mcbrion

IMDb member since March 2007
    Lifetime Total
    10+
    IMDb Member
    13 years

Reviews

His Dark Materials
(2019)

Good for Insomniacs!
First of all, I've read all three books (like many others here). Saw 'The Golden Compass,' which I thought a failure. Then saw this. A bit of a failure also. Lets start with Lyra. Her character, in the book, is defiant, a tomboy and self-reliant. None of that here. Here, she's a whimpering, frightened child for at least a few episodes (that's all I saw, so if she's changed, well, that can only be good). Mrs. Coulter? Now, HER I like more than Nicole Kidman. She has more depth of expression (Nicole was sociopathic and charming; this woman is just tough and has good manners rather than actual charm). Sets are nice. The main characters are not as good actors as the supporting cast itself. It's enjoyable if you haven't been watching movies for 60 years, but isn't it odd how every single person speaks 20th Century English??? No matter what movie, what world it takes place it, if you close your eyes, they all sound like they're from the 20th century. So, apparently, not first-rate writers. But knock yourself out. Give it a 10 if you want! For me, a "10" would mean good acting, stylish, clever, WELL-WRITTEN AND DIRECTED, and, last of all... CONVINCING. This is none of those unless you are, forgive me, unsophisticated in your viewing habits. However, it's COVID times, and I know the story, so I'm watching it - for 20 minutes - followed by an hour of something I REALLY like - and then another 20 minutes of this. The time passes faster when I look at it like that! And neither it NOR 'The Golden Compass' come close to being magical, any more than 'The Chronicles of Narnia' was magical. But, enjoy yourselves. I'd suggest lots of popcorn: mediocre movies are more enjoyable with popcorn!

The Boys in the Band
(2020)

A (poor) shadow of the original
As mediocre as it gets. Wow, they should have left well enough alone. Those who think this is "good acting" need to understand the difference between acting and mimicry. Jim Parsons barely transcends the character he plays in "The Big Bang," including his vocal intonations. It sounds like Sheldon - and that's no compliment. He barely has any change in intonation or volume in the entire play.

Enjoy it, especially if you're under 35, but don't confuse this with great acting or the reality of the original film, which was explosive when it came out. It's not a failure, it's just a scene reading...read the lines. Don't "BE" them, which is the essence of acting. As for those who deem it depressive, it was an accurate representation of the psyche of many gay men of the time: self-loathing. And there's still plenty of that these days, sadly. I'm listening to it, as I type, and even without seeing the expressions of the actors, it sounds bloodless, as in "devoid of LIFE." Everyone except Quinto is a caricature of a real actor. Or even more, a real PERSON. This is nothing more than a rehearsal reading. They should have left well enough alone...

Dark Phoenix
(2019)

Decent, but not Great
I've been reading the X-Men comics for 55 years (yeah, I'm THAT old!) and I have to say that while I enjoyed watching this, it lacked tension and a good plot line. It seems every time film makers make a superhero movie, they ignore the fans who supported the comics (I've been reading comics for 60 years). So, they make something for the masses. I have to agree with those who said the acting was mediocre. The character of Jean Grey in the comics - when she was Dark Phoenix - was FAR more menacing than Sophie Turner brought to the role. In this film, she barely registers as the actress she was in Game of Thrones. The rest of the crew was...mediocre in acting. The storyline? Aliens pursue The Phoenix Force to Earth to get it out of Jean Grey? Absurd. The Phoenix Force is an ENTITY, alive with sentience of its own. It could hardly be drawn out of someone the way you let air out of a tire. So, storyline: dumb. Jessica Chasten was the one bright point in the movie: menacing, subtle and yet, noble: she wants to revive her people. As motives go, not bad. But another lets-kill-everyone-on-Earth to do it? How many times have we seen this end-of-the-world theme? So, again, decent. Enjoyed seeing it. But no, it's not close to a gripping, on-the-edge-of-your-seat film. You watch the scenes, they entertain you, but they never compel you to continue watching. I'd pause it at times to call a friend and go back to it. I have X-Men comics back to the time they were 12¢. So, enjoy it. If you're one of those who were thrilled by it, what can I tell you? Only that you have far less experience (and 4 or 5 decades of watching films) than me. It's decent. NOT great. But I don't hold that against the X-Men: I hold that against the writers, the director, and - unfortunately - the mediocre performances of the majority of the actors in the film.

The Witcher
(2019)

Puerile Writing, Even Less Involving
It would seem that one must overlook quite a bit.

First, the writing (which seems not to matter to anyone who reads at the 5th grade level, but doesn't do much for someone who reads at the college level): if you close your eyes, and ask "what century is this and what world (Middle Earth? Lower Earth? Mars? Pluto?) is this"? The answer that comes back is "Oh, it's 20the century Ireland, maybe. Or England (ignore the accents). Dialogue such as "F*** off," (so VERY "mythological Universe," right? Or "You take no prisoners, I hear" and "you can trust me" somehow doesn't transport me to any alternate Universe. It transports me to The Land of The Millenials: limited vocabulary, and even less acting. Entertaining enough, I suppose, if you discount writing as the most important part of any show (and plenty of people apparently do, since it has an 8.4 rating), but I'm listening to it even as I type this, and nothing they're saying (episode 2), makes me even want to stop typing and actually WATCH IT. Actually, it's more interesting as an audio tape: you ears can handle what has your eyes rolling if you watch it. Tedious. I've turned away from it twice, and I find I'm actually grinding my teeth (unconsciously) at this moment. People have noted that Cavil is the high point. I suppose. His dialogue is pretty limited, too. Well, I have to go, or else my dentist will once again chastise me for grinding my teeth constantly. I'd like to keep my mind. AND my teeth. So, I'll have to turn the sound off, or I'm bound to lose both.

A Fall from Grace
(2020)

It Fell From Space
The only good thing in this movie is the lead actress who played Grace. It's ALLLLLLL downhill from there. The acting - aside from Phylicia Rashad (as the psychopath) and Crystal Fox - is abysmal. The actress playing the (highly) incompetent defense attorney runs the gamut of emotion from A to B (as Dorothy Parker famously said about Katherine Hepburn's acting). The sheer unbelievability of the plot, the one note acting of the supporting cast (including Tyler Perry, who runs the gamut of emotion from A to A) just has you wondering why you are continuing to watch it. Mostly, I assume, because you can't believe how bad the script is. The miraculous discovery at the end leaves you dumbfounded (and worrying if Phylicia Rashad and Crystal Fox will ever get acting jobs again. But don't worry: they will). It took me 4 hours to get thru the movie: I could only watch it in 20 minute segments (in between doing some stretching, cleaning the stove, wondering what to eat for dinner, talking to a friend for...oh, THAT'S where two hours of the time went. How could I have forgotten that??? Oh right. Because the story was so easy to forget). My review is probably superior to - and better written than - the script, but do watch it for yourself. Just because it's terrible doesn't mean you won't like it!

Dracula
(2020)

Interesting for a younger demographic
I suppose I have less enthusiasm for the usual reason: the writing. Why is it that, if one closes ones eyes, one always hear the cadence and speech of the 20th century (21st century speech is less a "thing" than a collection of new words). Every actor uses contractions ("let's), which lessen the sense of a supernatural world. I mean, EVERYone uses the same contractions, same phrases, same speech patterns and cadence (I don't really think that, in 18th century anyone says "let's do this.") Otherwise, Dracula is interesting if one ignores that speech and cadence create the moments of tension, fear, and horror. (Gary Oldman's Dracula, by contrast, spoke slower and much more deliberately, giving a feel of a time long past, in a country not of my own country (The U.S. by the way. Who knows how this will sound to someone in Transylvania (heh, heh). But then, it will be dubbed, yes?). And the colloquials: " You are a monster." "And you are a lawyer. Nobody's perfect." And "As I've been telling people for centuries, you ARE what you EAT." Really? This is what passes for cleverness?

Dracula talks entirely too much, entire conversations with Harker. (Sigh) In horror, less is more. Tension and horror depend on the silences (who's going to come around the corner??!?!? AAIIYEEEEEE!!!!!!), the viewer waiting for something to break the silence. Except - there IS NONE. Dracula is the equivalent of a 20th century rake. The nun who interrogates Harker is the standout: her sangfroid IS funny: " It's not something one ever anticipates asking...but what happened AFTER you were murdered?" and all delivered in an dry, curious and amused tone. She's great at the dry, detached delivery. SHE is actually more interesting than Dracula in the scenes she's in. (She's a scene-stealer and people will love her for that: the "breakout star.") I DID love her delivery of her lines, for sure.

It can be a fun watch. But I suppose, after nearly 7 decades of seeing Draculas, it would have to be something rather different than what I'm used to. I will say the storyline will capture others more than it does me,which is why I'm rating this a 6 and not a 5. I recognize my limitations are that of expecting great - and realistic - writing, which fits the period in which a film is encapsulated. AND it does have its "moments," especially in episode 1. Even shocking ones. But scary? No.

And if it takes turning out the lights to make it that way, then...turn out the lights.

Charmed
(2018)

As Uncharming As Is Possible
This show is just plain terrible. The writing is absurd, the dialogue pedestrian, and the acting....WHAT acting??? Is this everyone's first job as an actress/actor? It is hard to take anything seriously. SERIOUSLY!

There is no chemistry between the "sisters" who recite their lines instead of demonstrating any acting skills. To write more would be to give this series more validity than it deserves. Damned awful.

Troy: Fall of a City
(2018)

Is it possible to rate a show "0"??
I feel the same as the other reviewers. The first thing that absolutely disgusted me was the scriptwriters inability to have anyone sound even remotely like someone from The Golden Age of Greece. How is it that everyone in every single tv movie speaks as though they were born in the 20th century? Can NO ONE write a line of dialogue that can transport the viewer back in time. I was waiting for Zeus to say, "Seriously!" It's THAT BAD scriptwriting and an even worse screenplay. Any fool knows that Cassandra only got her power of foresight when she was the lover of Apollo (presumably at least 15 years old - not 9!), so the scene where she hears she has a baby brother is complete stupidity on the part of Netflix, who must think that every single one of their viewers is a 16 year old, English language-challenged boy, who couldn't decipher anything that sounded older than the way people spoke in 1995. On top of this, the Greeks did NOT wear close-toed shoes: they wore sandals. Any idiot who had done his research (or hers) would know this. I stopped after 15 minutes, just so Netflix' algorithm would know that one viewer didn't want to waste his time past the first 4 scenes (I would've made it 3 had I only known it would get worse...) And THIS is supposed to THE FACE that launched a thousand ships???? Jesus, God in Heaven, the girl is nice enough looking, but...SERIOUSLY?!?!?!? Ugh from a 70 year old man. I rate this a -10.

Iron Fist
(2017)

Lame. Another "Hero" Racked by Anger and Little Else. Critically speaking.
Short review. The hero has anger issues (very common in movies, TV, etc.) Hero goes out to find the bad guy, but is still overwhelmed by survivor's guilt. The bad guy is not just one person, but two: the apparently beneficent "Sensei" and, the man he thinks of as his second father. (Again, "daddy issues", although he loved his actual father.)

The protagonist,Finn Jones, is a so-so actor. He grimaces, shakes, quivers, but mostly displays hurt and anger at everything. Apparently, 15 years in the monastery did him no good. The scriptwriting is also mediocre, because nearly every time (after the first time, just to show the audience what his magic "power" is), he is rendered un-magical. The other actors are similar hobbled by the usual poor scriptwriting. Watch it for yourself. I have actually watched all 13 episodes, as Hope Springs Eternal, but the show rose from poor to merely pitiful. Carrie Moss plays the lawyer again, as she did in Jessica Jones, and has three emotions - as does most of the cast, anger being the most obvious - and apparent - emotion in the entire series. If you like watching people be angry for 45 minutes - although I fail to see why anyone with four emotions would - you'll like it. For functional viewers, this falls short of the mark. And for those who claim every critical reviewer is a "hater," the spectrum of human behavior, unlike this series, allows one to dislike a show without wasting the emotion of "hate" on it, as the protagonist does all too often. Who is more a "hater" than Danny Rand, the Iron Fist (a much more balanced human being in the comic books, if you've actually read them. Which, I'm guessing, by the rhapsodic reviews, most have not),

The Exorcist
(2016)

Terrifying and Horrifying...And that's just the first 10 Minutes...
Excellent show, reading like part Rosemary's Baby and part the original Exorcist.

A girl is possessed by a demon, and as the story unfolds, it turns out the mother has a past nobody knows about, related to the original movie. Not that we know this right away, though. Add in a plot to unseat the Holy One, and figure out which characters in the Church are friends of Azmodeus, and who are the friends of Jesus, and you've got a thriller mystery combined with a horror show. There are no stupid moments, such as hearing a noise in the house when you KNOW you're alone, and then walking down the hallway, going "Hello? Hello?", the standard stupid action that poor scriptwriters put in because they know of no other way to advance the plot. Geena Davis is pretty good, but the daughter, Casey, is excellent in her confusion over being possessed and not giving in to the demon (who appears, invisible to everyone but her and trying to force her to submit to him). Sharon Gless' appearance really kicks the show into high gear, and the ex-communicated priest is also fantastic. And the subway scene, where Casey is possessed and then proceeds to...well, lets say this: the people in that subway car would rather jump out the window and be electrocuted by a third rail rather than stay in that car a micro-second more. Chilling. And I have to disagree with the poster who thought the original movie was scarier. Not even close: in the movie, everything happens in Regan's bedroom, so you know when the door to the room opens, that the actions going to start. In the TV series, things happen in the subway, the house, and lets not even mention the basement of a building owned by the Catholic Church, which houses bodies, whose hearts and other parts have been removed (in this movie, the currency is BLOOD!) One of the most adult horror TV series in the past 20 years, if not THE most adult one. 4 Demon Thumbs Up! But don't look over your shoulder during the intensely scary scenes...

Game of Thrones
(2011)

What is there to say that hasn't been said? Great Show!
After writing 3 reviews about shows on CW I was desperate to find something nice to say about someone. And then I remembered Game of Thrones. I am redeemed!!!

Good writing and actors equal to the scripts. Everyone's performance is realistic, and even the children have an adult manner about them. A joy to watch, unless, of course, you don't watch it.

The plot is easy enough: first one to beat the other armies to a bloody pulp, wins the Brass Ring. Seven squabbling tribes, each one with big....aspirations. Emilia Clarke is a joy to watch, but everyone is great. Even Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, who claimed she was not a 'sword and sorcery Girl,' found herself, after watching several episodes while she was bedridden during a bout with the flu, yelling on the phone to her friends, when they called to ask if she needed anything, "BRING ME MY DRAGONS!"

I second that emotion.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow: Their Time Is Now
(2016)

CW: Customarily Worse (CW)
This show had promise - for the first 20 minutes of the first episode, but after that, the motto, "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here," kept running thru my mind and I could not turn it off. I stuck it out for 8 episodes, ("Hope springs Eternal") but once again yet another CW show falls victim to excruciatingly poor writing. I'd guess the writing is around the level of a 15 year old, except when they are fighting. Then it drops down to what I remember myself being at 12 and playing Cowboys and Indians. I liked it best when the Indians won, and in this show, well...

The show centers around time travel and the Time Masters, a group who watch over various time periods. So, this should be cool to have people travel thru time, yes? Shouldn't be too hard to make it interesting. No fear. It's not.

There is the customary genius (Victor Garber), the customary Angry Men, and two women, one of whom is an assassin, and the other can, thru a totem she wears, take on the powers of whatever animal she mentally envisions.

The story lines are decent, but one wonders if anyone took acting classes. Each person runs the entire gamut of emotion from A to B, as Dorothy Parker once said of a performance by Katharine Hepburn (look 'er. up if you're that young). That is to say, not much range. The travels thru time never include adapting the speech of the times, and oddly enough, the local people- no matter what century - seem to also speak in 20th century English. This lessens the ability to suspend disbelief. In fact, if you turn the volume off and just watch the expressions, you'd be able to tell the plot just by their actions. I hope to, one day, actually watch a show on CW that doesn't remind me of watching and listening to a group of adolescents. But this is not that show.

Stranger Things
(2016)

Excellent Writing, Acting and a generally Great Show
When my best friend told me to watch this, I said - grudgingly - "I'll give it one episode." He asked to PLEASE watch 2. Grumble, grumble, grumble. (I'm old: I'm ALLOWED to grumble. You aren't. Not unless you're closing in on 70, too.) Well, the first episode caught me within 10 minutes: a group of boys playing the equivalent of Dungeons and Dragons. They go home, and one boy disappears. Not so unusual so far. But then, it switches to a government lab (natch: located only a couple of miles from the town) and a scientist is running for his life. But who - or what - is he running from? Winona Ryder - barely recognizable - is the mother of two boys, one of whom is part of a group of the 4 boys who are drawn into this mystery when someone shows up at their door. If you want to know more - WATCH IT YOURSELF! The storyline expands so smoothly, the episode is over before you know it. Thats due to excellent - and unforced - scriptwriting that pulls you along. Ryder's unhinged (she was a mental case, as they say, at one point) persona is contrasted by the innocence and completely goodhearted quartet of boys - PLUS ONE. The town sheriff is actually a smart guy, instead of the stereotype of the dumb hick sheriff one frequently sees. And of course, there's the Big, Bad Government who will stop at nothing to locate the "PLUS ONE." Just watch it. You will either love it (meaning, if you like good science fiction, it'll grab ya) or you won't, which means you've been watching CW so much, you think that shows like....well, nearly anything on that network, are actually good scriptwriting. Pity if you do. I watched the first two episodes and it's fair to say that, by the time I'd ended the first episode, I thought, "Well, I can bear to watch the second episode." And that was my last conscious thought until I found myself bearing down on the end of episode 8. And then it was over and I found myself annoyed because there were no more episodes.

Supergirl
(2015)

Another CW Lightweight Show
It's not Supergirl's fault: she just got stuck on a network (CW) where nearly no one is an actual mature adult over 24 (except Flockhart and J'onn J'onzz). Someone suggested that this is a show parents can watch with their children, and some of that is good. The fact that Kara's sister is gay, responsible and just coming out, can be instructive, so perhaps they're moving away from the poor scriptwriting of the first season.

The writing is the downfall of the series. It's as though the screenwriters know only the most banal of clichés: "Lets do it!" being the most annoying one. But also, the setup formula is too trite to tolerate: Supergirl meets villain - who attacks her, or others - and lands one (if that many) punches and that's it. The villain manages to knock her on her butt, and then, in the final minutes, she wins the battle. OK, that's bad enough. But for someone who fights villains, she has terrible reflexes (she turns away for a minute just because the villain is on the ground) and then he/she knocks her out. This is what makes it so annoying. Nobody has street smarts. If they were in a real war, as in Real Life, a soldier would make sure the enemy is completely incapacitated (or dead) before they turned away. Add to that, exploding cars (cars don't explode when they hit the ground, people. At least, not every time a car is tossed). It's a kiddie-based show. So if you like that, fine. Oh, and Myxzptlk was Superman's foe and was not 6' tall with dark wavy hair. Another pet peeve: everyone's young and cutesie. British TV is SO much more for adults, but then, it's CW. Very little on CW has an adult perspective. Just all PYTs (pretty young things - including the men). And that'll be enough for some people who want disposable entertainment. For the rest of you, If you want intelligent superhero TV, go watch old episodes of (Joss Whedon's) Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV series, with superb writing and much better actors. And plots that make sense.

Supernatural
(2005)

Overdone
I watched this series when it first came out and then tuned out after a year or two.

Sam and Dean are the protagonists. The key phrase is 'Angry White Men.' This enables them to be badasses, but the writing, while not completely banal, is mediocre with flashes of good.A Veni, Vidi, Vici show: ('I came, I Saw, I Conquered) in nearly every episode. Last season they loosed God's Sister, whom God had imprisoned Lo, those many billions of years ago. She lived inside a rune on Dean's arm (which was the mark of Cain. Loooong story). So, after the 10 episode buildup (complete with stories that have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the impending crisis of God's Sister UN-doing All Creation, Naturally, God's Sister wins the showdown with God. But then she lets him live because all She ever wanted was His Love (Sound like God and His Sister are part of the typical dysfunctional American Family? You'd be right.) You'd have thunk they'd close up shop afterthat. No Fear. New Gotterdamerung every season. I would like the show ifthe protagonists could act, but their skills are poor. OH, and there's an Angel, who, despite, having lived a billion years, is completely ignorant of the behavior of humanity. He's on the two brothers side because 'God has plans for you.' Oh, the grandiosity never dies. Anyway, the Angel is on their side, too. However, he's been killed (yeah, Angels die by thehundreds here) once or twice. The worst is the dialogue. Everyone - even the Angel - speaks as though they were born after 1990. The usual "lets do it", and every other current colloquial is used - even if they travel back to the 18th century, you can be sure the speech patterns don't strain the brains of the viewers. No reason that, while they go back intown to get The Colt (45) gun, even the townsfolk sound as though they're 20th century citizens. Scriptwriting = 2. Like so many current TV shows, not a lot of depth, but lots of action. Just don't watch it if you expect intelligent dialogue. And it's CW, acronym for Childish Wishes. Nobody is over 12. Okay. 14. Misery hangs over the entire series. Demons drink, Angels have the exact same emotions as humans, nobody remotely resembles an otherworldly being. It's as though to watch adult drama, once must turn to PBS Murder Mysteries. Good for fast forwarding through, and clearly has its fans, but it ain't nowhere close to All That. Started out good: formulaic as Hell (and Heaven) now. OY.

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