Big Man Japan – Size Matters week

In honor of the wonderful Valentine’s/Birthday/Father’s Day/Christmas present my wife gave me, I am featuring giant things this week. Big Man Japan (Dai-Nihonjin) is currently available on instant Netflix.

Big Man Japan

WATCH: Big Man Japan (2007) – Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and crude humor.

“In this hilarious mockumentary, middle-aged Daisato (Hitoshi Matsumoto) — a second-rate, third-generation superhero — annoys his neighbors with the noise and destruction he causes on the job. But a heroic public image is the least of his concerns. Besides defending Japan from bizarre monsters, he must deal with an agent seeking to brand him with ads, a superhero grandfather with Alzheimer’s and a family embarrassed by his incompetence.”

“I like that they only get big when you need them to.” (folding umbrellas)

“You sink of smoke” (Yes, sink)

He ran called the shots…” (Yes ran called)

I’m not sure if the botched subtitles are real or part of the joke.

The first twenty minutes are a documentary crew interviewing a boring loser. He is unutterably depressing and depressed. I’d wonder what the payoff was going to be but obviously the description gives it away. Just after the twenty-minute mark our subject, Daisato transforms into Big Man Japan.

We get a big fight scene. I did very much enjoy that Big Man really was just a Big Man with a stick.

Afterwards the documentary crew interviews people on the street until Big Man gradually becomes Daisato then we pick up where we left off. Rinse and repeat and you have the whole film.

There are jokes about sponsorship and merchandising but that is done far better by Greg Kinear in Mystery Men. I did like how the film crew interrupts the sacred ceremony and asks them to restart from “Yayyy” to get a better shot.

The humor in the film is exceptionally dry. Nothing is actually played for laughs even though it is clear that this was meant to be a comedy. There are no nods to the audience – the whole film stays in documentary mode throughout (except for the finale). The single word that comes to mind is surreal.

The creatures Big Man has to face are hysterically weird. To describe them would be to spoil some of the fun of the film. Big Man’s fight scenes are short and humorous.

The finale of the film morphs from a mockumentary to a really bad Japanese TV show. Trust me – even if you are going with the flow on this surreal film, when it hits this point you will definitely be going “What?!?”

Big Man Japan is presented on instant Netflix in HD with subtitles.

I recommend this film with some reservations. You will have to read subtitles and the reason to enjoy this film is how absolutely bizarre it is. It has a definite Japanese mindset to it and I’m not even sure I can say it’s fun. It is however different from anything you have ever seen.

People Watch: Takashi Miike favorite Riki Takeuchi (Battle Royale series, Dead or Alive series) appears as Haneru-no-ju. Also there is a lady who wears some absolutely fabulous dragon stockings in the film.

The Iron Giant – Size Matters week

In honor of the wonderful Valentine’s/Birthday/Father’s Day/Christmas present my wife gave me, I am featuring giant things this week. Today it is a giant robot. The Iron Giant is currently available on instant Netflix.

The Iron Giant

WATCH: The Iron Giant (1999) – Rated PG for fantasy action and mild language.

“In rustic 1957 Maine, 9-year-old Hogarth finds a colossal but disoriented robot (of unknown origin), and the two form a strong bond of friendship. Before long, however, a government agent is on their trail — and he’s intent on destroying the automaton. This beautifully rendered parable based on British poet Ted Hughes’ feted short story features the voices of Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel, Harry Connick Jr. and Cloris Leachman.”

“A peaceful stay at home kind of day in a town very much like your own but then, suddenly, without warning ATOMIC HOLOCAUST!” – Beginning of a duck and cover school film.

“This is espresso – it’s like coffeezilla.”

Director Brad Bird made this film after an eight year run as executive consultant on The Simpsons (among other things). He does an absolutely marvelous job here. Later he would go on to both write and direct The Incredibles and Ratatouille.

Bird’s most important accomplishment here is capturing a wonderful sense of nostalgia. Even though it’s for a different era (late 50s instead of 40s), the closest comparison for this film would be A Christmas Story. We have a lovable beatnik (shades of Maynard G. Krebs), a duck and cover school film, worry about Sputnik. The best one is a brief glimpse of a horror movie on TV (The Brain from Planet Arous).

The details are simply marvelous. The cars aren’t generic – there are representations of an Oldsmobile 98, Chevy Pickup, Chevy Fleetmaster and more. There is a scene echoing and lit like the classic Bambi. The headline in Dean’s newspaper is a double joke – not only does it foreshadow an event but it also echoes a scene in The Lady & The Tramp.

Bird also has a wonderful time with directorial flourishes not normally found in animated features. There is a wonderful scene where our government agent gets back in his car. The camera then pans over to reveal half the car is missing. A scene of Kent Mansley explaining things and pointing his finger in the air cuts to a scene of Hogarth in the same pose.

This is one of those, admittedly few, animated features that appeal just as much to adults as they do to children. Don’t be put off by the fact that this an animated movie. Like most good science fiction, this is a parable.

Vin Diesel (with some manipulation) provides a wonderful voice for the robot. Harry Connick Jr. is the voice of our beatnik, Dean McCoppin. Jennifer Aniston is our harried waitress mother, Annie Hughes. Even with all the big names, it is Eli Marienthal who has to carry the film as Hogarth Hughes and he does a very good job.

I highly recommend this classic science fiction story. Netflix is nice enough to present it not only in its original aspect ratio but also in HD.

People Watch: The marvelous character actor M. Emmet Walsh voices Earl Stutz.

Anaconda – Size Matters week

In honor of the wonderful Valentine’s/Birthday/Father’s Day/Christmas present my wife gave me, I am featuring giant things this week. Today it is a giant snake. Anaconda is currently available on instant Netflix.

Anaconda

PASS: Anaconda (1997) – Rated PG-13 for intense adventure violence, and for brief language and sensuality.

“When deranged snake hunter Paul Sarone (Jon Voight) tricks a filmmaking crew (Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube and Eric Stoltz) into taking him on their boat so he can hunt a giant anaconda, the group soon finds itself up the Amazon River without a paddle as they become prey for the reptile. With their captain incapacitated, the crew must battle not only the fearsome snake but the equally slimy, ruthless Sarone. Great cinematography marks this thriller.”

“Unique among snakes, they are not satisfied after eating a victim. They will regurgitate their prey in order to kill and eat again.”

As with most modern horror movies, the film opens with an attack. This attack is very well shot and conceived. It manages to be suspenseful without ever showing the titular Anaconda. Sadly the film goes downhill from there.

One of the many many problems the film has is with scale. One of the rubber/animatronic Anacondas is not the same size as the same CGI Anaconda. Of course they also don’t move in even close to the same manner.

Another problem the film has is a lack of understanding of snakes and Anacondas in particular. Yes Anacondas grow really big and yes they can swallow people (cattle for that matter). Once they eat a big meal like that they just lay around practically comatose for long periods while they digest. Also snakes don’t screech.

Then there is the matter of the other wildlife. There are no wild boars in the Amazon and rigor mortis does not set in immediately upon death. Wild monkeys are also usually not found tied to tree limbs. Hint: if you are going to do that, do not show closeups.

The most hysterical scene in the movie does not even a snake in it. At the 1 hour and 11 minute mark instead of another shot involving the boat leaving the waterfall, they simply play the shot backwards. Watch the waterfall in the background and you will see all the water leaping up the cliff. Talk about lazy cinematography.

Make no mistake – in spite of the impressive cast for a horror movie, this is the Jon Voight show. Jon Voight was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in 1970 for Midnight Cowboy and won the Oscar in 1979 for Coming Home. He has had two more Oscar nominations since – one in 1986 for Runaway Train and one in 2001 for Ali.

Unfortunately here Voight chooses to adopt a funny accent and overact outrageously. He appears at the 10 minute mark and dominates the film from that point straight through to the end. That said his performance has far more life in it than the rest of the cast.

Jennifer Lopez walks through her role here showing none of the verve or charisma she would show in the following year’s Out of Sight. Eric Stoltz is good as her love interest but is removed for much of the film. This leaves Ice Cube to play the other hero without the impediment of romantic entanglement. His performance is as bland as Lopez’s performance.

Backing them up in smaller parts are a pre-Armageddon/Zoolander Owen Wilson and, in a link to yesterday’s film, Kari Wuhrer as the expendable couple. Character actor Jonathan Hyde (Titanic) appears as a primadonna and Vincent Castellanos appears as a red shirt.

The tragic mistake this movie makes is that it isn’t scary and it isn’t funny. It’s merely mildly entertaining, mostly for Jon Voight’s performance, and I can’t really recommend it for that.

People Watch: One of my favorite character actors, Danny Trejo appears briefly as lunch, I mean a poacher.

Eight Legged Freaks – Size Matters week

In honor of the wonderful Valentine’s/Birthday/Father’s Day/Christmas present my wife gave me, I am featuring giants this week. Today it is giant spiders which admittedly my wife couldn’t watch. Eight Legged Freaks is currently available on instant Netflix.

Eight Legged Freaks

WATCH: Eight Legged Freaks (2002) – Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence, brief sexuality, and language.

“When a toxic waste spill near a small Arizona community causes spiders to mutate into rampaging arachnids the size of automobiles, it’s only a matter of time before the eight-legged freaks develop a taste for prey other than insects. David Arquette and Kari Wuhrer star as the duo that rallies the town’s defenses in director Ellory Elkayem’s affectionate send-up of the creature features of yesteryear.”

“They’re not aliens – they’re spiders”

As might be inferred by both the title and the two stars, Eight Legged Freaks does not take itself seriously. It is not intended to be a scary film or a straight out comedy. It comes across as a loving homage to the classic giant creature movies like Them! or Tarantula!

In a tie-in to yesterday’s film, Them! is shown on a TV in the background.

The film opens with the ubiquitous toxic waste accident. It then segues into a scene with the wonderfully creepy Tom Noonan (strangely uncredited) as Joshua, owner of the spider farm. This allows us to see all the different types of spiders (jumping, trap door, etc.) and their methods of attack prior to supersizing them.

Many of the fights are played for laughs. There is a cute off-camera fight between a cat and a giant spider that is shown in Looney Toons fashion as a series of drywall imprints. One of the bit plays dies on an organ donor poster.

Aurally the film is a treat as well. There is a wonderful and near constant use of the Itsy-Bitsy Spider theme throughout the movie. The spiders make all kinds of funny animal noises. My favorite is a bit involving a muzaked Strangers in the Night.

David Arquette is the same likable schmo here that he plays in the Scream series. Genre veteran Kari Wuhrer is the hot sheriff and love interest and actually acquits herself quite well. They make a cute couple.

All of the supporting cast paint their characters in broad strokes. Stand-up comedian Doug E. Doug has a lot of fun as a conspiracy nut while stand-up comedian Rick Overton plays Deputy Pete. Character actor Leon Rippy (Deadwood) hams it up as the slimeball mayor Wade.

Arac Attack is mentioned a few times in the film. This was the original title of the film. At some point someone felt that Arquette’s exclamation late in the film made a better title. Neither is a particularly good title – I wonder if this film would have done better if it had had a better title and perhaps a more high-profile star.

Netflix presents Eight Legged Freaks in high definition and it sure does look pretty. I recommend this tongue-in-cheek horror film because above all it is just plain goofy fun.

People Watch: I bet indie darling Scarlett Johansson wishes she could leave this off her resume. She appears as the Sheriff’s daughter.

Them! – Size Matters week

Woot! In light of a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift (in reality an early birthday/Father’s day gift), this is Size Matters week. I’m going to feature movies about things that are Giant! First up – Giant Ants! Them! is currently available on instant Netflix.

Them!

WATCH: Them! (1954) – NR – Not rated.

“The inhabitants of a small Southwestern town feel the fallout when radiation from bomb tests creates giant, mutant ants that descend on their community. Facing human extermination, a team of scientists scrambles to figure out how to stop “them.” Filled with creepy creatures large and small, this 1954 sci-fi spectacular is one of the most influential horror films of all time — and also captures America’s mood at the dawn of the Atomic Age.”

“It’s getting pretty late Doctor.” – “Later than you think”

“We may be witnesses to a biblical prophecy come true.”

Okay I have to admit that even now, more than 3 decades after I’d first watched this, the ant sounds are still creepy. Yes the giant ant models are completely goofy but the rest of the film is very well done.

The film begins wonderfully with the discovery of a young traumatized girl wandering the desert. After rescuing our mute survivor, the police discover a few structures completely destroyed with no other survivors.

Them! makes great use of wind-swept desert terrain. Obscured terrain only heightens the suspense. This suspense is wonderfully generated until almost the half hour mark.

Unfortunately for you people spoiled by special effects (i.e. young whippersnappers) that is the point at which the first of the giant ants is shown. The ant models are elaborate but they look completely wacky.

James (Gunsmoke) Arness and James (The Shawshank Redemption) Whitmore are our stalwart heroes. While there is a height difference, the tough guy acting styles and stern faces are so similar that  they look very striking together, particularly a scene where they are both shown in profile.

Edmond Gwenn is our resident scientist. He’s not mad because it was ATOMIC TESTING that caused our mutant ants. Joan Weldon plays his daughter and is also a scientist. Those are actually wool suits that they are wearing in the desert. According to Joan, the temperature got up to 110 degrees and it was practically unbearable.

If you don’t mind the cheesy looking ants then I highly recommend this classic science fiction movie. What really makes this film work is that it is filmed as a mystery movie and the parts without the ants work very well. The picture quality from Netflix is quite good.

People Watch: There are two great TV cameos here. First, there’s a blink and you’ll miss him Leonard (Spock) Nimoy appearing as an Air Force Sergeant. Second, a pre-Daniel Boone/Davy Crockett Fess Parker plays Alan Crotty.

Walt Disney watched the film to assess James Arness for the part of Davy Crockett. He ended up choosing Fess Parker after seeing Them!

While James Arness didn’t end up playing Davy Crockett, he later played James Bowie (opposite Brian Keith as Davy Crockett) in The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory.

The Day of the Triffids – Nature Gone Wild! week

Well it’s time to wrap up Nature Gone Wild! week. The Day of the Triffids is currently available on instant Netflix.

The Day of the Triffids

WATCH: The Day of the Triffids (1981) – NR – Not rated.

“A brilliant meteor shower blinds most of the population, making them vulnerable to attack by triffids: ambulatory, carnivorous plants accidentally freed from a lab. Still able to see, Bill Masen (John Duttine) and Jo Payton (Emma Relph) team up to fight the menace. As they discover more sighted survivors, they find that civilization is crumbling around them from the triffid attack. This chilling BBC miniseries is based on John Wyndham’s book.”

“…And if you want to quibble, communicates, that means somewhere inside it is intelligence.”

John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids was first adapted as an entertaining, if some what disjointed, movie in 1962. While it bore little resemblance to the source novel, it was a fun monster movie.

In the 1962 film they goofed filming the main story and made it too short. Normally this would necessitate some reshoots. Instead they went back and shot a whole, mostly unrelated, subplot with new characters.

Pardon the digression. The BBC decided to do an adaptation in 1981. Please note that while this is a BBC science fiction show, it is not silly like Doctor Who. Even if the premise is a bit absurd, the science fiction is quite serious.

As with most good science fiction, this show is only superficially about its main plot (in this case the Triffids). The core of the show is about the breakdown of society and societal norms in the face of a crisis.

If you have seen Danny Boyle’s excellent 28 Days Later then you might be surprised at how many of his ideas appear to have come from this miniseries (or perhaps from the source novel).

The acting is just fine. It is a typical BBC ensemble piece – no one here is showy or especially noteworthy but neither is anyone off their mark.

Designer Douglas Burd came up with a nicely haunting and somewhat trippy title sequence. He died during production when his homemade plane crashed.

Unfortunately with the story broken up into less than 30 minutes chunks, repeatedly sitting though the credits becomes quite annoying. It would have been nice to have edited mid-story credits and recaps out to bring in a nice two hour run-time (as was done with Felicia Day’s series, the Guild).

That aside I found this to be an excellent meditation on politics and society. I recommend this miniseries.

Last year the BBC again remade this as a miniseries. The new version stars Eddie Izzard, Brian Cox, Vanessa Redgrave and Dougray Scott. Hopefully that will be available stateside sometime this year.

People Watch: British TV fans will notice Maurice Colbourne (Jack Coker) as Tom Howard from the series Howard’s Way.

The Swarm – Nature Gone Wild! week

This is Nature Gone Wild! week. The Swarm is currently available on instant Netflix.

The Swarm

AVOID: The Swarm – NR – Not rated. The theatrical version was rated PG and this version adds more content but as near as I could tell not more objectionable material.

“Entomologist Brad Crane (Michael Caine) and his crack team of scientists attempt to intervene when swarms of voracious killer bees begin attacking a number of cities in Texas, and an army general (Richard Widmark) threatens to use military firepower against this force of nature. This doomsday epic buzzes with an all-star cast, including Katharine Ross, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia de Havilland, Fred MacMurray and Henry Fonda.”

“I never dreamed it would turn out to be the bees. They’ve always been our friend.”

“We have been invaded, by an enemy far more lethal than any human force.”

“Until we have destroyed the African bee. Or it has destroyed us.”

As you may have noticed I have rated this AVOID as any sane person should. However I must admit to having enjoyed the stupidity of this film immensely. This is a great big slice of 70s cheese and boy does it stink.

The plot holes practically define the film so this must be Swiss cheese. Right off the bat the military discovers Dr. Crane in the middle of the command center of a semi-secret military base. He has been following the bees and claims he just walked right in after everyone was killed off.

Later Dr. Crane needs some specimens of the swarm which is somewhat odd since he is right there in the base where the swarm killed everyone. Are you telling me the base was wiped out and then the bees carried away their dead?

Later still Jud Hawkins (Slim Pickens) arrives and threatens to shut off the water to the base if he doesn’t get to see his son. Rather than detain him, General Slater figures that they’d better do what he says. What?!? Of course I’m glad they did because one of the most hilarious scenes in the film is Slim Pickens crying over the Hefty bag his son is in.

Crane has one bee to work with. Seriously one bee and they have a room full of body-bagged soldiers. Did anyone read the script before they filmed this?

As they’re playing back the surveillance tapes, you can clearly hear the swarm. Dr. Crane asks, ‘what’s that?’ so I tell him it’s the swarm obviously – where did you get your PhD? in a box of crackerjack?

Three boys go out hunting for the bees. They find them just out of town swarming everywhere. There is no mistaking them but one of the boys needs to use his binoculars to see what is filling the whole screen.

Still later Crane figures out that the bees showed up at the base less than 30 seconds after the base tested a siren. Earlier they indicated that the swarm was traveling at 7 miles an hour. Alright I’ll let you do the math but that pretty much means the bees had to be on the base already.

Crane sees three clouds of bees – all three are headed in completely different directions and Crane says the bees are headed straight for Marysville. That’s okay though because while the bees have no problem wiping out an underground military base, they seem to have difficulty getting into buildings.

They take the survivors of Marysville and pack them all on a train. I’d tell you what happens next but I have to stop with the ridiculous plot now before I get into spoilers. I imagine you  can guess though.

The cast is absolutely first rate even if they don’t put in good performances. Michael Caine headlines the scientists and really chews up the scenery. Henry Fonda and Richard Chamberlain appear as scientists. The townspeople are played by Fred MacMurray (his last film), Olivia de Havilland, Ben Johnson, and Slim Pickens. The military is represented by Richard Widmark, Katharine Ross, and Bradford Dillman.

The theatrical version was 116 minutes – this is the extended version and runs a whopping 155 minutes. The extra time is not kind to this film – it makes it seem to go on forever. Netflix has also brought this in a nice widescreen ratio so you can properly appreciate this disaster.

Unless you have a taste for truly terrible movies, avoid this movie. Please note: while this film worked fine on my computer, it was glitchy on my Roku box about 37 minutes in. Inexplicably this movie was actually nominated for an Oscar for Best Costume Design.

People Watch: Jose Ferrer appears briefly as Dr. Andrews and Cameron Mitchell plays General Thompson.

Earthquake – Nature Gone Wild! week

This is Nature Gone wild! week. Earthquake is currently available on instant Netflix.

Earthquake

PASS: Earthquake (1974) – Rated PG.

“Academy Award winners Charlton Heston and George Kennedy star in this 1974 box office blockbuster. When a massive earthquake hits Los Angeles, construction engineer Stewart Graff (Heston) must try to rescue his father-in-law boss, Sam Royce (Lorne Greene), who’s trapped in his own building. Meanwhile, tough cop Lew Slade (Kennedy) and motorcycle daredevil Miles Quade (Richard Roundtree) are fighting for their lives.”

“Earthquakes bring out the worst in some people.”

Earthquake is co-written by Mario Puzo. Puzo not only wrote The Godfather and Godfather II but also Superman and Superman II. While Mario Puzo is clearly capable of writing Oscar caliber scripts, this is not one of them. The individual stories are terribly written.

The main story involves a love triangle between Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, and Genevieve Bujold. It is quite fun to see Ava Gardner hurling venom at Charlton Heston throughout the movie.

When I first saw Remy Royce-Graff (Ava Gardner, 52 in 1974) castigating her husband Stewart Graff (Heston, 51), I was a little relieved and surprised that Heston’s wife was about his age. Shortly after that Stewart goes to see Denise Marshall and sure enough she’s played by attractive 32 year old Genevieve Bujold.

George Kennedy apparently felt he wasn’t macho enough in the Airport series of movies so here he is a cop who *gasp* doesn’t play by the rules. When he parodies this character later in Police Squad, it isn’t much different. There is even a police car point of view chase early in the film eerily similar to Police Squad.

Richard Roundtree (Shaft can you dig it?) plays a heroic Evel Knievel-type character. Strangely they mention that he has a girlfriend who is never shown. My guess is they wanted to attract urban audiences of the time while at the same time playing it safe in the heartland.

I will say that all the unique 70s hair and clothing styles do tend to distract from the proceedings. Dallas fans will have a hard time recognizing Victoria Principal as a tight T-shirted poodle haired brunette.

Earthquake does not make the mistake that Killer Wave made. The Earthquake is front and center. There are minor tremors shown early on that cause a few strategic casualties. The big event hits about the halfway mark and is quite a showpiece. The Earthquake portions of the film are quite entertaining.

Earthquake won Oscars for Best Sound and Special Achievement Award for Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Art Direction – Set Decoration. Cinematography is hard to judge given the butchering of the film (see below).

I understand that Netflix can’t supply this movie in Sensurround! (the shake your seats audio provided in some theaters for this film and Midway) but it would have been nice to see this in its original aspect ratio (2.2:1). Netflix appears to have acquired a Pan and Scan/Full screen version.

The drama here is so overwrought as to be fun in a perverse way but I still can’t recommend watching this unless, like me, you automatically have to see any disaster movie.

People Watch: Walter Matthau (billed here as Walter Matuschanskayasky) is hilarious as a drunk. His outfit should have won an Academy Award by itself.

The Ghost and the Darkness – Nature Gone Wild! week

This week is Nature Gone Wild! week. The Ghost and the Darkness is currently available on instant Netflix.

The Ghost and the Darkness

WATCH: The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) – Rated R for some violence and gore involving animal attacks.

“While working for a railroad baron (Tom Wilkinson) in colonial Uganda, engineer John Patterson (Val Kilmer) finds his construction efforts stymied by a series of lion attacks. After more than 100 workers die, grizzled hunter Charles Remington (Michael Douglas) is called in to head the increasingly desperate effort to kill the animals. Based on a true story, director Stephen Hopkins’s thriller recounts an archetypal case of man vs. beast.”

“Lions don’t do this. Lions never had a lair like this. They’re doing it for the pleasure.”

“Of course you will. You’re white. You can do anything.”

The movie starts with a voice-over indicating that “even the most impossible parts of the story really happened.” This is funny because while it is based on a true story and comes closer to the truth than the previous version, Bwana Devil (1952 – in 3D!), the character of Remington is complete fiction.

This movie is based on Lt. Colonel John Henry Patterson’s memoirs, The Man-Eaters of Tsavo. Unfortunately the only accounts of the killings were those written by Patterson and of course he is quite the hero in his story.

The topic of the Great White Hunter is not very politically correct of course. The thought of the smart white man coming to save the defenseless natives makes me wince. Thankfully the movie plays with this stereotype as Patterson quickly kills a lion and struts through the camp. The very next scene has a nice lion discussion with a native.

Tom Wilkinson is an absolute delight as Robert Beaumont, Patterson’s boss. His attitude towards Patterson and problems in general seem to be spot on for a British master of the world. Bernard Hill is stately as the somewhat anachronistic Dr. Hawthorne.

As must be expected, there are many absolutely marvelous shots of Africa. There is a wonderful shot of a lion reflected in Angus’ glasses. I thought it was a nice directorial touch to show that there were Indian laborers used by the British as well as the natives.

I really enjoyed this picture even though it is hard for me to figure out its target audience. This is not an examination of British imperialism, though this is touched upon. Neither is it a celebration of British imperialism. It doesn’t fit squarely into horror or action either.

With the addition of a major character that didn’t exist, the authenticity of the true story is somewhat marred. Michael Douglas is wonderful as Remington and makes a good counterpoint to Val Kilmer’s stiff upper lip performance as Patterson.

I do like to recommend films where you won’t find another similar film. That is the case here and I do recommend this film. It is good but far from perfect. There are a number of lines that may make you groan but overall a good story.

People Watch: Henry Cele (Shaka from Shaka Zulu) appears all too briefly here as Mahina.

Killer Wave – Nature Gone Wild! week

This is Nature Gone Wild! week. Killer Wave is currently available on instant Netflix.

Killer Wave

AVOID: Killer Wave (2006) – Rated TV14.

“When the East Coast is devastated by a series of massive tidal waves, scientists John McAdams (Angus Macfadyen) and Sophie Marleau (Karine Vanasse) are brought in to investigate. Determining the waves have been purposely triggered, the pair uncovers a deadly global conspiracy. Bruce McDonald directs this dramatic thriller co-starring Tom Skerritt and Stephen McHattie.”

Talk. Talk. Talk. Bad Special Effects. Talk. Talk. Talk. Bad Special Effects. Talk. Talk. Talk. Bad Special Effects.

I think you get the picture. This isn’t so much bad as it is mind-numbingly boring and I’m saying that as someone who loves disaster movies. The networks know that the disaster formula is popular and keeps churning out increasingly bad miniseries. This one has barely any disaster in it.

A rogue scientist (seriously is there such a thing?) lives isolated and alone. He writes novels involving spies, setups, and weather machines. He then is setup to take the fall for an evil corporation profiting off the disasters caused by an evil weather machine.

I’m sure the writers were quite proud of their meta-concept. Unfortunately there is no suspense at all in their story. None of the characters are even remotely believable, although they take great pains to provide endless backstory for almost every one.

The acting is just fine. There are no big names (usually a staple of the genre). Angus MacFadyen (Robert the Bruce in Braveheart) is completely wasted as the star. He is a good actor but there is nothing for him to work with. The other acting is just fine (from the major players) but nothing to write about.

The real disaster of this miniseries is that there is almost no disaster in it. There are only a few shots of the eponymous Killer Wave even though it strikes numerous times. The ‘science’ is just dreadful. Basically there is no payoff for sitting through all the boring stuff.

The only good thing I can say about this, if you must see it, is that you won’t have to sit through an hour of commercials to watch this three hour miniseries. Honestly though I’d just pass – you won’t get those three hours back. I know that I won’t.

People Watch: Look for Christopher Heyerdahl (Bigfoot on Sanctuary, Marcus in Twilight: New Moon) as Stanley Schiff.