ORBzine - 1999.09 Television Movie Review

ORBzine - Movies on Television

TITLE & REVIEW

Demolition Man

Stallone plays John Spartan, a cliched hard-ass cop with a typically silly macho name. In a face-off with his arch-enemy [Wesley Snipes - Blade ], Spartan accidentally kills a bus-load of hostages. Spartan and Snipes are frozen in a cryo-prison, and frozen out in the year 2033. Snipes escapes, and Spartan teams up with Sandra Bullock to recapture him.

The movie contrasts the Utopia of Dr Cocteau [Nigel Hawthorne - ] with the Disutopia of Edgar Friendly [Dennis Leary]. Unusually for the genre this time the PC world is repressive and the grubby underworld represents freedom. Yes, this is Hollywood's backlash to the Politically Correct atmosphere of the early 1990s!

This film was made in 1993, back when everyone was looking forward to Stallone portraying Judge Dredd in the movie of the same name. Danny Cannon had made his name with Young Americans and looked to be the best choice for the job. Rob Schneider, the sidekick from the Dredd film, pops up here as a low-ranking cop.

This action-fest is every bit as cliched as the Dredd film turned out to be - the differences being that the audience had lower expectations for DM and enjoyed its tongue-in-cheek humour.

Bullock's character is called Huxley, an unusually literate reference to Brave New World. She comes across like Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer - hell, they even look alike. This was Bullock's big break, and pretty much the pinnacle of her career in this reviewer's opinion.

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  • Bram Stoker's Dracula

    Directed by Francis Ford Coppola , this may be the best adaption of the author's work but it is certainly not the director's best effort. For example, contrast the scenes used to illustrate Harker's diary at the start of the film with Martin Sheen's introspection in Apocalypse Now.

    The cast is decent - Keanu Reeves [Bill and Ted] and Winona Ryder were selected because they were of the age Stoker had originally intended their characters to be. Ryder carries her part well, and even manages to act the bad girl for a change. Reeves, on the other hand, displays himself as nothing but a big-name Hollywood star who was roped in for financial reasons.

    The real stars of the show are Gary Oldman [who is a wonderfully sympathetic villain] and Anthony Hopkins [Van Helsing, fresh from his Hannibal Lecter role].

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  • Dracula: Dead & Loving It

    Mel Brooks ' follow-up to Coppola's film, this is yet another of the many Leslie Nielsen efforts that have plagued the 1990s. Nielsen has parodied the spy genre [Spy Hard], the detective genre [Naked Gun] and now this new team-up with Brooks [who co-stars as Van Helsing] adds its fair share of laughs to the cliches of the Dracula story.

    The cast includes Amy Yasbeck [from Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights ] and Peter MacNichol [ Dragonslayer and Ally McBeal].

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  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

    Told in flashback, Dr Viktor Frankenstein tells of his horribly botched experiment to create a living man from a collection bits of dead ones. The resultant monster, worthy of our pity, goes on a kill-crazy rampage ...

    Directed by and starring that infamous son of Ulster, Kenneth Branagh , this is a somewhat faithful adaption of the original novel. For once Emma Thompson , Branagh's then wife, did not play the female lead - instead it went to Helena Bonham Carter . John Cleese [Life of Brian] has a wonderful Cameo - indeed, he was so convincing that this reviewer had to check the credits to be certain it was him!

    The problem with this film is simple; the monster [Robert DeNiro - Heat] just is not scary. They took the man who played Max Cady in the Cape fear remake, about the scariest character in a non-genre movie, and covered him in monster makeup. Not only was this gratuitous, it impaired De Niro's ability to communicate his acting ability to the audience. What a waste!

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  • Jurassic Park

    Sir Richard Attenborough invites a group of famous actors - I mean, scientists - to his new wildlife park on a remote jungle island. However, the animals in the park are actually dinosaurs cloned by Samuel L. Jackson [ Snakes on a Plane ]. Naturally, since this was written by Michael Crichton , things go the way of Westworld . The scientists [ Laura Dern , Sam Neill - Omen III, The Dish and Jeff Goldblum - The Fly ] are chased by Velociraptors and a T-Rex. Luckily, Big Game Hunter Bob Peck [ Slipstream ] is around to save the day.

    When it was first released this film was ground-breaking; now it just seems like more Spielberg schmaltz. The film was only shown on BBC1 in 1999 to promote the BBC's new documentary series on dinosaurs, which claimed to have better CGI than Jurassic Park. And it did.

    It seems strange, but everything in the sequel [ Lost World ] was far bigger and better; the plot had more events, the action was more entertaining ... and yet the sequel was, let's face it, a pretty lousy film. But people still think of Jurassic Park as an excellent piece of work. Why?

    JP was original; if LW had come out back then, it would have been far better received.

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  • Halloween

    Michael Myers [NOT the Canadian responsible for Austin Powers ] is a psychotic murderer. He escapes from the Asylum and, pursued by his Doctor [Donald Pleasance - You Only Live Twice ], he returns to the town where he murdered his own sister. There, Jamie Lee Curtis and her teenage friends are his next targets ...

    Someone once told this reviewer It is a terrible film - it is so slow, you are waiting around for ages waiting for something to happen. Now, the more enlightened moviegoer will recognise this as SUSPENSE.

    John Carpenter originally intended this as a low-budget exploitation pic for drive-thru movie theatres. Instead it is a true horror clasic, with the dubious distinction of spawning the entire slasher genre of low-budget exploitation pics for the straight-to-video market. Irony indeed!

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  • Scooby Doo on Zombie Island

    This sees a return of everyone's favourite cartoon mystery-show, after an absense of over a decade. Can it survive in a post-X-Files world, I hear you ask?


    SHAGGY Yikes, Scoob - it's the menacing phantom!
    MULDER This mystery is now under the jurisdiction of the FBI.
    SCULLY appears, dragging JAR-JAR BINKS. She pulls his mask off, and reveals George Lucas!
    SCULLY Mulder, this so-called Phantom Menace is nothing more than some sad beardy producer-geek with a stupid rubber mask on.
    MULDER Good work, Scully - here's a Scully snack.
    SCULLY Scully dully doooo!

    But seriously, the differences are slight but still noticeable. Velma, the short fat one with glasses, looks a lot more like Gillian Anderson these days. And they all have jobs! Yes, no more hippy free-loaders; Daphne [the gorgeous redhead] presents a TV show on the supernatural, Fred is a cameraman, Velma runs a bookstore [specialising in mystery stories, of course] and even Scooby is a wage-slave [airport sniffer dog, detecting contraband food]!

    The mystery itself is a strange one, unlike the normal Scooby stories. Not to give away any spoilers, but the scene when Fred tries to pull the zombie's mask off is one every Scooby fan has been waiting to see for ages!

    The only recognisable names are Adrienne Barbeau [ John Carpenter 's ex-wife, who has the biggest breasts in mainstream hollywood - she's wasted in a cartoon, believe me!] and Mark Hamill [he also voices the Joker in the Batman cartoon these days].

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