Magic Island (1995)

magicisland_1Starring Zachery Ty Bryan, Andrew Divoff, Edward Kerr, Lee Armstrong, French Stewart, Jessie-Ann Friend, Oscar Dillon, Abraham Benrubi, Sean O’Kane, Schae Harrison, Ja’net DuBois, Terry Sweeney, Martine Beswick, Isaac Hayes

Directed by Sam Irvin

Expectations: Magic on an island.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


Going into a Moonbeam film, I’ve come to expect a few elements to almost always be present. Things like a trip back in time, a castle, and a kid with an absent or neglectful family, an obsession, and a desire to runaway. I didn’t actively think about these aspects when I started Magic Island, but they’re always hovering somewhere in mind whenever Moonbeam films come up. But get this… Magic Island breaks the mold! There isn’t a castle! It’s not even set in medieval times!

Magic Island is the story of Jack Carlisle (Zachery Ty Bryan of Home Improvement fame), a kid who loves video games, pirates and hard rock. His mother is a professional businesswoman up for a big promotion and all the money that goes with it. Jack isn’t impressed, because even though he’s 13 and he acts like he doesn’t care, it’s pretty plain that he’s lonely and in need of some parental attention and affection. Jack decides he’s had enough, so in preparation for running away he packs a bag with little more than some Rhino Bucket CDs and a Super Soaker. Only the essentials! His Haitian nanny (Ja’net DuBois) persuades him to stay home and have some of her jambalaya instead, also gifting him with a book called Magic Island that quickly sucks him inside its world of pirates and buried treasure.

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Escape from New York (1981)

escape-from-new-yorkStarring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Season Hubley, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers

Directed by John Carpenter

Expectations: High. I love John Carpenter movies.

fourstar


In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once-great city of New York becomes the one maximum-security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem river, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards inside the prison: only prisoners and the worlds they have made. The rules are simple. Once you go in, you don’t come out.

1997. Now.

John Carpenter’s Escape from New York has what is perhaps one of the greatest premises in movie history. When terrorists hijack Air Force One and crash-land it in the middle of the Manhattan Island Prison, Lee Van Cleef makes a deal with hero-turned-criminal Snake Plissken. For the safe return of the president, Plissken will get a full pardon. But he’s only got 24 hours to get the job done or else two capsules in his neck will explode. See, I told you it was awesome.

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Oblivion 2: Backlash (1996)

Starring Richard Joseph Paul, Musetta Vander, Maxwell Caulfield, Julie Newmar, Jackie Swanson, Andrew Divoff, Meg Foster, Isaac Hayes, George Takei,  Carel Struycken, Jimmie F. Skaggs, Irwin Keyes, Jeff Celentano

Directed by Sam Irwin

Expectations: Moderate, I enjoyed the first one. Hopefully this will live up to it.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-Movie scale:
threestar


Oblivion 2: Backlash starts out pretty slow for a movie with an eighty-three minute runtime. The first ten minutes are filled with a fairly detailed recap of the first film for those who either didn’t see it or weren’t paying attention. This does set the stage rather well for this film, but it goes on a little long. This leads into roughly ten minutes of lazy exposition explaining where everyone is and what they’re doing following the calamitous events of Oblivion. Really? The first quarter of the runtime is padding? This can’t be a good sign for the rest of Oblivion 2.

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Oblivion (1994)

Starring Richard Joseph Paul, Jackie Swanson, Andrew Divoff, Meg Foster, Musetta Vander, George Takei, Julie Newmar, Carel Struycken, Jimmie F. Skaggs, Isaac Hayes, Jeff Moldovan, Mike Genovese, Frank Roman, Irwin Keyes

Directed by Sam Irvin

Expectations: High, this looks awesome.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-Movie scale:
threestar


For fans of science fiction westerns, there aren’t a lot of options. You’ve got Westworld, Back to the Future III and a few others, including the soon to be released Cowboys and Aliens. There’s also Oblivion, Full Moon’s entry into the genre, which also manages to wrangle some horror and comedy elements into a hoot of a genre-bending time waster. When the evil alien Red Eye kills the Marshall of the town of Oblivion, the settlers can do nothing to stop his pillaging ways. What Red Eye didn’t count on was the Marshall’s coward son Zack coming back into town. Along for the ride is Zack’s native friend, whom he rescued from a badass twin-tailed stop-motion scorpion about fifteen minutes in.

The world of Oblivion is interesting unto itself. It’s a mixture of future-tech, Old West, post-apocalyptica and varied alien creatures, resulting in a very unique and engrossing world. Grisled prospectors might wear calculator watches to compute their earnings, but revolvers are still the guns of choice. They never seem to reload said revolvers though, which may be a technical advancement of this mash-up world, or simply an oversight during production. As this is a Full Moon movie and they need every imaginative element working in their favor, I’ll go with the former.

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