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Ye yan (2006)
What happens when a director goes to film school and makes a movie? You get this stinker.
I have a high threshold for bad movies. While I think the Resident Evil movies are horrible, I sat through both of them without complaining too much. I even put myself through an Uwe Boll marathon just to see what the hype was all about. But this movie actually made me physically violent. It just made my angry that I was wasting two hours of my life watching a film that I knew was bad.
So, why is this film bad? First, it's a horribly (can't use the word I want to) poor adaptation of Hamlet. Now, not all adaptations of Shakespeare have to be accurate or even full adaptations. Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood" and "Ran" are excellent adaptations of Shakespeare's plays that rely loosely on the plots and themes of MacBeth and King Lear respectively. How does this film adapt Shakespeare? By exposition. The characters essentially speak the plot of Hamlet to each other, constantly reminding the audience that they are watching a Chinese interpretation of Hamlet. You're basically sitting through a two hour plot summary of a four hour play. There are better adaptations of Hamlet... and if you really need to get your Shakespeare fix through Asian cinema, get it through Kurosawa, because he does it infinitely better.
Second, the film assumes that you're an idiot. The film not only explains the symbolism of the most basic visual cues - the meaning of the color red, the meaning of water, and really anything that you could think of - but it also over explains the plot. In one convoluted scene, a general calls the Empress the Empress Dowager. The Emperor that goes on a five minute tirade on how this is an insult to his dignity. As if you couldn't figure that out on your own. And the film constantly does this. So, you're not only sitting through exposition that reminds you that you're watching Hamlet, you're basically sitting through a director's commentary as told by the characters in the film. It makes for a painful experience.
Third, if you're expecting some of that Wu Xia stuff to impress you, because this is billed as a Wu Xia film, well, you're going to be disappointed. There is probably one short scene at the end which is slightly impressive, but on the whole it disappoints. It's not that kind of a movie, even if it's in the genre.
So really, there's no reason to watch this film. If you want a good version of Hamlet, go watch Branaugh's version. If you want a good Asian adaptation of Shakespeare, go watch Throne of Blood. If you want a good Wu Xia film, go watch Hero, or even better, go to your local Chinatown and pick up something from the 90s. However, if you want a film that is patronizing and treats you like a five year old child, then this one's for you.
Max Knight: Ultra Spy (2000)
At least it's better than Hackers!
I agree that this was most likely a failed TV pilot turned into a TV movie... and it's thoroughly average. You'll expect all the cliché cyberpunk moments and spy moments. But, hey, at least Blakely looks good here.
Oh, and it also features perhaps the first use of "machinima" in the film... about five minutes of the movie is in "Half Life". Maybe it's a big product placement, I don't know, but if nothing else, this movie has some historical value because of that.
If this is on TV (which is the only way you can see it because it's not on DVD) and you have two hours to waste, you might want to watch this just for that moment. Otherwise, it's fairly forgettable. Chalk it up to the Matrix craze that happened back in 99.
Trekkies 2 (2004)
An endearing portrayal of the modern fanbase.
Trekkies 2, like the first movie, is an endearing portrayal of the Star Trek fanbase. This time the producers go on the road and travel around the world to meet Star Trek fans from Australia, Brazil, Italy, France, Germany and even Serbia, documenting their experiences with Star Trek and going into the lives of several fans.
In between each segment of the travelogue are pieces that can be described simply as an open forum for fans to discuss issues relating to fandom, such as what makes a "Normal Fan", should you wear your uniform in public, etc. This helps give the fans more a of voice, which many found lacking in the first film.
One thing to note about the DVD is that it in fact features 2 documentaries, as the deleted scenes are cut together in a coherent way to complement the main film, raising issues that may not have fit well with the main film.
Of course, the film also features 'characters' from the first movie, like Gabe Koerner, Brian Dellis, Barbara Adams and Daryl Frazetti, making the movie feel like one of several other documentaries that have followed its subjects over the years, like 7-up.
Moments that stood out for me were the interview with Robert Burnett and the Sacramento segment that feature five Star Trek tribute bands. The Serbia segment was also quite effective because it felt more 'important', going a bit into the recent war and how some fans looked to Star Trek as a way of coping with the war. In fact, the film documents the first ever convention held in Serbia.
As a casual Star Trek fan, it was interesting to see that there was still a fanbase that existed given the current nature of Trek. Given that Star Trek: Nemesis pretty much flopped and Enterprise is on the verge of cancellation, it's kind of nice to see that there are still fans out there who are enthusiastic about Star Trek. It was also nice to see fans that were self-deprecating and could joke about the fact that they're fans. There are also poignant, philosophical moments that get to the heart of the film, such as when one of the fans says, "When reality stops being so lame, we'll stop doing this."
The film not only works because of its content, but also because of its style - irregardless of it's content, the film is just a great documentary. Given this, and the fact that you actually get two films on the DVD, I think everyone should pick this up.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
The Film just doesn't work!
Yet another piece of hollywood drivel by Ben Affleck - the actor who can't seem to find another Oscar hit after "Good Will Hunting" or a performance that would actually challenge him (Chasing Amy). Pearl Harbor was a movie whose whole purpose is to try to please as many people as possible, and fails to do that on all fronts. While a lot of the big details ARE historically accurate (The lipstick, Cuba Gooding Jr's character, the fact that two planes DID get off the ground to fight back at Pearl Harbor, and other small things) the story just doesn't really "take off". Without spoiling the movie, one can say that the love triangle portrayed was a typical hollywood romance with no dynamics. Invariably, anyone who's seen a romance can see where the romance will head. The battle scenes show gratuitous violence. There were many more explosions in the movie than there probably were in Pearl Harbor or Tokyo. And, as it turns out, Dan Ackroyd gives the most convincing performance... and he's monotonous, with only a few lines! Also, while there are several scenes that seem to skip around, and are used to portray the plot and describe the history (ie, FDR standing, the Japanese planning the battles), it also distracts from the movie. They even try to portray the movie from the viewpoint of the Nipponese, by having a "voiceover" read the letter than one of the Nipponese pilots is writing home. In the end, I gave this film 6. Generous, because of the somewhat historical value... The movie itself goes nowhere for 3 hours. They tried to do a Titanic/Saving Private Ryan... but in the end, they got the worst of both movies. Just rent Tora! Tora! Tora! and give that a go...