Reviews written by registered user

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Godzilla rises again, but summons little awe, 9 August 2017

Godzilla is the embodiment of nuclear destruction that can bring a nation to its knees. Everything about the Godzilla story is universal and never personal. Japan's latest resurrection of its immortal icon, inevitably summons all the themes and mythology associated with him, but is it great film making? No.

There is a bit of an acquired taste to this kind of movie. Most noticeably, there are no primary characters, only secondary ones. We have a large handful of bureaucratic, military and scientific individuals that collectively represent Japan and its ideologies. Aside from one peppy diplomat with eyelashes as sharp as her tongue, nobody is all that memorable. From a technical standpoint the writing does have its strengths. The war against Godzilla takes place far less often in the field than it does in the boardrooms of government offices, where rapid fire banter is exchanged about everything from evacuations to international relationships. If you plan to watch this with subs, you'd better be a fast reader. The movie, like all it's characters is a workaholic. It seldom takes any time to stop for a breather or a decent introspective scene until the last ten minutes. It has so much energy that it makes two hours feel like 90 mins.

The biggest problem however is Godzilla himself, he doesn't look so good. We see him first in a sort of 'yet to evolve' state after he crawls out of the sea and starts lumbering downs city streets. He looks like a prize at an akihabara arcade, with comically large parade float eyes. Before long however, he evolves into the form that we are all familiar with. How disappointing it is then that his CGI body is hardly anymore mobile or realistic than the body suits from sixty years ago. Sure he can let out a good roar, breath fire and shoot radiation lasers from his back, but he has neither majesty nor menace. So lifeless is this Godzilla that he barely has any notice to a bombardment of missiles on his head. You can't even make him angry because he has no attitude. These scenes are not particularly compelling, but there are a few nice shots in there, including your traditional long shot of bottle neck traffic from evacuating citizens

With a little help from the international community, a plan to defeat Godzilla is devised. The climactic battle which hinges on this plot point is not only anticlimactic but it borders on cartoon. I won't spoil it, for fear that I will ruin a good laugh for you. In the end, Shin-Godzilla takes itself too seriously to notice its short comings. It feels like a thing of the past.

The fans deserve better, 8 August 2017

Nastu Lucy and the gang assist a young Maiden (eclair) in her quest to find and protect a stone that has the power to awaken the destructive Phoenix. Meanwhile an ill minded young monarch of a nearby kingdom is also after the stone.

It's a generic story that happens to have the fairy tail cast in it. There is also a 12 min short film in the DVD package which acts as a prologue to Eclairs tale. These 'deleted scenes' have moments of insight and intimacy that do more for exlairs individuality than her entire screen time actual feature.

As is often the case with anime features The animation is more fluidity than the show. The biggest problem with the film is that it's rushed. The pace is frustrating several times. For example it ends on a strangely abrupt ill timed note, and then, like most franchise films, the end credits roll over a montage that would have made a far better ending as a whole scene

Even as fan service the film is lacking. There is nothing new in the way of comedy or action. It coughs up most of the greatest hits gags of the show (natsu's bottomless stomach, erzas soft spot for fashion), but the delivery has been better in the show.

Phoenix Priestess feels like a mail in. Low on imagination and vision, and relatively bland on eye candy, it adds nothing to the franchise except a new character who probably deserves a better script.

Visually intoxicating, dreary in pace., 6 August 2017

A young wall street executive is sent to Switzerland to retrieve his company's CEO from a sanitarium in the Alps for a business matter. The facility looks like a relic from Cold War Germany; the kind of place that still practices water treatment. After a brutal car accident on the mountain road, our young protagonist himself becomes a patient. As he wanders the curious halls and makes small chat with the other inhabitants and the suspicious head doctor Volmer (Jason Issacs), he begins to see the wheels of a medical conspiracy turning within the walls of the sanitarium.

After the box office calamity and foul after taste of Lone Ranger, I was curious to see what Gore Verbinski's next movie would be. A Cure for Wellness is a horror mystery that is deliciously macabre and exquisite in visual composition. Even though the movie takes itself dead seriously, it could easily be taken as camp. It is entertainment for viewers who get off on goosebumps, on sights like a man being force fed baby eel infested water.

Unfortunately Verbinski repeats one of his mistakes in Lone Ranger, he stretches out the happenings to the point of ill focus. It runs two and a half hours, and could easily have been a half hour shorter (at least). The overly deliberate pacing feels like a device to mask the lack of story. Behind all the spectacular mountain scenery, expressionist lighting, and surrealist dream sequences is a relatively familiar narrative, an individual who becomes a victim of an institution that sees him an an undermining threat. Movies like Shutter Island and In the Mouth of Madness come to mind.

The movie is slow but there are intriguing parts. Our protagonists has a special interest in one patient in particular. Hanna is a fair haired adolescent in a porcelain doll blue dress who looks like she could be a figment of imagination. For a while she seems to be his most reliable friend, but she is also of particular importance to Dr. Volmer. The mystery behind her is unravelled in a fiery climactic half hour that is chaotic and stinks of incest related gimmickry.

Full of characters that are largely representational and one-dimensional, the deliberately wooden style of acting is perhaps forgivable. For the cast, it's just a paycheck. The real star of the show is the cinematography. Certain shots are an absolute gem. Verbinski has a good eye but a poor sense of timing. A cure for Wellness has delights for horror movie goers, but the sluggishness may try your patience.

Passengers (2016/I)
A waste in space., 22 July 2017

Set aboard a massive ship on a interplanetary flight, Passengers may seem like a sci-fi movie but it's actually a chick flick; Guy gets girl, guy looses girl, guy gets girl back. Passengers crashes and burns on the contrived devices used to weave these familiar threads together.

In terms of set design the movie is spectacular to behold, and but it's all a waste of space. We are looking at tens of millions of dollars of scenery in which to stage a ten cent romance. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence do all the things that couples do, share breakfast, go dancing, jogging, and eventually enjoy a fancy dinner dressed to the nines. Aside from one sexy spacewalking sequence, The setting doesn't make these events feel any more remarkable than they would have been on Earth.

As we near the final act, the ship starts to fall apart. Lawrence Fishbourne is shoehorned in as a mere plot device. Scruffy bearded and with a hungover stare, he looks as if he has just come off the street.

Passengers raises some intelligent questions about the human experience, but rather than answer them it chooses to focus on the lobotomized charm of star talent. You can hear this familiar Hollywood tune in your head as the actors goes through the motions of Nicholas Sparks material.

Honest, but dramatically underwhelming,, 22 July 2017

A zodiac of Somali pirates charges after a cargo freighter, while the captain attempts to keep them at bay with his water cannons, but they manage to get close enough to jump on board.

As the movie progresses it becomes increasingly obvious that the scrawny high jackers are in a pickle. Once the US forces engage them, their only bargaining chip is the captain's life. The pirates have their AK-47's but they never seem managing enough to even consider pulling the trigger. The fact that the pirates speak English is a problem for the movie. A hostage taker is far less intimidating when you can communicate with him. Captain Phillips manages to seem very casual as he gives his captors a tour, and even offers them food from his kitchen.

You can't go wrong with Tom Hanks as the virtuous 'good soldier' who represents American model citizenship wherever he goes. Captain Phillips gets by on his performance, but it's not nearly as thrilling a story as most would have you believe.

Pan (2015)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Pan doesn't fly, 17 July 2017

The one liners fall flat, The special effects look as if they were generated on 90's software. Blackbeard and his crew sing 'smells like teen spirit', Garret Hedlund as a young James Hook is more like a young Indiana Jones wannabe and the Injuns look like they hail from somewhere in the Star Wars universe. If you saw a Peter Pan origin story in which all of this was the case, would you recommend it to your friends? Didn't think so. There is no way that Pan wasn't going to flop. Too bland for children and too tacky for everyone else, this largely unmotivated tale doesn't even get off the ground.

Cute show of simple pleasures, 17 July 2017

Mr. Kim, a potbellied Korean forty-something, runs a cornerstone in eastern downtown Toronto. He has a loving wife, a peppy daughter (Janet), who is easily annoyed with his every move and a son (Jung) who he no longer speaks to. The show highlights the little ups and downs in the lives of all four Kims, but he owns the show.

Played with love by Paul Sun Hyung Lee. Mr. Kim is a curious animal: Smart but awkward, inquisitive but stubborn, most of the humour in the show comes out of a cute shtick of his; he speaks intelligently in broken English. In the punchline of a scene, he walks through the front door to find his wife dancing with an old beau, With a very deliberate look of disapproval on his face, he asks ... "Could someone please tell to me what it is I am seeing!?."

Mrs. Kim, played by Jean Yoon is also cute. She is the kind of mother who will run your forgotten scarf to school for you, even if you are a rebellious adoclecent. She is whimsically anxious about things that never cross her husband's mind. Her fears about Janet not finding a boyfriend (preferably an eventual husband.) is one of the show's less original jokes. The hidden gem of the show is Jung's female boss, who so clearly has a thing for him. This is the TV debut of Nicole Power, who brings a funny but credible balance of pizazz and awkwardness.

One season in, the series is young but it has much growing to do. It gets by on its whim and quirky dialog.

Clichéd mail-in of a sequel. Smulders is the highlight., 17 July 2017

An irony of mediocre movies like Jack Reacher is that they lead you to have low expectations of sequels, allowing the positive elements to stand out.

Never Go Back is just as far from greatness as its predecessor, but it moves a little better. Director Edward Zwick (who is clearly in this for the money) streamlines the movie almost to a fault. An over edited movie can make the world seem like a very small place.

Kudos to Cruise for wiping most of the smugness off his face, but compared to the young blooded Cobbie Smulders, he feels like a sour old crone. Never Go Back is more entertaining when the camera is on her. She is not a big woman but she is a force to be reckoned with. At one point she threatens to grab a superior officer by the hair and b***h slap the s**t out of him. Her sincerity is so comanding that it almost makes you understand why such cheesy lines make it into scripts. Half of the script in fact is comprised of this kind of dialog; "I want names numbers, phone records, favour flavours of ice cream"

The action scenes are largely derivative of similar set piece from past movies, especially the old' punch out in the musty boiler room, or the chase scene through a carnival crowd. The material pairs up Reacher with a daughter character: the generic rebel child he never knew he had until he was told. She is a device used more for plot advancement than for emotional impact. There is a goodbye scene at the end which would have been stronger had it been in any other (better) movie.

The single biggest problem is that Never Go Back exercises almost every cliché of the genre; from the people who are corrupt to the custody escape by means of a guards uniform. At least we have the delights of Smulders to offer some relief.

A joyless bug hunt, 16 July 2017

The Blue Butterfly is about a stage four cancer child who teams up with a famed naturalist to find the elusive eponymous species of butterfly which the kid dreams of seeing before its too late. True story though it may be the execution is not impressive. Plot developments hinge on a few corny and amateurish contrivances, the dialog is weak, and the punchline is a massive letdown.

Kudos to William Hurt for a relatively refined and unshowy performance, but at the same time his unrelenting blandness does the movie no favours. The scenery is the highlight, especially one scene in particular which includes strange hallucinations of the local indigenous peoples.

The movie throws a lame cheat into the ending. You can't spend an hour plus searching for something and then virtually pull it out of your pocket and expect the audience to accept that. There is a good story cocooned in this movie but it never morphs into anything that can take flight.

A half dead whale of a tale, 16 July 2017

This low budget production of Moby Dick stars William hurt as William hurt and Ethan Hawke as Ethan hawke, treating Ahab and Starbuck as anything but literary iconography. There are some half decent early scenes showcasing Ahab as a husband before setting off on the ill fated Pequod. The ship looks like a kid brother vessel to the massive version in John Huston's film with thirteen sails.

Ahab wins over his crew promising a Spanish gold piece to whoever raises him Moby Dick. He plays this scene with an ill advised sense of good humour before leading his men in a tacky chant of "moby dick" as if they were Atlanta Braves fans doing the chop.

As for a Moby Dick himself, I almost don't even remember him being in the movie. There are no memorable shots or screen appearances of the great White Whale. The movie even sidesteps the iconic sequence where Ahab leaps on the whale's back and takes harpoon to him. It is entirely possible that this was written out to avoid the expense of such a shot.

This Moby Dick goes down with the Pequod.

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