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591 reviews in total 
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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Aliens in the attic, losers in the house below, 2 July 2010

The aliens weren't meant to be the protagonists, but they're the lesser of two evils in this interplanetary contest. A retitled version of this movie (perhaps if it were redistributed on the aliens' planet, Zirconia) would be "Losers in the House."

A computer geek with teen angst, who hacks school computers to change his grades (a rip off of War Games) is our main "hero" in a family of annoying people. His older sister whines a lot, his parents are clueless zeroes, his cousins are snotty brats, and his uncle is a half-wit slime. Here's an example of how dysfunctional these people are: Uncle nearly runs over his niece (Geek's younger sister, the only likable person in the family) while driving like a deranged lunatic. Clueless Dad sees it happen, and just makes a sarcastic remark; how cute: Ha. Ha. If somebody almost killed my daughter, I'd smash his face. Finally, drama queen Older Sis has a loudmouth, conniving jerk of a boyfriend. (Pray these two don't marry--can you picture their children? Ugh.) They all go to rented cottage for a fishing trip, where their close encounter is about to begin.

So this motley bunch is all that stands between us and whatever the aliens are up to. The movie improves slightly when the Zirconians finally show up; the plot is sort of a mixture of ET, Home Alone, and Men in Black. The aliens are more pleasant and interesting characters than their Earthling counterparts. The littlest alien and the youngest sister Hannah are nice enough, and the remote control bit is funny (but overused).

Fast forward through the first 20 minutes or so; the movie has a few good moments after the terrible start.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
"It's the Big W, I tell ya, it's the Big W!", 27 June 2010

From the wonderful "3-Ring-Circus" themed opening title tune to the final pratfall, this is one of my all time favorite flicks. I've revisited it many times, and it's always a great watch.

It's one of those '60's movies where as many big stars as could be found were dealt into the melee of the film's running time. This was the film's principal claim to fame (and utilizes the formula better than any other): a battalion of comedic stars (including walk-on's and cameos), stellar names as diverse as Buster Keaton and Jerry Lewis. Not only was it a showcase to identify the faces sharing screen time, but it was also a high-aiming comedy embracing all that's classic in the realm of slapstick and parody. The film's title is fulfilled with characters going in pursuit of treasure, and winding up in a maze bizarre results. It's the classic mix of comedy and tragedy; and all the while, innocent bystanders turn out to be cleverly placed cameos.

What drives everyone "mad" is greed. When a group of ordinary travelers learn about a bounty of buried treasure (hidden under a "Big W"), they resort to all manners of insanity to get their hands on it before anyone else does. What follows is a wild race with a talented cast that takes you on the ride with them. Look out; other drivers!

Pick your favorite to get the dough. I rooted for the truck driver, Pike. By the way, who were those three firemen at the airport? Those guys sure looked familiar....

20 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
More monster camp from Roger Corman, 27 June 2010

Two of the mightiest and most fearsome beasts the world has ever known are brought together for a titanic fight to the finish. Or not.

About all these two do is prowl around some island and make occasional jump-out-of-nowhere kills (as if creatures this big and toothy would need to attack from the shadows). Characters all look suspiciously familiar. There's a Xena wanna-be who looks like Natasha from a Bullwinkle cartoon. There's an Indy Jones clone, and the usual Fish & Game girl. Some Hawaiian print shirt guy blows up stuff. There are some dino-chases-jeep sequences. And don't forget the obligatory extras who show up just in time to get croaked.

It's intentionally campy, and really cheap. A 2-year-old with crayons could make more realistic special effects, and the story meanders aimlessly from scene to scene. As for the clash of the titans promised in the title; don't blink, or you might miss it. High schlock meter reading on this one, and good for some laughs at how dumb it is.

Sensitive portrayals, 17 June 2010

A skilled and successful lawyer who defends downtrodden people in her practice is the product of a rural farming family that was torn apart by a terrible tragedy when she was a child. Melissa Gilbert plays this lead role with sensitivity and conviction (as well as her depression-ridden mother in flashback sequences).

Two basic themes are woven together in the various elements of the story: how mental/emotional illnesses can rip the fiber of a family; and how difficult, but essential, reconciliation between loved ones can be. The merging of the two parallel story lines is accomplished well, thanks to a cast that uniformly give fine performances. Ken Howard, as the lawyer's father being afflicted with the early stages of Alzheimer's, gives his role a particularly sympathetic and touching approach.

The film is neither overly schmaltzy nor exploitive. It makes the characters very real and believable, not exaggerated. There is appropriate conflict, and it is shown with conscience. A worth-while film.

14 Going on 30 (1988) (TV)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Hidden treasure, 17 June 2010

Copies of this are rare, but hunt one down; this little gem is worth the search. It's a lesser-known cousin of "Big," the Tom Hanks smash released about the same time. As good as Big is, I found this one to be more re-watchable. (Don't confuse it with the similarly titled 13 going on 30, the Jennifer Garner vehicle, which also delved into the kid-turns-into-adult theme.)

It's optimistic and sweet, and has a lot of heart. That's because it remembers it's a fantasy right to the end, something these other Big-type movies don't quite do. This one maintains its focus of what the 14 year old's dream was at the outset, and resolves it in an appealing way. It doesn't derail itself with adult angst stuff, as the others have done.

Basically, a teen has a crush on his young home-room teacher, who is engaged to his loudmouth gym coach, an arrogant oaf who runs Phys Ed classes like a military dictatorship. A series of well-timed opportunities turns the kid temporarily into an adult, the new principal of the school. He sets out to stop the marriage, with some comic results. The entire story is threaded well, and the final scene is endearing. For a limited budget made-for-TV movie, this is a keeper.

Annihilation Earth (2009) (TV)
11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
David, it's all your fault!, 13 June 2010

"Colliders" have gone berserk. They're some kind of mega-efficient energy providing devices (I guess), and now they're colliding with Mother Nature. I think. Things are blowing up.

One of the premier scientists in the world, who engineered this technology talks on his cell phone a lot. Usually to an almost unrecognizable Marina Sirtis (Star Trek, Next Gen). "David, this is all your fault. You better stop these disasters." She then hangs up, waits for another catastrophe to occur, then calls him: "David, you really need to stop these disasters. Now, David." It really started to sound like Hal 9000 after a while.

Anyway, what story there is, takes the normal course in a "world may end because of bad science" movie, with a very obvious but still nonsensical ending. As for Marina, she's probably still yelling at David.

21 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
How the world might end on a low budget, 13 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The generic style title makes it sound going in like a just another end-of-everything flick, and OK to approach just as a mindless way to kill some time on a stay-in evening. It's got a limited budget as you'd expect, but the script manages to offer a few new ideas.

Stonehenge, due to its mysterious origin, creator, and purpose, is ripe for one of these "way out" doomsday prophecy themed stories. Without giving away too much, weird stuff starts happening at the famous site. Other similar ancient shrines all over the world also seem to be effecting odd behavior. (Warning: essential cliché hero alert:) The hero is a brilliant rogue scientist who's into conspiracy theories, lol. Throw in a general who wants to nuke stuff, a cult with a demented prophet, some high powered alien contraptions, and an "ancient artifact" that looks like it was taken from a 1962 Ford Falcon.

Oddly enough, the thread of the story is all tied together pretty nicely. The story is told well, although the resolution of things takes some doing to swallow. Cheap, but a fair way to spend some time.

Princess of Mars (2009) (V)
7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
If it was done in 1957 in black and white at a drive in, it might have worked, 6 June 2010

It's just not too clear where the movie makers were trying to go with this adaptation of the Edgar Burroughs story. At first glance, it looks to be a tribute to the style of old drive-in sci-fi features, where an intrepid astronaut pioneers unchartered space. Along the way, our space hero will bravely fight giant creatures, duel bad guys, establish friendship with the Martian locals, romance a blonde alien, bring about peace between warring tribes, overthrow a despot, and so on.

They give us all that old school sci-fi stuff, but there's no cohesion to anything. The "plot" is just a parade of unlinked chapters. The story is modernized, which is a mistake. Yes, everybody knows the Rovers have found nothing up there, but who cares? Keep the naive retro feel of a mysterious and foreboding Mars. That was the fun of the source material. But now, the action doesn't even occur on Mars! The 19th century soldier turned Spaceman Spiff has been redone as a Gulf War Marine, and sports millennial tattoos. The Princess herself is Xena Warrior Princess one moment, and helpless fairy tale princess the next.

Still, those Martian green celery-head guys were lovable (even though you can see skin poking out from beneath the masks). The indigenous bug creatures, and the fights against them, are amusingly cheap, yet done with gusto. Overall, an amateurish film, but has a bit of odd charm to it.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not fun enough as a comedy; not properly constructed to be drama, 5 June 2010

So-so redo of the classic rat-pack comedy/adventure made 40 years earlier. Although the movie has its moments, it lacks the heart and humor of the original, while taking itself way too seriously.

An all-star cast, but several people in the cast are relegated to two minutes of screen time, a waste for this calibre of talent. The people we do see most often are George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts. Of these, Pitt and Damon fare best with the crime suspense approach the film takes. Clooney's character is written as the kind of failure in life type that could never devise and certainly not pull off a major caper like this. If the movie had shot for comedy, that would be OK. But it's not; it burdens itself with an absurd side plot of the casino crime boss, Roberts, and Clooney being in an old love triangle. And of course, Clooney is after revenge. Come on. Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but accepting that theme requires suspension of sanity. Julia Roberts, by the way, plays her unlikely character's situation way too straight. She's so low-key, she looks like she's asleep half the time. As for Clooney, his mugging wears thin after a while.

The way the casino security is depicted is ridiculous; again this would have been OK in a comedy. There's never more than about five or six of these brain-dead glorified bouncers running around; none of these inept fools could even catch his own Siamese twin. The state of the art high tech systems used in Vegas, according to this movie, couldn't prevent a blind man from wandering into a casino vault.

On the positive side, it still manages some brainless popcorn level entertainment. On that basis, it's about an average quality movie.

Screamers (1995)
Killer machines are evolving!, 5 June 2010

Screamers is a better than average monster flick. They're a little bit Hal 9000, little bit Tremors, and a lot of violence. Killer booby-trap machines that were originally programmed in a war long since ended are still roaming the desert of a distant planet, and they are ruthless hunter/killer machines that attack from the ground. Well, at first. You see, these guys are "evolving" themselves; each generation of robots is building new, more efficient progeny that are progressively more diabolical. And deadly.

There are many other sci-fi's that the Screamers emulate; two that it most looks like are Body Snatchers and The Thing. The more sophisticated robots impersonate objects, animals, even people. Needless to say, nobody is safe, and everyone is suspect. The intrigue provides plenty of suspense, and the wild battle scenes are frequent. Scary, exciting, and a good story that is built well. For a lower budget movie, this film was executed well with what they had.

Only one notable weakness; as the movie progresses, it becomes more and more obvious to recognize the disguised monsters. The movie tries some different ways to conceal them and set up scary "reveals," but it isn't able to fool you after a certain point.

Worth a viewing. Good sci-fi/horror popcorn feature.

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