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Shashame ... it could have been a 10!
Shazam! had all the makings of a GREAT DCEU installment. Very funny, great potential for action, and a character that everybody loves. It is, in this reviewer's opinion, one of the best DC comics to come to screen.

The challenge that DC comics has had was their inability to bring levity in their movies. Shazam!, as a 14-year old turn late-20/early30-something hero, is ripe with opportunity! Unfortunately, they use 75% of their "funny" to promote the movie. What you get in the theater, is the story, which is good, the action, which is good, and the profanity, which is way too much. Thus, what could have been GREAT, turns out to be good.

Wait, wait, profanity? Yes, though it's more of the garden variety, Shazam! has more sh** than probably all of the Marvel Studio movies combined! They had to earn that PG-13 somehow, so this is how they did it. And since PG-13 has accounted for nearly half of all money made by all movies made over the last decade, there was no way this move could be "just PG." And that's a real Shashame!

Jack Ryan

Not for anyone who loves the movies ... or the books
Tom Clancy's writing is extremely good. It doesn't need any of the over used plot conveniences and crutches that others depend on. This series writing is run-of-the-mill. This show uses the surprise F-bomb, or sex, or completely unnecessary character antagonisms with regularity. It's a long way to fall. If you are new to Clancy, or the action spy drama all together, you will probably enjoy this. The acting, action, and production value will carry it a long way. If you are more experienced, have seen a few Ryan movies, or Jason Borne, and you prefer to rely on script intrigue over low-hurdle formula, this will tire quickly. The profanity was especially disappointing. It's really too bad because the creators are both pretty darn good.

Downton Abbey: Episode #4.3
Episode 3, Season 4

Uncharacteristically Lazy Writing
Every writer can have an off day, even an off week or month. But in the midst of such general excellence, I was painfully disappointed to see such contrivance on Downton Abbey. The hallmark of lazy writing is when characters suffer a change in personality for the sake of a plot twist. We see them behave in ways quite different, or in the case of Anna, opposite to what they have been up until that point. When you see what was being setup you cannot help but think; Oh, what a stretch. When you add to that the other hallmark of writer laziness, characters being introduced for the sheer purpose supporting a plot twist, Deus ex machina of a sort, then you know ... something went terribly wrong in the writing room that week.

Perhaps they were still reeling from the loss of other central characters, or there was a dip in the ratings. Maybe it only seem overly convenient and contrived due to other changes in cast. But whatever the reason, this one was an insult to the intelligence of the Downton Abbey audience. I would go as far as to call it a breech of contract between entertainer and entertainee. An obvious contrivance beneath the stature of the series lowering it into lazy and unnecessary melodrama.

Scorpion: Tech, Drugs, and Rock 'n Roll
Episode 6, Season 2

An Insult to Viewers with Brains
Scorpion takes liberties with logic, and scripting convenience, we all know that, but we enjoy the show enough to keep watching. But this episode was so illogical as to send me in search of who was responsible. It was such a complete train wreck (no pun towards the next episode intended) that I thought our viewing days were numbered.

So much of this show was insulting that it would exhaust my word limit to cover them all. The insults that spring to mind: Firemen standing around while people are banging on the "bulletproof" GLASS DOORS suffocating is an insult to firefighters (how about, "stand back, we're going to back this vehicle through the side windows."). Conversely, breaking shatter proof glass with the velocity and lack pin point impact generated from a sling-shot pen is an insult to physics majors. Having a person with a fear of heights climb out of a high rise building onto a retractable solar panel is an insult to everyone who has such fears. And it doesn't take a genius to see that a person of Sylvester's proportions plummeting 10 feet onto a 2 foot by 3 foot solar panel, that bends (rather than breaks) and maintaining his balance as it angles away from the building is impossible ... and an insult to anyone with a brain of even modest proportion. There's also the kid's comic books that were left to burn when they could have been dropped to Walter below. That along with the comic book humidor seemed like deliberate foreshadowing for something that they could not fit in to the episode. Horrible script, horrible direction, even the acting was sub par.

There is incredible competition for our viewing time. Another dog like this and our household will be done with Scorpion.

Twelve Mile Road

If you like uplifting movies AVOID THIS MOVIE!!!
Every movie tells a story or communicates a concept. This movie, unfortunately, tells several sad stories, while it communicates a variety of negative concepts. It marks a low-water mark in Hallmark television. I wish I had never watched it.

Avoiding too many details, The primary male lead (Tom Selleck) is a horrendously poor father, and the back story shows that he pulled the old switcheroo on his family, completely upending their lives. He provides zero parenting, and about as much financial stability. His wife was wrong to leave him ("for better or worse") and the nightmare daughter that results is very poorly matured within the story. She perpetrates a crime on screen for which she is NEVER held accountable. That crime should NOT have been shown. Indicated, suggested, communicated, sure, but shown in detail--in all it's evil--never! Especially because she got away with it! If you love animals it will break your heart. Redemption is important, but repentance is a part of true redemption, and this movie misses that mark a dozen times. One concept they seemed to clearly communicate is "bad things happen to good people." Okay, that's true ... but generally speaking, far more good things happen, and even the "bad" things tend to turn in favor of good people. But not in this movie. I watch Hallmark to avoid this sort of thing. If I want lame melodrama I can tune into Lifetime!

You get the sense that somewhere along the lines this was a really great movie. It probably started out that way on paper. But in the end it's a thoughtless assault disguised as a good movie.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas

Incredibly well written / crafted
It is rare to see a special-episode that is so carefully well crafted. The script had a lot to accomplish and it did so with excellence. Having followed the series, my household watched in amazement as newcomers in our audience picked up on and enjoyed as if they'd been following the show all along. The series core strength is its abundance sentiment, with nuances of miracles / belief in God. For the Christmas 2-hour episode they "took it up a notch" in both areas, yet were never heavy handed or preachy. Amazing. This series, perhaps better than any other on television, weaves fun and funny suspense that manages to draw the viewer in tugging on heart-strings along the way.

Death Comes to Pemberley

Great Story - Wrong Adaptation
This would have been a great murder mystery had it not attempted a sacrilegious mangling of well know characters. It is Star Wars where Darth Vader is also Han Solo's father (think what that does to Han & Leia's relationship), or Gone with the Wind where Ashley poisoned Melanie so he could marry Scarlet; Great mysteries to unpack for your audience, but utterly and completely wrong for the original characterizations. Once de-shackled from Pride & Prejudice, this is a very solid mystery. Too bad, we just can't enjoy it in it's current disfigured form. It's simply too "Mission Impossible where Mr. Phelps is a bad guy."

The Dick Van Dyke Show: Uhny Uftz
Episode 3, Season 5

Very Funny Season 5 Episode! But edited when aired on TV Land
This is a classic bit of what had become a staple of the Dick Van Dyke show, the comedy mystery. It has the team working late into the night/morning. When left alone, Rob sees something he cannot identify and the comedy ensues. Other than an oddly uncharacteristically dry Sally Rogers, it is a very funny episode, especially for season five (their last).

Curiously, when TV Land aired the episode in 2013 the did so minus what is arguably the funniest line. It's still a great episode, but (spoiler alert) at the point when Buddy returns to the office to get something he left, Rob, having just heard the UFO say "uhny uftz" again is certain that Buddy is pranking him. He says "Buddy, you son-of-a-gun, you Uhny Uftz me!" to which Buddy replies the missing line of "Rob, I've done some terrible things in my life, but I've never Uhny Uftz nobody!" The typically great Morey Ansterdam delivery is just perfect, but for reasons I would love to know, TV Land airs a version with the line removed!

Home Run

A Must See - High Quality Story, Acting and Production
Home Run is a very good and very simple story; more main-stream than Facing the Giants, Fireproof, or even Courageous. It chronicles the career of a major-league baseball player whose excesses get the best of him. We watch and enjoy the repair of his life and the lives of those around him. Due to it's simplicity and perhaps audience apathy towards this genre, Home Run will likely prove to be one of the most underrated films in a long time. It is of a recent slate of Christian message movies, and carries a certain pro-Celebrate Recovery message... but to summarize it as only that would do this movie and potential viewers a tremendous disservice. Get out and see it, or at least get the DVD! It is well directed, very well produced, and has the best acting of any movie in this group. On par anything out of Hollywood.

Henry & June

haven't seen it, but IMDb photo database is wrong!
Not a review, just a note to your web team that the photos are all wrong, and don't show who they say they show. It's sad that I have to write 10 lines of text for a review. Some movies don't deserve 10 lines, but in this case I'm not even reviewing the movie. Oh well, my "good deed" for the day has become a chore. If this does not post, I'm simply going to go on, letting one of my favorite sites, proceed in error. This does not feel like 10 lines yet, but I've got other things to do. I could review Henry & June, but it strikes me as somewhat pornographic, which I do not watch nor condone. Simply because it damages young minds. If you are an adult, or if you and your spouse want to get that feeling is one thing, but for young boys and girls it really can cause relationship and marriage problems when watched before an age of 25 or so. Okay. That's it. Bye!

Super 8

The Future of Filmmaking Hinges on THIS Movie!
Movie lovers, we are at a crossroad, and nothing shy of the future of filmmaking hangs in the balance. Call me a forecaster of doom if you will, but ask the record-industry of the precarious point the movie industry now finds itself. In Super 8 we have a bridge to the future which hails from movie-making past; a connection to an open door of variety and comedy and emotion that we had better not be too dull to see, less we lose it forever.

Super 8 is more than just the excellent thrill ride that others have so adequately described in this forum. It's a break from the rut that the industry is slippery sliding its way into. A movie that actually delivers more than it's trailer promises. And one that rises above the super-trailer-formula-for-success that appears crucial to survive the increasingly difficult and competitive battle to claim your entertainment dollars.

In our times, and in a darkening future looming on the horizon, movies do not need a good story, they just have to have a great promotional trailer and solid first two weekends at the box office to cover the investment. Anything that can be sufficiently hyped qualifies as entertainment in that sad world. But Super 8 seeks to stem the tide. Not only did it eschew the wham-bam super-trailer--it was more curiosity invoking than anything else--but the strength move was in its story! With layers of intrigue and plot angle like you get from a first rate novel, it will stands up well on small screens, and works for adults and children alike. The great books that became movies in the 70s had that. The outstanding screenplays of the 50s had that. And if we have any sense at all, we'll rush out and see this movie in droves and encourage others to create great cinema. Movie-going is depending on you, GO!


Knowing is a rare, outstandingly excellent movie, but not for everyone...
Knowing is without a doubt one of the most intriguing movies of all time. Think along the lines of Julianne Moore in "The Forgotten" but in every way better. It presents the question: What do you do, what CAN you do if you know something bad is going to happen before it happens?

Many MANY will be challenged by the ending, but in my opinion that's a little like being upset that so many people drowned in the Poseidon Adventure. It's a movie about a guy who has fore knowledge of disasters... people are gonna die, and there's always a chance that it may not end as you hoped (which is true of any action movie). Along the way you will enjoy watching a movie where the characters have to deal with circumstances that they do not all of a sudden become super-humans with knowledge and abilities not present at the beginning of the movie in order to tackle them... you know, like in real life. In that sense it is styled like one of the classic 50s horror movies, but it is not "horror," but rather thought provoking science fiction.

Simply put, if you enjoy movies on their own merit, if you enjoy watching a mystery unfold, this movie is one of the best ever!

The Day the Earth Stood Still

A Simple Review of a Simple Problem in Hollywood...
The Day The Earth Stood Still remake is a poor movie and a terrible remake. Forgive me, since I just wasted nearly two hours watching it I have not the patience to spend more than 10-minutes warning others.

Judged on it's own, it's merely slow, stupid, and uneventful (with some weak performances thrown in for good measure). Judged in comparison to the 50s classic, it essentially lets you down in every possible area. To wit, the original had The Cool Ship, The Impressive Giant Robot, The Deep Message and, oh, the Earth Standing Still! The remake blows every last one of those, even the Earth standing still is less effectively done and seemingly without purpose, which brings me to my original point. Hollywood has forgotten how to tell a good story! They've forgotten that a good story must have purpose and some believability and reason and that we need to care about somebody or something. Mark my words, if the industry is to be saved, they need help from someone who can read a script like this and ask intelligent questions; questions like: What's the purpose in the kid being so bratty? Who shot Klaatu and what triggered it? How can we believe that the US has the equipment & technology to move something like Gort, and why did we develop it (for the previous 50ft killer robot)? Why would the Secretary of State (or did she say Defense) just follow orders to attack Klaatu when she knows they've exhausted everything and gotten nowhere? Why would a civilization as advanced as Klaatu's need to have a face-to-face at a McDonalds? Why didn't the we see the UN convene over this world crisis? And the kicker for me: Why wouldn't Helen (Connely's character) have called the Secretary (Kathy Bates) and told her this simple and vital sentence: "If any harm comes to Klaatu we are doomed, he's the only one who can stop the swarm of destructo-bugs." If they could clear the highway for her to at the beginning of the movie, wouldn't they do at least that to save all humanity! Let us pray for Hollywood, else, they haven't got a prayer!

The First Wives Club

One of the worst movies for good men and great women I've ever seen!
I was one of two men who watched "The First Wives Club" in a room full of 9 women! It was incredibly interesting to watch both the movie and the variety of reactions to it in this audience of married, divorced, and never married family and friends. As for the movie itself, I found it to be typical Hollywood in it's plot and comedy; full of obligatory characters and as predictable as anything, but with enough witty lines to get me to laugh four, perhaps five times in the 102 minutes, mostly in the first 1/2 hour. In the end my opinion was that this movie was simply too predictable, the story too sad, and if not for great lines and delivery by Beth Midler, a painfully pathetic waste of time! I won't take too much time justifying my opinion other than to say ** SPOILER COMING** Midler's character, while funny, was sad and angry, with insufficient money or decent child support, Keaton's character who was sad and wouldn't stand up for herself, is viciously betrayed not only by her husband but by her therapist, and Hawn's character was just a sad stereotype of Hollywood self-centeredness. Some would say, that's the point, when the movie ends, they are all better... oh really? I will grant you they have a successful venture, but of the three only Midler's Brenda seems to be better off socially...which was point of the whole stink in the first place was it not?! Simply put, the remedy for a philandering husband that doesn't love or respect you isn't to ruin his career and start a new business, it's to have him wake up to his foolishness, admit that he was wrong, and (if you'll have him) show you the love and respect that you deserved; only Brenda's husband does that. And please don't call it a great "womens" movie, because the cruelest blows in the show were delivered by reprehensible women upon our unsuspecting four leads. Two of which, Sarah Jessica Parker's character and Marcia Gay-Harden's character get away scot-free with not so much as a stereotypical slap to the face! So, so much for the movie, it is by no means something women should be proud of. And where it does women a disservice, it is an out and out insult to men! Scarcely a single redeemable male in the entire movie! Four out of four leads are deadbeats! 100% stinker rating for men! Are all men really that horrendously horrible? Out of 4 college friends ALL FOUR have cheating spouses that invariably toss them aside for younger women? Is there no balance in the world at all? So by the same measure, if Olivia Goldsmith writes a vampire move EVERYBODY is a vampire? This is simply ridiculous and very hurtful to the decent men who DO exist! Some would argue, well this is just a movie, just a comedy... it's a farce. Well to that I ask with genuine concern, what is it about a movie like this that you find so enjoyable? Are you thinking it's about time men got paid back for all their cruelty? Is this TRULY the state of women in your mind? 'cause I saw this movie with 9 women varying in age from 30 to late 70s, and the least of them was ten times better that the best of these 4 pathetic women! Those who'd suffered through divorce and/or infidelity have moved on, and found life and love and success that had nothing to do with getting "everything" from "man who'd done them wrong." In fact the women I know and love (starting with my terrific wife) do not need to beat down someone in order to feel good about themselves. They are great women, beautiful, successful and strong, who've triumphed over adversity and are happy with what God has given them. That is the kind of woman that men who love and respect women are looking for, and they avoid closet male-bashers like the plague! If you are one who LOVED this movie and at the same time think there are no quality men in the world, perhaps you should examine what this movie says about you.

The Bridges of Madison County

An absolutely terrible "romance" movie! Is it just me, or is love no longer a part of romance?
Bridges of Madison County is probably the worst so-called romance movie I have ever seen. If you disagree answer these questions: Why would Francesca believe he loves her? Because of a few "lines" professing his, what? Great opportunity? His good times with her? What he said was "This kind of certainty comes but once in a lifetime." What was "certain" about it? Was it more "certain" than the wife he divorced without regret? Romance note, before you trash your life, such as it is, and run off with someone who has managed to abandon one marriage, and looks down on commitment in general, AT LEAST know that he loves you! And if he really does, he will NOT ask you to abandon your children!

Another question; What exactly did he see in her? What was so special and different to leave him without sense enough to come in from the rain? Are these two "soul-mates," or is she just a woman who needs to feel loved and frustrated enough with her life to have sex with a total stranger. Was the sex sooooo life altering that he was willing to finally settle down? Passion and love, let's not confuse the two, one can last four days, perhaps a week, maybe a year... the other a lifetime. Sure, drop everything and go... he's got nothing to lose, while she'll lose what little she has. That is NOT romance, it's sad. It's insulting. The more you think about it, the more his "certainty" plays like a pickup line.

And when did these DEEP LASTING emotions develop, from the 3 or 4 conversations they had? While driving along in the truck? Or was it when they were soiling the sheets in the bed where she was to sleep with her husband? Which brings me to the issue of infidelity, and the dim view of marriage in general? He doesn't seem to value it, she "suffers" through it. In this lopsided "romantic" story there's scarcely a happy couple to be found, let alone happily married one.

As a GUY who LOVES romance, please, PLEASE do not accept this counterfeit tripe of an offering as real romance. Hollywood has gotten so lazy as to toss us a scrap and expect us to gobble it up as fillet! A man who asks a woman to leave her husband, and her kids who are "almost grown" is thinking of himself. A REAL man, and REAL love would offer to do whatever you wanted to make YOU happy. He would say I cannot bear to lose you BEFORE you had to have a conniption-fit in the kitchen. HE would be devastated on that last day BEFORE you served breakfast, before you did anything, and would take you by the hand and ask you to sit down, and with a lump in his throat the size of Iowa look you in the eyes and ask, "What are WE going to do?" THAT is romance. It's not a 4-day teenage fling with older actors. It's no-matter-what, 'till the end, 'till death do us part!

HUSBANDS listen up! Your wives are quietly telling you something. Get busy and do your duty as a husband. Sure she's adjusted her life for you, sometimes sacrificially, but you are bound to do all within your power to see that she is happy and fulfilled! She should feel LOVED!

Gilmore Girls

I'm a guy, and a Christian! and I watch this show! For now...
As already commented, if you write this show off as "just for girls" (which is easily done, I mean the title IS Gilmore GIRLS, not Gilmore DUDES, or Gilmore FOLKS) you would be making a huge mistake, especially if you are a student of brilliant dialog, logical and consistent character development, and especially… relationships! Gilmore Girls is probably the most mature example of family, friend, parental, and of course, love-interest relationship on television.

If you're a football, Fear Factor and WWF Smackdown kind-of-guy, then, well sadly (or perhaps thankfully), other than sports, there's not much on the dial for you. But if you've found guilty pleasure in Seinfeld, Friends, or even Smallville, you will find The Gilmore Girls wittier, more consistent, and in many ways better written than any of those. It's a show that at first viewing you think, humm that wasn't bad, it was funny and light. But as you get to know the people, who are all well fleshed-out characters, you can really sit back and enjoy. And being a guy let me tell you the two female leads are extremely easy-on-the-eyes. Lauren Graham... well, since my wife just might read this some day, let just say Wow! The scripts on The Gilmore Girls are as fast as lightning, and run the gamut from side-ache funny to sad and very touching. The mother daughter relationship is without a doubt the best ever shown on television, and I leave it to you to decide to which mother and daughter I refer. It plays on the backdrop of the wacky quirky town of Stars Hollow, where people "are who they are." The writers have good time exploiting personalities, with real insight into the way people behave. The stuff that happens makes sense (not like on Friends). Relationships that "should" evolve do, and those that you think are doomed indeed fall apart.

Now in all fairness I will admit the show is somewhat slanted towards the female population (lot's of handsome male roles, lot's of insight into how women handle situations), and it could really stand another solid male character besides Luke Danes (I discount Chris 'cause he's immature, and Mr. Gilmore cause he's rarely on). But on the plus side, with all that female dialog and insight, as a REAL guy who needs to try and figure that gender out, I gotta tell you could do a lot worse! Also in fairness to any Christian who endeavors to watch this show, for reasons I cannot guess, the writers do take an occasional swipe at things we hold sacred. You can rationalize it away, but Rory's "I'm sick of Jesus…" line (referencing Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ") and other lines like this will not sit well in the pit of your stomach. Some will be able to ignore or gloss over it, some will not. I write this as a warning, to both viewers and the writers. It's completely unnecessary, it's pushing my family away from the show, and it damages an otherwise brilliant piece of television dramedy.

The Day After Tomorrow

Sometimes... special effects ARE enough!
No spoilers, the weather's gone haywire, and as Twain put it "everyone complains about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it." The events of "The Day After Tomorrow" are exciting, and quite obviously too big for anyone to "fix," so now what. And that's where the film attempts to hold your attention for slightly more than 2 hours. If you remember to turn on your suspension of belief, you will have a very entertaining time. Is it scientific? I-I-I dunno, it shouldn't get in the way of your enjoying the movie. The thinking of the characters are another matter entirely, but in the hope of "no spoilers," I'll leave that alone.

The acting is in some spots excellent, Quaid, Ward and Holm shine... others not so much. Yes, YES it's loaded with cliche', and the script falters in those details, but I would dare say that the starring role is that of the special effects themselves, and the weather effects in particular never fail to satisfy. Viewers in my audience actually squirmed in there seats as the various meteorological catastrophes unfolded.

Do people die unnecessarily? Do they make obviously stupid decisions that bring about their own demise? Well, isn't that the very definition of cliche in a disaster movie? One thing that caught this viewers attention. The script at one point seems to make a confusing/non-statement about belief in God... and a half stab at religion. It was the most pointless moment in the film, and considering the US audience (and the runaway success of "The Passion...") perhaps it would have been better to leave that sequence on the cutting room floor.

In the end, the lead performer, aka, the visual effects team, delivers the goods. With the exception of one creature effect, their performance is simply the new (forgive the pun) high-watermark for all weather effects. Their contribution dragged what would have ordinarily been only a 5 up to 8 on a scale of 1-10.

The Passion of the Christ

Once you set the controversy aside, all you have left is an excellent movie!
Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" is very hard to watch. That's not a criticism; it's just a reality. The movie has gone somewhere that no other movie about this event has ever gone… stark realism. Did he HAVE to go this route? No, but why shouldn't he have? Everyone who has ever read the written version of this knows that it was just plain awful, and very hard to watch. In fact, if we were actually there, most of us would have turned away. Likewise, in this movie, many viewers are at times forced to cringe, tightly squeeze their eyes shut, or otherwise turn away. This movie is the most excellent and realistic depiction of the horrible whipping, brutal beating, and inhumanely cruel form of capital punishment endured in an incomprehensible act of sacrificial love.

It is also a brilliant piece of filmmaking. From the use of first century languages, (Latin, Hebrew, and Aramaic) and the symbolic interpretations of evil and temptation, to the beautiful (seemingly authentic) score and heartbreaking examples of love, the viewer is actually left wanting for more… in spite of all the pain. Mr. Gibson's film manages to portray a Jesus that we would have loved to known. He seems like a very nice guy. His relationship with his mother seemed so tender and healthy, and his disciples all seem to like him… as opposed to simple revere him. There's just so much hope.

When we see him treated so cruelly, perhaps more cruelly than anyone has shown anyone treated on film, it is, quite frankly, very hard, and borders on the unbelievable. But this also is not a criticism. Again, the movie has chosen to go where others have not. It asks us to watch the results of whip on skin, and actually counts the number of blows given in this type of scourging. To see that on film IS hard to believe! It forces us to ask, who could take such a beating! And more controversially, who would deliver such a beating. No one would want such a charge laid at their feet. The movie does show that the Romans were cruel (even monstrous) and Jewish leaders were pig-headed, and ultimately responsible for the death sentence placed on Jesus. Does it do so incongruently with text from which it is derived? No. It is as accurate as any one director can be in one movie. Mel Gibson and Benedict Fitzgerald have pulled from various passages of scripture to piece together the best depiction that they could. I would argue that it is the best depiction that has ever been.

But then there's the controversy. My take is, if you believe that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God, and He really did come here to be a sacrifice for all mankind, then by definition your life's goal is to bring the world to that understanding. Someone HAD to sentence Him to death. And someone HAD to carry out His crucifixion. If it weren't the Jews and the Romans, it would have been the Greeks and the Babylonians, or the Africans and the Assyrians, or whoever. It wasn't by mistake that He died, nor did anyone "take" his life. The Bible is clear; God ordained it, and Jesus "laid down" His life. Anyone with ANY belief at all should be all the more concerned for those who God selected to do the deed. They need Him as much as any of us, and are by far the least likely to feel open to receive Him as the Son of God.

Conversely, if you do not believe Jesus was the Christ, then this movie is simply a gut wrenchingly close-up view of the cruelty of man, and the cruel death sentence of a great man; whose followers would continue to grow in number until this day. It has no basis to cause tension and hatred toward any one group of people for the very reasons just stated. Those who believe will be spurn to do more to help non-believers see it their way. Those who don't… won't. And as for those who are simply looking for an excuse to hate, and a reason to be cruel? Well, it's better they are dug out from their demonic places here and now and exposed them to the light so that they too can find the true meaning of love and sacrifice that this movie is all about.

Sure it's very hard to watch. Everyone cheers to know that a parent would place their life in jeopardy for the sake of their children, but no one wants to see them actually die a cruel death. And at the very least, we all need to know that the children were grateful, and grew up to honor the memory of their parents as decent and contributing members of society. This is where "The Passion of the Christ" leaves you. You so desperately want to know that all that sacrifice was worth it, that the whole world would honor the memory of His death. Your heart is left in limbo, your emotions are wrought and ragged, and you are mentally unable to account for the two hours and 6 minutes that have gone by. Sure it was painful, and chances are you cried, winced, and at times hid your face from it… yet you are left so desperately wanting for more; More of the hope that all will be better now.

The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John

Overwhelming authenticity, but a bit too long for wide-spread appeal
Gospel portrayals are always tough because typically your audience knows the material as well (or better) than the filmmakers. But I applaud this attempt. This team deserves kudos for authenticity, showing what really looks and feels like Jerusalem, but working primarily in Canada and Spain. The quality of the production is simply the best. The performances are good... not as awe-struck as I personally would prefer, but for the most part, believable. On occasion the narration seems to get in the way of the film... but again I'm nit-picking, I know that the Visual Bible people are committed to every word in the Bible. I only wish that it had been shorter so that those enjoying the film AND getting introduced to the messages of Jesus are not asked to sit through a three hour film. The number of movies that have been successful at the 180-minute mark are quite few, and none of them are as faithful to the book as this. I love the fact that it is faithful, but as an avid filmgoer, know that it will take an act of God to make this a world-wide runaway hit that I wish it could be. On a scale of 1-10, the best I could rate this version is a 7.

Life with Bonnie

Life with Bonnie is the best sitcom on Television!
I just needed to get that off my chest! fact so much better than the next best sitcom that it's not worth

trying to calculate. But depending on your opinion of the other

shows, that may or may not be saying much. Let me put my

opinion in a historical perspective and say that "Life with Bonnie" is

one of the best sitcoms EVER on Television! It's "Cosby Show"

good! It's "Happy Days" good! It's "Dick Van Dyke Show" good! It's

call all your friends, send e-mail, program your VCR and buy extra

tapes good! You know the type of good I'm talking about... so good

they couldn't copy it if they tried?! Perhaps the people responsible

for this show should have some decision making in all ABC

sitcoms because this show is BUY DISNEY STOCK GOOD!! Am I

making my point?!

Watching "Life with Bonnie" causes you to have a gentle smile for

at least 22 minutes of that hour. That is except for when you are in

the middle of a belly-laugh, or, when the writers want you to feel

sentiment thick enough to make you fight back tears. It's so

original, so clever, honest, sweet and hilarious all that the same

time! There are movie comedies that aren't as good as this show.

It's far far better than "Friends," because the whole family can

watch it. It's better than "...Raymond" or "Frasier" because it's

characters remain consistent, and the comedy is never at the

expense of one character's misery. These shows are often quite

good, but just not in the same league as "Bonnie." I was sad to

see Ms. Hunt's last show cancelled, but if only I knew ABC was

going sneak Ms Hunt away from CBS and launch this show I'd

never would have shed a tear. "The Bonnie Hunt Show" was

excellent, but this new show is simply the best! Everyone I know

who knows anything about quality TV loves this show!

Let me just close on this note. It may not have "Seinfeld's"

numbers 'cause there's just so much else on TV (none of it as

good, just so much to choose from), but make no mistake, this

show is a rare gem that will forever be remembered as one of the

great high-water marks of TV comedy.

The Visual Bible: Matthew

It's a miracle if you do this book justice...
Let's face it; if you have ever read a book before you saw the movie, the movie always paled in comparison. Some say that's because the movie could never do justice to what our own minds have pictured. The movie is destined, to some degree, to disappoint our vision of what things looked like as we read the authors words, and none of the actors will look or say things just as we envisioned it. Well if that's true, what would be the hardest book to film in the history of mankind? You guessed it, the Holy Bible; the best selling, and most widely read book of all time. And making matters more difficult is the fact that even those who haven't read the book will be comparing your portrayals to any of a half dozen that have come before.

Well, considering such extreme challenges, somehow director Reghardt van den Bergh, producer Dan Johnson and adapter Johann Potgieter have served up a miraculous production. It simply is a movie that rises above others on this near and dear topic. From the actors they selected to the locations, the resulting movie is simple and unadorned, and in this critic's opinion, the most easily received rendition ever produced. Devout and skeptic alike can enjoy this portrayal of a loving and greatly empathetic Christ. Bruce Marchiano, who plays Jesus, plays Him full of love and compassion. He's down to earth (no pun) and personally involved in the well being of everyone He meets. The viewer can feel His caring. It's simply the best portrayal to date. The supporting talent is also excellent in this production, which is so realistic it seems to be quiet. Now, as we all know, there is trauma in this story, and when appropriate, it does get uncomfortable to watch. but not gratuitously. They simply got it right. I realize that in the millions, or billions of other readers of this story, there's room for differing opinions, but upon second or third viewing, I think many would lean in this reviewer's direction. and I score this film a perfect 10.


Typical Shyamalan slow, creepy, realistic, fun, excellent!
This movie is slow, and yet it starts up with an event in the first minute. It's scary, and yet you're (almost) never really terrified. Advancing with Welles-like realism, it carefully chronicles world-changing strange events from the perspective of just one family in a small town, seemingly cut off from the rest of the world. At moments simultaneously reminiscent of both War of the Worlds and Night of the Living Dead, there's a mildly claustrophobic feeling to the entire film. Sometimes it's so suffocating, you are desperate for the sparsely placed moments of comedy. One could argue that it's so weighty, that it causes Mr. Shyamalan's role IN the movie to seem self-indulgent. Not as much as when Spike Lee does it, but bad enough to be a distraction. I probably wouldn't complain if the writer/director/producer AND actor had a better sense of how to use animals in his script. Without spoiling anything, I will say that the film does not disappoint the patient viewer. You will unravel both the story of the Hess family and their mysterious crop circles, even if one on top of the other. All that you patiently worked to figure out will come around for you in a very satisfying way.

The Ellen Show

A funny lady, a not so funny cause
Ellen D is without a doubt one of the funniest comedians to grace the screen. She has developed her comedic timing and delivery on par with many of the greats (Carol Burnett, Bob Newhart). She has also decided, or have had decided for her, that for the time being, her personal sexuality choices cannot be separated from her characters. So, once again, Ellen plays a homosexual. I found this profoundly disappointing. It's like Bill Cosby launching yet another sitcom in which he plays the upper middle class father of two or three kids. We've been there, and we've seen that. And even if immensely popular the first time, it does gets old. Add to that the fact that huge sections of her potential audience ran from her last outing in an extremely similar role, and that there are already successful series which feature openly gay characters, this stuck this viewer as essentially a waste of talent. If the argument in favor for this show is that gays need the exposure, in all fairness, gays are still 10 times better represented than Italians, Asians, Native Americans, the elderly, and the entire state of New Jersey. Nothing new to see here folks, move along.

Ultimo tango a Parigi

Why is everyone so afraid to tell it like it is!
This movie is simply weak porn. People who love movies will find it stupid, disgusting, and painfully embarrasing. People who love porn will find this movie stupid, boring, and... well, unless you like some homosexuality in your porn, painfully embarrasing. I saw this movie many years ago, tempted by it's "artsy" status. This is simply the worst idea that Mr. Brando has ever had. The worst film of this genre that I've ever seen, and just an awful movie experience from beginning to end.

Artificial Intelligence: AI

The "Spielberg bump" causes A.I. critics to give a too high a rating.
Steven Spielberg's latest directorial effort, A.I. is getting many scores of 7 and 8, out of a possible 10, but the 2 hour and 25 minute conceptual piece is really enjoying "the Spielberg bump." Many critics are being generous to Mr. Spielberg due to his many other excellent contributions.

Without spoiling the plot, these reviewers would have to admit that the story begins to drag somewhere about the 2 hour mark. It is so "deep," not many young teens will enjoy it, and the effects, while outstanding, are not good enough to carry what was essentially, a sad story. I think that the Amblin-Machine, known for (among other accolades) brilliant adaptations, esteemed too highly the adaptation from the late Stanley Kubrick. Which is sad because Mr. Kubrick, who loved serving "deep," thought-provoking films, like 2001 A Space Odyssey, and Dr. Strangelove, was clearly not at the top of his game (example, Eyes Wide Shut) when he adapted this sci-fi drama. It is so dark, and such a downer, that those touches of Spielberg that are sprinkled in, only serve to frustrate the audience with false hope, and make the experience unfulfilling.

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