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The Signal (2014)
Excellent Movie! Do NOT watch the trailer!!
*Spoiler Spoiler Alert*
Do NOT watch the trailer for this movie! They somehow manage to give away three major plot twists in the space of a 50-second trailer. Shame. I am glad that I only saw the trailer after. Also, don't read the message boards for this movie - same issue. Just sit back and enjoy this gloriously- photographed, tightly-plotted road trip movie.
Three geekish friends (from MIT, no less!) embark on a cross-country journey but cannot resist stopping to settle scores with a mysterious hacker who has been taunting them. More of a dare than a signal, but why quibble? I'll leave it there for now. To say more would spoil the fun. I won't even comment on what genre the movie eventually falls into. Just enjoy the beautiful cinematography, excellent sound design and fine performances by a good ensemble cast. Yes, there are some plot holes and the end result can be described as a bit derivative, but it's thoroughly enjoyable! Highly recommended.
Byeol-e-seo on Geu-dae (2013)
Fabulous sci-fi romance!
I am only half-way through this series and completely blown away! For the uninitiated, it's a historical sci-fi romance comedy crime drama. Yes, you heard me right. It somehow mashes up all these genres into one smooth whole and often switches gear, sometimes in mid-scene, without missing a beat.
Briefly, it's about a surly alien (Kim Soo-Hyun) stranded on Earth for 400 years trying to get through his last few months before departure without falling in love with his superstar actress neighbor (Jun Ji-Hyun). Jun carries the entire show from episode one, where she first appears to be just another self-obsessed airhead starlet, gradually revealing layer after layer of complexity as the series develops. She has great comedic timing, strong screen presence combined with stunning looks and hits all the right notes of her obnoxious character. The American remake-in-progress should probably just hire her as their lead. I really can't think of who could pull it off as well as she does.
Another standout is Kim Hyun-Soo as a headstrong young lady who the alien first comes in contact with, and who may be somehow connected to the events of four centuries later...
Sharp, funny writing, great production and costume design, great acting from Jun and the ensemble cast. If you are a fan of sci-fi, romance or any of those genres mentioned above, catch it on Hulu now!
Irish Jam (2006)
Much better than expected
Saw this lurking in a corner of the DVD store and borrowed it on a whim. It was much better than I expected. Eddie Griffin was funny as usual, the beautiful Ann Fridel was great.
Quick outline - village pub in Ireland is about to be sold to greedy land developer. To prevent this, the villagers decide to have an international poetry contest and give the pub to the winner. Ghetto hustler Jimmy Tha Jam(Eddie Griffin), on the run from various creditors and ex girlfriends, somehow wins the contest. Much culture-clash humour then ensues, but Jimmy eventually gets the villagers on his side. Much better than I'm making it sound here. Not too many clichés around, which is nice.
Not to take anything away from Ediie, but I think if Will Smith had done this movie, it would have been huge!
Basic Instinct 2 (2006)
Sorry - I Liked It!
Apologies to the haters - I liked it. Sharon Stone looked great and played the part to perfection. She looked liked she enjoyed every minute of it. While the movie looks cheap, it is very funny and deliberately so. The movie does not take itself very seriously at all. The audience I saw it with had a ball.
*S P O I L E R A H E A D*
At first I was wondering why they picked such an ordinary-looking (boring, really) guy like David Morrissey for the male lead. But it was great fun watching him disintegrate. His character is simply no match for Stone's. She plays him like a chess grandmaster or concert pianist at the top of her game. Great performance from David Thewlis as the suspicious, grumpy cop.
I think the Hollywood establishment has a real problem with 40-something actress being hot. Forget the critics - as an earlier comment said, Great Popcorn Flick.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Disappointing , Offensive
No one would have believed, that in the early years of the 21st century, someone would begin a movie with a voice-over stating that no one would believe aliens were watching us.
No one would have believed that Spielberg would come up with a movie worse than "1941" or "Hook".
No one would have believed that Spielberg would shamelessly exploit the imagery of 9/11 for financial gain.
Spielberg put this movie on hold when "Independance Day" was released. He should have scrapped it altogether. Unbelievably bad.
I mean, come on! This is not some rinky-dink first time director. This is SP E I L B E R G,!!!!!!!!!!!@!!
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
Sharp, Witty, Excellent!
From the opening scene with Pitt and Jolie and the unseen therapist, it was clear that this movie was going to be a cut above the usual fare. It did not disappoint. Sharp, witty, smart writing, excellent performances. I'm not a fan of either actor, especially Ms. Jolie, but I must admit they both impressed me in this one. Great support from Vince Vaughn as well. Effective soundtrack, too.
The movie is like an extended metaphor for the trials and tribulations of modern marriage. Fortunately it does not lay its message on too thickly.
Yes, it does have quite a few plot holes and is a bit long - but all in all I enjoyed it.
PS - what happened to the "steamy sex scene" with Pitt and Jolie? Was it censored? The movie still worked well without it.
The Forgotten (2004)
Screw the critics! I like it!
Screw the critics! I like it!
*MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
Great little movie with lots of scares, thrills and (slight) surprises. Fine performances from Juilianne Moore as a mother grieving/searching for her lost child who may or may not be dead or may not have even existed at all, and Alfre Woodard as a tough-as-nails police detective who's wondering why the NSA is so interested in a minor domestic matter, until she gets literally yanked off the case.
While it's true that there isn't much plot here beyond a typical Twilight Zone/X-Files episode, I like the fact that the movie keeps it simple and avoids descending into a typical special-effects extravaganza.
The movie also doesn't take itself too seriously - best line:
"Uh Oh. I think I'm I'm having a National Enquirer moment here..."
Also, if by any chance you're a research scientist worried about your funding, do yourself a favour and skip this movie as it doesn't paint your profession in a very flattering light.
Fei du juan yun shan (1978)
Cool movie! Features a long-haired 24-year old Jackie Chan, great costumes, an improbably complicated plot, a bizarre song in the middle, American-Indian Mongol hordes, pre-Matrix "bullet time" fx, and much more.
Basically, Jackie and cohorts - the magnificent bodyguards of the title - are hired to guard and transport a valuable cargo over some dangerous, bandit-infested mountains. Of course, nothing is what it seems, no-one can be trusted and there appears to be a lost tribe of American Indians wandering the hills.
The version I saw was subtitled - it was fun hearing the original Chinese. Maybe that let the humour come out more. The movie doesn't take itself too seriously and only gets serious at the very end.
Well worth a watch.
WW 3 (2001)
Oh my God...
Was in the middle of watching this (under the title "Winds Of Terror") on video, when I started to get a sinking feeling... This wasn't made BEFORE 9/11 was it? Came here and so it was. All I can say is...
Oh. My. God.
All the FBI and CIA had to do was watch this. They even name Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. So, sorry, the excuse of "nobody could have seen it coming" won't wash any more.
BTW - this movie is also heavily influenced by Richard Preston's "Hot Zone" - even to the point of borrowing whole chunks of text and dialog. Preston was the guy who woke up the Clinton Administration to the bioweapon threat.
Conclusion - you don't need to see this movie. You already saw it on 9/11 and the Anthrax attacks after. Let's hope there isn't a sequel in the works...
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
The Saddest Movie Ever Made!!! (*Minor Spoilers*)
Oh... my... God... - this has got to be the saddest, most heartbreaking movie I have ever seen. I am not the sensitive type but this movie is simply too much to bear. This is what "Bicentennial Man" tried and failed to be.
The plot is basically "Pinocchio" - the-little-manufactured-boy-who-wished-he-was-real - given a Sci-Fi spin. This story about love (as opposed to a love story) features all the Spielberg trademarks and at its center is an absolutely riveting and frankly, stunning performance from young Haley Joel Osment. There are a few inconsistencies - namely, he can feel pain, but apparently not cold. Also, his face melts if he eats food, but he can survive indefinitely underwater. However, these do little to distract from the steadily-increasing sense of doom, gloom and overwhelming sadness. The movie has a happy ending of sorts - but even that will leave you if not in tears, at least more than a little sad for the movie's narrator - Teddy, a plucky "SuperToy" Teddy Bear.
While it is a phenomenal movie and one of Spielberg's best, it joins the ranks of movies that I simply cannot bear to EVER watch again. These include "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (too grim), "Casino/Goodfellas" (too violent), and "Saving Private Ryan" (WAY too violent).