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The Good Place: Team Cockroach (2017)
Eleanor can't decide whether to team up with her colleagues or not. That's it. They all just stand around in Eleanor's house arguing about this decision for basically the ENTIRE EPISODE.
They stretched an argument that should've been 5 minutes maximum screentime, and made it the excruciating length of a whole episode. Now I feel like I'M in the Bad Place.
I get that you have to have basic episodes to save money for the effects-heavy ones, but some clever writing will always make up for a lack of budget.
Skip this one.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Ruined by fiction, over-the-top racism reminders, and Hollywood stereotypes
I was really looking forward to this movie, but too many aspects of it make it inaccurate and hard to recommend.
- Stop making serious period dramas and giving the characters modern pop culture traits! The black women in this piece have moments where they act exactly like modern Hollywood stereotypes: sassy, ditzy black women who end up showing everyone who's boss. And of course, they have 21st century attitudes about women, sex, etc. I half expected the script to then call for them to be sleeping with all the astronauts, and heck, why not make the girls all bisexual as well?
- This film pulls the racist card NON-STOP. Every chance it gets, there's a white person putting down a black person, or it's constantly reminding you of "us versus them". In an interview with Katherine Johnson, she said she DIDN'T feel like she was personally treated differently when she was at NASA. It was more of a case of segregation, rather than abuse and racist remarks. IMO, this kind of exaggeration in movies only hurts the race issue.
- The character Harrison portrayed by Kevin Costner was fictional. He was a mix of a few real-life characters, since apparently the film couldn't get the rights to use the real names. Costner did well, but of course they have him smashing down a segregation sign in true Hollywood fashion (which never happened).
I first found out about Katherine Johnson from the TV show Timeless (s01e08 "Space Race"), so I'm glad that show brought her to my attention.
Do yourself a favor and read up on the real women this movie portrays!
The Atheist Delusion (2016)
mind games and mental gymnastics, but still no evidence
I used to be a born-again bible thumper and a fan of Ray Comfort. One of my desires before I left the faith was to find some form of irrefutable proof of God that atheists couldn't deny. Because I was sick of wishy-washy 'evidence'. I'm still looking.
Ray Comfort tends to dazzle with philosophical mind games and arguments that don't honestly represent the opposite side's position. This tends to be the trend of 'evidence' these days from Christians (like Sye Ten Bruggencate's schtick): philosophical mind games, yet ultimately zero genuine evidence of their god.
Here's some of the points brought up in the video:
- Tornado in a Junkjard: Ray says, "Here's a book with words and illustrations, the book couldn't form itself and come from nothing, so something had to design it. Therefore, look at DNA, earth and living beings, something had to create it."
This is the old 'tornado goes through a junkyard and creates a 747 jet' argument. It's a misrepresentation of evolution. We came from simpler lifeforms, likely going back to a single- celled organism - an organism that had some form of life that could mutate and eventually reproduce. DNA mutated and evolved, and natural selection took place.
A book and a jet are inanimate, so it's a poor analogy. There's no potential for a book to mutate. They are also their finished forms, humans did not start in a completed form. Life began with an extremely simple lifeform. No one knows where that lifeform came from, but that doesn't mean it's the Christian-God-who-sent-Jesus-to-die-for-your-sins-and-all-other-gods- are-false.
- Chicken or Egg: Ray then goes on to say things like, "what came first in humans, blood or blood vessels?" Or, "What came first, the chicken or the egg?".
From an evolution perspective, we (and the chicken/egg) came from simpler lifeforms that over time became more complex. We didn't get amazing eyes in one birth, the process occurred over millions of years, from a lifeform with 'eyes' that could barely distinguish anything, to what we have today. It's natural selection: the mutation of better eyesight provided better survival, so the animals that survived passed on the gene to their offspring. Oh, and as for the chicken/egg scenario, technically the egg came first, since mutation occurs during reproduction.
- Perfect earth: Ray says, "The earth is in perfect position with just the right amount of distance from the sun for life" etc. This argument is perfect for evolution: if the conditions of earth weren't as they are, then we would not have evolved to be what we are. We're here *because* of those conditions. Natural selection caused us to evolve to eat meat, fruit, etc, in order to survive. If there were some weird other source of food, then we likely would've evolved to eat that instead. We are the result of our unique conditions. Life finds a way (thanks Dr Malcolm from Jurassic Park).
- Hell: Ray says "There has to be a hell because as humans we know that evil needs to be punished. Since we're created 'in the image of God', God therefore agrees that evil needs to be punished."
Is that an excuse for eternal torment? Billy tells a few lies, looks at some porn, stole gum when he was 6, yet he deserves eternal torment in flames? Not even human justice is that cruel. And if all evil people need to be punished, what about those murderers who accept Christ on their death bed? They go to heaven and "enter into the joy of the Lord" with no punishment. Our justice system would still punish the person, even though they admitted they were wrong. The reasoning provided by Ray is certainly not proof that there's a hell.
- Accept Christ: The last portion of the film is trying to convince people that they need to accept Christ, and that he provided a way for them to get to heaven. So we went from the possibility of there being some kind of creator, to the only creator being the God of the one true bible who sent himself to sacrifice himself unto himself, to fix a problem that he created.
That's a bit like seeing a light in the sky, and then assuming it's an alien from the Andromeda galaxy coming in a spacecraft to give you a certain kind of probe at 3:00am.
One of the big claims in the bible is that Jesus is the Messiah - the guy that's meant to usher in world peace and ultimately destroy evil. The concept of the messiah is from Judaism, and Christianity came along and claimed that Jesus is this messiah person. The problem is, if you research who the messiah is and what he needs to do, Jesus didn't meet the criteria. That's why most Jews don't believe in Jesus. They know their scriptures better than christians.
Overall, the movie is only an hour long and is worth a watch if you want to keep up with the arguments that pop christians are making these days. Oh, and Ray Comfort is looking more and more like a Jesus picture these days... I guess he'd take that as a compliment! None of this review is meant to be a personal attack on Ray, my intention is only to bring the arguments into question.
Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014)
Awful - the story writers were asleep at the wheel
This was horrible. It was like watching a typical episode from any average non-pixar cartoon series.
Most time is spent with the main characters in peril, so it's not fun, it's just constant tension and conflict between them and other characters. Which makes for tedious viewing. The jokes are either minimal or you've seen them all before.
You've got Trixie the triceratops who is too daft to realize that the Battlesaurs don't know they're toys. So a lot of the plot revolves around this. But we already know from the movies that the toys are smarter than that and they should've showed the Battlesaurs their origin within the first 5 minutes.
It's not until we finally come out of the Battlesaur fantasy land that it's like the show can breathe again and returns to its charm....if only for two minutes.
These Battlesaurs weren't fun, they were a total drag. If Pixar had to create a short about them, it should've been 7 minutes or so, like Partysaurus Rex or Hawaiian Vacation. If you want to experience Toy Story episodes that are FUN, go watch those two shorts again.
Time Lapse (2014)
Enjoyable sci-fi film
This movie was a nice relief from mind-numbing Hollywood films. It's not an arty-farty indie movie, it's just a good thriller with more believable dialog and characters than most Hollywood films.
If you enjoy thoughtful time travel or sci-fi movies, definitely give this a go.
The concept is great and could lend itself towards a sequel with different characters. It's rare that I will bother to rate a movie on IMDb, but now and again I come across a thoughtful movie that stands out from the usual stream of cliché films.
I think the movie poster is a bit of a letdown though. To be honest it reminds me of a 90s straight-to-VHS movie. Anyway, ignore the cover and give this movie a shot. (EDIT: the poster I was talking about had a green and black tone to it, it has since been changed and looks much nicer)
Time Scanners (2014)
Watchable, but not a lot of new insight
I must agree completely with reviewer "Michelle": there isn't a lot of new information here. The whole premise is based on the new insights these portable laser scanners can give. Except 80% of the information in the show has already been derived *without* laser scanners.
There's a couple bits of neat information the scanners give, like the exact location of a sarcophagus inside the pyramid, or being able to determine that the 'Bent' Pyramid was purposely designed that way. But other than a few tidbits, these laser scanners aren't the star of the show.
I certainly appreciate the lasers' use for 3D mapping these great monuments, and I think it's great that teams are going around doing this. The information these scans will provide will be invaluable in the future, I'm sure. But I don't think they justify an entire show - unless the new information is absolutely groundbreaking.
Personally I think the team just needed funding to go around 3D mapping these sites - so they proposed this show. As mentioned in another review, this show should really be half-hour for the content it provides. At least in a half-hour show, the laser information would take up a better proportion of the allotted time.
Masha i Medved (2009)
Great series, HORRIBLE English version
This is a really fun Russian animated series, and our 3 year old can't get enough. In fact, our daughter's antics reminds us of Masha all too often!
You don't need to know Russian as the series generally keeps dialogue to a minimum. All the episodes are presented FREE on YouTube by the company that makes the show, so it's easy to give it a go and see if you'll like it. Some of the episodes are real classics and a crack up to watch.
The only downside is the recent English version. It's horrible. Masha is only about 3 or 4 years old in the show, but the English dialogue makes her sound like she's 8 years old. All the charm is lost, the English dialogue is just too mature and poorly written -- it does not suit an innocent three year old. Not only that, but the voice acting isn't great and sounds stilted. Although that could be a result of the poor lines. Now Masha sounds more like an annoying school-age kid in a Disney movie.
Some of the Russian episodes have English subtitles, and even they are more charming to read than watching the botched English version.
Occasionally Masha sings a Russian song, and again the English translation is a real mess, they could've done a much better job translating the lyrics.
Bottom line: Don't let the English version taint your experience, go see the original episodes. Your young children will love it.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)
Amazing subject, HORRIBLE documentary
I was so disappointed by this documentary. The subject itself is amazing and I was eagerly looking forward to finding out more about the cave. But this was horrible. There is not much science here or much information about the people that left these paintings. What did they look like? What were their habits? Have similar paintings been found? This documentary should've been half as long given the sparse information provided.
Instead, you get Werner Herzog (the writer/director) talking pretentious dribble about spirits and how the scientists supposedly want to leave the cave after a few hours because they feel they're being watched by the original inhabitants. I highly doubt the scientists said that. At one point he tells all the scientists to stop talking so that we can "listen to the sound of the cave" and "maybe hear our own heartbeats". Yeah Werner, why don't we all hold hands and say a prayer too? Anyway, instead of hearing a couple water droplets (if anything), he instead plays grating violin/cello music on the film for two minutes over the top of images from the cave. So much for listening to the silence. Oh and then he inserts a sound effect of a heartbeat *facepalm*.
Not only that, but Werner Herzog's film direction is awkward and embarrassing for the people he interviews (he does this in his other documentaries as well). You know that awkward moment after everyone has laughed at a joke and there's a lull in the conversation? Or after someone is done talking to the camera, they get this look on their face like "So are you done filming?" - Well Werner makes sure you see those sorts of moments. Or he'll have his subjects just stare at the camera while holding a photo or something. It's extremely unflattering to the people interviewed.
Oh yeah, and he interviews some perfumer (yes, that's right, a guy that makes perfume), and this guy goes around smelling cracks in rocks to see if he can "smell" other parts of the cave. Here I am begging for some genuine science and he's interviewing fruitcakes.
Seriously you will wish NOVA, History, or NatGeo got the rights to film this cave instead. A documentary by those groups would've been far more informative.
The only reason to watch this is to see images of the cave. There are a few amazing crumbs of science in this film (they do talk about a couple artifacts found), but it's like eating a potato chip when you're starving for a full meal.
Looks great, lame story
If it weren't for the Pixar logo, you'd think Brave was a lame straight- to-video Disney movie.
Things start out OK and you think it might have to do with a girl fighting an enemy for her country. Then she starts seeing fairies in the forest. Oh OK...I thought it was going to be somewhat down-to-earth but now it's supernatural. Maybe it'll still be good. What, now there's freaking cauldrons and witches? This movie is starting to go downhill... Oh no, now the mother turns into a bear? What has this got to do with archery and Scottish highlands? Now nobody believes that the bear is the mother and hunts her down? Oh geez this is just Disney crap rehashed.
In between scenes of the bear in the forest, all you get are people standing around talking long-winded conversations about heirs to the throne. Must be rather boring for kids.
If you don't see Brave, you're not missing much.
Red Lights (2012)
so much potential, ruined by a bad ending
*spoilers* The only reason I give this a 5 is because the movie was great up until the last few scenes. I really enjoyed Sigourney's performance, and Cillian was great as well.
Throughout the movie you get a healthy dose of skepticism which is an absolute breath of fresh air. The whole tone is the debunking of pseudoscience, using factual/psychological arguments that you would find in skeptic literature.
But then the ending completely ruins it, all of a sudden turning into pro-psychic rubbish. Just when I thought we finally had a mainstream Hollywood film to debunk this garbage and promote critical thinking, it turns into the typical pro-new age "just believe" BS that happens in every other Hollywood film.
I agree with the thought in this movie that science should be open to the possibility of the supernatural, IF it can be legitimately proved. But with Hollywood movies absolutely saturated with the promotion of pseudoscience and belief in some generic god, it's better to promote reason and critical thinking first. Otherwise films like this that try to take a higher road end up shooting themselves in the foot. All their efforts to convey critical thinking are forgotten by viewers due to the ending of the movie. The audience leaves with the thought that "real psychics must be out there, so don't listen to skeptics!" *FACEPALM*
I would've really loved to promote this film among friends, but the filmmakers ruined what could've been a wonderful vehicle for critical thinking.
Actually, I'm changing my rating to a 4. It's movies like this that keep people in the dark ages. Sigourney and Cillian did a great job though, so my score certainly does not reflect their performance.
Thanks for reading.
Boring. This movie absolutely drags.
The visuals are very polished and the movie *looks* very attractive, but the story simply drags and drags. I don't mind slow movies if the premise is intriguing, but for the first hour not much happens, and I found I didn't care what happened to the main character at all. You keep thinking the plot itself is going to get deep and interesting, but it just remains shallow and somewhat predictable (even for a kids movie).
If they edited it down to 90 minutes, the movie would be more enjoyable.
Pre-teens may enjoy it, but I don't think it will hold the attention of younger ones.
Camp Hell (2010)
Will mean more to those who are fundamental christians
Perhaps this movie is better described as a psychological thriller, rather than horror.
It details events based on the director's own experience as a teenager. A teen is sent to a church camp that is an odd mix between catholicism and fundamental Christianity (baptist/charismatic). Apparently it's a real sect of Christianity called the People of Hope that I hadn't heard of before.
Having grown up in fundamental Christianity, I recognised a lot of the teachings in this film, and I don't think the director over-exaggerated any of it. There are supernatural events in the film, though those events seem to be the hallucinations of the christians themselves, brought on by their indoctrination.
The film's core point is the guilt and fear that fundamental Christianity puts in people, particularly those who grew up in the church. Everything you do is a sin or allows "the devil" into your life. Whether it be a worldly comic book, or sex before marriage, both are treated equally as bad and there is no excuse. Ironically, there is no grace or real love - it's all about condemnation, suppression, and always trying to be 'holy' (which can never happen since humans are imperfect).
This constant indoctrination by the church leaves many christians full of guilt, fear, and in extreme cases, psychotic.
The film could've been a bit shorter and it does have a bit of an indie feel. I think the audience it will speak to the most is those who have any experience with fundamental Christianity. In that respect, I recommend they watch this film.
Bible Battles (2005)
Frustrating for christians AND skeptics
These types of documentaries are the most frustrating of all, for both christians AND skeptics.
God is taken out of the equation as 'scholars' attempt to theorize other reasons for God's supposed miracles. For example, an easterly wind was blowing and that's what caused the tide of the "Reed" sea (sic) to recede and allow Moses to cross. Aside from failing to explain why they call it the "Reed" sea, even though the Bible says "Red" and there's evidence that Red and Reed were one and the same, their theories smack of poor investigation and poor scriptural exegesis. Instead of trying to mold God's miracles into some humanistic explanation, how about getting to the point and discussing whether the crossing actually occurred at all? Or discussing the total lack of evidence there is of Israelites wandering around in the desert for 40 years?
It's like wasting all your time theorizing the physics of whether Zeus could actually throw lighting bolts, instead of getting to the point that the evidence shows he likely doesn't exist in the first place.
Why dismiss God's actions in the biblical story, yet accept the rest of the scripture as gospel truth?
At the end of the day, this type of documentary helps no one. Skeptics are not provided with sound evidence against the biblical stories, and christians are not provide with any honest evidence that their stories are true.
I stopped watching this documentary part-way through, it was just awful.
Could be described as a sci-fi "Lost in Translation"
I rarely like or dislike a movie so much that I decide to write about it.
Let me start by saying I really enjoyed this film. This is not for action fans or someone looking for a typical Hollywood-botched movie. The characters have real conversations, act like real people, and don't spurt out typical one-liners. Which is very refreshing.
As the film progressed, it reminded me of Lost in Translation. The pace, the great ambient music, and two completely separate lives thrown together creating an unlikely bond. The aliens and sci-fi aspect are a backdrop. The real focus is on how the two characters develop as a result of circumstances beyond their control.
I was going to say the title doesn't really fit the mood of the film, but it wasn't until near the end of the movie that I found out the deeper meaning of the title.
I give this movie high marks because it kept me intrigued and it kept the characters real. Great flick for the more mature watcher who enjoy character development and don't need to be blitzed by over-editing and special effects.
we gotta stop that mother-faulkner
In summary: rent it/download it now if you want a silly comedy with plenty of laughs.
I recently watched this movie again after a few years and I still find it hilarious. I don't know what kind of serious plot people are expecting, but it's meant to be taken as seriously as something like Billy Madison.
The dialogue is full of great one-liners that you don't always pick up the first couple times watching, because you're too busy laughing at something else.
The total randomness and watching these guys constantly dancing around for no reason just cracks me up.
It slows down a bit near the end where it turns into the usual Hollywood 'get the bad guy, save the day' stuff. It could used some more creativity during this part, but everything else in the movie makes it worth it.
If you're a fan of silly comedies, college humour, and slapstick, then you definitely need to give this movie a go. There's nothing overly offensive either, so it's safe for older kids.
I give this movie an 8 out of 10. It may not be an Oscar-winner, but it kept me laughing the whole way through and had a ton of randomness to stop me from predicting the story like you can with so many movies these days. It kept *me* entertained more than many blockbusters, and that's the whole reason I watch movies in the first place. So I happily give Bio-Dome a high score.
The Donner Party (2009)
MUTILATED.....the script, that is.
I would've liked to give this a genuine thumbs-up, but the writers took way too many liberties with the script that go against the accepted facts of the event.
Some of the glaring issues are:
- There were TWO Indian guides in the real story - They make Foster out to be some cannibalistic maniac who can't wait to kill his next victim. - They drew sticks to see who would be a sacrifice, but according to the evidence, the party was unable to go through with killing the person. - Graves (the father) did not kill himself. - And the worst inaccuracy is that they had Foster killed by Fosdick's wife, when Foster was one of the few men who SURVIVED.
What a joke! I can understand some differences when you're trying to compress a story into 90 minutes and trying to make it all flow smoothly, but this was really botched.
The equivalent would be like making a movie about the Twin Towers and having only one of them collapse.
Had potential, but way out of balance
Through the whole documentary there's only one adopted person that's really interviewed. And she's a nutcase. She makes some valid points about wanting her family to validate her heritage, and at first it seems like her parents aren't really hearing what she's saying and you feel kinda sorry for her.
But as time goes by you realize that the parents must've heard her whine about the same things over and over for who knows how long. The whole thing has run its course with them, and they're over her whinging. The adopted girl (now an adult) is self-focused, over-sensitive, and seems to blow things out of proportion.
Turns out she has some kind of prescription drug problem.
The other part of the documentary is a family that is adopting a child from China. You see them talking to the adoption agency, and picking up their child in China. This part is interesting and moving.
This documentary definitely needed interviews with other adopted asians to help balance it out. The only message it seems to give is don't neglect to be interested in your child's heritage, or they'll end up with major psychological problems. It's just not a fair representation.
An excellent "what-if" scenario that will make you think
Carrie-Anne Moss represents the average citizen watching this movie, having a facade of superior human rights beliefs (that we tend to have in western countries) that gradually get whittled away as the situation in the movie get more desperate.
How far are we really willing to go to save millions of people? When the entire country is at stake, how far is the US really willing to go with dealing with terrorists? We can claim our governments are moral and upholding human rights, but at the end of the day, the government can do whatever it wants. It doesn't need your approval, and it will do what it believes is required for self-preservation. This movie flaunts that idea.
Unthinkable has excellent mind-play and dialogue that really gets you thinking and challenges what we really believe about human rights.
It may be a TV movie, but it's worth a watch
I'm still trying to work out what this movie is called (Glitch or Static?), but either way it's actually a pretty good TV movie. About the only lame part of the movie is the credit sequence, which has an early 90s look to it. Other than that, things are pretty good, considering. The characters generally have more of a realistic, down-to-earth feel to them rather than typical Hollywood cardboard cutouts.
It did get a little Hollywood-ish near the end with the 'bad guy', but all up the movie held my interest more than I expected.
Definitely worth giving a go.