Backdraft

“Backdraft” has not aged well. Granted, it’s hard to say how well this movie was received when it opened (I’m going to date myself here, but when it hit theaters, I was nine), but it’s been almost twenty years, and what worked back then does not work anymore.

 

Now, that’s not to say it’s a horrible experience – my movie buddy and I have a fabulous time watching it, but it’s not a comedy; we were just having a good laugh at the movie’s expense.

 

“Backdraft,” directed by Ron Howard, is the story of two brothers, Stephen (Kurt Russell) and Brian (William Baldwin). Their dad was a firefighter who was killed in action when the boys were young, and the ‘family business’ both draws and repels them.

Stephen has become a bad-ass but reckless firefighter, while Brian dropped out of the academy earlier in his life, but at the beginning of the film has graduated and finds himself in the same firehouse as his estranged brother.

 

That’s a solid enough story, but then, in a nod to conventionality, the brothers must learn to work together to stop an killer arsonist on the loose.

Sigh. There’s also some other stuff that happens, the effects are pretty cool, but really, there is a bit too much story here to leave room for anything good. “Backdraft” could have been a compelling family drama with a firefighting/tragedy backdrop. Or it could have been a thrilling action picture about a hunt for a dastardly arsonist.

But instead of excelling in any one area, it went and failed at both; “Backdraft” limps to the finish, with every bit of its conventional storytelling weighing it down.

 

Backdraft” (1991)

Written by Gregory Widen

Directed by Ron Howard

Starring: Kurt Russell (Stephen)

William Baldwin (Brian)

Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy

We take a break from the regular show to hang out with Felix Gaeta and some friends in a lost raptor, with some tragic outcomes.

 

A note to first time BSG watchers; these aren’t the reviews for you. I plan to write about the show with the ending in mind. If you haven’t seen the show, you will be spoiled on stuff that happens at the end. You’ve been warned.

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Battlestar Galactica: Revelations

D’Anna, who didn’t get the memo about peace and friendship between Cylons and humans, takes hostages in an effort to make the Final Five reveal themselves and come over to the Cylon side, bringing a tense situation to a dangerous head on the eve of peace.

 

A note to first time BSG watchers; these aren’t the reviews for you. I plan to write about the show with the ending in mind. If you haven’t seen the show, you will be spoiled on stuff that happens at the end. You’ve been warned.

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“Exotica” revisited

“Exotica” is not the film you think it is.

 

If you look at the box art, or watched the trailer, you might come away thinking this is a dumb stripper movie. You could even be forgiven for thinking that there is nothing to see here because you’ve seen it all before.

 

Well, if that’s the movie you’re looking for, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

“Exotica,” written and directed by Atom Egoyan, is really more of a mystery. In the opening scenes, you’ll meet a shy pet-shop owner (Don McKellar), a jaded but emotional stripper (Mia Kirshner), a creepy but sad DJ (Elias Koteas) and a world-weary auditor (the stunning Bruce Greenwood).

Their relationships are unclear, their motivations hidden, but if you pay attention and let the movie unfold, this layered and moving drama will draw you in and not let go until it fades to black.

 

Really, I’ve got nothing more to say after that. It would be a crime to give more plot details away, and I could rail against the marketing team for eons over their mistreatment of such a fantastic piece of art. But I won’t; trust me, “Exotica” is worth your time. It’s even better the second time around.

 

Exotica” (1994)

Written and directed by Atom Egoyan

Starring: Bruce Greenwood (Frances)

Don McKellar (Thomas)

Mia Kirshner (Christina)

Elias Koteas (Eric)

Battlestar Galactica: The Hub

We flashback to two days ago and learn the fate of Roslin’s baseship and the fragile Cylon-human alliance.

A note to first time BSG watchers; these aren’t the reviews for you. I plan to write about the show with the ending in mind. If you haven’t seen the show, you will be spoiled on stuff that happens at the end. You’ve been warned.

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Battlestar Galactica: Sine Qua Non

After the Baseship’s mysterious disappearance, the Adamas are forced to make some choices about their futures. Also, Romo Lampkin returns.

 

A note to first time BSG watchers; these aren’t the reviews for you. I plan to write about the show with the ending in mind. If you haven’t seen the show, you will be spoiled on stuff that happens at the end. You’ve been warned.

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Battlestar Galactica: Guess What’s Coming to Dinner

After a brief scare, the Baseship arrives at the Fleet, and the Cylons give the humans an offer that will lead them to both Earth and the Final Five Cylons.

 

A note to first time BSG watchers; these aren’t the reviews for you. I plan to write about the show with the ending in mind. If you haven’t seen the show, you will be spoiled on stuff that happens at the end. You’ve been warned.

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One Hour Photo

One of the many reasons I don’t like horror films as much as other genres is how formulaic they are. Put a group of people in a tight space, release a monster, watch them die until one or sometimes two heroes emerge to quell the beast, at least until the sequel. Repeat until the franchise runs out of money.

 

It was an old formula when I was young, and it’s only gotten more irritating as time has gone on. At this point, even when one film shines (“28 Days Later”), I’ve basically given up on the genre. But like the sucker that I am, I can’t help going back when I hear good things about a film.

 

So, along comes this week’s film “One Hour Photo,” a “horror” film in the Hitchcock tradition from writer/director Mark Romanek, all suspense and build-up leading up to some horrific climax.

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Battlestar Galactica: Faith

As the mutiny winds down (with one tragic consequence), Starbuck embarks on her mission, hoping that she can trust Leoben. Back in the fleet, Roslin meets another woman who offers her a new way of faith.

 

A note to first time BSG watchers; these aren’t the reviews for you. I plan to write about the show with the ending in mind. If you haven’t seen the show, you will be spoiled on stuff that happens at the end. You’ve been warned.

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The “Star Trek” movies

Somewhat haphazardly, Jim and I decided to sit down and watch the newest “Star Trek” film. We’d seen the movie separately and enjoyed it (in fact, we both own it), but one thing led to another, and we ended up watching most of the other movies together too (I passed on the bad ones, but like a trooper, he toughed it out).

 

It’s been quite a ride, so much fun in fact that we both decided to rank them (separately, for extra fun). It was his first time viewing for most of them, but as it’s been a little while for me, it was an awesome re-watch for a franchise that I don’t revisit enough (plus, I got him to start watching DS9. Mission accomplished!).

 

So, here are my rankings, from worst to best. For Jim’s list, check here.

 

(We didn’t include the newest movie, mainly because it’s starting its own line of movies and doesn’t quite fit in with this bunch. And of course, spoilers ahead.)

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