Chariots of Fire (1981)

chaiotsDirector: Hugh Hudson

Writer: Colin Welland (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, Ian Charleson, Ben Cross, Daniel Gerroll, Ian Holm

 

Plot: Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dated Sports Biopic

 

Story: Chariots of Fire starts in 1919 Cambridge University as we follow Harold Abrahams (Cross), and Aubrey Montague (Farrell) in the elite university of England. Here we get to see how fast the Jewish Harold is, also in Scotland we get to see Eric Liddell (Charleson) a rugby player turned runner that is also in the elite of the racing speed but he is a devote Christian who doesn’t believe in playing sports on a Sunday.

What follows is seeing the paths both Eric and Harold take to become the best in the nation as they become favourites for the British team heading into the Olympics. The two become rivals but their own personal beliefs could become a barrier in going for the gold medal.

 

Thoughts on Chariots of Fire

 

Characters/PerformanceHaving the characters based on the real people makes it difficult to say anything bad about them, we have two men who have been forced to put aside their difference in religious beliefs to make an impact on the sport they love taking part in. this is a story of success which is easy to enjoy for all that are involved.

Performance wise everything is good without being anything truly special by anyone involved through the film.stars

StoryThis is a story about how two men put aside their difference to make their way to the top of the sport of athletes, it is easy to follow but does come off slightly too posh in places when you look at how the British come off.

Biography/SportsLooking into the way we follow the two men’s journey to the Olympics we get to see how the races unfold which is all good but I would say this is one of the more average biopics that I have seen.

SettingsThe settings show us the upper classes going into the sport of running, which is all good with the races at the Olympics coming off great for settings.genre

Final ThoughtsMy final thoughts are that this is slightly too British showing you had to come from money to achieve in sports at this time, I also don’t feel the film does enough to show us all of the characters involved.

 

Overall: Nice but no cigar especially when we prefer the struggle to make it and become the story of success, rather than the winner.

Ratingrating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior (1981)

roadDirector: George Miller

Writer: Terry Hayes, George Miller, Brian Hannant (Screenplay)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michal Preston, Max Phipps Vernon Wells, Kjell Nilsson, Virginia Hey, William Zappa

 

Plot: In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Big, Better and Bloodier

 

Story: Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior starts by showing us the dystopian world Max (Gibson) roams and just how destructive it has become with oil running low. Max is now deadlier than ever taking zero prisoners when it comes to fighting on the road.

When Max meets, the wasteland guy The Gyro Captain (Spence) he learns about an endless supply of gas which keep Max supplied for years but there is one problem it is controlled by warriors who are under threat from The Humengus (Nilsson) and his bloody thirsty gang that want the gas for themselves.

Max reluctant helps the warriors defend the gas from the gang in what is a battle in the middle of the desert for the most valuable resource in the new world gas.

 

Thoughts on Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior

 

StoryThe story picks up where the last one finished with the character of Max now ready to rule the wasteland, the first film introduced us to Max this one unleashes him to be the bad ass action character we need and the story shows just how he is willing to work for the greater good when need be. This also enters into the time when stories were simple and this one shows just how simple story telling can be something the audience of the Fury Road chapter learnt in 2015.

Action/ThrillerThe action is bigger with the chases being riskier and edge of your seat throughout but this time when it comes to the genres it makes everything very clear that this a post-apocalyptic world we are now in. The film uses the genres to improve this film to the next level.

Characters/PerformanceMad Max is the strong silent type not having many lines in the whole film and this works for Gibson who continues to shine in the role, this time we get some comic relief to lighten the higher end action going on. The villains on the other side feel like a much bigger threat and wildly over the top so much so that not one but two of the references whether it be the nickname of image became huge through the World Wrestling Federation.

SettingsThe settings are again very simple but effective as nearly the whole movie is set on battle to protect the gas supply, this continues the trend this film set by making sure the story is big but simple.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the special effects everything is all perfectly placed stunt work to make sure the chase or battle scenes come off to their full effect.

Final ThoughtsThis is the improvement the fans wanted from the original, everything is bigger, bloodier and just overall way more entertaining.

 

Overall: How all action films should improve themselves.

Ratingcard

 

 

John Travolta Weekend – Blow Out (1981)

blowDirector: Brian De Palma

Writer: Brian De Palma (Screenplay)

Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden, Curt May, John Aquino, John McMartin

 

Plot: A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Horror Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Blow Out starts with Jack Terry (Travolta) a sound engineer that has been working on his latest film, a low budget horror film. While working on finding the latest sound effects Jack witnesses a car accident saving Sally (Allen) from drowning. Learning that the potential future President was killed in the accident Jack is ask to forget about saving the girl for the Governors family.

Learning this was no accident Jack sets out to prove he recorded the murder only to find himself and Sally in danger from the people responsible for the murder and cover up. Jack finds himself being tracked down by hitman Burke (Lithgow) who is out to clean up any loose ends with the cover up.

Blow Out is a conspiracy thriller that was showing just how easy it could have been to cover up a crime for the time it was made. We get a scandal that can ruin a Presidential campaign which is just the beginning of the story but when he is killed we get the next chapter as one man must prove this was no accident. The film is filled with tension from early on which drives us to want to see what will happen to our characters.

Travolta is great in the leading role show he was still at the top of his game in the early 80s, while Nancy Allen does well with what is a very weak female character written to be very naïve and not used to the world. John Lithgow is fabulous as this cold-hearted killer which we do get to see much later in his career with performance in Raising Cain and Dexter. The rest of the supporting cast ends up being very generic not making too much of an impact on the final film. This is easily one of the most underrated films of the 80s and can still be watched today as if it was a fresh release.

 

Overall: One of the most underrated films I have seen, tense from start to finish.

Ratingcard

 

 

Dr Death’s Cinema Surgery Monthly Movie Club – Escape From New York (1981)

I would like to start out by saying this is the first of two reviews from the latest showing from Dr Death’s Cinema Surgery Monthly Movie Club and I would suggest fans to check out the site and come and join the club.

 logo

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: John Carpenter, Nick Castle (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Season Hubley, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins

 

Plot: In 1997, when the US President crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in for a rescue.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Cult Classic Filled With Venom

 

Story: Escape From New York starts by taking us into the future 1997 (now the past) where Manhattan has been turned into a maximum security prison with no guards and no escape. When the President’s (Pleasence) plane gets hijacked and hauntingly crashed into Manhattan island right when the world is looking to become at peace. Everyone on the American side is panicking and an organised rescue mission is out of the question. Hauk (Cleef) the warden takes a chance to offer soon to be prisoner Snake Plissken (Russell) a pardon if he can retrieve the President and a tape important to the peace talks. Hauk injects Snake with explosives that will detonate in 22 hours before sending him on his way.

Snake arrives in the city by landing on the World Trade Centre where he ends up meeting a string of colourful criminals with some being good Cabbie (Borgnine) Brain (Stanton) and the evil Duke (Hayes) who runs the island. We follow Snake as he locates the President and has to find a way before the explosives go off killing him.

Escape From New York is always considered a bit of a cult classic with the easy to follow race against time rescue mission. We get the traditional mix of villains with the anti-hero having to navigate and for the most part know who he can trust. We also have the all too generic last resort being the criminal, granted this was one of the early usages of the idea. While certain parts of this film have dated it would be fair to say the most part this still looks very fresh and puts us into a world where the future is different to anything we could have imagined. I do feel this is what the action genre was always about the fun of slightly over the top action and tough guy persona leading the way. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Kurt Russell: Snake Plissken is the ex-special force soldier who has fallen onto the wrong side of the law. He gets given a chance for a pardon but then gets betrayed by Hauk giving him just 22 hours to save his own life and save the President. Snake has a tough guy persona playing everything cool even if the odds are completely against him. Kurt gives this character the mark of being the coolest character he has portrayed on film. (8/10)

 snake

Lee Van Cleef: Hauk is the warden of the prison who comes up with the idea of putting Snake on the one man mission to save the day, he is smart enough Snake could be a slippery customer but shows faith in him even if he starts to think the mission could have gone wrong. Lee does a good job in the power position trying to cover his own arse. (7/10)

 

Ernest Borgnine: Cabbie just seems to show up when Snake needs wheels or directions, he makes for good comic relief as he doesn’t seem to take the situation too seriously. Ernest does make for a good supporting character. (7/10)

 

Donald Pleasence: President who spends nearly the whole film captured by The Duke and has to play the prisoner to the prisoners in a clever role reversal. Donald does a solid job but never gets to show off his acting skills. (6/10)

 

Isaac Hayes: The Duke is the king of Manhattan and after what could have been the coolest and awkward entrance with his chandelling cover car we get to see how what he says goes and that he wants out with the President being his leverage. Isaac makes for a good villain of the piece and wants just what all prisoners would want, freedom. (7/10)

duke

Support Cast: Escape From New York has a supporting cast of weird and wonderful characters but the stand out two have to be Brain (Harry Dean Stanton) and Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau) who help Snake along the way.

 

Director Review: John Carpenter – John showed how he can challenge anyone with his action films even if they are not all the cops and robbers, focusing more on the future we could have. (9/10)

 

Action: Escape From New York is filled with action, we have bullets flying all over the place, stealth like kills and a brilliant car chase across a mine filled bridge. (9/10)

Sci-Fi: Escape From New York takes us into a bleak future where everything is a lot darker with Manhattan being a prison now but it also gives us the chance to see how close we could have become to peace. (8/10)

Settings: Escape From New York turns Manhattan into a warzone with prisoners coming out of every corner looking for their next victims. A point has to go out for a brilliant shot looking at Manhattan from a distance with the Twin Towers front and centre, very haunting image. (8/10)
Special Effects
: Escape From New York does use very dated computer technology but for the most part never relies on the special effects. (8/10)

Suggestion: Escape From New York is one that all action horror sci-fi fans must watch because it really is just easy to watch and enjoy. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Snake in general.

Worst Part:  Let’s be picky here and go with the idea of how Air Force One got hijacked in the first place.

Action Scene Of The Film: Car chase across the land mined bridge.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has a sequel ‘Escape From LA

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $25 Million

Budget: $6 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Tagline: 1997. New York City is now a maximum security prison. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in is insane.

Trivia: Clint Eastwood was considered for the role of Snake Plissken. Kurt Russell based Snake on Eastwood.

 

Overall: Escape From New York really is a classic that should be watched by all because once you do the best eye patched character will no longer be Nick Fury it will be Snake Plissken.

Rating 80

Scanners (1981)

logoDirector: David Cronenberg

Writer: David Cronenberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane,  Michael Ironside, Robert A Silverman, Lee Broker

 

Plot: A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Cult Classic That’s all you can say

 

Story: Scanners starts with Cameron Vale (Lack) a bum that hangs around a shopping mall but he has a power that makes him a Scanner. Cameron gets kidnapped by Doctor Ruth (McGoohan) and exposed to the idea of what his powers can achieve. We move to a science conference of sorts where the host asks for volunteers leading to Darryl Revok (Ironside) producing one of the most iconic scenes in horror film history. When the group of scientists try to kidnap Darryl he uses his powers to escape as he has mastered what he has been given.

Con Sec a weaponry company want to use the Scanners as weapons but after the incident with Darryl they bring a new security operative Braedon Keller (Dane). We learn that Dr. Ruth knows about a Scanner underground but he believes Cameron isn’t known to them and wants to use him as a weapon against the other Scanner problems. Cameron finds out he might have gotten himself into something bigger than he thought when he meets Kim (O’Neill) who seems to be building her own defence against Revok.

Scanners is a film I knew the basics of for years but never actually got around to watching, I knew about the head explosion and kind of thought that was the end of the film but was surprised to see it at the beginning of the film. The story is very easy to follow and does what many films do where we have a lead character that is sent to fight for one side only to discover he might be on the wrong side but really doesn’t know who is write and who is wrong. The film tries to throw out a few twists but never really manages to surprise us because it gives away the most shocking effects moment early on in the film leaving me disappointed with the lack of effects until the final fight. This is one for all the fans of the horror genre but really the story is good and interesting but never challenging. (7/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Jennifer O’Neill: Kim Obrist a fellow Scanner who is trying to stop Revok in her own way but also trying to avoid Ruth, she joins up Cameron to stop Revok only to find herself being hunted down by both sides. Jennifer does a solid job in a supporting role but never gets to really shine. (6/10)

 

Stephen Lack: Cameron Vale the newly discovered Scanner who works with the company to try and take down Revok, each time he uses his powers he learns more about just what he can achieve with his powers. Stephen does look kind of out of place as the lead in this film, but when he looks clueless he character is meant to be too. (4/10)

vale

Patrick McGoohan: Dr. Paul Ruth the scientist working with the company to try and use Scanners as weapons but has to find a way to stop the underground Scanner movement. Patrick does a solid job in the supporting role playing a very generic doctor character. (5/10)

 

Michael Ironside: Darryl Revok the deadliest of all the Scanners he has learnt how to control the power and isn’t afraid to use it when the time comes to. Michael does a good job in the role as the villain which is the stand out performance of the film. (8/10)

 

Support Cast: Scanners has a supporting cast that includes the fellow Scanners, doctors and researchers trying to figure out the situation. They nearly all make out to be disposable characters.

 

Director Review: David Cronenberg – David does what you would expect from him and weird sci-fi horror film that will push the boundaries. (8/10)

 

Horror: Scanners works well for the horror genre with plenty of blood with the exploding heads. (7/10)

Sci-Fi: Scanners puts us into a world where mind control could be real which makes for a good and frightening storyline. (8/10)

Settings: Scanners uses the type of settings you would expect to see in this genre of film. (7/10)
Special Effects
: Scanners uses brilliant practical effects with the head explosions but really doesn’t shine in the gun battles. (7/10)

Suggestion: Scanners is one for the horror fans to enjoy but not many other people. (Horror Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Head Explosion.

Worst Part: The acting isn’t the best.

Kill Of The Film: Head Explosion.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Has 2 sequels and 2 spin offs.

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $14 Million

Budget: Can $4.1 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

Tagline: Their thoughts can kill!

 

Overall: This really is one that is a cult classic that on the real fans will enjoy, it has one of the most iconic scenes in film history but really doesn’t shine without that.

Rating 60