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Random thoughts about sound and vision.

Coming Attractions: CLIFFHANGER (1993)

After the highs of the '70s and '80s, Sylvester Stallone came down to earth with a bump in the '90s. A glance through the films he made in that decade - STOP OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT, JUDGE DREDD, THE SPECIALIST - is evidence that more often than not, Sly was just after the paycheque.Not in all cases. There's some exceptions - DEMOLITION MAN is an enjoyable "fish out of water" SF movie, whilst Stallone gives arguably his best performance to date in the underrated COP LAND.

Then there's CLIFFHANGER, where Sly battles a team of ruthless thieves high up in the Rocky Mountains. Director Renny Harlin, hot off DIE HARD 2, creates some exciting action setpieces, which neatly draw your attention away from the two-dimensional characters and hackneyed dialogue. I watched it again on Blu-ray recently and - barring a few dated matte shots - it holds up surprisingly well. Stallone's character is the most likeable of his many action heroes and there's a landscape-chewing performance from John Lithgow as the chief bad guy that's to savour.

A hit at the box-office, it certainly helped that they had a classy trailer too:

Rather than go with the more traditional staples of high-octane rock music or pounding synths, this series of key images from the film is neatly matched with Mozart's Requiem "Dies Irae". Not the most obvious choice for marketing a Sylvester Stallone thriller, it complements the Rocky Mountains scenary beautifully and nicely counterpoints the action beats.

One point of interest - the trailer ends with a shot of Stallone making an unfeasibly long leap between cliffs. Audiences who saw this sequence during the film's previews broke into laughter at this point and so the producers made drastic changes to the sequence in the finished film to make it more realistic.