1986 / Director. J Lee Thompson.
Following RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK the 80s was chock-full of imitators. When I was a kid and too naive to understand the meanings of derivative and plagiarised I lapped them all up. Action movies were action movies and I would get adventure however it came. I relished movies like ROMANCING THE STONE, SKY PIRATES, ALLAN QUARTERMAIN and HIGH ROAD TO CHINA... and of course there was FIREWALKER, starring Chuck Norris and Lou Gossett. To adult eyes this is a lame, second-rate, B-movie... but to child eyes it's an exciting and funny adventure. I vividly remember the thrill of watching this movie as a kid and I carry that with me now when I watch it again. Chuck and Lou play two treasure hunters who are enlisted by a young woman to search for a fortune of gold hidden deep in the South American jungles. It's typical formula and no need to say more. Of all the Indiana Jones clones this, along with KING SOLOMON'S MINES, is a bottom-dweller. Most of it looks shoddy and just about all of the "exterior" shots are filmed on stages. Cave walls look like badly carved styrofoam, jungle settings look like Chris & Marie's Plant Farm and treturous rivers feel like close ups of a muddied kids pool. The dialogue is terrible and the action is lame. But like I said, I watch the movie with my 10 year old self in mind. It also helped that I had my 12 year old son beside me recently and he reacted to it as I had in the 80s. It's hard to not love Chuck Norris and in FIREWALKER he's as cheesy as ever. In it he fancies himself a funny guy, always on the look for cheap laughs. Lots of cheesy grins, fumbled antics and pathetic one-liners... and all the while he's still Chuck Norris, kicking ass, smashing faces and taking out dozens of bad guys with swift blows. There is no question that FIREWALKER is a peice of shit... but it's an 80s piece of shit that holds a place in my heart. Very cool poster art and as with any worthy RAIDERS rip-off, it's not without the mandatory appearance of John Rhys-Davies.
2013 / Director. Robert Schwentke.
R.I.PD. is based on a comic book but I doubt that the average viewer is going to know that... if you watch the movie unaware then it's going to come across as a blatant MEN IN BLACK rip-off... and lets face it, it kind of is. I was aware of the comic but having never actually read it I admit that the MIB thoughts kept stirring in my mind. I imagined a screenwriter pitching his new "Men In Black 3" script to the studio and being told that number 3 already exists, to which the writer replies "no worries. I'll be back in 10 minutes", only to return with a few modifications. Anyhow that's a fantasy in my head and not at all what happened but it reenforces the fact that RIPD is essentially MEN IN BLACK: AFTERLIFE. Ryan Reynolds plays a corrupt cop who is murdered. Instead of facing Heavenly judgement he is recruited to an afterlife policing agency called the Rest In Peace Department. Their job is to bring to justice the souls who have escaped judgement and live amongst humans. There's a lot to criticise about the movie, especially the horribly conceived monsteresque bad guys. Their designs are good enough but the CGI is so sloppily done... and being a special FX driven movie, that has a big deal. I spent the first 30 minutes with my guards up. I didn't like that it was an MIB clone. I didn't like the FX and I didn't like where the story seemed to be heading. The good news is that once I was able to ignore my grievances I actually started to enjoy it. The key to making it work for you is to embrace Jeff Bridges. The man rarely lets us down and he brings to the movie one of his more typecast character-traits. His quirky performance is fantastic and some of his one-liners are brilliant. As for Ryan Reynolds... well he is Ryan Reynolds. There's nothing new from him here, although he does manage a nice balance between quirky him (Green Lantern) and serious him (Safe House) and he stops himself from being Van Wilder-him. Since watching it 12 hours ago I am slowly warming to the movie and reflecting on it less critically than when the credits first rolled. There is definitely a charm about it and I'm feeling compelled to watch it again.
2013 / Director. Daniel Algrant.
GREETINGS FROM TIM BUCKLEY is a biographical film of sorts, which examines the lives of Tim & Jeff Buckley and attempts to explore the non-existent relationship between father and son... the film predominantly focuses on Jeff Buckley in 1991 in the lead up to his first public performance at a benefit gig for his father. The film then returns to the late 60s and follows moments throughout Tim's career, including the birth of Jeff. I was expecting more from this film and I found it bitterly disappointing. The legacies of both of these men are owed proper biographical films, rather than the story of one small chapter of their lives. The narrative travels at a snails pace and becomes bloated and existential. Neither of these men are properly examined and the brilliance of Jeff is constantly suggested but never fully revealed. All of the music throughout the film is Tim's and the lack of Jeff's music is what sorely lets it down. The performances are great but the direction is pretentious. I can imagine a heap of hipsters in deep conversation about the importance and integrity of GREETINGS FROM TIM BUCKLEY while sipping soy lattes and I also imagine few of them even knowing the music of these men all that well. I want to know about the making of GRACE and Jeff's propulsion to fame. THAT is a story needing to be told... not this crap.