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7/10
A respectable family movie
25 May 2009
I know this is always a risky statement, but I am going to say it was better than the first. I usually write very defensive comments for the movies I see, but I don't feel that's overly necessary here. The strength of Smithsonian, for me, was the same thing others think was its biggest weakness: casting. People complain about there not being enough emphasis on the original characters, but I think the new flavor Levy brought was both needed and thoughtfully implemented.

The humor was generally well-placed, juvenile and repetitive perhaps, but well-placed nonetheless. Bringing the Smithsonian to life called for slightly increased creativity and I think the writers were at least aware of that. People may say more could have been done, but then you risk the problems associated with compressing excess material in an hour and forty-five minutes.

They introduced the right balance of the old elements that worked with the first, combined with new elements they were careful to not blow out of proportion.

Well played! Larry Daley got a good homecoming!
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Star Trek (2009)
10/10
An Absolute Triumph -- They just have to be careful, moving forward...
16 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The writing in this film is fantastic. Though some standard science fiction plot devices are used, what they say about this film is true. It can appeal to Trekies and non-Trekies alike, even though being one does help you understand the nuances of the characters, especially Kirk and Spock. The main accomplishment of the writers is their simplicity. Sure, the plot may look familiar, but it is fluidly and BELIEVABLY executed. Keeping Trekkie-level complexity out of the plot not only expands the viewer base, but also allowed the writers to focus on delightfully placed humor and character development that is consistent in the eyes of Trekies, and intriguing in the eyes of newcomers.

This is what kept the film from being the disaster the pessimists and purists may have believed it to be when it was first in production. JJ Abrams has my respect. He brought in a cast that all did a splendid job capturing the essence of the 1960's, but also acknowledged the needs and wants of twenty-first century audiences. It was EXTREMELY bold melding Spock's Vulcan and human aspects, but he found the right balance and that was important for both creating and maintaining the hold on both demographics of viewers. That's the new century twist needed in movie making these days. Surprise the old dogs, excite the new!

There are small holes and unnecessary elements of the storyline, but the beautiful thing about EVEN the flaws is that the Trekies will naturally forgive some, and general audiences will forgive the others because they are flaws both sides are respectively accustomed to seeing. You will know these when you see them.

Bottom line, this is phenomenal film making and I hope we see more! Let's just hope once they get past their peak, they will recognize it and stop!
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5/10
not the calamity people are making out to be, but no blockbuster either
25 October 2008
I have been using IMDb to obtain feedback on movies for several years now, and what I find is that people here tend to be a little too bias toward A-list, blockbuster movies. Chihuahua does not fall into that category by any means, but that does not warrant dismissing it outright. It is true that the film's cast could have been put to better use, but given the parameters set by the Disney-style writing, they did what they could and it was enough to let me enjoy their performances. I read a review on here that commented on the inaccuracy of geographical information. I agree that if Disney is going to make a film like this, it is unfortunate that they do not take the time to educate their young audiences a little. We wouldn't be talking doctorate level research here, just basic fact-checking.

The plot of this movie was not deep, but not many Disney movies NEED to be in order to cater to their young audience and family demographic. I am a twenty-something and I am able to tolerate Disney's material, because I accept it for what it is: shallow, vapid entertainment designed to convey squeaky-clean ideals to impressionable youth. Sometimes, they take that squeaky-cleanliness too far, like making light of the dog fights, but overall, it is all rooted in the same objective: to maintain their target demographic and intake revenue.

To the people who reference the different caliber of Disney's entertainment ten or more years ago, I concur with you. It would be good for Disney to trace its roots a bit and return to basics, but it would take a lot of cutting through green to accomplish that.

I enjoyed this movie. There was a comment on the discussion board mentioning that the trailer distorted people's initial impression. I am one of those people. Once I got into the movie though, I applied my usual preconditions for judging Disney films and had a good time. It was cute and in Disney's typical fashion, it contained half-baked attempts to teach the kids a thing or two (inaccurate or vague as they were).

Go into it knowing it's Disney and will thus inherit the characteristics of all their work, and you'll be fine.
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6/10
The acclaim this film is getting is understandable, but I don't completely agree with it.
17 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Note: This may or may not be spoiler-ish, but I like to check the box just to be safe. Let's get the controversy out of the way first. I have worked with cognitively impaired individuals a lot in the past, and I will say that Tropic Thunder did go slightly overboard with that. The jokes were mostly unfair and rather condescending. It was made worse by the fact that the whole aspect was used as a plot device.

On the other hand, I just read another review here that raised a good point about Hollywood's precarious relationship with that demographic, and I can see how this movie maybe intended to make fun of that more than anything else. I just feel the role it played in the plot could have been just as easily (and probably more humorously), accomplished by some other means.

Now to the rest of the review. Given the cast and Stiller's level of involvement with the movie's performance AND production, this movie should have made me laugh more than it did. I'd still call it a lot of fun. Robert Downey Junior did a remarkable job, in my opinion. I suggest we leave it to the African Americans to judge whether or not that was an appropriate portrayal, people! Now, I may be alone here, but I also think little Brandon Soo Hoo's performance was a highlight. He convinced me he belonged with his cast-mates, and given the big names, that's an incredible feat for a kid that age!
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