Classic Franchise Month – Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)

Director: Mick Garris

Writer: Joseph Stefano (Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Henry Thomas, Olivia Hussey, CCH Pounder, Warren Frost, Donna Mitchell

 

Plot: Norman Bates recalls his childhood with his abusive mother while fearing his unborn child will inherit his split personality disorder.


Tagline – You’ve met Norman… now meet mother.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: When Sequels Are Bad, Go Prequel

 

Story: Psycho IV: The Beginning starts as Norman Bates (Perkins) listening to a local radio station which is having the discussion about children killing their mother’s. Norman gives us a backstory to his relationship with his mother Norma (Hussey) as teenager Norman (Thomas) commits his first murder.

As he reveals his story the shows rating increase, but when he says he is ready to kill again, it becomes clearly that Norman has been pushed over the edge once again.

 

Thoughts on Psycho IV: The Beginning

 

Characters – In the characters we have two different versions of Norman, the older one who has committed the crimes in the past and now telling his story after moving on with his life and the teenage one that is getting abused by his mother as he first starts out his killing spree, this one is more interesting to watch as seeing him on the edge makes it easier to understand his motivation for his actions. Norma Bates is Norman’s mother, in this film she is very much alive and we see just how she treated Norman when she wasn’t happy with the way his life was going, trying to force him into being a girl.

PerformancesAnthony Perkins mostly gives us the commentary of his characters past, he is a good story teller which is what he must do. Henry Thomas does work as a younger Norman which is good he handles the creepy side of the character well. Olivia Hussey makes for a great Norma Bates, she looks seductive and easily hits the strict level needed.

StoryThe story here takes us to the origin of what drove Norman to become the killer, we get these through a radio show where he tells the story and see the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother. This works because the sequel line was getting boring after a while, showing us that we needed to go to the prequel line to learn more of the motivation. This however does cause problems for the most part because we jump all over the place in the timeline of creating him, while in the modern time Norman must face his own battle with his mind while telling the story again.

Horror/MysteryThe horror elements do seem to have come out of the film now, we do get the murders, but they never feel scary, the mystery of doing this as a prequel doesn’t help because we know where the film will end up going.

SettingsThe film gives us less time at the Bates Motel, making the scenes there being the highlights of the film, but away from it we lose that IT factor about the Norman character.

Special EffectsThe effects in the movie have improved, when it comes to the murders and the different styles Norman use we feel like they are real this time.


Scene of the Movie –
Young Norman doing the deed.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The confusion timeline in the flashback scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good addition to the Psycho franchise, you could skip over three and still end up in a good position with everything and how this film directs the story.

 

Overall: Nice addition.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – The Never-Ending Story Part II: The Next Chapter (1990)

Director: George Miller

Writer: Karin Howard (Screenplay) Michael Ende (Novel)

Starring: Jonathan Brandis, Kenny Morrison, Clarissa Burt, John Wesley Shipp, Martin Umbach, Alexandra Johnes

 

Plot: A young boy with a distant father enters a world of make-believe and magic through a portal within an antique book.


Tagline – Begin an all new adventure as a young boy returns to a world of wonder on the wings of his imagination.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Addition to the World

 

Story: The Never-Ending Story Part II: The Next Chapter starts as Bastian (Brandis) is back in the real world and struggle to overcome his fears while his father remains distant from him. He returns to the book story where he learns that books are different second time around, which leads him to borrow the Neverending Story again, this time he gets taken into the book, where they need his help in Fantasia again.

With Xayide (Burt) taking over the world, the Childlike Empress (Johnes) is imprisoned and now Atreyu (Morrison) joins Bastian on the quest to save Fantasia and free the Childlike Empress.

 

Thoughts on The Never-Ending Story Part II: The Next Chapter

 

Characters – Bastian still feeling isolated in the real world, resorts back to the Neverending Story, this time he gets taken into the world where he must complete the quest to save the world, his wishes could bring an end to both worlds though. Atreyu is the warrior that joins Bastian, this time he doesn’t seem as strong as last time almost taking second fiddle to Bastian. Xayide is the evil ruler looking to take control of Fantasia by letting Bastian use the wishes to be his undoing.

PerformancesJonathan Brandis does a better job as Bastian this time, this is partly because he is part of the world this time too instead of the character just reading the tale. Kenny Morrison does well with his version of Atreyu, even though he doesn’t get the strong moments the last actor had the chance too. Clarissa Burt fits the beautiful villain eager to rule the land.

StoryThe story plays into the idea that books can be different on the second reading, which shows us how Bastian can go on a second adventure that is different than the last, it might have the same consequences if he doesn’t succeed, but it does show us just where an imagination can go. There is a deeper meaning about needing to not take wishes for granted and is a good continuation to the neverending story world.

Adventure/Family/FantasyThe adventure continues this time with Bastian entering the world and the fantasy world needs saving once again, which is why Bastian goes on the adventure.

SettingsThe world looks great again, showing us how the busy lives can be changed once you enter into a book to escape the world you live in.

Special EffectsThe effects are fine, for the time they would have bee considered good, but sadly they have dated in places.


Scene of the Movie –
Giants entrance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Atreyu does seem weaker this time around.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good addition to the world of the Neverending story, it has an important message about wish making, eve if the film ends up following a similar formula.

 

Overall: Good addition to the saga.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Another 48 Hrs (1990)

Director: Walter Hill

Writer: John Fasano, Jeb Stuart, Larry Gross (Screenplay) Roger Spottiswoode, Walter Hill, Larry Gross, Steven E de Souza (Characters)

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, Brion James, Kevin Tighe, Ed O’Ross, David Anthony Marshall, Andrew Divoff, Bernie Caser

 

Plot: Jack Cates once again enlists the aid of ex-con Reggie Hammond–this time, to take down The Iceman, a ruthless drug lord operating in the San Francisco bay area.


Tagline – Here they go again. Only faster. And tougher.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacks the Humour

 

Story: Another 48 Hrs starts as Jack (Nolte) is desperately trying to track down the Iceman, a drug dealer roaming San Francisco, but his latest bust goes wrong leaving him up for man-slaughter charges, with only one clue, a picture of Reggie (Murphy) who is about to be released from jail who now has a bounty on his head, placed by the Iceman.

When the Iceman’s hitmen including Ganz’s brother Cherry (Divoff) come after the pair, they must reunite to bring down the deadliest drug lord in San Francisco area.

 

Thoughts on Another 48 Hrs

 

Characters – Jake Cates has continued his grizzled ways, now he has focused on capturing a drug lord known as the Iceman, but finds the Internal Affairs on his back for his reckless behaviour turning to the only person he can trust Reggie. Reggie is fresh out of jail after being framed into a longer stint, but now he is free, he finds himself being targeted by the drug lord forcing him to work with Jack once again. Cherry is the brother of Ganz who is know being paid to kill Reggie for the Iceman, he turns this into a personal vendetta against Jack too. Blake Wilson is the Internal Affairs agent that is searching for a way to put Jack in jail for his reckless behaviour.

PerformancesNick Nolte is solid in this role, he makes us feel like we are watching a man on edge too. Eddie Murphy tries to bring more energy to this performance which only leaves him not reaching the marks we know he could. Divoff makes for a good villain on the same sort of level of Remar as the next level of psychotic. The actors playing the cops are what you expect through the film.

StoryThe story does continue to build from the last film, it shows the consequences from the previous action to build a bigger world, while also falling into more of the same because we are expecting to see something bigger, but it is just odd couple team up to take down criminals. We do have the story about how the two could swap places with Jack facing criminal charges and Reggie becoming free. The final outcome of the film does see strange when you take into account of the original film too.

Action/Crime/ComedyThe action does feel bigger, we get a lot more shoot-ups and moments of chases too, the crime does feel bigger too with criminals coming from different corners of the world. The comedy is the biggest disappointment here, we have fleeting moments of humour, but nothing comes off with any true effect.

SettingsWe stay in San Francisco for the film which makes for a good choice for a crime story to take place in.


Scene of the Movie –
Basketball.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lacks any strong moments of humour.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weak sequel to an enjoyable first outing, it does feel rushed and loses the humour the first one had. The crime side of the film does try to world build which is good, but we lose out with a strange ending.

 

Overall: Disappointing sequel that doesn’t hit the marks.

Rating

 

 

Jean-Claude Van Damme Weekend – Death Warrant (1990)

Director: Deran Sarafian

Writer: David S Goyer (Screenplay)

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Robert Guillaume, Cynthia Gibb, George Dickerson, Art LaFleur, Patrick Kilpatrick

 

Plot: In a violent and corrupt prison, decorated cop Louis Burke must infiltrate the jail to find answers to a number of inside murders. What he finds is a struggle of life and death tied in to his own past.


Tagline – In “Bloodsport” and “Kickboxer” he won it all, now there are no rules, no escape, and NOBODY’S playing games!

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Action Film

 

Story: Death Warrant starts as we meet the Canadian detective Louis Burke (Van Damme) who has tracked down serial killer The Sandman (Kilpatrick) who killed his partner. 16 months later Burke is assigned to go undercover inside a prison to solve a string of murders coming from within it.

Inside the prison Burke learns who to trust with Hawkins (Guillaume) being someone he wants to trust, the warden Sergeant DeGraf (LaFleur) having a strict rule through the prison and the gangs running the riots in shadows. Burke uses all his fighting skills to stay alive and solve the murders in a style only he could.

 

Thoughts on Death Warrant

 

Characters – Burke is the determined never say die attitude cop that gets assigned to go undercover in a prison to solve a series of murders happening inside. He must fight to survive against all enemies wanting to kill him. Hawkins is the ears to ground prisoner that Burke wants to work with, he has his own problems with the racial divide within the prison too. Amanda is the rookie agent that assigned to work with Burke from the outside, this is a big case for her and she learns a lot from working with Burke.

PerformancesJean-Claude Van Damme is the star of the film, we are only invested because we want to see him kick ass and he does that. The rest of the cast fit their roles which is good without any of them trying to out shine the star.

StoryThe story is a good simple story to follow, it is a cop going undercover to figure out who is behind a string of murders only to find himself uncovering something much bigger. We know the story isn’t going to be the main focus here which is fine, but it does give us enough time to keep guessing about where the film will end up going.

Action/Crime/MysteryVan Damme brings the action we want to see as he fights the countless amounts of enemies in search for the truth. There is a crime mystery to be solved but this can take the back burner to watching Van Damme fight.

SettingsVan Damme side of the story is inside the prison which is good as we see how he must doubt everyone on all sides, anything outside the prison does solve part of the mystery but is largely forgettable.


Scene of the Movie –
Burke versus the Sandman the final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We could have more focus on the crime story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical easy to watch Van Damme movie, lacking the story but is full of the action that entertains.

 

Overall: Easy to watch throughout.

Rating

 

 

Goodfellas (1990)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese (Screenplay) Nicholas Pileggi (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorrain Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Sivero, Tony Darrow

 

Plot: The story of Henry Hill and his life through the teen years into the years of mafia, covering his relationship with wife Karen Hill and his Mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVitto in the Italian-American crime syndicate.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic but Not for Me

 

Story: Goodfellas starts as Henry Hill tells us all about why he wants to be a gangster from a young age, we learn how he got a chance in his early teenage ages, where he made more money that his father and after spending his time in jail he is all grown up. Henry (Liotta) works with Tommy DeVito (Pesci) under the James Conway (De Niro) who all answer to Paul Cicero (Sorvino).

Henry rising up the ranks has built himself a reputation and once he starts dating Karen (Bracco) who becomes his wife. When Tommy murders a high-ranking member of the Mafia James and Henry help him cover it up as they continue to build their reputation. This is the rise and fall of Henry Hill as the truth about his identity comes outs.

 

Thoughts on Goodfellas

 

Characters/PerformanceHenry Hill is telling us the story, he is quiet man who wants to be a gangster, we follow his story as he rose the ranks in the Mafia, we see how far he goes and what he needs to do to clean up the mess he finds him in. James or Jimmy is the top ranked of the three, he makes the deals and makes sure everyone stays in line. Tommy is the hot head that shots first always leaving the others in danger.

Performance wise, De Niro is great in what is a supporting role in a genre he is brilliant in. Liotta is the star of the show and is fantastic through the whole film. Joe Pesci gives one of the most iconic gangster performances of all time here.

StoryThe story of one man’s life inside the Mafia is always interesting but the reality is it can only be seen a number of times before we know how it will all unfold. Yes, this is one of the most popular of all time but I do feel it is just fine for a non-gangster film fan.

CrimeThe crime world we enter into is everything we would have come to expect and it is easily the strong point of the film.

SettingsThe settings all fit the time the film is set in showing the environment the characters are in.

Final ThoughtsThis is a classic and I can see all the good points about the film but it just isn’t a film I will want to watch again.

 

Overall: This is a classic of the genre.

Rating