Reviews written by registered user
thekaj

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11 reviews in total 
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"Jericho" (2006)
98 out of 159 people found the following review useful:
Meh, I just don't know, 27 September 2006
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The premise is certainly interesting enough. A small town seemingly cut off from the rest of the world as civilization itself might have gone up with a mushroom cloud. It's a story that has been effectively told in the book Alas Babylon and the miniseries The Day After. Those are big footsteps to follow in, and I'm not too sure this show can do it.

For one, the characters all seem too artificial. We have the wayward son, the bullheaded father, the strong "glue" mother, and the brother who stayed loyal to dad. There's also the standard 2 girls for our hero to fall for: beautiful woman with past history, and hometown girl who can fix machinery. Plus there's other characters like the stranger who knows how to do everything (while apparently 98% of the rest of the town can't understand concepts like how to start a generator or how bad radiation is), outcast boy who pitches in to help, snotty rich girl who spurns outcast boy at first but is won over by a can of pop, and a host of other one dimensional characters with a single role to play, which is usually just to provide a way for the main characters to highlight their knowledge or show how heroic they are.

Like I said, the premise is sound. I want to know who or what caused these attacks. I want to know how wide spread it is. I want to see how the town survives. I'm just not at all convinced that I want to see the story unfold through these characters. I'll give it a little more time, but most likely I'll just stop watching and read up on the storyline if it survives the year.

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
War of the Terrible Movies, 24 June 2006
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow, I noticed that my TiVo had recorded this off of SciFi, and I had hoped that it was the movie based off the book. Sadly, this was instead based off of someone's childish nightmare. I'm just amazed that someone could screw up a storyline that was already drafted, and stood the test of time.

First off, scenes are disjointed and frequently make little sense, as we're bounced from one scene to another with no transition. At one point, the main character is trying to get to his brother in another town. The aliens attack, and in a blink of an eye, he's found his brother in some rubble. In another blink, he's lost the guy he's been traveling with. But never fear, after one of the movie's few transitional scenes, he picks up another companion.

The issues this movie attempts to tackle are also dealt with rather ham handedly. At first, they're a loving family, celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. Then one phone call later, the main character is literally proclaiming that he doesn't love his work more than the family. Subtle. We also have a pastor who clicks from a man of complete faith, to one of severe doubt, to a non-believer. Again, there's little to no transitions between the three beliefs.

Then there are the little random annoyances. We're treated to a random selection of alien weaponry. First, they're grabbing and stabbing the fleeing humans, then they're frying them with their death rays, then they're eliminating them with their poison gas (easily foiled by moving about 5 feet off the ground), then they're spewing out some sort of acid spit. There's also the randomly appearing characters. Need some woman to test the pastor's faith? Hey, there she is in the rubble! Need to work back in some characters you dropped a while back? Look at that, they found the main character, who's been randomly walking all over Virginia! Other that that, it's Mr. main character walking around like he's the last man on earth.

This is a truly awful movie. It makes little sense, bounces from scene to scene, and acts as if subtlety is more alien that the invaders. One wishes that someone could buy up the rights to War of the Worlds, so there'd at least be some gatekeeper to keep every two-bit hack from putting another knife in the corpse of a once great science-fiction classic.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Zombie Genre may have passed Romero by, 1 December 2005
5/10

With the exception of only seeing parts of the original Day of the Dead, I've seen all of Romero's Dead movies, and just got done watching Land of the Dead. In this day and age of fast moving and suspense packed zombie movies (including the not-actually-zombies 28 Days Later), Land seems like a dinosaur. Like a sci-fi movie using matte paintings and spaceships held up by strings.

First, there are the plot holes that are covered in depth in other reviews. Why is money still valuable? Do they not realize it means nothing without the full faith and credit of the US government? And how does Hopper's character maintain control? He has one valet type person, then the rest of his goons apparently know full well they're stuck in, pardon the pun, dead end jobs. The whole simplistic, he's just evil, greedy, and powerful character treatment might have worked 20-30 years ago, but I expect a bit more explanation and motivation in today's stories.

The characters themselves are cardboard cutouts. We've got a loner hero that seemingly welcomes other team members without question. A heroine that switches from zombie-kicking action star to squealing helplessly when the hero starts slipping off the front end of the big rig. A short guy who isn't around long enough for us to figure out if he's some underworld kingpin or not. And an equally short changed revolutionary leader with sick son that makes you wonder if there was a story line there, but Romero thought he'd confuse people by introducing more than one plot point at a time.

Then there's the action. I think I sort of jumped once or twice at something unexpected. Every other "scary" moment, I saw coming a mile away. George, the "guy hears something, looks one way, only to then look behind him to see zombie about to snack on his brains" got old several decades ago. Using it multiple times in this movie makes it even more predictable. And yes, people have intestines that are apparently quite tasty to zombies and fun to pull out. While the film is quite gory, by the climax, I was actually bored of seeing all the blood and guts. It wasn't "oh gross!" but "another shot of someone's intestines being pulled out?" This movie would be great 20 or 30 years ago. Today, it just seems hopelessly dated in the face of other movies that actually evolved from the genre that Romero helped establish.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Such a waste of great potential, 21 April 2005
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was excited for this film the first time I saw the trailer depicting giant robots in New York City. As a fan of such other homages to classic sci-fi serials like The Rocketeer and Flash Gordon, this looked to be poised to be even better. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

The visuals are nearly top notch, with the sepia tint and soft focus really setting the tone. My only minor complaint is that while the all digital scenery works great for things in the background, whenever characters were close to something digital like a wall or piece of equipment, it looked too fake. Yes, it's supposed to look somewhat fake, but instead of the "oh, that looks very sci-fi!" I was thinking "oh, that's a poorly integrated digital effect." So while it's a great experiment to be an all blue screen movie, it didn't appear that the technology was quite up to snuff for this film.

While the movie looks great, it sure doesn't work in other ways. Both the plot and characters are very poorly written. Secondary characters seem to have a minimal amount of thought put into them. The newspaper editor is there only to express concern for the safety of Polly. Bai Ling's character is only there to strike the occasional menacing pose, and knock Sky Captain around a few times. Dex is there just because you need a sidekick. Franky is there only to provide a love triangle. And Kaji is apparently only there because they felt the need to blatantly rip off John Rhys-Davies' character from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Besides these functions, the secondary characters have little to no use. As far as the lead characters go, both Law and Paltrow do decent jobs. Although I don't really feel much chemistry between them.

The plot is the main disappointment. Although it's an action film, I rarely felt like I was at the edge of my seat. Perhaps this was because I never felt that Sky Captain seemed all that great of a heroic pilot. He only manages to destroy one of the invading robots (which makes me wonder why the other 500 robots felt the need to retreat). His other mercenary pilots get their planes wiped out on the ground, while he manages to take out only a few flying robots before he's told to stop. And he only really survives the underwater battle because he's surrounded by British pilots who take torpedos hits for him. On top of this, in the end it turns out that they're fighting to stop something that's been lifted out of a James Bond movie. And the major plot twist, while not something I foresaw, actually makes it LESS climatic than had they not decided to "twist" it!

In the end, this is a movie that falls apart in its lost potential. What could have been a timeless throwback to the glory days of the sci-fi serial, instead makes the homage TOO good in also including the wooden one dimensional characters and flimsy plot points that were the hallmark of so many of those movies from the 40's and 50's.

The Core (2003)
Okay most of the way, then it gives up, 22 June 2004

This movie wasn't half bad. It's just that the part that was bad came at the end. In order to enjoy this movie at all, you of course have to abandon all sense of scientific reasoning you have. Okay, I can accept that in a popcorn disaster flick. The characters are barely fleshed out. Also a requirement for this genre. And you can guess from nearly the start, who's going to die, and starting when. Check and check.

But there are some issues that put this a cut below the standard disaster movie. The first, as mentioned by a lot of people, is the sub-par f/x. These days you expect really good stuff getting destroyed. And they do deliver somewhat. Rome takes a beating, and so does the Golden Gate Bridge. But where a good disaster flick shows all of San Francisco going kaput, this one cuts off at the bridge, and then shows the aftermath. I'm reminded of the NBC movie 10.5, where they spent their money on one shot and then had the audience imagine the rest. Sorry, but if you expect me to turn off the rational part of my brain, my "make up the rest of the scene for you using my imagination" part of my brain turns off too.

And then the ending. Okay, planet saved (like you couldn't guess), required people dead. Now what? The creative juices seemed to fail the writers at that point, they threw something together, gave the geeky kid one last thing to do besides looking stressed, and called it a day. It just fell way too flat for an ending.

Good, but easily could have been great, 15 February 2004

This definitely was a good romantic comedy, but take out about 3 minutes worth of footage, and you would have had a great movie. The plot has already been done before in Groundhog's Day, but this does change it up enough, and Sandler and Barrymore's characters are likeable enough to make it worth the while to see this one.

The problem is that it almost seems like after they had this great romantic comedy in the editing room, someone remembered that this is an Adam Sandler movie, and it HAS to have some gross lowbrow humor in it. So intermixed with the great scenes, they inserted cut away shots of walruses doing some trick, or a one liner from a secondary character like Rob Schneider or Sandler's coworker. Most of these feel tacked on, aren't that funny, and they all take away from the timing and either the romance or existing humor of the scene.

In the end this movie suffers, although not fatally, from an identity crisis. Not knowing if it wants to be a straight laced romantic comedy, or lowbrow romantic comedy.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Best intro for Washington State, 22 November 2003

As a native Washingtonian who grew up to Almost Live! the thing that worked best for me was that the show was basically one big inside joke for those of us who knew the area. Sadly, this is why the show really wasn't all that funny in syndication. When I met out of state residents at college, I would insist that they watch the show in order to understand the area. That way, they could learn that Scandinavians live in Ballard, yuppies live on the East Side, and rednecks live in the South End. These are vital things to know!!! It's no small coincidence that Almost Live ended up coming out with a guide to the northwest video.

It was always great to watch this show before SNL, and take pride in the fact that a bunch of local talent consistantly creamed the pathetic attempts at comedy produced by the national "talent" in New York. I just wish KING TV wouldn't have decided to pull the plug on the show (it was making money, but they wanted to make MORE money), and that stars like John Keister and Pat Cashman would have been able to springboard into the national scene to share their talent with the rest of the country.

Volcano (1997)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not horrible movie if you loose the kids, 26 May 2003

I've seen this movie about a half dozen times now just stumbling on it on television. I would actually say this one is better than Dante's Peak, although both require you to suspend any knowledge you have about volcanos.

The problem with this one though is in any plot point involving kids. Not that they're bad actors, it's just that they've either got really bad lines that they have to say or are involved in particularly unbelievable scenes. The daughter's response of "my dad" to the question of "what beats lava?" in a game of Rock Paper Scissors was particularly annoying. Every time I hear that line, I can't help groaning. And Tommy Lee running across half of Los Angeles to grab her and a little boy while a building is falling on them also gets a roll of the eyes. It's almost like the writers contracted out the writing of any scene with a kid so they could focus on the action.

Other than that, it isn't that bad of a disaster movie. Especially if you compare it to other films of that genre. Tommy Lee again does his "guy in charge barking orders and getting dirty" roll, and the supporting cast does a decent job. It's enough to kill a night when you've got nothing better to do, but don't expect anything more.

Writers from The Simpsons did this?!, 30 March 2003

At least this show's claim to fame is that a Simpsons writer or writers are responsible for this abomination. I hope they mean just some intern who was called in to write 30 seconds of filler material.

The premise is that the Pitts family is cursed/unlucky. They attempt to make comedy out of this through situations like having some obsessed jilted prom date of the father try to rub out the rest of his family while being a nanny for them. Some jokes might (and I stress MIGHT) be good for a laugh on the animated Simpsons, but fall completely flat in a sitcom. Stuff like having a business called "Mailboxes & More, Plus" show up briefly all the time on the Simpsons, and they're funny as they're so under the radar. But this show managed to run the joke right into the ground instantly. Oh, and their dog is named Lucky. Get it? They're unlucky, so they've got a dog named... Yeah, that's as good as it gets.

Overall, the show seems like something pasted together by Fox underlings. Take one standard family, add a unique twist, INCESSANTLY overuse the canned laugh track (which make lame jokes even more lame), attach a name from one of their successful shows, and pray they can milk it for a few episodes while their next reality show is in post production. This from the people who brought you the cancellations of shows like Undeclared, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, and Futurama. The Pitts truly is. (expect to see that line in every review you see from now until it gets the axe)

Meteor (1979)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Fun(ny) movie to watch, 21 October 2001

When I watched this movie, I had it pegged as being made somewhere in the mid to late 60's, maybe early 70's, given the special effects. So seeing that it came out in 1979 knocks it down a few notches. The special effects would have been decent for the 60's, but are downright laughable as a late 70's effort. Given that it's a disaster movie, the acting isn't bad at all. That's thanks in no small part to it being filled with high quality actors who really should have known better. Perhaps the same agent who convinced Mr. Connery to do this also figured Highlander 2 was pure gold as well. Two things that made me laugh quite a bit: The water pouring into the subway station near the end looked more like chocolate milk than muddy water. And does anyone else notice that the "meteor music" played any time it was on screen is almost identical to that of the "V-Ger" music in Star Trek:TMP which was released just two months later?


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