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Ziggy's Gift (1982) (TV)
9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
In my top 3, 23 December 2004

I completely agree with the last person who posted on this, which was over a year ago. "Ziggy's Gift" is is one of the top 3 Christmas specials ever made, right up there with Charlie Brown and the Grinch. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say it's better than Grinch (though Charlie Brown is still my favorite). It's heartwarming without being sappy, witty without being jaded, and laugh-out-loud funny without being crude. My family has it on Beta - which, for the record, still works! - and we watch it just about every Christmas, along with the other two classics. I'm sorry it seems to have been completely forgotten, because it really is (or should have been) one for the ages.

just what I expected, 9 June 2001

Not horrible, just cliched, predictable, and entirely too long...

"Armageddon" was more fun, though just as mawkish and even more ridiculous plotwise.

"Pearl Harbor" does deliver on the action sequences, though nothing really new there, either. And though the romance is a pretty lame attempt at recapturing the old Hollywood tradition of the wartime love story, it's partly redeemed by the lead actors, who have an appealing freshness--especially Kate Beckinsdale and Josh Hartnett. Ben Affleck isn't doing much to show his range (which at best seems fairly limited), though I have a soft spot for him because he's so damned good-looking. So is the Hartnett kid, who's likable as well as cute. There's plenty of eye candy in this film, that's for sure.

As for the dialogue: Sure, it's dumb, and as flat and canned as Coke that's been out too long--but it's no worse than "Titanic," which everybody hailed as some kind of masterpiece and which no one seemed to notice had cliches spouting everywhere and a love story I found as cheesy and unconvincing as the one in "Pearl Harbor." And even dumber lines.

That said, I do admit, grudgingly, that "Titanic" is the better film. "Pearl Harbor" tries to combine "Titanic" with "Saving Private Ryan" and comes up instead with a big hollow cheese puff of a movie. Which has its enjoyable points, but is hardly something to be savored or remembered. Swallow it whole in one big gulp and don't think too much about it afterwards. Do think, however, about the real Pearl Harbor story, the one in the history books--it merits a lot closer examination than the Hollywood version.

My favorite of the trilogy - Spoilers., 14 December 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the best and most underrated of the trilogy, hands down.

My perspective may be a little skewed, because I actually saw the Indiana Jones movies in reverse order--"Last Crusade" was the first one I saw. I think that put me in a better position to appreciate it than the '80s-jaded critics and "Raiders" fans who wrote off the third installment as an inferior imitation.

I loved it. Even after seeing "Raiders" (which I liked) and "Temple of Doom" (which I hated), the third still ranks the best in my book. And why? Two reasons, which are intertwined:

It's FUNNY--much more comic relief than either of the other two, which keeps the tone light and the pace brisk. (One exception: the scene when Donovan ends up bargaining with his Rolls Royce--lame & totally extraneous.) I actually thought that "Raiders," not "Crusade," dragged in parts--I know it's heresy to say so-- because it seemed like a never-ending chain of rather heavy tho' suspenseful action sequences, without any of the laughs that livened "Crusade." I still laugh out loud every time I watch number 3.

Secondly it's funny mostly because of Sean Connery- a stroke of casting genius. He brings flair to the whole production, yet he doesn't hog the stage--he brings out the very best in Harrison Ford. Those two have such a hilarious, wonderful rapport; just notice the -looks- they exchange on the motorcycle ride, every time Indy plows down another baddie. Priceless.

The relationship btw. "Last Crusade" and "Raiders" is in some ways similar to that btw. "Return of the Jedi" and "Star Wars." In both trilogies, the third installment recycles a lot of the material of the first, but tries to flesh out the characters and deepen our emotional connection to them. The difference? "Last Crusade" is a -way_-better movie than "Jedi," and actually packs a surprising emotional heft in the last few scenes: I LOVE the moment when Dad (Connery) is reaching out to Indy and says for the first time, very quietly but oh so effectively, "Indiana." The Christian mysticism may feel slapped-on to some, but I actually liked it. And I'm an agnostic.

All in all, "Last Crusade" didn't feel at all stale or mechanical to me. It felt like fresh, glorious entertainment--a total joy-ride with surprising depths, owing largely to Connery & Ford--and still feels fresh every time I go back to watch it.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Overlooked gem..., 13 December 1999

As a lot of other people have remarked, this is a criminally underrated, underappreciated, and underviewed film--possibly the best movie I've ever seen that falls in the category of the Critically Ignored. Even if you're not a huge Western fan (I'm not), you'll get totally drawn into the story and the acting, not to mention the direction, cinematography, and absolutely phenomenal score. (I can't believe it didn't bring home the Oscar for Best Dramatic Score--what were the Academy voters thinking??)

It's on the long side, but there's not a dull moment from start to finish, and the last half hour features one of the best showdowns ever. Actually, the movie's chock-full of super showdowns, not the least of which is a literal fistfight between Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston. Just think of them as settling their political differences. ;-)

I wish they would bring this movie back into the theaters; I can only imagine how much better it would be on the big screen. My parents got to see it that way when they were my age--lucky them! Even on video, though, this one's a must-see.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
another underrated gem..., 13 December 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

All right, maybe not quite a "gem." But a very decent movie and, if you're a sucker for love stories (which, at some level, I still am), surprisingly touching. I don't understand why it got so terribly slammed by critics; even if it's been done before, it's well plotted, pretty well paced, and has some striking visual effects; the acting is subdued but it grows on you. Craig Bierko, as the lead character (who looks like a cross btw. George Clooney and Michael Keaton, if you can imagine that), actually gets more interesting when he's not such a goody-good-guy.

Similarities to "Dark City" and "the Matrix" (esp. "DC") have already been pointed out, and they are obvious. But I saw "13F" quite soon after seeing the other two (both of which I liked), and I still thought it stood up to them. It's a tighter film, and it has a quieter impact. More than either of them, it really questions man's right to play God; both "City" and "Matrix" start out showing the negative side of that scientific god-complex but end up transferring that right to one special man, while "13F," in good old-fashioned sci-fi style, sticks truest to showing the moral dangers involved.

One small quibble (not really a spoiler, just a detail): why the continual harping on the shoes? There doesn't seem to be any particular reason why you'd have to take off your shoes to enter the simulation.