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Walking with Dinosaurs 3D (2013)
Looking forward to the DVD so I can watch it without sound
I found this movie visually stunning. It's the best dinosaur CGI yet...better than Jurassic Park or the Walking with Dinosaurs documentary series. Although it uses the "Walking with..." name, and apparently was produced as another film in that series, it is really much more akin to Disney's 2000 film Dinosaur. That also had talking dinosaurs as well as the same "young dinosaur coming of age and becoming leader of the herd theme". The dialog and voice acting in Dinosaur were much better than this one though. I found both of these in Walking with Dinosaurs quite annoying. I liked John Leguizamo as Sid in the Ice Age movies, but quickly grew tired of him in this movie. I should note that, as of this writing, I've only seen this in the 2D version. I plan to see it also in the 3D, which should be even better visually. Maybe I'll take some headphones so I don't have to listen to that dialog again ;)
WALL-E is an environmental criminal
The first half of WALL-E is wonderful in all respects. It has visually beautiful animation. WALL-E, and his pet cockroach are engaging characters. Then we arrive at the Axiom. It's all downhill from here. WALL-E ends up helping the human inhabitants of the Axiom return to re-colonize the Earth, although the 'evil' ship's computer tries to stop the return. These super obese human slugs are the mindless descendants of those who wrecked Earth's environment and then abandoned it. They now live in 'blissful' ignorance, entirely dependent on the ship that has been their home for centuries now. These are the last beings that have any business being allowed to settle on a still fragile and barely recovering Earth. WALL-E, however, makes it possible and effectively facilitates the final destruction of Earth's environment. The human slugs of the Axiom should have remained to live out their pointless existences, as wards of the ship's computer, until their own final extinction.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Much better than I expected...closest I've seen to novel.
With the low rating this has on IMDb, I expected this to be pretty bad. Actually, while it was obviously not a big budget production, I think it was pretty good. Not as good overall as either the Tom Cruise or Gene Barry versions, but it is closer to the novel than either of those. The alien craft look like 6 legged crabs, borrowed from some 50s giant bug movie. Spielberg got the closet to Wells' description, even though his came out of the ground. The lead character, H.G. is given a wife and son he is trying to get home to which makes him more sympathetic than his portrayal in the novel. The pastor and the soldiers H.G. has dealings with are also close to those in the novel.
Plot is a ripoff of Day of the Triffids
This episode is essentially a simplified version of Day of the Triffids. In this one, the Triffids are brought to Earth by returning astronauts. In the 1962 movie, they arrived on a meteor shower which also blinded most of humanity. In the original 1951 novel, their origin is unknown but speculated to have been part of a Soviet experiment. That's 1951 thinking! Like the triffids, these flowers spray poison and kill animals, including humans. Also like the triffids they are spreading all over the world, seemingly unstoppable. That comes to an end with a rain storm. Apparently, like the Wicked Witch of the West, water destroys them. In the 1962 movie, it turned out to be salt water that was their doom.
Helmer & søn (2006)
Way to go grandpa
Since not even a plot outline has yet been included, almost anything I say could be taken as a spoiler. First, it is not a drama; it is a comedy. Helmer is in a nursing home and won't come out of a closet. The nursing home calls in, first his son, then his daughter (with her teenage daughter in tow) to try to talk him out. It is well written and is well acted by all characters. The credits, as of this writing, lists Ditte Hanson as *the wife*. I am not familiar with Ms. Hanson, or any of the other performers for that matter, but there is no *wife* in this movie. I assume she is one of two characters, but I won't say more because that could give away too much.
Eventually emerges as a good movie
The central story is excellent. Coral Browne, Amelia Shankley and, of course, Ian Holm are all excellent. Too much time is spent is spent on Alice's assistant, Lucy and reporter Jack Dolan. In my opinion, they're uninteresting and irrelevant. Although many people apparently like the Jim Henson creations for this movie, I find them inferior copies of the Tenniel illustrations and even more poorly "operated". There has been much discussion about the question of Dodgson's feelings for Alice. One thing has been left out of these discussions or perhaps reviewers are not aware of. Even if Dodgson's feelings were sexual, that would not have been regarded as especially inappropriate in Victorian England. The Victorians might have had what we would consider repressed attitudes towards sex, but that did not extend to age differences. The age of legal consent was 12 and men often married girls much younger than themselves. The only real impropriety from the Victorian viewpoint was that Dodgson wasn't considered the social equal of the Liddell family.
not a review, just a few of my favorite images
The *cinematography*: wind blown prairies and lakes, morning sunlight filtering through the forest, sudden, brief mountain showers: Hiroshigi as an animator! Too bad they didn't work in a snow scene too; the Emishi lived in the north of Japan which gets plenty of snow.
Iridescent dragon flies.
San pre-chewing food for Ashitaka: moving and erotic.
The Great Forest Spirit/Deer God as the Night Walker: Liquid Godzilla.
Vegetation springing up in footsteps of the Great Forest Spirit and butterflies feeding in the tracks afterward.
The Great Forest Spirit's pool and the islets within: a graveyard littered with bones.
Dead Kodamas falling from the trees like autumn leaves.
One objection: The apes. They appear in three separate animation styles, the first two being well below the standards of the rest of the movie. Only in their last scene are they even convincingly apes, although even then they are not the right kind of ape. Japanese macaques are instantly recognizable with their bright pink faces and bushy gray-blond hair.
A visually stunning picture of the Mayan world
I divide this movie into three segments. The first presents a vivid picture of ordinary pre-conquest Maya. Although it's relatively short, it packs quite lot of, surprisingly accurate, *information* on their culture in that time; much more accurately than 13th century Scotland is presented in Braveheart! The society and the individuals presented are believable and engaging.
The second segment we are now exposed to a much less engaging aspect of Mayan culture. It provides, never-the-less, in my opinion, some of the most stunning visuals in the history of motion pictures. In doing so, it also continues the presentation of a lot of cultural *information*. The scale of sacrifice looks more Aztec than Mayan though and I would expect the use of cenotes (limestone sink-holes) for disposing of bodies).
The third segment replaces that fascinating, surreal and horrifying world with a heart pounding, non-stop chase, recalling Cornell Wilde's *The Naked Run*. While I also like that movie, and the pursuit is almost the whole movie, I tend to agree with those, that the chase (in Apocalypto) could have been shorter and was, at times, a bit unbelievable. Nothing individually that couldn't happen, but
Of course, like so many movies, what we are presented with is a skewed view of a culture. In reality, most days of, probably most whole years of, an average Maya's life would have been like that presented in the first half hour. Movies that concentrate on the day-to-day doings of a society, e.g. farming, don't generally play too well, although I would recommend *Hadaka no shima* to anyone.
Regarding the arrival of the Spanish, some reviewers are stating that is erroneous history, that the Mayan civilization came to and end centuries before. That is incorrect. Only the Southern Lowland centers of the so-called *Classic* era collapsed. Highland Maya and Northern Lowland centers continued to flourish in the *Post-Classic* era until and after the arrival of the Spanish. The Spanish, under Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, first contacted the Maya in Yucatan in 1517. Their description of a Maya city that they dubbed El Gran Cairo, led to Cortez's expedition of 1519 that eventually conquered the Aztecs, although his first landing was in Tabasco where he fought an indecisive battle with the Chontal Maya. The last Maya kingdom to be conquered, the Itza in northern Guatemala, fell in 1697, 180 years later!
Regarding the little girl's rash: I'm of the impression that is supposed to be smallpox, which would be appropriate with both her predictions and the movie's ending, however it actually looks a lot more like leprosy. The pustules formed by smallpox are smaller, rounder and much more abundant.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Not only better than the 1953 film, also better than the book
In the book the story is being told, in retrospect, by a survivor, a writer of works of a philosophical nature, presumably Wells himself. In spite of the hardships and moments of what must have been extreme terror, he seems remarkably unemotional. The result is that you don't get any real sense of the horror of the situation, nor do you, at least I don't, particularly care about the protagonist's fate. The 1953 movie improved upon that, giving us the plight of Gene Barry and Ann Robinson to care about. But with the 2005 film, the focus is on a single family, in particular, Ray Ferrier and his estranged children and their experiences. Yes, Ray is lacking as a father and doesn't have his children's respect. Note that throughout the early part of their ordeal, Rachel looks to her brother for comfort and protection, not her father. However, great disasters can bring out the best as well as the worst in some people. In this film we see Ray grow as a father and with that his children's love and respect for him also grows. This gives you characters for whom you can really care and makes for a much better story. Ray's attempt to sing a *lullaby* for Rachel is at once humorous and touching.
The alien machines are much more menacing than those in the 1953 movie. They largely fit the description in the book, but in this film's depictions, they are truly terrifying. Not only their general appearance, but especially, their movements and *behavior*. Wells himself states how *natural* their movements were and that those writing from second hand experience could never fully appreciate that aspect. Also, the various *tentacles* that they are equipped with are also from the book. The scene where Ray and his children look back out over the river, from which they have just escaped, seeing the tripods *fishing* the river, while still other tripods stalk the shores, zapping everyone in sight, ranks as one of the most chilling moments in any science fiction movie.
Yes, I agree that the 1953 version of War of the Worlds is one of the best science fiction films of that decade. There is no way, however, that it is superior (IMDb 7.2) to the 2005 version (IMDb 6.7). Even more inexplicably, although it has as 6.7 rating overall, for some reason, IMDb seems to have a preference for listing mostly bad reviews up front. The first 50 reviews listed have an average rating of 3.5, with 20 of these having a rating of only 1 out of 10! For those who may wonder if there is something *wrong* with them because they like this movie, take heart. Three percent of the IMDb voters give Casablanca a score of 1 out of 10! There are times when the critics need critiquing.
First of all we have the usual crowd of Tom Cruise and/or Steven Spielberg *bashers*. Nothing much is going to please these people. Worse yet, there are even, apparently, Dakota Fanning *bashers* as well, may they burn in Hell.
There are, of course, *plot-holes* and scientific inaccuracies. I haven't see a science fiction movie or read a science fiction novel that didn't have a fair number of these and there are very few that I haven't seen or read.
Some objectionable objections: 1. The wrong side of the bread sticking to the window. Wrong, we are not seeing into the room from outside. We are seeing Ray's reflection in the window, looking out. You can tell that by the visual *echoes*.
2. Ray's *silly* choice of Boston, as if it would be any safer? Until he met the camera crew at the plane crash, he thought there was only the one tripod. Moreover, as Robbie pointed out to Ray, the only reason he went for Boston is that he thought he could *dump* the kids on their mom.
3. Boston is relatively untouched. Possibly. In the book, the entire invasion was limited to southeastern England. They *breathed a sigh of relief* in Paris and elsewhere that the Martians were stopped in England.
4. Dakota Fanning's *constant* screaming. Review the 1953 film. Use a stop watch if you want. You'll find that Ann Robinson screams just as often, perhaps more so as a percentage of total dialog, and she's older than 10! If this were reality of course, you'd find Gene Barry and Tom Cruise screaming just as often.
5. Stephen Spielberg's *silly* snake like probe. No! That was H. G. Wells' *silly* idea. Apparently *silly* enough to be included in both versions of the movie.
6. For no particular reason the aliens suddenly turned into vampires? Read the book. That's what they were in the book. In fact, it turned out that the aliens had no digestive system at all and took blood in direct intravenous transfusions. The *red weed* by the way is also in the book, although there it is not a *crop* but apparently only a *hitch-hiker*, i.e. a *true* weed.
7. The aliens were not *smart enough* to realize that there could be potentially deadly germs. That, again, is another element from the book as well as the 1953 film. In the book Wells had an explanation for that. Autopsies of the aliens revealed the presence of only common Earthly bacteria. Apparently there either never was any bacteria on Mars or the Martians had eliminated them so far back in time that they were no longer aware of the existence of such life forms.
FOX didn't exactly go out of their way to promote this show
Reading the posted comments, I notice one difference between them and myself. I never even heard of this series until it was too late. I'm not exactly a heavy TV viewer, but I do watch it often enough, including FOX because I like their sitcoms, that I would have thought I would have seen the show advertised. I'm rather certain if that had happened I would have watched it and been hooked from the very start. This is far and away, in my opinion, the best Sci-Fi series that has ever been produced on Television. For that matter, it's very close to the top of all genres. It contained some of the most intelligent writing I've ever seen on television an the most interesting cast of characters. I saw the movie Serenity and liked it a lot. I subsequently bought it on DVD as well as the Firefly TV series. The Television series was even better than the movie. I would really have liked to have seen how the characters would continue to develop. Ending the series so abruptly was like being pulled away from really good sex prematurely.