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Batman and Harley Quinn

Holy Piece of Garbage
I don't know what audience they were aiming for. There are too many sexual references for youngsters and a too simplistic plot for adults. The animation looks cheap, too. Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester did their usual good voice work, but Melissa Rauch just wasn't up to the task. I don't often walk out of movies, but I left with about 15-20 minutes to go; I just couldn't take it anymore.

Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks

Pretty Much For Doctor Who Completeists Only
Back in the 1960s the BBC erased many of their tapes, never thinking that their programs would be of any interest for future generations. Taking the surviving audio and a few stills from one of these purged shows, this animated version recreates the lost video. But the animators admit that it is only about 50% shot for shot, so we still don't have the true original. But for Doctor Who fans, that might be enough; at least it's more than the nothing they had before.

The animation is very limited - reminiscent of the "motion comics" that were not very successful about 10 years ago. They also chose to do it in black and white instead of color. The original was certainly in black and white, but as long as you're changing things, why not use color (or give the DVD viewer the choice)? The picture sometimes does not sync with the audio, and there is background sound in a number of places that isn't captured by the animation.

The story itself unfolds at a leisurely pace, typical for that era. Modern audiences may not have the patience to sit through the slow parts.

It's nice to have these episodes made more accessible for historical reasons, but I doubt anyone other than older Whovians will get much out of it.


It's like they deliberately screwed up the science
I can forgive the unanswered questions about the motives and biology of the aliens in Prometheus. After all, they're aliens! What I can't forgive is the awful, awful protocols shown by the human scientists, technicians, and spaceship crew throughout the movie.

To begin with, a legitimate scientific expedition would have started by releasing weather and observation satellites to orbit the planetoid for weeks, perhaps months before Prometheus ever landed. This would determine the most likely places to hunt for aliens, rather than just luckily finding alien structures. Then, the small, remote-controlled probes would be sent into the alien installations to map them thoroughly and take air and soil samples. When pictures of the dead aliens came back, the scientist would spend many hours determining likely scenarios and procedures to avoid a similar fate before setting a foot inside.

The biggest mistake the movie makes, though, is something I haven't seen discussed anywhere. People have written about the folly of the crew taking off their space suit helmets without checking for microbes or other contaminants. It's not just the air quality that could cause illness or injury. What hasn't been mentioned is the danger of the humans contaminating the alien environment. Good scientists are concerned to the point of paranoia about destroying a pristine environment and invalidating their results. This is why Mars rovers are sterilized before they leave Earth. Once an alien planet is contaminated, there's no way to know what's alien and what's not. The crew of Prometheus would have to undergo rigorous decontamination procedures both when exiting the ship and on their return.

Another question that I haven't seen discussed elsewhere is why would an expedition as well-financed and equipped as Prometheus not have more than one robot? Weyland would want to have as much redundancy as possible to maximize success. Moreover, the humans would need to be cross trained, just as astronauts are now, so that in case of injury or illness there would be someone to fill in the gaps. This goes for the scientists, flight crew, security, and every other function.

Wouldn't Prometheus be crewed with the absolute best people in every role? People who knew what the mission was and who had trained together for months before leaving Earth. There is no excuse for second-best in a first-contact mission that's exploring a dangerous alien world.

It's one thing to have a haunted-house movie filled with naïve teenagers, but it's quite another to see supposed top scientists do dumb things. With a little more thought, Prometheus could have addressed the plot holes I and others have noted, and as a result been a tighter film with more tension and surprises.

Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers

A Dull Morality Play
Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers is a four episode motion comic from Marvel Knights Animation that is based on the 2004 miniseries Loki. It is essentially a character study of Loki (David Blair); Thor (Daniel Thorn) spends the vast majority of the running time as a mute prisoner, with only a few brief flashbacks.

The story opens as Loki is celebrating his takeover of Asgard, with Thor, Odin (Joe Teiger), Sif (Elizabeth Diennet), and Baldar (James Hampshire) in chains. Loki soon learns that ruling an empire is not all it's cracked up to be. He must mediate in what seems like every petty squabble in the land, and his allies in the rebellion begin to demand payment on his promises used to secure their cooperation.

All of this comes off as a cheap Shakespearian tragedy, with Loki brooding and plotting but not really doing anything. As such, it is aimed at adults more interested in political machinations than teenagers more interested in action.

The artwork is the best part of the production. There is a real sense of dimensionality, and the character designs are quite detailed. Loki is portrayed as an old man with missing teeth and lined face. The Asgard warriors are musclebound and the females are full-figured, to say the least. The superb backgrounds fill the screen with beauty. However, the limited animation detracts from the overall effect with its jerky movements and static compositions.

Each episode is about 20 minutes of story, so I'm not sure why the producers opted to break it into four parts. It would flow better as an uninterrupted movie.

The ending is unsatisfactory. Completely unsurprising spoiler–Thor escapes and wreaks retribution on Loki. We don't see what happens to several principal characters or the fallout of Loki's villainy.

Thor fans will undoubtedly want to see this production because it adds some interesting layers to Loki's personality and his relationship with Thor, but I can't recommend it for anyone else. The limited animation, lack of action, and lack of a satisfactory payoff makes this a dull morality play.

The Captains

Candid Conversations Among the Star Trek Captains
This documentary is a series of interviews, actually conversations, between iconic actor William Shatner and the other actors who have played Star Trek captains. Jetting around the country, Shatner talked with Patrick Stewart, Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Avery Brooks, Captain Sisco from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Kate Mulgrew, Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager, Scott Bakula, Captain Archer from Enterprise, and Chris Pike, Captain Kirk from the 2009 Star Trek movie.

Interspersed with the interviews were clips from a Star Trek convention Shatner appeared at in Las Vegas, where he met other Star Trek actors, including Rene Auberjonois, Jonathan Frakes, Robert Picardo, Connor Trinneer, and Nana Visitor, among others. Shatner also had a short interview with his old friend Christopher Plummer for whom he understudied at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario early in his career and who played the villainous Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). The only really obvious omission was Leonard Nimoy.

This documentary was fascinating in how it revealed as much about Shatner as his subjects. Topics ranged from how they got started acting, to how each actor got their Star Trek role, to how the Star Trek experience changed their lives and affected their families, to philosophical musings on death, and many things in between. Most of the captains are classically trained stage actors who weren't necessarily immediately onboard with playing a science fiction character for TV. Bakula and Brooks both have extensive musical backgrounds, Bakula as a singer and Brooks as a jazz pianist. In fact, Brooks provided the documentary with a pleasing smooth jazz score.

All of the captains came off as intelligent, hard working, and frank. It was nice to see that they all still took their roles seriously and were truly humbled by the fan reactions to their work. Shatner, especially, seemed genuinely moved when he found out that the Canadian head of Bombardier Aerospace was inspired to take up aerospace engineering from watching Shatner on Star Trek. There was also a poignant scene at the convention where Shatner greeted a young wheelchair-bound man whose devotion to Star Trek seemed to be about the only thing that kept him going.

The interview with Stewart seemed to have the most resonance. It was obvious that there was genuine rapport between him and Shatner. When they talked about how the long hours playing their roles negatively impacted their marriages, it was heartbreaking. Mulgrew's take on being a single mother during her tenure as captain was also touching.

Shatner turned out to be an excellent interviewer. He kept things light and often humorous, such as when he conducted Pine's interview at a card table on a busy intersection or when he met Mulgrew sitting in a cardboard box. This allowed him to get his subjects relaxed and able to open up about some of the deeper questions. Shatner used his personal experiences to draw out measured responses from the other captains. Shatner has a reputation for being egotistical and antagonistic, but none of that was evident here. Maybe time has mellowed him out.

The Captains is a journey of discovery for Shatner that is an enjoyable look at the world of acting in general and the Star Trek universe in particular. It is a sincere glimpse into the heart and soul of Star Trek.

Arthur Christmas

Delightfully charming
Arthur Claus (James McAvoy) is the bumbling son of the reigning Santa, Malcolm Claus (Jim Broadbent). Arthur is relegated to the Letter Department where he can presumably do no damage. Arthur's brother Steve (Hugh Laurie) is the heir apparent to the title of Santa. Steve is handsome, confident, and in charge of the North Pole command center that monitors Santa's gift-giving flight around the world. The film opens with a bravura set piece showing how Santa is able to stop in millions of homes in one night. Hint: he has the help of thousands of elves.

When Arthur discovers that one gift was accidentally undelivered, he becomes determined to get it to the unfortunate girl before Christmas sunrise. Even with the help of his retired grandsanta (Bill Nighy) and a perky elf (Ashley Jensen) from the Wrapping Department, can Arthur travel around the world in time?

There have been many movies over the years where Christmas must be saved from disaster, but Arthur Christmas has a very creative take on it. From the opening scene where it's established that Santa is really a dynasty through the centuries, a title handed down from father to son, to the paramilitary operation to get millions of presents delivered in one night, to the misadventures of Arthur and his grandsanta as they try to make sure one little girl is not disappointed, Arthur Christmas is fun, creative, and original. Produced by Aardman Animations in association with Sony Pictures Animation, this CGI animated film delivers Aardman's distinct brand of quirky humor and style.

The art direction maintains the slightly skewed look of an Aardman claymation film. The character designs are asymmetric and the surface textures are realistic yet bold. The North Pole command center and Santa's high-tech sleigh are clean and modern.

Sometimes celebrity voice talent backfires, but here it works beautifully, the English accents lending a sense of gravity that heightens the silliness. Bill Nighy is particularly good, conveying wisdom that is tinged with resentment of the modern gift-delivery methods his son and grandson use.

Arthur Christmas is a funny, heartwarming, and poignant look at the Santa Claus mythos, adding a family dynamic that will resonate with children and adults. I expect Arthur Christmas will become a joyful holiday favorite for years to come.

Batman: Year One

Influential Batman Story is Faithful to Its Source Material
Snapshot: Batman: Year One is one of the most influential comic book stories of all time. The direct-to-DVD adaptation is very faithful to the source material, with excellent production values. It is well worth watching.

Spoilers ahead!

Batman: Year One could easily be called James Gordon: Year One, for it is Lt. Gordon's (Bryan Cranston) character that provides the overriding through story (Cranston even gets top billing). A world-weary Gordon arrives in Gotham City from his previous assignment as punishment for breaking the unwritten code of the policemen's brotherhood: he turned in a cop on the take. What he finds in Gotham is a force that is corrupt all the way to the top. Commissioner Loeb (Jon Polito) is firmly in the pocket of mob boss Carmine Falcone (Alex Rocco), and Gordon's new partner Detective Flass (Fred Tatasciore) is not only corrupt, but is also a violent sociopath who will do anything to intimidate crooks (or Gordon himself, for that matter). Meanwhile, Gordon's home life is rocked when he has an affair with Detective Sarah Essen (Katee Sackhoff) while his wife Barbara (Grey DeLisle) is pregnant with their first child.

And then a crazy man in a bat costume begins taking out bad guys.

Bruce Wayne (Ben McKenzie) has returned from twelve years of mental and physical training to avenge the death of his parents at the hands of criminal scum. He finds it's not so easy, and is almost killed on his first night out in a simple disguise. But a bat flying into his mansion quickly inspires him, and Batman is born.

At first wary of each other, but ultimately realizing they are the only two morally true protectors of Gotham City, Gordon and Batman begin to make a dent in the corrupt police force and the mob that controls them.

In a brief appearance not very instrumental to the plot, prostitute Selina Kyle (Eliza Dushku) decides to emulate the mysterious bat-man, who in her mind has some kindred fetishes, and literally becomes a Catwoman burglar.

The directors made a deliberate decision to remain very faithful to the graphic novel, making it appealing to the fans who expect a lot from one of their favorite stories. The script hones very closely to Miller's terse original. The animation keeps the spirit of the original art, wonderfully carrying the action. It has an anime flow added to it from the Korean studio (MOI Animation) that did the production. The ugliness of the city and its inhabitants comes through in gritty detail. The city becomes a character in itself, creating claustrophobia that closes in on Gordon and Batman.

The voice talent, especially Cranston as Gordon, do a wonderful job conveying the tone of the story. The only small exception is McKenzie's Batman. I understand they wanted a younger, less confident sounding voice, but when we are so used to Kevin Conroy, it's hard to switch. And it's not like Conroy didn't do a terrific younger version in Batman: Gotham Knight (2008). But as Batman gains confidence through the course of his first year, so does McKenzie's voice gain strength.

Batman: Year One is a nice complement to Batman Begins (2005), which took many of its elements from Miller's scenario. Batman Begins focused more on Bruce Wayne's training, while Year One focuses more on Batman's indoctrination into the world of crime fighting.

Be advised that Batman: Year One is not watered down. The sexual situations, dialog, and violence are not for children!

Batman: Year One is a well-done tribute to one of the greatest Batman comics of all time: the story of crime-fighting badass James Gordon and his partner, the man in the bat suit.

The Open Track

Exciting Early Serial
I saw this at Cinecon 47 with a live piano accompaniment. Helen worked at a train depot and got involved with a federal investigation of some counterfeiters. At one point Helen must chase down and stop a runaway locomotive to save the lives of two T-men. This sequence is full of thrills that stands up even today. Helen's jump from a speeding motorcycle to the train is spectacular. Once again, we see an early female protagonist in the movies; the likes of whom we really didn't see again for fifty years. The restored print of this film was excellent. I don't know if other episodes in this serial exist, but this is one that film buffs should seek out.

Stronger Than Death

Interesting Historical Film
I saw this film at Cinecon 47 with a live piano accompaniment. It depicted a period of the British occupation of India that looked fairly accurate. The half-Indian/half-British character was treated with scorn by both the Indians and the British, despite him being the wealthiest person in the region. Unfortunately, it was clear that the actor was simply a white man with dark make-up. The plot was full of melodrama: the governing British colonel was depicted as an alcoholic wife beater, his son was a selfless Army doctor trying to save a village from cholera, the washed-up actress/dancer fell in love, all while the half-breed was inciting the locals to riot. Nevertheless, I found it to be slow and not terribly interesting. The actors emoted and the sets looked like they were recycled back lots. The film restoration did look good.

The Active Life of Dolly of the Dailies

An Early Action Heroine
I saw Chapter 5, The Chinese Fan, at Cinecon 47. It was a beautifully restored print from an archive in New Zealand. An early serial from the Edison studios, it features a plucky female reporter who, in this episode, sets out to review a new play in Chinatown and then gets mixed up with the kidnappers of an heiress. It was interesting to see Dolly treated with respect by her colleagues at the newspaper where she worked. Early films obviously had no problems with strong female protagonists; where did they disappear to for the next 50 years! It's too bad the other episodes of this serial have been lost, but this one is a must-see for any student of film history.

Moon Over Her Shoulder

Fun, Romantic Comedy
I saw this at Cinecon 47 and was pleasantly surprised. It's not the kind of movie I normally would see, especially with the kind of short synopsis it would undoubtedly get in a plot summary. But it was funny and very well received by the Cinecon audience. The performances were excellent, and although the plot was definitely contrived, it made sense in the context of the movie. Basically, it's a love triangle with lots of misunderstandings, the kind of movie plot that has been around since time immemorial. The ending was a bit of a surprise, too. I hope that this gets a wider distribution, either on DVD or on TCM, because it is worth viewing.

The Flying Scissors

Entertaining Mocumentary
In the same vein of This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind, The Flying Scissors is a mocumentary, i.e., a comedy disguised as a documentary. The subject is the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The film chronicles the lives of several aspiring RPS champions who are planning to attend the Nationals. As you would expect in a film like this, the contenders are a bunch of misfits with dysfunctional families and weird personal behaviors. About 3/4 of the movie is the exploration of the backgrounds of the players and tournament organizers. The final act, the tournament itself, is actually a bit of a let down after so much buildup. There just wasn't as much tension milked out of the contests as I thought could have been. Overall, I enjoyed this movie and recommend it for people who enjoy mocumentaries or the "sport" of RPS.

Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics

Excellent for fans and non-fans
This is an excellent documentary for both comics fans and non-fans. It omitted mention of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which I feel is a milestone in DC's history, but perhaps this is too arcane for casual viewers. Otherwise, it is a thorough examination of the writers and artists who created some of the most famous characters in the world. Loaded with interviews of the creators and clips from movie and TV incarnations, the documentary shows the evolution of the company, the creators, and the characters. As an in-house production, it probably omits some of the less savory aspects of the company, but this is not an expose, after all. It is a celebration of an American art form.

Sukai kurora

Thought-Provoking -- Not a Movie for Mainstream Audiences
It is hard to write a coherent review of The Sky Crawlers without revealing major plot twists, but I will try. I advise you to see the movie without reading too much about it beforehand so that you can enjoy and think about what happens without bias. Do stick around for the epilog after the closing credits.

The Sky Crawlers is a thought-provoking alternate history that will appeal to literate science fiction fans. Mainstream audiences will undoubtedly be bored and confused by what happens in the film. The film examines weighty themes such as the meaning of war and the nature of memories. I was reminded of the recent death of famous amnesiac "HM" while watching The Sky Crawlers, as some of the characters suffer from a similar type of memory loss. Why they suffer this loss is one of the twists that will either spark heated discussion or bewilderment afterward. Like most good science fiction, The Sky Crawlers presents somewhat ambiguous characters and ideas. It is up to the viewer to interpret the meaning.

What worked: The CGI aerial combat sequences were amazing—dizzying and spectacular, with intricately designed air vehicles that spurred the imagination. The characters' emotional depths were thoroughly mined—although not always pleasantly so. The character design and art direction were top notch—the CGI segments were almost photo-realistic, and the 2D segments were beautifully drawn and lighted, too. The Basset Hound was cute.

What didn't work: The pacing was slow—this is a psychological drama, not an action adventure—and could have benefited from some judicious editing. Although I found the transitions from CGI to 2D and back to be perfectly fine, particularly after getting into the rhythm of the film, many viewers will likely find the transitions jarring.

If your tastes run more towards Blade Runner or A Clockwork Orange, you will probably appreciate The Sky Crawlers. If your tastes lean more towards Star Wars or The Incredibles, I advise you to see something else.

Babylon 5: The Lost Tales

Disappointing, but better than no Babylon 5 at all
The two stories on this DVD are essentially radio plays with minimal effects thrown in. The stories are mostly two, or occasionally three, characters conversing. The content of those conversations consist of some religious mumbo-jumbo and some musings on the nature of free will versus destiny. Not horrible, but we expect more from JMS. The sets are spartan and the CGI is frankly a bit crude, and only three of the series regulars are featured—obviously, there was very little budget allocated to this production. The DVD extras are only for die-hard Babylon 5 fans (well, that could also be easily said for the movie itself). Let's hope that this sells well enough for Warner Bros. to green light more "Lost Tales" with bigger budgets. With the success of Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, and other SF television, it seems there should be a market for a quality return of Babylon 5.


This isn't your father's animated Superman!
I saw the premiere of Superman Doomsday on July 26, 2007 at the San Diego Comic-Con. It rightfully earns a PG-13 rating for some very intense violence. Although impossible to condense the epic comic book saga into about 80 minutes, the movie captures the essence of the comic book series. The story moves along briskly in the first and third acts, with lots of death and destruction. The second act looks poignantly at a world without Superman. The scene between Lois Lane and Martha Kent brought a tear to my eye. The animation is of high quality. The characters are drawn somewhat differently than in previous incarnations. The way they drew the character cheekbones was a bit distracting at first, but I soon got used to it. Otherwise, the characters and the animation were quite nicely done. Overall, I enjoyed Superman Doomsday a lot and I look forward to more PG-13 interpretations from the DC universe.

Lage Raho Munna Bhai

Entertaining and Fun
This is the first Bollywood film I have seen, and I enjoyed it very much. The story was funny, romantic, and even contained a strong moral lesson. The actors all seemed to do a good job -- it is harder to judge with a subtitled film. The songs were generally well done and not too intrusive. The cinematography, costumes, and set design enhanced the film -- and made me want to visit India some day. About the only suggestion for improvement would be to shorten it a bit -- this was at least 30 minutes too long for a comedy/musical, in my opinion. One technical gripe about the DVD: the commercials at the beginning were too long and unable to skip.

Happy Feet

Great CGI - Mediocre Story
The CGI was some of the best I've ever seen. The natural beauty of Antarctica and the animal life there was truly spectacular. At times it was hard to tell that this was not live-action photography. For this reason alone, Happy Feet is worth seeing.

Unfortunately, this is about the only reason for an adult to see the film. The story and characters are tepid; even Robin Williams can only muster occasional excitement with his two wacky characters. Once again, a big budget animation feature falls flat with celebrity voices instead of professional voice talent. The story, such as it is, doesn't really start to take off until the second half of the movie. The first half is seemingly endless vignettes of exposition and set up. The dancing sequences, particularly the one featured in the year-old teaser trailer, liven things up but don't move the plot along. I was annoyed at the inconsistent juxtaposition of musical styles; one moment it was hip hop, the next blues, the next rock, with few, if any, lasting through an entire song. One of the story problems I had was a lack of a consistent villain. Mumbles is attacked early in the film by a vicious seal. I kept expecting this scary bad guy to reappear to get his comeuppance, but he just disappears. There was not even a hint of what turned out to be the real antagonists until halfway through the film. Finally, I felt the ecological disaster moralizing was just too preachy. Maybe you have to be that blatant for children, but as an adult I felt like the film was talking down to me.

Happy Feet tries to be a nature film, a musical, a love story, and a sitcom, but fails to effectively deliver any of those. I really came away thinking that Happy Feet was little more than a glorified Afternoon Special. It makes me appreciate all the more how films like Shrek and Flushed Away can successfully combine action, romance, comedy, and drama on levels that both children and adults can enjoy.

Superman: Brainiac Attacks

Everything about this direct-to-DVD movie looked rushed. The animation is serviceable, but nothing spectacular. Tim Daly and Dana Delany do their usual good jobs as Superman and Lois, and Lance Henriksen is OK as Brainiac. There are some new voices for Perry and Jimmy that take a little getting used to. There's a nice subplot with Jimmy and Luthor's henchwoman, but the Mercy Graves character is watered down from what we've seen in the past. The biggest faults of this movie, however, are the writing, and Powers Boothe as Lex Luthor. Luthor comes off as a wimpy, comic relief, not the megalomaniac we've seen him as in other Superman and Justice League episodes. There is never any real sense of danger from either Brainiac or Luthor – there were a lot things going "boom," but it all seemed like pointless paint-by-numbers. The love story between Supes and Lois gets some lip service (no pun intended) but ultimately nothing comes of it, as usual. Veteran Superman animators Curt Geda and Duane Capizzi have done much better in the past; I was very surprised they were responsible for this mediocre project.

First Flight

Funny and Charming
This animated short tells the story of an obsessive neatnik waiting for his bus to work when an orphaned baby bird lands on the bench next to him. The man initially resists the attentions of the bird, but eventually becomes its surrogate mother, learning a valuable lesson from the bird. This is a very funny and charming short subject. It is co-produced by Dreamworks and Aardman Animations. The CGI is well done, giving the man and the bird very good facial expressions and mannerisms. There is not a lot of dialog, so the animation is what really carries the load of showing what's going on. This film is a treat for children and adults. I fully expect it will be a strong contender for next year's Academy Award for animated short.

Over the Hedge

Wonderfully Funny
I was not expecting much from this film, but I was very mistaken. This is a wonderfully funny story that had the audience of mostly adults roaring through most of the film. The story is based on a comic strip, telling the story of how two unlikely companions first met. The other characters in the film are mostly original and not in the comic strip. While nominally a buddy picture, there is plenty of action and even a romance that pays tribute to Pepe Le Pew cartoons. The character designs are excellent, and the computer graphics are superb. The voice talent does a very good job, especially for celebrity voices. Hammy the squirrel, voiced by Steve Carell, stole the show. There is a scene near the end of the film with Hammy that is truly one of the most brilliant animated sequences I've ever seen. I can't wait to see this film again to see all the details I missed the first time.


Proof that movies by committee don't work
Monkeybone as it is is a reasonably funny film for adults. But after looking at the deleted scenes and listening to some of the director's comments on the DVD, I can see that several important scenes were cut at the producers' request. These scenes either fill in explanations or are funny bits that enhance the characterizations. Alas, since this film bombed at the box office, we'll probably never see the director's cut. This is a textbook case of why studio executives should stay out of the director's way when that director has a proven track record of successful films.


A Hidden Pleasure
The prologue scenes, while necessary to set up the plot, are slow to develop and confusing. I would have preferred they be inserted as flashbacks and get the story moving earlier. But when the story does get going, it is one of the finest thrillers ever filmed. The sequence on the bridge is worth the price of admission by itself. The score by Tangerine Dream is also one of the highlights. This film likely bombed at the box office because by the late 70s films were beginning to be dumbed down for the MTV generation and because the film title was very misleading. A film like this could definitely not be made today, with its slow beginning, amoral characters, and ambiguous downbeat ending.

The Legend of the Lone Ranger

A faithful adaptation of The Lone Ranger's origin
This is a compilation of 3 episodes of the long-running TV series starring Clayton Moore. It chronicles the origin of The Lone Ranger, and how he met Tonto and Silver, while avenging the death of his brother. A fairly straightforward good guys vs. bad guys story, it nonetheless evokes a strong emotional appeal to the imagination, showing why The Lone Ranger continues to be popular.

Hi-Yo Silver

Takes too many liberties with the Lone Ranger legend
This condensed movie serial has its moments (it is, after all, The Lone Ranger), but I found the characterization to be almost nonexistent and the plotline too meandering. What was even worse, they completely ignored the standard history of The Lone Ranger and instead set up a contrived mystery of trying to guess who the real Lone Ranger was out of five suspects (and none of those five was John Reid, the Ranger of radio and TV). A framing story was used to skip past the deleted serial scenes, so it wasn't completely confusing, but some of those scenes sounded pretty exciting and I hope I can see the complete serial someday.

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