Lists  Reviews  Images  Update feed
MoviesTV ShowsMusicBooksGamesDVDs/Blu-RayPeopleArt & DesignPlacesWeb TV & PodcastsToys & CollectiblesComic Book SeriesBeautyAnimals   View more categories »
Listal logo
All reviews - Movies (80) - TV Shows (7) - Games (2)

A French buddy-cop movie? Well, yes actually - 78%

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 May 2012 07:07 (A review of Taxi (1998))

You know how remakes will always be inferior to the original? I still refuse to watch "The Ring" or its god-awful sequel on the grounds that I happened to catch the Japanese original "Ringu" first. Having said that, I watched "The Assassin" before I watched Luc Besson's "Nikita" so I'd probably prefer the Yankee one. Besson was one of my favourite non-American directors - "Leon" is one of my favourite films of all time - and although the great man was only writing the script, this feels very much like his film. Typically stylish, hugely commercial and still retaining enough Gallic charm to put most viewers off, "Taxi" is a mindless action thriller that is criminally under-rated in my opinion.

Daniel (Samy Naceri) quits his job as a pizza delivery boy to become a full-time taxi driver in his jumped-up white Peugeot in the sunny French port of Marseilles. Seriously, Mr Incredible has got nothing on this guy! Tragically, his short career of speeding like Satan himself around Marseilles lands him in trouble when an off-duty policeman (Frédéric Diefenthal) is picked up as a fare - the only cop who has caught Daniel. Desperate to keep hold of his wheels, Daniel is offered a deal by the cop - help him to catch fellow speed-merchants and professional German bank robbers the Mercedes Gang and the sissy cop can arrange to have Daniel's slate wiped clean. They soon form an unlikely partnership and Daniel grudgingly helps out his one-time enemy in order to get his licence back - and to stop his girlfriend (Marion Cotillard) walking out on him.

Sure, the story is as old as the hills but Besson and director Gérard Pirès have fashioned an exciting, humorous and contemporary film that still feels wonderfully silly but never any less entertaining because of it. The script is dotted with witty lines (albeit subtitled if your French is as rusty as mine) and curiously Gallic insults and metaphors that build, rather than wreck, the film's appeal. The driving scenes are superbly shot and really hit the mark - I suspect that the makers of "The Bourne Identity" watched this a few times! Acting is somewhat more varied - Naceri and Diefenthal make a pretty good team, playing off each other for laughs as well as for the requisite thrills and spills. Cotillard looks fabulously sexy as does Emma Sjöberg as the long legged German cop with a strictly un-uniform leather miniskirt. "Taxi" can be quite old-fashioned in its portrayal of female characters - the good looking ones are introduced with slow moving full length body shots! In fact, the whole thing harks back to a different era of film-making when thrillers weren't confusing, comedies made you laugh and action films actually made you gasp in disbelief.

"Taxi" is easily the best French film I've seen for some time and is so much better than the cursed Hollywood remake that it's hard to believe how much they cocked things up. My advice is stick with the original which is the surprise package, packed with humour and fast cars, sexy women and impressive action sequences. What more could you possibly want from an action film? Some things didn't quite make sense and the ending felt like a let-down but you can't have everything. If you don't mind subtitles and are prepared for something a little different then you'll probably enjoy this film as much as I did.

0 comments, Reply to this entry


Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 May 2012 07:05 (A review of Apocalypto (2006))

The movie was well filmed, on a great location, with fantastic backdrops, and is Mel Gibson accurate on all accounts? No, but directors and cinematographers must make changes and put in their montages what they see as a visual story.

A small tribe being abducted to be sacrificed did indeed happen in the time of the film 1517 & 1518 the Post Classical Maya period. Even though it was the Aztecs who were the strongest in the time portrayed by the film, "they 'the Mayas' were close allies of the Aztecs, they shared ideas and religion; and there were trade routes throughout Mesoamerica.' (Adams,1998)

Were there all kinds of sacrifices going on? Yes, the Mesoamericans were going through all kinds of bad prophecies, such as the hundred year drought and there had been very little rain for the crops. People were starving, the moon ate the sun, and wild animals were attacking the villagers more and more. Since the Europeans had already landed in the Antilles and had already ventured into the Yucatan coast; there was an epidemic of measles and chicken pox that were heavily affecting the American Indigenous, who had no resistance for such diseases (the little girl in the movie). These were all signs that the gods were displeased.

For the Aztecs, Mayas and Incas blood was life. It was the flow of life, the liquid that provided life for them, and for the gods as well; and if the gods did not get enough blood the gods were unhappy. So the Aztecs and Mayas were sacrificing at an alarming rate trying to please the gods. This was unfortunate for the villages and tribes in and around the Aztec and Mayan major cities. Since the sacrifices had depleted the population in the larger cities (they could only sacrifice so many of their city people without creating chaos within the city) and most of the citizens and families had already donated a child or an adult male or female to the gods. Worriers were ordered to go outside the larger cities and abduct by force several individuals (young, old, women, and children) from the surrounding villages and tribes. The Spaniards were very much astonished when they witnessed their first human sacrifice, talk about cultural clash.

Most of the surrounding villagers did not want to partake in the sacrifices and several of the small villages had already donated a number of their kinfolks to the city leaders for sacrifices. Hence the bloody mess at the temples throughout Mexico in those times was horrendous, "approximately 40,000 individuals had been sacrificed in one year in Teotihuacan alone" (Adams, 1998). Imagine about 100 sacrifices per day.

This is why Cortés had no problem recruiting 50,000 to 100,000 Indigenous fighters to help his 400 Spaniard eventually defeat the Aztecs.

The thrill of seeing a young father and proud tribesmen going to save his wife and children is what movies are made of. The setting in the jungle, the animals, the danger, the trill of victory are all in this film, and even better because of the Mayan background.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Am I from a different planet?

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 May 2012 07:04 (A review of Son of the Mask (2005))

Series note: As this is not a direct, chapter-like continuation of The Mask (1994), one can easily watch either film first.

If I ever needed proof that I'm looking for something different in a film than most folks, here it is. While I don't think Son of the Mask is flawless, the only flaw I can really see is that the flow of the story doesn't quite make it as enrapturing or emotionally impactful as, say, Schindler's List (1993) or The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Two factors mitigate that lack. One, Son of the Mask isn't shooting for the same compelling emotional intensity as a film like Schindler's List. Two, Son of the Mask's other outstanding artistic qualities enable it to largely transcend any problems it has with achieving a spellbinding plot.

Of course, related to point one above, it's not that every film needs to have a paradigm-shattering plot to succeed. The Godfrey Reggio/Philip Glass trilogy of Koyaanisqatsi (1983), Powaqqatsi (1988) and Naqoyqatsi (2002) all receive scores of 9 or 10 from me, and debatably they have no plots, even if they make many cogent, often philosophical, "arguments" about culture.

But it's not that Son of the Mask's story isn't good. The plot is set in the same location--the fictional Edge City--as the first Mask (as well as John Arcudi and Doug Mahnke's comic books, upon which both films are based). The story could take place either before or after the beloved Jim Carrey film. Tim Avery (Jamie Kennedy) lives in the bucolic countryside that's ironically only two miles outside of Edge City (it seems almost like a northeastern New Jersey, Westchester County or southwestern Connecticut joke). The mask of Loki, the "God of mischief" in Norse mythology, comes floating down a stream, to be found by Tim's dog, Otis (in an alliterative reference to Odin, Loki's father, and a pun on Milo and Otis). Tim puts it on just in time for a Halloween party, which enables him to get in the good graces of both his boss, played by comedian Steven Wright, and his wife, Tonya (Traylor Howard). Prior to this, Tim was having trouble at work as a struggling animator relegated to giving studio tours dressed up as a giant tortoise, and his wife was nagging him about having a baby.

Meanwhile, we get to meet Loki himself (played by Alan Cumming) in a fabulous prologue set in a museum. It seems that he's lost his mask (of course) and Odin (an almost unrecognizable Bob Hoskins) is nagging him to find it. Tim's masked persona enables him to get a promotion and procreate, but the baby just may metaphysically be the son of Loki, and Loki exploits this fact to try to find his mask.

Although it sounds complex, perhaps, that's a more than attractive story to me. It actually trumps the first Mask film in a way by bringing the source of the mask into the proceedings. It's highly fantastical and surreal, and it enables a great number of deeper themes and subtexts. To a large extent, Son of the Mask is a film about fatherhood. It explores the fears and foibles that many fathers and fathers-to-be experience. The resolution to the film's dilemmas--and director Lawrence Guterman adeptly maintains two primary dilemmas throughout--hinge on learning how to be a better father. But there are other important themes and subtexts, including the importance of personal assertiveness (carried over from the themes of the first film), the quandaries of dual career families, "sibling" rivalry, child development issues, and maybe even the beginnings of an Oedipal complex.

Not that this is primarily a serious film, but it's not meant to be only or primarily a laugh-out-loud comedy, either. Guterman is much more concerned with achieving a thoroughgoing surrealism than he is with trying to make you laugh. I love surrealism, so I'm a prime candidate to love this film. In fact, I can't imagine anyone with a taste for surrealism not appreciating the film, at least to an extent.

The production design--including things like the sets, matte paintings, costumes, and the ubiquitous cgi--is simply amazing. The surreal action sequences are even better. Perhaps even more than the first film, Son of the Mask realizes a "live action" cartoon.

Tex Avery is again a strong reference (made obvious by Kennedy's character being named "Tim Avery" and working as an animator), as is classic Warner Brothers animation in general. A long section in the middle is a clever spoof on Chuck Jones' One Froggy Evening (1955), and there is another long section that is straight out of the Roadrunner cartoons (involving Otis first drawing up blueprints then trying to execute an elaborate, almost Rube Goldbergian "elimination contraption").

The funniest aspect of the movie for me, perhaps, was a kind of "suspended absurdity", made most clear when Tonya returns from her business trip and finds her home (which was subtly modeled after cartoon homes circa the 1940s and 1950s) still in shambles from the cartoonish events that preceded--the piano is still hanging from the top of the stairs, the giant boxing glove is still engaged, and so on.

But the performers have many funny moments, too. Although Kennedy has a couple moments of Jim Carrey-like mannerisms when Tim is The Mask, and these underscore that Kennedy can't do Carrey like Carrey can (of course), these are few and far between. Kennedy is Tim as Tim for most of the film, and funny at that. Alan Cumming was hilarious in his different disguises when he's searching for his mask, and entertaining otherwise--he's impressed me in all of his films I've seen. I also found the baby frequently funny, especially when more surreal.

Giving Son of the Mask a 1 or 2 seems simply ridiculous to me, even if there are elements of the film you strongly dislike. Technically, at least, this is an exemplary work of art. It deserves to be reconsidered.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

WOW!!!!! greatest movie of all... :)

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 May 2012 07:01 (A review of Shaolin Soccer)

Wow, I was really surprised by this movie. It is totally unique, I've never seen anything else like it. There is a very charming love story, and the effects are really cool. The idea of combining kung fu with soccer is very original.... even though it's so bizarre, you'll find yourself asking why nobody has done anything like this before. I laughed constantly throughout this movie and went out and bought it a few days after I first saw it.

I would recommend it to everyone I know. This is the best Asian comedy since the heyday of Jackie Chan and "Fighting Benny"! Go see it, buy it, whatever, just make sure you do see this film.

I would be surprised if there is not a sequel. This film should have been released theatrically in the US; I've heard Miramax handled it. Sorry guys you lost millions of dollars, this film would have been a smash hit. They probably just didn't think that soccer would sell in America, but word of mouth would have sold this movie very well.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

One of the best cinematic experiences ever...

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 May 2012 06:59 (A review of Avatar)

Forgive me, I'm going to jump from professional to fan boy for a while here. I haven't had the jitters after a film the way I've had for Avatar in quite sometime. James Cameron's Avatar is the most entertaining and enthralling cinematic experiences of my life. It is incredible, simply put. What Cameron has done here is the most passionate film project put out since Steven Spielberg released Schindler's List. His attention to detail and his zeal for pushing the envelope is so admirable to any filmmaker or actor who will ever do another film from this point on.

Avatar is the story of Jake Sully, a paraplegic marine, who replaces his brother on a secret mission to infiltrate the Na' vi, the colony of beings that sit on the planet of Pandora, where there is a precious ore, that sells at a ridiculous amount. When Jake learns the ways of the Na' vi, his feelings and learnings will put him and the people he trusts in dangerous jeopardy.

The performances here, in the sense of reacting, becoming, and understanding what Cameron has written are astounding. Not to be confused with a sensational bravura performance from some of the centuries best such as Marion Brando, Tom Hanks, or Diane Keaton; these actors along with the director inhabit these visual transformations with special effects as if they are have lived these beings all their lives. This is all based on character movements and reactions. Sam Worthington, as Jake Sully, is an actor who's on his way to becoming a star. Though he has problems with his Aussie accent often enough in the film, he gets the job done. Zoe Saldana, who plays Neytiri, a Na' vi huntress, is thrilling and electrifying. Stephen Lang, as the rock hard Colonel Miles, takes on a villainous turn to a new level in science fiction. He offers actual emotion and emotes evil to the audience and gains our hatred easily. Sigourney Weaver as the beautiful Dr. Grace, is sufficient enough to have on screen again teamed with Cameron. She lives inside her role with effortless ease, but suffers from some of the typical James Cameron cheesy lines.

Narratively the film works perfectly on the cinematic level. The first forty minutes or so require patience and hope as it is the weakest part of the film and offers some dreariness, but when the second act takes off, it's sky high with no limits for James Cameron. Avatar delivers the best action sequences put on film of all time. That is the boldest statement I have ever made in all my years of criticism. I sat on this for two days before charging it out, but I mean it. It is the best visual experience of my life, period.

Other than those visuals, the film pops with all the other technical aspects thrown into one. Art Direction is killer as the two worlds blend in perfectly for an acceptable time. The Film Editing is the crowning achievement of the film as it also offers the perfect blend of the two worlds, enticing the viewer and shifting us around. Mauro Fiore is the threat for a Cinematography Oscar this year. It was if the viewer sat down in a chair, put on glasses, and was literally placed on Pandora, spaceships, and floating mountains. The viewer can feel so engulfed by the imagery, you feel like you can smell the leaves from the trees. Avatar is utterly hypnotizing. James Horner's score is some of the best work done in his career. It offers a variable of devastation that moves the viewer to near tears. It goes back to his work on Titanic, where the musical instruments lifted the material immensely. The entire sound team is also locked and loaded for Oscar recognition as the feeling of animals, machines, and arrows buzzing by your head leave you imprisoned in Cameron's exquisite film.

James Cameron has come back home ladies and gentlemen Cameron is back, bigger, badder, and mature in his crowning work of his career. Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Titanic do not even compare anymore. This is the film that can blend the fans of those two films together and lock Cameron into your heart. He's a definite spoiler for a directing bid for the Academy Awards. You have admire the raw, natural talent the man has. How could you ever conceive such an experience and put that much effort and work into it and have it pay off? The box office success will surely keep him in the minds of voters for various critics' awards. His screenplay, leaps and bounds better than 1997's Best Picture Winner, is primed, developed and ripe for the taking. Though, you do acquire the tacky and atypical dialogue you expect from a science fiction director of this caliber, you can appreciate the effort and the honesty of it all. James Cameron is everything Michael Bay wishes he was, to put it bluntly.

Avatar will bring also great actors putting their best foot forward such as Giovanni Ribisi, who is as underrated as they come. Michelle Rodriguez who exudes sexy like any woman starring in a sci-fi epic. Joel Moore, showing his range outside of his comedic work in Dodgeball: An Underdog Story. And the classy veteran actors, CCH Pounder and Wes Studi, who just simply don't work enough.

Avatar is one of the best films of the year. The most exciting, thrilling, and superb work you'll feast your eyes on in any theater this century. Cinema, forever, will remember the benchmark that James Cameron placed not only for himself, but for any man, daring to change the game, the way Cameron did. Avatar is a movie experience to be remembered, and please experience in a movie theater first.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

The most visually appealing film

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 May 2012 06:57 (A review of TRON: Legacy)

TRON: Legacy has been one of the most promoted films of the year. With a monstrous budget (around $200 million) and reports saying that Disney is worried that the film isn't tracking as well as they'd hoped, the initial thought process from these rumors is that the TRON sequel will open to a disappointing first place weekend much like the most recent Chronicles of Narnia film. As of this writing, I haven't gotten around to seeing the original film. I wanted to, but thanks to Disney it was pretty much pulled from every retail store imaginable whether you wanted to rent or purchase the film at least until next year. The urge to see TRON: Legacy didn't really sink in until around the time the third trailer was released. While the Daft Punk score has interested me from the beginning, TRON: Legacy just seemed like another overrated piece of eye candy that fan boys were getting excited about. The thing about first impressions though is that they always have the opportunity to be wrong.

The glorified TRON sequel is getting a lot of mixed reviews from most movie critics. The problem seems to lie within the way the film is written and its screenplay. To tell the truth, you don't see a movie like this for a great story alone. The special effects are the main attraction and boy, do they deliver. The way programs disintegrate when they're disposed of, the light cycle battles, airborne chases, and the many fight sequences in the film are just a small example of the dazzling display of some of the most exceptional and impressive special effects ever seen in a cinematic feature. As with most films that have been presented in 3D lately, the 3D effect probably isn't necessary to enjoy a film of this magnitude. It'll be just as entertaining if you save yourself the extra $4 and see it in a conventional theater.

The writing didn't seem as bothersome as much as other reports say. It certainly wasn't the best, but it seemed like enough to add just the right amount of depth to TRON: Legacy and give it more of a background than most films revolving around spectacular special effects. There were a few lines that bothered me. The main one being when Alan first visits Sam and Sam says something about his father probably either being dead or chilling in Costa Rica...or both. Wait, what? It just gives you this Weekend at Bernie's flashback with Bernie being replaced with Kevin Flynn's limp carcass. Some of the lines Jeff Bridges muttered just made him seem way too much like The Dude from The Big Lebowski, which seems awesome but really has no place in the TRON universe. Saying things like, "Check this out," or, "Radical, man," followed by that stoner laugh of his really didn't help matters much. The weak points of the way the film is written are rectified with the way the film never lets your attention out of its choke-hold. You'll be drawn to the screen the entire film; that's practically a guarantee. The right mindset for a film like this can make or break your opinion of the film. If you don't have inflated expectations and don't expect much more than impressive special effects, then you'll probably walk away pleasantly surprised. I actually had a similar mindset during Avatar, which seemed to also suffer/take advantage of groundbreaking special effects being more consuming than the story and had a similar result.

The cast is about as developed as can be expected. The real star of the film is Garrett Hedlund, who does a pretty decent job of carrying the film and being generally astonished that not only was his father alive but the extraordinary world he always talked about actually existed. Jeff Bridges' performance isn't nearly as strong as his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, but he does have his moments. He seems to shine during his reunion with Hedlund and his strongest scenes are with Hedlund alone while being rather flat the rest of the time. Olivia Wilde's Quorra is interesting, as well. There's an intriguing twist to her character, but her fascination and curiosity revolving around the world Sam is from is what gives her character heart. Michael Sheen did seem a bit too over the top at times as Castor, but that may have been the point. The biggest surprise was seeing Cillian Murphy cameo. Given his strong outings in films like Sunshine, Peacock, and Inception, it just left me wanting to see more of his character in future installments assuming this film does well enough to warrant a sequel (or sequels).

TRON: Legacy is certainly the special effects extravaganza it's been made out to be all year. Its fantastic effects certify the sequel as being the most visually appealing film of the year. While the writing of the film isn't quite as polished as the special effects, there certainly seems to be a good enough balance to keep the film afloat and deliver an extremely entertaining way to kill two hours. As far as eye candy goes, TRON: Legacy is an incredible and all around awesome experience.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Hollywood is ruining my childhood memories!

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 May 2012 06:56 (A review of Dragonball: Evolution (2009))

Watching DBE i can immediately tell the directors and everyone else involved have not watched more than a few episodes of the entire Dragonball series. The characters are only similar in name and the story feels like they chewed it up and spit it out and whatever stuck to the storyboard they went with. I wont ruin the story but its nothing like the anime, as i said before the characters are only similar to the anime by name. It almost seems like they wanted to make this movie as bad and as far away from the original story as they could. The only time an actor or actress acts like their anime counterpart is when they are first introduced speaking mainly about Master Roshi and Yamcha.

For one of the most action packed animes around they sure did the opposite with the movie. I can count the number of fight scenes with one hand and count how long they lasted with two hands. Its pretty pathetic when the first fight scene with Goku and the "bullies" is the best and he never threw even threw a punch. The big screen debut of the Kamehameha is sad and pathetic and all the Ki blasts look like different color fire balls. They don't look pure energy (like they are in the anime) but just like slow motion fire.

I could go on for hours about what they did wrong. If you have never seen the anime series don't watch the movie. The story is probably too confusing for anyone who doesn't know the entire back-story of the anime. The movie only gives you the who and the what but no why. In fact i think why sums up the entire movie. Why did they do this and why did they do that is all i was thinking during the entire movie. At the end of the movie all i could do was ask "Why did they make this movie and who did they make this movie for?" This is not a movie for the fans or anyone who has never seen the anime. It feels like they made this movie for the people who hate the anime.

As a fan of the series I will award this no points and may god have mercy on their souls.

This movie is just plain disappointing to say the least. I don't care if this is an adaptation of Dragonball. I don't understand what was wrong with the original storyline that needed to be changed and messed with. It's the original storyline that made fans love Dragonball in the first place. "If it ain't broke don't fix it." I think this movie would do a lot better if they stuck with the original story and had better casting. The real fans would flood the theaters to watch it which would bring hype to the movie for new viewers that don't know about Dragonball, kind of like how Watchmen did. Street Fighter was horrible and they expect to do a sequel to it, this movie was a travesty...I guess next up will be Thundercats and Voltron for Hollywood to mess up for me. Thank you Hollywood for ruining my childhood memories.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

A fun, magical experience...

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 May 2012 06:53 (A review of Eragon)

I was a semi-fan of the book, but realized it's cliché's and realized that it wasn't anything extremely special, so I really didn't care how close they kept the film to the book.

I already knew the film would be cliché, as it is based on a cliché novel. But I really wanted this film to be fun and I wanted to see a good dragon film. I got what I wanted.

Ed Speleers does a good job for his first film role. There are moments in there where you wish he'd done it a little better, but compared to the kid who plays Harry Potter, this guy is awesome.

Jeremy Irons is THE perfect Brom. His portrayal of the character is a bit different from the book, but there are quite a few lines that the character says that are directly from the book, and he felt so right for the part. I was sad to see him die.

Arya is also portrayed a little differently than in the book, being less of a butt hole to Eragon and being a little more flirty with him. However, it doesn't go to far with it.

Durza ROCKED! He was so creepy. I was very impressed by that performance, as well as Galbatorix's.

The special effects were also amazing. Saphira was awesome! And her as a baby...well...awwww. :) I loved the score to this film. The main theme was cool and I liked how they kept that same theme in every single track. Hopefully, if and when Eldest is made, they'll expand the score int o multiple sub-themes and...well...I enjoyed the score. :) I think the two major flaws that I noticed in the film were that it was way too short for it's on good. It felt more like an outline of Eragon rather than what it should've been. And the second flaw being some of the dialogue was a little wooden in parts. Especially with Eragon and Durza.

Either way, this film was far better than the reviews were saying. Go there expecting a fun film, not an epic Lord of the Rings, and you'll enjoy it. And don't got there expecting a direct copy of Eragon the book. Think of it more of a new version of Eragon.

0 comments, Reply to this entry


Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 May 2012 06:50 (A review of Terra Nova)

Picture it: in the future, Earth is almost close to inhabitable from pollution and over population. The human race is doomed. All hope seems lost until a wormhole ("time fracture") opens up to the distant past when the earth was still brand spanking new, the air was clean, and the world unpolluted. In desperation, the government decides to start sending people out through the time portal to a colony called Terra Nova, where the human race can start fresh. There's just one catch-- they have to co-exist with dinosaurs, because the portal takes them back to prehistoric times.

This is a great, interesting premise for a TV series. Too bad that the pilot chose to play it out in the most derivative, unimaginative way possible. In all fairness to Terra Nova, whenever any sci-fi involves modern day human beings interacting with dinosaurs, it's bound to beg comparison with other shows and movies. However, in this case the grumblings about Terra Nova being derivative are warranted. This is because rather than try to develop an identity to shake off any accusations of being derivative, Terra Nova merely goes by the play book of so many shows and movies that came before it. It's two parts "Earth 2", three parts "Jurassic Park", one part "Cadillacs and Dinosaurs" and three parts "Land of the Lost" with a pinch of "Dinotopia" and a dash of "Lost". Maybe to people who've never seen these shows Terra Nova will feel fresh, new, and different, but to the very sci-fi fans to whom this show is targeted, it's the same old, same old.

Another big problem with the pilot were the clichéd characters and predictable situations. How many times have we had the "angry, rebellious teen" or the "wise, intelligent wife" who is constantly frustrated by the impulsiveness of her "gung ho husband?" Anyone really blown over by the fact that there's a "break away faction" of Terra Nova or that in spite of being presented as the "bad guys" they're probably "not what they seem?" Anyone really shocked that when Jim's son goes scampering out into the wilderness after a major fight, that he gets "rescued" later so that father and son could get over their differences? Of course not. Because this has been time and time again.

As if the clichéd characters and "saw this coming a mile away" situations weren't enough, the writers consistently showed a willing to sacrifice their characters for the sake of plot. In fact, most of the time the characters on Terra Nova were reduced to little more than catalysts to move a plot along. As a result, there was barely a moment when their actions didn't seem illogical, unnatural or heavily contrived. Examples:

1) A couple just decides (as opposed to accidentally conceiving) a 3rd child, even though it's against the law and the child would be born to a miserable world, anyway.

2) The father assaults a police officer when the illegal child is discovered, even though the worst the family would've endured was a fine.

3) Jim's son eagerly sneaks out of Terra Nova into wild territory where giant, man-eating dinosaurs randomly appear and kill people without warning.

4) A girl trapped in an armored vehicle thinks it's safer to leave it and run back towards Terra Nova with a gun, even though scene after scene before showed that weapons have no affect on the dinosaurs at all.

If the writers are showing this level of unsophistication so early, there's very little hope for the writing in the rest of the series.

Then there's the kiddie factor. In spite of the dramatic trailers with dark music, action-based scenes of fighting, and an edgy feel, the pilot revealed that Terra Nova isn't a show targeted towards adults, but towards children and young adults. Not only were the young characters the main focus in the pilot, the action scenes seemed to be catered to their benefit. Adults were easily dispatched by "slasher" dinosaurs, but go figure-- in spite of several of the teen characters getting brutally attacked (including one whose leg actually gets snacked on!), they miraculously survive intact. Incidentally, did you know that dinosaurs are "bullet proof?" Yes, that's right-- apparently, the impressive looking guns that all the characters wave around are for show because no matter how many rounds of ammo you hit the dinos with, they barely get so much as a scratch. Wouldn't want to upset the kiddies watching the show if you killed a T-Rex off, boo hoo hoo!

Okay, okay! "Enough!" you are probably saying. It's the first show. There are flaws, of course, but there's so much promise, right? "What about the rock markings and the Sixers and the blah blah blah?" What about all that cool setup? Well, here's where I really became depressed. Yes, there's a lot of intriguing stuff that was set up in the premise. But it's precisely because so much was set up in the pilot that I have no hope about the future of this series. Basically, by revealing so much in the first episode, Terra Nova shot its wad way too soon. Everything-- from the existence of the Sixers to the mysterious rock inscriptions-- could've gradually been unveiled over the course of a few episodes. But nope, the writers literally blurted out a season's worth of story arcs and mysteries in the first night alone. With so much of the most interesting "stuff" unveiled so soon, what else is there that's left to tell? Not much, I imagine!

So that's my review in a nutshell. Terra Nova seems to be nothing more than a kiddified, derivative sci-fi show with poor writing and clichéd characters. People convincing themselves that this is bound to be the best show on television are only kidding themselves and setting themselves up for disappointment in hoping this will be *the* Next Best Thing. Trust me-- it won't.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Boobs, Blood & Doc Brown.

Posted : 6 years, 2 months ago on 24 May 2012 02:28 (A review of Piranha 3D)

An underwater tremor unleashes thousands of hungry Piranha that have thought to have been extinct for millions of years. Bad timing, because it's Spring Break.

Piranha was, what some people called, a rip off of Jaws. Another person wanting a piece of the pie. It went on to have a sequel, to be directed by the now famous James Cameron and it seems that it is time for a remake, in 3D no less. Do we need a remake? Probably not, but the film is fun and excessively violent, which makes for a good time for those looking for b- movie horror goodness. Piranha delivers on the levels it aims for, take that as you want to.

Alexandre Aja directs this film, let's just forget he did Mirrors okay? He gets the bloody mess off to an interesting start by having Richard Dreyfuss in the film. A nod to Jaws no doubt, but one can only assume that he had him in here to say that this film is either a: More scarier or B: More dangerous. I'd go with the latter because the film isn't scary. What's more dangerous though? One shark, or thousands of Piranhas? You pick.

So it's Spring Break, so the fish have hundreds of young drunk teenagers to eat, and boy do they eat. The film doesn't shy away from the bloody truth. Piranha's can strip a cow to it's bones in minutes, these guys are more aggressive. They've been feeding off each other for millions of years and now they have a variety of meat to pick from. Yummy. So people die in bloody, over the top, funny ways. The film is one for the people who cheer when someone has their legs torn off. If that's not you, you might want to stay away from this one.

Also, if you're not a fan of naked women, you might want to stay away from this one. This film is full of naked women, left right and centre. There is even an underwater naked swimming dance sequence set to opera music. It's weird and funny at the same time because it comes out of nowhere.

The film could have used more of it's cast. We have Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd and Eli Roth. All of them are underused. Rhames, I thought was going to have a more hero type role, he doesn't. Roth has a total of maybe two scenes as does Lloyd. Dreyfuss only shows up at the beginning of the film. Once again, an interesting cast that is not put to good use. The film decides to stick with the blood and boobs.

The film is in 3D. I expected to have more fun with it than I did. Although I did enjoy it more than other 3D films I've seen. It has a more gimmicky feel to it and it actually fits with the film. Seeing bits of Piranha fly up at you is fun. Boobs in 3D, fish in 3D but the things that were used the most were the underwater coral reefs.

The theatre lost power near the end, so the last 3 or so minutes of the film we saw with no sound, but I could tell what was going to happen, even with the lack of audio. I'm not letting that affect my review for the film, but I can sense that the film was going to go for one of those jump-scare-abrupt endings.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Insert image

drop image here
(or click)
or enter URL:
 link image?  square?

Insert video

Format block