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The Hills (2006)
It's great....and by that I mean it's terrible...
There's not much to expect out of a MTV show, especially when most of their programs targets tween to early 20's audiences.
Of course, for its purely entertainment value, you SHOULDN'T have to think too much of the program - just sit back and relax...right? But "The Hills" is unbearable. Period.
I decided to give it a try and watch one episode since my girlfriend has been begging me to watch it. At first, you kind of admire Lauren's maturity of wanting to go to school and create a future for herself. Then you realize that of course she would get ushered into a reputable school, get hired for a job that most girls dream and die for. It's a goddamn TV show that sets up everything to make life seem easy! And why wouldn't it? The main characters are inherently wealthy, good-looking fashionable girls with material goods 3/4's of Americans can't afford.
There's no way in hell that Heidi could've gotten hired for that job that she had - (something about being a professional events organizer?!?) without any references, or even a flippn' resume. She basically said in the interview that she has drive, is motivated to work?! What's sad is that this creates an unrealistic dream for teens.
I think I watched about 15 minutes of it, and turned it off.
I'll say this though, MTV can really market their products, and they are definitely experts at making crap look like it's worth watching...even when it isn't.
The Spreading Ground (2000)
Great concept, but ultimately bad
Dennis Hopper is without a doubt one of the finest underrated American actors of our time, and it was interesting to see how he would play out his role as a cop on the case of a child serial killer. Most movies Hopper has always played to psychotic menace threatening to blow up stuff or go on a killing spree, but in this movie, Hopper tried his best to keep that intensity and emotion while carrying a shield. Once I got into the plot of the movie, I was hooked, but it's just the little things that ultimately murdered the film.
The concept of the film is great - not only are the cops on the move of catching the killer, but we get a chance to see how the gangsters operate in catching the killer. The subplot of the football stadium is kinda ridiculous, but necessary to involve the gangsters in the killer hunt.
That's about all that is good you can say about the film. Although Hopper did try to act like a tough, experienced street smart cop, I can't help but feel his acting was below par, and there wasn't enough conviction that he was truly attached to the case. The directing was also terrible - it didn't have the feel of a true film, but rather a TV-movie production. This is most evident when the gangsters meet for the first time to form an elite team to hunt the killer down. When the leading gangster shoots the other mouthy gangster in slow motion, the acting was weak, predictable and terribly unexciting. That's when I knew that 1st of all, the action is going to be atrocious.
The angling of the camera was amateurish, and the recalling scenes or haunting images of the killer's little sister had no true distinctive effect. If it was supposed to be scary, it wasn't. Everyone's acting was terrible, and even for Hopper, I didn't feel for his character, and I just didn't really care too much about his relationship with his daughter.
The final thing that bothered me the most is the swat team. Once I saw the swat team in action, I was thinking, finally, something good. But I was wrong. 1st of all, the entire swat team consisted of 4 guys. That is just impossible. 2nd of all, apparently the swat team has no training whatsoever because many times in the film they carry their HKA4 submachine guns with one hand. Had the killer been hiding near the staircase with a shotgun, these 4 idiots would've been blown to bits because they weren't even aiming at anything or paying close attention. They should have had both hands on the gun aiming forward, but it just looks like they're not taking the job seriously and are just flaunting around. 3rd, SWAT team members do not yell out commands such as "Keep your eyes open, watch out for yourselves, are we good to go...etc." In reality, they use hand signals or have radios. But they're literally yelling at each other - how are you supposed to catch the killer when he can hear you're coming??? And to top it all off, these guys have no plan - apparently they're just running up and down going on a wild turkey chase. Eventually they end up doing nothing. That was the last straw. I'm no expert on special forces, but basically what I've just outlined, is pretty common sense. When the audience knows the movie is terrible, the action pretty much becomes the life-saver of the movie - when you can't even make an effort to make the action great, the movie is lost.
I give 2 stars for the concept, but the rest cannot be credited. If you want to watch a crime thriller, don't bother with this one. There's plenty of crime in the movie - but it has the lack of thrill.
It's MTV...I can't say I'm surprised.
I watched this show because I've heard my friends rave about it. I thought it was just another show like the O.C. It turns out that it's worse. It's based on real people. And why's that worse? Because in real life they're much much more annoying, and bitchier. After 10 minutes, I couldn't continue watching. It was painful. I saw the episode where this guy drives this really nice old car and takes this girl on a date. They literally sit there at the table just staring at each other. Then they fast forward it to night. They still sit there. Not saying a single word. Then they leave and go to a jacuzzi and make out. WTF.
Before all you crazed Laguna fans start swearing at my review, I will certainly agree on one thing. MTV did a very good job. MTV did an amazing job convincing the world of misguided teens, that what the kids on the show have, is what everyone should want. The lifestyle, the stream of brand new luxury cars, black and white tie parties, designer clothing. They also did an amazing job setting up the camera work, buying the right songs to set up the "emotional atmosphere", so that the audience would feel some sort of compassion, envy or be emotionally touched.
In other words - MTV used these kids as marketing tools, and butchered the songs of artists by throwing them in while some random 2 kids start making out. They constantly whine about their lives and how much drama there is - WTF is their drama?! Because Kelly kissed Rachel's boyfriend during their cowboy themed party? It's funny how the show revolves around their lives, but their lives consist nothing more than nice clothes, surfing, partying, and getting more money from their parents to do all that.
In so many words - They're spoiled rich brats. Sure, many will argue, "You're just jealous, and want their life." Trust me - if being that rich meant you had to be an egotistical-self-centered brat, then no thank you. Just from reading up on people with that kind of profile, they are more psychologically messed up than you think. MTV cuts out all the crappy stuff you don't want to see - parental issues are especially common - you see them hand out car keys, but you never see them actually interact more than that. Everything's picture perfect - and I wouldn't't be surprised if MTV had a role in trying to set up certain situations to make sure it looks that way.
How about for a change, we see them make a difference in the community - see them actively help/volunteer for a foundation or a charity which involves actual work - and not just decorating rooms and handing out booze.
The fact that MTV made them stars, it adds more fuel to their burning fire of egoism, and I'd say within a couple of years, they will go down in flames - and tabloids will be there to pick it right up.
Bottom line is, if you want to get out of reality, and decide to escape to fantasy for awhile, don't watch Laguna beach to do so - you could read a Harry Potter book for f*ck's sake and get more out of that than to watch this show. Nothing but teenagers who constantly whine about how imperfect their lives are - how their friend betrayed them, and how life is unfair.
These kids need a serious wake up call - and so does the rest of the TV world. I don't know what's more pathetic - the kids on the show - or the kids who actually see these kids as role models/idols.
G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 (2005)
It's not good, but it ain't bad either
Anyone who has grown up in the 80's will know G.I. Joe is probably one of the best cartoons ever produced. It gradually disappeared and in the recent decade, it's reputation has been tested over and over with brand new ideas and shows - which have ended up in failure. Sigma 6? It ain't a failure, but it ain't a hit either.
Like most of us have noticed, there is a huge lack of the actual Joes themselves. It's like watching Transformers Beast Wars and wondering why the hell there's only 12 transformers in total fighting each other.
You could understand however - kids nowadays are looking for fast paced cartoons that require little thinking and analyzing - they just want things to be blown up or the bad guys get their ass kicked. Because there's such a huge market now for action cartoons, everyone has to do something to stand out - so the more action, less thinking, the better.
Anime. Sigh. America is infested now way Anime-crazed kids who only want to watch anime-style shows. SO it makes sense that investors would decide to produce G.I. Joe in Anime style format. But it's tiring and has been done. Anything you see in G.I. Joe Sig 6, has been done in hundreds of others.
The style however is sharp, intense, and has several computer graphic animations that is very pleasing to the eye. The fighting scenes are gripping and essentially is the only thing that saves the show.
In Sigma 6, Snake Eyes has been the main focus in almost all the episodes - which is a smart move because he has always been the favourite of all G.I. Joe fans. No one can turn down a hand to hand ninja combat with his vengeful brother, Storm Shadow. However, each fight ends up with Storm Shadow either giving in, giving up, helping or just losing the fight, saying "I will destroy you for betraying our clan....um...some other day...brother." WTF. Just have a fight to the death and get it over with. Don't get me wrong - the fight scenes are amazing - but to no result.
Although in some episodes, they reveal tiny bits of Snake's past with Storm, and at times it is interesting to learn, Snake Eyes can't carry the entire show.
Die hard fans are questioning the plot behind the show - because it seems like there isn't any. We're not even really sure what Cobra wants to do with a zillion robots and nuclear warheads - other than to carry them around in the park - only to be intercepted by the Joes before he can think of something to do with them.
Overall, if you're looking for a meaningful plot in this mess of a cartoon, don't bother. But if you're looking for pure action and awesome ninja fights, and still manage to choke down dry-humor and a stupid plot, stick around for the next episode.
Personally, I wish Sgt. Slaughter would come back and teach them all a lesson.
If you're gonna make a prequel, do it right
Tsui Hark should've stopped with the 2nd ABT. Even if he wanted to push the envelope on the series by making a prequel, he should've done a wayyyyy better job.
The storyline takes Mark back to Vietnam, where we learn his life as a younger, much less "gangly" individual. However, don't count out Mark when guns are ablazing wherever they may be. It also has a take on his romantic days with a mysterious mob boss' girlfriend, Anita Mui, and the love square they all shared with the Japanese boss and Tony Leung.
Let's talk what's important 1st in these movies. The action. Whatever you can expect in a late 80's, early 90's action Hong Kong film = it's all there. Tsui Hark definitely made it through with the gun fighting scenes. Yet - they weren't as stylish, and you could even say they can become boring once you recognize the similar scenes from other movies. Everyone's wielding an M16 or AK47 shooting the crap out of each other while Mark flies through the air with his signature double fisting handguns.
Where's the edge? Where's the coolness that Mark had from the 1st movie when he strolled through the restaurant nonchalantly dropping berettas everywhere, as he plans to slowly walk in to kill the boss while he's eating hotpot? Where's the climax that we felt in the 2nd movie where all three Ken, Lung and uncle Keen all dressed up and were ready to avenge Kit's death? Let's talk about the plot. Vietnam. WHAT?!? The 1st thing I thought of when I heard prequel was = How brother Lung and Mark started it all - from humble beginnings as street punks, to an established powerful gang where they both reign as kingpins. Or even how uncle Keen brought Mark and Lung into the gang, and how they became who they are today. However; what I found was a seemingly ridiculous plot where Mark is thousands of miles away fighting stupid wars that he got himself into. THEN he's somehow involved with Anita Mui. I'm sorry, but some scenes where Mark is caught up in love made me lose respect for the character of Mark that I know.
What makes these ABT films is through the theme of brotherhood - in this movie, there simply wasn't enough - or it just wasn't standing out. What your eyes see is romance romance romance. Not to say that a love story isn't nice once in awhile, but come on. As a prequel?! No - that just won't do.
If John Woo was involved in this movie, he definitely would've said - Ummm no - we're not going to shoot this movie because it's gonna be terrible. Looks like he dodged a bullet. (No pun intended) For an ABT fan, you might enjoy it because you get to learn more about Mark. But as a movie goer, avoid this one. It's a major disappointment and you'll be happy that you didn't waste 2 hours of your life.
What a terrible shame
To be honest, this show had incredible potential, but lacked a good time slot, which ultimately was not able to draw a strong and steady audience.
Each episode of the show was a different case involving a certain crime, and the final verdict must be decided among a jury. In the show, we see the actual delagation, negotiation process in the jury room. Ideas, opinions are stormed, formed and conflicts of interest and opinion in the jury room make the audience second guess their initial judgments. Every episode I watched had a steady plot, and rising nail-biting climax one would expect from a crime-court drama.
Side story lines of the main characters, their daily personal lives are often seen, so the audience will get to know them better, to appreciate their roles in the show.
Most of the ideas and concepts of the crimes are pretty standard - but what made the show interesting of course is to throw in an unexpected twist in the end. Most of the time, the show strategically plays clips of the crime scene with all the main players of the case involved, in different perspectives. That is, in the eyes of the victim, the eyes of a witness, and the eyes of the offender. This is done in such a way, that it would lead you to believe something - but in fact, you could never see the full picture. Obviously that should happen to keep the audience intrigued and second guessing, but in this show, you feel like you can't miss a second, or else you'd miss the entire case.
It's a true shame that this show aired during the summer where virtually no one really watches that much TV - especially when it's a new show. Had it been established earlier in the year during prime time TV, it would have definitely been a hit.
Saedeu mubi (2005)
Like the title of the movie says, it's gonna be a sad one.
Quite possibly one of the best dramas I've seen in general, this movie definitely manages to tug at all aspects of your emotions, that can bring you to tears in laughter and also in sadness.
What struck me most about the film is that the movie consisted of all the essential elements to make a great romantic comedy. The separate plot lines of several characters is strategically done to keep audiences from becoming bored, and the fact that all plot lines eventually converge or somehow is related to one another, makes the audience appreciate the characters even more - as they can watch them grow and develop.
Don't be fooled by the first 3/4 of the film tho - even though the comedy is light and fluffy, and when it seems all the characters seem to be overcoming their obstacles, the movie manages to rip your heart out with more difficult and unthinkable obstacles that makes you cry out in tears, "WHY?! Why did THAT have to happen?!" In fact, the sadness comes roaring at the end, full throttle - and it becomes pretty overbearing - you become so emotionally frustrated because it just doesn't seem fair to the characters you've come to know and grow with throughout the movie.
The star-studded cast however, has incredible chemistry with one another, as their emotions appear so genuine and real, that you can't help but feel the emotions they experience in their lives. You can feel the puppy love sensation of the girl who is too shy to express herself to the cute boy; you feel anguish and depression, but also hope for the boy who tries so hard to get his relationship back together with his ex-girlfriend, you feel the sense of guilt and worry for the girl whose boyfriend has a neck-risking job; and you feel the love between a child and his/her mother.
What manages to strike the audience at heart is the fact that the characters in the movie become so likable, that you can relate yourself to them if you've ever fallen in love, but can't find the words to say it; if you've ever been emotionally trapped in a self-made prison, and you can't find the strength to break free; and if you've been in a situation where you're at the brink of giving up, but you still gather up courage in the most unlikely of places.
Most importantly, this movie reminds us how precious time and life can be - and how jaded humans can become about their loved ones, and the fragility of life. It also reminds us that we're human - no one is ever perfect, and sometimes life itself isn't fair.
Definitely living up to its title, "Sad Movie" is a sad movie indeed. But that shouldn't stop you from appreciating this fine film. I just don't know if it's one of those movies that you can watch over and over again. Because each time you watch it, nothing better will happen :( Give it a shot though - you won't regret it.
Of course this movie will be compared to the huge mega hit "My Sassy Girl." Who wouldn't? Same actress, same director. Same plot? Perhaps. It's difficult to raise the bar when the bar is high enough, and simply put, Windstruck doesn't measure up, but you gotta admit, they tried pretty damn hard.
The story goes of Jeon Ji-hyun, a rough-em tough-em cop who bumps into the cute, friendly physics teacher, Cha Tae-hyeon. Needless to say they fall in love, not without crazy obstacles of course, that require investing craploads of time with each other in awkward situations. Soon enough they fall in love, only to realize it all has to end.
That's pretty much the story. Director Kwak Jae-yong tries hard in cranking up the emotional meter on this movie by making more touching scenes, that require Jeon Ji-hyun to stretch her acting chops and...well...cry A lot. At first it tugs on your heart strings, and at times, my eyes started to swell up. But she cries so damn much it almost becomes meaningless and makes you think, "Man, she's at it again?". Her obsession with losing her boyfriend almost becomes creepy, and you have to wonder if you really enjoy watching her freaking out every 5 minutes.
The problem with the movie is that it's TOO much like Sassy girl. Kwak Jae-yong's once used formula used in Sassy Girl has been done - and although it was a good formula, he should've read the label that says, "Use once only." The all too similar abuse the "cute guy" gets from the "sassy girl", was a bit too much, and the awkward situations Kwak Jae-yong put them together became too much of a cliché and becomes tiring real fast. But then again, it's difficult to find any 2 actors to find good solid chemistry - and in this case - these 2 fine actors just didn't have any. The emotional scenes became overbearing, and at times, you just wanted Jeon Ji-hyun to finally do the deed so she can join her boyfriend.
With all that said and done, I come with a mixed feeling about this film. The cute, and awkward scenes are funny at times, and the emotional roller coaster ride definitely hits a string or two, and the fact that Jeon Ji-hyun put on a extremely solid performance, does the film some justice, but overall, the tone is a bit better than mediocre at best. The new ideas aren't new enough, and the surprise element of the film doesn't even exist until the last minute of the movie. Which - by the way - swept me off my feet. At first, I thought it was pretty cool - but then I realized if the director did that try and compensate or have a guarantee that viewers will still walk away at the last minute thinking, "That was a pretty good movie but the ending was friggn' amazing!." Overall, I would still recommend watching this movie. But it's probably best to watch "My Sassy Girl" first. You'll know what I mean.