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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Too few diamonds, too much rough, 9 June 2003

Charlie's Angels is a remake of the 70s series, buy beyond having three female characters in the role of "special detectives" that work for a guy named Charlie and a sidekick named Bosley, the resemblance seems to end there. But then, few modern movie rehashes are faithful, so I shan't harp on that point too much.

Let's start with the few good parts. The women are beautiful, naturally. Their characters are not as bad as you might think. I think Natalie (Diaz) and Dylan (Barrymore) have some depth to them, and I thought that the juxtaposition of Natalie's real life to her crimefighting life made for some interesting and humorous scenes. Alex (Liu) comes across as the weakest character.

The action scenes were intense, but it was here that I began to wrinkle my nose. The action scenes suffer from serious matrix envy. Right now, filming stop action sequences like this are all the rage, but resorting to every visually interesting special effects gimmick at the drop of a hat seem desperate and out of place in the film.

The main villain is, well, unconvincing and annoying, and display an over-the-top "hipper than thou" attitude that totally shatters any sense of fear or believability in the character. The adrenaline soundtrack and pop-culture references that pervade the movie means that the movie itself also bleeds the same hipper-than-thou attitude.

Finally, the movie features the desperately un-funny Tom Green desperately trying to be funny in his all-too-frequent appearances as "Chad."

In the final analysis, the film tries to be cute, hip, funny, and action packed, but all of those elements trip over one another in what is little more than an assault on the senses.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Smacks of classic Bond flicks, but is not one., 9 June 2003

Bond is a longtime favorite franchise of mine, and I have seen the franchise wax and wane. After the waning that was "The World is Not Enough", my hopes were high that Pierce Brosnan and the Bond film team could make a comeback and deliver the same sort of great movies we saw in Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies.

Alas, I was destined to be disappointed.

Die Another Day is filled to the gills with classic Bond-isms like vehicle-wrecking chase scenes, over the top villains, troublesome and willful femme fatales, space based superweapons, and not-so-secret bases. Unfortunately, the over the top villains lack the rub of the real of villains from many earlier Bond flick (following the tradition of tepid villains from the last film), the guest characters (and their relationship to Bond) are shallow and unconvincing, and the plot is not only unsurprising and simplistic, it resorts too readily to handwaving to conjure it's space based weapon.

In short, this movie has all the elements of classic Connery and Moore-era bond flicks, but is much less convincing.

The modern movie-making elements aren't that compelling, either. Action and chase scenes are okay but not exciting or tense, and special effects range for tepid to bad. The image of bond surfing on an iceberg-induced wave looked rather fake.

Cap that off with a plastic theme song and cameo appearance by Madonna and you have the makings of a movie that is better than The World is Not Enough, but only marginally.

Very different from other fantasy movies, 23 December 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am an avid fan of the fantasy genre. Like many such persons, I have read the Lord of the Rings before. That said, it has been some time since I have read it, and I did not go out of my way to read the books again before the movie came out. Why should be obvious: take a look at some of the more critical comments that have been written regarding this Film. They dwell on the finer points of the approach the adaptation takes, and fail to evaluate it as a movie. I would wager that even those vocal critics who don't hold the unrealistic notion that every little bit of the novel should be duplicated would differ on which points should be duplicated.


The movie begins with a glance at the history behind this story... the conflict with the dark lord Sauron. This was quite visually impressive, showing armies clashing on a dark landscape. You "get the point" of why the one ring the focus of the story when you see Sauron batting troops aside like they were flies.

The sets and terrain mock-ups on this movie were breathtaking. Many people have spoken of the elven cities and the dwarven mines, which I agree are awesome. I also found the fortress in Mordor rather inspiring.

Other effects in the movie--and their handling for emotional impact-- are also noteworthy. For example, the flame-demon "balrog" was pretty impressive. When he was falling, I saw the tendril of the whip dancing around. Everyone who was familiar with the book knew what happens next... and I was entranced waiting for it... waiting... I thinking that they paced that scene with those who have read the book in mind.

The cave troll that the fellowship encounters is also a visual treat, used well in a very tense fight scene.

I'm not sure if I like the way they did the ringwraiths or not. The ringwraiths let out an intense shriek every time that they came on screen. The shrieking was eerie. It was also irritating.

They way that they did Arwen (the elven woman who rescues Frodo from the ringwraiths) is actually quite a departure from the book... but I actually like the way that they did it. The way that she dispenses with the ringwraiths is visually stunning and is a nice portrayal of the power of elves in Middle-Earth.

One of the biggest effects accomplishments of the books is the portrayal of the different races. Of these, the hobbits and dwarves are the best done. By means of forced perspective and editing, they make full sized actors appear as these diminutive races.

On the other hand, I did not like the orcs. They just look like TV sci-fi show makeup jobs, like magog from the Andromeda TV-series. In contrast to how much attention they paid to making everything seem so real, it just stuck out like a sore thumb to me.

The other thing that I didn't like was the elves. Legolas and Elrond seemed like... well, men with pointy ears. But Galadriel seemed so ethereal. It struck me as a bit of a discontinuity. I think they should have tried to make them all a little more eccentric. I'm not sure how, but there you go. In the same note, I did not like the Galadriel/Frodo scene. It seemed so... curt. "Yes, yes, I am tempted!!! I would be a QUEEEEN! But no, I couldn't do that! Hey, I passed the test! It's off to the lands beyond for me..."

That said, I found the film emotionally intense and... just so real. It was sort of strange how *real* this felt. I was expecting some over-the-top gratuitous fantasy schlock, but it wasn't there. They only used what they needed to to get the feel across, and it paid off. I felt very immersed in the film.

The acting was good to excellent. The actors that I associate strongly with other roles (e.g., Sean Astin, who I will always see as the loser from Encino Man) acted well enough that they managed to escape that type-casting in my mind. Others, like Ian McKellen as Gandalf, fit their roles so well that it was never a concern.

Although I have stated a few nitpicks, overall the craftsmanship of this film is immense. I think Jackson chose the right details to exclude and nowhere did I see the same sort of excessive creative license that has marred so many other F/SF adaptations (Starship Troopers comes immediately to mind.) Visually stunning, entirely immersive, Fellowship of the Ring should hopefully set a new standard in the realm of fantasy movies, a genre that has been ill-treated by movie-makers in the past.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not too shabby, 10 October 2000

I've become used to disappointment when prime time puts out a sci-fi series. I'm glad to say this isn't one of them. Both plot and acting seem solid, and it isn't filled with patent silliness that is usual for prime time hacks at sci-fi.

Jessica Alba looks the part and does a good job acting. However, it seems like for an action show about a super-human, it could afford some more, and more spectacular, action scenes. I'm not sure if it's the choreography or if Miss Alba isn't athletic enough, but the action scenes seem a little tepid to me.

In general, the premise is a little like a sci-fi version of "Renegade", with an attractive female lead. They don't pull off the "gritty near future" feel too well, and could afford to take a few notes from Robocop or even The Running Man. It also seems a little low budget for something with James Cameron's name on it. As a minor quibble, the sound editing seems poor -- I have to turn it up to hear people talk, and even then sometimes can't hear over the sound effects.

All that said, it seems like it is going to be a good series, going for plot over eye candy.