Wolf Warrior (2015) ***½

First things first: I am an American. Indeed, as my wife is keen to note: I am frequently intolerably American. I note this because today I’m taking a break from my usual rounds of old sci-fi and horror films to review a Chinese action/propaganda movie. My Americanism does not bias me against foreign propaganda films; […]

Rocketship X-M (1950) ***

Marketing a modern blockbuster eats up such a tremendous amount of money, that it’s usually safe to assume for every dollar spent on production, the studio spent a dollar on the marketing campaign. That’s why you get quickly made cheapies like Atlantic Rim (2013) and The Day the Earth Stopped (2008) that are rushed out […]

Meet the Applegates (1991) ***

American sitcoms in the 1950s were aspirational. Leave it to Beaver, The Adventures of Ozzy and Harriet, and Father Knows Best were all about idealized families, leaving in idealized homes in idealized suburbs. Naturally they suffered conflicts every week, but they were all the kind of trifling issues that could be corrected in 30 minutes, […]

Red Planet Mars (1952) ****

Historically, the various Abrahamic religions have not gotten along very well. Indeed, factional rifts and doctrinal controversies have plagued monotheism in The West (and Middle East) since the age of Constantine. The petty (well, if you don’t think the souls of all mankind hang in the balance at least) squabbling of the Arian Controversy set […]

Terror From the Year 5000 (1958) *½

Due to the constant bombardment of cosmic rays, all organic matter on earth contains some traces of Carbon-14. Carbon-14 is an unstable isotope though, so eventually it decays into Carbon-13 and then into the standard Crabon-12. So, if the organism you’re examining is old enough you won’t find any Carbon-14 in it at all. This […]

The Lost Missile (1958) *

There were three ways that filmmakers could capitalize on the Sputnik crisis: they could appeal to the issue through marketing without actually saying anything about it, as was the case with The War of the Satellites (1958) or Satan’s Satellite (1958); they could use the whole issue to scare the bejesus out of their viewers […]

Rocket Attack USA (1958) *½

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) have become such an icon of the Cold War that it’s easy to forget that for the first decade of the conflict the United States had little interest in developing or building them. There was simply no need, the American bomber fleet was the best in the world, and the American […]