movie reviews

Movie Review – Citizen Kane (1941)

Throughout most of the history of cinema, one film has consistently held the title for being simply one of the best films ever made —- Citizen Kane.

Released in 1941, Citizen Kane not only stars Hollywood legend Orson Welles, but he directed, produced, and co-wrote the film as well.

Citizen Kane (1941) — movie poster

Citizen Kane begins in the present year.

Citizen Kane (1941) – (c) RKO Radio Pictures

Inside of Xanadu, a vast and incredibly luxurious mansion in Florida, an elderly Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) is nearing his death.  He holds a snow globe, says the word “rosebud,” and then dies.  The snow globe falls to the floor and breaks, signaling the end to the legendary man. Read more…

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - February 25, 2017 at 7:33 pm

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Movie Review – A Bridge Too Far (1977)

In June of 1944, Allied forces made their historic landing in Normandy, France, and the race was on to use ground forces to end the war in Europe.  As forces continued to push back against the Germans, it was thought that a major operation could have enough of an impact to end the war by Christmas.

Released in 1977, A Bridge Too Far tells the tale of Operation Market Garden, a major Allied attempt to use paratroopers to go behind the German lines in the Netherlands and capture key bridges, trapping the German Fifteenth Army and allowing Allies to cross the Rhine River with tanks, artillery and necessary supplies.

A Bridge Too Far was directed by legendary English actor and film maker Richard Attenborough.  The British-American war film features an impressive cast including James CaanMichael CaineSean ConneryGene HackmanAnthony HopkinsRobert Redford, and even a small role for Denholm Elliott (Dr. Marcus Brody from Raiders of the Lost Ark as well as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).

A Bridge Too Far (1977) – movie poster

A Bridge Too Far begins in Holland as the German army is low on supplies.  Its morale is also low, and they’re waiting for the Allies to attack them at some point.  Unless the Germans can reorganize, receive more supplies, and find a way to stop the Allies and push them off the continent again, then it’s just a matter of time until the war in Europe is finished.

A Bridge Too Far (1977) — (c) United Artists

In EnglandLieutenant-General Browning (Dirk Bogarde) creates a plan to use airborne troops to land behind German lines in the Netherlands.  It’s a major operation involving some 35,000 Allied soldiers.  The plans call for the American 82nd & 101st Airborne soldiers to capture roads and bridges in Nijmegen, and the British 1st Airborne and Polish paratroopers to capture a major bridge in Arnhem.  If all goes well, the British XXX Armoured Corps will arrive at Arnhem (a distance of over sixty miles) two days after the drop. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - February 24, 2017 at 9:03 am

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Movie Review – Fantastic Voyage (1966)

Imagine if medical science advanced to the point where surgeons could operate on a person from *inside* of their body.

That’s basically the premise behind 1966’s hit science-fiction film, Fantastic Voyage.

In Fantastic Voyage, a team of surgeons is miniaturized inside of a special submersible that is sent inside of a scientist’s body.  It’s a race against time to not only battle the hostile environment of the human body, but to also reach the critical injury and repair it, all while racing a clock as well as dealing with somebody sabotaging the mission.

Fantastic Voyage (1966) - movie poster

Fantastic Voyage (1966) – movie poster

Directed by Richard Fleischer, Fantastic Voyage stars Stephen Boyd as Charles GrantSupporting him in the film are Raquel Welch as Cora Peterson and Donald Pleasence as Dr. Michaels.

Fantastic Voyage (1966) - (c) 20th Century Fox

Fantastic Voyage (1966) – (c) 20th Century Fox

Fantastic Voyage begins with scientist Dr. Jan Benes (Jean Del Val) fleeing from the Soviets and eventually reaching the United States.  However, just after he arrives in the U.S, Benes’s car is attacked by assassins, and Benes is critically injured.  He quickly develops a dangerous blood clot inside of his brain, and the condition will kill him if it’s left untreated.  The only problem is that the type of surgery required to remove the clot is incredibly dangerous. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - August 5, 2015 at 10:33 pm

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Movie Review – The Country Bears (2002)

Today we’re taking a look at 2002’s The Country Bears, a Disney live-action film based on the popular Country Bear Jamboree animatronic show in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland.

When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, one of its original attractions was Country Bear Jamboree, an animatronic stage show featuring a large cast of musical hillbilly bears.  The show was a hit as the audiences adored the music as well as the loveable bears and their humorous antics.  Country Bear Jamboree was later added to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as well as Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, but it was ultimately removed from the California theme park in 2001.

Released in 2002, The Country Bears was the second theatrical Disney film based on an attraction in one of the theme parks (the first theatrical film was 2000’s Mission to Mars).  The Country Bears involves a young bear named Beary Barrington, and his quest to discover his true place in the world.  He finds the old Country Bears band members and convinces them to reunite and play at a fundraiser to save Country Bear Hall, their old concert venue that has fallen behind on its bills.

The Country Bears (2002) - movie poster

The Country Bears (2002) – movie poster

Directed by Peter Hastings, The Country Bears stars Haley Joel Osment as the voice of Beary Barrington, a young bear who lives with an adopted family of humans, and Christopher Walken as Reed Thimple, a banker who’s plotting to destroy Country Bear Hall.  Other actors in this film include Diedrich Bader, Darly Mitchell, Brad Garrett, and a host of celebrity cameos.

The Country Bears (2002) - (c) Buena Vista Pictures

The Country Bears (2002) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures

The Country Bears begins with a brief overview of the The Country Bears, an all-bear country rock band that broke up in 1991.  The footage includes the bears singing “Let It Ride” (a good song, by the way) at what we presume to be one of their final concerts.

Fast forward years later. Read more…

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 24, 2015 at 12:55 pm

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Movie Review – Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

How far would you go to find something that you have loved and lost?

That’s basically the premise for 1985’s classic film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.  In Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, somebody steals Pee-wee Herman’s prized bicycle, and Pee-wee embarks on a zany adventure to reclaim it.  His quest takes him through exotic lands in the American Southwest, and it ends with a mad chase through a movie studio in Hollywood.

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) - movie poster

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) – movie poster

Directed by Tim Burton in his directorial debut, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure stars Paul Reubens in the lead role of Pee-wee Herman.  Supporting him are Elizabeth Daily in the role of Dottie, Mark Holton as Francis Buxton, and Diane Salinger as Simone.

Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) - (c) Warner Bros.

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) – (c) Warner Bros.

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure begins with Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) riding his prized bicycle in a bike race.  It turns out that he’s competing in the prestigious Tour de France race.  The race ends and Pee-wee finishes in first place.  Just as he’s about to be crowned as the winner, an alarm sounds and the crowd quickly scatters.

It’s revealed that Pee-wee was only dreaming.  He wakes up, crawls out of bed, and begins his day with his playful antics.  Pee-wee has elaborate contraptions cook his breakfast while he finishes preparing for his day.  After a quick meal he goes outside and unlocks his bicycle from a secret hiding place. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 22, 2015 at 10:50 pm

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Movie Review – Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)

In honor of tomorrow night’s premier of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! on Syfy, today we’re taking a look at the second film in the series, Sharknado 2: The Second One.

Back in 2013, the made for television film Sharknado created a media frenzy with its completely ridiculous plot of deadly tornadoes filled with killer sharks.  The film was aired for three nights in a row on the SyFy Channel, with each night having a larger number of viewers.  This was a film that was so bad and corny that you just had to watch it not just once but several times.

So what do you do when a low-budget film is a hit?

You make a sequel!  You strike quickly while the iron is hot!

Sharknado 2: The Second One premiered on July 30, 2014 on the SyFy Channel.  The sequel returned some of the original cast and transferred the action from Los Angeles to New York City.  Another superstorm filled with sharks strikes, and it’s up to a small group of people to figure out a way to stop the deadly storm and save an entire city.

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) - movie poster

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) – movie poster

Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, Sharknado 2: The Second One returns Ian Ziering and Tara Reid in the lead roles of Finley Shepard and April Wexler.  Supporting them is Vivica A. Fox as Skye, Fin’s childhood friend, Judd Hirsch as Ben, a taxi driver, and about a dozen cameos featuring a variety of celebrities.

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) - (c) The Asylum

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) – (c) The Asylum

Sharknado 2: The Second One begins with Finley “Fin” Shepard (Ian Ziering) and his ex-wife, April Wexler (Tara Reid) flying to New York City to visit some old friends as well as promote April’s book covering the events from last year’s sharknado in Los Angeles.  A flight attendant (Kelly Osbourne) is a fan of April’s and gladly accepts an invitation to join her at an event in New York City.

When the airliner begins its approach into New York City, the plane flies right through a strong storm filled with airborne sharks.  The sharks repeatedly attack the airliner and break into the aircraft, killing the pilot (Robert Hayes) and co-pilot (Rachel True).  The flight attendant is also killed by a shark along with a passenger (Wil Wheaton).

Fin makes his way to the cockpit and takes control of the doomed airliner.  While he’s trying to bring it down for a landing, one of the aircraft’s doors is ripped open and April is nearly sucked out into the storm.  She uses an air marshal’s (Austin Priester) pistol to shoot at a flying shark, but the shark reaches her and bites off half of her arm.  Somehow Fin is able to land the damaged airliner at the airport (nowhere was it mentioned in Sharknado of Fin having *any* flying experience), saving the lives of the remaining passengers.  April is then whisked away to a hospital to be treated for her amputated arm. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 21, 2015 at 3:35 pm

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Movie Review – The Producers (1968)

What if it paid to be a failure?

What if you could get away with it, too?

That’s the premise behind today’s movie review, the 1968 classic comedy film, The Producers.

Written and directed by comedic legend Mel Brooks, The Producers tells a tale of a failing Broadway producer who, with the help of his account, figures out a way to scam investors by creating a show that’s bound to fail on opening night.  The only problem is that the play that they think will fail miserable, instead turns out to be a smash hit.  Can the two producers scramble and find a way to pay back their investors, or will they be sent to prison for their crimes?

The Producers (1968) - movie poster

The Producers (1968) – movie poster

As it was mentioned, The Producers was both written and directed by Mel Brooks.  This was the first film that he directed.  Starring in The Producers is Zero Mostel in the role of failed Broadway producer Max Bialystock.  Co-starring in the film are Gene Wilder as accountant Leopold Bloom, and Dick Shawn as Lorenzo St. DuBois.

The Producers (1968) - (c) Embassy Pictures

The Producers (1968) – (c) Embassy Pictures

The Producers begins with aging and washed out Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) womanizing wealthy old ladies and trying to swindle money out of them.  Although Max has found success in the past, these days he’s down on his luck, miserable, and he’s also behind on his rent.

One day Max is visited by his accountant, Leopold “Leo” Bloom (Gene Wilder), to go through his books and put his money in order.  Leo soon discovers that there is an overcharge of $2,000 from Max’s last play.  He had raised more money than he could repay by accidentally selling more than 100% of the shares.  This is a small oversight and Leo is able to disguise the $2,000 in other parts of Max’s business.  Leo makes a comment that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) isn’t interested in a show that flops. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 19, 2015 at 9:30 pm

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Movie Review – A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Today we’re taking a look at the 1964 western film, A Fistful of Dollars.

Released in Italy in 1964 and the United States in 1967, A Fistful of Dollars has been credited for launching the movie career for television actor Clint Eastwood.  The film also brought a tremendous amount of success and fame to Italian director Sergio Leone.  This movie is also responsible for starting the genre of spaghetti western, western films that were produced and directed by Italians.

A Fistful of Dollars involves a mysterious man arriving in a small town in Mexico, and discovering that the town’s two largest families were rivals with each other.  The two families continually fight for power, wealth and control of the town.  The mysterious man figures out a way to manipulate the two families and use it to his advantage.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) - movie poster

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) – movie poster

Directed by Sergio Leone, A Fistful of Dollars stars Clint Eastwood as the Stranger.  He’s a man with no name and no information about his past.  The film’s music was created by Italian composer Ennio Morricone.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) - (c) United Artists

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) – (c) United Artists

A Fistful of Dollars begins with a mysterious Stranger (Clint Eastwood) arriving in a small town in Mexico.  Although he doesn’t know or speak to anybody, he knows that some of the people in town do not want him there.  At one point he’s teased and harassed by four gunmen.  The Stranger then visits the town’s inn keeper, Silvanito (Jose Calvo), and learns that there are two families vying for control of the town — the Rojos and the Baxters. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 18, 2015 at 10:11 pm

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Movie Review – The Towering Inferno (1974)

During the early 1970s era of “shake and bake” disaster films, one of the biggest and best was 1974’s The Towering Inferno.

Set in San Francisco, California, The Towering Inferno tells a story of the opening of the world’s tallest building, and a party that celebrates its completion.  Faulty wiring causes a fire to start halfway up the building, and it’s not long before the party guests discover that they’re trapped at the top of the glass tower.  As the flames continue to grow and climb their way up the skyscraper, the people are forced to deal with the threat as they try every way possible to escape from the deadly fire.

The Towering Inferno (1974) - movie poster

The Towering Inferno (1974) – movie poster

Directed by John Guillermin and with music by John Williams, The Towering Inferno stars Hollywood legends Steve McQueen as a battalion chief for the fire department, and Paul Newman as the architect of the skyscraper.  Supporting them are a group of familiar actors and actresses including William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, Robert Vaughn and Robert Wagner.  Also in The Towering Inferno is O.J. Simpson in one of his first acting roles.

The Towering Inferno (1974) - (c) Warner Bros. Pictures

The Towering Inferno (1974) – (c) Warner Bros. Pictures

The Towering Inferno begins with Doug Roberts (Paul Newman) returning to San Francisco for the dedication ceremony for the Glass Tower, the world’s largest building, a building that he designed himself.  The Glass Tower is owned and was built by James Duncan (William Holden), a wealthy person who is looking forward to showing off the prestigious building to the top members of society.  He insists that Roberts be there later that evening for the dedication ceremony. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 17, 2015 at 8:31 pm

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Movie Review – Terminator Genisys (2015)

Released to theaters this weekend is Terminator Genisys, the latest film in the Terminator franchise and (hopefully) the beginning of a new Terminator series of films.

Terminator Genisys returns to the origins of the Terminator story, but it’s not what you’re expecting.  This isn’t simply a reboot of the original film.  Instead, Terminator Genisys pays homage to the original film while also offering people a new story as part of an alternative timeline.

Terminator Genisys (2015) - movie poster

Terminator Genisys (2015) – movie poster

Directed by Alan Taylor, Terminator Genisys returns Hollywood legend Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of the T-800 (Model 101) / Guardian.  Co-starring in the film are Jason Clarke as John Connor, Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, and Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese.  Also in the film are J.K. Simmons as Detective O’Brien and Courtney B. Vance as Miles Dyson.

Terminator Genisys begins with a voiceover of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) explaining how life has changed drastically since Judgment Day, the moment when the machines declared war against humanity and launched a surprise nuclear attack, wiping out most of humanity.  The survivors were forced to band together and fight for their lives.  The leader of the Resistance is a soldier named John Connor (Jason Clarke).

In the year 2029, John Connor leads the Resistance in a final assault in the Los Angeles offensive.  The attack, coordinated with an attack in the Colorado offensive, is aimed at striking at Skynet‘s secret new weapon, a weapon that could change the outcome of the war.  Hidden underneath a remote storage facility is Skynet’s ultimate weapon — a time machine.

The final attacks are launched against Skynet.  The Colorado offensive is successful at stopping Skynet’s main defense grid, but Connor’s Los Angeles offensive is unable to stop Skynet before it sends a lone T-800 cyborg back in time to 1984 to kill John Connor’s mother.  If the cyborg is successful in its mission then Sarah Connor will die and John Connor, the leader of the Resistance, will never be born.

In order to stop the cyborg and save the future, then somebody from the Resistance will have to travel back in time to save Sarah Connor.  Several soldiers volunteer for the dangerous mission, and John Connor selects Kyle Reese.  The Resistance gets the time machine operating and they send Reese back in time.  Just before he travels through time, Reese notices one of the soldiers (a Terminator in disguise) grabbing and attacking John Connor.  Reese then travels through time and has flashbacks to an alternative version of his younger self. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - July 1, 2015 at 10:38 pm

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Movie Review – Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Back in 1968, the film Planet of the Apes introduced people to a concept of a world where apes rule society and human beings are feral creatures.

Planet of the Apes followed along as astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) was forced to deal with being on a strange and hostile planet.  He was ultimately successful in proving to the apes that human beings are smarter and more resourceful than the apes gave them credit.  Planet of the Apes had a shock ending where Taylor discovered that he was really on planet Earth the whole time.  At some point in the past humanity destroyed itself in warfare, and apes evolved to become the dominant species on the planet.

We know that there’s more to the story of what really happened on planet Earth.  We know that there must be more human artifacts out there.  And we know that there’s more to be discovered.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes was released two years later in 1970.

In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, a second spacecraft (one that was sent to search for Taylor’s spacecraft) travels through a time warp and crash lands on the same planet that’s now ruled by apes.  Astronaut Brent meets Nova, he is shocked to witness the ape’s society, and he ultimately discovers a hidden underground city inhabited with mutant human beings, descendants from the war that destroyed humanity.  It’s a race against time as an army of apes advances and aims to crush the underground city once and for all.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) - movie poster

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) – movie poster

Directed by Ted Post, Beneath the Planet of the Apes stars James Franciscus as Brent, an astronaut who accidentally travels through time while he’s sent on a mission to rescue George Taylor.  Charlton Heston reprises his role of George Taylor, and so does Linda Harrison as Nova, Kim Hunter as Zira, and Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius.  This time around David Watson plays the role of Cornelius.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) - (c) 20th Century Fox

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) – (c) 20th Century Fox

Beneath the Planet of the Apes begins at the ending of Planet of the ApesGeorge Taylor (Charlton Heston) and Nova (Linda Harrison) find the remains of the Statue of Liberty, and Taylor realizes that he’s been on Earth the whole time, just several thousand years into the future.  Humanity is virtually extinct and apes are in control of society.  Depressed, he and Nova ride on horseback further into the Forbidden Zone, hoping to find other signs of life.

A short while later, Taylor and Nova discover a wall of flames that appears and just as quickly disappears.  This is followed by a few quick bolts of lightning.  Taylor suspects that there’s more to the story of these phenomena, so he grabs a rifle and takes a closer look.  Just as it looks like Taylor discovers the secret behind the apparitions, he suddenly disappears into a rocky wall.  Nova is terrified by the sight, and she flees on Taylor’s horse. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 30, 2015 at 11:27 pm

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Movie Review – Planet of the Apes (1968)

Imagine suddenly being placed in a world where things were the opposite, where human beings were running wild and apes were in control of society.

That’s the premise for 1968’s hit science-fiction film, Planet of the Apes.

In Planet of the Apes, George Taylor and two other astronauts crash land on an alien planet where human beings are wild with no permanent homes, no form of communication, and no real society.  They live in packs and stay on the run from the apes, advanced creatures that can speak, they have clothing and weapons, and they have a functioning society complete with their own city.  When Taylor is captured by the apes, the apes are shocked to see that he’s very different from the other human beings.  Some apes believe that Taylor is a missing link that explains their society, while other apes believe that Taylor is a mutation that must be destroyed.

Planet of the Apes (1968) - movie poster

Planet of the Apes (1968) – movie poster

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, Planet of the Apes stars Hollywood legend Charlton Heston in the lead role of astronaut George Taylor.  Co-starring in the film are Roddy McDowall as Cornelius, Kim Hunter as Zira, Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius, and Linda Harrison as Nova, one of the human beings.

Planet of the Apes (1968) - (c) 20th Century Fox

Planet of the Apes (1968) – (c) 20th Century Fox

Planet of the Apes begins out in space as astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) readies their spaceship for their trip back home to Earth.  Joining him are astronauts Landon (Robert Gunner), Dodge (Jeff Burton), as well as a female astronaut already asleep and in stasis.  Although there’s no mention of the spaceship’s name in the 1968 version of the film, a 2008 Blu-ray edition of the film includes a short film where it’s mentioned that the ship is called Liberty 1.

Liberty 1‘s mission left Earth in 1972, and it travelled faster-than-light through a wormhole to distant galaxies.  As a result, while the mission itself has only lasted for six months, it’s theorized that 700 years have passed back on Earth.

Taylor is the last astronaut still awake before going into stasis.  He records his thoughts into the ship’s recorder before climbing into his sleep chamber and entering a form of hibernation.  The Liberty 1 continues on autopilot and continues its journey back to Earth. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 23, 2015 at 11:09 pm

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Movie Review – Piranha (1978)

Back in 1975, Jaws not only proved to be an extremely successful film in the theaters, but it also gave the audience a reason to think twice before swimming in the ocean.

Of course, the odds of being attacked by a shark are extremely slim, but you *really* don’t know what’s swimming underneath you.  Those might be some harmless fish tickling your toes, it might just be some seaweed, or it could be a sign that something much fiercer is about to attack your legs . . .

1978 saw the release of Piranha, a B-movie that’s partial parody, partial comedy, and partial bloody horror film involving swarms of aggressive fish with razor sharp teeth.  The film involves a school of genetically-modified piranha that are accidentally released into a river.  It’s a race against time to stop the fish before they attack a summer camp and, further downstream, the grand opening of a brand new water park.

Piranha (1978) - movie poster

Piranha (1978) – movie poster

Directed by Joe Dante, Piranha stars Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies as Paul Grogan and Maggie McKeown.  Supporting them are basically a bunch of obscure actors and actresses including Kevin McCarthy, Barbara Steele, Melody Thomas Scott, and iconic 1980s actor Dick Miller.

Piranha (1978) - (c) United Artists

Piranha (1978) – (c) United Artists

Piranha begins with two teenagers who discover a seemingly abandoned swimming pool inside of a former military research base.  It’s late at night and nobody is in sight, so the two teenagers decide to go skinny dipping.  That turns out to be a fatal mistake as the pool is actually filled with carnivorous fish, and the two teenagers are brutally killed. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 20, 2015 at 4:49 pm

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Movie Review – Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Back in 1975, the movie Jaws proved that not only are sharks fearsome creatures, but they can also prove to be formidable monsters in Hollywood.

Jaws was so successful that not only did it spawn its own series of films, but for the most part, Hollywood didn’t use sharks as villains.  Other sea creatures have attempted to terrify the audiences, but sharks were overlooked.  It was almost like nobody wanted to make a shark movie because everybody would keep comparing it to 1975’s Jaws.

That notion changed with the release of 1999’s killer shark movie, Deep Blue Sea.  In Deep Blue Sea, research scientists increase the size of sharks’ brains in an effort to study diseases.  However, this increase in brainpower makes the sharks smarter, and they use their sharpened thinking skills to attack the researchers.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) - movie poster

Deep Blue Sea (1999) – movie poster

Directed by Renny Harlin, Deep Blue Sea stars Thomas Jane and Saffron Burrows in the lead roles of Carter Blake and Dr. Susan McAlester.  Supporting them is a cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Jacqueline McKenzie, Stellan Skarsgard, and LL Cool J.

Deep Blue Sea begins with four teenagers having fun on a boat while out at sea.  Suddenly the boat is attacked by a shark, and the teenagers are knocked into the water.  Just before the shark can attack and kill them, the predator fish is captured by a mysterious man.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) - (c) Warner Bros.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) – (c) Warner Bros.

In Los Angeles, California, Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) is called to an emergency meeting at Chimera.  The company’s leaders are upset that one of Susan’s test sharks had escaped from the research facility and attacked a small group of teenagers.  None of them were killed or seriously injured, but the incident is still bad news for the company.

It turns out that Susan is using three genetically modified mako sharks in an attempt to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  These three sharks have larger brains (the brain fluid is used in the research) than their counterparts in the wild, and it’s made these particular sharks smarter and more aggressive.  The recently escaped and recaptured shark is a sign that perhaps the researchers don’t have everything under control at their research station. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 18, 2015 at 1:13 pm

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Movie Review – Jurassic World (2015)

Released to the theaters this weekend is Jurassic World, the fourth movie in the Jurassic Park franchise.

Back in 1993, Jurassic Park ruled the theaters with its story involving a high-tech theme park filled with dinosaurs brought back to life through advanced technology.  This was followed by The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997, and then Jurassic Park III in 2001.

And now, after waiting fourteen years, the next Jurassic Park film has finally been released.

Enter Jurassic World.

Jurassic World (2015) - movie poster

Jurassic World (2015) – movie poster

Directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Vincent D’Onofrio, Jurassic World goes back to the franchise’s roots and returns us to the original ideas set in Jurassic Park.  A new team has taken over John Hammond’s operations and the theme park (now named Jurassic World) is open to the public.  New dinosaur attractions have been added over the years, and now it’s time to open another one.  The latest creation, a hybrid dinosaur named Indominus rex, is guaranteed to terrify the visitors and boost the audiences at the theme park.  Of course, you know what happens next . . .

Jurassic World begins with two brothers, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray Mitchell (Ty Simpkins) at their home.  Although Gary is still young, he has a keen interest in dinosaurs and science.  His older brother Zach is more interested in girls, and he’s practically counting down the days until he can move out of his parents’ house and live on his own.  Their parents need some time alone to sort out their own problems, so they send the boys on a vacation to Jurassic World.  The boys’ Aunt Claire happens to work at the dinosaur theme park, and she’s going to look after them and give them a personal tour of the place.

Zach and Gray catch an international flight to Costa Rica, and then they board a high-speed ferry with other guests bound for Isla Nublar, a.k.a. Jurassic World.  After that they board a monorail that takes them through the famous Jurassic Park gate and ultimately to the visitors’ complex.  While Gray is excited to see the dinosaurs, Zach is more interested in looking at the young ladies. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - June 13, 2015 at 7:23 pm

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Movie Review – Little Caesar (1931)

Today we’re taking a look at Little Caesar, a 1931 gangster film that introduced the world to Edward G. Robinson.

Credited as one of the films that launched the gangster genre in the 1930s in Hollywood, Little Caesar is a classic tale that follows Caesar Enrico Bandello and his rise from a petty criminal into a powerful gangster.  The film Little Caesar is based on William R. Burnett‘s novel of the same name.

Little Caesar (1931) - movie poster

Little Caesar (1931) – movie poster

Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, Little Caesar stars Edward G. Robinson as Caesar Enrico Bandello, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as Joe Massara, Rico’s close friend.  Supporting them are Glenda Farrell as Olga Stassoff, Sidney Blackmer as “Big Boy,” and Thomas Jackson as Sergeant Flaherty.

Little Caesar (1931) - (c) Warner Bros.

Little Caesar (1931) – (c) Warner Bros.

Little Caesar begins with criminals Caesar Enrico “Rico” Bandello (Edward G. Robinson) and Joe Massara (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) robbing a gas station.  The two of them then casually eat dinner in a diner while Rico reads a newspaper.  When Rico sees a story about the underworld paying its respect to a gang leader, Rico realizes that that is the lifestyle that he wants.  He desires to be powerful and respected, and not some two-bit criminal that nobody knows.

However, Joe doesn’t have that same passion for being a criminal.  He tells Rico that he would rather be dancing on stage with a woman, and living life in the spotlight.  Rico seems disgusted that Joe would rather be a dancer and around women.

The two of them head to Chicago to pursue their dreams. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - April 15, 2015 at 10:27 pm

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Movie Review – Bullets or Ballots (1936)

Today we’re taking a look at Bullets or Ballots, a classic gangster film released back in 1936.

Bullets or Ballots is a crime film that involves gangsters looking for a new racket and source of income.  While they look to expand their empire, a top New York City police officer is willing to do anything it takes to stop them, even if it means risking his life and infiltrating their gang.

Bullets or Ballots (1936) - movie poster

Bullets or Ballots (1936) – movie poster

Directed by William Keighley, Bullets or Ballots stars Edward G. Robinson as Detective Johnny Blake, a cop who wants to rid New York City of its notorious gangsters.  Supporting him in the film are Humphrey Bogart as Nick “Bugs” Fenner, and Joan Blondell as Lee Morgan.

Bullets or Ballots (1936) - (c) Warner Bros. Pictures

Bullets or Ballots (1936) – (c) Warner Bros. Pictures

Set in New York City, Bullets or Ballots begins with Al Kruger (Barton MacLane) and his underling, Nick “Bugs” Fenner (Humphrey Bogart), going to a theater and seeing a news report about the extent of gangster activities (primarily involving racketeering) in the U.S.  The extent of the racketeering goes as far as installing arcade machines so that kids can play games and lose their lunch money.  The news clip ends with footage of Kruger’s racketeering trial, to which he was acquitted by the jury. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - April 11, 2015 at 10:58 pm

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Movie Review – Furious 7 (2015)

Released this weekend is Furious 7, the seventh and what might actually be the final film in The Fast and the Furious franchise.

Furious 7 received a ton of attention two years ago when actor Paul Walker was killed in an auto accident not related to the filming of the movie.  At that point the movie itself was about halfway finished being filmed.  The rest of the filming was delayed and parts of the script were re-written to accommodate his loss.  Through the use of look-alikes and the magic of CGI effects, Paul Walker’s character is still featured throughout the final version of Furious 7.

Furious 7 follows the stories in Fast & Furious 6 and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.  Owen Shaw is badly injured from the events at the end of Fast & Furious 6, and his brother, Deckard Shaw, seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his crew of drivers.  The driving crew is assembled for one final mission to help a covert agency acquire a key piece of technology that will allow the drivers to track Deckard Shaw and stop him from his personal vendetta.

Furious 7 (2015) - movie poster

Furious 7 (2015) – movie poster

Directed by James Wan, Furious 7 stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in their respective roles of Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner.  Supporting them are the usual team of actors including Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz, Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce, Ludacris as Tej Parker, Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto, and Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs.

New faces this time around include Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw, Kurt Russell as Frank Petty, Nathalie Emmanuel as Megan Ramsey, and Djimon Hounsou as a terrorist named Jakande.

Furious 7 begins with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) visiting his badly injured brother, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), in the hospital.  He swears to his brother that he’ll get his revenge to those who nearly killed him.  As Deckard leaves the hospital, we see that he has left a trail of wreckage and carnage, with many dead police officers and hospital workers.

Over in California, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) takes Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) to Race Wars in hopes of finding something to help Letty regain her memory.  Letty is still suffering from amnesia.  She follows Dominic’s advice and easily beats her opponent at Race Wars.  However, when the crowd is celebrating with Letty, she’s overcome with anxiety, punches Hector (Noel Gugliemi) by accident, and flees from Race Wars.

Later, Dominic finds Letty at the grave where “she” was buried years ago.  Dominic wants to use a sledgehammer to break the gravestone, but Letty stops him.  She sees the grave as a transition point where her old self died and this new version with amnesia was born.

At the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service office, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) catches Deckard Shaw illegally using his personal computer.  Luke tries to arrest him, but Deckard refuses and the two of them have a lengthy fight sequence.  The fight ends when Deckard uses a hand grenade to effectively “blast” Luke and his partner out of an elevated window.  The two officers fall several stories and crash land on top of a car.  The landing seriously injures Luke, and he’s taken to a hospital for treatment.  Although most of Luke’s office has been destroyed, we see that Deckard was able to learn the name of one of Dominic Toretto’s accomplices —- Han Seoul-Oh.

Dominic visits Luke in the hospital, and he learns that Deckard is out for revenge.

Remember Han’s fatal car accident in Tokyo, Japan? Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - April 3, 2015 at 4:26 pm

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Movie Review – Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Pop quiz!

What comes after Fast Five?

If you guessed Fast & Furious 6, then you’re correct!  Congratulations!

Fast Five ended with the gang successfully stealing the $100 million in cash from Hernan Reyes, and the gang going off in their own directions.  It was a happy ending that could have ended the franchise right there.  However, a short clip during the credits showed that Letty Ortiz is actually alive, and that she is part of a gang of street raiders in Europe.

You know what that means.

Onward to Fast & Furious 6.

The sixth film in The Fast and the Furious franchise revolves around the gang seeking Letty Ortiz, and them going up against one of their most dangerous opponents yet.  All of your favorite characters are back again for another thrilling ride full of fast cars, plenty of gunfire, and some pretty ridiculous action scenes.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013) - movie poster

Fast & Furious 6 (2013) – movie poster

Directed by Justin Lin, Fast & Furious 6 stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in their respective roles of Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner.  Co-starring in the film are a cast of actors including Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs, Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz, Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto, Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce, Ludacris as Tej Parker, Sung Kang as Han Seoul-Oh, and Luke Evans as the villain Owen Shaw.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013) - (c) Universal Pictures

Fast & Furious 6 (2013) – (c) Universal Pictures

Fast & Furious 6 begins with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) racing each other on a tropical island.  It turns out that they’re in Spain’s Canary Islands, and they were actually racing to a local hospital.  Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) is about to give birth to her and Brian’s child.  Before Brian goes inside to be with Mia, Dominic warns him that once he steps inside, then his past life no longer exists.  It’s time to focus on the future and of being a responsible father. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - April 2, 2015 at 7:58 pm

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Movie Review – Fast Five (2011)

Today we’re reviewing Fast Five, the (you guessed it!) fifth film in The Fast and the Furious franchise.

Fast Five involves the driving gang busting Dominic Toretto out of a prison transport bus, and then making their way south to Brazil, now as wanted fugitives.  It doesn’t take long for them to cross paths with a corrupt businessman, and then plan a heist to steal $100 million of his money.  To complicate matters, this time the driving gang is also being pursued by a very determined member of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service.

Fast Five (2011) - movie poster

Fast Five (2011) – movie poster

Directed by Justin Li, Fast Five stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in their respective roles of Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner.  Supporting them in the film are Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto, Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce, Ludacris as Tej Parker, Sung Kang as Han Seoul-Oh, Matt Schulze as Vince, Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar, Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves, and Joaquim de Almeida as the villain Hernan Reyes.

Dwayne Johnson plays the role of Luke Hobbs, a Diplomatic Service Agent bound to catch the fugitives and return them to the United States.

Fast Five (2011) - (c) Universal Pictures

Fast Five (2011) – (c) Universal Pictures

Fast Five begins right at the tail end of Fast & Furious as Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is being transported inside of a prison bus.  The prison bus is surrounded by a group of drivers:  Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster), Leo (Tego Calderon) and Santos (Don Omar).  The four drivers cause the prison bus to crash, and then Dominic is freed.  Dominic, Brian and Mia become international fugitives as they cross the southern border and head to South America.  Dominic separates from Brian and Mia, but they all agree to meet down in Brazil. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Dan - April 1, 2015 at 10:18 pm

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