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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Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

goodDirector: Barry Levinson

Writer: Mitch Markowitz (Screenplay)

Starring: Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Bruno Kirby, Robert Wuhl, Noble Willingham, J.T. Walsh, Chintara Sukapatana, Tung Thanh Tran

 

Plot: An unorthodox and irreverent DJ begins to shake up things when he is assigned to the US Armed Services Radio station in Vietnam.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Film

 

Story: Good Morning, Vietnam starts when radio DJ Adrian Cronauer (Williams) gets reassigned to Vietnam shown around by Edward Garlick (Whitaker). Gen Taylor (Willingham) has bought Adrian in but it isn’t long until Lt. Steven Hauk (Kirby) and Sgt. Major Dickerson (Walsh) don’t enjoy the show Adrian puts on.

Adrian tries to keep everything within a light hearted manor which includes trying to get to know a local girl Trinh (Sukapatana), Adrian continues to push the limits of what he says on air but when he witnesses the war first hand he learns that not everything is a laughing matter.

Good Morning, Vietnam is one of the few films out there that could handle comedy and serious matters with ease, the story balances these very well as we see Williams let loose on the comedy side but become silent when he learns the truth about the conflict. The story also tackles the ideas of cover ups trying to protect both sides but also how this will stop the war from happening. This is very powerful because having next to no knowledge of the Vietnam war this doesn’t seem to make sense with why the Americans were even there. It would be fair to say certain parts of this film wouldn’t happen now due to political correction though.

 

Actor Review

 

Robin Williams: Adrian Cronauer is a radio DJ who likes to bring comedy to his show making everyone feel lighter through the policing conflicting in Vietnam. He falls for a local girl which tests his position in the military as he clashes with his superiors. Robin shows just how much of a talent he really was with this performance letting him have his comedy fun but also tackle the serious side of a story.adrian

Forest Whitaker: Edward Garlick is one of the privates that shows Adrian around Vietnam. He becomes his best friend making sure he stays out of trouble while standing by his side whenever he does find himself in trouble. Forest shines in this supporting role showing how he can work with fellow actors with ease.

Bruno Kirby: Lt Steven Hawk sees himself as a comedian and finds himself hating everything Adrian puts on during his show while demanding respect from any soldier under his rank. Bruno does a good job in this supporting role just showing us how different the two characters need to be.

Chintara Sukapatana: Trinh is the local girl that Adrian falls for, she comes from a traditional family making any relationship difficult as Adrian has to face the clash of cultures. Chintara is good in this role as we can see her inexperience in this size of production.

Support Cast: Good Morning, Vietnam has a supporting cast of military characters that either support or go against Adrian as he tries to tell the truth over the air.

Director Review: Barry LevinsonBarry gives us a film that manages to tackle both the comedy and the serious side of what was happening in Vietnam.

 

Biographical: Good Morning, Vietnam is loosely based on the real man involved at the time but does show how one man wants to stand up and speak the truth during the conflict.

Comedy: Good Morning, Vietnam is filled with the fast paced comedy that only Williams could have delivered throughout the film.

War: Good Morning, Vietnam shows us the conflict going on in Vietnam and how both sides were dealing with the conflict.

Settings: Good Morning, Vietnam puts us in the middle of Vietnam from the start showing how the tension started building between the two.

Suggestion: Good Morning, Vietnam is one that should be watch at least once just to see how brilliant Williams was. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Williams is brilliant in this role.

Worst Part: If it is based on a real guy it would have be nice to know what happened with his career after.

 

Believability: Depends how you think it really went.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: Nominated for One Oscar

Budget: $13 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

Tagline: In 1965, military D.J. Adrian Cronauer was sent to Vietnam to build morale. His strategy: keep ’em laughing. His problem: staying out of trouble.

 

Overall: One of the best of the Williams career.

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Franchise Weekend – Robocop (1987)

casting card

Plot: In a dystopic and crime-ridden Detroit, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic

 

Story: Robocop starts with the crime ridden city Detroit where the cops are being killed left right and centre by crime lord Clarence J Boddicker (Smith). We meet Officer Alex Murphy (Weller) freshly transferred to the department and assigned to Anne Lewis (Allen) but on his first day he clashes with Clarence and his men leaving brutally gunned down.

With most of his body and mind dead Alex gets taken into Dr Bob Morton’s (Ferrer) experiment to be the first of his new line of defence against the criminals a Robocop. Bob is working for the Old Man (O’Herlihy) who is always trying to find a way to increase police work and after Dick Jones (Cox) pure robot goes wrong.

As Robocop starts cleaning up the streets we see how he starts remember who he original was and worse remembering who left him the way he was. Robocop goes on a mission to bring down the people at the top of the criminal side of the city with just Anne helping him but what he learns will take a twist.

Robocop is one action film that will forever be remembered for its iconic scenes. The story itself takes the crime story to another level in its own way too because usually we would see the partner come on the revenge mission instead of the cop returning from the dead. We also get to see how corruption could run between businessmen trying to make sure they make all the money and the criminals that will finance this happening. This film shows that even before its time we would look at this as a future and even throws in a couple of moments that show just how things could become ridiculous in the future.

 

Actor Review

 

Peter Weller: Officer Alex J Murphy is the freshly transferred officer that becomes the latest victim of the crime wave across the city. He gets transformed into the very first Robocop defending the city from the criminals only to have to battle who his former self once was. Peter is great in this role showing how he has to go through all the hard work in the Robocop costume.

Nancy Allen: Officer Anne Lewis is the cop that is Murphy’s partner showing him around the city as well as witnessing his death. When the Robocop starts working there she starts to suspect that he is Murphy and works along with him to bring down the men that killed him. Nancy is good in this supporting role showing a tough female cop in the 80s.

Dan O’Herlihy: The Old Man runs the company looking to being in the new robot defence against the criminals and will listen to anyone who gets results. Dan is good but only in a supporting role.

Ronny Cox: Dick Jones has created a robot he wants to use on the streets against the criminals but when it malfunctions he finds himself at the end of the line looking to get back ahead of the man that put him in this place. Ronny is good in this during the time he was often playing the villains.

Support Cast: Robocop has a good supporting cast with Kurtwood Smith shining as the crime lord of the city and the rest being different members of the gangs or police force.

Director Review: Paul VerhoevenPaul gives us one of the most iconic movies of all time that still stands the test of times.

 

Action: Robocop has great over the top action that works for the style of film we are watching.

Crime: Robocop puts us in the middle of a crime world where the police are being outnumbered by the criminals which makes the use of Robocop important.

Sci-Fi: Robocop uses the idea that in the future robots will be needed to fight crime using the technology you would think was considered the future for the late 80s.

Settings: Robocop takes us to Detroit for the setting which is always good for a crime story.
Special Effects
: Robocop has great special effects for the time of release which all still look good today apart from moment.

Suggestion: Robocop is one I think everyone should be able to watch at least once. (Watch)

 

Best Part: Final chase.

Worst Part: ED 209 special effects have dated.

Action Scene Of The Film: Murphy’s attack.

Kill Of The Film: Antonowsky and the toxic waste.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Yes

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $13 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

Tagline: Part man. Part machine. All cop. The future of law enforcement.

Trivia: It was discovered that when in full RoboCop costume, Peter Weller could not fit properly into the police car as he was too bulky. That’s why most shots of him show him exiting the car or preparing to get into it. For shots where he actually needed to be in the car, he only wore the top part of the costume and sat in his underwear. However, to maintain the illusion that RoboCop wears the entire suit while inside a car, most shots show his robotic feet exiting the car first.

 

Overall: An all time classic that will forever be one to live up to.

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