Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Short takes on five films

When I'm not reading and writing (as I haven’t been much lately), listening to music or playing chess, I'm usually watching movies, and I saw quite a few in recent weeks. Some I liked and some I didn’t. Here are Short Takes on five of them for Tuesday’s Overlooked Films, Audio and Video over at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.

Aliens, 1986 - James Cameron

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is back on dead planet LV-426 looking for aliens, who haunted her in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), or survivors. Ripley joins heavily-armed space commandos in the hunt for the frightening extraterrestrials. In the end she is left alone to face them, right in the centre of a slimy alien egg nest. Somewhat unbelievable, but I liked the way Ripley kicks alien ass with a weaponised blowtorch and lives to see another day. While the music and special effects are good, the film didn’t hold up as well as it did the first time. Maybe, I knew what was coming. Still, I like Weaver and Michael Biehn.

Hannibal, 2001 - Ridley Scott

Julianne Moore replaces the brilliant Jodie Foster as FBI agent Clarice Starling in this sequel to Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Mason Verger (Gary Oldman, but you wouldn’t believe it), a horribly disfigured victim of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), wants revenge against the serial killer and uses Starling to get to him. While Hannibal doesn’t spare anyone, he has a very soft corner for Starling—he almost treats her like a daughter. Hopkins wasn't as convincing or chillingly intimidating as he was in TSOTL. It seemed as if he was going through the motions. Moore, otherwise a fine actress, is expressionless. Can someone tell me what Ray Liotta is doing in the film?

Marmaduke, 2010 - Tom Dey

There is trouble wherever the loveable Great Dane, voiced by Owen Wilson (who else?), goes, and that includes accompanying his adopted family to a new neighbourhood where he makes new talking friends. While Marmaduke more or less looks like Brad Anderson’s cartoon, I’d stick to the comic strip for the humour. This isn't funny at all.

Unthinkable, 2010 - Gregor Jordan

This suspense film justifies America’s paranoia after 9/11. CIA consultant Henry Harold ‘H’ Humphries (Samuel L. Jackson) uses every means to break hard-nosed Islamic convert Steven Arthur Younger (Michael Sheen) into revealing where he has hidden three nuclear bombs. FBI agent Helen Brody (Carrie-Anne Moss) must find the bombs before it’s too late. But she has another problem on her hands: reining in the rampaging torturer ‘H’. The film didn’t live up to its trailer which, on hindsight, would have sufficed. I'm going to give crazy Jackson a break.

The Love Punch, 2013 - Joel Hopkins

Now this one’s for the entire family. Divorced but friends, Richard (Pierce Brosnan) and Kate (Emma Thompson) prove they can do comedy as they set out to recover pension funds from the owner of a company who has duped them and several others. Richard and Kate, joined by their neighbours Jerry (Timothy Spall) and his wife, Pen (Celia Imrie), use the man’s girlfriend and a precious diamond he gave her to get back at him. The film is wacky in parts as Richard and Kate knowingly put themselves in risky situations, but it all sits well with the plot of this entertaining romcom.

So, there you are. I’d have reviewed some more films if I remembered their names. Have you seen this mixed bag of movies?


  1. I am not a movie fan at all, but am getting educated by your reviews! Thanks. Interesting reading.

  2. I saw HANNIBAL when it came out but have never wanted to watch it again (I much prefer the TV show) and I liked how ALIENS went such a different route from the first one. I really want to see LOVE PUNCH now, thanks Prashant.

  3. 2 from 5 for me. Alien - I do like Sigourney Weaver who funny enough just rocked up in a long-running comedy-drama - Doc Martin with Martin Clunes. Hannibal is the other one, but I can't remember too much about it to be truthful. That said I don't mind Owen Wilson in most things.
    I'd be interested in the last two if they crossed my path, I'm not compelled to seek them out, even though I like Brosnan and Thompson.
    Marmaduke - you would have to strap me to a chair and tape my eyelids open before I'd watch it.

    1. Oops - my Owen Wilson comment has attached itself to Hannibal and not Marmaduke! Sorry...

  4. Aliens is one of my favorites. I didn't like Hannibal nearly as much as Silence of the Lambs. Neither the book or the movie. The others I haven't seen.

  5. Yes to the first two, no to the rest. Don't think LOVE PUNCH got a wide distribution or I might have seen it.

  6. Haven't seen any of these, Prashant. I'm not big on horror if that's what you'd call HANNIBAL and/or ALIENS, never saw the first ones so I'd hardly see the seconds. I'm not a fan of Samuel Jackson so that's that. Though I do like Emma Thompson and I might be tempted to see the fifth movie on your list.

    Isn't it awful when they take a cartoon (like MARMADUKE) and ruin it by taking it into another medium. I haven't seen this, but I did try to watch TINTIN and couldn't even get halfway through it.

    I admire how you like to watch a mix of movies, Prashant. Not many people do.

  7. Prashant: 0 for 5 for me and I doubt I will watch any of them.

  8. Thanks, Prashant, for sharing your takes on these films. I respect that you watch such a diversity of films. I also really appreciate your candor about them.

  9. All new to me - there's some interesting ones there.

  10. My husband and son are fans of the Alien series of movies, so I have watched most of them. The first one, Alien, I saw in the movie theater with my husband ... before we got married. We visited Hollywood Boulevard with a group of friends and saw it at a theater there. Can't remember much about Aliens but I am sure it a bit scary and thrilling for me.

  11. Haven't seen any of these and don;t plan to. Thanks, Prashant.