Cannonball Run II (1984) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The wheels have finally fallen off of the car-themed pictures of one-time box office king Burt Reynolds. The Cannonball Run II is the fifth collaboration between Reynolds and director Hal Needham, while this sequel is a better product that the original Cannonball Run, the absence of any artistic intent, or comedic by-play ranks this as one of the worst in Reynolds’ vast trove of cinematic turkeys.
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Get Hard (2015) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Get Hard is an embarrassingly bad, misguided, offensive and somewhat depressing movie that is supposedly a comedy. Farrell has to kiss a dick, hilarious? Not, so much. This material may have been better served in the hands of Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd back in their Trading Places hey-day. In today’s world, it’s old-hat, the jokes are forced and the leads aren’t particularly funny, they flounder on-screen under Etan Cohen’s unfocused direction.
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The Last Witch Hunter (2015) – Review

3 Stars

The Last Witch Hunter is the type of movie I refer to as ‘gloriously goofy.’ This the kind of over-plotted, backstory-heavy, horror/fantasy/sci-fi mash-up that I typically disdain, but this time all the B-movie elements aline and make for a solid guilty pleasure. It seems that every-time star Vin Diesel steps away from his Furious franchise, it’s to appear in a shabby fantasy film. He obviously has an appreciation for the genre, but his contributions like Babylon A.D. and Riddick (2013) have been forgettable trash, The Last Witch Hunter provides Diesel with an appealing character in a film that is slickly directed, and written with more wit and imagination than was probably necessary, especially for the foreign markets that will no-doubt eat this stuff up, with a cast of familiar actors in supporting roles that don’t call for heavy dramatic lifting.
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From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

From Dusk Til Dawn is a tale of two movies, each battling for screen time. Like Grindhouse, this vampire story could have played out in a double feature. Instead the narrative is split into halves, the first is a hostage picture with strong dialogue, the second a horror movie with little talking and lots of visual mayhem. The former section works better than the latter half. The screenplay from scribe Quentin Tarantino is literate and overly violent, not surprising given the writer’s other works. The film’s main problem is in not providing a main character that is sympathetic or likable, the Gecko brothers are raging psychopaths.
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The Black Cauldron (1985) – Review

2 Stars

Walt Disney Studio’s uneven output during the 1970-1980s was a cause for dis-concern amongst those that had grown up with the seminal classics from the mouse house. I didn’t grow interested in animated Disney pictures until The Little Mermaid, which also happened to be the hit that reignited the studio’s dominance. Going back and revisiting The Black Cauldron, over thirty years later, this in an undeniably weak entry in the venerable history of Disney classics.
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Chasers (1994) – Review

2 Stars

I’m stunned a movie like Chasers was made, it’s so unconventional and full of minor digressions that it’s simply amazing Warner Bros. gave it a nation-wide release. Who did they think was going to show up? Chasers wants to be a throwback to the satirical/message pictures of the 1970s. Instead, it’s a mess of whimsy, illogical motivation, lazy writing and bad casting choices. Tom Berenger is the only one on-screen who seems to understand that he’s in a black comedy.
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European Vacation (1985) – Review

2 Stars

European Vacation has the elements for a classic comedy and greatly disappoints. The writers go through the motions while failing to further develop the characters, and often sticking them in stock sit-com situations. It’s a boring film, the first Vacation had the pay-off of Wally-world at the climax, this sequel just lays there on the screen rather listless. The filmmakers have taken the edges off the picture and softened up the material to make the Griswolds more accessible to family audiences. There is no sexpot attempting to woo Clark from his loyal family, only assorted rude Europeans making life miserable for the ever-traveling Americans.
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The Cannonball Run (1981) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Reynolds and many of his pals star in yet another reckless-driving movie on the order of Smokey & the Bandit. The story concerns a coast-to-coast car race that defies the country’s speed laws. But the jokes and theme is so worn by now that the film runs out of steam long before the cars cross the finish line. A steady stream of corny gags accompanies the crashes and mechanical mishaps. The good breezy fun of the Bandit outings is sorely missing.
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The Perfect Storm (2000) – Review

3 Stars

The Perfect Storm is a perfectly fine example of Hollywood craftsmanship. This is a solid tale told with narrative clarity, visual sharpness, and good casting in every role. Wolfgang Peterson, known for his submarine deep-sea thriller Das Boat, rolls his story out slowly over the first forty minutes, before sustained nautical action ratchets up the tension.
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Crossroads (1986) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Walter Hill’s affection for blues music is evident in this supernatural road movie about a duo of blues travelers. The esteemed director has employed musician Ry Cooder to compose the score to nearly all of his films. Cooder, an accomplished bluesmen, has contributed a wealth of music to Crossroads, which is the film’s strongest point. The story wobbles as Ralph Macchio and Joe Seneca wander through the countryside looking for the devil. You have to give Crossroads points for combining elements of The Karate Kid, Honkytonk Man, and pop culture myth into an oddity that is always interesting, but not much worth all the fuss.
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Fight to the Finish (2016) – Review

2 Stars

Good son, Sean McGill (Shane Warren Jones) is a highly touted amateur fighter in MMA. Having recently won a local tournament and donated the winnings to his financially struggling parents, Sean is eyeing a professional career in the sport. His father was a former champion (although cage fighting didn’t exist before 1993) that won a hellacious battle in 1985. That sequence opens the film and immediately the budgetary limitations and lack of quality fight choreography are evident. If those things are bothersome for fans of the genre then it’s better to move on, neither improve as the film plays out. However, more forgiving audience members who give this b-movie a shot will be rewarded with the likable screen presence of Shane Warren Jones and an easy flowing story that doesn’t stumble on the way to its fight climax.
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