8.29.2016

Video Vault

A go-to selection when there's just nothing on....


Battlestar Galactica (2003) - television miniseries

 Some new Cylons look like
really hot chicks  
The new millennium saw a reboot of the kitsch '70's sci-fi cult fave in the form of a series-preceding miniseries by Ronald D. Moore and Glen A. Larson.  While the original show, albeit a perceived rip-off of Star Wars, was actually quite good in a second-banana sort of way, the reworking blew away any expectations of what was to come.  This is more than science fiction. This is hard-hitting serious drama for grown-ups.  Gone are the cute one-liners, replaced by real, raw emotions and a feeling of humanity.  And the fact that the Cylons created virtual human replicas which are damn near impossible to detect adds a truly unsettling element to the classic story.


The series that followed was also quite superb, but what makes the original miniseries exemplary is the fact you can watch it as the natural beginning point to a viewing marathon, or enjoy it as a stand-alone movie that set a high water mark for science fiction dramas into the 2000's.


The Fugitive (1993) - movie
 Kimble gets ready to do
a Louganis  

In a time when it seems every old television show is being made into a movie, it's refreshing to watch one that actually worked, and worked very well.  The story of wrongly convicted escapee Richard Kimble on the run from U.S. Marshall Sam Gerard was well-known from the original source, and this 90's effort takes it to new heights.  Despite the familiarity, the combination of excellent direction from Andrew Davis and the stellar performances by both Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones lift this work into the stratosphere.  Easily one of the best films of the 1990's.


To Live and Die in L.A. - movie

 Rick Masters
feels the burn  
Before leading the original C.S.I. team (and just slightly before playing the first agent getting advice from Hannibal Lecter in 1986's Manhunter), William Petersen played a cop (Richard Chance) on the trail of slick counterfeiter/pyromaniac Rick Masters (Willem Dafoe).  Directed by William Friedkin, the man behind The French Connection and The Exorcist, this film creates a blend of raw grit and a very 1980's California style to the soundtrack of trivia answer Wang Chung.  And it all blends well.

Dafoe's Masters is chillingly stylish, while Dean Stockwell does a near-perfect turn as a more than shady lawyer.  If you can get past the questionable casting of John Pankow as Chance's partner, you'll enjoy this on a 'whaddya wanna watch' weekend.  Great supporting performance by John Turturro, and yes, that is Frasier's Daphne (Jane Leeves) in a small role.



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