Ralph Winter

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The Promise Review

Very Good

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder of 1.5 million Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians by the Turkish government between 1915 and 1923. Turkey has long denied that this took place, so the filmmakers take a rather soft approach to the story, setting out a romantic plotline with the genocide as a backdrop. So the resulting drama is somewhat uneven, but the events are so powerful that the film can't be ignored.

It opens in 1915 as the Ottoman Empire is collapsing. Mikael (Oscar Isaac) is a young Armenian studying medicine in Constantinople with a promised fiancee Maral (Angela Sarafyan) back home. Even so, he falls for Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), who shares his rural Armenian background. But she has a boyfriend, Chris (Christian Bale), who is investigating rumours of war as the Germans arrive to help the Turkish government round up its ethnic minorities. Mikael is soon arrested, but escapes from the work camp to return to his parents (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Kevork Malikyan) and Maral. Meanwhile, Chris and Ana are trying to report the story of what's really happening, and Mikael joins them to help a group of orphan refugees.

Yes, this is a sweeping epic in which there's a lot going on, and it's filmed on a lavish scale. The characters' lives continually intersect throughout the story, and the intensity of the wartime atrocities is seriously powerful. On the other hand, this makes the four-sided romance feel like a melodramatic distraction. The actors are solid, but the earnest tone undermines any real emotional edge. Isaac is sincere and decent, Le Bon is strong and wilful, Bale is solid and cynical, and Sarafyan is lost in the shuffle. Aghdashloo, as always, provides wrenching support.

Continue reading: The Promise Review

X-Men Review


Good
Well, comic book freaks can take a breather, as another sci-fi fantasy hits the big screen, this time in the long-awaited, highly-anticipated, it-better-be-good X-Men.

Without too much regret, I can say that X-Men will be palatable to fans and newbies alike. It's not a great film, but it will probably follow the arc of the Superman and Batman movies -- tons of sequels of variable quality until an abrupt and dismal end a decade later.

Continue reading: X-Men Review

Hackers Review


Very Good
Hackers is more techno-paranoia from Hollywood, instilling the fear of rampaging computer geeks into America once again in yet another take on 1983's WarGames. 12 years later, the game is a little different: the bad guys are big business types instead of the government, the good guys have dreadlocks and multiple body piercings, and the computers can do full motion video over a phone line.

Okay, so some liberties have been taken with technology (an Intel P6 chip powers an Apple PowerBook), but at least the terminology the hackers use is essentially right. The story may sound familiar. Bad corporate computer dude Eugene aka Plague (Fisher Stevens) and his accomplice (Lorraine Bracco) team up for a little multi-million dollar theft, when a bunch of young punks stumble upon the plan. The gaggle of teen-aged of hackers includes Dade aka Crash Override (Jonny Lee Miller), Kate aka Acid Burn (Angelina Jolie), and the show-stealing Cereal Killer (Matthew Lillard), among others. Together, the hackers have to foil the theft and avoid having numerous felony charges pinned on them, plus save the world from ecological disaster thanks to a Plague-written virus that capsizes oil tankers.

Continue reading: Hackers Review

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Ralph Winter Movies

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

X-Men Movie Review

X-Men Movie Review

Well, comic book freaks can take a breather, as another sci-fi fantasy hits the big...

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