ORBzine - Movie Reviews August 2005

Forever Young

1939, California, and 32-year-old USAAF pilot Mel Gibson [ Mad Max ] is frozen in a cryogenics experiment. Unfortunately the experiment goes wrong, and everyone who knows about it is killed.

53 years later, Gibson is accidentally defrosted by Elijah Wood [ Faculty, Lord of the Rings ]. He ends up staying at the boy's home, keeping company with the lonely mother [ Jamie Lee Curtis ].

This is a lighthearted little drama, the Fish out of water being the Thirties man in 1992. But it's also an unusual form of time-travel film.

They even shoe-horned in a lukewarm and gratuitous subplot, involving the FBI [as in Splash, ET, whatever. Joe Morton [ Terminator 2 ] is the US Govt scientist in charge.

  • Search This Site
  • Tommy

    This is Ken Russell 's famous rock-opera from the 1970s.

    It starts in WW2, and RAF bomber pilot Robert Powell [ Jesus of Nazareth ] goes off to fight. Ann-Margaret is left alone to raise their son, Tommy. She remarries, to Oliver Reed [ Gladiator ].

    By the time Tommy has grown up to be played by Roger Daltrey [ Highlander: TV series ] he is psychosomatically deaf, dumb and blind. To compensate for this he is the ultimate pinball player!

  • Search This Site
  • Lathe of Heaven

    It's a neat-future America, in a state of medical paranoia due to an outbreak of plague in Europe. Lukas Haas [ Space Camp ] is trying to live without sleep, because he thinks his dreams alter the fabric of reality. As a result, the courts order him to see psychotherapist James Caan [ Misery ].

    Caan, using technology he's developed, tries to alter reality to suit himself. Haas' lawyer-cum-love interest, Lisa Bonet , may be the one who can save him.

  • Search This Site
  • Amityville Horror (1979)

    In a remote house in America, someone goes crazy and kills his entire family. A year later James Brolin [ ] and Margot Kidder decide to buy the house and live there.

  • Amityville Horror 2005
  • Search This Site
  • Helen of Troy

    1955 Technicolour swords-and-sandals epic from Warner Bros. Paris is the protagonist. Against the counsel of Robert Brown [M in the Bond films] and Cassandra [who must have geniuine clairvoyance, despite the absense of the Gods] he goes on a peace mission to Sparta.

    The Greeks want revenge. Achilles [Stanley Baker - Where's Jack? ] is selected to lead their army.

    We get a great 1950s technicolour battle, with hundreds of extras instead of relying on CGI. Excellent!

  • Troy
  • Search This Site
  • How to make a monster

    Computer software company executive Colleen Camp hires a bunch of oddballs to design a monster for her new First Person Shooter. She offers a million-dollar bonus to the one who meets the deadline. However, all this does is set the programmers against each other. The only thing they co-operate on is paying Julie Strain to jiggle topless in the motion-capture suit.

    The programmers are a geek, a biker and an angry black man. Their manager is a a suit-wearing executive type, layed by Stephen Culp [J.A.G., Desperate Housewives]. The intern, Clea DuVall , is the only average one out of the group.

    Unfortunately a power surge causes the monster to come alive and hunt them all down. That's all this really is - a predictable stalk-and-slash flick. It's light-hearted and very self-knowing, as the Julie Strain scene implies. The characters are stereotypes, but ultimately we don't mind. The film isn't kept back by its cheap and cheerful roots - the monster itself is worthy of Stan Winston, who [like Ms Camp] was a Producer on the film.

  • Search This Site
  • Affair of the Necklace, The

    Set in the France of the 1780s, this is narrated by Royal flunky Brian Cox [ Manhunter, The Ring ]. He tells of a young countess [ Hilary Swank ] who is left destitute and married to a whoremonger [Adrien Brody - The Village ].

    Our heroine, with the assistance of Illuminati leader Christopher Walken [ Batman Returns ] tries to hoodwink murderous Cardinal Jonathan Pryce [ Tomorrow Never Dies ] out of a priceless necklace destined for Queen Marie Antoinette [ Joely Richardson ].

  • Search This Site
  • Fairy Tale: A True Story

    England, before the Second World War. A couple of young girls claim to have seen fairies at the bottom of their garden.

    Harvey Keitel [ Saturn 3 ] pops up as Harry Houdini. Ironic, since Houdini's real name was Herr Weiss ... Mister White!

  • 2000
  • Search This Site
  • Bats

    Lou Diamond Philips [ Wolf Lake ] is a sheriff in small-town USA, suddenly dset by a plague of large bats. He is helped by a lady scientist, Dina Meyer - who looks good when she plays a grown woman, not a teenager like she did in her previous film [ Starship Troopers ].

    The problem with this is, like all monster movies, it depends on the monsters to be scary and convincing. The Bats, the title characters, are unconvincing litle ruber-headed things. They're smaller than Gremlins and don't have claws - in other words, they're less threatening than the average house-cat.

    The film is a hash of cliches and a few familiar faces. In an uncredited cameo, Brad Dourif pops up as a sleazoid Government creep responsible for creating the monsters - not entirely different from the role he played in Alien: Resurrection .

    The climax fulfills all the standads of the genre. All in all ... This is the kind of film that Eight-Legged Freaks mocked so perfectly and yet also totaly out-did!

  • Search This Site
  • Thirteenth Floor, The

    Craig Bierko [Long Kiss Goodnight] and Vincent D'Onofrio [ Men in Black, Whole Wide World ] explore a virtual reality world. But where does VR end and reality begin?

  • Search This Site
  • Truman Show, The

    This is a product of the late 1990s, a sophisticated parody on a particular television phenomenon that was just emerging. The original marketing campaign ruined the twist, but watching the film over half a decade on, the freshness makes it quite impressive.

    Truman [Jim Carey - Batman Forever, Big Fat Liar, Lemony Snickett ] lives in suburban America. He's a cheery sod with a perfect life. Too perfect. He never questions this until one day, he sees his long-dead father in a crows ...

    Peter Weir has delivered some great work in the past, most notably his debut feature Picnic at Hanging Rock . With subtle references to The Prisoner and the works of Philip K. Dick , this really makes us question the nature of reality.

    Natascha McElhone pops up as a well-intentioned helper who wants to show Truman

  • Search This Site
  • Spaceman and King Arthur, The

    This is typical Disney fare from the 1970s. Released in 1979 it feels older, but was one of the early post- Star Wars boom of Sci-Fi films. It was released as Unidentified Flying Oddball in the USA - probably an early example of dumbing down for American audiences.

    Nerdy scientist Tom Trimble [Dennis Dugan - The Howling ] gets trapped on a space shuttle which gets sucked into a time-warp and goes back to the time of King Arthur [Kenneth More]. Yes, Twain's Conneticutt Yankee at the Court of King Arthur gets another revamp.

    Trimble is the victin of plotting by the evil Merlin [Ron Moody] and Mordred [Jim Dale - Carry on Columbus ]. However, since they're from the Dark Ages and he's literally a Rocket Scientist, he can use materials from his space-ship to MacGuyver up some gadgets. If anything, he's too good at building things - the robot he makes develops artificial intelligence and becomes afraid. It even tries to steal the love interest from him!

  • Search This Site