a few seconds on film, to coincide with the line 'men in the air'. I worked as a grip (in truth, I just showed up that day when I heard it was going to be filmed, signed a release, and presto!) and also appeared as a 'face' among dozens in the ending montage. But who are all the people whose vote gave this an average of 2.1? Egoyan's developing brilliance are in clear evidence here, in the two scenes mentioned. I only got to see this at the University of Victoria a few years later as an opening for "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome". I don't think it is available anywhere, and I have never seen it again. Perhaps it should be added as an extra to one of Egoyan's later films, or a director's box set collection.
I agree with TGLO1 - but I was 14 - and this show was a fun memory at a time when networks were also programming "Supertrain" and "Hello, Larry". The theme song written by Charles Fox was what made it for me, along with guest actors similar to The Love Boat (TV stars with series currently on the air and movie actors past their prime). When composer Fox was recently on TV Confidential, I asked host Ed Robertson to play the theme, but alas: no luck - I hadn't heard it in 35 years until I discovered The 2 min. opening titles on YouTube as "sweepstakes theme". As a note, the singer for the theme is well-known lounge act Ron Dante, and Fox himself is one of the most prolific composers of catchy TV tunes, including "The Love Boat", "Wonder Woman", "Happy Days", and "Laverne & Shirley". Only Alan Thicke can claim more cheesy lyrics (I'll let you figure out his credits).
Rather than just review this - my favourite of the Original crew Treks - I wish to speak to the Curse of the Even numbered movies as well as the glory of the Odd ones. First, this release is Excellent! Along with Star Trek 2 and 4, a fan gets everything they could want. Number 8, the Next Generation cast's sophomore effort carried on this tradition. In short, the even ones: 1,3, 5 (OMG!) pale in comparison. The transitory "Generations", number 7, was pretty good as well, and in fact shook up the trend - the last two, 9 & 10, were both lackluster. Unlike almost every other American phenomenon, and the success of British international series such as James Bond or the Pink Panthers, these first Treks were an almost exclusively domestic pop culture fare. Certainly the 1960's TV show, as well as The Next Generation, were seen and followed around the World, at times in a cult like status (it is said that Captain Kirk is the most recognizable fictional character of all time in that he can be identified by a Billion people). But, apparently, non-North Americans just don't see the appeal of the motion pictures, and their international gross is far below the domestic one. I believe that the reason for this is that within the United States, where American culture is "dog eat dog" and the pursuit of profit and the American Dream is paramount, such a socialized, ultimately fair and just alternate existence is appealing (in contrast). However, in the much more socialist areas of northern Europe, such an ideology is so common within their social safety net that the stronger attraction is to more bombastic and patriotic bugle soundings of the over-the-top action hero films, or underdog stories. That Star Trek could have become such an iconic and identifiably American story at home has always amazed me given the socialist undertones. The Enterprise and her crew are not even military, contrary to popular belief, but are more analogous to the United Nations on a scientific expedition to Antartica. Kirk himself represents such a dated, misogynist persona at times that he makes even Bond's view of women look respectful. Shatner's acting, apart from his own ego, is what always carried the story, but I must acknowledge the most popular character, and the only truly unique one among the main cast, Mr.Spock. When Roddenberry dreamed him up, and thanks to Leonard Nimoy's infusion of deep facets within the logic driven alien, Spock was the one who actually saved the day and raised the shows profile and allowed for long-term popularity and imitation. Star Trek, like the Beatles, remains a milestone of the genre, and, somewhat similar to '2001: A Space Odyssey', ages extremely well. That Paramount finally decided on a motion picture with Trek 1, rather than launching a new network (at that time, in the late 70's) on the back of Star Trek's resurgence in popularity is a blessing. All the movies (except Shatner helmed 5) are readily watchable, and should be done so in order. Set your phasers to stun and Beam Me Up, Scotty!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When 'Silence of the Lambs' became a big hit in the early 90's, this 1986 original (from the novel "Red Dragon" by author Robert Harris - who also wrote such 70's thrillers as "Black Sunday") quickly became forgotten, especially its 80's 'Miami Vice' style, no doubt infused by Vice show runner Michael Mann: certainly, aside from Michael Bay, the most stylish of Hollywood directors. Also included is a short but key scene with character actor extraordinaire Brian Cox as the original Hannibal Lecter (here and in the book spelled Lecktor). His performance, as stated in another review, is better than Hopkins. Rather than reveal the plot - redone with Hopkins and Edward Norton as lead FBI consultant Will Graham some 20 years later at the tail end of the long series - I wish to instead focus on the novel (there were 4 others to follow which paralleled the movies). In the book, the author outlines the making of a serial killer to a great degree, so much that it could be a Criminology textbook. And, having taken Criminology, I must point out the only error in that he merges two distinct, but different, psychopathic profiles. It doesn't matter, as this IS fiction, unlike say 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', and it is perfect. I used to own the VHS tape, and cassette soundtrack (Excellent! With both pop songs and original musical compositions), however have lost both. I must buy the Blu Ray DVD soon, but there has been no CD release or otherwise of the soundtrack. Some of the songs can still be found on their respective artist's own catalogue, however. There is a great lead performance by William Petesen, later of CSI, which alone should have brought this into reissue sooner. There is also Chicago cop standby Dennis Farina, and sexy Kim Griest, as well as solid turns from every other supporting player (including, of all people, Chris Elliott during his dramatic "acting" period). I can think of few talents on par with director Mann (please IMDb him and you might be surprised at his output, and quirkiness). The same goes for the intensity of Petersen, and Brian Cox as Lecktor. If there is one, good thriller-horror movie you need to watch, this is it. It is the ORIGINAL, at least as far as the crop released during the modern, post 1970's era of flash AND substance is concerned. And it is so intense that during its showing at my local cinema, a half dozen people walked out following a particularly gruesome - graphic without being degrading - scene near the beginning. Now THAT is directing (Hitchcock would be proud).
Originally aired on Christmas Eve, 2012, this Muppets 90 minute Special takes place at the Just For Laughs venue in Montreal. It shares some concept with the recent (2011) Muppets movie with Jason Segal in that Kermit hosts several acts, mostly Canadian comedians, and is in the style of the old Muppet Show as well. The highlight for me is Wawa, Ontario born Pete Zedlacher, whose set kept me in hysterics. I have watched this show 3 times just for his performance. There are several other notable comedians as well, including well-know Canadian Steve Patterson. Many of these performers tour with Just For Laughs across the country from time to time, but this TV special is Free, and you can see it at home! I strongly recommend this 90 minutes of great Family entertainment to all - whether you are from the Great White North or not (some of the cultural or other domestic references may go over your head though). The Muppets themselves are also ALWAYS welcome in my home - the 70's era program was the best television show of all time!
I was an extra on this film, which was made in Victoria, BC, Canada in 1986, and wanted to share the "behind the scenes" stuff: most of the actors were friendly, especially Karen Allen who would play touch football while waiting for shooting; I worked in scenes with Jeff Fahey who prepared intensely, and it was interesting to see the acting process; and the Director's son hung around and was an extra as well, when he wasn't cruising the town in a rented Chrysler convertible. The director himself was extremely reserved and almost seemed to be immobile, leaving preparation to Tak Fujimoto, who has done some great work aside from this little $6 Million movie. The make-up and costume people were also great, and the set had an almost carnival atmosphere. When I finally did see the movie, I thought it wasn't too bad. It is certainly an interesting moment in the careers of the fairly well-known group of actors that were in it.
I have never understood why so many people, critics and moviegoers alike, list this movie among the worst ever. It was certainly not due to disappointment in the cinematic treatment of the 1985 novel by David Brin - for I doubt that anyone seeing the movie had actually read the book (first). And, on it's very long length and scope it differs little from Costner's own Dances With Wolves (and shares a great deal with the spirit of Field Of Dreams as well). In fact, long movies are often seen as good value for the dollar, and have always been celebrated as epics - think Lawrence Of Arabia and Ice Station Zebra - to name a few. When many movies are 90 mins or less these days, I really WANT to get at least 2 hours of entertainment for my money. So, the bad points? Is the acting bad, or is the production value low? Does the long movie tend to drag out too often? Is it just a bad story? I say none of the above, at least not in any fatal way. There are slow parts, and a few scenes of pretentious message delivery, but I would actually list these as positives, or be at least neutral on them given the subject matter. The movie is very true to the theme of the book, and therefore is not a Mad Max type of post-apocalyptic adventure. That is not to say there are no action scenes, and it is in the setting up of the conflict that I find the movie has its greatest strength - and greatest humanity, which is what Brin's novel was all about. Further, the differences in the movie compared to the book leave me feeling that the movie was, in fact, an improvement. As a study in human nature, there is a whole developing scenario regarding the rise of the militia that is classic in its understanding of military leadership quite unlike anything produced recently (start thinking more along the lines of Lord Of The Flies). However, as far as "action movies" go, this is the polar opposite of the current trend, using even Costner's own Waterworld as an example, though it too was a flop. Costner himself is an unusual Hollywood force, with a hit and miss scorecard that is unpredictable. In the end, I would suppose that like any leader, he must ultimately take the blame here, but I still cannot fault him for making an undesirable movie. The Postman is among my favourites, a good representative of the genre, and one I re-watch every so often.
I have always been a huge fan of James Garner. His movie work at times has been as good as his "Rockford Files" TV show, and this is one of the best examples. I was not familiar with the novel by Deaver on which it is based, but I will say that the story does not disappoint. The actors are all excellent, and there is a good deal of suspense. I disagree with some other reviews here on Garner's performance, as I bought the DVD largely because of his role. Another good movie he did near the same time was "Fire In The Sky", which fans should also check out. This movie was filmed in Canada, near where I live, and you can somehow always tell a Canadian production just by the look. Perhaps the portrayal of America never feels quite genuine.
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