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Sword of Justice (1978–1979)
10/10
Classics are Ageless
15 December 2010
Dated, but isn't everything? Ignore the 70s hair and clothes, and take a step back. This is 'The Count of Monte Christo' for the new millennium. The basic plot is the same: honest man is framed for a crime he did not do, is imprisoned and while in prison learns a whole new set of skills. After his eventual escape/release he joins forces with a man he served time with, creates a new identity, and sets out to avenge the wrongs done against him. It has been said that there are no new stories; all plots you can conceive of are contained in the Greek myths, but so what? It is not the underlying story that is important - it is the way it is told, and 'Sword of Justice' does it well. As another reviewer put it, it's a shame it ran only 9 episodes, and worse that it has never been released to video. I'd buy it.
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Videodrome (1983)
10/10
The Medium Is The Massage
13 December 2010
Marshall McLuhan's book title was originally a mis-quote (It was supposed to be the Medium is the Message) but after seeing an advance copy he like the typo better. Videodrome explores this concept in a very frightening way "Is it real - or is it memorex?" I had a truly terrifying discussion with a young man who worked for me while I was stationed in Germany. Several of us were talking about taking a tour to Amsterdam and visiting the Anne Frank museum. Seeing his glazed expression I asked him if he knew who Anne Frank was. He made a face and admitted that he knew who she was "My English teacher made us read the book in High School." So I asked him what he thought of it. "Didn't like it." he replied. I granted that the events of the book were disturbing, but what didn't he like about it? "It wasn't real." he replied. I was confused, and pointed out that the book was the daily diary entries of a person who actually lived and died, what could be more real than that? "Well, you know..." he said. "..like Television." I was stunned. The Diary of Anne Frank wasn't real, but Starsky and Hutch was. Since this young man and his generation would be running the world when I grew old I knew we were doomed.
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1/10
This explains so much
16 March 2010
I am a proud owner of Volume 1 of this series (can only two entries be considered a series? - ah well, I digress) and this entry explains why there was no third. Volume one was an excellent retrospective of Makeup man/FX artist Tom Savini. Volume two is... I don't know what it is other than a waste of time. As other reviewers have mentioned, this killed the franchise. Fangoria had a great idea with Volume 1 - present an in depth background of an influential person in the horror/fantasy film making world. I was looking forward to chapters about George Romero, Rick Baker, even Jim Henson! (Black Crystal?) This entry killed it. RIP.
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5/10
Doesn't Anyone Have Any Matches?
17 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Not sure if this is a spoiler, but in this remake of John Wyndham's book, the sap of Triffids is a source of energy-rich 'Triff-Oil' which solves the worldwide energy crisis and burns so cleanly it reverses global warming, even though the Triffids are carnivorous mobile plants with deadly stingers. Not a big problem until the world is struck blind and people become easy prey to the triffids. But here's my WTF moment: If Triffid sap is so flammable, why doesn't anybody use a torch on them? Or Napalm from an airplane? There must be at least ONE pilot who wasn't flying when the world went blind. All we ask is a little internal logic.
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Sunshine (2007)
1/10
Why Do They Keep Doing This?
30 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
We don't expect Nobel-Level science from screenwriters, but a little attention paid to basic science would be nice - especially common sense. I'll confess to remaining a sucker for a sci-fi pitch, but when I am forced to keep repeating: "This CAN'T be this stupid - it's GOT to get better..." and it doesn't, I can only be mad at myself. Why can't I just TURN IT OFF! Because I am an eternal optimist who stupidly hopes the plot/acting will take a turn for the better. It never does. Basically a remake of Solar Crisis (1990) except instead of short circuiting a Solar Flare with a big bomb, they want to jump-start the sun with a big bomb. Hmmm - kind of like restarting the Earth's core with a big bomb. I guess Hollywood's answer to any ecological problem is to blow it up with a Big Bomb. Must be a Bush-era thing.
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2012 (I) (2009)
1/10
Why Am I Not Surprised?
27 November 2009
Once again, Roland Emmerich has raised an enormous budget and spent it all on CGI special effects. In a way, I'm happy for him and his family that he has found gainful employment, i.e., a paying job, but why must we allow the ENTIRE WORLD to think that Americans as a society are THIS STUPID?! For obvious reasons, we must view the end of the world in the cinema because when it really does come we'll be too busy running and screaming. And for the record - the end of the world is JUST THAT. There ain't no survivors, Ark or no. The levels of volcanism and fire would consume all the available oxygen, so even if you were one of the lucky 14 people to be in an area that wasn't drowned/burned/or broken open and roto-tilled into the depths of the planet, in a very few short hours you'll be asphyxiated. Last year's 'Knowing' was at least realistic. Giant solar flare = End Of Life. But even they just HAD to have a 'happy' ending where benevolent alien visitors save some of the children. A more realistic scenario would be: "End of the world's coming - make your peace with whatever type of God you can be comfortable with."

And there'd be a LOT more looting, rape and pillage... In the final analysis, it's never 'Women and children first' it's 'Every man for himself!'
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The Prisoner (2009– )
1/10
A Rose by any other name...
27 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
CONTAINS SPOILERS! Just so, a pile of cow manure will smell just as bad if called a Rose. I had high expectations about this show, with Ian McCellan playing '2', but as other posters have observed, this more like 'Lost' than 'The Prisoner'. Even taken on its own merits (?) if one knew nothing of the original series, you would still be left with "Huh?" filling your brain when it's over. Unlike the original, this one strives to answer all the questions, all neatly wrapped up during a 30 minute flashback limo ride between Jim Cavezial and Ian McCellan, ending in a church where 6 meets 313 in the real world. Too bad it doesn't work. They actually come right out and say it's all a dream, and all the people in the Village have been brought into the dreamer's delusion. Having said that, there is no explanation or rationalization as to how this magic is accomplished. Are the Villagers all being held in some hospital, wired up to a mainframe to allow them to share thoughts (Matrix) or is the 'Dreamer' (2s wife and later 313) a kind of benevolent Freddy Kreuger who can enter into and shape the villager's dreams to fit her concept of the perfect world? If the latter - what happens when they wake up? It is clearly stated that no one can escape the Village, so it is implied that once they enter the shared dream they can't wake up - unless they need you to drive a limo. But if they can't wake up, then who's changing the IVs and diapers? Very unsatisfying. The writers clearly said "This is the answer" but the answer makes no sense. The whole "Six is the One" chant (Matrix?) was done in the original with one very short piece of visualization: Number Six tackles number One and tears off his mask - and looks into his own face... Now THAT'S the kind of ambiguity that actually tells a story. From the beginning in the opening credits, the answer was in the voice overs between Six and Two: Six: "Who are you?" Two: "The new Number Two." Six: "Who is Number One?" Two: "You are Number Six." Two answers the question, but Six just doesn't hear it. He asks who number one is and the answer is: "You are."

What made the original Prisoner so enjoyable and thought provoking was that there were no concrete answers, because there were so many.

Overall - they blew it.
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Godzilla 1985 (1984)
9/10
A tip of the hat to Raymond Burr
31 August 2009
I love it when artists refer to their other work. In the 'Masters of Horror' sequence 'Deer Woman' directed by John Landis one of the characters mentions the "...giant mutant wolf they shot in Piccadilly Circus back in 1980..." an obvious reference to 'American werewolf in London' also directed by Landis.

The best line in the Americanized release of Godzilla 1985 (or Gojira 1984) goes to Raymond Burr, reprising his role of Steve Martin from the original Godzilla movie. After the American general orders planes to attack the monster one of the observers wonders aloud "Do you think it will work?" And Burr deadpans "It didn't last time..."

Now THAT's Theater!
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5/10
OK but unrealistic
10 June 2009
I'm only writing a review to share the humorist Erma Bombeck's observation.

In one of her last columns before her passing, she mentioned that she and her husband had gone to see this movie.

As they were driving home, her husband asked "Well? Would you?" "Would I what?" she asked.

"Would you sleep with Robert Redford for a million dollars?" "It depends," she said.

Her husband was shocked. "DEPENDS?" he choked. "Depends on WHAT?" "Depends on whether he'd let me make monthly payments..." she replied.

I passed root beer through my nose when I read that - had to share.
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Miracle Mile (1988)
10/10
The Sky Is Falling
24 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Low budget but excellently executed suspense film. As others have said, the action begins when Anthony Edwards picks up a ringing pay phone and gets a frantic message from someone in an ICBM silo who has apparently dialed the wrong number saying the missiles are on their way. For the next forty minutes it's a case of chicken little crying the sky is falling, as Edwards single handedly starts a panic in Los Angeles that has the populace rioting and fleeing for the hills. Halfway through the movie he pauses for breath as he views the carnage he's inspired and finally asks himself "Is this real? Have I caused a panic over a prank call?" - in an attempt to verify what's happening he dials the number the serviceman was trying to connect to and is connected to a very puzzled father of an airman stationed at a missile base. Dramatic pause - yes, the sky IS falling...
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Pearl Harbor (2001)
1/10
Historical Trivia
24 November 2008
In 1941 it cost the Empire of Japan 147 thousand dollars to stage the three hour attack on Pearl Harbor.

In 2001 Michael Bay spent $132 MILLION dollars to film the event, and ran four minutes longer.

Even taking into account 60 years of inflation, the Japanese did a better job with a smaller budget...

Due to the ten line minimum submission this may be too short - but sometimes less is more.

20th Century Fox already did the Pearl Harbor attack in Tora Tora Tora - and did an excellent job. Michael Bay should have left well enough alone.
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The Outer Limits: The New Breed (1995)
Season 1, Episode 14
10/10
Blood Music
14 December 2007
Very good episode, but I am shocked that Greg Bear got no writing credit. This is an almost verbatim adaptation of his novella and later expanded into novel 'Blood Music' In the original story, the 'infection' was a tailored virus, but in the expanded novel Bear jumped on the nano bandwagon and had the technology be tiny organic machines. I hope Bear got some sort of compensation for use of his ideas, even if he apparently got no screen credit.

Other minor differences involve who gets injected - in the story it was the inventor, who injected them into his own body to smuggle them out of the laboratory, after being told he was being laid off. The ending was visually interesting, and implied that the infection had spread to the wife. In the story the 'good' scientist tried to stop it by killing and bleaching the wife, too, but it was too late. Common 'Outer Limits' cautionary tale of our technology getting away from us and ultimately dooming us.
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10/10
A Truly Great Fantasy
18 December 2006
Funny, exciting, visually impressive and a darn good story, too. Most people remember Steve Reeves for his many incarnations as 'Hercules' - but this time he is a totally different character. Karim falls in love with the Arabian princess and sets out on a quest for the Blue Rose which will cure her illness. Along the way he faces trolls, wizards and a flying horse. He finds the rose, but loses it during an epic battle. Faced with the loss of the magic flower, he picks a red rose from a vase and says: "If you love me as much as I love you, the THIS is a Blue Rose..." The rose changes color - not nearly as impressive on the B&W TV I first saw the film on. I would love to own this, or at least see it again.
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St. Elsewhere: Once Upon a Mattress (1986)
Season 5, Episode 10
10/10
Absolutely funniest bit Howie Mandell Ever Did
14 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Allow me to summarize the Dr Fiscus sub-plot of this episode. In the previous episode (After Life) Fiscus was shot and experienced an out of body preview of the afterlife and was brought back by open-heart surgery. The character of Fiscus was a clown (wearing an examination glove on his head like a cock's comb) but after his near-death he is a sober, somber man. Having the med students come in to examine his scar just depresses him further. Add to this, the fellow in the bed next to his is in for a penile implant ("It's for my wife, you understand...") who votes for the inflatable implant, rather than the 'goose-neck' model ("Nothing's too good for my old lady...") After the surgery, with Fiscus still drowning in self-pity, the roommate announces that he's going to "Take this baby out for a test-drive!" and pulls the curtain between them shut. From behind the curtain, Fiscus hears "Fwish, fwish, fwish" and the roommate's amazed comment of: "Wow! My wife's gonna LOVE this!" "Fwish fwish fwish" "Holy Cow! That's amazing!" Fiscus is sitting up higher and higher in the bed, reacting to the sounds and comments emerging from behind the curtain. "Fwish fwish fwish" "Jeez! The old lady ain't gonna BELIEVE this!" "Fwish fwish fwish - BANG!" "OW! OH! OW!" Fiscus reacts in shock, and then begins to laugh, holding his aching ribs as the curtain pulls aside and the roommate displays the paper bag he's just popped. "Gotcha!" he grins, and Fiscus is in tears as he laughs and suffers the pain of his incision... Great TV
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