Showing posts from March 17, 2013

Review: Damn the Defiant/HMS Defiant

Sir Alec Guinness (in fine, reserved form) is the humane but strict commander of the title British warship during the Napoleonic wars (in the late 18 th century), who in his mission to deliver his ship to meet the rest of the British fleet in their battle against the French, must contend with a disreputable and unreasonably brutal first mate (Dirk Bogarde), fond of harsh disciplinary measures and generally ignoring Guinness’ orders (Bogarde’s also got political connections which he is fond of bragging about). Meanwhile, the disgruntled crew bide their time before they (led by Sir Anthony Quayle) can make their move in exposing the harsh conditions aboard (Guinness understands their concerns but cannot be seen to tolerate any sort of mutinous action, especially when it interferes with his orders). Two things complicate matters even further; 1) Guinness’ 12 year-old son David Robinson is on board on his maiden voyage, which the petty Bogarde is only too happy to use as leverage over

Review: Death Before Dishonour

Fred Dryer plays a Marine Gunnery Sergeant assigned the task of overseeing security at an embassy in a fictional Middle Eastern country. He and his men (who include a youngish Sasha Mitchell) are forced to take action when Colonel Brian Keith is kidnapped by an Arab terrorist helpfully named Jihad (Rockne Tarkington!), and the U.S. Ambassador (Paul Winfield) is too gutless to do a damn thing. Joanna Pacula plays a woman with somewhat ambiguous motives.   How in the hell is this not a Michael Dudikoff vehicle from The Cannon Group? No, instead this 1987 military actioner directed by Terry Leonard (a veteran stuntman and 2 nd Unit director in his one and only directorial stint), written by John Gatliff (who according to IMDb has no other film credits at all), stars former TV star and former American footballer Fred Dryer (best known for a TV show called “Hunter” ) and comes from New World Pictures. It’s a bit classier than a lot of what Cannon churned out, with a surprisingly

Review: The Dark Crystal

Set in a fantasy world divided into two main races; The evil and grotesque Skeksis, and the peaceful Mystics. When a shard of the Dark Crystal (which essentially keeps things in balance) is lost, it threatens the balance of the world into evil and darkness. Jen (voice of Stephen Garlick) is the last of the elfin Gelfling race who is assigned the task of finding the missing shard and putting it back in its rightful place before the Skeksis’ power becomes all-encompassing and darkness rules forever.   This is one of those movies that I was exposed to at such an early age that I’m fuzzy as to whether I even sat through the whole thing. I do remember not being terribly interested in it, but being that it came out in 1982 and I was born in 1980, it’s unsurprising. As a 32 year-old, I feel that although supposedly geared towards kids, the film actually works a lot better for an older audience, so long as they’re an audience exposed to The Muppets and interested in the fantasy g

Review: Labyrinth

Jennifer Connelly plays a teenager dreamer assigned the annoying task of babysitting her baby brother Toby while her parents are out. She wishes the Goblin King would come and take Toby away. And he (David Bowie) does. But she didn’t really mean it! Yeah, shame about that. In order to get Toby back, The Goblin King assigns Connelly (having whisked her away to a faraway land) the task of solving a series of puzzles in the title maze-like structure within a certain period of time. Meanwhile, Connelly encounters a series of colourful and eccentric characters and bizarre happenings and obstacles in her way.   This 1986 Jim Henson (co-creator of The Muppets, co-director of “The Dark Crystal” , both with Frank Oz) juvenile fantasy has a very special place in my heart as being one of, if not the first movie I ever saw in cinemas...that I didn’t get scared and start screaming like in. “Return to Oz” and “The Goonies” (the latter now one of my favourite films) were not happy cinema-

Review: Caught in the Crossfire

Two cops (Chris Klein and Adam Rodriguez) are told of a group of corrupt officers by a snitch (Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson), after a colleague of theirs has been gunned down. Unfortunately, when they go to check things out, the fit hits the shans and people die. As a result, Klein and Rodriguez are interrogated by cops Richard T. Jones and Matthew Matthias, to explain their actions. Needless to say, there’s more than meets the eye here, as it’s tough to tell the good guys from the bad guys.   If you’re a fan of cop shows like “The Wire” , then you might be able to tolerate this 2010 direct-to-DVD police number from writer-director Brian A. Miller, which features the ‘all-star’ line-up of ’50 Cent’, Chris Klein, Adam Rodriguez, and Richard T. Jones. It’s the kind of stuff you could see on a TV show, but not the kind of TV show I’d watch unless Agents Gibbs, DiNozzo or David are involved. It gave me nothing. A predictable and clich├ęd structure, and an ugly video look where night s

Review: Gallipoli

A WWI tale from the Australian POV, specifically focusing on two young lads (Mark Lee and Mel Gibson) enlisting to do their part in the war. The duo are runners back home, and although cynical Gibson feels this isn’t ‘our bloody war’, he decides to join his more patriotic mates nonetheless. Lee is an idealist who wants to enlist and join the Light Horse cavalry, even if it means lying about his age to get in. They become separated when Gibson’s lack of riding skills see him used as an infantryman, whilst Lee becomes part of the Light Horse cavalry, alongside his other mates (Tim McKenzie, David Argue, and Robert Grubb). Bill Hunter plays Maj. Barton, an Aussie officer forced by his pompous Brit superiors (who generally cock things up strategically, at the potential expense of young lives) to send these young men into skirmishes they likely won’t survive.   Directed by Peter Weir ( “Picnic at Hanging Rock” , “Witness” ) in 1981, this is without question one of the best Austra

Review: Arena

Kellan Lutz is in a sorry state. His girlfriend was killed in a car crash, and after a drunken hook-up with a sexy minx (Katia Winter), he is kidnapped and forced to compete in gladiatorial combat in an illegal tournament broadcast online and overseen by a megalomaniacal Samuel L. Jackson. I hate it when that happens. Daniel Dae Kim plays a fellow fighter, Nina Dobrev is Lutz’s ill-fated girlfriend, Johnny Messner plays Jackson’s lead henchman, and James Remar appears as a man claiming to be Lutz’s brother.   Y’know, Samuel L. Jackson is one helluva actor (just look at “Jackie Brown” , “Black Snake Moan” , “Jungle Fever” , “Changing Lanes” , etc.) and one of the coolest guys in movies ( “Shaft” , anyone?), but...every now and then he seems to lose his freakin’ mind and embarrasses himself on film. “The Spirit” , for instance, is a stupid arse film, but Jackson is embarrassingly hammy in it. And in this 2011 fight movie from director Jonah Loop, Jackson is once again having an