Author Topic: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar  (Read 108152 times)

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #480 on: December 01, 2014, 01:08:19 AM »
The first four are very close, so close that I might give you different answers at different times. But right now I would say that From Russia with Love is my favorite. Casino Royale would probably be number five, then.

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #481 on: December 04, 2014, 02:19:28 PM »
TitleThe Island of Dr. Moreau (5-037899-056325)
DirectorDon Taylor
ActorsBurt Lancaster, Michael York, Nigel Davenport, Barbara Carrera, Richard Basehart
Produced1977 in United States
Runtime99 minutes
AudioEnglish PCM 2-Channel Stereo
SubtitlesNone
OverviewCrewman Andrew Braddock (York) survives the wreck of the sailing ship The Lady Vain. After several days at sea in a lifeboat, he reaches the shores of an island governed by the mysterious scientist "Dr. Moreau" (Lancaster).

Though welcomed as an honored guest by Moreau, Braddock finds his contact with the natives increasingly disturbing, for they are not like any men he has ever seen before. Eventually, it becomes apparent that these men are, in fact, the hybrid products of Moreau s experiments upon various species of wild animals. Braddock becomes so shocked and curious that Moreau explains to him that he has invented a serum with a genetic human gene that can transform many wild animals into human beings giving them human characteristics. Braddock finds himself threatened by both the 'manimals' and the sinister Moreau, who he suspects has plans to experiment on him.
My thoughtsAlthough this version of The Island of Dr. Moreau is technically very good, I really prefer the 1932 version (Island of Lost Souls). The makeups in this version look too much like Planet of the Apes, and for good reason. The man who created the (admittedly fantastic) ape makeups – John Chambers – was responsible for the makeups here, too.

This movie starts out too slow, in my opinion, and never gets as creepy as the 1932 movie. And while Burt Lancaster is very good, he cannot match the sadistic creepiness of  Charles Laughton. And Bela Lugosi's Sayer of the Law is unparalleled. Richard Basehart doesn't come anywhere near Bela's performance.

Opinions vary a great deal about Michael York's acting. Personally I'm not overly impressed by it. But on the other hand I'm no great fan of Richard Arlen's performance in the original either. Neither of these films is one where the protagonist shines.

The ending is a bit of a let-down. As originally shot, it was clear that Maria (Barbara Carrera) was turning back into her animal form. But apparently this was deemed to downbeat, so in the finished film we just get a very quick glance of her looking a bit haggard, but we cannot really tell if she is reverting or not.

There are some nice stunts by Tony Epper (of the famous Epper stunt family).

I thought this movie we OK, but nothing more than that.
My rating

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #482 on: December 05, 2014, 02:58:02 PM »
TitleQuantum of Solace (Disc ID: 3E4D-FE55-F7B7-3C23)
DirectorMarc Forster
ActorsDaniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini
Produced2008 in United Kingdom
Runtime106 minutes
AudioEnglish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Audio Descriptive Dolby Digital 5.1
SubtitlesDanish, English, Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish
OverviewOn a nonstop quest for justice that crisscrosses the globe, Bond meets the beautiful but feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who leads him to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a ruthless businessman and major force within the mysterious Quantum organisation. When Bond uncovers a conspiracy to take control of one of the world's most important natural resources, he must navigate minefield of treachery, deception and murder to neutralise Quantum before it's too late!
My thoughtsBond marathon #22

Who?
What?
Why?
Where?
How?
Those are the lingering impressions of Quantum of Solace. It's a directorial and editorial mess. And the screenplay doesn't seem to be much to boast about, although it's not easy to tell given how the director has screwed it up.

The best thing I can say about this film is that it is the shortest of all Bond movies. And still it feels too long. After the excellent Casino Royale this is a terrible letdown. In my opinion easily the worst Bond movie. And that's saying something, given how little regard I have for some of the Moore movies, especially Moonraker.

Fortunately things became better with Skyfall, and hopefully Bond #24, Spectre, won't be anything like this mess.
My rating

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #483 on: December 06, 2014, 04:14:13 PM »
TitleSkyfall (5-039036-058315)
DirectorSam Mendes
ActorsDaniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris
Produced2012 in United States
Runtime143 minutes
AudioEnglish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Audio Descriptive Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Russian DTS 5.1, Other Dolby Digital 5.1, Commentary Dolby Digital 2-Channel Stereo, Commentary Dolby Digital 2-Channel Stereo
SubtitlesChinese, Commentary, Danish, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Icelandic, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Other, Russian, Spanish, Swedish
OverviewDaniel Craig is back as James Bond 007 in SKYFALL, the 23rd installment of the longest-running film franchise in history.

In SKYFALL, Bond's loyalty to M (JUDI DENCH) is tested as her past returns to haunt her. 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

When Bond's latest assignment goes gravely wrong and agents around the world are exposed. MI6 is attacked forcing M to relocate the agency. These events cause her authority and position to be challenged by Mallory (RALPH FIENNES), the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. With MI6 now compromised from both inside and out, M is left with one ally she can trust: Bond. 007 takes to the shadows – aided only by field agent, Eve (NAOMIE HARRIS) – following a trail to the mysterious Silva (JAVIER BARDEM), whose lethal and hidden motives have yet to reveal themselves.
My thoughtsBond marathon #24

In order to wash away the foul taste of Quantum of Solace I felt I had to revisit Skyfall as soon as possible. And it's so much better than its predecessor. It's almost as good as Casino Royale.

Daniel Craig is as good as ever. Judi Dench is in top form. Even though I have said that I didn't really think she was right for the reboot, I'm sad that this is her last appearance as M. Judi Dench is actually one of my favorite actresses ever. If I didn't have so many unwatched TV shows I would start re-watching her in the wonderful “As Time Goes By”.

It may seem redundant to accuse a Bond film to go over the top. That is, after all, one of the trademarks of the series. Still, there are a couple of scenes that are just a bit too unbelievable for my taste. One such scene is the fall from the bridge in the opening sequence. A really skilled diver might have survived such a fall, if it was well controlled. A shot man, out of control? No way.

Another thing that was just a bit too unbelievable was the underground (subway) train crashing down. Are we to believe that Silva went to all the trouble of rigging that just in case he was to be closely followed, and that a train happened to be coming just at that very opportune moment? That just stretches the imagination a bit too far for my taste. (It's the wrong train, by the way. They're supposed to be on the District line, but it's a Jubilee line train.)

It was fun to see a Swedish villain. We have seen several Swedish Bond girls, but as far as I can remember, this is the first time we see a Swede in a villainous role. Not the main antagonist, but still. It's the first time I see Ola Rapace in an action role, so that was fun. Javier Bardem is a great actor, but there was something about his character that seemed a bit too off for my liking.

The new Miss Moneypenny sure is a different take from the old one. But that's OK by me. Ralph Fiennes as the next M? I can live with that.

It seems that Sam Mendes is set to direct the next two Bond movies as well. I have no problem with that. As long as they keep Marc Forster away from the series...
My rating

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #484 on: December 10, 2014, 10:39:53 AM »
TitleThe Girl Who Knew Too Much (5-027035-011912)
DirectorMario Bava
ActorsLetícia Román, John Saxon, Valentina Cortese, Titti Tomaino, Luigi Bonos
Produced1963 in Italy
Runtime86 minutes
AudioItalian PCM Mono, Commentary Dolby Digital Mono
SubtitlesEnglish
OverviewWith a nod to Hitchcock and a wink in the direction of Agatha Christie, The Girl Who Knew Too Much inadvertently created a genre that would dominate Italian cinema for years to come: the giallo.

A young American secretary with a taste for lurid paperbacks witnesses a murder whilst visiting Rome or does she? Nobody will believe her, but she appears to have stumbled upon the work of a serial killer active ten years earlier. The victims surnames began A, B and C... and hers begins with the letter D!

Starring the striking Letícia Román and John Saxon (Enter the Dragon, Tenebrae, A Nightmare on Elm Street), The Girl Who Knew Too Much is presented in both its original Italian version and the longer US cut, entitled Evil Eye, that was re-edited and re-scored by American International Pictures.
My thoughtsMario Bava was a great cinematographer before he became a celebrated director. Well, perhaps not so much celebrated while he was active as he became later. The Girl Who Knew Too Much was, I am told, his last black-and-white film. This film is very much style over logic. And unfortunately I sometimes have a problem with films like that. If I had watched it at another time, I might have enjoyed it more. Or perhaps not.

Still, there is no denying that Bava had immaculate style. This film is beautifully shot. One can wonder what it was like to be a cinematographer on a film directed by a cinematographer turned director, but in this case it wouldn't have been a problem, because Bava did both jobs. I guess Italy didn't have the kind of trade unions that the US had (and has). Anyway, the result is that this film looks great.

Leticia Román isn't bad in the lead role, but she's not exceptionally good either, in my opinion. I know many people really liked her performance, but I feel that a more accomplished actress could have elevated the film. John Saxon, on the other hand, is quite good.

This is said to be “ground zero” of the Italian giallos. This kind of story has been made many times over since The Girl Who Knew Too Much, and perhaps that's part of the reason that it didn't impress me all that much. It might have been different if I had seen it back in the sixties.

So while style over logic doesn't sit that well with me, I can't overlook that the style is very impressive. And although the story is kind of weak, it is still entertaining, so I'll give this a strong three stars.
My rating

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #485 on: December 19, 2014, 09:51:03 PM »
The Name of the Game Is Kill (089859-885228)
United States 1968 | Released 2013-04-02 on DVD from VCI Entertainment
83 minutes | Aspect ratio Anamorphic 1.78:1 | Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono, Commentary Dolby Digital Mono
Directed by Gunnar Hellstrom and starring Jack Lord, Susan Strasberg, Tisha Sterling, Collin Wilcox, Mort Mills

VCI Entertainment presents JOE SOLOMON's  1968 psychological thriller, "THE NAME  OF THE GAME IS KILL", from screenwriter,  GARY CRUTCHER ("STANLEY"), and  television director, GUNNAR HELLSTROM  ("GUNSMOKE"). Lost for over four decades,  audiences will at last be able to experience  this drive-in suspense film on a special edition  DVD, restored from archival film elements and  LOADED WITH EXCLUSIVE BONUS FEATURES.

While hitchhiking along a desert highway in  rural Arizona, Hungarian refugee and drifter  (JACK LORD- "HAWAIl 5-0") is given a lift by an  attractive young girl (SUSAN STRASBERG-“THE  TRlP") to a nearby ‘ghost town’. There her family,  consisting of her two sisters and their estranged  mother, manage an old gas station. One by one,  the sisters reveal to him clues to their shattered  past. Slowly, the drifter becomes entangled  in their web of deceit and desire, leading to  "one of the most surprise shock endings ever  filmed!" Co-starring COLLIN WILCOX (“TO  KILL A MOCKINGBIRD") and TISHA STERLING  ("COOGAN'S BLUF F"), this 1960‘s drive-in thrille  will keep you spellbound!

My thoughts about The Name of the Game Is Kill:
The Name of the Game Is Kill is a title that has been virtually impossible to find on home video until now. That fact alone makes it interesting. The DVD release from VCI uses a copy of the film that is probably the best there is. It is far from perfect, though. It is soft and the colors are not very vibrant. Don't ever expect to see it released on Blu-Ray. But if it's a title that you're interested in, don't wait. It's extremely unlikely that it'll ever get better than this.

The film is said to have a shock ending. Well, I didn't find it shocking, and in fact I saw it coming long before the end. But the film is kind of creepy and disturbing, so it's not without entertainment value. Jack Lord (before his stint as Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O) is quite good, and so is Susan Strasberg. The fact that the film is directed by Swedish actor/director Gunnar Hellström made it a bit extra interesting for me.
I rate this title
« Last Edit: December 19, 2014, 10:56:14 PM by GSyren »

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #486 on: December 20, 2014, 11:25:26 AM »
Daylight (025192-026720)
United States 1996 | Released 1998-05-26 on DVD from Universal Home Video
114 minutes | Aspect ratio Anamorphic 1.85:1 | Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Digital Dolby Surround, Commentary Dolby Digital Mono
Directed by Rob Cohen and starring Sylvester Stallone, Amy Brenneman, Viggo Mortensen, Dan Hedaya, Jay O. Sanders

Rob Cohen directs and Sylvester Stallone stars in this urban underwater disaster drama with big-bang special effects by Industrial Light & Magic.

An accidental explosion rips through a jammed commuter tunnel beneath the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey, sealing off both ends and trapping a diverse band of survivors inside.  A disgraced former emergency medical services chief manages to reach them and then struggles through fire, noxious gases, explosions, collapsing walls, massive flooding and rats to lead them to daylight

Daylight co-stars Amy Brenneman, Viggo Mortensen, Dan Hedaya, Jay O. Sanders, Karen Young, Claire Bloom and Vanessa Bell Calloway.  Director Cohen works again with Executive Producer Raffaella De Laurentis, with whom he made Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and Dragonheart.

My thoughts about Daylight:
Daylight was one of the early movies in the second wave of disaster movies, the first wave having been inflicted on us in the seventies. This second wave was made possible by the advent of computer graphics (CGI). As you may have gathered from my previous reviews, I'm not a fan of CGI overuse. I have two rules of thumb when it comes to CGI. First, only use special effects in general, and CGI in particular, where it is necessary for telling the story. Second, use CGI only where practical effects are not possible. Fortunately Daylight is rather restrained in the use of CGI. I especially like that they built a good stretch of tunnel at Cinecittá in Rome. This really helps to sell the confined feeling.

Daylight reminds me a lot of The Poseidon adventure.  It's a group of people trapped under water after a major accident, trying to get to the surface. The main difference is that the lead character, played by Sylvester Stallone, is not involved in the initial disaster, but goes in volontarily, knowing that he cannot go back out the same way, and knowing that there may not actually be a way out.

So, is this a good movie? Well, the story does have some flaws, but that's true of most disaster movies. The movie has gathered some very varied reactions. Some people hate it, some love it. Having seen it at least twice before, I still had a good time rewatching it.
I rate this title

Offline DSig

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #487 on: December 20, 2014, 06:49:12 PM »
Great rating for "Daylight".  Overall i like this much better than the original "The Poseidon Adventure".  For me overall it was more believable.  It is Stallone, love him or hate him, but i cared more for the overall characters.  And of course "The Poseidon Adventure" WAS a Irwin Allen film ( you can really tell and Allen *film* .. more extended TV movie).
Thank you
David

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #488 on: December 20, 2014, 07:21:59 PM »
You know what, Dave, I also liked this slightly better than The Poseidon Adventure. And I usually like Stallone. Cobra is one of my guilty pleasures. And Cliffhanger. And Nighthawks.

Offline DSig

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #489 on: December 20, 2014, 10:38:11 PM »
I wont tell anyone if you don't :) .. To me he is kind of like Bruce Willis .. the the worlds greatest actor but his characters knows how to get beat and keep going ..
Thank you
David

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #490 on: December 26, 2014, 10:53:03 AM »
Dinoshark (5-060020-701207)
United States 2010 | Released 2011-05-09 on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment
90 minutes | Aspect ratio Anamorphic 1.78:1 | Audio: English Dolby Digital 2-Channel Stereo, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Directed by Kevin O'Neill and starring Eric Balfour, Iva Hasperger, Aaron Diaz, Dan Golden, Humberto Busto

It was frozen in glacial ice over 150 million years ago. Global warming has just hatched it in the Arctic. And now, it has traveled to Puerto Vallarta for a massive Mexican buffet of sailors, swimmers, lifeguards, jet skiers, horny tourists, bikini babes and more. It thrives in warm water. Bullets will not pierce its prehistoric armor. And it can leap out of the ocean to devour helicopters and parasailers. Can a rogue fishing boat captain and a sexy science teacher stop this ravenous pilosaur before it takes a monster bite out of the local fiesta and all-girl water polo tournament?

Eric Balfour (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Skyline) and Iva Hasperger star – along with award-winning B-movie producer Roger Corman himself – in the top-rated SyFy sensation about the blood-crazed primeval mutation called DINOSHARK!

My thoughts about Dinoshark:
I give this 1/2 star for the film itself, plus 1 1/2 star because it had Roger Corman in a "real" role, rather than just a cameo, which is all that I have seen before. And I knew coming to this what a Corman produced monster movie was likely to be like, so I was well prepared. Sometimes you just want a silly monster movie, and this is just that. So no regrets.
I rate this title

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #491 on: December 27, 2014, 02:51:50 PM »
King Kong (883929-055609)
United States 1933 | Released 2010-09-28 on Bluray from Turner Entertainment Company, Warner Home Video
104 minutes | Aspect ratio 1.37:1 | Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, Spanish Dolby Digital Mono, Portuguese Dolby Digital Mono, Commentary Dolby Digital Mono
Directed by Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack and starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher, Sam Hardy

IN THIS VERY SPECIAL BLU-RAY™ RELEASE, the newly remastered film is presented in its 1933 entirety and includes scenes that were originally considered too shocking for the 1938-1956 rereleases. a film ahead of its time, King Kong defied the technological limitations of the 1930s. Special effects pioneer Willis O'Brien's revolutionary stop-motion animation was not only technically brilliant but also highly imaginative. With equal parts adventure, horror and old-fashioned romance, King Kong is a milestone of moviemaking that has endured for more than seven decades.

My thoughts about King Kong:
The original King Kong (1933) is my favorite film. I don't know how many times I've seen it; in the theater (sadly once only), on VHS, on Laserdisc, on DVD, and on Blu-Ray.

I feel a bit sorry for those who cannot recognize what a great picture this is. Back in '33 I guess part of its success was its groundbreaking technical achievements. That's not quite as impressive today, if you compare it to modern effects. But even so it is still a great picture. One of the reasons is that Willis O'Brien had something that very few animators have. He had a fantastic ability to infuse his animation models with a personality. That makes Kong much more than just a moving puppet.

Kong Kong takes its time to build up the suspence. It actually takes time to let us get to know and care for the main characters. It doesn't just leap into action sequences like so many of todays movies do. So I guess if you're only weaned on modern action films, King Kong may seem slow for the first part of the movie.

Of course, if you do apprectiate the intricacies of the technical effects - and I do - then you can watch this movie over and over and still marvel at them. But even if you don't then you should be able to just be entertained by a great story.

And remember, most of the people who have made a name for themselves in visual effects in Hollywood were inspired either directly by King Kong, or indirectly through Ray Harryhausen's films, and it was King Kong that inspired Ray to go into stop motion animation. So we owe so much to this film in general, and to the artistry of Willis O'Brien in particular.

It just doesn't get "five-starier" than this for me!
I rate this title

Offline DSig

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #492 on: December 27, 2014, 07:55:14 PM »
Whole heartedly agree .. Wish i had more that 5 stars but that will have to do <G>.  I still enjoy this after many remakes and or course just the years going by.  I can remember this film in the theaters(later in the early 50's) when my dad took me to see it.  WOW what a great hit this was for me.  I can see why Peter Jackson was inspired to become a film maker as a kid, after seeing this.  What a wonderful way to spend time .. watching this great film.  Thanks, think i will get it out and put it on my to watch list.
Thank you
David

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #493 on: December 30, 2014, 10:46:57 AM »
True Romance (883929-075560)
United States 1993 | Released 2009-05-26 on Bluray from Warner Home Video
121 minutes | Aspect ratio 2.40:1 | Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Commentary Dolby Digital 2-Channel Stereo, Commentary Dolby Digital 2-Channel Stereo, Commentary Dolby Digital 2-Channel Stereo
Directed by Tony Scott and starring Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman

Runaway lovers Clarence and Alabama (Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette) play a dangerous game when they come to possess a suitcase of mob contraband. They head for Los Angeles, where they'll sell the goods and begin a new life. But both sides of the law have other ideas. Screenwriter Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown) and director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Spy Game) shoot the works in this hard-edged mix of hip wit and dazzling action with an electrifying ensemble cast to die for.

My thoughts about True Romance:
It's funny how the same movie can have different impact on me depending on the mood I'm in at the time. When I watched True Romance on DVD 13 years ago, I rated it three stars (which for me means just OK). The blu-ray release has been waiting in my unwatched pile for 4 years, but now seemed a good time to watch it. And I liked it a whole lot better than last time. And that's strange, because as a general rule I like graphic violence less now than I did 13 years ago.

There are a lot of excellent actors in this movie. I have to admit I haven't been a great fan of Christian Slater, but he is very good in this one. Gary Oldman is marvellous in one of those creepy roles that he excels at. And we have Patricia Arquette, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Samuel L. Jackson, James Gandolfini, and Tom Sizemore, just to mention a few of the good actors in this movie.

Tony Scott was a very good director; perhaps somewhat overshadowed by his big brother Ridley, but still excellent in his own right. True Romance is just one in a string of great movies.  I have 10 of his movies in my collection, and a few where he was producer or executibe producer. One of those - The Grey - is still in my unwatched pile.

I'm glad I decided to revisit True Romance. It's a very good movie, and it deserved to be viewed when in the right mood.
I rate this title

Offline DSig

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #494 on: December 30, 2014, 05:10:58 PM »
Though not my favorite Slater film (Hard Rain, Broken Arrow, even tv series Breaking In which getting better) it is better than it got from reviewers.  Christian Slater is one of those actors who can be hard to enjoy if the part isn't right .. he has a good sense of humor but can't pull of jokes .. and can be hard to watch in too serious a role.
Thank you
David