Tuesday, August 4, 2020

#2,512. The Captain (2017)

Written and directed by Robert Schwentke, 2017’s The Captain is a Black and White German film set during the final weeks of World War II. 

While trying to escape the authorities, a German army deserter, Willi Herold (played to perfection by Max Hubacher), stumbles upon an abandoned vehicle containing a Nazi captain's uniform. 

Initially, Herold puts on the uniform to hide from his pursuers, but it isn’t long before he starts acting the part, assembling a band of thieves as his own personal army and ordering them to accompany him to a nearby prisoner camp. Claiming he has direct authority from Hitler himself, Herold seizes control of the camp, inflicting harsh punishment on the German soldiers held there, all of whom (like Herold himself) have been accused of desertion. 

Expertly crafted by director Schwentke, The Captain is a brooding, often brutal motion picture about the corruptible influence of power (Herold not only joins the ranks of those who were after him, but becomes the very man he himself had feared the most). Yet what is most disturbing about this 2017 film isn’t the violence (which is plentiful), but the fact that it is based on the true story of a man history has dubbed the Executioner of Emsland! 

Hard-hitting and unflinching in its approach, The Captain features moments every bit as shocking as those Spielberg gave us in Schindler’s List. Believe me when I tell you this is a film you won’t soon forget. 
Rating: 9.5 out of 10 (Watch it now!)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

#2,511. Blinded by the Light (2019)

Now here’s a little gem from 2019 that took me by surprise! 

Based on a true story and set in 1987, Blinded By the Light whisks us to Luton, England, where Javed (Viveik Kalra), a Pakistani teen, changes his entire outlook on life after discovering the music of Bruce Springsteen. Not only do the Boss’s lyrics help him find the courage to stand up to his father (Kulvinder Ghir), a stubborn traditionalist, but Javed also learns how to deal with the racism and bigotry he and his family face on an almost daily basis. 

Kalra is strong in the lead role, and watching his character transform from a shy introvert into a confident young man will surely bring a smile to your face. But it’s the musical numbers, set to the rock ballads of The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, that make Blinded By The Light such a life-affirming experience (the Born to Run scene, where Javed and his friend Roops, played by Aaron Phagura, invade their high school’s radio station now ranks right up there with the street dance in 1980’s Fame as one of my all-time favorite musical sequences). 

Directed with plenty of style - and a lot of heart - by Gurinder Chadha, Blinded By The Light is a coming-of-age tale you won’t want to miss. Highly recommended! 
Rating: 9 out of 10 (watch it more than once)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

#2,510. Timecop (1994)

Telling you to ‘check your brain at the door’ before watching a Jean Claude Van Damme movie may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but it’s something you’ll definitely want to do before venturing into 1994’s Timecop

Van Damme stars as Max Walker, a U.S. Federal officer whose primary task is to regulate time travel (a reality in the film’s futuristic setting) and ensure that the technology isn’t used for criminal purposes. 

Walker meets his match, however, in Sen. McComb (Ron Silver), an ambitious politician running for President. To secure victory for himself, McComb and his band of thugs travel to various points in the past, using modern weapons to rob, plunder, and - yes - sometimes even kill. 

Can Walker stop McComb, who may be responsible for the death of Walker’s beloved wife Melissa (Mia Sara) years earlier, or will the greedy politician win out in the end?

Timecop raises more questions about the nature of time travel than it could ever answer (like why do some of Walker’s trips to the past cause changes in the future, while others don’t?), but hey, it’s a Van Damme action flick, with generous doses of sci-fi and even a little mystery thrown in for good measure (not to mention the occasionally over-the-top performance by Silver, whose slimeball Senator is, more often than not, the most interesting character in the movie). So don’t try to make sense of it all… that will only spoil the fun! 
Rating 6 out of 10 (worth a watch).

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

#2,509. Event Horizon (1997)

Event Horizon is a creepy, gory sci-fi / horror mash-up from director Paul W.S. Anderson that’s much better than the critics would lead you to believe.  

Sam Neill plays Dr. Billy Weir, a scientist who, years earlier, built and designed a spaceship known as the Event Horizon.  A vessel equipped with a device that could ‘bend’ space (thus allowing it to travel anywhere in the galaxy in a matter of seconds), the Event Horizon disappeared during its maiden voyage and was never heard from again.  

Jump to seven years later, and the ship has suddenly resurfaced, orbiting Neptune. Hoping to discover what happened to his beloved creation, Dr. Weir and the crew of the rescues vessel the Lewis and Clark, commanded by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), travel into deep space to rendezvous with the seemingly abandoned Event Horizon, only to discover it brought something sinister back from its journey into the unknown. 

Neill is quite good as the determined scientist, willing to do whatever it takes to salvage his ship, yet it’s Laurence Fishburne as the surly, smart Captain Miller who steals the show. The special effects are solid - if a bit dated - and the film’s more horrific scenes, which include ample doses of blood and gore, are sure to leave a lasting impression (a brief video signal that the Lewis and Clark manages to retrieve from the Event Horizon, showing the fate that befell its original crew, will send shivers up your spine). 

If you’re looking for some effective sci-fi inspired thrills and chills, you can do a lot worse than Event Horizon.  
Rating 7 out of 10 (worth a watch)