The End (1978) – Review

1 Star

It speaks to the popularity of star Burt Reynolds that The End was a box-office success. The film was originally conceived for the neurotic Woody Allen and although Reynolds works hard to entertain, the picture is a boring and cartoonish look at a very serious issue. Dom DeLuise is onboard to add some laughs to the pitch-black material that does included some clever lines, but mostly just hammers in its one-note joke over and over.
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Homeboy (1988) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Homeboy is a meandering and aimless film about a meandering and aimless man. That man is Johnny Walker, played by Mickey Rourke in another one of his signature ‘quirky’ roles. Walker isn’t so much a boxer as he is a drunk who likes to fight and those fights happen to be in a low-rent contest in front of other drunks. He may have had a once promising career as a pugilist, but those days are long past when we are introduced to the character. He now suffers from brain damage, though the film never makes it clear if this is from concussive blows or excessive alcohol consumption.
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The Magnificent Seven (2016) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Antoine Fuqua’s remake of John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven, which itself was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, is the best traditional big studio-released western in over 20 years. Lately revisionist takes on the genre such as The Revenant, True Grit, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight have dominated the format. So, it’s refreshing to see a sturdy unabashedly earnest honest-to-goodness ‘cowboy’ movie. This marks the third successful collaboration between director Antoine Fuqua and leading man Denzel Washington. Although, equally captivating are Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio.
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The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) – Review

1 Star

The Bonfire of the Vanities is one of the most infamous misfires of the 1990’s. The behind-the-scenes antics of the production were detailed in juicy fashion by Julie Salamon in her best-seller The Devil’s Candy. That unflattering account of the tumultuous shoot is far more entertaining than anything in this adaption of Tom Wolfe’s darkly satirical novel. This soft-boiled adaptation never had a chance to succeed, but the result is a dull, confusing, and miscast picture. Bonfires ranks up there with the worst films of 1990.
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The Man from Left Field (1993) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

To call any Burt Reynolds’ movie a ‘vanity project’ would be missing the point, that’s exactly what they are intended to be. At least here, Reynolds gets a chance to work with his favorite director, himself. The Man from Left Field is a TV-Movie that was shot primarily on the star’s large compound in Jupiter, Florida. This eager to please feature is an often charming little story about a mysterious man, who literally appears in left field, that coaches a team of misfits into a little league all-star squad. I think there was a longer version of the screenplay at one point, scenes feel alternately rushed and over-long, and the Reynolds’ character’s back story is oddly missing.
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Breakheart Pass (1975) – Review

3 Stars

This Alistair MacLean scripted tale of murder aboard a moving locomotive in the 1870s is basically dinner theater with fine actors. The material may be route but the fully capable cast make this is an entertaining experience, even when director Tom Gries stumbles with spatial form and lackadaisical direction. Lead actor Charles Bronson is again a man of few words, he’s almost silent until the third act when his real identity is revealed, but that works in creating a mysterious aura around his villain character.
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Uppercut Man (1988) – Review

1 Star

Uppercut Man a.k.a. The Opponent is an Italian made cheapie that serves as a lower echelon example of that country’s exploitation era. The B-movie producers in Italy were renowned for their constant sword & sandals rip-offs of Conan the Barbarian or The Beastmaster. So, it should come as no surprise that the Italian’s eventually turned their attention to ripping-off Rocky.
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Sully (2016) – Review

3 Stars

The infamous U.S. Airways water landing into the Hudson River by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger is the basis for the new film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks. Anchored by another tremendous performance in a career full of them, Sully offers a sobering, eminently worthwhile testament to Tom Hank’s ability to hold the screen. The movie is rigorous, serious and well-crafted, with Hanks employing only his economical emotional reactions and physical presence to craft another memorable role.
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Elysium (2013) – Review

3 Stars

Elysium isn’t the masterpiece some were expecting following director Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. That film was nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture. That’s a tough act to follow and it proves too much for the talented writer/director. Elysium is a better than average sci-fi tale that presents some intriguing ideas but never ignites they way his previous film did. Matt Damon, leaned out and bald, makes a compelling anti-hero who is forced into the position of rebel due to a series of increasingly dire events.
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Out to Sea (1997) – Review

3 Stars

Out to Sea represents the last entertaining movie that Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau would appear in together. The following year gave us The Odd Couple II, a sequel thirty years in the making that wasn’t worth the wait. I actually prefer this breezy comedy to their more popular Grumpy Old Men flicks. Lemmon is cast as a recent widower and Matthau as his ex-brother in law, a man with a huge debt to local hoods and loose morals.
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Magic Mike XXL (2015) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

This sequel to 2012’s surprise smash hit, is a lesser film of quality in terms of writing and direction, while the polished abs of its males stars are on full display, the screenplay could have used some tightening up too. Magic Mike XXL is a ‘road movie’ and the film has it’s moments, but the loss of original director Steven Soderberg hinders the picture from reaching the heights of the first.
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Killing Salazar (2016) – Review

3 Stars

The long fall from grace for action icon Steven Seagal has been a burden to his many fans. Since 2003, Seagal has appeared in almost 30 straight-to-DVD movies. That’s two dozen more than the 10 pictures from 1988-2002 that were global box-office sensations. In the last decade things have grown even more dire as Seagal has become a supporting player in his own movies. That’s the case, once again, in Killing Salazar. Even though Seagal and UFC legend Georges St-Pierre are featured prominently on the cover art, neither man has more than 3 minutes combined screen-time in the film’s first 30 minutes. This type of bait-and-switch is usually the kiss of doom for Seagal enthusiasts. However, Killing Salazar stands on its own quirky merits and distances itself from the rest of the pack (Seagal has 6 movies coming in the next 12 months).
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Hard Target 2 (2016) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

For all wall-to-wall action and martial arts mayhem you’d be hard pressed to beat Hard Target 2. Once again reinvigorating a discarded franchise is director Roel Reiné, the Paul Greengrass of the straight-to-DVD world. Like Greengrass, Reiné should be off crafting important works of cinema instead of toiling away in the action genre, but as a fan I appreciate him for lending his skills and craftsmanship to silly tales of ‘one-man army’ heroics. Twenty-three years after Van Damme tore through the Bayou with Lance Henriksen in pursuit, B-movie action icon Scott Adkins headlines the Van Damme-less sequel that supplants the action from the swamps of Louisiana to the jungles of Miramar.
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