Archives For bad movies

For a while, Dark Angel (AKA I Come in Peace) almost feels like two separate films. The first follows Dolph Lundgren’s tough as nails cop joining up with a naïve FBI agent to hunt down the drug baron who killed his partner. The second sees an overly large humanoid alien literally arriving on earth with a bang and immediately going on a killing spree whilst being pursued by an equally humongous extra-terrestrial. However, both storylines are actually connected by the drugs bust where Lundgren’s partner was killed.

Dark Angel is very much an action movie of its time. Lots of punching people in the head on moodily lit, rain soaked streets in a city under perpetual nighttime. Director Craig R. Baxley (The Warriors) cherry-picks the best bits of 80s blockbusters, particularly The Terminator, to provide something that is more fun than it has any right to be. There is very little here to tax the brain. People talk in exposition on a regular basis and when things start getting a bit slow, you know you’re guaranteed an explosion just around the corner.

However, none of this hides the fact that Dark Angel is a very derivative and not particularly well-made film.

This review originally appeared in FilmInk.

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Lifeforce (1985)

October 27, 2017 — Leave a comment

A missing European space probe mission arrives back on earth with most of the crew dead and three naked comatose humanoids in the ship’s cargo. Whilst under quarantine, the humanoids turn out to be overly sexual, energy vampires. One of which escapes, sucking the lifeforce out of every Tom, Dick and Harry, with an SAS colonel and the sole survivor of the probe in hot pursuit.

As high concepts go in sci-fi/horror, this is up there with some of the best. Vampires, spaceships, nudity, zombies, a cameo by Patrick Stewart; there’s a hell of a lot going on in this party bag of a movie from Director Tobe Hooper (Texas Chain Saw Massacre). However, spread across 115 minutes, this feels like a case of throwing everything at the screen and seeing what sticks.

At its best, Lifeforce has some great set pieces coupled with some showy special effects. However, at its worst, which is most of the time, it’s an undercooked slice of genre filmmaking, suggesting Hooper’s heart wasn’t totally in this. This is evidenced by wooden acting, a Mancini score that doesn’t fit the film tonally and a storyline that flails around before finishing itself off with a whimper.

This review originally appeared in FilmInk.

 

Rogert Ebert referred to 2010’s I Spit on your Grave as ‘a despicable remake of a despicable 1978 film.’ So, you have to wonder what he’d make of this; a sequel to the remake which also feels like another remake of the original. Jemma Dellender plays Katie, a wide-eyed innocent trying to make her mark in the catty world of modelling. Unable to afford a decent portfolio, Katie accepts an offer from three Bulgarian brothers to do photos on the cheap. Instead of glossy 8 by 4s, Katie is kidnapped by the brothers, smuggled to Europe and subjected to horrendous acts upon her person.

Unsurprisingly to many, Katie escapes and begins a campaign of violent revenge across Bulgaria, which takes up less time in the movie than the abuse our heroine is subjected to. The makers of I Spit on your Grave 2 seemingly believe that the ends justify the means: as long as we show X we can get way with Y. Instead, what transgresses over 90 minutes is vicious, nasty, soul crushing story telling that suggests the tide of torture porn, started by the likes of Hostel, has yet to ebb away.

This review appeared previously in FilmInk.

The Cobbler (2014)

October 23, 2017 — Leave a comment

The adage of truly understanding someone by walking a mile in their shoes becomes the literal backbone of this comedy drama from Thomas McCarthy, and starring Adam Sandler. Sandler has never really made good on the promise he showed in Punch Drunk Love, seemingly content with his lot in life. McCarthy on the other hand has credits that include The Station Agent, The Visitor and Up. With him taking Sandler under his wing, and Dustin Hoffman co-starring, there’s the expectation of something magical. Sadly, that’s not to be the case.

Sandler plays Max, a grumpy, lonely cobbler whose only friends in life appear to be his sickly mother and his barber neighbour, Jimmy (Steve Buscemi). Max wishes away his days, looking forward to the moment when the promise of urban renewal will buy him out of his humdrum existence. When he comes across his long absent father’s stitching machine, Max uncovers a magic ability to take on the form of anybody whilst wearing their shoes.

Once this discovery has been made, The Cobbler doesn’t really know what to do with Max’s new found powers. The problem lies with the tone of the film that battles itself to be either a knock about comedy or a social drama laced with magic realism. Max is either scoping out babes in the shower or protecting old people from being evicted. Due to this constant shifting, the narrative drags out until Max’s reason for being is revealed in a twist ending that promises sequels.

Even if the casual racism and sexism of the film is dismissed, The Cobbler struggles with a hero that’s hard to feel compassion for when his journey’s end appears to happen off screen. As such, there will be those who find The Cobbler, considering the pedigree of the director, surprisingly unsatisfactory.