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― C.S. Lewis
Greg the Bunny (2002)
Funny, but it should be ground-breaking for network TV.
Maybe I'm just spoiled by Peter Jackson (MEET THE FEEBLES), but I can't help but think, for as funny as this show is, it could be a *lot* funnier. Yes, it walks the line of good taste, which is always a plus, but it has a hard time pushing the limits, even on Fox. I'd like to see these people take the world of the fuzzies to outrageous extremes, not just make jokes about their bodily functions (so far, we've had bunny gas and a monkey who "tore myself a new one").
I love every character on the show, and the veteran cast is perfect, but I think the producers need to bring the Fox censors (how's that for an oxymoron?) in and try to offend them--see how much "South Park" flavor they can move from Cable to Network. Stephen Bochco has always gotten away with more than he expected when he did the scene the way he wanted to first and then ran it by the censors--it's easier to get forgiveness than permission, they say. I'd like to see the "Greg the Bunny" producers try the same thing, take it to the extreme and let the censors reel 'em back in...GB 2.0, as it were.
I'm not going to judge it too harshly, and I will definitely keep watching it, because I think in a couple of years, it's really going to hit its stride (the best episodes of "The Simpsons" don't start showing up until the third season).
But in the shadow of MEET THE FEEBLES, "Greg the Bunny" is tame stuff, indeed.
Watching Ellie (2002)
Where is this going?
I'm really having trouble forming an opinion of this show--the writing was reasonably good, the acting was wonderful, and the point was...?
I came in about a minute into the premiere episode and immediately noticed the countdown clock on the corner of the screen. I figured when we hit 00:00 the "big event" of the episode would happen.
Instead, the show just...ended.
It was supposed to be a neat little 20-minute slice of the life of a singer-by-night/jingle-writer-by-day, but it played out as an attempt at a real-time "I Love Lucy" episode. Some of it worked very well, most of it fell flat. And when the countdown hit zero, I just blinked.
Another little real-time slice of Ellie's life counted down next week? Count me out: I'll hold out 30 minutes for the real real-time of "24."
Fainaru Fantajî X (2001)
Unique and powerful
It's rare to hear a video game being compared to a piece of literature, but Final Fantasy X reminds me of nothing so much as Chaucer's THE CANTERBURY TALES. (Perhaps it more accurately compares to Dan Simmons HYPERION, but since HYPERION was loosely based on Chaucer, well...)
A summoner and her six guardians embark on a holy pilgrimage whose lofty goal is to save the world from suffering, if only for a short while. The closer they get to their destination, the more treacherous the way becomes as forces gather to divert or destroy them before they can achieve their goal.
Along the way, the stories of the seven are shared: where they came from, how they became a part of this journey. We watch as their individual stories combine into an epic tale of love, camaraderie, sorrow, sacrifice, and triumph.
In a business filled with shoot-em-ups and car crashes, it's wonderful to see a series that tries to stretch the form in ways that resemble art and literature, truly exploring the possibility of video game as an art form.
As to the voice work that so many people complain of, I can only believe that these people were looking for big-name Hollywood stars to provide the voices of the characters--take a look at the resumes of the actors who provide voices for FFX and you'll find a history of American animation for the last 10 years. Check your own expectations before you criticize and you may find, as Shakespeare said, that "the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves."
No Way Back (1995)
MPD, anyone? *spoiler alert*
I honestly didn't think this movie was particularly bad--the cinematography was impressive, the performances were good (except for Crowe's rather odd accent, which seemed neither New York nor New South Wales), and the plot was engaging.
(From this point forward, the plot is discussed rather freely, so proceed with caution if you're concerned about spoilers. You have been warned.)
What bothered me was the sudden shift in gear--this film has a major Multiple Personality Disorder. Apart from a light scene with his son at the beginning of the film, this one plays as a straight-up hardcore action flick.
Until they get on the plane.
Suddenly it becomes an Romantic Action Comedy.
Or is it an Odd Couple Buddy Picture?
The dialogue stayed sharp--and even funny--but my head was spinning about the somewhat zany turn of events. Crowe and Slater argue while a car they are pushing (that they no longer need, incidentally) gets away from them, while on the other side of town, Crowe's son is building a puzzle under the threatening gaze of a mafia boss. Huh?
The end wasn't particularly satisfying in any count--the buddies didn't buddy-up, and the romance never quite clicked home. Thankfully, the kid was saved from drowning and wasn't scarred by either the puzzle-building or the fishing trip.
Set It Off (1996)
What a waste of talent.
A threadbare plot that clings together through coincidence and idiocy is used to string a number of emotional scenes that would be a lot more powerful if the film wasn't simply weighed down by them.
Each of the main characters in this movie becomes a victim of a separate tragedy; it's not enough that their lives are tragic and desperate to begin with--the screenwriter still seems to feel a need to kick the characters a few times, apparently to wake them up so they'll do something (stupid) about their lot in life. And in every case, the tragedy inflicted upon them would more likely have inspired a lawsuit than a desire to rob banks...so much so that each of the characters--particularly Stony--would likely have been approached by lawyers offering to sue the parties that wronged them. From the time that Stony's tragedy occurs, in fact, the whole movie should have shifted direction--away from the bank robbery idea and toward an inquiry into that tragedy.
I'm still a bit stunned by the pointless Godfather take-off scene: there was no reason for the scene to be in the movie except to showcase the actors ability to do accents--the scene didn't fit the characters at all, and took far too long to achieve its desired effect.
And poor, poor John C. McGinley. This guy's a talented actor who for years has always seemed to end up playing the idiot cop. One of the shining aspects of this film is that he doesn't *remain* the idiot cop--he actually grows over the course of the film, and does so beautifully. The film gives a hint of what this talented man is capable of, a hint that is finally being realized on the TV series "Scrubs."
Now don't get me wrong--there were some great moments in this film, particularly among the four principal characters. But it was a question of talented people doing their best with sub-standard material.
Not to be rude to the other reviewer...
...but his description of the show is entirely wrong.
I don't doubt that Cosell spent some of the show's time looking out over the city and telling what was going in in New York on any given night, but this show was a variety show along the lines of the longer-running and far superior "The Ed Sullivan Show."
But it was more than that: it was Cosell's attempt to win the adoration of a public that largely hated him even as they watched him week after week on "Monday Night Football."
This show was not particularly notable for what it was--I have no idea who thought it was good to call the Bay City Rollers "the next Beatles"--but the behind-the-scenes of it gives a certain pathos to the career of a charismatic man, giving him a little more humanity than most of us give him credit for.
Love him, hate him, love to hate him...the sports scene of the new millennium misses Howard, and we need to recognize that we will likely never have another man like him.
This quite seriously looks like someone took a bad idea for a Hercules/Xena two-parter, pitched it with storyboards, was turned down because the effects budget would have been too high, and instead talked Raimi and Tapert into turning the storyboards into a cartoon of the worst quality. Motion is minimal, proportions are inconsistent, the characters are downright ugly...I could go on, but I think the rot is creeping into my brain.
Don't let this one into your home...seriously.