Quick: how many movie reviewers can you name in thirty seconds?
I’d guess that the average person could name two or three at most. I’m pretty sure that most people in this country know who Roger Ebert is, and the oldsters among us might know Rex Reed’s name, and, if you’re a regular reader of a magazine or newspaper, you might know the name of that periodical’s resident movie reviewer (such as Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly or David Ansen of Newsweek). Then there are those select few who remember the great critics of the past: Pauline Kael, Bosley Crowther, and others of their ilk.
And that’s about it. Generally speaking, becoming a film critic is NOT the easiest way to become rich and famous. This fact, however, doesn’t stop those who love the art of cinema from dipping their toes into the reviewing pool.
The Internet has made being a movie reviewer a much easier task than it once was. Instead of beating the bushes trying to find a free weekly paper for which to write movie reviews for little or no pay, now anyone can write movie reviews on the Internet for little or no pay.
All of this kinda sorta brings us to the topic at hand: Frank Ochieng. I first stumbled upon the work of Frank Ochieng, self-described “avid observer of pop culture,” while reading movie reviews on RottenTomatoes.com. I don’t actually remember the very first review of his that I read, but it was awful enough to get me to start seeking out his reviews. Luckily (in a weird sort of way) for me, there are over 900 of them listed at Rotten Tomatoes.
What first struck me (and still strikes me–repeatedly, with a blunt object) is Frank’s love for alliteration. Now, I’m not so much of a snob that I don’t think a little well-placed alliteration is okay, but Frank apparently doesn’t understand that just repeating initial consonant sounds without making a lick of sense can be, well, damaging to the integrity of a written work. Frank also seems to believe that the more alliteration he can shove into a sentence, the better it becomes. Take this excerpt from his review of Insidious, this year’s surprise sleeper:
Insidious proves that tranquil terror tales can be just as impactful as the full blown gross-out quotient of high-octane hack cinema if not more involving and intriguing based on its challenging and calming canvas of chaos.
I’m reminded of Albert Brooks’s line in Broadcast News: “A lot of alliteration from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts! ”
The Insidious review quote above reminds me of the other thing that fascinates me about Frank’s reviews: they don’t make any sense. Often due to the self-imposed alliteration mandate, Frank frequently contradicts himself within the space of a few words. Just look at the quote above again–how can there be a “calming canvas of chaos”? How is chaos in any way, shape, or form calming? Answer: it isn’t. What’s worse is that, most of the time, Frank’s nonsense can’t be blamed on trying to shoehorn as much alliteration as possible into a review. Here’s another quote from the same review (actually, it’s the sentence that directly precedes the one above):
Overall, the distraught circumstances that overwhelm the Lambert family are methodically dispersed with motivating anxiety.
Exactly WHAT is that supposed to mean? Can circumstances even BE distraught? Can you disperse circumstances with anxiety? Reading Frank’s prose sometimes makes me think that I’ve been taking crazy pills.
This guy obviously has no clue as to how to review a movie, and therein lies his genius. So, without further ado, I give you the idiotic insights and the warmongering words of Frank Ochieng, along with a few snarky comments of my own (my comments will be bolded). (All of the following excerpts from Frank’s reviews are taken from Rotten Tomatoes and Yahoo’s Associated Content, and remain the [questionably] intellectual property of Frank Ochieng.)
From his review of Battle for Terra:
“Although well-meaning, Battle for Terra is too tame to capture the active imagination of adventurous tots as a mediocre-driven meteorite looking to impact young minds with its slow-footed pacing and puffy-minded pathos.”
“Still, Battle for Terra is generically conceived and makes about as much impact as tinted windows on a stoned hippie-operated spacecraft.”
“Surprisingly, the animation is rather simplistic but does have a unique look to it from a vintage point of view.”
“The Terrean creatures physically resemble flying tadpoles but are harmless nevertheless.”
From his review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine:
“Unless you are quite familiarized with Wolverine’s posse of hangers-on one would be scratching their head trying to distinguish the numerous supporting players within the scope of the film’s grainy realm.” NOTE: This one stood out due to its playing fast and loose with the rules of pronouns, their antecedents, and their number. I’m also appalled at Frank’s use of “familiarized” instead of “familiar.” Rock on, Frank!
From his review of Dragonball: Evolution:
“While remotely imaginative Dragonball erroneously forgets to do the essential things that basically make up the fundamentals of a basic half-decent piece of movie entertainment.” NOTE: I am officially in awe of the (Ed) Woodsian repetition of the word “basic.”
“In 2001’s dank and dismissive The One he pretty much exemplified his kind of jittery junk cinema that may be a staple of his chronically cliched-ridden frenetic fest.”
From his review of Observe and Report:
“Whatever the sentiment is about Hill’s sense of irreverence in Observe–pro or con–one thing is certainly clear…smarmy cinema can be skillful if it can articulate its boldness with revolving forethought of tension-filled tenacity and a robust goose egg of goofiness.” NOTE: One thing is certainly NOT clear—the meaning of this sentence.
From his review of The Love Guru:
“The supporting cast flickers off-and-on like an indecisive candle that refuses to extinguish its stubborn flame.” NOTE: Frank adds the use of similes to his deadly arsenal!
From his review of The Martian Child:
“Unfortunately for Martian Child this cutesy but cornball cross between E.T. and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence has more maple sap pouring out of it than a neglected Vermont tree looking for a good tapping.”
From his review of 30 Days of Night:
“Bleak, bombastic and belligerent, Slade’s blood-busting bohemians will indeed take a caustic chunk out of your imaginative horrifying souls.”
From his review of The Comebacks:
“Let’s face it, folks…we need another repetitive spoof movie like a piglet needs dirty fingernails.”
From his review of We Own the Night:
“Gray serves up a sluggishly regurgitation of the noteworthy 70’s-style cop dramas that ruled the airwaves with penetrating aplomb.” NOTE: Not only does Frank coin the phrase “penetrating aplomb” in this quote, but he also shows his inimitable style by modifying a noun with an adverb. We have much to learn from Frank.
The entire first paragraph from his review of The Reaping:
“Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank didn’t receive her golden statuettes by not being pensive. After all, Swank is an adventurous actress and often is consumed by the various interesting roles she effortlessly plays. It’s admirable that Swank looks to delve into different types of projects because she’s a capable performer that has the ability and luxury to do so. Granted she has had her share of hits and misses. Unfortunately, her latest stint in director Stephen Hopkins’s bloated biblical supernatural thriller The Reaping is an inexplicable misstep for the normally revered Swank.” NOTE: Where do I begin on this one? I didn’t realize that pensiveness is what won Hil her Oscars. Nor did I fully understand that her roles often eat her. Lastly, with her share of hits and misses, I can’t explain this misstep, either. Especially since she’s HAD HER SHARE OF MISSES.
Lastly, most of his review for Ghost Rider, with the most idiotic comments bolded:
“Over the years the emerging genre of big-budgeted comic book adaptations has had its share of mixed reaction. Specifically, the Marvel Comics superhero flicks are received with ambivalent forethought. For every successful or critically acclaimed Stan Lee staple ranging from the immensely popular Spider Man movie series we have to endure the duds such as Daredevil and The Fantastic Four. In writer-director Mark Steven Johnson’s flaccidly erratic action-adventure Ghost Rider the fragile reputation of another Marvel Comics creation hits the skids. In short the rollicking exploits of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider’s transformation from the animated printed pages to the big screen has all the effective staying power of a busted spark plug.
Johnson, who also helmed the aforementioned lackluster Daredevil, merely creates a generically pseudo-sensationalized B-movie confection that dazzles in its cheesy visual makeup without skillfully capturing the mystique or imagination of Lee’s flaming-faced anti-hero. Unfortunately, Ghost Rider tries to be too flippant for its own good. The ill-advised cheeky interpretation by Nicholas Cage (remember folks he was almost the Man of Steel a few years ago) and the movie’s knee-jerk response to the forced and unfounded humor sputters along more convincingly than a defective kickstand dragging on a rocky country road.
There’s never any genuine urgency of Ghost Rider being an eye-popping spectacle where you would expect the reliable larger-than-life antics of chameleon Cage to inhabit the barbecue-skull biker with creative panache. Instead, this spiritless supernatural sideshow wallows in utter ridicule and never is really focused on the target it wants to be at hand. Is this supposed to be a campy showcase of redemption? Does Johnson want Ghost Rider to strictly register as an off-kilter escapist flick that dares to take the liberty in embellishing on the gonzo-style gumption of Marvel’s motorcycling menace? Johnson wants to parlay Cage’s non-conformist rover as an impish outsider full of chaotic consciousness. However, the misguided rag tag ramblings of Ghost Rider will simply wipe away from one’s memory bank faster than a chintzy ink-stained tattoo on a sweaty forearm.
Ghost Rider, thankfully, has his trusty backup. Supporters such as Caretaker (Sam Elliott) Blaze’s respected older buddy from the circuit conveniently enter the equation. Also, comical companion Mack (Donal Logue from TV’s “The Knights of Prosperity”) is there to accompany Blaze whenever the proverbial butter hits the pan. Will Johnny Blaze be able to handle the pressure of dealing with his duel identities and try to maintain the fury that burns inside and outside (much like fellow Marvel Comic cohort Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk?) Can Blaze/Ghost Rider save the world from the maddening momentum of Blackheart and his brutish band of misfits?
Clearly, Ghost Rider is a meandering mess and its inert quirkiness doesn’t help out at all. Johnson randomly sprays the movie with dimwitted dialogue meant to be hip and haughty but only comes off looking rather lame in conception. In fact, the running gag where a fire-burning fiend such as Ghost Rider embracing the soft and sugary music of The Carpenters is supposed to be a winking moment at the burning biker’s masculinity and/or sensitivity. Silly-minded bits and other hit-and-miss hilarity render this vehicle a hollow hoot-in-a-half. The characterizations are flimsy and flat and couldn’t even hold a candle to the scene-chewing, tacky guest-star villains on the old 60’s Batman TV series. The whole overwrought production feels as if it was cobbled together with shades of dippy drama interspersed with a phony injection of outlandish vibes.
Sadly, Ghost Rider wasn’t really a heralded Marvel Comic concoction to begin with as he takes a reluctant backseat as C-list consideration to the other highly desired personalities in Stan Lee’s crime-fighting community. Sure, Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider has his fair share of a cult following. Nevertheless, one wonders if the diehard sci-fi/comic book crowd would have second thoughts in embracing a flammable fighter-for-justice seeker that ironically gives off inconsequential smoke signals in a fractured fantasy that outwits itself in almost every inconceivable way.
You’ve just read excerpts from eleven of Frank’s reviews. To read another 918 excerpts, go to http://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/frank-ochieng/.
To read Frank’s latest full-length reviews, check out this page: