Tag Archives: 1989

Black Rain (1989) Review

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Black Rain

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Michael Douglas as Nick Conklin
Andy García as Charlie Vincent
Ken Takakura as Masahiro Matsumoto
Kate Capshaw as Joyce
Yūsaku Matsuda as Koji Sato
Director: Ridley Scott

Nick (Michael Douglas) and his partner, Charlie (Andy Garcia), are New York City policemen who must track down Sato (Yusaku Matsuda), a Japanese gangster, who gives them the slip while being transported to Osaka for his murder trial.

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I came across Black Rain at some point, I initially heard that it was a decent crime thriller starring Michael Douglas. Then I found out that Ridley Scott directed it so that got me interested in checking it out. I was actually pleasantly surprised by Black Rain, it is actually one of Ridley Scott’s more underrated movies, and it’s one worth checking out.

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The plot of Black Rain is nothing too special despite some interesting turns here and there. Basically the main two characters must escort the dangerous Yakuza gangster to Osaka, Japan, they are dragged into the Japanese underworld where things are done much differently. Don’t go in expecting a whole lot other than that really. The dialogue is occasionally cliched for this genre, and the plot occasionally relies too much on the expected tropes of the genre. This is as 80s cheese as it could be, it can get silly and over the top at times. However Scott’s take on the “tough cop” action movies that were more than prominent throughout the 80s was a step above other cop thrillers in that period. It is probably worth knowing going in that Black Rain more of a straight thriller than a pure action flick, so don’t expect a massive amount of action. It is also paced on the slower side, and the movie is a tad too long. However it is a well structured movie with a great atmosphere, and that atmosphere goes a long way towards getting you invested.

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There are some strong performances throughout. First of all there is Michael Douglas as the lead character of Nick Conklin, and this is the closest that Michael Douglas has been to leading an action movie. He plays a NYPD officer who plays by his own rules and the character is in many ways unlikeable and corrupt. However it works because the movie doesn’t try to make him more likable, Douglas adds a level of charm to the character (while not overdoing it), and he brings an intensity to the role. Andy Garcia is also good as his partner Charlie, offsetting Nick’s chaotic nature by being comparatively soft spoken and the voice of reason, and the two of them are quite believable as partners. Ken Takakura is also great as a sympathetic Japanese policeman who joins with the two to track down the Yakuza gangster. He has a great screen presence, and he shines from the moment he first appears till the end of the movie. The relationship between Douglas and Takakura is the heart of the movie and it was quite interesting see these two very different characters try to work towards the same goal. Yusaku Matsuda plays a yakuza boss, the scene chewing villain of the movie, and he is also great in every scene he is in.

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Ridley Scott directs this, and his work here as a director is one of the main reasons why this movie works as well as it does. Strangely enough, it is so stylised that you might actually mistake this as a film from Tony Scott instead of one from Ridley. There’s an art to the cheesy 80s action flick, and Ridley seems to know it quite well. It is visually stunning, the cinematography from Jan De Bont is amazing. It particularly shines when it takes place at night. Ridley shoots much of the movie in the same way he did Blade Runner with the heavy focus on streets with fog and neon lights, and contains some of the dark cityscapes and industrial looks that film has as well. Black Rain isn’t loaded with non stop action, again it is more of a crime thriller than an action thriller. The few action sequences aren’t absolutely bonkers, but they are well executed, and you feel the thrills and suspense. Its use of slow motion is corny at times, but this actually works in the movie’s favour. The sound design is great, and the electronic and orchestral score by Hans Zimmer is top notch, really adding to the movie.

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Black Rain is not one of Ridley Scott’s best movies, but it is one of his most underrated. The plot isn’t anything special, but it is elevated by the strong cast who give good performances here, and of course Scott’s stylish direction. So if you like 80s crime thrillers, you’ll definitely be on board with this movie.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) Review

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Kiki's Delivery Service

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating:  
Cast:
Minami Takayama as Kiki
Rei Sakuma as Jiji
Kappei Yamaguchi as Tombo
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

In this anime feature, 13-year-old Kiki moves to a seaside town with her talking cat, Jiji, to spend a year alone, in accordance with her village’s tradition for witches in training. After learning to control her broomstick, Kiki sets up a flying courier service and soon becomes a fixture in the community. But when the insecure young witch begins questioning herself and loses her magic abilities, she must overcome her self-doubt to get her powers back.

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Kiki’s Delivery Service was the second movie from Studio Ghibli that I watched, this was after watching Spirited Away, which I loved. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie, I just knew that it was about a young witch on her own and she has a black cat, I had also heard that’s recommended as one of the first movies to check out from Ghibli. I unexpectedly ended up loving it quite a lot, more than I thought I would.

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Something to note early is that everything about Kiki’s Delivery Service is just incredibly nice all around. Almost all of its characters are nice people, the narrative is comprised almost entirely of those nice people doing nice things, and the overall tone of the film is incredibly friendly and nice in the best way possible. This film is extremely relaxing to watch, it’s charming throughout and I loved every minute of it. It’s fairly plotless, and while I’m not always on board with plotless movies, I got invested in this one. It definitely concentrates more on characters over plot, and the characters are incredibly easy to like and are entertaining. It’s such a good natured and wholesome film as we just follow Kiki and Jiji the cat on a series of adventures. The stakes are incredibly low in this movie, there’s little to no conflict, yet somehow keeps your attention the entire runtime. There is no contrived villain or antagonist, or some forced plot-driven third act, it’s all just small-scale and intimate. When an external conflict does arrive later in the film (with actual life or death stakes), it doesn’t feel contrived and doesn’t overshadow the main internal conflict, instead working naturally with the rest of the story. Another strength of the movie is that Kiki is a fully rounded and believable character. The mixture of enthusiasm, boredom, excitement, and self-pity makes her unapologetically human. Additionally, it’s easy to relate to her. Many of us transitioning into adulthood and all the fears that come with it, handling independence, finding a job, trying to make friends, etc. Kiki has with similar experiences as other people growing up as she’s discovering her place in the world, it just so happens that she’s a witch as well. It’s a perfect coming of age story that everyone can relate to. It should be noted that most coming of age stories just don’t work that well for me, but this has to be one of my favourite coming of age movies. As a story about how hard it is to make your own way in the world, this movie is truthful and sincere. It manages to do all this while remaining consistently funny, optimistic and exciting.

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Kiki’s Delivery Service is excellently directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It wasn’t quite as creative as say Spirited Away, but is still visually and narratively beautiful, with a stunning colour palette. The environments are fairly familiar and not fantastical, but the movie really captures every location wonderfully.

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Kiki’s Delivery Service was such a wholesome experience, a delightful and optimistic yet sincere coming of age tale that I was invested in from beginning to end. I love this movie, and I can see this upon rewatches becoming firmly one of my favourite movies. Definitely watch it if you haven’t already, if you haven’t watched an anime film before, this is a great place to start.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Review

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence127
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody
Alison Doody as Elsa Schneider
John Rhys-Davies as Sallah
Julian Glover as Walter Donovan
Sean Connery as Henry Jones, Sr.
Director: Steven Spielberg

In 1938, after his father Professor Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery), goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford) finds himself up against Adolf Hitler’s Nazis again to stop them from obtaining its powers.

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The main Indiana Jones trilogy is one of the most iconic cinematic trilogies of all time. After Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones goes back to familiar territory with the third instalment with The Last Crusade, but this leads to possibly the best movie in the entire series (at least close to it). Everything from the writing, direction and the performances are great, it is really entertaining and among my favourite movies.

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The movie starts off on a high note with its introduction featuring a young Indiana Jones played by River Phoenix, and it only gets better from there. It keeps you constantly entertained from beginning to end with a great adventure that never has a dull moment. With that said it, it really picks up in such a massive way from the moment that Indiana Jones meets with his father, then it’s pretty much perfect all the way right to the very end. It is also the funniest of the movies by far, with some effective comedy that hits every time, and never gets annoying like how it got to at many points in Temple of Doom. Even the slapstick really ends up being quite funny. The biggest source of comedy in this movie as I’ll get into later is the interactions between Jones and his father. One thing with Raiders of the Lost Ark is that the third act while not bad wasn’t quite as strong as the rest of the movie. The climax of The Last Crusade on the other hand is creative and exciting, and by far the best of the series.

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Harrison Ford is effortlessly great in his role of Indiana Jones, as to be expected. He sells every part of the character well, including the action and the comedy. Sean Connery was great as Jones’s father in one of his best performances (possible his best). It’s an unexpected casting considering Connery’s past roles with the likes of James Bond, but he works perfectly in here and was a perfect contrast to Ford. The dynamic and chemistry between these two just works excellently, which is good because they are a big focus of the movie from the first act onwards. The rest of the cast are good, including returning actors from the first movie with Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies, and the main villain played by Julian Glover. It’s also worth noting that River Phoenix plays younger Indiana Jones for less than 10 minutes, but yet he played that part pretty much perfectly in his screentime.

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Steven Spielberg’s direction was great, it’s got a very good look throughout at the various locations. There are some great set pieces from start to finish, in great locations. From a boat chase through Venice, to a tank battle with Nazis, all of these set pieces are fantastic, and are even just slightly a step above the action from Raiders of the Lost Ark (and that’s saying a lot). The score by John Williams was great as to be expected, it’s more upbeat and triumphant compared to the other scores in the series, and it’s very memorable.

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My favourite Indiana Jones movie jumps between this and Raiders of the Lost Ark, for now I’ll put them on the same level. The direction is great, it is witty and entertaining from beginning to end, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are excellent, and overall it very well balanced. This and Raiders of the Lost Ark are firmly among my favourite movies, and are definitely worth watching (as is the whole series).

Batman (1989) Review

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Batman

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier/The Joker
Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale
Robert Wuhl as Alexander Knox
Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon
Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent
Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
Jack Palance as Carl Grissom
Director: Tim BurtonIn Gotham City, a dark knight known as Batman (Michael Keaton) helps to defeat evil and keep the city’s citizens safe. When Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) is transformed into the evil Joker, he promises to take over Gotham City. It is up to Batman to stop him in his tracks before it is too late.

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With Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy being one of the most well-known comic book adaptations of Batman, it’s easy to forget where it started (not including Adam West). Tim Burton’s Batman had an immense impact on many things, culture, superhero movies and movies in general. It still does hold up to this day and even though I like Christopher Nolan’s trilogy more, Batman is still a great film that is worth watching by everyone.

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First, what should be mentioned is the differences between Burton’s and Nolan’s take on the Caped Crusader. This film starts out with Batman already existing in Gotham City, we don’t see an origin story of how Bruce Wayne became him. We do eventually learn about his past later on but we don’t learn about it in the order of a usual origins story. It actually shows how The Joker became how he is, whereas the roles are reversed in the Dark Knight Trilogy (Batman is really Joker Begins as opposed to Batman Begins). I like how they showed Batman’s origins in Batman Begins more, but this version works quite well. One other great thing is the tone used, it was a darker sort of movie than most superhero movies at that time (like Superman) and it was really a changer for superhero movies. Batman also has the right around of dark comedy infused (mostly with The Joker), which is something that Tim Burton is mostly good at.

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Michael Keaton was really good as Batman, he is able to play both Bruce Wayne and Batman, which is also something every actor needs to do with every superhero character; they need to be able to play both the person with and without the mask. We don’t see as much of Wayne’s past and he manages to act mysteriously with subtlety. Jack Nicholson was fantastic in the role of The Joker. He is really funny, gleefully evil and he absolutely steals every scene he’s in. It’s like they took The Joker directly out of the comics. Now in comparison to Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight, Nicholson’s performance isn’t as realistic or scary, but it doesn’t take away from his enjoyable and entertaining performance. Other actors like Kim Basinger and Michael Gough are also great in their roles.

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The look of the film is dark; particularly the set designs such as the city and they suit the movie, Tim Burton can always be trusted to at least get the look right and he does so with flying colours. The action was also pretty good, they aren’t really comparable to modern movies, but back in the days you didn’t really get action scenes like these. The soundtrack by Danny Elfman also suits the tone; it’s dark and brooding and very suitable for the movie.

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Apart from the first two Superman movies, no other superhero movies in the 70s and 80s really succeeded in being really great films. Even though I prefer Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy in terms of Batman adaptions and comic book movies in general, Batman is still a big part of the history of superhero movies and should be given credit. It is visually great with an interesting story and great acting from everyone. Batman is in my opinion Tim Burton’s best movie and it’s played a significant part in film history.