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8/10
Very good gaming documentary
19 December 2009
A friend of mine sent this documentary to me (which I had never heard of at the time), and I'm pretty glad he did. I watched most of it in one sitting, something I don't do very often with a movie when I'm at home, I'll admit.

This starts at the very beginning of the gaming world of the Tennis for Two and Pong games, goes through the arcade explosion of Space Invaders and all, the home wars and video game crash of 1983-1984, to the rebirth of gaming with the NES and even through a little bit of the current consoles/PC stuff (at the time) of the XBox and PlayStation 2.

And it's not just about games either, it also touches a bit on the ugly sides of the business (disgruntled 2600 programmers leaving Atari to form Activision due to no credit for making games, supposed cause for alarm for gaming violence being "blamed" on crime), a little about the people involved and even "clans" of online gaming fans that meet up every year (Quake fest).

This is even pretty family-friendly, as there's only a couple of brief mentions of sex and drugs (the hippies at Atari!), as well as, yep, the violence in games, but it doesn't even go very far into a PG rating, as it's probably fine for anyone 12 or 13 years of age on up (although they might not believe the archaic games from the very beginning!).

Only very small gripes include the possibility of continuity errors, like when they were discussing the NES, yet showing SNES games (not sure if that counts as an 'error' or not), and when they talked about the Sega Genesis first coming out, yet the last model of the Genesis was shown. Also they could have shown a few more consoles that never got a mention during the video game crash, since they made it look like everything was all Atari, Intellivision, the Colecovision and Odyssey2, there was also the Vectrex and tons of computers that also played games that were never mentioned at all (TI-994A, Sinclair, the entire Atari line of computers, Vic-20, etc., etc., etc.) that were also totally affected, if not completely wiped out. It would have been nice to see at least a couple of seconds' worth of footage of those consoles and computers.

Anyway, this is pretty decent overall, and there's bound to be some nit-picky thoughts by people (such as I mentioned) arguing what should have been included, but those fleeting moments are in the minority.

Two game-blistered thumbs up from me.
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The Second Half (1993–1994)
7/10
A forgotten show
27 July 2008
The Second Half was one of those shows that just came and went within a year, and without any of it's cast members becoming big stars, has become forgotten, sadly. This isn't one of those shows where you can discuss an actor who got his or her start on this series and have people say "oh yeah! I didn't know they were on this show, that's cool!"

In The Second Half, we witness John Mendoza going through his single life as a sports writer (also named John in the series) and whatever happens to him and his co-workers. Nothing complicated there, and you don't even have to be into sports to enjoy the show, I'm not into sports myself and it's not like I ever groaned "oh no, they're going to talk about sports for the next few minutes" or anything like that. It pretty much mentions sports about as often as on the later show Everybody Loves Raymond, as the main focus was on Ray and his family for the majority of the time.

The supporting cast was decent too, especially with Mendoza's boss, played by Wayne Knight (who is best known as to being Jerry Seinfeld's nemesis on Seinfeld), and his sister Denise Palmaro, played by Jessica Lundy, as they stumbled around through everyday life. There was also a red-haired guy (I don't know the actor's name) who played a different part every week, which he also had some very funny moments every time he was on screen.

The show was perfectly fit for Mendoza's deadpan (as hell!) delivery, as I used to watch him on Comic Strip Live whenever he was on. The Second Half was just pretty much a bunch of one-liners (like his acts), like when during one episode a co-worker of his was working on his computer. "John, do you know anything about CD-ROM?" "Wasn't that the trash can-shaped robot on Star Wars?" John immediately shoots back. There was also another great comeback line in another episode where John is dating a tree-hugger, which's John sister immediately does not like; she says she doesn't believe in cars because they pollute the world. When she finds out John's sister is a nurse, she also states that she doesn't believe in doctors either (for some reason or another). "So, I guess if you were to get hit by a car and have to see a doctor, you'd have to start believing in both!" retorts Lundy. Classic.

Unfortunately this show debuted not long after network TV competition with cable and all started getting fierce and was canceling shows within only a few episodes if they didn't reach 100 million viewers each week or so (ok that's somewhat sarcastic, but you get my drift). Granted it actually ran an entire season but that's not exactly bragging rights though. Even though the cast was decent, no one was really famous at the time (although Knight was doing really well then, as he was in the first Jurassic Park movie that same year, which a promo ran with Mendoza making fun of just that, saying "weren't you in that dinosaur movie?"), so that probably didn't help either.

And all these years later, at the time of this writing, not only is this show not on DVD, but this is also the very first review of it, 15 years after it went off the air. A bit sad, considering other crap that makes it through several years of TV that only are sporadically funny (which several shows come to my mind, but I won't glorify them by naming them).

Not that I'm WISHING it, but I suppose Mendoza would have to die in a plane crash for this show to get some more attention that it deserved.
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8/10
Definitely worth it's 10 minute length
18 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Night Dawn Day presents the simple fantasy that probably most of us have dreamed of that, one day, we find out that we are the last person left on Earth.

Rather than trying to fill in the obviously huge plot hole as to why, the main character (played by Alaina Kalanj, credited only as "woman") just immediately grapples with her new-found, supposedly free life, free of not having to listen to a "politician's lies" any more, no more jerks to deal with, she can go shopping in the nude if she wishes, etc., etc.

However, as much as she thought this new life would be a release from all the dark and problems we have to go through every day, new obstacles are also explored: what happens the day the power runs out? What if she were to get incurably ill? How will she deal with loneliness? The movie is nicely shot, in black and white and white at times, and even though Kalanj doesn't give much of a vocal performance, just her delicately moving from scene to scene, as if she is uncertain about her new life, is convincing enough.

**SPOILER WARNING** There is even a surprise ending to this: was she actually alone? It was just a fantasy, wasn't it? Is she insane? Leaving this open leaves you to thinking about this long after it's over and pondering things. **END OF POSSIBLE SPOILER**

Unlike most of us who, in general, don't get to see short films (even those that were nominated for Academy Awards), this one can still be visible on YouTube by itself (unless it gets removed), and parts of it can also be seen in one of the band's Jucifer's videos as well.

Either way, it's a good, thought-provoking piece, despite it's current low rating (what the hell? Humph).
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7/10
Rock, the funny way
29 July 2006
If there's one thing about the Internet Movie DataBase, it's got EVERYTHING! I was surprised to find not only an entry for Rockin' America here, but also a few comments! Very nice that I wasn't the only one staying up late on Friday and/or Saturday nights (I think sometimes it was shown on one or both nights) watching this show in 1984, due to not having cable then (and I probably never will, either), which, other than occasionally seeing some MTV (when they actually PLAYED music; what a concept nowadays!) at a friend's house and watching Friday Night Videos and some other crappy video show that came on Sundays (forget the name of it, but they'd cut off a good minute or so of their videos; real nice!), this was pretty much my dose of (usually) hard rock and heavy metal videos.

At first I thought the show was pretty stupid, but then I later got used to the silly humor, and once the (sadly, only) one year of shows reran, I didn't see why I didn't think the early shows were funny the first time around. I guess I just wasn't used to it at first; after all, how many video shows have shown stock footage of things like cats "boxing", with the hosts pretending to be sports announcers, one of which (Frazier Smith) told the other to "take the cotton out of your mouth!", due to the other's stuffing his mouth with cotton in order to better imitate sports announcer (from back then) Howard Cosell?

And speaking of which, a couple of the main players: there was Smith, who was a bit of a rock icon back then, having a small part in Helix' "Gimmie Gimmie Good Lovin'" video and playing duel parts of an angel (I think) and the devil in Alcatrazz' "God Blessed Video" (where the devil character, of course, predictably called the angel character a "cheeseball" :) ). His co-host (I can't remember his name...the black guy -- I'm guessing it's the one that someone else mentioned earlier in a comment as "Magic" -- who would skewer Michael Jackson) would also add to the humor of their skits as well, most notably in the (aforementioned) skit where they, as private investigators, were trying to find Michael Jackson's other glove, which the look on his face was priceless when he found it. They also did a range of characters as well, especially with returning favorite (of mine) of Smith's bonehead metalhead guy of "Barry Metalnow" (how come no one has mentioned THAT character yet?!).

The boys even made fun of themselves from time to time, like when they broadcast a video clip of Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran being interviewed once, which he said that they were big mostly with the thanks to MTV showing their videos, which you heard Smith off-camera say "that's Rockin' America you dork! Oops!" I mean, what OTHER show would freakin' do THAT? Yeah, nobody!

And then there were the videos...of course, they played some of the bigger (well, they were back then), mostly hard rock and heavy metal acts, such as Zebra's "Wait Until the Summer's Gone" and Honeymoon Suite, but they also ran a good selection of the underground as well, as Suicidal Tendencies supposedly had their world premiere of "Institionalized" on the show, which I didn't get it the first time around with THAT one: a very, very heavy tune with vocalist Mike Muir just yelling the lyrics, but still getting drowned out by the guitars. Say WHAT? I sure as hell hadn't heard anything like that before...or since! But the video was funny as anything.

I also remember the very new Red Hot Chili Peppers, which I also didn't get: the drummer was wearing a baby's bonnet (I think) and the vocalist had on some kind of bizarre mask...which, once he took it off, I was like ugh, put it back on!! Their brand of metal fusing with funk (one of the earliest ever, along with Mordred) was also very different (wish they'd go back to their old days and style, it seems all I've heard from them on the radio for years now is these "I'm so bummed"-sounding ballads!) also confused me as well, since I also hadn't heard anything like that at the time either. And there was some video by some punk/hardcore/possibly "crossover" type band where the entire video was shot with the band and people constantly running along a beach, and people were falling over and all as they were trying to keep up with the band (anybody know what the hell video and/or group this was?!). And on and on and on.

Aside from probably being ignored from being on late at night and the amount of underground videos they played, the show should have been bigger than it was (sad it only lasted a year)...but then, I don't really think it was publicized much anyway, maybe not AT ALL. It would be kind of difficult to do, if you think about it: the scary, evil world (as a lot of people stereotype it to being) of hard rock and heavy metal brought to you every Saturday night, in between skits of silly people making fun of the music world, among pretty much everything else...yeah, right. Saturday Night Live, only shorter, but with much more music?

A shame. Hopefully the hosts from Rockin' America are doing OK nowadays, even if the majority of the planet has either forgotten, or was never familiar with, this show.
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4/10
blatant false advertising
2 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I rented this goofy clunker in 1990, when a couple of friends of mine made the mistake of suddenly wanting to do something on a weekend night without having anything planned beforehand; sometimes that can result into something cool, at others it can result into just watching a movie.

I had also rented Sibling Rivalry, starring Kirstie Alley, who has an afternoon fling on her husband Scott Bakula, but her fling ends up dying of a heart attack, and all kinds of problems ensue from there. It was mildly amusing, and Alley would be better off (in my opinion) on future endeavors like her short-lived tv sitcom Veronica's Closet and is cuter on her current Pier 1 commercials (is that the name of the chain?).

There was also an Adult section at the video store where I rented Rivalry, but I was a bit self-conscious going into it, so I just snagged Erotic Escape, which was sitting just outside of the section, having a decently-built blonde on the cover in some lingerie, which I hid from my friends so I could enjoy (cough) it by myself later.

Unfortunately that evening turned into a bust (big surprise, eh?), as I think we decided to try to go bowling, but the alley had almost no bowling shoes available to rent, one of my friends had to leave early (he was probably better off), and my remaining friend fell asleep during Rivalry (which he didn't miss too much).

And it turned out that hiding Erotic Escape from my friends was the right idea, but not in the way that you might think (which I had the displeasure of finding that out when I put it in my vcr the next day).

I have over 3 1/2 years legal experience, none of which covers any kind of retail law, but I doubt there's any kind of legal guidelines saying that whatever is on the cover has to come anywhere close to matching the content of the actual video: you could tell the photo of the woman on the cover was taken recently -- sometime during the 80s -- due to the quality of the photo, the hairstyle and all, but once you started up the video, you could tell by the grainy look and the hairstyles it was foreign-made in the 70s and then dubbed into English, as the woman on the cover was (very!) doubtfully not in the movie, unless there was a baby girl somewhere in the film that actually WAS her (snirk snirk).

Five women inherit a mansion or something, but they have no way to get there (which is common in a lot of foreign lands, unlike the United States, which currently has more vehicles than registered drivers), so they have to bumble around the country in order to claim the inheritance (I think)...so this film can be chalked up as to being an earlier version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, minus the babes (since the latter starred Steve Martin and John Candy) and most of the humor.

About the only really funny part was when, at one time, a guy passes all of the women stranded on the side of the road without even slowing down, which the women yell "FAG!" at him, which makes him stop the car and yell back "b*tch! I've got a wife and ____ kids!" (I think the number was four).

Personally, it gets old when you listen to death metal and idiots ask if listening to it makes you want to kill people, not to mention this could also label you into doing drugs, drinking, having sex with goats, or whatever. Most of it can be laughed off, but at times it gets pretty irritating, as people saying things about me gets old...but one thing I DON'T like is being questioned if I'm gay (at least this doesn't happen very often), although I am in my 30s and have never been married, so it IS time to do that, since people are starting to wonder... ...but enough about me, as the humor in that scene was killed when the man got out of the car and proceeded to slap each and every woman in the face, which was unnecessary, especially since "jokes" about violence towards women aren't funny in the least.

Speaking of which, there's no background on any of the women at all, as they're just THERE to watch and all, although at one point they put on a play for someone in regards to women's lib and equality in the workplace and all, which this could have provided some interest as far as instilling some character development for the women, but there is none, pretty much, which is how the whole movie seemed to be: it was just kind of THERE, not really very funny, not really interesting, and definitely not erotic, kind of like tv's Love Boat remake of The Next Wave, which I could have sworn the original Love Boat was a comedy, yet whenever I turned on the remake repeatedly (I never even came close to watching an entire episode), I never saw anything funny in it, or dramatic, or anything...it was *also* kind of "there", and that was about it.

**WARNING supposedly a spoiler follows, but since this doesn't appear to be available on any kind of video or DVD format at the time of this writing, it shouldn't really matter**

Of course, the women make it to their "escape" near the end, and along the way they invite a nice guy into their place, where he proceeds to get no sleep that night as the women, one by one, have their turn with him sexually...which isn't even half as titillating as it might sound: there's only a couple of seconds of nudity here and there, and the only woman who comes anywhere close to resembling the woman on the cover (i. e. being somewhat built) doesn't take off her clothes.

I hate to sound like a pig in regards to that, but hey, those of us wanting something like this occasionally (it's been about 2 1/2 years since I've rented anything that resembles the cover of this movie, since, unless you're a porn addict, 90 to probably 99% of all porn isn't very good) should GET it...however, one good thing I will say is that, since this was made in the 70s when the Twiggy look was the rage, with most of the women starring in this being as skinny as they were, if they took good care of themselves, some of them might still be decent-looking today, as they are probably in their 50s by now. (END OF POSSIBLE SPOILER)

This is one movie that could be remade and actually be funny and sexy if done properly, and pretty much no one would groan about yet another crappy remake being done, since the original wasn't very funny or sexy, especially since pretty much no one in America would even be familiar with the original: probably the closest this comes to being remade, (somewhat) theme-wise, is this year's Chasing Papi, about several yummy-looking Latino (I think they're Latinos) babes chasing after a guy that two-timed them all, but I heard that movie wasn't really worth the time or ticket price either.

After all, the video order guide for Erotic Escape is currently blank at the time of this writing, so you can't get any regional version of any kind on video or DVD. Oh well, at least that makes it easy to avoid, and probably the only chance you have of seeing this would be an edited version on late-night foreign tv.

Until then, beware of false advertising. I would say it would be a mystery as to why this movie was ever released to the States over a decade after it was made, but putting a babe on the cover that probably had nothing to do with the movie was probably just to hopefully make some video company some money.
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Rock Star (2001)
Once you run out of content, fill it up with songs...
28 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Dammit. This movie had SO much potential. As a matter of fact, at first I couldn't understand the several negative reviews on here, as I watched the first 20 or so minutes--which were hilarious!--then had to take a break to do a few things, eat dinner, etc., and then went back to the movie...oh, plus another thing I did in the meantime was get online and check out the reviews, which I couldn't understand what the deal was.

Mark Wahlberg, of course, plays Chris, singer of a cover--er, that's right, "TRIBUTE"--band that performs Steel Dragon tunes, a fictitious heavy metal group back in the 80s. Even though a lot have dissed Wahlberg due to his acting, I was actually going to sing (pardon the pun) severe praise for him, since he spent a year and a half growing his hair long for the part, which in all actuality, he couldn't stand; he said during an interview once that it was like a "bat flying in my face". He also looked like he was having the time of his life singing and banging his head along in his car and being onstage, which in fact he can't stand heavy metal in real life...now THAT'S acting, if you ask me!! If you think his acting is poor, do YOU think you could go onstage in a movie and pretend to really get into playing some music you hate, like country or rap (if you don't like them, that is...I like some rap myself), especially with having to do several takes per scene? Right, I thought so.

I was also going to commend about how real this movie was, due to the fact that not all of us heavy metal people live in caves, don't get up until noon and stay up until 2 a. m. to play in some god-forsaken little club (after sacrificing a goat, of course)...no, Chris also works in an office too, and even sings in a church choir (probably a nod to Axl Rose of Guns 'n Roses when he sang in a church choir also, although that was when he was a little kid). About the only gripe I had was that they overdid a few things, like Chris' headbanging parents; possible--after all, they survived the 60s--but a bit silly.

But then I settled down and watched the rest of it. WAY too many songs. As it's been mentioned here repeatedly, another music movie, Almost Famous, is compared to this, which had the right amount of songs, not going on for too long or repeating them to death...and I'm not slamming those tunes since they weren't metal, as I like pretty much all kinds of music, including those, and they only went on for a minute or two before they switched to something else...here they (the filmmakers) obviously couldn't think of much to do with the script, so they just threw in the songs, skipping around the movie and all, just like when, during a "break", Chris brings in some demo tapes and drawings he made of what he thought would make it to the next Steel Dragon album, not knowing that one of the guitarist's and manager (I think it was) had already written all of the songs. Tension is mounting, but they didn't really do anything to make it feel like it was building up over time: how long was this "break" anyway? We have no idea, so that also tosses aside character development (or not).

* MINOR SPOILERS * This also leads to Chris changing musical direction, which wasn't believable, as we had no idea that he liked anything other than metal, so here it's a bit of a cop-out, to suddenly throw that in. However, it IS pretty funny what happens to the original singer of Steel Dragon (ha ha!) and all. Chris also doesn't do drugs and the former Steel Dragon singer tells him that he doesn't do drugs either and that he's in bed by 11:30 every night, yet Chris immediately becomes trashed after his first Steel Dragon gig, and continues with that lifestyle...sorry, if you haven't done drugs after all this time, why would you suddenly just dive right into them? Also unbelievable is having every tiny thing that happens to Steel Dragon winds up on the news...however, it's not identified what station is running these reports, as it could be MTV, which IS possible, I suppose.

Anyway, it was good to see not only Zakk Wilde's name as one of the producers (one of Ozzy Osbourne's guitarists), but then when I found out other famous metal musicians also played band members in this movie (Jeff Pilson from Dokken, even though I got tired of them a long time ago), that was even better. It's also nice to go back to your beginnings, as it's been forever since I've listened to anything less heavy than death metal and grindcore, but I forgot how good some of the "regular" metal is too (i. e. where they have frontmen that actually SING, that is). Jennifer Anniston is also good, but this didn't do well (well, besides it being so mixed) since it had a limited audience to begin with, since obviously the only people who will see this are those that are into hard rock and heavy metal only, a bit like how people will see Minority Report because it had a huge budget, Tom Cruise, and it was directed by Steven Spielburg, yet those same people aren't suddenly going to decide that sci-fi is cool and will turn around and see all of the Star Trek movies (just like how none of us metal people are going to decide to see pop star Mariah Carey's movie Glitter...barf!).

Oh well, it's best to see this in the video format, since if it doesn't work on you, then you can just turn it off and do something else, then get back to it later, rather than being trapped in a movie theatre for two hours and having to see the whole thing then. At least they tried; there aren't a lot of heavy metal movies out there for us now, are there?
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4/10
oh gee, it's The Dukes of Hazzard meets 1984
31 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I really hate sci-fi movies that are supposed to go where no one has gone before--to coin a phrase--but this one's still waiting for clearance to take off from the launching pad. And it never does take off.

Oh, I guess it DOES take off, in a way, because it's about cars, or rather, as the intro shows, the president of the United States has shut down all the gas pumps in the land (and the bland music playing is a clue as to how the movie's going to be). And you thought it was bad when your car is being repaired for just a day!

Of course, some idiots drive their vehicles anyway, known as "burners", which is what the filmmakers should have done with this movie. But instead of doing something useful with their cars--like maybe running over the person who wrote this garbage--all they do is race each other, and then complain how they don't get any "freedom", yet they're treating their autos even worse than The Dukes of Hazzard ever did. (And this is where the sci-fi premise ends, losing it's promise of being a cross between The Road Warrior and the tv movie The Day After, as it sounded in the Tv Guide description when I saw it.)

**** POSSIBLE SPOILERS, but chances are you'll never see this movie anyway, or you SHOULDN'T, so why should you care? ****

Just when you thought the most nerve-wracking thing in the world is having a cop follow you, the law here, known as the DVC, shoot at the burners, and yet they never hit anyone. Oh wait, in one scene they DID shatter someone's windshield, but then in the next second the windshield had only one bullet hole in it. Duh.

This is one of the several dumb parts in the movie--not to mention the dialog--and the fact that the scenery never changes, EVER. At least in something like Psycho, the house is cool, but after seeing desert for even twenty minutes is enough to drive anyone crazy. Oh, I'm sorry, that's a bad pun ("DRIVE anyone crazy"), but at least that pun is better than the film, except for the car mechanic Jill, who's real cute.

Another dumb part is when the DVC is shooting at one person, but he keeps on driving around in circles, and then he has the nerve to get on his cb for help, saying "these guys are crazy!" But YOU'RE the one who's driving in circles, making yourself easier to shoot at! Oh wait, there IS a difference between "crazy" and then being just downright "stupid".

So, is there ANYTHING cool at all with this blah film, besides it ending eventually? Yes: the owner of the firebird stores it in a pretty neat barn that opens up, sort of like the Batcave. However, this detracted from the movie too, because during the ho-hum race scenes, I kept on expecting Batman himself to drive by, flipping everyone the finger.

"We have ourselves a legal weapon" is a really inspiring line, which I hope, after reading this, inspires you to go rent one of the Lethal Weapon movies instead, which are a million times better than this (probably, which I haven't seen them all, but I doubt I'm wrong). Trust me.

The cars aren't even much to look at, either, so go for a drive instead and/or test watch something better. (In other words, don't be a "burner".)
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7/10
cute, but too short
21 May 2002
First off, as of this writing, IMAX has been around for, what, about 15 years now? I hadn't really seen a lot of IMAX features myself, due to the nearest IMAX theatre was a good half-hour drive away...I saw a couple probably the first year Houston got an IMAX theatre--back in 1988 or something--and a couple here and there over the years since then, and that was about it.

Until an IMAX theatre opened up not even 10 minutes away, depending on how the traffic was.

I immediately saw the new Phantasia movie before it hit the regular theatres and Cyber World...and then THIS movie appeared in the listings.

I had never even heard of it; this was just suddenly dropped in our laps here, with no promotion or anything...but then again, upon looking at the date in this IMDB listing, it was two years old when it appeared here in Houston.

Anyway, when the Star Wars scrolling intro appears onscreen, it appears this is going to be light-hearted fun, as some aliens are looking to settle elsewhere. They end up landing on Earth, picking a yet to be opened amusement park, which they don't even realize. The aliens looked pretty cool, and I thought it was terrific that, not only did they NOT speak English (for once), but their speech is never translated, which was brilliant, as you could pretty much guess what they were saying anyway.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie consists of just watching their scouts down on the planet experiencing the park's roller coaster rides, which we get to see in a first-person, 3D perspective, and that's pretty much it.

Even though I was surprised that there was a box-office tally in this entry, this probably could have made more money if the whole alien angle was dropped (or at least had the movie renamed into something NOT sci-fi) and it was just advertised as to being a 3D roller coaster ride...after all, there's people out there who don't watch sci-fi movies, but like roller coasters that are going to miss out on this, which is a shame (after all, *I* was the one expecting an "alien adventure", but didn't get one!). After all, if they go on a roller coaster ride and it scares them half to death, they may never go on a roller coaster for the rest of their life...here they can just close their eyes if they feel dizzy, the sensation will go away, and they might consider a roller coaster another day.

Speaking of which, the rides were pretty cool and the graphics are pretty much what you'd expect from a computer generated movie: outstanding. But the movie's too short (35 minutes) for the overpriced eight bucks of an IMAX film (don't even TELL me new movies are $7.50: the few times I see a movie just as it's released, I see it in the early afternoon for only $4.50! There's no matinee price for the IMAX, no matter what time of day you go, so that's too much!). At least Cyber World was an hour and ten minutes or so, which is actually long by IMAX standards, and I enjoyed that one a lot better.

Hopefully the company that made this will make longer IMAX features in the future.
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Holy great concept, Batman!
28 January 2002
Well well...didn't THIS show have a bit going for it, in concept and all.

Another one of the "what if?" scenarios, as God and the devil have teamed up (I guess?) to see if the human race is worthwhile or not. They pick an Everyday Man to study and judge...and lets give him an Everyday Man name, like Bob. Perfect!

Actually, pretty much everyone is given the Everyday Man treatment, which leads to some pretty funny moments. The first one that comes to my mind is how God is portrayed: he's not given the bright light behind him, angels singing, flowing beard-type treatment that we'd all expect from Him...rather, his beard is shorter, he wears t-shirts and looks like a hippie, which, in all actuality, he was modeled after Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. Like I said, when He comes down to Earth, God has problems that we all have, like getting ripped off by a candy machine; not even God the Almighty can retrieve his candy bar from the blasted machine!

Sometimes this leads to jokes that don't even need punchlines; for instance, I thought it was hilarious to have God rummaging around in Bob's refrigerator, popping a cold one and saying "this is good beer!"...I guess it was just funny because I have no idea what on earth God would even WANT to drink a beer, much less find it good ("...and it was good", as the text says).

Granted, "what if?"-type shows, movies, short stories, etc. have been done pretty much since the beginning of the written word...however, a few original traits still managed to appear. At one point, Bob just says the solution to saving mankind is to remove all evil...which God does, proving that this is not so, since good cannot exist without evil (which IS true in real life).

So Bob goes to work, and since there's no evil, everyone is singing at their dead-end job...which, by the end of the day, is almost enough to make Bob puke. Luckily though, that night is his friend's bachelor party, which he has been looking forward to all day. The big moment arrives when a scantily-clad stripper WOULD pop out of the oversized cake, but since there's no Lust or anything, out pops his friends' parents...to give advice on how their long marriage has endured. "What, no STRIPPER?" exclaims Bob. "Well that'd be RUDE!" answers the guy next to him.

This show had the same potential as Third Rock from the Sun: just on the idea ALONE it could've ran forever. In Third Rock, aliens come to earth to study mankind, which everyday life (that's nothing/normal to us) is weird to them (actually it's funny how I make this comparison, since French Stewart from that show voiced Bob on this one), so there was plenty of material to keep that show running, and the same went for God, the Devil and Bob.

Unfortunately, this show had "death warrant" written all over it from it's inception: first was just MAKING a religious spoof; when the show was axed, the network said that the religious outcry didn't have much of a factor, but you KNOW it had SOME. Next was trying to make a prime-time cartoon show make it; it was a very long time in between The Flintstones and The Simpsons before that happened, and several others failed (Fish Police, Capitol Critters, etc.). Last, I think they ran it against something popular...like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire or something. So it was killed within only about three shows, I think.

Pity.
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The Turning (1992)
The Turning...OFF
12 January 2002
Ho ho ho! Ho ho ho! Ho ho...ho HUM.

No, this movie doesn't have anything to do with Christmas; however, I am currently writing this just fresh from the holidays (are those New Year's resolutions forgotten already?), and it was pretty much the Scrooge of my Christmas week, which is when I rented it, unfortunately.

Yes, Gillian Anderson has her infamous/famous (?) topless scene. Yes, this is probably a five day rental at your local Blockbuster. And yes, you'll probably need the whole five days to watch it; one of those "half an hour at a time" movies.

Actually, it's not THAT bad, but it's not that good, either. It could've made a decent drama...MAYBE.

The problem is, it takes place in a small town, where it's typical that nothing happens there...which goes for this movie as well. After being gone for several years, a local finally returns to his mother due to an unsettling incident.

There. That's the plot, pretty much. So as you can see, it's no big deal pretty much just to start with...plus a lot of the mother/son dialog is one to roll your eyes over, and I feel sorry for Karen Allen for being in this. She can actually act, but never became a huge star, as she either has had roles here and there over the years or she's been in a lot of films that didn't make it, like when Brenden Fraser was starting to make his splash in the goofy Encino Man, yet that was already about his 30th movie at the time, and then he got huge with George of the Jungle and the two recent Mummy movies. I hope Allen doesn't have to do any other films like this, but then again, this was made 10 years ago, and I've seen in her Law and Order in the last year or two, so hang in there girl!

About all that had going for this movie (somewhat) was her brightening it up (a tiny bit) by being a part of the sub-plot as a local real estate agent. She's the girlfriend of the returning wanderer's father, and that was The Reason the wandering bum came home: he thinks his wrongdoings from the past can keep his parents from splitting.

Puh-LEAZE! In real life, whenever I hear of an amateur and/or stupid criminals-type bit on the news, most of the time I mumble to myself "probably some dumb kids"...but then sometimes I catch myself and remember when <<I>> was a teenager and hated it whenever people said that about MY type. Sometimes we don't give kids the credit they deserve; in general, they're not that bad.

Six year olds also don't understand why their parents are getting divorced; they think mommy and daddy are separating because of something they did. But if it's explained to them they'll understand in time.

This is one of the problems I had with this movie: this guy is in his, what, 20s or 30s, and he's so brain-dead he can't figure THIS out?! I mean, in a way, I suppose it's kind of sweet, but here it was so unrealistically dumb I didn't buy it.

His mom as an alcoholic, chain-smoking part-time writer was kind of interesting, and yes, Anderson has her topless scene, yes, it's nice, no, it's not for very long, and no, you don't even get to see it all. So if that's the only reason to check out this movie, fast forward it to the 50 or 60 minute mark and skip the rest.

After all, I meant to rent another movie that I hadn't really heard of, with "actresses" I never heard of, but they're showing skin on the cover...so chances are it's a bad movie but with a lot of nudity. Occasionally I rent one of those (I'm a GUY, ok?), but the movie wasn't there. Oh well.

Oh, and what was the Recommendation here? Maybe it was left blank, meaning ANYTHING'S better than this.
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Red Dwarf (1988– )
the Married...With Children of outer space
1 December 2001
I think that pretty much sums it up. Stupid humor -- although at times QUITE clever -- put into outer space.

Probably THE best aspect of this show, and what makes it work so well, is that it's a British production. Every time a totally ridiculous element is introduced, it's given almost no background at all, and just thrown to us watchers in a "you know what's going on here" way, even though we really have no idea what's going on actually, and then we get to the action. Some of these bits include a world the guys find where everything runs backward, the background of the entire show involves an inept computer program (Holly), the last human being alive, his cat, which evolved into a human (sort of/whatever!), a robot that's probably more human than anyone else of the crew, and a hologram of a dead crewmate, real life sirens that lure men to their home planet, and all kinds of other crazy stuff that have no reason to happen in real life, but then again, you do not care; all you care about is how the guys are going to get out of their dilemma, and how funny it's going to be until then.

Lister, for instance -- the guy who caused the extinction of everyone on the ship (when the series first started, that is) -- could have been your average, ugly, overweight American, so to anyone who thinks the British are proper, this should blow that stereotype way out of the water. Granted, I've been a big fan of one of their (the British) death metal bands, Bolt Thrower, for nearly 10 years now, which for a while they were one of THE heaviest bands EVER, plus I have a lot of episodes of another fine British sitcom, Are You Being Served? on tape, so this warped outer space synopsis fits in just fine with me, thanks.

I would say the special effects are laughable and done on the cheap, but that just adds to the appeal to the show, and sometimes things turn out looking pretty cool (I always liked the way Kryten, the android, looked), and occasionally they'll come up with a pretty cool concept, like once I was wondering how that bug-shaped scout ship (whatever it's called) could withstand crashing on planets, being hit by flaming meteors, etc., without barely a dent...and then I found out the answer when they said in the 22nd century they started making all aircraft with the same material of airline black boxes (since that would be all that would survive crashes most of the time).

I really can't say anything bad about the show, but then again, the public tv station here only has the first 4 or 5 years, and hasn't shown it for the last couple of years (the last "new" episodes we got were around the Gunmen of the Apocalypse era), which I read several complaints here about how seasons 7 and on have stunk (or somewhere around there). So I would like to see more shows, but maybe I'm better off without them.

So, if you want warped, original, bizarre, not normal humor, check it out and consider yourself lucky, since it took the creators YEARS of trying to pitch it before they were granted the go-ahead to make the show...and look at how big it got.
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Phantasm II (1988)
7/10
creepy as hell
2 October 2001
Well well well...here's something rare: a decent sequel (in my opinion).

Here's something else that's rare: the movie succeeded in being creepy, which a lot of other so-called "horror" movies fail to do. They either claim to be "scary" by having (this is kind of hard to explain here in text) a person in a scene back up, not being right in the center of the Point Of View of the camera, but off to the side...so the filmmakers will hope we won't see someone grab them from offscreen and that we'll be scared, which has been done about a billion times since the first horror movie ever came out (whatever it was), or they throw in a bunch of gore and claim that it's "scary" that way. (Some people also don't know what scary is, like when a friend of mine once said she didn't like them scary movies, like Freddy Krueger and all...come on, Freddy wasn't scary, he was just cool!)

Actually, I didn't think this movie was scary either, but creepy, as I kind of liken the atmosphere of this movie to Steven King's Children of the Corn short story, which I thought was really creepy due to a town being totally empty, for some reason...except for the weird children. Well, it wasn't creepy onscreen, since an empty town with nothing going on made it...BORING. Here the towns are empty...and so are all of the graves; they looked like they were freshly dug for the newly deceased to be placed into, but it was actually just the opposite (and by the way, was I the only one to notice that every SINGLE small town had absolutely HUGE graveyards?!).

Granted, some of the script bites, I didn't think the new Michael could act (some people on here thought he could, but he just seemed to only have one facial expression and only said his lines with only one or two [mono]tones...THAT'S acting?) and some of it didn't make any sense...and I don't mean in the ways as to why the Tall Man is compressing humans into the evil dwarf minions, what the spheres are, etc., but I'm talking about what that priest had to do with it and all; his scenes are confusing and unexplained and should've been left out or explained as to what exactly he was doing (or what he was hoping to accomplish).

Some people have complained about how the atmosphere isn't the same as the first one, but I can't really comment on it, since I only saw the original about 15 years ago on tv, but rest assured, I WILL be re-renting it in the near future! All I can say is that this sequel was pretty brightly lit--rather than making it dark so we can't see who or what is going to pop out from the shadows, hoping to scare us (oh PLEASE!)--yet it was still creepy. So a new atmosphere was added! I'm just looking forward to Phantasm's End, slated for release in 2002!
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10/10
severely warped and hilarious
17 September 2001
OK, here's a VERY different holiday show...this one focusing on Halloween.

When I say that this is different, I don't mean that this show was different in it being one of the early -- if not the first (possibly?) -- Claymation shows. It's different because it has a lot of very bizarre elements, but that is not a complaint or a weakness...rather, it's a strength, as it goes to show of the originality and thought that went into this tale. I kind of liken the imagination of it to some 16-bit video games that came out back at about the same time period (the early 90's), like the bizarre backgrounds on some of the Sega Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog games, which made me think "just what drugs ARE the Japanese ON?"

The same would go for this, but those oddities are only for a few seconds here and there, not detracting from the plot or anything. The show starts off a long time ago, with Dr. Frankenswine (yes, he's a pig) creating his monster, and then it goes back to the present (or the near past) and then focuses on Wilshire Pig and Sheldon Snail, a couple of partners in crime who are developing a new type of carnival ride, but end up accidentally unearthing Dr. Frankenswine's long-lost diary and a map to his castle, where they can claim their fame and fortune.

I WOULD say I can't really dwell any more on an only 30 minute special, but like I said, it was incredibly original and hilarious. There's tons of things going on and a lot of stuff happening in the background where you can watch it 20 times and still find new things going on that you didn't see before. I taped it myself back in 1990, I think it was (and by the way, how come this was only shown on tv once or twice EVER? For shame!), showed it to a friend of mine who was forming a band, and then the next night or two later when his bass player friend came to visit, he popped a tape in his vcr (he just HAD to get a copy of it from me!) and told him to watch it, advising him that it would be the "greatest thing you will ever see in your entire LIFE!"

Well, I'm not sure if it's THAT good, but I have seen it probably 50 times or so, loving the bizarreness of it (why, by the act of a snail picking up a diary would transform him into a movie projector, showing a film clip of the story of Dr. Frankenswine is beyond me, but it's still funny), how our heroes are thrown from one predictament to another (i. e. MANY, one after the other!), the inventiveness of it, and the hilarity of it all.

About the only VERY minor problems with this is that it looks a bit rough around the edges nowadays, since that was Claymation from the early days (Will Vinton's current The P. J.s show is a lot more solid, as far as how the characters look and all), as supposedly stationary objects in the background shift and all, but that's only being nit-picky. If you can find someone who has this, or if you can find it on the net or anything (Vinton and/or his company probably has a website somewhere), as I don't know if you can buy it on video, then prepare to be spellbound and laugh like anything.
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The Ref (1994)
heh heh heh heh heh
26 May 2001
Quite a different holiday comedy, this one is. It's not exactly the warm fuzzy holiday movie, but at least it'll make YOUR family look better.

Denis Leary is a cat burglar who's robbery goes afoul on Christmas Eve. Undaunted, he holds up a couple in hopes of hitting the jackpot. Unfortunately the two have been married for 12 years; she wants to work it out in therapy, he wants a divorce. Need I say more, except that they drive Leary insane?

One of the many brilliant aspects of this comedy is that the old "Little Town vs. the Big City: Which is Better?" argument is blown to shreds. EVERYBODY is insane in this idellic-looking town, pretty much (and in a sci-fi story I read once perfectly put it, "ho ho ho my a**!"). There's a drunken Santa Claus, an inept police force that destroys the evidence that can identify Leary (that was hilarious!), a man who saves face upon getting fired by telling his (now) ex-boss he had an affair with his wife while he was out of town, a blackmailing kid, and more.

Unfortunately there's a dinner scene that drags on for too long that is short on laughs, but the rest of the movie makes up for that (oh well, it's a Jerry Bruckheimer film; most of his movies are long: dig Pearl Harbor at three hours!). Definitely worth a rent, though, if not a few, despite bad language o'plenty.
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Dark Star (1974)
6/10
lunar lunacy
17 May 2001
When this came out, it was one of the very, very, very, very, VERY few sci-fi comedies ever made--or maybe it was the first--and that still holds true today (although there were supposed to have been two more sci-fi comedies out last year; perhaps Space Truckin'--which went straight to video--was one and someone chickened out on the other). Unfortunately if someone has seen the hilarious (in my opinion) Galaxy Quest and then hears about this one and decides to check it out, chances are they'll be disappointed, since this movie needs more jokes and all. Still, not a bad first effort from John Carpenter.

Speaking of which, there were TONS of things that made this unique...just the fact that John Carpenter made it, which he's done mostly horror movies since, is one thing. He also did the music, which is pretty good. Dan O'Bannon starred in this, who went on to make Alien, a totally killer movie that also was a blend of genres (sci-fi and horror). I also find it funny that, at one point near the end, a piece of debris says it's the Toilet Tank THX 1138 (is that number right?), which was George Lucas' first movie, then years later Star Wars was made...which was also low budget (but WAY bigger than Dark Star's!)...and the Star Destroyers looked suspiciously like the Dark Star...and the cast was also mostly unknowns...and George Lucas also did a special edition of that movie as well. Hmmm...

And speaking of "special": a movie about a group of astronauts who travel the galaxy blowing up unstable planets...VERY original (not to mention they're losing their minds, too). The past obviously repeats itself, due to the government official at the beginning (LOVED that bonehead!) who reports they don't have enough money to spare from the budget to give the guys life saving radiation shielding and then insults them with a lame pep talk.

Even with a severely low budget, sometimes less is more: there's this alien that's basically a beach ball--or a beanbag chair--with feet, and I swear I can imagine a frowning pair of eyebrows when he clicks his toenails in disgust in the scene when Pinback tries to feed him!! I also thought the ending was perfect, when they all...well, you know...it was just a fitting end, if you ask me. After all, they were out of toilet paper!!

The movie just needed more jokes and a few scenes shortened, like the elevator scene. Other than that...yeah, "spaced out", indeed.
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Gandahar (1988)
7/10
not typical sci-fi
1 February 2001
I noticed this movie at a local rental place the other week and thought, 'What on Earth is THIS?'

My dad has a book with 17,000 movie reviews--just reviews ranging from a sentence to a couple of paragraphs--and they gave it 2 1/2 stars--3 being good--so it was almost good (to them). They chastised the almost non-existent characterizations, which I agree; we're given a character, we're given about half a minute background on them, and then this is what the character has to do. I was surprised that they didn't mention the almost non-existent voice "acting" (note the quotes), as everyone just pretty much mumbled their lines...even such a big talent as Glenn Close (playing the queen) didn't help.

However, please note these are VERY minor gripes. I would've given the movie three stars myself. It's not the typical sci-fi, with the stupidity of childhood geniuses and robots with feelings abound (and I don't think the stereotypes of "oh no, it's sci-fi AND a cartoon!" help either). It's very imaginative, but pretty dark and apocalyptic; probably not for kids under the age of 6, if not 8.

And on a side note, there was some pretty good music in it, too, and a lot of it.
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