Tag Archives: 1997 movies

Perfect Blue (1997) Review

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Perfect Blue

Time: 81 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Contains violence.
Voice Cast:
Junko Iwao as Mima Kirigoe
Rica Matsumoto as Rumi 
Shiho Niiyama as Rei
Masaaki Okura as Mamoru Uchida
Shinpachi Tsuji as Tadokoro
Emiko Furukawa as Yukiko
Director: Satoshi Kon

A pop singer gives up her career to become an actress, but she slowly goes insane when she starts being stalked by an obsessed fan and what seems to be a ghost of her past.

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I had heard about Perfect Blue for a while. I knew of it as an anime psychological horror, and I had also heard that Black Swan seemed to have taken a lot of influence from it. It ended up being one of the first animes I had saw, and it was pretty great. I went in with high expectations, but Perfect Blue managed to exceed them and then some. It’s a stunning film across the board, so incredibly well made.

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I won’t go into too much detail about the plot as its better to go into it blind. Perfect Blue is pretty short as a movie, at around an hour and 20 minutes long. There’s a lot going on in this story despite its simplistic plot and length, while not feeling rushed at all. It felt like 2 hours for all the tension it managed to build in such a quick time, and there is hardly any filler in the plot, always making the right twists and turns at the exact right time. Perfect Blue has a highly engaging and gripping story, and it’s difficult to guess where it will go next. It’s paced incredibly well, and there’s tension throughout, which only grows as the movie progresses. As time goes, on the story becomes more fascinating, and even scary at times. I have to say that this is probably one of the most terrifying and haunting films I’ve seen. There are disturbing scenes for sure, and some scenes are graphic and hard to watch. But it’s especially the psychological narrative and how it messes with the viewer’s perception that really got to me. It really is a multi-layered descent into madness, and the POV leaves the audience just as lost as the main character as she tries to get a grasp of reality. Delusions and reality become one and the same, and so many scenes felt like it’s they’re a dream with a dream. There are plenty of times where you aren’t certain that what you’re watching is actually reality or not. It completely messes with your mind and it’s not what you expect. With that, Perfect Blue no doubt probably benefits from further viewings when you actually know what’s happening, but the first viewing is one unforgettable experience. It’s not only just a movie aiming to mess with the audience and be disturbing however, it’s layered and complex and really packs a lot into it (again surprising considering the runtime). It’s an unsettling, horrific and thought provoking story about stardom and fame, and the prices that come with that. There’s plenty of social commentary on the media, celebrity obsession, and even the internet. Yes, it was made in the late 90s but much of it is still relevant to this day. It’s also a look at the sacrifice one has to make for a performance, which leads the protagonist into a psychological downward spiral.

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I really liked the direction from Satoshi Kon, his work here is fantastic. The animation is flawless and I can’t imagine this film working nearly as well as a live action movie, which really does speak to how well made it is. All the details within the drawings are as beautiful as ever. Usually, anime is used to exaggerate detail and actions, but the world of Perfect Blue is seemingly mundane and realistic, with some anime style aspects appearing in subtle ways. Additionally, it does such a flawless job at blurring the lines between delusion and reality without ever becoming incohesive or messy or breaking you out of your engagement.

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Perfect Blue is a really great, complex and disturbing psychological thriller, incredibly made on all fronts. I do want to revisit it sometime, because I think I can probably get more out of it from repeat viewings. Honestly even if you don’t think you like anime, I still highly recommend watching it as soon as you can, it really is an example of an anime that transcends its medium.

Mimic: Director’s Cut (1997) Review

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Mimic

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Mira Sorvino as Dr. Susan Tyler
Jeremy Northam as Dr. Peter Mann
Josh Brolin as Josh Maslow
Charles S. Dutton as Officer Leonard Norton
Giancarlo Giannini as Manny Gavoila
F. Murray Abraham as Dr. Gates
Director: Guillermo del Toro

A disease carried by common cockroaches is killing Manhattan children. In an effort to stop the epidemic, an entomologist, Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino), creates a mutant breed of insect that secrets a fluid to kill the roaches. This mutant breed was engineered to die after one generation, but three years later Susan finds out that the species has survived and evolved into a large, gruesome monster that can mimic human form.

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I was watching Mimic to complete Guillermo Del Toro’s filmography, which from what I had heard prior to seeing it, it’s been generally known as his worst movie, mostly because of studio interference from the Weinsteins. With that said, I heard that the director’s cut was a pretty good movie, and having seen it now, I agree with this (at least with that version). It is definitely a step below most of Del Toro’s other movies, but as a 90s B movie monster flick, with his direction, and some of the acting, it was quite a lot of fun.

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I watched the director’s cut of Mimic, and if you are going to watch this movie, this is the version that you should watch. The script isn’t anything special, it’s not exactly unpredictable, and is pretty by the numbers and typical of a monster horror movie with giant bugs. At its core, Mimic feels like a studio film, more so than a Guillermo Del Toro film (despite it being a horror movie with creatures and monsters). However, the movie moves at a fast enough pace, and works at its length of over an hour and 45 minutes long. It was entertaining and thrilling for its runtime, and I enjoyed watching it quite a bit.

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The cast do work reasonably well in their roles, even if those characters aren’t particularly well written or developed. Mira Sorvino is in the lead role and she’s pretty great on her part. Other actors in the movie including Jeremy Northam, Charles S. Dutton, Giancarlo Giannini, F. Murray Abraham and even a younger Josh Brolin in one of his earlier film appearances also give some good performances.

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This being his second feature film (after Cronos), Guillermo Del Toro does pretty well for his first English language movie. Again, this is in the director’s cut and no doubt it is much different in the theatrical cut. In the version I saw however, it was directed quite well, and in fact that added a lot to the film. I love the dark and grimy look that it has throughout, it’s got such an effective and creepy atmosphere, and the production designs and locations are great for the film. The biggest problem with the direction is that there are some pretty cheap and basic jumpscares, and I’m willing to bet that a large amount of the forced scares were because of the Weinsteins. The bug creatures are pretty effective and threatening, mainly with their designs and how they act. With this movie being over 2 decades old, some of the effects don’t really hold up so well, but for a movie from the late 90s, it is serviceable for its time.

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Mimic is an entertaining creature feature, that’s not particularly original or great, and it had its issues, but it was actually pretty decent, and was particularly elevated by the direction by Guillermo Del Toro. This is by far Del Toro’s worst movie, but that says quite a lot for the quality of his filmography, given that I thought that the director’s cut was pretty good. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Kundun (1997) Review

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong as the Dalai Lama (Adult)
Gyurme Tethong as the Dalai Lama (Age 12)
Tulku Jamyang Kunga Tenzin as the Dalai Lama (Age 5)
Tenzin Yeshi Paichang as the Dalai Lama (Age 2)
Director: Martin Scorsese

In 1937, a two-and-a-half year old boy from a simple family in Tibet was recognized as the 14th reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion, and destined to become the spiritual and political leader of his people. Director Martin Scorsese brings to the screen the true story of the Dalai Lama. Told through the eyes of His Holiness, “Kundun” brings to life the account of the Dalai Lama’s early life, from childhood through the Chinese invasion of Tibet and his journey into exile.

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Kundun was the remaining Martin Scorsese movie that I hadn’t seen yet (with the exception of The Irishman), and I didn’t really know what to expect from it. All I knew about the movie was that it was about the Dalai Lama and that it caused Scorsese and some other people who worked on the movie to get banned from China. When it comes to his filmography, Kundun isn’t really brought up often, and it’s a shame because it should be talked about more, it’s really good.

As someone who doesn’t know anything about the Dalai Lama, I found the movie to be quite interesting throughout. It’s also worth noting is that screenwriter Melissa Mathison wrote this movie with her interviews with the real Dalai Lama becoming the basis of the script. So if you’re wondering about accuracy, there you go. I will admit that I wasn’t totally on board with the movie from the beginning, but it got better after the first half an hour or so and I was reasonably invested throughout. It’s a long movie at 2 hours and 15 minutes, and while you do feel that length, after the early section of the movie I didn’t find it to drag often. Someone described this movie as being made of episodes, not a plot, and that’s an apt description. It’s a little loose with the plot and is basically telling about the Dalai Lama’s real life without much of a structure, but it’s not a problem if you’re invested or interested in what’s going on.

None of the cast here are professional or known actors, but they definitely played their roles well. They all fit in very well into their roles with no one really seeming out of place (though some of the much younger actors struggle a little but you can look past them). The only thing that’s a little distracting is that everyone here mainly speaks English and I wasn’t really expecting that, nonetheless you get used to it after a while.

This is one of Martin Scorsese’s most different movie, and he did well at changing his filmmaking style, his work here is excellent and underappreciated. The production design, costumes and everything in that area was just right for the movie. Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing here is among her best work, and that’s really saying a lot. Roger Deakins’s cinematography as usual is fantastic, this is such a gorgeous looking movie, with the entire film looking like a painting. In the opening credits I recognised Philip Glass’s name for his work on the Candyman score, and that score is amongst the most distinct horror themes I’ve heard. So I knew that he’d deliver something spectacular with Kundun’s score and he definitely does. It’s really large and epic, and really complements the cinematography perfectly. These 4 aspects work perfectly towards the finale in such a tremendous way, probably the highlight moment of the film, and that’s saying a lot.

Kundun is probably one of Scorsese’s lesser known movies, but it should be seen just like the rest of them. The actors play their parts well and it’s an interesting story for sure, but it’s even worth seeing just for the technical masterclass that’s on display, with Scorsese, Schoonmaker, Deakins and Glass really creating something special. Definitely a movie worth checking out.

Jackie Brown (1997) Review

Time: 154 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence, offensive language and sex scenes
Cast:
Pam Grier as Jackie Brown
Samuel L. Jackson as Ordell Robbie
Robert Forster as Max Cherry
Bridget Fonda as Melanie Ralston
Michael Keaton as Ray Nicolette
Robert De Niro as Louis Gara
Director: Quentin Tarantino

When flight attendant Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is busted smuggling money for her arms dealer boss, Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson), agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) and detective Mark Dargus (Michael Bowen) want her help to bring down Robbie. Facing jail time for her silence or death for her cooperation, Brown decides instead to double-cross both parties and make off with the smuggled money. Meanwhile, she enlists the help of bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster), a man who loves her.

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Jackie Brown is typically known by most as one of the weaker Quentin Tarantino movies. It’s such an odd movie for him to make, but after the unbelievable success of Pulp Fiction, he wanted to try something very different. When I saw it for the first time, I didn’t know what to think, it was fine and I didn’t dislike it by any means, it’s just that compared to his other movies, it just wasn’t on that same level. I wanted to watch it again to be sure of how I felt about it, and thankfully I liked it a lot more than I did before.

Jackie Brown is the only script by Tarantino that’s not completely original, as he’s adapting an Elmore Leonard’s book titled Rum Punch. I’ve never read the book myself or looked up the similarities and differences between the two, but Quentin no doubt made the movie its own thing. Jackie Brown is a much more lowkey and subtle movie compared to his others. While his movies are generally better experienced when you are actually fully focussed on it, you actually really need to pay attention to everything that’s going on with this movie, it’s very much story driven. It’s surprisingly a noir movie, with the characters, the slow pacing, and the way a lot of the plot points are set up. The dialogue is pure Tarantino, making most of the main characters as 3 dimensional as possible. As far as writing for characters go, this is one of his best. There are a lot of details and subtleties that make the movie one that you have to be fully paying attention to. The movie is 2 hours and a half long and it can drag a little bit towards the middle, but not enough to make the experience tedious (unless you’re expecting a much more flashy and fast paced movie).

There’s a pretty talented cast in Jackie Brown, and they all do a good job with it. Pam Grier is in the lead role of the titular character and she was really great at really brining this character to life, seemed to be a perfect casting choice considering how Jackie Brown is definitely paying homage to a lot of Blaxploitation movies. Robert Forster was one of the standouts, with him and Grier sharing some great chemistry, among the highlights of the film. This is probably one of Samuel L. Jackson’s most overlooked roles as an arms dealer, looking at the dialogue it really seemed like a role that Tarantino specifically wrote for Jackson (in fact at certain points I think he went overboard). While you get the feeling that Tarantino didn’t really take advantage of Robert de Niro as much as he could’ve, he acts here like he hasn’t before, it’s such a lowkey and different performance from him. Other supporting players like Michael Keaton and Bridget Fonda also work well in their roles.

Quentin Tarantino’s direction is also quite lowkey, yet from his style and cinematography you can still tell that it’s his movie, it’s just not as flashy as you’d expect it to be. Some people might accuse him of often having ‘style over substance’ (a very flawed criticism in general I find), but I’m not quite sure how you’d be able to say that about Jackie Brown. Unlike most of his movies, there really isn’t much violence, and when it is present it’s about as graphic as those typically seen in a PG-13/M rated movie. The music is also great, Tarantino typically finds a solid line-up of songs for the movie, Jackie Brown’s is among his best soundtracks for his films, and that’s saying a lot.

Jackie Brown may not rank among Quentin Tarantino’s all time best movies, but is still very solid. The performances from the large cast are good, and Tarantino’s direction and more story-driven script make it all work. Even if you generally don’t like Tarantino’s movies, I’d recommend checking it out, for some it’s even considered to be his best film.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) Review

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robin Shou as Liu Kang
Talisa Soto as Kitana
Chris Conrad as Johnny Cage
Brian Thompson as Shao Kahn
Sandra Hess as Sonya Blade
Irina Pantaeva as Jade
James Remar as Raiden
Lynn “Red” Williams as Jax
Musetta Vander as Sindel
Marjean Holden as Sheeva
Reiner Schöne as Shinnok
Litefoot as Nightwolf
Deron McBee as Motaro
Director: John R. Leonetti

Every generation, a portal opens up between the Outerworld and Earth. Emperor Shao-Kahn (Brian Thompson), ruler of the mythical Outerworld, pounces the moment the portal reopens and slips through with his mighty warriors, intent on total domination and uniting the two worlds. However, he has only seven days to complete his task. In the meantime, opposition grows and warriors Sonya Blade (Sandra Hess), Jax (Lynn “Red” Williams), Kitana (Talisa Soto) and Liu Kang (Robin Shou) get ready for war.

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The first Mortal Kombat was one of the best video game movies, it was simple and goofy but entertaining enough. With that said, it wasn’t really that good of a movie. The ending of Mortal Kombat set up for a sequel and 2 years later, we got Mortal Kombat Annihilation. Somehow Annihilation dropped to a much lower level, and I mean absolutely embarrassingly bad, somehow they just made an okay movie based on Mortal Kombat and they couldn’t even just repeat what the first did. However, I’m glad that we have this movie because it is incredibly entertaining in how it gets literally everything wrong.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation’s story is very generic and lazy, in fact it can barely be called a story. The first movie did vaguely have a story, even though it was really an excuse for fight scenes but it’s even less existent with Annihilation. It’s really not worth thinking about the story, its barely there and when you pay attention to what’s going on, it doesn’t make much sense. There are many scenes showing off Shao Khan’s (the villain) big army but by the end there’s like no one left except him. The dialogue is hilariously awful, now the first movie had some cheesy and bad dialogue but Annihilation takes it to a whole new level. From the point when you hear Sindel say “Too bad YOU….. WILL DIE!”, you know what kind of movie you’re in. There is so much exposition throughout the movie, there’s a fight scene, Raiden fills the characters in, then repeat. One of the criticisms of the first movie was that there were a bit too many characters. Annihilation decided to have even more characters, so you just lose track of the characters and their goals. Again, best not to think too much about what is going on. There is more fan service than in the first movie, with characters like Cyrax and Sheeva being here to serve no more than a minute doing things.

All the acting in this movie is bad. It’s worth noting that most of the cast from the first movie don’t reprise their roles, only Robin Shou (Liu Kang) and Talisa Soto (Kitana) return. Everyone else is replaced, Johnny Cage is played by Chris Conrad, Sonya Blade is played by Sandra Hess and Raiden is played by James Remar. You really feel the lack of Christopher Lambert in the role of Raiden, he was one of the best parts of the first movie, especially when it came to the acting. Raiden is also pretty useless in this movie, particularly in the third act. Other characters introduced are Irina Pantaeva as Jade, Lynn Williams as Jax, and Litefoot as Nightwolf who added nothing to the movie, unless you are die hard fans of these characters. The villains are also terrible. Shao Khan is a really over the top and goofy villain, who does pretty much all the generic villain things, killing his henchman, declaring that he will rule the world, the usual. At least he’s having a ton of fun hammy his role up. Also bad is Sindel played by Musetta Vander, also rather over the top. The casting of Sindel is really odd, considering that Vander is only like 4 years older than Talisa Soto who plays her daughter Kitana. Not that it’s one of the worst parts of the movie though, this is incredibly minor in comparison to everything else.

It’s not often that I would say this but this movie is missing Paul W.S. Anderson’s direction. At $30 million it has a higher budget than the first Mortal Kombat by $12 million and watching this movie I’m not sure where all that money went because this looks like one of the cheapest movies ever, it doesn’t even look like it has a budget of half a million. This movie looks so cheap that it straight up reused the opening animation of the first movie (and just added Annihilation to the title when it comes up). Saying that the CGI looks really fake would be underselling it, despite the budget being over twice that over the original, the visual effects have taken a complete downgrade and are just horrendous. The third act has quite possibly the worst CGI effects I have ever seen in a movie, its two monsters fighting and it’s absolutely abysmal, even if it was released in the 70s instead of the 90s it wouldn’t be acceptable. Even the green screen background parts are terrible, you can even see the white outlines around the actors. There are occasionally some actual practical backgrounds but they don’t last for long. So the effects are terrible but you’d think that maybe the action would be able to make up for it, nothing could be further from the truth. Not even the action is competent, it’s one of those action movies where the action always cuts at just the right moment when something dangerous or difficult could happen, so there are so many cuts in every fight scene. The camera work is terrible, there’s even one moment when a character wrestles with the camera to act like something is fighting him because they didn’t have the budget to actually show the other person. There’s also for some reason so many flips in this movie, and so many moments when the actors are clearly on wires, it’s like you’re watching a puppet show instead of an actual movie. With all that said, everything I just mentioned can still be very entertaining, for how incompetent and poorly made the movie is. However, if you’re trying to enjoy the movie the same way you might’ve enjoyed the first movie, you’re probably not going to have fun with it (at least in that same way).

Whereas the first Mortal Kombat is kind of enjoyable and (for lack of a better term) a guilty pleasure, this is a complete disasterpiece. Pretty much everything is awful in this movie, the lazy ‘story’, the acting, the poor action and the abysmal special effects. It’s so unintentionally incompetent and its hilarious and entertaining for it. If you can be entertained by some poorly done movies, I think you’ll have a lot of fun with it, especially if you had fun with the first Mortal Kombat movie.

Event Horizon (1997) Review

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains violence.
Cast:
Laurence Fishburne as Captain Miller
Sam Neill as Dr. William ‘Billy’ Weir
Kathleen Quinlan as Peters
Joely Richardson as Lieutenant Starck
Richard T. Jones as Cooper
Jason Isaacs as D.J.
Sean Pertwee as Smith ‘Smitty’
Jack Noseworthy as Ensign Justin
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

When the Event Horizon, a spacecraft that vanished years earlier, suddenly reappears, a team is dispatched to investigate the ship. Accompanied by the Event Horizon’s creator, William Weir (Sam Neill), the crew of the Lewis and Clark, led by Capt. Miller (Laurence Fishburne), begins to explore the seemingly abandoned vessel. However, it soon becomes evident that something sinister resides in its corridors, and that the horrors that befell the Event Horizon’s previous journey are still present.

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Event Horizon was a movie that I had been hearing about for a while, particularly for how it inspired the Dead Space video game series. It’s been referred to as Hellraiser in space and it’s also known as director Paul W.S. Anderson’s best movie. Also a lot of the idea of a haunted house in space with like a portal to hell sounds like something interesting, so I was somewhat looking forward to getting around to watch it. While it doesn’t live up to its potential, I think it does work decently enough as a horror flick, and does have some genuinely good stuff to it as well. However, production problems and heavy cuts by the studio really held back the movie from being as good as it could’ve been.

There is a ton of production story explaining what happened with Event Horizon but I’ll try to limit it to the relevant things I’m talking about. Event Horizon has a lot of interesting ideas, the idea of hell being involved is chief among the best, and it wasn’t originally in the script. Phillip Eisner’s original script had alien beings as the cause of the hauntings of the ship but Anderson felt it was too much like Alien, so had a revision of the script done (by Andrew Kevin Walker uncredited) so that it was like a classic haunting movie (like The Haunting and The Shining, there’s even one scene that’s paying homage to the latter), more like a classic haunting movie instead of a monster movie, while also incorporating elements of hell in the movie. I’m thankful that this happened because it’s one of the most stand out parts of the movie. As I said, some of the ideas are pretty good, other aspects can take a little too much from other movies. There’s also some occasionally goofy dialogue and writing that doesn’t ruin the movie but definitely takes you out of it. Now I don’t know if this is the cause of it, but when Paul W.S. Anderson signed on to direct, development had to move quickly cos there was already a release date scheduled (meaning that pre production was likely rushed), so a lot of the script and other elements wasn’t worked on or revised as much as they should’ve been before filming. One thing that really needs to be mentioned is the length, Event Horizon is an hour and 30 minutes long, really quite short. It’s ironic considering that apparently the cut was way too long (even Anderson said that it was too long) and yet it ended up being the shortest length that a typical movie would be. As it is, the movie is fine enough with its length but all the cuts really meant that the story and characters wasn’t really fully realised. Maybe cutting some of the extreme gore (which I’ll get into later) might’ve been understandable and wouldn’t have affected the plot much, but a lot of the plotlines and character development was also cut. 30 minutes were cut from the movie, and I don’t believe that almost all of that was full of extreme gore. There are also attempts at building tension, but the film is cut a lot to speed up the pacing and featuring cheap jumpscares or gore and that can deflate a lot of the tension, no doubt a victim of the tight filming schedule. The ending seems to have 2 endings, and it’s like they couldn’t figure out which one to use so they just used both of them and so it’s just confusing.

The cast is limited but talented, with Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones. Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee and Jack Noseworthy as the crew. They all do rather well, with Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne being the standouts. However, a lot of the aforementioned cuts to the movie really affected their characters and performances because a lot of their scenes (including scenes featuring their development and depth) were cut. Something that the Event Horizon (the haunted ship) does is that preys on the crew members’ fears, but we only get to see that with a few of the characters and it just feels like a wasted opportunity. Seeing all of the characters’ fears and having them up against them really would’ve been something great. Even the Event Horizon fear stuff aside, we don’t get to learn about these characters well enough, sometimes making some characters feel out of place and not memorable at all. The biggest example is Richard T. Jones whose character’s development and a lot of his depth was no doubt cut from the movie, and so he just comes across as really goofy and super comedic, like he should be in Jason X (aka Jason Vorhees goes to space) or something. His comedic relief does work fine enough but that’s all there is to his character. Even the characters that work better have been likely affected by the cuts, Sam Neill’s character really isn’t consistent, and even knowing the full plot its difficult to really pin down his whole deal.

This is definitely Paul W.S. Anderson’s best movie and while some of the directional aspects doesn’t quite work, most of it works well. So much of the CGI is dated, particularly when it came to objects floating around in space like in the opening scene, I’m sure that the CGI back in 1997 was more impressive than what was on display here. With that, when it comes to the practical effects and sets, the movie is much better in those areas. So much of the design is very Alien and H.R. Giger inspired, maybe a little too much. Still, the practical sets are great and you really feel like you are in this haunted ship. This movie can also be extremely brutal and graphic but its mostly in brief moments, notably two. Both of these scenes actually went on for a very long time originally and were way more graphic and violent. If you look up what happened, when the movie was shown at test screenings, audiences didn’t take too kindly to the massive amount of gore (to put it mildly) so there were numerous cuts to earn an R rating so it could actually be shown in cinemas and avoid the dreaded NC-17 rating. The makeup and animatronics are also very impressive, Anderson got a lot right with Event Horizon. There are times where you can definitely tell that some things were rushed, particularly the editing. Anderson apparently was only able to do one draft edit for the movie and you can kind of tell that this is the case. For example, Event Horizon at times uses some really stock sound effects, which at times actually deflates a lot of the tension that they were going for. By that I mean that an example is a fight near the end had some goofy 80s action punching sound effects, making it feel really cheesy instead of intense.

Much of Event Horizon’s faults isn’t actually because of Paul W.S. Anderson or his crew but really mostly because of Paramount Pictures, it suffers by some occasionally messy writing and most of all from the numerous edits and cuts made by the studio. It does however have some really good elements, the production design and practical effects are great, the acting is solid, and this haunted ship from hell idea is really something I dig. It was a really good decision on Paul W.S. Anderson’s part to skip directing Mortal Kombat Annihilation for this. I feel like this would be one of those few movies that would be nice to see a remake of, if not at least another movie with a similar idea explored, because we haven’t seen many other sci-fi horror movies go to that place. As for Event Horizon itself, if you like horror movies and you can stomach some occasionally extreme gore, give it a watch, it’s only 90 minutes long anyway. Even if you don’t end up watching it, I highly recommend looking into the production of this movie because it’s rather interesting.

Spawn (1997) Review

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Michael Jai White as Albert Simmons/Spawn
John Leguizamo as The Violator
Martin Sheen as Jason Wynn
Theresa Randle as Wanda Blake Simmons-Fitzgerald
Nicol Williamson as Cogliostro
D. B. Sweeney as Terry Fitzgerald
Director: Mark A.Z. Dippé

Covert government assassin Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) is killed after being double-crossed by his boss, Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen). Upon arriving in Hell, Simmons is offered an opportunity to return to Earth if he’s willing to lead an evil army. He accepts, and is reincarnated as a “Hellspawn” — a twisted, horribly disfigured version of his former self. However, Spawn serves as a force of good, much to the dismay of the Devil’s henchman, a wicked clown (John Leguizamo).

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I haven’t read any of the comic books of Spawn but from what I’ve seen of it looked very unique and has potential, definitely a character that could make for a bold and surprising movie. I remember going into the 1997 Spawn with an open mind, it wasn’t well received and probably wasn’t good but I was curious about it nonetheless. Literally all my hope for the movie went out the window the moment the opening credits scene started. While I haven’t seen Catwoman and Elektra, this is honestly so far the worst superhero movie I’ve ever seen, which is really saying a lot.

This movie has a lot going for it. An assassin who dies and returns from hell with superpowers with a badass suit, it seemed like it had all the potential for a weird and entertaining superhero movie. Despite everything going on though, this movie is just so dull and boring. Looking at the plot, there’s nothing particularly stupid conceptually, and there are far worse stories in other bad comic book movies. But there’s nothing particularly exciting or entertaining about it either. Spawn is a 96 minute long movie but fails so terribly at keeping your attention it feels like it is much longer. Despite the dark tone at times, it could get really stupid and cheesy, with some dumb one liners often from Spawn himself (not to mention they don’t really know how to use John Leguizamo’s The Violator in any effective way, whom just ends up being annoying). It really doesn’t suit the tone at all. Making Spawn a M/PG-13 movie would’ve made the movie more unique and ultimately better as it would’ve been able to go deeper and darker. But instead what we have is an incredibly dull and basic at best execution of a pretty interesting concept.

I haven’t seen Michael Jai White in much but he wasn’t really good in this movie as the lead character. Granted he isn’t given much to work with despite playing the titular character. Al Simmons/Spawn really isn’t that compelling as a character in this movie, which feels like a wasted opportunity. He just comes across as feeling like a rather generic wronged protagonist back for revenge. What deflated that aspect also is all the one liners that he has, and none of them work at all. John Leguizamo is the main villain, playing a character called The Violator who is a clown (and based off a character). Honestly, I’m having a hard time deciding whether his performance was good or bad. He was quite annoying but he is having fun and is absolutely embracing his character and is entertaining at times. What happens with the character at the end was not so great, as the film tries to use a lot of CGI with him, which as you’ll find out later is one of the worst aspects of the film. I don’t know why Martin Sheen, of all the actors out there, ended up in this movie, he gets nothing to do other than play some generic boring one dimensional secondary villain, he doesn’t really get any chance to shine whatsoever. There’s not much to say about the rest of the cast.

This film was directed by Mark A.Z. Dippé, who would later go on to direct some Garfield animated movies, his direction here is pretty bad. Outside his work as a director, he is known as a visual effects supervisor on films like Jurassic Park and The Hunt for Red October, which is ironic considering that Spawn has some of the worst special effects of a movie I’ve seen, let alone a superhero movie. Somehow Spawn had a budget of $40 million and I don’t see how that is possible at all. The opening credits sequence was the biggest of all red flags. It looks so 90s and amateurish, and I felt honestly embarrassed for the movie. And the effects on the rest of the film were just unbelievably awful, it was Mortal Kombat Annihilation levels of CGI. One of the stand out worst CGI moments was a sequence when Spawn was in hell, and everything looked bad with fake CG people, fake CG fire, fake CG room but particularly the fakest looking CGI devil figure in a movie, when he speaks the lip syncing is completely off. It’s incredibly embarrassing. The monster effects were often the worst CGI moments. Quite simply, this movie wasn’t made in the right time. I liked the actual design of Spawn, and if he had better CGI he could’ve looked quite badass. Unfortunately, the CGI on him isn’t good either, but it’s better than most of the effects in the movie. Some of the standard action scenes with him just shooting people or something along those lines were okay. It feels like this movie should’ve been more violent and darker but for whatever reason they didn’t make it that way so a lot of the general tone is all over the place.

So far, this is the worst superhero movie I’ve seen yet. With less than stellar acting, a boring story with potential, and some absolutely atrocious effects, it really blew me away with how awful it was. I think the biggest reason that this didn’t work is because it was released too early. Spawn has an insane world with some insane things, its about hell, is about someone returning from the dead with superpowers and it features a weird short fat clown as a villain and it would only really work if it could go full out with the craziness. Spawn however released during the worst period for comic book movies, with other bad comic book movies like Batman and Robin. Also the quality of CGI wasn’t quite at the level that was needed for this world, also making an R rated comic book movie at the time was risky. Despite this, there is now a Spawn movie finally coming out next year with Jamie Foxx and directed and written by Spawn creator Todd Macfarlane and I’m kind of curious about it. This character and his world has the potential to make for a unique movie in the genre. We are now in a time where superhero movies can be R rated and can push the boundaries (Logan, Deadpool) and also feature some insane ideas. Let’s hope that Macfarlane’s Spawn movie matches its potential, but it won’t need to try too hard to be supremely better than whatever the 1997 movie is supposed to be.

The Castle (1997) Review

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Michael Caton as Darryl Kerrigan
Anne Tenney as Sal Kerrigan
Stephen Curry as Dale Kerrigan
Sophie Lee as Tracey Petropoulous
Eric Bana as Con Petropoulous
Anthony Simcoe as Steve Kerrigan
Wayne Hope as Wayne Kerrigan
Tiriel Mora as Dennis Denuto
Costas Kilias as Farouk
Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell as Lawrence Hammill QC
Director: Rob Sitch

The quirky Kerrigan family lives together in a makeshift home they built themselves — with great pride and a bizarre attention to detail — a few yards from the edge of Melbourne, Australia’s busy Tullamarine Airport. When a building inspector condemns the building and reveals that the government plans to use their land for an airport expansion, Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton) and his brood recruit hack attorney Dennis Denuto (Tiriel Mora) and prepare themselves for the fight of their lives.

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I heard about The Castle from some people, I heard that it was an Australian cult classic and that it was absolutely hilarious. So I’ve been meaning to watch it for a little while. Having finally seen it I can see why it’s so beloved. The Castle is hilarious and entertaining and has such an irresistible charm to it, it is definitely worth giving a watch for those who haven’t seen it (which given the fact that its still only a cult classic is probably most people).

One of the best parts about The Castle of course is that it is hilarious. It’s also not the type or style of comedy that you would usually see, which is always refreshing. I’ll just say that if you live in Australia (or even New Zealand like me) I think you might get something out of it even more than people who don’t. So yes, this movie is uniquely funny but at the same time you are rooting for our main characters, so you actually do care about what’s going on. There is some aspect about this movie that just works and I can’t explain what it is, there is a vibe surrounding this movie and its main characters that really elevates it from just being a typical quirky comedy. It’s easier to understand by seeing it than having it be explained to you. The Castle is short and sweet at an hour and 25 minutes long and that was the right length, it is long enough and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. I honestly can’t think of any issues this movie has, for what it is it is great.

The characters are hilarious and memorable and the cast were really great in their roles, especially the Kerrigan family played by Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry, Sophie Lee, Anthony Simcoe and Wayne Hope. The stand out is the lead character played by Caton, who is the father in the family. These characters are simple and aren’t exactly that smart but they are likable and they have a charm to them, you’ll know what I mean when you watch it. They do a good job at making you laugh at them but still care and root for them. Other actors like Tiriel Mora, Charles Tingwell and Eric Bana (who makes his acting debut here) are really good as well and usually get a chance to shine. Everyone in the cast does their part.

Rob Stich’s direction isn’t anything outstanding but it was at the level that it needed to be. You really feel like this is a small movie (and it is, being only $750,000 Australian) but it really didn’t need to be anything special. The editing, direction and style really added to the comedy at times, especially with the use of the narration.

Having finally seen it, I can now see why The Castle is an Australian cult classic. On top of it being hilarious, it has some sort of vibe to it that instantly makes everyone enjoy it, I can’t explain it. Honestly I think it’s something you need to watch for yourself. It is a smaller movie and it may be a little difficult finding copies of it but I think it’s worth checking out whenever you can, you won’t regret it.

Batman and Robin (1997) Review

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Batman and Robin

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze
Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin
Uma Thurman as Dr. Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy
Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Wilson/Batgirl
Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
Director: Joel Schumacher

This superhero film finds Batman (George Clooney) and his partner, Robin (Chris O’Donnell), attempting to the foil the schemes of a deranged set of new villains, most notably the melancholy Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who wants to make Gotham into an arctic region, and the sultry Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), a plant-loving femme fatale. As the Dynamic Duo contends with these bad guys, a third hero, Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), joins the ranks of the city’s crime-fighters.

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Despite mixed reviews of Batman Forever, it did well enough and so Joel Schumacher returned for the sequel. Batman and Robin killed the Batman franchise for about a decade before being picked up again by Christopher Nolan. Even though Batman and Robin is one of the worst superhero movies ever made, out of all the bad superhero movies this is actually kind of enjoyable. It is absolutely a movie that’s so bad it’s entertaining.

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If Batman Forever was cheesy, Batman and Robin takes it to a whole new level. The tone is completely corny and it tries being a really bad cartoon, there’s even a scene where Batman has a bat credit card. This film is extremely over the top, a great example is Batman’s introduction. The dialogue was terrible, for example there are so many puns, most of them ice puns from Mr Freeze. It’s actually hard to summarise everything wrong with the movie, all of that can only be seen if you watch the whole movie.

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George Clooney had the potential to be a great Batman but due to bad direction and writing he wasn’t good at all. The worst part about him is that his Bruce Wayne and Batman identities feel exactly the same with no distinction between the two. The best performance had to be by Michael Gough, who plays Alfred. Throughout all of these four Batman movies he’s been credible, even the Schumacher movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger is Mr Freeze and I have no idea why he was chosen. I have a feeling that it was because he was a big name because he does nothing but deliver bad puns. The most over the top performance was Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. Uma Thurman is actually a good choice for Poison Ivy but just look at her performance. She acts like a pornstar obsessed with plants, and it’s honestly one of the most cartoonish performances I’ve seen in a movie.

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A good example of how over the top the action is, is shown in the first minutes: Batman and Robin are skating over ice and are using hockey sticks to get a diamond. The production design is also terrible, there’s a moment when a frozen car door opens and the ice on it wobbles. There’s also some obvious and over the top wire work, at time it felt like a puppet show. The costumes are worse, not just the Batman and Robin nipple suits. Mr Freeze’s suit is a giant neon lit ‘costume’ that just looks plain ridiculous. Fun fact, this movie was made to sell toys and you can see that everywhere. There’s even a scene where Batman, Robin and Batgirl change outfits between scenes without going to the Batcave to change.

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Batman and Robin is a bad movie and is the worst Batman movie. It’s cheesy, over the top, doesn’t make sense, isn’t Batman and it should be watched. I’m not kidding, it’s actually worth watching, more than Batman Forever even though that movie is a better movie. This movie is such a disaster, gets everything wrong and decades later it’s become this fascinating movie that could honestly be watched over and over again. Just know that the movie is absolutely terrible before watching it.

The Game (1997) Review

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The Game

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Michael Douglas as Nicholas Van Orton
Sean Penn as Conrad Van Orton
James Rebhorn as Jim Feingold
Deborah Kara Unger as Christine
Director: David Fincher

Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a very wealthy San Francisco banker, but he is an absolute loner, even spending his birthday alone. In the year of his 48th birthday (the age his father committed suicide) his brother Conrad (Sean Penn), who has gone long ago and surrendered to addictions of all kinds, suddenly returns and gives Nicholas a card giving him entry to unusual entertainment provided by something called Consumer Recreation Services (CRS). Giving up to curiosity, Nicholas visits CRS and all kinds of weird and bad things start to happen to him.

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David Fincher has always been one of my favourite directors, with how he portrays his stories masterfully and with his great visual style. Fincher again doesn’t disappoint with The Game, one of his earlier films. It is a great mystery movie with twists and turns which really does pay off. As usual he brings his A-game here and delivers in making a captivating thriller. Although the way the film concluded needed some work, The Game for the most part works well and is intriguing from start to finish.

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The Game is a thriller which takes its time before the thrills start happening. Although it may take a little while, it is really worth the wait. Because the film starts out quite calmly, it’s really entertaining to see the tension eventually build from there as time goes on. It takes many twists and turns and I was entertained all the way through. There is a developing sense of dread and everything has a sort of nightmarish tone. The whole time as Michael Douglas is thrown into many crazy situations, you wonder what is going on behind the scenes. The film’s plot works up until the end, which has really divided a lot of people. Admittedly, the ending did have some problems, it was a little farfetched and when certain details are brought to light, you’ll notice that there are some conveniences to it. Despite some of the flaws however, I actually thought that it was a pretty good ending, even if I had to suspend my disbelief with some of the aspects.

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Michael Douglas is really good, especially when he is in scenes that are intense. He manages to convey all of his characters emotions. A lot of things that happened in the past involving his father comes into play into the movie and he makes it convincing. It’s mainly Michael Douglas’s show but many other actors do quite well in this movie. A lot of the other actors are great in the scenes they in, such as Sean Penn who really does make a strong impression despite only appearing a few times in the film.

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David Fincher made this movie look fantastic, as he always does with all his movies. The shots look like they were well prepared and repeatedly filmed until they got it right. Some scenes do stand out, such as an intense scene with Michael Douglas in a taxi cab as well as a scene near in the last act (which I won’t spoil) which was really well done. The soundtrack is also quite effective, sometimes it’s not that noticeable but it really works in suspenseful scenes. The editing ties everything together and is very effective as well.

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The Game is a great film with an entertaining and interesting plot, a good visual style and great pacing. Its ending could have been done a little better, but apart from that, there isn’t that much that’s wrong with The Game. It’s one of Fincher’s most underappreciated films and it’s definitely worth checking out.