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Death Note (2017)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
They Tried. They Could've Tried Harder., 30 August 2017

Look, when you're condensing a 37 episode anime (or 12 volume manga) into an hour 40ish movie things will get lost. That's OK. But ultimately there are ways to effectively summarise concepts or ideas in short periods of time that they've just failed to do.

We're introduced to the basic idea of the Death Note we're all familiar with just sped up for time. Then about mid-way the plot starts trying to be its own thing. I commend it for that. I wouldn't want to watch a boring condensed retelling of something that relied so well on pacing and cliffhanger moments in the original. There are points this actually starts to look interesting and there are some nice moments as the tension starts to climb. The third act falls apart though. There are some strange directorial choices where the emotions don't hit right for the tone. When Ryuk is first encountered he's meant to be this terrifying unknown dark force coming from nowhere. Light's reaction is just... bad. There's also some really obnoxious and on the nose music choices during key moments that really ruin the moment. It brings you out of it and you go "OK, I get it. I know you're INSTRUCTING me to feel a certain way but that's not how emotions work."

A big reason why this adaptation fails is its poor handling (or outright butchering) of the characters. For example: L and Light are both originally geniuses in their own right. Driven, determined, masterminds, whose unending quest to get what they want causes them to have a high stakes battle of wit, quick thinking, and clever gambles. In this movie the two aren't very bright. Light isn't a genius. He's an edgelord loner teen with an inexplicable crush on the ~edgy goth-lite~ girl. Admittedly he does have some brilliant moments but he's still a pale comparison. L shows one moment of deductive brilliance and then is reduced to an emotionally ineffective antagonist. Mia's character lacks motivation. Mia in the original was a terrible character and drastically changing her could have been a great improvement from the original's sexist handling of women as pawns and side pieces for the men to use as servants to their bidding (seriously, the women in the original are SO STUPID it's painful). But at least Mia's motivations made sense. In this movie she has no backstory, all we know is that she's EDGY (and smoked a cigarette that one time in a montage and then never again but YOU KNOW SHE DOES IT), and she ultimately serves as this bizarre 2D mirror to Light. Light admittedly has more of a conflicted moral compass in this film compared to the original single-minded arrogance which is perhaps the only good thing about him.

So yeah. Depth. The characters are different and that'd be forgivable if they had more depth to them.

In short: a few good moments but in the end hits below average overall.

Incompetent and Painfully Boring, 8 July 2017

This is a prime example of what NOT to do when it comes to making a movie. Everything about this is mind numbingly boring. The team from Smosh decide to explore the foray of cinema after attaining success in online skit making but the issue is whatever talent you think they have doesn't translate over. The premise of this movie is a skit idea. That's it. It's a 2 minute skit stretched out to feature length run time and it isn't even a good skit idea to begin with. It has a lot of youtuber cameos and narrative choices that are so incredibly dated and unoriginal. It's a skit idea done to death far better by someone else years before this movie ever got made. We were bored before it existed. There's no laughs, there's no thought put into it, it's just two youtubers unable to creatively break free of their origins. Without going into spoilers this movie is baffling. It's stupid. It's inane. It's painful to watch. There are clear moments where you understand that there's MEANT to be a joke but you stare at it blank faced, the colour draining from your skin as you find yourself inexplicably aging faster than usual. Something is draining your very life force. You realise it is this movie. This movie is slowly trying to kill you with banality. You remember when you were 15 and found Smosh funny but all the nostalgia is suddenly destroyed and what should've been a relatively harmless legacy of early youtube is now tarnished and the name of Smosh has been cemented into history as synonymous with "unfunny." Sad. Dear God please don't watch this movie. It's not so bad it's good. It's just bad. The resolution will make you angry and unfulfilled and the only response I can imagine to someone having finished this is "god, why did I waste my time?"

Abduction (2011/I)
11 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Awful... Abysmal... so bad it was funny, 30 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I couldn't help but laugh at how poorly done this film was. Taylor Lautner, aka one of the worst actors of our time has really tried not at all to change that reputation...

He has managed to take his stilted, generic, or just downright awful dialogue and deliver just as you'd expect: bland, uninteresting, and pretty unemotional (his face is wet with tears, but his voice says "what do you mean I'm meant to change inflection and tone?") His performance unfortunately doesn't stand out from the veteran actors around him seem to be amiss as to how to turn around their dialogue and lack of character depth into something salvageable.

There's no amazing twists or turns, no big surprises. The plot goes along just as you'd expect it, unless you were expecting imagination. I kept laughing at Lautner's bad delivery, at the obvious clichés or stupid plot devices. It gives its twists away quite deliberately leaving nothing for the end but a poor attempt at a tear jerking introduction of Nathan's father. Some things don't even make sense, like how Nathan keeps travelling - as he's on the run, he obviously is going to try and get out of the city right? - but he can conveniently call his best friend to come meet up with him somewhere to give him things (this happens more than once in less than 24 hours. Where did he run to? Down the street?) Thank goodness the CIA didn't think to tap his friend's phone!

The entire movie seems to reek of an uninspired first draft.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Visual masterpiece but intellectually lacking, 28 April 2011

It started off with an incredible stylistic opening that was a feast for the eyes. Zack Snyder was busy showing him being brilliant visually and dramatically. Ah that was a great opening scene...

Then there's a little bit of plot and then BAM! Time for some quick hallucinating a whole new world. We're introduced to our pretty uninteresting and simple characters, none of which have any depth to them. What they do have is massive sex appeal, which distracted me momentarily for a while as I patiently waited for the plot to happen.

Though eventually oggling Emily Browning was insufficient for my film student self to passively enjoy the film. No, it just kept going. Action sequences were broken up with the calmer scenes. The pretense was really just an excuse to have completely unrealistic violence in various artist landscapes. The problem was that there wasn't much of a challenge, or progression in plot... it was "I need to do something. Cue fight scene. Fight scene means something is achieved. Dialogue saying we need to do another thing. Cue bizarre fight scene." Where's the challenges? Where's the progression? Things just happen... because.

Though there was a little bit of an attempt to give depth to Sweet Pea and Rocket by giving them a little bit of a backstory which then FINALLY became a bit of a center for the "plot" to revolve around besides Baby doll.

It was a steady downhill descent into mindless pointless plot less violence. I started off being wowed by it, then got bored, then it brought it back to the plot at the end (almost as if there wasn't any gap between the start and the end, like the middle and all the violence was pointless filler - which it was) and I thought that was good... Then the absolute end attempted to be some kind of trippy mind-messing twist which came off poorly.

It is the worst Zack Snyder film I have ever seen, mindless drivel. though not without some redemption. It was a very stylistically well done mindless drivel.

0 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
What you would expect, 27 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Unlike the first movie, this one takes very little time to establish the plot over time. It gets into the fighting very quickly, and it's exciting and there's all these explosions that we of course paid to see. The problem is that it fails to pace itself or work on anything more than minor plot points (most of which don't make sense, seriously ghost robots?) to progress to the next fight and eventually it becomes tedious having little change. It can't rise and have a dramatic climax because the entire film is one long sequence of action and so it's overall effect is diminished.

Watch it if you feel like switching your brain off for over 2 hours so you can get past the uninteresting characters and plot. It really is as you would expect: constant robot fights.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Not a Disappointment Burton's Best or most Imaginative, 3 April 2010

I liked the character of Alice. She was a very interesting character and did really seem more like Alice when watching the film than she did when viewing the trailer. The red Queen also seemed very much queen like.

Other characters felt either empty or not as interesting or right to me. Something about the Cheshire cat just didn't seem quite right, and it was weird as they all ended up having names. Also, characters (such as the white queen) seem to appear to have some form of personality, but just don't seem real or full which wouldn't be a problem if it was the original story of Alice in Wonderland but Burton tries to turn everyone into more believable characters and it didn't work too well in some cases. Not a total disaster, the Mad Hatter turned into more than just a raving lunatic obsessed with tea.

Burton almost seems to give a sense of order and logic to wonderland. It's weird seeing a Tim Burton film that seems to be trying to be NORMAL instead of weird! Wonderland becomes a linear and ordered place where you can go from one spot to another with no trouble of things changing dramatically or getting lost if you turn around. It lacks the imagination and surrealist absurdity of Alice in Wonderland that it should. It starts off the same as the original and then diverges quite drastically.

But it's not a failure of a film. It still had an interesting plot, a few laughs and some imagination. It's still entertaining to watch and visually was quite vivid and interesting. The CGI was not groundbreaking, but it had style. I liked the specific look that they went for and it didn't look camp or unrealistic (well yes, unrealistic as it's wonderland, but you don't go "that's just stupid"). The ending was happy. It was good. But Burton really didn't hit the mark on this one like his previous films.

12 out of 45 people found the following review useful:
A Brilliant and Gripping New Drama!, 1 February 2010

Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper wanted to make "a completely separate, third entity" for the Stargate franchise and "to produce a stylistically and tonally different TV series with a more mature and fresh story approach so as not to get too repetitive." Well, they certainly have succeeded! I too was a bit apprehensive at first when I saw the previews and thought that it basically was Lost meets Battlestar Galactica but I got over that when I watched the first episode. I think people's big problem with the series is it's NOT STARGATE. Well of course it's not Stargate! It's Stargate Universe! Why should it be exactly the same? If it was exactly the same you might as well have made a season 11 of SG-1 or 6 of Atlantis. It's new, it's different, and as a show by itself it is an absolutely brilliant drama.

The show focuses a lot on the characters and the sudden change to their lives by being thrust trillions of light years away. Most interesting of all is Rush, whom I absolutely love as a character. I cannot wait to April when the show returns because the suspense of waiting for what Rush does next is so much! Yes, this show may not be the most action packed Sci-fi with a large gunfight every episode but it is suspenseful at times. It is thoroughly entertaining as a piece of DRAMA. It's also not as sci-fi-esquire as it's predecessors and there's been more focus on the power struggle with the IOA, Rush and Young and the effect of being stranded has on the passengers. I don't mind this at all. I don't think it's reached the melodrama of a soap at all.

I cannot wait until it comes back in April and I will be incredibly disappointed if it's ratings continue to decline and the show gets canceled! It deserves it's own fan base that isn't so narrow minded as to reject it because it's stylistically and visually different from the other 15 accumulated years of the Stargate Franchise shows. The original Movie was quite different from the series yet we still enjoy it don't we? But also the current fan base should definitely accept it as it is. I love it. I'm ecstatic to hear that it's already got a 2nd season planned :D

1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Freaky, 29 December 2009

I don't really believe that it counts as this generations "The Exorcist" but that doesn't matter, it's still quite good. It's not a series of screeching heads popping up to get cheap shocks out of the audience. The audience is in the dark and the screen is dark. You sit, and wait, and wonder what's going to happen next, and sometimes it's just really bizarre. It was incredibly suspenseful and the pauses are larger than some other movies which would've made it boring if it didn't capture your attention so simply and effectively. At first it seems like the entity is a serious lightweight with such spooky tricks as moving someones keys to the middle of the room at night and only making one thing go thud in the night but it manages to escalate to the point where it's not so subtle, but not so grand and amazing, but still really freaky. It's pretty clever n that respect and just goes to prove that budget isn't needed to make a film good.

When Katie screeches it's really kind chilling. It's not got the whole generic teenager in slasher film sort of screaming. It was awfully chilling and freaky. As for Mika, he was an idiot. He was an absolute idiot who kept saying that he could handle it, he was in control and that he was making progress when really he just made things a lot worse. Thankfully his tool-like nature was not so extreme to be apparent instantly or ruin the movie.

The relationship breakdown between the two as the movie progresses was very realistic and that part of the story was actually filmed more believably than in Cloverfield. In Cloverfield the "OMG A MONSTER LETS FILM IT!" aspect made sense but the "hey just ignore the camera I'm holding to the side as I film your reactions to me flirting with you" was just there because it needed to be for the story. The bits between the nights when it's filmed are realistic. It's believable that Mika would film some of it because it doesn't appear to be propped up as a reality TV show.

So it's pretty freaky. It didn't leave me cautious to open doors or make me a little tense as I turned the lights off and went to sleep but it certainly spooked me while I was watching it. The person next to me was covering their eyes and freaking out though!

1010 out of 1538 people found the following review useful:
So BAD I find it funny, 19 November 2009

I've read all the books. I know what happens. This never ruins a film for me.

I didn't want to see this film because the previous one was lacking in... well... everything. But girlfriend wanted to see it. I went in and was instantly surprised to see the demographic had widened past 12-16 year old girls who instantly swoon at any even remotely hot guy so that was interesting. It's not relevant to how good the film was- it just reaffirmed to me (and should to all of you) that hating a series on principle or having preconceived notions of how bad something will be is unfair on it.

Not in this case. It was still bad. BUT worth the money I payed to see it because though it most definitely not intended to be entertaining in the way I found it. It was full of melodramatic dialogue and bad acting which, if you take ANY Drama classes at school- Which Robert DIDN'T- you'll notice certain things about how people deliver lines. You notice how they're SAYING lines they have memorised with unnatural and stylised emphasis on the key words in the sentences without giving the (cheesy) dialogue depth or realism. Quite simply, it was so terrible I found myself resisting the urge to burst out laughing in a room full of fans who were probably misinterpreting the melodrama as "Good, emotional drama." No. This film is ridiculous.

As it goes further on it gets less tightly stitched together and I had to become reliant on my knowledge of the books to fill in and pick up the slight gaps in dialogue and plot. They would say things that are based on something that didn't happen on screen (probably deleted scene for time) or their dialogue would just be terrible unrealistic lines that are work as standalone ones for a trailer but in conversation it seems like they're jumping slightly just to get to say something that is dramatic without it actually making too much sense.

BUT! It does have SOME redeeming qualities! The melodrama wasn't nonstop hilarity so thankfully something else held my attention. There was actual effort put into this film. The fight scenes actually used REAL special effects (something the first film was a bit cheap on) which actually looked kinda impressive. Any action was short lived unfortunately but what little there was, they did a reasonable job with.

I was impressed at the presence of transition. The previous film jumped and skipped and the next plot point just WAS without having been caused. This film (until near the end, of course) actually had a pace and a coherency to it that allows you to understand it without reading the books. This is a bonus. Certain things you'd think would drag on as the director tries to give you time to let the "emotion" "sink in" thankfully didn't take forever and the entire movie fit almost snuggly into its 2 hour length. Too bad it fell apart more and more it went along.

The film also shares the semi-awkward character interactions that create the same humour as the first one. Not as deliberately funny as the first one (though, as I said, it was pretty hilarious when it wasn't meant to be) though.

Though it was many failings with only a few things to back it up as being a reasonable film it will definitely make all you little teenage girls out there desperate to see Jacob's hell tanked up body very happy. You can HEAR the audience's reaction the first time Jacob takes his shirt off. He's got all you need: Pecs, biceps, ABS OF STEEL and minimal clothing. Too bad he lacks depth and real character. (Girls love obsessively devoted Zombies, they don't think enough to complain) It is NO WAY even NEAR one of the best films of 2009. NO ONE should say this ridiculous claim.

Really tossing up between 3 and 4 stars. Mmm. I guess a movie's highlight shouldn't be how low it sinks. 3.