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24 reviews in total 
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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Descent Into Poor Cinema, 2 October 2008

What can I tell you? This is not a scary film. It is not an intelligent film. This is a poorly-shot, MTV-style wanna-be starring a would-be G.I. Jane and her lamebrain pals, Trauma Jane, Dr. Jane, Frenchy Jane and Unnecessary Jane. Did I leave out any janes? I wish they had. Seriously, these characters were too dumb even for this shlockfest. They didn't NEED any monsters to chase them, they endangered themselves unaided. Still, monsters we have, and as usual, no one can go underground without meeting some "like a bat, but not a bat" creatures. ho-hum. I've seen and enjoyed bad movies, but this is beyond the pall. Not specific enough? OK--This is the new Red Zone Cuba. We clear now?

Slipstream (2007)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Road To Nowhere, 2 October 2008

Look, I'm sorry if half the world takes offense at this, but life is confusing enough. I don't need to watch it that way. I dig Anthony Hopkins, big time. I even watched Fracture, and I knew that would be a steaming pile of Quentin. But this thing is not well shot, and it's not daring--even if it is artsy. Well-produced films have reasons for cuts and fast edits, not this "oh, but it's a realistic interpretation" excuse. This thing'll make your head hurt. It's the fastest moving picture ever to take you nowhere at all. I still love AH, and I'll always give him another chance, but if you aren't made of time to watch bad ideas on screen, skip this.

Persepolis (2007)
3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Style Without Substance., 2 October 2008

Well, here it is: as a cartoonist myself, I was interested chiefly because of style, and Persepolis has tons of style. Unfortunately, it does not have tons of content. In preparation for the film, which shot in and out of theaters too fast for me to catch it, I read the 2-volume graphic novel on which the film is based. What basically happened was, all the great, enthralling, life-altering stuff that happens in volume one fails to make the character grow at all in volume two, when she's "coming of age" (I really hate that phrase). She lives through war and poverty and revolutions gone wrong, and all she learns how to do is date silly men, act inconsistently toward friends, and throw secret parties to thwart the Iranian government. So it's sort of a let-down. Mind you, the film and the book are subtly different, but the book is the better, more complete story, so I refer to it primarily, to give the best face to the story as a whole. The film, however, ends with a bizarre choice of reference to an earlier conversation which has no business being the last lines of the film, and seems to have been tacked on just to place a chord at the end of a song with no ending. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the film seems to quit on itself. The author quits on God, country, and nearly everyone else during her life, so I guess quitting is the theme.

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Worthwhile Batflick, At Last!, 30 July 2008

This film is an unaccounted miracle of the 21st century; namely, it's a franchise film that doesn't want to be a franchise film. Sounds impossible? You bet it does. I would not have believed it had I not seen it myself. The late H. Ledger as Joker: faultless. This is, admittedly, the Frank Miller batman, and so it will not appeal to a certain number of people who desire bubblegum batman, and I admit that my personal favorite Joker is still Mark Hamill's from the animated series. This one's a little gritty for my taste. But that's the idea, and it's achieved brilliantly. Any die-hard Nicholson fans who are crying foul simply because Jack played it 18 years ago are just being foolish. Harvey Dent is equally wonderful and Eckhart is every bit as big as the task. Oldman is masterful, as always, making cinematic mountains out of his molehill role. I will say one thing: though Bale's performance is otherwise fine and dandy, we need to talk him out of this "batman voice" of his. It's just silly, and it took me out of the film more than once. Also, there are scenes in this film which seem a trifle too busy, and it's easy to get lost if you're over 20, and use a slower attention span than a hummingbird has got. But this film deserves praise if only for the fact that it's not just a batman movie, in the same way some batman comics (ex. The Killing Joke) are not just comic book fodder. This is a great, popcorn-munching good time, but it's more than that. It's psychological, its got levels, and it wants to be one great action movie, whether you like batman or not. And it does exactly what it intends. Marvel, look out-- a few more like this and DC will be ruling the theaters soon enough.

25 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
Simpering Todd, the Limp-Wristed Pansy of Fleet Street, 30 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The biggest error, other than horrible casting, is that no one appears to have directed this mess. It's just talking heads for scenes and scenes, and all the songs are either gone or underplayed to the point of boredom--it's like Tim Burton is a pouting child who's sitting in a corner saying, "fine, I'll give you songs for your musical, but I don't have to like it--there, there's your song--you happy now?" He clearly isn't interested in making a musical, and that's part of the problem. I think like most of the stuff he remakes, he just ran into this show, and knew one thing: the sellout goth kids would go see it, making tons of dough for him and his fake-out, "look-at-me, I'm-so-artistically-weird," ilk. I mean, I love Sweeney Todd (the musical), and I was bored in this movie. That really shouldn't happen when people are being slaughtered by a barber. That should be holding your interest if it's done right.

Let's just accept the fact that Burton is going to massacre Alice In Wonderland when he gets his hands on it next year. He needs to give up remakes and adaptations altogether, because his track record with them since 1999 is one good (sleepy hollow) to three bad, and this one is even worse than his abysmal Planet of the Apes. Depp is a good actor, and all due respect to the man who played in Gilbert Grape and other fine roles. But this is completely beyond him. He's about as scary as a paper clip. I wouldn't trust him to have the dexterity to manslaughter a munchkin that needed hip replacement. He's that ineffectual. But the real Turkey Award goes to Helena Bonham Carter, whose Mrs. Lovett is so lifeless, it almost makes you unaware of the other howling error in casting her: she can't sing worth a bird's hat. She's really awful, seriously.


I'm sorry, but this must be said, and I don't want to spoil the story (although clearly that wasn't a prerogative of Burton's) for anyone, so only read this part if you're familiar with the whole story already.

The reason this got 1.5 stars (rather than .5 stars) is because of one thing: it's really gratifying to see Helena Bonham Carter burning. Really, really gratifying. She should be burned alive in everything she's in from now on.

6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
This Summer, the True Battle Lies Within...Hollywood., 4 May 2007

I don't want to get into how the ending scenes left me hollow, or how the telegraphing lines foreshadowed way too heavily.

I just want to say, too much, too soon. Spider-Man 3 wants to tie up all the loose ends by the closing credits.

And so it might have done, if it hadn't opened two or three additional cans of worms as well, before stuffing them unceremoniously back in.

I love Raimi's films, and I enjoyed this one. But 2 was so much better than I ever thought a comic book movie could be. This one...well, it's just another comic book movie. And the reason is, it violates too many rules form the school of it's subject. Comics never just end, and tie everything up. There's always a sinister shadow on the wall, ready for next time. This film spends so much time trying to get everything up together that it leaves holes in the quilt.

If I were any more specific, I might give something away, but suffice it to say, 3 was fair, and still better than 1, but I suspect this one was killed by movie execs who said "we gotta have 3 villains in this one!"

Nothing kills good storytelling like money-driven ambition.

Suspiria (1977)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The Art of Carnage, 20 November 2005

Hitchcockian suspense, brilliant colors, and a killer ending. This one's got it all, folks.

This is a truly great film. I understand some blockhead is remaking it, which is about as foolish as the chowerhead who re-filmed Psycho block for block and added an...unfortunate scene.

There will never be another Suspiria. Never. The colors, texture and nuances are artistic.

Artistic. Does anyone see what an achievement this is? It's a slasher film, and it's actually beautiful. I mean, it is gorgeous. Terrifying and breathtaking at the same time. A utter orgasm of movie magic from an era when artistic vision outweighed the dollar.

This remake, whatever its aim, will flounder and die. Suspiria, the ONLY legitimate Suspiria, will never be forgotten. Directors have no common sense these days, and have no hope of making a film with the depth and precision of Suspiria.

What else shall I say? Shall I describe for you any of the suspenseful unfolding? No, only a monster would deprive an audience of these choice morsels. Should I warn the uninspired among you to avoid this film, since you appreciate nothing unless buildings explode and bimbos in leather shoot automatic rifles? Well, I just did.

This film is grotesquely perfect.

Saw II (2005)
7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Where Gore Meets Bore, 20 November 2005

Where does bore meet gore? Well, yes--in the 2000 election, sure. But also in SAW 2, arguably the worst horror movie of all time. Taking a stride from its predecessor, SAW 2 contains similarly enormous plot holes and an uninteresting group of foolish characters whom we care little or nothing about.

But the worst part of both saw 1 and 2 is Jigsaw.

Jigsaw, as a character, is the most self-indulgent movie device since the Cube in "Cube," and not half as clever. He's self-righteous, childish and shallow. It's like being kidnapped by a seven-year-old who's crying because she didn't get a candy bar from you at the cash register.

In short, this film is designed for persons as self-serving and dull as Jigsaw himself.

This might seem a minor point, but it must be remembered that everything that gets put on screen gets glorified in the process. Case study for this is Beavis and Butt-Head, a show making fun of stupid teens that became vastly popular with.....yup, stupid teens. Consider, then, what SAW and SAW 2 glorify: sadism, selfishness and Pharisaic homicide.

'Nuff said, I hope.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Good for Fans Only...and Not Much For Them, 18 November 2005

This is the film I was worried that "The Two Towers" was going to be. Amazingly long, overdrawn at the drama bank and without a parcel of sense in the pacing department, this film hobbles along on the crutch of great visual effects, and its name brand.

Once again, great actors and actresses trot out to play hackneyed scripting of dull characters. Once again all characters threatening to be worthwhile are completely ignored.

And once again, Harry is dull as a brick.

...A very worn brick shaped like a cricket ball.

...Which has been named Professor of Dullness at Oxford University.

The lack of personal spirit placed into this project by the creators is completely evident. It is a sorry follow up to the promising third installment, and a cheap substitute for lovers of the book.

Harry Potter is, after all, a character who needs much help being interesting on-screen. In the books, we put up with him because his plot-contrived existence does not smart so much. But up on screen, his striving for mediocrity is hard to ignore. My wife put it best when she said that Potter is not a heroic figure, making the best of his opportunities, but a rather motley, self-indulgent bore, whose response to most situations is "oh, crap--I've spilled power all over myself; what should I do with it?" Avoid this film if the nerds in your life will let you.

Backwash from Burton, 8 November 2005

If Tim Burton so wanted to play Willy Wonka, he shouldn't have bothered to trot out tired, over-hamming Johnny Depp at all. He might just as well have played the candy mogul of Roald Dahl's classic books himself, if all he expected of Willy Wonka was a self-indulgent man-child with no joy or maturity of heart and soul.

This film does not contain, save in name alone, any semblance of the character Willy Wonka.

Again, Burton takes a brilliant cast, a great story, and amazing characters, and wallows in self-interest. Again we need the flashbacks? Again with a nasty, controlling dad in flashback?? AGAIN with the anti-family, spoiled-bratty attitude towards loved ones and community??? Now I think I've hit on why Tim didn't play Willy. No one could have told him apart from Veruca.

Otherwise, the film is a smash, with a Charlie Bucket to end all Charlie Buckets, Oompa Loompas whose songs are by far the sweetest morsels in this box of goodies. The splashy-number routine does, however, make the words hard to hear. Visually, the film is also well-designed, but sometimes poorly used. The backgrounds and scenery are so delightful, the costumes and lighting so appropriate, that it is surprising when some major-event scenes suffer from a lack of punch.

Here for apparently no reason is Helena Bonham Carter, who does nothing at all interesting as Charlie's mother. Charlie's father is played to better effect by Noah Tyler, a master of brief scenes whose quirky talents shall be vindicated by time.

A very sincere thanks to Deep Roy, who is a man of extreme talents.

A very sincere pooh-pooh to Tim Burton, for showing how stagnant the waters of his well have become.

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