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Zulu Review


OK
Faced with 4,000 Zulu soldiers, 139 British troops managed to fend off the natives, holed up in a small thatched-roof hut with a little fence. It helps that they were armed to the teeth while most of the Zulu just had spears and shields -- and that the Zulus didn't even do much with those spears, preferring instead to run up to the fence, wave their weapons, yell, then retreat. Whether you find this racist and jingoistic or a dead-on accurate portrayal of a real battle that occurred in 1879 (in many ways, the British version of the Alamo) probably depends on your heritage and your opinion of British imperialism. As for the movie, though, there's an awful lot of lounging around in the hut and a lot of buildup to the battle itself, which doesn't get underway for more than half the film.

The Italian Job (1969) Review


Good
Only the British and Steven Soderbergh seem to be able to make funny caper movies. The Italian Job -- the original one, that is -- is a quite funny, minor classic of the genre, elevated from midnight movie fare thanks to the presence of a spot-on Michael Caine.

The film's setup is pretty staid: Caine's Charlie Croker is straight outta prison, and he's right back at the crime game the moment he's released. Thanks to guidance from boss Bridger (Noel Coward, appearing primarily in films given to Caine), the job is meticulously planned and staffed: Ultimately the gig is to cause a giant traffic jam in the city of Turin, steal $4 million in gold from an armored car, and escape using clever non-roadway surfaces so the cops can't follow them.

Continue reading: The Italian Job (1969) Review

Alexander The Great Review


Grim
God help Oliver Stone if his upcoming Alexander is really a remake of 1956's Alexander the Great, as this film's press notes state.

Put simply, Alexander the Great is a colossal bore. Directed by Robert Rossen (The Hustler, All the King's Men), this visit to the epic well comes off far worse than contemporaries Ben-Hur and Cleopatra. What's the problem? Well, the troubles are legion. Start with Richard Burton, engaging here in the lead role of the philosopher/warrior/conquerer, but given a series of brooding sermons to deliver for well over two hours. Burton doesn't carry the movie as he absolutely has to; the result is an experience not unlike attending a late night lecture. Then there's the warfare. Those of us spoiled on modern epics like Troy will find the playful skirmishes here on the laughable side. Sure, you can stage a battle with just a couple hundred men and no special effects if you shoot it carefully, but if your warriors look tired and on the verge of striking, you won't quite get the necessary effect. My little brother and I had more authentic swordfights when we were kids, using sticks in the backyard. Pretty sad considering Alexander conquered Europe and Asia.

Continue reading: Alexander The Great Review

The Guns Of Navarone Review


Excellent
A former-day Saving Private Ryan, Gregory Peck and David Niven burn in this war epic, about a gang of neo-mercenaries sent to destroy the titular German guns. Will they save the day? Use your postwar patriotism of 1961 to make a guess.
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