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|Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2023 4:22 pm Post subject: FEATURED THREADS for 1-22-23
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The Spike presents us with something old, something new, something borrowed, and something . . . blood red.
~ The “old” is a classic from the 1950s, with Gene Barry and Ann Robinson finding romance and true love . . . in the middle of an alien invasion.
~ The “new” is kind of a “class reunion”, when the Graboid Fighters take on a strange new mutation of the creatures that plagued a little community called Perfectjon.
~ And both the “borrowed” and the “blue” are in the form of true blue hero who borrows a rocket pack to battle Nazis who invade Hollywood!
The War of the Worlds (1953)
Smashing sci-fi film that is a landmark for special effects.
Martians invade Earth with total destructive powers which are seemingly unstoppable. Mankind must find a way to beat them before all is Lost.
In spite of the uproar and considerable success of Orson Welles' 1938 radio adaptation of the H.G Wells novel, War Of The Worlds was a topic that directors were staying well away from. Such highly esteemed men as Cecil B. DeMille and Alfred Hitchcock were rumored to be interested, but it always came down to a worry that the special effects needed for the story were too much of a headache.
Enter producer George Pal, noted for Puppetoon shorts, managed to sway the big wigs at Paramount that it could indeed be done.
Directed by Byron Haskin, this version of the source moves the location from Edwardian England to 20th Century America, and was a treat because the watching American public were genuinely unnerved at the sight of contemporary America being reduced to rubble by an invading force.
The makers furthered our sense of dread by only letting us glimpse the aliens once in a wonderful scene (respectfully homaged in Stephen Spielberg's 2005 version of the source). Other than that scene, we are subjected to attack after attack from shiny Martian machines and ground breaking effects working their magic on an impressionable audience.
Outside of those known to hardcore sci-fi fans, the cast doesn't contain any stars of note — probably due to all the money being used on the effects. Many of them come across as wooden beyond compare, though the lovely Ann Robinson lights up every scene she is in.
War Of The Worlds 1953 still stands proud as a brave and hugely enjoyable picture whose importance has never been (nor should it be) understated. And even allowing for nostalgic fervor from this particular viewer, I heartily recommend this film to anyone interested in template movies for the sci-fi genre. 7/10
Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001)
Ass Blasters R US!
The third movie in the Tremors series of films is adequate entertainment for the fans. Michael Gross returns as Burt, who in turn returns to Perfection to find it a tourist haven of Graboid fans. Into the mix is a nefarious real estate deal that threatens the very existence of the townsfolk. But of course, the Graboids and their mutated offspring don't care about such things.
If you're not expecting too much then this serves up some good straight-to-video fun. The formula remains the same, with Burt the paranoid savior of Perfection getting some good lines, while the return of characters from the first film is a splendid bonus for the fans. There's some snarky asides to the perils/cheats of tourist traps, and the real estate rape of the land angle is driven home without overkill. Safe if undemanding creature feature fare. 6/10
The Rocketeer (1991)
The Rocketeer is directed by Joe Johnston and co-written by Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo and William Dear. It is based on Dave Stevens' comic book The Rocketeer. It stars Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton and Paul Sorvino. Music is scored by James Horner and cinematography by Hiro Narita.
It took eight years to get to the screen, with many rewrites, changes in personal, changes in setting etc. The only thing consistent was Disney's inconsistency.
Once out, the film received generally positive reviews. But it posted only a small profit in the wake of a Tim Burton inspired reinvention of the Super Hero genre. The Rocketeer fell away into cultdom, the sequels planned were shelved, and its reputation remains to this day one of being a misfire.
Unfair say I!
The Rocketeer is a lovingly crafted adventure film, nodding towards the serials of the 1930s. It's awash with period Hollywood delights, Art Deco imagery, a damsel in distress, a square jawed hero, Nazi villains, wonderful effects, and a blunderbuss Zeppelin finale.
Backed by beautiful smooth tone photography and an evocative heart-stirring music score, it's a family friendly blockbuster that ticks all the requisite boxes. The quality of the action sequences still hold up today, and Johnston — who wanted the job big time — directs with a knowing grasp of the setting.
Crucially, he never once loses a grip on the tone and pacing. There's no self parody here, no deep Freudian dissection of the main character. Just an honest-to-goodness good against bad axis, with a romantic cause deftly wafted over the proceedings.
The role of Cliff Secord (The Rocketeer) proved hard to cast, where Vincent D'Onofrio turned it down and "name" actors such as Dennis Quaid, Emilio Estevez, Kurt Russell, and Bill Paxton auditioned for the part. Paxton, it's believed, was very close to getting it as well. Disney wanted an A list man, Johnny Depp and Kevin Costner were mooted, but Johnston had a feel for unknown Billy Campbell and managed to convince nervous Disney heads that he was perfect.
Much of the scorn that has flown towards The Rocketeer has landed at Campbell's door. Again, this is unfair.
It's hard to tell if one of those A list actors could have made the character work better, for it helps in this instance to not have a familiar face propelling the adventure. There's an innocence, an awkwardness to Campbell's portrayal that just sits right for a guy stumbling upon a rocket pack and finding himself submerged in a chase and harry battle against bad guys.
He also has the looks, a handsome dude who creates a homespun based chemistry with the sensuous Connelly.
It's Dalton's movie, though. He's having a devil of a time as the chief villain. Modeled on Errol Flynn and the spurious notion that he was once a Nazi spy, Dalton has the looks, the gusto, the mustache twirling shiftiness and a voice perfect for such material. A roll call of great character actors fill out the support slots, with Terry O'Quinn, Paul Sorvino and Ed Lauter particularly striking the right chords.
A smashing piece of escapism, no pretensions or ideas above its station. The willingness to tap into the basic premise of a comic book actioner and entertain in grand Hollywood terms, to be applauded. And I do, and I do love it so. 8/10
I bought the music score for it as well.
Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
~ The Space Children (1958)