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Wizards (1977)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
don't know quite what to think, 2 March 2005

The first time I saw this was in high school, and by the time it was finished, myself and my friends were gripped by a strange, vague anger. At the time I didn't know why, but upon viewing this again, I think I understand the strange emotions that this movie broils inside the viewer. The notion that it is the first cartoon I saw where the violence wasn't, well, cartoonish has some validity, but I think it goes deeper than that. To put it rather bluntly, this film is a strange, fascinating, often beautiful and terrifying mess.

This movie could have been something monumental and groundbreaking, but it felt like a cross between Disney's The Sword in the Stone, Vampire Hunter D and Akira. Clearly, each scene was given a mood depending upon which drug Bashki had taken that day. Scenes went from silly and frivolous, with the comically drawn Avator (the only character which did not even come close to having human proportions) accompanied by silly, Disneyesque noises ("boing" etc.) followed by scenes of gruesome violence and blood lust. The sparse and haunting still drawings were without question the most evocative aspects of the movie, for everything else seemed bogged down in a goofiness which didn't provide relief from the tense scenes but a complete and jarring contrast. The war scenes, helped by rotoscoping, were all very tense and effective at saying more than they were showing, but, ultimately could not save this film.

Perhaps it was the director's intention to contrast the two moods of the film, but what results is a vague demystification. Instead of provoking thought about the nature of war, human nature and technology, one is left wondering what, exactly, is the author saying. I realized that the reason I was so angry and perturbed my first viewing is because the author sets you up with silly, childish scenes, so that your natural defenses towards violence are not piqued. It is not effective film making but a cheap trick. The movie should have followed the mood of desperation and wariness from the first chase scene and the movie truly would have been a piece of meaningful art. All we are left with is a drugged out mess which achieves moments of visual brilliance and taut story-telling, but, which ultimately cannot decide upon a character. Whatever could have been achieved in the telling of this story was defeated by the haphazard and unsure manner in which it was told.

Paycheck (2003)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I should have been eating pie, 13 September 2004

Saw this last night. Must say Ben Affleck has the unique ability to make a somewhat interesting premise boring beyond belief. And his style of action makes me want to forever become a pacifist. John Woo continues his reign as the most ham-fisted director on either side of the Pacific. Please, do we need another slow-mo shot of everything? He would take a slow-mo of a old lady using a walker. And Uma Thurman demonstrates once again that she should never speak a line that isn't written by Tarantino. This move stunk.

Needed two hours to air out the house from the overpowering stench. Only good part was making fun of the ridiculous dialogue and incoherent premise. Even Paul Giamatti was horrible. The whole movie was overwrought, overly complex an dull as can be. And the line about eating pie was just a typical example of the horribly lame screen-writing. Can't believe anybody earned a paycheck on this dud. Avoid at all costs.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
b-movie classic, 6 September 2004

For geeks everywhere, this is perhaps the ultimate embodiment of the b-movie, and Bruce Campbell is without question the god of the "genre." Though I must admit that this is one of my favorite movies, it certainly suffers from an identity crisis. It seems that midway through the movie Sam Raimi and company decided that they didn't want to be scary like the gorefest Evil Dead and decided to simply play upon the inherent ridiculous nature of horror movies. Whether Raimi was attempting to inoculate himself against criticism by sending up his own movie or just genuinely decided that taking a turn for the ridiculous was more interesting, we will never know. What we do know is that Evil Dead II is one of the most frenetic, gory and entertaining flicks ever put to celluloid. Raimi is indeed one of the most influential directors of the last 20 years for his hyperactive 3-D camera work. This movie shows more than the original his innovative directing style which would eventually fully mature in the action scenes in Spiderman.

Even though the movie is uniquely Raimi, Campbell, who took second billing to the zombies in the first one, truly drives this movie with his awful, hammy, yet brilliant acting. Truthfully, nobody else could have delivered the "who's laughing now!?" line, though that is not entirely a compliment. This is one of those movies you will either love it depending upon whether you have a love of the absurd or are genuinely expecting cinema. This is not a great movie, it's not even a good movie, but it is enormously entertaining and funny movie for those who enjoy schlock entertainment.

102 out of 120 people found the following review useful:
brilliant and hilarious, 5 September 2004

This is one of the shows that I started watching because many people, whose opinions I valued, stated, repeatedly, that I "absolutely must see this." Let me say that I was pretty much hooked from the first scene when they discover the body. The one deputy crying at the body was both touching and kind of funny. It perfectly introduced the entire series which is serious and ridiculous all at once. There is so much to talk about this incredible series which burned too bright to burn for very long.

For starters, Agent Cooper is the single greatest character ever captured on film (go ahead, try and think of a better one). He's brilliant, genuinely caring, incredibly funny, exuberant to the nth degree, unbelievably likable, but also with a sordid past which haunts him. Nobody, but nobody, could have delivered the pie and coffee compliments with so much gusto.

However, he is just the brightest star in the sky. There are so many crazy, yet somehow believable characters that grace Lynch's universe. The swift descent of Ben Horn into madness is sad, pathetic, surreal and hilarious. No other series would have dared contain a man believing that he was General Lee commanding the south at Gettysburg (it also provides the funniest line from the show, when Audrey Horn is talking to his psychiatrist and he remarks that "What he (Ben Horn) needs now is our sympathy, understanding and a confederate victory."). All of the characters create a amazing tapestry where one is genuinely anticipating which character is going to lose it somehow (but one never anticipates correctly). In this reviewers opinion, the plot takes a backseat to the characters which are too strange, or too ordinary but never dull, to exist in any other show anywhere (minus James, who gets irritating right when he starts singing and never stops). Fantastic actors all around with more career launching cameos than any show or movie ever.

Sadly, the second season is not as good as the first, plot-wise, but still is as quirky and entertaining with an unbelievable ending to the series. Many have criticized the show for being excessively intellectual, but I never found the show pedantic or hopelessly cryptic. Rather, it seemed as though David Lynch just decided to employ every weird idea that popped into his febrile mind for the sheer joy of it.

To finish, one needs to watch this show. It's not uniformly brilliant and sometimes just plain weird, but always rewarding and truly one of the landmarks of American television. Go get a nice piece of cherry pie, a cup of coffee, take four days off work and start watching it.