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Reviews

Phase IV
(1974)

Excellent science fiction!
Still after 45 years it holds up most well. Not much CGI here. It was so well photographed that it appeared that the ants were actually acting for their camera closeups. And I have no idea how they achieved the different colors for the ants. The ants genuinely appeared to be mourning for their own dead soldiers and it was real ants that dragged the particle of "poison" back to their colony, apparently dying off as they transferred it in bucket brigade fashion. Outstanding on all counts!

The Burrowers
(2008)

Burrowing creatures in the Old West
I enjoyed this horror movie. It is really a vampire movie, with two variants. These "burrower" creatures of the night travel underground rather than flitting around in the sky. Also, their power to render their victims utterly helpless to resist their feeding comes from a curare-like poison in their saliva rather than hypnotic stares from the traditional vampire's eyes. This poison makes the victim unable to use any voluntary muscles (as would be necessary to scream out for help, for example) but in each case they are conveniently left the use of one digit to signal their waking/living status to uninfected observers. Nice touch. Effectively done.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
(2010)

Overview
On the whole, the movie was well made. Fair production values, photography, and special effects. The actors and actresses all rendered acceptable performances. But the essence of the movie almost made me choke. (Note: I have an unusually strong stomach.) What it was is that it was pervasively infested with "relationship" conflicts, confused emotionalism, laughable protestations of undying "love" not based on anything substantive, and incredibly shallow dialog that sounded hauntingly as if it came straight out of any daytime soap opera – in short: it was like sawing off the top of a 12 year old girl's head and getting a naked look into her mind. Not pretty. (By way of further explanation, the 12 year old girls I have seen coming out of "Twilight" movies are generally starry-eyed and smiling widely, whereas the 18 year old girls were often disappointed and disbelieving that any guy would NOT do the heroine at the drop of a hat.) That is the difference a little life experience/realism makes.

There was one quite funny line in the movie worth mentioning. That was when Edward (the main vampire) looks at the perpetually shirtless Jacob (who put on about 50 pounds of muscle for his role in the "Twilight" series) and said, "Doesn't he own a shirt?" Bwahahaha!

The Land of College Prophets
(2005)

A very funny romp
This is not a chickflick.

I do not like forced humor (read: comedies). But I very much like dark humor. This was a combination of dark humor and very witty writing. Who cannot like a movie with lines like: life is not "all sunshine and handjobs"? Although it never rises above the production value of a "B" grade movie, perhaps even a "C", as is typical of true indies, it carries itself proudly with what it does have. Its energy and REFRESHING originality are worth a lot of points in today's movie making environment. I subtracted only two points from a "10", one for budget constraints and one for occasional grammar lapses, and both these faults are understandable under the circumstances.

If you do not laugh during this movie, Bones will scan you and announce, "He's dead, Jim."

Death Wish
(1974)

Killing "muggers"
This film is about what is affectionately known in the trade as "street justice," or the dispensing of justified capital punishment on the spot. Lawyers do not like this, as it deprives them of their fees. But it is very therapeutic to watch felons get killed on the silver screen, particularly since - because of lawyers - that so rarely happens in real life. OJ got away with double murder and Charles Manson is still alive. At one point the in Oregon the average punishment for murder was not only not capital, but only an average of seven years in prison.

Nationwide exoneration statistics for justifiable shooting homicides are slightly higher for civilians than for police, counter-intuitive as that may seem. I believe that to be attributable to the fact that civilians generally shoot only when they must, not when they may. Having personally been involved in law enforcement for 28 ½ years, I would like to offer some valuable insight to "Death Wish" either deliberately covered up, as in the movie, or not generally made available to the public.

"Street justice" really DOES deter crime. We see this here in Portland, Oregon, whenever a homeowner kills a burglar inside his house. If publicized as such, the burglary rate temporarily dips due to the felons' realization that killing a burglar in the act is justifiable under Oregon law. (In fact, any burglar who enters your home while you are there is a cat burglar, and is significantly dangerous and generally armed...you would be a fool not to kill him. Charles Manson cat burgled as a game he called "creepy-crawling," and he went on to murder about three dozen people, if that tells you anything about the mentality of this particular brand of felon. Read "Helter Skelter.")

As depicted in "Death Wish," the reduction of crime rate is entirely realistic as a deterrence to "muggers" (translation = armed robbers).

The Ten Commandments
(1956)

Clearly one of the ten greatest films of all time
Clearly one of the ten greatest films of all time. Production value, casting, acting, photography, script, and direction (which Cecil B. DeMille played straight).

The Technicolor is still vivid and the special effects still impress 45 years afterwards. The ubiquitous situation and dialogue irony is, to me, the most impressive thing about the movie. This film could never be remade without heavy reliance on CGI, and no Moses will ever top Charlton Heston.

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