It stars Michael Caine and it involves pirates. That’s enough to get me interested. Released in 1980, Michael Ritchie’s The Island is one of several films with that title; unlike the others, it’s based on a book by Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws. So all in all, it was looking like a pretty safe bet for a decent movie.
Caine plays Blair Maynard, a Korean War veteran since turned newspaper reporter. It’s implied his paper is little more than a gossip rag, but he manages to convince his editor to let him go down to Florida and the Caribbean to investigate a rash of disappearing ships. As his ex-wife is on vacation with her new beau, he takes his 12-year-old son Justin (Jeffrey Frank, who only starred in one film) with him, promising him a chance to visit Disney World along the way. Of course, a trip to see Mickey Mouse and Goofy would not make for an action movie (although I invite studios to prove me wrong), so you know that’s not what’s going to happen. Continue reading →
Released in 1988, Paul Mazursky’s comedy Moon Over Parador is a film about acting. Sort of. Richard Dreyfuss plays Jack Noah, an actor who has had a few action films to his name, but still finds himself scrambling for parts. He’s just finished shooting on his latest film (complete with blond mullet wig to hide his grey hair and receded hairline) in the small South American nation of Parador, where he impresses the local dictator, Alphonse Simms, with his uncanny and amusing impersonation of him. After the wrap party, Jack intends to return home to New York to find his next part, but his retired friend Ralph (Jonathan Winters) convinces him that he should stay for Carnavale.
The few days’ delay would prove fateful when Simms dies of an early heart-attack. The Paradorian Director of National Security, Roberto Straussman (Raul Julia), knows that news of the dictator’s death would cause political upheaval at a time when the country (and Straussman’s interests) could ill afford it. You can all guess the answer he comes up with, of course. Continue reading →
Tonight is the biggest night of the year for movies. The Academy Awards, the Oscars, are being handed out to actors, directors, and movies that have earned (at least in some circles) high critical acclaim.
So, since nobody’s going to be reading a little old movie blog like mine tonight, I thought I’d spend the time before the Awards start writing up a review for a movie that won no critical acclaim, and whose only awards — nominated or won — are the Razzies. The first and only starring vehicle for the preeminent white rapper, Robert Van Winkle — better known to all as Vanilla Ice — 1991′s Cool As Ice. Hit it! Continue reading →
An early February release sets the bar of expectations pretty low for films, especially ones that have an action element. We expect the studios to hold their blockbusters and better films for the spring and summer months. So even after hearing some good word of mouth, I wasn’t really expecting all that much from Chronicle (incidentally the first film from 2012 I’ve viewed). But it had an intriguing premise, and it sounded like it might at least be decent, so I decided to give it a chance. I’m glad I did.
Told in the “found footage” format (hence the name), Chronicle tells the story of three high school seniors who, after encountering a strange object, find themselves endowed with gradually-increasing telekinetic abilities. The Chronicle in question is what happens as they learn how and when to use their powers. It’s worth noting that although this is certainly a “super powers” movie, it is definitely not a “super hero” movie. These are just ordinary kids, with extraordinary powers. Continue reading →
No, not the Bugs Bunny cartoon. Although I probably would have laughed more if it had been. Scratch that, I definitely would have laughed more. Transylvania 6-5000 was written and directed by Rudy De Luca; while it’s his sole film directing effort, he has written several other comedies, particularly four for Mel Brooks. Unfortunately, Transylvania 6-5000 is more on the quality level of Life Stinks than of High Anxiety or Silent Movie — it’s not out and out terrible, but it’s unlikely a lot of people are going to cite it as their favorite comedy. (I’d compare it to Dracula: Dead and Loving It, as there are thematic similarities, but I haven’t seen that one yet.)
Transylvania 6-5000 (1985) stars Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley Jr. as Jack Harrison and Gil Turner, reporters working for a tabloid newspaper. When Gil receives a tape purporting to show Frankenstein’s monster, the paper’s editor (and Gil’s father), played by Norman Fell, sends them to Transylvania to investigate — with the warning that they had better come up with an interesting story, or they’re both fired. Continue reading →
Charlie Chaplin was one of the earliest film icons, and one of the few stars of the silent era to still be immediately recognizable to most film fans today. His character of “the Little Tramp” has been referenced by so many works and given so much lasting critical acclaim that people recognize the Tramp even if they haven’t actually seen one of the films (which is increasingly likely as the last one was made in 1936). Like a lot of modern viewers, I hadn’t seen a complete Chaplin film; I’ve seen bits and pieces here and there, and I’ve probably seen just about all of The Gold Rush in that fashion, but I had never sat down and watched one from beginning to end. So, I decided to take the opportunity to do just that, with The Circus, the third-to-last Tramp film and reputed to be one of the best. Continue reading →
There probably aren’t too many French movies that have spawned even a single American or Canadian television series, let alone two. Yet Nikita (released in 1990 in France, and in 1991 as La Femme Nikita in the United States) has done just that. I’ve never seen either of the series in question; to be honest, they came across in promos as having a good premise but low quality. But a good premise is enough to make me curious about the film that they loosely draw from.
Written and directed by Luc Besson, La Femme Nikita is about a young woman who is a petty criminal and drug user. When a robbery goes wrong — largely because her friends were psychotic idiots — she is convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 to life in prison. But prison is not where she ends up… she is recruited into a secret government program as a covert agent: both spy and assassin. Continue reading →
I’ve been hearing the major theme to this movie (John Parr’s “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)”) regularly since the film first came out in 1985. It gets occasional radio play, and it’s catchy enough that I enjoy listening to it. But somehow St. Elmo’s Fire itself had managed to remain on my unseen movies list until now. Unlike some other “Brat Pack” films, that might actually be a good thing, since this isn’t a “high school” movie. Instead, St. Elmo’s Fire focuses on a septet of college graduates, as they learn the hard way that entering the real world does not automatically confer adult wisdom. It’s the sort of movie that ages well as the viewer gains more perspective on that time of life.
This is helped, of course, by having an ensemble cast of great actors, under the direction of Joel Schumacher. Continue reading →
The sophomore effort from sibling director team Albert and Allen Hughes, Dead Presidents was released in 1995 and stars Larenz Tate as a young man in the Bronx who goes off to fight in the Vietnam War, and upon his return plans a bank heist.
The heist takes precedence in all the promotion for this movie. It’s the subject of the tagline, and the poster. Summaries everywhere make that the focus. The film takes its title and its lengthy opening sequence from the presidents on the currency. Everything about the way this film is sold to the audience is set up around getting the audience looking forward to the heist. This is in stark contrast to the film itself, which waits until the last 30 minutes of its two hour run time to even put the heist on the table. Continue reading →
Michael Bay is confirmed to be back in the director’s chair for the fourth live-action Transformers film, as part of a deal between him and Paramount to secure him for the next entry in the franchise by agreeing to fund his upcoming film Pain & Gain (which will feature Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson).
No cast or characters have been selected for the film yet, though obviously Optimus Prime and Bumblebee are expected to be major characters. Producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura says he expects it will be “an evolution” of the franchise, not a re-doing of it. Which really doesn’t explain a whole lot… if they’re not doing a reboot, there are only a few places they can go with the story; to wit, Galvatron and/or Unicron or a new story featuring either villains nobody’s heard of or that were so minor before that nobody will care (since they already kind of blew it with Shockwave.)
Of course, no characters or cast have been selected because the story hasn’t been selected yet; they’re still waiting on a script. The film already has a release date set, at June 29, 2014. This means they have almost exactly the same amount of lead time that gave us Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon (possibly less, as they might very well have started on the scripts for those before the preceding movie was released in each case.) That… isn’t encouraging, especially for those of us who were hoping for a Bay-free franchise reboot.