The Films of George P. Cosmatos
Massacre in Rome
The Cassandra Crossing
Escape to Athena
Of Unknown Origin (July 2/12)
Of Unknown Origin follows Peter Weller's Bart Hughes as he's forced to put his life on hold after his recently-renovated townhouse is attacked by a tenacious rat, with Bart's subsequent (and failed) efforts at exterminating the rodent paving the way for a human-vs-rodent third act that's more ridiculous than frightening. Before it reaches that tedious stretch, however, Of Unknown Origin establishes itself as a fairly promising creature feature that benefits substantially from star Weller's compelling turn and director George P. Cosmatos' deliberate sensibilities - with, in terms of the latter, Cosmatos' decision to initially keep the rat in the shadows proving instrumental in cultivating an atmosphere of mysterious dread. It's only as the movie rolls into its increasingly repetitive and padded-out midsection that one's interest begins to wane, as Cosmatos attempts to compensate for the less-than-eventful storyline by emphasizing a whole host of frustratingly needless elements (eg Bart's ongoing difficulties at work, Bart's flirtation with a coworker, etc) - which does, as a result, ensure that the inevitable game of cat and mouse between Bart and the seemingly unstoppable rodent is simply unable to pack the visceral punch that Cosmatos and scripter Brian Taggert have intended. (This is despite the irresistible nature of Weller's progressively unhinged performance and the inclusion of a few strong stand-alone sequences.) It's ultimately clear that Of Unknown Origin might've worked as a half hour short yet is simply unable to sustain an 88 minute running time, with the spinning-its-wheels vibe diminishing the effectiveness of its positive attributes (eg a fantastic scene in which Bart horrifies his dining companions with grotesque rat statistics) and cementing its place as a forgettable relic of the 1980s.
Rambo: First Blood Part II
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Cobra (August 9/11)
Though it often borders on parody, Cobra ultimately establishes itself as an exciting, blisteringly-paced actioner that benefits substantially from Sylvester Stallone's engrossing work as the title character. Stallone stars as Marion "Cobra" Cobretti, a loose-cannon cop who is tasked with protecting the one person (Brigitte Nielsen's Ingrid) that can identify a notorious serial killer named the Night Slasher (Brian Thompson) - with the unapologetically thin storyline used primarily as a jumping-off point for a series of entertainingly over-the-top action sequences. Director George P. Cosmatos does a superb job of instantly luring the viewer into the (admittedly dated) proceedings, as the filmmaker, working from Stallone's screenplay, opens the movie with an electrifying sequence in which Cobretti swiftly (and violently) deals with a supermarket-based hostage situation - with the scene immediately establishing Stallone's character as a remarkably laid-back badass (eg after the psycho warns that he'll blow the store up, Cobretti casually remarks, "Go ahead, I don't shop here.") It is, as such, not surprising to note that Stallone's charming, consistently engaging performance plays an integral role in cementing Cobra's success, with Stallone's idiosyncratic choices (eg Cobretti's bizarre method for eating a slice of pizza) effectively setting the central character apart from his myriad of tough-guy movie brethren. And although the movie does suffer from a slight lull in the buildup to the final showdown (eg Cobretti's romance of Nielsen's character is as pointless and perfunctory as one might've feared), Cobra bounces back for an absolutely enthralling climax revolving around Cobretti's single-handed battle against dozens of armed thugs - which ultimately confirms the movie's place as a woefully underrated entry in the '80s action-movie canon.
Directed by George P. Cosmatos, Leviathan details the chaos that ensues aboard a deep-sea mining station following the discovery of a Soviet wreck - with the film revolving around the crew's ongoing (and increasingly desperate) efforts to survive. It's almost impossible to discuss Leviathan without making a reference (or three) to James Cameron's far, far superior Aliens, as the movie, written by David Webb Peoples and Jeb Stuart, boasts a storyline and atmosphere that often seems to be going out of its way to harken back to Cameron's first Alien sequel - with the familiar vibe, at the outset, not as problematic as one might've feared. There's little doubt that the film benefits substantially from Ron Cobb's consistently impressive production design and the better-than-expected performances, with, in terms of the latter, the movie's eclectic cast boasting strong work from folks like Peter Weller, Richard Crenna, and Daniel Stern. The watchable feel persists up until Leviathan rolls into its egregiously padded-out midsection, as Cosmatos ultimately spends far too much time dwelling on the various characters' day-to-day exploits aboard the mining station - to the extent that it becomes impossible not to wish that the aforementioned threat would hurry up and make its appearance, already. By the time all hell does break loose, however, the viewer has long-since lost the ability to work up any real interest in the fates of the various characters. And although Cosmatos has infused several of the kill sequences with an appreciatively gory sensibility, Leviathan, in the end, comes off as a stale rehash of far too many prior like-minded, thematically-similar science fiction thrillers.