ORBzine - Movie Reviews - August 1999


This is often felt to be the worst of the Bond films, because of factors such as Roger Moore and a cliched plot that stretches the Bond formula to rip off Star Wars . However, the film is not a complete loss. Hugo Drax [Michel Lonsdale] is a chilling villain, and the reappearance of Jaws from the previous film, The Spy Who Loved Me , brings a certain continuity to the series.

Nice SF-reference touches are the hunting call ( 2001 ) and the security keypad tune ( Close Encounters ).

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  • Virtuosity

    This is a web of cliches spun out with some great SPFX and a few interesting twists.

    In the near future, an Artificial Intelligence is created. The designer fed in the personalities of hundreds of serial killers, and let the AI develop its own personality as they kill each other off. The end result looks just like Russell Crowe from LA Confidential and is used to train cops in a VR environment. However, the AI does not want to stay trapped in VR - he hijacks a new robot body composed of nanites [like a T1000 it is practically indestructible] and goes on a killing spree.

    The city has an entire police force full of trained professionals and seasoned experts, but apparently the only cop good enough to solve the case is Parkes [Denzil Washington] who has been in jail for the past few years after he was found guilty of mass murder. Oh well.

    The AI's main personality is based on the terrorist who kidnapped Parkes' wife and daughter, which led to their death and Parkes' incarceration. Yes, he cannot just chase the villain to get his freedom or earn a living, the hero has to have a personal revenge stake in the plot. Yawn.

    By another amazing coincidence in the cliche stakes, Parkes' new female partner just happens to have a pre-teen daughter; what will you bet that the daughter gets kidnapped by the AI?

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  • Addams Family Values

    This is a great follow-up to the original - Christina Ricci is an incredible actress, and this reviewer cannot wait to see her in The Opposite of Sex.

    Festus (Christopher Lloyd - Back To The Future ) is targeted by a husband-killing gold-digger. Meanwhile, the Addams kids are sent to a Summer Camp run by Mary-Ann from Cybill. Mercedes McNabb is one of the other children, and the main rival of Wednesday Addams.

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  • No Escape

    This has pretty much the same plot as Mad Max 2: Road Warrior, Escape from New York, Waterworld . The hero (Ray Liotta - Goodfellas) is an outsider who finds himself in a desolate wasteland, caught between a peaceful tribe and a gang of unruly thugs. This time the main villain is Stuart Wilson (Lethal Weapon 3) who for some reason is dressed as Frank Langella in a Klingon outfit.

    The peaceful tribe is led by Lance Hendriksen ( Aliens ) and includes Jack Sheppard (Blue Ice).

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  • How to Steal The World

    The Men From U.N.C.L.E., Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn - Superman 3 ) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum - The Invisible Man ) fight a secret conspiracy called T.H.R.U.S.H.

    This is notable because, unlike other Man from UNCLE films, they actually have a pretty decent budget for a change. The plot is about a secret conspiracy to brainwash the population of Earth with a new nerve gas. The cast includes Leslie Nielsen in one of his few post- Forbidden Planet , pre-Police Squad roles.

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  • Somewhere in Time

    This sees another man travel back in time to conduct a love affair. This time it is Christopher Reeve, fresh from Superman who goes to romance Jane Seymour who plays an Edwardian actress. In other words, she is the same Jane Seymour she has always been.

    This film was released in 1980, four years before Terminator , and is obviously the place James Cameron got the photograph idea from. It also tells of a doomed love between an English lady and a young American man, told in a glorious Edwardian setting of 1912. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

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  • Time Cop

    This is that rare thing - a good Van Damme movie! The director ( Peter Hyams ), the cast ( Mia Sara , Bruce McGill, Ron Silver) and the budget certainly do not hurt! The SPFX are excellent - one can hardly tell they are the product of ancient 1994 technology! :)

    In 1994, USA discovered time travel and set up a police force to ensure nobody changed the past. The Time Cops are run by a corrupt politician (Ron Silver - Lifepod ) and an honest cop (Bruce McGill - Quantum Leap ), and their first recruit is Mr Van Damme.

    Van Damme is victim of an attack by unknown thugs who kill his wife. This somewhat screws him up mentally, and small wonder. His wife is Mia Sara, the young girl from Legend who has since become a woman! Ten years later, poor JCVD still pines for her massive funbags in 2004 - in other words he is the cliched macho loner cop.

    The plot culminates with a rerun of the attack which kills his wife - but this time 2004 JCVD helps save 1994 JCVD and Mia. Unlike most action movies, this one avoids the cliched shootout in a hi-tech maze; the family house (wooden, three storeys) does just fine. Pouring rain, great cinematography and (in the case of the main villain's death) incredible SPFX all play their part.

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  • Twogether

    This is a babe-fix for those suffering from American Gothic withdrawl. Brenda Bakke ... mmm!

    She has a dirty weekend with Nick Cassavettes ( Face Off ), and they wake up married. The next time they get drunk together is to celebrate their divorce, and she wakes up divorced but pregnant.

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  • Superman 3

    This is regarded by many as the weakest of the series, no doubt because of the absense of Gene Hackman ( The Invaders ) as Lex Luthor. However, the supporting cast is incredible - Robert Vaughn ( How To Steal The World ) as the villain, Annette O'Toole as love interest Lana Lang, Richard Pryor as comic relief.

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  • Twilight Zone: The Movie

    This is the 1983 feature-length adaption of the Rod Serling series.

  • John Landis sees Vic Morrow as a man with a chip on his shoulder - he hates Jews and Blacks, then finds himself hunted by Nazis and the KKK.
  • Steven Spielberg gives us a retelling of Peter Pan, with Scatman Crothers in the Robin Williams role (yes, Spielberg did Hook too, remember?). Methinks this is where they got the idea for Cocoon from.
  • Joe Dante lets us see a world where a young boy can make his wishes come true - fun for the boy, but hell for everyone else!

    Believe it or not, one of the guys in the bar at the start is Bill Mumy, formerly of Lost in Space and more recently from Babylon 5.

  • George Miller shows John Lithgow ( 3rd Rock from the Sun ) as a man afraid of flying, on a plane in a thunderstorm with a gremlin on the wing tearing the engines to pieces.

    The second two tales are written by Richard Matheson, a contributor to the original series, and they are far better than the first two!

    Think of it this way; the Simpsons Halloween special did parodies of the two Matheson stories, but never dreamt of touching the other tales. What better indicator can you have as to whether something is part of popular culture?

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  • Twelve Monkeys

    This is an excellent film, based on a short French award-winning work. Bruce Willis ( The Fifth Element ) goes back in time to get a pure sample of the virus that destroyed the vast majority of the human race. He finds himself in a lunatic asylum under the care of Madeline Stowe , and in the company of Brad Pitt ( Fight Club ). The plot deepens when it turns out Pitt may have been responsible for the armageddon virus ...

    Willis is his Pulp Fiction character, the brutal yet sympathetic underdog, but the real revelation about this flick is Pitt. Yes, he is not just a pretty face. Well, in this reviewer's opinion he is not EVEN a pretty face but that is irrelevant. What matters is, after all the films he has smirked his way through, now he has shown what he can do. And it is quite watchable, too.

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  • The Shining

    This should be thought of as Stanley Kubrick movie rather than a Stephen King one; the author denounced it in favour of the more recent made-for-TV remake. However, even compared to other Kubrick films this is a masterpiece!

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  • The Curious Doctor Hump

    This is a B&W exploitation B-Movie about a mad scientist who wants to develop the ultimate aphrodisiac. To do this he has a mutated monster kidnap lots of 20-somethings engaged in various forms of sexual activity; lesbianism, 2 girls 1 guy, female masturbation ... you know, the usual.

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  • Clash of the Titans

    This may look dated now, with CGI SPFX the flavour of the day, but back in 1981 when it was first released it was state of the art. This is Ray Harryhausen's last movie before he retired, and this author prefers the solid-looking stop-motion work to the blocky digitized crap so popular today.

    The film is pretty much Jason of the Argonauts with an all-star supporting cast, although the 2 lead roles were cast to unknowns. The hero Perseus is played by Harry Hamlin, a nobody who later made it big in the TV show L.A. Law. The Princess is Judi Bowker, who never followed up her great success as lead in this movie.

    Zeus is none other than (Sir) Laurence Olivier, and his wicked wife is (Dame) Maggie Smith from the Harry Potter movies. Sian Philips is the Queen, and Burgess Meredith ( ) is the compulsory wise mentor type.

    This is the sort of Hollywood approach to ancient legends that laid the groundwork for Hercules & Xena over a decade later. Notable is the robotic owl - not part of the Greek myths, just put in as a sort of substitute R2D2!!!

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