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Peter Pan (2003)
Very good movie for Xmas...
Saw the movie yesterday on it's first day of release in Australia. It was a very, very good Xmas release, I'd probably give it an 8/10. I heard the acting wasn't good, but I totally disagree, everyone was good and charming in their roles. Without spoiling anything (although most people already know how Peter Pan plays out), the movie had a good mix of emotional moments and nice music, the sort that doesn't bring you to tears, but does have you holding them back a little. Jeremy Sumpter was excellent and visually impressive as Peter. He stood out in several ways (great facial expressions for example), one being that he was the only actor in the entire movie with an American accent, which was strange. He made you remember what it was like to be a mischievous child, and really shone. He should have a very bright future, and hopefully won't fade out like many child actors do. Rachel Hurd-Wood was very impressive as Wendy too. The movie did disappoint in a couple of areas. Primarily, we didn't really get to see the true "wonder" of Neverland. Much of the movie was shot at night time, which confused me as it's supposed to be a vibrant type flick (which it was, just not as much as I expected). Also, I found Tinkerbell to be quite irritating. Hook was very well done though. The cinematography and soundtrack were both awesome... but again, it was almost like their budget ran out and they couldn't show all of Neverland, I felt like something was missing. But overall, very enjoyable and nice movie. I hope it doesn't get overshadowed by Return of the King's release, because it deserves to do very well. By the way, I'm 21 and never get tired of "children's movies" like this and "Finding Nemo"... and especially Hayao Miyazaki's anime movies.
Hotaru no haka (1988)
- Grave of the Fireflies: 9.5/10
One of the most tragic stories ever, and in anime form! The story of a boy and his young sister trying to survive during Japan in second World War, with their parents gone and air raids constant. Brutally honest, tragic, sometimes disturbing, but beautiful and a reminder of the horrors of war. Supposedly based on a true story, which makes it even more mouth-opening.
Mou gaan dou (2002)
One of the better cop movies
- Infernal Affairs: 9/10
A brilliant cop movie out of Hong Kong, with a sublime plot and great acting by the two leads Andy Lau and Tony Leung (an indescribably great actor). An amazing concept with Lau as an undercover Triad member in the police force and Leung as an undercover cop in the Triad... which leads to many interesting situations. Great stuff, and the DVD even has the alternative ending (which isn't nearly as good as the main one).
- Il Mare: 10/10
The perfect love story, not too soppy and never boring because of another incredible concept out of Asian cinema. This time, a man and woman are exchanging letters, one in 1997 and one in 1999. Sound good? Oh yes. This is just incredible, a perfect, beautiful, memorable movie with great attention to detail and some exquisite cinematography. One of the best films ever.
Entertaining and not bad
- Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life: 7/10
I really enjoyed TR2, even though the reviews have been largely negative. Angelina Jolie is just great as Lara Croft, and the movie was really interesting and fast paced. The ending was kind of flat though, subtracting half a point from my rating.
Bad Boys II (2003)
- Bad Boys 2: 6.5/10
This was definitely better than the original, which I found really boring. Smith has improved as an actor since then, although is still not great, and Lawrence, while still one dimensional, was more eccentric in this. This is about 2 1/2 hours of extreme violence and mean spirited humour. Like, I didn't get offended by anything as I'm not easily offended, but I still didn't find a lot of the supposed humour funny, such as corpses falling out of vans and being decapitated by moving cars, or a 15-year-old boy with a gun to his head for dating Burnett's daughter. However, the movie moved fast and was usually entertaining, with lots of explosions and shoot-outs to keep you interested. The action scenes were sublime, very well shot and produced. A movie of this sort doesn't really need to be 2 1/2 hours, but this wasn't boring or anything. I'd recommend it to people of mature age, but DO NOT let kids near it.
- Musa The Warrior: 8.5/10
This movie had a budget of some US$60 million, which is huge for Asia. They made good use of that figure, with sometimes disturbing, but very well done fight scenes and in general, beautiful cinematography. This movie is a journey from start to finish. For all 2 1/4 or so hours, the group is journeying, and survives much longer than they expect. The characters were tremendously developed. Even peasants getting killed made you sad, because he or she had been given some screen time and you got to know them somewhat. Later on, it's an emotional rollercoaster, as familiar faces start to go down en masse in one final, epic battle. The movie had an "Asian western" theme, as it was largely set in desert/barren regions, but I never felt the scenery was repetitive, which is a credit to director Sung-su Kim and his team. Highly recommended Asian cinema excellence!
28 Days Later... (2002)
A zombie classic
- 28 Days Later: 8/10
This was one innovative movie. Made in England, this documents a sort of post-apocolypse nation after a virus that turns people into virtual savage animals or zombies breaks out. The country is largely evacuated, but one man wakes up in hospital. We then get one of the most "WOW" scenes in cinema history, when he walks around an EMPTY London. DEAD silence, the sort you can never really hear. He basically tours the city and it's sights... and then runs into the first zombie. And boy, does the movie get creepy after that. He hooks up with some fellow survivors, and the attempt to not eradicate the virus, but to not catch it, begins. Surreal moment of the movie for me was, from a distance (as they didn't go there), seeing my city of birth and upbringing, Manchester, in flames. The acting isn't really great, but the concept and whole intrigue of the plot really compensates for any shortcomings in that department. Not as much fighting as I expected, but never boring. This is definitely the first true "zombie" classic of the 21st century, and worth seeing AT LEAST once.
- Hana-bi: 7.5/10
Takeshi Kitano is one talented man. Not only is he a great actor, but also an excellent director. Hana-bi is one of his more praised pieces of work. "Detective Nishi (Kitano) is bitter when he learns that his wife Miyuki is terminally ill and his partner Horibe was shot and now tied to a wheelchair. Horibe wants to become a painter, but doesn't have money for that. To help him and a young police widow whose husband was shot dead during an arrest, he borrows money from yakuza. After that he buys an old car, paints it as a police car, and, dressed in uniform, singlehandedly robs a bank. With the money he goes on a final farewell journey together with his wife". I had one big problem with this movie. The concept was built around Kitano's relationships with his wife and best friend, yet they were hardly played up. His wife spoke about five words in the movie, and there was very little interaction between Kitano and his friend. I think this may be a movie that requires repeated viewing to really understand though. Kitano's acting is great as always, with his facial expressions saying so much to the viewer. The movie also features some of Kitano's famous bursts of violences, which are always a sight to behold. The flashback one that we saw several times throughout the movie was amazing. Unless I'm missing something that I'll pick up next time I watch the movie, this wasn't Kitano's best, but was certainly very good.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: 8/10
I went to watch this movie earlier, having heard all the hype. I was very doubtful that I'd like this, as Disney made it. Boy, was I surprised. This was definitely one of the superior "epic" movies of the last few years. Not only was the storyline entertaining and never boring, but the cast was just awesome. Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Geoffrey Rush were terrific in their roles, and the supporting cast was really good. Johnny Depp deserves special mention. What an actor! He brought the role of Jack Sparrow to life with such a majestic performance. Now for my one complaint of the movie, and one that I expected, given that it was Disney. Way too many out-of-character/setting one liners/jokes/tension-breakers... whatever you want to call them, every modern day American movie seems to have them. There were little flaws too that can be easily overlooked, like one of the cursed pirates using the term "spitting image", which can't be more than 30 years old (and this movie is set in the days of pirates). No more complaining though, this was a wonderful, vibrant movie that everyone of any age should see. The special FX were awesome too, and I loved the main theme from the soundtrack. Depp deserves an Oscar for his role, and should be the most pursued actor in Hollywood now.