Monday, 2 September 2019

Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)

So it's 1983 and you wanna make a movie, what's hot? Well 'Star Wars' changed the face of cinema in 1978 and is still going strong with the third sequel in cinemas at the time. I know! Let's make a Star Wars-esque rip-off! A futuristic western with a Han Solo-esque hero, oh and just to be sure...we'll rip-off 'Mad Max 2' too. Greenlight!

K so Wolff (Peter Strauss) is a salvage operator, a bit of a rogue, and all-round good lookin' hero, you can tell by his cool name. Wolff has a debt problem and no he doesn't owe any large slugs money, ahem. Luckily he picks up an alert after a ship crashes on a hostile planet. Three sexy ladies have survived but have also been taken hostage by the locals (space pirates). On the planet Wolff finds two battling factions, the Scavs and the Zoners. The Scavs seem to be the goodies whilst the zoners, you get the idea. So the zoners have run off with the sexy ladies and taken them to their zone (hence their name) which is ruled by 'Overdog'. So it's Wolff's mission to rescue them, that's it (seriously).

One of the first things to happen in this fun-filled movie is a quite impressive battle on the hostile planet Terra XI. Wolff manages to find the three women with the Scavs and their large...train? Before much heroic schmoozing can be done the baddie Zoners attack and all hell breaks loose. Now this sequence is very much in line with the big finale in 'Mad Max 2', but instead of an oil tanker we have a train with gun turrets and...sails? This action sequence does appear to be (in retrospect) the main set piece of the flick. It does look like they blew everything on this action sequence and in all honesty it does look and feel good. You have goodies and baddies hand-to-hand fighting all over the shop. Laser battles, engine propelled gliders, motorbikes with roll cages etc...But don't worry, you know who's who because the bad guys all wear black.

Naturally the bad guys escape with the ladies so it's Wolff's job to get them back. It's at this point we discover that Wolff's female sidekick, who has been killed in the battle, is actually an android or Gynoid. This doesn't actually add anything to the plot of the movie but it does allow the opportunity for some pretty nifty special effects (for the time). I only mention it because the visual effects for this were pretty good. But never fear, we get plenty more female representation as Wolff stumbles across another attractive young lady in the form of Niki (Molly Ringwald), a tracker. She tried to steal Wolff's sweet moon buggy vehicle for reasons. When caught she begs Wolff to hire her as his tracker, or allow her on the mission. Wolff eventually allows it because...she's cute.

On the way to the forbidden zone the duo bicker and kinda fall out numerous times in very unconvincing ways. Of course they always work things out cos she's cute and he's gruff and good lookin'. Think Han and Leia, wash rinse and repeat. They also come up against some...mermaids? Some Amazonian type female warriors, and some sea creatures/monsters. All as cheesy as they sound. But again Wolff stumbles across another hero who can join in the adventure. This time it's his old, errr...salvage rival? Washington (Ernie Hudson), another good lookin' gruff space cowboy type dude. Wolff and Washington go way back and don't trust each other that much. But they put all that aside and team up cos...cliches.

Eventually the trio reach the forbidden zone which is like some bleak dystopian nightmare landscape with a huge industrial structure where all the baddies live. Kinda weird really because up until this point the landscape has been all desert with lovely weather. As you might expect all the bad guys that dwell within are clad in black attire with your typical Mad Max-esque addons like metal spikes, eye patches and whatnot. They also have a large arena with a maze loaded with deadly booby traps. They enjoy watching their captives get killed in this. As for Overdog (Michael Ironside), well he turns out to be this weird biomechanical looking human fused with various metallic industrial parts to enhance himself. Think of Pinhead but more industrial. I'm not sure if he was attached to the metal structure or just winched around by a crane, but he definitely has (robotic?) metal claws for arms.

I won't spoil the ending but I'm sure you can guess how this turns out. This movie is inherently silly and a blatant copy of many other much better bigger films. But I believe the cast knew this and were simply enjoying the ride. Ironside easily being the most outrageously over the top in a glorious display of cornball villainous acting. But despite all the cheese this movie does actually look pretty good all the way through. As said there are some great action sequences with solid stunts and pyrotechnics. There are some lovely matte paintings dotted here and there. Some terrific little bits of makeup and prosthetics. And the location work is spot on, very effective. Bereft of originality for sure, but overall it's a charming little space romp that I would recommend for all fans of sci-fi. 


Monday, 26 August 2019

The Barbarians (ITL/US, 1987)

Right so here we are with what appears to be, judging by the quite amazing poster, the He-Man movie we all wanted? I mean come on, look at that poster! Drink it in my friends. Allow your eyes to slowly guide up and down the full length of this phenomenal piece and take in its majesty. Glorious, utterly glorious.

But who the hell are these guys? Who is making up this duo of perfectly moulded glazed muscularity? Well the two leads are identical twins Peter and David Paul of the USA. These guys jumped on-board the trendy new muscularity bandwagon which was kicked off in the early 70's by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, and Sylvester Stallone. As we all know Arnie and Sly virtually created the action-man-muscles gold rush of the 80's and this led to many many many clones and knock-offs, both in terms of movies and stars. Some took off (JCVD and Dolph Lundgren), and some did not. 

The Paul brothers (actually known as 'the barbarians') somewhat took off (briefly) with a little trio of tacky movies that were your typical tongue-in-cheek comedy trash that mainly focused on their massive size. 'Think Big' in 1989, 'Double Trouble' in 1992, and 'Twin Sitters' in 1994. It doesn't really take a genius to tell what these movies are all about, the clue is in the titles. Naturally all their movies required them to get topless for the most part...because muscles. Without this there is no movie. What I find amazing is how many of these muscle-bound stars have done flicks about looking after kids.

So what happens in this low budget Italian Hyborean rip-off world? Well as youngsters the heroic duo are adopted by a gypsy-esque tribe (the Ragnicks) who are led by a Queen (Virginia Bryant) and guided by a weird-looking spiritual type called Ibar (Franco Pistoni). Then along comes the baddie warlord Kadar (Richard Lynch) and his stereotypical minions who slaughter most of the tribe because he's after some magical mcguffin that belongs to the Ragnicks Queen. Anyway the only reason for all this is simply Kadar wants to gain more power and...take over the world? Standard baddie plan really. The young duo are then dumped into slavery where they grow up into massively powerful barbarians, as you do. What follows is obviously the barbarians getting revenge on Kadar, oh and getting back the magical mcguffin and saving the now enslaved Queen. Standard hero plan really.

 Now I'm not gonna berate this movie completely, yes we all know its trash, but there are some positives here. Firstly The Paul twins do admittedly look really good in this movie. The fact you have twins who are identical in massive muscular physique is actually pretty unique, or was (everyone's a meathead these days it seems). These two really do look good dressed up in their barbarian attire. As already mentioned they do actually look very He-Man-esque with their chunky body armour and large weapons, more so than Lundgren did surprisingly. They could easily fit into any larger scale, more well-known fantasy flick with ease, visually anyway. And let me be clear, their bods do look highly impressive to boot. Not up to Arnie standard but its damn close if you ask me.  They aren't as 'cut' as Arnie, Arnie was huge but with a narrow action-figure waistline. But in terms of solid bulk and bicep size, they are a sight to behold, especially when they both stand next to each other.

I must also point out the general look of this movie, again its actually pretty good. The sets are clearly sets for sure but they still look quite good. Clearly much time and effort was spent in creating these sets and it shows. The slave arena and quarters inside of Kadar's city naturally look very Roman/gladiatorial in style but bugger me it all works, it all looks good. I laughed at the large raised platform that Kadar has his throne on which for some reason seems to be supported by slaves in a highly unstable way. Secret tombs and some forbidden land sets also look really atmospheric in a nice Sam Raimi kind of way. There is some good use of locations to add some much-needed depth to the proceedings; and the Ragnicks general appearance, attire and makeup wise, was also well done. I noticed the attire/headpiece for Franco Pistoni's character of Ibar is very familiar. Did George Lucas steal this idea I wonder?

And finally kudos on the few monsters we see here. Firstly there is a wolfman warrior guy for some reason. He doesn't last too long and obviously the effect is basic but hey it's all makeup, prosthetics, and a bodysuit. It's real and not some shitty CGI effect, and bottom line it ain't half bad either. Then there is the dragon sequence. Now again it's basic but bugger me, credit where credits due, they tried and it's a good effort. A full-scale creation that looms out of a murky swamp? Yes please. The duo defeats the beast by cutting open its belly and going inside to reclaim the mcguffin (which the dragon had consumed with some baddie henchmen). Great stuff.

But alas there is a multitude of obvious issues with this movie which can't really be listed for time purposes. But off the top of my head, why does the King and Queen of this fantasy realm roam around like gypsies? Why not actually set up shop with a proper Kingdom? Because they value entertainment for the people over security and riches? What a load of do-gooding crap! Kind renders the need of the magical mcguffin pointless too because surely Kadar can just wipe all these clowns out without magic. But wait! The magical mcguffin is basically a gem that enables power and entertainment? What?? A powerful gem passed on down from Queen to Queen that stores the skills of all who perform near it which in turn makes it even more powerful. Say what?? So why does Kadar want this again? To dance his troubles away?

Also, whilst in slavery the heroic duo are unaware of the fact each has an identical twin. The baddies want it kept that way too just to be on the safe side. Yet the Dirtmaster (Michael Berryman) decides to have the duo fight each other for a grand spectacle (cos they are the best). So at no point did it occur to him that they might recognise each other? Yes they're wearing helmets but helmets can come off mate. Baddies are dumb, but in this movie the heroic duo is dumber (although on purpose).

Anyway you get my drift here. Overall the movie is most definitely bereft of genuine quality but certainly not charm and enthusiasm from the all involved. Of course the plot is a cornball mess of overused cliches and stereotypes from the clone ridden barbarian/fantasy genre that was exhausted back in the early to mid 80's (Kadar has an evil mystical witch, played by Eva La Rue, as his second in command. Standard practice for all baddies). Of course the main leads can't act, but they know this and are clearly having a blast trying their best. Of course the movie cannot be taken seriously, but again everyone knows this and is on-board for the ride. Of course the Paul twins are soaked in oil for literally every minute of the movie. Of course George Eastman makes a cameo (standard practice for Italian rip-off flicks). And of course one of the Paul twins makes that really bizarre and annoying animalistic howl from his throat. What the feck is that about? Is that his calling card?

This movie easily fits into the 'so bad it's good' category. Not exactly a must-see flick for regular moviegoers, but for any barbarian/Hyborean/fantasy fanboys out there it's well worth a butchers. And of course for any low budget Italian rip-off fans, it's probably worth a look also. Its better than 'Deathstalker' put it that way.


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Con Air (1995)

Right, believe it or not but there was a time (the flashy 90's) when Producer Jerry Bruckheimer (and originally Don Simpson) was king of the box office action genre. Spread throughout the 90's we had to endure a string of style over substance action vehicles that were literally all about the visuals and not much else. Kicking off with 'Crimson Tide' then followed by 'Bad Boys', 'The Rock', 'Con Air', 'Armageddon', and finishing with 'Gone in Sixty Seconds' at the start of the millennium.

So let's get down to the brass tacks here, 'Con Air' is essentially a 90's version of The Fast and the Furious franchise, albeit the later movies in that franchise. In fact you could easily have a movie called 'Con Air vs Fast and Furious' and it would totally make sense. Except 'Con Air' was far more manly than that camp Vin Diesel shit. This movie was all about plosions, guns, muscles, and quips. It was pretty much a man's man movie, no girls allowed. All the blokes in the cinemas watching this were chompin' on Yorkie bars dagnabbit! Your muscles had to be a certain size to even get into the screenings for fecks sake! Yup, this movie was all about big male balls. Total man stuff, gruff sweaty man muscles, lookin' cool, soundin' cool, and not giving a feck about anything. If any of this offended you then you were shit outta luck.

But what's funny is the plot is actually kinda original and kinda cool. Unlike the repetitive superhero crap we constantly get now or the yawn-inducing farse that is the Fast and Furious franchise, 'Con Air' actually had a neat little concept. Yeah sure it was still cheesy as feck and made no sense but the basic idea was sound. A special airline for the transportation of criminals gets hijacked by the cons, simple yet effective. Who knew there was such a thing as convict air? Not me. That alone intrigued me to find out more. So yes the premise is a simple hijacking but it still gave you something a bit different.

But aside from guns, muscles, and sweat, this movie was also the perfect recipe for a stunning cast. You've got a plane full of convicts, who can we cast? I know, lets cast all the top characters actors we can muster. Sorted. Let's make no bones about it, this movies cast is highly impressive, even though at the time most were still relatively unknown. Yes tis true, believe it or not but at the time some of these top stars were small fry. Take Danny Trejo for instance, before 'Con Air' he was merely known as that guy who starred in a few Robert Rodriguez flicks as a baddie. Ving Rhames was solely known for 'Pulp Fiction'. Nick Chinlund was merely another background baddie guy. Rachel Ticotin was the chick from 'Total Recall'.  And then you had various actors who you probably recognised from various smaller things such as M.C. Gainey, Renoly Santiago, Jesse Borrego, and Steve Eastin.

Of course the movie is ludicrous, utterly flawed in many ways. But this is what has made it something of a cult. The hyperbolic performances are one thing but the plot gaffs, cliches, stereotypes, and decisions are another. For starters, at the start these guys at the bar seem to pick on Cameron Poe (Nic Cage) purely because he's with a pretty woman. They literally act like children and start bullying Poe seemingly because they are jealous. Then later on (after school?) they actually wait for Poe (in the pissing rain) in the carpark so they can beat him up? How long did they wait?? And really?

When Poe is convicted and sent to prison, the minute he walks into the cell block all the prisoners start jeering him...because prison cliches. Also Poe has a workout routine montage...because cliches. Also Poe doesn't seem to get his haircut whilst in prison, why? Yes its prison but I'm sure there are basic facilities for things like that. Not everyone walks around with hair down to their shoulders. You'd also think he'd get it cut before leaving to see his family again.

Then there are many little touches that just beg questions. Vince Larkin (John Cusack) keeps referring to the airliner with the convicts on as 'his plane'. Is it really his plane? Like does he own it or something? He is always worrying about the plane like it's his personal property. What the hell happened to Pinball (Dave Chappelle)? He gets left behind by mistake and whilst attempting to get back on he gets sucked up by the landing gear?? He's literally running by the side of the plane and we are meant to believe he somehow gets caught up in the wheels? Later on we are shown a terribly fake Pinball/Chappelle body in the bowels of the plane all in one piece, eh??

At one point more cons are transferred onto the plane during a sandstorm which allows Cyrus the Virus (John Malkovich) and co to wear masks. But what if there hadn't been a sandstorm? What would they have done then? And how come no guards recognised Cyrus or his voice?? When Larkin discovers where the convict plane is heading he races off in DEA agent Malloy's flashy sports car (bit of obvious glitzy car porn). But where did he get the keys? Then later on in the desert the cops walk into the most obvious trap set by the cons. During the following shootout against the cops, Johnny 23 (Danny Trejo) seems to only be interested in raping guard Bishop (Rachel Ticotin). Maybe escape first, rape later? Then during one of the movies numerous big finales Swamp Thing (M.C. Gainey) must land the plane on the Las Vegas strip. How does this not cause mass chaos destruction and death?? 

And I guess I have to mention the bizarre death of Cyrus. In another one of the movies big finales, Cyrus and co escape from the downed plane in a fire truck, causing yet more chaos and destruction. Eventually they obviously crash said fire truck (into a construction site) which leads to Cyrus being, somehow, decapitated by some highly dangerous rock crushing machine. The oddity of this death is how Cyrus' body manages to get into this position of being decapitated in the first place; and why exactly a dangerous machine like this is still running at night with no one around supervising.

Then, of course, there is the total curveball of Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi) being touted and paraded around the entire movie as the most dangerous bad guy ever, only to do absolutely nothing. This guy is feared by the badass criminals because he is the killer of killers, but he does zip. Kudos for the setup but what actually is the deal with Greene? What was the point? At one point he clearly states how he once wore the head of one of his victims (a little girl) as a hat through three states. Then later on we see him getting all cozy with this little girl and we are meant to fear the worst. But he doesn't kill her, he doesn't do anything, and then we see him gambling in Vegas right at the end as if he's decided to change his life. But did he? Did he change? Or was this last scene just for laughs? (it totally was).

To be clear, this movie and all involved were aware of what the goal was here. I myself am also aware of what the aim was, what this movie was doing. And by that I mean (in case you haven't already guessed) its a nonstop thrill ride that isn't supposed to be taken seriously. Now whilst you could say that overrides all my points (which it kinda does), that doesn't mean you can't point them out and maybe mention that the movie could have been much much better had these issues been addressed. Take 'The Rock' for example, that's a very similar movie which is in my view the better movie because it's a tad more grounded, at times.

But overall, yeah, sit back, relax, grab some victuals and pop, and strap yourself in for a movie that utterly screams Michael Bay but isn't. High energy, high-octane, fast food, popcorn fodder. The movie doesn't give a rats ass and neither should you, but please take my review into consideration. The not politically correct equivalent to most modern action flicks, well anything with Vin Diesel or Dwayne Johnson in basically.


Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Hellboy (2019)

Another major movie starring Milla Jovovich, another major flop. Hmmmm.

So we have yet another Hollywood reboot, correction, we have another pointless Hollywood reboot. Yep for some reason unbeknownst to themselves the powers that be thought it prudent to start all over again with this Mike Mignola universe instead of making the third movie in a del Toro trilogy. This essentially going against what the majority of the fans wanted. That's business acumen right there folks.

So let's delve into this reboot one part at a time. Firstly the controversy (on Twitter). Ed Skrein was originally cast as the character Ben Daimio, who in the original source material is Japanese-American. Ed Skrein is of course a caucasian male which enraged and triggered the 'woke' Twitterati. This led to online protests to get Skrein removed from the project. Skrein eventually decided to quit the role in order to appease said Twitterati, a big mistake (or was it?). Funnily enough the role went to one actor who I believe was actually involved in the online protests, Daniel Dae Kim (talk about low huh). Yet what was even more amusing (and hypocritical) was the fact that Kim is actually Korean, not Japanese, but he wasn't gonna let a silly thing like that ruin his chances (insert eye-roll emoticon here).

The Opening: Yeah it's bad, really cheesy, really bad. Not only does it look like a very poor attempt at the type of visuals '300' achieved, but the narration alongside it is also just terrible. It just sounds like some bloke reading the paper. It's right here that you discover the CGI is not gonna be good in this movie. Also the opening title sequence shows us a pretty poor looking Hellboy title. This then leads into a wrestling match sequence which is basically shit and again looks bad. 'Van Helsing' levels of CGI at this point.

The Main Villain: The main villain in this movie is Vivian Nimue, better known as the Lady in the Lake from the tales of King Arthur. Only here she is known as the Blood Queen (in Blade-esque fashion) and is a baddie. It is this character that is played by the great actress Milla Jovovich, yeah. Her assistant in this movie is a big humanoid rubbery looking warthog mutant character with a Mancunian accent, for some reason. He is called Gruagach. Apparently Gruagach is Changeling, a baby fairy that is left in place of a human child which has been stolen by grown-up fairies, for some reason. Thing is Hellboy saw through this and managed to get the human baby back. This angered Gruagach as he lost his chance to become a human, or something.

Hellboy: Played by David Harbour is fine and very similar (in my view) to Ron Perlman's performance. I mean in all honesty it couldn't really differ that much could it. He was always gonna talk a certain way and his dry wry humour was always gonna be that way. He was hardly gonna be like Deadpool or Spider-Man was he. But here's the thing, his makeup actually looked worse than the Perlman/del Toro version, in my view. From a distance it wasn't too bad, up close it looked poor. You could literally see the joins and marks of the rubber prosthetics.

Giants: From the rather nice wood panelled interior of the Osiris Club we follow Hellboy and its members on a giant slaying hunt which essentially looks like something from a Monty Python movie. All these guys roam the English countryside in full regalia, with Hellboy, and no one sees this. The giants eventually turn up in one of the most awful looking CGI action sequences I've seen for some time with some of the worst looking CGI blood. Hellboy kills them all and still not one person passes by and sees anything.

Characters seem to pop up outta nowhere with no real explanation. There are three witches that sewn the dismembered Nimue (as she was left from back in her King Arthur days) back together. They just turned up for that scene then disappeared. I assume they were her coven from the Dark Ages but where did they go? Where did they come from? Where had they been all this time? Another witch called Baba Yaga turns up for one scene in another dimension or something. No real explanations to this character, she's just there and has a history with Hellboy, apparently. Although this scene is easily the best looking and most creepy. Baba Yaga is a truly shocking creature, her pale skeletal body constantly contorting in a nightmarish manner as she moves around. As said the character just seems to turn up out of the blue for no real reason but it is a brilliantly nasty sequence which could easily fit into an actual horror movie.

Merlin: Yes another character churned out for a few minutes before crumbling away. Merlin appears to be Irish in this movie...K. He also offers Hellboy one fleeting chance to take the sword Excalibur to slay Nimue. It comes across as a one time offer. But Hellboy finds it later on in a secret crypt beneath St Pauls Cathedral which was odd. Pretty sure Merlin's offer was a one time deal. Anyway Merlin also reveals Hellboy is actually a distant relation of King Arthur, because of course he is.

Jaguar-Man: Yep, the character of Ben Daimio can turn into a Jaguar. A sort of wereJaguar if you will. Apparently he was attacked and badly scarred by a supernatural entity (in the form of a jaguar) and now he changes into a super-powered jaguar when angered. So basically the Hulk...if the Hulk was a jaguar, or a werewolf. This results in very cheesy looking CGI special effects and sound effects.

The Finale: So Hellboy inevitably turns bad (or it seems) and the Earth opens up setting loads of devilish minions free to cause violent havoc. Sounds cool and you'd think it would be but once again the visual effects are pretty dire. Everything looks like in-game videogame footage from an old Resident Evil game or the latest first-person monster shooter. It all looked so fake and cheesy. It's also at this point that the fake looking CGI blood and deaths go way overboard. Humans are being killed left right and centre in really corny Mortal Kombat type ways, it's too much.

In short, this movie requires you to know quite a lot about the original Hellboy comic series. Now on one hand whilst I fully understand and support why they have gone down that route (its nice to see some true respect to the original source material), it does make the movie feel like a bit of a slog for the uninitiated. I don't know very much about the Hellboy comics so I found myself asking many questions as there was little explanation. It also felt like a huge amount of material was crammed into this one movie with tonnes of characters, nods, winks, and background details. Yes that's cool, but it's also a bit overwhelming. Still, I have to admit to kinda liking this. Overall it is a bad clustered movie with awful visual effects but the combination of myths, monsters, and fantasy with an 18 rating kept me engaged.


Sunday, 14 July 2019

The Principle (1987)

Ah the old, teacher gets sent to a shitty high school in a shitty area where all the kids are unruly and is tasked with trying to turn them around, routine. How many times have we seen this idea played out? I thought I had seen them all but up pops this James Belushi vehicle. So yeah, think along the lines of 'Dangerous Minds' and to some extent 'The Substitute' and maybe 'Toy Soldiers'. The last of which also starred Louis Gosset Jr. I might add.

OK so the plot isn't quite the same as all of those movies, they each deviate but still have a common theme. In this movie whilst out drinking teacher Rick Latimer (Belushi) spots his ex at a bar with another guy. He attacks the guy and ends up damaging his car. For his punishment, the Board of Education sends him to another school in another district where there is a crime/gang problem (and lack of willing teachers). Not really sure why he wasn't fired truth be told. Or put in prison either as a matter of fact. Anyway naturally Latimer hates this decision but once at the school decides to try and clean it up...with predictable outcomes.

So as you can imagine the school is chock full of all the classic 80's stereotypes both with the students and teachers. The students are mostly made up of minorities and range from Latino gangster wannabes, punks, sluts, extras from a Vanilla Ice gig, jocks, and rednecks. Whereas the teachers are mostly white, middle-aged, wholesome looking, weedy looking, geeky looking, and completely out of their depths (although they seemingly know how to handle the kids to a degree). Gosset plays Phillips the school head security guard. An aging man who once had a shot at going somewhere in sports but got an unlucky injury. You get the impression that Phillips being black means he would be able to see eye to eye with some of the students. Talk to them on their own level, gain a bit of their respect or trust. One reason why he has survived in the job for so long. But this trope doesn't actually come up.

You could also look into the old 'white saviour' motif in this movie, if you see it that way. You could say that Belushi plays the stereotypical white character that comes along to a poor area made up of minorities and saves them all. I mean you could look at it that way. But on the other hand, if the main character was also a minority then you wouldn't get that clash of cultures which is obviously the main crux (the only movie I know that has reversed that idea being 'One Eight Seven'). You also have to acknowledge that in reality the truth hurts, and that truth is there are many schools like this and mostly they tend to be made up of minority students. The school doesn't even have to be in a poor area to have the same issues really. The old class/poverty argument can be more of an excuse in my personal opinion. Being poor doesn't mean you have to join a gang or act like an arse in school.

Obviously things are deliberately to the max in this movie. The school (a very typical huge American high school) itself is really dated looking and in a bad state. Literally everywhere is covered in graffiti. The entire place needs a paint job. Everything looks rusty or dirty. All the equipment is dated. The place looks like a literal health hazard truth be told. I can't believe there would be any schools that actually looked like this in reality, at least these days.

As for the story and characters, well its exactly as you'd expect. You can virtually predict every scene, you know exactly what's gonna happen its that cliche. Latimer is a tough guy but manages to get through to a few of the kids. He visits one female student to try and bring her around, eventually succeeding of course. He gets into some scraps, some situations. Phillips acts more like the wise sidekick on occasion although he isn't of that much help generally. And in the end, in a long sequence that is typically over the top, Latimer must face-off against the main gang that rules the school. Although considering what has happened in schools over the years with shootings, maybe this isn't over the top anymore (it would have been when I was at school).

The real problem with this movie is the casting of Belushi. This supposed to be a crime thriller but Belushi is badly miscast. Around the time this movie was made Belushi was mainly a funny guy actor, comedies or action comedies. This type of serious social commentary, mixed with some thrills, isn't really right for a young Belushi. Every scene which is clearly supposed to serious, and at times emotional, it just gets lost on Belushi. He isn't even that good with the small bits of action either as he looks terribly unfit and sweaty. Nowhere near as cool as he clearly thinks he is. Not that this movie would have been anything special with anyone else, its a cliche fest, but Belushi was just a bad choice in my eyes. The criminal students are actually the highlight here, much better performances from the 'bad guys'.

Visually this looks quite good. I liked the sprawling ramshackle all-American 80's high school, and I liked some of the shots with the lighting effects. But apart from that its all very meh. Watching a chubby Belushi thinking he's ice cool as he rides around on his dated looking motorbike was cringeworthy to say the least.


Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Pink Cadillac (1989)

In the long long long filmography of the mighty Clint Eastwood, this has to be one of the most unusual. Unusual in the fact that whilst watching it you're wondering just why the hell he agreed to star in it (other than lots of money obviously). In short, this movie is absolute hot garbage, red hot trash, and I'm not being funny. It's just odd because this is Clint we're talking about and this movie really is that bad.

So basically, Lou Ann (Bernadette Peters) is white trash living in a trailer park (yep the stereotypes come thick n fast here). Her other half Roy (Timothy Carhart) is a member of a white supremacist group (perfect political commentary for this modern age as everyone loves white supremacists these days). The group has a large sum of counterfeit money (turns out to be real but that matters not one jot in the grand scheme of things) which Roy is supposed to look after. Alas he gets busted and Lou Ann takes the fall. 

Feeling somewhat fed up Lou Ann does a runner in Roy's pink Cadillac (ah ha!) which is exactly where he stores the loot (see where this is going yet?). So Roy and his nasty white male friends go after her. At the same time Tommy Nowak (Eastwood) is hired to track down Lou Ann and bring her back to Sacramento (I think it was) cos she skipped bail. Naturally Tommy finds her but falls in love and ends up helping her yadda yadda yadda. Oh and there's also a baby involved which probably would have been killed by the end of this story considering all the danger.

OK so firstly Clint is clearly too old in this movie. He was too old way before this but its really showing here. Yeah he looks sort of OK but he can barely move with any speed and its painfully obvious in all action sequences which don't involve simply standing still and punching someone. There are far too many obvious stunt double moments and one sequence where Tommy runs after this other guy in downtown Reno (unfortunately an aged fat bloke) is hilariously awful looking. Both guys are clearly running at a snails pace and clearly having trouble at that! It really does look very very bad.

The very first time we see Tommy bust some criminal he's been hired to track is also really stupid. Tommy is supposedly a master of disguise (oh yes) and he goes to this huge amount of trouble to set this criminal up. But in a wholly idiotic move he reveals himself to the criminal before he gets the guy fully in his car. This of course leads to a fight which totally could have been avoided. Now let's focus on Tommy and his disguises, and by that I mean Clint and his God awful acting. Yep Clint can do the steely-eyed, somewhat muted tough guy, but sure as hell can't do comedy. The scene where he's pretending to be some kind of brash casino contest host is pure cringe, 100% face behind your hands cringe. Later on he then pretends to be a slack-jawed yokel type, oh Jesus!

But wait, that's not all. The movie is titled 'Pink Cadillac' after the car they use for most of the runtime. This is completely pointless though because they could have used any car, it really didn't make a blind bit of difference. I guess it just sounded kinda cool. Much of the movie is set in Reno which I have been to and here lies another problem. Reno is a small city, the main casino strip is actually very small, just two or three rather short streets that don't actually have that many casinos (as of 2019). So it's pretty clear they must have driven around in circles to make the car chases and in-car shots look good.

And then we have the bad guys, oh boy. Now these guys are your stereotypical gun wielding, redneck, yeehaw yokels that seemingly do nothing all day but get drunk and fire guns in their homemade firing range. They all dress as you'd expect in military fatigues or jeans with big belt buckles, and they all have guns, knives, and big 4x4 trucks. Their homemade base is just like some Scout camping activity centre complete with a fake town to run around in and shoot guns. And their leader Alex (Michael Des Barres) is a short scrawny little guy with a greasy ponytail. The bad guys literally look like a bunch of dads at Scout camp trying to look cool.

Yeah so this movie will probably pan out exactly as you might expect...except for one thing, we don't actually know what happens to most of the characters at the end. Yes believe it or not but this movie isn't that violent. In fact you hardly see any bad guys getting killed at all. I would have bet my bottom Dollar on some of the arsehole baddies getting killed off but nope. But referring back to my original point, we don't actually find out what happens to most of the bad guys. Do they simply stop being supremacists? Or do they even live? Dunno. Same goes for Lou Ann's other half Roy who is a main character. No clue what happens to him. The movie just ends after a car chase just as you were expecting the boss to get killed, did he? You just hear the sound effects of a car crashing (low budget? Lack of time?).

So yeah, a cheap looking pile of poo basically. The final showdown really highlights how poor this movie is. It's like a TV show.  The only plus point that I can think of was the nice locations and backdrops. It feels like an ill-conceived comedy spin-off from the Dirty Harry franchise. A huge misfire trying to ride the coattails of another Clint hit.