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9 reviews in total 
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4 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
THAT was Spider-Man! And he was pretty Amazing, indeed., 4 July 2012

I absolutely loved The Amazing Spider-Man and left the theater with a big grin of delight!

I found the Raimi films fun and mostly good (except for the third film's ridiculous musical montage), but I also found them flawed. In particular, I found the romance uneven and stilted in the first set of films.

That's why I was so pleased to know that the director of (500) Days of Summer was at the helm of this version - because he clearly knows how to do sweet and bittersweet romance. And he and his talented actors knocked it out of the park as far as I am concerned.

Spider-Man was my favorite superhero growing up. I've been a fan since I was able to hold a comic in my tiny hands and for as long as I can remember. I enjoyed the Raimi versions and was glad to see Spidey on the screen, but Marc Webb's version absolutely nails the characters and the relationships and the overall flavor of Spider-Man, and the actors all sold it.

Andrew Garfield embodies Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He is absolutely stellar. Emma Stone is great as Gwen Stacey, and these two leads deliver a thoroughly natural chemistry. All the other actors are solid in their supporting roles, and Marc Webb keeps it all feeling smooth, believable, and true to the spirit of the Spider-Man comics.

The visuals are delightful and the 3D is used to enhance - not distract. It should definitely be seen in theaters!

Piranha 3D (2010)
114 out of 210 people found the following review useful:
Delightfully gruesome and fun film!, 20 August 2010

I really loved Piranha 3D and had a blast at my midnight screening.

There was never a dull moment for me. The first half while relatively quiet compared to the second half is funny and filled with bountiful shots of spring-break revelry and aesthetically pleasing nudity that's all in good fun. The set up for the characters was competently done and even though no one is going to win an award for best acting here, there was no example of distracting bad acting and the cast sold their two dimensional characters. We get enough development of our main characters that they aren't just generic nothings when the carnage starts.

Once the second half kicks in, Aja takes the film into overdrive and throws one jaw dropping gruesome set piece after another at the viewer.

My audience was roaring with laughter and clapping at gag after gag whether it was the "ballet" sequence with its beautiful eye candy (worth the ticket price alone) or some of the nasty goodness that Aja sends our way during the gory chaos of the film's second half. Despite the overall humorous nature of the material, there were still some tense moments and a few places where you find yourself in the curious position of both laughing at and feeling unsettled by what you're seeing on screen.

Aja perfectly captures the tone when he says it is "Gremlins for adults".

I expected skillful direction from Aja, and he delivered. He uses his skill at building tension that he put to frightening good use in Haute Tension in a different way here. Often, he will build anticipation for an over-the-top gag by telegraphing and then delaying as you ask yourself whether he's really about to go where it looks like he's headed and then "Bam!" he really does go there.

In addition to delivering the goods and delivering them well, the film also gives us several pleasing nods at other genre films and fun cameos from Richard Dreyfus and Christopher Lloyd.

This film knows how to have a guilty good time!

2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Excellent Chiller that is both Suspenseful and Disturbing, 30 May 2008

I'm a horror film fan who likes his horror films full of suspense, and I especially relish those rare gems like the original _Texas Chainsaw Massacre_ and the recent _The Descent_ that leave you with a lingering disturbed feeling from the psychological aspects of the film's overall tone. For me that's the purpose of a real horror film and this film delivers the goods. _The Strangers_ is an amazing first film from its writer and director Bryan Bertino who directs his excellent lead actors from a well-paced bit of introductory drama and then proceeds to effortlessly ramp up the dread and suspense to peak levels before taking the audience on a twisted ride. The acting in this film is top-notch and the characters are believable in their actions never descending into horror cliché actions that beg for some heckler to attack. Go see this film for a good scare, but those who don't savor being disturbed should stay at home.

8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Transformers fans and lovers of popcorn action rejoice!, 28 June 2007

Transformer fans rejoice! Lovers of awesome action packed spectacle rejoice! Michael Bay has delivered us one hell of a cinematic roller coaster ride. This Transfan just had the pleasure of seeing a sneak preview of the new film that starts everywhere on July 3 (although there are some early showings on July 2 at 8PM and midnight) and I walked out of the movie theater with a great big smile on my face.

Even the fact that it was pouring down rain and my car was a football field away from the entrance to the movie theater couldn't dampen my parade after this movie. This film delivers the goods on all accounts and delivers them in a big way! The action is fantastic, the special effects are perfect, and surprisingly enough (in such an action special effects driven feature) the actors all turn in great performances that add that extra special touch to the film. Also, the humor works very well and is satisfying and natural instead of silly and forced. Transformer fans will be pleased and yet people who don't have a clue who Optimus Prime or Megatron are will enjoy this ride, too judging by the enthusiastic reaction of my friend who knew nothing going into the film other than that it was a movie that featured giant transforming robots.

About the only small complaint that I can offer is that they did such a great job with setting up the story and bringing the Transformers into the picture that they wind up having too little time in the epic finale to develop any of the Decepticon characters to the degree that lovers of the comic and show will remember. However, I'm sure that this will be rectified in the sequel that is hinted at by the movie's final minutes.

Go see this movie as soon as you can on the big screen! You'll have a blast.

So far this has been the best time at the movies all year for yours truly.

What a great movie! Thank you, Michael Bay.

Hulk (2003)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Excellent movie, 21 June 2003

I am a long time fan of the Hulk and a movie buff. I have fond memories of both the comic book and the TV show from my childhood. When I first heard that Ang Lee would be directing and that the Hulk would be CGI, I had mixed feelings. I thoroughly enjoyed Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and knew him to be a talented director, but a CGI Hulk sounded frightening to me as I felt CGI artists were still far away from being able to pull off human-like characters.

I can pleasantly say that my fears had no basis in reality.

Ang Lee has crafted a fine film and the CGI is convincing enough to work well. The Hulk is very impressive to watch and his close ups show a wonderful range of emotion. Watch for the scene early in the film where Nick Nolte's character first sees the Hulk. The emotion shared between Nolte's character and the CGI Hulk here is amazing and beautifully touching. That is not to say that the CGI is flawless, but it works for the most part and is a bold step forward in good CGI work - an area that will only make further improvements when directors such as Lee, Lucas, and Jackson with the necessary financial backing can push the animators to break previous limits. With the CGI discussion out of the way, I can now safely discuss the movie itself.

Hulk is an intelligent and moving drama and is the first comic book movie in quite some time that can fit comfortably in the same league as classics like Superman, Superman 2, and Batman. Like Hulk, these films were simply good movies that happened to be about a comic book character. Unfortunately, Hulk may prove too mature and cerebral for much of the core audience that is attracted to big blockbuster action films. For example, there is a scene where after the Hulk has reverted back to Banner, where we briefly glimpse Banner nude from behind and several people in the audience laughed, demonstrating the maturity of 6 year olds. Such a crowd may not be able to enjoy a serious film with actual character development, symbolism, and themes, but will alas find that they have stumbled into such a film with the Hulk rather than the mindless action feast that perhaps they were hoping to find.

Don't expect to see the Hulk until well into the film. Lee takes his time as an expert storyteller and develops the film's central characters so that we can understand and care for them. All the acting is top-notch. Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly have a nice and tragic chemistry (much better than Spiderman's Peter Parker and Mary Jane which IMO felt artificial and sappy) as the two lovers who have been separated by Banner's emotional distance and then later by his Hulk condition. Nick Nolte is creepy and fascinating as Banner's father and towards the end equally tragic though not as sympathetic. Sam Elliot is perfect as the fiery General Ross who wants to protect his daughter, but has come become a stranger to her through his overzealous attempts to keep her from danger. Also, I would greatly commend the actors who played younger versions of Nolte and Elliot's characters as well as whoever found and cast them. Not only do they perform admirably, but also they are spitting images of what I'd imagine the younger versions of the characters to look like.

The script nicely blends the classic origins of the comic book Hulk with a few new twists for a modern audience as well as the psychological underpinnings of the excellent storylines involving Banner's father and his past from Peter David's run as writer for the Hulk in the 80's. It is a thoughtful script that explores such classic and universal archetypes as the conflict between father and son while examining the ethics of genetics research and the nature of the military.

Lee goes to great pains here to give us a stylized film as well. The film features a very nice technique where multiple angles of a scene dynamically shift and play across the scene at once creating an energized feel that helps recreate the comic experience on film. It takes some getting used to at first, but ultimately it enhances the film and gives it a very distinctive feel.

And yes, there is a lot of action in the film as well. Once the Hulk is unleashed and becomes a hunted creature, we a thrust into the territory of King Kong and other great misunderstood beasts. Hulk definitely delivers some stunning action sequences that should delight the inner child that appreciates sheer awe and spectacle. This is the REAL Hulk as comic book fans know him. When you see the Hulk take on the army in this film, you'll see why no painted `puny' human can play the Hulk.

I thank Ang Lee and all the cast and crew for bringing us an intelligent film that takes itself seriously and delivers the goods as both a compelling drama and a spectacle. Viewers who enjoy good movies will find a rewarding experience here, while people looking for a simple thrill-ride should try something else instead.

Excellent movie that enhances the original!, 16 May 2003

I must confess: I never much understood all the fuss over the original Matrix from 1999, and I still do not. I left the theater after seeing that film having enjoyed myself, but by no means would I have classified the film as being worthy of having its name mentioned in the same breath as epic classics like the Star Wars trilogy. Further, it rather annoyed me when people made such a big deal over the film's shallow and unoriginal pseudo-philosophical ideas or its thinly drawn characters. In fact, although I did enjoy the first Matrix, the ridiculous mantle of greatness that people heaped upon its shoulders left a bad taste in my mouth that pushed me away from further viewings or even from looking forward to its sequels which, in my opinion, seemed unwarranted as I thought the original resolved quite nicely and left little room for sequels.

The Matrix Reloaded has changed all of that for me.

While The Matrix pieced together several unoriginal ideas in flashy and self-consciously hip ways with apparently little exciting thought beneath the surface or little effort to make them cohesive within the logic of its own framework, The Matrix Reloaded turns this analysis upon its head and reveals that the apparent inconsistencies within the first film were actually setups for a major twisting of what we thought we knew was happening. I will not spoil anything for those who have not seen the film, but I thoroughly enjoyed the genius of how the filmmakers redefine the events of the first film with this one and leave the viewer with a whole slew of possible scenarios and thought provoking questions at the film's end. What I find most impressive of all, is that I detected the hint of what might actually be a truly insightful and meaningful commentary on naturalism and miracles and the error of confusing an explanation of the facts with a proof of the relationship of said facts. If I correctly surmised the presence of this theme, then it is one upon which I hope the third film expands. For those who have seen the film, the key story points that resulted in the one hundred and eighty degree turn in my evaluation of this film series occur during the Oracle scene, the Agent Smith(s) scenes, the Architect scene, and the finale.

I left the theater feeling extremely entertained and filled with both thought and that certain child-like sense of wonder that woefully few films ever manage to capture for me. Yes, with The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix trilogy has catapulted itself into the realm of true film greatness in my estimation right beside the Star War trilogy and The Lord of the Rings.

Now I would not want any reader of this review going away thinking that I am unaware of the film's shortcomings. Indeed, it has many blemishes including: a few beautifully imagined and choreographed fight sequences that, while artful, were a bit too lengthy and too obvious in outcome to be fully satisfying; a dance sequence and sex scene that, while again done artfully and with nice cinematography, seem rather unnecessary and a tad too much like a music video sequence; some over-acting on the part of Lawrence Fishburne; a lack of chemistry between Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss; and a slight tendency for some of the fight sequences to become cartoon-like in a film that wants to take itself seriously. In fact, these flaws led me to conclude half-way through watching The Matrix Reloaded that I would leave the theater disappointed because the film would not have even measured up to The Matrix – a film that I viewed as only being decent. Thankfully, however, the last twenty to thirty minutes of the film when combined with some details revealed in earlier scenes completely reversed my opinion of the film and even made a better movie out of the original in my eyes.

In summary, I loved The Matrix Reloaded - beauty, warts, and all. Thanks to the greatness of this film, I also have a better opinion of the first film, and I am counting the days until I can see what I hope will prove to be a very satisfying and epic conclusion in The Matrix Revolutions. In the meantime, I think I will go see this one again!

Jaws 3-D (1983)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good but not great sequel that is far too often maligned, 14 May 2001

"Jaws 3" is not an awful movie as so many snobbish would-be critics contend. For an awful movie try something like "Plan 9 From Outer Space" or "Howling 2". Certainly, it isn't a great film like the original "Jaws", but it is what I consider a decent sequel and an enjoyable movie that works and that is much better than much of what passes for "good" movies, presently.

Although the basic premise of a "monster" eating people is extremely old, I think the plot formed around this idea is rather clever and intriguing - a great white breaking into Sea World.

Many of the film's critics bash the film for the unrealistic scenario of having a mother Great White follow its baby and seek revenge for the baby's death, and by criticizing it thus, they are showing their own stupidity.If such critics actually spent some time paying attention to the film instead of trying to feel superior, they would realize that the mother shark breaks into Sea World and gives birth there. Also, the mother completely ignores the baby (realistically). It isn't the baby's capture and death that sets the mother off - it's the decision to shut off the water pumps that provide it with its oxygen supply in the place where it was lurking that causes it to finally start exploring the park.

Also, the special effects are damn good for an 80's flick and are much better than lame CGI in modern films. Sure, CGI has the capability of being realistic, but that capability hasn't been reached yet.

This is a fine film that deserves more credit than it is given. I only hope that its poor reputation doesn't prevent Universal from giving it a good DVD release.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Read the Christ Clone trilogy instead!, 10 November 2000

I'm not a fan of the Left Behind book series - the books are written at a 6th-grade reading level with a lack of research and understanding of science, technology, and politics. While the books do manage to remain faithful to scripture, their methods of fulfilling prophecy are often ridiculous (an example is their explanation for the Russian/Arab invasion of Israel). Also, the books have an unmistakable preachy tone that will turn off unbelievers rather than bring them to the gospel. Still, I found myself reading these books because of my interest in the events of Revelation. For a similar reason, I watched this film adaptation. I am sad to say that it is a rather mediocre film bordering on poor. The acting is actually rather decent for the most part with occasional bits of poor acting and over-acting. The script is rather bad, though it is hardly unexpected when starting with the novel as a basis. The characters are poorly drawn and underdeveloped. Events feel scattered and disconnected. The dialogue sometimes sounds rushed. At least the book managed to flesh out its hokey conspiracy theory. Here, the viewer is left with an incoherent mess that only makes much sense if one has read the book. The pacing of the film is also very poorly executed with the opening and conclusion seeming extremely rushed, and the middle dragging to an excruciatingly slow trudge that makes it feel padded. The music is schizophrenic. At times, it successfully underscores the mood and sounds fitting for a motion picture. At other moments, it reminds me of sitcom and mini-series music. And still other bits remind me of a poppy MTV soundtrack that just doesn't belong in the film. I can give the film points for the scene of panic on board the plane, but that's it. The other scenes involving the disasters after the Rapture are far from compelling. The film also suffers from the book's preachiness although its message isn't quite as in your face. In all, I found the movie just as disappointing as the series. This is not the film to rally Christians around it. I hope that this film does NOT get any attention at the theaters next year. It would be more unnecessary bad publicity for Christianity. For an example of a compelling, intelligent, well-researched series based on Revelation that presents a realistic and Christian world view without offending the secular reader (who after all should be whom a Christian is trying to reach) read the Christ Clone trilogy by James BeauSeigneur. It's a great read and is a much better choice for unbelievers or believers who appreciate quality.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Comments to potential viewers and disappointed viewers, 9 August 1999

"The Blair Witch Project" is one of the best movies to come along this year for many reasons. It features some of the best acting that I have seen in a long time, is shot creatively, and presents thoroughly believable characters in a story that is character driven. Plus, this film manages to truly get under the skin, providing a creepy and tense emotional experience.

Now here are some things that this movie does NOT offer:

- Unnecessary state-of-the-art special effects

- Scripted dialogues (neither the kind that are too stale and poorly written to be believable nor the kind that are too well-crafted or clever to seem real)

- Verbal masturbation by actors (i.e. - overacting, show-off acting, or any kind of acting not necessary to successfully portray a character)

- Cheap-thrills

- Gratuitous sex

- Gratuitous violence

- Cardboard characters in a pre-packaged plot device

- Happy endings with "closure"

- Spoon-fed entertainment with no thought or feeling

Unfortunately, the above list is what the average movie viewer wants, and when a film comes along that doesn't give them any such gratification, they tend to get lost.

When one watches this movie or ANY movie for that fact, one should try to experience the film. Be there with the characters. That means no talking to your neighbor, no asking aloud what just happened (as if someone else _knows_ the answer), and no stepping outside of the film to sit safely in your chair. Concentrate on the events unfolding before you and give yourself over to what is precious about art: an emotional experience.

If you let yourself go with this film, it _will_ work its magic on you.

Does that mean you will jump out of your seat or get spooked?

Doubtfully, though some people may. Most likely you will not have that kind of reaction - that is the fun roller-coaster kind of fear that audiences have come to expect from entertainment. This film is about real fear - the kind of disturbing emotional experience that comes from watching three individuals slowly transform into hysterical animals afraid of being trapped in a situation that is beyond their control.

Why does it work? Not because of the fear of what's not on the screen, as many reviewers like to say. No, it works because - when you let yourself go with the film - the actors don't seem like actors performing for your entertainment; they seem like real individuals grappling with a horrifying situation.

Anyone who gripes about why the filmmakers continue to film or why they do this or that is just actively trying to fault the film or isn't paying attention. Such a person is on some level resisting the experience of allowing himself to go with a very real and creepy film. The film explains that Heather is a film junkie who films everything compulsively. There are plenty of people who do this on trips. In addition, the film reveals that documenting everything is Heather's way of coping with a horrible situation.

At several moments when it may seem silly to the third-party viewer that the cameras are still rolling, one must bare in mind that just because the camera is on doesn't mean that the cameraman is actively filming the events. The operator could have simply forgotten about the camera.

Think about it: if you were filming something and were suddenly scared half-to-death, you wouldn't stop and turn the camera off; you would simply run, and that's exactly what happens in this film in many cases.

At other times, the filmmakers continue filming in order to hold on to some sense of order in the chaos that has engulfed their reality. They are clinging desperately to one of the last remnants of the normal and modern world from which they have been separated by the increasingly menacing woods.

"The Blair Witch Project" is an intelligent and inventive film that demonstrates what filmmaking is all about: an emotional experience. When a viewer goes in merely expecting something safe and entertaining, he will be sorely disappointed by "The Blair Witch Project". Such a case is sad, for the viewer who allows himself to go with this film will experience a truly disturbing and rewarding piece of art.