Umberto Lenzi's very fun giallo was graced with many alternate titles but it will always be EYEBALL to me.
Saturday, March 08, 2014
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Through nefarious methods (thank you faraway friends) I was able to see the ROBOCOP remake and I have to say that it was not bad at all. It is not in the same league as the original and the satire has been mostly excised (along with the harsh humor) but its an effective action film that held my attention. The movie even offered up a few surprises that made it clear that the filmmakers had thought through a number of elements of the story in ways that are actually fresh. The cast is very good with Gary Oldman as the scientist in charge of building a better police officer really giving the film a performance above the norm for this kind of material. The movie is also well directed with an organic feel as it moves efficiently from place to place in a way that is smooth enough to paper over some logical questions the script skips past. The biggest problem is that it feels a bit neutered in its aim to stay bloodless for a PG-13 rating so the story has very little punch. Its a well done movie but, unlike the 1987 film, it is easily forgotten and might only become something memorable with a sequel that goes for more visceral thrills and sharper wit.
I had hopes that JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT might be a smart thriller but it didn't measure up. I was excited to see what director Kenneth Branagh could bring to an espionage tale although the idea of rebooting the Jack Ryan character again was less than appealing. The cast of the film is pretty darned good with Branagh himself as the main Russian nemesis, Kevin Costner as the older mentor and Chris Pine as the big screen's fourth (or fifth - I don't care) Jack Ryan. The surprise was Keira Knightley as Ryan's finance. This is the first time I've seen her try on an American accent and its a reasonably good fit. In fact, all concerned do fine jobs onscreen with what they are given but the problem here is that the story is nothing you haven't seen before. There is nothing surprising or even particularly interesting going on in this film. The plot is straightforward and it unfolds in a standard, predictable manner. Some of the spy sequences have visual snap but the style and talented cast can't conceal a mediocre film that should have been much more entertaining. Its not a terrible movie but it is nothing thrilling or memorable.
THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975)- 7 (rewatch)
THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (2012)- 4 (not very compelling love letter to Kung-Fu action films)
THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977)- 6 (rewatch)
SEX KITTENS GO TO COLLEGE (1960)- 3 (terrible comedy but it has some interest)
THE LOST WORLD (1960)- 6 (fun version of the Doyle tale - not as good as the 1925 film)
COME OUT AND PLAY (2012)- 4 (flat, dull remake of WHO COULD KILL A CHILD?)
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (2014)- 5
THINNER (1996)- 5 (mediocre Stephen King horror tale)
NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST (1975)- 8 (rewatch)
SHE (1935)- 8 (rewatch)
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE MASK OF DEATH (1984)- 7 (Peter Cushing's last run at the role is a Hammer reunion)
ROBOCOP (2014)- 7 (solid but neutered and forgettable remake)
MONSTERS (2010) - 8
DEVIL DOLL (1964) - 4 (rewatch)
THE FORMULA (1980)- 5 (slight thriller with an interesting cast)
SANGRAAL, THE SWORD OF FIRE (1982)- 3 (terrible but entertaining Italian barbarian film)
JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX (2013)- 8
BURIAL GROUND (1981)- 3 (rewatch) (I love this terrible film!)
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: PARTS 1 & 2 (2013)- 9 (near perfect animated adaptation of the comic books)
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Monday, March 03, 2014
I finally caught up with HIT MAN (1972) last night (thank you TCM) and enjoyed it very much. I can't say its one of the best of the Blaxploitation sub-genre as it has a real lack of forward momentum and feels a little slow at at times. If there had just been a but more urgency in Bernie Casey's character's search for answers about his brother's death it would have been a better film, I think. This is a good one, though, and I'm glad to check off another box on Pam Grier's resume. She is always fun to watch!
Saturday, March 01, 2014
James Coburn has to pretty much carry this entire film on his bony back. This is not what I expected when I learned of the strong cast of SKY RIDERS (1976) but sadly that is what the rather limp script gives us. Much more light in tone than I expected the film shows us the kidnapping of Ellen Bracken (Susannah York) and her two children by Greek terrorists bent on forcing her rich tycoon husband Jonas (Robert Culp) to finance their organization's goals. Coburn plays Jim McCabe who is Ellen's ex-husband and the father of one of the two children. He involves himself in the negotiations and quickly realizes that the Greek police are at best ineffectual and at worst incompetent. He decides that the only chance the family has is to for him take direct action to save them and after secretly tracking the terrorists to their hideout he formulates a plan.
The movie is essentially a rescue film as McCabe uses his underworld connections to find a way to assault the nearly impenetrable bad guy lair proving himself a hero and making fools of the Greek authorities in the process. The method he uses is to cleverly talk an American hang gliding team into joining him in a violent attack on the terrorists stronghold for..... actually its never clear why these strangers were willing to grab guns and risk their lives on this cracked plan. None of them had any military training, weapons training or even any compelling reason to risk life and limb on this insane idea. And by the time the team is in a pitched machine gun battle with a mob of villains as the Greek police bomb the entire area I'm sure everyone watching is wondering just how stupid they all were.
But the real reason to watch SKY RIDERS is to see Coburn as the cool, calculating guy taking on long odds and succeeding. On that front the film provides some pleasures but I was heartbroken to see the great Robert Culp turning in a performance that was flat most of the time. I'll admit the script gives him little to work with but he just doesn't seem to be bringing his talent to bear. Miss York is better in her underwritten role but is given only a few moments to do more than act brave and comfort her kids. The look on her face when Coburn bursts into her jail cell is great though as is the dialog between them in this scene. This isn't a bad movie but it isn't as good as I had hoped for either. With a cast this good and beautiful location shooting like this production has I expected a much better film.