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Let me start off by saying that the original Slayers are some of my favorite anime. With that in mind, my hopes and expectations for this new season were impossibly high. Slayers Revolution came out somewhere in the middle. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't very good. All our beloved characters have been reduced to tropes with only the newer characters getting anything resembling emotions. Empy gimmicks that don't get laughs and characters acting in certain ways just because they're supposed to, its really a sad excuse for writing. Soulless. All in all it wasn't a bad watch, the story was semi-solid with only nitpicks for problems. I hated how they absolutely would not reference past seasons even though there was every reason to, talking about things as if they had never encountered them before or there was no past history (This isn't really a spoiler, but Sylphiel talking about the Demon Beast Zanifar as if she doesn't know anything about it is the most stupid thing ever). The time line of events kept shifting and changing to the point where it wasn't clear at all how much time has passed between back story and current times (Years? Decades? Centuries?). I think the most disappointing part was just how empty all the characters were and how there was never a real sense of danger. Lina didn't have any of her usual underdog humility to offset her bratty behavior. Gourry might as well have been a post for all he did (and whatever happened to their undercurrent? It was nonexistent). Zelgadas had none of his dry wit or any of his usual selfish motivations, going along with everything just because, "What choice do we have?" Prince Philonel was REASONABLE (Since when?) and Xellos was another placeholder without any of his usual mischievousness (with one notable exception), all the best characters seemingly on the screen for no other reason than because they're supposed to be there. To sum, its not so bad that it will ruin the old ones for you, but it's not even in the same ballpark with the first three seasons.
A leap of faith cruelly abused
When previews for the latest Pirates movies started showing in theaters, I noticed a general rumble around me and on at least three occasions heard someone comment to a fellow, "Really? Again?" For a long time I boycotted the sequels to the original Pirates, but I finally watched them and they weren't THAT bad. So with this one, I thought I'd give it a go.
Not awful, but certainly not up to the Pirates standard.
There were so many things about the first Pirates movie that made it spectacular. The music was exciting, the writing was subtle and effective, the humor was 100% on point and the action was new and entertaining. As the 'trilogy' went on, some of those things dwindled, but there was always intelligent writing (even if it did get convoluted at points) and there was a sense of the magnificent in them that I always really enjoyed.
The fourth Pirates did not manage to tap any of these great wells. The music was tired and in the background. At one point, early in the film, we get a rehash of the original score which livened things up for a good six seconds before the score just... stopped (apparently Jack is losing his finesse).
The writing that made the first movie so enjoyable is almost nonexistent here and it really hurts the development of new characters. Blackbeard, the replacement villain, is underwritten, under-motivated, and his 'powers' are unexplained. In the first movies at least when something out of the ordinary happened, it had SOME explanation! Cruz's character is a weak replacement of Elizabeth, who managed to have a strong background and base character that evolved over the course of the movie. We don't know where Cruz's character is from, what she would be doing on a day-to-day basis if this 'quest' weren't underway. We don't find anything out about her at all except ambiguous hints at a past with Jack. It's boring. Will Turner's replacement is a good looking religious-type who stands up against Blackbeard's brutality... with no real consequences. In the original there was a sense of danger for Will when he stood against Barbossa to save his lady fair. You actually *believed* Barbossa would kill him, or make Elizabeth walk the plank. In this, there is just no palpable danger.
Humor? Very little.
Action! I'm not usually critical of action sequences, but there was one fight scene in this film, taking up three to four minutes, that actually had me bored because it was almost a step-for-step rehash of the fight scene between Jack and Will Turner in the blacksmith's. Really?! The action in this film wasn't new or exciting or smooth. It was just... boring. Someone else described Jack's escapes as 'going from James Bond to Austin Powers' and I couldn't agree more. Jack doesn't really seem able to control his own destiny in this movie, more of a sufferer of others' will than an agent of his own and that's just sad.
The sense of the magnificent is totally absent in this movie. That may relieve some people who found an expanding goddess exploding into crabs or a ship-battle amidst a maelstrom too far, but it really detracts from the feel of the movie. It's not that incredible things don't happen... they just don't *feel* incredible. The mermaid scene, for example, would have been haunting in a previous film. For this one, it just seemed boring. (Possible spoiler, but nothing that affects the plot) There was a completely idiotic moment where Jack and Barbossa are trying to balance their weight in Ponce De Leon's ship (which looks as if it has somehow become embedded in the side of a cliff well above sea level... again, explanation writers?), but then you realize they're in the captain's quarters at one end of the ship and it wouldn't be teetering that way even if it wasn't already established that it's BURIED in a cliff! The whole movie was atmoshperically gloomy. There was no sunshine, no Caribbean blue waters, nothing to really excite the eye. No danger, no real excitement, no wonder. Just... unremarkable in every way. I really blame the writers for the majority of this failure, but the director had fault in some areas too. Put some heart into your work, people.
Death of a Ghost Hunter (2007)
I hate to say that this was a really bad movie, because I like to think there is a gem in every bad horror flick and especially because I already spent nearly two hours watching it, but this was really a bad movie on multiple fronts.
My biggest problem: story development. Closely followed by my second biggest problem: unbelievably long. Which was exacerbated by my other problems: badddd acting, bad script
See, the bad acting and bad script are forgivable for about the first hour when I still had hope that the story might be worth a d^mn. And I'm an incredibly patient person, so when I turned on the time remaining and saw that after an hour and a half I still had twenty minutes left(!) I thought my head might explode. Compound that with the fact that by that point I STILL had no idea how this whole story came together (many people have complained about predictability, but I'm going to have to go the other way. So much was left until the horrible 'recap' moment at the end, I had no f^cking clue what was going on. I'd thought that somehow the movie makers had forgotten about the drowned baby?! (Pulling a Paranormal Entity, you can't predict the end if you've been given false information at the beginning!) But the story, ultimately, is what is making my head throb at this very moment. A poorly made movie with low budget effects can be saved by an interesting story. Unfortunately, I don't find completely unbelievable Christian psycho-zealots interesting or believable. I don't say that because I'm a devout Christian or because I don't believe there are insane people out there, but because there is NO way in our society that what was supposedly transpiring at the Masterson household would go for twenty years undiscovered. You're telling me that police didn't find the freshly buried grave of Miranda? You're telling me the cop didn't report the nearly drowned infant, at which point anyone who KNEW the family would say, 'well they didn't have a baby?!' You're telling me that out of the fifteen odd photos of girls that had been abused in this fashion that NO ONE ever came forward? You're telling me that the police did no investigation into the murders and took the wife's suicide note word for it, 'look, I know my prints are on the murder weapon, but I totally didn't do this'? This story at its most basic level, sucks. Everyone out there who is so excited about the story must have just totally nutted over the Amityville horror (also stupid). Mix into that the fact that we have to deal with the stereotypical aggressive Christian girl who is obviously NOT supposed to be there for at least an hour and by god I might strap a black box onto my head and start killing people!
Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. And the 'paranormal activity' in the house wasn't even that scary! Totally overdone and not threatening at all! Get me the Tylenol!
Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
Plot Mauled by Bears
It's a sequel, not supposed to be as good as the first, and yet I was still pretty let-down by this sad excuse for a working sequel. Three complaints:
1. WHY were the two movies intertwined? What a terrible idea! You know what happens when you write an interwoven sequel to a movie that wasn't made with such a plot in mind? You get ridiculous, gaping, irritating plot holes and a movie that makes NO good sense.
2. Pacing totally sucked. I'm not an impatient person, but this movie had me YAWNING! Tossing, turning, cleaning, anything I could do to pass what seemed like an hour of NOTHING happening! Maybe I was a bit amped up to see what was going on because I was trying to figure out what the hell the movie could be about since it happened before the first one!!!
3. Plot again. Micah finds what he thinks is haunting his girlfriend in the first movie. Possession explained. THEN teenage daughter finds a COMPLETELY different explanation for what's happening in the second flick. And they are allowed to coexist like that. Some questions that are just eating me alive: If the 'demon' wanted to brat, why does it possess mommy and then aunty? Why not wait till the kid was old enough to possess on its own? And you're telling me that the whole time this crap was going on at one sister's house and the other sister doesn't even HEAR about it? Like, 'hey, I know you were getting haunted last month and now its at my house... you're right they're probably unrelated'.
Fools. They could have made a PA2 that had NOTHING to do with the first one and still made a good movie! Instead, what do we get but this sad plot and the same rehashed gimmicks? Pathetic.
Two stars. One scene was actually pretty cool/surprising
Paranormal Entity (2009)
Originality is not always equal in value to execution
I got into the bad position of wanting to see 'Paranormal Activity' and having netflix offer the dreaded rip-off 'Paranormal Entity'. Rip-offs can never be as good as the original! So I waited and got the real deal and watched it. Then, after I'd mulled it over for a few weeks I went back and watched 'Paranormal Entity' which I have to say was the more entertaining film. (Shocker!) If you've never seen either film, go for either, or both! If you like one, you'll like the other and visa-versa. However, in a side-by-side comparison there are a couple of places 'Entity' really outshined 'Activity' in my opinion.
1. Characters - while the brother in 'Entity' was vaguely annoying, and I didn't buy the chemistry between him and his sister AT ALL (a brother shouldn't stare at his sister's bazongas that much, but she was kind of throwing it out there...) Regardless, I find the trio of Mom, Bro and Sis a lot less irritating and more collaborative than the constantly bickering, smarmy Micah and Katie. If I wanted to watch bf/gf fights I'd turn on reality TV. With 'Entity' there is a feeling of internal unity in the family that makes you feel like we're all allies. And then you have Micah... tongue in cheek, taunting, undermining, escalating. Thanks a pantload for that.
2. Motive/Threat - I enjoyed the fact that the ghost in 'Entity' had a clear entry point and motive to his haunting. Maybe it's because I'm female, but the knowledge that this spirit's rumblings were all leading up to a rape made it MUCH more scary and intense for me. What could be more classically unsettling than violation by an evil spirit?? On the reverse side, 'Activity' had a weak explanation for continuity of the hauntings (on and off for years... not very immediately threatening) and if you throw in that garbage the sequel offered for explanation you have even more questions and less sense of a clear motive. Whoever thought up that mess of a story needs to stop writing.
The effects weren't as subtle, the hysteria was higher, and the story was a COMPLETE rip-off, but I'd have to say I'm a lot more satisfied with 'Entity'. Not everyone will be.