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Posts Tagged ‘Throwback Thirty’

DIE HARD 2 – Michael Kamen

August 6, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The career trajectory of sitcom star Bruce Willis was forever changed by the success of Die Hard in 1988. No longer was he the charmingly roguish detective David Addison from the hit TV show Moonlighting; now he was the all-action NYPD cop John McClane, who had single-handedly foiled the gang of international terrorists who had taken over a Los Angeles skyscraper. Demand for another Die Hard movie was high, and so in the summer of 1990 Willis returned as McClane in Die Hard 2, which was released with the suffix ‘Die Harder’ in some territories. The film was adapted from Walter Wager’s 1987 novel 58 Minutes and saw McClane getting caught up in an all-new terrorism plot at Washington DC’s Dulles Airport. A group of disgruntled former special forces soldiers have disabled the airport’s air traffic control system so they can rescue a drug lord, who is being extradited to the US to stand trial. To make matters worse, a number of commercial passenger planes are circulating above the airport, unable to land, all of which are quickly running out of fuel, and McClane’s wife Holly is on board one of them. The film co-starred Bonnie Bedelia, William Sadler, Franco Nero, John Amos, and Dennis Franz, and was directed by Finnish action movie specialist Renny Harlin. Read more…

PRESUMED INNOCENT – John Williams

July 30, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Presumed Innocent is a terrific courtroom thriller of the type they just don’t make any more. Directed by Alan J. Pakula and written by Scott Turow, based on his own 1987 novel of the same name, it stars Harrison Ford as Rusty Sabich, a high-profile prosecutor working for the current district attorney, Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy). Rusty’s life is turned upside town when a former colleague, Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi), is found raped and murdered in her apartment; to make matters worse for Rusty, he previously had a brief affair with Carolyn, which resulted in domestic problems between Rusty and his wife Barbara (Bonnie Bedelia). The DA’s political rival, Nico Della Guardia, uses circumstantial evidence found at the crime scene to accuse Rusty of the murder, and soon Rusty is fighting not only to clear his name, but to identify the real killer. Presumed Innocent is one of the most entertaining and intelligent movies of its type, and one of my personal favorite courtroom thrillers; great films like this used to come out every year, from authors like Turow and John Grisham, but the over-saturation of TV shows in the Law and Order franchise have somewhat lessened their impact and public interest has waned in the genre as a whole. It’s a shame because I always loved them when they were done well, and this one is one of the best. Read more…

ARACHNOPHOBIA – Trevor Jones

July 23, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Arachnophobia was one of the most fun comedy-horror films of the early 1990s, which played on one of the most prevalent human fears: spiders. Directed by Frank Marshall, the film starred Jeff Daniels as Ross Jennings, the town doctor in an idyllic California coastal community. Things begin to go awry in the town when the desiccated corpse of Jerry Manley (Mark L. Lester), a local nature photographer, is brought to the funeral home for autopsy; Jerry had died while on an assignment deep in the jungles of Venezuela, accompanying entomologist Dr James Atherton (Julian Sands) on a trip to discover and study rare spiders. It quickly becomes apparent that Jerry died of a spider bite, and that the venomous arachnid hitched a ride in his coffin. Before long the entire community is under siege from thousands of deadly eight-legged invaders, and it’s up to Jennings, his wife Molly (Harley Jane Kozak), and local exterminator Delbert McClintock (John Goodman), to stop the infestation. Read more…

GHOST – Maurice Jarre

July 16, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The unexpected box office smash hit of 1990, Ghost is a supernatural romantic drama-thriller about the power of love transcending death, which had millions of people weeping in cinemas across the world. Patrick Swayze stars as Sam Wheat, a successful banker in New York City, who has just moved into a new apartment with his beautiful girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore), and is renovating it with the help of his best friend and co-worker Carl (Tony Goldwyn). Life is perfect for Sam – until he is shot and killed on the street during a mugging gone wrong. Sam discovers he is now a ghost, invisible and unable to interact with the mortal world; after trying and failing multiple times to contact Molly from beyond the grave, Sam instead tries to solve his own murder – which leads him to a startling revelation, and renews his need to contact Molly. To this end, Sam begins to ‘haunt’ Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a fake psychic medium, who is shocked to discover that she can really hear Sam; eventually, Sam convinces Oda Mae to talk to Molly on his behalf, to warn her that she too is in danger. The film was written by Bruce Joel Rubin and was directed by Jerry Zucker, making his solo directing debut after a decade of comedy work as part of the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker trio. As I mentioned it was an enormous commercial success, grossing more than $500 million at the US box office; it was also critically successful, and went on to receive five Oscar nominations, winning for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Goldberg. Read more…

ROBOCOP 2 – Leonard Rosenman

June 18, 2020 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

After the unexpected critical and commercial success of Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop in 1987, it was inevitable that a sequel would be produced, and so in June 1990 Robocop 2 debuted in cinemas. Peter Weller returned to don the chrome armor for a second time as Alex Murphy, a detective in the futuristic Detroit Police Department who, after being murdered by criminals while on duty, is transformed into a half human-half machine cyborg crimefighter. The original movie was a violent action story that masked Verhoeven’s critiques of American hyper-consumerism and corporate corruption; Robocop 2 is a much more straightforward (although perhaps more graphically violent) story that sees Murphy trying to bring down a gang of drug dealers that are flooding the city with Nuke, a synthetic and highly addictive narcotic. Meanwhile, rampant corruption within the police department and its corporate owner, OCP, causes more issues with policing in the city, including mass strikes by cops. In order to address the problems city officials try to strike a deal with Cain, a vicious drug kingpin with a messiah complex. What could go wrong? The film co-stars Nancy Allen, Tom Noonan, and Belinda Bauer, was co-written by cult comic book creator Frank Miller, and was directed by The Empire Strikes Back’s Irvin Kershner, in what turned out to be his last film prior to his death. Read more…

DICK TRACY – Danny Elfman

June 11, 2020 1 comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

One of the earliest comic strips ever created was Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, which debuted in the Detroit Mirror in 1931, and subsequently gained immense popularity through syndication in newspapers in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere. It’s a crime story following the adventures of the titular hard-boiled detective, an Elliot Ness-style lawman taking on various gangsters and villains in the New York underworld, clad in his iconic yellow trench coat. There were several Dick Tracy movies made in the late 1930s and early 1940s, usually with Morgan Conway in the lead role, but the character was curiously ignored for more than 45 years until he was brought back in 1990 by director Warren Beatty, who played the title role himself. The plot saw Tracy locking horns with the vicious gangster Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino), who Tracy had been investigating for years. When a young street urchin known only as ‘the Kid’ (Charlie Korsmo) witnesses Caprice committing a murder, Tracy takes the boy under his wing, both to protect him from retribution, and also to groom him as a potential protégé. Meanwhile, the seductive nightclub singer Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) also emerges as a witness to Caprice’s crimes, but her involvement in the case threatens to disrupt Tracy’s relationship with his long-term girlfriend Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly). After all, sooner or later, she always gets her man… Read more…

GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH – Jerry Goldsmith

June 4, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Gremlins, the film in which a whole host of nasty little creatures take over a small town at Christmas, was one of the most popular and successful films of 1984. It introduced the world to Gizmo, the cute and fuzzy little ‘mogwai’ who has some rather unfortunate traits – he multiplies if you get him wet, and terrible things happen if he eats after midnight. A somewhat belated sequel, subtitled ‘The New Batch,’ opened in cinemas in June 1990. Following the events of the first film, little Gizmo was re-united with his original elderly owner Mr. Wing, and the survivors of the carnage – Billy and Kate – are now a couple and have moved to the Big City. Both Billy and Kate work for a company owned by the eccentric multi-billionaire Daniel Clamp (a thinly veiled parody of Donald Trump), and are astonished when they find Gizmo in one of the company’s laboratories, being subjected to all manner of awful tests by the cruel researcher Dr Catheter. Billy and Kate break Gizmo out and plan to have him live with them but – of course – things go wrong, and before long there are dozens of Gremlins infesting the Clamp skyscraper, threatening to break out and overrun New York. The film is directed by Joe Dante, stars Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates reprising their roles from the first film, and again features Howie Mandel as the voice of Gizmo; they are joined in the cast by John Glover, Christopher Lee, Robert Prosky, and Robert Picardo. Read more…

TOTAL RECALL – Jerry Goldsmith

May 28, 2020 2 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Total Recall is one of my all-time favorite sci-fi action films, and is one of the best movies Arnold Schwarzenegger ever made. Adapted from the short story ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale’ by Philip K. Dick, it was the third English-language film from Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, following Flesh + Blood in 1985 and Robocop in 1987, and continued his explorations of American consumerism and capitalism through thinly-veiled satire, dressed up with large-scale action sequences. The film is set in a future time period where humans have colonized other planets, and have invented technology that allows ‘false memories’ to be implanted into the mind. Schwarzenegger plays Doug Quaid, a regular blue collar worker who has vivid recurring dreams of visiting Mars. One day Quaid decides to visit Rekall, a company which implants memories of vacations in people who have never been on them. However, the process goes wrong, and Quaid learns that he has already had his memory wiped; he is, in fact, a deep-cover elite secret agent with ties to Vilos Cohaagen, the corrupt and ruthless governor of the Mars Colony. Before long Quaid is knee deep in an inter-planetary adventure involving shady secret organizations and underground resistance movements seeking to overthrow the Martian government. The film co-stars Rachel Ticotin, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside, and a pre-Basic Instinct Sharon Stone, and was a massive hit with both critics and audiences, who praised its clever story, vivid action sequences, impressive (if occasionally gory) special effects, and mind-bending distortions of what is real and what isn’t. Read more…

BACK TO THE FUTURE, PART III – Alan Silvestri

May 21, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Following the massive success of Back to the Future in 1985, director Robert Zemeckis shot a pair of sequels back-to-back, both of which continued the time traveling exploits of Marty McFly, the suburban kid from 1980s California, and his eccentric inventor friend Doc Brown, who built a time machine out of a DeLorean. Back to the Future II was less of an icon than the original, but has since proven prescient with its vision of a dystopian alternate world where Marty’s nemesis Biff Tannen becomes a Donald Trump-like multi-billionaire. The ending of the second movie saw the 1985 version of Doc, and the DeLorean, being hit by lightning and sent back in time to Hill Valley in 1885, when it was a newly-build town in the Old West. However, Marty discovers some devastating news about his friend’s fate, and manages to convince the 1955 version of Doc to send him back in time too. Marty finds Doc happily working as a blacksmith, unaware of his future, but before long the pair starts getting into trouble, with Marty encountering both his own great-grandparents, and running afoul of one of Biff’s ancestors, the ruthless gunslinger Mad Dog Tannen. With time running out to save the day and finally return home, one final issue arises when Doc falls in love with Clara Clayton, a beautiful schoolteacher played by Mary Steenburgen. Read more…

ANOTHER 48 HRS. – James Horner

May 14, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The 1980s buddy-cop movie trend arguably began in 1982 with the film 48 Hrs., which paired gruff homicide detective Jack Cates (played by Nick Nolte) with smart-mouthed street criminal Reggie Hammond (played by Eddie Murphy, making his big screen debut). The mismatched duo had two days to find the men responsible for the murder of two of Jack’s colleagues – hence the title of the film – and the confrontational dynamic between the two leads led to box office gold; the film grossed almost $80 million in the US, launched Eddie Murphy’s movie career, and paved the way for future movies in the buddy-cop genre, notably Lethal Weapon. Nine years later Nolte and Murphy re-teamed with director Walter Hill for Another 48 Hrs., a somewhat belated sequel. In this story, Jack is accused of murder after killing a suspect while trying to capture ‘The Iceman,’ a vicious San Francisco drug lord. Meanwhile, Reggie is due to be released from prison, but discovers that the Iceman has put a bounty on his head, although Reggie doesn’t know why. To solve their mutual problems with the Iceman, Jack teams up with Reggie once more – to save Reggie’s life, and to clear Jack’s name and prove his innocence. Read more…

ROBOT JOX – Frédéric Talgorn

May 7, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The cinematic sub-genre of ‘enormous things fighting each other’ has a small but storied history. The Japanese do it best, with their myriad of monstrous kaiju in the enduring Godzilla series. Michael Bay’s risible Transformers movies made a ton of money at the box office but remain mindless, brain-dead Hollywood products. Director Guillermo del Toro tried to pump some life back into genre with yet more robots when he produced Pacific Rim in 2013, and did so to some acclaim, even though I personally didn’t care for them. However, one of the least-known efforts in the genre is this one: Robot Jox, which actually predates all the American entries. Written and directed by Stuart Gordon, the film is set in a post-apocalyptic future where traditional warfare has been outlawed and, instead, giant machines fight international battles to settle territorial disputes. The film follows the adventures of Achilles (Gary Graham), one of the ‘jox’ pilots who controls these robots in a series of gladiatorial encounters, and who is called on to take part in a vital contest against a Russian opponent for the fate of Alaska. Read more…

THE FIELD – Elmer Bernstein

April 30, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Field is a quietly devastating drama written and directed by Jim Sheridan, adapted from the 1965 play of the same name by John Keane. Set in Ireland in the 1930s, the film stars Richard Harris as Bull McCabe, an impoverished farmer who rents a dilapidated field on the cliffs by the sea. When the wealthy widow who owns the field decides to sell it, McCabe assumes that he will be given the first chance to buy it, but unknown to McCabe the widow has been holding on to a grudge for decades, and in a public display of spiteful pettiness directed at McCabe, holds an open auction instead. A rich American named Peter (Tom Berenger), who wants to build a factory on the site, outbids him, and so begins a bitter war which leads to betrayal, death, and madness, with the field itself acting as a symbolic representation of the desperately difficult lives the characters lead. The film has a terrific supporting cast including John Hurt, Sean Bean, Brenda Fricker, and a very young Brendan Gleeson, and was a critical success when it was first released. Read more…

A SHOW OF FORCE – Georges Delerue

April 23, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A Show of Force is a thriller directed by Bruno Barreto, based on true events which occurred in Puerto Rico in 1978. Amy Irving stars as television reporter Kate Ryan, who is investigating the circumstances surrounding the brutal deaths of two Puerto Rican teenagers, Carlos Enrique Soto-Arriví and Arnaldo Darío Rosado-Torres. The government claimed the victims were radical terrorists, while their families said they were pro-independence student activists, and as Ryan gets deeper and deeper into the mystery, she finds herself embroiled in a much larger political scandal and cover-up involving the local police, and which may eventually lead to the corridors of power at the CIA. The film is adapted from Anne Nelson’s book ‘Murder Under Two Flags’, and co-stars Andy Garcia, Lou Diamond Phillips, Robert Duvall, and Kevin Spacey. The film marked the English-language debut of Brazilian director Barreto, who would later go on to make the films Carried Away and One Tough Cop (both scored by Bruce Broughton). Read more…

TWIN PEAKS – Angelo Badalamenti

April 16, 2020 Leave a comment

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

There’s a case to be made for the notion that television as we know it changed on April 8th, 1990. On that date, on the American network channel ABC, Twin Peaks premiered. The brainchild of surrealist writer-director David Lynch, and TV producer Mark Frost, Twin Peaks was ostensibly a murder-mystery show that followed an investigation led by FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) into the death of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), a teenage beauty queen from a fictional town in Washington state. But of course, it was much more than that. It touched on elements of horror and science fiction, offbeat comedy, and satirized many of the tropes inherent on American soap operas. It had a sprawling cast of eccentric characters, whose interlocking lives drive the plot. It was also deeply, deeply weird: there are giants delivering cryptic messages, dwarves talking backwards, demons possessing people, doppelgängers, fever dreams and horrific nightmares, and copious amounts of coffee and cherry pie. By the end of the second season the plot had become so incomprehensible and maddeningly obtuse that it hemorrhaged viewers and was eventually cancelled; I admit that I found the show incredibly frustrating, and by the end of it I was convinced that Lynch was playing an elaborate prank on his own audience – he created a show that was so impenetrable, was so confusing, had such a bizarre visual style, and contained so much ‘intentional bad acting,’ because he wanted to see how long people would tolerate it by convincing themselves it was ‘art’. Read more…

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES – John Du Prez

April 9, 2020 3 comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

For a short while, in the 1990s, the biggest piece of kids pop culture in the world was a story about four wise-cracking reptiles with Japanese fighting skills. Originally appearing in a cult comic book series created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles broke through as an animated television series in 1987. The four titular anthropomorphic turtles – who are named after the Italian Renaissance artists Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo – were originally unwanted pets flushed into the New York sewers. After coming into contact with some radioactive ooze, the turtles slowly mutate and eventually become human/turtle hybrids who learn to speak like contemporary teenagers, and love pizza. Eventually they meet Splinter, the former pet rat of a disgraced ninja master, who also lives in the same sewers and was similarly transformed. Splinter trains the turtles in the ancient art of ninjutsu, and together they battle criminals, aliens, monsters, and various other threats, all while attempting to remain hidden from society. The TV show was massively popular (although, in the UK, they were the Teenage Mutant *Hero* Turtles because ninjas were illegal at the time), and so of course a movie was inevitable. It eventually arrived in theaters in the spring of 1990 with a quartet of stunt men in animatronic rubber turtle suits acting opposite the very human Elias Koteas and Judith Hoag. The film was directed by Steve Barron, and featured special puppet effects provided by Jim Henson in what turned out to be his final project before he died. Read more…