Tag Archives: Universal Home Entertainment

Jesus Christ Superstar – Live Arena Tour (2012, Laurence Connor and Nick Morris)

Besides having an unwieldy title, Jesus Christ Superstar – Live Arena Tour does have quite a few things to recommend it. Within reason. It’s still just a video taping of a live performance–albeit an occasionally rather decent one, albeit with the ability to do complicated shots. Lots of crane moves and zooms. Unfortunately, taping director Morris isn’t very good. Melanie C gets some particularly bad shots during her solos and it’s clear she knows she’s being filmed, but apparently not from where.

Don’t tell me a Spice Girl doesn’t know how to make a music video.

And Laurence Connor, the director of this staging of the musical, integrates live video footage of the performance already. It’s on a big screen–it’s the Arena version after all–and occasionally you’ll see the timing on the big screen footage is better on the cuts to Morris’s version. There are five credited film editors–including Morris–so I’ll just make it easy by blaming Morris for all of that stuff. Especially all the religious imagery at the end, which is actually counter to how an audience member would be seeing the performance.

Got to make it a little more churchy for Morris, apparently.

As for the performance itself, there are ups and downs. Tim Minchin is good. There are occasional weaker moments, but he’s good. And he gives a great performance. He’s the only principal who acts. Mel C and Ben Forster (as Jesus)… well, I was going to say they perform but not exactly. Mel C performs. Forster just sort of mugs. He’s not good. Mel C is all right, but Forster is just bad. At performing and singing. And acting.

For the first act, I couldn’t stop cringing when he’d sing and then Morris would ineptly capture it.

The supporting cast has some real standouts. Alexander Hanson is awesome. Gerard Bentall is awesome. Pete Gallagher is pretty good, Chris Moyles is okay but Morris really flubs the Herod number. He also starts cutting to cheaper DV for some weak shots in the last quarter or so. Michael Pickering’s duet with Mel C is nice. He doesn’t stand out in anything else (at least, not in a good way), but their duet is nice.

I’m not exactly sure what a good taped performance of Jesus Christ Superstar: The Arena Tour would look like, but it’s not this one. Morris is either lifeless or incompetent. He’s annoyingly obvious. Though, then again, it’s not like Forster’s his fault. Apparently Forster is the fault of the great British public, who cast him through a reality show.

Connor’s production, Minchin, some of the supporting cast, they get it to the finish. The second act, even with Morris’s taping worse, is a significant uptick from the first.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Laurence Connor and Nick Morris; written by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice; lighting director, Steve Nolan; edited by Morris, Brett Sullivan, David Tregoning, and Guy Morley; produced by Dione Orrom and Sullivan; released by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Starring Tim Minchin (Judas), Ben Forster (Jesus Christ), Melanie C (Mary Magdalane), Alexander Hanson (Pontius Pilate), Pete Gallagher (Caiaphas), Gerard Bentall (Annas), Michael Pickering (Peter), and Chris Moyles (King Herod).


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Kindergarten Cop 2 (2016, Don Michael Paul)

Kindergarten Cop 2 doesn’t provoke a lot of reaction. It’s terrible, sure, it’s incompetent in parts, it’s got a lousy script and some really bad acting, but why wouldn’t it? It’s a direct-to-video sequel twenty-six years after the first entry, has nothing to do with the original except in gimmick and concentrates more on fifty-eight year-old lead Dolph Lundgren trying to score with young chicks. Maybe–and it’s a stretch–but maybe it’s interesting in terms of trying to figure out the intended audience. It’s not action fans because director Paul is lousy at the action, especially at the logic of an action scene. Though I suppose editor Vanick Moradian has the best technical effort–far better than photographer Kamal Derkaoui–but it’s not like the action is good. It’s not godawful. At least some of the action, a lot of it is godawful.

Paul has his creepy male gaze shots down, but he doesn’t commit, doesn’t linger. It’s like he’s trying to appeal to the closet perverts in the audience–but Cop 2 is direct-to-video so is it for the dads stuck watching the rented movie? But it’s also not for kids. The kindergarteners have their “cute kid” moments but barely any and Paul’s inept at all those scenes. He’s especially bad at directing the kid actors–stop looking at the camera, Abbie Magnuson! How hard is it to tell her to stop looking directly into the camera.

Maybe if David H. Steinberg weren’t so stupid. But, even then, it’s got terrible acting–Danny Wattley gives one of the worst mean cop boss performances in film history (probably even direct-to-video sequel history)–and no one’s any good. Sarah Strange isn’t completely terrible. Most of the other actors are completely terrible. Like Bill Bellamy and Michael P. Northey. One assumes they’ll leave this one off the CV.

As for Lundgren, in what should be a kind of amusing turn–well, he’s bad. He’s perving on young teacher Darla Taylor while trying to take down a drug kingpin. Taylor and Lundgren don’t have any chemistry, but Lundgren doesn’t have any chemistry with any of his costars. Especially not Bellamy, who’s his partner. A lot of the casting decisions in Kindergarten Cop 2 seem to be based on height in relation to Lundgren, not acting ability.

Though director Paul wouldn’t know what to do with a good actor.

Kindergarten Cop 2 ought to be at least diverting as an abomination of nostalgia and dumb humor. It’s not. It’s boring–a hundred minutes of boring–and incompetent. Did I already mention Steinberg’s script is really dumb?

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Don Michael Paul; screenplay by David H. Steinberg, based on the film written by Timothy Harris, Murray Salem and Herschel Weingrod; director of photography, Kamal Derkaoui; edited by Vanick Moradian; music by Jake Monaco; production designer, Tony Devenyi; produced by Mike Elliot; released by Universal Home Entertainment.

Starring Dolph Lundgren (Reed), Darla Taylor (Olivia), Bill Bellamy (Sanders), Aleks Paunovic (Zogu), Sarah Strange (Miss Sinclaire) and Danny Wattley (Giardello).


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Turbo Charged (2003, Philip G. Atwell)

With the exception of being a Hollywood production (even if it’s a Hollywood production for video), Turbo Charged plays like an amateurish short movie make on an iMac. The kind of thing iMovie was great for back in the late nineties–lots of imaginative transitions, the omnipresent music so there doesn’t need to be any dialogue or even sound recording.

And at the center of Turbo Charged is movie star Paul Walker. He doesn’t have any lines, he just has to walk around, just has to run from the cops (he’s on the run, a rogue undercover cop, or so all the national news coverage says). Right, national. Because Turbo Charged is cross country, with flashier Indiana Jones map travel lines.

Only all the locations are in Southern California.

Those unreal moments are nothing compared to Walker. He can’t even successfully essay his part when he’s silent. He’s visibly lost.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Philip G. Atwell; written by Keith Dinielli; produced by Neal H. Moritz; released by Universal Home Entertainment.

Starring Paul Walker (Brian O’Conner).


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Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994, Don Coscarelli)

I watched Phantasm III because I wanted to see what Coscarelli would do without studio interference on a Phantasm sequel.

Apparently, what he decided to do was add an annoying little kid who kills people (they’re bad people, but they’re people just the same–and it’s never clear he was in any physical danger) and a black kung fu girl then turn his mostly absent from the screen protagonist (A. Michael Baldwin returns to the role after losing it to James LeGros for the previous sequel) into some sort of Luke Skywalker stand in… right down to the black outfit.

Most of those additions could be forgiven, I suppose, had Coscarelli gotten good actors. The little kid–played by Kevin Connors–is awful. But the girl, played by Gloria Lynne Henry, is worse; so it seems like Connors is giving a better performance. And Baldwin isn’t any great improvement over LeGros. Phantasm III might be interesting to look at in comparison to the first, in terms of Baldwin’s performance as a kid and as an adult.

I’m not even sure it counts as a horror movie. Without the yellow blood, occasional zombie and the flying spheres, it’s just an action movie. Reggie Bannister makes a hilarious lead for such a film, but it’s clear in a lot of scenes he’s a lot better than the script.

Coscarelli apparently has said he was out of ideas for this film and it shows… his demystifying of the Phantasm lore is particularly unfortunate.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written, directed and produced by Don Coscarelli; director of photography, Chris Chomyn; edited by Norman Buckley; music by Fred Myrow and Christopher L. Stone; production designer, Ken Aichele; released by Universal Home Entertainment.

Starring Reggie Bannister (Reggie), A. Michael Baldwin (Mike), Bill Thornbury (Jody), Gloria Lynne Henry (Rocky), Kevin Connors (Tim), Cindy Ambuehl (Edna), John Davis Chandler (Henry), Brooks Gardner (Rufus) and Angus Scrimm (The Tall Man).


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