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Code Name: The Cleaner (2007)
Code Name: The Cleaner
Friday night my wife and I went to see Code Name: The Cleaner, staring Cedric Kyles (AKA Cedric the Entertainer) and Lucy Liu. It's about Jake, a man who wakes up in a hotel room, next to a dead body, with no memory of who he is or how he got there. As events unfold around him, he starts to recollect that he is a secret agent, and puts together that he was working undercover as a janitor on a deadly mission.
This was another fun movie. It had a PG-13 rating but I would say that it was a fairly mild PG-13 (a few shootouts and Nicollette Sheridan in her undies), so I wouldn't worry too much about taking a 13 year old to see it. It's the first movie I've seen with Cedric in the lead role and only the second with him in it at all (Serving Sara was the first). I really liked him. He was absolutely hilarious without going over the top. Of course Lucy Liu is always a sight to behold.
The rating it has received on IMDb was a dismal 3.0 but that was because a significant number (52%) of the votes were a 1. I suspect that the movie or one of it's actors really perturbed some group, so they retaliated with a vote drive. There is no way this movie rated a 1. I personally gave it a 7 and my wife tells me we will own this.
Incidentally, stick around for the first half of the credits. The show some very good outtakes.
The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Enjoyable but long
The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was thoroughly enjoyable, but it was certainly a bit long.
I am a huge fan the 3 original Wallace and Gromit animated shorts (A Grand Day Out, A Close Shave, and The Wrong Trousers) as well as Nick Park's first feature length film, Chicken Run. Fans like myself are sure to love this movie.
However, I did think that there was a lot of filler in it to stretch it out to an hour and a half, so it could be billed as a feature film. The same story could probably have been done as a 30 minute short but then they would have been limited to alternative distribution methods.
This movie will be in my DVD collection, but my recommendation for non-Nick Park fans is to wait and rent it.
The Polar Express (2004)
Foreign versions did more than just dub
I saw this with my fiancée a few weeks ago and loved it. Their attempt to give the imagery the same feel as the book was very successful. I read a few movie-critic reviews that suggested the facial expressions were spooky and lifeless, but I did not notice that quality at all.
After seeing it in the U.S. (english), my fiancée and I took her nephew in Germany to see it as his first movie-theater experience. Of course I was expecting that the voices would be dubbed in German, but I was really impressed to find that all the images that contained text were also translated. I first noticed this when the boy was reading the dictionary.
I felt that Charlize Theron's excellent performance was completely tainted by intentional misrepresentations (a.k.a. lies) in the script. I hope that she thinks twice before putting her name and talent on a work of fiction claiming to be fact.
Patty Jenkins has earned herself a position on my very short black list.
Lost in Translation (2003)
Well.. something was lost
Lost in Translation - The name of this movie is certainly appropriate.
Most of the film was dedicated to showing how out of place the two main characters felt in Japan. The result was that I felt out of place sitting in the theater.
The breakdown of the film is probably as follows...
40% - I don't speak Japaneese, 28% - I don't understand the Japaneese people, 10% - I don't understand myself, 20% - We have fun together, 01% - Classic Bill Murray humor, 01% - We have something special together.
I'm sure Sophia Coppola will get an Oscar for her direction, but in my humble opinion, direction was where the film really failed. Many scenes were cut in such a way that I was continually trying to figure out what I was looking at. There was also a continual darkness to the film, which may have been intentional, but I personally cannot handle being depressed for 2 straight hours.
If you really want my recommendation, skip this movie until you find yourself in a good mood that you want to dismiss.
Not historically accurate, but certainly enjoyable
Okay, I admit it. I love naval dramas, particularly where there are submarines involved. Three of my top ten favorite films are submarine movies (The Hunt for Red October, Das Boot, and Crimson Tide). So when you look at the rating I've given U-571, you can assume that two of the stars were guaranteed based on the subject alone.
For me, U-571 was eagerly anticipated. I'd see the previews, sitting on the edge of my seat, with my knees bouncing like a kid about to receive his first ice cream cone of the summer. My one concern was that this movie was going to completely distort the true history of the capture of the enigma machine in World War II. However, they easily alleviated that concern at the end by describing the actual events.
Set near the U.S. entry into World War II, this is the fictitious story of an American submarine outfitted to look like a German submarine and assigned the task of capturing a crippled German sub's code-decryption machine (enigma). The mission was nearly a success when the boarding party found itself stranded on the German sub in hostile waters.
The cast of U-571 was nothing short of phenomenal. It starred Bill Paxton (Lt. Commander Mike Dahlgren), Matthew McConaughey (Lt. Andrew Tyler), and David Keith (Major Coonan). Also in a leading role was one of my favorites, Harvey Keitel (Chief Klough), who finally gets to play a good guy! I also thought that the relative unknown, Jack Noseworthy (Sonarman Wentz) deserved honorable mention.
I want to say that the special effects were great, but I can't remember a single one. I never thought, `that's a great model' or `boy that explosion looked real'. When you think about it, the best effects are those you don't notice.
I will admit that there were a few lines that bordered on cliché. `You never gave up Sir' immediately comes to mind. But ultimately this movie was a lot of fun. The action was nearly constant and the claustrophobic sense was second only to Das Boot. During one particularly intense depth-charge scene, I glanced at the friend watching the movie with me. His mouth was hung wide open and the shudder from each explosion caused him to twitch.
This movie will be on my shelf the day it's released on DVD
This is a "must see" for everyone except young children
I wasn't expecting more out of Gladiator than a few good fight scenes. Boy was I pleasantly surprised. This movie was fantastic! In fact, quit reading this review and just go see it, right now.
Well, if you need a little convincing
Gladiator is the story of the Roman General, Maximus (Russell Crowe), who was charged by dieing emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) with returning the government of Rome to the people. However, before the emperor can announce his wishes publicly, he is betrayed by his son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). General Maximus becomes hunted and eventually thrown into slavery where he finds himself fighting for survival in the Roman stadiums of Africa.
I can think of nothing to criticize about this film, so I'll borrow a criticism from a friend who thought the movie was too long and was monotonous in some parts (I disagreed).
The battles were quite graphic at times, but trust me, you will enjoy this movie.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
Save your money
Usually with science fiction, I can leave the theater appreciating at least the special effects, but not with Battlefield Earth. Space Balls had better effects!
This movie sucked with the proverbial slurping sound. The story was completely unconvincing (primitive men learning to fly Harrier Jets in 7 days?!?!). Travolta's acting was worse than in Face Off!
This wasn't an attempt to create an entertaining film. It was John Travolta's effort to appease the Scientology God, L. Ron Hubbard.