#1107 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

The first Star Trek movie to be directed by William Shatner, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier has the unfortunate honour of being the least exciting one in the series.

Most of the elements that made the previous three movies interesting are gone. There aren’t any memorable antagonists here, no pushing visual boundaries and no humour that made the previous instalments stand out. Perhaps most disappointingly, the human (or: Vulcan) interest aspect that probed deep into the weird and interesting chemistry between the lead characters is nowhere to be found this time around.

While the movie is no stinker, it lacks the grandeur expected from a movie launched to be the 1989 summer blockbuster, feeling much more like a prolonged episode of the original series, shot with modern cameras and slightly superior effects.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 60%

#1099 Heathers (1989)

Remember being 15 and hating someone someone so bad you’d wished they were dead? I didn’t, but Heathers totally reminded me going through the same kind of emotional rollercoaster – and that was the first glimpse of its above your average teenage flick virtues.

Three popular Heathers run a high school clique who cruel rule the entire school belittling, subduing and terrorising anyone foolish enough to cross path with them. After just 15 minutes to the film it’s really clear they’re not out to bruise, but to scar. Veronica is one of the students who’s saved from the harassment by being a quiet compliance who never quite stomachs all the wickedness and wishes for the demise of all the three. What seems like a materialisation of her secret wishes, appears mysterious J.D. who quickly makes all of Veronicas subconscious wishes come true.

A black comedy about bullying, revenge, mass murder and teenage suicides, Heathers’ cruel satire still finds its target so well that a movie like this wouldn’t likely be made by any of the major studios today.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 91%

#1095 Disorganized Crime (1989)

Four criminals come together to prepare for the bank robbery of their lifetime, only to find out that Frank – the mastermind behind the heist – is nowhere to be found.

Disorganized Crime is one of those unknown 80s comedies that would’ve deserved more recognition and popularity upon its release. It’s no masterpiece by any way, but one of those comedies where most parts just seem to click and come together in a very satisfying way. Ed O’Neill of the Married With Kids fame provides a solid backbone for the comedy, but it’s Rubén Blades – who was formerly unknown to me – that provides by far the best laughs of the show.

As mentioned, it all comes together in a very satisfying way for everyone in the end: the gang, the two detectives, the viewer – and possibly even Frank.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 84%

#1092 Dream a Little Dream (1989)

If you do a body switching movie – like so many film makers deemed necessary towards the end of the 80s – you’re going to have to deal with having to sell that outrageous idea to the viewers. Unlike its wacky comedy compadres, Dream a Little Dream has a setback of being a drama, and has to keep a relatively straight face while trying to convince the viewer to go along with the nonsense. And for the most part, it fails.

Dream a Little Dream is the last movie of the 80s for the two teen superstar Coreys – Feldman and Haim – and it also marks end of an era as both soon vanished from top grossing feature films. While it’s no bull’s eye, it’s not at all a bad swansong for either one, although it’s Feldman who gets to lead here. The high school / coming to age drama is typically to the era quite overdramatic, but not everything about it is that far fetched. I’ve seen characters like Joel – played with just the right kind of temper and fire by William McNamara – who are psychotic enough to just snap and pick up a gun.

I wish the creative team behind the movie had introduced both parties of the body switching as just real life characters that happen to meet and find mutual grounds despite the obvious generation gap. Surely it would’ve allowed the same story about growth without all the mumbo jumbo and the excessive explaining and justifying that always follows.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 62%

#1083 Loverboy (1989)

If my memory serves me correctly, I watched Loverboy just a bit before I started this project and so it probably served as some kind of catalyst back then.

Watching the movie now I was actually pretty impressed how well it all comes together. It addresses the obvious genre pitfalls nicely, does a good job of not antagonising the main character without really letting him away with it too easily, ties much of the mishaps together really nicely and is just genuinely funny at times.

While I can’t say I’m big fan of 80s all too wimpy, prior to getting hit with a handsome stick Patrick Dempsey, Loverboy does mark for his strongest comedic role I’ve witnessed so far.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 86%

#1075 Kill Me Again (1989)

Kill Me Again begins kind of lame as for some reason deems necessary to rerun all the banalities of the neo-noir genre. It’s only after the movie finally starts steering away from the obvious clichés that it finds its own tone of voice, ending a much better than anticipated thriller.

Although the then-couple Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley make for a dynamic beat up private detective treacherous femme fatale duo, it’s Michael Madsen that ends up stealing the show as the menacing, force of a nature antagonist.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 81%

#1070 A Dry White Season (1989)

The slogan on the poster of A Dry White Season encapsulates perfectly the essence of the movie: No one can be free until all are free.

Taking place in South Africa during the apartheid, the movie depicts Ben du Toit and his white family who’ve gotten so used to their privileged life that they ignore the calls for help by their loyal gardener Gordon whose son goes missing during the peaceful riots and who in turn dies after being detained by the police. As du Toit soon realises, his comfortable life is built upon the repression and exploitation of others. Despite all the death and graphic violence depicted, the most upsetting aspect of the movie is how Ben soon becomes a persona non grata amongst his closest people who quietly give their quiet blessing to the violations to be able to continue their privileged lives.

A Dry White Season is one of the strongest, most upsetting movie of the era that leaves the viewer with no comfort – other than that apartheid as the institutionalised system is a ghost of the past.

The movie is a triumph also for the veteran actors Marlon Brando as the lawyer disillusioned by the system and Donald Sutherland as the seasoned teacher who realises the hard way that in a system where human rights can be taken from one of us, they can be just as easily stripped from anyone.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 93%

#1068 The Beast of War aka The Beast (1989)

I was initially put off by the appearance of The Beast of War; cinematography wise the movie looked dull with most of the events taking place in a tank that wonders across a canyon in desert. But as the story evolved, I soon found the movie to be one of the more interesting and multi-layered war movies of the era.

Looking back now, it’s interesting how the movie antagonises the Russian invaders and represents the Afghan rebels as heroes who bravely stand up against the superpower that tries to take over the land as all know how this narrative was soon changed after the events that started in 2001. Secondly, the tank crew is depicted without thick comical Russian accent, which is still unheard of in Hollywood movies. Instead, they talk with American accents which can be only read as a statement that the two superpowers and their foreign policies aren’t really that different and both are known to start unjust wars to drive their own international politics. As the crew finds themselves on the run with an enemy that’s much better accustomed to the area, it’s not hard to see the correspondence to the Vietnam war.

Thirdly, although the pressure that the tank crew has to endure with is external, it’s the well portrayed internal pressure that really makes the movie: The commander’s power tripping, panic, paranoid and betrayal that the crew goes through are all interestingly documented here.

While I’m not going to change my opinion about judging books by the cover since it’s been a pretty good measurement with 80s movies, The Beast of War is a good reminder that sometimes it’s good to give a movie a fair chance despite its modest covers.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 91%

#1067 Race for Glory (1989)

A Top Gun equivalent of a motorcycle movie, Race for Glory features tons of speed, kick-ass soundtrack .. and your average, very predictable sports movie plot.

The movie is one of the very few Hollywood titles filmed in old continent that still looks fresh and American – in a good way! In fact, the luxurious international locations work really well and capture well all the excitement that surrounds the big motor sports events.

If you’re to watch Race for Glory, you should do it for mostly for the atmosphere for the plot follows a very predictable path without much surprises along the way.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 70%

#1065 Best of the Best (1989)

USA national karate team goes against team Korea in Best of the Best, a totally ridiculous, unrealistic, sports movie about an unlikely karate team.

Sports movies can be a bore as they stick to the plot of an underdog making it through difficulties to the final victory and then try to masquerade this one way or another. Best of the Best on the other hand does not shy away from clichés, it fully embraces them: There’s the unlikely team, an old shoulder injury that you know will come back haunting later, over the top acting, and a final showdown with an opponent guilty of killing your brother! The only thing missing from the arsenal of clichés is if the last match would’ve ended up with some unorthodox special move.

Eric Roberts seems a weird pick for the lead role at first, but he actually makes for one menacing looking fighter in his ponytail – and gives an excellent performance that’s just the right amount over the top.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 88%

#1064 Homer and Eddie (1989)

Homer and Eddie is a road movie about two outcasts ending up unlikely travel companions on their way to Oregon.

While the movie starts as a lighthearted, vapid comedy, it starts to get more interesting tones when Eddie starts to have her violent rages: When the bystanders start dying the viewer is forced to really reassess how they view Eddie.

Jim Belushi is likeable as Homer but in reality the role is beyond his limits and he comes across as an actor doing a poor impression of a disabled person. Oscar winning material this ain’t. Whoopi’s portrayal of Eddie has similar problems with the credibility as Goldberg can never shake off the strong impression of a Hollywood actress playing a Hollywood version of a hobo.

Poor execution and lack of chemistry between the leads leaves Homer and Eddie feel like a worse movie than it probably is. Maybe it’s time for someone to pick this up for a reshoot?

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 59%

#1061 Young Rebels (1989)

Young Rebels follows the action that follows when one man goes on a rampage against a violent drug cartel.

There’s nothing much to cheer about here. Young Rebels is a cheap, amateurish mess that seems to settle for copying badly things seen on other action films rather than aiming to create something of its own. In fact, the shoddy camera work makes it look like someone from behind the iron curtain had a thing for American action movies and decided to make his own fan fiction. Although the movie is shot with some proper gear, I couldn’t spot one single scene with the white balance set correctly; the film goes from green to yellow to blue hues, over and underexposed even during the same fight scene.

As it goes with B-movies, a lot of padding is added in cutting room to make the footage run the full 90 minutes. Young Rebels features multiple nude and strip soft porn scenes that can run for minutes without contributing anything to the plot.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 17%

#1058 Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989)

Word of warning: What follows is a biased review as Who’s Harry Crumb happens to be a comedy I’ve seen a countless times as a kid and had a huge crush on the young Shawnee Smith.

John Candy is Harry Crumb, an eccentric private detective hired to investigate a kidnapping case, and lots of physical comedy and disguises ensue. Think Fletch’s idiotic but more sympathetic brother and you got a hang of Crumb.

Watching the movie now some 25 years later the movie still works fairly well thanks to the great comedic work of Candy and Jeffrey Jones, and aided by Tim Thomerson and Barry Corbin in the side roles. I couldn’t help but to notice how raunchy it was which was surprise as the movie seems otherwise aimed for the 12-year old audience. On the other hand I can’t remember being bothered by this as a kid at all.

While I’m being totally generous with the rating, it’s believe it’s much deserved every time your old favourite does not let you completely down.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 85%

#1049 Far from Home (1989)

Father and daughter run out of gas and get stranded on a lone town in the middle of the desert in Far From Home, an interesting little thriller that saw a limited theatrical release upon its release.

What makes the movie interesting is not its setting nor the plot, but the good kind of movie-like quality of the small town and its trailer park that gets borderline abstract at times.

For a thriller the movie fails to deliver any kind of suspense and even when the killings take place, they seem more humorous than something that would have you on the edge of the seat. Matt Frewer and Drew Barrymore make for a solid and believable pair as the father and daughter, but the two young trailer park brothers both seem badly directed or complete miscasts for their roles.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%

#1045 Cyborg (1989)

Written in one weekend and shot with shoelace budget just to find some use for movie sets and costumes left over from cancelled movies, Cyborg is a prime example of how movies shouldn’t be made.

The movie is pretty much a mess, edited painstakingly to make it to the feature film length. The pacing is way off and the cyborg theme is not followed through at all. The few fight scenes with Jean-Claude Van Damme handing out roundhouse kicks are somewhat entertaining but go only so far to save the movie.

The lack of vision and enthusiasm shines through every crevice of the movie and Cyborg ends up a lifeless shell of a movie done solely with quick cash business goals in mind.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 8%

#1036 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

The last movie of the Indy trilogy (refusing to acknowledge that 2008 movie as part of the franchise), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade brings back everything we loved in Raiders of the Lost Ark while amping up both the adventure and lighthearted humour, making it the most well rounded Indiana Jones movie.

I was lucky enough to see The Last Crusade on an actual silver screen as the trilogy was shown from the original film reels in one of the screenings the Finnish national audiovisual institute arranged. Once again, I found myself enchanted from the very first seconds to the movie and the movie kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through it.

Sean Connery makes an appearance as the Indy’s somewhat eccentric father who creates many joyful moments as the know-it-all dad who keeps on talking down to his son like he was still twelve. It’s a delightful comic relief that almost seems to write material by itself thanks to the onscreen tension between the two high caliber actors.

The Last Crusade is a triumph of an adventure, taking everything that worked in the first movie and adding some very brilliant elements of its own.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 100%

#1018 Steel Magnolias (1989)

For a movie in where next to nothing happens, Steel Magnolias is a surprisingly entertaining ordeal, thanks to its interesting array of smartly written characters portrayed by the top talent of the era.

I really did not feel for the tearjerker story nor the syrupy depictions of the close knit, loving white community only seen in highly fictitious movies. But for a wholehearted sappy melodrama clearly targeted for the female audience, Steel Magnolias isn’t really half that bad.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 71%

#1006 She’s Out of Control (1989)

A middle-aged family man panics as her daughter starts dating young men in She’s Out of Control, a comedy with very little laughs to spare.

Playing with the safest hand possible, everything from the ugly duckling to the queen storyline to the scenes of the overprotective father controlling the life of his firstborn that the movie has to offer have that definite lowest common denominator vibe written all over them, and the plot does little to nothing to shake off that predictability.

She’s Out of Control is downright dull, witty as a sitcom take on an interesting subject many of us family men could’ve really find relatable.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 47%

#998 Harlem Nights (1989)

48 Hrs, Beverly Hills Cop, The Golden Child and Coming to America; for Eddie Murphy the 80s was a series of commercial and critical triumphs after another, and it was only his debut as the director and the writer of Harlem Nights that ended up that honeymoon with the critics.

But not with the broad audience, as Harlem Nights – Murphy’s last movie of the decade – was a box office success, even if not nearly as massive as his previous titles.

The movie itself is a pretty sloppy, Hollywood take on the 1930s gangster theme so clichéd it was obviously inspired by watching other movies rather than digging into the history books. If you get past the pastiche aspect as well as the somewhat uninspired periodical setting established only to justify the caricature-like characters, Harlem Nights becomes a somewhat tolerable scoundrel comedy, and even lands a rewarding feel good ending that succeeded to made the minutes put into watching the movie feel worth the while in the end.

80s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 63%

#984 Lean on Me (1989)

Lean on Me is a movie about making a difference in a one of those inner city high school plagued with low test scores, gangs and drugs, but with an aspect that manages to make it actually interesting: It’s based on actual, controversial methods used by the principal Joe Louis Clark in order to restore the order to the rogue school.

And those methods are harsh; students are thrown out of the school and the teachers suspended as Clark leaves no stone unturned to make sure the majority of the students will pass the minimum basic skills test by the end of the semester. This setup leaves a lot of food for thought for the viewer who may not appreciate the methods, but can’t help but admire the results.

Lean on Me is not devoid of uninspired moments of holding hands and singing together typical to the sub-genre, but luckily does not wander off to the that cringeworthy valley where the street wise students would go on to teach the principle to rap or breakdance. True to the real life events, the Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of the principle remains a high authority, but also a father figure that many of the kids have very much lacked.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 83%