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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a very good episode after all. I loved how they knew and found
the kidnapper from scratch, the breathless pace, and most of the
performances. However, what stood alone was the try to change the
forever format of Columbo.
During the course of the series, which contained 69 movies from Prescription: Murder (1968) to Columbo Likes the Nightlife (2003), there were rare examples for breaking the Columbo mold. Double Shock (1973) hided who the killer was till the last scene (it's always known in the first one), A Matter of Honor (1976) hided the killer's motive till the end, Columbo Goes to College (1990) hided the way of killing till the very end, Rest in Peace Mrs. Columbo (1990) told the story by many flashbacks.
As you see, all of these episodes changed bits and pieces, here and there, yet inside the same format of "Someone thinks that he or she committed the perfect murder, then how Columbo proves that he or she is wrong". This round, there is no murder in the first place. It's a kidnapping. And our lead must use his super smart mind to search and locate before it's too late. Now compared to the aforementioned episodes, this is not a mild change, inasmuch as a revolution !
Nevertheless, there were 2 downsides. The first is, for sure, the character of the kidnapper. Who is that guy, and what does he want, and why he got THAT crazy ??? He has no back-story, no singularity, no taste, and I hated when they made him use that lipstick; as if "wild madness" is an enough answer for all the questions !!
The second one is that we don't have Columbo around. Yes, the Columbo-ish moments are available; being interweaved into the new fabric. For instance, the "one more thing" moment is present, silently, when the forgetful lieutenant remembers something in the police station, and returns to bring it. And for another, he doesn't lean to use his gun, as usual, accompanied by a sarcastic smile this time. But generally, this is not Columbo which we know and love. Because this one has different pace for moving and talking. Moreover, we aren't accustomed to seeing him working in police stations, among team (mostly we don't get to see anyone but him!). Hence, he became Kojak, not Columbo anymore !
Ironically, there is an episode of Kojak with nearly the same plot. And I mean "Birthday Party" the first episode of season 4, which was aired for the first time on 26 September 1976, and centered on kidnapping Kojak's niece, and his efforts to get her back.
No Time to Die (1992) isn't a bad episode of Columbo. It's just bad in terms of not enjoying our dear Columbo. Changing the format is one thing, but changing the lead character is another. However, as an episode that really breaks the mold, it's million times better than Undercover (1994), which killed the mold, along with Columbo too !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
No doubt that I hate today's Hollywood. That's why I keep watching its
old movies recently. And when I come back to watch its new ones, I feel
mostly regret. And Beyond the Reach is no exception !
Usually the problem is related to forgetting all about very important factor named : The Script. In old Hollywood, there was a respect for such a holy art. I believe since the American cinema's dawn, the writers came from theater, because "Films" weren't common yet. So a thing like "Drama" was essential in their movies. And in later decades, we had generations which studied and understood those pioneers, and broke their molds as well. Now, there is a newer generation which their work assures that they have nothing to do with drama. They break themselves, and us. And it's the American cinema's night for that matter !
The bad writing can be seen in every age. However, its death can be lived today. Especially when Hollywood believes in killing it, paying hundreds of millions of dollars for executing that (just remember Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 for little examples !).
Here, we have yet another murder. The plot is too strange to ugly extend. Michael Douglas killed an old prospector, and wants to frame Jeremy Irvine for it. So what did he do ? He killed Irvine, and then reported that the latter went mad, and shot the prospector. No, he tried to do this, but Irvine escaped, so he hunted him to bury the truth. Sorry, it's not this or that. Because while reporting that Irvine went mad, and shot the prospector, Douglas didn't kill him, and Irvine didn't escape. Instead, Douglas forced Irvine to strip naked, and wander off into the barren horizon, to die of dehydration and exposure, which led to one of the most stupid and boring sequences ever captured on film, where Irvine walks into the desert, and Douglas follows him to kill him if he didn't die on his own !!
So this is absurd remake of The Most Dangerous Game (1932), running in slow motion, where you wish, for all the time, that the lead just die, to have mercy upon the poor us. Nevertheless, don't you dare think that this is the only problem around !
The dialog is extremely weird. Sometimes no line has connection to its subsequent. Or maybe it has, but many things were vaguely deleted in between ! The tragedy hit scenes too. For instance, I didn't comprehend the lead's flash back, where he tells a story about a family that died in the desert. Were they his parents, or else ? And what was their connection to the movie anyway ?? I watched that scene twice, and still I have no idea what was that about ?!!
Despite running, on fiery hot sand, barefooted, with no water, under ruthless sun, the lead on the contrary seems so cool, and very healthy. Jeremy Irvine is whether the worst actor in a leading role I have seen in years, or gave the worst performance done by an actor in a leading role I have seen in years. He's perfectly lifeless, with bland acting and frozen reactions. In a word, he's a black hole of feelings. Michael Douglas is dead, and what we saw was his ghost. Without any sarcasm, he looked so old and fragile to play the evil guy. Clearly he wasn't that threatening, which took a lot from the movie's credibility, and weakened the conflict, while both the movie's credibility and conflict were dead horses already that didn't need more beating !
French director Jean-Baptiste Léonetti, in his first Hollywood movie, had a zoom-in frenzy. Sure he needs to check in to the same rehab where they treat Michael Bay from addicting explosions, and Quentin Tarantino from paying homage !
It should have ended with its nasty businessman getting away with it. That would have granted the story a chance to uplift its inner metaphor, concerning how rich people enjoy corruption, while poor people are the ones to pay the price. It could have made the movie satirical, bitter, and more memorable, inflaming our rage towards that type of evil. However, they wanted the happy end. Maybe because the producers of it are that evil guy himself, who want you to empty all of your negative emotions towards them before leaving the movie theater, so you forget about that evil guy (s) in real life !
Speaking about the producers, I was shocked when I knew that Michael Douglas co-produced THIS! Oh My God, after producing such classics like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), The China Syndrome (1979), Romancing the Stone (1984) and Face/Off (1997), he chose projects like The Sentinel (2006) ?, and Beyond the Reach (2014) ?? Dear Michael, if someone in the world needs Back to the Future's car the most, then it's you. You have to travel into time, to advise your younger self on selecting wisely what to produce in your 60s and 70s !
Beyond the Reach is boring stupidity. Sorrowfully, the "boring stupidities" are in fashion since the start of the 2000s. So my sole hope is that every Hollywood scriptwriter, and producer in particular, goes and watches old Hollywood movies, to know how they really lost their way, and discover sublime treasure named : The Script. Otherwise, may they wander off into the barren horizon themselves !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Renée Zellweger is a beautiful woman, so why she looks so ugly like
this ? The character she plays is one of the main characters, so why
it's written trivially like this ? Ed Harris is supposed to play a
tough and rough lawman, so how come he has no muscle in his body, and
looks half dead, like this ? Jeremy Irons plays a cowboy ?? Really ?!
No American actors were available, at all ?? And everybody says that
this is a great western ?! Where is such greatness ?? WHERE ???
The scene of arresting the criminal, while he's among his gang, should have been tight and thrilling, however what we saw was fast comedic sketch, and ideal lesson in cinematic crap. The criminal is back, thanks to his relationship with the president ?! What relationship ?! The script doesn't even try to elaborate or logicalize for the sake of respecting our minds ! The lead is a smart guy, who used to be ingenious Marshal in many cities, so how come he puts his girl / only point of weakness in the same place where he keeps the criminal jailed ?!
Harris writes, and directs, while not one moment can be described as distinct or good. The bad thing about him as a writer is that he wants to go to a point, do a certain event, yet really doesn't know how. So nearly every step is replaced with a jump, the events happen without building up, and to heck with being convincing. It's said on the credits that it has editing, though there is none, all what it has is stupid execution, which doesn't give peculiarity for anything. The action sequences are dull. And the whole movie is shockingly tasteless.
Just one scene satisfied me, where the 3 main characters gather on the night of getting the heroine back form her kidnappers. This is the sole moment where I felt things like directional sense, and meaningful acting.
Appaloosa can be included in Guinness World Records as "The movie with the most preposterous everything", and in my list for "Top 10 movies called great for no apparent reason" !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Firstly, things I loved : The idea of a mystery / western movie. How
most of the cast did their roles fairly. The music while Yaphet Kotto's
death, which was a variation on Maurice Jarre's theme music, as joyful
as the background's atmosphere, yet with a smart tense twist. A number
of lines : "There's only one thing worse than a crook, that's a clumsy
crook", "Somebody gave Stoney a new string tie. Only it was made of
barbed wire, and a little tight", "Sometimes the truth is actions, not
words". And the theme song which was the top of this movie for me.
Then, things I didn't love : Oh, dear. Take a list : Dean Martin was too indifferent; like it's "I'll say the lines, do the moves, then give me the money please". And while he was 51 year old, he seemed older, with run-down, if not sick, features. For instance, during his scene in the cemetery, he was too pale as if he was the one to be buried !
Director Henry Hathaway didn't do anything dazzling along the way, or maybe didn't want to. Actually, more than one point tells you that not much effort was exerted. In one moment, when Martin punches Roddy McDowall in front of the latter's sister, you'll notice that there wasn't a proper sound effect for the punch. And in another, when the same 2 clash in the cemetery, their fight was weak, childish, and shot while both of them were wearing the same color and outfit (so you couldn't tell who's who !). Let alone that the few action scenes were done routinely. That's why I felt TV-ish western for all the time.
The romantic part wasn't taken care of seriously. I mean the young girl loves the lead, and he loves the older woman; so why is that ? Does the girl related to issues like land and stability, and the lead is always a traveling gambler, so that's why he preferred the barbershop's owner ? Is that woman more experienced, so she's more suitable for him ? Well, the movie itself doesn't give a hoot, and the whole romantic scenes seemed eventually irrelevant.
Speaking about the writing, the matter of Robert Mitchum saying a line that ends a scene, while he walks away from the people, repeated dully. I thought that Mitchum didn't have to turn the chair over the card table to assure for Martin that he's the killer. And I didn't get the constant talk about the coming development with Ruth Springford as Mama Malone; that wasn't a relief, or part of the drama, or sort of satire which serves some purposed substance ?? Was there any use out of this, other than filling the blanks between the scenes of the main "loose unknown killer" plot ??
Roddy McDowall can be a lot of characters, but the violent psychopath killer isn't one of them. He tried his best, and did well, but he wasn't the character for me, and the "very well" rank could have been given for another actor in that role. While Jarre's music is nothing but one theme and variations for it, it did bore sometimes, and worse than that sounded sarcastic in the wrong place; like the first sequence.
Then, that awful climax. OK, I can't describe it as a climax in the first place. It's all about talking endlessly, then one fast bullet form the protagonist to kill the antagonist ?? Nobody ever bothered themselves to make something more big and satisfying ?? This is not a way to end a movie, and not a way to kill a proficient gunslinger like Mitchum's character. They didn't have the time, the money, the energy ?? I really don't know. But what I do know is that when this lazy executive spirit dominated, the movie got cold, and it turned out to be that Dean Martin wasn't the only indifferent around !
They even gave the mystery's solution away in the original poster (s); which's a proof for how uninterested most of this movie's makers were. Now it could be a fact that an uninterested movie equals an uninteresting movie !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's a black comedy, which was quite scarce back then. Vincent Price is
charismatic and energetic. Joyce Jameson is nice as the sad wife.
Beverly Powers is so beautiful as the lady of the first murdered man.
And I loved the last 5 minutes' twists. As you see, listing the "good"
points in this movie is easy. Yet listing the "bad" ones is easier;
they're EVERYTHING ELSE !
Oh God, what a tormenting time. It tried to be horror mixed with slapstick, but the outcome is something awful, with no real horror or droll slapstick.
Although the scenes are short, and the editing is kind of fast-paced, but the bore is dominant. Simply because there is a whole lot of nothing going on from start to finish.
The plot is thin, with not much imagination. At times, it seemed that the writer didn't have a plan for what to do next. For a big example, I thought that the first murder is just one sketch in what would be many sketches ahead, however it turned out to be pointless, and something truly bland to begin with (why didn't they rob the guy after killing him ?!?!). Then, the movie remains in that endless, and unfunny, undying landlord situation, till the movie turns into "remains" indeed ! That undying man is an appropriate idea for a running side gag, but not for a complete movie, or this complete movie for that matter. By the end, I was yelling at the screen : "Please stop it, I CAN'T BEAR MORE !!".
Frankly I didn't laugh, not even once, because there is naught to laugh at. Aside from the main dead gag, there were some gags, no less dead, repeating annoyingly; Peter Lorre pronounces Price's name wrong, Price wants to poison his father-in-law, Lorre can't break into some house, and Price's wife sings horribly (God, this was horrible enough alone!). Moreover, situations that were handled wrongly; for instance, Joe E. Brown, in his cameo as the graveyard's guard, talks to the dead, and releases him from his coffin, THEN screams out of fear.. OK, it doesn't work !!
Price didn't have much to do, unless acting as a drunk for all the time, till it pushes you to the edge of tedium. Lorre was performing in uninterested and stiff manner. And Boris Karloff looked like a stinking corpse, with stupidly heavy make-up.
As for the movie's image, the word "poor" comes to mind, and for convincing reasons. While being colorful, the image exposed the penniless budget, and was ugly-looking sometimes; like the scene of sneaking into the first murdered man's hall. The sets and special effects were between cheap and weak; just look at the shattered drinking glasses, the very clear previously cut-off candles, and the busts' line on the stairs; which was unbelievable idea in the first place !
The production company "American International" music theme was the first and last interesting music around, since the rest was mostly unattractive. To get what I mean, listen to the opening credits' music score; it's torn, rather confused, between many directions like the silent movies soundtracks, and the funeral homes' melodies, with a musical phrase for every name on the credits; which sounded eventually discordant.
And that cat ?? What was that already ?! It has no role, no comedic moments; it's just there to be cut to, maybe to rest a little from the weary cast, or that astray plot !
In short, this is so dry Laurel and Hardy movie, and one of the longest 80 minutes movies I have ever seen. It's based on one dull joke, which had been used, and overused, till triteness itself got a headache. And while it aspired after being a comedy of terrors, it ended up with no comedy, no terrors, just the terror of that mix's failure !
P.S : During the end credits, the camera follows that slow-moving cat while it goes nowhere. So why is that ?? Whatever the reason was, it embodied the sluggish and stray nature of this movie perfectly !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Plot Summary : In 1993, a young poor employee named (Mahdy) fails to
marry his fiancée, or face his executives' corruption. The government
gives high hopes by declaring that everything will get better in 2000,
hence (Mahdy) insists on freezing himself till 2000 in a big
refrigerator. After the project goes wrong, and (Mahdy) dies, his soul
meets other characters inside the refrigerator, where "Love Can't Die",
like the rooster of his neighbor (Khol'y), who knew about (Khol'y)'s
cheating wife. Then (Khol'y) himself, who gets killed and cut off by
his wife. However (Mahdy) becomes wrongfully accused of killing
(Khol'y), and the court gives him a death sentence ! In the morgue's
refrigerator, (Mahdy) meets so many people, as wronged and dead as him,
and plans with them for a revolution. The security forces vanquish that
revolution, and melt the dead people.
(Maher Awad) is one of the craziest scriptwriters in the Egyptian cinema's history. He was born in 1952, studied cinema in the Egyptian cinema institute, and wrote some memorable movies in short time; such as (Alaqzam Kademon) or (The Dwarfs are Coming) in (1987), (El Daraga El Talta) or (The Third-Class) in (1988), (Sam' Hoos) or (Silence Please) in (1991), and (Ya Mahalabia Ya) or (Oh, Mahalabia, Oh) in (1991). Through these movies, he presented so creative and so clever styles and atmospheres, which challenged boldly the common commercial movie, and its pretty old formulas.
This is the debut of Sudanese director (Said Hamed). He studied cinema in the Egyptian cinema institute as well, and it's clear that he and (Awad) aspired after a unique taste which the Egyptian cinema maybe never had before. So they showcased the daily life frustrations of the ordinary Egyptian citizen, yet through sci-fi and black comedy, which were, and still are, extremely scarce genres in the Arabic cinema.
The movie is funny and outlandish in the same time; and this is where its singularity shines. That wouldn't happen without a list of talents included : Star (Yehia El Fakhranni) as the lead character (watch well how his feelings of defeat transform into resistance). Editor (Sa'ed El Shikh). Director of photography (Mohosen Ahmed). Art director (Mohmed Hamam). And, for sure, (Mody El-Emam) who wrote the movie's music. Add to them a cartoon artist, I know personally, named (Osama Abo Zeed), who was hired to draw a storyboard for the whole movie, which was again something unfamiliar in the Egyptian cinema (and actually still is !).
On the other hand, the movie had some problems that led it to not "clicking" with the audience. The very low budget disappointed what could have been dazzling moments. The general pessimistic feel and the unhappy ending are there; which usually mean, in any cinema I think, turning into a flop in the box office. True that after 19 years, the "frozen people" did a "revolution" which defeated the "wrong" (in the January 25 Egyptian Revolution). And true that sometimes the sad ending generates enthusiasm more than the one generated by the happy ending. However, this movie didn't have much luck in its time. Additionally, it used elements which weren't close to the audience's taste and culture at that very time. For instance, in the 1990s start, zombies wasn't a popular subject at all in the Egyptian literature and cinema. So with low budget, melancholy and strangeness in the face of an exhausted, and not familiar with new experiments audience, the result wasn't a big hit.
(Hob fi Eltalaga) or (Love in the Refrigerator) is a bitter satire in a form of sci-fi black comedy. Imaginative, dark, ironic and daring to include all of the above together. Well, in our cinema you're allowed to do comedy, action, romance, musical, melodrama, but sci-fi ?? And black comedy ?? According to our movies of such genres, they're not genres, rather goners. Till now, 2016, it's not very frequent to dream a dream like (Love in the Refrigerator) in the Egyptian cinema. This is what makes it a courageous experiment. And despite its problems, it's still fresh.
P.S : Although director (Said Hamed) did many hit comedies later, between 1997 to this day, but none of them had anything to do with sci-fi or black comedy !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are specialized in parody
movies, just mentioning their names makes you scared more than
optimistic. They are famous for being the ones who actually killed the
genre in the 2000s by their many horrible comedies. Though, in this
parody of Twilight (2008), the matter is surprisingly different !
On one hand, it has its share of downsides. Bore is on their top. It is the archenemy of comedy, and regrettably there are kinds of it here. For instance, the heavy editing, which doesn't "cut" at the right moment, mostly cuts after it. The old jokes that seem recycled from The Naked Gun franchise (3 movies from 1988 to 1994), like the electric underwear, and having a funny fight in the background of a funny dialog. Jenn Proske, as the lead character, tucked her hair behind her ear for at least 7996 times ! True that this is a spoof of Kristen Stewart's performance in the original movie, but doing it in every moment of every scene gets on your nerves sorely, and gives the bore a party. And naturally, it isn't a Friedberg & Seltzer movie without their signature repulsive and dated gags; concerning farts, bloody wounds, sexual humor, handicapped people, contemporary products and The Kardashians !
But on the other hand, there are some positive points which's something totally new for Friedberg & Seltzer. Since the double meaning title, I felt some creative spirit that, thank god, didn't end there. Look at ideas like how Becca sees Edward in everyone and everything, how Jacob turns into Chihuahua, how his gang of werewolves looks gay. The second half was energetic and largely funny, having proofs of effort and smartness. Nearly everything related to the heroine's annoying sidekick is clever. And despite couple of gross out moments in it, the prom's climactic sequence was, and still is, the best Friedberg & Seltzer comedic sequence ever made to date.
This time it's clear that Friedberg & Seltzer didn't lean completely on the ugly dirty stuff which they adore. Hence, this is a PG-13 movie. But whether that was their choice, or something they were forced to do, they managed to handle the semi-clean comedy well. It pushes you to pray "God, make all of Friedberg & Seltzer's movies PG-13, because this is the way for their comedies to be not only bearable, but funny as well !".
As most of their movies, the cast consists of newcomers with no name actors. Fairly, they were OK, with a bit of charisma and talent. However, 2 performances stood alone; Anneliese van der Pol, from That's So Raven, and Diedrich Bader who can steal any show. By the way, I still wonder how come that Bader isn't in a lot of movies, as a lead or even co-lead, as he deserves ?!
Compared to Friedberg & Seltzer's previous duds, you can notice cinematic improvement. I mean this time there is things like music score, cinematography, atmosphere, and coherence. Generally, Vampires Suck is more movie-like, not static and poor TV sketches-like as we used to have from them, for years, under the name of parody.
So yes, this parody has some comedy, some cinema, some entertainment, being far from bad. However, it's not perfectly good either. It's rather half good. And as for Friedberg & Seltzer's known by heart level, this is quite super !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(Mohammed Saad) is such a good comedian. Through some minor and
co-starring roles in plays, TV shows and movies, he proved his talent
in performing slapstick and improvising jokes. After the smash success
of his breakthrough movie (Ellemby 2000), with playing a
half-retarded half-stoned guy, whether the producers forced him to play
variations on that character again and again, or simply he has
nothing to do but that !
In his first decade as a star, hope not to be his last, he's always a character that has problems speaking, moving, and thinking. Whatever the name of the movie, or the name of his character is (always the same by the way) he speaks in absolute nonsense, moves in too exaggerated ways, and acts between dumbness and hysteria. Now in (Karkar), double all of that into 20 !
There is nothing in this movie but (Saad). And, most probably, there is nothing he does is written. And, surely, there is nothing of his material that works. (Karkar) is not merely one the worst movies (Saad) ever did; it's some of the worst moments ever captured on film !
(Saad) plays half of the movie's characters, all bizarre noisy characters, using every possible way he has to make laughs, which turns out to be the ugliest : shrill screams, incomprehensible words, dead gags, nasty curses, slaps to everybody, disgusting dances, with repeating all of that non-stop to the last atom in your patience. The women he played (more of a drag queen) is emetic, the father is boring if not creepy, and the title character isn't anywhere close to be bearable. Yet, no one will irritate you more than (Saad) himself !
Aside from (Saad), all who participated in this movie should be ashamed of themselves. Was there one element, rather one moment, that anybody could call creative or clever ?! As for the script, it's pretty obvious that there wasn't a "real" script. Instead, a general agreement about some scenes, and all the blanks would be perfectly filled later by (Saad)'s gobbledygook !
As for the pace, it's something this movie doesn't know, so how about being a comedy ? Actually comedy without a pace is like a beach without a sea ! The movie makers let (Saad) do anything he wants in front of the camera, for all the time he needs. I felt that he for a rare time in any cinema was left to improvise while the camera was shooting, with no editing after. Originally, forget about the editing because I think there wasn't any, maybe some moments were edited out for other actors to make you concentrate on the main star only. Look at the dance of Karkar's father, that father's speech about marriage, the madhouse's scene, or imitating the cats on the bed. OH MY GOD. It's ridiculous to tormenting extent !
As for the cast, (Hassan Hosny) does the same of what he used to do in his last 100 movies, done in the last 10 years, however with being kissed on the mouth by Saad this time. (Alaa Mourse) is here to be slapped on the face endlessly. And (Yassmen Abd El Aziz) ?? How could she bear being in this ?! Fairly, the sole funny thing in this movie was its leaning to be extremely serious near the end !
With (Saad) playing many awful characters, directors surrendering utterly to fulfill all what he desires, and producers spending money on things like this historical dudthen we're in a case of vanity, artlessness, and foolishness. Hence the result is something not entertaining, just painful.
"Karkar" in Arabic slang stands for guffaw. According to this movie, I don't think so. Because silliness wasn't more hard, heavy and free like that before. And during the past 15 years, the call for an Egyptian Razzie never buzzed this loud. I believe (Mohammed Saad) is a force of nature. Like the lightning's electricity, he needs to be controlled to be used correctly. Otherwise, terrible disasters, like (Karkar), are what happen when he's left loose. So eventually this movie can be fit for one thing; being a good warning message for both : The producers and (Saad). If only they would learn !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After many extremely awful parodies, such as Date Movie, Epic Movie,
Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie, and The Starving Gamesfinally the
writing and directing duo, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, did
something good. This time, while they parody The Fast and the Furious
franchise, there is some kind of plot, actual funny lines and
situations, a number of really nice ideas, and a conscience to review
the downsides of its original. Well, late is better than never !
The script created plenty of lovable moments; like the scene of the plan's explanation, the running gag of misunderstanding the girlfriend's carriage, and the evil guy's anger towards his dumb henchman. Not to mention, it satirized the original's stereotypes as Rapper Cameo, Cool Asian Guy, and Model Turned Actress. And cleverly spoofed its leads' marks : Dwayne Johnson's muscles, Michelle Rodriguez's masculinity, and Paul Walker's idiotic aspect.
But while it's surely less stupid than Friedberg & Seltzer's previous dogs, Superfast isn't wholly smart. It lacks cinematic craft, and sometimes lacks cinema itself. For obvious examples : Couple of scenes dragged to the edge of bore, the editing is heavy-handed in some places, and the direction is between lazy and nonexistent. It's a tangible problem in their previous work too, which assures that they don't have enough potential to direct.
Over and above, few jokes were pretty old to be used (the foot that gets longer after being ran over by a car, keeping the skeleton of a dead guy.. ). The production was beyond poor; the movie looks made in one warehouse and one street. Save Dale Pavinski as Vin Diesel's caricature, Omar Chaparro as the laughably nervous evil guy, and the beautiful Lili Mirojnickthe cast consists of some actors with the least charisma and talent.
Despite its foibles, this is surprisingly enjoyable comedy. I don't think that this has something to do with its PG-13 rating. Because Friedberg & Seltzer's 2013 movie, The Starving Games, was PG-13 as well, though crowded with blood, farts, and other sources of hideousness. I believe it has something to do with the way how they challenged themselves to accomplish a comedy that doesn't count on toilet humor, sex jokes, bad language, and free nudity (namely the easy filthiness and cheapness), while having in the same time the ambition of early classic parodies such as The Naked Gun series, in terms of coherence and visual comedy.
Superfast is the first movie by Friedberg & Seltzer that could be watched more than once (or watched in the first place !). And after 15 years of ruthless flops, that's a historical achievement which the entire human race must learn from, and follow its example !
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sure Robert Redford the movie's director, producer, and star had an
ambition of a movie that could say something about the 1960s
anti-establishment activist youth, and their dream of changing the
world, while being in the same time a thriller, a la The Fugitive,
with a chased innocent hero who's chasing the truth. Wonderful ambition
that is. But who said that good movies are made by wonderful ambitions
The plot is all over the place. We have a running lead who meets many old friends, chatters with them, then continues running. We have a reporter who does researches, chatters with his boss, then continues researching. We have different friends that have a past with the lead, a police officer who's determined to catch the lead, and a daughter who the lead abandoned years ago, and grew up not knowing her real parents (a straggling story-line from an old Indian melodrama !). So for most of the time, you would feel lost and bored; just the second is the worst thing could happen in a thriller if you asked me !
Moreover, the script makes many mistakes along the way. For starters, the time-line was a mess. According to the movie, the Weather Underground militant did their bank robbery in 1980 as a part of their refusal to Vietnam war; while Vietnam war itself ended in 1975 ! Actually the script was capable of making its accident happen in 1970, as it could have been logically, while saying that the present events take place 30 years later, in 2000. But it didn't do that, maybe to avert recreating the 2000 atmosphere. So, instead, it made its leads crazy people, who oppose a war 5 years after its end !
Shia LaBeouf plays a young reporter who discovers that the lead deluded the police for 30 years, then discovers his long-concealed first daughter, then discovers his exact whereabouts near the end ??!! Well, he must be smart. Ultra Columbo, and Einstein, smart !! The police are mobilizing all their forces, and scientific weapons, for locating the lead; as if he's the most wanted man on the plant ! The lead escapes from his cabin in the woods, to surrender to the police seconds later ?! Then, in the end, what could be the reasons that pushed Julie Christie's character to change her mind, and confess to the police ?! What could be the reasons that made the reporter change his mind, and avoid exposing the lead's history ?! And how that adopted daughter's story-line was left incomplete as if it's unnecessary ?!
This movie has one of the best casts ever. It could have been a blast, a blessing, but no such luck. They're strangely wasted. Save Susan Sarandon's character, there aren't nicely written characters, or characters, to perform. I'm asking bitterly what Brendan Gleeson, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Sam Elliott, and Terrence Howard are doing here exactly ?!! What a pity to use all of them for merely saying couple of lines. Neglecting the characters, to become that empty, is enraging (even cameos have to be memorable than this !). And when these very characters are handled to a long list of highly gifted actors; then it's disappointing too !
Redford as an actor was at his weakest condition. His reactions were inanimate more than low key. And for most of the time, he looked unfocused or uninvolved. Not to mention that he was 20 years older than his character, being 76 year old at the time. Hence matters like having an 11 year old child, and implying making love with his old girlfriend (old indeed !), were more like unfunny jokes ! Speaking about his old flame, Julie Christie was 71 year old, and worse seemed suffering a gluttony of Botox, to have the most stretched face in movie history. It was so stretched you can see the camera in it ! Shia LaBeouf looks nerdy already, so when they put him in a makeup and haircut to emphasize that nerdy look; the result was EXTREME nerd !
Film critic Rex Reed wrote in The New York Observer that the movie has "keen, well-crafted direction of a master filmmaker at the top of his form" !! OK, you can say that about other movies by Redford, like Ordinary People (1980), and Quiz Show (1994), but this time, it's baloney. Because Redford is executing more than directing. The dialogs are filmed blandly, with artless cadres and monotonous cuts. He even didn't want to underline the thrilling parts, even if they were few. Therefore the whole movie felt like an endless and pointless talk show.
Pros : Sarandon's "clarity" interview while she was in custody, Redford and Christie's reproach talk by the fire, and Redford and Richard Jenkins's conversation about SDS ("Students for a Democratic Society"; the 1960s activist movement), and the never coming second American revolution, in a fine art exhibition; as if the noble ideas have become no more than paintings in some hall, not applied principles in the society.
The Company You Keep is about those knights of the 1960s, whom dreamed of changing their country, and while some of them committed shameful sins, all of them ended up defeated, detached, and desperate. Though, someone must tell their story to the kids of today; as the movie says in its best line, and embodies in its last shot. However in terms of that story, Redford didn't achieve any victory. He couldn't make a fine movie about it, or a fine thriller out of it either. Even that last shot was quasi-naive, and too artistic for this movie's own good !
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