Four stories by four directors, Spielberg, Landis, Dante and Miller, a great collection of directors and a neat selection of spooky tales. This is actually a great movie adaptation of the series which doesn't forget its place and go overboard, the stories are remakes from the original series but including one original story.
The first tale is about a racist bigot who is somehow transported back and forth through time from Nazi Germany to Vietnam experiencing racism against himself. An obviously strong message of justice or revenge against prejudice in a very simple way. Landis does a reasonable job with the simple tale but its a little uninspired and personally I would of liked a more horror based tale from the master of comedic terror.
Tale two from Spielberg is again rather uninspired but you can tell miles off its by Spielberg with its warm glow and gentle heart. A tale of old folk who dream of becoming young again and with the help of a mysterious old man in their retirement home they do just that overnight. Easily the tear jerker of the four, very sweet, very cozy with strong similarities to the Ron Howard movie 'Cocoon', did Howard possibly pinch the idea?
Tale three is clearly made by Dante, like tale two you can see the directors style straight away visually and design wise. Trademark Dante finger prints all over this with his fave actor Dick Miller used yet again. A fun and very eerie tale of a boy who can make anything he wishes come true and holds a group of people captive in his bizarre home. Pretending to be his family the small group of people are merely scared of the boy and can never leave fearing the young boy may wish something terrible upon them. Its a spooky tale if you think about it and works very well, parodied by The Simpson's in a 'Treehouse of Terror' episode surely means it deserves respect.
The final tale by Miller is a remake of the classic Twilight Zone episode which featured a young William Shatner 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet', again parodied by 'The Simpson's' earning it even more respect and fame. A terrified airline passenger is driven insane by a combination of the fear of flying and the fact he can see a monster on the wing of the plane ripping apart the engine. Probably the best of the tales with a great concept and cool creature to boot. John Lithgow plays the passenger going insane from fear nerves and anxiety with a performance equal to the original whilst the gremlin looks perfectly kooky and unnerving (Gremlin-ish).
Mixed bag of tales really, the two from Dante and Miller being the best, Spielberg's is reasonable but boring and Landis I think picked the wrong type of story to best suit his abilities. Love the bookend sequences with Dan Aykroyd and the overall visual style of the movie from all directors. My only wish is that the film were a tad more mysterious and sinister with its tales, but overall its a solid anthology.
The alternative (competitor?) to the Twilight Zone movie but not quite in the same league in my opinion. The film consists of three stories within a wrap around story told by a boy who is going to eaten by a witch of all things.
First tale see's a man use a 3000 year old mummy to kill a few select people (an adaptation of a Arthur Conan Doyle short). Not a bad story and handled reasonably well with good makeup on the mummy and some bloody deaths dealt out. Big cast names in this story with Buscemi and Christian Slater and a nice ending make this tale the second best of the three.
Second tale is an adaptation of a Stephen King story and the weakest of the three, an old man is sure he is cursed by a cat which is trying to kill him after it supposedly killed his sister. The reason behind this being the old mans pharmaceutical company killed many thousands of cats in testing a new drug. Pretty lame story really which isn't particularly spooky in the slightest. The cat is obviously some sort of demon which is cool and this is shown in the way it kills the hitman who has been hired to get rid of the cat, I just think it could of been more scary or eerie basically.
Third and final tale stars James Remar and is about a guy who witnesses the death of a man by a gargoyle type creature. The creature lets the witness live if he promises not to tell anyone of what he saw. Easily the best story even though its not explained too well and leaves you asking various questions by the end. Some great makeup and effects in the finale as we see a transformation similar to finale in 'The Fly' with Jeff Goldblum, really nicely done without the use of CGI, no surprise with Dick Smith being involved.
Overall not as good as 'Twilight Zone: the Movie' and a bit more adult with its content, more blood 'n' gore on show and some creepy monsters lend itself to some light scares. Still two of the stories are solid and quite sinister which I'm sure fans will enjoy if you like these type of horror anthologies. The overall quality just doesn't quite match the Twilight Zone standard that raised the bar originally.
Back in 1998 after the first asteroid disaster porn flick, we got this second very different take on the same idea. The first movie 'Deep Impact' had been a very serious sensible realistic angle on what would or could happen. This film was helmed by the one and only Michael Bay...hence it went down the over the top action packed cool gadget exploding set piece rammed popcorn fireball with enough gloss and shine to decorate Buck Palace.
What is so funny about this is the plot for this movie is exactly the same as 'Deep Impact', admittedly there isn't much scope for originality when an asteroid is heading to Earth but bloody hell! So yes an asteroid is heading to Earth and its a whopper! NASA are befuddled about what to do so they devise this plan to drill into the asteroids core (or near enough) and plant one of those ever handy nukes we have strewn around our planet for just such an occasion. For this they are gonna need Bruce Willis and his team of beer swillin' fist throwing womanising drunkies to save the day, thank God for Bruce Willis.
So the initial hook for this movie is the bunch of grimy grunts that are handed the job of saving the world. In the other film the team of astronauts were clean cut slickass all Americans (apart from the Russian) that all probably sat down to pee, this time the team are so utterly shabby and rebellious you tend to wonder how the hell they ever manage to get anything done without squabbling drinking or having random brawls. Willis' character shows how unstable he is in the first ten minutes by going after Batfleck's character with a shotgun! a grown adult is falling in love with his grown adult daughter...yeah sure that isn't too overly protective to worrying proportions.
I can't deny that this hook is a winner and Bay nurtures it perfectly. The gathering of the team montage is fun and badass as each member is brought in by officials from their own individual seedy locations, Buscemi's being the best. The casting for this team again is admittedly sheer brilliance, Buscemi is the...errr well he's virtually a seedy prostitute using Lothario that makes you wonder if age ever comes into it. Will Patton is the all round sense of reason for the team, Michael Clarke Duncan is basically the gruff muscle (could he really be anything else?), Batfleck is the handsome young guy who is bonking the romantic angle Liv Tyler and Owen Wilson in one of his first major roles plays a Texan cowboy type because...errm he comes from Texas in real life and has a Texan drawl.
Next to the D-team of heroes you have Keith David playing the gruff US military General who naturally hasn't revealed the entire plan, Fichtner plays the gruff golden boy US astronaut who also hasn't revealed the entire plan because he's in cahoots with the US military, Billy Bob Thornton is the good guy NASA controller who is the sense of reason on the ground and finally Peter Stormare naturally plays a Russian astronaut who comes across as drunk for most of the time. Yep so the cast line is pretty darn sweet no doubt, a solid ensemble.
As I've already explained and as I'm sure you're all aware of the other hook for this movie was the firework display show more commonly known as the special effects. The movie is ridiculous yes, we know this, but at no point does the movie ever try not to be ridiculous, Bay and co know what they are aiming for and they strike with lethal efficiency. The set pieces all look like something from a comicbook superhero flick, the gadgets are big bold and badass, the action is wild and furious with people getting killed off in various obligatory space-like ways and in general it all does look very good even to this day. Add to that the now known Bayisms such as mighty lens flares, mighty low camera angles, mighty explosions...even in space, sunsets, that specific colour palette he seems to regurgitate, slow motion close ups and his military fetish. The only things he doesn't manage to cram in here surprisingly are car porn and hot girly soft porn (Tyler most certainly does not qualify here).
The film in short was a huge huge success mainly because it caters for us...the regular folk. The heroes in the movie are all average Joe's with average looks and various defects (mainly mental), this isn't about big lantern jawed super men with huge biceps and rippling six-packs. The entire premise of regular blue collar bums getting called up to save the Earth is a winning formula that most will get behind. This also adds to the nice array of semi adult humour that is spread throughout the movie plus it cranks up the tension and emotions massively when the guys get into big trouble and you approach the predictable weepy ending. Its genuinely great fun to watch this group of everyday schmoes trying to get through NASA training with their attitudes towards the preppy clean cut environment they are now in and their average everyday physical issues such as being completely out of shape. You also relate and feel for them when the shit hits the fan and they're stuck in this scientific hi-tech terror situation with lots of confusing buttons.
Yep back in the day Bay knew how to throw out a good heavily buttered popcorn flick...before he milked it out of existence. The movie was targeted for the wider audience and it scored in every department, even the God awful Aerosmith power ballad cleaned up as teenage girls everywhere trembled at the knees. The film moved with an incredible pace which I found acceptable given the style of the movie and the fact we already had a slower burning asteroid strike movie earlier in the year. Likewise the authenticity of the whole thing was kinda dubious in places but really? does anyone really need to even question that aspect of it? its quite obvious what could possibly be done in reality and what probably couldn't.
Both of the asteroid flicks that landed back in 1998 were essentially exactly the same thing, they offered the same and delivered the same. Each movie offered the same but from a different angle...and they both worked! amazingly. End of the day as I said in my 'Deep Impact' review, that first movie was the equivalent of a much slower sensible simulator videogame. This movie is the equivalent of an arcade videogame, big bold loud bad colourful and in your face, it should rock you, and honesty for me this movie actually did just that.
When you see the poster for this movie it tells you everything you need to know. Its a mock cover of the famous Rolling Stone magazine featuring the aging 70's band 'Strange Fruit'. You can tell quite easily the movie is going to be a good laugh by the quite disturbingly haggard and unsexy looking pose from Nighy in the centre, its funny and icky at the same time.
The plot, as you can imagine, is all about getting the band back together for a reunion concert. Back in the day 'Strange Fruit' were on the brink of stardom but it all fell apart when their lead singer died of a drugs overdose. Twenty years later Rea trying to get the guys back on-board whilst having to deal with each members current problems and the confrontations that have reared up again. Eventually, once everybody is brought together again, it is discovered their old lead guitarist (brother of their old lead singer) has also apparently died of a drugs overdose (as is the norm in this business). This forces the band to hire a much younger guitarist for their comeback adding more tension. Can the lads all come together and prove to themselves they've still got what it takes? or they had what it took originally to make it to the big time?
I think the casting is the one main factor that makes this film work, the small British ensemble casting of Nighy, Nail, Rea, Connolly and Spall. Not only does this group of oddball character actors gel together perfectly but visually they actually look like an aging 70's rock band too. Nighy as the flaky somewhat slow long haired rock-star lead singer, Connolly has always looks the part of a hippie rock singer so no worries there, Rea with his curly Brian May hairdo, Nail the deep conscientious heart of the band, the hard worker with strong morals and family values and finally Spall looks like a dirty unwashed biker with Inland Revenue issues.
I liked the whole loggerhead scenario between Nighy's character and Nail's character. Nighy's character being the epitome of a glamorous fame obsessed money grabber, his larger then life rock-star lifestyle clashing against the quiet brooding song writer of Nail's character. Nighy does tend to be the problem in the band for the most part with his overbearing wife and the fact he is still haunted by the reality that he was hired as a replacement for the bands old lead singer. He tries to elevate his performances with glam costumes and stage effects because he's insecure over his own abilities, now being much older. This in turn affects the band and their overall performances which provides both amusing and sober sequences.
The situations and scenarios are really authentic within this film. The group having to slum it around backstreet nightclubs for work and recognition, dodgy stage safety, trying to re-tune their skills whilst bickering with each other, bad food on the go, little money, poor accommodation and the obligatory sex drugs and booze problems. This angle is stronger because its also about a group of old men trying to rekindle something great they once had, reigniting an old flame. The outlook on life and the music is very different from their younger days, its not all about sex drugs and roll 'n' roll anymore, there is more to it than that. Sure they wanna be like their younger selves again and uncork that lightning in a bottle but the team has to learn to settle old scores, move on and help each other with their dreams.
The locations humour visuals and dialog is all typically British and it is a hoot to watch but the fall outs and reconciliations along the way do get a bit frustrating, you just wanna slap them and tell them to get on with it. The movie does tend to drag a tad through the middle, there are some nice montages and some great original musical numbers but the break up of the band midway brings with it lots of moping by Nail's character who can be overly broody. Its mainly Nail Nighy and Rea who carry the film honesty, Connolly and Spall tend to fade in and out of the background whilst Matheson does his best Liam Gallagher walk at one point. The finale and its little twist is cute but completely predictable, but we all knew it would end on a happy note I'm sure.
A fantastic nod to the late 60's 70's glam rock era of course, many influences, very relatable for many I'm sure and very very very British with its dry wit and toilet humour. Personally I think the film should of been called 'Strange Fruit'...rock 'n' roll forever!
Fresh off the success of the 'Crocodile Dundee' movies where Hogan played a rough tough lovable roguish bushman, Hogan is back going for gold again playing...a rough tough lovable roguish criminal. Only this criminal has changed his ways after a near death situation and he now believes he's an angel on a mission from God, but is he?
Thing about this film that is disappointing is the fact they don't really make the most of the idea. We're never entirely sure if Hogan's character is actually an angel, was his afterlife experience just a dream or not and if he's really invincible, we're led to believe he's a heavenly being through various lucky scrapes. For the whole run time this concept isn't really explored as well as it could have been I think because this character doesn't really do much accept walk out in front of trucks. There are times he puts himself at risk helping others like standing up against some gang members and setting up religious themed tricks but on the whole its all dialog.
Now there's nothing wrong with good dialog, emotional dialog...but this doesn't really have that (Paul Hogan comedy remember), you really do expect there to be more in the shape of visual comedy. Most of the time he's chatting to folk, trying to either con or assist them and of course having to fend off his real time wife Kozlowski. Gee I wonder whose idea it was to cast her in the film. I suppose it is neat to have us the audience unsure as to whether this guy is really an angel or not but this also kinda leads to the movie being really very dull. Like I say nothing really happens that is exciting or remotely interesting other than him beating some guys up once and walking out in front of a truck.
Things become really boring when he meets up with a wheelchair bound Elias Koteas whom he makes friends with. This is the main plot point in the film and its incredibly boring, things were dull before this but dear Lord it gets worse. The movies highlight appears to be a chase sequence between a fat cop and Koteas in his wheelchair...and the fat cop can't catch him...on foot...riiiiiight. They actually do try and make this sequence really intense as Koteas ducks under stuff, turns corners sharply and pumps away to increase his speed...I'm serious here. Plus I really gotta mention how lame of an ending it is for Koteas' character, he bumps into something and ends up fatally stabbing himself in the thigh...laugh out loud!
In the end we actually discover Hogan is an angel...oh spoil...whatever. Its only then that you realise how cool this film could of been with more ghosty spiritual moments like that. Don't get me wrong its a nice ending but it sure took some strength to get there sheesh! The tagline for this movie is [i]'The guy from down under is working for the man upstairs'[/i]...I mean sure its a quirky line but are they really still banking on the fact Hogan is an Aussie?? still pushing and depending on that unimportant geographical detail! Surely they exhausted that with the 'Mick Dundee' movies...we get it, he's an Aussie, cultural differences gag officially milked.