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Overrated, boring, clichéd, full of awful music and out of tune singing
Ah, the greater the expectations, the greater the disappointment. This movie honestly left me wondering if many of the reviewers paid a visit to the glorious state of Colorado before watching this movie.
Yes, the graphics were fantastic. But the animation was terrible. I'm sorry, but the facial expressions were simply badly drawn. It was a major step back compared to Tangled. Voice acting was... not. No, really, it wasn't acting. It was just reading the script off the sheet. Plain, emotionless, boring.
Don't get me started on the music. This was the first Disney movie ever where I couldn't hear the music from the cacophony of instruments. Tune? What tune? It was also the first Disney movie ever where my daughter didn't get off the couch and dance to the music. Pretty much every musical number in it evoked just one emotion - impatience. When is this awful music going to end?
Don't get me started on the voices. If you thought Pierce Brosnan sounded out of tune in "Mamma Mia", you haven't heard the singing in Frozen. At least in Brosnan's case his singing was a bit of an in-joke, a bit of self-irony, and in general terms - wasn't too bad. In case of a Disney movie built around singing, it was very bad. These actors can't sing. Please don't force them to, or don't hire them.
The celebrated "Let it go" sounds like something that came out of the Taylor Swift sweatshop of pop clichés. If the singing wasn't so bad I'd have sworn it was her. So if you aren't into pop country music, you'll have trouble enjoying it. I know I did.
Then comes the movie's redeeming factor - apparently, an act of true love isn't limited to "boy kiss girl"; in fact, it can be love between siblings too. And to get to this groundbreaking revelation from Disney I had to sit through an hour and a half of torture. I'm sorry, but if someone truly believes this is a sign of the new Disney Renaissance, they need to have their head checked. This movie is on par with the direct to video releases like the Barbie films. Barbie Thumbelina comes to mind, at least thankfully it had no singing in it. 4/10 and I'm being generous here.
Why turn a good Bond into a mediocre Batman?
There is no denying Skyfall tries really hard to take Bond back to its roots. The problem is it lacks the talent that made the Bonds of old possible. The problems start with the title song which sounds like a mash up of previous forgettable Bond songs, with Adele singing at times embarrassingly off-key. Daniel Craig looks like he is really really tired of the character. It doesn't look just like Bond being tired of being Bond, it actually looks like Daniel Craig is tired of being Bond. He is simply going through the motions. He is not alone, by the way. Judy Dench looks like she can't wait to get it over with. I appreciate she is having difficulty acting with failing eyesight (there is a very nice pun about it in the movie), but it's still no excuse. Naomi Harris is just terrible and is simply miscast. I don't understand all the fuss about Javier Bardem's performance either. His first meeting with Bond is poorly scripted and fails to deliver to the potential it holds. From that point on it just gets worse. Lastly, why turn Bond into Batman? Family castle, a butler (kind of), the car (a nice blast from the past but also a Batman touch) and so on, and of course - the scene which was part of the trailer, with Bond looking over London from a rooftop. Bottom line - it was kind of fun, but doesn't live up to the hype. 6/10
Mediocre, over-hyped, and an insult to science-fiction fans
The last movie I saw in a theatre was District 9. That was a long time ago, so when reviewers called Looper "an instant science fiction classic" I knew I had to see it.
Well, let's start by saying that Azimov, Bradbury and Heinlein must be turning in their graves because "sci-fi classic" it is not. Sci-fi rip-off - maybe. I find it hard to remember the last time I saw a movie with such mediocre wooden acting, boring plot (let's not talk about plot holes, shall we), artificial direction, such blunt plot devices (Bruce Willis character:"let's not talk about time travel because it will give us headache" - REALLY?!), such clichéd execution, and such a huge pretense. But if I try really hard then there is indeed a movie from a completely different genre that fits this description - (500) Days of Summer. Ah yes, the Joseph Gordon-Levitt link. So what do we have here? A rip-off of X-Men, Terminator and Blade, directed by someone who tries very hard to be Christopher Nolan but ends up being McG. I could carry on insulting this film, but the final insult that I'll share with you is that it failed the pee-break test. A science fiction thriller based around the concept of time travel is not a movie that should tolerate a pee-break. And yet I walked out, and returned to my seat 5 minutes later and I didn't miss a thing.
2/10 - no redeeming qualities except for tolerable special effects.
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
It's been a while since I've seen such a disappointing film
In short - give me my 2 hours back! There were countless books written and movies shot about destiny and our ability to control it, but never before have I seen such a simplistic, idiot-proof, insulting to the intelligence, take on this topic.
Damon delivers one of his most bland performances to date, and is not helped by a lackluster script and a boring, linear storyline. This half-hearted effort couldn't have made it as an episode of the twilight zone, let alone a feature length movie.
A movie can be intelligent, interesting, involving, fun, entertaining, actually it can be almost anything... Problem is, this movie is nothing. Just a waste of digital space and 2 hours of my life. (Or may be the bureau wanted me to see it in the first place.)
2/10. If it was any worse, I'd have walked out.
Probably doesn't get worse than this... I hope so, anyway
Thank god for the Tivo, because I didn't have to suffer the cringe-worthiness of this episode in its entirety. The episode was so bad I don't know even where to start. The story was so ridiculous it made me wonder if there is a writers' strike in place and the studio had to hire a bunch of 12 year old kids to write a script. There was enough melodrama in this one episode to suffice for 10 episodes of Dynasty. The dialog was worthy of the Bold and the Beautiful, and the acting was not worthy of anything at all, really - it was just plain terrible. After a couple of impressive episodes, Stone's attempt at a melodrama made me feel sick. Isabelle Huppert didn't make it any better with her performance better suited for a French art-house film than a police procedural. If that wasn't bad enough, all of a sudden we were watching a procedural without the procedure. Rules and regulations were ignored as if they didn't exist. Let's have a closer look.
Spoilers ahead. A suspect isn't assigned a lawyer, and when she is suspected of being psychotic, police officers attempt to cure her to gain a confession! Like that is going to stack up in court. Stabler and Benson are going to take down a Green Beret (covert ops specialist) who is supposedly holding a kidnapped child. Of course, why shouldn't they. The appearance of the cop with the distraught dad in the morgue "because he wanted to come here" is so silly it left me speechless. Sophie then grabbed the cop's gun (by the way, when the cop reports it to Stabler he says "she's got my piece". REALLY, that's how a police officer reports that his sidearm was taken by a criminal?!). Anyway, she holds the gun against Marlowe's head, but she never loaded it. As far as I know, police don't carry around pistols with a bullet in the chamber. What's stopping Benson at this stage from shooting her is not very clear to me. Then we had Stabler doing a bit of John McClane in the ventilation ducts which just made me shake my head in disbelief.
But the twist and the final scene definitely take the cake. First, we had a twist that made no sense. The dad organized for the kid to be kidnapped so that mum won't take the kid away to China. What was he planning to do next, once the kid was taken? Obviously, the accident was not part of the plan, so what exactly was the plan then? Did the authors actually think it through? And then we got the grand finale with Stone holding the kid's body in her arms saying "Sophie, Nicholas needs you". Ladies and gentlemen, that scene was so embarrassingly bad I just laughed out loud.
My take on it is that with Law and Order being canceled, the spin-offs are heading that way too. And based on this particular episode - the sooner the better.
House M.D.: Help Me (2010)
I do hope this was a hallucination
A great episode, no question about it. We see the emotional evolution and then devolution of House. He is facing a reality where being "House" is not acceptable anymore, and where logic and knowledge do not rule the world. His fragile emotional world collapsing, he can't even resort to the world of medical challenges where he believe he has the ultimate control, because that control is just imaginary and the harsh reality is setting in. And then, just as he is about to descend back into being House of seasons 3-4, we get the most surreal and ridiculous ending. House's life is an ongoing struggle within himself, it's a cyclical lifeline. And over the last few episodes we watched him descend into one of the deepest recesses on that graph. The ending of this episode either meant that we just witnessed House reach the bottom, or that a magic hand pulled him up by his hair onto the surface. I do hope it was the former - I (and I think the majority of House audience) am not a great believer in the magic hand. So for now, it's a 9/10. But should it turn out to be the magic hand, 5/10 would be more like it.
House M.D.: 5 to 9 (2010)
I've never commented on episodes of series (any series) before, but House 5 to 9 was absolutely fantastic. It was refreshing, it gave us a different point of view, it demonstrated Lisa Edelstein's acting abilities, and it pushed House into a support role for a change. And by the way - this episode demonstrated to me that the series could easily survive without House, or with House as a secondary character. Cuddy M.D. could become the spin off. No, seriously. Now, I realise that as a parent to a 4-months old I found it easier to relate to some of the problems that Cuddy had to face, even if we put that aside - it was a thoroughly enjoyable episode, different, and much more entertaining than most of the episodes so far this season. 10/10
A Touch of Frost (1992)
For Coronation Street fans only.
I watched an episode of Frost last night for the first time after a long long break, and for the life of me I could not figure out why I liked it so much 10 years ago. The plot was almost laughable, the acting is terrible - at times too understated, at times just over the top, the premise for the stories is ridiculous, the dialogues seem to be written by a 12 year old, and the music is taken straight out of 1980's porn movies. And then it hit me - A Touch of Frost is really a British soap opera disguised as crime/mystery drama. All of its deficiencies that I listed above, plus the seemingly low budget, are what soap fans love about Coronation Street. It's no surprise, therefore, that I found Frost to be not the very least entertaining - I can't stand Coro street either. At that stage I also realised why I was struggling to understand the connection between the name of the episode I watched and the its plot. In fact, there was no connection between the two, because rather than relating to the specific episode, its name was actually describing the state of the series of a whole. A Dead End indeed.
Cutthroat Island (1995)
an absolute mess of a movie
I watched it tonight for the first time - I've listened to Debeny's score before, and in my book a good score usually meant a good movie. So I thought I'd take out the DVD and watch the movie. Here where I knew that my book would have to be rewritten. I can definitely see why this sank the Carolco ship.
1) Everyone is miscast. I have never seen a movie with worse casting than this - Davis doesn't look/sound/act like a pirate. The scene where she climbs over the rock after the jump is fantastic for obvious reasons, but she still doesn't cut it as a pirate. The question of believability is not that of "can a woman be a pirate captain" but rather "how can this woman be a pirate captain?" And there could have been many answers "she is like a mother to them" or "they are all in love with her" or "she is a b-tch from hell and they are scared of her", or a combination of the above. Unfortunately, the movie gives us no credible answer, and neither does Davis' performance. Modine is trying to be what Matthew McConaughey would have become a few years later. Problem is - he is no McConaughey, although he is trying really hard. Langella doesn't look or act like a pirate - he seems to be more of an army major at a boot camp. At some stage I almost expected him to check his wrist for a watch and shout "You have 40 seconds, now move it soldiers!" Stan Shaw's role is probably supposed to be comic relief. Otherwise, I can't understand the idea with the ridiculous Jamaican accent. Unfortunately, there is nothing funny about his role or his delivery, so the joke becomes on him. Even the extras are miscast! During a flyover scene of the ship you can clearly see the actors struggling to climb down the Jacob's ladders - was it really that hard to find actors who could manage it a bit better?
2) The dialogue and realism. This is a PIRATE movie. They are supposed to use naval terms. Their speech is supposed to be peppered with swearing. It doesn't have to be R-rated, because there are ways to stylise speech without degrading it with F-words, but the dialogue in CTI was not stylised at all - it just sounded like a bunch of people talking on a morning train on the way to work. This, however, is a minor problem, compared to the overall level of dialogue, interactions and humour in this film. From the balls jokes to "wash your mouth" to the final "I want to see you in my quarters", it was just cringe-worthy.
3) Action sequences. Could someone in this crew do a bit of research? What canon balls were used for battles, how enemy ships were boarded, what a sailing ship looks like in battle, for heaven's sake? Why is a ship intact after a broadside-to=broadside battle? Why are the masts still standing? Honestly, I am not a navy historian, but for anyone who read C.S.Forrester as a child these scenes are mind boggling. And don't get me started with the "Why's?" on the final duel - that scene is just below criticism. Then there is the lack of blood. For some reason the director decided that it's OK to have blood and injuries that the protagonists suffer, but there should be no blood in battles. That's fine, but then the battles should be choreographed in a way that doesn't require blood. Instead, we see close-ups of people getting stabbed through with sabers, only to see a perfect clean blade when it is pulled out. In some instances the movie doesn't even try to make the impression - you see people getting "killed" by getting slapped on their backs with sabers. Production values, anyone?
Finally, I feel sorry for John Debney. He composed a wonderful score for a movie bad beyond salvation. If only this score would have been used for Pirates of the Caribbean instead of that awful stuff by Trevor Rabin it would have been so much more fitting a good score and a good movie. And I wouldn't have had to rewrite the rules in my book.
Bottom line - 3/10. 1 for the score, 1 for the Geena Davis scene after the jump and 1 for the monkey.
Separation City (2009)
An interesting perspective, let down by lazy directing
One of the few romance/comedy-dramas where I could empathise with the protagonist, Separation City delivers an interesting and surprisingly realistic view on love, romance and life in general. That's not to say that I haven't heard it all before, however it was delivered in a frank yet not "in your face" manner, making this movie stand out from dozens of other films on this subject. Having said that, the movie really suffers from lazy directing. It also doesn't help that being a New Zealand movie they had to cast at least one New Zealand lead, and with all due respect to Danielle Cormack, she was out of her depth here, particularly when surrounded by the ever brilliant Thomas Kretschmann, as well as Rhona Mitra and Joel Edgerton. The scene at the beach towards the end of the film really exposes her weakness as an actress, although part of the blame lies with the surprisingly weak dialogue in that scene, which was not characteristic of this movie, I must add.
3 comments about this movie can help me illustrate my frustration with it:
1) The narration. Overly elaborate, at pains to explain every little nuance, every feeling, it felt as if the director didn't trust the actors to deliver the message through their acting. I wonder if they ever tried screening it without the narration just to see if the movie holds up on its own, because I'd bet it would.
2) Lazy directing. (here be spoilers). An example of this is Klaus painting a pohutakawa tree back in his apartment in Berlin, with Katrien's voice-over telling us that he is painting landscapes of the distant shores. Wouldn't it be better to embed a flourishing pohutakawa somewhere in the movie so that once back in Berlin and painting it, the viewer would recognise it and understand Klaus is painting a New Zealand landscape? (spoilers END)
3) Why was Mike Minogue (Errol the Fireman) in this film and what did his character contribute is beyond me.
Overall not a bad effort, I definitely agree with the message it conveys, but I do hope they release a director's cut version with no narration or at least significantly reduce the amount of it.