Archive for September, 2011

THE ALAMO – Dimitri Tiomkin

September 22, 2011 2 comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

This historical epic directed by and starring John Wayne focuses on the famous battle at the Alamo. In 1836, Generalissimo Santa Anna and his grand Mexican Army marched into Texas, then a province of Mexico, to break a rebellion by the locals. The Texans are not fully prepared to engage Santa Anna in battle, so in order to buy time for General Sam Houston and his troops, his subordinate, Colonel William Travis, devises a bold plan. He will fortify and garrison a small mission fort called the Alamo to forestall Santa Ana’s advance northward. The odds are near impossible as they are greatly outnumbered in men, cavalry and artillery. Yet Travis is resolute in his determination to stop Santa Anna at all costs. Heroes of American folklore, the legendary Jim Bowie as well as Davy Crockett and his Tennessee Volunteers support him. And so this small band of 187 men stand their ground in the face of Santa Ana’s army of 5,000 only to find that relief is not coming. Resigned to their fate these American heroes fight an unwinnable battle, one where they will be slaughtered to the man, but a battle that will serve as a rallying cry that will inspire their fellow Texans to fight for and win independence. The movie has a stellar cast that included John Wayne (Davey Crockett), Richard Widmark (Jim Bowie) and Laurence Harvey as Colonel William Travis. The film was a critical success earning six Oscar nominations, but a commercial failure as ticket sales failed to recoup the production costs. Read more…

STRAW DOGS – Larry Groupé

September 20, 2011 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The original Straw Dogs, which was directed by Sam Peckinpah, hit unsuspecting cinema goers like a hammer in 1971, and was an incredibly controversial film in it’s time. The film tells the story of a mild mannered American academic David (originally played by Dustin Hoffman) and his pleasant English wife Amy (originally played by Susan George), who move to a rural part of England and immediately become the subject of increasingly intense harassment by the locals. Things come to a head after Amy is brutally raped by several local men who are ostensibly working on the house, and before long David finds himself having to defend his house, his family, and his life, from circumstances that are spiraling out of control. The original film’s controversy arose due to the fact that, during the rape sequence, it was left intentionally ambiguous as to whether the Amy character actually enjoyed being raped, and this possible misogynism left a nasty taste in the mouths of censors and cinema viewers at the time. This remake of the film is directed by Rod Lurie, stars James Marsden and Kate Bosworth in the lead roles, and relocates the action from rural England to the Deep South of Mississippi, a regular location for the cinematic depiction of shitty-shoed rednecks and their unsavory sexual proclivities. Read more…

THE GREAT SANTINI – Elmer Bernstein

September 18, 2011 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Great Santini was adapted from Pat Conroy’s semi-autographical tribute to his father Bull Meechum, a tough, and hard-edged Marine fighter pilot. The film explores how he struggles in peacetime to adapt to his new life as well as to be a loving father and husband without relinquishing his tough guy warrior image. The film starred Robert Duvall as Col. “Bull” Meechum, Michael O’Keefe as his eldest son, Ben and Blythe Danner as his wife, Lillian. Although the film was a critical success and earned Oscar nominations for both Duvall and O’Keefe, it was a commercial failure, never able to resonate with the viewing public. Read more…

FRIGHT NIGHT – Ramin Djawadi

September 16, 2011 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The original Fright Night was one of my favorite scary movies of the 1980s, a wonderfully grotesque comedy horror about a teenage movie nerd named Charley Brewster who finds out that a real live (dead?) vampire is living next door; in order to stop the evil vampire from taking over the neighborhood – and, more importantly, turning his cute girlfriend into a bloodsucking fiend – Charley teams up with aging TV anthology host and one-time vampire-hunter Peter Vincent to take on the forces of darkness. The 2011 remake is directed by Craig Gillespie (the creator of United States of Tara), and stars Anton Yelchin as Charley, David Tennent as Vincent, and Colin Farrell, hamming it up as the suave, but deadly Jerry Dandridge. Read more…


September 11, 2011 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Black Hole was to be Disney’s effort to take the successful disaster movie genre into outer space. Conceived in 1975 as a “Poseidon Adventure in Space”, the film was never able to germinate until the Star Wars phenomenon served to catalyze a resurgence of the space epic genre. Gary Nelson was hired to direct with Jeb Rosebrook given the task of adapting the earlier disaster in space script to a more epic adventure tale involving a monstrous black hole. The movie had a stellar cast that included Ernest Borgnine, Yvette Mimieux, Anthony Perkins and Maximillian Schell, as well as Roddy McDowall who provided the voice of the robot VINCENT. Set in the year 2130 C.E. aboard the USS Palomino, the story details the discovery of the lost USS Cygnus, which is seen apparently derelict, orbiting a massive black hole just beyond its event horizon. An investigation into the mystery that was the Cygnus leads to a grim discovery that threatens to end the lives of all involved. Although Disney conceived the film as an epic much in the mold of 2001: A Space Odyssey and provided a story replete with symbolic references to Dante’s Inferno, uninspired directing and a truly poor script resulted in critical failure. The film was nevertheless a commercial success due to its amazing special effects and myriad of robots that won the hearts of the audience. Read more…

GAME OF THRONES – Ramin Djawadi

September 9, 2011 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Game of Thrones is a sprawling fantasy drama television mini-series made by HBO, based on the popular first novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Set in a fictional ancient kingdom similar to medieval Britain, it follows the fortunes of four noble families – the solid and gritty Starks, the manipulative and cunning Lannisters, the warlike but faded House Baratheon, and the proud and mysterious House Targaryan, the last surviving members of which have been banished overseas, but who have joined forces with the vicious and nomadic Dothraki clan and are looking to return home for revenge. The show has a sprawling, labyrinthine plot of murder, betrayal, sex, violence, magic and superstition, but at its core is about the four houses and their various political machinations to gain control of the fabled Iron Throne, and with it the monarchy of the kingdom. The show stars Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kit Harington, Harry Lloyd, Emilia Clarke and Jason Momoa, and received rave reviews when it premiered on US television in April 2011. Read more…


September 7, 2011 8 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, subtitled On Stranger Tides, came a little belatedly, four years after the conclusion of the well-received third entry in the record breaking series, At World’s End. Although Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush return at the strutting Captain Jack Sparrow ad his nemesis Barbossa, gone are co-stars Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, as is director Gore Verbinski. In their place is new director Rob Marshall – whose last film, the musical Nine, couldn’t have been more different – while the new supporting players include Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane. The story follows the search for the mythical Fountain of Youth; Cruz plays Angelica, one of Captain Jack’s old flames, while McShane plays the legendary Blackbeard, Angelica’s father and Jack’s rival in the hunt for eternal life. Read more…


September 3, 2011 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Film music aficionados generally consider the score for the original 1982 version of Conan the Barbarian, written by the late great Basil Poledouris, to be one of the finest scores ever written. While remaking the film itself is, from my point of view, neither here nor there as I thought the original movie was greatly flawed, stepping into Poledouris’s musical shoes was always going to be a daunting task, no matter who the composer is. It turns out that the composer is Tyler Bates, returning to the historical action epic genre that first brought him to prominence – or should that be notoriety? – with 300 back in 2006.

The film, which is based on the sword-and-sorcery pulp stories of Robert E. Howard, is directed by Marcus Nispel and stars Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa in the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger role. The straightforward story follows the adventures of Conan, a vengeful warrior who marauds across the landscape of medieval Hyboria searching for those that murdered his father and slaughtered his village when he was a small boy. Read more…

DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK – Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton:

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a creepy horror movie co-written produced by Guillermo Del Toro, and directed by Troy Nixey. It’s a remake of a 1973 TV movie of the same name, and stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce as Alex and Kim, a young couple who have just moved into an old, rambling house, Blackwood Manor, which Alex – an architect – is intending to renovate. However, when Alex’s daughter from a previous relationship, Sally (Bailee Madison) comes to stay, things start to happen in the house in the dead of night. Left alone to investigate the macabre history and dark corners of the estate, Sally begins to hear rasping voices whispering from the basement, who promise her understanding and friendship, who are so very hungry and would like to be set free… Read more…