Showing posts from August 5, 2018

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), is yet to begin his sixth year at Hogwarts School, and things are already looking bleak and apocalyptic. The dreaded Voldemort his wraith-like Death Eaters, continue to wreak havoc on the wizard world, but rather brazenly, also attacking the world of Muggles. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), visiting Harry before school starts, asks the young wizard to accompany him to the home of Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), a former Hogwarts professor who many years ago, taught Tom Riddle (Frank Dillane), a troubled young wizard later to become the nefarious Voldemort. Slughorn holds the key to one of Riddle’s secrets, and with it, Voldemort’s weakness. Since Slughorn has a rapport and fondness for young wizards (no, he’s not a perv) Dumbledore wants Harry to convince Slughorn to return to Hogwarts as master of potions. Once there Harry re-joins his friends Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) as they stumble upon something conspiratorial between certain

Review: Dead Heat

Two cops (straight-laced Treat Williams, goofy but muscular Joe Piscopo) investigate robberies, end up at a pharmaceutical company (headed by the recently departed Vincent Price), with Lindsay Frost as a PR person. There they stumble upon a machine that can reanimate the dead, hence the near indestructibility of the robbers. Soon enough, poor Williams himself winds up dead…then Undead…then slowly dying again, hence the need to find out just who is behind this all. Darren McGavin has an inexplicable part as a gleefully shady coroner, whilst Robert Picardo plays a cop, and Keye Luke turns up in the kind of shady Asian mystic role that James Hong tends to get (I’d suggest Hong bothered to read the script, but this is the same guy who agreed to appear in “The Golden Child” and “Tango & Cash” , so maybe not), whilst the great Prof. Toru Tanaka is his hulking henchman. Slightly underrated, but incredibly uneven, somewhat flat 1988 mixture of cop-comedy and zombie/mad scientist

Review: There Will Be Blood

Sprawling story (spanning about 30 years) begins with entrepreneurial Daniel Plainview (chameleon-like Daniel Day-Lewis) attempting to strike first silver, and then oil (the ‘blood’ in the title). An accident on site finds Plainview ‘adopting’ young Dillon Freasier, the son of a colleague. He raises the kid as his own (more as a prop, though, or at best, an heir apparent), and soon has become known in the industry, looking to expand his empire. A tip from a peculiar young man named Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) leads Plainview and son (and business partner Ciaran Hinds) to California, and the Sunday family ranch, and soon Plainview has acquired drilling rights, at a steal, from Old Man Sunday. Dano turns up again as Eli Sunday, a high-strung, evangelical preacher, who wants money from Plainview to build a church, something Plainview initially agrees to (yeah, right!). Meanwhile, Plainview’s pursuit of wealth and power starts to take on more importance than his parental responsibilities,

Review: The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3

Four armed hijackers led by loudmouth John Travolta take over a NYC train, demanding a $10 million ransom. They will kill passengers one by one if their one hour deadline isn’t met. Enter dispatcher Denzel Washington, currently being investigated on bribery claims (and facing a suspension), and the would-be negotiator in this extremely tense situation. It’s up to Washington to keep things cool whilst the authorities, including NYPD negotiator John Turturro, scramble to come up with a proper strategy. Luis Guzman is one of Travolta’s cohorts, a disgruntled former rail employee, whilst James Gandolfini is the pompous mayor, Michael Rispoli is Washington’s boss, and Jason Butler Harner (the loony serial killer in “Changeling” ) is one of the passengers. In 1974, journeyman director Joseph Sargent directed an engrossing, perfectly cast, typically 70s New York thriller called “The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3” . If you haven’t seen it, do so, it’s terrific. In this 2009 Tony Scott rem

Review: Die Hard 4.0

AKA “Live Free or Die Hard”. Maverick cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back, a little older, world-weary, and possibly crankier. He is also having to contend with a teenage daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who is in that whole ‘dating’ period of her life (Bonnie Bedelia is once again AWOL, a shame), he’s been saddled with the piddly task of picking up computer hacker Justin Long and bringing him to FBI headquarters in Washington DC (headed by Cliff Curtis and Zeljko Ivanek) for his assistance in foiling the plans of cyber terrorist Timothy Olyphant (a disgruntled former FBI computer geek), and his chief arse-kicker Maggie Q. They’ve shut down the FBI’s computer system and are threatening to crash just about everything; Wall Street, traffic, pretty much the entire infrastructure. Call it the Cyber equivalent of doomsday, or the biggest damn blackout America has ever seen. So it’s up to Jack McClane...and his computer nerd accomplice...and the save the

Review: 50/50

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a public radio editor who finds out from his socially inept doctor that he has a form of spinal cancer that gives him, you guessed it, a 50-50 chance of survival. All things considered, that’s relatively high for cancer, but that’s hardly compensation, is it? Oh, and he’s just 27 years old and a perfectly bloody decent young man. A bitch, ain’t it? But it’s OK, he’s got his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) by his side. Well, actually, she seems incredibly uncomfortable around sick people, and there’s the small matter of her cheating on him. Prize catch she is. His mother (Anjelica Huston), meanwhile, is the opposite: too clingy and invading his personal space. Still, she’s a helluva woman, wanting to look after her sick son when her own husband has Alzheimer’s and needs her care too. Gordon-Levitt protests to everyone who will listen that he’s coping just fine, including to his young and rather inexperienced therapist, a grad student played by Anna Kendri