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Boring fourth film in the Sniper series lacks the presence of Tom Berenger, which is a blow to this film, but the oddly charming Billy Zane returns to the series as the veteran sniper who is pared with young recruit Chad Michael Collins (the son of Berenger's character from the prior films). Some of the sniper scenes are still interesting, but the story about Collins wanting revenge on another sniper who foiled his mission at the start of the film and killed most his squad is pretty dull, as is the romantic subplot about him and a female British officer. The first film was not all that great, but the sniper action was unique, particularly the focus on the use of camouflage, which hadn't been used all the much in movies, but it didn't really warrant six sequels. Watch the WWII sniper film "Enemy at the Gates" instead for a film that's far more suspenseful, well acted, and thought provoking.
Jim Carrey plays a horny high school student, as are all teenage boys in 80s sex comedies, when he is seduced by Lauren Hutton, who happens to be a blond centuries old vampire who needs the blood of a virgin to retain her youth and beauty. Carrey also has a wholesome high school sweetheart, who then gets jealous of the vampire seductress and lots of unfunny door slamming farcical shenanigans ensure, which includes Carrey's annoying, equally horny friends, and Hutton's vampire minions, one of whom is Cleavon Little playing Hutton's butler as an ugly gay stereotype, which is a "comedy" element that didn't age well at all. It's also odd that a sex comedy is rated PG-13. However, in the film's favor, Carrey is likable in a fairly restrained comedic role compared to the broad comedy he later became famous for, and there is one sequence at a high school dance were Hutton and Carrey's girlfriend have a dance battle of sorts that fairly clever, so it's not completely terrible. As a bonus, at the start of that high school dance scene, look fast for a young Megan Mullally, who checks in Carrey and his girlfriend for the Halloween costume dance. You can also look fast for Dean Stockwell as a valet attendant before his late 80s career renaissance following his role as Ben in David Lynch's "Blue Velvet." Also of interest, one of the films' four writers went on to co-write some animated classics such as "The Lion King," "James and the Giant Peach" and "Monster Inc." and the film's cinematographer was Adam Greenberg, who'd later go on to shoot classics like "Near Dark" and Terminator 1 & 2. Overall, this is not an 80s comedy classic and is in fact quite offensive at times for various reason, but is certainly not the worst 80s comedy out there (that distinction probably belongs to "Soul Man," where C. Thomas Howell poses as a young black man in order to get into Harvard). FUN FACT! The film was written for Elvira, but initially offered to Morgan Fairchild, who turned down the role that eventually went to Hutton.
Solid Italian Max Mad ripoff has tons of tricked our car and motorcycle desert chases, along with some pretty good Road Warrior copycat costumes, which is fun, even if the action is nothing compared to George Miller's groundbreaking films. Instead of fuel, the survivors of this post apocalyptic hell are in search of water. Though lacking the massive production values of Kevin Coster's "Waterworld" or even Miller's "The Road Warrior," director Giuliano Carnimeo (billed as Jules Harrison) manages to infuse some decent thrills out of his minuscule budget and the corny script from the same writing team who brought you the equally silly "1990: The Bronx Warriors" and "The New Gladiators" (they also wrote the Lucio Fulci horror classics "Manhattan Baby" "The House by the Cemetary"). However, the film is hampered by lousy acting, a dull story, and terrible dubbing (though that does offer camp value). Also, the film takes a major nosedive in terms of pacing once the main character comes across a community of wastelanders. From there, it's a bunch of boring talk about how they can get more water and nothing much of interest. That is until the final's climactic road battle, which although nothing spectacular and plays out more like a demolition derby than a coherent action sequence is still a step above most low budget warriors of the wasteland films of this ilk. Overall, far from a classic, but solidly enjoyable if you enjoy this sort of disreputable film genre.
As with the first two Descendants movies, my kids enjoyed them much more than I did. The idea of all the Disney villains being forced to live locked up (my magic) on an island by themselves does have a fun "Escape from New York" vibe to it, but this is the Disney Channel so there's teenybopper singing, dancing, and angst. For this installment, there is now a lottery of sorts where the children of a villains can get a a reprieve and get off the island, as did Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay. I found it odd how happy all the villain kids were for those chosen (this time the descendants Mr. Smee, Lady Tremaine, and Dr. Facilier's [they're really desperate for villains with that one]) when it wasn't them picked, but that's the good natured attitude of this film about evil people. Another annoyance is the film is padded out with some flashback musical montage sequences from the first two installments. Maybe the classic sins-of-the-father themes were an interesting starting point, as was the "Escape from New York" Disney villain prison island, but the songs are annoying and the petty teen drama is a lot to suffer through. Honestly, my favorite moment watching this film was hearing a cover of a T-Rex song during a milk commercial. But again, I was not the target audience for this film and my elementary age children absolutely loved it.
A weaker outing for the Coen Brothers is still a pretty good time. The film is a bit of a send up of spy pictures like "Three Days of the Condor" or "Enemy of the State" (an under appreciated spy flick of the 90s). In this Coen Brother version of a spies and espionage, it's a world populated by a bunch of dumbbells (George Clooney, David Rasche, J.K. Simmons, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton), who end up circling a couple of fitness trainers (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) who stumble upon a draft of Malkovich's autobiography and thinks they've discovered top secret material they could sell to the Russians. From there this screwball comedy gets even crazier and sillier. I don't think I busted a gut quite as hard as I did for "Raising Arizona," but this film does have that same kind of silly frenetic tone that is unique to the Coens, so if you enjoyed that film, you'll probably enjoy this one, thought likely not quite as much.