ORBzine - 2001.09 Television Movies Reviews

ORBzine - Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Lost In Space

This is one of a slew of movies based on old TV shows. Like many of the others, it had a great cast and SPFX but a disappointing plot.

Earth is dying, trapped in a cycle of civil war. The only hope for the good Guys is to set up a colony on a nearby inhabitable planet. Their colonists are the cliched 1950s family, the Space Family Robinson. The parents [William Hurt and Mimi Rogers ] designed their space-ship, the Jupiter Two. Their eldest daughter is the frigid Judy [ Heather Graham ], while the youngest child is a boy, Will Robinson. The only member of the family who isn't a top-class scientist is Penny [ Lacey Chabert ], who is a cliched adolescent girl.

The evil Dr Smith [Gary Oldman] is working for the other side, the Sedition. He sneaks aboard the ship just before it takes off, and attempts to sabotage it. While Oldman is a masterful actor, the character he has to work with is a one-dimensional cardboard villain. He makes the character in the original show look far superior in comparison.

The problem with the film is that, while it looks great, the story itself is disappointing. It will come as no surprise to those who have seen it that it was written by Akiva Goldman, the hack responsible for Batman & Robin !

The look of the show is reminiscent of Farscape , perhaps because the creatures were provided by Jim Henson's muppet workshop. Stephen Hopkins does an adequate job of directing, and we even get a cameo by June Lockhart [Mrs Robinson in the TV show]. Hopkins has directed a number of action-adventure films, and that is what this is - not the light-hearted comedy you might expect.

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  • The Burbs

    This is an offering from Joe Dante , the comedy-horror director famous for Gremlins . Tom Hanks and Carrie Fisher play a married couple who live in the suburbs in the American Midwest. They get suspicious of their new neighbours, who live in a stereotypical decrepit old wooden mansion.

    Other [friendly] neighbours include Bruce Dern [ Silent Running ] and Corey Feldman [ Lost Boys ].

    We get a few laughs and a bit of slapstick, but ultimately this film does not deliver.

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  • Man's Best Friend

    Written and directed by John Lafia , this is a rather disappointing film that went straight to video. Viewers would be better off with either of the Watchers movies, which had a similar plot but were actually exciting.

    Lance Hendriksen [ Aliens ] plays the stereotypical scientist who breeds a genetically engineered killing machine but fails to invest in any security.

    Ally Sheedy is a TV journalist who breaks into Hendriksen's labs in order to do an exclusive expose on his work. She takes pity on a big fluffy rottweiler, Max, and takes him home with her. Unfortunately for her, Max is the killing machine! He has the climbing abilities of a cat and the camouflage of a chameleon.

    There are a couple of high points in the movie, but that's when Max shows off his abilities. Yes, he pisses acid and eats a cat. Of course, we all feel like that sometimes.

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  • Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers

    Michael Myers is on the rampage again, even though in this series he has endured total bodily destruction at least twice. However, this movie stands far above the Friday The 13th series in terms of Direction and Scripting. There is an actual sense of terror that far exceeds anything the jokey Jason Voorhees flicks could create.

    Myers' shrink [Donald Pleasance] is still on his tail. This is the last film Pleasance made, and is dedicated to his memory.

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  • Dark City

    Rufus Sewell wakes up in a film-noir city where it is always night. He has no memories, but the evidence indicates that he is a serial killer. He is contacted by a sinister Doctor [Kiefer Sutherland, in a role very different from his usual] who claims to know the truth.

    Jennifer Connolly is Sewell's wife, a somewhat lacklustre role. William Hurt [ Altered States ] plays a police detective assigned to investigate the murders. Colin Friels [ Darkman ] has a cameo as a man who discovered the truth, and was driven insane by it.

    Richard O'Brien [ Flash Gordon ] pops up as the leader of a band of similar-looking bald-headed pasty-faced types. Every night at midnight all humans fall asleep, and the O'Brien-looking creatures move them about and alter their memories.

    Alex Proyas wrote, directed and produced this, is a nice follow-up to his previous film The Crow . It's just a shame that he hasn't made anything of note since.

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  • Spies Like Us

    It's the 1980s, and the CIA's Bruce Davison [ X-Men ] organises a mission to capture a Scud missile and use it to test the new US Missile Defence System. For this mission the CIA recruit Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd, who have security clearance but are also expendable. Our heroes are given a crash-course at Secret Agent school and then sent on their way.

    This film harks back to the old Road To movies, and even has a cameo by Bob Hope. The road our heroes take is from The Man Who Would Be King, up the Khyber Pass into what had by the 1980s become part of the USSR. En route to their destination they meet Donna Dixon , the token babe. The jiggle factor is provided by Vanessa Angel , who plays a Russian soldier. For some reason the shots of her in her underwear are usually edited out from the BBC version. That's a pity, especially since they made it to the video of the theme song [sung by Paul McCartney].

    The director, John Landis , has done what he always does and used cameos by other directors - Frank Oz, Joel Coen, Sam Raimi .

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  • King's Pirate, The

    This is an adaptation of a novel by Rafael Sabatini , itself based on real-life events. The daughter of the Mogul of India was captured by the pirate, Captain Long Ben Avery.

    In this story she is taken to an impregnable pirate fortress. The Royal Navy sends Fleming [Doug McClure - Warlords of Atlantis ]. His comedy sidekick is a Hungarian pirate called Zucho [Kurt Kaznar, in a role quite similar to his Land of Giants one]. They are aided by a small troupe of crimson-clad acrobats. Yes, this owes something to the film Crimson Pirate with Burt lancaster himself a former circus acrobat.

    The other notable part here is Jill St John as the fiery red-headed pirate queen.

    There was a previous adaption of the novel, Against All Flags . It was filmed in black&white, with Errol Flynn and Katharine Hepburn in the lead roles. Beyond being technicolor, this version has no real advantages.

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  • Temptress

    Kim Delaney [NYPD Blue] plays an American photographer-artist who returns home after a long stay in India. Her behaviour is erratic, and it appears she might be possessed by the Hindu goddess of Death, Kali. Who is Kali? she asks Ben Cross [ First Knight ], who is for some reason masquerading as a Hindu. Obviously she has never seen Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom !

    As a supernatural thriller this is pretty pathetic. However, as a lightweight so-called erotic thriller this is somewhat watchable. Ms Delaney goes topless in a couple of scenes, if that's what you're into.

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  • Mortal Kombat 2: Annihilation

    This is the direct sequel to the first adaption of the computer game, and starts just where the first film ended. However, several characters are now played by different [cheaper] actors. Raiden the Thunder God, formerly played by Christopher Lambert, now looks like James Russo. Sonya Blade [formerly Brigitte Wilson ] now looks convincing in the fight scenes

    Shao Khan [Brian Thompson - X-Files ], the evil Emperor of Outworld, has decided to invade Earth. He has opened portals that will merge the two worlds over the next six days, and as this happens Raiden's powers will fade.

    There are some new characters, such as Marjean Holden as a four-armed villainess in PVC. Musetta Vander plays the mother of Princess Kitana [ Talisa Soto ].

    Since this is a film of a computer game, and a sequel to boot, you should know not to expect too much. The script is somewhat cliched, penned by the team responsible for Dark Skies . However, there are some nice points, such as the beautiful cinematography [especially in the location scenes from New Mexico]. The film is packed with great SPFX and tons of well-executed fight scenes. Exactly how good are the martial artists? Well, Raiden's stunt double is Ray Park!

  • Mortal Kombat: The Series
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