Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

December 12, 2012


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This review contains major SPOILERS, so be warned. Actually, there are so many spoilers here that you don’t even have to go see the movie. Aren’t you grateful? you should really send half of the ten bucks you saved to me, to thank me…you’re welcome.

Firstly, let me say that this movie violates one of Otter’s most important Principles of Movie Stupidity. No, not “The least obvious guy is the one who committed the murder(s)”. Not even “If something scary is killing people, don’t go off alone looking for it”. Or “Don’t wear a red shirt in any Star Trek episode”. No, the important principle that makes me scream every time a moviemaker violates it is: NEVER LEAVE AN ENEMY ALIVE BEHIND YOU. Never. Never. Never.

You’d think a Jedi Master would know that one…but of course, that would cause some major plot problems…so let’s come back to that later, and we’ll just get started with shredding this dog.

Now, just to be fair, there were a couple of good things about this movie: best of all, the much hated and reviled Jar Jar Binks was NOWHERE IN EVIDENCE, an omission for which I, at least, was profoundly grateful…even better than seeing him killed horribly was NOT TO SEE HIM AT ALL*.

Ewan MacGregor and Natalie Portman were two more good things about this (although her lines, not to mention her whole part, were among the worst ever, and there was a scathing article in the San Jose Mercury News about that, thanks to La Cuerva for sending it to me…). They were both in there trying to make their lame dialog and unfunny jokes sound as good as possible, and don’t think I didn’t appreciate whatever they could do to help out. I did notice that Samuel L. Jackson, usually a wonderful actor, was just mugging along in this one, but he didn’t really have much of a part…

And of course, the special effects were good. But you know, no matter how many times people try to convince me that a movie is good (or at least worth seeing and enjoying) if the special effects are spectacular, my answer is the same: I would rather see good actors doing Shakespeare on a bare stage in street clothes than bad actors doing it with all the stage, scenery and costuming that money can buy. Same for explodos: if the script isn’t good, and the actors at least decent (hint: don’t hire Keanu Reeves) then no matter how good the special effects are on their own, it’s NOT A GOOD MOVIE. And I don’t care what the box office grosses are.

But I digress.


The Reality Police are ALL OVER this one, but I didn’t want my review to look like it had blue measles, so this is my token symbol for all the stupidity that follows. And there’s a lot of stupidity, so brace yourself.

From the opening scene, where Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen are zooming in with their little scooters, avoiding certain death and destruction, and rescuing Chancellor Palpatine (and is there ONE PERSON on the PLANET who didn’t know he was Darth Sidious? come on, we all figured that out the first time he showed up in Phantom Menace!) it was obvious that nobody had made Hayden Christensen go back to remedial acting school. Damn, McGregor is good looking, and can act, and was doing EVERYTHING HE COULD to make up for his partner’s shortcomings…but no. Hayden Christensen is about the most wooden actor on this planet, and isn’t even as good looking as Keanu Reeves…just a sulky bad boy with no talent. And that carefully curled and styled hair, oh my god. I guess he’s a *STAR* now, huh?

Then the huge ship that they’re on is attacked, because the evil tubercular droid General Greivous (I’m not making this up, he sounded like a pack-a-day man) got away and starts bombing the ship he escaped from, that they are trapped on, to destroy them.

Now, here is one of the problems with making prequels, and it happened OVER and OVER and OVER in this movie, as it did in Attack of the Clones: not much point in trying to destroy the ship that Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader-to-be and the Evil Emperor who is not yet an emperor are in…because EVERYONE IN THE AUDIENCE KNOWS THEY DON’T DIE YET. So where’s the suspense? sure, the special effects were cool, but so what? And of course they had to bring in the Star Trek Fallacy: huge window in the room is broken, outer space on the other side…but no! The people in the room have time to get away! sorry, folks, it’s called explosive decompression for a reason, and even if you do manage to escape in the short time you can actually exist in those conditions, five or eleven seconds, you’ll have serious heart and lung problems, and probably won’t be up for piloting the remaining piece of the huge space ship in to port.

And what was going on there? why on earth would an orbiting deep space vessel have LANDING FLAPS? The ship was obviously never meant to land anywhere…on the other hand, George Lucas is the one who made space ships make noise in outer space, so I guess he can do what he wants.

So fine, all is well, mission accomplished.

Christensen is put on the Jedi Council at the express request of his buddy Chancellor Palpatine. And he’s STILL a whinyboy, he’s STILL sulky and childish and awful. Why didn’t they ship him off to that swamp planet with Yoda like they did Luke Skywalker? Yoda would have knocked that attitude out of him pronto…

Oh, and Natalie Portman shows up, so we also have the love scenes. The article referenced above summed that up nicely, I only have a couple of other comments to make:

  1. If they’re not supposed to be married, and it’s so bad that Padme’s queen will dismiss her from being a senator if it’s found out, why doesn’t anyone bat an eye at the fact that she’s WAY PREGNANT? Getting knocked up by an unknown person is ok, but marrying a putative Jedi Knight isn’t? give me a break. As in the last movie, Portman’s clothing is chosen for looking totally pretty rather than useful…although less revealing, since she’s supposed to be pregnant. Demure, yet sexy. So at one point, she’s wearing a dress with a halter strap, cut low across the top, with three little strands of pearls hanging down across her upper arms on each side. Okay. Not so bad. Then cut to late at night, Christensen gets up out of bed…and she has gone to bed in this confection? No woman would use this for anything but seductionwear, either the pearls would break, or they’d dig into her arms. And she’s pregnant, why on earth would she wear that outfit instead of her comfy old sweats? WHAT were the costumers thinking? were they all men? What a crock.
  2. Portman’s portliness increases and decreases throughout the movie as well, depending on what she has to do at the time…certainly no woman in the eighth month CARRYING TWINS would be sprinting sveltely across the landing pad to confront her husband…she’d be leaning in the doorway of the spaceship, one hand on her lower back, screaming imprecations at him, and hoping she didn’t have to go down that ramp, because she’d never get back up it…and she certainly was nothing like large enough for those two HUGE BABIES to come out of her. Maybe a Jedi womb warp…

But back to what passes for a plot…everything goes wrong, the Emperor sucks out Christensen’s soul (but not his acting ability, since there was none of that there to start with) and Darth Vader is born. And still shows absolutely no emotion. Oh, but his eyes glow wierdly when he’s evil, that’s how you know. But his jedi sword is still blue, I thought the bad guys all had red swords, that’s how you KNOW they’re bad guys, right, like the robots in I, Robot? No, his sword stays blue. Very odd.

Of course there had to be a cute animal sidekick, McGregor got it, a wonderful riding lizard, the only touch of humor in the movie…sigh. And it was a long damn movie, take it from me. But there was one other part I really liked: General Grievous’ little gyroscopic roadster, made me think of the line from Batman, where the Joker stares after Batman, shakes his head, and says, “Where DOES he get his toys?”…it was COOL. Sad when the computer animations are WAY more interesting than the actors…

And that was about the end of cool, for the rest of the movie. Four jedi masters go to confront the evil Chancellor Palpatine, none of them is in the next movie (the REAL Star Wars) so we know they’re toast. Senator Organa shows up, we know he’ll be ok. All the other Jedi Masters are killed, but of course Yoda and Obi Wan survive. And then…the big duel scene!

Yoda (who THOROUGHLY kicks butt in this one, yessirree!) fights the evil Chancellor (now Emperor, I think) Palpatine. Obi Wan fights the newly christened Darth Vader. (who is almost instantly also called Lord Vader, even without official recognition of his rank. Huh?) But the fights. Ho hum. Nobody’s gonna die. Nobody but Darth is gonna be seriously hurt. At this point, we all know EXACTLY what’s going to happen, and the only thing we’re sticking around to see is how Darth Vader gets so thrashed that it’s body suit time for him.

And after a long fight over the lava where they seem to be evenly matched…Darth Vader jumps over Obi Wan at the EXACTLY PERFECT angle to let him cut off one hand (the one he had already lost, luckily) and BOTH LEGS. And then he falls in the ash/lava mix at the edge of the boiling lava lake and yells and writhes a lot. And Obi Wan…turns and walks away? without pushing him in? without shooting him through the head? No light saber to the heart? No, of course not, because HE CAN’T. He has to be UNBELIEVEABLY STUPID (and it was unbelieveable, this is a guy that Obi Wan KNEW killed a bunch of CHILDREN back in the Jedi Temple) because Darth Vader has to live, and everyone IN THE WHOLE WORLD knows it.

And what is this thing Lucas has for cutting off everyone’s hands? It was a great plot point and a huge shock when Luke loses his hand…it was less shocking when it happened to Hayden Christensen in Attack of the Clones, but everyone said, okay, he’s riffing on that movie. Now, in this one, there were at least SEVEN INCIDENTS of people or droids having hands/limbs cut off in battle. Are the choreographers just getting bored? are they tired of finding other things for people to do with light sabers? or do the special effects guys just like doing stumps? By the time it happens to THREE of Christensen’s limbs at the end, it’s kind of like, been there, done that…wierd.

And then…he puts on the suit. And of course his last line in the movie is dubbed by James Earl Jones, the Voice of Darth Vader (jeez, I hope he is getting MEGABUCKS for that, that voice has always been so perfectly scary). And I don’t know how much they modified that big, threatening black costume, and how much of it was just knowing that it was awful Hayden Christensen inside…but he was really not impressive. AS DARTH FRIGGIN’ VADER HIMSELF. Not impressive. And that was the saddest thing of all. Thanks so much, George Lucas, for turning the scariest villain in all of movie history into a SULKING WHINYBOY in our heads. May you burn in hell forever for that one.

Well. Anyway. Of course the twins are born and named and farmed out, and everything is in place for the next/first/best Star Wars movie.

Thank God that’s over. Supposedly Lucas has done the Star Wars thing and will not be making episodes 7, 8, and 9, to which a grateful public can only say Huzzah! and hope that he means it.

*I am informed by my friend and colleague La Cuerva that <retch> Jar Jar Binks</retch> is indeed in the movie, in the last scene, walking behind Padme’s coffin…but at least he NEVER SAYS ANYTHING.

Now my Dragon-In-Law has pointed out that he was actually in THREE SCENES and in one says ‘Excuse me’ when someone pushes by him. Lucas probably had a contract with the poor schmuck who signed on to do Jar Jar that he’d get a speaking role in each movie so he could be paid…but I have to say, I totally blanked him out, there was a Jar Jar Binks sized hole in the screen all three times he showed up, and I am eternally grateful for it.

The Spirit

December 11, 2012


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The Spirit fights his nemesis The Octopus. Ho-hum.

If you haven’t already seen this movie,


This movie is an incredible dog, and the ONLY reason it got one $ was because of the ADORABLE kitten in the middle, and because I think I was actually forced to laugh once by something someone said.

But this movie was UNBELIEVEABLY bad, worse even than Hellboy or Attack of the Clones or even League of Extraordinarily Annoying Gentlemen, if only because it was SO INCREDIBLY BORING.

This was a big budget action movie, the big Christmas release, with Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johanssen. Frank Miller, the graphic novel wunderkind, whose touch is golden, wrote and directed it. And yes, it was unbelieveably boring.

You know, that morning Maid-of-Awesome and I had been emailing about going to see this movie. I found the times at a local theater, one of four owned by the same chain. It’s at the Pruneyard, I emailed her, at 2 or at 3. So she talked to The Boyfriend, and they said they’d meet me at 1:40 for the 2 pm show.

We all got there, and managed to park, and met up. We were amazed there were no lines, two days after it opened. We went to the box office. And found out that I had been wrong, it wasn’t at the Pruneyard, it was downtown. The universe was trying to tell me not to see this movie… but I didn’t listen.

So we had lunch, and took off in our seperate cars for the downtown theater where it was REALLY playing, for the 3 pm show. On the way, I tried to turn the wrong way down a one-way street. And THAT might have been preferable to seeing this stinker. But no. I arrived safely at the theater, and there was STILL NO LINE. Hm, I thought, this does not bode well.

So the movie started. After twenty minutes of staring at the screen numbly, I turned to Maid-of-Awesome and said, Is it me, or is this just really stupid and boring? Stupid and boring, she said, rolling her eyes.

Yes, there were some good cats, and in fact they were the best part of the movie. Nothing was good in this movie except the cats who were (for no explainable reason) the Spirit’s buddies, in that they hung around him, and one ADORABLE fluffy kitten they melted halfway through (to show what a badass Samuel L. Jackson is, since he couldn’t convince us of that with his acting).

This kitten was so adorable it had to be played by THREE kittens (true, check the credits). And going on about how adorable this kitten was would be so preferable to continuing the review…well, I just went all over the web trying to find a picture of that adorable kitten to put here to beguile you, but no luck.* Trust me, it was a beautiful fluffy white adorableness with blue eyes named (in the movie) Muffin. No, you don’t actually see it melt, they get it to drink something and a lot of fog comes up…and the liquid it drank gets bigger…and then there’s almost nothing left…

But I must go back to The Hell That Is My Review. You know any movie where the kitten they melted is infinitely more attractive than any of the humans has big problems. And truthfully, except for the acting, script and camerawork, this one was okay…’nuf sed? Oh, and the STUPID jokes. And all the gross stuff they threw in just to make you go, EEEW. And…

This was so bad that as the credit crawl came up, Maid-of-Awesome raised her mighty middle finger to the screen and as each of the names scrolled by said, **** you. And **** you. And **** you… but you get the picture. It wasn’t pretty. Funny, but not pretty.

So there you have it. Skip it, it truly isn’t worth seeing.

*Two months later, I hit the jackpot. On a website devoted to Frank Miller there’s a posting about the kittens used in the movie, AND A PICTURE. I snagged a copy of the pic, in case the blog posting goes away…and here they are:

Second Chorus

December 8, 2012


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Two trumpet players (Fred Astaire and Burgess Meredith) compete for places in Artie Shaw’s band, as well as for Paulette Goddard.

True suckeroo. This one was so bad that Mr. Otter and I were trying desperately to amuse ourselves by making the L for Loser sign on our foreheads with thumb and index finger extended every time Astaire or Meredith did something stupid. That palled pretty quickly, and then the whining started. But I made Mr. Otter stick around for every tedious minute of it, because I wasn’t going to suffer through it alone.

And am I the only person who finds Burgess Meredith a little scary? He always looks like he’s about to have a psychotic break in the next 10 seconds…really out there.

Totally ludicrous to cast the talented Fred Astaire as a trumpet player (yes, he danced a couple of times, but his fake trumpeting was pathetic, as was Burgess Meredith’s). The plot twists were insipid, the other actors wooden, it was really, really sad.

Run away screaming if you see someone walking toward the dvd player with this puppy in his hand…

Outpost in Morocco

November 9, 2012

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Foreign Legion Captain finds girl. Foreign Legion Captain loses girl. Big fight-to-save-the fort scene. Foreign Legion Captain gets girl back.

OK. I admit it. I’m a French Foreign Legion junkie. And when I saw that had several, and they were really cheap, I jumped for them.

Well, there’s a reason these movies are really cheap, folks, and bringing quality films to the masses isn’t part of it. This was part of the New Year’s Day Videofest 2005 (theme: Deserts) and Mr. Otter, the Squirrel Lady and I settled down to enjoy an amusing romp.

And the cast looked good: George Raft, Marie Windsor and Akim Tamiroff, real Foreign Legion locations, what could be wrong?

Answer: the cast and the script. George Raft, although touted as the ‘almost Bogart’, having turned down several roles that made Bogie famous (like Casablanca and High Sierra) was unbelieveably wooden and awful in this. Marie Windsor was pretty, in an extremely thin sort of way, but there was absolutely no magnetism between them, it was as if each was saying lines to a cardboard cutout…which, in a way, they were.

And I must confess: we just couldn’t finish it. We got about 3/4 of the way through, the fort was about to be attacked, we had been trying to amuse ourselves by msting this awful flick…and finally gave up and went on to the next movie, which was much better.

Ninth Gate

November 8, 2012

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Oh man, what a dog. I actually bought this one, figuring that with a good actor like Depp, and a plot that includes a rare book dealer, I couldn’t go wrong…just goes to show.

Depp is a rare book dealer who gets hired by Frank Langella (used to be a serious honey, now plays faintly menacing characters…but still has a lovely voice) to find the other two copies of a satanic book; one of the three is a fake, but Langella doesn’t know which. Of course, wierd stuff starts happening as soon as Depp walks out of the room with it, and many people are killed. The ending was so completely off the wall that we had to back it up and listen to Roman “Pretentious” Polansky’s commentary track to try to make sense of it…I mean, it was kinda obvious what happened, but not very clear at the same time…but the commentary was no help, it was also not very clear. Anyway, we were left with a profound feeling of “Huh?” mixed with “Is that all?”.

A few good f/x, fires mostly, but not worth sitting through this dog to see.

The New World

November 7, 2012

It’s Pocahontas, duh, but of course Disney has already franchised the heck out of that name, so they had to call it something else, and if they followed the Truth In Advertising laws and called this One Of The Most Boring and Ponderous Movies You’ll Ever See! nobody would have paid ten bucks to go see it.

Sigh. This is a movie not only about a seminal event in American history (or at least a seminal American STORY, since most people don’t really know what actually happened) but what actually happened is really pretty exciting and would make a great movie!

Too bad this wasn’t it.

Sure, the reviews talk a lot about the meaningful and beautiful camerawork, the slow pans over the forest primeval, the lovely and lyrical scenery…but the truth is, the scenery is the best part of this awful and boring movie, it sure isn’t the acting or the script. As Mr. Otter said, it’s pretty painful to actually watch a movie commit suicide before your very eyes…

It’s two and a half hours long. With short bursts of action and dialogue. And long scenes of natural beauty and all that stuff. But it doesn’t really seem like two and a half hours, you know. It was more like EIGHT YEARS by the time we got out of that theatre (except that if that had really been the case, I’d be retiring now…ah well).

This movie was so bad that part way through, Mr. Otter (who had gotten his customary cup of some sort of coffee drink before the movie) leaned over to me and whispered, I don’t think this has ever happened before, but this is a TWO COFFEE MOVIE.

As he got up and left (left me ALONE watching that AWFUL MOVIE all by MYSELF with NOBODY to SHARE THE PAIN) I looked at my watch. There was a WHOLE HOUR left to go…and I confess it. I almost got up and followed Mr. Otter out and said, (in the immortal words of Eric Cartman) screw you guys, I’m going home.

But I didn’t.

I had to sit through the whole rest of the movie.

And it didn’t get any better…

Colin Ferrell may be good looking, but I think they needed to actually wake him up before filming…he was sleepwalking through all his scenes. The actress who played Pocohontas (who, by the way, is never called by that name), Q’Orianka Kilcher, was very good, pretty much the only good thing about the whole movie.

And I’m just not going to waste the space going on about how they could have made it better or how much better and more interesting the real stuff that happened was than the stupid mishmosh they made of it here…because this movie has already sucked two and a half hours out of my life, and it’s not worth wasting more on it.

So go find out for yourself, it’s pretty interesting stuff.

And you’ll have a way better time than you would have had seeing this dog.

Trust the Otter.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

October 2, 2012

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From the graphic novels of the same title by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. Just found out from IMDB that Alan Moore is responsible for From Hell…this man will have a lot to answer for when Ma’at weighs his soul in the underworld…

A bunch of literary characters are gathered together in 1899 to stop an evil plan that will end up causing a world war…never mind that the phrase ‘world war’ (used many times during the movie) is itself anachronistic…World War I was known as the Great War until World War II happened…

Sigh. This was so bad that when Railroad David called in the middle of it, as is his wont, I looked at Mr. Otter and said, tell him it’s good and he should rent it. We cackled evilly, and Mr. Otter proceeded to do just that…but then relented. We just couldn’t go through with it. Not even in retaliation for making us watch the Austin Powers movie…even Sean Connery* (serious honey) is awful in this one.

OK, kids, here we go. Make sure your seat belts are fastened, keep your hands and arms inside at all times, and if you feel ill, for goodness sakes use the bags, ok? that’s what they’re there for…

  1. There are no automatic portable machine guns in 1899.
  2. Ditto tanks, which are from trench warfare in WWI
    • And don’t tell me that they have a bunch of secret advanced scientists coming up with this stuff, it doesn’t work for me.
  3. Allan Quartermain died in the eponymous book that was published in 1887. He was in his late 60s in that one, so even if he hadn’t died, he would have been in his late 70s in 1899…
    • Quartermain had a nice house in London and did not live in Africa, he just went there when he had a guide/hunting job.
    • All the books about him take place in Zulu/Boer territory, NOT Kenya.
    • His son was a doctor and died of smallpox.
  4. Tom Sawyer was a young teenager in the early 1840s…do the math on that and he’d have been in his late 60s as well…the league of geriatric gentlemen…
  5. I was going to rant that Captain Nemo was not an East Indian named Prince Dakkar…and then checked Mysterious Island, which I read far too long ago, and found that indeed he was. OK, my bad…but still, he was (for a guy who went around sinking ships) extremely nonviolent, and wanted nothing to do with other people…why on earth would he hook up with this bunch of wackos?
  6. And his sub. Oh man. Not only unbelieveably large, and even bigger inside than outside, but there is NO WAY it would have gone into the canals in Venice, they’re not very deep at all.
  7. And the car. Sure, they had steam engines and some versions of motorcars then…but AERODYNAMICS AND AUTO BODY STYLING hadn’t been invented.
    • And the horses on the streets (and other pedestrians, for that matter) weren’t freaking out from this car driving by? Be serious. Cars terrified horses at the time, and a lot of people as well. They were seriously scary.
    • Not to mention that people who had never seen a car before were not only driving it, but in a manner worthy of an Indy 500 pro driver…never even stalled out in the turns? and it wasn’t an automatic, they hadn’t been invented yet either. How well did you do the first time you drove a stick shift, even having been instructed in theory and operation?
  8. Carnivale in Venice leads up to Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday…last I heard, Easter is a spring holiday. Why on earth did they move this EXTREMELY FAMOUS CELEBRATION to COMPLETELY THE WRONG MONTH??? JULY? give me a break.
  9. And of COURSE the bad guy is MORIARTY, the most hackneyed and overused villain in the history of literature. Would have at least been more interesting if it had actually been Holmes having had second thoughts about the good guy thing when nearly killed at Reichenbach Falls and masquerading as Moriarty so as to preserve his other identity…but no, that would have been inventive and interesting, can’t do it.
  10. And that whole ‘ ‘league of gentlemen’ but we’re letting a woman in because she’s useful and besides we don’t want to be branded as sexist now do we?’ crap. Why call it that if it’s not? Our word for this kind of thing, chez otter: STOO-PID. Don’t try to overlay modern sensibilities on Victorians, they didn’t have the same priorities we do..

OK, that’s enough, I’ll stop frothing at the mouth. Basically, it’s a pastiche of a bunch of literary characters thrown together with no actual knowledge of when they existed or what they were really like…the only two who were even faintly interesting were Dorian Grey and Tom Sawyer, but even they didn’t engage the viewer any more than the plot…its momentum was maintained by throwing in more explosions every time it slowed down, whether or not it made sense to do so…so far, this is the first movie to get BOTH the Reality Police and the Historical No-Brainer at once…I guess that’s some kind of achievement…

But wait! you say. As a librarian, isn’t Otter thrilled to have all these literary characters brought to the consciousness of a couple of generations’ worth of moviegoers? Isn’t this going to be the same kind of boost for the works of Haggard, Wells, Stoker, Verne, Twain, Stevenson, Wilde and Doyle that Peter Jackson’s wonderful movies have been for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy?

Answer: no. Not on your life, no way, huh-uh, I don’t THINK so, nope.

Firstly, most of the people who saw this movie are not likely to have any idea who these literary characters are (ask any teenager to name the most famous of the Allan Quartermain books or tell you who Captain Nemo is if you doubt me…). Secondly, even if you made a list of the books this movie was taken from, the movie is so different from the books that the reader’s reaction is likely to be…huh? what’s this? this has no explosions or instant gratification or scantily clad vampire women, you mean I have to READ THIS? All these HARD WORDS? With my eyes? use my BRAIN? forget it!

And finally, this movie is so sucky and awful, I can’t imagine anyone being intrigued enough by it to care to go any further.

So please. Just this once, believe me. Take my word for it, this is one to miss. Reread all those wonderful books instead…that’s what I’m gonna do, to take the bad taste out of my brain…

*Favorite quote by a clueless actor: Around the time this movie came out, I remember reading a quote of Connery’s…I think it was in People magazine (yes, Otter reads People, how else can I stay in touch with the pulse of America???) and it was something to the effect that he turned down Gandalf in the Peter Jackson movie, and turned down Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movie, and they both turned out to be big hits, so he was darned well wasn’t going to turn down the Allan Quartermain role in this movie, nosireebob!

Way to go, Sean. We’re all proud of you. Three for three.

John Q

September 28, 2012

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Desperate father of a boy who needs a heart transplant takes hostages in the hospital emergency room.

sigh. There are so many things wrong with this movie. Firstly, it’s one of those preachy movies that was basically made to get the moviegoers involved by showing the evils of the modern medical/hmo/ppo situation. Much rabble rousing is done, with characters pontificating about What’s Wrong With Our Society That Things Like This Happen etc. etc.

Secondly, the characters suck. The actress who played his whiny wife should personally have the writer whipped. What an awful role! Whinging about how he has to do this and that and all the things that are his fault and on and on and on…shut up, bitch, and take some responsibility your own self!

And Denzel. Sigh. Why on earth did he do this? he used to be in good movies…but now he’s a no-account flake who also refuses to take responsibility for his actions, and finally uses violence to try to get what he needs. Totally unworthy, see rant below.

Ann Heche did a fine job as the financial person for the hospital, whose job it is to tell the parents that unless they can pay cash for the transplant their son is going to die; she really showed the division between doing her job, not being able to make exceptions, being tough, and yet still caring about people. She was the only good thing about this movie. Robert Duvall is in it too, but just chews scenery.

Reality police: where do I start? a hospital in DOWNTOWN CHICAGO and the only security they have in emergency is one unarmed clueless rentacop? give me a break. One guy can barracade himself into the emergency room by blocking off two doors and there are no other exits? I seriously doubt it. The hand-picked police sharpshooter misses? hah. But the worst: the hospital GIVES IN to this terrorist? you have got to be kidding. All they had to do was lie to him and tell him his kid’s name was at the top of the list, and disarm him, end of story.

But there is another aspect of this movie that SERIOUSLY pissed me off: terrorism is not an acceptable alternative. It doesn’t matter that it’s his son who is going to die, that he got screwed by his hmo and his workplace, that he couldn’t really have killed anyone because his gun was not loaded, or that he is even willing to kill himself so his son can have his heart (and THAT was seriously silly and melodramatic, you bet!).

Terrorism is terrorism, whatever the reasons or the scale, and it is inexcusable. The biggest flaw in this movie was in presenting John Q as a heroic everyman who is only trying to get a fair deal from a hostile bureaucracy instead of a kissin’ cousin to the people who took out the World Trade Center; the only difference is a matter of scale, and of motive…and I’m willing to bet they thought their motives were just as good as the moviegoers are supposed to think John Q’s motives are.

Even worse, HE GETS AWAY WITH IT. He took on the system, got what he needed and won. Kidnapped about 8 people, held them hostage for hours, and (the viewer is led to believe) will only serve two years in prison. So hey, everyone, if you get pissed off at the workings of government, it’s ok to be a terrorist yourself! as long as you do it for the right reasons, you’re still a good person.

OK, that’s enough. And me a librarian and a supporter of the first amendment and all that. No, I wouldn’t ban the movie, but I sure wish they had made the point somewhere in it that what he did in that movie is COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY WRONG. What a sorry excuse for a film. Skip this one and go see Terminator 2 again instead, much better filmmaking and a way better moral viewpoint.

Haunted Mansion

September 26, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

A real estate salesman and his family get caught in (what else) a haunted mansion and have to figure out how to get rid of the ghosts to escape.

And if I may be permitted to quote myself: “OK, this has got to be the LAMEST idea ever, make a MOVIE about a RIDE at DISNEYLAND? Give me a break! Not to mention that it’s PG, usually the kiss of death for action movies.”

This was what I said about Pirates of the Caribbean, when I saw it last year (that one was actually PG-13, but the principle is the same). And I was so wrong about that one…one of THE best movies ever, an Otter Family Favorite.

But you win some, you lose some…the above quote is absolutely true about this loser. Disney should have stopped while they were ahead.

Yes, Eddie Murphy is really cute here, in the annoying but adorable way an untrained puppy dog is cute. As are his wife and kids, although not as annoying. And I do like Terence Stamp, who was not too bad in this stinker as the elderly ghost butler.

But the plot was lame, and although the special effects were of course excellent, they really really should have spent the money on a better script. There was basically one funny line (no, I won’t quote it, it was the only good thing in the whole movie) and that was it.

Of course, no matter what, they were already locked into the ‘haunted house with all the trimmings’ thing from the get-go, but whose fault is that? I’m just hoping that this is not a continuing trend, and that Country Bear Jamboree is not the next opus to be expected from these people…

(And astute fan GATADD has just sent me this link. Just shoot me. Let me die now. The apocalypse is upon us.)

Watch it if you really must, but don’t pay money for it, and don’t say that Otter didn’t warn you…

Finding Forrester

September 21, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

I have to say right off the bat that Mr. Otter and I started watching this movie and turned it off halfway through, even though we were both looking forward to seeing it. Yes, it does have Sean in it, he is indeed adorable and was very cute and curmudgeonly in this movie. Nonetheless, it sucked.

Famous but alienated writer takes youth on the streets under his wing, teaches him to write, everyone learns a lesson.

For me, it sucked because I hate Catcher in the Rye and the whole Salinger-as-godlike-writer thing- that was one of the MOST boring and pointless books I have ever read, and it pissed me off that the central character was so obviously cast in that mold.

Secondly, Mr. Otter is a writer, and we both know a bit about the craft of writing. Evidently more than the screenwriter…we finally got so disgusted with the stuff they had Sean telling that poor kid about ‘how to write’ that we gave up and turned it off. Skip this one, it’s a dog.