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Van Helsing (2016)
Being a fan of his plays I thought that perhaps with Neil Labute at the helm this would be an interesting take on the vampire genre, but alas, it's even worse than most. Stilted dialogue, cheap production values, halfway through the first episode I was already fidgeting and eager to move on to something else.
Want something better on SyFy? Watch The Expanse.
Better recent Sci-Fi in general? Check out Humans (BBC/AMC co-production).
Looking for a vampire fix? See the original UK TV show Ultraviolet, the original BBC version of Being Human, or HBO's True Blood.
Whatever you do, don't waste your time with this.
Person of Interest (2011)
Absolutely Ingenious Premise Ruined With Amateur Scripting
15 minutes in I thought this was going to be one of my favorite shows in years, but that enthusiasm drained with every passing minute from there until the end.
All the talent that Taraji Henson (Hustle & Flow) and Michael Emerson (LOST) bring to the table could not compensate for Caviezel's wooden stilted delivery.
Worst of all though is the writing which presumes a brain-dead audience that requires every single plot detail to be verbally spoon-fed. Even the paint by numbers procedurals like the CSI and Law & Order franchises don't feel the need to talk down to the viewers to this degree.
--- "You have no idea who these people are!"
Camera does a close up of a badge pulled from downed figure.
"I do now cops". ---
"Character X is the only person who can tell us who is after them".
5 minutes and 3 scenes later...
"I've got a lead".
"It had better be on Character X because he's the only person that can tell us who is after them". ---
I can't even count the number of times that this show was guilty of exactly the same thing, needing to MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE that the viewer didn't lose track of what is happening, even when there wasn't anything remotely obscure, complex, or unclear.
With some great actors and a clever premise I can forgive a lot. What I can't forgive is a show which insults my intelligence.
Effective, thought provoking, and mis-marketed.
Not much to say that hasn't been already the critics are right, it is an effective slick movie that may be a bit slight as far as character development but doesn't suffer too badly for it. This is a movie far more about ideas than people and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Excellent direction from Soderbergh, masterful cinematography, and while there are a few logical mis-steps, the writing more than makes up for that by confounding expectations more than once in truly creative and credible ways.
Unfortunately trailers have many seeking an action thrill-ride, when what it delivers for the most part is a slow boiling suspenseful drama. When will Hollywood learn that setting expectations that don't match the product may sell a few extra tickets in the beginning, but hurts word of mouth and user reviews which are needed for the success of a film beyond the opening weekend.
Refreshingly Authentic Look At A Real World BDSM Relationship
For those without a particular interest in the subject matter, the movie is deserving of perhaps a 6.5/10.
On the other hand it is exceptional with regards to it's treatment of S&M within the context of a genuinely loving relationship. Just about every aspect of dynamic touched upon within the film will ring true, or at the very least be recognizable to anyone that has more than a passing familiarity with BDSM.
Easily the best non-documentary film treatment of the subject to date, and I've seen many.
Not as entertaining or clever as The Secretary, but absolutely more genuine and reflective of kink in the real world overall.
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
So Dated It Almost Plays Like An Exploitation Flick...
Please do not be drawn in by the high rating and outstanding cast to waste your time with this absolutely laughable film by modern standards.
The portrayal of virtually every character in this film is so comically exaggerated it borders on b-movie exploitation and prevents the movie from ever achieving even the slightest impact dramatically.
The "action" scenes have all the power of an elementary school stage play and not one line delivered by the fine actors ever strikes a truly emotional chord in the entire film.
I love Plummer, Connery, and Caine but even their combined talent cannot help the movie find redemption with a viewer that possesses remotely modern sensibilities.
It simply cannot hold up as a "classic" the way even far older films like Casablanca, Sunset Blvd., or those by Sergio Leone, Hitchcock, Welles, Lumet, etc. all can and do.
When I think about the fact that this was made 3 years AFTER The Godfather, and the very same year as One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, I am actually downright embarrassed for everyone that participated in the making of this.
Far more worthy of your time than countless other wide releases of the last year.
I think it's a terrific shame that this movie never saw a wider release when it was at least as good, and in some cases MUCH better than, all of the following action films released in the last 12 months:
Shoot 'Em Up
Body of Lies
Pride and Glory
It's by no means a "must-see" film, but even so, it is still a solid, entertaining, and well paced action/thriller/drama.
Well directed, well acted, and well scripted, it definitely deserved more than the practically non-existent distribution it received.
While it is certainly not half the role that Rourke had to work with in The Wrestler, his part was still well played and had gravitas despite his mediocre Native American accent.
Diane Lane was good as always.
Thomas Jane was a pleasant surprise. I expect to see more of him in years to come.
Meanwhile Joseph Gordon-Levitt was absolutely transcendent in his portrayal of an insecure white trash sociopath gone wildly off the rails. With the right casting I have little doubt he has many awards waiting for him down the road.
Despite a few minor flaws, this is absolutely worth a watch if you enjoy gritty action movies that don't insult your intelligence, and rely more on character development than CGI.
Waste of time and rental!
I am astounded at the positive reviews for this thoroughly uninspiring film.
Often with foreign films I skip over reviews that complain about slow pace and seeming "absence of action" as many of the best international films do not live up to the Western Hollywood model of cinematic storytelling.
I enjoy the frequent artfulness and lack of cliché in the foreign film arena. I enjoy that many foreign films don't tie things up in a neat palatable little bow.
That said, this particular film offered no redemptive value for the time I wasted watching it. No meaningful character development, no engaging story arc, no way to get emotionally involved with any of the characters on screen.
Synopsis: A bunch of emotionally immature uptight prejudiced colonials mistreat their slaves, and a little girl gets hurt by her only friend when the "house-boy" finally gets fed up and takes his abuse out on her.
While the above paragraph is poignant and dramatic, this movie will bore you while playing out the scenario. I was so unengaged that it took three sittings to finish it, and I wouldn't have even done that were it not for the positive ratings.
Unless you have an academic interest in the period I strongly suggest steering clear of this one.