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Beauty and the Beast (2017)

DIRECTOR: Bill Condon

CAST: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald


Following in the footsteps of Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella and Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book, Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast is the latest (and arguably most ambitious yet) entry in Disney’s recent dubious fixation with throwing a lot of money around remaking its classic animated films as live-action versions.  For those who decry virtually shot-for-shot remakes of Disney classics that didn’t need to be remade (especially with “new” versions that are content to slavishly follow the source material rather than doing any different or innovative on their own), Beauty and the Beast is unlikely to convert them into the fold.  It’s technically well-made, handsomely-filmed, served up with a loving dose of nostalgia as a lavish love letter to the 1991 original, but despite sumptuous sets and flashy special effects, it lacks the heart and charm of the original.  There’s a sense of a by-the-numbers hollowness to the proceedings, like a competent but uninspired cover of a classic song.  Fans may enjoy themselves out of nostalgia, but it never escapes the shadow of its forefather (nor does it try). Continue reading

Clash of the Titans (2010)

DIRECTOR: Louis Letterier


Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Alexa Davalos, Mads Mikkelsen, Jason Flemyng, Liam Cunningham, Hans Matheson, Nicholas Hoult, Pete Postlethwaite


I don’t look back on the original Clash of the Titans through rose-tinted nostalgic glasses. I probably watched it a hundred times when I was a kid, and thought it was great, but in hindsight, it’s campy and hokey, with laughably wooden acting, led by a poofy-haired Harry Hamlin and Laurence Olivier on autopilot, and Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion animation was state-of-the-art in its heyday in the ‘50s and ‘60s but compared to 1977’s Star Wars made the 1981 Titans look significantly older than it was.  While unnecessary remakes abound in Hollywood, this is the kind of movie that could actually benefit from a remake with better acting and updated visual effects. Continue reading

Shaft (2000)

DIRECTOR: John Singleton


Samuel L. Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Christian Bale, Jeffrey Wright, Toni Collette, Richard Roundtree, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Dan Hedaya, Busta Rhymes, Daniel von Bargen, Pat Hingle, Josef Sommer, Philip Bosco, Mekhi Phifer


Shaft originally hit the screens in 1971, at the height of the ‘Blaxploitation’ era, with Richard Roundtree starring as ‘the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks’. Almost thirty years later, John Shaft made a return to the screen- sort of. Continue reading

My Father, The Hero (1994)

DIRECTOR: Steve Miner

CAST: Gerard Depardieu, Katherine Heigl, Dalton James, Faith Prince, Lauren Hutton, Stephen Tobolowsky, Emma Thompson


My Father, the Hero is an English-language remake of a 1991 French comedy Mon père, ce héros (“My Father, The Hero”), even recasting Gerard Depardieu in the titular role, though surrounded with an American cast.  I can’t comment on the original, but My Father, The Hero is a forgettable piece of fluff with a few mildly amusing moments but never rising above the level of the television sitcom it often feels like. Continue reading

Narrow Margin (1990)

NARROW MARGIN, Ann Archer, Gene Hackman, 1990

DIRECTOR: Peter Hyams

CAST: Gene Hackman, Anne Archer, James B. Sikking, Nigel Bennett, Susan Hogan, J.T. Walsh, M. Emmet Walsh


A loose remake of 1952’s The Narrow Margin, Narrow Margin is a nicely old-school, no-frills, lean and taut meat-and-potatoes thriller that relies more on good old-fashioned cat-and-mouse suspense than flashy action sequences or special effects, with a brisk 99 minute runtime that gets in, gets the job done efficiently, and doesn’t overstay its welcome.  It might not be the deepest or most substantial experience, but for those simply seeking a good old-fashioned Hitchcockian suspense thriller, it’s a solidly diverting time. Continue reading