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Would be better if I hadn't read the book
The real tragedy to this film is that Stephen Hunter has written several books with this character, and properly handled this movie could have easily been the start of a major film franchise. Instead, it becomes a one film throw away because it looks like the people that wrote the screenplay were completely unaware that the books exist.
Mark Wahlberg is acceptable in the role, but only because so many changes in the script were made. Had the movie played more according to the script, you would have a much deeper character emotionally, and the role would have required someone older and more taciturn.
The film overly simplifies the motivations and the reasons behind the actions of the various characters, the female lead was thrown in simply to put a female into the film, and the screenplay often bogs itself down into simplistic anti or pro American jingoism's.
I notice Stephen Hunter was not given screenplay credit for this film, which only raises him as a writer in my eyes.
Bottom line, it's an okay matinée movie to see at reduced prices. But as anything more than a basic mindless action film, you are better off saving your money and spending it on something worthwhile.
Summer Rental (1985)
A Good John Candy Film
Though this film could easily be classified as a slob comedy, similar to so many that were made during that time, and Candy was prolific as an actor in many of those films, there's one moment in this film where it rises high above the typical slob comedies of it's era. John Candy is despondent about his chances in a yacht race, and tells his daughter "You can't win them all". Daughter responds, "But winning one would be nice, huh Dad?". Candy responds with perfect timing "Yes, (perfect pause) winning one would be nice". At this moment in the film you feel all the pain ever felt by anyone who ever wanted to win just one time and show the world they could. He knows his limits and accepts them, but this one time wants to rise above them and prove his worth.
Candy is an overstressed air traffic controller who takes an enforced vacation with his family, and has a summer of things go wrong. The filmmakers resisted the temptation to engage in an overly cute family, and just allowed the actors to play a fairly typical family. Candy, who rarely played a family man, handles the role very well, bringing a realism to the role of the father. Though not on anyone's Oscar list, this movie is worth the time it takes to see it.
Production values, we don't need no stinkin production values...
Poorly done, poorly scripted, poorly shot, just a film disaster. It looked like more budget was spent on hairdressing than the costumes or props department got. Sad tale of a group of women forced to live as outlaws in the forest with only their never seen hairdressers as company. The late Lana Clarkson "stars" and shows off her chest to save the day. Mudwrestling topless, tied to a torture rack, showing off the latest in forest mini skirts, it's all in a day's work for these babes. If you have lots of time on your hands watch this film. It usually plays about 3-4 am on the various movie channels, so plan on staying up late.
Choke Canyon (1986)
Some decent aerial stunts, but your basic low budget movie
I confess to having seen this film only because I made an effort to search it out. In 1986 I was stationed in Ridgecrest, California, and spent my spare time hanging out at a friends machine shop. We were contracted to build some equipment for a movie being shot locally, and that's how I know the film. I built a satellite dish and control console used in the film from scrap, and was out on the shooting location south of Ridgecrest at an old ready mix plant on highway 395. This was the location for the lab, and where the monster trucks were driven over a canyon. The film itself is so low budget it screams for mercy, with much more money spent on F/X than writing or directing. The cast is composed of Hollywood fringe actors who never quite got the big break they were looking for. Some of the stuntwork, particularly the aerial work which was done in Utah was pretty decent, but overall the film was really hurt by the low budget tack taken in making it. However, getting to watch an almost completely Italian film crew at work has got to be on of the greatest sources of humor that can be found, and anyone who ever gets a chance to do so should. It will keep you laughing for years.
Ed Wood (1994)
Love it or hate it, ya gotta see it!
Several weeks ago a director who won an Oscar in the 1940's died, and I didn't recognize his name or his achievements. Ed Wood wanted desperately to be known as a director, and people remember him better today than many much more illustrious directors. It's hard to consider him a failure, since he did write, direct, and make films, (albeit terrible ones), he is remembered, and his films are popular still. This film captures the essence of his desire to direct films, no matter under what circumstances. It's a perfect film for Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, who seem to specialize in off the wall films about unusual characters. They show the cast of oddballs he gathered around him to make his movies, without casting obvious judgement on them, thereby allowing the audience to draw it's own conclusions. The first time I saw it in the theatre, at least 1/3 of the audience walked out in the first ten minutes, and the remainder enjoyed every minute. Highly recommended, but not a mainstream film. I was surprised and impressed that Martin Landau received an Oscar for his role, since it wasn't a type of film likely to be popular with hollywood's cognoscenti.
Uchu kara no messeji (1978)
One of the strangest yet most enjoyable movie experiences I ever have had
Saw this in late 70's when it was on a double bill with the original "Airplane". A truly terrible rip off of Star Wars, with poor Vic Morrow somehow stuck into the mix. But, with the exception of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, it is the only film I have ever seen where the audience actively participated. The entire film was responded to by shouts and new lines from the audience. I went back to see it 3 more times, and each time the audience responded this way. It may be a lousy film, but it has all the makings of a great midnight movie and cult film. If Ed Wood was still making films at that time, this is the film he would have made.