Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What I Saw Last Week – 10 Movie Reviews

Here’s a list of my recent movie viewings (new and repeats) during the last 2 weeks with short reviews, my ratings and video download links (wherever possible).

The Black Widow (Bob Rafelson / 1987 / Thriller) – Women as purveyors of sex and death gets a contemporary reworking by veteran Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces). Theresa Russell is the elegant blond bombshell whose husbands drop like flies and Deborah Winger () is the spunky sleuth who gets herself deeply entangled in Russells’ sticky web. Substantial chemistry between the two compelling female leads gives this occasionally implausible movie its retaining juice. Don’t miss Dennis Hopper’s appearance as one of Russell’s unlucky hubbies. Websnacker’s Rating – ***

Clash of the Titans (Desmond Davis/1981/Fantasy) – Not the overblown 2010 3D remake that’s currently playing at your nearest theatre but the original fantasy super hit which was released way back in 1981 and incidentally which went on to become the 11th highest grossing movie of that year. Featuring the heroic adventures of Perseus as he battles magic, monsters and ancient gods to rescue beautiful Andromeda from a primeval sea horror. The stop animation special effects by Ray Harryhausen (his last movie) may look cheesy now but remember this is the original. With Harry Hamlin, Laurence Olivier and Ursula Andress. Websnacker’s Rating – **

Daybreakers (Spierig Brothers / 2009 / Science-Fiction / Thriller) – With a spectacular concept, a decent budget and big names like Sam Neill, Willem Defoe and the handsome Ethan Hawke for support, I was hoping for a grand ‘Vampires vs Humans’ thriller with a sci-fi twist. Boy, I was completely wrong. As one reviewer put it, Daybreakers has a explosive premise that's utterly ruined by a poor screenplay and a weak plot. Considering the fact that this was made by the same Spierig Bros’ who made the nifty little zombie gem “Undead”, this is a huge disappointment. Websnacker’s Rating – *

Defense of the Realm (David Dury / 1985 / Thriller) – A gung-ho reporter for a British tabloid (Gabriel Bryne) exposes a member of Parliament in a sex and KGB scandal but the story goes a lot – a lot deeper than that. An engrossing, extraordinarily dense thriller that may remind you of the Parallax View, this movie also raises lots of dark questions about covert operations and how deeply the press ought to dig into them. With Greta Scacchi, Bill Paterson and the ever-dependable Denholm Elliot. Recommended, but pay close attention. Websnacker’s Rating – ***

The Eagle’s Wing (Anthony Harvey / 1980 / Western) – An eerie, haunting account of greed, violence and desperation set in Mexico. Told almost entirely in visuals, the story involves a white adventurer (Martin Sheen) and a Kiowa Indian warrior (Sam Waterston) locked in a life and death struggle over a fabulous white horse. The action is punctuated with sudden, gripping moments of violence (some of it surprisingly subtle as well as brutal). Harvey (Lion in winter) deserves kudos for daring to tell a two-hour story with barely a hundred words of dialogue. Superb photography by Billy Williams (Gandhi), a fantastic John Barry score and scripted by the Gandhi author, John Briley. Websnacker’s Rating – ****

Gotcha (Jeff Kanew / 1985 / Action / Comedy) – Kanew’s follow-up to the phenomenal 80’s hit “Revenge of the Nerds” is a diverting exercise in campus hijinx, international espionage and sexual discovery – a sort of Private Lessons meet James Bond. Anthony Edwards is engaging as Jonathan, an easy going student vacationing in Europe who is lured by a mysterious woman (Linda Fiorentino) into romance, action and a transcontinental chase with a KGB assassin. Jonathan relies on his skills at a campus stalking game called, (you guested it) “Gotcha” and a friendly street gang to overcome all the odds. Campy 80 style teen fun. Websnacker’s Rating – ***

Kiss or Kill (Bill Bennett/1997/Thriller) – I have been wanting to watch this AFI award winning Aussie ‘road thriller’ since 1998 when I read its review in a nondescript pulp magazine. I got to watch it last week when a friend from Sydney gifted me its DVD. With great acting especially from the two leads - Frances O'Connor and Matt Day, beautiful photography enhancing the gritty Australian outback and a natural feeling ambient background score, this Aussie version of ‘Natural Born Killers’ noir thriller was indeed worth the wait. Websnacker’s Rating – ***

Men At Work (Emilio Estevez / 1990 / Action / Comedy) – Real life brothers Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen star in this 90’s comedy caper as two hard on luck garbage men who stumble on a dead cop and try to hide him, while evading arrest, murderous henchmen and figuring out the who’s and why’s. A harmless low budget comedy actioner, watch out for Keith David who stands out as the trigger happy, vietnam veteran on the edge. Emilio Estevez also directed this. Also starring Dean Cameron, Troy Evans and Leslie Hope.Websnacker’s Rating – **1/2

Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese / 2010 / Thriller)– Even the likes of Max Von Sydow, Leonardo Di Caprio, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Michelle Williams and Mark Ruffalo cant hide the big flaws in this puffed up 50’s style pretentious gothic whodunit. The John Cusack starrer “Identity” did it much better. If you have read the Dennis Lehane best selling novel on which it is based on, you'll realize why the book was so exciting and this isn’t. For strictly die-hard Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Di Caprio fans only. Websnacker’s Rating – **

The New Daughter (Luis Berdejo / 2009 / Horror) – What do you get when you stretch a 10 page supernatural short story into a 108 minute full feature film – utter boredom. There is hardly any horror and the script by John Travis keeps meandering for no reason. When the final pay off does come, it’s too little, too late. Kevin Costner does play his fatherly role well so do the 2 kids but this movie by the promising Luis Berdejo who co-wrote the fantastic [REC] unfortunately is a total bummer. Websnacker’s Rating – **


  1. Hey Web, one more great list excluding the new releases.

  2. Shutter Island is the only one I have seen amongst this list..Looks interesting..must look up the others in the dvd lending library here..:)

  3. nice collective review... thanks the links to download.

    Cheers LIFE

  4. JD and Journo..thanks for the visit.

  5. Thanks for new movie options ;) cool stuff...Following this blog


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