Category: Movies

“Interceptor” (2022) / Z-View

Interceptor (2022)

Director:  Matthew Reilly

Screenplay:   Matthew Reilly, Stuart Beattie

Starring:  Elsa Pataky, Luke Bracey, Aaron Glenane, Mayen Mehta and Chris Hemsworth.

Tagline:  The World’s last defense.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers

Captain J.J. Collins (Pataky) has just been reassigned to one of two remote US interceptor launch locations.  These interceptor sites protect the US from nuclear strikes by taking out the nukes before they get close enough to do damage.  Collins’ reassignment feels like a demotion for bringing charges against a respected General.

As Collins is getting acclimated, word comes in that the other US interceptor site has been taken down by terrorists.  As Collins and crew process this information, terrorists attempt to breach their control center.  The commanding officer and all of the soldiers outside of the control center are killed.  The terrorists plan to take out this last interceptor site and then launch sixteen stolen nukes at cities across the US.  They are led by the brilliant and egotistical, Alexander Kessel (Bracey) who is sending a video feed to the world.  The only thing standing between the fall of the United States is Captain J.J.  Collins and two soldiers.  They’re outnumbered, outgunned, but not out of the fight!

I absolutely loved Interceptor.  If you’re a fan of 80s action movies, then this should be your jam.

Matthew Reilly, is an internationally best-selling author who writes non-stop action novels.  He co-wrote and directed Interceptor.  I had no idea Reilly was branching out.  Interceptor was his first time directing, but you’d never know it.  I hope to see him helming future films.

Stuart Beattie, who co-wrote Interceptor, is probably best known as the screenwriter for Collateral starring Tom Cruise and 30 Days of NightInterceptor fits nicely in his resume.

Elsa Pataky is believable as the smart, tough as nails, Captain J.J. Collins.  I could see her starring in a sequel.  Pataky’s husband, Chris Hemsworth, has a small, uncredited role.  He’s there for some comic relief and I enjoyed his part.

Luke Bracey excels as the arrogant Alexander Kessel.  He makes an excellent villain.  He’s cocky, overconfident and sure of his charm.  It was cool seeing him trying to hold it together as his plan was failing.

Aaron Glenane plays a soldier you just want to smack.  He’s got a stupid look to match his intellect.  Hats off to Glenane for making the most of his character.

Interceptor isn’t going to win any Academy Awards.  It’s not a film that will change your life, but if you’re looking for an hour and a half of fun action, then give Interceptor a try.  I loved it and Interceptor earns 5 of 5 stars.

RIP: Philip Baker Hall

Philip Baker Hall died last night peacefully in his sleep surrounded by loved ones.  Mr. Hall was 90.

While you may not recognize Philip Baker Hall’s name, you surely recognize his face if you’re a movie or tv fan.  Mr. Hall was a character actor in the truest sense of the word.  With 185 roles on his resume, Mr. Hall alternated between feature films and television.

Some of the television shows featuring Mr. Hall include: Emergency!, Good Times, Man from Atlantis, MASH, The Waltons, Quincy, Cagney & Lacey, TJ Hooker, Benson, Miami Vice, Family Ties, Flacon Crest, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Seinfeld, Cheers, Chicago Hope, Third Rock from the Sun, Monk, Boston Legal, The West Wing and Modern Family.

Mr. Hall also appeared in his share of feature films, including: Midnight Run, Say Anything, Ghostbusters II, An Innocent Man, Kiss of Death, Hard Eight, The Rock, Air Force One, Boogie Nights, The Truman Show, Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2, The Sum of All Fears, Rush Hour 3, Zodiac and Argo.

Philip Baker Hall was an actor that you’d see and think, “It’s THAT guy!”  I loved him as Lt. Joe Bookman in the two episodes of Seinfeld that he did.  He was also excellent as the star of Hard Eight, where he played a tough professional gambler.  Whenever Philip Baker Hall was in the credits, you knew the show or movie would be better for it.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Philip Baker Hall’s family, friends and fans.

“The Wizard of Oz” (1925) / Z-View

The Wizard of Oz (1925)

Director: Larry Semon

Screenplay:  Larry Semon, L. Frank Baum Jr. based on The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Starring:  Larry Semon, Dorothy Dwan, Frank Alexander, Charles Murray, Josef Swickerd, Oliver Hardy, Mary Carr and Spencer Bell.

Tagline: The Thrilling Comedy Cyclone! The Wonderful Land of Oz! The Den of Man Eating Lions! The Famous Scarecrow and Tin Man! The Startling Airplane Rescue! The 100 Foot Leap for Life! All combined in the greatest screen novelty ever made.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

The movie begins with a toymaker reading The Wizard of Oz to his granddaughter…

Dorothy (Dwan) is a just-turned 18 year old who was left on Auntie Em’s (Carr) doorstep as a baby.  In reality, Dorothy is the rightful heir to the throne in the land of Oz.  When a tornado deposits Dorothy, and three farmhands in Oz, the evil Prime Minister Kruel (Swickerd) realizes that the true ruler has returned.

Kruel sends his soldiers to do away with Dorothy and crew.  To escape, one of the farmhands disguises himself as a scarecrow, another a tin woodsman and later the third ends up in a lion suit.  Will Dorothy survive and be crowned queen?  Will Prime Minister Kruel and Lady Vishuss be deposed?  (Psst!  It’s a kid’s book, so what do you think?)

Larry Semon was a popular comedian of the day.  Semon wrote, produced and starred in this version of The Wizard of Oz.  The Scarecrow gets most film time and he’s played by, you guessed it, Larry Semon.  Semon had a love for big budgets and tons sight gags. The Wizard of Oz has both.  We get a lot of visual gags, and the ending even features Semon climbing and swinging between towers while being shot at with a canon, a leap to a rope ladder from a passing plane and more.

A young pre-Laurel & Hardy, Oliver Hardy appears in the film playing the farmhand who becomes the Tin Man.  Spencer Bell (an African-American actor) is billed a G. Howe Black and appears in a few scenes that even at that time were thought as demeaning as his billing.

The Wizard of Oz (1925) earns a 3 of 5 star rating.

“The Wind and the Lion” (1975) / Z-View

The Wind and the Lion (1975)

Director:  John Milius

Screenplay:   John Milius

Starring:  Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, Brian Keith, John Huston, Geoffrey Lewis and Steve Kanaly.

Tagline: Between the wind and the lion is the woman. For her, half the world may go to war.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers

The year is 1904.  In Morroco, Germany, France and Britain are trying to gain influence with the Sultan Abdelaziz.  Mulai Ahmed el Raisuli (Connery) wants his country free of the influence of other countries and the corrupt Sultan.  In an effort to create an international incident and inspire an uprising against the Sultan, Raisuli kidnaps a visiting American citizen, Eden Pedecaris (Bergin) and her two young children.

Theodore Roosevelt (Keith) is running for re-election and plans to use the rescue of Eden and her children to help his campaign.  Despite the fears that sending in the marines will cause, Roosevelt does just that.  Eden and her children lives hang in the balance as German soldiers, US marines, Moroccans and Raisuli’s followers prepare for war.

John Milius has created a rousing story based on true incidents but fictionalized for the screen.  Sean Connery is charismatic as Raisuli,  Candice Bergin plays a smart woman and she’s never looked prettier.  Brian Keith was born to play Teddy Roosevelt.  If there are any nits to pick with The Wind and the Lion they take a back seat to Milius’ power as a director and storyteller.  The Wind and the Lion rates 4 of 5 stars.

“RRR” (2022) / Z-View

RRR (2022)

Director:  S.S. Rajamouli

Screenplay:   S. S. Rajamouli from a story by Vijayendra Prasad

Starring:  Ram Charan, N.T. Rama Rao Jr., Alia Bhatt, Olivia Morris, Ray Stevenson and Alison Doody.

Tagline: None

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

RRR is a film that defies description.  If someone had described it to me prior to me seeing it, I would have said, “Pass” and missed out on a movie experience that I look forward to repeating.  So, I’ll do my best to review RRR, but, no matter what you think after my review, you should give it a look.

Set in 1920, India is under British rule.  The British Governor, Scott Buxton (Stevenson) thinks the people he governs are heathens.  Buxton’s wife, Catherine (Doody) is a sadistic wretch.  While visiting a village, Catherine tells her husband she wants to take one of the children home with her.  Governor Buxton orders his soldiers to get the child. Despite the pleas of the mother and villagers, they leave with the little girl.

Bheem (Rao, Jr.), a warrior who lives in the forest vows to bring her back.  Bheem will find himself up against the might of the British army and Ram (Charan) an Indian soldier fighting for the British!

Before that happens we will get back story of both warriors.  We see how Bheem and Ram meet while saving a boy from a raging fire.  Bheem and Ram become best friends and then mortal enemies, only to learn that both possess a secret that will change everything!

RRR is at times an action movie, a drama, a love story, a war movie and a musical.  RRR seamlessly changes genres and keeps the story flowing.  The action is over the top crazy (in a great way)!  The director pulls out all the stops — we get slow-motion entrances, heroes doing the impossible (but we believe it while watching — at least most of the time).  When the action becomes too outrageous, we watch with a smile.

The love story (between Bheem and an English woman) is sweet and innocent. It provides opportunities for humor, an insight to how most of the British view the population.  It also leads to one of my many favorite scenes in RRR (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) — a dance off.  Yep.  A dance off.  But it works!

The heroes are heroic and the villains are despicable. RRR is a movie that wears its heart on its sleeve.  It shamelessly has fun as it presents the story of a legend.  I absolutely loved RRR and it earns my highest rating 5 of 5 stars.

“The Old Guard” (2020) / Z-View

The Old Guard (2020)

Director:  Gina Prince-Bythewood

Screenplay:   Greg Rucka based on The Old Guard comic series by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez

Starring:  Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Harry Melling.

Tagline: Forever is Harder Than It Looks

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Andy (Theron) leads a team of centuries-old near-immortals who take on missions to improve the world.  When Steven Merrick (Melling), a drug company executive learns of the near-immortals, he puts together a group of mercenaries to capture Andy’s team.  Merrick plans to experiment on the near-immortals to discover their secrets to longevity.

I was expecting more from The Old Guard.  I’m a long time fan of Greg Rucka’s writing (both novels and comics).  For some reason the story/dialogue just didn’t resonate with me.  The action scenes were good.  There’s one horrifying thing that happens to one of the near-immortals that will stay with you.  Other than that The Old Guard played out like a good, but not great action flick.  The Old Guard rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Nope” – The Final Trailer is Here!

The final trailer for NOPE is here.

“What’s a bad miracle?”

Oscar® winner Jordan Peele disrupted and redefined modern horror with Get Out and then Us. Now, he reimagines the summer movie with a new pop nightmare: the expansive horror epic, Nope.

The film reunites Peele with Oscar® winner Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Judas and the Black Messiah), who is joined by Keke Palmer (Hustlers, Alice) and Oscar® nominee Steven Yeun (Minari, Okja) as residents in a lonely gulch of inland California who bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.

Nope, which co-stars Michael Wincott (Hitchcock, Westworld) and Brandon Perea (The OA, American Insurrection), is written and directed by Jordan Peele and is produced by Ian Cooper (Us, Candyman) and Jordan Peele for Monkeypaw Productions. The film will be released by Universal Pictures worldwide.

“The Unforgivable” (2021) / Z-View

The Unforgivable (2021)

Director:  Nora Fingscheidt

Screenplay:   Peter Craig, Hillary Seitz, Courtenay Miles based on Unforgiven, a British limited series by Sally Wainwright

Starring:  Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal, Aisling Franciosi, Richard Thomas, Tom Guiry, Emma Nelson and Will Pullen.

Tagline: No one walks free of their past.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Ruth Slater (Bullock) has just been released from prison after serving twenty years for the murder of a sheriff. She has two goals.  The first is to make sure that her younger sister, Katie (Franciosi) is doing alright and the second is to get on with her life.  Neither goal is going to be easy.

After Ruth’s imprisonment, Katie was adopted.  Katie has splotchy memories of a traumatic incident, but no idea of her life before adoption.  Katie’s adoptive parents do not want Ruth to have any contact with Katie.

When Keith (Guiry), one of the sons of the murdered sheriff, sees that Ruth Slater has been released from prison he is enraged.  He blames Ruth for all of the crappy things in his life that began with the murder of his dad.  Keith plans to kill Ruth.

Ruth’s refusal to back down from meeting with Katie, and Keith’s plans to kill Ruth are going to play out in unpredictable ways.

I was impressed with how good The Unforgivable is since it could have easily gone the Lifetime Movie route.  The Unforgivable is a dark story that is well written, well directed featuring an excellent cast.  Kudos to Sandra Bullock for starring in a movie where she doesn’t look like a movie star and is believable as an ex-con.

Viola Davis has a small, but pivotal role.  Vincent D’Onofrio plays an attorney married to Davis’ character.  I loved the interactions between these two amazing actors.

Jon Bernthal is one of my favorite actors.  He has a small role as a potential love interest for Ruth.  Their scene in the diner is heartbreaking… especially later when we learn more.

Richard Thomas is excellent as Katie’s adoptive dad.  It’s good to see Thomas in more roles.

I figured out The Unforgivable early on, and had most of it right.  The ending did surprise me though.  I really liked The Unforgivable so of course it rates 4 of 5 stars.