Tag Archives: 1981

For Your Eyes Only (1981) Review

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For Your Eyes Only

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Roger Moore as James Bond
Carole Bouquet as Melina Havelock
Topol as Milos Columbo
Lynn-Holly Johnson as Bibi Dahl
Julian Glover as Aristotle Kristatos
Director: John Glen

After a British information-gathering vessel gets sunk into the sea, Agent 007 (James Bond) is given the responsibility of locating the lost encryption device and thwarting it from entering inimical hands.

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The later era Roger Moore movies are probably the James Bond films that I remembered the least. After Bond reached its peak silliness with Moonraker, I was wondering what they were going to do next with the follow up film, For Your Eyes Only. I actually liked it quite a lot, and its one of my favourite Moore-era Bond films.

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For Your Eyes Only is actually recognised as the most serious of the Roger Moore Bond movies. After the over the top nature of Moonraker, Bond goes back to basics with the next film. Even the gadgetry is reduced, making Bond feel more vulnerable and the story comparatively grounded. The campiness is definitely downplayed, it still has the humour, one-liners and double entendres that you would expect from the Moore Bond films. It also has a fair amount of absurdity, including a moment where Bond faces off against hockey goons. Plotwise, For Your Eyes Only is an occasionally complicated but otherwise straightforward cold war era spy thriller about Bond having to find a sunken ship. The mission isn’t constantly riveting from beginning to end, and it does have some convoluted twists and turns which can halt the pacing a little. However, it is consistently strong in the second half, and on the whole I liked the story. I particularly admire that this is a Bond film where you really have to pay attention to what’s happening. In terms of other issues, the ones that stand out in my mind are strangely the first and last scenes of the film. The opening is a very random scene where Bond encounters a bald man in a wheelchair with a white cat who isn’t officially called Blofeld but is definitely meant to be Blofeld. Its absurdly silly and funny particularly with the dialogue but unless you understand the reason why this scene was included in the movie, it won’t make sense at all. As for the final scene, it involves a talking parrot, yet the most bizarre choice was a cameo by one Margaret Thatcher, which I think it really could’ve done without.

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Roger Moore is reliably great as James Bond once again, even if he’s starting to really look his age. It is a strong contender for his best appearance as the character. Bond in this movie was surprisingly ruthless, and while The Man with the Golden Gun had those moments, For Your Eyes Only really showed that Moore could pull it off (even if he’s not such a fan of that interpretation of the character). Carole Bouquet is the main Bond girl named Melina Havelock, and I liked her. She has her own motivation that happens to cross over into Bond’s mission as she’s on a quest for revenge after her parents are killed. Age difference aside, the chemistry between Moore and Bouquet is believable, and the romance itself is naturally developed and less forced than some of the other Bond romances. One of the stand out actors in this movie was Topol as a Bond ally named Milos Columbo, who is entertaining and great in all of his scenes. On the flip side you have Lynn-Holly Johnson who’s a young ice skater named Bibi Conti. She was a bit irritating but it is made worse when she is really into Bond and comes onto him a couple times despite looking way too young. Thankfully the 54 year old Roger Moore doesn’t actually bed her in the movie, but she’s nonetheless a bizarre and pointless addition to the film. Julian Glover is essentially the villain as a Greek businessman named Aristotle Kristatos. I like him as an actor and he’s certainly done well at villainous roles many times. However he’s a rather unremarkable villain even though I appreciate him being a more grounded character, especially after the last two movies having villains who were plotting to destroy humanity and create their own society. Overall he was an okay villain but not that memorable.

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John Glen, who was the editor on some of the previous Bond movies, is the director here. He’s done a really good job, and it’s solid on a technical level. It’s a very well shot movie, For Your Eyes Only is a globetrotting Bond film and it makes great use of the locations. The action is particularly where the film shines. There’s a diverse range of action with a fun car chase in the countryside, a chase on skis involving motorcycles and bobsleds, and more. The highlight was a very tense scene in which Bond is rock climbing on a cliff that’s still impressive to this day. The only scene which didn’t work for me was an extensive underwater scene, its just slow and dull to watch. I liked the soundtrack of the movie, from the score from Bill Conti to the title song from Sheena Easton.

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I wouldn’t say that For Your Eyes Only is one of the best James Bond movies, on the franchise on the whole it’s a middling entry. However I liked it a lot overall, from the very strong action, to the more serious and grounded approach and story. It is probably my favourite movie of the Roger Moore era after The Spy Who Loved Me. A rather underrated film that’s worth another look.

Scanners (1981) Review

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Scanners

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Horror scenes and violence
Cast:
Stephen Lack as Cameron Vale
Jennifer O’Neill as Kim Obrist
Patrick McGoohan as Dr. Paul Ruth
Lawrence Dane as Braedon Keller
Michael Ironside as Darryl Revok
Director: David Cronenberg

Dr Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) finds Vale (Stephen Lack), a powerful scanner, and uses him to stop Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside), another powerful scanner who wants to form an alliance with others of his kind and dominate the world.

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I only knew a little bit about Scanners going in, just that it was another horror movie from David Cronenberg, and is the source of a certain famous head explosion scene. Honestly, I was quite surprised by the movie. It for sure has its problems but it was very entertaining.

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Cronenberg takes the time to establish this universe about Scanners, which are basically powerful telepaths. At its core, it is a corporate espionage film that happens to involve telepaths at the centre of it. It’s more of a sci-fi film than a horror movie, though I think it has enough horror elements that it can still be classified as such. It is entertaining and I was pretty interested throughout, although there were some moments across its 100 minute runtime that did lose me and I wasn’t as invested. The script doesn’t feel quite polished, it also feels very run of the mill, especially considering Cronenberg’s standards. This concept and blending of story elements was ahead of its time for sure, but I feel like it could’ve been better and explored further (not that I’m asking for a remake or anything). Now there is an exposition dump right at the end of the movie, while I usually don’t like exposition dumps in movies, I was alright with it here, although there was also some reveal in that act which I found rather pointless. On the whole though, I thought that the movie really shined in the climax.

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The weakest part of the movie was the characters and the actors. Stephen Lack plays the lead character and he was the weakest link in the cast. At times he gets away with it with such an intense stare when it comes to doing ‘scanning’, he seemed to have been deliberately chosen for this role for this reason. However he seems to suffer outside of those moments which don’t utilise that, especially when it comes to delivering lots of lines, his performance is quite bland and forgettable to say the least. Jennifer O’Neill gets the highest billing of the cast. She is introduced in the second act, her performance is alright but nothing special, she really doesn’t do much. Patrick McGoohan plays a doctor, essentially he is just there to give a lot of exposition throughout but he still works well even in that role. Michael Ironside is the standout in the cast and the movie as the villain. He really rides the line of being campy and over the top but still works out quite well, and was a very entertaining presence.

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David Cronenberg directs this well as to be expected. The body horror is there (Cronenberg also did that with The Fly and The Brood), though I was hoping for a little more horror than what was in the final film. The use of practical effects were great and creative, especially with the way that Cronenberg decided to portray telepathy in this movie. The aforementioned head explosion scene is still impressive to this day (if very over the top), though unfortunately there’s only one head that explodes in the movie. However thankfully it isn’t where the movie peaks with the impressive effects, there’s still a lot of other outstanding moments later in the movie. Howard Shore’s score is great and really works for this movie.

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Despite some issues, such as the so-so characters and acting (aside from Michael Ironside), Scanners is quite good. Cronenberg’s direction definitely elevated it, the script had me interested enough in what was happening, it’s well made and it was quite entertaining. Check it out, especially if you are a Cronenberg fan who hasn’t gotten around to this movie yet.

Halloween II (1981) Review

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Halloween 2 1981

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Director: Rick Rosenthal

After Doctor Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence) shoots Michael Myers size times and falls off a balcony, Michael escapes and continues his massacre in Haddonfield. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is also sent to the hospital and Dr Loomis gathers a group of police officers to hunt down Michael and put an end to his murderous rampage.

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I have watched some of the Halloween movies, I had seen the original, I had seen the recent follow up to it, and I had seen the reboot movies from Rob Zombie. However, I had never checked out Halloween 2 from the 80s, the original follow up to the original movie. Even though the current series continuity is going down a different direction (with Halloween 2018 onwards), I did want to check it out. It’s definitely not as good as the first movie and has a ton of problems, but it does have some decent moments.

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With Halloween 2, you really get the feeling that the sequel was made only because the original was successful. It does aim to be a second half to the first Halloween movie instead of a sequel, as it picks off right as the first movie ended. There are opportunities for Halloween 2 to show the effects of the last movie, as the town is shown to react in disorder and mayhem after the massacre. The hospital is also a classic horror and slasher setting, and works for this movie for some horror moments. On the whole though, it is a very by the numbers slasher. Also, it feels in many ways different to the first movie (despite trying to be a part 2 instead of a sequel), being over the top, less serious, and not as creepy or atmospheric. There are also some leaps in logic, whereas the first movie seemed somewhat grounded in comparison (invincible bogeyman aside). There is also a reveal added into the story that felt unnecessary, not to mention, it feels really forced. To the movie’s credit, Halloween 2 does try to actually end the storyline, with no hints at a sequel. Although of course it would continue with numerous sequels.

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Donald Pleasence is really good as Dr Loomis once again, especially as he’s under more stress and pressure after finding out that Michael Myers is still alive despite shooting him 6 times at the end of the last movie. Jamie Lee Curtis gives it her all as Laurie Strode but she doesn’t get much to do in this movie aside from be unconscious for half her screentime, and limp and run away for the remaining half. Everyone else just felt like bodies for Michael Myers to slaughter, you don’t care for any of them and some of their actions are rather dumb, it’s like they might as well be in a Friday the 13th movie.

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It isn’t Halloween 1 director John Carpenter directing this time, instead it is Rick Rosenthal. Still, Carpenter and Halloween 1 writer Debra Hill were closely involved as producers and writers. I found some of the direction to be a mixed bag. John Carpenter wanted to go insane with the over the top violence and bloody that was popular in the 80s (which explains the blood compared to the first movie). Rosenthal wanted to keep the film similar in tone to the first movie so it felt like a continuation. However his direction just wasn’t on that same level for it to work as well. It does utilise some of the familiar and successful aspects from the original, especially in terms of the overall look. Unfortunately, it doesn’t manage to create the same real tension, suspense and dread and instead goes more for gore. There are some memorable kills, though a lot of them were pretty silly. Halloween 2 does have one or two creepy moments, but overall isn’t very effective on the whole. With that said, it is a very well shot movie, with great tracking shots and POV sequences, and I also liked the use of colour and lighting. I also like the hospital setting, the empty rooms made it work, dimly lit rooms and the addition of Michael Myers really make it work. The mask of Michael Myers looks a bit off and worse than the first movie, it’s weird particularly seeing as it is a follow up to the original, which is right before the sequel. The score is also by John Carpenter, however it makes itself stand out by being more synth based.

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I wouldn’t say that Halloween 2 is bad, I’d say that it is relatively decent. It’s a by the numbers slasher that does have its moments, as well as aspects of the direction which work, but on the whole it is rather forgettable. However, if you liked any of the Halloween movies beyond the original and Halloween 2018, I’d say give it a look.

The Evil Dead (1981) Review

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence
Cast:
Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams
Ellen Sandweiss as Cheryl Williams
Hal Delrich as Scott
Betsy Baker as Linda
Sarah York as Shelly
Director: Sam Raimi

Ashley “Ash” Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend and three pals hike into the woods to a cabin for a fun night away. There they find an old book, the Necronomicon, whose text reawakens the dead when it’s read aloud. The friends inadvertently release a flood of evil and must fight for their lives or become one of the evil dead. Ash watches his friends become possessed, and must make a difficult decision before daybreak to save his own life in this, the first of Sam Raimi’s trilogy.

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The Evil Dead made a massive impact upon its release, despite its low budget. It would go on to spawn two successful sequels, a tv series that would run for 3 seasons and a remake in 2013 (which is actually pretty good as well). The story itself is simple and some of the technical aspects are dated but for the most part it really does hold up well.

The Evil Dead is very straightforward. People go to a cabin in the woods, they unleash the living dead, chaos and hilarity ensues. Storywise there isn’t really much to say about The Evil Dead and it does fall into some of the horror tropes such as people doing something really dangerous (such as unleashing the living dead upon themselves). Unlike the rest of the series which got more cartoonish and humorous as they went on, most of the movie is pretty dark and serious in comparison. Maybe there might be some slapstick violence and an unbelievable amount of blood thrown all over people, but outside of that there isn’t much humour as you’d think given the series’ reputation (although there is some dark comedy in there as well). However, it is just as crazed, insane and unpredictable as the rest of the series, with it doing to places and showing things on screen that you wouldn’t expect. The Evil Dead is just under 90 minutes long and that was pretty much the best length for it, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

The actors weren’t anything special, neither were the characters, the characters are rather simple and generic horror characters. The acting is kind of weak, a little bad sometimes, though it’s not a huge weight on the movie. Bruce Campbell is the lead here as Ash Williams and he’s actually pretty good. He’s not at all the Ash we all know and love (with the chainsaw on his hand and the boomstick in the other), here he’s just a normal guy and he does well reacting and changing to everything that he sees and experiences throughout the movie.

Sam Rami’s direction is the reason why this movie really works as well as it does. This movie has a really low budget for a horror movie at $350-400K, and you can feel that throughout. With that however, Rami used some very creative techniques to achieve what he set out to do, and the results are rather impressive. The practical effects and makeup really work and a lot of them are still impressive today. Some of them look dated now but considering the budget and the time, you can look past that easily. The use of camera movements (especially the famous POV shots from an unseen demon force) are creative and are memorable, even if some of them are done for budget reasons. It is a very bloody and gory movie, if you don’t like that kind of movie, you probably won’t be staying with this movie for very long. There is blood absolutely everywhere and it goes everywhere. There are also some genuinely unnerving scenes. I didn’t personally find the movie scary but I will say that generally you’re more likely to be disturbed than scared. That tree scene for example is still very hard to watch.

The Evil Dead is a very effective horror movie that still is a classic today. Yes it is cheesy and dated at times but that’s to be expected from a horror movies from the early 80s. Ultimately its Sam Raimi’s direction that makes such a familiar horror concept (even in 1981) and a really low budget work so well. All the practical effects are impressive even to this day and its one thrilling and slightly disturbing horror movie. The Evil Dead ever since its release has established itself as one of the most iconic and important horror films of all time.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood
Paul Freeman as Rene Belloq
Ronald Lacey as Major Arnold Toht
John Rhys-Davies as Sallah
Denholm Elliot as Satipo
Director: Steven Spielberg

Archaeologist professor Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is hired to find the Ark of the Covenant when two agents from US Army intelligence tell him of Nazi German activities in archaeology, including a gigantic excavation site in Egypt – a site that an intercepted cable indicates to Indy is the location of the, the powerful chest bearing the Ten Commandments, that the Nazis can use to obliterate any enemy.

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Every adventure movie ever made owes it to this movie. With great characters, a sense of adventure, many thrills and well filmed action scenes; it is easy to see it reflected in many adventure movies released after it. It held up 33 years ago and it holds up today, as it continues to entertain today.

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This film always has something entertaining going on and always has your curiosity and attention. The reason why it is so loved was because as a film, it gets everything right. For a simple premise, the film takes advantage of it and really makes it as entertaining as possible. The film also has many genres combined into it: action, adventure, romance, comedy, fantasy – and all of these genres are extremely well balanced. There aren’t that many flaws with this movie (despite Indy near the end of the movie knowing what to do despite not learning about it prior to the event), and most of the time you don’t even notice them as you are wrapped up in the adventure.

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Indiana Jones is now an iconic character thanks to Harrison Ford’s performance. He doesn’t just rehash his performance from Star Wars as Han Solo; he really brings this character to life. He is like John McClane from Die Hard; he felt relatable and vulnerable like other human beings who seemed like he could die at any moment, where a lot of action characters are always capable. Karen Allen also does a good job at being Marion Ravenwood who is Indy’s love interest throughout the movie. One of the best things about her is that unlike most female characters in action movies (who usually spend most of their time being rescued from danger), she can hold her own and handle herself in any situation All the other side characters that are in this movie are memorable, especially Davies, Elliott and Lacey who are effective as the antagonists in the movie.

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The action scenes in this movie are done incredibly well. The film is also perfectly edited, as is the cinematography shot. I know it goes without saying but the stunt work is incredible; there are a lot of them, unlike most movies of today which often use CGI for the big action scenes. That chase scene in the last act with the horses stands out most to me whenever I think about this movie; it so well shot and overall is the best car chase scene I’ve seen in a movie. The set pieces for each location are designed very well. Also the film uses a lot of practical effects that actually feel real, a perfect example is the boulder near the beginning of the movie. John William’s score is a triumph all the way through; it fits so well with the action scenes, the discovery scenes and many others.

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This film is a fun adventure, simple as that. It takes you on a ride. The film balances the action scenes, dialogue and mystery moments. If for some strange reason you haven’t seen this movie, see it now and see what you have been missing out on for years. Raiders of the Lost Ark are a special movie to action films and to films in general. Steven Spielberg perfectly captured the adventurous spirit with this movie.