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13 Hours (2016)
I'm pretty sure this was an excellent movie
23 January 2016
The soundtrack and the dialog sounded great. At least the part that I heard did. However, it's filmed with shaky-cam and as a result, I had to leave the movie halfway through because I was getting so motion sick that I was about to barf. This is why I only gave it 7 stars instead of 10. Movies like this need a warning. I'm really tired of wasting big bucks on a ticket for a show I can't watch.

Having said that - what I was able to sit through was outstanding. Good acting, good dialog, and great attention to detail. And it really makes you ask: who was responsible for hanging those people out to dry and getting Ambassador Stevens killed? And why is that person not in prison today?
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Waste of time
14 February 2015
It's Valentine's Day. SWMBO wanted to watch a chick flick, so she found this one about love lost and regained. Supposedly.

It started bad and went downhill. I sat through it for her sake, but that is 123 minutes of my life totally wasted that I will never get back.

Lord, this movie was terrible. Bad acting, no coherent storyline. The only saving grace is the far too brief appearance of Nina Arianda in a short skirt. Jessica Chastain looks like she is fighting anorexia and losing. James McAvoy has no acting talent that I can see.

Overall, this movie was a waste of film stock.
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Love Never Dies (II) (2012)
Two hours wasted out of my life
17 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This movie flat out sucks pondwater. There are so many things wrong with it, I really don't know where to begin.

Spoilers below-----------------

Christine had a kid with the Phantom? Really? Especially after they very specifically said in POTO that the Phantom was impotent.

Meg kills Christine? Good grief.

Raoul is a drunk who abandons Christine? Kinda doesn't fit with the opening of POTO, does it?

I don't know what Webber was thinking when he penned this pile of muck, but he should be ashamed of himself.
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Foyle's War (2002–2015)
Outstanding writing!
21 December 2013
A very good whodunnit!

Excellent acting, but the thing that impresses me the most is the quality of the writing. Every episode, my wife and I try to figure out who's gonna get whacked and who will do the whacking within the first five minutes. More than half the time, we'll get one or the other. Rarely do we get both. The rest of the time, we get pitched a very clever curve ball or two that totally makes us facepalm ourselves when the good Inspector lowers the boom on the bad guy(s).

I wish there were more episodes. This is a very high quality show, one of the few quality shows made lately.
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Thumbs-down on shaky-cam
23 April 2012
Directors who film using shaky-cam should be taken out and publicly horsewhipped. There is a reason steady-cam was invented, you morons!!

I would have given this movie a 10 if it weren't for the fact that I couldn't watch half of it. I had to look at the back of the seat in front of me during the shaky-cam scenes, and of course, those were the best ones. As far as I could tell from what I could watch and from the dialog, the movie is quite true to the novel and the acting is very good. The scenery is quite lovely, as well - turns out it was shot in North Carolina, which means that's Appalachian country.

Did I mention the director should be flogged for using shaky-cam?
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Great movie
2 July 2010
Well, I seem to be one of the few lone voices crying in the wilderness here. I like the movie - a lot! I wasn't familiar with the Airbender story until recently, when everyone started talking about the new movie, so I had no expectations going into it. Yes, I understand that some changes were made, much like Peter Jackson did with The Lord of The Rings, but we went to see a special showing and all the kids that were familiar with the stories said the changes weren't anything terrible and they absolutely LOVED the show.

Most of the kvetching I've read has revolved around that. Deal with it, people. This was a fun, exciting movie and I am looking forward to the next installation of the series.
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Star Trek (2009)
This movie reeked. Save your money and don't go.
9 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a Trekker. This franchise has been around for 40+ years and has been very successful until now. This movie flushed the whole thing down the toilet.

I'll give credit - they did a great job of finding people that look like younger versions of Kirk, Spock, McCoy et al. And there are some funny lines.

But for the love of Pete....

Vulcan is destroyed? Spock is shagging Uhuru? Gimme a break, already. You just don't jump in and rewrite canon on a series like this. It might have worked once they announced the time travel thing, if they had "reset" the universe at the end of the movie. But they didn't.

Do you feel that rumbling noise under your feet? That's Gene Roddenberry turning over in his grave over what has been done to Star Trek. He's up to about 200 rpm, feels like.
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A good adaptation
4 April 2009
Tommy Lee Jones is pretty much the mental image I have had for Dave Robicheaux ever since I started reading Burke's novels.

SWMBO and I were in New Iberia about two months ago, and it was interesting to see places in the movie I had just been. The trip itself really did wonders for filling the blanks in my imagination, so the movie was a "two-fer", so to speak.

The only thing that this movie really needed was for Tommy Lee to do a good Cajun accent.

Apart from that, it's a good adaptation of the novel. The scenes that were cut, for the most part, did not hinder the flow of the movie and Tommy Lee brings Dave to life in a very nice way.
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I would really have liked to watch this movie
13 September 2007
Great cast, based on a great story. Good action, good martial arts, lots of suspense. Sounds like a winner. I got up and walked out after about 15 minutes.

Why? The idiot director filmed the movie hand-held instead of steady-cam. The immediate result is motion sickness for a large number of people, including me. So I got the pleasure of spending $8.00 for a ticket, another $9.00 for a Coke and popcorn and another $5.00 in change on the video games in the lobby waiting for my wife to come out and tell me about it.

Hollywood needs to announce long and loud whether a movie is shot hand-held. That way, we don't waste our money on it.
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Really bad movie
31 March 2007
I've seen this movie three or four times now, and it just gets gets worse and worse. Even the combined efforts of two outstanding actors can't salvage this warthog.

Wyatt Earp was no saint by any stretch of the imagination, but his story has been researched fairly thoroughly. About the only thing this movie gets right is the names of the characters. If a movie is going to be made based on historical events, those events should be presented correctly.

I still get a laugh out of seeing Dr. McCoy as Morgan Earp, though. I kept expecting to hear him say, "Dammit, I'm a lawman, not a mechanic." or something similar.

Beam us up, Scotty - there's no movie worth watching here.
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Sucks pondwater
27 December 2006
A much ballyooed movie, but The Good Shepherd's hoo falls far short of its bally.

Give the cast and the fact that 'Robert De Niro, had been working on this film for ten years as his "pet project.', I really expected something good. Instead, I got 3+ hours of long-winded, bad, boring script mixed with bad acting performances. De Niro should have spent his time in a more constructive manner.

Save your time and money, folks. This movie is a dog. But if you do decide to go, sit way up high in the corner where your snoring won't bother the folks around you. Well, it probably won't, because they'll be snoring, too.
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Sleeper movie for 2006
5 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The Illusionist is definitely a sleeper.

The only weakness is the plot, but with a little imagination, one can make it work. I found it a little hard to believe that a few forbidden snogging sessions at age 14 or so would result in a monumental true love that would last through the ages. But once the movie got past that, it was quite easy to overlook.

The magic is excellent, by the way. The traditional stage illusions are well done and the special effect illusions are not big and overpowering; they add to the overall depth, not detract from it.

The final illusion is very, very well thought out and very well executed. Excellent acting from Norton, Biel, Giamatti, and Sewell just oozes malice as the bad guy. You have to fight to restrain yourself from throwing your popcorn at him.

This movie should grab some Oscars. Highly recommended.
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A great remake, but lacking in a few areas
4 July 2006
I have to admit that I was skeptical about a remake of Superman. I believe that we all remember the abortions that Golan-Globus made of S3 and S4, and I couldn't help but think "Hmmm....".

I was pleasantly surprised. The flying scenes show the effect of 20+ years of technology improvement. Brandon Routh does a very good job of filling some very large red boots left behind by Christopher Reeve (and kudos to the movie team for their dedication both to him and Dana). Kevin Spacey is an incredibly evil Lex Luthor.

IMNSHO, the only role lacking was....Lois Lane. Kate Bosworth just doesn't cut it, both in terms of acting ability and looks. They should have tried to find someone more in the Margot Kidder mold. That's why I couldn't go a 10 on this version of Superman.
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Nanny McPhee (2005)
Absolutely fantastic!
4 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure whether my comments will constitute spoilers or not, so better safe than sorry: Beware, ye who read - possible spoilers ahead.

This movie appeals on so many, many different levels. First off, there are some downright hilarious moments in the movie (the dancing mule nearly stole the show). Second, there is drama that tugs at the heartstrings. And third, there are stellar performances turned in by a fantastic cast.

The special effects are marvelous and I have to give big-time credit to the makeup department, who rose to the monumental task of taking the incredibly beautiful Emma Thompson and transforming her into Nanny McPhee, who looks like a warthog's nightmare.

My only regret is that this is a British movie. I wish Hollywood remembered how to turn out class work like this, instead of the tripe they have been turning out lately.
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31 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure if my comments will constitute spoilers or not, but just to be on the safe side, I'm going to assume they will. The usual warnings apply.

Johnny Depp has matured into a good actor, and it was interesting to watch a movie in which he is undergoing this maturity process. In The Ninth Gate, he plays a rare book expert who has undertaken a commission to support the provenance of a book that will supposedly call up the devil by comparing it to other extant copies of the book. As he does so, people start mysteriously dying and the other copies are destroyed.

This movie is actually a reasonably good whodunnit quest sort of story....up until the last 10 minutes, where it falls miserably on its butt and leaves the entire story completely unresolved. Directed by Roman Polanski? C'mon, Roman, you can do better than that. We never find out who "The Girl" is; we never find out if he actually unlocks the secret of the book. Depp's acting performance is the only reason I gave this movie a 5. Otherwise, from that sucky ending, I'd have scored it a 2 and that would have been generous of me.
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Way, way overboard
5 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure if my comments will constitute a spoiler or not, so to be on the safe side, I'm giving a spoiler warning.

This movie is a 10 in terms of storyline, plot development and excellent acting. I knocked off 3 points on my vote because they went way too far with the sex and violence. I'm 56 and SWMBO is 48; at one point, SWMBO whispered to me, "This is R-rated? I don't even think *we're* old enough to see this!". And frankly, I'm tired of the blood-and-gore-all-over-the-floor (and the walls and the ceiling and the people) school of movie-making. One can show extreme violence without being gross about it.

Having said that, I will give big credit in one aspect: the fight scenes are very realistic. This is the way martial arts is supposed to be used in self-defense. No flashy jump kicks to the head, no reaching down the throat and ripping the heart out, just very precise, powerful techniques that disable an opponent quickly and thoroughly. SWMBO and I are both Taekwondo instructors and it was a pleasure to see a movie that got it right.
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Another poorly filmed show
10 September 2005
The Constant Gardner got a 6 from me solely on the strength of the acting performances turned in by Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz. A John LeCarre novel is a difficult read, and I have yet to finish reading TCG, although I've started it several times. Fiennes and Weisz made their characters come alive and made the story very followable.

Having said that, I now have to bitch loudly and long about the current trend of movies being filmed with hand-held cameras and not Steadicams. I'm really getting tired of laying out hard-earned money to watch a show that makes me want to barf because the lousy cinematography induces motion sickness. And it's not just me; a lot of folks in the audience were complaining about it.

If you are susceptible to motion sickness, do NOT go to this movie. I knocked 4 points off the score because of this.
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Oscar material
28 August 2005
There are so few good movies being made these days.

Must Love Dogs is one of them. It's a strong enough story that it even overcomes the nowadays obligatory sideline presentation of the homosexual lifestyle as being normal and acceptable.

I've loved Diane Lane ever since her role of Elizabeth in Hardball, and John Cusack has been growing on me ever since his role as Ed in Identity. The chemistry between Diane and John in this movie is what makes it click. Even while the characters are struggling to learn about themselves and their relationship, the audience can see it and it makes you root for them even harder.

And the "outtake" snippets at the end are an absolute hoot!
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This movie really highlights what's wrong with Hollywood and society
2 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I will grant that Kevin Costner and Joan Allen did a great acting job. So did the lovely young ladies who played the daughters, including the ones nearly 30 who managed to look like they are still late teens / early 20s.

But then I got to thinking about it and it dawned on me that this movie is just a poster child, so to speak, of a lot of the stuff that is just flat wrong in society these days. And Hollywood just passes it off as being perfectly normal.

Drug abuse.

Alcohol abuse.

Indiscrimate sex. And pedophilia to boot.

The (almost mandatory these days) gender-challenged person who is portrayed as being quite normal, thank you.

And the blatant disrespect shown by the girls to their mother is just jawdropping. If my sister, at that age, had talked to my mother the way these girls are portrayed talking to theirs, her life as she knew it would have ended on the spot. My mother would have been all over her like white on rice.

I gave this movie a 3 instead of a 0 because of the strength of Costner/Allen's roles. But overall, it sucked badly. I'm sorry I spent the money on it, and I'm depressed after watching it.
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Good rendition
27 December 2004
I was pleasantly surprised by this.

I was expecting a lame remake of "Christmas Carol" (the George C. Scott version is the definitive one IMNSHO) and after the disastrous Albert Finney version, another musical version was the last thing I wanted.

But the music is good and the actors can actually sing. And Jane Krakowski absolutely steals the show as the ghost of Christmas Past. What an incredibly talented, beautiful young woman she is! I plan to watch this from now on at Christmas time. It will most assuredly help heal the annual trauma of having Christmas music rammed down our throats from Labor Day onward.
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Waste of time
11 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Sorry, folks.

This may have been an all-star cast and all that stuff, but the movie just wasn't that good. Lame plot and bad acting. In addition, they did not use a steadicam on several of the scenes and if you are susceptible to motion sickness, you're gonna have a bad time.

Even the little twist of having Julia Roberts play a character playing the role of Julia Roberts couldn't save this dog. It was cute enough that I gave the film a 3 instead of a 1, but it is the only saving grace and they ran it into the ground quickly enough. Bruce Willis might as well have been seeing dead folks in this film, too.
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A great Xmas movie
11 December 2004
Every once in a while, we have a good Xmas movie come along. The latest ones have been "The Santa Clause" and "Santa Clause II"; now we have "Polar Express".

After we got back home from the show, we dug out the book. What amazed me was how hard the movie's animators worked to stay true to the drawings in the book (the whole book itself takes about 2 minutes to read). The writers took some liberties with the journey getting to the Pole, but all-in-all, this is an Xmas movie that will stand the test of time.

Throw away "It's A Wonderful Life" and replace it with "Polar Express".
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Mr 3000 (2004)
A real sleeper
25 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not a Bernie Mac fan per se, but he does a good job in this movie. It's a great baseball movie, but more importantly, it's a movie about growing up and maturing into a responsible human being who is willing to sacrifice for the greater good. It's better than I thought it would be, even allowing for the cheesy, semi-mandatory hump scenes with his girlfriend.

SPOILER ALERT - don't read past here if you haven't seen the movie.

The entire story is ostensibly based on Bernie's egotistical jerk character trying to regain 3 base hits in the major leagues that were removed because they had been posted in error. His entire life is wrapped around being one of the few 3000 hit holders in the majors, so he's dedicated to regaining them solely for his own ego. Along the way, however, he discovers something that he should have known all along (and that most professional sports figures have forgotten) - it's a team sport, not an individual sport. At the end of the last game of the season, with his last shot at number 3000 on the line, Bernie lays down a sacrifice bunt so that his team can win the game and take third place. He gives up his shot at 3000 and in doing so, he becomes a greater star than he would have if he had taken the big swing.
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Great prequel
25 September 2004
The original Exorcist movie was a masterpiece. The two sequels were garbage.

Needless to say, I approached this movie with a great deal of hesitation because of the sequels. I was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a movie that rivaled the original.

I saw Stellan Skarsgård in "King Arthur" and thought he was a good actor. Having seen him here, I think he's great. In addition, he was excellently typecast as Father Merrir; it's quite easy to look at him and visualize a younger Max von Sydow. The special effects are understated, just like the original, and just like in the original, they are tremendously effective because of that understatement.

An excellent prequel. Throw away the sequels and content yourself with just this and the original Exorcist movie and you can't go wrong.
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Hero (2002)
A very good movie except for the wirework
6 September 2004
Hero is a classic Chinese drama/tragedy.

Comparisons to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will be made, but the two movies are very different. The cinematography in Hero was better and the tale is told in mostly flashback as opposed to "realtime" in CTHD.

I must admit, though, that I think the wire work detracts horribly from the grace and beauty of the martial arts scenes. I really don't know why Chinese directors are so enamored by it, and unfortunately American directors are becoming more enamored with it, too. And to be bluntly honest, this movie could have used at least one unarmed combat scene, instead of being all weapons.
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