ORBzine - Movie Reviews February 2002


What Dreams May Come

Robin Williams is happily married to Annabella Sciorra . He dies and is guided to the afterlife by an angel [Cuba Gooding Jnr - Chill Factor ]. He has trouble adjusting to his new state, but so does his widow. She kills herself, and is trapped in her own personal Hell.

Williams goes on an odyssey to find his wife, en route encountering supporting players Rosalind Chao and Max von Sydow [ Dreamscape ]. His adventures in the afterlife are interspersed with flashbacks to his life, which was depressing enough.

There are two kinds of films that Williams appears in - slapstick comedies and sentimental crap. There is no light-hearted side to this film. The best thing about it is the beautiful cinematography, which makes the film like The Cell but without the bolted-on thriller aspect.

The interpretation of the afterlife is relatively simplistic, with Cuba Gooding Jnr's character performing the same role as Clarence in It's A Wonderful Life. Heaven is a boring place, Hell has smoke and flames, but there is acknowledgement of reincarnation.

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  • Destiny Turns On The Radio

    A convicted bank robber [Dylan McDermott - ] breaks out of jail and makes his way home to Las Vegas. He gets a lift with the mysterious Johnny Destiny [ Quentin Tarantino ]. In Vegas he discovers that not only has his girlfriend [ Nancy Travis ] shacked up with a crooked Casino owner [James Belushi - K9], but the money from the robbery has been stolen by the aforementioned Mr Destiny. He spends the rest of the movie trying to get his girlfriend back.

    This is a light-hearted romantic comedy thriller, but is not really successful in any of those categories. The supernatural element comes from Johnny Destiny, who is actually a Native American luck spirit or something.

    When it was first released, this film had something of a cult status because of Tarantino's role. Bobcat Goldthwait [Police Academy 2] also has a cameo.

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  • Terminator

    Los Angeles, 1984, and in a flash of light two naked men appear. The first, Arnold Schwartzenegger [ Predator, Running Man, Total Recall, End of Days, 6th Day ] murders street-punks Bill Paxton and Brian Thompson for their clothes. The other, Michael Biehn, is in a bad way and soon on the run from the LAPD.

    The two men set about stalking a waitress named Sarah Connor [ Linda Hamilton ]. One is the Terminator, a cyborg sent to kill her. The other is a soldier from the future, sent to protect her.

    Police Detectives Paul Winfield and Lance Hendriksen try to protect Sarah. However, they have underestimated the opposition. In another nice touch, the machines which fill Sarah's life - such as the telephone and answering machine - serve the Terminator far better than they do the humans.

    This movie made a lot of careers, especially those of director James Cameron and star Arnold Schwartzenegger. While it started life as a medium-budget SciFi thriller it became something of a cult suucess, spawning a mega-budget sequel and the Tech Noir genre of SciFi Action films.

    Of note, the end credits now acknowledge the works of Harlan Ellison . In this reviewer's opinion Cameron should also acknowledge his debt to Somewhere in Time - from which he took the romance subplot for both this film and Titanic!

  • Terminator 2
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  • Les Visiteurs

    Medieval France, and a knight [Jean Reno - Godzilla ] is rewarded for bravery with the King's permission to get married. He takes a short cut through a haunted forest, home of a notorious witch.

    As the story progresses, the Knight and his sidekick take a trip through time and accidentally end up in the 1990s! They are taken in by the Knight's descendant, who is the spitting image of his betrothed.

    The story progresses as a typical fish-out-of-water tale. They end up in the Knight's castle, now transformed into a chateau-hotel. His one goal is to return to his own time so he can have descendants. However, his peasant sidekick decides that he prefers the modern comforts ...

  • The Visitors
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  • Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

    This is the final episode in the series - so far. Dr Loomis [Donald Pleasance] has been killed off, but somehow Jamie Lee Curtis was lured back for the twenty-year anniversary.

    John Carpenter is credited as co-creator for the characters that this film is based on. This time he is neither writer nor director, which is a pity. The director's reins go to Steve Miner . The truth is, this film is as disappointing as Carpenter's recent efforts.

    The film starts with a nice twist on the typical slasher-fest. Michael goes after the nurse who assisted Dr Loomis. It turns out that Jamie Lee Curtis faked her own death, but now Michael knows where she is. And as he closes in on her, we count down to Hallowe'en ...

    Ms Curtis is now Headmistress at a remote boarding school. She has a son [Josh Harnett - Pearl Harbour] and a boyfriend [Adam Arkin - Chicago Hope], but still suffers from terrible nightmares [made from clips of the original film].

    Curtis is a predictably overprotective mother, and her son ends up spending Halloween in the school with his best friend and a couple of babes [ Michelle Williams, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe ]. The security guard [LL Cool J - Deep Blue Sea ] is also on duty when Michael Myers comes calling ...

    This is pretty much a cliched, disappointing slasher flick. There are references to Plan 9 From Outer Space, Scream 2 and Frankenstein, but these merely indicate how good the film wishes it was. Janet Leigh herself makes a cameo, but her dialogue is too predictable. She doesn't want to seem too maternal [she is JLC's mother], and notes that everyone has had a few scares [she was in Psycho ]. In many ways that sums this film up - a wasted opportunity, a film that aims at greatness but falls short.

  • Halloween
  • Halloween 2
  • Halloween 4: Return of Michael Myers
  • Halloween 5
  • Halloween 6: Curse of Michael Myers
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  • Princess Bride

    This is a wonderful fairy tale, written by William Goldman and directed by Rob Reiner . The Story is narrated by Peter Falk [Columbo] as he tells it to his young grandson.

    A young woman [ Robin Wright ] is engaged to be married to Prince Humperdink [Chris Sarandon - Fright Night ]. She is kidnapped by the Sicilian [Wallace Shawn - Star Trek: DS9 ], the Spaniard [Mandy Patinkin - Chicago Hope] and the Giant [Andre the Giant]. They wish to frame the neighbouring country of Guilder, and thus start a war.

    The kidnappers are pursued by Dread Pirate Roberts [Cary Elwes - Robin Hood: Men In Tights ]. Can he win the Princess Bride from both her captors and her fiance?

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  • Drive

    A Martial Arts Expert [Mark Dacascos - The Crow: Stairway To heaven ] is in California, on the run from redneck assassins working for the PRC. Apparently he made a deal with the government of post-1997 Hong Kong, and had a biotech gadget inserted in his chest. The gadget is more or less just a plot device. However, since this film was released in 1996, it should be considered to be somewhat futuristic.

    Dacascos gets handcuffed to the Token Black Guy [Kadeem Hardison]. They go on the run together, to make the deal and sell the gadget. The film is more or less a series of action set-pieces, interrupted by an encounter with the apparently mentally unbalanced Brittany Murphy .

    The biotech gadget is not merely a McGuffin - it provides an excuse for Dacascos to display incredible martial arts skills. It boots his speed, strength, stamina and agility to the extent that he can regularly defeat multiple opponents in hand-to-hand combat. The scenes are very well done, and Dacascos himself appears to do some of the acrobatics himself rather than let the stunt double do all the work.

    Another scifi hint, the climax takes place in a nightclub named Apollo 14. The villains call in a specialist - an assassin fitted with an even more advanced model of the biotech gadget!

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  • Rob Roy

    This came out the same year as that other pile of Scots Nationalist cliches, Braveheart . The fact that this film, with an experienced director [ Michael Caton-Jones ] and Oscar-winner Liam Neeson [ ] up front, was the less successful of the two speaks for itself.

    Rob Roy [Neeson] is a cheery highlands clansman, looking after wife Jessica Lange and his clan of ragged highlanders. They make a dodgy deal with the local aristocrat [John Hurt - Alien ], but it goes sour when Hurt's assistant [Brian Cox - Manhunter ] and nephew [Tim Roth - Reservoir Dogs] decide to help themselves. Hurt sends his red-coated forces out to track down Rob Roy ...

    Neeson, bearded and long-haired, is reminiscent of his later role in Phantom Menace . The final duel, against a smaller and more skillful opponent, is nowhere near as fluid as the Star Wars one - but it lets you think how good Darth Maul could have been if he had been given more lines!

    Another problem with the film is that it is too episodic. We see a series of events, based quite loosely on actual events, but connected at times only by a slender thread.

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