Film Review: The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)

Release Date: August 3rd, 1984
Directed by: Stewart Raffill
Written by: Wallace C. Bennett, William Gray, Don Jakoby, Michael Janover
Based on: The Philadelphia Experiment: Project Invisibility by Charles Berlitz, William L. Moore
Music by: Kenneth Wannberg
Cast: Michael Paré, Nancy Allen, Eric Christmas, Bobby Di Cicco, Stephen Tobolowsky, Michael Currie

New Pictures, Cinema Group Ventures, New World Pictures, 102 Minutes

Review:

“You know, I got it all figured out… Navy owes me 40 years back pay.” – David Herdeg

In my mind, I thought that I had seen this movie once or twice, as a kid. I was wrong. I have never seen this until now and my memory played tricks on me by conflating images of other movies that may not even be remotely accurate. Hey, I’ve done some drugs at different points in my life.

Anyway, I thought that this was a really weird movie, even for ’80s standards and the story was pretty wonky. Still, I did enjoy it and I really liked the bond that developed between the leads: Michael Paré and Nancy Allen.

The story is about these two Navy seamen that were aboard a ship during a strange experiment where the Navy were trying to make the vessel invisible to give them a tactical advantage during World War II. This experiment made the ship vanish but with that, the two seamen were transported through time to 1984. The time travel also gave them some weird sci-fi side effects and one of the men keeps having seizures and electrical phenomenon happening to his body until he eventually explodes into pure energy and disappears. The rest of the film is a race against time, as Michael Paré’s character is trying to solve his dilemma before the same fate happens to him.

This is also an “on the run”/road trip movie similar to Starman and other films where a protagonist is trying to outrun and outwit authorities in an effort to reach their goal.

I liked Paré a lot in this and I always thought that he was an underutilized actor that should’ve reached bigger heights in the ’80s. I also liked Nancy Allen too but she’s been a favorite of mine ever since I saw the original RoboCop, as a wee li’l lad.

The film is entertaining and it was a cool picture in spite of its hokiness and strange premise. It is slow in a few parts and the climax is a bit weird but it’s still a worthwhile experience. Granted, I don’t know if it’s something I’ll ever go out of my way to watch again.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other early ’80s sci-fi and “on the run” movies.

Documentary Review: Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys (2014)

Release Date: January 14th, 2014
Directed by: Brian Stillman
Written by: Brian Stillman
Music by: Chris Ianuzzi
Cast: various

X-Ray Films, 70 Minutes

Review:

Plastic Galaxy is a documentary about the people who have a bit of an obsession with collecting Star Wars toys. It mainly focuses on the original line of toys from the original trilogy of movies and it also goes into their history and development.

I was initially excited to check this out back when it was a new film. However, it’s kind of light, if I’m being honest and suffers from some clunky editing, too much reliance on talking head interviews and, at times, being a bit overly dramatic.

That being said, I think that the Star Wars episode of Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us is a much better watch and a more professional production.

Still, this was neat to revisit and it’s engaging enough. But the 70 minute running time seems scant and I feel like this really needed to delve into the history more and provide more backstory.

All in all, this is okay but it could’ve been a lot better than what it was.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other documentaries on toys, video games, table top gaming, collecting and specific niche fandoms.

Film Review: Grandma’s Boy (2006)

Also known as: Nana’s Boy (working title)
Release Date: January 6th, 2006
Directed by: Nicholaus Goossen
Written by: Barry Wernick, Allen Covert, Nick Swardson
Music by: Waddy Wachtel
Cast: Linda Cardellini, Allen Covert, Peter Dante, Shirley Jones, Shirley Knight, Joel David Moore, Kevin Nealon, Doris Roberts, Nick Swardson, Jonah Hill, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Kevin Nash

Happy Madison Productions, Level 1 Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, 94 Minutes

Review:

“This chick’s pussy smelled like the great depression.” – Jeff

Grandma’s Boy is a movie I slept on when it came out. I’m not a massive Adam Sandler fan and seeing a movie that was essentially an Adam Sandler movie without Adam Sandler wasn’t what I considered a top priority. However, several friends would reference it all the time, so I gave in and checked it out after a few years.

Since then, it’s become one of my favorite comedy movies of its era. It’s just solid, mindless escapism, which is something I love. Add in the fact that it’s fucking hilarious and it’s become one of those sweet guilty pleasures that I tend to watch once or twice per year.

It stars Allen Covert, who has been in just about all of Adam Sandler’s comedies. The film was co-written by him, Barry Wernick and Nick Swardson, a comedic actor that I like in just about everything… yes, even Bucky Larson. You also get another Sandler “best bud” with Peter Dante.

Beyond those guys, you’ve got Linda Cardellini, Joel David Moore, Kevin Nealon, David Spade, Jonah Hill, Shirley Jones, Shirley Knight, Rob Schneider and former professional wrestler Kevin Nash. Needless to say, this low budget movie that nearly everyone slept on in the theater, has a stacked cast.

The story is about some stoners that develop and test video games. There’s the underachieving loser who doesn’t realize his own potential, the lovable sidekick, lesser sidekicks, the douchebag work rival and the hot chick that’s out of everyone’s league but she’s cool, so whatever.

However, there’s also the extra added element of the loser’s grandma and her two roommates, who the loser has to live with while dealing with his hectic work life and douchebag work rival.

It’s a fairly simple story and the movie sort of just works because you like the characters, their camaraderie and their shenanigans.

This is just a lighthearted, stoner flick with lots of gags and jokes that would set off Twitter weirdos in the current year “civilization”. So if you don’t like it, you’re probably some fluorescent-haired land whale, feminist, “fuck the white patriarchy”, hater of fun, regardless of what gender you see yourself as.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other comedy films starring Adam Sandler’s best buds, which are mostly films with Adam Sandler.

Book Review: ‘The Witcher: Baptism of Fire’ by Andrzej Sapkowski

As I’m working my way through The Witcher books, this is my favorite installment of the regular “saga” novels, thus far. It’s also the third and middle chapter of the five.

I guess it’s actually my favorite, counting the two short story compilations that I started with and honestly, the first one of those is hard to top.

In this volume, we pick up where things left off with the previous book. The trio of Geralt, Yennefer and Ciri are split up and in different places, dealing with their own issues and adventures.

Ciri’s part of the story deals with her taking on an alias and running with a gang called “The Rats”.

Yennefer deals with the politics and issues following the fall of the Brotherhood of Sorcerers.

Geralt, on the other hand, really gets the bulk of the time in this novel but then he should, as he’s the title character of the series.

In this, Geralt wants to search for Ciri. He sets off to find her with his bestie Dandelion and a newcomer, Milva, who initially has a rocky relationship with Geralt. They also meet up with Zoltan and his dwarves and along the way they are shadowed by Cahir, who was the “black rider” that Ciri was having nightmares about in the previous book. Eventually, Cahir joins the group, as does Regis, a vampire, who the group doesn’t trust but he comes with valuable medical skills.

The big climax of the novel sees the Battle of the Bridge on the Yaruga. This is where Geralt’s chosen name of “Geralt of Rivia” actually becomes an official title, after his heroism and skill helps win the day.

Additionally, we also learn a big secret about Ciri’s lineage, which I won’t spoil.

This book had superb action, a great battle, shaky alliances, new friendships and loyalties forged and it was just one hell of a fun, badass adventure. Honestly, this was just great escapism and an enthralling epic tale.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Witcher books, comics and television shows.

Film Review: The Fury (1978)

Release Date: March 10th, 1978
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Written by: John Farris
Based on: The Fury by John Farris
Music by: John Williams
Cast: Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress, Charles Durning, Amy Irving, Andrew Stevens, Fiona Lewis, William Finley, Dennis Franz, Gordon Jump, Daryl Hannah

Frank Yablans Presentations, Twentieth Century Fox, 118 Minutes

Review:

“…and what a culture can’t assimilate, it destroys.” – Dr. Jim McKeever

The Fury is a movie that I haven’t seen in a really, really long time. I’m talking, late night on cable when cable was still cool… that’s how long.

Also, I never saw it in its entirety from start-to-finish. I always kind of caught it in the middle and it’d be at times where I had to fight to stay awake in hopes of finishing it.

Having now watched it in its entirety for the first time without fighting sleep, I’ve got to say that it’s damn good and it just solidifies the greatness of Brian De Palma, especially in his early days.

This feels like a natural extension of some of the concepts De Palma worked with in Carrie but it isn’t bogged down by Stephen King-isms and it’s a hell of a lot cooler and expands on those concepts in a bigger way, as we now see psychic powered youngsters being abducted and turned into psychic super weapons.

The film stars two actors that are absolute fucking legends: Kirk Douglas and John Cassavetes.

Douglas plays the hero character, trying to save his son, who has been abducted and turned into an evil psychic killing machine. All the while, Douglas is trying to save a young girl from the same fate.

Cassavetes, who just does sinister so well, plays the main antagonist who betrays Douglas and tries to have him murdered so that he can abduct his psychic son and brainwash him while honing his skills. Cassavetes mostly succeeds in the opening of the film but doesn’t realize that Douglas survived the orchestrated assassination attempt.

The real highlight of the film for me was the big finale and the moments that led up to it, which saw the psychic son unleash his powers in twisted and fucked up ways. The special effects used here were simple, practical and incredibly effective.

There were a lot of psychic power horror flicks in the ’70s and ’80s but The Fury is certainly one of the best of the lot. If this type of stuff is your bag, you definitely should give it a watch.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other ’70s and ’80s psychic horror movies, as well as Brian De Palma’s other horror and thriller films.

TV Review: Jupiter’s Legacy (2021)

Original Run: May 7th, 2021
Created by: Steven S. DeKnight
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Jupiter’s Legacy by Mark Millar, Frank Quitely
Music by: Stephanie Economou
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Ben Daniels, Leslie Bibb, Andrew Horton, Elena Kampouris, Mike Wade, Matt Lanter, Tyler Mane, Kurtwood Smith

Di Bonaventura Productions, DeKnight Productions, Millarworld Productions, Netflix, 8 Episodes, 35-56 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Jupiter’s Legacy was made like it was expected to be a massive hit, right out of the gate. I also think that Netflix, who had acquired a lot of comic book legend Mark Millar’s properties, thought that they could capitalize off of Amazon’s The Boys and make something that could either exist on its level of commercial and critical success or possibly even surpass it.

Sadly, this show was cancelled almost immediately after it debuted due to a lukewarm response, its astronomical production cost and what one would have to assume was complications due to COVID, which has been the death knell of a lot of promising Hollywood productions.

All that being said, it’s kind of sad seeing this television show not having the time to evolve into something. It’s only eight episodes and the first season serves as more of a prologue to a larger, more epic story.

Initially, I wasn’t into the show and I had to push through the first few episodes. But as I progressed through them, things started to click and the show found its footing. By the end, I wanted to see more and to see how this was going to play out. However, I guess none of us will ever know. Well, I could pick up the comics and give them a shot and I might.

At first, I wasn’t too keen on the costumes and the general look of the show but as it rolls on, it starts to work and this does take on its own identity, even if it may appear to be derivative and just another superhero show in a sea of superhero shows and movies.

For the most part, I liked the cast. I especially thought that Josh Duhamel was damn good as the patriarch of his superhero family. I also liked Leslie Bibb and it was cool seeing her get to shine and ply her trade as one of the top characters in a serious drama, even if it is about pulp heroes and concepts.

I wish there would have been a bigger sample size of episodes to critique and analyze but I guess we’ve got what we’ve got.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other recent comic book television adaptations.

Film Review: Never Take Candy from A Stranger (1960)

Also known as: Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (UK)
Release Date: March 4th, 1960 (London premiere)
Directed by: Cyril Frankel
Written by: John Hunter
Based on: The Pony Trap (play) by Roger Garis
Music by: Elisabeth Lutyens
Cast: Patrick Allen, Gwen Watford, Felix Aylmer, Janina Faye, Michael Gwynn

Hammer Films, 81 Minutes

Review:

“This isn’t an ordinary crime like burglary or a holdup.” – Martha

Similar to a lot of the other Hammer films I’ve been watching and reviewing lately, courtesy of a sweet, beefy box set I bought, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie.

I was pretty shocked and impressed with this, however. So much so, I’m surprised that I never knew about this picture and that it’s seemingly been lost to time.

The film is about a small town with a pedophile that is the old, senile patriarch of the town’s richest family. With that, no one really wants to do anything about this predator, as they don’t want to draw the ire of the family, who have lots of money and connections and essentially own everyone and everything in the region.

This is pretty heavy, serious subject matter for a movie that was made in 1959 but I thought that the material was well handled and even if the film feels like it’s leaning into exploitation, it classily reels itself in just enough to be respectable.

Additionally, this is well crafted, well shot, well acted and the picture’s climax of the elderly pedo chasing two young girls through the woods had similar, creepy vibes to some of the best moments from the exceptional film, The Night of the Hunter. In fact, this movie kept making me think of that classic, Robert Mitchum starring film.

I have to say that the main girl in the movie acted great and handled so many tough scenes like a seasoned pro. Gwen Watford, who played the girl’s mother was also really exceptional in this.

Also, Hammer regular Michael Gwynn had a role in this as the young victim’s lawyer. He was also solid and convincing and really shined in the courtroom scenes.

This is a dark, tragic film that most people will find upsetting. However, it’s also a great piece of work and one of the best things that Hammer Films has ever made outside of their more famous monster movies.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: other Hammer horror films that are more grounded in reality.