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An immature and under-developed Shell
For fans of the original film and the 2004 follow-up Innocence, this will be both impressive and disappointing. It seems to be intended as the first part of a TV series rather than a film, so it feels abrupt and under-developed. I may be biased as someone who deeply appreciates robot sci-fi stories but also has high expectations for them.
For first time viewers of any Ghost in the Shell animation, this may be as mind-opening and impressive as the other 2, although the animation style reverts to the original and may seem a little old to people used to more recent animation/cartoon advances. The essence of the science-fiction story remains, with some more modern realism thrown in to keep the story relevant.
The makers should either rebuild and expand this into a proper film or follow-up with another short film that fills in the gaps and then combine the 2. It would be sad to see a great film series like this turn into half-developed TV melodrama.
Flesh, TX (2009)
Low Budget Guts Potential Horror Classic
Money for 2 more weeks of edit/review time and post-production could have turned this into a horror classic. Great story line, even if a bit of a stretch, along with some very realistic nuances along the way bring it to life.
As it is, it's basically the 2000s version of a B-movie. The audio is horrible and there are some scenes that are begging to be cut as the actors are basically left to ad-lib. A little time to step away and watch this again would have made this obvious while better post-production (or maybe just any) would have edited it out.
What isn't hurt by the budget is the acting. They clearly found lots of unknown talent on the cheap. Too bad they couldn't find a wardrobe and sound person equally cheap.
Hopefully, this film gets picked up by a bigger studio that gives it the attention it deserves. The writer and director definitely deserve another film with actual, skilled post-production people as much as this film deserves the same and an attempt to redistribute to theaters.
No Uncertainty - a copycat film to capitalize on a hot actor
I can understand when an actor gets hot wanting to capitalize on it and make some money, and of course this is even truer for film companies, but this is just pathetic. It's so obvious here and the film is so pointless that I can't see why the actor or studio would want to risk their reputation on the potential for a very quick buck that may lead both to being unemployed again for an extended period while the certain stench of this film wears off.
Another reviewer mentioned Run Lola Run. In concept, yes, there's a similarity, but don't confuse the two or hope for something remotely near that quality. I never even thought of Run Lola Run watching this and I feel like I'm insulting that film even mentioning it. I expect this will get dumped on theaters around Valentine's day to make some easy money. Run Lola Run is a great film that can be watched at any time of the year, and I highly recommend that instead if you want a suspenseful relationship film with actual uncertainty.
Hooking Up (2009)
One of the Best Teen Films in History
As teen films go, it doesn't get much better. Yeah, the acting may not be perfect, but it's very believable and you'll find yourself woven into the story, feeling it.
It's unique or near unique in the approach. This isn't a happy ending teen romantic comedy. It's comedy, it has romance, and of course nudity because it's intended for young males mostly, but this is a film that girls must see. There's enough male flesh that teen girls don't have to be concerned about suffering though just the typical teen guys with lots of hot naked chicks film.
It's also an excellent story for guys without sisters. It brings reality and perspective into teen relationships while still being funny and sexy and having a good enough soundtrack to not feel like it's another film directed to sell you old music.
The Invention of Lying (2009)
The Invention of Intelligent Romantic Comedy
An inventive, quirky, funny, love story morphed into some sort of alternate Earth that reminds me of a film like The Truman Show.
It's extremely well thought out from beginning to end. Sideways, Meet the Fockers and American Pie certainly deserve mention as other great romantic comedies, but this literally raises the bar sky high. So, let's call it the invention of sci-fi romantic comedy, minus the aliens and robots and most of the other nerd stuff.
Find that hard to imagine? Don't worry about it, an expansion of your imagination is one of the joys of the film.
Need something funny and uplifting without having to suffer through something stupid after seeing a great, mind-bending but not happy film like Martyrs or Food, Inc.? This is it. Unless you also want a cartoon, in which case check out Delgo or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Not as Unstable as I'd have Liked
A 3D cartoon that provides more than just a graphically different perspective on a well known, or at least loosely known and widely recognized, fable.
Unfortunately for my taste, it wasn't unstable in the way Happy Tree Friends or South Park is. It's more along the lines of Monsters, Inc. A kid-friendly story with enough complexity and adult issues woven in that parents will be happy they watched with their 8-year-old, and 13-year-olds won't complain that they were forced to come along.
And you get some impressive 3D animation that rivals the kind you see in computer games for its ability to feel the depth and dimension and bring you into the situation more than standard films are capable of doing.
The Note (2007)
The Kind of TV Film that Caused me to Stop Watching TV
Poorly written story that's internally inconsistent, amongst other problems, including the dialog and acting.
Clichés: now, let's write another movie filled with clichés in an hour to dump on TV so the station can sell ad-time to holiday card makers. Halmark and others are losing money to the more enjoyable and personal emails, videos, and photos that can be shared directly without trying to find and pay for a card that sort-of says what you're really trying to say. So, they basically pay for movie length ads, in addition to the more well-known TV shows employing more obvious product placement.
The story had potential as a concept, but it's clearly motivated by the desire to promote and sell other things. In short, it's one more reason to limit your TV watching to PBS and Comedy Central and to demand some form of rebate system for the time wasted watching such simplistic stories.
Quid Pro Quo (2008)
Wheelchair Variation on Cronenberg's Crash
Movie about an odd, underground segment, the intellectually passive version of Cronenberg's Crash. People who want to be crippled from the waste down and confined to a wheelchair.
It is more than that. It's set within a mystery as to whether a radio reporter is getting lured into a trap or fake story. And unlike Crash, there's no drug connection. It's more psychological, but equally dark, simply without the ambiance and style that Crash had.
The downside is that some of it seems too setup and the story under-developed. The result is that it seems less like a theater film and more like a TV movie, but worth watching.
The Life Before Her Eyes (2007)
Weak Attempt to Cash in on School Shooting Curiosity
While Rachel is still a young teen herself, ignorant, and gullible, it amazes me that Uma took a film this bad. The story is like something made up for a religious magazine or booklet handout.
In short, had I seen this before Juno, I wouldn't have been so hard on Juno. As bad as Juno is, this is easily one of the worst teen films ever made. It doesn't even offer a soundtrack worth listening to unless you include a brief clip of The Zombies "She's Not There". If only the film wasn't there, my time wouldn't have been wasted.
Besides the simplistic religious preaching at the core of the story, the worst part may be the attempt to cash in on the interest and curiosity about school shootings. The film provides absolutely no insight into them. If anything, it might promote a school, theater, camera, or TV shooting.
The Air I Breathe (2007)
Proof that Imitation is Mess, not Flattery
Outside of Forest Whitaker putting in another outstanding performance, the film reeks of imitation. How he ended up in this film would make a better film than this. It may be the case of another seemingly hot writer/director who has a good idea but fails to expand it beyond some notes.
This is why when it doesn't reek of imitation, it reeks of stupidity. It's not well thought out. If it were a smarter film, you might say it attempts to morph different aspects of great films into a single film. One might say that it's intelligent for a thriller/horror type film, but it's not.
It attempts to cover the stupidity by using a smart art technique of separating the film out of normal story continuity and then bringing it all back together again at the end by seeing an incident near the beginning from a different perspective. Outside of not screwing that up, the film fails completely.