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The Time Machine (2002)
Not a bad watch, but disappointing to me...
If you've never read the original Wells masterpiece, or if you've only seen the likewise weak translation (but otherwise pretty good film) of the story directed by George Pal in the sixties, then this is a pretty decent film. Although the beginning was a little too cute and contrived, the rest of the film does make up for these shortcomings.
However, I *HAVE* read Wells' original, and trying to draw inevitable comparisons do hurt. I was hoping to see a true-to-the-story version of the film with the modern effects that are really needed to make it sparkle. The effects were there, but where was the story?
Unfortunately, H.G. Wells' story was quite absent. Some of the names were taken from the original work, but they were applied to beings that simply didn't match up to his vision.
I can only hope that the proposed upcoming War of the Worlds will be a better translation - and hope also, since this has been done more than a few times before, someone else will come along with a version that will do justice to a great tale.
It is worth watching - as a rental - but don't expect to see the book made a movie here.
The War of the Worlds (1953)
For the time, an excellent update of the original story.
Take the original War of the Worlds story and set it in the 1950's. A difficult task, but one that this film does and does admirably well. The effects were (for the time) groundbreaking, and I liked the fact that the movie-makers at least made an effort to depict the unusual alien nature of the invaders as well as the hopeless efforts of mankind's best technology. Though not as poignant, the parallel is made between the ironclad Thunderchild - the most advanced fighting machine made by man at the time, according to Wells - and the attempted use of nuclear weapons against the invaders... with basically the same results.
I would have liked to have seen more of the world the way it was depicted in both the original book and in the Mercury Theater radio translation in this film. Wandering through an empty, alien-haunted wilderness with the fading reminders of human civilization would have given it a wonderful surreal touch, but it would not have been really possible given the time - and the depicted feel - of this film.
Still a great sci-fi movie - a classic, and destined to remain that way. I hope the next version can at least live up to the impact of this classic.
The Hobbit (1977)
As a Tolkien Fanatic...
I must say that I actually remember this movie with fondness. I've read comments that slam the film for either technical faults or the fact that it has left out a number of things.
All these things are true, of course.
Though I thought the artwork itself was quite good, the animation could use some work. Certainly things were left out.
Come on people! Certainly the film is no ten, but it is a decent version, given the fact that to fit the book into a film at all some liberties will be taken. Especially when it seems apparent that the film is aimed at children.
If you can't unwind a bit and just sit back and watch the film without always pointing out every little omission or alteration, then this film will disappoint. But if you can, then give this film a chance.
Can it be?
This is an excellent beginning to the Lord of the Rings trilogy! While there were slight story changes and some of the images are not what I've always imagined while reading the book, it is obvious that Peter Jackson has done an amazing job of capturing Middle Earth and putting it on-screen.
If there is one fault that I find with the film, it is that it glosses over elements that I thought were important in the story. This I can forgive - if they had done the film the way I really would have liked to see it, it'd be six or so hours long!
While the settings all shine in their own way, it seems obvious to me that the best attention was paid to Moria, which is so impressive it is a star of the film in its own right. The feel of overwhelming gloom and ruinous splendor that hangs about Khazad-dum is both expansive and claustrophobic at once, with this being broken only at Balin's tomb. The battle in Balin's tomb is astonishingly well done, and the pursuit to the Bridge of Durin shows the orcs as being, if possible, even more sinister and fearsome than I had imagined in the book. The orcs of Moria resemble nothing so much as humanoid spiders in the deeps.
As far as the Balrog is concerned, well... Lets just say that if I had to imagine a "Demon of Might" - this would be it!
Perhaps nothing is more striking in the film than being able to see through Frodo's view with the ring on. You can understand now that the ring does not just make you invisible... when the bearer wears it, it is as though he has entered another reality that overlays our own. It neatly works with Tolkien's own description of the "existance" of the Nazgul.
All in all, an amazing translation, and well worth seeing! A few omissions and changes do not detract from this film's viewability at all - go and see it NOW!
What Dreams May Come (1998)
When so many people either love or hate a film, make a point to see it...
I continue to be astonished at the reviews that this film has received. People either love or hate this film. I guess I fit into the former category, but I can understand how this film could REALLY rub you the wrong way.
The plot is VERY deep, so deep that I think a lot of people just don't catch the thread of it. Also, this film tries to make you think in a way that is very difficult for people to follow (or accept). If you can't envisage or accept what this film is trying to portray, then it WILL come across as a vapid, weak-plotted attempt to tug at the tears (because in a sense, that IS a part of what this film does).
The film doesn't deal with the afterlife, not really. It deals with how we view ourselves and tries to show the difference between the world outside of us and the world inside. I personally found this film to be very comforting and inspirational in an odd sense, and more than once I caught some of my own thoughts within.
It does have some weak moments - in particular, I think the ending could have been done much better, and did feel a little too contrived - almost like Kodak tried to make a moment at the end. Also, the film is a little too thick on dogma - but I guess I can't really argue about that too much. Despite some flaws, I found the film to be very good.
At the very least, the film will be good eye-candy (the setting and effects are marvelous) - and perhaps, much more.
Just don't blame me if you don't like it. :-)
The Perfect Storm (2000)
Not the perfect movie, but pretty good!
At least as disaster films go, this one sets a new standard. Visually, this film is stunning! If you don't see it on the big screen, you're selling this film and yourself short - I think that for "weather" effects, this one may have beaten out _Twister_. The story and the character interactions have the sense of being a little too contrived for my liking, to try and get you to feel for the characters more - but as the film progresses, the film, and the acting, more than makes up for this.
But the star has to be the storm itself! Words do NOT do justice to the visual effects and realism behind _The Perfect Storm_. Definitly see it - don't wait for it on video. You'll never forgive yourself if you do.
Chicken Run (2000)
One of the most fun films I've seen!
Perhaps I'm biased. I lived in Yorkshire for some years, so perhaps that may give me a little better understanding of the humor than most Americans will have (not to mention a slightly better grasp on the accents, though they were pretty clear). And I have been a fan of the Wallace and Grommit work for some time - I think EVERYONE should see "A Close Shave" unless they've had their sense of humor surgically removed.
Perhaps I'm biased, but I don't think so, as the entire theater was laughing as hard as I was. This film is just tremendous, and I have a feeling that Mel Gibson's _The Patriot_ is going to have some of the hardest competition in his other film, _Chicken Run_.
Whether you have kids or not, see this film! Of course the slapstick and animation will appeal to them, but there is enough sophisticated comedy and appeal to this film that anyone can enjoy it. And to the perceptive who have watched all the "serious" great escape films, (and to the perceptive who just love Brit comedy) there are many subtle stabs.
This is the best "film for everyone" that I've seen in a long time.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
This film you'll either love or hate...
and it all comes down to just what your expectations are.
In all horror films that work, there are really only two mechanics that grab the viewers and give them the shakes. The first is the contemplation of some idea or concept that is truly horrifying. This is very rarely the case in films, as most films cannot convey complex concepts and ideas that well. Some films that deal with the possibilities of disasters and "aftermath" films try. Films like _The Andromeda Strain_ come to mind - although obstensibly a sci-fi film, the premise of this film when I saw it first years ago really gave me the chills.
Then, more often, there are films that give you a vicarious scare by letting you imagine yourself in a dangerous or terrifying situation. This is a lot easier to do, of course, and so most horror films fall into this "suspense-thriller" pattern. I like the former better, but this - if done well - can still scare pretty good, and can still make for a great film.
_The Blair Witch Project_ does both. And the ONLY reason it works at all is because it does use both elements - one by itself given this film just won't work, and if you "don't get it" - if either part goes over your head - you're just going to be confused by this film. I think that is why so many people don't like it.
But if you can grasp onto the supernatural horror of this film, and if the "ultra-realistic" way it was filmed can help let you put yourself into the film (like it did for me) then this film is VERY creepy and will keep you awake listening to those little bumps in the night for a good long time. Only one thing though - do NOT see this on the big screen, because you'll be too distracted by the feeling in your stomach at the "bad" camerawork. Besides, the better setting is in a nice dark room... or tent... at night... lost... in the woods... :-) Enjoy.
The sinners are much more fun!
This movie actually is a pretty fun film with a lot more going for it than most people might think just looking at the cover. Sands is perfectly cast as the warlock, an evil-to-the-core witch who works for nothing less than the uncreation of the cosmos. Fighting him is an out-of-his-element witch-hunter who has chased him to the present (Grant) with a peculiar confidence. He knows his enemy and knows what he needs to do to prevent the warlock from completing the Grand Grimoire, but is lost in the present. Tagging along is a modern-day girl who is acceptably portrayed by Lori Singer caught between the warlock's unbelievable powers, her newfound friend from the past with an obsession, and her now blasted view of "how things work in the real world." Two things really make this film though. The first is that the explanations that are given actually don't bog the momentum down (and the filmmakers decide to leave some things unexplained or give the most cursory explanations to catch the audience up in the wild ride that Kassandra (Singer) has found herself in) and that although both the warlock and the hunter have powers, they are closly matched and totally obsessed, making for a very interesting conflict. There's also enough tongue in cheek to keep people interesting and to break occasional tension. Very watchable - go and try it on for size.
Flash Gordon (1980)
This is one of the better translations of a comic series than many. It retains much of the original storyline, flavor, and camp feel of the original comics. Casting of Max Von Sydow as Ming was brilliant, and the character of Klytus could not have been better done. UnfortunatEly, most people will have only seen the various versions on TV, which has been cut in various ways, removing usually some of the best scenes.