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Interesting 2-hour documentary ruined by 4 hours of terrible melodrama
I persevered through the entire first episode, hoping that the "drama" would get better or (preferably) just go away, but alas that was not to be.
Five minutes into episode two I simply couldn't take it any more and started to hit fast forward through any scripted bits. Luckily, it turns out that the weird mix of documentary and (really) bad sci-fi follows a regular pattern, so I learnt to skip to the next documentary section without having to endure any more of the ridiculous plot, terrible pacing or bad acting that had ruined the first episode for me.
My advice would be to wait for someone to upload a "Mars - the 2016- bits" edit somewhere and watch that instead.
Overrated and self-important
Here's a movie that is a cliché from start to finish.
The first hour tells a very simple and predictable old story (you could sum it up in a couple of sentences) and doesn't even bother to embellish the basic premise with any subplot or details. Instead it fills time with interminably long "smouldering" looks (sorry, this was not good acting as some claim, it was first-grade ham) and people running around the over-the-top set swishing their over-the-top costumes about or showing off their cleavage.
Then the second half changes tack completely and turns the whole thing into "how many thousands of people can we get to run/jump/fly at each other while swishing various weapons around?". Utterly silly assassins flying around all over the place, squealing... it's truly like a *parody* of a Chinese historical action movie! Which wouldn't be so bad except it takes itself far too seriously! It's so obvious they were trying to "make an epic". Enough with the rainbow-coloured costumes and interiors, which don't look at all classy or beautiful. Stop labouring the fact that the good army are on the gold and yellow side and the bad army are all black and gunmetal. I got it already, it's not clever.
It's a silly, simple story done about as tediously as possible.
God's Waiting List (2006)
Good G-... err, Grief!
This was a weird film. Weird because on the one hand it's so hopelessly and shamelessly simplistic and moralistic, yet on the other hand, when it's presumably supposed to be showing us why one should turn to religion as an answer to one's problems, it shows Christianity in such a farcical manner that if I turned on halfway through I would genuinely think it was lampooning the very type of film it's trying to be! Maybe it's because I'm atheist, but the stereotypical Christian characters and acts of God were hilarious! Not to mention the oh-so-predictable fall-from-grace of the "sinners".
Well anyway, I found it quite funny - but not enough to make it so-bad-it's-good.
This movie had some potential, some nice ideas, nice cinematography and some nice moments, but they were all thrown together and scenes then basically pulled out of a hat.
The music was quite nice, on the whole, but you get a bit tired of hearing the opening riff of something and thinking "okay, here comes the next 'Wonder Years' moment...".
The leading character lacks motivation for practically every action and emotion. Whether it's Bloom's acting, poor direction or after-the-fact editing I'm not sure. Too often I felt "huh? wasn't he supposed to be depressed / happy / relaxed / pent-up just now?" as the movie throws us off in another direction. I expect this was supposed to add some changes of pace and humour, but it just felt out-of-character to me.
And then the female lead. Sorry - she's supposed to be endearing and charming, with her quirky little take on life and unpredictable spontaneity... but she was just plain annoying! I genuinely would have steered well clear of that woman and told her to leave me the hell alone on so many occasions - especially their first meeting.
And finally there are several supposedly funny scenes that simply weren't funny. Characters burst out laughing - for several minutes - but I just felt uncomfortable since I had that nagging doubt you feel when you don't get the joke. "Was it me or was that not very funny?!" Sorry, on reflection I think they just weren't, in fact, funny.
16 Blocks (2006)
I liked this movie. It had interesting characters, an interesting story, a low level of over-the-top twists/explosions/impossibilities and it was shot with quite a high level of realism (lighting, settings, extras...) but.
Why did they have to make it so unclear? Sometimes it was simply impossible to see what was going on through a mixture of darkness, extreme close-ups and fast-editing. Good grief, I'm only 35... are my eyes *that bad* already? Not only my eyes - my hearing must be going too. I had to *concentrate* to understand the dialogue throughout the entire thing! Not one person spoke without mumbling... and of course Eddie's speech has already been discussed enough here. My take: he's supposed to be annoying, but it was just too much.
So for me this movie was pretty good, a little clearer sound & vision would have made it very good.
Animators have (literally) lost the plot
I wrote a scathing review of Shark's Tale a while back, and since I've not heard great things about Madagascar either I can only conclude that this movie confirms my suspicions: Dreamworks and Fox don't know what they're doing in the story or character departments.
I can not deny the technical achievements for the animation - I'm sure the studio was wetting itself with excitement at some of the fluid and particle dynamics we witness in this one - but a movie should have an original story... and this one just doesn't! It's a brain-deadening revisit to the preaching, simplistic, moralistic "inspirational" tales I hated even when I was a kid myself. It uses every cliché in the book: hard-up young kid has a dream, goes to the big city, gets knocked down by evil rich guy, loses hope, friends inspire hope, guy rouses crowd, evil guy exposed, etc. etc. etc.
No spoiler warning here, since there is nothing to spoil - you have seen variations on this cheesy theme a hundred thousand times already. As with Shark's Tale and Shrek 2 there is nothing original in here to keep me the slightest bit interested! Added to the unoriginality are the jarring and un-funny "funny" bits, which mostly consist of things getting damaged in ballistic manner... complete with rapid shouting, explosive sound effects and "funny" music. Don't get me wrong, I managed to smile once or twice, but most of the time I was just feeling numb to it.
Cases in point: what is funny about a fight being interrupted by a two-second Britney Spears impersonation?!? If there a *reason* for it to happen (or it happens when it *shouldn't*) then it could be amusing, but this just made me think "why? so what?". Another one is a robot saying "the Force is strong in this one" for no apparent reason... they build it up in its own short scene, and my reaction is... "was that it?".
Randomly throwing in pop-culture references doesn't make any sense when they have nothing to do with anything! An unexpected in-character or out-of-character phrase or action can be funny. Sudden changes in events or plot revelation can be funny. On the other hand, someone turning on a light-switch and saying "make it so" is not. If it's important that the light is switched on, there's been a nice build-up in the dramatic tension, and "make it so" is unexpected given the situation or the character saying it (or is some clever reference to Star Trek that fits the moment)... then that's a different matter.
I may have made that one up, but it's at the level I'm talking about here.
So, add to that the rather unattractive robot designs, generally uninteresting characters and dialogue drowned out by music and sound effects - it's pretty poor. Saved only by the good animation.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Unusually faithful adaptation
I am a little surprised to read the current user comment for the movie's main page that claims this was "plot by numbers".
To my mind, knowing the original book and the 1970s musical adaptation (we'll gloss over the B-movie version) this movie captured a lot of the real feelings of desolation and hopelessness that the original instilled.
Unlike in so many movies, this guy is scared and desperate! Unlike in so many movies, it doesn't look like the good guys will win...
Despite what you might expect at the beginning, the main characters don't try and play the hero... they try to run away and stay alive. That's all they can do, and that's what this movie is about. It's an altogether more sympathetic and realistic portrayal of the end of the world than we are used to seeing these days.
Regarding differences from the book: I don't quite understand the length of time that planning is supposed to have taken (I've been thinking about this a lot but the logic escapes me) and the very final scene was disappointing. I won't say more since I want this review to be spoiler-free.
But certainly a great movie, refreshingly different in story and feel.
I was hoping they hadn't messed it up.. but they had.
I heard the radio series when I was a kid.
I watched the TV series first time around and thought it was utterly new and exciting.
I collected the original trilogy as soon as they came out in paperback... brilliant.
Then the fourth and fifth parts came - okay, but not the genius we'd seen previously.
Then the new radio series came along... like books 4 & 5; I had to listen religiously, even though they weren't great like they used to be.
And finally news of the movie going into production at last.
Now, since H2G2 hasn't been "fantastic" since the early eighties, I was worried... very worried. Given the tendency for movies to screw up books' stories, I was even more worried - so I spent a lot of effort following its progress and trying to convince myself it could be pretty good. Then I read the early reviews on IMDb and told myself that while some people said it wasn't so good, a lot of others thought it was well worth it.
And then it came to that fateful night when my girlfriend's sister called and asked us which movie we'd like to see together... and I suggested Hitchhiker's - but they could watch anything else if they wanted.
Hitchhiker's it was...
Oh dear oh dear oh dear. They're still mocking me for it. To put it bluntly, it's bad. Very bad. Under the circumstances of that evening, it was personally-embarrassing bad.
It's taken a month for me to get up the courage to write this, but here's what I can remember...
It opens with a musical number which seems totally out of place (and isn't very good).
It has no flow whatsoever, either in terms of story or editing. Things happen, you don't know why. Suddenly something else happens, but you don't know why. I was either lucky or cursed to know what should have been explained the whole time... goodness knows what the girls made of it.
The dialogue is terrible - either the result of poor acting, poor screenplay or poor editing. I don't know which, but I do know that there was a lot of incoherent mumbling or shouting throughout.
The characters had no character. I loved each and every one of them from the radio series' and books, but here they are flat, boring and sometimes just annoying (Trillian and Zaphod). Marvin ("he was cute" said the future sister in law!) had a tiny spark of the original, but only has about five lines in the whole movie. Strange, I used to think he was the most outstanding character in the entire oeuvre!.
On a plus point, the visual effects were nice - although I have to say I liked the book sequences in the TV series a lot more.
(Minor spoiler in this paragraph.) The messing with the story didn't improve things at all. The missing bits left gaping holes and the re-writing turned it all into a Hollywood "running from the bad guys" cliché... which it never was!!! The added bits were pointless and not very funny. Which brings us to the real problem...
This film is not funny. Where before there was great wit, there is now tame slapstick (you've watched the "funniest" bits already if you've seen the trailer!). What were once huge, convoluted, intelligent jokes are now rushed, throwaway links to the next scene. The weird little twists and concepts that put a smile on your face seem to have taken the day off. Most of the punchlines and proper delivery seemed to be missing. It makes you wonder if the makers actually understood the humour in the first place!.
And quirky humour was basically the point of Hitchhiker's, was it not?
Shark Tale (2004)
Well made lame movie
I'll keep it short...
Technically very good and some secondary characters were quite interesting, but the story was boring pulp rubbish and the main character is plain stupid and annoying.
We're supposed to root for a guy that I would rather kick in the pants.
It's a shame that such good talent was wasted on the kind of "smart-ass tries to make it big, sees the error of his ways, saves the day, everyone hugs" story I hoped we'd finally seen the end of once the Shreks and Toy Stories started getting made!
This is not Garfield
Jon is a lovable schmuk with a crappy life, not a faceless "nice guy" who seems to have a good house, car and presumably job.
Nermal is a terminally cute yet astute grey kitten, not some idiot Siamese neighbour.
Arlene is the gawky, gap-toothed girlfriend, not a grey bitchy neighbour.
Garfield's bed, as ANYONE who has read the comics should know, is a box with a plain blanket in it, not some kind of cutesy, oak, mini-human-bed affair.
Garfield is a lazy, witty smart-arse, not an annoying, dancing(?!?!?!?) loud-mouth who just never shuts up.
Garfield stories are existential little comments on life, how it sucks for Jon, how stupid Odie is and how wonderful lasagna and sleep are, not extremely, extremely lame, generic, feel-good, I-hate-you-but-now-I'm-going-to-rescue-you rubbish. (I stopped the movie at 25 minutes and correctly predicted exactly everything that was going to happen from then on.)
In short, apart from having a large orange cat in it (well animated though he is) - this has nothing whatsoever to do with Garfield. Did the makers actually read ANY of the comics?