ORBzine - January 2006 Movie Reviews

Sweeney Todd (2005)

Sweeney Todd This is a feature-length period drama, made in Rumania for BBC1. The main cast are all English, of course. The title character is Ray Winstone [ Robin of Sherwood ], and Mr Fielding the Magistrate is played by none other than David Warner [ Time Bandits ].

The story is simply a re-telling of the true-life tale of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Todd lived in London in the 1700s, and had a tendency to cut his customers' throats and bake their flesh into pies.

Gruesome as the facts are, this version actually plays upon his relationship with the woman who ran the pie-shop. In other words, it is played as a love story, not a gory horror-fest. Would a modern-day serial-killer have been treated so sympathetically? One scene mimics Psycho , with Todd cast as the voyeuristic Norman Bates. A pity the rest of the film didn't face Todd's monstreous nature so well.

Todd is underplayed by Winstone, who has been spectacular in everything else he has appeared in. This lacklustre performance is just one more disappointment.

  • Search This Site
  • Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins AKA Unarmed and Dangerous

    remo williams A NYPD cop [Fred Ward - ] is kidnapped and conscripted as a hitman for a secret US Govt Agency. He is trained in the mythical art of Sinanju by Master Chiun [Joel Grey - Buffy Season 5 ].

    The villain, a corrupt Billionaire in the US Military-Industrial complex, is also under investigation by US Army officer Kate Mulgrew .

    This is an adaption of a series of paperback novels, Remo: The Destroyer. It's not entirely true to the original, but the spirit is close enough. Perhaps that's why it flopped at the box-office. It's too tongue-in-cheek to be a thriller, but not all-out enough to succeed as a comedy.

  • Search This Site
  • Jason X

    Jason X Yet another Jason film. Sean S Cunningham Produced this, leaving the directing to an unknown underling. It comes between The Final Friday and Jason vs Freddy , both of which use supernatural explanations for Jason's powers. There's no point in trying to work out a proper chronology, it's almost as complex as the Halloween films.

    Jason [Kane Hodder] is a prisoner in Crystal Lake Research Centre, run by Lexa Doig . Her boss David Cronenberg tries to transport Jason, but naturally the maniac escapes. Probably using the teleportation skill he developed in Jason Takes Manhattan . Anyhow, he slaughters everyone. Lexa manages to cryogenically freeze him, and herself ...

    455 years later the 2 corpsicles are recovered by archaeology students, including attractive robot Lisa Ryder . They are taken to a spaceship [Earth is uninhabited], and Lexa is revived by nanites.

    Naturally, Jason slaughters everyone. The ship has guards - who are picked off one by one in an inferior homage to Aliens . Then he goes after Lexa and the students ...

    This is actually one of the better films in the series. The budget is reasonable, as shown by the SPFX and the acting. The script itself is quite self-knowing, with references and joky lines. However, there is one major plot hole. Since unbelievable injuries can be healed by nanites, a murderer like Jason isn't really that scary any more!

  • Friday the Thirteenth
  • Search This Site
  • Fisher King

    Fisher King Terry Gilliam delivers a somewhat serious work. It's Arthurian, but that's all it shares with Monty Python's Camelot .

    A NYC Radio shock-jock [Jeff Bridges - Starman, King Kong ] is inadvertantly responsible for a massacre. A few years later, with his life destroyed, he encounters survivor Robin Williams [ Dead Again ], driven insane by the carnage. Williams thinks he is the Fisher King, and halucinates that he is on a quest to find the Holy Grail. In New York City, of course.

    Mercedes Reuhl is Bridges stressed-out girlfriend, while Amanda Plummer is the shy girl that Williams takes a romantic interest in.

  • Search This Site
  • Lost Horizon

    Lost Horizon A group of Westerners take a DC-3 out of Tibet. They're all 1970s stars like Peter Finch, Michael York, George Kennedy and Sally Kellerman . Unfortunately the plane is diverted, and crash-lands in the mountains. They are rescued and taken to a secluded paradise, a valley known as Shangri-La. It is ruled by the likes of John Gielgud and Alastair Simm. But there's actually a plot reason for putting these blatant Caucasians in the mix!

    This is the second adaption of the 1930s novel. It has the dubious distincion of being a half-hearted musical!

  • Search This Site
  • Quo Vadis

    Soon Emperor Nero [Peter Ustinov] presides over ancient Rome.

    A rather boring General [Robert Taylor] falls for a spoilt rich girl. The wicked, selfish girl is part of a secretive conspiracy, the Xians. These fish-worshippers seek to overthrow the government.

    This is a swords-and-sandals epic of the 1950s, with the era's typical sympathy towards the Xians' morality.

  • Search This Site
  • Replicant

    Replicant Michael Rooker is a cliched tough-guy cop, a gun-toting detective after serial-killer Jean-Claude Van Damme. Kicked off the Force he is then hired by a secret US Government Agency. The Agency has grown a clone of Van Damme, a Replicant, who has the same natural instincts as the killer. The idea being, send out the clone [with Rooker holding the leash] and he should lead them directly tho the killer.

    The most shocking thing about this film is, of course, Van Damme. He's GOOD! He holds his own against Michael Henry , Portrait of a Serial Killer Rooker, and that's no mean thing to say about a Belgian ballet-dancer!

    The action stuff is also well-directed. After all, that is what most people watch Van Damme films for.

  • Search This Site
  • Fist of the North Star

    Fist of the North Star The Lord of Southern Cross [Costas Mandylor] kills Northern Star [Malcolm McDowell - Clockwork Orange, Star Trek: Generations, Tank Girl ] and declares himself Evil Overlord.

    Ten years later, McDowell's son Ken-Shiro [Australian Kickboxer Gary Daniels] goes on a revenge rampage. Not at the sight of his zombified father, that is, but when he find out that his ex is now shacked up with the villain.

    Ken treks across a post-apocalyptic wasteland, encountering Melvin van Peebles. He fights off the villainous biker militia, who conveniently only attack one at a time, and don't like using guns.

    This is a 1995 live-action version of one of the worst Anime sories ever. But at least it's in English, rather than an awkward dubbing over Japanese.

  • Search This Site
  • Locust

    Lucy Lawless is head of the US Agricultural Science ... whatever.

    John Heard [ Cat People (1981) ] breeds super-locusts that are immune to DDT. They live 3 times longer and breed 4 times faster than normal locusts. But like all proper mad scientsist, he actually did it with innocent intent!

    Predictably, the locusts escape and eat everything that moves. And anything that doesn't move. Lucy and Heard must find a peaceful way to destroy the swarms, before the US military do something stupid.

  • Search This Site