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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
One of the bad ones...., 7 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am about half-way through the entire Deep Space Nine series, and some of these 'filler' episodes are agitating to watch. Don't get me wrong, I understand that to enjoy most Star Trek materials, there needs to be some suspension of logic (especially the time travel episodes). Deep Space Nine is prime-time TV science fiction from the 90's, it can't be measured with the same yardstick as more mature and sophisticated productions like Battlestar Galactica: Re-imagined. This is where Ron Moore cut his teeth, and I always felt that many of Deep Space Nine's episodes were quite impressive and demonstrated his writing talent. But having made that disclaimer, I have to say that the script for this episode stands out as particularly bad.

The Klingons have declared war on the Cadassians. Since the Federation refused to support the invasion, Chancellor Gowron declares the Federation-Klingon peace treaty/alliance to be null and void. Worf, while commanding the Defiant on a convoy escort mission in a 'combat zone', is harassed by Klingon warships. After a number of 'shoot-then-cloak' attacks against the Defiant, Worf decides to adapt to the strategy and fires on a ship just as it de-cloaks, destroying the ship. As it turns out, the ship is actually a Klingon civilian transport with some 400 passengers on board. So the Klingons are apparently outraged and demand Worf's extradition to the Klingon Empire where he can stand trial for "murder." The premise for the story is virtually nonsensical. It is inconceivable that the Federation would even consider extraditing Quark under such circumstances, let alone one of their own officers. That the Klingons would make such a request is suspicious enough, but what's worse is that none of the obvious questions were asked during Worf's extradition proceedings.

Why would a Klingon civilian transport ship be equipped with a cloaking device? Why would you install classified military hardware on a civilian transport ship to begin with, then send it to a combat zone? What conceivable reason would there be to cloak a run-of-the-mill civilian transport ship? Are there cloaking device dispenser booths on every planet in the Empire to ensure that every Klingon and their grandmothers owned a ship cloaking device? Why did the civilian transport ship de-cloak in the middle of a battle between Federation and Klingon warships? It seems the answers would be obvious, and one hardly needs to rely on Odo's contacts in the Klingon Empire to dig up some incriminating evidence that would indisputably establish this extradition as a farce (speaking of which, for someone so anti-social, Odo seems to have a lot of social 'contacts'....). I would not have taken this episode so seriously if it didn't take itself so seriously (I don't care to run the premise of the Ferengi episodes through a fine comb, because they are just plain fun to watch), and as I said, this one stand out as particularly bad.

4 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Awful., 23 June 2011

'Attack on Darfur' marks one of Uwe Boll's first foray outside of the 'video-game to film' genre, a category of films familiar to us not for its tendency to be award winning, cutting edge, artistic, or intellectually sophisticated productions, but more because they tend to involve bad acting, gratuitous violence, nonsensical character motivations and plot-lines, low production value, and generally anything you can think of when you think of trashy flicks intended to turn the audience's brains off for a couple of hours.

In an attempt to gain recognition as s 'serious' film director and producer, Boll decides to tackle more 'serious' topics for his films--by making a video-game caricature of the civil war in Sudan: poor and oppressed African villagers in Darfur are slaughtered by maniacally evil Arab oppressors, while kindhearted white 'Westerners' helplessly look on, wondering why there is no international effort to 'get involved' and halt the atrocities (Like video game protagonists, the American journalists in the film decide to pick up guns and conduct their own little covert operation).

This is, of course, not what is actually happening in Sudan since the onset of the civil strife--it's a caricature, that reduces the complexity of the genocide to a simplistic one-sided affair that rather conveniently effaces much of its reality, in which numerous oil based economies from the US to China were in fact already implicated in generating the violent conflicts unfolding in Sudan, thus making it possible to fabricate a myth of 'international (military) intervention' as one of 'heroic rescue.' Apparently, Boll doesn't know that the word 'Arab' in Sudan is used in a different context than how it is widely (mis)used in Europe and North America, so he recruits a number of actors who look like they are of Middle-east descent to play the Sudanese Arab militia. The result is a poorly researched, poorly conceived, 'political-drama wannabe' that shares the same signatures as Hollywood action flicks: bad guys have bad aim, guns never need reloading, and every random person in the film has received small-arms training and can effectively use any firearm that is handed to them. The shaky cam technique, already over-exploited as a cheap method for conveying a sense of 'amateur realism' and 'immersion', makes an appearance here in a vain effort by Boll to induce motion sickness that he hopes will be confused by the audience as revulsion over the subject matter and the film's portrayal of violence. What it ends up producing, however, is depression.

What is depressing is not only the level of ignorance exhibited by the film and its director, but the number of reviewers who seem to think that this garbage delivers an accurate portrayal of the Sudanese civil war accompanied by a well-meaning political message. Meanwhile, Boll fires off angry letters to the press that his film is not being endorsed by supposedly progressive Hollywood celebrities, with all the righteous indignity of a crusading philanthropist that in fact turns out to be baseless.

I use to think that Boll was some sort of misunderstood talent that had a knack for subtle parodies and self-depreciation. I realize now that I was wrong.

Kamui (2009)
6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Silly beyond the point of redemption, 20 June 2011

After reading the other (positive) reviews, I am still unclear what redeeming qualities this film (purportedly) has. I am particularly boggled by the fact that some of the previous reviewers argued that the film was worth a watch or even deserved to be considered a "classic" (really?) without supplying any explanations or actual reasons, nor provide a comparison between this film and other films in the same genre (although, in what genre would this film really belong? 'Trashbin flicks'?). In fact, I wonder if we actually sat through the same film.

To provide a quick synopsis, the film has a premise (a rogue ninja hunted by other ninjas, trying to find a 'safe harbour'), but no plot. The story meanders through a series of cliché scenes with predictable outcomes, occasionally interrupted by people flying on wires performing 'special moves' that needed a narrator's help to explain (I guess if you like being treated as an idiot, this film might be for you...), ridiculous twists with nonsensical motivations, and animal cruelty that even I--someone not anything close to being a card-carrying member of PETA--found rather distasteful.

At some point, the only way to rationalize why we continue to subject ourselves to this filmatic torture was to find some small solace in nit-picking the technical errors and nonsensical development of the story. For example, I don't think the writer actually understood -how- crucifixion works as a form of capital punishment (puncturing the prisoner's body actually works to undermine its effects), and I particularly didn't think it was good parenting to have your 14 old year daughter take off her cloth and use her body to warm a stranger of sketchy background.

I've never read the manga, and after watching this film, I have no desire to. So if translating the manga into film was intended to extend and expand the franchise, it's failed to do that with me. I am not sure how anyone but the most fervent fans of the manga series might find this film appealing. If you have an attention span of longer than 3 minutes, I recommend you avoid this mess altogether.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Pretty to watch but not enough substance, 24 February 2011

If this was an American film, there would be truckloads of guns, gallons of blood, more dead bodies than I have fingers, and raging masculinity. The rapists would be Yakuza leaders who castrate their subordinates at whim and terrorize entire neighbourhoods as full time employment, laughing at impotent/incompetent/corrupt police investigators as they escalate their rampage. They would be so incomprehensibly evil that the audience would have little choice but to share a sense of vindication when the rapists' heads explode from a twelve gauge at point blank range after the avenging protagonist dispense one-liners like "I'll be back..." or "do you believe in Buddha? Well, you're gonna meet him." Also, there would be at least one glimpse of bare female breasts.

Alas, this film is not one of those formulaic Hollywood trash flicks, and it's not some standard crime-drama out to deliver elementary moral messages about juvenile delinquency or 'law and order' (and anyone who thinks it is, wasn't paying attention), and here it stands out.

Instead, the film focuses on the characters who are connected, however loosely, to the tragedy of the abduction and murder of Nagamine's daughter, from the police detectives investigating the case (and later attempting to apprehend him) to the country lodge hostess and her father where Nagamine stays during his search for the last rapist. But 'focus' is not the right word, because we never come to know any of the characters. They are like blank slates with no backgrounds. Other than the grieving father out to avenger his daughter, they have no motivations. They are strangers you will never get to know, whose fates you will never come to care about even as the end credits roll. So in spite of the score, the performances, and the desire to render a story premise more complex than simply 'revenge', in the end, the film simply becomes unmemorable.

On a side note, one thought came to me as I watched the scene where the police enters an abandoned mansion to apprehend a suspect without semi-automatics, gas masks, and a portable ram, just flash lights: Americans -do- live in a police state.

85 out of 147 people found the following review useful:
Makes you think....if you have never exercised that brain function before., 30 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I can see why this direct rip-off from a season of '24' received so many negative reviews (although the rating average on IMDb still boggles me). This film engages in classic manipulation 101, by affirming and propagating some problematic cultural assumptions as facts, then blanketing over them with cinematic devices of distraction and sleight-of-hand.

The distractions are the A-list stars who attached their names to this film and the performances they give, without which the glaring holes and gaps in the plot and character motivations would be blatantly apparent. This is evidenced by a number of reviewers here who professed that they were on the "edge-of-their-seats" and captivated by this "thriller" despite the fact that they didn't understand why Younger did not seem to anticipate that his wife and children would be used as bargaining chips (when he supposedly anticipated almost everything else), or why Younger would turn himself in and risk the discovery of the bombs. These reviewers make the people who think that this film is somehow "anti-American" come across as slightly sophisticated, because I am fairly certain that actual military/contractor interrogators, who (should) understand that physical torture is a limited (and only one of many) interrogation technique, would find Jackson's character and his persistence on physical torture when it is clearly not working to be absurd and laughable. These reviewers are under the impression--manipulated by the film to think--that the film is about some moral reflection on whether torture can be justified if the situation is dire enough.

This is not what the film is about.

This film is about (melo)dramatizing certain assumptions and rendering them compelling and believable enough to be taken as fact. One such assumption is that only 'terrorists' face the possibility of torture in the name of US national security, which is a neat sleight-of-hand to obfuscate the fact that the majority of people who have actually been imprisoned and abused in the "War on Terror"--for example, in places like Abu-Graib, Guantanamo Bay, and other 'black sites'--are not guilty or even charged with any crimes related to 'terrorism.' But questions about how entire categories of people have become disposable in the name of security is blanketed over by the film which tells the audience that the only question we should be concerned about is whether we should prioritize morality or survival when confronted with the "ticking time-bomb" scenario. How did this 'scenario' come to be? It doesn't matter, the film tells us, because the antagonist is "Muslim"--as if that explains everything. What it explains is the other assumption the film affirms, that the writers and the producers hope no one will be conscious of, which is that all Muslims are 'suspect', and 'they' hate 'us'--an assumption that slides perfectly into a dominant cultural explanation for '9/11' and the subsequent 'War on Terror', as evidenced by some threads in the IMDb message forum where some posters have parroted all the tiresome rhetoric we've all heard countless times from government and military officials, talking sock puppets, and films.

There seems to be a 'commonsensical' notion floated by numerous reviews that something can be (cultural) 'propaganda' only if it can be easily recognized as such. If it's easily recognized as such, then it no longer fulfills that function. And the fact that so many people were entertained by this film without an inkling of its pedagogical function is a clear indication of the intensity of its manipulation.

Rendition (2007)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Depoliticizes a highly political issue., 27 May 2010

If evaluated on its own terms, this is a decent liberal attempt to articulate something resembling a critique about the "War on Terror." But the fact that the US outsources torture comes across as disturbing or informative to those who have had the privilege of not having to know is downright insulting to others. The movie conveys the impression that "rendition" is an exception to the norm limited to a few highly publicized cases, when it is in fact a practice that is deployed far more widely than what the mainstream American media would have us believe. What followed in the film was an attempt to deliver some important messages as a Hollywood narrative, replete with formulaic techniques, through characters with unbelievable motivations (in particular the Jack Ryan-wannabe played by Gyllenhaal). All the references to US foreign policy and post-9/11 security policies dropped -into- the film are never fully developed and then dropped -from- the film altogether as the story progressed. On those terms, there really isn't much distance between this movie and made-for-idiots shows like "Twenty-four."

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
What?, 27 May 2010

I am not sure what this movie was aiming for. Entertainment? Fail. A historical expose? Fail. Plot? Fail. Acting? Hahaha.....

"Lame" does not adequately describe this Hollywood trash. Comparing this movie to other movies of the same genre (eg. "Young Guns") just insults the other movies. All of rave reviews here come across as if they are written by 12 year old girls, and even then it's a bit shocking for me to see them gushing and fawning over this poor excuse for a movie. It's hard to imagine how anyone with even a single brain cell kicking would find this trash to be enjoyable. This film receives one star from me because I can't give half-stars on IMDb.

Re-cycle (2006)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Naive, 27 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is so damn preachy, I figured out the intended message about 1/3 through. It's funny to see so many reviewers and comments disavowing an obvious political message that can only be described as politically naive.

But even the most expensive CG effects and subtle religious intimidation disguised as emotional blackmail cannot allow you to chart a straight path through what is in fact a complex political issue. Eye candy is no substitute for genuine creativity (of thinking). This film is just completely thoughtless, abort it from your "to see" list (pun intended).

Repetition of compulsory patriotism, 29 April 2010

"Oppose the war, support the troops"--This tiresome message that some self-identified American "liberals" believe bridges the partisan divide in US politics has become the M.O. of countless American war films and and documentaries since the Vietnam War. It's tiresome because it actually works to re-center US soldiers as 'victims', deflect attention from those most victimized by wars, and generally erases the larger politics in which it is not the individual soldiers, but nationalism, that is most complicit with the violence of war we have now habituated ourselves to as part of the everyday, that we can simply switch off, click away, and ignore.

The soldiers here are real people, and the documentary shows that (unlike de Palma's "Redacted" which, while not a documentary, pilfered docu-aesthetics to appear as one, and failing miserably in its delivery because the characters were so one-dimensional). The Iraqis are rarely shown here, except as malcontents pelting rocks at military Humvee, suspected 'insurgents' having their homes broken into late at night, and getting arrested for the sketchiest of reasons. The film attempts to shore up critical reflections on the Iraq debacle near the end, but only as an attempt to convey the impression of a 'balanced view-point.' A passing grade because the film at least tried--even though it fails.

Bratz (2007)
0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
I hope they never make a sequel to this film...oh...wait...dang.., 28 April 2010

O..M...G...I heart the Bratz! This flick was da bomb! My fav is Jade, but I luv them all! I learned soooo much from the Bratz. Like, what do you do when you don't want to go to a party but you have to go because you would be seen as an outcast if you don't go? Put on tons of make-up, buy new cloths, and accessorize! I totally get the "be yourself, but dress like Britney and Avril!" message. I love how the four friends band together to resist the school cliques, because four friends who think they are better than everyone else does not make a clique! The racial stereotypes were totally dead on! Nerdy Asian chick, sassy black chick, dumb blonde white chick...people are really that easy to classify! Yeah....this film is worse than crap. It's actually HARMFUL to your brain, young girls' self-esteem, the ozone layer, and countless other things.

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