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14 reviews in total 
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Ex Machina (2014)
6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
A film only a critic could love., 24 May 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Boring. Predictable. Covered absolutely no new ground. Perhaps I am old and jaded with a lifetime of reading Science Fiction. I have always loved GOOD AI novels. David Gerrold's "When Harley was One" was outstanding. But this was entirely old hat. Naturally things weren't as they seemed at the beginning. Naturally the big, rich corporate guy was completely evil and duplicitous. Naturally the AI could only become truly human by committing a human crime. Talk, talk, talk, talk talk about the nature of humanity. And, of course, the requisite amount of pseudo-scientific claptrap about the Turing test and going beyond the Turing test. And does anyone really think that the evil corporate guy was capable of being both so creative that he could create such an advanced device while being such a waste of a human being? Nope. Didn't think so. Bah. Time wasted.


4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Ruined the message of Ender's Game, just like Starship Troopers, 21 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I enjoyed the movie. The visuals were amazing. I particularly enjoyed the giant's game sequence. It was great to see one of my favorite books brought to light.

But Hollywood just couldn't help itself with the progressive agenda crap.

In the movie it was claimed that the Formics wanted our water. Dumb, dumb, dumb, standard green message. Water is incredibly common in space. No need to mine it from a gravity well. Water is not a precious jewel that we must preserve because we are our own aliens stealing from our own planet. The book simply had the Formics expanding and founding colonies so their race could grow. Good for them.

Then the movie claimed that the Formics civilization had "unsustainable growth, just like ours". -sigh- Once you get to the asteroids and the moon, and can extract mineral wealth from them, you can grow MUCH more than was shown in either the book or the movie. So Earth (and Formic) civilization is NOT "unsustainable".

And then, of course, the Humans Are Bad meme. Just as in the book Starship Troopers where the aliens were bad guys who attacked us because they wanted to colonize our planet for their race, so too the Formic's of Ender's Game were looking for growing room. So naturally Hollywood had to show humans as bad, and said that both sets of bugs were just misunderstood, and that WE were the bad guys. Attacking them and wiping them out through sheer military misguidedness. Because war is bad, and it is always our fault. We can ALWAYS avoid war just by trying to talk a little more.

I had wondered why they shipped Ender off to the Formic home planet to fight them in the movie. In the book he stayed in our solar system and fought all of his battles at a training base through a faster than light communications technology. Well, the answer was simple. To make the humans the bad guys. In the book, the battles with the Formics took place at many planets over a longer period of time. In the movie the Formics were ONLY on their home world, and just waiting for us. Not attacking us. Once they understood we were intelligent beings, just different from them, the movie would have you believe they just needed an invitation to tea.

And of COURSE our military KNEW that the Formics weren't acting aggressively. Bad military. Bad. Evil humans. Evil.

I am just so BORED with that meme. And frustrated with the way the positive message of great science fiction books, particularly military sci-fi, is always corrupted by Hollywood.


0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
I wanted to like this movie, I really did., 8 May 2013

I tried hard to like it. I like mixes of tech and fantasy. I thought the idea was a hoot. I like a lot of the actors in it. Unfortunately the outlandish weapons were a little too outlandish. All of the which make up looked like it was from a "Face Off" round. They were individually clever enough, but it was all too disjointed and over the top. The combat scenes reminded me of Will Smith in "Men in Black". Our heroes got beat up until they suddenly won.

There was some real potential here for a dark, tongue-in-cheek fun movie. But for me the individual parts just didn't come together for a successful whole. Glad I didn't spend money on it in the theater.


Overtime (2011/III)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fun video game style first person shooter., 7 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was a lot more fun than it had any right to be. I gave it an 8 as a within genre rating - low budget, clever, zombie movie.

With a nod to Stargate our heroes are hired by Samantha Carter. She is an attorney who gets guilty bad people off on technicalities. Then she sends in hit men to remove them from society. The hit men go after a target they think is a drug dealer. Turns out he is getting the "drug" is a byproduct of research on alien parasites. The parasites start infecting the lab workers, and our heroes find their supposedly simple job of taking out a drug dealer much more complicated than originally anticipated.

It turns into a classic video game first person shooter movie. Our guys find some other survivors. They find additional guns and ammo. They find items they need for their back story quest. They learn what they need to learn to save the world. All while wisecracking their way through zombie slaughters.

It is all shot in claustrophobia vision. If the camera zoomed out too far you would probably see the zombie aliens obviously waiting to jump at the good guys from behind or the side. Hey, what do you expect for a movie that has to take it's building sets as it finds them.

The back story was hilarious. The head hit man forgot his kid's birthday and has to pick up a bunch of stuff before he goes to the party. Naturally they find a cake in a breakroom at the zombie lab. So they have to pass the cake back and forth while taking turns blowing away zombies as they escape the building. I assume that several stunt cakes were needed or I would have seen the notice "no cakes were harmed in the filming of this movie" during the credits.

Lots of fun surprise bits at the end. One of our heroes gets REALLY lucky. There are crazy credits including the full Y-Box commercial, and groupings of zombie alien credits based on the character they killed.

So yes, it is all a little cheap and cheezy. But the actors are all trying hard and getting in to their parts. The writing is clever. The direction is as good as it can be with the tools at hand. If this style of movie is to your taste you should enjoy it very much.


Extracted (2012)
70 out of 81 people found the following review useful:
Darn Good Movie, 7 December 2012

Funny, I reviewed a movie a few days ago called A Dark Truth. It was absolutely dreadful. It had big name stars, an obviously bigger budget, and it failed at almost every level. Here we have a taught, thinking man's little movie with good but lesser known actors, fewer locations and much more impressive results.

The writing in this movie was top notch. The director paced the movie well. Most of the time I didn't feel the actors acting, and was involved in the story. The basic concept was clever, particularly the chance meeting of the two main characters.

The ending was satisfying and sufficiently logical that it maintained the sci-fi believability. Tough to do. Some of the character actions and plot twists were a little too convenient, but the problems weren't too distracting.

Not only do I recommend that you watch it, but watch it when you can pay attention to it. It is worth the effort. I really don't understand the low IMDb rating on this film. It is much better than it's rating.

49 out of 96 people found the following review useful:
You have to wonder how junk like this gets made., 4 December 2012

There are some decent high profile actors in this turkey. Do they really need the money that badly? Are they doing a favor for a friend - "Hey, my kid is directing this movie, would you be in it for me? I'll do one for your next year . . . . " Maybe the whole project looks different before the cameras actually start rolling.

The direction in this is terrible. The pace is ridiculously show and the look is very stagey. "You two stand over there and take turns reading these sentences."

It is filled with self-important, self-righteous, overwrought people who have all been horribly wronged by an evil corporation and a corrupt government. Woah. That's original. Really hard hitting stuff. Corporations are evil. We would be so much better off in the world without them.

Too bad. I was looking forward in particular to see Kim Coates outside of his Sons of Anarchy role, Andy Garcia is a good actor, and I am a huge fan of Forest Whitaker. But this thing was dumb, dumb, dumb. Poorly written, poorly directed. Decent production values. It looks professional. That's the only reason I gave it the three stars.

7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Boring, forgettable, unrealistic., 13 August 2012

The acting wobbled as much as the camera-work from boring and flat to jittery and overly stylized. None of the characters were particularly interesting nor were their lives. This movie doesn't really make it as a slice-of-life movie because the character's reactions to each other and the situations in which they found themselves were simply not believable. They were however all too often predictable and traditional TV/movie bits. The ending was too pat and gave a dutiful nod to the Hollywood/new age concept that we are all connected in a mystical spiritual world full of signs and portents. The movie was trying so hard to look meaningful it forgot to actually have any meaning. Only worth watching for the snob appeal of being able to say you watched it. Possibly a good date movie for a guy who is trying to impress an artsy girl who takes herself too seriously.

11 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
This was a LOT more fun than I expected it to be. Spoilers., 1 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In a film that is this low budget you know there are going to be problems and deficiencies. But as cheap zombie flicks go this one had a lot of fun bits. Somebody actually CARED about the screenplay. There were parts that were actually clever.

I loved it that the little boy joining the group was Teddy Roosevelt. I had to look it up. Teddy would have been 7 around that time, so it is possible for him to have encountered Lincoln and the zombies. And of course Lincoln inadvertently gave Teddy one of his trademark lines.

There were plenty of other historical references scattered throughout the film. Most teen viewers probably won't get them. I have a teenager who just finished studying the Civil War in high school. Not possible for him to get it with the education he got. (sigh) Maybe read Killing Lincoln before reading this. It will give a lot of context to the names and locations.

There was actually a scene lifted right out of Hamlet! It gave me a good 5 minutes worth of giggles. And I don't giggle.

Throughout the movie the Gettysburg Address kept developing. A phrase here, a paragraph there, all naturally flowing from the action in the movie. I have never enjoyed an Asylum script this much.

Yes the acting was stiff. A lot of the scenes were clumsily blocked and directed. The Civil War battle scenes were pretty good. Almost certainly stolen from somewhere else, or they just filmed at a reenactors event. Too many people did dumb stuff. Low budget zombie film I get it.

But I was completely taken by surprise by the ending. I really didn't see that one coming. Maybe I was just being a little slow.

For what it is, this film was about as it could be, and much better than it deserved to be. Give it a chance.

Monster Ark (2008) (TV)
7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Monster Ark - A story of Love, Faith and Redemption, 10 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As with so many of the Made for SciFi in Eastern Europe movies, this was mostly awful. Here's an example. The lead military dude was played by the ubiquitous Tommy "Tiny" Lister. Probably best known to scifi fans as the big mean black President in The Fifth Element. The "director" had him shouting every line. His rank was "Major", but his uniform bore no officer tabs. Instead he had sergeant stripes on one arm. At some point somebody was probably thinking "sergeant-major", a distinguished rank, but not an officer. If you call a sergeant-major "major" the least you will get is a pointed explanation that he is an enlisted man and works for a living, assuming you survive the experience.

This isn't nit-picky detail stuff, this is a big deal to anybody with any military knowledge.

In any case Tiny had to play the stereotypical brain-dead, kill everything, screaming military martinet that seems to be Hollywood's perception of soldiers. He is a good enough actor that he would not have been overacting so badly had he not been directed to do so.

But on to the movie. A small group of archaeologists discover a "dead sea scroll" containing the "unedited" book of Genesis. This version of the book contains the clues needed to find Noah's Ark. But it also warns that the ark contains a dark secret.

All of this is nothing but a setting for the REAL message. Turns out that the lead archaeologist used to married to the world's greatest scholar of biblical languages. So he seeks out his ex-wife to ask her to translate the scrolls. There we learn that he was falsely accused of an affair with a student, and the strain of that accusation broke up the marriage. It also exacerbated the religious rift between them. She is Christian, he is atheist/agnostic.

Well whaddya know, turns out the bible really is right, and there really is a demon in Noah's ark. They find the ark, accidentally let the demon go, and our hero begins to discover faith.

At one point he is trapped in a collapsing temple, prays to God, and is miraculously rescued. When it comes time to face the beast, armed with Noah's staff, only the truly faithful can have the job. Naturally everyone thinks he is the man for the job, even the leader of the secret society that has been guarding the secret of the ark since before the coming of Christ. (Noah happened first, if you will recall your bible studies ;-) So by the end, god sends a thunderbolt from the heavens to the top of Noah's staff, and the cheezy lightning bounces off of the staff and hits the beast. Eventually our hero has to push the beast into a flimsy wooden crate, where it will be trapped until some other poor schmo lets it out again. Amazing how a CGI monster that can shrug off a clean hit from a shoulder fired missile can be stopped dead in it's tracks by a wooden crate.

In any case, love is rekindled as faith is born and redemption achieved. The divorcees reunite to live happily, and faithfully, ever after.

Some of the scenes along the way are kind of fun. It's always great to see the nephilim invoked out of biblical texts. They make great bad guys. But most of the time this movie was just dumb. People just don't act the way all of the actors did in this movie. Even the CGI monster had problems. It just couldn't manage to kill any of the primary actors, even though it could chop up everyone else with a single might swing of a clawed arm.

There is usually some enjoyment to be found on SciFi's "most dangerous night of television", but this was one of the least worthy efforts. Too bad, there is a good movie to be made about an ark full of monsters that was launched at the same time as Noah's ark. Finding a whole ark full of demons with better writing, directing, and acting could have been a lot of fun.


2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Magical Film, 12 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The cast, the director, the writers, even the composer all came together to create a perfect alternate reality. Every part of the "Murder" universe was tilted just enough to deliver the ultimate message of the film. You have to be able to suspend disbelief to fully appreciate the payoff of the trial scene. People don't act and react as they actually would in real life, instead they act and react consistently within this world. It is a stylistically perfect film. Of course no single remote control could control the crane that way. Of course Lemmon couldn't run around the city with drawn guns acting out Brash Brannigan adventures. Of course there couldn't be an all male, unhappily married jury. But each of those things is inevitable, appropriate, and necessary to make this movie click the way it does. Watch this one again and see how it all fits together perfectly to create a uniquely skewed reality that builds to perfectly present its climax. Bravo.

Hairy Buddah

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