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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Creationism vs. Evolution, 18 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The movie is visually engaging and often funny, and it's for these reasons that our 9, 10 and 11-year-old seemed to enjoy it. But the 14-year-old laughed "at it," not "with it." Here's why, I think.

While in no overtly way religious, this is a Noah's Ark story, so by definition it's a biblical story. What's amazing about All Creature Big and Small is the implausibility of it all. The basic setup is that Noah subcontracts who's "on" and "off" the Ark. The Lion - a spitting image of The Lion King, who - first decrees that omnivores can't eat herbivores. Then he gets the final say over what animals can and can't board the Ark. (As for Noah himself: like all humans, he's conspicuously absent throughout movie.) After the flood eventually comes, some on the "out list" stowaway aboard the Ark. So far, standard kids fare.

One creature excluded from boarding the Ark, Finny, is a constantly-worried pessimist while his daughter, Hazel, is a silver-lining optimist. All this proceeds entertainingly enough. But when push comes to shove toward the end of the movie and their lives are imminently threatened, things fall apart. The pessimist learns the value of trust and kinship, while the optimist comes to appreciate the value of force and decisiveness. But rather than leaving things there, the movie makers decide to moralize the story, metamorphosing the now-extinct species into one fit for the post-flood world. The problem, of course, is that evolution - at least as it's currently understood - does not affect a single generation but rather occurs over thousands, if not millions, of years.

On the surface, this deus ex machina is a simple contrivance to create a happy ending for all (excepting the villains of the story). But more deeply it seems to suggest not only that Creationism and Evolution each have their merits, but also that they are not mutually exclusive of one another. How? By force-fitting a "happy ending," allowing *all* creatures great and small (except the most minor and villainous) to survive.

The means by which they survive is wrapped up in their silly (and inexplicably previously-unrecognized) abilities: breathing under water, farting or squirting a noxious fluid, or an oversized slug turning into a whale. These creatures evolve within a single generation, a resolution that is neither satisfying nor plausible. No one we care about dies. Instead,

I suspect that it was not the producer's intention, but by fictionalizing the story of the non-fittest animals, they debase the entire argument of Creationism. So instead of crafting a story in which Creationism and Evolution could plausibly co-exist, by relying on inexplicable Acts of God, the movie debases the prior ideology while making a mockery of the latter.

The movie evades death - particularly the death of a species - in its wrong-headed portrayal of natural selection as something that can redeem an individual life, rather than that which governs the continued existence of a species. Though clearly anti-scientific, the movie might be forgiven as mindless entertainment for kids. The net impact for adults, however, is that in attempting to appeal to both Creationists/Individualists and Evolutionists/Collectivists, neither narrative is coherent.

For some such beliefs in life, there can be no viable middle ground.

"Empire" (2015)
12 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Out of sync, 21 January 2015

It this series was released at the time of Hustle and Flow 10 years ago or 8 Mile 13 years ago, it might have been more impactful. But instead it's flat, hollow and stereotypical. The acting is good enough, but the writing is miserable and a disservice to all the characters it depicts: African-Americans, gays, "the white kids the make up 75% of our sales," the poor, wealthy, single moms, the married ... you name it.

Empire also smacks of the RIAA's out-of-touch nonsense about the future of the music industry relying on record sales, and that boat has definitely sailed what with Spotify, YouTube, Pandora and the like dominating how most people get access to music. I'd not be surprised if the RIAA kicked in some financing to get this piece of trash on the air.

There are some shows so bad that it's worth watching just to see how bad they are. Save your time: Empire isn't even worth that.

329 out of 557 people found the following review useful:
"You owe it to yourself to see this film ..., 5 June 2006

... If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to." - Roger Ebert

After the closing credits to An Inconvenient Truth rolled, I walked out to my car in the theater's parking lot. LA's infamous haze hung low, crimson in the twilight. In the foreground a solitary grasshopper pump drew up oil that had laid dormant for hundreds of millions of years. If Supersize Me made the prospect of a Big Mac and fries a little less appealing, imagine the feeling of slipping into a six cylinder car for a three mile trip home.

Just the same, An Inconvenient Truth is not about blame. It's also not only about the problems that global warming poses. Instead, it sets aside the matter of "who's fault is it" and leaves the viewer with the desire to ask and answer the question of "what can I do?" The film (and companion website) does not fail to deliver: both offer practicable steps to take regarding the literal sea change facing the planet.

The movie presents evidence that, to me, was quite compelling. Is it incontrovertible? Not being an environmental scientist, I couldn't say. But it's telling that out of almost 1000 peer reviewed scientific journals the film examines on the topic of global warming, the matter was not questioned by one (though doubted in more than half of the popular literature written during the same time). It's also worth mentioning that while Al Gore hosts the film, this movie is not about him. And while he may have showed up for some six years ago as stiff and stodgy, in this context he is masterful in blending the informative with the entertaining.

Go see the film for yourself. Bring a friend. Trust me, you'll be glad to have carpooled.

Suddenly (1954)
2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Not groundbreaking, but ..., 15 September 2003

For a movie that starts off as mediocre (at best) as Suddenly does, things get better quickly once the plot begins to unfold. What begins as embarrassing dialogue b/w the Sheriff (Hayden), Pidge (Charney) and Ellen (Gates) magically evolves into the kind of classic movie that makes lazy Sunday afternoon TV viewing such a treat.