Movies You Watched in October 2013
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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This is a geeklist to discuss the movies you watch throughout the month of October. Please feel free to post them as you see them, or if you prefer post a summary of all films at the end of the month. Also you can comment and discuss freely as others talk about films they've seen.

Enjoy...

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1. Board Game: Knights Templar [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Kent Reuber
United States
San Mateo
California
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Arn, the Knight Templar. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0837106

One of the better medieval movies that I've seen. Good acting, good fight scenes, good cinematography. Many languages use: Swedish, English, Arabic...
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2. Board Game: Red Vengeance [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:9183]
Don Weed
United States
Clemmons
North Carolina
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RED 2 (Retired Extremely Dangerous 2)

A great and genuinely funny spy romp with an all star cast. John Malkovich steals the show again as the spy who the government experimented on with LSD maybe a little too much.
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3. Board Game: Space: The Game that Defies Gravity [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
 
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Gravity

Alfonso Cuarón is one of the greatest "mainstream" filmmakers working today (I'm not sure I don't rate him higher than Christopher Nolan, actually) - Children of Men is only one of the examples why he is one of the greatest. So I would have wanted to watch Gravity even if it didn't have great reviews.

The story is nothing extremely great, it's "only" like Life of Pi, Cast Away and other stories where the main hero(es) get desperately lost and they have to come to terms with theirselves as well before (if they are lucky) they can manage to survive and get home. Okay, this is set in space like Apollo 13, although not based on a true story so it may have some more Hollywood turns in the screenplay. So the story works and is okay (maybe even fine), but this is still probably the weakest part of the movie - which is otherwise simply excellent.

Great directing (including an xteen-minute first shot, some first person shots etc.), seamless fx, extremely spectacular (this time it's really a movie to be watched in 3D and possibly on IMAX screens), very good screenplay (telling the okay story), good actors, visceral entertainment, this is one of the few must see movies of the year.
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4. Board Game: Jeu des Bicyclistes [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
 
¡dn ʇǝƃ ʇ,uɐɔ ı puɐ uǝllɐɟ ǝʌ,ı
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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The Bicycle Thief (1947)

After hearing for so long about how ground-breaking this film was, in its day, I finally had a chance to see it on Turner Movie Classics.

Not bad. I enjoyed the feel of the show; almost like a documentary given how much of the story & setting (post-WWII) were tied into the plot lines.
When Antonio has his crisis-- will he or won't he become a thief, like the one that he detests so much-- it is extremely believable and quite profound.
As with most movies of this era, I found the ending to be a touch on the weak side. It sort of ended just as it was really getting good.

My favorite part, other than his internal battle at the end, was when he takes his son into a "pizza ristorante" but they don't serve pizza. They do have breaded & fried mozzarella and wine, though, so he gets two orders plus a full liter of wine to share with his 10-year old kid!

In Italian, with subtitles.
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5. Board Game: Gravity Trap [Average Rating:5.46 Unranked]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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New to Me


With new releases that aren't sequels or created based on a pre-existing storyline you almost have to rely on the trailers to sell you on the movie. Gravity failed on that front, because we saw little more than an accident in space and Sandra Bullock spinning away breathing heavily. Yet an abundance of positive reviews somehow convinced me to give this film a shot despite my lack of interest. What the trailer doesn't tell you (and honestly I don't know how it could) is that this film isn't a story so much as it is an experience. This could be the first film of the modern era that I would say it is imperative you see in 3-D, maybe IMAX if you're so inclined, and sit close because you want the film to envelope you. About 15 minutes in I sat down my popcorn and never touched it again. There were moments when I came to my senses and realized I was pressing my legs against the armrests, or I had to remind myself to breathe. Essentially I felt like I was in space for an hour and a half. Quite an astounding achievement.

This paragraph is where I usually talk about the cast but in a unique, and somewhat daring, move this film has a cast of 2. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney carry the whole thing from start to finish. Clooney was good as the veteran astronaut who lends the calming presence as things kind of fall apart all around them. Sandra Bullock is likely to get an Oscar nomination for her performance as the wet-behind-the-ears rookie, Dr. Stone. Her portrayal is likeable and really displays vulnerability. We want to see this pair make it home alive so every time something goes wrong you can't help but panic with them. One of the really cool choices was to forego any flashbacks. The characters' history is only told through the highlights (and lowlights) that they choose to share verbally with one another. It's important to note, though, that Gravity is barely about the history of these characters, it is more about an emotional/physical journey and how it is changing them before our eyes.

So many of the visuals in this film are very symbolic. There are a couple of different threads of symbolism they weave throughout this movie and that kind of stuff normally drives me nuts. Yet it was so artistically gorgeous that I found it breath-taking instead of irritating. There is one visual that I found so remarkable it is the first thing I think of every time I reflect on the film. But even beyond the symbolic images, the rest of the visuals were just as spectacular. I felt like, particularly with the use of 3-D, the director was controlling the audience. He was forcing everyone to notice a drifting tool or a small spark. They must have pored over every frame of film endlessly to have this kind of impact on the audience. Gravity is a truly amazing film, but there's not a whole lot of story here. What you see in the previews is indeed what you get as far as story. So don't expect some intricate sci-fi tale, it's just a visceral ride where 2 astronauts fight for survival. It's not the kind of film that I would watch again and again, it is simply a powerful experience that I would encourage anyone to try. It's a cliche, but I think it applies here...Gravity must be seen to be believed.
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6. Board Game: Oblivion [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Oblivion


While everyone else is watching Gravity, I finally caught up with this one from last summer. I was glad I saw it, but at the same time, I am not all that anxious to watch it again, though I would be willing to. The visuals are excellent, IMHO. A seemingly typical post-apocalyptic setting, twisted around in the end. I gave it three stars on Netflix.
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7. Board Game: Apocalypse [Average Rating:5.88 Unranked]
Andy
United Kingdom
Manchester
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The Book of Eli

I agreed to watch this with a friend who'd seen it before.
I'd not heard anything about the movie going in, and wasn't sure what to expect, but I really enjoyed it.

In a violent post-apocalyptic world, Denzel Washington's Eli is in possession of the only remaining Bible, all others having been destroyed either during or after the war, and must carry it across North America, protecting it from those who would seek to pervert or misuse it. One such person is Gary Oldman's Carnegie, leader of a small community of survivors who seeks to use the book as a means of control.

Washington and Oldman are excellent in their leading roles, and ably supported by Jennifer Beals, Mila Kunis and cameos from the likes of Michael Gambon, Frances De la Tour and Tom Waits. The story is clever, and there are some interesting plot twists along the way. The cinematography is excellent, with some really good and some unusual shots and the film is desaturated which adds to the atmosphere.
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8. Board Game: 7 Wonders: Manneken Pis [Average Rating:6.76 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.76 Unranked]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Long Time No See


There's no logical reason I should like this movie. It is sappy, it is cheesy, it does not contain great dialogue, it has over-the-top characters, and it is built on a ridiculous premise. Yet it is truly remarkable what nostalgia can do. I watched this movie a ton when I was growing up, and even now as an adult I find myself enjoying the experience of watching it. I do recognize that it is flawed because some of the jokes don't land, and at times I think we're just supposed to laugh simply because the madcap characters behave in utterly ridiculous ways. Yet when you grow up with something and return to it later in life, it's almost like a reunion with a family member, you don't dwell on all the faults because it's just nice to be back together again. One of the things that surprised me now is the amount of sexual innuendo they slipped in with jokes about Jonathan's "wood" and other stuff like that. These flew over my head when I was younger, so there was a few new chuckles to be found, which was nice. In fact it often annoys me that innuendo seems to be such a lost art nowadays, because it is a very clever way to say something in a way that will make the adults snicker and won't make it too crude for youngsters.

Andrew McCarthy is the perfect loveable loser. In the role of Jonathan Switcher he is able to master the art of looking like he's desperately grasping onto his last shred of sanity. Kim Cattrall is lovely, and takes on a very matter-of-fact tone that almost dares you to question the logic of the utterly insane events that fill this movie. Perhaps the most humorous moment to me was seeing James Spader (who I've been watching recently on The Blacklist) in such a startlingly different role. He really is an acting chameleon. There is a ton of other actors that are, let's be honest, B-list at best. Yet I find them all to add a lot of laughter as they fill the roles of comic relief while Jonathan and Emmy could have made the movie one big sappy romance. Perhaps my biggest disappointment with the film is Carole Davis who plays Roxie, Jonathan's on-again-off-again girlfriend. She just doesn't sell me on the fact that she even likes him very much, so her jealous rage in the climax feels unwarranted.

In all honesty, Mannequin is not a movie I would recommend to your average movie buff. I totally recognize that it is not a super high quality film. It just drips with 80s cheesiness, and if you go into it with a critical eye you could rip it to shreds. Yet I am willing to forgive all its shortcomings, thanks to the magic of memories. One thing that really makes it work, however, is that the movie is very self-aware. They don't set it up like we're about to watch some high drama based in a real world. I mean even the opening scene in ancient Egypt is loaded with anachronistic jokes. So if the movie makers are willing to make light of the film, suddenly I feel freed to laugh at it right along with them. They don't present it like they're trying to remake Romeo & Juliet. No, they put Meshach Taylor in drag and ask you to come along for a silly ride for an hour and a half. True, Mannequin is never going to crack into my Top 10 films of all time list, but I'll still enjoy it any time someone wants to watch.
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9. Board Game: Shakespeare: The Bard Game [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:12251]
Ryan Morgan
United States
Visalia
California
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Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing- 4 stars. Shakespeare's play done in Joss's house in B&W. I really liked it and highly recommend it. some very funny physical comedy bits.

Static - 3 stars. A neat little home invasion thriller with a fun twist.

The Little Mermaid in 3d - 3 stars. Its not my favorite movie but the 3d was mesmerizing. My kids thought so too.

This is the End - 3 stars. The plot is completely insane and it has some very funny moments.

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10. Board Game: Primero [Average Rating:5.96 Unranked]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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New to Me


With a great deal of excitement I sought out this film, because it was highly lauded by movie buffs as one of the most complex time travel films of all time. Since I'm very interested in good time travel stories, this definitely piqued my interest. Unfortunately my passion for the genre led me astray. Wow, is this movie horrible. It's going to be tough for me to spell out all the multitude of disasters in Primer, but I'll do my best. First off we have the opening scenes, which last for about half the runtime of the film, although it felt like much longer. For at least half an hour we are treated to annoying conversations loaded with nonsensical technical jargon. Typically this time is when a movie starts developing the characters, but instead we just meet 4 extremely boring engineers. So how am I supposed to care about anything these guys do when, honestly, I just want them to shut up because they lack any personality whatsoever? After what seems like half my life has wasted away, and I'm using toothpicks to hold open my eyelids, something remarkable happens. Don't worry I won't tell you what it is, not because I'm avoiding spoilers, but because the film never told me. No, the annoying characters continue to talk in techno-babble that ranks on the interesting meter just slightly below reading a textbook.

Part of the problem is the horrendous "acting." I get that the budget for this film was basically non-existent, but don't star in your own movie along with your buddies! Just get a group of college kids with some drama experience or seek help from the local community theater. It felt like I was watching a computer programmer trying his hand at acting, and it shouldn't be that obvious. The dialogue was wooden and forced. I've seen higher quality performances in movies starring the Olsen twins. This is a huge problem because in order to hook your audience you need to give them characters to identify and connect with, but this movie lacks any of them. I almost root for these guys to blow up their precious little world, because at least then something interesting might happen in the film. It's like the entire movie is supposed to ride on the story, and we're supposed to forgive a thousand other sins simply because they created a confusing web out of the plot. Well, I'm not buying it! Plus, let's take a moment to talk about that plot...

After I was done watching Primer I sat for another hour reading online articles about what happened in the film. I'm fairly confident that no 2 sources told the exact same story, but from what I read it really isn't that intricate of a plot. I've seen confusing time travel stories and this one doesn't rank up there as the most dynamic. Instead it is confusing simply because none of it is explained in the movie. I swear for an hour and 15 minutes I watched and waited for one shred of expository dialogue and there was none to be found. They don't explain what is happening, and they never take a moment to show you extremely important scenes that might help support the story. So you are left to deduce for yourself what happened, hence the multitude of interpretations I found online. I don't care what the fans of this movie might say, when I walk away from a film and I need to do online research afterwards to interpret the entire plot of the film I just finished watching, you have failed at your job as a story teller! You can have the most interesting story of all time, but it's of no use to me if you can't tell me that story. I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and tell myself not to watch this train wreck of a movie. I watched Primer with a friend who, thankfully, is still willing to be friends after I subjected him to this movie, but afterwards he said in no uncertain terms "you owe me an hour and fifteen minutes of my life back." That's when you know your movie is an utter failure.
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11. Board Game: Donnerwetter [Average Rating:6.73 Unranked]
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2


I liked the first one quite a bit despite the obviously silly premise, and upon seeing the trailer for this one months ago, I wanted to watch it immediately.

My girlfriend loved it, but this is as silly and goofy as it can be, and everyone that participated in it knew it as well. There's no deep meaning or big life lessons or multi-layered dialogue that connects with both adults and kids. Nope. Not that kind of kid flick.

What it has are lots and lots of colorful scenes, extensive puns and fun with the food animals and a breezy-quick ride.

It works for what it is and I'm not even sure if it should try to be anything else.

I just thought the villain(s) were not that interesting to watch and even though most of the characters of the first movie are present, the majority really don't have much to do in this one but just be there.

I liked the food animals, they were creative, funny and cute. I especially liked the butter frog (seen above), but I just wish it had been as continuously fun as the trailer indicated. Also, many of the scenes were obviously crafted for 3D-viewing with a couple that are needless and boring.

I give it a 7 out of 10. Not something necessarily to rush to the movies to see but it should be a fun movie for the kids and like I said before, my girlfriend liked it a lot herself.

Steve! Shrimpanzee! Steve! Shrimpanzee!
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12. Board Game: Queen's Necklace [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1883]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Long Time No See


Yes, I've seen it before.

Yes, for some reason I watched it again.

Yes, it is absolutely horrible straight-to-video quality production.

Yes, I would prefer to never watch it again.

Yes, I rate this the same as Primer but this makes Primer look like Shakespeare.

Let's just move on.
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13. Board Game: Knight Hawks [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:7868]
Andy
United Kingdom
Manchester
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Ladyhawke

We had some friends over for dinner and a movie, and after much deliberation over what we'd all agree to watch, we went with a suggestion my wife made to watch this cheesy fantasy adventure from the 80s.

The plot isn't particularly anything new (even for the 80s), with a pair of cursed lovers, Rutger Hauer (then known for BladeRunner) and Michelle Pfeiffer (who'd been in Scarface), who are joined by a lovable rogue in the form of a young Matthew Broderick (who'd previously starred in WarGames). Without spoiling the plot too much, as you can guess from the title, the lady transforms into a hawk, during the day. Unfortunately the effects are very dated and the transformation sequences are especially bad.

There's some fun to be had from the interactions of the characters, and especially the performance of Leo McKern (Rumpole of the Bailey!) as Father Imperious, but overall I felt it was a fairly pedestrian fantasy Rom Com. I'm glad I've watched it, but even my wife was happy to delete it from our DVR.
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14. Board Game: Conjurers [Average Rating:5.44 Unranked]
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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THE CONJURING


Like with INSIDIOUS, James Wan proves that he can make a scary PG-13 movie involving ghosts and/or demons in a haunted house. Unfortunately, this one feels a lot like INSIDIOUS, to its detriment.

Most people and critics seemed to have liked it more, but maybe I'm thinking too much of a movie in a genre that requires no heavy thinking. Sure, there's a couple of good scares here and there, but everything felt like a retread of his previous movie albeit not being connected.

INSIDIOUS also had a better mythology or set of rules, even it breaks them to create more scares. THE CONJURING has physical objects teleporting like they were the ghosts themselves; villainous spirits taking their sweet time carrying out their plans; a subplot involving a possessed doll with a long, throwaway scene; parents leaving their kids alone right after they had just been attacked, etc.

I mean, I don't think I'm asking to get a solid set of rules so I can invest more interest in the horror story. Once again, if everything is possible, then I don't really care. I think THE EXORCIST did it a lot better, even if exorcisms always take a long time and are usually not overall successful.

But then again, these are horror movies. They can be dumb and make crazy money 'cause people only want to get scared. Okay, then it has its scares but still INSIDIOUS was better if ultimately incomplete.

I give it a 5.5 out of 10.
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15. Board Game: Crazy Farm [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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COLD COMFORT FARM


A 1995 movie that is okay enough to waste a Sunday afternoon, if only to spot some recognizable actors and actresses playing kooky characters.

Kate Beckinsale plays a rich girl that loses her parents and looks for some relatives to move in with and maybe bring them some culture. One of her relatives invites her to her rustic, unkempt farm out of a cryptic desire to correct an unknown injustice. The farm is filled to the brim with crazy characters, and Kate makes her personal mission to give them all purpose in life outside their narrow-minded archaic lifestyles.

The movie has the classic glacial pace and dry humor of British cinema. It takes a while to get going, gets a bit more interesting in the middle then falls into predictable saccharine comedy drama that must tie everything nicely at the end with plenty of forced plot points.

Overall, it is okay and forgettable, with a dash of saving grace added by the appearances of known actors.

Kate Beckinsale looks very, very young in this movie. So if you fell for her during UNDERWORLD, this is her 22-years-old version that looks like a 15 year old. Her character is somewhat off-putting but done on purpose. She comes across as entitled nobility with a strong drive to bring modern city values to the antiquated farmers. By the end of the movie, you end up liking her more but only 'cause the farmers were all nuthouse candidates and she channels their antics into some sense of normalcy.

Stephen Fry (apparently, he's in every British movie) plays an obnoxious writer who thinks he's quite the educated catch.

Sir Ian McKellen plays a cantankerous head of the family (well, the head of the male side of the family) that has the gift of a preacher's tongue, albeit one that is macabre and depressing.

Rufus Sewell is the town's hunk and man-slut with a secret passion for something very modern. Actually, the funniest part of the movie involves him, Kate and a fast-talking businessman coming from the States. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is not as funny.

I give it a 6 out of 10, especially if you just want a pleasant family movie. I guess if you are not trying to watch everything Kate Beckinsale or Ian McKellen you can very well skip it and your life will not miss it.

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16. Board Game: The Rapture Game [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Reinis Butans
Latvia
Riga
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Title
This Is the End
Session 9
An Education
Year
2013
2001
2009
My Rating
7
5
7
IMDB Rating
7.0
6.5
7.3
Genre
Comedy | Fantasy
Horror | Mystery
Drama
My average rating this month - 6.33
IMDB average for the same movies - 6.93

My average rating previous month - 7.33
IMDB average for the same movies - 7.77

My previous month was the most highly rated for me since I started to post here. So I was expecting a downfall. October was not exciting in terms of Feature films for me. I did however managed to finish some great Series. I wish there was another Geeklist for those. I don't have anything much to comment on the 3 movies I watched. Well it is what it is. Nothing brilliant, but almost good. On another note it's good to see that my taste once again proves to be normal without much of a deviations from the general public.. so this whole post is not insightful for anyone.. aside myself.
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17. Board Game: Monsters Inc. Scream Catcher [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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MONSTERS UNIVERSITY


I wanted to watch this one in the theatres only after positive reviews started to come in. I'm a bit leery of Pixar's latest additional takes on franchises after they pulled CARS 2. As a potential mainly-for-toy-sales movie, it wasn't bad.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY does not reach the heights of MONSTERS INC., but I don't think kids would notice the difference. It is very colorful and full of monsters, though the variety in monsters is not as crazy as one would expect. Some designs stand out, like the gargantuan librarian and the menacing, soft-spoken Dean Hardscrabble.

For adults, this is one of the lesser Pixar movies. Perfectly nice and kid-friendly, it will rarely make you laugh, focusing instead on making you smile at the cuteness and color. So it's hard to rate because I think kids will enjoy it regardless of how grown-ups may comment on not being that funny or having deep life lessons, etc.

I give it a 6.5 out of 10. Its best part is the latter half with an ending that nicely refuses to make it easy for the protagonists after all they went through.

No need to rush to see it, but it's not a waste of time either.
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18. Board Game: Democracy under Siege [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:4478] [Average Rating:7.55 Unranked]
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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THE SIEGE


I was never that interested in this movie, especially because its ratings and reviews were just okay. But I kept hearing people saying that re-watching now, it is oddly reminiscent to the 9/11 terrorist attack and subsequent government actions, despite being made in 1998.

The title of the movie only refers to the second half of the movie, so I imagine most people would have been wondering why it was called like that when it felt like SPEED for quite a lengthy time.

The plot is a bit confusing and hard to follow for a couple of reasons. First, it is a '90s movie. Nothing wrong with that, except you have to re-acclimate yourself to what was the action/thriller norm back then. Second, even though the plot is pretty big in scope, with immense repercussions on the United States, it seems like the budget forced the writers to use the same 5 or 6 characters to tell the whole story. I think it would have been better if they had done it more like MUNICH or ZERO DARK THIRTY or any other similar movie that required a large cast.

The main problem with the cast limitation (did they waste all the budget on Denzel Washington, Annette Bening and Bruce Willis?...sorry Tony Shalhoub, I don't think you commanded a big payout), is that the character of Annette Benning is annoyingly omnipresent and unbelievable in its lack of support from whatever agency she represents. Maybe I'm too used to the CIA TV series of HOMELAND, but if an agent shows up, immediately butting heads with the FBI and getting all nosy on their proceedings, you'd think they'd make sure she is who she is and try to talk to her superiors or other colleagues. Nope. All we see is her and at one point, a couple of grunts. For the scope of the story, I would expect a whole team of operatives forcing cross-departmental collaboration. Frankly, Denzel and Tony would have been opaqued by a gazillion of government agents from all organizations the moment they realized they were in big doo-doo.

Deep down, the story is not bad and I didn't feel it was racist or over-patriotic or whatever else other reviewers labeled it in the past. Unfortunately, I think the story was too big for their budget and cast and ultimately failed to be believable and more engaging.

I give it a 5.5 out of 10.

Denzel was great as always and so was Shalhoub.

Annette Bening was okay but her character annoyed me.

Both Bruce Willis and his character were unnecessary and took the story out of focus, forcing it to hover around a different set of plot points.
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