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107 reviews in total 
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Clever but not as intelligent as it wants to be., 26 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is well crafted, well written and better than most movies you will see this year. That being said, it relies on speed of delivery rather than content to dazzle. Facebook, Myspace, Google, Microsoft, Apple, social networking, and the internet in general are all phenomenon that we are currently experiencing. We don't yet know the results or effects. This movie is ambitious in that it is trying to comment "on the fly" as it were. While it's attempt to be topical is admirable, a movie is still a movie. It needs a protagonist and we are certainly not sympathetic to Eisenberg's Zuckerberg. Eduardo Saverin (played by Andrew Garfield) is truly the one character the audience can relate to and sympathize with. The real chronicle of the times is that social networking (facebook, myspace) tried to replace the social strata that exists in reality, but simply ended up imitating it.

Avatar (2009)
5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely horrible film, 10 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As usual, James Cameron delivers a visual and technological tour de force while simultaneously proving that he has zero narrative originality and horribly clichéd story-telling concepts. In a different era, a writer director that put out this leftist propaganda would have been tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail or perhaps even hung for treason. In our era of hypocrisy, no one even chuckles that a megalomaniac tycoon produces, writes or directs a multi-million dollar movie critical of the very economic conditions which ALLOWED IT TO BE MADE. Lame quasi-native American themes of "Dances with Wolves" and "A Man Called Horse" are clumsily interspersed with naive callow condemnation of corporate greed and the war on terror. A general nature worship pantheism pervades the shallow and ignorant philosophy shoved down the viewers throats. The bio-luminescent plant life is vaguely reminiscent of "Lothlorien" in Lord of the Rings and is very beautiful until you realize that from a biological standpoint it serves no purpose and thus wouldn't exist. Alan Dean Foster's "Midworld" is not the least of sci-fi authors who deserve credit or at least mention by Cameron for his "Pandora". The portrayal of the military in this film is insulting, naive and maybe treasonable.

8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Excellent tight thriller with no fat, 19 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

All I can say is, this movie contains no clichés. It is reminiscent of "The French Connection" or the good hard-boiled cop dramas of the 1970's. It is a movie that has no "fat". I appreciate the fact that they didn't dumb this movie down or add idiotic slow motion shots of actors shooting two automatic weapons while sliding or doing flips in the air. I appreciate the serious and consistent tone of the picture. Good performances from the cast especially the nefarious German bankers and good pacing by Twyker make for an enjoyable film. The Guggenheim finale set-piece is a classic. Owen's one-note performance is perfect for his role as an obsessed interpol agent.

Halloween (2007)
4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
The scariest a William Shatner mask has looked since..., 2 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...the last Priceline commercial.

First of all, here is a suggestion for writers, producers and directors out there: Don't remake a perfect film. If you want to be successful with a remake, take a great concept and make a slightly different movie. For example: Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress" -> George Lucas' "Star Wars", Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" -> "The Magnificent Seven" Halloween was the original slasher film. It's not supposed to be realistic or have a back story or explain anything. That's why it's scary. It's a monster movie set outside the Gothic confines of a monster movie. John Carpenter used every iota of creative cinematic energy to extract a perfect atmospheric low-budget film out of what could have been a laughable b-movie. Still to this day it is one of the few films to make a bright day-lit suburban street uber-eerie.

Leave it alone. The reason sequels are made and re-makes are attempted is because the original had IMPACT. It is not necessary to try and simply increase the level of violence, gore etc. You aren't achieving anything. You're just trying to create an endurance test for the audience. It becomes a game of one-upsmanship.

Mr, Zombie, if your ideas are good enough, then make an entirely new feature...the great thing about film is that you can even pay homage to your inspiration without trying to stand on the shoulders of genius and ride the coat tails of a financially viable name.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Gritty, dynamic and engrossing, 9 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The "Jason Bourne" series of spy movies has been a great showpiece for Matt Damon who coolly cruises through these films like a Tiger Shark waiting for his next victim. He is seemingly always one step ahead of the espionage bureaucrats who seek him and one move faster than the latest "asset" assigned to neutralize him.

It is sickening, but not surprising that federal government employees would devote the taxpayer time, effort and dollars to covering their behinds, but as an employee of the federal government I can assure the viewer that it is not that far off base.

While I doubt a rogue agent would alarm them much, I do know that media exposure of their training and methods would draw much ire from the public and heat from their superiors.

Damon was made for the role because he oozes confidence and competence and brings a graveness to his mission as Jason Bourne.

Perhaps a bit too much hand-held made some of the action scenes a tad bit more confusing for the viewer. This, while trying to heighten realism, actually prevents the viewer from suspending his or her disbelief which is a prerequisite for a movie with a super-spy in it.

In other words, if we, the audience, with the "third person omniscient" viewpoint can barely follow the action, it becomes unbelievable that Bourne, even with his super spy skills and instincts, could possibly predict the actions of his friends and enemies. The crowed train station scene recalled the brilliant mall set-piece in "Minority Report" with Damon in the role of the "pre-cog" who could see the future or at least accurately predict the next move of his nemesis. I thought, "Man, if one of those doors were locked, this scene and this movie would be over by now."

Hot Rod (2007)
9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Funny in the way that your friend is funny..., 9 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...And you aren't sure if everyone else "gets it".

This movie likes to party. "Hot Rod" has a real silly sense of humor and eschews most artificial plot advancers that weigh down other SNL-based film comedies.

Much of the humor was juvenile and stupid, but a good portion of that was funny enough to keep me in the seat.

I predict that either you will like "Hot Rod" or you'll hate it. I don't think it will have a "Napolean Dynamite" type following although you get the sense that that was the intent.

Lots of 80's in-jokes and spoofs that will be lost on much of today's youth who were weaned on Jack-Ass, Jim Carrey, Captain Planet and cell-phones.

5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury....signifying nothing, 27 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The immortal words of Shakespeare came to mind as I watched Michael Bay's latest abomination of cinema. Why Shakespeare? Because he was a man who with little more than a stage and a few actors and some creativity he entranced hundreds, then thousands, now millions with stories with humor and heart. Basic human dramas rich with timeless themes.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Michael Bay, a T.V. commercial and music video director with about as much soul as a cappuccino machine. He has a budget of $100 million and the best special effects that money can buy and all he can come up with is this.

This travesty. This is two-hour slickly produced, focus group honed Chevy commercial with some comic relief and some nostalgic Saturday morning cartoon robots thrown in for good measure. Is the new Camaro hot? Duh, that's like asking is Megan Fox is, well, a fox... Sure the vehicles look great and the effects were well done, but the film like it's vacuous director lacked a soul.

People will say, "'s a just a popcorn summer movie!" or "It's the "Transformers" what do you expect?" Well, I expect more than what I received for the ticket price.

I expect some attempt at an interesting plot. Come on! Herbert Hoover hid it in the dam? Please. World class beauty falls for the insecure nerdy kid? Whatever. Optimus Prime wants to sacrifice himself to save the world? Nonsense.

The film lacked scope. It lacked any sense of dramatic tension. It lacked suspense. The cartoonish over-the-top performances of Turturro and Voight were B-movie grade schlock.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Nice to see some class and style in Hollywood, 10 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After seemingly endless movies about torture and depravity, it's nice to see some class and style re-injected into the Hollywood film. "Ocean's 13" recaptures the style and charisma in the first film and maybe even brings a bit of the style of the Rat Pack back into the picture.

O.K., so it's vacuous, materialistic and lacks substance...we know that going in, so it's simply a measure of style, sophistication and humor. This movie has all that, in spades (it had to be said.) The latest installment of "Oceans" is witty and charming and even self-referential without having to try and overtly re-create successful scenes from the previous films.

Pacino makes a much better heavy than Andy Garcia, who reprises his role as the nemesis/wanna-be member of Ocean's gang.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Brutal, exhausting, brilliant and powerful, 1 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Few movies can approach the level of brutality, suspense, horror or intensity of "28 Weeks Later". A follow-up to the brilliant, eerie, low budget "28 Days Later", the sequel takes us to dark places only hinted at in the first film. I must warn you this film is unsparingly violent and mercilessly horrific, with scenes of family members killing each other.

The film contains a scene that is truly heart-rending as a man's cowardice overpowers his love for his wife as we (and she) watch in disgust as he decides to bail out in the face of an insurmountable challenge. Later, this same man comes face to face with the wife he abandoned, now a carrier of the disease, not truly "infected". She transfers the virus to him in a kiss and she helplessly watches as rage consumes him and turns him into an infected. Strapped to a table, she is subjected to his fatal attack as he kills her for the second time.

Like I said, brutal, repulsive and extremely dark stuff.

Innocent people are senselessly slaughtered by the infected in a scene that almost re-creates the story told by the character "Mark" from the first film. In that film, he describes being in a mob as the rage virus spreads and panic is transformed into bloody mayhem.

Innocent people are also slaughtered as a military force comes to terms with the concept of collateral damage. To keep the virus from spreading they target those who have not yet been infected. The abhorrent idea becomes more of a pragmatic survival strategy rather than an difficult ethical question as the disease spreads.

The only criticism I have (and what keeps me from rating the film higher)is that too many coincidences happen throughout the film which bring cast members together and into "yet another" dangerous frightening circumstance. It makes for a scary and jolting film certainly but it stretches the audience capacity for suspending their disbelief. After all, you can scarcely believe people would continue to go into dark underground confined areas knowing that survival was unlikely.

The solution to this horrible infection is clearly smaller controllable populations that can be isolated. Imagine multiple, secure self-contained areas of one hundred people or less. If any sign of infection happens it's far easier to simply segregate a small section of the population and let the disease flare up and burn itself out in 28 days. Also, to easily identify infected from non-infected in a crowd situation a simple announcement over a P.A. with instruction would be required. Tell all non-infected to run with their hands over their heads (or some similar instruction that infected would not understand) and it would be relatively simple to pick off the infected while avoiding innocent casualties.

Grindhouse (2007)
28 out of 36 people found the following review useful:
Puerile, 19 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first half of "Grindhouse" is an over-the-top, senselessly violent and gore-filled cliché of a zombie movie. Rose McGowan isn't "all-that" and the only reason any of the acting can be applauded is because the actors manage to keep straight faces while spewing some of the all-time stupidest dialog ever written. I love George Romero. I love zombie movies. You, Mr. Tarantino and Mr. Rodriguez are certainly NOT George Romero.

The second half of "Grindhouse" is a suspenseful chase thriller with an excellent performance by Kurt Russell who is deliciously menacing in his role as a psychopath. The car scenes are excellent, although "Bullitt", "The French Connection", and "Ronin" still have the best car chases. The problem with the second film is the same as the first: Tarantino (and perhaps Rodriguez) are grown men with the mentality of 14 year old boys. Their fascination with (and knowledge of) sex and violence is that of someone who has experienced neither. It's like listening to a couple of virgins brag about sex or a couple of boys who have never fought talk about fighting.

Tarantino's idea of feminism is to make his female heroins as inane, obnoxious, reprehensible and vulgar as their male counterparts. Some equality...

Cleverness is not intelligence. Kitsch is not art. Moxie is not courage. Damning them with faint praise, I can say that these films are, without a doubt, clever, kitschy, and produced, written and directed with a lot of moxie. Tarantino has an ear for dialog (even if he overindulges himself in this respect) and a thorough knowledge of pop culture and film history. I can admire his homage to films of the past, but wish he would find his own, worthy, voice as he did in "Pulp Fiction".

With his performances in these films, I think we can all agree that regardless of his directorial gifts and writing talents, Tarantino must never, repeat, NEVER be allowed to act again. His appearance on screen is distracting and nearly stops each movie in it's tracks.

Even with all this, the funky, 70's style drive-in intros and trailers are a hoot. The trailer for the slasher-horror movie "Thanksgiving" is worth the price of admission.

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