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War of the Worlds (2005)
Be careful what you wish for...
One of the commonest complaints about sci-fi movies is that there is too much reliance on special effects and not enough character development. In this movie, the sci-fi story is just background noise to one of the planet's most dysfunctional families. Cruise's character is a clueless jerk and his kids are obnoxious. Every time that little girl screamed or decided to be a pain in the butt at the worst possible times, I was hoping that the death ray would get her - or at least that someone would stuff a sock in her mouth. When the son is determined to go off and fight the aliens, all I could think was, "Great, 1 down, 2 to go, and now maybe the real story (of a war between the worlds) will begin." It's usually a big mistake to make your main characters and hero totally unlikeable and lacking in charm - I didn't care if they were all pureed into alien V-8 juice. This could have been a great movie if it had used the title as its storyline. As it is, it should have been called, "Father Doesn't Know Best, His Kids Think They Do And They Never Let Him Forget It."
Like a Disney movie gone wrong
There was something a little too shallow and bubbly about this; it reminded me of a Disney movie trying desperately NOT to be a Disney movie. It should have been a great adventure but instead it comes off as a kiddie movie with gore and violence. A major problem were the characters themselves: most of the main characters were annoying and irritating and definitely charisma-less. In particular, one of the lead female characters (Kate the archeology student) comes off as such a strident and shrill pain-in-the-butt that I had high hopes of her meeting an early demise. If I had been there and it was up to me, instead of catching her, I would have given her a little shove off that thatched roof - ooops! Another annoying character, who seemed essential to the group, was surprisingly disposed of early on and all I can say is, "Merci beaucoup!" As for the other problems with plot holes, etc., such as that the English and French that was spoken at the time would probably not have been intelligible to a modern speaker of those languages...well, so what? You have to suspend logic in the first place to accept the main premise of the movie (time travel). To sum up, not the worst movie I've ever seen but I wouldn't recommend it either.
They Are Among Us (2004)
Clean the bathroom instead of watching this
I am very tolerant of really bad sci/fi and horror movies - I've been watching them since I was 4 or 5, so I've seen some really bad stuff, but I deal with it. I've even watched a lot of SciFi Channel movies so I know not to expect much - a usually promising movie that has no ending to speak of. Hope springs eternal, I guess - or the triumph of hope over experience, as they say. Unfortunately, this is a dog right from the beginning and I knew it, but like a moth to the flame, I kept thinking something, anything, interesting would happen. It doesn't. All of the actors give a decent performance - given the script, I don't know how they all kept straight faces. It has something to do with collagen-starved worm parasite creatures who are slowly taking over the human race, one body at a time. There's an evil plastic surgeon who collaborates with the enemy by giving them the outward appearance of humans...don't worry, he gets what's coming to him. The slug people themselves don't really know where they came from, they think they might have thumbed a ride on a meteor that landed on earth, but...somehow they know about the members of slug royalty among them - the slug princess has managed to breed with a human being who knows that she's the worm queen and loves her for her self...oh, must I go on? Please, I implore you, do not waste 2 hours of your life watching this...anything would be better...think of the worst, least enjoyable way you can spend two hours...it would be better than this.
As the Stomach Turns
This has to be someone's nightmare version of a family reunion. What an ugly, repulsive bunch of human beings - and it's all daddy's fault!!! While I give credit to the actors, this just isn't my idea of entertainment. I'm a big DALLAS fan so I can certainly enjoy a classic dysfunctional family setting, but this was just sordid and nasty. I felt queasy at the end and was glad it was over. I also feel the beauty of Iceland was fleeting at best - instead we see the suffocating house scenes, the inside of the fishery, and the local pub with assorted barflies acting like barflies everywhere. And did I mention the bored sullen spoiled teenagers - apparently a universal affliction wherever you may go. These people are what remains of the mighty Viking race - Thor should put them all out of their misery with his mighty hammer!
Rang-e khoda (1999)
A sad enigmatic film...
This is a sad little film that disturbed me and left me thinking about it for hours afterward. At first it seems like a simple tale of a selfish father who wants to be rid of his young blind son who is perceived to be a barrier to the father's future happiness. However, after one scene where the father explains his feelings of anguish at the hand that life has dealt him, it's easier to see his point of view, and his side of the story. He loves his children, we see that when he returns home one night and checks on his two sleeping daughters, lovingly adjusting the blankets around them. Western viewers have to keep in mind that social safety nets for the poor and elderly do not exist in all countries. In the Iranian culture, an elderly parent will eventually become dependent on the sons of the families - and clearly the father here knows that there is little hope of his blind son ever being independent and self-supporting, let alone able to support the father when the time comes. He tells himself he is doing the best thing for his son by apprenticing him to a blind carpenter far from home, but even the grandmother says this is a self-serving gesture. It's probably a little of both. The little boy's own grief at being abandoned and unloved by all, even his granny (so it seemed to him), is heartbreaking. All in all, although beautifully filmed in the surprisingly (to me) lovely countryside of Iran, this is something of a downer movie, maybe even a tearjerker. The finale is somewhat ambiguous and the viewer can imagine whatever longterm ending s/he prefers.
Time Under Fire (1997)
Takes Place after a War with Iraq!
Drab, dreary and a total waste of my time. The plot is incomprehensible (so don't think about it too much). The acting is odd and wooden - I would have sworn that they were all professional body builders trying their luck at acting, but that might be an insult to body builders. There are no interesting special effects to redeem this disaster, but lots of fires, explosions, a gratuitous sex scene, etc. The only thing that caught my attention was that it takes place after a war between the US and Iraq that somehow goes nuclear...hmmm. Is Roger Corman psychic? Let's hope that "Iraq" was just a lucky choice for Corman and that the rest of his scenario doesn't come true.
Bad vehicle for a poignant story
This story of yet another small child, abused and battered to the point of death, is heartbreaking and poignant. Unfortunately, the actors and the movie itself just aren't up to the task. Almost everyone seemed like an amateur acting in a high school production, reading their lines in strangely stilted tones. Beverly D'Angelo's portrayal of the birth mother was so shockingly off-balance that I began to wonder why I never noticed what a poor actress she is. When trying to enlist the help of a reporter to investigate the possible murder of her son many years earlier, she reverts to flirting and teasing. When he asks her who the murder victim was, she answers with a big smile, bright eyes (still flirting) and a strangely triumphant grin on her face, "My son!" It was grotesque and repulsive. Initially the assistant D.A. who is going to prosecute the case is hostile and unsympathetic to the birth mother - the next thing you know, the A.D.A is trying to convince the victim's surviving brother to be a witness for the prosecution because she (the A.D.A) was "adopted too" blah, blah. We are never told or shown how this turn of heart came about. Eh...why go on, it's a heartbreaker but the acting was so bizarre and annoying it's almost unbearable to watch.
Ghosts of Mars (2001)
"The Angry Red Planet" Meets "Night of the Living Dead"
John Carpenter explained in an interview that the Native Martians were not technologically advanced, but they had developed magic and the supernatural. As the last ones died out, they put a curse on the planet to prevent anyone else from ever living there again. Like someone breaking into King Tut's tomb, an accidental break-in to a Martian mass mausoleum by some miners unleashes the Martian curse. And the rest of the movie is what you'd expect: Earth colonists fighting off the angry spirits of the long-dead Martians. As one character says, "This is about dominion - it's not their planet anymore..." I think my one line summary above rather cleverly says it all.
Hell Drivers (1957)
"I am No. 1"
As a long time "The Prisoner" and McGoohan fan, my mouth dropped open when the theme of "Who is No. 1?" popped up in this movie. At some point, McGoohan as "Red" even says, "I am No. 1..." Talk about recycling an idea! The most interesting thing about this movie may be the cast of actors - 3 of the most famous fictional spies of the 1960's (Connery, McGoohan and McCallum - and Connery is almost unrecognizable with that shock of bushy black hair); Jill Ireland as a brunette, barely 21 when this movie was made; Gordon Jackson, known best in the US for his role as Mr. Hudson, the quintessential British butler in "Upstairs, Downstairs." Great for the curiosity value, if nothing else.
Planet of the Apes (2001)
At some point, while watching the hordes of marching soldier apes as they rocked side to side like Stevie Wonder on speed, I had a sudden cinematic flashback - yes, I had seen this before: the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz! Slow paced (it's a thin story, so the plot had to be squeezed out for all it was worth like the last tube of toothpaste on a deserted island) and mundane, I started wondering when something was actually going to happen. Nothing ever happens, not even an ending. Ok, there was an ending, but it wasn't like finding the Statue of Liberty buried in the sand... Skip this and watch reruns of FARSCAPE on the telly - far more entertaining. And why *is* Mark Wahlberg a movie star, anyway? The chimp astronaut had more charisma than Markie Mark.
Ocean's Eleven (1960)
Like others, I decided to see this because of the hoopla for the 2001 remake. What a waste of time, but fortunately, I cut my losses after the first hour and started switching back and forth between the movie and war coverage on the news channels. I didn't miss anything. The pace was about as fast as frozen fudge dripping off an ice cream sundae: slug-like, in other words. Maybe 40 years ago, a story about a bunch of ne'er-do-well World War II vets was still relevant, but now the characters just seem like a bunch of boring losers. Presumably, whatever appeal this movie ever had was because of the novelty of the Ratpack celeb cast. Nowadays Ocean's 11 might serve as a curiosity piece showcasing the things Hollywood used to be able to say and portray in movies without a second thought: Chinese and blacks portrayed as stereotypical servants and servers (even Sammy does a Stepin Fetchit turn), women portrayed as occasionally necessary but mostly resented accessories (did the Taliban get their ideas on how to treat women from this movie????). And how annoying was Akim Tamiroff in his role? Skip this piece of dreck - spend the time cleaning out your refrigerator or something - at least the fridge will live up to its "cool" reputation.
Stylish ambiance with over the top gore..
Having heard so many negative comments about the gore in this movie, I was surprised at the stylish ambiance, elegant settings, witty dialog and beautiful sound track - they contrasted well with the horror of the story. There's an interesting subplot of the avaricious Italian policeman trying to collect the reward money so he can keep his beautiful young wife happy (she'd like better seats at the opera next time, thank you very much!) The gore really is pretty much over the top but if you watch TV shows that show actual hospital operations, you can probably handle it. The ending was a surprise in many ways and reveals Lector's apparent feelings toward Clarice Starling, a true FBI "Untouchable." As for the final scene, don't parents tell kids not to talk to strangers (and strange people) anymore? Fast paced and outrageous, let it stand on its own without comparison to the original.
The Lost World (1925)
At least as good as the 1950's Godzilla movies
I'm not a fan of silent movies - that said, the restored version I saw was decent. The dinosaurs were at least as realistic if not more than the Japanese monster movies of the 1950s and 60s. In fact, the close ups of the dino eyes in Lost World looked *exactly* like the eyes of Godzilla, Mothra, et al. I find the silent movie format tiresome but this was great to see as a curiosity piece. The audiences of 1925 must have been thrilled to see dinosaurs come alive on the screen like this.
Chicken Run (2000)
If you laugh at Roadrunner cartoons, this is for you!
I fell asleep (sitting up in a chair) in the middle of it. It's cute, I suppose, but there weren't any laughs as far as I could tell (maybe 2 or 3 mild chuckles). And yes, I did get the "in-jokes." There's one hatchet scene were a hen who didn't produce any eggs is executed (they actually only show the axe rising, not falling). It's no "There's Something About Mary," let's put it that way. If you like kiddie cartoons like Tom & Jerry and laugh at them, you'll like Chicken Run. By the way, someone here posted a protest against the anti-American sentiment expressed in one character's observation, "Americans: overpaid, over-sexed and over HERE!" Well, that comment was made over 50 years ago in Britain during World War II when Americans were stationed there. Another "in-joke," see?
What Lies Beneath (2000)
A sturdy thriller
A well-done mystery with paranormal elements - or are they paranormal? Several well-done red-herrings will make you change your mind about who did what to whom at several points throughout the movie. Is the main character really seeing ghosts, or are they just hallucinations caused by the herbal tea given by a well-meaning New Age friend? Is she on to someone else's crime, or is she finally remembering her own actions before a horrific car accident wiped out some of her memories? This is an entertaining sturdy thriller worth the 2 hours of your time.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
A putrid mess that resembled some kind of cross between Star Trek, Star Wars, Planet of the Apes and Braveheart (including the blue facepaint and braids). I wanted to turn it off but I paid $3.99 on pay-per-view so I felt bound to watch it to its pathetic end. The story is based on an L. Ron Hubbard novel and stars John Travolta - that should tell you something. If you force me to say something nice, I'll admit that the gore was non-existent, despite numerous limbs being blown off - most of the shootings take place off camera and the aliens apparently don't bleed. There was no sex to speak of except for a little, ok a lot, of tongue being shown - so it's a fine family film if anyone can manage to stay awake. Even so, if I could have rated this less than "1" I would have. Blech.
The Exorcist (1973)
Still One of the Best
When I first saw this I was a high school student. I went with my friend Linda and we laughed our heads off through the whole thing (such camp!). Then I went home, went to bed, turned the lights off and...YIKES!...after about 30 seconds that light came right back on and stayed on for the rest of the week. Although I *thought* I no longer believed in the boogey man, I soon found out I wasn't quite as sophisticated as I thought. Since then, I've watched THE EXORCIST many times - it's still a well made movie. It's a mistake to think this is simply a horror movie - it's a story about guilt, regret, courage, fear, loss of faith, maintaining faith when faced with God's inscrutable plan, etc. Some interesting notes: some of the priests in the movie were in fact played by real-life priests; and Max von Sydow was only about 44 when he played Fr. Merrin, just 4 years older than actress Ellen Burstyn who played Regan's mother. Also, The Exorcist was based on an actual incident that occurred in about 1948, but the characters and place settings were changed completely. A made-for-TV movie that followed the actual events more closely (it was a boy, not a girl, who was possessed) recently aired. Just one minor nitpick: why was Fr. Karras a Catholic priest with an obvious Greek background when Greeks are virtually all of the Greek Orthodox religion? BTW, Mercedes McCambridge is an American actress, not British has one poster has commented here.
The Perfect Storm (2000)
Not a novel
Having survived (barely, on land) the "No Name Storm" of 1991 on the coast of New England, I assure you this was a true story (I'm mentioning this for the New Zealand poster who said it was adapted from a novel and others who may not realize it really was a *true* story). Obviously, we can't know what was actually said or done once the Andrea Gail lost radio contact (and isn't that true of any movie based on "historical fact" - we can only surmise the actual dialog and conversations that may have taken place). However, the characters were based on the actual crew members and the Coast Guard did have to ditch one helicopter during the storm - from a story I read in People magazine, I'd say the portrayal of the Coast Guard's actions were accurate. I can't say I liked this movie - perhaps remembering the terror of that night (I lived in a seaside town and the ocean had come over the seawall and was filling up streets 3 and 4 blocks in from the beach) makes it difficult for me to watch this movie as entertainment. In answer to one post here, Clooney said that the Boston accent is one of the most difficult and he didn't even want to attempt it - Markie Mark is from Boston so it wasn't a stretch for him. The special effects are phenomenal of course...I just wish it had a different ending. By the way, the statue of the fisherman at the ship wheel shown at the beginning of the movie is an actual Gloucester landmark (and you can see it on Gorton frozen seafood products which come from Gloucester) - the legend on the base of the monument says, "Those that go down to the sea in ships..."
Pitch Black (2000)
Loved it, hated them
This was a fine movie - like a "Survivors" [TV show] in outer space. But the characters were drawn so realistically (as in realistically flawed and annoying and too stupid to live), that I was rooting for the native fauna almost immediately. For my taste, Riddick the Convict was the only likeable character. Minor complaints about the technical discrepancies: will we still be wearing eye spectacles (like the milquetoast antique dealer) or using heavy iron chains to hold doors closed and keep convicts hobbled in an age of space travel, space mining and space colonization? I don't *think* so. On the whole, this movie was something a little different with fast pacing and interesting visuals - the ringed planet arising on the horizon was spectacular.
Mind-numbingly predictable...and highly unlikely
They tossed in every cliche you can think of and then some. The only thing I would like to know is how many pipes can burst, how many rivets can pop out of the walls, how many fires down below can one sub have before it finally sinks? And American movies are so careless about historical details - an Afro-American calling himself "black" in the 1940s? Negro, or colored maybe. And the narrow little ties? A forgettable movie all around.
On the Beach (2000)
A remake that is far superior to the original
The original version of ON THE BEACH has always been one of my favorite movies and I was very sceptical when I heard there was a remake, a TV version at that. In fact, the new version was so superior to the original that it took my breath away. All of the updates (like adding email and electronic broadcasting) were perfect. Also, all of the Australian characters were played by Australians (even as a kid I wondered why all the Australian characters in the original had American accents!) - except for Rachel Ward who's British but close enough. The casting was brilliant except for Armand Assante as the Sub Commander (not to mention him being about 4 inches shorter than his love interest, Rachel Ward). This role called for a Harrison Ford, or (young) Robert Mitchum or Gregory Peck type - it was the only sour note for me in the whole movie. I also don't think as many people would opt out they way they did - I think most of us will hang on to life until the bitter end - just as most terminally ill people do.