Posts Tagged ‘80’s’

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50 Movies in 100 Days: The Experts

February 17, 2013

The Experts

Time to party like the 80’s, this is a hilariously absurd movie.  John Travolta with a mullet makes this movie, and the completely absurd plot makes everything work.  A Soviet town which looks like something from middle of the USA in the 1940’s is being used to train KGB agents for the infiltration of America.  Of course, it is set in the 1980’s, so the Russians are a bit backwards, which is where John Travolta and Arye Gross come in.

Anyways, more on the plot again now.  It is completely absurd like I said. A Russian officer goes to New York City to try and find something to bring the Russian training into the current time frame.  He ends up recruiting two young “hip” seeming former club owners, Travis and Wendell for a club that he says in the small town USA, Nebraska in particular.  They think the town is off and lame, so when they open up a new style club, it ends up flopping, they convince the Russian  officer to get them some stuff from the states,  and they end up creating in the people the idealism of the American freedom, some of the old steadfast KGB agents who decide to blow up Travis and Wendell, they escape, to get captured again when Wendell’s girlfriend turns him in, but by that point in time, the people in the town want to have freedom, so they escape again and  take almost the whole time with them to the USA and New York City, they realize that it feels wrong, so they take them to a small town in Nebraska to settle them there.

The acting is pretty hilarious.  John Travolta seems stoned throughout much of the performance, which is okay because it isn’t meant to be a serious film.  Arye Gross is maybe even more over the top.  His character goes through massive mood swings.  And they manage to change the whole town to their side in seemingly the matter of months, but, hey, it is a secret fake US town in Russia, so it is allowed to be hilarious.  Kelly Preston shows up as a KGB Agent who is sent by the committed Russian officer to break the boys and seduce Travis, but then she falls for Travis, and her performance/accent is as hilarious as almost everyone else in the film.

The film itself  actually has some solid look to it, the Russian town actually looks like it was a step back in time.  So Dave Thomas did a pretty good job with the look and feel of things, getting the actions of the people right.  And it was a great excuse for them to throw in almost every house song from the 80’s into a single film.  The sound track isn’t good, 80’s house music, isn’t all that great, but it is pretty hilarious, and it works wonderfully with the film.

This is one of those 80’s films that is so bad that it is great.  It is hilarious, intentionally, and just hits on every level of 80’s-ness.  If you aren’t up for a film that is very cheesy and absurd, then this isn’t for you, but if you want something to look back at (and reflect back upon if you were born in the 80’s or love the 80’s) and feel “nostalgic” about, this is a great film for that, extremely over the top, but very fun.

Critical Grade: D

Entertainment Grade: B+

Overall Grade: C-

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50 Movies in 100 Days: Dead Heat

February 13, 2013

Dead Heat

The best way that I can describe this movie would be to call it the poor prequel to Big Trouble in Little China.  This is a completely absurd buddy cop sort of film.  It is an 80’s film, and it is completely over the top.  There is very little that makes complete sense in this film, and it is totally okay.  This movie is cheese.

Two cops are investigating a string of dangerous daylight crimes, but the criminals seem to be super human.  They find a drug in their blood stream and track down a pharmacy that has a large order of it come in.  There they stumble across a machine that re-animates the dead.  One of the cops dies and they find out why the criminals are never repeats, the machine doesn’t keep the cells stable for that long, so they have 12 hours to solve the crime and take down the ring.  After that they run through a series of undead bad guys and things go from bad to worse as they start to unravel the mystery with everything being completely absurd.

The acting is over the top absurd 80’s like you’d expect.  The film stars Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo, to call them good actors would definitely be an overstatement, but the film isn’t meant to be anything more special.  The rest of the cast has the quintessential 80’s feel.  It works because the film is really cheesy and the lines are cheesy and the action is cheesy, so who cares if the acting is cheesy.

The best way to describe how this film looks and feels is the 80’s.  The special effects are cheesy, there is a scene where a bunch of dead animals come back to life, and they are completely absurd and over the top.  This is what really reminded me of Big Trouble in Little China, the stuff that completely over the top and makes no sense, but for the 80’s, the practical  effects just aren’t there, but they are fun to look back on and laugh at.

This is a film that if you enjoy some 80’s absurdity, you’ll love.  It takes itself a bit seriously, but it is so goofy and you can ignore the fact that it might have been semi-serious when it was made.  The cheese flows and it is fun mindless entertainment.

Entertainment Grade: B

Critical Grade: Doubtful there is one, D

Overall Grade: B-

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50 Movies in 100 Day: The Philadelphia Experiment

January 23, 2013

The Philadelphia Experiment

Randomly decided via Netflix what film to watch, the idea of time travel and a military experiments gone wrong seemed like an entertaining idea.  But it ended up just being so so, it was like so many other political/military films, everything goes wrong, and instead of point to the people who might know, people go in the opposite direction and are very illogical.

The story starts around World War II when the government decides to test out a radar invisibility on a ship.  It ends up opening a time vortex, the other end opens up in 1984when they try another similar experiment.  Two shipmates close to the explosion end up being propelled forward in time.  Things aren’t as they remembered them.  One of them starts having episodes where the time power starts to cause him issues, he eventually gets pulled back to the Philadelphia.  His crew mate goes and tries to find his family and figure out what is going on.  Eventually he does the logical thing and tracks down the scientist who had done the experiment in the first place and finds that he has to travel back in time and turn off the machine on their end to save everything.  He does that and comes back to 1084 so he can spend time with the girl he fell for in the few days that he was there (and whom he had kidnapped).

This is an old film, well, 1984 so as old as I am, and it is just too illogical at so many points.  They don’t go to the military, they barely even try and contact them.  And after it goes wrong one time, they kidnap someone because clearly that will make everything better.  And when the military does track them down (well the one down, his friend had already gone back in time) he runs away from them again and tries to find his family.  I would in some ways compare it to Prometheus from this past year, something that wasn’t bad in theory, but ended up having too many major plot holes in it that they couldn’t get even close to covering up.  People doing the dumbest thing rather than the smartest, and while I realize that might be more accurate for some people, every single activity and action as the dumbest, not likely.

The acting in the film I would call typical 80’s horror acting, it isn’t all that great, probably has stronger cheese to it than anything.  None of the performances stick out and the cast doesn’t have any major actors of note.  It just ends up being a lot of forgettable performance.  Same with the direction, nothing sticks out all that memorably, it is pretty similar to special effects to Wrath of Kahn, the stuff that is a basis for a lot of what we see now, any sort of vortex, time portal anything like that, all has basis from this sort of old film styling because we know what it is without thinking about it anymore.

This is a film that I would recommend skipping, it definitely was an intriguing idea for a film, but like I said it pulled a few too many Prometheus-esque moments.  It has some hockey entertainment value but that is about it.  The best way to put it is that I enjoyed it for having seen it but beyond that, it isn’t something that an average movie viewer is going to enjoy all that much.

Critical Grade: D

Entertainment Grade: C-

Overall Grade: D+