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Princess of Mars (2009)
Bargain-basement Princess of Mars
Having read the original book ages ago when I was a kid, I was thrilled that a movie version was finally coming to the screen. Although the big budget version doesn't arrive until 2012, I gleefully sought out this Asylum quickie (shot in 12 days? Did I hear that correctly on the "making of" extras? It shows!) and I'm glad I did. It's crap, don't get me wrong. But I needed to see it.
Antonio Sabato, Jr. was an interesting choice to play John Carter. Updating the story so that Carter is a soldier in Afghanistan (Iraq?) was a good move (it also made Sabato's numerous tattoos easier to accept). Sabato brought a sense of fun and adventure to the role. Although he was a bit wooden at times, he was certainly easy on the eyes (especially with him running around shirtless quit a bit).
Traci Lords was also an interesting choice as Dejah Botox...er, Thoris -- Princess of Mars! Although Lords, hovering right around 40 when this was made, is a bit too old for the part, it's always a delight to see her in something. This just was NOT the right vehicle for her.
But the film is strictly a bargain basement affair. Crappy (and minimal) CGI, lame stunts and the masks worn by Tars Tarkas and his people were just wretched (and nothing like the four-armed giants described in the novels). The plot, what little there was, seemed like an afterthought.
Bronson Canyon (seen in such things as "Robot Monster", "Lobster Man From Mars", the original "Star Trek" among others) is used extensively and, while it's always fun to see it -- it just adds to the overall cheapness of the production. A large chunk of the film also takes place in an old, what looks like, oil refinery. Ho hum. A penny saved...
There's not a lot to recommend about it. It's bad...and not even in the "so-bad-it's-funny" kind of way. While I'm glad I saw it, all it did was whet my appetite for the big budget feature coming out two years from now. Sabato gave the film what little oomph it has. It's sad to see him (and, yes, even Traci Lords) reduced to doing schlock like this. It is an interesting (barely) attempt that collapses under it's own lack of budget.
Sex and the City 2 (2010)
Despite its over-the-top unbelievability, it's fun to see the girls again.
So, it's NOT the most believable movie and is completely over-the-top. Sure, it was a little long--but so was the first movie.
Catching up with Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha was great fun. They're aging, maturing and still finding themselves. Having them go to Abu Dhabi was perhaps a weird choice, but it gave them--especially Samantha--a chance to have some great fish-out-of-water moments. I was happy to have gotten to go along for the ride. These girls just wanna have fun -- and they did!
People who weren't fans of the series would obviously not want to wander into a screening. Those fans who are screaming that the movie was horrible and not realistic should maybe re-examine the original show. It was a fantasy (not as broad, perhaps) as well. Hello? In real life could Carrie, a newspaper columnist, ever be able to afford her New York apartment and all of the clothes/shoes she had? Heck no. So, with this movie expanding the camp/fantasy aspect of the show, I was more than okay with.
And I truly believe that each character grew a bit. Charlotte admitted to herself it is hard being a mother. Miranda was able to make her career into something that made her happy. Carrie was able to make her life with Big that much better and Samantha... Well, okay, Samantha hasn't changed much---but she doesn't want to change. She's keeping herself well preserved (and that produced several wonderful moments and laughs).
I had a great time seeing Carrie and the girls again. It was an escapist fantasy. It was fun, it had some great laughs...and it was a good time. What's wrong with that?
The 3- D is the ONLY thing that gives this film any depth...
I am 43 years old and went to see this movie...on PURPOSE. Judging from the preview, I didn't have very high expectations. I went for the 3-D--seriously. And seriously, the 3-D is the ONLY REASON to go. Although I was rather shocked to find that the theater I went to had bumped up the ticket price to see the film in 3-D (Why?), I was astounded to see such a sharp, clear picture with real depth. Not all of the in-your-face effects worked (but I did find myself ducking once early on), but it was MILES away from "JAWS 3-D" and the like from the last 3-D renaissance in the 80s).
The movie itself was lame and I can't imagine anyone bothering to see it in 2-D...and enjoying it. Utterly dumbed-down for kids (I'm thinking this was aimed at the "Spy Kids 3-D" / "Shark Boy & Lava Girl" crowd...I SAW "Spy Kids 3-D" and barely survived the crap... As much as I love 3-D, I could not bear the thought of another "Spy Kids" experience, so I PASSED on the "Shark Boy" thing...), it had the look and feel of one of those Amusement Park simulator rides (like the old "Back To the Future" ride at Universal Studios)...with a stretched out running time.
It takes an amazingly long time (at least it seemed like it) for the adventure to even begin. When it does start, one highly implausible event after another ensues---and, I'm sorry, I just can not suspend my disbelief THAT much.
But for what it was (mindless 3-D entertainment), it sufficed. It's sole saving grace was the 3-D. I'm looking forward to the glut of 3-D movies in the coming year. I just hope they are better than "Journey To The Center of the Earth"
The Time Tunnel (1966)
Better than I thought it would be or remembered
I had seen a "Time Tunnel" episode here or there growing up in the '70s but never thought much about them. Recently, I found myself with some gift cards for Best Buy and found both sets of the series (how rude that they broke up a one-season series into two separate DVD sets). Normally, I would have passed them by (having not been too impressed as a youngster), but there was an amazing sale on them. I could buy BOTH sets on sale for LESS than the regular price of ONE of the sets. Cool! Popping in the series, again, I was not expecting much. That first episode with the Titanic I found kind of dull and plodding...even though I can see why the writers went with the Titanic as the first episode. But the tragedy, shock and horror of the disaster were never successfully woven into the story.
I almost decided to pass on the rest of the series and sell the two sets on eBay or something, but I continued to watch the show. It really has grown on me. Sure, the story lines are a bit predictable and the minuscule budget is glaringly obvious (only 6 prisoners on Devil's Island? Ha!) and the incongruity of everyone (in ancient Greece, France, etc.) speaking 20th century English (albeit with a foreign accent) just screams out HOKEY (and let's NOT even go into how they could constantly bring people and objects back from the past to the Time Tunnel lab and then send them back again--but they could NEVER bring back Tony or Doug)...but there's just something fascinating about the show and what they TRIED to do with it. For example, Tony goes back and meets his father OR Tony ends up at the base 10 years before the setting of the show and Doug doesn't know him OR when Tony does make it back to the lab but at an accelerated time than everyone else (everyone seems "frozen"--but Tony is just in a warp and has to return where he came from) were really interesting and novel attempts to break up the show's routine shuffle. I also enjoyed when the show moved off into the "future". At least they were TRYING to be creative.
It may not have been the best thing ever produced for television, but it was far from the worst. Too bad it only had one season. Given time (and a bigger budget), it MIGHT have evolved into a really fantastic series that is far more revered and remembered than it is today.
Fallen Angels (2006)
Fallen Angels: Beyond BAD!!!
I soooooo wish someone had clipped writer-director Jeff Thomas' wings before they allowed him to get behind the camera and make this turkey! This "Fallen Angels" crap should NEVER have gotten off the ground! Yes, it's THAT BAD! Despite the incredible cast, this movie sinks faster and stinks worse than most direct to DVD efforts! GEEZ! I had such high hopes, too. It sure is being promoted to hell on MySpace and other areas---probably because it's such a turd that they are hoping to score SOME of the money back before word gets out.
In Thomas' head, I'm sure this all makes sense and I'll bet he thinks he has made a masterpiece. OOoooo... How sad. He had a cool location and an amazing cast---but nothing to hold them together. The script was incoherent, laughably amateurish and jaw-droppingly implausible...despite the supernatural elements! And, once we get into the "demons" (yawn...the one with the silly eyeball sticking out is laughably silly, by the way)...at the end, it's an overly used cliché that defeats them (I'm avoiding spoilers...why, I don't know, since everyone should AVOID this movie).
But HOW did he rook the cast (which includes Michael Dorn, Bill Moseley, Adrianne Curry, Christopher Knight, Ruth Buzzi, Reggie Bannister, R.A. Mihailoff, Kane Hodder, Michael Berryman, Kevin McCarthy, Martin Kove and David Hess!!!!) into being a part of this snooze-fest? Most only have what amounts to cameo appearances (I kept waiting for Adrianne Curry to pop up, not realizing she was the girl in what I thought was a pre-title nightmare sequence...although, maybe it wasn't a nightmare?). The other cast members were strictly amateur hour nobodies. I'm embarrassed for EVERYONE involved.
Be weary of all of the hype on the Fallen Angels review/message boards. I'm sure by and large it is by people involved in one way or another with the production. Yes, THAT is how desperate they appear to be to unload this crap-o-rama turd.
AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!!! You have been warned...
Action-packed Beefcake Bonanza!
I just saw this today. I wasn't all that excited about seeing it, expecting nothing but a CGI blood and guts war epic set in ancient Greece. SNORE! The first 45 minutes used to set up the film won me over. Not only was the hero interesting, he and his co-horts were body-beautiful beefcake on parade. Zowie! Now, the washboard abs were NOT why I enjoyed the movie, but they certainly were enough to help pull me in to the action. I wound up really enjoying the spectacle and action. It was a popcorn flick--but much more enjoyable than the bulk of what Hollywood hurls at us. This is so NOT the typical flick I would usually see or enjoy, but I WILL be buying a copy on DVD when it comes out. Oh yes...!
Silent Hill (2006)
Silent (and way too long) HELL!
***Contains Spoilers*** Okay, I know I'll upset those little game-crazy fans out there who "love" this woefully BAD film. I had not played the game, nor did i know this was based on a game when I went to see it. It simply looked like a good horror flick and I wanted to see it. Boy, was i in for one of the WORST horror film-going experiences since...BOTH versions of the EXORCIST prequels ("THE BEGINNING" and "DOMINION") or last year's ALONE IN THE DARK (also shamelessly based on a video game, I understand). HORROR FANS--Be WARNED! While the film started off interestingly enough (especially once the lead actress got into the town), it soon started getting silly when these ash creatures start popping up and attacking her...and then are suddenly gone. HUH? I figured it would all be explained later on and I stuck it out. These creatures (and several others) were never really explained--they just WERE.
And, whoever the money people were who backed this...didn't they bother to READ the script? The town was abandoned over 30 years before...apparently just after the religious fanatics burned the one little girl (Alessa) as a witch. The girl doesn't die (or maybe she died later in the hospital???), but her anger and hate conjure up a demon (is this right??) that waits 20 + years to give birth to Alessa's daughter (!!!!???) and then leaves her at an orphanage for a couple to adopt. HUH!?! What kind of crap is that? The religious sect was interesting, especially since they were in whatever dimensional version of the town they were in. But when it was explained they were dead...and then Alessa's spirit (and her look-alike demon clone) comes and kills them (but they were already dead to begin with-burned to death in the fire they tried to kill Alessa with), the film just falls even flatter on its face than it already had! The non-ending has the heroine and her daughter returning home--but are somehow still trapped in another dimension (how they got there is not explained), leaving room for a (please God, NO!!!) sequel.
Video game players may get this, but as a film---it SHOULD stand on its own and NOT be propped up on the hope that its audience is familiar with the game it's based on. The ash creatures, acid-spitting blob people, brutally tortured guy in the bathroom and guy with a huge sword may mean something to game players, but to those uninitiated with the game (i.e. any fool unlucky enough to stumble into the theater expecting a coherent fright flick) only come away shaking our heads wondering what the heck those things were, why they were there and how they got there.
The film does have some things going for it. The transition between real world and other world is handled well. There is some truly horrific imagery in the film. The acting is fairly tolerable (especially Alice Krige). It had the ability to be something really unique, instead of just becoming an incoherent creature-fest. (When the lead meets the nurse mannequin things in the basement...I almost expected the creatures to break out into Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video! Ha!).
The film runs an agonizingly long 2 hours and 7 minutes...agonizing because it looses any coherence very early in the story and drags on and on. The person I saw it with was actually so bored, he fell asleep briefly (O' if only I'd been so lucky to have slept through this stillborn stinker, too). It's such a shame that such a great looking movie had nothing interesting, original, or intelligent to say.
This film was #1 at the box office last week, but it's take was only in the mid-$20 million range. Respectable, no doubt, but certainly NOT "blockbuster" by any means. I saw this Monday, and there were 25 or so people in the theater. Obviously word is getting out about this terror-turd. If it's NOT off the Top 10 list after next weekend, it surly will be by the following.
NOT even worth a DVD rental! My 2 hours and 7 minutes are forever lost in the otherworld purgatory known as SILENT HILL. SNORE!!!!!
Odd uneven movie with standout performance and quasi-gay themes
I recently saw SHINER and as interesting and different as it was, I found that it just wasn't very good. The three story lines involve some sort of pain / sex aspect. There is a heterosexual couple, 2 gay bashing buddies, and a washed-up 3rd rate boxer with a timid male admirer.
Made on an obvious low budget, and shot on video, the movie really seems to try to be good, but, like its characters, gets wounded and falls apart as it unspools.
The heterosexual couple are never really developed and they ultimately disappear. Despite they're fleeting attempts at some pain/pleasure play, nothing much happens and they are utterly forgettable.
The gay bashing buddies are more interesting. The leader of the two has their gay victim service him before he beats the guy up. Eventually, the lead basher discovers a rare sexual thrill in getting beat up, and the two "straight" pals become almost gay partners in their bizarre quest for sexual fulfillment through beating each other up (more often than not in the nude). Their victim turns up later on to turn the tables on them...but they reverse the situation and take their warped sex games to a new level. All of this may sound titillating, but it's not. It's rather creepy and shocking (the intent?) but also rather ludicrous and silly at the same time.
The boxer (Tim) and his stalker (Bob) are much more interesting. Bob is a mouse of a man, who lives at home and idolizes Tim, frequently showing up at the gym where he works out--usually when Tim is about to shower. Tim is understandably bothered by Bob's attentions, and this makes for the most compelling of the three story lines in the film. Bob wants Tim, but doesn't know why he wants him or what to do with him. Tim doesn't want anything to do with Bob, yet is drawn to him because he has nothing else. There's friction in Tim about all of this, and their encounters always equal interesting scenes, the best one being one set in a parking lot stairway late at night. It is uncomfortable and drawn out. Tim gets right in Bob's face. An amazing scene that was brought to life by the guy playing Bob (Nicholas T. King) but MOSTLY by a young actor named David Zelina who I found very engaging and the standout performance in the movie. The final scene between Bob and Tim happens in Bob's mother's kitchen late at night when Tim strips himself bare (literally and figuratively) in front of Bob.
The Tim/Bob story line, with the films odd narrative make the writer/director (Christian Calson) someone to watch in the future, despite this movies sort of failed outcome. David Zelina is the actor to watch out for, though. (I've since picked up his movie SASQUATCH HUNTERS, which was actually made in 2002--BEFORE SHINER--even though it was only released this year. Despite a rather stereotypical throw away role, I felt he gave the part a solid-as-possible presence in a not-so-great film). Odd--but interesting...
Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
"EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING" smells like the END of the series...
I had heard horrible things about "EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING" from friends and read reviews. The original is a classic, probably impossible to top! "Exorcist 2-The Heretic" was panned, and was notorious for years being referred to as the "worst sequel ever made"! "Exorcist 3" did NOT fair much better. Even though the sequels never measured up to the originals, I LIKED them, and was NOT going to be dissuaded from seeing PART 4! I thought surely the film could NOT be as bad as the nay-sayers were leading me to believe. Boy, was I WRONG!
I've been following the development of this movie for a long time. I knew it was a very BAD sign when the films release was pushed back and the studio SCRAPED the original film and reshot the whole thing with a new director. But surely, the first version of Part 4, the one done by Paul Schrader, can NOT be as HORRIBLE as the version they released? (I soooo want to see it and have HIGH HOPES for a special edition DVD with BOTH films)!
***SPOILERS*** The film is about Father Merrin's first encounter with evil (in the book, the demon was named Pazuzu. However, in the original movie, the demon's name is never mentioned--but the demon does say it's "the devil". It's not until PART 2 that the demon is named Pazuzu on screen)...but I do NO think I heard the name Pazuzu mentioned when I saw the film today. Instead, i think they were referring to the devil (I KNOW I heard a character say that the spot in Africa where the film takes place was the place where the devil landed when he was cast out of Heaven...).
It is mentioned in the original, that Father Merrin had performed an exorcism ONCE before. He, as I said, had encountered Pazuzu in Africa in PART 2 and performed an exorcism on a young boy named Kakumo. So, I questioned the need to explore his past AGAIN with Part 4.
The story starts off interestingly... but there are constant attempts to emulate the original. The early scenes in Iraq in the first film have whole sections lifted and poorly reproduced in Part 4. Interesting gimmicks from the first movie (such as the clock stopping) are shamelessly thrown at us again. I thought the movie was just okay though, despite it's tired recycled feel, until we got down the the ridiculous last 20 minutes! O' my GOD!
The demon make-up makes the new movie look, NOT like a genuine film in the EXORCIST series, but more like some overseas knock-off! And what was going on was just ludicrous! People were LAUGHING in the theater I saw it in. It had almost become self parody! How could anyone take it seriously?
I know the original was called THE EXORCIST, and this film is trying to go further into the character of said Exorcist...but I really think the producers have totally MISSED THE BOAT on this franchise! The audience of the first film wants to see more of the same thing they saw in the first film. The want Linda Blair's character back. What's going on with her? Maybe she's got a daughter of her own? What has her life been like? She was the focus of the original story (well, so was Father Karras, the priest who'd lost his faith...but, we revisited him in Part 3). I think audiences would have preferred catching up with her and facing new horrors in her life. And I think anyone out there who has SEEN Part 4 would agree that a story with Regan MacNeil would have been preferable over the maggot-covered stillborn mess EXORCIST-THE BEGINNING turned out to be!
The original is the undisputed classic. Parts 2 and 3 were not great, but no where near as Part 4. Even the whored-up sucker-punch VERSION YOU'VE NEVER SEEN re-release had things to recommend about it. But, EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING has surely killed the series for good and has spelled the END of the franchise! It's enough to make your head spin!
Thank GOD there WON'T be a sequel! SNORE!!!!
****POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT**** I've just finished watching this on DVD. I got it as part of an auction lot some time ago...I just never got around to watching it. I wish i hadn't bothered. It seems that some guy (Denis Leary) walks up in some psychiatric institution. He is convinced he was cryogenically frozen and is about to be killed with a FINAL lethal injection. His doctor (Hope Davis) tries to help him with his unstable mind, trying to convince him it is still 1999 and he's just been in a coma. How he initially ended up in the coma is hinted at, but never really explained. What we ultimately find out (after a solid HOUR of NOTHING but tedious doctor/patient chit-chat) is that (GASP) he was frozen and they are going to kill him to take something out of his brain stem to save the world! HUH? Why BOTHER "waking him up" and then go to all of the trouble to make him believe it's 1999---just so they can turn around and kill him? Since he is/was clinically dead to begin with, couldn't they just thaw him out and harvest what they needed withOUT waking him and going through the whole elaborate theatricals of it being 30 years earlier? Someone else on here compared it to a long episode of "THE TWILIGHT ZONE"...I agree, I suppose... It is VERY LONG (zzzzz), and would be much better formatted to a half-hour in length. But the difference between this and "THE TWILIGHT ZONE" is that "THE TWILIGHT ZONE" is/was GOOD! This was NOT that involving or interesting, sorry to say... Someone needs to cryogenically FREEZE this movie and make sure it is NEVER revived! BLAH!