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The Perfect Storm (2000)
One of the most thrilling films I have ever seen....
The first half of the film is spent setting the stage for what happens when the storm hits, and also familiarizing you with the people involved. That part of the movie is fairly standard.
However, once the storm arrives on screen, you are on the edge of your seat until the very end. Having been heavily involved in boating and also having experienced huge waves that scared the hell out of me...although nothing like the storm in this movie...I know how powerful and scary the sea can be.
The special effects in this movie are the best I have ever seen and the scenes in the storm are incredibly realistic. I think this is an amazing piece of film making and one of the most gripping movies in a long, long time.
There is a secondary story, also true, about a Coast Guard Air Rescue group who perform incredibly heroic deeds. Those scenes, like the scenes of the Andrea Gail, are also scarily realistic and will keep you on the edge of your seat as well.
I highly recommend this film.....
Three Kings (1999)
An unusual mix of comedy and some brutal action....
Overall Three Kings is a very good film. Very different and very involving. But I have one major bitch. The film was shot in Ektachrome which is a color film normally used in home cameras for 35mm color slides. I am not sure why this was done as the result is washed out, grainy, and over-exposed. It almost looks like a home movie except for the many unusual camera angles. I assume the director felt that this effect would give you more of the feeling of actually being there since real life is not made up of the rich hues you get in Technicolor. Anyway, for me, I thought it detracted from the movie although after a while i guess you sort of adapt to it.
The basic story line takes up just after the truce was signed in the 1991 Gulf War. The U.S. soldiers are rounding up stray Iraq prisoners and making them disrobe so they can search them for hidden weapons. Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg), Chief Elgin (Ice Cube) and Vig (Spike Jonze) find a rolled up map sticking out of one prisoner's butt....forever from that point on referred to as the Iraqui ass map. While trying to figure out what the map is all about they are joined by Captain Archie Gates (George Clooney) who can read the map and determines that it shows where Saddam Hussein's stolen loot from Kuwait is hidden, including, according to Gates, millions in gold bullion.
Gates convinces the other three that they can sneak out of camp early the next morning, recover the gold and be back in camp before anyone misses them. In the meantime a brassy potty-mouthed tv reporter (Nora Dunn as Adrianna Cruz) is chasing after Archie as she has somehow got wind of the map. Archie assigns one of the idiot soldiers to take her out on a wild goose chase the next morning supposedly in search of Archie and his group.
As you can imagine, the best laid plans seldom work out as expected. When Archie and his gang get to the compound where the gold is supposedly hidden they find that a large group of dissident Iraquis are being held captive by brutal Iraqui soldiers. The Americans are forbidden by the terms of the truce from interfering in Iraq's internal affairs but the dissidents were encouraged to rise up against Saddam by President Bush and now they cannot get any support from the U.S. government.
Archie and his group are torn between just ripping off the gold and taking it on the lam or trying to help the prisoners. As you might imagine, Archie is a good guy at heart and makes a decision that he spends the rest of the movie probably regretting.
The movie is a strange mix. It has some terrifically funny stuff in it and in fact the movie is infused with humorous bits from start to finish but it is very cleverly woven together with some very brutal and shocking scenes. There were even a couple of scenes where I had to look away from the screen. And considering that the U.S. and Irag have declared a truce there is a substantial amount of battle action in the movie.
The performances are uniformly good. This no doubt is both Clooney and Wahlberg's best film outing yet. And Ice Cube and Spike Jonze (a well known music video director and also a soon debuting feature film director) acquit themselves well. Nora Dunn (of SNL) does a great knockoff of Christiane Amnanpour of CNN and her character Adrianna obviously gets off on reporting the action as bullets whiz by her head.
Overall Three Kings is very, very watchable and an unusual film experience. The movie is already being touted as Oscar-worthy and although I wouldn't go quite that far, it is definitely one of the better films of 1999. I would give Three Kings an 8.5.
The 13th Warrior (1999)
A totally different actioner than anything you have seen before....
The Thirteenth Warrior - (Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora, and many, many others you never heard of)
A very creative and unusual movie and quite well done. However, it is very, very bloody so be forewarned. However, the camera does not linger on any of the gore so it is not too bad.
The movie is a little slow getting started and a little hard to follow at first. Banderas is Ahmed Ibn Fahdian, an arab who is caught with the wife of an important citizen. Ahmed is more or less banished when he is assigned by the pasha to some outlying province in some obscure position. Some kind of ambassador I think. In traveling by horseback to the outlying areas he falls in with a group of Viking warriors. They speak a completely different language and he doesn't understand a word, although he has an interpreter.
A young emissary arrives in camp via boat and says that his father's fortress is being invaded and he has been sent to get help. It is determined by an old crone who is some kind of seer that it will require 13 warriors to save the village. Twelve of the Vikings step forward and the crone says that the 13th warrior cannot be from the north country but must be from the south. Since Ahmed is the only person there from the south he is enlisted into the band despite his protestations.
They travel by ship and then by horse and finally arrive at the "fortress" which turns out to be a large wooden structure on top of a hill with no fortifications whatsoever. The king, who is a little dotty, describes the invading warriors as some kind of monsters who actually eat their captives.
The scenery is fantastic. While supposedly in Scandanavia, the film was actually shot in British Columbia in Canada and the scenery is breathtaking. Once the group arrive at the village, the action accelerates at a rapid pace. The village is almost immediately invaded by the monsters and although you cannot at this point get a good look at them, they appear to be something other than human. I cannot go into any more detail without giving too much away but you instantly bond with this group of fierce Viking warriors.
Interestingly enough, although Banderas has a central role, most of the heroics are performed by the other warriors. Banderas' character, a very quick study, becomes a proficient warrior in no time and holds his own in the many bloody battles they fight with the invaders.
I found the movie a major departure from other movies of this type. Extremely creative and very unusual and a movie that holds your interest very, very closely. The movie is based on a book called Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton who is also co-director with the talented John McTiernan.
I think The Thirteenth Warrior deserves at least an 8.
The Astronaut's Wife (1999)
Very slow....but Charllize looks great.
I knew absolutely nothing about this film before I saw it other than the fact that Charlize Theron was in it. While she looks absolutely fabulous through most of the movie, and her acting, I thought, was one of the best things in the film, overall it was slow and not very involving.
In the later stages of the film after she becomes pregnant Charlize Theron's face becomes very puffy and not too attractive. Reminded me of her role in the The Devil's Advocate. I wonder how they did that to her face? Then there is one scene where she and Johnny Depp are making love and there is a closeup of his hand caressing her face. I couldn't believe that he had dirty, ragged fingernails. C'mon Johnny....you can afford a manicure.
As others have mentioned there was zero chemistry between Theron and Depp. In fact, he is pretty wooden throughout the whole film. Despite other comments to the contrary, I thought Theron was not only well cast in this role, but did a terrific acting job.
But for me, the entire mood of the film from start to finish is very unsettling. I never felt comfortable watching it. But the menace that is an underlying factor throughout the film is very subtle....probably too subtle. For me the film would have had a lot more zip if it had been a little more in my face.
The cinematography is outstanding with some very creative camera-work. The cinematographer loved close ups up Charlize Theron's lips. Not a bad subject in my view. The apartment the couple live in after they move to New York is incredible. I would say the rent on something like that would be about ten or fifteen grand a month.
Frankly, for me, other than the opportunity to view Ms. Theron, who I feel is the most appealing actress working today, the film was largely a waste of time and the ending was a let down.
The Muse (1999)
Sharon.....what's with the hair?
A mildly entertaining movie overall but too slow in too many spots. I liked Sharon Stone's performance but even that wore a little thin after awhile. I can only abide so much goofiness from my sex goddesses. And Brooks' schtick also becomes wearing after a while too.
I did like the sendup of the Hollywood characters who are totally overly impressed with themselves.
I thought Jeff Bridges looked great in an unbilled spot as Brooks best friend who turns him on to The Muse.
But overall, not enough laughs in my book.
Without a doubt the cleverest film I have seen all year.
For those of you old enough to remember the Watergate scandal and how it brought down the Nixon presidency (he resigned in disgrace), you will be very surprised to learn that the whole scandal was brought to light by two 15 year old airhead teenyboppers. And they were directly responsible for bringing down the whole Nixon presidency.
At least that's the story told in the movie "Dick." And it is a very clever and entertaining story and can be enjoyed even by those who aren't old enough to remember the original scandal.
The two lead actresses are Kirsten Dunst (Interview With The Vampire) and Michelle Williams (Dawson's Creek), two really outstanding actresses who both do a terrific job. They also have great wardrobes and you never see them in the same outfits twice....most of which are retro sixties stuff. Bright plaids and prints with headbands, capri pants, platform shoes....the works. And then the music is all the hits from that era....I had forgotten how many good tunes there were back then.
Anyway....I recommend Dick very, very highly. I see over 70 movies a year and I liked this one as well or better than anything else I have seen in quite a while.
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Finally an action movie this year that delivers....
Deep Blue Sea begins with some fairly suspenseful scenes at the very beginning. But then as it uses the first third of the film to introduce you to the characters and set the stage for what is taking place it is a little slow.
However, once all that necessary stuff is out of the way the movie takes off like a rocket and you are on the edge of your seat up to the very end. If you have read the other comments here I don't need to go over the story again.
The sharks are quite terrifying and I think the fact that they have incredible speed and can strike so quickly is what makes them even scarier. The other aspect of the film that I found quite creative and unlike anything I can recall seeing before, are the scenes where the underwater lab has been ruptured by attacking sharks and this giant wall of water rushes in sweeping everything before it. I am not sure how they filmed some of these scenes of people being overwhelmed by rushing water that tosses them cartwheeling down corriders and stairwells. It sure looked real and if it was, how they kept from killing somebody is beyond me.
There are a few scenes that stretch credibility....like the guy who jumps in a pen with a shark and proceeds to grab its fin and ride it and then treats this like it is an everyday act. Yeah, right. And some of the scenes are pretty gory and graphic. But those are minor quibbles. The real story is that the movie is very entertaining.
LL Cool J is the chef on board the sea lab and he has the best lines in the movie....most of them very funny. The audience I saw it with loved him. All in all, a very satisfying film if you go for this type of thing, which I must admit I do.
Inspector Gadget (1999)
Possibly better left for the kiddies....
I generally see about 70 to 75 movies a year and some of those include films that are probably more aimed at a much younger age group. However, in many of these type of films I can usually find enough to keep me entertained.
And Inspector Gadget had me hooked for about the first half hour but then without the help of an engaging plot, my interest began to wane. The tricks and gadgets that the Inspector (Matthew Broderick) is constantly pulling seemed to me to get a little repetitious after a while.
Joely Fisher makes a very bright and effervescent screen presence. Much more than I can remember in any of her previous films. And Rupert Everett, as Claw, the Inspector's nemesis, is a hoot. He plays the bad guy very, very broadly and is so different than any other role I have seen him in that it is hard to believe it is actually Everett in the role.
I can't say I am sorry I went to the movie, but it really didn't live up to my expectations. I would give it about a 6 on a scale of 10.
A really terrific film
I loved this movie. I thought Reese Witherspoon was really outstanding. When she thinks she has won the election and goes into her victory dance I thought I would die.
However the funniest part is where Matthew Broderick's character is getting ready for his assignation with a woman other than his wife at a local motel room. This scene is a total hoot......
I have seen 76 theater released movies in the past 12 months and in my book this was one of the best. One of my other top picks would be "Go." Unfortunately neither of these two films got much support from the public.
Wild Wild West (1999)
Could have been funnier.
Sorry, I guess I just don't get the Will Smith thing. OK....Independence Day and Men in Black were fun, successful movies, but in my book it was in spite of Will Smith, not because of him. His street attitude and jive-ass dialogue was bad enough in those contemporary films but is totally impossible to swallow in a movie that takes place in the 1800's.
But the biggest sin this new movie commits is that it just plain is not funny. It tries to be, and other than a couple of fairly amusing spots, the vast majority of the stuff is totally lame and not remotely funny.
In my book the only thing that even made the movie the slightest bit worthwhile was Salma Hayek in her underwear and the 80-foot tall mechanical tarantula.
I was a big fan of the original tv show and when I saw Robert Conrad (the original James West) on tv the other night totally dissing Barry Sonnenfeld and the new Wild, Wild West movie, I was kind of disappointed because I thought it is was in poor taste and just sour grapes on his part. However, after seeing the movie, I think most of his comments were probably on target.
It's too bad that the movie couldn't have been more entertaining and especially a lot funnier.