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Niña... amada mía (2003)
Pasable remake of Las Amazonas
This is a remake of Las Amazonas (Venezuela, 1985). While it was okay, I felt that it lacked the heart of that earlier novela.
The father character(Emilio Lizarraga) in the original Venezuelan version, was a much more folksy, down-to-earth guy than the Eric Del Castillo character (Clemente Soriano) in the remake. That kind of made sense: the character is supposed to be a simple, poor man who happens to strike it rich (or steal his way into wealth!). But Eric Del Castillo had none of the common man nature of Emilio, and came across as just another rich Mexican, full of class and poise.
The Cesar Fabregas character in the remake was made much more evil than the original (Carmelo Fabregas in the original). Plus he was originally not related to Clemente/Emilio's wife, but just one of her lovers/partners. Also he doesn't kill Karina (his sister) like he does in the remake.
The ending of the original is also much more dubious: although the two warring families seem to have reach a truce, it is non-conclusive as to if the Lizarragas and the Urdanetas are really at peace at the end, or if their truce was really dictated by the reality that now the family was related. I always thought the Venezuelans left it open for a possible sequel as they were fond of doing back then.
Anyway, an okay remake, with a good cast and okay acting. If you can see the original with the late Hilda Carrero and Eduardo Serrano, it is much better! I hope they release that one on DVD as well.
Los ricos también lloran (1979)
One of the best from Mexico!
I can't believe I am the first one to comment on this soap! This was the precursor to Maria La Del Barrio. The story was amazing, the acting was awesome, and Veronica Castro was at the top of her game.
The soap itself was broken into two halves: the first part dealt with the rags to riches story of Mariana Villareal (played superbly by Castro), and the second part dealt with her struggle to recover her long lost son. The overall message seemed to be: even if you were rich and had the world at your feet, you were not necessarily happy, and therefore "The Rich Cry Too", because money isn't everything.
I personally liked the first part better than the second part, but all in all, this was a superior work than all the others one sees on T.V. nowadays. Back then, in 1979/80, it ruled! I hope they will show it sometime again in the U.S.
El derecho de nacer (2001)
They've ruined a classic!
This is probably one of the best stories ever to come out of Mexico, and it spawned at least three remakes (four if you count the Venezuelan version "De Su Misma Sangre"). But this latest one lacks two important elements: acting and characterization.
The acting is downright awful. In some scenes, it is obvious that the actors and actresses are, well, acting! They over-act and they make a mockery out of the characters, to the point of making them caricatures. (With the exception of Kate Del Castillo).
And this brings up the second point: the Don Rafael Del Junco character, is way, way over the top, badly acted, and badly scripted! They've turned the very stern father from earlier versions, into a complete psycho in this one. Maybe they thought that since this guy's supposed to be a baby killer, that he should be a madman, but this is way too much. In earlier versions, the father was super strict and evil, but he was not a madman. He was set in his ways and did order the (failed) murder attempt of his daughter's baby but later in life he grew remorseful of this act, and had enough redeeming qualities that the audience could forgive him. If this father is forgiven later on, that would be a huge mistake. (And his wife was not a drug addict either, until this one!)
It is a shame that Televisa has taken upon itself to remake several classics of what I consider its earlier glory days. The Veronica Castro 1981 version of this soap opera is much better. We need a station that will broadcast the earlier versions of the classics, so that the younger generations will know the good stuff that came before. Telemundo/Univision are you listening ?
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Great!!! (SPOILERS AHEAD)
I saw it and thought that it was awesome, baby! (A little Austin Powers lingo there). I know many of you didn't like or understand the ending, but I think I do. Now I don't know if this is what Burton had intended, but here's MY take on things. (Again, if you haven't seen it yet, STOP READING!)
The astronauts at the beginning are investigating this anomaly in space and decide to send the first monkey into it for a closer look. Wahlberg goes after the chimp into the time warp, and also disappears. Obviously, the whole crew follows them in an attempted rescue.
But then, towards the middle, the crew turns out to have arrived on the planet BEFORE Wahlberg. Leo arrives after they do (some 3000 years later), and the chimp arrives after Leo. This is the exact REVERSE order they went into the time warp. (Still, this does not explain the horses, so I guess that does go as a goof!)
Later, when Thade is trapped in the spaceship and is not killed off, I saw EXACTLY what Burton was going to do! I thought he was going to show us that in the second movie, but he teased us with it in THIS movie: Thade somehow escapes the ship, gets his band of Apes together, comes back to the ship, and escapes in it with his apes to Earth, probably in a period post American Civil War (after Lincoln). They fight the world, take it over, deface the Lincoln memorial, and put General Thade's face on it. Many years later, Mark arrives back on Earth, and finds that Apes rule! Again, note that Leo leaves the planet before Thade, but arrives on Earth AFTER Thade, the exact same thing that happened before.
This is the only logical and obvious explanation of what happened. Anything else would make for a bad sequel. (Hope I haven't given away the sequel :))
Ciranda de Pedra (1981)
Brazilian soap operas in general are about the best made in the world, and "Ciranda de Pedra" is no exception. This one tells the story of 1940s Brazil's high society with all its excesses and prejudices. Virginia, superbly played by Lucelia Santos, goes to live with her father, the rich judge Prado, and her two other sisters after living most of her life with her mother, who's on the brink of total madness. It is when this simple girl arrives at her father's mansion that she is confronted with the worst kind of prejudices and hatred possible by her own father, her sisters, and especially, her father's Nazi-sympathizing Maid of Honor Frau Herta. Virginia must constantly fight this high society that treats her as an outsider, in the process she finds love, and discovers the secret of her family and herself. This one touched on everything: child abuse, psychological abuse, mental illness, Nazism, you name it. At the end, though, it proved that love conquers all. 9 out of 10. Check it out if you have the chance.
Dark Angel (2000)
This show started with much promise, but I think it is fading fast. Unless James Cameron takes a more hands-on approach and start doing some of the writing and/or directing himself, this will be another one of those short lived TV series that will be rerun on either TNT, SCI-FI, or FX cable channels ad-infinitum. I think that this show suffers from the same problems that the PRETENDER suffered from: it just keeps recycling the same good guy(girl) vs. bad guy stuff while continuing to build up on the subplots with no discernable solution to the questions the subplots are raising. In order for these types of series to succeed, the producers, in my humble opinion, need to tie the various subplots at some point to THE main plot of the show and relegate the good cop vs. bad cop episodic plots to the back burner.Of course this would mean, one suspects, that at some point the series would be over, because the main plot would be solved. The other thing that bothers me about Dark Angel is the hunter vs. the hunted theme: we've already had this in The Fugitive, The Incredible Hulk, The Pretender, to some extend in The Profiler, and probably others that I haven't even heard of. Can we get rid of it? It is the biggest cliche on TV right now. Cameron said in an interview that he would only come in to direct and write an episode if it could be ground breaking enough and something that had not been done before on TV. Now's the time to do it, Jimbo. If you care about this project, save its life, please! I would submit that that is ground breaking enough.
Xica da Silva (1996)
What a disappointment!(SPOILERS AHEAD)
Where do I begin to describe my disappointment ? Let me start with the good first. The acting is awesome, the location is excellent, the era, the costumes, are all great.
Now for the bad: the plot is weak at best, terrible at worst! The plot starts out very intelligently, with the rags to riches story of Xica Da Silva. The problems start when they let her fall from the grace of the Commander Joao Fernandez, only to rise again! Why go through a "rise and fall and rise" story ? If the story ended here, it would be great, but then they go on! Pretty soon, the story gets too long and too boring. Soon afterwards, it gets downright ridiculous, with vampires and witches, the sucking of blood, and putting spells on people! Is this a soap opera about colonial times in Brazil or a dungeons and dragons story, with black magic and witchcraft? I don't know. The other problem this soap opera suffers from is repetition: how many times can they tell the story of a mother being separated from her child by force? They tell that same story, no less than three times, with two different characters! And that brings me to what I think is the weakest link of all: the characters. Usually in a story like this, there are good and evil characters. Not in this story: all of the main characters are either evil or weak, and all are very unsympathetic! Even the weak characters are forced to do evil, and because of their weakness they can't avoid this! There are some good characters, but they are all minor. Most of the time one can only choose between the lesser of two evils. Certain crimes undertaken by some of the "good" characters early on, are completely glossed over later in the story, to make them look good to the viewer again, but I think this ploy fails miserably. All in all a very convoluted story, with big plot holes, too long (are we at least through the first half yet ???), too much fantasy and unsympathetic characters, with the only saving grace being the acting and the scenery. The only way to get out of this one, I think, is at the end to kill all the major characters through some big bloodbath or something. That at least would do the story some justice. Four out of ten......
Escrava Isaura (1976)
Brilliant! (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!)
Escrava Isaura (Isaura The Slave Girl) is simply the best soap opera I have ever seen! In my opinion, Brazilian soap operas are better than all the others because more often than not, they will break with tradition and offer us something totally different. Such is the case with 'Escrava Isaura'.
Set in 19th century pre-abolitionist Brazil, 'Isaura' tells the tale of a white slave girl at the mercy of her evil Master, Senor Leoncio Correa De Almeida, and her struggle, and those of her friends and loved ones, to win her freedom. This story recounts the eternal struggle between good and evil, rich and poor, and the powerful and the powerless. Where it differs from most other works of this genre, is that in most others, the main (rich) male character mends his ways because of his love for his princess and after a long struggle, they get married and live happily ever after. Not so in this one. The main male "hero" here is not a hero at all, he is the most vicious and despicable character that I have ever seen.
The role of Senor Leoncio, played brilliantly by Rubens De Falco, is one of the highlights of this "novela", and the character ranks up there with J.R. Ewing, Michael Corleone, and Darth Vader among the best villains ever seen on film. Leoncio is not only truly evil, he is the devil incarnate! He truly represents every slave's worst nightmare, and seems to enjoy every minute of it. Leoncio's "love" for his white slave, his demonic passions for her, and Isaura's constant rejection of him, despite his promises of making her a Queen if she'd only accept him, seems to only bring out the worst in him at every turn, until he commits the ultimate sin. His burning to death of two innocent characters in the story underscores the satanic overtones of his character.
Naturally there are other characters in the story that are remarkable, such as Leoncio's doomed but benevolent wife Malvina; Isaura's eventual savior and boyfriend Alvaro(the real hero); Leoncio's father Gobernador Almeida, who at first hates Isaura but then has a change of heart and wants to help save her from his own son; and of course Isaura herself, the strong willed, religious slave girl, played superbly by Lucelia Santos. But De Falco's powerful performance overshadows all of them. A true classic in every sense of the word.