There are many options for streaming movies online. Just between my Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts, I’m awed with the choices that are a mere play button away from my enjoyment. There are a lot of great movies out there, but there are a lot of horrendously “bad” ones, too! In the sea of cinematic content, the cheesy, campy, poorly written, acted and filmed really does outweigh the good.
In my quest to find something worth watching, I’ve found myself skipping over endless titles, not even considering movies based on the cover art, star rating and a simple logline. But these bizarre-looking movies should be given a chance! I know that I must be missing out on some hidden gems by negligently not considering any of the obscure films from the last four decades. Therefore, I have decided to start giving these films a shot, but with a greater purpose than just my entertainment value (or lack of), I would review the movie in order to provide honest commentary. Essentially, this is to help ensure that you’re making the right decision in glossing over these films on your quest for quality entertainment.
The following review was selected completely at chance, on a streaming content platform. A genre was selected, movie titles appeared, a page number was picked, eyes where shut and a mouse was moved and clicked to play the randomly selected film.
RANDOM REVIEW #1: “The Blue Lightning”
Plucked from the Action genre on Amazon Prime, this mid-80’s thrill-ride is actually an Australian TV movie that falls short in every way imaginable. The violence, the thrilling chase scenes, the obligatory sexual tension that eventually boils over, all feels beyond lukewarm. The substance of this film is as robust as its Wikipedia page: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blue_Lightning)
The film stars Sam Elliott, or better known to me as the “Stranger / Narrator” in The Big Lebowski. He portrays an “American hired gun” with the intimidating name, Harry Wingate. He is hired by some ultra-rich British guy to retrieve an opal (named “The Blue Lightning”) that he bought from some evil Australian guy who kept upping the price and not delivering the goods. It’s a premise as paper-thin as the cocktail napkin that it was surely conceived on.
The film begins with a scene to show us how evil the villain truly is, as he has some arbitrary victim tied to Australia’s version of the Joshua tree, and then he proceeds to shoot him. After that, the story is put in motion as Harry Wingate negotiates his fee with the wealthy British guy to retrieve his coveted gemstone. JUMP CUT, and just like that we’re in “the land down under” with Harry arriving and purchasing a gun right across the water from the Sydney Opera House. Without any setup or context, we’re shown that the evil Australian villain is well aware that Harry Wingate is now in his neck of the woods. And how is that message sent? A snake is found in Harry’s hotel room mini bar. He proceeds to shoot it, and then throws the snake into the hotel hallway. This, much like the rest of the violence in the entire film, is completely illogical.
With little to no context, an American woman is brought into the picture to serve as Harry’s assistant, aka love interest. What’s an 80’s action/thriller without a babe for the hero to eventually bang?
Without being completely on the same page, and with some mutual distrust, these two hit the road. And out of nowhere a car chase ensues as the evil Australian villain sends his henchmen after Harry and his traveling companion. With some defensive driving tactics Harry runs his newfound foes off the road. A little later on, right before our protagonists leave on a little daytime reconnaissance, Harry senses that something is off and finds a bomb attached to the vehicle. It blows up the car, BOOM! This sequence, just like all the others has a complete lack of build up or suspense. After the explosion, Harry and the woman are chased through the woods by the Aussie henchmen. There’s a poorly paced shootout where no one comes close to shooting each other. The suspenseless action continues in the air as an airplane chase ensues. The Aussie henchmen eventually shootdown Harry’s plane, but it makes a safe landing on the road. Harry and the woman flee, and again, needlessly a truck (which could’ve easily stopped) plows into the plane.
The friendly truck driver, who unlike American truck drivers isn’t high on crank and Dunkin Donuts, takes Harry and his sidekick to the aptly named town of “Opal Ridge.” It’s basecamp for the evil villain who’s holding onto “The Blue Lightning,” which doesn’t have a hint of blue in it. In Opal Ridge, everyone seemingly works for this evil villain, because everyone that Harry encounters tries to kill him. Taking a hostage, Harry is led to the Villain’s underground lare for their first face-to-face. Their confrontation is completely devoid of any tension, and it evolves only into another shootout. The villain runs away, taking the opal with him. And I need to note this: here’s why there’s nothing intimating about this villain. He wears tan-colored leggings and riding boots. It’s no wonder that Harry isn’t afraid of him — it’s impossible to be scared of a super-villain who dresses like a 16-year-old girl from Connecticut.
As the shootout spills outside, one of the henchmen gets in a lucky shot and hits Harry in the chest. The next 15 to 20 minutes slow down the pacing dramatically as Harry is brought to an Indian reserve to receive some old fashioned Native Australian healing. There was a blood transfusion and a “get well soon” dance was performed. There’s a non-passionate kissing scene and a non-romantic hugging scene between Harry and the woman.
While healing up at the Native Australian ranch, Harry recruits members of the tribe and this army sets out to take down the evil villain. Guess what? They do. The only remarkable aspect of the final battle is when a grenade is thrown at Harry and he catches it, and then throws it back. In an ultimately anti-climactic ending, the villain is shot dead while clutching the opal. Harry snatches it from his hand and then kisses the girl. Roll the credits.
There was hardly anything redeeming about this movie. I feel more of my time was wasted writing about it then it was watching it. But, now I can say that I’ve seen “The Blue Lightning,” and now you can say that you’re making an informed choice when not watching it.
“The Blue Lightning” didn’t capture magic in a bottle; it filled the bottle with 80’s action archetypes then threw the bottle at the wall to see what stuck.
7/10 on the Awfulness Scale
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