Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Survival of the Dead (2009)
What Makes a Zombie to Wander?
I see what Romero is getting at with this genre-blending experiment. He shoots the movie like an old B-western and utilized all the standard clichés. Heroes never miss, villains can't shoot to save their lives; people stand around and wait to get shot; there's the Good (Crockett), the Bad (Muldoon), and the Ugly (O'Flynn), who are all really just chain-smoking opportunists; posses and horses and cowboys with shifting alliances. The zombies are reduced to the "other" a la Native Americans in cheesy, pre-revisionist era westerns who just sort of wander about as an inconvenience; you get the impression that the characters think of interesting ways to kill them in order to survive the boredom and monotony of a territory overrun by unwanted "savages". So many of the criticisms about this film being cheesy are, I believe, deliberate attempts at Romero mirroring (but certainly not transcending) the old school western, and I admire him for constantly subverting our expectations.
Unfortunately, where Survival fails is providing a reason to exist in the first place. I don't think that Romero, as skilled a filmmaker as he is, has given us any clear progression in his themes. Everything here seems recycled from his previous films - the irony that the villain is actually correct, the shootout between humans while zombies just wander about picking up the leftovers, human nature's tendency for tribalism and dehumanizing anyone who isn't a part of their team, et al, are all points he's already made.
What he has done with Survival is recycle these ideas in a very entertaining way. But for the first time while watching one of his zombie films, I'm finally getting the impression that Romero's zombie universe is running out of steam. Perhaps it is time for him to hang up his undead hat and make a different film altogether. I'm reminded of the line in Scott's "American Gangster": "Quitting while you're ahead is not the same thing as quitting." Still... a very decent film. 7/10 (the lowest rating I've ever given a Romero zombie film)
Lady in the Water (2006)
Only truly talented filmmaker could make a movie this bad.
I have enjoyed every previous Shyamalan film, from "Wide Awake" to "The Village." But this one was totally out of control.
Those who defend it say that you must get into the correct mood for it - you have to see it as a bedtime story. But children aren't stupid - how many kids do you know who could sit through a story like this being told to them without asking, "Why...?" every ten seconds? It seems like Shyamalan didn't have answers, so he kept inventing them as he went along, with plot constantly piling on top of itself faster than he could maintain it. The greatest bedtime stories are simple, interesting, and imaginative (Wizard of Oz, E.T., Mary Poppins). This one is so confusing and self-indulgent that I simply think that Shyamalan lost control of his ideas. He should have scaled down.
Shyamalan has blasted film critics for liking "Signs" (his best film) and flogging his other work (which I guess means only "The Village" - all his other films got good reviews, did fine at the box office, and/or were nominated for awards). He said on his NPR interview, "They like my popcorn film, but they get upset when I try to make a film that has a message." Paradoxically, "Signs" has a GREAT message (looking for signs and meanings in all little subtle banalities of life), but I can't for the life of me figure out what message (if any) "Lady in the Water" has. OF COURSE we don't mind if you make a movie with a message, Mr. Shyamalan. Just tell it well.
It takes a truly inspired filmmaker to make a film this ambitiously bad. I believe "Lady in the Water" is the "Zardoz" of our generation.
On the Line (2001)
It's those eyebrows....
It's repulsive to me when I see singers trying to use their success as an excuse to try acting. It's like they look in the mirror and they see Marlon Brando staring back at them (because we're all drama kings and queens on the inside anyway), and since they have the money and influence, they decide to give acting a shot. So, parts that could have gone to rising stars go to singers with enough star power to attempt a shot at the Hollywood spotlight. A good idea? From what I have seen of singers-turned-actors, with the exception of Will Smith, the late Frank Sinatra, Jon Bon Jovi, and Kevin Max (of dc Talk), no singer has the business of trying to be an actor. Period. Bass and Fatone, AKA "Lance" and "Joey," as they have been dubbed by all the users here writing about how amazing this film is (who, apparently, are on a first-name basis with NSync) fall into that category. Fatone mistakes characterization for making loud, obnoxious fart-noises, and Bass thinks that raising those big, bushy eyebrows and looking wide-eyed substitutes for boyish-charms. No, actually...there's no charm there. It's just boyish, "Lance."
Granted, if the movie had been any good, we could forgive Bass and Fatone's horrid performances (and Richie Sambora for that matter--a brillaint guitarist who needs to stick to the guitar) and focus on the intelligence of the script. Unfortunately, there's nothing here we haven't already seen before. The "keeps missing each other by a split second" plot is played up to the max (and I do mean MAX! Not one cliche is left unturned), as is the "Hey, you're my best friend and you betrayed me by dating my girl!" misunderstanding, which would, I am convinced, never be a subplot in a movie ever again if either party would just stick around and explain themselves. If my negative review isn't clear enough, that doesn't happen in this movie.
It's a sad thing when you can watch a trailer to a film and have the movie figured out, down to the very "t," before you walk into a movie. I'm one of those guys who likes to insist that films aren't cheap entertainment, but rather, an overlooked expression of art. Make a mental note: Anyone who would ever attempt to prove my claim wrong could reference this film, and I would be helpless to reply.
As far as the "chick-flick" genre goes, this one is near the bottom ("Pearl Harbor" being the VERY bottom of the list). As far as movies in general go, this one is beyond the bottom of the list, and is dangling somewhere in "bad-movie" hell, wondering what went wrong. Ironically, the same can be said for NSync's career about now, too.
I can't help it....I'm going to say it...Forgive me, but I cannot resist: To On the Line I say...."BYE BYE BYE!!!!"
1/2 out of ****
A step back from Fellowship--flawed, but engaging **MAJOR SPOILERS**
*SPOILERS* I've seen it, I've sat on it, I've thought about it, and I'm going to go see it again tonight. For now, here is my verdict:
There are a lot of things I can forgive for the sake of poetic license. Among them:
1. Faramir. My FAVORITE character from the books. Period. At first, I was pissed off. Now, I understand that poetic license had to be taken to make the character and his interaction with the movie for tense. In the end, he resists the ring, and his character was shown having the integrity and strength that Boromir lacked. Not exactly the brilliant foil for his older brother and father that he was in the book, but the tension helped with Galadriel's monologue about the "sons of Gondor taking the ring."
2. The different ending. Or rather, the cut-off point being different from the book. They killed Boromir at the end of FotR anyway, so having also altered the beginning, I can see why they would save Frodo's capture for the beginning of RotK to maintain better story arcs.
3. Aragorn's fall off the cliff. A little pointless, but for purposes of dreaming about Arwen, I guess it works.
4. A three or four page passage taking forty-five minutes in the movie: Okay, for purposes of being climactic, Peter Jackson did a similar exension for the ogre battle in Moria in Fellowship. Sure, it would take longer than the book described, and focusing on this for the film worked.
5. Reduced role for Frodo. After all, they cover the most significant parts. At first, I felt like they did not focus on the ring and that it played second fiddle to the human story, but I realized this was necessary to see HOW powerful the ring and Sauron's influence really was. By focusing on Helm's Deep, we realize the stakes were higher. In FotR, we understood that the ring was dangerous, but all they did was talk about it and search for it. It was buildup for the war. In TTT, we see the battle that the ring is causing in full-throttle. Frodo's reduced part was necessary, and they still got his mission and temptation across. The way he stroked the ring, and his fall into the lake because of its influence were very effective moments. So is his obsession with Gollum (after all, he sees himself, doesn't he?). At first, I'd have liked to have seen more, but now that I have considered it, they portrayed it as much as was necessary. Galadriel's monologue was also necessary to remind us just what was at stake, and that this entire battle was about the ring.
What I cannot forgive:
1. The lack of characterization in Gandalf. Where WAS he?!!?!? If I hadn't been familiar with the original story, I'd have been completely confused as to why he was now "the White." I can understand McKellen's (wise) choice to play the Grey and the White as two seperate characters. But I cannot forgive the emptiness of the role. How was he different? How were his powers different? How was his personality different? These ideas are never explored. He just comes in, has a few lines, and disappears. GANDALF IS LORD OF THE RINGS! Couldn't we have at least seen a little character development.
2. Lack of characterization for Saruman. Again, just a few lines, and he's gone. No sense of forbidding and power that he had in the first film. In fact, they could have used archive footage from the first film for his part (though the "exorcism" from Theodin was well-done). The scene where he watched the Ents destroy Isengard was laughable...he just stood there and looked p***ed off. At the very most, they could have developed the reltionship between he and Grima a little bit better. Which leads me to.....
3. Grima's character going nowhere. If Saruman was POSSESSING Theodin, why was Grima needed at all? He just uttered a few lines, looking imposing in the film's first act, and then disappeared. I understand that Peter Jackson sees the Lord of the Rings as a nine-hour movie and that we'll see more of Grima later, but he could have given us some sort of sense of completion for the purposes of waiting one more year. Though I did like that single tear fall from his eye as he beheld the army (a sly reference to his role in Exorcist III, as the film already referenced The Exorcist anyway).
4. Some lazy storytelling. I enjoyed the Exorcism of Theodin scene, but I had a hard time figuring out if Saruman was in his domain or if he was actually thrown out of Theodin and was with the others in the castle. There are also a number of plot holes. How could Boromir fight in the woods and get shot with arrows quickly, and yet Aragorn and Gimli could fight on the draw bridge fifty times the number of orcs that Boromir was fighting and remain unscathed? I just don't understand this. It's just lazy story telling. Some of the pacing was a bit off, too. WAY too much time was spent with Merry and Pippin with the Ents. I love the Ents as much as the next fellow, but speed us up already. By the time they're in the woods deciding whether or not to join the war, we've having enough exposition and decision making from all the other characters. I for one would have rather seen them cut to the chase.
What I liked:
Fortuntanely, I loved all the rest. The development of Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas was wonderful. We get a better sense of these characters (I especially enjoyed the competition between Legolas and Gimli). Gimli served as the comic relief, but it didn't take away from the character's integrity. Aowen and Theodin were wonderful additions, as was Faramir, even though his change was controversial. Treebeard was inventive, and Gollum was the most convincing CGI character I have ever seen. The battles were epic, and every square inch of the screen is loaded with detail.
Peter Jackson has taken a fantasy story and has filmed it like it was a historical World War II film. The realism and the stakes presented works, and most of this approach blew me away the same way an effective historical war film ("Saving Private Ryan" or "The Longest Day") would. If Fellowship belonged to the Hobbits, Towers is the story of the humans' continuing battle, and they all must make important choices. Does Aragorn stay at Helm's Deep and fall for Aowen? Does Theodin lead his people into an attack? Does Aowen love Aragorn? Does Arwen leave with the elves or stay for Aragorn (she's a elf, but she wants to be human, after all)? Does Faramir do the duty of his position to please his father, or does he do what it right? All of these questions are strongly developed. And the payoffs are wonderful and show the power of the human spirit, much like war films.
I trust Peter Jackson, and I look forward to Return of the King. That said, The Two Towers was overall a step backwards from Fellowship, and I hope that Jackson does not get over confident in his ability. He had to PROVE himself with Fellowship. Lord of the Rings in arguable the greatest fantasy series ever written, and it has harbored millions of fans. There were a lot of expecations from fans. Perhaps too many. He had to prove that he could look past all of the weight of the trilogy's momentum and make a great film out of the books we all love. And he did. He brought us a masterful film which, like The Godfather, made us appreciate the original text even more and also spun the ideas in new directions. This does not give him permission to slack off with the rest of his work. Develop those characters more. Keep the pacing interesting. Don't compromise getting a film done quick and making money over quality. In other words, DON'T PULL A LUCAS!!!!
But I love you, Peter. And I know that Return of the King will be a satisfactory wrap-up to this wonderful series of films that you're making.
Final verdict: Seven out of ten, *** out of ****.
(Fellowship: 9.5 out of 10, **** out of ****)
The Matrix (1999)
Overrated, but still a good flick for what it is.
Like everyone else on the planet, when The Matrix first came out, I was blown away by the film. I thought it was cleverly written, with visuals that were mind-blowing, and the style was amazing. Immediately upon its release, it was being hailed as the sci-fi film of the 90's. At first, I was completely agreeing to this notion. Then I watched it again, and a funny idea occurred to me.
The Matrix is really not very original. While it is a very entertaining film, originality is not one of its good elements. I like the film as an action picture now, but I certainly do not think that it deserves the title of issuing a bold new standard in sci-fi.
There are a few reasons for this: first of all, Neo has little character development. His performance is limited to a series of "Woahs," and "I don't believe it." Case in point, Keanu Reeves did a good job in the part....an actor whose range is limited to Bill and Ted and, well...Point Break. That's because he had so little to do. Morpheus, Cypher, Trinity, Tank, and Agent Smith all came off much better than Neo.
Second of all, the storyline isn't very original. Last year, I had the pleasure of watching Dark City for the first time. It flied vastly under the radar when it was first released, and it was certainly a quieter, more thoughtful film. It occurred to me while watching that the plot line, from the characters to the basic premise, is very much the same as in The Matrix, and it was released a year before. I'm sure you've all heard this argument before, so I won't go too far into it. But I will say this: Dark City, visually and story-telling wise, is a far superior film, IMHO. The complex themes that both film rises are better developed in Dark City as well. The Matrix seems to fall into the pattern of action movie in the final act, where Dark City maintains its deep philosophical elements throughout. I think it is a pity that The Matrix was able to set up such a realistic world that was so intruiging and inventive, and then push the audience into overkill by having the final third of the film being a long shootout/martial arts fight. Granted, it was the finest shootout/martial arts fight that I have ever seen in a film, but I felt that after it introduced all of its philosophical elements in the first two acts of the film, the final, violent act was rather mind-numbing and a shift in the wrong direction.
That leads me to the action scenes themselves. So many have said that this film sets a new standard in sci-fi. I don't see this at all. The great sci-fis are followed by a series of rip-offs and films clearly inspired by them (Star Wars=Battlestar Galactica, Conan=Beastmaster, Alien=Creature, E.T.=Mac and Me, etc.). The Matrix has found few if any sci-fi films that have tried to rob it of its interesting new action style. Instead, its style has turned into a fad for action films that is quickly fading. After The Matrix, we saw a release of films such as Mission Impossible 2, Charlies Angels, Beowulf, The Art of War, and Mummy 2 that ripped off its style. And it is a style that is quickly growing old.
The great sci-fis are usually films that are released before the general public is ready for them. The ones now considered classics opened to scathing reviews upon initial release, and many of them bombed at the box office. It was only audience reaction to them later that proved their worth and re-evaluation by film experts. The best of best were failures upon initial release--remember initial reactions to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, 2001, Blade Runner, Highlander, Dark City, and even Star Wars? These are now considered paragons of the genre. On the other hand, The Matrix did stupendous at the box office, and even went onto rival Episode One (an inferior film, by the way) at the cinema. I'm not so niave as to say ALL the good fantasy/sci-fis have to fail first before becoming great....Battlefield Earth and Lord of the Rings proves otherwise on both ends of the extreme. I am suggesting that The Matrix was simply a big, summer blockbuster which, because it had a plotline that appeared original because only smaller, quieter films had used it before, and because it had a lot of loud (but smart) action at the end that is appealing to the average moviegoer, was hyped up to be something greater than it really was.
**1/2 out of ****
How about a director's cut, Mr. Finscher?
The Alien movies have always been about their characters, with the creatures themselves taking back seat to the human reaction to them. In "Alien" (****), there was animosity on the ship as the seven astronauts were initially torn between their job and their desire to go home. They had to put their differences aside in order to fight their common enemy: the alien creature bent on eating them. In "Aliens" (****), the military must overcome hysteria, deception, and clausterphobia in order to escape from an entire army of alien creatures. These films are classics for a reason--the strong characters are what take center stage and manage to balance logos with ethos, making for very powerful character studies within a sci-fi/horror premise.
When "Alien" 3 came out, none of that character chemistry was present. While I can name you nine prominent characters, besides the continuing character Ripley, that were effectively created to stand out from the second film (off the top of my head: Hicks, Hudson, Bishop, Vasquez, Gorman, Newt, Burke, Drake, Apone) only three characters come off with any depth in number three, one of which who is inappropriately killed just as his character development was beginning to pay off. As a result, despite impressive visuals, great direction, and powerful performances by the leads, the film lumbers when it should have soared.
Given the quality of the other films in the series (even the fourth film that followed, "Alien: Resurrection" (***), which restored the rich characters), I couldn't help but wonder just what in the world happened during filming that undermined the characters of this film. Then I get wind of the twenty or so minutes that were cut out of the final version. For a complete listing of the scenes, look on the alternate versions page. After reading the script for Alien 3, I must confess that these scenes, when restored, not only bring the film up to greater heights than it achieved in its final version, but it was the best, darkest film in the series. Why on earth these brilliant scenes of character development and thematic discussions were cut is beyond me. They shape the film to have a very good theme and the characters are the most intruiging of the series. Great scenes explaining the motivations of Morse, Golic, Junior and others were lost on the cutting room floor. These scenes weren't only important for character development, but they were also necessary to shape the story and give it a rounder and broader thematic purpose.
With the success David Finscher has had in his recent films (deservedly so--"Fight Club" remains one of the most powerful cinematic experiences of my life, and let me tell you, I've had quite a few), I hope that he is able to restore "Alien 3" with a director's cut. If he reissues scenes to restore the fluency missing in the plot and characters, he would recreate a film which not only would become the best film in the alien series, but also one of the finest horror thrillers ever made! I can only hope that he find time and motivation to take on such a project, as it would be the most effective director's cut since "Blade Runner."
Final cut: ** out of **** With restored scenes: **** out of ****
Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
To be fair, one scene had me rolling on the floor.
(this review contains spoilers)
Some comedies borderline stupidity, where you can admit to having guilty pleasures watching it and you even catch yourself laughing frequently. "Ernest Scared Stupid" is not one of these films (and for that matter, neither are other films in this series, included but not limited to "Ernest Saves Christmas," "Ernest Goes to Jail," and "Ernest Rides Again"). In fact, this film doesn't borderline stupidity...it bathes in stupidity, drinks it, eats it, and sleeps it. Essentially, the character of Ernest is a one-punch gag which somehow evolved into a series of stupid, pointless movies which glorify the redundant stupidity of a character who gives Jar Jar Binks a run for his money on the "annoying-and-must-die-o-meter" (and I say this with all due respect to the late Jim Varney, the very talented man playing Ernest who demonstrated wonderful talent in films like "Toy Story"). I do not like the Ernest films. Quite frankly, they are an insult to my intelligence. If this was the purpose of these films, as some may argue, I'd rather be entertained by smarter comedy than this, like the Marx Brothers or even the Three Stooges, who at least had more sincerity and personality than, well....this guy.
These reservations aside, I must make a point about this film. I believe Roger Ebert made a statement in a review of "Dumb and Dumber" that some films that are not funny at all will occassionally contain at least one scene that it so funny, with timing so good, you are caught offguard and find yourself laughing uncontrollably. Believe it or not, there is one scene like that in this film. With a great buildup and a payoff that is absolutely side-splitting, I am amazed how such smart comedy found its way into such a stupid film, and it makes me wonder what, with better writing and more personality, the Ernest films COULD have been.
The scene I am referring to towards the end, when Ernest and the evil troll face each other. In an ancient book, the only way to kill the troll has previously been revealed, but one of the letters is missing: he can only be defeated by "mi*k." Now, all the viewers realize, from the clues dropped throughout, that the word is milk, but Ernest, through the course of the film, has a difficult time figuring out what the word could possibly be, what with his limited intelligence and all. In any rate, when he and the Troll finally spar off, Ernest pulls out of his pocket a container of Bulgarian "Miak," and he exclaims, "EAT MIAK AND DIE!" The Troll's reaction is of course confusion, and the timing of the scene and the way it was played between the two characters made me laugh so hard, I thought I was going to have a brain annurism.
Of course, it might have been only a lightly humorous scene, and the fact that it was funny in such an awful film left a greater impact than it should have. In any case, it remains Ernest's one good moment in his entire career.
* out of ****, without that scene, it would have been less.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2000)
At least Coppola doesn't call it "Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
When it comes to interpreting classic horror novels to the silver screen, Francis Ford Coppola is a funny one. Having already directed "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (a bad film) and co-produced "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (a good film), it seems only natural that he would try his luck with a version of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Unfortunately, the only thing you'll find in common with Stevenson's mini-novel and this film is the title.
One can only imagine how this funny little film got into production. Coppola must have never even read the script. I imagine his agent gave him a call and said, "Hey, they need an executive producer for another Jekyll and Hyde picture. You've already done Dracula and Frankenstein. Another wouldn't hurt...we could sell them in a three-in-one DVD pack, because we're clever Hollywood marketers. What do you say?" Well, someone got fired over this deal, and I have a feeling that it was Coppola's agent (and quite possibly Adam Baldwin's as well).
Adam Baldwin, judging from his previous work (thankless but well-acted roles in "Independence Day" and "The Patriot"), was an ideal choice to play a young, charismatic Dr. Jekyll in Victorian London. Instead, this treatment gives us a Henry Jekyll who adopts a martial-artist crime fighter secret identity as Mr. Hyde, a being he mutates into (think the Incredible Hulk) after being revived from the dead by a mysterious herb while vacationing with his wife in Hong Kong. He then seeks out to avenge the death of his wife by transforming into Mr. Hyde, kind of like a really ugly caped crusader. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that he is the prophesized "White Dragon" or something to that effect, destined to save the world, yadda yadda yadda.
The makers have taken what would have been a mediocre martial artist movie and made it worse by adding the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde theme, and loosly at that. My question is, who put this thing together? Judging from its low production values, I can only assume that it was originally a made-for-tv, would-be television pilot in the tradition of "Invisible Man," and, when it didn't find a distributor, was dumped on video as a feature film for the sake of Coppola's name. While some of the martial-arist fighting is indeed quite nice, for a cheap production like this, and Adam Baldwin shows potential as a would-be Jekyll and Hyde, I cannot recommend this film on any level. Gothic horror fans will find no Gothic horror, and martial artist fans won't find anything that hasn't already been done better.
To be fair, however, Coppola's previous efforts at Gothic horror have featured deceiving titles: "Bram Stoker's Dracula" had little to do with the Bram Stoker's novel, and "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" was more an effective homage to it than a literal interpretation. At least he successfully leaves the "Robert Louis Stevenson" out of the title (it might be because he is tired of Stoker's ghost haunting him and he'd rather not take his chances).
Final verdict: C-
*1/2 out of ****
Mean Guns (1997)
A brilliant study of the depravity of man with a weak ending
I just finished watching "Mean Guns," and, considering the action-stinkers that have been coming out in the past few months (Domestic Disturbance, The One), I found it to be a breath of fresh air. It uses cliches and violence combined with strong, intelligent characters (scattered in there among very cliched characters) to tell a modern-day parable on the depravity of man and the need for redemption. Very dark, very violent, but it needed to be to make its point on how low human beings can allow themselves to become. I won't go into detail about the plot...that's not what users comments are for. Just read the plot summary. I shall, however, explore the film's philosophy.
The mambo music, which plays in the background as the characters shoot at each other, works to show how lightly society now sees and deals with violence, and in the end, the film points an accussing finger at all the viewers who allowed themselves to be taken in by the "engaging" (intentionally cliched) storyline, and suggesting that in our enjoyment of such a raunchy picture, we place outselves on a level no better than the horrible killer presented here. There is one particular scene in which two men mercilessly slaughter a man, and the soft, classical-guitar piece playing in the background effectively shows how comfortable we have become as viewers to such gruesome displays of violence. Indeed, what we are more focused on here is the fact that the music is beautiful, despite the very bloody acts of violence that we are witnessing. Such audience-manipulation packs a powerful punch.
Only the conclusion drags on...and on....and on..... The need to tie up all loose ends is irrelevant. The point is already made by the time the movie's final scenes begin, but they try to tie them all up in any case. As a result, the ending simply lumbers when it should have, as the rest of the film does, soar.
Still, Lambert and company are great in their roles. Who new director Albert Pyun was capable? Final verdict: A-. Very solid.
***1/2 out of ****
Great storytelling, no story
**SPOILERS**Before I briefly state my views, I must confess that I have never read a word of or even picked up a Harry Potter book in all of my life. I had many friends rave and rant about them, and at my work, I often see my co-worker's kids sitting in corners, waiting for their mothers to take them to school, reading the latest chapter in the series enthusiastically. But because I have never read Harry Potter myself, I have no understanding of the series, the characters, or the plotlines outside of the world this movie has created. Therefore, this is a review for viewers like me: They haven't read the books, and they're curious to see what all the hype is about.
Well....judging soley from this film, it's not about much, I can tell you.
Overall, I would rate this film as either a C- or a D+. Since, if you're still reading this review, you've probably already seen the movie, I shall simply state my opinion without elaborating too much on the happenings of the film. There are a lot of cool ideas presented here....A LOT of cool ideas. In fact, I am not ashamed to state that every idea presented was involving and a work of genius....masterpieces to themselves. For the first hour, I was completely engrossed in the world that this movie had created...indeed, this was a magical movie. From the moving stairs to the floating candles and the interacting paintings, this was the stuff of a master artist. Just the goblins set the film apart....never have I seen a film-creature look so convincing.
Unfortunately, after a while, the wonderful pictures get bogged down and dull due to the absense of a storyline. There was no story or plotline to give this film a firm foundation to stand upon....nothing to move these wonderful ideas that I was watching along. As a result, the move becomes a patch-work of cool-looking ideas, but with no backbone or soul behind them. Eventually, since there is no real storyline, the film just gets old and boring, regardless of how neat the pictures are. I wasn't the only one in the theater drawing these conclusions...indeed, about 90% of the audience were all children, and in the final hour, they were all chattering away to each other, ignoring what was going on in the film, and I could see the parents around them glancing at their watches.
In the last twenty minutes or so, a plot is finally found, but it's so painfully contrived....so cliched and predictable, that it hurts to watch it (i.e. "You defeated your enemy with love;" Harry's team winning all the points and earning the trophy, etc.). This is a pity, because the plotline seemed to be good, and if the director had just cut the film's length in half and spent more time developing this story, we could have had a real winner on our hands, on par with other children's fantasys like "Wizard of Oz" and "E.T."
Veteran British actors such as Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, John Cleese, John Hurt, and Maggie Smith are wasted in throw-away roles, though the lead youngters certainly aren't bad.
All in all, a dissapointing effort, made even more dissapointing by the fact that there were so many likable qualities to it, among them the ideas presented and the visuals achieved, which set it apart from any other film of its kind. Watching this film has not motivated me to read the books; however, I shall certainly be in line to watch the second film. Hopefully, with a better story for the viewer to follow, the visually and undeniably magical world of Harry Potter will be a truimph the second time around.
*1/2 out of ****