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All reviews - DVDs (151)

lot of money, little effort

Posted : 9 years, 10 months ago on 10 July 2013 12:25 (A review of Planet of the Apes)

so much potential goes to waste in this film.

i'm not a huge fan of the originals although i'll watch them and do generally enjoy them. i was excited to see a remake because its a rich concept. i was excited to see tim burton remake it because i expect a wild take on it. he really could have done so much with this material because he is a great film maker and story teller. the truth is that this film is bad. not completely unwatchable bad but nothing i'd go out of my way to see again.

the whole premise starts out kind've bad and you hope it was just a fluke. unfortunately its not. a research ship/station out in space is doing some sort've flight test stuff with chimps. never really explained. trained intelligent chimps is just a plot point. ship finds a...??...wormhole?? yeah whatever just a plot point. basically scene 2 they send in chimp pilot, which we've already seen in the very open sequence fails a flight simulator test. more blunt plot points. the chimp is sucked into it. and immediately the trainer (mark walhberg) jumps in another ship to go save the chimp. why? you guessed it: plot point. in fact a small scene just before this he basically doesn't care about the chimps. this is all a set up, quickly run through to get to the main point where wahlberg's charactor get sucked into the wormhole after the chimp. inside the wormhole a conveniently placed meter counts off the quickly passing years. we're suppose to take for granted these ships have a prominently place calculator for changing years as if its normal and necessary, i guess? or it may just be a shitty overly blunt plot point. take your pick.

he crash lands on the planet of the apes and is immediately captured when he ends up in the middle of a group of fleeing humans. we're immediately shown the female "love interest" human sympathizer. blah blah blah. he along with some other humans escape with her help. blah blah blah....no one cares. advance the story stuff. effects effects effects, explosions, battles, effects. whatever. about the only thing surprising here is that there are no sex scenes. its almost like they forgot them since all the rest is so overly formulaic.

whats utterly lacking in this movie is character development. take for instance they young boy. clearly we're suppose to sympathize with him as a young boy becoming a man standing up for his rights. but he's only in the movie for a few moments. you remember him only because he plays a prominent part in a scene where he acts on his own and ends up stuck as an army of apemen come towards him and has to be saved by the only person who could possible do so, if only because it makes him seem like he cares to the viewers of the movie, mark walhberg's character.

there's action. yea! there's effects. yea! there is a plot. ok. all you need right? no, you definitely need more than that. and this doesn't deliver.

there are some scenes that are so embarrassing you have to hope like hell they were intended to be kitch. unfortunately they don't work that way and you just try to forget them.

the ending is a nice summation with somewhat obvious "revelations". you might however wonder how the movie ended up being so long when at every point the plot plows though like it was written in brief tweets. i've certainly spent more time on this review than they did on character development.

its watchable. thats about it. with all the money that obviously went into this, with the concepts available to work with, with tim burton at the helm....this should've been way better than it is.


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mildly good

Posted : 10 years, 5 months ago on 9 December 2012 03:09 (A review of The Wild)

this is a decent movie that should be entertaining enough for most kids and maybe adults too. it never raises to the level of madagascar which its obviously banking off of. and thats sort've a shame because it has good potential. the jokes don't really come off well even when there are good jokes they aren't delivered especially well. and too much of the film seems rehashed. parts are clearly meant to be parody, but instead come off as copy and paste.

there is a couple of scenes which might be inappropriate although they'll likely go over the kids heads. weirdly these moments didn't seem interjected for the parents as much as they just seemed rushed-to-print ideas that probably would've been better left out.

story: a lion tries to teach his son to roar but mistakenly makes it seem as if he has to experience the wild nature things to learn to do so. son runs away back to africa (the cover refers to the animals being loose in ny for this but it mostly happens in africa). son learns his father isn't that grand of a wild animal and in fact wasn't really in the wild. yadda yadda...it doesn't really matter...its fluff for the comedy/drama to happen.


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violence for kids...i think

Posted : 10 years, 7 months ago on 14 October 2012 06:16 (A review of 10,000 BC)

whatever this movie had going for it was wasted.

at least you know quickly that what you're watching has little connection to reality. its a cartoon...a violent one; which makes it a little hard to assess who the target audience was??

a group of pre-historic hunters are down on luck and some blah blah blah about a legend is narrated over the beginning. as soon as you hear the first bit of narration, you should already know its going to be a bad movie. they might as well have said (in a deep wispy voice of course) "remember the last fantasy story you saw? yup, this is the same thing." its just that everything here is so generic that its hard to not laugh. its a parody, right?

love story, check. male proving himself, check. silly outfits, check. storytelling voices...by everyone, check. it goes on and on.

i like fantasy movies. hell i like fantasy movies that can only be guilty pleasures. but this is intolerable.

they would have done better to go way over the top with everything than to try to ground this in pre-historic times. simply because once you hear the voices that the charactors use, you can't help but to be pulled out from the experience of theater. your mind, which allows the overly modern features of the cast...even the clearly beautiful for the sake of prettiness...to completely be part of the drama. but the voices are simply preposterous and have place on a show like saturday night live but not in an apparently serious fantasy movie. its a parody, right?

theres enough mindless drama to make the movie watchable. but i can't honestly say much good about it. its a adequate story which could be serviceable, but nothing else adds up here. i suppose the acting isn't actually bad, precisely because its how they were directed to be. camerawork and animation is decent, i guess. but none of that brings up the failures elsewhere.

the most important scene is the cover/ scene. (which in point, never happens in as an image) he saves a sabertooth tiger, and the tiger comes back to save him right afterwords. this in turn is proof of another tribes "legend" which we get to see as an appallingly disney cartoon version of a cave painting (though not on a cave). and then its all dropped completely.

stupid movie. too violent for kids, too dumb for adults. who is watching this? its a parody....nope, it just sucks.


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caricatures on a road trip to find gold

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 8 September 2012 04:44 (A review of Lewis & Clark & George)

its not really that this is an outright bad film, its just simply nothing new and not interesting enough to warrant watching. its an extended fairly competent student grade film.

of the 3 main characters only one is noticeably acceptable as an actor. the other two are more like a test screening and a over done caricature.

its left to the plot to be worthwhile and while not all that bad, its lazily done. a basic map to gold treasure hunt road trip with every cliche along the way. starts off with to prison escapes who possess about enough intelligence to piss in a pot. one was given the directions to a map by a fellow inmate before he died. you expect all along that there won't be gold at the end and thats about the only thing thats not cliche here. they instead find a clue to another clue...etc. soon they meet the 3rd character, a mute girl who's on her own quest with a stolen snake (one of the dumbest points in the movie). the clues are written in spanish which the girl can read but can't say (so?), the smarter guy can tell the other guy because he can speak...ok yeah..., and the dumb guy is i guess the trigger happy muscle (and the one who originally was given the directions). they steal cars which are always incredibly strange completely identifiably old models. theres a couple people including cops chasing them. blah blah blah. girl tries to tear them apart....blah blah blah. and in the end...surprise....girl speaks and runs off with the gold.

maybe that gives away something but let me save you the time. for all the time it takes to actually flesh out the plot, there is a lot of tedious, amateur filming, with little or no interest to it.

like i said, it may not be bad and i'd watch it laying around bed on a saturday if it was on tv...but its not worth investing time into. thankfully i was sick when i watched it so i stuck with it and passed that time. i guess its worth that.


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like extended outtakes

Posted : 10 years, 8 months ago on 7 September 2012 07:03 (A review of Traveling with Yoshitomo Nara (New People Artist Series Vol. 1))

i like nara's work a lot. i just enjoy it. while questionable in the long history of art, its fun and for me thats enough. so when i saw this documentary i was surprised and i knew i wanted to see it. i had expectations then, which might cloud my judgement.

the truth is though that while this might be an amazing introduction, having already known his work there is not much to gain here. thats unfortunate. and considering the extended access the filmmakers had to nara, its a missed opportunity.

much of the film follow nara around to this and that place. its hard to gather why we need to see these moments. sure its interesting to see the korean's who treat him as a rock star and follow him as a fan club. that is in fact unusual enough to dignify seeing. but, as is shown during that segment, when asked about how he comes up with his work he replies "i don't know". that is true too often of just about every thing he says related directly to the work. we do get to see the process of a painting come into being; which is invaluable evidence. we get to see how a large project is imagined and followed through. but it continues to be short on any thought process, beyond extended segments of thinking and coy shy interactions.

worse since nara himself offers little, one should expect then some outside criticism or essay. there is none. exactly none.

at 90 minutes this gets a bit tedious. i enjoyed seeing nara and i did enjoy watching the film, but i could neither recommend it nor expect to watch it again. theres no reason to.

and an extra note: the "extras" on the dvd include exactly nothing but the trailers to other films in the series. that is not what i'd call "extras"


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turning around

Posted : 10 years, 9 months ago on 15 August 2012 05:57 (A review of Bad Education (R-Rated Edition))

bad education is a good movie. it twists and turns in ways that i didn't really see coming although its not a shocking "oh we totally got you" sort've thing. it shows a story that has different people who went different ways, their interconnections, and then all the lies and deceit as they try to work their own way through whatever life they've made for themselves.

two young boys in a religious prep-school fall in love. the priest who are in charge of them are a gang of child molesting villains. split up the two boys don't meet again. much later in life the one boy who was expelled, so the other could be kept as a personal play thing, has become a known director. another man shows up claiming to be the boy who was left. he has written a script which tells his whole story. he also claims to be an actor and wants the lead part. however the director knows its not him, and confirms it while also finding out that the boy he loved had died and the man claiming to be him was his brother. yet he lets him do the part so he can have sex with him...or so it seems. at the very end of filming the priest who wanted the boy meets the director and tells him how the story really ended. the boy had become a junkie drag queen who stole from the family and blackmailed the priest for drug money.

there is not much to like about these characters in the end. whatever innocence they had, whatever empathy we have for them, is undermined in one way or another.

and i'm still trying to understand the end...a note (the last bit of writing the boy/junkyman had written) is given to the director. it says "i think i've succeeded." at what? its a loaded statement and yet it doesn't have much meaning here. or maybe it does but it felt misstated. maybe success was getting the money from blackmailing the priest to pay for his/her gender change surgery and checking into rehab. so we're supposed to be left with a feeling of what could have been. i didn't feel it.

good movie. worth watching. quite a lot to enjoy. some reservations about it though. it just didn't wrap up with any emotional connection. all the potential shown garish and bland at the same time.


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compelling but incomplete

Posted : 10 years, 9 months ago on 14 August 2012 06:31 (A review of PARIS The Luminous Years: Toward the Making of the Modern)

paris the luminous years....or as it is really paris the post impressionists and beyond. i'm not sure why that is. maybe we have to take the subtitle more seriously "toward the making of the modern"

the box, as always, suggests so much. what is actually in the film is certainly more finite.

there is some mention of the "godfathers", the "mentors" as it is. no where near a complete list nor much effective mention. in fact, early in the documentary we are told that the group here in the "luminous years" came to paris because these other forefathers had already established it as a place for artist to be. what? wait, did i miss something? are we going to get "paris the luminous years, the prequel" at some point? what a huge mistake.

i understand they didn't want to focus on the standard stuff, but it still seems like the story is missing these elements.

to be fair, the documentary does enlighten the view on some of the characters of the paris art scene during these furtive years that it remained at the center of the art world. more uniquely, they interweave the connections between artists, poets, dance, etc. in particular they seem interested in the connection of artists and poets. it is very interesting and well told through these parts. on the other hand, its clear we are not getting the whole picture of things. to believe this narrative we'd have to ignore everything else outside of paris. to do so there are blatant instances where knowledge is ignored to make the point. for example, they mention paul strand thinly disguised as another artist who "came to paris where all the artists came". they fail to mention that by the time strand made it to paris his most famously notable work had already been done, published and highly known. likewise, in a segment on dada, they completely ignore the presence of salvador dali in the main photo they show for the group. dali isn't of course known as a dadaist as much as he is a surrealist, nor is he generally known as a painter who studied in paris, though he did and was influenced by picasso and miro. nevertheless its an odd omission.

at the beginning there is an odd attempt to characteristic this time and these people as something particular. the point at which they refer to the "luminous years" is obviously forced. you won't hear the term or the attempt again till the very end, where once again it stumbles and is awkward. its pretty clear someone is trying to coin a phrase in the same way impressionism and post-impressionism is simply a make-believe moniker. they're not convincing.

we're also left at a point where the art world makes some dramatic changes. from moving the center to NY, to the rise of abstract expressionism; the film here stops and feels like it desperately needs a part II. "paris the luminous years part II; not paris at all...."

its a good film, worth watching. not my favorite. especially dubious is the interviews, which are slotted in to fortify the authenticity of the data, but are severely lacking. too few and uniquely dissimilar to everything else here.

expected better i guess.


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better to look at pictures

Posted : 10 years, 9 months ago on 14 August 2012 05:59 (A review of Dutch Masters: Bosch [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC])

basic documentary from kultur. does what it needs to but offers very little beyond an introduction to bosch.

in fact right from the start they mention, more than twice, that there is little actually known about bosch. it begins to feel like filler from the start.

good images of many of his works. not very many are shown in their entirety. for example the triptych with the "garden of earthly delights" is mentioned as it is an alter piece with "wings". they go so far as to describe the look of a closed alter but never show the piece closed. nor do they show the 3 pieces together. they spend most of the time, not without purpose, showing details of the scenes. there is also a very good description about how the alter piece was used as "church theater".

what really irks me about this film is its seemingly lack of direction. again its qualified by stating that because his pieces aren't dated no one has been conclusive on the chronological order of the works. however, there are points at which the film seems to reach an end, and then picks up somewhere else again. i couldn't follow any logic to why one thing is talked about to the next. its parts pieced together. its sloppy and dispassionate. so much so, that despite holding bosch in high regard, if found myself having a hard time paying attention.

as it is there are almost no other films on the man, so it'll have to do if you want something to watch. i'd recommend picking up a book with his works instead. look at them yourself,make your own judgements.


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very human, not for everyone

Posted : 10 years, 9 months ago on 10 August 2012 03:44 (A review of Yi Yi: A One and a Two)

i think the box is somewhat misleading. the font, the quirky picture of a little boy with a camera, the colors, the review on the front that calls the movie among other things "...funny...". the back text refers to everything suddenly going wrong and accompanies that with a young smiling girl and another quirky of the boy with his father at mcdonalds. despite ample warning of how "human" the film is i was still under the impression that it had humor to it. and that it was about a little boy. the film itself has little humor and though its mostly provided by the little boy, and he provides pivotal moments in the film, he is barely in the film at all.

the long haul of the movie, which sits at 3 hours long, is about a number of family members. it is about their everyday life. while some dramatic things happen, its not truly about them. a wedding, a baby, a funeral, a stroke/coma, relationships started lost, business deals and falterings, all lend to the portrait of the family but nothing is singled out necessarily. that is what makes the film great but also very difficult for normal audiences.

its a beautiful film; the visuals great, the actors perfect, the individual stories compelling, on and on. it all comes together as a perfectly believable drama of everyday life with some slightly dramatic and chance moments. but if you think a movie should be plot driven, you're going to find this long and taxing to endure. however if you're open to letting story build its meaning, you'll find in it what it all is there for. i won't give away what its about, there is not much need to. if i had to sit down and write out the plot and what it ultimately leads to, it'd be a long intricate story. thats the movies job and i'll let it be.

i'm positive this movie will not appeal to everyone. its long, its loose, its everyday, and you may not find that the meaning of it is worth the time spent with it. however there are those, myself included, that will enjoy the strong characters that are created. as another review on the box suggested, i didn't want it to be over when it was. not because it wasn't a clear ended, i simply wanted to know more about these people; i cared about them. thats a damn good job for a story to accomplish.

(8/10)...i'd give it better personally, but recognize that it is very much an acquired taste.

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blown ending makes this less than mindblowing

Posted : 10 years, 9 months ago on 8 August 2012 06:46 (A review of Kids)

as a photo instructor, i have an appreciation for what larry clark's photography did. his movies are another matter all together.

as a photographer he opened the festering wound hidden beneath the clothing of suburban america. showing him and his friends, in their nice neighborhoods, shoot up and having sex. as a filmmaker he's pushed buttons and been provocative. making viewers sit through queasy long vignettes of moral-less behaviors.

kids isn't a bad movie, but it is hard to take. sitting through the first quarter or so is difficult because its over the top lewdness is without plot direction. once you're given the plot device, things come into better perspective.

at its core the movie is about a group of hyper-sexed kids with nothing to do in the summer in NY. that first quarter of the movie is all simply battering the viewer with lewd talk about sex. in particular about the taking of girls virginity. its enough trash that i wanted to simply quit watching. i was hoping there was something more redeeming about the movie. next we're treated to the difference of sex talk between a group of the girls and a group of the guys. these parts are not all that out of reality. although its far from normal behavior. finally the plot comes when two of the girls are tested for HIV. the girl with several partners comes out "clean" and the girl who only had sex once with the main character of the film is positive for HIV. she is of course heartbroken and dumbfounded. she spends the rest of the movie trying to find the guy who infected her, who is busy trying to find other girls to have sex with. he, telly, is the main character. his who outlook in life is having sex with virgins and maybe smoking some weed. thats it.

well. it has to be said that while this story is plausible, it is without depth. along the way following this group of kids, we never see them with any interest outside of sex. for two, very brief moments we see a glimpse of interest in skateboarding...(watch closely or you'll miss it). a number of times we see them getting high and drunk. and a few brief mentions of "clubbing" which is also highly related to their drinking and drugs. otherwise, every moment, 99.5%, of this movie is all about sex. sure kids at these ages are raging with hormones, but they have other interests too. the writer has distilled his characters down to primal sex beings. take for instance the group talks; the boys all boast that they've had "lots of ****y", the girls on the other hand have all admittedly had sex (all but one with multiple partners).

you have to view the film then as an unusual group of, as i've said, hyper-sexed young kids. their dispassionate portrayal of this is of course designed to provoke you. and the heartbreak of the failures of this mindset, the death sentance of AIDS, is meant to be a warning...or at least that is how it seems. the randomness of contracting it; the inability to know who your partner has been with; the immortality of youthful naivete.

and then it starts to falter as a movie...
along her way to tell telly that he gave her HIV, she takes a drug that a friend gives her at a rave. by the time she finds telly, she finds him in the middle of having sex with another virgin having used all the same lines and approach as he had with her. what does she do? she walks away, saying nothing, and passes out on the couch. ...ok?...what?... and then we see telly's best friend throughout the movie waking up from passing out and proceeding to rape her while she's passed out. ...WTF?... whatever message they thought they were making with this movie is getting tossed aside for rampant lewdness. and as if to tell us how lost they are in wrapping this movie up, suddenly and for the first time telly narrates a speech about how important sex is to him because he doesn't know anything else. how incredibly shallow this character is. and the final scene is the best friend saying "what just happened?" which is about as poignant as all their best psuedo-ghetto-speech fromt he beginning of the film.

its disappointing. the film had a lot of potential and a message about how tragic life can become when we don't think. its portrayal is so creepily real at times that some people mistake it as a documentary. but in the end its clear that the filmmaker, larry clark, simply enjoys provoking us. he will do so to such extremes as to undermine the effectiveness of his film. its too bad. a better choice would've been to temper some of the language, and to hint more at the actual sex, and leave the viewer to acknowledge and internalize the meaning. as it is its a garish surface that spits in your face and expects you to react. take the end rape scene for example; while unexpected and unnecessary, it lends to the chaos and destruction of this lifestyle. but larry clark decides to linger on and on and on and on, showing us minutes of this act trying to provoke us into gruesome disgust. in doing so, he undermines the initial disgust and shock we already had with it, and it becomes clear its not about the act its about the depiction of it. its the surface without the meaning. and i'm sorry, larry, but you failed this movie.

6/10 huh? well its still has a lot to like despite its faults. its challenging and independent. beats the hell out of not filming it because it won't make money and its not all hollywood picture perfect storybook ending princess pink.

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Posted: 10 years, 5 months ago at Dec 11 13:48
Thanks for the vote and the comment, Shawn!