movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

PLOT SUMMARY: “There are 4 billion people on earth. 237 are Scanners. They have the most terrifying powers ever created… and they are winning.”

PEOPLE: Written & Directed by David Cronenberg (eXistenZ, Videodrome, The Fly, The Naked Lunch).

Starring Stephan Lack as Camerone Vale — whose career went nowhere. His acting is perceived as bad in this movie, but I think it was kind of on purpose, as he was somebody who never really got to live a real life. Of course he would be stiff and naive and kind of robotic. But it still comes off as bad acting. And maybe it was. Bad guy Revok is played by Michael Ironside (X-Men:First Class, Terminator Salvation, The Machinist, Starship Troopers, McBain [yes that’s a movie!], Total Recall, Highlander 2, Top Gun, Lois Lane’s dad, General Sam Lane, in 3 episodes of Smallville, Darkseid in 4 eps of Justice League, as well as the 1990s Superman cartoon, Colonel Moss in the Wolverine & The X-Men cartoon, and Ham Tyler from the original V series).

The doctor was Patrick McGoohan, who I guess was famous as John Drank in Danger Man and Secret Agent back in the 1960s. He was also King Edward I in Bravehaeart and The Phantom‘s dad in The Phantom (1996). He died on my birthday in 2009.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): Government sponsors murder.

QUIRKS: Exploding head scene. Slowness. Nothing happening. Slowness. Government conspiracy. Slowness.

VISUALS: Exploding head scene. Buncha sterile 70’s locations with people talking. Shotguns.

The head exploding scene is really overrated.

The green computerized credits were really cool, though.

SOUNDTRACK: None that I remember.

MORALS:

If you have powers, best not to get involved with anybody or anything, because humanity fucking sucks.

If you’re pregnant, don’t take new drugs on the market.

POLITICS: Fuck the government. Especially secret agencies.

GOOD STUFF: The ending battle actually worked out differently than I thought it would, which was kind of neat.

BAD STUFF: Slow. Boring. Slow. Boring. Hardly anything happens.

The ridiculous fucking idea that if you are telepathic and can access human nervous systems, that you must therefore be able to access computers, because “they have nervous systems too”. What utter fucking bullshit.

The acting when people get scanned. Having to shake and act like “oh no i’m being scanned”. The scanner battles. The expressions the actors make. CORNY!

The only guns are shotguns — you better believe it! Then again, if a scanner may be messing with your aim while you are trying to kill him, a shotgun’s wide blast radius might be the only way you still manage to hit them.

Yes, a computer can make a telephone booth explode. DEAL WITH IT. Ha ha ha.

CONCLUSION: An overrated cult classic that is not deserving of its notoriety. Dated, slow, boring, preposterous (even for the world it took place in), NOT gory like its reputation, and certainly not groundbreaking in the least. The 2011 remake’s gonna be better. It can’t NOT be.

RATINGS:
Clint: Netflix: 2/5 stars. IMDB: 5/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6.6/10. “I thought it was somewhat interesting. It wasn’t ground-breaking though…”
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 6.7/10, Netflix: 3.2/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was the same–3.2/5 stars).

RECOMMENDATION: I’m waiting for the 2011 remake. It’s got to be better than this.

MOVIE QUOTE:

Cameron Vale: You called me a scanner. What is that?
Paul Ruth: Freak of nature, born with a certain form of ESP; derangement of the synapses which we call telepathy. (more…)

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 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link #2 #3] [Netflix link] This is where The Matrix got its ideas from, or so I hear.

PLOT SUMMARY: A young biker stumbles onto a prototype motorcycle with a hidden function that has a link to the true nature of his world, which is not what it seems.

The red pill is now a motorcycle.

QUIRKS: Sci-fi anime.

VISUALS: Cheesy early 1980’s anime style. They look like a bad Robotech episode. Actually, movie #2 has an improvement in the animation sometimes — even if the characters look like they came from Tromaville (just like Hobo With A Shotgun).

SOUNDTRACK: Cheezy 80’s music. With J-Pop interludes.

ADV did the English dubs for movie #2 and movie #3, so if you like Super Milk Chan and Ghost Stories, it may be worth checking it out in English. We, however, watched this in Japanese, as we do with all anime. Then again, #3 in particular was so much worse that perhaps hearing the familiar ADV voices would have made us pay more attention! Apparently the ADV dub for #3 was 30-40 minutes longer! Damn!

POLITICS: Fuck the military.

GOOD STUFF:

At least with movie #1, the Matrix-like reality-reveal is quite amazing and interesting. And it’s not identical to The Matrix, either. And in movie #2, they have a scene that could be analagous to Neo’s talking with The Architect in The Matrix 2 (one of my favorite parts of The Matrix trilogy, though thankfully I didn’t see The Matrix 2 in the theatre, and was able to watch The Architect scene 2 times in a row to fully comprehend it).

An all-cgi pop idol (and I don’t mean the character is animated via cgi in the movie, but that in their world, this character is completely computer generated) that the public doesn’t know is a computer program. This mimics real life a bit, where a Japan pop idol was recently found out to be a computerized face.

BAD STUFF: An increasingly bad franchise. Movie #3 had parts where we were both drifting off and not paying attention — because it wasn’t that engaging. New characters. It’s hundreds of years later (though they don’t really make that known when they should). Unexplained plot points. The most interesting thing in movie #3 is the Eve character — which says a lot, because I found her to be one of the less interesting things in the first 2 movies.

Carolyn adds: “Also, I was annoyed at the second movie when they had the same 2 characters, but they looked completely different.  Yui had blue hair in the first movie, and light brown in the second.  It took me a bit to figure out they were the same characters, and not some new introductions…..  it was kind of lame…. then the third movie actually was different characters, and you were confused by that..”

CONCLUSION: Worth seeing movie #1 at least, in order to see the early inspiration for The Matrix, The Truman Show, Dark City, and the like.

RATINGS:

Clint: Movie 1: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
Carolyn: Movie 1: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.

Clint: Movie 2: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10.
Carolyn: Movie 2: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6.5/10.

Clint: Movie 3: Netflix: 2.4/5 stars. IMDB: 5/10.
Carolyn: Movie 3: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10.

The native public rating for these 3 movies are: IMDB: 7.5/10, 8.0/10, 8.0/10 (which is totally fucked up, as the first is the best–but some of these only have 40 or so votes); Netflix: 3.3/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.0/5 stars).

RECOMMENDATION: Watch the first movie, skip the rest. If you really liked the first movie, watch the second. Ignore the 3rd, unless you’re really in love with the Eve character (and even then, you will probably be disappointed) (but watch the ADV dub to get the full, un-cut version with 30-40 extra minutes).

SIMILAR MOVIES: The Matrix (barely though).

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: EdSquid recommended this to us, and felt similarly. 1-2 good, 3 not so good. He couldn’t fully pay attention to 3 either. He did mention he liked the animation and character desgins in 2. (more…)

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 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] [Like on Facebook] [Official site] Recommended by my Dad.

PLOT SUMMARY: What if a man from the Upper Paleolithic had survived until the present day? A retiring scholar tries to convince his colleagues that he is a 14,000 year old immortal cave man.

PEOPLE: Written by Jerome Bixby, who wrote 4 Star Trek (original) episodes, including the mirror universe where everyone has a beard, and the episode about a 6,000 year old man; a similar premise to this movie in some ways. He also wrote one Twilight Zone ep (from the original series) — anyone who has ever feared being “wished away to the cornfield” knows what I’m talking about. It was important enough that The Simpsons parodied it in Treehouse Of Horror II. “It’s real good that you done that.” About all he’s done since then is the 3rd segment of the 1983 Twilight Zone movie, 1 ep in the 2003 Twilight Zone series … And this movie. This is likely because he he died in 1998, and as a corpse is unable to keep writing. This was his last work before his death.

Only a few actors in this movie. Main character John Oldman (get it? old man) is David Lee Smith (Walter from Fight Club, Zodiac, CSI:Miami). Main skeptic is William Katt (The Greatest American Hero!!!), who plays a creepy teacher who’s dating a student way too young for him (Alexis Thorpe, who was in American Pie 3:American Wedding, 1 ep of Nip/Tuck, and 238 eps of Days Of Our Lives). Token black guy is Tony Todd (The Candyman from Candyman 1-2, Rev. Zombie from Hatchet 1-2, Final Destination 1-5, 7 eps of Star Trek Voyager/TNG/DS9), who plays a really mellow and open-minded, easy-going guy (often the voice of reason in this movie). Christian skeptic is Ellen Crawford (Nurse Lydia Wright from 113 eps of E.R.). John Oldman’s girlfriend is Annika Peterson (Shannon O’Reilly from 2 eps of Oz). The irrational shrink is Richard Riehle — who totally reminds me of the “I’ll make your bub-bubs bounce” / “this is what I do, I sit on you” guy. He was in Office Space, Smiley Face, Beach Party At The Threshold Of Hell, Hatchet, Palindromes (yuck), Deuce Bigalow:Male Gigolo, was the principle in the Ferris Bueller TV series (what lost out to Parker Lewis Can’t Lose), and in general has a ton of small roles; he was almost Cliff Claven in Cheers. We also have John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox from 98 eps of Star Trek:Enterprise, 2012, Michael Lathan from 3 eps of 24 Season 7, Mike Spencer from True Blood).

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Jesus, incapable of loving his girlfriend, abandons all his friends…AGAIN!

QUIRKS: Talking. All talking. This whole movie is basically a bunch of people in one room talking. A Melvin Goes To Dinner type thing. Incredible dialogue covering history, religion, biology, and more.

VISUALS: Shot with camcorders. Makes it look more like an 80’s film than a 2007 film.

SOUNDTRACK: Not really.

MORALS: A crazy enough truth will force you to lie. Telling the wrong truth will cause society to turn against you, even if it’s true.

POLITICS: Religion is bullshit.

Also, the producer thanked the bittorrent pirates for raising the profile of this film and ultimately making it money!

GOOD STUFF: Incredible dialogue!! What a concept! Thought provoking! Interesting simply by the words; this could easily work as a text-only story as well.

BAD STUFF: No action, no explosions, no special effects. This is dry sci fi. I don’t mind the change of pace, but the lack of real excitement beyond the dialogue is perhaps what kept me from giving it a full 5 stars.

CONCLUSION: A very thought-provoking, completely conversation-driven movie about an immortal man, and the extreme implications of his immortality. It’s rare to have a movie that is COMPLETELY conversation — 8 people in a room just talking for 90 minutes. No sex. No CGI. No explosions. It’s even rarer for such a movie to not be at all boring (though SOME would be bored by this; Michael Bay is necessary). If you like older sci-fi — this is a good movie much in the vein of older, less production-driven sci-fi. They even shot it with camcorders so it looks more like a 1980’s movie, even though it was made in 2007. Good stuff.

RATINGS:
Clint: Netflix: 4.4/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 8.0/10 (rather high for IMDB), Netflix: 3.5/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 4/5 stars).

RECOMMENDATION: Some Christians get offended at this. GFY!

SIMILAR MOVIES: Hard to say!

MOVIE QUOTE: This movie is full of good dialogue, but it’s not very quotable. It’s all good because of the context of the discussion/situation; the lines don’t really stand alone as strong quotes, per se.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Dad liked it enough to recommend it to me as something I’d like.

OTHER REVIEWS: 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.

(more…)

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