Reviews written by registered user
anderbilt

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44 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Read The Book Too, 16 January 2016
4/10

"Starship Troopers," as shown by the many reviews here, is a movie which is either greatly enjoyed or highly loathed by those who have seen it. The question of the difference rests on two matters, whether the movie is clever satire or not, and the larger question of whether a movie based on a book is obligated to stick to the book's ideas or not. For "Starship Troopers" the movie has very little in common at all with the 1959 Heinlein novel by that name.

In the marketplace of ideas, words mean things or ideas have no meaning. Words mean things, and the authors' words in a book which carry a story, an idea, should be what we discuss when a major title by a famous author is the subject. In a perfect world, when people encounter the flashy, colorful, cartoonish and violent film "Starship Troopers," they would take that occasion to spring off to their library or Kindle to read the Heinlein novel of the same name, and then reflect on the differences between the book and the movie.

Robert Anson Heinlein was born prior to World War One, and the mechanical engineer found his career as an officer in the U-S Navy cut short by a physical disability. He turned his writing skills, scientific knowledge and imagination to the field of science fiction beginning in the late 1930's, and until his death in 1988 he published a wealth of short stories, novellas and large novels. His output included the many stories of his Alternate History timeline, and controversial novels including "Stranger in a Strange Land," and one called "Starship Troopers."

Fans of Heinlein would consider him as important or more important than Ayn Rand, as a voice against the corruption of collectivism and the enslavement of free men. He explored and shared his real life military and political experiences in a twice-released volume called "Expanded Universe" (which fans would highly recommend to anyone.) Like Rand, he is held aloft by those who love him, and those who admire while disagreeing with him; he is vilified by those who detest his ideas, and write him off as a jingoist, a simplistic scribbler of boy's tall tales, a hack. Like Rand, he uses his fiction as a platform for ideas and ideals, uniquely American, and the stories often are a pessimistic projection of how Man is likely to screw up a good thing.

Look at the time when Heinlein wrote the book. He knew the WWII veterans we call "The Greatest Generation" today, he knew the Korean war veterans who gave their all for a war that ended in a stalemate. His book shows us a world where the future breakdown of society offers the chance for the greatest stakeholder in freedom, the veteran, to take charge of political leadership and policy as post- service veterans who attain the highest form of citizen franchise. Civilian non-citizens abound in that society, free to pursue riches and fame and personal fulfillment without the weight of political power and responsibility, presumably protecting those higher seats of power from the corruption they actually fall prey to.

Until recently our own society required an honorable service record of those who run for Congress or the Presidency; the low voter turnout numbers in most elections today show that the majority of us are already happy to leave our policies and leadership in the hands of a small plurality of decision makers. So exactly HOW different is the Terra of "Starship Troopers" from the USA of today? Not very.

Yet, the need to destroy the central ideas explored in the book have resulted in the bright, glib, "satirical" film of the same name. While the book would ask us to think rationally about many things, the movie would warn us away from the book by telling a different story, of a post-"Rollerball" world where the young and able-bodied are lured by marketing to take part in a hideous war to serve the Hitlerian Oligarchy. We are shocked by the visuals, urged to react emotionally, to never think about that world or its issues.

Paul Verhoeven takes the anti-corporate vibe of "Robocop" and the sci-fi veneer of "Total Recall" to bring the look and feel of the science fiction genre and leave the viewer with the impression that another great science fiction "gotcha" has happened to the dumb capitalists and fascists again. Nothing of the sort has happened, though you wouldn't understand the full nature of the direct intellectual attack on Heinlein's ideas if you hadn't also read the book.

If Heinlein HAD written this kind of story (and he was no stranger to satire) this probably would have been a vastly better movie. Its failure in Verhoeven's hands presumably would then have been no greater than Mike Nichols' failure to adequately capture "Catch 22." Since Heinlein had no connection whatsoever to the content of the movie "Starship Troopers," I have no way to judge it as satire or science fiction, it seems to fail miserably on both counts.

If you REALLY want to see what Heinlein was telling us about Man in "Starship Troopers," see James Cameron's "Aliens" and watch the space marines travelling with Ripley to the xenomorph's planet. Heinlein could have written them. If you want to see anti- corporate satire consistent with Heinlein's ideas in "Starship Troopers," go see another Cameron film, "Avatar." But DO NOT see the movie "Starship Troopers."

I find the value of this movie in its CGI work and some interesting aspects of Verhoeven's approach to production design. So it's a 4.

"Sense8" (2015)
5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
"GESTALT" Is The Word You're All Reaching For, 26 September 2015
10/10

Before we get to the main topic, I must say it's sad to see another large set of user reviews peppered with an oddly similar series of entries. The reviews are from a variety of different users, but they all say variations of this same thing:

"I started watching the show after seeing it listed as sci-fi. It's a slow badly written badly acted show packed with gratuitous gay sex and shocking images. Watch if you want the biggest waste of twelve hours ever."

I simply note the oddness of the numerous examples of this, as I've seen with many other recent films, "Chef" comes to mind. It comes off as a calculated and needless trashing, done by a person who hasn't necessarily even seen the work. If someone reading this is posting this kind of stuff, please stop it. There, done.

The first week this show was released, I noticed a lot of the positive comments on Facebook, and decided to try it out. I watched the first two episodes, and stopped. I noted the sexuality and did feel it might have been a little agenda-driven. A couple of weeks later, I watched part of episode three and started noticing things about the way the characters were connecting so I started from the very beginning. I finished my total binge three days later, finally 'getting it.'

The idea of a so-called "gestalt" organism is famously found in the early 1950's novel "More Than Human," expanded from a short story "Baby Is Three" both by Theodore Sturgeon. It tells the story of the emergence of a new group life form, assembled by a man who is driven by a mysterious urge to assemble a group of orphaned children with unique abilities.

Beyond the barest notion of the idea of a gestalt organism, Sense8 is wholly unrelated to the Sturgeon story. In fact it's unrelated to anything I can remember ever seeing or reading. Sense8 accomplishes this rare thing in science fiction thematics, and then goes further in weaving together these scattered lives into a new sort of mosaic that expands the characters' own horizons, and vicariously, ours too.

You read in other good and bad reviews that there is explicit sexual content, much of it homoerotic. True. There is also a lot of graphically extreme violence in some of the later episodes, so watch it with that in mind.

I watched it myself the first week it was released, then a few months later I watched it again with my wife and we binged it in a few days. I know I'll watch it again sometime during the next year. It's not for everyone obviously, but if it's for you, you won't want it to stop.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
News-spawned Concept Exeeds and Excels, 25 April 2015
10/10

My wife and I missed the first couple of seasons of this show, but over the last few seasons have become quite hooked on "The Good Wife," going as far now as to proclaim it the most excellent show on television at the moment.

We began to take an interest in the show just after Will and Alicia's breakup, and the startup of Florrick Agos. The writing is spectacular, the performances are fabulous, and the look and feel of the show attains a level so few other shows can even come close to. Much of what passes for popular television today is actually jarring at the point where it needs to help the viewer suspend disbelief and buy into the experience. Jiggly camera, annoying cinematography, and bad writing really rule the day. This show is better by orders of magnitude than most anything out there.

Kudos to Robert and Michelle King, and everyone involved. Thanks for such a well-handled and exquisitely written series. It is fantastic that you can achieve such a composed and poetic product in the grind of weekly television.

This show is obviously a labor of love, and it is received and appreciated in the same spirit at my house.

Chef (2014)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Spoiler: It's about a Chef, 11 April 2015
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just saw this movie last night and was knocked out, as I usually find myself to be from a Jon Favreau film. True, he's no Orson Welles but who needs another Orson Welles? The world can definitely use more Favreaus.

"Chef" achieves that level of mastery that divides great writer/directors from good writer/directors. Like many great stories, it's a story about someone becoming suddenly aware of their ongoing slow decline, aware of their own part in it, and where that takes them. It's a film that touches on some traditional Hollywood plot premises, man-with-estranged-son, work-a-holic-breakdown, etc. and turns these plot premises to a unique and organically-told story, instead of mining for pathos.

Thankfully Favreau lets a fun personal-journey story tell itself, and avoids the clichés found in so many lesser movies when they don't trust the potential of their own stories. Watching with my wife, we'd say to each other, "oh here's where the vindictive ex cuts off contact with the son to make matters worse," or "oh, here's where the kid accidentally burns himself because chef-dad doesn't understand that kids have limits," but those fakey twists never happened.

At the onset, the viewer knows Caspar's days at Riva's restaurant are numbered, and why; after that the movie is one pleasant surprise after the next as the story of Caspar's passage back to himself is told through the events surrounding these uniquely drawn characters.

The soundtracks from this movie are worthy of mention as well; they feature some of the most infectiously fun Cuban/Latin songs ever performed, which provide a wonderful foreshadowing in the early parts of the film and underscore the movement of the plot throughout.

I wouldn't trade for anything, the joy I felt last night while viewing this film for the first time.

On IMDb, I always choose the 'chronological' filter when I'm reading the movie reviews by users. If you do that on this review section and scan the first few pages, you're going to run into at least a half dozen one-star reviews for this movie. Without exception, these one-star reviews are ad hominem attacks on Favreau; brutal and thoroughly incorrect trashings of the movie based on what can only be called outright lies and distortions.

The only reason you'd write and post things like this would be to hone and sharpen your own ability to engage in propaganda and rhetorical warfare, to magnify your ability to quickly deter others from viewing a thing regardless of its actual content. If so, it's the most cynical and horrible abuse of this website that I can conceive. It's right out of Goebbels. Stop it already.

See this movie.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Standing On The Verge Of ..., 29 March 2015
10/10

This episode was a deeply affecting conclusion to a very transitional series for this show. Series 6 of this show took some heat from longtime fans as being too much of a departure from the story as it had been established over the previous five series. You can read such comments in the reviews linked to the main IMDb page for this show.

It's a dilemma many shows in the U-S face in their later seasons. Do we introduce change for the beloved characters, such as normal people would encounter in their lives, or do we double down our bets on fan expectations and lavish on them more of the things they already love and depend on in the show? Most shows choose to cater to the fan base, to their detriment as plots become more boring and improbable. Some shows choose to embrace change in order to keep their original premise intact, and this is how I prefer to view Series 6 of Doc Martin.

I missed a few of the episodes, but I was glad to see something new in the lives of these characters, changes in their outlooks and attitudes, changes in their situation, such as people encounter. I loved the stories I saw, and I was so unprepared for the final moments of this episode. This season finale was filled with unrest and anger, and decisions and new directions. Changing the most: Dr Ellingham, resolving issues with his mother, building new closeness with his Aunt Ruth, and by the end of this episode, fully knowing the content of his own yearning heart for once.

I have hopes for the next series of this show. I'm glad it's in a place where I can't possibly anticipate what's going to happen. Martin and Louisa are the closest they have ever been to finally getting over themselves and getting it right, and that's exciting.

I Have A Soft Spot For This Episode, 24 September 2014
8/10

I was able to binge-watch all episodes of the first three seasons of Drop Dead Diva, just about the time that the fourth season was set to premiere on Lifetime.

Those 39 episodes were wonderfully entertaining, with a great continuing storyline and engaging performers. The saga of Jane/Deb and the course of her romantic life in those three seasons will always be among my favorite moments spent in front of a TV screen.

I'm commending this particular episode because I kept watching the show into season four, then season five, and I'm now debating whether to spring for a season six download on I-Tunes. I would be numbered among the fans who disliked the many changes and troubling plot choices that were made in the final three seasons of the show. Yet I loved the overall story.

This episode, the so-called cliffhanger of Season Three is the last of what I would call the 'sublime' episodes of the show. This episode, coupled with the first episode of season four, make a great resolving two-part finale in my mind, and I would recommend it as such.

"Forever" (2014)
30 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
A Promising Start, An Imaginative Premise, 23 September 2014
7/10

It was exciting to see the premiere episode of this show this week on ABC. Let's hope it was the start of something big.

We are introduced to a NYC medical examiner named Henry Morgan, his lab assistant, his best friend, and a police detective with a lot of questions; not to mention an elusive villain and a clear promise of seasons of intrigue.

A show like this, high-concept, is always problematic for fans. For many fans of milder reality-based sci-fi concepts, the risk of diving into such a show carries the possibility that it will grind to a halt in only a dozen episodes or so, like Awake. Or that the story ideas will end up twisted into some kind of poorly written Gordian knot like Alphas did.

I'm forging ahead on faith in the talented players, and the track record of the main show runners, Brad Anderson and Matthew Miller. What I saw in Monday's premier of Forever was well within the best that I'd expect from this duo.

This is gonna be GREAT and I personally hope a lot of other people feel that way as well.

9/24/14 ADDENDUM - following episode two: after an outstanding premiere which aired Monday, episode two was amazingly tedious, with a plot borrowed from 85 episodes of "Bones." I still expect more of this show in the coming weeks but wow, let's bring the 'a' game.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Series Six was outstanding, 25 August 2014
9/10

I would heartily recommend this series to any and all fans of romantic comedy/drama, and I would give a hearty thanks to the creators, producers and actors involved with Doc Martin.

I want to take this opportunity to single out the most recent season, season six, for special commendation. Thank you for not giving in to any temptation to provide the so-called 'storybook' happy ending to the courtship of Dr Ellingham and Louisa, which some fans seemed to be calling for. Both have personal baggage related to their upbringings that reinforces the impasse they face in their relationship, and it's this slow passage through the process resolving their issues which makes these stories such a joy.

I personally found season six to be greatly interesting and entertaining, in the stories and the life-changes faced by all of the regular characters. And I absolutely was not prepared for the emotional impact of the final moments of the season's final episode.

Well done. I'm ready for much more.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
I Really Really Liked It, 1 March 2014
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

More than a few actors have commented on the difference between television and movies; namely that movies have a start, middle and end, while television is "all middle." I'm not surprised that many longtime fans of the show didn't know what to make of the ENDING. TV isn't supposed to end, after all. Yet this show did end, and I think it did so excellently.

I'm in the midst of watching Battlestar Galactica 2004 all the way through for the fourth time. It is not only the finest science fiction show I've ever seen, it is so great that it has positively ruined my ability to watch most other television shows. So I don't mind watching it again, even through to the somewhat controversial ending.

The four seasons of this series accomplished an amazing amount of things, from engaging action and adventure, to a compelling study of the human condition. It went to the extent of examining human religion and notions of God, and even to the extent of building a bridge of sorts between God and Science. There's where the atheist and agnostic find fault.

When the non-religious react to the mention of God, it's troubling when they leap to the central tenet of their own 'religion', which is the belief that anyone who believes in or needs God is weak minded or defective in some way that the non-religious are not.

The tragic result of this is that they're not equipped to enjoy the rich aspect of this show in its examination of religion. There ends my sermon on that topic.

To the main contrary question - did this finale do a disservice to the series Battlestar Galactica, I would have to say NO. Was it among the ten most exciting episodes, dramatic episodes, action-packed episodes? No, no and no.

Since it's "end" and not more "middle," a finale of this sort won't feel like what you loved about the show. The best you can hope for is something that comes logically forward from what has happened, that brings your beloved characters to as satisfying an endpoint as possible, and if you're lucky, still gives you one last surprise or twist on the way out. THIS is what Daybreak 1, 2 and 3 have done.

What was problematic or illogical? Not much. The metal centurions were sufficiently advanced life forms before Cavill put inhibitors on them; those were removed, and it was a complex and sentient metal race that took the final base star on a stellar exploration. The presence of technology's signals enabled the Cylons to find New Caprica, so the decision to send technology into the sun to better hide on a rich and lush planet wasn't so ridiculous either. The twist at the end, linking Hera to "Midochondrial Eve" and the genetic research of the last decade, was wonderfully inspired.

So again, I'll say well done to Eich, Moore and everyone else who earned my adoration with BSG.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
This show is making me crazy, 26 January 2014
10/10

I'm streaming this series on Netflix, and I'm having some huge problems with it.

I've had some fun reading the many other reviews of this all-too-brief series posted here on IMDb. What a variety of opinions. The show is awesome, the show sucks, it's the pinnacle of excellence, it's the low point of bad acting, yada yada yada. All I know is that watching the show gives me a problem that I do not experience with any other television series.

I only started watching the show last month, after finding it in the Netflix streaming options. I was instantly pleased to note that it was full of people I've seen and enjoyed in many other movies and series, at an early point in their careers. I enjoyed the first few episodes but thought to myself, 'hey the show was canceled part way through the first season, it must have jumped the track at some point, every show I have binged on here has had a point where it shifts focus and never gets back to its initial excellence.' So early on, I'd start each episode after reading the Netflix description, by guessing how this would be a predictable rehash of a dozen other shows and thus, finally, jump the rails and deserve its cancellation. EACH SHOW FAILED TO DO THIS. Each show would use the teaser to remind me of some real aspect of my high school years that I had long forgotten, and then the remaining show would brilliantly live the rhythm of the lives of its characters instead of having them jump through hoops of hack writing and sitcom crap. This show, in its short life, dared me to not feel it and love it.

As I move now from Episode 11, to 12, to 13, I am in the shadow of its unavoidable ending at Episode 18. And I am in the grip of admiring it, desiring it, and mourning its eventual fate; much as a person would mourn early for that friend or relative facing certain death, yet be drawn by their great love to be at their side for each moment that they could have together before the end.

I've watched the total run of a number of shows over the course of my life, and the luxury of being able to do this on Netflix gives one the ability to understand what makes a show great, and where it develops its underlying problems. And every show has problems, no matter how great its beginning. Bones, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Quantum Leap, X Files, name the show and you can graph the repetitive elements and chart where in its total run that it went onto autopilot and let the formula drive itself for a time. Once you're binging and see your series-of-choice take this downturn, you pray for that PERFECT show, the show that breaks convention, the show that looks to the depth of its characterizations for new direction and material, the show that fights to do ANYTHING except what one could predict. It's the show that would tantalize, that would stimulate great anticipation in the viewer week after week, and deliver new ways to tell stories, new destinations that would surprise and delight the audience in ways they didn't even know they COULD be surprised.

I see, in viewing this show at the rate of a couple of episodes a day, that THIS SHOW (thus far to episode 13) has DONE IT. I can't predict a single moment of where this show will go, and when it goes where it will, I can't wait to have it take me to the next place.

I am at Episode 13. That means six more episodes of a show that is unique in television history, in the way that it has exceeded the sum of its parts. Only six more episodes until the end of this fictional school year. Not only does this collection of stories and plot lines evoke the angst and joys of my own high school experience, it will in retrospect also evoke the same bittersweet remembrance of how all-too-brief and ephemeral my actual high school experience was as well.

Once I have reached the end of the passage of this show, I will emerge back into the world as a person with a mission to find more material and work from the producers, writers and actors who delivered this show to us.

If you're one of the persons who hated the show and took time to post that opinion here at IMDb, I have no words by which I can explain myself to you. I also have no way to understand your viewpoint, beyond that perhaps you simply don't demand enough of the TV shows that you DO love, and missed the whole point of this one, single, 18-episode show that got it right more than all of the rest of them ever did.

If you've never seen the show but are thinking of taking the plunge, I would encourage you to do this. Just be ready for what effect it might have. Or you might hate it. Try it and see.


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