Reviews written by registered user
MartianOctocretr5

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591 reviews in total 
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13 out of 48 people found the following review useful:
Wrestling from Isla Nublar, 15 June 2015
8/10

Most everybody agrees that the 2nd and especially the 3rd of the Jurassic installments were anemic rehashes of the wild show the original Jurassic Park was. So bad, that they put the genetically engineered dinosaurs on the endangered species list. This return saves the franchise, although there are some blemishes in scripting that are too noticeable to ignore.

First of all, when you go to see a Jurassic Park movie, you're there to see dinosaurs hunting people and smashing stuff to bits, right? It's hardly any mystery that something will go horribly wrong sooner or later either. It was a good device to show the park operating in the manner it's supposed to, and the Sea World/Disneyland touristy feel was the right approach. Still, you can't help but think, "OK, when do the dinosaurs break out and start chasing everybody?" The movie does not disappoint where dinosaur violence is concerned. There are plenty of dino-duels and chase scenes. The pterodactyl sequence is executed well.

Are there problems? Yes, several. One character has the word "Dino- meal stamped on his head from the first time you see him. Then there are the clichés that have shown up in every single JP movie now: kids in danger who are in danger because they're dumb and encounter the most dangerous dinosaur, references to a divorce that nobody cares about, an obnoxious corporate twit with a big mouth, a guy plotting to exploit the dinosaurs for his own agenda, and so on. There are some plot holes, especially in the inconsistent behavior of some of the animals. The story gives some character development to the dinosaurs, which usually works except for a couple of glaring and weird exceptions. Human characters really aren't developed too well, and one lead character was horribly miscast. And, whoever cranked out the tired "cell phones fail just when you need them" cliché needs to placed under arrest.

The story line has a clear destination, and moves well from chapter to chapter. The climactic melee at the end is exactly what the audience is hoping to see, complete with some great pay-offs of well done plot development set-ups.

Not perfect, but a great ride. Bring your popcorn and enjoy watching the dinosaurs go berserk.

Maleficent (2014)
3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Lots of noise; unimpressive take on this old story, 18 January 2015
4/10

Remember Sleeping Beauty? Try to picture how it would be if every aspect of it were turned up-side down. You'd have this.

The recent outbreak of efforts to rewrite fairy tales and make them more adult and dark is getting to a point where new extremes of darkness and violence are all that is seen, with ever more aggressive themes.

Maleficent takes this "darkness for its own sake" approach to new levels, but doesn't really come up with anything interesting in its new take on this old story. It fancies itself that way, by cranking out some now exhausted themes like "evil people are really the good ones' they're just misunderstood," There is an act of pointless violence that is an obvious reference to rape, and the story line tries to build a scorned woman motif from that.

Ultimately this is offered as an excuse for someone planning to murder an innocent child. Sorry, nobody who wants to kill a child is a hero. Ever.

The royal family are all rewritten as power hungry and vicious, and the fairies that once protected the child are stupid, inept, and useless.

I was wondering who was doing all the mugging and overacting underneath all that Maleficent costuming. Who else: Angelina Jolie being self-important, trying hard to be a frightening screen presence. She tries to chew up every scene she's in with glares and monotonal line reads. She seems to think (and she's done this in several movies now) that if she's wearing black, she's a scary villain. No, just one you look forward to seeing her get exterminated so she'll shut up.

Special effects are impressive, but always overdone. Every battle looks like something George Lucas and Michael Bay came up with when they got drunk together one night. Acting is poor throughout, and the director's heavy-handed approach is loud but never interesting.

This movie tries hard to impress you with smoke and mirrors, but does not succeed.

19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Sweet "feel good" story, 18 January 2015
7/10

Hallmark premiered several new Christmas movies this year, and this one hits a lot of sentimental high points to be among the best.

A struggling single mother who waitresses moves to the town she believes her father (who died when she was a baby) had grown up in, to hopefully learn about him.

Acting by the entire cast is spot on for the approach this one takes. It's unashamedly a "feel-good" type movie, but with this story that's not a problem at all. The numerous secret connections between the characters suggest a higher power is at work bringing all these people together, a story line that is told in an uplifting manner that is never schmaltzy. The characters are likable (except for the villains who play their villainy very well too).

Just a good-natured film for some Christmas season cheer, which is what this movie set out to be.

The Secret Santa (2014) (TV)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The truth about the jolly old elf is out there!, 18 January 2015
8/10

This was the best new Christmas TV special of the 2014 season. It's a wonderful treat of Christmas spirit, with plenty of heart. It's the kind of story that rekindles the magic and wonder you felt as a child from the legend of a stranger who brought you presents some time overnight each December 24.

A TV feature news reporter does a story about the mysterious appearance of snowmen on the hot Christmas Day at a home in Phoenix, AZ. This odd occurrence prompts her to research who would do such a thing and why. Interviewing the family reveals only one clue; one of the children had asked for snowmen in a letter to Santa. More research shows that similar acts have been tracked all over the country to two names the apparent benefactor has gone by at different times, Nick Myra and Luke Nast.

Her quest to find this kind yet elusive benefactor is told in a first person documentary/reality show format that works far better than you would expect. One might expect that approach to be corny, silly, choppy, or contrived, and yet it avoids all these pitfalls. Instead, you'll see a series of very emotional and heartwarming tales as we join the reporter in tracking this Good Samaritan, who has evidently been helping people at random in a variety of ways for some time. Each progressive act of kindness that is uncovered is more incredible and harder to explain than the last.

The ending couldn't have been any more creative or touching. It's set up very well, and the reactions of the characters are guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of anyone, except perhaps the most die-hard Scrooges and Grinches.

Before closing, just wanted to note that this hidden Christmas treasure was aired by an unexpected source. You're thinking Hallmark Channel or the similar Up TV, perhaps? No, it was on TLC, which usually is known for exploitation "reality TV", and was an immensely refreshing change of pace from that.

Hopefully, they will re-run it next season. For a good dose of Christmas cheer, this one is recommended.

One Christmas Eve (2014) (TV)
6 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Coal in your stocking, 3 December 2014
3/10

Just barely watchable.

If you love seeing a bunch of characters screaming at each other about everything in mock panic attacks, then this film might suffice. There seems to be no moral; when someone plays Good Samaritan to someone else in trouble, they wind up being the next victim of grossly exaggerated and unfunny calamity.

During accidents, you hear a familiar Christmas song as the tragedy takes place. Apparently they're telling you somebody getting hurt, or a fire breaking out is hilarious. It's not.

Most of the characters are not likable, especially the family. It's hard to care about a character that you don't like, or what happens to them, no matter how weird and contrived the events are. It's not too clear if they're supposed to be the stupidest people on Earth, or just the unluckiest, since the emphasis seems to be on how many bad things can happen to these people, rather than why we should care.

Think of "The Out of Towners," but with no heart or point, and you have this. Run a video of 34th Street or Wonderful Life instead.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
More Medfield College shenanigans, 16 August 2014
6/10

Comedic take on the Invisible Man motif, featuring Disney's Medfield College gang of Dexter Riley, Dean Higgins et al. A good showcase for Kurt Russell's early work in comedy, before he started doing violent action heroes a few years later.

This time, Riley (Russell) is one of several college students trying to win a scientific invention contest. Lightning strikes (literally) and he finds himself in possession of a viable invisibility potion. He is ready to wow the world with this scientific breakthrough, but then, some evil hi jinx by crooks intervene, setting up some weird moments, car chases, predictable slapstick, keystone cop style bumbling, and other tomfoolery. The invisibility special effects are cheap, but it doesn't matter.

There are some slow points and lulls, but the good scenes make up for it. The golf sequences and the "invisibility presentation" bit are the funniest moments. The cast features some great character acting by Joe Flynn, Cesar Romero, Jim Backus, and William Windom.

Brainless fun for when you're in the mood for 3 Stooges type slapstick.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Biggest plus is Christina Ricci in the title role, 7 August 2014
6/10

Christina Ricci is effective in the role of the infamous Lizzy Borden, who was suspected and tried in the 1892 ax murders of her father and step-mother. She was ultimately acquitted, but people at the time and even today believe she got away with a brutal and grotesque crime.

This made-for-cable movie is faithful to known historical facts about the woman and the murder case, and dramatizes the story well. The approach of the production pivots around Ricci's performance, and she was well cast in this role. She has always been strong with off-center characters, and portrays the suspected murderess with a subdued power. You can almost see a violent conflict inside her burning just beneath the surface each time she's on screen. The image is one of a woman that is plotting, and concocting a lie every moment.

The biggest negative is the appallingly out of place soundtrack of rock music. Whoever is responsible for this should get 40 whacks from Lizzie's ax.

The rest of the cast interact with Ricci very well, and the late Victorian era setting is convincing. That dark-humor jump-rope rhyme that mocked Borden might be hard to get out of your head afterward.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Sincere effort, but doesn't tell the story very well, 3 August 2014
5/10

Most everybody who has heard of this movie knows what the subject matter is: a young child has a near death experience, and later relates what he saw during this experience, which sounds like a description of heaven. He includes some facts that he could not have known about, making it appear his experience was real.

The movie is approached very sincerely, but it focuses not so much on the child's testimony, but instead opts for many other topics. Examples include people's reactions, and the family being the victims of unwanted public scrutiny. It appears that they didn't see enough substance in the main subject matter, and therefore dressed it with these tangent matters. The result is unfocused and disappointing.

I haven't read the book, but it's a fair guess more details about what you want to know can be found in it. Go with the book instead of this film.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
I've...GOT IT!, 3 August 2014
8/10

Well, it was a famous exit line, so we'll never know if he finally did "get it" or not.

This, the earliest screen version of the classic whodunit novel of the same name, takes some liberties with it, but remains the best version over the countless other versions of this story even after 70 years.

Eight guests are invited and two house servants are hired to a secluded island by a man none of them knows. They learn all too late that they are being punished for murders they each got away with, when, one by one, each is being murdered. The murderer further taunts his remaining victims by marking each death with the disappearance of one of ten little Indians statues. He uses the Ten Little Indians poem as a framework for each murder. At first, it appears the murderer is hiding on the island somewhere, but soon it becomes evident he is one of the ten. Once everyone suspects each other, the tension builds well.

Great characterizations are done by a wonderful cast, and the story unfolds in just the right manner to keep you guessing. The spooky house environment provides a perfect setting for the action.The original book's ending was stronger, but this movie's alternative works OK.

See if you can guess whodunit, but be forewarned: if anybody named U.N. Owen, that you've never met, ever invites you to an island, turn down the invitation.

Saving whales: film at 11, 3 August 2014
6/10

In the late 80's, a family of whales become trapped under the polar ice cap near Barrow, Alaska, before they can begin migrating southward. Local news, and a an angry environmentalist stir up support for the trapped whales, making the plight of the whales world news. Soon efforts to help them are undertaken as the new aquatic celebrities fight for survival.

There's certainly a point of view taken to one side of the environmental issue, but this movie is gentle and sentimental enough to get away with it. There's one event in the whales' battle for survival that is handled especially well on an emotional level, without becoming schmaltzy or exploitative. It's hard not to be involved with the endangered animals or what their fate may be after this sequence.

Acting is generally effective, although I hope the environmentalist played by Drew Barrymore was not as abrasive and irritating as shown in this movie. Barrymore is a great actress, but I was hoping one of the whales, or anybody, would slap her face and shut her up in a few places.

Overall, some harmless feel-good material. A nice family movie.


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