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Bad Apple (2004 TV Movie)
Good dialogue and some fresh roles for familiar faces.
9 April 2004
It took a while to get used to Chris Noth as an undercover cop (and Robert Patrick as a thug!) but once I got over that it was a lot of fun. The characters weren't entirely believable but their quirks served the plot and dialogue well. There were quite a few quotable one and two line bits in this movie that made me laugh out loud. I had pretty low expectations for a TNT movie and this really exceeded them - there were a lot of well-directed moments of great comic timing and meaningful glances that made me chuckle.

I'm very surprised to see the low ratings that this movie got - I'm not sure what people had issues with. (I prefer to comment before reading other people's comments, to avoid tainting my own impressions with other's criticisms.) All of the lead actors turned in excellent performances, the writing was good, the wardrobe for the criminal characters was funny all by itself, and in general I thought this was well done. It's no classic but it was entertaining and I didn't say "oh no it's just more Hollywood crap" once.
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Soylent Green (1973)
Skip the movie; read the book.
28 December 2003
The movie is based on Harry Harrison's "Make Room! Make Room!" and inhabits the same story universe, but the plot has been altered substantially. More importantly, the characters from the book have been changed substantially, and for the worse. Simply put, there's nobody in the movie to like very much. Heston's character is sleazy and dumb and it's very hard to identify with him as a protagonist. I can see why Harry Harrison was so disappointed.

If you liked this movie even a little and would have preferred that it have more depth, better characters, a more gripping plot, and less footage of Charlton Heston swaggering around in that stOOOOOOpid hat, read "Make Room! Make Room!" by Harry Harrison.
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Serving Sara (2002)
Underrated. Not genius, but funny!
6 November 2003
If you like the lead actors, you'll like this movie. Joe is a Chandler-esque character, except more cynical, to the point of being a jerk... but a funny jerk. Liz

Hurley is cast (as usual) as the very hot and sophisticated love interest. Yes, there are some contrived "let's dress her up and show off her body" scenes, including the "I said help me, not undress me!" scene from the trailer. Still, the dialogue is funny, the interaction between Joe and Tony is funny, and yes, Cedric entertains.

This is a solid rental, and I would have expected that it would get around a 6 or 6.5 rating here. I guess some people wanted a more sophisticated plot. Sorry! Ogle Liz and laugh at Matthew, that's all you get.
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Worst. Episode. Ever. (at least of TNG movies)
8 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
OK, maybe ST V was worse. And that silly Shakespeare quoting cringe-fest in VI was worse.

Stuart Baird & John Logan have created a really bad story and turned it into a really bad movie. There are so many plot problems that I can't be bothered to list them all. I'll list a few below and just advise you NOT to watch this movie, even as a rental. If you're laid-up in the hospital and have nothing else to watch but QVC, well, OK it's not as bad as that,so I gave it 4/10. It's not quite as bad as Ice Pirates either. But there are still many, many moments that don't make sense, and will have you shouting "as if he wouldn't just ____ instead" at the screen.

P.S. the sad part is, in the deleted scenes / special features, the crew talks about how proud and happy they are regarding the movie. Oh, it's so *deep*, it has so many levels, wow it's all complicated. Are they unaware of how bad this movie is? This movie isn't even good enough to be a Sci-Fi Channel show. The symbolism and major plot themes are so un-subtle, it's like it was really fanfic written by a 14 year old socially challenged trekkie who thought this was a really sophisticated and artistic story, but to anyone else it's just amateurish.


Major, obvious problems / bad stuff:

  • Would the Romulan Senate really just sit there and watch that bomb slowly go off? Sorry but I think some of them would get up and bolt. "Dur, gee, what's dat... pret-ty col-ors... shin-y..."

  • How exactly do you detect teeny tiny positronic radiation from light years away? Oh we weren't looking for it, it's just a little bit of electromagnetic radiation that travelled millions (billions?) of miles across space and we detected it against the tons of EM noise in space. Riiiight. (And how come B-4's arm has a positronic signature? Oh I see, because it's important to the plot; otherwise they wouldn't be able to find all his body parts.)

  • Ridiculous dune buggy jump into the back of the shuttle

  • The whole dang bridge crew beams down at the same time? Into a Romulan meeting location, on a huge scary warship? Who was left in charge, Geordi?

  • Creepy Riker/Troi sex scene. Eww. Show it to your kids, they'll embrace abstinence.

  • Dorky dorky dorky dialogue, especially between Picard and Shinzon

  • Blatant TWOK ending, including unbearably corny singing scene (might as well have said "your name is... Jim...")

  • Bad make-up on Senator Tal'aura (um, if her face is green, don't you need to also put make-up on her neck?)

  • Melodramatic "revealing Shinzon's face" - there's even a deleted scene comment by Stuart Baird about how he cut a scene just to preserve this silly effect. Gasp! It's... some bald dude in a shiny cloak with 80's shoulder pads... what?

  • standard Hollywood "can't hit the broad side of a barn" / "reflexes of a turtle" bad guy soldiers

  • ridiculous ram sequence: if the Enterprise is so damaged that it needs force fields to maintain structural integrity, AND Shinzon's ship has 70% of its super duper shields left, AND Picard says to divert all power to the engines, why does the Enterprise stay intact while the Scimitar gets crunched? (and why doesn't Shinzon just say "um, let's back up so they don't hit us"...?)

  • Data's Bond-esque leap from the Enterprise to the Scimitar ... there are just so many more problems but I have better things to do than to go thru the movie and take issue with all of them.

Thank God they didn't:

  • Self-destruct the Enterprise, A-GAIN.

  • Give Riker the one-liner about staying away from Troi when he kills the viceroy. (I lost $20 on that one; I was so sure they'd go for it.)
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Pretty darn funny.
8 June 2003
I recorded this when it was on Comedy Central and found myself rewinding and replaying several scenes because they were so funny. Very well directed - good comic timing, everybody was part of the joke, etc. And the movies that Mr. Stiller's character made were very funny as well.

Another thing I liked was that this wasn't a cringe comedy. The humor was about weird people, not about sticky/embarassing situations (I hate cringe comedies). Think Waiting for Guffman rather than American Pie.
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Better than the first. Surprisingly entertaining.
30 December 2002
OK so I admit I thought this was going to be a dud. The first one was sorta clever but a sequel... oh dear. I ended up going to watch it anyway, not entirely by choice.

Well, actually it was pretty good. There were several intertwining plot lines, lots of laughs that weren't all about Tim Allen being fat and falling down, and the kids in the theatre seemed to enjoy it too. So, for what it is (clean family entertainment), it's actually pretty good.
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Rick Wakeman: Live (1990 Video)
Cheesy sounds, but outstanding production quality
19 December 2002
I saw the DVD version. The production quality is excellent: extremely sharp, crisp footage that focuses on Rick and what his hands are doing, and clear, well mixed sound. Unfortunately, the performance that is being so capably documented is not so great. Basically, Rick has chosen some breathtakingly cheesy keyboard sounds, and the musicians playing with him aren't all that great (or aren't having a good day). On top of that, the set design and the lighting are pretty damn cheesy too. Just to put my comments in context, I'm a serious Yes fan, a prog weenie, I've seen Rick in concert (performing with his son a few years ago), and I have a fair amount of tolerance for dorkiness in music, in the name of artistic experimentation and focusing on the positive stuff. This is just too much, though.

If you're a keyboard player or some other kind of musician, or just a Rick Wakeman fanboy/-girl/-bot who wants to sit and watch the guy's fingers fly so you can say "damn that guy is a good keyboard player", no problem. On the other hand if you are hoping to convince your significant other / friends / parents / pets that Rick Wakeman is the coolest guy ever and his music f'in rawks, forget it. You will only convince them that he is a middle-aged blond stubbly dork and that you listen to goofy music. Find some other concert recording and try that instead.
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Most realistic anime I've seen.
9 July 2001
I had very very high expectations for this movie and was slightly disappointed. It didn't grab me and suck me in, and so I'm mad at it. Now I will point out every little thing that wasn't absolutely perfect about it. Please take this with a grain of salt...

How do you evaluate a movie made entirely of CG? You could compare it to a normal special effects sci-fi film. You could compare it to previous all-CG films. You could compare it to a Japanese anime film.

Compared to a regular Hollywood blockbuster special effects film, the effects are much, much better. There isn't a familiar celebrity playing the lead role as in Tomb Raider... there aren't one liners when the hero kills bad guys... however, there are some issues with the more dramatic segments of the film. The more emotional scenes are a bit awkward, and could have been directed better. It's not a limitation of the technology, it's just bad directing. The action scenes lack urgency. At several points, a character is in mortal danger and has a means of escape, but for some reason chooses to sit there and ponder the situation for several seconds before finally deciding to fight inertia and get to safety. This is a typical action movie problem - it's hard to believe the danger when the actor doesn't seem concerned nor in a hurry.

Compared to an all-CG film, such as Toy Story 2, the effects are light years ahead. Square simply has fantastic artists, with vivid imaginations that produce breathtaking visuals. This movie will be everything that you hoped for if you looking for that. The animation itself could be better - at times (not just in zero-G scenes), it seemed like the characters were moving underwater, because they moved in such an unrealistically graceful and willowy way. The ultra-graceful slow wave of a hand through the air gets tiresome after the first time Aki does it. Real people are more herky-jerky than the characters in this movie, and you would think that motion capture would reflect that, but it doesn't. It's like they tried to capture the ideal "turn around and face the other person", the ideal "walk up this rocky hill", rather than what someone might actually do. Disney films and anime (which disney films are based on after all!) get human motion right, without the benefit of motion capture. In zero-G scenes this comes off very well, though; the grace is believable. Also, there are many, many places where lip synch is clearly off. Worse, there are scenes and angles from which characters don't look like the same person. Did they use high and low detail models for close-ups vs. group shots? If so, it shows; if not, I don't know what's going on, but sometimes, Aki didn't look right. You would expect that with a 3D model she would look consistently like Aki, but it isn't so. The same goes for all of the other characters. Finally, Grey looks far too much like Ben Affleck for it to be a coincidence. On the other hand, landscape scenes are gorgeous, the concepts behind computer interfaces of the future are very innovative, and in general everything other than the people looks amazing. The people look amazing in stills but not quite right in motion.

Compared to an excellent anime, this movie has a predictably bizarre and technomystical plot line. It lacks the typical anime cyborgs, cat/bunny girls, street hardened police, or pencilnecked geeks. Anime fans will feel at home with neato future tech stuff, cybermilitary gizmos, giant power stations, mega-cities, dramatic space scenes, and very strong female leads. Of course, the animation technique is totally different, and nobody goes superdeformed when they get embarassed or upset.

Don't get me wrong - Hironobu is a creative genius and I have enjoyed FF 7, 8, and 9, but apparently he has a bit to learn about dramatic film direction, and I look forward to seeing his develop these skills in his next film. This movie is a great starting point - the people look very much like real people, even if they don't move quite like they ought to. The concept art is clearly genius material as well; I can't imagine how much effort must have gone into actually modeling the phantoms. The love interest is there but doesn't overshadow the plot, and the bad guys are complex enough that it's hard to say they are really all bad.

Go see this movie, in a theater, and pay the outrageous prices; it's worth it. Pay close attention - there will be many derivative movies and hopefully sequels, and they will all have a major affect on the future of the art of filmmaking. You'll probably really enjoy it.
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Very funny, if not terribly original.
25 June 2001
Boy, there are a lot of good actors in this movie. Obviously Keanu isn't one of them but he's in the movie anyway. He does a good job of being opaque (wooden?), and it's OK because his character calls for him to be a washed-up jock and to play football, so it's not important that he can't convey subtle emotions. As usual Orlando Jones is very funny, as is Rhys Ifans (previously seen in Notting Hill as basically the same character, except this time he's an athlete instead of a couch potato). The whole replacement team is full of amusing characters, and the cheerleaders are *really* funny. Lots of individual original jokes and situations but the plot follows the typical underdog sports movie storyline. A great rental.
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Suits (1999)
Predictable but not bad.
23 June 2001
I saw this on cable and it was OK. VERY predictable overall; written like a 1 1/2 hour sitcom, but there were some pretty funny moments, and some creative bits added in that I didn't expect. Entertaining but not a life changing experience. I gave it a 6 out of 10.
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Indiana Jones, chick flick version. Pretty good.
13 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers

OK, so my summary is a troll, but I maintain that it's accurate. Romantic setting, romantic theme. Could be Romancing the Stone, could be Indiana Jones, could be Star Wars, but it's this movie instead: pretty brat falls for initially repulsive scoundrel over the course of a wild adventure. Scoundrel turns out to be a hero in disguise; brat turns out to be a sweetheart. Of course. Maybe it's obvious that the leading man and leading lady end up together but just in case, you were warned.

Predictable romantic plot aside, the movie was quite entertaining. As a Magnum P.I. fan I have to say Tom Selleck influenced me to like the film. He did a great job. Ms. Armstrong is no Hollywood sex bomb but she makes a good leading lady in the role of strong willed spoiled brat turned strong willed cutie. Great scenery during the voyage. Bentik and his assistant are pretty funny too. Nice battle scenes throughout. All in all, a winner for an afternoon cable movie or in-flight movie, an OK rental.
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Watch four hopeful, borderline desperate people suffer.
5 June 2001
This is not a "feel good" movie. This is not Trainspotting.

I loved Pi (same director as Requiem for a Dream) and I'm a big fan of the lovely Jennifer Connelly, and I heard that this was a good movie although Very Disturbing. Well, I thought I was ready since I've seen plenty of horror movies, a few "drugs screw up some lives" shows, etc. Wrong. In this movie, you first become attached to the characters. Although you know their choices are the wrong ones, you want things to work out OK. Then, you get to watch as their lives are destroyed.

This should definitely be mandatory viewing for rehab kids.
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Red Planet (2000)
Good; would be great if the pace were a bit faster.
3 June 2001
I read the reviews on IMDB before watching the movie, and decided to watch it anyway. A half hour in I was thinking, gosh this is pretty good, what were the other reviewers so disappointed by? The dialogue is pretty good, and yes there are some cliched statements by Mr. Chantilas (Terence Stamp) about religion, but I have some news for you: real people say stuff like that all the time... people like to make speeches in real life.

The downside of the movie is that about halfway through the excitement deflates somewhat. I think this would have been a really good movie if the pace and tension had been increased about 20%. There were some surprises but at times I could predict what was going to happen for the next 30 seconds or so. Even so, there were a lot of little things that made me like this movie: the cast, the special effects / eye candy, the sense of desolation on Mars, the way the characters interacted, and most of all, the little animated astronaut bear.

It's no masterpiece but it's pretty good; I wouldn't want to pay $17+ to see it in a theater but I'd recommend it for a rental under $5. You'd be lucky to get this as an in-flight movie. And yes, if you have a decent home theater setup, this movie will make you happy you do.
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Air Force One (1997)
Harrison Ford shouldn'ta done this.
29 May 2001
Predictable, jingoistic, pure hollywood junk food entertainment. Oooh, it's da pres-i-dent in dan-ger. Explosions, airplanes, Damn Russkies, fear of falling, "which wire do I cut?!?!?", will the plane pull up in time? You've seen it all 100 times before. It was so corny, I was waiting for Leslie Nielsen to appear. This is the kind of action movie that inspires shouting at the screen because the characters are so dumb... the flip side of "When I am an Evil Overlord", which is "when I am an action hero, I will...". I saw this at home on DVD, and I might add that even the soundtrack is annoying: it's so loud in the external shots that you want to turn the volume down, but then you can't hear the mumbled dialogue. Turn it up and you get your head blown off by special effects shots. There must be a kickback from Lucasfilm for making theatre audiences suffer overwrought THX usage behind this...

What a great cast, though. Harrison Ford rules. Gary Oldman rules. Jürgen Prochnow and William H. Macy, Dean Stockwell, wow, this is actually a really good cast. The real stars of Air Force One are Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins... the casting directors. Without this cast the movie is garbage.
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Heat (1995)
WOW. Flawless. Wish I had seen this in the theater.
22 May 2001
Great acting, great directing, GREAT writing. A must see. I didn't notice the 3 hours zooming by; I'm glad they took the time to develop the characters and plot fully before the climax because it was worth it; I really wanted both the good guy and bad guy to win, and had no idea what was coming next.
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Car Porn. Fast forward to the action.
9 May 2001
Another Hollywood "Blockbuster for Dummies" movie. Minimal plot, laughable dialogue, lots of eye candy. Why bother thinking up a plot when you can just do a remake? Looking at still images you might think this was a good movie. It makes for a good billboard / trailer / slurpee cup but not an entertaining experience. The cars are gorgeous. Fast forward through the non-action parts of this movie; you won't be missing anything. Then go watch The Italian Job with Michael Caine for a truly excellent car chase action movie.
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Johnny Depp shouldn't have done this.
9 May 2001
Seen The Devil's Advocate? Charlize Theron plays the same character. Let's see, she and her husband move to New York from Florida and she starts to wonder if she's going nuts because her husband is acting funny... only this time it's her sister who visits instead of her mother in law, and he's an astronaut instead of a lawyer. Yawn.

I am a big Johnny Depp fan, and I usually expect great things from him. This isn't one of them. He's basically just a stoic guy with a southern accent in this, who starts to act aggressively toward his wife. I don't know if it's just the script or if he didn't work on developing the character enough, but there just isn't a lot of complexity to this character for him to work with.

This could very easily be a short film, as in 20 minutes long, but instead it drags on and on. I get it, she's scared. I get it, something happened to the two astronauts when they were out of contact for two minutes. I was not emotionally involved by the end and I just kept watching out of curiosity... as in, OK, how is this dog going to end, what's the big secret about what happened up there and why he's acting so strangely? Big disappointment, I wish I had just given up 30 minutes in and done something entertaining with my time.
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