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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Finds Promise but "Missing" Believability, 28 March 2012
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was hoping that "Missing" would blow me away, like "Taken" or "Bourne Ultimatum" or even "24."

Ashley Judd is certainly an actress who can pull off the trying role of anguished mother very effectively.

However, it's Judd unbelievability as an action star that continues to hurt this show. The viewing audience is conditioned to expect knock-down, drag-out fights or car chases.

Judd is somewhere between Claire Danes in "Homeland" and Maggie Q in "Nikita," alternating between wilting or wanting to take on the whole world. If she didn't try both aspects at the same time, it would be a lot better.

Well, enough of that. On to this episode.

Rebecca breaks yet another rule and heads to France where, years earlier, we learn she killed two French DGSE agents. She contacts the deputy director of the DGSE. He is Antoine Lussier (Joaquim de Almeida, from "Clear & Present Danger"). Like anyone who spends a career in covert intelligence, he has a lot of secrets.

Rebecca and Lussier make a deal. Lussier will find Rebecca's son, Michael, while Rebecca gives him Hard Drive, not a computer program but a man (Lothaire Bluteau looking eerily like Anthony Perkins) with a computer-like memory. He has secrets Lussier wants.

Bluteau clearly carries the episode, often being the voice of reason to counter Rebecca's character switches. Whether it's a rigged swap or infiltrating DGSE headquarters, Bluteau's Hard Drive is the model of efficiency and acting.

Rebecca, however, is not. She's supposed to be a professional, one of the CIA's best. Yet, at times, when she sees Michael being slapped around, she acts cries, freezes and acts like she hasn't got a clue. Okay, we get it. She's a mom (as she tells us 50 times). She wants to find her son. But, she's also one of the CIA's best agents. She should be like Jason Bourne when his girlfriend was murdered in India.

(Spoiler alert).

To get information on her son, Rebecca decides to break into DGSE HQ. Now, when Jason Bourne does it, it looks believable because the technical consultants go over the scene two hundred times and the director films it 50 times.

Rebecca has none of that. Instead, she has Hard Drive use a stolen ID badge to activate a fire alarm. The workers leave. Rebecca then scales a wall, runs across a beam, jumps to the floor of the main offices and goes right into the computer room.

She gets her info, lets Hard Drive in and then lets him hack Lussier's computer. Seems okay, right? Well, there's no believability in the entire scene. Not one person in the entire parking lot sees Rebecca scale the wall. No one sees her standing in plain view on the cross beam. No one sees her run across the floor or enter the computer room.

Are we to believe that DGSE headquarters does not have a security system, that there are no security cameras anywhere? And Rebecca gets the info she needs because ALL of the computers are logged in. Even a low-level government agency or business requires workers to log off or shut down computers in case of an emergency.

It's like the producers told the writers to hell with reality, just speed things along. When you think about, though, breaking into DGSE headquarters sounds like something an entire episode should be devoted to, not 15 minutes.

A couple of security officers investigate but Rebecca gives them a couple of backhands and they're out cold. If it's Jennifer Garner or Linda Hamilton, I'll believe it. But, not Ashley Judd.

When Lussier returns, he sees his computer was hacked and then sees a damning article on Wikileaks detailing all of his dirty dealings. Wikileaks has been a pain in the backside to many governments, but Julian Assange has never posted anything this fast.

Rebecca gets the info she wants, steals a motorcycle and races to an out-of-the-way airport. There, she sees her son being hustled onto a plane. She runs after it like that ever works on anything but "Walker, Texas Ranger," doesn't catch it (darn) and, she collapses to the ground, crying. Again, the professional goes bye-bye and the emotional wreck takes over.

As I said before, the show has promise but it can't be slapdash. It has got to be believable.

Ashley Judd's face may be puffy because of the medicine she's taking, but she still needs to hit the gym and get a personal trainer. Right now, she looks like what she is -- a movie actress desperate for work even if the role isn't a good fit.

There's still time to fix things (including getting Judd a personal trainer), but as Spielberg learned with "Terra Nova," a big name producer doesn't guarantee anything.

As it stands right now, the only thing "Missing" may be the show's name from the Fall 2012 lineup.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Horatio Lets the City of Miami Down Big Time, 8 March 2012
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of most irritating thing about TV cops is the writers' need to make them constantly appear humane, mostly through being overly attentive to females, both criminal and innocents.

Horatio Caine is among the worst (with CSI New York's Mac Taylor a close second, though neither holds a candle to Walker, Texas Ranger).

"Manhunt" shows the worst decision making of Caine thus far and the citizens of Miami pay for it dearly.

Five hardcore criminals escape from a maximum security penitentiary. One of them is Memmo Fierro (Robert LaSardo), the man who murdered Marisol Delko.

In short order, he robs and murders a wealthy boat owner, guns down emergency room nurses, blows a child case worker's brains out, wounds a foster mother and then gets away clean.

Meanwhile, Ivonne Hernandez, Memmo's former lover and mother of his daughter, Elsa, lies through her teeth time and again, only telling the truth after a bunch of innocent people are killed.

Eventually, Horatio and Eric Delko corner Memmo but, inexplicably, let him get away with a hostage (guess what happens to the hostage?) The writers have piled on the schmaltz in attempting to somehow paint Memmo Fierro as having noble ambitions with his killings. See, he is trying to rescue his daughter, Elsa, from a broken foster care system that let her fall through the cracks.

The nurses Memmo guns down in the ER just happen to be the same ones who turned away his daughter when she came in with second-degree burns from a household accident. Memmo found them out from Ivonne, but his lover failed to mention that the ER was very busy that night and Elsa could not be seen right away. Though the nurses (Vera Miao, Juliet Sorci) were a bit rude, they did suggest a different clinic that could help faster than Miami General.

The case worker is the same one who place Elsa in the home where she was burned. Ivonne told Memmo about him, too and he had his brains blown out.

We find out William McGuire, the head of the private foster care firm, is selling Elsa to a rich family. Yet, this fact is only revealed in the last five minutes and actually weakens the already thin plot.

Anyway, Ivonne gets to reunite with Elsa and things seem to go happily ever after. Yeah, Ivonne lies and people who might have been warned aren't so they die. Yet, she gets to reunite with her daughter.

Also, the boat owner's death is never explained. He is just a random victim, so how can Memmo justify that? Finally, Horatio suffers his greatest inexplicable action. Among all the dicey things he's done, letting Memmo go is the diciest.

Yes, McGuire was selling Elsa. But, does that justify letting a cold-blooded murderer take the man hostage since we all know what's going to happen? Delko has a shot, yet H stops him. When Memmo forces McGuire into a stolen cab, he lingers outside with his gun away from McGuire's head. Still, H doesn't shoot him. Memmo gets into the cab and gets away clean.

Later, Frank and the Miami Dade police find the cab, with McGuire dead inside. As Ivonne reunites with Elsa, we see a montage of the cab, McGuire's corpse and Memmo walking away into a crowd.

Really? Memmo gunned down Marisol in H's arms. He murdered a boat owner. He killed two nurses and wounded a cop in the ER. He murdered a child care caseworker, wounded a foster mother and Horatio lets him go? That means every death at Memmo's hands from now on will be blood on Horatio's hands, especially since we known Fierro returns next season to seize control of Mala Noche and wreak havoc on Miami.

Overall, there is very little CSI work, save for identifying that Ivonne broke into her daughter's bedroom, leaving behind two scraps of paper from a wire hanger cover.

The CSI's mostly running around failing to save anyone. They get lied to by Ivonne repeatedly and yet she comes out smelling like a rose. Memmo is turned from cold-blooded killer to sympathetic anti-hero and allowed to escape.

Not one of CSI: Miami's finest moments or episodes.

5 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Too Much Like Port-2-Port, 3 January 2012
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I think the NCIS writers are running out of ideas. Several old ones get rehashed in this episode.

Namely, a military Special Forces officer recruited into a secret ops unit to kill bad guys but who then turns on his fellow Americans and starts killing the good guys. Here, it's Stratton (Scott Wolf). Before, it was the P2P killer.

Also, federal agent suddenly can't trust even her closest friends and goes on the run. Here, it's E.J. Before, it's any number of episodes, from both "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles." You can also see it in "Criminal Minds" "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" when Goren went undercover to get his job back and nearly got killed by Eames.

And, finally, SPOILER ALERT: Killer finds NCIS safe house and blasts it only to find the target(s) in question weren't there. Here, of course, it's Stratton again. Before, it was Rivera (Marco Sanchez). The only cliché worse on this show (and its spin-off) is faking the death of bad guys who were forced to be bad because they or their families were threatened.

Anyway, in this episode, Stratton (aka Capt. Wolf) is still hunting E.J. who disappeared from the scene where he gunned down Cage and DiNozzo. Gibbs finds E.J. and puts her in a safe house with DiNozzo while he forces SecNav to get Latham to set Stratton up.

Needless to say, we all should known Latham's fate after this.

Overall, the show was rather average. In some ways, it was below average. There was no real tension. Even when Barrett made her grand entrance, you could see it coming from a mile away.

Abby and McGee really seemed to be wasted this time around. Ducky was almost on hiatus, while Director Vance must have been on vacation (hard to imagine Gibbs being able to interrupt SecNav's lunch without getting an earful from the director).

As for the finale, that was embarrassingly stale. Latham, before meeting his doom, tells Stratton where E.J. and DiNozzo are hiding. Stratton heads there, blows up the house with a rocket and then is herded by Gibbs, Ziva and McGee into a roadblock filled with heavily-armed SWAT and FBI agents. He smugly gives up, thinking Tony and E.J. are dead.

Gibbs then calls them and Stratton blanches to know they're still alive.

I would, too. SecNav and Latham both say Stratton was a top-notch Special Forces officer. A top-notch officer (any SpecFor officer, for that matter) would have cased the house to make sure the targets were there. This isn't some grieving corrupt Mexican cop who thinks his sister is already dead and is going to fire at anything that moves.

But, we should have expected it. The episode began with a Navy commander crashing full-speed into a parked car in a quiet neighborhood. He had been shot in the neck and killed. E.J. had been a passenger in the same truck and Stratton had been in a passing vehicle taking the shot. Two kids hear the crash and arrive on scene in seconds, yet Stratton's car is nowhere in sight on a straightaway street.

Even more puzzling, E.J. is nowhere to be seen either. If the killer was after her, he would have or should have seen her fleeing the truck. At the very least, he should have scoured the streets to look for her until he heard sirens. Yet, he allows her to escape on foot in a suburban area and then loses track of her until the last few minutes.

Finally, at the end, when Gibbs talks to a chained Stratton, he says he and Stratton are nothing alike. He doesn't kill innocent people.

Stratton then says he knows about Mexico, somehow inferring that the drug dealing father of Rivera and Paloma Reynosa was innocent. Of course, one can hope the writers finally got original and are setting us up for something else. Yet, Mexico has been done to death, what with Col. Bell, Reynosa, Rivera and Mike Franks. They need to pick another part of the world.

Perhaps all this time at no. 1 in the Nielsen's has made the writers soft. Maybe Mark Harmon, as executive producer, is coasting on his laurels while he devotes his creative energies to blasé dreck like "Certain Prey" and "Weathergirl." In this episode, the only remotely interesting thing is that Tony and Ziva begin making subtle romantic overtures to one another. Even here, unless it's done carefully, it's liable to come off clumsy (clue: watch the early years of "Cheers" and not the later years of "Moonlighting").

Here's hoping Harmon and company get back to the good stuff quick.

0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Stretches Reality Too Much, 27 December 2011
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The team flies to Los Angeles to help find a bank robber who is becoming more and more violent. At first, he simply robbed banks. Now, he humiliates customers and shoots the guards.

I would have ranked this one higher except it defied logic too many times. The unsub, named Sheppard (Jason Wiles), robs another bank but a customer hides and calls 911. L.A. Detective Murad (nice to see Marco Sanchez from "Sons of Thunder" and "Desperado" in here) announces it to the team. Yet, Hotchner, Gideon and company get stuck in traffic.

They arrive after Sheppard has made all the customers strip, has violated one of the women, has killed the guard and has hunted down and killed the man who called 911. He calmly walks out and cripples a meter maid before roaring off on a motorcycle. A minute later, here comes the BAU.

During the ensuing chase, Sheppard slips by numerous roadblocks and drives through the L.A. River Basin to escape. Not once does anyone shoot at him. They know he's already killed several people and yet, they let him get away. I realize the tension has to be drawn out but I have to wonder how letting a psychopathic killer escape makes the BAU effective.

Anyway, the real problem is that we, the viewing public, have to believe that, in Los Angeles, if someone calls in a bank robbery, the only cops who respond are coming in from the L.A. field office of the FBI, located in the LAPD main HQ. There was not another patrol unit nearby or cops on lunch in a nearby restaurant or off-duty cops in the vicinity? I will admit I have relatives who are cops but I hate any police procedural that makes the local cops look incompetent or the Feds look like cold-blooded jackasses.

I am keeping in mind that this in only the second season of the show, so the writing isn't quite there yet. However, Mandy Patinkin is already showing the same character he portrayed in "Chicago Hope." I wish he would slip up and let out a little Inago Montoya from time to time.

On a brighter note, the cast is beginning to finally develop the character traits that will make them three-dimensional. Reid is still awkwardly trying to fit in. In a previous episode, Elle made a mental profile of an unsub who was an arsonist and it fit Reid to a tee, so he knows he needs to open up more.

Hotchner's home life is unraveling and he keeps putting off his wife, who wants to talk about that no cop ever wants to hear -- the need to quit.

The only disappointing member is Derek, who remains basically the same 2-D character even into the current season (even the episode about him revealing childhood sexual abuse failed to make a dent in his hard exterior).

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
This Is Payback For Canada Helping Us in NATO, 18 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Canada must have us by the you-know-what. They help us in Afghanistan and we have to keep importing these awful Canadian dramas and TV shows.

Case in point, "The Perfect Roommate," which feels like two movies rolled into one.

The plot is atrocious and outrageous, not to mention far-fetched. The acting is barely passable and the dialogue is almost funny at times. As a villainess, Boti Bliss should have asked for her role back on "CSI: Miami" to at least see what a villain should be like.

William R. Moses should be ashamed. He starred convincingly on "Falcon Crest" for 11 years and then did about a decade's worth of "Perry Mason" movies. Yet, in this film, he's not just naive, he incredibly naive.

The plot is basically a conniving murderer and her ex-con friend go after the filthy rich Richard Dunnfield (Moses). To do it, Carrie Remington (Bliss) plays the femme fatale. Less than a year removed from framing her former husband for a murder she and her friend Anna (Cinthia Burke) committed, she gets a job as a waitress with Richard's daughter Ashley (Ashley Leggat). She then worms her way into Ashley's life as her roommate and uses that as a springboard to hook up with Richard who, by turning 50, apparently has dementia.

The plot is ridiculous. The movie begins by having the police arrest Carrie's former husband. Then, he completely disappears from the movie until about midway when he's referenced for two seconds.

Anna breaks into Ashley's car and steals her computer, which she uses to find out information on her and her father. Apparently, no one in Canada uses passwords as Carrie and Anna have no problem getting into anyone's e-mail accounts. Carrie waltzes into the café's employee file room and steals Ashley's personnel jacket.

She finds out Ashley's allergic to shellfish, poisons her and spikes the antidote. Then, she throws away the tainted food and disposes of the antidote she tampered with. Ashley never gets wise to it and lets it slide. No lawsuits, no talking to a lawyer, no nothing.

I won't go into all of it, but the movie loses credibility right from the start for one reason -- Boti Bliss. If you're filthy rich like Dunnfield, you get a trophy wife like Paula Wickless (Teresa Donovan). Paula gets bumped off by Anna so Carrie can have no obstruction to her seduction of Richard.

Let's face it. Bliss is not a hottie by any stretch of the imagination. Otherwise, she would have been more than just a recurring forensics tech on "CSI: Miami." She'd have been up there with Eva LaRue.

In this movie, Bliss looks even worse. Her hair makes her look like Meryl Streep in "A Cry in the Dark." She also looks like she's had a bad breast job and facial cosmetic surgery. Her backside is too wide and she looks ridiculous running around in Ashley's style of clothing. And we have to believe Richard would fall head over heels for her instead of the gorgeous Paula.

As the cold-blooded killer Anna, Burke is serviceable. Yet, she is two-dimensional and gets no time to even halfway develop her character. She's like a stock red herring-style character from, well, from just about any number of Canadian Lifetime Movie flicks.

It seems as if this movie should either have had Bliss as a demented roommate of Ashley a la "Single White Female" or had Donovan as an evil woman trying to seduce and then kill Dunnfield. Trying to combine the two and using Bliss in a role she was ill-suited for only resulted in an epic fail.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Perfect for Lifetime, Way Imperfect for the Rest of Us, 2 July 2011
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I came across this movie on the Lifetime Movie Network this past Saturday while scrolling the channels. I probably should have flipped back to "Quatermass and The Pit" on TCM or "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" on AMC.

Anyway, this movie, which is an "in name only" sequel to the less-than-stellar "Glass House," concerns Eve (Angie Harmon) and Raymond Goode (Joel Gretsch), who have just lost their son David. They become foster parents to Abby (Jordan Hinson) and Ethan (Bobby Coleman).

Right off the bat, Eve, who suffers from Munchausen's Syndrome, goes overboard in being a good mother, to the point of being psychotic. She ultimately terrorizes the children by stitching up wounds with no anesthesia, "curing" rashes with oven cleaner, etc.

You can read other reviews for the gist of the story. Harmon is an amazing actress. However, she is hampered by her goody-two shoes image. It's hard to imagine her as a villain, especially when she almost comically snarls, rears back and gives Abby a Steffi Graf-level backhand.

Hinson is adequate as Abby. Gretsch is completely useless as the spineless hubby Ray and the actor annoys by being up and down in his performance, as if he's following the director's cue every moment.

The worst part of the movie is the entire premise. The Goodes are wealthy yet we never see them at work, though Eve is supposed to be a nurse. We don't know what Ray does but the pair have a huge Gothic-style mansion and a large estate. Yet, we see no groundskeepers, no maids, no gardeners.

We learn the Goodes took in another kid before David but he simply disappeared. But, no one from Child Services bothers to ask what happened to him before giving the Goodes more kids to destroy.

The kids don't go to school, yet no one comes around to ask. Even worse, Abby never leaves the grounds. She doesn't do anything a normal teen girl does -- call friends, make friends, head to the mall, hang out, text. She doesn't even make phone calls to the police to alert them to what's happening to her.

The movie is low-budget which hampers the director's ability to have the police come out in force. However, that doesn't excuse the director from doing common sense things to give his film credibility.

Finally, the ending is totally contrived and uses just about every cliché in the Hollywood suburban thriller handbook. Abby can't do anything to get out of the house. The lone cop (Jason London) never calls for backup even after discovering a body. Eve is kicked down a flight of stairs and cracks her head -- twice. Yet, is up and brandishing a cleaver with no ill effects. Even Ray, the spineless hubby, finally grows one and saves the day with a gun out of nowhere.

The whole movie would fit neatly into the Lifetime network's brand of tear-jerker, damsel in improbably danger kind of plot. For the rest of us, it's just lazy, clichéd and imperfect.

1 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A Good Show but Unrealistic to Prove Its Point, 24 June 2011
6/10

I'll admit that I was very skeptical when this show came on because it was a Canadian show going up against American cop dramas. But, it does have its moments.

The SRU definitely have a way with words and it's nice to see cops try to talk a perp down from a situation much like negotiators do in real life.

What gets me down on this show is that it goes out of its way not to solve issues with violence, but to the point of being contrived. For example, in one episode, a kid who wants to be the next Son of Sam is holed up in a motel room with a violent felon.

He pistol whips the ex-con and escapes through a secret hatch into the sewer. The hatch is beneath a carefully made-up bed and a carpet so smooth it isn't wrinkled. The room is also on the second floor. So, we have to believe he pistol-whipped the felon, lifted the bed, pulled back the rug, lifted the hatch to the sewer and got down there through another room. Meanwhile, the hatch is put back, the rug smoothed over and bed set back down, the sheets and blanket neatly fixed by an unconscious man on the floor.

I'm not sure if the Toronto emergency response team that the SRU is based on is based on the SEALs or Delta team, but it's difficult to watch a team that is "Law & Order," "CSI," "SVU" and Goren from "Criminal Intent" all rolled into one.

Still, Hugh Dillon carries his weight. Amy Jo Johnson is okay, although I still can't picture her as anything but the Pink Ranger.

Personally, I'll stick to "Criminal Intent" until it ends. I don't think I'll replace it with "Flashpoint."

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Why Stephen King Should Stick to Writing, 25 February 2011
4/10

"Maximum Overdrive" isn't a dreadful movie, but neither can it be considered any kind of classic as some reviewers have anointed. At best (or worst), it's just a slightly below average flick by a first-time director. It's only real draw is that it's Stephen King's directorial debut and swansong (or ugly duckling, depending on your viewpoint).

If you haven't guessed, King took his classic short story "Trucks" and fleshed it out into a full-length movie. He also took the directorial reins for the only time.

The movie deals with the after-effects of a comet that passes Earth, bathing the planet in its tail radiation for three days. As a result, trucks and other mechanical items come to life with deadly results. A group of survivors gather in a roadside diner as semis besiege them.

Some have described the movie as tongue-in-cheek and some of the performances might make you think so. But, the movie, overall, tries hard to be dramatic and kills the humorous side of it early on.

The problems here in the movie come mainly from King himself. If you've ever read his stories, he puts so much detail into them that the reader can not only believe them, but imagine that they are part of the tale. Of course, words often work better than pictures because we have to imagine what we're reading.

In "Maximum Overdrive," King adds in a lot of inconsistencies. Trucks come to life, but not cars. An M-60 not only shoots more bullets than it carries but somehow manages to swivel around on its own. Yet, no other gun in the movie fires on its own.

Somehow we are supposed to believe that an electric knife can come to life and chase a waitress. A hairdryer can somehow choke a woman to death with its cord. A Walkman can kill a man by sending...what, a weak battery surge into his ears? King lets us down with his lack of believability, surprising from a man who terrorized us with a demonic dry cleaning press ("The Mangler" short story).

The cast is not awful, but not great. Emilio Estevez as the hero is, well, just okay. Not particularly believable but he gives it some gusto. Yeardley Smith as one half of a married couple is hilarious and it's fun to listen to her, if only to hear shades of Lisa Simpson and other characters she did on shows like "Herman's Head," "Brothers" and "Dharma & Greg."

Laura Harrington as "Brett" is so bland she blends in with the woodwork. Oddly, she dresses like Emilio's fellow Brat Packers. Pat Hingle is over-the-top (as usual), but after about 30 minutes you just want to kick his a**. The only person more annoying is waitress Wanda June (Ellen McEldruff), who actually makes you want to see her killed (not a spoiler alert since you know she has to buy it).

Fortunately, a few supporting cast members liven things up a little. J.C. Quinn and Frankie Faison as truckers aren't around enough. Look for Leon Rippy ("Saving Grace," "Eight-Legged Freaks"), Giancarlo Esposito ("Do the Right Thing," "Homicide: Life on the Streets"), the ever reliable stuntman/actor Dean Mumford and even Marla Maples before she added "Trump." King himself has a cameo as a not-too-bright man at an ATM.

The trucks here look fairly menacing (when you're not accidentally seeing their stunt drivers), the one with the Green Goblin exterior is especially terrifying. Unfortunately, when the trucks actually attack, it's sort of lackluster because the survivors become rather stupid. So, it seems more like the victims were just idiots instead of the trucks being homicidal.

King tries but can't make the trucks as terrifying as he can in his story. He probably could have had he followed his own words. For example, in the story, a man makes a run for the diner and escapes the main truck. He staggers for the door only to have a smaller, faster moving van come from the side and knock him out of his shoes. Such a scene in this movie could have gone a long way in making it scarier.

The action scenes are also so-so. While most of us try to figure out why Pat Hingle has an arsenal in the basement of the diner, the survivors don't really put that arsenal to good use. And when they do, it's hard not to laugh. Whether it's Hingle reloading and firing a LAW rocket launcher (a single-shot weapon) or waitress Wanda firing the same launcher almost straight up and having the rocket shoot straight out, it looks as if King thought a few explosions would liven up his dull script.

Try as he might, King is totally out of his element. For whatever reason, he cannot re-create the suspense and terror of his short story. He can't impart the sense of foreboding or doom.

That said, King does include a killer soundtrack with AC/DC, so you can score him one for that.

In the end, we have characters we really don't care about fighting trucks that are about as terrifying as Tonka toys.

It's easy to see why King never directed another film.

A lot of fun and a lot of errors, 20 September 2007
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I would have rated it hire if the producers hadn't tried to cram so much action down our throats. "The Mummy Returns" picks up seven years after the first film. Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evie (Rachel Weisz) are married and have a precocious (and stereotypical) son named Alex (Freddie Boath).

Unfortunately, their peace is about to be shattered. Anck Su Namun (the incredibly gorgeous Patricia Velasquez) has been reincarnated. She has teamed up with a museum curator (Alun Armstrong) and his cult, led by Lock-Nah (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who should get an award just for hanging onto such an difficult name in Hollywood circles). Together, they excavate the ruins of Hamunaptra and unearth Imhotep. Later, they will revive him in London, try to revive the Bracelet of Anubis, kidnap Evie, sic mummies on Rick, Jonathan and Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr), kidnap Alex and lead our heroes on a dangerous search for the Oasis of Ahm Shere, where Imhotep hopes to defeat the fabled Scorpion King (played mostly in CG by The Rock) and take control of the Army of Anubis.

Whew, that's a mouthful. The film has great action. A big fight scene in Rick's house, both upstairs and downstairs. A shoot-out in a museum. An exciting bus chase through the streets of London. A race between a tidal wave and a dirigible. An attack by strange-looking (and, ultimately, annoying) pygmy skeletons. A showdown between Imhotep and Rick, Jonathan and Anck Su Namun and then Evie and Anck Su Namun.

Definitely worth the price of admission.

However, the film had too many errors to warrant more than a five. Let's face it. Most movies had continuity errors (even "Raiders of the Lost Ark") but this film goes way beyond normal. It's almost like no research was done for this film and the director just went for what he thought the world of 1933 would look like.

For example:

1) There's a woman-on-woman fight scene in ancient Egypt before Pharoah Seti I, featuring sai blades. Sai blades were not in Egypt, but were created in China during the Ming Dynasty, which did not come about until 1368.

2) Alex's slingshot wasn't made until 1954.

3) Jonathan breaks off a key in the ignition of Rick's limousine, yet ignition keys for cars didn't come around until 1949.

4) The double-decker bus Jonathan commandeers in London was not designed until 1954.

5) Izzy (Shaun Parks), pilot of the dirigible that takes Rick and Evie to Ahm Shere, uses a fire extinguisher that seems old but wasn't made until 1980.

6) Alex is supposed to be eight years old. The Three Stooges -- actually three schmucks (Bruce Byron, Joe Dixon, Tom Fisher) written in only to be cannon fodder for Imhotep's assimilation -- comment that the Black Book of the Dead meant death for the Yanks of the original film nine years earlier. Much of the original film was set in 1926, a mere 7(!!!) years earlier. Somehow, the script writers fixated on 1923, the year in which the original movie was begun (remember, after Rick's escape from Hamunaptra, the film advanced three years to 1926).

7) There are a few other major hits, but none worse than (possible spoiler) a massive fight between the 12 Tribes of the Medjai and Anubis' warrior army. The 12 tribes seem to have 10,000 men on horseback. After the first round of battle, they're whittled down to several hundred, but we see not one body -- of Medjai or horse nor will we. If the film was trying to capture the magnificence of "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" or even "Spartacus," it failed horribly.

But, perhaps the most egregious problem is how the sequel screws up the events of the original film. In "The Mummy Returns," Evie is presented as the physical and spiritual reincarnation of Nefertiri, daughter of Seti I. In the first film, however, Imhotep mistakes Evie for a reincarnation of Anck Su Namun. How could he have not recognized Nefertiri? In "TMR," he doesn't seem to recognize her as Nefertiri either. In fact, Anck Su Namun doesn't recognize Evie as Nefertiri until almost the end of the film. What gives?

Also, at the end of the first film, when Imhotep sinks into the Well of Souls, he loses all the life he ripped from the Americans and the Egyptologist. We see his eyes and tongue go last. In "TMR," he reawakens with eyes and a tongue.

Oh, well, maybe I'm being too harsh. Brendan Fraser was his usual cool self and Arnold Vosloo almost stole the show again. The Rock was not in the film enough (but was in "The Scorpion King" way too much). The fight scene between Rick and Imhotep was fantastic with its array of weapons. It was also nice to see Jonathan stop being a cowardly wuss and Alex did tone down the annoying "mischievous kid" act by the end of the film. Anck Su Namun was particular seductive and evil (see her first meeting with Alex), although I had a hard time believing how her (oops, spoiler potential)...demise was presented. It seemed suddenly out of character and forced.

So, just go with the flow on this on. Watch it for the action and try not to be too cerebral. For action flicks, thinking too much can hurt.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
One of the best Westerns of all time, 22 February 2005
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Richard Brooks still hasn't gotten the adulation he deserves for this 1966 classic, which easily ranks up there with "The Magnificent Seven," "The Wild Bunch" and "Once Upon A Time in the West."

Basically, the plot concerns slimy multimillionaire J.W. Grant (perfectly portrayed by film legend Ralph Bellamy) hiring four mercenaries to rescue his kidnapped wife (Claudia Cardinale, who isn't Mexican, but when you see her, you won't care) from a brutal Mexican revolutionary names Jesus Raza (Jack Palance, also not Mexican but who cares?). Grant promises to pay each mercenary $10,000 for the safe return of his wife.

The Professionals are slick and well cast. Lee Marvin, late to the silver screen after a successful TV career on "M Squad," is Henry "Rico" Fardan, an Army veteran of the Spanish-American War and former compatriot of Raza when both rode with Pancho Villa. Burt Lancaster is Bill Dolworth, a dynamiter and adventurer without principle. Football legend Woody Strode plays Jacob Sharp, an expert tracker. Robert Ryan is Hans Ehrengard, a master horseman and pack master.

They're given an almost impossible assignment and slowly learn throughout the film that all is not what it seems. There's plenty of action, including Raza's revolutionaries defeating a trainload of the Mexican army's toughest soldiers and an attack on Raza hideout that has to be seen to be believed.

Some of the previous comments have complained that, in real life, such an attack would be impossible. In reality, it wouldn't be too difficult. In 1983, when the U.S. invaded Grenada, four Navy SEALS held off a battalion of Cuban soldiers for two hours, inflicting heavy casualties. And it is standard procedure for modern armies to send in scouts, who can slip easily through enemy lines to gather intelligence. You'll find plenty of examples in history, including the American Revolution and Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

That said, the acting is first-rate. It's clear that all four mercenaries have seen better times. Lancaster is sprung from jail for the mission because he gambled with money he didn't have and lost. Army vet Marvin is stuck demonstrating machine guns for the U.S. Army for $40 a week. Strode is still having to run down fugitives to make a living. A clearly aged Ryan is still running ranch operations when he should be living the quiet life in retirement. For each, $10,000 is too much of an opportunity to pass up, no matter what it calls for.

The supporting cast is also first-rate, especially Marie Gomez. Director Brooks puts in a lot of tension, too, with blazing action scenes, an all too real ambush and a potential shootout that almost blows the entire mission out of the water.

Personally, I believe the best part of the movie is the attack on the Hacienda, Raza's hideout. Marvin and Lancaster, knowing the truth about the kidnapping, still go through with the rescue. It's too late to turn back because the fuse on the dynamite is about to send things sky-high. Their code of the professional is too great for them to beat a hasty retreat.

To answer some other critics, yes, the Mexicans have a hard time shooting straight (in two scenes in particular). But, the film doesn't portray them as imbeciles. In real life, Villa's revolutionaries often held fiestas after victories. In their desert hideouts, they were (rightly) convinced they were safe. In real life, if someone shot arrows with dynamite taped to them, all hell would break loose.

Also, someone said nobody would try to shoot from horseback with bolt action rifles. Au contraire. It was typical of both Villa's men and the Mexican army cavalry to use bolt action rifles. The U.S. wouldn't sell repeating rifles to Mexico and pistols were hard to come by. Keep in mind that most revolutionaries, no matter how dedicated or fanatic (like the Iraqi insurgents or extremist American militias), are essentially amateurs. They take what they're given, counting on fear and surprise to help them out.

All in all, it's a great film, despite the stilted Mexican accents of Claudia Cardinale and Jack Palance. Pick this one up on DVD as soon as possible before the oft-delayed remake shreds its credibility.


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