Reviews written by registered user
|26 reviews in total|
Wow! There's just so many positives to this show. The cast is perfect for the roles they've been given, the villains are intriguing, and the special effects are a hell of a lot better than most of the cheap-ass special effects that I've seen on other TV shows (including a lot of the shows that are on SyFy.) However, what's best about this show is the sarcasm from the sidekicks, as well as the son and the daughter on the show. Most of the humor for the mom and dad comes off as corny, but the humor from the others is both fresh and biting. My fiancé and I have both been watching the show since the beginning. The more we watch the show, the more that we get drawn in by the series. I can't believe it's getting canceled.
Perhaps the biggest failure was the fact that the writers (David
Benioff and Skip Woods) and the director (Gavin Hood) gave only a
cursory glance at the source material, made the assumption that its
content was either too deep or too intelligent for movie-goers, and
proceeded to wipe their respective asses with it. Then they listened to
the fans who wanted to see all of their favorite characters in the
movie, listened to the top dogs at Marvel who loved the marketing
opportunities (like the line of action figures for the movie) and then
threw every mutant with a recognizable name that hadn't already been in
X3: the Brett Ratner POS...and they even threw in a few who were
unfortunate enough to have been in that dung heap of a film.
So, my favorite comic book character (Deadpool - the Merc with the Mouth) gets screwed to hell with no chance for a spin off film, and we got a junk flick with a meandering plot, no character development, and no value whatsoever. I want my $8 back.
I took a bunch of friends, most of whom never read the graphic novel,
to see the midnight matinée of this film. Here is the conversation we
Me: So, what did you think?
Female Friend 1: It was good. There was a lot of boobs and butts. And that guy's wang all the time...why didn't he wear clothes?
Me: Dr. Manhattan. In the comic he stated that he hated the artifice of clothing, so he hated having to wear clothes.
Male Friend 1: It was a lot more dramatic than I though it would be. It's not the action film that the trailer makes it look like.
Me: Yes, but I warned you about that ahead of time. I told you there wouldn't be a lot of action in it.
Male Friend 1: I know. I'm just saying, I still expected more action. It was still a great movie, just not what I expected.
Male Friend 2: That was a great ending. It really makes you think, y'know, what would you do to save the world?
Female Friend 2: Yeah. Like, where are the lines in the grey area between black and white?
Me: So, overall opinions?
Female Friend 1: I loved it, I just coulda done without the sex and nudity.
Male Friend 2: And the gore. It was pretty gory, but it was also awesome.
Female Friend 2: Yeah. It was pretty awesome.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, based on all of the positive ratings that I've seen so far, I am
starting to think that Avi Arad paid a lot of people to give this film
a high rank. And all of the B.S. about this being a film for true fans
of the Punisher...I was reading the Punisher and Punisher War Journal
when most of them were wetting their diapers. I have followed the
Punisher since the first appearance of Jigsaw (whose transfer from the
comic to the big screen made him seem tremendously stupid, weak, and
This film sucked on multiple fronts. Its only saving graces were Ray Stevenson as the Punisher (who was the most perfectly cast person for the role,) Julie Benz as the damsel in distress (who was the only one in the film capable of pulling off a convincing accent,) Wayne Knight as Micro (an integral character from the Punisher comics that was left out of the other two films,) and the massive amounts of ridiculous violence that was doled out throughout the film.
Ironically, the film's biggest problem was that the violence that made it great also made it very dumb. Some scenes were hilarious (like when the Punisher pops a roof-jumper with a mini-missile,) but some scenes were wholly unbelievable and unbearable (like when the Punisher punches his fist through a guy's face.) Some of the violence was what I would expect from a Troma film like the Toxic Avenger, not from a Marvel comic book movie. It was ridiculous.
Another big problem from the film was the portrayal of the Punisher's first recurring nemesis,Jigsaw, along with his brother, Looney Bin Jim. They were also horribly miscast with Dominic West and Doug Hutchison, who made their characters pathetic caricatures with such over-the-top Italian accents that they practically crucified their own performances. The costume designers for the film only exacerbated the problem with positively dreadful clothing decisions for Jigsaw and Looney Bin Jim.
Most of the problems of the film can be laid squarely on the shoulders of Avi Arad, who obviously doesn't believe that the Punisher can make a truly successful transition to film, so allowed this crap to bear the brand. However, director Lexi Alexander and the costume designers should have to shoulder a lot of the burden. Alexander needs to learn that acrobatics don't equal action, and that bad accents, bad outfits, bad wigs, badly stereotyped caricatures, and impressively horrific amounts of bad-guy goons do not make for a good action flick.
It's amazing that Julie Benz was able to shine as brightly as she did in such a confined and minimized role. Stevenson only gets credit for looking and sounding like the Punisher from the comics. His performance, however, wasn't near the caliber that Thomas Jane gave us in the second attempt to bring Frank Castle to the screen.
When you consider that my single complaint was that the film was not even an hour and a half long, and yet I still have so much to say...That should tell you something. From the opening sequence - a near-black background with pitch-black lettering spelling out "Property of the U.S. Government Do Not Duplicate", then in white lettering little official statements about "designate Cloverfield" and where the camera was found...It was already exciting. The editing in this film was stupendous!! The action was incredibly realistic, so much so that a suspension of disbelief was entirely unnecessary. I was immediately drawn in, completely immersed in the events, horrified and excited by each new happening and all that threatened to happen next. There was action, horror, comedy, drama, and intense realism all rolled up into basically eighty minutes of film! At the end of the film, many people sat through the credits expecting there to be more, seemingly unsatisfied, as if there had been no resolution...but I disagree. The events in the film did resolve themselves. But from beginning to end, this film was like nothing I had ever experienced in a theater. Blending the first-person-camera concept of the "Blair Witch Project" with the Monster in Manhattan ideas from "King Kong" and "Godzilla" with the harsh-realities-of-love-in-a-war-zone story from...well, pick any war flick from the bunch; this film stands on its own as the first extraordinary action flick of the new year! It was truly amazing! A definite nine star film!
Most of what was good about this story was completely ruined by poor
direction from Marcus Nispel (director of The Very Best of Cher...if
that tells you anything) and really wretched editing. From beginning to
end, Marcus Nispel's drudgingly slow, poorly lighted work falls short
on every opportunity to make either an artful movie, an action flick,
or a dramatic film. Sadly, Nispel seemed to be going for the trinity
without the experience or know-how to realize any one of the three.
Throughout the film, none of the actors were given the dialogue or development necessary to bring their characters to life, so instead they simply drudge through the film merely hoping to reach the end...much like the audience. Any of the characters that could have been likable were virtually silenced and rushed in and out of their screen-time to make way for the barrage of extensively slow fight scenes. Unfortunately for the audience, Nispel seemed to love using the slow motion action sequence to an extremely unhealthy, nearly torturous degree.
Consider, movie-lovers and would-be-directors, that the following points would have made the film so much better:
1.) First, this film should have been brighter and more colorful in the emotional scenes, playing on the beauty of North America's forest lands (something akin to Last of the Mohicans). Instead, Nispel chose the constant dark din of an evil rain forest from Tim Burton's nightmares. It is understandable why Nispel did it, trying to convey the idea that this was a dark time for the peaceful, nature-loving Native Americans. But truthfully, even Burton would have favored some brightness and color over the constant bleakness.
2.) Most of the action scenes should have run in real time like Jet Li's "Fist of Legend", or been sped up to have a harried urgency like Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" or the Jason Bourne flicks. More importantly, get rid of all the rehashed slow-motion stealth shots stolen from Stallone's "Rambo", Schwarzenegger's "Conan", and Norris's "Missing In Action" films. Those scenes have been done to death in modern movies! ***Note to all would-be-action-directors: Nothing makes the predictability of a crappy film more obvious than unimaginative action scenes stolen from bad action flicks.***
3.) The characters should have been given more dialogue and an actual range of emotions, including supporting characters such as Jay Tavare's Blackwing and Nicole Munoz's Little Sister. We are never given the chance to care about these characters, so we never give a hoot about what happens to them, even though their roles are integral to the impact of the story.
4.) The introduction of Ghost (Karl Urban) as an adult should have included at least five to ten extra minutes of his life within his own tribe, (before the onset of the Viking antagonists) for character development and emotional attachment to his adopted family. Without this, we again find ourselves not caring about important pieces of the story.
5.) And finally, the Viking lords Gunnar (Clancy Brown) and Ulfar (Ralph Moeller) should have been given greater scope, so that they could be depicted as both incredible warriors and truly despicable beasts. We should be begging for them to die, yet admiring them for being truly impressive bad-ass bastards. Instead, they come off as no more frightening than Skeletor and the Shredder of the He-Man and Ninja Turtles cartoons, respectively. In the end, we feel cheated; especially considering that Brown has previously shown that he has the chops for playing versatile bad guys.
All in all, this film looked bad, played worse, and stank of skunk-beer-and-stale-popcorn vomit the whole way through, courtesy of one truly bad director. Unless the "Alice" project with Sarah Michelle Gellar comes away with an Oscar and the title of Highest Grossing Film of 2008, Nispel looks like he'll be joining the ranks of crap action directors like Uwe Boll, Renny Harlin, and Rob Bowman.
***Note to all of the good and gentle Buffy fans: Pray for Gellar. She'll need it.***
When looking at Norbit as a theatrical release, anyone with a
functioning brain and some idea of who Eddie Murphy is has to give
credit where credit is due...to Eddie Griffin and Katt Williams for
providing most of the redeeming value of this film. Props also go to
Cuba Gooding, Jr. for ditching his usual role of the likable good guy
character to play the equally likable snake-in-the-grass of this film.
As for Murphy in his usual trio of roles...I gotta say that I'm actually getting tired of it. Sure, in "Coming to America" he was damn funny, but he shared the credit with Arsenio Hall, who also had four roles in the film. By the time Nutty Professor II came out, Murphy's multiple roles had already become tiresome. It seems more like egocentrism and the need for a bigger paycheck (probably to keep up on the alimony and child-support.) Murphy has proved his chops as a fine actor, and earned an Oscar nom to back it up. It only demeans his own talent when he picks up on three one-dimensional characters in a poorly-made comedy just to grab a few laughs. He may as well just hang a sign around his neck that says "Hey, remember when I was funny?!"
As for Thandie Newton...as accomplished of an actress as she is - and she is, make no mistake - I can't help but see her in any film and completely agree with Murphy's character Rasputia: that girl needs to eat something! Newton has always looked way too anorexic! And this factor always diverts my attention away from her finer talents. My ability to focus on her performance rather than her appearance requires way more effort than should be expected for less than ten dollars.
Then there is director Brian Robbins...and I struggle to actually attach the word "director" to his name, when "unimaginative tool" seems so much more appropriate (you may also substitute any of the following for the word "unimaginative": phony, lackluster, humorless, talent-less, useless, boring, etc.) Sadly, I am trying to understand why Murphy went ahead and did a second film with Robbins (see "Starship Dave" at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0765476/ for more info). With a slew of bad films under his belt (The Shaggy Dog, Ready to Rumble, Good Burger, need I say more?), I am beginning to believe that Robbins actually sold his soul to the same satanic underling that contracted with the likes of Uwe Boll, Renny Harlin, Rob Bowman, and Michael Bay. (To his credit, though, Bay earned a large measure of redemption with Transformers. It was almost enough to make up for Pearl Harbor.)
All in all, the best aspects of this film came down to three performances: Eddie Griffin as Pope Sweet Jesus and Katt Williams as Lord Have Mercy, the best Pimp & Protégé duo since Mike Epps and Scruncho played Baby Powder and Baby Wipe in "How High;" and Cuba Gooding, Jr. as the gold-digging, fraudulent boyfriend of Newton's 'Kate' character. Those three actors, especially Griffin and Williams, made the movie funny, and, if not truly enjoyable, at least tolerable. For them alone did I rate the film as high as I did.
Just when I started thinking that Uwe Boll has a monopoly on turning
great story ideas into horrible movies, Renny Harlin shows up and
reminds me once again why he is the undisputed king of crappy cinema.
Behold the evidence of his royal pukie-ness: one more in an endless
stream of butt-stupid movies.
When the metaphysical power behind witchcraft is an addiction more seductive and self-destructive than heroin and crack combined, what happens when a super-junkie finds a way to steal the power of others just to keep riding his high? Though the original plot and storyline of the film were quite intriguing and solid ideas, Harlin and screenwriter J.S. Cardone managed to infantilize the dialogue so that even crack-whores and NASCAR fans would still think it was pretty lame.
Then Harlin added his special touch; that indefinable quality of his that perfectly demonstrates his utter lack of imagination. He turned what could have been a phenomenal battle of supernatural powers (I was hoping for the Dark Phoenix versus Emperor Palpatine on Steroids) into a schoolyard scrap involving explosive water balloons. Sadly, Ken and Ryu did it better in the original Street Fighter arcade game.
Harlin dropped the final nail in the film's coffin by casting a bunch of no-talent rejects from Melrose Creek, 90666. It was probably because no self-respecting actors would have tied themselves to this sinking ship. Apparently after doling out a trifecta of trash with "Driven", "Mindhunters", and "Exorcist: The Beginning", Harlin was hoping to suckle from the same teet that nourished Andrew Fleming's "The Craft" and Aaron Spelling's "Charmed." Unfortunately that breast has shrivelled up and gone, and all we are left with is a boob who fancies himself a director. Pity for us.
So here's the gist of it: Phoenix Black, a pretty young woman in China
two hundred or so years ago, a one-dimensional victim of the director's
need to rehash the silly-teen-girl-who-loves-to-shop jokes, inherits
the powers of the White Dragon via simulated computer-download. Because
she's in love with the Prince, she must fight to save him from the
country's top assassin, a man named Chicken Feathers. She is aided by
Gene, a young man with an impressive knowledge of modern forensics.
Throughout the course of the story, though, Phoenix finds out that Chicken Feathers is a decent man, and falls in love with him as well. Now she must learn where her loyalties lie and uncover the mystery of who hired Chicken Feathers to assassinate the Prince.
To be fair, if you can stomach the first twenty minutes of silicon-age silliness blending with feudal China affairs, and the last ten minutes of western-world make-me-puke-mega-happy-endings, then the rest of the show ain't so bad. Though the wire-fu is growing tiresome, the sword play is decent. The love story is slightly appreciable, though on the whole less than respectable.
Cecilia Cheung, who's always delightful to see does an admirable job of taking a lame role seriously, and she gets to play a character with two cool names: Phoenix Black and White Dragon, Jr. The other supporting characters are just silly. The conspiracy story is dumb and over-abused in Western cinema. The blind assassin with a pure heart story is even more over-abused in Eastern films. I would have hoped that something coming out of Hong Kong would have had more substance.
The worst of the film, though, is that the director tries to blend modern silliness akin to Leslie Nielsen's Mr. Magoo (actually, you could reference just about anything Nielsen has done for the last twenty years) with all the pageantry of Eastern period-piece films. What you end up with is computer download power transfers, and a débutante of ancient China playing ancient Chinese songs on a flute while acting like a rock star and stage diving.
Needless to say, the mixing just doesn't blend. People who honestly express the thought that this is a great movie only demonstrate their foolishness, and an all-too-frightening penchant for idiocy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I would have given this film an 8, because it is indeed a good solid
film with strong emotional and psychological subtext. But I gave the
film a 10 because of two particular scenes where Lea Pool's dialog
floored me with sage-like perceptions of love in a modern age.
Additionally, I think Pool did a fine job with the story telling, and
with delving into the hearts and minds of three very different young
women who room together at a boarding school. It is these three young
women who are the heart and soul of this Shakespearian-rooted tragedy.
First, there is Paulie, played exceptionally by Piper Perabo. Paulie is phenomenally gifted, though brilliantly rebellious to the point of extreme disrespect for her elders. Orphaned as an infant, Paulie never truly felt as though she were loved. Distrustful of adults and unwilling to compromise, Paulie finds love only in the form of Tori. Tori, portrayed superbly by the awkwardly beautiful Jessica Pare, is a secretly reluctant débutante in the making, confidentially involved in a torrid affair with Paulie. Confidentially, that is, until the arrival of Mary B, Tori and Paulies' new roommate.
And here is where the film actually begins, with the arrival of Mischa Barton as the sweetly naive, yet heartbroken Mary B. Mary's birth mother died from illness, and her new stepmother speaks about her as though she weren't there. Her father has sent her off to boarding school in order to make an easier start with his new wife.
In fine supporting roles are Mimi Kuzyk, Graham Greene, and Jackie Burroughs. As you can see, the cast is relatively impressive for this indie fare. And, as I said before, this is a solid story, except...
My only complaint, though this may be unusual to hear in the modern age, is that I don't always appreciate cinema equating sex with love. While the girls had a torrid affair, it was the friendship between them that was the foundation for their love. It would have been more appreciable if the film had started with just the two (Paulie and Tori) and the love which sprang from their friendship; then deal with the truth that their love evolved into something more intimate. Unfortunately, evolution can only go forward, and never in reverse. Trying to reverse such a process only leads to tragedy and madness, which Pool demonstrated well.
Admittedly, my favorite scenes were: First when these teenage girls were trying to interpret love, and Paulie (Perabo) demonstrated her exceptional understanding of the truth of love: that love simply is.
Second, and more importantly, was when Perabo's Paulie truly opened my eyes to a truth of alternative lifestyles. Barton's Mary B accused Paulie of being a lesbian, because Paulie was a girl in love with another girl. Paulie's response was as articulate as it was epiphanic. She said, "No, I'm not a girl in love with another girl. I'm Paulie in love with Tori." This was a moment of blinding wisdom.
Intellectually speaking, the film deals wonderfully with the psychological aspects of this tragedy, even though the emotional aspects of the story became somewhat confusing. All in all, it is, indeed, a solid film filled with solid performances.
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