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A Pleasant Surprise
Coneheads is one of the best "Saturday Night Live" movies. I was expecting a light comedy but what I got was a whole lot more. Following a similar plot to the skit, Coneheads is the story about the Beldar Conehead family who crash on earth during a scouting mission for planet conquest. While here, they dodge the INS, have a child and discover that life on Earth is quite good.
This is where the movie shows its heart. It could have been a movie of comedy bits but by the end, it is about happiness in a stable family, which is quite refreshing in these days of depressing movies about divorces and unmarried couples. It is nice to see Beldar be a father figure to his daughter rather than the "Let Your Kids Be Who They Are" mentality of these days. The direction of the film in excellent, setting up many nice visual gags and shots that are very impressive for a comedy film. And at times, the film feels "epic" as you see the family on the run from the INS, to moving to the suburbs to returning to their planet.
There are great performances throughout the film and the many cameos are perfect. Look for funny scenes from Jan Hooks, Adam Sandler, Michael Richards, and Garrett Morris. Michelle Burke makes a nice debut as Connie Conehead and I expect to see more of her in the future.
On the surface, this seems like a dumb movie and it has received many poor reviews. But if you sit back and let it take you on an adventure (and if you can keep up with the way the Coneheads use different words for common items) you will be pleasantly surprised.
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
I sat down to A.I. expecting a movie full of wonder and amazement. I got that at times. At other times, I wanted to turn it off. When it was finally over, I really wanted to like this film but I just felt like I was in a ship on stormy seas and was seasick from it all.
The movie starts out in a very somber tone. It explains how the earth is suffering the effects of global warming and the creation of robots, specifically one who can love. David, the loving Robot, is purchased by a family whose own son is on life support. Soon enough, the son improves and the mother decides she doesn't need David anymore. So she drops David and Teddy (the best and warmest character in the movie) in the woods and David goes on a journey to become a real boy and to earn the love of his mother.
This is a very sad way to start the film, but it is then that we start to see a little of a "quest" in the movie (a la Wizard of Oz) and it begins to feel magical. Then, we get depressed again as we are introduced to a "pleasure robot" and how a woman is afraid of his "functional abilities." This totally lurches the movie from a kind of magical quality to in your face smut. Then, we see a "flesh fair" in which defective robots are destroyed in an arena to the delight of the humans. Then, we are taken to a city which has buildings in the shapes of women in provocative poses. I knew this was a pet project of Kubrick but I didn't know a lot of his perverted imagery and characters would be included in the film.
Once we get past that, then we have a few more magical moments and then we are introduced to more dark images and finally, more magical moments. By the time it is all over, I was exhausted.
Did I like the movie? I liked the Spielberg "moments" but I disliked the Kubrick ones. This maybe what they had intended but to me, it made for a very uneven and overall unsatisfying film.
Great Acting and Story ruined by Uneven Script
Poltergeist II is a good movie lost in a bad one. The back story to the original film is revealed and it quite good but the movie falls apart when it should deliver.
The film opens up with a Native American being given a "spirit" to help combat a strong presence located back on the property in which the house from the 1st film was located. He senses that the family is in trouble and goes on a search for them.
The movie eventually reveals the real reason behind the first haunting and why the Poltergeists are back again. The movies' main villain is "The Preacher" Kane. He will do anything to get Carol Anne back to lead him and his followers into the light.
All of this is quite interesting but the movie fails to deliver on its premise. For one, there are way too many false scares. Characters dream about being pulled underground by dead bodies. Dead bodies appear in a mirror. Dead bodies which turn out to be closet items appear. This really cheats the audience. Also, take the scene where about 50 ghosts are walking on the lawn. You look at that and get a chill but then, we never see them again. We hear some beating and stomping in the house and that is it. And another scene has a character in grave danger only for it to suddenly go away. Was he actually in trouble? When the ghosts come back, they do so through a plastic toy telephone and Heather O'Rourke delivers a weak "They're Back" line. No where near as chilling as "They're here."
The acting in this film is very good and keeps the movie from sinking. Once again, you really feel for these people. JoBeth Williams is effective but not as good as she was in the first film. Julian Beck is quite scary but he isn't given much to do and the film could have benefited from more scenes with him. And of course, I still think Zelda Rubinstein was born to play Tangina and her presence is always welcome.
There is a lot to like in this film, but you will walk away from it feeling empty, especially about the forced "funny" final moments. It is far superior to the 3rd film but the first one can't be beat.
An Epic Film!
Watching Superman The Movie is an experience. Not only are you treated to a film good for the kids, but there are also many moments that will thrill adults. The movie is filled with emotion, action and incredible excitement.
The movie opens with long introductions about Superman's past and his time growing up on Earth. We are treated wish such scenes as his launch into space, his "naked" discovery on Earth and his "calling" to go north. All of this fills pretty much the first hour of the film but we are never once bored.
Once the action moves to Metropolis, it is almost like a whole new movie. The interaction between Lois and Clark is simply priceless. Their early scenes together build on what is to come, even moving into Superman II. Margo Kidder was perfect for this role. She just had the right look for Lois: attractive without being a Super Model. It was just so sweet how Superman took to her. We are also introduced to Lex Luthor and his gang. Gene Hackman was perfect for this role and he really steals ever scene that he is in.
The thing about Superman is that it has an epic feel to it and it never looks back. From the launch of "baby" Superman to the climatic ending sequences, we are drawn into the story. The witty dialogue is also one of the best aspects of the film. Whether it is the nonchalant comments from Superman (i.e. "Bad Vibrations") to the famous, clap inducing "You've Got Me? Who's got you?" you never feel that any of the film is scripted. And the special effects, while dated (the miniatures LOOK miniature), are also extremely good.
The DVD version is an absolute joy. You get 9 minutes of new footage, including more scenes in the Fortress of Solitude with Marlon Brando. There are several behind the scenes looks and several trailers and cast bios. The enhanced sound is also very impressive. When the credits at the beginning started to appear and then fly by, I was just taken back! I wasn't expecting it at all and it was a taste of things to come. You can even hear shards of kryptonite flying through space after Krypton explodes.
Superman The Movie is one of the best comic book movies in the same tradition of greats like Dick Tracy and The Shadow. If you or your kids have never seen it, this is a must have. If you have, relive the magic again.
Logan's Run (1976)
Logan's Run is a dazzling sci-fi film. It is set in a very "alien" future of the United States; only everyone is forced to live indoors in a "City of Domes." Society is peaceful and fun loving. When you reach 30, you are to renew your life through a ritual or never live again.
The story of Logan's Run is quite frightening. Director Michael Anderson does a fantastic job of keeping the frightening aspects of the story going. From the pleasant yet somewhat menacing voice of the main computer to the idea behind the "Carousel", you never for a minute doubt what is going on and you really pull for the central characters.
The DVD transfer is good, probably as good as they are going to get, because some scenes of the film always looked a little "muddy." The enhanced soundtrack is in Dolby and while not 5.1, is still sounds much better than the VHS. The commentary is good but nothing spectacular. And the widescreen is really nice!
A word of caution. While the film is rated PG, there are several scenes of brief nudity, one of which really doesn't further the plot any and is unnecessary (in fact, in the commentary, the scene takes the director by surprise and he says he forgot about it). The other is an elaborate scene in the "love shop." Despite that, there is very little graphic violence and little to no profanity.
Logan's Run is a solid film. It looks a little dated now, but still entertains!
The Lone Gunmen (2001)
The Best Show In Years!
The Lone Gunmen was a surprise. I wasn't expecting much and I got a lot.
Every episode of this show was witty, suspenseful and totally entertaining. The chemistry between the stars was a joy to watch and you always believed that their relationships were real.
It is a sad commentary on our society that this show was cancelled. I guess there wasn't enough nudity, profanity, adultery or homosexual stories to keep it on the air.
If you get a chance to ever see this show again, you wont be sorry. It was the best TV show in years and Fox should be boycotted because they cancelled this (just like they did with the excellent ALIEN NATION). Maybe there is a chance the Sci-Fi network could pick it up?
The Mummy Returns (2001)
THE MUMMY was a surprise hit in 1999. It at all of the elements of the great INDIANA JONES films with a lot of originality. Plus the characters were all likeable and the dialogue was extremely witty. This year, we are presented with THE MUMMY RETURNS, a highly disappointing sequel that is loud, noisy and impersonal.
The movie opens with background information on The Scorpion King. This is handled well and this movie could have been just about him. Then, without ever getting a title credit, we move to Egypt of 1933. We already see our heroes stumbling upon relics that relate to The Scorpion King. They find an artifact and take it with them, but unknowingly start a booby trap. Needless to say, they escape back to London with their son, who places the artifact on his wrist and has 7 days to find The Scorpion Kings lair before he dies. This is an interesting movie itself, but no, we forgot about The Mummy. Well, an Anck-Su-Namun look-a-like and others try to resurrect The Mummy so that he can kill The Scorpion King and be `more powerful.' Confused? I sure was.
The plot to THE MUMMY RETURNS is simply a mess. It has too much going on and doesn't stop to let you relate and enjoy the characters. They give you just enough plot to put action sequences around them. The dialogue, while clever at times, is delivered horribly to even attempt to be witty or interesting. Sure, they are saying something but we really don't care, because if it isn't a Mummy soldier chasing them, it is little pigmy skeletons pulling everyone down under the grass similar to the raptor scene in JURASSIC PARK II. The things that made the first one so good (fun characters, good acting) are abandoned for non-stop and numbing action sequences. And on top of that, the movie isn't scary at all. At least the first film had its tense moments. And when the story tries to be tender and serious, you can't help but think, `It'll be OK.'
The special effects are also a problem. It seems as if the filmmakers want to show the effects to you so quickly that they abandon all tension or horror that the first film tried. You can help but think of the droid army in THE PHANTOM MENANCE when you see the `dog' army in the desert. How many times do we need to see a mummy or another creature stretch their mouth open wide? It was done a lot in the first film. Seeing it now didn't make it more interesting. And when we finally see The Scorpion King, we are just so overwhelmed that we just want it to be over.
It was fun seeing the characters again and how they changed. O'Connell didn't change much. He was given some parental instincts, but the script made them seem forced. Evelyn is much more physical than she was before. She isn't afraid to make a fist and fight and some of this leads to her interesting past. Jonathan is back but he is given the worst dialogue, so it makes him look even more idiotic. The rest of the cast does a good job but is given little to do, including The Mummy himself.
I just can't help but feel disappointed and bored with THE MUMMY RETURNS. If they had taken the time to stop and let us enjoy the characters rather than the effects, this could have been a better film.
Mission to Mars (2000)
Mission to Mars fails in all areas
I am a fan of science fiction. I especially like films that deal with current or near future explorations in space. When I first heard of Mission to Mars, I was excited that we were going to have a film that explored the idea of our first mission to the red planet. Finally seeing Mission to Mars, I have to say that it was one of the few movies I have ever wanted to walk out of. From opening to ending, the film is filled with plot holes, bad acting, even worse dialogue and illogical direction.
I was expecting a `goose bump' inducing scene showing our first landing and steps on Mars. We don't get it. Once taken to Mars, we are introduced to a Mars rover and we then see humans are already there stumbling onto a mysterious phenomenon. (The movies really pushes it's PG limit's in a few death scenes early on.) There is almost no sense of mystery in the film and it gets worse as the film goes on.
The acting in the film was stiff and forced. We have a collection of good actors, but the dialogue is so horrendous, it elicits unintentional laughter from the audience through out. There is one character, which is supposed to be the comic relief, but he ends up getting laughter because his dialogue is so bad.
The direction of the movie is probably the worse aspect of this film. Despite an interesting sequence involving dancing in `zero g,' everything else is filmed so we get the impression that everyone in the film are idiots. Take the scene where the first crew finds the mysterious object on Mars. While the wind picks up and such, they just stand there. Not in awe or fright, but for no reason at all. Maybe just to be targets to die early on. One crewmember shields his face from the sand. With a helmet on?
Another scene shows us a crewmember that sacrifices their self to save others. I don't want to give it away, but the method they use is so illogical and badly directed, that you don't know how to react. They show the scene and then give us 3-4 long shots of the dead body. This scene disturbed my wife, because it was unexpected and extremely awkward and she felt it wasn't necessary to further the film. I agreed with her. Again, the scene was directed so badly you didn't know whether to feel sad, grossed out, or laugh out loud. Again, the film may have pushed its PG limits again.
When we finally get to see some `aliens,' it is too late. And this scene, while it could have been an emotional and uplifting scene, reminds me of Close Encounters, Contact and The Abyss all mixed into one.
Overall, I can't recommend this film because it is a disaster in screenwriting and direction. There is a scene where an `alien being' sheds a tear. Being in a film like this, I don't blame them. I give this film a D-.
The Haunting (1999)
Succeeds as a ghost story, Fails at Horror and screenwriting.
When I saw the trailer for The Haunting, I was expecting the film to be a "thrill-a-minute scarefest." When I went to see it, I left the theater feeling pretty disappointed in not feeling scared (in fact, I walked right over and saw Blair Witch for a 2nd time.) Now that The Haunting is on video (DVD specifically,) I wanted to give it another chance. After a 2nd viewing, I felt it was a good "old fashion" ghost story, but it still failed at being scary. This movie is Lili Taylor's movie. Her portrayal of a sweet, hopeless romantic is very convincing. Everyone else in the cast is along for the ride. Owen Wilson has to be one of the worst actors around. I would cringe everytime he was on screen. The story about the hill house was good, if not a little vague at times. There are many good scenes that are slightly scary, but none of it is terrifying. Even though her acting was solid, where was a scene where Lili Taylor was smelling something that was pretty laughable. The good: special effects, sound effects, story, Lili Taylor (most of the time.) The bad: most of the acting, some horrible dialogue. All in all, I can recommend this film because it is fun, has very little graphic violence and next to no profanity. I give the Haunting a B-.
Match Game 73 (1973)
Now that the Game Show Network is showing old episodes of the best incarnation of the Match Game, it allows a whole new generation to watch one of the most popular game shows of all time! The show was kind of silly: Fill in the blank of a story, poem, rhyme, etc and hope that you match famous people. But the way Gene Rayburn conducted the show with the celebrity panel, it made for excellent viewing. Many people felt like the "regulars" on the show were "has beens," but Charles Nelson Riley would never fail to make people laugh and have a good time on the show. This show is worth catching night after night! I give this program an A.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
I like to be scared. It is much better to be scared without gore, which is why I enjoyed Exorcist III and Silence of the Lambs. I had high expectations for Blair Witch. I wasn't disappointed! I enjoyed it quite a bit. The scares build slowly and the ending stuck in my mind for weeks. But, why oh why did they need the excessive profanity? Some one told me "People talk like that." Yeah, and some people don't! It got to be comical after a while! To me, it destroyed the integrity of the film.
That aside, this movie will scare you if you have a great imagination and are willing to let your mind do the scaring for you.
I give this film a B.
Worst Movie of 1998
I skipped this one in the theaters, not on purpose, but because of Bruce Willis. I have never liked any of his movies.
So, in one night, I watched this one and Deep Impact. I enjoyed Deep Impact because it was more about how we as humans, prepare for the "end."
Armageddon on a whole is simply terrible. Everything feels artificial and forced. Let's build sympathy for Bruce. Let's feel sorry for two young people in love who fornicate. Let's believe that NASA will send idiots into space to save the earth. All of the emotion in this film was so staged and fake, that it was hard to feel for these characters. I have to wonder about people who said they cried when watching this film. I also never felt a sense of doom like I did when watching movies like Independence Day or Deep Impact.
I give this film an F.
Not as bad as some people say.
Ok, I admit it. When I saw this film in the theaters, I walked out hating it. I expected another ID4 and I was disappointed.
Now, having seen it on video, I seemed to enjoyed it more. It was very entertaining!
I thought the first time that Godzilla was a sight to see and I still feel that way. The special effects were excellent.
While Broderick, Reno and Lerner did what they could with their roles, I felt that the performance by Maria Pitillo was dreadful, especially the scene where she was crying. This film almost cries out (we got lesser known actors so we can save money.)
That aside, this movie also features very little bad language and graphic violence. I praise it for that as well!
I give this film a B-.
Deep Impact (1998)
I found Deep Impact to be a very good "study" on how we has humans, may react to an E.L.E. (see this movie for details on that.) The special effects were good, but the best thing about this movie was the focus on the characters. This wasn't loud and stupid as "that other asteroid movie." This film will entertain you and mostly, touch your heart. You actually feel the doom that is about to reach these people, and to me, that is good film making.
About the only thing I could pick on would be the performance of Téa Leoni. To me, she was never convincing. She seemed down and depressed all of the time, even when she was doing the news. Very odd performance.
I give this film a B+
Strange Invaders (1983)
A "serious" spoof.
This movie is pays great respect to the Sci-Fi movies of the 50's, but takes itself somewhat serious. If you view this film in that sense, you will have a great time!
The special effects are on a low budget and some of the camera angles are kind of strange, but the acting and the story are what keep this film going. A pre Barton Fink Michael Lerner is here and is great as always!
Be sure to look for two cameo's from former Lost in Space stars! Also, a very early R.E.M. song can be heard in the back ground of one scene.
Again, if you watch this with the frame of mind that this is a 50's sci-fi movie made in the 80's, you will get a real kick out of it!
I give this film a B+
Mom and Dad Save the World (1992)
This movie really isn't too bad. It is not to be taken seriously at all. The movie pokes fun at itself and the sci-fi movies of the early to mid 20th century. Much of the humor has a SNL or Monty Python feel to it.
If you are not opened minded to a movie made to be silly and dumb, skip it!
I give this film a B.
Electric Dreams (1984)
Though a little silly, this movie was very well made and is a joy to watch! The music alone makes this worth viewing! It also features good acting and a great love story. It is also funny how computers have come a long way since this film!
I give this film a B.
Star Trek II is a wonderful movie. It has everything: action, drama, comedy, horror, a love story (long lost loves meeting again) death, life, and great special effects. Watching it again recently, it finally hit me that the script for this film is terrific, especially the dialogue. Certainly the best of any Star Trek movie and one of the best period. There are so many memorable quotes.
Even to this day, Trekkers may watch this film and still have a hard time watching the "sacrifice" near the end of the film. It is still a powerful scene.
Those who may have never seen this film, may want to watch the original series episode SPACE SEED. It isn't required, but would let you see Kahn in action for the first time.
Just to be "nitpicky", how Kahn got to meet Chekov before we met him in the series is weird, but oh well!
I give this film an A.
The Shadow (1994)
The Shadow is a good example on how to do a comic book movie right. While it didn't top Dick Tracy, the Shadow does a better job than the Batman movies.
Alec Baldwin was an excellent choice to play The Shadow. I don't think anyone could have done it better. The rest of the cast did a fine job.
Again, if you want to see a comic book type movie done right, you can't go wrong here.
I give the shadow a B.
Dick Tracy (1990)
One of the best films, ever!
Dick Tracy is THE best comic book movie ever made. For that matter, one of the best made, period. There is so much to say about this film, that it is hard to point out the best things about it
The art direction, the attention to detail, the music, the acting, the makeup, the story. I could go on and on.
This is how films used to be made and it is sad that only a few films since have come close to the "tongue-in-cheek" style of this film (The Mummy most recently.)
Al Pacino steals the film! To me, this is HIS film. And I was also impressed by Madonna and Glenne Headly.
It is hard to say why most people didn't like this film. Was it not violent enough? Did they want nudity? Did they want something vulgar? Well, if so, they wont get it with this film!
I give this film an A+.
Aliens is one of the most thrilling movies ever made. While it is scarier than other thrill films (Indiana Jones, The Mummy, etc) it balances well with the humor and dramatic scenes.
The actual aliens were a little different looking than in the original movie, but they were still a frightening sight!
The drama was intense and the special effects were excellent. And holding this all together is Sigourney Weaver, who, in my opinion, was robbed of the Best Actress Oscar that year. 'Nuff said!
While I enjoy watching the other 2 sequels that followed, I couldn't help but feel disappointed in them, because this movie had a more "human" quality to it, rather than set an alien or aliens loose and watch them escape! I don't think they will be able to top this one.
I give this film an A.
Speechless is delightful! The chemistry between Davis and Keaton is the best I have seen in a long time. In my opinion, this is Davis at her best! Plus, the story is very interesting. I also give high marks for Christopher Reeve and it is sad to see that this was one of his last pre-accident movies. As with most romantic comedies these days, the characters have to go to bed, but thankfully, it is kept off screen.
I give this film a "B."
Star Trek: The Motion Picture is somewhat underrated. Sure, the characters are dull, the humor is almost gone and the pacing is a bit sluggish. But, the special effects were excellent, the music was absorbing and the story was very good. There are moments in the film: When Spock arrives, when the secret of V'Ger is discovered, and seeing the "new" Enterprise for the first time. If you are a new Star Trek Fan, skip this one for now. But fans of the series will enjoy this film most of all.
I give this film a B-.
One False Move (1992)
Bad language and violence aside, this is one of the best movies of the 90's! This is actually, a lighthearted police drama with many surprises. One of the surprises is the depiction of small town Arkansas. They may have finally gotten it right! It is slower, safer and more relaxing in comparison to the life that the cops from L.A. have and there isn't any stereotyping that I could find! Another surprise is the performance by Billy Bob. He may be one of the most evil drug dealers I have ever seen on the big screen.
A word of caution though. This movie, at least in my opinion, has one of the most violent (not overly graphic, but sadistic) openings to a movie I have seen in a film. The way the murders and tortures are committed are a little hard to watch. But if you get past that, the movie settles down a lot and you really want to see the "bad guys" get what's coming to them! And the language is extremely rough. I saw the movie again on BRAVO and while there is a lot of silent moments, where they cut out the language, nothing else is cut from the film. A remarkable film.
I give this film an A-.
While this film has "I am a B Movie" written all over it, it is actually very enjoyable. The person who holds this all together is Andrew Prine (from V.) He is a very likeable river "scum." The scenes on the river are very fun and they really keep this movie from being a "B" movie the whole time.
If you want to have a "no brainer" good time, rent this movie!
I give this film a B.