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An improvement over last season's abysmal finale, but not up to snuff
I guess I just expected more. "Castle" has been so good for so many seasons that I have come to hold it to a higher standard. At least the writers broke away from the cliché-bound tripe that ended last season. I was hoping that they would finish up this plot line, so that we could get back to the fun stuff that has made "Castle" such an epic show. In my opinion, that did not happen. What the writers did demonstrate was just how flat this show can be when Nathan Fillion is not driving it. Don't get me wrong. I think Stana Katic did an admirable job trying to carry this episode. "Castle" needs them both, full time, to be the great show it has consistently been in the past.
Castle: For Better or Worse (2014)
Just about the worst Castle episode yet
I marked this review as containing spoilers, but it is hard to believe that anything could spoil something this rotten to begin with. First they steal a central plot element almost word for word from an old Bones episode. (Jake Hodgins's and Angela Montenegro's first wedding was called off in exactly the same way. "Stargazer in a Puddle" May 2007) Then they end it with a totally hackneyed cliffhanger. The meat in the middle of this trope sandwich was nearly as bad even with the talented Eddie McClintock and Scottie Thompson as guest stars. The plodding plot limps from one contrived wedding mishap to another, as Castle and Beckett pursue her soon-to-be ex. There is a complete absence of the intelligence and aplomb we have come to expect from their characters. Even their banter comes across as stale and forced. We can only hope that the real writers of Castle were on vacation, and a couple of fifth graders from a remedial English class actually wrote this travesty.
CSI: Miami: Last Straw (2012)
Simply the worst
The writing for CSI/Miami has never been particularly good. The show has always leaned heavily on Miami's beautiful scenery (of various sorts) to sustain its appeal. That said, many episodes have had adequate writing. This is not one of them. Scripts for this show are often manipulated to cast Horatio Caine in an exaggerated hero's light, but seldom has this been attempted in such an obvious, mechanical, and sterile manner. The plotting of the story line is considerably more hackneyed than normal. The characters are equally wooden and lifeless regardless of whether or not they are slated for autopsy. The acting efforts of both Jill Flint and Bo Derek are completely wasted, since they have been saddled with dialog and direction that must have required ipecac to regurgitate.
Being Human (2011)
Better than the BBC series
After watching a few episodes of the BBC series, I found its development unbearably slow, and its scripting and acting equally unappealing. It was in a word, boring. However, I did like the basic concept. When ScyFy decided to present a North American version, I was willing to give it a try. The acting and writing are night-and-day better than the BBC production. The stories move along at a decent pace developing the characters in a way that the BBC series never did for me. I actually feel something for their plight, where I felt no connection at all with the British characters.
I have read a lot of what I consider misleading reviews from Anglophiles denigrating the North American series and applauding the British version. This is why I felt obliged to write this review presenting an opposing opinion.
Green Zone (2010)
Better than the Hurt Locker
In most respects, Green Zone is a better movie than the Hurt Locker. As entertainment, Green Zone is fast moving and seat-riveting. The dialog and story line are believable and comprehensible. Green Zone's filming, direction, and editing all easily support the story line without unnecessary or meaningless digressions. The acting is good and the characterizations compelling. I found it difficult to sympathize with most of the characters in the Hurt Locker. In Green Zone, there are individuals on both sides with whom the viewer can empathize. Green Zone's conclusion is logical and achieves closure for its characters and theme, while the Hurt Locker just seemed to have ended, when its camera crew ran out of film.
Truly a wonderful picture
I saw Avatar today. It was as much a breakthrough in filming technique as Star Wars was in its day. Considering the level of CGI technology demonstrated in recent movies, this represents a considerable achievement. The conception, color, rendering, and form of the plants, animals, and landscapes are consistently breathtaking. Seeing it in a movie theater is like falling into a wonderland. That alone would have made Avatar a movie well worth watching. In addition, the plot is well thought out, tightly written, well acted, and compelling. Sigourney Weaver brings an understated passion to her roll. The two central characters are engaging and believable. Only the primary villain is somewhat two-dimensional. Every other major part showed depth and compassion that made this more than just a science fiction film with beautiful special effects. Another reviewer mentioned that it brought tears to his eyes. It had the same effect on me. The violence and language make this movie unsuitable for young children, but I highly recommend it for any adult capable of suspension of disbelief long enough to be enthralled.
This is one of the worst, most depressing movies I have ever seen. It probably holds the Guinness record for inspiring more suicides than any other film ever made. The plot is unrelentingly abusive and painful to watch. The heroine is so self-loathing that she misconstrues perpetual verbal abuse and violent rape as romantic courtship. Her assailant is one of the most loathsome, totally unredeemable characters ever to despoil celluloid. (The coining of the term Schadenfreude easily could have been based on his foul, repellent persona.) I appreciate understated, nuanced performances, but the portrayals in this film never rose above the level of Stephen Hawking reciting the multiplications table. The cinematography is shakier than an 8mm home movie shot by Joe Cocker. The camera jerks from one target to another like the nervous tic of a schizophrenic. If you could give this movie credit for anything, it would be for consistency. It is awful from the first scene, through its entire exposition, and down to its unsatisfying denouement.