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Superheroic play, 7 August 1999

Almost as long as there have been superheroes, there have been spoofs, parodies, and satires of them. The best of these don't dismiss the genre or ridicule it. Rather they play with the elements and conventions, finding the humor in them. Mystery Men does just that and with great glee. If you love the genre, this is the movie for you. You'll see every element joyfully played with, from the futuristic supercity to the power of glasses to hide a secret identity. And what a cast! It's hard to find any one actor who completely eclipses the rest. It's fantastic ensemble comedy. The actors make these misfit, second-stringers work.

The Mystery Men not only saved the innocent people of Champion City, they saved the summer movie season for me. It's just good fun!

Can't be the scariest ever if it can't scare a kid, 6 August 1999

Shortly after this movie began, an annoying group of people entered the theater, sat down behind me, and started eating popcorn noisily. They had a young child with them and deep down inside I hoped that the constantly whispering whelp would be traumatized by the much hyped fear-inducing power of this film. Well, it didn't happen. I moved so as not to hear the kid, but unless she was paralyzed with fear and was carried out on a stretcher without me realizing it (and that's not likely because her noisy folks would have talked about it) the movie had no appreciable impact on her. A movie can't be the scariest movie ever made if it can't traumatize a young kid!

The movie had no great impact on me either. I salute the concept and the risk, but it just wasn't all that scary. Creepy maybe. I did get goosebumps a few times, which is what the best ghost stories should give. But the movie takes way too long to gear up and when it does, the fear is not sustained. Also, I had trouble caring about the characters after a while.

Once again, I'll caution you about seeing preview materials. The Sci-Fi Channel special is interesting. In fact, I like it better than the film, which is the problem. If you do see the movie, go in with as little information as possible, then unravel the mystery for yourself. That's where I think the fun in this film could be.

27 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
Some recommendations for new viewers, 4 July 1999

The sheer volume of Doctor Who episodes makes briefly commenting on all aspects of this wonderful show a challenge. However, I can make some recommendations for new viewers.

If the ONLY thing you want from science fiction is special effects, then Doctor Who is not for you. The quality of the effects are often admirable when the shoestring production budget considerations are factored in, but Doctor Who never really equaled the special effects of other shows. What Doctor Who does deliver is keen attention to character, dialogue, and plot. Doctor Who was always something more than its 1963 b&w kid's show origins suggest, and over the years it evolved into a program that could make some very clever, thought-provoking comments and observations while at the same time delivering a fun and suspenseful adventure.

Cliffhangers were what made me a fan from the beginning. Unfortunately, Doctor Who tends to be shown now in movie-style blocks. This dilutes those marvelous cliffhangers. Every episode of the show is about a half-hour, but most stories had at least 4 parts. At the end of each part, the Doctor or one of his many companions faces seemingly absolute, inescapable doom of some kind or another. I was lucky enough to first see Doctor Who on PBS, one half-hour episode per week-night. My friends and I had to wait a whole agonizing day to see the Doctor's clever escape or rescue. I don't know how the UK fans had the patience to wait a week. If you can, you should try to preserve the breaks too in order to get a real sense of the show, even if you just pause a few moments between parts.

One more thing to remember is that the Doctor is enigmatic. We still don't know everything there is to know about this renegade Time Lord. Part of the fun of the show is learning about the complex character and his history. But rest assured, his hearts are always in the right place.

So which episode should you start with? Every fan has a favorite Doctor and episode. I think you can't go wrong with "Remembrance of the Daleks" (1988). The 7th Doctor and Ace are a great team. Or try "City of Death" (1979), a terrific 4th Doctor and Romana story set in Paris. But ask around and check the web; other fans will send you in other directions. That's the most fun thing about discovering this show, there are so many directions to explore.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The previews give it all away., 2 July 1999

For the life of me, I don't know what gets into the people that make movie trailers sometimes. If you've seen any trailer or promo for WWW, you've seen every big surprise this movie has to offer. That's too bad because what could have been a fun film fell flat for me. Kline's Artemis is good though. I usually like Smith, but here he wasn't particularly exciting to me. Branagh's villainy is worthy of the old TV show. The design aesthetics are interesting and the effects are good. The movie isn't horrible, but it's not great. If you want to see the film and enjoy it, avert your eyes from any preview.