djmomo17

IMDb member since October 2006
    Lifetime Total
    10+
    IMDb Member
    14 years

Reviews

Spring
(2014)

Moody, romantic, funny, body-horror - Awesome and sticks in your mind.
This was kind of a shot in the dark for me (no pun intended), but another review comparing this to "Before Sunset" as a romantic body-horror flick intrigued me. It's an entirely appropriate analogy, and the two main characters here are as involving and likeable as the couple in the Linklater trilogy - hell, maybe more so. This also struck me in the way as the European "Let the Right One In" did - a great meld of moody, indie direction with fantasy-horror elements and crackling dialogue.

It starts as a directionless California punk named Evan travels to Italy to escape his dead-end life (and the cops). The first third is very much a straight hostelling adventure. However it switches gears somewhat when he meets the beautiful and mysteroious Louise who has a very cool but horrifying secret. The soundtrack by Album Leaf is electronic and moody. Highly recommended, especially if you like Richard Linklater, Nicholas Winding Refn, David Cronenberg and Giullermo Del Toro.

Dark Phoenix
(2019)

Despite the negative reviews, I thought this was Damn Good.
I heard this was critically trashed a few days before going in and was probably not expecting that much. However, about 20 minutes in I realized that I was really enjoying this, and that Dark Phoenix is (refreshingly) quite distinct from the current trend of action-comedy superhero films.

There are bits of humor here and there (essentially bits from Quicksilver/Peter and NIghtcrawler/Kurt), but the general tone is much closer to epic horror or just drama (a la "Poltergeist" or "The Dark Knight"). That alone gives this film alot of emotional heft (as opposed to recent heroic fantasy films which go for mainstream crowd-pleasing visual gags at the cost of eviscerating a basic character premise: looking at you, "Avengers Endgame").

The acting has a lot of highlights due to the tricky nature of making a "good" character "bad", and making a formerly "bad" character "good". It's a tricky balance to maintain audience sympathy in such a complex dramatic arc, but I think "Dark Phoenix" did a reasonably good job. There's character growth in multiple characters (Xavier and Magneto in particular) and there are no sudden out-of-character plot-driven change of hearts (waving to GOT 8.5, hi!).

The music also stands out. Composer Hans Zimmer explores some similar textures as what he explored in "The Dark Knight" and "Interstellar", but adds the element of female voice (solo and choral), as well as some more high-speed textures a la "Tron Legacy".

The effects are flawless, essentially as good as anything out there. In the days of digital effects, it's hard to really make the aspect of visual effects really stand out frankly, and as long as nothing looks obviously green-screened in, I consider that a win.

OK, I guess I should list a con or two. Jean is approached by Jessica Chastain's character and trusts her far too quickly. I kept wanting Jean to ask "Wait - exactly why should I even be listening to you?" Also, the aliens are a bit too vague in the way they are presented. They seem to be a combination of shape-shifting "Terminators" but also have the power to give a really bad stomach ache (you'll see). Apparently in the original ending Jean confronts them in space but this was cut since it was too similar to "Captain Marvel". It's just as well, since the final ending has a much bleaker feel to it, almost as if they are fighting in Hell, rather than the up in the heavens.

Anyways, it's disturbing to me that the film is getting such a critical drubbing. I guess with this being the last of the Fox X-Men films, the reviewers don't feel the need to hype it in order to earn studio points for swag and press screening invitations. I saw this film with mostly kids and teenagers who probably don't read the industry rags and they cheered a couple times during the film. Also two-thirds stayed to the very last end credit, which is a good sign (although no bonus scene, sorry).

I recommend this whole-heartedly, just go in without expecting Deadpool 3 or Wonder Woman 2. It's not quite as pandering as most superhero films these days, and hews closer to tonally-dark, classic superhero films from 15-20 years ago.

Star Trek: Discovery: Such Sweet Sorrow: Part 2
(2019)
Episode 14, Season 2

What Happened?
First off, I really liked Season 1 - in fact, I was a staunch defender of it, going so far as offering point-by-point rebuttals of criticisms on Facebook groups last year. Then Season 2 started and I watched the first episode, and I don't know what happened but all the excitement left over from the (mostly) vibrant 1st season had all of its tachyons reverse polarity or something and we dropped down to impulse power. So I essentially dropped it until this past weekend where I binged the whole 14 episode season in a STD marathon, hoping to at least appreciate the ebb and flow of a larger arc. Yes, there were a few episodes where some of the old excitement seemed to come back a bit (Michael's mother's ep, the sequel to The Cage, maybe some sequences here and here involving Georgiou), but overall it was a bit of a slog. Actually it would have been really unbearable if not for Jeff Russo's score. Russo can be "on" and he can "off", but for STD, he always seems to deliver. OK, some more detailed points. In season 1 Tilly and Michael were at times, uhhh...overly "emotive" and/or "sharing". I decided to give this a pass despite their teenage hijinks sometimes distracting me, since the story had enough twists to keep me interested. This season however, I had hoped that their characters might have "seasoned" a bit, possibly calmed down from sorority house-level character exchanges and moved onto more realistic adult language. Anyways, all I can say is that I sure came to appreciate Counselor Troi's contributions a hell of a lot more than ever before. I mean, it was kind of like as if "The Naked Time" had lasted an entire season on Discovery. Anyways, I actually quite like the actors but the dialogue and direction they were given really did them a disservice. This premise of a Red Angel was OK. That seemed like an interesting mystery that could lead to some surprises, maybe some cool new mythology. The reveal of Michael's mother being in the suit mid-season was a masterstroke, I have to give them that. But then the last episode piled on so many ridiculous (as in unrealistic and distracting) plot complications and equally eye-rolling solutions that I honestly felt depressed afterwards. A lot of these plot-holes have been cited by other reviewers so I'm not going to make a big list but you could essentially kind plug in characters' names into a sentence like "Why on Earth did (character) suddenly (action) since (character) was already (state)?" For example: Why on Earth did (Discovery) (have to escape to the future) since (Control) was already (defeated by Georgiou)?" "Why on Earth did (Saru's sister) suddenly (show up as an ace fighter pilot) since (Siranna) was (previously established as a field worker)?" I guess a couple other variations would be "Why does Tilly close her eyes to fix the shield mechanism? Just to duplicate some notorious drinking game? What?" How does a photon torpedo take out a quarter of the saucer section, and yet not make a scratch on the door window? Stametz and Culber's arc: Stamets misses Culber. Culber miraculously comes back due to Stamets' love while in the mycelial network (Huh?). Culber is confused about his feelings. Culber and Stamets reunite. I don't know, outside of their being in a same-sex relationship I have no idea why that qualifies as a plot arc in a science fiction show. It's like if TOS Uhura wrestled a whole season with being a black woman in Starfleet (I guess?). In TNG Data wrestled with the nature of humanity. Culber wrestled with whether he was still gay or not? (because that's the message I was getting from that weird exchange with Georgiou). Another thing which left me pretty cold was this whole finale space battle. Star Trek at times has demonstrated some keen tactical moves (such as "Wrath of Khan"'s use of environmental and tri-planar ("3D") ambush tactics, Riker's use of short-distance warping in "Nemesis" (although that was stolen from the classic Space Battleship Yamato series), etc...). But this "space battle" was just a big cloud of glowing gnats swirling around stationary capital ships and spontaneously causing explosions. In reality, it's entirely believable that you could just have a ""Fire everything!" kind of battle (ala the sea galleys of old), but this was for the most part just a big light show. Yes, it was cool that Pike protected Discovery with its hull, but it essentially put itself in harm's way to buy Discovery only about 20 seconds, during which Control's drones could just GO AROUND it. Anyways, these are just a few things which took me out of the story. Plot holes are perfectly acceptable in a feature (Star Wars for example is obviously a total fantasy) but when elements of a story repeatedly shock me out of the narrative flow with their unlikelihood or lack of consistency... I really wanted to like this season, and I think there were some really good ideas in its premise, but its execution seemed to have been put together by inexperienced writers. Also I'm guessing Nicholas Meyer was not involved this season, that may have had something to do with it. Anyways, at the very least I just hope that next season he characters start acting more like professionals.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
(2015)

Extremely well crafted but without vision.
What a divisive film. First there was the pile-on to praise it as the greatest thing since ESB, then almost 24 hrs later a massive backlash (imdb, various comment threads) accusing it of overly stealing/honoring the original trilogy ("Darth Plagiarious" - LOL!). I personally have been swinging back and forth, not sure if this is a Mad Max Max Fury Road or a Superman Returns. Perhaps on a 2nd viewing I will enjoy it more after adjusting expectations. Or I may start counting homage shots. The Screen Junkies people don't even need to make an Honest Trailer for this one, it just writes itself.

I suppose time will tell, but I think this film was CRAFTED excellently (I laughed, I cried), and Rey was a great addition to the cast of characters. At the same time I miss George Lucas' sweeping vision and predilection for invention. It's immediately gratifying to see the X-Wings of old, but then I realize that that's all there is. It would have been nice to see SOME new ship designs. I suppose in a perfect world Kasdan and Arndt would have worked over Lucas' plot and Kirschner would have lived to direct it. I've never been impressed with Abrams, all of his films seem to be highly derivative of a "classic" film predecessor. In other words, Ep VII is to IV what ST:Into Darkness was to WrathOK (except the spaceships and actors are the same).

SPOILERISH BELOW

The plot issues being debated all have some merit I think. Rey becomes amazingly powerful and skilled much too quickly. If this were a pilot for a 12 episode miniseries, then I could accept these open-ended questions. But for a film? This is probably a symptom of the current trend of writing movies with franchise marketing driving the narrative. Sequels are nothing new - James Bond, Zatoichi, Godzilla, etc... But at least each entry in those franchises could stand on their own as a movie. This film clearly ends on a "TV cliffhanger", much more so than ESB. I guess since the future films are already in pre-production these films COULD be considered as literal "Episodes", but it did seem like a bit of bait and switch (especially considering that the 1st trailer had more Luke than the entire actual film). I am curious to see how the next film turns out. But if Finn gets frozen in carbonite and Rey has to face Kylo Ren in a "city in the sky"...then I'm out. Luke will be Yoda, that's already been pretty much telegraphed...

Hei dian
(1972)

The Black Tavern - another under-appreciated SB classic
This was the best Shaw Brothers film I've seen in awhile. When Celestial started remastering and releasing the Shaw catalog they pretty much covered the "classics" in the first couple years, so nowadays the releases don't have so much notoriety. Or maybe they just aren't as good...but The Black Tavern bucks a recent trend of good but non-essential releases. This is about as essential as Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, or Boxer from Shantung, but without the stars, except for a brilliant Ku Feng. Basically the plot revolves around the impending arrival of a box of treasure to the "black tavern" (actually it's never referred to as such) and the various gangs of thieves who plot to ambush it upon its arrival. The cool part of this film is that there is no "shining knight", in fact no good guy at all, for the bulk of the film. Each of the thieves have their own charm and Ku Feng plays the most intriguing (and most dangerous) of them all. Most of the film is about the gangs fighting against each other, allying with one another, and betraying one another.

The thing that adds yet one more star to an already excellent narrative is the above average swordplay. There is a bit of under-cranking, but not too noticeable if you didn't know what to look for. The final fight was absolutely brutal as well. The film is jam-packed with action but it seemed like that last fight lasted 20 minutes or something - great stuff and definitely up there with early Chang Cheh. Anyways if you're tired of revenge-themed "You killed my master/Stole my sword!" wuxia films, this is a nice and highly entertaining change of pace.

Zubekô banchô: Yume wa yoru hiraku
(1970)

Reiko Oshida in her first Delinquent Girl Boss pinky violence film
First off this is a "pinky violence" film so expect street drama with a strong dash of exploitation cinema and over-the-top gangster gags. One of the strong points of this genre is that a lot of unique directorial experimentation was going on here, lots of psychedelic visual cues, odd turns of narrative and wild swings in tone.

Blossoming Night Dreams is somewhere between the Stray Cat Rock series and the Terrifying Girls High School series in the pinky violence scale, still going for some elements of "straight" drama but at times reaching near-parody levels. There is some breast-flashing but no explicit rape and torture (as pinky violence films would seem to revel in later on). Some scenes are definitely spoofs of yakuza films so it came as some surprise to me that this came out as early as it did.

Basically Rika (Reiko Oshida) is released from girls detention school and then winds up at a lounge bar where she finds her other classmates working. This lounge bar is run by Junko Miyazono (who did a trilogy of proto-pinky violence films in the Female Demon Okatsu series). By coincidence I had just seen Quick Draw Okatsu which also featured her and Reiko Oshida in a supporting role which I enjoyed and so to see this pair again in a more modern setting (and in color) was pretty cool.

Anyways, the local bad guy boss is trying to acquire the lounge and basically the film is about the girls getting in trouble with drugs, boys and each other, and Miyazono's struggle to keep her bar from Ohba the big baddie.

The plot as usual is not all that important. The main thing that stood out for me with this film is Reiko Oshida and Junko Miyazono. Reiko is very cute and always seems so cheerful and carefree even when kicking the teeth out of some other girl gangster. This makes her different from the other major stars of this kind of film (Meiko Kaji, Reiko Ike and Miki Sugimoto, etc...). The first time I saw her in "Delinquent Girl Boss:Worthless to Confess" I kind of wrote her off but now I can appreciate the difference her approach brings to the genre. In fact now that I think about it, hers may be the more unique characterization, since the more stoic portrayals by Kaji and the others (not to diminish them in any way) are somewhat more prevalent in films from Leone's Man with No Name series to Kill Bill to They Call Her One Eye. Miyazono adds a good touch of class and she also has a nice sword battle at the end. Too bad Reiko didn't do so much with a blade this time, I thought her blade skills were slick in Quick Draw Okatsu. In sum, not quite an essential pinky violence film, but definitely worth catching, especially if you watch this after a few Stray Cat Rock films on your way to the Girl Boss Guerilla films or Female Yakuza Tale.

Dao jian
(1967)

Not quite riveting, but not boring, strong female roles
This early Shaw wuxia sword adventure has some great concepts - a female student and teacher pair, the last legendary sword of the Martial Arts World, a "vampiric" naughty prince (actually just looks vampiric), some nice group skirmishes. Li Ching as the student starts out being a bit bratty and annoying but her character develops a bit throughout the film. Essentially a legendary sword is lost and the movie is about it's rightful descendents trying to regain ownership of it from the local ruler (whose son also has the hots for the female student of the teacher whose husband was killed for the sword).

Overall I didn't get bored at all during the movie even tho I felt the narrative was only just OK. There was a ton of Morricone music lifted from the Clint Eastwood "Man with no name" films - as sneaky as it was, it really added a lot to the film. Every time the sword is unsheathed you get a Morricone sting. Despite myself I had to grin... The swordplay and fighting was just a bit below average. Not even Jimmy Wang Yu level. But not too distracting from the rest of the movie at least. There are a couple of nice "magical" kung fu gags as well as a very small training sequence. The last third brought in a cartload of new characters who seemed a bit late to the party. It felt like this was the first of a trilogy adapted from a novel, especially with the somewhat open-ended ending, so that kind of hurt it for me. Maybe if I saw the sequel (if one was ever intended or made) than I would change my opinion...anyways I really would have preferred it if they had concentrated on the female teacher-female student premise - that was kind of fresh, even tho it got shoved aside later on. I give it a 7 just for that concept alone.

Yu mian fei hu
(1968)

Decent martial arts generational revenge story
The Silver Fox is about one kung fu brother's betrayal of another and then the vengeance promised by the victim's daughter (the Silver Fox) 18 years later. The Silver Fox is played adequately by Chang Yi and her fight scenes are good, but not quite on par with Cheng Pei Pei or Hui Ying Hung's a few years later. There's a little bit of romance and little bit of sibling rivalry and the plot rolls along to its inevitable confrontation between both generations. But in the last 15 minutes things perk up with a pretty cool "cave of traps" and a sequence where confessions and revelations fly like arrows and a slew of ironic twists follow one another like rain on a rooftop. It's this last part which gives this a 6 rather than a 5, since it was so crazy and so earnest in milking the "Shakespearean tragedy" card that it had it's own over-the-top charm. Also this featured some nice outdoor locations and since this is a late 60s "martial arts world" film, the production values are still quite high. In later years kung fu films would concentrate on the fight scenes and skimp on plot and production design, but here the emphasis is still on chivalry and high adventure.

Tie wa
(1973)

Cheng Pei Pei channels Fist of Fury
Chinese female action icon Cheng Pei Pei is famous for her Shaw Brothers films and her break-out feature was "Come Drink With me" and its sequel "Golden Swallow". The former is probably one of the greatest Chinese adventure films of the 60s and 70s.

So it was kind of surprising to see her in a Golden Harvest film. Maybe her Shaw contract had run out at this time. Anyways, Lo Wei directed this. He also directed Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury and he's obviously trying to strike similar gold here. In fact there are many plot elements lifted directly from FoF and Cheng Pei Pei even does a few Bruce-isms. Very strange. However she's not Bruce Lee and so isn't quite able to keep the narrative energy afloat. Actually much of Lo Wei's direction is pretty boring. I actually like Lo Wei's earlier Shaw productions a good bit, but at Golden Harvest, for whatever reason, his direction just seems lackluster. Bruce Lee could save an industrial safety film. If you've seen his screen test for Green Hornet you can see how intense he was even when not acting.

I love Cheng Pei Pei but against so much inertia even she couldn't save this from being non-essential. On the up side, she has some ferocious hand-to-hand fights. That was unique to see because she's largely known as a swordswoman and I'd never seen her do weaponless kung-fu before. Again, she's no Bruce, but she has a certain intensity (at least during the fight scenes) which elevate just those scenes.

Oh yeah, the plot is basically this: Cheng Pei Pei and her friends pretend to be be relatives to an official, but in reality they are revolutionaries trying to save their leader from captivity. The Chinese officials are also in cahoots with the Japanese, so there's a big Fist of Fury connection right there. My recommendation is to fast forward through the talky bits and just watch the scenes where Cheng Pei Pei kicks everybody's ass all over the place. Acting-wise this is definitely one of her lesser roles. Oh yeah, she fights the action choreographer of the film too, just as Bruce did in FoF.

Xue fu men
(1971)

Operatic revenge swordplay with Ivy Ling Po kicking ass
This classic "Martial Arts World" tale begins with the elderly teacher of a fighting school preventing the delinquent Crimson Charm gang from killing/raping a young girl. During this fight, the son of the leader of the Crimson Charm gang gets killed. The rest of the movie deals with the gang's vengeance, and then later the vengeance of the school in return. In fact there are 3 major arcs, the tale of the teacher's bravery and journey back home, the defense of the school, and then 3 years later the fate of the Crimson Charm gang.

To appreciate a film like this it's necessary to think of it almost like an opera of Wagnerian proportions. Swordmen and women who are part of the "Martial Arts World" have near-godly powers of fighting and survival. In fact one character has a death scene which lasts virtually 2 and half years! So of course the histrionics and drama are equally amplified. Western audiences were exposed to this kind of thing most recently with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. In many ways this film has a lot of that. In fact Ivy Ling Po's character here is cut from the same cloth as Michelle Yeoh's portrayal in Crouching Tiger. She has some absolutely kick-ass fighting scenes. In later years the martial arts would become far more stylized (especially anything choreographed by Lau Kar Leung, ie - Liu Chia-Liang) but the martial arts in films of this era are more straightforward (comparable to Zorro or Errol Flynn's stuff I suppose). I am a HUGE fan of Lau's work but his films are more about the fight scenes. The Shaw films from this era (67-73) were more about the drama, and the fight scenes IMHO serviced the story more than the other way around. Both eras are great, but tonite I was in the mood for an epic story of love and revenge and this fit the bill. Even compared to other films of this type and era, this was a bit above-average, mainly because of Ivy Ling Po. She's not the main character in this one but her presence demands engagement in each scene she's in. To see a younger Ivy Ling Po in another memorable role, check out Lady General Hua Mulan (which the Disney animated film also covered).

Day of the Dead
(2008)

Not as bad as they say
A lot of people are ripping on this movie so I had pretty low expectations when I saw this, so maybe that's why I liked it so much. Admittedly it's not a masterpiece, and not as good as Land of the Dead or the previous Dawn of the Dead remake, but I was pretty interested in what was happening and I wasn't bored. Mena Suvari's presence surely helps. Also some nice tongue-in-cheek one liners.

I think the fact that they named this Day of the Dead creates a false sense of expectation. It really has nothing to do with any Romero film or even the previous Dead remake. It's just an adventure/escape flick involving zombies.

I don't really get why so many people get hung up on the "running"/"wall-climbing" aspects of these zombies. Because of some digital slow-hand-cranking (ie - film speeds up to make the zombies seem even faster) I thought that was kind of interesting. I actually like it when people try twists on a theme and not just stick to the rules. If you want to see "classic" zombies there are hours of that at the rental store.

There's not much social commentary (well none actually unless you count "not trusting the government"). I don't really watch zombie films to look for the social/political messages, I get enough spam as it is. It did give me that apocalyptic/trapped feeling though so I would say that this film worked for me. Just ignore the title and don't associate this with Romero. Actually I thought Romero's social critiques in the original trio were pretty interesting, but again that's not something I really look for in a zombie film. This is just a fun, short wild ride with zombies and Mena Suvari. Worth a solid rental, but maybe not 11 bucks in a theater.

3:10 to Yuma
(2007)

Wrecked by ending
I haven't seen a western in ages and I've really enjoyed Christian Bale's work over the years so I thought I'd give this a try.

Overall the acting was pretty good. Bale's character was an atypical protagonist and had more layers than in a typical Hollywood film. Crowe was pretty charismatic, even tho I can only stand to see him once every 5 years. Ben Foster as Crowe's right hand man was also pretty cool. Between him and Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men (tho Javier edges Ben out by a couple notches) it's been a good year for western baddies. Peter Fonda and Alan Tudyk were also great. Nicely turned with some real nuances.

So for most of it I would say it's pretty good - not great but more than serviceable. Great films break barriers and set new rules so serviceable is still pretty fun.

Then Crowe goes "Disney" (unconvincing change of heart whilst strangling Bale) and I couldn't really focus on the rest of the movie because I realized that the bottom had just dropped out. OK, Bale tells him a sob story about how pathetic he is and then Crowe stops killing him. That I can believe. But then when they suddenly become "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" buddies, leaping over rooftops, even shooting his own gang...Holy Bat-cows Batman you've lost me. I even went to the IMDb board and there are some good posts about how Crowe's character wanted to throwaway this life of crime, and admittedly there are several scenes which could be interpreted that way, but the way it was directed or acted it just didn't ring true at his final "apotheosis". A good film doesn't require you to sift through scenes looking for possible explanations. I mean in a mystery film sure, but based on the swelling score I don't believe Ben Wade's change of heart was meant to be a source of David Lynch-ian conjecture and reconstruction. There are other plot holes as well, especially Peter Fonda riding a horse after being gut-shot and when a Gatling gun barely makes an impact on horse mounted bandits - but that's Hollywood and I can forgive heroic hyperbole for the sake of plot. But that last bit really sunk this one for me. I don't know how the original story went but it almost would have been more interesting if Ben Wade had been accidentally winged by the $200 mercenary town folk, Charlie goes ballistic on the townspeople, Wade then shoots Charlie out of indignation, then escapes while Christian Bale rubs his throat (living for another day). Okay I guess that could use some work too, but at least I could swallow that more than what ended up on film.

Kingdom Hospital
(2004)

Waste of time, especially if you're a fan of the original
Years ago I saw Riget, the original Kingdom, and loved it. Then I saw this series when it originally aired and I could only get thru 4 eps before giving up. Recently I finally saw Riget II, which was even more riveting than the first part. Since a final Riget has so far never been completed, I thought I might try to watch the Stephen King version to at least get some kind of closure, no matter how awful a miniseries it was. Unfortunately it was not worth it, not even close.

Lars Von Trier is credited as an executive producer for this series, but many times that means a person got some $$ but had no creative input whatsoever. It's more like a buyout. That's the only logical explanation.

This series uses about a quarter of the plot devices from the original, "decompresses" the narrative to inflate the airtime to surpass the original's length and throws in some "side" episodes which have virtually nothing to do with the larger arc. The last 15 minutes of this 13 episode miniseries I literally had to fight to stay awake. I'm sorry to be so harsh but it was like a masochistic exercise in finishing this series. I guess I just wanted to see how awful it could get. Maybe if you never saw the original it would be better, but even as its own work this whole thing was about as good as a 9th season X-file ep. Sorry again to be so harsh.

Good: Ed Begley, Nurse Carrie (the nurse who fainted all the time), Lona (I actually liked her a bit better than the original portrayal), evil doctor (one of the few original concepts which looked OK), Jack Coleman (ie HRG himself, playing a new character based on King's own experiences)

Bad: Everything else. 4 main leads (Drusse, Stegman, Hook, Draper) - average and forced acting, tho the writing sure didn't do them any favors. Glacial pacing. Sideplots which stuck to the main body like an unwanted hepatoma. The "baseball episode" and the "miracle priest" eps were unnecessary and from a story point of view didn't even adhere to any kind of internal logic. The additional budget also really hurt the whole production. The original was almost filmed documentary-style (ie - Blair Witch / The Office). This was filmed in a much more conventional manner, lots of overdressed sets, music that was so present that it lost its effectiveness when it needed to be, CGI that stuck out like a sore thumb etc... There was a good bit of footage recycling in the finale ep as well. Talk about masochism. Every time they did a gag from the original it was done in the least shocking, least visceral way possible. Tho the "covered mice" shot in the 12th ep made me chuckle and think about how Standards and Practices censorship can actually make a scene more funny.

Anyways if you are a fan of sophisticated comedy/horror check out the original Riget and Riget II. The ending of Riget I is probably one of the greatest cliffhangers in serial TV. If you started watching this when it first aired and never finished, then don't bother, it only gets worse with every episode. Some of Stephen King's writing I absolutely love (Dark Tower series, Stand, Shining) but this was a huge misstep and atypically lame.

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