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Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
Another awful installment of the Star Wars series
I am continually let down by Star Wars. The original trilogy should have been left to stand alone instead of being glutted up by the back story in film form. This film is a joke and a waste of time. Basically, this is a children's movie, and a poor one at that. Very poor.
The animation and art are uninteresting, the combat scenes are boring and unrealistic and even implausible in their outcomes. Yoda is a joke, the writers have taken the funny syntax thing to the level of ridiculousness. The Jedi look terrible. The new preteen, tubetop padawan for Anakin is annoying and wholly unnecessary. I wish I hadn't ever seen this.
The Magic Sword (1962)
A fun movie that has some pretty creepy parts
This film is chock full of veteran actors. Take a look at their bios. Basil Rathbone's performance, of course, cannot be argued with. He is the epitome of evil villains and plays the wicked Lodac perfectly. Sullivan, his secret conspirator, is obviously a villain from the start but plays his smug disguise to the utmost and the result is terrific.
Where the subtleties of an experienced cast may not be readily apparent to more passive viewers, goofy in-camera effects courtesy of Bert I. Gordon fill the gap. There are a number of pretty creepy moments to watch out for, if of course you know what to expect. This isn't a late 20th century modern horror film, it is an early 1960s fantasy adventure. Understand that point and you will have an enjoyable viewing experience! The film feels similar to the Hercules movies, or perhaps the Adventures of Sinbad films with work by Ray Harryhausen (although there is no animation in the Magic Sword).
Dinner at the Ritz (1937)
what good actors can do with a weak plot.
The plot reveals itself early, there isn't any suspense to speak of and most of the jokes are weak. However! There are some bright spots:
If you remain interested after the first 45 minutes, you will find more jokes to be entertained by, although some of these moments are merely incidental. Shooting on-location in Europe provides a welcome change of pace. The dialog, which is smoothly and stylishly delivered by a "classic" cast of capable actors, adds to the film's overall camp value. The cast provides some worthwhile moments, but you must be patient. I also enjoyed the costumes but if I am going to watch a movie from this era solely for costumes and dialog, this wouldn't be my first pick. If you like film from this era (I do) and already are familiar with the cast (I am), then I might recommend it. If you are not familiar with the period and the actors, I recommend finding something else to watch. The film isn't immensely popular so if you've come this far then you probably know what you're getting into.
The Polar Express (2004)
jingle jingle jangle
This film is simply outstanding. Surprises everywhere.
One criticism: There was scant (if any) product placement, certainly not the norm in films nowadays and a fact for which I was grateful. But then right at the end I got smacked in the head with Steven Tyler, of all people. It was a very odd sensation, as if he walked into my bedroom during an intimate moment. If not for such a wonderfully buoyant story, it may have popped the warm and fuzzy bubble.
I've always wondered how Santa did it, although I never expected the elves to be quite so small. I liked the caribou, they seemed very friendly.
'Loved the hobo.
The Dentist 2 (1998)
I don't like going to the dentist. Every time I sit in that chair with my head cocked back at a weird angle and those people with their paper masks come in and start scraping and spraying and rinsing and talking about their kids, I just get wigged out. This one dentist I used to go to, he thought it would be a good idea to put video games in his lobby, like that's gonna make everything better or change the fact that some guy is gonna be sticking a drill into my jaw in ten minutes. And the magazines are always crap, like Golf Digest and Prevention.
That being said, Dentist 2 is pretty good. In fact, I'd say it's just as good as the original. A third wouldn't be bad. It takes that squeaky clean/award-winning smile/elevator music voice kind of a facade your dentist has and twists it up, preying on everyone's deepest secret fear, the dentist. I like the last scene where he walks in on the party and everyone there is freaked when he strolls by with a load of nails in his head. I liked that ending, death by nail gun (well maybe she thought it would kill him). The torture scenes aren't too graphic. It's overall worth your time if you like the horror genre.
Watching The Dentist on the screen surely beats the real thing.
Ghosts on the Loose (1943)
better than a rainy day
Slapstick meets Bela Lugosi in this all-but-forgotten 1943 comedy. Just think about that statement... Comedy, Bela Lugosi. And that right there is why I allowed myself to splurge 2 bucks for a used VHS copy, because the very concept made me crack a smile.
But although Lugosi's performance can't be argued with, the plot underpinning his role certainly doesn't help to elevate this film to award-winning, or even memorable, status. There isn't any "bad" acting from anyone on the cast. It would be more accurate to say that each part was played with about as much talent and gusto as it required. While Lugosi can just walk on screen and be effective by looking like himself, the other parts are a little trickier. There is a doofus, a few cronies, a guy getting married, or a very flat Ava Gardner, so take your pick. There isn't much depth behind those parts that a halfhack drama student couldn't pull off with a hangover, so they are adequately acted.
But all criticisms of writing and the very nature of crackerjack comedy aside, the whole thing was pretty good. There are plenty of gags and stupid lines to keep anyone with at least half a heart interested. Paintings with moving eyes, secret passages, etc. The gags get old from the start but some of the lines just snap off like popcorn and I appreciate that type of writing. It's an older, fast-talking style that Hollywood tends to ignore nowadays, if people are even writing like that any longer, but I doubt it; there's too much interest in color film, sex and violence to make dialogue important.
This film has no blood, no senseless violence, no gratuitous sex, and no crass language. Don't get me wrong, there is an upside (heh). So I'm not going to pretend that I'm too cool to say this wasn't any good, because it's funny, simple, and downright ridiculous. All I mean to say is that when those factors are combined in a script today, they doubtlessly create a tasteless, fluffy PG sleeper not worth the price of the ticket. This movie is different, however, just don't expect a cinematic masterpiece. Expect it to be what the title suggests, a simple and stupid comedy starring Bela Lugosi as a secret Nazi, and you've got to love that.
The Phantom Planet (1961)
Shrunken men and desperate space ladies.
In my opinion, The Phantom Planet seems to seems to be one of the better-produced B sci-fi efforts of the early sixties. The acting was decent, the music was good, and the set designers made a genuine attempt at producing quality sets, props, and costumes.
The plot is coherent and wraps itself up neatly: astronaut crashes on an unknown planet, shrinks, has trouble integrating with alien society and after doing nothing in particular to help defend the planet from an attack by other, more brutish aliens, is then politely returned to his moonbase. Very nice, congratulations. Usually in movies like this, there will be loose ends and inexplicable holes left seemingly at random. This starts and finishes without really forgetting to resolve anything.
On the planet of Rheton where Dean Fredricks crashes, he is put before a jury of his peers for the crime of killing a citizen of Rheton. The "jury" is really a cast of hair styles and fake eyelashes straight out of a 1960's fashion catalog, essentially girls in skirts that do nothing the whole film long but stand there and look pretty. The only two lines I can remember any of them saying were "Kill him!" and "Guilty as charged!" So my guess is that they weren't paid too much and probably hired to keep you in your seat either admiring their short skirts and waggling rear ends or to see if they might go nuts and start pulling each others hair. The script is a thumbs up because it adds to the film's entertainment value. When an actor reads lines about shrinking spacemen and density rays, you can't help but be entertained.
Towards the end you are introduced to the Solarites, a race of aliens attempting to steal a (ready for this?) gravity-based density ray from Rheton. Despite the name, they are a race of largely dull and uncivilized brutes. Of course they are destroyed quickly by the very weapon they are trying to steal. Like I said, the Solarites are not the brightest crayons in the box. They are classic, awful Hollywood monsters, in fact, they may have given me ideas for next year's Halloween costume. I was thinking maybe I'd get some khaki pants and a polo shirt and be Danny Glover but this is an even better idea.
I have watched this movie several times and it holds its value.
I nuovi barbari (1983)
Another great Italian B-bomb!
Violence violence violence! I do love a good B movie filled with great humor (thanks, Fred Williamson), bad English dubbing, and some seriously senseless destruction of life, limb and personal property with no clearly explicated purpose.. it makes me wish that my local theater would pick up dubiously awful and forgettable garbage like this so I could at least feel like I got my seven bucks' worth and be sure I'm not contributing to some Hollywood millionaire's personal Scientology donation fund.
I have never seen so many people explode in my life. There is at least one exploding person in each scene. There are no less than three decapitations in the whole movie. One guy's body even twitched after he had his melon lobbed off by a chassis-mounted, multibladed personal decapitation device. Wow.. there were some kind of great special effects in this movie, too. Well, that is to say that plenty of money was spent on explosions, fake blood, improvised costumes and cars converted into wild, freewheeling killing machines.
Fred Williamson plays a very proud mercenary in post-nuclear holocaust Earth, and boy does he ever do it with STYLE! He even gets a girl by the end. This movie has one of the best (ahem, most laughable) science-fiction artsy sex scenes ever done - inside a green cellophane tube, the girl in a bodysuit and the man shamelessly naked, all the while cutting in and out to scenes of the actors sitting by a polluted lake, discussing how they understand their respective life circumstances. It's about as awkward and hilarious as one could get short of sex on the Starship Enterprise with Data. This would be a good movie to show if you are trying to illustrate a psychological or sociological point about the human relationship with aggression and violence, because there isn't really much of a plot without the violence. In fact, the ends of the plot lie in the destruction of one group of people, who believe that their life purpose is the destruction of all humanity, so there you go. Take a good look at the costumes - lots of cool hats, codpieces, stockings.. it only gets better as the flick rolls on. Enjoy.
Ghosts of Hanley House (1968)
Curse of the terrible script.
This mediocre ghost story is made viable and creepy by a few subtle touches. The special effects are a mix of dry ice and what appears to be more dry ice, but the lighting is at times interesting. The cast members have stark and/or dark features, and the B&W medium in combination with dramatic lighting for scenes within the haunted mansion make for a very good effect. You usually come to 'like' a character in a movie, and in this movie there isn't anyone to like. It seems that everyone is a dumb creep with some kind of motive. Just how much that works to the film's advantage, however, is difficult to say because it might be lost on a more casual viewer, but I think that it makes the story interesting. There are a few sidelines to the plot which were either never developed or lost to editing, but they are minor enough to not affect the continuity of the film. The screams are great. Hollywood just doesn't have screamers like it used to. I would recommend this movie, if you can find it.
pamela gidley haha
pamela gidley shows that she really knows how to take control of mutated reptiles, although she can't do too much with the script. the actors are so forgettable that the creatures should get top billing. on-screen chemistry between gidley and simon bossell is perhaps the worst ever if not for the recent star wars trilogy.
the effects and props are outlandish but there's plenty of them - a guy's head explodes and you've gotta love that, another guy gets eaten by mutant lizards, and there's an absolutely great scene toward the end where gidley almost loses her leg to a hasty operation on (of all places) the counter in the general store. more lizard battles follow, lots of blood, puss, etc. it's a miracle that the characters' lack of anything resembling common sense didn't get them dusted in the first ten minutes.
if you're a fan of gore, crackerjack horror, B-anything, peter jackson's older work, or have a "thing" for pamela gidley, then you'll probably enjoy it. it succeeds where a lot of cheap movies fail, which is to say that while the plot is essentially brainless, it manages to stay consistently fun and entertaining. aberration's biggest drawback may be its 'TV movie' feel but given the subject it doesn't suffer much for it.