ORBzine Movie Reviews December 2000

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Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country

The Klingon homeworlds' main power reactor on their moon Praxis explodes, a la Chernobyl, with similar potentially devastating effects. This is detected by the USS Excelsior, under the command of Commander Sulu. Yes, finally one of the old Enterprise crew has been promoted off the ship! Actually he is not the only one: his Communications Officer is Janice Rand ( Grace Lee Whitney ). The other familiar face in Sulu's crew is Christian Slater ( Name of the Rose ), who pops up as Sulu's aide.

Since the Cold War against the Klingons was a metaphor for the Cold War against the USSR, this film mirrors the political thaw that occurred in real life. Kirk is ordered by his boss, Admiral Cartwright (Brock Peters AKA Ben Sisco's father in DS9 ), to meet with the Klingon peace delegation. He takes the Enterprise, with all the old crew (except Sulu and Rand, of course). Also along for the ride is Spock's protege Valeria ( Kim Cattrall ). The part was originally meant to be the character Saavik played by Kirsty Alley / Robin Curtis in the previous films, but for some reason the makers decided to change this.

The Klingons are led by Chancellor Gowron (David Warner - TMNT 2 - he was Human Ambassador in ST5: Final Frontier, a Cardassian in Star Trek: TNG and a human in Babylon 5 ) and General Chang (Christopher Plummer - ). Friendly banter is had by all, and the Klingons display a love of Shakespeare. Apparently they think he was one of them. Anyway, after the dinner has ended and the Klingons have returned to their ship, the Klingon ship is bombarded and boarded - presumably by the Enterprise. The unknown killers leave Gowron for dead. Kirk and McCoy beam across to help, but Chang blames them and has them arrested.

The Federation President (Kurtwood Smith - Robocop ) complains to the Klingon Ambassador (John Herman Munster - Babylon 5 ), but to no avail. Spock's father is present, still Vulcan Ambassador after all these years! Kirk and McCoy are put on trial, defended by Worf (Michael Dorn, playing the grandfather of his character in ST: TNG ). The frame-up is perfect, and they are sentanced to life imprisonment in a gulag, a Cold War reference to Siberia. There they meet the babelicious Iman (David Bowie's wife), who promises to help them escape.

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Incredible Hulk Returns, The

David Banner has built a machine which he thinks can cure him of his transformations. However, mercenary Tim Thomerson ( Trancers ) and his sidekick Charles Napier ( Austin Powers ) are plotting to steal the device.

Banner's sidekick is a young doctor who has the power to summon the mystical norse warrior, Thor. Yes, this is a complete butchery of the original Marvel comics - but what the hell, it is fun.

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Tremors II: Aftershock

The Graboids are back in business, this time chewing up Mexican oil workers. Kevin Bacon's character is unavailable because he has a fine woman, presumably Finn Carter 's character. However, Earl (Fred Ward - Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous ) needs the money ... He has a younger sidekick in Bacon's mould, There is yet another babelicious female geologist in tight-fitting jeans - Helen Shaver , who is reminiscent of Kate Mulgrew (Janeway in Star Trek: VGR ) and the October 1974 Playmate. Since the average viewer was probably born in Summer 1974, this is quite a confession! The rest of the crew includes Bert Gummer (Michael Gross - 100 Million BC ), the psychotic survivalist from the first film, and a couple of expendable hispanic guys.

The ass-kicking proceeds well, and the guys make headway into the two-dozen plus monsters that have been detected. However, they find themselves up against something even worse, courtesy of Tippett Studios (who created the AT-ST and ED-209). The explanation of how these creatures appear (spontaneous evolution!) is ridiculous, but then the film is not meant to be brain-taxing.

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Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Bill (Alex Winters - Monsters ) and Ted (Keanu Reeves - The Matrix ) are a couple of American high-school geeks. They will fail their finals if they cannot deliver an excellent history presentation tomorrow. Luckily for them a cool guy from the future named Rufus (George Carlin - Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back ) lends them his time traveling phone booth. This enables them to collect various historical personalities such as Socrates (who makes a reference to US TV soap opera Days of Our Lives).

This is the film that lead to Reeves becoming a major movie star. He is so good at being a clueless Californian dead-head ... almost as if he is not acting at all.

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail

The title says it all. King Arthur (Graham Chapman - Life of Brian ) bands together a group of knights, the Kights of the Round Table. God (AKA a Terry Gilliam animation) orders them to seek the Holy Grail. This results in lots of infamous sketches where the knights run into sundry perils such as the knights who say Niii.

The soundtrack includes the theme tune from Where Eagles Dare. UK SF novelist Ian M Banks was apparently one of the extras in the final scene.

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Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

Peter Strauss plays an interstellar bounty hunter who lands on a remote planet to rescue three babes (including Deborah Pratt ) who escaped there from a stellar cruise liner that crashed. He teams up with a teenage scavenger girl ( Molly Ringwald ).

The babes are captured by arch-villain Overdog (Michael Ironside - V ), a hideously disfigured cyborg. Ernie Hudson ( ) is the token black guy, who ends up helping Strauss.

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Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Yet another Mel Brooks parody, this time of Kevin Costner's Hollywood blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Cary Elwes ( Princess Bride ) plays the title character. He starts out in a Saracen prison, but escapes with the help of Isaac Hayes ( Escape From New York ). Once back in Merrie England he discovers that his family lands have been taken by the evil Sheriff of Rottingham (Roger Rees - Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!)

  • Amy Yasbeck (Splash 2) is babelicious as Maid Marion, imprisoned in a chastity belt.
  • Matthew Porretta (star of the TV show New Adventures of Robin Hood ) pops up as Will Scarlett.
  • Tracey Ullman (Ally McBeal) is Prince John's cook-cum-witch, Latrine.
  • Dom DeLuise ( ) plays a Mafia capo.
  • Patrick Stewart ( Star Trek: TNG ) pops up at the end to do a Sean Connery impersonation.
  • Avery Schreiber ( Galaxina ) is a tax collector
  • Chase Masterson ( Star Trek: DS9 ) is a lady in the King's court.

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  • Lost World: Jurassic Park 2

    Yet another Steven Spielberg dinosaur extravaganza, again based loosely on a novel by Michael Crichton . Jeff Goldblum is back, recruited by Attenborough to lead a team exploring the SECOND island with dinosaurs on it. While Goldblum and the audience know that things are going to end badly, nobody else seems to care.

    Julianne Moore plays Goldblum's girlfriend, who thinks that because she photographed some lions in a game reserve once she can camp out near carnivorous dinosaurs without being in any jeopardy whatsoever. Also, as always in this kind of film, there is a cute kid that comes along for the ride.

    In the first film the British big-game hunter was played by Bob Peck ( Slipstream ). Here, a very similar character is played by Pete Postlethwaite (The Usual Suspects). He leads a well-armed group of big-game hunters, but, thanks to the stupidity of one of Goldblum's team, all the humans on the island are trapped at the mercy of the dinosaurs! And when the T Rexs finally chomp down on human flesh, the CGI gore is far worse than anything else the PG-13 certificate would imply. Luckily, film censorship is generally aimed at low-budget films. Because this is a big-budget Spielberg production, it gets away with things no other film could.

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    Comedy of Terrors, The

    This is like a sitcom version of Roger Corman 's adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe 's works. Vincent Price ( ) plays an undertaker, unhappily married to a buxom blonde. Boris Karloff ( ) is the father-in-law, and Peter Lorre ( ) is the underling with desires for Price's wife. Only fair, as Price seduced Lorre's wife in The Black Cat.

    It is wonderful to see Price strut and Lorre bumble as they go about their fiendish work.

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    Arrival, The

    Charlie Sheen is a Contact -type scientist who detects a signal he believes to be of extra-terrestrial origin. He informs the US Government, in the form of slimy bureaucrat Ron Silver ( Timecop ), but the result is a coverup. Incidentally, one of the MIB goons also plays a FBI agent in the TV show The Visitor . Meanwhile, Lindsay Crouse discovers that global warming has been on the increase in recent years, with potentially catastrophic results. She and Charlie Sheen both end up in Mexico, apparently the source of both the signal and the heatwave. Yes, it appears that cool-looking CGI aliens are doing a They Live.

    The high points? Well, Teri Polo plays Sheen's GF. The plot is pretty good (although it seems predictable towards the end, there is a good twist), and there is a great action scene involving a bath-tub.

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    As you can probably guess from the zany title, this was directed by Tim Burton .

    Geena Davis and her husband die in an accident, and become ghosts. A new family move into their home, and the only one who can see the undead couple is teenage goth chick Winona Ryder.

    The ghosts call upon the title character (played by Michael Keaton - Batman ) to exorcise the unwanted living people from the house. Unfortunately he exceeds his mandate and tries to marry Winona.

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    Black Shield of Falworth

    This is one of Michael Sheard 's favourite films. Tony Curtis plays a young peasant in medieval England who is destined for greatness. This is total Hollywood hokum, famous for a reviewer paraphrasing Curtis as purportedly saying Yondah is the castle of my faddah in his strong New York accent. The truth is, that line is not in the film - and quite an entertaining piece of hokum it is, too!

    Curtis' character's love interest is played by his RL wife Janet Leigh .

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    Nightmare Before Christmas, The

    This was produced by Tim Burton and based on a story written by him.

    Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King (voiced by Chris Sarandon - Fright Night ) is King of Hallowe'en land. While in a fit of depression he stumbles across Christmas-Land, and forms a plan. He kidnaps Santa and replaces him ...

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    Independence Day

    This is the blockbuster Star Wars rip-off made by the team of writer-director Roland Emmerich and writer-producer Dean Devlin. Basically, aliens attack planet Earth - and only the Yanks can save us! The story is split between three American protagonists in three American cities.
  • Bill Pullman ( Torchwood ) - the US President in Washington DC
  • Will Smith ( I Am Legend ) - USAF pilot in Los Angeles
  • Jeff Goldblum ( The Fly ) - MIT PhD in New York City

    This pays homage to a variety of different Sci-fi stories. There is even an unlikely cameo by Brent Spiner ( Star Trek: TNG ).

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  • Fury, The

    This is a late 1970s thriller by Brian de Palma , a sort of follow-up to Carrie . A retired secret agent (Kirk Douglas - Spartacus ) wants to rescue his son Robin (Andrew Stevens - The Evil Within ) from the clutches of one-armed Control (John Cassavettes - Rosemary's Baby ). However, the son is telekinetic and this makes him the ultimate weapon.

    The only one who can track down Robin is a young woman ( Amy Irving ) who has a telepathic link with him. Kirk sends his girlfriend ( Carrie Snodgrass ) undercover in the villain's Chicago clinic, run by reluctant conspirator Charles Durning ( Dark Night of the Scarecrow ).

    A very young-looking Dennis Franz ( Psycho 3 ) pops up briefly as an off-duty uniformed cop. Daryl Hannah also has a small supporting role in her first movie appearance.

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    James Bond Franchise


    This is the much-loved third film in the Bond series. The first two were merely spy films; this is the first one that was what we now regard as a Bond film.

    Sean Connery ( League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ) is excellent as Bond, while Honor Blackman appears as Pussy Galore - the villain's henchwoman, whose icy lesbian exterior is melted by Bond's manly charms.

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    Sean Connery ( LXG ) is Bond again. He is recalled from the detox clinic because SPECTRE have stolen two nukes from the RAF. However, he realises that by strange coincidence he had been at the same detox clinic as the SPECTRE agents!

    He heads to the Bahamas to investigate Daniella Bianchi , based on nothing more than the fact she was sister to a SPECTRE victim. Of course, she looks good in a bikini so nobody complains.

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    This was written by George MacDonald Fraser (best known for the Flashman historical novels) and directed by John Glen Like the previous film, For Your Eyes Only , this was based on three of Fleming's short stories.

    The title role is played by the babelicious Maud Adams , who had the distinction of being a Bond girl twice. Kristina Waybourn plays Magda, her equally babelicious blonde sidekick. Her partner Kemal Khan (Louis Jordan - ) is secretly plotting with renegade a Ruskie General (Steven Berkoff - ). Remember, the cold war was very much active when this film was made.

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