Rating: The Good – 66.8 Genre: Action Duration: 114 mins Director: John Milius Stars: Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson
John Milius’ uneven film has been criticised for being jingoistic and yes, there are some grounds for such criticism. There are also some spectaular leaps of logic and Harry Dean Stanton screams “Avenge me boys” without even a hint of humour. However, for the most part Red Dawn is actually a well orchestrated and even epic depiction of a fictitious invasion of the 1980’s United States by communist forces. Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen play two brothers who take to the mountains and form a rag-tag resistance behind enemy lines. It shouldn’t work but somehow this becomes an entertaining and sometimes touching examination of how life could’ve changed in such circumstances. Swayze and Sheen are charismatic in the lead roles and are supported by a number of young and, at the time, promising actors one of whom being Swayze’s future Dirty Dancing co-star Jennifer Grey. Milius’ and Kevin Reynolds’ screenplay can get clunky in parts but holds up for the majority of the film and there are some decent action scenes throughout.
Rating: The Good – 62.7 Genre: Comedy Duration: 98 mins Director: Emilio Estevez Stars: Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Leslie Hope
Okay, so the story is complete hokum and some of the jokes fall flat on their face, but if you let it, Men at Work can still be one hell of an enjoyable and quirky caper comedy. Emilio Estevez directs and stars alongside his brother Charlie Sheen as a garbageman constantly aspiring for better things. On probation and under the watchful eye of the hilarious Keith David, Estevez and Sheen become embroiled in a madcap murder involving the mayor and some chemical polluters. Throw in an attractive neighbour, a kidnapped pizza delivery guy, rival garbage men, and two ridiculous bicycle cops and you have the basis for some comedy mayhem. The real star of the show however is Keith David as the slightly disturbed Vietnam vet with a short fuse. It’s his interventions that are the most memorable and his penchant for tying up his prisoners in the strangest of positions will have you in stitches. “You need help.”
Rating: The Good – 70.7 Genre: Sporting Comedy Duration: 107 mins Director: David S. Ward Stars: Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Rene Russo
David S. Ward’s sports comedy about a wealthy widow’s nefarious attempts to ensure her former husband’s baseball franchise, the Cleveland Indians, finishes the season in last place so she can up sticks and move to Miami is nothing more than 100% fun and entertainment from start to finish. Platoon buddies Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen team up again as a broken down former all-star (Berenger) and a young punk with a great arm but bad eyesight (Sheen) who among others are brought in to ensure the team stinks. Regardless of how cynical they might be, there’s nobody out there who can resist the small charms of this comedy. The jokes aren’t side splitting but they’ll consistently bring a smile to your face and who doesn’t like a good old fashioned against-the-odds-movie. Corbin Bernsen and Wesley Snipes are also on hand to add to the good vibes this little beauty gives off.
Rating: The Good – 83.4 Genre: Drama Duration: 126 mins Director: Oliver Stone Stars: Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah
Oliver Stone’s story of stock trading and the high life in 1980′s New York stars Charlie Sheen as the ambitious young trader who catches the attention of the greed celebrating master of the universe Michael Douglas and is recruited into the attractive but perilous world of insider trading. Naturally, it isn’t long before he realises that he is nothing more than food for the big fish as his lavish lifestyle begins to have professional and emotional consequences.
Rarely has a film captured the essence of a time and place like this one. Robert Richardson’s cinematography gives the city a life of its own (check out those early morning and late evening shots) particularly when accompanied by Stewart Copeland’s perfectly weighted score. The acting is generally first rate and even the much maligned Daryl Hannah’s performance seems in retrospect to be perfectly in keeping with the vacuous spirit of the times. Martin Sheen is brilliant as the working class father roped into his son’s wheeling and dealings while his son Charlie (real life and on-screen) brings just the right amount of arrogance and vulnerability to the role. Of course, Wall Street is Michael Douglas’ film from start to finish as he devours the scenery and everything else in his vicinity. His iconic portrayal of Gordon Gekko perfectly captured the greed of corporate America and in doing so, it rightly garnered him an Oscar.
Stone’s directorial style changed dramatically in the 1990′s as if to keep up with the inane quick cuts and angled shots of the MTV movie making generation (a style that’s only ever served him well in JFK and Any Given Sunday) but this film proves he had all the patience and skill of the very best directors. Rather than relying on quick cuts between shots he lets the sharp dialogue set the pace (kudos to co-writer Stanley Weiser) and when combined with the great central performances the result is a captivating and thoughtful exploration of greed and ambition that resonates to this day.
Rating: The Good – 75.3 Genre: War Duration: 120 mins Director: Oliver Stone Stars: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe
Oliver Stone’s most personal film sees him visit the subject of the Vietnam war which he himself fought in. Charley Sheen stars as a young recruit who finds himself amongst a group of soldiers whose loyalties are divided between two enigmatic but very different platoon leaders. Sheen is very good in the lead but it’s Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe who make it so memorable as the hard boiled and murderous Sergeant Barnes and the inspirational and idealistic Sergeant Elias (respectively). The two actors are tremendous and each give iconic level performances. Stone captures both the boredom and terror of war superbly with the battle scenes in particular being truly sensational. His script is faultless striking the perfect balance between drama and reality. There are an array of top supporting actors on show who combine with the principals to makes this one of the better cinematic ensemble pieces.
Rating: The Ugly – 64.3 Genre: Sporting Comedy Duration: 105 mins Director: David S. Ward Stars: Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Rene Russo
More of the same but given the first time round was so much fun, that’s no bad thing. All the main players are back except for Wesley Snipes whose character Willie Mayes Hayes is played by Omar Epps and Rene Russo who makes nothing more than a cameo. The most interesting twist on the first film is Sheen’s “Wild Thing” going tame which gives heckler Randy Quaid fertile material for his utterly hysterical rants. “Wild Thing, you make by butt sting.”