Joe Wizan

Joe Wizan

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Fire In The Sky Review


Weak
With all the great "true" UFO stories out there, it's a bit puzzling to figure out why the hicktastic 1975 story of Travis Walton and his band of logger pals earned the right to become a movie.

Walton's story -- based on his own book, which I can't find for sale anywhere, called, ahem, The Walton Experience -- goes like this: Six hard-drinkin' logger buddies encounter a red "fire in the sky" one night. They investigate and find a giant UFO in the woods, but Travis gets too close, and a light shining on him knocks him off his feet. The other five run away. When they come back the next day, Travis is nowhere to be found. The little Arizona town suspects homicide, and the FBI eventually swoops in. No one can find Travis -- or his remains. Is all the talk of UFOs a prank? When tempers threaten to flare out of control, Travis shows up again, six days later, naked, and shell-shocked. He finally tells what happens: He was abducted and tortured. And it was nasty.

Continue reading: Fire In The Sky Review

Tough Guys Review


Good
Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas are retired train robbers -- deeply retired, as in nursing home-retired) -- and they long to rid themselves of the gruel at mealtimes and menial jobs they're suffering through. So they do what comes naturally, rob a train, even if it is 1986. At its funniest when the heroes face the horrors of modern life, Tough Guys is a wink and a nod to two great actors with a legendary body of work between them. That they can make fun of themselves makes for a rewarding, if clumsy, experience.

Fire In The Sky Review


Weak
With all the great "true" UFO stories out there, it's a bit puzzling to figure out why the hicktastic 1975 story of Travis Walton and his band of logger pals earned the right to become a movie.

Walton's story -- based on his own book, which I can't find for sale anywhere, called, ahem, The Walton Experience -- goes like this: Six hard-drinkin' logger buddies encounter a red "fire in the sky" one night. They investigate and find a giant UFO in the woods, but Travis gets too close, and a light shining on him knocks him off his feet. The other five run away. When they come back the next day, Travis is nowhere to be found. The little Arizona town suspects homicide, and the FBI eventually swoops in. No one can find Travis -- or his remains. Is all the talk of UFOs a prank? When tempers threaten to flare out of control, Travis shows up again, six days later, naked, and shell-shocked. He finally tells what happens: He was abducted and tortured. And it was nasty.

Continue reading: Fire In The Sky Review

Prime Cut Review


OK
A guy who turns his enemies into hot dogs and dopes up girls to sell as sex slaves?

Sounds far more interesting than it really is, and as the lead villain, Gene Hackman gets far too little screen time. Prime Cut is Lee Marvin's story, the mob enforcer sent from Chicago to collect half a million dollars in debts from Hackman's "Mary Ann," and decides to rescue poor Poppy (Sissy Spacek in her first speaking role) from Mary Ann's clutches.

Continue reading: Prime Cut Review

Jeremiah Johnson Review


Good
Robert Redford shines as a mid-1800s man fed up with society and who heads to wild Colorado to become a real-life mountain man. Ending up with an Indian wife that doesn't speak English and a kid who doesn't speak at all, Johnson seemingly has nothing but bad times, and ends up being hunted by Crow Indians. Marvel as Redford's beard grows like crazy, but his hair does not. A very entertaining film that doesn't flinch about how tough life was for the early settlers.

Along Came A Spider Review


Grim
When you think "movie franchise," you think Harrison Ford or maybe Eddie Murphy... but Morgan Freeman? Yet, with the middling $60 million take of 1997's Kiss the Girls, the low-key, dependable actor returns as Dr. Alex Cross, in another try at a psycho thriller. Sadly, Freeman's the only point of interest in this one. Kiss the Girls was average at best -- Along Came A Spider should aspire to such heights.

Both films are based on James Patterson novels, where the good Doctor (detective, psychologist, author, hostage negotiator, model boat builder... good Lord) chases down some scary guy who's either a kidnapper, a murderer, or both. Here, our culprit is a teacher (Michael Wincott) at a D.C. prep school for kids that require Secret Service detail. He conducts his entire teaching career incognito, and then snatches the young daughter of a generic U.S. Congressman (Michael Moriarty).

Continue reading: Along Came A Spider Review

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