28 December 2006
That ended of the first act of the film. The second act covered the traveling of the prisoners with their captors to their great city. They had a few adventures along the way. A small girl dying of some disease tells the captors that they are doomed to die. It was foreshadowing for the last part of the film. Once in the city, they are painted and made ready for a ritual sacrificing for the gods. As Jaguar Paw is getting ready to have his heart cut out and head chopped off, and eclipse happens, and the captors decide that the gods are happy. They then “release” the remaining prisoners.
Now that act two is done, we get to the final act, the chase. Here, Jaguar Paw runs back to his razed village to try and save his wife and child that are in the hole. Some of the captors are chasing him due to a folly on his part. This is where I started to get mad at the film. He is running, presumably in a straight line. Yet, despite many breaks by his pursuers, they always manage to be right on his heels. My only thought here is that he is running the old NES Tecmo Super Bowl method of zig-zag to keep them close but not let them catch him. Jaguar Paw begins to hunt his pursuers along the way as they are hunting him. So, each time one is picked off, they have to stop look, and discuss it. Meanwhile, he is running. Somehow, after they leave the body behind, they are right on his heels again. I am not going to give away the entire ending. It starts to rain which fills up the hole his family is in. The final bad guys are on this tail, and something odd occurs.
Verdict: I enjoyed this film a great deal. I will not be buying it on DVD. This is not a movie that I would watch again and again. I do not think that you need to go see this in theaters. I, personally, did not think that the violence was too graphic, but what do I know about that. Its worth the watch, but you can rent it and save the money.
I left work on time, as opposed to late, and drove like my hair was on fire to get home and get the wife for a special surprise. Her favorite Christmas movie is the 1947 Miracle on 34th Street. A local theater advertised in the paper and on the Internet that they were showing it. So, we drove across St. Louis to get to this theater in time for the showing. Turns out, it was a typo, a misprint. It was the remake that my wife refuses to watch. So, we decided to see Little Miss Sunshine instead. As soon as it started, I realized that it came out to DVD this same day, but oh well.
This movie is a depressingly hilarious feel-good movie. That does not make any sense, but it is true. Abigail Breslin plays young Olive. Steve Carell plays her suicidal gay uncle Frank. Toni Collette plays her hard working mother Sheryl. Greg Kinnear plays the pathetic father Richard that is bent on not being a loser because there are two types of people, Winners and Losers. Her drug using, sex-crazed grandfather is played by Alan Arkin. And finally, Paul Dano plays her older brother who does not talk because he has taken an oath to himself to not talk until he joins the Air Force and gets to fly planes.
This deranged family of misfits goes on a journey from Albuquerque to Los Angeles for a child’s beauty contest called “Little Miss Sunshine.” They all pack into a yellow VW Bus. It is a stick shift so only Richard can drive. Sheryl decides that she should learn to drive to help out. She ends up ruining the clutch and they have to push start the car to get it going and then they can stop. The whole movie follows them along their journey and misfortunes. The film focuses on it characters and their interaction with each other. Each character ends the movie with a slightly different outlook on life than they had when the trip started.
Verdict: I loved this movie. It is totally worth the watch. My only regret is that I did not get to see it earlier and tell you all to see it in theaters. Rent this movie. It is not for little kids, though. My favorite scene involves a funny incident with the VW bus and its horn. I was crying I was laughing so hard. My wife was mad at me for laughing so hard. But it was totally worth the watch.
When it comes to Stallone, I will watch anything that he is in. I especially make sure that I see movies that he writes. After seeing what Renny Harlin and the film editor did to Driven, I was pleased to see that Stallone himself would be behind the camera for the sixth and final installment of Rocky. I was a member on the blog when this film started shooting. I was waiting and waiting for pictures and videos from the set. Most people laughed at the thought of another Rocky movie after all these years. I did a little, too. I mean, Rocky was originally going to die in the street fight of the fifth movie. So, I thought, where is he going to go with this movie? I could not wait. My wife decided that she would go with me to see Rocky Balboa, but she had never seen any of the other films. So, we watched the original 1976 Academy Award winning film the night before, and then I filled her in on the other four movies. I recommend watching the original before seeing this new one. I was glad I did.
Throughout the three decades of Rocky, all the actors remained the same except for who played Rocky Jr. Each film has a different actor. Milo Ventimiglia portrays the role last played by Sly’s own son, Sage in Rocky V. Other than that, Duke, Paulie, and Rocky himself are back. Adrienne is not back, her character died of “lady’s disease” before the start of the film. Some characters from the past are brought back. Spider Rico, Mary, Cuff and Link. Though Mary is not the same little girl actress from the original. This is where watching the first one again helped out in knowing who they were.
We open on Rocky being a restaurant owner. He tells tales to customers about is illustrious boxing career. He then goes around Philadelphia to all the places tha meant something to him and Adrienne. He visits the pet shop and the ice rink that is now a vacant lot. He has trouble dealing with the loss of his wife.
In the meantime, the public hates the current heavyweight champion Mason “The Line” Dixon, played by real life boxer Antonio Tarver. He has not had a decent fight in a long time and nobody wants to box him. A computer simulated fight puts our beloved hero Rocky, in his prime, in the ring with Dixon. The computer says that Rocky would win by a knockout. This gets Rocky to thinking that he is not done. There is still a beast inside him that needs to be fed.
Rocky then has to fight the boxing commission to grant him a license. After winning that fight, he is confronted with the idea of an exhibition bout with Dixon. After some thought, he decides to do it. Of course, a training montage precedes the fight. His usual energy drink of raw eggs makes an appearance, too. What is cool is that they filmed the fight after a real HBO Pay-Per-View fight. They got all the commentators to do the color commentary on the fight. Michael Buffer even does the ring announcement for the fighters. I read a review that stated that Stallone directs with very little inspiration until the fight itself.
I want to take a moment here to say that Stallone directs this first part of the film in the same tone as the original. Because of his love for the character and the franchise as a whole, this movie works. Without Stallone behind the camera, this movie would have been warped into something else entirely.The fight goes on and I am not going to give away the ending. But this film, to me, was very inspirational. I only hope that when I am 60, I am in that good of shape. Along the way, Rocky and other characters deliver insight to life.
Verdict: My wife thought it was sappy, but I ate it up. I went into this movie expecting a great film, and I left very satisfied. Rocky Balboa was the finale that Rocky V could only dream of being. Verdict: Obviously, I highly recommend seeing this film in theaters…. at least once. It will have you chanting: ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!
01 December 2006
Well, I took my eight-year-old cousin to see Happy Feet at the local IMAX theater. It wasn't a bad film, but I don't think it was a great film either. I guess I was expecting a movie more about the dancing penguins. Not a movie about singing penguins that cast the dancing penguin out. I was also not expecting the environmental political ending. It ended a few too many times for me, making the end of the movie drag out.
Happy Feet opens with penguins singing and falling in love. Then, the female penguins went off for the hunt, while the male penguins sat on the eggs. Poor little Mumbles (Elijah Wood), the unborn main star, rolls out away from papa penguin, Memphis (Hugh Jackman). When he hatches, he starts tap dancing. Memphis tells Mumbles to stop it, that it isn’t penguin, and to walk normal. When the females come back to the group, mothers get to meet their new babies. Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman) is the mom of Mumbles. She notices the funny dancing, but Memphis doesn’t mention the slip-up. So, to quicken this up, the rest of the penguins blame Mumbles for the fish leaving, and he is sent into exile. Along the way to solve the mystery of the fish leaving, he makes new friends, battles the weather, killer whales, and a fishing boat. Finally, he saves the day with his dancing. Ironic. Only not. It wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed the voices, the singing, the animation, and the start of the story.
So what worked against it? All the sexual innuendos started to bug me. This was a children’s movie. They exiled him for being different. Again, this was a children’s film and they are saying that being different is bad. Memphis, Mumbles own father, agrees to exile him. These are not good messages to send our youth.
In closing, I enjoyed myself. My cousin enjoyed herself. It was better than Cars, but not as good as Over the Hedge. It boasted a huge voice cast, but I barely recognized most of them. Apparently, the late Steve Irwin was a voice in it. I don’t remember his character or hearing his voice. I am just disappointed that Casino Royale was defeated two weeks in a row by Happy Feet.
Verdict: See it if you have the IMAX available to you. Otherwise, a DVD viewing would not hurt.
Well, I am sad to say, that when my wife suggested that we rent John Tucker Must Die, I was not opposed. I look a good revenge tale. So, we rented it. Well, I was kind of let down, but it deserves to be in the fresh category.
I could write this review full of funny castings and what the actors and actresses involved were in before this, but I don’t want to waste your time, and I don’t like to write long reviews for movies I see on DVD. Look them up on IMDB for yourself.
The story is simple. Three girls find out that John Tucker has played them for fools. He is the star basketball player and super cool guy. When new girl, Kate, enters the scene, she exposes their stupidity. This simple act leads from one thing to another and finally, we are given the plot. They are going to make this new girl irresistible to John, and then crush him.
As the story unfolds, tricks are played on poor Mr. Tucker. Yet, he seems to constantly spin them into his favor. When the time comes, John has changed, and Kate has fallen in love. What will happen? I am not going to tell you. But I will say that the ending was kind of a let down. The film is flawed. It has a bad underlying message of, “If you aren’t a cheerleader and cool, you are nothing.” Other than that, it is not too bad.
Verdict: It is worth the rent. I am glad that I did not pay to see it in theaters.
So, two rents in a row, I have lost to my wife. This time around, we rented The Lake House. I was not as happy about this one as I was about the previous one. Yet, again, I must sadly admit that I was fairly entertained by this movie.
We start out the film with Kate, Sandra Bullock, moving out of the lake house in question. Then, Alex, Keanu Reeves, moves into said lake house. But we quickly discover that they are living in two different years. They are both pathetic single people that use one another to help themselves feel better about their lives. I quickly put the ending twist together in the beginning. My wife, I don’t think she did. Through out the movie, we see them fall in love. We even see them have a fight through time. It has interesting shots. This is one of the few times that I will mention the director in my review, but Alejandro Agresti did a fantastic job with the shooting and direction of this film.
There is not a lot to say about this movie. I enjoyed it, but do not look too deep into it, or you will find many plot-holes. MANY. Another thing that I found interesting about this movie was the DVD cover. It had a quote about being unique. I found that funny. It is a remake of a Korean movie Siworea. Apparently, it focuses a bit more on the sci-fi aspect of the plot. I am going to track this movie down and rent it. It is under the title, il Mare.
Verdict: Rent it. Give it a watch. Just remember, do not look too much into it.
27 November 2006
I am the self-proclaimed largest James Bond fan on Earth. I am only twenty-four years old. For me, Bond fever started with Goldeneye on pay-per-view in 1996. Since then, I have seen all the films a minimum of four or five times. I have collected all the books by all the authors. I have read almost all of them. I have read the book Casino Royale many times before the movie came out. When I saw the preview and heard the reviews coming in, I knew what the torture scene was. I knew the fate of the key characters. I knew who was good and who was bad. Or did I?
With a few slight changes and updates, the new 007 film did the original story justice. Some weird things went on during this film though. The first one was easy to see. Miss Moneypenny and Major “Q” Boothroyd were nowhere to be found. There were a few places that Moneypenny could have been used in lieu of the character that was in the film. It was odd to not see Q. Though, Desmond Llewelyn was not in Dr. No or Live and Let Die either. But, Major Boothroyd did appear in Dr. No played by Peter Burton. The card game of choice was Texas Hold ‘Em instead of baccarat. And finally, during the opening credits and song, the little “music video” did not have silhouettes of women or women at all. That is not to mention that the song lacked something, too.
But before the song, the opening gambit was very enlightening. It shows James Bond, played by newcomer Daniel Craig, not yet a double-o agent making his first two kills to achieve that status. It was done in black and white to kind of give the feel of flashback. It was refreshing. This film was the story about the first mission Bond has as 007. He makes mistakes. He is not the refined, suave hitman that we have grown accustomed to over the past forty years. This was where most people did not follow. This movie helped explain why Bond is the way he is.
Casino Royale started off with a look at Le Chiffre, portrayed by Mads Mikkelson, making promises to keep money for “bad guys.” We later fins out that Le Chiffre is banker for the world’s terrorists. He puts their money in accounts and allows them access all over the world. Then, there was a tremendous free-running action scene with Bond chasing a man on foot through a construction site. It ended with a mistake by Bond. M, with Judi Dench back in the seat, then slaps him on the wrist. But not before he is able to find the next step into unraveling the mystery of what is going on.
This leads him to the Bahamas. Here, he finds the next lead in his quest. He finds a guy named Demetrius, and proceeds to play him at Texas Hold ‘Em. Bond defeats him winning his Aston Martin DB-5, right out of Goldfinger and Thunderball. After a humorous misunderstanding, Bond ends up with Demetrius’s wife. After a little “pillow talk,” Bond is off the Miami. There he thwarts a plot against an airliner. He then discovers that prior to 9/11, many shares of airline stocks were lost. Le Chiffre shorts them in the stock market to make money for himself using his clients’ money. Because of the plot against the airliner backfiring, he loses over $100 million. This leads him to host a $10 million buy-in poker game. Poker was substituted for the classic baccarat, not that anyone understood baccarat to begin with. All I know is, it has something to do with the number 9.
So, Bond is entered due to the fact that he is the best player in the agency, and he is off Montenegro to Casino Royale. On the train, we are introduced to the lovely Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green. They have a playful banter, but the bottom line is that she is from the treasury and will be fronting the money.
At the game, Bond forces Le Chiffre to lose all his money. But not before Bond loses his entire stash first and gets help from Felix Lieter, an American CIA agent that later becomes a close ally of Bond in the lore. This put Le Chiffre on the run. His clients know that he has lost all their money and will come for him. A double agent is shown and Bond is trapped after a phenomenal car accident. He is the tortured by a means straight out of the original novel.
Bond awakes to find more deception and more betrayal. In the end, Bond becomes Bond. The human emotions from the beginning are lost through the events of the film. It shows how he became the way he is. The final scene proves it all.
Ultimately, Daniel Craig has me convinced that he is the best bond since possibly Sean Connery himself. He may even be better. But, before I can make such an outlandish claim, I will have to see where he takes the character in future films. Casino Royale could possibly be the best 007 film ever made. It is better than anything Brosnan turned out, and I loved Goldeneye. It is better than both of Dalton’s attempts at the franchise. It is better than every Moore entry except maybe For Your Eyes Only, which is my current favorite. Of course, Lazenby’s only outing as the suave secret agent doesn’t even enter the same arena. So now, we are back to Connery. The newest entry in the 40-year-old franchise rivals From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, and Thunderball. It is by far, the best first film from any of the actors. As far as I am concerned, long live Bond, and let that Bond be Daniel Craig.
Verdict: See this at least once, I am currently planning my third trip to the cinema.
13 November 2006
This past weekend I went to see the new Will Ferrell flick Stranger than Fiction. I knew what I was getting into when I went. Obviously, the college crowd was not so informed. It reminded me of the crowd of people that went to see Punch Drunk Love or The Truman Show. It was fun to listen to them whisper amongst themselves as they slowly figure out that is not the slapstick comedy of Old School or Talladega Nights.
This was Ferrell’s foray into dramatic acting. This was his dramedy. He was completely unrecognizable. There has been a lot speculation that he will be nominated for a few awards. I hope he isn’t. That would be a travesty. If Jim Carrey cannot get nominated for any of his three great roles in The Truman Show, Man on the Moon, or Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind, then I do not think that it would be fair to nominate Ricky Bobby.
Now, on with my review.This was a very entertaining movie. Its great characters and their interaction with each other was the drving force in this film. The main character was an IRS auditor named Harold Crick. He has a very boring life that was timed to the second. It was about what happens to this man if he gets off his time schedule. Ferrell played Crick. He hears a voice that is narrating his life. Telling him how boring it was. Nobody else hears him or believes him until he met Prof. Jules Hilbert, played by Dustin Hoffman. This character had many nuances that made him a great character. Together, Hilbert and Crick try to figure out who's narrating his life so they can determine his fate, as the narrator has stated that he has an impending death. Hilbert devises many ways to determine if he is in a comedy or a drama. All were humorous.
Enter Kay Eifel. She's a writer struggling with writer’s block, played by Emma Thompson. Her publishers send over an assistant, Penny Escher, played by Queen Latifah. Together, they try and figure out the ending of her latest novel. Unfortunately for Mr. Crick, the end of the novel is his death.
Along the way, we meet Ana Pascal, Maggie Gyllenhaal. She's a baker that decided to only pay 78% of her taxes. Crick is sent to audit her. They have great chemistry on screen and create some of the best conflict.
The climax of movie occured when Eifel figures out how to kill Crick, but met him before she can finish. Then Hilbert read the novel to see if the end makes sense. Then Crick read it. A decision is made. And the end plays out.I have to say that this movie was a great feel-good movie.
Verdict: I spent the money, and so should you. Worth every dime.
09 November 2006
For those of you dreaming of a showdown between Wolverine and Batman, your time has come. This movie pits these two great actors against each other with the aid of Bruce Wayne’s Alfred. Ok, enough with the comic book references. Now, let us get on with the review.
This movie centers on the conflict between two rival magicians that used to be friends. It is told in a sort of flashback type writing. It opens with Borden on trial for the murder of Angier. But throughout the story, we find our characters feuding and fighting each other in the past.
The rivalry is started when Julia Angier, played by Piper Perabo, is killed during a trick. Her husband, Robert Angier, played by Hugh Jackman, accuses fellow audience plant Alfred Borden, played by Christian Bale, of tying the wrong knot. Michael Caine is Cutter. He is the backstage hand for the act. They all separate and go their own ways.
Borden moves on and gets married and had a child. He then decides to get back in to the magic business. He decides that his big finale trick is to catch a bullet. Angier, who has no been able to move on past the death of his wife, shows up and ruins the trick and shoots off the fingers of Borden.
Cutter then confronts Angier about setting up shop as a magician. They decide their finale is going to be a different take on an old favorite. Borden shows up and ruins the trick and gets Angier fired.
This goes on for a while until Borden comes up with a trick called “The Transporting Man.” In this trick, he bounces a ball across the stage and enters one closet and comes out on the other side of the stage in a totally separate closet and catches the ball.
Angier develops his own take on it. Borden ruins Angier’s take on it only causing Angier to obsess over how he did it. This is where Scarlet Johansen comes in. She plays the stagehand for Angier. She is sent over to Borden to figure out his secret. More tricks are played on the feuding magicians. Finally, Angier travels to America to meet with Tesla to have him build a machine to transport him.
The climax of the film is the 2 revelations that occur. Each magician has his secret. I followed Angier’s no problem, and I thought you were meant to until the last scene when the spell it out for those that are slow. Yet, Borden’s twist, I never saw it coming. I should have, though. This movie will be great to watch again, knowing the end and seeing all the signs along the way. Thinking back on the movie, I am mad at myself for not figuring it all out.
Now, I am going to make a quick, obvious comparison done by most. The Illusionist is a completely different style of movie and story. It was about illusions. That is why I figured it out and was not surprised by the twist ending. I enjoyed the film a lot. You can read my review on it. The Prestige is a story about revenge. This one is set more in a fantasy type world. Where Norton’s movie is set in reality, for the most part. Bale and Jackman battle in a world that is historical, but fantastical as well. I like both movies, but, if forced to choose, I would pick………..THE PRESTIGE.
Verdict: See this at least twice. Take your pick on where. I advise once in the theater, then rent it or buy it. Well acted, well directed, fully enjoyed.
I saw this movie last night in a sold out crown at 7:45pm on a Wednesday. That was nuts! I have never been to a show that was sold out in the middle of the week unless the movie opened in the middle of the week.
I am going to keep this short and sweet. There really isn’t much to say about this film that you haven’t already heard. It is hilarious. It is offensive. It is great. It is ingenious. One thing you might not know, it is about a man’s quest to marry Pamela Anderson.
This movie makes you feel awkward. You almost are ashamed to be an American. Yet, you also have to give the people in the movie some credit. Most are put in a very weird, unnatural position. I laughed the whole time. Did I curl up in a ball crying it was so funny? No. I laughed harder at 40-Year-Old Virgin, Dodgeball, and Wedding Crashers. But then, they were scripted. Borat and his companion trek across America and have some fun doing it. From buying a car, learning to drive a car, to humor school and a meeting with a feminist group, Borat makes you laugh.
This movie is not for the easily offended. It is very offensive at parts. But if you can handle it, see it. I think that the industry help build this movie up to the status that it has. It was in less than a fourth of the theaters that Santa Clause 3 was in, but it did more business. I think that opening it in additional 2200 theaters this weekend will not post the numbers that they think it will.
Verdict: See this in theaters! It will have you saying “HIGH FIVE!!” in no time.
04 November 2006
First off, this story is nothing new. I know that it is a kids movie, but still, I was bored. I like animated movies (see my Over the Hedge review). I just thought this one was boring and over done. Martin Lawrence was a horrible voice actor. Yet, Ashton was not that bad. Martin is a better live actor than Ashton, but in this circumstance, Ashton was better.
The story centers around Boog, a bear that was rescued as a cub by a park ranger named Beth, voiced by Debra Messing. She raises him and trains him. They perform an act in town. After a performance, they stop at the sheriff office. This is where poor old Elliot. A deer that was hit by a car and broke off one of his antlers. He is strapped to the hood of the truck driven by the law-breaking hunter Shaw, voiced by Gary Sinise. Boog frees Elliiot and so begins the mayhem.
That night, Elliot "frees" Boog and they go downtown and tear up the town, literally. This is the first warning given by the sheriff to Beth about letting Boog go. Then the next day, Shaw is trying to catch/kill Elliot, and Elliot ends up ruining Beth and Boog's performance and making Beth free Boog. She drops them off via helicopter above the falls so that the hunters will not get them. Well, more mayhem ensues while Boog tries to find his way back to the city and Elliot faces his demons in the forest. They end up at the bottom of the falls and hunting season Opens. They then have to fight for their lives. At the end, Boog has to decide where he is going to live.
It was fairly funny, but nothing that had me laughing as I did at Over the Hedge. All in all, it was a decent family film, but not in the league of Finding Nemo, Toy Story, or Shrek.
Verdict: Worth the matinee prices for you and your little one.
23 October 2006
From the opening scene, I felt like I was back in the 80s with Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Lundgren, Segal, Weathers, and/or Van Damme. This had that same generic action film feel. Basically, what I am trying to say is, I was in heaven. I miss a good old action movie every now and then. This felt that way. I was ready for the next Stallone. I was hoping that Cena could maybe franchise on this and become the next Rambo. Read below for my results.I
t opens with John Triton, John Cena, in Iraq at a terrorist camp. He is there to do some reconnaissance for the Marines. The bad guys have three American troops tied and bound and ready to be slain. Triton is told to wait for the back-up to show. Of course, there is no time, and he goes in alone, just like Jack Bauer in season four of 24. He takes out 7 or 9 hostiles in his saving of the 3 troops. Cut to a weight room scene in Germany. Triton is then honorably discharged because of his service, but discharged nonetheless for disobeying a direct order. So, we see him come back to his home in South Carolina to his beautiful wife Kate, played by Kelly Carlson of Nip/Tuck fame.
Now, Robert Patrick enters the film as sociopath Rome. He is the leader of the 5-member posse of jewel thieves. They rob a jewelry store of multi millions of dollars in diamonds. It is a very elaborate and fun robbery. They then proceed to blow up a police car and escape.
Back to Triton. John goes to work as a security guard at a building. After an obvious confrontation, he is fired and the fight is caught on tape. He and his wife decide to go on a road trip to try and help him acclimate to the civilian life.
Now, here is where the story is pure eighties. While the Triton family is filling up their Lincoln Navigator’s gas tank, the band of thieves show up at the same gas station to fill their gas tank. A police cruiser Camero shows up. The bad guys get jumpy, and kill them. This prompts John to try and save his wife, but he his knocked down. The bad guys steal his Navigator and his wife. They also blow up the gas station; the only survivor is of course John, somehow. John calls the police on the trashed cruiser’s CB radio. He then goes into pursuit of the robbers. After a fun, but kind of ordinary, car chase, they think that they have killed Triton. But you can’t kill Triton. A humorous reference to The Terminator which Patrick was part of the sequel was made. That was probably the only funny line in the movie. A few were uttered by Rome, but Morgan’s, another of the posse, were just plain awful.
More action ensues, more explosions, more fights, and more weird and pointless story lines. They attempted a plot twist, but it was obvious. More humor was attempted, but again, not funny. In the climactic finale, Triton jumps onto a semi truck cab being driven by Rome. Kate is handcuffed to the truck cab in the back. After being driven through a few buildings, Triton finally loses his grip. But that doesn’t stop him. Rome dives out of the semi as its plummets into the lake with Kate trapped inside. After a five minute, terribly awful and unbelievable fight, Triton jumps in and gets her out. Attempts CPR, but Rome is not dead yet. He attacks Triton like the final villain in Die Hard. Luckily, Kate is revived and the day is saved.
Now, I know that I used the word “unbelievable” up the above paragraph. I know that there is a lot more in this movie that is unbelievable, but, when watching this movie, I have a certain amount that I let slide. But in the end, it pushed that limit too far. I would have given this movie a 7, maybe even an 8 if it were not for the terrible finale. There were other factors that I left out as to why I rate this movie as low as I did. I typically like action movies. I especially like mindless action movies. But I had high hopes for this, and it fell short. Cena as an actor was not that great, but that was not shocking. Unfortunately, this was not in the same league as Predator, Rambo, Under Siege, or even Time Cop. But for a first go at it, not too shabby.
Verdict: Rent it if you want to, but it is not worth $10. I only paid $4 because I found a theater that has early matinee prices on Saturday and Sunday.
18 October 2006
The Departed was a nice, fresh mobster film from genre vet Martin Scorsese. I enjoyed his bio picture, The Aviator, last year, but it was not this good. After Bringing Out the Dead, I was not sure that Scorsese would ever be the same. Then came Gangs of New York, it was a good movie, but not this good. Two years ago, Scorsese was out-directed by Academy Award winner, now two-time winner, Clint Eastwood. I have to say, this year, Martin Scorsese has set the bar awfully high for Mr. Eastwood.
After thinking about this movie, I found no faults with it. With such a large and diverse cast, I would have thought that someone would have stood out as the bad apple. Not the case here. Each actor was superb. Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a phenomenal performance as Billy Costigan. He is a Boston Police Recruit that is set-up to be kicked out and then go undercover as a rat in Costello’s mob. Leo should earn his third Oscar nod this year. Jack Nicholson portrays Frank Costello. He is the take-no-prisoners mob leader. Look for a nomination here for Jack this year making it his thirteenth. Matt Damon plays Boston State Police Detective Colin Sullivan. He is the police leak to Frank. Matt could be looking at his first nomination since Good Will Hunting. Other actors not be overlooked are Alec Baldwin as the leader of the Organized Crime Unit, Martin Sheen as the Police Chief and one of two people who know the true identity of Billy Costigan, and Mark Wahlberg as the other who knows the identity. He is a quick-witted, smart-mouthed police officer. Each of these performances along with the rest of the cast, were exceptional.
The story centers on the Boston police trying to take down the organized crime leader Frank Costello. They have a whole division set up to concentrate on this. Sullivan infiltrates this police organization and helps keep Frank one step ahead of the police. On the other side of things, the police have Billy Costigan infiltrate Frank’s mob and keep the cops in step with Costello. Both sides of the law are then faced with trying to smoke out the rat in their organization. Each side is aware of the leak, and both sides try and plug it. They race to see who can find the leak and shut the other one down. People are caught in the crossfire both figuratively and literally with both sides taking casualties. Both rats are battling with hiding their true identities as the other side gets closer and the leaders narrow the search. Loyalty is tested. Time is tested.
A friend asked me, who hasn’t seen the movie, if it is like The Godfather where you are pulling for the bad guy. In this movie, you can chose which character you pull for. I think that most people are going to be pulling for Leonardo.
For the whole two hours and twenty odd minutes, we are treated to a violent, brutal, gritty portrayal of cops and robbers. Everything is right with this movie. The directing, the acting, the script, the music, the editing, everything.
I know that this movie is based on the Japanese film Infernal Affairs. I recently purchased this movie off the Internet and currently I am waiting its arrival. I know that Brad Pitt bought the US rights to it and that he and ex-wife Jennifer Aniston produced it. I am looking forward to watching the original. I have heard that it is fantastic. I also heard that the two films, despite their likenesses, they also have their differences. I cannot wait to see the other one. I will write my review for that later.
I feel that I have not even scratched the surface as to the greatness of this film.
Verdict: See this movie, at least once. It can only get better with more viewings. On a scale of 1 to 10, this movie is at least a 10.
11 October 2006
Last night, I had the privilege of viewing Jason Statham’s latest action phenomenon. He is an action guru. Crank was one of the freshest action movies I have seen in a very long time. The opening scene scared me though. It showed Statham’s character, Chelios, walking toward to camera and his voiceover stating that he would be dead in an hour. This only reminded me of the beginning to American Beauty, one of my least favorite Best Picture winners, but that is a different story for a different day. Now, before reading further, remember, I am a huge action movie junkie.
Other than the opening scene, it has no more ties to American Beauty. The movie cuts to Chelios waking up and feeling hung over, but not from drinking, we soon find out. He finds a DVD cleverly labeled to get his attention. Once viewed, he realizes that he has about an hour to live due to a drug in his system. He is going to die due to a hit that he performed for a drug cartel. He is going to die from a drug. Irony?
So, we follow Chelios on his quest for final revenge on the people that did this to him. He discovers that adrenaline keeps him alive. That leads to a hilarious montage of ways to keep his blood pumping. We see waffle irons, fights, head banging to “Achy Breaky Heart,” stealing Red Bull, stealing caffeine pills, stealing cop motorcycles, and more in his quest to keep his adrenaline pumping.
As the movie progresses, we meet his drug addict girlfriend Eve, played by Amy Smart. She is a totally different character from anything she has played. She was excellent. Amy needs to bank on movies as much as possible now that Smith was cancelled after 3 episodes. We also meet a friend of his, Kaylo, played by Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite. This was another interesting change of character for Efren Ramirez. He plays a gay guy that I am not really sure how he knows Chelios, or what his connection to him is, or what exactly Kaylos does. But he was funny. Dwight Yoakam plays Doc Miles, that I am pretty sure is not a licensed practitioner. He helps keep Chelios going.
In the end, Chelios comes face to face with the last of the bad guys in a helicopter fight. The gunfight leading to this point was decent. The plot got a little thick at the end. By a little, I mean, it added a few things, but nothing major. I do enjoy a little plot with my explosions and bullets. Great last shot to end film, too. Enough said about the story.
While on the subject of the last shot, the directing was awesome. It was like Grand Theft Auto meets MTV. For the 80 odd minutes of the film, I was never bored or looking at my watch. The directing was frantic, but that was the pace and point ogf the film. This was the directing debut of both Mark Neveldine and Brain Talyor. They both wrote the film as well. I anxiously look forward to their next venture.
On a final note before my verdict, there was a chase scene with a VW Rabbit convertible. I love Volkswagen.
Verdict: pay the money to see this in theaters if you like loud movies. If not, rent it so you can turn it down. But, see this movie, especially fi you are an action junky like yours truly.
3 Fast, 3 Furious: Let this be the last.
I had the displeasure of watching this piece of garbage in the comfort of my own home. Thank goodness for that. I didn't understand the movie from the get-go. A piece of white trash races his suped up jalaopy against a football player's daddy's Viper. OK, fine. But then, the race was lame, but original. But then, the rich kids get off completely clean. Not for our hero WHITE TRASH BOY. Our superhero then has to go to Tokyo to live with his Naval father who happens to be building a classic Camero, I mean Mustang, in a garage.
For some reason, White Trash Boy, or WTB for short, ends up at a school with Bow Wow, not to be confused with his formal self Lil Bow Wow. In 30 years, he will be Ol Bow Wow. They become BFF. Now, on their first day of meeting, they go to a parking garage where they drift. A style of racing where the cars slide around corners as opposed to turn around them. This is where I totally gave up on the movie. Not because of the drifting, but because of the Yakuza. That's right, the Japanese mafia. The best drifter, DK, for Donkey King, I mean, Drift King, is a child molester. He and WTB are fighting over the same girl. So, being all macho, WTB challenges him. Why? He doesn't know how to drift. He barely knows the girl. And he certainly doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of beating the DK.
After the loss, there is an attempt at a plot in which a guy that loaned him a car to destroy becomes a new BFF but he is ripping off the Yakuza. He teached WTB how to drift. The GF knows how to drift, too. But she doesn't race.So, it all comes down to the final conflict in which WTB has to clear his name or the Yakuza will have his head. "What is WTB's solution to the problem?" you ask. Well, since you asked, he decides they will race for it. Of course, this is ok with the Yakuza. DK choses the course that only he has finished. So, remember that Mustang? They make that into a drift car for WTB to compete in. Well, he wins, clearing himslef with the Yakuza and becoming the new DK.
Vin Diesel makes a terrible cameo at the end. Just thought I would ruin that, too. Well, actually, I tell you in hopes that you feel that you have seen this movie and do not waste time and/or money on it.Another problem with the film is that you cannot recognize the cars that they are driving. They have too big of body kits, too much paint, and too much other crap on them to even tell what they are.
One plus, all the driving is real. No CGI. That is impressive. I just don't understand why eveything in this film had to suck. Not that I was expectng anything better after the very bad first sequel. To sum it up, this movie could have been improved had they cast Paul Walker instead of Lucas Black.
Verdict: STAY AWAY FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!
09 October 2006
You can count the amount of soccer movies made on a little more than one hand. Now, I am a big soccer fan, but soccer movies are typically not worth the watch. Actually sports movies in general are not worth the watch. They are all the same. When I think back, the only ones that really stand out in my mind are Major League, Remember the Titans, Rocky, Mystery Alaska, and Cool Runnings. Of course I missed a few good ones in there, but that was a quick list. When it comes to Goal! The Dream Begins, however, I might have to add this to my list. I was a big fan of Bend it like Beckham, but this one is better. Both movies focused on race and being out of place, and the love of the game.
The movie opens with the lead, Santiago, and his family sneeking over the Amreican border. Little Santiago loses his soccer ball, and has to leave it behind. Cut to now. Santiago and his father work for a landscaper doing lawn maintanece. Santiago plays soccer on the weekends with a local league. There he is a star. An Englishman, that used to be an agent and player, just happens to be at the game, offers him a try out in England. Now, I don't know how much you know about soccer, but England is the Mecca of soccer. The only catch is, Santiago has to find his own way there. His father warns him that if he leaves America, he can't get back in because he was illegal to begin with. He goes against his father and goes back across the border to catch a flight over to England. This all takes place in the first 40 minutes of the 2 hour story. It felt longer, but it was not slow or boring at all.
Now, he has his try out in the rain. It is a totally different game in the rain and mud. Santiago, being from LA, does not fair well on the pitch. So, he is cut. But determination gets him back in. He eventually makes the reserver team. From there, he befriends the team captain, gets mixed up in parties, finds a girl, and becomes a star.
I have left a lot out of the plot ad story because I would hate to ruin this movie. It has great emotional parts. Being illegal comes back to haunt him. His family plays a big part. His relationships with teammates and girlfriend move to movie along.
Despite its slowness that is NOT felt, it was a stupendous film that makes me mad that I did not get to see it in theaters. This is the first movie of a trilogy. The studio spent $100 million on the whole trilogy. Soccer movies do not have the box office draw in America, or anywhere for that matter. This great film should have had a budget closer to $10 million instead of $33 million. The second one is being finished now, but I doubt that they will finish the third after the second only makes $4 million like the first.
If you like sports movies at all, rent this movie and enjoy it. Then go see the second in theaters to help get to the third. This could be a great trilogy, I just hope I get to see it all.
Verdict: worth the $5 rent.
Akeelah and the T-R-I-T-E, trite.
This movie could not have been more cliche. Here is a girl, Akeelah, who happens to be smart in a city school in south California. It is not "cool" for her to be smart. She decides not to do the spelling bee because she does not want to be made fun of. So, the principal, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, catches her skipping class and makes a deal with her to not be in trouble if she participates in the school bee.
Well, to make a short story shorter, she wins the school bee. Lawrence Fisburne plays a washed up UCLA professor that was once a competitor in the bee. He becomes her trainer. I did not know that they needed training. I did learn interesting strategies if I ever decide to compete spelling bees, professionally. Her mom is a single mom, Akeelah's father was shot and killed before the start of the movie, but apparently, he loved words. Her mother does not approve of the bee because, well, I don't really know. She compares being out late studying words to her older son out late with the local gangster.
Well, Akeelah goes on to finish third in the region behind her new found Spanish friend Javier and the Asian spelling guru Dillon. He has finished second 2 years in a row and this is his year, according to his overbearing father.
So, they go to the National Spelling Bee where she ends up in the final 2 against, you guessed it Dillon. I don't want to give the ending away, but, her whole community is behind the little poor girl from the ghetto, and not the idea that its not cool to be smart. Yay! When finished with this movie, I wanted to watch something violent, with explosions and gunfights, and I was mentally drained from all the big words.
Was it worth the $5 rent?
Verdict: Not really. I say cable is the best bet for this one. If I want an inspirational movie, I watch Rocky. If I want an underdog movie, I watch Dodgeball.
11 September 2006
I really wanted to see this movie. I waited for it to come to St. Louis. That was weird. When I lived in Chicago, I didn't have to wait often. But anyway, it came to the Hi-Pointe Theater in Clayton. If you are in the St. Louis Area, and haven't been to this theater, this would be a great time to go. This movie is wonderful and the theater is something else.
After my disappointment with Down in the Valley, I was hoping this movie would resecure my trust in Edward Norton. It did. I did not care to see Lady in the Water, I heard it was bad, and decided not to waste my money, so, I was hoping this movie would resecure my trust in Paul Giamatti. It did. And probably the greatest illusion of the film, even Jessica Biel was decent.
It opens on a scene with Eisenhiem the Illusionist sitting in a chair and a ghost-ish aparition appearing to his right. Then, Chief Inspector Uhl, Giamatti, arresting him. Then we go back. We see that Eisenhiem was a childhood friend and boyfriend to Sophie, Biel. She was royalty of sorts and not allowed to see Eisenhiem again. Your typical Romeo and Juliet.
Then we cut to the "present time" in the movie, which is not the present 2006. We then see Eisenheim come to Venice and give a magic show. The people love him. At his next perfomance, has asks for a volunteer. Crown Prince Leopold, played by Rufus Sewel, offers his girfriend. This just happens to be Sophie. The old fire re-ignites and a battle ensues. Poor Sewel is once again fighting a peasant for the hand of royalty. Sound familiar? It was him who lost to Ledger in A Knight's Tale.
Anyway, back the story. Sophie turns up dead after she has a fight with Leopold. She is seen leaving the castle hunched over her horse. Her body is found in a river with a laceration to the neck from a knife or sword.
This unfortunate even puts Eisenheim on the trail to prove Leopold killed her and Uhl on the trail to prove Eisenheim wrong. As the plot thickens, the illusions get stranger, and Uhl gets more torn as to who killed her.
Verdict: The ending was fantastic. I do not know how to describe it. It was just a really fun and entertaining movie to watch. This was well worth the low $6 admission. I would have gladly paid the full $10 I was accustomed to in Chicago. If you are lucky enough to have this movie in one of your local cinemas, you should make a point to see it.
24 August 2006
Last night I had the privilege of seeing the new movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson., Gridiron Gang. I did not expect much going into it. It looked like Remember the Titans meets The Longest Yard, but with different gang members as opposed to different races. I enjoyed the movie; make no doubts about that. It just did not have anything new. We have all seen this story before. Kids with nothing, who hate each other, come together to achieve a goal. It is based on a true story, which was played, in part, during the credits, a great and emotional part of the film.
The Rock stars as a juvenile detention center “guard/instructor.” He and his co-worker, Xhibit, decide that after their latest delinquent is released and killed a short time later, that they are not making a dent in these kids and getting them straightened out. So, they decide a football team will help them. Of course, there is opposition from one of the staff members. The team is made anyway, and they train in three weeks for their first game. They lose, horribly. This shuts down the program, but the kids bring it back. They lose again, but they decide after this loss that they need to come together in order to win. After that, they begin to win. Gang wars begin. The kids are torn between their “hood” and their love for football. Guess which one wins over?
One problem that the movie faced was that the poor writing. The script seemed childish. It sounded like a few middle school kids wrote it. They gang talk was decent, but the adult dialog was terrible. Another problem was that they tried so hard to be funny at times that needed to remain serious. I think that it would have pulled more heartstrings if it kept the serious tone. It could have been a better movie, too.
Verdict. I did enjoy myself. I liked it more than Take the Lead. Which was the same story, only they were not in jail, just detention, and they danced. Gridiron Gang is worth the watch, but do not expect to come out it with a whole new outlook on life.
21 August 2006
This weekend, I chose to stay home and watch one of the 30+ titles I have on DVD that I have never seen instead of go watch another piece of Hollywood drab. Unfortunately, I chose The New World. This was a very long, very boring, very uneventful movie. At no point in the movie was I entertained or mildly amused. Terrence Malick managed to bore me as much this time as he did last time I watched one of his historical "epics, " The Thin Red Line. I have to say that I was surprised at how boring and uneventful the movie was. I saw the preview while working in a theater, but it never opened wide enough for me to have a chance to see it. I thought the preview made it look excellent, so "Kudos" to whoever did the preview, you got me. I don't even know what to say about this movie. It chronicles the life of Pocahontas, though they never mention her by name. John Smith, played by Colin Farrell, was a soft spoken, hard to hear character that seemed to be the central character until he leaves 80 minutes into the movie. Then enters Christian Bale as John Rolfe, who ends up marrying Pocahontas. He is equally soft spoken and hard to hear. There really was no character that could be heard. The whole movie moved as the speed of snail, and was hard to follow due to the inability to hear the dialog.
Verdict: I do not reccommend this movie to rent, purchase, watch on HBO or even TBS. I can't even count how many times I looked at the DVD player to see how much more pain I had to endure.
08 August 2006
Miami Vice, not Miami Nice
“Hey, Crockett! Where’s Tubbs?” A great line delivered by James Gandolfini in the 5th season of The Sopranos. It is very applicable to the new movie as well. I thought that Michael Mann’s take on his precious 80’s hit show, Miami Vice, did not have enough Tubbs. The scenes that they shared on screen were great. I thought that they had good chemistry. I was hoping that Mann’s new film would be better than his last. Collateral was a dark, gritty, hardcore movie that was made even better with the great acting thanks to Mann veteran Foxx and Tom Cruise. Foxx having worked with Mann on two previous engagements, Ali and Collateral, gave me even more hope of this film being awesome. I am a huge fan of the show. I am a huge fan of Heat, also by Mann. I like Farrell a lot as well. After seeing his performance in his last TV–show based movie, S.W.A.T., I thought he would make a good vice cop.
I read on www.IMDB.com stated that Edward James Olmos turned down the role of Lt. Martin Castillo. Why? What does he have going on? The next season of Battlestar Gallactica? The site also listed that the composer of the show, Jan Hammer, turned down doing the score. Again, I ask, why? I went with my Miami Vice t-shirt on, and bought my ticket with pride. I still went into it with high hopes. Well, I got a 7.5 maybe an 8. I also got an old couple that talked through the whole movie and did not follow it. They didn’t understand that this was not Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas.
In an issue of Entertainment Weekly, they had an article that discussed all the problems with the filming that went on during the shoot. They also dispelled a lot rumors. What I found interesting was that it said that Mann removed the original opening of the film. It was supposed to be a boat race in the daylight. He took it out to keep the movie in darkness, for the most part. Another interesting thing the article mentioned was that Mann was torn about using the Nonpoint recent cover of Phil Collins hit song “In the Air Tonight” before the final showdown. Collins’s song played before the finale of the pilot episode. Well, he decided not to go with it. With Olmos, Hammer, and “In the Air Tonight,” Mann succeeded in making this completely different than the TV-show.
Yet, there was a lot that was the same. The duo was chasing a drug dealer. They used lots of boats. There was lots of gunfights, womanizing, and explosions. Crockett still had his Ferrari, but no boat or Elvis. Zito, Switek, Trudy, and Gina were all there, but not necessarily mentioned by name. And the ultimate similarity: the bad guy does not get away. There was an impressive opening scene with car chases, gunfights and the like. Then the plot sets in. Then there is about 90 minutes of set-up until the finale. This middle ground was too long. Some scenes were not needed and moved the plot nowhere. This caused some people in the theater to start talking and get irritated. But then, when the final showdown goes down, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind, that we were watching Michael Mann on top of his game.
During the movie, I noticed that a majority of the scenes from the previews were not in the trailer. This only makes me want to get the extended DVD whenever it comes out. Mann also shot the whole movie in HD, so, it looks like I will be buying an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray DVD player, whichever format it goes with.
I think that I need to see this movie again, without the old people talking, to catch the whole dialog and entire movie. There is one scene where Tubbs sets up to find the leak in the agency. I don’t know where the leak was thanks to the old people. I would say, go see this movie. It needs to make $150 million or there will be no sequel. And lets face it, Miami Vice was a more beloved TV-show than Mission: Impossible. They have made three of those movies, so far. It was also more recent. What happened here? I liked the movie enough to want to see more. I still do not understand why they never made another S.W.A.T. movie. It made a fortune.
Verdict: I would like to see this become a franchise. Well worth my $10. But it does have a 146-minute running time. Look at it this way, more bang for your buck. It would be a better use of two and half hours of your time than Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
25 July 2006
I recently relocated to St. Louis. I moved down here from Chicago. There are a lot of differences between the two cities, but thank goodness they both have an IMAX. I saw Singer’s latest foray into comic book movies, Superman Returns, in the IMAX out the south side of St. Louis. I have to say, totally worth the extra $1.
I watched the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies before going to see this one. I think that it helped. The Lex Luthor of the television series Smallville and Superman: The Animated Series is such a different approach to the character, that I forgot the Gene Hackman version. I also enjoyed watching Christopher Reeve himself. This helped me appreciate Brandon Routh’s take even more. Brandon was able to channel Christopher in his stumbling, clumsy Clark Kent. He also made a great Superman. While I am on the casting, Kevin Spacey was absolutely fabulous as the over the top, over smart, land hungry, bald Lex. As for Kate Bosworth, she was not “swell.” She was the weakest link in this film. Sam Huntington made a decent Jimmy Olsen, though one thing I have noticed about the film versions of Superman is that they tend to play down the character of Jimmy. Back in the 50s with George Reeves, Jack Larson was as important as Lois Lane or Perry White. In Lois & Clark, he was integral as well. Yet, in the film versions, he is not well developed or used. Frank Langella made the best Perry White since Lane Smith, may he rest in peace. And I don’t want to forget about little Parker Posey. Her Kitty Kowalski made a fantastic replacement for Miss Teschmacher. Fans of the old Adventures of Superman show will be happy to see Noel Niel and Jack Larson in cameo appearances.
“Great Caesar’s Ghost!” The script had many lines that referred to the first two 1970s movies as well as the old 50s show. I liked that. It gave those of us that have seen them and enjoyed them a deeper connection with the new film.
Superman Returns tackles storylines that I do not think the comic books would attempt. Without giving spoilers, well, I can’t even do it. As for the plot, it was well developed and fit the tone of its predecessors. Since the movie was supposed to take place after the second film from 1980, the computer incident with Richard Pryor has not happened, nor the engagement to Lana Lang. So, Superman returns after a mysterious 5-year absence since astrologers found remains of his home planet, Krypton. Upon the triumphant return of Superman with a plane crash, he finds that the world has survived without him. His biggest fan won a Pulitzer Prize for and article titled, “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman,” has a son, and is engaged to Richard White, the nephew of Perry. Clark is then forced to try to come to terms with things have changed in his absence. Lois’s world is thrown in disarray as her love for the Man of Steel re-ignites. This creates a “love-square” between Lois, Clark, Superman, and Richard. The love story does a wonderful job pulling on the viewers’ heartstrings.
In the mean time, Lex is loose and visits the Fortress of Solitude. There, he gains all the knowledge he needs to hatch his next evil plot. Without giving too much away, Luthor puts his plan into action and it is up to Superman to stop him. He plans to make land with the knowledge from Jor-El, and sell it for a premium price. The one plot hole that bugged me, was that Lex stabs Superman with a knife-like piece or kryptonite and as soon as it is pulled out of him, Superman recovers quickly. Yet, when a sliver of kryptonite was embedded in him, he goes into a “coma” even after it is removed. I don’t get it.
The movie’s visual effects were amazing. They didn’t over do them like I had feared may happen. The whole airplane crash in the beginning was breathtaking and an original take on the famous scene. Now, as for the 3D portions of the film, there were four different segments. The first was during his flashback of Smallville, Kansas. That scene was decent, but nothing spectacular. The next was during the heroic airplane scene. This made the scene even more spectacular. This was my favorite 3D scene and made the $1 worth spending. The third scene was where the new land was rising out of the ocean. It reminded me of the scenes in Spy Kids 3D. They looked like they were made for the 3D effect. I think that the scene would have been the same in 2D. But the boat on the “spire” was pretty cool. The fourth and final scene in the third dimension was at the very end when Superman is flying around the city and the off the screen into space. It lasted like 45 seconds. It was pretty stupid. Superman looked 3D, but the cityscape looked flat.
Verdict: I have to say that I was disappointed. I was expecting a 10, but I only got a 9.5. I loved it, just not as much as I was hoping I would. I am disappointed in the box office numbers it has been pulling, too. Where are all the Bryan Singer fans that hated Brett Ratner? Why didn’t they go see Singer’s new film twice and help it gross more than X3?
As a fair warning to all, the movie does have an impressive running time of over 2 hours and 40 minutes.
I, personally, saw this movie for $0.50. It pays to buy a lot of DVD’s, especially if they contain free tickets to movies. I did, however, offer to see it again with a family member. I will see this movie again in theaters, and you should, too.
On a side note, Superman fans should rent and/or buy Look! Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman documentary. Totally worth the $9.96 and 110 minutes.
Devil Wears Thin in the End
I wanted to see this movie for a few reasons. The number one reason, Anne Hathaway is hot. That reason alone got me through this movie. With that said, on with my review.
The Devil Wears Prada centers on a homely girl named Andy, and her journey in New York trying to make it in the journalism world. She goes to work for Runway magazine, which is not a real magazine, my wife tells me. Here, she works for Meryl Streep. This was a great casting and acting job. Streep portrays Miranda Priestly, a boss that we all fear we might have to, or might have to again, work for. She walks around with her nose up in the air. She tends to ask for outrageous things, and expects them to be done. Some charades include getting the 7th book in the Harry Potter series and getting her steak lunch before the restaurant opens. You see Andy grow into the assistant that Ms. Priestly needs. These changes in Andy cause her friends and boyfriend to always remain second in her life. The movie focuses on the relationship Andy has with her boss and co-workers and with her old friends. It also begs the questions, “What are you willing to do, how far are you willing to go, what are you willing to sacrifice, to get what you want?”
In the beginning, the jokes and situations were funny, the script was witty, and I enjoyed myself. In the last half hour, I am not sure what happened to this movie. It became a movie about friendship, losing who you are, and finding yourself. It became so sentimental that I almost gagged. Anne Hathaway was great, Stanley Tucci was great, Meryl Streep was great, and the ending was just not what I wanted to see. My wife, being the Devil’s Advocate, told me, “That’s the way the book ended. It was based on the girl’s real life and that's what happened.” I don’t care. I didn’t like the ending. It was based on a book by the same title about the author’s true-life experience working for Vogue magazine. I liked the movie enough not to cry over the loss of $10, but I think it could have been better.
Verdict: Save the $10 and rent this in 5 weeks. I feel bad leaving a review this short, but there is not a whole lot to say.
I loved the first Pirates of the Caribbean. I think that it should have been nominated for Best Picture instead of Master and Commander a few years back. I think that Johnny Depp’s nomination was well deserved. I think that Gore Verbinski ought to have been nominated for his direction. Hans Zimmer’s music was also divine. When the trailer for the second came out, I watched it over and over and over again. When the reviews started coming out for it, I was appalled to see how many critics did not enjoy the second installment. As I mentioned in a previous review, I recently relocated to St. Louis. That moved set me back a week or two in seeing the new releases. So, by the time I got around to seeing this movie, I had heard from critics and friends, that it was not good. Pajiba’s headline was “Too Much of a Mediocre Thing.” Sadly, I agree.
In the first hour of this 150-minute “epic” nothing of any importance happens. It reminded me a lot of Peter Jackson’s King Kong. In this first 60 minutes of pain, they try to scare you with this mystery of what the plot might be. They don’t tell you. It is all whispers and hush-hush. There is also plenty of dazzling visual effects, which have no point in the plot or movie either. The only thing that is set-up in the beginning is that Will and Elizabeth are arrested for helping Jack escape in the first film. Their Captors then use this to blackmail Will into getting a compass from Jack Sparrow. Also, for some reason, some tribe thinks that Jack Sparrow is a God of some sort. That led to mayhem and pointless visual effects and boring script. Finally, after an hour of nonsense, the plot is revealed.
The plot is actually not that bad. It tells the tale of how Jack made a deal with Davy Jones so he would raise the Black Pearl from the ocean’s depths and that he would be captain for thirteen years. Then, after thirteen years, he owes his soul to Davy Jones. They mumbled part of this in the first hour, but you couldn’t understand what Will Turner’s father is saying. We also find out the past story of Davy Jones. His love left him because he loved the sea too much, so he put his heart in a chest, and locked it. So, Sparrow needs to find the key, then find the box, and stab the heart to cancel his debt with Davy. So, visual effects ensue that are so intense that you get bored with them. I love visual effects, and I got bored. I just wanted the scenes to end so that the story could continue. There was a really big squid-octopus-like creature that attacked and ate ships. Davy controlled this sea monstrosity. The Flying Dutchman, the boat that Davy travels on, is apparently a submarine as well as a ship. More visual effects were required to show that.
Finally, the climactic final battle happens, and the story doesn’t end. It turns out that the final joke is on us as viewers. This entire movie’s purpose was to set-up the third. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest could not, and will not, stand alone as a separate adventure of Will, Jack, and Elizabeth. I thought that this movie was just going to be a new adventure. But it was just an episode. Now we all have to wait a year for the next one to open in theaters. If I had known this going into it, I don’t think that I would have been as disappointed. And by known, I mean, had the studio told us this, or marketed it in a way that we could have figured it out.
Verdict: If you like sound and visual effects as much as I do, I say you need to see this movie in theaters. I am glad that I did. If you are like my wife, and you want to see a “good” movie in theaters, then rent this. Let’s face it, with the way the studios waste no time getting movies to video, why spend the $10? After seeing this movie, I have met my quota of visual effects for a while.
21 June 2006
I live in Chicago and was severely inconvenienced for a week while trailers were parked on my street for the filming of this movie. I did, however, go out and watch a 3 second scene be filmed one night. I did get to see Jennifer. By the way, she is really small and really skinny. I was psyched to see this movie. When the reviews were bad, I could not believe it. I still wanted to see it. Jennifer Aniston playing Rachel....good. Vince Vaughn in a comedic role....good. Jon Favreau in a small supporting role....good. Things seemed to add up. My new wife, who was in town at the time it was filming, decided this would be a great first movie to see as a married couple. The Break-Up? I am sure there is logic in there somewhere.
It opens with a shot of Wrigley Field. I am a White Sox fan myself. Jon Favreau is wearing a Sox jersey and making fun of the Cubs and their terrible playing. I LOVED IT!! After that scene, the movie went downhill, and fast. Every scene dragged on for about 2 minutes longer than needed. They get into a fight, that lasted too long, over.....well, over nothing really. Just a gigantic amount of built-up anger. I can relate. But then, things kept getting worse. The story went nowhere. I got bored. I can't even remember how many times I looked at my watch during this movie. At first, the characters seemed to have substance, but they got me good on that joke. The only redeeming factor to the movie was Jon Favreau. His lines were hilarious, his delivery of them hilarious, he is hilarios. The movie, well, lacked being hilarious.
Verdict....waste of $20 plus concessions.
It opened with an over confident rookie car names Lighting McQueen in his trailer before the "big race" to decide who wins the cup. The goes on, and it comes down to the top three cars, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and McQueen. I meen, The King, Chick Hicks, and McQueen. Well, there is a three-way tie. They decided to have a race in California in one week to determine the winner. Along the way to California, Mack, voiced by long-time Pixar vocalist John Ratzenberger, falls alseep and is assaulted by Vin Diesel's crew from The Fast and the Furious. That was kinda cute. McQueen falls out of the trailer and does not know it. He wakes up and triesto catch up with Mack and ends up in Radiator Springs. It is a lost city on old Route 66 before I-40 is put in and bypasses it. After he tears up the street, he is sentenced to fix it. His punishment also begins ours. This city story drags on for too long. They are building up the obvious friendships and teach the "hot-shot" that there is more to life than winning. They also teach kids that is it cool to race a train over a junction and play with power lines within 1 minnute of each outer. Great thinking Pixar. While in this city, he learns all these great driving tricks that he will use in the final race. The town citizens become his friends and pit crew. An old racing legend is reborn. There could not have been more stale storylines.
I am not sure who thought making a kids animated movie with a running time pushing 2 hours was a good idea, but he should be fired. It was a cute flick, with 2 twists in it. It was nothing compared to The Incredibles, Toy Story and its sequel, Monsters Inc, or Finding Nemo.
Verdict: Wait a few more weeks before seeing this movie, or see it late at night. Here's why: CRYING BABIES!! There were at least 3 crying kids, 3 cell phone calls, and 3 times I had to get up to let out the lady next to me to take her child to the restroom. I don't mind large mature audience. Those are hard to find. But watching a kids movie with a bunch of kids was a terrible idea.
It starts out funny but trite. Luckily, it was entertaining. Once the movie got moving, I found myself laughing and enjoying the film. The voice actors were great. Bruce Willis was great, but Steve Carrell stole the show. The only thing that drove me nuts was the use of his squirrel. Ice Age started it back in 2002, then Hoodwinked did it last November. I guess, in Hollywood, if you need a spastic animal, the only answer is SQUIRREL. Scrat is hard to beat. But Hammy was great. Toward the end of the movie, as in Hoodwinked, they load the squirrel with caffiene and watch him run really fast. But in Over the Hedge, they put a nice twist on it.
William Shatner was excellent in his over-acting role. Thomas Hayden Church was good. Eugene Levy was good. Nick Nolte was excellent.
Verdict: It was a good, clean, funny, family movie. Worth the money? Why not.
20 June 2006
I am a large fan of the action genre. It does not take much for me to enjoy an action movie. It does, however, take a lot for me to give it a 10. This movie was great. Luc Besson writes another great movie. I loved The Transporter, didn't care too much for the sequel though. District B13 was so good, it makes me want to import Besson's Taxi Trilogy from Europe.
The movie is set in future Paris. There, they have built walls around every ghetto to "contain" the problem. Inside B13, the worst ghetto, there is a feared gang lead by Taha. There is one person, Leito, who will stand against the gang. Taha sends his henchman K2 after Leito for the drugs that were stolen. This leads to a great action sequence. K2 fails, and has to kidnap Leito's sister Lola. This then encites more action, where Leito is arrested by "crooked" cops.
Cut to a sting operation lead by Damien, played by one of the twins in Kiss of the Dragon. Another great action sequence transpires. Damien is asked to go into B13 and get this nuclear bomb that was stolen. He accepts. This sets up the rest of the movie.
Not to give too much away, basically, it is great action scene after great action scene. The plot is incredible, too. There is a government conspiracy going on with B13. The script was good, though I had to read it.
Verdict: All in all, i felt like this was the best use of $10. Not to mention, on my way out, I got asked to watch a movie trailer and give my opinion on it.
31 May 2006
X-Men The Last Straw
Ratner can't hold the weight set forth by fellow director Singer. In this last chapter, so many things were wrong. I loved the comics growing up. All the violations to the comics worked both for and against the film. Since it seemed as though they had no regard for the comic books, they saw fit to make up story lines that didn't work. In the comic world, there are so many great story lines. There are very few deaths to actual characters. Killing so many characters was tough for a comic nerd like me to watch. I had a hard time when they killed Joker in the original Batman movie. I wish they would have killed Mr. Freeze, but why go there. The Last Stand suffered from too much action and not enough plot. The first two films had a great balance. I felt that Beast was not as bad as everyone made him seem. The cure, Leech, I hate Cameron Bright. He has haunted my dreams for a very long time.
There were so many original story lines, that they forgot some of the most intriguing story lines from the comics. Most basically, Juggernaut is Xavier's brother. At the beginning of the film, we see X and Eric Magnus walking. WALKING! They never got into how Xavier became crippled.
Juggernaut. He really is not a true mutant. His powers are mystical, kinda.
Jean Grey. Pheonix had nothing to do with Jean being a level 5 mutant, whatever that means. I thought she was a tornado when I heard level 5, V5, whatever. It again, was a mystical power from space. Had they actually used the flame pheonix bird behind her, I might have been more impressed.
Rogue. Rogue and the cure, no way. Rogue could fly and was superstrong in the comics. In the movies, a little whiney girl. She had the wrong accent, and why woud she want Bobby when Remy could have been in the fourth movie.
Beast. He should have been explained. His mutant power is dexterity. He had large hands and feet in the comics. He was not blue and furry until a science experiment went bad.
Iceman. I did, however, love the shot of the real true blue Iceman.
Angel. At the beginning, they show Warren Worthington III. He doesn't do much during the movie. He should have had a bigger role. I liked how they used him to give the cure a background, but he still have had a larger role.
Pyro. How did he become so important? He wasn't in the comics. He really wasn't in the second film. Whatever happened to Sabretooth and Toad?
Magneto. Good old Ian gave a great performance, I thought. He was great. His character was great. His story line was simple, destroy humanity that stands in the way of mutants taking over.
Professor X. Well, I try not to give a lot of spoilers, so I can only say, stay for the end of the credits. His character was great, but I hated what happened to him. Again, why is he crippled.
Storm. All that money, and she still had a terrible wig. She didn't do much. She never does.
Colossus. Why not give him a Russian accent? Why violate simple things from the comics? He was decent. I didn't mind the visual of him turning steel.
Kitty. Well, she was ok. I think that she proves the point that they bring in only X-Men that they want to do one thing for the plot. In the last film, it was Colossus turning steel to help the kids get out. In this, it was Kitty to play with Juggernaut.
Multiple Man. Not a bad use for him. I can't remember though, I thought he was a good guy.
Random Mutants. Why were they dressed like Rosario out of Sin City? Wrong comic book, Brett.
And finally, WOLVERINE, my personal favorite. Through the trilogy, you have seen him grow as a mutant and a person. In this film, his transformation continues. His struggle with is passion and love for Jean was a shining star in this drab film. Again, they use of him is similar to the end of the first film, but who cares? I can't wait for the spin-off.
Verdict: All in all, worth the $10. This movie violated the comics, but that was kinda nice. It kept me guessing what was going on. I would have preferred that they kept to the comics, but it wasn't that bad. This may be the last in the this trilogy, but I would be surpised if they don't make any more. Maybe wait a few years, then come back with Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister, or the like.
Who gets on this boat?
I am a big fan of the origanal. I, of course, did not see it in theaters, but I imagine that this must have been what it felt like. Back in the 1974, the SFX used to make The Poseidon Adventure were top of the line. I have to say, the ones in this remake were great, too. I did, however, wonder, why did they remake this movie? Was there a great need for this? They just had a TV movie, that I have not seen...yet, that nobody watched. Why spend over $150 million to make this?
Secondly, why would anyone get on a boat named Poseidon? That would be like getting on a boat named Titanic. Or an airplane named Hindenberg. What did the characters expect to happen?
The charcaters were fresh. They were not from the original. They did have aspects from them. Some of the characters were not well explained and most had little to no back story given. The actors should have done something else. Peterson and company should have hired all no name actors like the TV movie and kept the budget down in hopes to turn a profit. Josh Lucas has yet to show me that he is a credible actor, yet, they keep selling him like one. Kurt Russell hasn't had a good movie since Miracle, and before that....... It was nice to Mia Maestro in a movie. I was saddened that it was this and not M:I3 with Abrahms also from Alias fame.
I saw this on the IMAX, so, it was louder and bigger than it should have been. That means, I LOVED IT THAT MUCH MORE.
Verdict: If you want to spend you $10, do it. If not, see it at home. If not, don't see it at all. With this movie, it doesn't really matter.
22 May 2006
Let me preface this review by saying, I am not much into the art house type films. I do not watch a bunch of "independent films." My fiance is the reason that I saw this movie. So, take this review with a grain of salt if you so desire.
In an interview, Norton stated that this movie was one of his favorites. He would put this up with American History X, Fight Club, and 25th Hour. For those of us who enjoyed his performances in these movies, this sounded good. Let me note, I did not like 25th Hour. I was expecting a breathtaking role and performance from Norton based on his own words. I was let down. The role of Harlan (Norton), could have been played by anyone, not just Norton. His girlfriend Tobe (Wood), was no better. Though I am told, that she is "big" in the independent movie world. I personally cannot confirm that. Lonnie, played by poor little Rory Culkin was the EXACT same character that he was in Signs.
The only role that stood out to me was that of David Morse as the unapproving father.The story itself was nothing new. Dad does not approve of daughter's choice in men. Daughter decides to defy parent. Boyfriend "loves" daughter. Conflict ensues at every turn. This movie showed me nothing new. I was bored for most of it. The final gun battle was, well, more of a water pistol fight. The scenery was nice and beautiful. It reminded me a lot of the Brokeback-type scenery.
The only scene in which I was deeply impressed was a scene in the woods in the middle of the night. Harlan was creepy, Lonnie was scared, and the shadows, music, and camera work helped to enhance all of this.I did, however, enjoy seeing John Diehl on the big screen, but that is just the Miami Vice in me talking.
Verdict: All in all, I would advice renting this movie as opposed to spending the $10 to see it in theaters.
I hate to have to preface this movie as I did my last review, but I feel I must let you know, I read the book before seeing the movie. With that said, here we go.
Where to begin with this movie is hard to decide. I am having a hard time finding something good about this movie. I got it! The previews were great. The Casino Royale, 21st Bond movie if you don't know, and Miami Vice were the preshow entertainment, and sadly, the only entertainment.
This movie had a budget in excess of $125 million. With all that, they could not have found the money to make Silas's eyes red? It was all over the book about how he was creepy with his red eyes. Unfogivable.
Akiva Goldsman, Academy Award winner for A Beautiful Mind, wrote a script based on a well-written book. Why not use the lines in the book? Something that flowed? I do have a grudge against him though, he wrote Batman & Robin, which killed the franchise until a real writer, Christopher Nolan, revived it years later. So, maybe I just look for reasons to hate him. Yet, he also did not follow the story layed out in the book. Unforgivable.
Ron Howard, Academy Award winner for A Beautiful Mind as well, is a decent director. I read a review on www.pajiba.com that stated that he has no gimmic, no Howard signature thing. I guess that it why I like him. He does not have the crane shot (Fincher) or the doves (Woo). But I was deeply saddened that his brother Clint was not in this film. With the mood that this movie failed to decide on, Clint could not have hurt it.
Tom Hanks, Academy Award winner for multiple roles, really did not portray Langdon as he was in the book. I stomached him, but was not impressed. He was not as bad as some say he was.
Ian McKellen, Academt Award nominee for LOTR: FOTR, should stick to Magneto and Gandolf. He again was OK, but should have been much better.
Finally, Paul Bettany, snubbed for an Oscar in A Knight's Tale, I know I stand alone on that thought, was a shimmering hope in this film. I am just horrified about his blue eyes.
Now, on to the movie. The plot from the book is basically there. I say basically because so much was changed that it hurt. They took out all the decoding of the messages. They messed with the heritage of the female lead. The added plots that weren't in the book with Fache and the Bishop. So much was brutalized, that the basics were the only thing left to see. They made Sophie a useless side character. In the books, she is the brains of most of the code breaking. Langdon himself was dumbed down for the film. As said on Pajiba, they made the female lead useless and a sex object in a movie about the Sacred Femenine. Ironic? I think so. So much time was wasted on watching "flashbacks" that didn't need to be flashbacks. So much of the budget seemed to be wasted there, too. The flashback visuals added nothing to the movie but $$$.
So much of the deeply layered plot was left out that the movie became more "religious" than the book ever was. When I finished the book, I could not understand what the religious groups were upset about. I am a religious person, and I was not offended. The book's theory about Christ is based on a bunch of "facts" that cannot be proved. The Last Supper painting "fact" is based on somebody restoring the painting and taking Magdelene out of it. Can anyone prove it? I don't know. I have never heard that before, so, therefore, I call the book fiction, and good fiction at that. The book was an exciting, quick, entertaining read. The movie was not exciting, slow, and not that entertaining.
The music in the movie, by Hans Zimmer, snubbed for an Oscar for Gladiator and at least a nomination for The Last Samurai, was overpowering at parts. It helped set the mood in some scenes and hurt it in others.
My last point in this review that seems to have turned into a ramble, is that there is more humor in this movie than in the book. I think this is where the movie hurts itself. The pace was slow enough, the humor only slowed it more. One good humorous part was when Sophie tried to walk on water. That was a good laugh.
Two and half hours after it started, it finally ended.
Verdict: I would advise again, as I often have here of late, rent this movie and watch it in the privacy of your own home.
12 May 2006
Let me start off by saying, "I loved this movie!" With that said, it is too bad that the nation is on Tom Cruise overload. This is the best in the M:I series. J.J. Abrahms brought a "fresh" feel to M:I3, but it was just his feel from Alias. I liked Alias for the first 2 seasons, but that is not the subject of this entry. The movie moved and felt like an episode of Alias. There were many references hidden in the movie. The call signs of Outrigger and Pheonix were from Alias as was Greg Grunberg.
This movie once again used the whole mole in the agency approach. In the original De Palma movie, it was Phelps himself. In Woo's dissastrous second installment, it was 006, I mean Sean Ambrose. M:I2 was Goldeneye. It was Tom Cruise trying to be James Bond. In this film, the team, which was nice to see, was trying to find a mole in the agency. I hope that the fourth, if they make it, finds a different approach to a plot. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a fantastic villian. His small amount of screen time was dissappointing, but kept his character more ominous. Ving Rhames reprising his role as Luther was a great thing. His character adds a lot to the movie.
As their search for the mole ensues, they are also trying to locate the "Rabbit's Foot" that many people are mad that they never see, or find out what it is. I think that it was an unnecessary object to see. All we needed to know was that it was bad, and couldn't be allowed to get into the wrong hands.
The action was non-stop and excellent. The sound was great. The directing was great.
I just hope that people will get over Tom Cruise enough to go see this movie, like they want to in the first place, so that the box office numbers will allow for another one to be made, hopefully sooner than 6 years.