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This movie was not at all what I expected. I expected a somewhat intelligent script. No. This is nothing but a vapid, CGI, Hollywood film with a big explosion at the end. This will probably be the last 3D movie I see. I loved the original Alien movie. If you did, you will be totally disappointed by this one. It lacks everything the original had. The characters are boring, the dialog is stupid, there is no suspense and no humor. Fans of the original will be wanting to learn more about the alien world of the the original but you won't find that here. There are too many questions that are never answered. There is absolutely not one original sci-fi idea in the script. I am so upset by how bad this film is that I want to write to Ridley Scott himself. Apparently all Hollywood knows is CGI and BIG EXPLOSIONS. The movie obviously is going to have a sequel but they won't get my money. Fans of the original Alien film, PREPARE TO BE DISAPPOINTED BIG TIME. Save your money, watch the original film.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)
Inept, clichéd, poorly edited, huge unexplained plot holes
This movie is totally inept. It's one of those films where the characters behave so stupidly you can't believe it. Every scene is a horror film cliché. As for horror, there is none. Some of the scenes are so darkly lit you cannot tell what is going on and I have a feeling the cinematographer did not know what he was doing. As for the script, plot holes abound. Things happen and then are dropped. Characters pop in the movie and are never seen again. One scene will suffice. SPOILER: The grounds keeper is attacked by the creatures with screwdrivers and box cutters, he staggers up the stairs, falls face down on the floor in front of his wife and the little girl. When the husband comes home, the man's wife tells him that her husband has had an "accident". No one asks how he had an "accident" with a screwdriver stuck into his eye and a pair of scissors in his shoulder. I was really disappointed with this movie. I would say save your money.
Up in the Air (2009)
Likable bastards galore
The four main characters in "Up In The Air" are all bastards. George Clooney's job is to fire people. He works for a firm run by Jason Bateman. The firm is hired by companies who don't have the guts to fire their own employees. Anna Kendrick is a new employee who comes up with a new method of doing the firing which is even more heartless than the way the company has been doing it. Vera Farmiga is a woman Clooney meets in a hotel bar while on the road.
Clooney is likable as the heartless bastard who has no family, no real permanent address and whose goal is to reach a multi-million mile travel mark with the airlines and the rewards that it brings.
Jason Bateman is the likable bastard who runs the firm.
Anna Kendrick is the cute, perky, likable,heartless bastard whose new idea is even more cruel than the firm's original way of working.
The movie is entirely watchable and makes its point. But it is definitely without much substance. You enjoy it while watching it but when it's over there's nothing to think about. In most ways it makes being a heartless bastard look like a viable career choice. After all, it is Clooney who has a good paying job and the firm he works for certainly looks prosperous. Whose side is this film really on? It appears to be a message movie with the obvious message that corporations are so heartless they can't even fire their own people and have to hire some lackey to do it. But it portrays Clooney's life as actually kind of cool. He never has to pay for anything out of pocket, he has a gazillion company credit cards, he doesn't have to wait in long lines at the airport like the rest of us, and he meets sexy women like Vera Farminga along the way.
I'll take Clooney's job.
A slasher musical with bad singing, cut throats and cannibalism.
I happen to like Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman but I have to say this film was a waste of 2 hours.
Probably a lot of parents are kicking themselves for renting this film for their kids who like Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean. Believe me, this is no Pirates of the Caribbean. It's R rated for a good reason. Here's why: There are about 10 graphic scenes of people getting their throats cut with a straight razor with blood spurting out all over then being dumped down a shoot onto their heads. As if that isn't enough, one woman is thrown into an incinerator. Not a great loss because she is a terrible singer. Yes, this is a musical.
But the music sucks and everyone is a lousy singer. You probably think I'm joking but I'm not. This is a musical about a psycho who slashes people's throats. Don't ask me. I didn't come up with the idea. I don't know why anyone would make a musical based on this premise. Go figure.
Oh, I almost forgot. There is also cannibalism in the film. Yes, you heard me right.
And the ending also is a real downer.
I actually like horror films but a slasher musical is just too stupid for even me.
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
A great film
Doctor Zhivago (1965) is one of the four best David Lean films along with A Passage to India (1984), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).
Doctor Zhivago is a film that is hard to fault. The novel upon which it's based provides ample source material. The challenge to film it was to decide what to leave in and what to take out. Although the film is long it is necessary and in fact could have been twice as long. The film can be somewhat hard to follow because of the necessary omissions and condensations for the screenplay to be effective.
The acting is first rate from everyone and the principle actors are all heavyweights, with Omar Sharif as Dr. Zhivago probably the least capable and overshadowed by the others.
Julie Christie as the beautiful and mysterious Lara, Geraldine Chaplin as the rather mousy Tonya are the only two females in the film.
Rod Steiger, prone to overacting, is quite restrained and very effective as Komarovsky.
Alec Guinness as Gen. Yevgraf Zhivago is used to frame the story and has a small role.
Tom Courtenay is excellent as Pasha, while the distinguished Ralph Richardson is terrific as Alexander.
Small roles for Rita Tushingham as The Girl and Klaus Kinski as a crazy Kostoyed, very effective.
The film is a visual and aural feast and won Oscars for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Musical Score.
Director David Lean uses symbols and colors throughout the film and these are fun to examine. Trains occur repeatedly in the film, representing various ideas. Falling leaves, snow and ice, candles occur repeatedly. The color red is used everywhere: for Lara's dress, on flowers, on the Communist flag and on the train.
In my opinion, A Passage To India (1984) is Lean's best film because it is a perfect melding of story and symbolism, but Zhivago shows Lean's attention to story, history and symbolism.
Dr. Zhivago deserves to be seen on a large screen and withstands repeated viewings, as to the other three major David Lean films. Rightly so, Zhivago is on the top 100 film list.
Recommended without reservation.
A giant leap forward in film, a must see in 3D
"2001: A Space Odyssey" forever changed the look of movies in 1968 and Avatar does the same thing in 2009. There is no doubt that Avatar is a groundbreaking film. It's a giant leap forward in the use of CGI combined with 3D technology that immerses the viewer totally in the film.
To director Cameron's credit, he does not use the 3D as a gimmick.
Having seen A Christmas Carol, the Robert Zemeckis 3D film only a few months ago, Avatar makes it look amateurish by comparison.
The flora and fauna of the planet Pandora are the real stars of the film. This is a richly detailed jungle world inhabited by a huge airborne predator, the Banshees (smaller flying reptiles), the Direhorse (a six legged horse-like creature), the Hammerhead Titanothere (a large herbivore with a head shaped like a hammer) and the fearsome Thanator which is a panther-like creature straight from Hell.
The flora are equally well imagined and beautiful. There is the Tree of Souls, The Tree of Voices, Woodsprites (like airborne jellyfish) and Helicoradian which collapse into themselves when touched.
This is a film that comes around only once in a lifetime.
Terror by Night (1946)
One of the best of the Basil Rathbone 1940's versions
Having seen all of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films of the 40's on my DVD collection, which I highly recommend, Terror By Night is one of the best of the series. Holmes is hired to prevent the theft of the Star of Rhodesia, an enormous diamond. Most of the film takes place on a train trip from London to Edinburgh. When the diamond is stolen suspects abound and it is a game of wits between Holmes and the thief. Holmes is at his most clever and there are enough red herrings to satisfy the most ardent sleuth fan. Dr. Watson and Inspector Lestrade are put to clever use in the film. As will all of the films in this series, the production values are excellent. Highly recommended.
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Holmes remade as an action hero
This version begins with a fist fight involving Holmes at a gambling den. Naturally Holmes walks away the victor. The scene signals clearly that this version is not going to follow in the footsteps of its many predecessors. So, if you have read the original Holmes stories, or seen any of the many previous Holmes adaptations, particularly those from the 40's with Basil Rathbone, you will probably be shocked and disappointed to see Holmes portrayed as a sort of cartoonish James Bond/Batman character. There are more fist fights, chases, heroine in distress scenes, and a finale atop the Tower Bridge. Although this is a period piece purportedly set in London during the 1800's, to me it lacked authenticity mainly because of the cartoonish nature of the film. It seemed that the film was really a superhero movie but with the superhero having a keen sense of observation instead of magical powers. There were times when some of the actors lost their British accents and one scene in which one of the detectives clearly spoke in an American accent. So, director Ritchie seems not to have cared much for authenticity but rather went for an action joyride. On that level, the film is not so bad, much like a National Treasure or DaVinci Code. Robert Downey Jr. portrays Holmes as a tormented, depressed soul, never clean-shaven, clearly a personal slob, witness his disgustingly slovenly digs, with no manners and a pugilistic side. Jude Law's Dr. Watson is more like Robin to Batman and he is more than willing to join Holmes in fisticuffs as they fight off one thug after another. There are Holmes references in the film, as to Professor Moriarty, but unless you are already familiar with characters from the Doyle stories, you will not understand them, nor are they explained at all. Clearly there will be at least one sequel. The film is clearly aimed at younger people and will probably provide them with 3 hours of non-stop action entertainment.
A Christmas Carol (2009)
3D version is very cool
This is a review for the 3D version of A Christmas Carol. I was astounded by the 3D in the film and I would recommend it because seeing it in 3D is worth the experience.
The only other 3D film I've seen is Journey to the Center of the Earth and there is no comparison. Director Robert Zemeckis seemed to have a handle on how to effectively use 3D and not let it get in the way of the story. A few scenes got "oohs and aahs" from the audience. I thought the CGI in the film though was uneven. Some of the scenes, the closeups with Jim Carrey and some of the other characters, looked very realistic. But others, such as the chase down the streets at the end looked flat and unrendered. I suppose it could have to do with technical limitations. Anyway, there are enough visuals in the film to please most anybody. Seeing it snow in 3D was worth it. Based on this movie I am definitely going to see more 3D films in the future.
As for the content of the film itself, everyone has probably seen A Christmas Carol before and the story is the same as it always has been. Jim Carrey plays many roles including Scrooge and all three of the ghosts. He manages to have his humor come through even though he is mostly CGI. The "candle" ghost is particularly amusing as is the ghost of Christmas present. Gary Oldman and many other well known actors are in the film but it is hard to tell who they are because of the CGI and effects.
The film showed previews for two other 3D films that looked spectacular: Avatar and Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton.) I think I've just seen the future of films and it's 3D. It's only a matter of time before someone makes a great work of art using 3D. It may take a few decades but it will happen. One other thought: if someone makes an R rated horror film in 3D it will probably give people heart attacks. The 3D effects are just too realistic and they are right in your face. I'm not sure I would want to see one of those.
The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
First 30 minutes are really good, unfortunately....
Caught this on the free movies on cable. The first 30 minutes or so were excellent I thought. Every scene was visually interesting, stunning in fact and you can tell the director put a lot of thought into each scene. The characters were interesting and the bad guy was creepy as get out. I thought if this keeps up for the entire movie it will be a classic horror film. Unfortunately.... ...everything goes to hell in a handcart after that. The plot gets ridiculous, there are some very incompetent scenes with the two main characters, the GCI looks bad and the movie goes on and on. In the end, it ultimately makes no sense whatever. Too bad. I was hoping for this film to succeed.