Far be it from me to jump hastily on the negativity bandwagon like… MoreFar be it from me to jump hastily on the negativity bandwagon like some ravenous nitpicking whiny movie critic, but by Jove this movie is shit. Yet another adaptation of a novel I've never heard of but the general premise is very familiar. Whether or not this film is close to the original source material I don't really know, but what Koepp offers here is Quintessentially a very British affair that has clearly been lifted from various sources. British characters from the mid 60's era (the 'Carry On' franchise), possibly a dabble of 'The Pink Panther' franchise (American movie based around stereotypical continentals), maybe a hint of Basil Fawlty and the 'Fawlty Towers' franchise (in this movie at least, the books turned up before that TV series) and of course the one and only British gent Terry-Thomas.
Well lets not beat around the bush here the author of these original stories has presumably based his main character on Terry-Thomas. The first lines of dialog spoken by Depp in this movie immediately made think this was the official Terry-Thomas movie...action movie. You can quite clearly tell Depp is doing his best pompous aristocratic British accent which just happens to kinda sound like an attempt at Terry-Thomas. Of course he also looks like a typically well groomed, old fashioned dapper, debonair gentlemanly toff with his posh suits, slick back hair and walking cane. The odd thing is a lot of the plot and consequent jokes revolve around his facial hair, its like a character.
The strange thing is I'm not overly sure what the point of his tash was, it seems to somehow be important to his character but never really adds anything to his character or the plot. All we know is his wife played by Paltrow hates it and makes her gag, which in turn makes Depp's Mortdecai gag also. This is one of the main visual jokes in the movie, its repeated often and is played up as though it were a stroke of comedic genius...which it most certainly isn't. The whole truth of the matter is Johnny Depp spends the entire movie prancing about trying his best with a John Cleese impression with physical comedy whilst at the same time trying his best to be funny with childish facial expressions. His one key weapon is a nasal/back of the throat grunt which he often lets out in frustration, that with plenty of tash stroking, raised eyebrows and in general some of the most wussy, namby pamby, wishy-washy slapstick ever.
There's nothing wrong with a good bit of slapstick of course, it can be very clever and very difficult to pull off. This on the other hand is the most childish crapola ever! there is literately nothing going on in this movie other than infantile nonsense of the highest order. Its not funny nonsense either, its painfully bad, awkwardly unfunny and genuinely makes the cast look ridiculous, I felt embarrassed watching them at times, I actually felt bad for the cast. Other than terrible physical comedy the action is completely nondescript, its utterly garbage and not even remotely exciting or thrilling. Never at any point do you feel a rush of adrenaline fearing for any characters life or getting sweaty palms over a solid stunt. The car chases are clearly slow, the fights are clearly fake, the bad guys are laughable, the stunts are average at best and what's more...the whole thing is so so boring!!
Its all basically about stealing a valuable painting or trying to recover it from thieves...whatever. I totally zoned out for the most of it because it simply wasn't interesting in the slightest. You are literately watching Depp mincing around trying his best to make us believe he was the right casting choice (we all know he wants to be European more than anything so he's lapping it up). Paltrow does nothing, McGregor does nothing and Bettany plays some cliched cockney tough guy who every now and then loses his cockney accent. Bettany's character babysits Depp's character so whilst Depp runs around like a fairy Bettany is beating bad guys up in a U rating kind of way.
Some of the locations are lavish and lovely looking, the movie on the whole is very glossy and slick, costumes are obviously highly expensive and tailor made and of course the cars are super duper. Its clearly trying to be a cross between 'The Pink Panther' with a dash of James Bond and maybe 'The Avengers' (60's version). The lead character as said is clearly a Terry-Thomas type chap who has bumbling inept Inspector Clouseau tendencies. Every now and then they might chuck out the odd swear word or adult sexual double entendre to try and spice things up a bit for the grown ups but then straight away the movie loses its target audience, which I'm guessing is youngsters?
The whole thing is absolutely dreadful from start to finish, there wasn't really any highlight I could think of. Its like you go back in time watching this, it feels like an early 90's movie. Honesty had this come out in the 90's I reckon it would have done OK, the entire movie is so dated, so out of touch with modern cinema even for a bad movie. What's worse and very evident is this was a factory line Hollywood cookie cutter product which was intended to kick start a franchise. Everything about it screams franchise bait, its sickening to watch. This is also proof that Mr Depp is in fact quite a limited actor who has actually been surviving off his quirky, eccentric performances for too long. His shtick has been well and truly milked and exhausted. Change your game Depp, you can't keep rolling out that one performance anymore.
Yes that's actually the abbreviation for the country of Austria you… MoreYes that's actually the abbreviation for the country of Austria you see above there, this movie was a collaboration between the US and Austria curiously enough. This was an extremely loose adaptation of the famous Dumas novel which has of course been adapted many many times now. In fact the reason this was so loose was mainly because it was following hot on the heels of the successful Kevin Costner movie 'Robin Hood Prince of Thieves'. It was (I believe) Disney's first rock n roll historical family flick with a made to measure hit rock song as the main theme to really lure in the young teenyboppers...and women.
Everything about this production was a big pre-planned, hopeful franchise and merchandise spewing machine, that might not sound too surprising these days but back in the early 90's it was. Movies weren't really handled like that back then, like they are now, but the wham-bam in your face, rock n roll, romance rollercoaster with Costner changed everything. Sure using rock tunage and not being historically accurate in movies wasn't new but somehow, with that mullet, and that American accent, Costner turned this concept into a near-guaranteed massive money spinner. Disney saw the chance and jumped on-board with this French period adventure, and what better way to top Costner than using the old brat pack of the 80's...well two of them.
Yep its errr...the young guns using swords and riding horses...again! Sheen and Sutherland team up with Oliver Platt who magically fits into this team beautifully. Along for the ride is the fresh faced Chris O'Donnell as D'Artagnan who actually does pretty well considering he's a pretty hokey actor truth be told. The entire movie hinges on the cast naturally, more so the main trio of Musketeers who, we the audience, have to like for this to take flight. Luckily the casting of Sutherland and Platt is inspired as they both are charming and highly likable in their roles, especially the chunky Platt. Sheen on the other hand doesn't quite fit the bill here and I'm not so sure how he got the call for this movie. Obviously reuniting of ye olde brat pack again...duh! maybe they wanted to get Emilio too? I can see what Disney wanted to do here and I applaud the effort, for it is a sweet idea, but Sheen just doesn't fit into 17th century France too well.
It really is so very obvious that Disney wanted to copy the success of 'Prince of Thieves', look at the bad guys. Good old Tim Curry chews up the scenery perfectly with his big eyes, red flowing attire and devilish goatee doing his best to try and beat Alan Rickman's dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham. But not only that, Disney really takes the biscuit by actually reusing the same actor for the main henchman role. Yes Michael Wincott played Guy of Gisborne in 'Prince of Thieves' and here he plays the main henchman Rochefort! Holy du pain Disney! at least try not to make it so clearly evident sheesh!
Never the less despite the blatant idea stealing the movie does look really good with decent production values all the way through. The scenery is stunning throughout with various locations used in the UK and Europe, the sets are amazingly lavish, highly detailed and very authentic looking, costumes look period perfect and again very authentic and weaponry, armour, horses etc...all look spot on. The movie does show how good Disney are at creating worlds, they don't skimp at all and it shows. They might be fast and loose with the facts and original source material but at least it always looks terrific and extremely atmospheric, so big kudos there.
As for the action, set pieces and generally 17th century hijinks...well its solid, its exciting for sure...but of course its dumb. Just like the Costner adventure and Disney's later Pirates of the Caribbean flicks the action can get a little out of hand which does spoil the atmos at times. I believe director Herek has clearly tried to copy (or maybe homage) the old Lester Musketeer movies (1973, 74 and 89) with plenty of sword fighting slapstick and stunt tomfoolery. Its not quite as goofy but you do have the obligatory bounding around, jumping off things, dueling on top of things...usually high places, dodging cannon fire, knocking people over with things, knocking people off horses with things, drunken jollifications and generally swinging around from objects. Its not horribly violent of course, no blood, no gore, but bad guys do get killed, you just don't see it or they edit away from the kill. Its that acceptable level of comicbook violence you'd expect from Disney and it works for the movie.
Alas the movie does lose impetus because they have played with the story a bit, changed some things, left stuff out and messed up here and there. One such minor but silly mistake I noticed was at the start when all the Musketeers resign their posts as Musketeers, they then proceed to burn their blue tunics. Then at the end of the movie as the Musketeers are summoned to fight they all somehow have their blue tunics back...but they burnt them, did they make new ones just in case they got their jobs back. Another glaring question mark was the fate of Cardinal Richelieu (Curry). The main trio of Musketeers rescue the King from the Cardinals boat, the Cardinal gets punched in the face, falls overboard, and...? That's the last we see of him, no clue if he drowned, went to jail, got executed, got away...nothing.
I'm sure by now you get the angle this movie is aiming for, the other movie examples clear that up. The whole entity is more of a fast food, factory assemble line product than an actual proper movie. The director and Disney clearly wanting to sell the romance, good looking boys n girls and light-hearted action rather than tell a proper solid story. End of the day...we all knew that, you could see it, you could smell it a mile off when it came out and you can still tell today. To that end it does at least do what it says on the tin, it offers fun thrills, heroes and villains and a good old fashioned sense of adventure which everyone can enjoy. It still can't beat the Richard Lester movies though, they were flippin' epic!
The original movie turned out to be a big success so the inevitable… MoreThe original movie turned out to be a big success so the inevitable sequel came along, this time they primarily went for an out n out spoof of 'Rambo III'. Most of the same cast members are back from the original in the same roles accept for Ryan Stiles who reappears again but as another character oddly (I guess we didn't see him properly in the first flick). As for the title...deux is obviously French for the number two, so was this suppose to be a funny alternative to simply having 'part 2'? bit lame.
So everything you got with the first movie you get all over again with this...accept this time the belly laughs are much greater and the visual tomfoolery is much better. The plot follows along the lines of 'Rambo III' with the obligatory changes and simplifications here and there, again this is a complete story and not just a collection of jokes or skits tied together. Once again its directed and written by Jim Abrahams so the quality is still on par with his previous offering.
The comedy angle in this movie is much more politically satirical in places with a slightly more grown up vibe. The film starts off with a brilliant sequence showing the dastardly Saddam Hussein (the 90's remember) getting ready for bed in his lavish palace. The entire scene is chock full of brilliant little visual gags, childish gags and some genuinely clever comedy, naturally it all ends in a farcical bit of slapstick but its all really well directed. Jerry Haleva who portrays Hussein really hams it up perfectly giving a great little dialog free performance whilst looking quite authentic. I watch today in amazement that they got away with such blasphemy, these days I'm sure there would be some nasty backlash.
From that sharp controversial lampooning we move onto the next big sequence involving the introduction of Sheen's character Topper. Topper is now a buffed up Buddhist living in a small Thai village where he fights for the sheer pleasure of manly violence. Here we see a quite ingenious fight sequence littered with many great visual moments such as Topper's candy coated hand wraps, Richard Crenna's pig snout sub with running mustard, a crowd member getting his head kicked off and the fight ref getting his head squashed between the two fighters flying kicks.
It sounds horrific at times and lets not beat around the bush there is some heavy Tom & Jerry style violence in here. But as before the effects are so cheap and tacky looking, so utterly ridiculous and hokey, its quite clear no one (including kids) is gonna be upset by anything here, its a complete cartoon once again. That's not to say the effects are purposely hokey everywhere, far from it, there are also some quite lovely little touches dotted throughout the picture. Who can forget the excellent freezing and shattering of Saddam ala 'T2', the enemy soldier splattered across the side of a hut and Saddam getting crushed under the grand piano. Some of the makeup effects are really nicely done too, clearly the budget for this was much beefier than before.
What did impress about this movie was how action packed it was, one exciting scene after another. The attack on the enemy camp as the plot reached its climax is probably the most iconic although the riverboat attack sequence was pretty sweet too. Sheen looks pretty darn good all buffed which was surprising really, he actually went to a lot of trouble to actually look ripped just for a stupid spoof. Anyhow this is where Sheen shines as he runs around this enemy camp doing a Schwarzenegger ('Predator' if anything) and gunning down hordes of armed soldiers without getting a scratch. The videogame high score text that pops up on screen telling us the body count and what other ultra violent adult movies the movie now equals and consequently tops, is totally inane but admittedly clever. I love how completely bonkers the action sequence gets trying to lampoon classic action set pieces...even to the point where Topper just grabs a handful of loose ammo and throws it at a bunch of enemy soldiers causing them to drop dead in overly theatrical ways. The action sequences in this movie literately lampoon the classic action man flicks to pieces...and it works.
Stand out performances again go to Bridges who just gets better as he goes, some of his scenes are fecking hilarious and the way he whips out some of his dialog is monumentally montorific! Richard Crenna has a small part but his send-up of his Rambo character is super sweet, love his prison cage escape scene with Sheen. I've also gotta throw out a kudos to the small role of the Iraqi Captain played by Greg Sierra. I loved his little performances, he looked the part and has some great facial expressions. He's the bad guy who Crenna's character spits at and a huge bucket load of water hits him in the face...brilliant stuff.
What I personally loved about this sequel was the fact that its crammed with so many little visual gags, there's lots going on both foreground and background, even more so than the original movie. Not only is there a lot of lampoonery going on its all of high quality, pretty much all of the jokes still hit their target even to this day. From the political jabs to the movie parodies to the out n out dumbass visual gags, like the now infamous bow and chicken firing scene. Even Rowan Atkinson in one of his first major film roles was pretty good. So yeah...I prefer this over the original any day of the week, its much funnier, wittier, visually more exciting, better effects and with much better in depth performances.
'We'll settle this the old Navy way, first guy to die...LOSES!'
Back in 1986 there was a movie called 'Top Gun', you might have heard… MoreBack in 1986 there was a movie called 'Top Gun', you might have heard of it, it did quite well. During casting the young Charles Sheen was considered for the main role in the movie (later taken by Cruise), his brother Emilio turned down the role! Well later on down the line we got this spoof which really does seem like Sheen's late audition for the real deal. Its odd because in a way you could actually see him in the role of Maverick, its not a stretch, and here you do feel he's making the best of it to show us all just that (my thoughts).
There have been many spoofs over the years but this franchise is generally considered to be one of the best alongside 'The Naked Gun' trilogy. Its of course no surprise that all the best spoofs have been written and directed (one or the other) by Jim Abrahams, the dude has a knack. Everyone knows the drill here, you can tell from the movie logo alone, as said the film sends up 'Top Gun' from start to finish whilst including the odd pot shots at various other movies. The difference with this movie unlike newer spoofs was the fact this actually had a proper story and mainly parodied one movie, it wasn't just a collection of silly skits.
The plot isn't entirely scene for scene the same as that Scott movie though, it differs of course but in general much is the same right down to the main soundtrack. Sheen plays the dark haired, good looking, brash young pilot Topper, his arch nemesis is the blonde haired, good looking, by the books Kent (Elwes), and they are both after the frizzy haired Ramada (Golino). I never really understood how Golino got this part because she isn't much of a looker in my view but hey. Other pilots are a cliched bunch highlighted by Jon Cryer as the near blind Pfaffenbach (he has wall-eye vision) but the stand out performer for the movie has to be Lloyd Bridges as Tug Benson. This guy nailed every scene he's in, he clearly knew how to perform comedy and it shows, his visual skills were just as good as his verbal skills. Bridges has to be one of the two best spoof comedy actors ever, the other being Leslie Nielsen.
The best thing about these movies was obviously the humour, some of it was childish, some of it clever and witty, yet at times some was also surprisingly adult. But it wasn't just the easy visual gags that made this hilariously smart, it was the hidden gems, the tiny visual nods n winks that you may have missed the first time around. The film has many (sort of) secret Easter eggs strewn throughout which some folks will pick up and others might not, depending on your country of origin and how much of a movie buff you are. Even now I can read about this flick and find things out I never knew. Of course other than that there are the blatant movie parodies and cheap slapstick gags that cater for all ages, some being very good with excellent levels of detail (Rocky sequence), others just being dumb and maybe even somewhat cringeworthy these days (Superman sequence).
Like most spoofs the movie is a product of its time with many gags, visual or otherwise, referencing issues of the time or current pop culture (of the time). Although this does still work to a degree it has waned over time which is to be expected. Its now very odd to think that Saddam Hussein was once such a threat and iconic figure...so to speak. So much time has passed since the 90's and the Gulf War it felt strange watching a movie where Saddam was the villain and parodied, not sure why but I guess because it doesn't seem that long ago and I was a young teen at the time. Its only watching now you realise...holy hummus! it was along time ago! Christ I'm old!
By the predictable finale the movie has well established itself as a solid spoof with some classic moments of comedy no doubt. The jet fighter aerial sequences are a clear montage of real footage, other movie footage and some highly dubious model work, but the film embraces the cheesiness with open arms. At no point does the movie try for spectacular effects, its all hokey as hell and looks like a cartoon, although there are some neat tricks to be seen. Personally I enjoy segments of this, some stuff works really well, others don't, back in the day I kinda felt the same truth be told. For me the movie heavily depended on the brilliance of Bridges' rubber-faced versatility and the small hints of Cryer, but overall its still a highly accurate spoof of the hefty testosterone infused 80's.
'you risked the lives of some damn fine pilots...and that's my job'
Back in the days when comicbook movie adaptations were generally… MoreBack in the days when comicbook movie adaptations were generally wankadoodle and shrugged off within days of release, we got this. The ultra sexy, ultra tough female Dark horse character that is a bar owner by day, umm...and a part time bounty hunter by day also, naturally all set within a war ravaged dystopian future Earth (2017 people! we're almost there!). Now I bet you're thinking I'm gonna say this movie changed the game and set comicbook movies on the right path...well you're wrong.
Now I knew nothing about the original Dark Horse character (still don't), like many at the time I only found out about her when this movie came out, after which there was a feverish scramble to find out more. Why you might ask, well its simple, this movie was basically a soft porn flick for Pamela Anderson (check wet strip tease at the films start), heck even the movies poster looked like a cheap porn flick image. Sounds crazy I know but back in the day Anderson was the biggest blonde bombshell since Marilyn Monroe (probably bigger) and this was her vehicle. Whether or not the movie followed the original comicbook source material I don't know but that simply didn't matter back then. This was a chance to squeeze Anderson into a skintight fishnet clad dominatrix outfit and have her gun down lots of faceless bad guys...with the odd bit of crotch crushing with her black thigh high leather boots (I'm actually turning myself on right now).
The plot...what plot?? this was all about sex guy! But seriously the plot kinda ripped-off the classic 'Casablanca' believe it or not. Set during the second American Civil war in the only free city of Steel Harbor, a former government scientist is trying to escape to Canada with the help of a freedom fighter. The reason being they have information on a secret new bio weapon in development by the Nazi-like Congressional Directorate (the bad guys that overthrew the old democracy and started the war). The only reason Barb Wire is involved is because she has these special contact lenses that enable people to pass through the Nazi's retinal scans which would allow the fugitive pair to escape the US. Thing is Barb is a bitch, she doesn't play by the rules and she's on no ones side, or is she? The plot is wafer thin, had Barb just cooperated at the start the movie would have been over very quickly, and there's no real reason for her not to cooperate frankly.
In typical 90's fashion this movie is visually just like all the other sci-fi action flicks of the 90's. You name it, 'Johnny Mnemonic' 'Freejack' 'Strange Days' etc...they all have a very similar bleak industrial future Earth vibe going on. Lots of steel structures usually battered or shiny, deserts, scrap yards, computer monitors everywhere, Mad Max-esque vehicles, skimpy outfits for females and generally in that typical barbaric apocalyptic setting. Yet despite its incredibly cheesy overused visuals I can't deny the film does look good for the most part. You could easily think this might be an early Michael Bay movie with all the glossy closeups of ass, sunsets, dust shots, gleaming metal, biker porn and glorious extreme usage of explosions and gun play. There are actually some nice shots here and there, some good use of sci-fi technology in an imaginative way and some well choreographed sequences. One gun battle between some thugs and Barb is actually quite decent, the gun shot sound effects are very effective with solid booms and thuds.
I must also give kudos to the fact that they went with an adult rated movie and kept everything nice and...errr adult. Lets be honest with someone looking like Pammy Anderson you could hardly make a PG-13...not with those perfectly large, fake, round boobs bursting from their tight restraints. Again I don't really know how accurate everything is here but the grimy, rain soaked, heavy metal, leather-bound biker theme is pretty prominent and who am I to say that is wrong. Sure its cliched and kinda redneck-ish but bugger me if Pammy doesn't fit in so well, she's the perfect blonde biker chick from hell and she does admittedly look stunning, slutty but stunning (slutty is good mkay).
All the acting is pretty terrible throughout from everyone involved obviously including Anderson, but we all know why she's here and its not for her thespian skills. A B-list of semi-famous character actors (for the time) make up the other characters, Xander Berkeley, Temuera Morrison, Steve Railsback and cult star Udo Kier who is easily the best thing here. Its actually funny watching all the male actors in this movie because I swear they're all doing their best manly swagger acting to try and impress Anderson, like moths to a light, not that I blame them. Berkeley especially seems to be trying some kind of Clint Eastwood impersonation half the time, the quickfire one-liners really don't help him either, its all very cringeworthy at times. Gotta admit Railsback is actually quite good as the Nazi-esque leader with his stormtroopers, clearly enjoyed chewing up the scenery with his evil snarls.
Things do go downhill towards the end I must say, all the stereotypical, steamy, neon lit bar/club scenes with goth rock chicks and bondage clad females was pretty darn sweet at the start. As the film climaxes it all gets too silly with stupid shoot-outs, a car chase and somehow all the characters ending up fighting at the top of a massive crane...can you guess how it might end? I'll be honest its not terrible, I've seen much worse, at least this film knows its a silly booty-fest for males to leer at and doesn't try to be anything else. In that sense the film does work, its lives up to expectations and gives you exactly what a comic/graphic novel would (in some cases), overblown violence and ass. Lets be brutally honest here, Anderson might not be the best actress but she certainly looks the part of a hardcore badass femme fatale, can't deny her that.
Much like 'Tank Girl' at no point was this movie ever really going for gold, you know what you're gonna get from it so you know what to expect. Being a fan of the source material might help but in general this was simply a movie for blokes to get hard watching Pammy Anderson kick ass in tight revealing attire, mission accomplished movie.
Don't you just love these old kooky horror pictures, look at this… MoreDon't you just love these old kooky horror pictures, look at this cast! Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone, three ghoulish tales with three epic stars. As I'm sure you all know this is one of Roger Corman's Poe movie adaptations that made up his eight movie series (give or take). Most of which all starred Price and a selection of the greatest horror icons of the silver screen.
The movie is narrated by Price and all three tales star Price...so its a Price vehicle then. After the admittedly pointless narration we kick off with 'Morella' with Price. A young woman travels home to see her father (Price) who dwells on his own within a dusty cobweb ridden mansion. The woman wants to reconcile with her father after many years of no contact, the reason being her mother died giving birth to her and her father has never forgiven her for it. In fact he kept the young girls dead mother in the bedroom where she died, a rotting corpse, as you do. As the pair slowly grow closer together over time events take a turn for the worst as the spirit of the dead mother comes back for revenge.
This entire story seemed totally ludicrous to me frankly. A woman dies giving birth to her daughter and blames the baby on her deathbed for her demise. I mean yeah sure the baby did cause it but that's not the babies fault sheesh. Then that child's father (Price) hates her for most of her young life because of it?! The ending is even more weird because I have no clue why the dead mother comes back from the dead and does what she does (kill her daughter and husband), I also have no real clue why the mothers resurrected body swaps places with her recently murdered daughter, and why they then swap back again once the husband is dead (Price). So the dead mother comes back from the dead and kills her daughter for revenge and kills her husband whom she loved very much for...? I don't know.
I loved the visuals in this short tale. I adored the old creaking mansion set on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea, the haunted house look with lush period interior decorations (whatever period it was). The whole atmosphere in this tale was perfectly creepy and just what you'd expect from this type of old fashioned spooky story, its just a shame the plot made no sense.
The second tale was 'The Black Cat' which also incorporated 'The Cask of Amontillado', this starred Peter Lorre alongside Price. Here we see the drunken loutish Herringbone (Lorre) who abuses his wife by taking all her hard earned money and spending every night at the local pub. After stumbling into a wine tasting event he meets up with and befriends Fortunato Luchresi (Price) a wine expert. Herringbone invites Luchresi back to his place for drinks but Luchresi falls for Herringbone's wife and the pair have an affair. Herringbone gets his own back by luring Luchresi once again to his place for drinks, drugs him and walls him up in the cellar with his wife.
Its called The Black Cat because Herringbone's wife has a black cat which Herringbone dislikes. In the end the cat gives his murderous game away but to be honest the cat doesn't actually feature much in the tale so it seems rather moot. This is the one story that is presented in a light-hearted way with silly humour. Both Lorre and Price really have a good time hamming it up something chronic, the best example being the brilliant wine tasting competition between the pair. Again there are so many plot holes and conveniences like how on earth Herringbone manages to get anything done when he's so utterly drunk. This short tale isn't exactly scary but more of a parody or spoof really, its a fun one.
Lastly its 'The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar' with Basil Rathbone. Price's character of Valdemar is dying from a disease, Mr Carmichael (Rathbone) alleviates his pain through hypnosis. Carmichael does this as Valdemar passes away which traps his soul between the world of the living and the dead, in limbo as it were. Valdemar begs Carmichael to release him so he can pass over completely but Carmichael will not...for some reason. In the end Carmichael tries to force Valdemar's wife into marriage but she is rescued by the rotting corpse of Valdemar...somehow.
Again the plot makes little sense with no proper explanations, it all just happens. This is probably the eeriest tale with Rathbone on fine form as the dastardly villain although I'm not really sure what his goal is here. He keeps Valdemar's soul trapped in limbo but I dunno why, dunno what he's trying to achieve. I'm not entirely sure if the hypnosis was meant to ease Valdemar's death or prevent it because when he does die everyone acts as though something has gone wrong. No clue how Valdemar's soulless rotting shell of a corpse manages to spring to life and save his wife from Carmichael either but hey ho.
All in all I enjoyed this little anthology of horror, it wasn't scary or overly eerie but it was a barrel of high spirits. Some fantastic period set visuals with costumes and set details, some lovely old hokey special effects and hands-on practical makeup work and of course the three legendary movie icons. Probably one of the better anthologies I've seen mainly for visuals, its let down by the weak stories which other anthologies (Amicus) easily trump.
I kinda see this as a companion piece to the earlier British comedy… MoreI kinda see this as a companion piece to the earlier British comedy 'Still Crazy', or they could exist in same universe at least. As for the title I think the US version is much better really, the original UK title is a bit of a mouth full, mind you other Euro versions are quite radical also. In France its called 'Good Morning England' which is quite the rip-off frankly, in Germany its 'Radio Rock Revolution' and in Italy its 'I Love Radio Rock'. So all in all this movie has the most title changes ever it seems...all of which are actually better than the original UK one I think.
The quaint little story here is straight forward, back in the 60's rock and pop was frowned upon by the stale old crusty stiff upper lipped British government. A government that is still clearly set in the 50's and wasn't ready or willing to accept the free flowing hippie movement and its drastic changes. During this time pirate radio stations were set up to play tunage that was considered not cricket, but to avoid British law these musical rebels set up shop in the North Sea away from land-set restrictions and out of reach. Although inspired by real pirate radio stations of the time this fictional story sees a group of ragtag DJ's on a rusty old trawler blasting the UK with dangerous rock n roll. At the same time the dastardly Kenneth Branagh and his sidekick are trying their upmost to shut them down.
The plot is actually quite similar to 'Still Crazy' with the basic premise of a young man joining a group of older men to go on a wild immature adventure of sorts. In 'Still Crazy' a young man joins the band, here a young man joins the radio crew, both films focusing on all of the characters giving us multiple subplots. As you can imagine all of these little character driven stories revolve around the simple issues of sex, booze, relationships, having a good time and battling against the establishment. Each character has their own little quirk that is pretty predictable and highly cliched in a typically rude crass British kind of way, nothing wrong with that of course, you expect it right from the start but its seen in virtually every British comedy.
Apparently you simply cannot make a British comedy without Bill Nighy and here he plays the same type of rigid character yet again. Rhys Ifans plays another slimy creepy generally unlikable character, Nick Frost plays...errr...the fat bloke...again, and then pad out the rest with various familiar faces which most Brits will recognise in some form or another but everyone else won't. The only real breath of fresh air in this cast is Hoffman as the rebellious brash US DJ which gives the film a sense of 'Good Morning Vietnam' vs traditional British toilet humour...at times.
The establishment that is trying to ruin everyone's fun is played in its entirety by Kenneth Branagh, a strict headmaster-esque government minister who thinks rock n roll is corrupting young minds. His sidekick played by Jack Davenport is surprisingly not a half wit as you might expect but a clever devious subordinate who digs up legal loopholes. Together these two make a reasonably fun pair of bad guys (not really bad of course) and do offer most of the entertainment character wise. Sure it might have been cliched to make them a bumbling pair of Laurel and Hardy types but maybe that might have worked in the films favour? None the less Branagh plays the sniveling jobsworth suit to a tee with his grovelling to the Prime Minister. Alas they did let everything down by naming Davenport's character Twatt...a totally lame and unfunny gag that seems rather childish, they couldn't think of anything better than that?!
By now I'm sure most of you must know what to expect with a comedy like this, all the usual Brit gags visual or otherwise, like I said its the same spiel in all UK comedy flicks (with almost the same cast). Being based on pirate radio of course this means the sexual innuendo gags are through the roof! add to that lots of frat house-like tomfoolery, soppy lovin' and a brief spot of nudity. What can I say, its silly and infantile but its still a good, warm-hearted relaxing flick with a solid soundtrack and a surprisingly semi-emotional finale. Its just not as funny as you'd like it to be.
Ah Spawn, we all know and love this McFarlane creation don't we. The… MoreAh Spawn, we all know and love this McFarlane creation don't we. The ex-assassin back from the dead as a demonic hellspawn (from hell) armed to the teeth with weapons and with a living suit that is able to metamorphosis into virtually anything that is required at any given moment...handy. His world is dangerous, dark, grimy, violent, savage, chaotic, vicious and bloodthirsty. He has battled thugs, drug dealers, pedophiles, murderers, the KKK and various creatures from the bowels of hell.
If there is any comicbook character that is definitely not for young kids then this is it. Could this comicbook character be anymore badass? the material screams out for a solid ultra violent adult movie adaptation. How could anyone even consider the notion of making a PG-13 out of this graphic splatter fest! ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!..bahaha!..haha...hehe...ahem...oh.
I quite liked this despite many problems with the movie. Unfortunately this characters outing has aged badly showing some horrendous early CGI effects which will shock you. The visuals are generally decent at times, like the comic its very dark, gothic and grim, but its also very obviously filmed on sets and looks a bit fake. Sure the cold night rain comes down in sheets whilst the mist swirls as Spawn leaps around in his fantastic looking living suit...but you need more than that. The other fantasy based creatures are also well created, Clown especially...very dark, humorous and quite chilling. Leguizamo played him brilliantly swinging from reasonably placid too nasty, vicious and perverted in the bat of an eyelid. Best thing about the film easily, kudos.
The Violator is also pretty cool looking in a life size model form yet like a lot of the film the CGI version is pretty lame and ruins it. CGI is a problem with this film as its drenched in it, almost everything is CGI and frankly not much is any good. Jesus Christ even the opening credits are rendered in hokey-ass looking CGI! you can tell back in 97 CGI was the new toy.
On the whole the CGI ranges from excellent on Spawns cape, to poor videogame type visuals on most other things. Hell being the worst with a terrible looking Malebolgia and very plain unexciting looking backdrops, it looks like a student created it at home. The whole thing is very amateurish looking these days it really is, heck even back in the day it didn't come across that well. What's laughable if you look closely is all the legions of Hellspawns are clearly on some kind of animated loop as they all do the same action in the background! Its so obviously the same actor replicated a gazillion times, seriously poor.
The best CGI is probably the work done on Spawn's mask, apart from his cape that is. The small sequences where we see his living suit/mask slide and form over his burnt face is still pretty slick even to this day. Sure his eyes look a bit too big and green but on the whole his mask does look the business. The fact its wet really gives it a living vibe, as though its pulsating, its one of things that does work in this movie.
The acting is hammy with a slight serious edge, but in general its very cheesy. Sheen chews up the scenery and seems to enjoy himself whilst Jai White seems to be going for broke possibly after more comicbook roles. Clearly not expecting much here but this is suppose to be a dark violent franchise, lets try and be somewhat realistic and less camp huh. This film yearns to be harder and more violent (like the comic, what a waste), it is dark brooding and Crow-like for sure but its so watered down its quite painful.
Despite that there is this uneasy feeling throughout where you're not too sure which way the film wants to go. Is it really for a wider audience? is it maybe more for adults? certain scenes seem quite risky and close to the bone but then at the same time its all so docile with no real visible violence or blood, realistic or otherwise. It gives the film an unbalanced feel because its lost somewhere in the middle which will leave both sides of the equation not enjoying the film. Like other similar comicbook franchises they must decide which way they wanna take it, its gotta be for kids or not, simple as that.
Despite that it does have a certain charm which appeals to me, its dark Batman-esque world with hellish creatures and brooding anti heroes still manages to be enjoyable. Spawn being a very likeable character, Wynn is also suitably creepy and Bishop is changed to a female for some reason but pretty hot with some nice gun/blade action. Add some relatively decent action sequences which are kinda fun in a tame kinda way and you can almost get some enjoyment outta this. At least there's a solid thumping soundtrack to be had.
I still wonder what could of been, what it could of achieved had it been made for adults as it should of been. Visually its pleasing if you like this kind of thing (in general), there is just enough comicbook sleaze here to get your teeth into and it still beats 'Ghost Rider' any day of the week.
Again its another title that doesn't really come across too well for… MoreAgain its another title that doesn't really come across too well for me, is there a reason behind this? I'm guessing there must be because on its own it sounds a bit weak honesty. So back in 1976 (two years before I was created) there were these two F1 drivers. James Hunt a good looking, blonde haired, blue eyed aristocratic British playboy type, and Niki Lauda, a dark curly haired not too good looking Austrian. This is a biographical about their roots in racing and mainly the 1976 F1 season which was a face-off between the two, never mind the rest of the field, it was all about these two.
It all kicks off in the UK in Crystal Palace Park, South London where both men are are already at each others throats in F3 racing. This is where we meet up with both drivers and find out what cliched caricatures they really are. This is a true story yet its amazing how comicbook-esque these blokes were, complete polar opposites. Hunt is good looking with his flowing blonde locks, he's brash, arrogant, always up for a bit of fisticuffs plus he smoked and drank, a complete wildcard. On the other hand Lauda was the stereotypical cold, calculating, precise Germanic opponent that could easily be seen as the Dick Dastardly of the story. Seriously you couldn't have written it any better really, the only similarity was the fact both men came from wealthy backgrounds so you don't have the rags to riches tale here.
We follow the duo as they both enter F1, Hunt with via his small racing team Hesketh and Lauda buying his way in eventually joining Ferrari. After a brief problem trying to enter the 76 F1 season when Hesketh closes down due to no sponsor and Hunt having to join McLaren...the heat is on. The season plays out race by race (almost) with both drivers virtually neck and neck (kinda) to its climatic finale and of course including the horrendous accident that Lauda suffered in Nurburgring.
I will be honest right off the bat here, I have no interest in F1 or anything similar to that, although I am a bit of a car man, but mainly Japanese super saloons. So I went into this expecting to be rather bored, how wrong could I have been! The onscreen chemistry between Hemsworth and Bruhl is crackling, every time they bump into each other I was sucked into their world, I wanted to know more yet I don't know why. Its not like I understood everything they were talking about, I'm not a petrolhead, but it was all so exciting and dare I say...manly.
I mean seriously...Hunt was a man's man, a true roguish daredevil and its infectious, Hemsworth just about portrays that trait well enough to make you wanna leap into an F1 car and blaze away. Although from what I've read it seems the movie has tamed this larger than life personality down a tad, plus his voice was off the mark alas. I kinda think Hemsworth may have gotten his part down to the fact he is simply blonde and a hot ticket right now in all honesty, something inside me thinks if they had looked a bit harder and used an unknown it might have been better.
I also must give major kudos to Bruhl for his portrayal as Lauder, the perfect foil to Hunt. I loved how Bruhl did seem to capture Lauda's voice, that stout proper Germanic accent with a slight lisp, very impressive and hard work I'm sure. Bruhl also looked very much like the real deal with his curly hair and the infamous slightly protruding front teeth of Lauda. Its really amazing how similar he looks to the man himself, it really sets the tone and mood for the movie.
What really impresses is the movies visuals, right from the start in 1970 everything is faithfully recreated with real cars used throughout. Its really something to see all the old outfits, advertisements, company logos, racing strips and colours, vehicles, track details and of course the classic F1 cars. I fully remember seeing F1 cars with cigarette advertising liveries on them, the old red and white Marlboro, the all black and gold John Player Special, then of course all the classic petrol/oil logos like Shell, Mobil and Elf etc...a real blast from the past and very much enjoyed. On top of that the race sequences were highly engaging and thoroughly exhilarating (I didn't know who won what so even better), everything looked really authentic, really realistic and very well produced, I can't fault anything.
There is never really a moment where I wasn't completely...for lack of a better word...engaged! Despite Hunt seemingly coming across as the good guy in the story that aspect switches from scene to scene. Sometimes Hunt is clearly the man and Lauda is too much of an obsessed rude dick, thinking of racing as more of a meticulous job. Sometimes you feel for Lauda being the more insecure, less attractive, more lonely guy whilst Hunt is showing off for the cameras being an ass. It totally swings in roundabouts which is interesting but ultimately they both played off each other to raise their games, to get better, they ultimately need each other, and of course neither one is the bad guy. Sure there are some moments that are inaccurate such as Hunt beating up a reporter, but again on the other hand there is much here that is very accurate such as Lauda's near-fatal crash.
So yes I'm going there, its happening, I'm giving this sports biopic a full on perfect score. I totally and utterly recommend this even if you don't follow F1 or even like cars, I don't follow F1 but I found it absolutely riveting. A classy super fast super slick British 'Top Gun' with tyres type flick, corking stuff old chap. Now I await the same excellence for motorcycle world champion Barry Sheene, F1 world champion Nigel Mansell and of course daredevil Evel Knievel.
Have you heard of Errol Flynn? well I should hope so. The title of… MoreHave you heard of Errol Flynn? well I should hope so. The title of this film of course refers to his classic 1938 Curtiz directed swashbuckler 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' which he is probably most remembered for. Alas this is not a biographical surrounding those good old days but the last days of his life which he spent in financial difficulties and dogged by accusations of rape due to his relationship with the much younger Beverly Aadland.
Unfortunately old Errol was too much of a ladies man and it got him into trouble, trouble which admittedly he managed to dodge relatively well for the most part. To this day he is still seen as the ultimate swashbuckler, the dashing handsome rogue with a gleaming smile, slick back wavy hair and that period fashionable pencil thin tash. And he was just that for the best part of his career, a leading Hollywood action man, ladies man, a man's man, he smoked and he drank but that was all part of the suave debonair glitzy Hollywood image. In his later years he ran into money troubles due to bad luck in Hollywood, mainly his unfinished movie 'The Story of William Tell'. His particular brand of movies had become old hat as public taste changed after WWII and added to that he was in bad health from excessive drinking and smoking.
Flynn had been accused of rape before in the 40's but was acquitted, none the less this didn't help his movie career and overall image. The relationship with Aadland during in final years only made things worse really despite the fact she loved Flynn and they were seen as a couple. This film picks up at the time of Errol's death when the press were all over the story trying to splatter his highly controversial last affair across the headlines. With Flynn now gone and unable to defend himself the press came down on Aadland digging for a scoop whilst her mother was seen as encouraging the whole affair...for monetary reasons of course. From there we go back a couple years as the story is told in a flashback leading to the current event, an overused concept if you ask me.
We do indeed learn that Aadland's mother was very much a part of her relationship with Flynn, at first very happy and naturally flattered by it all, then realising Flynn's actual intentions but deciding to pretty much ignore it and carry on. Whether everything we see in this film is actually honesty truthful I don't know, I assume facts have been uncovered and the truth is being exposed...in a relatively tame way of course. The film does seem to skim across the surface of reality to be honest, it did feel like large gaps in the affair were left out, purposefully or not I don't know. On one hand this film wants to give an accurate portrayal of a legend but on the other it also felt like they still wanted to keep things pleasant, as if they didn't really want to tarnish this silver screen star because he was so damn likeable. I mean come on, who doesn't love good old Errol and his sword twirling antics.
The story is the main aspect of a movie like this but the cast is possibly even more important, mainly the man to play Errol. Sure if you like Flynn then a film about his life, whether good or bad, is gonna excite you, but how well the lead actor can portray Flynn is probably the most important and interesting factor here. I think it was obvious that Kevin Kline would play this part, many a time in the past I have looked at Kline with his clear well spoken voice and that little tash he often has and thought he is the epitome of a classic old fashioned Hollywood star. I think we can all agree Kline has always had that pompous swashbuckling presence about him and he is perfect as an aged Errol Flynn...visually at least.
OK so its not gonna be easy to try and replicate that slight Aussie twang but at least Kline has a good voice to start with, problem is his performance is kinda hammy. That's not all his fault of course as the dialog is pretty darn hokey at times, trying to recapture Flynn's charming ways and of course the time period. Its not a bad performance per say but it just seems more like a parody at times, he has the smiles, grins, leers and winks down to a tee but after a time it feels kinda creepy, its all he has, all he can do, and it feels more like a spoof. Sarandon as Aadland's mother is solid but tends to come across as a twitching wacko murderer just waiting to explode at any moment, like a character out of a Stephen King novel. Lastly Dakota Fanning as the all important Beverly Aadland is probably the best thing here, she looks the part and you can really feel her emotional dilemma, maybe even relate to it, but despite the fact the plot is all about her it seems underwritten for the character.
To look at you'd think this was a TV movie frankly, it doesn't feel like a big production movie which was clearly trying to be an Oscar contender. Visually it looks fine with good authenticity abundant...the vintage cars, interior decor, outfits of the time etc...but it doesn't blow you away, its nothing special, nothing you haven't seen before. Heck 'The Wonder Years' actually looked better than this at times. I did like the tiny shots of 50's New York, real footage boosted with a dab of CGI I think and colour enhancement which looked nice.
The problem with this film is the fact they tend to gloss over the fact that Flynn did in fact rape Aadland when they first met, apparently. Yes she fell in love with him over time and they became a couple but that doesn't really ignore the fact that the movie is saying Flynn did force himself on Aadland, which in turn makes you think he probably did it previously to others. Of course times were different, attitudes were different and you can't really get around that but there should have been some recognition of what happened. The film makes it out to be Flynn merely seducing her with his flashy smile and charms, a simple little bump at the start of their relationship.
The film can't decide whether it wants to be a brutally honest direct biopic or a soft and cuddly love letter to a screen legend. In the end they seem to show what really happened (apparently) but don't take it seriously, there is more of a sentimental vibe going on yet at the same time the film isn't really a happy one. For the most part its mainly about Aadland's mother pushing her daughter into the arms of a very rich and famous aging movie star (ignoring the age issue) so she can reap the benefits. Its a jumbled piece that starts off OK but soon deteriorates into a pretty sad downhearted affair that ends on a dejected note.