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Solomon (1997)
excellent story of Israel's greatest king
21 April 2010
I fist saw a rather abrupt cut of Roger Young's "Solomon" in a bible collection. Still it was so good I was determined to see the full version. Boy was i glad I did! Ben Cross does an absolutely amazing job as the title character, much like in "Jesus" and "Jacob" The film makers aren't afraid to present these legendary people as people! They have loves and fears and aren't so perfect and aloof. Cross is young and a bit arrogant at first, but very loyal to his father David, played beautifully by the great Max von Sydow, and his mother Bathsheba. The early part of the movie has him dealing with his scheming half-brother Adonijah and the general Joab, played by David Suchet. overcoming both he asks God for wisdom to rule his people wisely. Like any of us would be God is impressed and Solomon makes great judgments, never allowing his priests or prophets to rule him.

The legend of his wisdom grows till it reaches the beautiful Queen of Sheba, played with nice understatement by Viveca A. Fox. She journey to Isreal to see the truth of this legend. Here Solomon finds true love at last, but under pressure and unable to convince Sheba to stay in Israel he is left alone and despite still ruling wisely begins to anger the people by allowing freedom of worship. Hmmm. like the U.S.? Upon his death the kingdom is divided again and Israel will never again be a world power as it was under him.

I thought he acting, sets and photography were all first rate. I really like this move, yes it's long, but it's well worth your time, even if biblical epics aren't your usual speed. Well recommended.
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Iron Man (2008)
Iron man rocks!
4 March 2010
Iron Man, based on the MArvel comics character, is a fun ride from start to finish. Robert Downey Jr. does a good job and Gwyneth Paltrow is surprisingly appealing as his assistant, ahem-Pepper Potts. The effects are really good and the score, which features AC/DC and Black Sabbath, is first rate.

That's not to say it doesn't run out of gas about halfway in, that the middle section of the film is really boring. Hey if I wanted to watch someone work with a computer all day, I got to the Microsoft office!! The giant robot climax is pretty silly too. Still kudos to Jon Favreau for a good sense of humor here. You can't possibly take a comic book film too seriously and he doesn't. Downey has lots of fun with that, I did feel though that he never really takes Tony Stark beyond that playboy we meet in the first five minutes. Also I love Jeff Bridges, but what was he doing in this, Obie is such a moron! Any thinking bad guy would've iced Pepper when he found her in his office. I mean c'mon!! At least he rebounded with "Crazy Heart", but sheesh.

Iron Man is pretty good action, despite it's flaws and it's miles above pretentious nonsense like "Unbreakable". So if you like this sort of thing, you're likely to be pleased.
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tries to hard, but has it's moments
4 March 2010
I was lured by the blu-ray box, which claimed Megan Fox is even hotter in this format. What can I say? Couldn't resist. Actually the film isn't as bad as many say, it just tries to hard. Diablo Cody may have shot herself in the foot with this one, or the mouth as the dialog is rather arch, but the film does have it's moments.

To boot, Jennifer and her BFF Needy (Amanda Seyfried) go to club in a tiny mid-west town in the boondocks, it burns to the ground, but not before ultra-hottie Jennifer Check hooks up with a goth band. They try to sacrifice her virgin soul to the Dark Lord, but as Jenn lets you know, "I'm not even a back-door virgin". So the spell goes awry. Not that this makes much sense, but little does really in Cody's world. Needy notices the changes first and boys start turning up looking like "Lasagna with teeth" Nice line Diablo!!

The film is awful at the start, but does get better as it goes. A shot of a nude Jenn swimming across a pristine lake is about as arty as the flick gets. A Later scene where she attempts so seduce Needy is bizarrely out of place, but certainly affective. The climactic battle at the pool is rather cheap, seems left over from elementary writing days, but the battle between Needy and Jenn has some nice moments.

The film can't seem to finish though, Needy's revenge, this was her friend after all, is done over the end credits, rendering it irrelevant. The music score is irritating too, rather than driving the suspense, it buries the dialog and hurts your head. I'm a metal fan, I don't say these things lightly.

Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried do nice work here, but combining horror and comedy is tough. "Scream" did it perfectly, to see it done badly see "Cursed" with Christina Ricci. Case in point, cracking jokes at the werewolf when it's supposed to seem scary just doesn't work. Same deal here, JB isn't as bad as "C" at it, but it still renders the horror weak.

There is a lot of gore here, some projectile vomiting scenes could have been cut down, so don't watch after you've eaten, but if your curiosity must be sated... Well there are worse ways to spend two hours than looking at Megan Fox.
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Fever (1991 TV Movie)
one surprise does not a good movie make
26 January 2010
This HBO original is pretty straightforward and pretty dumb. Armand Assante, once again doing a poor Stallone imitation, is Ray Wellman a ex-con just out on parole. All he wants is his old girlfriend Lacy, played by a young Marcia Gay Harden, back. Unfortunately for Ray, Lacy has hooked up with stalwart Elliot, played by Sam Neill. Further complicating matters is that Ray's old Cell buddies want some favors and they kidnap Lacy to make sure they happen. Ray and Elliot team up, despite mutual dislike.

What follows is violent and slow, but Marcia Gay Harden shows us why she would win Oscar in the future, she's not as polished here, but her raw emotion, sincerity and some rather explicit nude scenes almost make this worth watching. Almost.

Rent "Fever" (no the title doesn't fit the film) if your a fan of hers, otherwise skip it and be grateful it's stars went on to better things.

Note-this is a hard "R" flick for language, violence and nudity.
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a perfect Kit, not a perfect film
20 October 2009
I actually rented this for my cousin, who's a huge fan of the American Girl line. Having thoroughly loved "Samantha", "Felicity" and to some degree "Molly" it was with great anticipation that we all sat down to enjoy "Kit". About twenty minutes in I saw some rolling eyes and yawns. It's not that this movie was bad, but for a theatrical release it's rather pallid. There isn't a lot of movement and the story isn't all that interesting. It feels rather like Saturday morning cartoons to me. I'm not the target audience here, but my cousin and her friends are, they were rather bored. Sorry to say.

Abigail Breslin did a splendid job at Kit, no complaints there, she was charming, smart and strong. The supporting players were good, though the always terrific Jane Krakowski didn't get enough to do, her amorous dancer deserved more screen time. Kit's friends were okay, a bit generic. This seemed cut from the same cloth as the misbegotten "Nancy Drew" with Emma Roberts. No fault of Emma, but that movie, though having an excellent story, suffered from a poor approach that turned a plucky heroine into an nerd! Kit's no nerd, but she's stuck in a nerds movie.

This was a real shame because the American Girl series provides young women with good role models and strong moral messages. That doesn't mean the movie had to be so dull!! Originally "Kristen" was set for the big screen and perhaps her pioneer story would have played better. "Kit" is just not that memorable.
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good vs. evil or vengeance is mine?
1 September 2009
The original "Last House" was one of the sickest, most disturbing movies I ever saw. I wasn't sure how this remake would be, considering how poor the "Friday the 13th" reboot was... This "Last House" is just as good, if not better, than Wes Craven's seminal '72 version.

Sara Paxton is Mari, bored at the lake house her parents go to every summer and bummed out by her brother Ben's recent death, goes to the city to catch up with her friend Paige, played by Martha MacIsaac of all people! She on "Emily of New Moon" fame, talk about an image-changer! They are approached by Justin to partake of some prime weed and guess who comes back early? Yes, it's the deranged psycho "family" we met in the gruesome opening scenes! Nice setup!

Mari and Paige are brutalized in the woods, Mari is raped and it is a awful scene to watch, though I prefer the unrated one, just adds more disgust to Krug. Both are left for dead. When a storm strikes, Krug, his brother Frank, Justin and Krug's really odd girlfriend Sadie, look for shelter, they have the incredibly bad luck of choosing the last house on the left. Cue music. Heh.

The movie doesn't take too long in getting going, in fact the pacing is excellent, and soon Mari's parents know who these creeps are and what they did. A bit unclear if they realize about Paige though. They decide to take matters into their own hands and well do... The brutality with which they strike seems to indicate we are all very near the beasts we rose from. It would have helped if either Tony Goldwyn or Monica Potter had been better actors. Neither is able to summon the volcanic rage I would have felt. Potter is nervous throughout film and frankly, irritating. Goldwyn is just too reserved, even when battling Krug.

Some of the violence is more cartoonish than I would have liked, the last shot involving the microwave is really lame. still you can't feel any sympathy for Krug considering what he is.

What surprised me and pleased me about this was the style of the film, Dennis Iliadis really does well here, the sign that makes no sense, the minimalist brutality, offset by the quiet charm of the house. Note the end shots of the seemingly tranquility of the last house, but the viewer knows what went down. The music is good too. The film leaves just enough unsaid, inf act the script could be accused of offering too little for the actors to work with, how did Ben die? What, if anything, is the point of the hydrangea bush? Was Mari's fight worth it, did it change anything? what the hell is up with the opening pool shot? Are both girls Mari? All in all this is a good flick, it is graphic, but no more than a hundred other movies. Kudos to Craven and Iliadis for doing right by a classic film and to Sara Paxton, whose previous work has been pretty light, but manges some nice nuances here.
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The Seekers (1979)
historical drama at it's best
6 August 2009
"the Seekers" is the third and last mini-series based on John Jakes best-selling Bicentennial books about the fictitious Kent family. Here the focus shifts from Philip Kent, played in the 1st two by Andrew Stevens, but here by Martin Milner to show how much time has passed), to his son Abraham and his stepdaughter Elizabeth. Abraham, played well by Randolph Mantooth of "Emergency" fame, briefly fights the Indians under Gen. "Mad Anthony" Wayne, abetted by William Clark and Meriweather Lewis, but finds the military no life for him. Returning he is conflicted over his feelings for Elizabeth,played by a very young, very slim Delta Burke! and his Father's desire for him to go into the printing business. Eventually with Elizabeth's encouragement, he decides adventure out west is the way to make his own life, much to his Father's consternation.

Abraham and Elizabeth make a noble effort at farming and despite rogues like Pell, who only desires whiskey and Abraham's new wife Elizabeth, they do get help from the Clappers, erstwhile swedes who carry them till their corn crop comes in. Robert Reed, Mr. Brady!, is good as Mr. Clapper. With their young son Jarrod, it seems the Kent's have a shot a a good life. Alas, not so, farming is hard and unforgiving and when tragedy besets them, Abraham returns to Boston with his young son. There is a scene that will rip your heart out here, but I won't spoil it, watch and try not to cry! The fact that many young peop0le went through this in real life makes it all the more poignant.

Abraham can't get a grip and loses custody of Jarod to his good-hearted, but frail brother Gilbert and his somewhat shrewish wife Harriet. Perfectly played by the aptly named Harriet Karr. So the torch is passed to a new generation; Jarrod and his young cousin Amanda. Timothy Murphy and Sarah Rush play the parts and both are good, despite that they never became "name" actors. Rush is particularly persuasive and appealing.

Jarrod fights nobly in the war of 1812, but makes a bad enemy of the debauched Hamilton Stovall (George Hamilton, proving he's more than just a tan). Uncle Gilbert dies and even the outstandingly decent Mr. Pleasant, played by Ross Martin of "Wild Wild West" fame, can't save Kent and Son's from bad sorts. The worst of these is Mr. Piggott, a smarmy Hugh O'Brian, who deceives Harriet into marriage while eying poor Amamda. Just when you think it couldn't be worse, Stovall returns and Jarrod runs, literally, west with Amanda in tow.

The West is still hard. Nearly killed by evil Captain Drew, played by Neville Brand of "Laredo" fame, they are shown gratitude by Rosey Grier and sent on their way, though neither knows where they're going. Amanda and Jarrod, close as can be, run afoul of the devious Rev. Blackthorne, played well by Stuart Whitman, he, along with every other red-blooded man, has noticed Amamda's striking looks. The dialog here is something to hear! Nice writing John! Jarrod is left on his own, guess what happens? and hooks up with fur-trader Elijah Weatherby, an excellent Brian Keith, to seek that which is lost.

The mood, historical fun, music and sheer heartbreak just suck you in. They improve considerably over the book and Jakes himself has a cameo. Beware Stovall! I don't want to give away the ending, except to say your heart will break along with Jarrod's, but it's a terrific ending. The books view of native Americans is changed here and it's for the better too, making all the tragedies a little more palatable.

It thought this the best of the Kent mini-series and enjoy watching it over and over. The relationship between Jarrod and Amanda is particularly moving and if you enjoy this, read the books! Amanda's story is cont well in the 4th novel, "The Furies" All in all this is as good as historical fiction gets, right up there with North and South and the Blue and the Gray.
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the fellowship of the farmer
22 July 2009
OK, so this was Lord of the Rings lite, so what? I thought this was a pretty cool fantasy flick. I'd never seen a Jason Statham movie before and while I wasn't blown away, the guy is good in action scenes. He also appears to channel Bruce Willis and Steven Seagall as far as talking in a whisper to appear tough. Oh, well. I know Uwe Boll is derided as the anti-Christ, but come on, this was good stuff. the photography, music and pace were all good.

The story is about a man named Farmer, who has a wife who loves him nd a little boy who adores him. He lives off the land and just wasn't to be left alone, no such luck! an evil wizard named Gallian, well-played by Ray Liotta, has unleashed the Krug, beasts that fight like men. They raze his village and kill his young son and in-laws!! Whew, shades of Conan or Beastmaster! Daunted but unyielding Farmer sets off with his friends to see if his wife might have survived. Ron Perlman is really good here.

going on at the same time is the Gallian's seduction of Muriella, a much better than usual Leelee Sobieski, who looks gorgeous in this. Her father is the king's mage, the always welcome John Rhys-Davies (from TLOTR!!) and King Konried, Burt Reynolds of all people, is being betrayed by his slimy nephew, played by Matthew Lillard. initially I thought Lillard was miscast here, but apparently the part is supposed to be humorous, so he did a good job too.

I like the part in the forest with Farmer when he runs amok with the elvish women who live there, Kristanna Loken is one of them, what a babe! And I like the rescue of Farmer's wife and the revelation about his lineage. OK, you could see it coming ,but so what?

I like this move, the special effects were good, the action fierce and you could really root for the hero. There is depth here, not everyone makes it without being scarred, beat up or outright killed, which was refreshing. The ending is a little abrupt, but people complained it was too long so... Overall I think this is a good flick, much better than the two Dungeons and Dragons movies. Check it out for yourself, you might be pleasantly surprised.
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Jason meets beauty and the beast?
21 July 2009
OK, I was psyched for this "update" of the classic slasher film of the '80s. Unfortunately this was a colossal disappointment. The beginning is fairly standard stuff, dumb, good-looking people who can't act are stupid enough to be near Camp Crystal Lake (in a state never mentioned) and tell stories about poor Jason Voorhees, the deformed retard who kills. Well guess what? They get hacked! Gee, that was surprising!

I assumed once the "Stars' of our film came on the acting would get better, I was wrong. Okay, so u shouldn't got to a horror film for great acting right? But still, did they all have to suck so badly? The original wasn't duly great either, but it did have a great setup, poor Jason is left to drown by oversexed camp counselors, Jason's Mom blames them and begins killing, later Jason, down at the bottom of Crystal Lake, is possessed by a demon and emerges an unstoppable killer. Great stuff, but even in the first they really didn't know how to make it work. So they cheated, Jason isn't seen till the last frame!

Marcus Nispel, and really this guys thinks lighting is all there is to directing, sadly no, Marcus, we also would like plot and character development and some decent shots!! I'm not kidding, but more on that later. Doesn't do anything new here except bastardize everything that was so good in the original series. I won't divulge plot if you want to see this, but really it's quite awful, there is a strong clue in my summary.

I give this two stars only because of two thing. One there is a nice plot twist halfway through, though it is interesting to see that the girl, again I'm trying not to give it away, it clearly in sunlight while the actors in the exterior shot are running around in darkness! Nice touch Nispel, thinking of those old music videos again?

The other scene is a graphic, but very hot, sex scene between Travis Winkle and the girl who plays Bree, nice. Still this doesn't make up for a crummy re=imagining. Yes, Jason dons the hockey mask but the scene has nothing to it! No setup, no foreboding, no style, there were two different take,s but neither is any good. The actor playing Jason seems to be channeling Ted Nugent! If you must, be warned,d you'll feel used afterwards and probably use the fast-forward a lot.
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wronged princess seeks justice
26 May 2009
Actually this wasn't that bad. Lana Clarkson is lovely as usual and yes there are plenty of topless shots, but what set this b-grade sword and sorcery tale apart is the other actors. Rodger Cudney is a great villain as always and somehow manages to maintain his dignity no matter how awful the situation. Greg Wrangler does a nice job as the conflicted love interest and best of all is the young Cecilia Twerina as the evil little Tamis. Who the heck let a kid on this picture? Who cares? she's great.

The plot is simply, Athalia's father, the king, may be dead and the evil Ankaris wants the throne, but needs the magical scepter to hold it. For some reason, never really explained, Hofrax (Cudney) is helping him. Tamis is Ankaris's wicked daughter. OK, the budget is obviously low, but the film doesn't look that bad and the performers appear to be trying. Note the convenient barrel of water that spills off the back of the wagon so Althalia and a barbarian babe can mud wrestle!! the fights aren't too badly staged and the plotting is pretty decent. Chris Young tries hard to convey a sense of epic with the music.

Athalia refuses to divulge the secret, in case her Father is still alive, and gets tortured by Hofrax and Tamis!! All together for the rack sequence and spider bite-ewww! Orian (Wrangler) rescues Athalia nd together they unite, literally and then the King's warrior's return and it's off to strike for justice! I won't reveal the fate of Ankaris and Tamis, but it is rather moving.

All in all this is a good b-movie with attractive performers and plenty of fun for all.
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S. Darko (2009)
um, blasphemous, but not bad on it's own
19 May 2009
When I saw this on the rental wall I was psyched, A "Donnie Darko" sequel and with Daveigh Chase!? But I'm not stupid, I read the back of the box and noted that Richard Kelly had nothing, I repeat, nothing to do with this. Argh!! At least When George Lucas altered (bastardized) Star Wars, it was his stuff! This is two guys I never heard of, Nathan Atkins and Chris Fisher. Sigh.

First off if you've never seen Donnie Darko, do so, please. It is possibly one of the best American films ever made. Now, than brace yourself, cause from the moment your realize our tow leads are stranded in a desert town, you know we're in trouble. It doesn't get better. The ending is also troublesome. Whereas Donnie saved the world and did so by selflessly sacrificing himself, Sam appears to manipulate the dead in order to, what? Grow up? Save her bitchy friend Corey and return home? It's vague and annoying. Seriously, what's up with the meteorite?

Not that all is bad, the photography and music are good. Ed Westwick, when God created the perfect man he called him "Ed Westwick", is good as the town drunk. There are a few decent shocks, Hey is that really Elizabeth Berkley!? but overall you wish this had been better done, or better yet, not done at all.
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Timeline (2003)
7 May 2009
Frankly, given some of the reviews I saw for this movie, I wasn't expecting much. This is actually a decent flick. No it doesn't do justice to the book and not all the actors are great, but there's a great sense of desperation throughout the film. The pacing is breakneck and the middle ages are depicted as brutal and ugly as they really were, unlike the romanticized accounts we usually get, i.e. "Dragonheart", "First Knight".

Paul Walker, and if's there's a duller actor on earth let me know, plays Chris, son of a noted Professor who's gone missing in time. Specifically 14th century France. Why France? They really never explain it to us, but it looks convincing. He's accompanied by a tough history freak, the terrific Gerard Butler. his would-be girlfriend Kate, Fracois, their terrified interpreter and a marine and his two buddies. Beware the marine.

The time-travel is plausibly explained here and the effect, if a bit of a letdown, are adequate. Once our heroes hit Castlegaurd France, 1357, things start to fly. Terrific fights, good swordplay and frequent flashback to the boneheaded scientists back home. Did I mention our heroes have only so much time to rescue the professor, an underused Billy Connelly, and get back home?

The actions scenes here are really good, definitely the highlight of th film. there isn't much time for character development. Though there is a nice romance between Butler and Lady Claire. Their scenes are the best and the only one with any sort of humor. The rest of the film is played very seriously!

Still I liked Timeline, is moves fast the baddies get their due, doesn't David Thewlis ever play a nice guy? And the heroes are actually heroic!! Cool flick, if they did leave some loose ends.
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fairly good, but not great.
9 October 2008
"Tristan + Isolde" is one of those almost movies. It has a good story, competent actors and a good director. So what failed? First let me say what I liked about this. James Franco: it takes time to warm to his barely there acting style, but he is the best thing here. Rufus Sewell: this guys always good, why isn't he a major star? Location: the Czech Republic never looked better, subbing for England and Ireland is gorgeous.

Now for the bad: Pacing, this movie could have been trimmed by twenty minutes! It's far too slow, the entire prologue should have been dropped. Sophia Myles: she did okay accent wise, but she can't act, at least she's pretty, which is more than one can say for Shannon Sossamyn in "Knight's Tale". And the let's be real award: Tristan and Isolde sleep together in Ireland, then she's married to King Marke, this makes him the first and only king in English history not to question his bride's virginity! Stupid mistake, apparently Kevin Reynolds.

Sum that up and you have a decent movie, the supporting players are good, even David O'Hara, and give it up with the "Patrick" David, we know who you are: "Bragveheart", "Jesus", manages not to go over the top for once. The dialog is good and Rufus Sewell has a very good scene opposite Franco. In any tragic romance the end is very important. I think this film was badly marketed, it really had nothing like the Romeo and Juliet story in it, and they should have built up the triangle more. At the end, a truly beautifully filmed scene, Isolde doesn't die! Huh? Who decided to rip off the end of "spartacus"? Oh, that's right: Dean Georgaris, who wrote this way back. Apparently Ridley Scott had this on his mind for decades. Sorry to say this wasn't up to "Gladiator". Oh and Bragnae's character? One of the more annoying I've seen ever and why didn't they use her to bookend the story? That might have worked.

Tristan and Isolde isn't bad, it just could have been better, in some ways it was better than "King Arthur" with Clive Owen, but it leaves you depressed, as Sophia Myles admitted in an interview. That's not right, it should leave you with longing and regret, but not down. Too grim and too long, though Franco tries hard. I give this a b- for his effort.
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Aquamarine (2006)
I love, love, love this movie!
3 September 2008
"Aquamarine" is a beautiful, magical family film. It concerns two friends, Hailey and Claire, Hails is moving to Australia of all places! They say a prayer the night of a terrible storm at sea and a mermaid is washed into their pool! Even better the mermaid can grant a wish! All Aqua needs is to prove love exists to her dad and she'll grant the girls a wish!

Emma Roberts sweetly plays Claire and Jojo is Hailey. Sara Paxton is the title mermaid and she's terrific! Remember what a snot she played in "Sleepover"? She does a totally different (duh!) character here and is totally convincing. I loved the feel of magic in this movie! And it wasn't predictable or sappy and the girls were wonderful.

See all summer long Hails and Claire have had a crush on hunky lifeguard Ray, well-played by Jake McDorman, but Aqua immediately decides Ray is the boy for her! Still Claire Hailey help the lovelorn mermaid try to make Ray for for her in three days, thats all she's got and then it's back to the sea! The situations in this movie were beautiful and surprising. Ray, for a change is a really nice guy and not a jerk like most teen movies, which always made it hard to root for the girl to get such a bozo. Ray is sweet and sensitive. Aqua is so endearing as she tries to adjust to life on land! Sara was so cute here!

The girls are hampered by a snot named Cecilia. Favourite line? "Aquamarine, pretty name-for a crayon!" "Well, I was named after a rare and precious gem, whereas Cecilia means dim-sighted" Cool. The music was also great here, very sweet and the songs rocked! Cecilia tries a real nasty trick and you'll never guess who saves the day! The supporting players here, OK the adults, were really good. I loved, and I mean loved, the end of this movie! It was so touching and so heart-breaking and then it all comes together in a exciting way. I'm pretty sure they used cgi, but who cares? It was wonderful!

"Awuamarine" Is the best family movie I've seen since "Gold-diggers" Which I also strongly recommend. I can't believe nobody told me how good this was! I can't wait to watch it again! I also have "Bridge to Terabithia" And this was much better. You want depth? Pay attention to Claire's story, wonderfully handled. I loved this film, think I said that enough? Anyhow give this delightful tale or is that tail? A chance, you'll love it too.
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Hercules (1983)
a mythic barrel of fun!
31 July 2008
Hercules directed and written by Luigi Cozzi stars the great Lou Ferrigno as the title character and takes great liberties with his story. It's aimed squarely at kids, with its colorful characters and even more colorful special effects. What i liked about it was the steady pacing, the absolutely weird musical cues and Lou's solid, if perhaps too straight performance.

Forget all you know about Herc, this film stands on its own. Some of the old tale is here, baby Herc does crush snakes sent by his stepmother Hera and he does grow up peacefully not knowing why he's so strong. An early battle with a giant bear is well-shot. Lou certainly looks the part, unlike some other actors who tried and he isn't that bad with the dialog, which is very ripe.

In this version Herc's great love is Casseopeia, played by the very easy to look at Ingrid Andersson. I so wanted to get that veil off her face! Herc must win her hand by competing in a series of bizarre rites of Strong. Including the classic cleaning of the stables. Which is a great sequence using miniatures and super-imposition. Even the rocks look heavy and real for a change! Still Zeus, and at least one actor, Claudio Casselinni, was understated, wants the sides of good and evil to be balanced, so Herc and Cass are separated.

Not to fear, Herc soon hooks up with sorceress Circe, played by another beauty in a barely there outfit. She aid him in his celestial quest to conquer the evil of Thera and save Cass from being a virgin(!) sacrifice!

The set for Thera, the green isle of Atlantis actually, is one of the best I've seen outside of Star Wars: Episode IV, its truly a great work of lighting and miniature sets, complete with a flame-wielding colossus. Herc's great strength is no match for the witch Adriana (called Ariana in my version,) played by the buxom Sybil Danning, but his great heart is, he's loyal to Cass. This all leads to a duel with the evil King Minos, who wants science to rule the world at the expense of all emotion. Their duel with Herc wielding the sword of Zeus and Minos the fire sword of Atlantis is great. The finale is spectacular and I love Herc's ending line to the rescued Cass. and check her final outfit, wow! "How do I know you're really Casseopeia? Or are you Adriana is another form or Circe reborn?" She responds "I am all and none of them. I am the one who loves you!"

Cool movie, what I didn't like was the cheesy robots, they simply looked bad! Also why was Daedelus, the God who helps Minos, played by a woman? Some elements of the plot were confusing. Still this a great family adventure, the hero is great the girls are lovely and there is nothing objectionable save some light violence. If you're looking for a fun movie that doesn't require too much brain power, this is it!
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perfect for the younger set
25 July 2008
"Bridge to Terabithia" based on Katherine Paterson's book, but updated for today's tweens, is a big-budget Walden Media, Disney picture that really please kids 8 and up. It's the story of Jess Aarons, a talented kid, he can draw, he can run like the wind, but he's bullied at school and his parents just don't get it. Jesse's life is changed forever when Leslie Burke enters his life. Leslie, played superbly by AnnaSophia Robb, is spunky, friendly and full of imagination. She leads him to Terabithia, a land of fantasy you swing across an "enchanted" rope to get there. Jesse is a bit apprehensive, but who could resit Leslie?

The story is good, if it does move in fits and starts, apparently all daydreams end by dinner time here. The kids are good and well drawn and Zooey Deschanel is outstanding as the music teacher. This girl has the most amazing eyes I've ever seen! This Disney version was quite different from the Wonderworks special I remember, which had a lot more of Jesse's spiteful Mom in it. Still it works and Jesse's little Sister is a real doll.

So why didn't this enchant me? Perhaps because we never really see that much of Terabithia, glimpses mostly and are we supposed to think you know who was the "Dark Master"? There is a plot twist late that may upset some little viewers, but its very well handled and important to the story. Still I didn't fall for this the way I didn't fall for Walden's overrated and overheated "Chronicles of Narnia-the lion, the witch and the wardrobe" It's just too simplistic. If it wasn't for AnnaSohpia Robb's performance I'd feel I wasted my time. Even "Flicka", with Alison Lohman, flawed as that was, was better in some ways.

All that said this is still quite good and should really please families. The magic just wasn't quite there for me, but it was a good movie to watch, weather you want to revisit time and again is up to you.
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Roller Boogie (1979)
the "godfather" of roller boogie movies
3 July 2008
"roller Boogie" is an absolute time capsule. It features Linda Blair at her ultimate cutest and a full bevy of roller skating teens. Undoubtedly this is the best roller boogie movie ever made! Which isn't saying much, but still its enjoyable fluff from start to finish, and considering its run time of over two hours, it never gets dull.

Terry barkley is a talented musician who'd rather skate at the local hot spot than get into Julliard! Wow, there s plot to root for. Her father, played by Roger Perry of "Facts of Life" fame, is not thrilled. Doesn't matter, Terry's heart is in her skates. But watch out, there are bad guys, rotten land-developers who want the roller rink for themselves! And they'll do anything to get it! Can Terry and Bobby save the day and win the big roller contest? DAre we hope? OK, you won't be on pins and needles, the plot in this flick is telegraphed so a two year old could get it.

Like I said, though, Roller Boogie is a time piece. If you want to see life in southern California in the late 70's this is it. I actually felt sorry for some of the guys and gals cause those outfits were really skin-tight! Linda looks great though. Jimmy Bray doesn't make an impression and that does hurt the film, but just enjoy the silly music, the stunts, some of which are righteous and the cheesy plot and your'e bound to have a good time. Note the extreme sports preview when Terry and Bobby are on the run and cross a pipeline! The party scene is also classic and was ripped off a dozen times after this.

Roller boogie has it all, pathos, passion, pepperoni! Hey, you can't take this too seriously, just enjoy and let your'e brain freeze.
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meet the funny!
17 June 2008
I like my comedies stupid, "Meet the Spartans" more than delivers. It makes no bones about being a parody of all and everything the filmmakers could think of. Mostly it pokes juvenile fun at the excellent but highly stylized "300". Here Leonidas, played to the hilt by Sean McGuire, leads a rag-tag bunch of 13, thats right 13!, Spartans against insurmountable Persians.

But who cares? It's the sight gags and corny humor we all tuned in for! McGuire is added by Kevin Sorbo of Hercules fame as his captain. Sorbo is so good here, why doesn't this guy get more good roles? Carmen Electra, naturally, is on hand to lend some sex appeal. Nicole PAker of MAd TV plays no less than five roles and if you don't laugh and her dead-on Paula Abdul imitation there's something wrong with you.

I laughed out loud at most of this blissfully short spoof, but my favorite sequence was the rank session with the hi-hop Persians. Funny! Lines like, "Your Momma is such a sloppy drunk, I thought she was David Hasslehoff!" are just righteously funny. Deidrich Bader is a hoot as Traitorus, Get it? and the rather obvious jokes about the Spartans latent homosexuality are so dead-on that you have to laugh, love the Budweiser parody!!

Meet the Spartans ain't Shakespeare folks, its not supposed to be. Sure it could have been better, but its right up there with Epic Movie and Not Antoher Teen Movie as very funny. Plus guys there is one outrageous shot of Queen Margo (Carmen) that you have to see to believe! I mean my jaw hit to floor!

This is just a funny spoof start to finish and stay tuned through the credits, some of the funniest stuff is there! Oh, if you were worried they'd change the end to make Leonidas and his compatriots victorious have no fear! They're too stupid to win!
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Lord of the Rings-lite
26 May 2008
I grew up on TSR and Dungeons and Dragons. I was shocked to see they'd done an animated take on the Dragonlance tales. Considering I loved them so much, the DVD was a no-brainer. Produced by Wizards of the Coast and starring high-profile voice talent like Kiefer Sutherland, Lucy Lawless and Michelle Trachtenberg, I was psyched.

First off I like this, a lot, I watched it twice in one day. OK, there are problems, the animation is Saturday morning style, still if you grew up on that its not so bad, the character design is good, everyone looks right. The CGI isn't stellar though and the two styles don't mesh well at all. The Draconians look like card-board cutouts battling our heroes. The film is jerky and certain aspects of the story have been altered or dropped to fit a rather short format.

That said its pretty cool. Seeing it visually i realized how much was lifted from TLOTR, the fellowship of different races isn't half so interesting now and the dragons and such seem familiar. Still Raistlin, voiced by Sutherland, is as unique as it gets and Sutherland does a great job. He was my favorite character and he stands out in the film.

Tanis and Goldmoon (Lawless) aren't short-shifted either and whoever drew Tika Whelan should get some sort of award, perfect! Even with fits and starts I liked some of the touches here. This is such a great story its really hard to screw up. I've seen the venomous comments on this site and just wondering what you were expecting? Its still the story we loved from the books and as direct-to video goes, its darn good.

This was rated pg-13, which is mystifying. The violence is pretty standard cartoon stuff and a lot less ugly and damaging than the six o'clock news. A "PG" seems more in-line with what I saw. There is a bit of an open ending here and I sure hope there will be sequels. Either that of they should try a live-action adaption. This story deserves it.
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Incubus (2006)
dreaming can be hazardous to your health
22 May 2008
"Incubus" starring the always lovely Tara Reid, is a direct to internet, direct to DVD horror flick. In other words don't expect much. Six incredibly stupid friends are lost in the woods, duh! And seek shelter in an apparently abandoned compound. The only smart one, pay attention to her folks!, decides to risk the outdoors. Reid, playing Jay, her brother, a very irritating actor I don't know, and 3 others go inside. Ala, the descent to hell.

Inside is a man called the Sleeper, you dream, he takes your body, and kills. The director creates some good atmosphere and Tara does manage some good moments of "oh my God?" Basically this was a bad script. The story makes less and less sense as it goes. There are some good scares and some heavy gore, but when they finally go off on the killer the film collapses.

Supposedly the Sleeper has been held in stasis for five years, still once loose he jumps around like super-fly and takes people out~! Hello, five years? Wouldn't your muscles atrophy a bit? The end comes down to Tara and the killer as you must have known. This gets confusing. In a film with a plot like "Nightmare on Elm Street" I expected some good fantasy/dream sequences. There is only one, right near the end and its good, but it leaves you wanting much more. There is a nice final twist, which I won't give away, but its not quite enough to make up for about an hour of sludge.

"Incubus"-the title is explained fairly well- isn't the most horrible thing I've seen, but it could have been a whole lot better. There isn't enough back story given to make us care and there isn't enough of Tara shown if your wondering. This is for die-hard horror fans only and even then I hope it just inspires you to make a good flick of your own.
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Nancy Drew (2007)
get a clue, this was cool!
22 April 2008
It was with great trepidation that I bought this movie on DVD. After all, I grew up reading Nancy, yeah I'm a guy, and except for the '30's movies with Bonita Granville, all film or TV adaptations of our Nancy sucked. But Emma Roberst had me at her first sneeze! She is just great as Nancy. Sure she's too young and her hair is all wrong, but c'mon people give it a chance!

Nancy and her lawyer dad go to La and our heroine soon becomes involved in the mystery of dead Hollywood star Dehlia Draycott, alluringly played by Laura Harring. The mystery is really good here and not so complex that you can't follow it. Nancy picks up a sidekick, young Corky, who I feared would be an annoying brat, he's not, he's pretty funny. Max Thieriot is Ned and he's good, by the way Max, you rock, GnR rule!! Naturally there are bombs, narrow escapes and lots of sleuthing.

I never particularly thought of Nancy Drew as a anal-retentive prude, but it works in this movie with its fish-out-of-water elements. I loved the party sequence, very cute! Do Nancy and her friends help Dehlia's secret get out? Do Ned and Nancy finally kiss? Does Corky have any other clothes? Tune in find out and get a clue! Nancy Drew is fun. Note here guys, why the "PG" this was a perfect movie for kids.
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fast and furious!
22 April 2008
First off let me say this isn't really my type of movie, seriously. Like "Domino"< "Pulp Fiction" and the like, I hate films where human life is so cheap! That said this is a really cool flick. Renny Harlin knows action. Geena Davis plays Samantha Caine, a seemingly normal teacher with a young daughter and erstwhile boyfriend, but she has amnesia. Soon it becomes clear she was a trained assassin! Yikes! Sam Jackson, so great he steals this movie, is the detective who helps her out.

There on the run and dangerous. The stunts are awesome, granted people can't really outrun fire, but who cares? Later Sam, now Charly Baltimore, finds her target, played icily by David Morse. Captured he tortures her on a water wheel! Great sequence! Geena looks great in her underwear and the pacing is real!I held my breath along with Charly in these shots and its awesome.

Later Charly changes her look and attempts to seduce Sam Jackson, but he knows she's just scared because she really cares about her little girl. They go up against the bad guys in one of the most awesome bridge scenes ever! Note Sam Jackson's line, "Thats right, you can't kill me Mother-" Cool.

There is an ugly plot twist near the end, but its well handled and note this is a hard "R" rating, but still a good action flick.
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enchanting locales
22 April 2008
The "moon-spinners" from '64, is latter-day Disney fare, so there's a surprising amount of bite to the story, for a Hayley Mills film. Hayley, who never looked more lovely, plays young Nikki Ferris, on vacation with her Aunt on Crete. The locations are absolutely gorgeous! Hayley is soon mixed up with compatriot Mark Camford and they become embroiled in jewel theft and attempted murder.

The film does drag a bit at times, but you can always look at Mayley, a windmill stunt is fun and Eli Wallach has a juicy part as the villainous Stratos. Unfortunately the great Irene Papas is wasted as his sister, who clearly doesn't approve. Some characters introduced very late in the story don't quite make sense, still its an exciting mystery and one does want to see how it turns out.

The "Moon-Spinners" is a good family film. It does contain some violence and a bit of bloodshed, so I guess this would be "PG", but its really just fine for ten and up. Recommended for fans of Disney live-action and Hayley Mills.
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Strangeland (1998)
body modification!!
22 April 2008
Dee Snider's "Strangeland" had a long, strange trip. It really started with Twisted Sister songs, then Dee tried writing about a psycho clown, but "IT" had that idea, so Dee set about writing a horror film like "Seven". Hey, Dee! I liked this better than "Seven.

"Strangeland" is a really sick film. The protagonist, played by Dee himself, is a sicko named Carleton Hendricks aka Captain Howdy, a deviant with tattoos and piercings galore, he stalks young girls online and does really depraved stuff to them. Poor Geniveve Gage is the 1st victim. Note the actress! It ER"'s Linda Cardellini! What follows is really nasty, and scary, note the cauterization! But the film pulls a shocker early!

Later on, see Dee in Mr. Rogers mode! Perhaps the most frightening shot in the movie! Kevin Gage plays Gage and yeah he sucks. Actually other than Robert Englund, delightfully playing a righteous redneck, the acting stinks. And the director's idea of suspense is cutting to black every three minutes! Still the heavy metal soundtrack, featuring, Marylin Manson, Pantera, Coal Chamber, Megadeth, Twisted Sister and Snot is truly awesome. Buy it.

"Strangeland" offers some great stuff and certainly doesn't stint on the horror, though its not anywhere near as bad as I was led to believe. For you DVD fans, Dee's commentary is every bit as disturbing as the movie! A really good horror flick with some very interesting twits and turns. I really have to agree with Robert Englund, the truly frightening thing about this flick isn't the death, its the suffering.. Cool!
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weird early version of Baum's classic
5 March 2008
The 1925 silent "Wizard of Oz' Is, in many ways, a vanity project for Larry Semon, his brand of mugging to the camera comedy is a bit hard to take now, that said this is still pretty interesting and good for a silent.

Rather different from the book and later MGM Movie, this version, the print I saw is the restored 100 minute print with added narration by Jaqueline Lovell, bookends the story with a grandfather reading Baum's book to his granddaughter. The early parts of Dorothy, played by the lovely Dorothy Dwan, are funny and strange. There is an odd air of sensuality throughout the film, odd since its intended for Children, I presume? SEmon does a very touching and funny bit with a lollipop, he wants to give it to Dorothy, but can't summon up his courage, Finally it end up eaten by a duck!

Oliver Hardy plays another farmhand and he's very good, you can see why he became a star, his facial expressions and manners are just much better on screen than the other players, who are either too stiff or too hammy. The twister is here along with surprisingly good lightning effects. The land of OZ is basically a big soundstage, but it moves pretty well for a silent.

Some things are bad though, the character of Snowball is listed as being played by G. Howe Black, a seemingly racist play on words. If its any consolation the actor is good and the character ends up the Lion and something of a hero, he rescues the scarecrow, Semon, in a bi-plane, near the end of the pic.

For a silent this isn't bad, thought its terribly dated as one might expect. Worth a look for Oz devotees.
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