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The Last Legion (2007)
The boy was good
lm giving the last legion a five because though it was poorly done, it was in a funny way and thus sort of entertaining. It is essentially an endless parade of clichés, Rai is not credible as a fierce warrior and there are many laughable minor performances. On the other hand, the boy who played Uther pendragon was very believable and ben kingsley also elevated the film a bit.
Sangster would make a good Robim if christopher nolan ever chose to reintroduce that character into the Batman films.
Onto the director, who appears to have no imagination or personal style, every shot is stock and he does nothing to encourage the actors to rise above the stock characters.
Young kids however, under 14, may enjoy the film and id recommend it for them, perhaps they will develop an interest in ancient epics and when they're older, read the great books, like Morte D'arthur, Homer's Iliad and odyssey, Beowulf, and the Aeneid. This is a possible positive effect of the film.
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
No character (no spoilers)
One of the things that made the original Die Hard so great was, in addition to exceptionally intense action scenes, the character arc, John Mcclane was (as opposed to the typical action hero) a man with low self-regard, he feels emasculated by his wife's career, his kids now live three thousand miles away.He finds himself trapped in a situation way beyond what he feels he can handle alone, but in being forced to deal with it he redeems himself in his own eyes and matures to the point where he no longer feels threatened by his wife's independence. This character arc is part of what makes Die hard a successful story.
Live free or die hard has none of this, there are a few throwaway lines that pass for an attempt at character, but mostly all you get is action ( granted some of the action scenes are very visceral as in the first film, others are generic and have been seen in many other films) without a human story.
So why go to all the trouble of making another entry into the series after twelve years without telling a story about people? The answer is i don't know. If you're looking for a worthy sequel to Die Hard, the third entry was far stronger.
Miami Vice: Death and the Lady (1987)
My favorite episode
This is i think, an excellent example of what made the show unique. A character-driven story about exploitation and violence in media, nothing to do with the drug trade as many early vice eps did, and taking place in the middle of a much-maligned( i think unfairly) season four.
We learn a lot about the character of Sonny Crockett in this perfectly structured ep. Sonny is unconvinced at first that a murder scene in a pornographic film is in fact a real homicide as alleged by a two-bit porn actor. Slowly, scene-by-scene we see the idea of a genuine murder on film seeping into Sonny's awareness. This is nicely performed by Don Johnson, whose subtle, nuanced emotions are portrayed in many close-ups throughout the ep ( the director does a flawless job telling the story visually) and we the audience see that sonny is in fact, underneath the cynical world-weary exterior, a moralist. He is disgusted by the exploitation of women and the crass attitude of a filmmaker towards something sonny feels is sacred: life. this last thing is an attitude common to many protagonists in Michael Mann's films. The producer/directors TV forays deserve just as much respect.
The show is generally considered past its storytelling prime(seasons 1 & 2 are more highly praised) at this point but the mere presence of this ep is evidence that the show was telling stories of rare complexity well into its run. we are still learning about the characters and their world. Season four is hit or miss admittedly but one has to admire the experimental attitude of the show in a medium where every producer wants things done cheaply and quickly. Miami Vice is a show that reinvented itself every season, visually and thematically, not an easy thing to do from a creative or financial perspective.
Children of Men (2006)
powerful and suspenseful
One of the most moving films I've seen but not easy to watch, the plentiful violence is realistically done, mostly in one long shot, so the ugliness of it really hits you. There are many layers of allegory and many current issues are touched on. The thing I remember most is the cruelty of man against man. It really makes you wonder why someone would want to kill another person.
The photography and editing is documentary-style during the violent scenes but sometimes indulges in fairly close-up shots in quiet scenes. My only complaint is that the reason for the infertility isn't speculated on more. I would really like to hear at least a possible explanation..Overpopulation?.. A virus?...There are many ways this idea could play out.
I couldn't wait to see what would happen next...
in the bottom 10 horror films I've ever seen
excluding independent bad stuff like Manos the Hand of Fate, this is one of the worst films I've ever seen. the acting is flat and lacks conviction, the supernatural premise itself is impossible to summarize since the rules the filmmakers set for the supernatural phenomena seem to change from one minute to the next. The plot is completely incomprehensible since no explanation is given for any action undertaken by the characters. The only other studio film of a similar genre i can think of that was this incoherent was Underworld evolution. Again there are many films on mst3k that are awful but most of those were made outside the Hollywood system, this film had every chance to be original and the director failed spectacularly under the circumstances. One can only imagine why someone with no ideas or desire to tell an original story ends up being a director.
Crime Story (1986)
in one word: Epic
Crime story is often considered a predecessor to more well-known but lower quality shows like the Sopranos which is essentially a soap opera with a minstrel show with Italian- Americans caricatures. Crime Story is a top 5 candidate for best crime drama of in TV history. It is the story of two men, one a smart, ambitious hoodlum determined to rise from small- time thievery to international kingpin, even if he has to kill his own mother to get there. The other is an old-fashioned, volatile policeman whose sole mission in life is to destroy the organized crime syndicate. There are both men on a quest that feels destined from day one to collide with the others quest. It is always clear to the audience that the reason for torellos hatred of luca and other criminals is his fundamental respect for human life and his adversary's lack of it. Mike Torello is the kind of cop who believes people are responsible for there actions and should be held accountable. This is the reason the show was set in the early 60s to begin with and the reason why torello is rapidly becoming a dinosaur. The Vietnam war begins late in the second season and you can feel torellos obsolesence coming on. Soon Americans will enter an era where public opinion leans toward blaming society for the criminals crimes and not the criminal. I Feel that if the series had gone on for 5-7 years instead of 2, we would have seen the locales and general feel of the show vary from season to season, with much character development. In the end assuming the shows final season was set around 1970 i think torello would have been considered a raving fascist lunatic in an asylum somewhere and ray luca would be running for office. I think crime story was as much about an important decade in American history as it was about these two men.
OK but not like the series
I'm a huge fan of the original Wiseguy, one of the best examples of superb TV writing, acting and character development. I like shows that break the lowest common denominator rule of TV and Wiseguy certainly did. So in late 95, i was excited to read about this telefim being written by Joel surnow (lately of 24) and it first premiered i think in march of '96. That said i was a little let down when I saw it, they took a good shot at creating a memorable antagonist and developing Vinnies character further but it fell a bit short. i felt It was OK but I think they should have written a follow up mafia arc instead, now that Vinnies older id like to see him as the Don of his own mafia family. They were basically 2 mob story arcs in Wiseguy, one in season 1 and one in season 3, i would like to see a continuation of those.
This film is the definition of exploitation, that is to say, it depicts torture and sadism simply for its own sake with no underlying comment or meaning or as people like to say no redeeming social value. This is the complete opposite of say American psycho which depicts these things yet at the same time is clearly a satire of our culture and lecture condemning violence. It is astonishing how many unique, intelligent scripts cant even get a greenlight yet someone actually handed this director several million dollars to make this fetish film. See it if you like movies with nothing to say to you except perhaps to reiterate your assertion that quentin Tarantino is as vapid a producer as he is a director.
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
Incredibly adrenal film, i felt like i was on a sugar rush, taking a wild ride with the characters through the materialistic 80's. Also, The characters are complex, well-developed and behave very realistically, they have all the same frailties as the rest of us.
In addition the soundtrack and cinematography serve the main theme of the film--How everything in 80's LA is made to be spent and is here only temporarily, whether it is cash or human beings--very well.
Friedkin was in his prime and Petersen and Pankow give great performances. I would argue that we now live in a time where expend-ability is an even more relevant theme and I would love to see a modern remake with the right director.