Reviews written by registered user

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43 reviews in total 
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6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers, 16 February 2015

This movie is slick and watchable but hardly original. The parallel to Groundhog Day makes it all faintly ludicrous, the battles (and the aliens) are straight out of Starship Troopers, and there's a dash of 12 Monkeys time travel thrown in. I'm still looking for the smart that some reviewers see. Summer action thriller, late-night TV fodder -- it's found its niche.

Tom Cruise keeps at it, more power to him, and Emily Blunt proves herself surprisingly versatile. Brendan Gleeson always good, but he has a chump's role here. Bill Paxton proves that the less time he is on the screen, the better he does. Ultimately, this a low budget film with big time special effects. There's something cheesy about the set in the climactic scene. Film seems way overrated at 8.0.

"Tyrant" (2014)
11 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Forgot to bring script, actors, 11 July 2014

This was billed as coming from the makers of Homeland, but they forgot to bring along Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Mandy Patinkin and the scriptwriters who made that program a taut drama. This clichéd pastiche of incredibly naive characters is embarrassing even as juvenile entertainment. I give it three stars for the setting, cinematography and occasional flash of competence from the supporting cast.

This had some promise as a combination of Homeland and Breaking Bad, taking it that Barry/Bhassan would be sucked into becoming tyrannical. But he is far too shallow as played by Adam Rayner. His family is hopeless. Only Jean Reno-lookalike Ashraf Bahrom as Jamal brings anything like dramatic heft to this effort.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Madrid is beautiful, 16 November 2013

The problem with Henry Cavill getting so much work in film is that he can't act and has zero screen charisma. Even Bruce Willis, who phoned in this role, acts him off the screen when they're together. Yes, the plot is hackneyed, unbelievable and often downright stupid, and the film merits its low rating.

All that said, my threshold for late-night cable movies is pretty low and the setting in Madrid and (presumably) the Spanish coast is beautiful. I've spent some time in Madrid but haven't been back in a while and it was nice to get back to Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Retiro Park.

Cavill, who was terrible in Man of Steel, is pretty bad in this movie, too. Sigourney Weaver surely can live off her earnings from the Alien series and does not need to demean herself in robotic role like this one. Chase scene is silly, but energetic and a good way to see Madrid by night.

21 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
Cliché-ridden, artificial, 29 April 2013

The actors give good performances here but the script, and the movie, ultimately is ridden with clichés and not terribly sympathetic. Anyone paralyzed in this manner deserves sympathy, but if you have a vast fortune, an army of caretakers, and every imaginable comfort and resource you may need less sympathy than some others. Why did the filmmakers transform a North African (Muslim?) caretaker into a Senegalese? Why is this black African's conformity to every cliché -- pot-smoking, violent, rap music, he even dances well -- supposed to be refreshing, either to Philippe or the viewer? So much was simply artificial -- dressing Philippe like a doll, playing with his beard and hair, the caricature of the other applicants, the behavior of the adopted daughter -- or further clichés -- e.g. the police. Mildly amusing at times, way too long, just watchable.

The Master (2012)
9 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Painful, 15 October 2012

I have to join the minority in panning this film. I found it not only painful in its pretensions but pointless, since the Joaquin Phoenix character was so over the top it is impossible to relate to him in any meaningful way. The whole pseudo-depiction of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology seemed to me to be shallow, trite and clichéd.

I liked Boogie Nights and Magnolia and felt ambivalent about There Will Be Blood. I felt no such ambivalence about this one and did something I've hardly ever done over several decades of watching films (including 20 years in Europe watching their often ponderous productions) -- I walked out.

The critical praise and rave user reviews here are further evidence to me that film "mavens" are ready to turn film into an art form as sterile and elitist as some other art forms -- "classical" music, painting, "modern" dance.

A word about Phoenix. I have admired some of his earlier work but the more recent escapades in his private life make me think he's had too much mind-bending substance, and I suspect that what some people here see as a great performance is just him being weird. There may be a real person like the Phoenix character out there, but I don't really want to spend two hours in such close contact with him, especially when much of what he mumbles is unintelligible.

The production qualities are great of course and many of the actors display a lot of talent, so I don't rate this one star.

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Leaden, ponderous, 3 January 2012

Something got lost in the translation. The grayness, the smoke and mirrors that John Le Carre can conjure up with his language makes for dull cinema when translated so flatly to the screen. Without his linguistic magic, the type of spy plot that Le Carre pioneered by now seems hackneyed and unimaginative.

Gary Oldman, cast against type, seems virtually catatonic as he mumbles and stumbles his way through this ponderous script and leaden direction. He is simply not a good enough actor to overcome this miscasting. The others get no real opportunity to show anything. Cumberbatch is the only one who manages to salvage a bit of life, along with Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr, even though he sticks out like a sore thumb.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Silly movie, 21 March 2011

The plot of this movie is just plain silly, though the stars and the production quality make it a watchable kind of silly if that's what you're in the mood for.

Philip K. Dick has written some genuinely intriguing stories made into movies (Blade Runner, Minority Report), but this isn't one of them. In the Hollywood version, it has some trite metaphysics to distract from the banality of the romance. The script and the sight gags display enough wit to further mask the fact that this is ultimately a very unsatisfying "toying" with the mind. Since most of the comments seem to be positive, I suppose that those whose votes are weighing down the average simply aren't taking the time to articulate their disapproval.

Criminal Hearts (1996) (V)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Lightn up, 1 December 2010

Those giving this film such a low rating seem to be missing the campy humor of it all. Yes, it's predictable, but so was Batman the TV series, and this has as many oddball moments of humor, along with Kevin Dillon's undeniable screen charisma and a performance by Amy Locane that sometimes rises to the charm of the ingénue.

Emmet Walsh and his colleague almost steal the show as corrupt FBI agents who are single-mindedly evil. Cameo appearances by Will Ferrell and Morgan Fairchild also add some panache to what is clearly a low-budget but good-humored film. I caught it on cable. The nice thing about it being so predictable is that you don't have to see the whole film to enjoy whatever part you happen to see.

Iron Man 2 (2010)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Sophomoric, 28 October 2010

It's to be expected that a movie based on a superhero comic book would have adolescent appeal, but in a period when even animated films have layers of meaning to draw in adult viewers, this sequel comes across as flat and boring for anyone not enamored of Robert Downey Jr.'s childish and self-indulgent portrayal of Tony Stark.

I'll admit I couldn't watch it until the end, but the plot is so predictable I guarantee no one could spoil it for me. It's a shame really to see so much talent and money wasted on such thin gruel. The production values are obviously very high (worth four of the five stars in my rating).

Downey, I'm coming to believe, has been overrated as an actor (Sherlock Holmes was also dreadful), but it's a shame to see Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Scarlett Johansson squander their talents on adolescent pablum. I guess everybody has to make a living.

Mickey Rourke is the only one who manages to endow his underwritten role with an enigmatic quality that makes him worth watching, but hardly enough to salvage this film. Enjoy it, kids.

37 out of 68 people found the following review useful:
What am I missing?, 27 September 2010

The over-the-top praise for this film is mystifying. The characters and their motivations range from juvenile to incredible, the pace is tendentious, the writing is banal. The actors do as good a job as they can with a poor script and the cinematography is certainly watchable, though I have no sense of having been to Buenos Aires.

It's simply not possible to suspend your disbelief to the point where you can accept the premises or characters in this film. The trouble Esposito and Irene have communicating with each other is something most people overcome by junior high school, even given that class distinctions in Argentina in that period are probably stricter than here. The reaction of the husband, Morales, from beginning to end is close to fantasy, and as for the way Esposito and Sandoval track down the suspected perp -- preposterous.

So this won an Academy Award and an 8.3 rating at IMDb? What an example of groupthink.

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