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PLANET OF THE NYUK NYUK's, or: "I Waited 25 YEARS for THIS??!!", 28 July 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!) God in Heaven, where does one begin? I became an APES freak around 1973 and collected the toys, memorabilia, and all. I even made a fan magazine on PLANET OF THE APES. This franchise was lost in the dust for a few decades and I prayed it would return one day. Well, it FINALLY has - and I'm not so sure it's for the better.

Yes, the kids will love this film, and yes, the toys and Ape Popularity will soar once again. But Lord, what an AWFUL motion picture - heartbreaking, really, after suuuccch a long wait. When I heard that Tim Burton and Rick Baker were involved I had some hopes. As I saw magazine articles, trailers, and makeup shots I said "yeah, this may actually work!" But then I saw the finished product...and my worst fears were confirmed, my few hopes were shot down, and once again I knew that there is no escaping the wrath of today's lousy movies.

As the last 25 years or so passed before my eyes during the movie, I got disgusted, angered, and bored. Now, it's too easy to charge me with being too biased toward the 1968 original; I fully accepted some changes. Too bad every one was for the WORST. Well, enough preliminary stuff; let's get on to the movie, shall we? ---

It's treated as a silly, dumb, stupid, lame joke. It's like watching Looney Tunes on acid or something. Tim Burton reportedly had much fun with this film, even laughing after yelling "Cut!" after each shot - and it shows. Burton has NO respect for this subject and thinks the APES are funny monkeys to be snickered at. And tossing in some lame variations of classic lines from the 1968 version only hinders, and seem forced. Though the unfunny and aching silliness is what peeves me the most, there's more:

Where's the script? What little story there is is full of convoluted and illogical situations. The so-called "story" merely zips in and out of perfunctory APES scenarios: A convenient hunt scene as soon as the astronaut lands, and an obligatory escape attempt, for example.

The characters are totally uninteresting. ALL of the humans, that's the first thing. Michael Clark Duncan looks good, but offers nothing. Marky Mark is by-the-numbers and not much of an actor. People are speaking highly of Helena Bonham Carter as the girl chimp, but her character just squeals a lot and is afraid of her own shadow. Her Animal Activist potential is hinted at but dropped quickly. When she falls for Marky, it's absurd. I mean, she loves animals but does she want to sleep with them?? When she kisses the astronaut at the end of the movie, who cares, it's another loan from the original, except that at least there had been more involvement and caring between Taylor and Zira. THEY seemed to spend weeks and weeks getting to know and understand each other; this time, Carter and Mark seem to have only been introduced an hour or two beforehand. And her makeup (as with the other females) is VERY POOR. John Chambers runs circles around Rick Baker there, with his original Zira makeup from the first version.

Yes, by the way, the other makeup is very good. Particularly Tim Roth's evil-looking Thade. Pity that Roth's idea of portraying a villain here though is to snarl, grunt, hiss, and swing around the room. I was looking forward to Roth's performance most of all, but he blew it.

I don't much care for the beastial savagery and more "primitive" apes of this new feature, either. To me, the Apes were more like spoiled Monkeys, and far too irrational and animalistic to run the planet. And how does this make them so superior to the humans, anyway? These talkative homo sapiens look capable enough to plan their own revolt.

The character of Limbo was an annoying and unfunny Jar Jar Binks-type, and we needed him out of there ASAP. What a stooge. Assasinate him, please.

Charlton Heston's cameo could have been decent, had it not been destroyed by his classic "Damn Them All To Hell!" line that came off as desperate and embarrassing. It could have worked in a skit from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, but in what should be an intense and intelligent sci-fi film.

And the ending? What can you say? It is closer to the book, but comes off as confusing in its execution. It looks Stupid, obligatory, and conveniently sets up for a (gulp) sequel. Man, what a dumb excuse for a movie!!!! Whether there ever was another version or not, this is one limp knee-slapper. Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk!

Damn You to Hell, Tim Burton!!

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Better Than Nothing, but Disappointing, 26 July 2001

What this film needs is a laugh track, but even with that we've got a missed opportunity on our hands. Still in all, it's a treat to see the family reunited (especially considering how much Fred Gwynne despised his role). It's still nice to see Herman and grandpa getting into those same old jams, but what's with that Eddie? Should have had Butch Patrick return as the now-grown son.

Bluebeard (1944)
2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
John Carradine's Subtle Performance is Wasted, 21 February 2001

RATING: * out of ****

Wow, what a letdown! As a big fan of early movies and of John Carradine, I was very disappointed in this film.

Carradine's performance was beautifully restrained, but that's about all I can say for the film at all. It's hard for me to believe that this came from the same director who gave us the classic 1934 BLACK's as dull as dish water.

I've enjoyed cheap films from PRC (the studio which made this one) and Monogram, but I was bored beyond endurance this time. There is never any real development regarding Carradine's psychotic side, and too much "nothing" throughout. The giddy and upbeat musical score never let up, and I wished we could enjoy even ten seconds of silence every so often.

As I said from the start, I love early movies and furthermore, I could never understand why younger viewers are unable to get involved in them. Well, BLUEBEARD is the closest I've ever come to feeling what a teenager might experience today while plodding through such a type of older movie.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Weak Sequel Is Muddled, 20 February 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

RATING: ** out of ****

(Some Spoilers):

THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES was highly entertaining, yet its sequel cannot match (let alone surpass) it. The murders in this film are intended to be more "over the top" than in the first movie, but they're actually nowhere near as well-done or unsettling. Some of the methods border on the ridiculous and highly unlikely.

I didn't find the extra stabs at campy humor bad, although I expected to. Vincent Price might not have had much to say in the original, but at least he was quietly ominous; here he just talks TOO much as Dr. Phibes (and it's almost always the same tiresome crooning for his "Vic-tourh-eeyuhh!").

I'm not one to nit-pick at my horror films, but there were just too many senseless ideas this time (how does Phibes get a chance to get inside Quarry's home to rig the telephone? And if he has the time to manage that, why not just rob the safe in half the time? And why use robot snakes in addition to the deadly telephone?)

There is more dead weight to slow things down, and the beautiful "Art Deco" that was so consistent in ABOMINABLE is lacking here.

Robert Quarry makes a good hero (or is he the villain?) but he doesn't have much to do in his tangle with Dr. Phibes anyway, so it doesn't matter as much as it should.

At least I can say that this new Vulnavia is hotter than the original one! (or is she supposed to BE the original one?) Sigh

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Greatest Werewolf Movie Of All Time...PERIOD, 19 February 2001

Of course the Universal Horrors aren't scary by today's standards, but all the indifferent critiques from these "too young to appreciate" reviewers on this site certainly horrify!

THE WOLF MAN will always be the definitive werewolf film. Its strengths are due to a number of things: the heartbreaking performance from Lon Chaney, the creepy and misty and moody forests, the awesome makeup from creative wiz Jack Pierce, the robust music score from Hans Salter, and the overwhelming sense of mythology and legend that flows throughout the whole story.

I pity younger viewers today (as I say so often) who are incapable (perhaps through no fault of their own) to drown themselves in such masterworks like this! Sorry, kids, you won't find any pathetic humor (like in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON) here, nor will you see over-the-top werewolves oozing about (like in THE HOWLING). But what you WILL find (if you can endure the glorious black and white photography in this day of MTV and CGI overkill) is a very good classic that your negative reviews can never change!

Westworld (1973)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Why? Well, I admit that I was thrilled to see it originally in the theater at the age of 12. In those days, before Arnold the Terminator came along, it was the coolest thing in the world to see an unstoppable Yul Bryner as a killer robot stalking his prey, especially in that deserted underground complex!

This film might be my favorite for sheer FUN. Everybody would love to visit a wild place like WESTWORLD where he can live out his fantasies. But when the fun turns to danger...well, it's...MORE FUN!

This film is the perfect example of what you can accomplish in movies with a small budget and a lot of talent. It was Michael Crichton's directorial debut (long before his similar but inferior JURASSIC PARK), and I once read in a "Making Of" paperback that he said "I like to think people have fun with this film. We had fun making it!" Well, you accomplished your goal, sir!

This is the type of horror/sci-fi we need today: Fast-paced, tight, not overlong, and not over-blown with too many effects. I hear that Hollywood is planning to re-make this PERFECT adventure...Please, God, send them a plague on their first day of shooting if that would be the case!

The sequel to this great movie was the truly frustrating FUTUREWORLD, a real lame attempt at a sequel if ever there was one.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Stupid, Embarrassing Crapola, 19 February 2001

MORD39 RATING: * out of ****

If not for the cool transformation sequence (which doesn't even look as eye-popping anymore), I'd give this comedy masquerading as a horror film the BOMB.

I suffered through this dumb, silly, "nyuk nyuk nyuk", tongue-busting- through-and-outside-cheek embarrassment way back in 1981 (not much has changed for horror since then, sadly). It SUCKS. I used to blame Freddy Krueger for turning horror movies into a joke factory. Well, I was happened here first with this non-serious laughfest. It was probably the inspiration for TEEN WOLF and TEEN WOLF TOO (Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!)

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Promising Start, Utterly Ruined, 18 February 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


I don't know what all the praise is about. I started to enjoy the beginning about the puppeteer looking for a job, followed by the weird office on the 7 1/2 floor, and I laughed at Orson Bean as the peculiar boss...and then John Cusack found the entranceway to Malkovich's mind, and I actually got more disinterested, rather than more intrigued.

Actually, the story is not a new one if you've seen decades of horror and sci-fi films, as well as Twilight Zone episodes (after all, is ANYTHING original in films anymore!!??). Furthermore, there was a germ of a good story here, but as is typical of modern films, the film makers have a need to add mindless sex and/or homosexuality when all else fails. In this case, the lesbian angle was COMPLETELY unnecessary and helped ruin what should have been a better time at the movies.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Sensational Special Effects In An Ordinary Film, 18 February 2001

Even as a long-time horror and sci-fi fan, I have never been overly pleased with animation effects. I acknowledge Ray Harryhausen as a legend and a genius, but most of his "creatures" move too un-naturally for my taste. However, his work here on EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUCERS is sheer BRILLIANCE. The flying saucers look pretty damned real even today, and must have been astonishing to any lucky child of the 1950s who was priveleged enough to see it on the big screen in their youth.

Unlike modern movie nonsense (like MARS ATTACKS, and INDEPENDENCE DAY) the aliens are here for one reason and one reason only: not to make you laugh, but TO F**K YOU UP! Unfortunately, aside from Morris Ankrum, I don't care for the cast. I would have preferred a Richard Carlson or Richard Denning in the lead role, and maybe a Faith Domergue or Mara Corday as the girl.

I hate to sound like a jaded youth of today (which I'm thankfully not), but when the exciting saucers and aliens aren't onscreen the film is ordinary and slack.

Sweet Eye Candy...and...and...oh, I give up!, 18 February 2001

Here we go, another horror movie made in the "modern day era" of the genre, and a disappointment. It's actually one of the more excusable products made after the decline of horror in the early eighties, if for no reason other than that THIS FILM IS GORGEOUS TO BEHOLD. Every single frame is sweet candy for the eyes, and has the "look" of a great horror film. AND THAT'S ABOUT IT.

I was so excited that Hammer Horror Veterans Christopher Lee and Michael Gough were given parts in this film, and I suppose Johnny Depp is one of the better actors today (which doesn't mean much). But even with these three assets, I got bored.

How many decapitations do we need to see? In the good old days, if you got even ONE severed head it was exciting, and it was a "money shot" worth waiting for. But if you see endless and similar shots of heads rolling, it just gets tired REAL fast.

What a shame it is that the horror genre that flourished from 1910 to 1985 is so damned D-E-A-D today. No matter how close a film comes to capturing something (and for the sheer beauty of this movie alone, this one came close) it always misses its mark.

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