Saturday, September 27, 2008

Review – Ba'al: The Storm God

Bu’ll: The Shit God. The story here is some mash about a crazy archaeologist trying to unleash the wrath of an ancient weather god upon the helpless world. This comes across as a bargain basement combination of The Mummy and The Day After Tomorrow. That by itself wasn’t automatically fatal, but the picture is so ineptly executed that it’s just bad enough to be bad without being bad enough to be funny. Quick example: one of the valiant Air Force guys trying to stop the evil weather systems is referred to as “lieutenant” even though he’s wearing captain’s bars on his collar and corporal’s stripes on his sleeve. Most of the rest of the picture shows a similar degree of attention to logic and integrity. Also, it occurs to me that this turd is likely to float forever at the top of the “B” section of my alphabetical list of reviews. Maybe someday I’ll luck out and someone will make a movie about sheep and call it “Baa!” See if desperate

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Review – At the Death House Door

The description on the disc box said this was about a man who may have been wrongfully executed in Texas. However, it turns out to be mostly about the former chaplain at the prison that houses the state’s death row. The ol’ guy made audio tapes of his thoughts about the executions of each condemned prisoner he ministered to. The subject matter alone is fascinating enough to carry the documentary for its whole running time. However, the production itself is a bit bargain-basement-Errol-Morris. Mildly amusing

Review – Extraordinary Rendition

This production comes across as Rendition with the Hollywood crap replaced with indie crap. We’re spared the spectacle of big stars and slick production values making torture look glamorous. But we end up saddled with muddled writing and over-arty direction. Particularly nettlesome is the decision to ping-pong back and forth in the timeline. On the one hand, I understand that if all the torture sequences are concentrated in one lump that the pacing would become extremely uneven. On the other hand, cutting back and forth between the rendition and the aftermath creates the feeling that the protagonist has a really crummy day job where he’s water-boarded all day and then goes home to have angry scenes with his wife. Overall this picture’s heart is in the right place, but its head doesn’t quite get with the program. Mildly amusing

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Review – Dragon Wars

Once again Hollywood takes a tiny pinch of Chinese folk legend and tries to stretch it into an hour and a half of dragon stew. Do I even have to say that it doesn’t work? I was vaguely entertained by some of the monster-intensive effects sequences, but the rest of the story was a missable mess about a woman who holds the key to stopping a terrible dragon curse that occurs once every 500 years. See if desperate

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Review – Doctor Zhivago

Someday someone is going to make a small movie about the Russian Revolution. From October to Reds, just about everything set in this place and time turns out to be a sweeping epic filled with huge casts, overblown cinematography, brain-bending running times, the whole nine yards. So it goes without saying that director David Lean isn’t going to break the mold and depart from the big-movie formula that brought him success with The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. And in a way that’s a shame, because the story here (based on Boris Pasternak’s novel) centers around normal human relationships amid turbulent times. Indeed, if not for the aspect ratio, army of extras and lavish location work, this would rarely rise above the level of common soap opera. And Lean seems ill-equipped to deal with human characters, particularly women. Though this is by no means the worst movie I’ve ever seen, it falls short of other work done by just about everyone involved. Mildly amusing

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Review – Bride of the Monster

Bad script. Bad acting. Terrible production values. Bizarre editing. Bela Lugosi. Tor Johnson. Must be an Ed Wood movie! In all honesty, this isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It lacks the charm of Glen or Glenda? and the renown of Plan 9 from Outer Space. But in a way that actually makes it easier to watch. One can set aside the greatest-cult-movie-ever hype and just enjoy it for what it is: a delightfully incompetent attempt at a picture about a mad scientist with a giant squid problem. Mildly amusing

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Review – The Bridge

So I guess if you point a camera at the Golden Gate Bridge long enough, you end up with footage of someone jumping. Or several someones jumping. Then follow up with friends and relatives, and you’ve got a documentary. The concept is enough to carry the picture, not to mention creating a considerable amount of controversy. Many of the interviews fail to shed much light on the possible motives of the jumpers, but they do fill in some sometimes-dull, sometimes-touching back-stories of the people whose deaths we watch. Overall this comes across as a combination of Errol Morris and Faces of Death, which oddly enough sort of works. Worth seeing

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Review – Dragon Storm

This is just about exactly what one would expect from a Sci Fi Channel movie about dragons: a D&D plot, bad acting (seriously John Rhys-Davies, did you lose a bet or something?), mediocre CGI and not a lot else. A war between neighboring kingdoms is disrupted when a flock of dragons shows up and starts chowing on both sides. Dullness ensues. See if desperate