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Reviews

The Mars Generation
(2017)

The adults are great, the kids are hard to watch
This film lays out the history of plans for human exploration of mars very well, especially Warner von Braun's involvement. However the brief interviews with kids attending space camp or hard to watch, while I appreciate their passion , That passion quickly turns to overconfidence, needlessly peppering their speech with technical jargon. That passion comes off more as cosplay unfortunately

Whiz Kids
(1983)

Whiz Kids on You Tube
Search for "Whiz Kids" on YouTube.com and you'll find 8 full episodes (broken into 5 parts each). Don't know if they've entered the public domain or if the powers that be haven't found them yet.

Seeing this show brought back some great memories. This show also cemented my computer interest and headed me towards to a Computer Science degree for me as well.

Yeah it's cheesy but very little of what was being described in the show was possible in the early to mid 80's. Today it's pretty common place and the security is nearly as bad.

I'd love to see this come out on DVD. I'd like to have a decent quality copy.

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
(2007)

So much potential, so little of it realized
What a great concept, a magical toy store. Couple that with an excellent performance by Dustin Hoffman. Unfortunately the positives stop there.

This film was horrible written. Conflicts are introduced, plod along and then are never resolved. I'm not talking about leaving something hanging to open the door for a sequel. Several plot lines were just dropped cold. It's as if the writer saw the stacks of pages and said "Wow, I've to wrap this up now".

The magical toy shop has so much potential but never shines. It could be a character in the story but is just an extra in the background.

Portman's character is supposed to conflicted, even coming-of-age but just comes off as whiny. Her worst performance to date.

Bateman's character adds little to the story yet receives major screen time. Just as he's being framed as the man who learns to play again, the film ends, unresolved. Did the character learn anything? Has he changed? Or is he just humoring Mills's character? Who knows? And no, this isn't a film where conclusions are left to the audience. It's a bridge built 3/4 across a river than just stops. My nomination for this year's Razzie.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
(2006)

it's all about the timing
With all of the discussion of the political incorrectness of this movie, one of the best things about it is being overlooked, the timing.

Like Spinal Tap, producers have mastered delivering the joke and cutting immediately to the next establishing shot which makes the laugh even bigger.

Also the biggest laugh of the film came not from some anti-semitic, racist, sexist or similar offensive comment but from when a saddened Borat drops his bag and you hear a muffled chicken cluck. The audience had forgotten about the chicken in Borat's bag at that point. Great timing.

Yes I know I'm over analyzing this dumb movie but it's that good. Comedies are going to be measured up against this one for a long time.

Miami Vice
(2006)

glad I didn't pay full price
The only bright spot in this movie was the music and John Ortiz.

The music was a surprisingly good collection of music you'd hear in a club, a refreshing mix of Latin and house. The remake of "In the Air Tonight" was cheesy but at least they saved that for the end credits.

John Ortiz's character was great, he really brought life to that role. A great contrast to Li Gong's lifeless portrayal of the "business woman" and Colin Farrell's wet dishrag full of rage impression. Actually Jamie Foxx wasn't bad, he just didn't add much. At least he didn't go over the top like I was sure he would.

The rest of the movie was dull and uninteresting. I was surprised that there was a plot but it still wasn't a very captivating one. If you are looking for an action movie, skip this one, the action scenes are few and far apart. I'd call this soft core porn faster than I'd call it action (the sex scenes were poorly done and added little to the story At least it wasn't a rehash of the 80's show. It could have been worse. But I don't like that being the best thing I can say about a movie: "it could have been worse".

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
(2004)

Go for the fun, don't go for depth
This film has a very interesting look and is a good way to introduce movie goers to classic sci fi films.

That being said, the acting is wooden. All the actors seem very uncomfortable in front of the blue screen. They barely interact with each other, much less the environment. It's obvious that actors are picking a point on the wall and staring at it instead of visualizing the killer robot they are staring at in the final cut. The acting is partially at fault here but most of that lies in the director's lap.

Parts of this movie come off as being cheesy but go back and watch the Indiana Jones films and you'll find similar cheesy moments (though not as many). Cheesy can be good, especially in a film that pays homage to so many styles so many hold so deer.

While this isn't a great film, it is good. It's worth seeing just for the effective combination of film noire, classic sci-fi and adventure techniques.

The Day After Tomorrow
(2004)

An interesting remake of Independence Day
Take out the aliens, replace them with weather. Take out the multiple massive motherships threatening major cities around the world, replace them with multiple massive storms. Keep the brainy yet misunderstood main character who's can explain what's going on and what's about to happen but nobody will listen. Destroy New York and Los Angeles, be sure to wreck only well known buildings. Keep the totally unrelated romantic subplot.

Take the arduous trek from New York to Washington, DC and flip it. Keep the product placement. Keep the technology, with lots and lots of monitors. Keep the oval office set, the worst one you can find in Hollywood. And most importantly, the first rule of summer blockbusters, never kill the dog.

Environmentalists hope that this film will at least get people talking about global warming. Perhaps it will educate a little about the interconnected nature of global climate and the importance of balance. The in your face nature of any special effects laden summer blockbuster disconnects the audience so much from any message that might be gained that it's effect is lost. This isn't a film, it's a video game.

Brother Bear
(2003)

mediocre at best
This is a great story told in such a choppy, disconnected manner that it really brings the whole film down. It's biggest problem is the storyboard. The exposition of the brothers and the wise-women lasts way too long. Children started asking where the bears where by 20 minutes into the film.

Nearly all the backgrounds are gorgeous and some of the animation is great but some looks rushed and too cutesy next to the better quality animation. Disney is to be applauded for producing a mostly 2-D animation film and we should stand up and cheer for creating a movie based on a new story rather than remake what has been done far too many times.

Overall, it was a nice attempt that had good promise but just doesn't deliver.

Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man
(2000)

Worst of the Cirque performances
I've seen 2 Cirque shows live and all the DVDs and programming on A&E, this is by far the worst. Cirque is known for trying to interconnect performances through of flimsily plot line, it's usually easily ignored. Not this one, it's forced upon you by the reappearance of the boy->man and the trite voiceovers.

The scenery is beautiful and the lighting is incredible but the performances and cinematography never seem to take full advantage of it. It's like owning a Ferrari and driving it around the block at 15 MPH, sure it's beautiful but it could be so much more.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(2001)

Okay, but far from incredible
I'm not a Fantasy fan and I find the author's work good but I dont share the same ferver that other reviewers do. That being said, I find this movie okay, but not the life changing experience that others have gushed about.

The 2 biggest problems with this film are the cinematography and the length.

length: This would have been so much more of a film had about 60 minutes been shaved off. Did the director fear the nitpicking fans so much that he couldn't bear to trim any more? Film is a visual medium and as such doesn't require the level of detailed exposition that the book does. I hope the next film will be a little more even handed but I wont be surprised to see it weigh in at 3:30 or more.

cinematography: 2 big problems here, first the lighting. Dark scense evoke a certain mood that can really help drive the story but like tool at the DP's disposal, too much of a good thing takes away from the overall film. While it makes sense to have the underground scenes be very dimly lit, the audience shouldn't have to struggle to see the characters for so long.

The second big problem is color, or the lack of it. Once the story leaves the shire, the color is so desaturated that it becomes distracting. Beautiful settings like those of the elves are destroyed by the overuse of this technique. While this too can evoke a desired mood, it is also too much of a good thing, both in the degree and duration it was used.

After the film I stood in the lobby and stared at colorful movie posters just to remind my brain what color looks like.

The current #2 rating (and one time #1) rating shows that this movie 75% hype. At least this time the hype is coming mainly from the audience and not the studios/media.

Moulin Rouge!
(2001)

bizarre movie
Moulin Rouge could have been best movie musical since the heydays of MGM, with it's unparralled sets, incredible theatrical style lighting, and last but not least it's massive musical and dance numbers, but sadly it falls short because all these things come crashing down as it becomes a parody of itself over and over throughout the film.

Including contemporary music, costuming and locations, yet reatining the classic story and dialog realy worked for Baz Luhrmann in his version of "Romeo + Juliet". These things drove the story and made it more accessible to a younger audience.

Moulin Rouge! didn't need this, the story stood on it's own and didn't need gimics to draw audiences in. The ridiculous overuse of contemporary music turned what could be a classic into Vaudville. Once it's clever, twice it's tollerable, but relying on this "joke" throughout the entire movie ruins it's entertainment value. One minute it's story and character development is drawing you in, the next minute a kareoke version of "Roxanne" is being belted out.

Event Horizon
(1997)

one of the worst movies I've ever seen
I've seen bad movies but never had the feeling of being cheated like I did leaving this movie.

Interesting concept, good special effects, horrible acting and an even worse script.

You couldn't pay me to sit through this movie again.

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