Monday, June 30, 2003

Review – Dark Blue

If this worked in L.A. Confidential, it’s bound to work here, right? Heck, they even got James Elroy to write the story. Unfortunately, the brutal cop violence and racism that worked to good dramatic effect in 1950’s Los Angeles waver between uninteresting and downright offensive within the context of the Rodney King riots. The plot is a standard Elroy yarn about corrupt cops struggling with their ambitions, failed relationships and general morality. The cast isn’t the end of the world. But what really kills the story – aside from the conscious and unconscious bigotry – is the script. Honestly, this production features some of the most poorly-developed characters spouting some of the most dreadful dialogue I’ve ever heard. See if desperate

Friday, June 27, 2003

Review – Deadly Species

Wow, Predator with women. Better yet for the likely target audience, women who take their shirts off. Easily amused teenage boys may consider this a must-rent, but most of the rest of us won’t get an awful lot out of this outing. The story’s something about a group of archaeologists looking for a McGuffin in the Everglades, little suspecting that their rich sponsor and his male companion are merely using the expedition as a pretext for a hunt for guys in cheap rubber suits and/or the Fountain of Youth. Production values could have been worse for something shot straight on video, but otherwise this is a missable experience. See if desperate

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Review – Bloody Sunday

My hat’s off to the folks who put this together if for no other reason than this is the only time in recent memory that anyone’s managed to do the whole Peter Watkins fake-documentary-recreation-of-historical-event and actually pull it off. And goodness knows they aren’t the only ones who’ve tried. I can’t accurately describe this as an entertaining movie, because the subject matter is too damn depressing and the recreation of the events surrounding the Bloody Sunday Massacre is too vivid to make this any fun to watch. I suppose that pro-English critics might point out that this is an Irish production and thus may not exactly do justice to the British paratroopers who shot unarmed marchers. Of course, that might raise the question about what exactly would be justice for the paras. I found it helpful to turn on the captions, inasmuch as the accents, frequently heavily laced with slang, are sometimes difficult to understand. I also thought including all of an extended live performance of U2’s song about the massacre at the end of the movie (which required keeping a black screen up even after the credits finished rolling) was sort of excessive. Otherwise this is an outstanding film. Worth seeing

Monday, June 23, 2003

Review – Beneath Loch Ness

In the immortal words of Groundskeeper Willie: “Ach! Back to the loch with you, Nessie!” Seriously, a legend as potentially cool as the Loch Ness Monster deserves a much better horror movie than this turned out to be. It’s not that this is a terrible movie or anything. The monster’s kind of scary as cheap CGI creatures go. The suspense sequences are ineptly executed, but every once in awhile there’s a minor thrill to be had. The acting’s not great, but for a horror movie it’s not the worst I’ve ever seen. In other words, this isn’t a huge disappointment. I just think that given what they had to start with they could have come up with something better. Mildly amusing

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Review – Darkwalker

A haunted house that’s actually haunted. A scheming owner. Teenagers right and left. I kept expecting Shaggy and Scooby to pull up in the Mystery Machine at any moment. Actually, even cartoon crime fighters would have been a welcome relief from the relentless parade of rubber monsters and slasher movie clich├ęs. And just because you don’t have much of a production budget doesn’t mean that you have to pepper your script with dialogue so bad that even the personal friends who agreed to appear in your movie mouth it with I-can’t-believe-I’m-saying-this grimaces on their faces. See if desperate

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Review – Star Trek: Nemesis

How can a movie with this many fighting space ships possibly be this dull? I expect fans of the Next Generation cast will like this entry as much as the rest of them (not to mention the further “adventures” that are sure to follow). However, for those of us who aren’t instantly enthralled by the characters from the newer TV series, it might have been nice to have had a bit more of a plot. The story gets rolling okay (if somewhat implausibly), but then it just doesn’t go anywhere. More than that I expect I can’t say without giving away too much. And believe me, this movie needs to keep as many secrets as it can. Without the “surprise” twists, it just doesn’t have much going for it. On the other hand, maybe I’m just disappointed because the trailers made it seem like the nemesis mentioned in the title was going to be a lot more sinister than it turned out to be. See if desperate

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Review – Die Another Day

Nah, that’s okay. Go ahead and die now if you feel like it. As bad as death sucks, it can’t be much worse than this script. All the usual Bond elements are here: implausible action, implausible gadgets, implausible sex, and plenty of gratuitous explosions. The effects are good, obviously much better than the older episodes in the series. But the plot – some muddled mess about using a space laser to blow up mines in Korea’s DMZ – leaves something to be desired. And while I concede the dialogue in these things has never exactly been Shakespeare, this time around it’s exceptionally bad. Or maybe I’m just getting too old for Bond flicks. I’m certainly old enough to resent the inclusion of “London Calling” on the soundtrack, though perhaps if I even vaguely thought it was intended to be ironic I’d be more tolerant. And finally, I know the Bond series is under pressure to respond to Vin Diesel and all, but really the NSA stuff – not to mention the surf commandos – was a bit ill-conceived. See if desperate