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Just watch the old movies for free
I had high hopes for this as someone who liked Breaking Bad and the trailers I had seen for this movie. I had thought it was going to be a throw back to the 1950s where Godzilla was actually a monster and people where having a hard time figuring out how to kill it. But it turned out to be another of the kiddie Godzilla saves the world battling other "evil" monsters. There were a lot of people in the theater that seemed to enjoy it and cheered whenever the big guy made an appearance. However...
There was an hour of set up before the monster action started. The actor I was hoping to see save the world got killed in a simple fall. The "hero" I guess you would call him comes home after a 14 month deployment promises his kid he will be there in the morning but hops the first plane to Japan to bail his Dad out of jail. Aren't there bail bondsmen in Japan? This same kid is stuck on an evacuation bus by his mother because she thinks its better to send the kid off by himself and wait for her husband to come home. The entire US military seems to consist of a few army units with machine guns an a bazooka, the navy of ships that has no guns, and a few tanks that decide to take up defensive positions on the golden gate bridge! The Air Force does actually try to use some technology but are helpless as the monsters give off EMP which knock the plans out of the sky.
One of the ironic parts was that even though the adult monsters are invulnerable a gasoline fire can take care of all their eggs without a problem. And oh my God what a twist when it turns out the nuke may actually go off while it's still in the city.
It's the kind of movie where the whole city is being evacuated but when the monsters fight there was still some shots of people working in a high rise office. Those are dedicated workers!! Another big disappointment was the big airdrop with the guys trailing red smoke. Since there was still tons of people in the city including the hero's wife there doesn't seem to have been a reason why they don't just have jogged in. They also try to hide and remain silent when on the ground but for some reason decide to trail the red smoke so everyone including the monsters can see their trajectory. It does look cool on the screen but it really had no purpose.
In addition to killing off Bryan Cranston early in, Ken Watanbe has nothing to do but have a worried look on his face and tell people to let Godzilla handle things. And David Strathairn has much too wimpy of a persona to be the tough Admiral who the US Government has delegated all responsibility to. Aaron Taylor-Johnson had no charisma in this role and it's hard to tell if the writing made him bland or he just is bland. They also had a little subplot of him helping a little boy separated from his parents which did nothing but add to the running time of the movie.
I got the impression that they wanted Sam Shepard for the part of the Admiral and Channing Tatum for the part of the hero and went down the list of that type of actor until they got these two.
The production team also chose to have a lot of shots of buildings that have already been destroyed, cut aways from the monster fights, and many many scenes of reaction shots of people looking on in shock and what is coming. I was hoping to see more of the monsters actually doing these shocking things then just the aftermath and the looks on people's faces.
So if you want to see another Godzilla versus the Smog Monster type of movie you will probably enjoy it. If you want a serious monster then this one isn't for you.
House of Bones (2010)
Charisma Carpenter completely wasted
I watched "House of Bones" after seeing a mention in USA Today that Charisma Carpenter from Buffy/Angel was starting in it. What a let down. I do not understand why the producers would put her in the movie then give her virtually nothing to do. As a basic "haunted house" movie it is okay. In this case the house doesn't have ghosts living in as the house itself it sort of alive. A team of ghost hunters come after going to 50 other houses none of which showed any real paranormal activity. Charisma sort of shows up with no back story as some class of medium. She is wearing baggy clothes and there is no attempt to glam her up. Okay as the story starts to unwind the ghost hunters are running around the place and about every ten minutes the script has Charisma holding her head and complaining about the evil presence. I kept waiting for her character to step up and take over or become possessed or do something else to become the focal point of the story. But no, it never happens. The part wasn't any kind of a show case, it was something they could have pulled anyone off the street and stuck in there and there wouldn't have to change any dialog. I don't understand this as they could have kept the story virtually the same but have character that gets the most screen time and is alive at the end be played by Charisma. That I would have enjoyed, this is just disappointing.
So if you want to see a "C" movie about a haunted house it's okay as a time filler. If you want to see Charisma Carpenter as I did this is not something to watch.
PT 109 (1963)
Excellent little war movie
This movie has some great characters, some nice action, humor, and is really enjoyable to watch. The fact that it's based on real life incidents from JFK's time in the Navy makes it that much better. There are some nice touches that show that the boat wasn't the best in the fleet and JFK wasn't shown as a Superman. One of my favorite movie lines is from this movie. The boat has been sunk, several men are hurt and JFK gives a little speech to try to raise everyone's spirits and concludes his positive spin by saying the "odds are with us". Robert Culp very irritated says "We are trapped behind enemy lines, no food, no medical supplies, no one knows where we are, Japanese patrols are all around us, how can you stand there and say the odds are with us??" JFK says "I guess it's a character flaw".
The 60s and 70s would have been so much better for everyone if JFK had 8 years in the White House.
The Longest Day (1962)
Excellent WW2 Movie
The Longest Day has been one of my favorite WW2 movies of all time. There is so much packed in that you can see it multiple times and still pick up things you may have missed. The only weak point for me is the casting of Red Buttons as a US paratrooper. Aside from that excellent work from many people some of whom include: Henry Fonda as Teddy Roosevelt Jr demanding to be included in the invasion with his men.
Jeffery Hunter - very good as a member of the demolition team on Omaha beach who has to take over when his officers are killed. The movie did a very good job of showing how regular/nameless people like Hunter's character would play such a big part in winning a battle and no one other than the people there ever knowing about it.
Richard Burton as the last of the RAF pilots from the start of the war. He doesn't have a big part but gets a lot in on the few scenes he has.
Sean Connery - excellent as a little comedy relief Curt Jurgens as the German general knowing re-enforcements were needed but caught between Hitler throwing a tantrum and his boss who refuses to speak to Hitler personally "Get on my knees to that Bohemian Corporal?? Never !" Richard Todd as the Brit told to "hold until relieved" and not know if the relief would ever come.
A short scene where a group of nuns arrive during the middle of a battle showing as much courage as anyone there to try to help with the wounded They had people from the French Resistance, Rommel, war correspondents, the beach masters, it seemed like they tried to cover just about every aspect, most for just a few minutes but very well done. Robert Mitchum, Robert Wagner, Roddy McDowell, John Wayne, etc.
If you like WW2 films and don't mind black & white with no gore you should love this movie.
The Tournament (2009)
Action packed and Kelly Hu is smoking!
The plot involves a tournament for assassins. Each has a tracking device implanted so they can find each other. The movie revolves around three people, Ving whose wife has been killed and is in the tournament to settle a score, a priest who accidentally gets one of the implants so is mistaken for a player, and Kelly Hu who tries to help him out. Kelly kicks ass and still looks great even beat up and disheveled. Most of the action scenes involve her fighting off one or more killers while trying to protect the priest. If you are a fan of hers definitely get this movie.
The movie actually has a lot of special effects and is almost non stop action. Ving is starting to look old but he is supposed to be in pretty bad shape most of the movie so that is okay. I think this is the first movie I have seen him in where he keeps a long sleeve shirt on the whole time.
People running the tournament hit the right note and the other assassins that get screen time all do a good job. They tried to make each assassin have their own style - grenades, RPG, high powered rifle, shot gun, machine pistol, etc. In addition to the action there is a nice sub plot about redemption - the priest, Kelly, and Ving are looking for it and it's woven nicely into the story. There are no extra elements tacked on for their own sake.
If you like this genre you will like this movie!
Terminator Salvation (2009)
CGI done by a master, plot & script by 3rd grader
This movie makes you appreciate how great James Cameron is. In the first movie Kyle Reese says he is coming from the 2024 and the Arnold model terminator was new. This movie is set in 2013 and Kyle Reese is a teenager. The basic frame work is there and the CGIs were excellent particularly the motorcycle robots. Part of this sequence is in the trailer. Another nice point was using Michael Ironside as a leader of some kind of quasi official resistance movement.
Now how the heck did they mess this up? It starts in the year 2003 where a guy is about to be executed via lethal injection. A woman doctor begs him to donate his body to science. You think oh she will be a part of the plot but no, she is not seen as a living person again. Now the guy is killed via lethal injection. He is dead but somehow the doctor must have jumped in and cut out his brain and heart and in spite of the lethal injection apparently neither organ is damaged. Flash to 2013 and the guy pops up with a functional human brain and heart in what turns out to be a terminator-lite body.
So here are the first couple of problems. In the first movie Reese said the early terminators had rubber skin and were easy to spot but this body appears perfect not rubbery at all. Ignoring that you ask why did they use the guys heart? The brain you can understand but why would they bother with the heart when there are no lungs? Well it's a plot device.
The robot with a human brain guy hooks up with teen age Kyle Reese is living in burned out LA with what seems to be an eight year old girl. Between the two of them they work out some pretty elaborate booby traps. Why are they there? You would think Reese would be the type of person to try to save an eight year old rather than turn her into a front line fighter but what the heck.
He has a series of adventures and winds up with John Conner trusting him to help rescue teen age Kyle Reese who is a captive of the terminators. Another captive is Jane Alexander who is introduced, has a couple of lines and you think, if they put in an actress of her status they would use her later in the movie. But no it's just a delightful cameo for no apparent reason.
The camp that the machines have doesn't sound anything like the one Reese described in Terminator 1 but again you can ignore that. Now we find out that the robot with a human brain was programmed by the machines to trick John Conner to come in. Okay so they built the robot and got a feed from what his robot eyes saw. Why didn't they just explode his power source when Conner was inches from him instead of this elaborate ploy? Now in the high light of the movie a Arnold model terminator gets loose and attacks Conner. That is fantastic CGI. Now Arnold kills the robot with the human brain & heart with a heart punch. Conner brings him back and together they defeat the terminator and get loose after Conner is impaled.
At this point the movie was okay but here in the last 5 minutes they completely lost me. Conner is in the desert under a canopy and his wife/doctor says his heart is damaged. Now we understand why the robot with the human brain was given a heart!! He says he will be an organ donor! His wife doctor immediately agrees and apparently they had a team of surgeons and a heart/lung machine standing by in the desert there. The blood /tissue types match and wham bam thank you mam the heart transplant is successful.
What kind of doctor would ripe a heart out of a living person in order for a transplant? The only time I saw this before was in "Monty Python's Meaning of Life". That time it was funny this time it was like a 3rd grader wrote it. What kind of leader would agree to take a living heart from one of his followers?? It was just too stupid for me.
Why was the human brain the machines choose the one from the lethal injection guy that was in a pickle jar or someplace for 10 years when they had hundreds/thousands of captives to choose from? Did you see "Frankenstein"? Or "Young Frankenstein"? Maybe the robot sent out to get a human brain accidentally dropped the good one and picked the lethal injection one. Why have the human brain at all when they could make the outside of him perfect? The outside was really all that mattered.
So if you are interested in CGI effects you might enjoy it. I did not.
First Draft of Lonesome Dove??
When I first watched the movie I thought it was an okay pot boiler. Raquel Welch is as hot as a woman could be dressed in 1860s clothes. Then I watched it again after reading someone's comments about how some of the characters are the same as Lonesome Dove. If you enjoyed Lonesome Dove, watch this it will become much more interesting. The credits show it was scripted by James Lee Barrett based on a story by Stanley Hough. No mention of McMurtry but there has to be some connection.
In both you have sheriff July Johnson with deputy Roscoe chasing a woman who is running with an outlaw named Dee. It's Dee Bishop instead of Dee Boot. Watch it and you will probably find more similarities.
If nothing else Raquel Welch is smoking hot and the rest of the cast is really solid. Take a look sometime.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Another example of too much focus on CGI
There was one reviewer who said that this seems like a Steven Segal movie made in the 1980s. I think that is pretty accurate with $150 mil of CGI thrown on top of it. The CGIs are great but you come out feeling blah about the whole thing. After the studios butchered one of the first Tarzan movies Edgar Rice Burroughs told them they could do anything they wanted with Tarzan as long as it had nothing to do with any of his actual stories. I agree with him. Either stick to the story as written (and why not since it's been popular for 20 years) or just make up something completely new. Trying to twist things around so that they sort of fit just doesn't improve the situation at all.
The actors are all pretty decent. The movie starts with a pretty strange sequence and then flips into the war montage that I had been looking forward to. I thought they would use this to explain the characters a little more fully but basically what you see in the trailers is all there is.
So where is the blood thirsty Wolverine we had expected? I thought the back story was going to set that up but other than he seemed to like being in combat they didn't show it. I had hoped his girl friend/common law wife would be Japanese but no, there is no conflict with the Samurai type anti-western father.
Ryan Reynolds seems wasted in a small part. The Blob was one of my favorite villains in the comics but here I don't know what he is. Some really strong guy with an eating disorder rather than a mutant who cannot be moved.
No explanation of why/how Sabertooth turns into the character in X-men part 1.
One of the real let downs was the cameo of Professor X at the end of the movie. He shows up just to give some of the mutants a helicopter ride in the last 5 minutes. So he knew what was going on there the whole time but just shows up then why? I have no idea, it just seems tacked on for no reason.
If you have never read any of the comics and want some mindless CGI filled action movie you might enjoy this. Other than that, don't get your hopes up.
Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Jumped the Shark
The show started out as one of the greatest, best written shows I have seen. Some where along the way they either ran out of ideas or had a fear of success or something. The original concept, that the Cylons were fighting a genocidal war against humans was thrown out when it was revealed that several key humans were actually cylon sleeper agents. If they had been activated the war would have been over the first week. It was one of the changes that completely negated the earlier, excellent episodes. It was similar to when the movie Aliens 3 starts starts off with meaningless deaths of key characters from Aliens2 or when Brad Ratner had Xmen start killing each other off in Xmen3. These things are bad by themselves but also taint all the earlier episodes. How can you go back and enjoy the first seasons of the show knowing that most of the actions by key characters are lies and completely illogical since you now know they are cylons. A bitter, bitter, disappointment.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
All action - which can be a bad thing
The movie was action packed. The stunt work was great. With CGI it's difficult to tell how much was real but it sure looked like there were people taking most of those bumps. There was a nice sort of tribute to "Goldfinger" in there with the manner of death of a woman Bonds meets and hops into bed with about 20 minutes after meeting her.
Those were the positives for me.
On the down side - I am sorry to say I didn't remember who was who from the last movie so I wasn't sure which people Bond was after due to the current movie plot and which were left over from the last movie. The main villain was kind of a shady business man. He wasn't interested in taking over the world or anything, just wanted to make money by taking over the water rights in 3rd world countries. He was connected some how to a larger group of shady business people. I don't think he will wind up ranking with the top Bond villains.
Bond hooks up with a woman who (I think) was in the Bolivian secret service but apparently was out on her own seeking revenge. She and Bond cross paths a few times but in the end he drops her off in some slum area of a city with no explanation, I guess she lived around there but that seemed a bit strange. The actress was good, looked great, but what the heck was going on there? The fight scenes were shot in the style where everything was made blurry fast by camera movement to the point where I had a hard time telling who was hitting who. At one time "steady cams" were a great improvement as they eliminated the jerky camera movements but it seems in this movie they intentionally went for an anti-steady cam look. I don't understand this style but this isn't the only movie doing things that way.
In the fights Bond seems to always get his gun kicked or knocked out of his hand at the beginning of the fight. I had to wonder why he didn't carry a backup piece or a knife or something since he had such a hard time holding onto his gun.
The climax takes place in a hotel built in the middle of know where that had tanks of easily pierced/exploding tanks of hydrogen scattered about. The secondary villain was an army general who the business people were going to turn into El Presidente with the agreement of the British and American governments. He was about to launch a coup but had just a couple of guys with him. At the time when the coup was about he take place he takes time out to try to rape a hotel waitress. I thought maybe he should be thinking about taking over the country first and raping later but apparently he wasn't taking a hands-on role in the overthrow of the government.
While Bond does kill off the 10 or so bad guys at the hotel there is nothing said about the rest of the organization that was supposed to be over throwing the government. So did that coup go on and another guy got made the new El Presidente or was the whole thing postponed? That was just left hanging. The business people still apparently had control of the countries water supply. Bond apparently blows town leaving the locals dying of thirst.
The CIA puts a kill on sight order on Bonds because he was going "rogue" trying to stop the overthrow of a government. Hasn't that been done before? In Die Another Day and License to Kill wasn't he going rogue in those too? How many times can they do that? You would think Bond would be getting fed up with his own people turning on him like that.
Bottom line is that I don't think I will watch this again even if I was given a free ticket. Once is enough. If you like mindless action you might find it enjoyable but if you are looking for a "James Bond" movie, this isn't it.