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Don't Ask Don't Tell (2002)
Clever, but too long.
I agree with Havan. We considered showing this at our film festival, but declined. This film has an original concept and starts out really funny, but it drags on and just gets too silly. The dancing aliens number has got to go, among other things. They could have had a tighter edit and made this a very good spoof.
The Avengers (1998)
A terrible tribute to a wonderful TV show. *spoilers*
There are some major spoilers in this review, but I can't rant about how terrible this film is without citing some examples. After reading some reviews on other web sites, I was surprised to see that so many people (mostly Americans) actually liked the film. And that they liked what Ralph and Uma did with the characters. I am an American, and although I have only seen seasons 4 through 6 (peel and king), I consider myself to be one of the more dedicated fans of the show.
I went and saw it on the day it was released, and was thoroughly disappointed. Almost to the point of believing that there may have been a conspiracy to make this such a bad film. I must admit that I was expecting to be disappointed - I was sure that the actors would not do well by the characters, judging especially from the utterly unsubtle publicity photos of Uma Peel. I had hoped, however, that the overall production would have made it semi-enjoyable. It was not. Not only did the characters have no chemistry, but the whole flow of the movie was awkward and somewhat boring.
The main fault for that, I would say, lies with the extreme over-editing of the film. I had read the book that was written from the original script, so I could see what was cut. In the movie, they trimmed parts of important scenes that made them incongruous or just fall flat. I think one of the best examples of this is in one of the opening scenes when Steed is walking down a street fending off various surprise attackers, which is actually a test of his abilities, and is given a score of "9" (supposedly out of 10). Nothing is further said or explained. So why even show the score? What they cut was additional attackers on the street with chains and Steed fought them off skillfully with his sword umbrella. He didn't dispose of them instantly like the other attackers, however. When Steed sees his score, he protests and is told that he took too long with the chain gang. That extra little bit would have made that scene much better, but instead viewers are left to wonder why Steed got a score of "9". There are many instances of this throughout the film. The film was trimmed to a paltry 90 minutes. I know they filmed a scene with the evil duplicate destroying the Prospero lab (there were publicity photos from those scenes), but it was cut in its entirety. This would have been a much better setup and introduction to the whole plot. If only they had not cut so much throughout, the plot would have flowed better and been a much more enjoyable film.
As far as the characterizations, I will say that I was less disappointed with Uma Thurman as Mrs. Peel than I was with Ralph Fiennes as John Steed. Sir August was okay, but his development was limited. Nothing is explained about his obsession with Mrs. Peel. John Steed was not presented as the perfect English gentleman in this picture. A gentleman would NOT request that a strange woman whom he has never met to meet him in a gentleman's club where he is completely naked! There are a few other examples of his absolutely rude behavior which I will decline to mention. Uma peel was not too bad, but her portrayal was not as strong or as focused as Diana Rigg. The fact that they were not paired up as partners and friends, but rather as a makeshift team trying to prove her innocence, did not do much for the pairs chemistry. Steed even told her once that he was under orders to kill her if she was indeed a traitor. Where he got those orders was edited out of the film, of course. Also, it seems to me that the producers idea of how to make the two seem sophisticated was to have them drink gallons of tea.
Because they cut it from the opening scene, we never see Steed's sword umbrella until the final fight scene with Sir August. In the movie, Emma Peel fights much less than Steed, who is actually presented as a very skilled and trained fighter. In the original series, it was Emma who had all the cool fight scenes and steed usually got by with clever and dirty tricks (like the steel plated bowler) It seemed wrong not to see Emma delivering her trademark Karate chops.
I will say that the amount of explosive action and special effects were adequate. The Avengers has never been about that kind of thing, anyway. The Avengers is supposed to appeal to the brain as much as the eyes, so I'm glad it wasn't over done.
One last production note: the opening and closing credits, for which the original series was greatly loved, were absolutely abominable in the movie. They looked like the opening of a James Bond film with a bad hangover! They were a series of creepy and ugly visual distortions set to even creepier music. The traditional music didn't appear until later in the film, and then only briefly.
Don't let this film spoil your appreciation for one of the best TV shows of all time. Go watch the original series on video.
Talk Soup (1991)
Am I the only one who likes Hal Sparks?
Geez, so many reviews panning this poor fellow. I never cared for John Henson too much, and I thought Hal was a comic breath of fresh air. Yeah, so he is a little more "risque". I LIKE that type of humor, and it does complement the type of clips they tend to show. What is everyone's problem? I think he has a lot of energy and he is very funny. My only question - Where has he been? Have they put him on hiatus due to all these negative comments? Poor kid. I hope returns soon.
The Matrix (1999)
more than cliches
Well it seems that people either really love this movie or really hate it. Who is right? Go see it for yourself and decide. I would submit this to those who hate it - some people love opera and others hate it, but their hatred doesn't diminish opera as a legitimate art form. Just because some people aren't able to appreciate something, doesn't devalue the object. This movie does have many good points beyond just special effects. Just because some people can't understand them or refuse to accept the ideas presented, doesn't make this a bad film. There is a strong story with philosophical messages about faith, love, and the nature of reality. The story parallels Christianity so closely that it is almost blasphemous. The Matrix does have similarities to movies like Terminator and Dark City, but this movie twists those elements into a different direction that works rather well. In the Phantom Menace, the special effects overwhelm the movie, but here they support the story instead of dominate it, as special effects are supposed to do. People who hate this film say that it is full of plot holes and bad acting. I found very few holes, and they were insignificant to the story. Don't be fooled by reviews of those who didn't fully understand the story. The acting is adequate to make the story work. This isn't The English Patient, after all. Keanu is his usual self, but it was tolerable. He does say his trademark "whoa" once. As much as I loved the movie, I will admit that there are flaws with the film. I hated the one scene with the big shoot out in the lobby. It was unnecessary and overdone. It didn't enhance the story one bit, and it didn't even look that good. I was annoyed. But there was so much else in the film that was outstanding, I was able to forgive it.
Galaxy Quest (1999)
This was a pretty good satire
This movie is a pretty good satire of the whole Star Trek/sci-fi phenomenon. Many people seem to think the movie is flawless in every respect, but I think the movie has both strengths and weaknesses. You can't take it seriously at all. Star Trek fans may enjoy it more than others. I thought the premise of aliens abducting actors who once played space heroes to be much better than the typical goofy space adventure. The special effects were good, and supported the story rather well. The parody of unlikely situations and technobable was great. The satire of sci-fi conventions and fans was dead on and hilarious, but if the producers of this movie really think that Star Trek is as cheesy and stupid a show as Galaxy Quest looked to be, then as a Star Trek fan myself, I am a little insulted. I would never like a show as dumb as this one looked to be, and neither would most sci-fi fans. It makes us look more stupid than weird. We deserve to be mocked for our extreme devotion, but not if we like a show as dumb as Galaxy Quest. The acting in this film was pretty good. The portrayal of old has-been sci-fi actors was great. The frustration of typecasting, being annoyed with the fans, etc. It was fun to see, but not all that original. Sigourney Weaver has never looked better, although I would have liked it more if her character Gwen DeMarco was more intelligent . The romantic chemistry between her and Tim Allen was confusing, especially considering that their characters were supposed to have known each other for over 20 years? They should have worked out those issues by now. Definitely an enjoyable movie, but it might be getting a little more praise than it deserves.