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Alpha and Omega (2010)
I went to this movie not expecting much and it lived up to my expectations. None of the wolves have any real character development or character for that matter. The plot is quite bland and offers very little in the way of surprises. The trip back to Jasper Park comes a bit too easily. This would have been a perfect time to develop the two main characters a bit better or perhaps allow them some self realization. Granted this is a kid's movie, but so are all the gems that Pixar generates. This film gives no characters to cheer on, no conflict with any level of complex resolution and it just has an overall bland quality to it.
Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)
A Wasted Effort
When compared to it's predecessor, Smokey and the Bandit II is a complete waste of time. The film makers were fortunate enough to reunite the complete cast of the original but chose to make a live action cartoon instead of another great movie with fast cars, loose morals and entertaining characters. I would have much rather seen Bandit, Carrie and Cledus's trip to Boston to pick up some clam chowder, sans the Trans Am and rig, than see the weak effort put forth here. In some places the film is a sloppily done rehash of the original: Carrie is about to marry Junior again, Buford T. is hot on the trail of the Bandit with Junior in tow as a result and the Bandit is driving alongside Cledus in a black Trans-Am. Given the situation in this movie, why was the Bandit even needed? They drive the speed limit most of the movie! Cartoonish elements missing from the original include Buford's summoning of his brothers to help him catch the Bandit, a man falling out of an ambulance in a most strange looking gurney and Sheriff Justice's car being dropped from a toll bridge, only to appear again unscathed later in the film. It seems the writer of this piece of garbage said, "Let's take what worked in the original, increase its outlandishness 100 times over, add some weak one liners and throw in something for the kids while we are at it." Honestly, what minister answers a phone during a wedding ceremony? Everything that worked in part one was forgotten in part two.
Angel in My Pocket (1969)
Wasted Talent of Andy Griffith
I finally got to see this film thanks to a bootleg DVD from ioffer.com. I had wanted to see it for many years as I am huge fan of Andy Griffith. Boy was Angel In My Pocket a disappointment. It is surprising to see all the praise in other reviewers comments. It starts off trying to be a comedy but never really delivers. Is Samuel wrestling his hungover brother-in-law around the living room and tearing pajama's owned by his father supposed to be funny. The town is seemingly full of angry and bitter people who lack any charm whatsoever. Think of Emma Brandt on the Andy Griffith Show and her comical uppity ways and drama over her "pills" or the curmudgeon Ben Weaver. The feuding characters in this movie lack any of that. The potential for a subplot involving the star-crossed lovers has potential but is brought into the film too late and wrapped up too quickly. Suddenly a mayor's race is tossed in at the film's conclusion. This film is a shaky mess of drama, attempted comedy and characters that are wooden as two by fours. There is also a burlesque show that that viewers get to view in its entirety for no good reason.
All the audience knows about Samuel Whitehead is that he was a marine who paid his way through seminary while working at a brickyard. Why not a scene telling us what gave the good minister his calling? Somehow Whitehead's enabling mother-in-law and completely worthless brother-in-law have mooched their way into his home. These characters were not comical and added little to the story. The kids seem mere ornamentation and serve only as part of the dilapidated school subplot which again wraps up too quickly and arrives too late.
With the great cast, great setting and a plot full of potential, this could have been a great family classic that launched Andy Griffith into a new level of stardom. Unfortunately, all these elements never gel as they should and what results is a lackluster film with only a few chuckles here and there and little else.
Possibly the worst Christmas special I have ever seen.
Today, Hallmark aired the LHOTP Christmas episode where Laura and Almonzo's child is kidnapped and Jason in Walnut Grove is trying earn money to buy his mom a scarf. I enjoy LHOTP, but this Christmas special seemed lacking on so many levels. First of all, it was obviously summer when it was filmed. The trees were green and nobody was wearing jackets. Had Walnut Grove been south of the Mason Dixon line, this would have passed, but not in Minnesota.
The whole kidnap drama was wrapped up too cleanly. Laura and Almonzo take back Rose with just an apology and then leave the orphan boy with the family. It is obvious the woman had some mental instability and they left the boy with her? He immediately calls the man "dad" too and I highly doubt the orphanage in Mancato would just say "Oh, thanks" when they were given word the child was left behind with a family a few towns over.
In addition to these gripes, the pacing of the episode was just slow and failed to keep my interest.
Gran Torino (2008)
Great concept with average results
Perhaps I expected too much of this film since it stars Clint Eastwood. Gran Torino had the potential to be a great dramatic film, but it was poorly executed. Does the audience need to hear Walt growl at his disapproval of his granddaughter's belly button ring and at other modern day things he disagrees with? Clint Eastwood is a fine enough actor that a simple furrowing of the brow could have pulled this off. His grandson's rummaging through his old foot locker clearly establishes he was a Korean War veteran, but again this seems overdone. It was all ready been established his grandkids were disrespectful brats by the attire they wore to their grandmother's funeral. Why not a more subtle clue that he is a veteran? There could have been a Marine Corps insignia hanging in the home or even the trip to the VFW would have sufficed. As the film progresses, we see Walt cough up blood several times. It seems one or two references would have done well to let the audience know that Walt is not well.
As the film progresses, Walt's love and adoration of the Hmong children next door seems to come a little too quickly. Sure, we want him to befriend them and like them, but it doesn't take long before he is drinking beer with them and giving love advice to the kid next door.
However, the film is not without its strong points. Having Thao work off his debt by fixing up the neighborhood was a masterful move in the film. Walt is able to teach the boy something and see his old neighborhood improved. The scene where Walt rescue Sue from the three men on the corner was also very well done. It was a wonderful example of the clash between races and generations that existed in the decaying neighborhood. It was also fun to see Clint Eastwood in a "kick-ass" moment again. It brought back memories of the tunnel scene from Dirty Harry.
The film concludes with what is to be expected. Everything has been overly crafted throughout the film that the ending should come as no surprise.
The Night Before (1988)
An After School Special Starring Keanu Reeves
I found the VHS of this film in the bargain bin at a local used DVD, CD and books megamart. I thought I may have stumbled upon some lost Keanu Reeves film. It also stars Jesse's hot wife from Full House. While I never cared for Lori Loughlin's "Becky" on Full House, I thought she might do better in a more adult role. As I watched The Night Before I found it to be much like an ABC After School Special I saw years ago. Keanu Reeves had not developed his acting ability enough to engage the audience and Lori Loughlin's performance was fair at best. The story has potential as Keanu Reeves' character has to find out what happened on prom night, the night before. I am glad this average ho-hum film served as a stepping stone to Keanu Reeves' eventual super stardom, but had it been more popular, it could have sunk him too.
Brilliant and overlooked
I had never heard of this movie until a month ago when a friend recommended it. Memento's reverse concept is most intriguing and very well done. As you watch the film work its way backwards, one interesting plot twist and turn is developed after another. The film maintains a gritty quality throughout that really enhances the viewing experience. Guy Pearce is awesome as a man with "this condition" and the supporting cast performs magnificently as well. Much like Shattered, The Sixth Sense and The Game, a second viewing would not be nearly as much fun. However, Memento's brilliance makes the first viewing most memorable.
Kid Colter (1984)
All the makings of many great movies.
This film is a plethora of ingredients that make films great: comedy, drama, action. However, there seems to be no recipe to make these ingredients into something good. The film begins with a very "Lifetime movie" tone as the young boy must visit his father in a place he is not familiar. Some raccoons attempt to liven things up and draw some laughs but it just doesn't work. Soon the boy sees a cute girl in town and the film misses a great comedic opportunity. The kid is just too boring to make the film very interesting. After the visit with dad is over, the film moves on to the adventurous part. There is a kidnapping that could have been much more harrowing than him getting tossed into a car. Enter two bizarre hillbillies who are portrayed by a pair who fail to deliver on most any count. Were these guys some friends of whoever made this dud? They who thought, "He'll shoot the TV over a soap opera! That'll get the audience rolling!" The kidnappers are no better as one is dumb as a box of rocks and the other just angry all the time. After the boy is left for dead, he decides to trail the kidnappers back to civilization and decides to take them on at the same time! The film is conveniently moved along as the kid talks to himself. Finally, the kidnappers are done away with and this boy must "survive in the wild". His rescue has such a serious tone, but it is a quite ridiculous conclusion to the film. However, at this point, the entire movie is so off balance, this kind of thing is expected. Mediocre acting, an off kilter story and outright outlandishness make Kid Colter a most forgettable 80's film.
The New Centurions (1972)
A Forgotten Film But Deservedly So
I picked up this movie at a local flea market. I noticed George C. Scott was a star and it was a cop movie. Being a fan of law enforcement films, I paid $2 for a VHS copy. When I finally was able to sit down and watch it, I found it wanting. There was no central plot to the story, just the random calls that this "rookie" and "veteran" receive. It was entertaining to see the old timer's methods of dealing with the prostitutes, as well as Isabel Sanford playing one of them. The "rookie" struggles to keep his family together and turns to the bottle as the rigors of police work take their toll. There is some insight given to the lives of the officers while out of uniform, but there is no depth. The entire film seemed to have the quality that one might expect from an episode of Police Story or one of the other many cop shows that graced the TV screen in the 1970s. I found the film full of clichés about life as a cop. Of course, given this film's date, perhaps it was the "cliche setter".
Kenny Rogers as The Gambler (1980)
Fun for what it is.
I never expected a movie based on a song to be a masterpiece in cinema. The "made for TV category" suits this movie just fine. For a movie that aired on network television, this film is quite good. You have two stories intertwined: Brady Hawkes meeting his son and the history there and Brady's great skill as a fair and honest poker player. Billy Montana seemed a little to pretty to pass as a cowboy in the wild west, but the character's charm makes up for it. I was expecting the Jennie Reed character to be fleshed out a little more and maybe some more interaction between Brady and his son Jerimiah. For what the film is, it works well and is an entertaining way to spend an hour and a half.