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The only reason I even bothered with this, even though I knew that I wouldn't like it, is Jennifer Garner, whom I think is totally, totally, totally hot. Too bad for her: she deserved a much better script.
Elektra has its share of gripping moments, but on the whole, it was awfully silly. First of all - and this really irks me - they shamefully got a Korean actor to play a Japanese. How many times must Hollywood commit this kind of stupidity before they realise that the different Asian race aren't substitutes for each other? (Admittedly, the Korean actor is hot, but that is not the point.) Secondly, Elektra boasted some of the worst special effects I've ever seen; they looked like something out of a computer game or a low-budget, locally-produced gongfu television series. The constant usage of slow motion went heavily into overkill territory, such that some of such moments became so cheesy that they completely lost their credibility and the semblance to depth and meaning the film-makers were obviously aiming for (an example would be the fight scene between Elektra and the pseudo-Japanese dude with the sword).
Thirdly, the plot, or what was supposed to be the plot. I'll just say this plainly: What the hell was that? The ending left much to be desired; not only was it extremely anti-climatic and "that's it?"-inducing, it was also blatantly obvious that the people behind it were already gearing themselves up for a sequel. Questions which you'd expect the movie to answer upon its conclusion were hardly dealt with, hence cheating the audience out of a holistic cinematic experience. Save for Elektra, there was also a grave lack of character development. The only reason I cared about Mark whateverhisnameis was because it's Goran Visnjic, who is deliciously gorgeous; other than that, I couldn't care any less about the other characters.
The plus points: Elektra was halfway understood and Jennifer Garner portrayed her nuances with tremendous efficacy. And then there's Goran Visnjic, who is - have I mentioned this? - deliciously gorgeous; hence, it's too bad that he had such little screen time. I believe I would have enjoyed the movie a lot more if there was more of him. In addition, Elektra was marginally better than Daredevil, which was the most boring and pointless action movie I've seen in quite a while. And one last plus point: Elektra did not have the insufferable Ben Affleck. That's a cause for cheer and celebration, whatever the occasion.
See this only if you like Jennifer Garner and Goran Visnjic.
Meet the Fockers (2004)
Meet the Parents was good; I liked the De Niro/Stiller combination, and it made me laugh. Unfortunately, the sequel was boring. The only thing that saved it from the trash bin was the impeccable casting, ie. Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand. The chemistry between the pair was very palpable and they were a joy to watch. Scenes between Hoffman and De Niro were rather entertaining too, and they induced a few laughs in me.
Still, the movie's strategy of recycling tried-and-tested sex jokes ultimately failed it in my opinion. It got to a point where it became so predictable that it descended into the fiery depths of banality. Meet the Fockers is a great piece of evidence that illustrates the vast difference between American comedies and British comedies; just compare this to, say, Love Actually, and you'd get my point. Perhaps Meet the Fockers will score with people who don't really like to think, but its low-brow, un-intelligent brand of toilet and sexual humour is something I've seen so many times already that it failed to hold my interest for a significant period of time.
In short, a waste of talent and money. The original is so much better.
Cham chau Chou Chieh Lun (2003)
A poor excuse for a movie.
I can honestly say that this 'movie' was one of the worst I've ever seen, and this is coming from a rabid Jay Chou fan who is convinced that she is his long-lost soul mate. The only good thing about this movie is those three sacred minutes during which Jay Chou finally made his long-awaited cameo appearance, as well as the expectedly beautiful songs that he penned. The rest of the movie was, quite frankly, a waste of film whose sole purpose was to prolong the agony of Jay Chou fans in the theatre waiting for their idol to appear (and when he did, some members of the audience actually screamed).
The movie was excruciatingly pretentious, shamelessly plot less, and obviously trying to cash in on Jay Chou's fame, considering how he's THE biggest song-writer/singer in Asia. This soundtrack-of-life dribble takes pointless meanders into places whose purposes were never really quite uncovered, but you really cease to care after thirty minutes into the movie, all thanks to Po Po's terrible acting. Obviously marketed as the next Faye Wong (excuse me while I puke), she went for acting cute a la typical Chinese pop stars with sweet faces but bland voices and hence, you never quite take her seriously either. The oddball characters that showed up were more annoying than intriguing, and they served no real purpose in and to the plot, except to fill up the ninety minutes, perhaps.
But the worst crime that Hidden Track committed was that it didn't even attempt to be entertaining. I lost track of how many times I checked my watch and I fidgeted throughout the movie. It was flat, it was dull, and it was an absolute bore. The only moments during which I perked up were when Jay Chou's songs were playing in the background. It's pretty obvious that the people behind this non-film were aiming for an avant garde, deep and philosophical film, but sadly, they never had material that was credible enough to come remotely close to their target. The script - a primary school kid can write something like that, and the movie is so all-over-the-place that its point is lost in all the turns that the female protagonist took in search of that rare (and non-existent in real life) Jay Chou album with the hidden track in it. Clearly, what is obviously missing from this poor excuse for a movie is a story worthwhile enough to sit through while waiting for Jay Chou to appear.
Strictly for Jay Chou fans. I may have hated the first 87 minutes, but I definitely enjoyed and loved the last three. Long live Jay Chou and his brilliant songs.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
I didn't get it
(Possible spoilers ahead)
Maybe there was nothing to 'get', but I didn't get it anyway. 'Revolutions' made close to no sense to me, partly because I forgot what 'Reloaded' was all about, and also partly because I was too busy laughing at the movie to attempt to follow the plot. Granted, the movie was better than I'd expected, but then again, I didn't expect much, if anything at all, in the first place. 'Reloaded' left me very, very cold and angry, and thus I thought 'Revolutions' wouldn't be much different. While the last installment is a lot better than the second, I still contend that this is a 'trilogy' that should've never be.
First of all, I don't think there was even a plot to follow. Ask me for the story and I couldn't tell it to you. Thanks to its two sequels, 'The Matrix', to me, is merely a 'trilogy' of visually-spectacular effects, bad acting and a whole mess of pretentiousness that I would like to have done without, thank you very much. The first movie was fantastic, the second total nonsense, the third a continuation of 'total nonsense' and since I've already forgotten what 'total nonsense' is all about and wasn't keen on sitting through 'total nonsense' again, I was clueless about 'Revolutions''s plot right from the beginning.
Still, any intelligent person would glean from the first few minutes that Neo is going to save the world. Or something. I didn't know what he was doing half the time, and frankly, Keanu Reeves is such a wonderful actor that he makes me NOT want to even ATTEMPT to care, sarcasm fully intended. There were a few intriguing scenes in the movie, especially the whole thing about the train, but the film-makers' solution to that problem, for lack of a better word, felt as though it was resolved too quickly. And thus, whatever interest it managed to arouse in me also quickly dissipated along with the dismissed idea that the annoying Oracle was going to lose her eyeballs (THAT would've been something!).
This movie also produced one of the most drawn-out, melodramatic and downright silly death scenes ever. Just how long did Trinity take to die, anyway? And I thought I'd seen enough of those in cheesy and horribly-dubbed Hong Kong flicks. I lost track of the number of times I started laughing, only to be silenced by annoyed members of the audience, but who could blame me? It was funny!
One thing I did like about the movie: The battle scene in Zion or whatever. It was exciting, although awfully predictable (we all know that the commander or whoever was going to die. Like, duh). This time round, the effects didn't make me laugh as much as I did during the previous movie, and that part with the water droplets was breath-taking.
That's about all the good things I can say about the movie. It was mildly entertaining, both intentionally and otherwise, but on the whole, it was also very silly. Keanu Reeves, in addition, is hardly a convincing superhero, so I was glad that he was left out in half the movie.
And can I just add that I did not get the ending? I went to see this movie to know how it all ends but I ended up not knowing anyway.
Somehow, I'm not surprised at all.
8 Mile (2002)
I didn't think that '8 Mile' was going to be great. Eminem doesn't impress me, and neither does his sad life story. In fact, I couldn't care less. I went to this movie because my mate likes Eminem and she dragged me into it. Fine. I did, however, expect to be entertained, since that's about all that Eminem does. Unfortunately, I spent the entire movie waiting for something to happen, but of course, nothing really did. The climax didn't feel like a climax (didn't even know it was a climax until the movie ended) and maybe it was the direction or the script, but I couldn't get into the movie at all. There wasn't a single moment in which I felt like I was part of the story; in the entire time, the movie remained a movie, and I remained very, very detached.
Eminem's acting was surprisingly good. He has incredibly expressive eyes and he used it to his full advantage. Brittany Murphy was wasted, and I can't remember who else appeared but they obviously didn't make an impact. The rap scenes (yeah, whatever) didn't do much for me either. Sure, I don't like rap, but I did expect them to be more exciting than... that.
Like I said, I kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing ever did. The script felt way too disjointed and disconnected. The only thing that I took away from the movie was that Eminem can kind of act.
In short, '8 Mile' is horribly overrated.
How to Deal (2003)
How could Sarah Dessen have possibly endorsed this?
(may contain spoilers)
When somebody tries to merge two equally powerful books into one 90-minute film, somebody is being utterly stupid. "How To Deal" - based on Sarah Dessen's "That Summer" and "Someone Like You" - did not have the poignancy, the excitement and the empathy of the novels that it was supposed to bring to life. The movie left out so many important scenes and metaphors in both books that ultimately, the finished product has missed the point.
"How To Deal" is basically just another typical teenage flick that tries to justify its redundancy and its wastage of celluloid by appearing to be "important". Want an important teen flick? Try "crazy/beautiful" instead. The issues that "How To Deal" tries to deal with - teen pregnancy, pre-marital sex, divorces and the effects it has on children, teenage romance, teenage cynicism, teenage drinking, etc - unfortunately fell flat, because it refuses to beat of the teen flick template that it has imposed on itself by default. My impression of Scarlett Thomas was definitely NOT an annoying, oversexed teenager who doesn't know how to take care of herself and who whines with unsympathetic pathos whenever her boyfriend is not by her side. Dessen's character is supposed to be a mature adolescent, grappling with her boyfriend's death and her unexpected pregnancy, sometimes fumbling, but nevertheless maturing into an adult. In the movie she was just plain irritating. Her pregnancy was supposed to be a main focus of the plot but the script chose to chuck it aside and bring it up as a space-filler instead. I'm sorry, but this is just really stupid. Why bring in such an important issue if you're not bothered to really, truly deal with it? And we still wonder why annoying pro-lifers are screaming their lungs out to ban abortion.
In short, this movie tries to pack too much into too little time so that the end product is one disorganised mess. Some characters should never have been included at all as they seem to serve absolutely no purpose. Michael died and nobody cared, and why did nobody care? Because so little was known of him. In the book Dessen created empathy by relating the story of how he and Scarlett got together, and I think it spanned a few chapters. In the movie all of it was axed. If it weren't for the fact that this movie (was supposed to be) based on Dessen's books, I would never, ever have seen it.
On a brighter note, Mandy Moore did a pretty good job, though her acting is still pretty raw.
And that's about the only positive thing I can say about the movie.
Go read the books. They're so much better and more meaningful.
Final Destination (2000)
Silly and unintentionally hilarious
When this movie was screened at a movie marathon held in my school I laughed out loud, garnering me a few weird stares from my fellow schoolmates, who were actually pretty terrified by the nonsense that was going on on-screen. I laughed for that reason too, but more importantly, I found this movie extremely hilarious.
Perhaps it is my sadistic sense of humour, I don't know, but it's funny how the producers of this stupid, brainless "horror" movie could think of such creative ways to kill off their irritating characters whom nobody really care about. A good example would be the death of the teacher, whatever her name is. That scene nearly killed me, pun fully intended, especially when she needed help to actually get herself totally killed.
"Final Destination" had a great premise. It just had an extremely lousy and predictable execution. What could've been a truly terrifying movie about the inevitability of death and the suffering one goes through living with that knowledge became a rehashed, one-dimensional joke of a movie that had elements of previously and equally bad slasher movies in it. Its greatest flaw was its cardboard cut-out characters. With the exception of Devon Sawa and Ali Larter, the cast looked like they were picked from unwanted extras who failed to make it to the latest teenage flick. The characters irritated the living bejesus out of me because they were whining so much that I just wanted them to get killed already and put me out of my agony of watching such stupidity. The jock was predictably cocky, his girlfriend predictably bitchy, and the rest of them? Don't even remember.
The only good part about the movie is Devon Sawa and Ali Larter. Sawa is a good actor whose talent was wasted on playing a silly character, while Larter, whom I've never seen before prior to this, was surprisingly convincing as Clear Rivers ("Clear"? What kind of a name is CLEAR?!). She was pleasantly understated and provided a nice break from Alex's perpetual high-strungness, so to speak. The chemistry between them also helped to make the love angle that just HAD to be present a tad less sickening.
Still, it was obvious that this movie existed for no reason other than to rake in the cash at the box office, which should explain the extreme gore factor. Somebody should tell the producers that sometimes, the thing that scares most is not what one can see, but what one cannot see. Our imagination is a powerful tool. They should learn to make use of it.
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Shames the original
"The Matrix" was a brilliant film that was almost prophetic of the future in its message to viewers around the world. I could draw parallels between it and Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel set in the near future, "Brave New World." In my book, a film that can be compared to a novel, a great novel, is a film worth watching. "The Matrix", the original, was such a film.
Unfortunately, "Reloaded" isn't. Not even close. First of all, I don't see any elements in the first movie that actually garners it a sequel, one that isn't only unnecessary but also undermines the impact of the first movie. Second of all, "Reloaded" was - gasp - painfully and utterly boring. I slept through the first half of the movie and was only kept awake during the second half because I decided to keep myself awake by chewing on a Mentos.
"Reloaded" was pointless and pretentious in its futile efforts to pass off as an intellectual action movie. Somebody should've told the film-makers that such a formula hardly ever works, and when it does the first time round, they should be counting their blessings and be happy with the state of pinkish health their bank accounts are in. While its predecessor managed to mix quality action sequences with thought-provoking philosophical truths, "Reloaded" fell flat in that aspect. Its action scenes, for one, were too incredible, the special effects so overdone that they appeared fake. And the philosophy part? It was a noble attempt on the film-makers' part, I will admit, but unfortunately, whatever they were trying to convey got horribly lost in the mess of flying bodies and constant sprays of bullets that nobody could actually get what they were trying to put across in the end. One scene featuring some holy person spewing some philosophical gibberish that lasted for about fifteen minutes out of the two-hours-and-something-minutes of the film cannot possibly be powerful enough. After two hours' worth of an assault of the sense of sight which was also practically a lullaby for the brains, one simply cannot really bother to figure out what that man in the TV room was saying to Neo. Personally, I didn't even care.
The plot was also a problem. The love angle between Trinity and Neo was redundant and boring, and the lack of chemistry between Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Fisher didn't help matters much either. It was too overplayed and the time they spent kissing on screen could've been saved for bored members of the audience like me to do more productive things. The mass orgy/whatever scene at Zion was, too, an incredible waste of celluloid and screen time. It served no other purpose, it seemed, other than to please stereotypical male members of the audience. And the rest of the plot... wait, plot? What plot? I highly doubt a plot existed in the first place.
In addition, Keanu Reeves becoming Superman only made me laugh out loud and his usual bland as plain water acting only added to the hilarity of it all. Reeves is a bad actor through and through, but he somehow managed to overcome that intriguing handicap in the first movie. Here, the lack of character development and his lack of anything else to do but fire guns, save Trinity from the evil clutches of the awesome Agent Smith, and fly like Superman, only made clearer his immense disability to say a few simple lines with that tricky thing called emotions. He expressed his love for Trinity, and I thought he was ordering a pizza or asking directions to the toilet. Reeves would be much better off without seemingly complex emotional scenes for him to handle, scenes that would other be handled with ease by a better, more profound actor.
The rest of the main cast, fortunately, were okay, although they seemed to have got slightly more pretentious and annoying. Still, Agent Smith was the highlight of the movie (although that scene with hundreds of him was a huge joke to me), and the direct element that made me stay on and not walk out after I fell asleep for the 20th time. There is just something so compelling about the way Hugo Weaving snarls at Neo and morphs into people that it makes you rather excited to see the kind of havoc he'd be up to next. If there were to be a movie with Agent Smith as its protagonist, I'd definitely pay to see it.
Keep Keanu Reeves out though. And while we're at that, keep the overall senselessness of "Reloaded" out, too.
A sorely disappointing sequel, even worse than what I'd originally expected. A shame to the first movie.
Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
Pointless, but fun
I got bored of studying "Julius Caesar" so I watched this. I wouldn't say much, except that I found the movie to be incredibly pointless, but entertaining. I liked that guy with the floppy hair who lusted after Katie (I think that's her name?). He is a total loser, but he's really kind of sweet, kind of cute, so...And I have always appreciated Janeane Garofalo's sarcasm. I loved her in "Clay Pigeons" (though no one can detract my attention from the lovely Joaquin Phoenix), and wanted her to smash Uma Thurman's face with a big cake in "The Truth About Cats and Dogs". I think she was the best in this film, right next to Chris Meloni, who was hilarious.
I'm not sure if this movie had a actual plot. Its characters and their motives are completely unclear (example: the Katie-Andy-Guy-with-floppy-hair thing), and I found myself going, "What in the world?" at the TV set many a times. But I did enjoy watching it. It was stupid, and Chris Meloni was hilarious. I don't really care about anything else.
THE best fantasy epic of all time
I hate Star Wars. Granted, I have never seen any of the films, but seeing clips from it during various awards ceremonies and things like that tell me I never want to see any of them, the originals included. I'm also not a big fan of fantasy films, so it was pretty damn daring of me to make that statement in the summary box.
The thing is, The Fellowship of the Ring just REEKS with brilliance. Every single second of the movie is astounding, from the first battlefield scene until the last few scenes. I don't need to watch any other fantasy flicks to know that this is the best.
Now, I'm not a Tolkien reader. I bought "FOTR" after watching the film and watching a National Geographic documentary on his life. I've owned the book for maybe 3 months now, and so far I'm still at page 94, thereabout. But I have seen the movie 3 times. And each time, it just got better. Peter Jackson deserves all the best director awards the industry could ever give for his beautiful masterpiece. How he managed not to get the Golden Globe for Best Director is beyond me. Actually, how anyone can think that this picture is anything but brilliant is beyond me. 3-hours too long? Hell no. 3-hours too short.
I truly hope the Academy awards Mr. Jackson for his great eye for detail, and all-round awesome direction, and I sincerely think this movie is Best Picture material. The acting is also superb. I've always liked Elijah Wood, but I loved him in this. Not only are his eyes beautiful, he is able to speak volumes with them. I don't understand how the Academy and the rest have managed to overlook him for a Best Actor award. Orlando Bloom is devastatingly gorgeous as Legolas. He has captured the hearts of teenaged girls the whole world over, myself included. You can't blame us. Legolas is the perfect man you'd want by your side in times of danger. His movements are agile, like a cat's, and you couldn't tell in the movie that Bloom has taken only 2 (or was it 3?) months of archery classes. My only gripe about the character was that there wasn't much developement in the movie. I hope we'd get to see more of Legolas in the coming two movies, which I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE. Viggo Mortensen was dashingly handsome as Aragorn, Sir Ian McKellan radiated gentleness and his Best Supporting SAG award was well-deserved, and the hobbits were excellent. You simply cannot fault the acting, or any other aspects of this movie. I love everything about the film, from its breath-taking sceneries to the grotesque appearances of the orcs to Howard Shore's beautiful music. EVERYTHING!
The only -- and I truly mean only -- negative thing I have to say about the trilogy is that they're making me wait an entire year for the next part. It's like feeding me a piece of delicious cake and taking the rest away, and then telling me, "You'd get the next bite next year." The cake is lovely, and I want to eat it whole, all at once.
And to anyone who wonders why "FOTR" is best picture material: it draws you in, it makes you care whether the characters lived or died, and it gets under your skin and refuses to leave until the whole movie is over. It stays in your mind when it's over, and you know you want to go back and relive every moment of that wonderful journey you were a part of. Three times.
All hail "The Lord of the Rings".