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All the 1 reviews are bandwagon. It's not that bad. 5 1/2 *
Okay, a crap script. Serious problem with that. But some good acting, beautiful sets, nicely shot, good special effects. If you want to see a fantasy movie, and you have seen all the good ones, this is worth a spin. Loads of action. Well choreographed. The trailer movies on the DVD imply you are an idiot man who likes to watch movies for the boobs and violence, which doesn't set the mood, I admit. But there is no exploitation of women in this movie, and some of the women even take up swords. So, okay, this isn't Shakespeare. If fact, prepare thyself for character arcs that are vapid and almost theme-less. It's basically a medieval/supernatural revenge tale. But if you're just looking for a no-brainer fix of non-dragon fantasy and action, especially on a weekend afternoon, you will enjoy this. Jason S. is excellent.
Airlords of Airia (2013)
Visuals worth a look. Clumsy, goofy story, but who cares?
This little film doesn't ask to be taken seriously, so when someone says this is full of bad acting, they're kind of missing the point. It is a gorgeous-looking film with a campy, clumsy little story. The acting is all overblown -- they all know they are hamming it up, which fits perfectly with the rest of the film. In terms of the story-telling, as short as it is, it has long stretches of exposition -- the voice-over just telling us the story. Telling, not showing, is the cardinal sin of narrative art for the last hundred and some years, but I personally don't get worked up over it. I don't need to be "shown" a lot of "concrete details" so I can be "immersed" in a story. Yes, I like being immersed, but I'm fine just gawking at gorgeous visuals while the director and actors goof around with a piece of fluff story line. So, if you want to watch this little film, accept that it is kind of goofy by current standards of narrative art, and try not to judge it for that. You can just enjoy it for what it is, if you want. It's basically just a little short about a steam-punk air battle, and it's meant to be humorous.
Cosmic Origins 3D (2011)
Finally, Good "Science and Faith"
This documentary explores science and faith, using interviews with Nobel and Templeton prize winners, as well as physicists from Harvard, Cambridge and other universities, who are not only top people in their field but also sympathetic to matters of faith. I've seen so many of these documentaries on science and faith, and they are mostly just junk. They are always light on facts, and they often discredit faith by being intellectually disgraceful or even dishonest. This one, however, not only has the "utmost respect" for the methods of modern physics, but it also goes deep into contemporary physics and its history. Rarely do I watch a science show that tells me something I didn't already know, and this show had lots of bits I hadn't heard before. The animations and graphics were also well done, and the editing really made the ideas flow together. This is an important documentary. It will help skeptics see that the position of faith can be intellectually coherent, and it will help shore up the faithful.
Person of Interest: Baby Blue (2012)
This was one of the best episodes of the series, really great television. It was complex, with two main story lines and a half a dozen or more sub-plots, all smoothly interwoven. Twists and turns. Great pacing. Exciting but not crowded or rushed. A baby is kidnapped, and more or less unrelated to that, a crime boss is released from prison, and his life is threatened. I won't say more, except that every character in the episode is tested and strained almost to the breaking point. It was great to see a wider range of emotions than usual in the two male leads, Caviezal and Emerson. Just a great script. I'm going to follow the writer's credits and look for more that he or she has done. And, as a Veronica Mars fan, it's great to see Enrico Colantoni in this.
Destination Planet Negro (2013)
Humorous, enjoyable spoof and satire
Enjoyable satire of race in America, told as a spoof of 1950's science fiction B-movies.
I saw this twice in the studio in Kansas where a lot of the filming was done. I liked it. Laughed numerous times. Learned stuff.
No budget, but good script, good story, decent to good acting, and pleasant low-budge rockets and special effects.
The story is of W. E. B. DuBois and other prominent African-Americans deciding in 1939 that the only way to solve the race problem in America is for black people to colonize Mars. They plan to make it the Negro Planet. Scouts are sent on a rocket (with radioactive peanut fuel designed by George Washington Carver) to explore, but they fall into a time warp and end up in our contemporary America.
The explorers have various off-beat adventures showing how race relations have improved in some ways but remained toxic in other ways.
Some of the scenes should have been cut to serve the story, but evidently director/writer/actor Willmott decided to place commentary over story at times.
One of my favorite lines was a little throw-away remark when one of the explorers was told that the N-word has been taken out of Huckleberry Finn, because the N-word is so offensive.
The pilot says something to effect that he finds slavery more offensive, and yet you left that part in.
A lot of scenes in the movie show the weird relationship between the way we talk about race and the realities of race.
Other parables and allegories like that throughout. Definitely worth an hour and a half of your time. Reminded me a little of The Brother from Another Planet. It's funny and a think-piece.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
It's worse than you think.
Oh, gosh, just lost two hours and five bucks. I thought, how bad can Jupiter Ascending be? I'll put up with a mediocre plot to get that eye candy. Right?
Oh my stars, every minute was a disappointment. From script to acting to editing, all terrible. Immense plot holes, one after another. The action was over the top, with the dudes dodging tens of thousands of shots and fireballs. In between action there was long, dull exposition. The movie didn't earn one honest emotion. The romance was clichéd and unbelievable. Scenes seemed crammed, chopped off. Everything stunk, except the eye candy (which went by too fast) and Eddie Redmayne (who was super). I got five bucks worth of laughs out of it making fun of it with my friend. Just offering this to save you the disappointment. It's worse than you think. And I'm the kind of guy who usually likes bad sci fi if it's done stylishly and beautifully. I really loved Aeon Flux. I thought Battleship was okay. I was fine with After Earth. See? I'm not that picky.
Okay, that's all I had to say. Thumbs me up or thumbs me down.
Big Eyes (2014)
Ultra-passive 1950's wife with Mad Man husband.
Highly enjoyable dramatization of husbandly plagiarism. The story is efficiently yet artistically told, and both lead performances are terrific. Tiny bits of Burton weirdness fitted in like footnotes, and not noticeable unless you're looking.
It was clear how the predicament came to be. A man with a maniacal chutzpah and an ultra-passive wife of the 1950's. She's the talent; he's the marketer. Add a little bit of luck, and her work starts getting popular. He takes credit for it. She goes along with it, at first out of financial need and later out of momentum, but always out of 1950's female deference. Finally it's a feminist tale; he goes way too far, and she battles to take credit.
Great acting. Christopher Waltz's performance is dynamic and inspired, reminding me of George Segal + Mania. And forgive me for finding Amy Adams so appealing. It may be in part that she's so darn pretty, and it may also be that the soft-voiced female fluff was the sort of ideal female beauty I was trained to like as a boy and which has all but disappeared. But mainly, I like to think I enjoyed her so much because she gives such a stunning performance; all kinds of nuance and insight into the character as she gets shoved aside, hurt, and finally pushes back. Really, I liked her just tons.
Nice little bits enriching the movie. For instance, in the grocery store, before she comes to the display where her prints are being sold, she passes the Campbell's Soup shelves. Marketing, Mass Production, Spectacle. Andy Warhol's art is Mm-mm good. Another one, when the husband is losing it into booze and craziness, scaring wife and daughter: his eyeball at the keyhole staring into their fear, like Jack Nicholson's in The Shining. Probably a dozen or more of these that I missed tucked in there.
No surprises in the story; well, one. But very little in the way of spoilers are possible. Touching all the right notes. Great look; loved the photography. Loved the tone and the pacing. My wife and I and our teentwenty-something daughters all enjoyed it. They're all artists; I'm not.
Amazing Stories: Fine Tuning (1985)
Spielberg has two or three ideas, and this episode uses them all
A really poorly executed version of E.T. and Close Encounters. High school kids soup up a TV antennae and find aliens obsessed with 1950's TV comedy shows. That's it. The aliens harmlessly come to Earth and the high school boys show them around Hollywood. Fifteen minutes of goofiness while the aliens seek out Milton Berle, etc. It's done the way that Spielberg has of trying to push your buttons, this time with cuteness and warmth. Sometimes in his career he does it, but wow, this one is such a blunder. Dunderheaded, chortling oh-so-cute aliens (dwarfs in costumes like ET- potatoes with rubber-nose-mustache-glasses on). I guess that's how Spielberg made his career, by using the main tropes of science fiction and freshening them up a bit, but sometimes, like here, it seems he thinks that all he has to do is just use them and the magic will work. I did love the old Vaudevillians. They're great. You get about two minutes of those guys around the twenty minute mark. Otherwise it is super bad. Sloppy.
Quietus: To the New World (2004)
Good looking, cryptic
I liked the look of this sci fi short quite a bit. It is quiet, like the title, and solemn even. A lot is suggested--a leaving of a desert Earth. All done by showing, without words, images of people, masked and wearing long robes, as they move across the desert and do cryptic things. Interspersed with some cool still-life shots of geometric space ships. The director Lowery is deeply indebted to 2001, but that's not so bad a debt. Also a bit of Dune and Indiana Jones stirred in. If you're not into sci fi, you'll need to be into at least art house I would assume to enjoy this little gem. It's well done-very professional looking. You can find it on YouTube, currently in two parts. (Running time on YouTube is about 17 minutes, not 22 asstated above.)
A Night Out (1915)
Surly, Gauche, Sadistic ... What's funny?
Honestly, I don't get it. A lot of violent slapstick humor. Chaplin's character is a mean drunk. What's funny about that? I don't think we can even ascribe it to the times. Oh, surely, some of it, our simple, uneducated ancestors. Yeah. But if we saw this kind of film come out of, say, China today, we'd be worried that a sadistic bunch of lunatics was on the rise. Were the good ol' days more cruel? I don't get it. I have a theory that there just simply wasn't much film entertainment being done, so a guy like this can move into the Classic status more easily. Whoever gets to the gold rush first gets the biggest haul. In this case, fame.
Sure, some of the physical comedy is actually very deft, but I don't see how people hurting each other is very funny. I suppose there is still some of that today, low brow stuff, in some rude sitcoms. But isn't Chaplin a darling of the high brows? The Three Stooges look like they're having tea with the Queen compared to this piece.