Movie Review: Air Force One

Normally politics and action do not go together, but this might be an exception. One of the best action films of the 1990’s Air Force One is an excellent watch if you like Harrison Ford or action films in general. Spoilers ahead as always.

Shortly after General Ivan Radeck, a dictator of Kazakhstan, is captured a diplomatic dinner is held in celebration of his capture, which included the Russian President Petrov (Alan Woolf) and the American President James Marshall (Ford) a former Vietnam War veteran who reaffirms the commitment to never negotiate with terrorists. Marshall, his family and several Cabinet members board Air Force One to come home when those loyal to Radeck board the plane posing as a news crew and hijack it, led by Egor Korshunov (Gary Oldman.) They demand Radeck’s release or they will kill everyone on the plane. Per protocol (at least in the film I do not know if this is the actual protocol) Marshall is lead into the escape pod and it is launched, however because his family was captured Marshall feigns the escape to save them. With the aid of his Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close) over a satellite phone he “acquired” from one of the loyalists, Marshall does what he has to do to save his family, but someone close to the president may be a traitor. I cannot go more without spoiling.

As I stated before this is one of the best action films of the 1990’s and I am kinda glad this was released in the 1990’s. According to IMDB in the director commentary Wolfgang Peterson said he would not have made this film after 9/11, and even if he did he feels it would have gotten panned by critics and the box office would have flopped. I cannot say for certain if that statement would have been true, but I believe the director made the right decision. The story is compelling to watch, the action is so good, and the acting is fantastic, seriously huge props to Ford and Oldman. I would recommend this film to be on your action movies to watch list.

film, James Bond, must see

Movie Review: Live and Let Die

Time to go Bond again with the first of the Roger Moore era, and in my opinion his best. Live and Let Die is a constant top 10 Bond films and I can see why. Spoilers ahead as always.

James Bond is sent to investigate why three MI6 agents were killed within 24 hours, one in New York, New Orleans and the fictional Caribbean Island San Monique. All three were observing Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), San Monique’s dictator with questionable operations. Aided by Felix Leiter, this time portrayed by David Hedison, and Quarrel Jr., the son of Quarrel from Dr. No (Roy Stewart) Bond soon discovers Kananga is also Mr. Big, a gangster who runs multiple Fillet of Soul restaurants. Kananga’s plan is to mass procedure heroin and as Mr. Big free of charge, but when the addiction rises he will begin to charge, very expensively. Not the most evil plan, but still Bond has to stop it. He also meets multiple henchmen including Solitaire (Jane Seymour), a beautiful tarot card reader, Whisper (Earl Jolly Brown), only talks in a whisper, Tee Hee (Julius Harris), has a claw for a hand, Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry) a CIA double agent and Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder) a master of Voodoo, and has one hell of a laugh.

Roger More’s first spin as 007 was a very good one, as I’ve stated before his best one. To be fair most of his other films as Bond are pretty campy so this was a good start. It was interesting seeing a villain ahead of Bond and the voodoo makes it somewhat creepy. Never been a fan of not understanding something, except when it comes to magic, and voodoo is definitely something I have no intention of messing with. My views on Solitaire will be at a later time. so I want to talk about the rest of the villains. Kananga is not a particular memorable villain when it comes to the Bond franchise, however his death scene is fantastically gross. It is a little difficult to decide between Tee Hee and Samedi who is the most memorable henchman, but I have to give it to both of them they are fantastic. Live and Let Die should be on your must watch Bond list.

Disney, film, must see

Movie Review: Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Now this may be a Disney film you’ve heard of but may have not watched. To say that Atlantis is not a typical Disney film would be a small understatement. It doesn’t have musical numbers, the characters are not the usual heroes and princesses, the villain is well hidden and the body count is high. That being said, this is one of my favorite Disney movies. Once again spoilers ahead.

In 1914 Milo Thatch (Michael J. Fox) a cartographer, linguist and like his grandfather lover of the Atlantis legend, is denied the chance by the Smithsonian to look for the Sheppard’s Journal, long believed to be the map to the lost city. However fate seems to have a plan for Milo. A mysterious woman named Helga (Claudia Christian) shows up at his apartment on behalf of her employer Preston B. Whitmore (John Mahoney), an eccentric millionaire and an old friend of Milo’s grandfather. Paying back the debt he owed Milo’s grandfather after finding the journal, Whitmore wants Milo to find Atlantis with the same team that found the journal: Commander Rourke (James Garner), Helga as his second in command, “Mole” (Corey Burton) a genealogist with a slight obsession with digging and dirt, Vinny (Don Novello) explosion expert, Dr. Joshua Sweet (Phil Moris) medic, Audrey (Jacqueline Obradors) teen mechanic, Wilhelmina Packard (Florence Stanley) radio operator and one of the last Disney characters to smoke on screen and Cookie (Jim Varney in his final role) the chef. After a long and tragic journey, the team does find Atlantis and the still alive citizens including King Kashekim (Leonard Nimoy) and his daughter, Princess Kida (Cree Summer) who forms a connection with Milo. Kida reveals the city is dying and doesn’t know why, asking for help from Milo. However while Milo is willing to help, something wicked may be underway preventing the city from becoming what it once was.

As I’ve said before this is not a typical Disney picture. In fact the staff on the movie had T-shirts made that said “Fewer songs, more explosions.” And boy were there explosions. I have never seen a Disney movie with that much fire power and sadly bodies dropping. In fact this movie has the highest body count of a Disney movie. The characters are also not typical heroes and princesses. Milo is a total geek and takes a while before he goes into hero mode. Kida was unlike many princesses at the time as she was more than willing to go into battle and do whatever it took to save her people. The team does take some getting used to with their different personalities, but they are awesome in one way or another. I won’t go into the villain of the story because it is a massive spoiler, but it probably is who you think it is.

Now I’m sure I know what you are thinking: “If this movie is so good why haven’t I heard of it or seen it?” Well the film, which premiered in 2001, did not do very well at the box office and was sub-par with the critics. Again though it wasn’t what people had expected from Disney so maybe that was a factor. It is also the reason why Kida is not on the official Disney princess list, though she completely deserves it. There was a sequel, Atlantis: Milo’s Return, released a few years later, but all I’m going to say is unless you absolutely loved the movie do not watch it. Short explanation because of the poor box office the planned TV series was scrapped and the episodes planned were made into a movie. Any movie made up of TV episodes that have nothing to do with each other is not great. However the original is still worth watching.

film, James Bond

Movie Review: Diamonds Are Forever

Might not have been Connery’s best but it was a nice conclusion to his official Bond career. Spoilers ahead.

After killing off Blofeld, or so it would seem, Bond moves on to his next mission. M believes diamond are being stockpiled to dispenses prices via dumping and orders Bond to find a way in. Disguised as smuggler and assassin Peter Franks, Bond meets with Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) a diamond smuggler to find the diamonds. The real Franks shows up and Bond is forced to kill him and switches IDs. With the help of CIA buddy Felix Leiter (Norman Burton this time) Bond gets in, but is quick to realize anyone in contact with diamonds gets killed by two assassins Mr. Witt and Mr. Kidd (Bruce Glover and Putter Smith). Bond believes recluse billionaire Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean) is behind the scheme, after following the diamonds with Whyte’s casino manager Bert Saxby (Bruce Cabot) to a location owned by Whyte. There Bond finds a satellite being built by genius Professor Doctor Metz (Joseph Furst). However Whyte is not behind the scheme, instead it was the supposed dead Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Gray this time, told you he’d be in another movie) who has many look a likes. His plan: to use the satellite and diamonds to destroy nuclear weapons and basically hold the world at ransom in an auction for nuclear supremacy. Bond and Leiter are able to make sure Blofeld does not succeed with his plan.

While it was not his final turn as 007 it was in the official franchise by Connery and I thought he did just as good as before. My thoughts on Tiffany will be later so I’d like to focus on the stand outs of the film. Mr. Gray’s performance as Blofeld is my personal favorite of the character, showing just how desperate Blofeld is to kill Bond and as head of SPECTRE. While there are memorable henchmen in the movie, two stick out the most: Mr. Witt and Mr. Kidd. They are always together and seem to take pleasure out of killing, almost everyone they come into contact with ends up dead. It is implied the two of them are lovers, which given the improv of them holding hands all but confirm it. Tiffany is not the only women in the film as three others make lasting impressions: Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood) a gold digger Bond almost sleeps with until she is literally tossed out the window and is later killed at Tiffany’s place, wrong place wrong time, and Whyte’s female bodyguards Bambi and Thumper (Lola Larson and Trina Parks) who give Bond a hell of a fight. M, Leiter, Moneypenny and Q all do their bit in the film.

As for the film itself it was somewhat campier than what the previous films were at the time, but given the next set of films to come it was not too bad. The most memorable part of the film for me was the car chase in Vegas between Bond and the police. At one point Bond drives the car on two wheels, yeah don’t try that with your own car. Other than that I can understand why this film is more than often forgotten, but it is still a decent Bond picture. Coming soon, the begging of the Roger Moore films, Live and Let Die.

classic, film, James Bond, must see

Movie Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

So sorry for the long wait, but I have finally watched “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and once again my heart is just a little broken. Once again spoilers will be ahead as it is unavoidable.

This time portrayed by George Lazenby, Bond is on the hunt for Ernst Stavro Blofeld (portrayed by Telly Savalas) when he saves the life of Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo, aka Tracy (Diana Rigg), a women seemly committing suicide on the beach when Bond pulls up. Tracy thanks Bond at the hotel they are staying at, and Bond fights off an attacker. The next morning Bond is brought to Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti), a crime-lord with legitimate ties and Tracy’s father. Telling Bond of Tracy’s past Draco offers his services and money in exchanging for continuing to see Tracy. Desperate to find Blofeld, Bond agrees. M pulls Bond off the Blofeld assignment and Bond submits his resignation, but Moneypenny writes it to give Bond two weeks instead, what would we do without her? Despite getting the information from Draco, Bond continues to see Tracy, falling in love with her. Bond discovers Blofeld is trying to gain a title as a count and poses as a genealogist Sir Hilary Bray (George Baker, who also does the voice when Bond goes undercover) to get closer to his foe. Blofeld has established an allergy research institute along with his henchwoman Irma Blunt (Ilse Steppat) on the Swiss Alps with the promise to cure allergies. Bond meets 12 women, and beds two of them, known as the Angels of Death; they believe they are being cured of their allergies but in actuality they are being brainwashed for biological warfare, destroying plants and animals in exchange for money, the title and amnesty. Bond, along with Tracy and Draco stop Blofeld with Bond forcing Blofeld into a neck brace. Bond and Tracy marry, but the film ends in tragedy; with Blofeld driving Bunt shoots at the couple killing Tracy. No Bond fan can watch that ending and not cry or have their heart broken.

I know Lazenby gets a lot of grief for his only turn as 007, don’t get me started on the clothes even if it was the style in 1969, but I did not think he was that bad. While Bond is usually seen as tough, leading with his head, and not emotional I found it refreshing seeing Bond in love and vulnerable. Seeing Bond in films later after Tracy’s death is almost sad whenever she gets brought up. My feelings for Diana Rigg as Tracy will be at a later time, and I do have a lot to say about her. Savalas’s Blofeld is very good as he actually does something other than threaten Bond and occasionally shoot. Ferzetti is great as Draco and it almost makes me wonder if Bond kept in contact with him after Tracy’s death. Steppat as Blunt is one of the best henchmen in the Bond universe and it is sad we never get to see her character again; the actress tragically died four days after the film premiere.

The action scenes are very intense in the film with the ski segment and the final battle prior to the wedding. The entire film is one of the best in the franchise, and probably the saddest. It is still a must watch if you are a Bond fan. Coming soon, “Diamonds are Forever.”


Movie Review: The Three Musketeers, 2011 film

When I began doing this blog more I said I would review every film and TV show I have watched, even if the film itself wasn’t that good but what kind of critic would I be if it was all happy all the time (in other words BORING.) So today I will be reviewing the 2011 adaption of “The Three Musketeers”, and well let’s just say there is a reason there hasn’t been a sequel. Once again if you are curious there will be spoilers ahead.

The musketeers Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans) have not been active for sometime after a mission stealing war machine plans ended with the betrayal of Athos’s love Milady (Milla Jovovich) after she sells the blueprints to the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). Mostly they drink, work small jobs or boss around their manservant Planchet (James Cordan). A young man looking to follow his father’s footsteps as a musketeer, d’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) travels to Paris, but not without getting into trouble along the way. That man d’Artagnan gets into trouble with: the Captain of the guards Captain Rochefort (Mads Mickelson). He who works for the Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) a man looking to overthrow King Louis XIII (Freddie Fox) by starting a way between France and England, using Queen Anne (Juno Temple) to do so. Along the way d’Artagnan falls for the queen’s lady in waiting Constance (Gabriella Wilde).

Now I should make this clear this movie is not great, or even good, but it is not horrendous. The action sequences are good as are the performances of Macfadyen and Mickelson in particular, but the rest fall flat and I mean VERY flat. The characters are not memorable, or are memorable for the wrong reasons depending how you look at it. The story is nothing original; I guarantee you pick up a Three Musketeers book that will have a much more believable story than the movie. Last but not least the historical accuracy: there is none. You have flying pirate ships basically in the 17th century; that’s not even possible now. All of the reasons above were why the critics and audiences did not like the film, and thankfully why the sequel hinted at the end of the film did not happen.

Now you are probably asking why did I watch this film knowing it was bad; well as a hopefully future critic you have to watch all kinds of films even if you know it is going to be bad. If you are curious about the film I encourage you to check it out.

film, James Bond

Movie Review: You Only Live Twice

One of Bond’s somewhat more controversial films today, You Only Live Twice is still one of the more action packed of the franchise. Warning once again spoilers ahead.

An American spacecraft was taken in space by an unknown aircraft and killed an astronaut who could not get back in the rocket in time (which honestly did not make any sense to me why he couldn’t pull himself in or his buddy couldn’t.) America blames Russia, who denies all involvement, but the British suspect the Japanese are involved since the spacecraft landed just off the Sea of Japan. Bond is assigned, after faking his death in Hong King (hence the title.) Contacted by Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), an agent for Japanese Secret Service, Bond meets MI6 operative Dikko Henderson (Charles Gray, not the first time this actor will be in a Bond film) who believes the Japanese are working with someone else and has evidence of a rogue craft. He is killed before he can elaborate. Bond is able to kill the assassin and poses as him to find out more, discovering Osato Chemicals is involved by taking photos locked in a safe. Bond is then, uniquely I may add, introduced to the head of Japanese SS, Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamab). Bond is quick to suspect SPECTRE’s involvment, and he is right. The head of Osato Chemicals, Mr, Osato (Teru Shimada) along with his secretary, Number 11 Helga Brandt (Karin Dor)are working for number 1 of SPECTRE, finally introduced as Ernst Stavro Blofeld (portrayed in this film by Donald Pleasence), hired by the People’s Republic of China to start a war between Russia and America; tensions growing further after a Russian rocket is captured. In order to get close to the island where the rogue craft is, and this is where the controversy starts, Bond must become Japanese, train like Tanaka’s ninja’s and take a wife. Along the way Aki is killed by an assassin, who meant to kill Bond. Bond then enters the island with his “wife” Kissy (Mie Hama but voiced by Nikki van der Zyl) and soon comes face to face with Blofeld. Of course SPECTRE’s plans fail thanks to Bond and ninjas, but this was only the beginning of Bloefeld’s official on-screen presence.

Now you have to remember this movie was done in the 1960’s and a lot of older films were not as PC as they are today. While Bond’s Japanese appearance may not have been controversy back then, it does not do any favors now. I will say I do like observing a bit of Japanese culture with the sumo wrestling. Admittedly hearing some things bothered me, but knowing it is Japanese culture back then maybe even now I can forgive it(and I am not looking for any arguments about a different culture.) I have an aunt and uncle who lived in Japan for a while, so my knowledge of the culture is limited if any, but I do not wish to disrespect a culture.The film also has one of the best car chase scenes in Bond history, a great aerial flight with “Little Nellie” as Bond calls the craft and amazing use of ninjas during the training sequence and final battle.

Moving on, as usual my views on Aki and Kissy will appear later, so let’s focus on the villains and help. After five films Bond finally comes face to face with his greatest rival Blofeld. As you will come to see in other Bond films Blofeld is portrayed differently, but Donald Pleasence definitely set the bar with a unique look and fear. While at times his voice is not as menacing a it should be it does not take away Pleasence performance. Mr. Osato and Brandt are terrified of him, and once they failed him in trying to kill Bond they pay the ultimate price (Osato is shot while Brandt after sleeping with and failing to kill Bond is eaten alive by piranhas.) Thankfully Bond does have help with Japanese SS head Tanaka, but called Tiger by his friends. I like Tanaka because of his uniqueness. unlike many who help Bond this guy is not well known to his people, he has his own island, train and he has ninjas; who can say they have that? I must also add the opening sequence with the lava is one of my favorite openings to this franchise.

Overall while the film is not as PC by today’s standards You Only Live Twice is still a good film, and for a short period of time Sean Connery’s last as 007. Coming soon George Lazenby’s only turn as Bond in one of the best known, and heartbreaking, Bond films ever “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.