Once the (minimal) action gets going, the thick fog (created by the monsters to cool L.A.'s hot climate and make it livable) obscures much of what is going on. The fog is obviously intended to cover up the movie's cheap production values, but mostly it just makes everything even harder to watch. The visual style has evolved from casual minimalism to ocular strain inducing. Not that blowing aside the fog would have made it much better. Every aspect of the movie comes off as shoddy in the lowest sense. The plot was poorly thought out and the action poorly staged. Little that happens moves the story ahead, makes any logical sense or generates interest. The average student film shows more evidence of thought and planning. The characters are unappealingly dull, and most of their interactions seem pointless and go nowhere. The locations add nothing of interest. The lighting, editing and camera direction seem outright amateurish, about on the level of a locally made infomercial. What little budget existed went toward the creature costumes. These are mildly imaginative, but not very scary.
As entertainment, even bad entertainment, absolutely nothing gets achieved here. There are not even any unintentional laughs. All a viewer can expect to get out of this movie is a mild case of eye strain and an appreciation for the cinematic lavishness of The Blair Witch Project.
Story and script construction are uniformly terrible. Scenes begin, stuff happens, scenes end... and NOTHING carries over. There is no continuing thread here of any kind - no overall character arc, no central theme, no ongoing visual motifs outside of the movie's hilariously inaccurate 80's fashion sense. Everything that happens seems utterly pointless, just a string of clichés recycled from old movies in which the chorus girl gets her big break. Glitter's brain-dead script gives none of its performers, not even once by accident, anything original or clever to say, nor any awareness of the storyline's utter inanity, making it increasingly difficult for the viewer to connect with the drama. And then we come to the Razzie-winning central 'performance'. La Carey could have been replaced by a Miss Piggy doll and the central role would have had more animation. Mariah's singular expression of vague incomprehension never changes, not even when gangster Terrence Howard grabs her face! To be fair she is not Glitter's only zombie marionette. Outside of Ann Magnusson's over-the-top pr woman, no actor in Glitter's 100 minute running time seems committed to being in any way memorable. A cynical person might suggest that they did this so that they could keep Glitter off their resumes without fear of contradiction. The result is a movie that defies any viewer to keep paying attention to it. You find yourself wanting to make a salad or do your taxes while the movie is playing, anything so that the time spent watching it is not a total waste.
This brings us to the music. Hollywood seems to have forgotten that the most important element in any musical is music, despite the fact that the word is right there in the name of the genre. Grease turns into a pretty bad movie whenever the singing stops and The Bodyguard is only marginally better. Both were huge hits however, and the fact that their soundtracks went multi-platinum was not a coincidence. Purple Rain features some downright cringe inducing 'acting' by Prince and Appolonia, but redeems itself time and time again with great musical performances. Viewers will put up with so-so filler in a musical as long as the songs entertain and remain in the mind after the credits roll. Glitter, unfortunately, features Mariah's worst ever (and worst selling) album at its core. Not only are the musical sequences not entertaining on their own, but they also make it hard for the viewer to swallow the idea that fictional Mariah would become a superstar on the strength of them, since actual established star Mariah could not manage to peddle them in real life. Thus, the fictional Mariah fails to engage as a performer, the actual Mariah fails to cross over into Hollywood despite having great singing talent and only having to play a person with singing talent, and even the spectacle of these failures fails to entertain on the basic level of a train wreck.
Glitter simply cannot provide an adequate reason to exist. Mariah's musical ability has already been showcased in a long succession of music videos, to better effect, and so we don't need Glitter for that. Rags to riches musical biographies have been done to death, so we hardly need another. The Girl in the Gold Boots told substantially the same story to drive-in goers fifty years ago! Heck, 42nd Street wore out this clichéd genre in 1933. If Glitter's only purpose was to act as a 100 minute commercial for its own soundtrack, as the Pokemon cartoons are simply ads for Pokemon toys, it fails there too, since it makes these crummy songs even less palatable in context than they would be standing on their own. So why does Glitter still exist? Was it financed by someone with a grudge against Mariah Carey, and she never caught on that she was being pranked until after its release? As a practical joke played on a gullible and vain pop diva, Glitter is pure malevolent genius. If, however, we were meant to have taken it seriously, then it's just a really, thoroughly worthless movie.
Poll question: Which pop diva embarrassed herself worst? JLo in Gigli, Jessica in The Dukes of Hazzard, Britney in Crossroads, Clarkson in From Justin to Kelly or Mariah in this piece of drek? I vote Mariah in a close race.
Bud and Doyle are our two everyman heroes, assuming every guy is a nitwit with no job and Joey Lauren Adams for a girlfriend. And like the rest of us nitwits, Bud and Doyle just want to party while the Earth goes to hell on a fast train. There is a potential cautionary tale about environmental awareness in there somewhere, but it gets lost amidst our duo's goofy but unfunny antics. Bud and Doyle make the cast of Jackass look like Laurel and Hardy by comparison.
After a few misunderstandings and much time-wasting non-hilarity, our duo find themselves locked in a sealed environment with five scientists who are studying environmental sustainability. Two of the scientists are played by popstar Kylie Minogue and former model Dara Tomanovich, and if I ever find out which graduate school they attended, I may go back to school. But our boys just want to have dumb fun and proceed to trash the place. Again, the idea that this whole movie might actually be a social allegory about man partying over Mother Nature's deathbed may occur to those viewers who are still aware of their surroundings, but it quickly gets lost thanks to several long scenes involving Pauly Shore not being funny.
This whole business goes on for ninety fairly painful minutes. You can usually tell whether a movie succeeded as entertainment by watching the audience as it leaves the theatre. If a movie is a think piece, everybody looks thoughtful. Patrons of comedies tend to leave in an upbeat mood. The audience for Bio Dome looked lobotomized. The best part of the movie was that it did not end with a title card that read Pauly Shore Returns In...
If anybody has a better explanation for how a movie like this, a movie with no conception of human behavior or interactions on any level could exist, I would love to hear it. Even the worst movie makers manage to hit a correct dramatic note every once in a while by sheer statistical accident. But here, the writing and acting manage to fail with such unerring consistency that it is almost an achievement. Words such as 'surreal' do not begin to describe the experience of watching this movie. Its sheer terribleness on every possible creative level exceeds description. If you took ninety minutes of clips from a South American soap opera, spliced them together in random order and got blind street junkies to come with dubbed dialogue, you would still have a more coherent drama. The Room is so totally bad for every moment of its running time that it becomes a master class on cinematic ineptitude. The dialogue is awful, yet the actors still manage to make it seem much worse than it is by mistiming lines and giving inappropriate responses throughout the movie. The pacing of every scene, every exchange, seems off. And despite a reported budget of $6 million (??!) everything looks cheap and hurried, like a film class project that was left to the last minute.
The story construction is so inept that almost nothing that happens pushes the story forward, and virtually none of the plot threads get resolved. In fact, most of them are mentioned once and never come up again. Early on, for example, the mother casually discloses that she has cancer, and that is all we ever hear about it. This however is the film's secret virtue. When no plot point is important or connected to anything else in the movie, the viewer is free to play connect the dots.
For instance, Johnny's announcement that he failed to get a promotion at his bank shows his underachievement in the financial world. As financiers are sometimes called 'big swinging d*cks', this could be hinting that Johnny is underachieving anatomically as well. This would explain Lisa' perpetual dissatisfaction with him. Or perhaps Lisa' attitude is actually outwardly redirected self-loathing over all of the Weight Watchers meetings she has been missing. Mark's perpetual surprise over how Lisa's undressing indicates that she wants sex and not something else could be masking his own disappointment that she wasn't handing him her clothes to put on for some cross dressing role play. Such disappointment would go far in explaining the sternness of Mark's resistance to her chubby charms. Danny's drug purchase explains his apparent disconnection from reality throughout the film. The kid is clearly on goofballs. Has the mother's cancer spread to her brain? Memory impairment might explain why she keeps having the same conversations over and over. These are all ripe food for thought, and The Room's arthritic pacing gives the viewer plenty of opportunities to toss them around like footballs thrown by guys in tuxedos.
There are no surprises here and no originality, just a recycling of every creature feature story device we all grew up with. The movie's way of saving money on monster effects: show the victims screaming and then shake the camera so vigorously that nothing can be clearly seen until after the creature attack has ended. Saw that before too.
Jasmine herself is watchable as eye candy, and the movie succeeds as drive in level genre entertainment, assuming the viewers are drunk enough to be past the point of effective aesthetic judgement of its shortcomings. Other reviewers have remarked on the awful sound recording, and it is true that the dialogue is often drowned out by the wind or passing mosquitoes. This, however, given the uneven quality of the scripting, is not necessarily a bad thing.
Alan Alda strikes a convincing note as the cocky Caryl Chessman, convicted and sentenced to death in a string of crimes known as the Red Light Bandit attacks. The movie's creators, however, cheat a bit by making Chessman a little too sympathetic. Alda throws a chair across a room to show his frustration in one scene, but the film stops short of showing just how confrontational and difficult to like Chessman was in real life. Chessman was a brilliant writer, but anyone carefully reading his books sees a fundamentally dishonest and manipulative sociopath behind the clever prose. He proclaims his innocence of the crimes, yet never bothers to account for why their pattern so closely matches his own descriptions of his earlier exploits that landed him in Folsom Penitentiary. Had the film gone in for more of a warts and all approach to the character, it would have succeeded at being at least less dishonest than its subject.
That said, the film accurately captures its period and brings out the many details in Chessman's trial that seemed to indicate that it was something less than fair. The film tiptoes around the central issue of Chessman's guilt, portraying the Red Light Bandit crimes in flashback without showing the identity of the perpetrator. But his fight for fair treatment by the justice system, guilty or not, makes for strong cinema. This movie is definitely worth a watch, however one might view its protagonist's guilt.
The cast try hard, but other than Klaus Kinski, a great actor who can do creepy Germans in his sleep, nobody manages a performance that comes off as wholly authentic. The shrieky script plays at a daytime drama level. The model effects are anything but special. And most significant, nearly every plot device in the movie is ripped off from some other (much better) movie. The landing sequence is almost a shot by shot steal from Alien, the finding of the monster scene reminds the viewer immediately of the original version of The Thing, and other moments feel lifted from It! The Creature from Beyond Space. Story-wise there is little here we have not seen before.
Yet, somehow the whole rises above its elements and manages to entertain anyway. The pacing is consistently brisk and the story doesn't lag, at least not after the first twenty minutes we spend with the crew. The gore effects are genuinely shocking. And the cheesy model effects are forgivable by anyone alive during the 80s. Pre-CGI has its nostalgic qualities. The movie's total lack of pretentiousness is actually a virtue. It's a b-movie with a hand me down plot which never tries to claim otherwise.
Anyway, Empire of Ash II played frequently on Canadian pay TV channels back in the 80s, as it qualified as local content thanks to being shot on location here. On a story concept level, it actually has some intriguing conceits. Two opposing groups have arisen from the flames of our dead civilization: a group led by scientists who are using captives to create a treatment for those stricken by radiation sickness, and a group of religious fundamentalists led by a loony preacher. Into this world stumble two sisters, and one is taken captive. The older sister, who just happens to have kick butt combat skills, enlists the aid of a couple of free living survivalists to retrieve her sibling. The result is a series of gun battles with both groups of crazies. For an 80s era shoot 'em up, this is not a bad foundation upon which to build. Moreover, the technical level of the movie is no worse than is typical for an exercise of this budget range. Lighting, video and sound recording were at least adequate to follow the action.
Unfortunately, the movie's execution falls far short of its ambitions. The story plays out in a hatchet-chopped fashion, with the action sequences lacking sharp form and dovetailing poorly one with the next. The dialogue is terrible and often makes little sense and the performances are all over the place. This tells me that either the script was being rewritten on the fly, or the creators had no idea how to shape a film, or more likely both. When working with a nothing budget and semi-pro actors, a sure directorial hand, good pre-production planning and effective rehearsals are essential and none of this is in evidence.
The action scenes themselves, the point of the movie in other words, are also of very inconsistent quality, and range downward from not bad to will-somebody-tell-me- wth-is-going-on? In certain scenes, the viewer is required to expend more energy trying to keep straight who is doing what and where than is justified by the underwhelming thrills. The lead actress, Melanie Kilgour, tries hard to keep the viewer watching, but frankly deserved better.
The only reason to watch this backyard movie making mess is to set up the more watchable sequel, E of Ash III.
On its merits, BME is a terribly cheap and shoddy looking picture. The plotting is so random and haphazard that nothing that happens in the film seems in any way organically related to anything else that happens. One scene just stops and another starts up somewhere else. To call the effect incomprehensible is to suggest that BME merits comprehending. It doesn't. It's not a clever send-up, just cheap silly nonsense that somebody put together on a zero budget. It generates little conventional b-movie sizzle, in that there is little suspense, surprise or originality. It isn't even all that amusing as Bad Movie Note entertainment, in that its crazy grab bag of a plot fails to actually pull the viewer along. Random silly stuff just happens, and then more random silly stuff happens.
Get a grip guys. This is not a 10 of a movie despite some of the ratings above. It's just a cheap, backyard production put together in some sleepy Canadian burg by amateurs who watched a lot of bad creature features and wanted to make their own.
At least the producers had the good taste to give Chuck age-appropriate female friends (Joanna Pakula and Tracy Scoggins); watching younger actresses cozy up to sexagenarian Chuck would have been just too icky.
The picture that Luc Besson made here deserves to be appreciated on its own merits. It is visually stunning, rousingly action-packed, and full of interesting period details. Yes, casting his supermodel wife Milla Jovovich in the lead was a risky choice, as her looks were hardly those of a typical medieval peasant. Yes, her performance did not resonate with the period the way one by a more classically trained actress might, although she was clearly never trying to be Ingrid Bergman. Still, Milla's hyperactive personality made her interesting and watchable as a historical person about whom so much has been written, who nonetheless existed so far back in the past that she lacks a strongly identifiable humanity. When somebody makes a better statue than a person, as Joan does from a contemporary viewpoint, odd casting choices can be forgiven if they work. Milla's twisty mannerisms, rolling eyes and whispery speech give the viewer constant occasions to ponder just how much of Joan's fanaticism came from genuine devotion to God and the church and how much was just an under-medicated personality disorder. This is actually one of the key scholarly issues surrounding Joan's life, and the picture brings it to the fore in its latter part as Joan herself tries to come to terms with her own claims of divine communication by means of a debate with Dustin Hoffman as her confessor-priest/conscience. That Besson takes no particular viewpoint here is an interesting choice, and one which actually helps the viewer to understand why Joan's story has compelled so many generations of historians.
The political aspects of Joan's life and legend were also dealt with in a nicely balanced fashion. Like many figures in times when political and national alliances changed with the seasons, Joan herself blew back and forth between being tremendously useful to the French throne at times and dangerously inconvenient at others. Fame is a powerful commodity at any time, and the picture carefully tracked the rise and fall of Joan's fortunes as she watched hers be manipulated, leveraged and ultimately put on trial.
I thought a lot of The Messenger and recommend it. Religious and historical scholars are advised to approach with caution.
That said, there is still a lot to like here. At a time (the early 80s) when new low budget horror movies were getting released every week despite almost a total lack of cinematic art, the dark, almost film noir, look and mood of the film are consistently rich and interesting. Eerie pools of streetlight, sudden shocking howls and fast moving cameras chasing nothing very distinct effectively generate suspense and an atmosphere of dread early on, and maintained throughout by scattered moments of general creepiness, again nothing obvious or distinct, but enough to keep the audience uneasy. Basically it works as a mood piece.
Anyway, action comedies rely on a few things to succeed: good action sequences, charismatic stars and funny dialogue. Here we get one of three. The fight scenes are pretty well-staged, while the chases range from very good to merely ho-hum, and there are none of the really elaborate knock-your-eyes-out stunts that a viewer sometimes encounters in these pictures. Moreover, the action scenes are played brutally straight and get far too gruesome to really fit the tone of a rom-com. And speaking of things that don't work together, as a screen couple, Kutcher and Heigl just don't sizzle. Kate is again playing the same gorgeous but slightly neurotic character as in The Ugly Truth and every other movie she'd made in the previous several years. She needs a new shtick. The script - which features no more than maybe two light chuckles and no big laughs - provides next to no help. The supporting characters are uniformly unfunny and unappealing. And least of all there is Ashton Kutcher. Ashton wants to be Pierce Brosnan , but comes off as more of a goofy frat boy version of George Lazenby. In The Ugly Truth, KH at least had Gerry Butler to play off. How Kutcher got to be a movie star is downright baffling. He works fine in sit-coms, but simply lacks the personality and chops to carry a movie of this kind. Watching him trying to be charming or romantic here is a fairly excruciating experience. On the plus side, some of the scenery is nice (It's set in Nice, get it? Okay, moving along...) and the lead pair are attractive to look at, but that's about all. A movie this is lightweight and generic normally goes direct- to-video. $75 million should buy a lot more in the way of originality or cleverness.
Craig Sheffer stands out as a merciless thug due for a comeuppance, who kidnaps a drug chemist (Lucy Liu) in the first of many messy criminal schemes which unravel due to bad luck, bad planning and mostly just bad timing. The bad timing bug hits a philandering spouse, whose punishment rapidly outstrips his crime, and then others who similarly come to grief in random and often comic ways.
The film is a very mixed bag of mostly unlikable characters and squirm- inducing scenes, but its sheer random unpredictability makes it at least somewhat watchable. Don't even try to guess where any of the plot lines are heading or what will happen next. Chances are you will be wrong.
Baseball was fertile terrain for this, since sport even at the highest professional level is notoriously anti-intellectual and conservative. Baseball men would rather underachieve than face ridicule from their peers by rejecting common practice. This is made clear early in the film. Baseball scouts and front office personnel are shown to be making decisions on team makeup in an ad hoc, seat of the pants fashion that disappeared in most other enterprises with the coming of the information age. But any battle against established wisdom and entrenched power has heroic qualities and makes for compelling drama. Baseball just happened to be the venue this time out.
The story: after losing key players to richer organizations after the 2002 season, Oakland GM Billy Beane faced the same to succeed as them but with less resources. He needed a cheaper product. His response quietly revolutionized baseball by challenging conventional wisdom about player evaluation and showing it up. The fact that the 'moneyball' approach is now almost universal in pro baseball gives the film's subject the weight of historic interest, but even if the experiment had failed the mission itself was heroic and historic.
Brad Pitt, creates a full bodied performance as Beane, a man risks his career and reputation to implement his quiet revolution, while dealing with the fact of a failed playing career and a failed marriage with as much dignity and practicality as he can, and without turning his experiment into a quest. Beane's passion for the game drives him forward without blinding him to the fact that he is running an experiment that might fail. He weathers a storm of opposition and ridicule from others around baseball, from a skeptical and misinformed media, and even within the ranks of even his own team, while he (and the audience) watch the season play out.
Jonah Hill successfully underplays a bright outsider on the fringes, whose insights into the game career baseball men won't admit exceed their own, and who serves as the catalyst and caretaker of the Moneyball experiment. Robin Wright strikes the perfect note as the ex-wife who bears Beane no ill will but who has nonetheless moved on with her life. Beane's personal drama is past, but the big public one playing out everyday in the sports pages should be enough conflict for anybody, including the audience.
There is actually a halfway decent B-movie script here. Unfortunately the 'actors' in this movie don't do it justice with their mostly amateurish performances. Cec Verrell is spot on as a bad girl soldier, but Sandahl Bergman is a better dancer than an actress and rassler Roddy Piper is from the bargain basement of action stars. Also, the budget for vehicles and stunt drivers must have been very low, resulting in some not very exciting two vehicle or one-vehicle-chasing-a-pedestrian (!) chase scenes. Road Warrior this isn't. Some pretty good makeup effects were employed, and so the denizens of Frogtown look pretty good, and there are some genuine laughs in the dialogue. But low expectations are a must for anyone looking for a good time here.
After so many soulless fighting giant robot adventures, it is refreshing to watch a series which makes a technological creation so intimate and heartfelt and which focuses on personal existential growth rather than just using cutting edge robot technology to bash stuff.
Highly recommended, especially in its original Japanese.
Sean Connery was a great choice to play a blocked, womanizing writer at the core of the drama and he centers the film with his amiable exuberance. Comparisons to Cuckoo's Nest are inevitable, and this film lacks the other's stifling power and resonance, but it shares a common vision of the psychiatric profession acting as a microcosm of authoritarian abuses in society at large. Still, this is a funny and charming, much lighter satire on the same subject, energetically directed by Irvin Kirschner, and enjoyable for Connery fans in any case.
Hollywood movies about Hollywood movie making have proved a rather mixed bag over the years, surprising given the supposed intimacy with the subject matter the films' creators theoretically enjoy. A botched technical detail here or there in a film about Arctic exploration might be forgiven, but Hollywood ought to know its own turf. Luckily, this particular addition to the Hollywood-on-Hollywood genre has a fairly authentic ring. Indeed, the more you understand about the Hollywood movie-making process, the more interesting and entertaining this film is. Yet the movie has enough striking visuals and funny and surprising bits, as to make it accessible to anyone.
Most of the crimes take place at night and in the rain, and the reflected glare of wet windows lends everything an eerie Vaseline sheen of ickiness which accentuates the horror. The killer revels in the gory details of his crimes and the movie wallows right along with him, making a spectacle of every flying blood spatter. This is a gruesome exploitation movie and not for the timid, but quite compelling for its type.
Watch at your own risk.
What follows is a fast moving, action nightmare highlighted by nightmarish visions of seemingly ordinary people and objects morphing into their terrifying demon forms.
Genuinely scary stuff.
Great wide screen cinematography gives us lushly gorgeous vistas of Victorian-era Africa - convincingly unspoiled by modernity - while the close-ups show the intimate details of the journey in all of their hardship and horror.
The result is a sweeping, yet personal adventure and a memorable viewing experience.