Movie reviews

MOVIE REVIEW: Avatar

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Ok, so here goes – let’s just dive in and get the painful part of this review over with right up front and then spend some time on meaningless rambling and thoughts. Avatar, the movie, was much, much better than I expected – surprisingly so, but still not the masterpiece that you would expect or possibly hope based on the intense amount of effort and money that has been put into it. Why is that the painful part? Well… because I was hoping for a disaster of monumental proportions that I could make fun of endlessly and think back on in my old age fondly as the height of Hollywood overindulgence.

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TV MOVIE REVIEW: “Ben 10: Alien Swarm” (2009)

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About three years back, the original “Ben 10” series was drawing to a close, and Cartoon Network decided on the rather odd choice of doing a live-action TV Movie, just to see if there was any interest in that sort of thing. Curiouser still, CN maintained that the movie was actually ‘canon’ - that is, that it was actually part of the continuity of the long-running series that had just ended.

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TV MOVIE REVIEW: “The Ravagers” (1970)

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The story that led to this TV Movie is long, twisted, and rambling, and at the end there’s precious little payoff to make it all worthwhile, but perhaps there’s a lesson in that. It was originally conceived of as two separate projects back around 1967, when the Dean Martin Matt Helm franchise was going strong and the unexpectedly-well-received Frank Sinatra Tony Rome movies were just getting off the ground. In a nutshell, the great minds behind these pictures thought “Hey, let’s do a crossover picture where Helm meets Rome!

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MOVIE REVIEW: “The Wrecking Crew” (1969)

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…And so, my friends, Matt Helm Month (Previously known as “August”) comes to a close with our review of “The Wrecking Crew,” the final film in the series. I have to confess, I’m spent. The movies have worn me down. I’m not sure why, but they’re difficult and laborious to review, and I frequently have to re-watch portions of them to keep track of sometimes-incoherent plot twists and what have you, even in the later, more competent films in the series. Here at the end, the producers seem kind of worn out, too.

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MOVIE REVIEW: “The Ambushers” (1967)

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The Smarm Is Back! Cheeze, too. It’s quite odd - two weeks ago I said the first film was like a home movie shot in Hugh Heffner’s basement. The second one was a vast improvement, and far less embarrassing all around, and you’d think the producers would want to continue on from where the standard the second film made, but no. Perhaps they were put off by the thought of a nearly-monogamous Matt Helm? Who can tell. The bottom line is that less than four months after the release of “Murderer’s Row” and only about nine months after “The Silencers,” the third Matt Helm movie was released.

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MOVIE REVIEW: “Murderer’s Row” (1966)

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Ok, last week’s review of “The Silencers” was a bit of a ramble, so let’s see if I can stay a bit more focused this time out. “Murderer’s Row” was the second movie in the Matt Helm series, released barely ten months after the first film, and in the same year. They really cranked ‘em out in the sixties.

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MOVIE REVIEW: “Treasure Planet” (2002)

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Widely derided and almost deliberately overlooked during its initial release in 2002, no one ever bothers to mention that Treasure Planet is the last Disney movie - ever - to actually provoke an honest emotional response out of its audience that wasn’t cloying or filled with treacle. (Not counting Pixar, of course.) While the movie unquestionably has its problems, it manages to offset these by hitting some sporadic highs that are better than anything The Mouse had attempted in thirty years or more.

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REVIEWS: MOVIE REVIEWS: “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” (2009)

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There’s been a lot of punditry in the last few weeks - in my opinion, utterly pointless punditry, and counterproductive at that - taking umbrage at the idea that the version of G.I. Joe being depicted in this movie is an international force, and not the all-American team they remember from their youths.

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MOVIE REVIEW: “The Silencers” (1966)

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Man, did this movie employ every stripper in the Los Angeles, or what? Seriously, the amount of barely-concealed T&A in this movie is astounding. I mean, the title sequence *alone* has not one, but three stripteases, and though there’s a lot of nekked ladies on screen, the naughty bits are always obscured in some way or another. While I appreciate the strategic requirements of that technique when people go to the trouble of doing it - like that Love, American Style episode that takes place entirely in a city of nudists - it does kind of begin to wear you down after a bit.

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MOVIE REVIEW: “Journey to the Far Side of the Sun” (1969)

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I woke up this morning in a vaguely Derek Meddings mood, and wanted to watch something he was involved in. The only thing I had on hand was a copy of “Journey to the Far Side of the Sun”, also known in some markets as “Doppelganger,” so I decided to re-watch that. Of course I’ve seen it a zillion times - this is the kind of B-movie that was late-night gold when I was growing up. Shown infrequently at 3AM on Cable, it’s just a near-perfect example of what’s good and what’s bad about ‘60s SF movies

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