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Hawaii Five-0: Ho'apono (2010)
Ho'apono: An update re-make on a classic episode.
This episode felt familiar within the first fifteen minutes. And cementing it within the following five.
A new take of the classic series' first season episode, 'King of the Hill'. With Adam Beach replacing Yaphett Kotto as the damaged warrior in question.
PTSD replaces flash backs and shell shock suffered by Kotto as a Marine returning to Hawaii on leave. Realized in full force in Mr. Beach's performance of a SEAL who comes back from a jog to find his wife, whose sordid past is discovered after Mr. Beach flees onto the USS Missouri and in a panic, takes hostages.
Considering the source material, Ho'apono pans out and is executed quite well. With veteran actor, Robert Loggia as a tour guide and walking map of the battleship. And plenty for the rest of the team to do while McGarrett saves the day.
Masters of Science Fiction (2007)
Nothing I haven't seen before. Executed more sloppily and heavy handedly.
There is a reason why 'Masters of Science Fiction' didn't last a full season when first trotted out on ABC.
There's nothing in the collection of short stories badly translated to television that the original 'Outer Limits' and scant few Sci-Fi oriented episodes of 'Twilight Zone' from the 1960s didn't deliver with infinitely better precision.
'Masters of Science Fiction' more closely resembled the consistently bleak and down beat, over all inferior episodes of the re-vamped 1995 'Outer Limits'.
Though 'Masters of Science Fiction' no doubt boasts better talent and larger budgets. The screen writers, directors and cast should remember that when trying to deliver a 'message'. The subtlety of a feather works far more favorably than bludgeoning with a brick!
Over There (2005)
This show could be SO much better!!!!!
Considering that Steven Bochco was the brains and the muscle behind "Hill Street Blues", I had very high hopes for "Over There".
I was sadly disappointed. Maybe Bochco was looking for the anonymity of Hill Street by focusing on an unidentified Active, Guard or Reserve Unit sent to Iraq. Having been in Active and presently Reserve duty. The idea that no one knows one another's name or nickname within a unit is ludicrous.
Whoever is the "Technical Adviser" to the series hasn't a clue as to distance and interval while approaching an objective. Nor about Convoy Procedures (The vehicle in the lead is to be chased. Slowing down and pulling over is verboten! And in the case of an lamely marked IED actually going off; a Defensive Perimeter is immediately set to protect the stranded vehicle!)
That said, "Over There" is a lamely written and researched re-hash of "Combat!" or "Tour Of Duty". Though "Combat" and "Tour Of Duty" were infinitely better!
As soon as I heard that "Bo" had been a Quaterback in High School, I knew that he would lose a leg through some mishap. I wasn't disappointed.
The "Mosque" that was the squad's objective could have easily have been the Machine Gun Nest/Bunker/Listening Post from "Combat!" An essential, possibly Pyrrhic Victory.
In other words: Nothing really new and very poorly executed!
My suggestion would be to send a team of writers for "Over There" to either Letterman or Walter Reed Army Medical Center and talk to wounded returning soldiers from Iraq. Instead of depending on a hack's imagination!
The Batman (2004)
Meh.... Not Great... Not Terrible: Really Didn't Need To be Done.
I just finished watching the second episode of "The Batman", which featured Bane. The best can be said of the new series is that the set direction has the proper feel for Gotham City.
The first fight between Bane and The Batman showed promise. Until Bane chemically buffed up and trounced The Batman. From there on, the show resembled "Megas XLR". Which precluded the introduction of the "Bat~Bot". From then on the show was in a Flat Spin.
It also took a few minutes to associate the voice of Johnny Rico from the CGI series "Roughnecks" as Bruce Wayne and The Batman. Especially when Kevin Conroy was perfect for both.
Not greatly impressed with this new offering. I'll stick with the superb Paul Dini/Warner Brothers "Batman: The Animated Series".
"Thief": A Completely Clamped Down Crime Film
Okay... Before anyone starts yelling. I've seen "Thief" dozens of times. Fell in love with its Tangerine Dream soundtrack and rainy Chicago night right off the bat. Next came Jim Belushi with his Tech and James Caan with his cool tools.
The baited hook sank deep. The precision and teamwork of the initial heist. Including a wicked camera plunge inside the door of the freshly drilled safe to the locking gear that is deftly "punched" screamed that I wasn't in Kansas anymore. And that this is one superbly crafted pressure cooker of a movie!
The language and dialog jumps back and forth between stilted jail house slang and criminal professionalism. The initial "meet" between Caan and Robert Prosky of Arena Stage fame is not to be missed. Likewise Caan explaining his "dream" to Tuesday Weld in a late night diner.
The build-up to the LA diamond heist is exquisite. With Caan being hassled and "trimmed" by the cops. Finding wiretaps. Sending a Homing Device on a Cross Country Bus ride and effecting his patron, Willie Nelson's early release from prison.
While seeking out his elder teachers for advice on how to enter a vault without drilling or peeling. The payoff is well worth the wait! Are there flaws?... Yes, but like the few lags involving Willie Nelson and creating a family; can be easily overlooked. And made up for in Prosky's final, completely evil warning to Caan once the gauntlet has been thrown down.
I see Michael Mann's "Thief" very much the same way I see Sam Peckinpah's "Major Dundee". Both good stories. Both early attempts at perfecting their art by young directors. Both directed to the best of their abilities at the time. Yet showing great promise for much better, classic works. Namely, "Heat" and "The Wild Bunch".
A very solid 8 out of 10!
A Decade Under the Influence (2003)
An Excellent Film On Films!
The 1970s opened the door to the largest, most diverse era of film in its history. Some films were great ("The Godfather", "The Conversation", "Mean Streets", Chinatown", "The French Connection", "Five Easy Pieces", "Jaws", "McCabe And Mrs. Miller") Others were not so great ("The Getaway", "The Outfit", "Badge 373", "Joe", "The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three", "Brewster McCloud", "Castle Keep") And others were barely worth the price of admission.
Yet every one was a fresh breath of air compared to today's Corporate Hollywood. Where every film is given a Big Weekend to recoup its cost. Or go straight to HBO and rental.
What "Decade" does so well is to relate the sudden and rarely experienced sensation of freedom to be given money to make and direct a film. Perhaps personal. Perhaps not. Sometime with a clutch of extras. Sometimes, in the middle of a busy street before the cops show up. Long before the Corporate Overseers, Suits, Committees and Lawyers ever became part of "The System".
The commentaries are superb. Especially Julie Christie and Dennis Hopper. Though as you listen, you'll slowly discover just how many Big Directors today (Coppola, Scorsese, Ron Howard, Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdonovitch) got stated as "Roger Corman Commandos". Working long hours with short pay. Shooting a film in under a month. Learning all the steps and tricks of the trade by doing it themselves. Turning in product that was on-time and under-budget.
See "Decade" for its message. And for a long and varied list of films to watch made through those wondrously turbulent years.
Though, I would not complain if IFC decided to devote another documentary solely to that most under-rated Grand Pioneer of film, Roger Corman.
Better Than I Had Expected!
I just finished watching 'Batman: The Mystery Of The Batwoman' on Cartoon Network, and was very pleasantly surprised! The franchise hasn't strayed from the Original's concept of telling a story well while keeping the tension going. 'Mystery' is every bit as good as the first 'World's Finest', that featured Batman and Superman fighting the Joker and Lex Luthor!
The artwork, detail and sense of era (Love the 1940s Architecture and cars!) are splendid. The characters, solid. Especially Carlton and Katherine Duquenes. The plot, fairly straightforward. And the mystery and mystique of Batwoman is well kept.
There's just enough action. Right where it is supposed to be. Bane makes a surprising and admirable appearance. Though his voice really should be Ricardo Montalban's. The Penguin is just as slippery, sly, and cowardly as ever.
It's also nice to see Bruce Wayne having a little fun, without the Cape and Cowl.
Big explosions. Cool Mini-Jets. Huge cliffhanger ending.
What more could you want?
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
A Great, Little Known Gem!
There are 'Cop films'. 'Buddy' films and 'Partner' films. This one is definitely in the 'Partner' category. With the same kind of magic that Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider shared in Freidken's 'The French Connection'... I just picked up and watched 'To Live And Die In L.A.' on DVD and had my socks knocked off for the umpteenth time!... Those expecting a standard, cookie cutter 'Cops & Robbers' film should go elsewhere. Friedken pulled out all the stops on this one! Taking a small budget and a clutch of then No-Name actors. Planting them in the sections of L.A. no one ever sees. And allowed them free rein to improvise, romp and play. And then, create some of their best work!.. William Petersen plays Secret Service Agent Rick Chance. Who hunts Artists/Conterfeiter/Con, Eric Masters. Played with clever, evil glee by Willem Dafoe, with a passion just short of Psychosis... The segments showing Dafoe making 'Funny Money' are as detailed and astounding as the scenes of him violently tidying up loose ends!... Toss in great location shots. A few startling chases. And a 'conscience' for Petersen, played by John Pankow as John Vukovich. A three-piece, by-the-book agent. Who follows his partner through the Counterfiet World of assorted crime, mayhem, and dirty deals. Into Dante's Inferno. Only to fully evolve in the last fifteen minutes of the film. That must be seen to believe!...
Extreme Prejudice (1987)
Nick Nolte Kicks Ass!!!
Walter Hill and John Milius tackle the modern day Western in 'Extreme Prejudice'. A fast moving, Drugs Across the Border film that requires some attention to detail. With Nick Nolte delivering the goods as a strong, silent, second generation Texas Ranger opposite an equally powerful Powers Booth as a well connected, possibly undercover Kingpin who had grown up with Nolte... Enter a team of Black Ops GIs led by Michael Ironside and the always underrated Clancy Brown. Stir in the odd bank heist. Great Lines. Lies on top of lies. Lots of guns. William Forsythe as a totally dedicated borderline psycho. Rip Torn as Nolte's shoot from the hip Mentor. Even more guns. And a final Shoot 'Em Up to rival 'The Wild Bunch'. Put it all together, and you have a memorable, cast driven classic 'Guy Flick'!