Tag Archives: Catherine Hicks

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986, Leonard Nimoy)

In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, director Leonard Nimoy establishes a light-hearted, but very high stakes, action-packed environment. Voyage Home is in no way an action movie–the action sequences mostly consist of chases and comedic subterfuges–but there’s a new one every few minutes. The screenwriters came up with a scenario where there’s always danger, but always an almost immediate comic relief.

Flipping between that danger and relief is where William Shatner is so important. He’s able to activate the intense concern momentarily, a grin ready for when the implications have surfaced. Shatner has the most to do in the film, but owns it the least–he’s got some flirtation with Catherine Hicks, but nothing as substantial as most of the other cast members. When he’s out with Nimoy in modern day San Francisco, he’s usually just there to set up Nimoy’s laughs.

The modern day setting is an incredible success too. Nimoy is able to so convince his audience of the 23rd century setting at the start, the trip to the audience’s own time takes them out of water too.

DeForest Kelley gets a lot to do, sort of switching between sidekick for Shatner, Nimoy and finally James Doohan. Kelley and Doohan are great together.

As a director, Nimoy’s sensibilities–especially for comedy–are strong. For a Star Trek film, he’s surprisingly uninterested in complicated space effects. He sticks to the grounded stuff.

Nimoy and company engage the franchise’s iconography to excellent result. Just great.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Leonard Nimoy; screenplay by Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer, based on a story by Nimoy and Bennett and the television series created by Gene Roddenberry; director of photography, Donald Peterman; edited by Peter E. Berger; music by Leonard Rosenman; production designer, Jack T. Collis; produced by Bennett; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring William Shatner (Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), DeForest Kelley (McCoy), James Doohan (Scotty), George Takei (Sulu), Walter Koenig (Chekov), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), Mark Lenard (Sarek), Jane Wyatt (Amanda), Robert Ellenstein (Federation Council President), John Schuck (Klingon Ambassador), Brock Peters (Admiral Cartwright), Robin Curtis (Lt. Saavik) and Catherine Hicks (Gillian).


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Turbulence (1997, Robert Butler)

Turbulence raises a good point—why bother trying to make a good serial killer thriller? Ray Liotta runs rampant throughout the film, having serving after serving of scenery. The script’s got a bunch of dialogue issues in the third act, but none of them bother Liotta, who’s operating at way too high an adrenaline level to be bothered.

The script’s sort of dumb, sure, but it’s serviceable. The film’s mostly well-cast. Lauren Holly’s not great, but she’s likable enough the audience doesn’t want to see her get hurt by a serial killer. Rachel Ticotin, Jeffrey DeMunn and Michael Harney are all good in little parts. Catherine Hicks has a slightly bigger role and she’s excellent.

There are the problems with the cast too and with a stronger cast, Turbulence might have better maintained its disaster movie meets serial killer thriller vibe (the film’s got a lot of comparisons to Executive Decision actually). Hector Elizondo is relatively weak as the cop after Liotta. John Finn’s bad as a sexist FBI agent. And then someone thought casting Brendan Gleeson as a redneck was a good idea… Gleeson’s awful. His accent turns his scenes into something akin to The Naked Gun.

Besides the general solidness of the cast and setting (an empty, out of control airline, already uncanny, in the dark, with Christmas lights everywhere), Butler makes Turbulence work. He’s a long-time TV director and he brings a high level of competence to the film.

Even the CG is reasonably acceptable.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Butler; written by Jonathan Brett; director of photography, Lloyd Ahern II; edited by John Duffy; music by Shirley Walker; production designer, Mayling Cheng; produced by Martin Ransohoff and David Valdes; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Ray Liotta (Ryan Weaver), Lauren Holly (Teri Halloran), Brendan Gleeson (Stubbs), Hector Elizondo (Lt. Aldo Hines), Rachel Ticotin (Rachel Taper), Jeffrey DeMunn (Brooks), John Finn (FBI Agent Frank Sinclair), Ben Cross (Captain Samuel Bowen), Catherine Hicks (Maggie), Heidi Kling (Betty), Gordy Owens (Carl), J. Kenneth Campbell (Captain Matt Powell), James MacDonald (1st Officer Ted Kary), Michael Harney (Marshal Marty Douglas) and Grand L. Bush (Marshal Al Arquette).


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Child’s Play (1988, Tom Holland)

Child’s Play barely makes any sense. Or maybe some of it does, but there’s a big voodoo component and it gets used as a crutch for the more fantastical elements (with its own problems with rationality). But the film opens with a shootout in downtown Chicago–Child’s Play uses its Chicago locations very well, never excessive–between cop Chris Sarandon and serial killer Brad Dourif. Serial killer Dourif who has a sidekick and doesn’t use a gun to kill his victims. My suspension of disbelief can go for the possessed doll out to kill those who wronged him, but a serial killer with a sidekick? It’s a more interesting story than a killer doll.

But the film also has some problems deciding what way it wants to go. The script can’t decide if it wants to convince the audience–or try to convince the audience–six year-old Alex Vincent has snapped and is talking to his doll and killing people… or if it’s the doll. The indecision doesn’t last long, but it does come after the rather literal opening where Dourif recites a spell while touching the doll. The trailer never has the money shot (the animated doll), but it certainly goes far towards suggesting it… so maybe theater-goers in 1988 knew what to expect. Given four sequels, even though I’d never seen the film before, it was hard to imagine it could have been anything but the doll.

The killer doll is maybe not the most ludicrous idea for a slasher movie, but Child’s Play isn’t really a slasher movie. The thriller elements play a lot more–down to the out-of-control speeding car going through Chicago–and Holland never lets Dourif (voicing the doll) go over the top, even after the doll’s got its own scenes. The special effects are great on it too.

Acting helps too. Dourif’s serial killer might not make much sense, but his performance is excellent. Sarandon’s solid as the cop (though I question his sweater for the opening shootout… it just doesn’t seem like something a movie cop would wear). Catherine Hicks is okay as Vincent’s disbelieving mother. She’s maybe the film’s weakest performance, especially since Dinah Manoff (as her friend) is so good. Young Vincent might not give the most soulful youth performance ever or anything, but he makes the film. It isn’t so much his dialogue, but how Holland directs him physically. It’s a strong performance.

Holland’s best scene comes at the end–there’s a quiet Halloween homage–and it’s worth the wait. Early in the film, Holland has to do a lot of sight gags to confuse the viewer (well, to create the impression of confusing the viewer), and he repeats them a few times… The film also cheats a lot, like why does Vincent have money to ride the ‘L’ or how does Hicks know where all the homeless hang out (she visits multiple places). The film skips over some of the post-murder stuff, just to create–first, in the viewer’s mind, then in the characters’–some suspicion Vincent is the guilty party. The omissions get obvious after a while.

But Child’s Play works. It’s not exactly scary or disquieting or uncanny… but it’s entertaining and suspenseful.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Tom Holland; screenplay by Don Mancini, John Lafia and Holland; director of photography, Bill Butler; edited by Roy E. Peterson and Edward Warschilka; music by Joe Renzetti; production designer, Daniel A. Lomino; produced by David Kirschner; released by United Artists.

Starring Catherine Hicks (Karen Barclay), Chris Sarandon (Mike Norris), Alex Vincent (Andy Barclay), Brad Dourif (Charles Lee Ray), Dinah Manoff (Maggie Peterson), Tommy Swerdlow (Jack Santos), Jack Colvin (Dr. Ardmore), Neil Giuntoli (Eddie Caputo), Juan Ramírez (Peddler) and Alan Wilder (Mr. Criswell).


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