Saturday, May 2, 2015


Bermuda Tentacles (2014): Nick Lyon’s SyFy Original starts out as an entertaining enough dumb giant monster movie with a lot of bad looking yet most excellent CGI tentacles, a very budget-conscious deep sea dive, and Linda Hamilton, but by its final act descends in so much jingoistic “Yay! Let’s sacrifice a lot of people for the Greater Good™!” bullshit it leaves me with a very bad taste in my mouth.

Further weaknesses are the fact that leads Trevor Donovan and Mya can’t act their way out of a paper bag, and that the script really seems to think that it can out-Independence-Day the Emmerich film on a SyFy budget.

The Art of the Steal (2013): This, on the other hand, is a wonderful little caper movie that lacks the showiness of Soderbergh’s Ocean’s films but has decidedly more heart. Instead of show-off casting, Jonathan Sobol’s film has a more organic feeling ensemble, with particularly wonderful turns by Kurt Russell and Terence Stamp.

It’s also consistently funny in a rather self-deprecating manner, treating its characters’ losses with unexpected dignity, and loving to go off into little flights of fancy. The film is also excellently paced and has a fun little central con that may or may not pass closer scrutiny. I sure don’t know because I was enjoying myself too much to care.

Sky Riders (1976): I can’t help but admire director Douglas Hickox’ approach to the somewhat bizarre task of making a James Coburn and (somewhat) Robert Culp vehicle about a bunch of terrorists (with a curiously more-dimensional performance by Werner Pochath) kidnapping the heroes’ ex-wife/wife and children, and having to be taken down with the help of a bunch of hang glider riders under the leadership of John Beck: he just pretends the gimmicky basic idea is perfectly reasonable, and treats it like he would every other plot element in a 70s action thriller.

And Hickox was a perfectly good director of this kind of thing, too, delivering nothing spectacular, but tight enough basic thriller stuff, and an increasingly loud (and somewhat strange) series of action set-pieces. That’s nothing to win any film overmuch praise, but it sure as hell is more than enough to keep me entertained for the film’s running time.

Additionally, I really appreciate how toothy this film is, with Culp doing his patented gritted teeth grimace and Coburn doing that really frightening thing with his teeth he likes so much. Fortunately, they never do it at one another, or bite marks would be inevitable.

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