Reviews written by registered user
|282 reviews in total|
SEX MONSTER (2 outta 5 stars) No, this is not a porno... except for some four letters words and some swimming pool nudity this is as benign as a typical TV sitcom. Actually, the movie is basically an episode of Bewitched... except instead of the husband being upset about his wife's use of witchcraft he becomes upset at the emergence of her latent lesbianism. Mariel Hemingway actually gives a very good, amusing performance as the prim and proper wife who turns into the insatiable "sex monster" after she gives in to her husband's suggestion of a menage a trois. Unfortunately, writer/director/star Mike Binder's character is a poor cross between Woody Allen and Paul Reiser and doesn't do much to help this film rise about it's poor script. Actually it's not too much of a stretch to imagine Reiser and Helen Hunt playing these roles... it would have made an eye-popping "Mad About You" series finale! Events are about as predictable as you can imagine... husband talks wife into a threesome... wife winds up enjoying it more than the guy... guy starts to feel jealous and inadequate. Hemingway's performance is the only thing that keeps the movie from being a completely tiresome bore... not that I am recommending it... it's just to bad that her still-prodigious screen talent isn't being utilized more.
WHO? (3 outta 5 stars) Actually, the movie was re-titled "Roboman" for its video release (let me guess... some time after "Robocop" came out?) and has some trashy cover art making it look some kind of killer-robot-on-the-loose kind of movie... which this most definitely is not! It's actually a very interesting suspense film/character study... kind of philosophical and very low-key. Elliot Gould stars in one of his finest roles... as a US agent who has to decide whether an important American scientist returning from a Soviet country is, in fact, who he claims to be. A nasty car accident on foreign soil almost killed Dr. Lucas Martino (Joseph Bova). Russian scientists saved his life by placing him in a newly-developed robotic body... but he is hardly recognizable as human anymore... so there is some questions as to whether he really IS Dr. Martino... or a Soviet agent pretending to be him to gain access to an important defense project. The entire movie deals with Gould's quest for the truth... and a very interesting story it is, too. The ending is particularly interesting... cross-cutting a final meeting between Gould and Martino with flashbacks to the medical procedure. Is Martino really Martino? And does it really matter? You won't know until the final, fascinating moments.
HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER 2- MASK OF SANITY (2 outta 5 stars) Uh, long enough title, you think? First things first: this movie is one of those In Name Only sequels... and has practically nothing to do with the original classic. It hasn't got the same writer, director, actors or even the same style. This film is of a distinctly lesser quality in every respect. (This movie has some of the absolute WORST, fakest fight choreography I have ever seen!) Neil Giuntoli stands in this time for Michael Rooker (the original Henry) and, while he has a couple of effective scenes of underlying, stoic menace, for the most part he doesn't make much of an impression. This time around Henry is on his own and looking for work. He gets a job cleaning and moving port-a-potties and makes fast friends with a co-worker, Kai (Rich Komenich). Kai and his very un-happy-looking but smolderingly sensuous wife (Kate Walsh) invite Henry to stay with them until he gets some money put together. They also have an emotionally unstable niece (Carri Levinson) who draws freaky pictures. You think, with the two women in the house making googly eyes at Henry and carrying all that emotional baggage, that the tension would escalate into something really interesting. Well, you'd be wrong. Instead, Henry finds out that Kai does arson jobs for extra cash and the two of them get sidetracked into burning down old buildings for awhile. Then Henry starts into his killing spree again, slowly involving Kai more and more. The finale is a big disappointment in all respects... hardly touching on some of the more interesting elements introduced earlier in the movie. No wonder that there hasn't been a Henry 3.
SAKURA KILLERS (1+ outta 5 stars) Maybe in 1987 this movie might have seemed cool... if you had never ever seen a *good* ninja movie. Cheesy '80s music... cheesy dialogue... cheesy acting... and way-beyond-cheesy martial arts sequences. The coolest scene is at the beginning... with an aged Chuck Connors playing golf on a beach... several black clad ninjas try to sneak up on him and it looks like he is too intent on hitting his ball to notice... suddenly he reaches into his golf bag and... naw, I won't spoil it for you... if you ever have the misfortune of seeing this movie you'll thank me. The story is a lot of nonsense about some stolen videotape or something. A bunch of dim-bulb Caucasian heroes are trained in the ways the ninja because "only a ninja can fight a ninja" or something like that. Strange, these guys don't seem to fight any better after their training than before... oh well, the movie does move along pretty briskly. The fight scenes may not be great.. but they are plentiful... and the overdone sound effects are good for a few chuckles.
CHOPPER (3+ outta 5 stars) Nifty little character study of a notorious Australian criminal... well, notorious in his own mind, at least. The jury is still out on how much of the autobiographical details of the life of "Chopper" read are real and how much is fake... but it does make a compelling story either way. Eric Bana gives a great performance in the lead... nothing else I've ever seen him in prepared me for how good he really is. The character he plays is nasty, repellent, scary, ill-tempered... and still full of charisma. After a violent stint in prison (his motto appears to be "do unto others before they do it unto you") Chopper is sent back out into society. With no other skills besides his knowledge of crime, Chopper offers himself to the local police as a special undercover agent. They, of course, want nothing to do with his boneheaded scheme but he pretends that they do anyway. Inflicting pain (on himself *and* others) seems to be what he is best at and he gets plenty of opportunities to show his stuff. Amusing though it may be at times, the movie is not a glorification of violence... the ferocity and suddenness of it keeps the audience constantly on edge.
THE DRIVER (4+ outta 5 stars) Classic, no-nonsense, action-chase movie about a professional getaway driver (Ryan O'Neal) and the obsessed cop (Bruce Dern) who is determined to see him behind bars. Terrific chase scenes highlight this unjustly-neglected modern day film noir. No one plays nutty, obsessed characters quite like Bruce Dern. Ryan O'Neal as the bad guy/hero shows even less emotion than he did in Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon"... he's often accused of non-acting but I think his low-key, taciturn performance here is mesmerizing. He may as well be driving down to the corner store for a carton of milk rather than eluding a dozen speeding police cars. Isabelle Adjani doesn't really have much to do in this movie but look beautiful... but I guess that's enough. There is not a lot of dialogue and not a lot of character development. The characters in this movie aren't even given names! They are merely listed as The Driver, The Detective, The Player, The Connection, etc. This is a real high point in the career of director Walter Hill. He may have had more financial success with "The Warriors" and "48 Hours" but I think this is his best, most fully realized action movie.
FANTASTIC FOUR (2+ outta 5 stars) I suppose this movie isn't as terrible as it looks on the surface (and believe me, to anyone familiar with the comic book in its heyday, it does *look* terrible) but it's nowhere near as good a movie as it could been. The main problem is that they have a villain, Doctor Doom, but he doesn't have much motivation... and he doesn't even have any kind of evil plan to take over the world or anything. So he becomes the archvillain of the Fantastic Four because... he's kind of a jerk? He's not threatening to blow up the city? Or planning to murder thousands of innocent people? There is some kind of half-baked subplot where he and Reed Richards are both seeking the affections of Sue Storm but there is no real tension there... it's not even believable for a second that Sue could ever have been serious about a vain jackass like Doom... and Doom hardly seems capable of the kind of passion that could make this kind of romantic tug-of-war interesting. Yeah, these three characters are all wash-outs compared to the comic book versions. Fortunately, Mike Chiklis as The Thing and Chris Evans as The Human Torch are pretty faithful to the comic book characters and they have some good on screen chemistry. The Thing's dilemma (he is the only one of the four who takes the form of a "monster" and can't turn his power off and on at will) is handled very well... I wish we could have seen even more of his developing relationship with blind girl Alicia. Johnny Storm is a loudmouth, risk-taking fame-seeker and, since everyone else is so deadly-serious all the time, he gets all the best lines. The movie has a few moments... but the story has no real momentum and the big finale is about as senseless a movie fight as you will ever see. And what's with four heroes ganging up on one lousy villain? I thought the Jedis were wimps because they are always ganging up on the bad guys two-on-one... now we have FOUR against one? They just so much less heroic doing that...
BLACK EYE (2 outta 5 stars) Unimaginatively-filmed '70s action movie looks like it was made for TV... only the occasional cuss word and a subplot about lesbianism tip you off that the movie was actually made to be shown in theatres. Fred Williamson plays a tough guy ex-cop who becomes a tough guy private eye. He stumbles upon a couple of murders and attempted murders linked to a mysterious cane. There are some fistfights, a Bullit-inspired car chase, a fairly original elevator scene and even time for Williamson to confront the rich, lesbian lover of his girlfriend (Teresa Graves). There is also a scene with Williamson bullying a poor old man by tearing up some priceless old autographed photos in his memorabilia shop. Yeah, way to go, tough guy... maybe you can find a cripple to beat up later? Obviously meant to cash in on the success of "Shaft" (this and about six thousand other movies), this movie doesn't have enough edge or enough originality to make much of an impression.
ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS (3+ outta 5 stars) Love this movie or hate it, you have to admit that it's remarkable that this movie even exists at all. Probably the nastiest, crudest, most brutal, tasteless, sleaziest movie ever made. But, oh yeah, it is entertaining as well. (Well, to some people.) Based on actual historical recordings of Nazi atrocities during WW2 but combined with some totally outrageous exploitation movie elements, this movie tells the story of Ilsa, who runs a Nazi war camp as a means of satisfying her crazed pseudo-sexual desires. She tortures male and female prisoners alike (usually in the nude) and potential viewers must be warned that the juxtaposition of nudity and violence can be *very* jarring. You simply cannot imagine anyone making a movie like this today... much less having it shown in actual movie theatres... and DRIVE-INS! Nonetheless, the movie was a big independent hit in the '70s and the character of Ilsa has become famous the world over (spawning several sequels). Considering that this was a super low budget movie made in only NINE DAYS, it is amazing that the quality of the acting, sets, costumes and action is as good as it is. The elaborate action finale was shot in one day and it puts a lot of higher-budget action movies to shame.
COMPANEROS (4 outta 5 stars) Terrific spaghetti western/buddy movie co-starring Franco Nero and Tomas Milian at their best! Franco Nero plays a Swedish opportunist looking to cash in on a fermenting Mexican revolution. Tomas Milian plays a young hotheaded rebel who suddenly finds himself becoming one of the leaders of the resistance. Starting out on opposite sides of the conflict and butting heads at every turn, they soon develop a mutual respect and team up to save the day... or die trying. It's the same old plot, yeah (really, what is the difference between this film's story and, say, Duck You Sucker or A Bullet For The General?)... but the story is well-constructed, the direction assured and the performances are fantastic. Milian is in especially fine form... apparently he felt a bit threatened by his co-star's screen presence and sought to steal scenes from him at every opportunity. Nero, trying to hide his youthful good looks with some prosthetic wrinkles, may be stuck playing the straight man but he still gets his share of screen "moments". Another great score by Ennio Morricone... the reprise of the title track at key moments always fills me with delight. Director Sergio Corbucci's work may not match the visual poetry of Sergio Leone but he created a fine body of work as well, and this is one of his best!
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