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Lost Souls (2000)
Director Didn't Understand Plot
Listening to the director's comment track on the DVD makes it obvious that he did not understand the story and background at all. His focus was on the cinematography which is understandable since this is his main occupation. This was his first director job. He did not understand the religious parts of the film at all. This led to many faults that were not resolved. He stated he did not want to do what "The Exorcist" had done so refused to clarify the story. He was the wrong person to direct this film and it shows.He stated that he took the original script and completely reworked it from the original intent. It is obvious he did not know the religious ideas therefore making a mess of what could have been a really good film.
I remember this TV production well. Even in black and white, it was a magical show. The cast was perfect. The songs are all outstanding. The duet with Patrice Munsell and Vic Damone of "It Might Have Been" is really terrific. The whole cast was just right. There have been other musical versions of "Christmas Carol" but this is definitely the best. The story was narrated by the Four Lads as a group of carolers with the excellent song, "Stingest Man In Town".I am lucky to have the cast recording on an LP and also the stage script with the music. Both are real treasures for me. Many of the old TV shows are making their way to DVD now and this is one that definitely should be released on disc. While the cartoon is nice, it just does not hold the magic of the original live broadcast. This is one of my fondest memories of Christmases long ago.
The Ten Commandments (2006)
This was a very disappointing production but better than the over blown DeMille version.Both versions are unwatchable.
Granted it was probably more authentic in showing the lives of the people and their long journey. But it was 2 hours too long. How much of colorless people wandering the desert can hold attention? Dougray Scott was no Moses with his perpetual expression that looked like he had constant stomach pains. Also, why was he made up to look like a Christ figure. Why was he dressed in red when everyone else was in drab shades of brown and gray - BIG mistake. Instead of awe at the burning bush, there was that pained expression. The director should have corrected this.
This version of the "Commandments" story certainly does not merit repeated viewings.
The big problem with this film is the title "Cutting Edge 2". If it had only the second part for the title, "Going for the Gold", there probably would not have been some of the negative comments. If a person is willing to take the film on it's own merits and not compare it to the other "Cutting Edge", it is a very good entertaining experience. There is a lot of fun in the male character and his reactions to figure skating. The whole sequence with the little girls teaching him to skate, while improbable, is fun. The way he pushes the former single skater to try new things is really great. He is the "Cutting Edge" that finally wins over the girl. He lives on the edge and teaches her to enjoy life and it's challenges.
For the person who stated that the Olympice represented here were the Alberville, France games, they certainly did not pay attention to the film as it was clearly stated in a subtitle that the scene was in Turino, Italy.
It is so easy to be negative and be stupidly clever in making remarks that people forget to enjoy a rather fun film. It was simply meant to give an enjoyable experience and it certainly does that in spades.
Boring and improbable
At least for the first episode, this new series was boring and padded to the extreme. It was hard to relate to the math genius character. He spent most of his time scribbling equations on a blackboard (or white board) and who knew if they were accurate or even real equations - who cared. The cast was good, but the idea and execution of this series leaves a lot to be desired. Take away all the scribbling of equations and there was about 20 minutes of actual story.David Krumholtz (better known for playing Bernard, the elf with attitude in the two "Santa Clause" films)was very good as the math genius, Rob Morrow had very little to do as his brother an FBI agent, but did it well and Jud Hirsh was completely wasted as their father. If this series is to be a success, the producers should stop the excessive use of the written equations.
The 4400 (2004)
If the advertised final episode shown on August 8 was really the end of the series, it left a lot of unanswered questions. It was more like the cliff hanger endings for show that will sometime be back. If this is what will happen, the viewers should have been made aware of it.
Up to this "final"? It was a great series. The writing and acting were really excellent. Most of the actors were not familiar faces and this made the whole series more interesting. It proved that you don't need "stars" to make an excellent production.
USA really has some of the best shows on the air with "Monk", "Dead Zone" and this one.
Horrible Less than Amateur Mess
There is not one good thing that can be said about this awful film. The "acting" was horrible. To even call it acting is an insult to real actors. It was worse than kindergarten kids reciting a poem. The professor character pushed his glasses up on his nose so often the you wanted to super glue them to his face to stop the annoyance. The direction was so bad that it seemed not to exist at all. The pace was so slow that a scene that should have taken 1 minute went on for 4. The last scene of this atrocity was an extended music video of a tuneless song done at a high school dance that went on forever. The only good part of the film occurred when "The End" flashed on the screen.
The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
Better than the First One
"Santa Clause 2" is so much better than the first Santa Clause that there is almost no comparison. It has a wonderful story with more humor and definitely more "heart" than the original. The relationship between Scott "Santa" Calvin and his son is deeper and more meaningful, the romance in finding a Mrs. Santa is great without being saccharin or cloying. All the performances are wonderful with the "tooth fairy" a real stand out. For a fun viewing, watch the ears on the Easter Bunny. The reindeer almost steal the whole film. Only a real Scrooge would dismiss this film as not as good as the first one.
Pete's Meteor (1998)
Terrible Waste Of Time
This is probably the worst film I have ever seen. Mike Myers tries to be a dramatic actor and fails miserably. The children, who have the major roles, are almost impossible to understand and are really unpleasant characters. It was not even worth the price of the rental.
By Jeeves (2001)
Absolutely Delightful Fun Musical
It's an Andrew Lloyd Webber show transfered to film and full of wonderful and beautiful musical numbers. "Half A Moment" is top of the line Webber.
Granted that it is an American/Canadian cast, they still are able to bring out the fun of the absurd story. Probably an English person will find fault with it since it is essentially an English story, but the actors are wonderful. John Scherer is perfect as Bertie and sings wonderfully. I am probably prejudiced in this as I directed him in shows while he was a teen ager just starting out and he is one of the most talented people I ever worked with. He went on to do "Sunset Blvd." on Broadway.
This production was filmed in Toronto and it is really unfortunate that it has never been released in the United States. It was shown on Canadian television and I was lucky enough to have a friend in London send me a copy of the commercial tape available there.
"By Jeeves" is a delightful way to spend an evening and essential to anyone who is a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
My Big Fat Greek Life (2003)
Not Great, but give it a chance
There was a lot wrong with the first episode of "My Big Fat Greek Life". It seemed to have been rushed into production without too much chance to fix what was going wrong. The producers tried to do too much in the first episode and include too many characters. There were at least two episodes pushed into 30 minutes. In doing this, there was not enough time to really develope each one.
Nia Valardos was quoted in preshow stories that she did not want a laugh track but that CBS insisted on one. BIG MISTAKE. It is not a laugh out loud type sitcom (the movie was, but not the TV version should not become "I Love Nia" slapstick vehicle). She also said that the reason for the name changes for herself and her husband was that she did not think it fair for an actor to step into a role so closely identified with another actor. (Personally, I find Steven Eckhold a much better actor and better looking than John Corbett. I really find Corbett unattractive and unappealing. I know most woman fall over themselves about him - mine is a male point of view.) Mr. Eckhold was not given much chance to develope the character in the first episode and to judge him on this one episode is very unfair. Give him a chance.
The producers/writers should have concentrated on one story line, either the return from the honeymoon or the gift of the house. Trying to use each in one time period was a BIG mistake. Also in using every character from the film in the first show did not allow any character development.
If the series is to succeed, and I hope it does, it will have to reevalute the hectic pace of the first show and concentrate on the warm and wonderful characters from the film and not on TV stereotypes.
Best New Show
It isn't often that a series on a cable network turns out to be the best new show of the season, but that is just what happened with "Monk". It is off beat, delightfully acted and very humorously written. Monk, himself, is outrageous and unpredictable. The viewer never knows what Monk will find to obsess over. However he is as observant or even more so than Sherlock Holmes. Tony Shaloub is really great in bringing this difficult character to life. The whole cast is exactly right. It is no wonder that ABC picked up this show to repeat the original episodes on broadcast TV.
Lucille Ball STINKS and ruins the film
I have seen a number of wonderful actresses play the lead in the musical "Mame" on stage from the magnificent, incomparable Angela Lansbury to road companies with Janet Blair, Patrice Munsel and others. Lucille Ball really stinks and ruins this wonderful musical. She is no more Mame than Miss Piggy is, in fact, Miss Piggy would be a much better choice.
Lucille Ball can not sing (try listening to her awful croaking voice on the recording of her one staring Broadway musical, "Wildcat"), she can't dance and is capable of playing one part - a slapstick brainless caricature of a woman (Lucy). She is incapable of anything subtle. She can not really show the love for Patrick that is the core of the story. All that is evident is the egomaniac personality showing off. Put a lampshade on her head and she would not even be amusing at a party.
The only redeeming parts of this misbegotten production are Bea Arthur and Jane Connell, and even they are held back so as to not overshadow the fading "star".
Lucille Ball was determined to play this role and used her clout to get it. She was just too insensitive to realize she was completely wrong for the part.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Not as enchanting on Imax
Before going on, let me say that this is one of my all time favorite films. In its original release was is truly magical and richly deserved the awards given to it and I treasure my VCR tape. BUT IT LOSES MOST OF THE MAGIC IN IMAX.
On the huge Imax screen there are so many things that were not evident in the smaller version, characters not fully drawn or animated are totally distracting. It is simply too overwhelming and the intimacy and magic are now missing.
The only sequences that are truly effective in the Imax format are the opening sequence panning through the forest going to the castle and the two big musical numbers, "Be Our Guest" and the new "Human Again". The last mentioned song is terrific and was a highlight of the live stage version. Now it is in the film and illustrates that it should have been there from the beginning.
The scenes with the wolves in which their mouths are so big a viewer feels as if being eaten, are simply too intense for younger audience members.
The only good thing about the Imax release is the hope that this version with the new musical number will be released to regular theaters on the size screen it was created for when the giant screen runs are over and that a DVD will soon be available. Imax is simply the wrong format for a film like this.
Jack the Ripper (1988)
Some have said they do not agree with the ending of this excellent mini-series. There is one fact that may not be known or has been forgotten. There were four separate endings filmed for the production and the one shown was kept a secret until the actual showing. In the novel version of the mini-series, the four are given leaving the selection of the actual Ripper to the reader. (This paperback is certainly out of print and unavailable now, but I still have mine.)
The four were Gull (the one finally selected)
Prince Albert Victor
Lusk (the head of the citizens committee)
Police Inspector Spratling
This is probably the best Ripper film of all time and is more true to the actual people than most other versions.
From Hell (2001)
From Hell = Murder By Decree
"From Hell" is an excellent Jack the Ripper film, really well produced with good solid acting. For me the most disturbing fact was that the idea of why the Ripper murders happened is extremely close to the film "Murder By Decree" in which Sherlock Holmes goes after old Jack. It is a plausible idea and one that could easily be the answer to the whole puzzle.
Johnny Depp's Abberline, while using the name of the real detective, is not what the actual Abberline was. In one of the many books devoted to this first serial killer, Abberline is quoted as stating that they did know who the Ripper was but could do nothing because of who he was. This certainly fits the solution in both "Murder By Decree" and "From Hell".
The producers are to be commended for not turning this into a "slasher" film. Yes, there are some disturbing sections, but they are shown quickly and not in graphic detail. The bodies are shown in brief shots that give the idea of the mutilations, but now great detail. The reactions of the coroner, his assistants and the detectives give the idea of how horrible the situation is better than any picture.
The bittersweet ending is perfect for the film, but what happens to Abberline is far from the history of the actual man.
The Christmas Secret (2000)
Absolutely WONDERFUL Christmas story
"Christmas Secret" was one of the most delightful Christmas specials aired on television for the 2000 holiday season. It is a production that the whole family can really enjoy and will please anyone except a confirmed Scrooge.
Without giving away too much of the plot, a college professor is given a book showing that reindeer can really fly. He sets out to discover if this is actually true. He ends up at Santa's workshop and becomes involved in a number of delightful situations.
Richard Thomas is wonderful as the professor grounding the fantasy elements in reality with his performance. Beau Bridges may seem to be an unusual choice for Santa, but as the story unfolds, he proves to be exactly right. Each of the characters fits their role like the proverbial glove.
CBS offered the production on tape during the telecast and I could not wait for mine to arrive. I have watched it numerous times during the year and find it more enjoyable with each viewing. There are wonderful sequences for children and many humorous ones for adults. It is a film for the entire family. I only wish it was also available on DVD. Currently it is only available directly from CBS.
For a delightful, magical holiday production, "Christmas Secret" really fills the bill.
Delightful Fantasy Film
There is only one problem with "Snow White and the 3 Stooges" and that is the title. It leaves people expecting a typical slapstick comedy and this is not that kind of film. If it has been made with three other comic actors, it would have been much more widely accepted. But mention the 3 Stooges and most people expect hit 'em in the face with a hammer kind of things.
The story becomes the main focus here, not the usual Stooges prat falls. They prove that they were capable of doing a delightful and respectful version of the Snow White legend. They are lovable guardians of the princess. They are capable of playing real characters, not the usual cardboard cut outs they normally play.
I saw this film at least 6 times when it was first released in the theaters and bought the tape when it first came out. It is a beautiful, funny delight. The ice skating if wonderful. The sets and costumes exactly what a fairy tale calls for.
Don't listen to those people who only wanted the usual Stooges black and white short type of film. Anyone who loves fairy tale fantasy films will find a lot to like in this production.
Murder by Decree (1979)
Excellent film plausible solution to the Ripper
This is an excellent, thoughtful version of the Jack the Ripper murders. It is not a gory, slasher film, but a thought provoking idea of what might have actually happened. Yes, it is put forward as a Sherlock Holmes case, but it would work with any other detective substituted. There is a long history that the Ripper could have been a member of royalty and this film explores that idea. I will not go further into the plot so as to not spoil it. Only one comment - one of the lead Scotland Yard detectives is quoted shortly before his death as saying: "Of course we knew who the Ripper was, but we could not prosecute because of who it was."
Christopher Plummer and James Mason was absolutely perfect as Holmes and Watson, probably the best to ever act these roles. The entire cast is wonderful with not one false note from anyone.
For another take on Holmes and The Ripper, there is a very good film, "Study In Terror" that is a bit more sensational, but still very good.
A Night to Remember (1958)
Best "Titanic" film, wonderfully produced
"A Night T Remember" is the BEST of the Titanic films easily superior to the more famous J. Cameron soap opera version. There is no fabricated story to get in the way of the telling of what happened that night in 1912. The ship, itself, seems to be the "star" of the film. Filmed in black and white, it has the feel of being a "docudrama". The DVD version is really the one to have. Not only is the picture excellent, but there are bonus features that are worth the price of the disk - a "making of" documentary featuring the producer of the film, William MacQuitty, and Walter Lord who wrote the book that was the basis for the film (he also wrote a second book correcting some errors in the first one, "The Night Lives On") AND an audio commentary track by two Titanic experts, Don Lynch and Ken Marschall who point out various changes in actual happenings and going into more depth about the role of the "Californian", the ship in visual distance that did not come to aid of the sinking Titanic.
Considering that this film was made in 1958, it is a technical marvel. Yes, there are models used for parts of the film, but they are excellently done. If someone is expecting the computer generated special effects of today, they might be disappointed, but that is nit-picking as you become drawn into the happenings and forget such minor things.
With a predominately British cast or unfamiliar faces, the characters become more real than seeing some familiar Hollywood player in a roll. The performances are excellent and many of the actors have a striking resemblance to photos of the actual people.
There are some things that have now been proven to be incorrect - the ship is shown sinking in one piece and not breaking half - but this was the opinion of the time that is did not break apart. Since the finding of the Titanic on the ocean floor, we now know it did break up. But these things can not take away from a truly excellent film.
Anyone who is fascinated by the Titanic and wants to view a film with a "you are there" feeling should have this excellent production, especially on DVD.
The Miracle Maker (2000)
One of the best life of Christ films
Of the many life of Christ films, this should be rated as one of the best. Some viewers have called it a "claymation" film, it is not. This is a stop motion puppet film. Anyone who has the DVD version can view the "making of" film and see that the figures are flexible puppets made of foam and plastic and not the crude figures done for "claymation". There is a vast difference in stop motion puppets and claymation figures.
What sets this film apart is that through the puppet medium, the figures look like people from the time and place of the original happening, not Hollywood actors in costumes and make up. Since the viewer does not associate a certain actor with the part, it is much easier to accept the puppet as the "real" character. You don't see Jeffrey Hunter, the actor in "King of Kings", playing a part but see more acceptable versions of Christ and the apostles.
The combination of 3D and 2D animation works well in separating the parable stories from the "real" action. It is a jolt at first, but becomes very acceptable as the film goes on.
Don't let the "puppet" idea keep an adult viewer away from this wonderful film. It is a concept that makes the Bible stories wonderfully accessible to all age groups.
Delightful Christmas Story
Having read the other review of this video, I can't believe that they were about the same film I really like. No, this is not the original, but it was never meant to be. This is a well done Christmas story aimed at children and the young at heart. Oh, it is easy to nit pick and say this doesn't measure up to the original film, but it is a superior direct to video production. The animation is well above other such efforts, the voices are absolutely wonderful. Any production with Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters and Jerry Orbach is one to be treasured and they do not disappoint in this one. Except for "As Long As There's Christmas", the songs are mere background efforts, but "As Long As ----" is wonderful and deserves to get wide spread recordings.
The story is just right for a Christmas special. It is refreshing to have a Christmas story that avoids Santa, red nosed deer, elves etc. This concentrates on friendship, loving relationships and fun characters.
The reviewers who write unpleasant things about a decent, fun video should watch out for three ghosts who should haunt them on Christmas Eve and purge them of their unkind thoughts and writings. Their unfortunate opinions could cause readers to deprive themselves of a truly delightful Christmas video.
Awful slapstick version of a classic
The live action Grinch is so over the top it makes the eruption of Vasuvius which burried Pompeii look like a tea candle. It has so much unnecessary slapstick "humor" that the 3 Stooges seem like the height of sophisticated humor. It is like getting hit in the face with a 100 lb sledge hammer. The delightful story we are used to is gone except for a few minutes near the end. The Whos are made out as stupid nit wits who are more interested in how much they can spend on gifts and what they will get in return that I really didn't care if the Grinch did steal Christmas. The only decent, feeling Who is the little girl, Cindy Lou. The young actress playing her is wonderful. The only other decent character is Max, the dog, and he steals the show. Jim Carry is NOT the Grinch. He is simply Jim Carry in a green fur suit with lots of make up. He does not know when to pull back and let the story work. He always goes way over the line. But this is also the fault of director Ron Howard. He could and should have made Carry pull back.
To give credit where it is due, the make up, set design and special effects are excellent. Unfortunately, the children today, raised on the violent cartoons of Saturday morning TV, will think this is the real Grinch and the classic tale will take second place to this misconceived mess. It will, no doubt, make money and be shown over and over on TV in future years, but it will NEVER replace the wonderful original book and cartoon.
A Season for Miracles (1999)
A film for ALL seasons
This is a wonderful film that, while taking place during the hoildays, is one that can be viewed at any time of the year and be thoroughly enjoyed. I have watched it many times since getting it last December. As with any Hallmark show, the production values are outstanding. Although based on a book by Marilyn Pappano, the teleplay far surpasses the original. All the changes simply made for a better story.
What a great cast of veteran performers - Patty Duke, Laura Dern, Faith Prince, Kathy Baker and Lynn Redgrave in a film stealing role as a judge. Each of the supporting roles are equally effective.
This is a film that could rival "It's A Wonderful Life" as a great holiday (or any time) entertainment.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Excellent adult film too much for younger people
Excellent and thought provoking film for adults (although some might figure out the conclusion early on - I knew by 1/3 through the film). It is really too intense for anyone under 13. Never cared for Bruce Willis but he is excellent in this. The boy is WONDERFUL - his performance is award worthy.