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Sanctuary - Interesting Concept but with Poor Execution
Being a long time fan of the Stargate Series, I was intrigued when I heard Amanda Tapping would be starring in a new sci fi show. The concept sounded interesting...A Sanctuary for all manners of creatures unknown to science, some based in myth, some just plain odd! A team that attempts to locate these creatures and in a way, rescue them and give them a chance to live in this Sanctuary.
As I said, this concept sounded interesting and I was actually pretty excited to see the show for the first time. Perhaps this is one of those situations where I should have had lower expectations or none at all because from the first episode, this show just doesn't seem to get better than marginal at best for me.
One big thing for me is the character played by Amanda Tapping. It's not her character per say but rather the accent someone decided would be a good thing for her to have. Now, I have heard people disagree in a few different ways on this subject but in my opinion, Amanda's English accent just doesn't cut it. There are clearly times when she slips in and out of the accent and it just takes away from the character and the show in general. Also, it's really annoying to hear the constant wavering. I know that may sound like nitpicking but that kind of thing can really wear down on you!
Aside from the accent issue, the two main parts of Sanctuary that really make it a 4 out of 10 as opposed to an 8 out of 10 are acting and presentation.
I did enjoy the acting when it came to guess spots from actors such as Christopher Heyerdahl who plays not only John Druitt on occasion but also is a regular character as well when he plays Bigfoot. Jonathon Young as Nikolas Tesla was another acting positive note in the few episodes he was in. Unfortunately, the acting that comes from the actors playing the main characters just doesn't really sell the show to me. The main character of Helen Druitt is an interesting one as not everyone can live for over 150 years but unfortunately, either Amanda Tapping just doesn't seem suited for the character or the character itself is just not written well. I'm not sure if she is having trouble keeping the accent and trying to act at the same time and if that's the issue but she just doesn't come off to me as being very believable.
The rest of the cast is either a much more "put you to sleep" kind of character such as Dr. Zimmerman or an "I'm appealing to the 13-17 year old demographic" character such as Ashley Magnus. The buffy-esquire member of the troupe. Both of their characters are for a lack of a way to say it...boring and/or cliché.
Honestly...I think the main reason the acting isn't very believable is the fact almost all of Sanctuary is shot on a green screen! Having to not only constantly react to creatures and monsters who are supposedly trying to kill you who also happen to not be real, there are backgrounds and landscapes and buildings that you have to also remember to act as if they are also real.
It's like each episode is it's own, "let's hunt the creatures" and give them "Sanctuary" kind of thing where ironically, at times Dr Helen Magnus declares that all creatures deserve sanctuary, or something along those lines...then turns around and wastes a bunch of other "creatures"! Then she proceeds to actually give one of them an autopsy or dissection depending on how you look at it! So...I guess that guy wasn't eligible for a room at the Sanctuary! One of the main things with this show is the CGI and digital effects. Given the fact that Sanctuary is almost entirely shot on a green screen, one would think there would be a little more polish in the execution. I found that the creatures especially have a tendency to look fake and there just seems to be an over all unpolished look to the way the effects appear on screen.
Overall, this show isn't a complete disaster as there is a somewhat decent foundation for a good show in there somewhere...Perhaps Sanctuary will actually learn from it's first season mistakes and become a better, more entertaining show depending on how many seasons it will ultimately last. That would please me greatly as we really need better sci fi shows and if this show improved I would gladly watch it on a regular basis. Until then, I'll just have to cross Sanctuary off my DVR record list.
More like night at the horrible sequel!
When people think of sequels, often times we tend to think all they represent is an attempt to cash in on whatever success the original film generated. Sometimes we are dead wrong on this as occasionally, the sequel outshines the original. Unfortunately, this is the former and not the latter...
I actually really enjoyed the first Night at the Museum and was hoping the sequel would at least in some way carry that fun over. Unfortunately, this movie is about as entertaining as a Billy Mays infomercial. Actually, I might rather watch the Billy Mays infomercial.
For one, the plot is just stupid...i mean a Pharaoh who speaks English, French and Egyptian?? And does it with one of the lamest accents I have ever heard? I really hated that aspect of the movie and the best word I can describe it would be "hokey." This is simply a movie for the kids...when your a kid, this kind of movie is something you can enjoy because your brain hasn't evolved to the point where really stupid and pointless movies are hard to watch.
Ben Stiller pulls a Keanu Reeves and just waltzes through this without any sort of character and all of the new museum characters are pretty lame and uninteresting as well. Even the few times they put Owen Wilson in there didn't seem to save this movie. And he was really not in it much.
Instead we have this constant back and forth between Stiller and Amelia Earhart...and honestly, they really milked the whole "she uses funny words because she's from the early 1900's" routine so much it started to really irritate me.
The ONLY part of this movie i can say I not only enjoyed but thought was really funny was towards the beginning when Ben Stiller has a 5 minute encounter with a security guard played by Jonah Hill. That was pretty funny actually...
So if you're under the age of 12 this movie would probably be somewhat entertaining for you. If you're an adult and you don't have kids to take to this movie, I'd suggest just buying the blue ray of the original and watching that instead! The effects and acting are all infinitely better and it's just a better movie in every sense of the word.
Best thing to happen to the Terminator Series!
One thing I cannot even remotely understand from reading some of the user comments on this series is how anyone can possibly like the previous 3 Terminator movies more than this series!! The only decent Terminator movie was T2 and even though it had groundbreaking effects and what not, it's not too "groundbreaking" anymore and it's age shows.
The Sarah Conner chronicles is one of the best shows I've seen in a really long time. Never once has an episode lost my interest nor have I not eagerly anticipated the next episode.
The cast is great...never in my life did I think Brian Austin Green would be a great actor. His character Derek Reese was possibly my favorite on the show. Each actor and actress hits their mark perfectly...I've heard some people complain that Thomas Dekker's John Connor is too whiny and acts like a kid...well, he's playing a 15 year old kid who knows it's his past, present and future responsibility to save humanity! How do you think he would act??? Summer Glau is just amazing in this...being able to act that robotic without it looking fake and predictable is a difficult feat for any actor.
My favorite aspects of this show are the combination of great writing, acting and extremely detailed and developed story lines. They have taken the rough outline the previous Terminator movies set down and really filled in all the blanks to a point that we now have a full and somewhat complete story arc as opposed to the "let's hunt down John Connor" tedium that was persistent in all of the movies.
I cannot wait for the next season!
One of the worst shows in the last 5 years
So I read a few of the user reviews here and I guess this is one of those instances where personal opinion reigns supreme as I cannot for the life of me figure out what people enjoy about this show. The only thing I that comes to mind are 12-18 year old guys who just happen to think Elisha Dushku is hot...what else is there? Coming from the man who created Firefly, one of the most innovative, well written shows I've ever seen, I really hoped Dollhouse would capture some of that same "magic" that Firefly gave to it's viewers. Unfortunately, I think Joss Whedon must have used all of his good ideas on Firefly and all he has left is Buffy scraps...
First of all...if I hadn't known Joss Whedon had created Dollhouse and was watching it, I NEVER would have guessed that he was behind this show. I'm sorry Joss but this show is just crap...the concept is ridiculous, the acting is marginal at best(Sorry Joss but Miss Dushku isn't exactly much of an actress), and the execution of the show is something any first time director could have pulled off.
If Dollhouse was written by the guy behind the Weekend at Bernie's movies then I might be impressed as at least it would show a small amount of creative growth...but to go from a show like Firefly with dialog that I can still recall off the top of my head to this day because of it's imaginative tone, to the hollow, emotionless banter between the Dollhouse characters...well it's like Da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa and then deciding that "finger painting" is his true passion! This show is not catered to intelligent adults...maybe not even intelligent teenagers...each episode I watch seems unplanned...as if there isn't even a written script and the actors are just "winging it." If I had to pick one thing in particular that made this show difficult to watch it would be the premise...I mean seriously, even in the sci fi world, this "Dollhouse" organization sounds completely ridiculous. Who in their right mind would finance something like that? The fact that the people in the "Dollhouse" are basically zombies until they receive a new "personality" or whatever they call it makes for little interest in who the characters are personally. I could give a crap about Eliza Dushku's background and where she came from because the writing gives me no reason to do so...
Unfortunately, this is one of those shows that just "is"....in no way do I feel any connection to any of the characters and the story lines are so weak that the only way I could watch something like this is if I was too drunk to change the channel! My opinion is that since Joss was burned by Fox with Firefly, he feels the need to come up with a show THEY would like and not him. I think he was hoping a hot girl kicking people's butts and stuff would appeal to the "Fox" audience given his former success with Buffy. We already have that Joss and it's on an hour before your Dollhouse...and oddly enough it's Summer Glau from your very own Firefly series. I wish you were behind the Sarah Connor Chronicles....now that is a show I can really enjoy. Take some notes from that the next time you're allowed to come up with a series.
Not a bad show...not a great one either though
I think like a lot of Americans, I don't always enjoy British TV. Some aspects are just foreign enough to me that it makes the show less enjoyable.
Having said that, this show actually is't too bad. I think for me personally, I put this show in the category of "if I have nothing to do" in my determining if I will watch it or not.
The concept is interesting and definitely original but I find that the execution of the overall show just isn't as polished as I'd like. Some of the characters are just not interesting and other then the random butt shots of the blonde girl, I have yet to see what she really "adds" to the show. I mean would a highly secret government agency protecting the public from these anomalies really let a woman like that come work for them? Yeah I think not.
The main character is definitely the highlight of the show and without him I certainly wouldn't be watching this at all. Maybe the production values aren't as high as their American counterparts but I find that a lot of these Brit shows lack in polish and substance.
Oh well...i'd give the show a 5 out of 10...not bad but not a great show by any means either.
Great western,,,,until Renee Zelwegger appears
Now let me preface this first by saying that I have not read the book upon which this movie was based on, nor do I know anything about it. I surely hope the book was several times better than the movie though because if I was basing my desire to read the original book upon the execution of this movie, I wouldn't want to read even one page of it.
I'm not an expert when it comes to westerns so I am not going to try and compare this movie to the hundreds of westerns that have come before this. I will say though that the best "modern" western movie I have seen has been 3:10 to Yuma and this movie doesn't even compare to that one in my book.
I thought the movie started out very well as I am almost always a fan of narration and I do enjoy Viggo Mortensen's acting quite a bit. The scene in the beginning of the film where Ed Harris's character comes into the saloon and basically takes care of business is my favorite part of the film by far. If you're going to "clean up a town of it's degenerates", that is the way to go and I thought it was gritty and fair all at the same time.
Then Renee Zelwegger comes into the movie...and it all seems to unravel from there. In the most simplest terms, she is a complete slut, plain and simple. She's also a manipulator, which leads me to wonder if she wasn't working for Bragg (Jeremy Irons) the whole time. I don't know how her character was portrayed in the book but in the movie, her character pretty much ruined it for me.
There was one part of the movie in particular that really bothered me. There was a scene where Ed Harris (Virgil Cole) tells Viggo (Everett Hitch) that the reason he isn't as good of a shooter as him is because "he has feelings." Then he goes on to say how that at that point, he is not letting his feelings dictate his actions. That was absolutely ridiculous. His feelings were the reason he was in that mess in the first place. His "feelings" for Renee Zelwegger were the reason he let his prisoner go and was in that situation in the first place. Ever since he met her, his feelings dictated every single move he made. I thought it was pathetic that a man who had lived his life being strong and not having "feelings" would be swayed so strongly by a woman who at the end of the day, only was with him because he was "there." She had sex with one of her kidnappers for crying out loud and tried to put a move on Virgil's partner! Perhaps that was the point....that he was so lonely that he was willing to sacrifice his own integrity for a woman who really didn't even love him. I can understand that, but it doesn't mean I want to watch 2 hours of that unfold on the big screen.
This movie had promise but in the end just sort of limped along as if it was an actual Appaloosa (none of those horses were even in the movie by the way) that had been shot and was just trying to get home before it died.
The weirdest movie I have ever seen...not in a good way.
Okay...so i've seen a lot of really odd/unusual movies in my day. Fear and loathing in Las Vegas comes to mind when I think of that. Well not anymore...from here on out, whenever someone asks me, "hey, what's the most unusual movie you've ever seen?" Slipstream is what i'll say! And I do not mean "unusual" in a good way.
From the very beginning of the movie, it was obvious that this was going to be one of those "trippy camera effect" movies. By that I mean, little things like flashing images on the screen, rewinding and fast-forwarding people's words and scenes, messing with the color on the screen, flash forwards and flash backs constantly...then you have the actual acting itself. People randomly get violent, shoot things/people, say the weirdest things that just don't make much, if any sense.
The movie is about a writer who starts to intermingle real life with the book he's writing and for a lack of a better way to explain it, you basically see this "trip" he goes on throughout the movie. The thing is, Johnny Depp went on a similar trip in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas but the only difference is that his trip was entertaining to watch, not painful! Honestly, I had a real hard time even finishing Slipstream. It kind of hurt my brain a bit.
I can see some film buff making a claim as to this movie having certain cinematic nuances that make it not only unique but add to the feeling of dementia...blah, blah, blah. Point is, this movie hurts your brain when you watch it....it makes very little sense, it takes all of your concentration to even remotely try and understand what is going on and even at the end, the only thing you can be happy about is that it's over...and you can say you actually sat through it! So in closing, if you want to see a movie that will have you saying "what the heck" over and over again both out loud and in your head, go ahead and waste an hour and 30 minutes and check this out.
Mr Hopkins, while I applaud you as an actor and commend your choice to take a stab at directing....please, do not ever make a movie like this again. Next time, try something that relies a little more on great storytelling than camera techniques that tend to leave the viewer with a headache.
Battlestar Galactica (2003)
Not So Good Galactica
As a sci-fi fan in general, I am always pleased to hear of a new and exciting series coming down the pipeline. This was how I felt with the highly anticipated 2 part miniseries Battlestar Galactica. I can't quite remember how long sci-fi hyped this series but I remember seeing spots for it all the way in June or so. With all the hype and time that went into Battlestar, I was ready for one of the best pieces of sci-fi that had yet to be seen. Unfortunately, all I saw was a C- remake of a grade F show from the 1970's. Now to be fair to all of you dedicated Battlestar fans from the beginning, the original was definitely groundbreaking and imaginative for it's time, but I imagine the Ford Pinto at one point might have been given that title as well. I am sure it was great back then but now it is pointless to watch unless you are an original fan in search of nostalgia. Having said that though, the new version of the series is not that much better. Granted, all of the visual aspects far surpass anything the original series ever could have attained and are quite impressive to watch, but that is about all the new Battlestar has going for it. There is not much character development at all, although it is obvious they tried to incorporate this at times, but it just didn't pan out on film. From the acting, especially towards the end, one would never know that these people were the very last of the human race, they certainly did not seem to notice much. The only two characters names I even remember are Starbuck and Apollo, and the only reason I even remember those is the fact that both of the characters are right out of cliche` 101. Starbuck is the ever-popular "manly woman", complete with the cigar smoking and drunkenness. Now I am all for equal rights among the sexes but for some reason having this "man-like" character in a woman is just not enjoyable to watch. Why is it that all "strong" women characters in these kinds of shows have to be so cliche'? I guess I should be thankful she wasn't some outrageously over the top Charlie's angel's type woman who can beat the crap of a guy twice her size despite her 110-lb. frame but it still doesn't sit well with me. Then you have Apollo, the "I'm not going to speak to my father because of my dead brother" character who seems to have about as much personality as a box of corn chex. The only real attempt at creating an interesting character was through Dr. Gaius Baltar and the actor portraying him did a very excellent job. Through this character you can see his inner demons plaguing him as he desperately tries to save himself from the truth of the situation. One of the main problems with this series is time...it simply was too short for the amount of ground they tried to cover. The first hour of the series is absolutely pointless and wastes valuable time that could have been spent telling the story, not attempting to fit the original show into the situation by having Battlestar Galactica be some sort of a tourist destination...that was just lame. Another of the show's hindrances is the music and sound effects used. The space battles are almost completely silent save for the little air puffs from the vipers and the occasional Cylon ship screaming by. Now I realize that in space there wouldn't be sounds like we are used to hearing in earth bound dogfights but at least the music could have made up for it. Instead all we got were some drums in the background that just barely let you know they were there. If you are a fan of film and television you know that music plays a huge part in the general theme of the story and it set's the tone for what you are watching. It is very hard to be excited about an almost silent space battle with some congo drums in the background. Star Wars is a great example of excellent use of sound effects and music. Like it or not you always know what the tone of the scene is just by the first few notes of John Williams's amazing score. The composer for the series, Richard Gibbs, really should have taken a few notes from composers like Williams and given Battlestar a truly decent score, not some uninspired, unimaginative collection of music, if that is what you want to call it. Maybe this score would have been great for an episode of Diagnosis Murder or Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman but not for an epic sci-fi battle....I mean who green-lighted this in the first place? This series is one of those that has all of its really good parts in the trailer. If you watch that then you have pretty much seen the gist of the whole series and it saves you the trouble of sitting through 4 hours of bad acting. I wanted to like this series, I really did. I am always aching for good sci-fi and there just isn't much out there anymore so any time something like this comes along I am excited. But there were too many letdowns and loose ends in this series for me to really enjoy it. Its only real saving grace was the ending battle scene, but even that was short and somewhat lacking. All in all I would say avoid this unless you are just a huge sci-fi fan or would like to see your favorite series from your childhood on screen again.
Best mini-series ever, great addition to Sci-Fi in general
I have to say as a sci-fi fan this is some of the best work I have ever seen. As far as any mini-series is concerned, sci-fi or not, Taken takes this medium to new and unimaginable levels with depth and character development only equaled by another television and sci-fi milestone, Babylon 5. Unlike Babylon 5 however, Taken has a somewhat limited amount of time to deliver the story since it is a one-time event rather than a full-blown television show. Having said that, 20 hours is a very long amount of time for any TV miniseries but with Taken it only seems to scratch the surface. One of the most interesting benefits of such a lengthy mini-series is the fact that all the characters have the proper amount of time to develop and change as the series goes along and you never once feel "left out" by an important character who never seems to change with time or develop at all. Taken does this so well that you really feel a genuine attachment to some of the characters and when the series ends you are left with a feeling of sadness that you won't be able to see what will happen next. I felt particularly strong in this area about the character Allie Keys who is played flawlessly by the most adorable little girl in the world, Dakota Fanning. The writing for Allie Key's character was very strong and it is fairly obvious that she is the focal point of this entire series. Dakota's performance was really quite remarkable for her age...she really carried herself well and you could not help but be effected by her presence. What I really loved about Taken is the fact that it always kept you on your toes. So many movies or shows that cover the topic of alien abduction and that sort of thing can be usually quite predictable and are not always very interesting. By covering 3 entire familial generations and the alien experiences they all shared was something never done before and it really allows you to see the topic from every possible angle. Of all the characters in the series I have to say my favorites were Allie Keys and Owen Crawford. Both of the actors playing these characters did amazing jobs and really allowed the excellent writing to shine through them. It is interesting to watch Owen weave his downward spiral, one death (or two) at a time. He is by far the most evil character in the series and carries with him an unspoken desire to find the truth at all costs.
No one truly knows how much of Taken is based on actual events or classified files but it sure does make you wonder. I think of all the explanations of why there is or is not extra-terrestrial life, Taken provides one of the most logical and simplest explanations. For all the reasons we want to find life other than our own....so do they.