Tag Archives: movie reviews

ThisTV Movie Review: Flash Gordon

flashgordonWhat can I say about 1980’s Flash Gordon?

It is beautifully campy.

It is full of critically acclaimed actors taking on less than critically acclaimed roles (seriously Max Von Sydow, how do you go from The Seventh Seal and The Exorcist to Flash Gordon?).

It is covered in matte paintings and spandex and glitter and laser guns that make that fabulous ‘pew pew pew’ sound.

Queen did the soundtrack. QUEEN! And dang if the main theme song isn’t catchy as all get out.

It’s got fantasy. It’s got science fiction. It’s got a super hero with absolutely no super powers except fabulous hair and the ability to get himself in some really stupid situations.

Basically Flash Gordon is just a big ol’ beautiful mess and way more fun to watch than any movie this ridiculous should be.

still-of-sam-j-jones-in-flash-gordon-1980-flash-aaa-aahh-saviour-of-the-universe-againThe plot basically breaks down like this: Ming the Merciless is being his merciless best and attacking Earth for no other reason than he’s bored (dude, seriously, that just isn’t cool). Football star Flash Gordon (Sam J. Jones) and plucky reporter Dale Arden (Melody Anderson), along with super scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol – because Fiddler on the Roof was a long time ago I guess), get sucked into Ming’s nefarious plot and the next thing you know sexy Princess Aura (Ornella Muti) is coming between the budding Flash/Dale relationship, Brian Blessed is running around in wings and leather underpants (as Prince Vultan) and Timothy Dalton is doing his best soundrel-y Robin Hood impression (as Prince Barin). Lots of yelling, running, shooting, flying, falling, fighting, and outfit changes ensue as our erstwhile heroes try to stop Ming and save the world.

Flash Gordon was released at a time when everyone seemed to be trying to get in on the Star Wars/Superman bandwagon. It was big and expensive and loud and explosive and had just about every element it could grab from the science fiction/fantasy/superhero genres stuffed inside it. The plot is all over the place as if it can’t decide where it’s going. The dialogue is awkward and clunky at best (though Max Von Sydow sure does try to make the most of his Evil Overlord speeches) and the chemistry between our titular hero and his lady love is pretty much non-existent.

Yet for all the (I’m sure unintended) silliness, this remains a film that is just so much fun to watch. Brian Blessed and Timothy Dalton chew up their scenes like no one’s business. The bright colors and shiny bedazzled costumes are almost mesmerizing in their late 70’s, early 80’s splendor. Sam J. Jones is as earnest as earnest can be while playing the part of a dumb beefcake tasked with something way out of his league.

And that Queen soundtrack is just delightful as delightful can be.

– Mia V.

Flash Gordon, Rated PG, 1980
Starring Sam J Jones, Melody Anderson, Max von Sydow, Topol
Directed by Mike Hodges
Written by Lorenzo Semple Jr (screenplay), Michael Alin (adaptation)

*Watch Flash Gordon on ThisTV, Tuesday 6/10 at 3p, Thursday 6/26 at 8:30a

 

(SOURCE – title image)
(SOURCE – screenshot)

ThisTV Movie Review: Christine

JohnCarpenterCHRISTINE_1024_3If you look at John Carpenter’s Christine one way, you might see a haunted house/object story. If you look at it another way, you might see all the trappings of a creature feature – minus the creature and plus an evil car. If you squint at it really hard, you may just see a cautionary tale of what happens when you don’t heed the warnings of family and friends. And if you just take a cynical glance at it, all you may see is a campy 80’s horror flick with comely young stars and a demonic old car out to murder people.

Christine is really all of those things (and maybe none of those things). The movie starts off on an assembly line where the titular vehicle tastes first blood. There is no ambiguity about this beautiful car’s demonic nature. And even when Arnie (Keith Gordon), one of our erstwhile teen protagonists, meets her for the first time he is told – very clearly to his face – that she was a car that was ‘born bad.’ He doesn’t listen, even when his best friend (John Stockwell) and parents make their objections to his purchase of her loudly and emphatically known. Angst of the bullying, dating, and family drama follow closely behind that purchase. As does dismemberment and death of course. Because Christine is a lady that doesn’t take an insult to herself or her new owner lying down (standing in park?).

The 80s were a prime period for Stephen King movie adaptations. Christine, along with Pet Semetary and Cujo, are some of the best of the films made from his books. The special effects are kept to a minimum (seriously all you need for a killer car is to black out the windshield so you can’t tell someone is driving her and BAM! – evil ghost car on the loose), the story follows the original text relatively closely, the soundtrack is stellar (in large part due to the integration of music in the novel) and the film takes itself only as seriously as it absolutely has to. It also takes the time to focus not just on the obvious Big Bad (that luscious red Plymouth Fury) but the deeper horror elements integral to the novel but easily overlooked on the big screen.

MMDCHRI EC002Killer cars are scary, sure, but what is scarier is the idea that you can know someone, like someone, LOVE someone, their whole life, and then turn around one day and realize they’ve become a total stranger to you. At the heart of Christine are two teenage boys who have been best friends forever, who have had each other’s backs over the years no matter what, and who find themselves torn apart the second that car comes into their lives. There are some metaphors for life here that we should all be aware of, but you can watch and figure them out for yourselves.

Is Christine the greatest horror film in the history of ever? Nope. Is it the greatest Stephen King adaptation in the history of adaptations? Not really. Is it still an excellent 80’s horror film with a sexy monster/haunted object/Big Bad and relatable characters and a brilliant soundtrack and some great moments of revenge? Totally. So is it worth your time to watch it? I’d say so.

– Mia V.

Christine, Rated R, 1983
Starring Keith Gordon, Dean Stockwell, Alexandra Paul
Directed by John Carpenter
Written by Stephen King, Bill Phillips

 

*Watch Christine on ThisTV on Tuesday, June 3rd at 3pm!

 

 

(SOURCE – images: thetimewarriors.co.uk, threesecondsofdeadair.files.wordpress.com)

ThisTV Movie Review: Shady Wagers, Flat Champagne, and Baseball

Eight Men Out coverAh, baseball, the great American pastime. It almost seems un-patriotic to not enjoy the sport…and yet I must admit I’m not a fan. Not even a little. When I saw that ThisTV would be airing Eight Men Out, starring John Cusack and Christopher Lloyd, I thought to myself ‘A movie about baseball has got to have more plot than an actual baseball game; I think I’ll check it out!’

For those of you who, like me, were not alive in 1919 and don’t have a plethora of baseball trivia stored away in your brain, this film is about a sketchy plan to throw the World Series by having the White Sox deliberately lose, in exchange for making thousands of dollars in bets against themselves. Despite being a pretty awesome team, the players were getting rather frustrated with their compensation. An early scene in the film depicts the players finishing a game and finding their bonus afterwards to be a row of bottled champagne gone flat. Non-fizziness aside, you might think getting paid in booze sounds like a grand idea. But when it comes time to try and pay rent and buy groceries, I’m pretty sure things start to unravel.

So, with all this unhappiness, a plan is hatched among some of the players, and they conspire with some shady rich guys to fix the World Series. What could go wrong?

As the Series got underway, the Sox did a pretty good job of making their losing lookCast lineup legitimate, trading wins with opposing team Cincinnati Reds. But rumors abounded, and after the World Series ended with a final score of 5-3 Reds, an official trial was held to determine what exactly had transpired and who was involved. Despite their planned loss, there were some teammates who claimed to have known nothing of the scandal.

In the end, eight White Sox players were found guilty of conspiring/having knowledge of the conspiracy and banned from professional baseball. All in all, the whole scam did not go as smoothly as planned. Admittedly, this isn’t the most feel-good type of film, but I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, and the cast was solid. So there you have it, my personal and non-professional film critic opinion of Eight Men Out. Until next time.

 

– Jess D.

 

Eight Men Out, 1988, rated PG
Starring: John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd, Clifton James
Directed by: John Sayles
Written by: Eliot Asinof, John Sayles

 

Watch Eight Men Out on ThisTV!
Friday March 21st at 5am or(again) Thursday March 27th at 9pm!