Saturday, August 19, 2017

Movie Review: Willy Fog In 20000 Leagues Under the Sea

Willy Fog In 20000 Leagues Under the Sea a.k.a  The Adventures of Willy Fog: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea a.k.a Willy Fog Matka kapteeni Nemon kanssa
BRB Internacional S.A., Televisión Española (TVE), Spain, Taiwan, 1993/1995.
Loosely based on characters created by Jules Verne.

"Around the World with Willy Fog" or "La vuelta al mundo de Willy Fog" was popular cartoon in Finland in the 1980s, "the Lion version" of Jules Verne's classic novel "Around the World in 80 Days." A sequel series "Willy Fog 2" was also made based on "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." Some episodes were cut into TV-movies. In the series most of the heroes were felines (except Tico who is hamster) whereas the antagonists were mostly canines. Interestingly, BRB produced also another classic series "Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds" where the heroes were dogs. Both "Willy Fog" and "Muskehounds" had theme songs that everyone who has seen the series remembers.

1871, London. Sea monster is attacking ships and US government asks gentleman adventurer Willy Fog to join the hunt. Of course Willy agrees and his wife Princess Romy and their loyal servants Passepartout and Tico pack their suitcases and get on board Abraham Lincoln. Harpooner Ned Land and Professor Aronnax are there too to offer help. And so the ship sees a sea beast roaming the ocean. The beast is made of metal so Ned's harpoons have no effect. The heroes are swept overboard and captured to Captain Nemo's submarine Nautilus.
Willy Fog
Passepartout and Tico
The crew is hostile and they don't even respect tea-time. Those barbarians. Being early pioneer of Bartitsu-style, Willy teaches some habits to the crew when they treat Romy disrespectfully. However some crew members are nice and the boat has a talented cook who makes even seaweed tasty. The Captain is a mysterious organ-playing figure.
Willy and Romy overboard
Prof. Aronnax and Ned Land join the adventure
The Cook
Paranoid Captain Nemo is sinking all ships that get on his way. Ned doesn't allow that and together the heroes save a ship that was almost sunk by Nemo's torpedoes. But what about all the sunken ships? Who cares. The premise of the quest is quickly forgotten (either because of slack scriptwriting that doesn't explain Nemo's motives or cutting of the original episodes) and everyone just enjoys the voyage. Although Nemo is basically a homicidal monomaniac he is also a gentleman who loves oceans (think about prototype of Karl Stromberg from "The Spy Who Loved Me") and shows Willy & friends the wonders of the underwater world. But a treacherous crew member plots against Willy. And dangerous icebergs and giant octopus threaten the boat too.
Captain Nemo
Ned prevents sinking of an innocent ship
The animation was made in Taiwan and it looks considerably cheaper than the original series that was coproduced with Nippon Animation, practically making it anime. The sequel series is not ugly like Dingo animations but the difference to the original is still noticeable (for example Romy has developed a squint).
The new characters Aronnax and Ned are quite one-use characters, and Nemo's character is mindbogglingly conflicted. But the main characters Willy, Romy, Passepartout and Tico are the same ones that were lovable in the original series, and their adventure has funny and exciting moments.

Rating: Good (Willy Fog fans)Average (otherwise)

Finnish version voice actors: Eero Saarinen, Heikki Määttänen, Ari-Matti Hedman, Elise Langenoja, Arto Nieminen, Minna Tasanto, Anssi Känsälä ja Pauli Virta
Director: Claudio Biern Boyd

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Movie Review: Atomic Twister

Atomic Twister
Once Upon a Time Films, TBS Superstation, USA, 2002. 

Single-mother Corrine Maguire (Sharon Lawrence) and her son Campbell (Daniel Costello) have moved to small town in Tennessee. Neighbour Jake Hannah (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is a virile police officer, who has a childhood's trauma. Tornado killed his mother, or that's what the told to Campbell. Jake has trouble with his former girl friend Ashley Bishop (Charmaine Guest) whose father happens to be Jake's boss Sheriff C.B. Bishop (Corbin Bernsen). So there is enough drama potential for a regular teen soap-opera. 
Sharon Lawrence
Mark-Paul Gosselaar
Charmaine Guest
Campbell is a player-wannabe who wants to play Twister with his considerably older and curvy nanny Stacy (Joanna Morrison). Naughty kid. 
Joanna Morrison
But this is a disaster movie though. Corrine works in Helman-Klein nuclear plant. Security guard Stu (performed by Olympic champion Carl Lewis) is the only security of the plant that is manned by about 5 people. The reactor is safe and protected from meltdown. But is it tornado-proof? Of course not! The tornado is threatening the plant and even Stu can not sprint fast enough to avoid a dark fate. The communications are lost and the Standard Operating Procedure for Disaster Situations seems to be gone with the wind as no-one really knows what to do. Jake brings an emergency radio, but it only works outside (!) Also the nuclear power plant has chronic power shortages (!!)
Carl Lewis
This makes the safety procedures and management of Chernobyl look good.

If the tornado blows up the Calvin-Klein plant, it would have a huge negative impact on the property prices of the state (bad). So Dr. Martin Jennings (James Gaylyn) from Nuclear Regulatory Commission sends some experts to prevent the disaster. The only expert who gets to the location on time is Manuel Fluentez (George Henare) so Corrine and her work-mates Neville (John Sumner), Gail (Meryl Main) and Potter (Jonathan Blick) have to gain time to prevent the disaster. At the same time Corinne tries to save her son.
Meryl Main
Gail stares at the monitor while Corrine looks horrified
Jonathan Blick and John Sumner
Potter and Neville
Modest TV movie has dramatic music that sometimes sounds like background music from original "MacGyver." Although it is not quite worst of Syfy-style films, there are many scenes that make you shake your head. There is not much believability and the technical details are horrible. In one scene a guy has to walk through a  radioactive area to hit the shutdown switch. One would think moving quickly would shorten the exposure time to radiation but no. Let's stroll slowly admiring the scenery instead. And with Stu dead just about anyone can wander into the nucular plant without hindrance. And if something is broken, kick it and it works again.
Yes, they really are tornadoes.

Some amusingly bad scenes and nice-looking ladies make it watchable. Otherwise it is pretty basic cheap disaster film that delivers a small amount of suspense.

No radiation-laced tornado is seen. Now that would be silly. That would be like combining already dangerous tornado with something overkill like sharks. What?
Corbin Bernsen drinking coffee

Rating: Bad or So bad it is good

Starring: Sharon Lawrence, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Carl Lewis, Jonathan Blick, Daniel Costello, Charmaine Guest, George Henare, John Leigh, John Sumner, Corbin Bernsen, David Aston, Paul Barrett, Grant Bridger, Katrina Devine, Peter Feeney, Taylor Garton, James Gaylyn, Michele Hine, Meryl Main, Joanna Morrison, Ashleigh Seagar, Jared Michael Thomas, Louise Wallace, Sara Wiseman, Roz Turnbull, Jak Wyld
Director: Bill Corcoran

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Movie Review: Chasers

Morgan Creek Productions, USA, 1994.

Sailor Eddie Devane (William McNamara) has a last day in the service of U.S. Navy. Couple of shady deals should be still completed, selling a cargo of army pants and covering the tracks together with partner-in-crime Howard (Crispin Glover). He has already ordered a Porsche from Salesman Stig (Dean Stockwell). However Eddie gets a last duty to escort a prisoner to court. There's no way to avoid the duty so he has to go on a mission with tough chief petty officer Rock Reilly (Tom Berenger) who already hates him.
Tom Berenger and William McNamara
Rock & Eddie
Due to technical error the prisoner they have to escort is a woman. Seductive Toni Johnson (Erika Eleniak) tries to escape on every possible occasion. Slowly the mismatched trio begins to develop fondness for each other. Nothing bonds better than little fist fighting and backstabbing.
Erika Eleniak
Happily strolling on the countryside
Country music plays and quips fly. There is an amusing brief role from Gary Busey, he appears as pesky prison warden. This was the last feature film directed by Dennis Hopper, he appears here as pervy underwear salesman. Seymour Cassel appears as Master Chief Bogg.
Seymour Cassel
Master Chief Bogg
Gary Busey
Sergeant Banger
It is not very outstanding military comedy, with many ideas left half-way but has some fun scenes and is in some way entertaining. Berenger is pleasantly grumpy, Dwight Yoakam's songs and other country music are good and the story has a mild feel-good aftertaste. There is some nice southern country atmosphere with diners and roadhouses, 1970s-80s road comedies were perhaps the inspiration. There is some eye-candy for fans of William McNamara and Erika Eleniak, if you know what I mean. Still with the cast more fun could have been expected.

Rating: Average

Starring: Tom Berenger, William McNamara, Erika Eleniak, Crispin Glover, Matthew Glave, Grand L. Bush, Dean Stockwell, Bitty Schram, Gary Busey, Seymour Cassel, Frederic Forrest, Marilu Henner, Dennis Hopper, Scott Marlowe, Jim Grimshaw, Mick McGovern, Charles Page, Richard Pelzman, Laura Cathey, Jim Bath, Michael Flippo, Rick Warner, Rob Priester, Gene Dann, Jon Rodgers, Michael Martin, Victoria Duffy, Michael O'Brien, Elizabeth Hawkins, Tony Donno, Wallace Wilkinson, Robert Pentz, Jackson 'Rock' Pinckney, Jimmie Lee Sessoms, Melissa Wyler, Ted Detwiler, Bob Dorough, John Christopher Stuart, Toni Prima, David E. Harshbarger, Matthew Sullivan, Justin Thaler
Director: Dennis Hopper 

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