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]

Film Review – HELLFIGHTERS (1968)

Image result for hellfighters 1968Hellfighters (1968; USA; Technicolor; 121m) ***  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Clair Huffaker; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Leonard Rosenman.  Cast: John Wayne, Katharine Ross, Vera Miles, Jim Hutton, Bruce Cabot, Jay C. Flippen, Edward Faulkner, Barbara Stuart, Edmund Hashim. The story of macho oil well firefighters and their wives. Whilst it plays almost every cliché in the book – and set a few – this is still an entertaining, well-staged action-packed story. Simplistic plot and episodic nature keeps us interested. Rosenman’s theme and score is memorable. Wayne’s character of Chance Buckman is based on real-life oil well firefighter ‘Red’ Adair. Adair, “Boots” Hansen, and “Coots” Matthews, served as technical advisers on the film. [PG]

Film Review – STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII – THE LAST JEDI (2017)

Image result for star wars the last jedi times review ukStar Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017; USA; Colour; 152m) ****  d. Rian Johnson; w. Rian Johnson; ph. Steve Yedlin; m. John Williams.  Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Lupita Nyong’o, Anthony Daniels, Andy Serkis, Warwick Davis. Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past. Highly entertaining action-packed addition to the saga, which revisits many of the themes explored earlier in the series and as such may seem overly familiar. The basic chase plot is stretched a little with some lazy progressions, but despite its length the film doesn’t stand still for long nor does it outstay its welcome. Hamill and Fisher feature more heavily and there are one or two twists along the way, but its mid-trilogy position inevitably leaves certain issues unresolved. The visual effects and location work are exemplary. Also shot in 3-D. [12]

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: ALIEN: COVENANT (2017)

Image result for alien covenant blu-rayAlien: Covenant (2017; UK/Australia/New Zealand/USA; Colour; 122m) ***  d. Ridley Scott; w. John Logan, Dante Harper, Jack Paglen, Michael Green; ph. Dariusz Wolski; m. Jed Kurzel.  Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Demián Bichir, Danny McBride, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Amy Seimetz, Callie Hernandez, Benjamin Rigby, Alexander England, Uli Latukefu, Tess Haubrich, Guy Pearce, Noomi Rapace, James Franco. The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape. It extends the dense religious mysticism of PROMETHEUS and mixes it with bug-movie action and horror. The script has many obvious triggers and offers nothing new to the series. What is left is an ultimately unsatisfying blend that has been expertly assembled, but plays it safe and would have benefited from tighter editing. [15]