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On the surface, this is a light drama-comedy-mystery about five young
preppy guys who kidnap a professional criminal who they think is the
master of criminals, because the sister of one of the young men is
kidnapped, and they want to use him as leverage.
There is the usual red herring and counter bluffs and all the movie stuff that makes the geeks happy.
This is really not about the story, however. It is more how the more successful underworld people deal with upper crust people, in this case with the criminal the older, wiser guy who is more than supportive of his kidnappers, even after they cut off his finger.
He sees them for what they are. In fact, one he even calls "the man", a young nerd who had no part in the kidnapping, but who is used by the others. This respect for the young man is symbolic of the film. All through it, the other four give away their characters to him, and even those who cause him suffering, he relents to and works with, save for one whom he realizes is not capable of being reasoned with.
The movie has dull filmography, cinematography, and scenery, so it lags quite a bit, and comes across as something that actually works better on stage. Putting this on film wasn't the best idea. Still, it has some assets.
This is a B movie horror science fiction all the way, and makes no
bones about it.
There are only a few characters, and it looks low budget, although nothing is really "low budget", as the numbers for "low budget" is usually enough for a person to retire on for life.
We have a deadly creature that seems deadly, then doesn't seem deadly. It's not very "congruent", and it's filled with plot holes.
Still, the characters are pretty good, and rate as "credible characters in an incredible situation", which is the best science fiction.
It doesn't do much more, but it is "watchable", and is best viewed as "elliptical entertainment" or "treadmill TV".
Another take off on Battle Royale here, the fight to the death, ten
little Indians with one or two survivors thing.
It doesn't matter why they do it in these spectacles, because obviously there can be no justification for such a "game".
It's pretty mundane to say "killing is bad", because those of us who think the "kill" mentality of games is immature and sick, those who are the beaver and butt heads who get off on it will get off on these kind of movies just as much, unless they are shown for what they are, and the characters are shown for what they are.
That's why Battle Royale worked so well, and why The Condemned failed, because the Condemned was simply a neo Nazi propaganda movie for the sick human demons of society.
This one works fairly well, although we get lost in a bit of drag, mostly due to confusing camera work, and due to drawing out scenes too much.
Plus, the idea has been run into the ground. This movie really offers little new.
The maniac played by Sutherland is without motivation, but honestly, he is a grown up beaver and butt head. We have seen many people who worship the lack of motivation, and they are now adults in positions of power, the same nerds and geeks who praised their own inept superiority in their virtual worlds.
So the maniac ruler works well in this, and is believable. Some who might question him feel insecure and threatened if they speak up.
Some of what happens is a bit predictable. It's actually the heroics of the heroine that are most credible in this.
What we have here is a middle ages story on the Crusades which is
centered around a historical incident in Saladin's tent.
The incident in Saladin's tent is a historical fact, and long overdue to be in film.
It is also the perfect incident in which to base an inspired fiction story.
However, aside from the incident in the tent, the movie suffers from a lack of inspiration.
Also, some of the history suffers. Aside from the tent, the movie takes too much literary license.
Add to that the overrated Liam, a favorite among the brain dead types, but he makes real actors and talents groan in agony with his wooden Hollywood one dimensional macho act.
What makes the movie suffer is the lame story line of the hero. He just isn't inspired, or the inspiration isn't sufficient for a viewer. We don't buy his ingenuity. He is more of a family man, one who functions as a cog, not an innovator.
Also, the character of Guy is a bit off. He was more of a coward than the movie shows. Montreal was also a more romantic, dashing figure than the movie shows, which made his evil even more abhorrent to Saladin and others.
The truth be told, this was a vehicle which could easily have been a grand piece of inspiration for a side story. One gets the feeling that better scripts were tossed aside, with some ideas stolen from them to go into a formula film, which this looked like.
This should have been much better.
One film in three parts. Which is best? Which is worst? Hard to say.
I think I speak for the consensus when I say this trilogy is weaker as a whole than Lord of the Rings, and I'm guessing Jackson did this on purpose for the simple reason he knew it couldn't compare to what may be the most awesome trilogy that will ever be made. So he simply made a "good" trilogy, not opting for the "special classic" effect.
The fantasy story of Bilbo's journey among mightier beings in Middle Earth is told in this trilogy with some trivial changes, but none of the changes are "drastic" changes, including the romance between the dwarf and the she-elf.
This part of the trilogy is the most superficial, by far. The others had some bits of innovation. There is almost no innovation here. It's strictly hard core action.
The only strength of this film is that a few things happen that aren't the usual "predictable" things. These three involve the coward, the elf king, and the she elf. Everything else is very mundane.
The weakness of this film is the lack of humor. There is almost no comic relief. No "the big one, the big one!" No "what about second breakfast?" No "that still only counts as one!" The closest we get to comic relief is the coward character, and that is at best a scant comic relief, and not well done. The coward is so much like Worm Tongue of the ring trilogy that we already know there is a connection there. So much is the resemblance that Jackson would be appear more imaginative if he didn't make them related.
The lack of comic relief makes this seem like more of an ordeal, especially with the long drawn out battle scenes, the long drawn out musings of the dwarf leader, and the long drawn out tragic scenes of the romantic couple. Those who read the book, and probably over half of the others, know which three dwarfs will die, so it isn't much of a spoiler to say which three, but I won't spoil it.
Another huge weakness is the overkill of the super power bad guys. They loom like giants and appear too much like the Greek demi gods who can only be killed by other demi gods. This movie is much too classical Greek in that respect.
The characters are well drawn, though, especially the minor ones, and that is a strength. Indeed, that's what keeps the movie from being on the low side of average. It is strong on character, but weak on the very action it overkills on, an overkill necessary to please the geeks and dorks, of course.
In the long run, I call it the slightly weakest of the three because of the lack of comic relief. Jackson tried too hard to make this too harsh, to please the Hollywood hate cliché loving dorks. He sold out on this one big time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of the more refreshing sci-fi films in a long time, and one
of the best zombie films since the original duo of "Night of the Living
Dead" and the 1985 classic "Day of the Dead".
It's a throwback to the old films which looked like original plots and characters. There is the look of the Lost Patrol and similar movies, most notably JOURNEY TO SHILOH, which had to make an impact on the writing of this.
And that's what makes this a good film. It looks like one of the few sci-fi films that wasn't stolen from a more inspired writer and muddled into a formula film.
There's also a throwback to the era of McQueen and his blob, to the old teenager flicks in which the young men and women had a sense of character and camaraderie. We can identify with the characters, save the one real creepy one who is an obvious villain. And we can see their motivation.
The five young men, and the woman who is separated from them, are quite credible. They have some darkness in them, a realistic amount, the sort of the platoon in ALIENS if one makes an analogy. That's why this is an interesting story. I was pleasantly surprised.
Needless to say, the beavis and butthead crowd won't like it, because it does have credible characters in an incredible situation. However, others will enjoy this.
The weakness is the "villain", who looks out of place in a group of three dimensional characters. The hero is a bit wooden, but he's credible, because he does have a very believable motivation for his actions, and because he sees himself as a steward over the others. He says little, and does a lot of thinking, which does make sense in this incredible situation of zombies infesting their home city.
The best character is his friend, Turner, who truly looks inspired by the character of Miller from JOURNEY TO SHILOH. In fact, the actor could be a look alike for Michael Sarrazin. For that matter, the lead actor has much the same mannerisms as James Caan in that film. Their three friends are likable as are the five friends from Shiloh.
Perhaps this was unintentional, being simply inspired from the same sort of feeling. Whatever, it does work. For good or bad, it's "inspired" and looks "original", not like the usual movies that look like they were stolen from more creative minds. These people did what they did on their own, if I'm not mistaken.
Turner makes the film work, because he is the one the viewer will probably identify with the most. He has the best survival instincts as well as a great sense of teamwork, not only trying to save himself, but everyone else he can.
In a film where friends are whittle down, it's not really a spoiler to say most of them are whittled down. Aside from the throw away character of the villain, all are handled quite well.
This looks like a B film that will eventually be a mainstay. For now, expect the usual jealousy of inferior minds. It could even become a better film than I give credit for. It's a keeper.
At the time of my review, the other reviews are all either raves or
pans. Mine is somewhat between.
This Russian style movie doesn't translate too well, but the communication problem looks to be more sever than that. It's about six astronauts on a doomed mission. One dies in space in an accident, leaving another with guilty feeling flashbacks during the return trip.
The return trip also goes badly, as the remaining five are stranded in the desert. This is before cell phones, internet, all that jazz, and no one knows they are there. Sort of like the Twilight Zone episode.
The movie is more or less about the breakdown of these professionals in the wild.
That had promise. However, it looked very slipshod in editing, and we aren't sure what happens to a couple of characters in a very bizarre, disoriented chain of events. One problem is that we only get a point of view of three of the characters, yet one of the other two becomes a mutineer.
This could have been a good film, on the order of SILENT RUNNING or ROBINSON CURSOE ON MARS, but it is too disjointed, and it can't be blamed on budget, because the fact is that the plot and events are left with gaping holes that could be rectified without any budget at all.
It isn't as great as some say, nor as bad as some say. In an evaluation to give a person an idea of what to expect, I can say that although it is not action oriented, it does flow fairly well, with enough drama and suspense, enough scenery and atmosphere, to cover for lack of action itself. The monotone style of speaking of the characters may be because of dubbing, but I think it is intentional for effect. I've been more bored by many high octane action movies, but also more entertained by less action. It falls somewhere in between.
On the plus side, it sticks with you. After many years, I still find much of it very impressionable, and memorable, for good or bad.
It should have been better, but it won't disappoint completely. I think it is a movie that bears watching.
This film has more of "stage play" look to it than most films. It is a
sort of odyssey of one character alone, with the other characters
simply appearing in short bursts.
Lancaster plays a man who is a big of a braggart, thinking he can "swim" home to the other side of town, on land, by borrowing everyone else's pools to do a lap.
It's a very pompous statement that immediately sets one against his character, but along the way he shows us that he isn't really as pompous as he is simple. He really isn't a big brain, but has tasted much success. He isn't an evil character by any means, nor a hero, just a very simple man.
He is as "gray" as a character can be. He doesn't want to harm anyone, and in his heart he thinks he can do good, but the fact is he is more helpless and useless than he realizes.
He owes most of the people money or favors whom he visits, and doesn't seem to know how little they think of him. He's had a good life, and has had excellent health. It's hard to say he "wasted" it, because he more or less just went along life for the ride, with an attitude of live and let live.
At times his pompous nature turns to a "superior" feeling, however. Not in a dangerous way, but still in a way that means he wants success at the expense of others.
This isn't to defend him. Nor to attack him. He's not the man I would want to lead my work crew, but he is okay in the work crew.
1970 was about the time that spy movies became nonsense, as this one
Nonsense was in earlier movies. A lot of noir movies were based on this. No plot, no motivation, no story, just one liners and writers contriving excuses to kill people in a movie for no reason, and then claim there was a reason.
That's pretty much what happens in this spy movie. George Peppard suspects the husband of a girl he loves to be a spy. We have no idea why, and we have no idea why the characters in the spy ring do what they do. Merely for effect. Once you get past this, that the plot doesn't exist and there is no motivation, the rest is easier to watch.
It is full of almost every spy cliché there is, and these were already clichés well before 1970.
The "personal" motivations of private lives plays out better than the "plot" angle, and that's what you would watch this one for.
It always makes the person look like a moron when he claims Hollywood
has always had good guy heroes. Even in the forties, few heroes were
"good guys", and "good guys" rarely won.
Glen Ford plays the creep hero, a man who makes his own luck, or in other words has had the love of other human monsters who taught him the tricks of cheating. Today, such people run almost all businesses, including all casinos. There is no "fair play", because too much respect has been given to creeps like this.
There is nothing likable about the characters, which makes the romance even less interesting. We don't care about the characters, so a rational person doesn't like it when these punks claims they can romance like we can. They can't. The relationship of the story fails because no rational person can identify with them, nor empathize with them. And it's insulting when these monsters pretend to be in situations we have found ourselves in.
The problem with movies like this is they try to claim Ford is an "anti-hero", when he is nothing of the sort here. He is classic Greek hero, the thug who has the love of the gods. The anti-hero is one who has to cheat the cheaters, the one who has to play against accepted social rules. The thugs like Ford plays here are the "socially accepted norm".
That's what's wrong with these movies. Otherwise, we could care about the story, because the romance itself is well done. It's just that people who grew up in hoods know better than to be conned by human monsters who try to make us think monsters are people.
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