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I Am Legend (2007)
"Legend" really separates itself from all other post-apocalyptic films.
Is it me, or does every movie that portrays the future, it's always some post-apocalyptic setting or the fall of man with man itself to blame? Not a lot to look forward to is it? Anyways, after years of being let down by so called scary zombie/virus movie genres and other blockbuster thriller debacles, "I Am Legend" really separates itself from the group.
Without giving too much way, Will Smith plays a sole survivor of a world dominating virus created by man that was originally created to cure cancer. Three years into the "new" world, Smith (who was a former doctor) dedicates his life to survival, finding a cure....and talking to mannequins. In order to find a cure he seeks out the infected, who only come out at night, and hoping to correct man's mistake.
"Legend" was the first truly scary movie I've seen in some time. Realism is the main factor in scary movies in my opinion. If it can happen, than that's pretty scary. Also, Smith's portrayal of despair and borderline insanity of three years of seclusion added to the effect. With the exception of his dog, Smith had no live contact with constant failure attempts of his cure only leading to his insanity. It had a "Cast Away" feel to it with his dog as to Hank's volleyball and his house reminding you of that stranded island.
The action/suspense scenes coupled with superb sound direction were also heart pounding and unexpected which added to the "scare" factor. Whenever Smith engaged with the zombie-like survivors, there was that claustrophobic feeling that I haven't felt since "Alien." My only real complaint was the overuse of CGI over real actors for these characters, but with their speed and strength that these things showed if may have not been possible.
"Legend" overall is one of the better movies of 2007 and a must see. Not Oscar-worthy by any stretch of the imagination, but it's certainly entertaining, realistically tense and maybe even thought provoking.
Citizen Kane (1941)
Too much of generational gap for many of us to enjoy.
It's kind of hard to call myself a lover of movies, or critic when I haven't seen what has heralded as one of the greatest film accomplishments of all-time. "Citizen Kane" was one of those movies that have slipped through my fingers as a kid and before you know it, you've never seen it but have only heard about it. In fact, usually you hear so much about some films, you have no motivation to see it. There are people out there (and we meet them all the time) that haven't seen the "The Godfather" yet, so situations like this do exist. So, after finally getting my hand on a copy of "Kane", I gave the film it's due attention.
A little overrated. Although this film belongs in IMDb's Top 250 and agree "Kane" should be considered a benchmark for movie directors, I had a tough time watching this movie. I can see how this movie was groundbreaking in 1941, as the characters (especially Kane himself), writing, acting, storyline and even the cinematography were ahead of its time. But, seeing this movie 60+ years later after its release was like taking a Model-T Ford out for Sunday drive. I literally had to force myself to watch this film, waiting and waiting for me to grasp it and I just couldn't do it.
I really don't think the problem is with the film itself, I think the problem is major generation gap and the fact that we have seen characters like Kane in other films and in real life. Older films like "Casablanca" and "Gone with the Wind" are extremely tough to watch when you get older, as your taste for movies is used to today's masterpieces. As mentioned before, Kane's persona was controversial at that time, maybe making him very intriguing and influential. It's hard to embrace this character when he have moguls like Donald Trump in our lives everyday or other films like "The Aviator" out there.
For me, for a film to be heralded "One of the Greatest American Films of All Time", is needs to stand the test of time. There needs to be a good balance of entertainment that's captivating at the same time. We shouldn't have to pay attention or scrutinize a film to get it. Films like "The Wizard of Oz" or "The Godfather" are these type of masterpieces. Who knows, after our generation, maybe know one will get the "The Matrix" or "Return of the King." Time will tell.
Death Sentence (2007)
Where's Charlie Bronson when you need him?
There's genre of movies that most movie goers just can't get enough of and that's vigilante movies. These can range from classics like "Death Wish" or to big budget ones like "The Punisher"; but I think viewers love watching heroes transform into villains, crossing the line between good and bad or judgment and revenge. Unfortunately, this film has hard time capturing this aspect.
"Death Sentence" is just one of those movies with a straight forward plot. Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) falls victim to watching his son being murdered in a gang initiation. After realizing the legal system would fail him, he took matters into his own hands as he hunts downs and kills his son's assailant. This incites and war between him, the gang with the rest of his family caught in the middle.
The main problem was the poor transformation of Bacon's character. It just wasn't there and I had a hard time taking him seriously. Bacon has played evil/bad characters before (i.e., "Sleepers") so it was more the writing than the acting. Bacon seemed frantic, out of control, inexperienced and just plain sloppy. Near the end of the movie, Hume had to read instruction manuals on how to load a double-barreled shotgun and a .45 caliber pistol while fumbling with his bullets, then 10 minutes later he was setting down gang members like dominos and reloading his weapon with amazing grace.
Also, the implausibility factor was out of control. The gang initiation killing took place at gas station in the most run down part of town (with no working CCTV cameras of course), as Hume stopped for gas immediately as his "low fuel" light comes on and after being nearly run off the road by two suspicious muscle cars. He could of easily drove another 10-15 miles to another well-lit and feasible gas station. That's probably nit-picking, but it doesn't stop you from scratching your head and thinking "What is this guy doing?" And of course, the local police were again taking a blind eye to the recent spike in violence. After Hume kills his son's assailant, the local detective doesn't even bother to question him even after she notices Hume with a bandaged hand. Not to mention that before Hume goes on his final killing spree, he escapes the hospital in a gown, goes back home and empties his back account. Were the police on strike that day? As mentioned before, it seems Hume never seems to know what he's doing or how to take care of himself until he needs to do so, prompting some pretty decent action sequences. Most of the scenes are well scripted and choreographed that actually pretty tense, which leads me to believe that was the true purpose of the film: to move along and get to the killing quickly as possible.
"Death Sentence" was somewhat disappointing within its genre, and probably more disappointing to the average movie goer. It just sped along too quick, failed on making Bacon a believable vigilante and the implausibilities and plot holes were too much of a distraction. I'd wait for it to show up at your local Wal-Mart's bargain bin before venturing out to this see this one.
Shrek the Third (2007)
NOT so Happy Ending.
In the barrage of trilogy ending blockbusters, I figured Shrek The Third was a sure bet. Same actors, same writers and for the most part same development team. Unfortunately, once again I felt ripped off and suckered into another media hyped sequel, still living off it's past success.
Shrek 3 continues where the second one left us, but this time the tragedy surrounds Shrek hesistance on possibly ruling "Far Far Away" after the King's death and inevitable fatherhood. Shrek, uncomfortable with the whole "King" thing, goes on a quest to search a better candidate by the name of Arthur (surprisingly voiced by Justin Timberlake.) Prince Charming, still irritated things didn't go his way the first time, rounds out up the other token villains seeks out to foil Shrek's plans and take over the kingdom.
I really hate criticizing this movie but there was so much missing. The writers that wrote the screenplay wrote Shrek 2...so what happened? The plot/story itself was completely unoriginal, unsuspenseful and just plain boring. Fiona's and the King's identities in the first two where nicely place twists...this one: nada. In fact the movie was completely predictable. You ALWAYS knew what was coming next.
Another thing that led to the fact that this movies stinks, is lack of humor. They almost took every single character on the previous installments and just ran them into the ground (see: Police Academy 6.)Annoying Donkey was annoying now and Puss in Boots' cute face trick wasn't cute anymore. Yes, the cross-dressing bartender has deep voice..got it. Yes, Pinnochio's nose grows when he tells lies...hah, got that too. With the exception of few Gingerbread Man moments (that were actually pretty funny), the jokes were either not funny to adults or to hard to understand for kids.
I seriously disappointed with this film. I feel either the writers got lazy with this one or maybe the well has just dried up and all good things come to an end. Wait for the box set.
If you loved or hated the previous installments, you'll feel the same about this one.
To be honest, I never really enjoyed Pirates 1 & 2 and never completed either movie as I had a terrible time keeping interest. For one, I have never been attracted to the "swashbuckling" genres. Secondly, for being a "swasbuckling" movie there wasn't enough action to keep me enthralled with too many plot twists and extended and hard to understand dialog moments. Regardless, I figured I 'd attempt to see the 3rd installment to see if I have been missing something. Once again, I feel the same but I'll try to keep my opinion as unbiased as possible.
The plot was just as confusing to me as the first two. This time Jack is rescued from the land of the dead, in attempt to gain his alliance to form a rebellion against Davey Jones and Beckett who is attempting to wipe out all Pirate Lords. I think.
Just like the prequels, I had trouble understanding what was happening, what needed to happen and what just happened. From something simple like how most of dialog is spoken in Old English, to the fact the movie uses artsy, obscure scenes to explain a plot portion. For example, the rescue attempt on Jack. I had no idea where Jack was, how the crew got there and how they left until after all was said and done. This has been my biggest problem with the entire trilogy. I realize the that director wanted to avoid clichés as most as possible and thought that this would increase the quality, but sometimes simplicity is just as good.
No knock on the acting or special effects here. Johnny Depp once again shows that why he's once of the greatest actors of our generations...he makes this film and without him this trilogy would not have survived. Knightly and company provide a nice supporting cast and even cover up Orlando Bloom's bumbling. And for the most part it's another visual masterpiece.
So basically, if you enjoyed or even understood the first two you'll enjoy this one as well. If your like me and don't find this series at all interesting...stay at home and wait for Pay-Per-View.
Lost in the mediocrity of other comic movies.
I'll admit it, I avoided this film like a George Clooney flick over the past two years on two accounts. 1] It was a soft sequel to Daredevil. 2] I was unaware of the Elektra's comic book history and did not know she was actually resurrected in the comics. I originally thought they brought her back for the purpose of the film. I was also a never been a big fan of the Alias series, but found to enjoy it sometime after it got canceled. To my surprise, Elektra was not THAT bad. After many failed attempts of converting several comic in to theater blockbuster, this one is...okay. That is, if you can somehow erase Daredevil from your memory banks.
Elektra takes place a few years after her death. Now resurrected, she's a hired assassin that pits herself against a terrorist/ninja organization known as the The Hand after she backs off an assignment. Amongst The Hand carries a few unique characters with some interesting powers...one which is able to conjure up beasts from the tattoos covering his body.
This film is nowhere close to Daredevil and should not even be uttered in the same sentence. The plot is a bit cliché similar to the Replacement Killers with a dash of Crouching Tiger, but it is simple and interesting enough to keep you entertained. The special effects looked pretty good and were not overdone. The fight/action scenes weren't too shabby either and weren't as much cheese as you expect from a comic movie...which may have been my only real complaint. I had a tough time rating this film higher than a 6 because I just felt bored. There were too many long dialog moments in the movie and fight scenes may have been too short.
After doing some more research, the film was actually pretty close to comic, which is a plus. In any case, it is worth a DVD rental if you haven't seen it yet. Fortunately with debacles like The Hulk, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four floating around, this one is slightly superior. This certainly a good movie to nuke some popcorn with.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
With the bar set so high, minor short comings were inevitable.
Finally I got to see a premier movie on a premier release date, couldn't pick a better time to throw in review for the commercially driven Spider-Man 3. Let me get this out of the way first: I do not collect comic books and it has been probably a good ten years since I've read one. Having said that, I have a pretty decent knowledge of the Spider-Man mythology and have enjoyed the series on video games and such. Going into Spider-Man 3, I was stoked and little worried at the same time, as sequels tend to water down the original pieces.
S3 brings back all the major characters from the first one and even adds a few more. This time around Peter Parker commits to Mary Jane but unfortunately she has trouble dealing with his alter ego. Peter also finds out Ben's real killer, a poverty driven criminal turned scientific accident freak named "Sandman." Harry Osborn, who has figured out Peter's secret, decides to dabble in his father's legacy and is set on burying a few axes. Finally, the popular villain "Venom" makes his present felt along with the entire transformation. All of this coupled with a few love triangles, flashbacks and side stories. A bit much for a two hour film? You betcha.
This was what I was kinda afraid of. Comic books are filled with thousands of characters and character history. Alterations to a character's history on film I can deal with, as sometimes it is unfeasible. For example, in the comics, Spider-Man finds the symbiote in outer space. In the movie, it crash lands on Earth. Perfectly fine. What I do have a problem with is the attempt to jam every single hero/villain know to man (complete with origin) as a series progresses. A tactic which killed the Batman series (ok, Joel Schumacher, Kilmer and Clooney had some input.) Daredevil had the same problem tossing in Kingpin, Bullseye AND Elektra in the initial movie. This also almost killed the X-Men series adding in useless characters based solely on comic fan requests as they went on, but I give this one a slight pass because the X-Men realm is based on multiple characters.
Without giving too much away, the constant flip-flopping of the several story lines became annoying. Peter & MJ, Peter & Harry, Harry & MJ, Eddie Brock & Gwen Stacy...on and on and on. There was even a possible sequel injection adding Dr. Connors for the third time. The first two films were perfect focusing only one hero and one villain, giving you time to soak in all aspects of the plot and the characters.
Regardless of my nitpicking, this is still a good movie and a serious must see in theater. I recommend seeing this in a quality theater as the sound effects and editing were superb putting you practically in the middle of every battle scene. Speakng of which, the CGI was amazing and character animation made Sandman amazing to watch and Venom just straight vicious. The acting and screenplay was also pretty good that will stir up a few tears and laughs between combat scenes. It is an action film, and the film is full of it. In fact, the ending may make feel a little empty as the ending comes nearly immediately after the final battle sequence.
Bottom line: Go see it, as the theater experience itself is fantastic. Unfortunately I do not like the where the series is headed, and this one slightly inferior to the previous movies.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Quality film that may lose interest to some audiences based on its poor marketing.
Like just about everyone else on this site, I went to this film with my hardcore cheezy horror flick buddy expecting another Japanese remake or another teen-scream job filled with cheap scare tactics and bad CGI featuring the usual creepy kid. Well, I got neither. Instead, the "Exorcism of Emily Rose" is more of a courtroom base drama, which tactically uses every single scary shot that are in the film in the trailers with the attempt to bring in a target audience, which may have disappointed some viewers.
As mentioned before "Rose", is really a courtroom drama that centers around the trial of Father Moore (Wilkinson) who is on trial for his role in the death of Emily Rose (Carpenter) defended by an agnostic lawyer, Erin Bruner, played pleasantly by Laura Linney. The death of Emily Rose is in question: was she possessed or was she suffering from severe psychosis and epilepsy? After all medical tactics and tests had been exhausted and unresolved, Father Moore is brought in to cure her of her possession which unfortunately takes a wrong turn. It's during this trial where you see both sides of the court as Emily's recollections are revisited and where the creepiness comes in.
Truthfully, I really wasn't disappointed with the fact that film was marketed incorrectly as I'm not really a big fan of horror flicks. I'm more annoyed with the fact that film, which was supposed to be based on a true story, was nothing close to what the actual story. The real case was set in Germany, involved 2 priests both which were on trial along with parents. Also, according to various information, the conference of German bishops agreed that she was NOT possessed. Quite an important piece of information since the film leaves it up the viewer to decides whether or not she was really possessed.
Not only I was not scared, since they wasted all the creepy parts in the trailers, I was completely bored. The movie starts in the courtroom and ends in the courtroom and its filled with every courtroom cliché known to man. Rude and abrasive prosecutor? Check. Charismatic and underdog defense lawyer? Check. Surprise evidence? Check. Key witness dying or disappearing? Check. Surprise verdict? Check. After awhile I though this movie was based on another John Grisham novel.
The acting was pretty good and dialog and the storyline is enough to keep you interested. The film also does a good job at reliving the events leading up to her death, shows both theories on what happened to her both with convincing tales. This is what really builds the film and holds it together. And, regardless of the tons of clichés, the film is still somewhat original with the rest of crap that's in the theater. Overall this is quality film that may lose some audiences due to the fact it isn't directed by Wes Craven and the acting is quite good. But, in the end I'd suggest Googling "Emily Rose" instead of watching the movie if you really want facts concerning her exorcism.
The Aviator (2004)
Quality movie, just don't operate heavy machinery after watching it.
I usually don't write too many reviews on Oscar caliber movie since I enjoy complaining more than anything else, but I had to cover a few points for some of the potential viewers that are contemplating whether or not to rent this movie or not. Although "The Aviator" is a good movie, but there are some serious long, dry, needless scenes that may make you forget the scenes you did like.
"Aviator" stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who is still trying to get respect in Hollywood, as Howard Hughes, a rich oil tycoon that suddenly decides to invest an obscene amount of money and time into movies, planes, women and bottled milk. The film is also filled to the brim with tons of Hollywood's finest, especially Kate Blanchet who perfectly plays Katherine Hepburn about as well Jamie Foxx played Ray Charles. Later on through the film you find out there is something more behind his perfectionism, as his OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is unrecognized by the American public.
The movie really starts off with a bang, capturing Hughes over budget movie "Hell's Angels", with some of the nicest cinematography I've seen in a long while. Without giving too much away, the film quickly takes a turn and levels off in the excitement section as you witness Hughes's OCD in full effect, practically driving him in to insanity. This is where the film gets long, and I mean long. Besides the fact the the film is close to 170 minutes, after about an hour into to the film the emotion and liveliness in the beginning is replaced by boring, frustrating dialog and context. Seriously, this film makes "Gods and Generals" look like "Die Hard", making me extremely sympathetic to the audiences that actually saw it in a theater who probably wished they went to an opera instead. In fact, the ending doesn't due Hughes or the film much justice either as it just closes with him going through one of his OCD fits.
With all the torturing boredom aside, "Aviator" is still a quality film film that was informative, contained remarkable acting on every part, exceptional cinematography that put's right in to the time frame of the movie. It's also once again another Oscar worthy performance by DiCaprio who still trying to get people to forgive for "Titanic" and his good looks. For the most part, I knew pretty much nothing about the Howard Hughes, and the film did it's job by reflecting Hughe's life. "Aviator" is not the best biography movies ever made, but it's pretty good and worth at least a rental.
Blade: Trinity (2004)
Failed to focus on what made the first two successful.
After holding out on watching this film due to the horrendous user ratings and comments, I finally picked this one up and watched with all the comments I read in the back of my mind. "Blade Trinity" isn't as terrible as I thought (basically I had "Daredevil in mind here), but its still an average action flick that had tons of potential and loses its focus in the franchise and doesn't even feel like the finale of trilogy.
"Trinity" takes place a few years later after the second one (I guess) with Blade and Whistler now at battle with media and local/federal police forces while handling their business with the vampires as well. The vampires meanwhile resurrect Dracula in hopes of him changing the tide of the on-going war with Blade and preserve their race. Later on Blade inherits a couple of new sidekicks in Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder) who plays Hannibal King and Jessica Biel who plays Abigail Whistler, Whistler's long lost daughter.
I had way too many personal dislikes in this movie that may be left open for interpretation, but they still hindered the movie and the opinions held by most of it's audience. Let me start with Dracula. One of the baddest characters in movie history was totally miscasted and misplayed by Dominic Purcell. He takes two forms really, one is his true creature form which can be seen in "Jeepers Creepers 1 & 2" and the second is his human form, in which he chooses to resemble a British soccer player that looks like he was Russell Crowe's stunt double in "Gladiator". Instead of Dracula looking elderly and powerful (like "Underworld" and most vampire films), Dracula instead trounces throughout the movie looking like an an extra from the movie "Snatch".
The director also decided to add a hint of comedy into the film by adding Ryan Reynolds to the film, with his character adding anecdotes every 30 seconds which are annoying, not funny and practically turned "Trinity" into an 80's action flick. Even though Blade himself was supposed to be annoyed by Reynold's comments it still didn't fit. And since I only have a 1,000 word limit here, I'll just wrap up the rest of the things that irked me: the Triple H's vampire Pomeranian, Parker Posey erratic acting, the two-time product placement of iPods and the out of control weapons to include Obi-Won Kenobi's light saber.
More importantly, the film never felt like a finale, which was supposed to end the whole trilogy. The film focused more on Dracula and Blade's pointless sidekicks than Blade himself. The ending is terrible because it displayed nothing and used Reynold's narration to explain what happened. The only reason why I even gave it a 5 was the occasional action sequences, musical score and a few added chase scenes. Although this movie isn't as bad as people said, it's still disappointing and could've been an excellent movie with better directing and a better cast.
Meet the Fockers (2004)
Good acting covered up by poor writing and terrible directing.
For those of you that have not yet had time to go out and rent "Meet the Fockers", don't sweat it and just wait until it's on TBS. If you're a fan of the original, you'll be severely disappointed and if you haven't you'll either be sick or confused with some occasional chuckles. "Meet the Fockers" probably looked good on paper and probably had a high demand since the original was so successful, but it failed to meet expectations and forgot what made the first one such a comedic hit.
"Fockers" stars the original cast with the addition of Dustin Hoffman (Bernie Focker) and Barbara Streisand (Roz Focker), as the Byrnes family takes a trip down to Miami to meet Greg's parents and plan the up coming Focker-Byrne wedding. That's really as deep as the plot goes, with the additions of few side elements that take place during the vacation.
The first was practically a classic as it featured Ben Stiller in his usual "everything goes wrong with me" role that makes the audience stress out beyond belief which is supposed to induce laughter. It did work though, as Stiller's position of meeting a potential spouse's parents can be nerve-wracking is somewhat believable. In the sequel, the main comedy was focused on the Byrnes family meeting the Focker family, trying to hit it off and with Greg caught in the middle still trying to impress Jack with his usual antics and trying to change his parents.
The main reason this movie was near unbearable was the the intelligence insulting writing, especially the gag bits, that still revolved on Jack's borderline OCD and over protectiveness of his daughter, constant sexual innuendos, the drenching use of the word "Focker", and the just plain fact the whole situation was totally implausible. To start with, the sexual innuendos (and I use this term loosely) was way out of control, which this tactic was practically non-existent in the first one. I have no problem with sexually laced jokes and gags mind you, but the jokes in this movie were too forward, not funny, over used and didn't fit: Jack's fake boob to feed his grandson (don't ask), Bernie's missing testicle story, the awkwardness between the conveniently placed babysitter with breasts big enough to make Pam Anderson blush who Greg lost his virginity with, Greg's infant foreskin than landed in the fondue pot during dinner, and Roz's and Bernie's open sexuality that is present throughout the whole movie. Was there really a need to write in a scene where Greg has to stop his parents from having sex with Streisand covered with Cool-Whip from the waist up like strawberry shortcake, due to the fact his future in-laws where sleeping right below, on the first night? All this movie needed was an apple pie and Stifler and it would been complete.
Also, as may read in several other reviews, was the constant use of the word "Focker" which was practically run into the ground in the first one was in full affect this sequel. Not only is it in the title, but it it's also used like every 5 minutes. Yes, we all get it, it kind of sounds like a similar four letter word that may be considered vulgar. So, if we get it, why doesn't entire cast get it? This is where my entire beef with implausibility comes in. Both in-laws doing various gags through out the movie was down right idiotic and insulting, as all four the parents seem like sophisticated people; including one being a lawyer and one being ex-CIA. Would a house host really go to the bathroom (....#2) while their guest is taking a shower? Would a potential father-in-law jam a syringe filled with sodium pentathol (truth serum)into his daughter's finance during their engagement party just to solidify his "circle of trust?" During the entire movie I was chomping a the bit waiting for one of these parents to grow up, which was unfortunately in the final scenes.
On a lighter note, the acting was quite good with DeNiro of course but the roles played by Hoffman and Streisand were quite impressive. Unfortunately the teen-movie writing and bad directing overcame any evident of acting. This film may have been a little bit easier to swallow, if the the original didn't exist which set the bar and the tone of the comedic level. Unfortunately it's another sequel that misses the mark and depends on the addition of other "A" list actors in the cast and the success of the original to draw in audiences.
National Treasure (2004)
Nearly impossible to swallow, but very entertaining.
National Treasure is an underrated, implausible, yet very entertaining action/adventure flick that really relies on the plot and intrigue rather than explosion filled action sequences.
Nicolas Cage stars as Ben Gates, a historian enthusiast in search for a mythical treasure dating back to the Crusades which has alleged switch locations overtime leaving several extensive clues to follow. The movie starts you off in the middle of Gate's quest in the Artic Circle, where he is double-crossed by one of his companions, Ian Howe (predictably played by Sean Bean who usually plays these shady, back-stabbing characters in "Goldeneye", "Troy", "Ronin" and "Don't Say a Word"), which ensues a race across America looking for the treasure and preserving history.
This movie has been deemed another "Indiana Jones" without the whip, leather hat and stereotypical Nazis. Instead, the movie really focuses on the implausible, puzzling clues that were left by our forefathers to guide future hunters to a hidden treasure map. The map itself is only half of the problems, as if/when it's discovered still needs to be deciphered. As implausible and unrealistic as the story, plot and Da Vince Code-like clues are, they are still pretty interesting and creative and keep the story going, leaving very few dry spots. As mentioned before it's more of a "Goonie" race between Gates and Bean, in which Gates is really trying to protect the certain historical landmarks, but both are actually gunning for the treasure with Bean using more "aggressive" tactics.
Cage, who usually get a little excited when he muddles through his cue cards, actually toned it downed a little bit making the film much more enjoyable. The writing is also pretty good that scarcely emits one-liners, but still adds a few comedic moments without distracting from the plot. The ending is also chewable that should alleviate any possible sequels and wraps everything up nicely.
Yes, this movie is practically inaccurate historically and contains more outrageous clues then "Tomb Raider" and "The Mummy" series combined, but take that with a grain of salt and just sit back an enjoy the film for it's creativity and overall satisfaction.
Ladder 49 (2004)
This film kind of took me by quite a surprise, as the previews led me to believe that this was just another Travolta flop tending to the few audiences that haven't seen "Backdraft", but Ladder turned out to be a pleasant look into the daily life of a firefighter.
"Ladder 49" involves Jack Morrison (Phoenix) who is trapped in multi-tiered factory reflecting on life from his first day on the job to this point focusing on his family's ordeals and adjustments on the toll the life of firefighting takes on a family.
The story is somewhat predictable, but will still draw you in as the emotions are in full gear as Morrison is somewhat addicted to the adrenaline of rushing into a burning building putting his life at severe risk and the future of his family in jeopardy to save one life. The acting is also noticeably sound as even Travolta, who still living off his Pulp Fiction miracle, makes a clean act as the fire chief who provides several roles to his fellow fighters to include boss, friend, brother, father and mentor.
As far as realism goes, I bought into it. Then again, I'm not a real firefighter and don't no how much the movie really reflects the morale, camaraderie and the risks these men take. I did question the motives of the main characters as later in the film he transfers to Search and Rescue, were one his friends died and another suffered a career ending injury, with his wife expressing several times how much she hates his profession let alone a transfer to a more dangerous position. But, I guess that's the persona the film wants to portray. This movie has even has satisfying but quite disheartening ending that will even make most men misty-eyed.
This movie had more of purpose that projected which is why I give it high regards. If you're looking for an action flick you might be disappointed as this one might sit better in the "Drama" section. All in all this film is worth a rent and may have you thinking when all is said and done.
Ocean's Twelve (2004)
A terrible reunion.
With Ocean's 11 making a big splash a few years ago with mixed collage of Hollywoods's finest, a sequel like this was inevitable. But, as most sequel go, it looks very good on paper, a high demand but rarely captures the original and this reunion is no different.
In Ocean's Reunion, Benedict finally finds the whereabouts of Ocean and his gang and gives them a two week deadline to come up with the money that was stolen (with interest.) While venturing to Europe to do some heists to pay off the debt, the gang finds out they have been set up by a rival thief in order to find out "who's best." Now it's race between Ocean and his crew and this thief going after the same prize, with the winner accepting the glory. Oh yeah, and if Ocean wins, the thief plans to pay Ocean's debt. No, I'm not making this up.
Ocean's 11 was a great movie because it had great actors with good acting(OK, except Clooney), excellent plot which was simple yet intriguing, very good dialog and most of a all, a satisfying ending. Now, take that and minus everything that was good about it, except the actors and add Catherine Zeta-Jones and you have Ocean's Reunion.
A had some major problems with Ocean's Reunion. Zeta-Jones's (who took a break from her T-Mobile commercials)was added in to play as a European detective tracking various thieves, more importantly she's shacking up with Pitt's character with them both of them playing a cat and mouse game throughout the the entire movie, because that's what the movie needed. Who knows, maybe I should give Sodenberg the benefit of the doubt and his script of "Out of Sight" somehow accidentally got mixed up with this one.
The biggest problem I had with this reunion, besides the whole "Thomas Crown Affair" thing going on, was that Julia Robert's character, Tess, played Julias Roberts. Did you get that? In fact, the credits later on read: "Introducing Tess as Julia Roberts." What? In attempt to steal the prize Tess is brought in as Julia Roberts because Tess and Roberts kind of look alike, that's probably true because they're the same person. Then they topped off this calamity with a cameo of Bruce Willis who plays himself to spoil the gig. I was kind of shocked why Willis didn't recognize Matt Damon who played Linus because they were in the entire scene with him. Weird.
With all sarcasm aside, this was way too drawn out taking forever for the plot to emerge. There were also to many plot twists (which seems to a prerequisite these days) which makes the movie hard to follow. The ending is terrible, comparing nothing like the original. The movie also centered more on Pitt, Jones and the unknown thief when the movie should've been focused on Garcia's anger and revenge, the fact he he lost 167 million dollars and his woman. In fact, Garcia's revenge is limited to only the first 10 minutes of the movie. It also should've contained some comedic scenes while the crew worked together, but that never happened neither. For a movie that spent four years in the making, this was seriously disappointing. The spent more time reliving the success if the first and drawing audiences than actually making a riveting plot. It's worth a rental and that's it.
The Amityville Horror (2005)
Average horror flick relying too much on CGI and cheap tactics.
"Amityville Horror" is a slightly scary movie that give you a jump or two, a few tense moments, some overacting and a predictable storyline. This films, along with many others, is filled with too many clichés and forgot what makes classic horror movies so frightening in the first place. Since this movie is set up on the serious, it's lack of fear can be critical. But with the theaters filled with mediocrity in the horror section, this one is somewhat satisfying.
AH stars Ryan Renolds ("Van Wilder") as George Lutz, a newly married contractor with 3 step children, who comes across house that has a bad history and easy price tag. Van Wilder decides to take the deal, disregarding the fact that a family was murdered in cold blood one year ago, moves in with trouble starting from Day 1.
The film has a great opening revisiting the the events that occurred earlier with a "Se7en"ish style, foreshadowing the events yet to come. The house seems to focus on Van Wilder with visions and premonitions as he struggles to interpret them and shows signs of possession with gradual homicidal thoughts. No one else with the exception of the youngest daughter is really subject to the house's hauntings while the rest of the Van Wilder family battles with his constant moods swings and the house's strange behavior. There are few new tactics used to make you jump coupled with a few predictable ones, but nothing was more disturbing than the fact that I was forced to see Van Wilder ripped naked torso throughout half the movie, to include chopping wood and running around in his pajama bottoms in the rain. To tell you the truth, I really had no idea SoloFlex machines were that popular in the 70's. Anyways his modesty in question was finally answered when the the half-naked, pot smoking babysitter they hired, with enough mascara on to chalk your pool cue, showed up at their door. Maybe that was all Van Wilder could afford, due to the fact he seemed to spend all his money on firewood and never worked throughout the whole movie.
The real problem with this movie is that the director "humanizes" this film using the clichéd, "creepy kid" as a bridge to the supernatural and the living, as the youngest daughter befriends an imaginary friend. In the original movie this character was a pig, represented by glowing red eyes to convey a demonic presence. As always, anticipation of being scared is much scarier (ie, Hitchcock) than having a ghouly kid pop in and out of scenes and dashing by the camera at blurring speeds. Andrew Douglas was far often reliant on CGI and special effects to get the job done instead of focusing on the elements of fear itself like M. Knight Shyamalan.
There are a few tense scenes and the ending was so-so, but I think it would have been a challenge to make riveting one. The movie does answer your questions about the plot to include the origin of the house's demonic state. The acting is above average, with a few over dramatic moments and a few scene that will insult your intelligence, but overall it's a decent scary flick compared to the recent ones. But this is definitely not a classic and I recommend something like "The Shining" instead.
AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
What happened here?
Well, Paul W. Anderson just killed two of my favorite movie franchises in one foul swoop. I'm sure AVP looked good on paper or even sounded sweet in theory, but in the end it just doesn't match.
There was so many continuity and plot problems, I'll just stick to the basics because there is a 1,000 word limit here. The plot was a bit of a stretch. Basically, Predators having been harvesting Aliens for centuries in a pyramid located in current Antartica. The Predators used humans as slaves and hosts for the Aliens, in which the Predators would hunt for skill every 100 years. Now, a group of scientists have discovered the pyramid as the Predators planned out, jump started the process too early and started an underground squabble with Aliens. Now, if Aliens have been the ultimate adversary for centuries, why were the Predators wasting their time with inferior humans in the previous two movies? And, since the Predators like to hunt, why are they harvesting Aliens and hunting them in a controlled environment?
Too put in bluntly, this movies was WAY rushed. It is barely 90 minutes, and by the time the action starts it ends. The action scenes were the least bit dramatic, completely relying on unrealistic CGI sequences. Since when do 300lb+ Predator preform spin moves in mid-air like an Olympic ice skater? There was also no suspense factor which makes up most of the previous Alien movies. An Alien stalking a Predator is just not that suspenseful. The continuity with the Aliens was a debacle. The first human host had an Alien bust out of her rib cage in 5 minutes and the Alien was full grown in 10 minutes. The previous movies took hours. Another problem was the fact that there was more Aliens than hosts. The Predators didn't seem all that prepared either, with the majority of their weapons melting from the Aliens acid like blood. These invisible, stalking Predators that have been battling these Aliens for decades and can travel at the speed of light and create a weapon that's acid proof? But, if you're not really picky, the last 10 minutes put the bow on this beautiful gift. The last Predator puts their differences aside with humans and teams up with a woman to conquer the Queen Alien hand and hand with a Alien tail for a spear and an Alien head for a shield (don't ask.) The idea of it was bad enough and now seeing it will probably give me nightmares. After all is said and done, you treated to a glimpse of a possible sequel with a half Predator and half Alien creature sprouting out his gullet.
What this movie needed was a better director, more plausible screenplay and a little bit more time put into to it. I would only recommend this film for die hard sci-fi action buffs.
The Notebook (2004)
Touching and somewhat original.
I must admit I'm not a huge fan of romance movies, in fact I don't even remember the last time I've seen one that I haven't fell asleep through or laughed at. But after dodging my wife's request to watch with her after she rented it a week ago, I finally yielded so I can move on with my life and ended up being somewhat impressed.
"The Notebook" is really a two-sided story regarding an elderly man (James Garner) in home that reads a love story to another elderly woman on a daily basis. The love story itself is about two love birds in the beginning of adulthood and troubled by various obstacles in life like her overbearing parents and his lack of "successfull" lifestyle. Noah (James Gossling) plays a free-spirited, blue collared lumber yard worker that is smitten by Allie, (nicely played by Rachel McAdams) a rich, southern belle with strict parents looking to break out of her mold. Yes, it's somewhat a "Dirty Dancing", bad boy/good girl tug-of-war relationship, but the movie delves deep into their lives and you soon forget the typical clichéd baseline.
The acting is pretty good, and quite exceptional for Rachel McAdams whose has played career draining, teen queen roles in the likes of "Mean Girls" and another Rob Schnieder flop "Hot Chick." Seriously, she must have one of the best agents in the business to pull for a deep role that required acting, and pulled it off. Gossling does a somewhat notable job as the nomad lover and of course James Garner is James Garner. The story of Gossling and McAdams, coupled with the relationship between Garner and the other elderly woman is what really puts this movie together. The ending is pretty predictable along with most of the plot, but in the end it all pays off.
If you're not a romance fan and totally dismiss movies like this I don't blame you. But, at least give it a chance when you're totally burnt out of other movies or if your significant other is jonesing for a chick flick, pick this one up.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Instant classic, but not for all audiences.
I know it's a couple years late, but I had to write a review for some of the few people that haven't seen one of my favorite and refreshing I've seen over the last few years. Kill Bill Vol. 1 is yet another quality film of Tarantino's short, but distinguished list.
Kill Bill involves a nameless woman (Uma Thurman) who is slowing seeking revenge on her former hit squad the Viper Squad and her boss Bill (David Caradine.) Her former hit squad wronged her by gunning down her closest friends and family during her wedding and putting her into a coma while being pregnant. A few years later she awakens in a hospital, without child, and tries to track down each member of the squad. As the story progresses (through this film and the sequel), you find out who she really, why Bill wanted her dead and the fate of her daughter.
The movie is really a combination of Tarantino's love for the 70's over-dramatized Kung-Fu movie era and story of revenge with rich dialog. Yes, this movie is violent, but in a cheesy way. This created some controversy and really had audiences stirred up, failing to realize it was supposed to be over the top without no sense of realism. Like I said, it was supposed to be a tribute more so than a gruesome action flick. With all cheesiness aside, I can understand how some people could feel a little woozy after seeing someone lose an arm and having 4 gallons of Kool-Aid red blood shoot out of the body like a whale's blow hole. What really makes this movie is Tarantino ability to make bad to mediocre actors seem like good ones, a smart and hilarious dialog and a good storyline. Of course, this is what he does in pretty much in all of his movies.
There are various plot holes in the story, but we are really meant to ignore them unlike most movies. Just like the gory scenes, come to grips to the fact that the most of the implausibilities are there just to fill in the gaps of the movie. The movie also features a couple of classic Tarantino showdowns, including an unforgettable one with the Japanese infamous crime lord, O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Lui.) Once again, Tarantino puts his imagination at work again in his story telling by using some of his old techniques like jumping timelines and some new ones like adding Japanese animation for character backgrounds.
I wouldn't really recommend this film to someone who is really not from the Pulp Fiction era. This film is really just homage to flicks that frequently appear on Sunday Samurai Showcase, revenge and Tarantino's continuous fascination with Uma Thurman. This film contains extreme violence and sometimes strange dialog coupled with some pretty good acting and directing. If you're not a fan of Tarantino's films, you should pass on this one because it is doesn't stray to far from his other stuff. If you like his other works, this is a must see due to its originality and quality. And, if you just don't like Tarantino himself, and find him annoying like everybody else, I don't blame you but it's still worth your while seeing.
A well-acted and stylish suspense film overlooked in many ways.
Michael Mann has another hit here, once again adding to his short but distinguished film making arsenal. The same goes for Tom Cruise who once again gets snubbed and overshadowed by Jamie Foxx, who did earn some well deserved marks as well.
"Collateral" revolves around an ambitious and insightful everyday taxi driver (Foxx) who's life is held at bay my a professional killer (Cruise) in order to help Cruise complete his missions. The movie contains nothing but pure acting, directing, screen writing and most of all, intensity, making this an enjoyable and worthwhile movie. The most interesting part of the film is seeing the strange relationship between Cruise's character and Foxx's, as they parade about LA in the middle of the night "taking care of business." Cruise's character is a professional assassin that doesn't think twice about whacking anybody regardless of personality, but yet is still bound my everyday and outdated morals. Which explains his respect for Foxx's character, who displays a deep regard for life and the people around him, constructing a well balanced plot filled with irony. In fact, Cruise lets Foxx get away with snide remarks and disobedience which he has ended lives for less, and protects him from outside dangers yet Foxx's life is technically dispensable.
Foxx's performance is amazing (earning him ANOTHER nomination for an Oscar) as he finds the right niche to play this stressed out cab-by, but still manages to remain in control of everything. Unfortunately for Tom Cruise, he's too good looking or too Blockbuster I guess to get any sort of satisfaction any run The Academy (again.) He even went to great lengths of dyeing his hair gray, to hide his image that often graces the cover of GQ. His acting was dead on, with no signs of over-acting which is more than often displayed in over-powering villain roles.
This is a great film, which contains some great dialog and a pretty original plot. The acting is superb, with Jada Pinkett-Smith filling in the holes with her limited but quality spots. For some reason, Cruise and the film itself were hardly recognized. I highly recommend this film, and it deserves at least a rental. Even if you are still mad at Cruise for Vanilla Sky.
Dreadful horror flick filled with misdirection, bad actors and immature writing.
Trust me, movies don't get much worse than this one. Granted my expectations were pretty low before stepped into the theater, but I didn't expect this movie to be THIS bad.
First off, I didn't know which direction Wes Craven wanted to go. Did he want a certified, serious horror piece like the original "Nightmare on Elm St." or a spoofy/slasher flick like "Scream." What you get is something in between and a movie with no direction what so ever. Let me start off with the acting. The acting in this movie was so bad it I wondered if Craven even bothered to yelled out the word "cut" now and then as the actors muddled through B movie scripted cue cards. But then again, you won't see too many Oscar capturing moments when you're faced with riveting thespians like Shannon Elizabeth, Mya, Potia De Rosi, the dude who plays Lex Luther on Smallville and Scott Baio. Yes, "Charles in Charge" himself graces us with his presence playing the character of himself, Scott Baio. The movie barely hangs together with a tissue thin plot and riddle with tons of plot holes and continuity problems. The special effects have got to be the worst I've seen in this day in age, mixing up some pretty bad CGI and robotic puppeting making the werewolves a just slight step down from the Wacko Jacko make-up job in his Thriller video. The movie contains a few bad jokes, some predictable jumpy parts and many scenes plucked straight out of the "1,001 Horror Cliché" guide book. The cherry on top of this complete mess is when the cops have the main werewolf cornered and the victims lure it out with some fat jokes, the werewolf jumps out and gives them the the middle finger. Absolutely brilliant.
This movie was neither scary, funny, enjoyable or even tolerable. I wouldn't recommend to anyone over the age of 20, because I felt that it really targets teens with cheap laughs and thrills. The only thing that really scared me is assumption that Craven will be compelled to make a sequel.
Finally, an innovative thriller worth watching..
It's amazing how easy it is to create an original screenplay when somebody puts their mind to it. Director James Wan and friend thought up this idea and put it on paper and then put it to film in 18 days. Why can't the major part of Hollywood get it right? Anyways, this thriller is based on a somewhat serial killer who terrorizes his victims buy setting them up in some type of "trap" similar to "Se7en", but he leaves them with a small chance of survival, but with the cost of something. That's why I said a "somewhat" serial killer because he doesn't actually kill his victims, they mostly kill themselves. The main part of the film surrounds two victims who are chained up on the opposites sides of a bathroom and are given two hacksaws, and the hacksaws aren't meant for the chains. The one victims is given a slight advantage and has to escape and murder the other victim to save his family's lives. There are also various clues on how to get out, why they are there and a few side tracks to hide the true identity of the killer.
The film is very interesting at first, but starts to fade as the story develops as it's gets boring just watching these two guys just sit in this bathroom for an hour and a half. That is until the movie ends, which really makes the movie such a good movie. Since most good movies are sometimes soured by poor endings, this is just the opposite. This was an above average movie with sweet satisfying twist at the end that will NOT you hanging and yet disturb you at the same time. No spoilers here, you have to watch this one yourself.
An amazing film coupled with terrific acting!
I never been too much into biography films like "Nixon" or "Ali", but after reading several interesting facts about Ray Charles and the rave reviews of Jamie Foxx, I decided to check it out on DVD and I was completely impressed.
This is was one of the best and most refreshing films I've seen in along time in the midst of Hollywood recycling crap and putting in the box office. The film covers Ray's life from his youth to his 40's glorifying his uncanny ability to music at will and troubles to include heroin addiction, infedility and the pain that shadows him of his brother's death.
This movie is straight forward with really no twists, just revealing many of the startling facts of his life. What really makes this film first rate is the outstanding job by Jamie Foxx. Foxx along with a fitting dialog will submerse you into this film and will stir emotions. If Foxx isn't at the podium for this year's Oscars for Best Actor, there is something wrong. Foxx displayed nothing but pure talent and hard work practically being Ray Charles, in fact sometimes I though he was which makes this a movie a must see. His acting is so good, it almost shadowed another outstanding performance by Regina King who plays one of his many mistresses.
I highly recommend this film even if you're not interested in his music and don't like biographies. This movie will open your eyes with it's place in history and Foxx's ability to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. An amazing film.
Hide and Seek (2005)
Good actors shamelessly shadowed by clichés and bad directing.
What is going in Hollywood these days? Isn't anybody proofreading the scripts before they end up in the actor's mailbox. The movie is so full of clichés I couldn't tell if it was tribute film to Hitchcock or modern day spoof of M. Night Shyamalan clones.
This knock-off is about a girl (Fanning) whose has trouble dealing with her mother's suicide. The troubled father and psychologist (DeNiro) decides it would be best to move to the country for a change of scenery. Fanning is showing signs of post traumatic stress syndrome and DeNiro, the certified psychologist, has no idea what is going with his daughter or what to do about it. Did I forget to mention he's a certified psychologist? Now that the movie has you set up, Fanning admits to her father she has met an imaginary friend named Charlie, who she is never supposed to talk about. Now, the movie throws you a few more curveballs to include a snoopy female neighbor whose husband is obsessed with Fanning, the token clueless sheriff who shows up at convenient times and knows nothing about crime investigation, and the quirky real estate agent with pedophile like habits that shows at 2:06 in the morning to try to slip a set of worthless keys in their house they he forgot to give them when DeNiro he bought the house. Oh yeah, DeNiro starts to date a girl (Shue), only weeks after his wife died. Fanning is subjected to "Charlie's" weird behavior like writing messages on the bathroom walls, killing their cat and pushing Shue out a window and burying her. **SPOILER** It ends up being that every strange character you've met so far is completely normal and that Charlie is DeNiro himself, who suffer from split personalities. No, you're not reading the review for "Indentity", "Primal Fear" or "Secret Window." Somehow, this DeNiro mind decides to split at the ripe and fragile age of 55 when he finds out his wife cheated on him, and he kills her. Did I mention he's certified psychologist? In the end, DeNiro's colleague (Famke Jansen) rushes in at the last moment and saves day in a climatic scene that would make Dirty Harry blush, and utters "Hide and Seek!" to DeNiro before she shoots him. Nothing like ending a serious suspense thriller by adding a Schwarzegger line at the end.
This movie was a little suspenseful up to point where found out what was going on, but it's hardly scary. The dialog and plot are borderline insulting for a DeNiro film, and the movie had no room for the word "plausible." I would've had no problem finding out that Charlie a ghost, monster or one of those quirky side characters, real or not. Instead I was subjected to "It was him the whole time?" rip-off. The bright spot of the movie was watching another step to the potential future Dakota Fanning's career.
White Noise (2005)
We've seen tons of these type movies as of late and I really wasn't expecting much, but it was still dreadful. The movie involves a guy (Keaton) with a kid who loses a wife to mysterious accident. He is later approached by a paranormal specialist who claims Keaton's wife, and others, are trying to contact him through static or "white noise." Upon hearing what might be his late wife, he decides to buy computers, TVs, and VCRs and spends 80% of the movie watching static and moping. Yes, you actually watch him, watch nothing. After awhile he picks up certain clues that he uses to track future deaths (coincidently, he is only subjected to local traumatic events.) Along the way, he is present at two unexplained deaths, one attempted suicide and vehicle accident where he pulls a baby out of a flaming car in the middle of nowhere. I just assumed he lived in Mayberry because he is hardly questioned by any of the cops for any of the weird incidents or deaths, especially when his wife allegedly slipped into to a river while changing a tire. He is also being stalked by an unseen force (or forces), because he messing with Death's time line. This is an assumption of course, because the movie doesn't explain what's chasing him, or anything else in the movie for that matter. That's why I mentioned that this review MAY contain POSSIBLE spoilers, because there is really nothing to spoil.
To sum it up, the movie is really only good for a quick nap for a chronic insomniac. The plot is a dead as Keaton's career and if you've made through every "Sixth Sense" knock-off so far, this is a good place to stop. If you are expecting a scary flick, this movie is not even remotely scary, containing a few jumpy clips and predictable moments, which are conveniently shown in the trailers. And, if you like puzzling movies, you will be disappointed and puzzled because this movie goes nowhere.
This is what the movie looked like and this is what it is. If you've seen Stiller muddle through "Something About Mary", "Meet the Parents", "Along Came Polly" and "Envy"...then you've basically seen this. Basically it's another "Ben Stiller has the perfect life until something else comes along and then it's turns into a Ben Stiller vs. the world" movie. This time you get to see him struggle with a bothersome elderly woman tenant of an antique duplex he just bought. She's annoying enough to cause him to drive him crazy, but not enough to get kicked out. She plays her TV loud at night, knocks on their door and calls them all day, everyday. Instead of finding her in breach of contract of a loud noise level ordinance, he go through the great lengths of getting her out, to include booby-trapping her house and hiring a hit-man (but I guess that's funnier.) This movie has some "cute" moments with the old lady, but in the end it leaves you empty.