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Watchable but also very forgettable
Before I begin, let me say that judging by other reviews here if you have read the book(s) you will be wasting your time with this - you aren't going to like it. But not everyone has read the books nor intends to (actually, I think the book plots sound far too silly to warrant the effort to read them). So how does this movie hold up if you treat it as a standalone movie and take it at face value? The first thing you will probably notice is that this has budget written all over it. Sometimes budget titles end up becoming classics. This is never going to be one of those. Think Battlefield Earth and you'll get a picture of how tacky it is. Almost the entire movie is shot in the same square kilometer of "river" so you never get a feeling that the world is ten times bigger than Earth and encompasses a myriad of different environments. If the plot and script was better you mightn't notice. Unfortunately, here you do.
The special effects were very average. Compared so some of the shockers released on the SciFi channel they are actually okay - enough to accomplish what is intended but nothing more. Whatever possessed the writers to include blue humanoid aliens is beyond me but with the recent release of Avatar there is no mistaking the mistake they made. Any blue people will always be compared with Avatar now.
What really makes this mindless soup is the dialogue and plot. It is just so cheesy and amateurish. Have you ever watched a movie and afterwards just known you could do better? Well, that is exactly how it is here. After three hours of viewing you never get the satisfaction you feel with a good plot, natural dialogue, and a solid ending. In fact, they've even left the ending open for the possibility of sequels. Any sci-fi fan could come up with a more interesting plot so it makes me wonder where the writers came from.
Finally, the acting really bothered me. The lead guy was fine but he'd come from Battlestar Galactica where he was also good. I don't know what acting school most of the others came out of but you wouldn't want to spend money training there! Worst for me were the fake accents some of the characters used. I found the Samurai woman's accent was absolutely the worst. Japanese? I don't think so. It sounded more European to me. She was good in her action scenes but sadly she actually speaks more than once in the movie. The lead's on screen girlfriend was another shocker - straight out of the Hollywood cardboard cutout shop. She was a clone of the standard Hollywood "beauty" with some very uninspired acting. Is it unfair to criticise her when she had little to work with in the first place? Given all these nasty problems is it actually worth watching? I think it is but only as long as you are not expecting anything worthwhile and you have three hours to invest/waste on it. It really should have been much shorter and more to the point but, of course, if I say that then I might as well say it should have been completely rewritten and recast with better actors.
I think the previous reviewer summed it up nicely - this should have, and could have, been much better. If you like sci-fi you are kinda compelled to watch it simply because the idea behind it is so weird. Sadly, even after enduring it until the end you don't really get the answers you need.
The Fourth Kind (2009)
Oh Milla, Why, Why, Why...
It's hard to know where to start with this one; there were just so many things that I disliked about it. At the end of the movie I was left feeling several emotions. Firstly, I felt a bit annoyed...after enduring all the hype only to find out the movie had no substance whatsoever. Secondly, I felt disappointed...it seemed like such an interesting idea that it left me wondering how they could stuff this one up so badly. And finally, sorry...sorry that I wasted an hour and a half of my life on this rubbish. The one saving grace was that I didn't have to pay for this.
If you've seen Cloverfield or Paranormal Activity you know the deal. There are no special effects at all. There is no real suspense. What you as the viewer get from it depends entirely on how creative your imagination is. This isn't even unique any more. This concept has been thrashed so much that it is now very tired.
The most irritating thing about these silly movies that are built on "real footage" is that I find myself constantly assessing the performance of the actors to see how believable they are. In doing so, it becomes all too clear how how cheesy the dialogue is and how bad the acting can be. It was no exception with this one.
If you like these sort of "real" stories and your imagination is able to fill in all the blanks then go ahead, you'll probably enjoy it. If you are like me and expect substance then steer clear because you are going to be disappointed (and annoyed you wasted your time with it).
Under the Mountain (2009)
Extremely ordinary in every respect
I'd waited for this one for ages thanks to some fond memories of the original TV adaptation from when I was a child. I suspect that those memories made me expect a lot more that what was delivered here.
The plot is okay for a simple science fiction story but don't expect anything epic. The target audience for this seems to be children so in terms of entertainment value for adults it is rather limited -- fans of the original show, supporters of NZ cinema, and those who enjoy sci-fi. I would expect most adults not fitting into these categories are going to find this a boring film.
The special effects are okay. For the story, there is the right amount and the quality is acceptable. The movie is more about the characters than flashy special effects so here the balance seems about right.
The real problem with production is the same that plagues many New Zealand productions - bad script writing and terrible acting. I watch all the NZ films I can and I am always hoping they will improve but rarely am I surprised in a pleasant way. Whomever writes their scripts needs to spend more time watching real people converse. Part of the problem with the wooden acting is that their lines just don't feel natural so how can they be delivered in a believable way. If you are not a Kiwi or Australian you may not even notice how clunky the acting is; for us it is painful at times! Interestingly, some of the most clunky delivery comes from Sam Neil. Don't hold it against him though; he didn't have much to work with here and he *is* helping out NZ cinema.
The nicest thing about this movie is that it is not Hollywood junk. The characters, while not particularly convincing nor likable, are like people you would see on an everyday street. They are not perfect Hollywood models with glowing white teeth and perfect makeup and hair. That in itself is a refreshing change.
This movie doesn't extend NZ cinema to any great new heights, nor is it every going to be a classic. It's just a ho-hum movie that might amuse for an hour and a half then be forgotten.
A movie that really is as dull as people have said!
I usually enjoy movies about performing arts. Usually, they get very average reviews since most people are left unsatisfied. I watch them anyway and more often than not I enjoy them. With this in mind I watched Fame. I thought it would be best to dismiss the negative reviews since they were probably from people who idolised the original or who preferred classical dance and music. This is one of those rare instances when I have to agree with the majority of reviews. Fame's remake is really boring! I still have memories of the original Fame movie and of the TV series but those memories are so faded now that I am not basing my review on any comparison against the original. I am not even sure exactly why the remake is so bad - perhaps it simply follows the cliché that the sum is greater than the parts. In this case, it's lots of little things that combine to create an unforgettable movie.
The casting is okay for the most part. The staff of the school were believable but, of course, the film is about the students. Here is where the clichés set in - they were the same cardboard stereotypes Hollywood love to use in everything. This made them forgettable; they simply weren't memorable. Also, there the film tried to follow too many of them so we never really "clicked" with any of them. Yes, some of them certainly had talent but we never got close to any of them so we never really learned to care about them.
The pace of the movie was a serious weak point. It was divided up by year. In this way it became too routine. Had it just ignored this approach and followed the characters more intimately it could have been more entertaining. Generally, people have described this movie as boring because it *is* boring.
I watched the version which was supposed to have contained a lot of extra dancing and singing but I was actually surprised by how little there was. For two hours it was surprisingly devoid of dancing and acting. The culmination at the end was a step in the right direction but even that was too short.
This movie had the potential to have been a real attention grabber but instead is one of the most forgettable movies I have ever seen. Wait for the next remake of the original and hope that one delivers. Until then there are plenty of better performing arts movies to see. I might even go back and rent the original again to see how it compares.
Next of Kin (1989)
Dull and uninspiring, but worth watching if you're a Swayze fan.
Amazingly, I'd never seen this movie, though I'd seen its cover on the rental shelf countless times. It was the passing of Swayze that provided the motivation to see some of his other, lesser known movies.
Swayze was as good as always but he didn't really have much to work with here. The plot certainly didn't provide anything we haven't seen a hundred times already. It had a gritty, dirty feel to it so if the director was trying to get that across then he succeeded in this point.
The script was rather corny at times, perhaps because that was the way movies were made in this period but perhaps also because it was trying to show "mountain" people. If I was a member of that community I would have been embarrassed to have been portrayed this way but perhaps that is just my ignorance as a foreigner.
One of the worthwhile reasons for seeing this movie is to catch a glimpse of some very well known actors before they hit mainstream popularity. Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton play rather wooden characters which sadly doesn't allow a hint of their talents to shine through. Neeson is excellent and quite believable as a scruffy looking mountain guy. The most out of place actor would be Ben Stiller. Knowing him as we do today it is just hard to take him seriously so in retrospect he is very miscast.
The action is pretty dull by today's standards which might have been okay if the plot was complex and the characters well developed. Unfortunately, it makes for a somewhat boring experience. I found the tiny hints of life in the Appalachian Mountains very interesting. If this movie was remade with more emphasis on their culture and the problems they face then it could be an extremely interesting movie, perhaps showing the community in a way similar to how Witness gave a glimpse at Amish life.
As it stands, though, it is really just a late night TV movie or for fans of Swayze.
The Black Hole (1979)
At last a classic movie that is still highly watchable!
A couple of weeks ago I watched Tron, which I'd missed as a kid and only got around to watching now. I was really disappointed because it hadn't aged well. Imagine my surprise upon finally seeing The Black Hole, which I had also missed seeing as a child. (I did have the view-master of it though, which added to my desire to eventually see it).
Some movies are more than the sum of their parts and this movie falls into that category. The plot is simple and the "shocks" nothing by today's standards, but there is so much more.
Firstly, the script is actually really good. Tron's was really cheesy, reflecting its age, but this one was still holds - it's simple, doesn't try to be too clever (read that as confusing), seems natural (believable), and is suitable for children. The plot is simple and paced about right so the movie doesn't feel overly long.
The acting was very good too. The cast were believable in their roles which combined with the good script made it even more enjoyable to see.
The big surprise for me was the special effects. They were actually really good given the film is 30 years old! In fact, I've seen cheesier effects in recent TV movies.
Usually, I look forward to remakes but I think in this case the original stands as a classic. I'll watch it when it eventually hits the cinemas but it'll be hard pressed to capture the "feel" of this gem.
For Nostalgia Only
This was a movie I missed when I was a child; it never screened in my city. I was always disappointed at missing it yet it was only last week that I finally managed to see it.
By today's standards this movie is very embarrassing. If you were in the age group lucky enough to be involved in the emergence of affordable home computers then you'll probably find a lot of nostalgia watching this movie. Certainly, most of the favourable reviews seem to be from people who watched it in their youth. For anyone else, it's likely to be a forgettable or even regrettable experience.
This wasn't a movie intended to develop powerful characters; indeed, they are as one dimensional as a model's photo in a magazine. The acting is poor and wooden. But that is more a reflection of what we have come to expect from movies today.
Arguably the Avatar of its day, its plot is anchored in the 1980s by its connection to what we now consider archaic home computers. We're three decades on now so looking back it is actually quite embarrassing.
Paradoxically, it is the special effects that remain the most compelling reason to see this movie. While some of the ideas expressed by the effects are about as dated as they come ("light cycle" games are about as primitive as they come), the overall effect of the neon-type effects looks quite amazing. Today's special effects border on looking as realistic as possible. Here, the intention is the opposite; they are trying to imagine a world inside a computer. It's quite interesting to see but perhaps a documentary about the making of it would be more interesting.
Tron is supposedly being revamped for the modern screen. Done the right way it could be a really good movie to see given all the stale releases from Hollywood in recent years. Otherwise this one is really just for people who saw it in their youth or were part of the home computing scene.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Over-hyped without delivering
I find myself at a loss as to why so many people think this was a great movie. It is amateur in every way! I found the tacky dialogue and poor acting really distracting. There really isn't anything original or scary about this production.
What they wanted to do was let the viewer's imagination fill in the tension. I could see this working given a decent budget, minimal effects, and some decent actors. Unfortunately, this was done on the super cheap and as a theatre-release it just doesn't cut it.
Perhaps the saddest thing about this production is the way it is being promoted. The distributor is trying to use word-of-mouth to turn this into a runaway blockbuster. If the movie wasn't so bad I wouldn't mind.
Don't pay to see this at the cinema - it isn't worth it. It's a $1 bargain bin rental at best!
Blake's 7: Blake (1981)
I agree with the previous user's comment
Blake's 7 was, and still is, an iconic sci-fi TV series. There was something really different about it that has given it cult status despite its age and low budget sfx.
I think the ending of the series at season 4 was a cop-out, however. The characters were so well-developed and had so much history that it was wrong to kill them off in one foul swoop. Imaginative writers who cared about the series could have come up with better endings that would have left fans with a feeling of satisfaction. Sure, killing Blake was a good twist, but not everyone we came to care about all at once.
I think a remake of this could be great. The new Doctor Who seasons have really made an impact with newer sfx and scripts that reflect what viewers have come to expect in current TV. But *please* don't repeat such a silly ending! The goodies don't have to win, but they can certainly be retired more gracefully!