11 Reviews
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Spy (2015)
Can't a comedy just be a comedy
10 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Such high reviews, such a formulaic genre comedy. Spoilers to follow.

I just don't get why a comedy can't be a comedy. Why do we need Borne, MI, 24 type chase scenes? I know this is called SPY, but why do we need hanging off helicopters? Can't we just have the funny? I've seen enough Borne and superhuman over the top action fighting to last me a lifetime.

McCarthy is funny when she's put upon, disrespected and awkward. Shooting guys in the head isn't what's funny about the movie. So why spend so much time on the non-comedic action that we've all seen a million times done better in serious films

Plus, they have foreigners in parts that should've been Americans, and Americans when they should've been foreign. Why is the Englishman playing an American, but the guy with the cane is American yet seems to be from Hungary and has no accent? Why is a woman with a thick English accent working for the CIA?

A few chuckles, mainly in the quiet parts. Once the film gets loud, plot-heavy and fast, the funny drains away. Needed to be less ambitious. They had too much budget burning a whole in their pocket. Too much plot too much action drowned out 80% of the potential comedy.
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Peter Jackson channels George Lucas with his prequel trilogy
10 March 2015
Committing almost exactly the same sins as George Lucas, Peter Jackson utterly fails with his prequel trilogy. Bad plotting, weak characters, dumb plot sequences, bad production design/art, and an ugly distracting CGI sheen. Spoilers be ahead...

The biggest problem is that The Hobbit is a children's book with character whimsy and plot lightness. Jackson misses that tone entirely and instead makes an inferior LoTR retread. This film needed to be charming and lovable with some swashbuckling and puzzle-solving. The book was impossible to put down when I read it at age 13. Darn. What a miss.

The second problem is that this is cinema bloatware. 9 hours of cinema from a 300 page book when LoTR was 9 hours from 1,500 pages of 3 books. And it even skipped entire sections and themes from the source material, inventing characters and jamming Legolas down our throats, looking creepy and far too blue-eyed. GREED, not love of Tolkien or the craft of movie-making, led Jackson down this path. Wasn't he rich enough?

The third problem is that this film is plotted strangely and poory planned from a screen writing perspective. Story arc is non-existent from movie to movie. The hero is the Hobbit, not the drawf. Smaug was a brilliant CG character, but was ultimately a sidetrack, not the main event. The troll scene in the first film was just awful. And the barrel sequence in the 2nd film was straight out of Nintendo. Attack of the Clones droid factory bad. The finale of the BotFA was a retread of the white city. Orcs go down far to easily. They are not menacing when 3 foot dwarfs and hobbits can slaughter them by the dozen. The ease with which orcs go down was eye-rolling. Except when the plot requires a double-bill boss fight at the end, then all the sudden orcs are tough.

The last problem plagues the film on a superficial level and is the icing on the cake. It looks like 9 hours of gooey HDR photography. Too much saturation, too much Adobe Lightroom luminance. Everything is too crisp and looks wrong. If you thought LotR was vivid, this is dripping syrup. It's a bad fantasy painting come to life. The creatures have realistic clothing/skin and have never looked more fake. There are new creatures and new looks for existing creatures that break canon with the first trilogy. Ugh. These films just don't look good.

What we have here is an utter failure. Phantom Menace quality stuff. I just don't understand how Jackson lost his mind and made these movies other than greed and arrogance. I suppose he was surrounded by sychophants while planning this project. No Jar Jar Binks level idea was shot down. At least we have the original trilogy.
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Toy Story of Terror (2013 TV Short)
17 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
It's supposed to be a Halloween story, so my daughter and I were expecting a cute moody, eerie, haunted type of story. Maybe a witch's or vampire's castle... something, anything. There would be so many ways for the toys to actually end up somewhere clasically creepy... abandoned funhouse, amusement park, attic of old house. They could've parodied Scooby Doo and solved a mystery.

But it was a blatant recycle of the Toy Story 2 plot - lonely, creepy guy with glasses tries to sell the toys and the toys need to work together to get away from him. In a very generic motel. No Halloween mood at all. Not even a Halloween toy. And the mystery was solved halfway into the show, and it became yet another toy trapped in a box, behind the glass in a case, etc. Lame. And what's the with the iguana that acts like a dog? Why not just a dog?

Only positive thing is that it was nice to get the A-List actors back together for a short special. And Combat Carl (Carl Weathers) was a slick addition (plus his pint sized friend with the sped up voice), but otherwise... ugh. 5 out of 10. Think Cars 2 quality of craftsmenship on this one. Bad script.
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The Avengers (2012)
Avengers represents everything that is wrong with blockbusters
22 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I'll preface... I'm not a comic book reader. I enjoy fantasy, as long as it makes sense in its own self-created universe (Star Wars and Trek, Harry Potter, Superman). But the Avengers is awful, and even worse considering how highly rated this junk is on IMDb. It has a couple moments of delight (but so did the Phantom Menace), and the effects are state of the art, bar none. But, this is the 50th movie in a row where the photorealistic effects impressed me. Now, I'm afraid I need a real movie to use that CGI to good effect.

The Avengers fails for me due to the character combination. I didn't read a single comic book, but Universal released this huge budget movie knowing they will need to attract 10 new people for everyone who read the dusty old comic books. The Avengers are a dumb assembly of heroes. Captain America is an idiot character. He is from a different time, isn't good at anything modern (like why is he barking orders?), and has no powers whatsoever. Ditto for Black Widow and Hawkeye. I mean, the latter shoots friggin arrows. Cappy had a shield and punches guys within 5 feet of him. They are just plain lame. Thor is a GOD and the Hulk is invincible. They're immortal. Unstoppable. And Iron Man, with his impossible-to-believe suit which might as well be magic-based is also nearly invincible. Who needs the other 3? Why isn't Spiderman in this group? Or some of the X-Men? As for the humans, why do we have a city-sized aircraft carrier? That flies and looks amazingly like the big aircraft from Avatar? Why build a ship that flies? Okay, now the plot. I don't get it. This movie is 2:22 minutes. I don't even understand Loki's motivation or plan. Loki wants to blow up Earth? Why? Why do those Aliens/Clash of the Titans monsters want to blow up Earth? Why could Thor and Loki get to Earth but they can't without the magic portal? Are those monsters magical or technological? And that cube - seriously, they used the same lame McGuffin from Transformers. Which is a movie very much like this one. I mean that as an insult. What was Loki's plan, crumble the outer shells of buildings in NYC. Shoot a lot and not hit anyone? Not one human even seemed to get hit with all the devastation.

I hated it. My wife and kids hated it. My 9 year old son hated it. That says it all. It made no sense, was utterly talky and boring for a huge chunk of it. The Dark Knight wipes its rear end with this blu-ray disc. Avoid at all costs unless you liked Transformers 3, John Carter and Clash of the Titans.
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Inception (2010)
Inception, 1 inch deep and a mile wide
17 November 2010
Inception is right up my alley. I was expecting a thinking person's thriller with a bit of sci fi. C Nolan is well known - I loved the Dark Knight and Batman Begins. He's quality and tells a slow boiling story that pays off a concept. But whew, Inception... wow what a stinker.

There's no question that this production staff and the cast took this project and themselves very seriously. It oozes production values. Too bad it lost me in the first 10 minute when I had no idea what was happening. And not in a good way, like other thrillers. I had absolutely no desire to understand the clap-trap these unlikeable characters were spouting. The kid from Third Rock, wow he thinks he's quite the bad boy. Fail.

Anyway, instead of something that held my interest, this movie simply frustrated me. Inception is a ponderous, self-important, vacuous movie. It's empty, all presentation, no flavor. It makes no sense and I didn't even want to keep straining to figure it out. It doesn't unfold like "The Game" where you're dying to know how it comes out, clue by clue. I even stuck with Shutter Island and didn't really like that one, but it was way, way, way better than this movie. And it's not because I don't have patience for high-concept. It's not ambiguous or thought-provoking it just ends.

Still, I would recommend others see this film and judge for themselves. Others seem to find this movie very intense and deep. I just don't get it. Personal preference, but there are quite a few like me where metaphysical pseudo sci-fi speeches, and lots of rules about what you can and can't do are just frustrating and not a nice evening's entertainment. I think I'll go watch The Game or Matrix again. It's been a while and I need to get the sour taste of this movie out of my mouth.
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Californication (2007–2014)
I'm watching, but it makes me grimace sometimes...
26 February 2009
I'm a fan of realistic dialogue. I want people to speak how people speak in real life. If they don't, it better be a very interesting stylistic choice in a non-everyday setting (Deadwood comes to mind). This is a pretty good show, but the dialouge is that "Juno" style tripe. I can see the screenwriter smile as he writes this junk and pats himself on the back. I'ts self-indulgent, snappy, cynical, pseudo poetic crap. Nobody speaks spontaneously like the characters do. Especially 12 or 16 year olds. I can buy a writer who can speak well, but come on. Everyone is this rehearsed and clever? It's distracting and induces eye rolls.

Okay, then there's the whole writer as a pop culture superhero. Ya gotta be kidding me that a writer who has written one best selling books is even a household name among avid adult readers. Also, writers are not recognizable. James Patterson can walk any mall he likes and isn't recognized. I barely know what John Grisham looks like. Writers are absolutely anonymous. The are not rock stars, TV stars, movie stars or pro athletes.

Finally, there's the whole been there, done that character set-up. The troubled, writer-blocked pain in the butt hero with the loserish, chubby, Jewish agent friend and his foul mouthed wife. Hmmm... sounds a lot like Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Finally, there's the "Dream On" sex romp lifestyle of this late 40s, mediocre-looking guy who probably always stinks of cigs, B.O. and alcohol. The ladies love that. Every woman he meets is hot. He even speaks at a Catholic Girls school and the entire class is out of Seventeen. Not a chubber or plain Jane in the bunch. I know this is TV fantasy, but come on....

Come to think of it, I guess I don't like this show very much. But it's still better than 80 percent of what's on TV!
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I had a very good time watching it
1 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a huge Raiders fan, I would say it's in my Top 10 faves. The sequels were dips, big dips, but still better than 95% of films ever made. I'm also 38 years old so I saw them when I was a kid - through high school.

I walked into this thinking it would be Indiana Phantom Menace, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I had a blast watching. I heard it was full of exposition (SW prequels anyone?), but I didn't find it anymore than Raiders had -- and necessary. I liked the Soviets as villains. Cate Blanchet was pretty nonthreatening, had no chemistry with Jones and her accent was ridiculous. (Wasn't an authentic Russian actress available?) Shia Labouf was nails on a chalkboard in Transformers - manic jabbering irritant. But he was subdued on this and just the right fit. Karen Allen felt a little forced into the movie with her 1980s hairdo in the 1950s, but not too bad. I could've done without Ray Winstone. Honestly, did the plot really need him? And they left the ESP/telepathy and FBI witch hunt plots completely unresolved.

The plot itself was confusing at the end. I have no idea what the aliens were doing frozen. Why 13 skeletons turned into 1 alien or why they swept up the jungle and flew into space, killing the Soviets. Why drown the valley? If they're a secret, why the elaborate city and the artifacts? Why destroy all those ancient artifacts if the aliens seek knowledge? What did they have to do with Roswell, NM? Why did the Soviets find multiple crash sites in the USSR? Those are some incompetent aliens, I must say.

It all made zero sense. But it was an exciting ride to get to that climax which I enjoyed. The stunts were typical over-the-top. The waterfalls, the sword fight, the Tarzan swinging -- all in good fun. Stupid, but it made me laugh. Plus, there were some good laughs in many other parts. The quicksand pit was funny.

I found the into sequence in Area 51 pretty good. The bomb blast was hilarious and ominous. It's ridiculous that he survived being thrown 5 miles inside a fridge, or that he survived being irradiated, but it made me laugh.

Were there too many CGI effects? Definitely. In fact, the whole movie had a blurriness and a fuzzy glow to it. Very noticeable compared to Raiders with its crisp film stock and practical effects. Don't believe the Spielberg BS about no CGI and a 1970s film look. Absolute lies, both of them. Fuzz and CGI galore.

Anyway, this is head and shoulders above National Treasure or Mummy crap. Or pretty much any summer movie any given year. Check your brain at the door, realize it's a comedy and go in with low expectations like I did. I'm really glad I liked it. I feel much like I did when James Bond was rejuvenated with Casino Royale. Very satisfying to know our heroes are back!
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Untraceable (2008)
Boring, derivative, full of technical holes
18 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Unlike others, I won't even give the premise much credit. This is Saw over an internet connection. It's such a generic movie. All the characters are one-dimensional and get you to invest zero in them. The online dating guy was the most interesting.

Holy cow do they get the technology wrong. Zippy noises on computers. We all have computers, why do they insist in Hollywood at making them alter from reality? Computers don't bleep and blip. They also don't pull up video, websites and webpages that fast. It's distracting and insulting.

The killer is serving streaming video to 17 million people at one time. Sure. Anyone ever used a proxy server? They're slow as hell to even web browse. Sure buddy. You hacked into Diane Lane's computer network, you're using her ISP to stream to 17,000,000 people. Uh huh. Plus, where does a man buy a machine to deliver an IV drip electronically pegged to another device? Or 250 heat lamp bulbs? Wanna find the killer? Find the address that 250 heat bulbs were shipped to.

Oh, and the killer took Diane Lane to her freakin house to torture her? Good choice. They'll never check there. Plus, in that dense, busy neighborhood - nobody noticed the strange teenager moving equipment by the caseload into the basement? Ridiculous and lousy movie. Rent the far superior Silence or Seven.
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Die Hard 4 - Here's Why It Sucked...
29 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
First off, I'm a Die Hard 1 lover. The second and third weren't very good. Die Hard 1 was a textbook on how to make a thriller and was the first "high tech" heist/terrorist blockbuster thrillers I can recall.

Die Hard 4.0 (which would've been clever in 1998, not so much now) is a loud, expensive, frenetic modern take on Die Hard 1. It's too much of everything. Here are the ingredients, see if you haven't seen these 100 times before (5 seasons of 24, MI:3, Bourne, Matrix, etc.):

1. Indestructible hero 2. Art-directed government computer centers that look like Dr. Evil's lair with plasmas all over the walls. 3. Computers doing high tech things with beautiful unknown operating systems that can pull up 3D wire frame schematics of anything imaginable in 1.5 seconds flat, and make high tech noises and beeps. 4. An aerial establishing shot of Washington D.C. that "types" in courier font the name of XXXXXX government institution (ticka ticka ticka ticka...). 5. Bossy government officials who say "get me XXXX on a secure channel" or addresses everyone as "people, you better get me some answers" and dislikes the hero and ignores his sage advice. 5. Beautiful computer technicians who know kung fu. Also, who wear 9 inch heels to conduct military operations because we all know how easy heels are to maneuver in. 6. Bad guys who take out 3rd tier characters with one shot but empty clip after clip in futility to hit the good guy. 7. Good guys who can launch a car into the air to hit a helicopter or knock open a fire hydrant to get a killer to fall out of his helicopter. First, fire hydrants lose their high pressure once the water has traveled about 3 feet. And the pressure comes from the narrow hydrant nozzle, not the water supply in the ground. If you knock the hydrant over, it won't spray upward more than a few feet and certainly wouldn't knock a guy out of a helicopter (who would've been clipped into a safety harness for rifle sniping anyway). Idiotic.

All in all, this movie is terrible. We walked out. How can chase set pieces be boring? Die Hard 4.0 will show how. Lousy movie.
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What a sack of you know what!
10 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I'm used to be a Star Trek fan. But much like James Bond, Friends and ER, it has looooong since outlasted its good days.

Here's why I tire of Star Trek. Every plot has a time count down device -- every, single one. Every planet visted has breathable air/gravity/temperatures/length of day and looks like California. Away teams wear the same clothes they wear on the bridge. Every alien is humanoid and speaks English. Everyone in the galaxy basically has the same or less technology than the Federation. The only members of the 1000 crewmen who have adventures are our 8 stars. I'm so tired of shields going down/transferring power to shields, etc. I just can't take another "transfer auxillary power" sequence. Why, in a battle, does the bridge of the Enterprise rain down sparks?

I recommend to the producers - fire yourselves. But before you do, hire some great writers and take Star Trek, not 500 years in the future, but 5000 years. Now that would be interesting.

Now how 'bout Nemesis?

First, the good. It's shot well. I like the lighting and camera angles/movement. The acting is fine, though stylistically different than the show. The FX of ship battles are much better than the original show. That's all that's good.


The plot is horrible. As stated, it's a rehash of Khan. I am so bored with it that I lost interest. Why did he want to blow up the Federation? I don't know.

1. The actor who played Shinzon looks nothing like a young Picard. And when they show Picard (photo) as a bald young man, he looks nothing like he did as a young man in episodes of the show. And why did Shinzon, if he was aging, not start to look like Picard?

2. Waste of Romulans. I know nothing more about them.

3. Picard goes down in a "futuristic" dune buggy and makes a jump worth of Bo and Luke Duke. Awful. Why aren't they flying, instead of driving?

4. The "crack" Reman troops fight like little kids. When they have a chance to shoot a disruptor into a "star", they prefer the knife. Yet they had just shot a gun at said star 30 seconds prior. Why the change? Dumb.

5. How much punishment can the Enterprise take? They said the bad guy ship had like 10x the armament, plus a cloak. Shouldn't they last about 10 seconds? I felt like I was watching Rocky take 15 rounds of beatings from Ivan Drago and remain standing.

6. Why did Picard ram his ship? He had time to separate the saucer and get everyone down to the primary hull. Why not just ram the saucer section? Why committ suicide for 1000 people? And why did the Enterprise fare better in the collision when they were busting apart just a minute prior?

7. When the Remans invaded the Enterprise, why not set up a containment field to stop their lasers from hurting you? And where were the other 1000 Federation crewmen to help fight? Why would 2 important bridge officers be on the line like that? Especially the FO!

8. Why was auto-destruct off-line? Isn't it just a matter of shutting down the containment field to start a core breach?

9. Why was Janeway promoted? I hate her. Hillary Clinton in space!

10. When Data made a perfect leap to the other ship, I actually laughed out loud. Did a ten year old write this?

11. Riker and Deanna sex? Yuck. And what was with Shinzon's infatuation? Why? And what was with the devil guy getting into it also? Huh?

12. Why did an android put on weight? Brent is rounder nowadays.

13. Why do spaceships bank to turn? Now I'm just getting smart alecky.

This is a bad movie.

Please, Star Trek, Enterprise isn't good. Jump 5000 years in the future and show us what that would be like! I don't think anyone has ever done that with a big budget. That would be cool.
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Does anyone in Hollywood have a brain?
8 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Not a great movie. About 1/2 is pretty good (the basic concept created by James Cameron), but the film goes way down hill quickly once the plot gets going. Repeats things from the first movies and PLOT HOLES GALORE!


I can suspend my disbelief that we have a science fiction movie here, but come on... unbelievably advanced autonomous cybernetic organisms by the year 2030? Impossible for me to believe since we can't even get a robot to climb stairs, pick up a glass or recognize and interpret speech in 2003. In the opinions of most robotic scientists, we're at least a century away from a thinking, autonomous robot. So the dates in this movie are waaaaay off, I think. I won't even get into time travel (necessary for the story) that many think great thinkings believe is several millenia away, if not impossible.

But those aren't my problems. I suspended my disbelief to accept time travel and the Terminator machines coming from 30 years in the future.

1. How does Skynet take over? No computer software on Earth is linked to every other piece of software. They speak different computer languages. This is so laughable as to discredit the entire Terminator franchise. Furthermore, human beings launch nuclear missles (requires synchronized key turns, code keys and non-automated button pressing). It's done by humans, not a computer. Ridiculous. It is patently IMPOSSIBLE for a rouge computer virus to even take over a satellite/cellular network, much less a missle silo. The only thing it could do is give the President the illusion that Russian missles were on the way, so he would order his generals to launch the counter-attack.

2. I'm sick of military "Command Centers" looking like they do in movies - like Dr. Evil's lair. We're to believe that they're flying a jet/rocket powered test vehicle 20 feet away from the SkyNet computer banks, INDOORS! Has anyone ever seen documentary footage of testing? It's done outside hangars and grey concrete buildings in the desert. I'll bet anyone a million dollars that the Air Force doesn't operate a single room on the Earth that looks remotely like the "Command Center" in T3. And they happen to have all their battle robots, hover drones, particle accelerator and SkyNet computers in one place? SURE. Did the screenwriters ever talk to anyone who was ever in the military? Los Alamos Labs don't look like dat.

3. What kind of security lets Arnold and the 2 kids into the most secret Air Force facility on the face of the planet, loaded to the gills with ammo and guns? Huh?

4. Why do the machines keep sending 1 Terminator? Why not 10? They keep screwing up. Why not ensure things? Why not build a Terminator suicide bomber? Why not just throw your power cell at John Conner when you get within a mile of him? Is SkyNet incompetent?

5. Why is the TX less advanced that the T1000? The T1000 was indescructable except by melting. The TX went down in an explosion. She has a metal skeleton inside that can be broken. This is progress?

6. Why did the missle shoot through the office window and not kill anyone? Why can people be thrown repeatedly onto cement floors without breaking ribs or limbs?

7. Where was everyone at the old nuclear fallout facility? Why did it have power? Where were all the soldiers at the new command center? Shouldn't they be guarding the place?

8. If Arnold took out his 2nd and last power cell, how did he manage to move his body and arm to stick it in the TX's mouth? Wouldn't he be absent a power sourace the instant he unhooked his final power cell? My digital camera ceases to take pictures if I remove its battery.

9. Why did they take off in a Cessna 172, yet fly inside a DeHavilland? Totally different planes.

10. How can "taking control" of the computer chips of a Ford Crown Victoria cop car suddenly give it the ability to move its own steering wheel and press its own brakes? Absolutely idiotic.

11. How many bullets can fly, explosions demolish things and cars disintegrate without loss of life? I guess the director drew inspiration from the A-Team. Violence has no consequence.

12. Are we to believe that on a planet with 6 billion people that simpletons like John Conner, his buddy at the Carl's Jr. drive-thru and a vet assistant will become the last hope of the Earth? Stretches believability to the max.

13. Why can the T101 perfectly replicate voice and speech patterns of others, but speaks with a thick Austrian accent in default mode? (I'm just being a smart aleck now.)

The more I think about this movie, the more I realize how much it blows. This movie is absurd science fiction but doesn't play it for fun like Men In Black or Ghostbusters. It plays things straight and that's why it is no good for anyone with a brain. More than stupid science fiction, it just doesn't make any sense, plotwise.

Skip it in the theater but catch it on video. About as good as Alien 3, which was also a franchise that dropped Cameron when they got to part 3!
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