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 Posted:   Jun 30, 2024 - 12:35 PM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

Lupin III: The First: 3-5

Being a huge fan of director/writer Takashi Yamazaki's live action adaption of Space Battleship Yamato and Godzilla: Minus One I was very eager to check out his 3D animated film featuring Lupin the III.

Ive thought his previous films had great stories, interesting and relatable characters and exciting visuals. Unfortunately I found this film to be very generic and disappointing in nearly every way.

First off and this isn't necessarily a fault of the director, but I didn't think Monkey Punch's character designs translated well into 3D animation, especially the faces which look rather awkward and weird at times. I also didn't think the slapstick humor Lupin the III is known for worked in 3D animation either.

Fujiko wasn't as well endowed or sexy as she's usually represented in manga or anime. Kinda robbed that character of her "charms". (Did the Americans have anything to do with this film?) The new young protagonist had a rather lame story arc fitting only for the youngest of audiences which doesn't really jive with the spirit of a lupin story line.

While there were some nice backgrounds there was nothing outstanding about the character animation or visual effects. Action scenes (which the Japanese excel at) were unimpressive here as well.

The film had a jazzy score which was pretty nice in spots but the soundtrack over all was forgettable.
I didn't hate the film but I could've lived without it. I don't see myself ever revisiting this film again.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 4, 2024 - 9:11 AM   
 By:   henry   (Member)

GHOSTBUSTERS FROZEN EMPIRE 9-10

This was very enjoyable, I loved it.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 4, 2024 - 1:50 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

THE BIKERIDERS (2024) – 8/10

The decade from 1966 to 1975 was the heyday of the motorcycle gang film, with scores of them being produced. While Marlon Brando’s THE WILD ONE (1953) had set the template a dozen years earlier, the genre didn’t catch on until Roger Corman let loose THE WILD ANGELS in 1966. While motorcycle gangs have been a constant fixture of films ever since, in the past 40 years, they have probably become most associated with post-apocalyptic films.

Now comes THE BIKERIDERS, which takes us back to the beginnings of the genre. While it’s set in 1965, it has a look closer to THE WILD ONE than to THE WILD ANGELS, since it is set in the decaying industrial Midwest rather than sunny Southern California. The film is based on the photo-book of the same name by Danny Lyon. In that book, Lyon depicts the lives of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, a Midwest gang that he lived with and photographed from 1963 to 1967.

In the film, Kathy Bauer (Jody Comer) meets Benny Cross (Austin Butler), a hotheaded member of the fictional Chicago-based Vandals Motorcycle Club, and marries him just five weeks later. Photography student Danny Lyon (Mike Faist) travels with and interviews the Vandals. He learns that the founder, Johnny Davis (Tom Hardy), was inspired to create the club after watching THE WILD ONE. The film follows the interactions of the various members of the gang, shows Johnny occasionally being challenged for dominance of the gang, and describes how new chapters of the club begin to form across the Midwest.

Aside from committing traffic violations, we initially don’t see the gang engaging in any overt criminal activity. Mainly, they hang around the bar that serves as their headquarters, drinking beer, playing pool, discussing their bikes, which are all individualized—never stock. Periodically, they gather for outings, races, or rallies. Gradually, marijuana begins to replace beer as the drug of choice. If all of this seems rather benign, it's primarily because most of the gang members are not just out of their teens, but are in their late twenties to mid-thirties. A number of them have wives or families. They see themselves as belonging to a club more than a gang.

Since it’s based on a real gang and real people, the film is more of a docu-drama than a fiction film. While the film doesn’t show us much about how the gang affects the outside world, we do see how the changing nature of motorcycle gangs affects the insulated world of this particular gang. When a traveling member of California’s Hell’s Angels visits the Vandals, he’s regarded with awe and respect by many of the gang, who seek to emulate his look and behavior. Younger men, more prone to violence, seek to join the gang or start new chapters. Vietnam veterans bring harder drugs into the gang. When one of the gang’s members is killed in a barfight outside the gang’s territory, the gang retaliates. The times, they are a-changin’.

Austin Butler gives a taciturn performance as Benny, and his character is hard to penetrate, for us as well as Kathy. Jody Comer’s Kathy narrates the film either through voice-over or by her describing to Danny Lyon the things she has witnessed, as he records her observations. She’s an open book, so to speak, as she isn’t shy about telling us how she feels about everything she sees or participates in.

The film had a tough ride with distribution. Disney's 20th Century Studios planned a December 1, 2023, theatrical release after screening at some film festivals in fall 2023, including a world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day weekend. However, it was indefinitely delayed in October 2023 due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, making the actors unable to promote the film. Disney ultimately dropped the film the next month, letting producing company New Regency take it elsewhere. Focus Features ended up acquiring the film, with Universal Pictures handling the film's international release.

The film mostly has a song score, with David Wingo providing incidental background music. The picture cost $30-40 million to produce, but is a loser at the box office, with a $25 million gross to date.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 6, 2024 - 3:41 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

THE DALTONS RIDE AGAIN (1945) – 6/10

If this film didn’t purport to tell the story of a gang of famous outlaws, it would be just another Universal B western. The film is told in flashback by Emmett Dalton (Alan Curtis) from the courtroom where he has just been found guilty of bank robbery. It seems that he and his brothers—Grat (Lon Chaney, Jr.), Bob (Kent Taylor), and Ben (Noah Beery Jr.)—had decided to give up their outlaw ways and escape to Argentina. Along the way, they stop in the Kansas town of Skeleton Creek to visit an old friend of their father, cattle rancher Tex Walters (Stanley Andrews). Emmett soon falls for Mary Bohannon (Martha O'Driscoll), the daughter of Skeleton Creek's newspaper publisher, Michael Bohannon (John Litel). The brothers' plan to leave town is squelched when Tex is murdered, his land burned, and his cattle are run off. So, the brothers postpone their trip until they can find out who is behind the murder.

I haven’t researched it, so I have no idea how much truth there is to this yarn of the brothers’ desire to leave the country, of this love affair of Emmett’s, or of their desire to see justice done in the killing of their father’s old friend. The only part that I read that is definitely true is the ending, where the brothers are involved in an ill-fated bank robbery in Coffeyville, Kansas, and that Emmett was indeed caught, convicted, and sent to prison.

The film doesn’t have a lot of action. It’s mainly the brothers poking around town trying to glean on to some leads about who’s behind the cattle rustling in the area, trying to deal with the bank to pay off the mortgage on the ranch for Tex’s widow, while also trying to keep a low profile and avoid being recognized. It’s enough to hold your interest for a 72-minute running time. The film has mainly a stock music score.

 
 Posted:   Jul 7, 2024 - 2:10 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

The Masque of the Red Death (1964) ... 3/10

Style over substance: much of the film looks good, in glorious colours (courtesy of a restored print) and a great w/s image. But the wafer-thin storyline with Vincent Price in full OTT mode (though with almost nothing to do) and very weak support from Jane Asher (her first cinematic adult role?) and David Weston (an actor I knew by face but not name/career) meant there was little to involve me.

I struggle to like Patrick Magee and his sleazy character's stupidity was the high-point even if clearly sign-posted; Hazel Court was underused. Nigel Green looked as if he wished he wasn't there and Robert Brown (superb as 'M') was miscast as the jailer/guard.

Some of the sets were well-done but the clear image made so much look cheap and revealed the film as studio-bound. The floating figures of death reminded me of The Seventh Seal (a far superior film) and the film's style appeared to pre-empt that of the late 60s/early 70s (especially the Italian horror genre).

I wasn't taken by David Lee's score which seemed wrong, failing to capture the mood of the film.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 7, 2024 - 3:35 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH - A BILLION OUT OF 10

A total masterpiece in every way! Mitch! Can you watch TOMB OF LIGEIA next? That's even BETTER!

I simply cannot believe that MusicMad's score for MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH differs so much from mine. It's almost as if we were two different people with two different opinions. Unfathomable.

Mitch! What do you think of the absolutely brilliant CD of Oliver Nelson's great scores for DEATH OF A GUNFIGHTER and SKULLDUGGERY? It's got to be your favourite purchase so far this year, right?

 
 Posted:   Jul 7, 2024 - 4:26 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH - A BILLION OUT OF 10

A total masterpiece in every way! Mitch! Can you watch TOMB OF LIGEIA next? That's even BETTER!

I simply cannot believe that MusicMad's score for MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH differs so much from mine. It's almost as if we were two different people with two different opinions. Unfathomable.

Mitch! What do you think of the absolutely brilliant CD of Oliver Nelson's great scores for DEATH OF A GUNFIGHTER and SKULLDUGGERY? It's got to be your favourite purchase so far this year, right?


I had an inkling our views may differ, Graham, ... smile

'fraid I've not heard of Tomb ...; as for Masque ... 's score ... it's not that I disliked it, it simply didn't add anything in the sense of horror/anticipation/doom. Perhaps if I heard it away from the visuals ...

And, Oliver Nelson's works await me (I did see the film ... Gunfighter ... 40+ years ago.

 
 Posted:   Jul 7, 2024 - 10:54 PM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Sunday in New York (1963) ... 7+/10

Re-visit, after many years, of a favourite: plenty of laughs from a lively script brought to life by a wonderful cast. Jane Fonda looks a little too mature for her character but the on-screen chemistry between her and Rod Taylor overcomes any issues. Cliff Robertson is superb as Fonda's elder brother, seeking to protect her from men like him.

Opened out from a stage production it shows its roots with much of the screen time set in the brother's New York apartment. I find the music score by Peter Nero a little heavy and have never sought a copy.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 10, 2024 - 12:11 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

SECTOR 4: EXTRACTION (2014) – 4/10

Frenchman Olivier Gruner is a former kickboxing champion who has been making films since 1990. Most of the three dozen or so action films in which he has appeared have been direct-to-video, direct-to-cable, direct-to-streaming, direct-to-what-have-you.

In SECTOR 4: EXTRACTION, an elite band of mercenaries is caught behind enemy lines in Afghanistan, and three are left for dead. After their mission leader “Nash” (Gruner) escapes war torn Sector 4, he finds out that the three are still alive and being held captive by the Taliban. After the CEO (Eric Roberts) of his employer, Black Knight, refuses to authorize a rescue operation, Nash undertakes a one-man mission to bring his men home.

Gruner not only stars in this film, but directed, co-produced, and provided the story as well. Aside from the routine military action, the film’s greatest failing is that much of it literally cannot be seen. Most of the action takes place at night, and the scenes are so poorly lit that I could barely discern the outlines of figures let alone see what they were doing. I should have turned it off, but then how could I warn you away from it.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 11, 2024 - 11:14 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

47 METERS DOWN (2017) – 7/10

Two sisters, “Lisa” (Mandy Moore) and “Kate” (Claire Holt), are vacationing in Mexico, when they are convinced by two guys they meet at a bar to go skin-diving. Lisa, who has never skin-dived before is hesitant, but the more adventurous Kate convinces her to go. Once out in the ocean, the girls find that the skin-diving involves going over the side of the boat into a shark cage to get “up close and personal” with the beasts. After the guys successfully enjoy the sight of the maneaters, the girls give it a try.

Unfortunately, that’s when the cable on the shark cage breaks, and the cage sinks to the bottom of the ocean—47 meters down. As boat “Captain Taylor” (Matthew Modine) works to bring the cage back up, the girls must be concerned with both a depleting air supply and the marauding sharks, as they have to leave the cage to get to a level where their headset radios can communicate with the boat.

This is a harrowing adventure with plenty of squirm-and-terror-inducing moments. Both women give realistic performances in what looks to be a difficult shoot. There is only so much suspense you can wring out of this one basic situation, and the film runs a quick 90 minutes. But that’s enough to get the job done, and the filmmakers are to be commended for not cluttering the film up with any extraneous subplots. In fact, once the cage descends, we are trapped down there along with the girls, never seeing anything that is or is not going on at the surface. It’s just us and them. And the sharks.

Johannes Roberts directed and co-wrote the film. The musical duo Tomandandy (Thomas Hajdu and Andy Milburn) scored the film, with Lakeshore Records releasing the score as a download. The $5.5 million production was originally titled "In the Deep" and was supposed to go directly to a video-on-demand/DVD release in August 2016 through Anchor Bay Entertainment and the Weinstein Co. However, one week before the planned release, the film was bought by Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios, retitled 47 METERS DOWN, and given a wide theatrical release in June 2017. The picture ended up grossing $62 million worldwide, the second highest grossing indie film of the year.

 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2024 - 6:43 AM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

Godzilla 1985- 3.5-5

This was suggested to me by the YouTube algorithm. I remember this being one of the very first videos I ever rented from a video rental store back in the 80’s! I had very little recollection of the film itself as this is only my second viewing in 40 or so years.

"85" is of course the edited Americanized version of the film The Return of Godzilla. About 16 minutes of footage were cut from the film. They brought back Raymond Burr to reprise his role as wait for it… Steve Martin! The American version also uses some music from Defcon 4 by Christopher Young. The American version includes a paid promotion by Dr. Pepper which is (hilariously) prominentl in several new scenes with the American actors. Ah, America with its paid sponsors. Where would a movie be without them?

Though I saw the edited dubbed version, is not half bad. I like that the Japanese tried to go back to Godzilla's roots. Attempting to make a more serious dark film without much of the camp of the earlier films. Thankfully there are no kids in this movie! Nor does Godzilla have a monster foe to battle with.

I thought they interestingly delve into political issues as the Japanese not only had to defend themselves from Godzilla but also had to deal with the two superpowers America and the Russians. (Much like Minus One.)

I was a bit confused at times. Godzilla attacked a boat near the beginning of the film. When a reporter finds the boat intact he also finds the occupants still on the boat, dead and decomposing instead missing or toasted by Godzilla's heat ray. There was also some kind of weird jelly fish creature on board that presumably killed the crew. Huh? What did that have to do with Godzilla's attack on the boat?

You’re never going to see special effects on the same level as an American Hollywood blockbuster but I thought the SFX were a lot of fun to watch if not totally convincing. I also really liked the close-ups of Godzilla's head where they used an animatronic puppet to give him more expressions. Not totally convincing but again “fun”.

This has one of my favorite Godzilla designs which is much closer to the original Big G in appearance. My only complain were the oversized eyes which still kinda makes him look a bit cartoonish in some shots. But I like this over the more the angler designs or ridiculously outrageous designs like Shin Godzilla.

One thing missing in nearly all current Godzilla movies are the Big G’s vocabulary. As goofy as the 60’s and 70’s films were Godzilla at least made various sounds that indicated a mood or feeling. It could be anger, distressed, pain, etc. It made him more believable as a living creature. There is some here but only near the end. Every modern Godzilla movie be it from the Japanese or American versions only give him his classic roar which kinda makes him a one dimensional
character lacking personality. The creature can have a personality without being goofy, no?

I consider this one of the better Godzilla films even if it didn’t meet expectations at the time or today.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2024 - 11:03 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

HORIZON: An American Saga, Part 1 (2024) – 8/10

This film is getting much more press for its production than for its filmic qualities. A passion project for Kevin Costner for over three decades, the film was eventually conceived by Costner as a four-part saga. He sank $38 million of his own money into the project, the first two parts of which, already filmed, have cost $100 million each. Production on Part 3 began in May. Unfortunately, Part 1 of the film has come a cropper at the worldwide box office, with a gross of just $30 million. Part 2 was to appear in theaters in August. But with so few people seeing Part 1, the expectation is that fewer still would see Part 2. Consequently, Part 2 has been indefinitely delayed, with Part 1 going to streaming on premium video-on-demand sooner than expected, i.e. tomorrow (July 16th). The hope is that more people will view Part 1 via streaming, making a theatrical release of Part 2 sometime later more viable.

With that out of the way, is it worth it to pay to watch Part 1 on the small screen? Well, the film is as good as the first part of any four-part miniseries. Many characters are introduced, a number of storylines are established, and by the end of the third hour some of those storylines have begun to interweave.

The film begins in 1859, in the San Pedro Valley, where a party of surveyors mark stakes to outline the borders of a forthcoming frontier town, Horizon. Four years later, a flourishing Horizon is raided by Apaches led by “Pionsenay” (Owen Crow Shoe). The Army, led by “1st Lt. Gephardt” (Sam Worthington) and “Sgt. Major Riordan” (Michael Rooker), comes to aid the survivors, among whom is new widow “Frances Kittredge” (Sienna Miller), who goes to live at Camp Gallant. A party of scalphunters, led by “Tracker” (Jeff Fahey), goes off to hunt the Indians, who are having their own squabbles as Pionsenay argues with tribal elder “Tuayeseh” (Gregory Cruz) over the wisdom of making war on the settlers.

At about the film’s mid-point, horse trader “Hayes Ellison” (Costner) appears. He gets involved in the tail end of another storyline involving a woman named “Marigold” (Abbey Lee) that kicked off earlier in the film in Montana. In yet another thread, a wagon train led by “Matthew Van Weyden” (Luke Wilson) treks the Santa Fe Trail to Horizon. In the train are pretentious British couple “Juliette Chesney” (Ella Hunt) and “Hugh Proctor” (Tom Payne).

Little gets resolved in these first three hours, but that is not unexpected. The film is a fine production, with numerous locations and landscapes, not artificially drained of color. The film is not shot in scope, but in the more TV-friendly spherical widescreen (1.85:1). The cast is fine, with no “stunt casting” or “guest stars” as they would be called in a mini-series. John Debney’s score is a little more subdued than I would have liked, but it comes alive in the film-ending three-minute “sizzle reel” preview of Part 2.

I’ve liked the sensibilities of the two previous westerns that Coster has produced and directed, and I like this one. But there is nothing genre-smashing about the film. If you don’t like Costner or westerns in general, this film won’t change your mind. But unlike DANCES WITH WOLVES or OPEN RANGE, most of Costner’s work in this film is behind the camera. Although he is the nominal lead, he does not dominate the screen time, at least in Part 1.

 
 Posted:   Jul 15, 2024 - 5:48 AM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

Macross: Do You Remember Love- 3.5-5

MDYRL was an anime movie based off of the widely popular Japanese anime series , “Super Dimension Fortress Macross”.

The movie was a condensed retelling of the story which had most of the major plots elements and themes from the television series.

The series itself was unique as it combined a love story , pop idol and transforming robots into one story. Thus it had great appeal for both boys and girls.

I was never a huge fan of the romantic elements which turned into a love triangle. While sacrilegious to say I thought the songs were rather weak. That said the music by the female voice actress and singer Mari Iijima was a huge hit in Japan. I just always thought the songs were to light weight and her voice to mousy.

Back to the film, the movie obviously had a much bigger budget and it shows on screen. The characters were slightly redesigned, the drawings and backgrounds were far more detailed and the animated action sequences are just breathtaking.

The Valkyrie was a fighter jet plane that could fly in an atmosphere and in space. It could also transform into a robot. The Valkyrie looks a lot like an F-14 in airplane mode and an armored humanoid in robot mode. It’s one of the coolest designs ever in a space opera.

The hand drawn animation of these vehicles are nothing short of spectacular. The animators really got the sense of mass and weight as well as convincingly animating them in the air and in space. All this nuance is lost with CGI which sadly even the Japanese have moved onto for animating mechanical objects.

The score is also extremely exciting and thematic combining classical orchestration with rock elements. I didn’t like the inclusion of the electric guitar at first but I’ve become accustomed to them. Surprisingly much of the score from the television series was reused in the film. That tells you how strong the soundtrack was. The sound effects are another highlight of the film and should be heard with a good sound system.

As stated above the animation is extremely detailed and lush from a visual standpoint. Sadly the quality of the animation drops down a bit during the second half of the film.

Story wise I think the film begins to lose its drive about halfway through. It gets bogged down with the main protagonist romance with his commander which forms the love triangle with the pop star. The climactic battle wasn’t as exciting as the opening action sequences either.

The main story overall is a bit silly too but that would take paragraphs to explain. Let’s just say a song brings peace to the galaxy. That said, this is 80’s Japanese anime in its prime.

On a side note, Macross the series was edited for the English market as Robotech which combined three completely different anime series into one continuous story. The movie itself was highly edited and dubbed into English and adapted for a television release. This adaptation is considered a monstrosity. Because of 40 years of legal battles between Harmony Gold the owners of Robotech and the Japanese creators over the rights to the material it appears a proper unedited Japanese language, English subtitled version of the film will never see the light of day in the west. One must find fans subs in order to watch the film as intended.

If you’re an animation fan this is a must see if only for the first half of the film.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 15, 2024 - 6:46 AM   
 By:   Kentishsax   (Member)

Unfrosted (2024, Jerry Seinfeld) - weird, 1/10.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 16, 2024 - 11:02 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

GAME OF ASSASSINS [aka THE GAUNTLET] (2014) – 6/10

This film follows a band of unsuspecting people who have been abducted for the pleasure of a twisted human group who are bent on punishing those who have taken a life, by putting them in a crazy “Saw”-like situation, with the exception that in GAME OF ASSASSINS they must traverse a medieval type labyrinth wrought with peril. THE GAUNTLET was a better title for this film, but the alternate title has some validity in that the group eventually learns that only a single survivor of the ordeal will be allowed to escape. At certain points, one of the group has to make a decision to save or not save someone’s life.

The group are in some kind of underground maze filled with obstacles and traps, and they move from one area to another by solving puzzles and riddles, so to some extent they are forced to work together. The physical production is good, with the studio-bound sets realistic and adequately lit.

The film was partially shot in China, and obviously made with an eye to the Asian market, with Chinese actress Bai Ling and Vietnamese actor Dustin Nguyen among the group of five. The film never got a U.S. theatrical release, going to straight-to-DVD. The score by Evan Evans has not been released.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 17, 2024 - 1:45 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

DESPICABLE ME 4 (2024) – 7/10

Universal’s DESPICABLE ME franchise is the most financially successful series of animated films ever produced. The 5 prior films (which include two MINYONS spinoffs) have grossed more than $4.6 billion. Perhaps Fox’s now-dormant ICE AGE franchise is second, with 5 films producing $3.2 billion in revenues.

Now we have this 6th film, in which bad guy turned good guy “Gru” (voice of Steve Carell) is informed that one of the bad guys he helped put away, “Maxime” (Will Farrell), has escaped from prison and is out to get Gru, his wife “Lucy” (Kristen Wiig), and his family. Gru is sent into witness protection in a new town, posing as a solar panel salesman, where he meets new neighbors “Perry and Patsy Prescott” (Stephen Colbert and Chloe Fineman). Meanwhile, Maxime is aided in his quest for revenge by his loyal assistant “Valentina” (Sofía Vergara).

The goings on among this group are mildly amusing, as they deliver most of the verbal humor. But as usual, the best gags are the visual ones reserved for the Minyons, those semi-verbal yellow blobs who assist Gru, while constantly squabbling among themselves and playing tricks on each other. Heitor Pereira’s score is mickey-mousey, but the film offers little opportunity for much else.

This film is like the others—frantic, loud, fitfully funny, reasonably short (94 minutes), with no agenda to push other than to entertain. Actually, its real agenda is to make money. The $100 million production has grossed $438 million in its first two weeks. Another Minyons film is planned for 2027.

 
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