Alpha and Omega – Review

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HalfStar

by Ken B.

Are you over the age of 3? Is your IQ higher than 10 points? Do you hate being insulted? Do you believe in good cinema? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Alpha and Omega will be nothing more than a tedious, witless bore, a crime against CGI.

In the 21st century, computer animation is supposed to be flowing and beautiful. Not here. It’s choppy, jerky, weightless, unprofessional looking, and cheap. Cheap? It was made on only $20 million, far too little for a CGI feature. These kinds of movies cost a lot to produce. I blame Lionsgate for such an error.

What little of an unforgettable sloppy plot here goes like this. Humphrey (voice: JUSTIN LONG) and Kate (voice: HAYDEN PANETTIERE) are two wolves that live near each other. But they’re from strictly different classes. Humphrey is an Omega, Kate is an Alpha. They’re never allowed to socialize, much less have offspring (are we seeing a Romeo & Juliet thing going so far? Because I sure was). Anyway – one day, they’re tranquilized by evil hunters (all hunters in animated films are evil, just look at Bambi) and taken to Idaho, where they meet other eccentric animals and learn something, of course, about the dangers of the strict social classes to begin with.

Let me say it – the plot is stupid and thin. It could have gone somewhere, but it chose to remain stationary and wander around, prowling for nothing. There was weak voice acting (some of the professionals here, like Dennis Hopper and Danny Glover try to savage this, but there was nowhere to begin in the first place). With dreadful pacing, mundane dialogue, and mindless music, I was not even remotely entertained for any of the 90 minutes this movie used up.

This could have been a cuddly, cute movie, had all of the above mentioned weak points been amended. Sadly, no event took place, and it was worthless pain and suffering. Despite what one may think, 6 year old kids aren’t all helplessly stupid… so the follow-up is the inquiry, why are their movies helplessly stupid?

I feel a deep sense of regret to the parents who had to be taken with their kids to whatever local multiplex they saw this at – I can imagine them tearing their hair as this mud puddle dragged slowly through the brain, probably reversing whatever mental development their children had up to that point. Their thoughts must have been unanimous, stumbling out to their cars after the torture had subsided: “I hope they can unfreeze Walt Disney one day, so he can put a stop to all this nonsense.”

P.S.: This was Dennis Hopper’s last credited film prior to his death. What a terrible final entry. And notice the first names of our main characters. They don’t deserve to mention that!

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Skyline – Review

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Eric Balfour’s face began to dissolve in shame when he realized the quality of the film that he starred in.

HalfStar

by Ken B.

Skyline stinks.

It’s a complete waste of time, devoid of entertainment, miserably paced and nightmarishly written (and as a result, poor acting). I urge you not to watch it, and to run far away from any place where it might be viewed. This movie fails catastrophically on nearly every level. There’s really not much more to say. It failed miserably. Did I mention that already?

This movie was directed by Greg & Colin Strause, brothers who collectively are credited as “The Brothers Strause”. That name is so terrible I refuse to dignify them with that. Apparently, they were angry that 20th Century Fox refused them plenty of creative control over Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, and they made this movie to show what happens when they have everything for themselves. If this is any indicator of what they can “accomplish” maybe Fox’s actions were totally justified.

The plot is minimal. In Los Angeles (and many major cities around the world, we’re led to assume), giant robot alien spaceships suddenly descend uponEarth one night, beaming a vivid blue light everywhere. If you stare in it too long, you’re slowly transformed to be captured by the extraterrestrial visitors, and entire cities are destroyed in the fight.

The story is personalized with the introduction of a couple, Jarrod (ERIC BALFOUR) and Elaine (SCOTTIE THOMPSON), who fly to LA to celebrate the birthday of a friend, Terry (DONALD FAISON). And then, the stuff in the paragraph above happens.

Is there a saving grace in Skyline? Yes. One glimmering ray of hope in a sea of sub-mediocrity. The visuals. It must be admitted that the alien spaceships look kind of cool as they descend upon our mortal (3rd) rock (from the sun). It’s lovely to watch.

The script, written by Joshua Cordes and Liam O’Donnell, is terrible. It must be blunt, it’s terrible. We don’t know who these characters are, with the exception of maybe or direct principal characters, are mentioned maybe three or four times maximum, spread out beautifully so we don’t know a thing. There’s so much material in between we can’t figure out anything! There’s no character depth, either. Usually in sci-fi movies, we’re not looking for character depth, but the inherent lack seen here was enough to justify wanting some of it anyway.

The iMDB revealed that Cordes and O’Donnell had never written a screenplay prior to this, and all their other credits went to that of visual effects specialists, on Alien vs. Predator: Requiem no less, the film which sparked this from the oppressive nature Greg & Colin Strause were placed under from 20th Century Fox.

The bad script segues into the bad acting, as I mentioned before. It’s shockingly unmotivated and uninspired, considering the circumstances these characters are plopped in to. The Stanislavski method of acting consists of letting yourself, as an actor, remember with great intensity a situation within your own life which was similar to the one you’re presented with in the project, and running off the fumes of that memory. I will admit it’s sort of hard to do that in an alien invasion movie, but did you see Will Smith in Independence Day? I mean that was pretty good!

Some technical stuff in this movie doesn’t make a lick of sense either. The continuity errors are many and frequent, including a rather telling instance when we notice characters with mustaches that appear and disappear between shots. Everything here is so densely confusing, unexplained, and later, boring, that it’s impossible to enjoy in any way, shape, or form.

At one point in Skyline I wondered if Joshua Cordes and Liam O’Donnell were really real people? It seemed impossible. There’s nothing original here, just a bunch of generic action shots and generic rushed conversations to generic dramatic music.

In the end, don’t watch Skyline. Don’t do it. No. Never. No. Never. No location, time, or place can excuse a movie with awful pacing, lifeless acting, a garbage screenplay, and a running time so short that it was extremely obvious that an epilogue-ish scene at the end was there just to try to beef up the running time (which, by the way, barely eclipses an hour and a half). You want nice visual effects with a good story? Go watch Hugo. You want better visual effects with a lukewarm story? Go watch Avatar. You want nice visual effects with an insultingly bad story that will haunt you for hours after watching it that’s so boring it makes watching paint dry look like next year’s national pastime? You’re probably still too good for this movie.

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RV – Review

by Ken B.

In Robin Williams’ illustrious career, he’s had  many ups and downs, and we try to hold on to the “up’s” as best we can. But occasionally, there comes a down either so low or so publicized before  we knew it was so low it must be mentioned. Between the two somewhere lies RV. It’s a “comedy”, apparently, and I’m not going to beat around the bush pretending to mask my overt dislike for  this shameless insult of what “family  entertainment” can be considered.  Resorting to an unfunny Sylvester Stallone  reference less than 90 seconds in, it’s a clear indicator of the level of “quality”  that can be expected here.

Williams portrays Bob Munro, an executive at a popular California beverage company, and head of a  dysfunctional family. A rather materialistic wife (CHERYL HINES), a hostile  teenage daughter (JOANNA “JOJO”  LEVESQUE), and a preteen weight lifting hip hop blasting son (JOSH HUTCHERSON).

For a somewhat unbearable 99 minute runtime with a total of three jokes I found somewhat amusing, something that slightly resembles a story unfolds. Bob is assigned to present a merger proposal for a grassroots company branch in Boulder, CO, and he sees this as a chance to have his family bond – in a rather disgusting RV.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld, who has been a cinematographer on such great films as Big, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, and the first Men In Black  inserts himself in a small role as “Irv”, the RV dealer and so this family adventure begins.

A brief scene passes straight through the most amusing of the three one liners out of the seemingly infinite flat attempts and they’re off. Commenting on the story, it can slide in well with the horrible one liners without the daunting task of making you invest in this family, and you wish nothing more at low points than a detour including a quite rickety foot bridge.

There are infinitely better roles that can be seen from all of the actors involved, and why 95 percent of this film seems phoned in I really cannot say, because it is something I do not understand. But don’t worry, intersped throughout all the poor jokes, bad characters, and what can only be seen as pointless filler, there’s always room for a geyser of human waste. Yeah, that’s mixed in this film, and you wish all of the sub-mediocrity would shoot out with it, but no, it doesn’t.

At the 2006 Golden Raspberry Awards, this film was awarded a specialty prize: “Worst Excuse for Family Entertainment”. And with this movie’s lack of humor, characters worth caring for, and weird end credit musical sequences, you couldn’t agree more.