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I Am Legend (2007)
"Legend" really separates itself from all other post-apocalyptic films.
Is it me, or does every movie that portrays the future, it's always some post-apocalyptic setting or the fall of man with man itself to blame? Not a lot to look forward to is it? Anyways, after years of being let down by so called scary zombie/virus movie genres and other blockbuster thriller debacles, "I Am Legend" really separates itself from the group.
Without giving too much way, Will Smith plays a sole survivor of a world dominating virus created by man that was originally created to cure cancer. Three years into the "new" world, Smith (who was a former doctor) dedicates his life to survival, finding a cure....and talking to mannequins. In order to find a cure he seeks out the infected, who only come out at night, and hoping to correct man's mistake.
"Legend" was the first truly scary movie I've seen in some time. Realism is the main factor in scary movies in my opinion. If it can happen, than that's pretty scary. Also, Smith's portrayal of despair and borderline insanity of three years of seclusion added to the effect. With the exception of his dog, Smith had no live contact with constant failure attempts of his cure only leading to his insanity. It had a "Cast Away" feel to it with his dog as to Hank's volleyball and his house reminding you of that stranded island.
The action/suspense scenes coupled with superb sound direction were also heart pounding and unexpected which added to the "scare" factor. Whenever Smith engaged with the zombie-like survivors, there was that claustrophobic feeling that I haven't felt since "Alien." My only real complaint was the overuse of CGI over real actors for these characters, but with their speed and strength that these things showed if may have not been possible.
"Legend" overall is one of the better movies of 2007 and a must see. Not Oscar-worthy by any stretch of the imagination, but it's certainly entertaining, realistically tense and maybe even thought provoking.
Citizen Kane (1941)
Too much of generational gap for many of us to enjoy.
It's kind of hard to call myself a lover of movies, or critic when I haven't seen what has heralded as one of the greatest film accomplishments of all-time. "Citizen Kane" was one of those movies that have slipped through my fingers as a kid and before you know it, you've never seen it but have only heard about it. In fact, usually you hear so much about some films, you have no motivation to see it. There are people out there (and we meet them all the time) that haven't seen the "The Godfather" yet, so situations like this do exist. So, after finally getting my hand on a copy of "Kane", I gave the film it's due attention.
A little overrated. Although this film belongs in IMDb's Top 250 and agree "Kane" should be considered a benchmark for movie directors, I had a tough time watching this movie. I can see how this movie was groundbreaking in 1941, as the characters (especially Kane himself), writing, acting, storyline and even the cinematography were ahead of its time. But, seeing this movie 60+ years later after its release was like taking a Model-T Ford out for Sunday drive. I literally had to force myself to watch this film, waiting and waiting for me to grasp it and I just couldn't do it.
I really don't think the problem is with the film itself, I think the problem is major generation gap and the fact that we have seen characters like Kane in other films and in real life. Older films like "Casablanca" and "Gone with the Wind" are extremely tough to watch when you get older, as your taste for movies is used to today's masterpieces. As mentioned before, Kane's persona was controversial at that time, maybe making him very intriguing and influential. It's hard to embrace this character when he have moguls like Donald Trump in our lives everyday or other films like "The Aviator" out there.
For me, for a film to be heralded "One of the Greatest American Films of All Time", is needs to stand the test of time. There needs to be a good balance of entertainment that's captivating at the same time. We shouldn't have to pay attention or scrutinize a film to get it. Films like "The Wizard of Oz" or "The Godfather" are these type of masterpieces. Who knows, after our generation, maybe know one will get the "The Matrix" or "Return of the King." Time will tell.
Death Sentence (2007)
Where's Charlie Bronson when you need him?
There's genre of movies that most movie goers just can't get enough of and that's vigilante movies. These can range from classics like "Death Wish" or to big budget ones like "The Punisher"; but I think viewers love watching heroes transform into villains, crossing the line between good and bad or judgment and revenge. Unfortunately, this film has hard time capturing this aspect.
"Death Sentence" is just one of those movies with a straight forward plot. Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) falls victim to watching his son being murdered in a gang initiation. After realizing the legal system would fail him, he took matters into his own hands as he hunts downs and kills his son's assailant. This incites and war between him, the gang with the rest of his family caught in the middle.
The main problem was the poor transformation of Bacon's character. It just wasn't there and I had a hard time taking him seriously. Bacon has played evil/bad characters before (i.e., "Sleepers") so it was more the writing than the acting. Bacon seemed frantic, out of control, inexperienced and just plain sloppy. Near the end of the movie, Hume had to read instruction manuals on how to load a double-barreled shotgun and a .45 caliber pistol while fumbling with his bullets, then 10 minutes later he was setting down gang members like dominos and reloading his weapon with amazing grace.
Also, the implausibility factor was out of control. The gang initiation killing took place at gas station in the most run down part of town (with no working CCTV cameras of course), as Hume stopped for gas immediately as his "low fuel" light comes on and after being nearly run off the road by two suspicious muscle cars. He could of easily drove another 10-15 miles to another well-lit and feasible gas station. That's probably nit-picking, but it doesn't stop you from scratching your head and thinking "What is this guy doing?" And of course, the local police were again taking a blind eye to the recent spike in violence. After Hume kills his son's assailant, the local detective doesn't even bother to question him even after she notices Hume with a bandaged hand. Not to mention that before Hume goes on his final killing spree, he escapes the hospital in a gown, goes back home and empties his back account. Were the police on strike that day? As mentioned before, it seems Hume never seems to know what he's doing or how to take care of himself until he needs to do so, prompting some pretty decent action sequences. Most of the scenes are well scripted and choreographed that actually pretty tense, which leads me to believe that was the true purpose of the film: to move along and get to the killing quickly as possible.
"Death Sentence" was somewhat disappointing within its genre, and probably more disappointing to the average movie goer. It just sped along too quick, failed on making Bacon a believable vigilante and the implausibilities and plot holes were too much of a distraction. I'd wait for it to show up at your local Wal-Mart's bargain bin before venturing out to this see this one.
Shrek the Third (2007)
NOT so Happy Ending.
In the barrage of trilogy ending blockbusters, I figured Shrek The Third was a sure bet. Same actors, same writers and for the most part same development team. Unfortunately, once again I felt ripped off and suckered into another media hyped sequel, still living off it's past success.
Shrek 3 continues where the second one left us, but this time the tragedy surrounds Shrek hesistance on possibly ruling "Far Far Away" after the King's death and inevitable fatherhood. Shrek, uncomfortable with the whole "King" thing, goes on a quest to search a better candidate by the name of Arthur (surprisingly voiced by Justin Timberlake.) Prince Charming, still irritated things didn't go his way the first time, rounds out up the other token villains seeks out to foil Shrek's plans and take over the kingdom.
I really hate criticizing this movie but there was so much missing. The writers that wrote the screenplay wrote Shrek 2...so what happened? The plot/story itself was completely unoriginal, unsuspenseful and just plain boring. Fiona's and the King's identities in the first two where nicely place twists...this one: nada. In fact the movie was completely predictable. You ALWAYS knew what was coming next.
Another thing that led to the fact that this movies stinks, is lack of humor. They almost took every single character on the previous installments and just ran them into the ground (see: Police Academy 6.)Annoying Donkey was annoying now and Puss in Boots' cute face trick wasn't cute anymore. Yes, the cross-dressing bartender has deep voice..got it. Yes, Pinnochio's nose grows when he tells lies...hah, got that too. With the exception of few Gingerbread Man moments (that were actually pretty funny), the jokes were either not funny to adults or to hard to understand for kids.
I seriously disappointed with this film. I feel either the writers got lazy with this one or maybe the well has just dried up and all good things come to an end. Wait for the box set.
If you loved or hated the previous installments, you'll feel the same about this one.
To be honest, I never really enjoyed Pirates 1 & 2 and never completed either movie as I had a terrible time keeping interest. For one, I have never been attracted to the "swashbuckling" genres. Secondly, for being a "swasbuckling" movie there wasn't enough action to keep me enthralled with too many plot twists and extended and hard to understand dialog moments. Regardless, I figured I 'd attempt to see the 3rd installment to see if I have been missing something. Once again, I feel the same but I'll try to keep my opinion as unbiased as possible.
The plot was just as confusing to me as the first two. This time Jack is rescued from the land of the dead, in attempt to gain his alliance to form a rebellion against Davey Jones and Beckett who is attempting to wipe out all Pirate Lords. I think.
Just like the prequels, I had trouble understanding what was happening, what needed to happen and what just happened. From something simple like how most of dialog is spoken in Old English, to the fact the movie uses artsy, obscure scenes to explain a plot portion. For example, the rescue attempt on Jack. I had no idea where Jack was, how the crew got there and how they left until after all was said and done. This has been my biggest problem with the entire trilogy. I realize the that director wanted to avoid clichés as most as possible and thought that this would increase the quality, but sometimes simplicity is just as good.
No knock on the acting or special effects here. Johnny Depp once again shows that why he's once of the greatest actors of our generations...he makes this film and without him this trilogy would not have survived. Knightly and company provide a nice supporting cast and even cover up Orlando Bloom's bumbling. And for the most part it's another visual masterpiece.
So basically, if you enjoyed or even understood the first two you'll enjoy this one as well. If your like me and don't find this series at all interesting...stay at home and wait for Pay-Per-View.
Lost in the mediocrity of other comic movies.
I'll admit it, I avoided this film like a George Clooney flick over the past two years on two accounts. 1] It was a soft sequel to Daredevil. 2] I was unaware of the Elektra's comic book history and did not know she was actually resurrected in the comics. I originally thought they brought her back for the purpose of the film. I was also a never been a big fan of the Alias series, but found to enjoy it sometime after it got canceled. To my surprise, Elektra was not THAT bad. After many failed attempts of converting several comic in to theater blockbuster, this one is...okay. That is, if you can somehow erase Daredevil from your memory banks.
Elektra takes place a few years after her death. Now resurrected, she's a hired assassin that pits herself against a terrorist/ninja organization known as the The Hand after she backs off an assignment. Amongst The Hand carries a few unique characters with some interesting powers...one which is able to conjure up beasts from the tattoos covering his body.
This film is nowhere close to Daredevil and should not even be uttered in the same sentence. The plot is a bit cliché similar to the Replacement Killers with a dash of Crouching Tiger, but it is simple and interesting enough to keep you entertained. The special effects looked pretty good and were not overdone. The fight/action scenes weren't too shabby either and weren't as much cheese as you expect from a comic movie...which may have been my only real complaint. I had a tough time rating this film higher than a 6 because I just felt bored. There were too many long dialog moments in the movie and fight scenes may have been too short.
After doing some more research, the film was actually pretty close to comic, which is a plus. In any case, it is worth a DVD rental if you haven't seen it yet. Fortunately with debacles like The Hulk, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four floating around, this one is slightly superior. This certainly a good movie to nuke some popcorn with.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
With the bar set so high, minor short comings were inevitable.
Finally I got to see a premier movie on a premier release date, couldn't pick a better time to throw in review for the commercially driven Spider-Man 3. Let me get this out of the way first: I do not collect comic books and it has been probably a good ten years since I've read one. Having said that, I have a pretty decent knowledge of the Spider-Man mythology and have enjoyed the series on video games and such. Going into Spider-Man 3, I was stoked and little worried at the same time, as sequels tend to water down the original pieces.
S3 brings back all the major characters from the first one and even adds a few more. This time around Peter Parker commits to Mary Jane but unfortunately she has trouble dealing with his alter ego. Peter also finds out Ben's real killer, a poverty driven criminal turned scientific accident freak named "Sandman." Harry Osborn, who has figured out Peter's secret, decides to dabble in his father's legacy and is set on burying a few axes. Finally, the popular villain "Venom" makes his present felt along with the entire transformation. All of this coupled with a few love triangles, flashbacks and side stories. A bit much for a two hour film? You betcha.
This was what I was kinda afraid of. Comic books are filled with thousands of characters and character history. Alterations to a character's history on film I can deal with, as sometimes it is unfeasible. For example, in the comics, Spider-Man finds the symbiote in outer space. In the movie, it crash lands on Earth. Perfectly fine. What I do have a problem with is the attempt to jam every single hero/villain know to man (complete with origin) as a series progresses. A tactic which killed the Batman series (ok, Joel Schumacher, Kilmer and Clooney had some input.) Daredevil had the same problem tossing in Kingpin, Bullseye AND Elektra in the initial movie. This also almost killed the X-Men series adding in useless characters based solely on comic fan requests as they went on, but I give this one a slight pass because the X-Men realm is based on multiple characters.
Without giving too much away, the constant flip-flopping of the several story lines became annoying. Peter & MJ, Peter & Harry, Harry & MJ, Eddie Brock & Gwen Stacy...on and on and on. There was even a possible sequel injection adding Dr. Connors for the third time. The first two films were perfect focusing only one hero and one villain, giving you time to soak in all aspects of the plot and the characters.
Regardless of my nitpicking, this is still a good movie and a serious must see in theater. I recommend seeing this in a quality theater as the sound effects and editing were superb putting you practically in the middle of every battle scene. Speakng of which, the CGI was amazing and character animation made Sandman amazing to watch and Venom just straight vicious. The acting and screenplay was also pretty good that will stir up a few tears and laughs between combat scenes. It is an action film, and the film is full of it. In fact, the ending may make feel a little empty as the ending comes nearly immediately after the final battle sequence.
Bottom line: Go see it, as the theater experience itself is fantastic. Unfortunately I do not like the where the series is headed, and this one slightly inferior to the previous movies.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Quality film that may lose interest to some audiences based on its poor marketing.
Like just about everyone else on this site, I went to this film with my hardcore cheezy horror flick buddy expecting another Japanese remake or another teen-scream job filled with cheap scare tactics and bad CGI featuring the usual creepy kid. Well, I got neither. Instead, the "Exorcism of Emily Rose" is more of a courtroom base drama, which tactically uses every single scary shot that are in the film in the trailers with the attempt to bring in a target audience, which may have disappointed some viewers.
As mentioned before "Rose", is really a courtroom drama that centers around the trial of Father Moore (Wilkinson) who is on trial for his role in the death of Emily Rose (Carpenter) defended by an agnostic lawyer, Erin Bruner, played pleasantly by Laura Linney. The death of Emily Rose is in question: was she possessed or was she suffering from severe psychosis and epilepsy? After all medical tactics and tests had been exhausted and unresolved, Father Moore is brought in to cure her of her possession which unfortunately takes a wrong turn. It's during this trial where you see both sides of the court as Emily's recollections are revisited and where the creepiness comes in.
Truthfully, I really wasn't disappointed with the fact that film was marketed incorrectly as I'm not really a big fan of horror flicks. I'm more annoyed with the fact that film, which was supposed to be based on a true story, was nothing close to what the actual story. The real case was set in Germany, involved 2 priests both which were on trial along with parents. Also, according to various information, the conference of German bishops agreed that she was NOT possessed. Quite an important piece of information since the film leaves it up the viewer to decides whether or not she was really possessed.
Not only I was not scared, since they wasted all the creepy parts in the trailers, I was completely bored. The movie starts in the courtroom and ends in the courtroom and its filled with every courtroom cliché known to man. Rude and abrasive prosecutor? Check. Charismatic and underdog defense lawyer? Check. Surprise evidence? Check. Key witness dying or disappearing? Check. Surprise verdict? Check. After awhile I though this movie was based on another John Grisham novel.
The acting was pretty good and dialog and the storyline is enough to keep you interested. The film also does a good job at reliving the events leading up to her death, shows both theories on what happened to her both with convincing tales. This is what really builds the film and holds it together. And, regardless of the tons of clichés, the film is still somewhat original with the rest of crap that's in the theater. Overall this is quality film that may lose some audiences due to the fact it isn't directed by Wes Craven and the acting is quite good. But, in the end I'd suggest Googling "Emily Rose" instead of watching the movie if you really want facts concerning her exorcism.
The Aviator (2004)
Quality movie, just don't operate heavy machinery after watching it.
I usually don't write too many reviews on Oscar caliber movie since I enjoy complaining more than anything else, but I had to cover a few points for some of the potential viewers that are contemplating whether or not to rent this movie or not. Although "The Aviator" is a good movie, but there are some serious long, dry, needless scenes that may make you forget the scenes you did like.
"Aviator" stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who is still trying to get respect in Hollywood, as Howard Hughes, a rich oil tycoon that suddenly decides to invest an obscene amount of money and time into movies, planes, women and bottled milk. The film is also filled to the brim with tons of Hollywood's finest, especially Kate Blanchet who perfectly plays Katherine Hepburn about as well Jamie Foxx played Ray Charles. Later on through the film you find out there is something more behind his perfectionism, as his OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is unrecognized by the American public.
The movie really starts off with a bang, capturing Hughes over budget movie "Hell's Angels", with some of the nicest cinematography I've seen in a long while. Without giving too much away, the film quickly takes a turn and levels off in the excitement section as you witness Hughes's OCD in full effect, practically driving him in to insanity. This is where the film gets long, and I mean long. Besides the fact the the film is close to 170 minutes, after about an hour into to the film the emotion and liveliness in the beginning is replaced by boring, frustrating dialog and context. Seriously, this film makes "Gods and Generals" look like "Die Hard", making me extremely sympathetic to the audiences that actually saw it in a theater who probably wished they went to an opera instead. In fact, the ending doesn't due Hughes or the film much justice either as it just closes with him going through one of his OCD fits.
With all the torturing boredom aside, "Aviator" is still a quality film film that was informative, contained remarkable acting on every part, exceptional cinematography that put's right in to the time frame of the movie. It's also once again another Oscar worthy performance by DiCaprio who still trying to get people to forgive for "Titanic" and his good looks. For the most part, I knew pretty much nothing about the Howard Hughes, and the film did it's job by reflecting Hughe's life. "Aviator" is not the best biography movies ever made, but it's pretty good and worth at least a rental.
Blade: Trinity (2004)
Failed to focus on what made the first two successful.
After holding out on watching this film due to the horrendous user ratings and comments, I finally picked this one up and watched with all the comments I read in the back of my mind. "Blade Trinity" isn't as terrible as I thought (basically I had "Daredevil in mind here), but its still an average action flick that had tons of potential and loses its focus in the franchise and doesn't even feel like the finale of trilogy.
"Trinity" takes place a few years later after the second one (I guess) with Blade and Whistler now at battle with media and local/federal police forces while handling their business with the vampires as well. The vampires meanwhile resurrect Dracula in hopes of him changing the tide of the on-going war with Blade and preserve their race. Later on Blade inherits a couple of new sidekicks in Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder) who plays Hannibal King and Jessica Biel who plays Abigail Whistler, Whistler's long lost daughter.
I had way too many personal dislikes in this movie that may be left open for interpretation, but they still hindered the movie and the opinions held by most of it's audience. Let me start with Dracula. One of the baddest characters in movie history was totally miscasted and misplayed by Dominic Purcell. He takes two forms really, one is his true creature form which can be seen in "Jeepers Creepers 1 & 2" and the second is his human form, in which he chooses to resemble a British soccer player that looks like he was Russell Crowe's stunt double in "Gladiator". Instead of Dracula looking elderly and powerful (like "Underworld" and most vampire films), Dracula instead trounces throughout the movie looking like an an extra from the movie "Snatch".
The director also decided to add a hint of comedy into the film by adding Ryan Reynolds to the film, with his character adding anecdotes every 30 seconds which are annoying, not funny and practically turned "Trinity" into an 80's action flick. Even though Blade himself was supposed to be annoyed by Reynold's comments it still didn't fit. And since I only have a 1,000 word limit here, I'll just wrap up the rest of the things that irked me: the Triple H's vampire Pomeranian, Parker Posey erratic acting, the two-time product placement of iPods and the out of control weapons to include Obi-Won Kenobi's light saber.
More importantly, the film never felt like a finale, which was supposed to end the whole trilogy. The film focused more on Dracula and Blade's pointless sidekicks than Blade himself. The ending is terrible because it displayed nothing and used Reynold's narration to explain what happened. The only reason why I even gave it a 5 was the occasional action sequences, musical score and a few added chase scenes. Although this movie isn't as bad as people said, it's still disappointing and could've been an excellent movie with better directing and a better cast.