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1738 reviews in total 
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Get Smart (2008)
87 out of 139 people found the following review useful:
Exhilarating action, good comedy, 20 June 2008

The first 10 minutes or so of "Get Smart" are kind of disappointing, and I thought "here we go, another trailer that makes the film look better than it is". But it improves greatly after that point, mainly after the first encounter of Max with Agent 99. Anne Hathaway is in some ways the life of this movie: she is incredibly sexy, with a magnificent back and legs to die for (or by), and completely believable in all her action scenes. Steve Carell has good comic timing; he may at times remind you of Leslie Nielsen in "The Naked Gun" and "Spy Hard" mode, but beyond that he manages to make Max a genuinely likable and human character, not just a cartoon. The relationship Max and 99 have formed at the end of the movie seems to be based more on friendship than anything else. The rest of the cast is generally well-chosen (although I didn't get the point of Bill Murray's 1-minute cameo); there is a big plot twist that allows one cast member to play against type, and even Dalip Singh (aka The Great Khali in WWE) comes off well, playing a huge indestructible henchman in the tradition of Jaws of "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Moonraker".

There are some good laughs in "Get Smart", but what pleasantly surprised me is how well-done the action is. From an exhilarating freefall sequence that was probably designed as a homage to the opening of "Moonraker" to Carell's and Hathaway's quick, efficient fight scenes (choreoghraphed by a veteran at this sort of thing, James Lew), and from the explosions at the "bakery" factory to the incredibly kinetic final chase sequence involving various means of transportation, the action in this movie probably surpasses the recent James Bond pictures, helped by the fact that a lot of it seems to have been done by the actors themselves, willing to take some risks. So people who are more into action than into comedy should still get some satisfaction out of this.

Nothing brilliant, but a dependable crowd-pleaser nonetheless. I'd give it *** out of 4 stars.

Death Toll (2008)
32 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
Dreadful, 19 February 2008

Perhaps the best indication of this film's quality lies in the fact that even DMX, who is second-billed, doesn't bother to show up long enough to have any interactions with any of the other characters; instead, he occasionally pops up as a talking head in a dark room, pontificating about life and death. Lou Diamond Phillips, who is first-billed, appears for a total of no more than 10 minutes and cashes probably the easiest paycheck of his life. Although "Death Toll" is billed as an ACTION film on IMDb, there is not even ONE small decent action sequence to be found, just a few (badly directed) shootings. Let me repeat: there is NO ACTION in this "action" movie. It's more of a drama - one, however, where all the characters are stereotypes (from the idealistic mayor - Lou - and the lazy police officers to the career-driven female assistant DA and the vulgar, mindless, illiterate drug pushers), where the dialogue cannot be followed without subtitles (either because of "da hood" lingo or because the constant rap music drowns it out), and where most of the cast is made up by rappers. The only bright spots in this positively dreadful film are the absolutely gorgeous Leila Arcieri and Keshia Knight Pulliam - if they were given more to do, I might have given "Death Toll" more than 0.5 out of 4 stars.

26 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
A very good episode - unusual and emotional, 9 February 2008

Hercule Poirot returns to Brussels after 20 years, traveling along with Inspector Japp who is invited there to be honored for his services to Belgium. Meeting his assistant from the days when he was still just a rookie police officer, Poirot remembers an old case from that period - the death of an ambitious Belgian government official that was attributed to heart failure. Poirot claims that the verdict was wrong, and proceeds to tell Japp the whole story.

"The Chocolate Box" is one of the best "Poirot" episodes since "Wasp's Nest", mainly for the same reason: because it moves away from the usual formula of the series and tries something different. It offers a glimpse at the earliest parts of Poirot's career - earlier even than "The Mysterious Affair At Styles" where he had already moved to England. It's also one of the very rare instances where we see Poirot involved in a subtly romantic relationship with a lady (the lovely Anna Chancellor). There is no investigation in the present - Poirot had actually solved the case in the past, and we get to see how in some beautifully done flashbacks. And the case is really quite simple - the clues are right there in front of you, but you still won't notice them. (***)

25 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Typically absorbing, deliberately paced Agatha Christie murder mystery, 25 January 2008

Hercule Poirot investigates the murder of an old woman which happened during a flight from France to England - a flight on which he was also on board! The victim seems to have been killed by a poisoned dart shot on her neck, and Poirot's investigation takes him (along with Inspector Japp) to Paris, where the woman lived.

Before seeing "Death in the Clouds" and without having read the book, I was under the impression that the action would be almost entirely confined inside the plane, but no - the murder happens there, but most of the action takes place on land (and most of it in Paris). There is ingenuity in the way the murder is carried out, but some of the coincidences revealed by Poirot at the end to explain the motive seem a bit strained. The pacing is also quite deliberate (this is a feature-length episode). Nevertheless, the production (including the Paris location shooting) is up to the usual high standards, and the cast is well-chosen; in the absence of Captain Hastings, Inspector Japp gets a lot of screen time and has some good moments, and Sarah Woodward, as an air stewardess who was also on board the same flight, makes a very likable sidekick for Poirot. (***)

22 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
"You're just jealous because my power is better than your power", 16 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Some Like It Hoth" is an episode that I approached with lowered expectations: for one thing, the title is a pretty lame pun, and for another, it centers on Miles who, let's face it, after his first few episodes, has largely been used as the comic relief, especially now that Sawyer is playing it more serious. However, it turned out better than expected. It still has the same problems of the other Season 5 Dharma-heavy episodes: we still haven't learned much substantial stuff about their operations (even the Orientation films have been more informative!), and the "whatever happened, happened" theory is so blindly accepted by most of the characters that it makes them frustratingly passive (which is why I liked "He's Our You" so much - because Sayid did NOT accept it (of course, he hadn't even heard of it)(where is Sayid by the way?)). As for the identity of Miles' father, it is no big surprise. On the positive side, this episode finally builds up some tension near the end by having Phil discover "LaFleur"'s involvement in the kidnapping of young Ben. The Hurley-Miles conversations are often amusing, just like they were in "Whatever Happened, Happened". The return of the beautiful Naomi is a most welcome pleasure for the eyes and ears. But the best part of the episode is easily the revelation that there is a THIRD group of people interested in the island (""what lies in the shadow of the statue?"), apart from Widmore's team and Ben's "team". And it is now confirmed that some of these people are already on the island (via flight 316), setting the stage for a major and complex war. Oh, and we also learn why Miles had asked Ben to pay him exactly 3.2 million dollars to pretend that he never found him. And you thought that the writers don't answer the minor mysteries!!! *** out of 4.

25 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
"I remember dying", 26 February 2009

It's amazing how this series keeps topping itself. I thought that the previous episode, "316", was the best of Season 5 so far, but "The Life And Death Of Jeremy Bentham" is arguably on an even higher league (we're talking "The Man From Tallahassee" league here). The mythology of LOST is getting thicker and thicker, and the lines between good & evil, life & death, past, present & future, are getting blurrier and blurrier. And yet the basic format of TLADOJB is rather simple: a series of one-on-one conversations between John Locke and a number of other characters, both new and old. Terry O'Quinn has always been one of the very best actors on the show, and here EVERYONE opposite him rises to his level. This episode is unusual, shocking and brilliant. ***1/2 out of 4.

21 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Absorbing mystery, but with some nagging logical problems, 8 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Set in 1917 and based on Agatha Christie's first book, "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" is sort of a prequel to the regular Poirot series (in fact, it reminded me somewhat of the recent Casino Royale - right down to the absence of the classic opening credits and the gradual introduction of the familiar music theme - only the timeline here makes much more sense). Having met before in Belgium, Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings run across each other again in the English country, where they have to solve a perplexing crime - the poisoning of the owner of the huge manor where Hastings was staying as a guest. This is also the first time Hastings meets Inspector Japp (Poirot had known him from before). The production is exceptional (apparently going 2 decades back from their usual timeline was no problem for the cast and crew), and the story will absorb and surprise you. Many little details and clues are well-thought-out, but (and here we are going into "spoilers" territory) an illogical central contrivance is hard to ignore. Simply put, everything connected with "the letter" that the killer writes and that incriminates him/her is complete bull: why doesn't the killer TAKE THE LETTER WITH HIM instead of ripping it to (only 3) pieces and leaving it behind? Why doesn't he come back to get it at a later date, even if he has to break into a locked room? Why does he write the letter in the first place, clearly naming his accomplice? Why does he leave it locked in a place for which his target also has a key? And finally, why does the target, after having read the letter, allow herself to be poisoned in exactly the way described in it? Everything about this "letter" reveals this as Agatha Christie's beginner's work, although as I said in all other respects her story is well-thought-out, intriguing and surprising. (***)

19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Exceptionally well-done, 30 March 2008

Hercule Poirot looks into the case of a woman accused for two murders: there is overwhelming evidence against her, her dislike for one of the victims - the girl who stole her fiancé's heart - is well-known, and she doesn't express any feelings of regret. Despite all that, a doctor, who is secretly in love with her, is convinced of her innocence and asks his old friend Poirot to help him prove it.

Let me put it simply: the story, direction, performances, music, and set design of "Sad Cypress" are of higher quality than approximately 90% of what is available out there. Dropping the (highly entertaining, it must be said) sidekicks, changing the tone to almost completely serious, and reducing Poirot's screen time in favor of the other characters (in fact, it could be argued that the beautiful Elisabeth Dermot Walsh is the central figure here) are all bold moves, and they pay off brilliantly, in this case at least. Up to this point in the series, and without having seen "Five Little Pigs" yet, the only episodes I would rank above this one are "Wasps' Nest" and "Lord Edgeware Dies".

A must-see if you love good cinema, even when it's made for TV. (***1/2)

33 out of 48 people found the following review useful:
Visually impressive, if derivative, futuristic thriller, 24 December 2008

It's hard not to notice the parallels between "The Mutant Chronicles" and "Aliens": a team of soldiers, plus a few outsiders with deeper knowledge of the subject, are sent on a suicide mission (not to outer space but) deep beneath the surface of the earth to destroy (not bloodthirsty alien monsters and their source but) bloodthirsty zombie mutants and their source. The film is not quite as good as "Aliens", but it's still a serviceable B-movie. Visually it succeeds in creating its own, richly detailed and impressively designed, world: that includes the mutants themselves, who have one of their arms extended to a huge claw that can cut human flesh to pieces. The action itself, however, is a bit too chaotically edited: sometimes things happen and you don't have enough time to see how they happened, or a battle takes place and you're not absolutely sure who is hitting whom. This seems to be a recent trend in action movies (the latest Bond film "Quantum Of Solace" really suffers from it), and I hope they reverse it soon. The cast is good, though the characters are definitely not as memorable as those of "Aliens". Ron Perlman's best moments come near the end, while Devon Aoki and Anna Walton are unconventionally attractive and fully combative female leads. (**1/2)

"Vera" (2011)
15 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Very well-made, but also very sad, 24 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Vera" is a British crime series in the vein of "Blue Murder", except that the female chief inspector here is single and has just about no personal life; her partner is a much younger man, married with three kids, so their relationship is strictly on a business / mentor-student level. The series is very well-made: photography, music, camera-work are all exemplary. The mysteries are hard to guess. The acting is excellent by the regulars as well as the guest stars. Brenda Blethyn creates a very real character as the grumpy but compassionate Vera, and David Leon is solid as her low-key partner who is eager to learn from Vera, but eager to help her be more open to people as well. Paul Ritter plays (very well) a forensic pathologist with a macabre sense of humor. The series is very sad, dark and depressing: it dwells on the feelings of loss of those close to the murder victim(s) in each case, and usually there is not much catharsis at the end; the resolution of the cases often leaves most people involved in an even worse spot than they were at the start, before their secrets and sins were exposed. It's definitely not a program to watch when you need something to lift your spirits. I'd also recommend letting some time pass between watching the episodes instead of watching them one after the other like I did, because otherwise they may start to feel a little formulaic in the second season.

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