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Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)
Even in its own right, this picture is unrealistic, jaded, and all-around silly. It wouldn't merit more than four stars. However, it is in comparison to its 1973 namesake that this scam of a movie truly gets to showcase just how abysmal it is.
The original was dynamic, replete with action, and almost believable. It let the acting and plot (in that order) do the work. Even today, it would earn 6-7 stars easily. This abomination though can muster neither. The acting sucks because the plot sucks, hence the need for two hot chicks and fancy explosions. I mean, when in the first five minutes we're treated to a buxom woman with a short tight skirt, fishnet stockings, and high-heeled boots, then it ain't hard to see where we're headed. And the sexual tension between the pretty shrink and the "sarge" (who looks like somebody who would've washed out of rookie training, never mind gotten several promotions) just affirms the producers' desperation.
Lastly, this picture is a time and a half as long as its predecessor. Regrettably, the added 50% is mostly used for trite, utterly forgettable dialog rather than interesting plot twists or some development of the cookie-cutter, one-dimensional characters.
Bonus negative points: the ultra-P.C. script (well, for the most part). True, the main protagonist is now a Caucasian unlike in the original iteration. However, the perps are all either small-time crooks or, but of course, totally innocent of any wrongdoing. No rapists or brutal murderers here! It's Rolex counterfeiters and a victimized African-American woman who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight. And the assailants are not some expendable, no-good hoodlums found only if the bottom of the barrel of society is scratched real hard; nope, they're police officers. Dozens of them. All corrupt and murderous... - and white. Boy, oh boy...
The Princess & the Marine (2001)
As someone who is going through a similar situation, I am extremely disappointed with some of the comments here whose purpose is nothing but to spread absurd politically-correct propaganda.
Yes, the movie is replete with inaccuracies: from the police uniforms, to geography, to topography, to scenery, to everyday practices in Bahrain (e.g. salespeople in theaters are extremely unlikely to be Bahrainis or Moslems; they are usually Filipinos and Indians who take no interest in a couple romancing each other).
However, the underlying premise of the picture is spot-on. There is a reason this case engendered as much publicity as it did, and no, the woman being a princess was not the only one. A Bahraini (or, in my case, Kuwaiti) woman is practically never involved with or married to a Westerner, and certainly never a non-Moslem, because everyone knows very well that doing so and getting caught is guaranteed to entail severe mental and physical punishment, including death. Therefore, the portrayal of Maryam's family and culture is not at all "bigoted." If anything, it was incredibly mild compared to what actually goes on in the homes of the Arabian/Persian Gulf states. The relentless, institutionalized brainwashing and control to which Bahraini, Kuwaiti, Saudi, Qatari, Emirati, and Omani women are subjected to boggles the mind, and no amount of imagination on the part of someone who never experienced it can possibly depict it. The couple's relationship ultimately did not work out. That though is most likely the result of the couple's lack of maturity and preparedness for married life; it is certainly not a vindication of the oppressive "culture" Maryam was born into.
THis movie is not a documentary nor was it envisioned to be such. It is, however, inspirational and educational. I hope my own story has a happy ending despite all the tribulations still coming our way.
End of Watch (2012)
A stunning picture, superlative in every way...
It is very rarely that I give movies scores of eight or more, so for this to be a 10/10 one can be sure it exceeded all expectations.
For one, it is an emotional roller-coaster ride, from start to finish. I am usually difficult to engage with movies or their stories or characters, but this one evoked in me feelings ranging from fury, amusement, grief, solemnity, pride... - you name it. For that alone, the picture deserves great credit.
It also quite quickly got me to care about--indeed, care FOR--the characters. They became real people with real lives, real concerns, and real personalities.
The picture itself has a supremely riveting storyline, well dramatized and executed.
In short, after standing (long story!) through this movie for almost two hours, I would more than happily have continued doing so for at least another two if not more.
And lastly, a shoutout to all the boys and girls in blue: From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your service and your sacrifices...
The Ides of March (2011)
Outstanding! A gross indictment of our times...
The picture blows the lid on the filthy, gutter world of politics. It shows--warts and all--just how spineless, amoral, and opportunistic EVERYONE in that line of work is.
The story itself is quite engaging for anyone with even a passing interest in U.S. politics. It is dramatized well, and the characters are also portrayed adequately. There is not much character depth (hence not a perfect 10 score), but any such development would arguably have been unnecessary anyway to convey the message.
And therein lies the real forte of this picture: the message. Politicians and their apparatchiks are no longer in it out of any great conviction, let alone a genuine desire to Make a Difference(TM). All they are after in power and position. That end invariably justifies the means. There is no limit to the skulduggery, legerdemain, backstabbing and betrayal, lying, conniving, deceiving, coaxing, cajoling, misrepresenting, etc. they will engage in so long as they attain that goal: the office they are running for.
That explains why the modern Western world of politics is so frustrating. Did you ever feel that it is irrelevant who you vote for; that "they're all the same"? Well, they are. They will say and do anything to get the vote; once in, they are reluctant to do much of note. And why would they, when they care not about the voters and their needs, but about Number One and ONLY Number One!?! Politicians of old got paid very little, but boy, they had principles. And their impetus was improving the country and the lives of the people living in it. How times have changed.
O, tempore! O, mores! That subtext--running throughout the movie--is far and away its greatest strength. May it open the eyes of its viewers...
Gene Roddenberry is done
I write this from the perspective of having seen the first three and a half seasons (i.e. being in the middle of the fourth one). Things might pick up in the remaining season and a half, although judging by the reviews posted here and elsewhere, that seems very unlikely.
On the plus side, the show has some interesting overall ideas and some of the story arcs are quite good. A solid portion of the action is engaging. And hey, good-looking, voluptuous women stylin' and profilin' in skintight leather and P.V.C. body-suits gotta count for somethin', right! Seriously though, there are quite a few episodes that are capable of having the viewer riveted from start to finish.
Such shows, however, are in a minority. Most of them are in some way annoying, boring, or both. For boring, try Rev. Bem and his endless, silly disquisitions about some cockamamie religious doctrine. I can't stand the makebelieve stuff the humankind actually came up with; I sure don't have time for some makebelieve makebelieve.
As far as annoying, one is even more spoiled for choice. There could be the "fights," which fall into two categories: (1) hand-to-hand, and (2) shootouts. For the former, after the protagonists literally bounce off bulkheads for a while and make 720-degree high-kick turns, the indomitable Captain Hunt emerges victorious. For the latter, after a minute or two of suppressing weapons fire from multiple directions and being vastly outnumbered, Captain Hunt, yes, emerges victorious. Add to that that, in a universe with fantastic technology, small-arms fire is less accurate than someone trying to hit an apple a half a mile away with a bow and arrow... - unless it's Captain Hunt doin' the shootin', in which case he eventually manages to hit his target.
Continuing with the annoying theme, another candidate is Hunt frenching every semi-decent-looking broad in sight. I thought Kirk of the original Star Trek was bad, humping as he did just about every female and female-like species all over the universe. But even he had the decency to do it only, like, 4-5 times a season. Hunt, by contrast, slips someone the tongue every other episode. Oh, and he does it at the most inopportune moments, such as while being shot at, with a self-destruct sequence rapidly nearing zero, etc. The truly pathetic schmaltzy muzak (which was actually designed to come across as "romantic" BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!) only serves to aggravate the annoying factor. Note, however, that he only makes out with the REALLY attractive femininas. Those below 9 or 10 out of 10 have to go without swapping fluids with the masterful captain.
Honorable mention #1: The preposterous music introduced in Season 3 during action sequences. Far from conveying a sense of urgency, desperation, and hope, it's something you'd hear while watching National Lampoon's Vacation (1983). Yes, it really is...THAT BAD!
Honorable mention #2: The very idea that the survival of three galaxies of the universe could ever depend on one man and his spaceship - both three centuries out of date - is ridiculous to the point of being insulting to one's intelligence. I mean, it's tantamount to a schooner from the days of the British Empire suddenly appearing on the high seas and tearassing through the oceans, laying the smackdown on the U.S. Navy, the Chinese, or even the Somali pirates.
All I can say about Andromeda is: LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!
Stargate SG-1: Singularity (1997)
Firstly, witnessing thousands of people perished (including, one presumes, quite a few children among them), "Captain" Carter barely bats an eye. Yet, she gets all weepy and irrational about this one kid. To hell with playing a part in the battle against the most potent enemy the humanity ever faced; la doctora is instead going to basically kill herself so that this precious little girl does not spend the last three minutes of her life alone. I thought the military had some kind of psych-evaluation at the recruitment stage so as to weed out total lunatics from joining its ranks.
But that's not even the most absurd part. Nay; here it is: The precious little girl doesn't die! That's right: After boring us for 40 minutes with what are meant to be emotive, poignant scenes about the sweet little girl's anguish, it all ends with her playing with a dog in a grassy field. She was missing just a butterfly net to complete the cliché. *barf* You have got to be SH!@@ING me
Yet another deus ex machina script where some 11th-hour nonsense changes the preceding 90% of the doom-and-gloom story into a "they all lived happily ever after" tripe. I have to say SG-1 really blindsided me here; I did - reasonably yet obviously foolishly - expect the kid to go KABOOM! Really anticlimactic.
I really enjoyed SG-1 until this episode. As someone else correctly noted: How can I take this series seriously ever again after this crap?! I so hope this was an aberration; otherwise I may as well can the remaining nine seasons.
Oh, and boring to boot.
Lackadaisical, clichéd, annoying
Let us suspend disbelief as well as ignore some of the most elementary posits of physics and mechanics.
Let us even ignore the fact that in a disaster that irrevocably claimed hundreds of lives, what happens to a ragtag group of a half-dozen "survivors" is really not important or interesting, particularly if it involves the best part of the 100 minutes of the movie them crawling through ducts, pushing levers, and pulling hatches.
Though the picture bumped off a couple from the group along the way, I soon began wishing the others, too, would meet their maker in a hurry.
The kid and his momma, in particular, I found to be supremely annoying. The first time they got themselves in a spot of bother, watching others' rescue them was mildly entertaining. By the fifth time - with all the attendant screaming and wailing - I wished I was physically there to hold both their heads under water for a few minutes. Besides, I knew they would survive; no way would the producers have allowed the kid to die.
If they had? Now THAT would have made for a refreshing movie!
Remember Sunday (2013)
Unrealistic. Just unrealistic. Irritatingly unrealistic.
The underlying premise of the movie is engaging and intriguing. Even though I am not an aficionado of the romance genre, the supposed comedic angle would have made this a watchable and enjoyable picture were it not for a few problems.
1) The quickfire, shoot-from-the-hip, smartassy dialog is absurd. For most of the movie I had a feeling I was watching an outtake from the Gilmore Girls (the couple of episodes of which that I watched I found supremely annoying). (Actually, as I was writing this review, I checked the casts of the two, and it turns out that Molly had indeed "starred" in G.G.!) Producers/scriptwriters, here's a clue for you: NOBODY TALKS LIKE THAT IN REAL LIFE!!!
2) Characters routinely goof up but everything works out great. Missed an alarm or your crummy auto won't start? No problem. Just run through the beautiful morning city, pick (read: steal) a bunch of flowers from a public park, hop on a picturesque tram, and arrive at your destination smelling of apple pie. Meanwhile, most people in the real world would have to contend with inconsiderate drivers, get fined for vandalizing public property, wait a quarter hour for a tram, and at the end they'd be out of breath and reek of sweat for the rest of the day.
Or take Molly's college paper. The first time around she gets a C. She then has a "profound" (*rolls eyes*) roller-coaster experience with Gus, which causes an existential paradigm shift in her, and she scores an A+ on the redo. If ONLY college studies worked like that! Forget spending hours doing laborious and tedious research; just fix to get your heart broken then made whole again, and you're golden!
3) I can't believe the reviews here extolling the acting. The characters are one-dimensional and predictable. They oscillate between Prozac-like ecstasy/effervescence and defeat/disappointment/despondency.
4) Gus was supposed to be another Einstein? Yeah. Right. Because a guy in his, what, late 20s could have become more of an accomplished Einstein than Einstein himself was. And because a fallen Einstein is seemingly abandoned by all his former N.A.S.A. and other colleagues, friends, and acquaintances, bar literally his sister and one best friend. And because a fallen Einstein needs a messed-up college dropout to apprise him of the existence of revolutionary medical treatments to cure his condition.
(5) The cheap, trite muzak does nothing to elevate this picture. They really could have put some more effort into the musical score.
In fairness, the movie does not insult us with a happily-ever-after ending and does make it clear that if Gus and Molly's relationship - such as it is - is to survive, a lot of sacrifice would be needed. That is a commendable message. I just wish it could have been made without an hour and a half-long rigmarole plagued by the problems listed above.
The movie is watchable... - and no more than that
Forget suspending disbelief. You're suspending your higher brain functions with this one.
A ne'er-do-well down-and-out mook turns out to be the only one on the planet with sufficient gumption, intellect, and astuteness to save said planet from an invasion by a vastly superior alien species. No, wait, I tell a lie: His multifaceted, multitalented heroine lends an able helping hand.
Forget the absurdity of a dumb kid who got tasered by cops for stealing a burrito becoming a senior Navy officer a couple of years thereafter; the REAL shocker is that aliens as dumb as the specimens in this movie ever made it past their stone age. They exhibit such idiocy that it's doubtful they would have been able to even domesticate animals on their home-world, never mind evolve technologically.
On the plus side, the movie is fast-paced, chock-full of action, and fun. It's literally mindless entertainment, and so long as you accept it as such, it's a couple of hours not entirely irretrievably lost.
Lone Survivor (2013)
Some have cast doubts on the verisimilitude of parts of this picture. Of course, those who impugn whether some events really happened or whether they happened the way they are depicted in the movie neither underwent the kind of training Navy S.E.A.Ls do nor did they ever find themselves in circumstances remotely approaching those of the four comrades. We do not know what punishment the human body is truly capable of withstanding until we are put to an extreme test, gods forbid.
All I can say is that, regardless of whether this movie is accurate 100%, 0% or anything in between, it brought me to tears. I can honestly not remember the last time a Hollywood movie did that.
Very moving, very poignant, very touching. For that alone, as well as for keeping me riveted for the whole of two hours (which is quite a feat given my cynical and jaded nature), it deserves unalloyed plaudits.