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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

"Turn yourself into a bonfire and we'll break out the marshmallows and the weenies"

I used my eyes to watch some films!


Dirty Harry Callahan's last outing is definitely his worst. Clint Eastwood gives good grizzled as the hard bastard cop, but he's turned into a parody of his former self. Whereas before he'd greet "correct procedure" with a cuss and a punch, now he just rolls his eyes. Everything in this film happens far too easily for him, as well.

Peter Swan is a director of cheap horror films and in a weakly-disguised spin on 'violent films = violent people' theme, he's part of a 'dead pool' - people make lists of celebrities, and win when all the celebs on their list kick the bucket. Swan says it's a sick bit of fun, but when the people on his list start dying very quickly, and suspiciously, he's the number one suspect.

Eastwood has some ace lines, but the tone see-saws between gratuitious violence (he literally shoots every baddie he meets) and absurd set-pieces (Dirty Harry and his partner are involved in a lengthy car chase incorporating a remote-controlled toy car). Ultimately, the message is fudged by the film failing to be fully self-referential, yet too goofy to be taken as a serious treaty.

It does have a young JAMES CARREY as a rock star actor, though. So that's nice.


Harry Fabian is an American hustler trying to make it in London's sleazy underworld, in a 1950 noir tale of one man's dreams of fame becoming undone by his misplaced ambition.

Harry is "an artist without an art", and uses his brains and ambition to pull tricks on tourists in London, as well as his own employers. Usually, he gets away with his schemes (even if it's by the skin of his teeth) but his latest plan (to start a wrestling promotions company) looks like it might be the end of him, even though it also looks like it might also finally be the legitimate business he wants/needs.

The film is excellent, with some fantastic dialogue ("rip this city apart if you have to") and well-drawn characters. Harry has a wide-eyed charm, underpinned by a sweaty desperation that powers him from one convoulted plan to another. EVERYBODY is trying to pull one over on someone else in Harry's world, and he's usually the one to get away with it.

Until a wrestler in his employ dies, causing a business rival to put a price on Harry's head.

NIGHT AND THE CITY features a few stand-out moments, chief among these is a long, uncomfortable wrestling match that, as soon as it starts, you just know isn't going to end well.

A truly stunning (yes, stunning!) unknown(?) classic. YES IT IS.


Dennis Quaid ends up stranded on an inhospitable planet with an enemy fighter; a reptilian creature known as a Drax. They overcome their differences, learn to work together, and gain a mutual understanding of each other's culture. This film has been copied and paid homage to by a million things since it came out in 1985 (most recently in an episode of Ben 10: Alien Force) and, though it feels a bit rushed and the overall timeline's a bit wonky (had Quaid's character really only been stranded for 3 years???) it's an emotional adult sci-fi film. Highlights include the monster puppets and bog-eyed villain whose name I can't remember.


Now, if ever there was a Ronseal film (Does Exactly What It Says On The Tin) this SHOULD be it. Unfortunately, it isn't. It really isn't.

I knew going into this film it'd be shit. The company behind it (The Asylum) churn out mockbusters and cheapo b-movies for the Sci-Fi Channel (SyFy in the US of A) so there was no way on Earth the film could be anything other than a 'so bad it's good' type of film.

That was the hope anyway.

It's literally impossible to describe just how godawful MSVGO is. This film is such an absolute void of talent it's kind of like being drawn into a black hole. You simply cannot escape. You can't look away. And most importantly, you will never forget the experience.

A female scientist (played by former pop star Debbie Gibson) and her male sidekick are tracking a pod of whales. I don't know why. The whales go mental and ram into a glacier, releasing the titular creatures. Debbie Gibson then teams up with her Oirish university professor and a Japanese scientist to stop the monsters. Oh, and a government agent who looks like a slim Steven Seagal and talks like he's trying really hard to be tough ends up working against them, and then with them. I think. Something like that anyway.

And that's it. The acting's terrible, though at times passable. There are one or two funny lines (but as you'd expect, they're not ones that're supposed to be funny). Characters disappear for no reason, whilst others act in such an obvious manner they should be called 'Plot Device'. all this sounds like it would be a weirdly enjoyable crappy film. But what really sinks this (apart from the gaps in logic, and completely bonkers - in a bad way - plotting) is the direction itself.

95% of this film takes place on a boat, or a ship, or a submarine. Fair enough, you say, they are hunting ocean creatures. Except, it's practically impossible to tell the locations apart because they ALL comprise of one room decorated wth grey machinery, lit by either red, green or pink lighting. Clearly, the Navy have got a bit more overtly camp since I last watched The Hunt For Red October.

When the boat/ship/submarine gets attacked, everybody does a Star Trek and wobbles around as the camera shakes. Well, not everybody. One scene has the 'pilot' driving the whateveritis with a look of wide-eyed disgust, as RIGHT NEXT TO HIM everybody's acting like they're under attack. Cut back to the pilot and not only is the camera completely static but so is the actor. Cut back to the people next to him GOING CRAZY WITH FEAR!

But by far the very worst aspect of this film is the handling of the monsters themselves. I didn't expect them to get a lot of screen time, but they did. Oh good, you say, so that's one thing in its favour.


The other 5% of the film comprises of the following shots:

Shark swims towards camera on right side of screen.
Shark swims towards camera on left side of screen (a clear mirror of the above shot).
Shark attacks octopus and bites a tentacle off.
Octopus 'blinks' at the camera.
Octopus swims away from/towards the camera.
Octopus starts to wrap tentacles around an oil rig.
Octopus attacks the Golden Gate bridge.
Shark leaps out the sea and bites an aeroplane in half.
And a few other "battle" shots.

At least two of those shots are well worth watching, because they're competely and utterly mental. But this film reuses and repeats shots so often I started to believe I was caught in a time loop. MSVGO actually has the power to send you a little bit insane, like HP Lovecraft possessed Ed Wood's corpse then that spirit infected the director of this film.

Here's the trailer, which features most of the "best bits" and is actually worth watching: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa7ck5mcd1o

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