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The Cinematic Equivalent of a Trip to the Dentist
Good lord, how could this movie be this bad? It has everything going for it -- a top-notch ensemble cast at the top of their games, a somewhat interesting premise, and a great first twenty minutes. But then everything starts to go down hill, really fast. The story starts to mimic every other suburbanite neo-noir murder-mystery ever made.
One of the film's many problems was how the characters were under written, by the time the "surprise" twist hits you at the end of the film, do you really care? There was not one character that was even REMOTELY interesting throughout the entire film -- with the exception of Kevin Bacon's mildly amusing cameo. Steve Martin was dull. Laura Dern was too over-the-top. Helena Bonham Carter wasn't weird enough. Scott Caan over acted too much. Elias Koteas was under used. Like aforementioned -- Kevin Bacon was the only remotely funny player in this train wreck.
I went into this film wanting to like it. I expected to see a totally messed up and twisted dark comedy in the vein of Peter Berg's "Very Bad Things" or Danny DeVito's under appreciated "Death to Smoochy". What I got was an under written, poorly performed C-Movie that should have debuted on Cinemax and starred Don "The Dragon" Wilson or Andrew Stevens.
The film's other main failure was that it was neither funny nor shocking. I couldn't decide if this was supposed to be a black comedy or a neo-noir thriller. I was disappointed when it wasn't either. There was nothing remotely shocking or disturbing in this film, and the surprise twists are lame.
I wanted to smack the director so many times. His constant use of X-Ray wipes and bizarre dental-related dissolves really got on my nerves as the movie progressed. It was neither clever, nor artistic, but annoying. It's because of the aforementioned "artistic style" that poseur film buffs will rant and rave about how this movie is so avant garde and therefore brilliant.
So, would I recommend this movie -- no. If you're looking for a good Steve Martin flick, rent The Jerk or Bowfinger, do yourself a favor and stay away from this wretched pile of trash.
Out of a possible **** stars, I have to give this one a *
Night Visions (2001)
Twilight Zone Reloaded
I, for one, enjoy this show. It's not the greatest show ever, nor is it the most original, but it makes for good late-night entertainment. I'm constantly blown away by the somewhat big names they can get. Thus far (4 episodes in) the best one is the one with Brian Dennehy and Cary Elwes about the weekend killer. Sure, the stories are trite and the surprises are predictable five minutes in, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The only problem I have with this show is Henry Rollins' grim and somber Rod Serling-esque intros and outros. Henry Rollins is too talented and/or cool to be that dull and boring. He should really liven up, it would add a whole new dimension to this show. This show is definitely worth watching. But you should probably watch it soon before Fox inevitably yanks it from its lineup and replaces it with more Malcolm In The Middle reruns.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
Masterpiece or Mediocrity?
Upon leaving the plush, air-conditioned stadium seating of my local megaplex, I was left with many emotions running through my brain, ranging from...disappointment to bewilderment...excitement to ennui...comfort to white-hot bladder-busting pain. I left the theatre torn, did I love this movie, or did I loathe it? Was it the greatest piece of film in the past year, or was it the worst story ever put to celluloid. In hindsight, I'd have to say that it falls somewhere between the two. It is neither great nor terrible. It's place is somewhere in the gray zone, along with most of Bruckheimer and Bay's films.
So, where to begin? The story itself wasn't very solid, but then again I didn't plop down my five bucks to see a story, I wanted to see what every red-blooded American did...non-stop action and carnage courtesy of Disney's generous $145 million budget. The action scenes were everything I'd hoped for and more. You're not going to see much better elsewhere. I loved everything about the attack, especially the intense, edge-of-your-seat moments leading up to the attack. The raid on Tokyo was also very well-done and very intense, but not as nerve-wracking as the attack on Pearl Harbor itself. Getting back to the story, let's see, it's your typical cliched love triangle between two best friends and the woman of their dreams...boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy goes off to war, boy shot down, presumed dead, boy's best friend breaks sad news to girl, boy's best friend and girl fall for one another, boy comes back, heartbroken. The story borrows heavily from every war movie that preceeded it, but in all fairness which war movie doesn't? The only cliche that really bugged me was the "I'm not gonna make it, am I Sarge?" scene in the end. That scene right there was almost enough to make me forget about the awesome attack scene.
This film is not without its merits. It supports some top-notch acting. The entire cast is nearly perfect, delivering believable characters. Ben Affleck has never been better (okay, maybe he has, but so what!)...Josh Hartnett really shines in this one, maybe this will be the one to finally make him (which is long overdue, don't believe me, check out "The Virgin Suicides")...Kate Beckinsale was superb (and extremely hot!)...Cuba Gooding Jr. was alright, he overacted a little bit too much for my taste...Jon Voight's portrayal of FDR was brilliant...Alec Baldwin really outdid himself...Ewen Bremner (Spud from "Trainspotting) surprised the hell out of me with his authentic American accent...Tom Sizemore was great as always...Dan Akroyd was criminally underused...the list goes on and on. Kudos to whomever cast this film, they really did a great job and found some truly brilliant and unappreciated talent.
This film is poised to become the next big thing. It may even go so far as to break Titanic's record. This film is so big that it will either make or break every one involved. Sadly, if this film bombs, we will be forced to watch several brilliant actor's careers go down the drain and the fall of the Bruckheimer empire. If this film succeeds, we will see Hollywood continue to wallow in its own excess, watch in horror as budgets go into the hundreds of millions, as ticket prices raise higher and higher, and the continuation of the Bruckheimer empire. Either way, after this film, Hollywood as we know it, will be forever changed...for better or worse.
I give this one 5 1/2 out of a possible 10.
That's My Bush! (2001)
Great Television...Not for The Uninitiated
This show is great, one of the funniest things on television right now. The funny thing is is that people out there just don't get the joke. This show is not aimed at mocking "President" Bush, but rather at ragging on the cliched and hackneyed "medium" known as the situation comedy, or as more commonly known "sitcom". Trey Parker and Matt Stone are two geniuses who are truly and utterly unappreciated. Look at South Park, a brilliant comedy that subtly and not-so subtly satirizes our modern times and whatnot. There's not one thing about this show that's not to like. Kudos to Parker and Stone for casting Timothy Bottoms to play Bush...the likeness is truly impeccable. Of course, knowing America, this show probably won't last for more than a couple of seasons, because people are just too dull and moronic to get what Parker and Stone are really trying to convey. I give this one a perfect score. This show is flawless!
The Crow: City of Angels (1996)
What Went Wrong?
***SPOILER*** Excuse me for joining in with the crowd and coming flat out and stating that this film is bad. It is not without its high points, but unfortunately, its low points outweigh them. This is a film that could have been great, even brilliant, had it not been rushed. Watching the final product, one can see how hurried and rushed it was. The story, yes there was a story in there somewhere, just wasn't given enough time to be properly developed. I don't blame the film makers or the cast, because they were just doing what they were told. The amount of talent involved with this film is damn-near jaw-dropping. This is virtually a wet-dream for someone like me...the collective talents of David S. Goyer (a truly brilliant and somewhat unappreciated screenwriter) and Tim Pope (a top-notch genius director). I once read somewhere that Goyer was very displeased with the finished product and placed the blame upon Crow fans for being impatient. He said that his original idea was to have a female Crow killed by Jack the Ripper in Victorian England and her hunt for justice. Maybe us Crow fans should stop pinning the blame on the film makers, and just start accepting the fact that our impatience led to this dull and uninspired film.
The visuals in this film were mind-blowing, but unfortunately as with every other film out there today, it's a matter of style over substance. The acting was somewhat sub-standard, Mia Kirschner (or however you spell it) gave a truly heartfelt performance as the older, wiser Sarah; Iggy Pop was kind of over-the-top, but then again when isn't he?; Richard Brooks was a good villain, but not nearly as good or efficient as Michael Wincott (but who is?). Vincent Perez was very dull and uninteresting, watching his performance I felt that he just wasn't giving it all he had. Eric Mabius did the exact same thing in the follow-up. Both actors failed to convince me that they were feeling the emotions and rage of their characters. Brandon Lee was brilliant at parlaying Eric Draven's pain and agony, he made one think that he truly was Eric Draven.
This movie did have a few good moments, some of the death scenes were pretty clever and interesting...but did they really have to put the Crow symbol at every murder scene? I know the first one did it, but the way they did it was clever, in City of Angels it seemed as though they were straining to put the symbol in. I liked the slight change of formula, where Ashe lost his son rather than his lover. ***SPOILER*** I also liked the end, where Judah gained Ashe's powers and for one brief moment we had not one but two Crows on screen.
All in all, this movie is bad, but it is definitely not the worst movie ever made. If anyone should be blamed for this film, it should be the Weinstein brothers and their talent for creating mediocre film franchises out of some brilliant films. Us Crow fans should also absorb some of the blame as well, being that we acted like moronic fan-boys and just couldn't wait for this sequel. I propose that Miramax and Dimension do the right thing and just leave the series alone. Being a cinematic fan-boy, I must quote Highlander "There can be only one."
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
What the Hell?
What the hell happened with this one? I understand that it's the third entry into an otherwise flawless series and that George Miller didn't put his whole heart into it (suffering the loss of longtime friend and producer Byron Kennedy), and that it had two directors, but still...what the hell? This movie starts out top-notch, and it seems like it's going to be a superb follow up to the brilliant Road Warrior, and then about halfway through it turns into friggin' Peter Pan meets Lord of the Flies! Mel Gibson was great in this film, and working as hard as he could to make it work. Tina Turner was adequate, but not spectacular. I understand the film maker's intentions to try and take the series into a completely different direction and all, but why would you pick this direction? And what was up with that Gyro Captain guy from Road Warrior being cast as a similar character? Why not just bring his character back? I don't know, maybe it was the same character, I really wasn't awake for most of this film. If you want to catch a top-notch Mad Max film pick up either the first or second, both are far superior to this one.
I give this one * * 1/2 out of * * * * *
Oh yeah, and what's up with that annoying Ironbar guy not dying? He gets hit by a train, thrown off a bridge, and has his car destroyed with him in it, and yet he still doesn't die!
Lost Souls (2000)
A Great and Unappreciated Film
I just finished watching this superb and exquisite piece of celluloid and felt the need to comment on it. A majority of people hate this movie (the box office numbers don't lie) and most have written it off as yet another cheesy Exorcist or Omen rip-off, when in fact it is anything but. I don't want to sound like a cliched hackneyed reviewer, but I must say that this movie had it all. Great story, brilliant direction, disturbing visuals, and some of the finest acting in the last year. You have to hand it to the director for using Winona Ryder's brooding acting talent to her advantage. This film is superb in every manner. The visuals are very much like Saving Private Ryan or Schindler's List. (it should be noted that the DP on those films is the director of this film) What a remarkable debut by a true talent. In time this film will be appreciated for what it truly is and not for what it seems on the surface. I'm hoping that the director is not deterred by the moronic and inept American audiences and continues to make films.
I give this one * * * * * * out of * * * * *
Little Nicky (2000)
The Quintessential Sandler Film!
This was a great film and one of the best films of the year, contrary to what so many others say. This is the second most underrated & unappreciated movie of 2000, following Book of Shadows: The Blair Witch 2. There is nothing to not like about this movie, it is virtually non-stop laughs from beginning to end.
Reading some other user's reviews I'm stunned at their disdain and hatred for this great film. People always say that this is no Citizen Kane...well duh...to quote Highlander "There can be only one!". Now I'm not saying that this movie is in the same league as Citizen Kane, but that doesn't mean it's bad. This is an epic Sandler piece, and his funniest to date, and is quite possibly the definitive Sandler film.
Unlike most people, I loathed Big Daddy, writing it off as cheesy and overly sentimental; a one-joke gag stretched beyond its limits. Luckily that does not apply to this film, every aspect of this film is great, from the surprise cameo by "CHUBS" (Carl Weathers) to Harvey Keitel's hilarious turn as Papa Satan. You've gotta love a movie that lets Quentin Tarantino use his "unique" acting "ability" to his advantage in a brilliant performance as the religious zealot. My favorite cameo belongs to B-Movie God Clint Howard...after this movie, I don't think I'll ever look at him the same way again! The Cameos are worth the ticket price alone!
The story was top-notch and was brilliantly executed. This film definitely shows maturity in Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy's writing abilities, as they created a complex and involving storyline, and great and hilarious characters.
I recommend this film to any film fans. Give this one a shot, regardless of your personal view of Sandler and his talent. Sandler is one of the most underrated and ridiculed acts out there today, which is sad considering his remarkable talent. How many other performers out there today write, produce, and star in their own films?
I give this one * * * * * * out of * * * * *
Six-String Samurai (1998)
An Underrated, Unappreciated Gem of Modern Cinema
I just saw this film this afternoon on THE MOVIE CHANNEL, and I was stunned. I sat in a quiet and distilled awe as the final credits rolled. This is one hell of a movie, and a truly unique contribution to modern cinema. This film is most-definitely destined for cult status, and utterly deserves it.
Unlike most modern films, this one had it all: good writing, excellent, skilled direction, brilliant set-pieces, great B-level acting, some of the most kick-ass fight sequences in years, and a killer soundtrack to boot. That's not to say that this film doesn't have its short-comings, which are too few to even mention. For one to truly appreciate this film, one must approach it with an open-mind. This is a strange film (much like Cox's Repo Man) and is truly unique. I guarantee you haven't seen anything like this before. The only thing that this remotely resembles is The Mad Max trilogy.
I recommend this movie for fans of The Mad Max trilogy, Repo Man, Kurosawa films, and any other combination of cult films.
Out of a possible * * * * *, I give this one * * * * *!
What's Wrong With America?
It sickens me to live in a society where "The Blair Witch Project" makes a gajillion dollars, yet its far superior and more involving sequel tanks. Perhaps this movie was too intelligent and flew over the head of its collective audience. Perhaps Americans are as dumb as other countries think. Or, that Artisan just didn't try hard enough with this one. I saw it on the opening weekend. I walked in expecting to see another generic and cliched genre sequel. The ending is one of the best endings ever put on celluloid, ten times better than the first. I left stunned, my mind racing a mile a minute. Weeks after seeing this film, I was still mulling over its complexities and significances. This is the penultimate sequel, far surpassing its predecessor. Maybe, somewhere in the near future, America will wise up and realize what this film truly is. But, knowing Americans, probably not. I highly recommend checking this one out. This is a film that you should definitely have in your collection. No film fan's collection would be complete without it.
Out of * * * * *, I give this one * * * * * *