Castor’s Underrated Gems – Loose Cannons (1990)

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The dreaded, infamous 0% on Rotten Tomatoes is a label to be both reviled for and applauded for. It’s as rare as white peacocks or purple carrots. However, the quantity of the viewers should also be titrated when evaluating whether a goose egg is earned or merely a biased sampling. Before writing my defense of Bob Clark’s offbeat action-comedy Loose Cannons, I found nary a positive review for this. This is a hill I must conquer and perish upon alone.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Schlock (1973)

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It’s common wisdom that comedy writer-directors should never moonlight as the main performer in their movies. Mel Brooks could be inconsistent and Seth MacFarlane is mostly inept. However, with the application of Rick Baker’s hirsute makeup, John Landis transmogrifies himself into Shlockthropus and it is not blandishing overstatement to say he is an uproarious silent comedian in the title role.

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The Reviewinator: IT – Chapters 1 & 2 (2017/2019)

I usually don’t combine reviews unless it’s a TV show, but since the two chapters of IT are clearly two halves of a whole, I decided to make an exception. Whereas the Stephen King book zig-zags between the child characters and they’re grown-up counterparts up to and including its climactic chapters, these modern film versions follow the same half-and-half structure as the 1990 made-for-TV original, with the kids’ story in the first half and the grown-ups’ story in the second.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Fierce Creatures (1997)

For years after A Fish Called Wanda (and the Oscar-garnering exhibition for Kevin Kline), the team behind the 1988 masterstroke dawdled to craft a reunion. While Fierce Creatures isn’t roborean with a heist plotline and the flatulence sound effects are sophomoric, it is an exuberantly funny follow-up with a loopy sense of humor (ex. The high-jinx with an animatronic panda).

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Toy Soldiers (1991)

Some characters never get their due. For instance, Andrew Divoff has forged a career of being relegated to sadistic psychopaths from the snarling biker in Another 48 Hrs. to the malevolent djinn in Wishmaster. In David Koepp’s innovatively formulaic, invigorating Toy Soldiers, his vaguely ethnic looks are reconstituted to be a Colombian terrorist and he is one of the keys to this derivative sleeper’s success.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Judgment Night (1993)

A few months ago, Emilio Estevez’s latest directorial foray The Public and I remarked how much his truancy from cinema left a void of earnest, sweat-suffused affability. Reeling back to the early 90’s, I’d macadamize that he was the best of the Brat Pack crew and his lead efforts were always stratified by his altruistic appeal.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Zardoz (1974)

If John Boorman can be commended for anything, he is fiercely temerarious which might explain why ‘Exorcist II: The Heretic’ is such a fatuous departure. For ‘Zardoz‘, he isn’t foolhardy enough to be a continuation of an existing IP. This is Boorman at his most unbridled and kamikaze. In that regard, the film is a profoundly surreal expression of his id and that should be plauditory alone.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Wanted: Dead or Alive (1987)

Full disclosure: I was recently on vacation in Dallas, Texas and during my time there, I got a bit of a neo-western fever. This may have gerrymandered my choice of which film to highlight the inimitable Rutger Hauer who recently passed away. Hauer surely contributed to one of cinema’s most gracefully existential monologues in ‘Blade Runner’ but I doubt he’s a household name. In fact, Hauer was always more of a twinkling-eyed character actor than a star. Therefore, the Dutch journeyman’s leading roles were rarities. One exception was the contemporized adaptation of Steve McQueen’s gunslinger launching pad from 1958-1961.

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The Reviewinator: Dark Phoenix (2019)

Here we go again. In this tiresome age of superhero do-overs, we now have the retelling of the Phoenix storyline first told in X-Men: The Last Stand. If memory serves, these “prequel” movies are supposed to co-exist with the original X-Men movies up to the 1974 timeline disruption from Days of Future Past. Meaning, from a purely continuity perspective, most of the same rules should apply here and the filmmakers should be telling more or less the same Phoenix story again. But like X-Men: Apocalypse, they throw continuity to the wind and add yet another decade-long time jump to 1992 (that’s right, 2011’s First Class characters are supposed to be 30 years older here!), so they can tell a bland and tonally-uneven conclusion to X-Men that neither honors the 19-year film franchise nor justifies Dark Phoenix’s now-infamous reshoots.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Tucker: The Man and His Dreams (1988)

Rarely has a biopic about a disgraced vehicle magnate been so chipper, uplifting and halcyon. The American Zoetrope logo is an indication of the old-fashioned approach that Francis Ford Coppola is utilizing for his hugely engrossing portrait ‘Tucker: The Man and His Dream’. The whole movie is glazed in a honey-pigmented lens and it is as wildly Icarus-like as Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges) was.

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