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Conversely, I despise Alien 3, primarily because it completely ignores the canon established by Cameron in its prequel (Aliens) (not to mention that it was just a cash-gathering device for the studios), and I despise Alien Ressurection because, among other reasons, it perpetuates the myth that clones are photocopies, memories and all. Come on, people! Clones are simply identical twins, separated by time. Memories are developed and stored in living brains, not in genes.
Feel free to send me non-spam email missives; I prefer not to receive threats of death or bodily harm, but humorous and creative flames are okay. ;-)
A feel-good but ultimately mediocre fantasy film (minor spoilers)
As other reviewers have noted, Dragonheart does provide some noble and uplifting themes. It *is* nice to see a medieval fantasy movie, especially one released the year after Braveheart, where not all is dark and sinister, blood and pain. There is humor here, and a positive message.
Unfortunately, Dragonheart suffers from several problems.
The special effects were pretty good; the dragon was seamlessly integrated into scenes, for example. However (and granted, maybe this is just a problem with my DVD or player), it seemed as though the animation stuttered, like stop-animation. That was distracting -- a disappointing sight in a film that came out four or five years after Terminator 2, which introduced fluid, realistic computer-rendered animation. The dragon reminded me of something from Harryhausen - it would have looked great twenty years earlier, but not in 1996. And aside from the dragon, not much else in the movie's effects seemed all that special, including the overdone ending.
The writing and the acting, too, leave much to be desired. Right from the start, the situations and the characters' reactions to them are often just not believable. The dialog in particular often seems forced - especially that of the dragon. It didn't seem to make a difference whether the dialog was intended to be serious or humorous; it often came across as contrived or wooden. Connery has done better work.
The combat scenes are somewhere above average, though some of the swordplay (presented as serious combat) echoes the fakery of the spear-catching scenes, creating unintended humor and drawing the viewer out of the illusion of the movie.
The humor is generally satisfying (with some exceptions), and many moments *are* genuinely touching here, though I found myself affected more by the *idea* that Draco was the last of the dragons and less by anything that the story presented or that the acting did to evoke pathos. The scenes meant to tug at the heartstrings were mostly either overdone or simply fell flat.
In all, Dragonheart is an entertaining enough movie - good enough for killing a Saturday afternoon, but substandard compared to other films of the genre. I felt my time was better spent watching the recent TV miniseries Legend of Earthsea, despite its shortcomings. The writing there was somewhat better, and the acting was more believable.
5/10: average, but could have been much better.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Stock plot with many laughs
Overall, I wasn't too impressed with the quality of this stock-plot film. In some places, you have to work hard to suspend your disbelief, because the characters' actions didn't always make sense based on their circumstances. (Wouldn't either of them have become even a little suspicious of the bizarre behavior of the other?) Also, I thought that Andie and the other female characters were written largely with stereotypes of women in mind.
In spite of these shortcomings, after accepting that it was more a "light" comedy than a well-written movie, I found myself frequently laughing out loud: the saving grace of the movie is the humor, which works well in most places.
The movie's not excellent, but its' not atrocious, either. There are worse ways to kill a couple hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Enter the Dragon (1973)
Classic martial arts movie: so bad, its' good!
Don't watch this movie expecting some slick, high-budget martial arts thriller. Instead, expect to be awe-struck at Bruce Lee's obviously amazing martial arts talent. This movie is everything good martial arts movies should be: poorly dubbed (English over English), humorous in places that shouldn't be, and a showcase for some excellent martial arts acting/action. (Looking convincing as a martial artist in a movie requires real talent in the martial arts; that's why so many successful martial arts movie stars started out as successful martial artists.)
Enter the Dragon is a very entertaining movie, despite its shortcomings (or, rather, in part because of them). Watch The Kentucky Fried Movie afterward for some real belly laughs; the well-made part of the Fried satire that was inspired by Dragon will make you appreciate this 70's classic even more.
Edit: Having just watched the Kentucky Fried Movie (KFM) again, I must warn you that the humor is quite outdated and juvenile. (There are several parodies of then-current advertisements and trends that many people today won't recognize.) Still, it's worth seeing KFM and fast-forwarding to the "Fistful of Yen" satire couched in the middle of it.
The Abyss (1989)
Great underwater drama plus light science fiction
James Cameron did an excellent job with this movie. (That's par for him, of course.) [Warning: minor spoilers...] I can never get past the whole drowning and recussitation scene without getting a knot in my chest and a tear in my eye, thanks largely to the great acting up to that point. I hated seeing Michael Biehn play a bad guy, especially after Aliens, but he did a great job here, too.
For some reason, the movie doesn't feel quite like a 10 in my book... but it's definitely a solid 9.
Event Horizon (1997)
What dimension was that, again?
It comes from a dimension of "pure evil?" Give me a break. I'm sorry, but up to that point, the movie was somewhat enjoyable.
Why do movie makers so often feel the need to interject fantasy and horror elements into an otherwise perfectly good science fiction movie? Perhaps it's because they're unable to write a quality story to the level of Aliens, Star Trek (most of them), and the first three Star Wars movies. Where have all the good writers gone?
There were many enjoyable effects and sequences in this movie, but the fantasy-horror element ruined it for me. If you can get past that, you'll probably enjoy the movie. But don't set your expectations too high.
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Excellent, except for the fake Vulcan
This is by far the best Star Trek movie. However, as I'm sure most will agree, Kirstie Alley was the wrong choice for Saavik. When I first saw Search for Spock, I didn't like Robin Curtis (I), their new choice for Saavik (I was young & resisted the change), but after watching both movies again recently, I've come to realize that Curtis did an excellent job and would have been a far superior choice for the part in Wrath of Khan.
Aside from the whiny and emotional human-in-Vulcan's-clothing, Wrath is excellent. Still very entertaining and watchable, even after 20 years! Got to love the space battles, especially the quiet, graceful way that smoke from the ships trails off into the nebula. And what a great villain! Khan was the best.
Get the Director's cut; it's much better.
I know it's a bit unorthodox, but I gave this a 7: somewhere in between my rating for the original release (the rushed version) and the new director's cut release. On the commentary track, the director explains what went wrong on the original release and what they've done for the director's cut to make the movie the way they'd originally wanted. They even added some things. The new version is much better in terms of pacing (which was the problem with the original release) and in many other areas. It's well worth watching; you'll forget the previous version and come away thinking, "dang; that was good!"
Bad, bad, bad--even from a teen's perspective
I saw this movie on cable late one night while staying at a friend's house, around that age when you're young enough to think "squiggle porn" is cool. (For those of you who don't know, that means trying to catch a glimpse of nudity on a scrambled cable channel.) Even at that easily-impressed-by-nudity age, this movie dragged. The story was terrible. The acting was agonizing, making even the nudity-laden scenes unwatchable. And I was a teenage boy. Now *that's* a bad movie.
Very entertaining, yet often misunderstood.
This movie inspires different reactions from people, depending on the expectations they bring to their first viewing. It's a semi-serious, semi-spoof Action/Comedy/Crime/Thriller/Martial Arts movie that doesn't fit neatly into any category. It is tremendously entertaining, as long as you aren't expecting something totally serious or totally comical. This movie is often misunderstood, and that, coupled with its somewhat-lower-than-average-budget look, may explain why there was no sequel to the movie, which was subtitled in the US "The Adventure Begins." It wasn't quite big-budget enough to satisfy people wanting to see a competitor for James Bond, and it wasn't quite like any other movie enough for people to "get it" right off. Taken at face value as an action movie, therefore, Remo Williams isn't all that noteworthy. However, viewed as an entertaining mixture of action and fun, the movie delivers quite well.
Fred Ward does a fine job as Remo, especially in his scenes with Chiun, his Shinanju master played fantastically by Joel Grey. Some have argued that Ward was too old for the role, which would be debatable even if this were a straight-out action movie; given its true nature, Ward was an excellent choice, and the dynamic between him and Grey makes for some of the most entertaining sequences in the movie.
Joel Grey's Asian "sensei" character stereotype can be forgiven in the context of the semi-spoof, tongue-in-cheek nature of the movie. Chiun's humor shines through his sarcastic commentary about America and Remo; the success of the humor relies on the Korean Shinanju master's strength and ability. Chiun is the most powerful, competent, intelligent, and witty character in the movie. There is also the pleasant story line of Chiun passing on to Remo the legacy of his Shinanju wisdom and knowledge... and wit.
People have also criticized Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager) for her performance of Major Rayner Fleming. Overall, her performance is very good, and appropriate for the character, especially before her character meets Remo at Mount Promise. I am still somewhat disappointed, however, to see Major Fleming change from a competent military career-woman into a bewildered character smitten by Remo and Chiun and carried along in their wake. In the role of the army major, Fleming is competent, witty, and believable: an appropriate portrayal of a mid-1980's woman military officer. The directors could have let the character carry that competence through to the end of the movie.
The movie does have some great action sequences, especially the chase around the scaffolding surrounding the Statue of Liberty (remember when they were remodeling it, back in the 80's?), and it is very funny in many places. (See the "memorable quotes" page.) If you watch the movie expecting to have fun and to be entertained, if you suspend your disbelief just a little and don't take it too seriously, you will really enjoy it. It has just enough action, just enough "buddy movie" dynamic, just enough tongue-in-cheek humor, just enough spoof, just enough comic-book type fantasy elements, and just enough enigmatic and amusing martial arts to make it terrifically entertaining. Watch it with your friends on a lazy Saturday afternoon, have some laughs, and be entertained. You'll be glad you did.
The Iron Giant (1999)
Well-crafted, funny, and touching, with great visual appeal
The Iron Giant presents a well-written and visually appealing story that works better than most Disney movies. Set in 1957, it explores half-seriously, half tongue-in-cheek the stereotypes and the reality of "G-men" and the US military mindset, the cold war, and life at the start of the space age.
The story is told from the point of view of the boy, Hogarth, who is a believable and sympathetic character. A couple of anthropomorphic elements can be seen in the robot, but it's not hard to suspend disbelief since these elements are subtle and not the primary driver of character development. The robot character is somewhat enigmatic/alien, which only serves to make the story more intriguing rather than confusing.
The other characters are enjoyable, even though they are somewhat flat (to varying degrees). The humor is not as sophisticated as, say, The Simpsons, but it's never annoying, overly juvenile, nor over-the-top as it can be in most Disney movies.
By the conclusion, I found myself unexpectedly moved, thanks to the well-crafted sympathy-inviting character development. Despite the use of some standard plot devices, The Iron Giant is certainly a movie I plan to share with my future children, and one that I will enjoy right along with them. Highly recommended. Overall score: 9.