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347 reviews in total 
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Started With Promise In Episode One & Immediately Jumped The Shark, 20 November 2015

This show HAD the luxury of a good premise. It has an OK cast. What is doesn't have is imaginative writers taking the premise in the best direction. Really, by episode 2 It's just another cop show with a a character who aids the cops due to that character's "gift". Yep, a original premise that was pretty fresh and original ground up into the same old cop show stew. It's a crime of the week with an arc story hinting at something involving Bradley Cooper's character and the NZT side-effect neutralizer stuff. The real crime is wasting a really good premise - this show will be found guilty in the court of indifference in short order.. I guess I'm actually a bit upset because this show could be a solid 8 or 9 and I genuinely think its getting worse with each episode and even a 5 might be too generous. I didn't want a show about unlimited brain potential to be a much less interesting redux of Person of Interest, Medium, Bones, . Disappointed is an understatement. Jennifer Carpenter is slumming by the way. If these are the TV roles she's wasting her talent on the major networks. I think she needs to go for edgier Pay TV series or, maybe, big-screen movies? Watching her here it would be hard to imagine the same person playing the character of Debra Morgan in Dexter. She helped Michael Hall make it into the instantly cult classic series it was destined to be. She's beyond boring here.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Imaginative Old-Style Horror Flick With A Fantastic Haunted House, 8 November 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really did not think i would be too interested in Crimson Peak. I had heard it was set in Victorian Times and was a horror flick. But, this was from the creative mind of Guillermo del Toro who figured hugely into the Hellboy franchise and, recently, The Strain. With a talent like del Toro writing and directing chances were better than good this was worth a look. It definitely was and is.

Crimson Peak wastes no time developing it's central character and her dilemma. Young Edith Cushing's mother has died causing a terrible hole in her life. While still a child she feels and sees a terrible apparition of her mother. Was it real or a dream? To Edith it seemed so real yet for years no more of these visits occur. Yet the fearful warning her quite ominous and scary looking mother left was about something to do with The Crimson Peak. It's brooding to be sure, but the words don't really make any sense to Edith. Keep in mind this is all set in a truly remarkable re-creation of a Victorian household in New York. This sets a very interesting stage which we immediately see the now mature Ms. Edith Cushing. We learn she's not only extremely articulate and well-educated, but an imaginative aspiring writer still living in her family's home with her important and successful father. Two men soon appear as if to both vie for her attention. One, her father's pick, young Dr. Alan McMichael and another more mysterious European young man. Sir Alan Sharpe, Baronet, seeking to gain a business relationship with Edith's father. We also meet Mr. Sharpe's sister Lucille and it seems almost immediate she will be a storm bringer of sorts. So mysterious and tasty and we're just past 15- minutes into the film. You gotta love del Toro's pace as much as his mysterious story. I think it is worth noting that del Toro's story has a few very odd pauses in which Edith while in the company of Thomas Sharpe is a bit of another world outside what is actually going on all around. For Edith it is on account of love and for Sir Alan it is due to his sister's brainwashing and otherwise strange upbringing. All this makes for a hook forging the viewer into Edith's obliviously dangerous situation.

Yes, the real story is Edith and her "situation". I won't spoil del Toro's creepy yarn. Suffice to say it seems Edith is in way over her head and only has a vague unease until the secrets of his European estate come to light. And what a great haunted manor it is! Remember earlier it is well stated in her writing ambitions Edith believes in ghosts only as metaphors…she is soon to see metaphors are sometimes as real as what they allude to. Crimson Peak is chock full of horror and great atmosphere. You just have to see it to see a fantastical creative mind at work in a genre that can be, for the most part, recycled. The cast is just as effective too. Recommended for all horror buffs and, perhaps mainstream audiences too. This is what I'd call a good old horror flick even if it's new.

No Escape (2015/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Unrelenting Tension Well Done, 5 November 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When you step away from the stable order of the developed world to help an undeveloped country you might not be a welcome guest. That's an understatement soon to be graphically expounded on No Escape. Owen Wilson, as engineer Jack Dwyer, takes his family to an unnamed South Asian country believing he is helping to give the population much needed clean water. In short order all Hell breaks loose due to an unknown coup just prior to Dwyer's arrival. All foreigners are definitely marked to be exterminated as angry mobs take to the streets. It's the kind of cleansing that is hard for westerners to admit is still possible because it's indiscriminate and encompasses anyone including women, children, as well as any native that might be helping - or just in the way. A bloodbath around every corner.

This is one intense drama, perhaps more than any other film in memory. It's definitely the level of the palpable horror which raises the movie to a high. Remarkably when it starts it never lets up.

The story isn't original,l or even without a few lapses of credibility, yet the constant fear factor is so high that the negatives becomes a non-issue. I give high marks for Owen Wilson's everyman in a impossibly dire situation strong performance. With much less screen time Pierce Brosnan, as British intelligence agent Hammond, steals just about any scene he's in. Brosnan's charismatic low-key humorous performance is like a special sauce that transforms a basic dish into the sublime. No Escape is a simply better whole than it has any right to be with these synergistic parts. If you like almost unbearable sustained tension the level achieved here is gut-wrenching. Definitely worth a watch and better than expected.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
See This For Some Needed Inside Balance While You're Glued To Your iPhone, 3 November 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At times during the viewing of this film I felt as if the mischievous kid who loved getting one over on the phone company never really changed...only he could do what he wanted on a much larger scale. There is a kernel of truth wrapped in this and it was that Jobs was like a child right up until the end. He lived within his own reality and he was trapped by it. How can you dislike Jobs just because we all had to grow up and abide by the rules while he didn't? Well, in fact you can if you realize that Job's ways and means were at times costly which this film quickly goes to. To his closest friends and associates the cost was regularly painful, as well as life-changing often for the worse even if they prospered financially. Often a bully to employees if you were one who he considered an enemy you might be advised to move out of Palo Alto altogether, that is if you needed employment.

This is a good expose' because it dares to show the lofty groundbreaking successes were achieved at high costs including eschewing philanthropy and the occasional disregard for high morals and the law itself. We're suppose to believe if you read another reviewers thoughts that this is the way it is done in the mega-business world and if Apple did it better, well, they just became more successful. If we applaud this as the American business model we're past just a slippery slope because, in time, we all suffer. Suffer as we're mesmerized and hypnotized looking into our Apple screens. Jobs had both visible (Al Gore to name a known face) and invisible shields in the highest places and though he could have possibly served prison time he was never even indicted for anything. On a comical side he may have been the only American who found a way to never buy a car tag...and he wasn't even called out for even this. By the way try this to see if it works for you...I was ticketed a few years back because I forgot to put my yearly tag renewal sticker on the actual tag - and I had it in the glove compartment at the time and showed it to the officer to no avail. I think Jobs took pride in being able to do what others dared to, even the tag thing speaks volumes.

If you seen several other Jobs documentaries (I know they're 2 on Amazon Prime Video for example) I'd recommend this one because you probably don't have the balance of the darkest sides of Jobs and Apple. Apple, and Jobs, didn't directly murder anyone, but there were lives lost and destroyed regularly in the Apple eco-system. In the end while the film certainly applauds the success, it moves one to feel anger at the lack of empathy Jobs and Apple lacked, it will prompt disbelief of the disregard for the laws the company (i.e. Jobs) felt they were above, and do so even as one feels sorrow as well since the darkness was cloaked by success - like a wolf disguised as a sheep. Maybe the thing that stings the most is while Apple relishes being called the greatest American business success of the 20th century they don't even pay but a fraction of the taxes they should because of sending their wealth to Ireland, at least on paper (electronically of course). A needed less than stellar view to balance the many accolades it would seem. You get the feeling we've been so mesmerized by all things Apple perhaps we've all been brainwashed. See this film if you watched others because it takes an important different look inside the man who was, indeed, in a darker machine benignly called Apple.

Re-Imagining Hoover's FBI For Entertainment...And, Hopefully, Something Compelling, 1 November 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Quantico begins at a brisk clip and might overwhelm at times, but it moves in a most interesting way perhaps due to the deluge of disparate characters immediately introduced and the seemingly unrelated parts. It veers into a bit of being too clever such as the quick sexual fling between two of the characters. The girl tells the military dude she would have got to know him if she would have wanted to actually have anything other than a quick roll. This segues to a class at Quantico where, surprisingly, they're both applicants to the FBI...and then to the present where the girl has just survived a massive bombing of some building. For less than 10-minutes in this is moving at a breakneck pace by any TV standards. I like it. It makes no sense except that the world is made up of every type as are FBI agents, and terrorists. To effectively work counter-terrorism in this world the old J. Edgar Hoover FBI is not the current version.

That's the intro and now on to a compelling mystery. The bombing was at NYC's Grand Central and sexually forward female agent, Alex Parrish, is not only a survivor, but immediately picked as integral in unraveling the bombing plot which is thought to be perpetrated by a classmate. Maybe her being a survivor makes her both a suspect as well as a witness who is a trusted agent that just happened to survive? Things go crazy from here. Maybe Quantico races out the gate and tries too hard, but many will be hooked in a mystery that's as bombastic as 9-11 and in that there may be a twisted reality. I would have to give Quantico's pilot a definite 7. It seems too clever and tries too hard to be so, but it's strangely compelling too. It definitely demands more and in that I'm at least hooked for some more mystery and some bits of closure to bring much needed focus.

"Killjoys" (2015)
Weak RAC Attack, 26 October 2015

Killjoys follows a pair of RAC agents, who are interstellar nation-less bounty hunters. They are "Dutch" played by the striking, very runway model faced, Hannah John-Kamen and John Jaqobis, played by affable Aaron Ashmore.

This show is a primarily character driven affair (if episode one is a true indicator), without a particularly compelling, or strong, story and just a modicum of special effects. So, does it work? Well, the two main characters are pretty likable and the story goes at a quick clip, but it seems weak overall. It never plunges into the basement though and, admittedly it may have some room to grow? I give the first installment a D+; poor, but passing. To clarify, it is watchable yet not strong enough to win a viewer over into fandom. I still might watch the next episode just to see if I've been too harsh.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Story of Unsung American Hero, 24 October 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first crisis of the cold war is hardly remembered as both The Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis have eclipsed the debacle of captured U2 pilot Gary Powers and Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. Bridge of Spies, aptly named is Steven Spielberg's moving, and entertaining, big-screen correction of, perhaps, the mostly forgotten story of the first major diplomacy between the superpowers in the avoiding thermo-nuclear war.

The story revolves around a somewhat obscure attorney and great American (at least prior to the events depicted) James Donovan. A brittle serendipitous stage of events, uniquely, fell into place as "the sum of all fears" began to reach a fever-pitch from which an unlikely chain of events thrust insurance attorney Donovan into the spotlight. It was not an enviable spotlight for Donovan as his only purpose was to avert any possibility of Rudolf Abel not being professionally represented in what could be an international incident.

It was believed a swift and certain verdict of guilty with the death penalty would be reached justly. The message would be the U.S.A. is fair and just, but unwavering in intent. There was only one thing, Donovan was nobody's lackey.

To James Donovan being a red-blooded American meant first and foremost upholding the constitution because it is what separated America from all other nations. Donovan believed any accused human, citizen or not, gets the rights guaranteed by the constitution in a U.S. court of law. While he didn't wholly succeed at first he set a series of events in motion that ended up defining post World War II détente.

Spielberg masterly brings this story of a man who steps forward to embody something greater than himself at great cost. Fighting for something larger,he not only defines himself, but who we are as a nation. In the interim, before the righteousness the man stands on is actually embraced he may just be labeled a pariah, there's no doubt Donovan was being the target of many death threats. And without the lack of support from his family and employer. Slowly though his moral wisdom rises to save two men from prison and a nation from greater threat of nuclear war. This is a piece of American history very deserving to be retold, sure for entertainment, but also for our inspection. A real defining moment in history whose good set a precedent.

This is, another of Tom Hank's finest moments. He captures the essence of a man whose time to become something more curiously fell into place. This, combined with the impeccable period sets and concisely powerful writing, make Bridge of Spies a very important movie that celebrates a lesser known historical event; an event which still defines how two mortal enemies can achieve a kind of peaceful outcome. I give this movie my highest recommendation and could care less even if there is slight artistic freedom interwoven; it gets the big things right and makes me proud. We need more men like James Donovan...maybe more than ever.

Southpaw (2015)
Learning To Live After Self Destruction, 18 October 2015

I think it's kind of universal in that everyone likes a underdog story. Southpaw wastes little precious time in letting us in on the long-shot nature of Billy Hope as he's now at the top. But wait, whatever the story is we're here and Billy has already made it so this isn't really an underdog story at all. But, the life of a orphan who became a world-class boxer isn't going to be wine and roses just because he's now at a pinnacle of his sport. When you're at the top doesn't the old saying go "there's no place left to go except down"? Old clichés' which have stood the test of time have a core that often is, mostly, a hard truth.

A boxer by nature, no matter how good, is often one fight away from his career being over, and not by choice. It's a fickle sport with a potent unknown around every corner waiting for their own long-shot success. As Southpaw begins Billy Hope is at that intersection of what comes next after reaching the top. His wife is urging him to take a break, or quit, before that disaster occurs. The disaster will occur, but it won't exactly be what one might think even as this seems like a movie you've seen before. In everything that proceeds Jake Gyllenhaal is close to perfect in bringing the fictitious life, and heartache, of Billy Hope to the screen. There's a new king of boxing movies, Jake Gyllenhaal is Southpaw in every sense of the phrase. Great movie, highly recommended! Two other fantastic performances,, though paling in comparison, are turned in by Forest Whittaker (Tick Willis) and Miguel Gomez ( "Magic" Escobar).

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
The Inner Will To Survive...Multiplied., 11 October 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An famous (or infamous for it's amazing distillation of emotion) exclamation crept into my mind while taking in Ridley Scott's "The Martian": "oh, the humanity". Humanity, this is what makes this movie rise above the Sci-Fi norm.. One thing is certain and that is man's humanity is his biggest asset and most vulnerable Achilles heel. Mix in ample helpings of hubris which often sets in motion a chain of events forcing a fierce reckoning - "The Martian" is not a bad reflection of mankind's quest for meaning and progress in the untamed world around us.

For the casual viewer this movie fits within a person's reasonable perspective of something that could be real in the not too distant future. The "real" science, isn't too much of the story told here - it fades into a non-issue for the most part. So, we get a real compelling struggle with maybe not the absolute reality of movie such as Everest, but certainly enthralling.

The story moves linearly with just a few flashbacks that aid one to invest in the characters, especially Matt Damon. His character is one you immediately feel an attachment for, plus his character supported by a stellar bit of well written characters.. This is a better than just good story with a nicely realized cast of characters. A wonderful humanistic long-shot survival story its brought to life engaging the viewer rapturously.

Speaking of Matt Damon, he really is perfect here. It would be hard to imagine anyone, even a young Tom Hanks, being the combination of likable and all-importantly: believable. The viewer immediately is cast in with astronaut Mark Watney's dilemma. Entertaining, but with profound dialogue such as "everywhere I go I am the first person who has ever been here" really bring home the journey of man we are still striving for. In fact, even more than the amazing visuals of a striking Mars a second viewing is likely needed to absorb all the quirks of mankind hidden in plain sight in the dialogue itself. Truly both topical and deep thoughts just as we all experience in this thing called life…expertly done as entertainment.

The Martian is not unlike a re-imagining of the Apollo 13 story. It has that unique intersection of the unthinkable, humanity's will to survive, science, and something spiritually up-lifting. It works as entertainment as well as something deeper we all have in our soul. Bravo! Highly recommended.

13 out of 36 people found the following review useful:
2 In And Not Sold, 25 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Heroes, the original, was really fresh feeling sci-fi. It began pretty awesome and though it may not always have been consistent I would come back to it and was watching during the last season. Memory fades, at least mine does, and all I really remember is in the end there was some kind of being trapped underground signaling some kind of end, but what? If an ending isn't really a completely satisfying one, and the show demanded better (The Sopranos is a better example, though in hindsight that ending now seems right), there always looms the question of what happened beyond what we know. Apparently, writers and enough execs at NBC believed we want to know more about what may have happened with Heroes.

This comes at a time when paid TV (cable,satellite, and internet) have eclipsed the shows on broadcast TV. NBC needs Heroes Reborn to be like Fox's Fringe, a show that builds on a base (i.e., Fringe got a big slice of X-Files base) and parlay it. As good as Heroes was, at times, I'm sure it was never as good as Fringe so this is a hope filled gamble indeed. Maybe Heroes Reborn can jump off of that great first season of Heroes and this time not squander it with mediocrity? Forwarding a bit into the future it still feels familiar and different simultaneously. It's more of an widespread, very overt, war. Still familiar, however. in that those with powers, now called EVOS, are still mixed good and evil. Someone has convinced society they're all bad, maybe? It seems while those with extra abilities many time hide,trying to live normal lives, others actively use their gifts to attempt escaping persecution. Again, familiar. While this may be some years beyond the final showdown in the original, it begins with a new "showdown" in which a peace fair between EVOS and humans destroys a town. There's a definite change coming so here we go again: bigger, faster. This initial episode is dizzying in so many new characters, and sub-plots coming in quick succession. The two-part 2-hour intro blast consists of: 1.) Brave New Word and, 2.) Odessa. Together the two comprise something the writers call "Volume 1, Awakenings". I guess this means something? Something I, at least, am not privy to? Mystery abounds.

A lot has transpired in TV viewers habits since NBC originally aired Heroes. The comic book as TV/Movie blockbusters came and is already old hat. You get the sense NBC thinks it's still rising and they're going to ramp up those elements. I'm entertained, but not bowled over or convinced this will take the good that was very early-on Heroes and not falter. After watching the 2-hour start I get the feeling this will be fast and tight as in a one season only, perhaps, epic battle. I stand confused as much as entertained. There is the comfort of original character Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman) and an important new character,Luke Collins, played by Zachary Levi (NBC's Chuck). Others I didn't recognize personally. A short preview reveals some characters from the first show will return. I think I know what NBC is aiming for and I hope the show can be that, but after two-hours I'm simply not sold on that great hope. I think, at best, what I can say is the gallant try deserves more time to reveal enough to establish itself. A somewhat shaky start.

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