Film Review – SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (2018)

Image result for solo a star wars storySolo: A Star Wars Story (2018; USA; Colour; 135m) ***½  d. Ron Howard; w. Lawrence Kasdan, Jonathan Kasdan; ph. Bradford Young; m. John Powell.  Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Warwick Davis, Clint Howard, Richard Dixon, Joonas Suotamo, Sarah-Stephanie, Deepak Anand, Slim Khezri, Ian Kenny, Douglas Robson, Omar Alboukharey, Sean Gislingham, Nathaniel Lonsdale. During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion. Whilst this STAR WARS spin-off offers nothing particularly new or surprising, considering its troubled production history it remains a surprisingly consistently entertaining adventure. Ehrenreich displays the same roguish charisma as essayed by Harrison Ford and Glover also scores as Lando Calrissian. The action set pieces are effective and avoid the stilted choreography of recent efforts. Whilst the story itself may lack the gravitas and mysticism of its parent, it makes for more simple-minded fun. Although originally brought on board to complete the film after Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had been dismissed due to creative differences, it was widely reported that Howard re-shot more than 80% of the movie. Also shot in 3-D. [12]

Film Review – ENEMY OF THE STATE (1998)

Image result for enemy of the state 1998Enemy of the State (1998; USA; Technicolor; 132m) ***½  d. Tony Scott; w. David Marconi; ph. Daniel Mindel; m. Harry Gregson-Williams, Trevor Rabin.  Cast: Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet, Regina King, Stuart Wilson, Loren Dean, Jake Busey, Barry Pepper, Jason Robards, Laura Cayouette, Ian Hart, Scott Caan, Jason Lee, Jack Black. A lawyer becomes a target by a corrupt politician and his NSA goons when he accidentally receives key evidence to a serious politically motivated crime. Exciting and frenetically edited, if slightly overlong, action thriller plays on public paranoia with privacy and mistrust of government. Smith is good as cynical everyman caught up in a conspiracy. Hackman is reliable as ever as surveillance expert who comes to his rescue. Extended version runs to 140m. [15]

Film Review – INTO THE BLUE (2005)

Into the Blue (2005) v1 by DrDarkDoomInto the Blue (2005; USA; DeLuxe; 110m) **½  d. John Stockwell; w. Matt Johnson; ph. Shane Hurlbut; m. Paul Haslinger.  Cast: Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan, Ashley Scott, Josh Brolin, James Frain, Tyson Beckford, Chris Taloa, Ramon Saunders, Adam Collins, Dwayne Adway, Javon Frazer, Peter R.V. Bowleg Jr., Clifford McIntosh, Gill Montie. A group of divers find themselves in deep trouble with a drug lord after they come upon the illicit cargo of a sunken airplane. Underwater action thriller aimed at the teen-plus market benefits from gorgeous locations and photography. However, it is dampened by a derivative script, familiar suspense and banal two-dimensional characters. Followed by a direct-to-video sequel INTO THE BLUE 2: THE REEF (2009). [15]

Film Review – THE ENEMY BELOW (1957)

Related imageEnemy Below, The (1957; USA; DeLuxe; 98m) ****  d. Dick Powell; w. Wendell Mayes; ph. Harold Rosson; m. Leigh Harline.  Cast: Robert Mitchum, Curt Jurgens, Russell Collins, Theodore Bikel, Doug McClure, David Hedison, Kurt Kreuger, Frank Albertson, Biff Elliot, Alan Dexter. During World War II, an American destroyer meets a German U-Boat. Both captains are good ones, and the engagement lasts for a considerable time. Suspenseful battle-of-wits war drama benefits from a tight script and strong direction from Powell. Mitchum and Jurgens excel as the duelling captains, who gain a mutual respect whilst trying to destroy each other in order to survive. Finds time to comment on the inhumanity and science of war. Won an Oscar for Special Effects (Walter Rossi). Based on the novel by D.A. Rayner. [PG]

Film Review – TO CHASE A MILLION (1967)

To Chase a Million (1967; UK; Colour; 97m) **½  d. Pat Jackson, Robert Tronson; w. Stanley R. Greenberg; ph. Lionel Banes; m. Albert Elms.  Cast: Richard Bradford, Yoko Tani, Ron Randell, Norman Rossington, Anton Rogers, Mike Pratt, Aubrey Morris, Simon Brent, Gay Hamilton. A lone shark bounty hunter pits himself against secret agents from three countries. The prize: a million bucks in cash for vital state secrets. Flat spy thriller betrays its TV origins with studio sets and stock location footage. Bradford is excellent as the loner McGill, who it seems is forever being beaten up. Rodgers also impresses as a Russian spy. The plot unfolds at a slow pace and the resolution lacks punch. Compiled from a two-part story from the TV series Man in a Suitcase, originally entitled “Variation on a Million Bucks”. [PG]

Film Review – SHAMUS (1973)

Related imageShamus (1973; USA; Eastmancolor; 106m) **½  d. Buzz Kulik; w. Barry Beckerman; ph. Victor J. Kemper; m. Jerry Goldsmith.  Cast: Burt Reynolds, Dyan Cannon, John P. Ryan, Joe Santos, Georgio Tozzi, Kevin Conway, John Glover, Ron Weyand, Beeson Carroll, Larry Block, Kay Frye, Merwin Goldsmith, Melody Santangello, Irving Selbst, Alex Wilson. A New York private eye likes girls, drink and gambling, but by the look of his flat business can’t be too hot. So, an offer of $10,000 to finds some diamonds stolen in a daring raid with a flame-thrower is too good to miss. Tonal shifts jar in this detective vehicle for Reynolds, whose easy-going charm is the best thing about this yarn. The action sequences are well staged and there is good use of grimy NYC locations, but the script lacks focus and the characters are stereotypical. Followed by the TV movie A MATTER OF WIFE… AND DEATH (1976) with Rod Taylor taking over the lead. [18]

Film Review – TROUBLE MAN (1972)

Trouble Man (1972; USA; Colour; 99m) ***  d. Ivan Dixon; w. John D. F. Black; ph. Michel Hugo; m. Marvin Gaye.  Cast: Robert Hooks, Paul Winfield, Ralph Waite, William Smithers, Paula Kelly, Julius Harris, Bill Henderson, Wayne Storm. Things begin to unravel when a supercool black fixer is hired to straighten out some crooks. Typical example of the blaxploitation cinema that dominated the early 1970s. Hooks is the supercool Mr. T, whose attitude carries more than a hint of SHAFT – on which both producer Joel Freeman and writer/exec producer Black had worked. The script is fairly routine as is the violence and mayhem, but there is a sense of style in Dixon’s direction. Gaye provides the funky score. [15]

Film Review – BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)

Image result for BLADE RUNNER 2049 blu-rayBlade Runner 2049 (2017; USA/UK/Canada; Colour; 163m) ****  d. Denis Villeneuve; w. Hampton Fancher, Michael Green; ph. Roger Deakins; m. Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch.  Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Jared Leto, Lennie James, Robin Wright, Dave Bautista, Edward James Olmos, Barkhad Abdi, Hiam Abbass. Thirty years after the events of BLADE RUNNER, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years. Expanding on the events and consequences of the original story, this is a visual treat. Gosling impressively portrays the ambiguity and doubts of his character, whilst Villeneuve patiently builds the narrative using the elements of the multi-layered plot. Fans of the original will be delighted, but it may be harder-going for others unfamiliar with the concept. [15]

Film Review – “CROCODILE” DUNDEE II

Image result for CROCODILE DUNDEE II DVD“Crocodile” Dundee II (1988; Australia/USA; DuArt; 108m) **½  d. John Cornell; w. Paul Hogan, Brett Hogan; ph. Russell Boyd; m. Peter Best.  Cast: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, Charles S. Dutton, John Meillon, Hechter Ubarry, Juan Fernandez, Luis Guzman, Kenneth Welsh. Australian outback expert protects his New York love from gangsters who’ve followed her down under. Tired re-tread, which reverses the scenario of the original. Hogan again evokes an easy-going charm, but the plot gets in the way of the laughs, which are few and far between once the action returns to Australia. Followed by “CROCODILE” DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES (2001). [PG]

Film Review – SERPICO (1973)

Image result for serpico 1973Serpico (1973; USA; Technicolor; 130m) ****½  d. Sidney Lumet; w. Waldo Salt, Norman Wexler; ph. Arthur J. Ornitz; m. Mikis Theodorakis.  Cast: Al Pacino, John Randolph, Jack Kehoe, Biff McGuire, Tony Roberts, M. Emmet Walsh, F. Murray Abraham, Cornelia Sharpe, John Medici, Allan Rich, Barbara Eda-Young, Norman Ornellas, Edward Grover, Albert Henderson, Damien Leake. The true story about an honest New York cop who blew the whistle on rampant corruption in the force only to have his comrades turn against him. Pacino delivers an excellent portrayal of Frank Serpico, expertly capturing the frustrations of a cop isolated within the system. Lumet delivers an engrossing and realistic account spread over five years. Extensive New York City location work and a cast of relatively unknown actors add to the authenticity. Based on the book by Peter Maas. Followed by a TV pilot, SERPICO: THE DEADLY GAME, and series in 1976. [18]