Korean action epic ‘The Great Battle’ on Netflix

Grandly mounted and filled with sweeping battle scenes, the costume battle epic The Great Battle (South Korea, 2018), retells the true story of the invasion of Goguryeo, a kingdom on the Korean peninsula, by the Chinese Yang Empire in the 600s. Korean pop star Zo In-sung stars as General Yang, the commander of the Ansi […]

James Franco and Seth Rogen ride the ‘Pineapple Express’ on Netflix

The Judd Apatow factory refreshed the coming-of-age comedy (for all ages of adolescent men) in comedies like Knocked Up, Superbad, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall before stretching itself thin (that’s my best explanation for Drillbit Taylor and Step Brothers). One of the smartest things he did was to seek out directors not normally associated with his […]

‘Zulu’ on Amazon Prime Video

The sun sets on the British Empire in Zulu (1964), an historical epic built around a legendary colonial battle of the late 19th century. Legendary to British history, that is. The Battle of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa would be all but unknown in the U.S outside of historical societies were it not for Zulu. […]

John Huston directs ‘Moby Dick’ on Amazon Prime Video

“Call me Ishmael.” John Huston’s 1956 film of Moby Dick (1956), Herman Melville’s whaling drama turned epic odyssey and a classic of American literature and a staple of high school and college literature courses, remains the most famous screen version of the novel. Gregory Peck plays the obsessed Captain Ahab, who lost his leg to […]

Peter Jackson directs the first film in J.R.R. Tolkein's trilogy

‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

With The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), New Zealand genre film maverick Peter Jackson does the impossible: he makes a faithful, magical, thrilling, and—most importantly—compelling film version of J.R.R. Tolkein’s great cult fantasy epic. Streamlining the complex story and wealth of detail from the novel, Jackson manages to introduce a […]

Randolph Scott in ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ on Amazon Prime Video

The 1936 version of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans stars Randolph Scott stars as trapper and frontiersman Hawkeye. As in the novel, the Caucasian Hawkeye travels with Chingahook (Robert Barrat), the last chief of the Mohican tribe, and Uncas (Phillip Reed), Chingahook’s son, and refuses to join the war against the French […]

Sean Connery and Michael Caine star in John Huston's adaptation

John Huston’s ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

The Man Who Would Be King (1975) – John Huston originally wanted to make a film of Rudyard Kipling’s grand adventure in the late 1950s with Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable in the leading roles. It would’ve made a hell of a picture. And, as a matter of fact, it did, only with Sean Connery […]

Fay Wray in the ape's paw in the original 1933 classic

The original ‘King Kong’ on FilmStruck

King Kong (1933) is the king of the jungle of giant creature features. The acting and the dialogue verges on kitsch, but the production from explorers, adventurers, and real-life adventure filmmaking pioneers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack is still awe-inspiring and the special effects of Willis O’Brien, groundbreaking in their day, are beautifully […]

Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen in the 1973 escape drama from director Franklin J. Schaffner

Steve McQueen is ‘Papillon’ on FilmStruck

Ten years after Steve McQueen made his name in the most famous prison break thriller of them all—The Great Escape—he stepped into the role of Henri ‘Papillon’ Charriere, the real-life French safecracker convicted of murder (unjustly, he maintained) and sentenced to the prison colony in French Guyana and, later, Devil’s Island. Directed by Franklin J. […]

Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in the film from Gore Verbinksi

‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ on Netflix

Buried under kerchief, blousy shirt, and the make-up of a heavy metal fashion victim, Johnny Depp bobs and weaves his way through the hit pirate trilogy as Jack Sparrow, a black pirate come high seas con man with a heart of tarnished stolen gold. He seems to have stumbled in from his own private movie […]