Sunday, January 21, 2018

Movie review - "The Perfect Weapon" (2016) ** (warning: spoilers)

A different sort of Steven Seagal movie - I guess it's not really a Seagal film as his role is relatively small (he's the villain), but he is in it - in that it's a sci fi piece set in the near future. It's a totalitarian state, kind of like The Running Man, run by the Director (Seagal).

The actual hero is some bald actor called Johnny Messner, an assassin who works for the government but then kind of turns a bit good

Late 80s/early 90s heartthrob Richard Tyson is on hand to play a henchman. Vernon Wells has, disappointingly, one scene only as a thug who is going to torture Messner. Sasha Jackson isn't bad as Messner's dead ex love.

I enjoyed the ambition of this film, mild as it was and there were some decent twists involving Jackson - she's actually alive, then she's been Vertigo-ing Messner, but like in Vertigo she's fallen in love with them, but he shoots her.   Also Seagal dies at the end, giving the movie some uniqueness (he doesn't often die in his films)... only he doesn't really die because he's a twin only the twin is still alive but he gets killed by the surviving twin... or something... I got really confused by this bit.

There's a creepy scene where Seagal talks to a Japanese girl lying in his bed about how her body relied on interconnected nerves. But I liked how his character was a super smart, and he still has more star power than Messner. Messner is a completely adequate actor but he doesn't have Seagal's X factor. It really would've been a better movie had they swapped roles.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Movie review - "Daredevil" (2002) **

A film that has some good things but it ultimately just doesn't work. I didn't mind the story... or most of the story... but it all felt a bit wonky. I can understand why they cast Ben Affleck in the lead but he's not very good - I think he'd do better at it now but then he was too smarmy.  Michael Clarke Duncan is a bit too cartoonish as the baddy. I thought Colin Farrell was an excellent villain and Jennifer Garner fine as Elektra.

But too much of this was off. Why have Affleck stalk Garner?It was unpleasant. Why not get Elektra to do anything cool? She just seemed to have these skills. Why not show a relationship between Elektra and her dad? Why have that annoying journalist character? He doesn't do anything of use? Why not give some plot function to Jon Favreau? Why doesn't Daredevil use his blindness more? Most of the time it seems that he can see - lack of eyesight doesn't seem to hamper him in anyway.

The film felt tampered with and fiddled with. It wasn't particularly well directed. It's not hideous just really, really underwhelming.

Movie review - "Paddington 2" (2017) **1/2

Bright, cheerful movie with some first rate effects work. Many of the jokes are lame and this middle class England of fantasy pictures - Harry Potter etc - is starting to get to me. But Hugh Grant is great value as the villain. Actors like Brendan Gleeson enliven things too.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Movie review - "Absolution" (2015) *

Seagal is a man who's done a lotta bad things so he takes a job to try and redeem himself - stopping a human trafficking racket run by Vinnie Jones. Helping him out is Byron Mann, a Chinese American actor whose work I'm not that familiar with - he was perfectly fine. Better than Seagal and Jones both of whom seem to be very tired.

Seagal playing tormented and seeking redemption isn't a bad idea in theory but his acting style is normally laid back and I think he's done that so long that finding something more wasn't in him. Wearing dark glasses most of the time doesn't help.

You can watch the fight scenes and try to figure out if Seagal is doing them or his body double and the hair is painted on. It's unpleasant -people get tortured and killed, Mann makes jokes about going to massage parlors. The whole vibe of the film is depressing.

It's not a very good film. Visually unappealing, I had trouble telling the support actors apart. He helps out stripper/hooker Adina Stetcu, who at least gives the film some warmth. There's an amazingly awkward end scene were she lap dances for him and looks so not into it - just like in a previous Seagal film.

This was hard going.

Dorothy Malone RIP - And a Top Ten

1) The Big Sleep (1946) - Malone is only in this for two scenes but does them with Humphrey Bogart and is sensational (aspiring actresses could do worse than to study these scenes of how to make a big impact in a short space of time).

2)The Fast and the Furious (1955) - not the Vin Diesel classic but a 1955 car chase flick which was the first feature Roger Corman ever produced - Malone is v likekable (Malone also appeared in Corman's directorial debut, Five Guns West).

3) Battle Cry (1955) - a melodrama about WW2 based on a best seller which New Zealand audiences will especially find interesting (part of the film is set there) - Malone has a surprisingly sexually frank fling with a young soldier played by Tab Hunter.

4) Sincerely Yours (1955) - Liberace's attempt at big screen stardom with Malone as his love interest (in the space of three years Malone steamed up the screen opposite Liberace, Tab Hunter and Rock Hudson...) - a fairly terrible movie but fascinating to see Liberace act in a melodrama (he took the blame for this film's failure but the script was as much at fault).

5) Artists and Models (1955) - for me the best Martin and Lewis film a really terrific fun comedy with Malone well matched with Martin and Shirley MacLaine perfect for Lewis.

6) Written on the Wind (1956) - Malone won the Oscar for this but I rewatched it recently and felt her performance did not hold up that well - check out her stroking the oil rig at the end (the same team then made The Tarnished Angels)

7) Too Much Too Soon (1958) - Malone mostly played "the girl" in films but her Oscar saw her get a real chance here, as Diana Barrymore, in what I feel is a pretty decent film - stolen by Errol Flynn as John Barrymore.

8) The Last Voyage (1960) - Malone's role isn't much (something you could say about a lot of her career) but they actually sunk a real ship for this film which is cool.

9) Fate is the Hunter (1964) - a Rod Taylor film where Malone has a one scene unbilled cameo - for years I thought it was a mirage but then later on confirmed it that yes it was her - this is a pretty good movie.

10) Beach Party (1963) - most film fans remember Frankie and Annette and forget or don't realise Robert Cummings and Dorothy Malone had quite big parts in this film, the first in the series.

Oh and she's in Basic Instinct (1992) too

Movie review - "Code of Honor" (2016) * (warning: spoilers)

Steven Seagal's physical disintegration over the past twenty years is well known. Less familiar is that of Craig Sheffer - the one time hunk of Some King of Wonderful is looking wide eyed and seedy as a special agent investigating vigilante Seagal, who is knocking off various criminals.

There's a good movie inside here somewhere - some interesting thoughts on vigilantism, revenge, redemption... and I really liked the twist that Sheffer is more of a vigilante than Seagal - but its buried underneath dull handling, the unappealing stars. It's also confusing and a bit dim.

The action isn't particularly well staged, the production values aren't great.

The cast also includes James Russo and Louis Mandylor, who you might recognise from things. The best performance is Helena Mattsson, who is good value as a stripper - yeah, I know, she's a stripper, but the actor makes the most of it.

Movie review - "National Treasure" (2004) **1/2

A surprise hit for the Disney organisation - a G rated adventure movie with Nicholas Cage giving, as always, the piece a bit of edge. He's a treasure hunter who is trying to find a buried treasure with links to the Declaration of Independence. There's some family history here - as represented by dad Jon Voight and grandad Chris Plummer.

Justin Bartha is flat comic relief and Diane Kruger not that fun either as the female love interest. Sean Bean is fine as the baddy.

There's some overproduced action numbers, a strong story and a sense of fun.