Sep 2, 2014

The Living Daylights (1987)

Genre: action, adventure, romance
Directed by: John Glen
Produced by: Albert R. Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, etc.
Written by: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson
Music by: John Barry
Running time: 130 minutes
Production company: Eon Productions
Distributed by: MGM/UA Distribution Company, United Artists, United International Pictures, 
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $40,000,000
Box office: $191,200,000 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Timothy Dalton, Maryam d'Abo, Jeroen Krabbé, Joe Don Baker, John Rhys-Davies, Art Malik, Andreas Wisniewski, Thomas Wheatley, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Geoffrey Keen, Walter Gotell, Caroline Bliss, John Terry, Virginia Hey, John Bowe, Julie T. Wallace, Belle Avery

The Living Daylights is a new dawn in the James Bond franchise. Roger Moore had decided that he was done playing 007 while A View to a Kill was still in theatres. As much as I like Moore, he made the right decision because it's pretty clear that his age became painfully obvious in his last Bond entry. He had a great run though and created an interesting chapter in the Bond franchise.

Director John Glen is back for his fourth helping of James Bond, Barbara Broccoli has finally made producer status as an associate, John Barry is back once again to score and in comes Timothy Dalton for the first time. In terms of what James Bond is meant to look like in the book, Dalton is the one who I think fulfills the requirements perfectly. He's charming and good-looking so it's definitely convincing to see him getting the ladies. At the same time though, he's also cold and seems to have that "cruel" streak that Ian Fleming describes as Bond having. At the same time though, I've said before that I don't have a favourite Bond. I like them all for the unique qualities that they bring and I definitely appreciate what Dalton brings with him. More traditional in style in comparison to Roger Moore's Bond, he's also more intense and more prone to anger than Sean Connery's Bond was.

Sep 1, 2014

Pigeon: Impossible (2009)

Genre: animation, short, action
Directed by: Lucas Martell
Produced by: Lucas Martell, Gopal Bidari
Written by: Lucas Martell
Music by: Christopher Reyman
Running time: 6 minutes
Production company: Austin Film Society
Distributed by: N/A
Country: United States
Language: No dialogue
Budget: $10,000
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry

Starring: N/A

Lucas Martell has had a career mostly in visual effects. Not a very glamorous one to say the least since Robert Rodriguez' Shorts seems to be the highlight of his career. It's all the same even more of a reason to check out his solo project Pigeon: Impossible which he's responsible for the directing, producing and writing. Everyone deserves a chance right? 

Lan Yu (2001)

Genre: drama, romance
Directed by: Stanley Kwan
Produced by: Yongning Zhang, Qin Jian
Written by: Jimmy Ngai
Music by: Yadong Zhang
Running time: 86 minutes
Production company: Kwan's Creation Workshop, Yongning Creation Workshop
Distributed by: Festive Films, Epicentre Films, Strand Releasing, etc.
Country: Hong Kong, China
Language: Mandarin
Budget: N/A
Box office: $3,847,964 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Ye Liu, Jun Hu, Bin Li, Huatong Li, Shuang Li, Fang Lu, Jin Su, Shaohua Zhang, Yongning Zhang

The story of Lan Yu is based off a story that was posted on the internet anonymously. This is because representing homosexuality in a positive light was a big no-no at the time in any form of entertainment and still is it would seem. Add incorporating the Tienanmen Square Massacre and you've got an unpublishable book on your hands. No Chinese publisher would ever want to associate itself with this kind of controversy.

Lucky that the story got the attention of Stanley Kwan and his associates. Kwan is one of the few openly gay Asian directors and he was willing to work on this film without government approval. Somehow Lan Yu got screened at some film festival in Beijing in 2001 and it also got some well deserved exposure elsewhere.

Aug 31, 2014

The Book Thief (2013)

Genre: drama, war
Directed by: Brian Percival
Produced by: Ken Blancato, Karen Rosenfelt, Redmond Morris, etc.
Written by: Michael Petroni
Music by: John Williams
Running time: 131 minutes
Production company: Fox 2000 Pictures, Sunswept Entertainment, Studio Babelsberg
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Big Picture 2 Films, CinemArt, etc.
Country: United States, Germany
Language: English, German
Budget: $19,000,000
Box office: $76,586,316 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Sophie Nélisse, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch, Sandra Nedeleff, Hildegard Schroedter, Rafael Gareisen, Gotthard Lange, Godehard Giese, Roger Allam, Oliver Stokowski, Barbara Auer, Heike Makatsch, Levin Liam, Carina Wiese

Will film viewers ever tire of watching dramas set during World War II? I suppose not. With so many different angles and possible stories, it's an unlimited supply of heavy hitting material. The Book Thief is based off of a book by writer Markus Zusak and was released worldwide in 2006. Narrated by Death, it's important to note that it's intended for young adults. These days, YA seems like a synonym for terrible but that's not why I'm bringing it up here. I've never read the book myself anyhow and it did end up with a fair amount of literary awards.

As a WWII movie, The Book Thief has a fair amount of the necessities checked off. It's set in Germany and has some actual German actors. The main characters are all actors pretending to be German but with talented names like Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson that shouldn't be too much of a problem. It's even scored by the famed John Williams. This is British director Brian Percival's film project to date though. 

Aug 30, 2014

A View to a Kill (1985)

Genre: action, adventure, crime
Directed by: John Glen
Produced by: Albert R. Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Tom Pevsner
Written by: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson
Music by: John Barry
Running time: 131 minutes
Production company: Danjaq, Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, etc.
Distributed by: MGM/UA Entertainment Company, United International Pictures, American Broadcasting Company, etc.
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $30,000,000
Box office: $152,400,000 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau, David Yip, Fiona Fullerton, Manning Redwood, Alison Doody, Willoughby Gray, Desmond Llewelyn, Robert Brown, Lois Maxwell, Walter Gotell, Geoffrey Keen, Jean Rougerie, Daniel Benzali, Bogdan Kominowski, Papillon Soo, Mary Stavin, Dominique Risbourg

A View to a Kill is the third Bond film to be directed by John Glen out of the five titles he did in succession from 1981 to 1989. It's also his worst performing Bond film, grossing a little less than License to Kill. Not that $152.4 million is anything to sneeze at on a budget of $30 million. What's interesting though is that it held its first premiere in San Fransisco instead of in the UK as usual. This was because of the warm welcome the production got from the mayor at the time who loved Roger Moore and granted all the liberties the crew wanted. It made $50.3 million from the US alone so it was a decision that panned out.

The fourteenth 007 movie also features Roger Moore for the very last time. Most people have a favourite Bond but I like them all, including Moore so I'm sad to see him go. After seven movies, twelve years and finally reaching the ripe old age of 57, I can understand Roger's decision to retire. Apparently he was horrified when he learned that Tanya Roberts' mother was younger than himself which I guess really made him look in the mirror. To be honest his age does get distracting in certain instances. Seeing him performing during action sequences isn't really affected, but when he's getting it on with the ladies? It doesn't feel the same unfortunately. On another sad side note, this is also the final appearance of Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny.

Aug 29, 2014

The Borrowers (1997)

Genre: comedy, family, fantasy
Directed by: Peter Hewitt
Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Rachel Talalay, etc.
Written by: Gavin Scott, John Kamps
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams
Running time: 89 minutes
Production company: Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Working Title Films
Distributed by: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, REP Distribution, etc.
Country: United Kingdom, United States
Language: English
Budget: $29,000,000
Box office: $22,619,589 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: John Goodman, Mark Williams, Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, Flora Newbigin, Tom Felton, Raymond Pickard, Bradley Pierce, Aden Gillett, Doon Mackichan, Hugh Laurie, Ruby Wax, Andrew Dunford, Bob Goody, Patrick Monckton, Dick Ward, George Antoni, Alex Winter


I remember having watched The Borrowers when I was a kid. I think I saw it twice actually. I had a blast watching this movie and I was curious to see how it has held up since then. It was a movie I would quote many times and I even remember having the book read to me by mom. Yes, my mom used to read to my two sisters and I before bedtime. As much as there were times I had wished I could be doing other stuff like watching late-for-a-kid TV or video games, having books read to me did more good than harm in the end.

The Borrowers is full of great English actors. Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, Hugh Laurie and a very young Tom Felton. Oh, and American John Goodman. Can't forget him now can we? Looking at director Peter Hewitt's filmography is a little worrisome though because it appears that all he's made that's worthwhile is Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. Although it's a sequel to a great movie, it's still got its moments. But I mean Garfield? Thunderpants? Zoom? I don't know...

Aug 28, 2014

Lake Placid 3 (2010)

Genre: action, horror, sci-fi
Directed by: Griff Furst
Produced by: Jeffery Beach, Phillip J. Roth, Rui Costa Reis, etc.
Written by: David Reed
Music by: Nathan Furst
Running time: 93 minutes
Production company: Stage 6 Films, RCR Media Group, UFO Films, etc.
Distributed by: Syfy, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $2,500,000
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Colin Ferguson, Yancy Butler, Kirsty Mitchell, Kacey Barnfield, Jordan Grehs, Michael Ironside, Mark Evans, Nils Hognestad, Bianca Ilich, Angelica Penn, Brian Landon, Atanas Srebrev, Don Andersen, Roxanne Pallett, James Marchant, Velizar Binev, John Laskowski, Ivo Simeonov, Kremena Otashliyska

Under the direction of bit actor/B-movie director Griff Furst, here we are at Lake Placid 3. Bringing together a collection of fallen stars and nobodies, it's obviously not a movie to be taken seriously. It is however a money opportunity for the re-branded Syfy as I had said in my review for Lake Placid 2. The budget's gone up a bit and I'm sure that's to account for not one but two "stars."

Michael Ironside was at one time a force with his portrayals of imposing baddies, but he plays the role of town sheriff in LP3. We also get Yancy Butler who is best known as the star of the TV series Witchblade which had a cult following. She fell into legal and drug problems which is a shame and probably never really reached her potential. Unfortunately she hasn't really been able to advance past B-movie parts these days apart from a role in Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2.

Aug 27, 2014

Trapped (2002)

Genre: crime, drama, thriller
Directed by: Luis Mandoki
Produced by: Mimi Polk Gitlin, Luis Mandoki, Glen Ballard, etc.
Written by: Greg Iles
Music by: John Ottman
Running time: 106 minutes
Production company: Columbia Pictures, Mandolin Entertainment, Propaganda Films, etc.
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, Central Partnership, etc.
Country: United States, Germany
Language: English
Budget: $30,000,000
Box office: $13,414,416 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Charlize Theron, Kevin Bacon, Courtney Love, Stuart Townsend, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Dakota Fanning, Steve Rankin, Garry Chalk, Jodie Markell, Matt Koby, Gerry Becker, Andrew Airlie, Randi Lynne, Colleen Camp, J.B. Bivens, John Scott, Gregory Bennett, Jim Filippone


Trapped is an abduction thriller with child actor extraordinaire Dakota Fanning playing the main target. With Charlize Theron and Irishman Stuart Townsend rounding out the family, you can just imagine the discussions they had at Sony trying to figure out what actors to cast to appeal to parents and get them to come out to see their movie in theatres. The characters are all beautiful, they're very rich and they live in a beautiful home. How could anyone not identify with them?

The story is based off of a novel called 24 Hours written by Greg Iles who even wrote the script for this film. Maybe the book isn't as guilty of this, but everything in Trapped feels contrived and ironed over by Sony. A thriller's number one goal is to be, well thrilling obviously. Not that feeling contrived is the only problem of Trapped, but it's a major one that kept me from being able to dive head first into the story.

Aug 26, 2014

Lake Placid 2 (2007)

Genre: horror, sci-fi
Directed by: David Flores
Produced by: Jeffery Beach, Phillip J. Roth, T.J. Sakasegawa, etc.
Written by: Todd Hurvitz, Howie Miller
Music by: Nathan Furst
Running time: 88 minutes
Production company: Asgaard Branding, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, etc.
Distributed by: The Sci-Fi Channel, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $2,000,000 AUD
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: John Schneider, Sarah Lafleur, Sam McMurray, Chad Michael Collins, Alicia Ziegler, Joe Holt, Ian Reed Kesler, Justin Urich, Cloris Leachman, VJ Kewl, Robert Blush, Jonas Talkington, Terence H. Winkless, Michael McCoy, Andrea Enright, Zhasmina Toskova, Vlado Mihailov, Yana Marinova


A sequel to Lake Placid eight years later? Who even asked for that? Well the Sci-Fi Channel must have heard someone ask for a sequel. Right? What's crazy is that it must have done pretty well for itself because there are still two more Lake Placid movies that I got to get through.

It's not a stupid idea from a business point of view anyhow. Scale the budget down from that way-too-high-for-TV $35 million of the original movie and bring in someone who's past their prime and would be funny to watch in some sort of horror schlock. In this case we get John Schneider of The Dukes of Hazzard fame.

Aug 25, 2014

Lake Mungo (2008)

Genre: drama, horror, mystery
Directed by: Joel Anderson
Produced by: Georgie Nevile, David Rapsey, Joel Anderson, etc.
Written by: Joel Anderson
Music by: N/A
Running time: 87 minutes
Production company: Mungo Productions, Screen Australia, SBS Independent
Distributed by: After Dark Films, Eagle Films, Earth Star Entertainment
Country: Australia
Language: English
Budget: $1,400,000 AUD
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe, Talia Zucker, Tania Lentini, Cameron Strachan, Judith Roberts, Robin Cuming, Marcus Costello, Chloe Armstrong, Carole Patullo, John Dunn, Laurie Dunn, Kirsty McDonald, James Lawson, Phillip Boltin, Glenn Luck, Simon Wilton


Lake Mungo is a mockumentary in name, but it's not a comedic sort in the same vein as This is Spinal Tap or A Mighty Wind. It's a horror/drama mockumentary. It sounds weird but it does end up working quite well. While the format itself is not going to make for the scariest movie known to man, it can get really, really creepy. That's the true strength of Joel Anderson's Lake Mungo.

Lake Mungo did open in its native country and two years later was able to secure theatrical distribution in the United States, courtesy of After Dark Films. Clearly we're talking about a handful of theatres and that's not really surprising. The found footage genre exploded in 2007 with twelve movies and many more followed in the next few years. The market can only withstand so many after all. Lake Mungo isn't a found footage horror movie but it's pretty easy to lump it in with the rest of them at quick glance. The film does however have some slight elements of found footage but in no way does it truly fit into the genre.