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Sunday, 30 July 2017

Mini Retro Review: Sexual Roulette (1997) #badmovies

Sexual Roulette
Erotic Drama

Low-grade direct- to -video/DVD softcore porn drama in the vein of Indecent Proposal, which starred Robert Redford, Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson, this was also released under the title of 'Carnal Risk', the film sees the role reversal of the husband spending the night with a woman. A young couple loses all of their money at the casino, whilst in Las Vegas and the hubby performs sexual favours for a seductress, in order to pay off the debt. Like with all movies of this kind (erotic drama/thriller) it has lots of raunchy naked sex scenes and little drama. The acting, or be it script is not bad, but it ain't great also. Although the lead characters in the couple are so shallow, their comeuppance is richly deserved. I did feel sorry for the wife, however. The story isn't that much to ponder and by throwing in a needless and pointless mob subplot, which has little significance on the actual film, is a waste.

Is it worth seeing?

If you enjoyed Indecent Proposal, you might enjoy this one. Otherwise, steer well clear


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Retro Movie Review: Old Dogs (2009) #RobinWilliams, #badmovies

Old Dogs
Cast: Robin Williams, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Seth Green, Lori Loughlin, Bernie Mac, Matt Dillon, Rita Wilson 
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $96 million 

Plot: Two friends and business partners find their lives turned upside down when strange circumstances lead them to be contemporary guardians of 7-yr-old twins

'Woeful Williams In Worthless 2000s Comedy'

Sitting through this turd, I was surprised to see Disney, in particular, being attached to Old Dogs: a comedy film that was originally intended to be an R-rated adult affair. But after test screenings showed that adults weren't too impressed, Old Dogs was retooled and tweaked to appeal to children and families.

Unfortunately, their changes and the somewhat odd premise rendered Old Dogs as being yet another truly bad Robin Williams film from his filmography. Compared to other lows in What Dreams May Come, August Rush, Bicentennial Man, this film is just as unrelatable, so unwatchable and painfully dire, quite frankly, it's shocking actually. Mistakenly dubbed an ensemble comedy, but for Robin and John Travolta, the rest of the names aren't exactly A-listers. 

Dan Rayburn (Robin Williams) along with John Travolta's Charlie are longtime business partners, and who are 'Old Dogs' go all the way back to college. One has become a bachelor, the other has discovered he is the father of fraternal twins from a woman he was briefly married to. Fast forward a few years later, Dan learns what it takes to be a father. 

The plot bears a slight resemblance to another Robin Williams comedy vehicle, 1997's Fathers' Day with Billy Crystal, which follows in a similar line but without the ''chasing after the kid'' subplot and with Robin being much older here, he is more in the vein of the granddad, rather than the 40-something dad. It tries to be similar in many ways to Fathers' Day with John Travolta acting as the straight man instead of Billy Crystal. Yet all-round, Old Dogs is a complete dog, as well as a catastrophe as a comedy with not so good comedy, lame fart jokes thrown in and humour as desperate as Robin Williams and John Travolta's attempts here, no matter their energy, with Robin he seems defeated. The forced comedy scenes from Robin Williams made me cringe and was not only wholly unfunny, but it was also nothing short of uncomfortable. 

Speaking of which the comedy wasn't that funny or witty, it felt forced and the slapstick was desperate and it just didn't tickle my funny bone. It was a film that didn't make me laugh or smile and the plot was so incompetent and not the least bit charming. The direction is mediocre, low-grade and lacklustre.

Seeing Robin Williams here made me rather sad; sad to see him associated with this film and this, in turn, makes me love Fathers' Day, Mrs Doubtfire, The Birdcage. Good Morning Vietnam and The Survivors and Club Paradise even more so than Old Dogs. His best days were over, the '70s, '80s and '90s, which have been a blessing to Robin in more ways than one, were over. The 2000s, like I mentioned earlier in one of my other reviews of Robin Williams movies, hasn't been a good one: as he got older, the worse his movies became, and he was no longer flavour of the month, or make that decade. His star quality and value diminished as his younger contemporaries took charge. As he was juggling with both dramatic and comedic roles, the quality of those movies dipped considerably low, ranging from sub-par to low-par fare that is instantly forgettable. It was disappointing to see.

Meanwhile, John Travolta is another story: he was slightly more at ease here than Williams and his career during the past 10 years has seen him in a variety of roles, such as the animated Bolt and Hairspray.

There is a scene where Travolta and Williams are playing Frisbee and with players charging into each other. There is another scene where Williams is sitting opposite a young girl pretending to drink tea and starts to go insane. The Travolta/Williams partnership could have worked - had they received a better and funnier script, a far better film and had that comedy- based effort been released and made in the 1980s.

It was a desolate, miserable viewing experience and when I look back at Robin Williams's career, I look back with fondness towards Good Morning, Vietnam, Mork & Mindy, Mrs Doubtfire, Hook, Aladdin. But not latter movies such as this - no fondness for Old Dogs, whatsoever. This is much, much worse than Fathers' Day: a comedy film panned by many, and yet Old Dogs is nowhere as funny, hilarious and entertaining and is lacking in heart by comparison. Unlike Fathers' Day's Dale, I didn't care one bit for Robin's other character, Dan.

Even if this film wasn't made by Disney, I still wouldn't have enjoyed it any more. You want to watch a Robin Williams comedy? Go for Good Morning, Vietnam, The Birdcage, Fathers' Day, Mrs Doubtfire. Even obscure fare in The Survivors - any or all of those will do and skip Old Dogs. 

Good thing this was under 1 hr 30 mins - and yet those 1 hr 30 mins felt like ages.


Pros +

- Seeing Robin Williams and John Travolta together

Cons -

- Bad, forced and unfunny comedy

- Incompetent and less than charming plot

- Unwatchable and painfully dire

- Sad to see Robin Williams being past his comedic best

- R-rated type of movie retooled as a Disney & family film doesn't cut it

Final Verdict:

This is an incompetent, unfunny mess with a plot that is incoherent and is totally insufferable and almost unwatchable.

This is also a horribly bad version of Daddy Day Care and this has Razzie award written all over it and as it is so worthy of one. A movie that hasn't a clue what a comedy is if it slaps itself in the face.

I wouldn't say this was the worst film I've sat through, but it is probably the worst Robin Williams comedy I've watched. And that is saying something. 

What Dreams May Come was depressingly horrible - and the film that for me began Robin's downward spiral, August Rush was another bomb, but Old Dogs really takes the cake. I didn't find one scene as feel-good or enjoyable throughout. & the jokes and humour were a mess, not very good and were not well conceived, at all.

This is not what I will remember Robin Williams for. & thus, this is one dog that deserves to be put down.


Friday, 28 July 2017

Mini Retro Review: The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) #badmovies

The Beverly Hillbillies

Penelope Spheeris's follow-up to the hugely successful Wayne's World starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey is a dire fish-out-of-water movie remake of a once popular TV show of the 1960s, which is every bit as corny as it is mundane. But for the appearance of 9- to 5's Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, the jokes were rather lame, the laughs weren't very good & it's not that funny. I know I am not the intended target audience for this film, as I didn't grow up with the original series, nor am I an avid fan. But still, it was pedestrian in every respect. Plus, this feels very much like a TV movie. The characters 'flipping the bird' was unexpected and given as the series was a family orientated affair, that was unnecessary to have. This so-called running gag gets old as well. Unimpressive acting that is cartoonish in nature with the cast hamming it up for the cameras & silly flatulence gags thrown in as well. Lea Thompson's against-type turn as a lecherous gold-digging schemer added to the film's woes. Arguably, she is far too delicate to play an evil villain. The only laugh I got is when she mentioned ''penis is hard to find'' in a dodgy French accent, construed as ''happiness''. 

Minus the charm & genuine hilarity of Wayne's World, Beverly Hillbillies is a mere cash-grab, rather than a remake that pays respects to its origins and fans.

Is it worth seeing?

For die-hard fanatics only


Thursday, 27 July 2017

Retro Review: Body Double (1984)

Body Double
Cast: Craig Wasson, Gregg Henry, Melanie Griffith, Deborah Shelton
Genre: Erotic Thriller
U.S Box Office Gross: over $8 million

Plot: An actor's obsession with spying on a beautiful woman who lives nearby leads to a baffling series of events with drastic consequences

'Enigmatic & Underwhelming, Body Double Should Have Offered More Excitement'

Director Brian De Palma began the 1980s with triple hits Dressed to Kill, Blowout and Scarface, but come 1984 there was Body Double: a Hitchcock-like voyeuristic offering that was slightly more glossy and a tad lighter fare, in contrast to his previously heavy efforts.

Jake Scully is an all-round simpleton and nice guy, who is also a struggling actor and claustrophobic, which in turn makes his role as a vampire who is buried in a grave, a bit more of a chore. After seeing his wife making out with another man, Jake moves on from her and starts afresh. He accepts an offer from a friend named Sam to house-sit at his luxury apartment and water his plants, whilst Sam is away. It is then that he is shown a telescope in which he gets to pry on neighbours, that include an attractive woman who lives opposite him in another apartment. When Jake sees her dancing naked, he becomes instantly fascinated with her and so he follows her. Until he notices that a strange figure is also on her tail. After witnessing her murder at the hands of this mysterious figure, Jake is under the impression that he has been set up & finds himself caught up in the middle of a murder, but with the help of Holly Buddy, he goes to depths and beyond in finding out who did it and the reason she was murdered and as he does so, the more he becomes sucked into the murky and seedy world of porn, where not everything is what it seems. 

A Rear Window style movie that gets off to a slow start, it eventually gets going an hour later. 

One major complaint I have with this film is that it takes over 60 minutes for a) the first actual killing to take effect and b) for Melanie Griffith to show up and to fully galvanize the movie. When Holly Body appears, that's when it becomes engaging. Because, for the exception of the masked killer, everything else leading up to that moment was not as inviting and exciting as it ought to have been. It takes a while for momentum to build up. It feels.... empty most of the time and it didn't grab me and pull me in straight away. The pacing was overkill for me that it was way too slow for me that I easily switched off. Usually, the slow pacing is used to build up the tension in films, but here I sensed it to be a rather distracting nuisance from the actual story and is as such, Body Double simply lacks drama and isn't as deep & it made for extremely monotonous viewing.  

Whereas Body Heat has almost the exact premise, if not the same execution, that film was a lot more watchable, partially thanks to Kathleen Turner. Body Double does try to evoke suspense through Jake's claustrophobia and at almost 2 hours long, this could have or should have had 30 mins chopped off and that all of the tension is built up, quickly and thus, making the film less of a chore to sit through. 

For a movie dubbed as an erotic thriller, Body Double is not that particularly sexually alluring or graphic enough. 

There were scenes where virtually very little was happening, very little dialogue was being uttered; just scenes of characters standing around and not doing much. & yet this is supposed to be a highly- charged thriller. The acting isn't much to ponder and nor does it make much of an impact on the film. Visually, it has a very high-end '80s style look and feel to it, but it appears that this hides the glaring fact that the narrative should have been far more enticing and dynamic. Particularly in Body Double's potency, which hasn't really been tapped into. 

The last 30 mins were better than first 1 hr 24 mins. 

Final Verdict:

It's a tad mysterious and surprisingly for a so-called erotic thriller, there are only 2 or 3 highly erotic scenes with 2 of the female characters naked. 

A nod to Hitchcock, I came away thinking that Body Double should have made the impact that I'd expected, but the fact that it took up way too much time, which didn't help with the slow pacing, meant that the momentum just didn't build up from the word go, nor was it maintained all the way through. 

Body Double, in truth and ideally, should have all added up; for all the bits of Crimes of Passion and other thrillers mixed in, the payoff isn't necessarily quite as adventurous as it was lauded by critics and as one expects.


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Retro Review: Howard The Duck (1986)

Howard The Duck
Cast: Chip Zien, Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins
Genre: Science Fiction Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: $38 million

Plot: A sarcastic humanoid duck is pulled from his homeworld to earth where he must stop an alien invader

'What The Duck?'

Howard The Duck is a film that as crazy as a premise is, would have made far more sense as an animated feature film, as opposed to being a live-action one. 

It is another one of those movies trashed by critics and is considered as one of the worst of the 1980s. I was 5 years old when it came out and I think I saw it on TV one time when I was 10 or something. It was a long time ago. But you know what? I chose to suspend my disbelief, go into the film with open eyes. & guess what? It's that bad.... yet it has a few watchable moments too.

A duck going by the name of Howard, who hails from a planet where ducks exist like humans, is sent to earth when a science experiment goes awry. Upon arrival, Howard is set upon by a few punks and chased by bikers. When Howard comes to the rescue of rock singer Beverley, who is being sexually harassed by some guys as she leaves the nightclub where her band perform on stage, in return for his bravery, she offers Howard a place to stay, whilst they figure out how to send him back to his own home. 

Ostracised, bombed at the box office at its original release and sent into movie oblivion, Howard The Duck is innovative in the special effects sense, but is inept and lame story-wise. The film plays out like a version of ET with Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins characters trying to get Howard back home. Howard The Duck is based on the comic book, but the film itself and the comics have little in common with one another. 

Lea Thompson plays some rocker chick named Beverley, whereas Tim Robbins is some scientist.

I must say that the mauling this film received all but killed off Lea Thompson's chances of being a fully-fledged A-list movie actress. Since this movie, she has a habit of starring and appearing in a string of Hollywood bombs (Dennis The Menace and The Beverly Hillbillies, anyone) & straight-to-DVD flicks, as well as a starring bill on the sitcom, Caroline In The City & the Jane Doe series of detective- based TV movies on the TV front. Additionally, Lea gets to sing here and she is a good singer. As well as make out with a midget in costume. Yet watching & reading interviews of Lea saying how much she loved & enjoyed this movie & relishing the sheer corniness & crappiness of it, makes me a little sad,  but hey, whatever takes her fancy. 

There was a scene where a couple were kissing and there is a small partial shot of what appears to be a young woman's breast - which took me by surprise as this is a 12 rated movie in the UK. Though I might be wrong here when I say Howard The Duck is still adult-oriented. & duck tits? Just even weirder. 

The bestiality-like scene where Bev and Howard are in bed together is just too weird and awkward to take into account, the writing is not very eye-catching enough, there are a couple of lull moments and the tone of the movie was rather confusing: one minute there is comedy, the next it is action. There are drama and satire but it goes nowhere. The first half was not bad, yet the second third was long and the story becomes duller, the comedy didn't work and I lost interest quickly, the longer the film went on. But the stop-motion effects were sound. 

Being a property of Marvel Comics and with Marvel Entertainment doing well on the cinematic front at the moment, perhaps they should remake or reboot Howard the Duck for today's market.

Or on second thoughts, don't.  

Final Verdict

One of 80s' oddities, Howard the Duck isn't that good, never mind great, but there is something strange about it that is kind of watchable in some parts. As weird as it and this character is. 

ET set in the city with added humour, this film would have been better if it made up its mind what type of movie it wants to be and to stick with it, but also it would have made far more sense going down the 2D animated route, instead. Just seeing the phoney humanoid duck was a tad eerie. 

Yes, it is corny and I suppose it is a film that one has to suspend their disbelief for, in order to enjoy it fully. But still, having said all that, & in all seriousness, Howard The Duck, speaking as a film, is just not good enough as the story was too bland and boring and the tonal shifts are just awkward to see. & unlike some, I didn't find it charming enough.

Though does it merit as a guilty pleasure for some people? Yes. 


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Retro Review: Exit Speed (2008)

Exit Speed
Cast: Fred Ward, Desmond Harington, Lea Thompson, Julie Mond, Gregory Jbara
Genre: Action

Plot: On Christmas Eve, ten strangers board a bus travelling across Texas. Far out in the wilds, they collide with a meth-addicted biker

'Z/B-Movie Action Offering That Is Rather Decent'

A low-budget action film that is a mash-up of Jan De Bont's Speed with Biker Boys, Exit Speed is another variation of the vehicle-based action flicks that sees a group of bus passengers bordering across Texas heading to El Paso, when they are confronted by a Meth-addicted biker who goes on to attack and take on each one of those passengers, as well as take out the bus driver. After the driver kills the biker, the other bikers look to seek revenge, thus forcing the other passengers off the road. They then take refuge in a scrap yard but no sooner do the bikers find them again, that the passengers find themselves under siege and are forced to take the law into their own hands and to fight back. 

Part-action, part human-interest drama, the premise is simple and not complicated to follow and is effective. The film wastes no time throwing in one action scene to another and when it does so, it's good. 

The effects are really good, what with the budget given and it seems as though they made the most out of it. The action is solid and at best, ranging from adequate to decent, but again, this is what one should expect from a low budget, straight-to-DVD flick. 

Watching Lea Thompson of Back To The Future & Caroline In The City, she is the most established name on the bill, yet she is not exactly a method actor; I don't know, I'm in two minds with her being in this film. Action is not really her forte and I don't associate these types of movies with her. But at the same time, seeing her here was a surprise and not something I'd expect. I didn't like it when she went ''I have children!'' as she strangled that female biker; I thought that was a bit too overdramatic for my tastes. I was cringing by that point. The other stock character performances were sub to below par.

Other issues I had were the bikers, characterisation-wise is bereft that it makes you not want to care so much for them or the protagonists, some of the scenes were a little too eccentric that bordered on ridiculous and the tension is sterile. But aside from that, the movie wasn't by any means boring. You have a non-English speaking Spanish elderly guy, who is like Q from James Bond/Maguyver making weapons out of objects, a chick who is a lot like Jennifer Lawrence's character from The Hunger Games, & can fire a bow and arrow very well, as well as a female army officer. 

The stunt-bike actors are what makes this film (as not very believable as they were, acting-wise) and without them, not only would Exit Speed not work as well, it wouldn't be as watchable, either. 

Final Verdict:

Those looking for a cinematic, Hollywood blockbuster should look elsewhere, as you will not find it here. Some will or may question Lea Thompson's inclusion- despite the limited script, some decent action, a few surprises that spring out of nowhere & it's nice to see a bunch of strangers coming and working together to defeat the bad guys. As far as B-action films go, Exit Speed is a pleasant surprise, if nothing special and as run-of-the-mill as it is, it still delivers from beginning to end, as it was entertaining. And for that alone, that is good enough for me. 

Exit Speed is the Hallmark/Lifetime Channel equivalent of Speed, & yet of which isn't too shabby. 

If you enjoyed films like Speed, and are more into the action side of things, this should do the trick.


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Mini Retro Review: The Unknown Cyclist (1998) #badmovies

The Unknown Cyclist

A TV movie by all accounts rather than a theatrical movie, The Unknown Cyclist has a promising premise but this is mainly dull, slow moving with characters I could care less about. 2 widowers - an ex-wife and the lover-, her husband who had left her for him, a friend and the hubby's brother all gather together and sign up for a charity ride, whilst en route scattering his late ashes. Lea Thompson (with a nose ring) re-enacts her role from the sitcom, Caroline In The City in this R-rated drama, almost shelving her clean-cut image and the character arcs and performances remain firmly rooted at the bottom & without making the required impact. Poignant moments are bogged down by a sentimentality that can be a little overdone, so-called funny scenes weren't so funny and the music is a little too sappy. I just find the movie to be so drawn out -yet tired and a mind-numbing bore-fest. 

Is It Worth Seeing? 

Should have been a whole better, but it's really not


Retro Review: Peter Pan (1953)

Peter Pan
Cast: Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Paul Collins, Tommy Luske, Hans Conried, Heather Angel, Bill Thompson   
Genre: Animated Adventure 
U.S Box Office Gross: over $40.7 million

Plot: Wendy and her brothers are whisked away to the magical world of Neverland with the hero of their stories, Peter Pan 

'With Dated Stereotypes and Underdeveloped Characterisations, 1950s Disney - Unlike Peter Pan- Didn't Grow Up' 

Disney's 1953's Peter Pan is more of a nostalgia trip than being a terrific movie that what was considered amazing at the time of the 1950s and despite being labelled as a classic, some elements of this film are either missing or have not been explored in full. This is the first time I've watched this particular version of Peter Pan and in sitting through it in its entirety, my feeling was that the kids were nice and cute, Wendy was all right, Peter Pan was so standoffish and Tinkerbell was selfish and malicious. Coupled with Captain Hook and Smee being their usual selves and a film that doesn't last very long and what we have is a Disney Peter Pan film, lauded at the time for being magnificent in every way during the 1950s, but in watching it today, not everything about it stacks up well. 

There have been other on-screen adaptations and incarnations of the Peter Pan tale - more notably the 1991 Spielberg epic, Hook and the 2003 film Pan, but Disney's version is the most famous and most recognisable by far and it's partly thanks to the great 2D art style and animations that are very fluid, as well as looking bright and colourful. 

This is the story of the boy who never grew up, who paid a visit to see Wendy and the Darling kids in London and who whisked them to Neverland.  

As I was sitting through this movie, I was making notes of the references that were also in Hook: the happy thoughts that made the characters fly, 'the second star to the right, straight on until morning' uttered by Peter Pan here and by Tinkerbell to Peter Banning/Pan in Hook, Captain Hook uttering 'Good Form!', Hook's fear of clocks. Hook, of course, was based on the original novel by JM Barrie and far less so in this Disney version, but it was interesting to find the references in this film that was also in Hook.

The film has a musical aspect to it unlike Hook, which was a fully-fledged fantasy adventure film and despite its short runtime, Peter Pan did not have fleshed out characterizations, nor was these characters touched upon properly. I wanted to know a bit more about Michael and John especially. 

The internalised racism implied in this film was something that was noted by several viewers with the Native American Indians. But what shocked me was how scheming and horrible this rendition of Tinkerbell was. She was devious and so overly and easily jealous of Peter Pan having all these female admirers.

Additionally, Tinkerbell never spoke here and whilst a lot of people saw that as a positive, the fact is she didn't have much of a character so to speak, and because of that, we, or be it I didn't know what to make of her in a positive sense. Also, she is not as likeable here as Julia Roberts's version in Hook, as here she was in such a cantankerous mood. She always had that irritated look on her face, which annoyed me and she did what she could to make Wendy angry. Tinkerbell, who is supposed to represent the spirit in the story of Peter Pan, in the Disney version is a one-dimensional shallow, selfish pixie. Smee, Hook's right-hand man, resembled one of the seven dwarves in Disney's other classic, Snow White.

In Tiger Lily, Wendy, the Mermaids and Tink were four female admirers of Peter Pan and yet I found that thing where they become smitten and jealous towards Peter far too catty. Tinkerbell is jealous of Wendy, so much so she almost turns to the dark side, the mermaids are jealous of Wendy, Wendy is jealous of Tiger Lily, catty and smarmy Tink sells Peter out - almost. Whereas Tink was too dislikeable for me, Wendy was a total bore and bland. The mermaids are no better themselves, either. Yet he is completely oblivious to all of this going on. It's like he is a chick magnet. 

Peter Pan is not completely horrible or bad, but at the end of the day, but for say John, Michael, I felt little for this film and didn't care much for it. Enjoyment-wise, it's okay but the portrayals and characterisations of the characters are both not fleshed out very well and are also very dated, and in the case of Tink and Peter Pan, the two main protagonists of whom we are supposed to root for - are (and more so with Tink) downright dislikeable, compared to the ones in Steven Spielberg's Hook

The racial elements and the scene with John smoking- which shocked me- that Disney of today wouldn't put in their films today were disappointing to see here and is not something I'd expect from a company that targets their products at families and children. 

Peter Pan may have been the boy that never grew up, but it is the Disney of the earlier years, through some of their offensive images and not so good characterisations, who are the bigger culprits with this offering that did not. 

Final Verdict

The animation and art style are great, the nostalgia factor is there, but for those two reasons, everything else about this film was so underwhelming and some of it also took me by surprise, and not in a positive way.

People can say whatever they want about Hook, but for me, Steven Spielberg and screenwriters James V. Hart and Malia Scotch Marmo in the live-action Hook of 1991 had duly put right what most of Disney had got wrong with this animated film.   


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Mini Movie Review: After Earth (2013) #badmovies

After Earth
Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction

A sci-fi family story conceived in such a dreary and overly serious way without much payoff, a father and his teenage son are stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after surviving an asteroid storm and the pair must work together to have any chance of returning home. 

Sitting through this movie, I struggled to come up with anything remotely positive about After Earth: a film that one expects to be a sci-fi hit, but misses the mark in practically more ways than one and the way it is conceived by Shyamalan, whose intentions and direction here and with The Last Airbender, is so often misguided, as well as beggars belief. 

What's with the weird accents from Jaden and Will Smith? Their voices sound terrible when they speak and the acting is stiff and passionless. Will is too intense, broody, passive and serious and the idea of an alien that only ''sees'' by smelling, is beyond a farce. The thing with this film is director M. Night Shyamalan wants the audience to take this film seriously and to heavily invest interest in the characters, but how can we when it is so ridiculous as it is? 

No doubt Will Smith is one of Hollywood's biggest movie stars, but for say Ali, Men In Black 1 and Bad Boys 1, I've yet to truly love any other film he has done. Loved his TV work on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but disappointed at some, or be it most of his film projects. 

The non-American accents by the other characters in this film are also laughable. Poor acting, boring story, a boring film actually that not only made me switch off numerous times, but it is devoid of genuine and good action, thrills, tension and excitement. Plus, it is so hokey. After 30 mins, I switched it off completely. 

This is a big Willie train wreck from a director, who was once compared to Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock. 

Is It Worth Seeing?

Dear no 


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Movie Review: Precious (2009)

Cast: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sheri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz
Genre: Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $63 million

Plot: In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enrol in an alternative school, in the hopes that her life can head in a new direction

'Raises So Many Questions, However Daniels's Answers Are Mostly In Vain' 

Lee Daniels's film in Precious, courtesy of the backing by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry made huge waves at the Sundance Festival back in 2009 and it was hyped to the max and was hailed by a number of movie critics. 

Clareace 'Precious' Jones is 16 years old and an underprivileged teen, who lives in squalor in a Harlem apartment she shares with her abusive mother, has a light-skinned boyfriend of whom her mother disapproves, is overweight, she was raped by her mother's boyfriend and ended up giving birth to their child, and now she's pregnant with their second child. You couldn't make this up - no, scratch that, it is made up and it is all based on fiction. But still, this is harrowing stuff, nevertheless; certainly, these elements were a stark reminder of how sad and desolate this film is. After enrolling in a special school, Precious plans to turn her life around for herself and to see it as her ticket out of her dire situation. For 1 hr, 50 mins, the film is not devoid of events and scenes occurring in Precious Jones's life in Precious. From stealing food in a fried chicken shop, throwing up afterwards, being hit with a frying pan aimed by her mother and being sexually assaulted by her mother's boyfriend. The movie's title seems to set up Precious Jones as this special person. The film's trailer gives off the impression that this would be a film of inspirational hope and sappiness. But in fact, it's far from it, but it is also not quite the mawkish and moody film it has been touted as. 

There is a tone that evokes a viciousness and verging on the state of being morbid and the film treads a middle ground. The language in the incessant usage of B-words and F-words is harsh, there is a scene where Precious is at a fried chicken shop, steals a bucket of chicken and runs off. A scene that many people will find insulting and which reinforces stereotypes of Blacks and African-Americans, as well as the scene where Precious finds out she has AIDS. The Black & White Minstrel Show and days of Birth of A Nation are clearly over - if this was a White director in charge who had scenes where Blacks were stealing and eating fried chicken, or a black girl being raped by her faceless monster of a father, there would be an uproar in the Black community. Had Precious also had a bottle of Kool-Aid and a piece of watermelon on her, that would have really riled people up. Precious was no angel, but of course, that doesn't excuse the level of physical abuse she had gone through. Although most people were also taken aback by how all the light-skinned characters here were depicted as 'saviours' and for rescuing Precious, a poor Black teen from her situation. Me personally, I didn't think much of this accusation, because I didn't pay much attention to it. 

The story is unreal and as fictional as it is, the performances by the likes of Mon'ique and Mariah Carey are what saves this film from being forgettable because the direction of this film is too one-dimensional and hardly thought-provoking & there is little depth evoked. As much as it tries to be like that. Character development is barely minimal, as Lee Daniels seeks to rely on shock scenes and of Precious's sad, sorry and unfortunate predicament to drum up interest. I don't think the film has enough respect for the main character. 

This is an emotionally manipulative movie that plays on the audiences' emotions and seeks to extract that out of us, but of which it does this by confirming and exploiting the very stereotypes that Blacks and African Americans and ethnic minorities have been rallying against, for years. To say Precious dispels racist stereotypes is an underestimation. I can now see why some Blacks were offended by this film - Lee Daniels tries to fool audiences into making us feel sorry for Precious, which to some extent we, or I do: it's the intent of Daniels to rely on sob stories, as well as rather demeaning racist cliches associated with, or be it people link African Americans and Blacks in general with, that really upset a lot of people. & understandably, they had every right to make that clear. 

I also felt that in some ways, even though this film is about the lead character, most of the time, Precious's human side just wasn't fully explored and addressed properly; but for all her dreams, aspirations, self-image, her poor living conditions, I came away from this film thinking that Lee Daniels and the screenwriter dropped the ball with this aspect & they didn't do more with it, even though I wanted to know more about this character. 

But still, this movie was still compelling to watch for the performances, more than for any other reason. 

Despite Mariah Carey and Monique's impressive performances, Precious is lacking in identity as a film and feels very ordinary and the revelationary storyline that the film was alluding to, just wasn't that mind-blowing. Add to that also, the editing in this movie is muddled and sloppily done. Thankfully, it ended nicely and as I'd had envisioned it to be. 

Final Verdict

To say I was moved throughout or in places during this movie is something I'd disagree with. I never felt that way as I sat through Precious. The exaggerations were cartoonish and the writer and the director did go a bit overboard with this one. I'd also question its best picture nomination at the Sundance Festival, but then again, I've always been in two minds over award ceremonies & the films they opt for, anyhow. Withstanding all of this, I cannot deny that this film was watchable, as much as I do question some or most of the aspects and flaws of it. 

Had it not been for the impressive performances, the film would never have warranted all the attention it had received, I suppose. 

For Precious, it's a movie that tries to get a reaction out of audiences and to play the sympathy card, rather than making strides towards a more thorough and less abrasive narrative. 


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Retro Review: Five Superfighters (1979) #Hongkongcinema

Five Superfighters (Tong San ng Foo)
Cast: Austin Wai, Hau Chiu Sing, Tony Lung, Kuan Feng, Wu Yuen Chun
Genre: Martial Arts

Plot: Three martial arts students and their teacher are beaten up badly by a wandering man who proclaims himself a ''corrector of bad Kung Fu''. Determined to avenge their teacher & regain their honour, the three students all go their separate ways to find kung fu masters who will take them as students.

'Super Shaw Bros Showing'

I stumbled upon this rare Cantonese Hong Kong offering from the Shaw Brothers: 5 Superfighters is an action flick that harkens back to the days of traditional Chinese martial arts through kung fu films of the 1950s and 1960s in Hong Kong cinema. Shaw Brothers movies tend to be in the Mandarin dialect but after finding the Cantonese dub with English subtitles, I knew I had to see this one.

This is a fight-filled extravaganza, full of extraordinary kung fu fights on show and moves executed with flair, precision, speed and technical skill. It's non-stop with the fight sequences and of which barely pause for one second. The fluidity in which the moves all flow together is so seamless, and also lightning fast. The plot sees an old master and his 3 apprentices learn kung fu in various forms in order to prepare for their confrontation with an evil bully, who had previously defeated them and to exact their revenge. We get to see each fighter perfecting their own style of kung fu during their training scenes and when they get together to take on their adversary, it's great to watch also. 

In the style of Drunken kung fu fighting, Five Superfighters never lets up from the first minute to the last.

The plot is not much to ponder, but the uttered dialogue maintained my interest, in addition to the good performances. Five Superfighters is in many respects a stupendous old-school style martial arts movie that as basic as both its formula and structure are, as a film, it is also highly entertaining and watchable. 

It may be very lightweight in contrast to the Shaw Brothers previous offerings, but that, along with the Cantonese dubbing, made it even more worthwhile for me. 

Final Verdict

Five Superfighters is, in many ways super, and more so through the incredible kung fu scenes. Highly recommended. 


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