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X-2 is one of the better sequels in town, and considering the strength of the first, that's saying something. It borrows the strengths of the first -- amazing visual effects, screenplay balanced between action and humor/character development -- and improves on them. Brian Cox (who I just saw on video in "Nuremburg") has to be one of the great villainous actors of today. He so practical and singleminded in his villainy that he is fun to watch. So many of his kind get boring to watch because they're always overacting. Alan Cumming was surprising as a superhero. I knew he was a good actor, but well, he really stole the show at times! I can't wait to see more of him. The rest of the gang, Brotherhood and X-men alike, were all outstanding, and better than the first movie. Mystique's taking initiative was especially fun to watch since we so rarely get to see a secondary character making a plan equal to one the big boys would think up. Hugh Jackman is brilliant as Wolverine. I agree with those who say he IS Wolverine. I appreciate that bit of eye candy for the ladies, and can see why so many of the female characters have a bit of a thing for him. He really is the consummate "bad boy." The guy we most need to thank for bring us these two hours + of pure entertainment is the one and only Bryan Singer. He's done a wonderful job of bringing the X-men to the big screen. (And though another comment mentioned that the trailer for Matrix made this film seem less in comparison, I also watched the trailer for Hulk...) **Thank you, Bryan Singer! Hope you stick around and can't wait to see what you come up with next!**
Well done film of a difficult theme
My first impression of this film was that it was excellently done. It provoked my curiosity and I am glad to say the film held up under my further investigation of the trials.
The accurate representation of the grayness of a subject most would consider black and white was particularly courageous. It would be easy to paint the Nazis as monsters without souls, but so often terrible things are done by perfectly ordinary people. In fact that is what is so terrible about people's actions in WWII. Malevolence would certainly be easier to accept than what this film shows was at the source of the Nazi behavior -- indifference and lack of empathy. Who hasn't felt indifference toward someone they met in everyday life, the cashier who was too slow, the person in the car ahead, the telemarketer?
The acting was excellent, particularly Brian Cox, who showed us how well charm can mask evil. I did not think Goering was white-washed. This was shown most clearly in his pathetic attempt to shrug off the concentration camp film. Even his manipulative skill couldn't ease that shock, and his American friend was silent. If Alex Baldwin pumped up his drama a little, well, take a look at transcripts of the trial, which are drier than the Sahara. The use of documents was extensive during the trial and how often does the layperson want to hear that? The use of the concentration camp film was a cold dash of water in the face of such dryness. Some other comments question the inclusion of the relationship between Jackson and his secretary. I didn't see it as a "love story", but more as an "adultery story" used to show on a more personal level that despite his side's claim to superior "morals" Jackson was also weak. I think the Soviet involvement and the Polish massacre was left out because it would have been too long to include in all its convolutions. It is an interesting part of the story, however, so I recommend researching it.
I was glad to see on the comments that those who know more than I pointed out its accuracy. Too rarely does Hollywood actually attempt that.
Series pulled out of a nose dive
I thought it was surprisingly good and much better than SW:E1. I really didn't expect much from the kid who played Anakin. He looked like a "pretty-boy" and I doubted I would like him much. But, surprise! I did. I empathize with him, anyway. I think the actor was well chosen. He was a perfect blend of boy and man. He did best when he was portraying the difficult emotions (love/hate/ambition) that will eventually turn him to the dark side. It bodes well for the third movie. His character was weakest when dealing with the other Jedi. I think being called me "my young padua" so many times would turn anyone to the dark side. No wonder he thinks Obi Wan is talking down to him. I was pretty impressed with the dynamics between Anakin and Padme. It seemed pretty authentic. I really believed Anakin's professions of love -- even that funny one about sand -- that one reminded me that he really is still partly a kid. The special effects were very sumptuous, and pretty darn cool, especially when used to describe the variety of life in that universe. The different life forms, the different architecture, and the different ship types were all fascinating to observe. So, that's what I liked about it. There were a few not so great points, however. I thought the battle scenes lacked coherency. It was like they strung together a bunch of explosions and flying lightsabers. When you can't follow individual fights within a battle, you can't identify with the combatants. It just goes to show bigger isn't always better. It made me miss the good ol' space battles from the original series. There you saw the face of the pilot as he ran from a tie-fighter, then was saved by a friend (or he was vaporized). I think the Jedi Council is acting really inconsistently. They know Anakin has a thing for Padme, but they keep on assigning him to spend time with her? Yoda "saw" that Anakin was having a traumatic experience, but there was no kind of councilling? I think the old saw about "the dark side is clouding their sight" (or whatever Count Dooku said) is a pretty feeble explanation. So much for the great and powerful Jedi. Lastly, I hope they explain the "Anakin will bring balance to the Force" or whatever the Prophecy is supposed to be. Anyway, overall I liked it a lot. I look forward to seeing Episode 3, especially since I know that they picked a good Anakin. Oh, as an aside, did you notice the variety of ethnic types they had represented in the actors? Besides good ol' white, there was a South-east Asian (Indian?) woman playing the new queen of Naboo, an East Asian woman playing the shapechanger bounty hunter, several black characters (in the Jedi Council and Padme's body guards), a Hispanic actor in the Senate who will (in the next movie) be Leia's guardian, and a New Zealand actor of mixed heritage playing Jenga Fett. Very cool! :)
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Almost all the senses were evoked in this film, even if it were only sometimes vicariously through the eyes. The emotions and relationships were touchingly real. The actor playing the father of the family was fantastic, though really all the acting was amazing. I really identified with the wedding planner, though he was so odd. He was a real dreamer. I left the theater happy, and we all need movies like that.
Just saw this film, so I'm in the grip of trying to process it... give me a minute... Great film, reminded me of The Usual Suspects in the way that you had little to rely on to distinguish lies from truth.
Sorry, I've got to do this, 'cause I just can't not say something. Some reviews poo-poo the film because they say the ending is too neat or too gimmicky or whatever. I ask, what exactly does the ending tell us? Do we believe the supposed "truth" just because it comes at the end of the movie? Consider the source -- a slimeball who has lied to the main character in every single scene -- why do *we* believe him? Some of what he says is substantiated (the photo of Leonard) but do we believe everything? I think the truth and lies are meshed together so tightly that we can't unravel them any better than Leonard can. The next question is, has Leonard painted himself into a corner so that he has to stop? After all, every single one of his notes now points to John G, bad cop. He has a photo proof of his deed. Teddy can no longer use him for his own ends. What will he do next?
I gave this film a slightly lower rating than I did The Usual Suspects because you can imagine that you know what happened here (not like U.S., where nearly everything is related second hand, so you never know). Also, the "gimmick" at the end of U.S. was better, in my opinion.
In summary, it was very very good. Pearce, as usual, did a stellar job. Pantoliano (sp?) also as usual did a great job playing the smarmy nice/not nice guy who lives (or dies) by lying. Moss did a great job, which upon reflection, becomes an excellent job -- after all, *we* believed her (as Leonard did). It takes a slick actor to **spoiler** believably switch from hating a guy's guts for killing her boyfriend to feeling sorry for him and helping him.
Thanks go out to the makers of "Memento" for making a film that makes you think. There are precious few out there.
Enemy at the Gates (2001)
Solid War Movie
What really "made" this movie was the authentic seeming atmosphere. No one was elegantly groomed except for those in positions of power. Dirt and blood and devastation abounded. Jude Law does an excellent job of acting without speaking much. Even he manages to look grubby most of the time -- and for someone who first saw him in 'Gattica' that seemed darn near impossible. I'm not a big fan of love triangles, but they managed to not mess up the movie with this one. Applause for all involved. I just thank my lucky stars that I was not born into that conflict myself -- I'd be one of the dead ones, I'm sure.
Cast Away (2000)
True to life
A very well crafted film. There were absolutely no shortcuts taken in the plot, something I admire greatly. Every response was true to the characters. The acting was superb. The crash was one of the most frightening scenes I have ever seen. Someone I talked to (who hadn't seen the film) said he heard that scene dragged on. I replied that I too had wanted it to end, but not because it was dragging, but because it was truly horrifying -- maybe that's what they meant. Great filmmaking.
I purposely avoided all reviews of this movie before I saw it, knowing that they would let something slip and give it away. So, I will describe the movie rather than tell the story. It builds solidly on the expectations evoked by Sixth Sense. If you accept the slightly fanciful premise (which I did, wholeheartedly) the movie is an intricate exploration of said premise. The layers and details make this an extremely rich film. The acting was excellent and the directing superb. Long live M. Night Shyamalan!
Men of Honor (2000)
Superb Acting and Inspiring
This film is a great example of fine storytelling. The acting is superb. The story is inspiring without being overly manipulative or fake. There were a couple points where they probably made people a tad more good or bad than they really were, but considering it is a Hollywood movie, they showed amazing restraint. There wasn't a single explosion shown in the movie, even though they had one opportunity to. The film, while having suspenseful parts, was not made into an action movie. The story is thus made to focus on an extraordinary man in unfortunately ordinary times. Well done!
Best action movie I've seen this summer
It's sad that a good plot in a summer action movie is a surprising event, but there it is. The ironclad and suspenseful plot and excellent writing in this movie won me over immediately. Bryan Singer deserves accolades for this great movie. Also making a strong showing was Hollywood newcomer, Hugh Jackman. I read or heard somewhere that he was chosen partly on the basis of his chemistry with Anna Panquin and I have to agree. The scenes between the two are extremely believable and very moving. Also, he did a perfect Wolverine. All parts of his acting were perfect, the sound of his breathing when he was under stress, his way of moving, the tone of his voice. Excellent. The movie also had just the right touch of humor (not too much, not too little). The action scenes were excellent, though I wish Ray Parks had more latitude for his particular physical talents. I understand why they didn't -- they were keeping with the character's abilities, but one scene reminded me so much of his Darth Maul, I actually felt like watching Phantom Menace again. Yikes! I admit I haven't seen Perfect Storm yet, but I have seen Gladiator, Patriot, and MI:2. X-men is by far the best action movie I've seen this summer.