Thursday, 21 September 2017

Seize The Day Movie Screenshots (1986) #robinwilliams

Seize The Day
Starring Robin Williams, Jerry Stiller, Joseph Wiseman, Glenne Headly
'Losers aren't born, they're made'
My Movie Review Rating: 4.5 out of 10

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Retro Review: Protocol (1984)

Cast: Goldie Hawn, Chris Sarandon, Richard Romanus, Gail Strickland, Cliff  DeYoung
Genre: Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $26 million 

Plot: A Washington waitress saves the Emir of Ohtar's life, launching her diplomatic career and a scandal

'Earnest & Competent, Yet Still Underdeveloped As A Comedy'

Directed by Herbert Ross who also gave us Footloose in the same year, as well as Steel Magnolias in 1989, Protocol stars Goldie Hawn who was also the executive producer, as Sunny: a sweet, down-to-earth cocktail waitress who lands a top job at Washington, when she finds herself involved in an arms deal with an Arab country. 

The film treads on similar-ish territory as Ishtar as the fish out of water trope is played with Sunny's Ditzy-yet-good natured character being taken for granted by the US protocol department, despite the fact she is completely oblivious to it all. Goldie Hawn is her usual perky, adorable and sweet self, which is perfectly fine, yet unfortunately, the nature of the material doesn't give her much to work with but for her character to stumble and bumble her way almost like a dumb, blonde stereotype. Hawn was at her best in Overboard, Death Becomes Her and Wildcats where her characters have a bit more depth and a few more layers, so that it could showcase more of her acting range, but here she has no such luck and as of that, Protocol is such a waste and that a character in Sunny should have been better developed by the creators. In addition, the script is too smart and at times, overly serious for its own good, which could have been offset by some wacky comedy and farce. 

Chris Sarandon is like an older Mark Ruffalo and he has okay camaraderie with Hawn as the nerdy looking Middle Eastern desk chief from the US state department, yet the rest of the cast give cardboard performances to back up the cardboard feel of the script.

Where Protocol falters is as a comedy, and an espionage comedy, the jokes and verbal humour are few and far between and in its place are situations and scenarios that don't work quite as well when the comedy fails to make an impact. The film never manages to go far and beyond that after an ambitious start, it then descends into almost blandness along with weak humour. That competent and earnest feel worked a treat for Footloose and Steel Magnolias, which were dramas, but Protocol is a comedy, and really, competent and earnest just isn't good enough for a movie of this type and with the premise that it has. 

Protocol doesn't 'pop' and its tone is not consistent and a bit over the place, but also, ideally, it should have worked as a wacky comedy, instead. 

Final Verdict:

Whereas Wildcats took Goldie Hawn out of her element and presented a much tougher exterior that she exuded in her performance as the hard-as-nails football coach, Protocol is a coarsely lacklustre comedy where, yet again, she plays a dumb blonde. The humour failed to hit the mark and this mixture of Ishtar's fish out of water theme with that political espionage plot doesn't reap rewards. Herbert Ross worked wonders with Footloose and Steel Magnolias, but, and despite Hawn's effortless charm and perkiness, he hit a brick wall with this early '80s offering. 

Sadly, Protocol tries to be a Goldie Hawn vehicle, rather than a comedic one and even with that, Hawn is saddled with such a character that plays on stereotypes, rather than a character that is memorable and great as she tries to come across and is well-meaning at the same time. 

Add to it a forgettable supporting cast and what you have is an interesting premise that as far as a comedy film goes, is very underdeveloped. 


Monday, 18 September 2017

The Survivors Movie Screenshots (1983) #robinwilliams

The Survivors
Starring Robin Williams, Walter Matthau, Jerry Reed, Kirsten Vigard
'Once they declare war on each other, watch out. You could die laughing' 
My Movie Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Mini Retro Review: Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer (2010) #badmovies

Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer

Reunite 3 of the cast members of the NBC sitcom, Caroline in the city in Lea Thompson, Amy Pietz and Eric Lutz, as well as throw in Wendie Malick from Hot in Cleveland & some teenage kids, Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer (also titled as I Was a 7th Grade Dragonslayer) feels more like a feature-length TV sitcom episode & for its fans, an excuse to see Lea, Amy & Eric on screen, once again. There are some over-the-top, exaggerated & mediocre acting performances in a film that is so convoluted, which is supplemented by a bland story, poor attempts at humour and it looks like all of the budget was blown on the special effects. Those above the age of 10 will easily lose interest and be turned off by this low-budget film. It's a modern-day fantasy kids film, but it's so dreary with Z-movie values, the blue troll guy looks like a bad combination of Nightcrawler of X-Men & a Smurf, and the animation is one of the cheapest-looking CGI, ever. Director Andy Lauer, who co-starred with Lea in Caroline in the City, squanders any opportunity in making a meaningful fantasy flick designed to capture older, as well as younger viewers & instead chooses to opt for a modern day setting that is approached in a tedious manner and one that feels empty throughout. There is a scene when Lea Thompson & Eric Lutz lock eyes with each other with terrible dance music playing in the background. All-round, it's just not very impressive. 

Is it worth seeing? 

Only If you are fans of Lea Thompson or of the Caroline In The City show


Saturday, 16 September 2017

B-Movie Actress Feature Spotlight: Lea Thompson

Born in Rochester, Minneapolis in Minnesota, Lea Katherine Thompson is a television producer, director and movie actress & one of 5 children. Best known for playing Marty McFly's mother, Lorraine McFly in the time-travelling sci-fi romp, Back to the Future and its sequels in 1989 and 1990 with Michael J. Fox & Christopher Lloyd, she also carved a TV career out of a starring role as cartoonist, Caroline Duffy in the 30-min sitcom, Caroline in the City. The series, which found moderate success in the US, began in 1995 and ended in 1999 on a cliffhanger with the show being cancelled. After the show ended, Lea took a break from TV acting, raised her daughters and starred in a few plays and productions and later starred in made for TV & straight to DVD, low-budget flicks. Titles include the Jane Doe series and the miscellaneous B-movie Speed equivalent in Exit Speed, Spy School & Rock Slyde alongside Seinfeld's Jason Alexander & Julia Roberts's brother, Eric Roberts. 

In the early 1980s, it looked like Lea was poised for mega-stardom and that lots of blockbuster movie offers would come knocking on her door. Her movie career went through a rough patch after Back to the Future 3 in 1990 and since then, she's been reduced to accepting offers for direct to DVD films, as well as doing stints for TV. She managed to bounce back through her show Caroline In The City where she was star billing for 4 relatively short seasons. So why do I think she wasn't as hugely successful as many of her contemporaries? Bad movie choices and with Hollywood settling for Elizabeth Shue (who co-starred with her on Back to the Future) and upcoming stalwarts in Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfieffer, Julia Roberts lurking around the corner and of whom took advantage of their heavyweight mega-stardom, the same couldn't be said with Lea Thompson, who was languishing in bargain bin, straight- to- DVD fare you will find in Target, dollar stores and on Amazon for cheap prices. 

Another mistake was that I do think that Lea's true calling was with comedies and light-hearted movies, & although a couple of them were 'bad', those were the types of films that were ideal for her that she should have received (and far better ones also) and taken advantage of. Not in the comedic actress sense and yet also given her role on Caroline In The City, but she could have easily excelled at those roles. She tried/tries too hard aiming to please and attract audiences for the types of projects outside of her comfort zone. I know actors and actresses get pigeonholed and typecasted for doing the same types of roles and movies over and over and so many of them fall into that elusive trap, but with Lea, as an actress, as good as she can be, one can argue she just doesn't have that extra range that other performers have, acting-wise. & in seeing her in almost every role she plays, it mostly- though not always tends to be the same type of character & same type of performance, which is the sweet, innocent, good gal. And when she branches out to doing action films like Exit Speed (which I thought wasn't too bad as a movie, but her role did demand a bit too much from her) and Final Approach (which wasn't so good) and playing against type as a cunning villainess in The Beverly Hillbillies, she is not so effective and convincing. 

Another deciding factor counting against her was the movies during and right after the release of the Back to the Future trilogy have been marred with some conflict or issue that has ruined and stained the reputation that the movies have had: Howard The Duck was trounced for its absurd premise, Space Camp was marred by the real-life challenger tragedy, which mirrored the film's actual story, Casual Sex? was poorly met by critics. It's not just the case of bad movie choices, but bad timing as well. 

So what we have here is an actress, who is not really a method performer who can assimilate into any role, in any movie. We can use that same argument towards Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock - all known for rom-coms, but at least, for me anyway, they possess that extra star quality and charm that makes their fans revisit their movies over and over & that movie producers & casting directors can detect in those performers that certain thing that they have, and not just their beauty. Lea, sadly, on the other hand, falls outside of this jurisdiction and also 90% of her movies aren't that great. She may have also had a sweet, girl-next-door image, much like a certain Julia Roberts, but the lack of genuine and forthright big budget movie roles & hugely successful commercial theatrical hits put paid to all of that for Lea. Additionally, she has had only one major love scene in a big budget movie in All The Right Moves with Tom Cruise.      

I think all of these things hurt her career and she should have gone on to even bigger and better things on the movie front - instead, she gets overlooked and rejected for bigger box office movies, which as she got older and with Hollywood favouring younger actresses, it didn't help her cause. Howard The Duck was that one single movie which pretty much and infamously ruined her and it's been a struggle, ever since. Although thankfully, her TV based roles have kept her busy. Even with Lea getting dirt thrown at her for that film if Howard the Duck derailed her movie career, then 2014's much-panned quasi-religious disaster flick, Left Behind tops the lot as the worst. 

Dubbed as the less broody and dark Jennifer Jason Leigh (and their similarity in terms of looks is a bit uncanny); that, as well as they both, broke out at virtually around the same time as each other, in Lea Thompson, with more successful and better movie roles & choices under her belt, there is no doubt that she would have so easily been up there with Hollywood's movie elite. 

Notable Favourites: Back To The Future trilogy, Exit Speed, Red Dawn
Notable Non-favourites: Howard The Duck, Casual Sex?, Spacecamp, Final Approach, Left Behind, Dennis The Menace, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Unknown Cyclist

Friday, 15 September 2017

Mini Retro Review: Final Approach (2008) #badmovies

Final Approach
Action/Thriller TV Movie

Made- for- TV, low-budget version of what is essentially Hallmark channel's very own Executive Decision, but with a cop in place of an army general & minus Hollywood then A-listers in Kurt Russell and Halle Berry, Final Approach takes an awfully long time for events to build up and is hackneyed to the core. There is even a reference to Executive Decision and a 2 hr - yes this ran for 2 hrs, 46 mins - running time for a TV movie, is, by itself, just ridiculous. There is no way that a low-budget C/Z movie should be that long. There are scenes with a woman trying to evade her kidnappers, which makes little sense to the main plot. You barely get to know anything about the main characters played by ex- Superman Dean Cain and Back To The Future's Lea Thompson as the couple. Thompson looks out of place, and like I mentioned in my review of Exit Speed, action films are just not her strong point & she doesn't have a natural penchant for them. People have also pointed out the illogical plot contrivances of Final Approach and whilst that is not much of a huge deal for me, I do understand why viewers may find them annoying. The action is minimal and routine as one would expect in an action-Z movie & as such there are no real killings. Characters are forgettable, the dialogue is dreary & it's overlong with a story that will put you to sleep. This so-called excuse of an action film is forgettable and is just not worth anyone's time. It's not worth mines, that's for sure.

Is it worth seeing?

If you could bear to sit through a 2-hour action movie, with very little action to speak of and one that is a non-theatrical release, go for it. Otherwise, easily give this one a pass. 


Thursday, 14 September 2017

Retro Review: Exit Wounds (2001)

Exit Wounds
Cast: Steven Segal, DMX, Isaiah Washington, Anthony Anderson, Michael Jai White, Tom Arnold, David Vadim, Bill Duke, Eva Mendes
Genre: Action
Worldwide Box Office: over $79 million

Plot: Orin Boyd, a tough cop in an inner-city precinct discovers a web of dirty cops and corruption

'A Tad Better Than Half Past Dead, But That's About It'

Let there be no doubt that when I say that virtually every role Steven Segal opts for is the badass protagonist, the have-a-go lawman who uses his Aikido skills to defeat his enemies. I enjoy my action movies, but I have never been a staunch fan of Steven Segal's flicks. Jackie Chan, a bit of Van Damme and many classic Arnold Schwarzenegger films are my favourite action movie stars. Steven Segal, not so but I did enjoy Under Seige. Even in the moments of intentional humour, he doesn't seem to have a good grasp of humour and his talents are limited. & he doesn't have much in the way of a screen presence, unlike say a certain Austrian-born superstar. Exit Wounds was a supposed attempt for Segal to get back in the action A-game but in reality, this feels more like a generic B-movie, straight- to- DVD effort.

With this offering, Segal is Orin Boyd: a burnt out undercover cop who is reassigned to a different precinct, despite coming to the aid of a vice-president, in overzealous style. Boyd later finds out the cops aren't what he expects them to be, with crooked officers stealing heroin from police labs to help fund their trips and visits. Basically, what we have is the so-called bad guys, who are in actuality good guys in DMX, Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson and so-called good guys who are really bad guys in Michael Jai White & David Vadim's Det Montini. Rapper DMX is Latrell Walker: a drug dealer, with Anthony Anderson as TK. 

Exit Wounds is an action film one has seen so and too many times before: typically formulaic, unoriginal and by the numbers fare, but with a less than formidable and stellar cast that is retreading on familiar waters. Released in the early 2000s, it is a mere shadow of 1980s and 1990s action films and for me, Exit Wounds was the start of the decline in action movies, which even to this day, this cycle hasn't really been reverted. It's a not so good mash-up of an urban movie mixed in with some martial arts and comedy, and it just hasn't been executed well enough. In most or many action films, the violence and action tend to be cartoonish and not as bloody and grisly. This was Andrzej Bartkowiak's second directorial film following on from Romeo Must die, after lending his cinematography dues in The Devil's Advocate, Speed & Gossip

Tom Arnold's character as TV presenter Henry here is as annoying & grating as Joe Pesci's in Lethal Weapon; in fact, he is the film's Joe Pesci, Leo Getz with his shouting and screaming & loud personality. As a supposed comic relief, he comes off more as an irritant and a liability, rather than an asset and I found all of his scenes to be needless & that they didn't fit in with the main plot. Anthony Anderson wasn't too far behind as the bumbling buffoon and I wasn't too fond of his character, either. He too was loud, raucous with a bit of a filthy mouth & like Tom plays exactly the same role as in his other movies. Contrary to other people, DMX wasn't too bad; he does have a bit more range in his acting than say, Ja Rule and his performance was arguably a bit more respectable than the main headliner, Steven Segal. He (DMX) and Bill Duke were the highlights. 

The wire-based martial arts slo-mo shots when Segal fights are so annoying and needless and rather they take away from the film, rather than to enhance it. The editing also feels choppy at places. There are car chases, a stunt man as Segal's character riding a motorcycle (if you freeze a portion of the scene and look closely that's not even Segal on the bike), fights, gun shots and whilst these aspects maintain the viewers' interest in short bursts, everything else doesn't come well together. Exit Wounds is an action film about uncovering police corruption, but the way this is all set up doesn't leave much up to one's imagination, nor is it inventive enough. The reveals towards the end were interesting and at the same time, it comes off as flat and isn't as shocking as it tries to be. The last 15 or 20 mins rarely made up for the rest of the movie. 

Final Verdict:

This is truly for fans of Steven Segal and DMX; Exit Wounds is less than thrilling and feels more underwhelming with performances from all quarters, but for DMX & Predator's Bill Duke, which are satisfactory at best but with a better casting, it would have made the movie even more entertaining and less irritating to watch. 

This is not all that it is cracked up to be: it's not that original or inventive, but it had its moments. Yet as an action film, not everything came well together and producer Joel Silver and director Andrzej Bartkowiak came up short in many areas. However, I won't lie by saying that Exit Wounds was watchable all the way through and the 1.40 min runtime is ideal. 

A slight improvement on Half Past Dead, but otherwise Exit Wounds lacks the clarity and deftness of the original Under Siege and Jet Li's caginess from Cradle 2 The Crave & is, therefore, more of a second-tier, action B-movie that looks a tad more flashy, yet substance-wise, there isn't much going for it as a film. Worth it for Segal and action movie fanatics, but more so for fans of the former; other than that Exit Wounds is so unremarkable that there are far, far better cop-based action films around than this one. 


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Retro Review: Wanted: Dead or Alive (1987)

Wanted: Dead Or Alive
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Gene Simmons, Robert Guillaume, Mel Harris, William Russ
Genre: Action
U.S Box Office Gross: over $7.5 million

Plot: Nick Randall is a former CIA operative turned bounty hunter, who is asked by his former employer to help them track down a terrorist, Malak Al Rahim, who is in the country and has already made his move in search of Randall

'Pleasing 80s Action B-Movie Held Together By Hauer'

A revamp on the classic Steve McQueen TV show, Rutger Hauer plays the son/descendant of McQueen's character, Josh named Randall (which is something that isn't acknowledged in the opening credits), who here asks questions first and shoots bad guys later. Or is that the other way round? I don't know. But what I do know is for me, this was an enjoyable action romp with some pleasing performances throughout.

Nick Randall is a former CIA operative, who previously butted heads with terrorist, Malak: what we have here is a Dutchman in Rutger Hauer playing as an American versus American-born Gene Simmons in the role of a Middle Eastern villain. After landing in America, Malak declares war on the US. Randall, meanwhile, is now a bounty hunter, who lives with his girlfriend, Terry. Randall's opening scene is when he enters a convenience store that is being thwarted by a robber, of whom Randall captures & arrests. When Nick gets a call from a friend who is in need of help in capturing Malak, Nick accepts the offer in return for a big reward. Unfortunately, what they don't know is that Randall's former boss is the one in on the act & who is only using Randall as a pawn, in order to capture Malak. As a bounty hunter, he is also an outlaw who chooses not to play by the rule-books & he also has an arsenal of weapons hidden in his garage. 

Wanted: Dead or Alive came and went, without much attention and fanfare paid to it in the midst of 1987 and it is a bit of shame that has happened, because whilst it may not be one of the absolute best action movies, ever, it is something different to so many other big budget action flicks released during that particular year that is also nice to see. Critics lambasted this film and didn't give it a fair chance and whilst in some parts, it does become a little dry, it manages to be watchable and entertaining enough.

Rutger Hauer as Nick Randall is as cool as a cucumber and he is in great form as the bad-ass bounty hunter, whereas Kiss bassist and co-founder, Gene Simmons makes his entrance in an antagonist role, and a strange one to behold as a Middle Eastern terrorist that is rather limited and where he doesn't have much screen-time. Fortunately, he doesn't put on an accent & approaches the role as a White guy playing an Arab/Middle Easterner. But it is Hauer who is the star of this movie and the ending was satisfactory and a rather awesome way to go out on a high, as well. He also rocks the blond mullet too! The remaining performances from the likes of Mel Harris as Nick's girlfriend were not bad also. 

The film did run a little too long in the tooth, though, I have to admit & could have been trimmed off a bit. & I also wished for a few more action sequences to liven things up; as few as they were, they were entertaining. & the last half hour was when the film peaked and it was one I didn't see coming; it was out of the blue, and the ending made my jaw drop in awe.

The mystery and intrigue with one or two twists that are included add an extra incentive to Wanted: Dead or Alive and they were well done. This is almost everything an action movie, especially an action B-movie should be. 

Final Verdict: 

An action movie that doesn't pretend to be something it is not & whilst it is not everyone's cup of tea, this is a respectable attempt of an action film, B-movie style. As cult '80s movies go, Wanted: Dead or Alive qualifies as an action B-movie, but it operates more in the vein of a thriller and it's not as action-orientated as it was and is touted. Still, Rutger Hauer and his character is what makes this movie, for me, and that's despite Gene Simmons appearance that is more of a cameo and plus, he is barely onscreen for most of the duration of this film. 

But indubitably, that Middle Eastern terrorist theme would obviously not go down as well today as it was in the mid-1980s, given 9/11 and for all of the white-washing accusations in other movies, seeing a White actor play an Ethnic character in Blackface or whatever in a film today, wouldn't fare well with a lot of people, either. 

The only gripe I have is that I wished there had been a lot more action, but other than that, this is an pleasing and sound effort that does the job.


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Retro Review: Space Camp (1986)

Space Camp
Cast: Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston, Larry B. Scott, Joaquin Phoenix, Tate Donovan, Tom Skerritt
Genre: Space Adventure
U.S Box Office Gross: over $9 Million 

Plot: The young attendees of a space camp find themselves in space for real when their shuttle is accidentally launched into orbit 

'More Like Space Dump'

A family adventure film about a group of adolescents at a real-life space camp, they are sent to space for real. Unfortunately, the shuttle was still in pre-flight and thus, wasn't prepared to undergo any mission in full. With only limited air supply and no communication on earth, the kids and their instructor must band together and find a way to get back home. Kate Capshaw, follows up her turn in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as Andie: an astronaut, who still has dreams of going into space. Egged on by her husband, Zach, Andie assembles a young team in Kathryn, Tish, Kevin, Rudy & Max at the camp to help her fulfil her ambitions.

The film features a cast of '80s movie icons where some of them did fare little better, but over time as older actors, they've seen their careers go in opposite directions and they mostly languished doing B-movies and straight- to- DVD efforts. Space Camp may have been a relative hit or so, but it didn't really make bigger stars out of Lea Thompson, Tate Donovan, Kate Capshaw and Kelly Preston. Released in 1986 during the wake of the Challenger space shuttle disaster, which claimed the lives of 7 American astronauts (although filming was completed, right before the tragedy had struck), it killed off any chance of success, & unlike mega hit Apollo 13, this space-based adventure type film sank without a trace and has long been forgotten about. & in watching this effort, I can see why this film wouldn't have appealed to me as a child during the 1980s and why I wouldn't have cared for it. Having said that, this does have '80s' written all over it in its feel and with a more vigorous approach that spurred the film on, I would have enjoyed it far more. Space Camp is riddled with issues, which was further prompted by negative feedback and that the movie only reclaimed less than $10 million at the US box office on an $18 million + budget. 

Additionally, Space Camp suffers from its lack of excitement, suspense and that the story is derivative and utterly bland. It just wasn't believable and compelling enough for me to buy into it. The actual set-up isn't so bad, but in Lea Thompson, Tate Donovan and Kelly Preston, personally speaking, I thought they were too old to play as teenagers and that they should have opted for actors under 21 instead. The performances by the cast are stifled from a weightless, tame and less energizing script, which doesn't help matters either. None of their characters stand out and so, it was difficult for me to become attached to each of them. The addition of the robot and the little kid seems forced and it feels like the director and writer threw them in just to appeal to the youngsters. But hey, many youngsters didn't go to see this film and as a result, it tanked, financially, as well as critically. 

The second half of the movie is a tad interesting, but just like the events leading up to it in the story, it's nothing that special or mind-blowing, even when it tries to be realistic and serious and even then the story just didn't suck me in and stay with me until the end. What would have been cool is if the kids had to battle and contend with an evil alien creature - now that would have been far more entertaining to watch than what was presented here. 

Final Verdict:

Bottom line: but for nostalgia reasons or to relive one's childhood, there is not much to love or enjoy from Space Camp. This was not very entertaining and nor is it memorable enough. 

This is a film that tries to be and could have been a cult hit, but it wasn't and thus, it just wasn't and isn't meant to be. 


Monday, 11 September 2017

The World According to Garp Movie Screenshots (1982)

The World According To Garp
Starring Robin Williams, Glenn Close, John Lithgow
'Robin Williams is Garp. He's got a funny way of looking at life'
My Movie Review Rating: 7 out of 10 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Popeye Movie Screenshots (1980)

Musical Comedy
Starring Robin Williams, Shirley Duvall, Paul L.Smith, Ray Walston
'The Sailor Man With The Spinach Can!'
My Movie Review Rating: 4 out of 10

Friday, 8 September 2017

Not So Mini Retro Review: Partners (1982) #badmovies

Gay Themed Buddy Cop Comedy

Partners is a painfully outdated, old-fashioned and unfunny homophobic comedy from the early 1980s, starring the pairing of Ryan O'Neal and John Hurt that is in the vein of the buddy cop formula. It's basically The Odd Couple meets 48 Hrs, Lethal Weapon and all of those other similar movies, where two cops - one heterosexual, one homosexual - pose undercover as a gay couple, in order to nail a serial killer who is targeting the gay community. The attitudes of straight cop characters on show here borders on being derogatory and outdated with terms uttered such as queens and f*****s. Every time the F-word was blurted, I was embarrassed. In fact, I didn't laugh throughout. All the gay characters are depicted as queens with effeminate voices.

Directed by TV producer James Burrows, famed for sitcoms Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Two & Half Men & The Big Bang Theory, Partners is a buddy comedy movie that later spawned a short-lived TV remake in 2012 starring David Krumholtz and Michael Urie that lasted for just one season. In the TV series, the two main characters occupations were shifted from cops to lifelong partners in an architecture firm. It was met with negative to mixed reviews.

This film is mostly dull and the story drags and it takes a silly premise by resorting to stereotypes and cliches in an attempt to pass itself off as a comedy; surprisingly, the screenplay is written by Francis Veber, who previously did La Cage Aux Folles, the French gay- themed comedy which was later remade in the West as The Birdcage with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, & a film that is a tad more progressive, as well as funnier. It also features Ryan O' Neal in various getups and donning leather, but as I sat through this film, the longer it went on the more uncomfortable I felt. The homophobic slurs, bad humour and comedy and bland story & lack of genuine intrigue put paid to this atrocious comedy. This is far from challenging homophobic attitudes, but rather a film that more than less reinforces them.

Is it worth seeing? 

I was unimpressed and embarrassed all the way through: not only was it offensive, the comedy was bad and not the least bit amusing. It's an 80s movie where a premise such as this would not go down too well in today's age in a film like this. But then again, neither is it well conceived, well written and it is as dull as watching paint dry. & the use of gay slurs is just the tip of the iceberg for Partners


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Retro Review: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Tomorrow Never Dies
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Judi Dench, Joe Don Baker
Genre: Spy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $330 million

Plot: James Bond heads to China to stop a media mogul's plan to induce war between China and the UK in order to obtain exclusive media coverage

'Hardly Shaken, 007 Stirs Up More Trouble & In a Great Way, Thanks To Brosnan & Yeoh'

Released in 1997 at a time when Hong Kong became a former British colony and its reigns were handed over to China, Tomorrow Never Dies is the 18th entry in the 007 James Bond series of movies and the second starring Pierce Brosnan after Goldeneye. He is also the fifth actor to portray British super spy James Bond after Sean Connery (who was the first and foremost), George Lazenby, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton and the last until that baton was handed to Daniel Craig. This film was also directed by Roger Spottiswoode who wrote the script for 48 Hrs starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, in addition to directing the Robin Williams & Kurt Russell sports caper, The Best of Times in 1986. 

I've never been a staunch James Bond fan, although I did enjoy Sean Connery's performances and Roger Moore's movies; even as a teenager, the main action films I gravitated towards were American and Hong Kong offerings. But Tomorrow Never Dies's production values are very Hollywood-esque and American for a film where the original franchise's origins are British. 

The first 5 mins opens up in explosive style with Brosnan's Bond running amok, as Bond's mission is to thwart the plans of Elliot Garver, who is trying to cause a war between Britain and China, in order to make the front pages.  

As ever with these Bond movies, it has the following tropes: a bond theme song by Sheryl Crow (and an awful one to boot), a Bond antagonist (Elliot Carver played by Jonathan Pryce), bond girl (Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin), a femme fatale/former flame in Paris (Teri Hatcher), as well as explosions, action scenes, shooting scenes aplenty. After the success of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, a TV series based on the titular DC Comics superhero, Hatcher followed it up with a turn that is rather futile, when one looks at it, as she later gets bumped off. The casting directors could have and probably should have gone for a nobody or lesser known actress, instead. And though Michelle Yeoh might have been cast on the basis of her athleticism and fighting skills, she definitely holds her own opposite Pierce Brosnan. 

Besides, if you have seen any of Yeoh's Hong Kong movies, you can see how agile and adept she is in those action scenes. She has a few moments and scenes of her own, where one expects Mr Bond to dominate and take charge. Yeoh is arguably one of the strongest and able-bodied Bond girls in the franchise's history. As for Brosnan as Bond, he has as many one-liners as Arnold Schwarzenegger's characters in his movies and they are still as witty and deadpan as ever. Brosnan's delivery is just as charming as those of his predecessors Sean Connery and Roger Moore. But for Mrs Doubtfire, where he had a thankless supporting role, I don't think Brosnan has had a bigger onscreen character as James Bond, prior to this series of films. He also gets to show a more tender side to Bond, thanks to the subplot relating to him reuniting with his old flame. I think come the second film, Brosnan assimilates into his character at ease, so much so, the transition is smooth without any real hiccups. & Jonathan Pryce makes for an adequate nasty bad guy in Elliott - although his chop-socky scene where he takes the mick of Yeoh's was unnecessary and tasteless. He didn't make much of a profound impact on me. 

Even though it's a modern version of Bond, it still retains that essence of what James Bond movies tick and but of which isn't too dark, overly violent and gritty. The action is still great, the stunts are unreal at times and its tone is far less intense and dark than Goldeneye -, which I have no qualms as it's entertaining in places and easy-going viewing as well. 

One amusing scene is when Wai Lin and James smash into a window of a high rise building and they carry on as if nothing had happened. Another great scene is the chase in Bangkok with the pair on a motorbike whilst they are handcuffed and they are chased by the bad guys, as is Yeoh taking on the bad guys, with the aid of Brosnan. This is one of the best and most exhilarating action scenes in a Bond film.

I didn't find much wrong with Tomorrow Never Dies, but for the sucky main theme song and Teri Hatcher's limited role & the racially offensive Elliott mocking Wai Lin scene, this is Pierce Brosnan's best and finest outing, which was unfortunately followed up by less than stellar sequels.

Final Verdict

Like I mentioned but for some minor issues I had with it, this is still more than a worthy entry to the James Bond franchise. The best bond outing of the 1990s and of Pierce Brosnan's turn, as a whole. With great stunts and action sequences and Brosnan turning on the charm assisted by the great Michelle Yeoh, this is, by all means, a terrific Bond movie.


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Retro Review: Congo (1995)

Cast: Laura Linney, Dylan Walsh, Ernie Hudson, Tim Curry, Bruce Campbell
Genre: Action-Adventure
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $152 million

Plot: When an expedition to the African Congo ends in disaster, a new team is assembled to find out what went wrong

'Um Congo'

A cross between Gorillas In The Mist, Mighty Joe Young and Jurassic Park with a tone echoing Indiana Jones, Congo is sadly not memorable and nor is it very entertaining to sit through. The film was directed by Frank Marshall whose other notable feature films are Arachnophobia & Alive. The humongous success of Jurassic Park in its feature length adaption prompted Universal Studios to snap up the rights to Congo

Congo sees a walking, talking & fake gorilla (anyone who thinks that gorilla is real and can speak the way she does needs to think again), who is having nightmares trying to return to her home with the help of trainers, Peter & Richard. Later on, the team finds themselves ambushed by the rampaging killer apes.

Congo was another one of Michael Critchton's novels to be turned into a film & joins the likes of Jurassic Park sequel The Lost World (which was a tad underwhelming), Rising Sun (which wasn't so good), Sphere (which was okay by me) & Disclosure (panned by critics, and yet was a film I found enjoyable). All of which occurred during the 1990s. With Congo, though it is lauded as a terrible film in every single aspect by many, this was never one of those films destined to be nominated for Golden Globes or Academy Awards. At the same time, with a more efficient script and A-list established actors and actresses in place of Dylan Walsh and Laura Linney amongst others, this would have gave the movie a further & much needed boost. 

But what we have instead is something that what should have been an insightful movie, the silly performances by Tim 'sesame cake eating' Curry and Amy the Gorilla put paid to all that & the foreign accents are, at times, grating to hear. The script is barren and thoroughly mediocre in its execution. At least the Peter & Amy relationship is a little cute and one that doesn't descend into creepiness or being gross. 

Congo feels inept in places, the scenes with Walsh interacting with the fake gorilla and with an actor wearing a gorilla costume, didn't feel genuine enough to me. Amy the Gorilla isn't real, yes I know it's some person in a gorilla costume and although the animals can talk thing makes far more sense in an animated series or film, is something I do buy, I don't buy the idea of a talking gorilla and the irritating computerised voice going ''Amy Pretty, Amy Hungry'' was enough to drive me around the bend. In fact, all of the gorillas are just actors in suits and they look and come across as not being very convincing and unrealistic as gorillas. 

The way this film was set up, its ambience is so conflicting it tries to come across as being a serious movie - and yet it has moments and scenes where it tries to be fun, when really it feels rather corny. & despite the special effects, the story is so boring and lethargic and there was nothing about it that was engaging. The way it is conceived doesn't make much sense, either. Congo is a film that not one that should be avoided; rather it is a film that everyone has to see and watch for themselves to realise how not to do an big screen adaptation of a book.  

Even if it isn't and wasn't intentionally serious or it is supposed to be light-hearted and a joke, the fact that Michael Crichton novels are hardly humourous stuff, its light tone throws this movie off. And at almost 2 hours long, this film with its bloated and bland story, is practically overkill. 

Final Verdict:

Hardly humourous and amusing when it tries to be, but also the direction by Frank Marshall is too dreary, lacklustre and monotonous and lacking in punch and feel-good moments throughout. It lacks any sort of fun to make it worthwhile and memorable. 

A version of Jurassic Park set in the African jungle, Congo is an adventure film gone wrong-o.  


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