Movie Reviews (1551-1600)
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Life seldom turns out exactly as expected. We follow two promising basketball players in their pursuit for superstar stardom and chance to play for NBA. It is soon apparent that money is essential to succeed through school who treat their sport students as cattle in their pursuit of a possible regional title. Injuries and hardships in The Family also threatens to kill their careers before it even starts. It is gripping real life stuff that kept my interest even if I have never seen a full basketball match. Would have been interesting to see a sequel meeting the characters after their hoop dreams are finished.
One of Jess Franco's more memorable movies and the script even seem to have a coherent thought for a change. Lovely Soledad Miranda steals every scene and is one of film history's most seductive women and it is a shock that it was Franco who got his hands on her. It is a beautiful shot movie too and the editing is not all over the place like most of the director's films. Probably one of the better introduction films to this director's long and productive work. Horst Tappert has a supporting role as an inept inspector few years before his decade-long stint as Derrick. While the plot is coherent it follows a predictable pattern with Franco's typical melodramatic dialogue as only he can write it.
The perfect erotic movie if one loves to see Lina Romay in different states of undressed and doing explicit sex: masturbation and giving a blowjob to the male actor, but beware the film lacks any form of titillation nor is it very sexy. It is boring and lacks inspiration.
The Ups: It IS surreal. It is all about the mood and two nude female forms and has some of the worst acting found in a Franco movie. Everything in the film is driven by long slow-motion sequences that are manipulated by different kind of morphing and split screen manipulations.
Slasher exploitation horror short of a type that Norway seldom do. Blood and mayhem is ensured but unfortunately it is all bottom of the barrel stuff: terrible acting, script only an alcohol-filled teenager could dream up with no logic and clumsy editing and direction.
Pulp old-fashioned Universal produced monster movie that can be fun on a Sunday morning when there is rain outside and nothing to do. Typical for the genre with an uninspired direction from Jack Arnold who has done better films before. Script doesn't ignite and has logical problems. Terrible monster make-up that seems applied on someone for Halloween. Even the director didn't like it.
"Mad Max" done spaghetti western style. Charismatic Fred Williamson looks cool even when he runs around in cosmic disco clothes - he also do the best action and gets the best woman in bed. Entertaining violent action too as people gets treated to some of the most gruesome deaths like burned alive by flamethrowers, impalement and getting shot by arrows that have bombs sticked to them so that they get splattered in many small human bits. It is a hilarious entertaining movie if one expect little from it as it is a low budget movie clearly filmed in a local sand-mine and the futuristic cars are clearly rebuilt golf cars. A rape sequence performed by a homosexual Templar knight is so absurd that it almost feels more fitting in a parody movie saying lines like: "We are the Templars. The warriors of vengeance. We are the Templars. The high priests of death. We have been chosen to make others pay for the crime of being alive. We guarantee that all humanity, accomplices and heirs of the nuclear holocaust, will be wiped out once and for all. That the seed of Man will be canceled forever from the face of the earth!" which means that they should all start by taking their own lives shouldn't they?
Authentic civil war drama with battles as close to the real stuff as possible. Strong acting but I was never entertained by it. It is too dry as a drama and while characters are important to the story they all look and talk the same which make it hard to care for them if one hasn't gone deep into the historic material before viewing the film. For us "normal people" all look like bearded nerds talking strategy games. Too long too.
After seeing this prequel and it's original "Gettysburg" I can at least say that I am a patient man. Another epic with a lot of historical correctness and military strategy excellent for historians and people who have gone deep into the material. Robert Duvall steal every scene as General Lee and it is no wonder to learn he was the original first choice for "Gettysburg" had he been available. It is also nice to see that for once the South army gets a stronger voice after tons of political correct movies where it is "right" to take the side of Lincoln and his army.
Harrison Ford decides for once to really give a powerhouse performance in the "wrong man" role. Tommy Lee Jones' breakout role as the cop who tries to hunt him down is worth seeing. It is also an excellent adaptation of the long-running series that is retooled like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. One of the most excellent bus / train crashes in film history is especially memorable, but the villains are obvious when looking at the cast list.
A follow-up to "The Fugitive" reprising much of the story and it even has a plane crash that try to top the train mayhem from the first one. Stuart Baird can edit a film, but not direct one as he rehashes everything from the original only worse. Talented Irene Jacob is wasted in a thankless supporting role and the memory of seeing Tommy Lee Jones in a yellow chicken suit is hard to get wiped from my memory bank.
Never before has a film title been this fitting as this movie really is bad company for an evening. Mildly amusing to see elderly Hopkins as an action-hero trying to take over where Sean Connery left his career, but this film is another of those "two dudes that don't mix"-films. Script and action take no chances and go through the usual stunts and predictable boring story. Joel Schumacher has never been comfortable with action scenes and it shows especially here as every scene feels forced and are hard to sit through. Peter Stormare's talents are again wasted in a stereotypical role as a Russian gangster.
Taking the Dracula myth out of it's time period and till our own decade is an interesting thing if treated with respect, but the problem is that Dracula is an overused character that can not surprise anyone anymore. Gerard Butler lacks the energy and sex appeal to play Dracula - it seems for the most part as this is another actor altogether than the one who later would play Phantom of the Opera or be super-fit in "300". No chemistry between Dracula and his love object, ancestor of arch-enemy Van Helsing played by Christopher Plummer who has an excellent cameo in a role that could have been perfect for another Christopher (Lee). Underused sexy vampire babes with huge cleavages is the best thing with the movie
The sweet and slapstick world of Shaun the Sheep is upgraded to a full feature movie and it doesn't really feel boring at all as the time flies away with the company. It also helps enormously that the movie is without dialogue and it resorts to glances and atmosphere to get it's plot across, but why the need of a Big Bad? It is eventually the only big cliche in the movie as this character is another of those "I do everything in order to capture stray animals" types. It all ends in a literal edge-of-your seat cliffhanger at the end.
The evil cousin of "Run Lola Run" and "D.O.A." as Jason Statham is perfectly cast as a man who's heart will give up if he doesn't keep his pulse at a fast rate in this ridiculous role. As fast-paced action this movie never lets go of it's grip and if you are looking for an action comedy that is not rude then you have come to the wrong place. It is also strange that for all its violent imagery and craziness it is a public sex scene with Amy Smart that actually stands out and is the most memorable moment in the film.
A few neat story twists about an assassin trapped between two crime bosses. The film is filled with likable heroes and villains who do stellar acting even Josh Hartnett is acceptable here. Ending explain every thread for those dumb enough to not understand that the story has already been laid out to them and the film cop out a surprise death sequence. Tarantino-esque attempts at having pop-culture dialogue about James Bond and "North by Northwest" falls flat because it is too mainstream and takes no risks with any of its references.
Still one of the most memorable transformations of Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde on screen where only acting is used to show the evil side of the character in John Barrymore's tour-de-force. An excellent surreal moment when a spider with Mr. Hyde's head crawls on Dr. Jekyll's body. Nita Naldi steal the spotlight from the boring leading actress in a supporting role as pleasure girl.
Horror comedy doesn't take itself serious and is a kind of a silly combination of "Poltergeist" and "The Shining". Some fun rubber monsters, fun dialogue and inventive ideas, but William Katt is a weak leading actor. With a better polish on the writing and directing this movie would have been a gem as the film would have been even better if all the madness was left in the leading character's mind and he was truly deranged.
Playboy Playmate Devin Devasquez almost getting sacrificed on an altar is the only good thing with this terribly unfunny sequel that look like a family movie at the end with a stupid rubber pet dog, zombie grandfather and an unfunny John Ratzenberger as a Ghostbuster.
A who-dunnit based upon a novel written by Sweden's own lady of crime who did mysteries like Agatha Christie but with a big focus on the psychological aspect of the stories and not who actually did it. This film is the best of the filmed stories (the rest premiered on TV) as it takes place on an island with an interesting cast of suspects. It has a timeless aspect over itself since it takes place during the 1950s. But the production values are not epic enough in it's cinematography, style or artistic vision to deserve a visit on the big screen.
Drama with a strong performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal. Danny Trejo is also for once not typecast as a big, mean and dangerous criminal and do a shocking sympathetic character. Realistic situations about how life and one's own behavior and mindset is hard to change into something different than they are. There is also a documentary feel over the production that helps in giving it some realism. One want to see if the heroine go back to her's heroin or she get her daughter back. Sadly, the story seem only to show a few days in an ex-heroin addict and prostitute's life. There is no answers to how her life will end and there is no true resolution to the problems she have as there seem even more possible that she will resort to heroin again at the end since her father seem to be a big part of her life - a man that seem not only hungry with sexually abusing her but have free access to her own daughter too as she lives with a uncle who seem to know what happened to his own sister but don't dare do anything with the problems that she has faced.
Stellan Skarsgård goes full circle repeating his role as a shrink for a nymphomaniac like he did for "Anita" for over 40 years ago. It is a drama with graphic sex and artistic scenes going hand in hand. Stacy Martin do an extremely daring debut as a young Charlotte Gainsbourgh doing stuff other attractive girls never would have touched. Christian Slater also redeems himself in a vulnerable performance as Joe's father. The film is also playful at times, but the director's cut goes overboard with too much graphic sex, blood and gore and ruins what is a more artistic production in it's theatrical form.
Continues the story of a woman who feels her vagina is more important than her family and having a normal life so it is no wonder that her life turns out depressing, lonely and hopeless at the end. There is some diabolical and disturbing sex but also something pretty hilarious ones like when she tries a human sandwich with two colored brothers who only end up quarreling at each other. This is not pleasant viewing but it is strangely engaging and fascinating especially the philosophical moments between the psychologist and his "patient", but the final twist feels like a final joke taken too far and is the film's most predictable scene. Self-inflicted abortion sequence in director's cut is also not something one want to enjoy anytime soon again and makes this film practically impossible to watch even if this is in the director's "preferred" version.
Charming Czech version of the Cinderella story that was the first production to give the character a stronger personality than before with hunting skills, manipulative flirting and disguising skills and was somewhat remade as Drew Barrymore's "Ever After" 25 years later. Only problem I have with it is that it has been a traditional Christmas screening on national TV ever seen I was a kid when we should have shown a different Eastern European fairy tale instead.
Topol is fantastic as a traditional Jewish father as is the cast which feel very authentic. A musical that manage to stay positive even in the most dreaded and darkest hour of humanity. It is a rich movie in folk lore, religious rituals and traditional dances but it doesn't feel at anytime as anything else than a tribute to the people it portray. The last good musical for almost thirty years.
From the moment this movie starts it is easy to see how it influenced the entire Italian Spaghetti Western genre and several modern action movies as this is a Samurai movie mixed with the gangster genre. Some strange over-the-top comical element that is in so many Asian movies is a acquired taste to get used to.
Documentary focus on the strange and inconsistent Hollywood rating system that stop nudity before violence and the people that decide what you can and cannot see in theaters. The sad part is that nowadays the problem is not the MPAA anymore but Hollywood itself as money hungry producers do everything to censor their own films so that they can get a family friendly PG-13 rating instead of an R- rating so that they can sell even more tickets instead of letting the final product talk for itself forgetting that many adult people also skip out on a PG-13 rating as well.
Period piece about medicine evolution and primitive medical surgery with a small element of suspense in it. Karloff is hugely effective and sympathetic as a driven man who wants to help his patients into having painless amputations and surgeries but ends up becoming a drug addict himself during his experiments. Christopher Lee has a supporting role as an extortioner and killer.
Solid westerner with a "stolen Emino Morricone" score. Easily digestible and with a female sidekick who has the stunning name of "Connie Breastful". Hampered down by a terrible title song and stage numbers. Loses steam after a while too and the hero is not the most interesting I have seen on screen.
Work inspired on the works of Marquis de Sade. It is a lavish better than usual photographed erotic movie that wants to be more art than a smut movie as Swedish and Danish girls have no problem doing simulated and non-simulated sex on screen. Marie Forså also have a believable realistic next-door vibe to her that makes her hugely appealing on screen and it is strange she didn't get better known internationally than as a sexploitation star. This movie's stupid dialogue and overall bad acting probably didn't help.
Evil character looks looking like a demonic Iggy Pop decide that an animated Debbie Harry and her angelic voice could help summon Hell on Earth. Soundtrack made especially for the movie holds some interest, but the animation is cruel and too childish at times with embarrasing up-skirts scenes that feels mostly disturbing and disgusting. Story and characters also feels half-finished and never hits all buttons. Disappointing, but interesting project.
We get to see Perry Mason and Jessica Fletcher in the same movie and Raymond Burr probably got his long-running lawyer gig by doing this role. It is an underrated little film noir that manage to hold interest through it's fast-paced running time, but the film has a low budget and could easily have passed as a high class TV movie of the week production during the late 1950s.
Sets up my mood at once with a excellent directed speech by Fred Williamson who is in full exploitation mood here as the leader of a group of vigilantes. Engaging theme score by Jay Chataway makes the movie a lot better and even the most boring walking scene engaging. Joe Spinell's cameo as a believable sleazy attorney steals the show. The film also have one of the most brutal child killings on screen. Woody Strode punch the life out of a man four times bigger than himself. Revenge and some subplots feel unfinished too as there is an entire gang left to take over after the main killers are gone.
A good-looking melodramatic movie about sin in paradise makes you believe this could be an old "Blue Lagoon" type movie. A very short running time makes it not that hard to watch, but the characters are all one-dimensional and lacks any drive to them and there is no chemistry between romantic leads as the tension and action sequences feels forced. Stupid Chinese stereotypical portrayal as well. I guess this has to be one of James Whale's worst movies - a man usually more up to game than this sub-standard film. It actually turns more interesting when the characters leave "paradise" and numerous questions about what will happen to them are raised.
Noteworthy sequel as it possibly kick-started the entire lesbian vampire genre as there is clearly lust in this female vampire's eyes when she attacks her female victim. Sadly, it also lacks the class and atmosphere of the original. Should also have been at least a flashback or some involvement where Bela Lugosi's Dracula is involved. Van Helsing do at least return to this movie but since the timeline is changed several decades into modern times (1930s) he also has to be a member of the undead.
The teaming of Rathbone, Karloff and Lugosi making it the most star filled of the Universal Frankenstein movies. Lugosi even deliver one of his most nuanced and strongest portrayals. It is the unsung final entry in the Karloff trilogy and a better ending than it gets credit for. The biggest problem here is that the monster is now more brainless and more controlled by others. Ending is not as climatic and intense as the two former ones either which is probably why it is seen as an inferior film.
Atmospheric in style with the other movies and it has connection with the original trilogy even if it is a more fast-food entry. Bela Lugosi continues being hugely watchable and there is again strong help from the excellent supporting cast of "usual suspects". Sadly, there is a ludicrous idea at the end of putting Ygor's brain into the monster making me think about another stupid sci-fi fantasy moment in "Star Trek" with "Spock's Brain". Karloff is also sorely missed as the monster now played by Lon Chaney jr. miss everything that made Karloff great in his role. Even if there is moments for fans this is the weakest film in the whole bunch of Universal Frankenstein films I have seen and while it is great to see Lugosi again there is also no real reason given why he magically reappears after his apparent death.
Excellent sequel to both "Frankenstein" and "Wolf Man" with a interesting story about Talbot trying to find a cure for his full moon transformations. Lon Chaney jr. is superb as the tragic Wolf Man and it is really "his" movie. It is hugely charming stuff too and probably the best Universal sequels during the 1940s. But sadly the meeting between the two monsters is too brief lacking the fantastic climatic and memorable film moment that it should have been. Lugosi is marginally better than Lon Chaney jr. was as the monster but he is still terrible, stiff and laughable compared to Karloff's fantastic portrait. Still great fan service with this one.
The Gil Man is back and he is still sympathetic and more interesting than the humans. Good cinematography helps too, but Clint Eastwood is misplaced in his debut role as a scientist. It is probably his most embarrassing film moment.
The Ups: It's ending that is perfect and ends this trilogy as an opera. Some well shot and lit scenes compensate some for the terrible acting and one of the worse scripts as the potential is much better than what we get. For once a reboot/re-imagination of this classic Universal monster pic would be welcome as there is a huge potential with doing it right.
Science fiction action that manage to be both involving character drama, gripping sci fi and have action at the same time without diminishing it's original premise (take note "Star Trek"!!!). I actually got tear-eyed during this film mostly because the action in this film mirror the fear and hate that we see in our society today between different cultures and skin-tones which gave me a huge lump in the throat. The impressive CGI apes act a lot better than the humans though especially since the conflict between humans and apes is played out in a predictable way. Gary Oldman is somewhat underused in a glorified cameo.
It is a low-key drama but it is also enormously charming and never feels artificial or untrue to what it wants to tell. I love it and it has excellent acting and memorable surreal imagery which I love.
Based upon one of the most mysterious famous deaths in Hollywood history - the death of "Superman". I like Ben Affleck in the role of an old superhero actor who wants to be taken serious again and I thought he did one of his better roles here. Diane Lane and Robin Tunney are also engaging interesting women in the actor's life. I also liked that the movie decide to show us different theories surrounding the mystery and that everyone of them seem plausible as no definitive answers nor happy ending is given. Just like in real life. Jeffrey deMunn is fantastic as Reeves' agent in a small supporting role stealing scenes he is in. A even stronger editing and deeper understanding of the story would have made this movie an even more gripping affair I guess but for us who know. It is hard not to be interested.
Marvel returns to tell what happens when heroes also kills civilians under the heat of battle in another very satisfying political superhero thriller. Excellent effects with a lot of superheroes fighting superheroes manage to stay fresh and the new heroes (Spider Man, Black Panther) leave lasting impact, but the film could have benefited from a few extra scenes so that we would know a little more about why characters choose the side they do. Should probably also have been titled "Avengers: Civil War" or plain "Marvel's Civil War" as the film is filled with almost every important character from the Marvel Universe in this one.
This one has focus on a little known historic part of European / Lithuanian history and the last man that fought Christianity, but the movie feels very theatrical and old-fashioned as if they have tried to have a classical Shakespearean approach to it which would have been good had it been possible to translate this poetic language better to English as the version I saw was not particularly strong and ruined some of the experience. Characters also lacked true depth and it seemed to me that Herkus Mantas was not really that driven by his warfare but forced into it.
The Ups: Realistic drama that is funny everytime Jack Nicholson is around. Many tragi-comedies has repeated this formula to death since.
Court room drama filled with cast members that better directors strive to have unto their project. It is based upon a John Grisham novel, a man with strong connections to the real source material, making the plot believable enough as it tells about how big corporations use private investigators to control jury members to vote on their behalf. It is also refreshing to see that there is no real good or bad side as everyone has some "dirty hands". Gene Hackman retired with this movie and while it feels fitting that he did it also makes his final moments in the movie bitter-sweet.
The Ups: Good concept where we get to see what happens in one person's life when she misses the train and in another alternate life does not miss it. Douglas McFerran is the funniest force in the movie as Gerry's friend, Russell. Gwyneth Paltrow gets to play on all that she got here, but it is strange to see John Hannah in such a positive and happy role as everything I have seen him in so far is in either comic relief roles, tired detective roles or crazy psycho roles. The writer boyfriend is so pathetic and pig-headed that it feels unrealistic that he is not busted out at once (even though that is not the case with cheating boyfriends in real life either I guess). Ending seem to say that "You can't control your life as everything is decided by fate or by some higher force anyway and you have to die or almost die in order to discover the true meaning of life and love".
Classic Hitchcock story about a wrong (wo)man set-up as a killer, a race against time to find a solution and a villain in woman clothing. The first moments of this film is pure Hitchcock and show that the master was already starting to get his fingerprints on his thrillers as we witness the reaction of some neighbors to a off-screen murder. There is also a memorable climatic moment at the end when the true killer confronts his own inner voices at a circus. Unfortunately the story itself drags and is very theatrical and stiff in it's execution never finding it's feet before at the very end. The leading actor is also forgettable and lacks charisma.
One of the many military court room thrillers that were made during the turn of the last century and at the beginning of the new one. It is watchable on a boring day since it is competent made with enough danger and plot twists to make the running time flow. Morgan Freeman channels his demon in the bottle and is the main acting reason for watching this film. Final twist disappoint and there is no reason for putting the woman in jeopardy at the end except that some film producers demanded a generic film ending.
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