Tag Archives: T

Tarzan The Ape Man 3.5/5

Tarzan The Ape Man

This is a pretty action packed movie once we get to the half hour mark. That’s when we first encounter Tarzan. We see Tarzan swim faster than crocodiles, outrun hungry lions, fight leopards, gorillas and tribesmen, and he sure is an action man – he throws himself into fights and rescues with relish.

It’s also a story about Jane looking for a lover who isn’t so stuffy and inhibited as the men she’s used to…and she sure gets what she wants from Tarzan. This is surely some primal fantasy?

Wiessmuller has great presence despite only saying about 20 words (Schwartzenegger would pull the same trick many years later – charisma can take you far), and Maureen O’Sullivan is a sexy, girlish Jane.

There’s some dodgy racial angles to this – a tribe of pymies being blacked up dwarves…some with afro wigs with bones weaved in, anyone?

It’s also pre-Hays code, so we do get a stampede of elephants through the ‘pygmy’ village, which includes elephants throwing the dwarves around and stomping on them.

A great family movie, all round.

The Tingler 3.5/5

The Tingler

A very fun horror movie, and I think in some shots, The Tingler looks pretty good (okay, in others, it looks terrible). I always liked the bath full of bright red blood right in the middle of a black and white movie, and laughed a little about the lengths someone went to within the movie to do that (I have the same problem with Les Diaboliques). Also, Vincent Price drops acid.

A fun, trippy movie.

Treasure Planet 2.5/5

Treasure Planet

A middling Disney effort, with some effective, if maybe a little jarring, mixing of traditional animation and CGI. It’s too long (15 less would have been better), but the main characters are well developed and charming, there’s some fun stuff for smaller kids, and the character development and story development build nicely.

Definitely not top tier Disney, but solid middle tier.

Thor The Dark World 3/5

Thor The Dark World

A decent sequel to the impressive first one…and I say impressive, because it really shouldn’t have worked, Thor as a comic book character works, but I just couldn’t see how it could possibly work at a serious level when put to film…and Branagh achieved it, much helped by the acting chops of Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddleston.

Given the fine groundwork laid in the first one, this stays on that steady bedrock, and has a seriously intense (non-camp) villain, and brings back both Hopkins and Hiddlestone for a reasonably satisfying story. The ending got a little Man Of Steel, but overall, it was a well-put together, darker sequel that delivered.

Transylvania 6-5000 1/5

Transylvania 6-5000

Pretty bad comedy that has the writing to blame. The talent is here: Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley Jr, Carol Kane, John Byner, that guy from Seinfeld, but the actual jokes fall flat. As the film proceeds, you get a whiff of desperation as they start cranking up the ‘whacky’ and ‘energetic’, but unfortunately this leads to no funny jokes.

The only really funny parts to me are the husband/wife pair played by Carol Kane and John Byner. Kane in particular has that manic glee that transcends this terrible mess, and she’s funny as hell (it reminded me of her psychotic fairy from Scrooged).

Give it a miss.

Trekkies 3.5/5

Trekkies

Documentary about Star Trek fans which contains some great parts (the stars of Star Trek telling their stories about the fans…highpoints being Nichelle Nichols and Jimmy Doohan; the trekkies telling how Star Trek inspired them to go into various careers), and some rather sour parts – showing the extremes of the fanbase. I used to be amused by this kind of freakshow, but freakshow aspects of modern reality TV just feels vulgar these days, so that part felt tiresome.

So, definitely a documentary of polar parts – some really great, some really bad, and some that mixed it up so you had to pick what you got out of it.

Overall, definitely worth seeing.

Movie Review: 25th Hour – excellently made drama about a failed life 8/10

25th Hour

25th Hour examines the last day of freedom of a man before being sent to jail for 7 years. The main character is Monty Brogan, a drug dealer in New York City. He is played by Ed Norton in a really powerful and moving lead performance. The film is directed by Spike Lee, a director I’ve admired and liked for some time, and who I felt had peaked with the wonderful ‘Malcolm X’ – until I saw this.

This movie is essentially a long goodbye, where Monty plays out all the issues he has with his real friends, his business associates, his city and its citizens, and his girl. This is a beatifully-played film, filled with such issues as longing, regret, and ‘what if’, and friendships/love that may or may not be over. It’s a film about goodbyes in that sense, but there’s much more here than meets the eye.

Each of his friends are an important element in showing us the real Monty, and not only him, but how he has reflected on them (in no small way). They feel guilt and remorse in not having stopped him becoming a dealer, for example. There’s no plot other than him saying his goodbyes, but that’s more than enough. The support actors are excellent, and more than match Norton’s intense and realistic performance. The support includes Rosario Dawson as his girlfriend Naturelle, Philip Seymour Hoffman as his thoughtful and reticent friend who is a teacher with the hots for one of his students (Anna Paquin), and Barry Pepper as a pushy stock-market guy who is deeply struck by how he’s let his friend Monty down. These people give brilliantly-acted, blistering scenes that elegantly and dramatically fill in their backstory, and tell you how they got to the here and now.

Also wonderful is the moving interplay of father and son, with Brian Cox playing Monty’s father. How he comes to terms with his son’s prison sentence, and how he tries to lead his son to not go to prison and run, is powerful and striking. It illustrates the nature of fatherhood perfectly (to me at least), of how you care for your child, but can’t engage him as fully and as emotionally as a mother can. But still, you do your best.

There have been assorted criticisms ranged at this movie, particularly suggestion how the 9-11 motif is jammed in, and how this creates jarring scenes and moods that spoil the flow of this movie, but I find it appropriate and fitting. This is a film about New York and New Yorkers too, so to ignore this aspect of New York and American life would be trite, and seem to me a little petty.

The fact that this is a film about a low-life drug dealer that engages your sympathy and makes you think and feel pretty deeply towards this guy, and think on it long after the movie has finished, confirm the quality of film-making here. It’s a film that will have you thinking, and talking about it afterwards, and wanting to get people who haven’t seen it to give it a go.

Also, be aware, it’s a love/hate letter about New York. Norton does a rant about what he hates about NY early on that will strike a chord with the ‘angry man’ inside us all.

I can’t think of any films even close to this in most ways – it is a one-off, done by Spike Lee. Nice work, Spike!

Rating: GOOD 8/10, suitable for older teens upwards.

They Live and top 5 Coolest Movie Characters Episode 016

In this episode, the guys discuss John Carpenter’s They Live, the coolest characters in the movies, the videogame Assassin’s Creed, and various movies including Attack The Block, The Magnificent Seven, and Crimson Tide.

Movie: 28 Days Later – Fast zombies, excellent first half, not great second half 6.5/10

28 Days Later

The whole premise of this film can be summed up in two words: Running Zombies. That’s not to denigrate this cool B-movie with A-movie ambitions, but that’s what it is. And it’s a great premise, even if similar films like the remade Dawn of the Dead have watered it down some by repetition.

This movie is set in England, where a group of animal rights’ activists unwittingly unleash a ‘Rage’ virus that decimates the whole country, leaving anyone who gets it as ‘The Infected’. The Infected are very angry, bloodthirsty ‘zombies’, by any other name.

The hero of this movie, played nicely by Cillian Murphy, has been in an accident, and wakes up 28 days later, finding the place deserted. And when I say place, I don’t mean some little-out-of-the-way hospital, I mean London. He wanders empty London streets in daylight, passing overturned buses, trying to make sense of it.

Finally he encounters other people and these running, raging zombies, and starts to understand what has happened. The survivors show him – graphically – how you have to be ruthless against anyone who might be infected without mercy if you yourself are to survive. More survivors are encountered, and finally they find themselves going northwards, following a faint radio broadcast.

They encounter, after losses, an army unit holed up against the Infected. But things aren’t quite as you’d expect…

I won’t say any more, but this is a film of two halves. The first half is absolutely terrific, and if you’d only seen that, you’d be not far wrong thinking it was one of the best horror movies ever. First, you get our hero wandering an empty London. This is completely startling (especially to someone like me, from London), as is the first contact with the ‘Infected’. These are scary monsters. The old-school shambling zombies are creepy and tend to build tension (you only die if you get complacent or careless with those guys), but these running zombies are terrifying, with no easy way to stop them, knowing one bit of contact with them might turn you the same…

Finally, the survivors decide to move on, following a broadcast radio message, and travel through London to get to the northbound motorway, and hit the quiet country and roads, and there’s a sense of both peace and dread. Finally they hit a roadblock, and meet an army troupe.

This marks the end of the first, great half of the movie. There are lots of distinct and clear homages/echoes of other apocalyptic and zombie movies. Day of the Triffids, The original Romero Zombie films (especially Dawn of the Dead in the first half), The Omega Man, The Last Warrior, The Quiet Earth, as well as the Richard Matheson’s book ‘I am Legend’. It’s startling, scary and engrossing, and shows some of the pain and fear, as well of the humanity and sacrifice of humanity, of the survivors in a satisfying and engrossing way.

In the second half, when the soldiers are encountered, the film, which to me had tremendous potential to go anyway it chose at this point, seemed to close itself down. The soldiers were mostly stupid and unsympathetic (though the only good new thing about the second half is the watchable Chrisopher Eccleston as the commanding officer), and the whole plot was similar, but significantly inferior to, Romero’s ‘Day of the Dead’; bickering soldiers and civilians trying to understand what to do, and not knowing what’s left of the world and whether they will be rescued.

While it continues at a steady pace, and resolves reasonably well, the film is unsatisfying for the disparity between the fantastic first half and the formulaic second half. Overall though, it’s a solid horror movie that’ll scare and entertain. And really deserves to be seen because of the brilliant and near-hypnotic-in-places first half.

And great music!

This movie is not for the faint-hearted though.

OVERALL: 6.5
REWATCHABILITY: Once or twice a year. Suitable for older teens up.

Movie: This Gun for Hire: Tight film noir that is the prototype for all solitary movie assassins 7/10

This Gun for Hire (1942)

Containing Alan Ladd’s first starring role as a stone-cold killer, this is an excellent, though twisty (and rather contrived) plotted piece apparently based on a story by Graham Greene. Ladd is magnificent here as Raven, and I think the first instance of the solitary assassin movie archetype that we see in assorted movies, such as Le Samourai (whose main character Jeff probably saw this movie way too many times), through to Jean Reno’s Leon in The Professional.

Veronica Lake also stars and is rather fine in this movie as a singing magician (yep, that’s right) wo gets involved in this plot about revenge, stolen formulas, traitors and trains.
A classic noir in all senses – the brooding characters, the beautiful women, and the tough dialogue all add up to make this an excellent way to pass 80 minutes.

Overall: 7/10
Rewatchability: Yearly
Age suitability: Early teens or even mature 10 year olds + upwards.

The Thing and Favourite Stop-Motion Animation Movies Episode 014

In this one, Sam and Mark discuss John Carpenter’s The Thing and their favourite movies containing stop-motion animation, as well as a few other movies such as 13 Assassins and The Perfect Host

Movie Review: 13 Assassins – exciting modern Samurai actioner 8.5/10

13 Assassins

A quite enthralling hark back to 60s Samurai movies with a modern twist, solid all the way through. The bad guy is completely bad, and the good guys are tough, powerful fighters that need to take down 200 men in an epic battle to finish their quest – kill the bad guy. It’s well directed by Beat Takeshi, and is somewhat reminiscent of some the the 70s Kurosawa movies in both mood and colour palette – reminded me of Kagemusha, for example.

There are some quite dark scenes in this though, and it’s thoroughly adult, so be warned.

8.5/10

Episode 001 Tron – Legacy, Top 5 Memorable Movie Deaths

In this show, Mark and Sam review the movie Tron – Legacy, pick out their top 5 memorable movie deaths, and discuss such diverse entertainment as Star Trek and alternate universes, Nightmare Revisited (the soundtrack of The Nightmare Before Christmas redone by bands), and Battle Royale.