Sunday, November 30, 2014

Movie Review: The Librarian II: Return to King Solomons Mines

The Librarian II: Return to King Solomons Mines
Starring: Noah Wyle, Bob Newhart, Jane Curtin, Olympia Dukakis, Gabrielle Anwar, Erick Avari, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Robert Foxworth, Zahn McClarnon, Lisa Brenner, Jonathan Frakes, Peter Butler, Tertius Meintjes, Dawie Ackermann
Director: Jonathan Frakes
Turner Network Television (TNT), Electric Entertainment, Blue Sky Films, USA, 2006. 
The Librarian II Return to King Solomons Mines title
Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle) is back! But Nicole Noone is not! Flynn is searching for the Crystal Skulls of Atlantis with his Native American friend (Zahn McClarnon). After finding it they have to escape villains. Meanwhile in Cairo a man manages to send a package to Flynn before the bad guys get him. Flynn almost fails the mission because he finds an interesting arrowhead. 
Noah Wyle and Zahn McClarnon
Flynn Carsen is back!
Bob Newhart
Boss Judson
Library worker Charlene (Jane Curtin) is strict about his working habits and expenses.  Library boss Judson (Bob Newhart) shows him the secret part of the library. Judson advices him that sometimes Flynn has to give up what you want for the greater good to become a great librarian. 
Not an usual library
Noah Wyle and Jane Curtin
Charlene is strict about receipts
Flynn's mother (Olympia Dukakis) arranges him a surprise birthday party. At the party he meets his uncle Jerry (Robert Foxworth) who was his father's best friend. Flynn's mother gives him an amulet that his late father once got (looks like a Freemason symbol). When returning home Flynn gets knocked out and the package is stolen. Flynn manages to get a glimpse of the contents, the package contains a map to King Solomons Mines. Bad guys and General Samir (Erick Avari) try to find a magic book hidden in the mines. 
Robert Foxworth
Uncle Jerry
Erick Avari
General Samir
It's up to Flynn to save the world again. Flynn travels to Morocco to find a code to decipher the map. Being in Morocco gives Flynn the opportunity go make some funny Casablanca references. There he meets archaeologist Emily Davenport (Gabrielle Anwar). After finding some clues they escape the bad guys and continue their journey to savanna. There are some nice African sceneries. They also meet Debra (Lisa Brenner) from the first movie. The director Jonathan Frakes (aka Riker from Star Trek TNG) makes a cameo appearance! Along comes Jomo (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) who helps them survive in Africa. 
Gabrielle Anwar
Emily Davenport
Jonathan Frakes and Lisa Brenner
Debra on the honeymoon
Hakeem Kae-Kazim
Noah Wyle plays again the happy-go-lucky geek adventurer. After having worked for an year in the library, he has learned some new tricks for fighting the bad guys. This time we also learn about Flynn's father. Effects are normal TV-movie level, acceptable but not very polished CGI. The movie does not take itself too seriously, but it is a fun-to-watch adventure film. 
King Solomon's statue
The team wandering on savanna
Vortex of ghosts

Rating: Good

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Movie Review: Sharknado

Starring:  Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, John Heard, Cassandra Scerbo, Jaason Simmons, Alex Arleo, Neil H. Berkow, Heather Jocelyn Blair, Sumiko Braun, Diane Chambers, Julie McCullough, Christopher Wolfe
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
Syfy, The Asylum, Southward Films, USA, 2013.
sharknado title
In the opening gambit some nasty shark fin hunters meet their bloody demise when a storm hits their ship and tosses some sharks on board. After that the story begins with storm approaching Los Angeles. Surfers try to have fun on the beach before the storm hits but they get attacked by sharks. Surfer dude Fin (Ian Ziering) saves his friend Baz (Jaason Simmons) from getting eaten by shark. 
Ian Ziering
Sharks attack unlucky surfers
BTW Baz looks a lot like Rammstein singer Till Lindemann. Fin owns a beach bar whose waitress Nova (Cassandra Scerbo) is traumatized by sharks. She channels her anger to killing sharks. Bar regulars include a drunk with a heart of gold George (John Heard). Fin's has an ex-wife wife April (Tara Reid), who has a new boyfriend Collin (Christopher Wolfe). 
Till Lindemann Jaason Simmons doppelganger
Cassandra Scerbo
Nova has a shark issue
The city starts flooding so Fin, Baz, George and Nova try to get to dry area. They also try to save Fin's family. To add to the catastrophe sharks start swimming up the streets and sewers. After surviving the first flood and shark attacks, something worse appears: hurricane David sucks thousands of sharks from the sea. People get eaten by flying sharks, it's a Sharknado! 
Tara Reid
Fin's ex-wife April
Epic battle of Man vs Shark
The limited budget is used well. The special effects of the Asylum films are getting better. They are still cheap, but way ahead of previous Asylum efforts. But have no fear: there is still the good old changing weather in the middle of the scene- style goofiness. There are lots of silly one liners and cheesy dialogue. We also get sharp social commentary about the government who knows everything about us, even our favourite cheese. We also learn why it is a good idea to put a retirement home next to an airport: because old people can't hear. The movie has also drama: it tells a touching story about a man's attempt to repair the relationship with his separated family. Well, nothing works bringing family together better than blasting sharks!

On the minus side the usual tropes of B-movies are present, most of the supporting characters just wait to be mutilated by the sharks. There is again lots of just driving around but luckily better executed than in some previous Asylum films, *cough* 500 MPH Storm. However they are clearly refining their Syfy/Asylum disaster film pattern managing to make an entertaining bad movie experience.
It's raining sharks!
Asylum's Easter egg
Rating: So bad it is good or Very good

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Movie Review: 24 Hours - Michel Vaillant

24 Hours (Michel Vaillant)
Starring:  Sagamore Stévenin, Peter Youngblood Hills, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Diane Kruger, Béatrice Agenin, Lisa Barbuscia, Philippe Bas, Stefano Cassetti, Philippe Lellouche, François Levantal, Agathe de La Boulaye, Stéphane Metzger, Scott Thrun, Gary Cowan, Lisa Couvelaire, Jeanne Mauran
Director: Louis-Pascal Couvelaire 
EuropaCorp, TF1 Films Production, The Prod, Canal+, France, 2003.
24 Hours Michel Vaillant title
The movie is based on popular French comic books by Jean and Phillipe Graton.

Two car builders The Vaillants and The Leaders have for a long time been competitors in car racing. Michel Vaillant's mother Elizabeth (Béatrice Agenin) fears that Michel (Sagamore Stévenin) will die in a car crash. Michel knows how to use weather conditions to win the race. In Canadian rally contest Michel and his friends Steve (Peter Youngblood Hills) and David (Scott Thrun) play a prank on the Leader driver Cramer (François Levantal). Steves old flame Gabrielle (Agathe de La Boulaye) is also a rally driver. 
The Vaillant Mansion
Sagamore Stévenin and Philippe Bas
Michel and Jean-Pierre Vaillant
Michel's father Henri (Jean-Pierre Cassel) gets a racing car and David will be their driver in Le Mans 24 Hour Race. Michel has a brother Jean-Pierre (Philippe Bas) who is the manager of the team. Mother Vaillant however has fears although Leader team will not participate the race.
David at the rally
François Levantal
The Leader driver Cramer
Lisa Barbuscia
Leader's evil boss Ruth Wong
However the Leaders return to the contest using the feared number 13 car. The boss of the Leaders is Ruth Wong (Lisa Barbuscia) who will do anything to win. She has a cold hench-woman Odessa (Jeanne Mauran). In the next rally contest Cramer sabotages David's car. David topples his car but is not injured. The car however explodes and David dies. David's wife Julie (Diane Kruger) wants to drive in Le Mans in memory of David. Julie turns out to be an excellent driver so Michel begins to coach her. 
Jeanne Mauran
Hench-woman Odessa
Diane Kruger
Julie wants to be a driver
Le Mans Race is on!
Luc Besson scripted the film so it is a stylish production. There is also a little bit of humour typical to Luc. The landscapes and car races are beautifully shot. The final race is exciting. The story is quite usual for racing movies but has also a twist to crime drama. The characters are not very memorable but the driving action is good.

Rating: Good

Movie Review: Duel of Champions

Duel of Champions (Orazi e Curiazi) 
Starring: Alan Ladd, Franca Bettoia, Franco Fabrizi, Robert Keith, Jacqueline Derval, Luciano Marin, Andrea Aureli, Mino Doro, Osvaldo Ruggieri, Piero Palermini, Violette Marceau, Umberto Raho, Alfredo Varelli, Evi Marandi, Alana Ladd, Nando Angelini, Franca Pasut, Jacques Sernas, William Conroy, Andrej Gardenin 
Directors: Ferdinando Baldi, Terence Young 
Lovcen Film, Lux Film, Tiberia Film, Italy, Yugoslavia, 1961. 
Duel of Champions title
This movie is published as a part of Warriors 50 movie pack box published by Mill Creek Entertainment. 

In 7th century BC Rome is conquering neighbouring nations. City of Alba resists and the battle results in stalemate. Both cities lose too many men in the battle. The King of Alba, Mettius (Andrea Aurelis) sends troops to stop the Roman reinforcements. Centurion Horatio (Alan Ladd) and Sabinus (Alfredo Varelli) are bringing the troops through a ravine. The Albans attack and Horatio tries to get behind their lines. Sabinus thinks that Horatio is trying to run away.
Andrea Aurelis)
King of Alba, Mettius
Alan Ladd and Alfredo Varelli
Horatio and Sabinus
Alfredo Varelli
Sabinus thinks that Horatio is a traitor
Only Sabinus and one another man are left alive of the 4th Legion. Albans take Horatio as prisoner. Caius (Mino Doro) is the father of the brothers. His brothers Marcus (Jacques Sernas) and Elio (Luciano Marin) ask Sabinus about what happened to Horatio. They do not believe that Horatio is a traitor and go to search for his body but find nothing.
Mino Doro
Father of the Horatio Brothers, Caius
Robert Keith
King of Rome, Tullio Hostilio
Albans force the Roman prisoners fight in wolf pit. A slave girl named Scilla (Alana Ladd, Alan's daughter) secretly helps him to win the fight. Then she and Horatio escape and depart their ways. In Rome King Tullio Hostilio (Robert Keith) nominates Marcus as the next king and gives Marcia (Franca Bettoia) to be his wife. However the people of Rome are hungry and tired of war. A wounded man has lost his both sons because of the war. This makes Hostilio to reconsider the war with Alba. 
Alana Ladd
Jacques Sernas
Franca Bettoia
A healer woman from the Tiberian mountains (Violette Marceau) and his grandfather Cervia cure wounded Horatio. Hostilio negotiates with King Mettius. The High Priest (Umberto Raho) suggest thay they should ask the gods to decide who will rule the two cities. The priestess says that three brothers from both sides must fight to decide the war. Until then there will be a truce. The Albans will be presented by Curatio brothers: Curatio (Franco Fabrizi), Nevio (Piero Palermini) and a third one. 
Alan Ladd
Horatio wakes in a mountain cabin
Violette Marceau
Healer woman (Violette Marceau)
Helaer woman's grandfather
Soldiers arrive in the Tiberian village. They are Roman soldiers. A soldier tells that the Rome thinks he is a traitor. Meanwhile Marcus and Marcia wedding begins. Horatio arrives and defends his honour. Marcia was an old girlfriend of Horatio. Being seen as a traitor and seeing Marcia with Marcus, he leaves. His sister Horatia (Jacqueline Derval) begs him to stay but in vain. Also Marcia comes to meet him and tells him that she still loves him but Horatio has to leave. 
Franca Bettoia and Jacqueline Derval
Marcia and Horatia
Luciano Marin
Roman girls go swimming in the Alban lake. Curatio brothers kidnap one of them, it is Horatia! Nevio says he will tame her. Then they start kissing. Horatio returns to the Tiberian village. His younger brother Elio comes to search for him and tells that Horatia has been abducted. He still will not return. Horatio's father forgives Horatio and believes that he will save Rome. Horatia and Nevio fall in love although it is forbidden. Horatio teaches mathematics to the healer woman. Marcia comes to say that his all of his family are unhappy. Also Hostilio wants Horatio to return and fight the Curatios. He asks Marcia to return and say that Horatio is dead. However he decides to return to Rome. The Horatio brothers will fight for Rome. Two brothers of Horatio die in he battle and Horatio runs away. 
Piero Palermini
Nevio of the Curatio Brothers
Jacqueline Derval and Piero Palermini
Horatia and Nevio fall in love
The Curatio Brothers must also kill him to claim victory. Hiding in the forest Horatio ambushes and kills Nevio. Horatio also manages to kill the second brother. Curatio goes back and reports that Horatio has fled. But Horatio comes back again and duels with Curatio. Horatio wins and the Romans celebrate except Horatia. Horatia sees that Nevio has died and she kills herself in grief. Rome and Alba make peace, and Horatio goes to live in Alba. Marcia follows him. 
Franco Fabrizi
The third Curatio brother and Curatio
Alban Army at hte gates of Rome
Roman trumpeteers give a fanfare
The movie is lightly based on Roman legend. It is interesting because it is set in time before the Rome became an great empire. The movie is quite good mix of romance and action. Alan Ladd looks very tired in this movie. Music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino is very good. The tragic story of the Horatii brothers has been subject of at least two operas by Mercadante and Cimarosa. There is also a painting by Jacques-Louis David (1784): Oath of the Horatii.
Jacques-Louis David: Oath of the Horatii
Rating: Good

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