Tag Archives: Casper Van Dien

The Pact (2012, Nicholas McCarthy)

For a feature debut, The Pact is an exceptional disappointment from writer and director McCarthy. He’s expanding on his exquisite short of the same name and it’s a flop.

He remakes the short (the Kevin Williamson teaser) and then continues its story, somewhat aware he’s in familiar haunted house territory and not willing to embrace the good things he’s got going.

Sisters Agnes Bruckner and Caity Lotz have recently lost their mother and have to deal with the house, a Southern Californian suburban ranch, and her funeral. Of course, the mother was terribly abusive and so it’s a bad situation. Sadly, we get all this information in the first few minutes, when McCarthy’s remaking his short, because he loves bad expository dialogue. And having Bruckner deliver it? It makes The Pact painful, especially for someone who knows how well McCarthy did with almost literally the same material in the short.

Things get better once Lotz enters the film. McCarthy’s narrative doesn’t, mostly because he keeps adding twists to perturb the plot. As a filmmaker, he’s sublime (his Blow-Up homage is lovely). His composition, his pacing of shots and actors… from a technical angle, The Pact is Hitchcockian.

Sadly, good technical doesn’t make up for grossly lacking narrative.

McCarthy gets a good performance from Lotz. Not great, but good. Similarly Casper Van Dien is good as her cop sidekick (ghost stories don’t need cops). Nice supporting work from Sam Ball and Haley Hudson.

I’m really bummed The Pact isn’t good.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy; director of photography, Bridger Nielson; edited by Adriaan van Zyl; music by Ronen Landa; production designer, Walter Barnett; produced by Ross M. Dinerstein; released by IFC Films.

Starring Caity Lotz (Annie), Agnes Bruckner (Nicole), Kathleen Rose Perkins (Liz), Haley Hudson (Stevie), Sam Ball (Giles) and Casper Van Dien (Bill Creek).


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Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008, Edward Neumeier)

I love this movie. Seriously. Not just because it features the most idiotically jingoistic song since Grease 2‘s “Do It For Our Country.” There’s a fair amount of political commentary (instead of going for the easy Bush jugular, Neumeier’s a lot more complicated, particularly when it comes to how religion is sellable as war propaganda) and a lot of good acting.

However, I hate Neumeier a little for wasting the finest performance Casper Van Dien is, likely, ever going to give. The movie follows Jolene Blalock (who’s awful at the start, but then turns good when the film enters its second act–Marauder‘s so shockingly well-plotted, I can’t believe they didn’t give it a limited theatrical… it’s an actual sequel to Starship Troopers, not a direct-to-video continuation) at the expense of Van Dien and it’s not right. Sure, Blalock’s got a romance with Boris Kodjoe (also way too good considering) and a personal discovery storyline, but Van Dien’s actually really good. It’s a tragedy his… yes, I’m going to say it… ability is wasted.

Unfortunately, besides those three–and Stephen Hogan, who’s fantastic–the supporting cast is pretty weak. At times, with the reasonable CG and the competent if unspectacular direction and good script, it feels like Marauder is a “real” movie… until the supporting cast speaks. Marnette Patterson and Cécile Breccia are both, sadly, laughable. I just wish they’d been able to get solider actors.

But again, I love this movie. It’s an unbelievable success.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Edward Neumeier; screenplay by Neumeier, based on a novel by Robert A. Heinlein; director of photography, Lorenzo Senatore; edited by Michael John Bateman; music by Klaus Badelt; production designer, Sylvain Gingras; produced by David Lancaster; released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Starring Casper Van Dien (Colonel Johnny Rico), Jolene Blalock (Captain Lola Beck), Stephen Hogan (Sky Marshal Omar Anoke), Boris Kodjoe (Gen. Dix Hauser), Amanda Donohoe (Admiral Enolo Phid), Marnette Patterson (Holly Little), Danny Keogh (Dr. Wiggs), Stelio Savante (Chief Bull Brittles), Cécile Breccia (Lt. Link Manion) and Garth Breytenbach (Pvt. Slug Skinner).


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Starship Troopers (1997, Paul Verhoeven)

The only “real” pro-war movie I can think of is The Green Berets. But Starship Troopers is also pro-war, even if it’s, well, startlingly so. I mean, the scene where Casper Van Dien grins after getting his battlefield promotion, following a colleague’s horrific death, is a fine example.

What Verhoeven does here, in Starship Troopers, is directed the finest made “science fiction” film–and those quotations just generalize, meaning a film set in the future in space with spaceships–since 2001. Really. No one else has ever done as competent of space scenes since Kubrick. It’s stunning. Verhoeven’s no innovator here–he borrows liberally from 2001, the Star Wars movies (a little) and the Star Trek movies (a lot)–but he mixes them together into something astounding. I once called, without being familiar with the novel, Starship Troopers the sci-fi hit (i.e. the Star Wars) if the Nazis had won. And it is–not just in terms of setting (the gloriously fascist future), but in terms of its approach to narrative. Neumeier and Verhoeven do an amazing job with this film’s structure–it’s impossible not to cheer at the end and never to once question what one’s cheering.

Even the cardboard acting from “90210” and “Melrose Place” guest stars (Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards and Patrick Muldoon all appeared on those Shakespearian actor spawning grounds) is somehow perfect–Starship Troopers is certainly Verhoeven’s best film since Robocop and the most deceptively postmodern blockbuster film ever made.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Paul Verhoeven; screenplay by Edward Neumeier, based on the novel by Robert A. Heinlein; director of photography, Jost Vacano; edited by Mark Goldblatt and Caroline Ross; music by Basil Poledouris; production designer, Allan Cameron; produced by Alan Marshall and Jon Davison; released by Tri-Star Pictures.

Starring Casper Van Dien (Johnny Rico), Dina Meyer (Dizzy Flores), Denise Richards (Carmen Ibanez), Jake Busey (Ace Levy), Neil Patrick Harris (Carl Jenkins), Clancy Brown (Sgt. Zim), Seth Gilliam (Sugar Watkins), Patrick Muldoon (Zander Barcalow), Michael Ironside (Jean Rasczak), Rue McClanahan (Biology Teacher), Marshall Bell (General Owen) and Brenda Strong (Captain Deladier).


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