Reviews

635 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Sniper: Reloaded (2011 Video)
3/10
Fourth Sniper films should have put a nail in this franchises' coffin
3 September 2019
Boring fourth film in the Sniper series lacks the presence of Tom Berenger, which is a blow to this film, but the oddly charming Billy Zane returns to the series as the veteran sniper who is pared with young recruit Chad Michael Collins (the son of Berenger's character from the prior films). Some of the sniper scenes are still interesting, but the story about Collins wanting revenge on another sniper who foiled his mission at the start of the film and killed most his squad is pretty dull, as is the romantic subplot about him and a female British officer. The first film was not all that great, but the sniper action was unique, particularly the focus on the use of camouflage, which hadn't been used all the much in movies, but it didn't really warrant six sequels. Watch the WWII sniper film "Enemy at the Gates" instead for a film that's far more suspenseful, well acted, and thought provoking.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Once Bitten (1985)
5/10
Early Jim Carrey film is a mediocre 80s sex comedy without the sex
3 September 2019
Jim Carrey plays a horny high school student, as are all teenage boys in 80s sex comedies, when he is seduced by Lauren Hutton, who happens to be a blond centuries old vampire who needs the blood of a virgin to retain her youth and beauty. Carrey also has a wholesome high school sweetheart, who then gets jealous of the vampire seductress and lots of unfunny door slamming farcical shenanigans ensure, which includes Carrey's annoying, equally horny friends, and Hutton's vampire minions, one of whom is Cleavon Little playing Hutton's butler as an ugly gay stereotype, which is a "comedy" element that didn't age well at all. It's also odd that a sex comedy is rated PG-13. However, in the film's favor, Carrey is likable in a fairly restrained comedic role compared to the broad comedy he later became famous for, and there is one sequence at a high school dance were Hutton and Carrey's girlfriend have a dance battle of sorts that fairly clever, so it's not completely terrible. As a bonus, at the start of that high school dance scene, look fast for a young Megan Mullally, who checks in Carrey and his girlfriend for the Halloween costume dance. You can also look fast for Dean Stockwell as a valet attendant before his late 80s career renaissance following his role as Ben in David Lynch's "Blue Velvet." Also of interest, one of the films' four writers went on to co-write some animated classics such as "The Lion King," "James and the Giant Peach" and "Monster Inc." and the film's cinematographer was Adam Greenberg, who'd later go on to shoot classics like "Near Dark" and Terminator 1 & 2. Overall, this is not an 80s comedy classic and is in fact quite offensive at times for various reason, but is certainly not the worst 80s comedy out there (that distinction probably belongs to "Soul Man," where C. Thomas Howell poses as a young black man in order to get into Harvard). FUN FACT! The film was written for Elvira, but initially offered to Morgan Fairchild, who turned down the role that eventually went to Hutton.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Not great, but better than expected low-budget Italian Mad Max ripoff
3 September 2019
Solid Italian Max Mad ripoff has tons of tricked our car and motorcycle desert chases, along with some pretty good Road Warrior copycat costumes, which is fun, even if the action is nothing compared to George Miller's groundbreaking films. Instead of fuel, the survivors of this post apocalyptic hell are in search of water. Though lacking the massive production values of Kevin Coster's "Waterworld" or even Miller's "The Road Warrior," director Giuliano Carnimeo (billed as Jules Harrison) manages to infuse some decent thrills out of his minuscule budget and the corny script from the same writing team who brought you the equally silly "1990: The Bronx Warriors" and "The New Gladiators" (they also wrote the Lucio Fulci horror classics "Manhattan Baby" "The House by the Cemetary"). However, the film is hampered by lousy acting, a dull story, and terrible dubbing (though that does offer camp value). Also, the film takes a major nosedive in terms of pacing once the main character comes across a community of wastelanders. From there, it's a bunch of boring talk about how they can get more water and nothing much of interest. That is until the final's climactic road battle, which although nothing spectacular and plays out more like a demolition derby than a coherent action sequence is still a step above most low budget warriors of the wasteland films of this ilk. Overall, far from a classic, but solidly enjoyable if you enjoy this sort of disreputable film genre.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Descendants 3 (2019 TV Movie)
4/10
My kids enjoyed this much more than me
12 August 2019
As with the first two Descendants movies, my kids enjoyed them much more than I did. The idea of all the Disney villains being forced to live locked up (my magic) on an island by themselves does have a fun "Escape from New York" vibe to it, but this is the Disney Channel so there's teenybopper singing, dancing, and angst. For this installment, there is now a lottery of sorts where the children of a villains can get a a reprieve and get off the island, as did Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay. I found it odd how happy all the villain kids were for those chosen (this time the descendants Mr. Smee, Lady Tremaine, and Dr. Facilier's [they're really desperate for villains with that one]) when it wasn't them picked, but that's the good natured attitude of this film about evil people. Another annoyance is the film is padded out with some flashback musical montage sequences from the first two installments. Maybe the classic sins-of-the-father themes were an interesting starting point, as was the "Escape from New York" Disney villain prison island, but the songs are annoying and the petty teen drama is a lot to suffer through. Honestly, my favorite moment watching this film was hearing a cover of a T-Rex song during a milk commercial. But again, I was not the target audience for this film and my elementary age children absolutely loved it.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
A weaker Coen Brothers comedy is still pretty darn good
12 August 2019
A weaker outing for the Coen Brothers is still a pretty good time. The film is a bit of a send up of spy pictures like "Three Days of the Condor" or "Enemy of the State" (an under appreciated spy flick of the 90s). In this Coen Brother version of a spies and espionage, it's a world populated by a bunch of dumbbells (George Clooney, David Rasche, J.K. Simmons, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton), who end up circling a couple of fitness trainers (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) who stumble upon a draft of Malkovich's autobiography and thinks they've discovered top secret material they could sell to the Russians. From there this screwball comedy gets even crazier and sillier. I don't think I busted a gut quite as hard as I did for "Raising Arizona," but this film does have that same kind of silly frenetic tone that is unique to the Coens, so if you enjoyed that film, you'll probably enjoy this one, thought likely not quite as much.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A rather moody turn for the Coensis a folk music spiritual sequel to "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
12 August 2019
Joel Coen remarked regarding the film that it "doesn't really have a plot. That concerned us at one point; that's why we threw the cat in." The Coens are notoriously tight lipped about their films, but this offhand remark is a pretty insightful into the type of film they intended to make with "Inside Llewyn Davis." Telling the story of struggling 1960s folk singer Llewyn Davis, the film ends up an ode to capturing a specific time and place, as well as a celebration of the 60s folk music scene. Oscar Isaac ("Ex Machina" and Poe Dameron in the latest Star Wars trilogy) plays the intense Llewyn and spends the film in a wintery NYC couch surfing, trying to reach a wider audience with his music, and wanting to land a record deal or even a gig. The first couch he lands on he ends up losing the owner's cat and that becomes the main narrative thread of the film, such as it is, but the film is really about an artist so committed and uncompromising in his vision that he ends up unable to find success or an audience. Ironically, this is a trap the idiosyncratic Coen Brothers have manage to avoid, finding success in their modestly budgeted films, which has given them a level of autonomy that's allowed them to achieve their vision. There was criticism of "Inside Llewyn Davis" by actual folk singers of this era that it wasn't an accurate depiction and that it was NOT a happy tight knit community and was more made up of competition and backbiting. Still, it's a gorgeous representation of a time and place, even if it's a bit of a fairy tale. This is the crisp wintery New York City I remember seeing in actual NYC films during this actual period, like "A Thousand Clowns" or "The Pawnbroker." The film is gorgeously photographed by Bruno Delbonnel, known for working with the likes of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Tim Burton, and with Peter Bogdanovich on his Jazz Age tale, "The Cat's Meow" (the Coens' regular cinematographer, Roger Deakins, was unavailable shooting "Skyfall"). The production design detail is dynamite! Watching the film I just wanting step onto the screen and be a part of this 1960s NYC, even if it's a fairy tale version that never existed (sort of how I also want to step onto California shore of a Beach Party movie). "Inside Llewyn Davis" is fascinating in how it holds the viewer's attention despite the lack of a strong narrative. This is in large part thanks to the talents of Oscar Isaac as Davis, making this flawed and at times unlikable character compelling to watch for for nearly two hours, as well as the Coen's deft touch for creating a stylized atmosphere, colorful characters, and filling the film with memorable songs and soundscapes (another element they are often not given enough credit for), in what is probably their best use of music since "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake also appear in the film as successful folk singers Jim & Jean, as does Adam Driver in a funny bit part, and Coen Brothers regular John Goodman makes a memorable appearance as an obnoxious jazz musician. Overall, "Inside Llewyn Davis" has more heart than most Coen Brothers' films and I would argue stands amongst their finest. FUN FACT! The singing voice of Mike, Llewyn's deceased music partner, is Marcus Mumford from the band Mumford & Sons, and actress Carey Mulligan's husband.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
More ponytailed and mullet headed martial arts villains than you can shake a stick at!
11 August 2019
80s ponytailed and mullet headed villains abound in this ridiculous marital arts direct-to-video dreck. Cynthia Rockrock returns as the high kicking LAPD detective, but her original partner from the first film, Chad McQueen, has been replaced by Jeff Wincott. The two then go undercover to take down smarmy nightclub owner Billy Drago (FYI - it's a night club with a lot of people who know marital arts). It's a dumb story and a sequel to a film that really didn't need a sequel. It's also puzzling why this film had the subtitle "Undercover" since Rothrock and her partner also went undercover in the first film. The only reason to watch this film is for the fight sequences, which are not all that good an come off more like watching a martial arts demonstration (i.e. this is how to fight off a knife attack, this is what you do when you're attacked from behind, this is what you do...). The fights are completely unimaginative and done without any sense of style or flair. At least with a dumb, Steven Segal movie you get some good bone crunching action, though Rothrock does deliver one kick that busts a knee in the wrong direction that's pretty brutal. Still, that's not enough reason to watch this one and you're still better off watching Rothrock's Hong Kong martial arts film appearances like "Yes, Madam!" and "Righting Wrongs." Oh, and don't even bother to ask why none of the criminals ever shoot a gun, despite all of them packing heat.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
True Grit (2010)
10/10
The Coens deliver a terrific western that's surprisingly traditional
11 August 2019
The Coen Brothers continue to impress and deliver another film that highlights their versatility as filmmakers. They've made thrillers, comedies, gangster pictures, musicals, dramas, and now a western. There's been a number of interesting westerns over the past 20 years, but they're all typically revisionist westerns, where the genre has been subverted (i.e. "The Revenant" "The Proposition" "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" "Bond Tomohawk" "Django Unchained" "The Hateful Eight" etc.) and have not embraced the more durable tropes and archetypes of the genre. "Appaloosa" and "Open Range" are the only westerns of the last 20 years I can recall that were of the classic mold and were any quality (all western fans should go out and watch these films immediately if you haven't). The original "True Grit" is a classic in the sense that it was a popular film with a memorable performance by John Wayne as the colorful one-eyed lawman Rooster Cogburn, but it's a far cry from being a masterpiece along the lines of the best westerns by Ford, Hawks, or Peckinpah. This was smart on the part of the Coens to take a well known story and character and put their own spin on it. It's harder to remake a masterpiece than it is to remake something mediocre (i.e. remaking "The Fly" versus remaking "Poltergeist"). As quirky of filmmakers as the Coens are, they have crafted a surprisingly straightforward western, though filled with rich characterizations and a balance of elegance and grittiness. In this retelling Jeff Bridges takes on the iconic role of Rooster Cogburn and Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie Ross, a young girl who enlists the help of the gruff marshall to find her father's murderer. The Coens are often credited with their visual panache, but they don't get enough respect for their writing. Take this exchange early in the film when Maddie is looking for a marshall to help bring in the man who killer her father:

MATTIE: Who's the best marshal?

SHERIFF: Hmm, I'd have to think on that. Bill Waters is the best tracker. He's part Comanche; it is a pure joy to watch him cut for sign. The meanest is Rooster Cogburn; a pitiless man, double tough. Fear don't enter into his thinking. I'd have to say the fairest is L.T. Quinn; he always brings in his prisoners alive. Now, he might let one slip by evrey now and then, but...

MATTIE Ross: Where would I find this Rooster?

That exchange perfectly sets up up both Maddie's intentions of what she wants the end result of her manhunt to be and it also informs the audience about the character of Cogburn, even before the audience has met him. As with the original film, the story is mainly a character piece focused on the dynamic between the determined and quite proper Maddie and the gruff jaded Cogburn. Bridges chews the scenery as Cogburn in a way that he hasn't in a film for years. And in the Coen's introduction of the character, Bridges makes the most of their dialogue in a courtroom scene where he describes his bringing a group criminals to justice under cross examination:

COGBURN: I had my glass and we spotted the two boys and their old daddy, Aaron Wharton, down there on the creek bank with some hogs. They'd killed a shoat and was butchering it. They'd built a fire under a wash pot for scalding water.

MR. BARLOW: What did you do?

COGBURN: Crept down. I announced that we was U.S. marshals and hollered to Aaron that we needed to talk to his boys. He picked up a axe and commenced to cussing us and blackguarding this court.

MR. BARLOW: What did you do then?

COGBURN: Backed away trying to talk some sense into him. But C.C. edges over by the wash pot behind that steam and picks up a shotgun. Potter seen him but it was too late. C.C. Wharton pulled down on Potter with one barrel and then turned to do the same for me with the other. I shot him and when the old man swung the axe I shot him. Odus lit out and I shot him. Aaron Wharton and C.C. Wharton was dead when they hit the ground but Odus was just winged.

The Coen's tapped into folksy dialogue in a number of films, but in "True Grit," wether this is authentic language or not, this old west dialogue sounds great and is some of the best I've heard since "Will Penny" or Peckinpah. This dialogue also tells us that Cogburn may be a fat old man, but he's also a force to be reckoned with who's quick to violence. Maddie and Cogburn make quite an odd couple on the trail and are also joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, pronounced Le Beef, played to the hilt by by an erudite Matt Damon, who is a perfect foil to the gruff Cogburn. LaBoeuf's know-it-all attitude is also hilariously challenged by the self confident young Maddie. Cogburn's take on the trio is:

COGBURN: "I'm a foolish old man who's been drawn into a wild goose chase by a harpie in trousers and a nincompoop."

The Coen's follow the original film's story for the most part, but they bring a richness to the characters and a gritty elegance to their representation of the old west that was missing from the Wayne version. In a time when the traditional western story has become passé, the Coens have managed to make it relevant and accessible again for modern audiences.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
X-Ray (1981)
6/10
Passable low rent who-done-it slasher film set in a hospital
11 August 2019
Early entry into the 80s slasher film craze is surprisingly decent and is one of the few times Golan-Globus Productions ("Invasion U.S.A," "Breakin'," "Revenge of the Ninja," etc.) made a slasher picture. The opening prologue has an unpopular boy named Harold leaving a Valentine's Day card on the doorstep for pretty girl Susan. Susan and her friend find the card, laugh about it, and crumple up the Valentine. Unbeknownst to them, Harold has been watching the whole time. While Susan is getting some cake from the kitchen, she returns to her friend murdered while the creepy Harold stares at her through the window before running off. That's all the set-up you need for this slasher film, which the adult Susan, played by former playmate Barbi Benton, visits the hospital one day for some test results where she is stalked by an adult Harold who is still in love with her. From there, the bodycount continues to grow and just about every male in the hospital might be Harold (it seems like this hospital almost exclusively hired by creepy dudes). Directed and co-written by schlockmeister Boaz Davidson, who's made charming garbage since the 70s like "The Last American Virgin" all the way until today with lame films like "Mega Snake" and "Leatherface" (though he's also produced some classier films like "The Expendables," Rambo 4," and the underrated "Drive Angry"). The plot, characters, and story are pretty non-existent, but Davidson does deliver a good number of suspenseful and creepy hospital themed horrors, particularly an uncomfortable exam of Benton by a creepy doctor that seems to last forever. The film's bloody finale is also quite memorable. There are some slow parts in the second act of the film that drag, but it's not a bad film if you're in the mood for a throwback style slasher that you may have missed. FUN FACT! The film was photographed by Nicholas Josef von Sternberg, son of famed director Josef von Sternberg ("The Blue Angel" "Morocco" "Shanghai Express").
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Hedy Lamarr's final film is sadly a tawdry melodrama
2 August 2019
In her final film appearance, Hedy Lamarr plays an aging movie star (she was only 42 at the time of filming) who is nearly killed by a freak accident on set, but is saved by handsome extra, George Nader, who is oddly named, for modern audiences, Chris Farley. Lamarr falls in love with Nader, but so does her adopted daughter, Jane Powell, who hides the fact from Nader that she's Lamarr's daughter. Maybe there was something in this tawdry material that Douglas Sirk could have salvaged, adding a subtext about class and conformity as he did with "All That Heaven Allows," but director director Harry Keller is no Sirk and the film ends up being a waste of Lamarr's talents and a sad coda for her film career. There's a rather poignant moment near the end of the film when a nurse tells Lamarr's character she always felt she was a better actress than the movies she was given, which is sadly true for Lamarr's own film career. FUN FACT! The Female Animal was the "A" picture that was distributed as a double-bill with the "B" picture being Orson Welles's "Touch of Evil."
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Martial Law (1990 Video)
4/10
Cynthia Rothrock makes direct-to-video dreck watchable
2 August 2019
Weak direct-to-video martial arts action film is a dumb story about a couple of undercover cops, Chad McQueen and Cynthia Rothrock, taking on evil smuggler and martial arts expert, David Carradine. With the exception of Rothrock, who first made her mark on the martial arts world as a world champion and later as an actress in some now classic Hong Kong martial arts action flicks, working with the likes of Michelle Yeoh and Corey Yuen, becoming one of the few western performers to find stardom in the Asian film market. Rothrock is far and away the best martial artist on screen here and is far more interesting to see fight than McQueen or Carradine, although Carradine is the best actor of the bunch, chewing up the scenery and nearly stealing all of his scenes. There's also a fair amount of familiar Asian character actors, such as Professor Toru Tanaka, which does add to the fun, but generally speaking this is a pretty weak martial arts action flick and a rather inauspicious debut for Rothrock into the American film market. You're better off sticking with her Hong Kong films like "Yes, Madam!" or "Righting Wrongs."
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Top tier cast and crew deliver a lazy spy film
2 August 2019
John Huston ("The African Queen" "The Maltese Falcon" "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre") directs this spy thriller scripted by Walter Hill ("The Driver" "48 Hrs." "Undisputed") which stars a top tier cast that includes Paul Newman, Dominique Sanda, James Mason, and a host of British actors who you're sure to recognize. There's also photography by Oscar winning cinematographer Oswald Morris and music by multiple Oscar winning composer Maurice Jarre. Sadly, what ends up on screen is dullsville. Newman plays a British secret agent who pretends to be an Australian criminal who later pretends to be Canadian, in order to infiltrate a secret spy organization run by villainous James Mason. The dullness of the film may be explained by some behind-the-scenes politics. Walter Hill was in the process of suing Warner Bros. but came to an agreement to adapt this book, which he halfheartedly did in order to complete his obligation. Hill later stated he only wrote the first half of the film and the rest was re-written by Huston and others, with the script not even completed two weeks into shooting. Cinematographer Oswald Morris also reported that Huston was rather disinterested in the film, showing up late to set and that Morris and crew were the ones who had to set up the shots for the day and catch up the unprepared Huston when he did finally show up. Newman was also reportedly disappointed at Huston's lack of enthusiasm for the project. Given all that, it's understandable that this spy thriller is rather lifeless. Still, Mason and Newman are compulsively watchable and even a disinterested Huston is still a better than most, so although lackluster, "The MacKintosh Man" is still watchable. Also, I think this is probably the first and only time you'll ever see Paul Newman coldcock a dog and drown it.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Alan Ladd goes all Death Wish on some juvenile delinquents
1 August 2019
Alan Ladd plays an aerospace engineer who is assaulted by a group of juvenile delinquents. Ladd ignores police detective Rod Steiger's advice to cool his jets and let the police investigate. Ladd instead buys a gun and hunts down the young punks. Based on a novel by Leigh Brackett, screenwriter of "The Big Sleep," "Rio Bravo," "The Long Goodbye," and "The Empire Strikes Back," the story is essentially a lighter version of Brian Garfield's "Death Wish." The punks are not as vicious and the vigilante is not as violent. Still, it's a solid thriller that does have an edge to it and Ladd is compelling in what would be his final leading man role. FUN FACT! At one point John Wayne was announced as a possible choice for the lead in this film after producer Charles Schnee had bought the film rights to the 1957 novel.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Aftershock (1990)
2/10
Character actors abound in this boring tale of a blond alien visiting earth during WWIII
1 August 2019
Pretty awful post-apocalyptic story of a beautiful blond alien visiting earth during World War III. She encounters a variety of good and bad humans, most of which are played by character actors including John Saxon ("Enter the Dragon" "A Nightmare on Elm Street"), Russ Tamblyn ("West Side Story" "The Haunting" "Twin Peaks"), Christopher Mitchum (son of Robert Mitchum), Richard Lynch ("The Seven-Ups" "The Sword and the Sorcerer" "God Told Me To"), and a personal favorite, the dome headed Michael Berryman ("The Hills Have Eyes" "Weird Science" "The Devil's Rejects") playing, what else, a creepy dude. Also look fast for another personal favorite, Al Leong ("Die Hard" "Big Trouble in Little China" "Lethal Weapon"), who's seen briefly as a fighter. The story is boring and never seems to go much of anywhere and there are no characters of interest, so only watch this one if you're a fan of any of the character actors involved.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Cirio H. Santiago post-apocalyptic action tale is more Conan the Barbarian than Mad Max
1 August 2019
Another Filipino post-apocalyptic epic from prolific low-budget director/producer Cirio H. Santiago. Featuring an all no-name cast, with the exception of Lynn-Holly Johnson ("Ice Castles" "For Your Eyes Only") the story takes place in the distant year 2021 following a nuclear holocaust. A group of fierce sword wielding female warriors, known as The Sisterhood, seek to right the sexist wrongs of the wasteland. Although I was a fan of Santiago's post-apocalyptic "Wheels of Fire" this one is dud. It felt more Conan than Mad Max and to my taste, that's not a warriors of the wasteland story. Even taking the film on the level of a Conan or Red Sonja ripoff, it's not all the good either.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Better than average low-budget Mad Max rip-off film
1 August 2019
Released by Roger Corman's New Concorde studios, this is a darn good rip-off of "The Road Warrior" from prolific Filipino director Cirio H. Santiago. Producer/director Santiago was known for his exploitation films, starting out in the 70s with a series of Blaxploitation films and then in the 80s focusing on low-budget Vietnam War pictures. Here Santiago takes to the desert areas of the Philippines (I never knew there was such a thing or maybe they were rock quarries) for a Max Max ripoff that tells the story of a nasty post-apocalyptic biker gang names the Highway Warriors who kidnap the sister of our hero who vows to bring her back and take the nasty gang down! It's a super cartoony of science fiction and action film, but Santiago knows his way around an action sequence and his film features more car chases than most of the Max Max knockoff, which is a major asset to the film. It also helps that the costumes and cars more closely resemble those from "The Road Warrior" than most of the low-budget knock-offs. The film also features an early score by Christoper Young ("Entrapment" "Swordfish" "Drag Me to Hell") who at this point in his career was scoring low budget exploitation films this, "Def-Con 4," "Avenging Angel" and "The Dorm That Dripped Blood" before moving onto more prestigious of film work. Despite its no-name cast, this was a pretty enjoyable warriors of the wasteland tale and is recommended for fans of this low-budget subgenera.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
The poster made me think this was Mad Max, but it was more Six Million Dollar Man
1 August 2019
Silly Italian sci-fi rip off of "The Terminator" and "The Six Million Dollar Man." Daniel Greene plays a cyborg (80% robot, 20% human) programmed to kill a scientist, but when he fails his mission he hides out in the desert with a small community of people. Some of those people are bullies and jerks who do an awful lot of arm wrestling, which is not something you should do when you challenge someone with Hands of Steel! It's a dumb story, with bad acting (except for George Eastman as one of the local toughs), and a misleading poster (I was thinking this was going to be an Italian Mad Max post-apocalyptic rip-off movie). On the plus side, John Saxon appears in the film as the sole name actor. Also, the film was directed by Sergio Martino ("Torso" "2019: After the Fall of New York"), so it's a director who knows his way around a good violent story, but overall this is a pretty weak film, even for fans of this type of nonsense.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Goofy but enjoyable low-budget Italian Mad Max knock-off
1 August 2019
In the future year 2019, the nuclear holocaust is over. What's left are bands of roaming gangs in a desert wasteland. "Warriors of the Wasteland" is one of many low-budget Italian Mad Max knockoff films and is pretty decent one from solid journeyman director in Enzo G. Castellari and the always cool Fred Williamson. The story, such as it is, involves and evil group of white robed baddies known as "The Templars" who raid peaceful wastelander villages and want to rid the earth of it's survivors, so it's up to our hero Giancarlo Prete as Scorpion and Fred Williamson as Nadir to save the world from the evil Templars. George Eastman makes a good snarling villain and there is also a nicely funky score by Claudio Simonetti of Gobin fame. It's also hard to resist the Williamson's exploding arrows, especially when he makes a head shot, or one villain's car that deploys a deadly spinning blade to decapitate his hapless victims. It's this sort of ridiculousness that I found so enjoyable and realized this film was probably one of the more direct influences on the more recent post-apocalyptic cheese fest homage that was "Turbo Kid: Chronicles of the Wasteland." Overall, "Warriors of the Wasteland" is is not a good movie by any measure in the conventional sense, but if you're a fan of these sorts of low-budget post-apocalyptic type of films, then this one is one of the better Italian entries into this disreputable subgenera.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Lucio Fulci's so-bad-it's-good take on Mad Max via The Running Man
1 August 2019
Set in the 21st century, criminals are forced to fight each other like gladiators on motorcycles for the enjoyment of TV audiences. Sound familiar? Arnold Schwarzenegger "The Running Man" wouldn't come out for three years later, but Stephen King's novella came out two years earlier, so don't give director Lucio Fulci too much credit. Part of a cycle of cheap Italian ripoff films capitalizing on the popularity of "The Road Warrior" and "Escape from New York," this one is better than most of it's contemporaries, although that's an admittedly a low bar. In the film's favor is the cast includes Fred Williamson, which is always a treat, a charmingly 80s synthesizer heavy score by Riz Ortolani, and solid direction for Fulci. As far as director Fulci goes, I've never quite decided if he's an artist along the lines of Dario Argento or Mario Bava or is merely a talented gorehound like Joe D'Amato or Bruno Mattei. I think I lean towards the latter, though Fulci's "The Beyond" is pretty great, but it's still no "Deep Red" or "Suspiria." Back to "The New Gladiators," the story is corny, most of the performance are goofy, the action is ham-fisted, but the film has an undeniable 80s grindhouse charm that I found irresistible. From Ortolani's rockin synthesizer score, to Fred Williamson kicking ass, to strobe light fight sequences, to some terrifically gory practical special effects, to awful laser special effects, to some wonderfully corny miniature future cityscape sets, there was a definite so-bad-it's good quality to this film that I loved, but Fulci's direction of the motorcycle sidecar action sequences are pretty lacking in comparison to George Miller or even a hacky Italian contemporary like Enzo G. Castellari. Overall, this is not a good film in the traditional sense, but if you're a fan of cheesy 80s low budget post-apocalyptic Mad Max knock-off films, it's essential viewing.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Sudden Death (1995)
5/10
JCVD does Die Hard at the NHL Stanley Cup finals
1 August 2019
Jean-Claude Van Damme does "Die Hard" at a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game. Interestingly, co-writer Randy Feldman said he wrote the first draft of the screenplay as a comedy/action movie parody. The only scene that remained in the finished film was the scene where Van Damme fights the penguin mascot. The now serious version of the screenplay co-written by Gene Quintano (writer of Police Academy 3, 4 & 5) is a highly derivative action film about a group of terrorists holding the Vice President and Stanley Cup fans hostage. Despite a weak script, the film does deliver some solid fight scenes from JCVD, features a good villain with Powers Boothe as the lead terrorist, and well directed action from Peter Hyams ("Capricorn One" "Outland" "Timecop"), who is also the cinematographer on most of his films and was doing it long before it was the cool thing to do, as is done by Robert Rodriguez, Doug Liman, Gaspar Noé, and Steven Soderbergh. So overall, this is a dull script that's executed by it's actors and director much better than it deserves. Worth watching for JCVD fan only.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Logan Lucky (2017)
7/10
Steven Soderbergh does a redneck Oceans 11
1 August 2019
From director Steven Soderbergh (who also photographed and edited the film under pseudonyms) comes this redneck version of "Oceans 11" which he also directed. Down on their luck brothers Channing Tatum and Adam Driver decide they're going to pull off a heist at a NASCAR event. Like all good heist films, the story revolves around putting together a team of colorful characters, the most colorful of which is a Daniel Craig as an explosives expert named Joe Bang, who the brothers have to bust out of jail to pull off their heist, and as with nearly all heist films, things do not go as according to plan. To share more would ruin the fun of the film, which has less to do with the story and everything to do with the colorful characters and the snappy dialogue. Also appearing in the film are Katie Holmes, an unrecognizable Seth MacFarlane as a hilariously obnoxious NASCAR driver, and Hilary Swank as an FBI agent investigating the heist. There's also a peppy score by David Holmes, who scored all three of Soderbergh's Ocean films. I'm always fascinated by Soderbergh who easily goes between arthouse films like "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" "Kafka" and "King of the Hill" but can also deliver wonderfully entertaining mainstream films like "Magic Mike," "Out of Sight" or "Haywire" (Soderbergh is also for some reason a producer on "Bill & Ted Face the Music"). "Logan Lucky" falls into that later mainstream category, but in all of those mainstream of films Soderbergh brings an intelligence and wit to these formula films and makes them something special, avoiding lazy cliches. Although from the 30 second preview, you may have felt you've seen this picture before, know that Soderbergh is going to give you something different and special.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
My pre-teen loved it. For adults it's made watchable by strong performances.
1 August 2019
Gilly Hopkins is a tough 12-year old who's been shuffled from foster home to foster home due to her troubled behavior. That is until she's taking in by kindly Kathy Bates. This story could easily have been a dull ABC After School Special type of story, but it's elevated by the presence of Bates as the tough but caring foster parent as well as a strong performance by Glenn Close as Gilly's grandmother. Another surprise was the a rather unsentimental and realistic portrayal of Gilly's addict mom by Julie Stiles. There's also strong performance by Octavia Spencer as a caring teacher who connects with Gilly by telling her she sees that she's an angry person just like her and helps her to make that anger constructive. Character actor Bill Cobbs also delivers a strong supporting performance as a blind neighbor. Admittedly, I don't think I was the target audience for this film, but I'll say my 10-year old daughter was completely wrapped up in the film, so although it may not be all that good of a film for adults, it's made watchable by some strong performances, and your pre-teen kids will probably enjoy it more than you.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Completely engrossing 4-hour documentary on a legendary performer from a legendary director
1 August 2019
Epic length documentary fully immerses you in the life and career of American rock and roll icons Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Directed by the talented Peter Bogdanovich, better known for classic films like "The Last Picture Show," "Saint Jack" and "They All Laughed," the documentary follows the band from high school all the way to the present. The film took over two years to complete and is a comprehensive look into the band, their music, and their artistry. The film is comprised of interviews, concert footage, home videos, behind-the-scenes footage, and music videos. Watching the film, I was amazed at how many great songs Petty and company have produced. It's staggering! And after spending four hours listening wall-to-wall music, hearing from just about everyone involved speak and perform, you really gain an appreciation for their work and the influence they've had on the music scene. Learning about the band dynamics was also fascinating. Unlike a band like The Rolling Stones or U2, where all band members are seemingly equal, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers definitely have a leader in Petty. As shown in the documentary, even when Petty branched out for solo work, Heartbreakers more often than not ended up following Petty to collaborate on those projects. Or when Petty changed his style, most of the band followed his lead. "Runnin' Down a Dream" is a journey of a film and a fascinating portrait of one of the great rock bands of all time. Interestingly, Bogdanovich was completely unfamiliar with Petty prior to making this movie. Bogdanovich said he was asked by a mutual friend of his and Petty if he was interested in directing the movie, and he always say yes, but after saying yes he said he then called his ex-wife and asked, "Remind me who Tom Petty is. Is he a folk singer?"
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Entertaining Star Wars Story, but completely forgettable
1 August 2019
There was a lot of hate directed towards this movie when it first came out, so I was in no hurry to watch it and when I did finally watch I went in with extremely low expectations. My take is that it's not as bad as the haters made out and is an entertaining movie, but it's easily the worst of the Star Wars films to date (yes, worse than "The Phantom Menace"). The story follows a young Han Solo, who was basically Oliver Twist in space as a child, and then as a young adult gets caught up with some space pirates led by Woody Harrelson. When a heist goes wrong, he finds himself having to make it up to space gangster Paul Bettany by going on an even more dangerous of heist with Harrelson and Bettany's girlfriend, Emilia Clarke, who also grew up in the streets with a young Han Solo. Sneaking, fighting, shooting, and space battle ensue. Also, an excellent Donald Glover shows up as a young Lando Calrissian and very nearly steals the movie. However, there were two major elements that made this film weak in comparison to the rest of the franchise. One, the story was a complete standalone and of no consequence to the later Star Wars stories. That's a rather minor quibble, but it made the story seem of little importance to the larger Star Wars saga, outside of being an origin story of sorts for a major character. The main weakness of the film is the lack of charisma and lackluster performance by Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo. Admittedly, there's probably no one who could live us to Harrison Ford, but couldn't they find a better actor to embody Solo's humor, braggadocio, toughness, and charm? Well, that does sound like a tall order, but couldn't they have found an actor who could at least do one of those well? I'm glad they cast an unknown actor for the part because a known actor would have been distracting, but Ehrenreich's lack of onscreen charisma is a real detriment. There's even a complete lack of chemistry between Han and Chewy, which is a major disappointment. The movie is named Solo, but pretty much every other actor runs circles around him when it comes to interesting characterizations or being the most interesting person in the room. Besides the above mentioned actors, we also have Thandie Newton in a supporting role, along with Clint Howard as Ralakili who runs a droid fighting pit, and voice work by Linda Hunt and Jon Favreau. There's also a cameo by Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) as a human character, which I missed but read about later on IMDB, and a rather pointless cameo by Darth Maul in one quick scene, which Ray Park reprised his role for. Overall, "Solo: A Star Wars Story" is a pretty big disappointment despite being co-written by Lawrence Kasdan ("The Empire Strikes Back" "Raiders of the Lost Ark" "Silverado") and directed by Ron Howard ("Apollo 13, "Willow" "Ransom" "The Missing"). "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" remains the best Star Wars film of any of the Disney pictures thus far, but generally speaking, the one viral tweet about the Solo casting sums up my feelings on this picture:

"I'm pretty sure that, given the choice, the entire Star Wars fanbase would rather just have 73 year old Harrison Ford cast as young Han Solo and pretend, through sheer stubbornness, that he looks 20"
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Love it as a kid and can still enjoy it 40 years later with my own kids
1 August 2019
I was seven years old when this film first came out and it's still as charming today as then, but I can now appreciate it on a much more adult level. The film is a road picture, telling the story of how the muppets first met after Kermit leaves his swamp to go to Hollywood on the advice of Hollywood agent Dom Deluise (the first of many cameo appearances that included Edgar Bergen, Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, James Coburn, Elliott Gould, Bob Hope, Madleine Kahn, Carol Kane, Cloris Leachman, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Telly Savalas, Orson Welles). Charles Durning plays Doc Hopper and Austin Pendelton plays his wacky assistant are the villains of the piece, who are trying to coerce Kermit to star in commercials for Hopper's French Fried Frog Legs fast food resturant chain. There's also a cameo by Paul Williams, who wrote the songs for the film, including the classic song The Rainbow Connection, but that's not to discount some equally good songs such as Movin' Right Along or Finale: The Magic Store at the end of the film. Then there is the hilariously syrupy Never Before, Never Again sung by Miss Piggy when she first lays eyes on Kermit and imagine a series of Harlequin Romance scenarios of her and Kermit. The film really does hold up as quite funny and what surprised me most was how sarcastic Kermit the Frog was at times. I think my favorite Kermit sarcastic moment was after the Electric Mayhem paint Kermit and Fozzie's Studebaker:

Dr. Teeth: Doc Hopper will never recognize you now. Fozzie: I don't know how to thank you guys. Kermit: I don't know *why* to thank you guys.

And I think that is why "The Muppet Movie" and the muppets in general have endured. They are fun for kids and also funny for adults. On a related note, if you're a muppet fan, you should do yourself a favor and watch the Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller 2011 film "The Muppets," which perfectly captured this same charm of being enjoyable for both kids and adults, which is something most of the sequels lost and instead played more to the kids.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

Recently Viewed