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King Kong (2005)
Truly A Masterpiece!
Let me just say that with all of the remakes that have been coming out, King Kong may have been the most deserving and the most in need of being remade. I could not think of a better director for this type of film than Peter Jackson.
King Kong stays pretty true to the original. Naomi Watts plays Fay Wray's Ann Darrow perfectly. Right down to her emotional connection with Kong, which is helped by the fact that Kong is pretty darn lovable when he is not ripping apart dinosaurs.
Adrien Brody plays a great Jack Driscoll as well. Brody is truly a gifted actor and plays a good hero.
Even Jack Black did a good job as the rebellious director Carl Denham. Usually I am annoyed by Black's performances, even though they are mostly in comedies. Surprisingly, Black kept his character serious and the movie is better for it. I though for sure he would be the one to ruin this movie for me but, again, I stand corrected. The comedy seemed to be reserved for Kong, himself, and did a wonderful job.
I can not express how much more I enjoyed this movie without the "guy in the suit" special effects. Kong was very appealing visually, as well as the other dinosaurs. I do not say this too much in reviews. In fact, I doubt I have ever said it but King Kong has turned out to be a masterpiece which will raise the bar for many years to come. 10/10
Æon Flux (2005)
I Liked It, Actually. Better Than It Is Given Credit For.
Aeon Flux takes place in the last city on Earth, Bregna, 400 years after a deadly virus wipes out 99% of the population. Dr. Trevor Goodchild (Marton Csokas) eventually found a cure and treated those that were left. Along with his brother, Oren (Jonny Lee Miller), the Goodchilds ruled over Bregna the entire 400 years in what had become a dictatorship.
A rebel group named the Monicans soon rose up and challenged the Goodchilds authority. Their goal is to assassinate the Goodchild family and win back their freedom. Their top assassin, Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron), is assigned to assassinate Trevor Goodchild and after making her way through a booby trapped field, makes her way to Goodchild. She gets him in her sights and has every intention of going through with it until Trevor notices her and gives her a look like he knows her.
I can not go much further without spoiling the story for some but needless to say, I think this movie has some nice surprises and twists and ties together nicely in the end.
The movie begins in a very weird manner, similar to The Fifth Element in regards to the special effects and overall feel of the movie. I also have to say that I love the fact that Aeon had to wear tight spandex throughout the entire movie. They could not have chosen a sexier woman than Charlize Theron to play this part and she does not disappoint, not even in the action scenes.
Some of the action scenes show a large amount of creativity while others seem to have been somewhat influenced by The Matrix trilogy. There is nothing wrong with that and Flux ends up with a style that is pretty much it's own.
Overall, I thought this was going to be a confusing and possibly boring movie. However, once sitting through it and giving it a chance, the story turned out to be just as good as the action. I never watched the cartoon series so I am walking into this movie cold and furthermore, I can not tell you whether the movie retains the same story but I can state that I did enjoy this movie. If you liked Elektra (and I know many of you did), then you should enjoy Aeon Flux as well. 7.5/10
Santa's Slay (2005)
A Badder Santa Than 'Bad Santa'.. But Only Because He's A Demon.
Santa's Slay is a horror/holiday movie. I do not think I have heard of a horror movie starring Santa Claus and, while it is not necessarily a bad idea, there is a reason it is straight-to-video. With that in mind, this was better than I would have thought.
It seems as if Santa Claus (Bill Goldberg) is actually a demon who lost a bet to an angel. Because of the bet, Santa now had to be nice and deliver gifts to the children of the world for 1000 years. It turns out that last year was year one thousand and now Santa is pretty upset and taking it out on innocent families.
Nicholas (Douglas Smith) is a teenager who has taken after his grandfather and is not particularly fond of the Christmas holidays. Soon, it is revealed to Nicholas how Santa came about by his grandfather. Since Santa has, for some reason, targeted Nicholas, he and his girlfriend, Mary (Emilie de Ravin), take it upon themselves to destroy the Christmas demon.
Goldberg was a unique choice to play Santa Claus. He is not exactly what I would expect in a Santa Claus but it turns out to be a great decision. Turns out Santa is buff and resembles a biker. Also, his "reindeer" is played by a buffalo and looks pretty bad ass. It matches Goldberg perfectly.
Some of the special effects were pretty cool and just as many were pretty hokey. I wish directors would not even consider the blue/green screen as an option if you plan on making a decent movie.
Basically, you already know if this is the type of movie for you. If you liked movies such as Uncle Sam, Frost or any other B-Movie that is similarly cheesy, then you will most likely enjoy Santa's Slay, too. If you are the type of person that finds faults in any movie and are hard to please, then skip it. It won't be worth your time. 6.5/10
Doom Will Satisfy Your Blood Lust.
Doom was quite an entertaining video-game turned movie. It promised violence and it definitely delivered. While you did not have to think too much about what was going on, it did have a plot with some great twists. I expected a straight forward "shooter" movie, very similar to the game and, frankly, I expected it to be boring. I was anything but. The video game style of the movie was limited pretty much to one scene. One awesome scene that, if you felt the movie lacked in violence in any way, should fulfill your blood lust.
Sarge (The Rock) is the leader of an elite USMC team which is sent to a space station on Mars to investigate a problem of disappearing scientists. Upon discovering most of the scientists dead, they soon realized they were not going to stay that way. I do not want to give away much more than that but there is more to this movie.
Sarge's team consists of Destroyer (Deobia Oparei), the religious Goat (Ben Daniels), Duke (Raz Adoti), Portman (Richard Brake), The Kid (Al Weaver), Mac (Yao Chin) and John Grimm (Karl Urban), who happens to be the twin brother of one of the scientists, Samantha Grimm (Rosamund Pike).
Doom started off pretty slow, but once the ball got rolling, it resembled the game more and more and kept the excitement up as well. All of these actors pulled off their parts to great avail. Really, how could they go wrong? I went into this movie with extremely low expectation. Especially after reading some of the reviews so I was very pleasantly surprised. I can recommend this movie to those who love a good, bloody action movie. Basically, if you can relate to Sin City, then Doom is also the movie for you. 9/10
An Enjoyable And Original Jet Li Film.
Unleashed, (or Danny The Dog), was a pretty original movie along with a nice platform for Jet Li to show off his great martial arts skills. Not only did we get to see some fast and brutal action from Li, but we got to see a bit of acting as well. Granted, it may not be hard to act like a dog, but Li pulled off some of subtleties extremely well. For example, he "fought as a dog would fight", meaning he focused on one opponent on a time, even while being beat on by others, just as a dog would. You really should watch the special features on the DVD to get an inside look on this movie.
Danny (Jet Li) is a trained fighting machine. We do not get to find out how he became so well trained or even who trained him to fight but we do get to eventually see the back story in which his "Uncle" Bart (Bob Hoskins) gets ahold of him.
Bart is a bit of a gangster or thug of some kind. He uses Danny to beat his opponents unmercifully. Anyone who does not pay what is owed to Bart gets a visit from him and his "dog". This gives the film an excuse to be a little more violent that most other martial arts films as Danny always goes straight for the jugular once Bart takes his collar off.
One of Bart's many rivals eventually makes a move to take out Bart and his crew which leaves Danny without a master. Wandering around in some of his familiar places, he meets up with Sam (Morgan Freeman), who takes him in and treats him like a person, along with Victoria (Kerry Condon), a young girl who Sam is also looking after.
As you may have guessed, Danny soon has to choose who to stay with. Most of you can figure out that the story would come to this and there is no need to spoil the movie for those who do not. Needless to say, more fighting ensues.
I enjoyed Unleashed and would recommend it to fans of martial arts movies, Jet Li or both. I rank it up with Jet Li's "The One" with it's originality and great story. 8/10
A Story Loosely Based On Hansel & Gretel (So Loose I Would Not Have Known It Had I Not Been Told)
As mentioned in the title, Grimm is, what I hear, based on the fairy tale of Hansel & Gretel. That sounded good but the movie I watched really had nothing to do with the story I knew. What we get is a decent, yet dark, movie that had some amusing moments.
Maria (Halina Reijn) and Jacob (Jacob Derwig) are an adult brother and sister who appears to have a sexual relationship as well. Gotta love the Dutch movie makers. Anyhow, Maria and Jacob are abandoned in the woods early on in the movie by their parents because they could no longer afford to take care of them. After the realization of their abandonment, they calm down and find a note from their mother in Maria's pocket. The note tells them to go to Spain and find their uncle who would be able to take care of them.
After a rough trip, they arrive at the address to find their uncle has died, which leaves them with nowhere to go. As you could probably guess, the siblings take to a life of vagrancy & crime to survive until Maria meets Diego (Carmelo Gómez), who kindly takes them in. At this point in the movie, you know that nothing good will ever happen to Maria & Jacob so Diego can't be good.
That seems to be the theme of the movie. I do not think they find one person who actually helps them out in the movie. Possibly, this is the resemblance to the fairy tale but, in all honesty, it does not seem similar at all to me, with minor exceptions of being lost in a forest, running into evil people, etc.
Overall, it was a decent movie that I felt could have done without the Hansel & Gretel connection. However, I surely would not have been as interested if they did not make that connection. It is what intrigued me to begin with, I suppose, but it is not what held my attention. The dark and sometimes humorous scenes are what kept me watching. This was not as good as I expected, however, I have spent my time in worse ways and on worse movies in the past. 6/10
The Brothers Grimm (2005)
Definitely An Interesting Interpretation.
The Brothers Grimm is a different movie than what I expected. It turned out to be similar to Big Fish in a way, but a little darker and with some awesome special effects.
Will (Matt Damon) and Jacob Grimm (Heath Ledger) start off as shysters, bamboozling local town people by setting up elaborate and "supernatural" schemes and charging heavily to ward off monsters, witches or anything else.
The story actually starts getting interesting when they run into an actual supernatural occurrence (or fairy tale). It seems that children have been vanishing in some "enchanted woods" and the French believe it is a scam similar to ones the Grimms have pulled.
While fighting off beasts and such, The Brothers Grimm encounter people who obviously inspire stories such as Little Red Riding Hood, Jack & The Beanstalk, Snow White and others. Altogether, things fill out quite nicely. It never comes straight out and says that Grimm's Fairy Tales comes from these stories but it gives the audience enough credit to figure that out on it's own, even though it is quite obvious.
Lena Headey deserves to be mentioned as the lovely Angelika. She plays a hardened and tough hunter/trapper who helps The Grimms and is also the love interest, which I guess is expected. Also, Monica Bellucci was a good addition as the "mirror queen".
I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Like I said, more than I thought I would have. The special effects were very nice. The trees move realistically like snakes. More believable than some of the giant snake movies I have seen, anyways. I can recommend this movie. If you like Tim Burton style of movies, then you should like this one as well. 8/10
Kibakichi: Bakko-yokaiden (2004)
Cool Idea Ruined By Half-Assed Production.
Kibakichi is a self-titled movie about it's main character, a samurai/werewolf type. The werewolf things, I believe are called Yokai. The Yokai are at war with the humans, who have driven them away from themselves. In a nutshell, that is the movie. The humans and Yokai fighting against each other until one side wins. Not much of a plot.
The movie had an old kung fu style feel to it, kind of like watching Kung Fu Theatre back in the 80's. The best scene in the movie was most likely the first one, where Kibakichi (Ryuuji Harada) fights off a horde of attackers. The movie was all right until the talking began. Whoever was responsible for casting the dubbed voices should be flogged. It was as if the guy from Kung Pow was in charge, or just as easily Matt Stone and Trey Parker. It was hard to take any of these characters seriously, including Kibakichi, himself.
Although there were some semi-cool scenes here, there is not much in favor of making it worth your movie, even for a rental (online or otherwise). Honestly, it really is just not worth it. 3/10
Tony Jaa Is Destined To Make A Name For Himself.
Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior more than exceeded my expectations. I have been waiting for nearly a year since I first heard of it to actually see it and it did not let me down. Although the movie started a bit slow, after about half an hour, things began to pick up and the movie never looked back.
Ong-Bak is about a small town villager named Ting (Tony Jaa), who sets out to find the head of his beloved sacred statue, which was stolen. Ting finds his long lost cousin from the village, Humlae (Perttary Wongkamlao), who at first claims to not know Ting until he sees that his village did not send him alone, but with a bag of cash to use as he sees necessary to get the statue head back. This is our first real look at Tony Jaa's talents, as the first chase scene begins after Humlae takes off with the bag on his motorcycle. Amazingly, Ting follows Humlae all the way to a pit fighter type of place where the real action begins.
Although the plot is pretty thin, it is more than made up for by Jaa's entertaining and seemingly impossible stunts. The movie plays up the stunts big, as it claims no stunt-men, no wires, no CGI, etc. With all that in mind, this movie is pretty mind boggling. Comparisons to Jackie Chan are going to be inevitable, and not undeserving. I can only imagine what the two of them could have accomplished if they did a movie together while Chan was younger. Simply amazing. 8/10
Transporter 2 (2005)
Felt Different Than The Original.
The Transporter 2 is about Frank (Jason Statham), a man who will transport anything, no questions asked. All he requires is that you stick to the deal and follow the rules, of which he is very strict with. In the sequel, Frank is transporting a young child named Jack Billings (Hunter Clary) to school and back on weekdays. That's right- Frank is babysitting. Nothing wrong with that, as it has little to do with the actual story once the movie gets going.
Due to an elaborate plan by the main villain, Gianni (Alessandro Gassman), and carried out by his ruthless girlfriend/sidekick, Lola (Katie Nauta), young Jack is kidnapped. Of course, Frank is the prime suspect by the police and is pursued from that point forward by the police.
After following the kidnappers orders and paying $5 million, Jack's parents retrieve him safe and sound and everything seems great. Without giving anything away, this is where the real problem begins.
Katie Nauta delivers a stand out performance in what I believe is her film debut. She has an awesome screen presence and would have liked to see her have a bigger part. She is exactly what Hollywood needs, in my opinion. Someone sexy, new and a little different. She reminds me of both Rebecca Romijn and Fairuza Balk.
Jason Statham is great, as usual. Easily the best part of this movie. Jason is England's answer to Jackie Chan. The fight scenes are a little more over the top than the original movie and the same goes for the car chase scenes. While the chase scenes were wild in the first one, it does not come close to the absurdity in the sequel. As seen in the preview, the car jumping scene is not very realistic. It looks like it belongs in XXX: State Of The Union. Don't get me wrong, I liked that movie and I like this one. A lot. I just wish it could have been more like the original. I would still recommend this movie and rate it 8/10.