Thursday, 9 August 2012

Volcano (1997)

Tommy Lee Jones is in charge of disaster management in Los Angeles and Anne Heche is a Geologist and they are thrown together when under Los Angeles an undiscovered Volcano comes through in the middle of rush hour. They then have to join forces to see if using all of the resources at their finger tips they can save the city and the people they love. This is very much a big budget disaster film that would have normally been shown on SyFy but director Mick Jackson had some big name actors to work with and a half decent budget.

I enjoy this film, however it a disaster film, it has many points that are cheesy and predictable, from the racist policeman and the black man that bang heads, to Tommy Lee’s Daughter played by Gaby Hoffmann who you know is going to end up in trouble as that is where her character is always going to end up. The bomb experts at the end that make the ultimate sacrifice and then there are the comments about everybody looking the same. Clunky metaphors thrown in to a film that are not needed, it tries to be gritty but ultimately fails.

Now with all the complaining and whinging out of the way I think that there is still an element of enjoyment about this film, the characters are not overly developed and those you expect to survive do and there are enough deaths and injuries and people doing the right thing to make it an enjoyable enough disaster movie, I do understand what it is about and just enjoy it, overall a 7 out of 10 worth watching for me. 

Bird on a Wire (1990)

From director John Badham comes the romantic comedy starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn. Mel Gibson plays Rick Jarmin who was put in the witness protection programme years earlier and rumbled when his old flame Goldie Hawn recognises him. Then the chase ensues as the people he put in prison discover he is still about and they start chasing him and Goldie Hawn to pay him back for what he did. The bad guys are played by Bill Duke and Stephen Tobolowsky so comic and dark.

You follow them as they go on the run and Mel heads to all of the places that he has been posted and you get the picture of the perfect guy that everybody loves and that he is the most useful person most of the people he has ever worked with know. Which of course leads Goldie Hawn to forgive him and the films climax in the Zoo is actually quite exciting, there are a few good laughs and apart from thinking that how did Mel Gibson have enough time to be so good with so many people the characters and story are a lot of fun.

This film is funny, sweet and for me enjoyable, there are the usual flaws in films like this with a bit of believability but you can get over that and go with the action. You actually hope that it works out for them as they are likeable characters. This is above average for me as there is actually nothing to really dislike about the film so a comfortable 6 out of 10 for me.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Clear and Present Danger (1994)

Harrison Ford is Jack Ryan straight from the pages of the books by Tom Clancy, this is a follow up to Patriot Games. It sees Jack Ryan involved in looking at the drugs coming from Columbia and as he has to take on a more senior role within the CIA he becomes involved with the president. Including the fact that he starts to realise he can influence policy within the government. I have not read any of the Jack Ryan books and not considered the films as a proper series, especially as you have 3 actors having now played Jack Ryan and all of the films have been produced out of order.

With Willem Dafoe as an operative in Columbia with Benjamin Bratt and Raymond Cruz. With Henry Czerny and Harris Yulin playing a different game that Jack has to go in and sort it out. The politicians allow and sign off on a war on the drug cartels and then when the heat comes up they leave the soldiers hanging and Jack runs off to save them. It is all very action packed and exciting and there are quite a few plots running through the film and you have to pay attention so you know what everybody is up to.

This is a fun packed film with lots of good acting and plenty of explosions for the boys; I think there is too much going on and this probably has a lot to do with the size of The Tom Clancy books and the difficulty in trying to condense them in to a two hour film. Overall an enjoyable film and should been seen as a 7 out of 10. 

Patriot Games (1992)

From the pen of Tom Clancy, directed by Philip Noyce comes the Harrison Ford portrayal of Jack Ryan. On holiday in London Jack is on hand when an IRA splinter group lead by Sean Bean tries to kidnap a member of the royal family. Jack gets involved and kills one of the attackers while killing the younger brother of Sean Bean. He is shot during the melee and when he is fit goes home and after the rest of the splinter group see there way to getting Sean Been out of prison the terrorism comes home for Jack Ryan.

I have not read any of the Tom Clancy books but after this film I am tempted to give them a go as they are full of action but try and keep some form of realism. Even if the realism is an extreme and could be considered paranoia and if all true is actually quite scary with terrorists in camps knowing when the satellites are supposed to be going overhead. This level of control, knowledge and the power of the attacks is extreme but makes for some good stories, might read the books and see how they compare to the films.

This film is enjoyable and has some good actors with Harrison Ford facing off against Sean Bean and the two of them playing excellent parts. With support from Anne Archer, Patrick Bergin and an early outing for Thora Birch, Samuel L Jackson and James Earl Jones give this a solid American feel as well. I really liked this film, the message and threat is now out of date but overall is still a fun Terrorist based action adventure film and a 7 out of 10 for me.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Amelia (2009)

Hilary Swank as the famous female pilot Amelia Earhart, this is the biopic of her rise to stardom and eventual final voyage. You have Richard Gere as her agent and eventually her husband and you follow their relationship as much as Amelia wanting to fly and achieve for women everywhere what she did. With a support cast of Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor this is quite a strong cast for a film that did not really hit my radar when it came out.

I am not a fan of biopic films that chart the lives of real people as you know where it is going and therefore it is about the journey rather than the destination and I think that many film makers find it hard to achieve this in an interesting and meaningful way. I have to be honest and say I knew with a passing reference the name of Amelia Earhart and what happened to her at the end but had no knowledge about her rise to fame and this film did not ignite my interest to find out more. While I appreciated that she struggled to find a place in what was and still is a male dominated world there was nothing in this portrayal that made me think, wow, what are they not telling us or showing us.

The acting in this is fine, I am not a fan of Hilary Swank but she was believable as a strong minded woman who finds her passion and from other portrayals she was very different so shows she can change what and who she is on screen but there was no charisma there for me. Nothing drew me to her and how and why she and Richard Gere ended up together was a mystery that I could not fathom out other than that was what happened. The rest of the acting and the effects were fine and it is 5 out of 10 but I cannot recommend this to you, unless you love the main actors or the story of Amelia Earhart.

Wild Wild West (1999)

Firstly I have absolutely no attachment to any of the previous Wild Wild West TV series or comics or anything that came before the film. So I can only go on what was put on screen by director Barry Sonnefeld with Will Smith as James West, Kevin Kline as Artemus Grant, Salma Hayeck as Rita Escobar and Kenneth Branagh as the evil Dr Arliss Loveless. Now I can accept that a Steam-punk Wild West is perhaps not what the original series was envisioning but I liked what they did. West and Grant have to track down Loveless who is holding the American Government to ransom as he has developed new technology.

The story is very much in to the comedy and a bit of slapstick and there is some chemistry between Smith and Kline and they start in the position of disliking each other and through the progression they come to appreciate each others virtues and they probably still do not like each other. The technology is believable in the context of what the film is aiming for and being able to see this and disconnect the sensible from your brain allows you to still enjoy this film.

Overall I can appreciate the fact that many people do not like this film and from what I have heard especially those people that remember the original and view this as an abomination of what the original series was going for. Overall though I can admit that I enjoyed watching this and would recommend it if you are looking for some light hearted comedy a comfortable 6 out of 10.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Assassins (1995)

Sylvester Stallone is a hired Assassin in the film written by the Wachoski's and directed by Richard Donner. He is number one in his profession, you join him taking a mark out in to the swamp, another professional he has been tasked with killing. You have Antonio Banderas a younger Assassin who knows Sylvester Stallone is number one and he wants to be number one. You have Julianne Moore a hacker that comes between them as a target and from there the story unfolds as Stallone realises what she has and decides to use it to get out of the business.

The film comes to a conclusion outside a small white bank in a tropical location and it is strange finish as Stallone knows what will happen as it is a similar situation that he previously went through when he took the number one spot. Now this is an interesting story but he knows what is going to happen so well and can tell exactly what Banderas is going to do I don’t know why he did not make more sure of what he was trying. Thinking about the end of the film it was not very clear and while gripping in a tension filled way too much thought about how they do it makes it seem silly.

This film is enjoyable enough to watch and appreciate a couple of the gun fights but it is not high entertainment and is typical 90’s Stallone action driven fare. Would only recommend to people who enjoy this sort of film and think that from my brief description you will know if it is for you or not. Overall this is a 5 out of 10 film, not worth going out of your way to get but worth seeing especially for free.

Passenger 57 (1992)

A strange title for a film that barely tells you what the film is about and simply relates to the fact that Wesley Snipes is the 57th person that the stewardess played by Alex Dachter reaches when counting how many passengers are on her flight. The film opens with Wesley Snipes leading a training course as an air marshal and Alex Dachter disarms him and he is upset as he presumes she is not taking the whole thing seriously.

It moves to the fact that they end up on the same flight and this flight also has Charles Rane creepily played by Bruce Payne being transported by the FBI on the same flight. It turns out his men do not want him to be taken where he is going so hijack the flight and then Wesley being the hero feels he has to try and intervene and save the day. With a supporting cast including Tom Sizemore, Elizabeth Hurley, Bruce Greenwood and Robert Hooks. This is an enjoyable action flick from the early 90’s when you had a lot of terrorist plots and it is a good example of this. It has plenty shooting and fighting and also gives Wesley a chance to show what he can do.

I have seen this film many times and it is a really good film to just switch your brain off and enjoy. I really appreciate Charles Rane he is truly creepy and he knows how to manipulate the local law enforcement agencies he is forced to deal with. Overall this is nothing special however it is very enjoyable and I give it a solid 7 out of 10 recommend if you have never seen it.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Godfather: Part 2 (1974)

The second film the trilogy from Francis Ford Coppola and the first sequel to win the best Picture Oscar, as you will see from my review of part 1, earlier today. I am not the biggest fan of the original, so I had been told that watching the second part would make the whole film make sense and fall into place for me. You follow the continuing story of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone as he continues to run the family business moving more towards Vegas and illegal drugs.

In part two you also get Don Vito Corleone’s early story as you follow Robert DeNiro playing a young Don as he comes to America and starts his empire. This film is very much in the same line as the first part and I can believe that there is a version where both films have been edited and run together and I can imagine that they would work perfectly well. I have to say that the film making is excellent, the acting is fine with all of the cast returning but the story did not engage me. Yet one of my favourite films is Goodfellas and I love the idea behind the Gangster genre I can only presume that I am missing something, perhaps it is the hype and expectation that I am missing.

Overall disappointed that this film is not as good as I expected but unsure how to feel, am I wrong? Or is everybody else wrong? Have people just bought in to the fact that many people say it is the greatest film in the world or have I seen to many films that makes me view it as a copy when in fact it was an original? Who knows, I know that at some point I will watch these again as it baffles me as usually I do enjoy the classics but at the moment this is a 6 out of 10 for me.

The Godfather (1972)

The classic gangster film from the 70’s based upon the book by Mario Puzo it follows the Corleone family, starting at the wedding of the daughter where you get to meet all the family from the Father played by Marlon Brando to the boys played by James Caan as Sonny and Al Pacino as Michael with Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen. You follow the family as Don Vito Corleone makes offers to people that they cannot refuse while he does the business.

This is considered by many as one of the greatest films of all time, it reaches the top spot in many of the countdowns of greatest films of all time. I have to be honest, this is the second time I have watched this film and it must be the hype as I really enjoyed it but failed to see how it can be considered such a classic. I was very disappointed and feel I must have missed something and would really like someone to explain why it is so great.

I have the second part to watch and maybe as someone said this will complete why these films are considered some of the greatest films of all time. Well enough of my uncultured ranting about the greatest film of all time. I did enjoy it and would recommend that everybody sees it, I will have to revisit my thoughts after seeing the second part but at the moment this is a solid 6 out of 10 for me.

Would really appreciate people putting me right on this as I feel I am missing something and even though I did enjoy it I feel let down by it. 

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007)

The 2007 follow up to the remake of the Wes Craven horror film that this time follows a group of trainee soldiers as they are on a training mission in the area occupied by the family that took care of the family from the first film. I have not seen the sequel to the original film that came out in 1985 and do not know if this is a remake of that or a straight sequel to the 2007 film which I reviewed here.

This film is annoying, the characters are stupid and I have no idea how any of them got to be in the army at all. There are very few names you will recognise and to me it is just another sequel/remake/horror film churned out for the cash that it might generate. You have Michael McMillan, Jessica Stroup, Jacob Vargas, Flex Alexander, Daniella Alonso basically playing generic roles that include the clown, the chief and the girl that is tough as nails but not really. Even though they are aware what is happening they still make stupid decisions that lead to problems for themselves.

This film is barely worth watching, perhaps some of the kills are inventive if a bit predictable, but I could not remember the following day that I had seen this film when asked what I had watched at the weekend which sums up how bad it was. Now the effects and direction were okay but apart from that and a few scenes there was nothing worth watching this film for at all, well that I can remember. So this is a 2 out of 10 seriously avoid from me.

Enter the Dragon (1973)

The Bruce Lee classic Kung Fu film which sees Bruce Lee go to the island of Han to participate in the tournament he runs. He is there to avenge his sister who was killed by Han. He is joined in the tournament by Jim Kelly and John Saxon and they are all there for their own reasons. This film is iconic for the fight scenes even from the start when the sister is being attacked right through to the end of the film when your heroes are fighting the foot soldiers. Then when Bruce is fighting the boss at the end, it plays a bit like a computer game from the 80’s, this is the first American Produce Martial arts film.

This is one of those iconic films that many people have heard of and I think that films in this category get a greater sense of hype. Well if everybody has heard of it and everybody likes it then surely it must be the greatest film ever made. Unfortunately whether it is the hype or expectation, very few films in this category live up to the expectations of the pop culture, however this film is awesome and I struggle to even say why. Bruce Lee famous for dying young and from being too fit, most likely a heart attack but he was dedicated and this film produces the most famous images of him and I was actually really surprised as he is actually a very good actor. This film is like a kung fu James Bond film with an Oriental twist and was probably aiming towards competing with the James Bond Franchise.

I really enjoy this film, thinking about it to hard I cannot really figure it out, other than the fact the story is good vs evil, the evil overlord is a true Bond villain crossed with Bond evil henchman and he has an army that attack one at a time. Really now it is quite cheesy but I loved it and cannot recommend it highly enough and would really like to know if anyone else feels the same way that I do. So in scoring this I am going to have to settle for 8 out of 10 for the kung fu fighting alone.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Carry on up the Khyber (1968)

If you have never seen a Carry On film then you need to sort this out and if you have to pick one apart from Carry on Screaming I cannot think of a better film than Carry on Up the Khyber. Starring all the stalwarts of the Carry On Series you have Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Angela Douglas and Roy Castle. This film is based in British India during the height of the British Empire and some of the locals want to get rid of the British Soldiers lead by the Fearless Kilted Third Foot and Mouth Division.

The Carry On series was a staple of the British Film scene in the 60’s and 70’s and still holds up today. They were some of the first films that took the mickey out of certain stereotypes and other film genres leading to the common spoof film. This film in particular explores the British Stiff Upper lip and also the fact that the British like their tea and do not like to be disturbed in their daily routine.

The Carry On films themselves are from a time, everything is double entendres and cheeky humour but it is a classic series and this film is one of the better examples. The series itself is very much a taste thing and I know many people that just think they are silly and not very good but overall I think they are easy watching and enjoyable especially if you know the references. For Carry on Up the Khyber I give it 7 out of 10.

Rits, Sue and Bob Too (1987)

From 1987 comes a British comedy about life in Britain, you follow Bob played by George Costigan who as an affair with his babysitters Rita played by Siobhan Finneran and Sue played by Michelle Holmes. This film shows a harsh light on 80’s Britain with the state of the urban landscape and the attitudes of the characters. It follows Rita and Sue as they discuss what they want from life and how they can go about getting it and follows the three main characters as their relationship develops. Also there is a look at their home lives.

This film is actually really funny; the sex in the car scene always sticks in my mind, especially Bob’s reaction at the end of it. The acting is quite good though I do not believe the actresses only being of school age but apart from that they were all really good in the roles that they were in. Written by Andrea Dunbar and directed by Alan Clarke this is an interesting look at 80’s Britain, very similar feel to The Full Monty but actually from that time.

I really enjoyed this film though I am not the biggest fan of British films from the 80’s I feel they date to quickly, probably as I can actually remember the 80’s. This film is only really dated by the fashion and the cars everything else could still be from last year, overall this is a 7 out of 10 film, well worth seeing.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

The second in the Lethal Weapon films, sees Murtagh and Riggs back together again as partners, this time investigating South Africans. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, one of the best cop buddies are back in a film that takes what the original created and moves it on a bit. From 1989 it is dated by the fact that the drop back to a lot of the action and set up is Apartheid demonstrations and does lead to the funniest scene in the film in the South African Embassy. “Bit you are Bleck!”

I like the series it went on a bit long and have only ever seen the fourth film once, but the first three are actually a really good series and they do what sequels are supposed to do and build on the original and previous films and I think that this series achieves this. The action is a step up, the comedy goes annoying with Joe Pesci but with Joss Ackland playing the main bad guy you have the comedy relief and the evil enough bad guy.

Overall you will know before you watch this if you are going to like It, a buddy cop movie that ticks all the boxes of the late eighties with dark enough deaths, harsh enough violence and just the right level of comedy. In the Cop buddy stakes it is a 9 out of 10, in the realms of movies it hits a respectable 7 out of 10.

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

The final instalment in the Nightmare on Elm Street from Wes Craven, that takes a different angle completely to the previous films. This is based in the real Life and follows Helen Langenkamp playing herself with her husband and son and other stars from the previous films popping up including Robert Englund and Wes Craven himself. The idea is that a demon has taken the form of Freddy Kreuger and is coming through in to the real world.

An interesting idea however it does not really work for me, firstly Helen Langenkamp is a horrible actress, I am sure that she is a wonderful person but it really brings in how bad she is in the first Nightmare film and the other sequels she is in. Overall I as not pulled in though the idea seems to make logical sense but even though it was supposed to be real life it felt very scripted and it may actually have been better to go with the haunting of a new sequel, done before but would work.

I was not that impressed with the film, Robert Englund came across really well but then I think he is actually a very good actor and have been impressed every time I have seen him. Wes Craven looked like a Director reading lines and I have said enough about Helen. Not a great film and not worth seeing only 3 out of 10 for me on this one.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Eraser (1996)

Arnold Schwarzenegger starring in another action packed role along side Vanessa Williams, James Caan, James Coburn and James Cromwell. This time Arnie is a Federal Agent that takes Vanessa Williams in to protective custody and has to protect her from the people who are trying to kill her, they might even be people from within our own government.This is a spy thriller, not in the same realm as True Lies but still a lot of fun.

The set pieces in this film are fun in the unbelievable sense, jumping out of a plane, shooting the glass on the crocodile enclosure and the real threat with a suicide in front of you. This film struggles to find the right balance between fun comedy and serious action. The bad guys are believable but the comedy sidekick is pushing it a little, overall it lends to a jumbled experience.

Saying all of that I did enjoy it and could actually watch Arnie do anything with action as he does have some skill at it on the screen. Overall this is a 6 out of 10 for me, slightly above the middle but obviously not for everybody.

Conspiracy Theory (1997)

From 1997 we meet Gerry the Cab driver played by Mel Gibson who opens the film by talking endlessly about all of the common conspiracy theories and some not so common ones. You then see him try to visit Julia Roberts and it becomes clear that he is a little unhinged and is possibly a little bit obsessed with her. He has some radical theories that he gathers by reading all the newspapers and connecting articles through recent history. The big question surrounds is it Paranoia when they really are out to get you? And Sir Patrick Stewart is there to try and help him as well.

I saw this film not long after it came out but had not seen it again in ages so took the opportunity to watch it and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by it. Gibson and Roberts are not actors I am generally drawn to but they were both more in their hey day when this was filmed and were both very good and convincing. There is obviously some believability whether what is actually done in the film is possible and I think it is just the Hollywood extreme case that almost everything is true but not at the same time and they really make it work in the context of the film.

Patrick Stewart makes the perfect bad guy as he really can act and he can show both sides from the giving father to the evil agent out to kill you all. But he does round out what is an excellent cast and I have to say this film really was a pleasure to watch, 7 out of 10 for me on this one.