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viv-15

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3 reviews in total 
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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Harmless entertainment, 1 July 2005
7/10

You know... I've seen this a couple of times and I'd see it again. It made me laugh. It was charming. It was a harmless flick; no psyches were harmed in the making thereof. Granted, no real thought needs to be put into watching it. But it was fun, and I enjoyed it.

Christina Applegate especially impressed me, which is noteworthy as -- at the time -- I really disliked her as a result of really disliking "Married With Children." She was not only good in her role but, I have to say, pretty much won me over.

I can't say that the film made me wish I had siblings or a dead babysitter, but it did entertain me, and it made me smile to remember it watching this review, which has got to be worth something.

"Rose Red" (2002)
Above-average entertainment but weak in points, 3 February 2002
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Overall, I enjoyed "Rose Red." It had a number of notably scary bits that saved it from mediocrity, despite some poor acting (or poor direction to the actors). Of course it wasn't a terribly original story, but I was watching it for entertainment, not philosophical enlightenment, and I was not let down.

Spoilers follow--

It's a story about a haunted house (with the now-obligatory novel tie-in), and it's a Stephen King tv movie, so go in expecting some schlock -- a statue pulling off its face and opening its eyes, etc -- but it's enjoyable schlock. As for the source of the haunting not being clearly disclosed, as some reviewers have complained, I think it was done well -- the thing to realize was that the story was not just the haunted house, you had to pay attention to the subtext. They made a number of allusions to the house as a person, starting from the very beginning and continuing on through voiceovers and Joyce's quasi-lectures -- some people are just bad, and there's no reason for it, and such was the case with Rose Red. Rose Red, the house, was a psychic energy amplifier, that just happened to distort and force the worst out of the people supplying the energy.

Ellen Rimbauer was portrayed throughout as a victim of her husband, so she would be an ideal source to supply the house with the energy it so craved. Why did she disappear? The house was one of her few true friends; to her thinking, it obeyed her and made her happy, and if it ate a few men along the way in order to keep her and the other women alive, well, they probably deserved it. Why did Ellen "live" on, continuing to build the mansion? It was clearly some sort of enduring punishment for the perceived misdeeds against her, perpetuated against the hapless visitors to the house and her husband's descendants. (You'll notice that April was held blameless and indeed honored by becoming a part of the house's formerly-human residents, perhaps due to her being 'victimized' by the withered arm which Joyce noted Ellen blamed on her husband's philandering. Compare to Steve, who is taunted and led astray starting as a child. Is Joyce, then, 'adopted' by Ellen, because of her mistreatment at the hands of men like Professor Miller? That would seem to be the case made by her ephemeral appearance in the tower beside the others.)

The reason this story works is that it's not operating on just the top "scary haunted house" level, the haunted house is the veneer over the sex, lies, and bitterness which form the real story. This could have been clearer in a medium like a novel, but if it had gotten any more obvious in the miniseries we would all be complaining about being beaten over the head with the plot-bat.

I give it seven of ten stars. I won't rush out and buy the DVD, but I'd recommend it to other Stephen King fans, and if there was a novelization written (with more character development) I'd certainly read it.

Evolution (2001)
Better than I expected but not as good as I'd hoped, 20 June 2001
4/10

"Evolution" is the George W. Bush of comedy movies: proving once more how lowered expectations can actually work in your favor.

I only went to see this film because my fiance really wanted to go. I was worried that Orlando Jones was just going to reheat and dish out his 7-Up ads character, that David Duchovny was going to laff it up with inside jokes about X-Files ("I know these government guys"), and that it just wasn't going to be funny. I was surprised on both counts: Jones turned out really quite a good performance, hitting high points with comic lines and still pulling off the relatively serious mien of his college professor role believably. Duchovny, on the other hand, phoned it in. He seems to have forgotten the difference between acting deadpan, and acting at all. I swear the only time his face moved was when they were singing along to "Play That Funky Music" in Jones' character's jeep -- and then, it was only his lips.

I'm not a really picky movie viewer. My one criteria for "good movie" is that I don't mentally heckle it until after the credits start rolling. If it entertains me for the entire time it's on, it was a good film. "Evolution" made it for about half an hour. By the end, I was amusing myself by looking for continuity errors and other gaffes -- and I'm not even the type of person who usually catches that sort of thing. I mean, a character can be wearing a different colored shirt from one minute to the next and I won't notice until someone else points it out. So if I notice that in one scene Duchovny's dripping with shampoo from head to toe and in the next when he's locking lips with Moore he's got a few token drips over the hair but hardly any on his face, it's either a big error or I'm *really* bored.

The last thing that detracted from the story was the toilet humor. Big alien farts and sphincters just aren't that funny to me. One or two can keep the movie lively. The grand denouement though, --. There are probably dozens of 13 year-olds who thought it was the funniest thing ever, but as for me, I thought it was tacky and tasteless. (I also hated "Kingpin" and "Dumb and Dumber," if that gives you an idea of what I think is tasteless.)

In terms of content, "Evolution" had an okay premise. "'Ghostbusters' meets 'Men in Black'" it was not, but it could've stood on its own with a little more work. Alien meteorite falls to earth, bringing with it its own creepy-crawlies. The effects were quite good, I thought -- the little blue "dog" alien was so cute that I could hardly blame the Avon lady for trying to pet him (although you know that it was going to lead to no good), the dead flying aliens were realistic, and the insect-like ones were downright neat. The score was well-done and fitting.

I went in expecting to exit the theatre wishing I could retrieve the previous two hours of my life. I actually came out with a more favorable opinion than I would have thought. Whether that's a good thing or not is anyone's guess. :)