Film Review – ICE STATION ZEBRA (1968)

Image result for ice station zebra dvdIce Station Zebra (1968; USA; Metrocolor; 148m) ∗∗∗½  d. John Sturges; w. Douglas Heyes, Harry Julian Fink; ph. Daniel L. Fapp; m. Michel Legrand.  Cast: Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown, Tony Bill, Lloyd Nolan, Alf Kjellin, Gerald S. O’Loughlin, Ted Hartley, Murray Rose, Ron Masak, Sherwood Price, Lee Stanley, Joseph Bernard. A nuclear submarine commander is dispatched to the polar ice region on a rescue mission when an emergency signal is received from a research station. It soon becomes apparent that the mission is more than just a simple rescue operation. Well cast spy drama may be overlong, but retains its interest throughout thanks to a solid script and strong performances from Hudson and McGoohan. Excellent production values and imaginative use of studio sets. Originally shown in theatres with an opening overture, which was restored for the 2005 DVD release. Based on the novel by Alistair MacLean. [U]

TV Review – DOCTOR WHO: THE RETURN OF DOCTOR MYSTERIO (2016)

Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio
Image result for the return of doctor mysterioSeason: X15 Story: 1 (107) | 1 x 60m | Production Code: 10.1
Broadcast: 25 December 2016
Rating: ∗∗∗

Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Ed Bazalgette
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat, Brian Minchin
Producer: Peter Bennett

Script Editor: Nick Lambon; Director of Photography: Ashley Rowe; Music: Murray Gold; Production Designer: Michael Pickwoad; Editor: Adam Green; Costumes: Hayle Nebauer; Visual Effects: MILK; Special Effects: Real SFX; Prosthetics: Millennium FX

Cast: Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Matt Lucas (Nardole), Justin Chatwin (Grant), Charity Wakefield (Lucy), Tomiwa Edun (Mr Brock), Aleksandar Jovanovic (Doctor Sim), Logan Huffman (Young Grant), Daniel Lorente (Teen Grant), Sandra Tees (Reporter), Tanroh Ishida (Operator), Vaughn Johseph (U.N.I.T. Soldier).

Synopsis: The Doctor spends Christmas in New York, but this time he is not the only hero in town. A deadly alien menace is poised to attack the city, and the Time Lord will need all the help he can get to stop it. Fortunately, Manhattan has its own protector in the form of a mysterious masked superhero.

Comment: Moffat riffs on the current saturation of comic book heroes in our multiplexes with middling results. The positives are Capaldi’s increasing comfort in the title role – his charisma and energy light up the screen – and the surprisingly effective Lucas as his companion.  The alien invasion plot, however, is a little weak as is Chatwin as Grant/The Ghost. Some nice in-jokes for comic book fans help make this an entertaining, if slight episode.

Film Review – STAR TREK BEYOND (2016)

Image result for star trek beyond blu-rayStar Trek Beyond (2016; USA; Colour; 122m) ∗∗∗  d. Justin Lin; w. Simon Pegg, Doug Jung, Roberto Orci, John D. Payne, Patrick McKay; ph. Stephen F. Windon; m. Michael Giacchino.  Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Idris Elba, Sofia Boutella, Joseph Gatt, Deep Roy, Lydia Wilson, Joe Taslim, Adam DiMarco, Ashley Edner, Christian Sloan, Jodi Haynes. When the Enterprise is nearly destroyed and strands Kirk (Pine) and his crew on a remote planet with no means of communication. Kirk must then work with the elements to reunite his crew and get back to Earth. Big, action-packed blockbuster helped by the great chemistry between the cast, but hampered by a weak, often contrived, story and the anaesthetizing effect of its grandstand set-pieces. Also shot in 3-D. [12]

Film Review – THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972)

Poseidon Adventure, The (1972; USA; DeLuxe; 117m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Ronald Neame, Irwin Allen; w. Stirling Silliphant, Wendell Mayes; ph. Harold E. Stine; m. John Williams.  Cast: Gene Hackman, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowall, Shelley Winters, Leslie Nielsen, Arthur O’Connell, Ernest Borgnine, Carol Lynley, Stella Stevens, Jack Albertson, Pamela Sue Martin, Eric Shea, Fred Sadoff, Sheila Allen, Jan Arvan. A group of passengers struggle to survive and escape, when their ocean liner completely capsizes at sea. Following 1970s AIRPORT, this was the movie that really began the disaster cycle of the 1970s and made Irwin Allen the king of the blockbuster. It’s all-star ensemble cast ensures investment in the characters as well as the spectacle. Excellent production design and tight direction make this the standard for the genre. Won an Oscar for Best Original Song (Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn for the song “The Morning After”). Based on the novel by Paul Gallico. Followed by BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1979) and remade for TV in 2005 and again for theatrical release as POSEIDON in 2006. [PG]

Film Review – EVEREST (2015)

Everest (2015; USA/UK/Iceland; Colour; 121m) ∗∗∗½  d. Baltasar Kormákur; w. Lem Dobbs, Justin Isbell, William Nicholson; ph. Salvatore Totino; m. Dario Marianelli.  Cast: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Elizabeth Debicki, Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Robin Wright, Emily Watson, John Hawkes, Clive Standen, Michael Kelly, Martin Henderson, Vanessa Kirby, Thomas Goodman-Hill, Mia Goth. A group of expeditionaries attempt to climb Mount Everest. Based on a true story this is a Hollywood-ised treatment that nevertheless is an engaging experience due to some breath-taking photography and strong performances. The set-pieces sometimes lack the thrills one would expect, but this is a more a tale of endurance and will. Clarke and Brolin are excellent, whilst Gyllenhaal is also memorable in a hippy-style turn. Also shot in 3-D. [12]

Film Review – THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Man from U.N.C.L.E., The (2015; USA/UK; Colour; 116m) ∗∗½  d. Guy Ritchie; w. Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Jeff Kleeman, David C. Wilson; ph. John Mathieson; m. Daniel Pemberton.  Cast: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris, Christopher Sciueref, Susan Gillias, Luca Calvani, Nicon Caraman. In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons. Shallow and lightweight, but increasingly entertaining rework. Cavill is too smug and Hammer too psychotic to capture the charm of the original characters. Ritchie, however, elicits a certain kitsch feel from the derivative script. Based on the TV series that ran from 1964-8. [12]

Film Review – WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL (1971)

When Eight Bells Toll (1971; UK; Eastmancolor; 94m) ∗∗∗  d. Etienne Perier; w. Alistair MacLean; ph. Arthur Ibbetson; m. Angela Morley (as Walter Stott).  Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Nathalie Delon, Robert Morley, Jack Hawkins, Corin Redgrave, Derek Bond, Ferdy Mayne, Maurice Roëves, Leon Collins, Wendy Allnutt, Peter Arne, Oliver MacGreevy, Jon Croft. A British agent is on a mission to determine the whereabouts of a ship that disappeared near the coast of Scotland.  Enjoyable and lively, if slight, spy adventure is helped by witty dialogue and performances – notably Hopkins and Morley – as well as great Scottish locations. Hawkins’ voice is dubbed by Charles Gray. MacLean scripted from his own novel. [15]

Film Review – WHERE EAGLES DARE (1968)

Where Eagles Dare (1968; UK/USA; Metrocolor; 158m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Brian G. Hutton; w. Alistair MacLean; ph. Arthur Ibbetson; m. Ron Goodwin.  Cast: Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Robert Beatty, Mary Ure, Patrick Wymark, Michael Hordern, Donald Houston, Peter Barkworth, Ferdy Mayne, Anton Diffring, William Squire, Brook Williams, Neil McCarthy, Vincent Ball, Derren Nesbitt. Allied agents stage a daring raid on a castle where the Nazis are holding an American General prisoner, but that’s not all that’s really going on. Spectacular action mixes with intrigue in this enormously entertaining adventure. Burton makes an unlikely hero and Eastwood gives stoic support. Beautifully photographed in the Austrian Alps. MacLean wrote the script and novel simultaneously over a period of six weeks. [PG]

Film Review – ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939)

Only Angels Have Wings (1939; USA; B&W; 121m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Howard Hawks; w. Jules Furthman; ph. Joseph Walker; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell, Allyn Joslyn, Sig Ruman, Victor Kilian, John Carroll, Donald Barry, Noah Beery Jr., Maciste, Milisa Sierra, Lucio Villegas, Pat Flaherty, Pedro Regas, Pat West. At a remote South American trading port, the manager of an air freight company is forced to risk his pilots’ lives in order to win an important contract. Classic Hawks film uses themes of comradeship and bravery spiced with a love interest. A character piece with an episodic plot, it coasts on the strong performances of its impressive cast. Grant plays the boss, who won’t let his feelings get in the way of seeing the job through and Arthur is the show girl who turns the heads of his pilot crew. Hayworth is also memorable as Grant’s former girl who has taken up with Barthelmess – a pilot with a dark secret. Hawks would later finesse the formula in RIO BRAVO. [U]

Film Review – NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983)

Never Say Never Again (1983; UK/USA/West Germany; Technicolor; 134m) ∗∗∗  d. Irvin Kershner; w. Lorenzo Semple Jr.; ph. Douglas Slocombe; m. Michel Legrand.  Cast: Sean Connery, Barbara Carrera, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max von Sydow, Kim Basinger, Edward Fox, Bernie Casey, Alec McCowen, Michael Medwin, Ronald Pickup, Pamela Salem, Rowan Atkinson, Valerie Leon, Milos Kirek, Anthony Sharp. A SPECTRE agent has stolen two American nuclear warheads, and James Bond must find their targets before they are detonated. Whilst it is good to see Connery return as 007, this production lacks the style and production values of the official series. There are moments of effective humour, but the action sequences are only adequately handled. Carrera and Brandauer are excellent as the SPECTRE agents, but forget Fox as M and Atkinson in an unfunny cameo. Remake of THUNDERBALL (1965). [PG]