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Brace for Impact (2016)
A moving motion picture
Having read the other reviews I should point out a few things: 1. I am probably the most conservative person on IMDb, and 2. I loved this movie! I found the lead actress to be a very convincing portrayal of a damaged, slightly paranoid person with OCD tendencies. Her observational abilities were well established early on while her grief at the death of her brother rang very true. Her under-control reins slipping explosively is something I saw frequently in my professional life. I was gripped by her monomaniacal search for the truth and was delighted at her vindication. The rest of the cast were fine too. Sometimes I think folks watch movies nly in order to tear them apart in these amateur reviews. I recorded Brace For Impact and am a richer person for having seen it.
I read about this movie on IMBd when it appeared in our TV listings and subsequently recorded it. Kathryn, my wife, and I watched it this evening. It turned out to be a compelling who-dun-it that not only kept us guessing but, though each of us had picked a different killer, we were both wrong! We watch a lot of mysteries and I can frequently figure out the killer quite early on. Is that because I am great detective? Hardly. It is because I have caught on to the often formulaic writing even in the best of TV series and movies; thus when I say that neither of us twigged to the killer in Best-Selling Murder (aka Serialized) it is high praise indeed. The only problem I had with this imaginative show was the resemblance of the star to the star of Supergirl. Well worth a viewing.
Hooten & the Lady (2016)
Yet another guilty pleasure!
Having been a fan of Michael Landis for a long time I was pleased to see that he had another series coming up. I recorded the first episode and watched it with my beloved wife. She summed it up in one of our family's time honoured phrases, "Another guilty pleasure!" HatL stands in the archaeologist tradition of Indiana Jones but is more closely allied with the Michael Douglas motion pictures begun with "Romancing the Stone": boorish adventurer with a heart of gold teams with a snooty, wealthy and very beautiful woman join forces to find lost artifacts. The secret ingredient in HatL is the dynamic interplay between the two lead actors, and the brilliant writing. The crisp dialogue is always refreshing. And it is laugh-out-loud funny! We love it and hope you might too.
Time After Time (2017)
Competent, enjoyable and full of promise
I loved the 1979 movie of the same name. It was the definition of charming. This series began here with the first two episodes and I was impressed favourably. The three leads are as charming as can be with John performed brilliantly with an oozing, psychopathic, warped evil that begins with his eyes and inhabits the actor's whole being. I find it hard to believe that he was recently the weak Daniel in Revenge. The other two are new to me. I beg to differ with some others here who seem to find Jane unattractive; I find her cute and beautiful and a fine wee actress. Wells also seemed more than competent in such a strange role. I had hoped for the time machine from the Rod Taylor movie but this one, especially with the ice on the windows, seems quite fine. I have enjoyed Timeless for the most part though its egregious historical errors exceeded anything on this show. I give this a weak 8 in hopes of a surer hand in writing and direction as the series gets its feet under it. I certainly would recommend it to friends.
The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
Amazing, wonderful movie
I consider "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes" one of my few favourite motion pictures. One of my few criticisms of that wonderful film is the ending wherein Tarzan returns to the rain forest leaving Jane behind. That movie was the beginning of Tarzan, his travel to Victorian England, and the impossibility of his living in that society. In this "Greystoke" departed from what Burroughs had written. In "The Legend of Tarzan" we have a riff on the first novel and of "The Jewels of Opar", one of Burroughs' best remembered books. Here Tarzan returns to Africa into the Congo genocide. I was pleasantly surprised that the star so resembles Lambert in "Greystoke" rather than a steroidal muscle man. The writing is superb and must have been extremely difficult: a late 19th century story yet addressed to a 21st century audience, with some unnecessary anti-Catholic but now fashionable material. Robbie and Jackson are standouts, even if Jackson seems sometimes a bit too 21st century. Skarsgard, however, is superb in his portrayal of a man with PTSD torn between wild and civilized, internal and external, a vulnerable Superman. I think that Edgar Rice Burroughs would be proud of this excellent Tarzan movie, a worthy successor to "Greystoke". A special mention must be made of the glorious music, both orchestral and vocal.
The near future with unchanged human nature
I recorded this movie and kept it for viewing on one of those days when my IQ would be mensurable only in negative numbers as I occasionally watch SyFy Channel movies or anything from The Asylum; junk food for the lazy mind, but this was from neither of the sources mentioned and was an excellent motion picture. The cast was fine, the writing and its unusual premise were top notch. The characters were three dimensional and uniformly interesting. I cared for these people and for their believable near future situation. Perhaps I am having a stupid day but the plot contained surprises that followed from preceding scenes. The violence was necessary to the plot and only the language is a bit much but that seems to be normal these day. If, as I suspect, this was a pilot film for an unrealized series it is a minor tragedy that it was not picked up. On its own it can stand proudly and is a credit to all involved.
Terminator Genisys (2015)
Totally exciting and satisfying
I yield to no one in my affection for the Terminator movies. From the very first little movie to the latest I have enjoyed each in different ways for different reasons. None is a failure. From what I had heard and read this newest (and I hope not the last!) instalment was inferior, not respectful of its predecessors, poorly thought out and, as one reviewer wrote, makes a hash of all that went before. Fortunately for me I had seen the old double VCR version of T2 with an alternate ending, i.e., the destruction of San Francisco. Imagine my joy to see it in this movie. Terminator Genisys is reverential - there are so many scenes from the first movie it is almost plagiarism. The tricky business of time is dealt with most satisfactorily. The most shocking reversal of earlier matters was jarring but OK. Emilia Clarke was superb as this Sarah Conner. How fortunate we have been with all three actors Linda Hamilton, Lena Heady (on television) and Clarke! The male leads were very good, particularly the John Conner character with J.K Simmons giving another wonderful performance. I found the whole movie very satisfying and I hope that we will yet again hear the words, "I'll be bahck."
CSI: Cyber (2015)
Exciting, suspenseful and enjoyable
My wife and I are barely computer literate but educable. (Several of my students are employed in IT.) I am emphatically not a Patricia Arquette fan. I neither like nor watch CSI in any of its variations. I do, however, believe in giving almost any new series a chance and so it was that my wife and I settled in to watch CSI: Cyber with no great high expectations. We now have seen the second episode and we have thoroughly enjoyed both episodes. The actors are charming and their interactions, interesting. In the midst of all the computer language we have Arquette as a gifted therapist with a background. Her observations and insights give a human centre to the geeky surroundings. Exciting, human, techy drama. We like it. Therefore it will probably be cancelled very soon.
Dracula Untold (2014)
"Dracula Untold" has a title that is catchy but is not descriptive. With the obvious goal of blending some history with Hollywood's Dracula/Nosferatu legacy, the producers came up with a fascinating new vision. Luke Evans is very good in the title role and the supporting actors are uniformly good, with a special mention of Charles Dance. The various parties with axes to grind about such fiction will never be satisfied, whatever the movie might be, and both professional historians and average folks come near to blows over the character of Vlad Tepes and of Mehmet. This motion picture has a consistent view point. Flaws? Of course. Vlad is a Prince yet there is reference to his Kingdom rather than to his Princedom or Principality. The ending may be a bit saccharine but I liked it and hope for a sequel. The title? Surely this should have been called "The Tragedy of Vlad Tepes, Prince of Wallachia". Shakespeare would have loved it.
A near perfect story
Funny, suspenseful, touching and a jolly good mystery with red herrings enough to sink a commercial fishing boat, this episode 3:4 is IMHO what "Maverick" was all about. While as a teen I preferred Bret to Bart (and I give place to no one as a fan of James Garner) I have come to a greater appreciation of Jack Kelly's Bart as I watch them now. I really think that Kelly was under-appreciated in his time both as an actor and as a comic actor. Karen Steele is at her loveliest as the girl just trying to make her way in a man's world. Gerald Mohr, an actor I liked as much "back then" as "now", gives his consistently solid performance; speaking of unappreciated actors! This is a taut little episode that deserves an attentive viewing. My only problem is that someone failed to notice that at the very beginning Bart's outfit mysteriously changes between the saddle jacket in the cemetery, to his town clothes while riding in and back to saddle gear in the hotel.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)
Much BETTER than the first!
The original Sin City was gloriously stylish and, for my taste at least, hideously distasteful. I could admire much of it but the spiritual perversion of parts of it left a rotten taste in my mouth. I had expect "film noir" and got "film sick and ugly". "Sin City: A Dame to Die For" is film noir. It is raw, tough and sexy but, as with the best film noir, it is not disgusting. It is also more rooted in Los Angeles, the true home of film noir. I almost expect Philip Marlow to walk around a corner. Powers Booth is corrupted power incarnate; Eva Green is ditto for feminine evil; Jessica Alba is not only beautiful but moving in her sad part; Marv is quintessentially Marv, "300 pounds of iron"; Josh Brolin is great; Joseph Gordon-Levitt is superb. All the actors are flawless. What truly makes this a better motion picture is the story telling: tight, coherent, satisfying. That last word shows the difference between the two movies.
I, Frankenstein (2014)
A fine "What if" and an enjoyable movie
Having been ill for quite some time I return to attempting to write a review purely out of pique. I thoroughly enjoyed "I, Frankenstein" and thought it an admirable motion picture. Then I checked some of the reviews. Thus the pique. Or anger. This movie returns to the novel. Anyone who has read it can tell that from the beginning, admirably summarizing the book. The Boris Karloff "Frankenstein", fine though it is, departed completely from the book and created a new character for the monster. Thus the children comparing this movie to the 1930s masterpiece are simply missing the point. Eckhart is superb and the incomparable Bill Nihy comes through as he did in "Underworld" et seq. The invention of the gargoyles versus demons is a fine backdrop to the development of the character of "the monster" whose loneliness is palpable. The effects, both special and CGI, are great. The question:"What if Frankenstein's monster appeared in the present day?" is answered with heart and verve and skill. Cast off your assumptions and you may enjoy "I, Frankenstein".
I am still smiling
I first saw The Legend of the Lone Ranger with my then eleven year old daughter and have not seen it until this evening when I enjoyed a none to good DVD in a "FULL SCREEN"(i.e., butchered for 1.33:1 CRT TVs) format. I may never lose the idiot smile on my face. The music is what one can always expect from John Barry, one of the greatest composers to ever write for the movies. The details show a genuine effort to get things right: in the prologue set in 1854 cap-and-ball revolvers are used (1860 models but at least they tried); in the body of the motion picture Colt 1873s and Remington 1875s are used. The town and Indian village are beautifully realized while the gorgeous cinematography even survives FULL SCREEN. A pre-"Back to the Future" Christopher Lloyd is terrifying. It is redolent with references that only fans of the radio and Clayton Moore TV show would get: Detroit, John Hart, Striker. Somebody tried very hard! The Me generation's attempt to hold to the story and legend of what was entertainment and instruction for children required the blood and surfer hairdo (shudder) but such things do not detract from the Legend. I have yet to see the 2013 Lone Ranger but a friend has seen it and recommended it highly. We shall see but, for now, this 1981 movie, excoriated by critiques and shunned by North American audiences, can hold its head high.
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012)
Disgusting but Lincoln's finest days
I represent a sizable minority of motion picture viewers - until "Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies" I had never seen a zombie movie. I had caught the unavoidable snippets on television but that was all. It looked disgusting to me. It still does, but when a good friend loaned me "Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies" because of my odd interest in 19th century Noth American history I decided to watch it. This 'alternatative history' treatment of events is actually rather good and would have been better without the zombie gore but then it would have been a different movie. If I discount my disgust with zombies there was much to admire in this film. The actor playing Lincoln did an excellent job. The role of General Jackson caught the man's character and, while his death in our time line was sad in the movie's it was a credit the that devout Christian man. The surprising ending was quite superb but what most struck me was the unobtrusive and lovely music in the background. Of course the movie is flawed by it's low budget but it is far better than many more costly productions.
Triassic Attack (2010)
Appealing actors + preposterous premise = fun
One test for a good show of any type is a simple question: did you care about the characters? I cared about the sheriff (who reminded me a bit of the sheriff in "Eureka"), about his estranged wife and about his daughter. Three likable actors portrayed the parts and I thought did good solid work. I objected for a moment at the skeletons breathing and bellowing without lungs but they were animated by *magic* after all. This is not a National Geographics special; it is a daft little fantasy. With good supporting actors, a couple of imaginative twists and a minimum of gore "Triassic Attack" became a fine little movie. Low expectations and being ill may have had something to do with it but I thoroughly enjoyed the time I "wasted" on this. I am confused about the title: none of the bony critters looked to be from the Triassic to me!
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
What kind of a movie is this? A Western with care and attention paid to clothing (although I question a few things, one hat in particular) and firearms; a horror film with fearsome ugly monsters; a drama propelled by character development; a complex story of family relationships; a buddy cop movie; a science-fiction story; and possibly a few other things. Despite, or perhaps because, of this complexity "Cowboys and Aliens" is an amazingly satisfying cinema experience. Harrison Ford can do more good acting without lines than anyone in decades. He is a Westerner in a Western. Daniel Craig learned to be a Westerner; the scene when he and Ford are fleeing an explosion and Craig bends down to grab his hat on the run is not something an Easterner or a Brit would ever do. The effects are great too. I had been looking forward to seeing C&A for a long time but with low expectations. Can one really take that title seriously? What a pleasure to enjoy a big noisy motion picture more than anticipated. I loved this film! And I loved the hummingbird.
True Grit (2010)
A Western made with love
Finally! Not since "Appaloosa" has there been (in my experience) a Western made with love. Faithful to the time in details, within the limits of art, "True Grit" is a superb Western. It seems to be simple story telling but is nevertheless flavoured by the eccentricities of the Coen brothers: everyone speaks as though they are in a "penny dreadful"! I was reminded of Jack Webb's "Dragnet" when all the actors were supposedly instructed to act as though they were reading their lines. In "True Grit" it sounds as though the actors are not only reading from an 1880's dime novel but living it. Buffalo Bill Cody would have loved it! The cast is very, very good. There is nary a misstep by any actor and, as everyone has said, the young star is frankly amazing and well deserved her accolades. All in all a superb motion picture with a certain Coen quirkiness. But be warned: you may weep for a horse.
The Gathering (2002)
A rare motion picture in the 21st century
I caught this movie because my HDD recorder caught it. I began watching it and was quickly drawn in by the very British pace and editing, a flavour of times gone by juxtaposed with a mysterious contemporary horror film. It is far from conventional and not particularly caring about hiding any surprises - any twist that might have been expected is revealed to a careful viewer early on. "The Gathering" becomes an example of the most rare of stories in our time: an actual morality play. By setting the two millennium story in a place with genuinely ancient buildings and with a buried church, the writer creates a tale that holds almost mediaeval sensibilities. Flawless it is not, but a truly moral tale of repentance, heroism, self-sacrifice and redemption is unusual today, to say the least. A worthwhile motion picture.
Sweet, funny and loving look at the West
I had read about "Gunless" and had high expectations. When my wife and I watched the DVD, and laughed ourselves silly, my expectations were exceeded. So what is "Gunless"? First, it is a Western. It is a Western made by folks who love Westerns. The gorgeous BC border country is photographed lovingly (unlike the travesty of e.g. "Heaven's Gate"'s butchery of Montana). The plot is that of a classic Western - turned sideways. Second, the acting. Every actor does well and bounces off other actors with great skill. Characters are broadly played without going over the line. Third, the script is very fine: funny, tense at times, involving and with few anachronisms. A well written, well acted Western and totally hilarious. Paul Gross manages unselfconscious comedy as well as anyone. All the other characters are excellent. It seems from the DVD extras that the cast enjoyed themselves making this film; we enjoyed it even more. It is a sweet story with the cultural differences on the opposite sides of the 49th parallel well spoofed.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)
Enjoyable! Fun. Enjoyable! Imaginative! Enjoyable! ENJOYABLE!
I loved it! It is that simple. No, it may not be the "best" motion picture of the year - for me, "Inception" wins that ranking - but it is the most enjoyable film I have seen for a very long time. Just to let you know, I have a list of my four favourite "best" movies but now I must begin a list of my most enjoyable movies. This list must include such films as "The Halleluia Trail", "Cat Ballou", "Support Your Local Sheriff"(hmmm,I see a pattern here...), a few others, and now "SA". There is nothing objectionable for anyone save for a person who dislikes fantasies about magic and such should run away on seeing the title. Nicholas Cage does not overact; he actually gives a subtle performance. Jay Baruchel is perfectly cast and pulls it off perfectly as the brilliant but "dorky" student. The writing captures an extreme version of boy-girl psychology very well. Alfred Molina does what he always does: raises the quality of absolutely anything in which he appears; he is a class act as well as one of the finest actors alive today. Teresa Palmer is beautiful, vulnerable and spunky in a well-written role. Turteltaub does a commendable job directing and the effects are top notch. Besides, how can one not love a movie that includes a gargoyle from the Chrysler building? Lest you missed my summary, let me add that this is above all an *enjoyable* motion picture.
Under-rated, undeservedly forgotten and full of hope
When 2001 came out, my wife and I saw it. She slept; I was ambivalent. I certainly enjoyed the style of things and the use of music but was put off by the (as I thought then) great length and trumped up mysticism. Rather like "Grand Prix", and many sermons, it seemed a triumph of style over content. When 2010 came out, I missed it entirely. Years later I caught parts of it on television and was favourably impressed while,finally,today I saw the whole thing on DVD. I must be in the tiniest of minorities but I prefer 2010 to its overblown predecessor. (Recently I tried watching 2001 again but failed. Condemn me as a Philistine but 2001 has not stood the test of time.) Why, then, can I proclaim such an heretical opinion? First, 2010 is a film of hope. The detente, the second sun, the light symbolism, the redemption of HAL and his sacrifice, all these fit together as a satisfying and indeed touching story. Of course half the things mentioned in the movie no longer exist, from the CCCP to the airline but these things do not matter: hope persists. Second, the quality of the acting is inestimably above that of 2001. All, and I mean all, the actors are solid, believable, honest characters portrayed with a depth unseen in 2001. Schneider has never been better while Balaban is nothing less than superb. Hyams direction is both clear and touching. Thus I recommend 2010 to anyone who enjoys good science fiction.
Hawaii Five-0: Pilot (2010)
I watched this show with low expectations; I liked Jack Lord and Wo Fat and the theme song. The theme song made my day! The cast is amazing; great casting from the lead all the way through. Good solid character actors doing what they do best: act. The writing is perhaps a bit derivative but it rather has to be; there are only so many plots.but the cast and writers make the best of it. Sure it is an 'odd buddy' movie but also one mixed with a touch of "Magnificent Seven" or "Chichi no Samurai". The interaction between these folks and the rest of the cast, in fact all the interpersonal relations, are well written. Good human relations without soap opera. The sketching of what makes Hawaii different is very well done, much better indeed than what I recall of the Lord series. So it is a very promising beginning.
Reclaiming the Blade (2009)
Superb! Silly! Sensational! Satisfying!
How can one not love this movie? It is obviously the product of people who love European history, especially what the late Donn Draeger termed "hoplology", the study of the use of (manual) weapons. This is almost a doctoral dissertation on the rediscovery of what are called European martial arts. Using cinema and stage sword masters, sword makers, historians, old manuals, Asian martial artists with the tragic exception of genuine Japanese koryu (ancient school) members, Society of Creative Anachronists and actors, prop masters, a collage of people interested in Western swords and swordsmanship comes together as a fine and entertaining motion picture. From adolescents pretending to be swordsmen to world famous scholars, from the ridiculous to the sublime, this is a cross section of Western swordsmen and swordswomen today as the study of European swordplay is born again. After more than half a century in Japanese Budo I find much in this film to enjoy but a few areas where it fails a bit but on the whole it is superb and not often silly. A final thought on the Bonus Features: these vary as the film itself but the presentation of the Oakeshott system pf classification, despite the odd pronunciation of "mediaeval", is almost worth the price of the DVD all by itself.
The Good Guys (2010)
Not your highest class entertainment
My wife summed it up best when she said, between guffaws,"I am embarrassed to admit that I'm laughing!" And laugh we do. The flashback schtick was off-putting for the first ten minutes and then became just one more hilarious aspect of "The Good Guys". Bradley Whitford is even more irritating than he was in "The West Wing" but now he is purposefully comical. Colin Hanks is even funnier: he is so completely straight, so intentionally naive, so dull, so gormless that he is even more laughable than Whitford's overacting, if that be possible. Of course it is an odd buddy cliché but it works so very well! Straight Arrow and a time-challenged refugee from the '70s or '80s, complete with a Magnum PI moustache. Diana Maria Riva is strong as the poor boss out of her depth dealing with the madness of our oddball "heroes". It certainly helps that Jenny Wade is so sweetly pretty that I had better not complete this sentence as my wife is sitting here. If you can forgive yourself a guilty pleasure, laughing at something this preposterously silly, give yourself a treat and watch "The Good Guys". Just don't tell anyone if you want to keep your reputation intact.
Spoiler - two senses
This review is a spoiler from beginning to end so if you have not seen Outlander, do not read this. Having purchased the DVD for $3.97 simply because I like adventures and I like James Caviezel, I knew not what to expect save that the cover looked pre-mediaeval. When it began with a space ship I was a trifle confused. The crash was well done and the story began to unfold of this advanced space-faring stranger marooned in 8th century warring Scandinavia. Finding some acceptance by killing a dangerous huge bear, Kainan becomes a lonely ancillary to the tribe, even though claiming he was there as a dragon hunter. Soon the dragon appears and rather gory terror ensues. The great revelation comes when Kainan explains that the dragon is actually a survivor of a world his people destroyed. In a tragic scene we see Kainan cleanly shaven and happy with his wife and son, parting from them for a mission and explaining that they were slaughtered by the dragons. Note that when Kainan shows his son how to avoid being shocked by a "flower", after the burial of the dragons, a glowing miniature dragon emerges and flies away. Kainan, our tragic hero, not only took part in the unjust slaughter of the dragons, he released the nemesis that killed his family. With great suspense the tribe tries to trap and kill the dragon. Succeeding at last, Kainan returns to his beacon set to signal his location to his selfish people. Presciently, the Norse princess says to Kainan, "You're not coming back." Kainan raises the special sword cast from metal originating in his ship, and destroys the beacon in a violent electrical explosion. Thus the tragic hero has completed the circle of karma, expiated his sin and the movie ends at about the one hour and fifty minute mark in a poetic and satisfying climax, a rewarding well-acted and beautifully written and realized film. "But, wait! There's more!" Inexplicably, some one has added a denouement involving the impossible survival of Kainan, his marriage to the princess and adoption of Erik and Outlander is totally ruined. I did not vote for this movie. I would need two numerals: one for the first part up to the beacon's explosion: 8 or even 9; with the loathsome, soulless attached ending: 2. Should you choose to watch Outlander, turn it off when it should have ended.