Armyan Bernstein

Armyan Bernstein

Armyan Bernstein Quick Links

Film RSS

The Guardian Review


Grim
Much like Top Gun and, to a lesser extent, An Officer and a Gentleman, Andrew Davis' boys-in-basic-training melodrama The Guardian primarily functions as a recruitment tool for its chosen military branch. The Coast Guard would do well to have volunteers posted outside theaters this weekend. Put down the popcorn, pass around the sign-up sheet, and point the way to the pool - we're ready to enlist.

These movies have an established pattern, and Guardian follows it to the letter. To borrow a phrase from Ron L. Brinkerhoff's soggy screenplay, Guardian swims with the current as it tics off predictable accomplishments en route to a by-the-book conclusion. At times, it's laudable. At times, it's laughable. But nothing prepared me for the sheer atrocity that occurs in the film's final frames.

Continue reading: The Guardian Review

The Guardian Review


Grim
Much like Top Gun and, to a lesser extent, An Officer and a Gentleman, Andrew Davis' boys-in-basic-training melodrama The Guardian primarily functions as a recruitment tool for its chosen military branch. The Coast Guard would do well to have volunteers posted outside theaters this weekend. Put down the popcorn, pass around the sign-up sheet, and point the way to the pool - we're ready to enlist.

These movies have an established pattern, and Guardian follows it to the letter. To borrow a phrase from Ron L. Brinkerhoff's soggy screenplay, Guardian swims with the current as it tics off predictable accomplishments en route to a by-the-book conclusion. At times, it's laudable. At times, it's laughable. But nothing prepared me for the sheer atrocity that occurs in the film's final frames.

Continue reading: The Guardian Review

Firewall Review


Grim
There is now practically a subgenre of films in which the protagonist's family is kidnapped and the bad guys use that leverage to get him or her to perform some misdeed. Nick of Time, Hostage, and Red Eye all fit the bill. Firewall borrows not so much from these as it does from a television version of this scenario: The first season of 24. In addition to the premise, it borrows the technology (video and audio surveillance of our hero), a current cast member as the lead's assistant (Mary Lynn Rajskub), and even the main character's first name. Sadly, in gathering all these elements, Firewall fails to learn any of the lessons of the show it pilfers from.

Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) is the prosperous head of security at a Seattle bank. His wife, Beth, (an utterly wasted Virginia Madsen) is a successful architect who designed their gorgeous home. They have two lovely stereotypical kids and a dog, and in our first five minutes with them just about every major plot point of the film is telegraphed in 28-point blinking bold script.

Continue reading: Firewall Review

Thank God It's Friday Review


Grim
As Oscar-winning films go, Thank God It's Friday is pretty much at the nadir. It's a quickie flick meant to take advantage of the disco fever of the late 1970s, and given that the entire film takes place inside a discotheque (or en route to one), it does exactly that.

The film pays much more attention to the music (The Commodores headline, Donna Summer croons "Last Dance," which is where the Oscar understandably landed for this film, than it does to characters or story. Well, there really is no story, just a bunch of scenes of people at the club for various reasons. Two underage girls want to compete in a dance competition there. A driver has The Commodores' instruments and needs to get to the show. A white-bread couple celebrates their fifth anniversary (despite club owner Jeff Goldblum hitting on the wife). Stop me if you can fill in the rest.

Continue reading: Thank God It's Friday Review

Air Force One Review


Excellent
When one sees Glenn Close portraying the vice-president, one begins to realize just how much she looks (and can act) like Gerald Ford.

Frankly, I was shocked to discover how much I liked Air Force One. Yes, it has villainous Russians who can never see our good guy President (Harrison Ford) when he's hiding right in front of them (much less shoot him). Yes, it has Secret Service guys who die at the hand of the enemy like flies in a bug zapper. Yes, it has the cheesiest special effects this side of of a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Yes, it features a rambling Gary Oldman in one of his clearly improvised looney-tune terrorist/psychopath roles. I could go on and on...

Continue reading: Air Force One Review

Disturbing Behavior Review


Grim
To be or not to be? That is the question. Or, at least, that is supposed to be the question. In the care of Disturbing Behavior, the question is rather what to be. One on hand, you have a fairly gripping psychological thriller. On the other, you have a teen moneymaking vehicle.

One may ask, why can't it be both? It can't be both because you just can't be a psychological thriller and a horror film. Sure, people have tried, but I haven't seen it yet, and dollars to doughnuts, I've probably seen more films than you. Unfortunately, the writer and director of Disturbing Behavior didn't quite get this.

Continue reading: Disturbing Behavior Review

For Love of the Game Review


Excellent
My brother says I shouldn't review sports movies. Because I'm not a sports fan, he says, I can't be objective.

He may have a point, but I don't think For Love of the Game is fundamentally a sports movie. Sure, suit Kevin Costner up in a baseball uniform and you might think you're looking at another Field of Dreams, but For Love of the Game is something we don't see a lot of. Allow me to explain.

Continue reading: For Love of the Game Review

Thirteen Days Review


Excellent
I don't often override the writers at filmcritic.com, free speech and individual preference being what they are, but every now and then I disagree with a critic so much, I am called to make a response. (And since we published this review in January 2001, the reader mail has let me know just what they thought of this bit of criticism....)

Thirteen Days is the film in question -- and unlike staff writer James Brundage I felt the film was a truly powerful one, an eye-opening dissection of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a sobering study of how close we came to annihialation during the Cold War, and a peek behind the scenes of detente. An excellent companion to another (even better) Kevin Costner vehicle, Oliver Stone's JFK, Thirteen Days is not an actor's showcase like JFK is, but rather lets its story do the telling, taking us behind the scenes as decisions with cascading consequences are made. To be sure, Roger Donaldson was likely a poor choice as director -- his arbitrary use of black and white vs. color, his heavy-handedness in glorifying Kennedy at every turn, and his preachy doomsaying all wear a bit thin. But even he can't ruin the film completely.

Continue reading: Thirteen Days Review

End Of Days Review


Weak
Here it is, November of 1999, and I thought we weren't going to get a good end-of-the-world, Satan-conquers-all apocalypse movie (Dogma doesn't count). Whew! End of Days arrives just in time (no pun intended) to quench that Linda Blair thirst.

If you know the basic plot of End of Days ("Satan visits New York in search of a bride") the question you'll be asking isn't, "Is this a bad movie?" Rather, it will probably be, "How bad can it be?"

Continue reading: End Of Days Review

Armyan Bernstein

Armyan Bernstein Quick Links

Film RSS
Advertisement

Suggested

Youth - Trailer

Youth - Trailer

Set in the beautiful Swiss Alps, Youth sees Michael Caine & Harvey Keitel in a fine piece of work.

Straight Outta Compton - Movie Review

Straight Outta Compton - Movie Review

This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through a checklist of the major events.

Advertisement
New Adele And Coldplay Albums Due For Release In The Next Few Months?

New Adele And Coldplay Albums Due For Release In The Next Few Months?

New reports indicate that eagerly awaited albums by Adele and Coldplay are set...

45 Years - Movie Review

45 Years - Movie Review

Like an antidote to vacuous blockbusters, this intelligent, thoughtful drama packs more intensity into a quiet conversation than any number of...

Advertisement