Saturday, March 31, 2012

"For Your Eyes Only" (1981)

Starring Roger Moore, Julian Glover and Carole Bouquet
Written by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson
Directed by John Glen
Rated PG - Violence, sex
Running Time: 127 Minutes

A British spy boat carrying a special missile targeting computer is sunk.  The British government hires a marine archaeologist named Havelock to locate it, but Havelock (Jack Hedley) and his wife are murdered by a Cuban hitman named Gonzalez (Stephan Kalipha).  James Bond (Roger Moore) is assigned to track down Gonzalez and then find the sunken boat before the Russians can get their hands on the technology within.

Before he can question Gonzalez, the hitman is murdered by Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), out for revenge for the murder of her parents.  Bond and Melina escape from Gonzalez' men, but Bond is out of leads until he identifies a guest at Gonzalez' compound - another hitman named Locque (Michael Gothard).  Tracking Locque, Bond travels to Italy where he meets a man named Kristatos (Julian Glover) who has information about Locque's plans and associates.

But Bond suspects something more is afoot when Melina arrives in Italy as well, claiming to have received a telegraph from Bond asking to meet him.  With KGB assassins on their trail, Bond and Melina must figure out who they can trust, find the sunken ship and retrieve the missing computer.

"Live and Let Die" (1973)

Starring Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto and Jane Seymour
Written by Tom Mankiewicz
Directed by Guy Hamilton
Rated PG - Violence, sex, language
Running Time: 121 Minutes

When three British agents are murdered in the United States and the Caribbean, James Bond (Roger Moore) is sent to New York to investigate.  Before he can meet with his CIA contact and old friend Felix Leiter (David Hedison), an assassin attempts to take him out, and the trail leads Bond to a chain of restaurants called the Fillet of Soul.

These restaurants are a front for a major drug operation run by a gangster and kingpin known as Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto).  Bond soon meets Solitaire (Jane Seymour), the virginal fortune teller who reads Tarot for Mr. Big.  She warns him of coming danger and helps him keep his massive drug running schemes out of trouble with the law.  Mr. Big tries again to kill Bond, who escapes, and trails Big to the Caribbean island of San Monique, the headquarters of his drug ring.

With the help of Quarrel Jr. (Roy Stewart) and eventually Solitaire, Bond must destroy Mr. Big's heroin operation before he can seize control of the drug trade in the United States.

Friday, March 30, 2012

"You Only Live Twice" (1967)

Starring Sean Connery, Mie Hama and Donald Pleasance
Written by Roald Dahl
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Rated PG - Violence, sex
Running Time: 117 Minutes

After an American space rocket is attacked by a mysterious spacecraft, the American government naturally blames the Russians.  The British government, on the other hand, isn't convinced and sends Agent 007, James Bond (Sean Connery) to Japan to track this strange craft.

He meets with an agent Henderson (Charles Gray) who is murdered before he can impart important information to Bond, and Bond tracks the assassin to the headquarters of a major Japanese chemical company, which he discovers has been manufacturing rocket fuel for whoever it is that is responsible for the missing American space craft.

With the Russians and the United States inching closer to war over the incident, Bond must survive assassination attempts from his old nemesis SPECTRE, discover the location of the enemy rocket and stop it before another attack leads to war.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"21 Jump Street" (2012)

Starring Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Dave Franco
Written by Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Rated R - Violence, language, drug use
Trailer (Red Band)

In high school, Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) hated each other.  Schmidt was a loser and Jenko was the popular jock.  Years later, the two bump into each other again as they're entering the police academy and discover that they need each others' help.  Schmidt helps Jenko with the written and academic parts while Jenko helps Schmidt with the physical fitness requirements.  Soon enough, the two become the best of friends, graduate and are put on park duty where then run afoul of some suspected drug dealers.

After making their first arrest, they're upset to learn that the charges were dropped because Jenko and Schmidt decided to hump and taunt the suspect instead of reading him his rights.  To get rid of them, their captain transfers them to a special undercover unit on Jump Street run by the angry Captain Dickson (Ice Cube).  The two are sent undercover to a nearby high school as two brothers to investigate a new drug called HFS (Holy Fucking Shit) after a student ODs and dies.

On their first day, Jenko gets in trouble for punching a gay black student while trying to prove that he's cool, and accidentally screws up their identities with the principal.  Now dumb Jenko is forced to take AP chemistry while Schmidt has to take drama and join the track team while they investigate just who is dealing the drugs, and ultimately discover who the supplier is and make the bust without breaking their cover.  But all the while, the relationship between Schmidt and Jenko is breaking down as Schmidt becomes the popular kid on campus while Jenko's outdated ideas about what is cool put him on the outs with everyone except a couple of geeks from his chemistry class.  Ultimately, these two will have to finish the case, save the girl and stop the bad guys, if they can stop bickering and finally prove themselves as competent officers of the law.

Friday, March 23, 2012

'Breakout Kings' Season One (2011)

Starring Laz Alonso, Domenick Lombardozzi and Jimmi Simpson
Created by Nick Santora and Matt Olmsted

I was originally enamored with the first season of Fox's 'Prison Break' when that show premiered.  As its quality dropped off considerably and quickly, I lost track of it, though I was aware that some sort of spinoff was in the works. That eventually became 'Breakout Kings.'

U.S. Marshals Charlie Duchamp (Laz Alonso) and Ray Zancanelli (Domenick Lombardozzi) have an unusual proposal for a fugitive task force: to use talented convicts to help catch other convicts who escape from prison.  In exchange, these convicts get a month off their lengthy sentences for each convict they help put back behind bars.

For this team, Duchamp and Zancanelli collect a handful of cons with unique abilities.  Shea Daniels (Malcolm Goodwin) is a former gang leader with all kinds of inside scoop and connections within the prison system as well as the criminal underworld along the East Coast.  Erica Reed (Serinda Swan) is a former bounty hunter doing a rap for gun charges, though she's suspected in the murders of several men who killed her father.  Finally, Dr. Lloyd Lowery (Jimmi Simpson) is a highly intelligent former professor of behavioral psychology who was convicted of writing prescriptions in order to cover his massive gambling debts.  Also on the team is young Julianne Simms (Brooke Nevin) who washed out of the Marshals academy, but was rescued from obscurity by her mentor Zancanelli, who still thinks she can make a great contribution to law and order.

Together this strange group will figure out the next move of each escaped convict, track them down, and allow Duchamp and Zancanelli to make the arrests.  The only problem is that none of them really quite trust each other.  And if one of them runs, then they all go back to prison ... with their sentences doubled.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Stargate: Continuum" (2008)

Starring Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping and Daniel Shanks
Written by Brad Wright
Directed by Martin Wood
Not Rated - Violence, language
Running Time: 94 Minutes

The members of SG-1, Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder), Lt. Col. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Teal'c (Christopher Judge), Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) and Vala Mal Doran (Claudia Black) are invited to the homeworld of their allies the Tok'Ra to witness the execution of the alien warlord Ba'al (Cliff Simon).  While there, Ba'al boasts of a failsafe plan that will mean the end of SG-1 and the planet Earth.

Soon enough, people and buildings on the Tok'Ra world begin to disappear into thin air.  Determine to escape, Mitchell, Carter and Jackson dial the Stargate back to Earth, but when they arrive they find that time itself has been altered. In this alternate timeline, Colonel Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) finds the three surviving members lost in the arctic and brings them back to the United States where they discover that Daniel is a discredited wackjob of an archaeologist, Mitchell shouldn't exist at all, and Carter's double was killed in a space shuttle accident years earlier.

Unwilling to risk changing the timeline once more, the military separates the three and sets them up with new lives and identities in different parts of the country.  But a year later, Ba'al reappears with a massive fleet of alien ships in orbit of Earth.  With the alternate versions of Teal'c and Vala as his servants, he plans to conquer the planet and split up its territories among the other Goa'uld System Lords.  But having been warned by SG-1, the President (William Devane) knows Ba'al's promises of peace are lies.  He sends Mitchell, Carter and Jackson on a mission to retrieve a powerful weapon capable of defending the Earth from Ba'al before it's too late.  But SG-1 knows that the only way to save Earth is to revert the timeline back to how things are supposed to be, which may prove impossible.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"Stargate: The Ark of Truth" (2008)

Starring Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping and Michael Shanks
Written and directed by Robert C. Cooper
Not Rated - Language, violence
Running Time: 102 Minutes

After being unceremoniously canceled just after it's 200th episode, the long-running sci-fi TV series "Stargate SG-1" turned to the realm of home video to conclude its ongoing storylines.

As the armies of the Ori ravage the galaxy, subjugating or killing all who oppose their religious doctrine, Colonel Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder), Colonel Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Teal'c (Christopher Judge), Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) and Vala Mal Doran (Claudia Black) search for an Ancient artifact known as the Ark of Truth in the ruins of the planet Dakara.  Soon enough, they are set upon by Ori soldiers led by Tomin (Tim Guinee), Vala's husband.  After managing to kill a Prior of the Ori, Tomin is convinced to switch sides and help SG-1 defend the galaxy by finding the Ark.

SG-1, along with Tomin and an IOA representative named Merrick (Currie Graham) use the Earth starship Odyssey to travel to the Ori galaxy and seek out the Ark.  But once there, Merrick reveals his true mission: to infect the Ori galaxy with a technological menace called the Replicators.  While Mitchell and Carter attempt to stop Merrick's deluded plan, Daniel, Vala, Teal'c and Tomin must locate the Ark and convince the followers of the Ori to stop their deadly plans for conquest.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977)

Starring Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, and Curd Jurgens
Written by Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Rated PG - Violence, sex
Running Time: 125 Minutes

When nuclear submarines belonging to both the Russian and British navies begin to disappear, both superpowers begin to suspect the other.  Mi6 receives intelligence that someone has developed the technology to track submarines under water using their wake, and M (Bernard Lee) assigns 007 James Bond (Roger Moore) to purchase plans for the technology, which are on sale to the highest bidder.

At the same time, the Russians have assigned their best agent, gorgeous Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), also known as agent XXX, to do the same.  But upon discovering that a mysterious third party is responsible for the missing submarines, Bond and XXX team up to find out who is responsible.  The two eventually figure out that Bond recently killed XXX's lover, and she vows to kill him as soon as this mission is completed.

Their relationship strained, the two make their way to Sardinia, where they will find that the mastermind behind the disappearing submarines is one Carl Stromberg (Curd Jurgens), a reclusive businessman who believes that humanity has become corrupt and must be wiped from the face of the Earth in order to allow the planet to recover.

Bond and XXX must find a way to stop Stromberg's mad plans to trigger a nuclear war between the superpowers in order to save civilization as we know it without killing each other first!

Monday, March 12, 2012

"A View to a Kill" (1985)

Starring Roger Moore, Christopher Walken and Grace Jones
Written by Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum
Directed by John Glen
Rated PG - Violence, language, sex
Running Time: 131 Minutes

James Bond (Roger Moore) is ambushed in Siberia while searching for the body of 003, hoping to recover a missing microchip.  After escaping, MI6 learns that the KGB have obtained closely-guarded technology for creating microchips resistant to the effects of an electromagnetic pulse.  Bond is assigned to uncover the leak in Zorin Industries, maker of the chip, and discovers that it may be Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) himself.

While investigating Zorin, Bond comes across an assassin named May Day (Grace Jones) who appears to be tying up loose ends.  Bond travels to France where Zorin is selling horses bred in his stables, and Zorin discovers Bond is getting close to his operation, and tries to have him killed.  Bond escapes, and follows Zorin to the United States, where he discovers that Zorin plans to destroy Silicon Valley by setting off explosives underneath two nearby fault lines.

Also trying to stop Zorin is the lovely geologist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) who wants revenge on Zorin for stealing and ruining her family's company.  Together with Sutton, Bond must stop Zorin's evil plans before it decimates the west coast of the United States and gains a monopoly on computer microchip production.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Die Another Day" (2002)

Starring Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry and Toby Stephens
Written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade
Directed by Lee Tamahori
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language, sex
Running Time: 133 Minutes

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is betrayed and captured while attempting to assassinate a corrupt North Korean colonel. Imprisoned and tortured for over a year, Bond is only released after a Korean terrorist named Zao (Rick Yune) attempts to blow up a summit between China and North Korea, and word is leaked that Bond may have leaked info to the North Koreans.

Knowing he's been set up, Bond escapes MI6 and tracks Zao to Cuba where he meets the beautiful and dangerous NSA agent Jinx (Halle Berry) who has come to the island to assassinate the head of a mysterious gene clinic where Zao is receiving a DNA transplant to give him a new identity.  Bond learns that Zao was paying for his treatment with stolen African conflict diamonds, which he tracks back to London to a popular but mysterious entrepreneur named Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens).

Graves and his assistant Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) are impressed with Bond, and arrange for him to attend a demonstration of Graves' new satellite technology, ICARUS.  When M (Judi Dench) learns that Bond has become involved with Graves, she brings him back into the agency to uncover just what ICARUS is, and Graves' true plans.  Bond discovers that Frost is also an MI6 agent who has been unable to learn what Graves is up to.

But what Bond discovers about Graves and ICARUS could have disastrous consequences for the entire world.  And Bond still hasn't discovered the identity of the traitor who gave him away to the North Koreans...

Friday, March 9, 2012

"Batman & Robin" (1997)

Starring George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman
Written by Akiva Goldsman
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language, sexual themes
Running Time: 125 minutes

This movie sucks.

Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O'Donnell) are called to the Gotham Museum, which is under attack by the villainous Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger).  Freeze is stealing the largest diamonds he can find in order to power the suit that keeps him cold and alive, as well as his ultimate weapon, a 'freezing engine'.  Or whatever.

Meanwhile, in some random South American laboratory, weirdo scientist Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) has been experimenting with creating plant/animal hybrids... or whatever.  Her lab partner, Dr. Woodrue, has used her research to create Venom, a super-steroid he plans to sell to the highest bidder.  He experiments on a local prisoner and creates Bane (Jeep Swenson), a massive, overly muscled, monosyllabic henchman.  ...or whatever.

After Woodrue tries to kill her with the Venom, Isley transforms into Poison Ivy, a sultry half-woman/half-plant (or whatever), kills Woodrue and takes Bane on a trip to Gotham to destroy Bruce Wayne.

Yada yada yada, Alfred (Michael Gough) is dying, his niece Barbara (Alicia Silverstone) shows up for some reason, Batman and Robin start bickering like dicks, and eventually there's some bullshit about freezing the entire planet and replacing people with plants.

Or whatever.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Licence to Kill" (1989)

Starring Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell and Robert Davi
Written by Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum
Directed by John Glen
Rated PG-13 - Violence, drug content
Running Time: 133 Minutes

While en route to his friend Felix Leiter's (David Hedison), James Bond (Timothy Dalton) helps Leiter apprehend a dangerous drug lord named Sanchez (Robert Davi).  But Sanchez soon escapes after bribing a DEA agent, and sends his men after Leiter.  Bond finds Leiter's wife dead, and Leiter himself half-eaten by a shark and barely alive.

Bond wants revenge, but his superiors at MI6 won't allow him to pursue Sanchez.  Bond hands in his resignation and decides to do it himself.  He begins to unravel Sanchez' drug running operation in Florida, run by a man named Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe) who runs a research lab as a cover for the drugs, and steals $5 million in cash from Sanchez' latest shipment.

Bond hooks up with ex-CIA pilot Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) who helps him get into the Republic of Isthmus.  There, using the $5 million he stole from Sanchez, he works to infiltrate Sanchez' operation, framing Krest as a traitor to gain Sanchez' trust.  When Bond's first attempt to kill Sanchez gets him captured, he finds himself alone on the inside and in a unique position to not only get revenge for his friend, but to take down a massive worldwide drug organization.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"GoldenEye" (1995)

Starring Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean and Izabella Scorupco
Written by Michael France, Jeffrey Caine, Kevin Wade and Bruce Feirstein
Directed by Martin Campbell
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language, sex
Running Time: 130 Minutes

Just before the fall of the Soviet Union, 007 James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) and 006 Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) infiltrate a Soviet chemical weapons plant, tasked with destroying it.  When 006 is captured by the Soviet colonel Ourumov (Gottfried John), Bond destroys the building with him inside it, and makes a daring escape.

Years later, the mysterious leader of a terrorist organization known as Janus sends Ouromov and sexpot assassin Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) to steal a new stealth helicopter from the French navy.  The two then use the helicopter to breach a Russian satellite weapons facility where they steal a secret weapon codenamed GoldenEye.  The only survivors are a lovely young computer programmer, Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) and the traitorous Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming), who helped Ouromov and Onatopp steal the weapon.

M (Judi Dench) sets Bond on the trail of the missing GoldenEye, which takes him deep in to the heart of Russian territory.  But when Bond discovers that Janus is none other than his long thought dead friend and former partner, Alec Trevelyan, who knows all of Bond's moves and has all the same training but none of the rules and ethics, Bond realizes this is one enemy that will not be so simple to defeat.  Bond must take on his friend with the fate of the world's economy and civilization hanging in the balance.

"The World is Not Enough" (1999)

Starring Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau and Robert Carlyle
Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Bruce Feirstein
Directed by Michael Apted
Rated PG-13 - Violence, sexual themes
Running Time: 128 Minutes

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is injured when an assassin commits suicide rather than be captured after oil magnate Sir Robert King is murdered within the walls of MI6 headquarters.  Convincing his superiors he's fit for duty, 007 takes the assignment to protect King's daughter Elektra (Sophie Marceau) from a terrorist named Renard (Robert Carlyle) who had kidnapped her years previous.

M (Judi Dench) assigned 009 to kill Renard, but the bullet didn't kill the man.  Instead, it burrowed deep into Renard's brain, where it has numbed all his senses.  Renard is impervious to pain, making him even more dangerous.  While protecting Elektra, Bond begins to fall for her, even as he begins to suspect that something is not quite right with her.  He infiltrates her organization, and discovers that Renard is planning on stealing a nuclear bomb from a decommissioning site in Kazakhstan.

He hooks up with a nuclear physicist, Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards), and discovers that Elektra is actually in league with Renard.  Elektra kidnaps M, and Bond and Christmas must travel to Istanbul to rescue M and stop Renard from destroying the West's access to precious oil.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"The Living Daylights" (1987)

Starring Timothy Dalton, Joe Don Baker and Maryam d'Abo
Written by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson
Directed by John Glen
Rated PG - Violence, sexual themes
Running Time: 131 Minutes

James Bond (Timothy Dalton) takes a mission to help a KGB agent named Georgi Koskov (Art Malik) defect to the West.  Bond performs sniper overwatch, but when he sees the enemy sniper, his instincts tell him something is wrong.  That sniper is Kara Milovy (Maryam d'Abo), a talented cellist and definitely not a professional sniper.  He merely wounds her, then smuggles Koskov back to Britain.

Koskov informs British Intelligence in his debriefing about a new Russian program to assassinate all enemy spies, which could lead to open war between the Soviets and the West.  Soon after, Koskov is kidnapped from his British safe house, and Bond's only lead to finding him is Kara.  He discovers that Koskov promised to bring Kara with him to the West after she helped him make his defection look real.  But now Kara, as a loose end, is a target and Bond decides to protect her while investigating Koskov's real motivations.

Their journey will lead them from Hungary to Afghanistan, where Koskov has allied himself with Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker), an arms dealer hoping to supply the weapons for a coming war between the Soviets and the Afghan mujahideen, using the money from a massive opium shipment he's bought from them.

Bond is the world's only hope to stop a war between the West and the Soviets and to keep the Soviets from destroying the resistance fighters in Afghanistan.

Monday, March 5, 2012

"Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997)

Starring Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce and Michelle Yeoh
Written by Bruce Feirstein
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language, sexual themes
Running Time: 119 Minutes

After a British naval vessel is sunk in Chinese territorial waters, tensions between the two powers spiral towards war.  But British Intelligence receives word that the ship may have been lead astray by a mysterious signal that fed it erroneous GPS coordinates, and that the media knew about the sinking of the ship before either government.  Suspicious of this, M (Judi Dench) assigns her best agent, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) to investigate Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce), the head of the media conglomerate about to launch a groundbreaking world-wide satellite news network.

Bond discovers that his old flame Paris (Teri Hatcher) is now Carver's wife, and M orders him to use his former relationship to get close to Carver's organization and discover what connection Carver has to the sinking of the HMS Devonshire before Britain and China go to war.  But when Paris ends up dead, Bond must partner with Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese agent who also suspects Carver of wrong-doing.

Together they discover that Carver intends to start a war between Britain and China to spur the ratings of his new network, and has made connections in the Chinese government for the exclusive broadcasting rights in that country that will make him the most influential and powerful man in the entire world, able to topple or control governments and economies by manipulating the flow of information through his media empire.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"Goldfinger" (1964)

Starring Sean Connery, Honor Blackman and Gert Frobe
Written by Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn
Directed by Guy Hamilton
Rated PG - Violence, sexual themes
Running Time: 110 Minutes

While on vacation in Miami Beach, James Bond (Sean Connery) is visited by his CIA friend Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) who delivers new orders from M (Bernard Lee) for Bond to investigate Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe).  It seems Goldfinger has been smuggling gold out of Britain, but no one can ascertain how.

Bond follows Goldfinger from the United States back to Britain and then to Geneva, trying to crack Goldfinger's smuggling methods.  But what Bond ultimately discovers, however, is that Goldfinger is the mastermind of a criminal plot to break into the United States gold repository at Fort Knox.  Goldfinger has gathered together representatives from criminal organizations all over the United States, and partnered with the Chinese government, for a massive operation designed to create economic chaos in the West.

Captured, Bond has no hope but to figure out how to send a message to his CIA allies in order to stop the attack and save the world.  The only way to do that is to seduce the lovely Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), Goldfinger's personal pilot and key part of Operation Grandslam.  But, unfortunately, Pussy seems unusually resistant to Bond's charms...

"From Russia With Love" (1963)

Starring Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi and Robert Shaw
Written by Richard Maibaum and Johanna Harwood
Directed by Terence Young
Rated PG - Violence, sexual themes
Running Time: 115 Minutes

James Bond (Sean Connery) is assigned by his MI6 masters to travel to Istanbul and retrieve a Lektor decoding device from a defecting Russian cipher clerk named Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi).  Romanova has contacted the MI6 station agent in Istanbul and said she will only deliver the Lektor to James Bond, and to no one else.

Bond and MI6 rightly suspect the whole thing is a trap, but the chance to grab a Russian code machine is too good to pass up.  In Turkey, Bond meets Ali Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz), the British Intelligence station chief, who helps him figure out how to get Romanova and the Lektor out of the Russian embassy building and then escape Turkey.

What Bond doesn't know is that both he and Romanova are being manipulated by the evil terrorist organization SPECTRE, who plan to let Bond get the Lektor device, then kill him and steal it for themselves.  SPECTRE assigns their best assassin, Grant (Robert Shaw) to shadow Bond and make sure he gets the device, and then they will put their plan in motion to eliminate Bond once and for all, humiliate MI6 and heat up the cold war between Britain and the Soviet Union.

Friday, March 2, 2012

"Tucker and Dale vs Evil" (2010)

Starring Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine and Katrina Bowden
Written by Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgensen
Directed by Eli Craig
Rated R - Gory violence, language, scary images
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Trailer (Red band)

The time-worn horror movie premise of a bunch of hillbilly freaks capturing, torturing and killing pretty college kids has come and gone through many permutations.  But I don't think it's ever been quite so hilariously.

Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two hillbillies on their way to Tucker's new vacation home, a cabin in the woods near a lake.  On their way, they stop at a gas station convenience store where they encounter a group of young college kids going on a camping trip.  Dale is immediately smitten with a pretty young blonde named Allison (Katrine Bowden), but she's put off by his dirty appearance.

Later, the kids are sitting around smoking and drinking.  One of them, Chad (Jesse Moss) tells a story of the Memorial Day Massacre, in which a group of students such as themselves were murdered by hillbillies in these same woods.  The kids decide to go skinny-dipping, and Chad is rebuffed when he makes a pass at Allison.  Allison goes away from the group to swim by herself and ends up slipping and falling off a rock when startled by Tucker and Dale, who are going fishing.

The kids mistake Tucker and Dale's rescue of Allison as a kidnapping, and decide to do whatever it takes to get their friend back.  But each of their attacks is a disaster built on one misunderstanding after another. Tucker and Dale are two nice guys trying to help a girl in trouble, and think that these kids are part of some kind of insane suicide pact.  As the kids keep attacking, Tucker and Dale realize they'll have to do whatever is necessary to protect themselves and Allison from her insane college suicide friends.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"Eraser" (1996)

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa Williams, James Caan
Directed by Chuck Russell
Rated R - Violence, language
Running Time: 115 Minutes

"Eraser" is one of a handful of middling, straight-forward action pictures that the former king of box office mayhem stumbled through the decade with. Schwarzenegger plays John Kruger, an "eraser" for the US Marshalls who helps put witnesses into protective custody. Vanessa Williams is Lee Cullen, an employee of a defense contractor who discovers that her company may be selling advanced weapons on the black market. Kruger is tasked with protecting her, and must contend not only with enemies from the company, but from within the government that want to make sure Lee never testifies.

The problem with "Eraser" is that despite it's somewhat inspired premise, no use is ever made of it. Schwarzenegger's John Kruger is just a watered-down version of the super soldiers he was playing all through the 1980s, and we never really get to see him 'erase' anyone aside from the opening sequence, and a brief scene involving altering computer records. Everything here is by-the-numbers, mid-90s action picture. The plot beats are predictable, and while the action is well-staged, Chuck Russell directs with no real style.

Vanessa Williams' character is completely useless, too. She's supposed to be a witness, and her life is in danger because of what she knows. The problem here is that she doesn't actually know anything - all the information is on a computer disc she keeps in her purse. Her character could die at any point in the picture and have no real significance to the plot. So one could assume that she's just there to look pretty, but this is problematic too since aside form a sharp business number in her first scenes, Williams spends the entire movie in loose-fitting jeans and plaid shirts (plaid shirts!!).

So "Eraser" gets by really on the strength of its action sequences, which are, admittedly, well-done. It's just too bad the writers and director couldn't figure out a way to make the whole thing more unique or interesting, given what they have to work with. The visual effects hold up fairly well, since they're used sparingly. The CGI alligators (or crocs, I can never tell) are easily the worst in the film, and even those don't look overly terrible. In fact, they look better than a lot of the junk you'll see in some movies today.

In the end, "Eraser" is a fairly enjoyable diversion. But it's also definitely a missed opportunity.