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A surprisingly good movie.
13 November 2013
A good story told at a measured pace. Not a masterpiece, but probably the only Marvel Studios movie since Iron Man 1 that approaches being a 'great' movie (though its not there yet).

A lot of Star Wars imagery, from the design of the ships to the framing of the shots; when the 'Alien Elves' erupt out of that hole thing, it feels like the opening of A New Hope! This could be my favourite Marvel Studios movie after Iron Man 1.

I hope Marvel continues in this direction, but let the directors have MORE control, more vision and more passion.

A very entertaining blockbuster, but the next one will be better.
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The Possession (I) (2012)
This film is too FAST (*spoilers*)
2 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The posted review stating that this movie is too 'slow' is a very bizarre impression. The film OPENS with the voices already coming out of the box and we see our first victim die only second later.

The film makes very precise use of shots and music. Think of the strange cutaway to the exterior of the house from the point of view of the rainy ditch. This is montage with a purpose.

The weakness is that (like a Christopher Nolan film) the edits hinder the suspense because the 'slickness' of the cutting ruins the slow build up required for tension.

There are also only a few truly scary moments. Many scenes led to potential scares but faltered at the climax.

Overall, I would say this a technically excellent film, but sometimes a director needs to forget all he's learned about 'craft' and just go on instinct.

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Star Trek: Court Martial (1967)
Season 1, Episode 20
Starts off good, then spirals down.
3 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The opening act is excellent. The scenes in the bar on the starbase are something we never get to see, and the tense seen between Kirk and another officer are handled well. The introduction of Kirk's lawyer is--again--excellent, and seems to promise something great to come.

However, the premise of the case is a bit absurd. The career of a starship captain hanging on an event that could so easily be faked by TODAY'S standards hardly seems a plausible cause for a trial in the 23rd century. I suppose this courtroom has never seen a film before, or they'd understand how easy it is to manipulate a close-up (for our sake, a wide shot with Kirk hitting the button would have been more convincing).

Also, is there any 20th century device LESS conspicuous that a MICROPHONE. Even a toaster turned upside down would have done the job.

Kirk's insistence on dealing with Finney alone is the last straw. Surly a rewrite by the staff is the reason we had to dust off Shatner's stunt double, for yet another TJ Hooker fist fight.

Then, Hooker is at it again, rewiring the ship by yanking rubber houses out of wall panels. Bizarre.

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Battlestar Galactica: Crossroads: Part 2 (2007)
Season 3, Episode 20
25 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
There were so many great twists and turns in this episode I thought my head was going to explode. Lee's speech made me hang my head in shame (as any good drama should); Starbuck's return was expected and welcome; the characters showed sides I haven't seen before (its always refreshing to realize you really like a character you used to HATE, ie: Saul, post-exodus); hearing Bob Dylan's lyrics spoken by people in the far, far future was mind-bending; the revelation of the almost final-four was stunning, and a great way to end the season.

The cover version of All Along The Watchtower was, of course, a mistake. There are exactly 3 ways this could have worked: play the Bob Dylan version; play the Jimi Hendrix version; play a new version using exotic instrumentation and exotic vocal delivery (why not focus on Indian instruments, like the rest of the episode?).

Instead, we get a song done in the exact style that EVERY TV show in history has given us: a white-collar/techy imitation of real rock n' roll. I'm no musical genius, but I know that actors and film score musicians are by nature, incapable of properly delivering rock n' roll vocals. This version sounded no better than the pop-song spin off from Melrose Place, "How Do You Talk To An Angel".

Pay attention to how perfectly audible every syllable and nuance is audible on the microphone. That's the exact WRONG way to record rock music. In Dylan's version, his voice is mixed in a way that hides his obvious weaknesses; in the Hendrix version, his voice sounds like its coming from a mountain. The point is: no one in Hollywood knows how to mic a singer today. Not one. And, with this knowledge, any and all TV shows and films should simply leave it to the professionals to do it for them; in other words, don't bother remaking a masterpiece when the original will suffice.

Episode 9/10 Watchtower remake 2/10
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Battlestar Galactica: Sacrifice (2006)
Season 2, Episode 16
Pure suspense.
28 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is the very episode that assured me that the quality of the series had maintained its high standard through the second season. There is no other show on TV that keeps me on the edge of my seat for nearly every second that its on. I didn't enjoy the love triangle, simply because Apollo seemed to be done with Duala a few episodes ago, so it shouldn't even be an issue. However, the danger was real. In Starbuck's few minutes on screen, we jump from admiring her smiling at her audacity, to admiring her courage, to shaking our heads at her recklessness. Its sad to see Billy go, but in a realistic war drama like this, everyone is at risk, aren't they?

Bravo! 8/10
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26 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Despite the campy reputation of the first two seasons, I sometimes prefer the high melodrama here to the soft-focus light drama of the later seasons.

This episode plays out much better than episode 2: the story contains true suspense as we watch Picard go from one failed solution to another, while sticking to the Prime Directive. There are a few stray ends, some good, some bad. Good: Data's attempt to understand human humour; the bad: Wesley.

One glaring flaw that has stuck with me for years is the first act cliffhanger: *spoiler alert* Tasha is kidnapped right in front of Picard, and his reaction is to calmly turn towards the camera and proclaim 'red alert'. It feels like a dry read through that they accidentally had the cameras on for. Wouldn't a close-up with a helpless reaction have been better? That one moment summed up for years one of the problems I always had with TNG: the lack of 'punch' that the original series had.

In any case, a good episode.

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18 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This film is a disaster. Stay away, save your money, and go rent the Christopher Reeves films.

This movie had a sad re-hashed plot from Superman I, mixed with a bizarre sub-plot where Superman becomes a stalker; the director has not made a good movie since Usual Suspects (proving the writer of that film was the only reason for its success); every single actor in this film (except Parker Posey and maybe Kevin Spacey) were miscast and dull (yet somehow Marsden is better here than in X-men); there is no romance between Clark and that person calling herself Lois Lane; the action sequences contain no drama (the plane looked good, but didn't excite the audience); and there was no tragedy to compete with the death of Lois from S1 or Clark's defeat by the bully in S2.

In all honesty, I have no idea how anyone can defend this movie. If you "like" it, that's fine, but you can't convince me you enjoy it. Other than the nostalgiac connection with Superman from your youth, why would you watch this movie? I really think Bryan Singer has made a career out of slow, plodding, pointless, non-drama. And no, please don't instruct me to go watch a Michael Bay film. I don't like Hollywood trash. I like all kinds of movies, from the Spielburg\Lucas camp, to Felinni, to Kubrick, to Von Trier, to Chaplin to anything with Chevy Chase.

This film fails in every single aspect imaginable.

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Who made this?
12 February 2008
Who made this? Certainly not Guy Hamilton. Was Goldfinger a fluke? I knew I was in for trouble within the first 30 seconds of this film. The awkward pacing of the pre-credits sequence sets the stage for the only embarrassment in Connery's Bond filmography. After the artistic peak of OHMSS, this film seems like it belongs to another franchise altogether--maybe Shaft?

The script is terrible, the jokes fall flat, the lighting is horrid, Connery looks 65, and the film has lost all the polish and grit of the 60s film series. Its clear that the story is just scaffolding for the action. Connery breaks into a set for a moon landing and then steals a moon car thing and spends the next 15 minutes being chased by goons. Why exactly? (You know you're in a trash film when the camera lingers on extras and stuntmen rolling over and crashing in slow motion).

I was a little bored during Thunderball, with all the spectacle, but Diamonds Are Forever is something else altogether--its B movie in an A franchise.
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from the golden age...
24 September 2007
Like any literary adaptation, this film throws out many scenes and changes others around. As a film, though, it works perfectly. Comparing it to the 1960 version, the reputation of the 1930s as the golden age of Hollywood is exemplified in this picture. Although the film and editing techniques were primitive at this point, the humour is funny, the characters click, and the drama is captivating. I'm not sure why this and the 1960 leave out the scene where Huck convinces Jim he's dreamt them separating in the fog, since its one of the most important in the novel. In any case, Jim's plight is tragic, and makes one shudder to think of the many people that had to be subjected to the institution of slavery. Rex Ingram gives a great performance, and his best scene may be in the jail, right before the lynch mob bursts through the door. "Somebody help me!" he cries. Amazing.

It should also be noted that Clara Blandickgives an outstanding performance as Miss Watson. Mickey Rooney is okay as Huck, but his acting style hasn't aged as well as the others in the film. Overall, I highly recommend this as great entertainment and a great film.

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A classic restored. *****Spoiler Warning*******
29 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I still have a soft spot for many of the scenes shot by Dick Lester, but the 'campiness' of the red-neck policemen, and the slapstick of climatic battle in New York ruined an otherwise fine movie.

Many people today (literally today; I asked my room-mates) think of the the old Superman movies as 'cheesy'. Well, I guess that haven't seen Daredevil. Whatever.

The truth is, Superman II now takes its proper place directly below Superman I as one of the two best superhero films of all time. Spider-Man recreated the feel of a comic page better, and Tim Burton's Batman captured the larger than life visuals of the old-school comic artists, but no film comes close to the epic, sometimes tragic struggle of a super-hero wrestling with his 'human' failings.

While the X-men films attempt to deal with serious themes, the creators of those films are too inept to deliver them properly. Instead, they give us half-baked plot twists and largely weak-willed cardboard cut-out characters (with the exception of Wolverine and Magneto).

With these two glorious films, Richard Donner gives us the first (and so far only) superhero adaptation that has a logical story arc, and that puts its central character into situations that we actually doubt that he can figure his way out of (ironic, considering the ignorant complaints of modern fan-boys that whine: "but you can't write a good story with Superman--he can do everything!" I suppose the 30 years of top selling comic books aren't enough to convince them the fault lies with the 'writers' that have ruined the character from 1970 on).

*****Spoiler Warning*******

Now, back to the Donner cut. Not all of it works. There are still plot holes, and many of the deleted moments from Lester's cut are sorely missed (the extra scenes at Niagara Falls, the 'super-kiss' scene at the end). But overall, the dignity has been restored to the film that was missing from the Lester cut.

The one scene that must be commented on is the 'Shooting Blanks' scene at Niagara Falls. It must have been and excruciating decision for Donner to let the mis-matched footage go through, but at least we can see his original vision. (I'm sure in 10 years, they can digitally alter Clark's hair and glasses). Remember: that wide shot was probably done in ONE TAKE, and it was an audition! This speaks volumes of the acting ability of both main players. (for the relative skills of their 2006 counterparts, see all 154 minutes of Superman Returns).

The restored Marlon Brando footage reinforces the Biblical arc that was begun in Superman I. The explanation for Superman's powers being restored is a little more satisfying than the 1982 cut. Suzannah York's scenes were fine, but--maintaining the chauvinism of the Bible--the Donner version stays in line with the ancient themes of fathers and sons.

In conclusion, this already great film just got better. Be very careful when asking your local video store about this film--you might accidentally end up with something called 'Superman Returns'. Yikes!

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For MTV attention-span only...
1 November 2006
This movie is a disastor. Its very typical of a 90s Hollywood blockbuster, in that its a disconnected mess of flashy images and very poor storytelling.

Every single shot is done with a swooping camera, melodramatic music and for rushed dialogue. Almost every scene (count them), begins with a character either running or walking very, very fast. For the love of god, sit still, so we can enjoy the movie, guys.

The characters are one-note, and are usually yelling at someone, or are very angry.

If anything, the editor should never receive another assignment. In the end, though, it is the director who is responsible for this mess. And therefore, I will never watch a Kenneth Branagh film again! Please, please, rent the 1958 Hammer Horror version instead, or at the very least, the 1937 Universal film.

This film is mess.

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Half and Half
24 September 2006
I just watched it again, for the first time in years.

I think the first half is actually very good. It's probably the 3rd or 4th best Star Trek film...until the midpoint. The actual 'plot' involving Soran screams 'Hollywood': "the bad guy has been planning to do X, and he just got the final piece for his weopon. Now, we have to stop him or the universe will die."

The early scenes with Picard and Data are excellent. They each unfold in a very precise way, building on each previous scene as they go. Special praise must be given to the writers for delaying the revelation of the death of Picards brother and nephew. He learns of the news in his first scene in the film, and then several more follow where his interactions with the crew become more strained. Finally, he tells Troi of what has happened, and Stewart's acting skills deliver the scene will full emotional force.

Data's scenes are hilarious, and while at first I thought this sub-plot was disconnected from the rest of the film, I now see it as running parallel to the main plot. Picard must let go of his attachment to his idealized future (with a heir to his family name), and Data must let go of his attachment to his pre-emotion chip 'good old days' when he didn't have the burden of humanity to contend with.

Of course, all of this is shoved aside for about 40 minutes of silliness, involving Captain Kirk being recruited to help Picard PUNCH Soran only MINUTES before he can launch his missile (rather than hours, or days! Picard can go "anywhere, anytime" according to Guinan). The whole 'Nexus' sequence is effective, but pales next to similar sequences done throughout the Next Generation run (as well as Star Trek V: The Final Frontier).

Further, for the last 2/5 of the film, the remaining Next Generation crew are completely absent! Wouldn't the original idea of having Kirk join the Enterprise-D crew have been far more exciting, heroic, and not so low-key? The sequences on the planet with Soran and Picard look as if they're filmed on the same rocky formation used in the ST:TOS episode 'Arena', as well as Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (and maybe they are, knowing the corners that are sometimes cut with this franchise). A space battle involving all the characters would have been far more satisfying...Kirk could've gone down with the back section, and the crashing of the saucer section could've been saved for the finale.

To recap: Kirk is recruited to PUNCH Soran. That's it. There is nothing else unique about what he adds to the mix. Not his cunning, not his notorious 'breaking the rules' (see Star Trek II), nothing!

A very unsatisfying end for Captain Kirk, and a very awkward beginning for the film series by the Next Gen crew. Unfortunately, the quality of their movie outings would get far worse very soon.

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Clerks II (2006)
Who directed this? Not Kevin Smith...
21 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Say what you will about Mallrats, but that film was at least watchable. There's a secret ingredient to comedies that requires the viewer to actually SEE the people in their environment in order for the scene to be funny.

Clerks 1 contained many wide shots of people talking, and that was Smith's strength. Like Woody Allen, he allowed the characters to interact with their environment and comment on it. In this film, he cuts from one extreme close up to another, like a modern TV show.

Some of the scenes contain very well written dialogue; the 'nail painting' scene discussing life and love, the Rings/Star Wars scene, the 'Porch Monkey' scene, and the finally, the 'jail' scene.

I really think the remainder was a demonstration of a director trying waaay to hard to 2nd guess an audience that may not quite be there.

The 19 year old kid was a few miles below funny level. The donkey scene was done just wrong enough to fall flat. The Jackson 5 dance scene was embarrassing. In fact, everything Silent Bob did was embarrassing.

I didn't mind the story arc, but the actual details were very weak. I can't believe that Smith couldn't even get his own formula right. When the film came to the discussion about Rings and Star Wars, the audience sat up in attention, because the dialogue was actually interesting and funny. Too bad I can't say the same for the rest of the film.

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Good, but not as good...
19 July 2006
I just watched this again today for maybe the 20th time. I have to say that it doesn't quite hold up as well as Raiders and Temple of Doom. The 'leading lady' is the weakest of the trilogy, and the plotting seems like a pale retread of Raiders.

Obviously Connery adds some spice to the story, but this really is inferior to the first two in the series.

That being said, it does have the best 3rd act of any Indy movie.


PS: I'm kind of worried about Indy 4. How can Lucas pretend that he couldn't find a good script for it? Didn't he write Phantom Menace?
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The West Wing: 17 People (2001)
Season 2, Episode 18
The best so far...
25 May 2006
This episode is the best so far. As good or better than 'Oscar' winning feature film.

The sparse cast in this episode only amplify the quality. John Spencer and Janel Moloney both give outstanding performances. Audible sighs, hoots and gasps are bound to result from the viewer.

I now see why attendance at movie theatres is in such decline. Studios may think that audiences want cheap thrills and trashy exploitation (even audiences may believe want it!), but the novelty of more sex, more violence and more spectacle cannot compare to great stories.

Film is dead; the best drama is on television.
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18 December 2005
This was a joke, right?

This film starts off with some terrible exposition straight out of Laverne & Shirley ("we've got to show the audience that these guys are pals!"), leading to some very melodramatic antics (the butch woman kicking the guy square. Haha, funny!); then cuts to some ham-handed characterization short-hand (the bar-tender with Tourette's....wha--?); then the next day, we have a few 10th rate actor wanna-be's doing riffs on every Tarantino/Boyle/Ritchie cliché in the book (all unmotivated swearing and tough guy antics); then we have the DVD ejecting from my player.

Ten minute was enough.

2/10 if the writer is over 18. 5/10 if he's still in high school (I'll give him a break)
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"A failure"-Max Von Sydow
14 July 2005
"A failure"-Max Von Sydow

Yes, it was. I found this film ponderous and pretentious, like most of the 'spectacles' of that period. Besides the poor casting of Sydow as Jesus (a fine actor, in any case), this film spends too much time trying to show how grand and wonderous the events are, rather than simply letting them unfold. The music and cinematography date it to the period of Bible and 'Sword & Sandal' epics of the widescreen explosion of the 50s. I recommend 'Jesus Of Nazereth' as a far superior telling of the story. That film has far more interesting characters (especially Peter and Judas), and arranges the events in the most dramatic way I've ever seen them shown.

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Batman Begins (2005)
Huge disappointment...
18 June 2005
I can't believe we waited 8 years for a Batman movie, and this is all they can come up with. This film is a complete mess, from the confused non-linear storytelling (whenever its convenient), to the amateur picture and sound editing, to the sloppy, distracting directing.

I hate to say it, but I'd rather watch the Adam West version of Batman (which actually had some wit) or even the George Clooney/Joel Schumacher disaster, only because it provides SOME kind of entertainment (in a B Movie kind of way). This film is devoid of humour, wit, suspense, mystery or even drama. All scenes are clipped down to their climaxes, and we are never given a chance to catch our breath.

Once again, we are given 3 (rather than 1) villains, which makes the film 1/3 as good as it could have been (no, not 3 times as good!), while it tries to cram 6 hours worth of story into one rushed 2 hours.

It's cut together like a movie trailer, rather than a story, so you're never really 'inside' the plot. You don't feel the suspense, or even the moment-to-moment reality of what's happening. So many scenes come and go with no real contribution to the 'story' other than to 'update' you on what's happening with the characters at the moment (don't confuse that with a real story!).

There are elements of the film--mostly superficial--that do work, but they barely register as a blip in this mess. Gary Oldman (our finest actor?) plays Sgt. Gordon to a 't', but his sub-plot doesn't allow for much of his 'man-on-the-inside' role that he provides in the comic. Ras-al-gul resembles the comic book version in name only, as he has somehow switched from an Arab to Liam Neeson as a samurai (!?!?).

Looking back, the film should've focused on the Scarecrow (and maybe an earlier draft did; the original working title was Batman: Fear, and 'fear' seems to be the main theme of the piece). Cillian Murphy's unique features couldn't have been imagined by a comic artist. Like the re-created version in the animated series, Scarecrow actually looks scary, and uses a power that would've been more satisfying is he actually got to use it more. Katie Holmes is excellent, Morgan Freeman is fine, and Michael Caine is adequate (I'm not British, but his accent seems way off for Alfred).

All in all, it seems that there MIGHT have been a good film in there somewhere, but it was simply ruined by last-minute editing and a soundtrack that seems like an afterthought ( usually the same boring song runs through several scenes in a row, reinforcing the 'movie trailer' feel). Then again, the weaknesses could lie with the most important creative choice of all: the writer.

I don't know where David S. Goyer ever got the reputation as a good writer, but considering the only credits he has to his name are trash-film comic book adaptations, he must have another career as a playwright or a novelist. First he adapted Nick Fury for TV, which landed him the Blade trilogy. Blade, despite its unexplainable popularity, is typical dark fantasy/action movie garbage; all silver/blue colours, heavy metal soundtrack and 1 dimensional characters.

I suppose the shareholders at Warner must've seen the numbers on Blade, because not only did they give him Batman, they also gave him the job of adapting the beloved Flash to the screen (God help us all).

It just goes to show that Warner should've stuck with their original plan of letting Frank 'Sin City' Miller and Darren 'Pi' Aronofsky adapt 'Batman: Year One', but that would actually require them to base their decisions on talent rather than the (imagined) potential profits.

Oh, well, another in a long line of comic book bombs, I suppose (after Elektra, Catwoman, Daredevil and Hulk, the future is already looking dark for superheroes). The sad thing is, the investors might look at the choice to let Christopher Nolan (Memento) to direct as a reason for its failure, and thus shy away from letting other 'indy' directors take on big budget superheroes. Sadly, this could mean the next Bat-film might star Will Smith and be directed by Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich.

Where's Michael Keaton when you need him?

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Pretty today's 'Creed' standards: a MASTERPIECE
31 January 2005
When the Stones take the stage and erupt into Jumpin' Jack Flash, it's quite obvious we are witnessing an age is long now dead. The 'beautiful people' in the audience--draped in yellow rain coats or something--resemble participants in some kind of primitive religious ritual.

This, of course, is the true purpose of Rock n' Roll, isn't it? It replaces our instinctual need for community rituals that we've lost in the past few hundred years. The Stones occupy the stage like Shamans in a primitive hunting society. A Judeo-Christian might be offended by their endorsements of Lucifer in 'Sympathy for the Devil', but the real purpose of the song (or any Stones song) lies right there in the title. Good NEEDS Evil in nature. Things live, things die.

So, have some sympathy. And some taste.

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The best film about Jesus I've ever seen...
24 January 2005
The best film about Jesus I've ever seen...

...and I've seen a few. The Greatest Story Ever Told, King of Kings, The Last Temptation, The Gospel of John ,The Passion...they all have their strengths, but only this film tells the complete (and then some) story that is both dramatic and informative. The 'arcs' given to Matthew, Thomas and Simon/Peter are well thought out and even tragic. Two dimensional characters that were only briefly described in the Gospel are given full blown personalities here.

Robert Powell's interpretation is one of quiet strength. For myself, this was my impression of what Jesus was like as I was growing up. The obligatory lighter hair and blue eyes make for a historically inaccurate depiction, but the performance is amazing.

The first section (the birth and early life of Jesus, up to about 1:30 in) are slightly over-long and perhaps superfluous, but the remainder make up for it.

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The Contender (2000)
nearly perfect
15 January 2005
My god, they don't make movies like this anymore. Short of reaching back to the Golden Age of the 1970's, you will be hard pressed to find a film as airtight and exciting as this one.

The relentless script spits out scenes like hand grenades, coming in on the middle of the action and leaving before you can catch your breath. The editing is world-class, the acting is exceptional (especially by the present contender (ha!) for Brando's crown: Gary Oldman), and the directing should I say this? ...out of sight.

This movie is better than every Shakespeare In Love/Private Ryan/Gladiator/ Braveheart/Julia Roberts piece of fertilizer that get all the press nowadays. If you don't like this film, you don't like movies. So stay home and watch Fear Factor.

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3 laughs = 3/10
30 December 2004
This movie had three Hollywood legends, one brilliant comedian, and 3 bits that made me laugh.

One bit was the end-credits sequence where Ben Stiller talks to the camera.

Another was when we were introduced to Ben's possible offspring.

The funniest was when Ben Stiller was given the truth serum, and embarrassed himself at the party.

Every single minute of this film (besides those listed above) is a complete waste of film, and an embarrassment to the talent involved.

The script is flat, the direction sloppy and amateur, and the characters are 2 dimensional and lacking of ANY purpose.

Don't see this garbage.
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Road House (1989)
Another good script ruined by a hack director...
27 September 2004
...just like so many Hollywood productions. I'm just waiting for the day that the writers guild stands up and takes back what's theirs: authorship of a film.

Anyway, for the films detractors: try this: strip away the b.s. strip scenes, the homoerotic shots of Swayze, Jeff Healey's pathetic white-boy versions of classic blues songs, and what are you left with? A modern western, and a well-told one.

Of course it's easy to dismiss this film on the basis of all it's late-80's conventions (sappy music, the repeated 'trick' of starting almost EVERY scene with Jeff Healey wailing on his guitar), but if you look past the glitz to the black & white ink of the script, you'll see something much more substantial that was watered down by the assembly line-style production that ruins most Hollywood films.

I'd be interested to know how the original screen writer felt about the (obvious) touch-ups done to his/her script.

movie: 6/10

script: 8/10
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Dracula (1931)
Nosferatu is far superior.
16 September 2004
Despite its usual *four star* rating, this movie is poorly directed and has only adequate acting and a flimsy script. The fact that it was filmed in 1931 does not excuse it. Film editing and directing was already advanced at the time of its production (Nosferatu--the German version of Bram Stoker's novel--is a far superior film), so the only explanation can be that, despite our fond memories, this film is a flop.

Like the play that inspired it, action often takes place off-screen, with the characters offering expository to tell us what they're seeing. The story is hard to follow and director Tod Browning positions his camera like he's filming a staged play.

Legosi's performance is classic, but the ridiculous close-ups with off-target eye-lights ruin any atmosphere established in the opening scenes. 6/10
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Thirteen Days (2000)
Good script, acting, poor direction...
25 August 2004
This film has an excellent, suspenseful, nuanced script, and two great actors (Bruce Greenwood and the other fellow playing Bobbie K.) that suck us into the tense 14 days (where'd they get '13' from?) that made up the Cuban missle crisis. Unfortunately, this film suffers from two huge weaknessess. The director is unsure of himself, beginning the film with a very awkward (and obviously CGI) shot of a jet flying over Cuba that could've been handled in a briefing room discussion with the President (thus giving us the same information, but sparing us the gaudy CGI effects; B-grade acting of the pilot and overall 'shoe-horned in' feel of the whole scene. If this story was part of 'West Wing', the latter would've been filmed, and the results would've been far classier). Overall, the movie looks cheaply lit, and we are subjected to useless detours in Black & White that have NO pattern and serve NO purpose. All the scenes with Kevin Costner's family are useless and were probably added in by Costner as a way of 'fleshing out' his character. Speaking of Costner, he is the other thing that nearly ruins this otherwise fine film. The simple fact is this: Kevin Costner is not a good actor, and he never has been. His role in 13 Days is BY FAR the worst (or best?) example of this. His Boston accent is atrocious, and one can only sit back and admire an actor like Bruce Greenwood for not bursting out laughing every time Costner opens his mouth. In all honesty, I don't know how this guy still gets work, let alone the starring role in a fair-sized budgeted film like this. I think he deserves to be on the same has-been list as John Travolta (no more $20 M for him!) and Sly Stallone. No one likes Kevin's acting, but he just keeps on trucking like everyone does. Ah well, enjoy the script... 7/10
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