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220 reviews in total 
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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Let's list the pros and cons., 29 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Okay; first, a con. There was no Shia LeBeauf--or even Megan Fox--to provide any continuity with the first three films. Just relative newcomer Nicola Peltz (well, I've never heard of her before!) as the daughter and only child of Mark Wahlberg's character.

Now, a pro. She did a credible enough job as Tessa Yeager that I might go see her next flick. By that, I mean that, sometimes, her character was admirably feisty. Other times; intolerably spoiled-bratty. In short; totally believable as a teenage Texan tomboy.

Next; another con. Mark Wahlberg as Old Man Yeager. Why is a robotics engineer, in West Texas, trying-but-failing to be a farmer? Did he used to be employed at the Houston branch of NASA, prior to the Battle of Chicago in T3: DARK OF THE MOON? Some further background info, along those lines (other than he got Tessa's mother pregnant while they were still barely out of high school), would have been helpful!

Now, another pro. Kelsey Grammar was colossally brilliant as CIA xenophobe Ettinger. Almost, too convincing, in fact! But, then again; that's the hallmark of a versatile character actor. Isn't it?

Now, a third con. This was not quite as good as the first three films, in that Bumblebee and Ratchet were the only familiar Autobot faces. Hound, Crosshairs, and Drift? As totally new to me as Ms. Peltz.

Now, a third pro. The action sequences were way better than those in the series premiere of THE LAST SHIP!

I guess the only way to break this tie is to list...two more pros!

One being the revelation that the Transformers were not always sentient robots. But, rather, they were first invented by _organic_ alien beings. And, the other?

The return of Megatron!

In summary, then: this is the best movie you'll see before the Fourth of July weekend. And, if you watch it with enough suspended disbelief, the three-hour running time will be well worth sitting through.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
This more than makes up for the Matthew Vaughn travesty X-MEN: LOW CLASS., 24 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For starters, it provides a suitable explanation for Stewart-Xavier's restored mobility in the flashback prologue of X-MEN 3: THE LAST STAND. It also provides a suitable substitute for the character of Robert Kelly, who was the predestined target of assassination in the original Chris Claremont comic book story. But, who (as played by Bruce Davison) was killed off in the very first X-MEN movie, as all true fans of that film remember.

The mutant rebels in the opening action scene were also intriguing. In addition to returning favorites like Iceman, Shadowcat, and Colossus, there were also relative newcomers Bishop (no mistaking those dreadlocks!) and Sunspot. Although, I have to confess; Adan Canto, the actor portraying the latter, bore a slightly greater resemblance to the actress who played Callisto in X-3! In fact, I was thinking to myself, while watching the opening battle of this film:

"Is this supposed to be Callisto's dystopian future-son by Cannonball?!"

Then, there's Peter Dinklage who played Bolivar Trask. I loved it when he played Arthur Ramsey, the egotistical mental giant recruited for the alien-busting Federal task force in THRESHOLD (the short-lived, and criminally under-rated, 2005 CBS sci-fi series). And, the believability he brought to that role he transferred to his depiction of Trask with absolutely no trouble, at all!

For me, however, the highlight of the film was the new meaning Bryan Singer gave to the old phrase, "a meeting of the minds," when he had Stewart-Xavier telepathically confer with his younger self (convincingly played, once again, by James MacEvoy).

In short, then, I think the X-men movie franchise has been safely re-secured. Thanks to Bryan Singer being once more at the directorial helm.

37 out of 71 people found the following review useful:
This is funny enough to have been called CARLY'S ANGELS!, 28 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'll admit it. I went to this film expecting it to be a bigger flop than KNIGHT AND DAY. But, man! Was I proved wrong.

Cameron Diaz is perfectly believable as the modern WSF yuppie who has it all. Looks; brains; a high-paying job; and a sexy boyfriend (played by Nikolas Waldau) she's been dating for two straight months. But, when Waldau blows off meeting her father (the still-versatile Don Johnson, now playing the same type of lovably lecherous old codger James Gammon played in NASH BRIDGES), she goes to spy on him. Thinking he's simply being commitment-phobic.

Imagine her surprise at meeting her boyfriend's cute-but-naïve redheaded wife (played by Leslie Mann)! Followed by the two of them meeting--and befriending--the buxom-yet-sensitive Kate Upton!

I won't spoil the rest of the film for you, except to say that Ms. Mann practically steals the show with her character's ditziness.* And, Ms. Diaz still looks as good in a bikini as Ms. Upton! The latter is not just eye-candy, however. She's very articulate. And, Waldau is almost _too_ believable as the unfaithful con artist they now love to hate.

Of course, I must confess that Ms. Diaz and Mr. Johnson are the only two names I recognized in the opening cast credits. Ms. Upton, Ms. Mann, and Mr. Waldau all being completely unknown to me! But, I sense all that's going to change for these three in the very near future. So, go see this film and suspend all disbelief. Because that's the best way to shamelessly enjoy I did.

* "It rhymes with 'schlintercourse.' " Lol!

Noah (2014)
13 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
Cecil B. DeMille, himself, would give this two thumbs down., 30 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Because even the most outlandishly embellished of his sword-and-sandal Bible epics was still well-acted without being Russell Crowe did in this movie. And the script as written by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel definitely did _not_ help matters.

I am not as frequent a church-goer as my mother (who persuaded me to go see this with her, earlier tonight). But, one thing we both agreed on was that this movie was "too way out!" And, that is most definitely _not_ a good thing!

I mean; what were Aronofsky and Handel trying to achieve here? Some kind of cross between ultra-orthodox Judaism and New Age environmentalism? Is that why he turned Noah into a fatalistic vegetarian cynic? Well, I _almost_ hate to break this to you, Darren and Ari. But, if that was your vision, then you better get yourselves some prescription glasses. Because this movie was more like _needless revision_!* Especially, the parts where Noah refused to give his two younger sons wives, and then tried to kill his oldest son's twin daughters!!

FYI, everyone else: most versions of the Bible agree that Noah's sons were already married when the Flood started. And all three daughters-in-law were _welcomed_ aboard the Ark.

So, do yourselves a favor, people. Boycott this movie while it's still in theaters. Then, permanently boycott renting it on DVD, and/or watching it on regular TV. Because, if I ever wondered before whether I was missing something by not watching THE WRESTLER, THE BLACK SWAN, or THE FOUNTAIN, I can now safely say:

"No, I was not!!!"

*A la the second STAR TREK reboot I unapologetically refer to as THE WRATH OF RET-CON.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Rivals "Dodge City," itself, as Errol Flynn's best Western., 5 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sure, "Dodge City" had only come out six years earlier (i.e., 1939). But, "San Antonio" was definitely _not_ a remake! For one thing, there's no pair of comedy relief sidekicks following Flynn around. Just one, in the form of S.Z. Sakal as Sasha "Bozie" Bozic. And, he's actually Alexis Smith's comedy relief sidekick!

Plus, "San Antonio" is a little less grim than "Dodge City." No crusading newspaper men getting shot in the back, or children dying in their mother's arms after being dragged to death by panic-stricken horses. Instead, we merely have one murder; the tragic gunning down of Charlie Bell (played by John Litel) by Roy Stewart's French partner, LaGuerre. Which brings up a third major difference between this epic and "Dodge City."

The visible-right-from-the-start tension between LaGuerre and Stewart.

Where Dodge City, Kansas, was solely under the control of Bruce Cabot (as Surrett), here we have two men engaged in their own private competition to end their grudgingly equal partnership as controllers of "old San Antone." A plot device I'd previously only seen used in gangster-movies!

Last, but not least? Alexis Smith's beautiful singing and acting.

Add them all together, and you have nothing less than a perfect ten of a horse opera.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
I can't say I'm sad to see you go, Jay., 7 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When you took over from Johnny Carson, in May of 1992, you were the only one who didn't congratulate him on his thirty years of hosting THE TONIGHT SHOW. Why? The female producer you hired to replace Fred De Cordova ordered you not to. In fact, she blacklisted every Hollywood celebrity who appeared on other talk shows! Which is why I initially watched Arsenio Hall during his original run on the Fox Network.

But, after you fired her and hired back Fred, roughly six months into your first season as host, things not only settled down. They gradually got better! However, it was not unnoticeable how Branford Marsalis disappeared (and was replaced, as band leader, by Kevin Eubanks) after he told you on the air that he wasn't going to be the butt of even good-natured jokes, the way Doc Severinsen was for Johnny Carson. Although, truth to tell, Doc always gave as good as he got, much to Johnny and the audience's delight.

Then, following your tenth anniversary as host, you seemed to get a little carried away with your power. For example; unpredictably scrambling up the established pattern of the comedy spots between the end of the monologue and the introduction of the first guest (i.e., telecasting "Monday Night Headlines" on every other night of the week but...!).

And, of course, in 2009 came the most ill-advised experiment since Prohibition: "The Jay Leno Snow" in prime time. Featuring as your very first guest, on Opening Night, none other than Kanye West. The guy whom I guarantee did _not_ receive a wedding gift from Taylor Swift when he married Beyoncé.

Not surprisingly, your prime time show was canceled after less than half a season. Prompting your return to the 11:35 time slot...and prompting NBC to break their promise to Conan O'Brien. The latter subsequently--and justifiably--moved to TNT, who gave him a talk show that started half an hour earlier than yours. And which, thereby, successfully drained away some of those life-sustaining Nielsen ratings you so badly needed during Phase 2 of your hosting tenure. Evidence of this clearly being seen in such things as your more-than-occasional recycling of vintage Monday night headlines!

Now, you've retired as host...and none too soon. Because, this past week alone, I found nothing funny about THE TONIGHT SHOW, anymore. Even Billy Crystal couldn't make me laugh during his wanna-be-poignant tribute to you, last night! So, whatever you do, from now on? I hope you have better luck with it than you did these past four years.

Because, believe me, you'll need it!

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A good-natured send-up of the movies that made them famous., 6 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I confess it. I had never of Sylvester Stallone prior to the original ROCKY. I had never heard of Robert DeNiro prior to RAGING BULL. And, I had never heard of Kevin Hart until this movie!

Stallone and DeNiro have proved more versatile, over the years, than most of their fans give them credit for. The latter, in particular. Prior to AWAKENINGS, DeNiro only seemed able and/or content to play the same type of character; a blue-collar loudmouth who swore in thirty-second spurts every five minutes like clockwork! But, I'm glad to say that changed (or, perhaps, just my appraisal had) in the twenty years following that.

Even so, it's nice to see him back in the type of film role that helped make him a household name among all those who weren't old enough to see TAXI DRIVER in movie theaters.

As for Stallone? He and Alan Arkin--as "Lightning Lou" Conlon, "Razor" Sharp's aging coach--have great screen chemistry. From their hilariously straight-faced parody of Stallone's now-classic use of frozen beef as a punching bag. To Arkin's accapella "mating" dance while Razor is on the telephone, trying to arrange a date with his ex-girlfriend (played by the still-beauteous Kim Basinger).

The only thing that keeps me from giving this a perfect ten? Kevin Hart's performance as Dante, Junior. I'm sorry, but there's no gentler way to put this.

Hart sounded like he was competing in a Chris Rock Sound-alike Contest...and losing!

Other than that, I enjoyed this film, immensely. Much to my pleasant surprise. :-)

47 Ronin (2013)
7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
I'm surprised I was only one of five people in the theater!, 30 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Based on all the lauding I ever heard "300" get, I thought sure this would pack the house with the same type of movie-goer. Especially, as I only ever saw "300" on TV and was definitely not impressed.

This movie, however, did impress me.

In plot, it was the closest to the actual (translated) historical texts I've ever read on the subject. The character of Kai--played by Keanu Reeves--was, of course, dreamed up expressly for this film version. But, that was a plus, as far as I'm concerned. As I agree that purity of heart is definitely _not_ interchangeable with purity of genealogical descent!

Plus, he helped introduce some elements of Japanese mythology which (let's face it) isn't as well known, to Western Hemisphere audiences, as Greek or Norse mythology. Stuff like the tengu folk often being depicted as Buddhist bird-men. Or that the kirin (the Japanese version of a Chinese dragon) often looked more like a rainbow-colored moose (aka Euro-elk)!

In short; this movie was way better than I expected. So, all those who didn't go see it during Opening Week should make a New Year's resolution to go see it this week. It'll be worth it.

Black Hand (1950)
When this film was first in theatrical release, critic Bosley Crowther..., 9 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...panned it as being a "wee bit theatrical."

If he were alive today, I'd remind him: "Truth, sir, is stranger (and, quite often, _more_ theatrical) than fiction."

The Mafia--and other crime syndicates, regardless of ethnicity--might be leery of murdering incorruptible public servants. But, that doesn't mean they're completely averse to it. For example: roughly sixty years before this film came out, a certain Irish-American police captain was murdered along the New Orleans waterfront while investigating certain crimes attributed to the Sicilian immigrants working there. The local citizenry were so enraged, they actually stormed the jail house where the arrested suspects were being held and lynched them there (almost leading to war between America and Italy)!

Much more recently, the Old School Mafia in Sicily, itself, has taken to murdering police officers and judges, who won't kowtow to them, more often than they used to.

Gene Kelly is surprisingly adept at playing just such a public servant. It's the finest non-song-and-dance role he ever had since 1948's THE THREE MUSKETEERS! So as a one-quarter Italian-American, I have nothing but shamelessly high praise for the gritty realism (for its time) depicted in this criminally under-rated classic. Because, that's the way things were back then, where organized crime is concerned.

And, in some respects, they still are...if not worse.

15 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
So, now we know., 23 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

We know, for example, why elderly Elizabeth I was so hostile to the Doctor during his and Martha Jones' team-up with Shakespeare. It's because he ran out on his wife!

We know that the 4th Doctor becomes the owner of an art gallery.

We also know that John Hurt's performance was undeniably both poignant and bravura. That he was really the 9th Doctor, instead of a potential 12th (as I initially thought); or even an aged 8th, like I second-thought. We even know that this ret-cons Chris Eccleston into the 10th Doctor; Dave Tennant, into the 11th; and Matt Smith, into the 12th.

What we don't know, however, is whether or not the 13th Doctor will still become the Valyard (traitor and would-be prosecutor of the 6th Doctor).

Only Time, of course, will tell. In any event...

Happy Golden Anniversary, Doctor!!!

And, a perfect ten, to boot (as if you didn't know).

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