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To be sure, Homicide (the series) deserved a TV-movie after it's
unsatisfying series finale, which was admittedly rushed (NBC cancelled the
series only a few weeks prior to the end of the 1999 season). Indeed,
viewers were left hanging as many storylines were left unanswered, and
"Homicide: The Movie" does work as a coda for the series. However, it
seems like a series finale elongated to fill 90 minutes.
The premise is extremely promising (for those who don't know): Lt. Giardello is the front-running Baltimore mayoral candidate, whose primary issue is the decriminalization of drugs. During a campaign stop, he is shot (but not killed) by an unknown assailant. This event brings every regular character (and I mean everyone) back to investigate the crime and visit Giardello in the hospital. [This brilliant premise is also frustrating to me as a long-time fan. If NBC had given the show one more full season (and let the producers know it would be the last) there could have been some intriguing episodes leading to the campaign.]
As a fan it's satisfying in sense to see all the regular characters again, but it's also a tremendous burden on the film. Several scenes do nothing to enhance the story: Shepherd and Ballard repeatedly watch videotape of the shooting in an an attempt to find a lead; Mike Giardello and Kellerman roust everyone who might have a grudge; Med. examiners discuss medical advancements at Gee's bedside. These and a few other scenes only serve to give some members of the bloated cast a reason to make an appearance. What probably would have worked brilliantly as a 40-minute series finale just doesn't cut it as a full-length film.
Fortunately, this substantial shortcoming is largely redeemed by the film's conclusion, which is set-up perfectly by the writers. The final twist is a complete and devastating surprise that's entirely believable and satisfying in the spirit of the original series. Even if "Homicide: The Movie" is more than a bit diluted, it works as an appropriately bitter-sweet coda for one of the best shows in the history of television.
I became a fan of the TV series `Homicide: Life on the Street' late in the
show's run, but became a fan very quickly. It was a cop show unlike any
other: visually different in its use of hand-held cameras, taking the viewer
everywhere, with its multiethnic and mutiracial cast and their varying and
fascinating personalities, and that it covered all of the good and bad of a
police department, including the corruption and personality clashes that
bubble up to the surface.
Homicide: The Movie, the reunion follow-up to the series, is as good as a made-for-television film can be. After Lt. Giardello (Yaphet Kotto), now a candidate for mayor of Baltimore, is shot, the series' cast members are back to help find the killer. In addition, the cast members who left the force and those who died, also manage to have their place in the film. The intensity and fire that marked the series return, and the script bristles with the same fire that marked the series. All in all, a terrific TV movie.
Out on the campaign trail for Mayor, Giardello gets shot twice and taken to
hospital. His shooting could be enemies from his previous post or could be
drug related as he pledged to legalise drugs to take it off the streets.
The shooting brings the homicide detectives out in force both present and
past to try and piece together the clues and find out who it was and
Thanks to the UK's Channel 4's policy of not knowing a good thing when they've bought the rights to it, I have not seen the last series of H:LOTS, simply because they decided that it wasn't getting enough viewers and dropped it. So I don't know how directly this follows on from the TV series in terms of time but I know that it does tie in quite well and close some open questions. The plot is quite simple and lacks the class of the tv series but still works well for what it has to do. Some of the plot is a jump too far but it still works on the whole. The side issues are as interesting as the main plot and the close of the film is actually a lot more moving than I expected it to be.
The main problem the film has is that `every detective is back'. The result of this is that fans get to see characters they haven't seen for years, but the downside is that they are mostly just clutter wheeled in to say a few lines and then disappear. The film is at it's strongest when it focuses on good subplots with the strongest characters hence it is at it's best when Pembleton and Bayliss are the focus. It is still good to see all the faces but at times you wonder why they bothered and why they didn't sacrifice some characters to make for a tighter narrative.
The cast all do well, with Braugher and Secor standing out due to the amount of time and material the film allows them to have. The cameos (although a lot of the cast could be called cameos) are mixed. Priestley and Begley Jnr are a bit of a waste of space but Oz's Walker gives a delicate performance and shows his skill in this media yet again.
Overall I had no great hopes for this film as it is basically a TVM, but I did enjoy it more than I thought. The revolving door of old characters does drag a little at times but the film works and the focus on a group of main characters (Pembleton and Bayliss in particular) works to it's strength and produces a film that, while not comparable to the series in terms of quality, will satisfy many of it's fans.
I have always been a huge fan of "Homicide: Life On The Street" so when I
heard there was a reunion movie coming up, I couldn't wait.
Let me just say, I was not disappointed at all. It was one of the most powerful 2 hours of television I've ever seen. It was great to see everyone back again, but the biggest pleasure of all was to have Andre Braugher back, because the relationship between Pembleton and Bayliss was always the strongest part of an all-together great show.
"Homicide: The Movie" is a TV flick which continues the defunct TV series and, given its less than sterling reviews, probably concludes it as well. The film, which tells of the investigation of a shooting of a Baltimore mayoral candidate who also heads the homicide squad (Kotto), pulls together most of the cast of the successful 1993-1999 TV series with reprises from many including cameos from the dead characters. "Homicide: The Movie" requires such a familiarity with the TV series for a complete understanding of the characters' background and history that familiarity with the series is almost a prerequisite for the film. Furthermore, as a stand alone piece, the film just isn't that good. "Homicide:The Movie" will play best as a farewell to loyal viewers of "Homicide:Life in the Streets". (B-)
In all truth, this really isn't a "movie" so much as an extended final episode; by this I mean that, had you NOT followed the TV series (Homicide: Life On The Street) I suspect that you would have a hard time following this made-for-tv movie. Having said that, "Homicide: The Movie" is still a great watch. I think it says a lot about a television production that EVERY single cast member would return, many after years of absence, to once again portray their characters and bring closure to an incredible program. The movie brings out that sense of "family", not only amongst the characters, but amongst the actors, as well. It's all very bitter-sweet knowing that this will be the LAST time we will see them all together again under the title of HOMICIDE. Story-wise, I found this film somewhat lacking. Giardello's mayoral candidacy seems particularly contrived, and I felt his shooting could've been dealt with within the parameters of his regular position, as Leiutenant. Also, Det. Bayliss's extreme plot twist, which was left hanging at series end, is finally resolved, but I, for one, NEVER felt that it needed to be; I enjoyed being left with a mystery (let us recall that the very first episode's first case also went unsolved for the entire series run!). As a DEVOTED fan of the TV series I can love this movie, and the fact that it even got made after H:LOTS had been canceled, but I would not recommend it to anyone who hasn't had the slightest exposure to the series. Now, if they'd just release it on DVD...
I was a big fan of Homicide: Life on the Street which remains one of
the television shows I've most enjoyed watching. The last two seasons
do colour my impression somewhat but I usually like to remember the
good times of the first five seasons.
Homicide: The Movie is definitely in the mold of the last two seasons in that it's good but the magic is missing, the movie is a pretty good effort all the same though. Pembleton is back to his old self and old favourites Brody and Detective Howard are back, although their input is minimal. I liked spotting actors from the HBO show "Oz" (not coincidentally this movie was co-written by Oz creator Tom Fontana).
Homicide: The Movie is worth watching but it's not great, eg. I didn't bother burning a copy of the rental DVD, I'd rather hold out for a DVD boxset which I'll probably have to import from overseas. The story is fairly interesting but still isn't up to the standard of the early days of the show, the presentation is very "TV movie" but we can hardly knock that given its source material. The writers went for Bayliss/Pembleton as the main dynamic which is reassuring, but again the magic is never quite recaptured.
Homcide: The Movie ends up being a fitting end to the unfortunately downward trend of the TV series. It was good to see all the characters back but it ends up being yet another installment of Homicide that doesn't live up to the show's brilliant first five seasons. It was a good effort though.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I may be in the minority here, but I felt that the series finale was
the perfect end to the Homicide saga. Tonally, it was right on the
money, and it was pretty obvious that Bayliss killed the Internet
Killer if you read between the lines. Bayliss's discussion with Munch
about Gordon Pratt--which was pretty much asking Munch if he was able
to live with killing a suspect--was followed by the scene where he
apologizes to Danvers, seemingly at peace. This was artful, and
requires multiple viewings to unlock, but in retrospect it's as clear
Evidently people didn't get it, though, so the TV movie was made to spell it out literally. The moment where Tim confesses is a compelling one, largely because of Pembleton's presence, but those of us who figured it out earlier didn't feel the full power. The rest of the movie plays like a mediocre Homicide episode--Gee's transition into politics was sudden from a guy who, in the last episode, was complaining about ascending too high in the department and being too far from the streets. I guess he solved this problem by moving even further up the food chain (and nobody seems to remember that he was a Captain). To some extent the move to legalize drugs makes sense as most homicides in B-more were/are drug related, but this connection isn't made in the movie. And the movie functions mostly as an exercise in nostalgia as everyone ever associated with the show makes a return, and most are given little or nothing to do aside from being present. Die-hards may get a kick out of seeing Munch and Bolander together again, or seeing Brodie stop by, but that is most of the movie.
It looks like the movie has gone out of print, and honestly it's not essential viewing. If you felt like the final episode was a letdown, just watch it again, and I promise you you'll appreciate it more. The Homicide movie eventually winds up feeling more generic and less authentic than the show, and far too sentimental to truly count as part of the Homicide canon. It's sort of like The Clash's Cut The Crap--a swan song that doesn't live up to the greatness of the rest of the canon, and that is more or less forgotten.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
* Some spoilers *
This movie is sometimes subtitled "Life Everlasting." That's often taken as reference to the final scene, but more accurately describes how dead and buried this once-estimable series is after this sloppy and illogical send-off.
There's a "hey kids, let's put on a show air" about this telemovie, which can be endearing in spots. Some fans will feel like insiders as they enjoy picking out all the various cameo appearances. Co-writer, co-producer Tom Fontana and his pals pack the goings-on with friends and favorites from other shows, as well as real Baltimore personages.
That's on top of the returns of virtually all the members of the television's show varied casts, your old favorites as well as later non-favorites.
There was always a tug-of-war pitting quality-conscious executive producer Barry Levinson, Fontana, James Yoshimura and the rest of the creative team against budget-conscious NBC execs, who simply wanted a another moronic police procedural like "Nash Bridges," which regularly beat "Homicide" in the ratings. The pressure told as the show bounced between riveting realism that transcended its form, and sleazy sensationalism that demeaned it.
Unfortunately for this movie, Fontana, co-writers Yoshimura and Eric Overmeyer and director Jean de Segonzac simply threw in the towel. They took the most ludicrous story are from the series, topped it with an unlikely and artistically unfruitful new plot line, and laid the burden of carrying the whole mess on one of the weaker cast members.
Briefly, some time has passed since the last episode of the show. The former heart of Baltimore's homicide unit, Yaphet Kotto as Lt. Al Giardello, is now a Kurt Schmoke-like candidate for mayor, and Schmoke himself makes a cameo appearance. But this promising start immediately and improbably takes a tragic turn.
The spotlight shifts to Giancarlo Esposito as Giardello's son Mike. A handsome man who has done good work elsewhere, Esposito was one of the pretty faces brought in late to supposedly enliven the TV series. But the question for viewers always was: is Mike that uncomfortable as Gee's son, or is Esposito that uncomfortable in the role?
To be fair, Esposito doesn't get a chance to play out the main story without interruption. That's because the writers choose this moment to revive another storyline that spat on the intelligence of the show's loyal voters.
An apparent snuff streaming video was promoted, and then seemed to actually take place, on the Internet. After some red herrings, the detectives arrested a repellent suspect. But Zaljko Ivanek's harassed and overworked Deputy States Attorney forgot to file motions in time, and the suspect was released, only to be murdered later.
Let's summarize: he forgot to file the paperwork because it wasn't the most sensational case of his career, because the mayor, the attorney general, the governor, the entire Maryland Legislature, the U.S. Attorney General, NBC, Court TV, the BBC, AP, Reuters, People, The Sun, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the LA Times, Time Magazine, The Times of London, The Economist, The Johannesburg Mail and Guardian, L'Osservatore Romano, Le Figaro, Paris Match, L'Equipe and Computer World weren't calling every 10 minutes to ask about the status of the case.
Nevertheless, the old gang of detectives and associates flocks back to Baltimore to help out. There's quite an array of talent on display. Unfortunately, with the limited amount of dialogue to hand out, some of them are merely on display.
Two of the strongest actors, Clark Johnson and Melissa Leo, are criminally underused, while time wasted on Jon Seda and Michael Michelle could be better spent on commercials. The writers do seem to satirize this, presenting Jason Priestley as the latest big-deal detective. On the other hand, they give easy-come, easy-go Michelle Forbes a very affecting scene.
There's some other sly casting, with actual Lt. Gary D'Addario, the center of the book that gave rise to the show, playing another detective. Guests drop in from other shows, like Whitney Allen doing her deadpan and clueless "Miss Sally" from the children's show beloved by the inmates on Fontana's "Oz." Dina Napoli of WBAL TV turns up as herself.
Even when entertaining, though, these guests can be distracting. Ed Begley Jr. actually advances the story in his brief appearance, playing Dr. Victor Ehrlich from Fontana's "St. Elsewhere." He's still a vivid character, and fits in a hospital setting. Then you remember, didn't St. Elegius turn out to be an autistic boy's fantasy?
The most useful cameo reflects corporate synergy. This movie was made when Court TV bought re-run rights to the series. That network contributed legal waif Helen Lucaitis, who had interviewed the Homicide team and later appeared on "Oz." The TV correspondent does an efficient job summarizing the news, that is, plot points for latecomers.
Although she's so thin that she disappears when she turns sideways, Lucaitis also adeptly handles a bit of physical comedy with Esposito. He shows more juice in his scenes with Lucaitis than with any of his usual colleagues. Perhaps those two should have done a spin-off.
As the movie winds down, the cream of the cast rises to the top. Although they are saddled with a loser script, Andre Braugher and Kyle Secor overcome it. Their performances remind viewers what made Homicide, for considerable stretches, the best show on the air and one of the best television productions ever.
It's fun to watch top pros do their stuff; it's just a shame this movie doesn't give them more of a chance. Die-hard fans may want to see this movie anyway, but you can live without it.
Truthfully, I was expecting a lot more out of this television movie.
The script at times was lacking, and the story seemed to go on and on,
at times, not making any sense. Though it was widely advertised that
all the detectives would regroup, this movie was largely a front to get
Pembleton and Bayliss together. In most of their scenes together, they
shine. When they first encounter each other on the steps of the station
house after two years of separation, it was touching. However, some of
your other favorite characters are not shown as prominently. Melissa
Leo's Kay Howard has little more than a few sentences in the entire
movie and Callie Thorne's and Michael Michelle's characters are given
absolutely nothing to do. Megan Russert, (Isabella Hoffmann), rather
than do actual police work is given the job of sitting around the
hospital with Gee's family. Once again, just a front to reunite Bayliss
and Pembleton who take up the majority of the movie.
The movie was also used in part to tie up a few loose ends. For example, the relationship between Gee and MGee, his son. In the movie, MGee has turned in his FBI badge to become a Baltimore uniform, perhaps out of respect and devotion to his father.
Another lose end is the Ryland shooting that took place at the end of season 7. I won't give away how it ends, but the results become apparent throughout the movie as to who the culprit is.
If you were a devoted fan of "Homicide" then i would recommend that you watch this, but only if you know a lot about the series since there are a lot of flashbacks that may confuse viewers who were not as devoted.
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