10 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Beowulf (2007)
A travesty of a sham of a parody of a disgrace
24 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Short answer: If you love the old Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, do not see this movie. You will be nauseated.

Longer answer: In the Dungeons and Dragons community, there is an old joke that the characters "kill things and take their stuff." Well, Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary managed to kill Beowulf and take his stuff. Then they proceeded to kill Hrothgar, the helm of the Shieldings and take his stuff. Then they killed Grendel and took its stuff. Then, they killed Wealtheow and took her stuff. And so on, and so forth. These two imbeciles with Underwoods (an orangutan could have come up with a more sensitive treatment of one of the seminal pieces of English literature!) completely changed the tone of the poem from a serious heroic epic to just another post-modern round of "no more heroes" buffoonery.

The literary atrocities of Messers Gaiman and Avary upon the source material are as follows: 1. The poem has been dechristianized: On the one hand, it does take out a glaring anachronism (the action of the poem takes place during the Migration Period of the AD 400s-500s, when they would still be following the traditions of the Aesir religion, but the poem was written down in a very Christianized context in England, and the anachronism does add a richness to the language) The only sop to the underpinnings of the source material come in a discussion between two urinating Danes over the relative merits of Christianity and Aesir-worship, and later when Unferth suggests praying to Christ as well as Odin, a suggestion that Hrothgar rejects out of hand (perhaps a reference to the opposite situation in the poem, where the Danes throw off Christianity for a time, hoping that the old gods will smite Grendel where the Christian ones had apparently failed).

2. It is implied very heavily that Beowulf was a liar and braggart in his earlier exploits, including the race with Breca: As with many of the other changes, it seems to be part of a deliberate campaign by Gaiman and Avary to strip away the heroic nature of the source material, turning Beowulf into just another trendy 21st-century flawed anti-hero.

3. The characters often speak with a much more modern speech pattern (see, for instance, Unferth's first confrontation with Beowulf, where he comes off as much more smarmy than in the poem) that is jarring to the ear and that often seems to lead, yet again, into Gaiman and Avary's unspoken goal of de-heroizing, de-mythologizing, and de-bunking the poem.

4. Beowulf does not kill Grendel's Mother: In the poem, it's reported as fact that Beowulf kills her after a ferocious struggle. Nowhere in the poem does it suggest that she seduces him and he lies about killing her. Again, it's the old song of "everything you know is false -- there are no true heroes." 5. Beowulf fighting in the nude: Beowulf does forswear the use of arms in fighting Grendel, but nowhere does it say that he would fight the monster in the all-together, tackle-out (with only strategically-placed objects protecting his modesty). In fighting with Grendel's Mother, it is explicitly stated that he is wearing chain-mail armor and that that saves his life. I'm giving a pass to her appearance, as it's never stated exactly what either she or Grendel actually were supposed to look like.

6. Hrothgar is almost explicitly stated to be Grendel's father: No, no, NO! Nowhere in the poem was any mention of Grendel's father made, least of all it being Hrothgar, whom Grendel's Mother would not have been able to have "known" anyway, as he was a consecrated king, and it is implied that Cain's kin could not go near signs of rightful royalty. (Cain, the first murderer, who is claimed to be the ancestor of Grendel's kind, not "Cain," the not-appearing-in-the-poem whipping boy of Unferth's, that is.) 7. Hrothgar and Wealtheow have no issue, because Wealtheow will not sleep with Hrothgar due to his sleeping with Grendel's Mother, and the subsequent romantic subtext between her and Beowulf: Wrong again. Leaving behind the fact that Wealtheow probably was not as nubile in the poem as in the movie and showed no romantic interest in Beowulf whatsoever, she and Hrothgar had two sons, and as mentioned before Hrothgar had not slept with Grendel's Mother.

8. Hrothgar gives his kingdom over to Beowulf and then commits suicide by jumping off the tower of Heorot: At this point, I walked out of the theater and demanded my money back, as the movie had officially jumped the shark with no hopes of return.

In short, the movie was little more than a parody, a lampoon on a great epic.
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Falcon Down (2001)
"Star" (studded) Dreck
7 July 2004
Film...the final insult. These are the voyages of the aircraft "Falcon." Her 2-hour mission: To revisit tired, old clichés, to seek out the phone-it-in skills of William Shatner and Judd Nelson, to hammily go where too many action films have gone before!

Seriously, folks, AVOID THIS FILM AT ALL COSTS. I saw it on the Action Channel, and although it purported to be a thriller, it was bloody funny. Not that it intended to be, mind you. However, with the talents of William Shatner (Does anyone even remember he debuted with Yul Brenner in "The Brothers Karamozov?") and Judd Nelson (the jock in "The Breakfast Club," now playing a computer geek with a gun), a penchant to use every cliché convention in the book (the psycho cowboy who lives only to shoot, the overbearing use of "videotaped" confession segments --often with NO RELATION TO THE DAMN PLOT), and writers who have no conception of the laws of physics or how a bloody airplane works, I can do nothing but laugh or whimper -- "limper," maybe? In the end, all I can say is that it made no sense. It was, to steal from a far superior writer "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
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Pink Lady (1980– )
Bakabakashii no terebi desu...
11 June 2004
I caught a showing of this variety show over on Trio, and cannot say I'm overwhelmed by this relic of the Carter Years. The idea was certainly original enough: Take a popular (and actually pretty talented) idol-singer duo from Japan, team them up with a second-banana American singer and craft a variety show around it. Nice idea, lousy execution. Where to begin...

1. The writing is rivaled only by those apocryphal monkeys trying to write Shakespeare, an sad fact as Mark Evanier is easily capable of much better than this dreck (look at his consistently funny co-writing work on "Groo the Wanderer")

2. Mei and Kei are talented enough singers, and probably were talented actresses in Japan, but they didn't have enough of a command of the English language to grasp the right comic timing for the language.

3. Jeff Altman DOES have enough of a command of the English language, and he couldn't make a man being tickled to death laugh.
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Not bad, but...
31 January 2004
With the coming of the Japanese bubble economy in the 80s, anime companies were given free reign to put shows on TV, regardless of quality. Souther Cross is in the middle tier of those shows. As a sci-fi actioner, it's not too bad, although it is light on the plot department. The problem comes in two areas: Plot and character development. The characters are shallow (particularly Jeanne herself, who is a pretty good indication of what would happen if Lynn Minmay were made a military commander), and their development seems forced. Key moments (such as Bowie and Musica's romance) are flubbed poorly. As for the plot, it was unsatisfying in some ways, particularly at the end of the series. There was no real exploration of who the Zor were and the subplot with the flowers was left unresolved. Hinted romances (between Marie and Charles and Lana and Lt. Brown) went nowhere, and the political machinations of the SCA's leaders were never explained. In short, approach Southern Cross as eye candy and good solid episodic sci-fi and try to forget there's a plot.
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Casablanca (1955– )
You must forget this...
23 September 2003
I saw the pilot for the 1955 "Casablanca" TV series on the new two-disc Casablanca DVD set. Let me say this. With regards to TV adaptations of movies, it is emphatically no M*A*S*H. The show's two main actors are pale imitations of Humphrey Bogart and Claude Raines, and the plot is typical mid-50s Cold War hokum. Instead of being a taciturn, "I stick my neck out for nobuddy" saloonkeep, Rick Blaine is portrayed as a gregarious meddler who seems to moonlight as a secret agent, if his line about being able to secure 24 different passports for himself is any indication. The acting was substandard, and the writing was so bad that the Epstein Brothers should have demanded their names be taken off even though they didn't write it! In other words, and let me make this succinct: Stick with the original 1943 film. AVOID THIS CHEAP KNOCKOFF AT ALL COSTS.
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I'm Shocked
20 March 2002
"Andy Richter Controls The Universe" is intelligent, witty, and doesn't stoop to toilet humor, instead letting the natural talents of its star and the wackiness of the plot shine through. In short, it's everything, outside of the Simpsons, that Fox isn't. Whoever let this gem through to broadcast should launch a coup at NewsCorp.
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The best of the three
15 March 2002
"Duck! Rabbit! Duck!" is the best of the "Hunter Trilogy." From the ubiquitous sign gags that only get funnier (Daffy: You dirty dog... Bugs: And YOU'RE a dirty skunk! Daffy: I'm a dirty skunk? I'M a dirty skunk!? Sign: Dirty Skunk Season Elmer: Blam!) to the wonderful ending where poor Elmer gets driven mad, this short is a laugh a second, and one of the prime examples why Chuck Jones will be missed.
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Queen of Swords (2000–2001)
21 October 2000
"Queen of Swords" is nothing but a ripoff of the old Zorro legends, updated with the current "Xena"--ass-kicking girls craze. I have nothing against strong female figures on TV--"Dark Angel," for instance is a great show. But show some originality, please -- the main character is nothing but Don Diego de la Vega with breasts!
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5 June 2000
So far, this is my only exposure to the City Hunter series, but I can already say I like it. Kamiya Akira-san is hilarious as Ryo, who is sort of a lecherous version of Magnum, P.I. The scenes with him and Kaoru are wonderful, especially when she pulls out a never-ending arsenal of hammers to bash Ryo with. Then there's the plot. The film is extremely tight in its plotting and manages to balance the action and tension of neo-film noir with the lunacy of Ranma 1/2. I can't recommend this one enough.
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It should be seen as a document of its time
26 May 2000
We are in a time now in which it is socially correct to "sweep under the rug" any material which may be uncomfortable. "Bugs Bunny Nips The Nips" certainly fits this bill. The stereotypes of Imperial Japanese soldiers are vicious, with depictions of Japanese as coke-bottle-glasses-wearing "Mr. Motos." It goes without saying that in this day and age this treatment is by no means pleasant, proper, called for, or tolerable from anyone calling themselves a thinking person. That having been said, We shouldn't discard this document as casually as we would anti-foreigner canards from the far right today. "Bugs Bunny..." was produced during the Second World War, at a time in which the United States was battling against Japan. It should be shown in classes to foster discussion on the origins and dissemination of racial stereotypes during a time of war.
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