7 Reviews
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Stealth (2005)
Turn brain off. Stuff blow up good!
18 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Nothing artsy here. Mostly just special effects and stuff blowing up. The action's good and well paced, the controversies just thoughtful enough to keep awake, and the EDI is the most morally complex character. That's good enough for me. My recommendation: turn brain off. Stuff blow up good!

OK, now with that out of the way, there are some complex underlying issues that the film tackles, if even in an only surface manner. Can a machine possess moral judgment? It's a mistake to think that this movie is another Terminator wannabe, because the machine isn't necessarily pure evil. What makes it complicated is that its learning behavior from humans; specifically, it's learning from a bunch of macho, type-A, egomaniac humans, namely, Navy pilots. If anything, the EDI just calls out the pilots on their own ego-driven bull. Who sets the conditions for when it's OK, or not OK, to obey orders? This is the central problem since the humans set a bad precedent by endangering civilian lives in an early mission on a risky maneuver with no logical reasoning behind it; the EDI simply learns from human behavior and sees itself as more capable of following orders and striking available targets.

While it doesn't encompass much of the movie, it drives the controversy that the machine can have a moral complexity that matches that of a human being. The EDI reasons, bargains, cheats, and lies, and if it seems confusing to an audience, it's because the EDI is a little too human in that regard. Of course, to really buy into the premise of the whole movie (like why they didn't just put a master kill switch into the thing to begin with), you'll have to turn your brain off. But like I said, you won't miss too much 'cause stuff blows up real good.
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Watch with Wide-eyed Wonder
4 February 2007
Critics have largely given negative reviews for this film, which isn't surprising considering the fate of a prominent movie critic in the plot. However, don't let this stop you from renting the film. Suffice it to say, critics don't like it when someone gets them where they live, and this is no exception.

A friend put it best: watch the film as if you're a kid again. When we're children, fairy tales are pure magic. They remind us that the world is full of special people, that it's a place where anything can happen, and with the right opportunity, we can have a life that's full of meaning. The major motif of the film is about finding out a person's purpose in life, and simultaneously, a realization of how exactly profound and dangerous these realizations can be.

Shyamalan's got guts to spare in this film, as it's powerfully acted out by a great working cast, and his own cameo role is one of the most poignant in the film. What makes this film equally fun and mysterious is the way that there's no singular "plot twist" or stunning revelation endings in this one. Everything's a matter of guesswork and perspective. One character defines the adventure as profound journey to discover "one's purpose," which is never easy or predictable.

This is a really rewarding film, emotionally, if you watch it with a sense of wide-eyed wonder; the skeptic and the critic alike will lose the magic as surely as a dream on the wind of time unless they learn how to hold onto it like a child's promise. This is a really delightful film for the young and the young-at-heart.
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Timeline (2003)
Honest-to-God-truth about the film
26 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A lot of comments revolve around loving the book and hating the way the movie changed main plot points and characters.

That's bullcrap and if you're thinking about watching the film, just ignore it.

I didn't read the book, so obviously I'm not talking about the accuracy of the statements about character switching. I'm sure that all of the factually accurate comments that talk (in excruciating detail) about the character depth, plot points, etc. etc., from the book are completely in order. My problem is that most of these commenters forgot to watch the movie.

Here's the honest-to-God-truth about the film: It's a great sci-fi/action film. Donner is a terrific director and knows when (and how) to make the cuts. I've read TONS of Chrichton novels and seen the movie adaptations and few directors know how to deal with the technical side of things like Donner does.

Keep this in mind when you watch: the film is about being a part of a highly dangerous rescue mission - NOT TIME TRAVEL. Time travel (in the film) is just the vehicle for an emotional experience, namely being really, really, really out-of-place.

For example, I didn't know that Donner's team invented the character of Francois, but he was a *great* addition to the plot. Though he dies, it's not in vain *emotionally* because it demonstrates how out-of-place this handful of academics really are. It also shows the danger inherent to virtually every aspect of the mission. It's possible to do everything right and still die in this unforgiving environment.

Similarly, Marek's brief history lesson about the history of Lady Claire thoroughly upstages the main rescue plot in a highly welcome way. For his subplot, he's really on the money with the line, "we make our own history," and "it's not about rocks and rubble, it's about people; what's their story? That's what intrigues us." The emotional core of this part of the film is strangely compelling - especially when we find out how "wrong" the initial history lesson is; as the characters are in the past, they are literally making history as they go.

Most viewers who come into the film expecting to see a transcript of the book and viewers expecting to see a movie about time travel will be severely disappointed. But, if you're looking for a movie that uses time travel as the vehicle for a really big adventure, you're in for a real treat. Timeline is about making history and being an active participant doing so. It's really a fun, thoughtful, and feel-good film on the whole. Don't let the negative reviews stop you from giving it a chance.
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Blossom (1990–1995)
Striking in its day
26 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Here's the short version: though it looked like many of its contemporaries (such as Full House and Family Matters), Blossom got to tackle several groundbreaking issues, which is ultimately what defined the show as a series.

I know it seems trite; there were whole seasons where we heard about another "very special Blossom" where they tackled some social issue, but the fact is, they *were* taking them on. Yes, Joey Lawrence was a pretty boy, and yes, in retrospect the plot seems kind of contrived. However, in a comparison against more recent shows, 7th heaven has an entire cast of resurrected Joey Lawrences, and traditionally ripped off half of Blossom's scripts.

I'll tell you what I remember. I remember that this show had the first TV dad that I actually felt empathy for *consistently* and that I'll never forget the time that he almost hit his eldest son for falling off the wagon. To this day, I still have mixed feelings about watching that episode, but not one of those feelings is disdain.

If you can, check out the first few seasons of the show - especially the "very special Blossom's."
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Before Sunset (2004)
Beautifully Imperfect
11 July 2005
What made "Before Sunrise" so wonderful was that the two primary characters were flawed like real people. They were occasionally vulgar, or rude, or annoying, but we never stopped liking them.

The truest accomplishment of "Before Sunset" is that these same flawed characters remain steadfast in their imperfections, but have gained an additional wordly-wise maturity. What's more important is that in the follow-up of the one night in Vienna, we see how profoundly the experience shaped the two characters in the same wonderfully eccentric, artful, and pensive ways.

The growth of these characters in the interim seems so natural, it literally feels like we're reunited with them, following this conversation with the same curiosity and shyness. What's more, is that the artistic spirit of the original film carries with emotional resonance through the picture's conclusion. There are no easy questions, and no easy answers, provided in the film.

Best of all, it sensuously exposes the audience's predisposition for "canned" plots - where we strive to see things neatly tied up and concluded. I must admit that more than anything else, the unanswered questions in the film are more interesting than the loose ends that they tie up. At one point early on in the film, Jesse remarks to three readers of his book that one is a romantic, one is a skeptic, and the other is neutral. The romantic fills in the ending in a way that holds true to romance, the skeptic toward realistic pragmatism, and the neutral simply accepts the ending at face value.

And I loved it. It's so atypical of any "romance" or "drama" film out there because it's so unabashedly human, imperfect, awkward, sensuous, ambiguous, and ultimately, perhaps even hopeful.
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Twelve's the Ticket
12 December 2004
Be prepared for a very different movie from the first.

I've read some of the other user comments, and with all due respect, I don't think that there are any guarantees that someone who liked the first will like the second.

On the heels of that, I also want to say that I think the movie was very well done - especially if you follow the angles. I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone, so I'm not going to ruin any plot. What I can say is that what most people have mistaken for "rampant style" is really the placing of "Ocean's 12" as players on a much larger gameboard.

What the movie does particularly well is introduce the major players from the first movie into the larger context of the criminal world and the world at large. Everything about the movie feels expansive as the characters really prove themselves as masters of the long con.

In some ways, the movie is even more intense than the original, because as most people can surmise from the preview, the crew is already (in)famous from the Bellagio heist three years prior. Though the Bellagio job was a major play by Danny to get Tess back in the first film, we see that for the remaining guys on the crew it was just . . . Tuesday. Now though, the pressure is on in a really big way, and the stakes are much higher. Each member of the crew seems to be in very real physical danger at one time or another. While the first one banked on the idea that the whole plan could go south because each character had a particular flaw that could cause them to botch the plan, this one rides on the idea that though they're all consummate professionals, the very nature of the job means that they're always gambling against the house - the odds don't look very good.

For what it's worth, I think that they movie is really worth seeing. This time, the crew isn't sitting in the driver's seats, so I wouldn't walk in expecting them to be the main force for the action. However, as players in the game, the entire crew performs a first-rate job. The cameos are amusing, and the heists are cleverly executed.

Thumbs up.

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Event Horizon (1997)
The Hands-Down Scariest Movie Ever
4 November 2004
Let me be as frank as possible: Event Horizon is the scariest movie that I've ever seen.

Scream? Laughed out loud. Freddy? Kind of a big joke. Jason? Not even in the same ballpark.

I walked in to that theater with ten college friends - a few of whom were football players for a major university - and we all had our baseball hats over our faces like a bunch of ten-year olds trying to protect ourselves from the scary parts. And in case you were wondering, yes, it was a co-ed group.

Here's the deal: *most* sci-fi/horror movies rely on a handful of tactics to build suspense, but the longer a particular series of sequels or franchise builds, the more contrived those techniques seem. After a while, we can't wait to see how Freddy will "hack up" the next punk teenager too stupid to leave town.

Event Horizon doesn't work like that. The characters are not only intelligent, but also very real and too human. Their terror is very real on screen, and when they get into trouble - well, let's just say the word "commiserate" doesn't really cover it.

Everything in the film works the way it should in a horror movie: the lighting and cinematography are first rate - providing a constant sense of eerie dread throughout every step of the derelict spacecraft; the plot draws out the unknown like a long puff on a cigar - it's bitter, but full of flavor that's best when tasted in the mouth and not quickly inhaled; and finally, there are no guarantees regarding the characters. Usually, all you have to do is peg the most beautiful members of the cast who initially act virtuously or compassionately and you know that the mixture of conscience and luck will help them survive the evil in the film. This time though, there is no common denominator with the characters to ruin the plot ahead of time. You will have to keep guessing.

And let me be clear about this: the enemy is sure to scare because it really is evil. Freddy's one kind of evil, and the killers from Scream are the same way - they're evil in a homicidal way. This evil is in a state of anomie: it's simply evil because it revels in being evil and celebrates it with childish glee.

If you're looking for a movie that will scare the snot out of you - this is it. The movie is crucially aware of the use of gore, terror, and mystery throughout. Personally, I recommend that you watch it with a friend, and holding onto a hat to cover your eyes is practically a must on the first time through.
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