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FOTEP Movie Reviews

Drama

 

Battle Royale (2000)

A friend of mine turned me onto this movie. Its a near-future Japanese drama with English subtitles.

Before there was The Hunger Games, there was Battle Royale

Under the Battle Royale act, a group of ninth-graders are captured and released on an island with a duffel bag of random items including a weapon. The only rule is: in the next three days, to kill their classmates and win the battle royale.

Each student is fitted with an exploding collar (ala Running Man) and is forced onto progressively smaller sections of the island, ratcheting up the suspense as one by one the students are killed and as a winner is closer to being selected.

The sequel is nearly as good and also worth a watch.

IMDB Score: 7.7/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

Bless the Beasts & Children (1971)

Taken from a required-reading book of the same name, this movie is about The Bedwetters of Box Canyon Boys Camp. The Bedwetters, the last-place cabin in camp competitions, are a group of misfits lead by Cotton (Barry Robins) and nominally Teft (Bill Mumy).

After a distressing outing to a range where people pay to shoot buffalo, the boys decide to run away from camp and free them. This starts the adventure of their lives.

IMDB Score: 6.7/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

Capricorn One (1977)

It was the biggest cover-up of all time (or since the Apollo missions?)

The Mars mission is in trouble, financing is in danger, maybe they should fake it, just this once, but it has to be kept absolutely secret.

At the last moment the astronauts of the Mars mission are pulled from the rocket and the craft is sent up unmanned. The crew are kept at a remote base while the entire mission is systematically faked.

Is the secret worth a human life?

IMDB Score: 6.8/10
Amazon Score: 4.0/5

Dead Poets Society (1989)

In a departure for Robin Williams, he stars as a English/Poetry teacher in a 1950s all-boys preparatory boarding school. Professor Keating (Williams) inspires the students to re-form an old club, the Dead Poets Society and meet in a cave to recite poetry.

It is through this film that the term Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) and O Captain! My Captain! become popular.

The film follows the daily lives of several students including Neil who gets a part in a play at a neighboring school only to have it end in disaster.

The film is both inspiring and devastating.

IMDB Score: 8.0/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

The Death of Richie (1977)

I'm still a sucker for 70s Robby Benson movies (see the review of Running Brave later).

First I read the book: Richie. Richie's life is in a spiral, he's not doing well in school and his family life is challenging. He turns to drugs and the spiral worsens.

This is a sensitive look at teenage life and the tragedy that sometimes accompanies it.

It's disappointing that this is a DVD-R rather than a pressed disk.

IMDB Score: 7.4/10
Amazon Score: 5.0/5

Donnie Darko (2001)

Somewhat surreal, Donnie Darko tells the tale of a troubled teen who's manipulated by a large bunny.

After narrowly escaping being killed in a freak accident, Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal), under the influence of his friend Frank, a large bunny, vandalizes the school. Donnie's psychiatrist, using hypnotherapy, discovers the crime and, also because of his friend Frank feels that Donnie is exhibiting signs of paranoid schizophrenia.

Donnie becomes interested in time travel after Frank brings up the subject. Time travel is supposed to end in destroying reality, thus the end of the world and the bad dreams. Like I said, surreal.

The movie is critically acclaimed and has garnered a cult following.

IMDB Score: 8.1/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

Eddie and the Cruisers (1983)

A television reporter is looking for some lost recordings of Eddie and the Cruisers, discovering that Eddie may be alive after all, and looking for the tapes himself.

Members of the band relive the 60s phenomenon that they were a part of, leading up to the death of Eddie in a car crash.

The movie has a great soundtrack featuring John Cafferty.

IMDB Score: 6.8/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

The Game (1997)

In this thriller, Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), a wealthy financier, gets a birthday gift from his brother Conrad (Sean Penn) of a live-action game. But then, things start to go terribly wrong.

After a day of tests, Van Orton is told that he does not quality for the game. He is incensed, but has to accept this. But this may be a part of the game itself. His life starts to fall apart and things spiral out of control. Is it all a game or is his life essentially ending?

IMDB Score: 7.8/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

Ghost (1990)

After a robbery gone wrong, Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is killed leaving Molly (Demi Moore) alone. When she is contacted by a fake psychic (Whoopi Goldberg) telling her that Sam has contacted her and wants to warn Molly of danger, she wants to believe.

She contacts the police and is told that Oda Mae Brown, the psychic, is a small-time con artist and should be ignored.

But Sam is a ghost and has really contacted Oda Mae and really does know that Molly is in danger.

Was the robbery really happenstance? Did Sam die by accident? Is there someone behind this and why?

The film is now a classic and for good reason.

IMDB Score: 7.0/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

The Heavenly Kid (1985)

Bobby dies in car accident but doesn't move on. He's in a holding pattern in-between until he's given a job that will earn his way to heaven.

The job is to coach Lenny, a teenager, in life. (Lenny is bright, but unnoticed and is about to commit suicide.) Bobby has to steer Lenny to being cool and get the girl. It turns out that Lenny's mom is Bobby's then-current girlfriend so this is why he was chosen.

This is a heartwarming tale that is guaranteed to give you warm fuzzies.

Buying hint: The film is cheaper when bought as a two-fer with Teen Witch.

IMDB Score: 6.2/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

The Manhattan Project (1986)

Boy genius Paul Stephens' ultimate science project: an atomic bomb.

With fissionable material stolen from the lab where his mother's boyfriend works, Paul crafts a bomb. Of course, it's harmless unless he fishishes assembling it. He wouldn't do that, would he?

But, once assembled, he can't take it back apart. Now it's up to Paul (Christopher Collet) and his mom's boyfriend, Dr. Mathewson (John Lithgow), to diffuse the device without setting it off.

There's some fun parts in this movie and the drama is a little over the top, but it's a movie that I've always liked.

IMDB Score: 6.1/10
Amazon Score: 4.1/5

Project X (1987)

Jimmy Garrett (Matthew Broderick) is in the Air Force and oversees the training of chimps on simplified flight simulators. When he discovers that one of his chimps, Virgil, knows sign language he does some digging and find out that he was formerly in a university study on communication.

Jimmy contacts Teri, the chimp's trainer and together they try to find out why the chimps are being trained by the air force.

This has sad parts, but is a fine film.

IMDB Score: 6.0/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

Pump Up the Volume (1990)

In this off-beat drama, we meet Mark Hunter (Christian Slater), a pirate DJ who, after moving into the middle of nowhere, decides to use his ham radio to illegally broadcast to his fellow students a mix of profane music and explicit segways.

Upset by the intimate knowledge of the school district by Mark (as Happy Harry Hard-on), the school's administration starts a hunt for the pirate. The FCC is called in and Mark is put in jeopardy.

This is actually a very intelligent movie, Mark is crude but sharp. His advice to callers spot on, if rude. IMDB Score: 7.1/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

Ransom (1996)

I first saw this in the theater and later bought it on DVD.

Tom Mullen's son has been kidnapped and he (Mel Gibson) waits for a ransom demand. He cooperates with the police, even though they may find out about his past shady dealings. But when it comes time to pay the kidnappers, he instead goes on television and promises a huge reward to anyone turning in the kidnappers.

It becomes a race against time for the kidnappers. Do they release the kid? Does one turn in the other to collect the reward?

This is a taught thriller that showcases Gibson's fine acting.

IMDB Score: 6.6/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Cole (Haley Joel Osment) confides in his psychologist (Bruce Willis) that he can see dead people. It's good therapy for the therapist, as he has had a previous patient, who visits him then kills himself.

As we delve into Cole's problems we learn more about Crowe (Willis) as well.

IMDB Score: 8.2/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

Song for a Raggy Boy (2003)

Buying hint: This is a Region 2 import and won't play on common DVD players, but did fine in the computer that ripped it to DIVX.

Based on a true story, this film is the story of the courage of a teacher who stands up to a disciplinarian in a boy's reformatory in Ireland.

The film is moving and stirring.

IMDB Score: 7.5/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

Taps (1981)

George C. Scott, Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn and Tom Cruise star in Taps, the story of cadets who go to extremes to protect their military academy from closure.

The drama in this movie is palpable as the cadets take control of the academy to prevent condo developers for leveling the school.

Another military academy story, I really enjoyed it.

IMDB Score: 6.7/10
Amazon Score: 4.5/5

 

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