Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hi-tech vs superior numbers: Who wins?

Zulu (1964)
Starring: Patrick Magee, Jack Hawkins, Michael Caine, and Stanley Baker
Director: Cy Endfield
Steve's Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

In 1879, the British thought the Zulu Nation was no match for the modern weaponry of the greatest military force on Earth. When a massive Zulu army descended upon the lonely, lightly defended outpost at Roark's Drift, that theory will be put to the test.

"Zulu" has been touted as one of the greatest war movies ever made, and it lives up to that reputatation. From the early, tense scenes--as the British soldiers stationed at Roark's Drift start to recognize that the Zulu forces are massing--through the harrowing battle scenes that make up the bulk of the film, "Zulu" is perfectly paced and crafted. It features great acting, particularly from Michael Caine who gives one of his earliest and still his best screen performance, excellent camerawork, and a well-deployed musical score. The film is particularly impressive in the way it shows the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of this real-life, history-making battle.

The movie is so well made that eventhough I knew the historical events the movie portrayed, I became so engrossed in it that I soon forgot I already knew the ending. "Zulu" is one of those rare and truly excellent movies that draws the viewer completely in.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Kids' TV industry skewered in dark comedy

Death to Smoochy (2002)
Starring: Edward Norton and Robin Williams
Director: Danny Devito
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

After kid's show superstar Rainbow Randolph (Williams) is disgraced in a bribery scandal, an idealistic young performer, Sheldon Mopes (Norton) and his trademark character of Smoochy the Purple Dinosaur are tapped by the network to fill Randolph's timeslot. An instant hit, Sheldon is soon faced with the choice of abandonining his dreams of entertaining and educating kids in a wholesome fashion for crass commercialism, or standing by his principles and taking on the kid's entertainment industry... a shadow-filled world that makes a Mafia Made Man summit look like a Boy Scout jamboree. And will he survive the insane attempts at revenge launched at him by an increasingly deranged Randolph?

"Death to Smoochy" is a dark comedy with some truly hilarious moments, with a cast of characters that grow ever more bizarre as the film progresses and we learn more about them. Williams in particular shines as the thoroughly corrupt and repulsive Rainbow Randolph, and Norton is also great as the idealistic-but-never-foolish Sheldon. The supporting cast (led by Danny Devito, Jon Stewart, and Harvey Fierstein) are all excellent in their parts.