Monday, 27 May 2013

Iron Man 3 (2013)

























Is it me or does the entire premise of this film rip off 'Batman Forever'? Think back to that 1995 Schumacher film when Edward Nygma approaches 'Bruce Wayne' asking him to check out his new invention, but Wayne denies him. Nygma then goes off filled with hatred for Wayne, reinvents himself as The Riddler and becomes his arch nemesis.

Now look at the start of this film. Killian approaches Stark about his new company, Stark denies him, so off he goes filled with vengeance, recreates himself as a nemesis to Stark and the Iron Man hero, using his company alongside a new experiment. Notice any similarities here?

I'm no Iron Man fanboy, I don't know all about the Iron Man lore, but that still doesn't detract from the fact they really fudged up The Mandarin. The whole setup for this guy is really well done, it really is. We see lots of news footage, stock footage and hand held camera footage of the character as it buzzes around various TV stations. Its all been created in the same vain as reality, obviously in recent years with Osama Bin Laden and various other terrorist propaganda, what you would (and still do) see every night on the news. Footage of him with his extremists, firing guns, preaching, making statements etc...



The Mandarin is envisioned just like this and it all looks very realistic, threatening and intimidating, Black and his team really do make this villain look good, like he's really gonna be a hard underground nut to crack for Stark. But then out of nowhere the whole setup is thrown out the window because the character is fake, a front, a big setup created by Killian to cover himself and his experiments. Neat twist? yes, very much so...good idea? no definitely not, not for a franchise like this. A franchise where a villain like The Mandarin is very popular and people wanna see The Mandarin, not a puppet creation.

A film like this hinges on its villain, usually the villain makes the film. In this case they made a great looking villain with Kingsley (despite his rather odd drawl) but they threw it away. Plus you also gotta ask yourself who would actually agree to act or play a villain to cover someone else? surely common sense would dictate that you're only gonna cause a lot of trouble for yourself? even if you didn't actually do any of the things you claim, you're still gonna be in the shit for being involved with terrorism. Just doesn't make any real sense to me.

Must admit I liked Kingsley's little performance in the reveal sequence, a kind of typical drunk, drugged up British hippie, but it just made a mockery of the whole film. Makes you feel you're watching a spoof not a serious adaptation.

Nice little touches of humour throughout as we have come to expect from this franchise and Downey Jr. The small team up with the little kid isn't as cheesy as it sounds and offers some nice dialog, although one sequence seems to be pretty similar to a certain John Candy/Macaulay Culkin film from many moons ago.



























The sparsely seen Iron Patriot desperately needed more action time.

On the whole the film is really quite average in my opinion. I didn't think that much of the whole Extremis idea and the way characters looked when they went all ballistic. The visuals and ideas kinda looked like something from a hammy sci-fi flick to me, it all felt a bit X-Men-ish, a franchise I never liked. I still don't really get how this regenerative power causes people to have such extreme heat power, its suppose to help them heal no? so why the heat? Plus I really don't see how Stark manages to kill most of them when they can regenerate so easily, when Savin is killed, why couldn't he regenerate from it? The Extremis soldiers seemed so much more powerful, they could easily take down Iron Man suits as shown by Pepper Potts.

The finale is on impressive scale but messy really. Lots of Iron Man suits flying all over the place, difficult to make out what exactly is going on, Extremis henchmen/women leaping all over the shop. It all sounds cool and the idea is cool but like some other superhero comicbook flicks it becomes a fast blur of CGI, an incoherent badly lit chaotic brawl between metal suits and CGI people. Plus I gotta ask, why didn't Stark just utilize all his Iron Man suits together originally? before Jarvis went offline, and why does Stark keep running around without his suit?! just stay in it you fool!

















I must say I'm disappointed with this trilogy bookend. The first film was superb, the second (in my opinion) was clearly not as good as the first but still a solid action film. This third entry has lost me completely with bad plot decisions and untidy action sequences (something which the made the first so good, it was very clear without excess CGI mess).

So the question is...was this all just narration, a therapy session for Stark to get some previous history of his chest with Banner or is that it? no more Iron Man films and no Iron Man for 'Avengers 2'?

5/10

Iron Man 2 (2010)




















Don't listen to current reviews of this being boring in the middle and not as fun as the first. True its slower than the first and hasn't got as much action yes but that's not a bad thing, these films don't have to be moronic overblown CGI messes and this isn't...surprisingly.

Secondly and even more surprisingly is the fact that this comicbook franchise is clearly the best yet, far superior to the X-Men nonsense and much better looking. Thirdly is how much of a great director Jon Favreau is!!! this guy is a pretty average comedic actor and just lingered about in Hollywood until BLAMMO!! he makes the best comicbook superhero adaptation there is!! take that Spidershite.

This is a solid film with brilliant CGI and a very likeable main hero in Downey Jr. I can't fault it really, the lack of action wasn't a problem for me in the slightest plus the slow paced intro and use of Rourke really works well making him a much better character instead of the fast n easy cheese fest he could well of been (not sure why you'd make whips for weapons though, seems a bit ineffective no?). All the metal suits just look fantastic, never have I seen such coolness since Star Wars armour based suits. The characters all blend well and don't jostle for screen time plus they are all quite believable as is the entire film really, its well created and nicely grounded...to a degree.



There are good performances from a few people here too, of course Downey Jr. is amusing and a well rounded guy, Rockwell is actually pretty likeable too as the baddie industrialist. Rourke, as said, is great as the low key Whiplash and Don Cheadle is calm and collected instead of a possible over the top military type. Only let downs for me were Paltrow of whom I can't stand, terrible actress, and Scarlett Johansson who didn't quite pull off her hardass character for me (I can't get 'Lost in Translation' out of my mind). Finally the use of Jackson as Nick Fury which I never understood seeing as he's black and in my opinion HIGHLY overrated.

Lastly I thought the ending of Whiplash was over too quick and a little cheap, he is too good a character to just finish off that easy. I also liked that they used a character who (like Stark) is just a regular guy in a suit, not some supernatural powered all CGI character. Giving him the bird was also a nice touch to emphasise the fact he was just a normal guy, he actually had feelings and maybe not as bad as we think...despite the fact he does go supernova with the villainy at the end.

But what about War Machine huh...now that was some badassery right there. I loved that suit with the guns on his shoulders and the matte grey/black/gunmetal colour palette. Really wanted to see more of that character as he looks like the cool ass evil darker doppelganger of Iron Man. The finale where the pair face off against lots of robotic drones is pretty damn fantastic looking, one of the best sequences in all the Marvel films so far and really boosts this film.





Don't be put off by the lack of action, its a solid film and shows how you can make a sensible comicbook film. Watch out for little tit bits of 'The Avengers', that film should be awesome if they can get it right. Stay till the end of the credits for a big hint at the next upcoming superhero member of the future Avengers team. Although I don't like that particular character myself.

'Fury I don't wanna join your superhero boyband'  

7/10


Iron Man (2008)





















I admit, I was expecting this to be dreadful but I was wrong, its amazingly very good. The usual obvious origins story line of course with everything you tend to expect when a super heroic legend begins. The first thing that hit me was the suit, its sex on a stick for sure! it looks so so damn cool. The way it attaches itself to Downey and locks in place, the HUD display in the helmet, the weapons on the arm sections, its fantastic, finally there's a competitor to the Stormtrooper armour.

This is what I wanna see for the next Robocop, but with a more violent tone of course. This movie shows what can be done if done right, how 'Transformers' could have looked, its very impressive indeed. Not only are the actual Iron Man suits extremely well made for real in certain sequences, but the CGI is top notch in other outlandish sequences.



I'm no fan of CGI I won't deny but even this shocked me, I fully expected this film to look bad obvious plastic and fake, but bugger me if the CGI wasn't fudging amazing! Best damn CGI I've seen in ages, I loved the new shiny looking suit effects but I loved the battered scratched used CGI effects even more. It could of been so easy to keep everything looking nice sparkly and new, but like Star Wars the used universe works wonders and a beaten up Iron Man suit looks brilliant.

The first action scene where Stark gets back at the terrorists that captured him is excellent, really action packed and gets you right into the action and wanting more. You really get behind Stark as he powers the terrorists through walls and takes them out with tiny missiles, superb intro for the suit with an awesome and highly grounded action sequence (wouldn't blame you for thinking any action was gonna be hokey).

The finale battle with bridges character is a little silly and kinda loses that realistic feel, really goes into the comicbook realms and almost looks a bit like 'Transformers' at times *shudders!*. Its still handled well and of course looks excellent, much better than Bay's robot film as you can actually make out what's going on. Plus its not too over the top, it just about remains reasonably sensible...well as sensible as a comicbook action flick goes anyway.

The cast is also spot on for once, Downey is great as Stark, his humour is dry witty sarcastic and does raise a giggle for the older audience members. Bridges does look powerful and evil as the bald villain, he has that deep thick voice which serves him well, didn't see quite enough of him being evil here. Paltrow was also OK, a little annoying with her screams all the time but I guess that's what heroines do in these type of films.

There were a few bits I didn't get on with too well, when he's captured by the terrorists he makes his initial suit very quickly, a little too quickly maybe. At the end he refers to himself as Iron Man but this is never mentioned throughout, it just pops up at the end which is weird. Why does he tell the world he is Iron Man at the end? did he make up the name there and then? and why does he show the injury on his chest with a circular glow? surely that's just asking for trouble. Maybe these are things you know if your a fanboy. I would like to ask for no more bloody Stan Lee cameos, Jesus!...yes you made up the characters, we get it, get of your high horse already.

Anyway, yes this was a great fun film for everyone to enjoy. Still very surprised it turned out so well and with such good looking CGI! Would have laid money on this being a childish poor looking mess. For once I am looking forward to a sequel.

8/10











Sunday, 26 May 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

















Yippie ki...oh wait. McClane is back! again, this time its old man McClane as he's off to Moscow to help his son. Yep it seems the Die Hard franchise has gone the way of the Police Academy franchise, both in sequels, almost, both have finally ended up in Moscow, oh and both were crap.

Right from the start this doesn't feel like a Die Hard film. McClane turns up in Russia much to the disgust of his son and straight away they are bickering at each other, its all very annoying. What surprised me more was the fact the film centres on Jack (McClane Jr.) and makes John seem like a spanner in the works. They make Willis seem like an extra or sidekick, like he's getting in the way. On top of that the constant moaning by his son with that pouting face of his really pissed me off.

The next major major issue here is the entire idea itself. The film has no real plot, its very weak, in the realms of who cares. The whole film is completely driven by set pieces, one huge action sequence after another that get more and more absurd as the film goes on. Right at the start there is a an admittedly impressive and frantic looking car chase sequence, it starts off pretty sensible and grounded but the longer it goes on the more insane it gets. There are cars, vans, trucks flying everywhere, titantic crashes happening every second which will presumably be killing many many innocent people, glass and debris exploding everywhere...yet all the while our heroes cruise along in invincible mode.

This is pretty much what the film is about, its like watching an in-game videogame sequence. In fact its like watching someone play the campaign mode in Modern Warfare, the film is on rails moving from one gigantic action sequence to the next, you know the main characters will never die despite what they're going through is so ludicrous and unsurvivable its becomes funny.

The other issue I had was the lack of decent villains and the fact there appeared to be exactly four main villains!, yes four. Of course as you can imagine there is some double crossing/plot twists involved which is why we have four villains but essentially none of them are in the least bit memorable. End of the day they are just Russians, boring sounding, gruff faceless bad guys that you can't enjoy watching. Mind you I didn't give a hoot about McClane's son either, whining little shit.

Some of the moments in this film are really so pathetic. When both of our heroes are caught and facing execution from one of the bad guys, this guy does the Bond thing. Instead of just killing the heroes he just talks and talks...even to the point where the writers make him do a little tap dancing to pass the time!. I mean seriously what the fudge??!! just shut up and shoot them! oh my god so lame. Of course both of the heroes escape, McClane Jr. cuts his plastic ties with a blade (would take a long time wouldn't it?), but I'm still unsure how the hell Willis is suppose to have become magically untied.

They even have the audacity to copy some moments from the original classic. Remember when McClane catches Hans Gruber and he does his little switch into an innocent civvy? well that happens again here with...errr one of the bad guys. We also get another similar Hans Gruber moment when he was dropped off the top of the Nakatomi Plaza building. Plus there seems to be a fixation in this franchise for main bad guys getting killed in helicopters.

So yep McClane is on vacation, as he points out a hundred times, yet I thought he went to Russia to help his son, so when did it become a vacation? who cares. Visually this film is faultless, its glossy and slick as fuck, you probably won't see any better vehicle stunts and action for quite some time. So yes its entertaining in that mindless popcorn sense but that's it.

Its no proper Die Hard flick in my eyes, just a run of the mill factory line action film drone with such unbelievable unrealistic sequences the main characters should have died at least five times over. Good to look at sure but even if this was an independent action film I would still say the same thing. A good day to end this franchise methinks...zing!

'I'm on vacation!'

4.5/10

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)





















Colour ho!! yes my friends we enter the realms of colourful fantasy now, Harryhausen's work in a new light so to speak. The first Sinbad adventure curiously based on his 7th voyage and not starting at his first, but this film bares little resemblance to the original tale.

First strange thing you notice is the fact Sinbad is played by a white male (Kerwin Matthews), a white male without the slightest hint of trying to look even remotely Middle Eastern hehe. Anyway the story is quite a jumble really with many plot holes its funny. Sinbad and his crew rescue a magician from a remote island just before he becomes cyclops fodder, the thing is that's where the magician lives so doesn't he know how to deal with cyclops?

The plot unfolds around the naughty magician wanting to go back to this island so he can pinch the cyclops treasure...but if he lives on this island why bring this up now? he could have done this anytime no? The really amusing thing is the magician is denied access to a ship and crew to go back, so he casts a spell on Sinbad's princess and shrinks her. Sinbad then comes to the magician for help only to discover that the only way the spell can be broken is by going back to the remote island for some special ingredients, gee what a surprise. On top of that no one suspects that the naughty magician may have had something to do with this spell so he could get back to his island.

So yeah there are some plot issues which to be honest are more charming and quaint rather than annoying. Its all very very cheesy and hammy but naturally you come to expect this. The main crux of the film of course is the nice array of creatures animated by Harryhausen. Not all are my cup of tea, the two headed Roc bird does nothing for me and neither did the snake woman. Its the main creatures that are the highlights, the wonderful dragon, the first look at a battle with a skeleton warrior and of course the muscle bound cyclops.

Its funny that when you look at these models you can easily tell that Harryhausen used them for other creature incarnations in later films. There was a lot of recycling going on with his models, the cyclops from the Ymir, the snake woman to Medusa and the skeleton warrior expanded for 'Argonauts'.

The film is chock full of fantastical creatures and easily one of the best Sinbad films. Only some of the actors let it down really, Matthews is stoic and dashing as the titular hero but the biggest kudos must go to Torin Thatcher as the magician. Not only does he look terrific with his heavily tanned bald looks but his accent is a joy to listen to, complete panto performance of course but a such sheer fun to watch. The rest of the crew (creature fodder) are pretty terrible frankly, not that that's a problem, its funny to see them try and interact with the creatures and give credible deliveries.

The start of a whole new world for Harryhausen's work and the beginning of many historic mythical adaptations.

7/10

Friday, 24 May 2013

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)




















Now you'd think judging by the lizard-like monster running around that this is yet another nuclear experiment gone tits up by the Americans. But no, this time its actually a captured alien from the  planet Venus that has been set free by some stupid little Italian kid with a cowboy fetish.

So in this film there is life on Venus and man has been there! some strong imagination there considering the intense surface heat, unsavory atmosphere and atmospheric pressure. The creature in question also seems to have a slightly aquatic look about it too, almost like the 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' or the Kraken, similar scaly appearance, but living on Venus is quite out of the question I'm afraid.



















Anyway realism aside this is your typical bog standard beastie runs amok affair really with very little on offer. I know that sounds really harsh but by this point we've had two good Harryhausen monster flicks and this does feel a bit of a rehash. We've had a giant four legged dinosaur-like lizard and a giant octopus, so this creature doesn't really feel very original, a bipedal dinosaur-like lizard creature. It still looks terrific of course, the usual high standards of Harryhausen.

To be honest there is only one truly great sequence in this film for me and that's the fight against the elephant. Not only does it visually look excellent but the detail and animation for the elephant is some of Ray's best work for me, much better than the creature. Watch its movements and even the way he's captured the thick heavy skin...even around the elephants legs, the saggy skin.

















The other highlight is actually the old 50's footage of Italy and the Colosseum (yes the film is set in Italy). The film really gives a wonderful panorama of this ancient Roman architectural feat, truly superb, makes me wanna go see it asap ha! Love how the Italian military are happy to shoot bazooka's at their priceless ancient ruins.

Another slice of monster rampage that is fun in places but is bogged down with a lot of planning dialog and the usual romantic side plot. Glad they have changed the general storyline from nuclear weapons but end of the day the film is still a bit of a cookie cutter fan film. Shame we never find out more about the alien race from Venus or how they captured one, what was that jelly stuff they had it encased in? I think it was a baby, who knows.

6/10

The Return of the Musketeers (UK, FRA, ESP 1989)


















Some 15 years later we have this late trilogy bookend for this noteable franchise. Funnily enough the film is based on Dumas' sequel novel Twenty Years After and that's almost the same amount of time which had passed from 'The Four Musketeers' and this third film.


So to look at the characters it really does feel very authentic as everyone has indeed aged some 20 years...almost. In fact the entire cast has all been brought back once again to don their fancy pants and wigs, quite impressive I must say for the continuity.

Again its pretty much business as usual for Lester and his crew, and once again they have produced/created a sterling offering which still manages to look and sound just as lavish and authentic as the previous two films. I can't fault anything on display in this film whatsoever, all the visuals, locations, props, sets, costumes, weapons etc...everything just like before is beautifully crafted and visualised.

The comedy is as you have come to expect from Lester with these films, both silly pratfalls wise and the various subtle little dubbed gags. The action is fair but feels a little too childish this time round, of course we know its suppose to be but this time it does feel just a bit too silly with very few kills. Can't help but mention that the age of the main four fellows clearly hinders the swashbuckling somewhat, makes everything feel a bit like a Benny Hill sequence at times.

Age aside everyone is still on top form, no slacking here as all cast members are clearly having a great time hamming it up in a flurry of swords, facial hair n wine. Oliver Reed was born for this role I believe, I'm not even sure if he knew he was in a film, just drinking, fighting and being loud. A great shame about Roy kinnear though, such a lose, even worse when its a needless accident.

It seems that one problem is that of Kim Cattrall as Justine de Winter. She doesn't quite fit the bill in this role methinks, I can't quite put my finger on it, maybe her face looks too 'present day' or 80's, but she just doesn't fit in. I can see her in a daft sexy comedy alongside someone like Tom Hanks but just not in a period piece like this. It also bugs me that people must always alter things when they adapt, Milady de Winter was suppose to have a son not a daughter, so why change it??

Overall this is still a great fun film which all the family can enjoy no doubt. Though despite it still looking superb I can't help but feel its not really required. The first two films gave you your complete Musketeer fix, they explored every avenue, every nook and cranny of 17th Century France and pretty much gave you everything you could ask for in a swashbuckler.

This does feel a bit tired, a bit late in the day and a bit of a rehash really, just the same as before. Sure its not a bad thing and the characters being old is a nice spin which of course connects to the original source material but it just doesn't really offer you anything new. The first two films did it all perfectly and to be honest...better, this just feels like a return trip without the freshness.

Still a great film but simply not in the same league as the first two, it may even bore you in parts. And how the hell does the Count De Rochefort survive the previous film to here?! He was well n truly run through, even in this day and age you wouldn't have much of a chance with that one, so how on earth he overcame that little nick is anyone's guess.

6/10

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Four Musketeers (US/UK 1974)



















Probably the best Three Musk...oh wait, this is the same film again...he split the film in two. So this is probably the best Three Musketeers film since errr...the previous film which was the same film but chopped in half, yeah, oh and now its called 'The Four Musketeers', clever little twist there huh.

So yes here we are again following on from where the last film left off. Of course the fact that this is essentially the same film just chopped in half everything is exactly perfect continuity wise. But that's not exactly a big deal cos its the same film people!! but I guess if you didn't know that then it would come across amazingly well.

The film covers the second half of the famous novel and one could say the more exciting half. Not that the first wasn't brilliant, its just in this film there is even more epic awesomeness! d'Artagnan is now a Musketeer so the foursome are high on confidence and positively brewing over with arrogance and cockiness.

I can't really go into the visuals etc...once again as this is the same film so naturally it all looks terrific as before. We still have the same tour de force of stunts and swashbuckling action, the same silly oafish humour and the same gorgeous location work. The main thing that stands out here is the impressive battle sequences which far outnumber the previous chapter.

A sequence where all four Musketeers take a bet to have breakfast within the ruins of a Bastion is a perfect example of this whole production. Ridiculously silly notion which incorporates some ridiculous visual gags that are so predictable yet highly amusing. To see poor old Roy Kinnear's character trying to serve his Musketeers superiors whilst under fire will guarantee a smile on your face. All the while our four heroes calmly drink wine and let off a shot or two pipping the odd enemy.

There is another fantastic clash of swords on a frozen lake with the three older Musketeers coming to the rescue of d'Artagnan, Christopher Lee in all his dastardly evilness of course. Then as we approach the finale we are given one set piece after another as the Musketeers battle through Rochefort's men building up to the weary final battle between d'Artagnan and Rochefort himself. The whole last half of this film really is a sight to behold, the action never lets up yet you never see anything brutal, every scene looks tremendous and the humour is never lost. Bit of emotion though, but not too much, nothing to gush over.

The cast are still on belting form at every turn, there really is no bad casting or performances from anyone. Both films are supposedly quite accurate to the original novels by Dumas, both films are superb in every detail despite being cut in two, this half easily being the more fun in my opinion. But hell, there really is nothing bad I can say about this final chapter or the previous one. Its more of the same but that's just what you'd want no?

Lester achieves greatness here with these films, its such a shame they don't get much recognition anymore. Don't watch this film without seeing the first chapter as it very possibly might not make any sense but don't hold that against the film, that's up to you. Mr Lester, we salute you (even though you should have backed Donner for 'Sups 2' instead of virtually remaking the whole thing...but I digress).


10/10


Monday, 20 May 2013

The Three Musketeers (US/UK 1973)




















Probably the best version of the classic historic adventure by Dumas and directed by the controversial Richard Lester. Controversial you say? why yes, not only was he brought on board to radically change (reshoot) the already half made 1980's 'Superman II' without current director Donner knowing anything about it. He also made this film in its entirety but upon realising he had tonnes of filmed  material he decided to split the film in two, thus creating the sequel and upsetting his entire cast.

A few things jump out at you straight away with this film. Firstly the visuals are pretty darn good, very epic, very lavish and very grandiose (need more epic-like words). Filmed mostly on location within Spain (I believe) everything has really been given an extremely rustic classical style that looks exactly as it should for this 17th Century adventure. It looks as if real historical/heritage buildings have been used for various locations in the story which really does give a sense of realism to the film. Add to this a full wave of near perfect looking costumes, wigs, props, weapons, sets, carriages, plenty of beautiful horses etc...the effort, craftsmanship and love put in is clearly visible.

Secondly the action and swashbuckling. This production is like a stuntman's bible, it virtually has everything you could want in an old fashioned romp. Scaling towering heights, riding horses at full charge, jumping onto moving horses, jumping from heights, devilishly dangerous swordplay, large scale multiple battles, gymnastics, acrobatics etc...there is no CGI, no tricks and no bluescreen, this is all the real deal just like in the good old days of Errol Flynn. The film is chock full of daring action but at no point do you ever see any blood, gore or even death really (not much). Its all edited and acted in a way that everyone can enjoy without getting upset, this is one reason the film is such a joy.

Thirdly the humour. This is something Lester masters so well for this series, some may say the humour is childish...and they would be right, it is. There are a lot of pratfalls, slapstick, silly visual gags, silly dialog etc...many of the stunts are pratfalls really, daring but purely for laughs. Much of the amusement actually comes from dubbed voice work added on later in production. All the time you hear funny little bits of dialog which are clearly dubbed in (no one has tried to hide that fact) coming from the background, supposedly the background characters. Usually very silly simple babyish comments, typically British Carry On type humour that adds a whole other dimension to the film.

Lastly the cast. Oh boy the cast, its like one of Hollywood's old silver screen classics where they have jammed in as many star names as possible. The film is epic and the casting is just as epic. An international mix of all star players await you here. The four Musketeers are played by the stoic and reliable Oliver Reed who fits the drunken role of Athos to a tee, Frank Finlay as the portly buffoon-like Porthos, Chamberlain as the slim athletic Aramis and a very young skinny York as d'Artagnan. All four are absolutely superb in their roles and I have never seen another person play them as well. What I like is the fact they're not muscle bound pretty boy sex icons, they look very regular, scruffy and laboured yet at the same time they all have that perfect aristocratic sense about them which fits the period beautifully.

The rest of the cast is so blindingly good its just scary, Christopher Lee is caddish to the hilt as Count De Rochefort, almost like a live action Dick Dastardly. Heston plays Cardinal Richelieu with the manly presence he was known for and Dunaway is like a black widow spider and strikingly beautiful in her white period dresses as Milady de Winter. But then you have smaller roles that are just as good if not better! who can forget old Roy Kinnear as the bumbling Planchet giving us such brilliantly funny physical comedy and Simon Ward as the Duke of Buckingham, this guy looks so good in his getup its like he was zapped in a time machine from the 17th Century! Its all in the facial hair.

This is old time film making right here folks, the whole approach is grand in scale and highly impressive to watch. The way Lester went about this as a kind of Chaplin-like comedy, historically accurate in appearance and high on heroic, flamboyant, Fairbanks-esque daredevilry deserves much kudos and respect. The fact he pulled this off is even more impressive! I'm sure to read this on paper you could be forgiven for thinking it wouldn't work.

This first chapter in the trilogy leaves you gagging for the sequel (even though there wasn't suppose to be one but anyway...), a rip roaring start that puts many modern films to shame.

9/10








Sunday, 19 May 2013

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)




















Fantastic title for a film this, quintessential 50's sci-fi schlock with a typical tacky title that tells you everything you need to know, but it sounds so damn cool! The funny thing is this film really should be called 'Earth vs the USA' because there isn't really anyone else involved. How dare those pesky aliens even think about attacking the US of A!  Stars n Stripes away lads!

So plot...UFO's attack the Earth, USA attacks back, USA wins, the end. What would we do without the USA? I ask ya. Much like 'It Came from Beneath the Sea' this film is made up of a lot of dialog involving what is happening and then how to deal with it, plus a small romance stuffed in the middle.

There are snippets of UFO/alien action dotted throughout but the main event doesn't kick off until the end typically. When we do see the aliens they are gloriously basic looking bordering on childish. For the day I'm sure they looked quite impressive but naturally these days they attract more giggles as they waddle around in their cardboard looking space suits. The small segment where the hero tries on a captured alien helmet is so daft and cheap looking its fantastic, he literately has a plastic bucket on his head.
















The actual flying saucers are of course the highlight of the film. Even though they are incredibly basic in design they have influenced so many sci-fi films ever since (famously 'Mars Attacks' which is pretty much a homage) and probably people's minds in how alien craft should look. Animated by Harryhausen they don't look much of a challenge for the skilled craftsman but its the destruction of major buildings when the saucers crash that present the work and show his talents. How iconic is the downfall of the Washington Monument! that little sequence is still perfect to this day, and lets not forget about that classic flying saucer humming noise they make.













What I did find amusing was the fact these aliens were suppose to be attacking the entire planet. Yet once our plucky hero and his glamorous assistant worked out how to defeat them and went about doing so with many faceless expendable military men, that was it! They brought down all the saucers and that was it, no one thinks to check for the alien crews inside in case they are gonna attack. Plus no one mentions anything about the rest of the saucers attacking other countries, did all they manage to defeat the saucers the same as the heroic Americans?? there is no mention of sharing their alien beating discovery with other countries I don't think (unless I missed it).

I would also hope they use the new alien technology for their own gains, no mention of this but surely they would for the sequel.

So yes the whole film is pretty much exactly the same as all the previous films, it just substitutes monsters for aliens. We have the standard sensible hero, his attractive female sidekick, plenty of elderly/brainy scientists and military types all together with an 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' formulaic story. As that saying suggests it does work and it is good fun, the flying saucer sequences being the best of course. Not the best film, still not beating '20,000 Fathoms' but definitely better than 'It Came from Beneath the Sea'.

7/10

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)
















The second big monster from the deep for Harryhausen and again its all down to those pesky atomic bomb tests the US keep doing. This time they have disturbed a gigantic octopus from the Mindanao Deep, but not only have they upset this big boy, they have also made him radioactive which makes it very hard to catch his usual meals. So up he comes to the surface to chow down on lots of yummy humans in and on board various vessels, canned food.

So if you just scratch beneath the surface (no pun intended) you will easily see the similarity with his previous film 'The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms'. Cut down this is simply the exact same film with a slight change in story and of course a different beastie. Instead of a mighty lizard we have a mighty octopus.

To be really brutally honest I found this film a tad on the dull side, I'll say this again and again but these films are all about the creatures and unfortunately this film doesn't have as much. Now I'm not saying its a bad film, its just not as thrilling, there is a lot of dialog revolving around trying to find out what is causing the damage and deaths, and then how to kill it, plus there's a fair bit of dull romance too. So overall we don't get tonnes of monster mashing I'm afraid.

On the plus side this enormous cephalopod looks terrific! possibly even better than the lizard from '20,000', its actually quite realistic too. I love the way the tentacles reach out from the depths and crane over bridges, ports, buildings etc...slowly slithering their way along feeling for food. The Golden Gate Bridge sequence is still awesome to see, watching this sea monster coil itself around the bridge stanchion.

Love how these films always have a few good looking heroic male characters that take control. One old guy who is the brains behind all the plans and just one attractive female to keep things exciting for the boys during the action hehe. Its all so chauvinistic yet curiously charming and amusing at the same time. Another fun thing to point out in these old films is the large amount of (well spoken) narration, the way it explains the simple plot clearly because they thought people wouldn't understand haha hmm maybe we should have more of that these days.

The film comes to life towards the end as we see the Octopus strike. The use of flamethrowers to push the monster back into the sea is another really well created sequence. Up to then I can't deny its a bit of a struggle in places leaving you gagging for some in your face Harryhausen effects, but overall its still classic stuff. Ironic that weapons of mass destruction always create these ferocious problems yet they still resort to using them to attempt to solve the problem. Its all very nautical yet not a salty seadog in sight.

6.5/10


The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)



















Ah the old nuclear bomb testing plot idea, a stable diet for vintage sci-fi flicks of the past. Those silly darn Americans up to their misjudged tests that end up wreaking havoc on the world...well normally their native country actually. This film helped kick start the huge monster craze including the seminal Godzilla and the use of nuclear weapons testing for plot ideas that cause these monster riots.

This time they inadvertently disturb a prehistoric reptile that was trapped/hibernating in the deep ice of Antarctica. The huge scaly creature makes it way down the east coast of the US to New York where it decides to set up camp and munch on various things.

This is where the Harryhausen stuff of legend really kicks off, giant reptilian monsters roaming around and eating people. The big lizard looks really good, kinda like a four legged Godzilla but surprisingly quite decent and not as cheesy. What is also so cool is the way Harryhausen has animated this fella, he moves really well, seems a bit like a young puppy behaviour wise at times (sinking the first fishing ship) but its still good. Bit jerky of course but its nicely done. Should I be surprised? yeah I think so, this is an old film and an early one for Harryhausen so you would expect it to look hokey...but it doesn't.

Can't lie here but like other monster flicks its all about the rampage isn't it, yeah come on it is. The plot building with the stereotypical characters...the good looking hero, the old bald scientist and his attractive female assistant is all well and good but you're really wanting building/vehicle stomping. Everything is much better than his previous main creature flick ('Mighty Joe Young'), acting, sets, props, costumes and additional models are all tighter and sharper, it does look like they had more money to use for this film. The whole film looks really good bottom line, even the underwater sequence is enjoyable if quaint.

This really is one of the pinnacles of charming sci-fi that anyone can sit down and enjoy. I love how the acting is so straight laced in militaristic fashion, how everyone looks smart in their lovely suits and fedoras of the time, how they fade out each sequence in that traditional way and the funny way they squeeze in stock footage, some of which works, some stands out badly.

Easily one of the best creature features from Harryhausen's portfolio with a tremendously good monster, some nice acting from Cecil Kellaway as the clever old 'Dr Elson' and some lovely cute moments of ham...when the good 'Dr Elson' decides to stake his career on the beast story being true simply because a sailor identified a random drawing that looked kinda like the monster he thinks he saw.

8/10

Saturday, 18 May 2013

One Tough Bastard (aka One Man's Justice, 1995)




















If Olivier Gruner was a top B-list action man, or the poor man's JCVD, then Brian Bosworth must be one of the best D-list action men. His filmography is short and features few well known films, other than this film you have 'Stone Cold', his best action vehicles.

So this is a really in depth intelligent well acted film that...no not really. A man fresh out of the military and with special skills in kicking ass, but its not long before his world is brought crashing down when some drug dealers kill his wife and child. I think we all know what happens next here...lots of gun totting revenge baby, oh and some ass kicking.

The main quirk here is the crooked FBI agent played by the wonderful Bruce Payne who is sporting one of the most ridiculous wigs I've seen. Not since Travolta in 'Swordfish' have I seen such a campy stupid looking hairdo, and its blonde!. Not only this but Payne's character also has a nose ring! would the FBI really allow one of their top men to look like this?!.

So off goes Bosworth as he looks for the men that killed his family, not as much out n out ass kicking as you'd expect, amazingly there is quite a bit of plot involved here. Nothing major but its not all explosions and blood put it that way, can be a bit jumbled at times. I kinda forgot what exactly Payne's character is trying to do but hey its all gonna end predictably so who cares right.

The other added bonus here is the inclusion of another top baddie character actor in Jeff Kober who always looks so damn evil, got a face like a demon. Oh and MC Hammer is in here too, although he's easy to miss without his clown pants on. Not the greatest action film in the world but its not too bad, if it wasn't for the terminally nasty Bruce Payne and Kober then it would be completely forgettable.

5.5/10

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Warlock III: The End of Innocence (1999)

The Warlock is back again but this time its not the devilishly handsome Julian Sands but the also quite devilishly handsome Bruce Payne. Both are British, both have blonde receding hair, both are well spoken with an aristocratic sense about them and Payne is certainly not one to turn down a cheap B-movie.

This time its actually a different Warlock though, not the same soul as the previous two films, but these Warlocks do seem similar don't they, Satan must have a thing for blonde British men.

Plot wise its a change of pace, gone is the exciting 'Terminator' chase style of the previous two. Now we have a much duller psychological thriller type approach set inside a really dreary looking house. Unfortunately the writers have opted for the predictable and over used good looking young people in a house getting killed one by one theme. The other thing is I think its suppose to be kinda scary but really it isn't.

Payne's Warlock makes friends with them one by one, getting to know them a little, then kills them in odd ways. One is a complete 'T2' rip, another is a complete 'Hellraiser' type rip, so not much originality going on in this house. What's funny is Payne merely walks around sounding Über freaky and erratic yet no one really notices, nor does anyone really catch on that it might be him doing the killing...the guy in all black with an evil grin on his face maybe?

Very cheap looking production values, hardly any decent sets (the house is virtually bare), bad acting by sexy young folk, poor effects and very few of them with a very drab finale. Payne is semi good fun here simply because he does the bad guy thing so well but really this is a bit naff . Nice little sequences of BDSM though.

4/10

Warlock: The Armageddon (1993)

He's back, in a messy bloody gory sequence where an innocent young girl gives birth to Satan's son, the Warlock is reborn. Julian Sands rises once more to reap carnage on all that stand in his way, plus he still looks annoying good looking with that tarty hairdo.

Not too sure whether Sands Warlock is suppose to be a mere spawn of Satan in the same guise or the same devilish soul as before just reborn, I'm guessing the latter. Anywho off we go as Mr Warlock merrily kills, mutilates and destroys one person after another as he searches for the mystical rune stones that may raise his boss.

That's the plot right there, its easy and simple, but what this film offers is exactly what you want, more imaginative killing by the Warlock. We get that in spades this time round with the added bonus of much better production values, better effects, much more interesting deaths and heaps more blood n gore. That's it really, nothing more to say, its clear there is a better budget this time round, the cast are more recognisable too.

Whether you feel its better than the original I don't know, the original has more of a proper plot, this is obviously just a rehash with extra claret on display. To be honest this does feel more like a Satanic 'Terminator' really, 'T2' with a Warlock, not scene for scene of course but along those lines.

What I find interesting about this Warlock character is the fact he is completely evil, he can't be bargained with, he doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear...haaang on! He shows no mercy ever, he double crosses, tricks, leads people into a false sense of security and no one is safe no matter how young or how sexy, no guilt, just kill, actually kinda creepy despite the ham.

More of a riot for sure but loses the credibility of the first methinks. Naturally cliched, predictable and routine type stuff but that low budget feel (even though higher than before) somehow tends to make things so much better, more acceptable.

6/10

Warlock (1989)



















Probably the franchise Julian Sands is best known for...but that's probably not the best thing to shout about. I remember seeing this in the videoshop as a kid, top row, where young hands couldn't reach. It was considered a bit of a video nasty I think, to do with witchcraft, evil demons, the devil etc...not the stuff for young developing minds.

First time seeing this recently and it did kinda remind me of 'The Evil Dead' a little bit. Not totally of course but the plot revolves around the good guys getting their hands on the pages of a Grimoire which isn't too dissimilar from those early Raimi flicks.

The soundtrack is odd and doesn't really match the action, its kinda of quirky when it should be impending doom. A young Richard E. Grant plays the good guy but is miscast really, pretty bad Scottish accent there, at least I think its suppose to be Scottish.

The only good thing about this film is Sands lets be honest here. The guy is good looking in that blonde British aristocratic Sting kind of way, he's well spoken, he looks badass in his costume and his hair looks cool I can't deny it. He merely traipses around killing people in nasty ways and that's it, with the odd bit of fancy witchcraft dialog.

I liked this for being a typical crummy cheesy ass 80's horror flick. The effects look awful now, truly horrific, especially when the Warlock is flying around yikes! I'm guessing back in the day they weren't too bad but I dunno because I never saw it back in the day. Other than that the film doesn't really hold up too well these days, it looked cheap for its time so now it looks even worse.

A case of the films visuals/special effects looking so bad its cool. Whilst the acting and general feel/atmosphere of the film is darn corny nowadays, its great fun to watch. Not sure why its such a cult film though.

5/10

Monday, 13 May 2013

Full Eclipse (1993)

Made in the early 90's which coincidentally was the peak of John Woo's highly stylistic movies, and you can clearly see how this high flying, double handed gun diving, slow motion action fest was influenced by Woo. Its got his artistic finger prints all over it in concept, as the director has obviously gone down the oriental route here.

If you take elements from 'The Matrix' 'Blade' 'From Dusk Till Dawn' 'Underworld' 'Priest' etc...you do get an idea of what this film is like. With slick cool visuals and action (heavy on the Woo factor), mixed with the dark brooding fantasy genre that has been so highly exploited in recent years thanks to the big improvements in effects, and you get this early offering. I'm sure this film has helped others film makers somewhere down the line over the years.

The film is also influenced by the Marvel characters of the X-Men, mainly Wolverine, again obvious by the werewolf claws that pertrude from the knuckles. Even their special tactical suits look a bit X-Men-ish and on the cheap side I might add, what are all the straps for exactly??. In short this film is a heavy mix of many ideas that we all know of nowadays but amazingly this film was probably one of the first to do it in the fantasy genre.

The only down side here is firstly the cast which are a bunch of nobodies really. Mario Van Peebles has always been a bit of a D-list action man really, never made anything big, doesn't quite have the looks or the acting skills and tends to end up in poor equivalents of better films. Alongside him are some other actors who are faceless basically, accept for Patsy Kensit who again isn't really a proper actress, just a big name at the time with a tight ass and blonde hair, nothing more. The only good player here is of course the ever evil Bruce Payne who simply cannot fail in delivering the perfect slimy devilish bad guy with those eerie bewitching features of his. Casting him was a master stroke of genius.

The other issue is the fact the film was made for TV, which means the budget seems to have been low, which equals slim pickings on the cast and visuals. Now don't get me wrong the visuals are nicely done with some great makeup effects (although the finale takes a turn for the laughable) but with a slightly better budget this could have looked that much better. The low budget does add a gritty realism of course but certain things clearly need a boost, some sets, some stunts, the costumes are pretty low key and some set pieces do look fake (the werewolves claws look terribly fragile to me).

There are some plot questions I can't quite work out. The main bad guy (Payne) and his team are invincible in werewolf form from everything its seems accept silver, and an eclipse makes them invincible to that as well. But why the need to follow eclipses around the country for one night of silver protection when 99.9% of the time they are invincible anyway and no one even knows about their lycanthropy silver problems anyway.

Plus Payne's character always kills off his fellow werewolf team members before moving to the next city, just not sure why. And finally his mission, the plot for him in the film, what actually is it?? seriously he doesn't seem to have a goal accept to wipe out all crime, but doesn't that make him a good guy? Sure he's doing it in a supernatural way but he's getting the job done right haha.

This film is ripe for a remake I must admit, the idea is killer and could be done with werewolves, mutants or vampires. The only thing is it wouldn't be as fresh or original as this film was when it came out. As we all know these days these types of films are ten a penny and I'm sure many would just scoff at the idea behind this as an 'Underworld' clone set within the police force.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WvVorV0v7sc

6.5/10

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Cliffhanger (1993)

1993 was a big year for Mr Stallone, not only did this huge box office success come out but later that year we were presented with 'Demolition Man'. Oddly enough this was also the last year where Stallone's movies managed success, after 1993 his work went downhill considerably and only got back on track in 2008 with his Rambo reboot/sequel.

This film could well be the first 'Die Hard on a' example to come along, 'Die Hard on a mountain'? meh maybe its just me?. The whole thing is your standard action fare really, nothing original and nothing fresh. A bunch of bad guys after lost millions on a mountain, hostages, plenty of gunfire, plenty of blood, lots of profanity and an evil caddish bad guy boss to equal Rickman's 'Hans Gruber'.

I must admit I never really liked this film as it just feels too run of the mill, accept for being based on a mountain of course (mountainous snowy terrain). I've always been in the Arnie camp personally I never really thought Stallone could match up with his efforts. I simply cannot look at this film without thinking of 'Die Hard/Die Hard 2', its such a copy, really it is, right down to Lithgow's corny British villain.

The action isn't all that impressive either really, a mixture of highly dangerous stunts which are admittedly good enough to make your palms sweat, and blatantly obvious sets. One minute the film looks sweet as a nut with some lovely location shots and real live action, the next you're looking at some crappy bluescreen effects or an obvious plastic rubbery set. Actually to be honest the film is a bit drab looking for the most part, lots of grey and white rocky terrain.

The entire cast in this film is pretty boring too, the bad guys aren't really very interesting but that's cos we don't really get to know them. All the good guys n gals are just wet and annoying, Rooker's character does so much slow motion running and screaming its hilarious, did this film start that trend?!. Only Lithgow holds things together with his hammy campness, problem there is he doesn't really look right for the part nor does he look like he could beat up Stallone, but his evilness is fun.

Can't deny the film is a blast of adrenaline with its ridiculous moments of sheer dumbness. Stallone climbing up the rockface in his t-shirt, then whilst under the frozen icy water he removes everything and goes topless! why exactly? but hey this is a stupid action thriller what do you expect. A decent flick for the Stallone camp but its complete lack of realism and easy to spot stunt doubles/bad effects are all too clear. Great film title though.

5.5/10

Observe and Report (2009)





















At first glance an inevitable comparison to the Kevin James vehicle 'Paul Blart' springs to mind. To be fair you wouldn't be all that far off either, the whole basis for this film is very similar lets be honest. Both characters are working as security men in a mall and are wannabe cops. Both characters are portrayed as taking their job way too seriously when in reality they are merely shop attendants in a blue uniform. And both characters try to change their lives by applying for a job on the police force despite everyone thinking they haven't got a chance.

So yeah its pretty similar, the only major difference is the fact Rogen's character in this film is more unhinged and eerily prone to violent anger outbursts. This of course can be hilarious at times with Rogen's great comic personality and chubby features, but at the same time its also a bit disturbing and uncomfortable too.

There are plenty of scenes in this which made me laugh out loud, the way 'Ronnie' (Rogen) organises his small team of security men with the up most importance, as if they were special ops. His awkwardness around sexy perfume saleswoman 'Brandi' (Farris perfectly cast as your typical airhead blonde...again), the way he acts with jealousy around real cop 'Harrison' (Liotta), his ongoing feud with Arab shopkeeper 'Saddamn' and the way he exposes himself as slightly deranged, depressive and possibly dangerous to various people, especially in the police psychological examination.

On the flip side there are times when the film feels ugly, vicious, a bit sad and over the top with the violence, profanity and blood. The sequence where Rogen's character takes 'Brandi' out for a meal, she gets drunk and then they end up having sex, is rather dubious. Why? because 'Brandi' is completely out of it and vomiting whilst 'Ronnie' is banging her. It does seem a tad like rape, but at the same time the sight of Farris' head lurching to one side with puke on the pillow whilst 'Ronnie' goes at it is amusing I can't deny, a nervous laugh there.

There are other moments throughout which seem to go a bit too far also, showing 'Ronnie's' anger, the fight with the cops and Liotta's character, and the finale for the flasher. Its all kinda funny but kinda edgy too, at times you're thinking 'is it OK to laugh at this?'.

Saying this is a dark comedy is an understatement, its darkly dark alright and Rogen's cynical, sinister, in your face performance will either leave you laughing, cogitating or hating. I think I prefer this over the Kev James film simply because Rogen's performance is appealing to me here plus this film is more grounded ('Blart' goes goes down that 'Die Hard' route...). The ending is a bit simple and anti climatic but its a totally fun and rather controversial ride to get there.

6/10

Parker (2013)




















Wholly crap another novel adaptation! I was surprised to discover this character was actually the guy Mel Gibson portrayed in 'Payback', that did then ring a bell seeing as the characters in both films are the same, anti heroes. Back then the rights to the character name 'Parker' weren't there apparently.

So the plots to this adaptation and 'Payback/The Hunter' are virtually the same! 'Parker' is betrayed by a gang, shot and left for dead. He then proceeds to spend the entire film going after those who betrayed him. The problem here is the whole film is spread out with absolutely nothing of interest merely to see 'Parker' get revenge at the end. The film only had to be about 30min long and that would have sufficed.

The cast is a terrible mistake, every one. Statham is not the guy you want for a supposedly dark noir crime thriller (according to the original source), his presence merely lowers this films intelligence levels and gives everyone the wrong impression before seeing it. You know most people will be expecting a martial arts filled 'Transporter' type flick.

The bad guys don't seem very bad at all, I mean they are not nice but they're hardly hardened criminals. Chiklis as the leader isn't threatening ever, I dunno why but he just looks like he's gonna burst out into slapstick. Another guy looks like a young Jon Cryer which isn't too good and Clifton Collins Jr. who is normally good for a violent nutter is very quiet.

Then we have the car crash that is Lopez, dear lord how does this woman find work in Hollywood?!. She can't act, she's no good in a thriller like this and constantly ruins scenes (comic relief apparently), she looks like your typical bony, middle aged rich LA residing female with heaps of makeup and hairspray plastered on and all she does in this film is whine. It amuses me when these mega rich stars portray working class characters that are down on their luck, because they have no idea what its like to be in that situation.

Its all very slick and glitzy with the glamorous Florida locations, fancy cars and huge mansions set against a sunkissed sky, you'd think it was a Bond flick. But none of this really seems to fit together well, it all feels bog standard and tired, amazingly generic, even the films poster is drab and uninspiring.

A very mundane below par action film bottom line, no different from many other Statham efforts that have gone directly to DVD, did not pass go and did not collect $200. The whole thing is so utterly pointless, unoriginal and unexciting because apart from the very start and the very end there is nothing happening. 'Parker' simply wonders around breaking in here and there and stealing cars whilst all the while looking highly obvious while he does it.

4.5/10

Friday, 10 May 2013

Mighty Joe Young (1949)

























Here beginneth my Ray Harryhausen review homages.

16 years after the world got a glimpse of the mighty King Kong, once again the sight of a huge gorilla amazed audiences around the world. In a completely different approach but sharing similar plot highs and lows 'Mighty Joe Young' rode on the success of Kong, unfortunately the film did not do as well but still managed to impress with better sharper special effects.

Its not hard to see why this film may not have done so well really, I must admit to never really liking this film as it always did feel like a Kong rip off. The entire plot including many sequences are virtually scene for scene remakes of Kong. The main difference being in this film the huge gorilla is a pet of sorts to a female human, they both live in harmony in their native Africa and 'Joe' is voluntarily handed over to the money grabbing businessman.

Throughout the film the friendship between Joe and his female owner is never broken, she is always there to guide and help him. But this still doesn't really alter the fact the film follows very closely to Kong. Joe is brought to NY and used in a show, almost a gimmick, for the roaring crowds. In time he grows tired and angry of his daily grind, some drunken humans pester him, push him and he cracks, going (excuse the pun) ape shit and destroying the club.

From this point on the film veers away from Kong and takes it own path. Naturally this path is pretty predictable and offers a sappy heroic crescendo for the ape, you do think the film will go the way of Kong, but uniquely it doesn't.

This of course being a rather old film I can't really yak on about plot issues and silly ideas...but I'm gonna. The whole thing is fantasy of course but there are still daft plot ideas, the whole fact that Jill decides to allow Joe to go to New York to perform in a club is ridiculous, as if he would prefer that to roaming the wilds of his home country Africa. The actual club is gigantic!!! a feat of engineering in itself! plus the fact they have real wild animals in there behind glass seems a slight health n safety risk no? Should I mention how convenient it was for the escaping humans and Joe to just stumble across an orphanage that was burning down with lots of innocent little kids in desperate need of saving? nah.

Yep this is a black n white film from the 40's so yes it will be incredibly corny with terrible acting (saying Ben Johnson, the male love interest, was wooden is an understatement), ludicrous plot moments, reckless use of real animals along with disregard for them in the plot (poor old lions) and that good old fashioned male chauvinism as the blokes go around merrily threatening the dames.

As an upgraded sequel of sorts to Kong this film is great for the effects, Harryhausen's animation and Kong model constructor Marcel Delgado work wonders. The new gorilla model is a much slicker flashier piece showcasing more facial gestures and detail. Even to this day its amazing to see the switch from live action to the models as they interact together. As for the rest...well its a bit of a rehash really, nothing too special as we saw it all with Kong, so really it feels a bit late.

5/10

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Swordfish (2001)





















Possibly the stupidest movie title ever? we do find out why during the film but still. Possibly the stupidest look for Travolta? the most camp hairdo? gotta be contenders huh.

This film is basically about hacking computers, stealing lots of money and transferring it here there and everywhere in a flurry of slick sexy sequences. That's pretty much it, Travolta's character tells us its all in the name of national security and for US protection against terrorism, which it does seem to be. So this begs the question why is Travolta and his goons made out to be bad guys when they're working for the US government and hitting back at dangerous terrorists? The FBI finds out about the operation, OK its a dodgy op but what's wrong with it?

Apart from being very much like an ensemble Bond flick the film actually offers a few interesting insights. Halle Berry's first topless scene is the big one (no pun intended), doesn't really add anything to the film and feels pointless but its there. This was only Vinnie Jones second major Hollywood film and again he has very little to say, still weird to see him in a Hollywood film at the time though. Only Jackman's second Hollywood action film also, after 'X-Men'. This was one of the earlier films for Cheadle which started to push him further into bigger action films. Likewise this was a film within a string of action films for Travolta that all kicked off after success with a certain Tarantino film.

A bland film really with little to show, the action is impressive but doesn't feel required. It also seems way way over the top just for the sake of it. The plot doesn't really make much sense, its simple yet made out to be grand and complex with lots of tech talk and government plots. Thing is you can see right through it, its just an action film with too many big stars that are knee deep in makeup. An odd collection of stars too, none of them really gel together.

I really got the impression that certain scenes and stunts are in there just to keep you the audience interested, as none of it serves the plot. At the start where Travolta's character is doing his own little Tarantino-esq bit of dialog, Berry topless as said before, Jackman's character getting a blow job whilst trying to crack a code, sexy ladies asses on display, a car chase where Travolta uses an M60 machine gun (I think) etc...The story could be told without all that.

Its like a compilation of sexy smooth cool sequences which is assumed people will like. The actual plot and character development seems to have been added afterwards as an afterthought.

The finale typifies how the director tries to make this out to be a clever film. Travolta's character seemingly escapes in a chopper but gets blown to kingdom come by a rocket launcher. We then discover that a body double was in the chopper and Gabriel tricked everyone. But how did Gabriel know his chopper would get shot down? what if Jackman's character didn't use the rocket launcher? he didn't have to, he may not even of thought of it seeing as the weapon was back on the bus.

That was the clever twist the film had been building up to! that and another which wasn't exactly groundbreaking. So really the bad guys entire dastardly plan seemed to hinge on whether or not the good guy would use a particular weapon at a particular time, that's some good crystal ball skills right there.

5/10