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Way, way too much plot and too many non-essential characters sharing the screen
8 July 2018
Don't get me wrong, the large cast thing can work--if all the characters are interesting and have a point. Not to give anything away, but there's a sub-plot that takes way, way, way too much time.

You need one hero, and one villain. Anything beyond that is just waters things down. This movie meanders all over the place to no good point.

I liked the first movie, but I was tempted to walk out on this one more than once. In retrospect, I wish I had. They should have made a buddy movie with Rudd and Pena, and left it at that.

One question... Why is woman being a jerk considered being "strong"?
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Very good but walks a fine comedic line
7 December 2017
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this movie. Just about all the acting is top notch and it's, well fun. But there is an aspect that you see sometimes in Hollywood, generally when actors get too much input, of "top this" or "I want a funny line too!". In short, it borders on being to comedic for its own good.

But only borders. Overall, the movie manages to walk the line pretty well. Every once in a while I thought I was watching the actor and not the character. But only rarely. I especially enjoyed Jeff Goldblum who was actually pleasantly understated when he had a chance to go way over the top (in a bad way) Regardless, and in spite of Marvel's shameless mangling of Norse mythology, it's good time.
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A life long impact
24 October 2017
I remember seeing this film when I was young and finding it hard to believe that people would act as portrayed in this movie. Long years of experience later...

At its heart, the film is a condemnation of certain unsavory human characteristics. Most obviously, the movie pillories the press, and on another level the people who blindly follow its lead.

I don't want to give anything away, but I found this Wilder's most powerful movie in terms of impact. It's certainly not his worst. It's possibly more relevant and in tune with the present than with the time at which it was released.

Spoiler: This film will do nothing to heighten your appreciation of humanity. But it might open some people's eyes and perhaps make others realize that what you see going on today is hardly a new phenomenon.
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Not what I'd hoped for
5 October 2017
There are moments, but his is easily the worst Avenger's related movie to date. I never read Marvel comics, I was always a DC guy. Or I should say kid as I left them behind pretty young. But the Avenger's movies have been pretty good.

Nothing against the actors, who are all quite personable, especially the leads, but there's just something off about the whole approach. Exactly how long does it take to convey teen angst? Get on with it for heaven's sake. Like many a modern movie, this one's too long and filled with characters and scenes that could've been omitted. The Avengers flicks can get away with this because all the heroes are interesting. Peter's school chums, not so much.

From what I understand, Spiderman fans might find this truer to the spirit of the original character, but non-fans will probably wonder what happened to their Avenger movie. In that vein, this is the first that isn't on my re-watch list.

Ultimately, for my taste--completely forgettable.
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Bludgeoning viewers with the message
25 August 2017
For the most part I enjoyed this movie, and even laughed out loud once or twice. There are many funny moments, even if some smack of a certain brand of counter-culture.

But geez Louise, I completely lost track of the number of times we were hit with the "you need friends/you can't do it alone" message. And who exactly is that message aimed at? Everyone who doesn't want or think they need friends? How many of us fit that description? I began to wonder if the writers hadn't all just come out of rehab.

At any rate, there are worse messages for the kids, though I'm pretty sure that even they will tire of being hit repeatedly in the face with it like this movie does. Entertain, don't manipulate, entertain, don't manipulate, entertain, don't manipulate...
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BattleBots (2015– )
Better than the original
30 August 2016
I witnessed the Battlebots contests and filming twice here in San Francisco when Comedy Central was doing the show. I sincerely thought that they never captured the spirit or the true violence of the event.

What still doesn't come across is how large and vicious these things are, but the present show does largely capture the spirit of the event instead of trying to gloss over it with lame humor and WWE- style antics.

A shout out to the the talking heads, especially Chris and Ken who show real enthusiasm for the fights. That was completely missing from the old show.

One thing has happened for the better with the actual event. The pure wedge bots that did nothing but try to upend or shove their opponents around have basically been eliminated. Good riddance!!! They were deathly boring and probably the reason the old show stretched so much.

A great show, nothing to offend, and a way better than the old version. Give it a try.
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Deadpool (2016)
Guilty pleasure. Not for kids. Really.
1 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, I wasn't sure to expect from this movie. After all, it is a comic book movie. Excuse me, graphic novel. But I enjoy those if they're well-made. I enjoyed this one. It is funny, and the acting is simply superb.

But it's also crude, rude, and largely insensitive--in a good way. This is not a movie for kids, and should've been rated X. X as in you're going to be trying to eXplain stuff for several months afterwards if you make the mistake of letting the children in on it.

Ryan Reynolds is a hoot, and everyone else seems to be pretty much having a great time feeding off the energy he brings on. Everything else? Geez, I can't really think of anything I didn't like about this movie except for the slightly guilty feeling I got after wallowing around in the off-kilter humor and gore.

Deadpool somehow manages to capture today's urbane, cynical point of view and turn it into something positive. That in an of itself is a neat trick. Just put the kids to bed first. No matter how much they whine.
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Too much, way too much
31 July 2016
There are moments of original Star Trek in this movie when the main characters are in play, but those moments are buried under an avalanche of special effects, needless subplot, and "screen time" for supporting actors.

The screenplay is unusually heavily charted by demographics even by today's Hollywood standards, and the philosophy is the pure Gene Rodenberry utopianism that has almost killed the franchise several times. There's also a healthy dose of Hollywood's hypocritical relationship with violence, i.e, railing against it while entertaining you with it. Then there are the numerous maudlin moments as the movie tries to poke at your emotions.

But the real issue is that the movie seems to be modeled after an adventure park ride rather than anything approaching cinematically relevant. One scene tries to be more fantastical than the next, with the end result being that it's all unbelievable, clichéd, and becomes boring in short order.

What could have been the saving grace is the acting. It's very good. Spot on mostly. And the casting was brilliant. But they can only do so much given so much time devoted to the ceaseless action sequences and often overblown writing. (There are a few humorous and nicely understated interactions) If ever there was a franchise that needed to heed the "less is more" mantra, it's this one.

If you're looking to kill two hours in a cool place watching attention deficit theater, it could be worse. Personally I'm sorry I devoted the time and money to it. I watched to the end only because I was with someone else and got up to take a breather several times. I won't pay again for this franchise until they make a real movie.
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Not fun, not entertaining, not worth the electrons it displaces
20 May 2016
I don't even know where to begin with this flick, but I still have a hard time believing I sat through the entire mess. It's overly serious, overwrought, and filled with what passes for "wisdon" in Hollywood. I kept excusing myself to go out to the lobby just to clear my nostrils.

Starting with the Dark Knight, the entire DC universe, which I preferred as a child, has gone to this ridiculously "dark" and "adult" place, which I find hard to fathom. They were feakin' comics for goodness sakes. At least the makers of the Marvel films know to keep it on the light side.

This movie was not entertaining, not fun, and a complete waste of time. Including the hour it took me to recover from it and the "worldly cynicism" of every character in it.

Garbage. Three stars for the cinematic production folks.
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Wow. Did they really do this? Spoilers
31 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
You know... I guess I should be used to being out of the target demographic, but this movie was just plain rude to anyone who was a fan of the original. I'll get to that at the bottom so as not to put a huge spoiler in plain view. If you've never seen a Star Wars movie, or think the original is quaint and dated... Read another review.

Problem one: They copped the plot and much of the script straight from of the original. There's hardly any variation except to delay one detail to the very end. Even the scenes are recognizable and comparable.

Problem two: As with The Empire Strike back, this is only half a movie with the sequel set up in the last scene.

Problem three: The movie is too long. Many scenes are too long. What is it with action movies these days? I think it's that they want you to have enough time to forget how much you paid to get in.

Problem four: The new main characters and actors are of the Portman, Christensen ilk--too young and not mature enough to be truly interesting.

The older actors look as if they know their obsolescence has been planned are part of something that lacks the magic of the original, and convey a sense of doom that doesn't come from the plot.

Excepted are several character actors and a CG character.

Now to the major spoilers...

Luke Skywalker is on screen for all of 30 seconds in the very last scene. He doesn't say a word.

They freakin' kill Han Solo! Are you kidding me? Even worse, in retrospect, it looks as if Harrison Ford is acting throughout as if he knows he's been written out of part VIII. This one thing absolutely ruined the whole deal for me. If you're a fan of the first movie, it's likely to do the same for you.

Yet again there's a death star, only this time it's a base on a planet using the energy of a star. How clever.

Why did I give this movie even four stars? Because once or twice, in between dozens of cringes, it made me laugh, and visually it's one of the best films I've ever seen. The last half hour cost it two stars.

I'm beginning to think that JJ Abrams is only capable of extremely good-looking, but ultimately unsatisfying movies. He started off decently with Super 8 and Star Trek, but mucked it up with Into Darkness and now this. Maybe Disney put a gun to his head for this.

I have two very carefully chosen words for Disney and JJ Abrams for what they did to my memories, but I'd never be able to review another movie here if I wrote them. Instead, I'll just say that they should have waited till all the fans of the original were dead. Enough.
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Balls of Fury (2007)
5.3.... Are you kidding me? Better than that if you get the references.
27 September 2015
Humor is subjective, but to me this movie is both fun and funny. Not to mention a great tribute/parody on the karate flicks, primarily Enter the Dragon, that it mimics. I often use it to lighten a bad mood.

I think part of the reason it's rated so low is that a lot of viewers may not be familiar with the old-school martial arts films and not get the premise, and/or the references. If you don't, I can imagine a lot of the humor whizzing right past you.

Let's put it another way. If you don't think the idea of a ping-pong underworld and ping-pong death matches is funny, you may not like the movie. If you do, watch. I think Dan Fogler is brilliant, as are nearly all the bit players.

It's over the top, but in a friendly sort of fashion. Don't dismiss it because of the low rating.
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Paul (2011)
Great premise, fun, but a little off-balance
11 September 2015
For the most part I enjoyed this movie, but it seemed a bit rushed and shallow. Perhaps, because the writers were too busy making fun of certain stereotypes and being socially political. Perhaps because, being residents of the U.K. they were caricaturing caricatures and trying a little bit too hard to dispel others. Maybe they were just having too much fun on their U.S. road trip.

I also found too much of the acting overly hammy. Somebody has to play the straight man, but there's little of that. I could've used a little less toilet humor as well. As they actually say in the movie "You have to pick your spots"

All that aside, the basic tenor of the movie is pleasant because, I would guess, that there's a love of the subject matter. Also, it seems that the actors were having fun with the roles and making the movie. I've seen a lot worse, but with a bit more restraint, this movie could've been great.
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Needed more Arnold, fewer plot twists
11 September 2015
If you've reached the age where you don't find "clever" to be clever, I might advise you to steer clear of this convoluted summer blockbuster. However, there's the Arnold factor. While he's probably never going to be the star who carries the entire load again, he's the nigh on perfect foil for uninteresting young leads.

Speaking of which, who cast this epic? I realize that in a modern Hollywood obsessed with making little girls he-men it's not easy being the lead male. Never mind. I guess he was okay. Her, enh.

There comes a time when script and story writers get lost in the fandom of a certain "world", and not wanting to bore the core audience, invariably pile on "unexpected" twists and turns. This one's full of them. Far more than necessary in my book.

Then again, that might be because like nearly all modern action movies, this one is at least 20 minutes too long.

Long story short, (after telling the long story), Arnold and J.K. Simmons provide nearly all the interesting acting in what is otherwise a video game put to film.
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If you're over 60 or a musician, you need to see this
2 April 2015
Even if you didn't grow up with the music, you're bound to recognize nearly all of it. And the film is done well enough that you should enjoy it even if the subject matter doesn't fascinate you right off the bat.

I first saw this film as a preview in Alameda when the director was showing it in private screenings to raise the money to pay the royalties. There are a lot of very famous, well-known songs and he was determined to see everyone got paid. After all, it's about a group of studio musicians who worked for a living.

Just saw it again, and it wears extremely well. It's a documentary, and there's naturally there's some nostalgia, but mostly it's a celebration that mirrors the light-hearted spirit of one of the main subjects, the director's father, Tommy Tedesco.

Like I said up front, if you grew up in the 60's or are a musician, it's a must see. For me it's a 9, but I lowered the rating a point as I realize not everyone is going to be as fascinated by the subject matter as I am.
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Big Hero 6 (2014)
Not for adults, not very good
8 March 2015
When I saw the Disney name of this I figured it has to be pretty decent. Instead, it's another scripted by demographic, clichéd (even in trying to counter them) adolescent fantasy.

I take that back. That's selling adolescence short. I'm figuring that anyone over the age of 11 is going to find this movie less than satisfying.

I find it absolutely mind-boggling that this movie won an Oscar. Was it the only animated film made last year or something? I'd rate this hardly better than Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. And that's bad.

I'd say buy it for your kids, but I'm thinking you might not want to expose them to any more of Hollywood's hypocritical, schizophrenic relationship with violence than you have to.

It's sad to see Disney produce stuff like this.
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My Lord! (of the rings)
11 January 2015
That's the polite version of what I was thinking while I sat through this. The rest of the thought was "Will it ever end?".

The kicker is, there's some very good acting and it's a classic story with some truly touching moments. But the endless repetitive and exaggerated action scenes, unnecessary subplots, ridiculous added material and alterations to the plot distract mightily from the main. Personally, I'm hoping for a directors that culls all three movies down to the three hours total that's required for the story.

Less is more, keep it simple stupid.. Choose the phrase. I don't know if it's bloated because of Jackson, or bean-counters, but rumors indicate the latter and it's a shame. Greed.

Martin Freeman is brilliant and could have carried all three films (which should have been two at most) by himself, but wasn't really given the chance. Really frustrating.
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Liked it more than I thought I would
4 December 2014
Okay, it's kind of dumb, and some of the shtick is old-hat, but it does have heart. At least I saw it that way.

Take this with a grain of salt as I was able to FF through some of the stuff I found pedantic. That includes almost all the scenes that deal with teen angst, children of divorce, yada, yada... I don't know why it's there to be honest. It's just a anchor on the pace.

What does work is everything else, and I found the actors appealing as well as displaying genuine warmth throughout. Good enough for me. I don't care what others say, Tim Allen is just fun to watch.

This is a kids flick, but I like kid's flicks because... Well, I'm not sure why. Excepting the obligatory scatological humor. There's not much of it so, there you go.

I think this movie is rated way too low, so don't let that put you off. It's entertaining and there's not much that will offend anyone. It's not 'A Christmas Story', but it's a decent little Christmas flick.
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A tad dreary and serious, but well-acted with some nice moments
18 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The biggest problem with this movie is that it's just too darn serious, too darn much of the time--a common problem with modern sports movies. It's football and from what I have seen of the team and the parents (I played baseball in Tri-Valley with some of the dads), De La Salle is serious about the sport, but they also manage to have some fun along the way.

That said, I did enjoy most of the movie, and the story is largely true, if sometimes portrayed in cliché fashion. I've followed it for years in the local papers here in the bay area. The murder was a particularly cruel twist of fate. They didn't need to add the obsessed, domineering father who I'm guessing is supposed to be the "bad guy" in a movie that doesn't have or need one. As to the faith aspect. It's about a Catholic HS football program and integral to the story, so get over it.

All in all, it's not the best, but not the worst sports movie I've ever seen. If you can wade through the more overly-serious scenes, there are some entertaining moments.

BTW, the TD record was fictitious, but the coach retired with 399 wins--and it was to make a point.
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Informative, but too political and long-winded
3 October 2014
I was slightly startled to find that while there were seven episodes, only two covered TR--a man that accomplished more in his lifetime than any other three humans I can think of, including FDR and Eleanor.

There are numerous assumptions of espoused political and social attitudes being in fact correct, with lip service given to opposing views. The sections on domestic and social agendas drag on and on, especially in the FDR/Eleanor episodes. To the point where I started losing interest. I saw strong hints of political bias in many sections.

All that said, though I've read several biographies of TR and FDR, I learned a great deal new about all three of the major players and the restored photography and video is great. But by devoting only two sections to TR, they glossed over some amazing parts of his story.
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Maybe it's just me...
1 September 2014
I liked the first movie enough to re-watch it, but the sequel is too long, too simplistic, and is yet another Hollywood epic that preaches pacifism and negotiation only to create a final solution out of violence.

The politically correct messages are overbearing, the catering to every conceivable demographic obvious, and the characterizations disturbingly one-note. The whiny mannerisms of the hero really began to bug me only a short way into the movie. And they kill off an important character who happened to be my favorite. Does anyone else find it odd that the other characters seem blissfully happy only a few minutes later?

How this movie has garnered a rating over 8 is beyond me. It's contrived and a real disappointment in my book.
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Scott's Best -- Magnificent Movie
10 June 2014
Okay, this movie is right up my alley, but still.. It's intelligently written, incredibly well-acted, exciting (in a slower way than most modern action flicks) thoughtful, and true to the fighting sail genre. The production values are outstanding as is just about everything else. It's obviously a work of love.

On the other hand, if you've read the O'Brian novels, you might miss some of the finer points of the Aubrey/Maturin relationship. Personally, I read the books after, so it wasn't an issue.

I must have watched this ten times by now, and I still marvel at some of the detail. My only caveat is that it is not your standard Hollywood production which has been written trying to appeal to every demographic. It is what it is, so you'll need to be interested in the subject matter. If you even remotely are, you should find it a very rewarding viewing.
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Technically superior; far, far too long
20 March 2014
It takes less time to read the entire book than watch one installment of this "trilogy". Peter Jackson must have needed work badly to participate in, or create this overblown epic.

I find it shocking that viewers have rated it above 8. Yes, it looks good. That and the fact that there's hardly any toilet humor, except in the most literal sense, are the only reasons I rated it as high as 5. Beyond that, it suffers J.K. Rowling syndrome,i.e., the love of one's own voice and the inability to edit. Or is the motivation monetary? The action sequences are too numerous and too long. Indeed, everything is too long.

The charm of the book is nowhere to be found. Well, I did notice Martin Freeman trying to inject some at a couple of points, but his efforts are are lost in a sea of effects and needless action. Also, there can't be any climax because everything is so amped up from the start. When not amped up, it's needlessly dreary. Is Kiwi weather relentlessly gray or something?

Finally, I'm getting sick of movie-makers changing books and adding characters to suit their own vision, or please some imagined demographic. People love a good story. I do. But this one's so bogged down by effluvium that I can't imagine sitting through the opening credits again, let alone the entire flick.

The entire trilogy boiled down into one two-hour (maximum) movie. That I might watch. That's what it should have been. Otherwise, they won't get any more money out of me. I'm officially in protest. You should be too.
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The Rocketeer (1991)
Good, and better 20-years on
22 January 2014
When it first came out, I remember enjoying the first 30 minutes of this movie, then finding it a bit slow. This time around, I found myself appreciating the tribute aspects a bit more and enjoyed it in its entirety.

You'll like this movie a lot more if you know about the era and the real life counterparts of the characters that are referenced and portrayed. Without that knowledge, the movie might appear far more naive than it actually is.

The acting is generally spot on for the tribute tone of the movie and both the leads are outrageously good-looking people. If memory serves I developed a slight crush on Ms. Connelly after my original viewing of this movie. I'm sure I wasn't alone. I'm not sure it didn't happen this time. This was filmed long before she joined the Hollywood cult of the anorexic.

The FX are nicely done and the science is perfectly out of whack considering the genre that the film mimics.

All in all, I appreciate this movie and its honoring the past without becoming a schmaltz-fest. It's an action movie done in a thoughtful manner. I Like It.
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Elysium (I) (2013)
Looks great, liked Damon, too many stereotypes, wrong focus
27 November 2013
I liked District 9, it had a quirkiness that's lacking in this film. Elysium's visuals are stunning, and well thought out, but the concept is rife with South African sensitivities. The elite are shallow or downright evil, the military types are brutish, and the only people with any spark of goodness are the downtrodden.

The movie starts with the premise that earth is massively over-populated, shows it, then veers immediately into a simplistic poor versus rich theme. At no time is any thought given to the basic issue of overpopulation or what it did to the planet and what could be done about it, it's just somehow the wealthy and powerful's fault.

And I don't know how it works in South Africa, but there's a rich history of philanthropy in the U.S. At any rate, the director needs to pull his head out of wherever it's stuck and balance the equation. At least if he wants interesting movies.

Matt Damon was very good, as were most of the actors given a chance to be. There was little to no development of the Elysium-side characters so it was hard to care one way or the other about them. In the end that made it difficult to care one way or the other about the movie.
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Iron Man 3 (2013)
Convoluted, over the top FX -- Saved by a fascinating actors
4 September 2013
There's a reason Robert Downey Jr. is a star. He's fun to watch. So is the supporting cast. Without him, or them, this flick would've been pretty bad. Whomever writes the script outlines and decided on the FX (which are well rendered for what they are) should be fired.

The movie meanders, trying hard to please everyone, and winds up proving the old adage. I call it script writing by demographics--you have to throw in a scene to appeal to every category of movie-goer, no matter how little sense it makes or how it affects the flow. It also seems they promise a certain amount of screen time to every actor/actress to get them to sign.

The FX are conceptually over the top, especially in the climactic scene. It seems that in FX-driven movies, there's an arms race to see who can create the most ridiculous, outlandish material. Only a ten-year old would be impressed. It's getting so obvious that the FX are becoming a distraction rather than an enhancement.

Despite my complaints, I enjoyed the movie--for the most part. As I said, there were interesting characterizations and quite a few fun bits. But I found the ending trite, unsatisfying, and hypocritical.
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