The Narrow Margin (1952, Directed by Richard Fleischer) English 8

Starring Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, Jacqueline White, Queenie Leonard, Paul Maxey

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Hard-boiled Detective Seargeant Walter Brown (McGraw) has to escort a mobster’s widow (Windsor) from Chicago to Los Angeles by train where she’s set to speak before a grand jury. Powerful underworld figures are willing to do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen. Brown, whose partner was already murdered protecting the big-mouthed dame, has his work cut out for him, standing alone against a team of crooks and murderers. They even try bribing him. Meanwhile he meets a married woman, Ann (White), on the train, and quickly grows attached to her. Fast, tightly plotted tale with strong performances and a surprising finale. Very suspenseful. Prime B-movie.

Innerspace (1987, Directed by Joe Dante) English 6

Starring Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, Meg Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Robert Picardo

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A hotshot marine officer, Lt. Tuck Pendleton (Quaid) is miniaturized for a government science experiment where he’s to be placed inside the body of a test rabbit, but, due to an attempt from rogue agents looking to steal the work, gets placed  inside the body of a hypochondriac named Jack (Short) instead. Jack and Tuck team up to return the latter to his normal size, as well as keep him out of the hands of mercenaries. Along the way, Jack becomes smitten with Tuck’s girlfriend, a reporter named Lydia (Ryan). Goofy, fast-paced with some excellently performed gags and stunts, Innerspace is more about the individual scenes than the picture itself. Promoted as a “what if” type picture wherein a Dean Martin type gets put inside the body and the head of a Jerry Lewis. They might have done well to push that idea further, but as it stands, Innerspace is a fine adventure.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018, Directed by Peyton Reed) English 6

Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Walton Goggins, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Randall Park, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña, Judy Greer, T.I, Bobby Cannavale, Hannah John-Kamen

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Scott Lang (Rudd) seems to have burnt his bridges with Hank Pym (Douglas) and Hope (Lilly) after going rogue with Captain America back in Civil War (2016). On top of that, he was sentenced to two years house arrest. As he closes in on his release date, Hank and Hope see a chance to rescue, Janet (Pfeiffer), the former’s wife and the latter’s mother, from the quantum realm she was lost to decades ago. Unfortunately for everyone, Scott appears to be the key, forcing a reunion and putting Scott in danger with his parole officer. Meanwhile, an enigmatic figure known as Ghost materializes at every turn. Fun film and a 180 from the heavy, substantial Avengers: Infinity War. Ant-Man and the Wasp is slightly better than the first one. Often funny, with some cool ideas involving shrinking and growing. It does, however, feel like a modest entry in a series of films that all run through the same machine in my opinion. The end result is always nice, but never extraordinary. Add to that, Ant-man, or, more specifically, Scott Lang, is a second-tier hero, largely dependent on Hank Pym.

Shanghai Knights (2003, Directed by David Dobkin) English 8

Starring Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Fann Wong, Donnie Yen, Aidan Gillen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Gemma Jones, Tom Fisher

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Sequel to the goofy fun western/Kung Fu mash-up, Shanghai Noon, set just past the turn of the 20th century, Jackie Chan returns as Chon Wang. Upon hearing of his father’s murder, Chon must follow the killer to London, but, unfortunately, he needs the help of his old friend, the untrustworthy Roy O. Bannon (Wilson). Now in London, the two pursue the culprits that killed Chon’s father, and find there’s a larger scheme at hand, involving the Queen and crown. Silly, anachronistic, action-packed film with Chan’s best American stunt work and Owen Wilson at his funniest.

The Mummy Returns (2001, Directed by Stephen Sommers) English 7

Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Patricia Velásquez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

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Rick and Evelyn (Fraser and Weisz) return, now married with a son, as does her brother, Jonathan (Hannah), and the mummy. The plot hurdles along, involving the villainous mummy’s attempt to bring back The Scorpion King in order to slay him, and gain control of his army. Typical sequel in which the filmmakers pile on more action and more special effects. Of course, less is often more, as is the case here, still, a very entertaining action adventure, striking the right tone for the picture. The special effects are badly dated, but somehow still thrilling at times.

The Mummy (1999, Directed by Stephen Sommers) English 9

Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Patricia Valesquez

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Technically a reboot of the classic ’30s Boris Karloff-monster movie, this film honestly has more to do with Indiana Jones than that picture. Siblings, Jonathan (Hannah) and Evelyn (Weisz), find an intricate map to an lost treasure buried away somewhere in Egypt, but need the help of a brash American, Rick (Fraser), to get there. Along the way, they meet a competing group of fortune seekers, and are met with resistance by a mysterious desert tribe. Once the treasure is found, it comes at a heavy price, unleashing an ancient evil in the form of a mummy onto the world. Scary, well-paced, action-packed, brimming with strong characters, and a nice corny romance. Basically, just a lot of fun. For all the flack Brendan Fraser gets, he does this role very well. Consider how boring Tom Cruise’s The Mummy was, for all of its seriousness.

The Departed (2006, Directed by Martin Scorsese) English 6

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Vera Farmiga, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone

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Oscar winning remake of the Chinese Infernal Affairs trilogy, The Departed stars DiCaprio as Billy, a cop gone undercover in local big-shot, mob boss, Frank Costello’s (Nicholson), organization, but Frank has a mole of his own planted in the police department in the form of Colin (Damon). Neither side can seem to get the drop on the other, as a game of cat and mouse begins. Infinitely entertaining premise provides the thrills and suspense, but also an over the top style and hyper-active camera work. Nicholson’s large performance with his profane and crude character is fun to watch, but kept me at a distance in terms of taking the film seriously. I also didn’t like many of the aesthetic choices, including the jarring editing, dutch angles, and screwball delivery. It highlights the film’s lack of depth.