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702 reviews in total 
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Not as fun as the original, but has its moments, 25 July 2014

I'm not really sure why they bothered remaking this one. The producers don't seem to have had much to add. All the same, parts of this are quite enjoyable. While the lead is a little too bland-everyman, Beckinsale is fun as a very determined heavy, and the story itself is still twisty and clever, although less so if you already know the story, as fans of the original do.

There are some good action scenes as well, yet I was rarely on the edge of my seat. The special effects seemed underwhelming, especially that flying car chase, but they were decent (perhaps technically better than the original, which I haven't seen for years but which may not have aged well).

The look of the film tends towards monochromatic. This movie aims to be serious in a way the first one didn't, which may explain why the heroes are so bland.

While I don't think the world needed this remake, I don't object to its existence. It's entertaining enough. And the original wasn't such a masterpiece that it outrages me to see it remade; it was pretty silly. But between the two, I'd take the first one.

Surprisingly good, yet too trapped in Hollywood conventions (and product placement) to be great, 20 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I hadn't heard much good about this movie and wasn't planning to watch it, but then my girlfriend saw it on a plane and said it was great, so I decided to check it out.

It is a much better movie than I'd been lead to expect, a thoughtful movie with a nuanced performance by Ben Stiller as someone who has settled into a rut and spends his time dreaming of the adventurous life he'd like to be living. There are fun fantasy sequences, an engaging story, and a lot of nice scenery, and overall I enjoyed this movie, which is funny and heartfelt.


That being said, I felt the movie could have been a little braver. There was a moment, when Mitty is climbing the mountain and all that, when I thought, maybe this movie won't do the Hollywood thing. Maybe Mitty will realize that by taking control of his life, he can move beyond his obsession with the cute co-worker. That she, nice as she was, was nothing but another fantasy. I would have liked to see him start fresh. It's the sort of thing that could happen in a European film, but not in a mainstream American one. To me, this cheapens a tale of self discovery; was it all just to get some girl?

I also felt that sometimes the movie was a little too in love with itself, as in the getting-on-the-helicopter scene, which seems to go on *forever*. But then, someone else who reviewed the movie here specifically mentioned that as one of the best scenes in the film, so I guess some people consider it a soaring moment rather than a point hammered into the ground.

I could have also done without the sometimes relentless product placement. It's not so much an objection to seeing products in movies as to how perfectly framed they are in a way that just screams out, "THIS IS AN AD." Can't these things just be off to the side in a less obvious manner? I'm sure the corporations demand this sort of prominence, but it's hugely distracting to me.

Still, it was enjoyable and I'm glad I watched it. I just wish it had been a little braver and a little less pat and predictable.

Army of Darkness Meets Inception Meets Ghostbusters Meets Naked Lunch, 14 July 2014

This terrific, bizarre comedy is not necessarily something one can explain to the uninitiated. Most simply it is a story of two guys who deal with supernatural phenomenon, with the movie mainly focused on how they started out. The movie is done in the form of a horror/monster movie, although it's not especially horrific and gory. It does, however, offer exciting and surprising moments.

I found myself comparing it with one movie and then ten minutes later thinking it was more like a different one. The slackers dealing with the supernatural made me think of Ghostbusters. The special-effects-laden comedy made me think of Army of Darkness. The intricate, twisting concepts threaded through involving time and reality made me think of Inception. The bugs and hallucinogenic quality are sometimes reminiscent of Naked Lunch. (If I have to compare it with a single movie, I'm inclined toward Army of Darkness.)

It's a fascinating and original movie. The only film I've seen previously by the director, Don Coscarelli, was the (IMHO) overrated Bubba Ho-Tep, and his earlier film don't sound appealing to me (nor do his next couple, yet another Phantasm movie and a Bubba sequel), but I sincerely hope he's optioning the sequel to John Dies at the End because I would love to see something similar to this.

Enjoyable Action Romp, 14 July 2014

This movie improves on the last Thor film. It's nicely paced and has some excellent action scenes. In its eagerness to make clear to the audience that this is going to be a big action movie, the early part has a lot of chaotic noise to it, which is perhaps why the first scene I really liked was a peaceful one in an abandoned building.

Once the movie caught me interest I stayed caught. The story is coherent without any instantly noticeable plot holes, which is about as much as you can hope for from the typical superhero movie, and there are some nice surprises and some good WOAH moments. Performances were good.

It's certainly formulaic, but it uses that formula well.

Okay for kids, 3 July 2014

This energetic but rather forgettable movie is nicely animated and has a fairly interesting story, but it's not especially funny. If you're expecting something as good as The Incredibles or Up then you won't get it.

It strikes me as a good movie for kids. There's a lot of running around and a focus on the sort of antic humor that seems to appeal more to kids than adults. It's a very broad sort of humor. Had I seen this movie when I was ten, I think I probably would have enjoyed it a great deal. But for an adult, I wouldn't say this is a great choice. Although if you like broad, antic humor, perhaps age is not a consideration.

Notorious (1946)
I know it's a classic, but try as I might, I can't get into it. Here's why., 14 June 2014

I've seen Notorious several times. It is considered one of Hitchcock's great movies, and it certainly contains some skillfully created suspense scenes (the champagne in the ice bucket is kind of brilliant). Yet, I have never particularly enjoyed the film, and have only rewatched it in hopes of figuring out why people like it. But this last time, I got a clearer idea of why I don't.

First off, there's the cast. Claude Rains is great, but I'm not so hot for Grant and Bergman. Bergman is simply totally unconvincing as a party girl. She is a girl you cast as a nun or a secretary, not as a hard- drinking girl who likes to sleep around.

And while I usually find Grant very likable, in this movie he is anything but. He is an out and out jerk. Yes, I understand a lot of the conflict is between her need for words and his for actions, but it doesn't make him less of a jerk, nor make her anything other than an idiot.

The story itself has many issues. First off, the whole idea is a bit scatterbrained, and the fact that Bergman isn't told her assignment until she's done there seems pretty ridiculous; nine out of ten people would take the next flight home.

This movie is one where Hitchcok's McGuffin concept fails. For those not familiar with the anecdote, the McGuffin refers to that thing everyone in the movie and no one in the audience cares about.

It's a clever conceit, but it only works if you care about what happens to the people in the movie. It didn't matter what was going on in North By Northwest, but we were rooting for Grant to survive.

There is simply nothing I care about in Notorious. It is just two miscast actors chasing after something no one is even supposed to care about. If you want to see Hitchcock the technician, it's a good movie to watch, because he does a lot of nice things in it. But for me, it's just a difficult movie to love.

Lifeforce (1985)
This is a joke, right?, 12 May 2014

When Lifeforce started, I wasn't sure if it was meant to be serious or if it was a parody. It had the weird stiffness in acting and blandness in style you would get from an Ed Wood movie. And it's nude-vampire concept is utterly ridiculous.

But as far as I can tell, this is not a parody, this is just a bad movie notable only for having one pretty girl who never puts on any clothes.

When Poltergeist came out, it seemed so Spielbergian that it was hard to believe it was directed by Tobe Hooper rather than producer Spielberg. According to wikipedia, there is controversy regarding how much Hooper had to do with Poltergeist. Considering how good Poltergeist is, and how inept his next movie, Lifeforce is (and considering how minor Hooper's career has been since), I don't see any way he directed Poltergeist.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Really funny, increasingly amazing, 12 May 2014

This is a really good movie that becomes an incredibly great one in the last half hour.

What's nice about this movie is how well it dives into the essence of child's play. While the game has its characters and its sets, it's goofy story and surprise characters seems very much like the creation of a child unbound by concepts of what is right and wrong in storytelling.

At the same time, the story holds together in a way a kid's story wouldn't. For all its craziness, it's very well thought out.

Most of the way through this movie I would have given it 8 stars, but the final sequences are so utterly brilliant and unexpected that I had to give it 9.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Impressively Animated, 28 April 2014

Snow White was Disney's first feature-length cartoon, and it's clear he wanted something that would wow audiences. The animation is ambitious and wonderfully detailed. Of particular note is the scene of Snow White running through the forest and the scenes involving the forest animals. Those forest animals are the single most impressive thing in the movie, flowing and swirling like leaves in the air, almost constantly in motion yet never unpleasantly chaotic.

At the same time, these scenes have been so well parodied in other movies that at times they seem a bit absurd. Even before the parodies, there is something over the top about the dainty, domestic princess with a way with animals.

For me, the movie lost a little momentum with the entry of the dwarfs, whose broad humor interested me less than the more serious earlier animation. This is not to say that the dwarfs weren't funny, in that mild, Disney way (both now and as a child I preferred the sharp, sarcastic style of Warner Brothers cartoons to the genial Disney style), but the focus on comedy meant less of a focus on pure artistry.

The movie is also very much of its time. Snow White is the small-town girl ideal, a sweet and trusting princess who wanders into an empty house and immediately starts cleaning it. She has the girlish voice of Betty Boop without the attitude, and I found her a bit bland (although less so than Sleeping Beauty, many years later.

Overall, this is a very entertaining movie with moments of greatness.

Pretty bad, 28 April 2014

I really like the Resident Evil games, which had interesting if convoluted stories and, in some cases, really terrific cut scenes. I also like the Milla Jovovich films based on the games.

This, I don't like.

Degeneration begins with a bunch of exposition and setup that isn't remotely interesting. Action does come along after a bit, but it's not especially exciting.

But what makes this movie bad is the stiff, awkward animation and the stiff, awkward dialogue. The dialogue is really, really bad, and the story looked to be going nowhere, and after 35 minutes I just decided I'd had enough.

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