Sunday, March 19, 2017

2016 - NOW YOU SEE ME 2 - sequel to a film I didn't see.

A sequel to a film I didn't see.  From what I can gather this is a team of crime fighting magicians who right wrongs and call themselves The Horsemen for some reason.

The team gets involved with a British crook played by the Harry Potter kid Daniel Radcliffe who I guess isn't a kid any more but is certainly short enough to be a kid.  Anyway they have to steal a computer chip that can control all the world's computers. It used to diamonds now it's computer stuff these days.

After lots of improbable adventures involving magic tricks we finally get to the big magic trick to trap the villains at the end end of the movie which is pretty lame quite frankly.

Really when you get down to it this is just Mission Impossible with some magic tricks thrown into it.
The film is over two hours which is way too long for this kind of film.

129 minutes.

2012 - GAMBIT, another remake

Going to the same well yet again we have a remake of the old Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine comedy thriller.  This version does at least attempt to work in some new situations instead of just completely aping the plot of the original.  This time Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth fill in for MacLaine and Caine.

The basic plot is the same a mismatched pair of thieves attempts to swindle a millionaire out of a chunk of money.  As in the original film we see the caper executed flawlessly which as it turns out is just a fantasy "flash forward" to how the crime should go.  Back to the real world when the actual caper is being executed, everything goes wrong and our thieves have to deal with one crisis and then another.

This version of Gambit is notable for the screenwriting presence of Joel and Ethan Coen. However I would have to say this is one of their minor efforts.  Nobody will be talking about this film in their oeuvre.

The film tries to be stylish and I guess the actors do what they can with their parts.  About the best you say for the film is that it has a kind of clever trick ending.

89 minutes.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

1968 - HAMMERHEAD - More Eurospy part 3

NATO's defense plans are in jeopardy.  The evil villain Hammerhead is going to steal them and sell them to the highest bidder or something.  We know that Hammerhead is evil because he has a porno collection stashed away on his magnificent yacht.  To save the day the West's top spy played by Vince Edwards (?) is called into stop him.  

This film has the usual assortment of fights, car chases and leering shots of women in tight outfits.  For some reason cute Judy Geeson has decided she has "taken a shine" to Edwards and tags along for all the action and adventure.

As with all of these films there is on location photography this time in Portugal.  The action is pretty standard stuff.  The light touch is missing and the film plods along from one action sequence to another.  The villain Hammerhead is also kind of a cut rate Goldfinger with the usual quirks and a Oddjob like henchman to show how scary he is.

About the only thing to recommend this film is watching Judy Geeson run around in lots of "mod" 60's outfits. 
 99 minutes.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

1953 - KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES, pretty disappointing considering the talent involved

Considering all the talent involved in this film this should have been a much better picture. 

The director was old studio pro Henry King.  Tyrone Power was always worth watching.  The film was shot in CinemaScope.  The problem with this film is that for an adventure epic it is extremely boring. 

This is another one of those British Army puts down the crazy Muslims in Indian during the early 1900's I guess.  Naturally this being Hollywood, Arizona has to substitute for the Indian frontier for the location filming.

Tyrone Power is the half caste British officer who has to earn the respect of the command.  He falls in love with the General's daughter played by a way to young Terry Moore.  Well I guess you can figure where this plot if going. 

This is film is supposed to be an adventure film but it's mostly Tyrone Power romancing Terry Moore at the expense of the action aspects of the film.  Good looking production but again kind of boring film.

100 minutes.

1954 - SECRET OF THE INCAS, early version of Indiana Jones film

This film is usually cited as the inspiration for Raiders of the Lost Arc.  There certainly are a lot of very unusually close similarities. 

To begin, Harrison Ford's costume is an exact replica for Charlton Heston's outfit right down to the hat.  Both men are on a search for archeological treasure and both films have that reflected light trick in the tomb that leads to the discovery of the treasure.  There are however a few differences.

The chief difference is that Secret of the Incas has of all things several musical numbers. These sequences feature a singer names Yma Sumac who has an incredible vocal range which apparently runs about five octaves.  As interesting as these musical numbers are they do kind of bring the action to a halt at times. 

Secret of the Incas is a good adventure film with lots of on location photography in Peru and a fascinating insight into how Hollywood essentially makes the same film over and over with all due respect to Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Lucas.

 98 minutes.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

2014 - JOHN WICK, first in a series apparently

After John Wick's car is stolen and dog murdered by Russian gangsters who apparently can run amok in the United States.  Wick seeks revenge which means he shoots lots of people.

This film strikes me as a fairly mediocre action film that somehow did OK at the box office and got decent reviews, go figure.

Apparently no one remembers John Woo's classic Hong Kong films The Killer and Hard Boiled because John Wick is basically those films.  I can assure you the director of John Wick remembers those films because he definitely stages a lot of the shoot em up scenes in the style of those Woo films.

For all the beatings and blood spilling the film is curiously uninvolving.  It's hard to care about these nonexistent characters.

101 minutes.

1953 - SEMINOLE, The US Army vs Indians except in the swamps.

It's the United States Army vs the Seminole Indians fighting it out in the Florida swamps.  The director is cult filmmaker Budd Boetticher although you would find it pretty hard to believe he has a describable style based on this by the book studio production. 

Rock Hudson in one of his many Universal Studios films is the Army officer who wants to live in peace with the Seminoles.  Richard Carlson is his superior who is one of those crazy martinet officers like Henry Fonda in Fort Apache who just wants to kill all the Indians.  Anthony Quinn is the leader of the Seminoles, Barbara Hale is the love interest stuck in a silly love triangle between Quinn and Hudson.  You get the picture.  Did I mention that Lee Marvin turns up in a small part with black hair no less?

The film is a fairly sympathetic portrayal of Native Americans which was somewhat rare for a western in this time period.  The action scenes are not that bad but for the most part this is pretty standard stuff.  At least it's short.

87 minutes.