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Burn Notice (2007–2013)
this show has style
24 August 2007
I saw the previews for Burn Notice, and didn't think I'd like it. The main character struck me as wooden, and I didn't see anything terribly appealing. Shame on whoever built those previews - this show is fantastic. I'm so glad I finally watched it.

The thing Burn Notice has going for it most of all is style. I find that subtitles introducing characters and voice-over narration to usually be weak exposition devices, but in this show, they time these devices perfectly and can usually get a good laugh out of me. The pace is fast, and yet the writing is rock solid and it's easy to keep up with the story. And the Miami setting is quite sexy.

Jeffrey Donovan is far from wooden, as I first thought. He shows his versatility when his character takes on an undercover role, and while his character is the poker-faced sort, he expresses emotion with perfect subtlety. Gabrielle Anwar is way too skinny, but otherwise is a joy to watch. She seems to get cuter every episode. And Bruce Campbell will always be a favorite.

The plots are nice and tight, and each episode is more or less self-contained so one doesn't need to worry about missing a week, which I like. The show handles moral issues without getting preachy ala Law & Order, which I appreciate.

Each episode so far has left me hungry for the next, and that's what a good TV show should do.
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1408 (2007)
what horror should be
25 June 2007
This is the best scary movie I have ever seen. The simplicity of the premise helps it avoid any of the traps other movies fall into when they try to explain the supernatural events. Samuel L. Jackson has a line that sums the beauty of this movie quite well. It's something like: "I didn't say anything about phantoms... It's an evil f*cking room." That's it. That's the premise. A guy who doesn't believe in spooks, to use the Tin Man's phrase, goes into this evil f*cking room, and the evil f*cking room messes with his head. There isn't a reliance on gore or phobias - this movie is universally scary.

John Cusak is phenomenal. He makes you forget that it's supposed to be boring to watch one guy in one room for a full hour. Every second of the deterioration of his sanity is captivating.

As the movie approached the finish, I thought about all the possible endings that would ruin the movie. It toyed with each one of them before settling on the ultimately satisfying conclusion, perhaps poking fun at the trite endings of so many other promising horror flicks. This movie came out of nowhere and amazed me.
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Ricochet (1991)
cliché-ridden spectacle
3 May 2007
This movie gets worse with every passing minute. I was really excited to see John Lithgow playing a villain, and some guy named Denzel was in it too. The main problem with this film is that it tries too hard to establish Denzel as good and Lithgow as evil, and both end up as simply unlikeable characters.

Lithgow is so evil that there's nothing to sympathize with. He kills without remorse, gets in with the Aryan brotherhood, and while diabolical, he isn't even that smart. His plots are simplistic, and only work because everyone else is pretty dense too.

Washington is so good that there's nothing to sympathize with. His only flaw is a righteous cockiness, which he earns by having never done anything wrong in his life. Normally, when we see this sort of character in a movie, at some point he has to make a choice between the lesser of two evils and do something commonly perceived as "wrong." Not the case here. Any "wrong" he does is beyond his control.

As for the ending, you've seen it a million times in different movies. So don't hold your breath.
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almost as good as watching 6 episodes of the show
16 April 2007
I saw this in a packed theater full of ATHF fans, which was great. The intro alone (which I won't spoil) was amazing - I'm not much of an out-loud-laugher and I was laughing so hard I was out of breath. They kept the momentum going with some great fun with subtitles.

The first half of the movie was hilarious all over the place. The only problem began when they actually got the plot moving. ATHF is not about plot, and when too much plot happens, the hilarious non-sequiturs go away. Also, the plot involved incapacitating Carl for far too long, and he's such a great character that I wanted to see more of him.

If you're not familiar with the TV series, it's not necessary to watch it first. Sure, you won't know anything about the characters going into it, but the movie tells you everything you need to know about them anyway. The thing to understand is that nothing from past episodes affects the characters in the movie, and vice versa, just like most other animated comedies but more so (not even death is permanent).

All in all, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters is a hilariously fun time, and it's a shame theaters didn't show it in enough places.
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don't let "action" shelf fool you - this is a comedy
27 March 2007
My enjoyment of the early scenes in this movie was ruined by the fact that I was expecting an action flick. Once I figured out that this is a comedy, and that the fights were intentionally clumsy, I liked it a lot more. I imagine that with a comprehensive knowledge of French history it would have been a lot funnier. But there are many joking references to Dumas' original story about the Musketeers, and the physical humor transcends culture, as does the archetype of the romantic poet who's hopeless in a fight. Every character in the movie is in some way incompetent, which provides the bulk of the humor. The Musketeers suffer from large egos and denial about the limits of their old age. Several characters suffer from paranoia, and some from delusions of grandeur. I imagine a French historian would love the portrayal of Louis XIV as a chubby self-indulgent teenager who can't make decisions for himself. The humor and the plot are both driven by these characters who get better and better as the movie goes on.

This movie isn't perfect, however. My biggest issue with the film is that I can't figure out how D'Artagnan could have aged so much faster than his fellow musketeers. Athos and Porthos seem to be in their mid-fifties, whereas D'Artagnan can't be less than seventy. The subtitles are a little silly, especially the exclamations, and I wonder if it was intentional. "Merde" is translated as "turds," and phrases like "'Od's bodkins!" and "Zounds!" run rampant.

Still, the movie was thoroughly enjoyable, Sophie Marceau is captivating as well as funny, and this film made for a fun evening. Just remember: it's a historical farce, not an action flick.
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Character Development......?
28 May 2006
The change in director for this movie was clear from the beginning. Brett Ratner did a great job with the action, pacing, and special effects, but the emotion and character depth emphasized in Bryan Singer's X-Men and X-2 were absent, which is what made this film fall short of its predecessors. The biggest case of this is Halle Berry, who allegedly only agreed to do this film if her character were developed more.

Note to Halle Berry: more screen time does not mean character development. Seeing more of her merely led to further revelation of the flatness of Storm's character. She is sad about all the sad things, and always does the "right thing." There is no conflict in her life. There is one moment where she appears to be in conflict (can't spoil what the moment is), but there is no reason given that she wouldn't choose the obvious course of action.

The other characters' levels of emotion and personal conflict take a hit too. The depth of newcomer the Juggernaut's character can be summed up by this line: "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch." Wolverine is usually a very conflicted character, but we don't see nearly as much of his personal journey as in previous movies. When characters get into high-stakes conflicts (Ice Man and Pyro, Prof. X and Magneto, Angel and his father, and so on), they say words, but there isn't much emotion behind them. Actions happen, but the high stakes seem extremely artificial. There were laughs throughout the theater in the supposed "tender" moments.

And most disappointing of all, Nightcrawler isn't in this movie. Apparently there were already too many blue characters. 20th Century Fox should have waited until Singer was done with Superman.
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