Universal's February '11 Blu-ray Releases
Barb Wire (February 5/11)
From its laughably dated opening to its incoherent finale, Barb Wire comes off as a consistently inept and astonishingly dull actioner that doesn't contain even a single positive attribute - with Pamela Anderson's expectedly atrocious performance ultimately the least of the movie's problems. Set within a wartorn future, Barb Wire casts Anderson as the title character - a tough-as-nails bounty hunter who reluctantly agrees to help a former lover (Temuera Morrison's Axel) smuggle a scientist (Victoria Rowell's Cora D) into Canada. It's a reasonably promising setup that's employed to disastrously unwatchable effect right from the get-go, as filmmaker David Hogan has infused the proceedings with a pervasively unpleasant feel that's reflected in everything from the garish sets to the uniformly unlikable characters to the ugly visuals. There's subsequently little doubt that one's efforts at working up a speck of interest in any of this fall flat on an increasingly regular basis, with the underwhelming atmosphere exacerbated by the total lack of momentum within Chuck Pfarrer and Ilene Chaiken's script (ie the film's narrative is a mishmash of irrelevant, poorly conceived action scenes). The end result is a hopelessly incompetent and thoroughly worthless piece of work that doesn't even begin to approach so-bad-it's-good territory, and it's rather remarkable that Universal Pictures has gone to the trouble of releasing this monstrosity on Blu-ray.
no stars out of
Flipper (February 6/11)
A remake of the eponymous 1963 film, Flipper follows sullen teenager Sandy Ricks (Elijah Wood) as he arrives in Florida to spend the summer with his offbeat uncle (Paul Hogan's Porter) - with the film subsequently detailing Sandy's growing friendship with a scrappy dolphin called Flipper. Though it's been infused with an easy-going, pleasantly scenic sensibility, Flipper nevertheless comes off as an all-too-sedate piece of work that never quite justifies its feature-length running time. The most obvious problem here is the uneventful and repetitive midsection, as writer/director Alan Shapiro places an ongoing emphasis on Sandy's plotless escapades (ie the character frolics with Flipper, performs a series of odd jobs, flirts with an attractive local, etc, etc). There's consequently never a point at which the viewer is wholeheartedly drawn into either the thin storyline or the exploits of the characters, with the ongoing inclusion of several less-than-subtle elements - ie an eye-rollingly over-the-top, moustache-twirling villain (Jonathan Banks' Dirk Moran) who wants to kill Flipper and pollute the ocean - cementing the movie's place as an inoffensive yet utterly forgettable endeavor.