Showing posts from July 30, 2017

Review: The Day They Robbed the Bank of England

Set in 1901, IRA man Hugh Griffith hires Canadian-born Aldo Ray and several others (including pretty Elizabeth Sellars) to do the title deed for political funding purposes. Peter O’Toole is the posh guard Ray befriends and attempts to dupe. Miles Malleson has an excellent extended cameo as an assistant curator of a museum whom Ray gets vital maps from. Tough, well-shot, but slow-moving and unexciting 1960 John Guillermin (The excellent “The Blue Max” , and the enjoyably schlocky “The Towering Inferno” down to the abysmal “King Kong” remake) heist film seems like a can’t-miss idea, but it does miss. This is mostly due to the tragic miscasting of Ray, who hasn’t a strong enough presence for leading man status (and really, what’s a guy named Aldo doing in a film like this anyway?), but it’s also dour, plodding, and lacking the fun and style one usually associates with a caper film. It does, however, feature a brilliant, early appearance by O’Toole, who walks off with the whole p

Review: Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey

Outside of the excellent VH1 series “The Story of Metal” (seriously, it’s a must for any metal fan), this 2006 doco from Canadian anthropology grad and metal-head Sam Dunn is the definitive essay on the much derided subject of heavy metal music. Dunn uses his academic background and genuine interest/passion for the genre to investigate its roots, its variants, in order to ultimately explore why the genre of heavy metal and its legion of fans are so misunderstood and often derided for a lack of intelligence. We are presented with a ginormous, unruly flow-chart noting the various subgenres and off-shoots, as well as interviews and opinions from several metal luminaries; Late, diminutive metal god Ronnie James Dio, Iron Maiden front man Bruce Dickinson (perhaps the best metal vocalist of all-time), Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snyder, Motley Crue’s Vince Neil, musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie and others. We even get the occasional scholar to pontificate on the subject. Dunn also c

Review: Sniper: Special Ops

An American Special Ops group led by Sergeant Mosby (Tim Abell) and featuring crack sniper Chandler (Steven Seagal) are conducting a mission to rescue an idiot American congressman who got himself in serious shit kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan. After the mission is complete, Chandler stays behind with a wounded soldier while Mosby and the rest of his men (perennially laidback professional wrestler Rob Van Dam among them) are ordered by Lt. Col. Jackson (Dale Dye) to go out on another mission, rather than go back for Chandler and the wounded soldier. So off they go on a munitions extraction mission, and when they arrive at the munitions truck, they find the daughter-in-law of a Taliban leader is there along with her baby. That’s when things get a little more complicated, though also provide opportunity for a potential assistance to Seagal and company who are pretty much sitting ducks at this point. Charlene Amoia turns up as an annoying reporter with an Admiral for an uncle a

Review: Marabunta

Deadly flesh-eating South American Marabunta ants are somehow wreaking havoc in the town of Burly Pines, Alaska. Good thing entomologist Eric Lutes is on hand to try and save the day. Julia Campbell plays a local woman who helps him out, whilst Mitch Pileggi is the local police chief and Patrick Fugit turns up briefly as a local young punk. Man I would’ve enjoyed the hell out of this had I seen it on original release. I still like cheesy monster movies (or in this case, animal attack films), but back in 1998 I was all about them, and the worse they were…quite often the more entertaining they were. This TV movie from directors Jim Charleston (a veteran TV director, he did four eps of “The X-Files” among many other shows) and debutant George Manasse (normally a producer and unit production manager) looks nice for what probably wasn’t a huge budget and certainly gets right into the action, which is nice. Meanwhile the offbeat and interesting music score by Daniel Licht ( “Necrono

Review: Never Cry Wolf

Charles Martin Smith plays a scientist/researcher who ventures to the Arctic hinterlands to study Arctic wolves in order to determine if they’re the reason behind the thinning of the caribou (reindeer) herd in the region. Brian Dennehy (one of the greatest actors to have never been nominated for an Oscar) has an excellent cameo as a seaplane pilot. An unusually adult offering from Disney, this 1983 somewhat fictionalised true story from director Carroll Ballard (slightly similar fare like “The Black Stallion” , “Wind” , “Fly Away Home” , and “Duma” ) is one of the better films of its type. A pitch-perfect Charles Martin Smith has the role of his career and doesn’t disappoint as the nerdy biologist studying wolves for six months in the Arctic hinterlands. He’s pretty much the only human being on camera for the bulk of the film, so if you cast the wrong actor the film would be a disaster. Smith is perfect casting playing a guy who falls into an ice-hole 30 minutes into the film

Review: Next of Kin

Patrick Swayze (with truly ridiculous hair) is a hillbilly turned Chicago cop who takes on mobsters Andreas Katsulas (typecast, but fine) and his vicious son Adam Baldwin after they have his naive brother Bill Paxton (also having moved to the Big Smoke) killed. Liam Neeson is Swayze’s other brother Briar, defiantly proud of being a toothless hick, who scoffs at Swayze’s by-the-book methods of law and order. Helen Hunt plays Swayze’s sweet wife, and inexplicably a young Ben Stiller turns up as Katsulas’ other son, a brown-nosing yuppie. Ted Levine plays a fellow hick, and Michael J. Pollard plays...erm...Michael J. Pollard as a hotel manager (The guy gives the same performance in everything, and he’s good at it I guess). High-concept 1989 John Irvin (The solid war flick “The Dogs of War”, but after this and the awful Arnie flick “Raw Deal” , proved that action wasn’t his thing) cop-actioner sounds like it can’t miss, especially with that cast but it’s pretty stupid, dull and unc