Monday, 25 April 2011

Get your ass to Muars!! - Total Recall (Carolco - 1990)

They Stole His Mind....Now He Wants It Back!

I love a good Arnie film. Loads of slam-bang action, cool stunts and awesome one liners (who can forget the 'stick around' line in Predator after he sticks someone with a knife to a piece of wood?). So, being a die hard fan, I had to watch Total Recall when it first came on Sky back in 1991. Based on Philip K. Dick's novel 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale', Total Recall tells the story of Doug Quaid, a lowly construction worker who is inexplicably drawn to a company called Rekall, who specialises in fake memory implants of holidays. Whilst going under for a 'trip', old suppressed memories of his old life resurface. Finding that the only way out of the whole mess, and get his life back, is to go to Mars and unravel the mystery whilst helping a bunch of freedom fighters against an evil corporation. Keeping up so far? No, me neither!
That is one big bogey. Hope he has enough tissue!

TR is one of those films that requires multiple watchings, just to get the story, as you think it's one thing, but when you watch it again, you think 'or is it this instead?' It throws so many twists that you don't know which way is up, and if the whole movie happens to him or not. Being directed by Paul Verhoeven, the dutch guy who directed Robocop, it has his trademarks: excessive violence, tongue in cheek humour and a sense that it doesn't take itself seriously (or does it??). It also looks as though there are no CGI effects in this movie at all, making it one of the last movies ever to use miniatures and models, and puppets which, in my personal opinion, makes the film look more natural and organic, and not as fake like CG.
I suppose that's one way to get 'a head!' (I'll get me coat!)

Jerry Goldsmith again comes up with a great score to accompany the action on screen, and adds some impact to the fights, especially against Richter on the lift. Sci-Fi seemed to be Goldsmith's forte, and I could quite happily listen to them all on their own. All in all, Total Recall is an enjoyable action romp with more turns than Silverstone, more mutants than Fallout 3 and a body count to rival Rambo. And it's all bloody good fun too! So, get your ass to Muars, and get ready for a surprise!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

I've Got a Golden Ticket!: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971, Warner/David L. Wolper)

Roald Dahl's Charlie & The Chocolate Factory told the story of a young boy who, through his luck of finding a golden ticket, takes his grandpa Joe with him on a tour of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, with Wonka himself being a bit on the strange side. It involved worker squirrels, Oompa Loompas, and a spoilt girl who you really want to slap hard around the moosh. It's regarded as a classic childrens book, and so David L. Wolper decided to make a musical film version of it in 1971, with the backing of the Quaker Oats Company.

This is one boat ride I wouldn't want to go on!

Starring Gene Wilder as the lovable Willy Wonka, the film has a central lesson of 'enjoy what you have, and don't ask for what you don't really want'. It had comedy, a bit of music, and Gene Wilder in one of his most memorable roles (right alongside his role in Young Frankenstein). It opened to favorable reviews, but had a lackluster box office performance, and even lead to Roald Dahl voicing his displeasure at the movie, and wouldn't even sell the rights to the follow-up book Charlie & The Great Glass Elevator. It also led to Paramount to decide against renewing it's distribution deal, and the Quaker Oats company selling it's shares of the rights to Warner. But, I believe it's Warner who have had the last laugh, as it's become a cult movie over the years due to being played on telly quite frequently (especially around Xmas time, when you've gourged yourself on chocolate, and don't want to look at another chocolate bar for about 5 minutes!!), and good VHS, and later DVD, sales.
A lovable character in a cracking film.
The film is supposedly set in the US, but was filmed entirely in Germany, and you can tell it was. The signs, the license plates, and even the street names are all in German, and not effort was made to cover this fact up. But, for that flaw, the film does redeem itself through being very enjoyable, with the other little brats getting what they deserve, and Charlie showing that a good heart always wins. The film was remade in 2006 that was ok, but the original version will always be the better one, mainly because it has warmth that the remake lacks.

Monday, 11 April 2011

The Underrated: Judge Dredd (Pathe, 1995)

In the future, there are no police, no trials, no courtrooms. Only a group of people with justice in their hands called Judges. Among them is the most famous of all, Judge Dredd (Sylvester Stallone). So, when Dredd is framed for a murder he didn't commit, it's up to him, a hacker called Fergie (Rob Schneider) and Dredd's closest friend Judge Hershey (Diane Lane), to clear his name, and bring the real murderer to justice, Dredd-style.

Being based on a British comic book, Judge Dredd is seen by some as sacrilege because he takes off his helmet which, apparently, is something he never does in the comics. Now, I've only read a couple of the comics, but that was when it was 2000AD, which also had Rogue Trooper gracing it's pages, but who cares if he never took off his helmet? Who actually gives a sodding monkeys? I don't think it's a bad film at all. Yes, some bits are disjointed, and the acting isn't up to scratch in some places, but on the whole, I think it's a fun movie. Stallone and Schneider bounce off each other brilliantly as disgraced judge and a 'nice criminal' (as he puts it), and their comic timing is great. Max Von Sydow turns in a great performance (as always) as Chief Justice Fargo and Armand Assante plays the main villain, Rico, with such evilness, you do get the sense that he'll do anything to get what he wants, no matter who gets in his way.

The storyline is based on a story arc that, I do believe, ran over three issues. And from whats on film here, I'd say it was a good story choice. There is another Dredd film in the works that is supposed to be more akin to the comics in style, but any movie adaption, be it from a book or game, is just that: An adaption. Some changes will be made to give it it's own style, and in this case, it does have style. Yes, some green screen effects look a little hokey now, but it's still an entertaining romp that does what it set out to do. And thats deliver an action film that is enjoyable.