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1996 - PG-13 - 94 Mins.
Director: Norberto Barba
Starring: Mario Van Peebles, William Sadler, Adrien Brody, Abraham J. Verduzco, Barry Corbin
Review by: John Ulmer
There are good action stars and there are bad action stars. Arnold Schwarzenegger will always be the best action star in my book. Of course, there really were no "action" stars before the 1970s -- unless you count adventure heroes, which is something entirely different in its own right.

No, action stars are modern inventions of modern Hollywood and their very modernized films. Arnold's got everything an action star needs: charisma, talent, gigantic muscles. Mario Van Peebles has...umm...none of the before mentioned.

That's not to say he can't...uh...oh, whom am I kidding? The guy sucks. He's annoying, untalented, and his muscles are puny flabs of flesh molded sloppily and with gallons of steroids. Arnold fought his way to the top -- though recent revelations prove he occasionally used small amounts of steroids prior to weight training -- whereas Van Peebles is just following his craft. I don't mean to make Arnold out to be some untouchable superstar, but come on: he was a skinny Austrian kid who not only made his way to America, not only crafted the biggest chest ever measured, not only made the transfer from weights to movies, but even became the Governator of CA. That's a pretty amazing resume, folks. And despite recent sexual harassment allegations (some of which I believe are phony and some of which are being exaggerated), Arnold's always been real nice to his fans, on and off the screen. You can just tell that he's a genuinely nice guy. And unlike a lot of Hollywood snobs, he gives back to the community through all types of fundraising for such things as after school programs, inner-city bodybuilding, and so on and so forth. He's been active in the community as a Republican since the first President Bush was in administration. Am I getting carried away with my Arnold praise? What's the point, you ask? The point is that Mario Van Peebles is a twerp.

Van Peebles is painful to watch. And not to sound too racist or anything, but I think the only reason he ever got a role in any film is because he's an African-American action star, and there aren't a whole lot in Hollywood at this time. But then again, there are only really three good mainstream action stars: Arnie, Bruce, and Sly. I prefer the first two any day but Sly's a lot better than Mr. Van Peebles. (Oh, and for the Van Peebles lover(s) out there, need I remind you that the guy is a bonafide pretentious jerk in real life?)

In "Solo" he milks "Frankenstein," "The Terminator," "RoboCop" and "Soldier" for all they're worth. (And the last film wasn't even all that good.) He plays a cyborg soldier -- the aptly named Solo -- who is created by the US Military in hopes of conceiving the first-ever non-human battle machine unable to feel emotions: no pain, no mercy, no sense of a bad script.

But when Solo starts showing signs of humanity the military dumps him by "accident" -- he "unfortunately" gets left behind on a mission in South America, and is then left to fend for himself amidst the chaos of a band of guerilla soldiers and so on and so forth. Oh, and he meets a little Mexican kid who teaches him the meaning of life. Come on!

This film rips off every action movie you can think of. The location of "Predator" (and a very ripped off Predator Point of View that Solo uses to see his surroundings), the lone premise of "The Terminator," the preachings of "Terminator 2" (which actually felt real as opposed to this on-the-side sentimental goo-rubbish), the humanity of The Monster from "Frankenstein" and the metallic Murphy from "RoboCop," and so on and so forth. And you know what? It's just plain awful.

It's awkward, cheap, ridiculous, silly, and most of all very, very stupid. It's been done before, it'll be done again, but for the record, the next time it's done, I hope it's done better than this. A lot better.
Movie Guru Rating
Unwatchable.  One of the worst of the year.  Skip it.
  0.5 out of 5 stars

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