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The War of the Worlds

Executive interference?...
One has to ask the question that although this mini-series was completed almost 2 years ago, and post-production (VFX/Editing, etc) would have taken some additional time, yet it was teased, to British audiences at least, for a possible Summer 2019 release, which of course never happened. Why the big delay, I hear you ask? Well I think some of you, if not ALL of you now know why. It's a clunker - they simply got it utterly, horribly wrong. Now normally I would reserve such vitriol in the final analysis, after the show had completed it's run. But no, it's already a mess, a big bloody mess. I fully suspect that BBC Executives, NOT Peter Harness - the credited writer, dictated most of what we actually see onscreen. Harness adapted the wonderful Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell into an equally wonderful TV adaptation, so why did he fail so miserably here? I would suggest interference, why? Because I am a Writer with experience of BBC Executives and their propensity for full-on interference. You go into a Script meeting and everybody is upbeat and the general outlook is postively very good. But then, as the meeting progresses, you slowly start to realise that they're gradually trying to change it, not just in certain sections, but in the piece as a WHOLE, until essentially it is completely, if not radically different to what you first presented. Now you might not notice this at first, because they're REALLY that good, but it is totally insiduous and basically standard practice at the BBC right now.


Quantico...what a mess.
Like many others, I had hopes for Quantico...they were ill-founded.

I enjoy cleverly conceived procedural dramas with intelligently constructed narratives and well-developed, fully rounded characters.

Oh, and good acting helps too.

Sadly, I found Quantico to possess none of these qualities.

There is zero attempt made to create believable situations and characters, this show is clumsily thrown together in a haphazard manner, that defeats any internal logic and stretches credulity beyond belief.

It is superficial, insipid, pointlessly convoluted - NOT complex, there is a vacuous, slick feel to the show that fits in perfectly with the overall tone of Quantico - all style, no substance.

The characters are merely sketches of what they should be - which doesn't help the actors at all, who are left floundering.

It's fast paced, glossy, populated by some extraordinary pretty people, who have been clearly cast for their looks rather than any overt thespian skill set.

Some of the cast just about manage to overcome the virtually non-existent characterisations, the lesser talented actors simply fail, epically.

Quantico had plenty of potential, and it would have worked - in more capable hands.

But ultimately, this is a massively dumb show - and not in a fun way, what should have been a compelling, fascinating, insightful and dynamic look at the individuals of and the organisation that is the FBI, is sabotaged by it's own wilfully shallow and tedious mission to throw intelligent story-telling out of the window.



Mediocre, oh so mediocre...
It's got a simple, but hugely unoriginal plot - Special Ops agent gets doubled-crossed (yawn) and proceeds to exact her revenge on those who wronged her, yeah, it sounds very much like the standard plot for your average Steven Seagal straight-to-DVD actioner - not a film directed by Steven Soderbergh!

I suspect that Soderbergh is not overly familiar with this particular genre, otherwise he might have avoided the clichéd script like the plague...

The direction for this piece is restrained almost to the point of inertia - any energy generated within the action scenes comes sorely from the mixed-martial artistry of Ms. Carano, it almost feels as if Mr. Soderbergh is embarrassed by the notion of directing an action thriller.

Soderbergh does his usual thing of peppering his films with stars and/or solid character actors, but despite the presence of the likes of Ewan MacGregor, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, etc, they are underused in what are essentially expanded cameos - only MacGregor gets to shine a little, but his character is underwritten and lacks any credible motivation for his actions.

Gina Carano acquits herself quite well, especially so given the fact that she is carrying the movie on her inexperienced shoulders - that and the cold, hard reality that her character is basically a Jason Bourne clone, albeit with female genitalia...

The film also suffers from the fact that it doesn't have a climax, it just simply stops.

The restrained approach Soderbergh adopted for this film is it's undoing - short, sporadic bursts of action in an uninspired and leisurely-paced script damage Haywire badly, if Steven Soderbergh had bothered to have injected a bit more zest and flair into his direction, the film might have been redeemed somewhat and not turned into the lifeless, miserable clone that it is.


Falling Skies

Epic Fail!
OK, so in all the lead-up to the premier of Falling Skies, everything looked good on paper - Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot, etc...), Graham Yost (Speed, Broken Arrow, etc...) and of course Steven Spielberg - all key players on the creative front...

As I'm sure many others did, I initially anticipated a top-quality, exciting, fast-moving, action-packed, alien-invasion drama - but of course, it wasn't what we got.

What eventually transpired was a series bereft of any of the above - the show has little, if any real sense of excitement, the drama is mediocre at best, pacing is sluggish almost to the point of inertia, the action is infrequent and pretty unspectacular at that and then there's the acting...

Noah Wyle and Will Patton seem bored and utterly disinterested in their respective roles and as with most of the rest of the cast, they deliver their dialogue without any sense of conviction. Wyle in particular is quite dull as the history professor-turned-resistance fighter and his scenes are usually the least dramatically interesting.

To add insult to injury, their characters are poorly defined and under-written, complete with lazily drawn back-stories.

The younger actors are amongst the worst I have ever seen in any North American-produced drama - they vary from average to the downright awful - this all comes as something of a surprise given the general wealth of talent in North America...

The female characters fare even worse - whilst the key female leads Moon Bloodgood and Sarah Carter, try their level best, but they are constantly undermined by weak characterisations and their performances are stifled by clichéd and predictable dialogue.

The sole character of any real interest on FS is that of 'Pope' played by Colin Cunningham, who is superb in the role, but sadly there isn't enough of this excellent character in the general plot threads...

Already touched-upon is the underwhelming standard of writing on Falling Skies - which comes as something of a surprise what with the pedigree of talent attached to the show, but underwhelming it is and then some - plot and structure are shabbily constructed and at best could be described as 'workman-like'.

Pacing is terrible, with no real sense of forward momentum and the series is completely devoid of even the vaguest sense of dramatic tension and/or suspense.

Dialogue is trite and banal, characterisations are severely lacking to the nth degree, I could go on...

I've already said way more than I originally intended to, but I'd genuinely wanted to like Falling Skies and stayed with it to the bitter, and from a narrative standpoint, anti-climatic end.

Disappointing, very, very disappointing.

Peace, PG.

Doctor Who: Vincent and the Doctor
Episode 10, Season 5

A Decent Narrative Would Have Been Nice...
I approached this particular episode of Dr Who with some degree of cynicism and as I finally discovered, my initial cynicism was well founded...

Richard Curtis is fine with light comedy laced with a little bit of drama, but when faced with the sort of fast-paced, witty drama, mixed with clever plotting that a show like Dr Who demands, this where the writing and Curtis' lazy approach to narrative fall badly apart.

He takes an idea that had been floating around in his head for some time, then shoe-horns this into a Dr Who plot that never really works, clearly in this particular type of genre Curtis' is out of his depth - and it shows.

The 'monster-of-the-week' didn't work because this isn't really what Curtis was interested in and seems hastily inserted into the story as an after thought, or maybe at the behest of Head Writer/Executive Producer Steve Moffat, either way, it simply doesn't work.

The upside to this episode is the acting - from a lovely Bill Nighy cameo, to the charming Karen Gillan, to the sometimes variable Matt Smith and last (but not least) to the finely-tuned performance from Tony Curran, everybody seemed at their best in this story - and it is this fine standard of acting that elevates a fairly mediocre entry in the Dr Who canon to a higher level giving the substandard writing a strong emotional boost.


Escape Into Night

Superb, gripping stuff...
Yes, I too saw this excellent series I was only about 11 at the time, but it stayed vividly in my memory - utterly disturbing and very scary.

In response to 'geffers' - the series was originally aired in the UK on the ITV network, produced by ATV (later to become Central TV) in 1972 - so nothing to do with the infamous BBC purge.

It is known that Thames TV (another ITV programme provider of the time) had a similar 'cull' of some of their children's TV - but this goes back to about 1970-71 - this itself shouldn't have affected the ATV-produced Escape Into Night production.

Let's hope its out there in the VT archives somewhere - maybe we'll get a DVD release one day...




Why Torchwood is SO bad.....
Where does one start? There are so many numerous reasons as to why this show is as bad as it is, but I'll try and give a few of my pet peeves regarding this particular piece of utter trash...

From a writing standpoint (yeah, I'm a writer!) it has little if any sense of logic, plot subtlety, decent characterisation etc are tossed away in favour of breakneck pace, dialogue is clichéd, trite and contrived.

Acting is very uneven, from the principle cast only Eve Myles emerges with any real dignity, though Naoko Mori does her level best with the stereotypical (and poorly underwritten) role of Dr. Sato.

As for the rest of the principles, hmm, well to start, let's just say that John Barrowman would be better of in the area of acting he excels at; musical theatre. Barrowman was good to a point in Dr. Who, but now with the weight of being the lead in his own show, he buckles under the pressure and is, at best, competent.

Burn Gorman is average in the role of Owen Harper - though gives the impression that he's acting in another show. The Owen character comes off as a little desperate in his attempts at exuding tough and cool.

Gareth David-Lloyd as Ianto Jones is the worst of the principle cast, a weak and wooden actor, lacking even the basic skills to pull off what should be a an interesting character.

To be fair though, Gareth David-Lloyd might have been a little better had the Ianto character been properly served by the writers - but this is common of most of the characters in Torchwood, underwritten and underdeveloped.

Production values: for the most part they are pretty high, especially given that the show has a much lower budget than Doctor Who, visual effects could be better, but The Mill (who did Dr Who), are no doubt working with little money.

I do have a problem with the camera-work on Torchwood, which at times has a blurry, video feel to scenes where the camera and/or people are in motion. I know the 1st season of the Russell T. Davies Dr. Who was shot on Digital Betacam, with a film effect later added, and that the following season was shot in High Definition. Both looked fine, especially the latter season.

Torchwood looks like it was shot on a home DV camera!

I don't really want to go too much into my thoughts on individual episodes, especially given that I've only seen the 1st 6 episodes thus far, but I feel I should address a few issues nonetheless...

Everything Changes - the 1st episode has a rushed, impatient feel about it, mainly concerned it would seem, with setting the pace rather than setting up the overall concept and the characters properly.

Day One - utter rubbish, I wish I could be more eloquent, but this story , with the concept of a sex addicted alien(!) stinks of some of the worst (and ripped-off) science fiction clichés I've witnessed in ages, Species anyone? Ghost Machine - not actually a bad idea, just (yet again) underwritten.

Cyberwoman - the worst, no honestly it REALLY is that awful! Starting with the design of the Cyberwoman's costume I just knew this wasn't going to get any better, but I certainly didn't expect it to get much worse, but it did, and then some!! Written with zero respect for the science fiction genre (or it's fans), Cyberwoman is cheesy in the worst possible way, with enough plot holes to drive a truck through, zero internal logic and the same old fast pace over plotting and characterisation issues that appear to be the main problem with Torchwood generally.

Small Worlds - Not actually a bad episode, written by veteran P.J. Hammond, it is nonetheless marred by the fact that the story is underdeveloped, which results in the episode woefully running out of steam about half-way through.

Countrycide (oh dear) - Clichéd (yet again!), derivative, lazy, illogical, and thats just Chris Chibnall's writing style - personally, speaking as writer myself, I would normally never attack another writer's work. But in this case I feel compelled to call him out for what he is: a talentless hack.

Every horror movie convention is dragged out and simply regurgitated rather than re-invented and turned on it's head, but that would take the craft and skill any good writer would possess in abundance.

That's how far I've got with Torchwood thus far, and it's pretty much as far as I'd normally want to go, but there is masochistic side to me that is compelled to check out the next episode, just to see if it can be as bad as the last.

The bottom line to all of this that Torchwood needed a firm hand at the steering feel, sadly, for a show that had such potential, Torchwood swerved right off the road and became the horrendous car-wreck of a drama series it has proved to be, even only half-way through it's 1st (and hopefully last!) season.

Russell T. Davies, Julie Gardner, Richard Stokes, et al, shame on YOU!!


Hope & Faith

Hopeless! - A worthless excuse for a TV Sitcom . . .
Being a fan of quality comedy product, imagine how shocked I was when I first saw this appallingly BAD show! Now I didn't watch just one episode and dismiss it, oh no, I watched most of the 1st Season and half of the second, this I think puts me in a position where I am able to criticise...

There have been many U.S. 'family type' sitcoms, but this must rank as one of the most dire in recent history.

Firstly the writing is, if one can call it writing, weak beyond belief - these people aren't writers, they are talentless hacks who couldn't spot a quality gag at 5 yards. Plot lines vary from the merely predictable, to trite and twee and to the plain and simple f***ing lousy!! But sometimes weak writing can be counteracted by a solid cast with a strong comedy sensibility - sadly Hope & Faith has nothing like a good cast.

In all fairness, most of the cast just about acquit themselves as serviceable actors - but just only just about.

The award for most irritating and misjudged comedy performance goes to the appallingly bad, Kelly Ripa - a so-called actress with a grasp of comedy technique that it is so lacking as to be non-existent.

With over-the-top, facial 'mugging' being her main stock in trade, Ripa spirals from one bad scene to another even worse scene without barely time to take a breath - the only thing she seems have in any sort of abundance is energy, for this I cannot fault her.

But energy and over-acting are simply not enough to constitute a good comedy performance - which makes Kelly Ripa no comedy actress.

There is no subtlety in Ripa's attempts at acting, no refinement and virtually no comedy timing on her behalf - surely things that are standard requirements for a quality comedy performance.

If all this sounds like I'm Kelly Ripa-bashing, then yeah, I suppose I am. But Ripa certainly deserves it as she probably the very worst thing about this show, well, maybe Kelly Ripa AND the scriptwriters should take equal blame.

I didn't expect Hope a& Faith to set the sitcom genre alight, but by the very same measure, I didn't expect anything quite as bad as this REALLY is.

I caught this show here in England on a cable channel called ABC1, along with other shows that were as new to British viewers as Hope and Faith , a couple of these shows were: Less Than Perfect and Eight Simple Rules...

Bottom line is this, I was expecting no more, no less from these other shows - I was VERY pleasantly surprised! Both Less Than Perfect and Eight Simple Rules are excellent comedy shows and are vastly superior to the massively inferior Hope & Faith.

I must cite Eight Simple Rules in particular for having a perfect cast, providing top-notch, classy performances, augmented by excellent, witty and razor-sharp writing - if Hope & Faith had only half the quality of ESR, then it wouldn't be quite that bad, problem is Hope & Faith, in comparison to Eight Simple Rules, is left floating dead in the water.


The Young Americans

A fine debut for Danny Cannon - but what happened . . . ?
There's a couple of stories (possibly apocryphal) about how Cannon's career was launched, one story is that respected film Director Alan Parker, saw a short film he made on a BBC amateur film-making programme and, impressed with what he saw, immediately phoned the BBC so he could get in touch with Cannon - which he apparently did, Parker then supposedly recommended him to a prestigious film school...

The other story is that Danny Cannon's father is a top studio executive and that nepotism was the way he started.

Either way, Cannon's debut film was an interesting little movie with big aspirations - at the time British films tended to be almost always socio-political, so-called worthy films, usually about the social underclass - remember this was 1993 and just before Richard Curtis invented the Britsh Rom-Com...

What the film lacks in terms of story (Cannon was Co-Writer) it makes up for in sheer film-making skill - The Young Americans is a beautiful-looking movie.

It's a film that belies it's VERY low-budget, and looks like a much more expensive piece.

Danny Cannon displays an almost Ridley Scott like style in the care he takes with the look of the film, and the careful, unhurried pacing, he is aided in his efforts by excellent Anamorphic 2.35:1 photography from D.P. Vernon Layton - giving The Young Americans a rich, almost sumptuous look, for what, on the surface, is a gritty urban crime thriller.

A special mention should be made for Composer David Arnold and his beautiful, almost tragic Music Score - of course he went on to bigger things: Stargate, Independence Day, the Bond movies - Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, plus Zoolander, Changing Lanes, The Stepford Wives and the upcoming Ghost Rider, and another Bond - Casino Royale.

Personally, I thought Danny Cannon's career might have amounted to something more substantial that just 3 feature films.

These films include the badly mis-judged(!) Stallone vehicle Judge Dredd and the horror sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer - not sure how the latter film fared at the box-office (though I suspect not good!)

I DO know that Judge Dredd was a BIG financial and critical failure - Cannon got the film right after The Young Americans, tiny budget to mega budget - could this be a case of Cannon running before he could walk?

Of course Danny Cannon has found considerable success as an Executive/Supervising Producer, occasional Writer and sometimes Director on the 3 hit CSI TV series from Jerry Bruckhiemer - this in itself is no mean feat, but I do feel Cannon's potential as a Director of Feature Films has gone largely untapped and that he could have made a more substantial career if he'd stayed in Movies.

Hear he's got a Soccer movie in the works, let's hopes that this is a return to features for an underrated and talented Director.


Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Great idea, shame about the movie . . .
First let me say that (Writer/Director) Kerry Conran is a very talented individual and one day he might make a truly excellent film, sadly, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow isn't that film.

His next project is 'John Carter of Mars' which might be in a similar vein to Sky Captain given it's source material, the John Carter series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs - lets hope Conran pulls away from the full-on digital approach he utilised in Sky Cap, something I found very distracting, but more about that later...! I really liked the core idea for this movie, which has a certain amount inspiration-wise in common which it's nearest relative, the Indiana Jones films - both Sky Cap and Indy use the old republic serials from the 1940's as a springboard for their respective plots, though they did go off in radically different directions.

Sky Captain might have worked better for audiences if a more 'traditional' film-making approach had been taken, IE; real sets, props , locations etc, rather than the limiting 'Digital Backlot' style used here.

Watching the film, I always felt distanced, detached from it rather than being drawn into the piece, normally, even with an escapist movie like this one I can forget that I'm watching a movie, I can become absorbed and just simply enjoy myself.

Basically, I believe Sky Captain alienated a lot it's potential audience simply because of the way it looks - like those awful colourised versions of classic Black and White movies that Ted Turner was trying to push on us in the late 80's and early 90's, even this wouldn't have been that bad if hadn't been for the sometimes weak CG work on Sky Captain. The Flying Wings attacking is an example of really awful CG - a film like this would have been better served by using a more 'old-school' approach to it's visual effects.

Given that old 40's movie serials were the inspiration for Sky Cap, then why not use a more 'tradional' visual effects style? It seems everybody in the film industry is in love with CGI and believes it to be the ONLY way of executing decent effects - but have they seen Van Helsing or Die Another Day? 2 major, big-budget films that just happen to have some of the worst and most pointless use of Digital Effects witnessed in recent years.

The cast is generally very good, especially Gwyneth Paltrow and (an underwritten) Giovanni Ribisi who does his best with what he's given. The exception, acting-wise, being Jude Law who, though not actually acting badly, seemed to be performing in another movie. His fey, dare I say, slightly effete style of acting was way off the mark for this picture, which let's face it, needed a much more 'manly' hero.

Last, but not least, the script, or more to the point, the lack of a script. Kerry Conlan is a fine visualist, but a writer he isn't.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow suffers from having a severely under-written script and thinly etched characters that only work because of what the actors bring to their roles. The plotting in some instances is nonsensical, the film is anti-climactic, lacks a tangible villain, character motivations are almost non-existent and the script badly needed a sub-plot.

All this makes Sky Captain sound like a terrible film, which it isn't, it's just a woefully missed opportunity to make an escapist classic.

Lucky Break

Unfunny As Hell!
Caught this one on TV a while back and I'm glad I didn't bother to see it in theatrical release.

Though the film has an excellent cast and is as well-made as a basic comedy can be, there is one simple matter that the screenwriter Ronan Bennett seems to have overlooked - there is NO comedy, OK maybe there are one or two laughs here, but that's all.

Apparently based on a book by the superb Stephen Fry, one wonders why the producers didn't approach Mr. Fry to write the screenplay, after all his track record speaks for itself - the man knows how to make people laugh!

The film sold itself as being 'From the Director of The Full Monty' well, I don't know what happened here, but Peter Cattaneo didn't bring any of the skills he seemed to display in TFM.

Don't bother with this one at all, a total waste of time.

Salem's Lot

A total mess!
I'm quite the fan of the vampire genre - despite the fact that there aren't that many good examples in the many film/TV forays into this interesting sub-genre of the horror field.

But I have taste, and am unwilling to take some of the excrement forced upon me by the numerous writers/producers/directors who dip their toes into the vampire genre, which brings me to the subject at hand...

'Salems Lot (2004) is a vastly inferior adaptation of the Stephen King novel than it's 1979 predecessor.

On the page, this version seemed to have everything going for it, a good budget, a strong cast, a Writer who came from films rather than TV and a Director whose pedigree, as a Camerman on films for people like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, seemed to bode well for this production.

How wrong that theory was! Peter Filardi's adaptation of the King novel results in an extremely pedestrian effort at best. Did Filardi actually read the novel or did he merely scan through the book when faced the job ahead of him? Of course he read the novel, but totally missed the point of what actually made it work.

Filardi's credits consist of the movies The Craft and Flatliners, and a stint on TV's MacGyver(!) The Director, Mikael Salomon, whose credits as a Cinematographer are impressive; Backdraft, Far and Away, Arachnophobia, Always, The Abyss tell us that the man has talent - as a Cameraman. His Directorial credits include the feature Hard Rain, and many top-end TV productions such as Band Of Brothers, The Grid, Alias etc.

Ironically, the novel of 'Salems Lot lends itself quite well to filmic adaptation, despite the dense plotting and detailed characterizations therein.

This fact appears to completely escape the Writer and Director on this adaptation of the book.

The impression I got from the Filardi/Salomon effort is that they wanted to be revisionist but didn't quite know why! Though I love the original Stephen King novel, I'm the first to understand that you cannot make a totally faithful adaptation of ANY book, even less so THIS one! But some of the changes made by Writer Peter Filardi are pointless and illogical - minor characters (in the novel) get way more screen time than they need to, without any clear resolution to their story strands. Of the main characters, one pivotal character, Matt Burke is bizarrely transformed from being an elderly WHITE teacher, to a forty-ish, gay black man(!!???)why Filardi made such a change seems to result from a somewhat outdated perception of political correctness gone mad.

The Susan Norton character, in what seems like a contradiction of said political correctness, is reduced from being a schoolteacher, to the Manager of a Diner. The main Ben Mears character, goes from being a Novelist to a War Journalist, who apparently was at one time held hostage by the Taliban!!! - Go figure.

Usually when you adapt a novel as character-heavy as 'Salems Lot you condense and/or merge characters, which is completely understandable. But you don't (pointlessly) change characters backgrounds, ethnicity or sexual orientation! Maybe Filardi felt the urge to put his own individual stamp on this adaptation and thats why he made these unnecessary changes. Or maybe he is just an idiot.

Director Mikael Salomon seems to think, when it comes to the scare set-pieces, that he's directing action scenes. For example, the rapid-fire editing seriously undermines Danny Glick's vampiric nocturnal visit to Mark Petrie and is so very badly set-up that is generates zero tension/suspense and is over and done with before you've finished blinking.

This man needed to either watch the 1979 adaptation Directed by Tobe Hooper, or simply check out anything Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, this way he would have been able to give the scarier scenes the correct pace/pitch they are so desperately lacking.

If after this, Salomon gets a better gig than directing traffic, I'll be very surprised.

The Cast fare much better than the Writer and Director on this piece, Rob Lowe is very good as central character Ben Mears, Andre Braugher (despite the character re-definition) is good and believable and kudos should go to the excellent James Cromwell, as well as Samantha Mathis, Robert Mammone, Donald Sutherland and the talented Daniel Byrd as a very underwritten Mark Petrie. The one exception being Rutger Hauer, as arch-vampire Barlow, in a badly underwritten role. He seems mis-cast, uncertain and underused.

The mini-series has wonderful Production Design, excellent Photography, clever Visual Effects and really looks like New England, despite the fact that it was shot in Australia! Overall this version of what is now a classic American novel comes very short of the mark, a pity really, all blame for the artistic failure of this adaptation should fall at the feet of it's Writer, the Director and also at the feet the Producer Mark Wolper.

Shame on you.


Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Better than EP's 1 & 2, but still flawed . . .
Well, what can I say, I approached Revenge of the Sith with some trepidation, but was pleasantly a point.

I'm no fan of Phantom Menace, and though Attack of the Clones was sort of an improvement, they both suffered from the same problem; heavyweight plot ideas, supported by weak, underwritten, adolescent screenplays.

RotS shows some improvement in the area of writing, but only to a degree, George Lucas really should handed over scripting duties to a REAL writer who would been able to shape his story ideas into the mature, fully-rounded scripts they needed to be - do I have to cite Empire? It strikes me that Lucas has problems with younger audiences in terms of trusting their level of sophistication with plotting and character development - witness the way the romance between Anakin and Amidala was handled in TPM - mawkish, adolescent and clumsy, are words that spring to mind.

Direction on RotS is what you'd expect from George Lucas, breathtaking visuals, impressive handling of action, but a certain unrefined quality to non-action/special effects scenes. One suspects that Lucas is either impatient and/or uncomfortable with character-based scenes and feels compelled to move the action along just in case the audience loses interest and becomes bored - this is his flaw, Lucas doesn't TRUST his viewers attention span and therefore the story suffers.

But these are minor issues when compared to the talentless wretch of a so-called actor that is Hayden Christensen, whose non-performance seriously undermines Revenge of the Sith. It shocks me that with the wealth of acting talent in North America, that Lucas could have cast such a pivotal character as Anakin Skywalker SO badly.

I've seen table legs give better performances than this young man, who brings an entirely new definition to the term 'wooden acting' - his acting in RotS consists mainly of intense stares, more intense stares and for good measure, even more intense stares.

This lack of thespian skills on the behalf of Mr. Christensen is very much highlighted when he has to share screen time with any of his peers - Ewan McGregor (Obi Wan) acts Christensen out of the water, as does Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine) even a VERY badly underwritten Natalie Portman (Amidala) acts the socks off her screen lover.

As one would expect of a George Lucas film, production values are very high - Costumes, Production Design, Editing, Visual Effects are superb and even the Digital Cinematography looks good (for a change!).

All in all, as the last (non-chronological) entry in the Star Wars saga, Revenge of the Sith acquits itself quite well - despite some of the shortcomings.



Wes Cravens regrets . . .
Seems that Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson were pretty hard done by - Dimension Films gave them a rough time during the shooting of the picture and afterwards in post-production.

Originally intended to be R-rated, Craven turned in his cut which was then taken away from him and hacked to a lame PG-13 by the studio, understandably Wes Craven is very annoyed with Dimension. He feels that they damaged the film and hurt it's chances of success.

Personally, I'm not a huge Wes Craven fan - always thought his Direction to very workman-like and predictable - but he was strong on ideas and was becoming more skilled a craftsman. This was displayed in the Scream series (which, by the way I loathe!!) where he was at last starting to show some real Directorial flair - despite Williamson's idiotic scriptwriting!

I was looking forward to seeing Craven handle a more 'traditional' kind of horror movie - pity he got such a raw deal by the studio.

I had hopes for this movie - I've always preferred supernatural-themed horror movies over the psycho-in-a-mask genre of Jason, Michael Myers, Scream etc. But these hopes have been dashed by a studio, who like so many others, feel compelled to 'soften' horror pictures to the point where they lose any edge they might have had.

Interested to see which version ends up on DVD...!

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