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Metropolis (1927)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
"The Complete Metropolis", finally, 7 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For purposes of some kind of time line here, it's necessary to start from the beginning. Metropolis was my graduation thesis for NYU Film School in 1976. I was stationed in Wiesbaden (West)Germany in 1978 and actually arranged a showing at Wiesbaden's Lindsay Air Station (gone, thankfully) through the William Murnau Stiftung. I've owned every version of this movie ever put out for public consumption.

So, I have to say this first: You must see the complete version of this movie! Through the new discovery of additional footage, a deeper and more complex story line than previously portrayed now emerges. It's also an astounding view through the portals of time back to the embryonic mindset of the Nazi culture.

Let's start with the visuals. To me, it wasn't what Lang and Von Harbou had in their minds to present, it was the fact that they were able to so completely realize the society and culture of Metropolis on film down to the smallest detail. There isn't just the hint of the way things are - it's there right in front of you, bloody warts and all. The cityscape recedes far in the distance, the cars stop and people actually get out of them in what seems to be over a mile away. You know with today's eyes that some if it is animated, but just how it was put together (especially so long ago) is still a source of amazement.

Rotwang's laboratory is full of arcane set pieces. You have no idea of what he is doing when he generates the robot Maria, but it and his performance look so convincing that you believe it anyway.

The theatrical acting so often found in silent movies is now tuned to a minimum due to the re-editing of scenes, the changing and re-ordering of the inter title cards, and the inclusion of 25 minutes of additional scenes unseen since the original film's premiere. All of this was previously impossible. The original film script had long disappeared, the film was incoherently re-edited for the US market, and there were no longer any clues as how to put it back together.

With the discovery of clues within the original film score composer's archives and the German Film Censor's Board notes, the correct order of shots was finally reestablished, and now the film makes sense for the first time.

The following portions may contain spoilers (really, you need to be warned about a film from 1927??): I find the structure of the society of Metropolis to be baffling. Automation was understood when this film was made, in fact there's automation present within the movie. I can follow the idea of someone subjugating a class of people, but I can't follow the idea of that person making their lives so obviously into a time-bomb dangerous to oneself. The workers are (grudgingly) allowing themselves to be tied to working with and within enormous machines, whose every function is tied to their performing the same task, over and over again. Should the person fail to perform their task for whatever reason, the entire complex is in danger.It's understood that is to be the case by every worker as there is a safe/danger indicator at every work station.

These tasks should logically be automated. Why do they need people to perform them when the society is advanced and seems perfectly capable of automation? Why have they made the mechanics of the underground city so subject to human failure? And, why is the above-ground city so unprotected?

For answers to this, I turn to the Nazi culture. In fact the movie and the Nazis are very much tied together. Here's a parallel equation to this movie for starters: Why in the concentration camps did they use a dozen inmates to hand-pull a heavy cart containing a package the size of a pack of cigarettes? It's the same answer as in this movie. It's the same answer you find in the novel 1984: it's control for the gain of power's sake only. There's no form of compassion, it's all done for the Party and for the Party only.

There IS no hope under this situation, only death.

Even the film's ending is hogwash, complete and and total nonsense. You are being duped all the way. Do you really think the heart has performed mediation? Joh Frederson has now completely consolidated his power over his workers, and *that* was the idea of the Nazis, the entire world at their feet with everything under their control. The workers at the end of this movie aren't free, in fact as they march toward him at the film's end they are in a triangular arrow formation with heads bowed. They are even more submissive and restricted in that formation than in the rectangles they march in during the movie. They have nothing, their city is destroyed. They have no one to turn to except for Joh Frederson. The workers have no thought, and not even the slightest bit of capacity for self-governing. They are made by Joh Frederson's society to be helpless without him.

Joh Frederson sure seems contrite at the film's ending, but inside I bet he's grinning.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Another take on this movie, 26 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

***This may contain spoilers*** I have to say that as more and more time goes by since the 1946 premiere of this film, the more it appears to be a naive socialist take on our society. That doesn't make it a bad film, but it does make it worthy of some alternate comments.

"The Meanest Man In Town" Mr. Potter actually makes some accurate comments about the banking industry before the "plot wave" overtakes him and tries to make him irrelevant.

The town gets together at the end of the film to save a bank in a great socialist outpouring. That's quite the opposite of the idea that bank greed is ruining us as a society, a concept that certainly existed before 1946.

Finally, I find the "wholesomeness of the human spirit" concept as it is shown to be in this movie to be quite irritating. You need to come to this movie's level in order to appreciate it, to me that's lower than I want to go.

But hey, you can just call me Scrooge.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Just this side of a stinker, just barely, 26 December 2010

This movie is a great example of story writing where you come up with a concept - a beginning and an ending, and you fail to pay attention to the middle. As a result, you sit kind of empty-headed as to where the plot should go in order to get you from point A to point B. You fill in the gaps as best you can, but you only have the slimmest idea of what to do.

In the case of "The Tourist" it shows. This movie goes absolutely nowhere during the middle of the film. As soon as the yucky song appears while Ms. Jolie is driving her boat, this film takes a major nosedive. The "are they or aren't they" idea is stretched very thin. Johnny Depp valiantly tries to deal with the material he has been given, but it's also apparent he doesn't know how to handle some of it either. I believe some of the confusion his character displays is genuine.

Ms. Jolie looks as stunning as ever, and the scenery is wonderful. There are even a few laughs along the way. But this material would have been better served by an hour-long television episode.

23 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
May I have some wine with this cheese?, 15 May 2010

When I first saw the title of this movie and the poster, I thought it would be a newer take on Ray Harryhausen. Boy, was *I* wrong. Set in contemporary times (read 2010), this attempted "update" falls flat in many categories. It's incredibly disjointed - you will find yourself asking "Huh? How, when or why did THAT happen?" It doesn't maintain any of the flavor of the original. There are monsters as depicted in the poster, but this film doesn't explain, dwell on, or expand on them in any manner. From the opening shots of Somali pirates (remember, this is in the year 2010 that we are talking about) you will see this Sinbad is in name only.

Still, it isn't all bad. The female lead has an incredibly ripped body which is eye catching. The hokey special effects are reminiscent of the Sci Fi Channel from about ten years ago and are fun to watch. There are a couple of really vivid moments when the film comes alive. It's when the story strays from the monsters that it falls apart.

I wouldn't pan this movie completely, it's not totally worthless. Asylum has done a better job here than on previous efforts, but they seem stuck in the "Gotta get it into 90 minutes" mold. Just think, they could have completed a fairly good movie with a bit more time in the viewing and having done away with the dumb subplots.


1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
This is fabulous!, 13 April 2010

I don't want to give away any plot lines here, I just want to say: If you have never seen a cliff-hanger serial before, this is the place to start. Well-filmed and executed on a decent budget with great video and sound quality, this 12-chapter screenplay is perfect in every respect. The opening chapter sets the tone of alternately silly and serious, which continues throughout the series. The special effects still hold up as "kinda kool".

Unlike other serials where the villain spends all his time planning and failing to achieve one objective, Captain Marvel's nemesis 'The Scorpion' manages to prove one victory after another. Neither one holds back or pulls any punches. People die in various ways, some vindictive. The cliffhanger at the end of each chapter has to be forgiven. Some are inventive, others just plain contrived. But, all of them succeed in hooking you for next week's episode. It's your advantage here in 2010 to be able to see the entire set in one place at one time. Just think... in 1941 you would have had to spend 12 weeks watching it!

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Derivative, although fun to watch, 6 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

WARNING! THIS ENTIRE REVIEW IS A SPOILER! For me, watching this movie was an exercise in recycling old ideas and making them work again. To say that this isn't a rehash of 1920's "The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari" would be to totally ignore the history of film. One look at the insanely jagged staircases Block "C" and I knew where this film was going.

That doesn't make it a bad film. On the contrary, DiCaprio gives a fine performance and the film is excitingly and tightly directed and put together.

It just isn't... original, although it's made out to be so.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A great battle of poor actors, 9 August 2008

Christie Love's friends, enemies, and co-workers live in an alternate-reality world that attempts to depict Los Angeles in the early 1970's. Not the way it really was, but the way the scriptwriters wanted it to be. Along the way, expect Ms Love to blatantly flip off her boss and get away with it, for him to make advances to her when there's no apparent chemistry, and for her to behave like Superwoman "with emotions". One of the bad guys simply lets himself be flipped out an upper-story window. It doesn't matter that he weighs over twice what she does, if you look closely enough, he's actually helping her. What a guy! Did I say that almost everyone she knows in this movie dies? Ms. Graves also appears to be in a contest with everyone else to see who can be the worst actor. It's fun watching who's worse, it pays to actually have a scorecard. You can rank Harry Guardino first for the bad opening, and then keep notes from there.

This movie actually succeeds in points, despite itself. They put a bit of money into it, there are some good production values - I mean the now-vintage cars sometimes project better than the humans, but hey, the scale I'm using refers to television, not the cinema. You won't be crying with the actors as much as laughing at them, but you won't be turning this show off, either.

I had no trouble with the volume on my copy. But, at two DVD's for a dollar in my local supermarket, I don't feel ripped off either.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
There are more versions of this film than indicated, 2 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I first saw this movie while stationed in the US military in Germany during the Cold War, approximately in 1979. The claims on the DVD box that it contains a complete print are somewhat false. For one thing, the following shot or shot groups are left out of the DVD print: When Flesh and Dr. Jerkoff first see Wang's castle in the distance, Jerkoff says something like "Wow! That's fabulous!", to which Flesh replies "No it isn't, it's only a set". There may have also been one or two other comic moments which were also removed. The DVD is in fact longer than the VHS print, however.

The sex scenes described as missing were in fact roughly cut out of this movie for military distribution. They started, then were visibly spliced out. This leads me to believe that the true X-rated version of this movie is still out there.

Notwithstanding those complaints, I have given this movie a higher rating than most other people for two reasons: 1.) I really, really like Flash Gordon, and I think this spoof was written and produced by people who did also.

2.) The 3D camera work and animation is almost as good as Harryhausen in my opinion. You get some really nice effects to go along with the silly story line.

I hope more people get to see this movie.