Demolition Man (1993)

demolitionman_3Starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Nigel Hawthorne, Benjamin Bratt, Bob Gunton, Glenn Shadix, Denis Leary, Bill Cobbs, Grand L. Bush, Pat Skipper, Steve Kahan, Paul Bollen

Directed by Marco Brambilla

Expectations: Very high. I used to love this one.

threestar


Demolition Man is a movie without much middle ground. You’ll either come down on the side of the supporters or you’ll be left scratchin’ your head as to why anyone would enjoy it. In many ways, this is exactly the type of movie that should never be reviewed. It’s not one that stands up to harsh criticism, nor is it one that you could really sway anyone’s opinion on by pointing out specific scenes or intricacies the other person may have missed. This isn’t Bergman, it’s simply an action movie you either enjoy or you don’t.

The film opens in the war-torn streets of the future Los Angeles of 1996. Shit has most definitely gotten real, and mastermind sadistic criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) has kidnapped a bus full of civilians and hidden them somewhere in the city. That’s exactly the kind of stuff that will not stand in an action movie, so in drops John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) from a helicopter overhead. He’s a no-nonsense cop nicknamed the Demolition Man, and he’s ready to kick some serious ass. But when Phoenix outsmarts him, they both wind up in cryo prison while the world moves on from violence and abhorrent behavior.

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Stephen reviews: Big Wars (1993)

bigwars_1Big Wars [Big Wars: Kami utsu akaki kouya ni ビッグ・ウォーズ 神撃つ朱き荒野に] (1993)
AKA Daisenki

Starring Hideyuki Tanaka, Kouji Tsujitani, Isshin Chiba, Yumi Touma

Directed by Issei Kume & Toshifumi Takizawa


Big Wars starts out with a really big wall of text scrolling across the screen. This might have had the benefit of providing an epic feel like Star Wars, except it is much longer and races by much faster, so you can’t read it unless you pause the film. That’s OK though, you don’t really want to read it anyway. It’s pretty drab stuff, and it won’t give you any special insight into the film, so it’s best to just ignore it. Besides, who needs a history lesson when we’ve got flying saucers to shoot down? The opening dogfight is fantastic enough to make you forget all about boring text on the screen.

The war in question is an alien invasion. Humans have colonized Mars, and it looks like some aliens didn’t care too much for that. They shoot lightning bolts and they can brainwash people to be their slaves. But despite the title, Big Wars takes a small-scale look at the war. It focuses on Captain Akuh and his assignment to the super-secret new warship the Aoba. It’s a big mission that could change the course of the war, but we don’t get to see much of the war as a whole. Instead, we’re treated to a lot of spy drama with Akuh’s sexy, and excessively horny, girlfriend in the intelligence department. After all, it’s a pain in the butt to track down those brainwashed terrorists.

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Stephen reviews: Patlabor 2: The Movie (1993)

DUU2tPatlabor 2: The Movie [機動警察パトレイバー2 Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor 2 The Movie] (1993)
AKA Mobile Police Patlabor 2: The Movie

Starring Ryunosuke Ohbayashi, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Daisuke Gouri, Issei Futamata, Jinpachi Nezu, Michihiro Ikemizu, Miina Tominaga, Tomomichi Nishimura

Directed by Mamoru Oshii


This film feels very similar in a lot of ways to the first Patlabor, and to Oshii’s other films as well. A lot of my feelings are the same as I had for the first film. But Patlabor 2 falls short of the first one. It’s a little drier and less ahead of its time, which made me less interested in it.

Its primary flaw is the same as the first film, and something that plagues a lot of the Mamoru Oshii films I have seen. It’s just too slow-moving, and its methodical pacing left me zoning out. I handled the first film well enough because its plot was more intriguing with its focus on computer technology well beyond what I had expected from the time period. Here, however, it just didn’t have a premise that made me sit up and pay attention, and it was a bit predictable as well.

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Mandroid (1993)

mandroid-movie-poster-1993-1020548085Starring Brian Cousins, Jane Caldwell, Michael Della Femina, Robert Symonds, Curt Lowens, Patrik Ersgard, Ion Haiduc

Directed by Jack Ersgard

Expectations: High. That poster promises a lot of fun.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


You don’t know how sad it makes me to watch a movie called Mandroid and not be able to tell you how incredible it is. It’s remarkable how much this film squanders its potential to be a great film, and continues to do that over and over and over again throughout. At least it’s consistent. But don’t fret, it’s not all bad. The elements are here, so Mandroid would actually be better if you’re not paying close attention. You’re doing something, you look up and see the Mandroid driving a car into a wall, you go back to what you’re doing with a smile on your face. That would be a far more enjoyable experience than actually trying to follow the “story” of this movie.

But what is that story? Hellifino! No really, it’s about this Mandroid and he’s in love with a Wo-Mandroid from a rival clan. Their fathers creators object to their coupling — OK, OK. The real story is about a pair of elderly scientists who created the Mandroid together. One creator, Karl, wants to use it for science, but the other, Drago, wants to sell it to the military! They do a bit of fighting about it, and Drago decides to take matters into his own hands and just steal the sum’bitch. That plan goes awry and Drago gets hideously disfigured, fueling his rage even more!

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Robot Wars (1993)

Robot Wars (1993)
AKA Robot Jox 2, Robot Jox 2: Robot Wars

Starring Don Michael Paul, Barbara Crampton, James Staley, Lisa Rinna, Danny Kamekona, Yuji Okumoto, J. Downing, Peter Haskell, Sam Scarber, Steve Eastin

Directed by Albert Band

Expectations: Moderate. I loved Robot Jox, but Crash and Burn really soured me on other Full Moon movies trying to recapture some of that glory.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Many moons ago, Uncle Jasper and I tag-teamed two of Full Moon’s three giant robot movies. Robot Jox, the first of these, was incredible. It was so incredible in fact that it bankrupted Empire International, and directly led to the genesis of Full Moon as a company. A few months later, Full Moon came out with Crash and Burn, to decidedly less satisfying results. Due to that film’s paltry offerings in the way of giant robots duking it out, I shelved Robot Wars for a later date; I just couldn’t bear to be disappointed again so soon. While Robot Wars definitely doesn’t live up to the incredible, hulking battles of Robot Jox, it does follow in its footsteps enough to be called something of a sequel.

But don’t get too excited: the “robot wars” are really only one battle at the end of the movie. Instead, I think the robot wars of the title are more a reference to the battles in Robot Jox than anything else, because in this timeline there’s only one remaining giant robot. I guess all those political struggles hashed out through robots bashing their fists into each other ended up working themselves out, as this sole remaining robot is now used as a tourist attraction ferrying tourists back and forth between a 1993 ghost town.

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Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993)

Starring Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman, Terry Kiser, Troy Byer Bailey, Barry Bostwick, Tom Wright, Steve James, Novella Nelson

Directed by Robert Klane

Expectations: Seen it before, but I don’t remember anything about this one. Bernie’s a stiff from moment one, so this should be non-stop corpse-draggin’ fun, right?

On the general scale:

On the “People Pretending a Corpse is Still Alive” scale:


[Editor’s Note: One quick thing before I kick this one off: there will be massive spoilers. I’m just not able to do it justice without performing the full autopsy on Bernie’s rotting corpse. So be warned!]

In yesterday’s review of Weekend at Bernie’s, I called it a singular and unique film. The same can be said of Weekend at Bernie’s II, as it goes in a completely different direction than its predecessor while still exploring plot lines introduced in the original. After a strange animated intro sequence that plays up the kid-friendly aspects of this tale of the not-so-recently deceased Bernie, the film begins in the coroner’s office. Bernie has been turned in and locked away, and our heroes can finally get on with their lives without Bernie always hanging around. Wait, what? How are we supposed to have all the wild fun of the original now? I was hoping for a film filled with dead Bernie, but apparently that wasn’t meant to be. That being said, when Weekend at Bernie’s II is funny, it’s incredibly absurd and in certain cases it even rivals the original. The only problem is that these moments are so few and far between that most of the film is spent yawning and wishing Bernie would enter frame.

Before I go any further I have to make note of the film’s rating, as it is baffling me. I generally don’t pay attention to these things, but for whatever reason I had noticed that the original was PG-13, and the sequel was only PG. I thought, “Damn, so it’s gonna be tamer and more kid-friendly, huh?” I resigned myself to it, but to my surprise this is most likely the first and last PG movie to feature a main character yelling “Blow me!” to one of his co-workers, quick frontal female nudity and other assorted adult situations. If this came out at PG nowadays, the conservative Christian groups would tear down the local AMC, with burning effigies of Bernie littering the sidewalk.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Hard Target (1993)

Starring Jean Claude Van-Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler, Wilford Brimley, Kasi Lemmons, Arnold Vosloo, Willie C. Carpenter

Directed by John Woo


To the seasoned viewer of early 90s action films there are only two things wrong with Hard Target. One, there are like twenty dudes trying to kill Van Damme at any given moment and Al Leong is not one of them. Two, the painfully obvious musical selection “Born on the Bayou”, which could have made any scene in this film infinitely more awesome, is not played until the end credits. Despite these two obvious flaws, the movie was a pleasant experience to return to since I had last viewed it over 15 years ago.

Hard Target is forever cemented in history as the film that brought John Woo to Hollywood. Language barriers as well as unfamiliarity with the Hollywood system were obvious concerns. The brass over at Universal Pictures were apparently shitting themselves so badly over letting John Woo take the reins of this film that they hired producer Sam Raimi to babysit the production. Woo was working in horrendously stifling conditions, being given only two months to shoot the film, and was relentlessly hounded by studio execs to go easy on the violence, which ironically is the very reason he became such a desired Hollywood import in the first place.

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