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Little People, Big World (2006)
Little people, big fascists
The kids in this show are nice. I'd like to spend time with them, whether in real life or watching them on TV. They all have varied interests and a positive outlook on life.
Unfortunately, the show is almost completely ruined by their parents. They don't run the house with an iron fist--more like titanium. Anytime one of the kids disagrees with them, I half expect a whip to come out as the parents scream at them to get back to whatever their personal pet project of the week is.
If there was someway to concentrate this show completely on the kids, or at least not try and pretend that the parents are "protagonists," I'd definitely be a big fan of the show. As it is, I can barely stand to watch it and flip to another channel whenever I can.
Best since the original (large spoilers)
You're all going to flay me alive for this, but I LOVED THIS MOVIE.
The first 45 minutes were a psychological thriller; the last 45 minutes were pure suspense/chase/action.
Tommy has evolved in a totally natural direction from the end of Part Four. He looks as fragile as glass, but if you mess with him, you quickly find out he's as hard as steel. He earned my respect by killing Jason, and he simply earned it tenfold again this movie.
Ethel and Junior were purposefully annoying; they had a strangely semi-incestuous seeming relationship. Yes, it was good to see them go, but they were funny, at least in their first scene ("I got a bomb!").
This movie also managed to be scary and surprising by KILLING CHARACTERS WE ACTUALLY LIKED. Shy Jake, kindly Gramps...I choked on my drink when they bought it. I had expected both of them to survive; at least certainly Gramps!
Demon also had an interesting characterization. I know plenty of guys like him who try to seem all bad-ass but are really just big softies inside. You can see he actually cares about Nita and loves his little brother.
Speaking of whom, Reggie stole the movie for me. When I thought he was going to get killed at the end (hey, if Gramps can die...), I was actually shouting at the screen "NO! NO! You cannot kill the Reckless!"
Roy's motivations, which parallel Mrs. Voorhees's from the first film, are passable; he does a damn good job as 'Jason.'
The final fifteen minutes, with Roy chasing Pam and Reggie, are excellent, especially when Tommy arrives in the barn. And the ending few seconds are wonderful. I just wish they'd followed up on it in the next film. Let Tommy turn from monster-slayer into monster. For added pathos, maybe even let him regain his sanity for just a moment and beg Reggie (the hero) to kill him. That would have rocked if they'd done it in the sixth film, making the Tommy trilogy a chronicle of one man's descent into madness.
So, yes, bring out your whips, but this was my favorite movie since the original (keep in mind I'm watching them in order).
The Voyage of the Mimi (1984)
Educational TV hell.
Our biology teacher showed us this in middle school, so that not only could we learn about marine life and the ocean, but also learn sign language, she said eagerly at the start of the series.
By the time it was over, even she was apologizing.
This was bad, bad, bad. Normally, school kids will leap at the chance to watch a TV program, so they won't have to do real work. That's one of the reasons 'Square One,' '3-2-1 Contact,' and most especially, 'Bill Nye The Science Guy,' are so beloved.
This, however, had us dreading the start of each bio class, for it meant another gut-wrenching high-seas voyage on the Mimi. We regularly debated which was worse, the writing or the acting.
Again: bad, bad, bad. Teachers, stay away.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
I was dragged to see this with the family on Christmas, and it was definitely my least favorite "present" of the day.
The main flaw in the film was that of its main character: Frank Abagnale, Jr. I can't support a character being portrayed as a 'hero' if in fact they aren't one. Abagnale had no conscience, no moral center, no concern for all the innocent people he duped and tricked. Plus the film didn't show how he slipped from perfect schoolboy into cold-hearted conman; it just *happened*. If Abagnale had been portrayed as more of a villain, I would have liked the film more. Leonardo DiCaprio's largely sleep-walking performance didn't help.
I give this film 4 out of 10: one point for Tom Hanks's excellent portrayal of Carl Hanratty, one point for John Williams's lovely musical score, one point for Thierry Kuntzel's lovely credit sequence, and one for the "airport pickup" gag; you'll know it when you see it.
High School Big Shot (1959)
Depressing? Yes. Bad? Not entirely.
While I, like my fellow commentators, enjoyed the MST3K send-up of this flick, I also agree with them that "High School Big Shot" definitely had some redeeming values.
The biggest value: the acting. For such a low-budget movie, the actors did a very good job. Tom Pittman pulled off the difficult task of making the audience sympathize with Marvin Grant, but not excuse his behavior. As his world goes to hell, destroyed by petty greed (both his own and others), the pain is evident on his face. His father, played by Malcolm Atterbury, comes off as a mainly honest, good guy who's made a few mistakes that have continually haunted him. As Betty Alexander, Virginia Aldridge plays the perfect conniving ice queen, and Howard Veit breathes convincing life into brainless jock Vince Rumbo (now THERE'S a name!).
But the true standouts are Stanley Adams and Louis Quinn as Harry March and Samuel Tallman, respectively. Although they have limited screentime, they effortlessly make you believe that here are lawbreakers with honor. As Harry says, "I am a thief, not a crook." You know that if you hire these two as part of your caper, they won't doublecross you and will stay with you until the bitter end. To once again quote Harry, they are the "last of the gentlemen;" criminals with hearts of slightly tarnished gold. Adams and Quinn truly shine in the roles.
The writing and directing by Joel M. Rapp is serviceable, and Carlo Lodato's editing works fine. Gerald Fried contributes a very nice score to this picture.
Overall, I'd have to recommend checking out this picture, whether the original or the MSTreatment.
Bram and Alice (2002)
A different, irreverent little show.
I hadn't been expecting much from this show, but it came on after "Becker" so I decided to give it a shot.
Alice O'Connor, an ambitious young writer, discovers to her shock that her real father is Bram Sheppard, famous writer and a bit of a lech. She moves in with him they try to form a relationship, with Bram's assistant, Paul Newman, offering a slightly more normal perspective on things.
The writing is good and very funny; one reaction shot of Bram's made me laugh for minutes. Alfred Molina totally captures Bram, and Traylor Howard does a good job as his slightly irritating daughter Alice. Roger Bart turns in an amusingly understated role as Paul, and Katie Finneran and Michael Rispoli are good stand-outs as Katie the young professional, and Michael the priest-turned-bartender. Whether these two will be recurring roles or not I cannot say, but I sure hope so.
"Bram And Alice" got off to a good start. Let's hope it can sustain this level of comedy and wit.
Not the best Godzilla movie, but one of my favorites.
Yes, there are Godzilla movies that have better special effects. There are Godzilla movies that have better stories. There are Godzilla movies that are better directed.
But if you ask me which Godzilla movies are my favorites, I'll rank "Godzilla 1985" over just about all of them.
Why? It may be the mid-80's special effects, which while looking relatively modern still retain some "old school" charm. It may be the excellent Cold War-era politics (compared to today's chaos, the Cold War was practically comforting). It may be the excellent music by Reijiro Koroku, the only Godzilla composer to match Akira Ifukube.
I even enjoy the US dubbed version. While the Dr. Pepper ads and the supposed humor does wear on you, most of the actors do a pretty good job in their roles, though I wish it had been butchered less.
Give "Godzilla 1985" a chance.
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Hilarious comedy in the tradition of "The Emperor's New Groove!"
When "The Emperor's New Groove" was released, I was worried that this highly witty, sarcastic, and above all funny movie from Disney would be an aberration, a one-shot deal.
Thankfully, "Lilo & Stitch" has proven me wrong. If anything, it manages to be even funnier than "New Groove."
A hilarious script (about two Hawaiian siblings, a runaway genetic experiment, several aliens, a strange social worker and a surfer dude) combined with great voice acting (kudos especially to Ving Rhames as the wonderfully named Cobra Bubbles, and Zoe Caldwell as the Federation leader) make this a definite must-see. Great songs (most by Elvis Presley) add to the chaos (and "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" is superb)
I rate this just below "Spider-Man" and just above "Star Wars Episode II."
Bill Nye, the Science Guy (1993)
Not just a children's show...
This show was a godsend to students of all ages. Even in high school, we liked nothing better in one of our science classes than for our teacher to pop in an episode of "Bill Nye the Science Guy." The entire class, from the honor roll students to the ones who barely managed to not flunk, enjoyed them and laughed frequently. We'd always sing along with the theme song, and didn't feel embarrassed (well, maybe a little bit).
Bill Nye and his crew (special mention must be made of Pat Cashman as the often hilarious Announcer) made even complex science concepts seem simple and easy to understand.
Bravo, Mr. Nye, for a show well done. May it continue to run for many a year to come.
Fainaru fantajî VII (1997)
The game that ruined the Final Fantasy series.
*this review includes spoilers*
Ah, Squaresoft, until 1997 you were nigh-infallible. You had created the great RPG Chrono Trigger, which is almost certainly one of the all-time best RPGs. You had created the first six Final Fantasy games, all of which deserve a place in the pantheon of video gaming (and number 6 can compete with Chrono Trigger for the head seat at the table).
Then the time came to leave the Super Nintendo for the Playstation. You took the big step.
And tripped, horribly.
You got so caught up in the new, grander visuals you could create that you forgot to concentrate your resources on things like "plot" or "character development," the two key elements in making your previous games great. Even your marvellous composer Nobuo Uematsu got swept up in the techno-fever; his FF7 soundtrack can barely compare with his for FF6.
In many great pieces of literature or film or video gaming, the villain is the best (or at least, most outstanding) character. Just look at Kefka in FF6; he stole the show. But Sephiroth, the villain of FF7, is really the *only* character; the rest are cardboard cutouts given three-dimensions physically, but not emotionally or spiritually. When you killed off Aeris, I was supposed to feel sad; instead I was bored. The deaths in FF6 were much better handled.
Unfortunately, the masses were hypnotized by the pretty pictures and bought the game in droves, leading you to think you had created a good game. Thus we got an abomination like FF8, which lacks even a good villain. Fortunately, FF9 and FF10 each were better than the previous, leading me to hope that you're recovering. And Chrono Cross, the sequel to the aforementioned Chrono Trigger, was a very good game indeed (save the ending). As was Final Fantasy Tactics, which had notably 'poorer' graphics but a much better storyline and more realistic characters.
With any luck, you'll soon return to your former level of greatness, and FF7 will be remembered not as a classic, but what it truly is: a mistake.