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Rating History

Black Hollywood: Blaxploitation and Advancing an Independent Black Cinema
11 days ago via Flixster
½

This documentary, upon its release in 1984, was something important. It still carries some weight and importance now, but its power has diminshed due to being dated and of its time. It brings to light some important issues that were mostly only addressed in academic circles. This brings the talk to a wider audience.

Besides being outdated, the real issues here lie with being very limited with what is discussed, how it is treated, and who is involved. It would have been great to get more people involved such as Melvin Van Peebles and Gordon Parks, Sr. This isn't just about blaxploitation, but tries to provide an overview of black entertainment through time. Having the involvemnet of scholars would have been nice too. Also, this just addresses a lot of things, but doesn't do enough to really provide answers and solutions.

I'm giving this decent marks though because it is thought provoking and entertaining, even if it just glosses over many things.

Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
2 years ago via Flixster

This is the Americanized version of the original Godzilla film. While not a terrible piece of cinematic entertainment, I felt rather let down, and suspect (since I haven't actually seen it) that the Japanese original (which came out two years before this one) is probably far better.

The story (if you need to know it), concerns a giant reptiallian creature who emerges from the sea surrounding Japan and raises all manner of hell and devastation. In this version, it's told in a documenatry style format and is presented from the view of an American journalist in Japan named Steve Martin. He was only passing through Japan for some fun while headed to Cairo for business, but gets stuck there after the giant monster starts attacking.

I kinda liked the format here, though research tells me that the big differences between this version and the original is that this one takes footage from the original and splices new footage of Raymond Burr as Steve Martin into it. Also, this version is shorter and a bit more PC as a way of making it more watered down for American audiences. The biggest changes being dubbing it into English, and removing all references to the atomic attacks at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the firebombing of Tokyo. Okay, so maybe at the time people worried about appeasing WWII veterans, so they removed some material to ease the guilt or whatever.

I don't like that because I've always found Godzilla to be fascinating because it's about the byproducts of nuclear horror from a country who experienced actual nuclear horror and devastation firsthand. Removing the references and showing Japan struggling in the aftermath of a huge disaster (but at the hands of a fictional monster) lessens some of the emotional impact, as well as the effects of history on the public conscience.

All that scholarly rambling aside, this is still an okay movie though, like I said, the original version is probably far better. Unlike some of the later films though, this one comes off as far more scary and serious, with a more somber tone, aided by the grainy black and white cinematogrpahy and dramatic music.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
2 years ago via Flixster
½

This adaptation of Harry Potter's 5th year at Hogwarts marked the start of David Yates's tenure as director for this series, and it's a position he'd have for the rest of this epic story's duration. It's also the second shortest film in the series, which is a troubling thing considering it is based on the longest of the books.

Things are starting to get real, and really series for Harry following the events of the previous outing. The wizarding world is in a curious state about the return of Voldemort, with a lot of people torn about whether it's really going on or not.

As a result, Harry finds himself in a difficult spot as he struggles to deal with these problems, as well as the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. As the bureaucratic powers that be begin to crackdown on growing suspicions about the return of Voldemort, Harry and his loyal friends start taking matters into their own hands, knowing that it's pretty much the only way to get anything accomplished, despite all the risks involved.

This is a bit of a tough one for the series. As I said, this film is the second shortest, and it's based on the longest book. Unfortunately that means that the film is an extremely streamlined adaptation, with few of the subplots, and a fair amount of condensing of the main story. It also continues the tradition of having a darker tone, though there are still some lighter moments and fun things, though not a nice blend of menace and whimsy like previous entries accomplished.

The core cast return and continue to get better and better. New additions like Helena Bonham Carter and Imelda Staunton are fantastic additions, and make for some gloriously scene stealing villains that are an absolute joy to watch. The music, though not done by Williams, is decent, though I wish they could have stuck more with the type of scores from other films.

The cinematography however, is something I really don't have any complaints with. It's moody, atmospheric, and gets the job done nicely. I think that Yates is a bit wobbly here at times, but can't get too mad as this was his first crack at the series.

All in all, this is a decent movie, but it could and should have been far better. Honestly, as much as I enjoyed the book, I'm not sue it needed to be as long as it was. That being said though, I can understand why this film had to get some things, though I wished they could have done a better job at selecting what to keep and what to toss.

I should probably hate on this film a little more, but I find that a little hard to do. I mean yeah, it's flawed, but it's also part of an already ambitious series, and it does get a fair amount of stuff right, so I'll let it slide with the slightest possible 3.5/5 possible.

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day
2 years ago via Flixster
½

Roughly a decade or so after the courtroom slaying of crime boss Papa Joe Yakavetta, the MacManus Brothers and their dad are living quiet lives as shepherds in Ireland. When a Boston priest is killed in the trademark style of execution used by the Saints, the boys come out of hiding to set things right. The film also goes more into the past of Il Duce. And, as you might imagine, the two plot threads are connected in some way.

It was great to see the boys back in action, but this one was a big step down. On paper, the concept is cool, but the execution of it is where things falter. The film takes all of what was both good (and bad) about the first, and cranks it up to maximum. In a lot of ways, it feels basically like the first one all over again, only with more money and far more excess.

There's not much of the charm from the first one here, things feel like they're coasting on fumes, and the humor, while occasionally funny, mostly falls flat and feels tired. The acting and the action are quite ridiculous and over the top, but these things can, depending on your pov, either add to the fun, or add to the tedium. I mostly enjoyed the action, and think this is the film's strongest point. The performances are...okay. Like I said, it's the first movie, but on steroids. Flannery and Reedus are good, as is Connolly, but, as much as I like Clifton Collins Jr. I think he went way too over the top here. It was nice to see Judd Nelson come out of wherever he's been, but even he gets a little too off the rails at times.

I think this film is probably best enjoyed if you watch it hammered, but that's just me. I'm glad they finally made it, and, though I have my reservations, I do want to eventually get a third film to cap things off. However, I hope that if a third one gets made, that they cut out the excess, beef up the story, and deliver something truly compelling instead of just half-assing it.

The Boondock Saints
2 years ago via Flixster

Two Irish Catholic fraternal twin brothers, inspired by the divine, embark on a mission of bloodshed throughout Boston's criminal underworld as a flamboyant government agent tries to apprehend them while simultaneously taking their side in the stylish, memorable, and wildly entertaining cult favorite.

Oh man, how times (or at least me) have changed. When I first saw this, I was blown away. I thought it was an amazing work of art and it proved pretty influential to my life, at least for a while. Now, after revisiting it nearly a decade after first seeing it, I find myself more critical, less impressed, and having a more nuanced reaction.

The MacManus Brothers seem like vigilantes who only go after serious sinners, but no, they're not true vigilantes. If anything, they're more like psychotic religious zealots who go on serial killeresque rampages. Sure, they're doing good, but, when you really think about it, they're pretty messed up guys themselves.

I still like the religious elements, and the questions of morality and moral ambiguity, but, while I generally like antiheroes, this is a case where the moral ambiguity kinda makes me feel uncomfortable, and it disturbs me some. However, since the film is really idiosyncratic, stylish, and super cool, I can't hate on it too much, as it is entertaining. Yeah, it's pretty derivative, and maybe tries a bit too hard, but I think it still kinda works, even if it is messy, and has become ridiculously popular.

Yeah, I'm complaining, but I'm still giving this a pretty high rating because, well, it is fun, it is entertaining, it does raise good questions and makes you think about things, and well, I dunno. It just has this odd appeal to it. Plus, the casting and acting (namely Dafoe, Flannery, Reedus, and Connolly) are solid, and, when the film works, it works well. Yeah, sometimes it goes a little overboard, but it mostly holds it all in.

Bottom line: see this thing already. I know it's become a cliche to love this movie, and I admit to blindly going nuts for it, but I have since matured, and, while I know it has a lot of problems, it's still a good movie. Plus, sentimentality is a bitch. I can't hate on something too hard that helped shaped who I've become.