Film Review – STARGATE (1994)

Stargate (1994; France/USA; DeLuxe; 121m) ∗∗∗  d. Roland Emmerich; w. Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich; ph. Karl Walter Lindenlaub; m. David Arnold.  Cast: James Spader, Kurt Russell, Jaye Davidson, Viveca Lindfors, Alexis Cruz, Mili Aveital, Leon Rippy, John Diehl, Carlos Lauchu, Djimon Hounsou, Erick Avari, French Stewart, Gianin Loffler, Christopher John Fields, Derek Webster. An interstellar teleportation device, found in Egypt, leads to a planet with humans resembling ancient Egyptians who worship the god Ra. It makes up in scope and heart what it lacks in originality. This may not challenge the brain, but is a rousing and action-packed sci-fi/fantasy adventure. Spader scores as a linguist forced into the centre of the action and Russell emits cool as the leader of the military reconnaissance team. Special Edition runs 128m and Director’s Cut 130m. Followed by a TV franchise commencing with Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007). [PG]

Film Review – THE IPCRESS FILE (1965)

Image result for the ipcress file 1965 blu-rayIpcress File, The (1965; UK; Technicolor; 109m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Sidney J. Furie; w. W.H. Canaway, James Doran; ph. Otto Heller; m. John Barry.  Cast: Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Guy Doleman, Sue Lloyd, Gordon Jackson, Aubrey Richards, Frank Gatliff, Thomas Baptiste, Oliver MacGreevy, Freda Bamford, Pauline Winter, Anthony Blackshaw, Barry Raymond, David Glover, Stanley Meadows. In London, a counter espionage agent deals with his own bureaucracy while investigating the kidnapping and brainwashing of British scientists. First-rate and gritty spy thriller with a typically complex plot. Caine’s hero is the antithesis of James Bond, with his ordinary lifestyle and lack of glamour. Brainwashing sequence in the final act is effectively shot and acted. John Barry’s moody score adds significantly to the cold atmosphere of espionage and deceit. Based on the book by Len Deighton. Followed by two sequels – FUNERAL IN BERLIN (1966) and BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN (1967) – and later two direct to video releases – BULLET TO BEIJING (1995) and MIDNIGHT IN SAINT PETERSBURG (1996). [PG]

Film Review – DEATH WISH (1974)

Image result for death wish 1974Death Wish (1974; USA; Technicolor; 93m) ∗∗½  d. Michael Winner; w. Wendell Mayes; ph. Arthur J. Ornitz; m. Herbert Hancock.  Cast: Charles Bronson, Vincent Gardenia, William Redfield, Hope Lange, Stuart Margolin, Stephen Keats, William Redfield, Jack Wallace, Jeff Goldblum. A New York City architect becomes a one-man vigilante squad after his wife is murdered by street punks in which he randomly goes out and kills would-be muggers on the mean streets after dark. Sensationalist crime thriller became influential because of its subject matter and its connection with the public due to the time at which it was filmed, rather than for the quality of the product. Gardenia’s performance adds a level of class to this crowd-pleaser, but Winner’s direction is inconsistent and lacks subtlety. Film debut of Goldblum. Based on the novel by Brian Garfield. Four sequels followed. Remade in 2017. [18]

Film Review – SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (1956)

Image result for seven men from nowSeven Men from Now (1956; USA; Colour; 78m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Budd Boetticher; w. Burt Kennedy; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Henry Vars.  Cast: Randolph Scott, Gail Russell, Lee Marvin, Walter Reed, John Larch, Don ‘Red’ Barry, Fred Graham, John Beradino, John Phillips, Chuck Roberson, Stuart Whitman, Pamela Duncan. Ex-sheriff Ben Stride tracks the seven men who held up a Wells Fargo office and killed his wife. Tightly directed Western with Scott in fine form as the brooding ex-sheriff and Marvin also excellent as a chancer looking to profit. Scenic photography and the smitten Russell add to the ingredients, making this one of the finest of the star and directors’ collaborations. [PG]

Film Review – THE HOLLOW POINT (2016)

Image result for the hollow point 2016Hollow Point, The (2016; USA; Colour; 97m) ∗∗  d. Gonzalo López-Gallego; w. Nils Lyew; ph. José David Montero; m. Juan Navazo.  Cast: Patrick Wilson, Ian McShane, James Belushi, Lynn Collins, John Leguizamo, Nathan Stevens, Michael Flynn, Karli Hall, Heather Beers. A new sheriff of a small town along the U.S. & Mexico border investigates a drug cartel deal that went horribly wrong. Dark, violent modern Western. Efficiently made but the sensationalist script leaves us with no-one to root for and there is little in terms of scope outside of its formulaic chase thriller premise. McShane fails to convince as a Texas sheriff and Wilson struggles to hit the right note as his deputy. [15]

Film Review – THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123 (2009)

Image result for the taking of pelham 123 blu-rayTaking of Pelham 123, The (2009; USA/UK; DeLuxe; 106m) ∗∗½  d. Tony Scott; w. Brian Helgeland; ph. Tobias A. Schliessler; m. Harry Gregson-Williams.  Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzman, John Turturro, Michael Rispoli, James Gandolfini, Victor Gojcaj, Ramon Rodriguez, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, John Benjamin Hickey, Alex Kaluzhsky, Gary Basaraba, Katherine Sigismund, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Jake Richard Siciliano. Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day’s work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime. Scott’s dizzying visuals and frantic editing sucks the tension from this inferior remake that lacks the sardonic wit of the original. Washington, as usual, adds class, whilst Travolta over reaches as the chief villain. Based on the novel by John Godey. Previously filmed in 1974 and 1998 (for TV). [15]

Film Review – UNSTOPPABLE (2010)

Image result for unstoppable 2010 blu-rayUnstoppable (2010; USA; DeLuxe; 98m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Tony Scott; w. Mark Bomback; ph. Ben Seresin; m. Harry Gregson-Williams.  Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Ethan Suples, Kevin Dunn, Kevin Corrigan, Lew Temple, T.J. Miller, Kevin Chapman, Jessy Schram, David Warshofskyt, Andy Umberger, Elizabeth Mathis, Meagan Tandy, Dylan Bruce. With an unmanned, half-mile-long freight train barrelling toward a city, a veteran engineer and a young conductor race against the clock to prevent a catastrophe. Fast-paced, crowd-pleasing thrill ride. Washington and Pine make for a great combination as unlikely heroes. Superbly directed and edited it makes the most of its popcorn script.  The film was loosely based on the real-life CSX 8888 incident in the U.S. state of Ohio in 2001. Unfortunately, the film was Scott’s final one before his death in 2012. [12]

Film Review – EXECUTIVE DECISION (1996)

Image result for executive decision 1996Executive Decision (1996; USA; Technicolor; 133m) ∗∗∗½  d. Stuart Baird; w. Jim Thomas, John Thomas; ph. Alex Thomson; m. Jerry Goldsmith.  Cast: Kurt Russell, Steven Seagal, Halle Berry, John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt, David Suchet, Joe Morton, J.T. Walsh, Mary Ellen Trainor, Len Cariou, B.D. Wong, Whip Hubley, Andreas Katsulas, Marla Maples, William James Jones. When terrorists seize control of an airliner, an intelligence analyst accompanies a commando unit for a mid-air boarding operation. Well directed and suspenseful thriller that makes the most of its formulaic script. Russell scores as fish-out-of-water analyst thrown into the heat of the action and Suchet is also excellent as the single-minded terrorist leader. Only downside is it produces one grandstand finale too many. [15]

Film Review – THE WILD GEESE (1978)

Image result for the wild geese 1978Wild Geese, The (1978; UK/Switzerland; Eastmancolor; 134m) ∗∗∗  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Reginald Rose; ph. Jack Hildyard; m. Roy Budd.  Cast: Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Roger Moore, Hardy Kruger, Stewart Granger, Jack Watson, Frank Finlay, Jeff Corey, Winston Ntshona, John Kani, Jack Watson, Kenneth Griffith, Barry Foster, Ronald Fraser, Ian Yule. A British multinational seeks to overthrow a vicious dictator in central Africa. It hires a band of (largely aged) mercenaries in London and sends them in to save the virtuous but imprisoned opposition leader who is also critically ill and due for execution. Whilst this action thriller may be littered with cliches and weighed down by a by-the-numbers script, there is still much to enjoy. The lead performances are strong and the action sequences well directed. Some clumsy and dated handling of the racial politics aside this makes for diverting viewing. Based on the novel by Daniel Carney. Followed by WILD GEESE II (1985). [15]

Film Review – TARZAN ESCAPES (1936)

Image result for tarzan escapesTarzan Escapes (1936; USA; B&W; 89m) ∗∗∗  d. Richard Thorpe; w. Cyril Hume; ph. Leonard Smith; m. William Axt.  Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, John Buckler, Benita Hume, William Henry, Herbert Mundin, E.E. Clive, Darby Jones. An expedition seeking to bring Jane back to civilization, and Tarzan into captivity, gets more than it’s bargained for. Re-treads themes explored in the previous two movies with an increased emphasis on comic relief – provided by Rawlins and Cheetah – at the expense of jungle action. Production values are strong – notably in the effective swamp cave segment – and the Weissmuller/O’Sullivan chemistry gives the story its emotional heart. Original director, James C. McKay, who filmed many gruesome scenes was replaced by John Farrow and then Thorpe who practically re-shot the entire film. Re-uses footage shot for TRADER HORN (1931) as well as the first two Weissmuller Tarzan movies. Followed by TARZAN FINDS A SON! (1939). [U]