Eraser (1996)

eraser_10Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Caan, Vanessa Williams, James Coburn, Robert Pastorelli, James Cromwell, Danny Nucci, Andy Romano, Nick Chinlund, Michael Papajohn, Joe Viterelli, Mark Rolston, Tony Longo, Olek Krupa

Directed by Chuck Russell

Expectations: Moderate, but I’m very excited to revisit.

threestar


I’ll never forget the first time I saw Eraser. I was 14 when the film came out and I was staying with my grandparents. They asked me what movie I wanted to see, so of course I picked the latest Arnold explode-a-rama! (Side note: the next summer we went and saw John Woo’s Face/Off!) I was beside myself afterwards because I felt Arnold had been in something of a slump at the time, and Eraser was a great antidote to that in my eyes. My grandparents weren’t especially thrilled, though, and I specifically remember my ex-Navy pilot grandfather laughing at how ridiculous the entire plane sequence was. I remember this because at the time I didn’t quite understand why it seemed so absurd to him.

As I’ve documented in many of my previous Arnold reviews, I idolized Arnold like no one else on-screen. He was the ultimate movie hero to me in my youth, so when confronted with the CG-aided plane shenanigans in Eraser it never seemed implausible to me; it made perfect sense. He’s Arnold, of course he can open the plane’s door at 10,000 feet and rip a seat off the wall to throw into the engine so he doesn’t get sucked in when he jumps out of the plane to catch the parachute that just flew out the door. Duh.

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Skeletons (1997)

skeletons_5Starring Ron Silver, Christopher Plummer, Dee Wallace, Kyle Howard, James Coburn, Arlene Golonka, D. Paul Thomas, Paul Bartel, David Graf, Patrick Thomas, Clive Rosengren, Raymond O’Connor, Kathleen Noone

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


If you know the name David DeCoteau, it’s probably because you watch B-Movies. Trashy B-Movies. Skeletons, though, is easily the most respectable and “normal people” friendly DeCoteau film I’ve seen, while also still feeling like he was the guy calling the shots. It’s impressive how his style is still able to filter through, and I wonder what might have been if someone had been gung-ho enough to throw a huge studio picture his way. I doubt we’ll ever find out what that would be like, but thankfully if you dig his style he’s incredibly prolific — for instance, he directed eight films in 2014!

Skeletons centers around a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Peter Crane (Ron Silver), who suffers a heart attack. He takes the advice of his wife, Heather (Dee Wallace), and they pull up stakes to get the family out of the rough-and-tumble big city. They land in Saugatuck, Maine, a small town with a population of 850. It is the quintessential small town: everyone is super friendly, they all know each other, and they all worship at the same church run by Rev. Carlyle (Christopher Plummer).

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Young Guns II (1990)

Starring Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christian Slater, William Petersen, Alan Ruck, R.D. Call, James Coburn, Balthazar Getty, Jack Kehoe, Robert Knepper, Tom Kurlander, Viggo Mortensen

Directed by Geoff Murphy

Expectations: Low. I’ve seen this one before and did not enjoy it. Same as the first.


I love a good western. I don’t watch nearly as many of them as I used to, but my love for them has not diminished one bit. Young Guns did nothing to scratch my western itch, and while its sequel gets a lot closer, it’s just shy of providing anything of real value or entertainment to me. I think the key here is that the target audience for the Young Guns franchise is female, and when my girlfriend remarked after one of my many sighs, “You don’t like all the drama,” I knew that she was onto something solid.

By casting all the young heartthrobs of the day, you’ve already got the female audience’s interest piqued, but Young Guns goes the extra mile and makes the focus of the movie the drama that transpires between the members of the group. There’s no real heroics or impressive vigilante action to be found in this series (things that a male audience would generally respond to), and I think this is a major reason why I just can’t connect with the Young Guns films. In this way, Young Guns isn’t so much a western as it is a teen movie using a western backdrop, kind of like Inglourious Basterds is a spaghetti western that uses WWII iconography instead of the traditional guns and horses.

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