Showing posts from August 27, 2017

Review: Species

Government scientist Sir Ben Kingsley oversees the fatal gassing of what appears to be a very frightened young girl (Michelle Williams). Named Sil, she manages to escape and quickly shows us that she’s no ordinary girl, but a human-alien hybrid created after SETI received alien messages containing alien DNA code. Sil also happens to be growing at a rapid rate and soon played by a debuting Natasha Henstridge. Hoping to contain the situation before Sil can find a male to breed with, Kingsley assembles a team to track her down. The team includes freelance ‘problem solver’ Michael Madsen, empath Forest Whitaker, molecular biologist Marg Helgenberger, and anthropologist Alfred Molina. A great B+ cast is mostly misused in this formulaic, unimaginatively-plotted 1995 sci-fi/horror outing from Aussie-born journeyman director Roger Donaldson ( “No Way Out” , “Thirteen Days” , “The Recruit” , “The Bank Job” ). Well-shot and lit by cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak (later the director of

Review: The Man Who Knew Infinity

The story of Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar (a very sincere, quietly powerful Dev Patel) who was born and raised in India in the early 1900s. He had a way with numbers that eventually saw him travel to Cambridge University in England where he would be mentored by cranky professor G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons), his polar opposite in many ways. Leaving behind a new wife (Devika Bhise) and hysterically disapproving mother (Arundathi Nag, given a ridiculous task), and facing much local prejudice, and great opposition from the majority of the fussy, rigid Cambridge academia, Ramanujan nonetheless perseveres in his quest to have his mathematical formulas published. Hardy, for his part begins as a rather clinical mentor constantly trying to get Ramanujan to show his workings to numbers the young Indian insists come from a divine inspiration. Eventually though, Hardy comes to admire and respect the man…whilst still trying to get him to show his bloody workings. Kevin McNally plays Ramanujan’s chief

Review: Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)

Troubled cop Ethan Hawke, just finishing his psych session with pretty shrink Maria Bello is set to count down the few remaining hours of the current year and of the title precinct, which is to be shut down for good. On duty with him are an old timer inevitably named Jasper O’Shea (Brian Dennehy, playing a character who, also inevitably, is retiring), slightly trashy secretary Drea De Matteo, and when a snowstorm intervenes, even Bello finds herself stuck back at precinct 13. The storm also causes a prison bus carrying a notorious crime lord (Laurence Fishburne, in full magisterial badass mode) to seek refuge at precinct 13. Also on the bus were a trio of lowlife crims played by Aisha Hinds, rapper Ja Rule and inevitably, John Leguizamo (I was looking for M.C. Gainey, Danny Trejo, and Nick Chinlund, but perhaps they were on another prison bus…or plane). Enter a team of heavily-armed corrupt cops (led by Gabriel Byrne, bringing more to his character than is in the script) who are eith

Review: Star Trek Beyond

With Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) both contemplating serious life choices, the Enterprise crew responds to a rescue assignment that turns bad and causes catastrophic damage to the Enterprise. The crew are forced to abandon ship and hop into lifepods that land in separate parts of an alien planet. Warrior-like alien Krall (Idris Elba) wants something Kirk has, and if he gets possession of it, it’ll result in all kinds of hell. Spock finds himself having to team up with the ever-irascible Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban), whilst Scotty (Simon Pegg) finds himself teaming with an alien warrior woman named Jaylah (A heavily made-up Sofia Boutella), a scavenger who has her own score to settle with Krall. Although I enjoyed the previous two J.J. Abrams-directed “Star Trek” films, I did have some reservations in regards to the way Abrams had treated all that came before him and his version of the franchise. To be honest, I don’t fall into lock-step with people on the previous in

Review: Office Space

Disgruntled office worker Ron Livingston (tired of the daily grind and constant clock-watching) is transformed by the death of an occupational hypnotherapist (Michael McShane) and emerges a new, carefree man. No longer will he take his passive-aggressive, condescending middle-management boss Gary Cole’s crap, and hey, if he doesn’t feel like coming in to work today, gosh darn it, he won’t. Hell, he even works up the courage to ask out pretty equally disgruntled waitress Jennifer Aniston. And then he comes up with an idea along with his equally disgruntled computer-wiz co-workers Ajay Naidu and David Herman (who, as a man named Michael Bolton, wants that ‘no talent ass clown’ to change his name). They use a complicated software program to rip the company off and make themselves rich (albeit incrementally). But here’s the gag: it’s an idea Herman gets from “Superman III” ! Diedrich Bader is Livingston’s lazy, breast-obsessed redneck neighbour, John C. McGinley is an anal management co

Review: Extremities

Farrah Fawcett is attacked one night in her car by a masked assailant. She manages to escape, but the police barely seem to care and send her back home with the promise that if she calls, they’ll come by. Yeah, thanks for that, especially since her attacker stole her ID and knows where she lives. When her attacker (played by James Russo) does indeed show up at her house intending on raping her, Fawcett is left to fend for herself. Alfre Woodard and Diana Scarwid play her two dopey roommates. Based on a stage play that I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of audience would attend, this 1986 film from director Robert M. Young ( “Rich Kids” , “Dominick and Eugene” ) is a film of two halves. Scripted by playwright William Mastrosimone ( “Sinatra” ) himself, the first half is dull, grossly exploitative and not remotely my idea of entertainment, whilst the second half is increasingly stupid. Seriously, even if you’re somehow a fan of the rape-revenge thriller subgenre, the second

Review: The Forger

John Travolta plays a forger who makes a deal with the devil (a Boston mob guy played by Anson Mount) to get an early release from prison so that he can spend time with his terminally ill son (Tye Sheridan), who has inoperable brain cancer. Mount in return asks for Travolta to ply his usual trade to forge a Monet painting and perform a heist to swap it with the real thing so that Mount can make his Latino mobster crony happy. Travolta, by the way, is currently living with his elderly veteran pickpocket father (Christopher Plummer) who has been raising the boy. Travolta is also being watched by the authorities (one played by Abigail Spencer) who want to nab Mount. Jennifer Ehle turns up briefly as the boy’s estranged birth mother. I had heard some pretty poor things about this 2016 heist movie meets fathers-and-sons flick by director Philip Martin (a director of mostly British TV) and screenwriter Richard D'Ovidio (similarly not-bad genre films like “Exit Wounds” and “The C