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365 reviews in total 
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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
This kind of movie making will make us all Trekkies, 24 July 2016

Sometimes a reboot (JJ Abram's 2009 Star Trek) can save an aging movie franchise. Fresh vibrant actors, fast-paced story-telling and a wealth of "old- school" mannerisms and one-liners seem to be a winning combo. Well, that and big budgets of course.

This is a fun movie. It's starts a little slow ... but then kicks into high gear and stays in "action-adventure" mode till the end.

This is also a very visual movie (3D IMAX is a great way to see). We see creative uses of holograph technology in several scenes -- and we get to see beautiful visuals of a massive space station / planet ... kind of like the opposite of Star Wars' Death Star ... and it is a fun sight.

Who wouldn't want to go there? Who wouldn't want part of their peace, harmony and explore-the-universe ideal?

Well - if you're guessing the bad guys ... yup. They don't want that kind of thing and they seem potent. There are some questionable battle solutions that seem more like wizardry than solving a puzzle (typical of the TV series) ... but because the rest of the movie is a fun ride, I'll let it slide.

If the producers keep making movies like this... they'll eventually make us all trekkies!

8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Great Season 1, Lackluster Season 2, 4 July 2016

Season 1 had some mystery and a big surprise / twist ... this made an otherwise average show a pretty interesting one. There was a mad scientist, decent acting, oppression, bizarre societal secrets, rebellion ... interesting stuff.

However, Season 2 is kind of an insult. First, kids take over and are in charge -- both running the government and police. Really? We're supposed to buy into this? Maybe if the audience was 12 it might be OK ... I guess they could sing their favorite Frozen songs when it gets boring.

Another problem is that key characters from the first season are gone or backgrounded. Furthermore, no big mysteries or compelling dilemmas are introduced early on. The first three episodes of Season 2 witnessed a 40% drop in viewership ... for these or whatever other reasons.

The original Wayward Pines book trilogy took us through Season 1; Kudos to author Blake Crouch. After that, the show's producers took us in this inept new direction. Watch season 1; if you skip Season 2 you're not missing much -- and given the ratings, it's questionable if there will be a Season 3.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
It's like watching dumb characters from a teen horror flick ..., 21 April 2016

The tone is serious, the world is from the (now) legendary "The Walking Dead", the production values are good and the actors are pretty darn good as well.

But ...

The writing is laughable - it's almost comically bad. It's like watching teenage characters from a low-grade horror flick make typically ridiculous decisions. It's either that or they think in ways that no reasonable person would given the circumstances.

This is unfortunate given the opportunity AMC has with this show. I thought they would fix it after the first season, but they didn't.

Guess they're not good at fixing things -- only green-lighting or killing a series.

That said -- it's not high on my list of favorites, but I'll continue to watch until I reach my limit of storyline stupidity.

Zootopia (2016)
6 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Cool new world, interesting story ... good for kids and maybe adults too, 14 March 2016

Full disclosure: I'm an adult who generally likes action and sci-fi movies. I'll go for an animated movie if I it has great reviews and people say it's enjoyable for "all ages". That was the case here and - yes, I found it entertaining.

It's basically a story about evolved animals that live in a harmonious, modern-age city called "Zootopia". It's "harmonious" because predators and prey live and work together without stereotypes and labels.

Well -- that's what everyone wants to believe, but reality is a bit more messy. This is what a young female bunny named Judy learns when she pursues her dream to become a police officer. She also stumbles onto a mysterious case ... and things get interesting.

It may sound a bit corny and adolescent, but the story and themes aren't. It's well-written with clever dialog, an engaging plot mystery and likable characters.

Plus, "Zootopia" is like this big world with different zones or habitats for different types of animal species. It's a pretty cool concept in itself.

The only thing I didn't like is that much of film's environments are too dark (visually) with gloomy skies and a general lack of vibrant colors. Better background color contrast would have been nice too. I'm going to guess this was a stylistic call to highlight something about the story -- but I don't think it was worth it.

Anyhow, that notwithstanding, I'd say this is a great movie for kids - lots of action, fun characters and nice variety of visual locations and props.

For the adults: if you enjoy movies like Shrek and the Lego Movie, you might enjoy this movie. It has less wit than those movies, but still has a lot of fun dialog and a good timely story.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Much better than expected, 11 March 2016

I had reservations about this film - esp. because it seemed like it was done on a lower budget than those big "hollywood" tent-pole movies I've become spoiled by.

I don't want to say too much about the plot because that's part of the intrigue of the movie ... what's really going on?

But THIS IS A GOOD MOVIE! It's wonderful to find a movie that builds tension, suspense, mystery and gets you to question your ideas about what's going on.

Plus, the acting is great - and this movie thrives on great performances by the key actors involved. I was always interested in learning what was going to happen next.

I'd rate it higher if it had a slightly more polished feel ... but as I said, I've been spoiled by big budget flicks, so don't let it distract you from what I'm saying.

If you're looking for a taut suspenseful mystery and are intrigued with the "J.J. Abrams" connection -- there's a good bet you'll enjoy this.

The Witch (2015)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
I kind of liked it -- but wouldn't recommend it for the average moviegoer, 21 February 2016

This is a well-done independent film ... but it's definitely not for everyone.

Think of it like a critically acclaimed, low-budget foreign-language drama or art film ... if you'd normally go see a movie like that, then I'd recommend seeing it. Otherwise, this might not be the right movie for you.

There were more than a few people who walked out on the movie in my showing - probably because they were expecting a more traditional "hollywood" style / mass-appeal movie, not Shakespearean-like dialog in a limited 17th century setting. I'd say that's 90% of the movie.

Outside of that -- I kind of liked it after I let go of my expectations. It's dark, well acted and, even if the dialog is nearly impossible to understand, quite atmospheric in terms of a period piece.

It's basically about a fundamentalist religious family that starts to experience misfortune when they separate from their settlement. Mentally, they can only understand the world in terms of being sinners and that fate is the will of God --- or is due to one of the kids becoming a "witch" by siding with Satan.

Yes - there is a supernatural element going on - but don't expect to see as much as it as you'd get in a traditional horror / scare movie.

Again - if good acting, atmosphere and foreign language or art-type films are something that would interest you -- then you have the right mindset and I'd say definitely it out. Everyone else -- I warned you.

8 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Fast-paced, colorful, great 3D effects ..., 29 January 2016

This fun movie starts at a brisk pace and continues till the end ... kind of like it's catering to an ADHD crowd. There's a constant flow rolling, tumbling, flying, running and crashing. And if that's not enough, at several points in the movie, the screen actually splits into 3 parts with things happening in each pane.

If you like 3D effects, it's worth the extra charge ... this movie makes great use of the technology. It's colorful and visually eye catching throughout.

Only thing that I would have liked is a bit more character development. Because of it, the evolution of Po (the panda / dragon warrior) is not as powerful and moving as it was in the previous two movies.

Well, I guess you can't have everything -- but I'm fine with it. We get another great adventure in the "Kung Fu Panda" world for a 3rd time -- and that's quite sufficient for me.

4 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Great production values ... but drags in places, 8 January 2016

I hear the books are great, but the show has some challenges. As a scifi fan, I was willing to sit through 4 episodes while the story lines developed, but it would be hard to recommend it to my non-scifi friends - it's too slow for non-genre viewers. They won't be won over by the incredible cinematography or big story themes.

I think part of the problem is the amount of time spent with Thomas Jane's (the detective) storyline - it's just too drawn out. Maybe it flows better in written / book form, but here just drags on and on. Jane is a good actor, but his low-key style does better when playing against high-energy actors.

On the other hand, the developments of the space crew are tense, well-paced and immersive --- this is the strength of the show. Wish this got more screen time.

I do hope things pick up -- these episodes are probably very expensive and the series will need to expand its viewership if it is to thrive.

45 out of 89 people found the following review useful:
A dark, B-movie for kids ..., 25 November 2015

If you watched the trailer and wondered if there's any strong plot going on -- you'll be disappointed ... unless you're a kid. But even if you're a kid, this is no "Frozen".

Most of the audience in my viewing were kids. It mostly held their attention but there was minimal responsiveness ... it's not humorous, high-action, fast-paced or sprinkled with lots of color; It's kind of a somber-toned, B-movie.

It basically follows two child characters trying to get home in a wilderness -- and that about sums it up. One doesn't speak and the main one is kind of dull.

Compare it to strong movies like "Finding Nemo", "Toy Story", "Cars", "Ratatouille" - heck, even "Little Mermaid" and "Alladin" and you'll immediately realize that this is seriously lackluster and mediocre by comparison.

And the 3D visuals? Good - not great. I'll bet if it were on TV, you'd channel flip after watching a few minutes ... no such luxury in the theater.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Simply a fun movie to watch, 5 August 2014

Different people will probably come away with different reasons about why this film is enjoyable: lots of aliens / monsters / spaceships, outcasts bonding together, tons of action and explosions, fast moving story, likable comedic characters, cool 70s pop/rock music, etc.

For me, it was the spectacular scenery - wow ... some of it was just breathtaking to watch. The planetary landscapes and outer space visuals were especially rich and attractive. Even the animation was amazing.

Rocket (racoon-like creature) is tough work for any team of animators - but he just looked 'alive' and real like all the other characters. Plus, many of the scenes featured numerous complex ships, creatures and environments with enough detail and independent movement that the universe felt believably teeming with life.

Though it might have minor weaknesses here and there - it'd be misleading to dwell on any of them and not give a fellow moviegoer the highest recommendation for good summertime scifi fun.

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