Showing posts from August 24, 2014

Review: Treasure Planet

A futuristic update of “Treasure Island” sees young Jim Hawkins find a map supposedly showing the title planet, where a famed pirate is said to have hidden untold riches. A family friend, milquetoast Dr. Doppler (voiced by David Hyde Pierce) funds an expedition that sees he and the boy join the crew aboard the ship (and we’re not talking the water-logged kind, either) of prim and proper Capt. Amelia (voiced by Emma Thompson). Unfortunately, there be nasty cutthroats among the Captain’s crew, headed by Long John Silver (voiced by Brian Murray), a cyborg who has self-serving motives in mind. Martin Short voices an absent-minded robot named B.E.N., whilst Roscoe Lee Browne voices the first mate, Mr. Arrow, and Patrick McGoohan lends his voice to the character of Billy Bones.   The Magic Kingdom simply give up trying here in this lame, lazy 2002 attempt at modernising “Treasure Island” with the barest of sci-fi variations. It is one of the worst Disney animated films to date, a

Review: The Man of Tai-Chi

(Tiger) Hu Chen stars as Tiger, a student of Tai-Chi who proves so impressive at a martial arts tournament that he earns the attention of sleazy businessman Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves!) who invites him to fight for money in his own underground tournament. Tiger has been brought up to believe that using such skills for financial gain is morally wrong, but when he finds out that his Master’s ancestral temple is to be torn down, he finds what he believes as an honourable motive for fighting for cash in a tournament streamed worldwide on the web. Meanwhile, HK police officers Karen Mok and Simon Yam are looking to nab Donaka Mark for his illegal activities.   So the time has come that Keanu Reeves makes his directorial debut with this martial arts flick from 2013 that has about 5,000 producers and EPs. You’ve never heard of it, but Keanu the director doesn’t offer up an “On Deadly Ground” (Steven Seagal), if miles away from “Night of the Hunter” (Charles Laughton) or “Frailty” (

Review: Everyone Says I Love You

Centred around the lives of an extended family and told from the POV of Natasha Lyonne, daughter of Woody Allen and Goldie Hawn, who have long been divorced but still friends. Hell, Woody’s practically best friends with her husband, Alan Alda. The film is mostly centred around Lyonne’s step-sister Drew Barrymore’s engagement to the very nervous Edward Norton. Meanwhile, recently single Allen tries to chat up a beautiful, but artistic younger woman (Julia Roberts) very different from himself. Lukas Haas plays Alda’s arrogant son who has recently announced his Conservative political leanings. Gaby Hoffmann and Natalie Portman play a couple of teenagers who are both into the same boy. Tim Roth turns up as the pet project of progressive Hawn, a recently paroled man whose path to reform may still have a few rough spots yet to hit.   I can think of few things worse than a musical, but a musical made by Woody Allen? That might just be the in-flight movie on the way down to my own pe

Review: We’re No Angels (1955)

Three seedy prisoners with life sentences over their heads (Humphrey Bogart, Sir Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray) break out of Devil’s Island and whilst hanging around a French port, they plan to steal from a local shopkeeper (Leo G. Carroll). However, the shop’s books aren’t looking so good right now, and so the hardened crims decide to pose as handymen willing to fix the shop’s damaged roof, in exchange for Carroll and his family giving them food and lodging. They’ll get to the looting later. That’s their story at least, their melting hearts seem to suggest otherwise. Basil Rathbone turns up as Carroll’s cold-hearted cousin come to inspect the books for the shop he owns.   This 1955 crime-comedy from director Michael Curtiz ( “The Adventures of Robin Hood” , “Casablanca” ) and screenwriter Ranald MacDougall (writer of “The Mountain” , director of the underrated “The World, the Flesh, and the Devil” ) is nothing stellar, but it’s an entertaining one with a fine cast. Sometimes t

Review: The Railway Man

The story of Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), an English railway enthusiast who has never gotten over the physical torture and psychological effects of being a POW held captive by the Japanese during WWII. On one of his regular train trips, the timetable-obsessed Lomax meets and quickly romances Patti (Nicole Kidman). After they are married, Lomax’s unhealed scars make themselves known, and Patti feels at a loss as to what to do. She turns to fellow former POW Finlay (Stellan Skarsgaard), but he warns her against prying too much. Meanwhile, Finlay learns that the Japanese interpreter who witnessed the torture is still alive and now works at a war memorial. Jeremy Irvine plays the younger Lomax, whilst Hiroyuki Sanada plays the older version of the interpreter.   Strong, sincere performances give a lift to otherwise fairly well-worn territory in this 2013 film from Aussie director Jonathan Teplitzky (who made the amusing bogan crime-comedy “Gettin’ Square” in 2003). Based on the mem

Review: Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl

Um…here we go. Supposedly hunky Takumi Saito is romantically pursued by bitchy VP’s daughter Eri Otoguro, but quiet girl Yukie Kawamura beats him to it, giving him a special chocolate for Valentine’s Day. Said chocolate contains her blood, and since she is a vampire, it leaves him craving blood too. Meanwhile, Otoguro’s dad the VP (Kanji Tsuda) is in the basement with the school nurse conducting experimentations in the reanimation of the dead. You see where this is heading, no doubt, but I bet you never counted on the ‘Wrist-Cutting Championships’. Yep. You read that correctly.   Based on a comic book, this 2009 exploitation film from directors Yoshihiro Nishimura ( “Tokyo Gore Police” ) and Naoyuki Tomomatsu (the latter of whom scripted) is further proof that this sort of stuff was done better in the 80s and 90s, and usually in Cat III films from Hong Kong. One splatter effect involving a partial skeleton suggests the filmmakers have seen “The Seventh Curse” . Me too, and it