With great acting, pacing, suspense and only a mild case of sentimental mush, Apollo 13 has all thrusters working from start to finish. Its not pro-this or anti-that to any great degree but recounts in Hollywood fashion the accident and near disaster of Apollo 13. If Ron Howard ever gets on a diet of no sap he'd be a great director, but he doesn't lay it on very thick here.
This was the IMAX version on the 2 disc Anniversary set. The theatrical release is on the other disc and is about 30 minutes longer. I didn't watch that one as the IMAX flavor has a DTS soundtrack making it the obvious choice for me. I didn't notice anything missing. Extras have a lot of historical footage and commentary by astronauts, especially by James Lovell the Apollo 13 commander. It looked and sounded spectacular. This is a movie made for the big screen, and the DVDs get a 9/10.
This is a mildy interesting docu that occasionally comes up with something interesting about the Spartans of the Classical Greece period. Bettany Hughes narrates and adds some color to the otherwise static shots of Greek ruins and battle sites. A major problem with doing anything lengthy about the Spartans is they left virtually no written materials, relatively few artifacts and not much else. So a lot of what we know about them was written by their enemies, such as classical Athens, Sparta's principal rival. The docu doesn't exactly say it but it has a lot to do with why it spends a fair amount of time talking about Athens and not Sparta.
What is well-known is that Sparta aspired to the perfect state through a system of breeding the perfect warrior. Most remembered and immortalized for the 300 Spartans' defense at Thermopylai, for a time they were the class act on the battlefields of old, their matchless discipline much admired by later civs who cherry-picked elements of the Spartan philosophy. Spartan women had far more freedom and influence than females in any other classical civ. That Sparta also had a crude eugenics program via a particularly ruthless form of infanticide, roaming terror squads that killed anyone remotely an enemy of the state, and enslaved fellow Greeks to free themselves of labor are less admirable elements of their extreme culture. After a long decline, they never recovered after they lost their slave-based economy.
The production is pretty low budget with a camera following Hughes in her funky vehicle, with a little drama added with some reenactors marching around as Greek hoplites. I always thought their helmets were cool :cool: Anyone needing an Antiquity fix or in need some elective CEU's you could do worse. Its' all 4:3 and mono.
I caught this as a new release in '03 but then got off the track. It came back to me as I watched the whole miniseries on DVD. Anyone who remembers the old short-lived Battlestar series will know the story and character names, but that's about it. The modern version is much darker and adult, thank the gods.
There is some tribute here and there to the original series; a little bit of its theme song plays, and the original Cylons, updated to passably good effects, make an appearance. I always thought they were cool with the cycling red 'eye'. Modern Cylons look human and are impossible to detect, an extreme convenience when it comes to makeup.
The most exotic of these 'humanoid Cylons' is Number 6 (Tricia Helfer). Helfer is supermodel grade and actually has some kind of Supermodel award. Fortunately she's has some acting ability. Also it doesn't hurt that she has a great skimpy/sexy wardrobe to go with some bold sexual scenes with Dr. Baltar (James Callis). Dr. Baltar is guilty of a terrible thing, and reminds me of no one else so much as Dr. Smith from the ancient Lost in Space series, with lots of sex added. He has the same strength of character; none at all.
The foundation is well laid in the miniseries, with strong acting by James Olmos and Mary McDonnell who form an uneasy alliance getting the remnants of humanity out of the solar system. Once the shock of a female Starbucks wears off and a solid Adama appears, I'm ready to watch the 1st season!
This isn't your father's Disney. The original Disney franchise players now reside in the Land Where Everyone is Nice, preschool toons rendered in kiddie-grade Pixarish 3D. Mickey always was a little wimpy but even Donald has been completely Dippified with the Evil Daisy Duck pussywhipping him at every opportunity. He was a WWII hero for chrissakes, selling War Bonds to defeat Der Fuhrer. Goofy, who was in some very funny sports cartoons (usually a whole bunch of Goofys vs. a bunch of other Goofys), has become a caricature of himself and his goofiness has been choreographed without a shred of humor. Huey Dewey & Louie can't stay conniving for more than 30 seconds without guilt spoiling it all, while Pluto would be better off on Animal Control's 3 Day Plan. Its not pretty, what they've done to these old Toons.
The only way to reclaim my interest after this would be Donald doing his popular 'Who's Your Daddy?' with Daisy sparking his enthusiasm. I'd like to see someone with a duckbill pull that off :eek: They could've made it an Easter egg, being ducks after all. I can give this one a 6 because kids like it. They don't know any better.
[b]The Call of Cthulhu 6.8/10 [/b]A labor of love from the H.P.Lovecraft Historical Society, ...Cthulhu doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. In fact I sat through a sort of docu on making the movie just to hear it pronounced. Only one guy did and he said it real fast, just in case he wasn't saying it right, and he said it while speaking into his armpit. That's how in awe the HPLHS members are of this Lovecraft tale.
Cthulu is worthy of a full review with pics and etc..., but lets just say that it would really help if you know Lovecraft. This was made as a silent movie, possibly because they couldn't stretch the $5.86 budget to get a sound engineer, let alone equipment. That's right, Cthulhu has a budget somewhat less than Bubba Ho Tep. The ship scenes were filmed in someone's backyard, meetings in vacant homes in Burbank, and so on. There's a kernal of goodness in Cthulhu, but its not in production values. Critics love this kind of stuff, but I was less enthusiastic.
[b]Bridge to Terabithia 7.0/10[/b] Fairly typical Disney fare, the blend of reality and fantasy is a little different. Special effects are relatively sparse, though, and there is actually a story to tell. [b] Letters from Iwo Jima 9.4/10 [/b]Iwo Jima might be a 10/10 if I watch it again. Much better than Flags of Our Fathers, the WWII Japanese are allowed to be human now that time brings some perspective. Filmed in the washed out color similar to Flags... it tells the tale of the doomed defenders of Iwo Jima, the first WWII battle in Japanese terrritory. About 5 weeks later, the last of the 22,000 defenders were starving and dying of thirst. Almost all of them died, along with 6,800 Americans in one of the nastiest sustained ground battles ever. Taking Mt. Suribachi wasn't such a big deal, as most of the fighting was yet to come. It just looked good.