Here's the video version of my K-PAX review.
With the 1986 movie Crocodile Dundee, Paul Hogan basically single-handedly gave Hollywood the irrefutable proof that Australia really does exist. The relatively low-budget comedy was a huge box-office hit and eventually spawned two sequels.
Directed by Peter Faiman, the film sees Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski), the feature writer for a New York newspaper, travel to the Australian outback where she is meant to meet a bushman who reportedly fought with a crocodile and lived, minus one leg. She finds that the man in question, nicknamed Mick "Crocodile" Dundee, probably embellished that story a little seeing as he still has his two legs. He takes the disillusioned Sue on an expedition where she finally gets to understand why he's something of a local legend as he takes on kangaroo shooters, subdues large animals using an unusual technique and takes part in an aboriginal tribal dance. She decides to take him back to New York with her partly because she could expand her story but also because she likes him despite the love triangle this creates as she was supposed to marry her boyfriend, who runs her newspaper.
The film then turns into a fish-out-of-water comedy focusing on Mick Dundee's culture clash as he walks around New York City, struggles to figure out what a bidet does, proves he has the biggest knife in the streets and meets all kinds of random characters. It's easy to see why the film was such a success upon its release: Paul Hogan's confident, tough yet detached demeanour as Dundee makes him a likeable, more light-hearted version of Dirty Harry and, much like the character himself, the film has an effortless charm to it even if it relies a lot on Australian stereotypes. There's not much to the story but it's straight-forward and amusing enough that it's hard to really complain about it. This is a typical 80's comedy in the vein of, say, Splash except it's shot through an Australian filter which makes it more original than others in the same genre.
Crocodile Dundee may not be a laugh riot and it won't change your life but it's a fun comedy with enough charm, quotable lines and memorable moments to make it worth a watch.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, Always is a 1989 romantic comedy/drama starring Richard Dreyfuss as an aerial firefighter who is killed while trying to save someone else and who then comes back as a spirit to guide another pilot in his life.
Loosely based on WWII drama A Guy Named Joe, Always tends to be one of Spielberg's most forgotten films mostly due to the fact it's arguably his cheesiest effort so those not too keen on sentimental stories or those expecting an action film won't exactly go wild for this one. Having said that, this is still a gorgeous-looking film with a lot going for it. The criminally underrated Richard Dreyfuss is at his most charming and cocky here as reckless pilot Pete who constantly worries his girlfriend Dorinda (played by Holly Hunter) with his careless flying. Pete almost crashes on her birthday and, while this leads to a heartfelt romantic moment, it also leads to Dorinda giving him an ultimatum to get him to stop risking his life at every turn. Unfortunately, while trying to save his best friend Al (an excellent John Goodman), his luck finally runs out and he dies.
The film then takes an unexpected turn as Pete wakes up in the spirit world where Audrey Hepburn, of all people, explains to him that he passed away and has to go back to mentor another person in order to move on to Heaven. This supernatural twist could have easily made the film too silly to take seriously but it works as you see Pete struggle with seeing his girlfriend hurt after his death and eventually consider moving on. Always is an old-fashioned, melodramatic exploration of love and grieving and although the romance is the main focus, the firefighting scenes are genuinely intense and the film tries to stay upbeat throughout despite the downer subject matter. It's a shame that the script isn't quite good enough to deliver the laughs and tears the story aims for leaving the film, ironically, stuck in a kind of dramatic purgatory.
While perhaps too melodramatic for many, Always is still very much a Spielberg film so you can at least expect beautiful cinematography, gripping action sequences and strong performances. It lacks the emotional punch it really should have had but it remains a well-made film that's worth checking out at least once and is far more competent than the more popular rom-com ghost movie Ghost.
Decent romantic drama.
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Several years before Tim Burton rebooted Lewis Carroll's surreal masterpiece with all the 3D bells and whistles, we got this Alice In Wonderland TV movie in 1999 as an all-star cast took on the classic story.
There was something irresistible about this interpretation of Alice In Wonderland as, not only would it be packed with great actors in familiar roles but it was the perfect opportunity to explore parts of the tale the older versions never explored and show off some creative new visuals. The film starts very differently from the book, which is a little off-putting at first, but soon enough Alice goes to Wonderland and the story finally begins in a faithful way with some added moments from "Through The Looking Glass" thrown in. The first thing you'll notice is Tina Majorina (known for Napoleon Dynamite and Veronica Mars) feels somewhat miscast as Alice: her performance is much too awkward, her English accent isn't convincing and that yellow dress she's made to wear just doesn't look right.
Luckily, some of the other characters do work as Martin Short provides us with the best live-action Mad Hatter to date with that inflated head of his and Gene Wilder makes something of a mini-comeback as the Mock Turtle. A lot of the rest, however, either don't really stand out or overstay their welcome. This TV movie is edited and paced in such a way that each weird Wonderland character is given a full segment in between commercial breaks which means that most scenes go on for far too long so when you're having to spend five straight minutes with a character that's not fun, it feels like 45 minutes. Miranda Richardson's Queen Of Hearts, for example, is unbearable with her whiny voice and incessant screaming and Christopher Lloyd's White Knight scene could have easily be cut in half (or altogether), same goes for Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Robbie Coltrane and George Wendt).
As for Whoopi Goldberg's Cheshire Cat, that's just a creepy sight.
The visuals are probably the film's biggest strength as you can tell some effort was put into making Wonderland look as strange as possible. From the Mad Hatter's head to the giant settings and the larger-than-life puppets (courtesy of Jim Henson's Creature Shop), there's always something interesting to check out. Unfortunately the script is just not funny or sharp enough to make the film consistently entertaining throughout, the framing device feels tacked on and so many scenes drag making you wish for a Director's Cut version of the film.
While not the worst Alice In Wonderland adaptation out there as it has its moments, I'd probably skip this one and aim for the 1972 live-action film Alice's Adventures In Wonderland instead. If you're curious about the cast involved, maybe give it one watch, but don't expect to be swept away.
Uneven, if colourful mess.
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