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855 out of 1052 people found the following review useful:
It saddens me ..., 26 December 2009

... not the movie, but the number of self-professed Holmes aficionados who apparently have no knowledge of Holmes. For the record, Holmes was a miserable, irresponsible drug addict who did indeed sleep on the floor, insult his best friend, experiment on his dog, and never ever wore a deerstalker's cap (at least, not until television was invented). He was a brawler who practiced martial arts and was as likely to slum around in the filthiest of rags as he was a suit.

It wasn't until after Doctor Watson took him in hand that he truly refined himself and became a "respectable" member of society. And yes, we can tell that this movie takes place THAT early in their relationship because Watson has not yet married his wife (the retconning did annoy me, too, by the way, but you just can't avoid a little re-imagining here and there).

Speaking of unavoidable, Irene Adler, Holmes' one uncapturable (is that a word?), simply had to be cast as a potential love interest. The flirting, the romance, and the near-make-out session were irresistible to the director (and to all of the audience who're honest with themselves).

That being said, I felt Robert Downey, Jr. played Sherlock Holmes to perfection. His characteristic caustic attitude towards Lestrade and even Watson at times was exactly how I'd imagine him. He gives several summations of his observations and deductions that brought Holmes to life in an almost unparalleled way. His fight scenes (preceded the first few times by superhuman calculations) show both the mental and physical sides of Holmes in ways that Watson's notes can't quite convey, but at which they constantly hint.

As for Watson himself, Jude Law delivered a wonderful performance. I was a little skeptical of how well he fought, given Watson's wartime injury, but his character and demeanor were entirely on the nose. His loyalty to Holmes despite his frustrations with him could not have been captured more expertly, I feel. No one, no matter how patient or forgiving, could endure Holmes forever without the occasional confrontation. The original Holmes, after all, was not above insulting his best friend or even deriding his deductive capabilities at times. Nevertheless, Watson never could abandon his friend in his time of need.

This version (or vision, if you will) of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest creation may be more swashbuckling, more thrilling, and more edgy than any other incarnation, but that doesn't make it any less faithful to the original. Aside from a little revisionist history in the cases of the female leads, nothing is that far out of the ordinary; and no amount of references to Madonna will change that.

17 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Just different., 22 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Last week, AMC premiered a six-part series, "The Prisoner", based on a 1960's series of the same name. The original series was conceived, starred, and mostly written by screen legend Patrick McGoohan ("Escape from Alcatraz", "Braveheart") and ran a total of 17 episodes.

The new series stars Jim Caviezel ("Passion of the Christ") and Sir Ian McKellen ("The Da Vinci Code", "The Lord of the Rings"). I hadn't seen the original before watching this version, though thanks to retrospectives and sci-fi specials, I've been aware of it for some time. After watching AMC's presentation, though, I went to and watched the entire series. Frankly, I felt AMC's version to be slightly superior. There were many elements of McGoohan's series, not the least of which being his performance as the eponymous Prisoner, that outstripped AMC's version; but overall, I consider the new to be the better program. I know that position won't endear me to many fans of the original series. I'm a purist, myself, and I can't stand many of the remakes that have been produced recently (I still refuse to go see Will Ferrell's "Land of the Lost"). That doesn't mean that I can't like the new better than the old, though.

**Warning: Contains Spoilers** First of all, in this case you can hardly compare the two together. McGoohan's "Prisoner" was about a secret agent who resigned and was abducted by persons unknown until he would reveal the "true reason" for his resignation. Caviezel worked for a company apparently engaged in researching persons who possessed access to higher states of consciousness. In both series, the Village is a place to hold the Prisoner until he is feeling cooperative, but what "they" want from the Prisoner is different in each case. The new Village isn't even a village, per se; it's apparently some sort of astral projection in which the residents all share with the help of Number Two and his wife. In short, the two stories are similar in name only.

This makes comparing the merits of the two stories vaguely like comparing Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series; some elements remain the same, some archetypes are common, but the plots, characters, and moral (the fundamentals of every story) are widely divergent. No one can doubt McGoohan's vision or creativity in what is rightly considered a masterpiece of the sci-fi/adventure genre; but his is not the only vision out there. Should the nominal aspects of McGoohan's "Prisoner" have been appropriated for the new version? Maybe, maybe not; but it certainly wouldn't be the first time a beloved series has been "updated" for a new generation (see Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, et al).

As a consequence of the new nature of the Village, some elements were necessarily eliminated or adjusted. First of all, the nature of Number Two has significantly changed. Before, Number Two was an administrator/warden tasked with extracting information from the "Villagers", including Number Six (McGoohan). To keep the focus on Number Six, every time Number Two failed to learn why Six resigned, a new Number Two was chosen to replace him. Some few Two's managed to retain their position longer than others, but all eventually failed when faced with Six's iron will.

McKellen's Number Two, though, could hardly be replaced so easily or so readily. Running a prison, even one disguised as a village, is quite a different task than controlling another plane of consciousness; especially one that is ever-expanding. When Caviezel's character proves his resilience, rather than continuing in their efforts merely to integrate him in society, it is apparently decided to anoint him as the new Number Two. McKellen's character, after all, is getting on in years, and he would need a successor eventually, anyway. This arrangement, though integral to the new storyline, places far more emphasis on Two than in the original series, even to the point of giving him a wife and son. Such an emphasis calls for the kind of acting that only a man of McKellen's caliber could deliver, which has led many to claim that Two upstages Six in this version. Apparently, though, that's how it's supposed to be.

By the way, if you've noticed me using the word "apparently" a lot in connection to AMC's "Prisoner", you're right. I'm guessing at much of what takes place in the new series. There's more mystery in the new version; still, it's left me with fewer questions than the original series. For example, when "Number One" is finally revealed in McGoohan's series, I couldn't have been more confused. They never quite reveal the real reason why Number Six resigned, nor do they even make clear during the series whether there is a "real reason" or if his captors merely think there is. And though one can hardly fault how well the writers and creators worked with what they had (i.e. a 1960's working knowledge of science), some of the episodes dealing with surveillance, medical science, and especially hypnotism were rather hard to swallow.

Finally, fans of the original series like to say there's no way anyone could live up to McGoohan's performance as Number Six. As for myself, I couldn't care less. We expect each actor to approach roles differently, even when it's the same role. Daniel Craig was a far different James Bond than Sean Connery, but that didn't make either one "superior" to the other; merely different. And this can hardly be considered the "same role". When you consider all the ways in which the stories diverge, the motivations differ, and the distance between the aims, you can't expect any of the characters to adhere to the original. Was McGoohan's performance superior to Caviezel's? Perhaps; but only in the same sense that Peter O'Toole's performance as King Henry was superior to Richard Harris' performance as King George.

- Stephen Monteith (read the original review on Facebook at: )

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Like nothing you've seen from him before, 18 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't want to sound insensitive, but when people talk about how Heath Ledger's suicide may have been due to immersing himself too deeply into the role of the Joker, I think it may have been true.

The Joker as portrayed in The Dark Knight is easily the most ruthless character I've ever seen. In one scene, Batman drives his Batpod straight for the Joker, while Joker simply stands in the middle of the street screaming for Batman to run him down. You can tell, as the movie unfolds, that it's not a deathwish that drives him; it's a chilling indifference to his own fate, as long as he can destroy the Batman's soul in the process.

To say that he's prepared to die to accomplish his goal would imply that he felt death was something for which he needed to prepare; the Joker simply doesn't care whether he's alive or dead. He knows that if the Batman kills him that it would haunt Batman for the rest of his life, which would be worse than death.

He repeats this in a scene with Harvey Dent, in which he hands him a gun to see if the heroic Harvey will murder him rather than try to bring him to justice. Recently scarred in an explosion, the newly emerged Two-Face tosses his signature coin to decide the Joker's fate; the Joker's only reaction to this is "Now we're talking."

Some people are offended by this; not that he's violent, but that he's wholly psychotic. They think of the over-the-top Cesar Romero Joker, or even the gangster-clown Jack Nicholson Joker, and say "that's how it should be". These people either haven't read the graphic novels detailing the Joker's reign of terror over Gotham City, or they have and just prefer that they have a "funny villain".

That's not what the Joker is. The Joker is not a risk-taker or a thrill-seeker; he is nothing more or less than a complete psychopath. Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime is absolutely my favorite interpretation. Every scene which features him leaves you wondering, "Would I have closed my eyes if I knew that was coming?", so vicious and yet so compelling they all are. Of course, they often happen too quickly for you to make that decision. If I want comedy, then I'll watch the animated series and catch Mark Hamill's act.

In short, it's like nothing from either the Joker or Heath Ledger that you've ever seen before.

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
It's too bad Mystery Science Theater: 3000 is off the air, 20 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

dee.reid is far too generous in his review of this movie. Allow me to offer a more blunt assessment: it was terrible! In recent years, I've never seen a movie that was so bad that wasn't trying to be. I've seen other movies that were as bad or worse, but usually as fodder for the cast of MST: 3k, a crew consisting of one captive man and two captive robots forced to endure the most hideous B-movies in Sci-fi/fantasy history. The trio survive only by slinging wisecracks and insults in a no-holds-barred attack on the movies in question.

I felt myself irresistibly compelled to do the same while watching Dragon Wars. The actors, including the leading men and woman, seemed to reel from scene to scene, unsure even of what to feel or why they made the decisions they did. I confess, I was similarly confused. For example, one scene involves sending the lead characters, Ethan and Sarah, to the top of an L.A. skyscraper so they can board a helicopter to escape the evil dragon. Once they are in the helicopter, the dragon reaches the top of the building and destroys the helicopter. The pair make it out alive and are then forced to return to the street below. This could conceivably happen when running from a dragon, but the entire sequence is absurd from a movie-making standpoint. For all of the money and effort spent producing the sequence, the characters achieved nothing more than ending up right where they started before they entered the building.

This sort of wasteful use of resources betrays the director's lack of experience. The dialogue, all of it, betrays his lack of writing experience. As much money as he must have spent on the movie, he should have worked smarter, not harder. Hiring a script doctor would have been a good start; a dialogue coach and an experienced co-director could have nicely rounded out a badly needed consulting team. And while I may not appreciate Korean culture, history, or mythology the way I should, this man did not make a Korean movie; he made an American movie. And as an American movie-goer, I feel particularly qualified to make this statement: "That is the worst six bucks I've ever spent on a movie."

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
So, what?, 17 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't care if it was a complete departure from the graphic novels, or if it had anything to do with them at all. As for historical flubs, I could care less if Rasputin or the Axis of Evil itself were mentioned. As for characters that I've never heard of, throw in the most obscure literary characters you can exhume or stuff it with the Hardy Boys. I really don't care.

It was simply a bad movie.

The plot was simple enough, but apparently very hard to follow. Excuse me, hard for the movie itself to follow. They were to stop a man from taking over the world, starting a world war, stealing their "powers", and generally being an unruly scoundrel that destroys what he cannot control. On the other hand, this campy cartoon movie just couldn't keep its eyes on the prize.

Departures for subplots I do not mind at all. But if you're going to flesh out the characters, then please give them some actual meat. Nemo had absolutely no character development at all. Allan Quatermain, the Merlin to Tom Sawyer's Arthur, was more the victim of terrible dialogue than he was of Sean Connery's typecasting. I did enjoy Tom's courting of Nina, but it went practically nowhere in the face of Dorian's "betrayal" of the entire group. Which reminds me, the red herring in that instance that was Skinner did nothing but keep the Invisible Man off the screen for a major portion of the movie. I couldn't have been more disappointed.

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