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I usually only see 3 movies at the cinema per year and that's only if they prick my interest in science fiction or comedy.
Bates Motel (2013)
A fitting companion to the original movie
Usually, a prequel tends to turn out disappointing because we already know where the character(s) are before we watch them. With this series, although we already know the Norman Bates story and eventual outcome, the chance to see the steady mental demise of the character does not diminish how we were first introduced to him in the original Psycho film.
The show is full of characters with few redeeming qualities and, in a strange way, it's good that they are disposed of in various ways - just about every main character seems to have blood on their hands.
In my mind, I picture the final scene in the series being Marion Crane checking into the Bates Motel, thus leading into the original movie. However, I am not psychic and cannot predict what the writers have planned.
5 seasons of this is definitely enough - any more would just be starting to repeat itself.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)
Definitely a classic
Channel surfing on a Sunday afternoon found me watching this movie for about the 6th time in my life and this is one of those films that I have to watch all the way through rather than move on. They just don't make movies like this anymore.
A lot of reviews of this movie will talk about how the time-line of the film isn't historically accurate but personally, I don't care if a movie matches up with history if the story itself is compelling enough to hold me - the overall story here is definitely what is important.
Essentially, this is a story about change - the young teacher at the start of the movie is a totally different person to the one at the end. At the start, he has a firm stand on how he must assert his authority over the children he teaches but as his story progresses, he softens as he comes to understand that life is about more than blindly following the rules.
It is through his younger wife that he learns that flexibility is the best way to deal with his charges and throughout the movie, we see him soften his approach through the years. By the end of the film, he has become the most respected teacher/master at Brookfield.
Robert Donat gives a magnificent performance as Mr Chips and, despite his relatively young age (34), plays the role as the aged school master brilliantly. Chips is a man who desperately wants to impart his knowledge to his students but must learn that teaching is an art that is learned on the job rather than through theory and, in his performance, Donat portrays a man who is worldly unwise opening himself up to a new way of seeing things.
Greer Garson has what appears to be a more subdued role to play but clearly she is the brains behind the changes to Mr Chips. She falls in love with a man she met in the mist on a mountain and managed to draw out the humanity in him once they married. She throws Chips in the deep end on the first day of the new school term and shows him that there is more to teaching than books and facts.
Garsons performance is subtle but powerful - here is a woman who sees potential and forces its hand. Donat certainly manages to play the part of not fully understanding he is being manipulated into becoming a better person.
Goodbye Mr Chips is a movie from the golden years of Hollywood - a time when originality and story telling was more important than making money. It is a simple movie that tells a story - that's it. Even though I have seen it numerous times, I still get a tear in my eye at that certain point in the movie that I won't spoil here - if you watch it, you will know what I mean.
My advice is that you see this movie.
A movie to relax to
I went into watching this movie at home after a long day at work and someone annoying me in a text message so I was looking for something to distract me. This was the perfect movie for this.
Is there a story in this movie? Well, yes there is but it isn't the story that the title refers to. It's a different take.
Were there any breakout belly laughs in this movie? Not really. There were a few chuckles and giggles here and there, but I am not exactly the target demographic. If you are anywhere between the ages of 8 - 12, you will really find this movie funny.
This is the kind of movie you would watch if you have had a bad day and you don't want to think too hard. The talents of Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner are probably wasted but they probably enjoyed the work.
This is Disney living up to its reputation as a family friendly company but saying that, it really isn't a horrible movie.
Invasion Roswell (2013)
It's time you won't get back
This is classic SyFy fare. Bad acting, plot holes galore and ripping off bigger budget mainstream movies - c'mon, admit it. You couldn't miss the similarities between this film and Independence Day they were so obvious.
The only two cast names I recognised were Denise Crosby and Greg Evigan (had to look him up to confirm he was in B.J. & The Bear) and they did a competent job in their roles. It would be nice to say the same for everyone else who signed up to ride this awful thing.
If you've got about 90 minutes to kill and you're not fussed about being intelligently entertained, this is the movie for you. It isn't Sharknado, but you might find yourself yelling at your television hoping that the stupid goes away at some stage.
Falling Skies (2011)
It does take a bit of patience
This show has grown on me. I wasn't really too sure that I was going to stick with it after the first couple of episodes but I am glad that I did because it has slowly developed into a show that is less driven by action and decided to look at the interactions between the characters as well as throwing in the odd red herring just to make sure you're still watching attentively.
Pros - character development over time, less emphasis on the sci-fi aspects of the story.
Cons - not knowing how it all started leaving me with a curiosity that needs to be addressed, the ignorance at times of the blatantly obvious reason things are happening and the characters inability to see it.
I think this one is going to be a keeper if the writing can hold out. If there is ever a resolution to the alien invasion, it would be nice to see the aftermath as opposed to finishing the series with a "the aliens were defeated and we all lived happily ever after" scenario like we saw with Star Trek - Voyager years ago.
Leaves you longing for more
Original science fiction seems to get the short end of the stick on television now-days but sometimes something will come along and make you sit back and do a double take.
Blood And Chrome is one of those things.
Being set in the netherworld that is the time between the canceled series Caprica and the re-imagined world of Battlestar Galactica, it shows that you can bridge the gap and tell a good story at the same time. If I were a TV executive, I would have been throwing buckets of money at the people behind the creation of this series pilot. However, the folks at SyFy are either not risk takers or oblivious to what constitutes real science fiction.
This pilot held my attention for its entirety and left me wanting more. At the end of it, I wanted to know how the adventures of William Adama led him from being a hot headed rookie pilot to becoming the Commander of the Battlestar Galactica. Alas, this may never happen.
While I thought it was a great 90 odd minutes of viewing, I only gave it a 9 out of 10 rating because the twist towards the end seemed a bit contrived for my tastes. There was a OMG, chills down my spine moment in the last 10 minutes though.
Someone start a letter writing campaign or a KickStarter to make this show a goer.
Could be a keeper
Being from Australia, I have only seen the first 3 episodes of this series and it has promise but only if it can avoid becoming just another police procedural show with an occasional visit to the future used to make it seem like it's staying within the bounds of science fiction.
The plot is simple enough - female cop attending the execution of a group of terrorists gets zapped back to 2012 via a device the terrorists somehow manage to smuggle the parts of into the execution chamber. Once in her past, she is compelled to find the criminals and prevent them from perverting the course of (her) history or make them take her back to her own time whereby she will arrest them again.
3 episodes is not really enough to give an accurate review on how this will all pan out, but some of the threads of the first 3 episodes intermingling are enough to keep me watching.
Holy Flying Circus (2011)
A treat of Pythonic proportions
I was too young to know about the controversy surrounding "The Life Of Brian" when it was first released, but in my adult years I discovered that not everyone felt the same way I did about the film - their loss.
Casting of the actors playing Monty Python cast was just about perfect from a visual point of view. The only issue I had was with the actor portraying Terry Gilliam not being able to fake an American accent effectively.
There are so many shout outs to the way the Flying Circus series was made in this film to make it almost seem like the original cast had made it in the early '80's and it had gotten lost somewhere and recently found and broadcast.
The irony of Stephen Fry portraying his particular character is outstanding.
I laughed out loud a lot while watching this "mockudramedy" and I would have given it a 10 star rating if not for the aforementioned bad American accent.
Mockingbird Lane (2012)
I'd definitely watch this if it were picked up
I'm old enough to remember the original Munsters television series and all of its clichéd comedy set ups - Herman and Grandpa getting into situations and find a way out every week etc.
This "re-boot" fleshes out the characters and give them life. In todays TV world, the old "set up the gag, hit the punchline" style of comedy has lost its appeal and comedies now have to be clever enough for the audience to find the joke themselves - Malcolm In The Middle really started this trend.
While there were not a lot of laughs in this Pilot, there were enough to warrant giving this show at least one full series to find its feet. Sometimes ratings shouldn't be the driving force that makes studio execs make the right decisions.
One of the best things about this re-boot is the fact that none of the characters is instantly recognizable as a parody of the famous Hollywood movie monsters like the original Munsters series. Yes, we know that Herman is a Frankenstein type of Monster, but he can fit into the real world in this show - of course, turtleneck sweaters would need to be added. Lily, Eddie and Marylin could quite easily pass as "normal". In this version, Grandpa would just be seen as odd rather then looking like Dracula.
This has got to be made into a viable series - dark comedy is something that has been lacking in TV for a long time.
Catch Kandy (1973)
A tale of two runaway children and their adventures
I remember this show from my childhood. If memory serves me correctly, the basic plot was that there were two children (Kandy and his sister) who may have been orphans living with relatives. There was an accident where Kandy thought he had killed one of his "parents" but he had only been knocked out. As a result the two children ran away from home and ended up living at the zoo with a homeless person.
Throughout the show, the "parents" were seen making some effort to locate the children to no avail. The children had some kinds of adventures with the homeless guy at the zoo but in the last episode, the two children returned to their home with no consequences of what had happened.
As far as the audience was concerned, the homeless guy remained living in the zoo.
Has potential but walk around the plot holes
Being a fan of both the original and rebooted versions of Battlestar Galactica, I was intrigued by how this spin off would tie in with the new version of BSG.
The concept was relatively strong, but if it ends up as a series, I fear a lot of soap operatic story lines. The biggest problem will be the time frame between this tele-movie and the events of the new Battlestar.
Suspend your disbelief to accept only 58 years to go from a prototype cybernetic life form (Cylon) to Cylons that look like humans plus have a war within the first 18 years of the development of the first Cylon then a 40 year gap till the decimation of the human race - based around the set up in the new Battlestar series.
I found the Adams (Adama) side of the story to be distracting compared to the Graystone side. It felt like the Adamas were thrown in to link this movie to the Battlestar series - most prominent in the last 10 minutes.
I am crossing my fingers that should this end up being a series that whoever gets to write for it figures out a way to make it all gel together in a plausible way.
Lost in Space (1965)
So much potential, so much wasted time
I figure that I must have seen Lost In Space the first time it was re-run in the 70's on Australian television (Channel 10 from memory) and as a kid, it was definitely a show that captured the imagination.
Nearly 40 years later, I don't see that greatness. All I see now is a group of actors who probably should have read their contracts a little more closely because somewhere in the fine print it must have said that by the 3rd season, your credibility as an actor won't exist any more.
The first few episodes of LIS had similar potential to that of Star Trek. What let it down was very poor scripts. Johnathon Harris as Dr Smith turning from an almost plausible villainous character to overacting coward didn't help much either.
If someone could watch the better episodes that made sense and write an entire new series with those as the core, it could easily become the launching pad for an entire new show like The Next Generation did with Star Trek.
I shouldn't be cringing in embarrassment for actors in a show that stopped being made 2 years after I was born.
26 years later, this still holds up well
I got to watch this movie this morning when they played it on Showtime - I hadn't seen in in something 15 years or so. Interestingly, it was rated "G" - I would have given it a PG because, real or not, people did expire at times.
With personal computers just entering peoples homes when this movie was released, the only people that had any real access to computers programmers and data entry operators that used computers in their every day life. The fact that this film didn't make the big dollars at the box office doesn't mean it wasn't a good concept, it just meant that people who didn't understand this new technological onslaught weren't about to shell out their hard earned money to see it.
Yes, it certainly looks dated, but everything looks that way from the point of view of 20 odd years into the future but some of the tech we take for granted today was there - for example, Dillinger's touch screen desk shows some forward thinking in an age of chunky push buttons and knobs.
Throughout the film, there seems to be a hidden message about the danger of allowing one all encompassing power to take control of smaller and weaker ones - an unintentional allusion to the dangers of a one world government perhaps. Was the MCP really the USA or USSR in disguise? Acting performances were generally good. David Warner played the sinister bad guy to great effect as he always has. Even at such a young(ish) age, he had a threatening aura about him. Bruce Boxleitner seemed to be a bit wasted considering his was the title role. His "real world" role was damaged by the ridiculous eye wear he had stuck to his head (I couldn't stop looking at the nerdy glasses he wore) and Jeff Bridges played the part of Jeff Bridges perfectly (I am sure that one day he'll play someone else).
I see the movie is to be remade in 2010. I would hope that it is faithful to the spirit of this original version and that they don't go CGI mad on it. With the way computers are networked and "Big Brother" can see everything now days, a fun family film might not be on the cards there.
War of the Worlds (2005)
If only Tom Cruise had been vaporised in the first 5 minutes.
I never saw this movie on the big screen simply because it had Tom Cruise in it and I wouldn't walk across the street to see him do anything let alone "act".
I do, however, usually enjoy the movies of Steven Spielberg and I honestly believe if he had been given a better script to work with, this movie would have been worth the ticket price.
Having read the book a few times, I believe that this movie deviates too far from the story that was told there. I believe it would have been possible to set the story in the current time period but maintain the story that HG Wells told. Giving the main character a family to care for as he made his journey across the country opened up too many sub-plots that couldn't be suitably ended in a two hour film.
The ending seemed rushed as well. To me, it was like the editor had to trim the film down so a scene or two was cut out at the end.
I can't fault the special effects of the film at all. The Martian fighting machines were impressive and the effects of the heat rays was effectively and suitably gruesome.
I hope that someone comes out with a decent War Of The Worlds set in the last years of the 19th Century as HG Wells wrote.
Camp Lazlo! (2005)
If you liked Rocko's Modern Life, you'll love Camp Lazlo
It seems that cartoons aren't treating kids like idiots anymore.
It was by chance one Saturday afternoon while channel surfing that I came across Camp Lazlo and the first thing that struck me was the resemblance of the animation to Rocko's Modern Life - and why not? It's made by the same person who created that show.
Young kids would be taken in by the speed at which things happen in each episode - there is no time to stop and think about what is going on nor is there any need to. Pure entertainment with no lesson to be learned at the end of the show.
It's all typical little boy behavior and insanity at Camp Kidney on the shores of Leaky Lake, with the only creature approaching any form of sanity being a slug named Slinkman - at least I think he's slug. He does have legs after all.
Where there's trouble, Lazlo the Brazillian Spider Monkey will be found smack bang in the middle of it with his two best friends, Raj the Indian Elephant and Clam the Pygmy Albino Rhino doing their best to keep up with him, leaving the rest of the gang of Bean Scouts to just go in whatever direction Lazlo and company pull them.
Watching over it all with a deep desire to escape is Scoutmaster Lupus (or Lumpus as everyone else calls him). This is one Scoutmaster you wouldn't want looking after your kids for any length of time.
Highly recommended for anyone who feels like an escape from the rat race and a few good laughs.