ORBzine - Movie Reviews - September 2005

The Cave

A bunch of explorers go to a cave system beneath a chapel in the Carpathian mountains. Apparently the chapel was built to stop demons escaping from the caves, but nobody takes that old legend seriously. Obviously they've never seen The Keep .

Later another team of explorers appears on the scene. They're a bunch of generic, interchangeable American jocks. The exception is Daniel Dae Kim, who can also draw on his survivalist experience from that island in Lost ! Also, there are some beauuuutiful laaaadies for us to look at - Piper Perabo and Lena Headey .

The team head into the caves, get trapped, and have a few days to escape before their oxygen runs out. Predictable enough. Of course, there is a species of unknown albino monster living in the caves. They get picked off one by one. Predictable enough.

Viewing this, two things become apparent. Firstly, despite its pretensions, whoever directed this, it certainly wasn't John Boorman or Ridley Scott . It wasn't even Stephen Somers . Secondly, Spanish subtitles translate distances in miles into distances in kilometres!

Alien was pitched as Jaws in Space. This, if anything, is Alien under water. It's the strait-laced kind of film that Somers took a more light-hearted look at in Deep Rising . It doesn't even have the group-stress-dynamic of Blair Witch Project .

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  • Fantastic Voyage

    This is a 1960s Cold War thriller with a difference. It starts easily enough. A US Secret Agent helps a defector get to safety ... or tries to, at least. The defector is left in the ICU, a deadly blood-clot lodged in his brain.

    Luckily, help is at hand. With the help of 1960s SPFX, a submarine is shrunk and sent into the patient's body. The crew? Our heroic square-jawed Secret Agent, of course. The babe quotien is provided by Raquel Welch - though her hair is less eye-catching than usual, and she's in a wetsuit rather than a bikini. Pity!

    Also, Donald Pleasance [ Halloween, You Only Live Twice ] is along for the ride. Hmm. I wonder who the commie infiltrator could be?

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  • Casino Royale (1960s)

    This is the mother of all 1960s Spy Spoofs. Originally intended as a straightforward comedy, it developed problems when the temperamental Peter Sellars fell out with his co-star, Orson Welles. From then on it spiraled out of control - the plot taking on a few confusing twists, and several directors taking a turn in charge of it.

    Sir James Bond [David Niven] is brought out of retirement. He must seduce a rich widow [ Deborah Kerr ] for info.

    The second part of the film features Peter Sellars [ Dr Strangelove ], helped by Ursula Andress , passing himself off as James Bond to fool Le Chiffre [ Orson Welles ]. Of note is a seduction scene by an actress credited as Jacky Bisset , later to become famous as Jacqueline!

    The final section of the film features Bond's nephew, Jimmy [ Woody Allen ]. Oh, and Bond's daughter [by Mata Hari - who died in 1917, so the daughter looks 25 when she should be 50!] has a role too!

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  • Piranha

    Heather Menzies is a skip-tracer hired to hunt down a pair of horny teenagers who went MIA while camping in the boonies. With the help of a local square-jawed redneck loner type, she traces them to a remote disused US Army genetic experimentation facility. In order to search for bodies, she drains the main water tank ...

    Mad scientist Bradford Dillman [ Bodysnatchers ] pops up to tell them that they've just released a horde of piranha into the river. They're genetically-engineered to be able to survive in the ocean, and on their way downstream they'll eat lots of people!

    Joe Dante gives us a post- Jaws horror, much more knowing and light-hearted. Not to mention low-budget. The tiny piece of cheesy stop-motion at the start has no relevance to the plot, but foreshadows Dante's later horror-comedy, Gremlins !

  • Piranha 2: Flying Killers (AKA The Swarming)
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  • Supernova

    A rescue spaceship with a crew of familiar-looking actors heads off into distant nowhere to answer a distress call. When they get there, all is not what it seems. Worse, they have to escape before a big explosion destroys everything!

    If this sounds familiar, it's because the plot itself is generic enough. Worse, the specific setting and so on was also used in the far superior Event Horizon , which came out about the same time.

    What's wrong with the film? Apart from being generic, unoriginal and so on? Well, the budget is certainly big enough. The SPFX are extremely impressive, though in this kind of movie they usually are. The cast? The rescue team consists of a bunch of very capable performers - James Spader [ Wolf ], Robert Forster [Jackie Brown], Angela Bassett, Robin Tunney and Lou Diamond Philips [The Big Hit]. The least experienced actor is the fellow they're trying to rescue, who later became the white guy in style-over-substance TV cop show Fastlane.

    What about the director? Who is this Thomas Lee guy anyway? Well, it turns out that the name is now being usend instead of Alan Smithee! Yes, this film was passed about by a number of famous, successful directors such as Walter Hill , but in the end none of them wanted to put their name to it. It's a multi-million dollar ship without a rudder.

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