16 Reviews
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Impossible to Dislike
21 July 2013
This movie, like all its Italian muscleman predecessors, is so good-natured, sincere, and well- meaning that it's impossible not to be charmed by it. The windy, overblown score makes every little thing anyone does sound like the most majestic, wondrous thing ever experienced. Whenever Samson or Hercules throws a spear or a lasso it makes a cartoonish whistling noise to show that this was a SUPER throw, not some puny mortal toss. It makes one with he could move to Ithaca, wear one of those manly costumes (and fill it out properly), and bask in the sunshine and the smiling benevolence of Hercules and his companions. Best not to hang out with Samson though, You can tell by the look on his face in the final scene that he senses things are about to go badly wrong for him. Beware of Delilah!
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Life Lessons Learned
15 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A cowardly young boy is subjected to mild bullying from other local boys. Even his little girlfriend abandons him when confronted with his craven nature. Suffering a mental breakdown, the boy experiences uncontrollable hallucinations. In them he witnesses the incessant squabbling of various giant monsters and also befriends Minilla, a man-sized creature who appears to be assembled from greyish feces. Minilla also has the ability to increase his size to about 2/3 that of the other monsters, permitting him to be beaten up by them. The boy assists Minilla with tactical advice, eventually enabling the hideous monster-child to briefly get the best of his primary nemesis. From these examples the boy learns to solve his problems with violence and by victimizing innocent bystanders for the amusement of his former tormentors. He appears ready to become the new juvenile terror of his bleak industrial neighborhood.
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Mars Needs Women (1967 TV Movie)
Come on, five women? Be a good sport, let them go.
17 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Five Martian men arrive at Earth and politely ask if they might acquire five female volunteers to save their dying race. Naturally, the emotionally overwrought cavemen in charge of the US military cannot consider anything as outlandish as that. Permit five American gals to do something as unconventional as volunteer to save an ancient civilization, thereby achieving something infinitely more noble than what their Earthly futures as wives and strippers might offer? Hell no!

Therefore the Martians are left with no alternative than to abduct some women, though I daresay a couple of them are charming enough to have a shot at convincing them to volunteer even without the blessings of the patriarchy.

Hidden amidst the scenes of wall-mounted speakers, stock footage, college football games, and strip shows, we get a genuinely effective scene wherein Tommy Kirk rescues a planetarium show by musing aloud about Mars and its civilization. To its credit, his speech accurately reflects what little was known (or believed) about Mars at that time.

Finally, this movie features Yvonne Craig, whose appearance makes up for any weaknesses in the special effects.
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Hack Director Craps Out Rubbish
15 June 2011
I have not yet read these books, so I have no opinion of them, but I don't have to read them to recognize a lame movie when I see one. This was a bland, rote piece of instantly forgettable trash, trite, massively predictable, filled with the same CGI monster fights we've seen a hundred times before, all without any sense of tension or consequence because we know the characters are never really at risk.

The girl playing Athena's daughter stands out as particularly blank and vapid. She looks good, but never for one second does she possess a shred of the presence one might expect of a daughter of (the famously virginal) goddess Athena. She and her two friends drift through their adventures while displaying only the most tepid reactions to anything they encounter, including a trip to a thoroughly non-Greek Underworld.

I'm trying to recall if I ever saw a Chris Columbus movie that actually impressed me. I'm drawing a blank.
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Alice in Wonderland (I) (2010)
Bland, pointless rehash
12 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A flat, tired film that takes it source material, strips it of all its mystery, wit, weirdness, and dream logic, and recasts it as a formulaic, paint-by-numbers generic fantasy-adventure movie. Read the book and see if you can imagine any of those characters doing anything that happens in this movie. These formerly unpredictable characters are reduced to stereotypes with an occasional nod to whimsy thrown in.

I certainly understand Alice's conviction that Wonderland isn't a real place, given the flashy yet insubstantial CGI nature of the environment and almost everyone in it.

Surely the fate of Wonderland should not hinge on anything as uninspired as an armored Alice getting into a sword fight with a CGI dragon.

Forthcoming literary adaptations by Tim Burton:

Moby Dick: A quirky but two-fisted sea captain (Johnny Depp) pursues a monstrous white whale through a number of huge CGI set pieces.

The Metamorphosis: A quirky weirdo (Johnny Depp) is transformed into a giant cockroach for a battle against the evil Queen Verminia, (Helena Bonham Carter) for the rule of the Arthropod Empire.

Ulysses: Confused Irish weirdo (Johnny Depp) falls into a boat while cooking breakfast, resulting in a wild romp through Greek mythology, including meetings with the witch Calypso (Helena Bonham Carter) and the grotesque Cyclops (Johnny Depp).
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Voice-over Actor
28 August 2010
The actor voicing McLaren in the American version is Shane Rimmer, who also provided the voice of Thunderbird 1 pilot Scott Tracy. I win the contest!

To me, the oddest thing about this movie is McLaren's demeanor during the space flight. He looks like death warmed over, like he really really wants to go home right NOW, like he might vomit at any moment, and like he can barely bring himself to speak. Or admit that he feels like hell.

This movie is not bad enough to be a source of amusement for that reason alone. It makes a serious attempt to tell a story, and is more coherent and intelligent than some recent similar films which commanded budgets hundreds of times larger.
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The Prodigal (1955)
14 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Some horny Jewish guy sees the visiting high priestess of a competing (evil) religion. He's so hot for her that he ditches the sweet deal he has with his family at home and stalks her to Damascus. He buys a big house and acts like the priestess is the only blonde money can buy in that town. His arrogance gets under the skin of the local bigwigs, who eventually get fed up and decide to take him down a few pegs. He takes out his frustration over being taken advantage of and generally acting like a chump by leading a revolt which destroys the society of Damascus and results in anarchy. He goes along as his pals stone the priestess to death, even though she wasn't really a bad person and didn't do anything really wrong except to faithfully practice her (evil) religion. Then he goes home with his tail between is legs, where much is made of him.
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I think my DVD must be missing a scene.
22 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It's the scene at the end where they report that the head of Benes has just exploded because the remains of the laser, Dr. Michaels, and the entire submarine Proteus have just enlarged inside it.

Oh, also the contents of a high-pressure tank of oxygen.

I mean, that must have happened, right?

Aside from that minor plot inconsistency, I'm very fond of this movie. The design of the research submarine is beautiful and believable, and the various interiors of the human body are also beautiful, even if not always entirely believable. I think I would expect the chambers of the heart to be a little less cluttered than they are here.
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Not such a bad guy...
9 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It seems to me that Ramesses gets an unfairly bad rap from this movie. Sure, he's arrogant and bossy, but after all, he was of the royal line of Egypt! In his competition with Moses, he was straightforward, honest, and did not stoop to unfair subterfuge. Why shouldn't he consider Dathan's revelation a valid reason to disqualify Moses from becoming Pharaoh? Even after achieving this victory, and having Moses totally at his mercy, he does not execute his rival, but exiles him, even predicting that he'll forget his troubles with another woman.

After several years, Moses shows up again, in total violation of the Pharoah's edict. Ramesses reacts to this with unusual forbearance. He merely smirks, and permits Moses to hang around his court. Moses disrupts the river purification ceremony, but Ramesses prevents anyone from killing him. Moses turns up on a private terrace while Ramesses is trying to read, and instead of having Moses killed, Ramesses merely tries to ignore him and wishes he'd quit bugging him. In fact Moses is attacking his kingdom with multiple supernatural assaults, yet Ramesses tries to shrug it all off as natural events and fails to molest his foster brother, or the Hebrews, until he has endured many provocations. Finally he reaches the reasonable decision to free the slaves, only to be turned from this by the manipulations of Nefretiri, a foolish act of pride and weakness on his part, not of evil. By the way, in the Bible it is God who mysteriously hardens Pharaoh's heart all these times, not Nefretiri.

After his plan to kill the Hebrew firstborn backfires, he again decides to free the slaves. The damage to Egypt would have been contained if not for the further scheming of Nefretiri. Of course we know from history that Ramesses II was one of the most successful of all Egyptian pharaohs, and went on to an extraordinarily long and prosperous reign.

I am left with the impression that Ramesses regarded Moses with a certain respect. Moses was certainly a more interesting character before his encounter with the Burning Bush. I think if these two guys had ever sat down together without their respective sticks being inserted, they could have worked things out and avoided all kinds of trouble. Of course that might have taken a toll on the movie's dramatic content.
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UFO (1970–1973)
Hints to Aliens:
15 March 2007
1: Send more than one UFO at a time. SHADO has only a few defense vehicles, so they could easily be overwhelmed.

2: Don't pass the Moon on your way to Earth. Approach from the opposite side of the planet, where you'll be hundreds of thousands of miles away from those pesky Interceptors.

3: Even if you do conquer the Earth, don't touch Moonbase. My wrath will be terrible if you do anything to harm those spectacular purple-wigged silver-suited moon maidens.

4: Land somewhere other than England. All SHADO Mobiles are based there, so you'll have plenty of time to act. Try landing in central Asia, as far as possible from Skydiver.

5: Appointing me your leader will assure your victory.
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9 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Russian refugee scientist John Hoyt attracts intense suspicion during the plane ride with his weird behavior. First, he refuses a cup of coffee. Traitor! Then, he is found to be looking at maps, another suspicious activity. Our stalwarts approach an uncharted island, somehow failing to notice its towering, sheer-sided pedestal of a mountain until they're on the ground. It's full of uranium, whose magical properties include a form of magnetism capable of attracting errant missiles. They climb it, discovering a few dinosaurs atop it, including a pair of sweetly doe-eyed ceratopsians who are nevertheless averse to humans. The rocket has augured straight into the ground, but appears to be undamaged.

There has been some talk about how kind and gentle herbivorous dinosaurs must have been. I would like to mention a few contemporary herbivores: rhinos, hippos, cape buffalo, bison. Perhaps someone would like to walk up to these creatures and pet them.
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An Odd Corner of New England
12 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
We are introduced to a world where living mummies are explained to undergraduate students and the police deal with them in a matter-of-fact manner. A big-city police inspector, made aware of the mummy's latest rampage, devises a very sensible plan of action against him which probably would have worked. Alas, his scheme is never put to the test, as the night he tries it coincides with the mummy's mission to retrieve the reincarnated Princess Ananka, the one task which takes precedence over the imbibing of tana fluid (although the mummy is visibly distracted by its lure). Upon beholding the girl, the latest high priest of whatever their cult is called succumbs to a sly and literal voice of temptation and attempts to keep her for himself (again), which ticks off poor Kharis, who has had enough of these unfaithful, horny priests. The "hero", a 35-year-old undergraduate student, pursues the captive girl and her shambling suitor, only to witness her being drawn into a swamp as a withered crone. Perhaps a sip of tana fluid would have done the girl some good after all.
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Unexpected Moment
10 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Near the conclusion of this film, the comic-relief sidekick finds himself facing down the unarmed "villain" (who is not really a villain, as normally, grave robbers are not thought of as good guys, except when Westerners are plundering the tombs of the ancients for their own gain). The High Priest scornfully assures the underling that he doesn't dare shoot, that only he, the High Priest, can control the mummy, etc. To my surprise, the flunky then proceeds to blast the High Priest down. The latter, facing his death, seeks only the forgiveness of his gods for failing in his task.

Fortunately for the "hero", he is still left with the task of defeating the mummy himself.
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Silly Things About "Voyage"
16 July 2006
1: Nelson orders the Seaview rigged for silent running. In the next scene we see it with its active sonar pinging madly away, as it always does. Seaview must be the most conspicuous sub in the ocean.

2: Nelson says they're 3000 feet deep in a trench 8 miles deep. Nevertheless, we see the sub threading a dangerous course between huge submerged pinnacles in the next scene. Seaview was usually running a submerged obstacle course when submerged, explaining the constant sonar pings, I suppose.

3: Seaview, sitting on the bottom, is emitting huge quantities of bubbles. Good luck surfacing again!

4: Seaview, moving "dead slow", detects the the wreck of another sub a short distance ahead; they can see it with their nose camera. A few seconds later the sub plows right into the wreck for no apparent reason. Great ship handling there, Crane!

5: The sub routinely makes emergency surfaces for no apparent reason. The sub explodes out of the water at a 60 degree angle, then smashes down. I'd like to see what happens on board when they do that.

6: The sub is often shown at steep angles, in pitch, roll, or both. Yet inside, everyone seems to be walking on a level deck.

And yet it's all rather entertaining...
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Why all the fuss?
25 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A rather inoffensive monster indulges his rock-collecting hobby after being partially revitalized by said rocks. Sadly, he fails to murder a small, shrill, annoying 30ish college sophomore and his larger, furrier, slightly less annoying roommate. In fact, the monster harms no one other than the hoods who murdered him and dumped his body into a lake, which he adopts as his home following his revivification by the greenish meteorites. This may have been the inspiration for most of the menaces on the "Smallville" TV series. The ending is remarkably incoherent, alternating between scenes of the monster holding the final meteorite fragment aloft and quick views of a descending roman candle ball which makes funny sounds. Finally, the police lieutenant shrugs and the movie is over.
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Gets off to a deceptively good start
23 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The first few minutes of this film had me thinking maybe I was about to see an unappreciated gem. The science actually made some sense, and the banter between the leads was fairly sharp and believable. This all changed a few minutes into the movie when the most likable character, the scientist's assistant, is unceremoniously killed. After that, the once-promising movie degenerates into the usual 50s sci-fi silliness, still amusing and worth seeing through, yet sadly lacking the promise of those first few shining minutes.

I will say it was heartwarming to see how quickly the girlfriend and her father accept the presence of the second, good alien brain. They would be ideal emissaries to alien worlds in view of their great flexibility of mind. The desert settings used in this film are also attractive. Finally, I must hand it to the U.S. military for being so quick to deduce that an alien invasion of some sort was taking place.
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