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Top Dog (1995)
1/10
An Honest Review
17 February 2020
You guys hear that Chuck Norris died? Yeah, true story, it was back in '83 but Death was too scared to take him.

I actually have an Okie Uncle that looks just like him. I guess he was fine in Oklahoma but, when he flew in to ORD he just signed autographs because it was easier. Get yours checked.

Anyway, I just got done reading a review that praises this for diversity and intolerance of bigotry and now I'm really confused because that has nothing to do with this film.

Really, honestly, nothing to do with it.

What this film is is a horribly bad version of Turner and Hooch and that film was already horribly bad. Norris beats the bad guy and the dog takes the credit for it.... cut, repeat, print.

There is absolutely nothing deeper than that going on here. It's got nothing to do with much of anything other than a few action sequences and some horribly bad jokes that not even my little sister laughed at and if memory serves she was 10 when we rented this mess.

Watch it of you want, but understand that you have been warned... and if any one of did get a Chuck Norris autograph in Chicago in the late 80s and early 90s, I am so sorry.
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10/10
An Honest Review
17 February 2020
Yeah, it's a lot better than the Johnny Depp version isn't it? Probably because this one is fun and entertaining and the Depp one was was a Tim Burton film and felt kind of pretentious didn't it?

Clearly this version doesn't look as visually pleasing, but it makes up for that in earnest heart, a few good tunes, and a titular character that is always delightfully entertaining to watch.

Gene Wilder really sells it without being creepy doesn't he? And the first time you watch it you don't think about it... but it's a really thin line he had to walk to come across as not creepy and still be eccentric and fun and he pulled it off in spades.

I didn't really think about it as a kid, but as an adult (especially with Burton's) it's one of those things where Wilder should have won an Oscar. It was Academy Award worthy and the film was made in '71 where the Academy Awards still meant something.

Gene's devastatingly on target performance aside, this is just a fun film that the family deserves to see and it certainly needs to be lauded over the remake.
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1/10
An Honest Review
17 February 2020
Well, let's be honest, this one does clean up the problematic white patriarchy exhibited in the three other films, but it still stereotypes Asian people as....

....I fooled you didn't I? Yeah, I'm not at all one of those people.

Whatever, no one is going to read this anyway.

I do, however, feel the need to give this two stars on principle. I mean, I did remember that they made this film when Part III was (possibly) blocked from my memory to save myself the horror of it all... but that I don't think it deserves that.

When I was a kid, actually a Freshman in High School, I kind of had the attitude that no Ralph Macchio meant it wasn't a real Karate Kid film. I'd rather not see it made and I went out of my way not to watch it until I caught it on cable.

I'd like to think I've matured since, but they are rebooting Blade and...no Snipes. The same attitude applies. I guess I haven't grown.

At any rate, it's not just the lack of Macchio, it's the addition of Ironside doing his absolutely best impersonation of Michael Ironside and over-acting to the point where I'm actually shocked the rest of the cast made it through without groaning. He's kind of like Nicholas Cage without the charisma isn't he?

Moving on, Swank does an OK job of selling it physically. I mean, I'm a pretty big guy, I was certainly a big guy in High School, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that she could kick my behind from here to kingdom come. Unfortunately, as much as she does sell the physicality of the role, it doesn't take a trained eye to see she doesn't know the fundamentals of even a basic street brawl.

She made up for it later in here career, but it still leaves you with the impression that she never threw a real punch in her life.

And that, combined with Ironside is enough to really make this movie a flop, even if it had Macchio in it... which it doesn't, and I'm still going to be juvenile and insist it can't be a Karate Kid film without him.
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1/10
An Honest Review
17 February 2020
I totally forgot about this one until someone at work made an obscure reference about it... and suddenly I was faced with memories I'd rather forget. Honestly, when you remember The Next Karate kid and not Part III, it should tell you something.

Anyway, he was right, it did have Robyn Lively in it and I think this is one of her early roles... and this and Teen Witch are kind of a shame because she can do a good job, a Twin Peaks quality job here and there but otherwise lingers in obscurity and really only surfaces for people like me who see her here and there in television roles and have fond memories of some of her better roles.

Anyway, it also has Ralph Macchio doing a job that kind of makes sure to tell the audience that he does not want to be there, he does not think III is a good idea, and otherwise convinces the audience not to like it.

And he was right, the script wasn't there. It was nice that he had a platonic interest and not a love interest, it was unique, it fit his character, it worked with the story... but the story otherwise wasn't there.

It's kind of a revenge tale that you have seen a thousand times over and this one doesn't say anything more than low budget Canon Pictures quality film.
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10/10
An Honest Review
14 February 2020
"I don't want my mother to know why I'm really here so just play along, OK." This is still the Librarian and, despite the fact that Flynn has evolved between the films to be more confident, more Indian Jones, it is still the geek our of water that made the first film so fun.

The down side is that Anwar isn't as much as the tough sidekick. Thats not a bad thing, but it takes away from the formulaic feel and some of the fun of Noah being all brains an no brawn.

Still, she is an intellectual match and that is fun as well
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Green Book (2018)
1/10
An Honest Review
14 February 2020
I guess that this made it to the Academy Awards for saying something that has been said a thousand times before. But because it was made in 2018 and everyone below 30 and everyone in Hollywood pretends that cinema didn't exist until 2016 it had high praise.

The acting is not bad, but for a movie set in the South, it could have used to actually show some of the beauty of the region they were driving through. Independent films have done a better job than this.

But, because of the message, because of the statement we have heard a thousand times before, I guess you are supposed to love this and treat it like it's new.

It's not, the 70s and 80s had a lot of movies like this and they carried over into the 90s.
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1/10
An Honest Review
14 February 2020
I think the last film of Lee's watched and enjoyed was his Malcolm X biopic... but to be honest I don't think I really enjoyed the film so much as I did Denzel's performance. I mean, isn't it nice to see Denzel Washington playing something other than the smart law enforcement officer and actually bring his all to a film?

I guess I should be fair and say that it's not as horribly bad as Son of Sam was... but it's bad in a way that Nicholas Cage is had to watch in all of his movies... almost all of his movies. He actually has a few good ones.

I guess Lee's approach to this was to tell all of his actors to over-act as much as humanely possible for even the smallest roles. There is not a line that isn't over done, not a part that isn't over-acted. There is nothing naturalistic about this and it makes it so very hard to watch.

The result is a serious subject that could have been a compelling biopic, that was turned into a cartoonish mess.
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10/10
An Honest Review
14 February 2020
Well, for starters, you have to realize that you are watching a made for TV movie geared towards kids... and adults like me that might still like kid things. Otherwise you are going to kind of hate it.

And then you have to realize that it's an action comedy of the best sort of pulp narrative available or else, again, you're going to kind of hate it.

And then, it's total pulp trash so don't expect it to be historically accurate in any way.

What it is, is a fun movie made about a dork, a geek, a nerd, that gets thrust into the fantasy world that all Indiana Jones fans live in.

It's kind of Warehouse 13 only more Indiana Jones. It's kind of Friday the 13th the Series, only more comedy.

It's made for kids, it's made to be light and fun and it has Bob Newhart acting like an action hero.
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10/10
An Honest Review
5 February 2020
Bare with me here, because things are hazy.

I distinctly remember renting this at our old small town independent pre-Block Buster video rental establishment. Back when it stopped selling porn (for a few years) and devoted the back room to Betamax and Laser Disc before they moved on to a bigger building.

I remember riding my bike there with my father when I was ten. I remember seeing the poster in one of the two small windows. I remember the other new releases on the shelf, and I remember renting this on VHS with a Beta Danger Mouse.

And then I remember thinking it was a drama because of the start of the film, cracking up about the luggage, cracking up about the actual volcano climax, and that is about it.

But I guess the point is that I remember laughing, and that is what matters.
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Jacob's Ladder (I) (1990)
10/10
An Honest Review
5 February 2020
Trippy. No, you probably didn't read that right. I meant to write it in a way that sounded more like a stoner. Tripppy? Tttttrrrrrriiiippppppyyyyy, duuuude.

Something like that.

Anyway, I love Tim Robbins as an actor and you should take that statement into consideration when I say that this is one of his better films.

What I can say is that a doctor goes to Vietnam, and then leaves his wife, marries someone else becomes a Postal Employee, and that is about as much as I can honestly say without throwing the spoiler alert up.

It is one of those movies where everything you love about the plot would be a red flag on the spoiler radar... so watch it, enjoy it, you won't be disappointed. And you will see what I am talking about with the spoilers when you get there.
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Once Upon a Time (2011–2018)
1/10
An Honest Review
5 February 2020
This SHOULD have been Fables shouldn't it? Or at least it should have been more like Fables, it should have at least ripped the plot off that Bill Willingham gem a little more than it did.

But I think this was Disney related and Warner Brothers own the rights to all things DC. So legally I think they were forced to make something vastly different.

The thing is that it looked like they were going for a Fables story, and because of that some obvious plot threads kind of dropped off in the 1st season when it looked like they were getting too close to the comic for litigious safety

And then it kind of tapered off tangentially before catching it's footing halfway through and falling apart at the end because it ran too long
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Ghost (1990)
8/10
An Honest Review
3 February 2020
Tony Goldwyn should have been a more popular actor. He was actually pretty exceptional in almost everything he has done but never actually made it to superstar status.

Instead he kind of lingered in supporting actor limbo through the 90s and then kind of disappeared.

It's a shame.

And he's not the only unsung hero in Ghost, Vincent Schiavelli is in it too.

It has a great cast that brings their all to the film.

The script isn't that imaginative, you've seen a few movies like this before, but that never really matters when it's done well.
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Flatliners (1990)
10/10
An Honest Review
3 February 2020
Stop for a minute and contemplate the fact that Joel Schumacher made this when he was channeling Joel Schumacher and it actually turned out to be a good, compelling, and frightening film.

How the heck did that happen?

I mean, sure, the story was good for a horror flick and it was pretty compelling. And, to be fair, it did have a great case and the acting was beyond par.

So you know, there was a lot working for it despite it being Joel Schumacher in the 90s being Joel Schumacher in the 90s.

I guess what I am saying is that you should give it a shot, despite the director.
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10/10
An Honest Review
3 February 2020
I've actually been in a military court room a couple of times... not because I ever served, not because I was testifying or charged with anything... but mainly because historian. Sure, the court wasn't in session at the time but. Wow, A Few Good Men found the nicest, prettiest, and best decorated courtroom on Earth.

Top Gun actually did it better.

But, it was based on a true story that everyone that watched Unsolved Mysteries would become familiar with. And the acting is excellent, right down to Tom's impersonation of Jack.

The story is compelling. In fact, it kind of draws you in from start to finish. The message is strong.

You wrap that all up and it makes for one heck of a memorable film.
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Red Tails (2012)
1/10
An Honest Review
2 February 2020
Yeah, I came into this well after seeing HBO's Tuskegee Airmen, which kind of stared everyone on earth and was brilliantly acted an had a great and compelling plot.

So this is kind of a bias review.

Compared to the HBO original movie, Red Tails has better special effects but that's about all. The story is worse, the plot is worse, the acting is worse. The history is worse, and I like to give movies a wide breath for artistic liberty.

It tells a love story instead of a Tuskegee Airmen story. It replaces drama with fx.

Walk away and dig up the HBO movie from the 90s.
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5/10
An Honest Review
28 January 2020
I rarely give things a 5. I usually just do a 1 or 10 and keep it simple...

... but this was the best sequel to The Exorcist they made, and that isn't really saying much. The second one was horrible and the ones that followed were horrible. In fact, I think they were so bad it was instantly remade.

But, this one was decent, it felt the most like an actual sequel to the Exorcist, it was unsettling, it was intelligent, it was pretty memorable in its own way. But it still was a bit too much, not underplayed enough to really feel like the one that started it all.

And, honestly, compared to what we have in the theaters today it is a great film
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Die Hard 2 (1990)
10/10
An Honest Review
26 January 2020
I was 10 in 1990, I loved Die Hard, and I hated Die Hard 2.

Now I'm 40 and I am rewatching this and.... compared to movies today it is pretty good. If this was made in 2020 it would be a 10 out of 10 star smash blockbusting hit that all of America raves about except the "everything is political all the time crowd."

But it didn't, it came out in 1990 and because of that it was a subpar sort of BS action movie that in no way lived up to the first one.

The thing is... I'm writing the review in 2020. Today it's a good movie if you compare it to most everything in the theaters today and especially to the new Die Hard movies.
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10/10
An Honest Review
26 January 2020
It is Top Gun on wheels isn't it? Only Maverick came across as more blue collar wild and Trickle is a little more California pretentious wild.

So it's kind of Top Gun only with Cary Elwes playing Val Kilmer.

It's kind of Top Gun only Robert Duvall plays Cobra.

It's kind of Top Gun but Nicole Kidman plays Kelly McGillis.

It's kind of Top Gun only with NASCAR instead of Tomcats.

You can't really fault this as a bad film, because it makes a promise to be a certain kind of film, and it keeps it's promise... and entertains while doing it.

So, if you are coming in thinking Chinatown.... what do you think you are watching?
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Darkman (1990)
10/10
An Honest Review
26 January 2020
This is interesting... this is one of those B-Movie gems that is packed full of pro-talent before they really became pro-talent. And that is right down to the Cohens who did uncredited script polishing.

This is worth the watch, even if you are one of those people that hates B-movies... wrongly hates.

And, it's a comic book movie, it is over the top, it is campy, it packs serious action into a short little plot that still manages to be compelling. The MCU could take lessons on story crafting from this.
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Class of 1999 (1990)
10/10
An Honest Review
26 January 2020
One of the reviewers here called this a "trashy and no brainer film" as he was praising it and... never was a truer word spoken. Especially since it was said in praise.

This is, honestly, the kind of movie I stayed up well past my bedtime, in the basement, to catch on HBO. This is 10 year-old boy bliss. This is made for those night owls that aren't looking for Chinatown, they are looking for mindless fun.

And what could be more mindless and fun than high school, robot teachers, and over-the-top street gangs in a post apocalyptic education system that, honestly, probably works more as an accurate satire today that it does pointless B-movie bliss.

Which leads me to the point in the review where I say, if you are going to give it a bad review because of the stupid plot or the lack of quality in the special effects, or the over-the-top story... what kind of movie did you think you were sitting down to watch?
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10/10
An Honest Review
26 January 2020
I am currently attempting to con my wife into watching this, not because it's a great movie, but because I know it's the kind of movie that she is going to laugh at and enjoy. It has that humor that people that are ESL can really pick up on without having to be an expert native speaker to follow the word play...

... but then again, she's actually gotten good enough with English that she's watching and enjoying Monty Python so, who knows if that still applies.

As I said, it's not a great film, but it is memorable, and memorable for it's dumb humor and brainless action alone that is personified by Gibson when he was at the top of his game for fun, dumb, and entertaining action/comedy flicks.

Historically we can call it a cult of personality, because, honestly, you are watching it strictly because of Gibson's personality and his sense of humor.

And mind you, this was before he did that thing... which he asked forgiveness for very publicly... and I personally don't see why people feel it's necessary to continue to beat a man after he made amends for a mistake.

Honestly, you're watching it and remembering it because it is a funny Gibson action comedy, and nothing more. Especially since he kind of outshines Hawn in the comedy department in this one, which is kind of shocking given that she can be pretty hysterical when she wants to. In this, however, I'm not sure she was really giving it her A game, or maybe she just sulked back to a co-star routine.

But, it doesn't claim to be anything more, it achieves it's goals, and it entertains.
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Air America (1990)
10/10
An Honest Review
26 January 2020
I have a special love for this film, if for no other reason that the bulk of my college experience was spent on the cold war, the alphabet soup of PBSUCCESS, MKULTRA, JMWAVE, PAPERCLIP, COLDFEET, MKOFTEN, The Phoenix Program, ARTICHOKE, and my favorite (just because of how bad it sounds) Midnight Climax.

So a comedy about Air America was absolutely priceless. And, given that I am not one of those history nuts that cares about historical accuracy I can still sit back and enjoy something like this. I mean, honestly, so long as it's not a complete and total re-write... Hollywood can take it's liberties and edit what happened for drama, because, really, it just means that now people have heard of Air America.

And, honestly, when you choose to study the Cold War, people tend to think you're a conspiracy nut when you mention things like this, PBSUCCESS, Russians assassinating people with radiation poisoning and umbrella guns...

... So when something like this comes along, it's like yes... now people won't think I'm as crazy as Alex Jones.

And, you know, it features a song from the Seeds (and any real punk fan is going to drool over that) along with one of the better, if down played, soundtracks from the Vietnam Era. So it certainly has the music win.

And it's Gibson kind of hamming it up and doing a slightly saner version of his Lethal Weapon self... if oddly pacifistic. And RDJR, fresh out of rehab, proving to the world that he is actually capable of being a great actor when he is sober.

What you have is kind of an action movie without a lot of violence, set in the middle of a war zone, and based off of one of our intelligence black eyes in a way that doesn't take it too seriously, isn't heavy-handed or pretentious, masks any preachiness in a fun story, and really gets the point across without having to be Alan Alda at his worst.

Plus, it's a movie about skullduggery that doesn't resort to the Mission:Impossible/James Bond high action tropes. So, in a way, it's kind of a spy movie done right and... turned into a comedy.
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10/10
An Honest Review
23 January 2020
Now look at this, someone made the Handmaid's Tale into something watchable. You know what the difference between this and the series is?

I'll give you a hint it's two things... do you have it yet?

Time and story. The TV show has FAR too many episodes, and each is far too long to tell a compelling story. The 1990 HBO version is only about 100 minutes. It's not dragged out to the point where it is filled to overflowing with, well, with filler. It delivers a clean and concise story that didn't spare a cut. And because of that it works.

But.... it also has Faye Dunaway, and it has Natasha Richardson, and it has Robert Duvall, and it has Aidan Quinn... and those are all people that everyone would be honored to cast, and they were certainly people that anyone would be thrilled to cast back in 1990.

So, what you have is a clean script that is void of unnecessary filler (and in the case of the TV series, free of painfully long unnecessary filler) and that script is acted out by some of the best people in the industry.

You can't ask for more.
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10/10
An Honest Review
23 January 2020
We had HBO when I was a kid, and a television with cable in the basement... and kids love basements. Time makes no sense in a basement. It's a totally different world down there and, with HBO and that whole latchkey thing, you could be down there into the early hours of the morning watching wonderful trash.

And this is really wonderful trash.

I mean, it IS a Roger Corman film, and those are known for being cheap B-movie fair of the most entertaining quality. Far better than Troma trash that never really seems to have actual talent.

But, this, well, it was 1990 and it had John Hurt, Raul Julia, Bridget Fonda, and Jason Patrick in it and that already felt like it was seriously pushing the boundaries of what qualifies as a Corman movie. Those are names anyone would be thrilled to cast.

And it looked good, OK, it looked a little 90s B, but there are certainly a lot of movies that look worse than this.

It was Frankenstein cast as kind of science-fiction more than horror, black holes and all, and that alone, is intriguing. I mean, when it was written it kind of walked that line and Frankenstein Unbound does a decent job of walking that line as well.

It's part traditional Frankenstein and part alternate reality post apocalyptic Frankenstein with a wild enough plot to keep the viewer entertained no matter how absurd it feels to write that, let alone read it.

It was 1990, honestly it SHOULD have received more of a showing than simply catching it on HBO late one Saturday when USA's Up All Night was showing something absolutely pathetic. It should have been a little more prime time, it is certainly good enough to carry that weight.
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Wicked City (1987)
10/10
An Honest Review
20 January 2020
There is enough back story to have made this into a cool quasi MIB supernatural series.

Instead what we got was a movie with a perverted little Yoda style sensi that was enjoyable enough to watch.

The problem was it all came and went too fast and it felt rushed and unfortunately in a way that leaves you wanting to explore that odd little universe more.
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