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MacGyver (2016– )
Far better second season
5 February 2018
The first few episodes of MacGyver 2016 were a bit James Bond/The Saint (Simon Templar)-like, too willing, and were not done with great care or great budgets. In time, it appears they found money and things got better. When the first few episodes were considered, the only good thing was the always great Lucas Till, but the rest of the show was not good at all. Season 1 of the series developed as the writers eventually found the voice/direction/formula they were looking for, and with the introduction of such characters as Murdoc, deeper looks into the characters, and the development of the eponymous character itself, things got better. I am very glad that I didn't stop watching it after the first few episodes. The second season is far better, and is getting better by episode, too. It had its below-par episodes but the general tone set in Season 2 is far better than the first season. Also, such great episodes as 2x09 or 2x15 make it far superior in quality to the earlier season. Also, Lucas Till is really looking great and doing a great job. I hope MacGyver will be given a 3rd series and more time and space (and funding) to develop its characters and storylines. Finally, it must be said that the best episodes are those in US soil and, to be utterly honest, most who watch it don't care about Bozer's spy school or development or his girlfriend at all. We are here for MacGyver and not for Bozer, Jack, or Riley's parental problems. Still, it's alright to know more about peripheral characters' backstories. Also, for those who think I didn't know the original, despite being one of the three great series of my childhood (Battlestar Galactica, MacGyver, and Dallas), the original Mac was solving a nuclear power plant meltdown with a tennis racket found in the control centre of the said power plant, so give Mr Till's MacGyver some slack.
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Far better than the beginning suggested
5 February 2018
I was one of those who had written a less than benevolent review at the end of Episode 1x04 of Star Trek: Discovery and had claimed the spoof Star Trek series The Orville was far better in understanding the Star Trek idea and universe than this new CBS-Netflix series. Boy, was I proven wrong! I am now writing this re-review at the end of Episode 1x14, the penultimate episode of Season 1, and I am really converted. ST Discovery proved to be an excellent series with great character development, good acting, and a good story arch that turned out to be solid, interesting, and gritty. I am so glad this series exists and I am very pleased to have been proven wrong. By the way, I didn't bother watching The Orville after episode 6 for it got boring, predictable, and it turned out that it didn't serve any purpose after all.
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Star Trek: Discovery: Into the Forest I Go (2017)
Season 1, Episode 9
Getting far, far better than the beginning.
19 November 2017
I had written a review of the show at the end of episode 4 and I wasn't positive at all. I am still bothered by the appearance of the Klingons (unless they will change with an incident to what we know of the Original Series), there are still strange mistakes where there shouldn't be any (e.g., why do we have a Vulcan admiral when we all know Spock was first Vulcan to serve in Star Fleet?), however, the show started to feel like Star Trek proper from episode 1x06 onward. Besides, never mind Star Trek proper, it has turned into a really good to watch show. I hope the trend continues after the series' year's end break. I am very satisfied with the show right now as episodes 1x06 through to 1x09 are really good episodes except for the bullshit about Sarek mind-meld and guilt trip. Interestingly, the series I had thought was better, The Orville, is trying too hard to become Star Trek that I am not even bothering to watch it after episode 6. Life is funny like that. Finally, one should really appreciate how great an actor Jason Isaacs is.
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29 October 2017
Is it possible that Star Wars: Rebels is going in the wrong direction? Or, is it because the writers don't have much to go with for a fourth season and the whole thing came to this? They made a long, useless saga with the episodes with Maul, and now it's Mandalorian power struggles that are boring us to within an inch of our lives. Sabine was the least interesting, most stereotypical character of the series and many a fan had expressed their relief when the character had chosen to go to Mandalore, an uninteresting planet with clans and which only has the Fett family for its claim to relevancy in the SW universe. Yet, now we are not only bang in the middle of a Mandalorian rescue mission but it's a two-parter and probably the useless Mandalorian game of thrones will cover an unnecessarily large portion of Season 4 of SWR. I hope the rest of the series will be more interesting to watch for this episode does not make one to come back and watch the rest next time.
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The Orville (2017– )
More Star Trek than ST alt universe and Discovery put together.
15 October 2017
The Orville is a comedy series set in a universe where we don't have United Federation of Planets of Star Trek but a Union that is very similar to it. It is centered around the crew of the Orville, a quantum-drive ship, and the series brings a great breath of fresh air to Science Fiction comedy/parody, to be honest. It is set in a derivative of Star Trek universe, yet, it pays so much homage and shows so much respect to the original Star Trek that it is actually more Star Trek at the core than the ST: Discovery or the JJ Abrams Star Trek alternate universe films. The ship, The Orville, is a Quantum-drive ship and has an elegant design. The actors are really good at where they are and their roles' development are well- planned. It is a well-thought-of series and most importantly manages what latest Star Trek offerings cannot do which is to establish a good, reliable environment, reliable background stories for characters, and be as Star Trek as can be while remaining a comedy series at the core. I am so glad to watch it and congratulations to Seth MacFarlane for making such a series for it is the best fanboy project I have ever seen.
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Not yet convinced after Episode 4.
15 October 2017
I waited till I saw the fourth episode of Star Trek: Discovery to write a review for I didn't want to be too early to pass judgement. And, my opinion has not changed much since the first ten minutes of the series. The show has many problems. The first problem appears to be the Klingons who are re-imagined, tougher and annoying looking creatures and they -at least in my case- cause a distraction from the subject matter for they shouldn't look like that. Unless the series ends with the incident that changes them temporarily into Russian-steppe-folk like they looked in the Original Series and their genetic reformation turned them into the Klingons of sequel series, then, we have a problem there. Secondly, the ships Discovery and Shenzhou don't look like anything Cpt. Archer or later Cpt. Kirk used but there were sketches, models, etc. in several ST source material that may justify the shape of the ships. Thirdly, the aims of Discovery doesn't seem too Star-Trek-ky; but, if the fan theory is right and the NCC-1031 is actually the beginnings of Section 31, then, it is understandable. Fourthly, there are small details that might annoy the truer fans than I am: each ship should have a unique emblem and theirs is the same in all ships we have seen, Klingons again, Walker-class ships seem to be too advanced compared to Enterprise ships of both TOS and ST: Enterprise.

However, the biggest problem is in the characters: one doesn't want to be involved with them, one doesn't appreciate them, one doesn't establish empathy with them. Lieutenant Michael Burnham is aloof, problematic, and yet turns into a defendant of all Star Trek values -and, she's the adopted sister of the greatest legend of them all, Spock! She doesn't make me learn how her story develops. Michelle Yeoh's Captain Georgoiou is too nice to be three- dimensional and maybe it is good that she didn't last that much. The only interesting character is the captain of the Discovery, that is Jason Isaacs' Captain Gabriel Lorca. However, Lorca is just a vengeful, bitter character just like Ahab of Moby Dick and we had that with Picard, thank you very much. Also, I am not sure there are too many who wants to know how the Klingon war-birds had cloaking technology and Starfleet didn't have. In short, the series, despite using some new tech CGI and having great set design, is not very brilliant. The effort of explaining an "incident" referred to in series "set chronologically later" is a valiant effort but the cast, writing, and characterizations are not very good. Unless they do something really radical at the remaining 2/3 of the series, it won't be a great success story, I am afraid. Besides, knowing that Seth MacFarlane's comedic take on the Starfleet universe, The Orville does everything by the book despite not being canonical Star Trek, makes it even worse for the Discovery.
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Inhumans (2017– )
A mess in the making
15 October 2017
After four episodes, Marvel's Inhumans still didn't convince me for it has great drawbacks. The main problem is to ask from the audiences to root for a royal family that doesn't do things right in the first place. In Attilan, there was a terrible cast system that sends normal humans into mines and reveres those who have capabilities. Any revolution is a step forward from this even with Iwan Rheon's Maximus on the throne. Secondly, the characters we want to establish contact if not empathy with are not sympathetic or intriguing or impressive, most are very dull and frankly are portrayed by not very good actors (or good actors who aren't well directed). The only two characters that shine with their actors' acting prowess are Rheon's Maximus (BTW, Rheon is very interesting to watch both in Game of Thrones and Inhumans as a good villain after his doe-eyed out-of-towner in the wonderful comedy series Vicious! With Sir Derek Jacobi and Sir Ian McKellen) and the wonderful young Ari Dalbert's Bronaja. And, guess what, Ari Dalbert is only in 3 episodes according to the IMDb, and, to be honest, his was the only character whose development I would like to follow during the series arch! So, the stories are not too interesting, the characters are not noteworthy, the script is not great, and the one character that might be interesting is not around when he should be the centre of attention not only because he was the first spoken character that we encountered in the first scene of the show. I hope things go upwards from this point -which is the end of Episode 4- but I have great doubts, because the series seems to go the way of I Am Number Four which isn't great for a series that asks so many questions about equality, development, and being different.
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Qui sème l'amour... (2016 TV Movie)
Great romantic comedy
29 December 2016
I really loved this TV film. In terms of plot, Qui Seme l'Amour is your basic romantic comedy and yet it has a warmth that is lacking in many others these days. Also, the setting, a farm/countryside, makes it different. The characters differ from usual romantic comedy job-pool: Julie, the farm manager; Djibril the medical technician who ran from Mali's war-zone and not too unhappy with work as a farmhand; Huguette, the children's books' author, all the half-crazed village people, are bringing a new freshness to the genre's handling. As for the cast, David Baiot is like a young (and black) Jean-Paul Belmondo as he is extremely charming and has a great relationship with the camera. Evelyne Buyle is formidable and Julie de Bona does a very good job. The characters in the village café and their endless and cute betting games are great additions to the story and cause smiles and create more depth to the film's development. I'd look out in the future for all in the cast, especially Mr Baiot.
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MacGyver (2016– )
A far cry from the original for the wrong reasons
18 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
MacGyver of the 1980s was original, interesting, and, most importantly, was not pretentious. It was a clever show made with a somewhat limited budget and yet with its ingenious plots and the likable eponymous character, it was a very fun show to watch. The prodigy Angus MacGyver would try to stop a huge explosion in a nuclear power plant's control room with duct tape AND a tennis racket somehow placed in the said control room, but it was fun and Richard Dean Anderson was so good in the part that you'd suspend belief and watch it having fun.

Now it is 2016 and MacGyver is back. I am writing this after watching the first 11 episodes. The show still tries to be fun, sympathetic to kids and grown-ups (and as the new market targets tweens) alike, and have good tricks to make it feel genuinely MacGyver-like. However, there is something lacking in this new version.

I really love Lucas Till who plays Angus MacGyver and always believed he had to deal with roles that were beneath his level as an actor and so felt great when I heard he'd be on TV playing Angus MacGyver himself and I still believe he is the right choice for such a role. Mr Till does a really good job updating the great TV hero to the 21st century. Also, the series focuses on Mac's inventions and inventiveness, he still doesn't use guns, and, the cinematography is really in par with the best of the rest.

Good things I have to say about the series end there, unfortunately. George Eads was annoying in CSI and is still annoying here; Bozer is not well-written and after 11 episodes the audiences haven't yet seen why the character is there -he doesn't help with any plot developments, any character developments, and we are constantly told he is Mac's best friend since 5th grade and yet this fact doesn't incorporate itself into the story-line. The hacker character Riley and the boss Ms Thornton are filling some necessary spots but they could be named anything else and still fill the gap.

The worst part is that the new MacGyver tries to be upmarket but does not pay attention to details that count. As I mentioned above, the original series was not trying to be extremely high-quality and so inconsistencies were easily overlooked by the audience. The new, revamped series looks far richer in budget as can be seen the quality of cinematography. However, there are some unforgivable problems in production design. The settings are awful, especially when there is a foreign adventure.What is to stand as streets in Latvia or Turkey are just some back alleys in some North American location and they are obvious. The Latvians use road signs and SUVs as Americans do. In what appears to be Ankara, Turkey, there are posters in Arabic writing while the Turks write with Latin letters for the past century. East European storage depots look and feel American to the end as what is probably the Balkans looks more like California. In the original series, we were pretending with MacGyver and foreign lands were foreign to our imagination. In the post-internet age, the whole foreign countries settings look dated, second-rate, and it is sure that the crew didn't work on creating suitable settings. That is the biggest blow to the new series.

At the end of the day, the outrageous but likable scientific shenanigans are still cute, Lucas Till does a good enough job, but we need something better than what we are offered at the moment if the series will have a long run for the times changed and we changed with them.
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Rogue One (2016)
Not what I had expected
14 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is not what I expected to see, especially after superb reviews, one of which even claimed it to be "the best Star Wars movie of all eight" -so far. They either have watched Star Trek films instead of Star Wars or were way too afraid of some fan backlash, I can't think of any other reasonable explanation. Anyway, never trust anyone who calls a "film" a "movie". This is not the best of all SW films, it probably is not the 7th best either -and yes, I mean you, JarJar Binks! Basically, it's a battlefront film (don't think Xbox, think more like Iraq or Afghanistan) based on the Star Wars universe with Bail and Leia Organa, Vader, Tarkin, and mention of a certain Wedge Antilles; and also some parts reminded me very heavily a certain 007's adventures in Cuba in "Goldeneye". Perhaps it is best to think of this as the "3rd Moon of Endor" sequence extended to over 2 hours. So, in a nutshell; was it a good film? Yes. Cinematography, CGI, acting (except F. Withaker), Lord Vader doing Vader-like things were all great. However, the film didn't appeal to me. It had no good vs. evil balance, no reason for the viewer to sympathize with the Rebels or the main characters, and, no ideology -in the G. Lucas sense of the concept-. At the end of the day, it was just a get-in-get-the-goods- get-out-or-die-trying kind of job. I don't know but I can count at least 5 films that followed the same routine and did it with one tenth of the budget and better, too. I for one, was mildly entertained but was not left flabbergasted by it. It was an alright film, I am not sorry I watched it. Yet, the major question is whether I or anyone else would part with their money to see it a second, third, or more times? I believe the answer is "No" and that is a problem, for sure. I hope they do a better job with Episode 8.
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Cashback (2006)
May become my all-time favourite.
12 December 2008
I had first seen Cashback as a short film (see Cashback (2004) on IMDb). It was excellent and I had just watched it in the first place for it had Sean Biggerstaff as the lead -he was excellent in "The Winter Guest" and I wanted to see his performance seven years later. That wee film blew my mind. When the long version of "Cashback" was out, I had doubts as I didn't know how they'd extend a very-well made short film to a 102-minute job. The answer, as I found out, was "excellently." This film is so different and yet so much the same at times (I mean, one-on-one, shot-by-shot same) as the short version, however you believe you watch a completely different story and yes, it is. So, enough with the shorter version and let's talk about this as a separate film.

It is excellently made. The budget isn't exactly great obviously and yet you don't need any big spending for this. The script, with its characters and its fiction is matchless, perfect. The secondary cast is also excellent, they support the main story with lots of laughter and beauty. Emilia Fox is great as the beautiful Sharon because she's not only beautiful but also can act her socks off. As for Sean Biggerstaff, he never stops to amaze me with his performances. I could write a lot about him, but let me just say he is one son of Glasgow who should make the city proud as hell, just like James McAvoy. These two Glaswegians, Biggertaff and McAvoy, are truly tremendous Scots actors and I wish there were true equivalents of theirs in the States...

To sum up, it's a fantastic film, fantastically made, and surely as it's a feel-good film you wouldn't expect philosophical solutions to change your life, but if the industry's name is entertainment, then it's what it does perfectly: It keeps you entertained and makes you feel great at the end, and makes you leave the cinema or the couch by the telly feeling very positive about good scriptwriting, great directing, and very good, very impressive acting. What else can you ask off of a film, really? As I said at the heading, this superb British independent film may become my all-time favourite film and that says a lot, does it not?
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Keith (I) (2008)
Excellent little gem of a film.
11 December 2008
I must admit after its release was so much delayed, I had a bad feeling about "Keith." I was also afraid to see Jesse McCartney trying to be himself and failing miserably as he did when he guest-starred in Hannah Montana. I was so much surprised...

The subject is familiar, so there are no great surprises there. Opposites attract, and as we are in the 21st century, there must be a twist in the storyline. However, it's a generally well put-together script and the dialogs aren't to make you run away. The tension between the lead characters is well balanced, so no problem there either. The storyline with the South American student who looked older than some parents there was a bit too pushy, too in-your-face, but one has to tell a story somehow, right? Direction and photography were well adequate and better than some such films, so that too is a plus.

However, the main standing point of this film is its acting. Jesse McCartney is back in form, i.e. as good as he was nominated for Emmy awards. His phrasing, accent, facial gestures, pacing are spot on. He really shows how good an actor he is (actually, as good as, if not better than, Aaron Johnson or Sean Biggerstaff from the other side of the Atlantic) and it's a good thing that he finally is there not trying to hide his imperfect skin, feeling no problem with the bush that he has to wear as his hair, and really involved and involving as an actor. Elisabeth Harnois is also showing great talent, at times overacting or underacting, but she's a really well-thought lead.

All in all, it's a touching, beautifully told film based on a great short story by Ron Carlson. I am most glad it's finally out and I am very much pleased to see this little gem of a film. I recommend it without any doubt; go see/rent it.
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Good film, but want my Bond back next time, please...
9 December 2008
Quantum of Solace turned out to be above my expectations. It's a well-made film, mostly well-acted, the script wasn't as much a collection of stunts put together or a full-length product-placement exercise (as Tomorrow Never Dies was the worst ever example for both), and I quite began to like Daniel Craig as 007. It's also good to see how James Bond became James Bond that we knew and loved. The experiences beginning with his achieving double-0 status and ending with the sentence "I never left" showed how and why 007 is so insensitive and carefree at times, how he can happily run into trouble and kill on Her Majesty's secret service, how he chose to drink vodka-martini shaken, not stirred and so on.

However, I believe enough is enough. I want to see the gun-barrel opening credits at the beginning of the film and not in an uber-stylized manner at the end, I want to have less aesthetic concerns in all scenes, I want the Q Branch involved ("Now, pay attention, 007"), I want gadgets, I want to hear very distinctly the James Bond Theme at "Bond Moment" signature scenes, not at the end credits. I am a fan, I have all the films on DVD, and not having these in the films bother me. In Casino Royale, there was a concern about how Bond became a person whose name would mean something to anyone when he utters it; in this film, we saw many elements of his "later" persona shape up, however, I guess the third Craig film should be the one with the olden signature elements back in action, because 3 films in a row without the Bond Theme in key action scenes, Q Branch, or other Bond elements would mean a new generation of teens may grow up without knowing why Bond is that important, and I believe, I hope rather, the producers don't aim at that...
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Hannah Montana: That's What Friends Are For? (2007)
Season 2, Episode 18
Jake is back, so are good plot lines.
20 October 2007
This episode not only is the much-anticipated return of Jake Ryan character to the series, but also is probably the season finale for the second season of Hannah Montana.

That's also an episode which shows very clearly how great an improvement the Jake Ryan story lines and the actor Cody Linley provide for the series. The Hannah - Jake relationship gives more meaning and much-needed non-absurd comic relief. The Mikayla - Hannah rivalry, the relationship of Hannah with other people and things (like the z-phone of the previous episode)don't really offer enough solid ground to the show to go forward. I hope Cody Linley is to be offered a season-long contract this time instead of the traditional "let's do the season finale with you" approach, because he has everything to save the show from going utterly silly and pointless at times.
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Nightfall (2000 Video)
Grave insult to Grand-Master Asimov
30 December 2002
As an Isaac Asimov fan, and sharing the idea that "Nightfall One," his SF story is possibly the best SF story ever written with many others, I had hopes on this film. It's nothing like the story, there's nothing in common other than there are six suns around the planet, there's a scientist, and the night surely falls to madden people who had never experienced a night for 1,000 years. The film is totally crap, acting is awful, the script's based on the astronomer's stupid daughter's antics and a shabby love-story between her and a priest/guard, and I simply can't believe how Asimov's estate allowed this piece of crap to be filmed. It's surely an abomination to the works and memory of the great master of Science-Fiction and I am totally appalled by the awfulness, stupidity, shallowness, and total lack of respect to the original script. The characters in the short story then became characters of a novel -not as good- by Asimov and Robert Silverberg, but nothing in it suggested such terrible imagination at the part of the script-writer. I, for one, am ashamed of this whole effort and I hope the video ruts in shelves. It is, in short, a grave insult to a wonderful author who gave us everything modern SF is working with from robots to the main ideas of the Star Wars, Star Trek (even Star Trek's famous insignia is from Asimovian Empire's starship-and-sun sign), and many other films and novels. Pity that Asimov (with the probable exception of Fantastic Voyage) could never be cinematised correctly. I mean, when I watched Bicentennial Man, I had felt betrayed. As to this abomination, I can't find enough words to abhor it. May its producers, actors, and script-writers rot in Hell!
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The White Shadow (1978–1981)
One hell of a good show, indeed.
4 November 2001
"The White Shadow" was my favourite TV-series when I was a ten-year old. As a member of a soccer-crazy nation, it had hit me and a generation of Turks like no other show had. That, I may easily claim, has been the TV show that turned basketball in Turkey from a fringe sport no-one cared about to a sport everyone wanted to participate in. Many who didn't know there was such a sport had become addicts to basketball league games, and the relationship between the team-members at Carver High has become an inspiration to high-school pupils. Now, since the recent Euro'Basket 2001, the TRT TV has began to run the series again. I am very glad to see my wee nephews watch it with the same enthusiasm as I did when I was their age. That's due to the fact that the characters were well-written, the subjects very-well chosen, and the acting was pure brilliant. I don't know if any other high-school drama can match it years later in terms of its density, strength, and meaningfulness. I'm glad it was on years ago, I'm glad they show it again in 2001. Pity Ken Howard and the rest of the cast couldn't make it as big as they deserved later on. One thing is for sure, though, they'll always be remembered as Coach Reeves, Coolidge, Salami, Thorpe and so...
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A human story in a harsh battle environment. Superb!
20 July 2001
Enemy At The Gates is a film that I have gone to see, not because I have heard rumours about its budget, not because I was bombarded in the media about how it is filmed, how many great co-stars and stars were in it, but simply because I happened to go see it with my friends and it was on the Battle of Stalingrad, with no great expectations. I knew Jean-Jacques Annaud was a good director but I didn't know how he could manage to make a war film, as all his previous stuff were human stories (yes, even L'Ours was) and didn't involve too much action; I mean, Name of the Rose is hardly in the same league as your average Steven Segal film, is it? When I walked out of the theatre, though, I was stunned. I was so absorbed in the film that I didn't even notice how the time passed. I felt the Battle of Stalingrad, I was there, I shared the terror in the faces of the army recruits when they see the battle for the first time when they open the train cart's gate, I felt the Soviet soldiers' dilemma when they were either killed by the Nazis if they went ahead or by their own commanders if they returned. It was the best film set in war that I've seen in a long time, and is surely in the same level as with Tora, Tora, Tora. Besides, I was sort of right, as Annaud had made a war film based heavily on a human story which made it even stronger. The Enemy at the Gates may be compared to the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, but while that film then becomes a classic Spielberg film in the latter stages, this one remains that tense for the whole length of the film. The acting of Jude Law and Gabriel Marshall-Thompson (the informer kid), Bob Hoskins, and of Rachel Weisz are very neat and makes you be part of the story, but it is Ed Harris that makes the greatest impact. Harris has charisma leaking down his trousers, something that can be equalled only by the likes of Sir Sean Connery, Bob DeNiro, and Jack Nicholson. Besides, the script is very well-written and very well-fitting, plausible, and convincing. This film which shows us how to do a film that represents the war is heads and shoulders above the $270m flop Pearl Harbor and surely is one of the best films of the year, along with Hannibal and Shrek who lead, to my opinion, their own genres in the past season. Anyone who is interested in World War II, or in films that show the human condition, must watch this film. It's a must-see. Really!
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Pearl Harbor (2001)
Overkill is the word for Pearl Harbor. Pity!
20 July 2001
Now, Disney knows one thing very well, and that is trivialising and sentimentalising a story and presenting even the most tragic events as if it's another happy day for Lassie. This works in Lassie, or in Free Willy, when we see the relationship between a poor animal in danger and a poor, lonely, but gifted kid. However, this same Disney formula that worked with many films made Pearl Harbor a total flop. Its subject is one of the most tragic events in World War II and never understands what it is talking about. It tells us the story of a pilot with dyslexia and his best friend with an awful background narrative, puts in a love triangle which doesn't make one want to know what will happen next as we already may guess what's to happen from the 10th minute of the film. Besides, as it's Disney, we know that one has to die, and bravely so that the remaining friend gets the girl as he already deserved. The story that tells us about the real event is very poorly told as if it's not a $270m production but a high-school drama on very limited resources and which can't be bold enough to say the things it might actually want to say. So, we keep wondering why the President is first uninterested then becomes too involved in a Japanese attack on the Pacific, we don't understand whether the character played by Mr. Aykroyd is there to show the human side of events or how his incompetence caused the loss of many soldiers' lives in Pearl Harbor, we don't see why the colonel played by Mr. Baldwin is actually joking about shirts when nearly his entire fleet is bombed to dust and so on. Thus, the script sucks. Acting, though names are good and great, is second-rate, with the exception of Cuba Gooding, jr., who surely is cast to have some African-Americans watch the film. However, I'm not sure if he or anyone really undertstood what his part is about: A black cook fights for respect, and then gets caught in the battle and sees his captain die and tries to shoot some Japanese fighter planes and fails. This doesn't really make one want to go and hug African-Americans or weep for what a brave transformation this man experienced. That we see his boxing opponent while trying not to drown doesn't make anything any better, either, as it seems to say `See, this bulky guy wasn't good at the ring and isn't good at saving himself and his mates from death, either. Failure once,...' The romantic scenes are as if they are from a primary school skit, so I'm not bothering to talk on them. The scenes at the hospital when things go mad made me feel disoriented from the film with all those stupid games with light exposure, that thing didn't work on Traffic, doesn't work here, won't work anywhere else, directors should just stop doing this. Besides, dialogues were shabby, most characters were cartoonish, and although there were some Disney moments when one wanted to weep for the heroes' friendship, the whole bunch of characters failed to impress me. And, that's the worst part, really: You don't want to be absorbed in the story of characters that don't affect you. The love theme in Titanic was as bad if not worse than this one, but Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet made us watch the film with their brilliance. Here, however, it can't be done because Ben Affleck isn't actually a good leading actor, and Josh Hartnett is nowhere near a Ryan Phillippe or Leo DiCaprio so that we may feel the need to devote ourselves to his character's story. What we have here is a couple of farmboys who love the same nurse and who know to do one good number on air, risking their lives and the resources of the country. Had the leads been, say, Ryan Phillippe and Jonathan Brandis, instead of Affleck and Hartnett, things might be far different as their auras would make the film watchable and perhaps enable it to profit. In addition, I must admit I am surprised to see Kate Beckinsale who was brilliant in Shooting Fish to be this motionless, motiveless, looking either depressed or bored all through the film. To sum it up, although the battle scenes were spectacular (despite one feels the CGI effects every now and then) and the cast was full of well-known actors, the film is a case of overdosing of many a stories into one. This formula had worked in Braveheart that Randal Wallace had also written because Sir William Wallace and his alter-ego Mel Gibson were full of charisma, but it miserably fails this time as the film suffers from the overkill effect. It might have been a far better movie with an hour or more of it cut out. It would have been good if we knew the names of the other pilots rather than that of the nurses, if we followed the stories of the two friends who believe in fighting for their country and the good of humanity, and had the film centred on the attack and the Washington DC events; not on the lousy love story which made me look for a sick-bag at times. I felt really bad about this film as I had some hopes as it tells a strong historical story and I liked Ben Affleck as an actor. I must say, I'm gravely disappointed at the end. For those who might like this one, I very strongly recommunend to see Enemy at the Gates as it was the best war film with a romance sub-theme. Pearl Harbor's director and actors and producers should watch it and weep in shame after they see how the scenes of war that can touch the very heart of the audience can be filmed and what good acting is.
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The Match (1999)
A superb feelgood film.
18 August 2000
Now this one is a remarkable little gem. The plot is very sympathetic, it has no great ambitions to prove it's a box-office topper, it has a kindness and warmth many a film lack these days, or even, I dare say, these decades. This film is proof that we still need a British film industry, for it has a very strong cast, a very well-written script, and very human elements to deal with. The film really aims at your heart and hits. It's funny, it's real, it is alive. The British these days are really very good at making films that are about all things human but which are not boring; this one is a very good example of it along with Notting Hill, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and The Full Monty (yes, NH is actually US-backed, but it is typically English). When Americans try to be this life-like, the result is as boring as Dancer, Texas, pop. 81. I had just picked this one up for it starred Max Beesley that I had liked at the TV series Tom Jones and the ever-charming Richard E. Grant. I am very pleased that I made a very right decision not only for the two were great to watch -especially Beesley proves he is a very good and versatile actor and he manages a near-perfect West of Scotland accent unlike Richard E. Grant- but for it is a very good film as well. The acting's brilliant, the main event so small and unimportant that it proves life is not actually about saving the world from great enemies of humanity but is a structure made out of small, delightful and not-so-delightful elements; and that love, friendship, competition, are all nice, human desires and are there to be shared. This is one hell of a feel-good film and I hope anyone seeing this review will watch it. It'll make you feel good and human, too. This is the very film if you're feeling bored of all the Cruises, Damons, Willises of Hollywood, for it proves how you can be a very good actor and still not play-act as well. I definitely recommend this to anyone who still thinks cinema is about things human and not necessarily expensive and superhuman/surreal/ridiculous.
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Titan A.E. (2000)
Cool SF cartoon.
18 August 2000
Titan AE is an excellent piece of work. It has the mainstream Science-Fiction story with a good-to-follow, clear, and zestful plot, it has amazing special effects and computer generated images, good drawings for characters, and, it even has Matt Damon as the lead voice. It is a remarkable SF cartoon which is far better than many a sci-fi film. That is, if we overlook the badly conceived ending which makes us believe that a planet may be formed off of ice blocks in about an hour or a week or whatever! Yet, it is a must-see for teenagers of all ages and I'd rather this to Babylon-5 anytime.
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Harrison Bergeron (1995 TV Movie)
Interesting, but nowhere as good as it could be.
11 August 2000
Having seen the film and red the comments in here, here's what I have to say about Harrison Bergeron: First of all, acting: Sean Astin is the obvious wrong choice for the lead in this TV film. A better choice from within the cast would be his brother Mackenzie, but I guess the perfect Harrison would be Jonathan Brandis as he has eyes that pour out intelligence, the convincing looks that he may be darn intelligent - and even athletic- as Harrison Bergeron is described in the original story. Sean Astin looks too old, too fat, too short for the part and most important of all, he looks as if he is Forrest Gump and it's definitely not what Harrison Bergeron should be represented as. Astin doesn't look smart enough to work at the till at the local supermarket and give the right change to you, never mind masterminding a third American Revolution. The scene when he takes over the broadcasting room and becomes excited about watching and broadcasting all those "gems" of the past is pretty bad and badly acted, but the part when he pretends to conduct an orchestra is, in one word, pathetic. It's the nadir of the film and any scene anytime can't be worse, to my opinion. Miranda de Pencier seemed too old for her role and surely doesn't look at all like the love interest able to create an obsession for someone as smart and (supposedly) cool as Harrison. Christopher Plummer was the best-cast actor, and I can't think of anyone better than him to play Klaxon. Secondly, in terms of dialogue, the script looked too confused to say anything at all: There were too many cheesy, useless dialogues, to the extent of rubbish like "You stupid boy. She was pregnant," as if Harrison's suicide was created by a problem of love, and no, it wasn't. Besides, the education system didn't really convince me at all for most seemed to deliberately forget the answers or answer wrongly to the teacher's questions. Anyone as smart as Harrison should learn in four years in the same class that he should shut up and say "I don't have a clue," instead of telling who did what in the American War of Independence. Besides, he looked as if he repeated stuff he had learned by heart, and it's not what I call smartness. Yet, it's a shortcoming of the Vonnegut story as well as of the film. I didn't bother too much about the now infamous Macaulay Culkin dialogue I red a lot about in the above comments, for I am sick of the fact that anytime someone mentions a film of quality from the 20th century, it must either be Casablanca -which is not credible enough in the year 2000 never mind 2053-, Citizen Kane -which is incomprehensibly boring for most people-, or It's A Wonderful Life. Why can't it be Star Wars, Silent Movie, or Apocalypse Now, for instance, for a change? Or, why should it be Beethoven who creates the immortal music but not Queen with Bohemian Rhapsody? And, if the rulers of the future so refined, why can't we see them wear better clothes than what Chairman Mao would prefer to wear? Why should the people of the future wear dull, grey clothes; work and live in dull, confined, grey spaces which look like the interior of a crowded submarine; and never seem happy or joyful and never make any jokes at all? One day, someone must portray a far different future than this. Overall, I guess Harrison Bergeron is a well-made TV-film, with an emphasis on the words 'TV-film'. The problem is it can't pass for a real movie. It is too crowded with too many ideas so that they are either misrepresented, mis-emphasised or look silly; besides the film looks cheap, it has terrible acting at parts, but it is surprisingly all right to watch most of the time, too. I was far less bored and irritated than I thought I would be, and I believe that's a good point on the film's behalf. Yet, I sincerely hope there will be a better director with more resources and a better cast who will try to remake it sometime, for it's too good a story to be told like this. Finally, after all is said and done, the film may still be considered a success when one compares it to what they've done to Grand-Master Asimov's Bicentennial Man with a big budget and with a star as famous as Robin Williams as its lead.
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The Beach (I) (2000)
Interesting, but too Danny Boyle.
3 April 2000
I just watched The Beach and I was surprised that it was better than my expectations. Danny Boyle has done a good job with the directing and the d.o.p. was really successful. However, I believe the novel version had more philosophical strength to it, and the film lacked the novel's interesting philosophy. As it's cinema, I guess it's an all right adaptation. However, one must tell Danny Boyle to cut down the amount of first-person narratives, since in The Shallow Grave it was innovative, in Trainspotting it was well-integrated into the narrative, yet now, in The Beach, it's plain boring at times.
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Notting Hill (1999)
Usual romantic comedy, but great screenplay.
6 January 2000
"Notting Hill" is an interesting romantic comedy, with two nice differences: Firstly, it is very well written, nearly as cleverly and as good as "Analyze This" and "As Good As It Gets." The relationships in the film are usual (half-witted but nice young man, beautiful and rich and clever but down-to-earth young woman, interesting but clueless bunch of friends, odd flatmate, close bond among a group of losers, funny helper at the shop...) to see in a romantic comedy (e.g., Pillow Talk had such interesting and actually non-existing but believable people), and the formula is pretty straightforward: Impossible love becomes possible after a series of strange events. Yet, the relationship between the people in the film and the lines they are delivering (Hugh Grant's "Surreal but nice" was a gem, so was the story about honey-soaked apricots and every word off of the mouth of Spike the subtenant) are wonderfully planned. The texture of the story is really wonderfully woven and fits together enormously well. You believe the story the screenwriter tells you, because it is easy to believe that such a story might actually have taken place. Secondly, the acting is brilliant. Hugh Grant is really believable as the half-witted holiday-bookshop owner and Julia Roberts shines in this performance (well, she sort of plays her real self, the international superstar, does she not?), yet the supporting cast, most from favourite TV series of Britain (from "Thin Blue Line" to "the Vicar of Dibley") are excellent. At the end, because of these two reasons, a film which tells you a run-of-the-mill fairytale becomes a real gem of a story to watch. It is easy and fun to watch, it is believable, and it is really funny nearly all the time. "Notting Hill" is a must see and I really mean it.
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Analyze This (1999)
Best comedy in ages
20 September 1999
I wasn't really expecting much on my way to cinema, however, boy was I wrong! Analyse This is wonderfully well written, acted, and directed. Nothing goes wrong, there is not a mistake in the acting nor the story. Besides, I hadn't laughed this much since I can't remember which comedy (possibly Mel Brooks' To Be or Not to Be). It's a must-see for everyone who has a need to laugh watching something requiring more IQ than your average Jim Carrey film or those comedies as the Waterboy.
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The Matrix (1999)
Good special effects, but no originality at all.
10 September 1999
"Ignorance is bliss" as they say in the film. You go in without any knowledge of the Science-Fiction literature and you enjoy the film, you go in the theatre with some SF knowledge, the amount of rip-off and open plagiarism annoys you like hell. The Matrix is as if the screenwriter decided to use parts of his fave SF stories and made up a story to bind them all: The Second Foundation Trilogy, all that's written by William Gibson, Ender's Game by O.S. Card, Star Trek's holodeck concept, references to Terminator films, and to Cliff Simak's short stories, and more and more show up in the film. And with awe and horror I saw Obi-Wan and young Luke in the Morpheus - Neo dialogue somewhere in the first 30 minutes of the film; even the music was a la Star Wars at that moment. I guess they thought "most people stop reading SF after they are 20 years old, so they either won't bother or won't remember" which is a crying shame. However, giving the devil its due, the special effects are interesting, the pace is high and the music/sound effects are deafening, therefore The Matrix becomes an interesting spectacle, but it's still hollow, borrowed, and plundered from others' decent works. Pity. I wish it were "the" SF film people were talking about. Did you notice, I didn't write even a single word about Keanu Reeves' expressionless, lifeless, face.
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