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Why a great idea doesn't work without great execution, 28 October 2014
6/10

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion put Sorvino's then soaring career into a tail dive.

It took in $30M at the box office. Not a flop, but far below expectations. At the end of the day, movies are about making money. So despite proving her chops as a comedy actress, Sorvino didn't get a second chance. She tried many other genres, but somehow always picked movies that didn't do well at the box office. (She's now in a new TV series: Intruders) Kudrow has done a bit better, but never became an A-lister.

Why didn't Romy and Michele do better? Perhaps it was expectations. The caliber of the cast and the fun premise has us expecting something far better. On first viewing I was very disappointed. I almost hated it.

But the first 45 minutes is very good. It has enough laughs, and the characters (and the actresses) have a lot of charisma. Romy and Michele are a Folie à deux; a happy pair of fools who share the same delusion. They're fun to watch and it looks like we're in for a real treat.

But after that first 45 minutes, with a few exceptions, the movie falls flat. The last hour of the movie is about the reunion itself, but this is poorly told and poorly directed. Laughs are few and far between. The whole thing is carried on two very weak jokes, which in a sitcom would no more two throwaway lines. But instead of hitting us with new jokes, Director Mirkin and Writer Schiff recycle the same two weak jokes over and over again.

This has been done before and done much better. Even teen comedies like Patrick Dempsey's "Money can't buy me love" have a far more compelling plot. So after the build up, we're left disappointed. Perhaps it was bad word of mouth that killed it.

But I watched it again, and while my comments still apply about that last hour, there's still a lot to like. Sorvino and Kudrow are brilliant, and there are iconic scenes (like Garofalo's Cowboy) which carry a lot of weight and a few good gags (the suit cracked me up). If there were more of these, the movie would have been a classic. The interpretive dance at the end is nerdy but very sweet and I loved their "Stayin' Alive" too.

For the first 45 minutes I'd give it 8/10 (4 stars), but that last hour drags it down to 6/10 (2 stars).

There have been attempts to relaunch Romy and Michele. In 2005 Shiff launched a TV series which by IMDb comments was badly written. Sorvino and Kudrow are begging Disney (Touchstone) to let them do a sequel, but Disney is baulking. Perhaps they can't imagine a movie with two 40 year old female leads? Perhaps they think the Valley girl undertones are passé? Perhaps Disney don't want to give up the rights either? Hollywood is competitive, and studios have been known to buy rights to scripts just to stop another studios possibly making a hit.

And perhaps after two disappointing outings they don't think Shiff can deliver? I think Shiff had a wonderful germ of an idea here. If she stands back and lets more experienced comedy writers take it further, her franchise may yet deliver.

Divergent (2014)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I liked the trains. I hope in the sequel we get to see one stop at a station., 4 August 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Divergent is a pretty movie. The CGI of post-apocalyptic Chicago is very nice, but the plot has too many holes which keep breaking the suspension of disbelief. The underlying premise had potential but is not explored. Instead we spend most of the movie being bored in The Pit and screaming "You Idiot!" at the film's heroine.

First, lets get the comparison to Hunger Games out of the way: Yes. Divergent is a rip-off of Hunger Games, but Hunger Games is itself a rip-off of Battle Royale. At least Hunger Games is entertaining. Divergent is kind of dull.

Divergent is YA fiction. I'm not it's target audience. Perhaps that is why Shailene Woodley's Tris doesn't do it for me. I don't identify with her character, and she does so many stupid things I can't root for her either. I know she can act, but her performance here is flat.

Tris is a whiny teen. Worse, a whiny teen who kept on doing stupid things. When a terrified Tori (Maggie Q) tells her to shut up about being divergent, she doesn't take the hint. When Kate Winslet's Jeanine told her she knew her tests results, instead of bluffing she blurts out 'You know I'm divergent? Wow! I am so dead!' (Not her exact words, but close...) And when she fights, she doesn't fight back and gets K.O.ed.

The movie is filled with moments like this which had me screaming "You idiot!"

The faction system is criticized as unworkable but that's okay because it's a valid premise that hundred year-old oligarchs dreamed up a political system that doesn't work and it takes a while for that to be recognized. But its problems are immediately obvious to the viewer.

Any system which divides people into factions, each with different privileges, is bound to cause envy. There's open tension between the groups. We see a Candor (lawyer) openly accusing Abnegation (cleric politician) of stealing. Erudite's (intelligstia's) campaign to overthrow Abnegation is well known. If it's a perfect society, why do they need Dauntless (paramilitary) to keep the peace or candor (lawyers) to resolve disputes? And what about the large numbers of factionless living like the homeless, instead of moving into the many abandoned buildings around the city? And any American who sees that only one faction has the right to bears arms will raise an eyebrow. And who does the cleaning and chauffeuring?

These problems supposedly are in the source material, but the movies writers should have patched those up.

Too much of the movie is spent in "The Pit" of the Dauntless faction. When we first saw Dauntless they looked like an interesting crowd: happy paramilitaries who jump, leap and somersault and are generally in a good mood. If utopia must have a police force, these would be a good choice. But once we get inside, they're just another soulless army.

Now if Dauntless had been the jumping, leaping, somersaulting Stomp-boys we saw at the beginning, Tris' journey could have made an interesting story.

In boot camp there are five guys who looked so similar I couldn't tell them apart.

The on-screen action is poorly directed. Teenage girls might not pick this up, but the teenage boys raised on first-person shooter games forced to watch this movie with them will: Gun battles consist of standing in the open and shooting. No teamwork or cover. Tris' Mom comes to get her alone: rookie mistake. And when her Dad attacks some bad guys instead of using cover, he walks to them shooting and gets shot himself. That's not a noble death. When you're only five and they're hundreds, fighting by attrition is stupid. And even though her Mom is supposedly a crack ex-Dauntless soldier, she also fights and dies stupid. When Tris flees, she hides with her back to a glass door facing the street. Imagine every gamer in the audience by reflex hitting the imaginary fire button on their cinema seat...

Particularly grating is one action scene where a drugged fellow recruit stumbles towards her shooting... Tris keeps calling for him to stop, and he keeps shooting... and missing at point blank. Eventually she shoots him. But really, she should be dead. This is really bad direction from Neil Burger who bought us the fantastic "Limitless." (What happened, man?)

Most grating of all are the end scenes. While the Dauntless prepare to execute the Abnegation faction Holocaust-style, Tris keeps looking around like a wide-eyed idiot. And then having beaten the Erudites, instead of pushing the advantage, she turns tail and runs. When Jeanine wakes up she'll finish what she started. And if the Dauntless infantry would now refuse that order, why leave now and give the Dauntless leadership the opportunity to reassert control?

It was the biggest of all the plot holes, and it's these which killed this movie.

I liked Theo James as Four, but Shailene Woodley just wasn't right for the role. The film's production poster, emphasizing her butt, is unintentionally comical.

The plot holes could have been fixed, if the movie producers had been brave enough to "diverge" from the book. But for unfathomable reasons the book series is popular. Why mess with a working formula? They made a dumb movie from a dumb book. Sequels are assured. They will make a lot of money out of this. The studios got their wish. The fans got their wish. And the rest of us will watch it anyway, just to see how it ends.

The soundtrack is VH1 weak. Hans Zimmer is "Executive Composer," whatever that means.

The romance is cheesy and not convincing.

The real crime here is with a better director, better screen writers and better casting, this could have been a classic.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Fans may love it, but newcomers will be bored, 16 May 2014
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like Kirsten Bell, so decided to see Veronica Mars on the basis of its high IMDb rating. It left me flat.

Based on a 2004-2007 TV series, there have been plenty of TV series which have been adapted to the big screen, tapping into a wider audience, but this one falls flat. The problem is a failure by the movie's creators to properly introduce characters.

Newcomers aren't introduced by seeing characters *do* something - so setting their character. Instead they are introduced by short (very short) voice overs by Veronica, imitating the clichéd PI narrative noir detective novels are famous for. But that doesn't work here, because newcomers are still left at a considerable disadvantage over the show's fans.

Kirsten Bell seems to play the same character as Jeanie on House of Lies.

The only exception where a character is properly introduced to characters is Veronica's father, because not only are we told he lost his job pursuing justice and looked after his little girl, but he's introduced with an establishing scene where he stops a couple of cops from brutalizing a pair of youths. That one scene did what a glib, sarcastic voice over couldn't.

But for all the other characters, those introductions are missing. We're expected to warm to them like old friends, but it's like meeting a person at a party who you're supposed to know, but don't.

The plot is run-of-the-mill TV murder mystery. At that, a dull one. Logan is so smiley, relaxed and unworried you know there's no risk of him going to jail. And because he's Veronica's friend, you know he didn't do it. There's no suspense here. Yet the fans seem to love it. Perhaps that's because they know the characters, and cared about the outcome. It's the difference between a family member being accused of murder, and an unknown stranger on page six being accused of murder.

Moral for film makers: If you don't introduce your characters properly, your whole film can fall flat. With a bit of front up exposition, they could have won over new fans. And while some might say this kick-started movie is for fans, not for newcomers, that overlooks the best way to strengthen a franchise is by bringing on board new fans.

By the IMDb ratings the fans of the show love it, but newcomers are left cold. As a newcomer, I cannot recommend it. It's walk-out-of-the-theater dull, so 1/4 stars. If you are already a fan, by all accounts you'll love it. Good for you.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Brad Pitt Zombie Movie Dead on Arrival, 24 September 2013
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When I first saw a billboard advertising this movie, I nearly ran off the road. Really. Brad Pitt? Zombies? Epic Poster? How could it not succeed? But this movie tragically misses the mark.

The problem is immensely bad writing and direction.

Take this. The world is gripped by a Zombie epidemic. Brad Pitt is a retired UN super-inspector turned stay-at-home-dad who cooks his family awesome pancakes. Pitt's former boss sends a US military extraction team to rescue Pitt and his whiny family, bringing them to the safety of a naval task force. On his arrival his boss asks Pitt to come back to help. Pitt declines: "No, I told you I was retired."

Implication: "Hey, thanks for the free ride sucker. Now me and my family will sunbathe on the deck of this awesome battleship while you and some other suckers save the world. And we want our dinner at 6 Sharp. No MREs. Kapish?" You want to slap him.

You want to slap him again when he gets soldiers killed because he forgets to put his cellphone on "silent" while creeping pass Zombies. Worse, this is so his whiny wife can call him.

Or leaving his camper van outside a supermarket full of looters, and agonizing it still isn't there when he comes out.

Lots and lots of moments like that.

And stupidities like blowing up a plane in midair because he wants to get off at this stop. Does he walk away? After pulling out a piece of metal he's impaled on, yes, he walks away.

The whole idea of some sort of retired UN super-inspector being the only one who could save the world defies credibility. He drifts around the globe following the most absurd of leads. There's never the slightest sense at all that he's in danger. The cardboard cutouts who accompany him you don't care about. There's something seriously wrong with his family chemistry. Whether it's Skyler White, Betty Draper or Karin Pitt (Sorry, Lane!) here, Hollywood needs to stop giving its leading men such unlikeable spouses.

Bad writing plays a big part in bringing this movie down. I don't know who is to blame, but bringing in Damon "LOST" "Prometheus" "Into Darkness" Lindelof for rewrites hardly seems an answer. The convenient escape ladders which descend out of no where (Yes, I *literally* mean this) are lazy writing.

The direction too is bad. The South Korean Army Base scene is so poorly shot I didn't even know where it was until I read the IMDb comments. The suspense in this movie is non-existent. We know Likable Brad won't die, and don't give a damn about anyone else. I think giving him a close-knit team who save each others asses would have worked far better.

Perhaps as other IMDb reviewers have suggested, maybe Hollywood should stop giving film makers with lemons to their names second, third and tenth chances. Director Marc Forster and Writer David Lindelof, Stand aside. Give someone else a go.

The lack of gore wouldn't have bothered me as it has some, so long as the movie was suspenseful. Which it isn't.

It's a massive disappointment, but I don't know where the blame lies. The movie studios must have played some role in this train wreck. They expected this to be a trilogy. I can't see how.

Two good things: For all its faults, the movie is watchable. It's also popularized the book which I shall now read, though all it has in common is the name and that it's something to do with zombies.

5/10

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A refreshing movie that breaks new ground, 9 May 2013
9/10

Cloud Atlas is an interesting and unusual film.

It's disconcerting to watch at first, because you're not sure what it is you are watching. A love story? A period piece? It kept jumping between timelines, so it took my mind a while to work out what was going on. You also see the same actors playing different roles and this threw me too. I thought they were the same person, though eventually I realized they were entirely different characters. Once I understood what was going on I was able to enjoy three long but never boring hours.

I haven't seen anything like Cloud Atlas.

It jumps between six timelines telling six different but intertwined stories separated across sometimes vast gulfs of time. I could easily describe what the movie is now, but I think it's more fun if you discover it for yourself. It isn't perfect and parts of it could have been better done, but I am very glad to have watched it. It's not a movie that dumbs itself down for the viewer. It's rich, intelligent and thought-provoking.

Most actors play multiple roles in this film. They are all good, and Tom Hanks in particular is outstanding. Too many established actors get lazy and fill their bank account by playing the same role over and over, so it's great to see Hanks break new ground to deliver a deep performance I wouldn't have otherwise thought he was capable of. Korean Actress Doona Bae too is wonderful. So too were Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, James D'Arcy and Hugo Weaving. Even Hugh Grant. Yes, Hugh Grant.

For the most part the editing works well. We never get bored, and a distressing scene in one timeline is balanced by a lighter scene in another.

Professional critics didn't condemn Cloud Atlas but didn't praise it either. I think it's different and it wasn't the usual 'tick the box' review they are so used to. e.g. 'This is a good cop movie. 3 stars' 'This is a really good cop movie. 4 stars.' Well to hell with them. Perhaps they can think and earn their salaries for a change.

It's a triumph Cloud Atlas even got made. The major studios wouldn't back it, so it was produced and financed independently. There were three different units filming at once. The movie was moderately successful at the box office, though I'm not sure it has yet broken even. But it's got all the makings of a timeless cult classic so with its video release I'm sure in time it will come to be appreciated. Credit too goes to Hanks who even though only an actor here, spurred on the producers and cast to get it made despite the continual setbacks. Some of the other actors too were told by their agents the producers didn't have the money to pay them, but they got on their planes and did it anyway. Far from the usual paint-by-numbers formula movie making, this was a labor of love.

Cloud Atlas isn't without its flaws. A wider audience would have slid into the movie far more comfortably if they better explained we were watching multiple timelines and that the same actors were playing entirely different characters. Better editing would have removed some of the confusion, and the birthmark was silly.

The worst part of the movie is the very poor 'Yellowface' make-up. Some Caucasians are made up to look like Asians, but it is unconvincing and distracting. They don't look, move or talk like Asians. If you've spent time in Asia you'll know what I'm talking about. Obviously the producers don't. I don't think the producers were being racist when they did this, but I don't think it worked either. At they knew to stay away from 'Blackface.'

It's an emotionally intense three hours covering many characters. My favorite was Tom Hank's Zachry in the last time period. I loved the way he the others communicated in a dialect that was both futuristic and yet very easy for the audience to follow. "That's fair buy. True-true?" (trans. "I think I've got a point.") Some professional critics complained about this. What do they expect? That in a thousand years people will still speak North American dialect as today? Talk about laziness and a lack of imagination.

The movie delivers as happy an ending as is possible for such a long and heart-wrenching journey.

I'd like a break from remakes. We need more brave movies like this that show us something new. Kudos to all involved.

Wanted (2008)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
It's not you. It's me., 6 May 2013
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Wanted' has an interesting enough premise: An Ancient group of weavers branches out into assassination, and a thousand years later a bored office clerk learns he is one of them.

The actors are competent. The moment Morgan Freeman walks onto the set the movie gets credibility, and Angelina Jolie is always a pleasure to watch.

Other reviewers have praised the over-the-top humor, but this is where 'Wanted' loses me. I liked some of the humor at the start and I can even accept the curved bullets, but I'm less keen about the Matrix-like stunts.

Where 'Wanted' really loses me though is the over-the-top silliness. It becomes so silly and so unreal I couldn't take it seriously. You lose the sense you're watching real people, and it feels like a video game. Cars and people do absurd stunts, and you quickly get a sense no one gets hurt unless the plot calls for it. And the people who do get hurt are jerks or unknowns, so no loss.

I'm intrigued at the 'Gritty Reboots' we are besieged with. 'Wanted' which is not the least bit gritty might explain this. We want a bit of reality in our movies, enough so we can say, well, maybe this *could* really happen? It's the difference between campy old Battlestar Galactica and the gritty reboot with James Edward Olmos.

The 'Wanted' source material is reportedly itself campy so I can't fault the producers on those grounds, but I want characters I can care about and root for. Some reviewers enjoyed 'Wanted', but it feels too much like a video game to me. It's a slick effort with good actors so I feel bad for giving it such a low score, but it couldn't hold my interest. A clever plot twist towards the end is pointless if the audience has already switched off or gone to sleep. 4/10.

5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A decent two-hour thriller, 4 May 2013
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After seeing the negative reviews on IMDb I was worried. I'd never read any Jack Reacher books nor did I even know who the character was. It was Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise, but he's an action star so as far as I was could tell mostly fitted the part. But I was however never really convinced he was a homeless drifter with nothing to lose. He was far too intelligent, eloquent and clean cut for that. I find it hard to believe he spends his life off-the-grid sleeping inside dumpsters.

It's a fairly decent thriller. It is far from the best thriller ever made, but it more than held my attention. Some reviewers would have preferred an unknown to play Reacher instead of Cruise, but I don't think the movie is that strong by itself enough to survive with a lesser known actor. And no, I don't think Liam Neeson would have done it either. He plays over the top characters: Arnie without the puns. Cruise is a better fit than Neeson.

It's not Bourne, and the truth is I'm relieved for that. There are far too many Bourne knock-offs out there these days. I feel like something a little different. It has action, but it's interspersed with some fairly clever plotting. There are some profound little speeches hidden in this film, like the one on what freedom really is. Reacher is an interesting character who I wish they spent more time exploring

Car chases are far too overused these days, but this one was well shot.

The acting was pretty much what you would expect. There are some lines that weren't well delivered: Perhaps what someone would write down, but not the sort of thing they would say out loud. Rosamond Pike was gorgeous to watch, and Werner Hertzog seriously creeped me out.

When the plot was revealed it was quite clever and entirely plausible, though it's unusual to find a movie that doesn't involve world domination. I guess that's a pleasant change.

It kept me entertained. The actors were good and the twists were well received. It could have been better, but it's also better than just watchable. 7 / 10.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
I like the dog, 3 May 2013
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are too many loose threads. Why does Neville (Will Smith) have one-man bio-lab in the basement of his New York Apartment building? He says 1% of the world's population are like him immune. Wouldn't it make sense to go to a secure government lab with other immune scientists guarded by immune soldiers? They could work a lot faster together. He keeps telling the audience he can't leave New York because it is ground zero, but British scientist Krippen (Emma Thomson) said she did 10,009 cancer clinical trials using the virus. Were they all in New York?

This film is based on an excellent book which spawned two other film versions. The most famous of these is "Omega Man" panned for being unfaithful to the book, but Heston's Neville clearly was going mad from loneliness. You could feel his despair. Smith's Neville on the other hand has a sweet dog and they seem pretty happy together.

Things change halfway through when the dog dies. Some viewers are really offended by this: Kill six billion people. Fine. It's just a movie. Kill a dog. OMG l'horreur! It's actually a very touching scene. Now if only the rest of the movie was like this.

But after this it makes even less sense. A girl and boy find him and somehow rescue him from a huge mob of zombies. We don't see how this happens. One moment Alpha zombie has his jaws around Neville's throat. Crash cut to Nevile waking up in his apartment to the smell of bacon and eggs.

Smith doesn't seem right for the role. He's convincing in the physical and military roles he plays, but putting on a white lab coat doesn't turn him a scientist. He's missing that spark of curiosity and geekiness that every scientist has. His humor, singing Bob Marley, classic Will Smith, doesn't work here. His real-life son has a cameo but the dialog isn't convincing: Kids don't talk like that, and it's hard to take a kid in dreadlocks seriously. In another movie they could work well together, but I think they're both miscast here. Some have praised Smith's acting here, but it didn't work for me perhaps because he would be teary one scene and back to his usual carefree self the next.

Too much of what Neville does doesn't make sense. He broadcasts on the radio for other survivors to come to New York to meet him, but when they do he doesn't believe there were any survivors and is angry they cooked some of his bacon without asking. And why broadcast on AM which has limited range. Why not short wave? In some scenes he is mad with loneliness, but on others he's having a great time with his dog and seems as happy as a guy enjoying free time while his girlfriend is out of the house.

Poor vampires. Ever since Anne Rice turned them into teen idols no one can take them seriously any more. Let's face it. If a vampire knocked on your door you wouldn't invite them inside, but you would offer them a Bloody Mary, sit on the porch and have a fascinating chat about their long and no-doubt very interesting life. Compared to your average high school boy, no wonder every girl wants a vampire boyfriend! And so here zombies replace vampires.

The CGI is really bad. The lions look fake, and the zombies look like a video game. Directors everywhere are misusing CGI. Here the apocalyptic scenery is amazing, but the rest really detracts. Hollywood really needs to roll back the CGI. It doesn't impress us any more.

The biggest cop out here is the ending. There are two of these. The original ending was more faithful to the book: Neville realizes the zombies still have some human feelings. But this tested poor with audiences, so they replaced it with an alternate ending where he commits suicide using an incendiary grenade. It explodes burning him and every zombie in a large room, and yet the boy and girl right next him are unharmed and unsinged. It leaves too many lose threads unexplained, like the earlier scene where zombies set a snare trap for him.

The religious themes are annoying: God killed six billion people but still wants to save a few of us. If you're going to take that line, do it like Stephen King did it in "The Stand" and do it all the way. (And to hell with the other reviewer who said he didn't like Smith's character because he was an atheist!)

It would have been fascinating to see how the virus spread, but this isn't really shown. All we see is flashbacks of Smith evacuating his family to a helicopter. Even that doesn't make sense: If they're sealing off the city, why let a few people out anyway? Even if they are Will Smith's family? Especially when one of the tests just showed his wife may be infected?

The movie has too many holes and is unsatisfying, but it has its moments and is watchable. I "enjoy" post-apocalyptic movies so despite its many flaws I don't regret watching it. I just think it could have been done much better.

My recommendation. The book is short. Read that instead. Watch "Contagion": Long and dry but fascinating nevertheless. Watch Stephen King's TV Adaption of "The Stand". If you have watched it check out the other film versions: "The Omega Man" and "The Last Man on Earth". Both have their faults, but it's interesting to compare.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
At the time, there was nothing like it, 11 April 2013
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Original 1978 Battlestar Galactica TV Series has copped a panning compared to the vastly superior 2004 "gritty reboot".

To rate the original series fairly you need to understand not what it is like now, but what it was like then.

In 1978 we had never seen anything like it. We had "Star Wars" the year before, but that was just 2 hours and 15 minutes in a cinema, and it was three years until the next one.

Battlestar Galactica offered us the same thing on TV every week. Girls didn't much care, but boys went crazy. Battles in space, every week! What's not to like?

After an impressive opening the show took a dive. Apparently intent on attracting a family viewing, they de-emphasized war-in-space and started copying other shows. The Dirty Dozen... in space. High Noon... in space. Murder She Wrote... in space.

Adults weren't fooled and didn't watch anyway. Half-way through "The Living Legend" offered some respite, but Kids wondered what happened to their space opera.

Towards the end they switched back to science fiction. We got a string of very good shows such as "War of the Gods", "Experiment on Terra" and "Greetings from Earth". This was good sci-fi and what we'd wanted to watch all along. But by then the ratings had fallen and although still good, not enough to justify the show's huge budget. After just one season the show was axed.

The acting wasn't up to much, but I doubt kids noticed or cared. Lorne Greene made a great Adama; a warmer and more loving fatherly figure than the reboot's Edward James Olmos (awesome, but in a different way). They replayed the same special effects shots every week, but they were spectacular nonetheless. The production design was camp, but in the 70's people wanted mindless escapism. They didn't want the gritty realism we see in today's sci-fi dramas.

One thing teenager boys were heartbroken over was the disappearance of Maren Jensen as Adama's daughter Athena. We never forgave Starbuck for dumping her for Laurette Spang's character of Cassiopea. Why? Why? Why?

As I rate shows on IMDb I realize the futility of a ratings system. It depends on who is watching, and when they were watching it. I'll try anyway:

A kid in 1978: 8 / 10. An adult in 1978: 5 / 10. A kid in 2013: 4 / 10. An adult in 2013: 2 / 10. An adult watching only the better episodes in 2013: 8 / 10.

Unless you're in nostalgia mode and really want to watch everything I recommend you only watch the better episodes: 1-5, 12-13, 15-16, 19-20, 22-24.

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A Flawed but Exceptional Series, 11 April 2013
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a "gritty reboot" of Glen Larsen's 1978 series of the same name. It has its flaws, but for the most part is very good and often exceptional.

One of the rules in writing drama is conflict. But they overdid it here. We see this worst in Season Three where everyone is arguing with everyone. No one likes their partners and no one likes each other. With no redeeming features, the audience had no one to root for. Season three aside, most characterizations were good and all were flawed in some way. That's what makes them if not lovable then compelling. Apollo and Starbuck though were too flawed and I never liked them (though I didn't *hate* them either).

You need conflict, but you also need love to bind the characters together. My favorite line is in the second season where Apollo asks his estranged father if he would abandon a search if he was shot down. Replies Adama: "Do you really have to ask that? If it was you, we'd never leave." The writers later forgot this: Conflict needs to be balanced by Love.

Everything is a bit too American military for my taste. "Call the Ball". "CAG". "Marines". Given this supposedly happened thousands of years ago, why is everything so very American? Perhaps it cut down production costs. It might have also broadened the appeal of the series to young guys who don't care much for scifi, but do love the American military. The original Battlestar Galactica invented a new culture with new words for everything. It was accurate, but perhaps risked alienating the mainstream viewers.

I got sick of the cigarette placement.

The Series was written on the fly. That was unfortunate because a lot of major plot developments didn't make sense. Consider the decision to made Chief Tyrol a Cylon sleeper agent. Nice twist, but Cylons don't have babies so we had to throw his wife Callie out an airlock and then have him abandon his son because Callie had an affair. Sweet Callie? No Way! It didn't make sense, and fathers don't abandon sons they have raised. At least not decent ones like Chief Tyrol.

I didn't like the infanticide on the first episode. There are some places a film maker shouldn't go.

There were many on-the-fly story revisions which didn't make sense. Attempts to tidy up the loose ends made them worse. There were many Deus ex Machina plot devices: Anything they couldn't explain was because of God. Some arcs went nowhere. It was a cool that Boomer and the Cylons chased the humans so they could teach them God. But having found them on New Caprica, they enslaved them and didn't teach them religion at all. What was all that about?

In Seasons 2 and 3 there were far too many "filler" episodes where nothing much happened. Here the show started to get pretty boring.

I loved the fact they ended the show after four seasons. They didn't drag it on forever as so many series do. It had a natural ending. The end episode was good, though someone should point out to the producers that if Hera was "Mitochondrial Eve" then every other woman colonist and their bloodlines must have been wiped out. Also in the Epilogue they described her as a young woman found dead with her parents. That means Hera, Athena and Helo didn't live happy ever after. A bummer to end on.

Faults and filler episodes aside, I loved BG and was sad when it was finally over.

The changes on the original series were exceptional. That the Cylons were robots invented by humans which rebelled when they found God was very clever. James Callis' Baltar was brilliant, and playing him as a sympathetic villain was a nice touch. When he started his own cult and started to look like Jesus that was very funny, though out-of-character. Edward James Olmos was a great Adama: His gravelly voice and scarred warrior's face project authority. I'd follow him into battle! Mary MacDonald was a great President: conflicted and overreaching for power, but at heart a good person. To me they were the two stars of the show. The best place to end the final episode was with Bill Adama sitting by Rosalin's grave, telling her where he would build their cabin. That really hit home for me.

Grace Park did a great job in her many roles. There are really too many actors and characters to mention here, but they were all well acted and I liked them all. Even the bad ones. And I've only really scratched the surface: I haven't talked out the stories, production design or the space battles. There is so much good stuff here I can't even describe it all! That should tell you something!

There was criticism of BG for racism. I don't think this is justified. The original series had two black characters in major roles, but the reboot only had one in a minor role. But the reboot introduced many other ethnicities. It's the most multiracial scifi I have ever seen. It would have been good to have left Colonel Tigh black I guess, but Michael Hogan did a brilliant job and he was after all reporting to a Hispanic captain.

I'd give it 7 / 10 because I'm giving it 10 / 10 because it's exceptional, then taking three points off for its many flaws. I add one because that seems too low, then take it off anyway because of the prominent cigarette placement. I recommend BG to any fan of Scifi. It had many faults, but the exceptional parts make it well and truly worth watching.


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