saprater

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Reviews

Nanatsu no taizai
(2014)

Builds Slowly
I first tuned into The Seven Deadly Sins a couple months ago, watched maybe 3 episodes and then cast it aside as some sort of weird, overly fluffy cartoon. Couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why Netflix recommended it to me or it came with such a high rating. Then, after having it pop up in some lists a few more times, I decided to sit through one more time. A few more episodes in and I was hooked!

This one didn't win me over from the very start. The heroine starts off a vapid crybaby. The hero is a bit of a perv and painfully optimistic and happy. Plus, he looks like a kid, which make his pervy nature even more disturbing. However, once the action starts, you see the more serious side to these characters and a surprisingly intriguing plot that does not leave you unsatisfied. It's a really interesting blend of Arthurian legend and Dante's Inferno with some glimpses of the same comedic/action/drama pull as FMA. Can't wait for season 2!

Olympus
(2015)

Inconsistencies gave me a headache
This show is like a low budget Prometheus with an even weaker script and characters who never stay in character. The development and switching of alliances needed more than 13 episodes to accomplish, with the end result being that you end up smacking your forehead at their stupidity or sit there, mouth agape, at new and contradictory revelations about themselves, their abilities, their motivations, and even their behavior.

I don't want to get into the plot elements too much. That you can google and get the gist of. But it starts off sort of Xena-ish and then turns into this odd sort of mystery question and the morphs into something far darker...until finally it pretty much kills any and all redeeming qualities that had you watching in the first place. What fun. I am not calling for its cancellation as it being on air has no affect on me. However, I will not be tuning in to season 2.

Silent Hill: Revelation
(2012)

Should have been called Silent Snooze
I absolutely love the first Silent Hill film. The flashbacks (reminiscent of how one learns the back-story in a video game) were chilling and unveiled a haunting past for little Rose/Alessa. So I went into the sequel with anticipation and an open mind, but honestly...the best part of this movie was the opening credits, which did look pretty awesome in 3D. Everything after that was just boring as heck.

The storyline just seemed to move at a snail's pace. Plus the movie relied more on startle tactics instead of horror and gross out factor like the first. The new monsters did a lot of screaming and little else. The older ones we've previously seen were treated like domesticated livestock. And all I got of my favorite character (Rose) was a 10 second exchange with another character and dialog straight out of a 1.99 Harlequin Romance novel. Ugh! I actually had to wake myself up in the middle of this film. The only other time I've fallen asleep was back in the 90's with Blue Chips. It'd be a toss up as to which I'd be willing to sit through again. Oh, and the gal was NOT as good or creepy as the original Alessa/Sharon kid. Could they not afford to hire that one back again or something?

And I really think it was the wrong move to go with a film so dedicated to the video game. Tossing out things like magical totems and demon gods...it just didn't translate to film well. The first one made sense without having to have played the game. The plot for this one seemed too B-movie, especially if you weren't a player.

John Carter
(2012)

Way better than I expected
I'll be honest: this title was one of those that I used as "filler" in my Netflix queue just because it was big-budget and fairly modern. I'd heard the stories of how the production nearly bankrupted the studio. I'd seen the dismal box office stats. However, I was shocked when I finally sat down to view the film...it was terrific. Great plot. Wonderful characters. Just the right blend of humor, romance, and action sequences. The CGI effects are really well done and the character driven plot had a lot of dynamic roles which had me invested in the storyline.

Don't let the media hype about low expectations fool you. This one is worth watching.

Predators
(2010)

Surprisingly good
I saw and loved the original Predator and watched all the subsequent installments because of that loyalty to the first film, but it wasn't until Predators that I felt like I was truly viewing a sequel. The film is definitely a modern and updated version (not just in special effects). Not a fault of the original; it was a product of its time, but the grittiness, diversity, and character development of Predators just make it a wonderfully polished product.

My one concern going in was Adrian Brody being cast as the main protagonist. Brody is an actor that I don't associate with action film, so I hadn't really known what to expect and odd scenarios of his character waxing philosophical on an alien planet did occasionally pop in my head, but I have to admit that his performance was one of the strongest, and I he not only drew audiences to his portrayal of Royce but handled the physical scenes really well. In fact, all the casting was pretty dead on, though the one weak spot I believe the film had was in Topher Grace's character. Not the actor himself, who did a very credible job, but his role in the film, which was a bit of a disappointment. I could think of several alternate story lines that could have been better used to justify his presence.

Other than that, the film was very good. Fans of the first movie will, no doubt, catch all the little homages in this one. There were quite a few, hopefully all done from respect for the franchise and not b/c of unoriginality...lol...but seriously, this is an excellent sequel that will help to wash away the unpleasant taste left by Predator 2 and the AvP series.

Prey
(1998)

Trip down memory lane
I remember watching this several years ago, though I think I caught the episodes as reruns on the USA Channel. Excellent premise and wonder cast chemistry. Even though I wasn't a scifi buff back then, I found myself pouring through the TV guide (hey, it was before the age of TiVo) to watch them all.

The basic storyline of a superior race evolving and competing with modern day man has been redone a couple of times since. Threshold was one such show...also prematurely canceled before it could gain a foothold among the gamut of reality shows and crime scene spin-offs. I think the reason Prey featured foremost in my memory was because of the character of Tom. He brought such a alternate view of the evolving species and exuded a quiet and humble strength. Watching him struggle with his increased feelings for humanity (and in particular, Sloan) versus his instinct for his race's survival was mesmerizing. I hated the series finale and how it left audiences clueless about his fate.

The Road to Christmas
(2006)

Surprisingly good
Let's face facts...the Lifetime Network isn't known for the best drama's on television, but every once in a while they will put out something that is palatable to watch. The Road to Christmas was just such a film. I Tivoed it on a whim and found myself skipping through only the commercials. The rest actually held my interest. The chemistry between the two leads was good, the storyline not too unrealistic, and the comedic elements weren't heavy handed or doled out at the cost of the characters. Claire came off as a city girl but not bitchy (as many of these city girl meets country boy stories tend to do). Her sensitivity and likability as a character had you rooting for her to find a happy ending. And other than one semi-sappy moment which was scripted to state the obvious, I found this film to be a refreshing change from the heavily played melodrama's that seem to plague this channel.

America's Sweethearts
(2001)

Great premise, but the finish product was awful!
This movie had a great future as a romantic comedy. The basic plot was fantastic and all the comedic elements were there: shrewish, spoiled movie star, unappreciated assistant, the confused but charming object of their affections, and a harangued manager trying to please everyone at once and failing miserably at it.

First, the whole "finding himself" montage with Cusack's character was just useless. I mean, a total waste of space. Then the lack of chemistry between Cusack and Roberts failed to have the audience rooting for them to make a connection. The only main character to really pull off her part was Zeta-Jones. Maybe in this case, art imitates life because she sure can pull off a diva role like there's no tomorrow.

The storyline kept drifting away from the main plot and eventually had the audience either scratching their heads, trying to figure out what was going on...or begging for it all to be "over with already". I fell into the latter category and, thankfully, will never have to watch this movie again.

The Outsider
(2002)

Just like reading a great romance novel
This movie was fantastic. For anyone that loves reading a good romance novel, this is the movie for you. I always despaired whenever I saw a good romance book turned into a movie because the studio execs could NEVER get it right (Check out all the Danielle Steel stuff on the market...bletch!) This actually DOES get it right. Sexy, intelligent, believable characters, and a smoldering chemistry that actually left me thankful for commercials so that I could catch my breathe.

Tim Daly is fantastic in this film. I had my doubts to whether or not he could pull it off: primarily I was worried that he wouldn't be "masculine" enough to play a rugged gunslinger. Boy was I wrong. Not only that, but his character has a variety of facets which are explored in a realistic way. A must see. If you like Deveraux, McNaught, Medeiros, Blake, Feather, etc...go out and rent this movie. You won't be disappointed.

Soulkeeper
(2001)

Still laughing
This is a movie that pokes fun at itself and embodies all of the "Blue Moon" B-rated movies from the 80's and 90's...but it does it with style. They just don't make them like this anymore. Yes it's corny, but the acting is first rate, the storyline is good, and the zingers keep coming. Some parts had me holding my breath in anticipation while I found myself laughing at the rest (in a good way). The working chemistry between the two lead actors reminds me a bit of Abbott and Costello. Highly recommended if you don't take yourself or scifi too seriously. While I wouldn't rush to stores to buy it, it is well worth a rental fee or a TiVo setting for reruns on the scifi channel.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars
(2004)

Far Out!
Just in case you are not familiar with the back story of this excellent little mini-series: Farscape PKWs is a continuation of a cancelled television series on the Scifi channel. Nothing special about that you say?

Well, what makes this unique is the fact that it never would have been made except for the legions of fans who caused such a ruckus after Scifi made the stupid mistake of canceling. THE FANS got the attention of financial backers who then invested in making this little gem. How amazing is that? In a world where we feel like people crap on us at will and it's us again the big corporations...the little man finally won a small but decisive battle.

As for the show, some die-hard fans, myself included, noticed a few differences in how the mini-series was shot and some character changes...though all the original actors were used. Still, I was almost in tears when I saw my favorite Hynerian in all his squat and toadlike splendor. Definitely not a disappointment to loyal fans and hopefully an eye catcher to those who are new to the series. The humor was there, the dangers were still lurking around the corners, and the chemistry was as sizzling as ever. I highly recommend that anyone who hasn't seen this glorious series go out and rent the first season. You'll never regret it!

The Thing
(1982)

Traumatized me as a child
This is definitely one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. Even with the now outdated special effects, it has enough momentum to send grown men fleeing from the living room. You may not want to see this movie if you are an animal lover and I staunchly urge you not to watch it while you're eating.

The story is similar to the older, black and white classic on which it was based. A group of researchers are stationed in the Artic and come across an unworldly presence which has been dug up from years of dormancy beneath the ice. The acting is really superb and the starkness of the surrounds really sets the tone of mistrust between the characters. There is always a feeling of isolation in the film...which can quickly transfer to the audience.

Not recommended as a date movie though. Instead of bringing you together, you'll find you and your date casting suspicious glances at each other and wishing for a petrie dish and some hot wire.

Say Anything...
(1989)

Romantic Masterpiece
I rented this movie solely based on the excellent reviews that it has gotten everywhere. I missed it during its theatrical release (as so many others did) and had the hardest time finding a copy of it at our local video rental stores. Not because it wasn't popular but b/c, according to the clerks, people kept stealing or "losing" their copies...especially around Valentines Day. When I finally got my hands on a copy I was blown away. I had thought this was going to be just another in a long link of Pretty in Pinkish movies with predictable characters and a bad case of puppy love, but what I got was a surprisingly refreshing, unconventional story with a complicated and well-developed emotional depth flawlessly captured by the actors and Cameron Crowe.

And talk about role reversals! I'm so used to seeing the man take the assertive and mature role while courting a woman of limited financial or intellectual means...but in this film it's the girl that's got her future together and the guy who's more than willing to concentrate his attention on making her happy. And Lloyd Dobler isn't just a shiftless man with no future. He's an eternal optimist who lives in the present and recognizes, admires, and compliments the qualities in Diane that go beyond her amazing intellect. She becomes his dare-to-be-great situation and his absolute love and devotion to her is anything but unmanly. The force of it is palatable and immensely erotic without being reduced to cheap teenage lust. The sight of Lloyd in the shadows defiantly blasting out the truth of their love through the boombox is a scene which would have seemed awkward and goofy in any other movie but this one. It's easy to understand why even the critics of the time gave Say Anything two enthusiastic thumbs up. This is one of the few films that really captures the feeling of love.

House of 1000 Corpses
(2003)

Mind numbing trash
Terrible, terrible, terrible movie that is not even worth the 1.50 I spent on renting it. And this is not a comment coming from a gore or camp snob. I lived off of movies like Puppetmasters, Subspecies, Halloween, ect....but this film was just pure junk. It was worse than "They". It was worse than "Ishtar". I'd rather sit through a televised Boy Band marathon than to view this dribble again. Avoid it at ALL cost. Believe me: this isn't one of those movies that you hear about being so rotten that you are curious to watch it b/c you think that it might be good or the commentor just doesn't appreciate good gore. This movie just plain sucks! There is no hidden depth to either this comment or the film. Save yourselves and your wallet from waste and stay away.

*Think of it as Eyes Wide Shut with serial killers and practically NO nudity.*

X2
(2003)

Not bad...except for Phoenix
I liked the first X men. I had my reservations b/c of the little things that we comic fans were griping about, but they did a pretty good job. I didn't think that Halle Berry would be a good storm (too pretty, not regal enough) but I was wrong. I thought that they picked a terrible actress for Jean Grey, and I was right.

Which brings me to the sequel. I can handle the black outfits (they actually look really cool, though a splash of yellow...maybe just the X symbol...wouldn't hurt. I could handle the discrepancies between the film and comic book (accents, origins, and the like...after all, what fun would it be if we knew EXACTLY how it was going to turn out) but I cannot stand the horrible mistake they made in casting Famke as Jean Grey. Not just in relation to her own role...but let's face it: she looks like she's Scott's aunt, not his girlfriend. And she lacks any of the sensual appeal that the character has. Jean Grey is a knockout. Famke is a pretty girl but more of a coutre model: skinny, no curves, that hard non-emotional look. She'd make a great villain though, as seen in Goldeneye. She just seriously stands out against the rest of the cast like a fish out of water.

I didn't complain this badly for the review of the first film, but Jean plays a more important role in this movie so it bothered me more.

Everything else was pretty awesome though. I loved the plot, the rest of the cast were great, and I am really looking forward to seeing who's gonna pop up in the next edition.

Daredevil
(2003)

Please let there NOT be a sequel
By far the worst comic book adaptation to date.

1. The story went by WAY too fast and with too many gaps in between. It was like they spent so much time trying to get the film made in a hurry and most of their budget on the fight scenes, that they had nothing left to show the audience.

2. I love Ben, but not in this movie. He just doesn't cut it as a superhero anymore than Matt Damon did in the Bourne Identity. Better for them to stick with dramatic roles I think. Add to that the fact that Ben had more on-screen chemistry with his character's legal partner than Elektra.

3. The fight scenes. Oh God...they were so laughable. A cheaply made cross between Crouching Tiger and the Matrix. Extremely fake looking, and even with movie magic they still couldn't make Matt and Elektra look like they knew how to fight.

The only saving grace was Colin Farrell's performance. He stole the show much as Tom Arnold did in True Lies. The plane scene (I won't say more for fear of ruining it for the rest of you) had me in stitches.

Overall I give it a 2 out of 10 and hope that this is the only one they make...since they left room for a sequel at the end. Although I personally think that this would have made a great t.v. series.

Till Human Voices Wake Us
(2002)

Haunting and delightful b/c of it's younger cast
I rated this movie a 7 out of 10. It would have been lower except for the stunning performances of the actors who played the young Sam and Silvy. The glances, the chemistry (even between people who are so young) was achingly sweet. I felt the seemingly impossible love they felt for each other through their performances.

The only thing to mar the film was the miscasting of Helena Bonham Carter and the sometimes trite method of revealing Ruby's identity. Let me say that Miss Carter was totally up to par ability-wise. Her acting is not in question so much as her overall appearance/aura/presence. She is such a strong actress and I felt that she was unable to capture the frailty of Silvie's character. She didn't have the vulnerability and dreamer's attitude that the role required. Also, she is a striking woman and I thought that her looks were a bit too harsh for this role.

Otherwise, a good film and well worth renting. Guy Pearce put in an adequate performance. I wish there were some special features included on the DVD, but overall it was nicely done.

I Love the '80s
(2002)

Only one flaw: when it ends.
The first time I saw this show, it was early in the morning and I was still half asleep. I rolled over, turned on the t.v. just to hear some noise in the house and WHAM!, I've been hooked ever since. I swear, I don't think I laughed so hard in my life.

Hal Sparks is either the most knowledgeable person alive on the history of the 1980's or absolutely had no social life growing up. The man knows practically all the words to all the movies and songs of the 80's era and reproduces them with hilarious results.

I can't go on enough about this show. Anyone who grew up in the 80's and remembers that era with any fondness will love this show. It's fantastic and I am sincerely hoping for a follow-up since they only hit the tip of the iceberg with what was covered for each year. You'll love the commentaries...they poke fun at the past but in a way that's more of a "laugh with you" than "laugh at you" attitude. 'Cause hey, we ALL owned a Members Only jacket at some time in our lives. lol

The Proposition
(1996)

Bad acting spoiled an otherwise good B movie/chick flick
I know that any kind of story that seems more like a romance novel come to life is not going to be an Oscar winner. But sometimes a girl (or boy) gets in the mood for a cinematic box of chocolates. The Proposition would have fit this bill just fine if it weren't for two glaring mistakes.

1. Theresa Russell. Boy oh boy, what a terrible casting mistake. She's good in other roles that are more intense, but in this one her dramatic presence was overexaggerated. She delivered her lines like a drag queen > dramatic eyebrow lifts and over-emphatic one liners. Yuck!

2. The sex scene. It was too much lust. Lust is great, it's realistic...but only in the right vehicle. This scene would have been great in an independent or artsy film...but in a kinder, fluffier film like Proposition: less would have been so much more.

The best part of this movie was Patrick Bergen. Oh well, there's always Lifetime. LOL

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
(1991)

Almost perfect...but what a HUGE flaw!
I LOVED this version of Robin Hood. The way it was filmed, the characters, the incorporation of wit and a sarcastic sense of humor. And I adored all the actors. Each one was perfect for their role. I could not imagine anyone else playing Marian, Friar Tuck, the Sheriff, ect....

All except for the most important role of all: Robin Hood himself.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Kevin Costner in everything. His deadpan method of acting was enjoyable in Bull Durham and the like, but was just awful in this role. The weak chin, no accent, monotone voice, and absolutely no sense of emotion pretty much ruined what could have been a truly great classic. I still liked watching it, but it's like owning your dreamcar with a huge, non-repairable dent in it: you want to be happy with it, but that one flaw just drives you nuts and prevents you from being totally satisfied.

The Sleeping Dictionary
(2003)

Worth watching
I'll make this short. The story was good (though I was a bit disappointed in the ending...seemed a little hypocritical to me) and the acting was superb, from everyone EXCEPT Jessica Alba. Good grief, talk about miscasting. She's a great bubble gum actress for a television teeny-bop role and I think she is accomplished and beautiful, but she doesn't have the presence or the maturity to carry off a more serious role like this one. With a different Selima, this movie could have made some serious waves.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
(2003)

Not even close to the original concept
Oh, how I wish that I had stayed home. I knew that this movie was going to be the worst of the three, but I didn't realize that it was going to be quite this bad. I don't know if the people in charge just ran out of ideas or the fact that James Cameron wasn't really involved had that much of an impact on the final product. Regardless, here are my pros and cons of T3: Rise of the machines.

Pros (the smallest list): Great action sequence and great acting all around from the cast. Though I wasn't particularly happy with the casting choices in the matter of looks/public appeal/ect...all the actors did a fine job. Especially the in the role of the Terminatrix. She nailed the cold and dispassionate look down pat. Too bad they gave her lines like: a seductive "I like your gun" and inflatable breasts. The chase/fight scenes were great. One scene in particular (crane scnene) was dragged out too long, but overall it was great fun to watch. Special effects were awesome.

Cons (oh where do I start?): Arnold, though I adore him, definitely showed his age. Also, his role had too many speaking parts. Speaking parts are usually good, but for this character and his monotone voice, less is more. Also, they gave him way too many human characteristics than needed. The opening scene was real cheesy too. A badly cosmetically aged Stahl standing on a heap of rubble and pumping his arm like some kind of post-war cheerleader. Gag! They also tried to recapture the whole romance/fate thing like in the first but it was too obvious and there was no chemistry between the two. Add in a few subplots which were never resolved or expanded upon and the story pretty much limped along at a choppy pace.

One thing I loved about T1 and T2 was that the story itself was told fluidly and at a breakneck pace. The action was consistent. T3, on the otherhand, was filled with those tired old dramatic pauses which has the audience either shaking his head or yelling at the screen. John Connor wasting precious moments staring at liquid metal like he'd never seen it before. Talking scenes and poignant looks that have the characters actually STOPPING in the middle of a chase sequence. In "real life" they would have been wasted! Overall, it was just waaay too typical of every other bubble-gum scifi/horror flick in the past.

Asoka
(2001)

Great movie! Wonderful music.
I've never seen lots of Indian movies. Monsoon Wedding was my one and only, in fact. This was a great film to follow up with. It definately offers viewers a style of movie which isn't as familiar as typical Hollywood productions. While Monsoon Wedding was a great film, it was in a format I was comfortable with...while Asoka gave me something new. The muscial accompaniment had me, at first, shaking my head and thinking "what in the world"...but now I can't imagine the film without it. The score is compelling and I now own both the DVD and the soundtrack, lol.

If you want something off the beaten track. Something purely ethnic and not just a Hollywood production with minority players: give Asoka a chance. No, it may not be historically correct, but that wasn't the purpose of this movie. It's for pure entertainment and enjoyment and it succeeds very well in bringing both to the screen.

Wo hu cang long
(2000)

Finally, good Western exposure for Asian films
I liked this film. It was good to see a big budget Asian film being appreciated by Western audiences...but, as other have stated: it's nothing new. The theme and plot for CTHD is a familiar one in Asian culture. Especially the unconventional ending (which Hollywood has picked up upon in films such as Braveheart, ect...). Bittersweet seems to hold more importance in Eastern cinema than happiness.

The acting was great, the scenes were downright surreal and operatic.

Yes, they were blatantly staged with wire and unrealistic...but realism wasn't the goal...if that's all you care about, then go check out a documentary.

This film was a work of art. Beautifully done. A solid 9 out of 10 and well worth watching.

Tears of the Sun
(2003)

Not the most original thing in the world.
Been there, done that...pretty much sums up my feelings for this film. There WERE parts that I enjoyed though. I liked that "realistic" portions of the movie. The training, the equipment, the inclusion of natives as the cast members. Some of which actually survived through similar circumstances and whose memories were incorporated into parts of the film.

What I didn't like was the main character played by Willis. He was originally portrayed as being hard and "by the book" as well as a loner. They tried too hard to get this message across while at the same time having him being shown as instantly fascinated by Lena. He was making all these contradictory choices and decisions early on in the movie seemingly based on nothing more than his attraction towards the good doctor. The word "whipped" kept creeping into my head. His was the weak character in the film and it almost wrecked the entire movie.

I won't say to completely stay away, but I also don't know where this film belongs. It's like a ugly hybrid of Black Hawke Down and Proof of Life.

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