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All reviews - Movies (15) - TV Shows (1)

So close, and yet so far

Posted : 9 years, 5 months ago on 15 January 2013 03:11 (A review of Red Lights)

Oh, they were sooo close. They almost had a great movie on their hands. But then they just up and ruined it.

Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy star as paranormal investigators, who try to look at these supernatural events from a logical and scientific eye. I’ll admit the first 50 minutes of this movie are intriguing, as we get to know these characters, what they do, what they believe and fully flesh them out. They’re all fully likable characters and what they do is interesting.

Then the second act pops around the corner. Suddenly, the film gives up trying to be smart or intriguing and instead just decides to throw some random creepy imagery at the screen with no connection whatsoever. Oh, and an interesting main character is just killed off, for basically no reason. It didn’t help move the movie along, it was just there to wring out an emotion from the audience, but instead it comes across as manipulative and rushed. Oh and it turns out it was there to be used only as a red herring. That left a pretty bitter taste in my mouth.

This culminates in one of the most preposterous twist endings ever put on film. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and it only barely explains some of the things that are going on with the film, and it completely goes against what the film was building towards. I still don’t get it, even now as I’m writing it.

I have never seen a film collapse so quickly and so diligently under it’s own weight. The film was doing fine before, what was wrong with continuing with what the first half was doing? It almost as if someone intelligent wrote the first half of the script, and then suddenly that writer quit for whatever reason, and they hired someone else to finish it, and he decided to make it more like a clichéd horror flick from there on out. If they wanted to expose Simon, that would be fine, but the way they did it is so laughably inept that any suspense and brains is nowhere to be found.

This is what I would like to call “How to Derail a Movie 101.” It frustrates me when a film is so close to being great, and yet so far at the same time. So what if it’s pretty well directed, it’s fairly well acted and has an intriguing premise and first half? The second half just completely ruins the film for me. Make your own judgement.

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Planes, Trains & Automobiles review

Posted : 9 years, 7 months ago on 22 November 2012 05:27 (A review of Planes, Trains & Automobiles)

This is often said that this is the quintessential Thanksgiving movie. That may be true, though that's probably because there's a limited number of Thanksgiving movies. But is this a great film to think about when you think about Thanksgiving? My answer is yes.

For his part, Steve Martin gives a great comedic performance as a man who is willing to do anything, and I mean anything, to get back to his family for Thanksgiving. His character basically goes through a cold hell in order to get back home. This character basically exists to have every possible misery enforced on him, so that when he gets home he looks back and says, "All of that trouble was worth it to get home." And that makes the ending all the more touching.

John Candy on the other hand gives a performance that leans both towards the big lovable oaf who doesn't know how to take a hint, and a kind broken soul who is always trying to look on the bright side of life. His character basically represents the people that despite personal problems have things to be thankful for.

Together these two make a brilliant comedy duo. John Candy and Steve Martin both bounce off of each other perfectly, and even though their total opposites. Then you have both of them learning a lesson, John Candy teaching Steve Martin to loosen up a little bit, and Steve Martin teaching John Candy about appreciating life and how even in the worst of circumstances, there's always something to be thankful for. I think this is what makes the film work, and is why it's the film everyone thinks about when they think of Thanksgiving. It's a message that is relevant not only on Thanksgiving, but a message that rings true all year round.

Do I have any problems with the film? Yes, but they're only nitpicky things that in my opinion aren't even worth bringing up. Their just enough to bring it down to a 9, but this doesn't change the fact that this is an absolutely hilarious and heartwarming motion picture that can be watched not just on Thanksgiving, but all year round. This film will one day be a classic, if it isn't all ready. If you haven't seen it yet, you owe yourself a favor to find it and watch it. Enjoy, and you're welcome.

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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb review

Posted : 10 years ago on 12 June 2012 10:48 (A review of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)

When I first saw this film 2 years ago, I saw it, I thought about it for a second, and I thought it was good, but I didn't understand why it was so universally loved. Really high on IMDB's Top 250 list, has a near perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, put high on a few of AFI's lists, and at the top of many people's and critic's all time favorite films. So I got to thinking, why was it so well loved?

So, I saw it cheap on Amazon, so I bought it and I gave it a rewatch. Now, having rewatched it, I now understand why this film is so great. First, you can't really talk about the film without talking about the time period this film was released. It was made at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War. So the idea of making a dark comedy about nuclear devastation at the height of all that was very bold. So I will give the film credit there.

This film is a very funny and interesting look at war, holocaustic catastrophe, and humanity. Even on the verge at the end of the world, humans are still selfish, racist, and untrusting. I also think it's funny how they have all of these pre-cautions in hopes of preventing nuclear war, and yet it's those pre-cautions that actually cause most of the problems in this films.

So what you have is a very bizarre dark comedy that has everything that could conceivably go wrong, go wrong all the while the people witnessing the whole thing don't change, waste time, and only make the problem worse rather than fixing it.

Speaking of the people, almost every actor in this film is great. Overacting, ham acting, etc. Expect that kind of acting and it's all fantastic. I also had no idea that Peter Sellars was playing the 3 parts at first. I had to look it up to find out. Multi-acting at it's finest.

All of these combine together with hilarious scenes, great memorable characters, and a plot that is brilliant. I personally think that it's a film you have to stop and think about in order to understand it. Once you realize it and watch it maybe twice, you can see why it's so beloved. For my money, it's really great. Just took me a while to see why.

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The Lorax review

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 28 March 2012 03:10 (A review of The Lorax)

I think when this movie was first announced there was uproar of people who didn't want the beloved Dr. Seuss classic soiled by a Hollywood watered down version. Now, I will say that the book is better, but there are some things about it that work.

Now arguably, the film does go for a more light-hearted tone than the book which was very heavy handed and dark, as it should be since it is supposed to be a cautionary tale about how mankind shouldn't do nothing, and if they do, the problem isn't going to go away it's only going to get worse. Because of that, the novel ends on a feeling of caution but light hope. The movie, on the other hand, actually semi-resolves the issue and ends on a feeling of strong hopefulness and satisfaction. Which ending works better? Well, I personally think the book has a better ending, but for my money, the movie handles the happy ending well, not showing too much, and still leaving the viewers with a feeling of responsibility.

But with that said, I must bring up the film's fatal flaw, and the main reason why this film isn't as good as it could've been. The film is just too preachy. We get it, trees are awesome. Also, I have to raise some complaint that the film seems to have Anti-Capitalist leanings, stating that business is bad. I think the film sadly doesn't find a perfect balance between corrupt capitalism and the appreciation of nature. There is very little subtlety in this film. Okay, the book wasn't exactly subtle either, but it was more subtle than this.

I will say that the film does at least seem to be self-aware that it is preachy and tries to have fun with it. The scene where the first tree is chopped, all the creatures put rocks around the stump like it's a grave. I'm not sure if it was done seriously or not, but I will say that I laughed.

The film is actually quite funny and I laughed a lot during the film. Maybe that's not what the story quite needs, but heck, it's a lighthearted family comedy, and I think its funny enough.

I will also say that the computer animation is just stellar. It looks jaw-droppingly unbelievable, and even without the 3-D it feels like you're transported into another world. The trees look so soft you can practically feel them. It creates a great atmosphere and it's phenomenal.

The one thing that I think the film actually improved from the book is the portrayal of the Once-ler. In the book, he is faceless, and represents stubborn businessmen who refuse to compromise in order for the environment to be cleaner. So it makes sense that he is faceless. In the film, however, the Once-ler is a young naive entrepreneur who is a nice guy with good intentions, but when he becomes successful, his success goes to his head, and the people he surrounds himself with try to get him to renegade on his promises and his circumstances force him to make a difficult decision. It makes the character more tragic and not only strengthens the theme of human's responsibility for ecological preservation, but also offers a cautionary tale about the downside and dangers of capitalism, and the tragedy of a man who realizes his mistakes too late. It's a fascinating character and is an improvement over the book's portrayal (the books isn't bad, I just think the movies way of showing the character is more interesting).

It's bright, it's colorful, it's funny, it's a decent, nice trip. Some people will strongly object to the somewhat anti-corporate message (funny seeing how many tie-ins I saw for The Lorax), and the complete lack of subtlety (seriously, some subtlety would've been nice, guys), but I think the film is charming and funny enough, and the film is saying that we need to take care of the environment, not necessarily a bad thing. But, man this film had potential to be fantastic, especially with such a great character in the form of The Once-ler.

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The Beaver review

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 13 March 2012 07:09 (A review of The Beaver)

The Beaver is a very, very bizarre film. Even the plot seems strange. When I first heard it, I thought it was ludicrous. But I have known that ludicrous plots have been made into great films, and I will say that while not fantastic, it's pretty well done. The acting is pretty subpar and Mel Gibson's character is a nice enough guy that you want to root for him at the end. I also found the film a fascinating look into a depressed man's psyche. The beaver could represent an alter ego of the Mel Gibson character, or an alternate personality, which raises some very interesting questions about what brough him to that point. Also, I love the relationships everybody has. It feels realistic and doesn't feel like Hollywood cliche relationships. The plot is too silly to take seriously at times, and every once in a while, I found myself tilting my head and thinking to myself, "This is kinda silly." But if you think you may be willing to overlook the silliness of the plot, I think there's a lot of stuff in here worth liking. If you don't think you'll able to overlook it, then don't even bother watching it, because chances are you probably won't like it.

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Breaking the Press review

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 24 February 2012 06:05 (A review of Breaking the Press)

I think the main problem this movie had was that it didn't parallel The Prodigal Son very well. I also was unimpressed by the acting, and the film also was filled with padding to make the film longer than it needed to be. This film was also unbelievably preachy. I can stand preachiness in films, after all I love the Sherwood Pictures films, but this was just too much. I would like to see more subtelty when it comes to religion in modern films (older religious films were made so anyone including atheists could enjoy them). This film isn't a total loss though. Even though I didn't think the plot paralleled the Prodigal Son enough, I did think the plot was great. However the fact that the ending more closely parallels the movie, it makes the film more predictable than it already was. Okay, maybe I'm being too hard on this film. After all it's heart is in the right place, and it is trying to bring a good message to Christians. However, even though I'm a Christian, I feel I need to critique this movie as if it were any other film and not give this film any special attention. So because of this, I can only recomend this film if you are a Christian, and even then you may or may not like it. And even then I can't think of a reason why you would watch it more than once.

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Jingle All the Way review

Posted : 10 years, 5 months ago on 12 January 2012 07:42 (A review of Jingle All the Way)

Let me stop for a minute and tell you how a Christmas film is made. Some Hollywood executives in July decide, "Hey, you know what, we should make a Christmas movie in order to make a few million dollars. Have someone come up with a script with the most mean spirited characters, unfunny jokes and have them all come together at the end so the true meaning of Christmas can come through them and have the script written in a week so we can start filming. Then let's get an A-list actor who is desperately looking for a job so that it can look like our movie is going to be awesome and cool even though underneath the layer it's really a lame film. Then we'll market it as a lighthearted family Christmas film that any child would want to see and make their parents pester them into seeing it, and they have to because it's a Christmas movie. And if it's bad, they'll excuse it because it's a Christmas movie. Sound like a good idea?" That has probably been on the mind of execs during a lot of Christmas movies that are made. They usually just throw it at you, hope you like it, and it's a Christmas film so it'll make money whether or not it's any good.

I will start by briefly explaining what's good about this film. Phil Hartman can be fun as the evil neighbor sometimes. Some of the jokes actually aren't that bad, and the film does have a good message tacked on at the end.

Now, what's bad about the film? Arnold Schwartzenegger is badly miscast in this film as the main protagonist. Sinbad is really grating. The kid is obnoxious. The film's plot is ludicrous. The acting is awful. Logic flies completely out the window with ninjas mall Santa's attacking Arnold, and having a living working jet pack. The film promotes conformity in every meaning of the word without anything to balance it out. The film takes completely idiotic twists and turns without any bit of wit, charm of logic. It's mean-spirited, unfunny, calamity of a Christmas family comedy that deserves almost every bit of criticism it receives.

To be fair, I can see why some people consider it a guilty pleasure, in fact when I was a kid, I did somewhat enjoy this movie. But now having rewatched it, now that I'm older, the film is terrible on nearly every account. Forget coal, this is what they should put in stockings if children are bad. Be very afraid of this film.

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The Biggest Loser review

Posted : 10 years, 5 months ago on 12 January 2012 07:16 (A review of The Biggest Loser)

The Biggest Loser; in some ways a really great show, in other ways a mess. If you don't know the plot, I will quickly summarize. A group of overweight contestents get together and try to lose as much weight as possible in order to win a quarter of a million dollars. So, it's basically weight loss meets Survivor.

You might think that the show is tasteless, but I rather like it, and the contestants are for the most part great people, who you want to see win, and the way the trainers instill them with self-confidence as the weeks go on is quite inspiring. It promotes diet and exercise, standing up for yourself and many other important lessons.

But this is a reality show, which does sometimes beg the question, "How much is real, and how much is acted out?" I would assume most of this is real, but with a reality show, you never truly know.

Also, I would like to point out another major problem with the show. It's way too long. The show, with commercials is 2 hours. The show could be an hour long or even an hour and a half would be better. The show is filled with lots of obvious padding sometimes, in order to stretch the episode to 2 hours long, including some painfully obvious product placement, that is best left in commericials, or even in an ad break.

Also the executive meddling can get tiresome sometimes, and it really does make you wonder if some of the producers actually care if the people get helathier or are just concerned about getting more views. The show can feel manipulative like that.

But, what saves this show is the sincerity of everyone on screen. Not the contestants, but Allison Sweeney, the trainers and the doctors. You can sense that they really care about these contestants and want to see them not only live, but thrive. Also, seeing people transform before our eyes is also extremely inspiring and incredibly heartwarming. Is it a perfect show? No. Does it fall into some of the traps that other reality shows fall into. Absolutely. However, it certainly is better than some of the competition and is actually about becoming a better person, not just winning a singing competition. Sometimes overlong, but an overall sweet and inspiring reality show.

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Vertigo review

Posted : 10 years, 5 months ago on 12 January 2012 05:51 (A review of Vertigo)

Vertigo is, in my opinion, one of those films that every single scene is important. If anything was added, or taken away, the film would cease being perfect. This film has everything great about cinema, great acting, an intriguing mystery, a beautiful and believable romance, and interesting morally ambiguous characters.

You could say this is a film about a cop whose afraid of heights, but just saying that is basically saying that Rear Window was about a guy who broke his leg. This is more than just a story abouut that. It's a psychological thriller about a man who is desperately seeking for clarification, and finds it in the form of romance.

It has been said that this was Hitchcock's most personal film, and it really shows. This film outlines Hitchcock's usage of Blonde women in his films and how he liked to use them, in the form of Jimmy Stewart's character. I also will give Hitchcock credit for creating one of the most iconic shots in film history, that has been called the Vertigo zoom. That shot creates a sense of vertigo and acrophobia for the viewer and makes them feel just as uncomfortable as Jimmy Stewart's character.

The film's pacing is also something that's perfect. As the film progresses, the pace gets faster and faster, almost like a downward spiral, as the tragic event unfold. At first as I was watching it, I thought it was slow, and didn't think the film was going to be as good as Hitchcock's other work. But at the very end of the film, I realized just how awestruckingly amazing it is.

Although I would argue the film is absolutely perfect with no faults, there are two things that make me tilt my head at. For example, there is a scene where a lady claims to not have seen another lady, and once the mystery is revealed, it doesn't make sense for that to be the case. Also, how the bad guy escapes from the scene of the murder is a little too implausible for it to be realistic. Will I look over these 2 small flaws in order to enjoy the rest of the film? Oh yeah. *mild Spoiler Alert* However, I have heard some fan theories that almost all, or even some of the movie is just a Jimmy Stewart hallucination, so that could explain the plot holes away. Maybe that was the point of those two mild logic sliding, or maybe it wasn't, but I'll let you come to your own conclusions. *end Spoiler Alert*

While you're first watching it, you might think this is an incredibly weird film that doesn't appear to have any logic in it, and is extremely dull. But if you stick with it, I swear that it will pick up and the ending clarifies a lot that was confusing me at first. This is not only one of best mysteries ever, but it is the best. No matter how you look at it, Vertigo is a masterpiece, plain and simple.

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Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown review

Posted : 10 years, 5 months ago on 8 January 2012 09:50 (A review of Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown)

This was an old nostalgic movie that I remember watching a long time ago when I was a kid. Even though I had remembered watching it, for what ever reason I was drawn back to this film and got it from my public library and I rewatched it.

I personally am a huge Peanuts fan. I currently own all the Complete Peanuts bookset, some other smaller Peanuts books, rewatch the specials, and even have the last Peanuts comic strip hanging on my wall. Peanuts is not only a part of my childhood, it essentially is my childhood. And this movie definately captures the spirit of the Peanuts Universe, the world around them may be cruel sometimes, but goodness eventually wins out, and not in the way you expect it.

In case you don't know what the film is about, I'll summarize. The Peanuts gang go to summer camp and when they arrive they come across the most sadistic camp bullies I've ever seen. Seriously, these bullies are so mean they actually (albiet indirectly) threaten the lives of the Peanuts gang. Then they get involved in a river rafting race that takes place over several miles and several days (and considering how dangerous it gets, I am assuming that there are no adults). And that's it. The characters racing is the main basic plot.

You may have noticed that I noted that the film has several logical fallacies. Like I already noted how unrealistic the bullies are, and that no sane adult would ever sign off on a dangerous river raft race for kids. There are also apparantly no rules as the bullies are able to cheat with ease. Then again I guess that's not really the point. This isn't a film that you can put logic into it. This is a film where you can enjoy these characters and the situations they get themselves into. And also, the fact that the bullies are extremely unrealistic, it makes us want to root against them even more. But the main problem with them is that they are just bullies, there's nothing interesting about them and they are pretty generic.

Still the film's biggest accomplishment is the film's message of taking leadership and how to work together as a team. We slowly watch as Charlie Brown, briefly, takes leadership skills and grows as a person, and also takes a stand near the end. Better still, one scene involves Charlie Brown risking his life to help save his friends, without any hesitation. The growth of Charlie Brown as a character is what makes this film for me. While Charlie Brown's luck still doesn't change, you can still tell that he's grown over the summer, and that's what's important.

Am I looking at this film with any nostalgia? Oh yeah. However, at least I think, that even if I remove nostalgia from this, it's still a great film. If you're a Peanuts fan, I would definately recommened it. Now we just have to find a way to get this film released on DVD.

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