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Great comedy full of surprises - should have been a theatrical release
5 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
With all of the current hype over an OK movie like "Sideways" (which is misnomered a comedy), it's hard to imagine why this brilliant movie went straight-to-video and hasn't had much buzz at all (and this IS a comedy).

Matt Dillon and Christina Applegate give the best performances of their careers (far better than anything "Sideways" Thomas Hayden Church could ever hope to give). And whilst a comedy at heart, the story is full of plot twists to rival "The Sixth Sense." Finally, despite it's grandiose references to sex, violence, and drugs, the script offers very insightful and clever views on life and love (more surprising is that much of the wit is delivered via Steve Zahn's lowlife character).
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Sideways (2004)
OK but nothing to rave about…
25 January 2005
This movie is a repeat of the "Lost in Translation" phenomenon - a movie that picked up unmerited critical acclaim (although this movie was much better than "Translation"). While it was an okay film, and Paul Giamatti was good (as was Virginia Madsen), it is not excellent nor is it even a comedy.

Stuck in Boston during the blizzard, I ordered "Sideways" from OnCommand on my hotel's TV (a week before it opened wide in theaters - go fig). I wanted a comedy as it is labeled (and was categorized on the TV) so I watched it. It had no more humor than "Lord of the Rings" or "Star Wars" did. It should have been labeled as a 'romance' although that isn't even the most appropriate category.

As for Thomas Hayden Church, his role was nothing noteworthy in and of itself let alone his performance. He served better as Lowell on the hit show "Wings" than he did in "Sideways" as a sex-obsessed pig. Perhaps certain people liked seeing his bare butt…

All in all, I recommend this movie only in three ways: 1] you are a wine connoisseur who doesn't mind your favorite subject being overshadowed by casual sex; or 2] you are not in the mood for a comedy; and/or 3] you do not have the choice of seeing a better movie.
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Troy (2004)
It's not often that a big-screen epic is not as good as it's TV counterpart
9 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I hate to say it, but TV's recent "Helen of Troy" was a better portrayal of the Trojan War, recounting it far more accurately (though not totally correct, of course).

"Troy" starts off on the wrong foot by setting Paris up in the story incorrectly, his origin and place in the kingdom of Troy forsaken to have him more easily seen as a noble prince. Moreover, the entire catalyst for the war was dismissed - the Apple of Discord and the Judgement of Paris were non-existent. Such omission is forgivable if filmmakers wanted to steer away from the fantastic elements of myth; however, Thetis, an immortal Nereid (sea nymph), was included in the movie (she is the mother of Achilles). So, the 'taint' of myth was already present.

The movie's second major error was the omission of pivotal characters, namely Hecabe (Queen of Troy); Cassandra (Trojan Princess whose prophecies went unheeded); Laocoön (Trojan seer silenced by Poseidon); and Clytemnestra (Helen's sister and vengeful wife of Agamemnon). The absence of the latter led to a wrongfully depicted murder at the movie's end (other deaths were incorrect as well).

A more understandable error was the use of the name Ajax - that name is Latin for the Greek warrior Aias. The name was probably used, though, because it is more familiar (as is the common mistake of using the name Hercules, the more recognizable Latin name of the Greek hero Heracles).

The other major flaw of the story was the absence of Achilles' origin. With Thetis present in the movie, the hero's dipping in the river Styx after birth should have been mentioned, even if Achilles himself were to not believe it. Its absence, however, makes his death in the film seem ludicrous - when Paris shoots him in his foot, he falls as the myth details, but to the viewers that do not know the myth, they wouldn't see the significance of it.

Craft-wise, the movie was excellently executed. The only major flaw was bad performances from usually phenomenal actors. One example is how certain actors (Gleeson, Kruger, etc) allowed their accents to slip through. On the other hand, the best performance in the film goes to Eric Bana as Hector, Prince of Troy. Despite his initial haughty dialogue, he comes across as the film's saving grace. Brad Pitt's turn as Achilles was all right (as was Rose Byrne's Briseïs and Saffron Burrows' Andromache), but the film would have been purely superficial were it not for Bana.

It was also nice to see Sean Bean in an admirable role. He is too often the villain (even as Boromir in "Lord of the Rings" he had a villainous streak to him). I can't say the same for Brian Cox, though. He was still a villain.
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Hustle (2004 TV Movie)
Sizemore was nothing more than a "Hustle," but…
30 September 2004
As other users have said Sizemore was nothing more than a "Jay Leno impersonation" of Rose - only the haircut even remotely resembled the real Pete Rose. Moreover, Dash Mihok (who portrayed Paul Janszen) looked more like the real Rose. But casting error aside, the movie was genuine to its subject matter.

"Hustle" was an apt name playing off Rose's nickname "Charlie Hustle" in order to reference his gambling habits. Anyone who says the movie lacked because it didn't revere Rose for his baseball accomplishments is missing the point. The movie was about latter-life Pete Rose the gambler, not a biopic in general on the "greatest thing to ever happen to Cincinatti." Also, some criticize the film for not exploring avenues of Rose's colleagues; however, while Eric Davis was a background character and other famous Reds were mentioned, said colleagues' consent is required to have their likenesses and views to be used.

Furthermore, not even Rose himself confessed to his illegitimate activities until the beginning of this year.Before making any criticism, viewers should research.

As for the story itself, the one problem I noted was that the screenplay couldn't clearly delineate who was the protagonist. While Rose was clearly meant to be the 'villain,' focus and sympathy shifted between him and Janszen so much so that near the end, the movie may have been more appropriately entitled "Paul Janszen." Of course, ESPN would NOT have been able to sell that.
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Lost Reality (2004 Video)
Reality is an exaggeration…
6 September 2004
I accidentally picked this video up when I was really looking for "National Lampoon's Dorm Daze." Upon watching the first few minutes, I was disappointed to learn that its format was supposedly lost reality TV shows that never made it on air.

Some of the items were funny, others plain disgusting (which it warns about of course), and some both. Yet, it made me wonder how 'real' these things were. Clips like 'Amazing Racist' and 'Take That Drug' are too illegal to be real. I'm still not sure how real these clips were, but they appeared too real.

For the average hormonal schmoe, however, the segment 'The Whore' is recommended viewing. For the light stomach, do not even attempt to watch this atrocity, which includes showing people defecating, eating vomit, and masturbating on food.
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Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Doc Ock Rejuvenated in the Best Comics Adaptation EVER
30 June 2004
While "Spider-Man" set records with its Platinum performance, "Spider-Man 2" will beat itself out and go… diamond (I suppose that comes after platinum). There is one reason why this franchise has fared better than other comic-book movies: it stays true to the original. While the X-Men, Batman, and other comics may have struck silver or gold, none were as ever accurate as Spidey - and its numbers prove it.

Sure, Spider-Man being more well known than a lot of Marvel characters helps, but that's not an excuse when compared to the likes of Batman and Superman, who are both just as equally if not better known. Too many directors abuse poetic license, often totally warping a character, making a plot campy, and/or casting poorly. All deserve some sort of poetic justice for their poetic licensing, except for Sam Raimi, who if time permitted, should do all Marvel pix.

Most of all, though, the thread that really makes "S2" a great story is that Peter, as the protagonist, isn't the only one with an epiphany (a climactic self-realization often experienced by main characters). Every single character with more than a few seconds of screentime had his/her own epiphany as well. This harmony of characters is what defines the real world, for we all have our own epiphanies and that is what makes the world go round, regardless of how rusty it can seem.

Down to the nitty gritty…

While some supporting cast found in the comics have been omitted, they have been done so with sound rationality. Gwen Stacy, as a prime example, would have overloaded unfamiliar viewers, so it is understandable that only Mary Jane was used. The best supporting character that WAS used, however, was J. Jonah Jameson, Editor-in-Chief of "The Daily Bugle." J.K. Simmons (of "Law & Order" fame) was a hilarious turn as the film's comic relief.

The movie begins with painted comic art behind the opening credits, briefly reiterating the gist of the first film, thus not wasting any actual film time reminiscing. Smart move, Raimi.

I won't say much of anything specific so as to not spoil the movie, but I would like to focus on two more items. First of all, the subject of my summary title - Doc Ock. While the Green Goblin was cool in the first, Doc Ock is a more relatable persona and more gripping (pun intended) character in interaction. I've always been a fan of second-tier villains like the Riddler (Batman), Pyro (X-Men), and of course, Doc Ock, so it is great that Raimi has reinvigorated the mad scientist.

My second item is the wide range of fanboy nods, things thrown into the movie that only comic aficionados would recognize. The first had many like the reference to "SHAZAM," but the second had more. Ranging from Dr. Strange to how old ladies treat comics, Spidey 2 has really outdone the nods in movies like "X-men" and "The Hulk."

My final note is this: GUYS, did you like the rainy alley scene in the first Spidey film? Well, we get another taste of MJ's revealing WET SHIRT in "2."
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Why the Hype?! Focus needs to get into it.
20 February 2004
Sofia Coppola's film is nothing short of bland. It's only saving graces are its perspective of Americans viewing Japanese culture and Ana Faris's acting, albeit her character was nerve-racking.

The exposition of setting up each main character worked well, but bringing the two together was executed in far too convenient a manner, nor was the chemistry quite right.

As with movies such as "A Thin Red Line," only one scene came across as viable and intellectually stimulating - the scene discussing life, marriage, and future.

BAFTA awarding Murray and Johansson, and the Academy nominating the former, just seems purely inane, for neither actor's role carried much challenge or deep performance. As Patrick Stewart says on a TNT commercial, "Drama is life heightened." I found no such drama in this film.

Focus Features claims to make original pictures, in opposition to the endless cliche movies of Hollywood; however, the three I've seen so far have had unoriginal plots, bland stories, and sparsely challenging roles. Before viewing "Lost in Translation," I had seen "Gosford Park" and "Swimming Pool." Ludivine Sagnier was the only worthwhile aspect of the latter, and the plot of the former was not "original," as the Academy had awarded it - "Memento" was far more "original" a screenplay. I just hope that the ultra original premise of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is not diluted by Focus's inept execution of film.
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Identity (2003)
Very original premise… but secret blown too soon
11 September 2003
This movie has a very good approach to its plot twists, but its namesake secret is revealed far too soon to perpetuate the mystery and suspense. In the first half, one is kept guessing Clue-style. After the revelation, however, the story goes cliche until its last few moments. I would have given it a 10 were it not for its poorly planned continuity.
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Better than the first 2-D…
27 July 2003
Although the plot wasn't very much original, the characters and animation (not necessarily because of the 3D) were very entertaining.

Sylvester Stallone stole the show (at least from the rest of the adult cast) as the Toymaker and his trinity Id, Ego, and Superego, harking back to his hilarious turn in "Oscar."

Both Carmen and Juni were more mature characters than the spoiled brats they were in the prequels; perhaps such characterization was made possible by focusing on them – the returning adult cast were primarily cameos.

New-comer Courtney Jines (Demetra) exuded the child-star acting greatness of Natalie Portman in "The Professional" and Raven-Symone in "The Cosby Show." She will no doubt blossom into a sexy starlet in a few years (much as Alexa Vega [Carmen] is now doing).

Ah, and it's nice to get a double-dose of Alan Cumming Antics from this movie and "X2."
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Fresh script and fast-paced fun
26 May 2003
I am often very critical of films, the slightest corny idea or bad casting making me double-take in disbelief. The usual romantic comedy is chock full of cliches and shallow behavior and doesn't merit much of a rating. With "2 Weeks," though, I didn't spot one cliche, not even at the end. A rarity indeed, this hilarious business romance rates a 10 (and I usually don't like movies with Hugh Grant).
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Heil Carlyle!
24 May 2003
Not since the late Sir Alec Guiness has the role of Hitler been cast so well. Robert Carlyle spews the fury of the Fuhrer (although some of the real Hitler's fervor was lacking). Jena Malone was excellent as Hitler's niece Geli, a person, unlike Eva Braun, that is rarely mentioned in documentaries. Peter Stomare was an excellent choice for the head of the wanton SA.

Although the film in general was well-done, its point of view – propaganda vs. propaganda – made the story too focused on lesser characters, like anti-Nazi journalist Fritz Erlich. Such focus allows for more freedom and educative moments, but it shunned development of notorious historical figures like Braun, Goebbels, Goering, and Hess.

Overall, I would give the film a high C+ to a low B-.
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X2 (2003)
Nightcrawler uses faith. X2 rekindled mine (possible spoiler)
2 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
"X-Men" sucked, with the exception of Hugh Jackman's performance. Hokeyness abounded with the mutant machine and how Rogue got her white streak.

"X2," however, is a different story - it was brilliant! Loaded with fanboy nods galore (see Wizard Magazine #140 for a list), this film must have been inspired by the awesome effects brought on by "Spider-Man." Colossus's cameo served very well, his armor and role adapted excellently. Siryn and Shadowcat were funny, but other cameos were more surprising. I noticed Beast's brief TV appearance because I was looking for it, but I only wish I had known to look for Sebastian Shaw and Gambit (played by James Bamford - BAMFord as in Nightcrawler's "BAMF?" lol).

Nightcrawler was depicted very well also. He was both pious and humorous, and even exhibited an Oedipus complex when talking to Mystique (his mother in comics). Odd, though, that no one made mention of the smell of brimstone his teleportation creates, nor any jokes about the sound "BAMF."

Lady Deathstrike was a bit disappointing. The codename was never used and she only bared her claws once. Kelly Hu would have made a much better Psylocke, though - an English-Chinese-Hawaiian actress portraying an English-turned-Chinese character.

Somehow, Ian McKellan, Anna Paquin, and Shawn Ashmore came across as their respective characters much more convincingly than in the first film.

The two biggest surprises of the film were those of Jean Grey and ol' Wolvie. Jean goes Phoenix, and Wolvie cries!!!

Highly recommended, even to those who hated the first movie.

PS - Could one of Stryker's soldiers have been Maverick? Hmmm.

PPS - Who was that mutant kid changing the TV channels by blinking?! I cannot for the life of me figure it out. My father, not an X-pert, said that maybe he had a connection to Jean Grey because of his telekinetic powers. My brother then said that maybe it was Cable, who is connected to Jean. I said it couldn't be him because he's from the future. My brother then said he was kidding - the kid was changing TV CHANNELS so he was CABLE. Ha, ha.
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Helen of Troy (2003– )
Beware of Greeks Bearing This (possible spoiler)
21 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Although it is evident that painstaking detail was ensured in the props and cinematography, all other aspects of this mini-series fall half-and-half.

Casting: Rufus Sewell was top-notch as the despicable Agamemnon and John Rhys-Davies was a superb Priam, but whoever thought of Stellan Skarsgård as Theseus (whose death was depicted incorrectly in the movie)?

Characters: All characters in the movie were well-developed, but major characters were unnecessarily omitted. It accounted for Helen as a curse to her family because of her illegitimate conception when her mother's husband was away; however, she, Polydeuces, Clytemnestra, and Castor were all born simultaneously, the males from one egg, the females from another (her mother's husband at home with his wife). Polydeuces was Zeus's son, but he was not labeled as a curse like Helen. Castor was not even in the movie. Laocoon, the Trojan seer strangled by serpents after trying to warn about the Trojan Horse, and Aias (more commonly known by his Latin name Ajax) were no shows as well, even though the latter was mentioned once briefly.

Names: Helen's brother Polydeuces was called by his Latin name Pollux.

Personae: Hector was depicted as the noble prince as in the myth, but Achilles was the complete antithesis of what he should have been. More like the the god Ares, Achilles was out for blood and cold-bloodedly killed Hector; however, the mythical Achilles was honorable and only killed Hector to avenge the death of his pupil, Patroclus, even then feeling bad and trying to negotiate an end to the war. He was also in love with one of Priam's daughters and wanted to trade Hector's body for her. In the movie, though, Helen offered herself to Agamemnon in trade for Hector's body. Achilles death remained unexplained, too, only the myth buffs knowing of his vulnerability.

Style: Needless narration was used. Also, time was halted a couple times to afford Meneleaus room for epiphany... and a chat with Paris.

These discrepancies are only the tip of the iceberg. Some people may not mind these changes, and I wouldn't either were it not for the fact that these changes and ommissions were completely unnecessary.

One omission that cannot be supported, however, is that of the goddess Eris, for it was she who begat the pageant between the goddesses, getting the ball (or apple) rolling.
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Feardotcom (2002)
9 February 2003
On its own, it may have stood a chance; however, the basic premise of technology killing people in a set timeframe has already been exposed to movie-goers by "The Ring" (which in turn was based on an older Japanese film). The primary difference in premise is that "The Ring"s explanation of the situation is fantasy, and "feardotcom"s is sci-fi. The latter is much creepier than the former and also has better cinematography, but overall the former wins out in entertainment value.

Moreover, while Natasha McElhone delivers a good performance in "feardotcom," Naomi Watts' role in "The Ring" is much more deeply seeded into the mood of the audience.
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Comic Book Villains (2002 Video)
See this movie if you've ever liked comics…
5 January 2003
I admit that I rented this movie simply because I love comic books (and have been wanting to see it ever since I first learned it was being made); however, the movie really surprised me. It was a very entertaining tragicomedy, namely thanks to its premise of trying to get a 45-year-old comic book collection from an unrelenting mother.

Donal Logue put forth an excellent performance as the bankrupt and shabby local comic store owner, and Cary Elwes actually made a believable thug. Despite cliché hijinks from the Natasha Lyonne-Michael Rappaport team-up and unnecessary narration, the story makes good with incorporating capitalistic competition, laid-back criminals, and comic trivia. In short, anyone can really enjoy this movie, but it is a must-see for what Stan Lee calls "true believers."
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Eye See You (2002)
"Eye See You" but please do not see me
5 January 2003
Stallone puts on a good performance and the premise is very original, but the entire film is spoiled in its follow-through. This movie eventually becomes another hunt 'n' slash flick like "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th."
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Interesting premise, but don't waste your time (possible spoiler)
19 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
While the amnesia, alterations of fate, and surprising changes are intriguing (and the lesbian scenes enticing to an extent), this movie has many fatal flaws in its follow-through. Characters are not fleshed out in the end because they change identities, why fates change is not justified or explained well; and when fates change, a mystery that has been building in the story is suddenly pushed aside so that a new one may happen. The title is basically the location of the opening scene and another near the end, but has no significance whatsoever to the many plots.

I've gotta hand it to Naomi Watts, though. She made one heckuva great and daring performance.

And, why, I ask was Billy Ray Cyrus cast? (lol)
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Princess Mononoke fans beware.
14 October 2002
Pokemon 4ever is just a kids' version of Princess Mononoke. Celebi is even called the "Spirit of the Forest." The monster is just like the Nightstalker from Mononoke. There is a healing lake, Suicune looks like the spirit and acts like the wolf gods from Mononoke.

The only good thing about the movie was its revelation at the end. If you pay close attention to foreshadowing, you can guess the secret as I did.
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Reign of Fire (2002)
Finally, sci-fi dragons instead of fantasy ones…
17 July 2002
The dragons were beautifully done. With the motions of a vampire bat, chemical drool, and the decrepit look of its wings, these dragons seemed very real.

The movie, however, would have stood a better chance as a trilogy, with the first part focusing on the destruction of the world as opposed o glossing over it. Maybe then "Reign of Fire" could have been followed by "The Humans Strike Back," pardon the pun for the parody in the movie.

And parents, there isn't much that a fourth or fifth grader couldn't see, a few bad words and dragon body parts aside. There is absolutely nothing sexual; the closest the movie gets to any show of affection is the lead hugging his "son."

"Dragonheart" eat yours out…
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Scooby-Doo (2002)
Heed the Words of a False Prophet.? (possible spoiler)
23 June 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I take adaptations of classic comics & other cartoons religiously. With so many bad adaptations like Inspector Gadget, Batman & Robin, and, to some extent, X-Men, I had begun to lose my faith. Hearing Mike Myers was taking on Scooby rekindled a spark in me a bit, but upon hearing of the current cast, I once again became skeptical.

Spider-Man became my messiah - at last an adaptation worth praising. Then, Scooby starting surprising me: hearing Matthew Lillard do Shaggy was an epiphany - perhaps Raja Gosnell did indeed know what he was doing.

Still being somewhat skeptical, I went to see Scooby. I was absolutely thrilled, despite minor disappointing quirks from supposedly static characters(like Fred's heretofore unseen vanity and Daphne's whine). I actually enjoyed the movie.

Reference to Hong Kong Phooey and the gang ditching Scrappy (too bad Lucas didn't do similarly with Jar Jar) were delightful. "Brick House" as theme music to Scooby's disguise helped set the "updatedness" of the movie back to the '70's in a refreshing way.

But alas, the story was revealed to be a false prophet upon reaching the climax. My placation went from 99% to 10% when the real villain was revealed. Even my 10-year old brother was insulted by the poor choice of antagonism. I won't say who that villain was, so as to not spoil much, but I will say that our favorite ol' Great Dane didn't have him crying "Uncle."

  • The Overdrama

P.S. - Sarah Michelle Gellar is one of my favorite actresses, but portraying Daphne was no help to her poor resume. And, after seeing the movie, she had me salivating no where near as much as Isla Fisher, who potrays Mary Jane (à la Spidey?), Shaggy's gorgeous girlfriend.
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Not just a title, but an order: You must "Return to NeverLand!"
18 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
The Little Mermaid II, The Lion King II, Lady and the Tramp II, Pocahontas II, and Beauty and the Beast II & III were all straight-to-video sequels because they did not merit the big screen; however, Disney knew Peter Pan II was worth it when deciding to release it in theaters.

There are no big change-ups in story as many sequels tend to have (other than the croc being usurped by an octopus), and the voices sound just like the originals.

Jumping time is always a no-no in many franchises, but having Wendy grown-up with her daughter in the spotlight as protagonist works well here because, well, it's been a long while since the first film.

There is excellent contrast between the darkness of wartime London and the fanciful care-free nature that is Never-Never Land. Surprisingly, the dark scape of London made for excellent CGI shots without taking from the film's nostalgic animation style as used elsewhere.

There are two particulars, however, that bother me – 1] Jane's voice sounds to old for a girl who appears to be no more than 12-years-old (no matter how much she acts "like a grown-up"); 2] Where are Jane's Uncles John and Michael?

Finally, taking heed from more recent Disney films, most of the soundtrack is background music. The theme song, "Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust," as performed by Jonatha Brooke (Amy Grant/Tori Amos blend), is absolutely enchanting and beautiful.

----- 9/10 [warning: possible spoiler in post-postscript]

PS - It seems that Disney took a liking to Spielberg's "Hook," for certain concepts (such as one dealing with Tinkerbell's powers) are very similar to the live-action adventure.

PPS - Remember the mermaids from the first film? Well, they're back, and one looks like a certain '90's favorite that goes by the name of Ariel. With Lion King cameos in "Aladdin & the King of Thieves" and elsewhere, it's quite possible that Disney purposely threw out this fanboy treat.
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Scary Movie 2 (2001)
The first was better
27 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
The first installment was much better woven than this sequel. Marlon "Shorty" Wayans had a bigger part in the sequel; therefore, his drug-fried brained character brought the "plot"s mental level down greatly. Sexuality was overdone much in the same way as a puking scene was.

Tori Spelling was her usually obnoxious self, while Kathleen Robertson was no replacement for Carmen Electra. Anna Faris was the most attractive quality of the film, while James Woods (solely an ice-breaker, unfortunately) was the funniest. Tim Curry and Chris Elliot were their usually selves as well.

Richard Moll was a good choice for the ghost.


As the first film was based primarily on "Scream," this sequel's exposition begins with a "Scream 2"-oriented story; however, it quickly turns into a spoof of "The Haunting." Here are most of the other movies parodied therein:

Charlie's Angels; Child's Play; The Exorcist; Hannibal (though the mask shown on the cover never appears); Hollow Man; House on Haunted Hill; It; Paulie; Road Trip; Save the Last Dance; Urban Legends: Final Cut; The Weakest Link; What Lies Beneath
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Nice to finally see it come to fruition, but…
19 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I just got out of the midnight run, and I enjoyed the movie (warning: possible spoiler on image of Balrog to follow).

The best interpretation made by the creators is what Frodo actually experiences (and what we can see) when he wears the ring and turns "invisible."

The movie lacked in character development, short of Arwen & Aragorn together, and that of Boromir.

The creation of Saruman's army was sort of glossed over, but the goblins and orcs steal the show. The sets were fantastic as well.

I was sort of let down by Elijah Wood's performance (seemed a bit Stoic and forced) and by the rendition of the Balrog (reminded me of the bull in "The Last Unicorn").
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Kevin Smith's Best; Arguably the Best Comedy of the Year (warning: small spoilers on certain jokes)
26 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
With the well-known comic wisdom interlaced with the most hilarious uses of profanity always found in Kevin Smith films, "Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back" may be the best of the View Askew/Jersey Saga yet, for it serves as a knot, tying together all of the previous films, including the Smith-produced "Good Will Hunting." Jason Lee (in two roles), Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Renée Humphrey (*sigh* Trish the Dish!), Brian O'Halloran, and many others reprise their previous roles, while Shannen Doherty ("Mallrats"), Matt Damon ("Chasing Amy," "Dogma"), Chris Rock ("Dogma"), and George Carlin ("Dogma") return in new roles.

Eliza Dushka and Ali Larter keep the hornballs enthused, while Shannon Elizabeth stands as a saving grace for bombshells everywhere by playing a caring, glasses-wearing teddy bear. Her relationship with Jay surprisingly enough makes "J&SB" a love story as well.

Not only does the movie reuse old jokes that nod to previous films, such as the Dante working on his day off in `Clerks,' but it also acknowledges the audience three times, such as with Ben Affleck asking `who would pay to see a movie about Jay and Silent Bob,' then looking at the camera.

Playing off TV shows and other summer movies (and ones from the recent past), "J&SB" pokes fun at "Scream," "The Matrix," "Barney," "The Fugitive," "Dawson's Creek," "American Pie" (drawing heavily from that cast as well), "Planet of the Apes," "Good Will Hunting," and, as the title suggests, "Stars Wars: The Empire Strikes Back." Even Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill appear. Hamill says that someone is going to sue George Lucas when Silent Bob uses the force (à la "Mallrats") to retrieve a bong lightsabre. As with his roles as "The Joker" on "Batman: TAS," "Hobgoblin" from the Spider-Man cartoon, and "The Trickster" from "The Flash" television series, Hamill (who won't let James van der Beek upstage him) excellently portrays the "Bluntman & Chronic" villain known as the Cock-knocker.

As for using "Good Will Hunting," J&SB appear on the set of "GWH2: Hunting Season," which takes quite a violent turn from the original's more intellectual tone (as the title suggests).

All in all, the entire movie has been long in the planning. Smith fans may recall how "Mallrats" ended with J&SB walking away with an orang utan saying that it was another story. This movie IS that story. Because of these kinds of allusions to Smith's previous films, I suggest for anyone who has yet to see "J&SB" that they watch "Good Will Hunting" and the previous four View Askew films ("Dogma," while hilarious, is not as pertinent, for it is only mentioned once by Matt Damon). And for those who have already seen "J&SB," watch the other movies anyway – it will make "J&SB" so much more understandable and thus funnier.

PS – Will Ferrell is his usual humorously annoying self.
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Sugar & Spice (2001)
Annoying lead characters despite a good idea
28 July 2001
While having a group of teenage cheerleaders rob a bank is an interesting and different idea, this satire's one major flaw is its character writing. "Kansas" (Mena Suvari) and "Lisa" were the only characters that came across as believable. The leads, "Jack & Diane" (named for the John Mellancamp song?), are star quarterback and head cheerleader respectively, yet their characters are merely airheads living a gooberful life. James Marsden, who plays "Jack," portrays his role well when compared to his big role as the serious, pragmatic Cyclops in "X-Men." Moreover, the characters who fill the roles of the brain and the Christian girl are completely antithetical with what they are supposed to be.

All in all, while this film has a good plot, good satire, and plenty of sexy gals (*sigh* Mena…), the characters are annoying and completely distracting.
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