Reviews written by registered user
glen-88

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22 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Tron: Lunacy, 18 December 2010
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tron has always been a childhood favorite, visually, stylistically, and idea wise - it was an amazing film but after watching it again as an adult, I realize it had some problems as well - mainly some weak plot development and character arcs.

Tron Legacy, in this regard, follows it predecessors exactly in both it's accomplishments and snafus.

The film opens solidly with Sam Flynn (Flynn's son) dealing with the loss of his long gone father and running off with Encom's Operating system - making it open source for all to use. Against the wishes the corporate board. A few nods are made to the original here - (we briefly meet Dillinger's son and see he has some part seemingly in the company's power structure, and the BIG DOOR makes a cameo appearance - you know the one.)

Sam eventually makes it onto a new computerized grid (albeit with less flash than Flynn did in the original)in the back of his father's abandoned arcade. This new grid is dark and beautiful all at once. From there he is captured, forced to play the games - though cool to watch, seem to stand out less to me than the first time around, and meets Clu 2.0. Our antagonist. He eventually escapes and meets up with Flynn, and the two, with the help of some weird half program/lifeform (who takes the shape of a hot woman) journey towards the portal out in the far wastelands of the grid, chased of course by Clu and it turns out Clu's henchman - Tron (who was reprogrammed). At the end, Tron has a sudden change of heart, Flynn kills himself to take out Clu and Sam and robo girl escape back into the real world. Sam decides to take his position as head of the company and he and digi chick ride off into the sunset.

Now that I've condensed the film into a few paragraphs let me encode to you it's pluses and minuses.

Positives: Visually beautiful film, Some of the story subplots are very interesting, and the action is a lot of fun to watch.

Negatives: The story starts a bunch of subplots that never really develop:

First they bring in Dillinger's son, he seemingly has some power in the company, but nothing ever happens with him and he never is referenced again.

Tron has a great subplot - he was repurposed to be Clu's evil right hand hatchet man but he suddenly has a change of heart in the last few minutes of the film (literally within ten seconds by voicing some old dialouge from the last film, tries to stop Clu and dies). He's amazing to watch when he fights - it's a huge twist in the story and he gets very little screen time to develop his arc. Almost none. So in the end the Titular character has a somewhat brief appearance and his motivations remain vague.

Flynn's motivations also seem a little weak but even more than that Flynn apparently has God-like powers in this new grid - which are never discussed or shown in any way that makes sense, so when he sacrifices himself and throws his digital magic around, it feels a little too deus ex machina...but then again that's exactly what he is, so maybe I'm just being a little too anal about that one.

The new life forms on the grid (I forget the bizarre name they give) that look like programs, act like programs, bleed like programs but aren't programs..entirely, are not really developed much - except that Clu tried to wipe them all out..for some vague reason and the only one that remains is Sam's new digital girlfriend. Apparently these beings will "change everything" but how exactly they'll do that is never talked about. This subplot really felt unneeded to me. Clu own agenda of invading with a digital army of his own into the real world is enough of a threat (albeit kind of a lame one).

Finally all the weird inconsistencies with how the digital world works leaks through the fabric of the film's beautifual visual style...i.e. why is there real food in the grid? How can a digital program have a real body in the real world? How is Sam's girlfriend suddenly outside and in physical form at the end of the film?

And why exactly did Flynn repurposing Clu at the end, and killing himself in the process for some reason, destroy or knock out the grid? What the hell did Sam save to his little zip disk at the end? WHAT THE HECK WAS THE POINT OF ANY OF IT?

The answer: A thrown together script, a lotta hype, and lots of pretty cgi.

Tron Legacy may someday stack up in cult circles like it's father did, and it may even get a sequel but the filmmakers need to remember it's not the dollars spent on cgi bits and bytes that count, it's the hours spent writing cohesive arcs and plots.

Gray (2010/I)
Thought Provoking, 9 August 2010
8/10

I saw an early screening of this and felt moved to say the film is an amalgam of a confessional diary, poignant drama and philosophical debate. At times a little self indulgent, it still captivates the audience with universal questions on pain, suffering and God. Director Dan Roemer has successfully taken a harrowing real life event and built enough of a narrative around it to MAKE the audience think about some very uncomfortable subjects.

For this, I believe it is more art in the true sense of the word, than a movie that you would casually watch. The characters/actors are real enough for us to see how desperation has been racked upon them by past grief.

If I could sum it up it'd be a cross between "My Dinner with Andre" and "The King of Tides". Intensly personal, unashamedly honest, and very thought provoking.

Congrats Mr. Roemer. Though it's not easy to swallow, it's nonetheless a very gripping story that pulls the audience in.

Iron Man 2 (2010)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A sequel in every sense of the word., 8 May 2010
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Iron man 2 follows the typical modern conventions of a sequel, bigger explosions, more bad guys, and much more spectacle. Unfortunately it falls prey to all the bad things about a sequel as well, namely the idea that "more is better".

The Good: Robert Downey JR, Emma Thompson, Don Cheadle, and the newly added Scarlett Johansen all do a great job of fleshing out their characters and providing enough witty banter to entertain us (Director Jon Faverau's little fight scenes were great fun to watch).

We learn a bit more about the Avengers of course and there are plenty of nods to the comic book community throughout the film (most notably the last scene after the credits).

The special effects as is typical for today's films are top notch.

The bad: The story meanders. Tony faces off against Ivan Vanko/Whiplash and while the battles are entertaining the motivation for Whiplash is somewhat muddled. He seems more like one of those no name wrestlers that Tier 1 stars toss about the ring than a truly evil antagonist. I never really felt like Tony was going to lose. Nothing truly felt at stake.

Iron Man 2 tries to also address Tony's own failing health (tied to his power source and creating a new gizmo-power source for his suit) which is also somewhat hastily explained, bring about a redemptive father/son subplot that ultimately doesn't amount to much, and move along the Pots/Stark romance (which had its cute moment near the end).

The story seems to want to hit about a dozen different nails on the head and does, but not totally effectively; going for width in the story arc instead of depth.

My friend and I left the theater liking certain moments of the film but ultimately feeling it was bloated and could have had about 10 minutes shaved off and the stakes raised.

Perhaps the I.M. 3 will put some real "iron" back into the franchise.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The ghost of Paranormal Activity Returns!, 24 April 2010
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The previous at least would have been a somewhat more original title then the slap together "Paranormal Entity" used.

In case you're wondering if this movie is worth seeing, a resounding "NO" should be cried.

I think anyone viewing this will immediately think of "Paranormal Activity", the filmmakers seems to take pride riding on it's coat tails. Still, like premises can occasionally create good films for both, thats why I viewed it.

Story goes: Dead Dad, mourning mom and teen brother and sister. We find that Mom has been autowriting at night, unknowingly inviting a demon into the house. Said demon runs loose spooking the family, and eventually complete mayham ensues when the daughter is raped and killed.

"Entity" is a tad grittier than "Activity" and the starlette Erin Marie Hogan does a decent job of acting, she's easy on the eyes as well. With those two exceptions, the movie stinks. The story, of course, is unoriginal at this point, the wrap up with the "doctor" is a mish-mash of screams, jump cuts and fake blood, and the whole thing leaves one wondering why can't such a low budget film at least come up with some original ideas to scare people?

Pandorum (2009)
7 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Pan-dreadful, 3 October 2009
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The psychological terror the film wishes to instill on us comes up short - not due to the basic plot or premise but to the dreadful homogenized editing and directing.

Pandorum is not a bad film as far as story goes - certainly there a lot worse premises for a film out there and this little yarn is original in how it explains the presence of the unnamed nasties on the ship. But what it fails so miserably in is something that should be film-making 101 to any competent director...exposition...there's almost none. No sooner have we met a crew on board some sort of flying death trap than we find everyone and everything has run amok.

And while the answers are quickly given to us (much much later in Act 2) they are quickly hashed through and then just as quickly dropped.

The fact that the evil meanies on board are some sort of evolutionary hybrid gone awry because every astronaut is given a magic serum that adapts human DNA is barely mentioned very late into the film and because of this feels pretty tacked on. If it had been brought about earlier it would have given the film much more suspense.

The ship actually being underwater on the Tanis (or whatever its called) planet is a neat little twist at the end but it doesn't make up for the bad lighting and little to no character development...two of the surviving crew come across as little more than grunting exotic warriors who's ultimate sacrifices make no difference to us.

Dennis Quaid is a welcome addition but even he can't sustain the mire of character arcs that at one moment pit him against a younger insane crew member and at another moment make him akin to a babbling Jack Nicholson in the Shining.

The thing with thrillers is you have to be invested in the characters before you feed them to the wolves, and when feeding them to said wolves, leaving everything a total mystery up until the very end is a little amateurish...real suspense builds on what facts are already known.

Unfortunately Pandorum's creators didn't take the time they could have in creating any suspense and so the whole thing feels like a rehash of Aliens, Event Horizon, and a dozen other films, except not quite as good.

5/10 stars for the basic premise, the set design and a very few nice visuals.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Interesting and creepy, 15 June 2009
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched this on Netflix and found it to be a lot better than I expected. Certainly the writers have taken a lesson from the horror/suspense book of rules, the setting creates the needed isolation that later turns into paranoia and death and is often very reminiscent in The Thing and The Shinning.

The setting in fact is smartly woven in as the major antagonist in the film, tying in natural disasters to Native American myth. It creates a beast quite unlike anything I've seen on film before.

Ron Pearlman's character could've used a more subtle arc in his angry block headed transformation and there are times where the pace of the conflicts is a bit too slow but ultimately the film works and is fairly creepy on many levels.

The Last Winter is part ecological allegory, part psychological thriller, and a lot of stunning visuals. Well worth screening.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Should be sunk in Crystal Lake, 15 February 2009
2/10

I'm sorry - anyone who states this brings back the good old days of the franchise - forgets one thing, the good old films at least, occasionally, had some new twists or original ideas in them.

This film doesn't just make a nod to the old Fridays, it rips them off and rehashes their guts out. I felt like I was watching a highlights clip show on MTV of all the other Friday movies with some extra loud sounds thrown in.

Not one iota of the film tried to do something different or original, the deaths were laughably predictable, and yes there are one or two cheap scares thrown in but for eight bucks a pop we should be getting terrified all the time.

Of course the originals were not masterpieces either but at least they tried to develop the characters - this one has us meeting people we could care less about, and as satisfying as it is to see shallow model types get bludgeoned - it would have been much more terrifying if we actually liked or believed any of their motivations.

Yes Motivation! Any idiot who says motivation for victim or monster is not needed has no concept of what makes a good story or a good scare.

The Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw, even Halloween revamps were put together much better than this p.o.s. because they had some realistic aspect in their story, some motivation that worked on some level, and characters that we could identify with in some way.

I give this dud 2 stars for the curves of some of the actresses but thats all.

Jumper (2008)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Flopper!, 19 February 2008
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Flopper should be the title of this dismal excuse for a matrix wanna be knock off.

The story is as inexplicable as it is lame. Unfortunate kid has magic powers he suddenly discovers, he uses said powers to get anything he wants, he falls for old school crush, wins her then saves her from a super secret group of FBI/NSA/CIA (whatever) thugs who's sole mission in life is to hunt "jumpers" like him.

There's almost no backstory as to why Jumpers can jump or why these super secret voodoo government guys want to kill the jumpers. The dialogue and scenarios are fairly predictable, and more often than not I found myself watching this thing and saying "wait...what just happened? Why did the guy do that?" But I never got an answer cause the protagonist was jumping into something else.

The mother/father relationships are important in the film but never developed, the love relationship is cliché, and the only other jumper in the film seems to not do much but try to make clever quips and jump around real fast.

The ending is less than thrilling and it really feels like Doug Liman was on crack or had ADD while making this - cause it starts off solid and then just spastically goes all over the place before coming to a quick end.

Avoid this one if at all possible, its not worth ten bucks.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Better than I expected., 13 October 2007
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'd heard some bad press about this flick, mostly from friends, who tend to rag on anything horror related. When I finally got around to watching it though, I really enjoyed what I saw.

28 weeks later continues the story of poor zombie infested England, with a cast of new characters, ready to recolonize the place. Of course everything goes to crap, and only a few survivors are left after the smoke clears. Im being vague on purpose here. The shock moments really should be enjoyed.

The beginning goes from 5 mph, excitement wise, to warp ten in about three seconds, and the protagonist's transformation into the antagonist who's inner struggle literally transforms him - is a cool to see, almost like Nicholson's twist in the Shining but on crack.

Which is all fancy talk for saying the characters are pretty well scripted out, and very sympathetic. The action/thrills are top notch, and this time noticeably bigger in scope...firebombing half of London is pretty spectacular.

You can tell Danny Boyle had some input in this thing, simply because it fits so well with the first one, and doesn't fall into any of the trappings most horror sequels hit.

I can wait for the last installment.

Grendel (2007) (TV)
10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Q&A with the Writer!, 14 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm an associate of Ron Fernandez and after viewing some of the enlightening comments made I thought I'd have a quick Q&A with the writer of "Grendel". The following is a transcript:

G: Hi Ron.

R: Hi Glen, It's great to be here.

G: So Ron, how do you feel about the movie as a whole?

R: Overall I think it came out great(he says smiling) considering the resources and timetable involved in these films. I think SciFi Channel and UFO films did a super job of translating it to the screen. Nick Lyon, who directed it and is now doing Species 4, brought great life to the characters, and I particularly enjoyed watching Ben Cross coax the drama out of his scenes. Chariots of Fire to Grendel... Hmmm...

G: Cool. Yeah I enjoyed watching it with you over many beers at our favorite pub.

R: Maybe the beers helped.

(both laughing)

G: What did inspire you to manhandle this epic poem?

R: When I was hired by the production company I realized the daunting task of adapting one of the greatest stories in western culture. Tough choices had to be made in order to make this epic tale fit the parameters of a fun Saturday night SciFi Channel flick, and I think those choices paid off. For example, I decided to add a love story which would frame the tale for modern audiences. The crossbow gun was not my creation, by the way, but it happens to be cheap and easy to blow things up in Bulgaria.

G: I think the Rambo 2000 crossbow gun was actually pretty damn cool. But Im glad you mentioned it, because a lot of people out there don't understand the process of storytelling within the constraints of a producer and bottom line run production. Damn those wacky producers.

R: The challenge is delivering a quality story to viewers at home. I think our film stacks up well if not better than some of the other SciFi pictures I've seen, but the power of the original Beowulf narrative of course helped us a lot. If you haven't read it in a while I recommend you do. I had to read it when I was a Freshman in high school and I didn't get it. But going back I was astounded by the beauty of the language and the heroic character of Beowulf and the others.

G: Some of the user comments here indicated that there were some factual mistakes made (i.e. Grendel's mother not being fought underwater, the townspeople being sacrificed etc.) How do you respond to this?

R: We saw the original text as a launching point for the recontextualization of a classic. As I said tough choices had to be made in terms of story and the reality of budgeting. The climatic scene in the poem, where Beowulf confronts Grendel's mother underwater was in the first draft but you know it couldn't be done in the time alloted. As to the second part of your question, believe it or not, the story of children being sacrificed to appease the angry monster is in the original poem. But we chose to emphasize it.

G: Do you see SciFi taking on more literary or epic narratives or adaptations? And what new projects can we expect to see from you in the future?

R: I hope that SciFi continues to take risks by re-envisioning more of the classic tales of the past. Right now I'm writing another film for them, this one set in the present and currently entitled "The Monster". It's a cross between American Werewolf in London meets Excalibur. It should be a hoot.

G: Always a pleasure Ron.

R: Thanks, Glen.


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