31 December 2007

OLR: Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982)

The 21st century additions were done with care and subtlety, improving an already excellent film. (9/10)

d. Ridley Scott

23 December 2007

OLR: Trancers (1985)

Only tough-talkin' Tim Thomerson can possibly save us from that trancer Santa Claus. (7/10)

d. Charles Band

22 December 2007

OLR: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

I wish it were a wee funnier, but it was an entertaining enough Christmas fantasy (Kara's very first movie, though she ate and slept through it and can't focus far enough away to see the screen anyway). (6/10)

d. Michael Lembeck

21 December 2007

Guest: Bond, James Bond (1987-1989)

1987 - The Living Daylights - Rather than crack wise about 007’s inability to fit into modern times with his obsolete sophistication, Eon Productions finally decides to force that mother into modern times, updating him with new execution styles, new technology, and a new cynical attitude. Even new Moneypenny. They even go as far as kinda-sorta-not-really creating an origins story, showing off Bond’s skill during a training exercise gone wrong, which ends up being… pretty damn cool.

Timothy Dalton injects much needed youth into the role and as such, the movie feels dangerous. Or maybe it’s the change in cameraman, whatever gets John Glen’s heart back into things. I was struck by how dark everything looked, especially coming from the guy who compromised his style and directed Octopussy. Things behind the iron curtain haven’t looked this bleak since From Russia With Love.

Smacking of a more epic For Your Eyes Only, the relationship with the female lead plays a large role in the decisions 007 makes. There’s a tremendous amount of suspense because of their chemistry, and since the series is once again taking a step back and reexamining its formula, it feels like anything can happen to her.

There still exists the series’ “patented” brand of humor, but this is the first time a Bond film has felt like a spy film in at least a decade. I ask once more: why aren’t more of them like this?

“Eh, you’ve had your eight. Now I’ll have my eighty!” (7.0/10)
d. John Glen

1989 - Licence to Kill - Ever wondered what Bond would look like in an 80’s action film again? WHY?!

Wins the award for most depressing decline for any given actor’s series of Bond films. Forgetting that they already brought Bond up to speed to reflect the audience’s taste, the filmmakers go even further by reflecting the action films of the decade, possibly the biggest mistake they could make. An hour passes before the movie finally feels like a Bond adventure; it takes showing Dalton betting at a casino in a tux, and it’s so brief that I can almost feel the movie climbing off of me and saying ‘Was it good for you?’

Licence to Kill is about ¼ of a Bond film and ¾ of three other films, meshed awkwardly together. Why not get the motivation for the mission out of the way in the escape sequence, instead of introducing the characters, the villains, the methods, and taking forever to do all of it? Got me. Yes, Nassau is very beautiful, but does that have to be the setting every fucking time scuba diving is involved? DOES IT REALLY?

Felix Leiter, his new wife, and Bond’s useless first-act sidekick Sharky (guess what he knows a lot about) share loads of scenes with the star, but in this decade, that’s a mark of impending death. At least my question is finally answered: there’s dark (GOOD) and there’s sadistic (BAD) and here, they clearly tipped it too far towards the latter. Dismemberment-by-shark, implosion-by-decompression, and killed-by-rock-crusher are cool, but they all belong in a film with better characterization.

It’s in the final half hour where the love of making this film shows, and elevates the movie back into average territory. 007 nearly jackknifes himself to get his vengeance, going head-to-knife with scene-saving Benicio del Toro, who isn’t the main villain but hell he should have been. Trucks, explosions, Wayne Newton, closing credits soon follow.

Farewell, Timothy Dalton. The next role I see of yours will be the one where you take a steeple to the chin.

You may proceed to wow me, Pierce Brosnan.

“Launder it.” (5.0/10)
d. John Glen

06 December 2007

Guest: Bond, James Bond (1983-1985)

1983 - Octopussy - Let’s go back to bein all wacky! Why the hell not?

The series has basically earned the right to be anything it wants, no longer reinventing the wheel but cycling through the methods it has pioneered, alternating to keep up with the mood of the audience, what they think those anonymous bastards want to see, which apparently is bland India espionage. Jewel smuggling: still not interesting.

Here goes my vote for most one-dimensional Bond girl, so bland that the same attributes go to two different characters. “I collect memories.” Uh… okay, significance? Somebody? Anybody?

If you want to see what is basically a bunch of other Bond films jammed into one, this would be it. Most of the ideas appear to come from Goldfinger (an acrobatic army consisting entirely of women, plot to blow something up, intimidating henchman crushing objects with their bare hands, Bond spending much of the late second act at the villain’s villa, learning the plot via surveillance, spotting danger in a reflective surface, climax on a plane).

Probably the most forgettable Bond of the entire series. Nothing new here except for the occasional well-filmed action sequence and totally neato gadget. Buzz-saw yo-yo?! I want seven.

“And this… for my brother.” (5.0/10)
d. John Glen

1983 - Never Say Never Again - Ever wondered what Bond would look like in an 80’s action movie? … Why? Well, here you go anyway, a crazy alternate universe where jokes about Connery Bond’s total lack of being able to fit into modern times bombard him constantly from all angles while he looks too old for this shit. The film is actually a welcome change of pace. Moore has done a bang-up job so far, but I am a bit tired of him, and the official films are in their typical state of decline. And it's Thunderball. Thunderball! Mostly.

It’s ten years later and Connery looks better here than he did in Diamonds Are Forever, even with all of the makeup. That’s fine, though, because this makes up for the mistake that was returning to the role last time. It looks like he's actually fighting people!

Bad casting for Blofeld. Sorry, I can only see Max von Sydow as a seasoned priest or the creator of Precrime. Maybe a chess-playing knight. His role amounts to nothing, as the real villain of the story is Largo, played excellently by Klaus Maria Brandauer.

Good special effects, save for a shitty looking dive off of a castle via horse. Eon Productions should get up on this. The only formula the movie doesn’t get right is the gadgets. Whenever a hairy situation arises, it is quite obvious as to how Bond will escape.

This had great potential to be awful, as the 80’s is basically a holocaust for action films. This turned out to be quite good, and would have made a fine addition to the official series.

Later, Connery. I’d say goodbye, but who knows, you might return once more. We all know you love acting almost as much as you love smacking women around, admit it.

“Heavy, Mr. Bond?” (6.5/10)
d. Irvine Kershner
[will Rowan Atkinson ever look different?]

1985 - A View to a Kill - Always with the skiing. Why with the skiing?

Like You Only Live Twice, it’s a slow build to realization that this is going to suck, and suck it hard. The screenwriters must have thought that an illegal horse drugs ring would provide for many double entendres about sex. Kudos to them. Too bad roiding equines is about as interesting as smuggling jewels, and a bigger scheme which is basically plot-stolen from the first Superman film.

Christopher Walken can be menacing in anything. His back story: what the hell? If you’re going to bring up a KGB past with slight implications of genetic manipulation, you damn well follow through with it.

Within the context of the series, ie being in the mood for it and/or knowing that there are lower points than this, the film isn’t so terrible. It lacks love, passion, and a good script is all.

You’d think that British Secret Service would know by now not to look for Bond after a successful mission, as he is likely banging the hell out of the female costar, but no, they keep patching his image in to all government higher ups. What the hell is the matter with them?

Every aspect of the “winning” Bond formula loses here. Not only is it blithely executed, it is simply lazy, with the worst titular line ever. “Wow, what a view… to a kill!” DUN DUN DUNNNNN. Well I’m pumped, I wonder if that’s where the climax is going to be!

Both Moore and Connery’s worst outing as 007 have the same line, “But of course you are,” delivered under the same circumstances. COINCIDENCE?!!! Uh... probably.

Filmmakers at this point have confused ‘tongue-in-cheek’ with ‘cartoony bullshit.’ A somewhat triumphant rescue from a burning building is marred by reaction shot after reaction shot and an immediate clash with local law enforcement, again. More comic-relief ruining what could have been a kickass chase involving a fire engine with an unlocked ladder.

Sadly, this is the exit. Farewell, Roger Moore, you were a good Bond. Can’t say I’m going to miss your commentary, though.

Bring on Tim Dalty.

“This will hurt him more than me. Hahaha.” (4.5/10)
d. John Glen

05 December 2007

OLR: Supergirl (1984)

Supergirl herself and the SFX are great, but they're trapped in a movie not quite goofy enough to be a camp classic and not plotted well enough to be taken seriously. (5/10)

d. Jeannot Szwarc

04 December 2007

OLR: Superman III (1983)

This is the most fun of the Reeve Superman movies to watch, with great comic book-style action (vs. a chemical fire! vs. a tornado! vs. a super computer! vs. his evil twin!) and a Richard Pryor performance that never fails to crack me up. (8/10)

d. Richard Lester

03 December 2007

OLR: Superman II (1980)

Despite significant flaws and some parts I plain dislike, it remains one of the most entertaining of super-hero movies. (7/10)

d. Richard Donner & Richard Lester

01 December 2007

OLR: Superman: The Movie (1978)

There'll never be a better portrayer of Superman, a better Superman score, or a better Krypton sequence than seen here. (8/10)

d. Richard Donner