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Review: Jumanji

Siblings Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce move into a new house with their rather cold mother (Bebe Neuwirth, natch), and find an old board game they’ve never heard of called “Jumanji”. They decide to play it, and each turn they take seems to unleash a new stampeding wild animal causing havoc. Also turning up out of nowhere is a shaggy Robin Williams, as a man who has been trapped inside the game ever since he was a little boy. Bonnie Hunt and David Alan Grier play figures from Williams’ past. We all loved and miss Robin Williams terribly, I’m sure. He gave us lots of laughs, and unforgettable films and characters. Let’s face it though, he also gave us some of the worst or at least most disappointing films as well. “Toys”, “Jack”, “Hook”, “What Dreams May Come”, and this 1995 magical board game movie from director Joe Johnston, all struck me as films that could’ve, and should’ve worked…but to some degree or another, didn’t. I haven’t watched “What Dreams May Come” since my first viewi…

Review: Mark of the Devil

Set in the superstitious Middle Ages, a young Udo Kier stars as Christian, a pious young man and junior to renowned witchfinder Lord Cumberland (Herbert Lom). He arrives at a local village in-waiting of his mentor’s arrival. Sadistic local witchfinder Albino (Reggie Nalder) is unhappy with Christian’s presence in town, is no happier to be expecting Lord Cumberland’s arrival either. Albino tries to force himself on a local girl, who in turn disfigures his frankly already disturbing face. Albino accuses the girl of being a witch, though Christian has his serious doubts about her guilt. The normally by-the-Good-Book young man is also clearly attracted to her. When Lord Cumberland finally arrives, he’s disgusted with the behaviour of Albino and the equally repulsive Advocate (Johannes Buzalski). However, he’s also unmoved by Christian’s protestations of the young barmaid’s innocence of the charges. After a while, Christian starts to suspect that his mentor in religious instruction may not…

Review: IT: Chapter Two

It’s 27 years later, and Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) reunites his childhood ‘Losers Club’ friends to deal with their past trauma: IT has returned to Derry. The other grown versions of the characters are played by James McAvoy (Bill), Jessica Chastain (Beverly), Jay Ryan (Ben), Bill Hader (Richie), James Ransone (Eddie), and Andy Bean (Stanley). Bill Skarsgard returns as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, the most prominent visual manifestation of IT. I was the one guy who actively disliked the 2017 adaptation of the Stephen King epic tome. Yes, I was very much loyal to the 1990 TV miniseries (and Tim Curry’s equally terrifying and hilarious Pennywise), but it was more than that. I honestly thought it was a pretty badly made film. The horror elements were especially hokey, with poor Bill Skarsgard failing to produce a single goosebump with his far too CGI-assisted, infantile interpretation of Pennywise. It was also repetitive, overblown, and just plain overrated. I did like young Jake Dylan…

Review: Satanico Pandemonium

A nun named Sister Maria (Cecilia Pezet) goes for a walk outside the convent and encounters a naked Satan (Enrique Rocha), who offers her an apple. She declines, but for some reason Satan keeps turning up. Tempting her. At one point Satan even disguises himself as another nun who professes her love for Sister Maria, leading to a lovemaking session. Basically, this chick is possessed by the Devil, and she becomes absolutely hysterical, eventually leading to the deflowering of a young stable boy and shocking violence. Another day, another kinky nun film. This 1975 offering from prolific Mexican writer/director Gilberto Martínez Solares (the insane-sounding “Mystery in the Bermuda Triangle”, starring legendary luchador Mil Mascaras!) is the film that inspired the name of Salma Hayek’s snake-dancing character in Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” (written by Quentin Tarantino). There’s absolutely no other connection between the two films, so one guesses QT just thought it was a cool…

Review: Lethal Weapon 2

Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are back, and this time they’re tangling with South African diplomats (Joss Ackland, Derrick O’Connor, Mark Rolston among them) who use their immunity as protection for their drug-smuggling activities. Meanwhile, Riggs falls for pretty South African secretary Patsy Kensit. Joe Pesci turns up as Leo Getz, a motor-mouth money launderer currently in witness protection. Darlene Love and Traci Wolfe return as Murtaugh’s wife and daughter, whilst various cop characters are played by the likes of Jenette Goldstein, Dean Norris, Nestor Serrano, and Grand L. Bush. Jack McGee plays a carpenter, and Steve Kahan is once again the police captain. For some people, this 1989 Richard Donner (“Lethal Weapon”, “Superman”, “Ladyhawke”, “The Omen”, “The Goonies” – all favourites of mine) buddy cop sequel is the best film in the franchise. For most, it’s the best of the sequels. Gulp. Guess I’m gonna be that guy again today, because for me, this is and has al…

Review: Superfly

Drug dealer Youngblood Priest (Trevor Jackson) wants to set up one last score before he is able to retire. To do this, he’ll have to screw over his martial-arts mentor Scatter (Michael Kenneth Williams), as well as watch out for corrupt cops (Jennifer Morrison!) and several swaggering rivals in the drug game (Esai Morales, Big Bank Black, and Kaalan Walker among them).I knew instinctively this 2018 remake of the 1972 Blaxploitation classic was going to be bad. It’s directed by a hippity hop video director simply known as Director X (He’s worked with the likes of T.I., Drake, Little Mix, and the repulsive R. Kelly). How could it possibly be any good? I just didn’t know it was going to be borderline “Psycho” remake levels of bad. Scripted by Alex Tse (co-writer of the interesting 2009 “Watchmen”), this pointless remake ends up far less a remake of the Ron O’Neal-starring Blaxploitation film, and more inspired by Tupac, and directed like a hippity hop music video. I think Mr. X (who – ge…

Review: The Killers

Two hired killers (Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager) contemplate the lack of resistance given by their latest target and can’t figure out why he didn’t fight or flee. They don’t know the identity of the client who hired them, but their target was an ex-racing champ (John Cassavetes) who left the profession to work at a school for the blind. The killers learn that Cassavetes was the getaway driver of a robbery, and that the money was never found. So Marvin get the idea of trying to find out who hired them, why Cassavetes didn’t resist their attack, and where the money is. In flashback, we learn more about Cassavetes, his mechanic buddy (Claude Akins), the woman he falls for (Angie Dickinson), and her dangerous associates (Ronald Reagan, Norman Fell, and Robert Phillips). It would appear that Ernest Hemingway’s original story isn’t the easiest to translate to film, perhaps due to it being a short story. The 1946 version, from what little I remember of it had Burt Lancaster not quite cast to h…