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Skyline (2010)
8/10
Skyline breaks the invasion movie mold
19 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS - if you haven't seen Skyline, Don't READ AHEAD!!

Okay, it starts with same deal as Independence Day and War of the Worlds. Menacing ships hover above the city, panic ensues. Now Randy Quaid flew his plane into the laser port of the mother ships in ID4,and both human germs and rocket fire beat the tripods in WoTW. 'Cept this time, in Skyline, these things don't get damaged by our weapons. We all cheered when the UAV drone survived the gauntlet and fired the low-yield nuke into the ship. It wobbles and crashes, YAY!!! But then - and this was a painful moment - the dam thing reassembles itself with nano technology... NO!! The ships don't register damage from missiles; even the biological meat-slab monsters survive point-blank RPGs, and when a heroic F-22 pours cannon fire into one, gets waxed, and crashes into the burger being, IT STILL DOESN'T DIE!!!! Well, let's allow the propane to fill the room, light a match to vape the place and take yourself along with it - sorry NO EFFECT!! None of the main characters get it easy, except for the pregnant woman at the end who is "spared". Skyline takes a "realistic" approach to how an invasion by extraterrestrials would actually pan out in terms of there being no contest.

Skyline takes us into the motive of the aliens, something which not too many other alien invasion movies do. Yeah, we are usually told or it's hinted at, but never shown. The jarring sight of seeing ... ewww... brains and spinal cords removed and implanted into the dormant burger beings - - so THATS why they're here... Remember the scenes in The Animatrix with the machines using catatonic humans as guinea pigs. After years of seeing the humans prevail against the aliens, this time NOTHING works. Heck 2009 and 2010 have seen that theme played out - human paramilitary guys get wiped out by the Navi in Avatar, and the prawns in District 9 kind of beat the police at the end.

For my tastes, Skyline wouldn't have been any better if the "beautiful party people/melodrama and infidelity" first act was absent or changed. I would have liked to see us get to actually know and care about the characters, but that wouldn't have changed the idea of "nothing can stop the aliens; no, sorry moviegoers, we don't win this time." A pretty good spin on the usual "Humanity triumphs" ending.
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Epoch: Evolution (2003 TV Movie)
7/10
E.E. ain't so bad
8 August 2009
Okay, so this movie, shot on location in Europe, was direct to video. The special effects are passable and the plot will mostly pass muster. Great to see Billy D, David Keith, and Angel Boris on screen. While E-E doesn't break any new ground by recycling themes from Alien, The Rock, and Independence Day, as well as trying to pass off clearly European actors/extras as US soldiers, the plot point were interesting enough to keep me hooked. Also we get a break some seeing the same old familiar actors of A-list Hollywood populate the screen, a welcome selling point for me.

The worst part for me was the *terrible* recreation of UH-60 Black Hawk cabin/seating area. OMG the producers built massively unrealistic studio sets to stand in for the interior. Quite blatantly cheap-o!
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Ek Ajnabee (2005)
9/10
Rip off? Ek Ajnabee holds its own.
15 January 2007
Ek Ajanbee is a great movie! I mean, c'mon! High production value, awesome scenery, and very clever camera work. I was impressed, and even though I had already seen Man on Fire , and was aware this was a remake of it, Ek Ajnabee held its own plenty. I know that a lot of people on these boards are saying that it is a "rip-off", "this is Bollywood at its worst", and other mindless comments, they fail to realize a few key points. As far as I'm concerned, everyone knows that USA's Hollywood is king of the hill due to the sheer amount of money that is available. But India's movie industry may not have the same worldwide recognition as we do, but that doesn't mean their movies are crap. Think about how much foreign talent comes to the USA (Ridley Scott, Colin Farrel, etc) - this virtually annihilates the talent pool in their home countries, and they come here to act and direct under the banner of Hollywood. SO the USA just has it that good. A lot of Indian flicks (lol, I just thought about it - "Indie flicks". LOL!!) borrow heavily from established USA movies, that's obvious. But they aren't ripping off Hollywood, they're using tried and true formulas that sell tickets over here! Ek Ajnabee is not a virtual copy of Man on Fire, although it is awfully similar. But it has its own plot twists and new characters that make it unique. I liked the movie for several reasons - the "Creasy" character (who's name I can't type or pronounce) has awesome screen presence, the Paul Stanley (his buddy) looking guy made an awesome villain at the end, and it managed to be a fierce and powerful thriller without any profanities.

Okay, so I did think that Ek Ajnabee was a bit TOO stylized (too many complicated camera edits, over-the-top dialogue, people calmly walking in slow motion away from cars as they explode, the hokey special forces flashback scene and, oh yeah - the bad guys just happen to drive a 1970 Pontiac GTO that wouldn't be very hard to spot in Asia!!), but then again most movies that we are familiar with are too, i.e. the US version of Man On Fire, Catwoman, Armageddon, or any other bug dumb action movie... I wasn't sure what to think when the movie turned into a music video halfway through, and the coda scene "15 years later", the lead character looks EXACTLY the same and is still wearing the same sunglasses!!! Still, I was pleased with Ek Ajnabee - and I'll watch it again.
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Escape from Sobibor (1987 TV Movie)
7/10
A well done TV-movie
26 November 2006
I first watched this movie several years ago cuz it had Rutger Hauer in it, and I had liked his performance in Blade Runner. I had also taken a liking to Schindler's List, and I was aiming to explore similar movies dealing with the WW2 death camps (and there's only a handful of them out there).

There are some scenes that could have used some polishing up, or seem to have been prepared too hastily. I am under the impression that not enough time was given to developing the Nazi camp staff; we know that they're evil, but a bit more attention to their personalities and specific roles in the camp wouldn't have hurt. I would have like to have seen more focus on Sasha's (Hauer's character) fellow captive soldiers and their involvement in the escape preparation.

Escape from Sobibor certainly "shows" itself as a 1980s made-for-TV production, in terms of filming techniques and a lower-budget kind of feel. Nevertheless, the interaction between Hauer and Alan Arkin (the civilian leader of the escape) is solid, and the supporting characters (especially the guy who looks a lot like Fred Ward) come across as very likable. The death camp looks eerily authentic and resembles images I have seen in history books and documentaries. The concerns of life and death voiced by the Jews truly hits home, and the final 15 minutes of the escape are emotionally striking. The narration which describes the fates of some of the key survivors of the ordeal perfectly brings the movie to a close.

I give Escape from Sobibor a 7 because of its honest and poignant subject matter. If you haven't seen it, definitely give it a look.
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9/10
A Perfect Film
6 July 2005
The Right Stuff accomplishes everything it sets out to do. I cannot think of another movie off the top of my head that can meet the same claim, but there are others, few and far between. What's so great about this film? Without getting into too much detail, it goes over the top - and succeeds. Batman (1989) did the same, as did Dr. Strangelove (1964). From the dramatic monologues and heroic score, The Right Stuff pays tribute to an equally dramatic and heroic period in our history.

I must admit that this statement is of minimal scientific value - there is no formula that makes the early days of the space program heroic or whatever. It's simply the historical perception that seems to have attached itself over time to the era. Director Phil Kaufman used this notion to the fullest extent - it is apparent in the recurring and very catchy techno/orchestral score, the cinematography, and the stellar personalities of the main characters (Gordo Cooper, John Glenn, and Chuck Yeager). While the most romantic aspects of the test pilots and astronauts, space flight, and the dangers they faced are indeed overdramaticized (in a bombastic way - even the masturb... the "sperm collection" scene is made into an inspirational sequence), the men still seem human. No GQ/or boy-band good looks here; just mortal guys accomplishing incredible tasks.

The Right Stuff does not falter in any respect, at least none that I can see. No scene drags out for too long, the dialogue is witty and interesting, and the editing is without error. It is a historical movie, of course, but The Right Stuff is filmed in such a unique manner that no other movie is similar to it, with the exception of From the Earth to the Moon (1998 TV).

Some of the greatest movies have become dated, either through dead giveaways (hairstyles, special effects, soundtrack songs, etc) to the more subtle (editing, that "old feel", etc). 2001: A Space Odyssey and Patton (1970) come to mind. The Right Stuff deftly escapes these trappings and easily could have been released today in 2005.
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Fail-Safe (1964)
10/10
A well-crafted classic..
24 May 2005
If there is any movie worthy of a 10 on the IMDb ranking, it is certainly FAILSAFE. So much has already been said to its credit, but the acting is amazing and virtually faultless. I am especially impressed by Walter Matthau's performance as the civilian adviser, Mr. Groteschele. He is shown as being in love with the sound of his own voice, a man who feels he is beyond argument, and is self-righteous to a sociopathic level. The next best performance is that of Henry Fonda, credited as simply "The President" as he portrays the presence of a cerebral, stoic, and dynamic politician who ultimately must make a grand sacrifice. Everyone else involved gives a top-notch performance.

Of course, the 1960s-era film-making processes are distinct from that of today, from editing, camera angles, one-take static scenes, stock footage, the absence of a soundtrack, etc. There are a few goofs and inconsistencies, but then again, even the most expensive and/or highest-regarded movies (2001, Blade Runner, Titanic, Glory, etc) have an IMDb goofs list that runs off the page! I belief I have is that FAILSAFE would not have had the same impact if it was released in any other decade and with different actors. The relatively simple directing that is indicative of the 1960s serves it well. Can you imagine if it was released in the 1980s? Or even today? There would be gratuitous cursing, explosions, an obligatory kung-fu scene, some love triangle sub-story, and bad SFX. In other words, it would have been CORNY.

FAILSAFE is one of those hidden gems, yet it stands in the shadow of the similar and more popular DR STRANGELOVE. It is a product of its time, but to me, it does not seem dated.
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Gettysburg (1993)
10/10
'You must defend this movie to the last.'
23 April 2005
'Defend this movie to the last... exercize in rhetoric... last scene? last re-used shot of Rebs charging up Little Round Top? Last long-winded speech? Last mention of 'this is good ground'? Last reb?'

Anyway...

Here is a sample of some the gripes I've heard about GETTYSBURG. Some are nit-picky, obviously from hard-core Civil War reenactor types:

-"The collars on the uniforms of the 20 th Maine soldiers are about 1/4 inch longer than they actually were."

-"Tom Chamberlain's mustache is certainly a fake; it would have appeared greasier in the hot July sun."

-"The 5th Regiment actually was two blocks away from where they are depicted in the movie."

Some gripes get downright ridiculous, obviously from psychotic loons who think it's still 18 friggin 63...

-"The man portraying Gen. Lee is obviously a modern-day actor who closely resembles Martin Sheen..."

-"The rifles are actually firing blanks, not real Minie balls."

-"The actual battle lasted three days, not a mere four hours, as the director apparently believed."

-"There's no way anyone actually filmed the battle of Gettysburg, so this movie is undoubtedly a bunch of reenactors merely imita...."

SHUT UP!!! Anyway, GETTYSBURG is freegin great. And I don't wanna hear about Tom Berenger's beard or any retarded inaccuracies. We get to see some fine acting, archaic/glorious dialogue, and the best CW battle scenes (apart from the 1989 masterpiece GLORY) ever on film. Of course, during the Little Round Top sequence, there are some shots that are recycled two or three times. However, the sequence of the LRT is impressively edited otherwise. The panoramic views of Pickett's Charge, the sweeping aerial views of the battlefield... and so on.

And there's plenty of melodrama. Overacting? No. OK, maybe. But it works for this film. Here's a few sample lines:

"I'm Kilrain, and I damn all gentlemen." (Buster)

"General Lee... I HAVE no division." (Pickett)

"With me... who will come with MEEEEEE!!" (Armisted)

"Give em hell, 54th!" Ooops.. wrong movie.

Even in the midst of a serious, stoic event in or history, we are treated to some bits of humor. I particularly like the scene where Gen. Longstreet (T Berenger) and the artillery captain or discussing strategy. Some guy off in the distance gets blown head over heels and flies over his cannon. I always found it funny...

Now look... the movie was MEANT to be 4 hours long! You couldn't tell the battle of G-Burg in a standard 2 hour flick. No way. GETTYSBURG was made to cater to Civil War fans only, as well as history buffs - not a wide movie-going audience. It was made as about as flawless as a movie could be made. The right amount (in the form of a 4 hour running time) of solid, cerebral conversations, the right emotions for the right scenes, and of course, the heroic soundtrack!!!

Now about the dialogue, I've heard a lot of complaints about how it is spotty, lame, and robotic. Well, what'ya expect, realistic, modern CLERKS or PULP FICTION banter?

"General Pickett, are you OK?" "General Lee, I have no division, I'm pretty far from OK."

The cast pulls the job off wonderfully. Berenger, Sheen, Richard Jordan, James Lang, Stephen Lang... everyone.

GETTYSBURG rocks. It's historically accurate as any "period piece" out there. Even the acclaimed SAVING PRIVATE RYAN had some continuity errors and anachronisms. I give it an A++ for sheer awesomeness. And why the hell wasn't it nominated for a SINGLE Academy Award? At least a lead or supporting actor for (insert kick-ass actor here), Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY!!!

An awesome movie. One of my faves. Just remember, GETTYSBURG, with the exception of GODS AND GENERALS, will probably be the last Civil War movie made. The WW2 and Vietnam War genre has been depleted... and there's only so many ways you can depict a CW battle differently on film. There is however, a movie coming out in the next couple of years with Liam Nesson as Abe Lincoln.. But just realize that GETTYSBURG is about as good as we can get for the War Between the States.
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Rocky IV (1985)
10/10
ROCKY IV is the best! Powerful and uplifting
20 March 2005
This movie ROCKS! It is so inspirational that when I rented it on 3/14/05 I was totally motivated to take up working out again after a 2-year break. It has the best tunes... "Hearts On Fire", "Burning Heart", "No Easy Way Out", and "Living In America". The training montages are, in my humble opinion, the best of any sports-oriented movie ever. OK, the movie is a "Rocky" flick, and it's not "Schindler's List" or "Glory".

But who cares! The interaction between Apollo and Rocky is amazing and shows how the two characters developed an undying friendship over the course of their careers. The East vs. West theme is dated but indicative of the late Cold War era of the 1980s. The final fight is unrealistic as expected, but awesome! If you wanna see boxing how it really is, watch a televised match or "Million Dollar Baby" for some authenticity.

I can be realistic, and Rocky IV isn't close to the greatest movie ever made. Not by a long shot. But a movie is many things: the story itself, the directing, the casting choices, the technical aspects, and the soundtrack. To me, the camaraderie of the cast is wonderful. Rocky, Adrian, Apollo, Paulie, and Duke (Tony Burton; Apollo and Rocky's corner man) have wonderful moments and dialogue together. My favorite is Apollo's mention of "nails" and Rocky jokingly mishears it as "snails" and the dialogue that follows. Plus I like when Bridgette Nielsen's character (Drago's wife) is at the press conference and says "Why you insult us?" I dunno, she says it kind of choppy-like, and she sounds like an authentic Russian/Soviet chick.

Some gripes... it's too short by about 15 minutes. I would have liked to see some more of Apollo's wife... I mean, after all, it was HER hubby who died after fighting Drago. A few scenes with her and Rocky and Adrian would have given the story some amazing emotion and depth. Also, Rocky's final speech is kiiiiinda lame and simplistic. If he had shown some more emotion at certain moments, it would have helped a bit (or maybe it shows his distancing himself from anything but the upcoming fight). Lastly, since Adrian flew to Russia to be with Rocky for his fight, it would have been cool if she participated in his conditioning. I mean, she could have done some calisthenics with him(aren't women into it?)... something I've never seen Rocky do! A real fighter has got to be limber! Plot hole!

All inconsistencies aside, the story is direct and easy to follow. It must be said that having a great soundtrack is no small feat. Rocky IV is uplifting and energizing in a way many movies aspire to but never attain.
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Classic Queen (1992 Video)
10/10
The essence of Queen
14 February 2005
So many bad music video compilations were released in the 1980s, and this trend actually continues: band members acting like morons, and they always get misty eyed when talking about "the road". Oh yeah, and the "we couldn't do this without the road crew" part.

Anyway, here it is, Classic Queen. Queen at their bombastic, heroic best. We don't get any commentary, just video after video, and this keeps the magic in flow. The most original one is "The Miracle", and I think many other viewers of this compilation would agree. The special effects are dated, but the innovation and class make the 80 or so minutes a visual and sonic treat. "Hammer To Fall", "A Kind of Magic", and "Under Pressure" are, to me, the best of the set list. "Radio Ga-Ga" and "I'm Going Slightly Mad" are a bit hard to watch, but that's just me. Either way, Queen is one of my favorite bands of all time, and Classic Queen is the perfect showcase.
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7/10
the untold story of the early years of Vietnam
5 February 2005
This is a solid war movie, and I enjoy watching it once a month. Well, given the fact that I am a Huey junkie, the chopper scenes certainly help. A friend of mine commented, "Well, it's strange, the soundtrack to the movie is tribal in nature, and there's no memorable Sixties' tunes, like in other Nam movies." I explained to him that WWS to place in 1965, about a year or two before the huge appearance of the anti-war movement, and certainly predating the hippie movement, so these elements weren't meant to appear.

A lot of it is fictionalized, but then again, so were many aspects of Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan (some of the only worthwhile modern war movies in about the last twenty years). We Were Soldiers tells the rather un-hip story of the early Vietnam years, so, I must state again, that this is why you don't hear any tunes from the Rolling Stones, The Doors, or Zeppelin. That's 1968 onward... I guess... and WWS does a commendable job.

The uniforms are right on target with the 1965-66 timeframe. The choppers used featured equipment and weapons that wouldn't appear until a year or two later, but that's OK. The combat scenes capture the essence of the fighting, and thankfully no retarded cuts or zooms were used. However, we don't see a single M14 rifle (the precursor to the M-16, which is seen all over the place in WWS), as most of the troops would have been using them as the M16 wasn't fully deployed to units at that time. But the best thing I can say is that the characters of 2LT Geoghan (or whoever), SGM Plumley, and SGT Savage look incredibly like their real-life counterparts, as far as i could tell in the photo section of the novel. That kind of accuracy is commendable. The true-to-life events, such as the airstrike, are well done.

I do have some gripes though... having served in the Army (1996-2001), there are some shortcomings that I am able to spot. There is not enough development given to make enough of the supporting characters memorable. This worked in Black Hawk Down, but not here. Plenty of faces appear beyond the top and second-billed characters, but something was missing. I would have liked to see more of Too Tall (the other pilot), Godbolt (the black dude), Jimmy Nakawama (got burned bad) and CPT Nadal ("we have an American Platoon... OUT THERE!"). They're mentioned plenty of times, and they function to give what I call their "partner character" some depth, but they themselves either appear, disappear, or don't have enough lines. Also, the sound is not terribly well-mixed as some of the dialogue is muffled, and the editing is about average. Some key scenes take place in near darkness, so knowing who's who as well as the emotional impact is missed.

One thing that really irks me is.... the lack... no, the absence of the portrayal of black soldiers. PFC Godbolt is Geoghan's partner character, but he doesn't get a single line. He looks like a nice guy, throws a grenade, gets shot, dies. Obviously, black soldiers made up quite a bit of the Army in 1965 (and even now.... almost pointless to say) but there's no representation of them (I Don't MEAN "THEM" IN A BAD WAY, OK??) except for Godbolt's wife back home. The Asian soldier, Jiimmy Naki-something, appears, for like a split second in the beginning, then runs into Joe Galloway (I cant remember the guys name) during the attack. The he gets wounded. He's about the only minority who gets a line. Both he and Godbolt were real people...hmmmm.... The voice-over narration is used very spottily, and this coulda been polished up. Finally, there is a mention of "losing a boatload of draftees is a bad week": the draft wasn't in effect until 1969.

Nevertheless, WWS is a solid war movie that tells the lesser-known era of the Vietnam involvement. Yeah, everyone knows about the hippies, the peace signs on the soldier's helmets, the out of reg uniforms, the negative attitude, but these are staples of Nam movies that take place later in the war. I wouldn't mind seeing a movie made that deals with the later years of the war (say, 1972). Plus Madeline Stowe does a good job in as supporting role. Plus she looks real cute when she does that flinch/double take when the cab guy arrives at her door.

On par with BHD or SPR? No. But it is on the level of Platoon, Glory, and Hamburger Hill. 7 of 10
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Chopper Wars (1988 Video)
8/10
Awesome choppah footage! Narrated by Richard Lynch
22 January 2005
CHOPPER WARS (1988)

Well... I see I'm the first to enter a comment for this video. Hmmm. I've gotta say that I won this on ebay (yeah!) a couple of months ago and I watch it quite often. I mean... c'mon, it's the archetype of war documentaries from the 1980s! Richard Lynch, a mainstay of action flicks (usually a gruff and sizzled Army guy) of the decade, narrates... and does he ever! Forget the cerebral and polished A&E and Discovery channel documentaries of the 1990s and today, where they have some British guy with a Camdridge University accent describing attack helicopters, "The Huey Coa'bra can carry rockets and Hell-faah miss-ILES..." as if that gives the documentary an extra air of sophistication.

Richard Lynch totally goes to town on the Vietnam War and the introduction of the "choppah" (chopper). He's got the best voice for it too. I mean... check out some of his sound bytes!

1) "...from the moment it appeared over the skies of Vietnam, the chopper's rock-and-roll firepower /PAUSE/ struck fear in the hearts of the enemy..."

2) "The Americans had become strangers /PAUSE, GUITAR SQUEAL/ in a strange land /WHAMMY BAR SHRIEK/."

3) "For the survivors, there was always moah woo-ah.... call in a gunship to soak the area in fire... the choppah is the great equalizer; all it burns is gas and bullets."

4) "At any moment, you could stop a bullet, addressed 'to whom it may concern'."

5) "Vietnam will always be remembered as the first 'Choppah Woaah'; God willing, it will be the last."

With synthesizers, angelic chants, snazzy guitar solos, staccato drum beats inserted into the narration, the cool factor and emotional impact is heightened. Lynch's tough Brooklyn accent (war = "waah") totally fits the subject matter, and he comes across as in tune and very knowledgeable in his descriptions of tactics, equipment, and history. He employs effective first-person POV 'you-are-there' departures from the main narration, truly hit home. Lynch's narration is user-friendly, authentic, and doesn't stray into political territory. I commend the writers for making references to the admittedly futile war in Vietnam, and several mentions are made of the virtual stalemate and hopeless predicament the United States found itself in. And most important is the respect Lynch bestows to the capabilities of the North Vietnamese Army.

The visuals are stock footage with fake audio insertions, but then again, in most vintage documentaries of WW 1, WW 2, Korea, and Vietnam, this is a common practice. Some repetition does occur, as some footage is used more than once, but this occurs only a few times, and was probably unavoidable for production purposes. Nevertheless, there are plenty of heroic attack sequences that are fun to watch. Even though there are only so many ways to see a Huey firing rockets, it doesn't matter cuz it looks absurdly cool.

I was curious to notice that while CHOPPER WARS gives an overview of the wide-scale use of the helicopter in Vietnam, there are some curious omissions. Not one mention is made of the AH-1 Huey Cobra, the first dedicated attack helicopter. Nearly all of the footage is of UH-1 Hueys and CH-46 Sea Knights. Also, Lynch does not make note of important dates, especially when narrating specific battles. I would have liked to have seen some more attention put to timeframe factors.

Either way, CHOPPER WARS is severely awesome. Richard Lynch's narration is hard-core, dead-pan, and considerably accurate. It is pro-soldier without being pro-war. There are plenty of memorable scenes and sound bytes to keep you hooked. The footage is grainy, raw, and hey, watching 40 minutes of Vietnam choppiz and woaah is a great way to pass the time.
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The Matrix De-Coded
7 January 2004
I've been watching this movie for an hour now, and one thing is very clear.

The Matrix Reloaded is one big fat mess.

I don't know where to begin. There are two n' a half times as many characters, some who come and go so fleetingly (the "Kid", the woman at the dinner table who farts), and others who stay on screen much longer than necessary (Persephone's husband, the Twins).

"Mark my words, and mark them well. I have survived your predecessors, and I will survive you!" That's a typical piece of dialogue, this particular line being uttered by Persephone's husband, who's some mayor-type. The movie is filled to the brim with "Braveheart"-style yappin', yet it takes place in the future! Only Link, the phone-line operator of the Nebbecha-something, offers anything that can be remotely considered realistic dialogue, as he chats with his woman about her concern about his lengthy missions. But even he blows it with his "Yes, Sir! Understand, Sir!" (repeated like 50 times) to Morpheus. Even the council scene, where the leaders of Zion blab about the best course of action, doesn't help matters any. It's like the "council" scene out of The Phantom Menace!

The first Matrix was a gem. Everybody didn't wear sunglasses IN EVERY SCENE! The original had only infrequent fight scenes, not like this poop. Now, the Oracle's assistant, the Asian guy, fights Neo upon their introduction because "You don't really know someone until you fight them." HUH? The Matrix poo, I mean Matrix 2, is one big fight scene with butt-headed scenes inbetween to kill the time. Then you got the freeway fight scene. Look, there's only so many ways I can see a car flip over 16 times in slow-motion. And hey, wouldn't Neo's Mach 2 rescue of Morpheus and the Keymaster from the top of the truck break all of their bones? Right? NO REALISM! THE FIRST ONE HAD sorry - some sense of realism.

Even worse, there's the showdown in the NYC-type courtyard between Agent Smith and Neo. First they chat like two ol' guys who had a fender bender the day before. But aren't they rivals, you know, like the fight-to-the-death kind? And yet they have a nice long chit-chat. And what about the dialogue, then extended, winded, overbaked dialogue between the Keymaster, Morpheus, Neo, Niobi, and like four others, and they're all talkin' about breaking into the building. "314 seconds!" "Two minutes!" "Guard shift change!" Talk about confusing! Too many scene cuts, back pedaling, and other switcheroos. I was traumatized, and I can't talk about it anymore.

Here's some more sample screenwriting: Smith: "I want what you want... everything." Morpheus: "Would that include a bullet from this gun?" This is B-movie quality!

There are too many numbers to keep track of. 6 previous Matrixes, 314 seconds, 2 doors, 100 Agent Smiths, 24 hours before the machines attack, 3 hovercrafts... the number of bullets in Trinity's guns as she shoots while plummeting to her almost certain doom.

Then you got the Architect, who plain out sucks.

And worst of all, if Neo can stop bullets in midair just by raising his hand, take on Agent Smiths x 100, go supersonic, and do every other damn thing, then why can't he just save Zion and thus save the day?

I might be slow (it took me about half a dozen viewings to understand the first Matrix), but Matrix II is just beyond me. Inferior to the orginal. But it's good enough for me - to poop on!
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Future War (1997 Video)
7/10
REALLY! It's not that bad!
22 December 2003
Well, what can I say. I'm an IMDb junkie, so one day when I was checking out the Bottom 100 list for some laughs, I came across Future War. After reading the line of a user comment, 'forced perspective dinosaurs', I embarked on a 20-minute laughing attack and had to find out more. So I went out and bought it somewhere for like 3 bucks, and pumped it into the DVD player, and prepared myself for the worst. I don't know where to begin. I really don't.

The opening credits-roll is truly scary. Five minutes worth of poorly-timed cuts between the cast of characters and tech team interspersed with recycled (and bad, might I add) space cruiser footage. I fast-forwarded through them after a minute - and this was during the first time seeing the film!

Scenes that go nowhere - like when the Runaway (Bernhardt) walks into a room and says, "They stay near water", referring to the dino-trackers, and the scene cuts frighteningly too soon. At times, the video quality is shattered by dark shadows that appear on top of the screen. Any sense of continuity is destroyed by poor editing and pacing.

The lead cyborg, Z'Dar, or somebody, is featured in the credits as 'Also starring", like his presence was tantamount to an A-list talent graciously appearing in an indie film. He's flat out the most corny cyborg I've ever seen. Future War tries to approach greatness with allegedly pulse-pounding fight sequences, but that, too, is ruined as the Runaway pummels a plastic T-Rex who's the size of a Snoopy doll. I give him credit, though, he really looks as if he's trying.

The "radioman" at the police station has no line-delivery ability. The SWAT guys look really nervous and ill-at-ease in front of the camera. A lack of the director's imagination killed off the black dude, who I was actually starting to like. He seems to have been killed in the first dino attack on the house early on, and is not referred to again until he materializes later on. He shows concern, fear, and genuine emotion when appropriate. Then he gets gobbled up by the damn tracker at the end!

Even someone who never saw Future War could critique on it. He/She would only have to say "This movie lacks vision, budget, coherency, and purpose." And they'd hit it right on the money! I did some investigating, and I discovered that most of the actors and actresses of this film-poop either did a few movies before or appeared in Future War for their first role. But that's not very revealing. What IS revealing is the fact that OVER HALF of them NEVER went on to do another movie! Check it out yourself! POOF! Their careers detonated by Future War!

However, I'd like to say some things in defense of Future War. I don't believe anyone involved was convinced that this movie would be anything but direct-to-video or the bargain rack. It wasn't meant to compete with other sci-fi films coming out. The actors and actresses DO appear to be having a good time, especially during the fight scenes with the dinosaurs. I thought it was kinda cute when Sister Ann (Travis B. Stewart) throws her jacket over the tracker-saurus' eyes, and the camera cuts to the dino, blinded, confused, and with a jacket draped over its head. Then POW! The Runaway slashes him to death as five cops, paralyzed with fear, watch on in awe.

FW featured a first-time director and an equally inexperienced cast, and I guess with a minimal budget, there wasn't much room for creativity. But I can imagine the cast and crew cracking up between scenes, going "HA ha ha! This film sucks! I'm moving to the East Coast after this! HA!" and generally having a good time. Consider that the IMDb Bottom 100 consists of quite a few major-budget movies with accomplished names attached, like Batman and Robin, Speed 2: Cruise Control, Gigli, Iron Eagle II, and The Cat In The Hat. Big-budget, big disappointment. FW did make an attempt to raise issues of loyalty, friendship, and morality. The end result wasn't spectacular, and with scrappy dialogue special (?? use the term lightly) effects, and continuity. My point is, big productions like the ones I mentioned deserve critical pounding because the studios have so much at their disposal and still can't pull off good reviews. Future War must have been fun to make and I'm sure everyone involved had a blast with their silly little movie.

A 7 out of 10 for a valiant, hopeless effort.
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2010 (1984)
7/10
In the future, there are no lightbulbs
19 December 2003
I wondered that when the interior of the Leonov (CCCP ship) was so freegin' dim. Or maybe the Ruskies were trying to save power by keeping all of the lights off! That really piqued my curiosity... On the whole, 2010 is an above average, yet not superior movie. If any fans of AC Clarke's series have read the book "The Odyssey File", which chronicles the making of 2010 (the book is composed of e-mail correspondence between Clarke and director Peter Hyams. They were among the first users of e-mail technology - in 1984!) reveals the director's paranoia and even humility as he hopes his film will even come close as a worthy successor to the peerless original. That peerless original, of course, is 2001.

2010 is dated, somewhat forgotten, and does fall short of the power of Kubrick's vision (how many times have you heard THAT before?). But Stan the Man is a hard act to follow. While 2001 is timeless, 2010 reveals its easily dated personality on a couple of occasions. The Cold War theme is the most obvious. The computers, monitors, and graphics used throughout are instantly identifiable, dressed-up Commodore 64-era tech hardware. Roy Scheider's character, Dr. Floyd, instructs his crew to "listen to your cassettes" to receive updates on their mission. Okay, so that line of dialogue wouldn't fly past 1992, when CDs were on the verge of killing the audio cassette star (*). But 2010 is not without merit. It follows its predecessor's footsteps to a faithful degree, filling in the aftermath of the Bowman-HAL fiasco, and the slew of interesting and dangerous ramifications it created.

Peter Hyams obviously set out to create a cerebral, based-in-reality production, unlike the other sci-fi movies of his day, which gave 2010 a distinct image. Return of the Jedi came out the year before, 1983, and the moviegoing public was probably still hot on heels of the Star Wars depiction of space movies, which I assume hurt the box-office chances of 2010.

It is a dated, yet hidden gem, crafted together with solid intentions and performances. The supporting cast of Helen Mirren, John Lithgow, and Bob Balaban play off each other very well and supply some thought-provoking and entertaining moments. The scenes with Bowman and Floyd are gripping, as is the later dialogue between Bowman and HAL. There are no explosions or corny "director tools" used, and the special effects (well, excluding the interior computer sets of the Leonov) were not revolutionary but get the job done.

2010 hasn't enjoyed the staying power of its contemporary brethren (Blade Runner, 1982; the Star Wars trilogy, 1977-1983; Alien/Aliens, 1979, 1986) and is a circle-square comparison to 2001. But it holds its own in many respects and is worth a few repeated viewings.
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Simon says - This movie rocks!
15 December 2003
Demolition Man is one of my faves of ALL time. I saw it in theaters in '93 and I was hooked from the start. Okay, I don't think the LAPD has any Chinook helicopters in its fleet, but we'll let that one slide. But Demo Man is just out to have a good time. The 2036 future is one big 'G' rated deal, and everyone is politically correct and decent. Well, heh heh, Spartan and Phoenix get unfrozen and tear up the joint! The two stars (in their prime) play off each other very well, and Huxley (Bullock... a young Sandy Bullock in spandex - Woo-HOO!) provides great comic relief as a cop born forty years too late who longs for at least a little chaos in her time. Her malopropisms are hilarious, as she can't get a single 90s era catchphrase down pat - "Let's go BLOW this guy!" - and other ones too.

However, watching the two leads work their goodguy/badguy roles is what makes Demo Man so enjoyable. Spartan is completely out of his element in 2036 as behavior, logic, bathroom etiqutte, and intimacy rules are unfamiliar to him. Phoenix is all about big time evil, and he kicks ass all over Santa Monica at will. The supporting cast does a great job too. Here's some more reasons why Demo Man rocks:

1 - the sotto voce violation device!

2 - how easy the SPD cops get smacked around by Phoenix

3 - Huxley's overreactions to Spartan's vulgarity: "EEEEEW! You mean,

fluid transfer?" during the bedroom "sex" scene

4 - during the final fight, the camera cuts away to scenes of the Cryolab falling apart, and you hear Phoenix scream. I dunno. I just find it amusing.

5 - Spartan's vain attempt to regain control of his out of control car, "Brake now you Mickey Mouse piece of sh-----t!!" In the TV version, it's edited to, "Brake now you Mickey Mooooouuuuussssse!"

6 - "You're on TV! POW!" as Spartan smacks Phoenix with a TV.

7 - the scene where Edgar Friendly interrogates Spartan, Huxley, and Garcia (Ben Bratt)

I could go on and on, but the point is, Demolition Man rocks big time but seems to have faded over the years. It's silly, ridiculous, and doesn't try to take itself too seriously. It's got a wealth of one-liners. And its got a young Sandy Bullock - in spandex!
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S.W.A.T. (2003)
if you ain't S.Q.U.A.T., then you're S.W.A.T.
12 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, I'm not sure exactly what my headline means, but I do know that SWAT is entirely ridiculous. I was so sure that I would get my 9 dollars worth last night that I even snuck in soda and chips. You would figure that anyone with 70 million smackers and a handful of marque and recognizable names would put together a coherent movie. Well, here are the reasons why this movie sucked. MINI-SPOILERS AHEAD (Like it matters, this movie is so predictable!):

1 - the breakup of Jim Street (Farrell) and his girlfriend could have been expanded. Why did they break up? What about any follow-up to his partner's (also his ex's bro) suggestion to call her?

2 - how bout the ridiculous ambush scene, where 50 thugs, armed with assault rifles and LAW rocket launchers (???) attacked the convoy? How bogus is that? That subplot comes and goes without any explanation. And after getting shot and blown up, the cops don't even shoot the bad guys that they corner! They just tell 'em to freeze!

3 - when the rich couple is skyjacked, their plane is commandeered by corrupt on-the-take pilots, somehow connected to the kingpin. I would have liked to see that subplot expanded.

4 - who's that mysterious guy who shoots down the police chopper? What ever happened to him?

5 - the corrupt SWAT cop and the off-the-force cop somehow join forces to rescue the drug guy and obtain the 100 mee-le-on doh-larz. Some further background to that, please, like a scene in a strip bar or back alley where the two conspire.

6 - Larry (I think that's his first name) Poindexter's character, CPT Fuller, had the thankless role of the a-hole precinct boss. Uh, just like BEVERLY HILLS COP, MONEY TRAIN, RUSH HOUR, and that Eddie Murphy flick from 1996, where he drives a "Redd Fox truck!"

7 - The married SWAT guy who gets shot when the corrupt cop goes bad. Was he wounded? Killed? Died later? Recovered? We never hear from him again. Plain 'ol ignored. And I was starting to like the guy!

8 - Street and Sanchez go out for beers once, and that's it. I was waiting to see them plan to take a vacation together after the final scene!

SWAT doesn't even try to be a thinking man's movie, the way that HEAT ('95) accomplished so fluidly. Plot holes, or "hole plots", as I call em, when the ratio between the amount of plot and number of holes is out of balance, take up the whole two hours.

I'm gonna see SWAT again next week, and have some laughs and watch stuff go ka-blooey. Naa, I think I'll catch it on Channel 9 in five years. But at least it secured a PG13 rating by not using the F-word once, showing too much blood and gore, and dishing out any obligatory long-winded monologues.
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Goofs of the Sun
5 August 2003
I saw this movie a few weeks ago, and having been in the Army (1995-2000), and just being an attentive person in general, some things just didn't sit right with me.

1 - the two choppers that pluck the SEAL team and hot doctor the first time fly directly over the mission, where they see the aftermath of a slaughter. Now they had flown from and were returning to a carrier, and along the way they passed over the same hospital outpost where the doctor was. Did the SEALs even have to HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jump to that location in the first place? Why did the team have to trek all the way to some pick up zone with refugees in tow?

2 - there is a mention made of "the choppers are taking heavy fire. We can't extract you now, over..." by Tom Skerrit's character. No transitory or explanation scene confirms this. And what kind of rebels have such incredible AAA capabilities?

3 - I could be wrong, but would Special Operations soldiers whisk away a noncombatant if she wasn't in immediate danger? Instead, wouldn't the US embassy send someone to notify her? There is a similar story that occured during Operation Just Cause (Panama, 1989), where SF troops rescued Kurt Muse from captivity, however, this was performed well after the US invasion had begun.

4 - B. Wills and co. holding off an entire band of (uniformed?) Nigerian rebels, who are all "marathon runners", as is stated, with 9mm pistols? Puh-lease!

Tears of the Sun tries to tell a meaningful, important story without a heavy focus on action scenes, as they are few and far between but skillfully spaced. It is just a bit too drawn out and even a bit hammy, getting too wrapped up in trying to show the atrocities of war.

Of course, shots of Monica Belluci huffing and puffing, with disheveled hair and sweaty, are worth watching a couple of times over.
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Top Gun (1986)
TOP GUN rocks, plain and simple
5 August 2003
I can't believe the reviews I have read about Top Gun being technically inaccurate, not enough character development, an overall simple and childish plot... gimme a freegin' break! This film was made to look cool, sound cool, and define cool. Yeah, okay, the MiG-28s are really F-5 Tigers; I've read the 'goofs' section before. And Tom Cruise's height. And about 'Maverick going supersonic - I'll be there in 30 seconds,' and the laws of physics preventing him from covering 200 or so miles from the carrier in that time. Whatever! So what! If Top Gun had tried to be accurate and true-to-life in every respect, it would have been some oh-so-serious flick like Courage Under Fire. Here's some examples of what I mean:

1 - what's the best way to evade cannon fire? Do a snazzy barrel roll. Problem solved!

2 - the MiG pilots have tinted visors. The good guys don't. Go figure.

2.5 - Russian planes are actually grey or green. The MiG 28s are black. The Tomcats are... yeah, you guessed it... white! Good vs. Evil.

3 - Modern air-to-air combat is usually fought at distances of tens of miles between aircraft. Top Gun uses much cooler spitting-distance WWI era tactics.

4 - "It's too close for missiles. I'm switching to guns!" Enough said.

5 - the generic guy carrying coffee who gets knocked over by the fuming air-control officer. We never see him get up. Classic.

6 - even the edited TV version is a few steps above normal-cool. "... you'll be flying a cargo plane [edit]... out of Hong Kong!"

7 - the way Iceman says, "Mayday, Mav's in trouble. He's in a flat spin, and heading out to sea."

8 - the graceful way Top Gun maintained a PG rating, without using the F-word once.

Top Gun came out in 1986. That's 1986. Seventeen years ago. It rocked then... it rocks now. Just watch it and have some fun.
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She Spies (2002–2004)
Freegin' great!
7 July 2003
This show is the perfect solution after a long hard day of work. It rocks in every way possible and doesn't pretend to be in the running for an Emmy. I don't know all the chick's names, or the dorky sidekick guy, but I do know this: when life throws you too much seriousness and curveballs, watch SHE SPIES. Of note: the She Spies' facial expressions when they're talking.
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Pure McSilly
7 July 2003
I saw this movie several years ago, when it was called LEGEND. Then I saw it again a few years later, when it went by the name of WILLOW. Either way, Ive never read the books, and I don't think I will anytime soon. Yeah, the story is amazing and the SFX are quite impressive. I won't take that away from the film. But to me, the greatest achievements are hearing Liv Tyler speak in Hobbit/Elvish/annoying English as well as Frodo's facial expressions of pain/fear/sorrow/more fear.

A 9 outta 10, only because the movie didn't explain how long that journey by the Fellowship took (was it years, a month, or what?) and the fact that Gilmi Dwarf didnt know how to open the door to his OWN mine (Moria).

And where's all the black people in Middle Earth! How come the flashback at the beginning of the flick, which took place 2,000 "yee-ahhs" before... the people were wearing the same kinda outfits! After 2 millenia!
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