Tag Archives: Mario Van Peebles

Jaws: The Revenge (1987, Joseph Sargent), the international version

If only there were something remarkable about Jaws: The Revenge. Just one thing terrible enough about it to make it somehow interesting. Jaws: The Revenge is unremarkably bad in its unremarkable badness. As the opening titles rolled, with shark POV of a New England harbor, I wanted it to be some kind of strange close to director Sargent’s theatrical output. But it isn’t. It’s not even interesting to think about as a film Sargent also produced. Lorraine Gary isn’t secretly great in the ostensible lead role. Lance Guest isn’t good at all as her son who sort of takes over protagonist when he hides the knowledge of a thirty-foot great white shark from the Coast Guard and it eventually attacks his daughter, setting his mother out to sea to sacrifice herself to the shark.

It’s a movie about a shark hunting a family and there’s no joy to it. Michael De Guzman’s script is painfully unaware, but Sargent’s direction shouldn’t be. Even though they have the same bland result, Sargent’s dumbing down and failing at it. He’s got actual ambitions during the first fifteen or twenty minutes; sure, he’s trying to avoid responsible narrative progression through some really cheap TV movie devices, but he’s trying something. It’s activity. By the second half, when Guest and his scientist sidekick, Mario Van Peebles doing an extremely bad Jamaican accent in a lousy performance, Sargent’s totally checked out. Gary has mostly disappeared and it’s just poorly shot shark hunting sequences.

And the shark sequences are another unremarkable, but should be somehow wonderfully cheesy element of the film. Sargent has a couple intense underwater sequences, including the shark hunting Guest through a sunken ship–which is idiotic but at least it’s something in a film where Gary and Michael Caine dancing in a street fair constitutes an action set piece. There’s no thrill to Jaws: The Revenge, there’s no spectacle. Thankfully, there’s no attempt at either of them–Revenge is rather poorly produced after all. Michael Small’s music is bad, Michael Brown’s editing is bad, John McPherson’s cinematography is pretty lame (though better than the editing or the music). It’s just a lame movie.

Maybe if there were some diamond in the rough, like if Karen Young actually gave a really good performance as Guest’s suffering wife, but she doesn’t. She does better than most everyone else but she’s not good. Lynn Whitfield might give the closet thing to the best performance and some of it is because she’s not it in a lot. The more you have to do in Jaws: The Revenge, the worse off you are.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Joseph Sargent; screenplay by Michael De Guzman, based on characters created by Peter Benchley; director of photography, John McPherson; edited by Michael Brown; music by Michael Small; production designer, John J. Lloyd; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody), Lance Guest (Michael), Karen Young (Carla), Michael Caine (Hoagie), Mario Van Peebles (Jake), Judith Barsi (Thea), Lynn Whitfield (Louisa) and Mitchell Anderson (Sean).


RELATED

Advertisements

Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994, Andrew Morahan), the European version

About the only complementary thing in Highlander: The Final Dimension is Steven Chivers’s photography. The film’s got a terrible color palette, which isn’t a surprise since all of director Morahan’s decisions are bad, but Chivers never lets the film look cheap. It’s clearly cheap, but Chivers refuses to acknowledge it. It’s kind of cool. But only with a qualifier or two, because the crappy color palettes are a real problem. Most of Morahan’s direction is bad and Chivers does nothing to alleviate its damage on the film.

Well, I suppose there really isn’t much you could do for Final Dimension. A better director would have helped, but only so much. It’s one of those pictures not just without anything going for it, but without anything good in it. Deborah Kara Unger arguably gives the film’s best performance, but only because it’s the least worst. Unless you count Mako, who stands in for Sean Connery in this entry. He manages to keep a straight face opposite Christopher Lambert.

Final Dimension is one of those too craven sequels. It borrows story beat after story beat from the first film–though Unger doesn’t even get to be the damsel in distress, Lambert’s got a little kid to threaten in this entry. As that little kid, Gabriel Kakon is atrocious. No surprise, but Morahan can’t direct actors either. So it’s like watching all the action from the first film done in Panavision by a bad director shooting it in Canada. With photographer Chivers trying so hard to distract from its lack of domestic shooting locations, he just makes the film look terrible to hide it. Like I said, it’s kind of admirable. Chivers can clearly do a better job–lighting this terrible palette takes skills–but he doesn’t. There’s no excelling in the Final Dimension.

As the villain, Mario Van Peebles is almost funny. He’s just strange enough not to be sad, but he’s not strange enough to be interesting. A lot of it is an objectively bad performance. Some of it has the promise of a better performance. Again, Morahan. Also, it’s a terrible script. What is anyone going to do with a terrible script? Unger tries with her crusading archeologist bit but once the film gets her clothes off, it stops giving her anything to do.

Really bad performance from Martin Neufeld as the angry cop who’s after Lambert. Final Dimension fails on every level. It can’t even do bit parts well. It doesn’t have a script going for it, doesn’t have a director, doesn’t have production values (awful music from J. Peter Robinson, bad editing from Yves Langlois), but it doesn’t even have a good casting director. Maybe because there’s no credited casting director.

It’s a movie with a terrible Christopher Lambert performance I don’t even want to pick on. It’s such a bad script, turning Lambert into a nineties action hero dad while more T–800 than Highlander… it’s not a fair fight. Amid all the crappy work in Highlander: The Final Dimension, there apparently can be only one to do the crappiest work and it’s screenwriter Paul Ohl.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Andrew Morahan; screenplay by Paul Ohl, based on a story by Brad Mirman and William N. Panzer and characters created by Gregory Widen; director of photography, Steven Chivers; edited by Yves Langlois; music by J. Peter Robinson; production designers, Gilles Aird and Ben Morahan; produced by Claude Léger; released by Dimension Films.

Starring Christopher Lambert (Connor MacLeod), Mario Van Peebles (Kane), Deborah Kara Unger (Alex Johnson), Gabriel Kakon (John MacLeod), Martin Neufeld (Lt. John Stenn), Daniel Do (Dr. Fuji Takamura), Michael Jayston (Jack Donovan) and Mako (Nakano).


RELATED

Last Resort (1986, Zane Buzby)

Last Resort is not a bad movie in any traditional way. It’s incompetent to the degree I don’t understand–nor can I imagine–how Charles Grodin ended up starring in it. Julie Corman–Roger’s wife–produced the film and, maybe, her attention to detail is why it looks like the film shot in Southern California for most of its scenes (it’s set on a tropical island). The water shots, however, appear to have been shot a public beach somewhere. While I’m far from an expert on judging film stock from bad DVD transfers… it looks like Last Resort shot on video (maybe better than half-inch, maybe not) and then got transferred over to film. It looks identical to an episode of “WKRP”–no knocks to the mighty ‘KRP, but it is a famous shot-on-video example. It’s Charles Grodin… maybe he made some bad investments or needed a new house, but I can’t imagine they were paying much….

And then the rest of the cast is interesting both in placing the movie’s “artistic” movement. It’s from the writers of Revenge of the Nerds, which–I’m fairly sure–shot on film, but the cast isn’t quite as first-rate as Nerds. While it was interesting to see Brenda Bakke again (Bakke disappeared in the mid-1990s, never recognized for her outstanding performance on “American Gothic”), I mostly noticed Mario Van Peebles. Bakke’s barely in it and it is funny to wonder if Clint Eastwood screened Last Resort when considering Van Peebles for Heartbreak Ridge, but Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman are in it too. Hartman’s got a lousy restrained role, but Lovitz is actually really funny.

When the movie started, the terrible production quality screamed, but it seemed like a really cheap Charles Grodin vehicle. He had some funny lines, some funny Charles Grodin rants, but then they got to the island and the script stopped making any sense at all. It’s an eighty-four minute movie (the last forty move super fast thank goodness) but I was constantly confused. It’s an exceptional example of incoherent storytelling and general terribleness. It’s the kind of thing “USA Up All Night” played when they ran out of money.

But I do think I’ll read Grodin’s autobiography now, because I need to understand this film… how it was made, how someone got a bank to lend someone else money for this film… I’m perplexed. I mean, I couldn’t turn it off–I had to see it to believe it. It’d have been unimaginable otherwise. It’s a unicorn or something.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Zane Buzby; written by Steve Zacharias and Jeff Buhai; directors of photography, Stephen Katz and Alex Nepomniaschy; edited by Gregory Scherick; music by Steve Nelson and Thom Sharp; produced by Julie Corman; released by Concorde.

Starring Charles Grodin (George Lollar), Robin Pearson Rose (Sheila Lollar), John Ashton (Phil Cocoran), Megan Mullally (Jessica Lollar), Christopher Ames (Brad Lollar), Scott Nemes (Bobby Lollar), Mario Van Peebles (Pino), Jon Lovitz (Bartender), Phil Hartman (Jean-Michel), David Mirkin (Walter Ambrose) and Brenda Bakke (Veroneeka).


RELATED