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A 2nd Chance (2011)
Pretty bad but not insufferable
24 August 2016
This movie is a low budget flick without many worthwhile qualities. Everything about the movie is mediocre at best: the script, the acting, the directing, the music, and so on. The adult actors all hover at around run-of-the-mill level. The child actors go from not good to terrible. At times the acting is so cringe-worthily bad that even the most patient of us will think to turn it off. The script is really odd with a slowly-paced storytelling punctuated with unconvincing developments and silly training montages. This all comes to a predictable and ridiculously optimistic ending that not only misses the chance for a non-Hollywood story arc but takes the standard formula and makes it even more of a happy ending than usual in a Hollywood movie. I've seen truly awful movies and this isn't that bad but it's down there.
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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Meridian (1994)
Season 3, Episode 8
18 August 2013
This episode is really boring. The whole "extra dimensional" aspect of the story is beyond science fiction and into science stupidity. On top of that they layer an extremely cheesy love story. Wouldn't be so bad if the male lover's acting weren't so terribly unrealistic. Someone in the writing staff of ds9 has the idea romance and seduction occur when a man stares creepily at a woman in awkward silence. It's atrociously shallow and silly. There's a "filler" subplot involving an alien trying to get a holosuite program of Major Kira. It's stretched-out too long but it builds to a funny, if cheap, laugh. Overall this episode has been one of the weakest in the ds9 series until this point. Totally forgettable.
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extremely shallow
9 July 2013
I managed to sit all the way through this bargain-bin schlock only because watching clips of martial art movies provides a minimum level of entertainment. The animated framing device and the annoying, "Yahoo web clip"-sounding voice narration that link the clips together provided virtually no insight into history of kung fu movies. The intellectual level of the narrated "analysis" is about on par with a thesis-lacking essay from a below average student in high school. The historical analysis presented amounted to basically just putting a random movie on screen and mentioning who starred in it. Attempts at linking films together to provide a sense of historical development were largely absent and completely inept when present. The film might have worked better if it stayed in strictly chronological order but it jumps back-n-forth in time so much that it leaves the viewer confused. The film is shapeless and shallow. The writers seem to only have had a superficial understanding of subject matter and it just seems like a couple of kung fu geeks somehow managed to convince somebody to fund this. In this end, this is a movie built to ride of the coat-tails of the films it covers. Given the history of exploitation of kung fu stars (something mentioned in the film) makes this rather ironic.
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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Q-Less (1993)
Season 1, Episode 6
One of the worst Star Trek episodes I've seen
21 June 2013
This episode is pretty much terrible. The appearance of Q seems forced in the first place and the writing is just inconsistent; for instance, is Q omniscient or not? How'd he not spot O'Brian, and so on. The acting throughout is pretty terrible from Dr. Bashir's opening monologue to his corny ending joke line. In between, we have a silly story arc that just isn't very captivating. This entire cast seems to lack charisma and verisimilitude. Even when his entire station is at risk, Cisco barely even seems to get his blood pressure up. I feel like the director should have been shouting, "People, your lives are supposed to be at stake!". Even the auction feels like a high-school production instead of a prime-time TV show and resembles in no way a convincing real-life auction.
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I'm still stunned...
17 July 2008
The Dark Knight is a great movie. Rarely does a film bring you to the edge of your seat with creeping dread but this one does. I saw it at an early show but the audience still applauded afterward. That tradition has been slowly dying out and it was nice to see a movie like this bring it back. Let's see... where to start? I'll keep this short and spoiler free.

The acting was good by all involved and it's true that Leager's performance as the Joker rises above just being good. It is a great performance worthy of an Oscar. There's a part of me that's angry that drugs took away such a great actor and a bit towards him also for choosing that dangerous, worthless path. Perhaps that's selfish of me but it's also a compliment to the talent he wasted. I also liked Harvey Dent by Aaron Eckhart despite some reviews criticizing it. I am not a reader of the comic books but I found Two Face's creation story to be about as realistic as possible. I'm not sure how they could possibly top this movie in a sequel and I don't know if any other villain could live up to the standard that the Joker set here. We'll see, I guess.

Realism. Let's talk about that. The success of this movie is founded upon a more realistic portrayal of Batman and Gotham and of the superhero genre in general. Sure the action is amped way, way up but the director, Tim Nolan, somehow manages to make it feel plausible enough that you stop worrying about how preposterous it all is and focus on the story. I like this new approach, the opposite of camp, and when it matches the source material, it should be used from now on. The Hellboy movies have also benefited from this. Truth: take the source seriously and you end up with a better finished product. Hollywood got something right this time even if we've had to suffer through countless superhero movies and films designed not to challenge us more than some executives think we can handle.

I don't want to give anything away but this movie takes you on an emotional journey that leaves you a little exhausted at the end. It has action, suspense, terror, true love (and not true love), philosophy... and it's all woven into a complex gripping story. It is remarkable that it managed to keep so many plates spinning at once. I'm impressed.

Go see this movie. See it on the big screen. You'll thank me for it. It is worthy of a second theatre viewing and I'll be going again.
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Quick thoughts on movie. Contains spoilers.
23 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I thought it was okay but it was missing that magical charm that made the Indiana Jones movies so popular. It doesn't take away from the previous movies but it doesn't add too much either. The last scene is kind of nice as an endcap to the whole series. I don't expect more movies to be made after this.

Let's talk about the bad first. My first complaint was that the actions sequences were too over the top. Most notably was the swinging from the vines scene by Mutt. In fact there were many touches of over-the-top CGI... the nuclear blast scene was cool but then they went and overindulged by having the fridge fly a mile through the air. Would have been much better with a more restrained view. Indy could have gotten in a fridge in the basement and then we are shown a shot of the house gone after the blast but the Indy crawls out of the rubble. Realism goes a long way even in a movie with supernatural elements like Indiana Jones.

Over all the acting by the whole cast was passable but nothing great. Kate Blanchett I thought gave a uneven performance. First her Russian accent wasn't very authentic. They really should have found a real Russian fem-fatal to play the part. Her acting was noticeably poorer in the CGI heavy scenes while strong in the rest. LaBeouf and Ford did well together but lacked the magic chemistry that Ford and Connery had. Karen Allen gave the least convincing performance and her character's emotions always seemed out-of-touch with the situations she finds herself in but I was glad she was back nonetheless.

The story this time was a real brave choice was Spielberg and crew. It could have easily ruined the feel that the trilogy produced. I thought the script would have been better if it saved the more bizarre aspects regarding the aliens until later in the film. They could have then had a big reveal to catch the audience (and Indy and friends) completely by surprise. My favorite sequence in the whole movie was the opening one. It had mystery and suspense. I think we are feed too many bread crumbs long the way to have that same feeling in the final action scene.

Overall Indy 4 is a fun movie but I found myself not thinking about it much after I saw it. Even Ironman left me excited for a couple days. Indy 4 is missing ingredients that would have made it great. Indy 4 feels diluted by the influence of more recent adventure films like the Mummy. Indiana Jones movies are dusty, dirty, and gritty. Models and live action provide that dusty feel but CGI does not.
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South Park: Asspen (2002)
Season 6, Episode 2
Solid episode
30 January 2008
This is one of my favorite South Park episodes. It is very re-watchable compared to some of the other sixth season installments. My parents went to several of those free this-or-that marketing scams when I was growing up --- which I hated --- and I can definitely relate to that portion of the plot but it's the lampooning of sports movies that makes this episode a winner. The spoofing hits just the right tone. Most notable is the "Montage" song that also made it into "Team America". There's only a few laugh-out loud moments, mostly aimed at Butter's expense by Cartman, but the whole episode is amusing. A gem in a uneven South Park season.
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Sub-par episode with badly presented ending
17 December 2007
This is one of the poorer episodes from the 7th season. The plots revolves around telepathic abilities, one of my least favorite aspects of the Star Trek universe. I like my science fiction at least somewhat grounded in science rather than pseudo-science. I grudgingly accept Troi's abilities when presented as extremely sharp intuition but when presented more like a true psychic ability I can't help but be skeptical. The plot is something of a who-done-it. I don't want to discuss the details because they aren't very interesting. But I can say that the ending is poorly scripted. The first time I saw the episode I didn't even fully understand how much of the episode the "reveal" covered... almost the whole thing.
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Star Wars Tech (2007 TV Movie)
Well made but about stupid topic
5 June 2007
This documentary is well-made but the whole "examine the physics of some movie" thing has been done to death. This sort of material is pseudo-intellectual at best anyway. The idea is that the audience learns about real physics by comparing and contrasting it with sci-fi physics. Sounds okay but in reality these shows teach very little, or at least they teach very little compared to a straightforward show that was actually about physics. Real physics is intrinsically interesting. I wish documentaries wouldn't patronize people by having to sugarcoat the teaching of it by putting in mass-consumption form. There's nothing wrong with documentaries trying to capitalize on recent popular movies (although this one seems a little late for the Star Wars prequels buzz). The History channel recently aired a show called True Caribbean Pirates which is perfectly timed with the new Caribbean Pirates movies. That documentary was excellent, however, and covered real material. Afterward viewing it, I couldn't help but feel like I learned something substantial rather than the kind of fluff you might get from Star Wars Tech.
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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Journey's End (1994)
Season 7, Episode 20
One of the dumbest sub-plots ever in TNG
22 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers

I loved the main plot about the forced removal of a people. It was about ethics and caused me to think. The writing however could have been better as the solution to the dilemma was so obvious that the story should have treated it as though it was already considered by the Indian.

The side story arc with Wes was one of the dumbest, most ad-hoc sub-plots in any TNG episode. Completely random and beyond my suspension of disbelief. It would have been much more interesting if they explored what caused the changes in his personality instead of just using it as a spring board to a big reveal. All in all, the surprise doesn't work and the epilogue had me shaking my head at how nonchalant Beverly and Picard dealt with such a world-altering event.
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I was not impressed
25 December 2006
I love the animated version of Charlotte's Web and was looking forward to this live version after seeing the previews because it looked like they may have captured the magic of earlier movie. Unfortunately, I do not think the live version lived up to its potential. It wasn't bad by any means but it felt very non-memorable. There were some poor choices for this version. There was no singing and the songs from the animated classic are fantastic and were missed. Another change was in the portrayal of Fern. Instead of being sweet and pure, she has become a very modern tweener: defiant, independent, and stubborn. And of course, it wouldn't be a modern "kids movie" without a fart joke (can't filmmakers resist this these days?). These aren't huge flaws but they did detract. All in all, this version does not surpass the classic version.
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The Insider (2004– )
Might be the lowest quality show ever
1 February 2006
Is your life so empty that you find it fulfilling to live it through the lives of celebrities? Are you so shallow that you consider a celebrity text message a "news story"? Do you enjoy staring at deformed people to make yourself feel better? If so, then the Insider just might be for you! This is quite simply one of the dumbest shows ever. It makes other gossip TV shows look informative. Everybody involved with this show should feel ashamed of themselves. (And no, I don't watch the show. I've seen it one or twice but am mostly familiar with it just by flipping channels.) Oh, and don't fall for their "story's coming up in two minutes" line: they'll drag you along for half the show before they disappoint you.
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Will Ferrell should be worried
20 August 2005
This movie is awesome and I laughed out loud through much of it. The best thing about it is how it took its subject matter mostly seriously. This movie very easily could have come off as stupid and corny but what we get is a story that's moving and characters that we like. The supporting cast, in particular, is fantastic. I hope that future comedies take a cue or two from this movie.

I've been a fan of Steve Carell for quite some time now because of the Daily Show. This is a guy that knows how to be funny but not in a cheap way. I'm glad he now has had his first moment to shine in Hollywood. Will Ferrell should be worried that the bell is tolling on him. Despite being Hollywood's Goto Comedy Man the last few years, he is way over-rated and this movie proves it.

Go see this movie!
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15 August 2005
Gosh. Where to begin? Everything in this movie was bad: the script, the directing, the acting, the sets, and even the make-up. This movie was not scary... at all. Despite what I was expecting, it wasn't even gory. It had some gore but it was pretty tame. The only thing positive I can say about it is a character named Dr. Satan looked pretty cool. He was very original could have been horrifying in a different movie. However this does not make up for the previous hour and a half of stupid dialog, cheap scares, and the most puzzlingly bad last half hour of a film that I've seen in a while. This movie misses its mark completely. Sorry, Rob Zombie (but you did better with the sequel).
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Mid-way through I decided I didn't like it
25 July 2005
Tim Burton misses the mark... again. Here is a story that it seems to me would be difficult to ruin: a kid's movie about magical chocolate. The movie starts off well enough. We are introduced to Charlie's family and town and learn about the Chocolate factory. The finding of Charlie's ticket to visit the factory slowly lumbers towards its inevitable conclusion. This is my first complaint that the finding of the ticket was not serendipitous but treated as if desire can influence reality (remember kids, you can win the lottery so long as if you really, really want to win). OK. So what. It's forgivable. The story moves on and we find ourselves on a tour of the factory. For a while things are fine and then with one new plot device -- the elevator -- things go completely downhill. Now effects rather than character take over the story (I don't call them special effects because it's not often anymore that they 'wow' us... they are ordinary effects). The characters also act completely unnatural during some of these scenes (i.e., the parents and Wonka just sit back and watch barely concerned as their children do dangerous things). Anyway, the movie goes on until the end. There's no point about it except the most cliché of moral lessons "your family is important".

The kids in the theater laughed a few times (but not as much as they have the potential for). As an adult, I laughed twice. Once was at a pretty good joke, I must admit, about what's edible. The other was at something that wasn't intended to get a laugh.

Oh, regarding Wonka, what a strange dude! He's got problems... real problems.
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One of the best martial arts movies
18 May 2005
Up until this movie I had always been let down by Jet Li's flicks except for the "Once Upon a Time in China" series. I bought "Fist of Legend" because it was one of Jet Li's highest rated movies on the IMDb (but it was behind "Hero", which I didn't like so much). I would say I had high but not unrealistic hopes for it. But this movie *needed* to be good or I would have started to consider Jet Li over-rated.

All I can say is that "Fist of Legend" delivers! The opening fight scene was surprisingly brutal and I was instantly hooked. The action doesn't take too long a break in this movie but also found the story compelling and interesting -- something unusual in a martial arts flick. Most of the protagonists are fully developed and the viewer likes and feels for them. The villains aren't nearly so fleshed out and come off as one-dimensional but oh well. Everything else from the costumes to the acting and the settings were decent. The sum package is one of the best martial arts movies I've ever seen and I've seen more than my share. "Fist of Legend" is to Jet Li as "Drunken Master" is to Jackie Chan.

I saw the dubbed Dimension US release. Although I hate dubbing and any editing of a foreign release (are you listening Dimension?), I found the dubbing here mostly okay except for the General's insanely over-the-top "evil" voice. I also felt that some of the dialog seemed to have lost meaning in the translation but it's forgivable.
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Pi (1998)
20 February 2005
I've been looking forward to seeing this movie for a couple of years now since I first heard about it and that it was getting some good reviews. It took that long because my friends had little interest in seeing it and I wanted to be in the right mood to watch it. I was expecting and looking forward to a smart challenging story.

Sadly "Pi" didn't live up to my expectations. Basically I found the plot silly. Perhaps my background in mathematics and computers kept me from consuming the premise: I saw through it's hokeyness. The movie was also addled by the overt weirdness stereotypical of indie films. I have nothing against weird avant-garde movies or indie films (I love many of them) but sometimes indie films use weirdness for weirdness' sake or to simply add time to a movie whose story is running short.

I held out my judgment on Pi until the very end. The ending left me feeling empty and confirmed my fears that the movie had built itself up too much to be able to deliver the goods. There were some scenes I liked such as the ones between Max and Sol. In summery, although I didn't enjoy Pi overall, I don't consider it a waste of time. I was just expecting more.
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I didn't like it
25 January 2005
House of Flying Daggers was released in the US hot on the heels of Hero, also directed by Yimou Zhang. I didn't care much for Hero and I liked House of Flying Daggers even less. Both movies contain good visual images, good locations, good sets, and good costumes. What went wrong? The main flaw in House just like Hero was the action sequences, which take the intrinsically absurd action of wire-fu and amp it up to preposterous proportions. When done right like in Crouching Tiger or in some of Jackie Chan's movies I love it. But Zhang makes his heroes so super-human that my mind balks when trying to suspend my disbelief. How can you feel any danger for them during their fight sequences? You know they will only get injured if the story requires it and not because fighting carries an element of risk. I've only seen two of Zhang's movies but my impression so far is that his films feel one dimensional. Scene after scene depicts astonishing natural beauty (forests, mountains, snowy field, etc.) containing a character overcome with the sorrow of the human condition. It's like a broken record. But by one-dimensional I don't mean he's a one-trick-pony. I mean something more damning: instead of turning a good story into a gripping and involving drama that moves, he turns it into a single-watch melodrama that leaves you wondering what could have been.
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Fun for a night
24 January 2005
I was looking forward to seeing this movie for a while. I wasn't expecting much so I waited for it on video. The movie was about what I figured: stupid but in a good way. The story is anything but original. It is just a retread of "gotta raise money to save something" plot. Ben Stiller provides most of the laughs, as to be expected, but the supporting actors get some good gags too. Vince Vaughn plays the hero as laid-back as possible. Some of the humor misses such as Patches O'Houlihan's jokes played by an almost unrecognizable Rip Torn. If you aren't too uptight to enjoy a silly slap-stick comedy, give Dodgeball a rent.
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Unbreakable (2000)
20 January 2005
Unbreakable suffers from several flaws that kept it from being a good movie but strong performances by Willis and Jackson keep the movie from tanking. The script could have used some smoothing of rough edges, which is obvious (perhaps Shyamalan was a little blinded by his own success or people were reluctant to mention it). In particular a scene involving a gun does not work, a madman in a fight scene does something implausible, and the ending itself is somewhat of a letdown. The premise is also taken too far as the hero discovers his abilities. This causes the movie to leave the realm of subtlety for which it seemed to be aiming. I'll ignore the flaws in Mr. Glass's reasoning as part of my suspension of disbelief. Despite all this, the movie is engaging and keeps the viewer uncertain as to what's to come. Jackson delivers a compiling character that lifts the film every time he's on screen. In short, Unbreakable could have been a good movie but it ended up just okay.
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14 January 2005
Drunken Master is probably the movie that cemented Jackie Chan's stardom (credited as Jacky Chan). Although slightly addled by some the corniness that is common in Chinese comedies, there are also some very funny moments. But a martial arts movie, of course, is really about the fighting. What can I say? The kung fu starts out good and gets better and better and better until the final fight scene that you will want to watch multiple times (some parts in slow motion). The situations of the film will feel fresh and original to viewers that have seen mostly Hollywood films. As to be expected from an 1978 Asian movie, the sound and video are not up to today's standards and shouldn't be criticized because of that as is often done by young and naive viewers. This film offers you a chance to see expert martial artists doing physical stunts that almost nobody can do. If you can see the beauty in that (or dance, or bodybuilding, or anything else that requires dedication and loads of practice before the end product) you will love this movie. If not, Drunken Master will make you laugh a few times too.
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Unfunny. Very very unfunny.
13 January 2005
I chuckled twice while watching this movie. They were chuckles, not laughs. Napoleon Dynamite is slow and boring. That's not what I was expecting from it or what I wanted from it. After hearing some people say that the humor is in the tone of the dialog and not the dialog itself, I -- being a film masochist, I guess -- watched it again hoping to gain newfound understanding of the content. Upon second viewing, I didn't laugh or chuckle. If anything the movie is depressing. It revolves around a group of throughly unlikable characters in not-so-believable situations. It also attempts some "white people acting black jokes" like they haven't been done before. Retreading such cliché material seriously undermines the "hip" style and angle that the movie, to a fault, seemed to be reaching for. Watching this movie was like listening to a joke without a punchline.
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Shade (2003)
Worth the rent 7/10
21 June 2004
I liked this movie despite its flaws. I liked Larry Jennings played by Jamie Foxx. Before I saw it, I didn't like that Jamie Foxx was in this movie but now that I think about it, I don't know why. I guess he reminds me too much of the Wayne's brothers, who I can't stand. Rambo did a great job as the Dean. So did Stewart Townsend as Vernon. I didn't like Tiffany played by Thandie Newton. She wasn't sexy nor did she have much charisma and the screenwriters gave her a really bad scene which shouldn't have made it into the movie. Gabriel Byrne as Charlie Miller did an okay job.

As for the poker, there's a few corny moments (but watch the special features because they explain why they did some things).

I guess the best part of the movie is the card mechanics but the story was okay too.
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Get the DVD!
17 May 2004
This movie can be found for five dollars, which makes it one of the best bargains around. While not perfect, this is still a great movie whose flaws are more than compensated for by its successes. All I can say about Micheal J. Fox's acting is "wow"! Most people who haven't seen this movie might not think Fox could pull off such a dramatic role, but he does and its perhaps the best performance of his successful career. The story is absolutely heart-wrenching. If you're not moved by it, you may not be human. On screen, there's one moment in particular that hits so hard, it feels like a kick to the stomach. Visually the movie is also stunning: lush greens, blue skies, a few tricky camera shots, etc. If you wanted to look for flaws, I would have to say that some of the other leads besides Fox give uneven performances, including, surprisingly, Penn; but I digress.

The DVD extras are decent too consisting of a "Making of" short, an interview with Fox, and the theatrical trailers.

In short, buy this DVD!
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Not good let alone great
2 April 2004
This movie is well-crafted. But unless you are a Christian, it isn't very moving. The violence is displayed in an almost pornographic fashion. We're supposed to feel bad, I guess, because Jesus was tortured and by showing that torture in detail it is supposed to make us feel even worse. Well, it doesn't work for me. He was a guy that started a new cult, which was against the law, and he was punished for it according to the laws of the land, severe as they may have been. Jesus certainly isn't the only person in history to have been tortured. But of course, if you believe he was the Christ, everything changes. A better movie could have been made that tries to so how cruel people have been to others (usually because of religion), and the message could have been to embrace our differences rather than fear them. I did learn from this movie that the devil shaves his eyebrows because it looks weird. I also don't understand how people can have guilt for something that happened before they were born. Nobody alive today "put Jesus up there" although I agree some people alive today *would* do it. But you can't have guilt for something you didn't do. Anyway 5/10 because it was different and fairly well-made. It just doesn't work for me.
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