The only film to co-star British cinematic icons (and long-time friends) Michael Caine and Sean Connery, The Man Who Would Be King is a late-career highlight from American director John Huston and also a notably old fashioned epic to have been made by a major Hollywood studio in the mid-1970s. While on the surface it is a romping adventure following two British officers in India who venture North into Afghanistan in search of wealth and power among the primitive locals, the film is a scathing indictment of British Colonialism. At the time of the film’s release, comparisons could also be made about US foreign policy, particularly in Vietnam, but that is not to say Huston & Co don’t know how to have fun. Based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling, who is portrayed within the film by Christopher Plummer, The Man Who Would Be King proved that they could still make them like they used to and ranks as one of the best in both its lead actors’ filmographies. To this day, Sean Connery regards it as his favourite of his own films. And coming from James Bond, that’s some claim.
Another classic, screened as part of Toho Cinemas 10am club here in Tokyo, Raiders Of The Lost Ark is much cherished film for many cinema lovers, especially those old enough to have seen the original theatrical release.
While some aspects of the film’s visual style have not aged well and the momentum of the film is held back by a shrill and monotonous performance from Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood there is still so much to enjoy in Harrison Ford’s sensual and gritty performance as Indiana Jones, along with excellent supporting roles from John Rhys-Davies as the Egyptian archaeological digger Sallah, Denholm Elliott as Dr. Marcus Brody, buyer of Jones’ archaeological finds and Alfred Molina in his screen debut as a jungle guide.
And, of course, one has to marvel at John William’s brilliant score, which fills, underpins and adds drama to almost every scene.
Raiders Of The Lost Ark still has so much swagger and matinee-style bravura that it’s easy look past the film’s few limitations. This is solidly entreating cinema that has earned its place in many people’s hearts and deeply influenced the shape of action and adventure films right up to this day.
After really enjoying Zhang Ziyi’s first foray into production, Sophie’s Revenge, I was certainly interested to see her return to the character for a second outing. However, My Lucky Star sees its kooky heroine thrust into a bizarre Mission: Impossible-esque espionage caper opposite Wang Leehom that sadly feels less like a real movie and more an opportunity for Zhang to play dress up, Charlie’s Angels style.
I was unfamiliar with the source material of this Twilight-esque tale of angels and demons walking the Earth amongst us. The film was fairly resoundingly dismissed upon released, both by critics and audiences, but I actually quite enjoyed it. Lily Collins (daughter of Phil) is rather good as Clary, who discovers she is a half-angel when her mother goes missing in present day New York. She soon hooks up with an assortment of demon quellers, including the dreamy Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), while her best bud Simon (Robert Sheehan) can only look on and pine. It’s all utterly ridiculous in fairly predictable ways, but it ultimately works because those involve commit themselves 100% despite the overwhelming temptation to poke fun at the material.
Futuristic Disney adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel has some interesting concepts smuggled in between servicing the source material. The alien designs are particularly good, and the action scenes are mostly well directed, but throughout the film I couldn’t help but feel the two concepts never quite married together harmoniously and that what I really wanted to see was a straight up animated version of Treasure Island.