Film Review – HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944)

Related imageHouse of Frankenstein (1944; USA; B&W; 71m) **½  d. Erle C. Kenton; w. Edward T. Lowe Jr.; ph. George Robinson; m. Hans J. Salter.  Cast: Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., J. Carrol Naish, John Carradine, Anne Gwynne, Peter Coe, Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, Elena Verdugo, Sig Ruman. An evil scientist and a hunchback escape from prison and encounter Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s Monster. Suffers from having to cater for too many monsters and therefore each story feels rushed and is ultimately disappointing. Karloff and Naish, as the mad scientist and his hunchback assistant, do their best with the material, but this is only mediocre entertainment. Based on a story by Curt Siodmak. Followed by HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945). [PG]

Film Review – ANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE (2013)

Related imageANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE (2013; New Zealand; Colour; 92m) ****  d. Anthony Powell; w. Anthony Powell; ph. Anthony Powell; m. David Donaldson, Plan 9, Steve Roche, Janet Roddick.  Documentary. A visually stunning chronicle of what it is like to live in Antarctica for a full year, including winters isolated from the rest of the world, and enduring months of darkness in the coldest place on Earth. Powell’s film is a personal document of his ten years working in Antarctica, contrasting life in the summer months, when thousands of scientists descend on the continent to that in the winter (spent at times in total darkness) when only a skeleton staff remain. His use of time-lapse photography creates some stunning images of seasonal change and barren icy landscapes as well as the stunning aurora. Powell expertly captures the reality of life in an unforgiving environment through demonstrating the impacts of extreme weather and isolation through his visuals and interviews with personnel from both McMurdo and Scott bases. An often stunning and honest account of what to many will seem like an alien environment.

Film Review – WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017)

Related imageWar for the Planet of the Apes (2017; USA; Colour; 140m) ***  d. Matt Reeves; w. Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves; ph. Michael Seresin; m. Michael Giacchino.  Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Amiah Miller, Gabriel Chavarria, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Ty Olsson, Judy Greer, Sara Canning, Devyn Dalton, Michael Adamthwaite, Aleks Paunovic, Toby Kebbell. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. Bloated third entry in the rebooted APES series has stunning visuals and special effects, but is weighed down by two-dimensional characterisations. Reeves too often slows the action down to a crawl in order to manufacture emotional wallop and some of the plot progression lacks logic. Also shot in 3-D. [12]

Film Review – KOJAK: FATAL FLAW (TV) (1989)

Image result for KOJAK FATAL FLAWKojak: Fatal Flaw (TV) (1989; USA; Technicolor; 94m) **½  d. Richard Compton; w. Albert Ruben; ph. Geoffrey Erb; m. Cameron Allan.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Andre Braugher, Angie Dickinson, Steven Weber, George Morfogen, Charles Cioffi, Richard Jenkins, Paul Guilfoyle, Kario Salem, David Ciminello, Sally Jessy Raphael, Don King. Popular book writer is murdered. Kojak finds out that shortly before his death he was working on a book about the mafia, so the mob is automatically his number one suspect.  Dickinson adds glamour to this okay mystery. Savalas seems more engaged with the material and the whole thing is competently directed by Compton. [PG]

Film Review – KOJAK: ARIANA (TV) (1989)

Kojak: Ariana (TV) (1989; USA; Technicolor; 96m) **  d. Paul Krasny; w. Maurice Hurley; ph. Geoffrey Erb; m. Cameron Allan.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Andre Braugher, Shari Headley, Caroline Wilde, Hector Elizondo, Joe Grifasi, Kario Salem, Jean De Baer, David Margulies, Liliana Komorowska, Mike Starr, James Rebhorn. One of Kojak’s old enemies uses Ariana, a young Greek girl, as bait to trap the legendary New York detective. Meanwhile, Kojak finds himself a brash young associate. After a promising start this first episode of a revived series of Kojak TV Movies descends into sentimentality and some weak comic moments. Braugher is introduced to handle the action sequences, whilst Savalas seems a little tired in his iconic role. [PG]

Film Review – THE PRICE OF JUSTICE (TV) (1989)

Image result for kojak the price of justicePrice of Justice, The (TV) (1987; USA; Technicolor; 95m) **½  d. Alan Metzger; w. Albert Ruben; ph. Victor J. Kemper; m. Patrick Williams.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Kate Nelligan, Pat Hingle, Jack Thompson, Brian Murray, John Bedford Lloyd, Jeffrey DeMunn, Tony DiBenedetto, Ron Frazier, Stephen Joyce. When the bodies of two young boys are discovered in a Harlem river, their mother is the obvious suspect, particularly with her scandalous past. But Kojak believes that she is innocent. This did she/didn’t she mystery never really catches fire and is little more than a routine addition to the Kojak series. Savalas, here lacking his support cast from the series, gives a subdued performance but Nelligan conveys effectively the confused emotional state of the mother. Hingle and Thompson are good in support, but the script is unconvincing.  Based on the novel “The Investigation” by Dorothy Uhnak. [15]

Film Review – THE BELARUS FILE (TV) (1985)

Image result for the belarus fileBelarus File, The (TV) (1985; USA; Colour; 95m) **½  d. Robert Markowitz; w. Albert Ruben; ph. Alan Metzger; m. Joseph Conlan, Barry De Vorzon.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Suzanne Pleshette, Max von Sydow, Herbert Berghof, Dan Frazer, Betsy Aidem, Alan Rosenberg, Charles Brown, George Savalas, David Leary, Harry Davis, Rita Karin, Mark Russell, Vince Conti. The murders of several elderly Russian men lead Kojak to a group of Nazi war criminals who are living in America with the full knowledge and approval of the U.S. Government. Savalas’ Kojak character is shoe-horned into an adaptation of John Loftus’ novel with middling results. There is no real mystery to sustain the story and the heavy-handed handling of the material flattens the intended emotional impact. On the plus side, Savalas remains charismatic, Von Sydow essays a dignified performance and there are occasional and welcome nods to the glory days of the TV series. [PG]

Film Review – KOJAK: THE SUMMER OF ’69 (TV) (1977)

Kojak: The Summer of ’69 (TV) (1977; USA; Technicolor; 96m) ***  d. Gene R. Kearney; w. Gene R. Kearney; ph. John McPherson; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Stephen McHattie, Alex Dreier, Harrison Page, Pepe Serna, Phillip R. Allen, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas, Woodrow Parfrey, Thalmus Rasulala, Catlin Adams, Diane Baker. A man is released from prison, and a woman who rides with him to New York is found murdered in his abandoned car (with the MO of a dead serial killer). Interesting premise helped by strong portrayal of psychotic killer by McHattie. Flashback elements are distracting and the sub-plot involving a mob fixer is never fully realised. Good use of NYC locations add authenticity. Compiled from two-part episode from fifth season of Kojak TV series. [15]

Film Review: KOJAK: KOJAK’S DAYS (TV) (1977)

Kojak: Kojak’s Days (TV) (1977; USA; Technicolor; 96m) *** d. Charles S. Dubin; w. Chester Krumholz, Matthew Rapf; ph. Sol Negrin; m. John Cacavas; ed. Eric Albertson, Jim Benson.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Maud Adams, William Hurt, Ken Kercheval, Louise Sorel, Michael Tolan, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas. An unidentified corpse in a stolen Rolls-Royce is found the same morning a wife kills her husband and abandons her child, leaving a trail that could lead to her suicide. Dramatic impetus is undermined by having four separate cases for the detectives to solve. Whilst this adds authenticity it makes the viewing hard-going at times. Extensive use of NYC locations, good performances by a strong cast and Savalas’ presence are main strengths. Adams is wasted in a what amounts to little more than a cameo. Compiled from two-part episode from fourth season of Kojak TV series. [PG]

Film Review – KOJAK: A SHIELD FOR MURDER (TV) (1976)

Image result for kojak a shield for murderKojak: A Shield for Murder (TV) (1976; USA; Technicolor; 96m) ***½  d. Jeannot Szwarc; w. William P. McGivern, Robert Malcolm Young; ph. Sol Negrin; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Geraldine Page, Charles Kimbrough, Michael Lombard, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas, Kenneth McMillan, Thom Christopher, Janet Ward, Frederick Coffin, Mary Beth Hurt, Lester Rawlins. A young man is killed by police after he attempts to kill an assistant district attorney at a courthouse. Kojak learns that the young man was a boyfriend of an ice skater who is in prison for the murder of her mother two years before. But when he tries to look further into the case, he gets pressured to drop it, with the orders ultimately coming from a powerful political operative. Highly effective feature-length episode in the Kojak series plays of themes of political greed, corruption and psychological torment. The performances are first-rate – notably Hurt as the tortured victim of the cover-up and Page as the orchestrator. Savalas is a commanding presence in his signature role. From the fourth season of the series. [PG]