Monthly Archives: January 2007

Up Next: Hell is for Heroes

I picked up Hell is for Heroes late last summer when Deep Discount DVD had one of their great Buy 1 Get 1 sales, and finally made some time to watch it last night.

Released in 1962, this World War II movie has a star-laden cast, including Steve McQueen and James Colburn. Interestingly, Bob Newhart gets his first acting role in this movie as well.

This will be the first war movie for Kaboom Review to look at, but we hope to eventually build a sustantial library of war film reviews.

I hope to have the Hell is for Heroes review up before the weekend.

Review: From Russia with Love

russia_cov.jpgYear: 1963
Director: Terence Young
Starring: Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Robert Shaw
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 64

Plot
James Bond gets embroiled in a complicated SPECTRE plot to play the British and Soviet governments against each other in order to get a valuable encryption machine.

Quick Review
From Russia with Love still provides excellent entertainment value. You’ve got a well-crafted story, genuine intrigue and suspense, and most importantly, James Bond played to perfection. Well worth a look back in time!

Full Review
I thought I was going to like From Russia with Love more than I did, as many Bond fans consider it to be the best Bond movie. For sure, there are many strong elements in the movie. By far the most noteworthy positive is Sean Connery. He hits full stride as James Bond in this second Bond film. Exceptional in Dr. No, his performance now is more refined. He is full of confidence, delivers his lines perfectly, and moves with a grace and strength that makes Bond an incredibly charismatic figure. This is the number one reason to watch From Russia russia3.jpgwith Love: you will see Bond played flawlessly.

From Russia with Love also has a well-executed plot, stays within its premise excellently, and delivers an intriguing tale of Eastern European espionage. The pace is somewhat subdued, but events and actions are logically sequenced, with the notable exception of some dopey SPECTRE agents who brilliantly stop their boats in the middle of leaking gas cans.

I was somewhat surprised with the small scale of the film, which is more in line with the novels. In Dr. No and many of the other Bond movies, the world is in danger and Bond saves it. In From Russia with Love, the focus is on obtaining a Lektor Decoding Machine. Yes, yes, I know how important these decoding thingies can be, but somehow I almost felt as if everyone is fighting over a typewriter, and the movie loses some impact points because of this.russia2.jpg

I was also surprised with how much From Russia with Love concentrates on the intrigue in the story, and puts the action element in the back seat. Compared to the latter Bond movies—and even compared to Dr. No—it is the suspense here that drives the movie. Even the ending is somewhat anticlimactic. When you think about it, though, given that 44-year-old action scenes don’t impress too many people, this focus on intrigue is likely a strong point of the movie.

Having said that, there are some worthwhile action scenes; a gypsy verses Bulgar battle with a couple of hundred people and a tough fistfight on the train between Bond and Grant, the main villain, come immediately to mind. The action here, compared to Dr. No, has advanced as well. Only about half of the fights in From Russia with Love end with the classic “one-punch knockouts”, and the fistfight on the train is exceptionally well shot for its time.

The babe factor in From Russia with Love comes almost entirely from Ms. Universe runner-up Daniela Bianchi, who plays a Russian spy conned by SPECTRE into contacting Bond with a love letter that offers to give him the Lektor Decoding Device if he will take her with him. daniela_bianchi.jpgWhile she has a perfect face, the movie doesn’t display her ample beauty as well as they did Ursula Andress’ in Dr. No. I know it’s Eastern Europe and not Jamaica, but still, couldn’t we have at least one poolside bikini shot? From a female vantage point, Sean Connery is at his peak, and things don’t get much better.

The acting support for Connery’s incredible performance gets the job done, but is nothing noteworthy. Pedro Armedáriz is perhaps the lone exception. Dying from cancer during the filming, he manages to put a charming edge to his role as Ali Karim Bey, head of the Turkish operation. I was especially disappointed in the villain, Grant. He was generic and robotic in his role.

All in all, despite its weak points, From Russia with Love still provides excellent entertainment value. You’ve got a well-crafted story, genuine intrigue and suspense, and most importantly, James Bond played to perfection. Well worth a look back in time!

Movie Fact
The political climate after the John F. Kennedy assassination led producers to delay From Russia with Love’s U.S. release.

Purchasing Information
By far the best way to get the James Bond movies is through the newly released Collector’s Edition sets.

Score
Pace
: 60
Plot: 82
Action: 38
Consistent Premise: 88
Script/Quotes: 35
Characters: 83
Acting: 78
Villain: 27
Body Count: 30
Time to First Dead Body: Very fast
Babes: 58
Hunks: 90
Explosions: 18
Special Effects: 12
Stunts: 25
Ending: 50

Overall: 64 (Recommended)

Site Update: RSS Feed Changed to Summary Feed Only

We’re being “scraped”! In short, our RSS feed is being used by another site to take our content and repost it as their own. It’s nice to know that people out there think enough of our reviews that they want to steal them, but obviously we can’t let this happen.

Unfortunately, it seems that the best way to address the issue is to change our feeds to summary only. I apologize for the inconvenience, but I’ve come to this decision after consulting with a few other bloggers. So for any of your that are subscribing to our feeds, they’ll be changed to summaries as of this post. Clicking on the story title will bring you to the site and the full story.

Sincerely,
Mike

Preview Impressions: Ghost Rider

ghostrider.jpgI like to rate a movie based on the preview, then compare the preview rating with my final rating after seeing the whole movie. A critical element of this is how closely the content of the trailer represents the content of the movie, of course, so there is a lot of room for error. With that in mind, I took a look at the Ghost Rider trailer and preview. The movie hits screens on February 16, 2007.

Ghost Rider strikes me as such a peripheral comic hero and I know so little about him that I’m a bit skeptical of the movie from the start. He also strikes me as a hero that is hard to relate to; even as a kid who read lots of comics, Ghost Rider just never grabbed me. The trailer doesn’t kindle my interest much, although it does explain some of his background. The preview goes into more detail on the story, and this gives me some hope that the movie will be decent.

There are lots of shots of flaming motorcycles and flaming skeletons, which are always a plus, I guess, but the way the trailer and preview focus on these scenes makes me think that the movie is going to be a mush of mediocre special effects involving fire, with little story, acting, and content to support them. Dialog and acting seem weak, outside of Nicholas Cage, who has enough skill as an actor to dramatically improve the movie. It does have the beautiful Eva Mendes in it, so that helps, but when I see snippets of her acting, I’m getting flashbacks to Cindy Crawford in Fair Game. After watching the trailer, I had a bad feeling about this one. The preview improves things some, but overall this looks to be in the 40-range for an overall score. I’d love to be wrong, but I’d guess this is going to be a mediocre movie.

Prediction: 46 (Unremarkable)