ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – U – Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (1998)

Director: Jeff Woolnough

Writer: Peter M Lenkov (Screenplay)

Starring: Matt Battaglia, Andrew Jackson, Eric Bryson, Kevin Rushton, Desmond Campbell, Michael Copeman, Gary Busey, Burt Reynolds

 

Plot: The Universal Soldiers are used to smuggle diamonds for a CIA Director, but Luc Deveroux continues to cause him problems.


Tagline – No memory. No emotion. No mercy… Until one of them decides to become human again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Ouch!

 

Story: Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms starts as Luc Devreaux (Battaglia) has escaped with reporter Veronica (West) the only known living members of the universal Soldier project run by Otto Mazur (Busey). Wanting Luc back they set out his programming to return to base where Veronica must track him down while avoiding the law.

When Veronica reaches the base, she must sneak in (as you do) and work with Luc’s long lost brother Eric (Wincott) another member of the program to rescue him and stop Otto’s plans.

 

Thoughts on Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms

 

Characters – Luc Devreaux is the universal soldier, one of the last ones standing and now he has been reprogramed, but can his memories be stirred to bring back the human side from inside him. Veronica is the reporter that has found out the secret about the program and now she wants to expose it with Luc, she will do what it takes to save Luc from the base. Eric is the elder brother of Luc’s he has been missing for years, but he is one of the original universal soldiers now he works to save his brother. Otto is the recruiter for the program, he finds the dead soldiers, or he makes his own to keep the program filled for his bosses.

PerformancesDo I want to talk about the acting, well no because most of it is almost painful to watch through the film, Matt Battaglia doesn’t come close to Jean-Claude Van Damme and for the rest they are better but nothing overly convincing.

StoryThe story follows the idea of the universal soldiers being developed and how the government want it kept a secret. The story lacks the punch that the first one had, it does feel like the pilot for a television show which was the point. The story doesn’t have the twists but does want to continue to world build.

Action/Sci-Fi The action is also messy, we get too many cuts with not enough pure fighting which you would have had with Van Damme. The idea of enhanced soldiers works for the story, but we don’t get enough time to see everything going on with the project.

SettingsThe settings do feel almost pointless, we don’t get much happening with knowing as the we have plenty of random roads and no iconic buildings.

Special EffectsThe effects continue to show the weak points off the film which doesn’t connect the way they should.


Scene of the Movie –
Karaoke time

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just the acting in general.

Final ThoughtsThis is a pretty poor to terrible action sequel, the film just doesn’t hit the marks the other films in the franchise have and you will be left disappointed by the end.

 

Overall: Universally Bad.

Rating

 

 

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Kurt Russell Weekend – Soldier (1998)

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: David Webb Peoples (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Jason Isaac, Connie Nielsen, Sean Pertwee

 

Plot: A soldier is dumped on a waste disposal planet and lives among a community of crash survivors on the planet and takes it upon himself to defend his new home when genetic engineered soldiers are ordered to eliminate the crash survivors.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Universal Soldier, Wait No

 

Story: Soldier starts in a world where the military select babies to train into emotionless soldiers, Todd 3465 (Russell) is the best of the first batch of trained men but when Colonel Mekum (Isaacs) starts genetically creating his super soldiers with his star being Caine 607 (Lee), Todd finds himself defeat and dumped on a waste disposal planet.

On this planet Todd is taken in by a community that live there after they crash landed but soon his skills make him a threat to even them, forcing him to leave and become the lone traveller on the planet. This quiet group gets ambushed by the Colonel on a clean-up mission leaving Todd to defend the innocent from his replacements.

 

Thoughts on Solider

 

Characters – Todd 3465 is an emotionless soldier trained from a baby to be the best in the field, he doesn’t say much but when he gets replaced he finds himself using his training to protect the innocent. Caine 607 is the new genetically advanced soldier who has replaced Todd, he is faster, stronger and deadlier than Todd. Colonel Mekum is the man that has bought out the replacements to deal with the bigger problems in the universe, not caring about the original models.

PerformanceKurt Russell is solid in this role, he got himself into shape for it but in the 90s the action stars were more physical presence while Russell doesn’t get the full chance to be the guy we know from the 80s. Jason Scott Lee is solid too in his performance, he has the look of the typical enemy our hero must face in combat to achieve his redemption. Jason Isaacs will always be a good choice for a military role and often finds himself working with this director.

StoryThe story is simple to follow, we have modified soldiers that have been replaced by the newest models and the older model must use his skills to defend the people who took him in against the new and improved model. It is a simple story it does feel like Universal Soldier for the most part too.

Action/Sci/FiThe action sequences are mostly the generic ones we have come to know from the soldier versus soldier film but nothing stands out. The sci-fi side of the film comes from the idea the soldiers are trained and built to fight in a futuristic war.

SettingsTh settings are easy to use with most being used in the montage to show Todd’s war record, the most part of the film is on a waste planet which puts our characters on the world there are desperate to escape.

Special EffectsMost of the special effects are fine but parts of them have dated through the years.

Scene of the Movie – Todd versus the world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does feel like a Universal Soldier rip off.

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy to watch action film that does feel like just another branch of the Universal Soldier universe.

 

Overall: Easy to watch actioner.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – O – Out of Sight (1998)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Scott Frank (Screenplay) Elmore Leonard (Novel)

Starring: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Catherine Keener, Steve Zahn

 

Plot: A career bank robber breaks out of jail, and shares a moment of mutual attraction with a U.S. Marshal he has kidnapped.


Tagline – Opposites attract.

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Stylish Crime Film

 

Story: Out of Sight starts as we see how Jack Foley (Clooney) a thief that finally gets caught and sent to jail, after working on his own escape Jack gets help from his best friend Buddy (Rhames) to escape, but get mixed up with beautiful US Marshall Karen Sisco (Lopez).

As the escape doesn’t go as planned Jack falls for Karen and the two from opposite sides or the law must put faith in which ever side of the law they want to fight for, before Jack heads off for his latest score.

 

Thoughts on Out of Sight

 

Characters – Jack Foley is a charismatic bank robber that gets his job done without anyone getting hurt, but this latest job ends up getting him caught and in jail. When he escapes he falls for the US Marshall that wants to trail him, while also wanting to get one big score done. Karen Sisco is an US Marshall trying to climb the ranks, when she witnesses the escape she becomes a hostage for Jack as the two fall in love, she must decide whether to give up her career or not to be with Jack. Buddy is the best friend of Jack that helps him escape, while being loyal to her religious sister.

PerformancesGeorge Clooney shows us in his leading role that he was all charisma whichever side of the law he is on. Jennifer Lopez fills her role very well, playing the US Marshall convincingly from start to finish. Ving Rhames completes the leading three stars and just like the rest he hits his role well.

StoryThe story here focuses on a thief who has spent time in jail that puts together a heist which could get him away from the life of crime, but when he falls in love with a US Marshall it puts everything in perspective. This follows the slick style of the heist movies where we see how things are unfolding before we see how our main character has planned things to unfold, this works nicely throughout the film and makes the story an easy to watch enjoyed movie.

Crime/RomanceThe crime side of the film works as a heist like movie, with the romance being between the two that are either side of the law.

SettingsThe settings show us the hot of Miami and the cold of Detroit as the two different worlds of crime meet for the heists to go down in.


Scene of the Movie –
Jack wanting to take a last stand.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too long for its own good.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun stylish crime movie with a twist of the romance angle that work feeling fresh and enjoyable.

 

Overall: Enjoyable crime adventure.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Prophecy II (1998)

Director: Greg Spence

Writer: Matt Greenberg, Greg Spence (Screenplay) Gregory Widen (Characters)

Starring: Christopher Walken, Russell Wong, Jennifer Beals, Brittany Murphy, Eric Roberts, Glenn Danzig, Steve Hytner

 

Plot: Gabriel returns to try to destroy the human race he despises so much, with the help of a suicidal teen and the opposition of the angel Danyael.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Sequel

 

Story: The Prophecy II starts as the former angel Gabriel (Walken) returns from hell to once again give the angels the upper hand in the battle for heaven. Angel Danyael (Wong) also has plans for this battle which involves impregnating Valerie (Beals), Danyael continues to eliminate Gabriel’s army as the two battle for the upper hand in this battle. Valerie is carrying the child written in prophecy that could help one side win the war but who will walk out of this battle alive?

 

Thoughts on The Prophecy II

 

Characters/PerformanceGabriel is back and even deadlier than last time wanting to take his war back to heaven but he just isn’t as threatening as he was before because he doesn’t understand technology now. Danyael is a hugely forgettable character that is an angel on the good side of the battle. Valerie is a nurse that becomes the mother too be in the battle between good and evil.

Performance wise, Walken just isn’t as menacing as he once was, Wong is forgettable throughout and Beals is fine but not at the level of Madsen.

StoryThe story continues to build on the battle within heaven being played out on Earth, this tries to give us a bigger world battle but in the end it just feels like more of the same.

Fantasy/HorrorWe move into fantasy more here by learn of prophecies and different angels but this doesn’t reach the horror needed for the subject.

SettingsThe settings are once again forgettable and could be used for any film out there.

Special EffectsWe continue to have weak special effects that all come off dated.

Final ThoughtsWeak sequel that just doesn’t capture anything from the first film and you can see how it ended up on DVD.

 

Overall: Poor sequel.

Rating

 

 

Vintage Franchise – Star Trek IX: Insurrection (1998)

Director: Jonathan Frakes

Writer: Rick Berman, Michael Piller (Screenplay) Gene Roddenberry (Characters)

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, F Murray Abraham, Donna Murphy

 

Plot: When the crew of the Enterprise learn of a Federation conspiracy against the inhabitants of a unique planet, Captain Picard begins an open rebellion.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Best of the New Generation Films

 

Story: Star Trek: Insurrection starts as Data (Spiner) goes rogue against the Federation who are monitoring a seemingly primitive group of humans on an unknown planet, Picard (Stewart) must take the Enterprise to this planet to solve Data’s problem only to learn the planet knows and has travelled the universe.

When Picard investigates Data’s malfunction more he learns that Admiral Dougherty (Zerbe) and Ru’Afo (Abraham) have plans for the planet and the people living on it, leaving Picard to rebel against the Federation.

 

Thoughts on Star Trek: Insurrection

 

Characters – Picard continues to be strong leader who challenges his authority while defending his crew and the rights of the people on the planet from Federation law. Data uses his programming to make himself a threat to the Federation showing his loyalty to Picard. Ru’afo is the leader that wants control of the planet because of what the planet possesses and he will do what he wants to make it possible to work with the Federation.

PerformanceThe performances across the board are the best from the main cast of the crew in the franchise to date with the addition performances all coming off good through the film.

StoryThis is the first of the new generation Star Trek films that follows the characters on an adventure which feels original and not part of the television series, this helps us enjoy this movie because it shows our trusted crew doing the right thing, defend the peace in the galaxy from a new threat. The story also feels like what the point of Star Trek would be, to go in peace to new worlds to defend the people on the planet.

Adventure/Mystery/Sci-FiThe adventure part of this story brings our crew to a new world, one that is off the grid in a battle against the people they are meant to be working with, which brings us to the mystery which circles around just what is going on with the two sides interested in the planet.

SettingsThe settings show us just what the Federation will fight for, they have the technology in their ships but the peaceful planet is what the people want.

Special EffectsThe practical effects used through the film are good but the CGI ones end up looking cheaper than they were.

Scene of the Movie – Magic trick.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We lack the use of the supporting crew enough in this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily the best of the next generations film, it has an original story that feels like a movie over an extended television moment which the previous films have felt like so far.

 

Overall: Entertaining addition to the franchise.

Rating