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sarastro7

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506 reviews in total 
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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
I don't like it, 24 May 2016
5/10

From the POV of a Shakespeare purist like myself, this version of Henry VI was profoundly unsatisfying. They have cut out so much material that it would be better if they hadn't made this at all. For one thing, they have cut out most of Joan la Pucelle, but inserted a highly distasteful graphic depiction of her being burned. What is this, Luc Besson's "The Messenger"?

The BBC Collection version of these plays perform them in a humorous way that the text perfectly supports. But here we get only stark, cynical realism. Shakespeare's work and words are the pinnacle of wonder; of poetry. "The Hollow Crown" is devoid of any wonder or poetry. Why use Shakespeare when the producers clearly want something completely different? This is a deconstruction of Shakespeare, and it is, in short, awful. What a waste of great poetry, great actors and budget money. Is it done in the name of accessibility? Do they think that this will make Shakespeare more palatable to ordinary people? Well, if they are right, I despair on behalf of the ordinary people.

3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Could have been great, but ruined by botched ending, 19 May 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Huge fan of the comics here. As X-Men: Apocalypse began, the opening scenes instantly took my breath away. DAMN good!! Apocalypse's subsequent awakening (due to the meddling of Moira MacTaggart!) and search for his four horsemen were also pretty great. I loved seeing Scott Summers and Jean Grey. All the great stuff with Magneto was also nearly perfect. The movie builds up to its climax for a long time, and it's all good (though not quite perfect) - but once the climactic events begin in the second half of the movie, it all goes off track. First Apocalypse sends all the world's nuclear weapons into space - a cool sequence... but, we think he is going to use them; use the raw power they comprise. Instead he just throws them into space, so humanity can't use them. Even though he clearly wants to destroy most of the world. Doesn't make sense; it deflates the inflated audience expectations. Next, in the true climactic fight, nobody's motivations are addressed in the least. Magneto changes his mind, and soon after some of the horsemen do, too, but we don't hear why! We hear no reasoning of any kind! It's a fight in which the good guys practically only win the day because most of the bad guys decide to switch sides for no adequately explained reason! It's as if the movie just suspended its storytelling, gave up on all characterization and just relied on nothing but visual spectacle to wow the audience and carry the climax.

Sadly, it doesn't work. Another of the main things that doesn't work is when Jean Grey "phoenixes out". The flame bird looks great and all, but the whole point of that character is that she is transformed by the change - and she wasn't! Not in any way at all! This was really annoying! I was so excited about what she would become now; whether she would break out as Dark Phoenix or at least just Phoenix, but nothing at all happened except amping up her power level. There was no effect on her character. That is almost as disappointing to me as the last time they botched the Phoenix story, namely in X-Men: The Last Stand, where they just had her standing around and doing nothing. WTF?!

X-Men: Apocalypse had too many characters. Storm and Psylocke in particular got hardly any real development; we didn't hear their motivations and except for Storm at the very end, they didn't get a chance to be heroes. Mystique also had very little to do in this movie. She brought news of Magneto's change, and she brought Nightcrawler with her, but she didn't have much else of consequence to do. Her power level was too low to influence the final battle. They should have done more with her, and shown us what connection she had with Stryker, as per the end scene of the previous movie. A lot of the problems with this movie seem to be caused by having had to make it in a damn hurry. They should have waited a year and spent the time working out a better story.

Still and all, with all the action and cool characters, this is still a damn good-looking and entertaining superhero movie. I still rate it an 8 out of 10, even though it's best in the beginning and just gets weaker from then on. A good thing I haven't mentioned yet is the music. I really thought the music worked very, very well in this movie.

X-Men: First Class (2011) was an astonishingly great movie; 10 out of 10. Days of Future Past (2014) was also fantastic; so many great details and a very cool and complex story: 9 out of 10 stars! Sadly, X-Men: Apocalypse is yet another step down from that level; it's a furious chase movie with a weak plot and villains whose motivations aren't explored in any detail, and some of whom (Magneto!) changes allegiance for no apparent reason. Such a shame! I really expected better from Simon Kinberg after the extraordinarily well-made two previous X-Men movies.

Time Rush (2016)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Bad acting, but good action and a great twist!, 15 May 2016
6/10

No, this movie isn't going to win any awards, esp. because of its frequently atrocious acting and dialogue, BUT, those things are just placeholders. The real substance is the martial arts scenes and great stunt choreography on the one side, and the pretty astounding sci-fi/time viewing twist on the other. Ambitiously, this movie is trying to be "Memento" by being based around a plot about an experimental drug which simultaneously makes you forget the past and foresee the future! From a sci-fi point of view, it's not bad at all, even if it does seem to me to end with a logically impossible (but illuminating and satisfying) paradox. This is a pretty good and worthwhile movie if you are a fan of both martial arts movies and sci-fi, like I am, so I actually think this movie is impressive - and, of course, underrated.

My rating: 6 stars out of 10. I might have given it 7 if it didn't have so many repeating scenes. But it was nicely put together under the circumstances. And very cool moves by writer/star Dean Alexandru! Sadly for this movie, it is too smart for its usual target audience of action movie fans, who consequently give it a very poor rating. You actually need to have your brain switched on when watching it. Otherwise you're not gonna get it.

19 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
Bat-boring, super-disappointing non-delivery, 23 March 2016
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just as with people who liked the retread that was The Force Awakens, I just cannot comprehend at all that so many fan boys are trying to convince themselves that BvS is a good (or God forbid, great) movie. It is a *terrible* movie, shock-full of absurd shortcomings. You never feel anything at all for any of the characters; the storytelling is completely horrid and unconvincingly self-important. All characters besides the two mains feel like they're only there as brief vignettes; there is zero sense of their being part of an actual, on-going narrative. And I'm saying this as a long-time comic book reader and collector; as a big superhero fan. Here's just a few of the movie's many problems (and yes, there are a few spoilers here):

- Was Batman's stealing the kryptonite a part of Luthor's plan? It didn't seem to be, yet it played a key part in Luthor's plan to pit Batman against Superman. So, huh? I call that a plot hole.

- How did Luthor learn Superman's secret identity? This wasn't explained.

- How did Batman find Martha Kent in the undisclosed location? Not explained.

- So many story elements were just included as throw-aways, incl. the big thing at the end. That's completely meaningless. And speaking of the final fight, Superman should not have been able to carry that spear. He was vulnerable to it; there were two other major characters who could have carried it without being affected by it; it's more logical that one of them would have done it. Only, if they had, we wouldn't have gotten that nonsensical shock-value throw-away ending.

Almost nothing worked in this movie. Mindless action, no characterization, ridiculous pacing, overwrought stylism with no substance. Who the hell likes this sort of stuff? I liked about two things about this movie. I liked the early sequence with the flash-back to Metropolis being destroyed by Zod's people in the first movie; it was visually spectacular in a way that worked. The other thing I liked was Luthor's overall character arc. He pits the two mains against each other (thus providing a proper explanation for why they fight, which really needed one!) and he's aware of the more cosmic implications of what's going on, unlike the other characters. However, I didn't particularly like Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of him. I don't have anything against Eisenberg (I loved him in The Social Network), but the way he played Luthor as some kind of insecure, twitchy psycho just seemed stilted and artificial to me. Neither he nor any of the other characters, except Wonder Woman, felt anywhere near real or relatable. The romance between Clark and Lois also fell flat; we are introduced to it in the beginning of the movie, but apart from two kisses along the way, there is no feeling whatsoever in the course of the movie that these two are in a relationship. All the characters just feel dead.

It's a shame. I was hoping to like this movie. I wasn't overly fond of Man of Steel, but I didn't hate it, either; I rated it a 6 out of 10. BvS is twice as bad and can garner only a 3 (EDIT: Downgraded to a 2. This DC Murderverse movie is just incredibly terrible). I never thought we would get a movie compared with which Man of Steel looks like a wholesome, competent, better story, but that is what we have gotten. Most people will agree with this appraisal in the fullness of time, no doubt.

27 out of 52 people found the following review useful:
Wow, 7 March 2016
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow - a few days after airing, this episode alone has 48 user comments! Many of them 1-star reviews because of anger about Lexa's death. Yes, Lexa was an amazing character. And yes, when she was shot I also went, "Puh-lease! You can't do that!". BUT, what all the fan-girls don't seem to get at all is that her death was *necessary to the plot development*. It needed to happen in order to reveal all the stuff about the AI and which role it has been playing ever since the end of the world. And this was a major revelation that I immediately found to be worth it. The big sci-fi idea trumped the beloved character.

From being very silly in the first season, this show has grown to become pretty damn awesome and pretty damn unpredictable. I salute the show-runners for their courage and integrity. This is one of the best episodes yet.

I love the show for the resolve that the characters have. And the speed with which the plot evolves. This is a world filled with hard choices, and these characters grow with the tasks and make those choices. This is very different from the extremely boring and wishy-washy way in which characters behave in most "realistic" TV shows. On top of this the plot is slowly beginning to explain the premise of the show, giving us a lot of the background material that was omitted in the first season.

This is a heck of an exciting sci-fi show and it's just getting better and better. Every fan of good sci-fi should support it.

0 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Crashed and burned in four episodes..., 18 February 2016
4/10

I completely agree with the two previous reviewers. This show started out as something that could be exciting; something that might have had an edge - but it quickly turned into predictable, toothless, phoned-in fare. What is the point of having the Devil as the main character when he has changed into a normal nice person? There is none. No edge, nothing provocative - the only thing left is a lot of sexist sexual innuendo, and that has already gotten old.

Not wasting any more time one this show. Going back to re-watching Constantine.

My ratings of Lucifer: Ep. 1: 7/10 Ep. 2: 6/10 Ep. 3: 6/10 Ep. 4: 4/10

13 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
A good 'Hamlet', but not a great one, 15 October 2015
7/10

I just returned from the NTLive "Hamlet" production starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It was an enjoyable experience that I can recommend to any Shakespeare fan. But while it was good, it was not great. Speeches were rearranged, certain words were "updated", and the production was generally too shouty and melodramatic to convey the proper poetry and pensiveness of Shakespeare's text.

There were some good ideas and also some less good ideas, and as a whole the impression was not as professional and tight as are the productions that the Royal Shakespeare Company presides over. The actors made several small mistakes here and there, and it was not always clear whether a changed word was intentional or just misspeaking. Some words were intentionally changed; "yeoman service" had become "faithful service" and "as for my means, I shall husband them" had become "as for my men, I shall marshal them". There were maybe a dozen instances like this (oh yes, I remember one more: when Hamlet talks to his mother, and Shakespeare writes "I the matter will reword, which madness would gambol from", Cumberbatch says "I the matter will repeat, which madness would fly from" - decidedly less literary!), and it doesn't make sense to me to make such minor changes. After all, it's not like there are great numbers of audiences who will suddenly understand the play much better based on about a dozen changed words in a furiously paced three-hour production. To my mind, it's better to retain Shakespeare's words (the text cannot be improved upon, and it's a fool's errand to try), and make audiences wonder about them and perhaps want to look them up, rather than to try with such half-hearted efforts to "help" people understand it more immediately.

One of the best things about the production was the role of the Danish tin soldier that Hamlet took on to demonstrate his madness. He dressed up, played the drum and ensconced himself in a toy castle, which I thought was a great way to bring out his "antic disposition".

But overall, Cumberbatch's acting seemed rather too hot-headed and raving to put across any particularly memorable or sensitive portrayal of the title character. The climactic duel scene was also a bit messy and strange, landing this production on 7 stars out of 10 in my estimation.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good movie, 20 September 2015
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am compelled to review this movie because it is very underrated and has a lot of negative reviews. I don't understand the negativity at all. If you have any interest in math, for instance, this is a good movie for that alone. I didn't see anything bad about the acting, directing or dialog. Perfectly fine and engaging feel-good movie about troubled people and how they deal. No doubt a good adaptation of the book (which I haven't read).

Several people express confusion at why Alba's character is thrown out of her home by her mom because her father got sick. This is not directly explained in the movie, but I think it is extremely clear: it's because her mom wants her daughter to have a life of her own. Not to be tied down taking care of the sick dad. I don't really see anything very strange about that.

The movie is adorable and emotionally effective most of the time. Where I do start to get a slight problem with this movie is towards the end. The whole ax thing got over-dramatic, the reinstatement after the firing was not explained (although I suspect it probably was in the book - clearly it had something to do with the hotshot lawyer mom of one of the pupils), and the guy's comment about being her "bathroom monitor" was a very strange reaction, clearly only supposed to create artificial tension until he changed his mind seconds later. Add to this that the ending was perhaps a tiny bit too syrupy. But somehow it makes sense; most of the elements do combine to make a well-rounded whole.

I enjoyed the movie and I continue to be shocked by how off-putting some people found it. I guess a lot of the negative reviewers are just aping other negative reviewers in order to seem like they are cool. Memo: People who ape other people's opinions are never cool.

18 out of 36 people found the following review useful:
Not much of a Fantastic Four movie..., 5 August 2015
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am a long-time comics reader and collector with a great love for the Fantastic Four. The negative buzz that the production of this movie has suffered through for the last year did have me worried, but I was not a hater; I went into this movie prepared to like it if it were good.

Sadly, it was a big disappointment. Deeply deficient on the story level as well as the character level. Some of the problems:

- Sue isn't even on the team that goes exploring in the other dimension; she has been replaced by Victor Von Doom. She just gets hit by an energy backlash as the others return, and in this back-handed "ad hoc" way receives her powers. They could at least have addressed in a few lines of dialogue WHY Sue wasn't going to be one of the "astronauts". Instead it's just a boys' club. Also, Sue and Reed never get together; there is no hint of a romance between them, aside from a single line of innuendo from Reed at one of their early encounters.

- Ben isn't a pilot. He's not even from Yancy Street. He's not part of the team, but is only called in to participate in the experiment because he is Reed's old friend.

- Johnny is hardly in the movie for the first twenty minutes or so, and never gets much development of his own. Is he a mechanic? What can he do, besides weld? He doesn't get any real or memorable character moments. Neither do the others, for that matter.

- Reed reads like a one-trick-pony who has no other project than the dimension machine. What else do they do at the Baxter Building? Or at "Central City" at the end. Reed is supposed to be smart; supposed to be Mr. Fantastic - he is the core of the team, and any story involving him should be intelligent. This script very much isn't.

There is little meaningful interaction, chemistry or bonding between the characters, and the very end of the story (when the military just gives them what they demand for no reason) doesn't make any sense. The movie as a whole is dark and humorless and almost as unlike the FF comic as it is possible to be.

One of the greatest "huh?!" moments is when Sue helps the military find Reed. Sue is opposed to being a super-soldier for the military, but still she apparently accepts that they've turned both Ben and Johnny into super-soldiers, and uncritically helps the military find Reed - when in fact she should be angry about everything they've done. Bunch of nonsense. They're probably trying to show the team's early days, before they understand what's going on, but instead the screenwriters are exposing the characters as dupes who are easily manipulated. This script is a disaster.

The main actors, in and of themselves, are not bad. But, for one thing, they are too old. Late twenties, early thirties, for characters who are largely supposed to be high schoolers. It's another thing that sadly doesn't work at all. Also, the way they behave towards each other: They act like moody teens, nonchalant, not looking at each other when they speak to each other, not relating anywhere near naturally to each other. This, frankly, is perhaps what I find most toe-cringing about the movie.

In retrospect, this movie actually does look like a half-hearted effort to just put something out there, no matter what, without doing anything remotely artistic to it. I'm sorry to speak so negatively about a lot of people's presumably hard work, but this really turned into a bad movie. I don't know exactly who's to blame, but I hope they learn a lesson from this and won't repeat these mistakes again later.

What a shame, and what a dud.

3 stars out of 10.

0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Probably won't watch any more of it, 3 June 2015
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first episode of "Stitchers" is a guide-book on how to write television that will be popular with a tiny youth segment and considered insufferable by anyone else. While I applaud that sci-fi movies and TV shows are beginning to center more on the mysteries of the brain, this pseudo-crime show about entering dead people's brains to glean memories and impressions that will solve the case-of-the- week, annoyingly comes right on the heels of iZombie, which has an identical basic premise (plus a zombie). And while I dropped iZombie after two episodes (it was already becoming formulaic), Stitchers is not even as good as that.

Kirsten, the main character, is appallingly arrogant. I kept waiting for a big reveal that she was really from the future or another planet or something, because she didn't seem like any kind of believable person at all. Turns out she's basically got a variant of Asperger's Syndrome, which for no reason that makes sense is here called "temporal dysplasia" or "dysphasia" or something. There is potential in a show about a protagonist who is emotionally challenged (watch Scorpion to see a fair version thereof) and must gradually discover what emotions feel like, but this just seems to be a throwaway element, included only to feature a somewhat stylish and distinct main character (reminding - and not in a good way - of the Bionic Woman remake, and, of course, Dollhouse. What is this fad with having human women look and behave like robots?). At the end, when she talked about waking up to emotional experiences, I thought there could be a cool idea in there, but then they go an ruin it with a sudden wild coincidence about her long- lost father being the next case. Sheesh. When will current writers and producers learn that sci-fi is mainly about ideas and doesn't have to be about character all the time? Character-driven stories are mainstream, and we don't need to impose the tired dictates of mainstream material on intelligent genre plots. Intelligent characters and audiences care about IDEAS and ISSUES and not just about their sodding family members or old flames (of course they care about their family, too, but THAT'S NOT THE STORY! In sci-fi, the story is about some "novum"; something new and unexpected and unusual which commands the attention of the protagonist).

The other aspects of the show were quite awful as well, from the hilariously unrealistic motormouth dialog and to the ridiculously attractive and ridiculously young cast that occupied every role, incl. those of authority. This stuff is just nowhere near halfway believable.


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