Film Review: Crocodile Dundee II (1988)

Release Date: May 20th, 1988 (Australia)
Directed by: John Cornell
Written by: Paul Hogan, Brett Hogan
Music by: Peter Best
Cast: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, John Meillon, Hechter Ubarry, Juan Fernandez, Charles S. Dutton, Kenneth Welsh, Stephen Root, Steve Rackman, Gerry Skilton, Susie Essman, Colin Quinn, Luis Guzman, Tatyana Ali

Rimfire Films, Paramount Pictures, 108 Minutes

Review:

“What did you do last night?” – Mick Dundee, “We didn’t do nothing. We was here all night.” – Punk, “That’s what you call cool, is it? Well, tomorrow, if someone asks you the same question, you can say: “We didn’t do nothing.” Or you can say: “We went out to Long Island to help this lunatic storm a fortress!” At the very least you can come watch me get my head blown off.” – Mick Dundee

The consensus from critics and from filmgoers is that Crocodile Dundee II is a weak attempt at a sequel that was just made to cash in on its far superior predecessor. Well, the consensus is wrong, as this is the superior film for many reasons, all of which I’ll outline here.

To start, this film knows exactly what it is where the first one couldn’t decide if it was a romantic comedy, an action movie or just a series of comedic bits about a fish out of water.

Crocodile Dundee II is an action comedy. Sure, it taps into the fish out of water stuff but this has a much more cohesive story and it stays on its rails much better. It also goes back into the romance plot but it’s sort of just there to accent the proceedings and to give the stakes depth and meaning, as the love interest is abducted by the villains.

Secondly, Paul Hogan is much more comfortable in the role of Mick Dundee. Not that he wasn’t great in the first movie but in this one, everything comes off as much more natural and it’s as if he really is the character. In fact, when I was a kid, I just kind of assumed this is who he really was and he was just some dude from the Outback that was charismatic enough to get a big break in movies.

Similar to that, Linda Kozlowski is also better in this picture. She seems like she’s come a long way since the first movie, which came out just two years before this one. Her chemistry with Hogan is better and more natural and she’s grown a lot as a character just in being with him and learning from him. She’s kind of a badass in this chapter of the series and where Dundee doesn’t really take the danger seriously, she’s the voice of reason that understands the trouble that they’re in and the monsters that they’re dealing with. All that being said, she has this trait that makes Mick Dundee stronger and more driven and their dynamic in this movie is just really cool to see and far exceeds the awkwardness of their first film together.

This movie is also more action heavy. I love the raid on the drug kingpin’s mansion fortress in the New York City portion of the movie. However, the third and final act that takes place in Australia is really what makes this movie so damn enjoyable. Seeing Dundee use his home field advantage against the drug cartel that is hunting him is clever, fun and showcases all the best aspects of this great and iconic hero.

I think that people mostly have a fond viewpoint of this film now but I remember it getting a lot of hate, back in the day. Or maybe the third film was so bad that by comparison it made this one look better to the haters.

Whatever the case, I’ve always considered this movie to be the best in the franchise. It utilizes the characters much better, has a more cohesive story and also represents the spirit of the franchise in a way that the others just don’t seem to.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: the other Crocodile Dundee movies, as well as other films starring Paul Hogan.

Film Review: Black Rain (1989)

Release Date: September 22nd, 1989
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Craig Bolotin, Warren Lewis
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Cast: Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Ken Takakura, Kate Capshaw, Luis Guzman, Stephen Root, Richard Riehle, Vondie Curtis-Hall

Paramount Pictures, Jaffe-Lansing, Pegasus Film Partners, 125 Minutes

Review:

“I usually get kissed before I get fucked.” – Nick Conklin

Ridley Scott has done some great films. While Black Rain isn’t often times in the discussion of Scott’s best works, it is one of his best looking motion pictures.

Being that this is pretty much neo-noir, it shares a lot of the same visual style as Blade Runner. However, instead of seeing a futuristic Los Angeles on the screen, we are given modern day Osaka. Or what was modern day in 1989.

Sure, this doesn’t have Replicants and flying cars but it does show us how late ’80s metropolitan Japan wasn’t too far off from Scott’s vision of the future.

The story follows two cops played by Michael Douglas, in maybe his coolest role, and Andy Garcia. They witness a Yakuza hit in New York City, capture the criminal and then have to escort him to Japan, where he escapes and they then have to work with the Osaka police in an effort to catch him and bring him back in.

What the cops soon find out, once their stay in Japan is extended, is that the Yakuza guy they caught is in a massive gang war. Now these two find themselves in the middle of it all while the local Osaka police are slow to act due to their hands being tied by their strict laws.

This is also like two buddy cop films in one, as Douglas’ Nick Conklin works with his New York partner for the first half and then has to work with his assigned Japanese partner for the remainder of the film. But unlike your typical buddy cop formula, we’ve got two guys from very different cultures, clashing but ultimately finding respect for one another. It’s kind of like what we would get with the Rush Hour movies nine years later and with less comedy and more testosterone.

The thing that I really like about this flick is not only the clash of cultural styles but the mixing of genres. You’ve basically got a neo-noir Yakuza biker movie. It also has a pretty hard edge to it and is unapologetic about its violence and what modern critics would deem “toxic masculinity”.

Black Rain is a cool fucking movie, hands down. While it is sort of a Yakuza movie seen through Western eyes and made for that audience, it really isn’t too dissimilar from the best films that genre has to offer. Ridley Scott doesn’t specifically try to replicate Japanese gangster cinema, so much as he just tries to make a film within his own style that just happens to take place primarily in Osaka. And frankly, it all seems to fit pretty well together.

Unfortunately, Scott had issues filming in Japan due to the budget. He actually had to shoot the big finale back in California. I really would have loved to have seen a sequel but I’m assuming that Nick Conklin only got one outing because of the financial strain of going back to Japan for another movie.

Then again, Scott didn’t really have much interest in sequels to his films until more recently. So maybe we can get Black Rain 2? Assuming Michael Douglas can still go at 75 years-old. But hey, Sylvester Stallone is bringing Marion Cobretti back, so why not?

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Blade Runner, Someone to Watch Over Me, Rising Sun and ’80s neo-noir.

Film Review: We’re The Millers (2013)

Release Date: August 3rd, 2013 (Traverse City Film Festival)
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Written by: Bob Fisher, Steve Faber, Sean Anders, John Morris
Music by: Ludwig Goransson, Theodore Shapiro
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Will Poulter, Ed Helms, Luis Guzman, Thomas Lennon, Ken Marino

New Line Cinema, Newman/Tooley Films, Slap Happy Productions, Heyday Films, Benderspink, Warner Bros., 110 Minutes

Review:

“We are all now officially international drug smugglers. Add it to the resume.” – David Clark

I didn’t have much urge to see this film even though I like a few of the people in it: mostly Sudeikis and Offerman. However, Aniston can be fun and Emma Roberts has been growing on me, even if I can’t stand her show Scream Queens. Ed Helms is awful in every way though but he is only in this sparingly. Plus, I’ve liked Kathryn Hahn since her time on Parks and Recreation.

I’m glad I ended up giving this film a chance though, even though most modern mainstream comedies are lowest common denominator schlock. We’re The Millers was pleasantly surprising. That’s not to say it was great but it had my attention throughout the picture and I laughed at some of the gags. Plus, the cast worked really well together.

In this film, we see Sudeikis’ David rope in stripper Rose (Aniston), runaway criminal Casey (Roberts) and his virginal neighbor Kenny (Will Poulter) into a scheme where they pose as a family on a RV trip to Mexico. On the trip, they are to acquire some drugs and bring them back to the States for Ed Helms’ character. Along the way, they run into trouble at every turn and while they bicker and fight, they find a real family unit with each other.

The picture is pretty straight forward from a stylistic approach. It’s an American comedy made for the general public, so there isn’t much in the way of cinematic artistry. The cinematography is fine but average, the directing isn’t notable for being either good or bad and the acting is exactly what one would expect. But then again, these films aren’t made to even compete for Oscars.

I’ve grown to like Jason Sudeikis a lot in the last few years. This just solidifies my appreciation for him. Offerman was also awesome, as a sexually freaky bad ass DEA agent. This is probably the best comedic role Offerman has had outside of Parks and Recreation.

We’re The Millers is not a movie that anyone will probably fall in love with but it is a better than average comedy film when compared to what’s come out of Hollywood in the last decade. It is not a classic by any means and will probably be forgotten in a few years but then they are supposedly working on a sequel to keep this thing living. It’s probably not a good idea though, as sequels to these sort of pictures tend to fall flat and cheapen the original.

Rating: 6.25/10