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Occasionally pretty Diana fanfic fails to be "Quantum Leap."
"Quantum Leap: A Leap to Di For" is ostensibly a piece of "Quantum Leap" fanfiction featuring Princess Diana. However, this film turns out to be a piece of Princess Diana fanfiction with the "Quantum Leap" universe unsuccessfully forced into it.
The film starts with a long slideshow of the real Diana with somber music. For better or for worse, this is a sign of things to come. If you're the type of person who still regularly mourns for Diana, buys the "tribute" dolls, magazines, and t-shirts, and still regularly listens to that Elton John song, then there's a slim chance you'll enjoy this film. Otherwise it's already getting tedious, and that won't change.
We then get a decent attempt at the classic "Quantum Leap" leap-in, with a confused Sam arriving and bluffing his way through things. As a devoted "Quantum Leap" fan since the start, I loved seeing the classic leap FX again, though they do look a bit Adobe-ish compared to the original animation. The distinctive QL sound effects fans know and love are all there, as are well-produced replicas of the Quantum Leap equipment. (That handlink prop is amazing; major kudos to the prop replicator!) The lead actors, Joshua Ramsey as Sam and Ed Ernstes as Al, manage to do their characters justice. With a bit more practice, I could definitely see these two as the Quantum Leap team. Of course they're no Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell, but they've got serious potential. Like each successful new James Bond, Captain Kirk, or Doctor Who actor they aren't doing impressions or parodies of their predecessors, instead actually developing their own valid performances of the classic characters. Joshua and Ed's take on QL's classic Sam/Al interactions are a highlight of this film.
Unfortunately, these good points are not enough to save this production.
The rest of the cast are trying, but not succeeding. The "British" and "French" characters seem to be trying to speak in accents they've never heard. The few capable actors just can't do much with the material. Even original Ziggy actress Deborah Pratt fails to recapture the charm of her character in her brief cameo.
The story is extraordinarily substandard. "Quantum Leap's" best episodes told close, personal stories using historical events as a backdrop, providing context for the adventure. The rare exceptions to this rule, like the Lee Harvey Oswald and Elvis episodes, required amazing writing to make it work. Here, the historical event is the whole point, pushing the main ideas of QL away so the story can keep sanctifying Princess Diana.
The film also contains all sorts of things which just aren't "Quantum Leap." We learn that Project Quantum Leap has been shut down by the Government, with Sam somehow leaping around in the interim guided by a copy of Al running on Windows. This up-ending of things really trashes the established QL framework and disturbs the flow of the story, and seems to have been crammed into the plot for no other reason than having the concerned US President get talked into starting it all up again in order to save Princess Diana; just another of the film's attempts to tell us how great and beloved Diana is while truly missing the point of "Quantum Leap." Throw in typed captions ripped from "X-Files," throwaway references to iPods, the President monologuing about his own religious convictions before taking personal control of the Project in order to change world history, and everyone constantly interrupting the story in order to remind each other (and us) how great and beloved Diana is. It all just takes us further and further away from the "Quantum Leap" universe we know and love.
The ending, in which the filmmaker's sanctified, beloved, and just-plain-godly version of Diana actually shows up for a bit, is extremely disconcerting to anyone familiar with the actual history. A poorly-accented, inaccurately-hairstyled Diana stoically declares that one must live life free of fear, and marches with dignity to a fatal drunk-driving party date. Is that really the story the filmmakers wanted to tell? The tacked-on bit about how the change in history was to get her to call her children before doing so is just unequivocally bad. I'm not even a Diana fan, and I still found the whole thing in really poor taste, just like the dreadful title. (A "Di/die" pun? Really?)
Story aside, given that this is a fan-film, one might be more forgiving of its technical faults. However, the filmmakers' ability to compensate for these faults seems limited. The film is apparently shot on DV and then given a "film grain" filter which looks awful. Everything's fuzzy and either too dark or too bright, with no levels in between. The sound is the same way; everything's either too quiet to understand or loud enough to bust your speakers.
Before the film, an intertitle tells us the producers mean no disrespect toward the memory of Diana, and instead hope to "pose the dramatic question of 'what if,' which true science fiction is meant to be." However, what this film has actually done is hijack the tragic death and legacy of a public figure, unsuccessfully tack on a mismatched piece of established scifi, and create just another tacky piece of Diana "tribute" merchandise. Don't Diana's fans already have enough of that sort of thing?
I must point out that I mean no disrespect toward the filmmakers themselves. This film did succeed in inspiring me to check out RACSO Films' other work. They've done some wonderful stuff, and I look forward to seeing more from them in the future. I'd even look forward to seeing this particular Sam and Al in another "Quantum Leap" film. Given the right material, they might recapture more of what fans love about "Quantum Leap."
Good actress, bad actor, lousy film.
The only points I can give this film are for lead actress Emily Haack. She must have gone through hell making this.
Actor/writer Tommy Biondo, on the other hand, fails at doing everything vaguely movie-related. Nothing good can be said of his writing, because there just doesn't seem to be any writing beyond "in this movie I get to rape a girl." There is some rubbish about the titular scrapbook, which just ends up a half-forgotten plot device for most of the film.
Nothing good can be said of Biondo's acting, either; he delivers middle-school-level improv lines (which I'm sure he thinks are super-scary serial-killer lines) with all the menace of a rubber ducky.
The so-called "violence" is at a Three Stooges level of laughability, with none of the charm. He lightly pats his victims on the face, and despite said victim acting dutifully like they've been slapped by a bodybuilder, it is about as believable as third-rate WWE fights.
The very fact that a slim, squeaky, bandy-armed man with the physical intimidation factor of a stalk of celery is supposed to be able to kidnap, beat up, and rape a woman who looks about three times as strong as him, and later beat a big strong farmer twice his size to death, defies any attempt at suspension of disbelief. This man couldn't physically kidnap a sandwich.
The poor actress suffers though badly-done rape scene after badly-done rape scene, a scene of non-simulated fellatio, and a scene of actually being urinated on, by a bad actor and worse writer who seems to be on a sad wish-fulfillment trip that has no business calling itself a horror film, or even any kind of film.
If you're into horror, get another horror movie. If you're into porn, get another porn movie. This film fails entirely at being either. Hopefully it won't leave too dark a mark on the resume' of Ms Haack, who comes out of this whole sorry mess as the only one with any sort of talent whatsoever.
Dasepo sonyo (2006)
Total wonderful insanity
This is crazy. And by crazy, I mean awesome. And by awesome, I mean insane. And by insane, I mean.. well.. this movie.
I'm not Korean and don't speak the language, but when I happened to find a copy of this with English subtitles I decided to check it out, and I'm totally glad I did.
This is a comedy, but beyond that this is impossible to categorize. There are the Zucker-style "Airplane" moments. There are sex gags on par with anything National Lampoon did in their heyday. There are the heartwarming subplots involving a few budding romances which are genuinely sweet. There are the over-the-top cartoony CGI scenes like something out of "Kung Fu Hustle." It's not just aimless humor, either, it's satire with a message. Everything from school culture to teen promiscuity to multiple religions to Internet celebrity to social class divisions to fetishes and kinks to organized crime is spoofed, twisted around, and put back in its place severely distorted and hilarious. It's a bit like Monty Python's "Life of Brian," in that there is a single real underlying message to the whole film, but it doesn't let that get in the way of taking things off into a whole new crazy direction for a few minutes every now and then.
Unlike many comedies, the characters are not just single-joke constructs. The cast is brilliant, and their characters are well fleshed-out and genuine people, who just happen to live in an over-the-top psychotic world much like our own and do crazy things.
This movie is a total head trip, and it's seriously one of the best movies I've seen this year. Every time you think you've figured it out, it throws something completely new and unexpected at you.
This is the movie that modern overdone self-aware "comedies" like "The New Guy," the last couple of "Scary Movie" installments, or anything made after 1990 with the words "National Lampoon" in the title wish they could be.
Totally Doctor Who (2006)
I remember growing up as a young "Doctor Who" fan in the USA in the 1980s. None of my friends were into it, in fact almost nobody I knew even knew what "Doctor Who" was, and there was no fandom I could participate in. Now I'm a poorly aging "Doctor Who" fan, glued to the new series, but this time other people are into it. The show is huge in the UK, and in the US things are catching on as well.
Which brings me to this show. As I watch it, of course there are a few things that grate against me. The hosts seem contractually required to say "totally" at least three times per sentence (ill-advisedly dragging that particular bit of slang back from its 1980s grave,) I can't get into the "companion academy" segments at all, and the female presenter sounds like she has been smoking cigarettes since age seven, or using a wire bottle-brush inside her throat.
But, it's a kids' show! And once I managed to relax my jaded 28-year-old scifi nut sensibilities, watch the charming interviews and the fun documentary segments, grin at the kids' artwork they send in, groove off the cheesy-yet-fun chemistry the hosts have with each other, enjoy the previews, and get dazzled by the guest stars, it blows me away thinking about how had something like this been around (and in my country) when I was a kid, this show would probably have been my second-favorite ever, second only to "Doctor Who" itself.
All in all, this show is a basically fun extra touch of "Doctor Who" for young fans, especially those still a bit too young to get into "Doctor Who Confidential." It's also not bad for the older fans who can watch it in the right spirits.
The Flash (1990)
Yet another good show that deserved a better chance.
I was a big fan of this show the first time around. I was already something of a comic fan, and this series was a great translation of the material into a series. The Flash was a great-looking show, and the actors played their parts flawlessly. John Wesley Shipp, who played the Flash, has that Bruce Campbell-like ability to portray a likable, average guy, who just happens to get super powers. His sidekick, the lovely Amanda Pays (formerly of Max Headroom) was a good, but underused, addition to the show.
The special effects were surprisingly good for a TV show, although I do seem to remember some wince-inducing moments, like one villain whose costume included - unless my memory is really messing with me, which has been known to happen - a Nintendo Power Glove.
On the subject of villains, they were usually done well. I highly recommend the episodes starring Mark Hamill as the Trickster. Fans of the animated Batman series will notice an early version of Hamill's Joker persona here, which is interesting since the Flash comics' Trickster character was basically a rehash of Batman's Joker in the first place.
All in all, this show really didn't deserve to get canned after one season. Given another season, it could have grown into something classic. Luckily, videos of this seem fairly easy to come by, so it's still possible to check out this underrated footnote in the history of superhero television.