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Vantage Point (2008)
Intriguing Premise, Horribly Executed
I like presidential assassination thrillers and I was very interested in seeing this one. I wanted to like Vantage Point, but I can't recommend it. The movie strains credulity to the maximum with no benefit to the viewer. The following are a few reasons to not attend: 1. Horrible dialog. 2. No character development or back-story explaining anyone's actions. 3. Totally ridiculous Secret Service actions (for example, a known threat to the President, would have led to immediate cancellation of the meeting, not using a double!). 4. A Secret Service agent who is a double agent who passes all background checks and polygraph exams for 10 years! Please. And there is no apparent motivation for helping the terrorists. 5. In a sea of cameras and video recorders, the one containing the "evidence" is conveniently spotted by the good agent. 6. Small compact cars that sustain collisions that would disable cars in a demolition derby. 7. A terrorist swerves to avoid a young girl after he has killed hundreds of people leading to a convenient conclusion. 8. "Rewinds" that are more annoying than enlightening. I started rooting for the terrorists after the 4th one!
There are many other reasons not to bother with this one. Just check out the message boards. If you want to see a great presidential assassination thriller, rent "In the Line of Fire" and avoid this turd. 5/10
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Your story has grown tiresome
As Dieter of Saturday Night Live would say, "Your story has grown tiresome". That is how I feel about the Spider-Man series. How many times do we have to see the damsel in distress (Kirsten Dunst)? And as for Ms. Dunst, she has the unique ability to annoy both on and off the screen. On screen, I have never found her that attractive and there is just some thing about her that rubs me the wrong way. When her character was in danger of plummeting to a painful death, I kept hoping that she would. No such luck. Many other folks feel the same way. As for off screen, when she was interviewed about the potential for a Spider-Man 4, she said, "well, no one will come to see another one with out me and Tobey". Guess again, Kirsten, 76% of those polled could care less if you reappeared! Now, as to the movie itself, about 20-30 minutes would have been better left on the cutting room floor. No one cares about Kirsten's performance in some stupid musical (in fact, I kept trying to find the "fast forward" button on my seat). And Tobey's performance as "the bad" Spider-Man was torturous and unfunny (Tom Welling makes a much better "bad" super hero when he is affected by red Kryptonite).
As for the plot, it meanders around a lot before getting to some impressive special effects. I particularly liked the Sandman, despite the obvious logical problems (such as why is the sand solid one minute and then porous the nextbut hey, it is based on a comic book!). The Green Goblin II was pretty cool too. The other villain is somewhat of a surprise so I won't spoil it by revealing the identity of the last villain. My only problem with the villains is the writer's insistence on making them have a tragic back story that makes some of their villainy forgivable (they already did the same with Green Goblin I and Doc Ock). How about making the villain just be evil for evil's sake? So, to sum up my review, the movie is probably worth seeing on the big screen for the special effects and not much else. 6/10
Peaceful Warrior (2006)
At least the tickets were free!
I decided to take Best Buy up on their free ticket offer and accepted tickets from them. After viewing this weak imitation of the Karate Kid, I can understand why they had to PAY people to see it. I should have known I was in trouble when the theater didn't turn the lights down all the way. I thought that it was just an incompetent projectionist but after thinking about it I now know the real reason that they left the lights on: to keep people awake! Except for the times that Scott Mechlowicz's character was interacting with Nick Nolte, I was bored to tears. Nolte did his best with sophomoric platitudes like "take out the trash in your mind" and other such homilies. But the dialog between Scott Mechlowicz's and his teammates was stilted and unrealistic. I can't remember their exact lines but do I remember remarking to my friend "this dialog is really lame, isn't it?" And she agreed! As for the plot, it meandered all over the place before coming to a predictable, if somewhat rushed conclusion. And after the movie was over, I somewhat loudly remarked that the director should stick to horror films (Salva directed Jeepers Creepers)! Others in the crowd voiced their approval. So, to sum up, if this movie wasn't free, I would be asking for my money back!
A History of Violence (2005)
Not that good, certainly not a 10, but not a 1
It wasn't that good; certainly not a 10 but certainly not a 1, like some people rated it. I would give it a 5. It had an intriguing premise and pretty good cast (Viggo, Ed Harris, Maria Bello), but the plot leaves a lot to be desired. Without giving too much away here is it what made me the angriest:
1. Vague reasons for Viggo being where and who he is. 2. People are killed in a major shoot out with no investigation by the state police or FBI the only police presence is the town's moronic sheriff (who wears a STRAW hat!) 3. Bad guys that can't shot straight. 4. Stupid sub-plot with Viggo's son that borders on the ridiculous. I am sure that the OC or One Tree Hill (or whatever the current teen TV show is) has had a better plot than is allotted to this character's sub-plot. Come on; was it really necessary to waste time on the "silent, sensitive" type taking on the school bully? And they get into a fight at a softball game! 5. The girl that plays Viggo's daughter appears to have ridden the "little" bus to school before making this movie! 6. One strange scene that borders on justifying marital rape.
Things that I like:
1. Ed Harris is terrific, as usual. 2. The café shoot out is fairly well done. 3. That's about all good I can say about this one. Maybe I should lower my grade to a 3!
This is an excellent biography (via interviews and reenactments) of the life of T.E. Lawrence, focusing, of course, on his time in the Middle East during WWI. It shows how he helped the Arabs overthrow the Turks, only to be replaced with new masters, the English and the French. The resentments that the Arabs feel today towards the West is explained by the betrayals of the British (the Balfour Declaration) and the greediness of the French (the Syrian land-grab). Lawrence, himself, takes more of the blame upon himself than he deserves (the Arabs actually forgive and understand him more than he does). In other words, a very good real documentary, not the polemics foisted upon us today by a certain fat man. 9/10
Taking Lives (2004)
Routine Crime Thriller
At least IMDB users have the sense to rate this move 6/10. Credits like Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert are babbling on about this movie be "absorbing", "well done", and other undue praise. Did they see the same movie as the rest of us? After a promising start, the movie quickly goes off the rails and degenerates into boredom. And as for the "shocking" conclusion, maybe I'm a bit jaded, but I guessed the "real killer's" identity from the beginning. This movie is certainly not worth full price, maybe a matinee price or better yet wait for cable on a rainy day! 5/10
The Order (2003)
I missed this one at the theaters since it disappeared so fast. After renting it, it is easy to see why it flopped--it is a disordered mess! Let's tick off the problems: indifferent acting, ludicrous plot, choppy editing and incompetent direction. Many viewers have detailed problems with this movie including the scene where Heath Ledger fights off 2 demons and then shrugs it off as nothing special! That gives you some idea of how stupid this movie is. To sum up: no chills, no story, don't bother! 4/10
Entertaining -- ignore the critics
I rented this movie not expecting much, given the critical thrashing it received when it opened at the box office. I was surprised to watch a decent science fiction/horror story that works on most levels. While certainly not the best adaptation of Stephen King novel, it is certainly not the worst. Having read the book, I guess it helped to understand what was going on but I think even if you haven't read the novel I think you will be entertained. One quibble: having Jones's character slip into a British accent to represent Mr. Gray why not use the `memory warehouse' as effectively as King did in the book? And Mr. Gray's ultimate motive seems ridiculous given the alien's capabilities (but that was the fault of the book's author, not the screenwriter). In any event, I would recommend this movie to any horror fan and would ignore the critics on this one. 7/10.
The Last Samurai (2003)
Good, unfortunately not great
The Last Samurai is good movie, unfortunately, not the great one it almost was. Beautifully filmed and well acted by Cruise and especially Ken Watanabe as Katsumoto (to me, the most interesting and complex characters in quite a while at the movies). The movie kept me involved and interested to almost the very end. At therein lies the problem-the ending. Did the director succumb to pressure to insert a sappy, schmaltzy ending into an otherwise great motion picture? (Warning: possible Spoiler ahead) Why have a main character unbelievably stay alive when he should have died? I would hope that is what the director intended and I am interested in seeing the alternate ending(s) on the DVD. I would definitely recommend the movie but have to take my rating down by 2 points because of the ending. 8/10
Not that bad
Timeline is not a great movie, but not as terrible as the critics would have you believe. True, it is not completely faithful to the book, but what movie is? Timeline has enough action and adventure to make up for the plot holes and casting mistakes-Billy Connolly as an archeology professor, please! And Paul Walker as his son? Yeah, right! However, Gerard Butler as Marek and Anna Friel both do a credible job with the script, such as it is. Bottom line, an enjoyable action movie for those not expecting a masterpiece. 6/10.