The Best Film I Never Saw: Enemy Mine (1985)

One Of The Best Examples Of 80's Science Fiction. So Why Doesn't Anybody Talk About It?

by robotGEEK

It blows my mind that this wasn't a film that I grew up on. I think I might have had some preconceived notions about what type of film it was going to be. I guess in my mind I imagined it being a film where the entire running time was spent with a man and an alien talking. And I honestly don't know why I thought that. It could have been that I never (ever) heard anyone mention it, and otherwise prove me wrong. I'm serious. In all my life, I have never heard anyone talk about this movie. How is that even possible? Even as an adult, I never come across posts about it on any of the sites I follow or any of the Instagram pages I follow that should love this movie. Well I finally just decided to give it a try out of the blue, and to my surprise, it's a goddamn masterpiece. 

While my initial summation is partly true in that it is in fact a film about a man and an alien stranded on a planet and have to live together to survive, there is so much more going on here. It's an epic sci-fi adventure that manages to seamlessly throw in many different genre's (drama, thriller, adventure, action, science fiction) and elements into a single film, that it kind of gives you a bit of everything. Not to mention that for such a small cast, the acting is just impeccable. You end up feeling for these 2 characters in a way I was not expecting. 

I am so in love with this film for so many reasons, because there's just so much to love. For starters, the practical effects work, production design and overall aesthetic reminds me so much of The Last Starfighter, Starman and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - all films I love dearly. Then there's Wolfgang Peterson's (Outbreak, Air Force One) visually stunning direction. Coming off the heels of The Neverending Story, he effortlessly dives into science fiction like a pro. The first and last act integrate a lot of visual and practical effects with spaceships, weaponry, battles and space stations that remind us why this era was the best in science fiction filmmaking. 35 years after it's release and what I saw in here STILL looks better than anything put out today with massive budgets.

Even though a good chunk of the film deals with the rocky relationship of these 2 fighters on a desolate and uninhabitable planet, you're invested in it fully. The world that director Peterson and the production team have created is incredible to look at, but Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr.'s performances are what sell it. While full of dramatic moments, there are also moments that are funny, tender, sad and even horrifying. One word that keeps popping in my head when trying to describe it is that it's full of "heart", and the more I think of it, the more it couldn't be more true. We even get the late-great Brion James as a slimy villain, how much more convincing do you need?

Finally having seen it, it blows my mind that this wasn't a hit, only recovering a fraction of its budget. Even more so that it didn't become a hit on home video, which is where it could easily have recovered some of it's loss. Though it seems like a film that probably played on HBO or Cinemax back in the 80's, I never came across it personally. If I had, I can guarantee you that this would have been a lifelong favorite. And I watched a LOT of HBO and Cinemax back then. Hey, I was 9. And this was right before Nintendo took the world by storm. What else are you going to do during the summer?

What's interesting is that nobody turned me onto this. Somehow it just popped in my head that I need to take the time to finally see it. It could have been while I was digging through someones filmography related to this on IMDB for something and realized I never saw it before. I rented it on Amazon instead of purchasing it because I didn't know if I'd actually like it. Well I fucking LOVE it. I love it to death and immediately after finishing it I looked online to see what releases there were available. It looks like Twilight Time is the first company to release this on Blu Ray in the US, but as expected, that limited release goes for upwards of $100. However, Umbrella Entertainment out of Australia released it on Blu Ray for a much more affordable price and Region Free, which is the route I'm going to go because this needs to be in my collection permanently. 


Revisiting Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Ben Affleck Shines As Batman In A Brutally Messy Film

by robotGEEK

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a fan of Zack Snyder's dark superhero universe. I didn't particularly enjoy Man of Steel (even though I was quite excited to see it initially), and once again going into BVS excitedly, I was let down all over again. Not only let down, I hated it. Exiting the film screening with a group of friends I was audibly upset and annoyed by what I had just seen. Needless to say, I avoided revisiting it all these years until now. And to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I even wanted to revisit it. I think it's mainly because I'm going through a Batman phase at the moment, and just wanted to see if my perception had changed any since watching it 4 years ago at the cinema. 

To put it frankly, the answer is no. The film is a giant muddled mess. It's too overly dramatic and depressing. Everyone is constantly pouting. It's way too long for it's own good. This time around I decided to go with the Directors Cut, thinking maybe that would change my mind, but it didn't. If anything, it made things worse. It's a convoluted and an incredibly and overly complicated mess with so many storylines going on that I honestly couldn't tell you what it was even about. At least a good half hour could have been cut and it wouldn't have affected a damn thing because when a movie is so damn nihilistic, dour and full constant dread, the over 3 hour runtime feels more like 6 hours. I felt like it would never end. It took me 3 sittings just to get through it. Did we really need another Batman origin story? And let's just get to the main issue that everyone, including myself, complained about right from the beginning. For a film that's called Batman Versus Superman, and for a film that is literally over 3 hours long, Bat's and Supe's maybe fight for a total of 20 minutes??? I might as well throw in there that I was not a fan of Jesse Eisenberg's whiny, bratty, childish Lex Luther. You could have cast a moody puberty-stricken 13 year old and gotten the same results. 

It's not a total loss though. Wonder Woman steals the show in every scene she's in. And goddamn what an epic fucking entrance. Perfect. Just perfect. But for me personally it's all about Batman here. I'm just going to say it. Ben Affleck is the BEST Batman to hit the screen since Michael Keaton. Of course I know not everyone will agree and not everyone even likes Keaton for that matter, but man I just loved what Affleck did with the character here. I loved the older take on Wayne, the salt and pepper hair, the bigger, broader physique, the always-present stubble, the lower measured voice, and most of all, I loved the Batsuit, one of several homages to Frank Miller's genre-defining The Dark Knight Returns. I admired that they didn't try to go the more realistic "tactical" approach to the design the way Christopher Nolan's films did with the suit (which also seems to be what Matt Reeves is doing with his new Batman film, for better or worse). Here it looks like something you'd see in a comic book, but still distinctly all it's own. While not 100% copying Miller's design, it's close enough to see the inspiration. 

Every moment Batman or Bruce was on screen, the film was good. Even the much-discussed and dissected "dream sequence" was brilliant, even if it didn't make any sense. It just looked fucking cool. Batman played such a large role in this, even though technically it is a sequel to Man of Steel if I remember correctly, that I couldn't help but feel that if they just took every scene that he was in, they could easily have made a standalone Batman film, because I have to admit that while I was no fan of Snyder's work in the directors chair here, I feel he did make Batman look badass, and I think a sliced-together cut of Batmans scenes here would make a dark, brutal and gritty Batman film with Ben Affleck shining as the caped crusader. But that's just my opinion. 

Now off to finally check out Justice League....


90's Action Attack!: Mission of Justice (1992)

One Of The Best Blow-For-Blow Fight Films To Hit DTV

by robotGEEK

It's so easy to get discouraged with the DTV market when you see so many of these low-budget action films and the majority of them end up being either awful or just plain dull. Hell, I can admit that I didn't really enjoy Jeff Wincott's Martial Outlaw (1993) all that much myself. While Wincott himself was fine, I found the film lacking overall in nearly every department: direction, choreography, fight sequences and it's general overall tone. That film just reeked of cheapness. But I know he can deliver some bangers, because Last Man Standing is a film I still consider one of the best in both PM Entertainment's filmography as well as that specific genre in general. Well, after a few weeks of duds, I found another winner. 

When a ruthless neo-fascist leader is running for mayor, and will do whatever it takes to get there, even if it resorts to murder. When she kills a friend of local cop Kurt Harris (Wincott), he goes undercover to infiltrate her secret underground organization to find out the truth. 

I have to admit that this film really surprised me at every turn. First and foremost, you just know it's going to be a good time when Brigitte Nielsen is the main villain. But that's not all. Her henchman are some real badasses in the world of action such as Matthias Hues, Andrew Lew and a few other stunt performers and martial artists you'll most certainly recognize. But for me, the most impressive person I found in here was Karen Shepard (pictured above), someone I'd never heard of before....surprisingly, but literally blew me away here. She plays Kurt's partner, who wants to believe him and stands up for him any chance she gets, but always ends up finding herself in the thick of it when the shit hits the fan. What I found surprising his how her character is slowly revealed to be a total badass as the film progresses until she has several shining moments where her incredible martial arts skills come into play. How I've never heard of her, or why she's not a better known female action star is beyond me. 

The fight scenes take center stage here, and they are just fucking brutal. In fact, the second I finished watching it, I messaged a buddy of mine and told him this was hands-down one of the best blow-for-blow fighting films I've ever seen in the low-budget action genre. There are no explosions, car chases or even gun fights from what I can recall. While there are plenty of guns and yes there are shootings, they always end up turning into fist fights and they always go on much longer than you're expecting, which is a good thing! Right from the first fight inside a liquor store during a robbery that Harris unfoils while on patrol, you know you're in for with the fights and choreography. Quality. A much higher quality than we're accustomed to with these types of films, and every time I thought they couldn't surprise me, they always did. The film is filled with numerous moments of badassery and an insane number of fights, but there are 3 in particular that stood out for me, one of them being a full on tournament-style underground battle that literally came out of nowhere and ended up being one of the best sequences in the entire film. Again, one of the film's many strengths is in the way that these are better than most fights I see in films that were hitting theaters during this time.

So we've got a pretty killer cast here full of action baddies, the amazonian Brigitte Nielsen, the surprisingly badass Karen Sheperd, and of course the always reliable Jeff Wincott. But I have to give props to director Steve Barnett (Mindwarp, Scanner Cop II), a post-production supervisor on big budget films such as Live Free or Die Hard, with only 9 credits as a film director, and none of them dealing with martial arts or even action for that matter. How he was able to deliver one of the best looking action films I've seen in ages, while others who do it for a living and still turn out turds is really surprising to me. He shoots the fight scenes so well, like he's done it before, and gives the entire a film an upgrade in quality that we usually don't see in these types of films. When someone takes just as much time to set up a slick looking shot that has nothing to do with the action just as much as he does for the action sequences, well that's always something to take notice of. It's a shame he didn't direct more DTV action films, he has a natural gift and he made this film look great. And it's because of this that I'll probably check out Scanner Cop II eventually. 

Mission of Justice is currently streaming on Amazon Prime


90's Thriller Throwback: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

One Of The Best Batman Films Period

by robotGEEK

It blows my mind that it's taken me this long to finally get to this. Mind you, I was obsessed with the landmark Animated Series when it first came out. I remember being in middle school, and running home to catch it every day after school. I bought the toys religiously, and was a bigger fan than your average nerdy kid who just liked the show. Hell, I even have a blanket that I used every single day of my life from the day I bought it back in the 90's. Yet for some reason I never took the time to watch this movie. And we all know the whole story behind this by now; how or why it came to be, and why it did not do well at the box office. If you need a refresher, here's a great video about the whole history behind it and it's reception by Toy Galaxy, one of my favorite YouTuber's who really make great videos geared towards vintage toys and cartoons. You can check that video out HERE

Well I finally made time (thank you Netflix!), and I have to say, it's easily one of the BEST Batman films ever made. This isn't just a longer version of one of the Animated Series episodes. Right from the start you can clearly see a huge upgrade in quality in the animation. So much so that you wish they had put that amount of effort into the episodes, but I understand why they couldn't. And while I will admit that the big reveal was already spoiled for me before going in, it didn't take away any of my enjoyment. 

What surprised me was how "mature" this film was, and after having finally seen it, I could see how it could have turned some of the younger audience off who were used to the oftentimes silliness of the animated show. And while the series was always known for it's Art Deco aesthetics, which is beautifully captured here in glorious widescreen, I loved how they pushed it even further in both that area as well as the old film noir genre, making it feel like an old gangster film from time to time, with hints of the feeling of Burton's first Batman film. And if you go in expecting wall to wall action, you're going to be disappointed, because another one of it's many surprises is that it plays out more like a character study set in the world of film noir than anything else. Yes there's action, and boy is it amazing, but the film doesn't try to rely strictly on that to keep you entertained. Instead the focus is on story, and it makes you think. It makes you pay attention. 

I've been in somewhat of a Batman kick lately, having revisited Burton's Batman  (my favorite film of all time) a few times in the last week alone, and finally revisited Snyder's Batman V Superman for the first time since I saw it in theaters. At this point, I would have to say this is my second favorite Batman film, followed by Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. I'm looking to revisit the animated Dark Knight Returns Double-Feature soon, as well as finally getting to the live action Justice League, something I've avoided until now, if only to see if Ben Affleck's pitch-perfect Batman performance from BVS carries over to that film. But I loved this. It was better than I was expecting and such a different experience than I imagined going in with plenty of surprises in store.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is currently streaming on Netflix in the U.S.. It's also included in the Blu-Ray set of the Animated Series or as a standalone Blu-Ray release. 

Exploring The Black Hole - The Movie That Changed Disney Forever

The Black Hole Documentary We've All Been Waiting For

If you're as big a fan of Disney's The Black Hole like I am, the you've probably wondered why we still haven't gotten any kind of "behind the scenes" featurette on any of their physical releases, a "Making Of" book (which is honestly really surprising since they release these things for even the most awful movies), much less a definitive feature length documentary. It's been 41 years since the release of this science fiction masterpiece and I would have thought that when we hit the 40 year mark, Disney would have invested in "something", but no. They didn't even put anything on their Black Hole Blu Ray release when they "finally" made that happen, albeit for Disney Club members only. 

Well I've got good news for you. I happened to come across this amazing retrospective on YouTube while casually browsing and I'm here to tell you, it's everything we wanted in a Black Hole documentary and more. While clocking in at just under an hour, the information is thrown at us at a fast and furious pace. If you're like me, you're probably going to have to watch this a few times just to retain all the information. 

Exploring The Black Hole - The Movie That Changed Disney Forever comes to us courtesy of the fine folks over at GoodBadFlicks on YouTube and let me tell you, they do their homework. There is so much vital information in here that will want you craving more, and after watching it, and learning of how important this film was to not only Disney, but to special effects in general, I'm still shocked that there isn't an official documentary. That title is no lie. This film, while a box office bomb, forever changed Disney for a number of different reasons in many different ways and this excellent video touches on all of that, as well as the making of the film itself. 

It still blows my mind that this film still doesn't get the love and respect it deserves. I'm glad to know that there are people out there like this guy, who love it just as much as I do. While it's certainly developed a cult following in the decades since it's disastrous release, it's still nowhere near the beloved classic it deserves to be, and that's such a shame. Anyway, enjoy!