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Among the Finest Mini-series
One of the best mini-series to grace the small screen. Told through span of several generations of writer Authur Haley's ancestors. The depiction of the slave era is at times hard to watch but should be seen by all. The stellar cast brings both young (at that time) talent and many veteran stars of both the big and small screen. Both Levar Burton, and John Amos bring to life the story of Mandinka tribesman Kunta Kinte who is taken into chains from his African homeland to Colonial America and sold into slavery.
This series does not hold back either the depiction of native African life nor the language and violence of slave life in America. If you have a younger audience you might want to talk some about the content but nothing is presented in the series that is not done to the highest standard and quality.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
No Fate But What We Make
This is in my opinion the best film Cameron has done. Few sequels live up to the name or hype as Terminator 2 did. It took a solid story from the original film and made it even better. To me this film feels much like the first two Superman movies which were filmed essentially together. Although Terminator 2 was done years later it gives you the impression they were done together.
The sizable differences between the two films was a radical jump in CGI created effects. Stan Winston returned as well for the physical and makeup effects and had a much bigger budget to work with that is noticeable between the two films.
The story centers again on a older but more emotionally hardened Sarah Connor and her teen son who is the latest target of the central machine mind Skynet. Arnold returns again as the Terminator but his rival this time is a advanced machine whose relentless pursuit of young John Connor leaves a path of spectacular destruction across the city of Los Angeles.
Another new character introduced is the brilliant computer engineer Miles Dyson played by Joe Morton and along with Edward Furlong provides some of the best acting seen in either an action film or Science Fiction. The fate of mankind hinges on which machine finds John Connor first and what decisions are made after.
The film has stood very well the test of time and the effects are not outdated as you would think. Depictions of nuclear war L.A. are among the best ever done and the color palettes used throughout the film have created a spectacular transfer to the Blu-ray format.
The movie has only about 20 minutes of slow moments and the rest is one growing cascade of action and tension. The film is well paced and the story is one of the finest examples of Sci-Fi action we have.
A Titan of film making
James Cameron re-invents the epic big cast disaster films of the 70's with grand style. To begin with as a Titanic buff since my early childhood I was astonished the first time I saw this film. The extreme accuracy and detail of the ship is extraordinary. The original shipbuilding firm Harland and Wolff participated in the construction of the sets and models used in the film. When you see this film you are seeing the Titanic as it was on sailing day.
As for the story, both Dicaprio and Winslet provide excellent performances as Jack and Rose. Their star crossed story is deeply interwoven in the Titanic mythology that is both fact and legend. Through their experiences we are allowed to explore the Titanic in ways never presented on film. Many of the ship's iconic locations are seen in the film and the recent Blu-ray edition brings the film into glorious high definition 1080hd format.
Cameron's excellent use of lighting, camera angles and visual effects allow us to feel almost there both visually and emotionally during the final phases of the film that come close in timing to the actual sinking. The film leaves us both sad and hopeful at the same time and few films provide us with such dual emotions.
If you like love stories, this film is for you, if you have any interest in the Titanic or disaster movies then the film will appeal to those audiences as well. Most importantly it is a entertaining ride by one of the best film makers of this generation and I recommend anyone to give the film a try and judge for yourself.
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
A True Gem
This film accurately depicts the lead up to and attack on Pearl Harbor. The scale of the sets and intensity of the battle sequence stands well the test of time. Although the 2001 film Pearl Harbor had better visual effects the accuracy of Tora Tora Tora has no equal. The presentation of both sides of the battle adds to the depth of this film, allowing us to see both the Japanese motivations for the attack and American confidence that Pearl Harbor was beyond Japan's reach. Unlike many historical dramas that mix fictional characters into an actual event, this movie presents only real life persons giving a almost documentary feel within the film itself. Anyone who enjoys the World War II era will enjoy this film. It can be watched with younger audiences as well since the level of violence does not depict the level gore associated with many war films such as Saving Private Ryan, and Full Metal Jacket.
The Terminator (1984)
Among the Best
The Terminator launched an era of sci-fi action and endless copy cats that never lived up to the originals. The film sets a lone soldier Kyle Reese who is sent back through time to protect a woman Sarah Connor who has a important destiny in the future. His opponent is a half human half machine programmed to kill Sarah at all cost. The film is both quite violent yet blends a romantic story within it's plot that is touching and central to the story. For a film of the middle 1980's the visual effects are still good yet somewhat dated but when this film first appeared they were amazing. Stan Winston was a master of animatronics and makeup effects and his work shines here. Arnold Schwarzenegger comes off well as the emotionless machine and is well balanced by Micheal Biehn's passionate Reese. Linda Hamilton completes the trio and does solid acting as a confused and scared Sarah Connor who finds her world and reality crumbling as the film progresses toward it's conclusion. This film defined Arnold as action star and coined one of the most well known one liners in Hollywood history.
Rock of Ages (2012)
Blast from the Past
This is my first review. OK let's start up front and say this film is predictable. Boy meets girl and sparks fly but it is set to a fantastic soundtrack that marks the height of the 80's rock era. Although not a big musical fan this movie was very entertaining and surprisingly Tom Cruise comes off quite well as Stacee Jaxx( Axel Rose/Bon Jovi). The Sherri and Drew story arc is not as strong as it should be but the Stacee and Constance plot is a hoot through most of the film.
If you are looking for a serious film don't watch this because it takes nothing serious which is why the film works so well. Those who grew up in the era(myself included) will love the selection of songs if you are a fan of the hair-band music. The actors do well but not perfect at singing the classic songs. Alec Baldwin is funny and the supporting cast was solid. If you want to take a trip down the 80's rock era lane give this film a try and you will likely be washed in the nostalgia of a fantastic era of music.