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Babylon 5 (1994)
Not just good Sci-Fi
B5 is not only one of my favorite Science Fiction series, but one of my favorite series overall. The story is told over a five-year arc, which is unusual and very risky in television, where renewal for another season is not always a given. Because of this overall arc, it's not a show you can pick up in the middle and be able to follow. It must be viewed from the start and in order, as there is a certain progression of events. The writing is very good and each of the main characters is given ample screen time to develop over the course of the series. Don't be put off by the fact that it's science fiction. It's still, at it's core, a story about people, each of whom has real feelings and hidden agendas, much like real people we all know. These people just happen to live on a space station 200 years in the future, but the themes are timeless; loyalty and betrayal, personal conflict and redemption. As some have noted, it starts off a little slow in the first season but by the second, the various story lines start rolling right along to their various climaxes, interweaving in very intricate fashion along the way. It is certainly worth a look if you aren't yet familiar with this largely undiscovered gem of a series.
Recipe for Disaster (2003)
Not the worst I've seen - but close
This movie is on the level of a badly written sit-com. There is not one original idea in it. Every gag is telegraphed from a mile away. Every character is a cartoon cut-out and there is nothing even approaching a real performance. It's pretty clear that the actors involved knew they were turning out schlock and were only in it for a paycheck. I sat through about 30-40 minutes of this nonsense before I decided it wasn't worth any more of my time. If you are looking in your local video store for a good comedy and you happen across this wretched excuse for a movie, do yourself a favor and rent whatever's next to it. It's bound to be better.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Not a great effort
This is one of the weakest Bond movies in the series. It has the usual gadgets, girls and gimmicks but the story is pretty far-fetched even for a Bond flick. I mean, really. A megalomaniacal media mogul tries to start a war to boost the circulation of his various enterprises. Jonathan Pryce is a little too over-the-top in his portrayal of Eliot Carver and Teri Hatcher has little chemistry with Brosnan. Michele Yeoh is about the only bright spot in this dismal production. Considering some of director Roger Spottiswoode's other work (Turner and Hooch, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot) it's not surprising that this turned out as it did.
A delight for all ages!
The adaptation of J.K Rowling's first installment of the Harry Potter series is, not to be too trite, magical. The children are wonderful and perfectly cast. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry strikes just the right tone of wonder, Rupert Grint plays the role of sardonic Ron Weasley as though he were born to it and Emma Watson walks a very fine line playing Hermione Granger as somewhere between a total prig and someone you'd want as one of your best friends. Robbie Coltrane makes a fine Hagrid (although when I read the books, I kept picturing Brian Blessed in the role). I would have liked to have seen more of Alan Rickman as Professor Snape, but considering the ground the moviemakers had to cover, I am very impressed with the results. All of the major plot points are covered and there is a bit of foreshadowing of events yet to come. The special effects are fantastic, as is to be expected, but do not get in the way of the story. In particular, the Quidditch match is one of the highlights of this action-filled movie.
This long-anticipated event, unlike other recent overly-hyped movies, actually lives up to expectations (at least for me) and I heartily recommend it for the whole family.
The Tick (2001)
Good, but not great
I waited anxiously for the debut of the live-action treatment of the tick, wondering how it would stack up against the comic and the animated series (one of the funniest cartoons ever produced!). While it has the same quirky, campy feel and basically the same outlandish characters, it doesn't completely work with live actors. They seemed self-conscious and holding back a little in contrast to Adam West and Dean Cain who played their roles to the fullest. Perhaps in time this cast will loosen up get into it a little more. Patrick Warburton in the title role especially needs to play it much bigger and with more gusto if this series is to make it.