Moonraker (1979 United Artists)

For children in the late 70s Roger Moore was The Man. Suave, sophisticated and debonair. We didn’t care that he was as old as the hills. If you could fashion a man out of a bottle of Old Spice–Rog would be that man. You could smell his classiness from your cinema seat. I don’t think anybody walked out of a Timothy Dalton Bond feeling like they could conquer the world, but with Roger we did. No matter how many actors play the role, he’s the one I remember with most affection. This was 007’s eleventh adventure on the big screen. This was big. Huge! Biggest budget yet. Biggest box office profit. But Moonraker is strangely unloved. “Too unlike the novels, too much like Star Wars, too silly…” say the naysayers. I disagree. [Read more…]

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Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

George Lucas remade one of the finest works of film master Akira Kurosawa, the Western-themed “Hidden Fortress,” with one scene (the fight in the bar) stolen from Yojimbo. Therefore, Star Wars  has a bit of the jittery discomfort of characters trying to fit into a story that wasn’t quite made for them, like people with past life experiences that intrude into the present. Kurosawa’s hero is split not into two but three heroes in Star Wars (four if you include the princess, who has a more prominent role in Star Wars. It is frankly too bad that Star Wars later fell into the hands of Disney and JJ Abrams, becoming a tool solely for cashing in, and a line item on someone’s accounting ledger, but I guess that is probably the way the wafer crumbles in Hollywood. I simply choose to ignore the boring new films… [Read more…]

The River Wild (1994 USA)

A family-friendly feminist reboot of Deliverance. Without the sodomy. Damn…I knew something was missing. Maybe director Curtis Hanson suggested that Meryl Streep give up her booty, Ned Beatty–style. Was she willing to take one for the team? Obviously not. Anyway, from the viewpoint of 2017 The River Wild screams 1994. Here’s an action film with no CGI, with the obligatory Spielbergian “marital problems”, the typical “90s son”, typical “architect father” and yet another “Jerry Goldsmith score.” The River Wild proudly rode a then-new trend: the extreme sports/wilderness action film (Cliffhanger and The Edge). [Read more…]

The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2 (1997)

With Jurassic Park being such a huge success, how can you make a sequel? This film was actually based loosely on a sequel novel, The Lost World, that Michael Crichton wrote. This one was really over- hyped, and unfortunately, it succeeded in recruiting an army of haters that trash it with their reviews. But haters are always going to hate, as youngsters like to say on the internet. However, I’d rate this movie as being even more entertaining and satisfying than the original. I’ll tell you why I think that (mainly because there is only one child this time around & we get more moody night time photography) but I’ll give a plot summary first. [Read more…]

Treasure Planet (2002 USA)

Disney’s attempt at “action/adventure”, and Treasure Planet was another of these more adult films for the impatient. So far Disney hasn’t done too bad in this genre, since we are now free of sitting through annoying songs and have more time to see the actual film. Treasure Planet was loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. However, this one takes place in a futuristic setting; the robots are replaced with small hover-craft, the large clippers and ships with unusual opened spaceships (which makes one wonder how the characters breathe in space), parrots with morphing creatures, and one-legged pirates with cyborgs. [Read more…]

The Amulet Of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1) (Jonathan Stroud)

This novel is set in a modern-day London that is ruled by Magicians. It is written from the perspective of a djinni (demon) and an undervalued magician’s apprentice. It’s tempting to compare the book to the Harry Potter series. Young boy. Magic. Sneaking around. Breaking the rules. Stern teachers. But the similarities really end there. What’s obvious is that Stroud can write about a complex world (and one I want to know more about) and making it interesting and funny. I’m used to slow beginnings in fantasy but this one started with a bang.
[Read more…]

You Only Live Twice (1967 US/UK)

As I watched “You Only Live Twice,” I developed a nostalgia for many scenes that made the older Bond films work so well. One of the great things about “You Only Live Twice” is that it has the confidence to be quiet. Take Bond’s conversation with Henderson (Charles Gray). Bond walks into Henderson’s home, he asks his contact a few questions, an interesting conversation between the men ensues and then Henderson freezes. Someone threw a knife into his back. “North by Northwest,” also has a man unable to reveal a crucial piece of info because he is suddenly killed. And you know what? Between you, me and the gate post, these scenes never get tired/worn. They are what separates the old world of film from the new. [Read more…]

Thunderball (Ian Fleming)

The Bond originally conceived by the cinema was very much a creature of the 1960s. Yet the Bond of the books is a man of the 1950s. And like many men in the 1950s, eating an English breakfast 3 times daily and not only being unfit, but unable to even spell the word, seemed to be de rigueur: James is in poor shape it seems, 60 cigarettes a day (think of that in 2017….where would he even find a place to smoke that often!?) do not keep the doctor away. And he drinks like a fish. So M sends him away on a little vacation to recuperate…again. And, of course, each time James goes away to rest, someone tries to take him out. What a life huh? [Read more…]

Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea (1961 USA)

To those who were reared on pre Star Wars sci-fi, it’s hard to grasp the complaints of the modern audience about old time genre flicks and the effects that reside within. Before George Lucas took sci-fi/cinema watching to a different level, involving pacey violence every other frame, mucho explosions and bloated CGI effects: audiences were happily catered for by solid stories, character development and some inspired special effects (for their time). Enter Irwin Allen’s Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, which boasts all these points mentioned.
[Read more…]

The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad (Britain 1974)

golden-voyage-of-sinbadIf you are looking for an enjoyable adventure, full of swashbuckling heroics, colourful characters, and of course the battle of good versus evil, then you’ve found it. All aspects of the production contribute to a fantastic tale of conflict, destiny and glory. This is one of a series of Ray Harryhausen (animator/story) movies about Sinbad, the legendary sailor. In the first ten minutes this film shows its true colours as a fantasy. It will pull you in and keep you musing, wondering, and entertained mostly all the way through. [Read more…]

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