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Dragonball Evolution (2009)
A fun time as long as you're expecting an adaptation and not a live-action re-enactment of the comics/cartoon
I just came back from seeing this. It was a lot of fun and, much to my delight, it's truer to the spirit of Dragonball than Dragonball Z.
Chow Yun-Fat steals every scene he's in and really got the personality of Roshi 100%. The kid playing Goku was surprisingly good in the role. I like the real world approach to his every day life (all the stuff at the high school) but I also appreciate that they kept that brief so as not to outstay its welcome.
I was also surprised to see that Akira Toriyama served as executive producer for the movie.
It's basically a fun quest movie that manages not to drag or outstay its welcome. That said, I feel that the film may have gotten cut a lot in order to make the runtime leaner. There are some awkward cuts here and there. The most that stands out in my mind is when Yamcha first meets Roshi. There's a funny misunderstanding when Yamcha offers Roshi a fist bump. While the gag is in full swing, the scene suddenly cuts to Yamcha drilling a hole through a wall so they can reach the next Dragonball.
I wouldn't be surprised if there is an extended cut on BD/DVD and I'd be all for it since there are some loose threads/plot holes the film proper never addresses.
**SPOILERS** It's never explained how Piccolo escaped his prison. It's never explained how Roshi expected the new Ma Fu Ba seal to work with only his life essence when it took the lives of seven mystics to seal Piccolo in the first place. It is also never addressed why Mai serves Piccolo. **SPOILERS**
I would also have liked just a little more time (though not so much time that it would totally veer into Dragonball Z territory) spent in the Toi San tournament.
Anyhoo, it's a good movie and I'll gladly watch it again and purchase the eventual BD release.
Oh and it's nice to see Ernie Hudson still getting work, even if it was just an extended cameo at best.
I'd also like to add that the score by Brian Tyler was very good and anyone who enjoyed it should definitely pick up a copy of soundtrack CD as the music holds up quite well on its own.
Wo hu cang long (2000)
Not As Great As Advertised
I'm sorry but this movie is way too over-hyped. Don't get me wrong, it's good but not as great as advertized. The characters are shallow and sadly underdeveloped, the acting was very weak (especially Chow Yun-Fat who was inexplicably terrible in this film) and, yes, only one fight scene (the secon fight between Michelle Yeoh and Zhang ZiYi towards the end of the film) was any good. The plot is nowhere near being original and the characters have no real motivation. Even worse, the best performance in the film (Cheng Pei-pei as Jade Fox) was sadly all too short. I could not care about Li Mu Bai's fate since I felt nothing for him. As much as I wanted to feel something for Jade Fox (again, the best performance in the whole film) but she was underdeveloped. Cheng Pei-pei impressed me so much as an actress that, while watching the film, I was hoping for a five to ten minute monologue with her detailing her past with Li Mu Bai's teacher. Then I could decide wether I felt her character was wronged, misguided, or just plain evil. Jen was simply annoying and I was hoping for her death all throughout the film. I love Michelle Yeoh as an actress and, despite a solid performance, I felt she was not at her best. Both romances were quite boring and I only had marginal interest in the romance relating to Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien because I felt a degree of simpathy for Shu Lien (due greatly to Michelle Yeoh's performance). I'm a HUGE Chow Yun-Fat fan which is why I was horrified at his "I'm only here to sell this movie" cardboard cut-out performance. Had this been the first film I had ever seen him in, I'd never give anything he ever starred in even a glance.
The fights were pathetic save for that second fight between Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi. Nuff said.
As for the score, I only noticed there was music in this film during the awful desert flashback scene. To be honest, I wish I hadn't noticed the uninspired music at all.
The cinematography was nothing to write home about. The scenery and settings were gorgeous but the cinematography itself was quite ameteurish. The sets were gorgeous and inmense and the supporting characters were fun and well acted.
Despite the fact that it may sound like I hate this film. In all honesty, I don't. It was filled with good intentions but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The film was way too hyped when it is nothing more than an average weekend rental.
It's by no means terrible but by no means the greatest movie of this or any year.
Well, those are my two cents.
The Fugitive (2000)
Bad news for fans of "The Fugitive"
As a child (although in many ways I'm STILL a child *L*), unlike my contemporaries, I grew up watching reruns of shows like "Batman," "I Dream Of Jeannie," "The Love Boat," "Star Trek" (original series), and, of course, "The Fugitive."
When I first heard of a theatrical version starring Harrison Ford (who played Han Solo, the only character at the time that I liked from "Star Wars"), I jumped to see Dr. Kimble and the One-Armed Man make the leap to the big screen. As if my excitement and expectation level wasn't high enough, I did cartwheels in my living room when I found out that the gorgeous Sela Ward was to play Helen Kimble and the great Tommy Lee Jones was to play the great U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard. When I finally went to theatres to see the movie, was I disappointed? I'd say of course not but I'd be lying. Sure the film had the added bonuses of Joe Pantoliano, Andreas Katsulas (playing the bushy haired One-Armed Man, no less -- if you're a true fan of the original series you'll know why I mention the hair), and a cast of entertaining supporting characters. Add to all that a series of great action sequences and you've got a great movie. But there was still something missing. That something was all the subplots that appeared in every episode of the series (with the exception of the two-part series finale). I did understand, though, that this was due to the fact that all the subplots would have taken away from the movie by not focusing enough on the main plot (the search for the One-Armed Man). That and it'd make for a movie length that would rival even the longest of epics (not that I'd mind). Definitely something that would make mainstream audience members looking for some entertainment look at their watches hoping it would end or simply doze off hoping someone would wake them once the end credits began to role.
That was 1992.
Flash forward to the year 2000 and Dr. Richard Kimble is back on the run. This time the chase for the good doctor in search of his wife's one armed murderer is back on the small screen. This time Dr. Kimble is portrayed by Tim Daly (of the series "Wings" and the voice of the Man of Steel in "Superman: The Animated Series"), Helen Kimble by Kelly Rutherford (best known as Megan Lewis Mancini McBride in "Melrose Place") and Lt. Philip Gerard (nice touch by whoever chose to return the original name) is portrayed by Mykelti Williamson (sorry, I never heard of him before). This series chooses to take its basis from the movie rather than the original series. This is not surprising since most TV viewers these days are surprised to hear that there was actually a series before the movie. Is this bad? Not really since the movie added it's own twists and turns to the tale of Dr. Richard Kimble's search for his wife's killer. Also, it had the potential to merge the movie's approach with that of the original series. Was this accomplished? After seeing the pilot, I can honestly say this not so. This series tends to focus on over-the-top action sequences (an obvious attempt to attract those only watched the movie the bus/train wreck featured prominently in the film's trailer) and only marginally focusing on Kimble's interaction with the different people he meets (and often helps) along his way towards the One-Armed Man and as he hides from Gerard's pursuit. Sadder still is that all the character's are one-dimensional and end up being mere caricatures rather than the real people they were meant to be. Worse of all is the treatment of the Sam Gerard. He's impossible to like. True he's Kimble's pursuer but he was simply a man who took his job seriously, not some super prick that has a vendetta against Kimble for reason's that are too ridiculous to believe (yes, many cops can be driven by ego but there's always a motive for that ego -- that's not present here). Worse still, this only the first episode of the series and Kimble will already square off against the One-Armed Man in the next.
But there are other reasons to dislike this new rendition of such a classic series. For example, most of the dialogue is recycled from the movie and the plot of this series itself is only a slight rewrite of the movie. I wouldn't be surprised if Povasic (or something similar) makes an appearance as a random plot point later in the series.
In short, this is very bad news for old school "Fugitive" fans. But what can you expect from a television season that has premiered crap like "Dark Angel" (I didn't need to watch that one to know how idiotic it'd be)?
Boys Don't Cry (1999)
Might try to finish watching it... but why bother?
I'll be honest. When I first heard about this film, I wasn't interested. Sure everyone was yacking about the "deep social issues" it presents and blah blah blah. I didn't care. Not even the taboo factor (if, considering this day and age, there really is one -- yeah I know lots of people still find it shocking) was enough to make me want to see this movie. Then along comes my girlfriend and writes to me about how wonderful and moving this film is and how believable Hilary Swank is as a guy. Usually my girlfriend is right but this time she was dead wrong. I was bored after only five (yes, FIVE) minutes. I figured, maybe it's just taking a little long to get started so I sat through another ten minutes. By then I knew I hated this movie. Hilary Swank is in no way a convincing male (not just because of her obvious physical features but she's too feminine when trying to behave masculine). So I left the film on and went to the bathroom to shave. After about another 10 minutes (I had no shaving cream), I went back to the movie. It was still crap. So I turned it off and popped in "Bringing Out The Dead" (by far a much superior movie). I know this movie was based on actual events but I don't care. Garbage is garbage no matter what it's based on. I know people will REALLY hate me for trashing this movie but I don't care. When I told my girlfriend how much I hated it she was in shock. In all honesty, I sorta felt I was treating this film harshly since I had just viewed a movie that really spoke to me (again, "Bringing Out The Dead") just prior to viewing this one. Then again, "Bringing Out The Dead" is a slow paced love it/hate it movie so perhaps the comparison isn't so bad. After all, wouldn't "Bringing Out The Dead" be the obvious loser between the two? Yet it wasn't. I may try to watch the whole movie someday (with ALOT of black coffee and LOTS of soda and candy) but I honestly don't see why I should bother.
For those of you that may accuse me of being sexist or god knows what, I actually have liked so-called chick-flicks to the point that I believe there is no such thing. I might also add that sexual choices and differences do not offend me in any way.
Also, for those who think I don't know my ass from my elbow, if you truly want to see a female actor playing a convincing male watch Linda Hunt's performance of Billy Kwan in `The Year of Living Dangerously.' Nuff said.
Romeo Must Die (2000)
An enjoyable 115 minutes... so long as you can ignore the CGI and forget that you've ever seen a Jet Li movie before
I know what you're thinking: "He's gonna trash this movie, mercilessly." Sorry to disappoint you but I am not. This is not great cinema of any genre but it can be an enjoyable way to spend 115 minutes. In order to enjoy this film, (A) if you've seen a Jet Li film before, you must forget what you've seen. If you do not, you'll quickly realize that none of the fight scenes are even remotely original. (Nothing you do can make up for the horrible choice of CG enhancing the fight scenes.) Once you've done this, the fights can be truly enjoyable (the most notable highlight being the John Woo-esque gunplay towards the end of the opening fight sequence). The next thing you must do is (B) accept the fact that this film will NOT explore the characters in a balanced in-depth way. (Minus a few notable exceptions, what action movie ever does?) This is noted in the fact that Isaiah Washington's Mac (a black gang member) is overly present (despite the fact that he fails to deliver any stature whatsoever as a villain and/or would-be usurper) while Russell Wong's Kai Sing is barely seen and, thusly, hardly explored. Still Russell Wong more than makes up for his lack of scenes by his great presence and cooler-than-you demeanor. What you must also do is (C) face the fact that this movie will not fully exploit two possible roads (it could have been a hard-core shoot-em-up or a heavy, well acted, drama -- had the casting been better -- with some thrilling action sequences to heighten the tension). It remains constantly locked in a middle ground.
If all these factors are taken into account, the film can be enjoyed to it's fullest. The added humour between Jet Li and his black co-stars (having him try to behave like a "brotha" was an excellent treat) helps greatly.
I actually enjoyed this film despite its flaws and believe anyone can enjoy it even though they can make one cringe at times and the pacing of the film is uncomfortably slow. Out of a possible ten, I'd have to give this film a six. I eagerly await the day filmmakers finally decide to exploit Jet Li's prowess AND his clear presence to their fullest, thus giving filmgoers the type of martial arts film they deserve.
The Transformers: The Movie (1986)
A Diamond in the Rough
The Transformers: The Movie was and is one the greatest animated films of the 80s. Yes, there are continuity problems, the plot is somewhat predictable, and the story-line is somewhat reminiscent of Star Wars... but it still is a great movie. Good versus evil--a standard theme in films of this sort, yes. But this film adds a strange twist to this formula. In one of the most action packed first 20-something minutes of any animated sci-fi action film, most of your favorite characters--from the TV show that spawned this film--(96% of them good) die. In fact, the legendary Optimus Prime (righteous and heroic leader of the Autobots) dies in battle at the hands of his arch-nemesis Megatron (vile leader of the treacherous Deceptions). This is due in part to the reckless action of a young firey Autobot named Hot Rod. And Hot Rod must go through the long hard road towards redemption. Some of this wonderful storytelling is lost at times through a series of somewhat unnecesary (e.g. the battle on Quintessa lacked a back story to explain why the Quentissons were so vicious), yet truly exciting, action sequences. But the very core of the story are still there. Since the film does require a longer narrative sequence than the one provided, the plot can be confusing for those not familiar with the TV series. In fact, the film fails to inform the audience that Unicron (the villain of the film) and Cybertron (the Transformer's home planet) were actually ancient enemies. But, faults included, The Transformers: The Movie is a truly great movie and can be enjoyed both fans of the TV series and those who have never even seen the show, if viewed with an open mind. Out of a possible ten, The Transformers: The Movie deserves an 8 and a half.
What were they thinking?!
By far the worst sequel ever made! Highlander: The Quickening was a pointless film that should have never been made. The writers took Gregory Widen's great story and tore it apart. In this sequel to the first Highlander, the year 2025 and the earth is covered by an electromagnetic shield. Once you realise this you wonder how did I end up watching the wrong movie. Connor and Ramirez are now aliens (?!) and other immortals from the planet Zeist (?!) have come to kill MacLeod. Excuse me, whatever happened to the Prize? You now, the one that made Connor one with all living things. And, whatever happened to Brenda? And, didn't Ramirez die in the first film? Fortunately, there is a director's cut that fixes most of these problems by re-editing the film and adding 19 extra minutes of footage. This "Renegade Version" of the film isn't perfect (and can never hold a candle to the first film), but is a very good attempt to fix a horrible mistake. Finally, it should be noted that the blame for Highlander: The Quickening does not fall on the director or the producers of the film, but on the film studio that took it upon themselves to screw up the movie.