Tag Archives: Keith Emerson

Nighthawks (1981, Bruce Malmuth)

Catherine Mary Stewart’s British? She’s in Nighthawks for a second and she looked familiar but I don’t keep track of her filmography, so I didn’t find out until the end credits. (Actually, she’s Canadian, which is closer than I thought). Besides that trivia tidbit–if it even qualifies as a tidbit–the most amusing thing about Nighthawks is the name of the good guy’s anti-terrorism task force (A.T.A.C., get it?). They wear navy blue jumpsuits and have caps. Their headquarters is a huge garage. Maybe a warehouse.

Nighthawks is amusing in its stupidity, but only to a certain point. The film doesn’t seem to appreciate its awfulness. It’s ludicrously written, at least with Stallone and Billy Dee Williams as the cops. The Rutger Hauer scenes are a little bit better (most of the film is all Hauer, which is fine). When Nigel Davenport shows up at the beginning, I remember hoping he would only be in it for a cameo, but then he comes back in and is terrible for more. Oh, and Joe Spinell is terrible. I almost forgot about him.

Besides the script, which is incompetent, the film’s director, Bruce Malmuth, is bad in the most uninteresting ways. He can’t create a mood, can’t direct actors, can’t compose shots. Stallone’s got a few good scenes, actually, but the stuff between him and Williams range in quality. A few times, you can see Stallone trying to get more screen time and it doesn’t really work for the characters, who are apparently friends (though it’s hard to know; Nighthawks doesn’t have much in the way of backstory–it’s all exposition getting toward the final scene). When it finally does get to be Stallone’s turn, when he really does have to do really well… he fails, but it’s not like it was going to turn Nighthawks around. It was going to be terrible–the scene itself terrible too–no matter what.

I can’t forget to say something about the extraordinary score–Keith Emerson doesn’t get how to score a movie. Whatsoever. Nighthawks probably wouldn’t have been any better with a real score, but at least it wouldn’t induce laughter….

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Bruce Malmuth; screenplay by David Shaber, based on a story by Shaber and Paul Sylbert; director of photography, James A. Contner; edited by Stanford C. Allen and Christopher Holmes; music by Keith Emerson; production designer, Peter S. Larkin; produced by Herb Nanas and Martin Poll; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Sylvester Stallone (Det. Sgt. Deke DaSilva), Billy Dee Williams (Det. Sgt. Matthew Fox), Lindsay Wagner (Irene), Persis Khambatta (Shakka Holland), Nigel Davenport (Peter Hartman), Rutger Hauer (Wulfgar), Hilary Thompson (Pam) and Joe Spinell (Lt. Munafo).


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Godzilla: Final Wars (2004, Kitamura Ryuhei)

According to Toho, Final Wars is the Godzilla movie for at least ten years. They haven’t been doing to well at the box office. It’s also the 50th anniversary movie (it actually came out last year in Japan, only showing up now on DVD in the US). The film is definitely homage, but not the kind you’d think. Instead of being somber, like the original, or a serious attempt (like Shusuke Kaneko’s Giant Monster’s All-Out Attack–really, it’s a serious attempt), Final Wars is dedicated to the Godzilla movies most people saw on Saturday afternoon TV. It’s the goofy, wrestling Godzilla. There isn’t a serious moment in the whole movie–whether it’s Godzilla fighting his Hollywood incarnation or the American actor who apparently understands Japanese but can’t speak it, it’s all light.

I wasn’t expecting much, of course, but I did think there’d at least be some good Kitamura fight scenes. There are lots of fight scenes, but they’re short and there’s a lot of visible computer assistance. It’s Versus-lite. Kitamura can make a better movie and he has a good time with the straight (as straight as this movie gets with the evil aliens), but the giant monster scenes are sort of without imagination. I can’t tell if he even likes Godzilla movies.

Final Wars clocks in at two hours and two minutes, which probably makes it the longest Japanese Godzilla movie, but Godzilla doesn’t even show until after an hour into the film. The film’s a little bit a remake of Destroy All Monsters and it could have gone further–more Godzilla, less people. It didn’t even have to do it straight, it could still goof, just go further.

There aren’t very many good Godzilla movies–just one, probably (though there’s a slight chance the 1984 Godzilla is all right)–and Final Wars is one of the better ones. Its target audience is actually a lot bigger than any other recent Godzilla film, just because so many people did watch those Saturday afternoon movies….

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Kitamura Ryuhei; screenplay by Kiriyama Isao and Kitamura, based on a story by Mimura Wataru and Tomiyama Shogo; director of photography, Furuya Takumi; music by Keith Emerson, Morino Nobuhiko and Yano Daisuke; produced by Tomiyama; released by Toho Company Ltd.

Starring Matsuoka Masahiro (Ôzaki Shin’ichi), Kikukawa Rei (Otonashi Miyuki), Kitamura Kazuki (The Controller of Planet X), Don Frye (Douglas Gordon), Takarada Akira (Daigo Naotarô), Mizuno Maki (Otonashi Anna), Nagasawa Masami and Ôtsuka Chihiro (The Twin Fairies), Sahara Kenji (Jingûji Hachirô), Mizuno Kumi (Namikawa Akiko), Funaki Masakatsu (Kumasaka), Ibu Masatô (The Xilian General) and Takashima Masanobu (Major Kita).