80s Odyssey: Brotherhood Of Justice (1986) & Millennium (1989)

I think you can take a look at the poster to the left here and understand why I wanted to watch this 1986 TV movie. Young Keanu Reeves and Kiefer Sutherland in a movie where Reeves and his high school pals decide to start defending their school from some of the bad kids, fitting in with the late 80s/early 90s tradition of such films as Class of 1999 and Band of the Hand.

This time around, Reeves and his boys decide to start defending their school after the principal basically gives an impassioned speech asking for kids to stand up for themselves and their school. They come up with a few rules and decide that they will attack people but only if 1) they all agree and 2) their intel guy can dig up enough stuff to convince them of actual wrong doing.

As these things tend to, though, some of the guys let the newfound power and quasi-fame get to their heads and want to start breaking their own rules. But, being the good guy he is, Reeves doesn’t agree. If you’re wondering how Sutherland fits in, he’s the guy that Reeves’ girlfriend is hanging out with. He’s not in the Brotherhood, but winds up on the other end of their gaze because of his relationship with the girl. Oh, by the way, the girlfriend is played by none other than Lori Loughlin of Full House fame. I had a huge crush on her as a kid.

I should probably note that this is not a good movie. It looks kinda bad even for TV standards, though probably not back in 1986. It’s also not very well acted or cast. I mean, Reeves is supposed to be this super white, all American dude, but he doesn’t really look the part. He does to a pretty good job of playing the role earnestly though. Sutherland’s solid too, actually better than the rest of the cast, but he doesn’t have nearly as much screentime. There’s a few fun little bits in there like how they attack their targets and go about their business, but it’s not a must see. I will say that I think Brotherhood of Justice could be ripe for a remake though. Let’s see how Red Dawn does and get to work on that next.

Much like BOJ, I completely stumbled upon Millennium, a film I had never heard of. After seeing it starred Kris Kristofferson and Cheryl Ladd, I was sold. You add in the fact that it’s a movie about time travel and time cops and weird futures and I’m triple sold. Or is the quadruple sold? Forget it, math sucks.

The fairly complicated plot finds Kristofferson investigating a freak plane crash that looks super weird. He winds up hanging out with Ladd who tries to get him to run away with her. We then discover that she’s a time cop from the future who’s investigating…something. I both don’t want to give away details and also missed a few things in the watching, but it turns out that Kristofferson is important and had some involvement in a previous time cop mission.

I was really impressed with how the stories weaved together. Kristofferson and Ladd are on different time lines and in different places in the story when they meet in various scenes and yet everything’s presented in an understandable manner, something that’s not always easy to do in a time travel picture.

I also really liked Kristofferson and Ladd in their roles. They both came off as interesting and complex without bogging things down too much in emotionalism. I also dug Ladd’s boss in the future and her robot assistant or whatever he was supposed to be. I’m not sure what either of their names were, but one of them had a very recognizable voice to me that I couldn’t place.

Anyway, if you’re into time travel movies or like strange futures, Cheryl Ladd or Kris Kristofferson than you can do a lot worse than checking out Millennium.

In the FUTURE: Logan’s Run (1976), The Omega Man (1971) & Soylent Green (1973)

2009-01-02
9:26:41 pm

Man, the 70s must have been kind of a bummer. According to the three post apocalyptic flicks I watched the other day, we’d either be living great lives until we turned 30 and were killed, mostly wiped out by a plague or sleeping on every available staircase and eating processed people. Oh, also, chances were pretty good that Charlton Heston would still be around. He’s just awesome like that. I’m a big fan of these kinds of movies and Heston, so this was a good mini marathon for me. Let’s hop right in shall we?

LOGAN’S RUN (1976)

After a global holocaust, society has been rebuilt in domed cities where life is pretty good except for the fact that, when you turn 30, he get killed. It’s just how society works now. But some people aren’t too keen on the idea of entering the Carousel (a weird, anti gravity chamber that whisks the victims up into what seems to be a giant lazer zapper) so they try to run (and are thus called Runners). It’s up to the Sandmen to find them and either kill them or…well, we only see them kill Runners. Our hero is Logan, a Sandman (played by Michael Basil a.k.a. Basil from the Austin Powers movies), who gets tasked with a top secret mission to find a place called Sanctuary that supposedly hides Runners. Well, as you can imagine, things don’t go quite according to plan.

Logan hooks up with this girl who supposedly has connections to Santuary so the both of them go on this crazy adventure that includes operations to change face (with a sexy Farrah Fawcett), a run down ghetto filled with society’s crazies, a frozen wasteland lorded over by a crazy robot and even the outside world.

I really liked how far the creators went with the story. It wasn’t just about Sandmen vs. Runners or Logan getting to the outside world. He acts like a true hero and wants to tell the people in the domed city the truth about the outside world (to his own near peril). Plus, this is just a fun world to get a glimpse of with their age coordinated to the color of the clothing they wear to the jewels in their hand that change color with age. The whole concept is very cool and even the 70s cheesiness of some of the scenes (the robot for instance or the model of the futuristic dome city) add more than they detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie.

THE OMEGA MAN (1971)

After watching one interpretation of the future, I figured I’d check out another. This is one of many movies based on the book I Am Legend. From what I’ve read (I haven’t read the book) this is a pretty drastic departure from the book as it starts Heston as a scientist who was immune to a plague that hit mankind and either killed everyone or turned them into super-pale zombie weirdo cultists. The cult members want to kill Heston because they believe he represents the old ways and the old ways lead to the end of the world.

As it turns out though (of course), he’s not really the last man on Earth as he comes to find out when he runs into some fellow survivors (including a woman!). Things get really great for a while after Heston develops an antidote for the plague from his own blood, but it doesn’t last. Without spoiling anything, the ending is pretty harsh, much worse than I thought it would be.

The scenes of Heston cruising around an abandoned LA are super cool. I’m always a fan of something like this because it’s really the kind of special effect you’ll never see in real life, a city of that magnitude completely empty (I also love the scenes in 28 Days Later with Jim walking around an empty London). Heston also does a great job of carrying the movie pretty much by himself for the first 20-30 minutes of the movie (not counting the mutants or the bust he talks to). Frankly, I’d watch Heston do just about anything and with the unusual turn of events at the end, this ranks up there are a great flick in my book.

SOYLENT GREEN (1973)

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t paying really really close attention to Soylent Green. I can’t remember what else I was doing though I think it might have been writing a feature for the next issue of ToyFare (available in stores in February!). Anyway, I liked what I saw as Heston (yeah!) investigates a bunch of murders in a crappy feature where people sleep in run down apartments (or the stairs if they’re really poor). There’s also apartment complexes where the rich live with what can only be described as complimentary prostitutes. It’s one of these rich guys that bites it early on, spurring the story on.

There’s a lot of plot, most of which leads up to the completely spoiled ending that Soylent Green (a foodstuff sold to the poor) is actually people. I think it was first ruined for me in an SNL skit starring Phil Hartman. Oh well, no grudges held.

There’s also a subplot with Heston’s older friend and classic actor Edward G. Robinson in what would be his last role. There’s all kinds of subtext as the older man spends time with Heston, the only other person who know that Robinson was dying of cancer. In the end it’s a pretty dark and grimy film and even though we all know what Soylent Green really is, it’s not what the whole movie’s about. There’s a lot of emotion between Heston and Robinson that becomes all the more palpable when you know the real life history behind the shooting.

I also really like the dingy future. It’s definitely not the clean and crisp one of Logan’s Run, seeming moor like Escape from New York than anything else, but without all the weird gangs or kind of like Land of the Dead with the merchants and poor people surrounding the palatial high rise. Whereas the streets in Omega Man are completely empty, the ones in Soylent are packed with the dregs of society. It’s an interesting difference. Oh, also, the first murder victim’s in-house prostitute gets really excited when her john buys her a brand new arcade game (according to the IMDb, it was made by the same guy who would go on to make Pong). It was pretty funny. It’s fun to see what people 30 years ago thought the future would be like and how wrong they were. Fun stuff.