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Men in Black II (2002)
Rarely funny, ultimately disappointing
When making a sequel to a movie like Men in Black, it must be difficult for the film makers to maintain the aura and attitude of the original, while still exploring enough new territory to create a meaningful addition to the series.
MIB2's creators struggled, and failed, to create a movie that added much to the world established in the excellent original movie. It doesn't help that half the signature duo, Agent Kay, (Tommy Lee Jones) begins the story without a memory, because it leaves Will Smith's Agent Jay and a talking dog, yes a talking dog, to carry the already weak script for the first 45 minutes.
While the ~90 minute running length of the original helped the pace, the similar running time of the sequel simply leaves all the periphery characters underdeveloped. Serleena is an unconvincing threat to the galaxy, and Rita (Rosario Dawson) has approximately 10 lines throughout the movie, despite being the primary love interest.
The film does have some nice moments: ones that stand out are Jay's lingering fears of loneliness and the VERY end scene in the movie, which I won't describe.
Ultimately, though, the movie disappoints, even more so considering the promise it shows at times. I'd say it warrants about a C-. Ignore all those over-the-top, 10-out-of-10, movie studio reviews and just rent the original instead.
When Angel (David Boreanaz) left Buffy: The Vampire Slayer for good in 1999, there was some concern over whether or not he'd be able to carry his own show. Certainly, the tortured vampire is a powerful character, but he seemed dependent on Buffy's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) presence, and the supporting cast seemed to be made up of the fat trimmed off Buffy: TVS after the end of the high school years.
Now, as Angel: The Series is in its third season, and Buffy: TVS in its sixth, those concerns seem unfounded. Angel is now, arguably superior, though it lacks the audience of the original show. The supporting cast has been fleshed out, most notably in the case of Cordelia Chase. (Charisma Carpenter) Once a snobby, Sunnydale rich girl, the Los Angeles years have turned Cordelia into a genuine, loving person. Angel and Cordelia are joined by Wesley Wyndham-Pryce (Alexis Denisof), a fallen Watcher, and another Buffy alum, Charles Gunn (J. August Richards) a vampire-hunting former gang member, and alternate-dimension refugee Fred Burkle (Amy Acker).
While it seems the original series is showing its age, Angel has been in high gear for nearly three complete seasons. The show lacks the goofy humor of Buffy, instead opting for a darker tone, as the characters strive for redemption and direction in a city that seems to encourage neither. Now that Buffy has moved away from the WB, fans have to go out of their way to continue to watch Angel. Do so, because it is certainly worth the effort.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Flashy, action-packed nonsense
Given that Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is based on a video game series, it should come as no surprise that the film is driven primarily by visually-pleasing spectacles, rather than a coherent, clever plot. And in this, the movie does justice to the games.
The movie jumps from scene to scene, often paying little- or no attention to issues of time and location changes. The locations themselves are one of the most fantastic aspects of the movie; from London to Cambodia to Siberia, nearly every location depicted is strikingly beautiful and worked in seamlessly. The animations are also often impressive. The robot Lara interacts with is appropriately mechanical in its movements, but seems realistic. The stone monsters seen in the trailers are also well-done.
Unfortunately, the locations and the graphics are essentially the only things done well. The plot itself is paper-thin; there is essentially no reason the bad guys should allow Lara to be involved in things, and the dialogue is unbelievable; most comments seem intended to explain things to the audience, rather than the other characters.
However, the biggest problem is the unoriginality and unintelligence of the movie. There is a scene that is a blatant rip-off of "The Fugitive" and the entire movie in general feels like a bad "Bond." I could go on and on about the flaws here: The pointless butlers/nerds/sidekicks that she lives with, the fact that everyone across the globe seems to know her life story, the action star cliches... but the point is: don't bother seeing this movie, unless for Angelina Jolie herself.
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
What a mess...
The problem that The Fast and The Furious has is that it is inconsistent. It at times is a police drama, at times a car movie, a gun movie and a romance. As a result, it fails on all counts, and fails spectacularly.
The acting is pitiful, but the writing may be worse. There are times where lines are delivered so poorly that the actors seem to have simply given up trying to salvage the train wreck of a script. The attempts at "street cred" are embarrassing ("dawg,") and the film's method of sounding technically proficient is to deliver lines of dialogue that sound like the actors are reading an inventory list at AutoZone.
The most frustrating thing about the movie is that it refused to budge from its somewhat complex story line. While nothing brilliant, the story was more developed that a standard action flick's. This is only a problem because the film was absolutely not up to the task. The action was nonsensical, and surprisingly scarce. The movie lacked a true protagonist because everyone was far too annoying to root for. The actors themselves seemed lost; milling around, reading lines.
It is important to mention the cars themselves, though, since this is being billed as a `car movie.' And that depends on what is expected from a car movie. If you are hoping for Camaro SSs and Hemi Cudas, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for Acuras and Hondas, you'll see them. If you're looking for Ronin-style car chases or Blues Brothers silliness, you'll be disappointed. If you want to see tiny cars driving in straight lines in fifteen-second bursts, you'll see it.
In the end, the only thing I found at all satisfying was the romance aspect of the movie, which the furthest thing from my mind when I bought my ticket. If I were Vin Diesel, I would have taken one look at the script and one look at my cast mates and then I would have stolen one of their souped up jalopies and hightailed it back to a real movie career.
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
ChildLIKE or ChildISH?
This is a bad movie. Okay, now that that is out of the way, let me point out a few things: John Leguizamo is acceptable in his role as Luigi. Samantha Mathis is acceptable in her role as Princess Toadstool. I mean Daisy. And I have to admit that Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper are acceptable in their respective roles as Mario and Koopa. My point is that the problem isn't the acting. This is a terrible, terrible movie that should never have been made, but given that it IS being made, the four stars do an acceptable job.
The problem is with almost everything else in the movie. This is one of those movies where things have been crammed in there because they seemed like cool concepts. There is no attempt to base actions in reality and there is no effort to infuse the script with logic. There is a strange, dark undertone to the movie, which can be very interesting (Blade Runner) but here it just seems cheap. Combined with the fungus, it looks like they could only afford a studio BASEMENT and just incorporated it into the movie.
I don't know if this was intended to be a funny kiddie movie, or a kiddie action movie, or a dark adult movie, or what. All I got out of it was that it is an idiotic plumber-fest with stupid technology and an insultingly simple plot. Allow me to reiterate: THIS IS A BAD MOVIE.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Normally I would enjoy an intelligent thriller. I always like something that keeps me on my toes, trying to stay ahead of, or at least up with the characters. However, watching The Talented Mr. Ripley, I was entirely uninterested. I felt absolutely no connection to any of the characters, regardless of the actor's performances. I thought that Paltrow did a good job of filling her seemingly pointless role, but that was it. Jude Law had an interesting character, but played it into oblivion. After about five minutes, I felt totally disinterested in his antics. Damon did nothing to make me like the title character, he seemed whiny and idiotic. The plot IDEA was brilliant, but poorly executed. I was confused by Damon's alleged similarity to Law's character. Apparently all he had to do to look like Law was take off his glasses. It's surprising someone didn't notice it earlier. Maybe in 20 years or so, someone will make this movie again, because it has real potential. However, this version is NOT worth your time.
Il mondo di Yor (1983)
I was appalled after watching this. Yor runs around, randomly fighting dinosaurs, gorillas, and dodging lasers that come from the middle of nowhere. The movie follows one story line, then decides to change to just random events for the last 50 minutes. Do not see this movie.
Maybe BETTER than the first?
Since I never saw International Man of Mystery in the theater, it's hard to compare the two without the same experience. Heather Graham was brilliant as felicity Shagwell; she did a far better job than "Vanessa" from the original. Myers was hilarious as usual, and the movie did a great job reproducing scenes from Bond's "Doctor No". The parts I found the most amusing were Dr. Evil's attempts to take credit for things from the future (Alan Parsons project). They may have gone overboard with the lowbrow Fat Bastard humor, and I didn't think Mini-Me was as funny as the pre-movie hype. For me, the high points were Graham's preformance as the (beautiful) CIA agent Shagwell and Ethan Embry's role as estranged son Scott. I'd give it an enthusiastic 9 of 10.
Better than "Jedi", not as good as "New Hope" and "Empire"
To tell the truth, I was scared heading into the theatre. I had an image of the perfect movie in my head, and with good reason. I'd waited years upon years for this movie to come out. But with the beating the critics had given it, I was wondering if I was going to be terrible disappointed. I wasn't. Actually, I realized that the so called "experts" just can't enjoy themselves. This movie doesn't send it's audience into deep soul-searching, and it doesn't make you cry, it only entertains.
It wasn't a perfect movie, though. Jar Jar Binks was annoying, and his slapstick humor seemed like it was too cartoonish for this movie. If there was one change I would make, I would have switched Binks for a little more edgy character, a la Harrison Ford's Han Solo in the first three. Overall, I'd give it a 9 of 10.
Three hours, and it shows...
Right off the bat, I'd like to say that in general, I think that three hour long movies have a tendency to repeat certain parts of its plot over and over to reach its intended length( See, The Thin Red Line) However, Titanic's producer and director James Cameron managed to do a noteworthy job of avoiding this snag. Unfortunately he made a bad movie in the process. Kate Winslet did a formidable job, excuse the phrase, of trying to keep Titanic afloat. Her efforts were hampered by her thoroughly unbelievable lover Jack Dawson (DiCaprio). His "poor boy" image was hampered by his less-than-rugged good looks. For a troubled kid who is supposed to lead a rough life, he hardly looks the part. Hollywood's traditional technique of making a male look more 'rough around the edges' (smearing a little mud on their cheeks and tussling the hair) fails miserably on DiCaprio, mainly due to his flawless face and hair. After two minutes of standing in the mist of the bow of the Titanic, he looks frustratingly like the Leo we see walking around town. The film tends to drag on when it could have been accomplished in little over two hours. By the time the film is over, the fact that the movie is longer than it took the actual boat to sink seems much more believable.
The worst film I've ever seen...
I'm not one to stand up and walk out of a movie, mainly because I'm easily entertained by movies and can enjoy even the simplest (or stupidest) plot. I nearly had to handcuff myself to the seat to keep myself in the theatre. The movie seemed to have a solid foundation in plot, but when put on film ended up being little more than a heap of seemingly unrelated shots. The scene of the film's "star" Mira Sorvino in a laboratory late at night simply serves to illustrate this. Less than 10 minutes later, she's racing around abandoned subway tunnels looking for overgrown cockroaches. When the male lead (Jeremy Northam) finds himself in the enemies lair, conveniently with a main gas line, he decides to blow himself up. The ensuing explosion is powerful enough to undoubtedly destroy any egg sacs that are hundreds of feet away, but by diving into a foot of water, Northam is able to walk out with no more than singed clothing .
Mars Attacks! (1996)
Dumb and dumber
I loved it. The other four I saw it with hated it. It's just that kind of movie. The ridiculous humor ("Do not run. We are your friends..") and the incredible violence (Micheal J. Fox, Pierce Brosnan, Jack Nicholson and Glenn Close all die) all point to a movie of absurd stylings. Mars Attacks! delivers, throwing former football star Jim Brown and Vegas singer Tom Jones in to boot.
The Faculty (1998)
Maybe it's not Oscar material, but...
Even though The Faculty probably isn't Oscar material, you shouldn't even think about hesitating to see it. The combination of suspense and surprisingly realistic high school heirarchy creates a movie that is truly fun to watch.