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The Outer Limits (1995)
Four of My Favorite Episodes and Two of The Worst!
The six episodes here reflect the very best, and worst, of the series.
Since The Outer Limits always preaches a moral. I would like to offer my own. Starting with the most entertaining to the flops.
Favorite Number 1. Afterlife: As an institution, The U.S.A. military-industrial complex is both evil and paranoid, not to mention plain stupid. However, individuals with great integrity do serve our country, and they will obey their conscience even at a mind-boggling cost! In the end, the aliens don't need to say a word. Those without a conscience are fools who are to be held in utter contempt! A truly subversive episode! One that should be shown on prime time television for all to see! This might be a revelation for some, but folks without a conscience should not be allowed to serve in our military! Nor do the ends justify the means!
Favorite Number 2. Relativity Theory: A good person may be forced to make a split-second decision between good or evil in order to save the lives of defenseless intelligent beings, and at great cost to one's self. What makes this decision all the more difficult is the stark choice: Being marooned with exotic alien strangers who you can't even communicate with except through gestures, or going along with a group of people you think will keep you safe from unknown dangers even if they are ruthless, and devoid of compassion! This episode is brilliant! What fuels this depravity is good old fashioned greed. This episode is one of the most scathing indictments of capitalism, transnational corporations and raping the environment, I have ever seen in my lifetime! Unlike real life, justice here is served - and swiftly! One of the most memorable lines is when the ruthless corporate thug said something to the effect, "We did the same thing in the Amazon Rainforest War." Alluding to the killing of Amazonian Indians who were attempting to protect their rain forests from being strip mined, as justification for killing again literally in the name of the "survival of the fittest." Something Darwin never meant to be taken literally!
Favorite Number 3. Alien Shop: Tremendous power can be used for good, even from an exotic alien. This power can be used to heal instead of destroy. Mere mortals can learn from their mistakes! Even a criminal can see the light if given enough opportunity to do so.
Sometimes it takes strong medicine, but we all can wake-up and change our self-destructive ways!
Favorite Number 4. The Grell: An alien can be a Christ-like figure! In the distant future, slavery can be justified, once again, in the name of expediency! Basically good people can be corrupted. Sometimes a person needs to be experience great shame in order to see the evil he/she is committing. Children are closer to the truth than adults. Those with political power have tremendous responsibility! Another work of genius! As a species, "Do human beings learn from history?"
Flop Number 1: Quality of Mercy: Loose Lips, Sinks Ships! When in war kindly keep your mouth shut about important military plans. Gee, did I really need to watch an hour-long soap opera in order to figure this out?!! I wonder, did the makers of The Outer Limits run out of ideas, or did corporate pull the plug? Dark and ugly, serving no purpose, but despair!
Flop Number 2: Beyond The Veil: So bad there is no moral but this: When locked-up in a mental hospital, use some common sense, please! This episode is so bad it disgusts. What an X-Files rip-off! Don't waste your time on this one! You'll thank me later!
It's a sad commentary that The Outer Limits went down the tubes toward the end of its run. Subversive episodes, like the first four, could not last forever! It was a miracle they were made at all! Hopefully, someday, other brave souls will follow the subversive Outer Limits tradition into new territory! If you happen to be such a daring person, a good place to start is with one unique book: "Anatomy Of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction," edited by Neil Barron! As far as I'm concerned, one of the most comprehensive books ever written on the subject!
Pro Healing, Pro Courage, Pro Forgiveness, Pro Spiritual, Pro Witch, Pro Gay, Pro Paranormal!
This is, by far, the best film of 2012! Towards the end, tears were coming to my eyes! What a incredibly pleasant surprise!
I have to admit that I was concerned that ParaNorman would lead to insulting or trivializing the Wiccan/Pagan/Spiritualist/Paranormal community! But just the opposite happened! While maintaining a steady sense of humor from beginning to end ParaNorman is a many layered, very profound movie, that, quite frankly, is a masterpiece! The only movie as of August 2012 that I will purchase this year to add to my film collection!
If you are Pro Healing, Pro Courage, Pro Forgiveness, Pro Spiritual, Pro Witch, Pro Gay, and Pro Paranormal, like I am, then make sure you see this film before it leaves the theaters. Films this good don't usually last in mainstream theaters for very long. For example, the only other great film that I've seen this year, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" has been showing only on single screen in the Baltimore City & County, an area of over a million people!
Thank you Hollywood for sticking your neck out by making a movie for grown-ups, while at the same time making a film you can take the entire family to see!
A Brainless Film For Brainless Audiences!
I regret seeing Limitless! But it's a great film for disturbing violence junkies! The violence is excessive and mind-numbing. PG-13 doesn't mean very much anymore! The current movie rating system in the United States is an absolute joke and it should be abolished! Have a sex/violence activity rating system like they do on Common Sense Media! At least that would be much more honest! When stabbing out a man's eye and making him blind (he was already blind in the other eye) is PG-13, then what's next? Scraping out his eye with a spoon?
Such campy violence is a reflection of Hollywood's desire to turn movie making into a commodity like underarm deodorant and toothpaste! But at least deodorant and tooth paste serves a valuable purpose something that certainly cannot be said about a tedious piece of crap like Limitless!
The Eagle (2011)
An Enjoyable Muddled Mess!
The story and acting have heart even though the The Eagle is absolutely a ridiculous fantasy in so many different ways! But Donald Sutherland is one of my favorite actors and his performance is wonderful. To see him act one more time on the big screen was worth the price of admission! There's also an anti-war message clearly expressed at the end of the film. It's more enjoyable to have one true-blue friend than it is to kill or be part of the military. The soldiers may have honor, but the politicians that tell the military what to do certainly do not!
There's also a lot of testosterone running through The Eagle that is delightfully homoerotic! It's a pleasure to watch so many incredibly fit men show off their bodies and prowess! It's just a shame all this libido is wasted on intense violence!
Apollo 18 (2011)
Absolutely The Worst Flop of 2011! Save Your Money!
There are enjoyable bad movies that make you laugh and then there are bad movies that make you curse for wasting your hard earned money. Apollo 18 is the latter. The premise is that moon rocks are deadly aliens waiting to turn you into blood dripping guys with blood shot eyes! I guess whoever wrote the screenplay of this godforsaken movies couldn't quite make up their minds: zombies or hemorrhagic plague victims who miraculously no longer need air. Next off there is zero atmosphere on the moon. Sorry there is no life. If there was any life at one time it was sterilized by the sun's radiation billions of years ago. If there is any life, it would be microbial and it would have a hard time knocking over flags and tipping over land rovers! Next the government has sent four previous Apollo missions to the moon. By that time if something kinky is going on do you think they would send three of the most highly (and expensively) trained men on earth to certain death just to set up a bunch of monitoring cameras? Please! A simple quarantine would do! The aliens don't have factories building rocket ships! And if the moon rocks are so dangerous, what are the astronauts doing bring MORE back to earth? Duh? Sorry, tea-party fantasies aside, even the U.S. government is not that moronic.
This is a depressing and boring film that leaves you feeling empty when you leave the theater. The only reason I sat through it was because I was hoping with all my heart that something unpredictable would happen. It's never a good sign that about half through the movie you know exactly how it's going to end. I'm a sucker for science fiction but this is the last straw! I've learned my lesson and I'm going to read the reviews carefully next time!
At Least Henry Cavill (Theseus) Has Nice Muscles!
Immortals is so bad a five year old could have written a more coherent story! It's the most boring piece of war gore I have ever seen in my entire life! The violence is so tedious and predictable, Immortals borders on camp! But you do get to see psychopathic behavior in all its depraved glory! This pathetic film leaves you feeling like you have to go brush your teeth after spitting something out that tastes bad! Good job, Hollywood! The toothpaste companies of the world salute you!
Sorry, but as hot as Henry Cavill is, he's just not worth $14.00 to drool over his gorgeous muscles! That's right, a single ticket cost $14.00! Now you get ripped off by being forced to watch stinkers in 3D! And it didn't even make any difference that I could see!
What made me such a sucker to see such a lousy, rotten movie? I love fantasy as a genre. The movie trailer was fantastic. It appears there's even a scene in the trailer that was not in the movie! I like ancient Greece as a subject matter. And, I was in the mood to gawk at some hot, sweaty bodies! But now I'm so frustrated at wasting my hard earned money that the next time I have the urge to see a movie in a theater, I'm going to rent one for free from the library. It will give me great pleasure to spite Hollywood for deceiving me! A movie trailer should never be so much better than the movie it is supposed to represent!
The Avengers (2012)
About as Exciting as Watching 'Frosty The Snowman' for the Tenth Time!
Storytelling as an art? What's that? And, who cares, anyway? When Hollywood makes tons of money off of bad movies, then where's the financial incentive to make decent films? 2012 is turning out to the worst year in decades (and I have been going to the movies for over 40 years, so that's saying something) for really bad blockbusters: first, Hunger Games; next,Dark Shadows; and now The Avengers!
I am so sick and tired of New York City, specifically the island of Manhattan, being attacked in the movies. Hello! It was attacked in real life only a little over 10 years ago costing the lives of over 3,000+ real people, including my brother's co-worker, wife and unborn child! But what is really despicable is that at the very end of the The Avengers you briefly get to see a real-life news photo from 9/11 mourning the dead. That's just plain, disgusting exploitation!
But lets not stop there! At the end of the film we get to briefly hear a local New York State Senator rant about how our Avenger heroes "wrecked Manhattan." That our heroes who just risked their lives in a 1,000+ ways are to "blame" for all the destruction! Fine! I agree many politicians are real jerks, but to put the letter "D" next to this Senator's name speaks volumes about the films real message: Democrats holding elective office are nothing more than ungrateful, winy creeps! That's real cute! I thought Hollywood was sooooooo liberal! If you going to interject politics into a film then why not put a "R" after the Senator's name? After all, the Republicans in Congress fought tooth and nail to prevent the establishment of a Federally funded medical fund for First Responders whose health was permanently impaired by breathing in all the toxic waste that was released into the air!
The Avengers is also plain boring with the most two-dimensional characters in the history of film making! Sure I wanted the good guys to win! Sure the guys have cute muscles and the gals are all pretty! But, really now, who cares when there is zero character development and the storyline is about as exciting as watching Frosty The Snowman for the tenth time!
The last third of the Avengers is nothing more than war porn! I will never watch another super hero movie that has a character from The Avengers as long as I live! Even for free, or if Hollywood offers me a million dollars! Overall, Hollywood has done a decent job with the X-men and the Fanatic Four, but for some reason the right-wing kooks who control the Avenger characters have turned them into nothing more than an exploitative moneymaking machine. No wonder why Stan Lee was so happy in his cameo appearance at the end of the film! It's just too bad he and the rest of Hollywood has to stoop so low to make a buck!
The Social Network (2010)
The Youngest Billionaire In The World!
Before I review the film, I would like to mention that I do have Facebook account, and its sole purpose is to allow friends who I have lost touch with - and who live all over the United States, and the world - to find me if they want to. I also have a extremely rare ethnic last name and no one in the entire world of 6 billion+ people has the same first and last name, which makes my name unique, so I carefully guard my privacy. I have the barest of personal info on Facebook and the highest of security settings. I also spend close to zero percent of my time socializing or keeping track of people I know through Facebook or other social networking sites. Why? As the Social Network makes perfectly clear: Nothing, but nothing, takes the place of real, live people in face-to-face relationships!
After watching Social Contract it left me feeling both amazed at Mr. Zuckerberg's good instincts and his fortitude in not letting anyone hold him back and allowing himself to succeed beyond his wildest dreams - and empty - by his profound loneliness and from the persistent discord that swirled around him throughout almost the entire movie. I also found irony in the fact that Mr. Zuckerberg did not cooperate in any way with the making of Social Network because it exposed his private life to the world - but, yet, at the same time, the general public is encouraged to give him (Facebook) as much of our personal information as we can!
Social Network is interesting because you see what a person with good instincts can achieve in the real world. While I don't approve of people mistreating each other, the history of inventing anything important is full of stories like Social Network. For example, patent lawsuits are a big business, that's why we have "patent" attorneys! (I also found it so delicious that the founder of Napster, who brought the recording industry down on its knees, played a key role in providing critical good advice to Mr. Zuckerberg's success. I know how malignant the recording industry can be. None other than the legendary Nigerian drummer Baba Olatunji told me a how one the biggest record companies in the world viciously screwed him out of a lot of money!)
Social Contract is mainly about two things: Interpersonal relationships and money. As far as the "money" part of the story is concerned: Mr. Zuckerberg is now a billionaire (actually he's a MULTI-billionaire!) With that huge amount of wealth I couldn't help, but wonder, what is he doing with all that money to make the world a better place? At the same time, I kept thinking about the 18-year old gay college student who recently jumped off the George Washington bridge because someone filmed and then posted his same-sex sexual activities all over the internet. He left his suicide note on Facebook! I hope someone close to Mr. Zuckerberg's reads this review and encourages him to start spending some money on organizations that work to strengthen laws that protect a person's privacy and maybe throw a few bucks to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered (GLBT) Suicide Prevention Hotlines around the country, also. They are always struggling for money. It would be a most profound gesture, Mr. Zuckerberg!
L'affaire Farewell (2009)
A Mind-Boggling True Story!
This is a very empowering, true-story about one man, Sergei Gregoriev, who probably did more to bring down the Communist government in Russia - and end the cold war - than any other person who ever lived! This man should be honored by a postage stamp in every Western country in the world and in every high school history textbook! What an incredibly brave human being!
I gained a lot of insights from watching this amazing film. The Russians lost an estimated 26 million people during World War 2. That's 1 in 3 people that died in all of World War 2 did so within the borders of the Soviet Union! I can only imagine the trauma and paranoia that was inflicted on the survivors who later then came to power. It didn't help either that a monster was at the head of government (Stalin) from 1924 to 1953. And, you wonder why the Soviets had a such a mind-boggling intelligence apparatus established throughout the United States? Once this network of spies was dismantled, the Soviet leadership was blind! Out of fear they bankrupted themselves on military spending because they could no longer accurately assess what actual threats the United States posed to them!
Sergei Gregoriev, knew how his government would react to such a threat and he sacrificed everything to make it happen. I don't think he would be happy with the gangster capitalism that took Communism's place. But at least there are no more brutal wars fought in desperately poor countries, which have cost millions of lives because of the Cold War! Future generations will thank you for your sacrifice, Sergei Gregoriev!
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
A Same-Sex Relationship Shown With Sensitivity and Intelligence
"The Kids Are All Right" has humor, power, insight and helps to remind us what a family is really all about. It's also a cautionary tale: Passionate sex, by its self, does not automatically make for a good relationship. Strong feelings can overpower our better judgment. Being dishonest with those we love causes a lot of suffering, but it can be a forgivable offense. A long-term relationship is a big investment - emotionally, financially and spiritually and it should not be easily discarded when something substantial goes wrong. Same-sex couples can have the exact same problems opposite-sex couples do.
One other lesson one can learn from this delightful film is that filmmakers can do a decent job when the central theme of a story is about a same-sex couple. "The Kids Are All Right" proves Hollywood can make a enjoyable film about gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered people without it having to be violent, depressing or insulting! I look forward to seeing more GLBT films like this in the future!