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674 reviews in total 
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Hidden messages implicate and vindicate, 19 July 2016

This is a fascinating war story, but it's more than that. It's a "psychological expose", and to this day I am not sure if even the writer realizes what he exposes.

On the surface, we see a tragic war incident go awry due to a misunderstanding and lack of communication. From the point of view on the surface, it seems that the members of an American squad try to accomplish a task by what has to be an insanely stupid method. They believe the tragedy occurs because of one man whom they actually set up to cause the tragedy.

In this case, the tragedy involves a "fake skirmish" in which the Germans can avoid being executed by their own army for surrendering.

And that's where the writer implicates the "mob" instead of the "one soldier". We get a look a "mob mentality". There simply is no way to whitewash this as the mania of the character played by Gary Sinise. Instead, this "vindicates" his character, and implicates the other Americans.

There simply is no way to deny that the other members of the squad intentionally set it up for disaster, though one can say their intent was "subconscious". However, I don't buy this, and only a fool would buy into it.

I've been in such situations where the "mob majority" purposely sabotaged one person, no matter what the results, just out of a demonic need. This is not "miscommunication". It's demonic hatefulness.

War is an arena for such maniacs to try to play God, but as we see, they are fully incompetent. It doesn't turn out the way they intend it to. Had they "communicated" the "fake skirmish" to the one soldier they sabotage, everything would work out. Their desire to sabotage him is so great, as is their desire to see blood, that they believe they can create a situation to dishonor their own "comrade".

It is this lack of "camaraderie" that is exposed. It isn't a lack on the part of one soldier. He is painted as the sociopath, when in fact the narration vindicates the one as a team player and the rest of the team as the true sociopath lunatics.

I would like to think the author intended it this way, but had to disguise it in order to slowly draw the many sociopaths of young armies into recognizing the truth.

In any event, it is revealing if one views with a mature and objective mind.

Fun, 15 May 2016

The Tremors monster series of films is all about "fun", and makes no attempt to be anything more.

And this one fits right in. The title kind of gives away some of what it isn't supposed to, and it should be retitled.

The hero team, as always, is made up of two guys whom most people could never identify with, but still understand the motivations for. The alienation of the audience is not as total as most "hero team" movies go. Like the rest of the series, it's a step up from the "demi-god" heroes. They aren't able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but they do have some supernatural powers, though not too many to make them unapproachable.

The African trio of secondary heroes makes this a much better film, but they are put too much into the back burner. It would have been better if they were the front burner, much better.

Gravity (2013)
Less than meets the eye, 19 April 2016

This is a "lost in space" style story, with the theme being on the isolation and helplessness of the character.

Aside from a few "voices" and "corpses", there are only two characters here, and pretty much just one.

That's okay. It makes this more of a stage play set in outer space, but with some action replacing dialog.

This has always been big with directors, to have just one or two characters. The problem is that if you just develop one or two characters, you better use the hour or more of developing to do a fantastic job, because there's no excuse otherwise.

The character development falls very flat, and honestly a good writer could do this much in a ten minute short story.

That's not to say it's a bad film. It is watchable, the story is good enough, and the director succeeds in an obvious, although somewhat expository attempt at showing the reality of floating in Space.

The "reality" theme of space is efficient, but also looks contrived to fit an agenda, contrived to fit the scenario.

Not as contrived as most Hollywood movies, however.

The acting is sub par. Two huge names, but little talent. This would have been much better with two completely unknown theater majors or graduates who were more theater and less Hollywood, because the director obviously wanted this to be "more theater and less Hollywood", but the acting foiled any chance this had to be spectacular.

A lot of it is poor dialog. Very "formula" dialog, which is okay if you're going "Hollywood" or "James Bond", but not if you're attempting reality Drama.

The premise is good, the logistics work well, and technically this is fine, and it isn't a total waste. It just isn't anything more than a very definitive 6/10.

Mature viewing, 12 April 2016

As of this review, there is only one other review, and it is very accurate. I want to elaborate on some specific points that make me give it a good, but not stellar, rating.

We have two major plots going on at once in the story of a fairly upper class radio evangelist who signs a contract with a hateful, mercantile man who promotes him to go on an expensive tour. One plot is about a son the man had from an affair that enrages his employer, and which he keeps secret. The second is his niece, who is a party girl with a fairly good heart whom he becomes guardian to following her mother's death.

In ways, this is mature, but in ways it seems very insubstantial in the motivations of the protagonist. To most of us, his motives seem very meager in his willingness to succumb to his boss's demands, but that's probably why most of us aren't in high positions.

His motivation to keep his son a secret never really pans out for me, even before his boss demands it be a secret. While his boss seems a bit of a caricature to most of us, I do realize such men do exist in the upper crust, and again this is due to most of us being totally alien to the life style.

The movie does a pretty good job in showing the motivations of the people. I'm not sure it shows enough to persuade ordinary people to accept the protagonist's desire to keep his secret. I know it's a hard thing to tell your wife, but considering what the man preached, it especially seemed necessary. The man was educated enough to know the phrase "oh what a tangle web we weave".

On the other plot of the niece, I don't want to spoil that. It gets very scary, though. The main characters pull this through, and the actors and actresses are good. Some of them are asked to play very shallow and horrible characters, and that takes some guts.

All in all, it was a worth while film.

7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
An embarrassment for all involved, 15 March 2016

I thought nothing could be worse than the version with Hugh O'Brien, and it's true, this isn't that bad, but the production team tries very hard to be that bad.

This was one of the first books I ever read as a child, and it fascinated me. It is the master piece of Agatha Christie. I never cared for the stage version, which the first movies followed, but they were at least lightly likable.

The movies got worse and worse, hitting rock bottom with the neo Nazi era version of 1965, which ushered in the neo Nazi era of the seventies and eighties.

Finally, the Russians got it perfect with DESYAT NEGRITYAT. It's almost word for word. What few changes there are, at least fit in with the characters and story.

A brief synopsis of the story here. Ten people, all of whom are guilty of "indirect murder" for which they can never be accused, are isolated on an island, one of them intent on killing the others in a homicidal insane madness of playing judge and God. Most of the killers did so with some premeditation, but not all. They try to discover which of them is killing them, before they all die.

This version obviously tries to borrow the worst of all versions. The only thing it remains loyal to Agatha Christie on is her "Nazi ideology" and obvious jealousy of young dark haired women, whom she loved to kill off in her world.

The only thing this movie remains loyal to Christie on is the only thing that she should ever have been embarrassed about.

The lines and events are changed to fit the usual Hollywood dork expectations. This is written for Beavis and Butthead. It's that bad.

The characters are the main problem. We can divide the characters into two groups. The "minor first four fatality" characters are legitimate enough. Not enough is changed on them to make this bad.

The other six characters are complete Hollywood clichés to a level of ridiculousness. Lombard, especially, is turned into a Greek hero demi god who can do no wrong, physically. He is one dimensional to the max. Probably had to edit out any time the actor coughed, sneezed, blinked, or made one misstep.

Vera is completely different. DESYAT NEGRITYAT gets her very well. In the book, she doesn't sleep with Lombard, but in movies, all of which are geared for Hollywood clichés, she has to. At least in DESYAT, her character is true to her motivation. She is a human monster, motivated by control and demonic hate. Anyone who has ever known such a woman, knows this woman will always choose a sexual partner she figures to manipulate.

Her sleeping with the perfect Lombard in this piece was totally off character. It would be likely for Mrs. Rogers or Emily Brent to sleep with this perfect physical specimen, but never the demon possessed control freak, Vera.

The killer, and though you probably know who it is, I won't spoil it, since I don't need to, is turned into the complete Hollywood cliché by virtue of a demonic presence entering into him from another person. That isn't exactly specified, but implied, in this case as being "kindred spirits" of a man he watches die.

The killings for which the ten people are accused are changed drastically, most of them. Again, the first four are not changed so much as the remaining six. The ways they are changed are poorly done, and like most of the movie, give the impression that at least one of the production crew has "issues" with certain people.

This is about as "preachy" as a movie can be. Nothing is subtle. The lines are horribly done, but the actors do a good job with what is given them. One must pit them for being in this pathetic piece.

Great visuals and narration, 31 January 2016

I don't think the prophecies of Nostradamus are any "news" to any one. Certainly to no one reading these reviews, and even in 1981, he was getting some of the "underground" appeal. By the time this film came out, he entered into super fame status thereafter.

This film is a great visual piece, and I think it should be of note that even narrator Orson begins by saying this film is not his idea, inferring that he is not "sold" on Nostradamus.

And so, Orson does a fantastic narration, which in view of his denial of belief, makes this a great acting job on his behalf.

I was never sold on the prophecies, and neither were most of us in the arts, because we could see how vague the "quatrains" were. Give enough vague verses, and they have to come true across the globe over hundreds of years.

The only amazing thing is that less that 100% of them came true so far, in some interpretation. That would be amazing.

The "legend" of Nostradamus is very akin to Tyrone Power in NIGHTMARE ALLEY. The con approach is to be general enough, and hit upon items that can have many meanings. I practiced this myself around 1990 with some friends, and scared them senseless with one quatrain, which incidentally came totally true on 9-11-01. I wasn't being "insightful". I just knew that "twin towers", "Sun falling", and other phrases could have dozens of meanings. "Twin towers" could mean basketball players, Minnesota cities, the buildings, and who knows what else.

So, it isn't to be taken seriously. It's "fun and games", this film is. And it is great fun and games. Very interesting, very well done, very entertaining. Thumbs up.

50 out of 100 people found the following review useful:
Has heart, 6 January 2016

It's been a very long time since I've read THE SWORD OF SHANARA, and I really don't recall it having to do much with this, as SWORD was nearly identical to the adventures of Bilbo's nephew in Middle Earth.

Hard to see much originality in the type of world of these chronicles, and that was accepted a long time ago.

However, all these Middle Earth clones have their own little nuances, for lack of a better word.

These chronicles look to be off to a good start. It's obviously written for young men, since the women are the mystery characters. And that's the switch that makes this original. Too many of the "fantasy" films and novels have been written for women, alienating the young men. This is a long overdue response to a one sided market that snubbed the guys.

And guys have been snubbed because producers have correctly noted that the women in the household make the decisions. Men do what they're told. The most henpecked of men are the ones who are so beaten that they can't admit it.

This show is a fantasy world of hot women being enigmas and being cool, and men doing the observing and reacting.

Since the male characters are observing and reacting to the actions of the beautiful women of this show, this is a total male fantasy. There'll be some women who like this, too. The more confident ones.

Any special effects, any trolls or gnomes or demons, are all just "dividends" here. The show is fantasy for males, and that's good. The two chief male characters are a likable combo of experienced tutor (a druid in this case) and "anointed young man" who actually is quite believable under the circumstances, and that will antagonize the Beavis and Butthead bubble boys, of course.

Still, the audience for this is educated young people in need of entertainment and release of stress. There is no "great lesson" here. It's release of tension. The situations so far are almost all life and death, or at least extreme. And that makes the hero's sense of humor give him a 007 appeal. He isn't the superman that the women and gay guys want, but rather an ordinary sort who tries his best, and does his best.

The "genre" and "sub genre" aren't original, but the way this is handled is very risk taking in a culture where young heterosexual men are alienated and have little say in the decisions of TV and movies.

A welcome change. It will be welcomed by the straight young men, for sure.

3 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Tough call, 24 December 2015

There are a few ways to look at this new addition to the STAR WARS Universe, the seventh in the series, and this time in the proper sequence.

First of all, it's the value of the story itself.

One of the basic mistakes of story telling is related to us by Chaucer in early literature. The miller tells a tale, which good or bad, is what it is, and is well received, and brings spirits up.

Then the reeve is enraged, and tells a tale of spite, doing nothing more than sabotaging the first story.

That's what the "prequels" came across as. As reeve's tales.

Fortunately, we get no "reeve's tale" here. This is a story on its own merits.

However, most will observe the obvious, that there is a repeating of History to some effect.

And that's part of the story, and part of what "troubles" at least one of the original characters.

It isn't a complete repeat of History, but it is enough so that a chief character is so depressed that he hides away, and this seventh story is a quest to find him, along with some side stories.

Another important thing to remember about this seventh adventure in this Universe is that while I review it, in the last days of 2015 A.D., it is perceived as being a copy of an earlier film, which is understandable.

However, in 2065 A.D., and in 2115 A.D., it will be judged on its own merits, which is what makes this a "tough call".

For those living now, we aren't so impressed with the dialog, and that's not a knock on the dialog. It's certainly better than most movie dialog. Unfortunately, the first Star Wars spawned "iconic" lines and situations, and today, there are just so many control freaks who think they are the ones to decide the new iconic lines, that everyone else is just shouted down.

Watching the film, it was apparent to me that there was no intention of "iconic" lines, or of the "hard hitting" lines. Instead, it looked like more of an attempt to fit into the natural order of this Universe, and then let what may happen just simply happen.

And that's a good call. There are simply going to be "haters" at this stage.

In thinking over the past decades of how I would write the story, I must say I'm very impressed. It is almost exactly the way I would write it, the way it needed to be written.

More cannot be said on that without a spoiler, other than to expound on a few characters.

First, a tragic character who buys the farm. It was well done, not only being dramatic and theatrical, but also being natural in the order of events. It pretty much needed to go this way. It was a fatality that we felt, and that was good, because a death should affect us.

Second, the villain. The new Darth Vader was exceptional. Abrams and team gave us a modern Bogie. Bogart was the champion of the portrayal of the "villain with insecurities", and that's what we get here. The most believable and three dimensional villain of the Star Wars Universe to date.

In this new villain, we see hints of Bogie villains from THE CAINE MUTINY, TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, PETRIFIED FOREST, DEAD END, even BLACK LEGION. (PETRIFIED FOREST, Bogie is not so much insecure as in a corner, and we get that here).

I don't know if Abrams did this intentionally, but I think someone on the team did.

Third, the heroine is exceptional and perfectly done. She has an "inconspicuous beauty", one we saw in the golden age of films. A natural beauty without a lot of adornments or make up. Being "conspicuous" is dangerous in battles, cause it makes you a likelier target, which is why action heroines and heroes of the golden age tended to be "inconspicuous". Also, the heroine has great fire and motivation, plus what looks to be heart.

Fourth, Finn is exceptional. A great fugitive storm trooper who doesn't want to be part of this "Universe", which makes him much like Luke. One can see this playing out much like the similar characters of SEVEN SAMURAI (Rikiki and Toshiro Mifune's anonymous character), with an understanding of each other, yet a contempt. Great screen writing here.

Another point is the relationships. They're well done, and the quick latching onto relationships is okay, because people here are in distress. The old romance between the aging hero and heroine of the first trilogy is great to see, too, as we get a lot of interesting relationships here, which makes this movie much better, technically, than any of the previous ones.

The scenery is also very majestic, and not overdone. An "A" for that.

Time will tell if the rating will go up or down, but I'm speaking about real time, not the mere 20 or 30 years that some of the uneducated believe. I mean 100 years or so. For now, it works quite well. I expect this to be well received.

Except by the "reeve" types.

Good movie, a few nit picks, 7 December 2015

Obviously, when based on truth, especially a very modern truth, with characters still having survivors, a story may have many sides.

Except in the case of the demon possessed Taliban monsters. There really is only one side here.

There are gray areas. Such as how to deal with prisoners and civilians. JUNGLE FIGHTERS explored this for WWII quite well. PLATOON showed a scary side of uncertainty in Viet Nam.

Here, we get more of the uncertainty of modern warfare.

A small team of well trained soldiers go on a mission to eliminate a human monster that the world would obviously be better off without.

The plan goes awry because of a compromised situation.

The story is well told, and I believe told quite credibly. When the four soldiers are outnumbered, you will probably be like me and hope they all get out, despite the title, and kill all the nut jobs out there, because you know those nut jobs make life miserable even more for the local people.

And we get insight into that, which is good.

A lot is good with this film, and well done.

A few nit picks I have.

First, I found it easier to understand the Farsi speakers than the Americans. Whether it was sound quality or just horrible enunciation from the actors, I have no idea what any of the Americans said for the entire first half of the film. I would walk out if I didn't plan to critique it.

Fortunately, the rest of the film made up for it.

Second, I learned some Farsi from Pimsleur tapes and a book, though never practiced in real life to real people, and even I could understand and communicate better than the soldier among the villagers. One would think he would at least know to say "chaghu" for "knife", and "motoshakerim" (which I always remember by saying "Moto Shack Harem"), and to understand the simple "Taliban nist".

Unbelievable that the soldier couldn't understand any of this, but then he was horribly wounded, but then it should have been made clear that this was the reason he didn't understand. I can't comprehend that simple Farsi wouldn't be taught to an elite unit.

Third, and lastly, the soldier should have known that the villagers weren't hostile, I guess because the villager kept saying "Taliban Nist", and thought he was a little crazy during that time.

These are mere nit picks on a good film. Thumbs up.

"Literary license" for motivation and character, 22 November 2015

The best way to accurately give a review of this look at Genesis and the Bible, is to call it a film based on "literary license" or "poetic license" for the motivation of characters involved.

For example, when one reads Genesis, one can't find a reason to legitimize the deceit Jacob shows in stealing from his brother.

This also lead to the quandary of how it was recorded in the first place. If Jacob was just a selfish thief, why would the first people who recorded the story even say he was justified? This film sets out to give plausible explanations for such questions.

Are they the correct interpretations? Who knows? They certainly fit the criteria of "credibility" for the way in which the stories are recorded.

That's because we not only deal with the stories, but with the people who record them, and who listen to them.

The men make mistakes, but learn from them.

I was most impressed with the saga of Jacob.

The most disappointing to me, was the story of the twelve sons of Jacob. I understand why, though. Very few films have the time to delve into twelve characters. It's natural to show Reuben's first born mistakes, and the cruelty of Simeon. Here, the cruelty of Levi is left out, probably because there is a need to go to the important fourth brother of Judah.

All in all, it's a credible rendition that is worth watching, if only to agree or disagree with.

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