Planet of the Apes (2001) – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, Estella Warren, Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa, David Warner, Kris Krsitofferson

Synopsis: A very loose remake of the original Charlton Heston film, Wahlberg’s Leo Davidson gets propelled to unknown reaches of the galaxy by a mysterious space storm.   Her crash lands on a mysterious planet, where apes are in charge, and humans are merely pets and game.

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Tron – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Steven Lisberger

Cast: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan

Synopsis: Kevin Flynn (Bridges) is attempting to track down evidence that an executive at his former company, Ed Dillinger (Warner), stole his programs for video games that could have made him millions.   In the process, however, he is abducted into the computer world by Dillinger’s Master Control Program.   The only way to victory is by defeat of the MCP, which he can only manage with the assistance of a program created by his friend Alan Bradley (Boxleitner).   When he meets the program, it resembles Alan in appearance, but refers to Alan as his “user”, whereas he himself is Tron.


A review by Film Nerd.

Following on from my last review of The Thing, there was one other 1980’s film that I was aware of that will very shortly have a follow-up feature released in cinemas.   Tron is one of those films that images from it are absolutely iconic, whether for good or bad reasons (yes, i am referring to YOU, Tron Guy), and yet its original performance was poor, and it is my understanding very few people have seen it in its entirety.  I have always intended to see it, and with a lot of promotional material now out for the sequel, Tron: Legacy, I thought now was the perfect time to get moving.   When popping in the disc to watch it with Bride of Film Nerd, our consensus in the first ten minutes is that this was just weird, and it is somewhat understandable why it failed to spark more interest than as a cult favourite.

I am the type of guy that will stick with any film, despite the necessity to cringe all the way through it.   And I do think in this case I was rewarded by that perseverance.   An element I find common in Baz Luhrmann films is that they have such cringe-worthy starts, yet the extent to which the beginning is ridiculous puts you in a frame of mind that anything slightly less ridiculous afterwards strikes the viewer as comparatively normal.   Given what would have been an outrageous concept in 1982 (people living completely separate lives within computers….ummmmm?), the film benefits from this, though I still would not put it on par with a Baz Luhrmann epic, of course.

The film is largely passable throughout, after one gets beyond the initial concept.   The scripting is cookie-cutter good versus evil, with big bad corporations against the innocent little guy.   The acting is nothing spectacular, yet it progresses the story-line along effectively enough.   Bridges I always find very watchable.   At this stage he hasn’t honed his craft to the level it is at now, but the hints of what to come are there, and he is still a delight on screen.Warner’s villain could have had more shades of grey, and Warner’s talent is capable of a lot more as evidenced by his Captain Sawyer in the Hornblower series), but he does make the most of what is available to him in the script.   Boxleitner and Morgan are passable, but as their work is not quite as familiar too me, it is difficult to narrow this down to scripting or talent.   Given the former is on the cast list for Legacy, I may be able to refine my opinion of him then.

I also must comment on the special effects.   By today’s standard of CGI, they are amateurish at best.   Taking it in context though, this was really one of the earliest attempts to combine computer style graphics with live action performance.   Given that the graphics replicate gaming graphics of the time, the standard is really forgivable, and also almost affectionately retro.   Given what we are capable of today though, I am now very keen to see what Legacy‘s update is going to do.   Given that people now do live entire lives in a virtual realm, the film will have a lot more significance and impact for a modern audience, making the franchise ripe for an update.   I have kept myself away from the promotional material until now, wanting to approach the original unaffected,   I am hearing some very good things though, and might go now to download some trailers!!

3 stars (out of a possible 5)


Tron on IMDB

Tron on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=]

Horatio Hornblower: “Mutiny” and “Retribution” – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Andrew Grieve

Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Robert Lindsay, David Warner, Nicholas Jones, Paul McGann, Jamie Bamber, Paul Copley, Sean Gilder

Synopsis: In this two-part story, Hornblower is Third Lieutenant on the H.M.S. Renown, under the command of Captain James Sawyer, a national hero and one of Nelson’s Own.   This is not the good news one would hope though.  It soon becomes evident that Sawyer has paid the price for his heroism, and has gone quite mad, proving a danger to himself, and the ship.   Unfortunately, the ship’s doctor refuses to declare him unfit for command.   As such, and attempt by his lieutenants to take control of the vessel will result in a court martial for mutiny.

A review by FilmNerd.

I have made the decision to review these movies together as they do cover a single story, and it made sense to do it this way rather than to go over repeat ground.   The viewer’s curiosity is immediately ripened, finding Hornblower under lock and key, then receiving a visit from Admiral Pellew.    Their discussion reveals Hornblower is there for mutiny, and Pellew is one of the senior officers presiding over his trial.   From this point on, the story is told in flashback, with intercuts to the present day showing the progress of the trial.   What we observe is quite an unwinnable situation for the officers of the Renown.

Suffice it to say, it is an interesting story.   “Mutiny” covers the events leading up to the Lieutenants taking control of the vessel, showing progressively Sawyer’s state of madness.   The difficulty being that despite his deranged mind, Sawyer can appear calm and reasonable on the surface, an obstacle which could prove disastrous when a court martial would inevitably be held.   “Retribution” proceeds to then cover the story of the actions of the lieutenants in command, as they try to at least fulfil the mission given to the Renown, partially in the hope it will reflect favourably on them at trial.   I will admit the ending sways wildly from the end of the story written by C.S. Forester, and in my mind not in a good way, and this is where the story loses half a star.

Aside from the plot though, these films are an exhibit of stellar acting.   Gruffudd and Lindsay are well established and comfortable in their characters now.   Warner, a veteran of more than one Star Trek appearance is terrifyingly convincing as Sawyer.   Jones is the ineffectual First Lieutenant Buckland, and Bamber is back as Fourth Lieutenant Archie Kennedy, in what is perhaps his finest performance of the series.   Perhaps the most important role to be cast though, was that of Second Lieutenant William Bush, a character that becomes very significant later in the series.   It is a role that requires a taciturn, hard-to-like nature initially, with Sawyer picking him out as a favourite early.   This appearance is slowly dropped however, to reveal he is a man of great integrity, who will always consult his honour and his duty in his actions.   To play this role we have the Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann.    Though I did not know he was Doctor Who when I first saw this, he is an actor of great talent, and suits Bush perfectly.

Aside from my disappointment with the ending, this is otherwise the perfect Hornblower adventure, making the pity greater that only one more two-part story was shot after this.

4.5 stars (out of a possible 5)

Horatio Hornblower: Mutiny on IMDB

Horatio Hornblower: Mutiny on Rotten Tomatoes

Horatio Hornblower: Retribution on IMDB

Horatio Hornblower: Retribution on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer unavailable