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Blindspot (2015– )
Overuse of shaking hand-held camera
6 November 2017
Every once in a while there is a purpose to not using a tripod and adding artificial (unrealistic) extra movement to a hand-held camera. However, when the entire show appears to have been recorded by a camera operator with a palsy it becomes unbearable to watch. Seriously, I believe this unfortunate technique is used as a cover for excruciatingly slow story development. It is an attempt to create the illusion that something is happening when it isn't.
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Thurgood (2011 TV Movie)
Captivating portrait of a great American
10 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
My wife and I are not usually big fans of one-man performances so it says a lot that we were captivated from beginning to end. Laurence Fishburne is absolutely wonderful in this performance.

We learned a lot about Justice Marshall in less than two hours. Compressing such a powerful story into a short time frame requires a certain economy in presentation of the facts and this is the only flaw. At one point, Governor Earl Warren is referred to as the one that interred all of the American citizens of Japanese ancestry in California during WWII. Warren did have to carry out that order, but the order came from President Roosevelt. This play also took President Eisenhower to task for not immediately enforcing school integration. It might have been nice to expand on this. Ike was in his first term when the Supreme Court made its ruling but he waited until he was re-elected before putting the muscle of the Federal government behind integration, beginning with Little Rock Central High in 1957. I have to admit that adding these clarifying details probably would have bogged "Thurgood" down, so I still give this video a "10."
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The Take (2007)
Another potentially good film marred by camera with the shakes
12 April 2010
There is a time and a place for shaky, hand-held camera work. This irritating technique continues to be the most over-used in Hollywood. I nearly turned this film off after the first 4 minutes because I was experiencing motion sickness. And this was all while the protagonist was getting up and getting ready for work. Even when you are trying to show action as it might be seen from a live news camera I would still make a case for trying to show the action as it might be seen by the human eye -- steady and focused even when the viewer is moving. My perception is that shaky camera work is used in the same way that too much background music is used -- to compensate for mediocrity in the film itself.

I stayed with the film to the end because a lot of others felt it was a good film and John Leguizamo can be counted on for a fine performance. I thought the movie itself was only OK. Story line developed slowly and often tediously to a somewhat satisfying conclusion. I would have rated it a 5 to 6 with better camera work. I'm glad I saw the whole thing but I will never need to see it again.
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Good story done in by the director
13 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I really wanted to like this movie. After 30 minutes I switched to something else. I revisited the film a few days later and watched the rest to the end and I am glad that I did. There is a good story in here. It just takes too long to get there. I absolutely agree with those who say it should have been a good 30 minutes shorter. I would love to sit down with Spike Lee and tell him why some scenes were not necessary or how they could have been shortened. It was like sitting through a sermon in church that took twice the time necessary to make the point. At some point it becomes self-defeating. HOWEVER, what bothered me most was the portrayal of black soldiers with a contemporary attitude. How much more powerful it would have been if Lee had portrayed the soldiers as they would have behaved in 1944, having to tolerate the open racism of "superior" officers and still go about the task of fighting for their country. The black soldiers in WWII were far more heroic and stoic than Spike Lee made them out to be. This could have been a powerful movie if Lee had honored historical facts rather than his anger.
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Not like the original --- so what?
5 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The original version with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball is one of our favorites and I, for one, am glad they didn't try to remake that story with a new cast. This is really a different story built on the same premise: a widow and widower -- each with a lot of children -- fall in love, get married, and the children are suddenly part of a new and much larger family. Unlike the original, the children don't get a chance to see this coming before it happens. The animosity is instantaneous, particularly since the Beardsley children are used to structure and organization in their lives whereas the North children have been very free and loose. The bonding of familial friendships between the children comes through their common purpose -- to destroy the relationship between their parents. There is something very profound about seeing two enemy groups come together for a common goal only to discover that they don't hate each other at all. A lot of the slapstick is over the top, but it is an entertaining 90 minutes with a message that will never grow old. I am glad to have both versions in my library.
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Actually quite good, despite dysfunctional IMDb rating
24 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I saw that nearly half of the voters gave this film a "1" and smelled a big rat. I finally saw this film myself for the first time on DVD and the experience confirmed by suspicions that IMDb ratings are becoming dysfunctional and cannot be trusted.

HS Musical 3 has superb dancing and choreography--clearly the best of the series. Songs were well crafted, if not always well sung, and the movie is well-paced. These qualities alone tell you that those who voted "1" need to get a grip on reality. The vote reeks of a concerted effort to stuff the ballot box. (Perhaps the work of the "I hate Zac Efron Club.") In any case, those who voted "10" or "1" have done a disservice to IMDb users.

The plot is much the same as the first two films in the series and all revolves around who will end up singing the duet with Troy in the musical. You have definitely seen this all before, but this version is really fun to watch. It is clean fun. No foul language. No drinking. No sex. No sophomoric humor. Perhaps that's why so many voted so low: it is wholesome. If you don't like this sort of G rated entertainment then by all means don't watch it. However, as G rated musicals go this one is a very entertaining experience.
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Much better than a "1" but certainly no "10"
9 February 2009
Any spoof with strong production values deserves some credit for effort and "Meet the Spartans" gets high marks for set designs and costumes. Actors perform their material well. There are a number of funny bits in this film, but it falls short of ranking as a great spoof. The primary reason is it strayed too frequently from the genre represented by "300." Think of a great spoof, like "Airplane." It had great bits taken from the Airport series of films as well as the classic from the 50's, "The High and the Mighty." Meet the Spartans might have turned out better if they had stuck to "300" and films like "Alexander," "Troy," and others of the genre. Instead, they branched out in all directions including TV shows and personalities. In the final analysis, they only had enough good material for a skit on Saturday Night Live. The rest was filler. Not a total waste of time (as implied by the 55% voting "1") but not great either.
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First Sunday (2008)
Entertaining comedy, IMDb ratings bigots notwithstanding
12 December 2008
It is not often that I use the word "bigot" but I just saw this movie and when I saw that over 36% of IMDb voters gave it a "1", bigotry came to mind. With another 16% giving it a "10" that means that over half of the people rating this film have done a disservice to the IMDb community. Any rational viewer will see that this film is neither a "1" nor a "10." There are many funny bits in this film and it does have a certain poignancy as it makes its way through the story of an inept attempt to rob a church.

Is it a great movie? N0. Is it a terrible waste of time? Absolutely not. It is light-hearted entertainment with some serious twists. It is worth seeing.

Open message to IMDb: how about not counting a user's vote unless they also leave comments to support their vote? Perhaps then we would get more meaningful ratings.
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A good remake might have been fun; this is pretty poor
27 May 2008
I have learned, over the years, that whenever a movie or TV show has a an overwhelming amount of background music then it is usually trying to disguise something that isn't working. That is the first tip-off that this version of Andromeda Strain is of poor quality. Thank goodness for Close-Captions, since much of the dialogue was covered by music. As a science-fiction thriller, Andromeda Strain could have benefited from the advances in our knowledge over the last 37 years since the original movie. This retelling does, indeed, offer a version that has some good updates and that is the only reason I am rating it as high as a 4. I found it a tremendous struggle to stay with this production which, ultimately, is bloated and mediocre.
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Few redeeming qualities
6 February 2008
I was able to view this version and the 1949 version on the same day, thanks to TCM on satellite. This remake is nearly 18 minutes longer and seems to have much less of the story. Sean Penn simply is not believable as a back-country hick with the charisma to become governor. Broderick Crawford had it perfect in the original version, but then he did get an Oscar. Perhaps it was editing, but this version simply seemed disjointed and incomplete compared to the 1949 version. The best I can say about the remake is that, unlike the original, it did not try to pass off California as Louisiana. (Being a native Californian who lived in the Deep South for four years, I know the difference.)
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Zoom (2006)
Low expectations yield high returns
26 October 2007
I have just viewed this film for the first time. I made the mistake of avoiding it in the past because of the low rating by IMDb members. It certainly does not rate a "10" but "1" is just as ludicrous. For fans of the superhero/fantasy genre, this film is entertaining. Lots of good special effects and lots of fun. Sure, there are clichés, but then that is generally expected in this genre. Perhaps I enjoyed it more because the "3" rating on IMDb caused me to have such low expectations. It is clearly a better film than the rating implies, and nearly 2000 IMDb members have done a disservice with their votes of 10 or 1. It's not quite up to "Sky High" but it was a lot of fun.
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Tremendous story
24 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The pre-broadcast publicity for this film eliminated the drama of how the story ends. It is a true story of a man forgiving the teenage boy whose street racing caused the death of his wife and daughter. The beauty is in watching the story unfold. Dean Cain is perfectly cast as the father Bruce, so caught up in his own grief, anger and frustration that he fails to address the needs of his grieving sons. Bruce has to go to extraordinary lengths to pursue justice and then, when justice is at hand, he finds that forgiveness is what is needed. This much I knew before ever seeing this film. Landon Liboiron and Ryan Kennedy are excellent as the sons Brody and Josh. Kudos to Shiloh Fernandez as Justin, the boy responsible for the fatal accident. For us to understand the resolution of this story, we have to believe that Justin's life was shattered just as surely as the lives of Bruce and his sons, and that his remorse is genuine. Shiloh's performance was right on the mark. The entire film is beautifully cast and performed. The story is heart-wrenching and heart warming. I highly recommend it.
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Annapolis (2006)
Might have worked as a comic parody
10 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I knew we were in for trouble when the James Franco character tried to hit on an attractive woman in a bar the night before his induction into the Academy only to discover the next day that she was from the Academy herself and would be instructing/supervising him. The film then segued from "Top Gun" to "An Officer and a Gentleman" with a nod to "School Ties" and several other films if you want to stretch connections far enough. When done deliberately as a comic send-up this ploy can be enjoyable. Here it just reeks from lacking imagination or originality.

Having never visited Annapolis myself I wasn't bothered by the absence of on-location integrity until the final scene. I once spent over a week living at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich (England) and I immediately recognized the Christopher Wren buildings and the Thames River. (The warship in the background is courtesy of special effects.) The chuckle at having Greenwich fill in for Annopolis is almost worth watching the movie again.

I am giving the movie a 5 because there are some good performances by the cast. It is a pity that the story was unoriginal and uninspired.
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Tremendous film if you are not in a hurry.
21 February 2005
I think it says a lot that the lower scores for this film come from the younger voters. Is it the impatience of youth? Is it the shortening attention span that seems to be permeating our society? I will admit to being 45+ in age, but I can tend to be impatient myself and I can have trouble sitting still -- much like the Annie McLean character in this story. Knowing myself, it says a lot that I was captivated for the nearly 3 hours it takes for this film to tell the story. I can't think of where cuts would be made, for all of the various ingredients were important to the story. A telling quote from Robert Redford's character to Annie -- "As long as you are here (Montana) I thought maybe you could relax into it." If you want a beautiful story, acted and photographed beautifully, and are willing to "relax into it" you will enjoy this experience.
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The Day Reagan Was Shot (2001 TV Movie)
Politics aside, this is a gripping drama
5 February 2005
It is clear that the low score average indicates that far too many votes were not on the film but on Reagan himself. This is an excellent film and a keeper in my library.

I remember this day and this incident vividly. Who could forget the obviously shaken Al Haig telling the country that he was "in control" in the White House while Vice-President Bush was still in the air. This is the story behind the story: the chaos and panic that can set in when a President is shot. There is a theme in this real-life incident that was touched upon in television's "The West Wing" when "President Bartlett" was shot: when your first priority is to get medical assistance for an injured President, there can be oversights in procedure. And there were oversights when Reagan was shot.

Richard Crenna does a wonderful job as Reagan, far superior to James Brolin's wooden caricature in "The Reagans." Richard Dreyfuss as Al Haig was brilliant. There is poignancy in the anxiety of the surgeon who "didn't even vote for the guy" and has to be reassured that he should treat Reagan like any other senior citizen in similar condition.

The rest of the cast was top notch as well. I really enjoyed this film, but then I love history and I love stories that tell us what really happened. I wonder if I will live long enough to find out what really happened the day JFK was shot.
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Incredible story
3 September 2004
We just watched this on satellite and were absorbed with this remarkable tale. Australian Jesse Martin sets out at the age of 17 to become the youngest person to sail around the world unassisted. This short documentary features actual video taken by Jesse as well as interviews spliced in at appropriate times to draw the story together. Jesse showed uncommon poise and wisdom in tackling this journey, but it was not a cake-walk. Jesse had email and a satellite phone to keep in contact. Imagine what it was like when he lost power and communications for three days. There are moments of great beauty (dolphins, whales, Cape Horn, etc.), tedium (no wind), and humor (Jesse playing the guitar and singing, sounding a lot like Tim Robbins in "Bull Durham"). There are plenty of moments that show the power of the ocean and the challenge of sailing around the world alone in a small boat. There is also a gut-wrenching scene when he was being battered severely by storms, enduring several knock-downs, becoming completely soaked, cold and shivering uncontrollably. It was clear that Jesse knew he was facing death and he has a complete break-down caught by the camera on the boat. It is an unforgettable moment. It made his triumphal return to Australia, greeted by 25,000 people, all the sweeter.

This is a very inspirational story. Highly recommended.
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Timeline (2003)
Good, but not great.
1 May 2004
I just finished reading Timeline this week and saw the film on DVD right afterward. It is almost like experiencing two very different stories with a similar foundation. Having read so many negative comments on the film, I expected to hate it but actually enjoyed it. The enjoyment, however, came because I had the background knowledge of the book and all of the missing pieces.

I suppose that the book could only have been portrayed in a 6 hour mini-series if justice were to be done and I anticipated some streamlining. But they left out too much of the good stuff. Timeline is an entertaining and informative novel but the film focused on the action/entertainment and let Michael Crichton's research fall by the wayside. Perhaps the producers feared it would be too erudite for the common movie fan unless they thinned it down to the marketable nitty-gritty. In the book, Claire was a very complex and unpredictable woman. In the film, the script made her one-dimensional. Missing, too, were the challenges of language which could have added so much to the film. And I really missed Chris and Marek in the jousting tournament. I could go on but the bottom line is that had the film worked in another 30 minutes of material instead of focusing on the action it might have been an excellent work. As it is, it stands as a monument to Hollywood's tradition of underestimating the intelligence and needs of the audience. Don't shy away from seeing the film but, by all means, READ THE BOOK!!!!! They are two very different experiences.
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The Reagans (2003 TV Movie)
Mediocre caricatures
10 December 2003
James Brolin has a few flashes of capturing a Reagan pose just right, but simply does not come close to the real man. Richard Crenna was far superior in "The Day Reagan Was Shot." The re-creation of the Reagan-Carter debate missed the mark with both Reagan and Carter. The actors had little of the personality and spark of the originals. I remember President Carter laughing with the audience when Reagan quipped his famous "There you go again." In this dramatization, he simply glared. In that regard, I would say that the mediocrity is unbiased. Judy Davis' portrayal of Nancy is simply weird, almost as if it was "Nancy as she might have been played by Judy Garland."

The film is not unwatchable, but anyone too young to remember the actual people being portrayed should take it all with a grain of salt and find additional sources of history.
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Great fun
13 March 2003
A strangely enjoyable effort, combining an appropriately far-fetched plot involving Adam and Burt and flashbacks to the original TV series. Most of the flashback scenes were lifted directly from Burt Ward's book "Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights" and I imagine his book was the inspiration for making this movie. Like the book, it left fans of the original series hungering for more.

If you missed this broadcast, it is definitely worth the effort to borrow a tape from a friend who may have recorded it. I'm making a copy for my kids right now.
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Spider-Man (2002)
Fantastic film, marred only by mediocre music
9 May 2002
This is easily the best comic transfer to film since Superman. Tobey McGuire is brilliantly cast in the lead and his acting skills are a joy to behold. Kirstin Dunst is a remarkable young talent and makes it clear she is an actress we will see a lot of in the future. The acting, the script, and the special effects are all top notch. I was bothered only by the incredibly disappointing music. A film like this deserved much more than an uninspired collection of clichés performed on a synthesizer. Had they not cut corners with the music score, I would have rated the movie a 10. Let's hope they go first rate with the sequels.
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Summer Catch (2001)
Don't let the grumps scare you away
30 January 2002
This is not a great film in the tradition of Bull Durham, but it will provide some good laughs and a pleasant diversion. I have seen films that were, in fact, a colossal waste of time and Summer Catch isn't close to being in that crowd. Is there anything really new? No. You have seen variations on this theme and plot before. So what? The leads and supporting cast are fun to watch, even if Freddie Prinze Jr. doesn't come close to looking like a professional pitcher. Couldn't believe one reviewer referring to Brian Dennehy and Jason Gedrick as has-been actors. That alone caused me to question the objectivity of the rest of the review. Go ahead and rent it. My wife and I both enjoyed it.
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Teenage Caveman (2002 TV Movie)
Not worth your time
4 January 2002
Anyone who has seen Kevin Costner in "Malibu Hot Summer" knows that even big stars make regrettable decisions early in their careers. Andrew Keegan is known to our family most of all for his appearances on "7th Heaven" -- a very wholesome and enjoyable TV show. He acquitted himself well in "Broken Hearts Club" and is worthy of participation in quality ventures. Why, then, would he be a part of something like "Teenage Caveman?" Maybe he had some bills to pay. Maybe it looked better on paper than it came out on film. Who knows? If your interests run to weird and kinky violence and sex, you will probably enjoy watching this while you fold laundry. If this had been a video rental, I would have demanded my money back as I did 10 years ago with "Malibu Hot Summer." I hope Andrew Keegan makes better decisions in the future.
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Moulin Rouge! (2001)
A 2-hour music video (not meant as a compliment)
21 June 2001
I love movies and I love good music and dancing. Unfortunately, my experience with Moulin Rouge was marred by the director and film editor. Flashing through different camera angles second by second in a herky-jerky fashion may work well for a short music video on MTV, but it had me feeling nauseous before this movie was half over. Not even Blair Witch Project gave me motion sickness like this. I would like to have seen the dancing with at least 5 seconds per camera angle because a lot of it looked like it may have been wonderful. The singing and the story were great, enjoyed all the more when I closed my eyes to settle my stomach. Kind of defeats the purpose of going to a movie theater.
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Pearl Harbor (2001)
A very good film that might have been great.
12 June 2001
Even before "Pearl Harbor" was released, I knew that it was more of a love story than a WWII Docu-drama, so I was not disappointed when I saw it. The film "Tora, Tora, Tora" still stands as the definitive telling of the historical tale, but "Pearl Harbor" managed to add more of the human side of the event. I'm not talking about the love triangle, but the people in general who were caught up in the attack, particularly in the hospital which had been so quiet (and empty) on December 6. The historical inaccuracies were minor and I'm not sure why the need was felt to take poetic license, but the fundamentals are correct. With a bit more thought and care this might have been a great film, but it is still worth a trip to the theater.
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A pleasant, though not new, entertainment
19 May 2001
The synopsis in the TV Guide made it clear that this would be a variant of "You've got mail." Samantha and Jack are new neighbors in an apartment building and they quickly begin to annoy each other (without seeing each other). By the time they first set eyes on each other, they are enemies and you are wondering how they can possibly reverse this relationship when they discover that they are online soul-mates. It's not a new story, but it was an entertaining diversion on a lazy afternoon. Tia Carrere is fine as Samantha and David Charvet as Jack shows us that he is capable of more than looking good on the beach.
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