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Ambush (I) (2023)
It was in focus and the dialog was clearly audible. everything else was a mess
3 March 2023
I hope Aaron Eckhart was paid well for the half day of work he did on one set. At least, fortunately for him, this film will be quickly forgotten. And it's sad to see Jonathan Rhys Meyers' career reduced to signing on to dreck like this.

The plot is simple enough.

Vietnam. 1966. A remote American firebase is attacked and the Viet-Cong, though driven back, somehow manage to get their hands on a binder that would compromise South Vietnamese agents. A small force is dispatched from the firebase to track and find the VC in order to retrieve or destroy the binder.

The basic outline for this plot could have made for a decent action movie in the hands of competent film makers. Unfortunately, none were available.

It is clear that the film makers did no research. I began to wonder if they could even spot Vietnam on a map.

Sometimes a film with a low budget will get the look wrong because they can't afford to build realistic looking sets or props... in this case, it seemed they simply didn't care about getting anything right

Production and costumes: None of the characters were wearing the right uniforms or patches. You can literally order bulk surplus jungle fatigues online... this was not a budget issue... they simply got all the uniforms wrong. Every single one.

This was also glaringly obvious with the weapons. The overwhelming majority of the soldiers in this film are seen using M16A2 or A3 rifles... rifles which were not available until 20 years later. One soldier who has a beard for some reason was actually carrying an M16A4 with a rail system, a gun that wan not available until more than 30 years later.

Clearly the production had the budget for an armorer who could provide expensive rifles... just the wrong ones... all of them.

While most laymen may not notice the difference, anyone who ever served in the military in the last fifty years will and this is just indicative of the indifference or laziness of the film makers.

The location set for the firebase was laughably bad, on a par with a high school play's stage scenery. This was not a budget issue.. this was not caring or bothering. Sandbags don't cost a lot. A single later of sandbags on only one side of a machine gun position is decorative but useless. It wouldn't have taken more that a minute to google images to see how sandbags are used and maybe an extra hour to fill a whole bunch of bags.

The script: Every cliche imaginable... and the writer clearly has no understanding of how the military works of how human beings talk to each other... and of course there are many pieces of dialog that are out of place... like one soldier complaining about eating MRE's even though it would be twenty more years before the Army switched over to eating MRES from canned C-rations. Corporals run bases and give orders to sergeants. Captains scream at everything all the time because the writer associates screaming with Army movies. And colonels lead patrols. The script is rife with every cliche imaginable "they died for nothing!" and when someone talks about how they're about to finish their tour and go home, you know he's about to die

The action is why I gave this film two stars instead of one... because I actually laughed at how bad it was. There were lots of bad CGI muzzle flash and explosion effects. The Viet Cong seem to love just standing in the open and firing instead of maybe shooting from behind a tree... and there were multiple scenes were actors were shooting each other in the back (fortunately with blanks) because the director didn't bother to tell them to not point their rifles at each other when running around firing. It's actually quite comical and I challenge viewers to count how many times they see actors shooting at each other. There was a stuntman falling from a tower too early before an explosion went off at the base of it that the director left in. As CGI mortar strike explosions in several scenes and in one scene, a stuntman throws himself flailing as if blasted by an explosion ...but they forgot to add that CGI explosion so the scene is just him flailing as he leaps sideways reacting to... nothing.

I guess the best way to sum up this movie is to look at the title... "Ambush" There is no Ambush.

After the firebase is attacked, a captain is on the radio with a general talking about the attack and they both keep referring to it as an ambush. The attack on the base is referred to as an ambush several more times.

But an assault or raid on a base is not an ambush.

That the film makers titled their film "Ambush" and don't even know what that means really says it all.
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Delightful and campy, near perfect fun
29 November 2022
I would have rated it 10/10 had the final musical number not dragged on a bit. It succeeds in appealing to fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise but also as a stand alone Christmas special for those unfamiliar with the characters. Unlike the films where there are serious moments of peril that may be scary for small children, this is perfectly appropriate for small children.

As has been mentioned by other reviewers, actress Pom Klementieff, as Mantis, steals the show and gets probably the most screen time and lines... and she, like all the actors in this special, plays it broad and campy and is clearly having a lot of fun. Pairing her character with Drax, played by Dave Bautista, is a perfect comic match of opposing personalities that gets a lot of genuine laughs.

Kevin Bacon playing a shaking terrified campy version of himself is also an absolute delight. Completely satisfying as an addition to the saga of the Guardians of the Galaxy... and, at its core, still has the heart, joy, and positive message of a traditional family Christmas special.

Well done.
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Taut political thriller ruined by home video glitch
2 October 2021
First... the problem many viewers are having: I saw this film in theaters... and again on home video on VHS tape.

When it was later remastered for DVD and HD streaming, some idiot forgot to include the English subtitles.

Half the film's dialog is spoken in Italian.

In theaters and on home video VHS, there are English subtitles for all the Italian dialog Neither the DVD nor the streaming version have any English subtitles for these parts and there is no way a viewer who does not speak Italian can follow the intricate details of the story.

Entire subplots and character details are lost

That's a shame because when seen with the full subtitles, the film is a well crafted superb thriller worthy of standing alongside some of Frankenheimer's best films.
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War Raiders (2018)
Ed Wood would have been embarassed by this "movie"
18 May 2018
While this film has the look and feel of something that might have been slapped together by a couple of kids with a camcorder, playing war in their backyard.... that comparison might actually be an insult to a couple of kids with a camcorder, playing war in their backyard.

The writer could not write a coherent script. The actors can not act and they stumble through their poorly written lines. The film maker's complete lack of understanding how to make a film is only matched by his complete lack of knowledge about World War Two.

This no budget production of a World War Two film that looks more like four guys pretending to be soldiers in someone's backyard actually lacks the production values that most no budget films have. There is zero effort put into any attempt to make this look like it is the 1940's. Not a single character or extra is wearing anything that remotely resembles an actual WW2 uniform. Weapons, uniforms, and other props are all also from different eras. As an example, the main character, "sarge," wears a purple t-shirt, green sweat pants, a belt of machine-gun ammo (even though they have no machine-gun) under his jacket so it can't be accessed, and a toy plastic helmet on his head. The field radio prop they use is a 1970's transistor radio with a corded telephone handset taped to it.

When not using lame flame filter effects on the screen to try to simulate combat, in true Ed Wood fashion, the film constantly cuts to various pieces of stock footage of combat, reenactments, or training to try (unsuccessfully) to create the illusion that the characters are interacting with what is happening in the stock footage. As bad as their attempt to blend stock footage into the action is, it is made worse by the fact that much of the stock footage has nothing to do with World War Two. They use footage from World War One reenactments and even use modern combat and training footage.

This is less of a review than it is a warning.... stay away.
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Imperium (I) (2016)
Great idea for a movie, but poorly written, directed, and acted
20 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
If you want to see a film about a conflicted FBI agent infiltrating a modern day white supremacist revolutionary group, seek out the far superior 1988 Costa-Gavras film "Betrayed"

The script follows a basic Screen writing 101 format. Toni Collette, as a cliché seasoned FBI agent bucks the system and all her superiors who stubbornly dismiss her ideas, and she recruits an inexperienced young agent, played by Daniel Radcliffe, to infiltrate local white supremacists on the hunch that, just maybe, they are responsible for missing weapons grade radioactive material.

Fine... I'll swallow this premise if they can make it somehow realistic and interesting. Nope. The film makers not only showed almost no understanding of how the FBI operates, what these organized white supremacists actually do, but also little regard for common sense.

This inexperienced FBI agent manages, not only to infiltrate a group of thuggish skinheads, but also to rapidly rise up and infiltrate an organized separatist militia, but an inner circle of careful planning terrorists... all very quickly and easily, simply because the film makers were too lazy to write realistically and just wanted to move things along.

Radcliffe's undercover FBI agent character, for some insane reasoning of the writer, uses his real name and identity to infiltrate, and does not use any documentation to support his phony backstory of military experience. It also seems as if the only direction he was given was to constantly fidget and look nervous and scared at all times... as though this constant erratic guilty behavior wouldn't worry even the dumbest of people he was trying to fool.

It is lazy storytelling wherein events unfold and problems are resolved with great ease, because showing the difficulty of infiltrating and investigating would require the film makers to actually think through their story.

Yes, the subject matter is important and the threat of homegrown separatist groups is a serious threat... far more serious than this movie even seems to understand.

Important subject matter is no reason to overlook bad film making.
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Not Cool (II) (2014)
Painfully unfunny and poorly acted
24 September 2014
Well... it was in focus. The sound was clear, it was well lit, and the camera didn't shake. Sadly, that pretty much is all that the filmmakers got right with this painfully unfunny attempt at a comedy.

I should make it clear that I have no problem with "gross out" humor and, in fact, I think there should be no limits and nothing is distasteful... if it's done right. I am not offended by vomit jokes, sex jokes, or any other kind of crude jokes... so long as they are actually funny. Directors, from Mel Brooks to the Zucker and Farrelly brothers to Seth MacFarlane and countless other have proved that filthy scatological gross jokes can work when they're done right.

But director Shane Dawson seems to think that just putting something that seems shocking or offensive on film is enough to be funny. It seems as if he felt that all he had to do was come up with an outrageous set up scene and the jokes would write themselves... but they don't. For example, I'm sure he thought it would be funny to have a key scene set in a public bathroom with the characters communicating through a glory hole. Perhaps with some sharp dialog or with a performance that wasn't cartoonishly over the top and grating, it might have worked. Instead, since, like so many scenes in this film, it relies solely on the set up and provides no punchline, this scene falls flat. This kind of painfully unfunny attempt at comedy makes films like "Meet the Spartans" look like comic masterpieces by comparison.

The best analogy I can give is to say a comedian can make a funny fart joke that will make an audience laugh... while an immature child thinks the act of farting itself is funny enough. This film was directed by an immature child.

The lack of actual humor and the paint-by the-numbers storyline could be overlooked, and the film could just serve as a mild distraction for ninety minutes, if it were not for the horrible performances of the two male leads. Director Shane Dawson miscast himself as the male lead and also cast his equally untalented androgynous friend Drew Monson as the other male lead, their two stories somehow overlapping. Remembering your lines and hitting your mark is NOT all there is to acting. That Shane Dawson spends many scenes opposite Cherami Leigh, a young woman who can actually act, only highlights how out of his depths he is. That neither actor is able to demonstrate that they are actually interested in any of the women their characters are supposed to be obsessed with is the least of their performance problems.

I'm sure there are plenty of 12-year-old children who may giggle at some of these scenes, provided this is the first R-rated comedy they've ever seen. But for the rest of us... we won't be offended by the vulgarity as it's nothing new... we'll just be offended that this many people put so much money and effort into making something so completely unfunny.
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Dennis Miller: The Raw Feed (2003 TV Special)
Painfully unfunny
14 January 2014
Dennis Miller can be funny and has had his moments. Sadly, this isn't one of them. It appears he used up all his best material before this 2003 appearance. I don't mind his conservative politics, but in this concert it seems his idea of political humor is simply uninspired attacks at the left. I don't mind attacking the left with humor... so long as it's actually clever. What he presents is simply angry self righteous insults that clearly appeal to a those on the right so hungry for conservative humor that they are just happy to enjoy the rare sight of a comedian attacking the left that they don't bother to notice he's not funny.

Aside from his weak attempts at political humor, the rest of his routine seems to be unrelated rants made up of pop culture references, recycled (stolen) material from other comedians, and his signature pretentious use of multi-syllable words to give the false impression he's being clever.

The saddest part about this angry rant from this chicken hawk is watching it again all these years later (I just caught it on TV again last night) and seeing just how wrong and misguided he was about nearly all of his political rants... particularly his call to invade Iraq and mocking those that questioned it. He sounds like a fat man giving diet advice and the irony is completely lost on him when he questions the patriotism of any on the left and insinuates they lack the courage to fight... while he forgets that he, himself, never served.
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CBGB (2013)
Review from a long time CBGB employee
6 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The following review focuses on the portrayal of Hilly Kristal and CBGB. I will leave criticism of the aesthetics of the film and the film makers' skills to others with a less personal connection to the material.

I knew they were going to get things wrong and I also knew they were going to have to change and compress some things in order to tell a coherent story in under two hours.

There's a lot they got right and a lot they got wrong and there's a lot of good and bad in this movie.

One thing I have mixed feelings about was the decision for artistic sake to use a lot of actual pieces of the original club as props. Since this movie is set in the early to mid-1970's, highlighting the beginning of CBGB and its early notoriety, many people who know anything about underground music will find a number of things out of place. For example, it's cool that they used the actual phone booth from the club as a prop in the film, but when Alan Rickman as Hilly in 1974 is seen standing next to it with a visible 1993 CBGB twentieth anniversary poster on the side, it can be distracting. There are tons of stickers and flyers for bands from later years visible throughout the movie and if you know your music, it can be a little distracting.

It was also evident that someone involved in the set design of this film was a big fan of late 80's straight-edge as there are a disproportionate number of Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits stickers all over the interior.

Most of the big name bands of the 70's CBGB scene are represented here. Some notable bands missing, but this is a movie and we can't expect them to fit everyone. If you blink, you'll miss the two seconds an actress playing Annie Golden of The Shirts is on screen. The music is all lip synced studio recordings of the original artists… which is good because who wants to hear the actors doing covers?… and bad because every live performance sounds too perfect. Most bands are given very little screen time as it is obvious the film makers are trying very hard to fit as many in as possible, but each one is well represented and there are little true to life touches, such as Johnny Ramone's temper and Patti Smith's eccentricities, that are actually pretty humorous.

Good… The Dead Boys are featured heavily in this film (more than any other band) and a lot of people who never heard of them before seeing this film are going to be turned on to them. Rupert Grint actually does a great job as Cheetah Chrome. The closest thing to a plot this film has, aside from Hilly opening the club, is Hilly's decision to manage the Dead Boys and get a record out. The film loosely follows this effort right up to the stabbing of Johnny Blitz.

Bad… (SPOILER!!) After the stabbing of Johnny Blitz, the film ends quickly after Lisa and Merv come up with some money for Hilly. This is completely anticlimactic and unnecessary. Since the film chose to close shortly after the stabbing, they missed the opportunity to end the film big, with the infamous Johnny Blitz benefits at CBGB.

Good… Not only is John Holmstrom's story told here in the origin of Punk magazine, but his actual art is used throughout the film in various scene changes. Holmstrom is a good guy and deserves to have his story told and I'm glad his art is getting exposure in this film.

Bad… Savannah Georgia does not look like NYC. Okay, that's just a quibble. I know it's a movie, but I just had to throw that in.

Good… A few people I don't like were left out of this story and they're probably very upset.

Bad… Unfortunately, because of the legal dispute over Hilly's estate, his ex-wife Karen and his son Dana, both of whom were there at the very beginning of CBGB are left out of this story. Hilly's daughter Lisa is the only family member shown working at the club with him.

Good… Hilly's chili, dog waste everywhere, carnality on stage, Hilly leaving money in his freezer, and countless other little details that brought memories flooding back.

Bad… not bad for the movie, but the scene where Hilly is chided for forgetting to pay the rent will, unfortunately, only reinforce the incorrect assumption that many still have to this day that CBGB closed because of unpaid rent. Allow me to step away from my review for a moment. For the record, that is not why we closed. Though the landlord did improperly sue us over unpaid rent, it was just a dirty tactic to get us out. The rent was always paid. The judge not only threw the lawsuit out, but reprimanded the landlord for being so underhanded. Our lease expired and the landlord did not renew.

Back to the movie… The best thing about this movie and what made me actually really like it was the way Hilly was portrayed. Not only did Alan Rickman do a great job of capturing Hilly's mannerism and personality... for all the faults those of us who nitpick will find in this film, at its heart it is a sweet tribute to a great man. Hilly could be difficult to understand (figuratively and literally) and could have completely irrational emotional responses to some things for no reason and no response to things that warranted reaction, but his heart was always in the right place and he made CBGB a home for so many of us and his employees were often an extension of his family. For everything this film got right and everything this film got wrong, this was the most important thing and they got it perfectly right.
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Better title: "I am a Terrible Film Maker"
18 February 2008
or "I am a Really Bad Actor" or "I am Sexually Immature" or "I Learned Nothing in Film School"

The subject matter doesn't bother me. I was hoping to see a somewhat insightful film about a man coming to terms with, and rationalizing, his own sexual hang-ups and cravings. That is what the director/writer/star would like to say he's doing with this film, but he fails miserably. The story itself is essentially a history of his sexual experiences, poorly reenacted, complete with laughable orgasm sounds. His flimsy directing and wooden acting is on a par with Ed Wood. The whole production, from sets to camera movement, to acting, comes off like something made by a few twelve-year-old kids with their first camera. His story is not shocking, merely self indulgent and boring.

I could almost forgive him... almost... if this was his first film. It is his eighth.

I beg his parents to please cut off his trust fund so he can't keep making these terrible movies.
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Private (2004)
A pained attempt to demonize the Israelis
6 October 2007
This film does not enlighten viewers to the conflict... it is generic anti-Isreali drivel. The house is an obvious metaphor for the region and the Israelis, of course, are played as the brutish unsympathetic occupiers pushing the poor Palestinians out of their home. The Palestinian family members, with their differing views, are obviously meant to represent the various Palestinian viewpoints. We get it. The metaphor is as subtle as a hammer blow to the head.

This is just more pro Palestinian revisionist history propaganda. Most pro Palestinians either just hate Israel or got their history from the internet. Thinking you are informed on an issue is a lot easier that taking the time and effort to really be informed, as in researching all sides.

It's funny in a sad way that most films that claim to show an even handed view of a conflict always seem to be biased in one way or another.
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Enjoyable mother/daughter movie, mediocre romantic comedy
14 September 2007
I Could Never Be Your Woman is a sweet movie with a few decent laughs and was overall enjoyable. But... It doesn't really work so well as a romantic comedy. Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd are both likable as the May/October couple. Paul Rudd gets to shine as the charming loyal funny perfect boyfriend. They fall for each other quickly for no apparent reason other than they were written that way. They have the perfect relationship with only one minor bump that's as deep as a plot device on a Disney Sitcom.

Where the film really works, however, is with the mother/daughter relationship between Michelle Pfeiffer and Saoirse Ronan. This B story is given as much attention and screen time as the main A story romance, and rightfully so. The chemistry is right and Saoirse Ronan is great as the tween who is still a child at heart, facing adolescent problems for the first time. The romantic story is enjoyable, but disposable. The mother/daughter story is the real meat of the film.

The character of Mother Nature, Tracy Ullman shown in wrinkle free glowing light at all times, seems out of place and tends to distract whenever she shows up. There are some great points about human nature that she gets to articulate, but it feels like the character of Mother Nature introducing the film and popping up at random to have conversations with Michelle Pfeiffer belongs in a more surreal film.

Overall, a good light hearted film. The next time I watch this, I'm making sure I watch it with my wife and daughter.
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Guests of the Ayatollah (2006 TV Special)
Excellent and informative.
28 June 2006
Contrary to what the other reviewer wrote, this documentary actually covers the experience of the hostages in great detail. The Discovery Times Channel aired this 4 part documentary over two nights. I believe the previous reviewer only saw the second night, which dealt a lot with the failed rescue operation.

26 years later, it is great to finally have a documentary that fully details the events of those dark days.

We hear the honest thoughts of members of the Carter administration, long since retired from politics and able to speak freely. Some retired members of Delta Force are also finally able to speak freely about not only the details of the operation, but their own personal feelings. More importantly, we hear the honest voices of the hostages themselves all these years later. What's frightening, but fascinating, though is to hear the hostage takers speaking very matter-of-factly about their actions and still they see absolutely nothing wrong with holding innocent people tied up for 444 days.
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Robots (2005)
beautiful art wasted on a paint by the numbers story written by the marketing department
9 April 2005
Thankfuly, I got hold of a screener of this film. Even for free in the comfort of our living room, my 9 year old daughter said she wasn't interested in seeing it after her friends in school told her it was the stupidest "cartoon movie" they'd seen. Bored and stuck in the house the other day, we sat and watched it. Her friends were right. It looked and sounded beautiful. My compliments and praise to the artists and tech people that put it together. BUT... the story was insulting to my intelligence and sensibilities and to my 9 year old daughter's. The team of marketing morons that stood in for writers need to understand that empty pop culture references and fart jokes (yes, robot fart jokes) can not substitute for a well written (or even half-assed written) piece of dialog. Children are young and can be easily impressed... but that does not mean they are retarded. I did not think I would see a studio put out a more insultingly bad and devoid of heart children's animated film than SHARK TALE, but I was wrong. And someone please shut Robin Williams up. There are times he hits the mark... this was not one of them. Rapid fire impressions and pop culture references can be funny... but just spouting references and impressions for the sake of doing it doesn't make it funny. His act has become a sad joke.
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Drop Squad (1994)
poorly made film, encouraging racism
2 October 2000
What's the lesson the film makers are trying to get across? 1. If a black man tries to succeed, he is betraying his roots. 2. All white people are bumbling dunderheads with no sense of rhythm or street savvy. 3. All white people are racist whether they realize it or not.

This is the most thick headed racist film I've ever seen and the only reason it hasn't been labelled as racist by the press is that it's anti-white and many people are afraid to label that racist. Racist is racist, whether anti-black or anti-white and films like this only encourage ignorance.
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Perhaps one of the worst Major motion pictures of all time
16 May 2000
Yes there have been worse films than this, but not on this scale. There are people who point at the tons of grade z Hollywood films as worse, but they're missing the point. This was a major motion picture with tons of money pumped in to it, a cast of some fairly accomplished actors, full studio support, an experienced crew, and all the other makings of a good film. Nobody died during filming so there was no sloppy reediting to accommodate unfinished scenes. This was the film the production wanted to make and did. You can't compare this to bad grade B or Z movies where there is no budget or talent attached or films where inexperienced directors, crews and editors put together shoddy work. Nobody expects a kid in little league to hit a pitch thrown by a major league ball player, but we do expect the 30 million dollar a year player to be able to. I can't think of a worse major film than BATTLEFIELD EARTH (and there have been some real stinkers) with its choppy slanted camera work (why was every shot at a severe angle? was the director trying to hypnotise us into believing the movie didn't suck?), embarrassingly inane dialogue, horrible makeup effects (note the aliens' constant change in stature next to humans from scene to scene-the alien is 3 feet taller than the human, now he's the same size, now he's taller, etc.) and complete disregard for logic and natural law. (the cavemen learning to fly by flapping their arms would have been just as realistic) This will go down as one of the biggest turkeys of all time.
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Good detailed film, though faulted in its battle scenes
6 March 2000
The entire beginning and middle of the film are utterly engrossing. It was a nice change to see a film that showed the amount of planning and attention to detail and contingency plans that goes into preparing a military operation, even a quick raid like the one planned here. The final raid however is a disappointment though, especially because of the realistic and detailed nature of the film to that point. These are serious professional mercenaries in a gritty realistic film and in the final battle, logic and realism go out the window as these "professionals" walk slowly in the open firing from the hip like they were in a Rambo film. Had they fought like that in real life, they'd have all been killed in the first few seconds. I don't think the director understood the nature of combat and that's too bad because otherwise, this film is a gem.
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Deterrence (1999)
Should have been better than it was
28 February 2000
Overall, the film is pretty good for a low budget FAIL SAFE set in a diner, though I have to admit that I'm glad I saw it on a screening video rather than on the big screen. It plays well, as a good made for cable movie, but not as a big screen feature. The entire film is set in one interior location with the only visual images of the outside world coming from television broadcasts that the characters watch in the diner. A film can be done well shot in one location, as Hitchcock proved, but writer/director Rod Lurie isn't quite up to the challenge and the film sometimes feels sluggish. The film opens with a montage of clips of speeches by former presidents, and one future fictitious one, decrying war, intercut with a view of Earth from space, as the opening credits come up. For some pretentious reason the first five minutes of the film, setting up the support characters in the diner, is shot in black and white and only switches to color with the entrance of the president (Pollak) and his entourage. The locals who inhabit this Diner are one-dimensional stereotypes. There is the weathered and wise old black cook, the ignorant racist trucker, and the dizzy French Canadian waitress. We only know that she's French Canadian because one of the patrons identifies her accent, though her accent shifts back and forth from Southern drawl to a Midwest (Fargo) accent. The film would have been a lot better had these characters been erased from the screenplay all together. Perhaps it had to be set in a diner because the budget couldn't cover a war room or White House set. The crisis story is believable and much of the dialogue between the president and his advisors is well written. Timothy Hutton, as the president's old friend and advisor, has a nice short monologue about the Los Alamos tests and the destruction of Baghdad that does more to evoke the scale of the situation than anything else in the film does. To be fair to the film, I watched it a twice before jotting this down. There was a twist at the end of the film that I thought was out of place the first time I saw it that made sense upon my second viewing. The president has an ace up his sleeve and I thought it was preposterous that he would hold back information from his staff just so the film could surprise the audience at the end. But on second viewing I saw where he advises his staff off screen away from the other characters. Stock footage is used often, and usually pretty well, during the news reports that come into the diner. Though sometimes they should have avoided using stock footage all together. (An F117 is not a B2 bomber and the detonation footage from the Bikini Atoll has been used a thousand times already and detracts from the emotional impact of the moment) It's a fairly clever script that would do well, minus some of the support characters, as a one-act play. It's definitely worth renting when it comes out on video. As for seeing it in the theaters…it's good to see studios like Paramount putting out small original films like this…but I wish it could have been done better for the big screen.
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The Enemy Within (1994 TV Movie)
Piece of Garbage remake of a classic
10 January 2000
This is a terrible, dumbed down, remake of John Frankenheimer's SEVEN DAYS IN MAY with Forest Whitaker in the Kirk Douglas role and Jason Robards in the Burt Lancaster role. The story follows the assistant to the commander of the joint chiefs of staff as he uncovers a plot to overthrow the government. Neither Whitaker nor Robards seem comfortable in their uniforms or seem to understand their roles as officers. The insultingly simplified plot is spoon fed to the audience and delivered with inane dialog. Unlike the original, none of the plot makes a damn bit of sense and the final resolution is so unbelievable that it seems a fitting end to this mess. It's as if a first grader saw the first film and typed out his own version.
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SLC Punk! (1998)
Surprisingly accurate portrayal of the early 80's scene
7 December 1999
I just saw this film on video the other day and, contrary to what I was expecting, I liked it. I was expecting it to suck for two reasons: 1: I've always found Mathew Lillard's acting style gratingly annoying and 2: I grew up in NYC as a hardcore punk in the early 80's and Hollywood always gets it wrong at least 9 times out of 10. This was a pleasant surprise. Perhaps the film won't appeal to everyone and maybe today's younger punks will think the movie got it wrong, but it's a pretty accurate portrayal of what the scene was all about back then in the suburbs. Sorry, but SLC isn't all that urban. Also I didn't want to smack Mathew Lillard every time I saw him on screen like I usually do in every other movie I see him in. Good film.
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A fascinating and important film of the Spanish Civil War
8 November 1999
This is the story of The Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the American volunteer force that fought alongside the other international brigades against the fascists in 1936 Spain. The film tells the story of the young men and women who fought there using archival footage as well as interviews with surviving brigade volunteers. The story is true and the cause is greater than anything in recent history. Those that fought, fought for a fantastic cause and a beautiful dream, and their ultimate betrayal by the rest of the world is that much more tragic. This film is the best and most moving documentation of the "poets war" ever made and unfortunately, since the survivors aren't getting any younger, this is also probably the last great film to document their cause. the film informs and amazes. This was a clear conflict of good versus evil and evil prevailed. As a US veteran I only wish I could have been there with them, even though righteousness was destined to lose. That is how noble the cause was and how profound of an impact this film had on me.
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Red Dawn (1984)
Well made war film though a little too much propaganda
28 October 1999
John Milius does a great job of creating a "what if?" Soviet invasion scenario. His attention to detail in the Cuban and Soviet uniforms, weapons, and mock-up vehicles creates a sense of realism. What makes the film a good war movie is that it doesn't tell the story of World War Three. It just tells one story of a few American guerillas in a small part of the war in its early days. The events are isloated to one mountain town area and take place over just a few months time in what is implied to be a war several years long that engulfs the entire world. The characters and the audience learn only pieces of information about the events of the war from Radio Free America and other characters passing along word of mouth rumors. This allows the audience to build its own picture of what's happening in the world. Milius also takes his war films seriously and there are no Rambo like scenes of shirtless guys running through the woods firing blindly from the hip. Combat scenes are filmed with a sense of realism and detail. Ambushes and raids are quick, stealthy, planned out, and brutal. The only downside of this film is the director throws his obviously right wing politics in. During the first day of the invasion, the Cuban colonel directs his attached soviet intelligence officer to immediately go to the local sporting goods store and get the names and addresses of registered gun owners to be rounded up. Is the director suggesting gun owners shouldn't have to register their weapons? There are also the re-education camps that reek of Red paranoia. Politics aside, this is a good enjoyable story of partisans in the war that never was.
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Suburbia (1983)
The most accurate depiction of the punk scene ever in amovie
28 October 1999
I grew up in the early 80's hardcore punk scene in NYC and like most punks at the time had seen Penelope Spheeris' DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION (the best punk documentary ever made) and was impressed when SUBURBIA(later renamed The Wild Side) came out in a few theatres. It was, and still is, the most accurate depiction of what being a hardcore punk was like. Okay, as a film, the production was shoddy, the acting was sub par, and the story was weak. But most of the actors were local punks. . The depiction of the punks was right on the mark....the clothes, the attitude, the music, the just hanging out, etc. Unfortunately, all the new kids who just got into punk in the last decade think this movie is all wrong. Even one of the commenters on this site mistakenly complained that this movie has it all wrong and punks aren't like that. Well guess what kids? The punks in this movie not only acted like real punks, most of them were real punks. (before you were) The scene has changed over the years. This movie is accurately representative of what it was like back in the original (real) scene days during the Reagan administration.
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One of the most realistic war films made. A favorite in my old unit.
17 October 1999
A few Australians have already written on this site praising the film for its portrayal of the Australian SAS in Vietnam and commented at length about the scope of the film. I would like to comment about the accurate way the military operations are portrayed. I served in the US Army in the 101st Airborne Division's elite LRSD (Long Range Surveillance Detatchment)where this film was one of our favorites. It was, and still is, the only film we had ever seen that realisticly showed what long range recon patrols are like; slow, concealed, quiet, and sometimes fruitless small team patrols made up of professional soldiers. We were also impressed that the film showed the part of all patrols that movies never show, the planning phase where the operation order is given and reviewed, mission essential equipment is meted out, maps are studied, radio frequencies and callsigns are memorized, and all questions are asked. The film shows the unglamorous and sometimes dull side of special warfare, but is still a must for anyone interested in special operations units that wants to see what it's all about.
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