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Batman and Robin (1949)
Under-rated. Far more enjoyable than the 1943 original, in spite of its many flaws.
I think 'Batman and Robin' (1949) gets a really bad rap. In my opinion, it's really fun, fast-paced, nostalgic entertainment. There are obviously really silly bits in it, but there are very few truly cringeworthy moments in it. Most of the poor special effects and moments of deus ex machina (Batman's blowtorch magically appearing on his utility belt) just add to the fun, in my opinion.
I think Robert Lowery looked, sounded and was GREAT as Batman. Obviously at first, his costume looks a bit hokey, but you really get used to it. The cape looks amazing and it's perfectly dark and black throughout (compared to the 1943 cape which looked depressingly white on occasion). Even the 'devil-horns' (which a lot of people complain about) grew on me and reminded me of Batman's original 1939 suit. Lowery also had a physical presence as Batman that neither Lewis Wilson or even Adam West had. He LOOKED tough and athletic (although he could have been wearing a girdle, :P).
John Duncan is decent and inoffensive as Robin. He's not given a LOT to do, but what he does, he does it pretty well. People complain that he's too old and I suppose he is, but he easily passes for a 19-22 year old and is just as plausible as an older Boy Wonder as Chris O'Donnell (who I loved) was, 46 years later. Also, even though it lacks the yellow cape of the comics, I LOVE Robin's costume. It's much darker and looks great next to Batman. I like to think that the cape is a very dark green, as opposed to black.
Probably the best thing about this serial, when comparing it to the original is the plot and the villain. The 'Remote Control Machine' and 'The Wizard' are far more interesting (albeit slightly clichéd) villains than the irritatingly racist-propaganda-villain from the original. The actor playing the Wizard is again, a tough, imposing villain with an amazingly fascinating voice. He really seems like a genuine threat to Batman.
My biggest problem with this serial is that Batman and Robin lose nearly every single fight in it, so that there can be a cliffhanger. In spite of Lowery's toughness, Batman really isn't and every criminal he gets his hands on, he "hands over to the police for questioning", instead of pounding the answers out of them, himself. Not to mention, in several chapters, Batman and Robin follow the villains to the entrance of their secret hideout, only to lose track of them. It's really irritating that Batman never considers staking out the entrance. The final installment of this serial is really entertaining and my favourite chapter, probably because it highlights all of the flaws I have just mentioned. Batman finally decides to wait outside the entrance to the secret lair, follows one of the henchmen in and DEMANDS that he bring him to the Wizard. Lowery is REALLY cool in this scene.
I think that Lowery and Duncan would have been great for a 1950s Batman TV show, along the same lines as the first season of 'Adventures of Superman', which was incredibly dark and full of gangsters and murderers. Single episodes would suit the characters better than drawn-out serials, purely because they could display their power in full, rather than having it frustratingly neutered and saved for the finale, as happened in this serial.
Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend this serial to all fans of Batman. Personally, in spite of its flaws, I find it to be far more enjoyable than the 1966 show, which while excellent, was just a big joke. I prefer the unintentional, kitschy humour of this serial, not to mention the performance of Lowery who is probably my favourite live-action Batman before the blockbuster movies began (and frankly, I'd rank him above George Clooney, easily).
A rushed, shoe-string budgeted blurb of a film, with some small saving graces
I only discovered this film after searching through Wikipedia for information on Michael Jackson (which is most certainly what millions of others are doing, in the wake of his highly publicized death).
The film is an exploration, not of Michael Joseph Jackson's life, but of his fame; particularly following the Earth-shattering success of 'Thriller'. It mostly skims over these years (but then, just about everything in the film feels 'skimmed over'), but there are some interesting developments, such as the beginning of Michael's supposed troubles with the vitiligo disease as well as the infamous Pepsi Cola accident, where he was badly burned (this serves as a segue into Jackson's near-obsession with cosmetic surgery).
The majority of this biopic is based in the 1990s and portrays in brief, the countless occasions where the media clashed with Michael Jackson, particularly the child-abuse allegations of 1993. His friendship with Liz Taylor is decently established (although the actress is sub-par) and throughout the film, Michael's kinship with someone by the name of 'Bobby' (who I can only assume is his bodyguard or housekeeper or something) is probably the highlight of the film (along with something that I shall mention later on in the review). Michael's relationships with Lisa Marie Presley and Deborah Rowe, the two wives he had in the 90s are explored with the former being an impressive recount (if slightly historically inaccurate, if accounts from Presley herself are to be believed) and the latter being a pathetic footnote. The film concludes with Michael being accused once more of child abuse, and choosing to fight the charges (rather than trying to avoid them, as he did in 1993).
This is not a very well-made biopic. It is not 'Walk the Line' or 'Ray' and I would hesitate to say that it is even as good as TV movie-biopics such as 'The David Cassidy Story'. It employs very 'hip' directorial methods, that one would expect from CSI and other such programming. The acting ranges from above-average (Flex Alexander is quite good) to absolutely dire (the actress who played Janet). The most noteworthy criticism is the make-up, which was uncomfortably off throughout the film. The film makes some efforts to show Jackson's transition from the fresh-faced, very black young man of 'Thriller' to the tanned (but still obviously African American) 27-year-old of the 'Bad' era to the ghost-faced Jackson of the 1990s. For some reason, the film awkwardly chooses to keep Flex Alexander in the 'Bad'-era makeup throughout most of the second act of the film, throughout years where Jackson was very obviously not black (such as his marriage to Presley, for example). This takes viewers who are even only slightly somewhat familiar with the man's history out of the experience. It makes little sense when Flex Alexander goes from being a black man with some chalk lightly pasted on his face to being a very, very white man with features that have been utterly, surgically overhauled.
In all honesty however, the film has some very interesting ideas about Jackson and its ending is almost a saving grace in how it ties together two of the most recurring themes of the film: Michael's fear of failure (in the eyes of his father and the media) and his undying love and respect for his fans, the people who would never leave him. It is clear that the ending was probably the one very clear idea the writers and director had while making this very obviously rushed, low-budget film and it stands out as a noteworthy highlight for a fairly mediocre film.
In conclusion, fans of Jackson could do worse than to watch this biopic, particularly those who mourn his passing. Taken with a pinch of salt, this is a fairly decent film with interesting ideas.
Power Rangers DinoThunder (2004)
The closest thing to a genuinely serious, contemporary Power Rangers show that can be enjoyed by audiences older than 5 years old.
I (like most other people my own age) grew up with the original Power Rangers series and lost interest soon after Zeo, when Tommy and the rest of them left. I came back into it a few times over the years, when my younger brothers got into it as all kids do, but overall, it faded into my childhood and I always dismissed it as something that couldn't truly be enjoyed by someone older than 5 years old.
I found out recently that Jason David Frank (the legendary green, white and red Ranger from the first five seasons) returned as the 'mentor' character in Power Rangers: Dino Thunder. I decided to check out an episode, purely for the entertainment value of getting to see my old favourite get back into action. Funnily enough, I found myself enjoying it more than I thought I would and between downloads and DVDs, I ended up acquiring nearly a third of the whole series.
My thoughts? Well, it's still pretty silly. All of the exaggerated motions, the over-acting and the campiness one would expect from a Power Rangers show is all present, but for some reason it's toned down immensely. The main villain Mesogog, is dead-serious and so is his henchman Zeltrax. Neither of these characters are ever viewed as comic relief. Also, the Rangers are more three-dimensional than ever before. Instead of being a group of pure, wholesome best friends that constantly get straight As, the three main Rangers are a group of misfits: the jock, the alternative singer and the neurotic geek. The show actually shows them develop into true friends and better people over the course of thirty or so episodes, something that would be unheard of in the one-dimensionality of earlier series'.
The return of Tommy Oliver to the Power Rangers universe is just the icing on the cake. If this show wasn't as good as it was, it wouldn't have worked as well, but luckily, this was the perfect show to have Tommy come back to guide a new team. Tommy's character is slightly darker than the wholesome, gushy character we saw years ago. Tommy is well-versed in the kind of trials and tribulations that Power Rangers face, so he acts as a teacher to the younger, newer Rangers. Then of course, to please the fans, Tommy gets his own morpher and Powers early on in the series and becomes the Black Ranger (as cool as he's ever been).
The acting is somewhat above-par from what you'd usually expect from a Power Rangers show, but that's not to say that it's in any way decent. Frank plays the part he played for years well enough, Emma Lahana is fine as the spunky chick and Kevin Duhaney makes a decent nerd. Unfortunately, James Napier isn't exactly stellar as Connor McKnight and the Australian actor's American accent is horrible. It's as if he watched a western once, years ago, and based his accent off that. Throughout the series, evidence of his true heritage pops out blatantly in mid-speech, to the point where one wonders why he even bothers trying with the accent.
Overall, this series is a lot of fun and isn't nearly as garish and offensive as other Power Ranger incarnations. Definitely one for all the family to watch.
Rocky Balboa (2006)
One of the most inspirational films I have ever seen
I have nothing but praise for Sylvester Stallone, a man I once likened to as an actor who is 'so-bad-he's-good' (a la Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme). This film isn't just inspirational because of Rocky Balboa's comeback, it's just inspirational because of Stallone's comeback as a serious, respected actor.
The film shows Rocky pushing sixty following his beloved Adrian's death in a surprisingly undetermined year (most of the Rocky films are products of their time. This one was fairly timeless). Following a computer-generated simulation of what would take place in a battle between Balboa and the new heavyweight champion Mason 'The Line' Dixon, Balboa wins the fight and a media circus as well as Rocky's instincts tell him to rejoin the world of boxing. Along the way, he bonds with his son as well as making new friends in 'little Marie' from the first film and her son 'Steps'.
On an acting standpoint, the film mostly excels. Stallone perfectly portrays a wiser, grown-up version of the lovable simpleton he created in the original films. Burt Young returns as the troubled Paulie, Rocky's best friend and Adrian's brother. The best newcomer in the film is easily Geraldine Hughes, who plays Marie who is well into her forties in this film. Marie is a soft-spoken, pleasant character who has a positive attitude toward life, even if it hasn't been so good to her. I for one, hope Hughes breaks out into more serious roles in the future as she clearly has talent. Antonio Tarver gives a worthy and unique portrayal as Mason Dixon, especially considering the fact that Tarver is a boxer in real life and not an actor. A very nice touch to the film was the inclusion of Tony Burton, Apollo Creed's trainer in the original film and then later Rocky's trainer in subsequent films. From the promotional material, I was very afraid that Stallone was going to jettison anything positive that he generated from the Rocky sequels and just try and pay homage to the original (where Burton didn't really have that big a part) but he is clearly relishing the fourteen-year saga he created and Burton's casting further proves this. The only disappointments from an acting standpoint are the actor who play Rocky's son Robert and the actor who plays 'Steps'. In Rocky V, Robert Balboa was played by Sylvester's real-life son, Sage Stallone and while he wasn't stellar, he was decent and the father-son chemistry between the two was perfect. In this film, however, neither the actor nor the chemistry are particularly good and I spent much of the film wishing that Sage had returned. The actor and the character who played 'Steps' had very little to do in the film and I often wondered why the character was included at all.
The film suffers from minor pacing problems, especially at the beginning where Rocky spends about fifteen minutes of screen time moping about in remembrance of Adrian. Also, Rocky only fights once in the whole film, and that is in the climax. Nevertheless, the fight is truly breathtaking and not since the second Rocky film have I been so excited and enthralled by a climactic boxing fight.
Above all, this is a truly inspirational film that gives Stallone's most enduring, lovable, unique character, an exit worthy of a king. I recommend this film to anyone who has ever had a dream and anyone who has ever felt insignificant. It'll turn you around.
Casino Royale (2006)
Arguably the greatest Bond film ever
This film is a reboot of sorts. After the clichéd 'Die Another Day' in 2002, with its plethora of explosions and ludicrous gadgets (the invisible Aston Martin really pushed the meter), the producers decided to do away with the bizarre, fantastic and conspicuously repetitive trappings of the traditional Bond film and start again, focusing on the character and the plot, rather than weird and wonderful gizmos and set pieces. Basically, the aim of this film was to bring Bond into real life.
And by God, how it succeeded in doing just that.
The film opens without the traditional gun-barrel sequence and instead starts with a eerie, film-noiresque black and white sequence, showing Bond doing away with a rogue Mi6 agent.. It is apparent from the very start that this Bond is fairly different to the Brosnan version and is willing to kill callously. The title sequence is great as it drops the semi-naked CGI women, in favour of a more sinister montage of cards and a very cool animation of Bond fighting hand-to-hand.
The film is gripping, throughout. It is one of the first films I have been to in a long time where the fight sequences were very tense and organic and I was unsure whether or not the hero would make it out. The plot jumps around a small bit, but not too much to annoy the viewer. I often worried that the low-key plot of the novel might out-date the film, but the filmmakers worked around this, expanding the novel and giving it a modern edge.
In terms of acting, this is easily one of the best 007 films around. Daniel Craig is simply marvelous as Bond and makes him very three-dimensional. In this film, Bond is not the all-knowing, all-powerful secret agent he was in previous films. Bond makes mistakes in this film, and spends much of the film dealing with these mistakes, growing into the agent we all know and love. Craig personifies this perfectly and it is difficult to envisage Brosnan performing some of these very dramatic scenes. Eva Green is a very competent Bond girl and shares real chemistry with Craig's Bond. The fact that she is not cavorting around half nude like many Bond girls would, helps the audience to take her seriously and understand why Bond would actually fall in love with this woman.
If there is any problem with this film is its shameless use of product placement. It is wrong to say Bond is without gadgets in this picture. Sure, he doesn't exactly have the laser-watch or the exploding key chain, but he has just about every real-life gadget Sony makes. Bond or another character is shown using a Sony Ericsson in most scenes and Sony laptops, Mp3 players and any other whatnot the company could throw in are in full view throughout the picture. It takes away from the realism of the film, when every character has the same brand of telephone.
Anyway, this is a bold and brilliant Bond film, with a fairly perfect star. I find it difficult not to call this the greatest Bond film of them all. Go and see it.
For some reason...it rocks your socks off!
I think of this show sort of the way I think of Tim Burton's Batman. Burtons' Batman focused a lot more on visuals and preferred to explain the story through actions rather than words. Nevertheless, people dug it and flocked to see the film(s). Superboy was much the same. The acting is nothing to write home about, the dialogue is 50/50 at best and the stories are awfully stereotyped comic book stories. Nevertheless, something about it just kicks ass. Maybe it's the fact that it's the only Superman experience ever that features a bang-on 100% accurate version of the costume. Maybe it's the fact that even though the plots are awfully stereotyped and clichéd, it really is the only show that has those plots anyway. I don't know, maybe it's just because it's fun and it doesn't make you depressed with all of the pain and anguish and darkness of the modern day Superman shows like Smallville.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with Superboy, originally he was just a spin-off of the Superman comic, showing Clark's adventures as a fully powered teenager. Well in the 80's, they got rid of that character and had the teenage Clark more along the lines of the character you watch in Smallville (which is getting steadily crappier). Now, when those crazy Salkind guys bought the rights to Superman, they also bought the rights to Supergirl, Superboy and (sigh) Superpup. Well, to make a long story short, the Salkinds sold the rights to Superman to those fools who made Superman IV. But they still had those rights to Girl, Boy and Pup. In 1984, Supergirl tanked, so that was no-show. They'd have to be pretty thick to make a live-action show about a dog with super powers, so they also gave that one a miss. But what about a boy? Better yet, a teenager, or better still, a college student with super powers? That could work...
And so, a show was born.
The first season saw John Haymes Newton as the boy of steel. Many claim that Newton was a bit too one-dimensional in terms of acting despite the fact that he looked like he had just walked off the face of a comic book. The stories in the first season generally revolved around social issues, largely because there wasn't much of a budget for fancy special effects (I'll get to that in a sec'). A lot of these episodes were also based upon events that happened in the comics or even in the movies. For example, just like in the comics, Lex loses his hair in a chemical accident and just like in the movies, Kryptonite is discovered in Addis Ababa. Another thing I liked about the first season was the fact that it was really 'Generation X' in the sense that it really tried to appeal to teenagers as well as the traditional Superman audience of kids and adults. If you listen to the first season Superboy theme tune, there's a really cool guitar solo in there. It also really reflects the style and tone of the late eighties which is kind of cool. The other seasons were more timeless and didn't have that eighties feel.
The second season brought in Gerard Christopher as Superboy because John Haymes Newton had portrayed Superboy as too much of a 'badboy' (which I kind of liked, but anyway) and he had also been getting in a bit of trouble with the law off screen. Gerard Christopher played Superboy as the Superman stereotype. He was cool, calm and collected and only ever got angry around villains. His Clark was a clumsy goofball, much the way he was in the movies, only more so. A new, older Lex Luthor was brought in as well, to tie in with a really silly story about Lex making himself look a famous inventor so that he could steal the inventor's weapon and (you guessed it folks) kill Superboy. Because the first season had brought in a bit of dough, the second season had more of a special effects budget and here's where things get really interesting. We got to see villains like Metallo and Bizarro for the first time ever off the pages of a comic. Sadly, we also got a load of silly villains like Dracula (?) and Microboy (a rival superhero in a big yellow foam suit), which made the second season look like a cross between the old Batman show and Power Rangers.
The third season became really dark and sophisticated, despite the fact that it was a show about a cheerful hero. This tone was probably to do with the release and success of Burton's Batman movie. It worked quite well, because it made Superboy look sort of out place (which is sort of cool, because Superman is out of place in today's modern, vice-filled society of sex, drugs, rock and roll and computers). The fourth season was probably the only season which didn't bring anything new to the show. The episodes were in the same dark tone as the third season, but if it counts for anything, they were written better and the overall acting was improving. But then, Warner Bros. came along and got rid of the show, because they didn't own it and it was starting to make some serious money. They took it off the airways for good and it is quite likely that it will never be seen on television ever again. But there is talk of bringing it out on DVD, so don't despair.
Overall, this show is quite good and it is worth noting that this is the last show that focused solely on a character that has been appearing in comics for over sixty years. Lois and Clark and Smallville are both attempts at updating this timeless character. It is definitely worth a watch if you can find some episodes of it.
Batman Begins (2005)
The Nipples Died Seven Years Ago.
The nipples, campy quips, and any remnants of the campy 60's Batman television show died with the woeful 'Batman and Robin'.
From the ashes of the Caped Crusader's death, rose the Dark Knight...
A force of good...
A force to be reckoned with...
This film is pure perfection. It is the comic book movie that fans have dreamed of for over seventy years. Unlike Spider-Man or X-Men, who regard themselves as comic book movies, not to be taken seriously, this film regards itself as a great movie about honor, justice, courage and above all, revenge.
As a child, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) witnesses his parents murdered by a desperate mugger and from then on falls into a dark persona of hate and fear. Upon witnessing the mugger's death almost ten years later, Bruce realizes that the justice system just can't work in a city as corrupt as Gotham City. He travels the world, studying the criminal element for himself, almost becoming a criminal. He is saved from a Bhutanese prison by a man known only as Ducard (Liam Neeson). The training begins.
Upon Bruce's return, he enter's a cave where he was frightened almost to death as a boy. It is a cave plagued with bats. He embraces his fear (in a beautiful scene), turning it into power. Using resources from his family's company, he becomes the Batman.
Christian Bale's performance as the Batman is exquisite. Absolutely perfect. Unlike previous incarnations where actors were unable to play the dual identities of Bruce Wayne and Batman, Christian Bale has come to the realization that this is in fact three characters. Bruce Wayne, the rich playboy who dates famous women and parties all night long, is a disguise. Batman, the dark knight who preys on evil, is a disguise. The man trapped between the two is the lead character in this film and is known only to the people Bruce loves the most.
Michael Caine's performance is also quite effective as his character is given far more attention than before (Michael Gough's Alfred of the previous films was more of a doormat than an ally) and the scenes between the two are remarkable.
Gary Oldman's Gordon is also given more screen-time than Pat Hingle's was in previous films. Oldman plays a dramatically different character, who is far more accurate to the character that appears in Batman comic books. Oldman is the one good cop in the city of snakes and he is about to give up, when the Batman convinces him that you can never give up hope.
Liam Neeson's Ducard/Ra's Al Ghul is probably the finest Batman villain since the Joker. Director Chris Nolan cleverly pretends that Ra's Al Ghul (supposedly played by Ken Watanabe) and The Scarecrow (played effectively by Cillian Murphy) are the central villains of the piece however, by the end of the film, Ducard reveals himself as Ra's himself (Watanabe's then dead character was actually a decoy) and Batman must make the crucial decision as to whether or not he can defeat his master. Neeson's portrayal of Ducard is far superior to that of Qui-Gon Jinn in the Star Wars Prequel. Ducard is angrier and is not as gentle and frustratingly annoying as Jinn.
I cannot stress how superior this film is to any superhero films you have seen before. It is on a par with Superman itself. Granted I am a Batman fan, and have been since the age of three, naturally I thought it would be good and I was right. However, my friends, who dislike comic books, wholly agreed with me, one of them even remarked that it was one of the greatest films she had ever seen!
The nipples on the batsuit are gone. The Caped Crusader is dead. The Dark Knight lives. Embrace the franchise's return.
The Mask of Zorro (1998)
Impressive and enjoyable interpretation of a timeless legend
'The Mask Of Zorro' is a fine example of what Summer Blockbusters should be...but generally aren't. Of course, 'The Mask of Zorro' is based on a timeless character that existed long before the likes of 'Mr and Mrs. Smith' or 'Spider-Man'. Zorro has been the subject of over 40 different films, perfect at best, hideous at worst.
Rather than simply creating a new franchise, with a story showing how Don Diego de la Vega became the original Zorro, this film focuses on the fact that Zorro, unlike other heroes, is a legend, and can live through generations.
Anthony Hopkins plays an aging de la Vega, who is caught out by his enemies and is subjected to twenty years imprisonment before escaping. Upon his escape, he finds that his gaoler, Don Rafael Montero, has returned to California, with evil plans no less. De la Vega finds troubled bandit Alejandro Murrieta (played with comic charm by Antonio Banderas) seeking to avenge his brother's death and Murrieta's training to become the new Zorro begins.
Unlike Zorros of the past, this film had a far more lenient budget, giving way for wire effects and stunt men, so that the film could stretch to its fullest. However, at the beginning of the film, when we see Hopkins in his final days as Zorro, it is slightly laughable, as the camera films a slightly pudgy old man before the shot changes and he transforms into an athletic youth (clearly a stuntman), leaping around the scenery and jousting at his foes. Hopkins' acting skill definitely paid off in the role of De la Vega, however he did not have the physical presence of Zorro in his old age. Then again, finding an athletic sixty-year old who can pass for a thirty-year old and still act to his fullest is probably easier said then done.
This film is visually and audibly breathtaking, also, with James Horner's impressive Hespanic themes and beautiful landscapes. One particular scene which compliments both musical and production design is an impressive, however slightly erotic, tango scene between Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones' love interest.
Overall, this is a highly enjoyable family film that will appeal to all who love adventure.
Better than your average comic adaptation
There are numerous reasons I believe DC Comics are better than Marvel comics. This is not the place to explore them all, however one of the central reasons is that DC's films will always be remembered as more than just comic-book films. Superman is fondly remembered as one of the greatest films of all time. And Batman by Tim Burton is remembered as one of the most Gothic, and grim blockbusters of all time.
This film is not an origin story in the truer sense of the word. It doesn't show how Bruce Wayne, millionaire industrialist actually became Batman. Rather, it throws us right into the action, with a beautiful opening scene. Batman scares a couple of punks into submission before Keaton delivers the epic line, that practically torpedoed all memories of television shows starring Adam West: "What are you?" "I'm BATMAN!" The film's plot is quite thin and is more based around the rivalry of Batman and his arch-nemesis The Joker (played to perfection by Jack Nicholson) but the visual aspect of the film makes up for it.
The only true downfall of this film is that Batman is not the main character. That right belongs to Jack Nicholson. This annoyed me somewhat, what with Keaton's scenes being so breathtaking (especially considering that there's such a small, slight man underneath all of that rubber!). Despite this fact, this is one of the better comic book adaptations you will ever see.
Far superior to the original
"Saved By The Bell" was a ridiculously wacky and zany affair, what with its occasional science-fiction oriented episodes (I recall one episode where Screech developed the ability to read minds!) and the acting was atrocious. The sets were horribly plastic and you could tell that you were watching a TV show. It never felt real.
"Saved By The Bell: The College Years" is quite a sophisticated situation comedy that doesn't always follow the same formula, as the original mostly did. Unlike the original, the characters develop throughout the series, and their strengths and weaknesses are drawn out more consistently. Also, the 'girlfriend of the week' plot tool is completely thrown out. Zach is never seen with a girlfriend who has been dumped by the following episode.
My theory for the cancellation of this above-average show is that unlike the kiddy-oriented original, this series was far more sophisticated and probably had a hard time finding its audience, which led to its cancellation.
The result was one final crack: a TV movie. Heinous at best, crap at worst.
Nevertheless, this series is definitely worth watching.
The first true comic book movie...still one of the best.
Granted I have not yet seen what looks to be the ultimate Batman film (Batman Begins) so far, Superman (or Superman: The Movie as it is usually called) is by far my favorite, simply because it was a pioneer in film-making, much like the later Batman movie by Tim Burton.
Before Superman, comic books were widely acknowledged as being campy and outrageously silly, as the popular Batman show depicted. Superman was a movie that just proved that this was not so.
The story is known well. A scientist, Jor-El (the late, great Marlon Brando) foresees the demise of the planet Krypton, however his peers (also played by well established actors) hold naught but disbelief in his findings. They ban him and his wife from leaving Krypton...however not his son.
Needless to say, Jor-El sends his son hurtling into space towards the distant planet Earth, where he grows up to discover that under Earth's yellow sun, he has acquired amazing physical powers.
Christopher Reeve plays Superman to the peak of perfection. Possibly the finest portrayal of a superhero in film history. His warm smile and comforting eyes are the pinnacle of what makes Superman such an iconic character.
Lex Luthor, Superman's arch-rival is played relatively well, if not slightly campy by Gene Hackman.
The story overall, is solid and enjoyable, however it doesn't flow as freely as it should. The story is set into three main chapters that just follow one another without any true sense of continuity.
1. Krypton's demise, Kal-El(Superman's true Kryptonian name)'s trip to Earth.
2. Superman reveals himself to the world.
3. Lex Luthor plots to nuke California.
The budding love interest of Margot Kidder's Lois Lane is sprinkled on to lukewarm effect amidst the heroics.
One of the things that annoyed me more than anything in this near-perfect film, was an irritating scene towards the end, that, despite it's drama, goes against the whole 'revamping comics' image that the film tried to set.
Lois Lane is on her deathbed following Superman's failed attempt to save her.
So Superman flies around the world and turns back time and saves her. I am well aware that this is a film about a man who can break the laws of physics, but even still this is slightly ridiculous for my tastes.
OVERALL: This is a quite beautiful film that was unfairly dwarfed by the extravagance of Star Wars which is why it will not be as well remembered. Still, comic book movies are still unable to capture the essence of their source material the way this one did and despite some small errors, is definitely a film that should be in your collection.
Judge Dredd (1995)
Good, but not quite good enough
Judge Dredd is an awesome, British-made character that appears in a weekly comic to this day. 'Judge Dredd' the movie, is not Stallone's finest performance by any means. The irony is, that in the comic, Dredd is a battle-scarred character that is driven only by the law. In my view, Sylvester Stallone would have been the perfect Judge Dredd since he did so well in films such as the excellent Rambo Trilogy and 'Demolition Man' (made a year before this release). However, it would seem that Stallone was afraid of being typecast and so, he twisted the character and script around in awful ways, turning Dredd into an emotionless machine. If Stallone had stuck the script and played Dredd as the wise-cracking Dirty Harry type figure from the comics, the movie would have been far better.
The story is slightly mediocre, and tends to emulate a lot from 'Demolition Man' (watch both films and you'll definitely see what I mean).
SPOILERS Set in a futuristic 'Mega-City' where local law enforcement have the right to 'judge' in the field rather than let the perpetrator run free until a lazy jury finds them innocent, Judge Dredd is the best at what he does. However, in a plot perpetrated by a crazed fellow Judge to rule Mega City, Dredd gets framed for a murder he didn't commit.
Dredd spends most of the film (WITHOUT HIS FAMOUS HELMET ON!) shooting 'Judge Hunters' (pretty self-explanatory I should think) whilst trying to make his way back into Mega-City from the ruins of the Cursed Earth (Rob Schneider helps him along the way)so he can apprehend Judge Rico (Dredd's psychopathic brother) and Judge Griffin (the brains of the scam).
Visually, the film is excellent; but the mediocre storyline which bears little resemblance to anything from the comics really lets the film down. Another disappointment that really let down hardcore Dredd fans, was that for 80% of the screen time, he's not wearing his famous ornate helmet! In the comics, Dredd was never seen without the helmet (it added to the mystery, leaving the reader to wonder what Dredd looked like underneath), yet in this movie, he is almost never seen WITH it.
Overall, I give this film 4/10. It was set up to be the perfect comic book movie, but was let down because of Stallone's fear of being typecast.
Decent. Complements the film pretty well.
Back in the day of Megadrives and SNESs, when the only good games you could get were side-scrollers, this came out to cash in on the film. I bought it, thinking it might be pretty good. It was. It wasn't excellent, but it was playable. The only major problem with it was that Batman couldn't run or slide tackle, or do half the things his enemies could. However, one element that saves the game is the fact that you are given unlimited continues. This is very useful, because back then, you were not able to save your progress, and it was really dull having to go back and start from the beginning.
Another let-down is that we are not given any cut-scenes. Batman is simply transported from one locale to another without warning. This would make little sense to someone who has not seen the film.
Overall, this film deserves an 8/10 while the game only deserves 6/10.
Dick Tracy (1990)
Not bad! Not bad at all!
This is a great retro shooter, based on a very interesting film idea. In the game you play as Tracy, shooting criminals in front and behind of him with a pistol and over on the far wall with a tommy gun. Although Dick Tracy was primarily a kid's film, there is a lot of violence in this game, what with the central objective being to shoot everything in sight before it shoots you. However, as much violence as there is, there is enough cut scenes to give you an idea of what the story is about as well. Overall, this is a great game for the Genesis/Megadrive, and I advise anyone who has one to get this game and see the film.
RoboCop vs. The Terminator (1993)
Best ever RoboCop game
I played this for the Genesis/Megadrive, and man did I love it! It was more of a RoboCop game as opposed to a Terminator game, but it still kicked ass! The game is based on a Dark Horse Comic of the same name. In an unusual turnout, the game actually turned out to be better than the comic itself! This is possibly because the game follows an easier plot (what with it being a low-budget 16-bit game and all).
When you move RoboCop, he moves LIKE RoboCop, and when you shoot, he looks the same as in the movies! Also, when you shoot humans (not Terminators), they blow up in a bloody mess! It's madness! The only downside to this game is that its impossibly difficult and I was only able to finish it with the help of some cheat codes. Nevertheless, if you can find it, get RoboCop-V-Terminator! It's far better than any of the other RoboCop games!
Better than real life
You heard me. This game, while tasteless and very offensive, is quite possibly the great video game of our time. There is so much to do, so much to achieve, so much to conquer.
You play as Carl Johnson, who is just home in San Andreas from Liberty City. His mother has just died and he has returned to his Grove Street home to sort things out and try to get rid of the growing crack cocaine market.
**SPOILERS** You start off in the suburbs of Los Santos, fighting rival gangs and smuggling weapons, before moving on to the Countryside where you work alongside the manic Catalina (GTA 3, anyone?). Soon, you emigrate to San Fierro (a spoof of San Francisco), before moving on to the desert where you learn how to fly an airplane. After leaving Los Venturas (the gambling capital of the country and a spoof of a certain area of Nevada...), you finally head home to Los Santos, to exact your revenge on the people who betrayed and destroyed you (and nearly killed your brother).
This game is so realistic, so much fun, so enticing, that unless you have about three years of free time, and no social life whatsoever, I would not even recommend you play it!
RoboCop: Prime Directives (2001)
Not half bad!
I recently bought this miniseries in its entirety at a very cheap price. Although it was well worth the money and I did enjoy it, there were numerous things that didn't appeal to me.
First of all, the special effects were horrendous. Some parts of the films looked as though you were watching a video game. Also, the music was nothing like the classic RoboCop theme (I still get shivers up my spine when I hear that tune...). The theme tune in these films is campy and sounds more like something out of a western. Lastly, Page Fletcher looks nothing like RoboCop. He is short and has an annoyingly shaped mouth and chin (seeing as that's the only part of Robo's skin that you see, you'd think they'd find an actor with a 'handsome' chin). He also speaks more like Microsoft Sam then RoboCop. His performance would not have been so bad if the storyline did not keep throwing 'Murphy Memories' at us. Page Fletcher looks more like an average cop then the cool, sophisticated but compassionate Murphy that Peter Weller delivered to us all those years ago. He is also several years too old, seeing as though the memories are set before Murphy transferred to Metro South.
Fletcher's costume does not help the problem either. It looks acceptable when he's wearing the Robo helmet (it actually looks pretty cool since it is so battle-damaged). But when the helmet is removed, you can tell that it is a man in a costume. Unlike the 1987 original, or even the later TV series, this suit had no complex wires and circuitry attached to Murphy's face. Murphy's face looks exactly the same as it did before he was shot down. Also, you can easily spot the seams at the chin that lead down into Fletcher's neck.
Anyway, now that I'm finished ranting about the series' problems, I can tell you the good things about it.
First of all, this series 'pretends' like the events of the second two movies (and the TV series for that matter) didn't happen. That means, no RoboCop 2s, no Detroit revolutions, no jet packs etc. This was a good move.
Second of all was the unique comic-book plot the four movies delivered.
**SPOILERS** In the first movie, Robo has to deal with the villainous Bone Machine (who looks a bit campy but anyway). He partners up with his old partner John Cable (who is unaware that he is his old partner.) By the end of the film, OCP adds a fourth 'Prime Directive' into Murphy's system, forcing him to kill John Cable. I enjoyed 'Dark Justice' because it didn't throw us right into the main story as of yet. For now, it was focusing more on the characters and where they've been for the last ten years. However there were parts I did not enjoy. But I think I've said enough about the abysmal special effects and Page Fletcher's casting.
In the second movie, wouldn't you know it, Cable is now RoboCop 2 (or RoboCable). He basically looks exactly the same as RoboCop 1, except he is a shiny black and his visor is silver. Evil OCP executives use RoboCable to frame RoboCop and then use Cable to destroy RoboCop. However, Murphy recognizes his friend and frantically tries to make him remember his past. 'Meltdown' was good because we finally got to see a RoboCop 2 that didn't look an obnoxious tank or C-3PO's mother-in law. Also, we get to see Murphy's old partner go through the same confusion and pain that Murphy himself went through all those years ago. On a more negative note however, a lot of focus is put on the 'Cable' character, leading me to believe that the series on a whole has got more to do with him than to do with RoboCop.
'Resurrection' was easily my favourite of the four TV movies. Crappy special effects and laughable acting is kept to a minimum.
**MAJOR SPOILER WARNING** The best thing about 'Resurrection' was that we see Murphy's friends activate the part of brain that was never re-activated when he was turned into RoboCop. This part theoretically contains all of his memories as Murphy. We see him relive everything. We even see that famous Clarence Boddicker mutilation shot (which has appeared in every live-action RoboCop series or movie ever made). It is in this segment that the story of this miniseries truly unfolds. In this episode we meet evil scientist David Kaydick who is trying to upload a virus onto an OCP project called S.A.I.N.T. (a computer that is to control everything in Delta City). There was only one part of this segment I really did not like. There is a VERY cheesy bullet-time sequence where RoboCop's bullets ricochet off Cable's. This is another RoboCop 3-style attempt at making something stupid look like something cool.
The last episode of the series was something of a disappointment. Although it was easily better than the first two episodes, it was not as good as 'Resurrection'. Where 'Resurrection combined action, classic RoboCop drama, a reasonably solid plot, and startling revelations, 'Crash and Burn' only delivered the action. It was still more or less enjoyable however, what with RoboCop's grown up son James Murphy now one of the good guys. It is enjoyable listening to him call RoboCop 'Dad'. In this film, Kaydick is trying to upload 'The Legion Virus' into the S.A.I.N.T. mainframe (residing in OCP control tower) and Murphy, James and their friend from the abandoned Old Detroit Ann R. Key (stupid, I know). Before long, the building is locked down by Kaydick and the gang are trapped inside, having to deal with both the defences and Kaydick.
Overall, 'Crash and Burn' ended things on a satisfactory note, but not on an excellent note. The only thing I really hated about it was that they ended it in such a way that a sequel would only be ludicrous. But then again, it ended RoboCop period. It showed us how things ended with Murphy, and they ended on a happy note, which is good.
'RoboCop: Prime Directives' is a must for fans of Murphy's plight. Although Page Fletcher was not an inspired choice, the story and atmosphere make up for both his performance and the RoboRubbish we've had to put up with since RoboCop 2 was released. My only advice to anyone that hasn't seen it is to buy the series in its entirety like I did. The series is made so that one episode is no good unless you see the rest of the series. I give this series 7/10.
RoboCop 3 (1993)
I don't care what people say...
I don't care what people say. I think this film is cool. It is flawed, but it is still far cooler than RoboCop 2 (or RoboCrap as I like to call it). The drama in this film makes it unique amongst its predecessors, and it is much better than the likes of 'Batman: Forever' (another film unique in its own franchise).
The plot sees OCP going ahead with Delta City. They hire a mercenary group called 'Rehab' to 'escort' the people from their homes and into rehabilitation camps. The police hate this idea and once a stray bullet hits officer Ann Lewis, RoboCop is seriously p***ed off.
The plot is simple, but it is superior in its simplicity. It is the campy one-liners and gags that let this film down on more than one occasion. Things like RoboCop commandeering a pimp-mobile and Sergeant Reid having to deal with a drag queen prostitute are just a few of the things that had me fuming at the television screen. I'd say it is for this reason that a lot of people hate this film with such a passion. Another reason that this repelled Robo-fans was because it had very little political satire other than the fact that the main characters were trying to beat the system for the good of the people. There is very little 'MediaBreak Advertisement' sequences, and even the ones that are shown have strong relevance to the story. This is probably because this film is aimed squarely at children so that more action figures can be sold.
However, I quite enjoyed the drama of the people rebelling against the corporate monster OCP for the rights to their own homes. I especially loved the part where even the Detroit Police Department thought that OCP had gone out of line, throwing their badges at an OCP executive, and leaving the building to go and help the civilians reclaim their homes. This is something you don't usually get in a superhero film (if you want to call any of the RoboCop films 'superhero' films).
**MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!**
It is pretty obvious that they gave RoboCop a removable gun/flamethrower attachment (it attached to his hand) to sell action figures. The same applies with the jet pack seen at the end of the film. However, I felt that they were incorporated into the film quite nicely, and the flying scene, however fake, is pretty cool if you take it with a pinch of salt. Especially with Basil Poledouris' theme music booming in the background.
Overall, RoboCop 3 does not deserve to be in the 'Bottom One-Hundred Films' list. I believe it should be in 'The Best Sequels' list. If you enjoy RoboCop because he's a superhero and not because the films he appears in (usually) have strong political satire in them, then this is the film for you. 6/10.
RoboCop 2 (1990)
My god how this film is so horrible. How the author of 'Batman: Year One' wrote such rubbish, I'm afraid I'll never know.
***SPOILERS (but the film spoils itself anyway, so you might as well read the bloody things)***
Let's start with the basics. Now that the excellent character Clarence Boddicker is dead and buried, we've got a psycho drug addict/dealer on the loose that likes to send home videos of his opinions into news channels that like to show disturbing clips of drug dealers vowing to plague the city. Okay, so maybe Cain was high at the time. Don't get me wrong, it was pretty scary.
Cain: "The people want paradise...and they will have it." (Pretty darn scary)
Even still, Cain is still a stupid psycho and is not even the central villain. Some little ten-year old is. Funny, he's the youngest character in the film and he's one of the only villains that's not addicted to 'nuke'.
Anyway, RoboCop is stalking his wife, who alerts the police. They re-programme him with all sorts of zany new Prime Directives, turning him into a Robo-BoyScout. This idea is quickly scrapped when Lewis notices that the bullet-proof behemoth tries to reason with a harmless, overweight gangster -with little more than a basic shotgun (RoboCop is made out of titanium)- instead of shooting him in the head. Robo-BoyScout quickly turns back to Robo-Cop with the help of a high-powered charge of electricity.
Cain is killed and turned into RoboCop 2. A whole lot of people take nuke, the mayor of Old Detroit negotiates with terrorists, RoboCop defeats RoboCop 2, and then...oh wait the film's over.
Tells you not to take drugs? Well, if you're a crime-boss it's advisable (according to this movie)...
Cool action? If you want to count unnecessary violence as action.
Cool dialogue? If you want to count unnecessary obscenities as dialogue.
Good film? I'll leave that one to you.
Purely for the kids who weren't allowed to see the movie
I was recently at a used video/bookstore where I bought a video thinking it was RoboCop the movie. After further inspection on the ride home, I realized I had accidentally bought the pilot episode of the old TV series I used to watch in my earlier years. I decided on watching on it. If I didn't like it, I would bring it back and buy the movie.
This pilot is so stupid and outlandlishly ridiculous, that the only plausible explanation for it was that the producers were trying to recreate a RoboCop version of the old Batman show. That's the only way I can explain the campy quips, the ridiculous villains (Pudface Morgan, hah!) and the bad acting. The whole experience just felt to me like something for the kids whose mothers wouldn't allow them to see the very violent, sometimes disturbing 1988 movie. I have heard that the later TV movies and animated series were better. I certainly hope so.
AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
A great film...(NOTE THE SARCASM)
This is a great film...
For people who love action and monsters as old as my father battle it out.
This is not a great film...
For people who love character development, drama, good plot, tension, suspense, scientific realism, general realism and just about everything a sophisticated moviegoer would go for.
I never thought I'd say this, but Freddy-V-Jason is actually better than this movie. Don't go and see either of these films. I would advise anyone that's planning on watching this movie to stay at home and bang their head against a carving knife. Trust me, it's more fun.
Very enjoyable and user friendly.
Great stuff. I saw Star Trek VI before seeing this film and I remember thinking it was pretty good. This film was far better however. Most reviews make this out to be a humorous affair, full of jokes involving the Enterprise crew's being from the future. There were some, but they didn't bring the entire movie down with them (a la Superman III). I found this to be a very enjoyable, user friendly Star Trek film, and with the help of it, I managed to get my younger brothers into the franchise.
The story begins with the Enterprise crew fixing their stolen Klingon Bird Of Prey (see ST: III) and heading back to Earth, only to find a big old alien probe is destroying Earth. They analyse the strange noises the thing is making and find out that it is trying to communicate with Humpback Whales (which of course are extinct at this point). The crew goes back in time to save two Humpback Whales and save the future of planet earth from total annihilation.
Great stuff. Go out and buy it.
Batman Forever (1995)
It could and should have been better
This film owes its flaws to its director and production designer. NOT and I repeat NOT to its writers. I believe that this is the best written of the series. Val Kilmer is good if not better as Batman and I defy anyone to tell me that he was a bad Bruce Wayne. Keaton wasn't nearly handsome enough and it bothered me the way he seemed to keep all of his troubles bottled up inside. Kilmer, however can say things that Batman would say in the comics (without it sounding corny).
On to the cons.
Tommy Lee Jones was obviously confused and mistaken while playing this part. He seemed to believe that he was playing some kind of Joker offspring and that there was something about two-faces and a coin in there too. It was the same with Jim Carrey as the Riddler. In the comics, these are two of the most sophisticated villains of them all (if you ignore the Riddler's costume) and somehow, Joel Schumacher and his motley crew of potheads managed to ruin them too. (But the writers had nothing to do with this).
The production design. Dear oh dear oh dear the production design. It seemed as though there was some sort of gas explosion somewhere in the heart of the city because everywhere in the film there was green or purple gas. And that's not the half of it! Everywhere, there's neon! Everywhere! Neon make-up! Neon lights! Neon cars! (Again, not the writer's fault)
Finally, the music. The main theme was a bit iffy (it sounded too aggressive and silly), but there was this little bit of it that was really dramatic and captured the 'feel' of Batman properly. It worked well when Batman recited his origin in a more deeper and dramatic way than what was done in the first movie(thank you writers!).
In the long run, this film is worth a watch. Blame the director as you watch the villains prance around the place like circus freaks. Blame the production designer as a dark shadowy figure of the night drives through a street fogged up with purple gas protruding from just about everywhere. But for god sakes, try and put these things aside and enjoy the fine story pieced together by the writers. It could and should have been better, but a lot of it was perfect.
I have no idea why Superman's logo looks the way it does, (probably something to do with one of Joe Shuster's original drawings) but this is still excellent. There is very little dialogue in these films, and the little dialogue that is played is almost inaudible. These shorts are more for the action fan. In the beginning, Superman can only leap (leap tall buildings in a single bound as it were) but before long, the narrator reveals that flight is also one of his attributes (soar higher than any plane!). During the course of these film-noir cartoons, we see Superman battle robot jewel thieves, a dinosaur, the Japanese, and even some Nazis (Hitler himself appeared at the end of that episode)! This probably might not appeal to fans of the modern day Superman, because the guy we see here is the tough, take no prisoners hero of the golden age. Nevertheless, a great series of cartoons, and as a Superman fan, I must say, I enjoyed them.