Renny Harlin

long kiss

Before we begin, let’s take a moment to clarify that headline: The Long Kiss Goodnight is not a masterpiece. Sorry to break it to you, Renny Harlin, but your finest work falls just short of Lawrence of Arabia and all those other films about schoolteachers discovering their killer pasts. Harlin’s career is full of highs and lows, including last weekend‘s The Legend of Hercules, but everything about Harlin’s “style,” from even his lowest points, came into focus for 1996′s The Long Kiss Goodnight. When Harlin’s name shows in the opening credits for his quasi-spy thriller, a grenade appears, appropriately (and visually) declaring this is the director’s most explosive outing yet. Harlin maintains a jovial energy through the film’s entire runtime, but much of the its success is attributed to screenwriter Shane Black. Black’s sensibility rings loud and clear underneath Harlin’s bombast: a dark sense of humor, an unlikely duo at the center, inventive set pieces, and clever setups and payoffs.

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THE LEGEND OF HERCULES

Oh, January. It’s like we don’t even need any other months when the first one can supply us with such strong contenders for the best of the year and the worst of the year. Guess which category The Legend of Hercules falls under. Hint: it’s not playing at Sundance. I know, it’s too early to be sure that this will fall on our list of the most awful movies of 2014, and we’ve got another Hercules movie out this summer from Brett Ratner, so you know it could actually get much worse. At least that competing blockbuster has The Rock as its lead, promising a charisma that Legend star Kellan Lutz just completely lacks. Not that more personality would have made this movie a lot better, but it could have used someone with more appeal than if they’d just cast an actual rock in the role of the demigod. This is supposed to be a legendary figure, after all. Until this movie, Lutz was best known for being a regular in the Twilight movies. Those are movies I’ve seen and, I have no shame in saying, sometimes enjoyed. And yet I have absolutely no memory of his presence or character in that series. That’s how unimpressive he is as an actor. He kind of reminds me of Sam Worthington, only without the talent. In The Legend of Hercules, he’s occasionally part of a large battle scene, and whether he’s wearing a helmet or not doesn’t matter; he never stands out. Nor does […]

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dueling hercules

Something oddly wonderful happened in early ’70s Hollywood the likes of which was never glimpsed again. No, I’m not referring to Elliott Gould’s emergence as a leading man and international sex symbol. Instead I’m talking about a situation where two studios with similar projects decided to combine forces instead of racing to complete competing movies. 20th Century Fox had the rights to Frank Robinson’s and Thomas Scortia’s novel “The Glass Inferno,” and WB had the rights to Richard Stern’s “The Tower.” Both books were disaster tales about a devastating high-rise fire, so the studios combined their efforts resulting in 1974′s The Towering Inferno. It was an immense success. Similar scenarios have happened many times since with competing projects bearing a remarkable resemblance to each other in plot or subject, but none of them have ended in that same congenial way. Either one film drops out of the running (think Linda Lovelace biopic Inferno surrendering to Lovelace), or two similarly themed movies hit screens within months of each other. That’s actually the most common scenario, and it’s set to happen again next year. Kind of. Two CGI-filled epics about Hercules are set for release in 2014. February will bring Hercules: The Legend Begins, a Renny Harlin film starring Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz as the muscular hero, and then Brett Ratner‘s Hercules with Dwayne Johnson in the title role flexes its way into theaters in July. While these head-to-heads are often tough to call a victor on in advance, this one seems like a […]

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Devil

Most found footage movies can be summed up thusly: dumb people made terrible decisions and decided to film it because they never imagined their ideas were ever stupid. Enter these intrepid young explorers featured in the trailer for Renny Harlin’s new horror film Devil’s Pass, who are about get a little more than they bargained for when they retrace the steps of the infamous Dyatlov Pass Incident. The incident is a true story; in 1959, Igor Dyatlov took nine ski hikers through the Ural Mountains in Russia, only to never be seen alive again. Their bodies were recovered over the course of two months, but nobody could ever figure out what really happened to the crew. Of course, that’s not stopping the film from coming up with its own theories with the help of the new explorers. The trailer essentially spells out the entire plot of the movie (seriously, if you want to see this, don’t watch) from the first day of hiking, to the hikers’ serious signs of trouble. There are zombies, or monsters of some kind with long fingernails and stringy hair hiding in them there hills. Russian mutants? Other lost hikers? It’s hard to tell, because in traditional and true found footage fashion, the shaky hand cam makes it hard to see what’s going on as our poor protagonists run for their lives. Check it out after the break.

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cr prison

Remember Renny Harlin? Because he remembers you… And more importantly, he remembers the support you used to give to his films. Die Hard 2! Cliffhanger! The Long Kiss Goodnight! But it was his 1999 masterpiece, Deep Blue Sea, that marked the last time audiences would love (even ironically) a film of his. Would it surprise you to learn that he’s made seven features since then? But two years before he took over the reins on John McClane’s slow descent into redundancy, Harlin birthed two horror films unto the world. One featured Freddy Krueger’s fourth foray into malleable teenage minds, and the other was an original supernatural tale from the writer of not one, but two entries in the Trancers series! Welcome to Prison.

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood cinema; nature is lethal, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the McRib. Welcome to the feast of intellectual famine! For our first course, we will be serving skewered schlock seared over a hot flame of merciless ridicule. We will follow this with a round of genuine affection sweetened with just a suçon of my completely indiscriminate, and therefore dubious, taste. For dessert we will be serving an actual food, of the junk variety, paired thematically to the film. Hey, yesterday was Thanksgiving wasn’t it? It’s hard to tell here at JFC because we feast like manic depressive sea cows on a weekly basis. But now that you’ve had ample time to digest, and now that you’ve again worked up an appetite by spending all day hip-checking soccer moms to obtain $3 seasons of Cagney & Lacey on DVD, we horribly humbly submit another feeding frenzy for your destruction consideration. Today’s Reheated Nugget: Deep Blue Sea.

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Talk of a sequel to The Long Kiss Goodnight has been openly floating around since at least 2007, and this Summer, Samuel L. Jackson again confirmed that he was up to the task. Jackson claiming to be in development is something that happens twice a day, but I recently spoke with director Renny Harlin for Reject Radio, and he confirmed that he wasn’t just twiddling his thumbs about it. He’s hired a writer to pen the script. “I just came back from Miami where I directed an episode of Burn Notice. I really like that series so I went to go and direct an episode, and the writer of the episode was Ben Watkins who is one of the producers of the show. I’d read quite a bit of his stuff, and he turned out to be a giant fan of [The Long Kiss Goodnight] so we started talking, and we decided we’re going to do it together,” said Harlin. The director also confirmed that the concept for the film hasn’t changed much. It will still focus on Samantha’s (Geena Davis) daughter Caitlin (played by Yvonne Zima) who teams up with Jackson’s character Mitch to seek revenge on the people who take her mother’s life. Of course, Caitlin would be 21 or so (which puts Zima in the running to reprise the character age wise), but it’s unclear as to whether they’ll seek a bigger name or stick with true continuity. Either way, Shane Black will not be involved considering […]

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War zone reporters and the dangerous, adrenaline-fueled lives they lead are not new topics in narrative cinema. They’ve been around as long as there have been movies, but the 80s seemed to be the genre’s heyday with films like The Year Of Living Dangerously, Salvador, and The Killing Fields all providing political commentary and harrowing drama. Recent years have seen far fewer films on the topic even though there appears to be just as many international conflicts in need of documenting. Richard Gere took a stab at it in 2007 with the Bosnia-set film The Hunting Party, but that may just be it for recent non-documentaries focused on journalists under fire. (Well, unless we’re counting Uwe Boll’s Far Cry of course.) The past year has seen a slight uptick though as two new films hit screens with stories about members of the press on the front lines of battles around the world. The first one, The Bang Bang Club, was released earlier this year (and arrived on DVD this week) and focuses on photographers covering the fall of apartheid in South Africa. The second film starts a limited theatrical run on Friday and explores the conflict around Russia’s invasion of neighboring Georgia in 2008, but what starts as an earnest and important look at a real-world travesty quickly fades into a generic series of action scenes and setups. Should we have expected more from a post-millennium Renny Harlin film? Probably not, but it never hurts to dream. (Unless you’re a […]

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Jason Momoa talks Conan, director Joann Sfar talks Gainsbourg, concept designer Jerad Marantz talks rising Apes and Spidey’s costume, and action icon Renny Harlin discusses his latest film 5 Days of War. Plus, our old friend Scott Weinberg goes up against FSR’s own Gwen Reyes in a Movie News Pop Quiz that leads us to talking about sexy animated characters. Don’t judge. You know you think Ariel is the bee’s knees. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome returns to Junkfood Cinema, the unhealthiest of weekly columns here on FSR and the only one scientifically proven to taste delicious upon consumption and decrease penis visibility once fully digested. When the email went out to all of the FSR contributors looking for guest authors for this here editorial thing I was hesitant to partake. Then, I went to the bathroom and made room, so we’re good. I know I’m no Salisbury, but fuck that meat as I’m the_beef from which his steak is cut.
As a guest I figured the most valuable contribution I could offer to all of you is the opportunity to appreciate a cinematic artery-clogger that Brian himself would dare not ingest enjoyably; something that might show up as an SAT question that reads “_____ is to Adam as shit-dipped peanut butter patty is to Brian.” I checked with Brian and he indeed does not enjoy peanut butter covered in shit, so the association is sound. All that left me with was the responsibility of finding such a film capable of satisfying me whilst rendering Brian sterile.
So, I stared at my extensive trove of dvds for all of .8 milliseconds before I found the answer to my troubles sitting neatly between Adventures in Babysitting and Advise and Consent which not only serves as a convenient method for locating the film alphabetically, but also acts as a metaphorical illustration of where the film should be precisely placed; because when you think about what would go in between Elisabeth Shue and Henry Fonda the first actor that comes to mind is The Dice Man. So, with all kinds of adieu because you’ve probably stopped reading I present to you the Renny Harlin helmed, Andrew “Dice” Clay action/comedy vehicle (get it?) The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.

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Every so often, a film emerges from the fray to prove its popularity and warrant a sequel. More and more, franchises are planned out in advance, but when one film turns into a franchise, a cash register sound goes off in the ears of the studio. Even though the kid stays in the picture, sometimes the director does not. Maybe the director is done working with the material. Maybe the producers want a more seasoned hand. Maybe a simple schedule conflict keeps him or her out of the chair for the next round up. But the show must go on, so the producers find another director to fill the slot – a director who ostensibly inherits all the strengths and weaknesses of a franchise birthed by someone else. Cinematic sloppy seconds that could have easily turned into sloppy sequels if it weren’t for a steady, talented director guiding the ship. Here’s a list of the ten best.

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Junkfood Cinema

Editor’s Note: Toni Salisbury is guest-writing this week on behalf of her husband who is taking one of those breaks that you need after eating 18 hot pockets on a “dare.” Welcome back, Cinema Junkies. Your regular host–the connoisseur of crap, maitre d’ miserable, reviewer of the rotten and lover of lost causes, Brian Salisbury–is taking a brief hiatus to restock his celluloid pantry with the most fattening films he can find. And like a doting father loathes to leave his child with a strange, menacing babysitter for the first time, he asked Mrs. Junkfood to smooth the transition. Which I would do if this column WOULD JUST STOP SCREAMING! THEN I WOULDN’T HAVE TO SHAKE IT! (note: I have never shaken a baby, and neither should you. Ever.) With that in mind, I invite the reader to indulge his (or her) weekly appetite for the ridiculously bad (and bad-for-you) film and food pairing that is Junkfood Cinema. Since nature documentaries are hardly ever anything but vegan-like in mental effect, I chose to review the only film I repeatedly watch that both lowers my IQ and raises my cholesterol at the same time. It is the most pungent of the stinkers, the limpest of the flops, feature-filmiest of B movies–and my personal go-to-in-the-dark-of-night-when-no-one’s-around-and-God-help-you-if-you-catch-me-watching-this-guilty-pleasure movie: Cutthroat Island.

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notes-carell

Steve Carell goes golfing, The Slammin’ Salmon heads to theaters, and Lars von Trier is really depressing. So what else is new?

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WWE makes no apologies for its knowing stupidity, if only they would realize that they can’t just make bad movies and get away with it…

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