Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro has made a name for himself playing psychos in memorable Martin Scorsese pictures, such as "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "Goodfellas," and "Cape Fear." In "Top Gun" director Tony Scott's thriller "The Fan," De Niro creates another psycho but one with greater credibility. As Gil Renard, De Niro plays a Willie Loman-like knife salesman whose obsession with baseball in general and the San Francisco Giants in particular takes him over the edge. When the Giants play $40-million to obtain the services of Atlanta superstar slugger Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes of "White Men Can't Jump"), Gil gives new meaning to fan worship. He thinks that Bobby can solve all of the Giants' problems. During a radio call-in show, Gil defends Bobby from the barbs of catty talk show host Jewel Stern (Ellen Barkin).
The plot of "The Fan" (** OUT OF ****)cross-cuts between the lives of Gil and Bobby. Gil's sales sink to the point that he finds himself out of work with the knife
Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro has made a name for himself playing psychos in memorable Martin Scorsese pictures, such as "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "Goodfellas," and "Cape Fear." In "Top Gun" director Tony Scott's thriller "The Fan," De Niro creates another psycho but one with greater credibility. As Gil Renard, De Niro plays a Willie Loman-like knife salesman whose obsession with baseball in general and the San Francisco Giants in particular takes him over the edge. When the Giants play $40-million to obtain the services of Atlanta superstar slugger Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes of "White Men Can't Jump"), Gil gives new meaning to fan worship. He thinks that Bobby can solve all of the Giants' problems. During a radio call-in show, Gil defends Bobby from the barbs of catty talk show host Jewel Stern (Ellen Barkin).Read More »from FILM REVIEW of ''THE FAN" (1996)
. "Brand of the Devil" qualifies as a second-rate horse opera about three heroic Texas Rangers working undercover. They are trying to flush a gang of rustlers out that have been preying on a defenseless female rancher. "Randy Rides Alone" director Harry L. Fraser helmed this thoroughly ordinary nag from a screenplay by Elmer Clifton. If you're counting, "Brand of the Devil" is the fourteenth entry in the long-running PRC Texas Rangers franchise. PRC produced 22 of these epics. Incidentally, not only was "Brand of the Devil" (** out of ****) the last Texas Rangers movie starring Jim Newill but also it was his final film. This saddle-sore sagebrusher unfolds with this noble foreword: "Dedicated to the law officers of the Old West, who led the fight for law and order in the pioneer days of the country in 1880." Actually, our heroes have a rather easy time turning the tables on these owlhoots. Essentially, the good guys know their quarry because they have been investigating him.Read More »from FILM REVIEW of "BRAND of the DEVIL" (1944)
Since the epilogue in "Iron Man" (2008) when Nick Fury broached the idea of the Avengers Initiative to billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist Tony Stark, Marvel Comics has been patiently whetting our appetites for "The Avengers." This imaginative ensemble epic assembles not only Iron Man and Hulk, but also Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Nick Fury. Agent Phil Coulson returns, too. Ostensibly, these paragons of virtue are all that stand between Thor's scheming step-brother Loki and the fate of mankind. Happily, Loki brings more to the table than he did in Kenneth Branagh's anemic "Thor." Indeed, Thor and Loki seem to have matured considerably during the interim. Loki ranks as a first-rate, diabolical villain; he is ready, willing, and eager to kill anybody who confronts him, and actor Tom Hiddleston relishes every moment with glee. Ultimately, "The Avengers" (**** out of ****) qualifies as Marvel's ambitious attempt to deliver an all-star, no-holds-barred, alien
The energetic Jason Statham action thriller "Safe" (***1/2 OUT OF ****) should assuage the appetite of his hardcore fan base. Indeed, "Remember the Titans" director Boaz Yakin provides action, action, action, with a high body count, and some snappy dialogue. Imagine "The Transporter" trilogy minus the hero's fast car packed with gadgets and you'll have a good idea what to expect from this swiftly-paced, no-holds-barred, shoot'em up about a tough-as-nails, ex-NYPD detective who becomes a guardian angel for an adolescent Chinese girl on the lam from both the Triads and the Russian mafia. Mind you, as surefire as "Safe" is, it doesn't surpass Statham's previous epic "Killer Elite" with Robert De Niro and Clive Owen. Nevertheless, "Safe" tops last years' second-rate "The Mechanic." Statham delivers his usual poetry in motion performance. The violence-prone villains qualify as a tenacious horde that keep our resourceful protagonist dodging fists, feet, and bullets. When he isn't clashing
The romantic fantasy adventure "10,000 BC" (** out of ****) resembles a gentler, kinder, younger version of Mel Gibson's bloodthirsty, R-rated "Apocalypto।" Predictable for all of its generic 109 minutes, this derivative PG-13 epic qualifies as little more than slickly-made hokum for teens that haven't seen better movies। The scenic "10,000 B।C।" borrows bits and pieces from "The Jungle Book," "Braveheart," "Mysterious Island," the John Wayne western "The Searchers," and "The Chronicles of Narnia." The impressive computer-generated special effects that recreate the era impart more depth than the simple-minded screenplay by "Independence Day" writer & director Roland Emmerich and co-scribe Harald Kloser. The most exciting scenes depict ersatz larger-than-life animals. First, huge woolly mammoths go on the rampage twice with suspenseful results. These brutes boast tusks the size of tree branches and resemble the offspring of a prehistoric Mastodon and the "Sesame Street" critter Mr.Read More »from FILM REVIEW of "10,000 BC"
The idea for "Men in Black," the latest alien opus about cracking down on extraterrestrials hiding out on earth, conjures up a galaxy of surreal comic potential. If you're looking for a moderately entertaining, mega-budgeted, "Far Side" farce that vapor locks just shy of "Ghostbusters," "Men in Black" is your ticket. Even if this uneven outer limits comedy doesn't beam you up, its alleged million-dollar-per-minute special effects that infest the plot with a spawn of dorky aliens should impress you. Mind you, nothing in this delightful movie should give you nightmares. Despite its abundant sight-gags and eye-popping aliens, "Men in Black" frizzles because it relies on the familiar 'oxidize the earth' plot. "Men-In-Black" is a great looking movie hampered by a lame plot. Based on Lowell Cunningham's obscure but sensational Marvel comic from the early 1990s, the story sounds like "Dragnet" meets "Ghostbusters." The subversive but inventive Ed Solomon script struggles to keep a deadpan
Anything can happen in science fiction. The $200-million, sci-fi spectacle "Battleship" (**1/2 OUT OF ****) is as implausible as it is predictable. Nevertheless, despite its contrivance and familiarity, this outlandish, larger-than-life, PG-13 rated, juvenile extravaganza will keep you entertained for most of its lengthy 131 minutes. The anemic end credits scene isn't worth waiting around for but it does assure us about the prospect of a sequel. If you accept the proposition that pugnacious aliens from another galaxy would attack Earth, then none of "Battleship" is far-fetched. The chief problem is predictability. "Battleship" is a contemporary "War of the Worlds" knock-off set on the high seas. Of course, the U.S. Navy defeats these hostile extraterrestrials, with a little help from a former Asian adversary. "Friday Night Lights" director Peter Berg rehabilitates the Japanese for "Battleship." A Japanese naval officer figures out how to locate the aliens after the heroes lose radar.
"Lady Gangster" qualifies as a lively little World War II era B-picture about crime and punishment in America. The prevalent themes in "Lady Gangster" are women versus society, women versus men, and women versus other women. "Danger Signal" director Robert Florey and "Busses Roar" scenarist Anthony Coldeway have contrived a serviceable thriller based on the Dorothy Mackaye and Carlton Miles play "Gangstress, or Women In Prison." The attention to detail is above average. Florey stages a dandy little fistfight between the good guy and the criminals near the climax. Florey and Coldeway had to toe the line with the Production Code Administration in regard to their depiction of the heroine as an accomplice to bank robbers. Consequently, they make her somebody with whom we can sympathize. They provide her with a back story as a failed actress who turned to crime only as a last resort to survive. Moreover, they establish that she is not a career criminal.
"Lady Gangster" opens with Dorothy
"Men in Black 3" (**1/2 OUT OF ****) may be Tommy Lee Jones' last "Men in Black" movie. The Oscar winning "Fugitive" actor makes what amounts to a glorified cameo in the second sequel. He shows up for about a quarter of an hour during the first act of this amusing, but tonally uneven farce and then disappears until about the last ten minutes of act three. Presumably, Jones wasn't agile enough to impersonate himself as a younger man in act two of this lively sequel. Consequently, "Men in Black" director Barry Sonnenfeld cast Josh Brolin as a younger Agent K for the contrived time travel plot in "Tropic Thunder" scenarist Etan Cohen's inventive but convoluted screenplay. Things seem considerably more realistic in "Men in Black 3" as a vindicative villain takes advantage of time travel to trip back to July 1969 and knock off Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) mere moments before the historic Apollo Moon launch. Meaning, since Agent K would no longer exist, Agent K couldn't have recruited Agent J.Read More »from FILM REVIEW of "MEN in BLACK 3" (2012)
- Mike Miao | Author Blog Posts – Tue, Jul 10, 2012 3:18 AM EDT
Read More »from FILM REVIEW of ''SNOW WHITE and the HUNTSMAN" (2012)
Hollywood has been cranking out cinematic adaptations of Snow White since the silent 1916 version. In 1933, vampy cartoon heroine Betty Boop played the raven-haired princess in a 7-minute, surrealistic, black & white cartoon from Max Fleischer's Studios before Disney immortalized our fair maiden. Recently, "Immortals" director Tarsem Singh helmed an adaptation of the Snow White fairy tale called "Mirror, Mirror" with Julia Roberts as the sinful stepmom. Now, rookie British director Rupert Sanders and freshman scenarist Evan Daugherty, along with "The Blind Side" scribe John Lee Hancock and "Drive's" Hossein Amini, have reimagined this melodrama as a much darker chick flick. They've made it palatable not only for girls but also guys. Imagine "Joan of Arc" crossed with "The Lord of the Rings," and you've got a good idea about what to expect. As the second take on the venerable Brothers Grimm fairy tale this year, "Snow White and the Huntsman" (*** out of ****) departs considerably the
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