STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997)

Directed By: Paul Verhoeven 
Written By: Ed Neumeier 
Based on the book by: Robert A. Heinlein 
Cinematography: Jost Vacano 
Editor: Mark Goldblatt & Caroline Ross 

Cast: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Clancy Brown, Jake Busey, Michael Ironside, Neil Patrick Harris, Seth Gilliam, Patrick Muldoon, Dean Norris, Rue McClanahan, Marshall Bell, Matt Levin, Brenda Strong, Amy Smart, Greg Travis, Dale Dye

In the distant future, high school kids are encouraged to become citizens by joining the military. What they don’t know is that they’ll soon be engaged in a full-scale war against a planet of alien insects. The fight is on to ensure the safety of humanity.


a film about and presented in parts as a war propaganda epic, but it’s also an out-and-out war film. As well as a melodrama that all feels like a video game. As it also has a science fiction element.

This is an epic war film that focuses more on the battlefield and action than anything else. It ultimately becomes a satire on war films. 

The film follows a group of high school students who sign up for military service for various reasons though the love triangle introduced at the beginning seems to show that each of them signed up to follow the other. These will be the ones we mostly stay with throughout. So that it has a coming of age and mildly romantic element. Which is the only time the film has any sweet moments.

Most of the characters come from Buenos Aires and are mostly caucasian. As the story goes along we are introduced to various characters most of them look straight out of a soap opera and are visually appealing. Which only strengthens when it comes to melodrama. It also clues you into who will most likely survive.

Even though the film does throw in plenty of surprises it also serves up plenty of cliches it manages to also throw in some ridiculous measures of subversion. Like seeing Neil Patrick Harris famous at the time mroe for playing teen doctor DOOGIE HOWSER on television. As a high-ranking military scientist and strategist prone to wearing German SS army gear as a uniform without any swastikas and when the main character of Johnny Rico is punished for insubordination, his punishment is to get whipped and he is punished when applying the whipping is an African American man. 

The film is hyper-violent and gory. Even the boot camp scenes manage to have death and plenty of violence. 

Once the battle begins we see the soldiers fight off against the deadly enemies bigs that’s right the enemy is giant insects. So that when there is violence against the enemy there is carnage but mostly goo rather than blood. Only when Humans are killed is there really bloody gore. 

When it comes to the style scenes grand and small there is so much action in battles and in casualties that is where it more feels like a video game other than in the premise. So while not based on one this is an early example of what a movie based on a video game should feel like. Before, where they feel like they could easily interchange. 

The film knows that this is pretty much a campy big-budget B-Movie that doesn’t take itself deadly seriously. It knows what it is and offers the audience thrills and chills, but knows it is there more to entertain over all else. 

It knows how far-fetched the premise is but makes you care and get involved anyway. It has breaks of propaganda where it shows news reports, commercials, and ad campaigns that are all overacted. Which not only like Director Paul Verhoven’s previous film ROBOCOP satirizes but also manages to world build and give background information of how this war is affecting all aspects of life on the battlefield.

The film is hard-edged and dark throughout. Even when it comes to its humor. 

It’s obviously a film that could only be made at the time it was. As it asks us to watch a war film that doesn’t really have any political agenda and is more born out of entertainment than being too serious and to show off special effects but not make it overbearing and what the film focuses on.

This is a film that at times is easy to forget about but feels like a film of a different time. It’s a film where you won’t forget the first time you see it and it might come off as silly at first but the more you think about it the more Impressed you are by it 

Even though most of his films have been wild and structured. This film seems to be one of the bigger films of Director Paul Verhoeven’s career where he seeks to go more full balls to the wall. Rather than trying to be too subtle or create a more intimate atmosphere. While not necessarily a classic along the lines of TOTAL RECALL or ROBOCOP which he directed. He doesn’t embarrass himself or shows any restraint even as this comes off as one of his more mainstream and crowd-pleasing films. 

As I will admit when I first saw it in theaters I felt it was ridiculous but kept me entertained. 

That seems to be more for a blockbuster audience and not so much the artistic crowd. 

Grade: B

CONSPIRACY THEORY (1997)

Directed By: Richard Donner 
Written By: Brian Helgeland 
Cinematography By: John Schwartzman 
Editor: Kevin Stitt & Frank J. Urioste 

Cast: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart, Cylk Cozart, Troy Garity, Sean Patrick Thomas, Peter Jacobson, Thomas McCarthy, Rick Hoffman 

Jerry Fletcher is a man in love with a woman he observes from afar. She works for the government. Fletcher is an outspoken critic of that government. He has conspiracy theories for everything, from aliens to political assassinations. But soon, one of his theories finds itself to be accurate. But which one? Some dangerous people want him dead and the only person he trusts is that woman he loves but does not know.


The film has a notable cast which is how the film will peak your interest and hook you. It also has a kind of underdog story at heart. Of course as expected by the title the film makes various references to popular conspiracies Such as assassinations, Lee Harvey Oswald

It has Mel Gibson Playing against type. He is more invested and Actually seems a bit more challenging for him. Though he still keeps his jokey tough demeanor.

It’s billed as an action thriller but ends up More like a comedy. As even the action sequences seem to end with some kind of joke or more humor than thrills necessarily.

The film’s Seems to fit into the Richard Donner funhouse. Where the film is entertaining above all else and beautiful to look at, Even though the film Tries to be gritty but always seems more like a typical Hollywood production. As Director Donner is one of the last of the studio directors who had to work his way up to directing by first working his way around every other department before getting the lucrative directing jobs. So he knows his way around way department having been vetted.

He is a director who constantly makes likeable movies that do ok but few would probably register as favorites of all time. But is a Consulate Hollywood director who deserves respect for making quite a few memorable films such as THE OMEN, The LETHAL WEAPON series of movies, 16 BLOCKS, MAVERICK.

The film is written by Brain Helgeland who also wrote and directed the Mel Gibson PAYBACK. Where you wonder if their working relationship was formed on this film.

One scene just seems so big even if it is minor. It’s a masterpiece of it’s own even if overblown. It’s After he buys the book. The scenes grand production that seems to set off just to try and capture him. Especially with a familiar sight involved. Just at the time seemed so amazing and was the epitome of Hollywood magic.

Even the thriller elements are entertaining. As they are just creepy enough to add some suspense and tries to throw you off. Even though you know how it will probably turn out.

It’s a film where every one seems to have secrets even the good guys. So that at every turn you don’t know who to really trust or believe.

Patrick Stewart is here truly chewing the scenery in his delicious turn as the main villain.

It’s a movie that keeps building so that even if it were done on a modest budget by the end it has grown so big it would have to need major stars for the size of production and for the audience to keep believing. Don’t know if this film would be made today As it is more driven by star power especially two very big names attached and mid budgeted so unless really a gamble or as someone’s passion project which this wouldn’t Really be or somehow it would have to be Sci-fi or superhero related or be an independent financed film.

The film is Disarming how enjoyable it is though somewhat predictable.

Though she is a major star of the movie they don’t leave Julia Roberts with much to do other then Be the brainy damsel in distress. She is only really here for star power. Which truly seem the only reason this film was made. As they try to market it as more a modern team-up of stars. Even though the characters are close there is no real romance beckoning though the film keeps trying to build up one.

This is pretty much a movie star movie. The story might actually be something ambitious for more than a mid-size budget, but in the end, it’s a movie for the audience to stare and gawk as two superstar movie stars share the screen. It’s actually not a stunt here as the stars do share a number of scenes and the movie doesn’t make you wait around for half the movie for it to happen. Though the film ends up being best for a Saturday afternoon a breezy affair with no real stakes. That you will mostly watch to see who is In it rather than what it is about. Sort of like those black and white movies starring a star of yesteryear that you watch only because you like the star. Not necessarily the story.

The film Won’t stick with you too long after but a crowd pleaser

You feel by the end like you got your money’s worth though keep in mind I saw this at the $2 theater. Back when there was one. This is where movies played second string after their major release, right before reaching hoe. Video at the time. Today think of that more as a digital release before the DVD/Blu-ray

Grade: C+

187 (ONE EIGHT SEVEN) (1997)

Directed By: Kevin Reynolds
Written By: Scott Yagemann
Cinematography: Ericson Core
Editor: Stephen Semel

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, John Heard, Kelly Rowan, Clifton Collins Jr., Karina Arroyave, Tony Plana, Lobo Sebastian, Jack Kehler, Jonah Rooney, Method Man, Richard Riehle, Antwon Tanner 

15 months after being stabbed 9 times by a student at work as a high school teacher in NYC, Mr. Garfield is working in LA as a substitute teacher come full-time. He refuses to be a victim anymore.


This is the story of a man, a teacher pushed over the line. A vigilante tale that shows the bloody aftermath. Rather then it just solving everything. That revenge can make some things worse m. As there will always be someone else to take the place of the initial problem. 

It seems in the end all this was meant to teach his tormentors enemies a lesson. One way or another. To make characters who were actually willing to see past all of this and understand this is not a lifestyle.

By the end even in death, there seem to be everlasting enemies.

The film seems to want to make a point but by the end. The lesson seems kind of empty 

The film seems to have a dry and saturated style and film style. That keeps things interesting and vivid. At times it makes the look seem all the More desperate and offers a kind of stuck-in-the-dumps look for the character’s surroundings.

The film shows not all the Villains are criminals but also the so-called do-gooders. It plays it’s morality like a modern-day western. Where once the hero has let the villains get to him that he behaves like them he has been infected with their propensity towards violence and menace. While trying to show that some hope can grow in the middle of nihilism.

Though this is more of a character study with Star Samuel L. Jackson in the starring role. One of his first. It also is a character study of two characters bound to clash. As each raises the stakes against one another.

This also allows him to be an orator and raise his voice which is one of his strengths as an actor.

Though the film is filmed and treated more as a thriller. Most of the time it speaks more through emotions and moods rather than physical. 

This is one of the first movies where Samuel L. Jackson is in the leading roles. Which was one of the reasons at the time that inspired me to see it In Theaters on opening weekend. Where I ended up loving the style of the film but by the end felt mildly disappointed.

Here his character is ambivalent about the danger he faces from his students before he is actually attacked by one. He decides to relocate to what looks like another rundown urban school. Where things are on at first and even has a kind of blossoming friendship/romance until she sees his scars so that rejection eats at him couples with threatening and menaces at school all over again. Triggers him and when the principal is more screwed of being sued then protecting his staff. He feels that he so left with only one other option. 

The film also offers Karina Arroyave one of the biggest roles of her career. As most do her career before this film she had been playing small roles in these types of films where an educator makes a difference. (LEAN ON ME, STAND AND DELIVER) in smaller roles. Here she gets a string vulnerable role where she gets to make a mark as one of the mroe innocent characters. Where her character is treated mroe like property of the gang in a more sexual way. (This might be why as she in real life is older than her character but still looks young. Why she got the role instead of someone who might have been age-appropriate.)  In this battle fo wills between the teacher and Clifton Collins Jr. (in only the second I had seen him in a film) 

I remember him from his first role in THE STONED AGE and then an about-face in this film.  so just him  showing range in his first roles so early was impressive. As soon he would be all over the place in different roles though usually Criminals. Though none ever felt the same as the last. 

He has had a long career, sometimes he can be bland as in light it up where you expect him to do more as it I was one fo the roles he can do easily and bring Charisma maybe not his fault maybe the script or director’s fault 

One of the big calling cards of the movie’s promotion was the casting of rapper Method Man in the film. At the time he was the hot new rapper part of the Wu-Tang Clan at the time. Here he has a small cameo role in the film. The same thing happened when he was cast in the film COPLAND.

The last act of the film that is based around the movie THE DEER HUNTER. Is truly bonkers even as it tries to be run of the mill.

As this is a film that you can easily write off as simplistic or one-note as just another Vigilante thriller but the film is much more interested in the characters, motivations, guilt, and morality behind their actions and decisions.

This was also director Kevin Reynolds follow-up film to WATERWORLD. Where obviously he was trying to make a much smaller and more dramatic film. 

In The end, this comes off as the Los Angeles version of a street movie and a skewered look at the teacher who makes a difference genre. Showing more the dangers they face in the day today. 

Grade: C+

HURRICANE STREETS (1997)

Written & Directed By: Morgan J. Freeman
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak
Editor: Sabine Hoffman

Cast: Brendan Sexton III, Mtume Gant, Carlo Alban, Edie Falco, Lynn Cohen, Shawn Elliott, Adrian Grenier, L.M. Kit Carson, Isidra Vega, Jose Zuniga, Heather Matarazzo, David Moscow 

A teenage petty criminal dreams of escaping his increasingly unlawful lifestyle when he meets a sweet girl who hopes to one day travel to Alaska.


This film comes across like a well Made student thesis film. Made all the more gritty for a more realistic feel and street credibility and for the film’s reputation. It comes across simple enough.

The film Has a central love story that is what helped sell the film. That romance actually stays very sweet and innocent. Actually, it’s the only part of the film that feels pure and natural making the film more endearing.

The film starts off with a strong opening though slowly gets duller. As the main character seems to get continuously plain red into a corner and tries his best to get out.

The film’s mindset stays juvenile and onto wales up to stone-cold reality towards the end. Which might be understandable as most of the characters are teens kids really. So we follow them.

How else do you explain that the crew couldn’t tell they had a snake in their midst. As well as a snitch. Though by the end you do feel a certain sympathy for all involved.

The recurring theme of the darts game feels silly and only later it’s importance is revealed.

This seems like the typical Sundance film festival youth crime story that was popular at the time that promised to show the grit that was going down but comes off softer than expected.

The film has an ambiguous ending that is clearly is inspired by THE GRADUATE. As both characters are hopeful but have nowhere to go. Only she doesn’t know it yet. She also stays the only innocent character throughout the whole film As she has done Nothing to deserve her troubles.

She already has to deal with an overbearing father. Who starts out a villain and then turns into a victim.

I remember loving this film when it first came out. Even watching it twice in theaters. Watching it today it’s a film that is very of its time period and doesn’t necessarily age well. Like an embarrassing photo from your youth that brings back memories but also feels a little embarrassed of.

Unfortunately, after that strong opening, we see the rest of the scene play out towards the end that more comes across as a desperate comedy of errors.

The film achieved certain popularity at the time due to a hit song that was featured on the soundtrack SEX & CANDY by Marcy Playground.

I try not to bad mouth it put down any films especially independent ones that have a hard enough time trying to find an audience in the first place.

This is the type of film that was praised as strong and authentic at the time though does feel like a film made for teens made by one of them, again at the time

In the end, the film ties into a carefree youth whereas most of the characters are poorer so that they base their decisions and behavior more on that and have bigger repercussions but more are doing things to fun as well as survival.

Grade: C

FATHER’S DAY (1997)

fathersday

Directed By: Ivan Reitman
Written By: Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel
Based on the film “Les Comperes” written by: Francis Verber
Cinematography By: Stephen h. Burum
Editor: Sheldon Kahn & Wendy Greene Bricmont

 

CAST: Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Nastassja Kinski, Julia Louise-Dreyfus, Bruce Greenwood, Haylie Johnson, Mark McGrath, Charles Rocket, Jared Harris, Louis Lombardi, Patti D’Arbanville, Ricky Harris, Dana Gould

Jack Lawrence is a smart aleck lawyer who is one day visited by an ex-girlfriend who tells him her kid was his. Enter Dale Putley, a depressed goofball who is also a writer, meets with the same ex-girlfriend who tells him her kid is his. One day Jack and Dale meet and discover what had happened: they’ve been told the same story and now there’s a question of who the real father is. They learn their son is following a rock band called Sugar Ray around. So Jack and Dale hit the road to Sacramento and find their drunk, love-struck son. Soon after they bring him back to their hotel room, their son escapes and Jack and Dale must use teamwork to find him again, bring him home, and find out which one of them is the real father.

Continue reading “FATHER’S DAY (1997)”

NOWHERE (1997)

Written, Edited & Directed By: Greg Araki Cinematography: Arturo Smith

Production Design: Patti Podesta

Cast: James Duval, Rachel True, Christina Applegate, Nathan Bexton, Guillermo Diaz, Jeremy Jordan, Kathleen Robertson, Jordan Ladd, Ryan Philippe, Heather Graham, Charlotte Rae, Chiara Mastroianni, Debi Mazar, Joshua Gibran Mayweather, Mena Suvari, Sarah Lassez, Alan Boyce, Jason Simmons, Beverley D’Angelo, Denise Richards, Teresa Hill, Traci Lords, David Leisure, Eve Plumb, John Ritter, Shannen Doherty, Rose McGowan, Christopher Knight, Stacy Kennan, Devon Odessa, Stephane Sednaoui, Gibby Haynes,

In it’s own way this film is like a nihilistic beach party movie. Way removed from Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

This film is a kind of spoof teen movie like SCREAM making fun of teens and teen movies. While being one but being modern and way over the top. Showcasing what teen moves at the time shows away from showing Drugs, Sex, Suicide, eating disorders, homosexuality, date rape, murder, alien invasions and face it all a rough edge.

The film has cameos and appearances galore which makes it feels like a Robert Altman cast with spot the guest star of musicians and actors who were recognizable at the Time. As well as established actors from television. Where some seem here more to challenge their image and be a bit rebellious

This is a low budget odyssey meant to be surreal with great art direction. The film certainly has a diverse cast where an African American character is the most popular and sought after female in the film. And a Great alternative 90’s soundtrack.

It’s an ensemble so the story and film Is supposed to feel unfocused at times. At heart this film wants to be a comedy. Yet hits in serious issues but at other times ends them in more silly ways.

Though the couples are sexually fluid throughout this is the closest at the time Of director Greg Araki making more heterosexual cinema. As before this most of his film had been considered queer cinema. Though this film has a few same sex pairings.

This is kind of a preview of what his future film KABOOM and Television series NOW APOCALYPSE would be like only more structured. Kind of wish it had more of this films madness and world. Love or hate the films of Greg araki they are never boring.

This is a dark decadent comedy that allows sitcom stars to play against type with different stories going on while an alien invasion is taking place. Letting the stars play more dirty and against type.

This is certainly a film to experience and while more a cult classic that at times tries to find art and beauty in trash. Yet always aspiring to be trash. In more a sharp and stylish way then a John Waters way.

The actual leads of the film are mroe the lesser known names in the cast.

This film seems more like an examination, dedication and showcase of the culture at the time, more California based. Where as it seems full of good looking people, fashion and fads, but they are usually doing the worst or bad things and we get to know some more then just face value. To see what lies inside them and what they cause. As sometimes even the most pretty beauty is all they have to offer. Nothing else really.

The film ends nihilistic like most of Araki’s films here we are all lost or doomed in this unpredictable universe and no matter what all we try and search for is to not be lonely and have that person to go through the best and worst with.

This plays like a demented , warped satire of BEVERY HILLS 90210 and teen movies and culture of the 90’s. The film takes place over one day in california. It follows a group of teen friends and their misadventures. No real solid plot as much of the movie just seems to happen, not much seems actually planned.

Though it’s a teen movie it definitely is not for kids. It tackles all the usual subjects. Drugs (tons of them) Infidelity, Date Rape, Suicide, Love, First dates, Butit also includes new ones like Zombies, Cross Dressing and Fetishes. The film also takes typical cliched characters and turns your pre-concieved notions of them and turns them on their ear.With characters named Dark, zero, ducky, Lucifer, Dingbat, Kozy, Hand Job, and Egg. you know this is not your typical film.

It’s has a very surreal stlye. The saturated colors in scenes. One character even has the lyrics of a song superimposed on his bedroom walls that surround him at every turn. It tries to be more punk style if film more then anything else.

This is the third part of Greg Araki’s Teenage apocalypse trilogy though his film KABOOM deals with similar subjects. Truth be told this at the time was the first film of greg araki’s that i enjoyed. The film is a nihlistic piece of work as usual fro him in his early work. He calls this his first heterosexual film. As most of his previous work was considered gay cinema.

Even though the film takes place in one day. the characters change clothes numerous times throughout the film.

This film is filled with both tons of cameos giving it a all star cast and filled with at the time many up and coming actors. The film is filled with sex but oddly very little nudity. Though it does contain plenty of graphic shocking violence.

This film feels like a chance for the young stars of the film to distort whatever images they have in film and television. To show they have an edge and sense of humor. It also gives them a chanceto do a indie film. Which was the cool thing to do at the time. The film is almost like a time capsule to 90’s culture.

It is a beautiful film to look at no matter how trashy it tries to be. The art Direction, Camera work are truly admirable, but in the same mindset. The film can make things beautiful, but also stomach turning even the characters.

Just like the film the soundtrack is very vivid itself. Scoring the film with uneasiness and energy.

This film is crazy and definately out there, but i can honestly say i enjoyed it enough to give it a mild recommendation.

Grade: B

ALL OVER ME (1997)

alloverme

Directed By: Alex Sitchel
Written By: Sylvia Sitchel
Cinematography: Joe DeSalvo
Editor: Sabine Hoffman

Cast: Allison Folland, Tara Subkoff, Cole Hauser, Shawn Hasoty, Vincent Pastore, Wilson Cruz, Leisha Hailey

Claude and Ellen are best friends who live in a not-so-nice area of New York. They’re involved in the subculture of 90s youth, complete with drugs, live music, and homophobia. All is changed one night when a violent and meaningless death rocks their lives.

Continue reading “ALL OVER ME (1997)”

KISS ME GUIDO (1997)

kiss-me-guido

Written & Directed By: Tony Vitale
Cinematography By: Claudia Raschke
Editor: Alexander Hall

Cast: Nick Scotti, Anthony Barrile, Anthony DeSando, Domeinck Lombardozzi, Christopher Lawford, Jennifer Esposito, Molly Price, Dwight Ewell, Rebecca Waxman, Guinevere Turner

Warren has an extra room in his apartment (and is five months behind on the rent) after his lover moves out, so a friend places an ad on his behalf for a GWM roommate. Frankie, a pizza baker (and aspiring actor), decides to move out of his family’s flat in The Bronx when he comes home one evening and walks in on his brother making love to Frankie’s girlfriend. Frankie checks ads for roommates in “the city” (i.e., Manhattan), notices Warren’s ad and decides to answer it, reasoning that GWM stands for “Guy With Money.”

Continue reading “KISS ME GUIDO (1997)”

MONEY TALKS (1997)

moneytalks

Directed By: Brett Ratner
Written By: Joel Cohen & Alec Sokolow
Cinematography By: Russell Carpenter & Robert Primes
Editor: Mark Helfrich

Cast: Chris Tucker, Charlie Sheen, Heather Locklear, Paul Sorovino, Faizon Love, Elise Neal, Damien Chapa, David Warner, Paul Gleason, Michael Wright, Daniel Roebuck, Veronica Cartwright

Sought by police and criminals, a small-time hustler makes a deal with a TV newsman for protection.

Continue reading “MONEY TALKS (1997)”