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The Incredible Hulk: Babalao (1979)
Just plain offensive
This episode was disgusting. Apparently black followers of Voodoun are all stupid primitives, who don't know what fireworks are until the white man explains it to them.
Now, certainly I could go on about how silly the plot is, or how hammy the acting is, but it was The Incredible Hulk, and the 70s. Silly I can deal with. What I cannot deal with is such blatant racism and xenophobia directed at a disenfranchised minority religion.
Certainly, it could have been better. And I have no problem with religious leaders as villains (certainly there are plenty in real-life), but that doesn't make every person associated with the religion a drooling idiot.
I've already seen this movie. It was called "Battle for Terra," got a very low-profile release a few months back, and was better. Same movie, only less pretentious, less padded out, and with more ambiguous morality (aliens clearly imperfect in their own way). Also, where "Battle for Terra" concerned itself more with the theme of using technology wisely, and respecting the rights of other cultures, "Avatar" was just outright Luddite, which seems horribly hypocritical for a MOVIE. Its certainly beautiful, but the 3-D, while better than most, is still migraine-inducing more often than it is cool. If you really want to see it for the visuals, I'd say rent it.
The Happening (2008)
People just hate M. Night
This movie is fun, decent, schlock. That's it. M. Night has even admitted it in interviews. It isn't something his ego churned out to save humanity. It's just a fun thrill ride, with an environmental message so ham-handedly forced in I honestly believe it to be an intentional parody.
If anyone else had made this movie it would have been lucky to gross half as much, but would have been praised as an awesome splatter film. Instead, because of M. Night, lots of people paid to see it, and then complain about it. I seem to be the only one who believes that he can bounce back if he swallows his ego.
One thing that can't be denied about this movie, though, is that while you may not like his screen writing, he knows how to direct a scene.
Tristan + Isolde (2006)
A low-budget wonder
O.k., I'm not really familiar with swords-and-sandals movies, but I do read a lot of movie reviews. Based on what I have read, recent movies like Troy and Alexander made the mistake of becoming cocky.
"Mistake" might not actually be the best word, but it applies in their case. They sought to be great films, shooting for the stars. When that happens there can be no middle ground, you fly or you flop, and they flopped. Troy created huge battle scenes filled with men that looked like ants, and Alexander had Colin Ferrel acting like he was the next Gibson and was making the next Braveheart (once again, I'd like to emphasize that these are not my opinions, just second-hand information. For all I know it could all be BS).
Anyway, it's safe to say that Triston and Isolde does not make these mistakes. Thanks, mainly, to the relatively low budget. I don't think that anyone involved with this movie thought for a second that they were making Braveheart, and because if it they never became overconfident and got sloppy. Every seen is well shot, directed, and acted. The script is written in a way that makes logical sense, and the editing continues in this tradition.
Probably the biggest advantage this movie has is the time frame. This isn't a movie about great conquerors. The "kings" in this movie are little more than tribal chieftains fighting over what Rome left behind. The armies they lead are small. The castles are small. The fleets are small. Everything is small. But the story reflects the production. Just because Triston isn't leading the Greeks against Troy isn't an excuse for him to fight any less fiercely. The men in this movie fight as valiantly in small skirmishes of a few dozen as the men in more epic movies do in gigantic battles. These men are fighting for their homes and kings, and to them these battles are as great as any others.
Most importantly, this movie has a heart. The characters are not the most complex in history, but they have complexity enough for the story. More importantly, rather than blowing the casting budget on one or two big names, and hiring crappy actors to play everyone else, the director cast relative unknowns with real talent. These actors took their roles, and did their jobs. They did not try to steal the screen, and become the next Gibson. They told the story they were hired to tell, and tried to put as much emotion as possible into their character.
In the end, Tristan and Isolde is a movie that accepts the fact that it will never be a great movie, and settles for being a good movie. It finds middle ground in the movie world, and accomplishes what it sets out to do.
Crimson Force (2005)
This movie isn't that bad for the Sci-fi Channel. I noticed another person bashed it based on the first 14 minutes. Let me assure you it gets better. I honestly got the feeling the writer and/or director had some talent, because he seemed to know which actors to kill off, and which one's to let live.
The movie plays like a mixture of "Stargate SG-1" (the aliens speak English except when it sounds cooler to do otherwise) and "John Carter of Mars" (breeding with aliens, and the notion that martians live only through a fragile system of atmosphere preservation). I got the feeling, however, that it was being made by people who knew they'd have to use clichés to get through on time and on budget, but tried to be different where they could.
One of the most interesting aspects of the movie is the origin of mankind. It's actually a mixture of two old clichés, in a way I haven't seen before: 1. Aliens sent their criminals to another planet.
2. The aliens bred with the women of Earth (little more than apes then).
While the pure aliens died off from the disease in our atmosphere (as those that sent there their were 99% sure they would) before the first human was born, it seems that we humans survived. The aliens, after much deliberation, decided they couldn't just wipe us out, and over time (another cliché) used us to help them gather resources from Earth.
The motives in this movie are fairly simple, but not always totally black-and-white. In the end, you get what you pay for (divide your cable bill by all the movies and shows you watch per month for the price): A decent Sci-fi flick, if a rather silly one.
This movie was left open-ended for a sequel. To be honest, I think a show could be worked from it, although it isn't the obvious back-door pilot of many Sci-fi Channel movies. I would certainly tune in to see what happens next.
Good, but not perfect
I saw it last night at midnight. I liked a large portion of it, but I had 2 major issues, and a few quirks.
Major issues: 1. While I have nothing against R2's humorous antics (and a lot of people in the theater were cheering for him, and laughing) I felt they should have been saved for about mid-way through the movie. The opening sequence should have been far more serious. More or less everything prior to General Grevious smashing the window needs to be redone.
2. General Grevious. I mean, I've watched Clone Wars. We're talking about a droid who took on numerous Jedi, one-on-one, in lightsaber combat simultaneously. I have nothing against Obi-wan defeating him single-handed, but he should at least show some real skill with the lightsaber, like he did in CW.
Quirks: 1. We still haven't seen Natalie Portman in the metal bikini.
2. The Emperor and Anakin killed Mace Windu. Consider this: What if you had Windu locked into a battle scene with numerous clones and droids, when suddenly he heard something zooming in from overhead. He saw Slave 1 coming at him, releasing a sonic charge. He lowers his weapon, as he sees the inevitable coming. Slave 1 zooms away, and we cut to Boba Fett crying, as he whispers "Got him Dad." I have to admit I didn't come up with this idea, but it would have been perfect.
3. WHERE DID THOSE NAMES COME FROM! ARE YOU REALLY TELLING ME THAT PADME JUST PULLED "Luke" AND "Leia" OUT OF THIN AIR ON HER DEATH BED! 4. Why does everyone have to get their hands cut off? Is there some kind of symbolism in that I don't know about? 5. While it isn't as annoying as General Grevious, since his opponent was Anakin instead of Obi-wan, Dooku seemed weak this time.
6. YOU HAD KEISHA-CASTLE HUGHES! THE GIRL WAS NOMINATED FOR BEST ACTRESS AT THE AGE OF 12, AND THIS IS ONLY HER SECOND MOVIE! YET YOU CUT OUT EVERYTHING WITH HER IN IT EXCEPT A NON-SPEAKING CAMEO! To be honest I'm waiting for the DVD so I can see some deleted scenes. I also hope that Lucas will give Episodes I-III their first taste of tweaking for the 3-D releases.
The Godfather (1972)
I Hated this Movie
I read a while back that "The Godfather" was a favorite book of an author I enjoy. I hence picked up a copy, and was enthralled. I had heard how great the movie was so I watched it, and I was appalled.
I grant you, the movie follows the book closely, but it doesn't understand what makes the book work. Most of the actors know what to do, and Al Pacino is perfect, but Marlon Brando is clueless. Vito Corleone is NOT a thinly veiled thug. He is a caring man, who is forced to do some horrible things. But in the end he accomplishes far more good than evil. This only makes Micheal's transformation in the book more horrible, because the deaths he commits serve no such higher purpose.
Also, scenes of great importance are removed, Johnny Fontane is barely in it, Santino's girlfriend has a cameo, and the Doctor is nowhere to be found. I know these character's don't directly effect the plot, but they give it an emotional foundation to build upon. I cared about them more than any of the other characters. I know Coppola had to cut the book down for time to do a movie, but he would have been better off doing a mini-series instead.