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February 2013

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Feb. 1st, 2013

My latest movie review: "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla"

The government of Japan has created the ultimate weapon against "Godzilla" (Tsutomu Kitagawa), a cyborg built using advanced DNA technology, with the remains of the original "Godzilla" killed after its attack in 1954 (a reference to the original movie) found on the Pacific Ocean floor. The cyborg, called "Kiryu" (Hirofumi Ishigaki), had missles, and a ray that froze whatever it struck.

Like most movies in the series, this one has strengths and weaknesses.

The special effects are pretty much a plus in this movie. Despite the movie being 11 years old now, the special effects have pretty much held up. Green screen effects don't stand out that bad for most of the time, but it does briefly a few times. The arsenal of "Kiryu" are pretty believeable special effects, including the launching sequence of the "absolute zero" ray. "Godzilla" itself looks a lot bulkier than previous versions, but pretty realistic.

The score of the movie is pretty good, but not really memorable. It helped enhance the fight scenes pretty well, without overwhelming them.

One big problem with the story was, as usual for a "Godzilla" movie, the human cast plotlines. We get to see no more than motive to destroy the beast, but not much else when it comes to character development. Their interaction with each other is pretty good though, but their relationships aren't really expanded on.

"Godzilla" itself never really appeared as a threat to the Japanese population, which was nothing more than collateral damage. "Godzilla" was much more focused on his enemy, "Kiryu" than the people whose nuclear advancedments created it. "Godzilla" basically ignored any part of Japan it stomped through. It also barely put up a fight against "Kiryu", and appeared fairly weak for the one with top billing.

Overall, this is not a great "Godzilla" film, but fans of the series will find it no more than acceptable. If you never seen one of the movies, don't start with this one.

Jan. 31st, 2013

My latest movie review: "Godzilla 2000"

"Godzilla" (Tsutomu Kitagawa) is back, and this time he has to save Japan from an alien invasion which targets the nuclear-powered dinosaur for motives believed to be cloning Japan's King of Monsters.

I just watched this movie through Crackle via YouTube (Free movie section), and I was pretty impressed. Then again, I was a fan when I discovered the older movies on Saturday morning television.

The movie is well paced, with a few flaws in the plot. The dubbing seemed to me to be nearly perfect, and didn't over run the movement of the actors. In other words, when the actors on-screen stopped, talking, the dub stopped. I remember earlier movies in the series where the English voiceover was still talking for only a few words when the actor obviously stopped talking.

The special effects in the movie were pretty good if you ask me, with a few minor glitches with green-screen effects or CGI. The two monsters, "Godzilla" and "Orga" (Makato Ito), which reminded me of the "Rancor" from one of the "Star Wars" movies, were amazing, especially the remade "Godzilla" with the larger back plates (which kinda looked odd to me since they were not like the ones I remember when I was younger), and prominant ears. The sound effects of the creatures voices were fantastic ("Godzilla") to fair ("Orga").

The acting, from the visual to the dubbing, was really good. Performances from the dubbing actors helped make the visual believeable. The majority of the cast was likeable.

The music was typical for a "Godzilla" movie, and helped enhance the film at times. I can't say I could identify any piece of music though by itself.

Overall, I would have to say that this is a pretty good additon to the franchise.

May. 18th, 2011

My latest movie review: "Angels & Demons"

"Robert Langdon" (Tom Hanks) is back, and he has only a few hours to solve a mystery to save thousands of Catholic faithful, and top candidates for role of pope, before an incident which will kill them all as they await the annoucement of who the new leader of the church will be.

Now, "Langdon", along with a woman who helped create antimatter in a lab, must figure out the clues and save the faithful of the world's largest church.

Let me say first that this is much better than the original movie, which I barely remember seeing. You really don't need to read the novel that the movie is based upon to enjoy it.

There are some really good performances in this film, especially from Hanks, who proved himself as a solid leading man many times. Here, he really shines as a leading man.

There is some serious problems with character development with supporting characters, especially "Dr. Vittoria Vetra" (Ayelet Zurer), whose antimatter is being used as a weapon, and "Camerlengo Patrick McKenna" (Ewan McGregor), who turns an interesting plot twist that I never expected at the end, but isn't seen as much as I would like.

Another problem with this movie is that it is obvious that they opted for green screen for many scenes depicting Roman Catholic churches within Rome's city limits (the church refused to allow the movie to be filmed at the locations since the church declared the book offesive to the church). A barely trained eye (which I have since I learned TV production back in high school) could see the actors were in front of a green screen. These effects will become noticeable to the untrained eye as the film ages, and special effects advance.

One thing this movie does pretty well is that it gives very little time for the audience to breathe between action and plot advancing scenes. You get excited as "Langdon" and "Vetra" get closer to the murderer(s) as they discover new clues.

Despite not being able to shoot on location, and the threat of a strike at the time, Ron Howard did a great job in the director's chair as usual. He was able to use interesting camera angles to help tell the story nicely.

I can't really say I noticed the soundtrack of the movie, since I barely pay attention to instrumentals since that's not my style I listen to. I do notice that it helped the scenes, and in this movie it did.

If you see this on any of the movie channels like HBO, or on Netflix, check this one out.

My latest movie review: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

"Gorge Cassidy" (Paul Newman), a.k.a. "Butch Cassidy", and "Lonny Longbaugh" (Robert Redoford), a.k.a. "The Sundance Kid, are two of the greatest robbers in the history of the Old West. They pulled jobs on banks and trains with an expertise that made them famous from coast to coast.

Now, years after being out of the business for about two decades, they decide to pull one last bank heist in Bolivia, with the help of a school teacher (Katharine Ross) with romantic ties to both men.

I have to say that I am pretty disappointed in this film. I found it to be slow, with not enough action considering the topic of the movie. It dragged so much that I noticed spending more attention to my computer than watching the movie itself on cable television.

One thing that stood out was the on-screen relationship between Newman and Redford. This is what carries the movie I believe, and most likely why this movie is called a classic now. You feel as if the two are not just partners in crime, but friends with the ribbing that they give one another.

Another problem with this movie is the soundtrack. The only piece of music that is memorable is Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head by BJ Thomas, and that was a weird tune for a Western set in the Old West. If you ask me, the song was just an odd choice.

I also barely enjoyed Ross as "Etta Place". Her character was barely developed if you asked me. It appeared that she was there as a romantic interest, and to help teach "Butch" and "Sundance" Spanish for their attempt at robbing the Bolivian bank.

If you expect a lot of gunfights, you are mistaken on this one. Of what there is in the movie, they are short and well placed.

The cinematography is hard for me to judge since Encore Westerns used a pan-and-scan format. I had to deal with only half of a scene when two people were talking to one another. But, from wide shots, I could see some spectacular scenery, including the famous scene when the title characters jump from a cliff into the water.

Because it was declared a classic, I've been wanting to see this movie. I am highly disappointed in it.


May. 11th, 2011

My latest movie review: "Oh, God!"


"Jerry Landers" (John Denver) is a family man with a steady job at a grocery store. One day, he gets a weird letter telling him to go to a building for a meeting with "God" (George Burns in one of his most famous roles). "God" asks him to get His message out to the world.

"Landers", who is skeptical of the kindly old man who asks for his help, and a non-believer in God, tries to get out the message by any means. He eventually gets on national television, and in front of a panel of religious leaders, who ask him to have "God" answer a list of questions, written in an ancient and extinct language.

Now, "Landers" has to prove to the court of the existance of "God", while trying to defend himself in a slander suit filed against him by a televangelist over comments "Landers" credits to "God", who claims the televangelist is a fraud.

Let me say that, when I first saw this, I thought it was funnier. Having seen it all these years later, the jokes fell flat in my opinion. However, I was not once offended by any joke in the film. The humor targets a lot of questions believers and non-believers of the Almighty ask when questioning their beliefs, but not once is offensive. If you ask me now, the jokes are worth a couple of chuckles.

For anybody who is a hardcore believer, who will walk up to a stranger to give his or her testimony and try to convert the person, I can guarantee you that you will not be offended with this movie at all. The subject matter is handled with extreme care, and is handled perfectly by Denver, and especially Burns.

The performances in this movie are pretty good if you ask me. Terri Garr, who portrays Denver's wife, plays her character as a woman who is skeptical of her husband's believe that he was visited by God, but supports him no matter what. Denver was pretty good in his role, never missing a beat as Burns straight man, and handled his character's transformation in the film nicely.

Burns though is easily the star of this film, and made "God" one of his most memorable roles in his career. Anybody who has seen this movie, or its two sequels have never forgotten Burns in this role. To his fans, this and his role with the love of his life, Gracie Allen, is fondly remembered.

This film is perfect for families, as their is no violence or swearing. Younger children may not understand the message of the film, but might enjoy some of the jokes. Older kids will understand the message, and may have questions about their own faith.

The supporting cast is not well developed in this film, especially the televangelist, who was the most vocal in the counsel that asked "Landers" to have "God" answer the questions they gave him. Personally, I would have liked to have seen the televangelist go to his flock and the media to try to discredit "Landers" in his believe he saw "God". Just having "God" tell "Landers" to call the guy a fraud to help set up the court scene was a bit weak in my opinion.

There is some special effects in this film, but you can tell they were all done by editing. They just don't hold up after all these years. The soundtrack was completely forgettable as well.

In my opinion, this movie is not bad. I would suggest to watch it on television if there is nothing else on.

My latest movie review: "Cobra" (1986)


"Marion 'Cobra' Cobretti" (Sylvester Stallone) is a cop who is not afraid to risk his life to get the bad guy, and comes in as a last resort. He patrols a city with a high crime rate that is in the grip of a serial killer the media has nicknamed the "Night Slasher."

Those involved in the investigation to catch the killer are going nowhere, and "Cobretti" gets involved when he is assigned to protect the only surviving witness (Brigitte Nielsen) to one of the killer's murder. Using his police skills, "Cobretti" is one step ahead of the others, and figures out some points of the case before the others. However, his suggestions are pushed to the side by certain members of the team who do not like the way he handles things.

Now, "Cobretti" and his partner (Reni Santoni) must protect the witness, with little help from a female officer who, in fact, is connected to the killer on a personal level.

This movie is fairly good, but is pretty toned down after the scene that "Cobretti" is introduced in. There is some good action scenes though, but they are spaced out from each other to give the audience a pretty good breather. However, these scenes between the action failed at giving the characters some character development.

I was not sure if "Gonzales" (Santoni) was "Cobretti's" partner before "Cobretti" was called in to protect the witness or not. It was pretty obvious that they respected each other more than "Cobretti" respected others on the force who always confronted him on his ways in doing his job, especially one vocal one in particular. There was also very little character development with the villains, who the police believe is only one person due to one using a very distinct weapon to slash victims.

One character that should have been developed more, not to mentioned had a bigger role than she did, was the mole. This character had the least amount of lines, and never interacted with the witness, "Cobretti" or "Gonzales" after being assigned to help protect the witness. I would have liked to have seen this character more developed, and attempting to steer the others away from her as a suspect when "Cobretti" figured out there is a mole in the department.

The action scenes are pretty well done. With only two that are real graphic in comparison with the others. We get a good car chase, with gunplay on the highway, the lead villain visiting the witness in the hospital with intent to kill her, and a final confrontation between the villain and "Cobretti" near the end of the film. That final scene between our hero and the villain is the only time the two have any interaction since the general public is unaware of "Cobretti" protecting the witness. I would have liked to have seen some scenes where they meet eye-to-eye, with the villain having a "cat me if you can" attitude before escaping.

The acting is surprisingly good in this movie. Stallone portayed his character as a jerk only when needed, and allowed his softer side to show. I liked the interaction between "Cobretti" and "Gonzales", who would tease each other as if they knew one another for awhile. The interaction between Stallone and Nielsen, who married some time after this film, was also good, but not great thanks to the script not being that great.

I personally would have liked to have seen more of a love subplot between "Cobretti" and the witness. You didn't really seeing them glancing at each other until the two ended up in bed before the climatic final battle. I also would have liked to seen more from the villains and supporting cast that worked with "Cobretti" and "Gonzales".

The motive for the killings are never investigated by "Cobretti" or "Gonzales". In fact, I don't think any of those involved in the investigation came up with a probable motive that was proven pretty much wrong by one of the lead characters as their investigation slowly lead them to the villains. It takes the lead villain's dialogue in his final confrontation with "Cobretti" to explain their motive. Not once is the audience given even a hit as to the motive for the killings anywhere in the movie.

One thing that sticks out is product placement. I have no problem with product placement, but they made it pretty obvious when you see the Coca-Cola and Pepsi logos all over the place, or when a character is drinking a beer or soda with the logo facing the camera. You even had "Cobretti" turning on a TV in his apartment just as a Toys 'R' Us Christmas commercial is starting as if the TV was programed to play it as the set switched on. Good product placement should make it less obvious than this movie made them. Heck, even products that were in the grocery store at the begining of the movie happened to fall to the floor with logos facing the camera.

Another thing that is seen a lot of is the cliche of the hero spouting one-liners. Stallone had some good one-liners through the entire movie, but none have gone down as memorable lines in movie history.

With some good performances from the main cast, this movie is pretty watchable. I would not put it on your Must See List though. If you like good action films, this one should go on your To See List, but don't put it high on your list considering action scenes are spead out a bit too much if you ask me. The movie gave too much of a breather for the audience between action scenes in my opinion.

I would have to give this movie a B-minus overall. Catch it on TV, or the On Demand section of your local cable company. I personally watched it on my cable company's website, which has movies and TV shows much like Hulu does.

May. 7th, 2011

My latest movie review: "Robin Hood" (2010)


From what I saw in the trailers for this film, I was expecting a fast-paced action flick. Sadly, the movie is far from it.

Following the death of "King Richard the Lionhearted" (Danny Huston) during the Crusades, "Robin Longstride" (Russell Crowe) and four men come upon the aftermath of an ambush, and find a dying British knight who tells "Longstride" of a plot between France and a British collaborator -- a British knight.

"Longstride" promises the dying knight that he will return the knight's sword to his father. But, when he returns to his homeland, he poses as the knight, and helps those in need.

Based on centuries old legends from Great Britian, Robin Hood is far from the typical depictions we have seen over the years in popular media. In other depections, including a popular BBC television series in 2006, "Hood" is either arriving from his journey home from the Holy Land or he has been back for some time, and already declared an outlaw. This movie is focused more on the events leading to the title character becoming the legendary "Robin Hood". But, unlike other depictions I've seen, this one is not a strong representation of the legendary outlaw.

The first 75% of the film is unbearably slow I thought, and I noticed I was paying more attention to my computer (I watched it on HBO this afternoon) than the television. To me, the scenes between any fight scenes just lagged and had poor development for the characters.

It appears that those behind the scenes relied on the audience already knowing the characters, and gave them little to no development. They introduced some new twists with the characters, which worked fairly well, but they were just not presented in an interesting way I thought.

I felt little to no chemistry between the characters, especially between "Marion" (Cate Blanchett) and "Longstride". All the main players are there, but they were one-dimensional in my opinion. None of them stood out.

One thing I noticed is that non-British actors had a terrible time with the British accent. Sometimes they sounded British, while other times, their accents sounded Irish or even Scottish. It was very obvious that the dialect coach hired to help the non-British cast members failed in his or her job. It got quite confusing at times when I heard the wrong accent.

Probably because they were working with a well known story, the movie is pretty predictable. The actors in this movie failed at attempting to make their lines believeable, which didn't get them out of the one-dimensional feel I was getting from them. The worse of the characters had to be "King John" (Oscar Isaac), who was absolutely horrible. Isaac's performance was uneven, and came off as trying to be comical when he most likely wasn't trying to be that way.

Cinematorgraphy wasn't that great either, but was slightly better during wide angle scenes during battles. There were no bright colors in the scenery, nor wardrobe. It was a pretty bland looking movie, which went along with the bland performances.

One thing you need to know is that this movie is fairly violent. I would not suggest this for a young audience that the Disney version of this story targets. You will see a lot of gruesome wounds like an arrow through a hand or chest. It looked as if they did a fair job at focusing at main cast members in close-up shots during large battles, but those close-ups were rushed and just did not work out if you ask me.

If you are a fan of the legend, this is going to disappoint you. If you are new to the legend, I would suggest the superior BBC television series that ended about a year before this movie came out, and all three seasons of that version would be a better addition to your Netflix queue or your personal DVD/Blu-Ray collection. The BBC series has more interesting depictions of the main cast of characters, and is more family-friendly.

Sep. 19th, 2010

My latest movie review: "Winds of the Wasteland"


An end of the era is coming. The Pony Express is nearing an end as the telegraph line is about to be put up, making the way the mail was delivered for years obsolete.
 

Two Pony Express riders (John Wayne, Lane Chandler) decide to go into the stagecoach business, with the Pony Express horses that were given to them and other riders as a gift of thanks for their service. The two ask the owner of the local stagecoach service (Douglas Cosgrove) if they could purchase one of his older stagecoaches. However, he offers them their own franchise to a city almost an hour away, Crescent City.

 
The two travel to the small city, only to realize they were tricked. Turns out that the city is rundown, and has only two residents.

 
"John Blair" (Wayne) decides it's not worth accepting the offer for the franchise, but the mayor of the city (Lew Kelly), who has a lot of other jobs in the city, informs him that the United States government is offering a contract to deliver the mail in the area via stage coach. As long as they win a race with other stage coach services in the area.

 
At one point, "Blair" comes across the team putting up the telegraph wires for the area, and gets them to agree to bring the telegraph to Crescent City, and a much needed boost to the population.

 
Word gets to "Cal Drake" (Cosgrove), who makes plans to sabotage the Crescent City line's chances in winning that contract.

 
Now, "Blair" has to win the contract -- and try to keep the new residence of Crescent City there.

 
The first problem with this movie is the length. It's almost 56 minutes long, and doesn't feel like a movie at all. However, it's got some pretty good performances that make it interesting enough to keep your attention.

 
I can't remember how many early Wayne movies I've seen lately, but, as with all the previous ones, I think Wayne has the strongest performance in the film. The others are pretty memorable as well, with Phyllis Fraser with the weakest performance as the daughter of one of the original two Crescent City residents.

 
One of the biggest problems this movie has, most likely due to the length of it, is character development. Many supporting characters had very little development. You get to meet them, and how they play in the story, but not much more. The movie basically focuses on Wayne's character, which doesn't give the supporting cast any screen time to advance any subplots they are a part of.

 
One of those subplots that was completely missed was the romantic subplot between "Barbara Forsythe" (Fraser) and both of the lead actors. There is no story that describes how she appears to go after one of them, but ends up with the other.

 
The soundtrack to the movie sounded to me like a early TV Western. Nothing when it came to music stood out at all. Even the music during the only fist fight in the entire film was pretty bad. This soundtrack will not go down as one of the greatest scores in movie history.

 
Due to the time this film was made, the special effects are not done by a computer, and are, at best, OK. In scenes where the two characters are riding on the stagecoach, it is obvious that they are in front of a movie screen. But, this simplistic effect works real well.

 
The movie is mainly shot outdoors. But, none of the scenes are memorable. There are a few horse chases, and the stage coach race that are shot fairly nicely. And the shots during the race where they go from the race to close-ups on stagecoach mock ups in front of a movie screen are edited together smoothly.

 
Despite the flaws of this movie, this is not a bad movie. I would not put it in your must-see list, but you should check it out if you see it on Encore Westerns, and there is nothing better to do. In fact, it's currently on Hulu right now, which is how I watched it.

I would also check it out if you are a fan of John Wayne. It will show you that he was destined for his legendary status in Hollywood.

May. 16th, 2010

My latest movie review: "The Beast of 1,000,000 Eyes"


A strange thing has flown over the home of a family somewhere in a desert area. As it flew over, it made an unusual whine, and shook the ground and buildings as it passed. The family is already under a lot of stress due to the situation with the crop, and it has put a strain on everybody.

Shortly after the thing flew over the property, the animals, domestic and wild alike, begin to exibit strange behavior which includes attacking the people near them. Eventually, it is learned that the stange behavior comes from a small space craft of unknown origin. Whatever, or whoever, is inside eventually begins to control the humans which it comes in contact with.

Let me say first, this movie is horrible. As I watched it, it began to appear that the title was very misleading. However, after some online research, I learned that the title refers to the alien force's (voiced by Bruce Whitmore) ability to see through the beings it possesses. This ability is not very clear, especially when we see the creature in the last minutes of the movie.

The acting is not great in this one, and is pretty much forgettable. Out of the entire, extremely tiny cast of six people (on-screen), I would have to say Paul Birch, who plays the father/husband who eventually figures out something to defeat the creature, has the strongest performance of the entire cast. However, that's not saying much due to this being a typical B movie with an extremely weak script.

This movie is suppose to be a sci-fi/horror. It does have a touch of science-ficiton, but the horror is more laughable than scary. The first wave of the alien creature's attack is through the local domesticated and wild animals. You have the family dog apparently trying to kill the wife/mother (Lorna Thayer) at one point, but it is obvious that the dog is just running around enjoying itself. Not once did it look menacing. Another point, she is attacked by the chickens in the coop on the property, and this is easily the most laughable attack of them all since it's pretty obvious the chickens are being thrown at her from people off-camera.

This is a low-budget movie, and it painfully shows when it comes to the special effects. The alien, which is seen briefly at the movie's climax, is obviously a rubber figurine. At one point, as the creature is revealed, it is covered by an eye ball obviously added in post production. The most annoying effect though has to be what is suppose to be the space craft's engine. I actually had to turn down my computer's volume because of it. The noise was not comfortable to my ears.

The only reason to see this movie is its message of love. You might roll your eyes a bit when the message is revealed in the climax of the movie with the way it is related to the situation, but it is still a good message.

If you like these kind of films, check it out. You probably would enjoy it more than others. If you expect some great scares, then avoid this one since they aren't there. This is not a great movie at all.


May. 15th, 2010

My latest movie review: "Angel and the Badman" (1947)


A wounded "Quirt Evans" (John Wayne) is injured even more as his horse collapses near the house of a Quaker family, who take him in and treat him.

He catches the eye of the daughter in the family (Gail Russell), and he is obviously attracted to her. But, he just can't shake his past as outlaws and the law alike try to get them for whatever reason.

Now he has to look at himself and try to figure out what to do with his life.

I have been watching a lot of movies starring John Wayne lately on Hulu, and this is easily the longest one so far. It is also one of the best ones on the site.

For the first time in his career, Wayne is pulling double duty in this film. First, he is the leading man, as well as a first-time producer. Since I have no clue as to a producer's job, all I can do is judge him on his performance in front of the camera. And I have to say he does a pretty good job.

What makes this Western unique is that it focuses on the personal conflict of "Evans," while throwing everything familiar to Westerns in. The focus is on "Evan's" personal struggle more than the typical plot of a Western.

Violence in this movie is fairly tame in this movie, even by the standards of the time of its release. You get some shooting, and one fist fight (which mostly remains off-screen), and one attack from behind with an object from their surroundings. The violence is tame most likely because of the morality of the plot.

I was not impressed with the romance subplot. Actually, not the way it was handled. I found it to be pretty weak, and not given the screen time it should have had. I think that the two involved were rushed in the storyline, and not given time to develop the on-screen relationship.

I was also not impressed with the chemistry between Wayne and Russell. They had some chemistry together, but nothing impressive. In fact, I wasn't impressed with much of the chemistry between many cast members.

I did not like many of the supporting cast, many of which didn't have time to develop. The child actor in this movie was pretty annoying, and seemed to be there just to throw out some complaints as some poor comic relief that, for me, didn't even produce a chuckle.

Unlike other recent movies I've watched starring Wayne, I didn't hear any problems with audio. I did have a problem with the picture going fuzzy at times. It appears that Hulu got a bad print to upload. Also, unlike the other movies I've seen in the last couple of weeks, it appeared there was more music in the film. I didn't find any of the music helping in enhansing scenes, and can't remember any particular piece of music except a song being performed on stage in a bar scene.

Parents need not worry about the violence in this film. It's pretty mild. You can watch this movie with no problem. In fact, parents will like the moral of this story.

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