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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
Good film--but it could have been a whole lot better.
I love Star Trek. Please do not take this the wrong way, but this movie could have been made a whole lot better. The story line is good-- although there are times I was left scratching my head and saying "WTH?" to myself.
There are two villains in here. First you have Benedict Cumberbatch who does an EXCELLENT job of portraying Khan. It is hard to imagine him as Khan if you grew up watching the original series and saw "The Wrath of Khan"...However, he does make that part his own in a sense. One thing the viewer may come away with is a strange sense of empathy for his reasoning because it does have some logic.
This character is not just simply a "madman" hell bent on getting even with Kirk, as portrayed in previous versions. Cumberbatch actually gives Khan a high degree of intelligence, cunning and an ice cold demeanor, whereas in previous versions Khan was much more emotional. A viewer really cannot predict Khan in this one either. Other characters are used for that purpose and that is also a good thing!
Then you have Peter Weller. I have seen a lot of Peter Weller's work and he is usually top notch, but I felt that as Marcus, he was over the top in some of those scenes. This is the character that should have been the "greater villain"/"God Character" but this is role where he came off as "not believable" for lack of a better description. That character was also written to be too predictable. I like being surprised and I was not surprised with that character's actions. I think the fault for this lies with J.J. Abrams. Anytime that happens, it's usually direction that is the cause of it.
As usual, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and the actors portraying those we all grew up watching do an excellent job in this film. They are the main reasons I'll get the DVD. I was really impressed with how Scotty (Simon Pegg) actually ends up being what I call the "God Character" here. His character knows what is best and finds out what is really going on at times--so some of this story line is revealed through him. Writing-wise it is a good strategy to use him for that since the writing with the Marcus character left much to be desired.
The other issue I had with the film is that there is some mirroring of Wrath of Khan with a bit of role reversal. One will know what I mean when they see the film so this is not a spoiler. I felt that the writers should have had a little more restraint with that tactic and more originality. Something needed to be fresh and different than what we know of as viewers in that sense, but I feel that this was a set up for a later film.
While there is non-stop action and a good story going on here, I feel it could have been told without all the references to the other film. I do like how the Klingons were portrayed. They rocked! Get ready for the next sequel. Let us hope that it follows the 2009 version in terms of originality. This film does not ruin the franchise by any stretch because it is good, it is just that it could have been so much better. Maybe next time...
Jack the Giant Killer (2013)
This film is not bad IF YOU GET what they are trying to do here...
Jack the Giant Killer is set in a fantasy world made up of elements of different times. Critics complain about this but the story itself is solid despite the dramatic license taken. True, there are no "giants" but perhaps this is made this way to show that there were no "real giants". However we do know that the prehistoric creatures did exist now, right?
The mixing of elements of different points of History are what makes the movie a timeless fantasy. One reviewer was correct about the story borrowing from elements of other stories such as "Jurassic Park", and "Aliens" but I have no clue where in the bloody hell he got the comparisons to "Roots" and "Brigadoon"...Really? Come now...I had more of a human-like "Dr. Who" comparison come to mind toward the end with that flying castle and such...
This movie is a race against time and evil. It also has other conflicts- -man vs. nature, man vs. man, man vs. evil, etc...When there are more two of the major types of conflict present, then it makes a movie worth watching.
Now let us get to the performances. First I will say that given the fact that this is a timeless fantasy, it cannot be set in a definite year. Not even the music indicates what time period it should be set in and I feel this is to keep the movie from being boxed into a period of time. When done deliberately it is not a flaw but great writing. The critics who said otherwise didn't get it. This viewer did. It is NOT boring to say the least.
There is comic relief from the military characters--especially the general (Steve McTigue). He's hilarious as the bumbling general!
Then there are Jane March (Serena) and Harry Dyer (Newald Kutchins). Evidently Newald is the only human she's had feelings for since her mother. She wants revenge for being kidnapped by giants (she says) but it's obvious that she wants more than that.
Then there is Jack (Jamie Atkins) and Lisa (Vicki Glover). While it is obvious that there are feelings there--strong ones, more interaction comes from the other characters. In fact it is the others characters that are driving the story aside from the Serena plot.
Even though it is called "Jack the Giant Killer", the support characters seem to drive the story to it's climax. For me this is a first. I would expect more interaction between Jack and others but the entire cast worked well together to bring this project home.
Now I will get to what people seem to be waiting for me to make a comment on. Ben Cross as "Agent Hinton". Very good performance. The man always delivers and Hollywood screwed up by not utilizing him more over the years. This is one actor who does NOT short change his fans--PERIOD. And if it makes the lot of you feel better, he says it's a "bad movie". Then again, I'm not an actor, I'm a viewer. An average viewer is going to find this film sort of campy and fun since it can be watched with the kiddies.
This actor got a huge break with the show "Banshee" last year, and if he doesn't finally get the attention he deserves for his work over the past 40 years, then Hollywood is seriously on an acid trip or something of that nature.
One thing I will say for both Ben Cross and Jane March is that their talents are vastly under-utilized. She is one of the first actresses that I have seen in a long time that will allow a character to breathe through her. HELLO Hollywood: Get her on your bloody radar.
As for the movie itself, you will find no sex, guts or gore so the whole family can watch it, which is probably the real reason why critics raised hell over it. Nobody needs to have that in a film to sell it. That is a myth. Despite this, I noticed that the performances were never complained about. They didn't complain about the use of CGI which was also well done.
All in all it is NOT a waste of money if you want a movie the family can watch. Just do not expect a certain time period for it because it really is not meant to have a certain time period. This way the kids can enjoy it and then the grand kids. This is not the first story I've encountered of this nature, either. Get the DVD, grab some popcorn and enjoy it...Movie theater tickets are priced through the roof in a lot of places anyway!
This show is dope!
Quite frankly, I love it. It is packed with different story-lines and such and each character has his/her own plot, agenda or whatever you want to call it. Some complain about the "gratuitous sex scenes" and I don't see why. It IS Cinemax, after all and most know they show that type of programming. While the sex scenes aren't really necessary to drive the show, I can see why they are there--to prove what type of people the characters are--so it gets put in your face, so to speak.
Everyone that can get beyond the nudity will enjoy the roller coaster ride this show offers. In fact Ivana Milicevic compares it a bit to the roller coaster in her interview for another magazine. Ben Cross warned viewers about that prior to its debut on his FB page by saying it would be "intense" and "for adults"--and "It is not a family show"...I think that kind of gave it away, so I guess I'll put a check mark in that spoiler box for those of you who haven't seen it yet. You have been warned.
The acting is intense. The script is well-written. Everyone will pick their favorites on here and will follow those characters into the jaws of Cerebrus. My bets are on the characters of Kai Proctor and Rabbit-- and both actors are very good! Love watching them! Those characters they play are truly twisted. Seriously, but that character Job (played by Hoon Lee) deserves a nod of some sort because that is one cool character in the mix and I LOVE his scenes! They are freaking cool!
The Sign of the Ram (1948)
An Important Film in Movie History
This was not the "chick" flick the other reviewer said it is. This was a very important role for Susan Peters for two reasons. One, the script was crafted especially for her after she was paralyzed in a hunting accident in her 20's. This is the earliest known film (to my knowledge) that was specifically designed for a disabled performer. I only wish Hollywood had kept her working! The other reason this film is important is that she plays a cold and calculating villain to a "T". The viewer really cannot empathize with this villain despite the handicap and that is because the writing of the script was simply brilliant. There is only one performance that topped this and that was the performance of Dame Judith Anderson in "Rebecca"...Think about it.
This was a film definitely ahead of it's time. This villain manipulated all who loved her and we got to watch this woman disintegrate mentally before our eyes. Susan Peters brought her to life in a way no other actress ever will, and she should have gotten award nods for this performance--not to mention an Oscar.
Super Tanker (2011)
You people are kidding me, right?
It is a SYFY movie correct? Did you expect a multi million dollar budget? Hang that! The movie was good. The dialogue was not bad and the acting came off as more believable than a lot of what comes off of that channel.
Ben Cross makes the film shine regardless of what one thinks of the effects and such. It is worth watching for him alone, but the rest of the cast was good with ONE exception--that was the actress playing the press secretary...She came across as flat to me. Thank God her part was small. She batted those eyes like a teenager rather than controlling her facial expressions like an adult. It also seemed as though she looked away off to her right instead of into a camera or an audience her character was addressing. Pathetic. At least Cross handled that podium scene well enough to cover up her snafu.
I am not going to put spoilers in here for those who haven't watched it but while the effects weren't that great, consider the budget. Yes, more could have been done in that respect but given what they had to work with, the cast and crew did well...
Unless you go to theaters, you won't get films with outrageous budgets to tickle your fancy.
Hatfields & McCoys (2012)
Very well done...
I am not going to tell you anything of the History of that feud. If you want to know, simply watch it! The cast did an excellent job and captured the essence of one of the worst feuds in US History. It almost caused another war--literally. It was a joy to see this cast in action--especially Costner, Paxton and Mare Winningham! If this does not get a Golden Globe, People's Choice Award or an Emmy then this nation has a screw loose! I have not seen anything this good in years in the way of Westerns...There was none of that "modernization" or revisionist garbage! This is realistic and it is excellent! Watch it! You will not be wasting your time as it truly does capture the spirit of the era in which this took place.
Christopher Pennock Deserves more work!
This short is entirely thought provoking and well done. The lives of the characters are fractured in different ways--but fractured none the less. You will not be prepared for the ending and it will make you think. I do think Christopher Pennock should be utilized by filmmakers more than he is.
I'd love to see him in more comedy. However, back to this film. It will blow your mind not only how fractured these characters are, but it will shatter your illusion forever that there is such a thing as a "perfect nuclear family".
The writing and directing were spot on in this short film, and I feel that the emotions that Alex had within his family unit, and at school were very well played out. The scene with one of Alex's customers smoking a bowl was thought provoking as well--where he gives Alex a bit of advice about enjoying school while he can...That touch added a bit of irony for me.
I do feel that the actor used to play Alex's older brother was a little over the top in his acting, but the rest of the cast did very well.
Black Forest (2012)
Not the Usual SyFy Fare...
Syfy doesn't always put out the greatest movies, but this one is much better than some give it credit for. It was definitely better than some they've put out in the past five years. I am not giving away the story line, so if you want to know more about the film then watch Ben Cross's interview about it on the Syfy site.
His description about throwing a grenade into the "fairy tale" mix is quite accurate. It is his portrayal of the villain Cazmar that makes it worth watching alone. As usual, he makes any project he puts his name to shine. I love how he used the Irish accent for the character too as he delivered Cazmar's lines.
What I thought was totally disrespectful was the fact that IMDb totally left him off of this cast list and listed him for "The Human Factor" as Creighton--which he does not appear in. I know this for a fact. Shame on you for not fixing this before "Black Forest" was released...
Mad World (2010)
This movie is a must see!
In the beginning, one is not sure what to make of this film but it touched on several issues that need to be addressed--and most of it came through the verbiage of Will (Dylan Vigus) and Cory (Gary Cairns). While Will is the one telling the story, it is Cory that best expresses what is going on in the mind of a tortured young man in a school where, as it often occurs, faculty completely ignores the issues of bullying and doesn't even see (or chooses not to see) the signs of a child who is abused at home.
The character of Jevon (James Lee Martinec) is symbolic of the abused child who fell through the cracks of a failed system that is supposedly designed to protect our children--and often does not. I can relate to this character, but not for what is depicted in the film. I myself had a step mother who loved pointing a pistol at my head and tearing me down psychologically. At other times, she tossed me into walls, cabinets or whatever struck her fancy. Any other abuse I endured was not at the hands of my parents. That is all I will say there, but as I said earlier, if someone who has lived in a situation where they are abused in both environments (home and school) it might be a bit much to watch, so one might want to keep this in mind prior to viewing it.
I grew up in a time where it was one thing to wish the bullies were dead but it was taboo to act on it...The characters in this film were not consumed by video games and such as the far right would like to think. They were consumed by a society that threw them to the gutter and didn't care--and that is how many bullied children perceive the school environment in this day and age--especially when they are going through crap at home.
This writer merely put all the thoughts, the pain and the horrible things that run through the minds of broken souls and put it on celluloid and for that he is to be commended. Cory Cataldo did a great job of that. Now was that sex scene a bit much? Yes. You will know which one when you watch it. There was more than one scene.
Each character was a piece of a puzzle that fit into a whole. You had Cory--who was actually a very intelligent young man and articulate. You had Jevon who was a resident genius and (like myself) viewed school as a refuge--even though he didn't quite fit in...Because he made the school "look good" they took an interest in HIM but then threw him to the wolves when he didn't measure up to what the school's standard of perfection was. This DOES happen a lot.
Then there is Will. His father is an all around jerk and abuses him daily. Will is also articulate, intelligent and fell through the cracks. He also brings some of the humor to the film (along with Cory). Then you have John (Matthew Thompson) which brings another dimension to the film. He is an African American student raised by white, adoptive parents. This character suffered the effects of racism and violence in such a way that he felt he had no other options open to him. His monologue after the worst assault he endures will leave you in tears. It is riveting.
The ones playing teachers and administrators were a joke (and there are people like this in real life who dismiss the bullying as 'kids being kids'). These are the types that will sweep what the athletes and such do under a carpet but if a student sneezes in the wrong direction that is not part of that social circle, like vultures, they will all kick that student to the curb--which is what these characters did. Fortunately, my teachers and administrators were NOT like this. They cared and I knew it. Times have drastically changed because many do not seem to care about much more than their paychecks now. Sorry but that is true and this movie seems to touch on it.
This may be a low-budget indie film, but Gary Cairns and the other cast members made it believable--especially to a viewer who lived in a similar situation. I agree with the viewer that felt that the O'Reilly picture was a bit much. There are plenty of bone-headed school administrators in both major parties. Note: Not all people in the south are conservative and not all support the death penalty. This movie could have driven a huge point home to an audience had the political ideology been left completely out.
I really do not consider this to be a dark comedy as much as an art film. It is beautiful when put in that perspective because it attempts to bring new light to old issues. Cory is the ultimate voice of teen angst, Jevon of the pain of having to remain silent and to conform to standards and expectations that no boy should have to endure, Will is a voice of reason in the film even though his reasoning seems flawed in some respects and then there is John. The quiet kid who marches to his own drum, until forced to toss it aside and become a different creature altogether. Then again, they all 4 became different creatures--just as any child who is repeatedly bullied and abused can.
For those reasons alone--the touching on the issues and the acting itself, I give it a 9.
Not my genre but well worth watching!
I'm not into these "open up a can of whoop-ass on the bad guy" flicks, but there is an element of this movie that caused me to use it as training for my officers when I was a sergeant as a prison. It is the very real depiction of an offender who is often abused and used. Ben Cross played that character (Stevie Parker) and did it to perfection. Every expression, every step taken on the recreation yard or in the chow hall was very convincing. That was so well written I gave it a 9.
Then you have more types of conflict than the actual fighting. Man vs. Self...Man vs. man...etc...
This is a film I highly recommend to anyone working in a correctional facility for that reason alone. THAT aspect of the story, as well as the dirty officers and such was handled VERY well by the writers. It also beats those lame-ass state training videos too because it actually depicts what an officer SHOULD be watching for. It is set in another country, but the issues are the same.
I am grateful that I saw it!