Tag Archives: D

5 Disney Movies 1995 to 1999 – 135

Tarzan

In this cast, Mark and Sam talk about assorted movies and the latest Godzilla trailer, and about 5 Disney movies:

  • Pocahontas
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Hercules
  • Mulan
  • Tarzan

Destry Rides Again 4.5/5

nullDestry Rides Again

Ridiculously good comedy Western from 1939, with James Stewart as the thoughtful Destry, and Marlene Dietrich showing you why she was such an inspiration for Lilly Von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles. A really well-written, excellently cast and funny oldschool comedy.

Damnation Alley 2/5

Damnation Alley

Wow, how can a movie that opens with world war 3, and then features giant scorpions, killer cockroaches, murderous, rapey irradiated hillbillies and a flood be this boring? And it has Jean Michael Vincent and George Peppard!

The only cool thing about it was their land cruiser, and some of the sky special effects.

I saw this movie maybe 30 years ago, and enjoyed it a lot better then. Maybe it’s better suited to young teens. In the 70s.

Dial M For Murder 4/5

Dial M For Murder

Pretty damn good procedural murder/detective story from Hitchcock, where the cool, meticulous planner becomes unravelled by little deviations from the plan.

The only thing that seems unbelievable is what man in his right mind is tired of being married to Grace Kelly?

In the police inspector, I see the spiritual parent of Columbo.

Down Periscope 3/5

Down Periscope

Whilst this is a lightweight comedy/drama, I found it a very satisfying and fun watch, and even felt I learned something about crewing in a submarine. The cast was good, in particular the crew – even Rob Schneider was okay in it. Definitely worth a watch.

Doghouse 3/5

Doghouse

Goofy horror movie that just about works. Some of it isn’t great – the dialogue is not good (it’s clichéd) but delivered with some gusto, and you can tell some of the scenes probably seemed much better on paper than was actually delivered, but there was some good stuff. The zombie/monster design and choreographed movement was pretty good, and it wasn’t just plain zombies, it was part-zombie, part-resident evil mutant, and part deadite. There was an obvious riff on the eyeball scene in Evil Dead 2 that involved a golf ball, and there were several well-set-up scenes.

David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive 3.5/5

Pretty solid documentary, where the incomparable David Attenborough lets you about the life histories of various exhibits that belongs to the National History Museum, London (a truly beautiful building, by the way).

They realise this by using CGI to animate the exhibits (as bones, or with fur/skin/feathers). It’s a good watch, and very, very kid-friendly.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels 3/5

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Reasonably charming comedy, with some laugh out loud moments (watch out for the mention of a ‘genital cuff’, and Caine testing the paralysis in Martin’s legs), and a ton of charm from Caine and Martin. Glenne Headly also does really well not to be swamped by these two.

The Dambusters – Dated but excellent war movie, focussing on both ingenuity and bravery 8/10

The Dambusters (1955) 

This movie is based on the true story of a raid by British bombers to take out the dams of Germany, used to power and aid in the steelmaking process, powering Germany’s war machine. It’s dated somewhat both in presentation (the dialogue is clipped, very stiff-upper lip) and certainly in its special effects. It’s also a bit problematic in that the leader – Guy Gibson – has a dog whose name is now quite a severe racial slur (the N-word), and whose presence is throughout the movie – which is a shame as it means they barely ever put this movie on the TV.

However, it’s very stirring stuff, despite being pretty anti-gungho. I really enjoy how technical problems kept coming up, and the boffins or the airmen just shrug and say ‘we’ll work it out’ – and they do just that for each and every seemingly-impossible problem, by sheer ingenuity and brainpower. The attack requires a new type of bombing mechanism – the ‘bouncing bomb’, thought up by Barnes Wallis – one of the great engineers of the war, which has to dispatched at exactly the right height and distance from the target.

The bombers who have already dropped their load go in with each run of the next bomber to help draw flak, and given these men have to fly very low over water at night, with spotlights on, and always unload the bomb in exactly the same position – these guys were sitting ducks and they knew it.

It’s a movie of brave men training to fly at insanely low heights for hundreds of miles just to get where they needed to, and then fly into flak with courage and coolness to deliver their payload. There’s no dflag-waving, there’s no histrionics, just men knowing what they have to do, and doing it. It ends in a downbeat way, with the survivors resting in their bunks, whilst the bunks of the 56 lost men lie empty.

A war movie with a documentary feel, I’d thoroughly recommend this as long as poor special effects don’t bother you.

Rating: Good, 8/10

TV Review: Doctor Who Regeneration 1 Series 003 – The Edge of Destruction 5/10

Doctor Who Regeneration 1 Series 3: The Edge of Destruction (aka Inside the Spaceship aka Beyond the Sun)

This two-episode serial is quite unusual.  It only features the 4 main principals, and is set entirely on the Tardis.  The story is that the crew awake disorientated, and slowly realise it’s a race against time to figure out what’s wrong before the Tardis is destroyed.

It’s an odd one, especially the first part of the first episode, where the cast act completely disorientated, repeat things like they can’t remember what they said, and so on.  As it goes on, they get more lucid, but various issues arising from earlier serials come to a head.  The doctor shows distrust of Ian and Barbara, thinking they are trying to sabotage the ship, but slowly realises he’s wrong, and how valuable his new crewmates are.  We also get a setup of the Tardis being more than a machine, having some sort of innate intelligence.

However, it’s very slow and rather tonally hysterical in places (in that the acting is overwrought and much too melodramatic).  Worth a look for Whovians though.

Rating: ODD, 5/10
Suitable for all ages

 

TV Review: Doctor Who Regeneration 1 Series 002 – The Daleks 7.5/10

Doctor Who Regeneration 1 Series 2: The Daleks (aka The Mutants aka The Dead Planet)

This seven-episode run was the introduction of the Doctor’s longest-standing and greatest enemies, the Daleks. Whilst it’s stagey and slow compared with modern drama, it still holds up.  Some bits are a little ridiculous (the pretty Thal race talking like blueblood luvvies, for example), but overall it’s easy to see why the Daleks had such an impact.  I think it’s a reasonably supposition that some of the longevity of Dr Who is down to the clear iconography and character of the Daleks.  Even small children can impersonate them, and they are clearly and purely evil and self-serving – about as villanous as it gets.

In addition, this story was remade into a motion picture in 1965 with Peter Cushing playing the Doctor (in this, billed as ‘Doctor Who’)

Recommended to anyone with any interest in TV history or sci-fi.

Rating: GOOD, 7.5/10
Suitable for all ages

Book Review: The Dark Tower (the series) by Stephen King 8/10

The Dark Tower (the series) by Stephen King 

This sprawling epic of 4,000 pages, written by Stephen King, consists of 7 main books, and tells the story of Roland The Gunslinger and his friends as they quest to reach The Dark Tower, possibly to save creation.

This is most certainly a recommended read for King fans.  For others, there is certainly entertainment to be had, but you’ll need a lot of time on your hands.  The books aren’t all necessarily self-contained either.  The first book does stand alone as a series of short stories linked by a greater arc, and is a fairly short book.  It doesn’t quite serve as a taster, as it doesn’t have the richness of characterisation that comes in book 2 and onwards, but it’s still nonetheless the perfect place to dip your toes in this particular pond.

Book 2 – The Drawing of the Three – is the book where Roland draws together his quest-friends, helping them in their former lives and bringing them into his world. Book 3 charts their progress as a group (and ends with a cliff-hanger), and Book 4 details part of Roland’s past, and his first love affair.  That makes it sounds bland and wishy-washy, but I believe it’s by far the strongest book in the series, with excellent characterisation, and antagonists that aren’t supernatural and offstage (which is much the case in the other books).

Book 5 details how Roland’s ‘ka-tet’ defend a town against raider-robots after the town-children, and is also quite a good, standalone tale. 

Book 6 is rather weak, and really doesn’t stand alone as a read – it’s really the lead-in to the final book; and you’d only read it if you were invested in the series at this point.  Book 7 is the resolution of the whole saga, and probably the second-best book in the series.

I’ll try not to give spoilers, but here’s the good and the bad of it.

Good things: Major sections of this work were almost wholly unpredictable, both in terms of story and in terms of characters and incidents.  It’s hard to imagine a writer of exciting tales about a travelling quest deciding one of his major protagonists should have no legs, for example. Another good thing is that the ending is about perfect, in my opinion (though there’s by no means universal agreement on this) – I’m a long-time King reader, and he really struggles with endings for his longer stories.  This one was fine, however.

Bad Things: He introduces things from other stories (such as references to Harry Potter, and weapons called ‘sneetches’) or things that take you out of this story, somewhat fracturing the internal narrative (Stephen King is a significant character in the later books!).  These take you out of this story quite a bit when you first get to them. There’s also a little too much ‘deus ex machina’ going on, in that things get resolved by some convenient magic or gobledegook a little too often.  I can’t say more without spoiling the end of book 7, but the death of the final villain is probably the worst instance of this.  And finally, some ofthe major villains in these books – who are built up as near-mythically-powered – are way too easy for Roland to tackle.

Overall, I would recommend this series, but I think you need to decide for yourself at the end of book 2 – that’s the point you’ll know well enough if you want to stay with Roland on his quest.
Rating: ODD 8/10

TV Review: Doctor Who Regeneration 1 Series 001 – An Unearthly Child 6/10

Doctor Who Regeneration 01 Series 001: The Unearthly Child (aka 10,000BC aka The Tribe of Gum)

This is the very first episodes of Dr Who, broadcast in November 1963. It consists of 4 episodes of about 23 minutes each. 

The first episode is distinct in that it introduces us to Susan Foreman, a mid-teenager who is judged a little odd by two of her teachers.  She seems to know an awful lot about some things, things she really shouldn’t know, but then seems very ignorant of some everyday things any normal teenager would be well aware of.

The teachers go to her home, and find an old man who turns out to be her Grandfather, and they then stumble into the famous Tardis.  The first episode ends with the Tardis taking flight and them ending up in a barren rocky plain, with an ominous man’s shadow in shot.

The remaining 3 episodes concern a tribe of cavemen, with a struggle for power over who can make fire.  One caveman sees the Doctor light a match, and thinks he can make fire from his hands, and various to-ing and fro-ing ensues.

Like many episodes of the Hartnell era, it’s quite stagey, but it does move at a reasonable pace, and sets up the tension reasonably well.  There’s lots here that will jar a little with anyone who knows their Who, such as the way the Doctor talks about the Tardis, the things the doctor does when they land (soil tests) which he never does thereafter, and so on.  This is perfectly understandable and legitimate, of course, this being the pilot, and their just trying out different concepts/backstory for fit.  Some things they get spot on, like the Tardis’s ‘disguise circuit’ failing.  Overall, a recommend to watch, if nothing else as a curio.

Rating: ODD, 6/10
Suitable for all ages

Videogame: Dantes Inferno (XBox 360) – Excellent gameplay, visuals, artwork, a little repetitive 8/10

Dante’s Inferno (X Box 360 version)

This game involves a crusader cast into Hell to try and rescue his true love, whilst fighting Satan’s minions and descending through all the Circles of Hell.

So much for the story, let’s talk about what was good and bad.  Good, or rather excellent, was both the gameplay and graphics.  This looked absolutely fantastic (though hellishly disturbing at the same time – this really is a game suitably rated at 18), and was rendered smoothly and richly.  The movement and action was excellent, smooth and going exactly where you intended it (with some minor issues aside, when the hero was climbing) and matched the controller precisely – no lag, no ‘I didn’t mean him to do that!’, no significant issues at all. 

In terms of gameplay, if you’ve played God of War, or the recent Castlevania game (or even Arkham Asylum), you’ll have a good idea what to expect.  It was a linear narrative, with some very nice tapestry-style artwork used when giving the detailed backstory of Dante and his activities, and very little exploration outside the linear (but you need to explore, to get various bonuses).  There’s also some problem-solving, which was nicely balanced – it was tricky in places, but usually not so difficult you had to keep revisiting youtube to see how to do it.

The monsters were interesting, but after about halfway through the game, you tend to encounter variants of the same thing.  This leads to the weakness of the game – it is quite a button-masher.  You’re pretty much powerful enough to just go head-to-head with Satan’s hordes in 95% of situations.  Most of the time, that’s fine, that’s part of the fun, but there were times it got a bit too much. The penultimate-to-final level was particularly bad for example, where you have to face 10 very similar challenges, one straight after the other, and after about 6 or 7 it’s old and boring. Having said that, these are relatively minor quibbles, and becuase of the great visuals and fluid gameplay, I’d recommend this game heartily

Rating: 8/10

Movie Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still – classic 50s scifi 8/10

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Made in the 50s and remade recently starring Keanu Reeves (and everything I’ve heard about it makes is sound like a worthless remake), this is a solid, if a little plodding, scifi story.  An alien comes to earth to warn humans against their violent ways, warning them they face destruction if they can’t change.

There’s been a lot made of this being a Jesus allegory (the alien, Klaatu, calls himself ‘Mr Carpenter’ – get it?) which is somewhat true, but honestly, it is just as entertaining if viewed more superficially as a simple adventure story. Also, if you want a wackier version of the same basic premise, you’ll find it in Plan 9 from Outer Space. And of course Jesus didn’t fly off in a spaceship after the Resurrection (as far as we know).

The most fun in this movie apart from looking for Jesus motifs, is the robot Gort, an intergalactic policeman who can reduce planets to a cinder (and does some fun things against the US military).  He’s quite a presence.

The actual photography, camerawork and editing are quite effective.  The individual scenes are reasonably sophisticated (a lot more sophisticated than, say, Invaders from Mars, or War of the Worlds from the same period), and the black and white imagery is quite striking.

Overall, thoroughly recommended, suitable for all ages.

8/10

Doctor Who Dalek Episode Commentary Episode 009

In this episode, Sam and Mark and Max give a commentary on the classic Doctor Who Episode called Dalek with the ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston. This marked the first time Daleks appear in the modern versions of Doctor Who.