Reviews written by registered user
stevewest-1

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113 reviews in total 
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Troy (2004)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A different subject matter., 10 March 2005

I only became aware after doing some research on the internet that Troy was based on Homer's Illiad (which is on my "to read" list). My initial impression was that Troy was in the vein of Gladiator, although covering a different subject (which it is).

The performances seemed a bit stilted initially, I was worried that Eric Bana might be falling short on the acting skills. I noticed all the other actors including Brad Pitt gave the same delivery which left me conclude that perhaps they'd done too many takes in a row. I got used to that anyway or it wasn't a problem, the events of the film were interesting enough that it fell by the wayside. The casting was good, I always think Brad Pitt does well in non-pretty boy roles, even Orlando Bloom who's still riding the post-Lord of the Rings wave suits his character overall. It's reassuring that Eric Bana had the presence to pull off his role convincingly, and this film will surely look good on his resume.

Troy doesn't have much in common with Gladiator except it involves war and is set in ancient times, it covers different themes and is more philosophical, thanks to Homer no doubt.

Troy was a pleasant surprise for me, the film was better than I thought it was going to be. I can understand how small things can affect how big a film is in the high pressure environment of the US box office, but with its worldwide presence it'll still be remembered in years to come.

10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
The early timeline of the current Iraq war, 17 February 2005

I thought plans for the Iraq war began when certain members of George W. Bush's first term cabinet came into power. This documentary makes it clear that people were forming plans to invade Iraq even in the Clinton era. It's not just Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld who came up with the idea, there was a clear desire for the US and ally Britain to remove Saddam by military means fairly soon after the first Gulf war, in UNSCOM's early days.

Ritter does not narrate the documentary but his interview footage appears extensively. "In Shifting Sands" was made before the 2003 Iraq invasion, but it illustrates and fills in the background of how the war came about, even if this was not it's intention. Another thing highlighted is how the UN has become corrupted by one or a small group of nations (The United States and allies). UNSCOM became a US tool, UNMOVIC even more so although that didn't last long. If the US and Britain were prepared to let the matter of Saddam remaining dictator drop, Iraq would have been correctly declared as WMD free a decade ago, sanctions would have been lifted, the UN would still have it's integrity and a war would have not been initiated. Maybe Saddam would have acted up again, who knows, but if UNSCOM had been allowed to give its final verdict on Iraq WMDs, the West would have known Saddam was not a threat. I applaud Scott Ritter for making this film and think a lot more highly of him (after the unflattering remarks about him when he resigned) having seen it.

"Futurama" (1999)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Futurama - my recollections and thoughts, 16 February 2005

In the early 90's there was a Simpsons magazine, one issue had Matt Groening talking about a show set in the future he'd like to do, with celebrities as heads in jars and other ideas that frankly made Groening sound like his newfound success had started to go to his head (I guess he hadn't worked it out that well at that stage). Now fast forward almost a decade. The show was a lot different that early idea I had and looked like a regular professional show. I was skeptical as I was with most shows when seeing them for the first time, the first episode I caught was "A Flight to Remember" (they screened around 12:30am here). I quickly grew to like the show and despite missing 2-block episodes or tuning in halfway through I was a firm fan by the time I saw "Anthology of Interest part I". A show willing to add video game references was a rare, precious thing indeed (I can't remember if I'd already got wind of the show's cancellation by then). Luckily I saw seasons 1 and 2 going cheap in a DVD store sometime in 2003 so I was able to catch up on the episodes I missed so far. I procured season 3 not long after, and despite season 4 episodes being shown on the air early last year I watched them anyway. "The Farnsworth Parabox" put Futurama in my top 5 favourite TV shows. After much scouring of sold out stocks of season 4 I finally managed to get it from the same DVD shop on special. I have just today finished watching the DVD commentary on all 4 seasons.

Turning my attention to the show itself, it has a number of unique qualities. There aren't too many science fiction comedy cartoons around, and out of the cartoons this is the best-animated so far (as far as I know). South Park had some cool 3D animations occasionally but they are amateurs in comparison. Futurama's effects are the kind that just blend in and serve to tell the story, they're not saying "Look at me!" but just telling the story in a way few shows can. With the amount of sci-fi, science, computer and movie references I was sure the show was broadcast to a narrower audience than the Simpsons to use a handy example. I also felt that the spirit of the Simpsons (as in the show's excellence) had been transferred over to Futurama, it wasn't that good in the start but it really seemed to pick up in the later seasons, especially season 4.

Which brings me to the show's cancellation. Here is a show which has gotten into the zone and has many great seasons and stories and character development to go, and it's no longer on the air just like that. Futurama was a show that was cut off in it's prime. I am thankful that it lasted long enough to get into it's prime, but it's always a shame to see a quality show when much trash abounds get terminated by unimaginative/unappreciative network executives over in the US. I've learned more recently that the makers of Futurama were in an uphill battle from the start, David X. Cohen describes the person he and Matt Groening pitched the show to as accepting it on the spot, but everywhere else they describe Fox as being unfavourable toward the show, wanting jokes changed, and wondering why it wasn't more like the Simpsons. "It is like the Simpsons - new and original" was Groening's response. It appears Fox had just wanted to cash in some more on the Simpsons phenomenon, and when they realised Futurama was its own show they probably saw it as taking up valuable network time, perhaps they kept it long for as long as they did out of respect for Matt Groening. I'm convinced the matter of Futurama is settled in their mind (a petition, the largest one for a TV show yet was sent to Fox but they were not moved). The window for it's return is closing as it's been almost 3 years since the last one was made, 4 seasons of Futurama is better than nothing of course so we've got that to enjoy. I'll miss it.

"Roots" (1977)
29 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
Completing the picture, 29 January 2005

I was born in 1980, and had heard of Roots from reading about LeVar Burton being the only real "name" to join Star Trek: The Next Generation. I came across the boxset at my local library and was able to find out what this "Roots" thing was all about. Having the series on DVD was definitely a boon as (despite being in NTSC) it has a crisp and clear appearance, usually stuff on TV from the 70's or 80's has a characteristic fuzziness.

Despite it's lowish budget, and age, Roots has a certain kinetic energy, it kept me interested from the start. Being able to see a young LeVar Burton was great, and without any visors or contact lenses. The casting was excellent all around and the actors put in 100% effort. My only bone to pick was using two different actors for Kunta Kinte. They were physically very different, John Amos doesn't look, act or sound like LeVar Burton, which disrupts the sense of continuity the rest of the multi-episode characters had.

By the end I found I had become quite involved with the series and enjoyed seeing it unfold, I liked it so much I viewed the whole nine hours again with commentary (well, I had time to kill). It is interesting that Roots carries a sense of history (as in the late 70's) and culture with it, it's not just a TV show, there's a whole air surrounding it. I'm glad I got the opportunity to see it, I gained a clearer understanding of where African-Americans as a people are coming from, and I hope everyone who hasn't seen it yet gets the opportunity to do so.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A small film with a well-known action star in a non-action role, 29 January 2005

Some time has passed since I've seen Liberty Stands Still but I think my review is warranted given the mixture of reviews so far. The film is shot in Vancouver, and I remember Phone booth (which I haven't seen to date) was doing the rounds at the time so this film was cashing in on the buzz perhaps. I rented this because I like Wesley Snipes. My main problem with this film as it unfolded was that Snipes didn't get off the chair, almost all his scenes had him looking through the scope of a sniper rifle and talking on a mobile phone to his target. Liberty Stands Still isn't a bad film, but having an action star deliver only dialogue and the majority of the film taking place in one area does conflict with one's expectations. This is really a small film which for some reason Snipes thought he might join in on, the only reason why it attracted any real attention is because of Snipe's name on the cover.

Identity (2003)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Good but a bit cheap and gimmicky, 3 January 2005

Identity has a good cast, non-stop use of those rainmaking setups and an entertaining story. I could tell they were going to pull a fast one at some point when the red herrings were being dropped and we were kept guessing who the killer really was. The twist was about as farcical as I expected, however most people don't seem to mind given the IMDb rating (currently 7.2), and reviews I've read of another film with an infamous twist, Fight Club.

I don't think this is supposed to be a big film, so for what it is (90 minutes of entertainment) it's not bad. The film's greatest asset is it's cast.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Missing one vital ingredient: Chris Tucker, 24 December 2004

Friday took place in the ghetto, in Next Friday Ice Cube's character now lives in a wealthy neighbourhood. This means from the start that the basic formula is different, and the absence of any familiar character except Ice Cube, who was one of the weaker characters the original means that it's a film with a tenuous connection to the first. In essence Next Friday is almost a completely different film from Friday. It is still passable, it carries enough energy for the viewer to not become bored, but the original seems highly original and inventive in comparison. It seems to be capitalising on the success of the first rather than creating a true sequel.

24 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
Wildly Varying in Quality, 12 December 2004

I haven't seen all the Outer limits episodes, but when I have tuned in I've seen some quite good episodes almost like a one-hour movie with good (if lesser known) guest stars. Others have been embarrassing to watch or just plain average, it seems the way they did things was to have mostly low budget "filler" episodes and save up for a great, blockbuster episode every now and then.

The Outer Limits seems to offer both the best and worst of TV, I say overall it's not a bad effort but viewers like me may lose patience when it starts to seem like a long time between good episodes. I'm surprised the show ran as long as it did, with every science fiction-themed show outside of Star Trek and Stargate being cancelled at the first opportunity.

I, Robot (2004)
Good for what it is, 6 December 2004

Being a fan of Asimov and having read all the Robot novels and short stories I was interested to see how this would turn out when I heard it was being made and was a separate story in the mold of a Robot short story. Having now watched the film I was on the whole pleased, it was overall a good film with no major weaknesses. Will Smith is good in this type of role (Bad Boys, Enemy of the State) and doesn't disappoint, Susan Calvin however was a typical "Hollywood" casting job, maybe I need to re-read the short stories but I always imagined Susan Calvin as more of a typical female scientist type, something along the lines of a (heterosexual) scientist version of Ellen DeGeneres, but casting hot-looking women as the scientist seems to be the established order...

The whole murder plot was really what carried the film and made it interesting, and disposing of robot control made for a good climax. I felt I had seen the "A.I. imprisoning humans to protect them from any possible harm" thing before, more than once, that was the only real area where the writing let me down. With these sorts of films (eg. Paycheck) I'm willing to sit back and enjoy the ride rather than look out for inconsistencies, as long as they're minor I'm willing to overlook them. I, Robot gets a thumbs up from me and I hope to see more science fiction adaptions of this standard in the future (perhaps a tad higher).

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Good middle-of-the-road science fiction show, 31 August 2004

This used to be on at 7:30 Sundays in the mid-90's, it saved me from countless hours of tedium during weekly visits to my grandparents for dinner every Sunday.

Seaquest created the underwater near-future world quite well, it had interesting stories and good actors, notably Roy Schieder, the second in command (also seen in "Seven Days") and the guy from 21 Jump Street. The show never really recovered after Schieder left although I'm sure they did their best under the circumstances.

Seaquest DSV was a show that was easy to like and one of the few deep sea-related shows around (there's not too many movies either). There was even a Seaquest DSV game on the Super Nintendo, brought back pleasant memories at the time.


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