Cliffhanger (1993) Review

[Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers.]

If any film lives up to its name, it’s this one. I can’t count the times people were literally hanging from cliffs, falling from cliffs, the tension from clinging to cliffs. There are a lot of cliffs in this movie.

I actually quite enjoyed this movie, it had me on edge.

Sylvester Stallone plays Gabe Walker, a man suffering from PTSD after a rescue went wrong. Later an eight month subtitle comes on screen, and in that same day he’s been tricked into helping international thieves. It’s either the money or his life.

Money that they lost, you guessed it, on a mountain, near many, many, cliffs.

The action surrounding this set piece was really good, and I did quite like the special effects.

Yet this film isn’t really what the trailer implies. It isn’t a non-stop action film, it’s much slower and deliberate. It’s a tension filled movie between some gun wielding maniacs and a group of rangers. There is some suspension of disbelief in this movie, you have to buy that Gabe has perfect memory and knows exactly where every case of money is.

That he can outsmart this world class villain. That he can not only struggle against, but survives the odds multiple times. That everyone dies, but our main heroes, and a woman that might as well be a damsel in distress.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I liked this film, I thought it was good, but don’t go into it expecting anything more than a beautifully shot, silly, thriller.

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West Side Story (1961) Review

[This review contains spoilers]

I didn’t expect what I got out of this film. I thought it’d be a fun romance, what I got was far more. It’s a very nuanced and mature film. The way it was shot is almost poetic. I didn’t expect for it to start with an aerial view of the city. Something that almost every TV show and movie does now, but something I almost never see from movies of that era.

It was lovely seeing New York in the 1960s, it really drew me into that time period, firmly establishing the mood of the film.

The dancing was excellent and very masculine, not something I can often say about a musical. The way the camera moved with the dancers, as if it was apart of the choreography, it reminded me of Gene Kelly.

This film is definitely a really good version of Romeo and Juliet, even better than the original in my mind. There are things that are done that I just think overall makes the story stronger. For example, Maria and Tony never marry like Romeo and Juliet, but they imagine what it would be like; saying their vows. It’s more realistic, but shows their commitment to each other, yes they basically just met yesterday, but they are madly in love.

The thing that really sets this film apart, besides the great music and dancing (and I don’t say that flippantly, the music really is great). It’s the racial tensions. Maria is Puerto Rican, and so is her friends and family. Her brother is in a Puerto Rican gang, that fight an American gang.

Both sides are young, and both are stupid. The film doesn’t take sides, it shows that the Puerto Rican gang feel alienated by American society and, to some extent, feel the weigh of racism on their backs. Yet the Puerto Rican immigrants argue amongst themselves, stating how America is a land of opportunity, yet they some of them spit back, sure if you’re ‘white’.

Yet, to counter these arguments is the American gang, this ‘land of opportunity’ produced them. Kids that are on the bad side of the law, from broken homes, that only feel at home on the streets fighting for their one bit of road. They only have each other as family, and they’re not going to give that up for anything.

These racial tensions in the film aren’t just between the Americans and the Puerto Ricans, it’s amongst the immigrants themselves. That’s what makes this film so nuanced, and just poignant.

Both sides are idiotic in the end, because that violence ends up with death on both sides. It shows that if you allow for that kind of hate and anger fill you up, nothing good will come if it. There is no winning in a war they literally created.

I did think there were some weaknesses in the film, like Maria just forgiving Tony after killing her brother almost instantly, but moments like that were few and far in-between. The film mostly overcomes them with just how good everything else is.

This film is easily recommended for anyone. Check it out, if you want a serious film that actually means something.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (2017) Review

[This review contains spoilers]

More of the same is best way to describe this expansion.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I liked Horizon Zero Dawn, I thought it was a good game, and I think this is a good expansion. What I liked most about it was the amount of content you get with it.

This is very similar to amount of extra content that Witch 3 and Oblivion gave you. Most modern games don’t go out of there way to give you this much content anymore. A lot of DLC is throwaway nowadays, so its nice to see something that really does feel like an expansion.

Now one of the biggest issue I had with The Frozen Wilds was the difficulty curb was too hard in my opinion. It also taught me something else, that once you play the ‘new game plus’ mode, you can’t change the difficulty, which is in a word: Bullshit.

It hampered my overall enjoyment, despite it being a well made game.

The Frozen Wilds really did make me appreciate one thing though, Horizon Zero Dawn was, and is, beautiful. The visuals are still stunning, even when compared to new game releases.

Another issue I had with the game is that it felt like a rehash, like they didn’t know what to do with the plot; so they just rinsed and repeated what they had before, which just came across as lazy to me.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s competently written, and there is nothing wrong with it. This game just could’ve been better.

I mean I liked the characters introduced, like Ourea, that worships an AI like a God, but somehow still befriends her. I always liked how Horizon handled these tribes people explanation of technology as something magical, it’s the contrast between the future and the primitive that’s just so interesting.

However outside that, don’t expect much, like I stated before it’s more of the same. While that isn’t bad, that isn’t a great thing either.

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982) Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

I didn’t enjoy this film. There, I said it.

It’s far too slow, it doesn’t really go anywhere and Nazis appear randomly at the end. That probably sounds funny, depending on your sense of humour. At least, it’s supposed to be. Noir and Comedy are rarely two genres that cross paths. Yet that’s the very crux of this film.

Steve Martin plays Rigby Reardonm whose very motto is to stay away from women. He can screw them, but heaven forbid he cares for one. Then walks in Juliet Forrest (played by Rachel Ward), a beautiful woman that happens to faint in their first meeting.

Rigby catches her, but don’t mistake him for a gentleman, he is anything but. Kissing a woman whilst she’s unconscious is hardly romantic, but this film plays it off as a gag.

Everything is too serious in this film. They try to be funny, but without ever winking at the camera. The plot is a mess, jumping from one story to the next. Rigby gets shot several times, only to have Juliet pull a bullet out with her teeth like some sort of magician.

This happens several times throughout the film. Rigby gets drugged by women, several times as well. The romantic aspect is stale. There is very little truly exciting that ever gets this film going. Even the climax is underwhelming, with a halfhearted chase scene.

Only thing that saves this film is the way they integrate a whole bunch of older films throughout its run. It cuts back and forth between actors that today are long since dead in an interesting and sometimes funny way. I get the feeling if you’ve seen all those other older films, this one might be funnier. Without those references, it’s hard to say. I haven’t watched the majority of those 1940s and 50s films shown to know.

I think it’s an interesting gimmick that this film does, but it’s too bad it isn’t enough.

The thing is, Steve Martin is a good actor and in other roles, has been very funny. Just not in this film.

This is one you can miss, it’s stale, and with a barely noteworthy trick.

A Star Is Born (1954) Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

There are three different versions of this film, soon to be four by next year. I think that’s interesting given the heavy nature of this picture. A Star Is Born is about a young woman that becomes a ‘somebody’, and even more so, it’s about her alcoholic husband.

Judy Garland plays Esther Blodgett, renamed as Vikki Lester. It’s what they did back then, to give you a more ‘Hollywood’ name. I find it interesting that this film in someways peels back the curtain. That the stars people idealise really are just like them, with their own flawed little lives. Norman Maine, her husband, is a drunk. He tries to go clean for her, but constantly makes a fool of himself.

He knows he has a problem, yet he can’t help himself. It leads to his wife, Esther, to wither. He inspired her to be a star, to really appreciate and share her talent, yet without him it isn’t worth anything to her.

It’s when he realises that he’s ruining her life as well as his own that he takes his life. The thing is, in this film we see him cry. I think that’s really interesting, because films now rarely show that. It also was in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

A Street Car Named Desire had a man wailing with raw emotion.

I find this fascinating, because I rarely find modern Hollywood films trying to hit these types of heavy emotions. Films like that are still being made, but you have to look elsewhere to find them and I think that’s ashame. Because these films are really trying to be about something, and they were mainstream.

They weren’t indie darling, these were intended for general audiences. I wonder why Hollywood doesn’t trust the average cinema goer with this type of art any more?

A Star is Born is flawed. It has too much time spent away from the main plot, making the pace inconsistent and the film far too long. There are parts that are just a bit boring. Yet Judy Garland acts splendidly in this film and sings beautifully with some real stand out songs. The Man That Got Away is a particular highlight.

You also believe their relationship. They really did fall in love and it shows. He worked hard to make her a star. She worked just as hard to save him…but some people can’t be.

When she’s grief stricken and still able to march on. You feel it.

Life is hard, but that doesn’t mean you have to be on your knees when it tries to cut you down.

I enjoyed this film, it isn’t the best of that era, All About Eve is better. Regardless this is still a good film, it’s just not perfect.

Bus Stop Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

Isn’t it wonderful when someone so horrible turns out to be so nice?

I’m paraphrasing, but Marilyn Monroe does utter a line remarkably similar to that. By the morals of this film, abduction is fine, stalking is acceptable and if you’re in love with a stranger, it justifies manhandling the hell out of them.

Marilyn plays the dumb blonde rather well, a woman without talent, that can’t sing but wants to make it in Hollywood. The scene where she sung went for too long and felt rather painful. Cherie, Marilyn’s character, is deemed an Angel by Bo, a man that seems to think you should treat a woman the same way you do a bull.

Tie them up and bring them home.

That’s not a joke, that’s how little respect and understanding he has for much of anyone. He’s brutish, and literally doesn’t behave until it’s literally beaten into him.

Then he’s sorry. Then he wants to play nice, and because Cherie is so dumb she believes him. Even though he proves moments later he had learned nothing, because he almost kidnapped his best friend.

Bo is a man child that doesn’t respect Cherie at all. He doesn’t even call her by name. Cherry, that’s her ‘new name’. One she doesn’t even want.

So, seeing a stranger and forcing them to marry you is romantic?

What a strange message. This isn’t a bad movie, the acting is good, but the plot is nonsensical. I mean, why would everyone just grin and wave while Cherie leaves with Bo? He’s crazy. She needs someone to take her aside and say: ‘Honey, you’re better than this.”

Which is really the message of the movie. It could’ve been better, instead we got this, a dumb mess.

A Video Game About Video Games

I know, it’s super meta, but the fact is many fans of video games (including me) aren’t exactly certain about the process that goes into developing and creating one.

I know it can involve tireless ‘crunch time’, that there are coders and artists that don’t always see eye to eye. That these things can take years to make, ect. But I don’t know how it works in detail, the process, the time, the budget and where it goes, so on and so forth.

I think that this would make a great game that could not only be fun, but teach people how to games are actually made. How would it work? Is it even possible to have a ‘teach me game’ and make it fun. Sure, and it’s been done before, just not in this industry.

Shirobako is great example of this. It’s a show I’ve yet to watch, yet it’s influence on the anime community could be felt by fan’s everywhere (and on most forums). It’s a show about, you guessed it, creating anime. It had such an influence that people would reference it in discussions about how anime was made, and it was as much a work drama as a show about ‘how to make anime’.

And this is how this game would work! Make a work drama about making a video game. Hell anime already tried to make this show with New Game! (another one I might have to check out?).

It could start with a young person (man or woman, depending on your choice) who’s a college drop out that has no clue where to go from here. They thought they wanted to be a lawyer, but after two years of barely passing tests and a recent death in the family (their grandmother?), they don’t see much point to it any more. They’re lost in their life.

Well while walking to the store for some milk, they see a flyer on the ground in a puddle, ‘programmer wanted: no experience required’. They pick it up, and it starts raining. Running home, they realise, ‘I don’t want to keep cooped up in my room any more’, so they make a call.

Who answers but a twenty-something that never finished high school. A person with artistic talent, a dream, and a need to make a game. You meet with them at their house where you find four other people. Everyone who at some point lost their way, so you agree to help them make a game. You’re quick to learn and the drama is never ending.

Maybe someone ends up pregnant, someone else recently quit a dead end job; and the other girl of the group is a stay at home mother that just needs some time in the week away from her kids. And the choices you make either help this game to finish or never get completed. You don’t even need to ‘really code’ in the game.

It could even all be in the same graphic level of Pokemon Gold or Undertale. My point is, I think this is just one example of how a game like this could be made and I’d love to see it. I hope someone makes a really cool game about game development, because I think it’d be a great way to know this stuff. So that there isn’t this great divide between a developer and a fan. So there is just a bit of understanding to be had, and hell, it could just be a cool game too!

Gunsmith Cats Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This OVA left me wanting more, and that’s praise that isn’t just tossed around. I loved it. It isn’t my favourite anime, but I could easily see it being someone else’s. The action was great, the humour always got a chuckle out of me and I was transfixed to the screen.

This story follows the unlikely duo Rally and May. Rally is reasonable and knows her way around a gun, whereas saying May was a bomb enthusiast would be a drastic understatement. They work well together and have strong chemistry. You can really tell they’re old friends.

Bill Collins is a nuisance of sorts, but the kind that’ll get you both in and out of a jam. He plays great off Rally with his wit and easy humour. He’s the ultimate leading guy.

The action is where this mini-series really shines. They’re isn’t one ounce of fat in this series. It’s just paced really well, with moments to breathe. It does stuff that I love about anime. You see the main characters talk about take-out, arguing about it, the way friends do. Anime can have small moments like that, without it being a waste of time. It’s about adding to the characters. Getting to know them, so that you care about them.

This is something that I think is missing from a lot of Hollywood films, at least coming out now. They don’t ponder on the quiet moments and let the plot breathe. Deadpool did, and I think that’s a fantastic film.

Radinov, a former KGB agent is a great villain. She really is a terminator, something she’s even called during the dub.

I really enjoyed the English version of this OVA. I thought the script was funny, the characters played off each other well. I thought it was well done, definitely recommended.

This is an anime for people that like slick, stylish action with attitude. Hell it even has a Psycho reference, which is cool in my book. Check it out if you like fun!

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

The title of this film is a lie. I swear that the brunette gets more guys looking at her than Marilyn Monroe (not that Jane Russell isn’t a looker herself). This film is actually pretty funny, as a comedy should be.

It has the two leading ladies continually getting themselves caught up in hijinks, from accusations of stealing a tiara to being investigated for a love affair. It’s nice seeing the two women play off each other, and being a little man crazy.

I liked that, it’s not something that I feel like I see often enough in films (maybe I’m not watching the right ones?). Regardless, this film has scenes with men parading around shirtless. Let it never be said that the 1950s didn’t have fanservice for the ladies.

I liked how the women played off each other, they were loyal and always back each other up, no matter the trouble they wound up in. The music was nice and playful, and the romance was well done.

Marylin’s character however has the oddest addiction to diamonds. Yet it did lead to a great musical number, one that’s become iconic and kept alive through people like Madonna. It’s a scene that has been replicated throughout the decades, it’s a nice scene, but not the best musical number of it’s time. Yet it is still good. It’s a great example of how they achieved spectacle in a time before CGI, with it’s great sets and dancing.

This is a pleasant film, that’s smarter than you’d think. Give it a shot on a lazy afternoon if you’re game.

Desk Set Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This film honestly surprised me. It was meant to be a romantic comedy, instead I got a film that was a light hearted, and warm, office drama. I actually really enjoyed the surprise.

This story is about Bunny Watson (played by Katherine Hepburn) and Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy) falling in love, despite her being in a rather one-sided relationship for seven years. Mike loves her, or so he says, but he is married to the business. She helps him with his work, enough to get him promoted and he expects her to drop everything. Just because he has now decided he wants to marry her.

He had no respect for her, and it’s a point emphasised by the film. Hell, Bunny is described as an old jacket by her friend Peg, to be used at his convenience.

Which I think shows a contrast to Sumner. He always treats her nicely, and though for the majority of the film you think he’s going to get her fired because of a ‘mechanical brain’ (a giant computer basically), there is no bitterness there. They become close, and there is genuine chemistry between them. However the romance took a back seat to what really set this film apart. The characters.

They’re all incredibly sweet. They have great banter. There isn’t really a dull moment in my mind. They think they’ll be fire because of a machine, a problem that plagues modern society today. I thought it was handled rather well, despite the machine being larger than half the room. The themes of displacement and distress. That’s realistic.

The relationships between the women felt real, as if they were family. They truly had each others back. They cared for each other. That’s what made the film for me, the human connection.

I know that sounds cheesy, but I appreciated it for that. It is a slow film, so it won’t be for everyone. But I liked that this was a film that explored themes that I didn’t expect of it. Even if it did have a happy ending, showing that the machine didn’t erase their jobs, and that even machines can ‘make mistakes’. I enjoyed that.

Though it did mention some people did get fired due to a similar machine in the payroll department. It just shows that despite it’s loving message of the unfailing human spirit, sometimes society will have upheaval due to new technology. Is that a good thing? Well, that’s beyond the scope of this film and this review.

I’d say watch the film, because it certainly has my vote.