Near Dark (1987)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writer: Kathryn Bigelow, Eric Red (Screenplay)

Starring: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Tim Thomerson

 

Plot: A small-town farmer’s son reluctantly joins a traveling group of vampires after he is turned by a beautiful drifter.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Underrated Vampire Film

 

Story: Near Dark starts as young country man Caleb (Pasdar) meets a beautiful woman Mae (Wright) one night and after spending the night seeing different locations Mae leaves Caleb with a strong hicky.

What Caleb discovers is that Mae is in fact a vampire and she has turned him into on too, joining her group of vampires including Jesse (Henriksen), Severen (Paxton), Diamondback (Goldstein) and Homer (Miller) he finds himself drawn into a world of crime while his family worry about him.

As the group travels around America at night Caleb needs to prove his worth to the group and learn to kill but when he doesn’t he must fight to survive against the vampire while learning the cure for this new disease.

 

Thoughts on Near Dark

 

Characters/PerformanceCaleb is just an everyday small town American young man who spends his nights looking to meet women and this time he meets a woman that will change his life, one that will turn him into a vampire as he must learn to adjust to this new life. Mae is the woman that attracts Caleb who does want out of this life or at least have someone else by her side. Jesse controls the group keeping them all in order not wanting to carry any dead weight. Severen is the character you will remember most because he is over the top and enjoys the kills.

Performance wise, Adrian Pasdar is fine but you can see he isn’t going to make it as a charismatic leading actor, Jenny Wright is also fine but doesn’t pull us into the whole stunning beautiful leading lay, with Lance Henriksen doing what you all know he can, be a good villain. Bill Paxton is the star of the show as we do remember nearly everything he does through the film.

StoryThe story follows one man as he is turned into a vampire as he needs to learn to kill to survive while on the run with a villainous group of vampires. This takes a new approach the vampire genre showing the family feel to a group, a new look at the transformation and even introducing the idea of a full cure. I like this and believe it is fresh feeling to the vampire genre.

Action/Crime/HorrorThe action is very simple and what we have come to expect, with the crime side of the story being how the vampires hunt feels very criminal in style with the horror being with what happens to the vampires meet sunlight.

SettingsThe settings make this feel like a western in places as the group travel from town to town hunting.

Special EffectsThe effects are all practical and they all look great when it comes to how the vampires are being affected by the sunlight.

Final ThoughtsThis may well not be the first film that comes to mind when you think vampires but when you look at the greats this doesn’t come too far off being on their level.

 

Overall: Enjoyable, gritty and dark vampire thriller.

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Fatal Attraction (1987)

Director: Adrian Lyne

Writer: James Dearden (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer, Ellen Latzen, Stuart Pankin, Ellen Foley

 

Plot: A married man’s one-night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Thriller

 

Story: Fatal Attraction starts as we meet happily married lawyer Dan Gallagher (Douglas) he has a wife in Beth (Archer) and a daughter Ellen (Latzen), but he finds himself frustrated by not being able to have time with just his wife. This changes when he gets a weekend alone.

While alone Dan spends the night with new co-worker Alex Forrest (Close) getting a chance to lift all those frustrations. The one night turns into a long weekend but when Dan explains it was just that, we get to see a darker side of Alex who refuses to accept this response.

When his family returns Dan wants to move back into his everyday routine and follow through on the planes for a new home in the country. Alex on the other hand takes things serious and becomes obsessed with Dan, wanting to make him love her and will go to any means to make this happen.

 

Thoughts on Fatal Attraction

 

Characters/PerformanceDan is a high flying lawyer about to hit the next level of his career but finding himself drawn to a new co-worker he finds himself having a weekend long affair. He wants to continue his normal life but now must balance his normal life with the new obsessed shown by Alex. Alex is a co-worker that has the affair with Dan, but she isn’t mentally stable enough to be involved in this type of relationship and spends the next days, weeks and months stalking Dan and his family. Beth is the wife of Dan but the truth is we barely learn too much about her character.

Performance wise, Michael Douglas is great in this leading role because you do have to feel for his character but also understand he isn’t the nicest guy which is what he is always good at playing. Glenn Close is fantastic as this unstable woman that could do anything to get even. The rest of the performances are all good throughout the film.

StoryThe story works on all the levels it needs to, we have one night affair that the husband must pay for, for the rest of his life, be it by hiding his mistake or protecting his family from the truth. This is also about how one person can become unstable once they are involved in an affair putting everything on edge.

ThrillerThis does keep you on edge as you wait to see just what Alex will try to do next to get what she wanted.

SettingsThe settings show us how easy it would have been to have the affair but how difficult it would be to get away from one now.

Special EffectsThe effects all come off great when needed as the film doesn’t turn to them too easily.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that spawned almost yearly attempts to re-tale the story only to fail because this plays out just as it should be.

 

Overall: One of the very best thrillers out there.

Rating

 

 

John Malkovich Weekend – Empire of the Sun (1987)

empireDirector: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Tom Stoppard (Screenplay) J.G. Ballard (Novel)

Starring: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers, Joe Pantoliano, Leslie Phillips

 

Plot: A young English boy struggles to survive under Japanese occupation during World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant

 

Story: Empire of the Sun starts in 1941 China as we follow an English family the Graham’s Mary (Richard), John (Frazer) and boy Jim (Bale) who find themselves in the middle of the tension between China and Japan. While trying to get out of China during the first invasion Jim finds himself separated where he returns home waiting for his parents to return all while having to fend for himself.

Jim meets American Basie (Malkovich), British couple Mrs Victor (Richardson), Mr Victor (Gale) and Dr Rawlins (Havers) as he has to survive in conditions his privileged lifestyle isn’t used to as a prisoner of war.

Empire of the Sun is a war drama that follows one boy during a war outbreak. This shows his struggle and search for anyone who will help him. I do like how the story decides to stay away from showing the actual conflict of war showing the human effects of what is happening. Also seeing the story from the boy’s point of view helps us understand the struggle he is facing even if he does come off annoying in places. This is one of those films that hasn’t dated at all even though it is reaching the age of 30 this year.

 

Actor Review

 

Christian Bale: Jim is the English boy living in China during the outbreak of World War II, he has lived there for his whole life. He gets separated from his family he has to fend for himself from within a Prisoner of War camp. I will say this character comes off very annoying having been taught nothing by his parents and never knowing when to shut up but that can’t be taken away from Bale’s performance. Christian shows all the shines that he was going to go onto become the star he is now with this brilliant performance.

John Malkovich: Basie is an American wheeler and dealer that reluctantly takes care of Jim during the wartime partly because he knows how to find him a deal, he gives him motivation to carry on while always looking for his own escape. John gives us the performance that is great and shows us he is a main stay of Hollywood.

Miranda Richardson: Mrs Victor is one of the British woman that take care of Jim in the prisoner of war camp, she does get tired of his stories but knows she is trying her best to protect him. Miranda is good in this supporting role without being over used.

Nigel Havers: Dr Rawlins is also at the prisoner of war who offers Jim time within the hospital caring for the sick during the time of war. Nigel much like Miranda is a good supporting without getting enough time to be over used.

Support Cast: Empire of the Sun has a good supporting cast with what I would say the only bad thing is we never feel like anyone is a really bad guy character.

Director Review: Steven SpielbergSteven give us one of the best wartime drama of all time that doesn’t focus on the actual conflict.

 

History: Empire of the Sun shows us what the prisoner of war camps would have been like during World War II filled with sickness and dealing to make it all bearable.

War: Empire of the Sun is a great look at how the children or in this case a single child was effected by the conflict breaking out in a new country.

Settings: Empire of the Sun makes each setting come off realistic be it the cities or the camp to make us see and feel the struggle Jim has to go through.  
Special Effects
: Empire of the Sun uses the effects when need and they all come off very well.

Suggestion: Empire of the Sun is one I do think everyone should watch at least once. (Watch)

 

Best Part: While annoying Bale is brilliant in this role.

Worst Part: Slightly long.

 

Believability: While the story is fictional I do think elements could have been real.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for 6 Oscars.

Budget: $35 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 33 Minutes

Tagline: To survive in a world at war, he must find a strength greater than all the events that surround him.

 

Overall: One of Spielberg’s best films.

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Franchise Weekend – Predator (1987)

predDirector: John McTiernan

Writer: Jim Thomas, John Thomas (Screenplay)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves, R.G. Armstrong, Shane Black, Kevin Peter Hall

 

Plot: A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial warrior.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True Classic

 

Story: Predator starts as a team of American Commandos led by Dutch (Schwarzenegger) are joined by CIA agent Dillion (Weathers) to go into the South American jungle to rescue hostages taken by guerrillas.

Dutch finding out his team were used to complete a different mission he orders an immediate evacuate only to find themselves having to fight an invisible enemy with weapons stronger than anything they have seen before.

Predator has one of the simplest stories for action sci-fi with it being man versus unknown enemy. When it comes to the story the film really doesn’t need anything more than this because anything that over complicates the story taking away from the action.

 

Actor Review

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Dutch is the tough leader of a group of lit commandoes that get assigned to the South American jungle for their latest mission, working with former friend and CIA agent Dillion he finds himself facing off against an alien creature that is picking off his men. Arnold is a perfect choice for this role, strong, tough and able to handle himself in a fight in what could be one of his most iconic roles.dtch

Carl Weathers: Dillion is the former soldier who served next to Dutch but now is a CIA agent, he knows Dutch’s skills and recruits him into helping with the mission in the jungle but he does have other motives. Carl is good in this role even if the character comes off feeling genetic.

Elpidia Carrillo: Anna is found in the jungle with the enemies, she gets captured to be taken back by Dillion but she knows what the men are up against in the jungle. Elpidia is good but also really just the damsel in distress figure.

Bill Duke: Mac is one of the soldiers in Dutch’s unit, he is the first to come face to face with the enemy where the others can’t believe what they are actually up against. Bill is good in this like all of soldier characters.

Support Cast: Predator has a small supporting cast with most just being the different members of the unit who all do a good job throughout.

Director Review: John McTiernanJohn gives us one of the best action sci-fi films ever made with perfect casting and a simple story that works so well.

 

Action: Predator has great action sequences happening throughout.

Adventure: Predator throws our characters into an adventure style survival story.

Sci-Fi: Predator puts our humans against aliens to create the battle arena.predator

Settings: Predator is set entirely within the jungle which help show the isolation the characters face against the predator.
Special Effects
: Predator has brilliant special effects for the time that have mostly all stood the test of time too.

Suggestion: Predator is a film I think all film fans should have seen at least it once. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Final showdown.

Worst Part: Pointless dialogue in the final showdown.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Yes

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for one Oscar

Box Office: $60 Million

Budget: $15 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

Tagline: It came for the thrill of the hunt. It picked the wrong man to hunt.

 

Overall: True classic of the genre that shows just how to make a simple story so much fun.

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*batteries not included (1987)

batteriesDirector: Matthew Robbins

Writer: Brad Bird, Matthew Robbins, Brent Maddock, S.S. Wilson (Screenplay) Mick Garris (Story)

Starring: Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Frank McRae, Elizabeth Pena, Michael Carmine, Dennis Boutsikaris, Tom Aldredge, Jane Hoffman

 

Plot: Apartment block tenants seek the aid of alien mechanical life-forms to save their building from demolition.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable

 

Story: *batteries not included starts by introducing us to Frank (Cronyn), Faye (Tandy) Harry (Noble), Marisa (Pena) and Mason (Boutsikaris) who all are the remaining residents living in the middle of a building site, constantly being hounded by Carlos (Carmine) trying to force them to move out to the building can be demolished.

The lives of these residents takes a surprise turn when robotic aliens enter the apartment fixing the damaged caused within as the resident try to communicate with them. The Aliens become part guardians of the residents who continue to fight to keep their homes.

*batteries not included is a charming comedy fantasy that we get to see the serious side of the human life where people are forced relocated. I think this point comes through strong with each side be it the residents the rich or the thugs to remove the characters it all comes off great. We also get to see the unknown with the robots appearing in the story. overall this story is easy to follow and truly enjoyable throughout.

 

Actor Review

 

Hume Cronyn: Frank Riley is the café owner and husband to Faye, he does everything he can to look after her and run a business but it is his wish that comes true when the aliens arrive. We see Frank start to have to make the difficult decision about caring for Faye in her condition. Hume is good in this role leading the film.

Jessica Tandy: Faye Riley is the wife of Frank who is suffering with dementia, she spends nearly every moment of her waking day waiting for her son to return and making friends with her condition. Jessica is great in this role where we get to see the most laughs from her character.

Frank McRae: Harry Noble is the former fighter that now is a mute living in the building watching television most of his time. He finds a way to communicate with the aliens that the others can’t. Frank is good in this role where we get to see the stronger character with a heart of gold.

Elizabeth Pena: Marisa Esteval is a pregnant resident of the home who has been getting harassed by the people trying to get her out but she is strong independent woman. Elizabeth is good in this role going through her own struggles in the story.

Support Cast: *batteries not included has a supporting cast that is mostly just Carlos who is trying to chase them out and artist Mason living in the building, we don’t really have a need for a big cast to make this enjoyable.

Director Review: Matthew RobbinsMatthew gives us a truly enjoyable touching and charming fantasy film.

 

Comedy: *batteries not included has good laughs throughout mixing slapstick with jokes well.

Family: *batteries not included is one I do think the family can all enjoy.

Fantasy: *batteries not included throws us into a world where aliens can be friendly and not a threat.

Sci-Fi: *batteries not included uses the alien side of the story for the science fiction side of the story.

Settings: *batteries not included keeps most of the settings inside the building showing us how these unlikely residents could become friends.
Special Effects
: *batteries not included has special effects which still look good today when it comes to the robots.

Suggestion: *batteries not included is one I do think people will enjoy. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Robots.

Worst Part: Not one.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears:

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

Tagline: Five ordinary people needed a miracle. Then one night, Faye Riley left the window open.

 

Overall: Truly enjoyable fantasy comedy.

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