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Star Trek (2009)
An Insult to Our Intelligence
Just as the 3 "Star Wars" prequels ruined the Star Wars franchise (though I never liked it to begin with), this new "Star Trek" prequel is a damaging blow to the Star Trek movie franchise, and this prequel crap needs to stop now. The pathetic writers of this new Hollywood generation can't come up with any new, creative ideas, so they just keep going back in time (as they did with "Batman Begins") with established franchises, as if we need to see over and over again how the characters we love so much got their start. And the BIG problem with this new "Star Trek" movie is that they TOTALLY foul up the history of these characters and then insult our intelligence by having Spock (Prime - the older Spock) say that his actions altered the course of history (which, we learn, is why Kirk's father dies on the day of his birth this time around). What a lame, poor excuse for why the history of Mr. Spock, Captain Pike, Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy and even Chekov is so radically different from what it is in the Original Series and its Original movies. What is different? For one, in TOS, Kirk first served under Captain Robert April on a different starship, and had years of experience as a first officer before becoming captain. In this movie, Kirk's serves with Captain Pike of the Enterprise first, right alongside Spock, and on his FIRST day of service he becomes first officer and then on the very same day is suddenly promoted to Captain! Quite a leap up the ladder! In TOS, Spock is supposed to have served under Captain Pike 13 years before he and Kirk meet. Also, Dr. McCoy suddenly becomes Chief Medical Officer on the very same day that Kirk suddenly becomes Captain. Wow, what a coincidence! This movie so ridiculously rushes the whole thing, but it's OK because Spock altered everything, right? In this movie, Chekov is on the bridge as navigator even BEFORE Kirk ever steps foot on the Enterprise. That means he has MORE experience than Kirk! So in TOS how did Kirk become Captain while Chekov was a lowly ensign? Oh yeah, Spock altered history. And Chekov is said to be 17 in this movie. When did he start at Starfleet Academy--when he was 13?! Finally, this movie has no intelligent (or even intelligible) story. It has a ludicrous story of the Romulans (who look like a biker gang in this movie) creating Black Holes out of planets. And this movie is all action and loudness with dizzying camera shaking, which totally goes against TOS's cleverness of playing on ideas rather than action. Abrams has no business in the "Star Trek" franchise, and I hope he never makes another "Star Trek" movie. But I guess as long as they make plenty of $$$$, it doesn't matter. That's more important than being faithful to the characters and history of the show, right?
A Rare Gem
*** May Contain Spoilers *** "Fireproof" is an unpretentious and honest look into the complex obstacles that couples in marriage face, and it illustrates the incredible sacrifice that both partners must make in order to overcome those obstacles. Despite this very serious foundation for the movie, "Fireproof" manages to examine the obstacles in a comfortable, very entertaining and often funny way, thanks largely to a talented and colorful cast and a clever script that does not let up in heart. Kirk Cameron is very convincing and pleasantly funny in his role. The frustration he expresses as he tries to win back his wife's heart is often hilarious (reminiscent of his physical comedy from "Growing Pains") and, at the more serious moments, even tear-jerking. The movie boldly tackles situations such as extra-marital affairs and internet pornography addiction, which would certainly cause audiences to reflect on their own behavior and vices. The movie asks people to look at themselves and their own actions, and to seek ways to better themselves, and it does this delicate task in a very inspiring way. Those willing to self-critique will find the movie an excellent eye-opener. Those who are not so willing will probably find the movie uncomfortable. I found it to be engaging and truly the best movie I have seen come out in many years.
The Dark Knight (2008)
A Total and Complete Disappointment
****WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS HERE*** This movie is a monumental disappointment. I had seen all five of the previous Batman movies on the big screen, and I watched as they kept getting worse and worse and worse. I hoped that this one would break the trend (and with all the raves surrounding Heath Ledger's "great" performance, I really thought it would), but it did not. This movie is so trite and so absurd, and what is most reprehensible is that it suggests that there is no Good vs. Evil anymoreas a matter of fact the movie closes with Batman himself being chased by the Gotham Police(!). And constantly throughout the movie Batman (now suddenly called "The Batman") is seen as being the reason behind all the murders, robberies, and destruction the Joker is perpetrating in Gotham City. By the way, Gotham City here does NOT at all look like the Gotham City that we know; it is Chicago pretending to be Gotham City, which is very boring. What happened to the stunning production design that Gotham City is supposed to have?!!
As for Heath Ledger, he makes a great impact in one of his first scenes in the movie (when his sudden killing of a gang member serves as the punch line to a joke), but after that scene the Joker's energy totally dwindles away and he becomes another smart-aleck, philosophical killer and even downright boring. In an attempt to keep things entertaining with the Joker, the movie resorts to dressing him in a nurse's outfit (a cheap laugh).
To make a quick comparison, "The Dark Knight" is very much like "Live Free or Die Hard" (and a million other movies) in that everything is on the verge of complete destruction and chaos at the hands of a villain, and like Die Hard 4 (When are needless sequels going to stop?!!!!) it tries to replicate the feel of 9-11a real-life tragedy that should not be incorporated into comic-book stories like Batman. Batman himself makes a pathetic showing in this film, as he is much clumsier and more ineffective against the villains than ever before. But then again, why should he even try when everyone is calling him a "vigilante killer"? When I was eight years old and saw the first Batman movie at the theater in 1989, seeing my favorite comic book character brought to life in such a stunning way was a dream-come-true. Had "The Dark Knight" been the movie that was released instead in 1989 (especially seeing Batman getting chased by the cops at the end), I would have been devastated. Now as an adult, I can honestly say I am disappointed.
Blaze Glory (1969)
I had the absolute joy of discovering this short film for the real-life daughter of the man who played the banker, Hawley Lawrence. She had not even known that this film (which has priceless footage of her long-departed father) even existed and we both received great joy (and lots of laughs) in seeing it. It is wacky, nutty, totally insane and really leaves you impressed with the incredible effort it took to do those special effects shots (especially the invisible horses!). I can't help but wonder if the makers of "Blazing Saddles" took a few ideas from this movie, which was released three years before it (in 1969). The scene that cracks me up most is when the stagecoach robbery begins and the hero title character is bathing nearby. He reaches out with twigs to get his costume before he can make his rescue attempt. Hilarious!
Miami Vice: Forgive Us Our Debts (1986)
Pefect Perfect Perfect. Amazing stuff
I can't believe nobody has written a review on this masterpiece. So I guess I'll have to do it. I don't know where to start, except that only 3 can make an episode like this. Only 3! The other crappy seasons couldn't make an episode like this in a million years. This episode along with 3 was the only time Vice was a gritty, dark, realistic, and fascinating show. There's nothing special about the other seasons.
Forgive Us Our Debts is one of those many many episodes from 3 that is pure perfection. Just amazing to watch. The episode has such a strong, powerful story, unforgettable characters, slick, film noir cinematography and music that is sizzling as ever. Also two songs that heightens the suspense and atmosphere of the episode. This is the most realistic Vice episode ever. Crockett and Tubbs go against the most ruthless, sleaziest, and just downright dirty characters that's right out of real life.
The performances of Guy Boyd, Val Bisoglio, Bill Raymond, and DW Moffet are so realistic and amazing. Of course 3 has so many episodes that feature powerful performances by many great actors. Episodes such as When Irish Eyes Are Crying, Stone's War, The Good Collar, Shadow in the Dark, Streetwise, Down for the Count Part 1-2, and The Savage. Also many many more. You can't be 3. It's so PERFECT! The other seasons are garbage compared to 3.
This episode is one not to be missed. It's also got the biggest surprise upset I've ever seen in the history of film or television. The cinematography of the episode by Tom Priestley is gritty and very realistic stuff. Watching this episode you keep saying to yourself, " This is amazing stuff. The kind of the thing you don't ever see in the other four crappy seasons. Ever! This episode feels like and looks like a film noir/ murder mystery that deals with our hero's looking for missing evidence of a crime that took place six years before. The accused is also a few hours away from being permanently extincted by the electric chair. Like I said before amazing stuff.
The climax of this episode is the best ever in a Vice episode. Even though every climax in 3 is so great. This episode has the best climax. It starts off with a fade in of the prison and Boyd's character receiving his last meal, head being shaved all while thinking about the chair that waits him. You can feel the tension in him and on yourself watching this masterpiece. I can go on and on, but I don't want to give it all away. The entire climax lasts for a thrilling, pulse pounding 8 minutes. Another thing that makes the climax so perfect is the soundtrack that brings shivers down my spine. The song "Standing on the Outside", by Meatloaf from his Bad Attitude album in 84 is gripping and WOW!!
To sum it all up. This is the real Miami VICE. All of 3 is Miami VICE. The rest of the seasons are a bunch of colorful, kiddish, MTV Cops seasons. Stuff for the kids. 3 are for adults and people who respect stories and characters over cheesy, crappy stories that feature endless and endless of scenes of color and rock starts. That's what the other seasons are about and that's why they SUCK! Stick 3 with and only 3 and you will be shocked at how PERFECT it is, just like Forgive Us Our Debts. Amazing stuff!
Pure Action Pure Excitiment Pure Fun Pure Vice !!!
This episode kicks butt. Whoever doesn't like this episode needs to get their brain checked. It's so much fun to watch and the action is non-stop. The last reviewer from above I have one thing to say: What the hell is wrong with you? The episode starts with a bang and finishes with a bang. Another perfect episode from 3! 3 is so perfect in every way. It sweeps the other mediocre seasons under the rug and lets not even talk about the disastrous, pathetic, and completely awful season 4. Ouch! This episode also is not only perfect, but features the best antagonist of 3 Reb Brown. What a show he puts on. I love it. This is one hell of an episode that features wall to wall action. Also the cinematography is great, the music, the cast, the action, and everything else. A Gem! It's not a 10, but a 20! Perfect!
Miami Vice: Duty and Honor (1987)
Perfect in every way
This episode from the greatest season ever of Vice SEASON 3 is so great. The episode alone has more plot and character substance than the entire Season 2. The Savage is very detailed story that is cleverly written and that is very intense. The episode also features probably the greatest actors that ever appeared in a Vice episode. The acting is flawless and features some great performances, especially from Micheal Wright who turns in a chilling performance as the serial killer/assassin known as The Savage. I don't want to give away any of the plot, because it's very exciting and it's just superb story. This episode is something none of the other seasons could of ever made. All the other seasons are very kiddish and no matter what everybody says SEASON 3, is the greatest of all time. Whoever doesn't like it, doesn't understand the importance of plot and characters. SEASON 3 is for adults, and this episode is no exception. It's a very gritty episode, that is highlighted with a dark and seamy tone. Just a perfect episode. Pure Vice, pure entertainment. Skip the other seasons, and watch SEASON 3. It's the only one that really matters.
Miami Vice: Cuba Libre (1987)
Everything you want in a Vice episode
A very underrated episode. The people who don't like SEASON 3, are the people who don't understand the importance of plot, characters, drama, and a hell of a story. A gritty story, an intense story. That is what SEASON 3 is all about,and that is why it's the greatest season of Vice. There isn't one single bad episode, such as the other seasons, which have their share of bad episodes. Cuba Libre has a great story that centers around government politics, money, and set-ups. Also great action, music, and steamy settings. Everything you crave for in a Vice episode. The episode begins with a exotic party and ends with a shootout in the a jungle type atmosphere. Half or the story takes place in the jungle and the setting gives the episode such a realistic, steamy feel. You can see the perspiration on Don Johnson. The supporting cast is terrific as always is Jan Hammer's music and everything else about this great episode clicks nicely.
You Never Can Tell (1951)
I first saw this movie as a teenager on AMC during a lazy afternoon and it was an unexpected pleasure. When I read the brief summary of the movie, which read something like: "A murdered dog comes back to life as a man to hunt his killer," I actually expected a somewhat hard-boiled detective movie, despite the obviously outrageous premise. And I had no idea who Dick Powell was. The movie turned out to be very light-hearted and I was thoroughly entertained. Many light-hearted comedies of that era (early 1950s) make the mistake of just throwing in a lot of cute scenes and dialog and, though this movie does feature such scenes, it also has a lot of quite clever humor that keeps even the more cynical viewer satisfied. Even the murder mystery plot has intriguing aspects. The movie has a kind of fantasy atmosphere throughout that I really enjoy, and Dick Powell was never more likable than he is here. This role was perfect for him (unlike his earlier role in "Murder My Sweet"--see my review). I highly recommend it for good family fun.
Murder, My Sweet (1944)
A big casting mistake.
I taped this movie about four years before I finally brought myself to watch it entirely, and the reason for that was Dick Powell. Powell, of course, was a comedic actor/dancer in the years before this film, and was pretty good, but as a hardboiled detective he simply does not work--Powell does not have the toughness that the role requires and his physical build is a joke. As one other reviewer pointed out, the plot takes a backseat in Chandler stories, as this one does. Marlowe, here, meets two different clients at different times and it is all too predictable that their problems will intertwine, with predictably confusing and ultimately uninteresting results. As I watched the movie, I couldn't shake the idea that Powell was just pretending to be tough the whole time--his voice isn't even cut out for the narration. Also, almost all of the other characters are pure cardboard, with one exception: Claire Trevor. Trevor's performance is absolutely wonderful and our first glimpse of her in that white, bare-midriff dress is one of the most amazing sites in movie history. Powell ultimately took roles better suited for him, especially his light-hearted role as a detective in "You Never Can Tell."