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Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Great Fun for Ghost in the Shell Fans
I almost didn't go see this. I saw the mediocre reviews, and I thought I'll just wait. Instead, I decided to go see it just to see what it was like.
While many have criticized the lack of a complex plot, I thought it was the best that could be done without completely losing the general audience.
I was very pleased to see all of the shots in live action that I had come to know in the films, especially the 1996 film. It was great to see that world come to life, with everything from thermoptic camouflage to the iconic slow fly-over of large aircraft.
I expected this to be as "The Last Airbender" as compared to the animated series, but instead, I saw a movie that I would compare more with the "The Matrix".
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Worst Spiderman Movie Ever
Okay - I had read the reviews and I knew that this was not going to be a great movie. So, I went into it with lowered expectations. However, I cannot describe how far below even my lowest expectations this movie was.
Don't get me wrong, Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Fields, and Jamie Foxx all give fine performances. It's not their fault that the writing, directing, and editing were so terrible.
The characters behave with very little understandable motive for their actions except that the story needed them to act that way. For example, a man who worships Spiderman night and day suddenly, with just a minor provocation, wants nothing more out of life than to live in a world without Spiderman.
The clichés in the movie were awful. They even had a character to torture and study Jamie Foxx that spoke with a German accent, wore a black glove, and was in love with the pain he was able to inflict upon his subject. I've never seen that before...
The Green Goblin character seemed to be an after-thought, and very little effort was made to explain how this little waif, all of 115-pounds, suddenly had awesome fighting skills and amazing weapons.
I don't understand how the Marvel franchise can boast really entertaining films like Captain America, Thor, and the Avengers, and then turn this particular superhero over to writers and a director that obviously had little time to spend on their craft. Orci and Kurtzman have produced very high quality work in the past, so there is no excuse for this poor effort.
This is clearly the worst Spiderman ever, including the cheesy cartoon series from the 1970's. The most regrettable part of this is that everyone knows better. Everyone in the studio knew this was a bad script, and yet they let it get out the door and onto the screen in that condition.
I would love to know the back-story of how this film was made, and how the politics of this film allowed it to be completed and presented as if it were a comparable piece of the Marvel Superhero empire. Clearly, it's not a worthy effort of the studio, and should be shunned by all lovers of Spiderman.
White House Down (2013)
Exciting, Tense Thriller That Outdoes Die Hard
I love it when the writers of a movie take some time to think things through and weave different threads through the script. When they tie up those loose threads neatly and intelligently, I get a big kick out of it.
I thought that this was very much like a "Die Hard" movie, only more intense and more exciting. I'm shocked at the negative reviews. Perhaps it's like my Grandmother reviewing "The Matrix". They just don't get it.
If you are a die-hard,"Die Hard" fan, you will enjoy this movie immensely. It does have a political message that I agree with, so that enhanced my enjoyment of the film.
I saw "Olympus Has Fallen", and it was so bad that it was laughable. It must have been hastily put together when they heard about this blockbuster. This was an intelligent action movie that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Roland Emmerich hit this one out of the park.
Exploding Sun (2013)
Based on the level of scientific understanding demonstrated, I would have expected this movie to be from the late 1940's. There was so much that was inconceivably bad in this movie that it is hard to know where to begin.
Others have pointed out this is not a science fiction movie. It's just fiction without the science. However, imagine a vaunted space trip that is so momentous, it even includes the President's wife on-board the ship.
Now, imagine that instead of NASA and Mission Control, you have a small meeting room in what could be a Ramada Inn with multiple laptop displays at the front of the room. On top of this, during the critical moments of the mission, the two guys in charge start pushing and shoving each other.
When one of the main characters is making a call by cell-phone (I know!)to the spacecraft, telling them crucial information, the female lead bursts in and tells the guy to hang up repeatedly. Then she demands that he "let her in". Well, the message doesn't get delivered in time, with dire consequences.
I could go on and on, but the scenes and acting are too pitiful to describe. I love bad movies, but this one disrespects its audience completely. I guess Julia Ormond owed someone a favor, or lost a bet.
They didn't try very hard to make a good movie, and what's more they didn't care. The essence of a good "bad movie" is that they are really doing the best they can, and their efforts fall entertainingly short. This is not one of those films.
Excellent Characters, Interesting Writing
This is going to be short because I've rated this a 10, with nothing but delight over how this show is progressing.
I just finished watching "Bill and Gary's Excellent Adventure". With Fringe off the air until the Fall, I really have to say that I have found a satisfying summer replacement.
The character's interactions are very creative and entertaining. Each character has flaws that make this so much more intriguing than a super-hero action team, perfect and powerful in their own right, whose main test is to overcome some all-powerful evil.
I hope this show gets renewed, The big shock is that the Sci-Fi Channel, (SyFY) is hosting this program. This is heads and tails above their other fare, but a welcome surprise.
I have to say that I think Gary is emerging as my favorite character in the series.
Black Swan (2010)
Transparent and Superficial
I was late in seeing this movie due to work and travel obligations, so I eagerly awaited my chance to rent the DVD and be able watch this award-winning film.
First of all, I'm a big Natalie Portman fan, so I don't fault her in any of my criticism.
However, the movie was so transparent that it was very disturbing that the writers and directors didn't try to lead you down the path where you had to keep guessing, like in Fight Club and Shutter Island.
Instead, I knew from the beginning that Nina had driven off of a cliff and the rest of the movie was watching the bits and pieces of life pass by before she inevitably crashed on the ground below. The ending was never in doubt.
It was so clever to have a womanizing director demanding quid pro quo for his favors in his starlets' ballet careers. I've never seen that before.
As a psychological drama, this fails on many fronts and seems to have been geared toward pretty unsophisticated viewers, that is if they felt that they were fooling anyone about what was happening in the whole movie. They may not have intended to fool anyone at all, which would make the movie even worse.
That said, Natalie did a great job as usual.
SGU Stargate Universe (2009)
Pretty Bad - Low production values, no money spent on quality
I've been very patient, but there has been no improvement in SGU at all from week to week. I can't even believe that it is the same people who did the previous Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis series.
Perhaps it shows that the writers are good at writing one kind of story, but not another. I get the feeling that the writers had felt like they had done all the mythology-based stories they could, and then saw Battlestar Galactica with all of it's angst, emoting, and over-acting, and said, "Hey, we can do a lot better than that!".
Well, it turns out that they can't do a soap-opera well. As soon as I start to think I like one of the characters, that character acts like a child, or worse. How slow on the uptake does the commander have to be to realize that Rush may have problems, but he is not evil. Or do they have in mind a kind of "Dr. Smith" character, like "Lost in Space"?
It's hard to know how or why they are taking the course they are with this show. It's lacking in adventure, intrigue, action, science (remember Sam's explanations of the latest physics stuff in SG-1?), special-effects, and humor.
Don't even get me started on the dimly lit sets that can only be being used that way to save money on sets and lighting. I think this show was sold as a way to spend only 5% of the SG-1, and SG-Atlantis budgets and still have a sci-fi show. There is no evidence that they are doing anything with high quality in mind - kind of like the Roger Corman approach to sci-fi films.
And can someone explain to me why the military people are the biggest babies on the show? They do not follow orders. Instead, they whine all the time, steal, or act crazy and homicidal.
With all of the back-biting, arguing, and slow scenes, I find I keep looking at the clock hoping that the show will be over soon. With shows like SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, I never even noticed the time going by, and was shocked when an hour had passed without my realizing it. Now, I've started watching SGU in doses. I watch 15 or 20 minutes or so, and after my frustration has worn off, I turn it on again.
Unless something changes dramatically, this show is not going to make it, nor should it.
Defying Gravity (2009)
Lost (In Space)
I was hoping to see some science fiction as part of this program, since it does involve space travelers. However, I was very disappointed with this first episode that aired on ABC in the U.S.
When on Mars, two astronauts are abandoned due to a "storm" on Mars. The air pressure is so low on Mars, that despite the appearance of whirlwinds and dust storms in movies, Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, says that one of these storms would have no force and would feel like a small breeze blowing barely pushing anything around.
From a personal point of view, I didn't like the fact that the main character lifted his ship off of Mars when his team members were so close. There is no reason to believe he could not have waited. However, he feels guilty about it later even though he is a hero back on Earth.
They explain their artificial gravity as being due to the electromagnetic pull of the ship on the nanofibers in their suits. However, their hair remains perfectly in place and does not fly up. Objects stay securely on desks, despite nothing holding them there.
When they discard the suits to "defy gravity", they do indeed float up into the air. Of course, docking procedures in weightlessness are almost impossible (unless strapped together) due to the law that states for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This crew is said to be going to explore Venus as one of their destinations. I might stay tuned just to see that stunt. The last Soviet probe melted in an hour due to temperatures of thousands of degrees, intense barometric pressure, and sulfuric acid rain.
They have rotating portions of the craft going around the main body of the ship, which normally are for the purpose of providing gravity, but as noted above, that is not how they explain their gravity on the ship.
Since James Cameron is on the show, I thought he might have known a few science facts to go along with the science "fiction" concepts. I thought he was pretty interested in this stuff and had contributed to SETI.
Oh, and they don't even check their crew members to see if they are healthy, have elevated blood alcohol levels, or are pregnant at the time of the launch. One crew member is going into space because it is the one place where he can't find vodka, so he will remain sober.
Not exactly the "best and the brightest", and the show itself is not the "right stuff". There are weird forces at work and people with hidden motives that we don't understand. Think of it as "Lost", but instead of being lost on an island, they are on a space ship.
As a hard-core fan of science-fiction, especially space sagas, it seems to me that the writers have forgotten that science fiction should contain science that makes sense, at least within the context that the characters find themselves. That is why much of yesterday's science fiction is now science fact.
"Defying Gravity" may prove entertaining, but it is not "science fiction", just "fiction". Be prepared to suspend a lot of disbelief.
Good action film, not as much fun as the first.
First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Some of the things that bothered me have to do with comic relief, and I just simply let those go, like the "humping" of Megan Fox's leg by the little robot.
More to substance, I thought that Megan Fox's character had been given a lobotomy since the last film. She had previously pretended to not be smart. She didn't want people to know that she knew a lot about automobiles, because, as she explained, guys don't like a girl smarter than them.
When the final battle occurred in the first film, Megan Fox's character lashed up Bumblebee and drove while he fired at the Decepticons. It was her idea. She was brave and smart. That was appealing.
Her cooing and dreamy eyes when looking at Sam, in "Revenge of the Fallen", would have almost tolerable, if she had not gone for the fake Marilyn Monroe voice, stereotypical of dumb blonds.
It seemed like no matter what was going on, all Megan Fox could do was look at him, with her lips parted, inviting him to kiss her. Even in the midst of battle, all she wanted was Sam to say, "I love you", first.
I like tough women in films. It's because I believe that they are just as capable as men. So give me Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens" over "Revenge of the Fallen's" Megan Fox any day. Lena Headey in the Sarah Connor Chronicles, was just one of many smart, tough women in the series.
So, all we got from Megan Fox was "eye candy", and not a substantive performance. Maybe that's all that mattered to Michael Bay.
I also was offended by the Jar-Jar negative stereotype "guys from da hood" represented by the Twins. I got over it eventually and laughed at many of their lines. I just wish it had not been so disrespectful and racially biased.
Those are my two problems with the movie. By the end, I was cheering like all the other people in the theater at Optimus Prime's triumph, and would go see it again.
Good Science Show
I saw this show on the Discovery Science channel. For those familiar with the extremely low-budget graphics, animation, and photography of the Science Channel, this was quite an exceptionally well-done show.
They have real actors, high-quality graphics, and a very interesting story-line. I thought it was very entertaining and suspenseful.
Tom Sizemore played the government bureaucrat very believably. For those of you familiar with Stargate SG-1, "Martouf" is one of the main characters, "Lance".
The tension between the scientists was very compelling as each had their own research and points of view, but their own opinions required constant re-evaluation as the situation changed hourly.
Well done science program.