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King Kong (2005)
Truly A Masterpiece!
Let me just say that with all of the remakes that have been coming out, King Kong may have been the most deserving and the most in need of being remade. I could not think of a better director for this type of film than Peter Jackson.
King Kong stays pretty true to the original. Naomi Watts plays Fay Wray's Ann Darrow perfectly. Right down to her emotional connection with Kong, which is helped by the fact that Kong is pretty darn lovable when he is not ripping apart dinosaurs.
Adrien Brody plays a great Jack Driscoll as well. Brody is truly a gifted actor and plays a good hero.
Even Jack Black did a good job as the rebellious director Carl Denham. Usually I am annoyed by Black's performances, even though they are mostly in comedies. Surprisingly, Black kept his character serious and the movie is better for it. I though for sure he would be the one to ruin this movie for me but, again, I stand corrected. The comedy seemed to be reserved for Kong, himself, and did a wonderful job.
I can not express how much more I enjoyed this movie without the "guy in the suit" special effects. Kong was very appealing visually, as well as the other dinosaurs. I do not say this too much in reviews. In fact, I doubt I have ever said it but King Kong has turned out to be a masterpiece which will raise the bar for many years to come. 10/10
Æon Flux (2005)
I Liked It, Actually. Better Than It Is Given Credit For.
Aeon Flux takes place in the last city on Earth, Bregna, 400 years after a deadly virus wipes out 99% of the population. Dr. Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas) eventually found a cure and treated those that were left. Along with his brother, Oren (Jonny Lee Miller), the Goodchilds ruled over Bregna the entire 400 years in what had become a dictatorship.
A rebel group named the Monicans soon rose up and challenged the Goodchilds authority. Their goal is to assassinate the Goodchild family and win back their freedom. Their top assassin, Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron), is assigned to assassinate Trevor Goodchild and after making her way through a booby trapped field, makes her way to Goodchild. She gets him in her sights and has every intention of going through with it until Trevor notices her and gives her a look like he knows her.
I can not go much further without spoiling the story for some but needless to say, I think this movie has some nice surprises and twists and ties together nicely in the end.
The movie begins in a very weird manner, similar to The Fifth Element in regards to the special effects and overall feel of the movie. I also have to say that I love the fact that Aeon had to wear tight spandex throughout the entire movie. They could not have chosen a sexier woman than Charlize Theron to play this part and she does not disappoint, not even in the action scenes.
Some of the action scenes show a large amount of creativity while others seem to have been somewhat influenced by The Matrix trilogy. There is nothing wrong with that and Flux ends up with a style that is pretty much it's own.
Overall, I thought this was going to be a confusing and possibly boring movie. However, once sitting through it and giving it a chance, the story turned out to be just as good as the action. I never watched the cartoon series so I am walking into this movie cold and furthermore, I can not tell you whether the movie retains the same story but I can state that I did enjoy this movie. If you liked Elektra (and I know many of you did), then you should enjoy Aeon Flux as well. 7.5/10
Santa's Slay (2005)
A Badder Santa Than 'Bad Santa'.. But Only Because He's A Demon.
Santa's Slay is a horror/holiday movie. I do not think I have heard of a horror movie starring Santa Claus and, while it is not necessarily a bad idea, there is a reason it is straight-to-video. With that in mind, this was better than I would have thought.
It seems as if Santa Claus (Bill Goldberg) is actually a demon who lost a bet to an angel. Because of the bet, Santa now had to be nice and deliver gifts to the children of the world for 1000 years. It turns out that last year was year one thousand and now Santa is pretty upset and taking it out on innocent families.
Nicholas (Douglas Smith) is a teenager who has taken after his grandfather and is not particularly fond of the Christmas holidays. Soon, it is revealed to Nicholas how Santa came about by his grandfather. Since Santa has, for some reason, targeted Nicholas, he and his girlfriend, Mary (Emilie de Ravin), take it upon themselves to destroy the Christmas demon.
Goldberg was a unique choice to play Santa Claus. He is not exactly what I would expect in a Santa Claus but it turns out to be a great decision. Turns out Santa is buff and resembles a biker. Also, his "reindeer" is played by a buffalo and looks pretty bad ass. It matches Goldberg perfectly.
Some of the special effects were pretty cool and just as many were pretty hokey. I wish directors would not even consider the blue/green screen as an option if you plan on making a decent movie.
Basically, you already know if this is the type of movie for you. If you liked movies such as Uncle Sam, Frost or any other B-Movie that is similarly cheesy, then you will most likely enjoy Santa's Slay, too. If you are the type of person that finds faults in any movie and are hard to please, then skip it. It won't be worth your time. 6.5/10
Doom Will Satisfy Your Blood Lust.
Doom was quite an entertaining video-game turned movie. It promised violence and it definitely delivered. While you did not have to think too much about what was going on, it did have a plot with some great twists. I expected a straight forward "shooter" movie, very similar to the game and, frankly, I expected it to be boring. I was anything but. The video game style of the movie was limited pretty much to one scene. One awesome scene that, if you felt the movie lacked in violence in any way, should fulfill your blood lust.
Sarge (The Rock) is the leader of an elite USMC team which is sent to a space station on Mars to investigate a problem of disappearing scientists. Upon discovering most of the scientists dead, they soon realized they were not going to stay that way. I do not want to give away much more than that but there is more to this movie.
Sarge's team consists of Destroyer (Deobia Oparei), the religious Goat (Ben Daniels), Duke (Raz Adoti), Portman (Richard Brake), The Kid (Al Weaver), Mac (Yao Chin) and John Grimm (Karl Urban), who happens to be the twin brother of one of the scientists, Samantha Grimm (Rosamund Pike).
Doom started off pretty slow, but once the ball got rolling, it resembled the game more and more and kept the excitement up as well. All of these actors pulled off their parts to great avail. Really, how could they go wrong? I went into this movie with extremely low expectation. Especially after reading some of the reviews so I was very pleasantly surprised. I can recommend this movie to those who love a good, bloody action movie. Basically, if you can relate to Sin City, then Doom is also the movie for you. 9/10
An Enjoyable And Original Jet Li Film.
Unleashed, (or Danny The Dog), was a pretty original movie along with a nice platform for Jet Li to show off his great martial arts skills. Not only did we get to see some fast and brutal action from Li, but we got to see a bit of acting as well. Granted, it may not be hard to act like a dog, but Li pulled off some of subtleties extremely well. For example, he "fought as a dog would fight", meaning he focused on one opponent on a time, even while being beat on by others, just as a dog would. You really should watch the special features on the DVD to get an inside look on this movie.
Danny (Jet Li) is a trained fighting machine. We do not get to find out how he became so well trained or even who trained him to fight but we do get to eventually see the back story in which his "Uncle" Bart (Bob Hoskins) gets ahold of him.
Bart is a bit of a gangster or thug of some kind. He uses Danny to beat his opponents unmercifully. Anyone who does not pay what is owed to Bart gets a visit from him and his "dog". This gives the film an excuse to be a little more violent that most other martial arts films as Danny always goes straight for the jugular once Bart takes his collar off.
One of Bart's many rivals eventually makes a move to take out Bart and his crew which leaves Danny without a master. Wandering around in some of his familiar places, he meets up with Sam (Morgan Freeman), who takes him in and treats him like a person, along with Victoria (Kerry Condon), a young girl who Sam is also looking after.
As you may have guessed, Danny soon has to choose who to stay with. Most of you can figure out that the story would come to this and there is no need to spoil the movie for those who do not. Needless to say, more fighting ensues.
I enjoyed Unleashed and would recommend it to fans of martial arts movies, Jet Li or both. I rank it up with Jet Li's "The One" with it's originality and great story. 8/10
A Story Loosely Based On Hansel & Gretel (So Loose I Would Not Have Known It Had I Not Been Told)
As mentioned in the title, Grimm is, what I hear, based on the fairy tale of Hansel & Gretel. That sounded good but the movie I watched really had nothing to do with the story I knew. What we get is a decent, yet dark, movie that had some amusing moments.
Maria (Halina Reijn) and Jacob (Jacob Derwig) are an adult brother and sister who appears to have a sexual relationship as well. Gotta love the Dutch movie makers. Anyhow, Maria and Jacob are abandoned in the woods early on in the movie by their parents because they could no longer afford to take care of them. After the realization of their abandonment, they calm down and find a note from their mother in Maria's pocket. The note tells them to go to Spain and find their uncle who would be able to take care of them.
After a rough trip, they arrive at the address to find their uncle has died, which leaves them with nowhere to go. As you could probably guess, the siblings take to a life of vagrancy & crime to survive until Maria meets Diego (Carmelo Gómez), who kindly takes them in. At this point in the movie, you know that nothing good will ever happen to Maria & Jacob so Diego can't be good.
That seems to be the theme of the movie. I do not think they find one person who actually helps them out in the movie. Possibly, this is the resemblance to the fairy tale but, in all honesty, it does not seem similar at all to me, with minor exceptions of being lost in a forest, running into evil people, etc.
Overall, it was a decent movie that I felt could have done without the Hansel & Gretel connection. However, I surely would not have been as interested if they did not make that connection. It is what intrigued me to begin with, I suppose, but it is not what held my attention. The dark and sometimes humorous scenes are what kept me watching. This was not as good as I expected, however, I have spent my time in worse ways and on worse movies in the past. 6/10
The Brothers Grimm (2005)
Definitely An Interesting Interpretation.
The Brothers Grimm is a different movie than what I expected. It turned out to be similar to Big Fish in a way, but a little darker and with some awesome special effects.
Will (Matt Damon) and Jacob Grimm (Heath Ledger) start off as shysters, bamboozling local town people by setting up elaborate and "supernatural" schemes and charging heavily to ward off monsters, witches or anything else.
The story actually starts getting interesting when they run into an actual supernatural occurrence (or fairy tale). It seems that children have been vanishing in some "enchanted woods" and the French believe it is a scam similar to ones the Grimms have pulled.
While fighting off beasts and such, The Brothers Grimm encounter people who obviously inspire stories such as Little Red Riding Hood, Jack & The Beanstalk, Snow White and others. Altogether, things fill out quite nicely. It never comes straight out and says that Grimm's Fairy Tales comes from these stories but it gives the audience enough credit to figure that out on it's own, even though it is quite obvious.
Lena Headey deserves to be mentioned as the lovely Angelika. She plays a hardened and tough hunter/trapper who helps The Grimms and is also the love interest, which I guess is expected. Also, Monica Bellucci was a good addition as the "mirror queen".
I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Like I said, more than I thought I would have. The special effects were very nice. The trees move realistically like snakes. More believable than some of the giant snake movies I have seen, anyways. I can recommend this movie. If you like Tim Burton style of movies, then you should like this one as well. 8/10
Kibakichi: Bakko-yokaiden (2004)
Cool Idea Ruined By Half-Assed Production.
Kibakichi is a self-titled movie about it's main character, a samurai/werewolf type. The werewolf things, I believe are called Yokai. The Yokai are at war with the humans, who have driven them away from themselves. In a nutshell, that is the movie. The humans and Yokai fighting against each other until one side wins. Not much of a plot.
The movie had an old kung fu style feel to it, kind of like watching Kung Fu Theatre back in the 80's. The best scene in the movie was most likely the first one, where Kibakichi (Ryuuji Harada) fights off a horde of attackers. The movie was all right until the talking began. Whoever was responsible for casting the dubbed voices should be flogged. It was as if the guy from Kung Pow was in charge, or just as easily Matt Stone and Trey Parker. It was hard to take any of these characters seriously, including Kibakichi, himself.
Although there were some semi-cool scenes here, there is not much in favor of making it worth your movie, even for a rental (online or otherwise). Honestly, it really is just not worth it. 3/10
Tony Jaa Is Destined To Make A Name For Himself.
Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior more than exceeded my expectations. I have been waiting for nearly a year since I first heard of it to actually see it and it did not let me down. Although the movie started a bit slow, after about half an hour, things began to pick up and the movie never looked back.
Ong-Bak is about a small town villager named Ting (Tony Jaa), who sets out to find the head of his beloved sacred statue, which was stolen. Ting finds his long lost cousin from the village, Humlae (Perttary Wongkamlao), who at first claims to not know Ting until he sees that his village did not send him alone, but with a bag of cash to use as he sees necessary to get the statue head back. This is our first real look at Tony Jaa's talents, as the first chase scene begins after Humlae takes off with the bag on his motorcycle. Amazingly, Ting follows Humlae all the way to a pit fighter type of place where the real action begins.
Although the plot is pretty thin, it is more than made up for by Jaa's entertaining and seemingly impossible stunts. The movie plays up the stunts big, as it claims no stunt-men, no wires, no CGI, etc. With all that in mind, this movie is pretty mind boggling. Comparisons to Jackie Chan are going to be inevitable, and not undeserving. I can only imagine what the two of them could have accomplished if they did a movie together while Chan was younger. Simply amazing. 8/10
Transporter 2 (2005)
Felt Different Than The Original.
The Transporter 2 is about Frank (Jason Statham), a man who will transport anything, no questions asked. All he requires is that you stick to the deal and follow the rules, of which he is very strict with. In the sequel, Frank is transporting a young child named Jack Billings (Hunter Clary) to school and back on weekdays. That's right- Frank is babysitting. Nothing wrong with that, as it has little to do with the actual story once the movie gets going.
Due to an elaborate plan by the main villain, Gianni (Alessandro Gassman), and carried out by his ruthless girlfriend/sidekick, Lola (Katie Nauta), young Jack is kidnapped. Of course, Frank is the prime suspect by the police and is pursued from that point forward by the police.
After following the kidnappers orders and paying $5 million, Jack's parents retrieve him safe and sound and everything seems great. Without giving anything away, this is where the real problem begins.
Katie Nauta delivers a stand out performance in what I believe is her film debut. She has an awesome screen presence and would have liked to see her have a bigger part. She is exactly what Hollywood needs, in my opinion. Someone sexy, new and a little different. She reminds me of both Rebecca Romijn and Fairuza Balk.
Jason Statham is great, as usual. Easily the best part of this movie. Jason is England's answer to Jackie Chan. The fight scenes are a little more over the top than the original movie and the same goes for the car chase scenes. While the chase scenes were wild in the first one, it does not come close to the absurdity in the sequel. As seen in the preview, the car jumping scene is not very realistic. It looks like it belongs in XXX: State Of The Union. Don't get me wrong, I liked that movie and I like this one. A lot. I just wish it could have been more like the original. I would still recommend this movie and rate it 8/10.
Twenty Bucks (1993)
Surprisingly, I Have Never Heard Of This Movie Before.
Twenty Bucks is, quite simply, a movie about a $20 bill. You follow one bill in particular from one owner to the next since it first makes it into the general population from a regular ATM machine. This bill makes it's way through good people and bad, from homeless people to rich tycoons to drug dealers and back again. In this bill's life, it gets lost more than I would believe a normal $20 bill would. They are usually protected pretty well to be blowing around in the street constantly. Also, the bill stayed pretty much in the same area and even back and forth through the same hands a few times. All this may be unusual but when thinking on the subject, each bill's lifetime is as unique as our own and while unusual, not impossible.
Just like with our money, some people hold on to some bills longer than others and these people in the movie are the ones with the longer stories. Easily the most entertaining story was the one with Frank (Steve Buscemi) and Jimmy (Christopher Lloyd). Frank is a scam artist until persuaded by Jimmy he can make quite a bit more his way, robbing convenience stores. I felt like I wanted more from these two, which is probably why it was the best. It did not overdo it and make me sick of the characters.
This is is the type of movie you can recommend to those who have seen it all. It will keep you entertained for 90 minutes if nothing else. 7/10
The Island (2005)
The Island Is A Mighty Fine Movie.
The Island is about the possibility, in the not too distant future, of a clone farm, for lack of a better term. When dealing with clones, especially in the movies, problems usually arise due to the lack of knowledge in the area. In this particular movie, it does not give away that they are clones too soon (unless you saw the preview). We are eased into their predicament slowly, although something is quite different and not right. At the beginning, I got sort of a Truman Show kind of feel to the movie, as they are always being watched, either by computers or cameras, and their lives are controlled in just about every detail.
The clones are told that the outer world is contaminated and that the only safe place left is "the island". The only way to get to the island is through random lotteries where the lucky winner is whisked away to their new paradise.
Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) is the first of the "harvested beings", as they put it, to start asking questions and even has distinct memories that were not embedded by the corporation. While wandering around, he soon discovers they have all been lied to. Meanwhile, one of his closest friends, Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson), has just won the lottery! Just as she is getting ready to leave, Lincoln grabs her away and starts running.
The rest of the movie is pretty much a chase scene. One scene in particular closely resembles the one from Bad Boys II. That is not a bad thing, as it was still unique and fun watching the mass destruction.
Both Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson did a fine job in their roles. Somehow, I do not remember Scarlett being as hot as she was in this film but maybe that is just the movie magic. Either way, she has a new fan. Also, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Clarke Duncan, Steve Buscemi and Sean Bean did fine jobs with their roles. Duncan's role was pretty small but his performance was very strong and relevant to the story.
I was reminded of many movies while watching this one. One scene, while showing the harvesting, was closely resembling The Matrix. Also, one of the reasons I liked this movie so much was the ingenuity involved with inventions of the future. From innovated trains to literal desktop computers (that was awesome) to cars and even to an X-Box, those little things sprinkled all through the movie kept my eyes on the screen. Similar to I, Robot.
Although I would not have considered myself a fan of Michael Bay, after seeing this movie and realizing what other movies he is also responsible for (minus Pearl Harbor), I can say that I like his work and am looking forward to his upcoming Transformers project. 8.5/10
Where's the Party Yaar? (2003)
Middle Of The Road, Sometimes Funny Movie.
This is a movie about an Asian Indian family living in the United States. Mo Bakshi (Kal Penn) was raised in the U.S., is familiar with the way of life and is considered one of the cool kids. Harishkumar Patel (Sunil Malhotra), or Hari for short, is what the americanized Indians referred to as "FOBs" or Fresh Off the Boat.
Hari comes to the U.S. in order to go to college. Before he goes, he is foretold by his family in India that his true love will fall on him like lightning from the sky, that her name began with the letter "P" and would fall in love with him on the night of a full moon. On his first day in class he meets Priya (Tina Cherian). Actually, she trips onto him and he interprets this as falling from the sky and chases her for the remainder of the movie.
Throughout the movie, the FOBs are trying to get into the cool parties while guys like Mo and his buddies do their best to keep them out. I suppose this movie is trying to point out the differences between them and even goes as far as to say they are racist against their own heritage. It is a little hard to explain but I understood the movie completely.
This was titled "Dude, Where's The Party?" at the video store and billed as a comedy. After just coming off of watching Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, I figured this was a "can't miss" movie. While it was not too terrible, it was nowhere near as funny as Harold & Kumar (with the exception of maybe one scene). I kind of got the picture they were trying to capitalize on Kal's Harold & Kumar fame by releasing this movie afterward, even though it was made before and the box cover could be misconstrued as well.
Also, some of the actors are in need of acting classes or something. Most of the smaller parts I guess. I did not think the women were all that beautiful either, with the exception of Mousami Dave, who plays Poonam Mehta. Mousami was by far the hottest girl in the movie. With all things considered, I rate this in the middle and would honestly recommend to pass on this film. 5/10
White Noise (2005)
Slow Moving And Ultimately Boring.
White Noise, simply put, could have been so much better. I do not know how they got off advertising this movie as a thriller because it was anything but thrilling, not much of a mystery and had nothing to do with horror. The movie had a good gimmick with the Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) but the writers did not know where to take it from there. The only real special effect they used got old and once again, boring real fast.
Michael Keaton starred as Jonathan Rivers and to be honest, the character was believable. His reactions to most of the events taking place were pretty normal. Keaton just could not make up for the fact that this movie really has nothing to offer.
It would have been nice to see a bit more of Chandra West, who played Anna Rivers, Jonathan's dead wife. She was definitely a bright spot in the movie but her part was far too small and honestly, her parts with the EVP did nothing for me.
What more can I say? I did not like this movie and can not recommend it. The ending left no real conclusion and was more confusing than anything. I rented it and was still pretty disappointed. I am not sure which was worse, this one or the horrible Tornado which I reviewed previously. Maybe with better writers this movie could have been better but as it is now, I rate it only 2/10.
Nature Unleashed: Tornado (2005)
Why Would A Movie Titled "Tornado" Have A Satanic Cult?
After watching the death of his father by a deadly tornado, Josh Pallady (Daniel Bernhardt) is left with just a necklace or medallion of some kind to remember him by. Due to chance, Josh is sent to Romania to film a press conference & some kind of gypsy rituals. This is where he meets Irena (Anya Lahiri), a gypsy woman who reads tarot cards. Irena quickly identifies the necklace as the Talisman.
The Talisman, as the story goes, was given by the angel Gabriel to a king and would be handed down to the "chosen one", who would save the gypsies from the wind. This is pretty much when the movie went south.
The acting by everyone involved is pretty bad, terrible even, but at least Anya Lahiri was something nice to look at. Her acting was not as bad as the other main characters, either. This is not saying much, but she was probably the best actor/actress in the movie.
Plotwise, the movie would have been better with just the tornadoes & the tornado chasing scenes. The whole thing could have done without the satanic cult subplot. I do not really see where that fits into a movie titled "Tornado". Anyhow, if it was not for some decent looking tornado effects, which is why I wanted to watch this, I would have rated it lower. As it stands I leave it a 3/10.
Wedding Crashers (2005)
Owen Wilson & Vince Vaughn Really Click Well In This One.
Wedding Crashers is the latest installment in the new, over-the-top comedies cut from the same cloth as Old School or Meet The Parents. It will take it's rightful place in history along side these great comedies as it deserves.
Business partners John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) are also best friends that go way back. Every year they get together and go on a binge of crashing weddings to take advantage of the romance in the air and ultimately, to score with the jealous bridesmaids, or any other single woman for that matter. John and Jeremy are very smooth and do a lot of research to get a back-story that explains who they are, how they are connected to the families and why they are there. They also have what seems to be at least a hundred rules to ensure the crashing of the wedding goes as planned and of course, this could not be possible without the original wedding crasher, Chaz (Will Ferrell), who is not only THE wedding crasher, but also an innovator, as you will see.
This all works very well for them until they decide to crash the wedding of weddings, Secretary Cleary's (Christopher Walken) daughter and her new husband-to-be. John was unable to achieve his goal at the Cleary wedding of establishing a relationship with his other daughter, Claire (Rachel McAdams), who he is also falling in love with. Jeremy, too, is having his problems after achieving his goal with the Secretary's other daughter, Gloria (Isla Fisher), perhaps a bit too quickly, as he finds out it was her first time and she quickly attaches herself.
The long story made short, both John and Jeremy end up on an extended weekend with the Cleary family and hilarity ensues, very much the same way Ben Stiller was put in uncomfortable positions by his fiancé's family in Meet The Parents.
This was a great comedy in which I have heard compared to There's Something About Mary. I would not place it on such an iconic platform but it was very good and holds it's own along with other great comedies of today. Vaughn and Owen are a great team. Will Ferrell is typical Will Ferrell in his small bit part as Chaz. Christopher Walken's part was too small to really be noticed. Isla Fisher played the psycho first-timer in such a way that it even scared me.
The biggest surprise of this movie for me was Rachel McAdams. I took notice of her in Mean Girls and I believed she would be typecast in such roles for probably her whole career but she proved she could carry a movie as the lead love interest and was very captivating with her gorgeous smile.
If you liked the movies mentioned in this review, then I highly recommend seeing this one as well. It will not disappoint. 8.5/10
Fantastic Four (2005)
Better Than Daredevil, Not As Good As Either Of The X-Men.
The Fantastic Four was a pretty good superhero movie but it lacked something. I do not think it truly lived up to it's endless hype from early this year. Aside from a few scenes that stick out, most are in the trailer, there is not much there other than some slick special effects sprinkled about. It is understandable, however, due to the fact that this film is about the origin of 5 different individuals and how they gained their super powers. I imagine the next one (of course, if there is a next one) will be more action packed.
As for a quick rundown of the story, 5 people are sent into a space ship to gather information that would be helpful in curing diseases and other good stuff. The crew consists of Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), Reed Richards, (Ioan Gruffudd), Johnny Storm (Chris Evans), Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) & Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon). While in the space station, the super cosmic storm hits hours earlier than expected and all 5 are caught in the storm, forever altering their DNA (or something like that). The one that got it the worst was Grimm.
The standouts from this movie are The Thing/Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm/Human Torch & Sue Storm/Invisible Girl. The Thing & Torch stand out because of both their characters and personalities & Jessica Alba stands out pretty much just because she is Jessica Alba.
I feel that Reed Richards was more of an annoyance in the movie and not as likable a character as, say, the Human Torch. Also, I fear that Dr. Doom will probably forever be compared to the Green Goblin from Spider-Man, due to the hokey masks and all. Also, the voice for Doom did not quite fit for me. I am not sure if his voice is supposed to be that docile or not, but I always pictured a deeper, more menacing voice for him.
I do hope this movie is not as criticized as movies such as Hulk or Daredevil. This movie was not that bad, probably not even as bad as I have made it seem. I would rate it somewhere in between X-Men and Daredevil. 7.5/10
Herbie Fully Loaded (2005)
It's Good To See Herbie Back... And Up To Date With The Times.
Herbie: Fully Loaded is just what I expected from this next installment of the famous Love Bug series. I am not sure how many there were (and I am too lazy to look), but I have seen them all. The same things I liked about the originals, I liked about this one. Same with the dislikes. I am able to suspend my disbelief only so far. However, I do realize this movie is mainly for KIDS and I am able to let go of it's obvious flaws. I did like how Herbie was animated just a bit to show his personality just a little more.
Ray Peyton Sr. (Michael Keaton) was a legendary racer and wants nothing more than his son Ray Peyton Jr. (Breckin Meyer) to be the "Next Great Peyton". The only problem is that Jr. has a unique problem which causes him to crash for apparently no reason, even when no one else is around. The other thing is, Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan) is the more gifted of Sr.'s children.
After Maggie ends up with Herbie, although she does not really want him at first, he takes it upon himself to take on the current racing legend, Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon), in a street race and beats him. This strikes a nerve with Trip who wants to ruin Herbie and his mysterious driver "Max". Bet you can't figure out who Max is. Anyways, the racing scenes are very similar to the racing scenes of the past movies. I am not sure, but I believe the opening scenes were clips from past movies.
Matt Dillon is excellent as the antagonist, as he usually is. He plays the egotistical Trip in quite the humorous way. Also, Lindsay Lohan was beautiful and perfect for the role. To be honest, I may not have seen Herbie if she was not starring in it. Also, Michael Keaton has visibly aged here and not in a very good way. Justin Long also puts in a fine performance as Kevin. Also, I did not even realize I was watching a "G" Rated movie. I am not sure when the last time I saw one of those was but it was refreshing to be able to look back at the movie I just saw and not be able to come up with anything questionable about it.
If you have seen any of the Herbie movies then you know whether or not you will like this one. Please don't be shocked if you have seen them and still choose to go see this movie. If you did not like it, then it is entirely your fault. Maybe movies are too complicated for someone like that to enjoy. 7/10
Land of the Dead (2005)
Not The Campy Movie I Had Expected.
George A. Romero's Land Of The Dead was a much better piece of work than I had expected. I believed I was going to see something along the lines of the old campy horror movies I am used to seeing, such as Re-Animator or Fright Night. It even managed to separate itself from horror movies of today like Cursed or Boogeyman. This was on par with The Ring, but in a much different style. In fact, going on the special effects, the closest movie I can compare it to is Shaun Of The Dead. One could say that some of these scenes were clearly similar.
What separates this movie from others of the genre is the fact that the zombies are smarter, as in they are learning. They learn simple things like how to use tools, that water is harmless, etc. They also learn how to take revenge and sometimes even a creative way to kill. They are given a sense of life, in that they do not want to die (even though they are dead, already).
Land of the Dead raised the bar for all zombie movies with the awesome special effects and intimidating, lifelike zombies. At first, I thought Romero was going to overdo the zombies, showing them from the beginning, very clear in all it's gruesomeness. I was wrong. As the movie went on, the zombies were able to keep my attention with plenty of new "tricks" and gore.
Standouts in this movie are John Leguizamo as Cholo, Eugene Clark as Big Daddy, Dennis Hopper as the evil Kaufman and Asia Argento as Slack. Asia manages to bring a nice bit of sex appeal to this bloody gore-fest. Overall, this movie is recommended to horror and zombie fans, especially those of George A. Romero. 8/10
The Woodsman (2004)
Kevin Bacon's Acting Was A Little Too Good.
I usually write my reviews without spoilers but I felt a need to include one in this review, marked as a spoiler towards the end.
The Woodsman was a very dramatic movie about a pedophile named Walter (Kevin Bacon) who is released from prison after serving his 12 year sentence. Walter constantly has to check in with his parole officer, Sgt. Lucas (Mos Def), who has no respect for Walter and it shows. Walter's challenge is to start a new life without picking up from the old one. He is given a job as a favor and attempts to keep his secret away from his co-workers and everyone else. Also, Walter tries to reconcile with his family, more specifically, his sister with her husband and daughters. I would be a little leery of that as well.
I want to be completely honest about this movie and the truth is, I felt I might as well have been watching a real pedophile trying to pick up on a little girl. I can sit through the worst horror movies ever made and never flinch but this movie made my stomach churn. It seemed Nicole Kassell, the director, was trying to paint a sympathetic view towards Walter, just because he has served his time in prison.
The subject matter of this film is something I have always tried to stay away from. Movies like Gacy, etc., have never piqued my interest and, to be honest, I am not sure why this one did but I was never at ease while watching it.
I can even admit that maybe I am not mature enough for this sort of thing. I hope I never am. **MINOR SPOILER** I really did not like watching Walter ask the little girl if she would sit on his lap in the park. Bacon's acting was good but a little too much for me. **END SPOILER**
I can give credit to Kevin Bacon for attempting a role such as this. He played it a little to well I suppose and really looked like he was struggling. His supporting cast consisting of Kyra Sedgwick, Mos Def, David Alan Grier, Eve and Benjamin Bratt all did fine jobs as well. This just was not my kind of movie. I really do not think it should be anybody's type of movie but I can understand, sort of, why some people would want to watch it. I am just not one of them and am sorry I picked this rental up. I can not recommend this one.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Seemed Like A Cross Between Independence Day And The Day After Tomorrow.
War Of The Worlds was a science fiction flick that far exceeded my expectations. To be honest, I had no intentions of seeing this movie. I have never read the book or seen the original. In fact, the only reason I saw the movie was because the large line at the theater piqued my curiosity. That and the fact that I had family in town to see the movie with. I was not disappointed. The beginning of the movie (and at various points throughout), was very similar to The Day After Tomorrow, with all the scenes of storms and people running away en masse. Later, Independence Day came to mind because of the way the humans were trying to figure out how to kill the invading aliens along with other little details. Other movies also came to mind but those were the two major ones.
The plot is almost too simple. Earth is attacked by aliens after millions of years of planning. Upon the attack the humans run away and eventually, figure out they have to find a way to overcome the unsurmountable odds or be wiped out completely. One of the major differences between this movie and Independence Day is that ID had many stories and families being tied together by this one story. War of the Worlds focuses on one family, The Ferriers.
Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) has just picked up his kids from his divorced wife for the weekend and has no major plans until this unusual storm starts to brew. In what seemed like an instant, all hell broke loose and aliens which were transplanted into these ancient war machines buried under the Earth and started wreaking havoc. That is the movie in a nutshell, folks. The rest of the time The Ferriers are running from their attackers and along the way, getting closer and bridging the gaps that have apparently formed between Ray and his kids. The story is actually a bit more complicated but I do not want to go on too long about it.
Dakota Fanning is an amazing little actress to be able to tackle a role like this and to be so convincing. I found Justin Chatwin, the actor who played Robbie Ferrier, to be annoying. Every movie usually has an annoying character and Robbie was it. Also, Tim Robbins stood out as the scared stupid Ogilvy.
The special effects, although I have read to the contrary, were top notch. The close-ups of the war machines, especially the eye things, were pretty cool, along with the explosions, etc. Spielberg did a good job of keeping most of the special effects, especially the aliens and their machines, out of the trailers and ruining the surprises. I feel I enjoyed the movie more without knowing anything about it beforehand.
This is what The Day After Tomorrow should have been like and would recommend this over "Day After" anytime. As I mentioned before, I have not read the book so I am not sure how the ending is meant to be. If the ending of the movie is just being true to the book, then that's cool. If not, it left a little something to be desired. Without adding spoilers, I can not really get into why, but it just seemed a little unfulfilling. However, that is just a small portion of the film that I happened to dislike. Overall, I felt Steven Spielberg did an excellent job and I salute him. 8.5/10
Nicole Kidman More Than Holds Her Own With Will Ferrell.
Although it was not quite what I expected, Bewitched was not as bad as I have been led to believe, either. I am guessing that Will Ferrell is spreading himself a little too thin, as this movie was not as funny as his movies usually are. I did enjoy a couple of genuine, hearty laughs from this film, but again, not as many as expected. With those expectations in mind, this movie might seem to fall a little flat, but looking at the movie as a whole, it was still a delightful, little comedy that I enjoyed. Sure, it was not Bewitched, the sitcom, but it simply used the television series as somewhat of a guide line to go by. The story is a bit confusing when trying to compare to the show but is fine otherwise.
Jack Wyatt (Ferrell) is a down and out, nearly washed-up actor that has many bombs to his credit. He hatches a plan to remake the TV series "Bewitched", with himself in the starring role as Darren. The main difference between the remade TV show and the original is that Darren would be the focus and not Samantha, so for this reason, Jack decides he wants an unknown actress for the role, one he can virtually walk all over without knowing any better.
Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman, who is perfect for the role) is a naive witch who has just decided that she no longer wants to live her life getting everything she wants at the snap of her fingers and chooses to live more "normal", against the wishes of her father, Nigel Bigelow (Michael Caine).
Eventually, after many auditions, Jack runs into Isabel and is convinced she is perfect for the role. She is hesitant at first but decides to do the show. Everything is going fine until Isabel overhears Jack talking with the producers about how well the plan was going and this is where the fun begins. The scorned witch unleashes hell on poor Jack in many embarrassing situations.
We are even treated to cameos by Aunt Clara (Carole Shelley) and Uncle Arthur (Steve Carell). I am not sure how Uncle Arthur fit into the story other than to get Carell to do some hilarious stuff but Aunt Clara is actually Isabel's Aunt Clara, meant to be a coincidence. The resemblance between Carole Shelley and the original Aunt Clara, Marion Lorne, was absolutely uncanny. I was convinced she was the original, right down to her voice.
Overall, if you do not shoot your expectations too high, this is a nice little comedy featuring Ferrell, with Nicole Kidman more than holding her own with him. Isabel was a lovable and cute character. Bewitched did have a few surprises and was worthy of watching. 7/10
Batman Begins (2005)
DC Finally Got It Right. This Is A Grittier And Darker Batman Story
Batman Begins is a well told story of the origin of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale). It covers a lot of the same ground as Michael Keaton's original Batman, but goes much further in depth in many factors of his creation. It goes into great detail about subjects such as how he got his costume, what exactly it is. Same goes with the Batmobile. We also find out why he chose to be bat-like.
One of the more interesting aspects here is how it shows Bruce's father, Thomas Wayne (Linus Roache), and how he molded Bruce's life and instilled good judgment within him, a point which is misunderstood about him by most people he comes in contact with. Thomas, too, teaches Bruce valuable lesson, such as "We fall so we can learn to pick ourselves up". This is pretty close to the theme of the movie or motto Bruce Wayne lives by. The resemblance of the father & son is pretty good, too.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the training Bruce Wayne endured becoming "invincible". Bruce is trained by Ducard (Liam Neeson) in many ways like a ninja (The concept of Batman IS similar to a ninja). He is taught many valuable lessons in this temple and is shown no mercy. Eventually, we even see his first real enemy as a superhero/vigilante.
Although I am not positive as to how true to the comic book this movie is, I am sure it took a few liberties, as did Spider-Man. Most of the small examples I have noticed are for the better and make for a good story. The Batmobile is more believable as an expensive armored vehicle that the military would not spend the money on than a juiced up Corvette (or whatever that was). Same with the Batsuit.
Katie Holmes is excellent as Rachel Dawes, a D.A. who is not afraid to go after the big villains in court. Also worthy of mentioning is Michael Caine as Alfred the butler. I do not believe they could have found a better man for that role, although I could not get the image of Caine as Austin Powers' dad out of my head when he was on screen.
Finally, in my opinion, Christian Bale makes a much better Batman than the three recent previous ones in Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney. Something about him makes Batman darker and more mysterious. Hopefully, DC Comics and movies have learned from their mistakes and we will not have to worry about Batman picking up a sidekick in this newest installment of the Batman series. 9/10
Sort Of Like Closer, But Less Dark And More Comedic.
Knots is a comedy in the same field as the movie, Closer. Not nearly as hardcore as Closer was, and due to the fact this was a comedy, it was much lighter. I can not figure out why the writers decided on the name 'Knots', but as near as I can guess, trying to keep up with the story is like trying to unravel a knot.
This is the story of 6 people. Dave (Scott Cohen) and Greta (Annabeth Gish) are a married couple who have just moved into a new home. Their marriage is lifeless and seems to be suffering. Cal (John Stamos) is a fashion photographer who thinks nothing of cheating on his girlfriend, Emily (Tara Reid). In fact, he thinks is makes his relationship stronger, because if he is with many different women and still comes back to Emily, it proves that she is the one for him. He reminds me of Stifler from the American Pie series. Jake (Michael Leydon Campbell) is a poor sap who has no luck with women. Usually, it is either Cal or someone else who gets further with his dates than Jake, himself.
Finally, we have Lily (Paulina Porizkova). She is the wild card and the instigator of most of the problems in the movie. She seems to take pleasure in Dave's pain and the fact that she is mostly the cause of it. She is a lawyer with no scruples or inhibitions. In Dave's own words "She's a sick, twisted woman".
Dave comes home early one day to find Greta in bed with Lily and this is where his life starts to come apart. Both Jake and Cal's lives become a mess as well, because of a domino effect of sorts stemming from Dave and Greta's problems. This is where the movie began to remind me of Closer. You are never quite sure who is going to end up with who at the end of the movie, although Knots was not as well thought out.
The acting is mediocre. No one really stood out as a great actor here. John Stamos was probably the most entertaining and charismatic. Paulina Porizkova has not aged well for a supermodel and is a shell of her old self (which is still much better than many other actresses). The only bad performance was by, as much as I hate to say it, Tara Reid. She did not show off her acting skills here, or maybe she did, but that would mean that she is not very skilled at all.
Not a bad movie. I can recommend if you want a lighter, funnier version of Closer (lighter but by no means for kids). It is not a great movie by any means, but you can find yourself watching much worse than this. 6.5/10
Le violon rouge (1998)
Not Your Typical Samuel L. Jackson movie.
The Red Violin, or Le Violon Rouge, was not the typical movie you would expect from Samuel L. Jackson. It centers around, you guessed it, a red violin. A perfect, red violin which was the last made by legendary violin maker, Nicolo Bussotti (Carlo Cecchi).
This movie seems to take place in a somewhat parallel way in the past, with Nicolo's pregnant wife, Anna (Irene Grazioli), and in the present, during an auction for the illustrious violin. Anna is having her cards read by a tarot card reader in between each scene involving the new whereabouts of the violin.
It circulates between a child prodigy in Vienna, a music lover in communist China where the violin is an illegal western instrument, a great concerto player who uses the music to seduce women and finally, to Montreal, where the auction is taking place.
In between each scene, you learn a little bit more about the violin and it's origin and the fate of the Bussotti family, including why it is red. Also, with each story, you see why certain people participating in the auction are interested in said violin.
Charles Morritz (Samuel L. Jackson) does not even really appear, other than a few quick flashes, until the very end. It is then when we understand what Morritz is doing there and the ultimate fate of the violin, at least for the time being.
This was a good movie although a bit overrated in my opinion, it was still worth a watch. You have to be in the mood for this type of movie, as it is filled with sub-titles and is, ultimately, a foreign movie. Although I like foreign movies, there are times when I am just not in the mood. With that said, The Red Violin was a pretty good movie and if you know what you are getting into, it can be an enjoyable experience. 7/10