REVIEW: DUNE (1984)

CAST
Kyle MacLachlan (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Brad Dourif (Childs Play)
Linda Hunt (Dragonfly)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander II)
Francesca Annis (The Libertine)
Leonardo Cimino (Amityville II)
José Ferrer (Lawrence of Arabia)
Freddie Jones (Young Sherlock Holmes)
Richard Jordan (The Hunt For Red October)
Siân Phillips (Clash of The Titans 1981)
Jürgen Prochnow (Hitman: Agent 47)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Sting (Brimstone & Treacle)
Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap)
Max von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Alicia Witt (Two Weerks Notice)
Sean Young (Blade Runner)
In the distant future the known universe is ruled by Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV. The most important substance in the empire is the drug known as melange or “the spice”. It has many special properties, such as extending life and expanding consciousness. The most profitable and important of its properties is its ability to assist the Spacing Guild with folding space, which allows safe, instantaneous interstellar travel.
Sensing a potential threat to spice production, the Guild sends an emissary to demand an explanation from the Emperor, who confidentially shares his plans to destroy House Atreides. The popularity of Duke Leto Atreides has grown, and he is suspected to be amassing a secret army, making him a threat to the Emperor. Shaddam’s plan is to give the Atreides control of the planet Arrakis (also known as Dune), the only source of spice, and to have them ambushed there by their longtime archenemies, the Harkonnens. The Navigator commands the Emperor to kill the Duke’s son, Paul Atreides, a young man who dreams prophetic visions of his purpose. The order draws the attention of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, as Paul is tied to the centuries-long Bene Gesserit breeding program which seeks to produce the universe’s superbeing, the Kwisatz Haderach. Paul is tested by the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. Paul is forced to place his hand in a box which subjects him to excruciating pain. He passes to Mohiam’s satisfaction.
Meanwhile, on the industrial world of Giedi Prime, the sadistic Baron Vladimir Harkonnen tells his nephews Glossu Rabban and Feyd-Rautha about his plan to eliminate the Atreides by manipulating someone into betraying the Duke. The Atreides leave Caladan for Arrakis, a barren desert planet populated by gigantic sandworms and the Fremen, a mysterious people who have long held a prophecy that a messiah would come to lead them to freedom. Upon arrival on Arrakis, Leto is informed by one of his right-hand men, Duncan Idaho, that the Fremen have been underestimated, as they exist in vast numbers and could prove to be powerful allies. Leto gains the trust of Fremen, but before the Duke can establish an alliance with them, the Harkonnens launch their attack.While the Atreides had anticipated a trap, they are unable to withstand the attack, supported by the Emperor’s elite troops and aided by a traitor within House Atreides, Dr. Wellington Yueh. Captured, Leto dies in a failed attempt to assassinate the Baron Harkonnen using a poison gas capsule planted in his tooth by Dr. Yueh. Leto’s concubine Lady Jessica and his son Paul escape into the deep desert, where they join a band of Fremen, led by Stilgar. Paul emerges as Muad’Dib, the leader for whom the Fremen have been waiting. Paul teaches the Fremen to use the sonic weapons and targets mining production of spice. Within two years, spice production is effectively halted. The Spacing Guild warn the The Emperor of the situation on Arrakis. The Guild fears that Paul will consume the Water of Life. These fears are revealed to Paul in a prophetic dream; he drinks the Water of Life and enters into a trance. Awakening, he is transformed and gains control of the sandworms of Arrakis. He has discovered that water kept in huge caches by the Fremen can be used to destroy the spice. Paul has also seen into space and the future; the Emperor is amassing a huge invasion fleet above Arrakis to regain control of the planet and the spice.
Upon the Emperor’s arrival at Arrakis, he executes Rabban for failing to remedy the spice situation. Paul launches a final attack against the Harkonnens and the Emperor’s elite shock troops at the capital city of Arrakeen. His Fremen warriors defeat the Emperor’s legions, while Paul’s sister Alia kills Baron Harkonnen. Paul faces the defeated Emperor and relieves him of power, then engages Feyd-Rautha in a duel to the death. Paul demonstrates his newfound powers and fulfills the Fremen prophecy that he is the promised messiah by causing rain to fall on Arrakis for the first time ever, as Alia declares him the Kwisatz Haderach.
If you are curious about the film and are familiar with all the bad and discouraging press it has received over the years, yet remain a fan of exceptional fantasy or science fiction, do not be discouraged. You may find that it has elements that may just move you, bewilder you, or tantalise your imagination. You may come to agree, like a growing number of us, that it really is not so deserving of the excoriation that it has suffered at the hands – or pens – of its harshest critics. If you go into it with a forgiving mindset then you may be well rewarded. And then – if you haven’t already – read the saga itself. It is formidably great

REVIEW: FLASH GORDON (1980)

CAST

Sam J. Jones (Ted)
Melody Anderson (Battlestar Galactica 1979)
Max Von Sydow (solomon Kane)
Topol (Galileo)
Ornella Muti (Postcards from Rome)
Timothy Dalton (Penny Dreadful)
Brian Blessed (Alexander)
Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter)
Richard O’Brien (Dark City)
George Harris (Layer Cake)
Deep Roy (Star Trek)
Kenny Baker (Star Wars)

Flash Gordon (1980)Emperor Ming the Merciless declares that he will first play with and then destroy the Earth using natural disasters. On Earth, New York Jets football star “Flash” Gordon boards a small plane, where he meets travel journalist Dale Arden. Mid-flight, the cockpit is hit by a meteorite and the pilots are lost. Flash takes control and manages to crash land into a greenhouse owned by Dr. Hans Zarkov. Zarkov, who believes the disasters are being caused because an unknown source is pushing the Moon towards Earth, has secretly constructed a spacecraft which he plans to use to investigate. Zarkov’s assistant refuses to go, so he lures Flash and Dale aboard. The rocket launches, taking them to the planet Mongo, where they are captured by Ming’s troops.
Sam J. Jones in Flash Gordon (1980)The three are brought before Ming. He orders Dale be prepared for his pleasure. Flash tries to resist, but is overpowered. Ming orders Zarkov be reprogrammed and Flash executed. Ming’s daughter, Princess Aura, seduces Ming’s surgeon into saving Flash, to whom she is attracted. As they escape, Flash sees Zarkov being brainwashed by Klytus, the metal-faced head of the secret police. Aura and Flash flee to Arboria, kingdom of Prince Barin, Aura’s lover. En route, Aura teaches Flash to use a telepathic communicator to contact Dale. He lets her know he is alive. Dale is locked in Ming’s bedchamber, but encouraged by Flash, she escapes. Klytus sends Zarkov to intercept Dale, who tells him and Klytus that Flash is alive. They then escape, as Zarkov reveals he resisted the brainwashing. They are captured by Prince Vultan’s Hawkmen and taken to Sky City.
Melody Anderson in Flash Gordon (1980)Aura and Flash arrive at Arboria. Aura asks the Prince to keep Flash safe. A distrustful Barin, in love with Aura, agrees not to kill Flash, but then forces him to perform a deadly ritual. Barin and Flash take turns sticking their hands into a hollow stump with a giant scorpion-like Wood Beast inside. When Flash has to take an extra turn, he pretends to be stung as a distraction and escapes. Barin follows, but they are both captured by the Hawkmen.
Melody Anderson, Ornella Muti, Max von Sydow, Sam J. Jones, Topol, and Peter Wyngarde in Flash Gordon (1980)Klytus informs Ming that Flash is alive and is given authority to find out who is responsible. Aura returns and is taken prisoner and tortured by Klytus and General Kala. They force her to confess and Ming banishes her to the ice moon Frigia after his wedding. Meanwhile, Flash and Barin are taken to Sky City, where Flash and Dale are briefly reunited. Flash is forced to fight Barin to the death, but Barin joins him when Flash saves his life. Klytus arrives and Flash and Barin kill him. Knowing that this will bring retribution, Vultan orders the Hawkmen to evacuate, leaving Barin, Flash, Dale and Zarkov behind. Ming’s ship arrives and he orders Barin, Zarkov and Dale to be taken aboard. Ming is impressed with Flash, and offers him lordship over Earth in exchange for loyalty, which Flash refuses. Ming gives the order to destroy Vultan’s kingdom along with Flash. Flash finds a rocket cycle and escapes before Sky City is destroyed.
Timothy Dalton, Ornella Muti, and Sam J. Jones in Flash Gordon (1980)Flash contacts Vultan, who is hiding on Arboria and they plot an attack on Mingo City. Flash pretends to attack Mingo City alone on his rocket cycle. General Kala dispatches the war rocket Ajax to kill Flash, but the Hawkmen ambush and seize the rocket. Meanwhile, Princess Aura overpowers her guard and frees Barin and Zarkov from the execution chamber. Flash and the Hawkmen attack Mingo City in Ajax and Kala activates the defenses, as Ming and Dale’s wedding begins. Mingo City’s lightning field can only be penetrated by flying Ajax into it at a suicidal speed. Flash volunteers to stay at the helm to ensure success and allow the Hawkmen to invade the city.
Ornella Muti in Flash Gordon (1980)Barin and Zarkov enter the control room to stop the lightning field, encountering Kala who refuses to deactivate it. She attempts to kill Zarkov, but Barin shoots and kills her. Without Kala they are unable to deactivate the field from that control room. Barin tells Zarkov to hold the fort while he heads to Sector Alpha. Zarkov keeps trying, but is unable to deactivate the shield.
Max von Sydow and Peter Wyngarde in Flash Gordon (1980)Barin fights through Ming’s guards and gets to Sector Alpha and deactivates the lightning field before Ajax hits it. Flash flies the rocket ship into the city’s wedding hall and the ship’s bow impales Ming. He falls off the rocket nose, seriously wounded and Flash offers to spare his life if he will stop the attack on Earth, but Ming refuses. Ming attempts to use his power ring on Flash, but his power falters and nothing happens. He then aims the ring at himself and is seemingly vaporized by its remaining power seconds before the counter to the destruction of the Earth reaches zero. A huge victory celebration ensues.
Ornella Muti and Sam J. Jones in Flash Gordon (1980)Barin and Aura become the new leaders in Ming’s place. Barin names Vultan the leader of their armies. Flash, Dale, and Zarkov discuss returning to Earth. Zarkov says he doesn’t know how they will get back, but they will try. Barin tells them all they’re welcome to stay, but Dale says she’s a New York City girl, and it’s now too quiet around Mongo.
Sam J. Jones in Flash Gordon (1980)The final frame shows Ming’s ring being picked up by the hand of an unseen person. Ming’s laugh echoes as the credits roll. Following the credits the text “The End” is shown on the screen before a question mark (?) is appended.Ornella Muti and Max von Sydow in Flash Gordon (1980)Flash Gordon is one of the greatest movie of all-time. Whatever you do, watch this movie over and over- you’ll be glad you did.

REVIEW: CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982)

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Max Von Sydow (Game of Thrones)
Sandahl Bergman (Red Sonja)
Ben Davidson (Behind The Green Door)
Cassandra Gava (The Amityville Curse)
Gerry Lopez (Big Wednesday)
Mako (Memoirs ofa Geisha)
Valérie Quennessen  (Summer Lovers)
William Smith (The Outsiders)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)

Conan the Barbarian is a film about a young barbarian’s quest to avenge his parents’ deaths. The story is set in the fictional Hyborian Age, thousands of years before the rise of modern civilization. The film opens with the title card, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”, a paraphrasing of Friedrich Nietzsche, followed by a voice-over that establishes the film as the story of Conan’s origin.After watching his father forge a sword, Conan is told of the Riddle of Steel, an aphorism on the importance of the metal to their people, the Cimmerians. Soon after, the Cimmerians are massacred by a band of warriors led by the evil wizard Thulsa Doom with Conan’s father killed by the band’s dogs. After watching his father’s newly forged sword being used by Doom to decapitate Conan’s mother, Conan is taken into slavery where he is chained to a large mill, the “Wheel of Pain”, for years. Having grown into a strong man, Conan is then sold to a new master and trained to be a gladiator. Eventually, after winning many pit fights, Conan is freed. While fleeing from wild dogs, Conan stumbles upon an ancient tomb and takes refuge inside it. Inside the tomb, he finds an Atlantean General’s ceremoniously displayed corpse along with his sword which he takes as his own. As he wanders the world, Conan encounters a young witch, with whom he has sex in exchange for information about Doom. However, she turns into a demon mid-coitus, forcing Conan to drive her off. Conan also befriends the witch’s captive Subotai, a thief and archer who becomes Conan’s companion.
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Following the witch’s advice, Conan and Subotai go to Shadizar, in the land of Zamora, to seek out Doom. They meet Valeria, a female brigand. The three burgle the “Tower of Serpents”, a temple of Doom’s snake cult, and steal a large jewel—the Eye of the Serpent—and other valuables; Conan and Subotai also battle and slay a large snake, to which a girl was about to be sacrificed. After escaping with their loot, the thieves celebrate and end up in a drunken stupor. Conan and Valeria fall in love. The city guards capture them and bring them to King Osric. He requests they rescue his daughter, who has joined Doom’s cult. Subotai and Valeria do not want to take up the quest; Conan, motivated by his hatred for Doom, sets off alone to the villain’s Temple of Set.
Disguised as a priest, Conan infiltrates the temple but he is discovered, captured, and tortured. Doom lectures him on the power of flesh, which he demonstrates by compelling a girl to leap to her death. He then orders Conan crucified on the “Tree of Woe”. The barbarian is on the verge of death when he is discovered by Subotai and brought to Akiro, the Wizard of the Mounds and Conan’s future chronicler, who lives on a burial site for warriors and kings. The wizard summons spirits to heal Conan and warns that they will “extract a heavy toll”, which Valeria is willing to pay. These spirits also try to abduct Conan, but he is restored to health after Valeria and Subotai fend them off.
Subotai and Valeria agree to complete Osric’s quest with Conan and they infiltrate the Temple of Set as the cult indulges in a cannibalistic orgy. Though they succeed in getting away with the princess, Valeria is killed by Doom using a stiffened snake as an arrow. After cremating Valeria at the Mounds, Conan prepares with Subotai and Akiro to deal with Doom’s men through booby-traps and exploiting the terrain. During the fight, Valeria reappears for a brief moment as a Valkyrie to save Conan from a mortal blow.Conan recovers his father’s sword during the fight, although its blade is broken. After losing his men, Doom shoots another stiffened snake at the princess. Subotai blocks the shot and the villain flees to his temple.
 Conan sneaks back into the temple where Doom stands at the top of a long stairway, addressing the members of his cult. Conan confronts Doom, who attempts to mesmerize him, but the barbarian resists and uses his father’s sword to behead his nemesis, finally avenging the deaths of Valeria, his family, and his people. After throwing Doom’s head down the stairs, with his disillusioned followers leaving for their homes, Conan burns down the temple and returns the princess to her father before heading westward

The film that kicked started the Barbarian craze of the early 1980’s, often imitated but never equalled. Starring a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in a role which fit him like a glove Conan the Barbarian has it all from sword and sorcery to epic battles and even a reasonably emotional back story, the film is justifiably a true classic of its time.

REVIEW: MINORITY REPORT

 

CAST

Tom Cruise (Knight and Day)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Colin Farrell (The Lobster)
Samantha Morton (John Carter)
Steve Harris (The Rock)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Kathryn Morris (Cold Case)
Patrick Kilpatrick (Under Siege 2)
Jessica Capshaw (Valentine)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2)
Karina Logue (Bates Motel)
Jim Rash (That 70s Show)
Tim Blake Nelson (Fantastic Four)
Ashley Crow (Heroes)
Joel Gretsch (V)
Peter Stormare (22 Jump Street)
Daniel London (Gotham)
William Mapother (Powers)
Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Cameron Diaz (Sex Tape)
Kirk B.R. Woller (Hulk)
Victor Raider-Wexler (Dr. Dolittle 2)
Bonnie Morgan (Rings)
Anne Judson-Yager (Bring It On Again)
Meredith Monroe (13 Reasons Why)
Sumalee Montano (Justice League vs The Fatal Five)

MV5BMTkwNjM2MzI3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzIyOTAzMw@@._V1_It is the year 2054 and a team of 3 “pre cogs” (psychics) are sedated and sitting in a pool in Washington, DC. They see crimes before they happen, allowing the police force to see the images that they see and work to solve the crime from what images they are given. One of the heads of the pre-crime force is Chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise), a man who has understandably never recovered from the loss of his son a few years back. It doesn’t take particularly long for the film’s main plot to kick in: the pre-cogs, thought to be never wrong, send down another report of a possible crime: unfortunately, the criminal in the vision looks to be Anderton himself, with the victim a man that he’s never met. Much of the remainder of the nearly 150 minute picture involves Anderton going on the run to find out if either the pre-cogs are wrong or if someone’s somehow set him up.Spielberg’s visualization of the future is something incredible to behold and actually, far more enjoyable to be plunked down in than what’s presented usually in these kinds of films. The houses in this 2054 often look the same as they do now – however, most of the changes in technology – billboards that scan one’s eye to personally sell to them, highways that look like awfully smooth sailing in electronic cars – seem like possibilities.The film’s visual effects are truly phenomenal, capturing things like the highways with seemingly hundreds of electric cars quite convincingly. Even smaller effects seemed seamless and crisply rendered. The effects are also used appropriately; this is not a film where effects come first and story second.The performances are generally excellent. Cruise has always been a pretty good actor, Farrell (as a Government agent checking up on the pre-crime system), Max von Sydow (as head of the department) and others also offer fine support. The film’s screenplay (by Jon Cohen and Scott Frank) is also superb, with several thought-provoking twists and turns.