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33 reviews in total 
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26 out of 67 people found the following review useful:
Boring and awkwardly-written version of interesting history., 19 April 2011

The story of the Borgias, especially if certain of the most salacious rumors about them are actually true (questionable assumption though), is one of the very most dramatic and interesting stories in European history. But, at least through four episodes, this show has made it all seem a little boring.

I have no doubt that as the story progresses, there is no way things won't become at least slightly more interesting, just because some much more controversial stuff is about to go down. But after watching the first four episodes, I have concluded that an error was made in choosing the writer or writers. Many of the lines are awkward and not believable. I find myself often asking, "Now, why would this character have said that?" and "How does this line advance the story?" and "What purpose did that line serve other than to waste time?"

It seems like the writing is uninspired. Much of it is what I would call "clunky." It's just kind of awkward, clumsy, tedious, and comes off like the work of people who are not experienced or adept at dramatic writing in the historical fiction genre. It's not unlike daytime soap opera quality writing.

I do not think there is much doubt that the man who became Pope Alexander VI was a morally-challenged but shrewd politician, bent on gaining and then retaining the kind of power that, at the time, only being pope could provide. Yet Jeremy Irons seems more often than not to portray him as a little on the hapless side. I wish he were portrayed more like a smart, wicked, power-hungry man, although perhaps with an arguably good overall purpose driving him, shrewdly manipulating things under the cover of the cloak provided by the office of the pope. When I think of Pope Alexander VI, I think of someone more like, I don't know, maybe somewhat like the godfather in The Godfather, except perhaps even more devious because he has obtained the office of pope and the protection that office provides. In many ways, Jeremy Irons' portrayal is the opposite of this.

And Jeremy Irons' continual saliva-sucking sounds--the sort you sometimes hear from folks that are getting used to their dentures--are really annoying.

I don't think he is a bad actor. I think he has been much better in other things, but mostly I fault the writer(s). I also think a lesser known actor should have been cast in this role. There is no point at which I believe I am watching Pope Alexander VI--I am always very aware that I am watching Jeremy Irons attempting to get through this bad script.

Most of the other actors are hampered by the awkward and amateurish writing as well. Although I have nevertheless enjoyed the performances of Joanne Shalley as Vannozza, the mother of Giovanni, Cesare, and Lucrezia; and Colm Feore as Cardinal Rovere.

It makes me a little sad that this is the series that got made, because there was a lot of potential for a really good drama to be made out of the story of the Borgias. Essentially, this is, for the most part, boring, awkward, and bad, at least through the first four episodes. Yet there is some potential for this to get better--I think that if the writing team gets some help in the future this could easily improve.

The inevitable comparisons to The Tudors are made by people, because that show too was on Showtime, but for that series, I considered the writing, for the most part, masterful, and the part of King Henry VIII played and cast superbly. I wish that were the case here. So far, it definitely is not.

The Town (2010)
35 out of 68 people found the following review useful:
Nothing special, but not terrible, 19 September 2010

I thought this movie was an acceptable way to pass some time, but overall was nothing terribly special. The few action scenes were pretty interesting and creative though--it was the parts in between that I didn't really enjoy much. If the entire movie was as good as the action sequences, it definitely would've received a 6 or 7 from me.

I don't think Ben Affleck is an especially good actor, and I thought he wasn't especially good in this. I didn't believe in his character much-- he didn't really seem like a bad guy to me. I didn't think there was much chemistry between him and his character's love interest. I didn't think Jon Hamm was all that good either--he didn't really seem like an FBI guy to me. I thought Jeremy Renner stole the show. Chris Cooper was excellent, as usual, but had only a small role. I thought Rebecca Hall was pretty good.

Certain portions of the plot were a little silly, but I don't want to spoil anything. Overall, I guess if you're really big on crime movies, you should probably see this just for the crime parts, because they are pretty cool. As a whole, however, this isn't particularly good or particularly bad.

24 out of 89 people found the following review useful:
Clichéd story for kids, 19 September 2010

I recently attended a free screening of this film.

This story was really clichéd and very derivative of about a million others. There also wasn't enough to the story--it was pretty bland. It was hard to tell which owl was on which side during the fighting scenes. It was also hard to tell exactly what was being done to whom during the fighting scenes.

It came off kind of like a movie designed for children, honestly. But it's probably a little too violent or otherwise disturbing for very small children.

Except as noted above, the animation was pretty cool and interesting, but I enjoyed the visual aspect of 300 much more. It wasn't awful or boring, but it's not a film to which I can give more than a 4/10.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Good film about blind obedience that suffers from its own apparent blind belief in the Kitty Genovese myth, 18 September 2010

This is a pretty good film, about several experiments in the field of social psychology and several real-world stories that demonstrate the extent to which most humans will blindly obey authority figures, or, more generally, either fail to refrain from doing something bad or fail to help someone in trouble when they believe the responsibility is diffused amongst others. For the most part, it's pretty compelling stuff that really everyone should know about.

However, the extent to which the psychologists interviewed in this film appear to blindly believe so firmly in the Kitty Genovese story as reported in The New York Times is somewhat reminiscent of the blind obedience to authority phenomenon criticized in the film.

If you are interested in what really happened the night Kitty Genovese died, as opposed to the myth, take 9 minutes and listen: (several people did call the police that night, probably only one or two of the alleged spectators actually had any idea what was happening other than that some woman was screaming, the number 38 appears to have basically been just made up by a journalist, etc.)

The makers of this film would've done better to leave this particular story out of their otherwise very good film.

Zizek! (2005)
4 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
A mishmash of sound bites from a philosophy professor, 15 December 2007

I had never heard of Slavoj Zizek before I saw this film. He is a Slovenian philosophy professor. He has written many books and obviously he wouldn't keep getting published unless people were buying them. He seems to be a Marxist of some sort, and has a photograph of the only dictator arguably worse than Hitler on the wall of his apartment, Joseph Stalin. He seems more concerned with nonpolitical philosophy though, generally speaking.

This film did nothing to make me interested in reading his books or in him. It is a random mishmash of clips of Zizek talking in various places in small soundbites about a wide variety of matters. Insofar as philosophy is concerned, and I consider myself a philosopher, there was nothing of any philosophical interest to me in this film. Much of what he says in this film seemed to me to be either trivial (obviously true) or incoherent.

Perhaps one might enjoy this film if one were at all familiar with his work, but I doubt it--why not just read more of his work rather than waste time watching this hodgepodge of soundbites? But if you aren't familiar with any of his work, like I was, there doesn't seem to be any reason to watch this.

Dogma (1999)
10 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Wow this was terrible, 21 November 2007

Linda Fiorentino, the star of this film, put on one of the very worst performances I have ever witnessed in any large budget American film I have seen.

I also think Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, and Jason Lee were all pretty awful. Even Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith were no good in this one.

The script is just terrible. I'm a big Kevin Smith fan, but almost every line in this one is cringe-worthy, and especially those said by Linda Fiorentino.

The whole story is just a jumbled mess--it seemed very much made up on the fly as they went along.

And wow is it long. And boring. And not even a little funny.

This film seems to be trying to be a critique of organized religion on some level, and so, I want to make it clear that I am not saying negative things out of some loyalty to some religion. I'm not a religious nut--just the opposite. I'm completely nonreligious. Religion is the single strangest thing about humanity, to me.

I have no understanding of any positive thing that's been said about this film. It is one of the very few films I have given a 1 rating to. I can't believe one of my favorite directors made something this awful.

3 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Terrible fantasy film, 28 September 2007

This is without a doubt the worst fantasy film I have ever seen.

There are at least five completely illogical things going on in this film, none of which I can discuss here without spoiling the film. These are not disbelief-suspension issues (i.e. I'm not talking about the fact that there are no such things as dragons, or magic)--all of these are stupidity issues. The plot makes no sense as a result, and the film is a miserable failure.

The lead actor, Peter MacNicol, appears to be a total cheeseball. Even if the movie made sense, it would be unwatchable because of him.

The special effects are nothing special. I am familiar with special effects of 1981, and they were nothing special by that year's standards either. By 2007 standards they are laughable.

The good reviews here are baffling. This is obviously a failure. Here is an example of a truly bad film. One of the few films to which I have given a 1 out of 10, but this one truly deserves it.

Do not waste your time or money with this. Any other fantasy film you can think of is probably much better than this one.

5 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Boring, dumb, and bad, 8 September 2007

This film is a good example of really bad cinema.

William Peterson is the star of the film, but he is a really bad actor, and his performance here was particularly poor. One of his co-stars, John Pankow, who plays his partner in the film, is also not very good. Neither of them are in any way interesting. Both are completely wooden throughout. So, the casting alone would've prevented this film from getting any better than a rating of 4 or so.

The plot was very convoluted and boring and dumb. The car chase scene was long and boring. None of the fight scenes were real-looking. Every time a punch is thrown in this film, it looks completely fake. Every time someone is shot, it looks completely fake--like fake blood is being splattered. It's almost like a bad film school project.

The whole film is long and boring and makes no sense. It's as if the movie's makers wanted to make a movie with a long car chase, some fighting, some guns, and some nudity, and didn't really care about how stupid and senseless the story was or which second-rate actors played the lead roles.

I don't give it a 1 because Willem Dafoe is pretty good, as usual, but there wouldn't have been anything anyone could do to save this stinker with a cast and a screenplay and directing like this. Terrible. There are hundreds of much more interesting action films to see before resorting to sitting through something like this. This is pretty much on the level of a really bad TV show.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Symbols and metaphors abound, but in the end, this stinks, 30 August 2007

For some reason, just about every film with good big-budget production values that contains symbolism and metaphors seems to get a lot of good reviews here at IMDb, and I am starting to suspect that at least some of these reviews have been authored by folks that feel that symbolism and metaphor mixed with good big-budget production values automatically make a movie good. I suspect that it somehow makes people feel good about themselves when they understand a metaphor--makes them feel smarter perhaps--and so they give good reviews to the movie that is responsible for those feelings.

The film is mostly pretty to look at, which is why I didn't give it a 1. But that's all I can say for it.

It's pretty boring. And it's nearly 2.5 hours long. I don't know about you, but the only films I want to spend 2.5 hours seeing are ones that are very interesting and not boring.

It's got a couple of those clichéd plot-thickening devices Hollywood continually uses in its big dramas and action films that automatically, at least in my book, disqualify films from being good ones. These parts of the film ought to have most cinephiles groaning.

The star of the film Ben Whishaw does not give a particularly good performance, although, to be fair, with a boring character such as this who does not talk much, it's got to be tough.

The story is dominated by metaphor and, in the end, makes no sense whatsoever on a literal level. It's fine to use symbolism and metaphors in your films, but, in my view, most good films that involve symbolism also make sense on a literal level and can be enjoyed without thinking at all about any of their symbolic aspects. But if one were to view this film without an understanding of the concept of symbolism, it would be completely ridiculous.

Now, the above is not true for novels. The book seems to garner near-universal praise, and I don't doubt it is worthy of that. But, what happens often with stories like these is that all the symbolism that works well in the book is just silly when translated to the screen, and that's exactly what must have happened here.

In the end, the film version of that allegorical novel is just silly, and, unless you are the sort that thinks that any movie with good production values and some metaphors is a good one, you will probably not really enjoy this one. I am absolutely shocked that there are so many good reviews of this film here at IMDb.

I think it's insane to give a film a good review but to suggest that one need read the book version first, as some have done with regard to this film--if it isn't good unless you have read the book first, in my view, that just means it's not a good film.

There are good metaphorical movies and bad metaphorical movies, and this is a bad one.

7 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
One of the worst movies I've ever seen--seriously, 23 August 2007

The Darwin Awards are sarcastically given out in a publication of the same title to people who die in very stupid ways. One might think that this film would be primarily a graphical depiction of some of the actual deaths that show up in the publication, and since the publication can be quite entertaining, how could this film fail to be similarly entertaining?

But no.

First of all, if you go to you will find most of the deaths featured in the film listed in the Urban Legends section--i.e. they did not actually happen. Yet the ONLY reason the publication is entertaining is that the deaths described are actually factual. So, the movie's title is totally misleading.

Second of all, the plot consists of an incredibly stupid, boring, and disjointed story about a guy (Joseph Fiennes) who happens to be interested in stupid deaths. Somehow Winona Ryder gets involved. They look into a couple stupid incidents. And there's no reason to care about the plot or any of the characters.

Third of all, the leads, Joseph Fiennes and Winona Ryder, are absolutely horrible and unbelievable. Winona Ryder, let's face it, isn't exactly one of our greatest actresses, but this is a really terrible performance even by her standards. Joseph Fiennes is even worse. And they are supposed to fall in love but there is never any chemistry at all between them.

Fourth of all, and probably most importantly, this is primarily intended to be a comedy, but none of the jokes are funny. They all fall flat. Many of the jokes are used about 4 or 5 times throughout the film, and they continue to fail to be funny. There is no point in this alleged comedy that could fairly be described as funny, or even slightly amusing. Joseph Fiennes seems particularly bad at trying to be funny. But the primary problem is the script.

This is definitely one of the worst films I have ever seen, and I am not one of those folks that goes around saying "this is the worst film ever" so don't confuse me with one of those folks. I am here to do a public service, to warn you that, almost no matter who you are, unless you are a small child, perhaps, and/or of substandard intelligence, and preferably both, you will not like this film, and you will wish you had used the time doing just about anything else.


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