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A little sloppy, but not worth nitpicking.
Everyone thinks they're Roger Ebert now. While reading through the reviews here and on other sites I see a lot of quotes like "the first thing to be examined ---", or "there was too much CG ---", or "this character should have been ---", and so on.
The Indiana Jones movies, like most blockbusters, are not abstract pieces of high-art meant for "examination". They're roller-coaster rides; plan and simple. You're suppose to strap yourself in, turn off your brain, and just go for the ride. However, I must admit, even a roller coaster ride can do an unexpected jerk that can distract you from the good times.
Spielberg and Lucas are a couple of creative madmen. Who else could have conceived, or even attempted to pull off, some of the weirdness that is seen in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? I don't think I could. Most people can't, and this is what makes Spielberg and Lucas such a special team.
Being a creative madman has it's drawbacks. The Positive: You'll be able to come up with moments that have never been seen in the same way before. The Negative: Sometimes you'll push a few things a little too far; Kingdom of the Crystal Skull definitely does this a few times.
But the notorious, absurd, and completely unnecessary refrigerator scene, and a few other scenes, were not enough to destroy the experience for me. Overall, I had a great time, and I especially enjoyed the ending.
An unbiased review of the worst Kubrick film I've seen
Considering how brilliant 2001: A Space Odyssey and Barry Lyndon were, it's kind of hard to imagine Stanley Kubrick making a bad film. Unfortunately, throughout his prolific career, he did make a couple of clunkers, and Lolita is definitely one of them.
The comedy was misplaced and unfunny, the creepiness was corny and uncreepy, and the overall mood was as dry as sandpaper. The deepest, and the most artistic, scene in the entire film was the introduction. Aside from that, barely anything was impressive or accessible enough to draw me in. For most of the 2 1/2 hours, I watched each scene lumber by, and barely cared for what I was seeing.
Why was Clare Quilty such a front and center character? Was it because Peter Sellers agreed to play the part, and they wanted to see as much of him as possible? Is that why they chose to over-develop his character, give him more lines than anyone, have him play two characters, and stray completely from the poetic chords that made the book so moving? And why was Humbert Humbert's background so under-explained? If you had never read the book, the deeper reasons behind his sickness, and everything else, would be mostly unknown.
The story and the character development jumped about with hardly any subtly. For example: Humbert, out of the clear blue, begins to rant about his controlling wife, and a few moments later, he contemplates on ways to kill her with a gun. There were no hints about him having murderous tendencies within the story's chronology, but all of a sudden he does? And there is no sexual tension or chemistry between Humbert and Lolita; you can barely tell that they have a relationship at all. Maybe the 1960s censors are to blame for this. Nevertheless, the relationship still feels very shallow, unbelievable, and unjustified. Why would a beautiful young girl want to have sex with a man who was as old and as ugly as James Mason? This is never explained.
As a longtime Kubrick fan, I'm not afraid to say that this film downright sucked. I only give it a 5 out of 10 because it wasn't entirely awful. There were moments when Kubrick's trademark directing and cinematography sparkled through, but, overall, I was extremely disappointed.
Elephants Dream (2006)
Good Visuals. Good Story. Poor Directing. Poor Acting. Overall great for the Open Source Community.
Elephants dream had a really interesting story. I won't explain the story any further; I'll leave it up to you to interpret.
The lighting, modeling, special effects animation, sound effects, and music were all done exceptionally well. Visually, especially in still shots, the film looks incredible.
The character animation was good at times. In parts the characters moved very realistically. But at other times the animation was very poor and / or overdone. Animation Rule #57: Never have sections of the character standing completely still while other parts are moving.
The worst part of the film would have to be the screenplay, voice acting, and directing. With a better screenplay, director, and voice talent, I would have been able to pay more attention to the symbolism and less attention to the flaws.
Overall I think Elephants Dream is a great example of what Open Source Software can do, and I commend all of the talents behind the scenes for their hard work and effort.
Death Proof (2007)
A gratuitous use of feet, butt, and English language
Yeah yeah yeah ... Tarantino was trying to make a "grindhouse b-movie", but Grindhouse wasn't bad enough to be a b-movie, or good enough to be enjoyed on its own terms. Deathproof had many of Tarantino's trademarks, most of which were done so to the extreme it annoyed me.
I enjoyed the editing and camera work more than anything, but not even the excessive style could save the film from being a brutal bore during the endless talking scenes. And by endless I do mean endless.
If I wanted to sit and listen to people casually chat about every little thing that has happened or is happening in their lives I'd go sit at a bar or listen to talk radio. I can understand the appeal of listening to people chatting; it adds to the depth and realism of the characters in a scene. But I don't go to the movies to see something I can see down the street.
Aside from the talking, and the gratuitous foot and butt shots, it was okay. If you want to see a good movie with long dialog scenes, check out Oliver Stone's JFK.
Such an exciting sci-fi premise!
Sunshine could have worked better if it added a story element and took one away.
I would have loved to see more of the people back on Earth, and their reaction to the important space mission. This element wouldn't have had to take up a major chunk of the film; just a little piece to show a glimpse of the sentiments back at home, and to put everything into a larger emotional context.
*** spoiler beginning ***.
And I would have loved to see less of Mr. Angry Blurry Man! Oh why, Mr. Angry Blurry Man... Why... Why did you even have to exist? Why did you feel the need to add unnecessary frustration to an already frustrating predicament. "God told me this and that! I'm angry! I want to kill you! I'm so crazy you can't even get a clear look at me! Roar!" That's not an exact quote, but whatever.
*** spoiler end ***.
Despite a few annoyances, Sunshine is good enough to see at least once.
A good work of art that deserves more credit and understanding
Yeah, you can still hear Colin Farrell's Irish accent even though he is playing a Greek character. Yeah, there is less than a 1 year age difference between Angelina Jolie (Alexander's mother in the film) and Colin Farrell (Alexander). Yeah, its a little over the top, and most of the film lacks realism. But so what! :P.
You have to understand the kind of filmmaker Oliver Stone is before you can understand his films. Realism, usually, isn't his goal. Creating strong visual tones and characters that make you respond in an emotional way is his forte. He is a master of creating 3-dimensional chaos and drawing you in for the experience.
Alexander isn't Oliver Stone's best film, but its a lot better than people are giving it credit for.
V for Vendetta (2005)
A remarkably dense and multilayerd political drama
Its been awhile since I've given a film such a high rating.
Visually, V for Vendetta ranks among the best of them. Each scene is meticulously crafted with an obsessive eye for the details. Every word in the dialog, every light, shadow, color, and sound seems so carefully placed. Watching V for Vendetta is like entering the world of the graphic novel it is based on.
The obsessiveness leads to a little dryness in some of the acting, and a mild miscalculation makes a rainy porch scene a little too dramatic. But aside from these extremely minor and mostly insignificant nitpicks, V for Vendetta is absolutely brilliant. I highly recommend you buy this film if you enjoy thought provoking ideas, tense drama, and high octane action set pieces.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
A cluttered mess of poorly written subplots
There were too many stories packed into this nauseating wanna-be morality tale, and not enough time was spent developing most of the new characters. Spider-Man 3 probably would have been easier to tolerate if the stories were at least engaging and written well, but because everything plays out with the intellectual depth of a soap opera, I was barely able to tolerate it. There is even a character who, conveniently, gets amnesia just so some of the other story lines can have room to move forward. I kid you not.
The Sandman is one of the few developed characters in the film. Its too bad the Raimi brothers had to make him into what is, undoubtedly, one of the sappiest villains in movie history. What happened to villains who were evil because they were evil? Why must they also have nice sides? I can understand the need to add depth to the characters, but it seems like the Raimis are afraid to create genuinely villainous villains. The guy either goes crazy or has to help someone.
Because Raimi lacks talent as a director, Thomas Haden Church was forced to give this embarrassing and forced 'angry mouth / sad eyes' expression through out the entire film to constantly remind us Marko is angry, but... he also has a soft side. Awwww. I want to give him a hug now.
Venom is the only character who truly lacks humanity, but his story is barely explored. From what I read, Raimi didn't even want Venom in the film because of his "lack of humanity." Gwen Stacy is another character who just shows up out of no where and does nothing to move the main story forward. And May Parker, Peter's aunt, has become increasingly annoying with her long, drawn out, Yoda sermons on life.
In summary: Spider-Man 3 is garbage. Don't waste your money on this pile. If you want a serious comic book film, get Batman Begins.
Simon Sez (1999)
Kung Fu VS The Big Awkward Basketball Player
Simon Sez is one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen. Its another one of those monstrosities that you have to force yourself to watch only so you can brag to your friends about how you were able to "watch the whole thing", and to see their shocked expressions after you say that. Other than that, there is no reason to force yourself through the consistent ineptness of this poor excuse for an action adventure.
First off... It stars Dennis Rodman. That alone should be enough to turn most people away, but because I'm Mr. "Open To All Movies", I put in the video and watched it anyway.
Since my brain has an automated trash filter and defragger (I still run on NTFS), I only remember small pieces of the film. One scene that stood out, and shouted to me like an old woman with a bad hip, was the scene where master martial artist Xin Xin Xiong and some woman (I forgot her name) were engaging in a tightly choreographed fight. But because Rodman was the "star" and didn't want to be upstaged up by his "co-stars", a way had to be found to bring him into this action. But Rodman can't fight. So their solution was to just have Rodman stomp into the scene like Frankenstein and claw, pounce, and push his way through the fight. And this didn't just happen once. It happened many times...
Before I start cursing I'll just end my review here.
Don't see this movie. Spare yourself the pain.
To watch life happen in a natural and engrossing way
Amarcord is one of the few plot less films I've seen that not only works, but works exceptionally well. Amarcord pulls you into 1930s Italy and follows a variety of compelling characters through the good and sometimes stressful moments in their lives.
Each scene is delicious like a candy with a surprise fruit center. Even when moments are presented in a tame or natural way, they're always followed up by a moment of movie magic you wouldn't have expected.
Amarcord isn't one of my favorite films, but it definitely ranks very high on the list. I highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys watching life unravel.
Alone in the Dark (2005)
I wish I could use profanity in my review...
Its going to be extremely difficult to find a mature and civil way to describe how I felt after watching this... movie...
I really hated Alone in the Dark. I don't hate many movies. I was even able to find redeeming qualities in hot garbage like Battlefield Earth and Zardoz, but this pile of tedious bear poo really pushed my patience to the limit. I wanted to turn it off. I wanted to go to sleep. But I kept watching for the sake of the review I am writing now.
Nothing was good about this movie. The story was forgettable (I seriously don't remember it), the acting was high school talent show-ish, and the script was a mistake. It had to have been a mistake. I can't find another way to explain how a script as bad as the one used for Alone in the Dark could have been written. And the action... Director - "Lets play some rock music while the actors shoot guns in a dark room! Wooo! It'll look cool." Not an exact quote, but I bet it comes close.
Alone in the Dark isn't "so bad its good." Its just so bad. It was so bad the filmmakers had to add a 200 word title scroll just to clarify their mess for the test audience who originally screened it. And even with the backstory literally typed out on the screen during the intro, much of the film still doesn't make any sense.
Don't even bother watching this beast.
Annie Hall (1977)
The creative genius who needs to stay off his actresses
Annie Hall is one of Woody Allen's most original and refined films. Its really too bad he had to put himself in most of the sex scenes. Meh! And hearing him moaning during those sex scenes... Gag! Could someone please pass me a bucket and a copy of Mulholland Drive?.
Allen's horniness was only a minor issue in this extremely funny and inventive comedy. I know a lot of Star Wars fans are annoyed by Annie Hall beating Star Wars at the Academy Awards and winning the best picture prize. To those of us who have seen Star Wars and Annie Hall, and don't have a Wookie bias, its easy to see which is the superior film. Star Wars was not as refined, and the writing in Annie Hall was much stronger.
If you haven't seen this gem, you should definitely check it out. It might become one of your favorite comedies. Annie Hall is an example of what comedies used to be.... Funny.
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)
A great animated film killed by a stupid talking hand
If - only - that - stupid - talking - hand - could - have - talked - less! You could tell the actor who played Left Hand, Michael McShane, thought he was being really funny. You could feel the enthusiasm in his obnoxious voice as he talked and talked through almost every scene in the movie, even key action scenes where I found his rambling to be most annoying.
One scene that made me literally yell "shut up!" at the TV was when D was jumping his horse over a crowd of flying stingray creatures. The music was beautiful, and the scene was visually stunning, but that stupid hand... "Woah! Better watch out there, D! We're kind of close! To close for comfort! Blah blah blah ! I'm an annoying hand! Look at me! I can talk! Blah blah! I hope I'm not ruining this scene for you! I'm just trying to be funny! Blah blah!".
I wish an edit could be made of this film that takes out that stupid, obnoxious, talking hand. Without him, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust could be worthy of an 8 rating.
Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
A feel good film
I started to lose count of the clichés after the first 30 minutes, and I knew how it would end about an hour in, but I didn't care. This movie made me feel good, and it made me smile. I cheered for Akeelah until the end.
I do admit, it would have been a better film if it didn't have the annoying mother who didn't believe in her daughter's abilities, the kung-fu master mentor type character who knew everything, the jealous friend, and so on.
However, despite the lack of creativity in the writing, the heart of the story and its characters still shined brighter than its flaws.
4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Did anyone read the script?
This movie was so stupid and so predictable... I wish I could just forget about it and move on, but I promised myself I would write a review for all of the movies I've given a rating to. Anyhow.
I don't even know where to begin. The love story was a big typical cake covered in annoying frosting, Jessica Alba gives one of her worse performances ever, and Laurence Fishburne was poorly cast as the Silver Surfer. His voice just didn't match the icy look of the Silver Surfer. I could have sounded more menacing.
The only thing that held my interest completely was the ending, but thats probably because most of the money from the budget went there. I have a soft spot for giant scenes with a lot of special effects. What can I say.
But other than a few moments of tasty eye candy, there isn't much good about this movie.
If you want to see a good comic book flick, check out Batman Begins. Its the best comic book movie I've ever seen. Silver Surfer is an unfunny joke in comparison.
The 'Burbs (1989)
This movie cracked me up!
The Burbs is just as funny as it was when it originally came out in 1989. Some of the humor breaches over into the realm of the cartoonish, but the contagious enthusiasm of the actors and the director keep you locked in despite a few over the top moments.
Tom Hanks really gives it his all in this film. The whole cast gives top notch performances, but I was really taken back particularly by Hanks, especially during the last scenes. You can literally see his star forming. The subtle details in his acting which have become his trademarks are all here.
If you're tired of the raunchy, explicit, and talentless jokes written into many of today's films, check out The Burbs. Its a classic.
300: A tale about men with too many muscles who yell a lot and fight in slow motion
I don't get it...
Why do so many people like this incredibly stupid and boring film? Is all the "wooting" and praise because of the visuals? Yeah, the movie was shot against a blue screen and had a year of post-production work done to it, but what about the production design itself? To me, the actual style of the film was lackluster. Everything was a muddy brown color, and the shadows were too dark.
The movie wasn't a complete waste, hence my rating. There were a couple of good visuals in the film, particularly with the 1/2 naked woman moving in slow motion through, what seemed like, water. But other than that, and a few nice punches and kicks, I saw nothing particularly special about 300. Even the fight scenes were annoying with their gratuitous use of slow motion before and after every hit.
If you want to see a good visual film that also has a story, I highly recommend Sin City.
Serial Experiments Lain (1998)
Brilliant and always fascinating
There were more twists, turns, and surprises in this series than I could keep up with. But, to my surprise, the mind bending, shape shifting, chaotic nature of the narrative didn't turn me off, or put me to sleep. I believe Lain was able to hold my attention because everything connected tightly and carefully to the main characters, and to the main ideas.
This is how experimental films can work. You can drop the viewer into as many rabbit holes as you'd like to, but you must keep at least one spotlight focused on the main idea so the viewer's orientation (or attention) isn't completely lost.
I really enjoyed Lain. And not understanding what had happened after it was over didn't bother me in the least. The wild ride alone was good enough for me.
The Blue Planet (2001)
Stunning but slightly repetitive
Blue Planet... Wow... Where do I begin? The years of hard work paid off in what is, without question, one of the best documentaries ever created.
The sights and sounds presented in Blue Planet, like most documentaries with the Attenborough stamp, are rare and haven't even experienced by most people. That alone should be enough reason to buy this series, especially if you're the curious type who 'wants to know'.
Blue Planet is not a perfect documentary, however. It does get a bit repetitive after the 3rd episode. How many ways can different sea creatures swim, kill, poo, mate, and lay eggs, and do all of these ways really need to be explored? But if you have a deep interest in sea life, this repetition shouldn't become a problem for you at all.
Inland Empire (2006)
Too much of a good thing
Federico Fellini's Satyricon and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey are two of my favorite films. I don't mind abstract imagery, or long films with slow pacing. David Lynch's Mulholland Drive also ranks very high on my favorite films list. Cryptic story telling is exciting to be apart of as long as there are enough clues given throughout the film to allow a clear interpretation.
I wasn't bothered by Inland Empire because it was abstract, long, or cryptic. Inland Empire didn't work for me because it was ALL of these things to the second power. If it was shorter in length, it probably would have been easier for me to digest the cryptic and abstract imagery. If the story was told in a more direct way, the length probably wouldn't have become an issue. I found myself drifting far too often during this film. And when I tried to watch it again, I still couldn't get through it without thinking about something else. Inland Empire didn't give me any entry points, so my mind was left outside looking in, and free to wander to other places during the last 2 hours.
David Lynch is one of my favorite directors. I have enjoyed most of the work he has done, including Eraserhead. But I felt Inland Empire was far too sporadic, even for my taste. I give it a 6/10 for its moments of inspired creativity, and for the guts Lynch had to make a film that is probably one of the most experimental I've ever seen.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
28 Weeks Later: Stupid Characters and Gratuitous Nasty
28 Weeks Later is an obnoxious and gratuitously nasty movie full of stupid characters who make stupid decisions.
(BEGINNING OF SPOILERS).
You have the stupid kids who bring the infection back because they had to retrieve some personal items from their home which was sealed off in a quarantined area. You have the stupid father of these children who kisses his wife, a woman has spent weeks around the infected, before her blood test results come in. And then you have the stupid military who are 1) too stupid to stop the kids before they run too far into the quarantined area, 2) are too stupid to have someone guard the room where the infected mother is being kept, 3) aren't smart enough to come up with a plan other than "lets blow up everything" once the infection breaks out again, and 4) are too stupid to tell the difference between zombies and healthy people, even when those people aren't growling, are yelling "help!" in clear English, and are able to drive down a street in an automobile. "I'm not taking those people!".
(END OF SPOILERS).
28 Weeks Later is a stupid, stupid movie with very few redeeming qualities. Just stick with the first film if you want something that is at least watchable.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
A Modern Day Classic: A True Pile of Awful
The movie is so stupid its almost offensive, but for some reason I can't stop bringing it up, even 7 years after its initial release.
Where do I start? Well, I'll start with the obvious... The acting, dialog, story, and the cinematography is absolutely awful; some of the worse you'll see in a motion picture. The only good thing about Battlefield Earth are some of the ideas it explores (a new beginning for humanity after a great catastrophe), the special effects, sound effects, and some of the lighting.
The director claimed he was going for a "comic book" feel in the DVD commentary, hence the massive plot holes and the 'drunk man leaning on a steep hill shooting style'. Sure... But even comic books have some degree of realism and story structure. Me thinks Roger Christian just sucks as a director.
But even in the midst of this pile of awful I still find myself strangely drawn to this film. Maybe because I enjoy seeing car wrecks?
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Stanley Kubrick's most perfect film
It took awhile for me to finally see this film. I just didn't want to see a "costume drama". I was expecting a cheesy Lifetime quality film. Wow... was I wrong. I should have known better, though. It was by Stanley Kubrick, after all.
After seeing the Barry Lyndon, uninterrupted, my entire view of what a costume drama could be changed. Barry Lyndon is now on my favorite films ever list. The story of the lead character, the people he encounters, the good and bad that comes to his life, is all told through master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, the film's writer, producer, and director.
Barry Lyndon is 3 hours perfection. I seriously can't find anything wrong with it. Everything from the acting, cinematography, music, to the screenplay is top notch.
If you're a true Stanley Kubrick fan, meaning you don't watch his films solely for the sex and violence, and actually enjoy his talents as an artist, check out Barry Lyndon. You'll be very happy you did.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
a mind blowing odyssey through time and space
2001: A Space Odyssey is my favorite film. Its not as perfect as some of the other movies I've seen (TSharpFilm's Perfection Award would probably go to Lawrence of Arabia or Barry Lyndon), but I can't think of another film that makes me go "wow..." more.
Stanley Kubrick created a smart and ambitious experience that explores ideas most filmmakers wouldn't have the courage to scratch the surface of, or the curiosity to consider significant. Although many of the key story elements are presented in an ambiguous way, there is still enough information given to hold your attention through out the 141 minute runtime. And after its all over, you're left memories to reflect on and discuss for the next week, or maybe for the next month, or maybe 40 years after its initial release.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
An obnoxious and rushed effort
Disney's Atlantis was a large bucket of three dimensional dirt mixed with two dimensional sadness. There was hardly anything good about this film. The animation had hideous flaws, and the story was poorly paced and typical.
Everyone was telling me how great the 2D and 3D blended together... Not really...
There was a scene where a 2D character was holding a 3D book. The book slid around the character's hands as if it was caked in chicken grease. Would it have killed them to just cel animate the book into the character's hand? How lazy has Disney become?.
The movie wasn't a complete wreck. There were some inspired visuals. But a few good scenes weren't enough. This is what happens when executives who know nothing about art try to tell artists what to do.