Tag Archives: slipstream

Slipstream (2005)

Slipstream (2005)

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Today’s review is on a little known 2005 time travel bank heist movie, and the second feature I’m spotlighting with the title of “Slipstream.”

“Slipstream” was directed by David van Eyssen, who interestingly doesn’t have any other directorial film credits. The writers, Phillip Badger and Louis Morneau, worked together previously on the 1997 film “Retroactive,” and each have a handful of credits to their names. Morneau in particular might be best known for directing the 1999 bomb, “Bats.”

The cinematography on “Slipstream” was provided by Sonke Hansen, a cinematographer and camera operator who has worked on films such as “Enemy At The Gates,” “Cloud Atlas,” and “Ninja Assassin.”

The special effects for “Slipstream,” which are somewhat extensive, were overseen by Mickey Kirsten. Kirsten has a solid handful of special effects credits since 2000, including work on “The Constant Gardener” and “Chronicle.”

slipstream052The “Slipstream” score was provided by one Rob Lord, who primarily provides music for video games (“Just Cause,” “Just Cause 2”) and a handful of television documentaries.

The cast of “Slipstream” is headlined by Sean Astin (“The Lord of the Rings”) and Vinnie Jones (“The Midnight Meat Train,” “Snatch”), who each play their usual character types of a timid hero and a heavy, respectively. Most of the acting weight of the movie falls on the two of them, as well as Ivana Milicevic (“Vanilla Sky”), who rounds out the minimal central cast.

slipstream051The story of “Slipstream” centers around Sean Astin’s character: a scientist who has helped develop a limited time travel device. In a baffling act that defies any kind of sense, he absconds with the device in order to flirt with a local bank teller, which apparently required time travel for him to pull off. The complication occurs when the bank is robbed by Vinnie Jones during Astin’s awful courting attempt, which rapidly snowballs into tragedy and subsequent time travel shenanigans.

“Slipstream” currently holds a score of 4.6 on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 34% (audience) and 0% (critics). Each score pulls from a relatively small sample size, but all of them are well into the negatives no matter how you cut it.

slipstream055While the special effects in “Slipstream” aren’t awful, especially given what I assume was a small budget, there are certainly a lot of overdone elements. In particular, there is an excess of slow motion sequences throughout the film, which are typically used to indicate the activation of the time travel device. However, it does become quite repetitive after it is used a couple of times.

The character writing in “Slipstream” is pretty far from fantastic. In particular, Astin’s character struck me as a total creep as opposed to just an awkward protagonist, which makes it harder to relate to him as the lead. There is also an attempt to get the audience to feel for Vinnie Jones’s villain character, which doesn’t make much sense given how ruthless and murderous he is throughout the story. It doesn’t help that the attempts to characterize him are pretty shallow, specifically through some awkwardly artificial banter between him and his partner about various crime movies.

slipstream053Personally, I feel like this movie would have been better if it never left the bank building, or at least not until the last act. The audience and characters don’t get much time to relate to the surroundings, which is usually one of the most fun aspects of time travel films. Instead of playing with the possibilities of the bank setting and the events of the robbery, the story winds up in a real rush to get away from the premise, which leads to it getting a bit off the rails. There is a reason this isn’t as highly regarded as films like “Run Lola Run” or “Groundhog Day.”

Perhaps the biggest issue with “Slipstream” is that the aspirations for the story exceeded the budget that was available to the team. While the effects aren’t bad for the money involved, the movie as a whole would have dramatically benefited from higher quality work. The whole movie just looks and feels cheaper than the interesting concept justifies. This isn’t just limited to the effects, either: but the casting, directing, and dialogue all seem to be stuck in the same boat.

Overall, “Slipstream” is a bit of a disappointment given the interesting premise. The trailer is frankly far more interesting than the movie itself. That said, despite all of the flaws with it, this is probably one of the better television science fiction movies from the era, and is a welcome change of pace from the various hybrid monster movies and “Lake Placid” sequels that were popping up at the time.

As far as a recommendation goes, this doesn’t quite fall into the realm of “good-bad.” It also isn’t anywhere near good, landing decidedly in the realm of mediocre. I don’t think it quite merits the low ratings it has, but it certainly doesn’t earn an overall positive score in my book. I’d generally advise skipping it, unless you are just a huge fan of time travel stories.

 

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Slipstream (1989)

Slipstream (1989)

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Next up are a handful of reviews that I’ve been putting off for some time now. For those who have frequented the blog for a while (and also have sharp memories), you might recall that 3 different movies, all called “Slipstream,” have popped up frequently in my bargain bin movie hunting. Now I am finally going to watch all three of them, and see how they actually stack up. First up is 1989’s “Slipstream,” starring Mark Hamill and Bill Paxton.

“Slipstream” was directed by one Steven Lisberger, who is best known for writing and directing the original “TRON” in 1982.  He doesn’t have a whole lot of credits to his name, but apparently he worked anonymously on screenplays throughout the 1990s and 2000s, primarily because the failure of “Slipstream” tanked his potential career as a director.

The “Slipstream” screenplay was written by Tony Kayden, a television writer who did a few made-for-TV movies as well as a handful of episodes of shows like “The Waltons” and “Little House on the Prairie.” If that doesn’t sound like the ideal fit for a science fiction epic, you are probably right to think that.

The cinematography for “Slipstream” was provided by Frank Tidy, whose credits have included such masterpieces as Sylvester Stallone’s “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!” and Steven Seagal’s “Under Seige.” However, he also worked as the director of photography on Ridley Scott’s first feature, 1977’s “The Duellists.”

The score for “Slipstream” (which is fantastic) was composed and conducted by Elmer Bernstein, and recorded by the London Symphonic Orchestra. Bernstein was a film composer and conductor who racked up hundreds of movie credits beginning in the 1950s, all the way up until his death in 2004. His credits include fantastic films (“Bringing Out The Dead,” “My Left Foot,” “Ghostbusters”), cult classics (“Heavy Metal”), and some of the worst regarded movies in cinema history (“Leonard Part 6,” “Robot Monster”).

slipstream891The special effects team for “Slipstream” involved a significant team of workers who were carried over by producer Gary Kurtz from an earlier collaboration on “The Empire Strikes Back,” including Andrew Kelly (“28 Days Later,” “Sunshine,” “Dune”), Phil Knowles (“Alien,” “Space Truckers”), Roger Nichols (“Batman Begins,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”), John Packenham (“Krull”), Alan Poole (“Empire of the Sun,” “The NeverEnding Story”), Peter Skehan (“Gladiator,” “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade”), Ron Hone (“World War Z,” “Prometheus,” “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”), and Neil Swan (“Alien,” “The Princess Bride”). Joining them were a couple of other special effects guys who have likewise gone on to significant careers: Steve Cullane (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Skyfall,” “Gravity,” “Hudson Hawk”) and Andrew Eio (“Mission: Impossible,” “Behind Enemy Lines,” “Event Horizon,” “Hackers”).

One of the most impressive aspects of “Slipstream” is the surprisingly deep cast, headlined by Mark Hamill and Bill Paxton, who both turn in memorable performances. The list also includes Ben Kingsley, Robbie Coltrane, F. Murray Abraham, and Bob Peck (in what might be his best role), who mostly mostly serve to fill out small roles throughout the film.

slipstream892One of the co-leads, Kitty Aldridge, has not had any acting credits since 1998, but has published a handful of novels throughout the 2000s since her acting career has ceased.

With such an impressively assembled, successful effects team and cast, you might be curious as to how “Slipstream” flew so far under the radar. Of course, there’s a reason for that. “Slipstream” only released in the UK and Australia (briefly), and the poor reception meant that it never got theatrical distribution in North America. It did wind up with a VHS release, and has since popped up on a ton of DVD compilations since falling into the public domain (which is how I came across it, of course).

The massive failure of “Slipstream” blew back particularly hard on Gary Kurtz, one of the film’s producers and arguably the driving force behind the film. Despite his earlier successes on influential and well-regarded films like “The Dark Crystal,” “American Graffiti,” and the first two “Star Wars” features, this failure basically sunk his career. He has only recently picked up producing again on a regular basis in the 2000s, and is still active at the age of 74.

The story of “Slipstream” follows a mysterious android (Bob Peck) as he is and pursued by both law enforcement (Mark Hamill) and a bounty hunter (Bill Paxton) in a weather-ravaged, post-apocalyptic world. The only means of travel in this world is by air on small, low-altitude planes, due to the catastrophic weather effects that ravage the landscape.

“Slipstream” was filmed throughout Europe, particularly in Turkey and Ireland, giving it a thoroughly impressive backdrop. Particularly, the extensive aerial shots over Ireland are absolutely gorgeous.

Reportedly, the original script for “Slipstream” was far more violent, but was cut significantly before filming. These cuts have been blamed partially for the movie’s general incoherence, though I personally feel that additional length is the last thing that this movie needed.

slipstream897As mentioned previously, “Slipstream” was very poorly regarded in the brief release it received at the time, primarily due to the meandering plot. Rotten Tomatoes currently has it at a 20% rating from both audiences and critics, though it comes from a fairly small sample size. IMDb has the movie at a somewhat higher 4.9, though that is still a long way from positive.

Most of the criticisms I have seen of “Slipstream” cite that it has very slow pacing, and that the plot meanders a bit too much. Some have complained about the effects being low quality, but that’s to be expected from a generally low-budget movie, regardless of the team behind it. Interestingly, it seems that the movie has been better received in retrospect, with people being somewhat fascinated by the casting and surprisingly good performances all around. I certainly agree that the movie is both longer and slower than it should be, but it does have a fair number of redeeming values.

First off, the performances in “Slipstream” are generally pretty good. Hamill manages to portray a chilling, strictly lawful antagonist, which provides a great foil for Bill Paxton’s laid-back, comic outlaw lead. Bob Peck mostly steals the show, however, with a great performance that captures the complexities of an advanced artificial being. His character slowly becomes more relate-able and human as the story goes on, which is pretty intriguing to watch Peck convey.

Unfortunately, the movie suffers from the extended absence of Mark Hamill’s character, who vanishes for an excruciating stretch of the middle of the film. I’m curious as to why this was done, because it doesn’t seem like a script improvisation, but rather an intentional design of the story. It does allow for some development, but his absence also makes the film far less interesting to watch for a decent stretch of time.

Of all of the problems with the film, none are quite as glaring as the pacing. This is at least partially to blame on the previously mentioned script cuts before filming, but a certain degree of blame has to rest with the director and editor for not recognizing the issue and finding a way to mend it. This seems like the perfect sort of film to have a director’s cut, but, because the major cuts were made before filming, there isn’t any spare footage to make such a re-cut possible.

Though it is hard to regard this as a true flaw, there are a whole lot of borrowed elements throughout “Slipstream,” that stand out significantly. There are some obvious similarities to “Star Wars” given the number of common contributors, but some of the more obvious parallels are to “3:10 to Yuma” (the plot) and “North by Northwest,” specifically in the opening sequence which depicts a plane/foot chase. Personally, I think the mixture of them all creates something kind of unique and interesting to watch, though I don’t think some of the homages should have been so blatantly done.

slipstream895The finale of the movie features a bizarre fight inside the cockpit of a plane, which is honestly the most exciting part of the film. Unfortunately, it passes a bit too quickly, particularly in comparison to the bloated, slow sequences that clog up most of the film.

M8DSLIP EC004I’m a big fan of the world that is constructed in “Slipstream,” particularly the background details. At one point, there is a cult portrayed that worships the weather, and another portion that presents a secluded, opulent colony trying to maintain their lifestyle and culture despite the apocalyptic surroundings. It mostly happens in the background, but it is fascinating to see how people have come to deal with the world after society has crumbled.

Overall, I liked this film far better than I expected to. It isn’t a high-quality film, and there are plenty of issues with it, but it was still generally enjoyable to watch, especially if you go in not expecting anything. The acting and music is particularly impressive, and if you can bear through the slower parts, it is worth a watch in my opinion.

Bargain Bin(ge) III

Bargain Bin(ge) Part 1
Bargain Bin(ge) Part 2

Shark Week

This is a shark movie from The Asylum. It is pretty hard to go wrong there. The Asylum makes their money doing two things: making CGI shark movies, and ripping off current blockbusters. I’m not expecting something on the level of “Sharknado”, but this one does seem to have a dumb plot to contend with the best of them. There’s a cheesy villain as well, and that is pretty much all I need to justify the one dollar I spent on this.

CyberTracker

This looks like a pretty promising B movie to me. However, the Red Letter Media folks apparently found it to be incredibly boring on “Best of the Worst”. This might be one of those cases where the trailer is crafted in such a way that it can fool you, but I am really curious to try this one out for myself. At the very least, I can see how my tolerance stacks up against the Red Letter Media crowd. I also love that the super cyborg prototype looks like the evil robot version of Sonic the Hedgehog in “Sonic the Hedgehog 2”.

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Judgment

Oh my. I can’t express how excited I am to watch this movie. Not only is there a silly plot about our dark future of christian persecution, but this stars both Mr. T and one of my favorite overactors, Corbin Bernsen. “The Dentist” is still one of my favorite underrated shitty movies, and Corbin Bersen tears up his gums throughout that piece of trash from gnawing on all of the scenery. This trailer has me even more giddy about getting to this one, because the dialogue sounds just awful. I particularly like the line “I call to the stand…Jesus Christ”. That’s just gold.

Shredder

I remember watching this movie on FearNet a number of years ago. It is a pretty run-of-the-mill slasher movie, apart from the snowboarding focus. I do seem to recall a semi-interesting twist/whodunit plot that set it somewhat apart from the pack, but overall it was your typical gory slasher movie. Again, it has been a number of years, so I am interested to see how much I might have forgotten.

Thunderpants

This is a movie about a farting child. It co-stars Rupert Grint of “Harry Potter” film franchise fame, and the marketing unsurprisingly focuses squarely around him. His involvement is probably the only reason this has as wide of a DVD release as it does, hoping to cash in his popularity. It seems similar to how recent releases of “Mazes and Monsters” really emphasize the fact that it stars Tom Hanks, even though no one knew who he was then. In any case, this is a family-friendly movie about farts, so that’s pretty much what I am going to expect to see here. Lots of fart jokes.

Bigfoot

Danny Bonaduce starring in a movie is pretty hard to believe, but that is an easier pill to swallow than the CGI on the supersized Bigfoot here. Why did they feel the need to make Bigfoot so large for this anyway? I expected more of a typical Sasquatch movie, but this is pushing more into King Kong territory. In any case, I’m looking forward to the typical monster movie cheese here. I’m also curious if they push the environmental message to “Birdemic” levels, and if they will find some way to make destroying Mt. Rushmore interesting.

Mazes and Monsters

This movie will make you wonder how Tom Hanks ever wound up with a career. This absolute stinker of a movie plays off of the paranoia surrounding the popularity of “Dungeons and Dragons” back in the day, and comes out somehow more nauseating than the classic Jack Chick tract on the subject. Tom Hanks hams it up throughout the movie as the lead character, and has a number of notable scenes in this one that are hard to forget. All of the dialogue in the movie is atrocious from what I have seen in reviews, but I haven’t actually sat through this monster myself. I’m looking forward to rolling the dice on this one.

Slipstream (2007)

I mentioned in a previous Bargain Bin(ge) that there are a number of shitty movies out there with the title “Slipstream”. As luck would have it, I have now found the other two movies with the title (there is a fourth as well according to IMDb, but I don’t think any copies actually exist).

This one seems to me to be Anthony Hopkins’s dream project. Anytime someone writes/directs/stars, you have to wonder if they might have too much invested in the movie to cut at it objectively. Some people apparently really appreciated this as a surreal film, but the general consensus is that it doesn’t quite hit the mark, and is just a confusing and jumbled mess. I am really curious about it myself. The concept sounds really cool, and the cast is all pretty competent (maybe not Slater), but I could see how it could trip over itself.

Slipstream (1989)

Another “Slipstream”! This one is more of a straight B-movie than the previously mentioned films of the same name. This one features Bill Paxton and Mark Hamill in a futuristic wasteland, and strikes me initially as being a pretty interesting movie. The chemistry between Paxton and Hamill seems pretty solid from the trailer, and I like how this movie seems to be drawing from multiple genres for inspiration. I am pretty surprised I hadn’t heard of this one, because it looks like it has some great potential for unintentional entertainment at the very least.

She Gods of Shark Reef

I’ve never caught this one before, but it looks like more or less the usual Roger Corman fare. I actually found this the day after I watched the above commentary by Corman on this film’s trailer. There isn’t a whole lot of information about the film revealed in there, but it is nice to know that Corman enjoyed his time filming in Hawaii. I am curious exactly how one “controls” a shark, though.

Bargain Bin(ge), Part 2

Bargain Bin(ge), Part 1



Beyond Justice

I always love coming across obscure Rutger Hauer movies. The plot to this one involves a kidnapping and some hardcore child custody issues with international implications, which isn’t something you hear about a movie every day. I’m curious if this is going to have some sort of major plot twist in it, as it seems kind of ripe for it. I’m hoping for some decent action in this one, but I am a little concerned that it might get too wrapped up in the complexity of the plot and detract attention from Hauer’s character. Hopefully this grainy old flick doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is ultimately a decent watch.

Iron Maze

This movie looks pretty bad from what I have seen so far. There is an interesting mechanism here that films love to use, wherein we are given multiple views of a crucial event from a number of unreliable witnesses. That would normally have me optimistic, but the acting and production values that I saw in that trailer are just horrendous. I have the feeling that this one will ultimately just be a boring, poorly paced wreck, but I don’t want to judge it too harshly before I see what it truly has to offer.

Slipstream (2005)

It turns out that there are a lot of movies with the title “Slipstream” out there. Who knew? This one actually has a cool premise, based on a limited time manipulation device and its use to change the events of a tragic bank robbery. I am interested in seeing how this movie winds up going wrong, because the trailer actually paints it pretty well. I am always thrilled to see Mr. “Midnight Meat Train” Vinnie Jones in a B-movie, and expect that he pulls a good performance here. I’m not particularly familiar with the rest of the cast, but I am looking forward to this one regardless.

iMurders

This looks to me like a horror movie cashing in on people’s fear of technology and the internet. Sounds absolutely delightful! I am guessing this one will be looked at in the future in the same way that we look at movies like “Beeper” now. In any case, I love a good luddite-fueled horror movie, so I am hoping for some good laughs out of this schlock.

The Eliminator

Having your action movie star a non-actor is always a promising start to a B-movie. This particular “Most Dangerous Game” style movie starts a former(?) UFC fighter who I haven’t heard of before. I figure as long as he poorly delivers lines and can beat the crap out of minions on screen, he’ll be able to make this thing enjoyable. I am interested to see how this manhunt movie stacks against “Deadly Prey”, as there are some definite similarities between the two. This one does have an interesting gambling element thrown in that I am digging from the trailer, so I am interested to see how that plays out.

Project Eliminator

This movie features David Carradine and a “top secret…ultra-sophisticated flying attack laser”. That’s more than enough incentive to get me to watch a movie. I have high hopes for this being a truly wretched movie with plenty of unintentional laughs. It is worth pointing out that I couldn’t find a trailer, so I am going to be going into this one absolutely blind. Oh goody! I’m also interested to see how it stacks up to the previously mentioned and similarly-titled “The Eliminator”

Kiss Daddy Goodnight

I couldn’t find a trailer on this one, which in my experience is consistently a bad sign. This one mostly caught my attention by featuring a pre-fame Uma Thurman, and the highly creepy title definitely managed to stick out. The premise paints it as a noir thriller (that definitely caught my interest), as it follows Thurman’s character as she drugs and robs random guys who try to pick her up at bars. At first glance it all seems very promising, but clearly something went wrong with this movie to merit a 4.1 IMDb score. I am very interested to see what exactly that is.

Green Guys

This is one that I am pretty curious about. It seems to be centered around some Wall Street-style swindlers who get on the wrong side of the mob, which is an interesting enough premise. The trailer doesn’t particularly excite me though, and the IMDb rating is an abysmal 4.5. I’m looking for some good shitty movie entertainment value out of this one, which is appropriately a bit of a blind gamble.

Undercurrent

I kind of wish that this trailer didn’t tell me so much. Clearly there is a twist/betrayal well into this movie, but it is totally ruined by this trailer. Regardless, at first glance this seems to be a decently action-filled tropical flick. The premise is a bit odd for an action movie, as it seems mostly based on a monetary deal offered to the lead character in return for him sleeping with another man’s wife. It seems a bit bizarre and convoluted, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume there is a sufficiently acceptable reason for the proposal in the film. In any case, the whole thing clearly goes haywire. This is another one that looks watchable enough to me, but it has clearly not swooned most watchers according to a 4.7 on IMDb. My guess is that the plot ties itself into too many knots and ultimately bogs itself down, but I’ll be interested to see if there are some other failures thrown into the mix.

Deadliest Prey

I can’t wait to watch this. “Deadliest Prey” is a near shot-for-shot remake/sequel of the cult classic “Deadly Prey”. From everything i have seen, this movie lives up to the original. They pretty much just retread their previous path with the same now-aged actors and improved effects, but there wasn’t all that much that needed changing from the original. I am still just giddy that I came across a physical copy of this.

Mindhunters

I saw this movie a number of years ago, and recall some very specific things about it. First off, I remember the deaths being very Rube Goldberg in their complexity and ridiculousness. Secondly, I remember there being an absurd number of twists and unexpected turns. Normally that would be good for this sort of movie, but this one went a little overboard with it. I am always reminded of this movie whenever Deep Blue Sea comes up in bad movie conversations, because this does some similar unexpected star-killing, though not nearly as dramatically as Jackson’s fall in Deep Blue Sea. I’m looking forward to seeing this again, I hadn’t been able to find a DVD copy of this until very recently. Apparently there was a lot of studio turmoil behind this movie, which contributed both to its flop and perhaps to its lack of wide distribution.